Los Angeles Dodgers: Assessment Position by Position
SP: Clayton Kershaw
Kershaw should be dominating, one day; In fact, I believe he will be as early as the second half of this season. Look for him to post around the same ERA (2.79-2.90) as last year, but with about 30 to 35 more innings pitched (200-205). Joe Torre is respected as being a very baseball-intelligent man, and he compared Kershaw to Sandy Koufax. That is a high praise for someone who respects Sandy as much as anyone who has seen him play.
C: Russell Martin
Martin had the worst season of his career last year. He is a focused young talent who loves the home run. It is sometimes very hard to re-teach an approach at the plate, but Russell has changed his physique dramatically this time around. I believe he will put up fairly potent stats in 2010.
His stolen bases may go down to about six or nine swiped bags, while his batting average could rise by 10 to 25 points (.260-.275). Russell has great determination and is a leader of the team: now it's time for him to earn his money.
1B: James Loney
James is going to be 26 in May; he has most definitely not reached his prime. He is a Gold Glove-caliber defender, and has batted predominately in the .280 region. Should the trend of Dodgers hitters developing continue, Loney should be ready to hit over 20 HRs and eclipse 100 RBI. He may become a Dodgers great at first base should he stay with the club for a long period of time.
2B: Blake DeWitt/ Ronnie Belliard
Blake DeWitt is the right man for the job. He would bring a left handed, 10 to 15 HR threat to second base. Plus he has the potential to be an All-Star in about three years, given an everyday job.
He can hit, always has, and probably always will while he stays healthy. Work ethic counts for a lot in baseball and this guy is full of it. His upside is tremendous.
Ronnie put up great numbers and was as solid as he could be expected last year. He will make for a good backup plan should DeWitt falter. Although, you may see his stock rise as long as he stays happy in this big market setting.
3B: Casey Blake
Consistent, professional, and tough, Blake brings attributes to the club that are far more potent than his HR total. He is building on his career average mark every year, showing that he is steadily getting smarter. That makes for a good combination, with him still being in good enough physically shape to play near every day. He brings a sense of leadership and calm to a young and feisty club; invaluable.
SS: Rafael Furcal
Raffy has had a rough couple of years battling injuries. Last year could be a sign that he's declining, or just simply uncomfortable mentally with his back. Either way, he needs to overcome whatever it was that happened last year. Furcal is a solid catalyst, and when he succeeds, so does the team.
LF: Manny Ramirez
Manny wasn't Manny last year, but don't let this fool you: He was a Hall of Famer before the positive test for heightened testosterone. A man's legacy may have been saved due to the media's coverage of the steroid era, making Manny's test results not really much of a surprise. This year gives him an opportunity to redeem himself. We'll see what script Hollywood has for Manny in his final season.
CF: Matt Kemp
Kemp is a beast with a bunch of potential. Nicknamed the Bison, I personally see him as the future face of the franchise. Determined and more focused then ever, Matt could be primed for an MVP season. He has hovered around .300 the last two years, and recently passed the 30-30 plateau. This kid should have a year that will steal the headlines. Prediction: .312 AVG, 36 HR, 47 SB, 105 RBI, 202 H, 118 R, 31 doubles, 10 triples.
RF: Andre Ethier
Everybody tends to think each year is Andre's peak year. I believe that Ethier will put together an All-Star season next year, and will win a Gold Glove. His defense is growing steadier, and his ability to pull the ball has now grown exponentially. He should hit roughly 35 to 38 HRs. With Furcal and Kemp in front of him, and Manny behind, this should be a mighty season for Andre.
RP: Jonathan Broxton
Brox is a massive human being, and a force on the mound. He can hit 100 mph, and dominates lefties with a devastating slider. Fantasy baseball has him as the No. 1 closer for a reason.
He posted a sub-2.65 ERA last season with 114 strikeouts. Also, look for how the veterans will influence the young mind, via Dodgers closer Eric Gagne. He should be poised for a gutty 2010 season.
You too can assess the Dodgers. My take is that they are primed for an extraordinary year, capable of defeating a worthy rival in the Philadelphia Phillies. Only time will tell.
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