There hasn't been a World Series in Chavez Ravine for 22 years. The Los Angeles Dodgers have a better team than their record has shown. Coming off two consecutive division titles and making it to the League Championship Series both years against the same team, the Philadelphia Phillies, the team is ready to climb the same hill, only this time reach the other side.
With spring training drawing to a close, the fans are getting anxious to watch their team compete to be the next World Series Champion. The Dodgers have a decent shot at winning a lot of games this season. It is unlikely, however, that they'll win 95 games this season, but only time will tell. Last minute deals last season helped the Blue Crew tremendously and eventually made them the best team in the National League.
The 25 man roster is not clear yet and with two weeks remaining in exhibition games, it will be cut pretty soon. L.A. still lacks a little in the starting rotation, but it seems that every year, players will step up to the plate to give it all they have and predictions early in the year end up being completely wrong.
"It's not only the fifth, it's spots on the staff," said Joe Torre. "That's what we're looking at right now. We're not as concerned about who the fifth starter is. Whether it's 11 or 12 [pitchers], it's who the guys are." (Gurnick)
Predictions for this season:
* = DL or questionable to making the team
Chad Billingsley, Jonathon Broxton, Clayton Kershaw, Hong-Chih Kuo, Hiroki Kuroda, Carlos Monasterios, George Sherrill, Ramon Troncoso, Vicente Padilla, *Ronald Belisario, *Cory Wade, *James McDonald, *Eric Stults, Charlie Haeger
other options all *
Josh Lindblom, Jeff Weaver, Russ Ortiz, Luis Ayala, Justin Miller
*Russel Martin, Brad Ausmus, A.J. Ellis
Infield - from 3b to 1b
Casey Blake, Jamie Carrol, Rafael Furcal, Chin-Lung Hu, Blake DeWitt, Ronnie Belliard, James Loney
Outfield - from Lf to Rf
Manny Ramirez, Reed Johnson, *Garret Anderson, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier
To talk about starting pitching, right now the rotation is set in this order: Kershaw, Billingsley, Kuroda, Padilla, and "?"
Kershaw and Billingsley should have brilliant seasons. Both should win at least 10 games and strike out at least 180 batters. Kuroda and Padilla are a gamble. Kuroda is known for injuries and is not always consistent. Padilla pitched lights out last season for the Dodgers, but his track record doesn't show that he's consistent either.
I expect Kuroda to maybe win 10 games and strike out 120 batters or so and have around a 3.5 ERA. Padilla is definitely a question mark. If he continues the way he pitched last season, then he'll probably win over 10 games, but if he leaves the ball up, then his ERA will go back to his normal five runs per inning.
The fifth starting spot is still up in the air right now. It could be anyone. The most likely candidate is a veteran of some sort. Torre has expressed that he wants a veteran in the five hole but with so many young talented players, that doesn't look like a possibility.
When it comes to the bullpen, Broxton will still be closing it out in the ninth along with Sherrill in the eighth and Troncoso in the seventh. The bullpen should still be strong. The perfect scenario for every game would have the game over in the seventh inning on.
In the infield, there are a lot of question marks. I am not expecting much from Martin this year only because I've seen him progressively get worse as time goes on. His arm isn't very accurate, he lost all power, and he lost where the strike zone is when he's hitting. I don't even want to guess how he'll do because he could stay the same, or he could end up recovering from a two-year slump.
Casey Blake won't play every day and I'm sure Carrol will get some at-bats. Blake should hit around 15 homers with at least a .270 avg, and drive in some runs. Furcal should hit a few homers and hopefully at least hit over .270 as compared to last season when he hit .269.
At second base there are DeWitt and Belliard. Both can hit the ball well. It will probably change very frequently who plays there determined by whoever is pitching. Both will put up a few homers and hit around .250 to .270.
James Loney has been very consistent his last two seasons with almost the exact same numbers. Hitting coach Don Mattingly has been trying to help Loney with his power. If his teachings work, we could possibly see 15 to 20 homers from Loney, a .280 batting average, and knocking in more than 90 runs.
Most of the offensive production will probably come from the outfielders this year. Ramirez, with the last year on his contract, will probably have a very good season with free agency looming. He'll probably hit around 30 to 35 home runs and knock in a ton of runs with a very good average.
Matt Kemp should have a very exciting year. I look forward to seeing him hit at least 25-30 home runs, stealing at least 30 bases, and driving in 90-100 runs. I'm thinking this is the breakout year for Kemp and his first all-star season.
Andre Ethier showed an amazing amount of power last season and he'll probably do the same this season. As a clutch hitter, he'll knock in maybe 100 runs or more, and hit 25-30 home runs. Look forward to all three starting outfielders to show off their strength in the 2010 season.
There's my predictions on the 2010 season for the Dodgers. I'm thinking they'll win 82 to 90 wins at most. If they make deals during the season, those numbers can easily change. Of course, all of these predictions are barring injuries. We all saw how fast the season turned around in 2005 when most of the team was lost to injuries.
Look forward to another great, exciting year at Dodger Stadium in 2010. Who knows, they might actually make it or win the 2010 World Series.