As you know, voting for the 2009 All-Star game is already under way. Like last year, the Brewers fans have come out in full force. I’m not going to simply whine about the method of selecting players, even though it is extremely faulty. I just want to share my opinion on the players I deem deserving. While Albert Pujols is playing in the NL, no other 1st basemen really stands a chance. He is the best player in baseball hands down. However, fans are showing no love for the 2nd best 1st basemen in the NL, Adrian Gonzalez. Joey Votto is an extremely talented player and should garner some votes, as should James Loney for his clutch hitting and outstanding defense. Prince Fielder is great, as is Ryan Howard, but no 1st basemen is close to the level of Albert Pujols. Chase Utley is the perennial favorite at 2nd, but I think that Orlando Hudson deserves to start, as he plays as good defense as Utley and hits for a higher average. ODogg doesn’t hit for much power but he is extremely clutch and a professional hitter. Hanley Ramirez is the obvious choice at SS, although Miguel Tejada has been playing out of his mind all year. At 3rd Base, David Wright is great, although his power numbers haven’t come around yet. Ryan Zimmerman is definitely underrated, as is Casey Blake. Blake is batting 305 with 9 homers and 34 RBI’s, great numbers, FROM THE 8TH SPOT IN THE LINEUP, while playing solid defense. I am truly sick of seeing Alfonso Soriano in the outfield at the All-Star game. Not to knock him as a player, but he is far too inconsistent and has horrible plate discipline and is a sub-par defensive player with a strong arm. Beltran, Braun, Pence, Kemp, Pierre, Dunn, Ibanez are all more deserving than he is. Catcher is somewhat of a toss-up. McCann is the cream of the crop. Martin has been average, Yadier should get consideration for defense and being on the host Cardinals, Molina is underrated, Carlos Ruiz is underrated, Jason Kendall is overrated. Santana should start the game, with Billingsley, Haren, Lincecum, Gallardo, Wandy, Josh Johnson, Peavy, Cain, Lowe, and Wolf all deserving of a spot as well. Bullpen should consist of KRod, Broxton, Bell, Troncoso, Franklin. I’m sure I have left out plenty of deserving players, but that is just my two cents. 

Spring Training is Fast Approaching!

I can believe how close we are to the
beginning of the 09 season. I am really starting to get back
into baseball mode (as if I ever stopped). Not a whole lot
has changed regarding the Dodgers roster. To this date we
have resigned Casey Blake and Rafael Furcal to 3 year deals.
We have added Mark Loretta for bench depth and infield
versatility. We have bolstered the bullpen by adding
Guillermo Mota (holding my breath on that move). Shawn Estes
and Claudio Vargas have a shot at making the big club out of
Spring Training. Nothing new on the Manny front. However it
seems like most of the Giants chatter has died down. I still
find it hard to believe he will be wearing anything other
than Dodger blue for the next 2 or 3 years. I can see the
Giants making a legitimate offer if Manny’s price drops to
2yrs/18-20million, however the Dodgers will surely top that
if need be. Manny’s bat in the lineup seems like a neccessity
if we are to advance deep into October. It seems we have
narrowed our free-agent pitching choices to Garland and Wolf.
Out of the two I am not really sold on either one. Garland
would be more durable and is younger by about 4 years. His
era should drop significantly in the weak NL West. However he
may be more expensive and require a longer pact. I like Wolf
but im not sure if I can handle another solid starter on the
DL. I would love if Schmidt could rebound and stay healthy
but that seems like a longshot. I would be relatively
confident in the squad we have right now playing a full year.
Pierre can man Left Field and we can set up a competition for
the remaining 2 spots in the rotation between Schmidt,
Troncoso, McDonald, Vargas and Estes. However that squad wont
last in the playoffs barring rapid improvement and growth
from Loney and Kemp and Ethier and a bump in power and
consistency from Martin. Hopefully we can come to terms with
Manny in the next 2 or 3 weeks and sign Wolf or Garland then
come together as a team in the Spring and defend our NL West
title. I will update as we add some new

Hall of Fame

Just a quick post. Congratulations are in order for Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice for making the Hall. Pretty interesting how Rickey makes it in his first attempt and Rice makes it in his 15th and final (not including Veteran’s committee). Also wanted to congratulate Vin Scully on winning the Best Sportscaster of the All-Time award. Anyone thats watched or listened to a LA or Brooklyn Dodgers game, playoff game, World Series game or Masters Golf Tourney knows that there isn’t a man alive or dead who is more deserving of this award than Vin. Can’t wait to hear Scully start the season off with “It’s time for Dodger Baseball” for the 60TH YEAR!!.  Go Dodgers

Beyond 2009

As excited as I am about 2009 to get under
way, I can’t help but get even more excited for things to
come beyond 2009. While the Dodgers may not have the best
farm system in the MLB like we have in the past, I can’t find
another team with such talented youngsters at the major
league level. Russel Martin is a top-4 catcher along with
Soto and McCann and Mauer. He has been an All-Star his first
2 seasons in the bigs. He won a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger
award while starting the Mid-Summer Classic in 2007. Not to
mention the fact he has only been catching for 4 years and is
an above-average defensive 3rd basemen. James Loney has about
the sweetest swing in the game today. He is without a doubt a
future Gold Glover and possible batting champion. He projects
to consistently put up a 300/25/100 line with about a 370obp
and 500slug. Andre Ethier is quickly becoming one of my
favorite Dodgers. He showed how lethal he can be with Manny
hitting behind him in 08. Last year, his first full year, he
put up 305/20/77. He was top 3 in outfield assists and covers
ground well in right field. Matt Kemp is the one player I
literally cannot wait to see in the next few years. While he
strikes out his fair share, he’s fully capable of putting up
consistent 300/30/125 numbers while stealing 30+ bags and has
a rocket for an arm. He is the epitome of a 5-tool player and
I think will be an elite player in 2 or 3 years. Chad
Billingsley has already made it as a dominating pitcher. Even
with a dreadful 0-5 start with an era north of 5, he managed
to finish 16-10 with a 3.15 era. This guy has ACE stuff and
will be a hot commodity if the Dodgers don’t manage to lock
him up before his free-agent years. Clayton Kershaw is one
guy who has yet to show what he can do at the Major League
level. While he had a decent 2008 campaign, I totally expect
him to put up solid numbers in 2009. Something along the
lines of 14 wins, 3.5 era and 200+ k’s. This kid is the top
lefty prospect this side of David Price. Projects to be THE
Lefty in the years to come. Those are the true young STARS
the Dodgers boast. Not to mention May’s Rookie of the Month
Blake DeWitt, James McDonald and Ramon Troncoso who should
continue to progress in 09. I challenge you to find a team
with a better nucleus of talented youngsters in the game.
With Catcher, 1st Base, 2nd Base, RF, CF, an ACE and a
projected ACE all under control for 3+ years, the future for
the Dodgers is EXTREMELY bright.

Get Your Facts Straight!

This blog goes out to all of you San Francisco Giants fans out there. I am a huge fan of the rivalry between the Dodgers and Giants. I think its great for baseball and great for our two cities. However, I have been amazed at the amounth of trash and lies I have seen on the blogoshphere in recent days with all of the rumors regarding Manny Ramirez. As if we needed another reason to despise one another, you throw the mercurial slugger into a bidding war and it has gotten downright brutal. Lets set the record straight: The Dodgers have been the better team in recent years, going back to 2002. The Dodgers have been in the postseason 3 out of the last five years, while the Giants have had 4 consecutive losing seasons. The Dodgers were obviously the better team last year even pre-“Mannywood”. The Dodgers, (barring Manny trading in Dodger-blue for Giant-orange) will be the better team next year. It amazes me how many Giants fans think they are the favorite to win the West. I realize it is a weak division but give me a break. You were either last or in the bottom 3 in virtually every offensive category last year. Your pitching staff, as presently constructed, is superior to the Dodgers, however your offense is anemic. If you look at the lineups for both teams, the Dodgers have the advantage at every position except maybe left field. Martin is better than Molina, Loney is better than Ishikawa, Dewitt is better than Burriss, Furcal is better than Renteria, Blake and Sandoval are pretty close when you factor in defense, Ethier is better than Wynn, Kemp is much better than Rowand, and left field is a crapshoot with Manny. l like the changes the Giants have made this year. I really do. But adding a fringe-average shortstop with declining defense and offense, two average relievers and Randy Johnson aren’t going to add 14 or 15 wins. At this time, the Dodgers should be considered to win the NL West again, and if we do add Manny, then I predict a relatively easy regular season barring significant injuries. As a giants fan, I would be thinking 2010 because otherwise you are simply getting your hopes up.

Breaking Down the Offseason

As all fans know, this has been an agonizingly slow offseason to this point. While some big name free agents have signed (CC, Tex, K-rod), most fans are still waiting to see their team start to take shape. As a Dodger fan, I have mixed emotions on how the offseason has progressed thus far. I am excited to have Casey Blake controlling the hot corner for a full season. Rafael Furcal, when healthy, is an absolute pleasure to watch as a fan. If he can keep himself on the field, we should have no problem scoring runs with the likes of Loney, Martin, Ethier and Kemp ready to drive Furcal in. I think Mark Loretta is a great complimentary player and will be a blessing in disguise should Furcal re-injure himself or Blake Dewitt struggle early. However, it is apparent there is still plenty of work to do. Unlike many Dodger fans, I have faith in Ned Colletti. If there is anyone who worries me it is Frank McCourt. I just dont feel comfortable with his apparent inability and unwillingness to spend money. Im not here to argue that we should have forked over 180 million for Tex or 160 million for CC. I just feel that since the majority of our lineup consists of young players making just over league minimum, we have to be able to spend the money on quality players to compliment our roster. I would like to see the Dodger go after Andy Pettite now that Randy Johnson is no longer available. I am optimistic that Clayton Kershaw will be an absolutely dominating pitcher in the years to come. However, just like how Larry Bowa feels the Dodgers need Manny to help in the progression of the younger hitters, I think we need a successful veteran lefty not only to strengthen the rotation but to mentor Clayton. While many think Petitte will be too expensive for the kind of production recieved in return, there is a feeling around baseball that he isn’t against taking 10 million or less from other teams. The balk at 10 million seems to be unique to the Yanks. I also wouln’t mind them making a run at Ben Sheets. Though Ben’s history of injuries isn’t news to anyone, the man has overwhelming stuff. Even though he had arm trouble at the end of the 08 season, he did make 31 starts which is a high in his career. With the plummeting free agent market, Sheets can be had for a reasonable salary in what could be a high reward signing. I am confident in Billz, Kuroda and Kershaw as the starting 3 in our rotation for 09. After that trio, however, many uncertainties remain. I would love for Schmidt to come back healthy and try and salvage what has been a bust of a contract so far. Stultz is too inconsistent to be in the rotation unless he gets more agressive and develops his changeup. I’d like to see James McDonald and Ramon Troncoso get a shot to start in spring training. Unless we sign a Ben Sheets or a Andy Petitte or a Wolf or Garland, I am worried our rotation won’t be solid enough to make up for a slightly above average offense. Of course we could always sign that Manny Ramirez guy and just dominate the West and look towards a rematch with an improved Cubs squad. I look forward to analyzing more Dodger moves in the weeks to come.