Los Angeles Dodgers

Manager: Don Mattingly
Stadium: Dodger Stadium
2008 Record: 84-78 (1st in NL West)
Team Page | Roster | Schedule

LINEUP

'08: Batting | Runs (13th in NL)
PLAYER B POS
Rafael Furcal B SS
Orlando Hudson B 2B
Manny Ramirez R LF
James Loney L 1B
Andre Ethier L RF
Russell Martin R C
Matt Kemp R CF
Casey Blake R 3B
OFF THE BENCH
Blake DeWitt L INF
Juan Pierre L OF

PITCHING

'08: Pitching | ERA (1st in NL)
ROTATION T POS
Hiroki Kuroda R SP1
Chad Billingsley R SP2
Randy Wolf L SP3
Clayton Kershaw L SP4
James McDonald R SP5
BULLPEN
Guillermo Mota R Setup
Hong-Chih Kuo R Setup
Jonathan Broxton R Closer
 
It took an exhausting 141 days, but when Manny Ramirez finally re-signed with the Dodgers, on March 4, they became the prohibitive favorite to win the NL West again. "Offensively, you can put this team with some of the best in recent years," says new second baseman Orlando Hudson. The offense starts with Ramírez but hardly ends there: Casey Blake (.274/21/81 last year) is batting eighth in this lineup. Hudson, who signed an incentive-laden one-year deal in February, had a .367 OBP for Arizona in 2008, and he and Rafael Furcal should be an effective tandem atop the order. The Dodgers also expect to see some gains from their young hitters, particularly 24-year-old center fielder Matt Kemp. Playing his first full season as a regular, he showed a unique blend of power (61 extra-base hits) and speed (35 steals) last year, and he looks primed for a 2009 breakout. So even if Manny doesn't hit .396, like he did after being traded to L.A. at the deadline, the Dodgers will have no problem scoring runs. Don't worry about that so-so rotation -- until October.
-- Tim Kurkjian

ESPN The Magazine's Dodgers preview Insider

PROSPECTS

HITTER TO WATCH:

Xavier Paul could help as a fourth outfielder or as the heavy part of a corner outfield platoon. There's no other hitter close to helping the Dodgers at the big league level.

PITCHER TO WATCH:

James McDonald appears to be the team's fifth starter; he's a command right-hander with a great changeup and an above-average curveball who pitches aggressively.
-- Keith Law, Scouts Inc.

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SPORTSNATION

Will Manny Ramirez be the top left fielder in the National League in 2009? What about Rafael Furcal at shortstop, or James Loney at first base? Do the Dodgers have the NL's best starting lineup? Register your vote.

NL poll page

Featured Comment

They have no competition in a weak division. Manny Ramirez and company will play with swagger and overcome any team that may challenge team.


bravesgirl85

National League fan previews

FANTASY

SLEEPER

Young southpaw Clayton Kershaw is showing the potential for improved command this season, and two plus secondary pitches will help him rack up the strikeouts. He can take a big leap forward.

BUST

Despite some decent numbers in Houston last season, a favorable park, and a spot in the starting rotation, Randy Wolf's inconsistent control and command, as well as his unreliability, will come back to bite his fantasy owners.
--Jason Grey

INJURIES

With all the concern apparent in Dodgerland when it initially seemed as if Manny Ramirez might not be signed in 2009, there had to be similar concern when Manny was sidelined by a hamstring strain almost as soon as he joined the team. No doubt beads of collective sweat began to form in the Dodgers' front office. That concern has been for the most part alleviated as Manny has returned to both hitting and fielding duties. But, you may ask, don't hamstring problems tend to recur? Yes (more beads of sweat), but in this case, there are several things working in the Dodgers' favor. First, the injury was a minor strain. Second, because of the timing of the World Baseball Classic, Manny could actually be brought along more slowly, limiting his running early in his recovery, enhancing the healing process. Third, the Dodgers have an all-star medical staff. Relax. Manny can just be Manny.
-- Stephania Bell

MORE

30 Questions: Can Jonathan Broxton be a top-flight closer?

PRESEASON POWER RANKINGS

  • Jayson Stark

    Stark
    8th overall
    1st in
    NL West

  • Tim Kurkjian

    Kurkjian
    7th overall
    1st in
    NL West

  • Buster Olney

    Olney
    19th overall
    1st in
    NL West

  • Rob Neyer

    Neyer
    7th overall
    1st in
    NL West

  • Jim Caple

    Caple
    13th overall
    2nd in
    NL West