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Spring's opening lineup

Here's your first-game-of-spring lineup for the Dodgers against the White Sox on Friday afternoon. It might not prove to be all that different from opening day:

Rafael Furcal, shortstop
Matt Kemp, center
Andre Ethier, right
Manny Ramirez, DH
James Loney, first
Casey Blake, third
Blake DeWitt, second
Russell Martin, catcher
Reed Johnson, left
Vicente Padilla, pitcher

-- Steve Dilbeck
Comments () | Archives (2)

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The main reason I’ve been a real cynic about our chances this year revolves primarily around our starting pitching. I think our position players are not quite as good this year due to the loss of O-Rod and the diminshing skills of geezers like Manny and Blake. I also don’t expect Russell Martin to stop his nose dive offensively. These shortcomings can be compensated for by overall continued improvement of Ethier, Kemp and Loney. It would be nice to see DeWitt break out, but I’m not holding my breath. I think Furcal will look more like the shortstop we thought we were getting and less like the emerging geezer he’s looked like the last couple of yeaers due to his surgically repaired back.

Pitching is where I think we’ll have some real problems. Not in the pen–which will again be our strength. Our rotation is severely weakened by the loss of the "Wolfie One" and the deterioration of Bills and Kuroda. Last year it did not appear that anyone from the farm was likely to step in and step up. If Kuroda and Bills continue to decline we will not make the playoffs. If one of them, (most likely Bills between the two), returns to form we’ll probably make “wild card”. Only of both of them step up will we be anywhere near as strong as we were last season before the two of them went into the tank. We aren't going to have someone like Padilla drop into our laps to make up for the loss of those two like happened last year because this year Padilla is the Wolf Man.

And I think we need to find a diamond in the rough from the diamonds on the farm to have a real chance to win the series. In my mind that would require the emergence of a 5th starter. I think the most likely candidate for that role would be to give Haeger a real shot at it because of the effectiveness of a knuckle ball pitcher on a team with so many pitchers who throw primarily gas and breaking balls. I’m not holding my breath on this because I don’t believe Torre will give him a chance because he does not trust knuckle ball pitchers.

If Haeger is given his shot and not lost because he’s out of options and if Gagne makes it all the way back as well, I expect the team will definitely compete in the series. If, in addition, the kids step up and Manny plays as well as he did in 2008, Furcal returns to form and Blake doesn’t start geezing before the end of August, we’ll win it all. You heard it hear first! A long shot? You bet. But no longer than the 1988 Dopdger team. ;)

ethier is already in mid-season form: ofer 3, 2 strikeouts & a runner LOB. Keep up the great work journ'e'y...


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