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Team Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers

I apologize for the slow week, I had some pre-existing priorities over at DRB, including launching our season preview guide, anyhow I'm back full time and here today to continue the NL previews.

2007 W-L: 82-80
2007 Pythag W-L: 82-80
2007 Payroll: ~108 mil
2008 Payroll: ~100 mil

Coming:Gary Bennett, Andruw  Jones, Hiroki Kuroda, Nook Logan

Going:  Luis Gonzalez, Mark Hendrickson, Mike Lieberthal, Randy Wolf

Sliding In: The Dodgers finished just one game over .500 last season, despite some stellar performances by Brad Penny and Russell Martin. Grady Little lost his job because of Joe Torre, again, and Ned Colletti attempted to buy low this off-season.

Speaking of Martin is there any questioning if the Dodgers made the right choice when they decided to deal Dioner Navarro instead of Martin two seasons ago? Not only is he young and really good, but he's also pretty durable, playing in 151 games last season. I believe I read not too long ago that Torre will give Martin more off-days, which makes sense, no use in Martin ending up like that other former Dodgers' catcher Mike Piazza later in his career. Gary Bennett will replace Mike Leiberthal as the reserve catcher.

James Loney and Jeff Kent isn't Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, but it's still damn good. Any given season could be the last for Kent - he'll turn 40 in a mere week - remember when he was a Blue Jay and Indian? Me neither. While Loney finally pushes Nomar Garciaparra out of his way another young corner infielder will have to do the same at third. Andy LaRoche wasn't overly impressive in his short major league voyage last season, but he probably should be the starter at third come March 31st, I guess the good news is Nomar will miss at least 40 games and even more if his declining 2007 play is any indication.

Rafael Furcal will need a bounce back season to hold off Chin-lung Hu, meanwhile Tony Abreu and Mark Sweeney will be key reserves. One of the smarter moves of Colletti's tenure and one of his worst will play side by side in the outfield as Juan Pierre figures to somehow take at-bats away from Matt Kemp and Andruw Jones mans center. Andre Ethier will hold down right with Delwyn Young and Jason Repko acting as bench hands.

Starting Rotation:
Brad Penny is really, really good, and Derek Lowe is in a walk year - if you believe that superstition - they'll be joined by some combination of Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda, Esteban Loaiza, and Jason Schmidt. You would figure the Dodgers could try and move one of the last two and apparently Schmidt is looking good, but he's not overly dependable anymore.

38 year old Takashi Saito will close games out for the Blue Crew with Jonathan Broxton, Yhency Brazoban, Jon Meloan, Joe Beimel, possibly Rudy Seanez, Mike Myers, and Tanyon Sturtze filling in the rest of the holes along with the man who will, with no doubt, lead the Torres in appearances; Scott Proctor.

The Hook:
They should be in the race for the playoffs, but I'm not sure if they'll have a seat at the table when all is said and done.