2010 Los Angeles Dodgers Season Preview
The Los Angeles Dodgers jumped out to an early lead in the National League West last year and cruised to the division title.
This year, don't expect things to be so easy for the Dodgers, who are still considered the heavy favorite to win the division.
Los Angeles is an interesting team because of all of the young talent they showcase around the diamond.
Big things are expected this year out of outfielder Matt Kemp, who many feel will be one of the top players at his position. Kemp has that rare combination of power and speed that organizations covet.
When it comes to the outfield, it's hard not to talk about All-Star Manny Ramirez. Ramirez, who believes the Dodgers won't re-sign him after the season, will get in a full year after being suspended in 2009 for using performance-enhancing drugs.
It's a contract year for Ramirez, who is still one of the most dangerous hitters in the game. I would expect him to put up monster numbers even if he is starting to get up there a little bit in age.
First baseman James Loney is another young Dodger who has a promising future. He doesn't hit for power as much as some would hope for a corner infielder, but he does sport a high average and plays excellent defense.
Russell Martin is tremendous behind the plate, but the Dodgers have to be concerned about his poor numbers in 2009. The young catcher isn't declining because of age, so maybe he just couldn't get things going for whatever reason.
The starting rotation is, imagine this, young and talented as well. Chad Billingsley took a step back last year but still has the makings of the staff ace. It's a big year for Clayton Kershaw, who could supplant Billingsley as the team's top starter.
The back end of the rotation is filled with veteran pitchers like Hiroki Kuroda, Vicente Padilla, and Jeff Weaver. The Dodgers remain cautiously optimistic that they might finally get something out of Jason Schmidt this year as well.
The back end of the bullpen is very strong with George Sherrill operating out of the setup role and Jonathan Broxton closing out games. Good luck trying to score off of the Dodgers in the late innings.
The Dodgers are the heavy favorite in the N.L. West, as well they should be. They should win their division and challenge the Philadelphia Phillies for a chance to represent the N.L. in the World Series.