2009 Los Angeles Dodgers Season Outlook
It's been a busy and tumultuous offseason for the Los Angeles Dodgers thanks to "Manny being Manny."
Of course, we are referring to outfielder Manny Ramirez, who team acquired in a trade with the Boston Red Sox right before last year's deadline. All Ramirez did was single-handedly carry the Dodgers to the National League West crown and a spot in the National League Championship series.
Ramirez was looking to cash in on a huge day, hoping for a deal in the neighborhood of four years for $100 million. Instead, he found himself in a tough situation as the economy continued to tumble.
Finally, the two sides came to an agreement on a two-year contract worth $45 million. That's probably a great deal for the Dodgers because it will force Ramirez to put up monster numbers over the next two years if he wants to get one more big payday before he hangs it up.
The Dodgers did lose pitcher Derek Lowe and infielder Nomar Garciaparra to free agency, although they weren't so interested in re-signing the latter.
However, I think they will miss Lowe more than they believe they will. He was well worth the money during his time with the Dodgers and was always ready to take the ball and pitch well every fifth day.
The starting rotation lost another solid performer in veteran right-hander Brad Penny. After an outstanding 2007 campaign, last year was a complete disaster for the starter. Penny fought injuries all year and had an ERA over 5.
Chad Billingsley will take over as the team's ace, and I think he is more than capable of fulfilling that role. He had a breakout 2008 season and should only get better with a solid year under his belt.
The Dodgers will also lean heavily on highly touted rookie Clayton Kershaw, who struggled in limited outings at the major league level last season. He is just 22, so expect him to grow by leaps and bounds in the next couple of years.
The Dodgers also let Takashi Saito walk in the offseason, meaning Jonathan Broxton is set to take over as the everyday closer. Broxton is probably the more talented of the two but lacked the experience of Saito.
In a weak division, the Dodgers should battle the Arizona Diamondbacks for the title and likely the only playoff spot to come from the NL West.