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What's Going On Dodgers?
So the guys are in Vero Beach now, and now my sphincter pulsates in anticipation for March 31: Opening Day at Dodger Stadium.
This spring training should prove very interesting despite Jeff Kent opening his yap. Here are some story lines to follow:
Tommy Lasorda will manage eight exhibition games. While Joe Torre takes a split squad to Beijing to play the San Diego Padres on March 14 and 15, Lasorda will have the remaining squad beginning March 11. According to the Dodgers website, the remaining split squad is expected to include Jeff Kent, Rafael Furcal, Slappy McPopup, Russell Martin and the starting rotation.
It will be really amusing to see Tommy chew out Jeff Kent and threaten to send Slappy to Tampa Bay. Oh and keep Tommy away from the pitchers. And speaking of pitchers….
Who will be in the starting rotation? It's pretty safe to assume that Brad Penny, Derek Lowe and Chad Billingsley will be starters, but who will round out the rest of the rotation? Recent Japanese import Hiroki Kuroda is projected to be a three or four starter, which leaves the last spot up for grabs. The question remains if Jason Schmidt and his threadbare shoulder will be able to pitch. And what about Esteban Loaiza? Hong-Chih Kuo? James McDonald? Jon Meloan? This next month will be interesting to see how this plays out.
Where will Slappy McPopup play? The answer I hope is on the pine. It's true he doesn't strike out often, but he sure as hell doesn't take a walk either. His on-base percentage last season was only 38 points higher than his batting average. In his career it's only 47 points higher. I said this many times last season, and I will stress it every time his name flashes through my mind: You can't steal first base. Which leads us to the $64,000 question.
What will be the lineup for the 2008 season? Here is my suggestion. As always it's subject to change. 1. Rafael Furcal (SS). 2. Russell Martin (C). 3. James Loney (1B). 4. Andruw Jones (CF). 5. Matt Kemp (RF). 6. Jeff Kent (2B). 7. Andre Ethier (LF). 8. Andy LaRoche (3B). 9. Pitcher's spot.
If Joe Torre has any sense about him, Slappy and NoMore GarciaPopUp will be warming the pine most of the season.
How are the Dodgers going to do in 2008? I can't say right now. First off I haven't even taken a look at the other teams in the division. And there are so many variables within the Dodgers. I'd like to think they will win the World Series in this 50th season in Los Angeles, but I'm not going to make any guarantees.
Now shhhh. I'm watching Project Runway.
AP Photo by (not Judge) Reinhold Matay