Offseason In Review: Los Angeles Dodgers

Next up in our Offseason In Review series, the Dodgers.  Here's what we wrote about them on October 22nd. Changes for 2009:

Additions:  Manny Ramirez (re-signed), Rafael Furcal (re-signed), Casey Blake (re-signed), Orlando Hudson, Randy Wolf, Guillermo Mota, Will Ohman, Claudio Vargas, Brad Ausmus, Mark Loretta, Doug Mientkiewicz, Eric Milton, Jeff Weaver, Charlie Haeger, Ronald Belisario, Tanyon Sturtze (re-signed), Shawn Estes, Juan Castro

Subtractions:  Derek Lowe, Brad Penny, Chan Ho Park, Joe Beimel, Greg Maddux, Jeff Kent, Nomar Garciaparra, Mark Sweeney, Andruw Jones, Scott Proctor, Takashi Saito, Angel Berroa, Jason Johnson

As expected, it was an eventful offseason for the Dodgers.  All the shuffling actually led to an $18MM reduction in Opening Day payroll.

Last year the Dodgers ranked 13th in the NL with 4.32 runs scored per game.  The '09 lineup will not feature Kent, Jones, Berroa, or Garciaparra.  It will hopefully have full seasons of Ramirez, Furcal, Blake, and Hudson.  The revamped lineup projects to score a healthy 4.98 runs per game, according to CHONE projections and the Baseball Musings lineup analysis tool.  Such production would've ranked 2nd in the NL last year.  GM Ned Colletti gave his offense a huge boost at a total commitment of less than $100MM for the four free agents.

The 2008 rotation ranked 3rd in the NL with a 3.87 ERA in 927.6 innings.  Colletti downgraded by replacing Lowe with Wolf, but he also committed $5MM instead of $60MM.  Clayton Kershaw and James McDonald will pick up the innings Penny, Maddux, Eric Stults, and Park consumed last year.  Using CHONE and my own innings approximations I have the '09 rotation posting a 4.16 ERA – still pretty good.  I don't think they need to worry about adding Pedro Martinez right now.  Maybe Colletti can go after a bigger fish at midseason if someone gets hurt.

The Dodgers had a sterling pen last year, with a 3.34 ERA in 519.6 innings.  The pen has a different look this year, with Mota and Ohman coming in and Park, Beimel, Saito, and Proctor gone.  The new bullpen projects at a 3.96 ERA.

Defensively the Dodgers ranked 10th in the NL last year according to The Fielding Bible II.  Despite more Manny I think they've improved overall given the keystone combo of Hudson and Furcal.

I see the Dodgers currently as a 91-92 win team, which should be enough to hold off the Diamondbacks and perhaps Giants.

Bottom line: Colletti dove headfirst into free agency and, for once, emerged a victor.  The Dodgers' new offense should be among the best in the league, and they'll reach the playoffs with decent pitching.

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