02/08/08 10:00 AM ET
Dodgers Spring Training quick hits
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
82-80, 4th Projected batting order
1. SS Rafael Furcal:
.270 BA, .333 OBP, .355 SLG, 6 HR, 47 RBI in 2007
2. LF Juan Pierre:
.293 BA, .331 OBP, .353 SLG, 0 HR, 41 RBI in 2007
3. C Russell Martin:
.293 BA, .374 OBP, .469 SLG, 19 HR, 87 RBI in 2007
4. CF Andruw Jones:
.222 BA, .311 OBP, .413 SLG, 26 HR, 94 RBI in 2007
5. 2B Jeff Kent:
.302 BA, .375 OBP, .500 SLG, 20 HR, 79 RBI in 2007
6. 1B James Loney:
.331 BA, .381 OBP, .538 SLG, 15 HR, 67 RBI in 2007
7. RF Matt Kemp:
.342 BA, .373 OBP, .521 SLG, 10 HR, 42 RBI in 2007
8. 3B Nomar Garciaparra:
.283 BA, .328 OBP, .371 SLG, 7 HR, 59 RBI in 2007
1. Brad Penny, 16-4, 3.03 ERA in 2007
2. Derek Lowe, 12-14, 3.88 in 2007
3. Chad Billingsley, 12-5, 3.31 in 2007
4. Hiroki Kuroda, 12-8, 3.56 in 2007 (Japan)
5. Esteban Loaiza, 2-4, 5.79 in 2007 Projected bullpen
Closer: Takashi Saito, 39/43 saves, 1.40 ERA in 2007
RH setup man: Jonathan Broxton, 2.85 ERA in 2007
LH setup man: Joe Beimel, 3.88 ERA in 2007 The new guys
Jones: He's coming off his worst season and critics say he had some all-time horrible at-bats. But supporters say his mechanics were fouled up when he tried to play through a hyperextended elbow. He's studied tape over the winter and says his swing is back. He doesn't need to hit 50 home runs to be an upgrade in this offense. Kuroda: They're only asking him to be a fourth starter. His Japan stats support Dodgers scouts who say he pitches like a pro and really bears down to get out of a jam, which makes him much like his fellow countryman and teammate, Saito. Gary Bennett: He was the first player mentioned in the Mitchell Report to sign. The Dodgers believe Martin needs more time off, and that new manager Joe Torre will be more comfortable spelling him with Bennett than Grady Little was with Mike Lieberthal. Prospects to watch
Clayton Kershaw: He might be the best young pitcher to come along in this organization since the Martinez brothers. That said, he'll only be 20 and his walk totals indicate he still needs work with his command. He's on the fast track, but that doesn't mean he'll win a job out of Spring Training. James McDonald: For all of the time and attention given to Kershaw, McDonald was the organization's Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2007. He had an unusual career path, spending one year as an outfielder to rest a tired arm. He's been a starter since returning to the mound, but he could sneak his way onto the big league staff as a long reliever. Delwyn Young: He's a hitter, and as a switch-hitter, he intrigues the club as a versatile bat off the bench. Defensively, he was too shaky in the infield and was sent to the outfield, where he's worked hard. He's out of options, which improves his chances of making the club. Chin-lung Hu: His bat came alive in 2007 after he added some muscle, and offense has always been his limitation because he's got the defensive tools of a Gold Glover at shortstop. If he keeps it up, he'll give the Dodgers an alternative to re-signing Rafael Furcal, a free agent after 2008. Returning from injury
Furcal: His 2007 was a mess from the bad ankle sprain he suffered in Spring Training that bothered him all season. He's also had occasional shoulder soreness and he was finished off with a lower back spasm. But he's been playing winter ball with no ill effects from any of the injuries. Jason Schmidt: His first season as a Dodger couldn't have been much worse. He looked hurt from the start of Spring Training, won only one game after signing for $47 million and ultimately had major shoulder surgery. Although he hasn't had a setback, there's no way to know what he can do until he starts throwing in games.
Loaiza: Claimed only two starts into a comeback from back and knee operations, he pitched for the Dodgers like he was still hurt. His velocity was way down and he was very hittable. The Dodgers must hope that a winter of rehab will return him to his 21-win form of 2003.Hong-Chih Kuo: Kuo's returning from elbow surgery. Imagine that -- it's the fourth one he's had. He has electric stuff for a left-hander, but he's as injury-prone as a pitcher can be. He's out of options, so if he's healthy, he almost has to make the club. Yhency Brazoban: Once upon a time, he was the future closer. But Tommy John elbow surgery and a shoulder repair have sidelined him for all but 6 2/3 innings over the past two years. Jason Repko: He missed the entire season with hamstring surgery, the latest in an endless string of injuries that have prevented Repko from making an impact. Now he needs to show he can stay healthy to even be considered as an extra outfielder. On the rebound
Jones: If he winds up somewhere between his best season and his worst, the Dodgers will consider his signing a success. Maybe the change of scenery -- and being reunited with good buddy Furcal -- will help. Furcal: Likewise, he should respond to being in the same lineup with Jones, his pal with the Braves. Mainly, though, he needs to stay healthy. He's got free agency approaching, and that sure brought out the best in him three years ago. Loaiza: His brief time with the Dodgers was pretty ugly, but those two operations earlier in the season are logical excuses. The big question is whether at age 36, he still has the physical ability to pitch competitively.
Garciaparra: He remained a fan favorite, even with a power loss that was stunning. Now he's got to fight for a starting third-base job with prospect Andy LaRoche. If he loses, he would seem to be ideally suited for a super utility role if he'll accept it, particularly with his clutch bat off the bench in late innings and the loss of right-handed hitter Olmedo Saenz.Schmidt: He just turned 35 and, aside from the obvious question of his health, scouts wonder if Schmidt will be willing to re-learn how to pitch if he can't rely on his customary hard stuff. Remember, there's still two years remaining on that huge contract. Lowe: His ERA jumped two runs in the second half, which included a seven-week win drought. A gamer who always takes the ball, he didn't deal well with a hip or groin injury, although they appeared to become fairly manageable as the season ended. It bears watching, however. Long gone
Randy Wolf: He gave the Dodgers a solid first half, then his shoulder gave out. He could cause the club further misery if he rebounds for the Padres. Mark Hendrickson: He had numerous chances to win a starting spot, but lacked the consistency. He was better utilized as a long reliever. David Wells: He was a savior for the pennant stretch, but at age 45, it's not believed his arm can last an entire season. Instead of a late-inning specialist, he's become a late-season specialist. Luis Gonzalez: Things didn't work out for Gonzo, as he lost playing time to the youth movement and believed he deserved a better shake. He's moved on to the Florida Marlins. Olmedo Saenz: Maybe age caught up to the venerable pinch-hitter, as all of his offensive numbers plunged and he was not re-signed. Mark Sweeney: Sweeney sought more guaranteed money than the Dodgers were willing to offer. He's a professional pinch-hitter, but the Dodgers feel they have enough bench bats. Roberto Hernandez: He was still a fierce competitor, but his command wasn't good enough and his mistakes were punished. Mike Lieberthal: He recently retired after a solid career that unfortunately ended with him as a spectator to Russell Martin's ironman performance.
2007 hitting leaders (min. 200 at-bats)
Avg.: Kemp, .342
OBP: Loney, .381
SLG: Loney, .538
Runs: Pierre, 96
RBIs: Martin, 87
Hits: Pierre, 196
2B: Kent, 36
3B: Pierre, 8
HR: Kent, 20
SB: Pierre, 64
2007 pitching leaders (min. 30 IP)
IP: Penny, 208
W: Penny, 16
L: Lowe, 14
Win %: Penny, .800 (16-4)
S: Saito, 39
ERA: Saito, 1.40
K: Lowe, 147
K/9: Saito, 10.91
WHIP: Saito, 0.72
1. Can Jason Schmidt still pitch?
He's 35 and coming off major shoulder surgery to repair three separate injuries. He's owed $31 million of the $47 million contract he signed and he has one Dodgers win. He's had no known setbacks and he's only being asked at this time to be a fifth starter, but there's no real way of knowing what he can do until he throws in games. 2. Who plays third base, Garciaparra or LaRoche?
A real contrast, the 34-year-old Garciaparra coming off a very disappointing season, and the 24-year-old LaRoche with all the promise of the youth movement but a flop in his trials last year. One angle to take is that Garciaparra's versatility and experience would be a better fit on the bench than the young LaRoche. 3. Who's the fourth outfielder?
We know Jones will play center, and it's hard to imagine Kemp not becoming a fixture in right. But what about left? Does the displaced Pierre take over there and send Andre Ethier to the bench? Or does the youth movement continue, with Ethier forcing Pierre to the bench with four years remaining on his contract? Or will the situation become so sour a trade becomes the only solution? The bottom line
They need for the new manager and his coaching staff to become familiar with the roster, preparing for a fast start in a competitive division while overcoming the interruption of camp when half the team takes a one-week junket to China.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.