The Dodgers spent their offseason attempting to make up for the loss of Adrian Beltre and they may have even upgraded their run-scoring capabilities a little bit. But the question is, at what cost? Pitching and defense wins games, and while they still have the pitching, their infield defense took a major hit, which could lead to some extra outs. Those lead to more pitches thrown, more bad pitches thrown, etc.
Worth Every Penny
If you're in the market for dominance, may I present to you, Eric Gagne. So he wasn't perfect in 2004, he still saved 45 of 47 tries. That makes him 152 for 158 in his career, not bad for a guy who was a middling starter just three springs ago.
About To Blossom
Left-fielder Jayson Werth was a late-spring addition last year in a trade with Toronto. He platooned for the first part of the year with Dave Roberts, but ended up hitting 16 home runs in 290 at-bats. The former catcher is now the regular left fielder and is likely to bat second, meaning he'll see lots of fastballs with Cesar Izturis on base and with J.D. Drew and Jeff Kent behind him. He's a serious 25 home run threat. Also watch for the arrival of catcher Dioner Navarro, acquired in the Shawn Green trade. He could make his way to the big club shortly.
Norihito Nakamura played 13 seasons in Japan and has averaged .255, 21 HR, 67 RBIs over the past two seasons there. After a failed attempt to make the Mets in spring training two seasons ago, the third baseman by trade has played first base in spring training. Should he make the team, he could play his way into a platoon with Hee Seop Choi, slpit duties with Jose Valentin or even take one of the jobs for himself. However, his bat speed doesn't seem to be able to handle even mediocre major league pitching, so I'd recommend staying far away.
Do You Feel Lucky?
Throughout his pro career, Milton Bradley has been a loose cannon. His ranting and outbursts not only make him a suspension risk (usually a major blow to your fantasy team), but it usually keeps his name swirling when it comes to trades. That's all unfortunate because Bradley's a special player who excels at every offensive skill. But can you afford to take the risk?
The Dodgers feature three regulars who will run -- Izturis, Drew and Bradley -- and one who used to -- Jose Valentin. Expect the longtime White sox and Brewers shortstop to take off a bit more than he did in 2004 (when he was 8 for 14 in steal attempts) now that he's in the NL and batting two sports before the pitcher.
If Something Should Happen To Eric Gagne
Not only did the Dodgers get Jeff Weaver for Kevin Brown last offseason, but one of the two minor leaguers the Yankees threw into the deal, reliever Yhency Brazoban, pitched so well as a middle man, the Dodgers felt comfortable trading Guillermo Mota and inserting him as the bullpen's top setup man. Featuring a mid 90s fastball and a biting slider, Brazoban is a strikeout pitcher who could do a fine job if given the opportunity to close.
Don't Forget About
Derek Lowe, Odalis Perez, Ricky Ledee, Brad Penny
Don't Bother With
Olmedo Saenz, Paul Bako, David Ross, Darren Dreifort
David Sabino is the associate editor in charge of statistics at Sports Illustrated and the author of the book, Dominate Your Fantasy Baseball League (Muska & Lipman/Premier-Trade).