By Will Carroll
February 29, 2012
The Dodgers have long been on the forefront of sports medicine. Bob Kerlan pioneered the use of anti-inflammatories in sports. Frank Jobe created the Tommy John miracle. That tradition has been upheld by current team ortho Neal ElAttrache and Stan Conte. This year, Conte shifts upstairs, allowing the Dodgers to make a groundbreaking move. Sue Falsone is the first female head athletic trainer in major American sports and brings a stellar reputation over from Athletes' Performance. (Assistant Trainer Nancy Patterson deserves more than a footnote as well.) The newly constructed staff faces challenges from the jump. While the medical staff's reputation is solid, the results have fallen short, largely on the accepted risk the team brought in. Dodgers fans will cringe with names like Jason Schmidt and Rafael Furcal. The same thing is happening this season with the additions of Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano. A mid-pack finish in 2012 would be a huge improvement, but with big changes on the horizon for the franchise, uncertainty lies ahead.

Health Keys: Get Ned Colletti to stop giving out big contracts to risky players and wrap Clayton Kershaw in bubble wrap between starts.

(HEAD TRAINER: Sue Falsone; FIVE YEAR RANK: 26; 2011 RANK: 27)
For explanation of these ratings, click here
C A.J. Ellis
I'm a bit shocked at this green, but the System doesn't believe Ellis can hold the position. There's nothing in his track record to think he can put up even a mid-level (90-110) game schedule with a tolerable stat line. He does get on base well, but it's unclear if Don Mattingly recognizes that. Without options, he might not have a choice.

CF Matt Kemp
The meme is that Kemp stopped dating starlets, focused on his work and was one of the three best players in the game last season. If you think Kemp stopped dating women that would distract Pope Benedict, you?re wrong. He's just talented and plays well with a chip on his shoulder. He's played 155-plus games over the last four years and doesn't play the hard style that causes small injuries.

Also Green:
1B James Loney
LF Jerry Sands
SP Chad Billingsley
RP Javy Guerra
SS Dee Gordon
The son of Tom should be called Flash, since his big skill is speed. Like many young speedsters, he wore himself down and he ended up with a shoulder injury last season. Things like broken fingers and jammed wrists are bad, but he's never had leg problems. That keeps him fantasy relevant.

RF Andre Ethier
When Ethier wasn't trying to talk his way into a trade, he was spending time in the training room. Finger, toe and knee injuries held him to 120 games. This year he won?t be running into any walls or rushing back for a Dodgers franchise he wants to put in his rear-view.

SP Clayton Kershaw
His 233 innings at age 23 is ... something. Kershaw might be the best pitcher of the next decade or he might explode at any minute. He's not risk-free, though the Dodgers watch him as closely as any pitcher in the world. When he?s on, he's easy and that's the thing that scouts marvel about.

SP Ted Lilly
Lilly's not going to go 200 innings again, but he's learned to do just enough to keep hitters off balance and not tax himself too much. He's not young and he's had some arm and fatigue issues, but he's going to eat innings up to a point.

SP Chris Capuano
It took him a bit longer than most to come back from his second Tommy John surgery, but last year he saw a rebound to form. There's no reason to think he can't repeat, though the history and mileage on his arm is a concern.

SP Aaron Harang
The Padres could make out like bandits bringing in pitchers from bandbox parks, pumping up their numbers, and then taking a small cut of their next contract. Harang's arm never really recovered from a Dustying in Cincinnati but he's useful.

CL Kenley Jansen
Jansen has a name like a swimsuit model but stuff that's just filthy. Pitchers rave about his filth. Hitters mutter about it. Jansen missed time with a heart ailment but seems fine. He is a converted catcher and converts have a higher than normal risk profile, with many ending up with severe elbow issues. But man, his stuff is filthy.

2B Mark Ellis
Ellis is good when healthy, but at age 34, that isn't a given. He'd be best in some sort of timeshare or platoon, but Jerry Hairston Jr. is best as a super-sub. The Dodgers will have to spend resources on keeping Ellis healthy. This is a red that's painted the team into a corner.

3B Juan Uribe
Uribe was terrible last year, but much of it was done fighting through a sports hernia. This wasn't a good signing, but if he's healthy, it might not be so bad. Then again, there's still some downside in him as well, since he's only had one good, healthy season.

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