1 Los Angeles Dodgers Built in the Fox image, these Dodgers are meant to be seen--in October

March 29, 1999

Talk about your overhauls. Since last year at this time, the
Dodgers have installed a new owner, a new general manager, a new
manager. They will start a new catcher, a new third baseman, a
new leftfielder, a new centerfielder, a new shortstop. They have
a new Opening Day pitcher, who cost them $105 million. They have
a new closer. They have a new goal: Win in the postseason now.
The Dodgers haven't won a postseason game since 1988. That
streak is about to end. Rupert Murdoch and his broadcast
company, Fox, are banking on it.

In the old days, under the O'Malley family, the Dodgers were
prudent, and their talent was largely homegrown. They bought
their spring training site, they built their stadium themselves,
they nurtured the professional lives of the men they liked: Roy
Campanella, Don Drysdale, Tommy Lasorda, Mike Piazza. To the Fox
people, clearly not a group afraid to spend money, the Dodgers
are high-priced programming. Piazza may turn out to be the
greatest hitting catcher ever, but in dramatic terms the Piazza
years in L.A. were flops. The new owners took over last season,
and Piazza is no longer a member of the cast.

The catcher now, acquired in a trade with the Mets, is supposed
to be switch-hitter Todd Hundley. Defensively, Hundley has been
solid throughout his career, but his arm strength has been
tested only minimally since he had reconstructive surgery on his
right (throwing) elbow in '97. As of March 22, he hadn't caught
an inning in spring training and the Dodgers were admitting they
weren't sure how soon and how much he'd be able to play.
Offensively, Hundley has been potent but sporadic. But he's a
gamer, and gamers have been scarce in Los Angeles since the days
of Kirk Gibson.

The new manager, Davey Johnson, is a gamer too, but also a bit
of a stats freak. He has a reputation for coming in and
increasing run production immediately by crunching numbers in a
computer to produce statistically optimal lineup cards. In 1996,
Johnson's first year in Baltimore, the Orioles scored 949 runs,
up 245 from the year before. Last year the Dodgers were 24th in
the majors in runs scored, tallying just 4.1 per game. That
should change.

The heart of the Dodgers' order is formidable. Batting third
will be power-hitting outfielder Gary Sheffield. Hundley is
penciled in for cleanup. Batting fifth will be rightfielder Raul
Mondesi, who hit 30 homers in '98 and showed up for spring
training this year looking lean and hungry.

Sheffield, who turned 30 in November, is a mystery. For a while
he sounded grown-up. Last season he advised Mondesi to be more
selective at the plate. In the off-season he agreed to play left
so that Mondesi could play right. But this spring Sheffield
spoke of being uncomfortable in left and carped about the team's
appearance code, which prohibits facial hair and earrings. He
said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that if he
didn't have five years left on his six-year, $61 million
contract, he'd retire now. It's hard to know with Sheffield
whether he'll act like an adult or a baby.

When Kevin Brown pitches on Opening Day, he'll be 34 and in the
first year of a seven-year deal paying him $105 million. The
Dodgers are counting on Brown's being a young 34. They're also
expecting him to put up the kind of numbers he did last year,
when he went 18-7 with a 2.38 ERA. Assuming he'll repeat that
performance may not sound realistic, and his contract may not
sound prudent, but remember, these are the new win-now Dodgers.

Brown throws hard--he had 257 strikeouts in '98--and even when
the batters he faces put the ball in play, he can depend on his
outfielders. Mondesi and centerfielder Devon White (acquired
from the Diamondbacks) are defensively accomplished. The infield
is another story. Eric Karros at first is ordinary. So is Eric
Young at second. Mark Grudzielanek, the shortstop, made 33
errors last year. Adrian Beltre, the young third baseman, needs
to be more decisive. For Brown, matching last year's record with
that infield may be difficult.

Even if Brown's ERA ascends to his career mark, 3.30, it should
be enough to lead the Dodgers to victory in the National League
West. What's more, on the mound the Dodgers are not a one-man
show. Only two teams in the National League have true five-man
rotations, solid from one through five: Atlanta and Los Angeles.
After Brown, the Dodgers pitch Chan Ho Park (3.71 ERA last
year), Carlos Perez (3.75), Ismael Valdes (3.98) and Darren
Dreifort (4.00).

There are some live arms in the bullpen, too. Alan Mills, signed
as a free agent, is a righty setup man who last year with
Baltimore held lefties to a .207 batting average and righties to
.201. The closer is righthander Jeff Shaw, who had 48 saves last
season. The Dodgers have a long reliever, Dave Mlicki, who would
be in most teams' rotations. Too many starters: It's a problem
most teams would love to have.

The Dodgers-Fox people will have one eye on Mlicki--other teams
will no doubt express interest in him--and the other on
Dodgertown, the team's vast spring training complex in Vero
Beach, Fla. Dodgertown is a valuable asset, so naturally the new
owners are trying to sell it. Dodgertown is nice, but it has no
sizzle. Kevin Brown, he has sizzle. He's somebody people will
watch.

--Michael Bamberger

COLOR PHOTO: MARC LEVINE/MLB PHOTOS Newcomer Hundley is being asked merely to regain full arm strength in the wake of surgery and to revive the offense by hitting from the cleanup spot. COLOR PHOTO: RONALD C. MODRA

By the Numbers

1998 Team Statistics (NL rank)
1998 record: 83-79 (third in NL West)

BATTING AVERAGE .252 (13)
RUNS SCORED 669 (12)
HOME RUNS 159 (8)
OPP. BATTING AVG. .246 (2)
ERA 3.81 (5)
FIELDING PCT. .978 (13)

Family Tradition

Importing ace Kevin Brown runs contrary to the Dodgers' history.
Over the past 15 years, nine pitchers have won at least 35 games
as starters for L.A.; eight of the nine made their big league
debut for the Dodgers (exception: Tom Candiotti, 48 wins as a
starter). Over that span 73.8% of wins by Dodgers starters have
come from pitchers who debuted for them, the highest such
percentage of any team.

Team with Starters' Homegrown
Lowest Pct. Total Wins Starters' Wins Pct.

Dodgers 891 658 73.8
Blue Jays 921 678 73.6
Brewers 819 591 72.2
Braves 892 631 70.7
Orioles 828 522 63.0

Team with Starters' Homegrown
Lowest Pct. Total Wins Starters' Wins Pct.

Diamondbacks 46 0 0.0
Marlins 287 52 18.1
Astros 843 195 23.1
Yankees 910 290 31.9
Athletics 839 276 32.9

Next Up...

Last year Adrian Beltre did not perpetuate the rich Los Angeles
Rookie of the Year tradition. Called up in late June from Double
A San Antonio, the third baseman from the Dominican Republic hit
a mere .215 with seven home runs in 195 at bats. To boot, he
made 13 errors in 77 games. But the Dodgers, heartened by
Beltre's MVP season in the Dominican winter league, just want
him to relax. "He knows he doesn't have to do everything," says
G.M. Kevin Malone, hoping that sheer playing time will allow
Beltre (who turns 21 on April 7) to display his powerful arm and
bat. If he does, maybe he will at least be sophomore of the year.

Projected Roster With 1998 Statistics

Manager: Davey Johnson (first season with Los Angeles)

BATTING ORDER B-T PVR BA HR RBI SB

2B Eric Young R 73 .285 8 43 42
CF Devon White[1] S-R 135 .279 22 85 22
LF Gary Sheffield R 103 .302 22 85 22
C Todd Hundley[1] S-R 198 .161 3 12 1
RF Raul Mondesi R 24 .279 30 90 16
1B Eric Karros R 142 .296 23 87 7
SS Mark Grudzielanek R 208 .272 10 62 18
3B Adrian Beltre R 239 .215 7 22 3

BENCH

C Paul LoDuca (R)* R 271 .319 8 58 19
OF Trenidad Hubbard R 293 .298 7 18 9
OF Todd Hollandsworth L 319 .269 3 20 4
IF Jose Vizcaino S-R 323 .262 3 29 7
IF Dave Hansen[1][#] L-R 338 .253 11 55 0

STARTERS PVR W L IPS WHIP ERA

RH Kevin Brown[1] 3 18 7 7.3 1.07 2.38
RH Chan Ho Park 24 15 9 6.5 1.34 3.71
LH Carlos Perez 33 11 14 7.1 1.27 3.75
RH Ismael Valdes 65 11 10 6.4 1.36 3.98
RH Darren Dreifort 118 8 12 6.3 1.27 4.00

BULLPEN PVR W L S WHIP ERA

RH Jeff Shaw 6 3 8 48 1.11 2.12
RH Alan Mills[1] 217 3 4 2 1.36 3.74
RH Doug Bochtler[1] 252 0 2 0 1.71 6.15
LH Greg Cadaret[1] 306 1 2 1 1.50 4.23
RH Mel Rojas[1] 335 5 2 2 1.69 6.05
RH Dave Mlicki 234 8 7 0 1.38 4.57

New acquisition (R) Rookie B-T: Bats-throws
IPS: Innings pitched per start
WHIP: Walks plus hits per inning pitched

PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 154)
*Triple A stats [#]Japanese Central League stats

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)