A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE DODGERS
I'm not sold on Don Mattingly. He's never managed, not even in the minors, and they also would be better off with a guy who has more energy to light a fire under that team.... They're putting a lot of faith in starting pitching to carry them. Clayton Kershaw is an ace for years to come. Chad Billingsley's bad second half was an aberration. He'll always be battling that body, but he's trimmed down. He was out to make a point this spring.... Beyond that, there are a lot of questions. Ted Lilly's fastball is 83, 84 now; his curveball is big and loopy and very hittable.... Jonathan Broxton is going to be on a short leash after his terrible second half. In the past he could get away with blowing guys away, but his stuff doesn't have as much buzz as it used to. Kenley Jansen is their closer of the future.... The difference between this being an average and a good bullpen is Hong-Chih Kuo, whose stuff is as good as anyone's. But with his injury history, his ability to close is in question. They should stay away from using him back-to-back days.... A bright spot is Matt Kemp, who was just going through the motions last year. He played his butt off this spring, taking the extra base, stealing bases. You'd never know he had been in Joe Torre's doghouse.... Andre Ethier always surprises you with how much power he has. He looks great and is playing very hard. He's a very solid 25--30 home run and 100 RBI guy.... Catcher is a big concern—neither Rod Barajas nor Dioner Navarro is the answer, and there isn't anyone in the system coming up.... Rafael Furcal doesn't have the cannon from short that he once did and isn't running the way he did in his prime. His skills are in decline big time, and so are Casey Blake's.... A realistic goal for this team is to finish .500.
April 3, 2011
WITH 2010 STATISTICS
MANAGER DON MATTINGLY
1ST SEASON WITH DODGERS
Ultimate Zone Rating—a measure of runs cost (or saved) on defense—for Dodgers outfielders in 2010. The biggest culprit was centerfielder Matt Kemp: His UZR of --24 was the worst in the majors at any position.
Don Mattingly gets all the attention, but he wasn't the Dodgers' best hire this winter. By bringing home former star Davey Lopes, Los Angeles added one of the best baserunning coaches in baseball, a man who from 2007 through '10 helped turn the Phillies into the most efficient basestealing team in history: 501 steals at an 84% success rate, including a record 87.9% in 2007. Lopes, officially the Dodgers' first base coach, moves to the team that led the NL in times caught stealing (141) in three years under Joe Torre. Lopes will work with Matt Kemp (73% career success rate), James Loney (66%), Jamey Carroll (64%) and Andre Ethier (53%) on improving technique and reading pitchers to turn them into better thieves. It's up to Mattingly, however, to give that group—and veteran Rafael Furcal, who is slowing as he ages but still stole bases at an 85% clip (22 for 26) last year—the green light to implement Lopes's instructions. The Dodgers are the rare team that a stathead would encourage to run more, due to Lopes's proven track record at developing efficient base stealers.