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?Striking Out? With The Dodgers: Mid-February
Jordan Walgreen. 13th February, 2009 - 9:42 pm

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1. Manny, Manny, Manny

With Mr. Ramirez being the most prolific bat available, this situation will definitely dominate the talk in Dodger training camp to the point were it becomes a flat out distraction.

Getting a deal done with Manny needs to be priority number one and it needs to happen sooner than later.
It is clear the Dodgers want to sign him, they have the money set aside the trigger just needs to be pulled.
The impact of Ramirez in Dodger blue is obvious, ticket sales and merchandise revenue exploded with Manny on the seen.

If the Dodgers are going to start the season with the type of play they finished 2008 with this has to be put to rest.
Now with all of this said it's not like the Dodgers couldn't compete without Manny, this just needs to be done now.

2. The Rotation

Now that Brad Penny, Derek Lowe, and Greg Maddux are gone there is a little question as to how the rotation will fill in with no one named to the number five spot.

One through four the Dodgers have a solid base:

Chad Bilingsley: 16-10, 3.14 ERA in 2008

Bilingsley should be in the CY Young mix for 2009, his power and control pretty much guarantee the Dodgers 15 wins.

Hiroki Kuroda: 9-10, 3.73 ERA in 2008

Kuroda seems to be solid and played a big part of the Dodgers late season success. If Kuroda can keep his splitter hot and the tendonitis in his should subsides he will fair well.

Randy Wolf: 12-12, 4.30 ERA in 2008

Wolf was signed to a one-year $5 million deal this off-season bringing him back to his native LA. The left-hander returns to the Dodgers after he split the 2008 season between the Padres and Astros. Look for Wolf to be a steady stream of innings at Chavez Ravine in 2009.

Clayton Kershaw: 5-5, 4.26 in 2008

The young lefty had a solid rookie season so this brings optimism into camp. If Kershaw can be consistent and get deep into games with few issues he should be the biggest surprise of the season for Dodger fans.

Jason Schmidt: No MLB stats in 2008

Schmidt fits the wild card role for the Dodgers; he has spent the majority of the past two seasons on the disabled list but lifetime is 128-94 with 3.94 ERA.

However Schmidt is no stranger to the Dodgers organization, this will be his third attempt to be a regular in the rotation.

Going into spring training the Dodgers will look Schmidt to fulfill his long awaited opportunity.

If these five guys can produce as a unit it will be hard for any other NL West staff to compete with the Dodgers.

3. Rafeal Furcal?s health

Furcal is the spark plug to the Dodger offense he started the season like a mad man hitting .357 with 5 homers in 36 games before he needing back surgery in July.

If Furcal gets off like he did last year and stays healthy he should help put the Dodgers in position to dominate the NL West.

The Dodgers are clearly a different team with Furcal in the line-up, which is evident in the slump they had shortly after Furcal?s injury.