2005 Team Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers

by Scott Glab

"What weíre trying to do is rebuild and win at the same time."

--- Dodgers GM Paul DePodesta.

2004 Record: 93-69 (1st Place)
2004 Runs Scored: 761
2004 Runs Allowed: 684
Expected 2004 Record: 89-73

Smooth sailing

Here are some excerpts of an October 2005 interview with DePodesta right before the Dodgers final game of the seasonóassuming his plan works:

"There are some things we didnít know could happen so fast. We knew Hee Seop Choi and Jayson Werth would mature into major offensive forces someday, but we didnít expect a .898 combined OPS from them this year. Although most people donít realize that HSC was practically that for half a season with Florida last year. We knew that our infield defense was going to help a groundball pitcher like Lowe. But we couldnít expect him to be this good (18-8, 3.34). Did you know Lowe was essentially two completely different pitchers over the last two years? Heíd alternate stretches of six or seven starts where his ERA was either sub-4 or 7-plus. We bet that we could foster conditions favorable to the former Lowe, and we took the pot."

"No one can say with any certainty that a player will stay healthy over the course of a season, but there are injuries that do seem more likely to continually affect a playerís health or abilities. We felt with J.D. that his history showed nothing to indicate that he couldnít play in over 140 games again this year. If Jim [Tracy] had penciled him in today, it would have been number 150."

"In Lowe, Perez, and Penny, we have as productive and consistent a top of the rotation as any playoff team, and we feel real good about that. We also have Jeff Weaver, Kaz Ishii, and Edwin Jackson, all who have been dominant at some point this year. And all of them are healthy and relaxing in the dugout as the youngster Ryan Ketchner prepares to take the mound for us today."

"Whether we get our 100th win today doesnít matter. All that matters now is winning in the playoffs."


Rough winds

Here are parts of the same interview if DePodestaís plan fails:

"There was a big dead zone in our lineup, which is why we didnít score enough runs. Between Bako (.222-.301-.305), Izturis (.253-.309-.349), and the pitcherís spot, we got virtually no production. Neither Valentin nor [Norihiro] Nakamura had over a .320 OBP, and Ricky Ledee wasnít the on-base machine we hoped he could be, especially with Drew absent."

"Hand injuries are freak things. Drew already broke his right hand once before (in 2001). I donít think there was any way of predicting the likelihood of an injury like that. But when he went down in June, so did we."

"Sure Gagne was great. But our bullpen allowed a lot of inherited runs. You have to be able to make outs in key situations, and despite decent ERAs, [Yhency] Brazoban couldnít do it regularly enough, nor could [Giovanni] Carrara. Wilson Alvarez was our most effective reliever, but he spent over half the season starting because Penny and Perez spent so much time on the DL."

"Whether we climb to .500 with a win today or not doesnít matter. Iím already looking towards getting this team back on top in 2006."


Bottom line

Few teams with such tremendous upsides are as mired by unknowns as the Dodgers. In a division with the Giants and the Padres, a misstep could tumble them into third place. Still, the Dodgers are likely to finish with 87-93 wins. But as in last yearís NL West, that still leaves your playoff hopes up for grabs.