Wednesday, December 09, 2009

ESPN Mobile's Hot Stove Analyzes The Dodgers' Ice-Cold Stove

I'm not too good with this internet thing, so the only place I've been able to find ESPN mobile's entry on the Los Angeles Dodgers (on a non-mobile device) is here. As part of a daily series of team-by-team reviews, Dan Mullen has put together a snapshot of the Dodgers' offseason issues, which is a pretty decent piece if you can get past all the spelling errors (apparently, ESPN mobile doesn't have that handy iPhone spellchecker thingy). Some of the highlights:

2010 Dodger on the Hot Seat: Russell Martin, C.

What started as an early-season power slump turned into a year-long outage for two-time All-Star catcher Russell Martin. He hit a career-low seven home runs to go along with his worst-ever batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage. Just 26 years old, there is no obvious reason behind Martin's sudden turn from a solid .280s hitter with enough power to belt 30+ doubles and 20 home runs a season to the .250 hitter with limited power the Dodgers saw last season.

With no injury to point to, Martin blamed his sub-par season on losing his swing. Dodgers manager Joe Torre and hitting coach Don Mattingly think it came from pressing at the plate after a lack of home runs early in the season. Although his bat disappeared in 2009, Martin played a key role with his work behind the dish in 2009, helping a pitching staff that finished with baseball's best ERA. Whether or not Martin can find his swing again in 2010 will play a pivotal role in holding off the Rockies and Giants in what promises to be a heated race for NL West supremacy.

Breakout Player: Matt Kemp, OF.

With a 26-steal, 34-homer season on his resume and Silver Slugger and Gold Gloves awards resting on his mantle, many would say Matt Kemp has already broken out. The Dodger brass strongly believes the 25-year-old centerfielder has another level of potential left to reach. Still figuring things out as a baseball player after spending his prep years focusing on his basketball career where he was a teammate of current Boston Celtic Sheldon Williams, Kemp is starting to put it together as a complete player after surviving on natural ability alone early in his career.

Arguably the most physically talented player in the National League, Kemp has the ability to be a 40-home run, 40-stolen base superstar in the near future. Though Albert Pujols has a strangle hold on the NL MVP Award, Kemp's all-around game makes him just the guy to challenge the king for his throne.

Dodgers Rookie to Watch: Josh Lindblom, RP.

A physically imposing Purdue product, hard-throwing righty Josh Lindbolm will give Joe Torre another bullpen arm to rely on in 2010. After seeing mixed results as a starter since being drafted in 2008, Lindbolm has thrived in a power reliever role thanks to his heavy-sinking fastball and downward-breaking curveball that is a true swing-and-miss pitch.

Torre has been known to ride relievers heavily and Lindbolm's six-foot-five, 240-pound frame makes him a perfect candidate for a workhorse reliever role. Though he has long-term closer stuff and makeup, Lindbom will setup for Jonathan Broxton for the foreseeable future and the pair of power arms is sure to give NL West foes fits at the end of many a close game.


Fred's Brim said...

When Shelden Williams was in high school, he and a bunch of his basketball teammates got caught up in a "to-do" with a young lady in a hotel room when the team was at a tournament. It nearly cost him his scholarship at Duke. Was Matty involved in that?

Orel said...

Boy I hope not.