In an exhibition game Saturday, the Dodgers were leading the Angels, 3-1 in the third inning with 12-game winner Chad Billingsley doing the pitching.
Before the inning ended Billingsley had hit a wild streak, given up a grand slam home run to Kendry Morales and was removed from the game.
That’s an illustration of the Dodgers’ biggest worry as they enter the season that began Monday. They appear to lack an ace pitcher.
A consensus of baseball experts agree. The Dodgers are being picked to be a contender in the NL West they’ve won the last two seasons, but the popular choice is now Colorado.
Uncertainty over the team’s financial condition due to the pending divorce of the McCourts leaves a lot of questions. The roster hasn’t been torn apart and the payroll will be approximately the same as last season, but the Dodgers let Randy Wolf go, and he was their most reliable starter.
The most talented pitcher is now Clayton Kershaw, but he’s only 22 and was 9-9 last season. It would be quite a leap for this youngster to emerge as the main guy.
The most positive off-season development was the Dodgers’ ability to sign all of their talented young players. Despite the financial turmoil surrounding the team agreements were reached with James Loney, Matt Kemp, Russell Martin, Andre Eithier, and Jonathon Broxton.
In addition, Manny Ramirez is under contract for another season.
The Dodgers have cut corners like most major league teams due to the economy. They’ll try to get by without fourth outfielder Juan Pierre, who they judged to be a luxury they couldn’t afford. And second baseman Orlando Hudson, a true professional.
The departures lend opportunities to reserve outfielders Reed Johnson and Garret Anderson and second baseman Blake DeWitt.
The ownership matter isn’t expected to be determined until the end of the season. If you’re a Dodger fan take heart from the fact the roster hasn’t been torn apart, as the San Diego Padres roster was when owner John Moores went through a divorce and a large number of low minor league players represented the Padres.
If you think the Dodgers have taken a backward step, understand it could have been a lot worse.
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