Restoring the rosters: No. 2 - Los Angeles (NL)
This is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1. No. 30 - Cincinnati No. 29 - Kansas City No. 28 - San Diego No. 27 - Milwaukee No. 26 - Baltimore No. 25 - Chicago (AL) No. 24 - Chicago (NL) No. 23 - Pittsburgh No. 22 - Detroit No. 21 - Tampa Bay No. 20 - New York (NL) No. 19 - Houston No. 18 - Oakland No. 17 - St. Louis No. 16 - Florida No. 15 - San Francisco No. 14 - Texas No. 13 - Cleveland No. 12 - Minnesota No. 11 - Arizona No. 10 - Los Angeles (AL) No. 9 - Toronto No. 8 - Boston No. 7 - Colorado No. 6 - Montreal/Washington No. 5 - New York (AL) No. 4 - Philadelphia No. 3 - Atlanta It’s finally time for what I viewed as the two powerhouse teams. While No. 1’s presence at the top of the rankings will probably come as a surprise to many, everyone should have known the Dodgers would rate highly, even if not one of their former Rookie of the Year winners is still in the league. Rotation Ted Lilly Chad Billingsley Clayton Kershaw Edwin Jackson Hiroki Kuroda Bullpen Joakim Soria Jonathan Broxton Ramon Troncoso Pedro Feliciano Takashi Saito Hong-Chih Kuo Chan Ho Park With four guys who have pitched like All-Stars this year, this rates as the best rotation any team has produced. Kuroda is another above average starter for the fifth spot, and even if you didn’t want to include Japanese players in the rankings, you could just go ahead and plug in some guy named Pedro Martinez instead. The bullpen also rates in the top three, thanks in large part to Soria’s presence. The Dodgers signed him out of Mexico in 2001, but he made just four appearances in Rookie ball for the team before getting hurt and eventually released. Depth is an obvious strength as well. Missing out on spots were Cory Wade, Dennys Reyes, Wesley Wright, James McDonald and Eric Stults. No Eric Gagne either, of course. Lineup LF Shane Victorino C Russell Martin RF Matt Kemp 1B Paul Konerko 3B Adrian Beltre CF Franklin Gutierrez 2B Willy Aybar SS Alex Cora Bench 1B James Loney OF Delwyn Young INF Andy LaRoche C David Ross INF Chin-Lung Hu The lineup isn’t quite as strong, mostly because of the middle infield. Aybar can hit, but he’s a weak defensive second baseman. Cora lacks range at shortstop these days, and I’m not sure that Hu isn’t the better option there. There are also Ivan DeJesus Jr. and Devaris Gordon on the way, so things could get better at shortstop before long. The outfield defense would be absolutely phenomenal. Gutierrez might well be the game’s best center fielder right now, and Victorino and Kemp both rate in the top 10 or so. I’d love to see what Lilly could do in front of that group. Summary The Dodgers produced five straight Rookies of the Year in the ‘90s: Eric Karros, Mike Piazza, Raul Mondesi, Hideo Nomo and Todd Hollandsworth. All are out of the league now and the team hasn’t come up with one since, but obviously, the talent has continued to flow. Given the job done by the scouting department, it’s more than a little remarkable that the club went 19 years without winning a postseason series before advancing to the NLCS last year.