Dodgers Lineup for Game #1

To the casual baseball fan, or to even an avid baseball fan who lives east of the Rockies (the mountains or the team), the Dodgers lineup tonight is chock full of guys you may not have heard of or knew were on the team. In fact, 2 guys weren't on the team until July, 5 guys are in their third season or less, leaving Rafael Furcal (in his third full season) as the longest-tenured Dodger in the starting lineup.

1. Rafael Furcal, SS-Furcal was a question mark to even make the roster, so to see him take the first pitch of the NLDS series, it is a surprise. Furcal was one of the best hitters in baseball...that is, until he went down with an inury back in early May. He came back to play four games at the end of the season for the Dodgers, collecting 2 hits, but never playing a full game. He may be the starter, but I'm betting Furcal doesn't finish the game. I am obviously not as baseball savvy as Joe Torre, but I don't think I want a guy who has played nine innings of baseball in nearly 5 months to be my tablesetter. As a Cubs fans, however, I say kudos.

2. Russell Martin, C-The best young N.L. catcher not named Soto, Martin was an All Star last year. He had a solid, but not spectacular junior season in the Bigs, hitting .280 with 13 HR's (both down from last year). The one number that is up for him is his OBP, which was .385 for the season. Despite being a backstop, he managed to steal 18 bags, so he can steal a base for the Dodgers if needed. He is also solid behind the dish, winning a gold glove last year.

3. Manny Ramirez, LF-Anyone else tired of hearing about Manny, how he's going to carry the team, what a great leader he is, how hard is playing? Yeah, me too. Big time. Yes, Manny finished the season hitting .399 for the Dodgers and hit 17 HR's in 53 games, but he also managed 2 errors for a .979 fielding percentage. While he's a concern, remember that he is only a .269 lifetime hitter in the post-season, including .227 in the division round. His best numbers come in the Championship series, where not surprisingly, his numbers are padded by playing the all-too-familiar Red Sox.

4. Andre Ethier, RF-Ethier is in his second full season with the Dodgers and put up some solid numbers. He hit .305 this year with 20 HR's. The surprising fact is that he is in the cleanup spot, a place where he only saw 28 AB's this year. He provides Torre the left-handed stick in the middle of the lineup.

5. James Loney, 1B-Loney is in his first full season as a starter for the Dodgers. As with Martin, Loney put up solid, but not spectacular numbers this year: .289 BA, 13 HR's. He and his 1-sack counterpart may have the most GIDP's in the history of the game for a season...Loney had 25 (just falling short of D.Lee's 27). Loney's only hit .181 over the last month, so hopefully he can continue to clear up the basepaths if Manny or Ethier get on base.

6. Matt Kemp, CF-The 23 years, 8 days old Kemp isn't even the youngest starter in the Dodgers lineup tonight. He is in his first full season, and put up solid but not spectacular numbers (do I sound like a broken record yet?). A .290 batting average, 18 HR's, and 35 stolen bases. OK, so maybe he put up some better than solid numbers, especially for a CF. But, despite his good fortunes, he can be had via the strikeout, which he collected 153 of this year. Kemp is one to watch for the OF, as he has a hose. 16 assists this year between RF and CF. Quade probably isn't going to be sending many against him if they're close.

7. Blake DeWitt, 2B-DeWitt started the year as a fresh-faced 21 year old 3-sack. He ends his rookie year as a 22 and 2 month old 2-sack. He hit .264 with 9 HR's in 364 AB's. Despite being left-handed, DeWitt has actually fared much better against the lefties, hitting .286 with a .404 OBP. DeWitt also has fared much better at Dodger Stadium than on the road, so let's hope that continues. DeWitt is the eighth Dodger to man second base this year.

8. Casey Blake, 3B-Many have praised Blake's contribution to this team (usually as an afterthought after gushing about Manny for 45 minutes). What he brings to the table is the ability to hit the long ball (21 between Cleveland and LA) and a solid defensive 3-sack. He committed only 2 errors at third while with the Dodgers and hit 10 HR's. But don't expect much out of him with the bat another the power. Despite the 10 HR's, he only managed 23 RBI's. He ground into 9 double plays in just 211 AB's, which are D.Lee/J. Loney type numbers.

Stay tuned (or logged on) to TD for updates as soon as the Cubs lineup is announced

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