Off Base
Groin Pains

March 30, 2009, 7:13 p.m. Long time, no talk to. Please excuse the extended stretch between posts. While seemingly every Dodger and his brother has dealt with a sensitive hamstring area or two, the Main Squeeze and I are experiencing a little groin pains of our own.

But not to worry, we've just a little geographic shift to report. We're packing up the Civics and moving back to Los Angeles. And just in time for the opener too. San Diego has been great in almost every way imaginable, but when it comes right down to it, we're happiest in a major league baseball city.

And parenthetically, driving north on the 5, our vast holdings in tow, you just know the accelerator gets pressed harder as we approach Anaheim. Almost by instinct, we like to get by as fast as we can.

Anyway, this is a rush job, so just the essentials. Ned Colletti and company deserve all the credit in the world. It may have taken every minute of the offseason to put together a club (and with Will Ohman signing today, we're talking literally every minute of the offseason), the 2009 Dodgers are both solid and ready to go.

Forget what you're hearing about the rotation. No team has five good starters. No team ever has five good starters. Hiroki Kuroda, Randy Wolf, Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw are better than most fours. If James McDonald gets the final spot, and he's the leader in the clubhouse, that's a very respectable staff. Easily good enough to win the division.

The bullpen, on the other hand, is a real concern. Jonathan Broxton missed essentially the whole spring while hardly working in the World Baseball Classic, Cory Wade and Hong-Chih Kuo have been slowed by tender arms, and as I keep saying, Kuo's career could end on any pitch.

This notion that Ohman has been brought in to be L.A.'s "second lefty" is a bit off. He's going to be the workhorse lefty and the situational lefty, both, and likely the sole lefty for much of the season.

On the other hand to the other hand, Jeff Weaver has been a pleasant surprise, and is about to make the team as a long-man slash spot starter. Guillermo Mota is going to be better than I first thought, and we might be in for a treat if 21-year old Josh Lindblom makes the team. Or whenever he gets the call-up.

The lineup is set. Get used to a consistent eight guys, which has worked out exactly according to plan. Rafael Furcal (SS), Orlando Hudson (2B), Manny Ramirez (LF), Andre Ethier (RF), Russell Martin (C), Matt Kemp (CF), James Loney (1B), and Casey Blake (3B).

The bench is almost determined. Mark Loretta leads the way as an infielder and pinch-hitter, with Colletti's baseball savvy signing, Doug Mientkiewicz, poised to surprise as Loretta's left-handed complement.

Brad Ausmus is just right at backup catcher. The final two spots will probably go to Juan Pierre and either Juan Castro or Chin-Lung Hu, but Blake DeWitt might very well make it as a utility man. It's just a matter of who can best spell Furcal the one day off a week he's supposed to be getting this year.

This is the superior entry in the NL West, and by plenty. There's bound to be some experimenting with the various players mentioned above, but from where I sit, there is absolutely no question management did its job from October to April.

But for the possibility of a season-changing dork of a slide into third vs. the Angels, all that's left to do is roll out this year's model. And watch for's 2009 Predictions piece Sunday. It'll be our tenth such column, and we're damn proud of it. Ten years, people.

Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…

Media Savvy: Yes, there was the obligatory that-was-a-great-interview self congratulations, but Jim Rome did get some good stuff out of Roger Clemens biographer Jeff Pearlman Friday morning. The best story of the segment followed the Pearlman interview, with Rome characterizing his own dealings with Clemens over the years as nothing but positive experiences.

Rome recalled asking Clemens about his mid-1990's feud with Oakand Athletics pitcher, Dave Stewart. Clemens said pointedly: "I'll just say one thing – 'The Crying Game.'" If you need help with that stinger of a reference, I can't go into it here, but email me, and I'll get back to you personally.

Steve Mason was in fine form during a KSPN 710 AM show last week, and has been flat-out hysterical lately. He's peaking in this his umpteenth program in sports-talk radio. In this instance Mason led an hour-long discussion, asking listeners to call in with their suggestions as to "who stole the most money" in Los Angeles sports history.

The segment was primarily about Jason Schmidt, but some great names were thrown out there, including Andruw Jones (duh), Juan Pierre, Darren Dreifort, Darryl Strawberry, Mo Vaughn, and David Beckham, which came from none other than show co-host John Ireland, calling from his road assignment with the Lakers.

Mason did space a bit with his memory, however, recalling Dreifort singling up the middle to win a game for Tommy Lasorda as a ninth-inning pinch hitter. Never happened. Actually, it was Tim Leary, in extra innings, some ten years earlier, in 1988.

Props to for their nice groin-related headline, "Ramirez Moons Over His Hammy." I'm especially appreciative because it gives us a chance to trot out an old standby of ours: "use a pun, go to jail." Always a good thing.

Rick Monday/Yogi Berra-like line of the week goes to Steve Lavin, who said this on ESPN News: "Villanova is stronger than Duke, and deeper in terms of depth."

Statue for Sandy: The Koufax in bronze campaign continues. Please Vote “Yes on 32.” And tell a friend. We'll drop this thing sometime during the year, because it's going to be a done deal. Please count that as my first baseball prediction of 2009…

Golf Prediction: If anyone on the planet is surprised when Tiger Woods wins the Masters next week, they're simply not paying attention. But as for allowing your jaw to drop as wide as is physically possible, you ought to just go for it. The man is absolutely amazing. And I still say "The Tiger Slam" sounds like breakfast at Denny's.

Remember, glove conquers all…







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