BACK IN CONTENTION FOR ’06?

With all the acquisitions that have been made this past winter, recently the addition of closer Danys Baez from the D-Rays and middle reliever Lance Carter, the Dodgers seemed destined to capture their rightful place atop the NL West in ’06.  And being in the worst division in all of baseball, perhaps it really shouldn’t take much to improve upon the roster.  Our starting pitching  could be the best in the division.  IF,  Derek Lowe, probably our Opening Day starter,  can regain control of his sinker and cut his home run total down from last season, Brad Penny and Odallis Perez can actually stay healthy for most of the season, Bret Thomko, who has good success at Chavez Ravine, can provide a possible replacement for Jeff Weaver as our ironman, and Jay Seo continues his tear from last season.  The bullpen is still without questions, with Eric Gagne coming back from arm surgery.  Can Yhency Brazoban bounce back from last seasons disaster and regain his confidence as a setup man for Gagne?  What will be Danys Baez’s roll be should Gagne regain his form by Opening Day.  Is Baez here to keep the spot warm for Gagne until he is fully recovered?  Also, the health of our outfield will also be key as well.  Can JD Drew go a full season with minimal time on the DL.  Only once has that happened, and it was during his contract year with Atlanta in ’04.  Will Jason Repko be a good complement to Kenny Lofton at center.  We all know Repko has a great throwing arm, and with the additional playing time he received last season due to the numerous injuries suffered, he should feel more comfortable at the plate facing Major League pitching as well.  And left field, who will be the Opening Day starter between Jose Cruz Jr. and Jayson Werth.  Will Ricky Ledee’s hamstring continue to act up on him?  The infield appears pretty stellar, though Nomar’s health is also a question as well.  Oh I can’t wait for those two magic words….PLAY BALL !!!

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