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Home DePo
2004-02-17 09:02
by Jon Weisman

The Dodgers have a general manager and a manager and a pitching staff and a right fielder and a catcher, if not two, and a dedicated fan base in a major media market.

Just like the Yankees.

The two teams also share a lack of a second baseman, and I think one could consider Kenny Lofton vs. Juan Encarnacion a wash. Lofton gets on base more, but his defense gives that advantage back. (I say this knowing that Encarnacion may play more left field than center field this season.)

Because Shawn Green is coming off an injury, I am also going to pair him with left fielder Hideki Matsui, instead of Green's proper counterpart, Gary Sheffield.

So in this great, great universe of ours, all that separates the Dodgers and the Yankees, the two principal newsmakers of the past weekend (a weekend that leaves me playing catchup after having virtually no access to the computer, newspaper, radio or television), are four human beings.

Dave Roberts :: Gary Sheffield
Robin Ventura :: Jason Giambi
Cesar Izturis :: Derek Jeter
Adrian Beltre :: Alex Rodriguez

Just four hearts short of a flush.

Because the Yankees are now the best team on paper in baseball, the job for new Dodger general manager Paul DePodesta, in theory, is to overcome this gap.

In fact, though, the Dodgers are not competing against the Yankees. Not today. They are competing against the four other teams in the National League West, whose rosters look like this. With shortstop and third base in the NL West considerably weaker than Jeter and Rodriguez, the gap between the Dodgers and its regular season competitors narrows to two human beings.

1B: Ventura :: Sexson :: Helton :: Nevin :: Feliz
OF: Roberts :: Gonzalez :: Burnitz :: Kelsko :: Bonds

The gaps here are so big that if DePodesta does nothing to address them, the Dodgers could finish with a losing record.

But one solid acqusition puts the Dodgers back in the race. And then, we see how carefully they can pitch to Barry, Ryan and Luis.

And if that goes well, then we can worry about the Yankees.

The situation is bleak but not hopeless, and Dodger fans should feel relieved that, if nothing else, the Dodger general manager position has been freed from its cage. The team can finally get in the game.

In the meantime, don't be surprised if the Yankees go after Karl Malone or Gary Payton after the NBA wraps up its season to fill the team's second base slot.

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