Sunday, June 04, 2006

NL Best?

I'm still not sold on the Diamondbacks, despite their dominance over the Bravos the past few weeks. However, I am bully on the boys in blue, so much so that I rate the Dodgers as the team to beat in the Senior Circuit.

Better than the Cards? Sure, I'm always shortchanging Tony LaRussa's club, mainly because of Tony LaRussa. But regardless of the severity of Albert Pujols' injury, I'm becoming convinced Grady Little's squad will emerge as the class of the NL.

That's assuming they get another starting pitcher, but if any team has the goods to acquire Zito or Dontrelle, it's the Dodgers, who have baseball's best farm system.

Already OF's Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier have shown they belong in the bigs, which should insulate them from the annual J.D. Drew injury sure to come. They also have another highly regarded prospect just promoted from Las Vegas, Joel Guzman, who can play several positions.

And with young stud Willy Aybar performing soldily at 3B, the Dodgers look to have considerable depth on the infield, as well. Plus, they're about to get Cesar Izturis back (another solid trading chip) off the DL. They've got speed up and down the order and they're strong defensively. Other top prospects, such as lefty starter Chad Billingsley and 1B James Loney, are progressing nicely at Triple A.

Give them another starter -- Billingsley might prove to be the answer -- and I think the Dodgers are certain to make the playoffs. Hard to believe they've turned it around so quickly, but as of now a Los Angeles-Boston World Series seems a decent bet. Imagine those subplots, with Grady and Nomah returning to Fenway in October.

Naturally I hope that doesn't happen, but I'm not exactly optimistic about the home team right now.

--CB

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