2009: Game 1 of 162

No, I’m not going to get into the habit of starting daily game threads. Dodger Thoughts and SonsOfSteveGarvey each have that market cornered, and they do a great job of it. But today’s a special day, because after the longest offseason in years both literally (thanks, WBC) and figuratively (anyone miss listening to Boras and McCourt snipe at each other every day?) the season is finally here. It’s like Christmas combined with your birthday, combined into a burrito that’s stuffed with lobster and drenched in secret sauce. BASEBALL, aka “the only think that makes your miserable life worth getting out of bed for in the morning,” is finally, mercifully back.

Even better, while you know we’d still be watching this team even if they lost 91 games and played Mike Edwards and Jason Phillips every day (god, how long ago does 2005 seem now? Hell, even the 2006 Opening Day lineup included Jason Repko, Sandy Alomar Jr., Jose Cruz Jr., Bill Mueller and Olmedo Saenz), this crew actually looks to be good. So good, in fact, that Baseball Prospectus has the Blue ranked as the 4th best team in MLB to start the season, outranking both of last year’s pennant winners and the Cubs:

#4: Los Angeles Dodgers (92-70, 819 RS, 711 RA)
I’m no Casey Blake fan, but if he’s the worst hitter you’ve got, then you’re on to something. The Dodgers’ signings of Orlando Hudson and Manny Ramirez upgraded them from a fringe contender to one of the best teams in baseball in the waning days of the offseason. The decision to use James McDonald in the rotation will be worth a few wins as well, and while the back of the rotation is still a weakness, there’s enough bullpen here–Cory Wade and Hung-Chih Kuo could own the seventh and eighth innings–to make up for it.

Oh, sure – there’s questions. What happens with the back end of the rotation? Will Joe Torre drive Russell Martin into the ground again? Will Manny hit .750, or merely just .600? How screwed is this team if Chad Billingsley gets hurt? No team, including the three ranked above LA (Red Sox/Yankees/Mets, natch) doesn’t have similar questions.

So let’s get this thing started. We finally have news on the roster questions, as Doug Mientkiewicz, Will Ohman, and Ronald Belisario have officially been added to the roster, while Claudio Vargas is added to the 60-day DL and Greg Miller has been released. It’s a sad day for Miller, who was the Clayton Kershaw of 2003, but according to Tony Jackson, there’s still hope he’ll return on a minor league deal. I sure hope so!

Hiroki Kuroda. Jake Peavy. Game on.

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