Dodgers should survive mediocre NL West

Editor's Note: This story appears in the Sept. 11 edition of ESPN The Magazine.

Come on, you ask, how can the Dodgers not win the unholy mishmash that is the NL West? "I don't know," says third baseman Wilson Betemit, one of a slew of new faces in the clubhouse. "I know that when you see a team make all these trades, that's a team that is trying to win. So I say yes, we win."

Not so fast. Betemit and his 'mates have to overcome their streakiness and an unfortunate tendency to lose focus. In all other areas, the stars are aligned: best roster, most favorable schedule and a few guys on the mound who know how to pitch in pennant races and beyond (Greg Maddux and Derek Lowe, for starters).