Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 7/9/12

Even though their best player, Matt Kemp, missed 51 of 87 games prior to the All-Star break, the Dodgers head into the break in first place in the National League West. With Kemp and Andre Ethier set to return, their playoff prospects look very strong.

Kemp and Ethier are scheduled to be activated for Friday's game, and while that will be a boost to the offense there is still plenty of room for upgrade.

James Loney and Juan Uribe have been huge disappointments in the first half, and the Dodgers are last in the National League in home runs from their first basemen (four) and third basemen (three).

"If you're going to look at negatives, our corners production has been a disappointment. We went into the season counting on Matt and Andre to be a one-two punch, and knew I needed some wing guys for them," said manager Don Mattingly. "The guys that we were thinking could be those guys to this point have not been those guys."

The Dodgers missed out on 1B/3B Kevin Youkilis, who was traded to the White Sox, and they missed out on 1B Carlos Lee, who went to the Marlins. But the Dodgers will almost certainly look to upgrade at first base and/or third base.

In addition, with Ted Lilly still likely at least a month away from returning and no viable options behind Nathan Eovaldi, the Dodgers will likely be in the market for a starting pitcher as well. Ryan Dempster, making $14 million in the final year of his contract with the Cubs, comes to mind as a possible trade target.

But the biggest upgrade the Dodgers will get is Kemp, who hit .355 with 12 home runs and a .719 slugging percentage in 36 games earlier this season. His return, along with Ethier, gives the Dodgers two players who hit 22 of their 51 team home runs prior to the All-Star break. With a more stable lineup in the second half, along with other possible upgrades, look for the Dodgers to continue to contend.

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