5 Los Angeles Dodgers Storylines to Follow During Spring Training
5 Los Angeles Dodgers Storylines to Watch This Spring
Is it possible for a team with a $220 million payroll to have question marks entering a season? If that team is the 2014 Los Angeles Dodgers, then you bet it is. We are talking about a team with two Cy Young Award winners in their starting rotation, and four former closers in their bullpen. We are talking about a team of guys with a combined 29 All-Star game appearances and the team that finished first in the NL West in 2013. So how does a team with those types of credentials have question marks, you ask?
The Dodgers will approach spring training with an unknown rookie second baseman from Cuba, an out of shape, 34-year-old third baseman and a plethora of expensive outfielders. Shortstop Hanley Ramirez was injured three separate times last season and the Dodgers lost some key bench players to free agency and retirement. Now it is not all as bad as it sounds, as the Dodgers are the odds on favorite to win the NL West. They are going to hit a lot of home runs and score a lot of runs and with the reigning NL Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw. With the 2009 Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke, they will give up a lot less.
Barring any major injuries, this team will be a fun team to watch, a difficult one to stop and one that you don’t want to be looking up at in the standings. But let's take a closer look at 5 questions that will need answers this spring.
5. Can Juan Uribe Play the Hot Corner Everyday
The Dodgers are entering the 2014 season with Juan Uribe as their primary third baseman. Uribe does not look like an athlete. He has always had a nice bat, but the last time he had over 400 at bats was in 2010. Last season Uribe split time with Michael Young near the end of the season, but Young has since retired. The Dodgers do not have a proven backup third baseman on the 40-man roster.
4. Is the Young Cuban Ready for the Show
The Los Angeles Dodgers have always been a team that scouted the Latin American talent well. This season is no different as they enter spring training with a rookie second baseman in Cuban youngster Alexander Guerrero. In eight seasons in Cuba, the 26-year-old Guerrero has averaged 20 home runs and a .300 average. The question is, how well will his skills translate to the majors?
3. Four Outfielders for Three Spots
If the Los Angeles Dodgers do find that Juan Uribe or Alexander Guerrero are not ready to be the starter at their respective positions, they have trade pieces in their outfield. With Yasiel Puig coming onto the scene with a bang last season, he joins Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford in the crowded outfield. The plus side is if there is an injury early in the season they have depth. The downside is aside from Puig, the other three outfielders are very expensive. We will see if all four outfielders are still on the roster by the end of spring training.
2. Will Matt Kemp be Healthy for the Start of the Season
Matt Kemp is arguably the most explosive all around talent in the game today when healthy. The key to that statement is “when healthy”. Kemp was the 2011 runner up in MVP voting, but since then has struggled through two injury plagued seasons. Kemp had off-season left shoulder and left ankle surgery. Kemp is the complete five-tool player and the key to this powerful Dodgers lineup. Keep an eye on Kemp in the spring; if healthy he will look to regain his MVP form.
1. Will Yasiel Puig's Off-Field Problems be a Distraction
Yasiel Puig was an offensive spark plug for the Los Angeles Dodgers last season. Yes, he made his mistakes on the bases and in the field, but the kid is talented. The bigger issue is the mistakes off the field. Puig has been charged with speeding and been arrested for wreckless driving. Puig reminds me of another former Dodger right fielder, Raul Mondesi -- he had all the talent in the world but lived for the money and the fame, and never lived up to his potential. The Dodgers are hoping that Puig’s actions are the bi-product of his youth and that he will mature and put the off-the-field issues behind him and resume his talented career in Dodger blue.
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