It’s about that time everyone. Pitchers and Catchers reported to camp, Spring Training is on the Horizon, Yeah Dodger baseball is just up the street. Last season was indeed a wild one. Dodgers starting the first half of the season struggling, Injuries, and just a lot of negatives but towards the end of that a Cuban rookie sensation by the name of Yasiel Puig help provide a spark for the Dodgers historic turn around. The Dodgers managed to go on a rampage through the National League and came from being 10 games out of 1st place to winning the NL West and making it back to the Postseason for the first time since 2009. In the Postseason the Dodgers knocked off the Braves in what was a pretty wild NLDS before getting eliminated by the St Louis Cardinals in 6 games in what I believe was caused by mistakes and mismanagement. This season coming up now filled with a lot of expectations but along with those expectations comes many questions that are asked. This season is none different. Have some questions regarding the Dodgers 2014 Season? You can find them right here.
Yasiel Puig?- There’s so many questions you can ask regarding Yasiel Puig. There’s two questions that I have in regards to him. How much has he learned/improved in the off-season and Can he repeat his Rookie Season performance? The first question I ask is because there were some bad habits that he had that I do believe needed attention. You have to remember that Puig has raw talent that needed to be coached and I do believe the off-season was the best time for that. In an article Don Mattingly talked about maybe having Puig switch with Crawford in the lead off role. Puig’s big thing was the lack of patients at the plate so maybe he learned to take a pitch or two at the plate. The other questions is more about consistency. Yes Puig will have bad games, That happens but I am worried about the sophomore Slump. Something that tends to happen to second year players a lot. Puig slumped a little towards the end of the season and in the Postseason and this season he will have big expectations but he handled the pressure coming into the Majors. Lets hope he can handle it this season.
What can we expect from Alexander Guerrero?- This off-season the Dodgers made another splash in the international market. No not Tanaka but a Cuban infielder by the name of Alex Guerrero. Guerrero originally plays shortstop but is being converted to 2nd base which huge need for the Dodgers. Many Dodger fans let alone baseball fans don’t know much about Alexander Guerrero but from what we have seen in workout videos and reports from winter league is that the kid can play. During the Winter League Guerrero was really impressing with the bat by batting .289 with 6 RBI’s in 36 at bats. Guerrero was also hit with injuries which cut his season short. Yeah we don’t know too much and won’t know much until Spring Training but I can’t wait to see what he can bring to this team.
5 Starting Pitching Spot- This really has been a huge question for many fans as of late. Dodgers have Kershaw, Grienke, and Ryu as a for sure 1-2-3 and have already signed Dan Haren which means he’ll most likely be 4th in the rotation. That leaves the 5th spot in the rotation open and multiple options. There’s Josh Beckett and Chad Billingsley who are returning from injury. Well only Beckett as Billingsley is out until July. Beckett who was apart of that huge trade back in 2012 had a promising Spring Training last season only to really come out the gate struggling before getting injured and missing the whole season. Dodgers can’t really trade him so it’s a matter of what the Dodgers will do. Then there’s the option of maybe calling up a pitcher. Zach Lee will be with the team during Spring Training so many fans will get a real look at the Top pitching prospect in the Organization. While Lee getting dropped into the 5th spot of the rotation is highly unlikely it’s an option I wouldn’t mind the Dodgers exercising at all. Then there’s signing a pitcher out of Free Agency which is another route the Dodgers seem to be taking. Lately Dodgers could be in on Bronson Arroyo which would give them a set rotation right there. It’s not really the most favorable but it shows that they aren’t too keen on the idea of Beckett or calling up a pitcher. I honestly believe if they miss out on Arroyo then we’ll see Beckett 5th in the rotation until Billingsley return over the summer. (Update: Paul Malhom was signed to a 1 year deal for 1.5 Million)
Outfield Log Jam- This seemed to be the huge issue as of late and the talk of baseball. The outfield situation that the Dodgers are facing right now between Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Yasiel Puig. In the offseason it seemed as if Ethier or Kemp would be on the way out until Ned Coletti said that keeping All four was the plan right now. Reason this is a question is because you have this issue. Who starts and who sits? We know Puig will likely be in there everyday in some way but what about the rest? Well that won’t be a problem for now because Kemp won’t be available anytime soon until he’s completely healthy. So Dodgers will mostly go with the outfield they had during the Postseason. Now when Kemp returns things will get interesting. I’m interested to see how Mattingly handles things. Will he make Kemp earn his spot or will he throw Kemp right into the mix? Something tells me that there will be a platoon situation. You can bring up a possible trade but it’ll be hard to see if any trade will take place during the season unless one of them gets frustrated over not playing everyday. Lets also not forget that Joc Pederson down in the minors. One of the top prospects in the Dodger organization was close to being called up with Puig. Could see him up this season if needed.
Matt Kemp Rebound Year?- Last season was a very forgettable one when you talk about Matt Kemp. A season filled with slumps and injuries that hampered the Outfielder. Once Puig was up and performing the way he was then things got complicated about who would play where. Kemp missed the postseason with an ankle injury and was forced to have surgery on his ankle and a clean up on his shoulder. During the off-season Kemp name was on the Trade block and teams like Seattle and Boston wanted him but at the end of Winter Meetings Dodgers opted to keep him. This season key thing to ask is this: Will Matt Kemp be a productive player? When healthy he can be but with bad discipline at the plate which was something we saw a lot last season. It’ll be unknown when Kemp will be available and Kemp isn’t rushing back at all which is good. I do believe Kemp can stay healthy but I do see the return to MVP form with the number of surgeries he has had.
Can Juan Uribe repeat his 2013 season?- Last season Juan Uribe had an outstanding 2013 season batting .275 with 12 HR and 50 RBI’s. A huge improvement from his 1st two years with the Dodgers. In the postseason Uribe really came up huge especially hitting the Home Run to put the Dodgers up and eliminate the Atlanta Braves in Game 4 of the NLDS. His 2013 performance earned him a 2 year $15 Million dollar contract with Los Angeles. Come the 2014 season Uribe will be the starting 3rd Baseman. Can he repeat his 2013 season and be the Juan Uribe we all expected him to be when the Dodgers first signed him? It seems like he can be with plate discipline he has developed last season by taking more pitches and laying off the bad ones and defensively being a monster. We can only wait and see.
Can The Dodgers Get Production From The Bench?- This is another huge question mark on this team. The Bench. Dodgers lost Skip Schumaker, Nick Punto, and Mark Ellis to free agency and Michael Young retired rather than accept a deal from anyone , Guys who produced pretty well for the Dodgers last season. This year the Dodgers will most likely have Scott Van Slyke, Justin Sellers, Dee Gordon, Kemp/Crawford/Ethier, and Tim Federowicz to name a few on the bench. Van Slyke can provide a power bat off the bench and Dee can provide speed off the bench but if one of the starters go down then what can we expect from them? Dee has had fielding issues and trouble getting on base to utilize his speed, Sellers hasn’t been hitting that well in the Majors, and Tim Federowicz can be really inconsistent. While there are negatives to it they could surprise us this season off the bench. It’ll be unknown how much the Dodgers will miss those guys they lost to FA or retirement.
These are just some of the many questions that will be answered once the season starts. I along with many Dodger fans can’t wait to see what the season holds in store. Spring Training is here and some of our questions will soon be answered.