This year the Los Angeles Dodgers had one of their best seasons of the past decade reaching the National League Championship Series for the first time in 4 years under the watchful eye of Manager Don Mattingly, who did an amazing job and finished in second place for NL Manager of the Year. The Dodgers were written off at one point before rattling off 50 wins in 70 games to bring them back to life. This feat is only made more impressive when realizing how crippled the Dodgers were from injuries with two of their biggest impact players, Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp, along with ace Zack Greinke, spending a lot of time on the disabled list this past season. As we are only a few short weeks away from pitchers and catchers the Dodgers are the favorite to repeat as NL West Champions.
Barry’s Tickets recently had an article discussing five questions about the Dodgers in 2014, the first of which being…
Four outfielders for three positions:
The Dodgers enter the 2014 season with four everyday players to man the outfield between Kemp, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and rising superstar Yasiel Puig. As far as problems go this is a good one to have as you can never have too many good players. Since coming into the big leagues, Cuban defect Yasiel Puig has been one of the most talked about players in the MLB as a five-tool player who can do it all. Many indications point to Ethier getting the short end of this stick and coming off the bench when one of the other three need time off. This biggest concern will be Kemp who was not even able to play in the playoffs as a result of his injury, which leads us into the second question for the Dodgers…
Will Matt Kemp ever regain his form?
Just two short years ago Matt Kemp finished second in the NL MVP voting behind PED user Ryan Braun after posting the best numbers of his career. That season Kemp won the Silver Slugger as the league’s best hitting Centerfielder, a Golden Glove as the best defensive Center Fielder and hit .324 with 39 home runs and 126 RBI’s. However since that magical season the Dodgers leading man has been plagued by injuries in 2013 having multiple shoulder surgeries in addition to breaking his ankle, undergoing surgery for that as well. Some people have called his broken ankle career threatening which means that this season will be the most important yet for Kemp and is one of the reason the Dodgers can afford to keep the luxury of carrying four everyday outfielders on their roster.
Is there potential starting pitching help on the way?
The Los Angeles Dodgers have one of the best one-two punches in all of baseball between Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke at the top of their rotation. After that however it starts to get a little dicey as they lost their number three Ricky Nolasco to the Twins in the offseason and need to fill his spot with a free agent pitcher. With the Dodgers having some of the deepest pockets in all of the majors they are not afraid to spend money on their team as they have one of the highest team payrolls in all of baseball. If they truly want to fill this spot than they will have to go into those deep pockets to sign the biggest name out there, Masahiro Tanaka. While you may not have heard of him yet, you will as he will be the hottest blue chip pitcher, recently postied by his Japanese team after going 24-0. The Dodgers will be one of a handful of teams vying for his talents which are said to be akin to Yu Darvish and will command a contract in the six year – $100 million range.
Is Donnie Baseball in LA to stay?
After the job he did last year, manager Don Mattingly deserveed a new contract and got one this offseason. This move shows that Los Angeles is committed to having one of the best in the league call the shots for their team for the foreseeable future and creating continuity with his players and the organization.
Can Chad Billingsley return?
Pitcher Chad Billingsley has been lost in the shuffle of the Dodgers rotation and while he has not worn out his welcome in the least he might be better suited to play elsewhere. Billingsley has had his name mentioned as a potential trade piece to bring in some defensive help behind the plate or somewhere else. At just 28 and having won 81 games in his career he does look like he can garner some serious returns for his talents.