Dodgers’ Early Spring Training Start a Necessary Evil

Due to the geniuses who decided that the Dodgers and their evil division rival Arizona Diamondbacks would be opening the 2014 season in of all places Australia, the two teams were anointed extra special spring training status, beginning the tedium today, several days ahead of the rest of baseball.

The Dodgers and their recently empowered empty uniform non-manager don mattingly begin the process of readying for the season with more than the normal number of question marks that would generally be seen in a team that is a runaway pick to not just win its division, but be in the thick of competition for the big prize of a World Series berth.



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This is of course due to the fact that they are playing in the worst division in major league baseball, one in which no other team ended the 2013 season above .500 and one in which no teams except the Dodgers and possibly a resurgent Giants’ team have any prayer of doing so this coming season.

The number one issue facing the Dodgers is of course the health of Matt Kemp. Having four quality, healthy outfielders is NOT a problem, as some suggest, and a Matt Kemp able to be in the lineup and produce as

he has done in the past is essential for the team to have a chance at more than a division title. With Carl Crawford always having one nagging injury or another and with Yasiel Puig playing with reckless abandon and little regard of his personal well-being with a game on the line, there will be playing time for every healthy outfielder. Hopefully number one on that healthy list is Kemp.

There there is the second base situation, where the team pilled millions and millions of dollars on Cuban shortstop Alexander Guerrero, hoping that he can over the winter and through spring training be transformed into a major league second baseman. If that doesn’t work out all the team has to fall back on are two other shortstops trying to play second base in Dee Gordon and Justin Sellers, and newly signed veteran backup infielder Justin Turner, who played at
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second in only 28 of the 180 games he was in over the past two seasons. There is also Chone Figgins, who is attempting a comeback after sitting out last season following his two awful years in Seattle. I won’t rehash what I wrote here about Figgins.

Then there is the question of the fifth starter in a rotation that begins with three studs and one question mark, but then hits a nice giant void, given that all available current


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possibilities for that final slot are coming off serious injuries, most of whom will not be available for the start of the season. So, as Chad Billingsley and Stephen Fife rehab through spring training and the first half of the regular season, only Josh Beckett has a real shot among veterans for that spot. No wonder the team is still making noise in the Bronson Arroyo sweepstakes. Matt Magill, who

fared not well in six starts last season (0-2, 6.51 ERA, 28 BB in 28 IP), is next in line, but lurking in the background, ready to show it is his time, is Zack Lee. The 22-year-old lefty had a good but not great year in Double-A last year (10-10, 3.22 ERA, 1.171 WHIP, four-to-one strikeout-to-walk ratio), and is more than likely at least a year away from the majors, but in time of need, if he shows development and maturity in the spring, he could move up really fast.

Baseball is BACK!

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