Questions abound as Dodgers prepare for first full-squad workout
The Dodgers’ first full-squad workout of the spring is scheduled Tuesday, the first time the new/old gang will get together and focus on turning around last year’s disappointing season.
Whatta ya think?
All new and improved? Ready for a real title run? Same ol’, same ol’? Mediocrity on display? A team ready to blossom?
Listen, if things fall right, they could win the division. Really. They could also easily come in third.
The thing about year’s Dodgers is that they have a question at every single position. Uncertainty at each one.
If you give them that their rotation is solid, after that it’s all questions, with a first-time manager, a revamped bullpen, a struggling closer.
Now, some are of more concern than others, but there is nothing with reasonable certainty you can write in and expect out of any spot on the field.
At catcher, gone is Russell Martin, now in is 35-year-old Rod Barajas, Dioner Navarro, fresh off his .l94 season, and A.J. Ellis.
New is second baseman Juan Uribe, having to prove his fairly modest career year in 2010 (.248, 24 homers, 85 RBI) wasn’t a one-season fluke.
There are several spots where players are coming off poor second halves: first baseman James Loney (.211, .285 on-base, .331 slugging); third baseman Casey Blake (.234, .298, .383); shortstop Rafael Furcal (.243, .338, .364).
In the outfield, Andre Ethier has to prove his injuries are behind him, Matt Kemp that last year’s disappointment was a one-year drop-off, and that the aged platoon of Jay Gibbons and Marcus Thames can be productive.
And then there is Furcal having to simply stay healthy, Blake proving the years haven’t caught up with him, Barajas that his brief offensive outburst when acquired last year can at least be approached.
"If you go by history, and not just last year’s history, there’s more out of Matt and Andre that we saw last year, because we saw it in ’09," said General Manager Ned Colletti. "I think you could say the same thing about James.
"Second base, we should have more productivity with Juan. Not a high on-base percentage, but more of a run-producing bat. Raffy’s health is always tied to his performance and confidence. The catching, defensively I assume should be a plus, and the offense anything you can get out of that position is a plus.
"Casey, if he plays a little bit less, which is against his nature, will probably be as productive production-wise. Left field we have questions, there’s no doubt. We have a platoon there that could work. But just because you start February with an idea doesn’t mean you’ll be there in March or April or July either."
A few questions might be answered over the next six weeks, but most take the start of the season.
If, by some chance, all are answered in the positive, then the Dodgers could be pretty good. That, of course, is up to question.
-- Steve Dilbeck