ESPN baseball writer Jayson Stark released his spring training preview survey, in which he asks a series of questions to 23 executives heading into camp to find out grades and predictions for the upcoming season.
This year, one of the biggest stories of the off-season and 2014 season is the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are one of the favorites to make the World Series.
According to Stark, the Dodgers were the talk among baseball executives and were mentioned in plenty of categories, including most intriguing National League spring story:
1. Excess Hollywood: Here’s yet one more team the execs in our poll are clearly mesmerized by. Since last we saw the L.A. Dodgers of Chavez Ravine, they’ve extended the contracts of their manager (Don Mattingly) and their resident Cy Young (Clayton Kershaw). They’ve provided helpful driving tips for Yasiel Puig. They’ve lengthened their rotation by handing much-lauded, one-year deals to Dan Haren and Paul Maholm. They’ve loaded up on bullpen depth by signing Jamey Wright and Chris Perez, and by bringing back J.P. Howelland Brian Wilson’s facial hair. They’ve got a payroll that’s still hovering somewhere around $220 million. And yet we still don’t know what to make of their four-headed outfield monster, where Josh Beckett fits or whether much-ballyhooed Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero can play second base. Then again, what we do know is that, if trouble arises, there’s apparently enough money in the checking account to fix it.
Also, the Dodgers were ranked the third-most improved team of the winter, behind the Washington Nationals and San Diego Padres. This off-season, the team re-signed Brian Wilson and J.P. Howell, signed Chris Perez, Jamey Wright, Dan Haren, Alex Guerrero and Paul Maholm. None of the moves were big-name moves, but all could pay off during the season.
The Maholm and Wright signings also made the list as the two of the three best signings under $2 million. Maholm may prove to be a steal at one-year, $1.5 million, although performance-baseed incentives can easily push that to over $6 million. Of course, that would mean that Maholm does well and the Dodgers wouldn’t mind paying. Wright came back to the team after a year away and has been one of the most dependable right-handed arms in recent years. Considering that Wilson will be making $10 million this season, Wright at $1.8 is another steal.
Lastly, Dodgers’ outfielder Matt Kemp was number two on the list of most important injury comebacks. Kemp is coming off shoulder and ankle surgery, but the ankle has been the one that continues to hold him back. The 29-year-old has vowed to take his time and return when fully healthy, but he’s a player that can turn the team from contender to favorite with his presence in the lineup.
Spring training is underway and the Dodgers will continue to be one of the hotter topics around baseball, which should continue through October.
ICYMI: The Dodgers signed two international players, Yasiel Puig has shoulder inflammation and much more