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Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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Rule 1 of Spring Training Baseball Previews: Questions can’t just be questions, they must be burning questions. You might have other questions. There might be other questions.

They might be good, fair, relevant questions. We’re talking, after all, about a Los Angeles Dodgers team rightly expected to compete for a World Series. All the details, big and small, make a difference. But those questions are not burning questions.

Only these four. For now, at least.

So, with that in mind…

4. Matt Kemp is gone, but the Dodgers still have too many outfielders. What do they do?

Joc Pederson in center, Yasiel Puig in right, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier in left, with Ethier floating around a little when someone needs a day off and a righty is on the mound.

There’s also Scott Van Slyke, ideal as a fourth outfielder, along with Chris Heisey and Kike Hernandez, both of whom can play all three spots. My math tells me that’s too many guys.

Of course, the Dodgers would love to move Ethier, and probably will engage in that giant exercise of contract-swallowing before the start of the season assuming Pederson a) doesn’t get hurt, and b) doesn’t forget how to catch.

Pederson’s 2014 Minor League season and potential notwithstanding, the Dodgers can’t really expect him to rake his way into the lineup. They moved Kemp in large part to open up a spot for Pederson. If they did so without factoring in the potential for a slow start — he’s a rookie after all — it was a major mistake.

The Dodgers certainly can’t hold on to Ethier just as an insurance policy. To his credit, the habitually surly outfielder was on his best behavior last season, but expecting him not to grow agitated twice in a row is a reach.

But assuming they can find a taker, once Ethier is gone the Dodgers actually have a nicely balanced slate of players still on the roster, and (as in all things) the resources to find an alternative, should it become necessary.

CONTINUE READING: Three More Burning Questions The Dodgers Face

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5 Responses

  1. Benzojones

    “Habitually surly” is going to be my new pen name.

    Reply
    • Brian Kamenetzky

      Well, the line about him being “agitated” was more colorful originally, too… 🙂

      –BK

      Reply
  2. Mike P

    The problem with the assertion that the playoffs are more about the one-swing differential is that the Dodgers lost to the Cards mostly because of pitching and manufactured runs. They weren’t home run derbies, but the Cards put up strings of hits that helped them put runners in position and score runs. Yes, the increased defense will eliminate some of those, but Grandal, Kendrick, and Rollins are no slouches at the plate. I honestly believe this is going to be a team more about the manufactured runs/small ball. Less RISP, which KILLED the Dodgers last year.

    Reply
    • Brian Kamenetzky

      Fair. Point wasn’t that there’s no value in timely hitting or manufactured runs in the postseason, just that home runs become more valuable. Look at KC — not a power team by any stretch, but got HUGE home runs throughout. Same for SF. HR derby isn’t it. It’s more like one big HR… and that’s it. Statistically, at least, one-swing power has incredible value in the postseason.

      –BK

      Reply
      • Mike P

        Totally agree that they ARE more valuable because they’re harder to get. I think a lot of focus this season will be on how to get Puig to stay out of his own way, Kershaw to not pressure himself so much, Kershaw to get a little more rest before the playoffs, and the bullpen to perform better. Bullpen and RISP were definitely killers last season, and with the moves made this year I think (well, i HOPE) there’s going to be less issue with that.

        No matter what, this is going to be a very exciting season. I’m stoked for all of the new faces and to see how everything unfolds!

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