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