The MLB season is finally here, as the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks will open the season with a two game set in Sydney Australia this weekend. Both teams have some pressing questions going into their 2014 campaign and I will try to answer five of them.
1. Who will be the starting shortstop for the Diamondbacks?
All signs seem to be pointing towards Chris Owings winning the Diamondbacks' shortstop gig over Didi Gregorius. Owings has hit better this spring (.273 average) than Gregorius (.205 average) while both have committed 2 errors in the field. While spring training numbers don't seem to matter too much, the numbers Owings put up in Reno last year probably do. He hit .330/.359/.482, with 104 runs, 31 doubles, 12 homers, 81 RBIs, and 20 steals in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League. While the Diamondbacks may be more fond of Gregorius' glove, his .252/.332/.373 slash line last year with the big league club leaves more to be desired. Gibson has yet to make his decision and won't make it in Australia as Owings will start in game 1 and Gregorius will start in game 2. I believe Chris Owings will be named the starter once they get back to the states.
2. Who will play second base for the Dodgers?
The Dodgers dished out 4 years $28M to Cuban second basemen Alexander Guerrero this winter. They signed him with hopes that he'd be their opening day second basemen, but he has a lot of work to do defensively. It looks like we may be looking at a 2B platoon between Justin Turner and Dee Gordon. Turner has been a very solid right handed utility man for the Mets the past few seasons and should be able to handle the second base platoon vs left handers. The son of former relief pitcher Tom Gordon, Dee Gordon has been a disappointment up to this point in his career. He doesn't walk enough to utilize his most impressive tool; his speed. The Dodgers will give Gordon one more shot to prove his worth and he'll most likely play only against right handed pitchers. I don't think either Turner or Gordon will finish the year as the Dodgers' second basemen and I have my doubts that it will be Alexander Guerrero either. I think they will most likely make a trade at the deadline. A name to watch would be Chase Utley.
3. Should Archie Bradley start the season in the Diamondbacks' rotation?
Before Patrick Corbin went down for the season with a UCL tear, there was little doubt that Archie Bradley would begin the season in the minors. Now it becomes a legitimate question, would the Diamondbacks rather give Bradley more minor league seasoning and put Randall Delgado at the #5 spot in the rotation or take off the leash and let Bradley start the season in Arizona. Bradley has struggled a bit with command this spring but there is no denying his blazing fastball and incredible curveball will miss plenty of bats. It all depends on if the Diamondbacks are desperate enough to give up the extra year of control. If not, Bradley will be up by mid May at the earliest. I personally think he's ready and would start him in the big leagues.
4. What will the Dodgers do with their 4 outfielders for 3 spots?
The Dodgers will have only two of their potential four starting outfielders with them this weekend in Australia. Matt Kemp is still getting himself into game shape as he recovers from multiple injuries and Carl Crawford is missing the trip due to the birth of his child. Scott Van Slyke will get the start in Sydney along side Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig. Once the Dodgers return to Los Angeles the questions will start to pile up; what is Don Mattingly's plan with the outfield? Assuming all four players are healthy one can assume that either Carl Crawford or Andre Ethier would be the odd man out but would either player be content with sitting on the bench? I strongly doubt that. While Crawford and Kemp are very injury prone, Dodger's General Manager Ned Colleti may need to consider a trade. Someone is going to be disappointed that they aren't a starting outfielder and the Dodgers could very much use a second basemen. Could there be a potential match between the Mariners and Dodgers? Nick Franklin and a prospect for Ethier or Crawford with the Dodgers' picking up some of the cash could be an ideal trade.
5. Will the Diamondbacks retaliate for "PoolGate"?
The Dodgers and Diamondbacks were involved in a nasty exchange last year. Former Diamondback's pitcher Ian Kennedy threw at Yasiel Puig, which sparked an intense bench clearing brawl. The Brawl involved not only the players but some high profile former players who just so happened to be coaches of the two ball clubs. Some of those coaches involved in the brawl were Kirk Gibson, Don Mattingly, Mark McGwire, new Nationals' manager Matt Williams, and Don Baylor. Later in the season the Dodgers clinched the National League West title in Arizona and celebrated by jumping into the pool in right field. Players on the Dbacks shared their displeasure of this act on twitter and they are still probably fuming about it. Will they retaliate now that the games matter? I have a feeling that they may wait until they get back to the United States before they try to get even, since they are representing the country on this trip. If a player gets hit by a pitch, intentional or not, we may see some fireworks from down under in Australia!
Thanks for reading this article. If you want more analysis and baseball information follow me on twitter @RavenNation21. I will alert you on there when my newest baseball articles are up. HAPPY OPENING DAY!