Everyone seems to assume the Los Angeles Dodgers, who won 92 games and the NL West last season, will repeat as division champs.
But the Arizona Diamondbacks, who led the division for much of the season last year only to finish 11 games behind the Dodgers, would like to spoil L.A.’s
pool party by claiming the division for themselves.
So, the D-backs made some pretty big changes over the offseason. The Dodgers, on the other hand, didn’t do much.
Will that be a problem?
“I think they’re going to have enough issues in itself with the four starting outfielders,” D-backs excutive Luis Gonzalez told the Dan Bickley Show with Vince Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “When those guys are all healthy, these are guys that all want to play every day, and if they all come to camp healthy, that’s going to be an issue itself.
“I know everybody always says things will work themselves out, but when they’re all healthy and standing there the first week of spring training and one of them’s not playing every day…”
Gonzalez, a former D-backs outfielder, is talking about the combination of Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig, all of whom have been every day players in the Major Leagues, and each of whom is getting paid a salary commensurate with someone who is an upper-echelon player.
Gonzalez said it will be up to manager Don Mattingly and the coaching staff to explain to whoever is sitting that they’re just getting a day to rest, but the player may view it as something more.
Also, the team may struggle to replace guys like Skip Schumaker and Mark Ellis, who left over the offseason.
“Those guys were glue on that team,” he said. “Those are the hard-working guys, just like [Craig Counsell was] on our team in 2001.
“I think sometimes as a staff you underestimate those type of players and those are the guys that you count on when the game’s on the line to come through and get on base for the big guys and do all the little things that help you win ball games.”