Dodgers camp report: Likes, dislikes
The names are exciting, but are they the right ones to get the Dodgers winning again?
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- What I like, and don't like, about the Dodgers:
Things I like:
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• The names are exciting. Take the best years from Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Josh Beckett, and you'd think there's no way this team won't win.
• Don Mattingly's calming influence helped the Dodgers get through many tough days in the last years of the McCourt ownership debacle. Now it should help them (the players, anyway) avoid panicking if the sky-high expectations aren't immediately met.
• Along with all the big names, the Dodgers also have some "glue" guys who can help hold the clubhouse together. Second baseman Mark Ellis may be as important as any of them.
• For years, Dodger Stadium never seemed to show its age. Then it did, to the point where it needed plenty of work. Fortunately, along with all the money spent on the roster, the new ownership is spending plenty on renovating the ballpark, too.
• Isn't there something comforting about just hearing Vin Scully's voice? There sure is for me (yes, I grew up in Southern California). But I'll bet there is for a whole bunch of other people too.
Things I don't like:
• When the new ownership came in and the Dodgers suddenly had money to spend, the first two players they targeted were Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez. They badly needed a first baseman and a shortstop, so that made sense. But are they the right guys? Plenty of people who have been around Ramirez (and a few who know Gonzalez) might question whether they are.
• There's nothing wrong with high expectations. There's nothing wrong with acknowledging them. But you sure get the sense around the Dodgers that at some point, high expectations could become high pressure.
• For all the money spent, this team has big questions. Do the Dodgers really have a leadoff hitter? Is the bullpen good enough, and should they really have spent all that money on Brandon League? Is Chad Billingsley really healthy? Why can't Andre Ethier hit left-handers anymore? Whether he's a good guy or a bad guy, can Ramirez still handle playing shortstop? Even if he is healthy, can Crawford ever again be the player he was with the Rays?