As spring training starts I thought I'd take a look back and see how the questions we had last year last year were answered.
1. Who will be the 3rd baseman? The prospect who is ready to play everyday or the over the hill veteran with something to prove. I'm not as down on Nomar as the rest of you but LaRoche should be given the job with plenty of room to fail. - Neither won the job as injuries took them both out. Did LaRoche's injury effect him all season? We will find out this year as the Pirates give him plenty of at bats to find out what they have.
2. Who will play everyday in the outfield? Jones is a given in CF but everything else is up in the air. You have voted on what you think will happen, now we shall find out how Joe Torre manages. In the beginning Joe went with Pierre but by the end of the year he had figured out that Pierre was his 4th outfielder.
3. Who will win the utility spot? It would appear it is between Abreu, Hu, and Ramon Martinez. But they keep talking about Nomar as a super sub. No one seems to think he can do it but remember this is the same manager who played Betemit at 2nd and SS last year after everyone said Betemit could only play 3rd base. I'm not counting out Nomar as becoming the super sub and opening up a roster spot. Of course once Torre see's Kent play 2nd base he will probably opt to keep a defensive utility player. Abreu got hurt again. Hu won the job and then was terrible.
4. Will Schmidt by ready April 1st to take his spot in the rotation? If not, will there be competition between Loaiza and Kuo for the 5th spot? It is not out of the realm of possibility that all three could get hurt during spring training. Who then would be the next realistic option? Jason Johnson?Schmidt was a lost cause all year. Turns out wonder boy Kershaw was the 5th starter.
5. Who fills out the bullpen? Saito, Broxton, Beimel, and Proctor are the locks. Picking the final 2 or 3 slots will depend on if Schmidt is in the rotation. If he is then expect Loaiza and Kuo to take 2 of those slots. If not then one goes into the rotation and Seanez, Brazoban, Chan Ho, Hull, Myers, Koplov, Martin, and Stults can fight for the last two spots.Kuo became the go to guy and Chan Ho suprised everyone by winning the other job and doing it well for the most part. Cory Wade was wasn't even mentioned and also became a key part of the bullpen. Hull was traded, and most of the veterans mentioned were never used.
6. Will it be Repko or D Young to round out the outfield? D Young out of options won the job while Repko did nothing to improve his status in AAA.
7. Is Elbert back from his minor shoulder surgery?Yes, but he only pitching out of the bullpen. At times he seemed a long ways away from the man expected to be pitching with Billingsley by now. He got a cup of coffee in Sept but his control was unimpressive.
8. Is Morris able to regain his command and stuff after Tommy John?Not really, he was uninspiring and was traded along with LaRoche for Mannywood.
9. Can Greg Miller throw a strike once in a while?He could throw strikes but not as often as he threw balls. Another lost season for the man with the golden arm.
So those are the questions I asked last spring. Not very insightful in retrospect. Here are some of the questions I should have asked.
1. Could Jeff Kent provide enough offense for this team in his 40 year season? - No, injuries as expected did him in.
2. Would Andruw Jones bounce back from his sub par 2007 season - Uh, that was a big resounding no.
3. Would Hiroki Kuroda be worth his contract? After June/July it was not looking good, but he got a 2nd wind and had an excellent Aug/Sept and then was our best post season pitcher. I'd say Yes.
4. Would Kuo start or relieve and would his arm stay on? He really found his groove as the best setup man in baseball until his arm failed him in Sept. So Yes, and No.
5. Which Furcal would show up, the injury plagued one or the MVP of 2006? Sadly, both.
6. Would Clayton Kershaw be allowed to pitch in the major leagues? Yes, a resounding yes.
What questions do you hope to see answered in 2009?