On paper, the Los Angeles Dodgers might be the best team in baseball. They may have been last year, as well. But a lot still needed to go right for them to turn around what was quickly becoming a disastrous season.
After a June 21 loss at San Diego, the last-place Dodgers fell to 30-42 and were 9.5 games behind the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks. If not for the newly promoted Yasiel Puig, a healthy Hanley Ramirez and a rejuvenated Andre Ethier leading the team to an NL West title with an astonishing 62 victories in their last 90 regular-season games, this talented roster would've been one huge disappointment.
If we learned anything from their 2013 season, it's that the Dodgers are capable of being a nearly unbeatable team when things are firing on all cylinders. And when a lot of things go wrong, as can be the case for many teams throughout a season, they don't have the depth to overcome it.
A lot can still go wrong in 2014. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered.
Was Puig's MVP-caliber rookie performance a result of teams having limited information on him with only 63 games of minor league experience under his belt when he debuted in the majors? And if so, will he make the proper adjustments in order to maintain his production?
Can Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez stay healthy for a full season?
Will Josh Beckett come back strong from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery? Will Chad Billingsley return at all from May 2013 Tommy John surgery? Did the Dodgers sign the Dan Haren who posted a 5.61 ERA in the first half of last season or the Dan Haren who finished strong with a 3.52 ERA in the second half?
After one good season following two horrible seasons, which Juan Uribe will show up in 2014? Can second baseman Alexander Guerrero make the transition from Cuba to the major leagues?
While it's clear that this Dodgers team, on paper, is championship caliber, there are far too many questions to call the Dodgers a lock to even return to the playoffs. If more things go right than wrong, though, there's a good chance that they'll cruise to their second consecutive division title.