"Assuming we're not hurt, if we can't get them to play the game right, they may have the wrong voice. There's a ton of talent here."
So spoke Don Mattingly earlier this spring, putting the full onus on him if the Los Angeles Dodgers do not live up to the record-setting millions their Guggenheim Partners ownership group has invested in them. A year ago, just coming out of the ruinous ownership of Frank McCourt, the Dodger payroll was at $91 million. After the blockbuster trading deadline deal with the Red Sox last summer that added $261 million in salary commitments — left fielder Carl Crawford, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and righthander Josh Beckett — followed by the $160 million contract extension for center fielder Matt Kemp, and finally the combined $183 million investment in starting pitchers Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu over the winter, the Dodger payroll for 2013 is estimated to be $213 million.
Mattingly is right about the ton of talent at his disposal, although two key components — Kemp, the 2011 NL MVP runnerup who missed over 50 games last season with hamstring issues, and Crawford, who missed most of last year with an elbow ailment — are coming off injury problems. Crawford's elbow is apparently sound, but that may not be entirely good news because he blocks the path in left field for Yasiel Puig, the precocious 22-year-old Cuban refugee who got a seven-year $42 million deal and who was the hitting sensation of the spring. Greinke and the equally impressive Korean lefty, Ryu, join a rotation headed up by back-to-back NL ERA leader Clayton Kershaw, along with Beckett and 12-game winner Chad Billingsley. The only injury issue coming out of spring training for the Dodgers was the loss of shortstop Hanley Ramirez for 10 weeks with a broken thumb, leaving Mattingly with unsettling options: playing Dee Gordon there, or possibly moving third baseman Luis Cruz over.
For all the Dodgers' money and talent roster, the defending world champion Giants have every reason to feel they still have the stuff to repeat. The one concern coming out of spring training was World Series hero Pablo Sandoval's inflamed elbow, the result of a bone spur. General manager Brian Sabean's primary offseason moves were internal — re-signing center fielder Angel Pagan after his career season (.288, 29 stolen bases) season and infielder Marco Scutaro after his yeoman contributions (.362, 44 RBI in 61 games; .500 with four RBI in the NLCS) as a trading deadline pickup last year.
Sabean also re-signed Sergio Romo, who emerged as an unhittable closer (1.79, 63K and just 10 walks in 55.1 innings) to a two-year deal. Until proven otherwise, the Giants' top four starters — Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong — match up favorably with any rotation in baseball, and they remain optimistic that Tim Lincecum, despite a subpar spring, will regain at least a semblance of his Cy Young form in his free agent walk year after making some mechanics adjustments.
Arizona Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers' best-laid plans took a huge hit this spring when rookie center fielder Adam Eaton was sidelined for two months with a sprained left elbow. Towers, who traded away starting outfielders Justin Upton and Chris Young over the winter, was counting on the speedy Eaton being a major cog at the top of the lineup. On top of that, Cody Ross, whom Towers signed to fill the outfield void, was sidelined most of the spring with a calf injury and will start the season on the disabled list. The injuries to Eaton and Ross opened the door for rookie A.J. Pollock, who hit .318 with 21 stolen bases at Triple-A Reno last year, and Jason Kubel, who, despite his 30 homers and 90 RBI last year, was rumored to also be on Towers' trading block. The Diamondbacks don't have near the lineup to compete with the Giants and Dodgers, and it would seem they'll go as far as their starting pitching can take them.
It is the same old story in Colorado where the Rockies, losers of 98 games last year, desperately try to find pitchers who can pitch in Coors Field. This spring, rookie manager Walt Weiss put the emphasis on ground balls by charting the number each pitcher was able to induce. It's very conceivable that if the Rockies have another 90-plus loss season, they'll look to move shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, with the latter being especially attractive to the Yankees and Mets.
But no team had a worse spring than the San Diego Padres, who saw their best player and NL RBI leader, third baseman Chase Headley, go down with thumb injury that will keep him sidelined until at least mid-April, and their top prospect, righthander Casey Kelly, who was slotted for a place in their rotation, felled by an elbow injury that required season-ending Tommy John surgery. In addition, Carlos Quentin, whom the Padres are counting on for middle-of-the-order power, was hobbled most of the spring with discomfort in his twice surgically repaired right knee.
WHAT'S NEW: Martin Prado was acquired in the Justin Upton trade and will man the hot corner in the desert after returning to form last season in Atlanta. He hit .301 and had career highs in RBI (70), doubles (42), walks (58) and steals (17).
WHO'S HOT: Arizona's right side of the infield. Aaron Hill had a renaissance season with a .302/.360/.522 slash line and smacked 26 homers. Paul Goldschmidt impressed in his first full season, hitting .286 with 20 home runs and swiping 18 bases.
WHO'S NOT: Cliff Pennington hit just .215 with Oakland last year but he's penciled in to be the starting shortstop.
MEDICAL REPORT: Speedy outfielder Adam Eaton entered camp as one of the hottest rookies in baseball but a sprained elbow will cost him at least the next six weeks. OF Cody Ross also is hobbling with an injured calf.
KID STUFF: Eaton could end up leading off for Arizona. He hit .381 and stole 38 bases in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League (Triple-A) last season.
IAN KENNEDY RHP
TREVOR CAHILL RHP
WADE MILEY LHP
B. MCCARTHY RHP
PATRICK CORBIN LHP
J.J. PUTZ RHP
DAVID HERNANDEZ RHP
HEATH BELL RHP
WHO'S HOT: A home run-hitting catcher will always have significant value, and that's what Wilin Rosario has. He smashed 28 homers in just 117 games during his rookie season. The 24-year-old backstop could easily hit 30-plus dingers with half his games in Coors Field.
WHO'S NOT: Maybe Colorado's 64-win season drove Todd Helton to drink. Helton was arrested for a DUI on Feb. 6, is 39 and coming off an injury-plagued season during which he hit just .238.
MEDICAL REPORT: There haven't been any setbacks for Troy Tulowitzki after his 2012 was cut short because of groin surgery and the Rockies are counting on him heavily to have a big season.
KID STUFF: Colorado's top prospect, Nolan Arenado, figures to be the team's third baseman of the near future, if not on Opening Day, although he'd likely benefit from more seasoning in the minors. The 21-year-old was solid in 2012 at Double-A, but he took a step back from a huge 2011 in high A-ball where he hit 20 home runs and drove in 122 runs.
JORGE DE LA ROSA LHP
JHOULYS CHACIN RHP
JUAN NICASIO RHP
JON GARLAND RHP
JEFF FRANCIS LHP
R. BETANCOURT RHP
MATT BELISLE RHP
WILTON LOPEZ RHP
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
WHAT'S NEW: A massive influx of cash, thanks to a new ownership group headlined by Magic Johnson. Zack Greinke signed a six-year, $147 million mega-deal after he went 15-5 with a 3.48 ERA and 200 strikeouts combined with the Brewers and Angels last season. South Korean LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu signed a six-year, $36 million deal after L.A. shelled out $25.7 million for the rights to negotiate with him. He boasts a 2.80 ERA over seven seasons in the Korean Baseball Organization.
WHO'S HOT: Clayton Kershaw notched 229 strikeouts in 227.2 innings and pitched to a 2.53 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP.
WHO'S NOT: Speedy SS Dee Gordon hit .228 and will start the year in the minors.
MEDICAL REPORT: Hanley Ramirez (thumb) will be out for two months. Carl Crawford (elbow) is hoping to be ready for Opening Day.
KID STUFF: Ryu, 26, struggled early in the spring and was criticized for being out of shape but he's looking better of late.
JERRY HAIRSTON JR.
C. KERSHAW LHP
ZACK GREINKE RHP
JOSH BECKETT RHP
HYUN-JIN RYU LHP
CHAD BILLINGSLEY RHP
BRANDON LEAGUE RHP
KENLEY JANSEN RHP
RONALD BELISARIO RHP
SAN DIEGO PADRES
WHO'S HOT: It's tough to find anybody hot on San Diego. Chase Headley is coming off a breakout season, with a .978 OPS after the All-Star break, but he broke his thumb in camp and is expected to miss the first month of the season. The 28-year-old posted career highs in homers (31) and RBI (115) a year ago.
WHO'S NOT: Promising young catcher Yasmani Grandal received a 50-game suspension in November after testing positive for elevated levels of testosterone. In 60 games in 2012, Grandal hit .297 with eight home runs and 36 RBI.
MEDICAL REPORT: Along with Headley, Carlos Quentin (knee) sat out most of spring, but he is reporting progress and is hopeful he'll be ready for the opener.
KID STUFF: The Padres gave Jedd Gyorko, 24, the second-base job. He had a .311/.373/.547 slash line with 30 dingers and 100 RBI between Double-A and Triple-A in 2012.
EDINSON VOLQUEZ RHP
CLAYTON RICHARD LHP
JASON MARQUIS RHP
ERIC STULTS LHP
ANDREW CASHNER RHP
HUSTON STREET RHP
LUKE GREGERSON RHP
DALE THAYER RHP
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
WHAT'S NEW: Hey, look who's back, it's Andres Torres! Yeah, that's about it for the Giants. Torres will platoon with Gregor Blanco in left field.
WHO'S HOT: You down with MVP? Buster Posey is coming off a sensational 2012 campaign in which he led the NL in average (.336) and WAR (7.2) and hit 24 home runs while driving in 103. He's undeniably the No. 1 catcher in baseball and he has a new 9-year, $167-million contract to prove it.
WHO'S NOT: Last season, two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum was downright terrible, pitching to a 5.18 ERA and a horrid 1.47 WHIP. The only silver lining was he still struck out more than a batter per inning.
MEDICAL REPORT: Not much to look out for on the injury front for the World Series champs. Pablo Sandoval is apparently packing on the pounds again and is dealing with elbow pain. But Kung Fu Panda is coming off a World Series MVP and remains probable to start on Opening Day.
MATT CAIN RHP
M. BUMGARNER LHP
RYAN VOGELSONG RHP
TIM LINCECUM RHP
BARRY ZITO LHP
SERGIO ROMO RHP
JEREMY AFFELDT LHP
SANTIAGO CASILLA RHP