NL West

Spring Training '99: The Major Issues

February 21, 1999|By PETER SCHMUCK

Arizona Diamondbacks

Manager: Buck Showalter

1998 record: 65-97, fifth place

No. 1: How many second-year expansion teams have six good candidates for the starting rotation? Answer: This one.

No. 2: Who will be the odd man out in the rotation?

No. 3: General manager Joe Garagiola Jr. must decide whether to deal the pitching surplus for help elsewhere.

No. 4: Jay Bell must readjust to a regular role at second base after 10 years at short.

No. 5: Can rejuvenated former Orioles closer Gregg Olson stay injury free for a second straight year?

Colorado Rockies

Manager: Jim Leyland

1998 record: 77-85, fourth place

No. 1: Can Leyland create a winning chemistry and reverse the club's three-year slide?

No. 2: Can he do it despite a roster that hasn't changed much from last year's?

No. 3: The club has enough veterans in the rotation but may be in the market for a go-to starter.

No. 4: Top outfield prospects Edgard Clemente and Derrick Gibson may be dangled in trade talks.

No. 5: Leyland has five candidates for the closer's role; that isn't such a good thing.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Manager: Davey Johnson

1998 record: 83-79, third place

No. 1: Can Johnson and new ace Kevin Brown give this underachieving club a heart transplant?

No. 2: Can Brown handle the pressure of being the most expensive player in baseball history?

No. 3: Todd Hundley may not be healthy enough to replace four-time Gold Glove catcher Charles Johnson.

No. 4: Who's in right? Raul Mondesi and Gary Sheffield could butt heads over their favorite position.

No. 5: Bullpen depth could be a problem after the departure of setup man Scott Radinsky.

San Diego Padres

Manager: Bruce Bochy

1998 record: 98-64, first place

No. 1: The first order of business: Convince the fans that this isn't a Marlins meltdown.

No. 2: Time to find out if super prospect Ruben Rivera is ready for prime time.

No. 3: Can the Padres field an adequate rotation after losing Kevin Brown to free agency and trading Joey Hamilton to Toronto?

No. 4: Will the club miss dynamic pitching coach Dave Stewart?

No. 5: GM Kevin Towers guaranteed the Padres or Giants would finish ahead of the Dodgers. Does he know something we don't?

San Francisco Giants

Manager: Dusty Baker

1998 record: 89-74, second place

No. 1: Superstar Barry Bonds has been making noises about wanting to leave.

No. 2: No starter last year had an ERA better than 4.33, so the rotation will be a major priority.

No. 3: Who will replace departed 11-game winner Orel Hershiser?

No. 4: Can former switch-hitting first baseman J. T. Snow hit lefties well enough to keep full-time role?

No. 5: With little depth and several players coming off surgery, the fragile club seeks to stay healthy all spring.

Pub Date: 2/21/99

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