"We have guys with really high baseball IQs."
That's what Adrian Gonzalez recently told Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. He was referring to his new infield of Juan Uribe at third, Jimmy Rollins at short, and Howie Kendrick at second, in addition to the current Gold Glover at first.
It's not hard to see why A-Gon is this excited, because those names listed above are about as good an infield as it gets in baseball.
As Hernandez wrote, the new-look Dodgers' infield has a whole lot of experience and runs saved in comparison to last year. Gone are Hanley Ramirez and Dee Gordon playing up the middle. Hanley was clearly hanging onto his last breathe as an everyday shortstop (in fact, he's now the Red Sox left fielder). Gordon was underrated as an improving second basemen, with plenty of room to still grow. But he's no Kendrick with the leather.
Keeping those four guys healthy and in the everyday lineup will be huge, because the pitching staff is already getting hammered with one injury after another. Hyun-Jin Ryu, Kenley Jansen, and Brandon League are already out for various periods of time. Brett Anderson is always one misstep away from going to his second home, the DL. The depth is being tested right away.
Knowing that four slick fielders are right behind the pitching rubber at least puts Don Mattingly's mind somewhat at ease as he runs out a bunch of pitchers he didn't think he'd have to use already in April. Granted, guys like Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke won't need even average fielders to put up terrific numbers, but it certainly doesn't hurt either.
As Yasmani Grandal continues to get used to his new club, Yasiel Puig returns to his natural position of right field, and Joc Pederson hopefully gets the call to be the starting center fielder, nearly every part of the Dodgers' defense will be top notch and ready to win plenty of games of small ball.
About the only weak spot in the field belongs to Carl Crawford. You know, the guy who dropped a fly ball and cost his team two runs last night against the Giants...