Well i am continuing my preview series of each divison, the last post was the AL West so i figured i stay out west and do the NL West. I think this could be one of the most intriquing divisions in baseball, because i think every team excluding the Padres has a shot at winning this division. So anyway here is my predictions and anaysis, please post a comment if you have any questions or if you want to tell me your opinion.
1. San Francisco Giants
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
3. Colorado Rockies
4. Arizona Diamondbacks
5. San Diego Padres
1. San Francisco Giants
Departed- Ryan Garko, Bob Howry, Randy Johnson, Justin Miller, Brad Penny, Merkin Valdez, Rany Winn, Noah Lowry
Aquired- Mark DeRosa, Aubrey Huff, Todd Wellemeyer, Santiago Casilla, Byung-Hyun Kim
I realize a lot of people are going to disagree with me on this one, and i realize its a stretch but when you break down the statistics they seem slightly better than the D-Backs, Rockies, or Dodgers. This team makes me think a lot of the 2003 Cubs team that almost beat the Marlins in the NLCS. They have one of the best pitching staffs in the buisness. At the top of the rotation they have 08' and 09' CY Young award winner Tim Lincecum. He is arguably the best pitcher in baseball, he just hasnt got a ton of run support. Behind him is another dominant pitcher in Matt Cain, while he dosnt strike as many people out he is great for ERA. Jonathan Sanchez is the interesting option, i really think he can become an ace. He has the stuff to do it, hopefully he can put it all together this season. Barry Zito is the veteran presence in the rotation, he may not be the same guy he was 4-5 years ago but he is a solid innings eater at the least. The guy im the most excited to see in this rotation is Madison Bumgarner. This looks like another star pitcher to come out of this farm system, i think he could be in the rookie of the year running based on his talent. The bullpen is solid with Brian Wilson saving games and Jeremy Affeldt setting him up. Although after those two they are not particularly deep, middle relief is average at best. The lineup is considered the Giants weakness, and they will struggle but i think they have improved from last season. The infield is pretty good with Kung Fu Panda (Pablo Sandoval) at 3rd, he is basically a Vladimir Guerrero clone when it comes to his ability to hit unhittable balls. Aubrey Huff will man 1st and will be looking for a bounce back season. He hit decently with the Orioles but struggled after he was traded to Detroit. Hopefully Freddy Sanchez will have a healthy season and provide solid production at 2nd. Edgar Renteria will hope to improve on a dissapointing season at short although some of it was due to him declining. Bengie Molina will return at catcher but he is just holding the fort until Buster Posey is ready. The outfield is improved with the addition of the ever versatile Mark DeRosa. He can lay the corner outfield, infield and 2nd. Aaron Rowand will continue to play Center, and Nate Schierholtz will start in RF. The Giants also have solid depth with Juan Uribe, and Eugenio Velez as infield options and Fred Lewis and Andres Torres as outfield options. This may not be the best hitting team but they have depth and great pitching. I realy like this team and i think they can win this division.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
Departed- Jon Garland, Orlando Hudson, Juan Castro, Mark Loretta, Will Ohman, Juan Pierre, Jim Thome, Randy Wolf
Aquired- Jamey Carroll, Reed Johnson, Alfredo Amezaga, Nick Green
This is still a good team, but i do not like there pitching depth. Billingsley and Kershaw are going to have the pressure to carry this team on their backs. I think Billngsley may be able to do that, but i dont think Kershaw can. He is to young and doesnt have the expierence to carry a team. Behind those two there is Kuroda, Padilla, McDonald, and Jeff Weaver, none of those options with the exception of Kuroda are anything more than innings eaters. The bullpen is very good though, Broxton is a bulldog and can handle a lot of innings for a reliever. Sherrill is a good setup guy and i like Tronosco, and Kuo as middle relief. The offense has some good young talent that is going to be relied upon to make the playoffs. The infield is solid with the veteran Casey Blake at 3rd, and James Loney at 1st. I am not a James Loney fan mainly because he doesnt have the power to play 1st and his defense isnt outstanding so i dont see his purpose. Ronnie Belliard will play 2nd, and Rafael Furcal will look to bounce back from a dissapointing season at short. Russell Martin is also looking for a rebound season after having the worst season of his career. The dodgers have lost some confidence in him, enough for him to be mentioned in trade talks for Adrain Gonzalez, which also questions James Loney's jon security. The Dodgers do have one of the best outfields in the majors. They saw breakout seasons from Andre Ethier in RF and Matt Kemp in CF. Ethier provieded some good power, while Kemp gave a good power, speed combo. And of course there is the infamous Manny Ramirez in LF, he missed significant time for a suspenision due to a drug test infraction. Everyone knows Manny did roids, but he does have talent and should still put up better numbers than last season. They have some good depth with Blake DeWitt and Jamey Carroll as backup infield options and Reed Johnson in the outfield. Im a big Reed Johnson fan, he plays all out and hits for contact and decent power. The depth is not quite as good as the Giants though and i think the lack of pitching depth is what really will hurt them this year.
3. Colorado Rockies
Departed- Garrett Atkins, Jose Contreras, Matt Herges, Jason Marquis, Ryan Spierer, Yorvit Torellaba
Aquired- Melvin Mora, Miguel Olivo, Tim Redding
I really wanted to put these guys in first and they very well could be but im not sold on them. The pitching has a lot of potential and they have an ace in the making with Ubaldo Jimenez. Aaron Cook is a solid middle of the rotation guy, but im not sold on Jason Hammel and especially Jorge De La Rosa and the sabermetric systems dont favor these guys either. I am excited to see Jeff Francis return but he has been out of the game for a year and will take time to get back. I have also heard about Jhoulys Chacin as another guy who could make an impact at some point this season. He is one of their top prospects and supposidly has good stuff but i havent seen him before so i cant really comment about him. I like their bullpen, hopefully Huston Street will continue to succeed as the closer and Rafael Betancourt will continue to be a good setup man. Its amazing what happend to Manny Corpas from being their top closing prospect to being a disaster (Is Carlos Marmol a potential Manny Corpas) but i think he might be able to put it together this season. The staple of every Rockies team has been offense and that hasnt changed with this one. Todd Helton continues to play at 1st and although he doesnt have the power he once had he still can hit for a great average and rbi guy. Ian Stewart will have a full time gig at 3rd this season, and while he has power his .228 average doesnt inspire success. Clint Barmes is another situation like Stewart where he hits for power but not average. Troy Tulowitzki is probably the Rockies best player which is rare for a short stop, but he is a very special player (I drafted him for Fantasy Baseball). He hits for great power, good average and has decent speed. He is an all around threat who also plays solid defense. Chris Iannetta is another power guy who struggles with his average, but i am looking for a breakout year for him. The Rockies outfield is very young with the exception of Brad Hawpe. Carlos Gonzalez will likely start in LF, He is another guy who can hit for power and speed with a solid average and could be a very good major leaguer. Dexter Fowler will man second, ive heard he has sick speed but needs to hone his decesion making and is not very patiant at the plate. Brad Hawpe is really the power bat in the outfield, and is one of thier main RBI guys. The have good infield depth with Melvin Mora as their utility guy and Jason Giambi will return to his new pinch hitting role. They also have 2 solid back up outfielders in Seth Smith and Ryan Spiboroghs.My favorite thing about this team is that its almost entirley homegrown, thats something you dont see much of anymore. This is a team that if it gets to the post-season could make a deep run but they will have to fight for it. As I said before they could easily win this division but im just not sold on them yet.
4. Arizona D-Backs
Departed- Eric Byrnes, Doug Davis, Max Scherzer, Daniel Schlereth, Chad Tracy
Aquired- Bob Howry, Kelly Johnson, Ian Kennedy, Adam LaRoche,
This is another team that could also win the division, but no matter what happens they will much improved from last season. The rotation will be a lot better than last season. Dan Haren is still at the top providing a quality start after quality start and striking out plenty of guys along the way. The biggest addition to this team is a healthy Brandon Webb, if he can play anywhere near the way he did before his injury should be a huge boost. Edwin Jackson will replace Max Scherezer, while he may not provide the strikouts he should be a bit more consistent and may work deeper into games. Ian Kennedy will try to get his career as a starter going after failing in New York and Billy Buckner will probably be the fifth guy. Really this is a 3 deep rotation, but you can get to the postseason with that. The pen is average to below average. Chad Qualls is OKAY as a closer, and Bob Howry is decent as setup. Aaron Heilman is an average middle reliever, his probelm is that he tries to be to perfect with his pitches which makes him walk a lot of guys and put on a lot of runners. Also he always seems to let his inherited runners score. I love Clay Zavada though, the mustache is awesome and he pitched great last season. All in all though it may be the worst bullpen in the division. I really like the infield, Adam LaRoche while he may be streaky on a monthly basis, is very consitent year to year and will proved better production at first than the D-Backs have had for a while. Mark Reynolds has some serious power and good speed, he is a great middle of the order hitter. The middle infield has a lot of potential, but they need bounce back years from both Stephen Drew (SS) and Kelly Johnson (2B). Johnson came over from the Braves during the offseason after hitting himself out of the Braves lineup. He had been fairly consistent up until last season so you have to think he will bounce back. Miguel Montero finally broke out after seeming like a bust, he put up excellent numbers and should continue to improve. The outfield is highlighted by Justin Upton in RF, who in my eyes is a hitter of Albert Pujols caliber, he may not be as developed as Pujols was at his age but i think when he peaks his numbers will be similar. Chris Young is in CF and looking to improve upon a disasterous 09' campaign in which he hit .212-15-42-54-11 in 433 AB. He has the ability to be a 30-30 threat but his high strikeout rate hinders him. Conor Jackson will start in LF, he is a consistent bat but not a great one.They have mediocre depth with Chris Snyder at catcher although he is a likely trade canidate. Augie Ojeda and Ryan Roberts are decent infield options with Gerrardo Parra and Alex Romero outfield options. This knock on this team has always been their youth and inexpierence, but now they have grown up some and they have taken thier licks so they may finally breakout and make a run for it this season.
5. San Diego Padres
Departed- Henry Blanco, Brian Giles, Edgar Gonzalez, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Drew Macias
Aquired- Aaron Cunningham, Jon Garland, Jerry Hairston Jr, Yorvit Torrellaba, Scott Hairston
This pick is pretty obvious, they are pretty far behind the rest of division in total talent. They have some nice pieces and if they trade A-Gon they should be in a postion to have a solid core of young players and should have the financial flexability to make some moves. The rotation actually isnt that bad with Chris Young as the leader. Which isnt very reliable due to his injury history but he does have talent. Jon Garland will eat some innings and his record may take a beating but he should have a solid ERA. Kevin Correia looked excellent at the end of last season and put up solid numbers overall. Clayton Richard (came over from CHW is Peavy trade) looks like a solid back of the rotation option with upside, and Matt Latos will get a shot for a full season. He has a ton of potential and its been mentioned that he may be hard to keep around once he gets going. The bullpen is one of the best in the game with Heath Bell at closer (another trade canidate), and Mike Adams as a setup man and future closer. Luke Gregerson, Joe Thatcher, and Greg Burke are all viable setupmen. The infield is solid anchored by one of the best players in the game in Adrain Gonzalez at first. Who knows how much longer he'll play for them but he has sick power and at any other ballpark could hit .300 and he also a gold gover first baseman. Chase Headley moves to 3rd and is an average one. David Eckstein mans 2nd and is still one of those players who does the most with the least talent. Everth Cabrera will play short and is another one of these new generation of shortstops (more oldschool, light hitting with good speed). The outfield is highlighted by Scott Hairston in RF who is one of the better power hitters at PETCO Park. At the other side is Kyle Blanks who looks to be another great player but should be at first but is blocked by A-Gon. He should be a solid middle of the order hitter. Will Venable will start in CF and will provide average production from the postition. Tony Gwynn is a solid backup option but there isnt a lot of help behind him. Jerry Hariston is a good utility infielder but may struggle at PETCO, and Matt Antonelli and and Luis Rodriguez are other infield options. The Padres are the only divison that doesnt really have a shot to win the division.