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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

NL West Preview

1st Place, Los Angeles Dodgers
Lineup:
CF Juan Pierre
SS Rafael Furcal

1B Nomar Garciapara
2B Jeff Kent
LF Luis Gonzalez
C Russel Martin
RF Andre Eithier
3B Wilson Betimet

Rotation:
RHP Jason Schmidt
RHP Derek Lowe
RHP Brad Penny
LHP Randy Wolfe
RHP Chad Billingsly
SU: Jonathen Broxten
Closer: Takashi Saito

As much as it pains me to do so, I have to pick the Dodgers to win the west at this point. I think they have the most complete team overall in the division. Their bullpen is the best in the division as well. Their top of the order is as good as any in the game, and as long as they keep Nomar and Kent healthy they are going to score more than enough runs to win games. If Jason Schmidt pitches like the pre-2005 version of himself then the Dodgers could be the best in the NL.

2nd Place, San Francisco Giants
Lineup:
CF Dave Roberts
SS Omar Vizquel

LF Barry Bonds
2B Ray Durham
1B Rich Aurillia/Ryan Klesko
RF Randy Winn
C Bengie Molina
3B Pedro Feliz

Rotation:
LHP Barry Zito
RHP Matt Cain
LHP Noah Lowry
RHP Matt Morris
RHP Russ Ortiz
SU: Steve Kline
Closer: Armondo Benitez

The Giants are a better team by having a healthy Armondo Benitez in their bullpen even though he isn't a fan favorite in San Francisco. I think Benitez is primed for another 40+ save season with this being his contract year and his health looking well. If Matt Morris and Noah Lowry have seasons like they did in '05 rather than '06, the Giants will win the division, but those are big question marks because neither have been very impressive this spring. Zito and Cain are going to lead this rotation into the next decade. Their lineup is just about as old as it has been the past couple years, but they do have some unique weapons that they haven't had in San Francisco for years. Roberts should be a nice spark plug at the top of the order, and a healthy Barry Bonds looks primed for one more big season. Look for Ryan Klesko to have a big comeback season and be mentioned in the NL Comeback player of the year discussion.

3rd Place, Arizona Diamondbacks
Lineup:
LF Eric Byrnes
2B Orlando Hudson
1B Connor Jackson
3B Chad Tracy
RF Carlos Quentin

SS Stephen Drew
CF Chris Young/Jeff DaVannon
C Chris Snieder

Rotation:
RHP Brandon Webb
LHP Randy Johnson
RHP Livan Hernandez
LHP Doug Davis
RHP Enrique Gonzalez
SU: Juan Cruz
Closer: Jose Valverde

The new look D-backs will be sporting a brand new uniforms in 2007 and they should also make some noise in the NL West as well. Randy Johnson will be better than he was in New York now comfortably back in Arizona. Doug Davis could have easily won 15 games last year if it weren't for the terrible Brewers' bullpen. They have the most exciting young lineup in the division with Carlos Quentin, Connor Jackson and Stephen Drew paired with young veterans like Byrnes and Tracy. The Diamondbacks are a year away from being serious contenders again in the NL.

4th Place, San Diego Padres
Lineup:
LF Termell Sledge
2B Marcus Giles
RF Brian Giles
1B Adrian Gonzalez

CF Mike Cameron
C Josh Bard
3B Kevin Kouzamanoff

SS Kahlil Green

Rotation:
RHP Jake Peavy
RHP Chris Young
RHP Greg Maddux
RHP Clay Hensley
RHP Mike Thompson
SU: Scott Linebrink
Closer: Trevor Hoffman

The Pads still have a good pen lead by Hoffman and Linebrink, and their rotation should be good enough to hold up, but their lineup lost some players this winter and they never really replaced them. Dave Roberts, Mike Piazza and Josh Barfield where 3 of the top offensive performers for the Padres in '06. Josh Bard will be ok as the full-time catcher, but the Pads are going to miss Piazza's big right-handed bat. Sledge for Roberts is a huge downgrade at the leadoff spot. Jake Peavy has to get his era back below 4 if this team is going to have any chance at competing in this division.


5th Place, Colorodo Rockies

Lineup:
CF Willy Taveras
2B Kaz Matsui

3B Garrett Atkins
LF Matt Holliday
1B Todd Helton
RF Brad Hawpe
SS Troy Tulowitzki
C Chris Ianetta

Rotation:
RHP Aaron Cook
LHP Jeff Francis
RHP Rodrigo Lopez
RHP Jason Hirsch
RHP Byun-Hyun Kim
SU: LaTroy Hawkins
Closer: Brain Fuentes

The Rockies stand where they have for about the last 8 years, not nearly good enough to compete, even in one of the more open divisions in baseball. Their middle of the order is second to none in the division, but as always, their pitching will be a mess. They lost their best starter over the last couple years in Jason Jennings. Rodrigo Lopez could give up 50 home runs this season pitching 1/2 his games at Coors Field. Brain Fuentes is a solid closer and should be used as trade bait to get a few young starting pitchers in there.
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6 Comments:

  • At 10:07 PM, Anonymous Kelsdad said…

    Hate to say this, but any team which has Ray Durham hitting cleanup ain't going anywhere. Nice work though.

     
  • At 11:47 AM, Blogger Dupa Jasia said…

    ...

     
  • At 1:25 PM, Blogger TC said…

    I'm not really saying they are going anywhere, I picked the Dodgers to win the division? Anyway, I don't think Durham will be there for long before it's back to how it was. The Giants will have to be carried by there starting pitching if they are going to make the playoffs.

     
  • At 1:26 PM, Anonymous Christof said…

    I need a big time steal season from Juan Pierre.

     
  • At 9:41 PM, Blogger allfrank said…

    While not a traditional cleanup hitter, I think Durham will be great in the slot. He is clutch, hits a lot of doubles ( which will score everyone on base), and has a high BA. He even has some HR power. I just don't think the 15 or so HRs he doesn't hit compared to some other team's cleanup hitter makes that much of a difference. I think he will have lots of RBIs.

     
  • At 2:21 AM, Blogger TC said…

    Yeah AllFrank, I agree. I think Durham will hit over 20 hr's and if since he will be hitting in the middle of the order for the first time in his career for a full season, I could see him driving in 100 easy. He had 96 last year in under 500 ab's and a lot of them from the leadoff spot.

     

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