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Friday, March 28, 2008

National League West Preview

1st Place, Los Angeles Dodgers
Lineup:
SS Rafael Furcal
LF Andre Eithier/Juan Pierre
RF Matt Kemp
2B Jeff Kent
CF Andruw Jones
C Russel Martin
1B James Loney
3B Nomar Garciapara/Andy LaRoche

Rotation:
RHP Brad Penny
RHP Derrick Lowe
RHP Chad Billingsly
RHP Hiroki Kuroda
RHP Esteban Loazia
SU: Jonathon Broxton
CL: Takashi Saito

DL: RHP Jason Schmidt (at least July)

As much as it pains me to do so, It's hard not to pick the Dodgers to win the NL West this season. They have an excellent blend of productive veterans, and youngsters on the rise. Even if Jeff Kent and Nomar Garciapara cannot stay healthy all year, the Dodgers have a ton of talent who could come up and take those positions from them. Andre Either and Matt Kemp have already put Juan Pierre and his 11 million dollar-a-year salary on the bench. Their pitching has the same depth as Chad Billingsly proved last year that he's ready and capable. The Dodgers also have young lefty Clayton Kershaw waiting in the wings. If Jason Schmidt can come back healthy by mid-season, it would be like adding another ace to an already strong rotation. The bullpen looks solid again lead by Saito and Broxton. They have too much talent and depth not to win this division.

2nd Place, Arizona Diamondbacks
Lineup:
CF Chris Young
2B Orlando Hudson
LF Eric Byrnes
1B Conner Jackson
3B Mark Reynolds
C Chris Snyder
SS Stephen Drew
RF Justin Upton

Rotation:
RHP Brandon Webb
RHP Danny Haren
LHP Randy Johnson
RHP Micah Owings
LHP Doug Davis/Edgar Gonzalez
SU: Tony Pena
CL: Brandon Lyon

The Diamondbacks are another team that has a wealth of young talent. They are still a little too young in their everyday lineup to beat out the Dodgers for the division, but they are pretty close. They lost a couple solid pieces of last years division winning team as Tony Clark and Jose Valverde both left the team this winter but did land ace number 2 in Dan Haren. I'm not sure they covered Valverde's spot in the bullpen. They are hoping Brandon Lyon can become the closer he was supposed to be a few years ago, but most baseball people think Tony Pena is better suited for the role. Webb and Haren provide a great 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation and I like Davis and Owings, but Randy Johnson shouldn't be counted on to do much and he hasn't really proved anything this spring. They still have one of the better rotations and lineups in the league so they should be among a handful of teams battling it out for a wild card birth.

3rd Place, Colorado Rockies
Lineup:
CF Willy Taveras
SS Troy Tulowitzki
1B Todd Helton
LF Matt Holliday
3B Garret Atkins
RF Brad Hawpe
C Yorvit Torrealba
2B Jayson Nix

Rotation:
LHP Jeff Francis
RHP Aaron Cook
LHP Franklin Morales
RHP Ubaldo Jimenez
LHP Mark Redman
SU: Brian Fuentes
CL: Manny Corpas

The Rockies surprised the baseball world last year with their late season surge to the World Series. It is going to be awfully tough for them to repeat in a very good division. The young Rockies' lineup and their strong bullpen lead them to the Series last season and will be what carries them this year. If Morales and Jimenez develop and can give the Rockies 30 starts apiece, then the Rockies will be right there with the Dodgers and D-Backs. Matt Holliday is an MVP candidate and Garret Atkins and Brad Hawpe are two of the more underrated hitters in the game. I am also anxious to see what Tulowitzki does in his second full big league season. They certainly have the pieces in place to be contenders for years to come, but this year the division is a little too tough.

4th Place, San Diego Padres
Lineup:
RF Brian Giles
CF Jim Edmonds
3B Kevin Kouzmanoff
1B Adrian Gonzalez
SS Kahlil Green
LF Scott Hairston
C Josh Baird
2B Tadhito Iguchi

Rotation:
RHP Jake Peavey
RHP Chris Young
RHP Greg Maddux
LHP Randy Wolf
RHP Justin Germano
SU: Heath Bell
CL: Trevor Hoffman

The Padres could have really improved this winter had they decided to spend a little bit of money. They added Randy Wolf and Jim Edmonds to a team that needs a lot more than just those two. I would rather have Mike Cameron in center over Edmonds at this point in his career and even with the 25-game suspension, they should have brought him back. They also had a chance to get some legit right handed power in their for the first time in a while with Andruw Jones but they passed. They have young Chase Headley waiting in the wings and he looks like he could be a premier power hitter at the big league level. Their rotation looks decent with the addition of Wolfe but right now, they don't have near enough offensive fire power to keep up with the Dodgers, D-Backs and Rockies.

5th Place, San Francisco Giants
Lineup:
LF Dave Roberts
2B Ray Durham
RF Randy Winn
C Bengie Molina
CF Aaron Rowand
1B Rich Aurilia
3B Jose Castillo
SS Omar Vizquel

Rotation:
LHP Barry Zito
RHP Matt Cain
LHP Noah Lowry (out till May)
RHP Tim Lincecum
RHP Kevin Corriea/Jonathan Sanchez
SU: Tyler Walker
CL: Brian Wilson

The Giants are without Barry Bonds for the first time in 15 years and it definitely shows in their offense. The Giants should be among the worst offensive teams in the league this season, and although they have strong starting pitching, and an up and coming bullpen, their offense and defense will have them battling to avoid a 100 loss season. It would be nice to get a rebound season out of Barry Zito, but he has looked bad this spring. Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum are bright young arms that will carry the rotation for years to come. Noah Lowry can't seem to stay healthy for an entire year and his 2008 season will once again be cut short due to arm issues as he isn't expected to join the rotation until May. I like the makings of the young bullpen lead by Brian Wilson. Merkin Valdez should make the squad and could be a darkhourse as a closer/set-up man if Wilson or Walker struggle. It's going to be a long season in the city by the bay, but it should be interesting to see which of their young players ( Fred Lewis, Nate Schierholtz, Eugenio Velez, Dan Ortmeier, Rajai Davis etc.) can actually play at this level.
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4 Comments:

  • At 4:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I've been a faithful fan of the Giants since 1945 and it pains me to see the product that's about to enter the 2008 National League Baseball Campaign.How many ways can one describe "bland" and "yawner"? No Doze specials for Kruk and Kuip and the Jon Miller gang!!! Another dark basement finish for the men in Black and Orange. Oh well... I still have my "BIG BLUE" Champs from the Meadowlands to praise and enjoy!

     
  • At 4:25 PM, Blogger Trevor said…

    I feel your pain anonymous. I haven't been a fan quite that long, but I am disguisted with this team nonetheless. Hopefully a few young players break out this year and provide us with something to look forward to in years to come.

     
  • At 11:02 PM, Anonymous 2me said…

    don't underestimate the stupidity and stubbornness of Dodger management. Juan Pierre may still be the starting left fielder--I pray he isn't...oh, Lord, do I pray.

     
  • At 12:47 PM, Anonymous lunaticfringe said…

    yeah, it is going to be a long year in SF. Maybe they bring Bonds back in May after they realize how bad they suck and fans aren't showing up. We can wish right???

     

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