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Friday, March 29, 2013

2013 MLB Previews: NL West

At last, we've come to the end of our MLB previews, winding up in NL West where we'll do a bit of a more expansive preview. For many, it's going to come down to the high-priced LA Dodgers and the reigning champion San Francisco Giants, but you never can forget about the D-Backs, even after they gave away Justin Upton. This is how we see things shaping out in the West this year.

1st Place, San Francisco Giants

CF Angel Pagan
2B Marco Scutaro
3B Pablo Sandoval
C Buster Posey
RF Hunter Pence
1B Brandon Belt
LF Gregor Blanco
SS Brandon Crawford

RHP Matt Cain
LHP Madison Bumgarner
RHP Tim Lincecum
LHP Barry Zito
RHP Ryan Vogelsong
SU: Santiago Casilla
CL: Sergio Romo

So back are the Giants, the team that's one 2 of the last 3 World Series championships, and they're bringing back the same squad that thrived in October and became an unstoppable force. Expected rebounds out of Tim Lincecum and Hunter Pence, along with improvements from Belt and Crawford will only make this team better. If Timmy can manage to be pre-2012 Timmy again, this rotation will be the best in baseball, but that's a big if after the spring he just had. The questions I have with the Giants lie in left field and at the back end of the bullpen, where Sergio Romo will be asked to be a full-time closer for the first time in his career. I know he can get the job done if he can stay healthy, but he's always been vulnerable to injury. Then in left, it'll be Blanco and Torres, neither of which are coming off particularly encouraging seasons. All in all though, I see the Giants doing much like they did last season, riding that "teamwork first, play for each other" mentality to another postseason birth.

2nd Place, Los Angeles Dodgers (NL Wild Card)

LF Carl Crawford
2B Mark Ellis
CF Matt Kemp
1B Adrian Gonzalez
SS Hanley Ramirez*
RF Andre Eithier
3B Luis Cruz
C A.J. Ellis

LHP Clayton Kershaw
RHP Zach Grienke
RHP Chad Billingsley
RHP Josh Beckett
LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu
SU: Kenley Jansen
CL: Brandon League

The Dodgers are a team that never really got on the same page after their big trade with Boston last season and are hoping that the full spring together and the addition of Carl Crawford will change the tune. I think they'll be tougher than they were a year ago, no question, but they still have some major healthy question marks. Billingsley and Grienke each are coming off some arm troubles and Hanley Ramirez is out until at least mid-May. It's anyone's guess as to how Crawford will play in the NL for the first time and after being off the field so much the last year and a half. Then there's their bullpen, which is pretty solid, but they have a beatable closer in Brandon League, and it wouldn't surprise me to see Jansen moved there after League's first few blown saves. They certainly have the team on paper that sticks out as a potential power-house, and as long as they keep their main cogs (Kemp, AGon, Kershaw, Grienke) on the field, they should be a lock for one of the NL Wild Card slots.

3rd Place, Arizona Diamondbacks

CF Adam Eaton
3B Martin Prado
2B Aaron Hill
LF Jason Kubel
1B Paul Goldschmidt
C Miguel Montero
RF Cody Ross
SS Cliff Pennington

RHP Ian Kennedy
LHP Wade Miley
RHP Trevor Cahill
RHP Brandon McCarthy
LHP Patick Corbin
SU: Heath Bell
CL: J.J. Putz

I don't get why the D-Backs were so eager to dump Upton, who I see as a future star in this game, but for some reason they did and it took them from potential division contender to a slightly above-average team. Their lineup is decent, as they're banking on Adam Eaton taking off and Paul Goldschmidt to become a 40-HR threat, and they have some depth, but they really don't have that one guy that can carry a lineup when guys are struggling like the Giants have with Posey and the Dodgers with Kemp. Their pitching is very solid, from Ian Kennedy through their closer, J.J. Putz, they can pitch. Put them in the NL Central, and maybe they compete with St. Louis for a wild card spot, but this division is too tough with the Giants and Dodgers ahead of them for AZ to really make a serious run at a playoff push, barring injury or some blockbuster trade.

4th Place, Colorado Rockies

CF Dexter Fowler
2B Josh Rutledge
LF Carlos Gonzalez
SS Troy Tulowitzki
RF Tyler Colvin/M. Cuddyer
C Wilin Rosario
1B Todd Helton/M. Cuddyer
3B Chris Nelson

RHP Jhoulys Chacin
LHP Jorge De La Rosa
RHP Juan Nicasio
LHP Jeff Francis
RHP Jon Garland
SU: Matt Belisle
CL: Rafael Betancourt

The Rockies are an intriguing team this season. They're a young team stocked with potential studs in their lineup, all of which are under 30 years of age. Fowler is a potential 5-tool superstar who I think could bust out this year, Rutledge can rake, we know about Tulo and Cargo, then there's guys like Colvin and Rosario who are taking this league by storm as well. There's little doubt that the Rockies will slug with the best of them, it's keeping the other teams off the board which will be the issue. They have a lot of young power arms in that rotation they're hoping will figure things out. Chacin is a potential ace, and Nicasio is one of the harder throwers in the game, but both of those guys have question marks. De La Rosa and Francis where once cornerstones in this rotation but injury has knocked both of them down a notch. The bullpen is solid, led by one of the best lefty relievers in the game in Belisle and the underrated Betancourt shutting the door.

5th Place, San Diego Padres

SS Everth Cabrera
2B Logan Forsythe
3B Chase Headley*
LF Carlos Quentin
1B Yonder Alonso
RF Will Venable
C Nick Hundley
CF Cameron Maybin

RHP Edinson Volquez
LHP Clayton Richard
RHP Jason Marquis
LHP Eric Stults
RHP Tyson Ross
SU: Luke Gregorson
CL: Huston Street

Since this is the last preview, I'll keep it short and sweet. The Padres are the team they've been the last 3-4 years, or really ever since Bruce Bochy left them. They have some good young players that may pan out like Cabrera, Forsythe and Alonso, but they've been striking out heavily on developing their own outside of Chase Headley (who will start the year on the DL). Their pitching is weak, as they'll be without their real ace Cory Leubke until mid-season, and probably can't count on too much from him in 2013. The bullpen is average. I like Street, but he's always had health issues and never seems to be able to put together a full season. I don't know if they're a 100-loss team, but certainly 90+ wouldn't surprise me.
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1 Comments:

  • At 10:07 PM, Anonymous Jason Billingsley said…

    The Dodgers and Giants are almost equal in my opinion. The Giants have injury concerns too with Panda and who knows what Lincecum will do. For LA, they have Crawford and Billingsley who are coming off major injury. I just think the Dodgers are better off at the end of the bullpen where they have multiple guys who can close. If Romo gets hurt or can
    t get the job done, then we're in trouble.

     

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