Friday, April 3, 2009

NL WEST Preview

One last division to look at. Today an NL West breakdown. I think this will be a very competitive race.

Predicted Order of Finish

1. Los Angeles Dodgers- I like these guys to win it. Great manager in Joe Torre. So much young talent. Manny being Manny, takes the pressure off the young guys to produce. The Dodgers have a potential all-star at almost every position. Loney, Martin, Kemp and Eithier are all young guys who will produce. Don't overlook the resigning of Furcal and Blake as they help round out a very good Dodgers lineup.

The staff is good, but not great. Billingsly is on the verge of stardom and Kuroda will be effective. Youngster Clayton Kershaw has awesome stuff. The bullpen is also very good, as John Broxton becomes the hammer at the back end of the pen. Top to bottom this is a very good team and could win the pennant. Only problem is will Manny be motivated enough to play? If the answer is yes, then this team will be very good.

2. Arizona Diamondbacks- Another team I like a ton. Great young talent everywhere. Justin Upton will the the next star, if he can cut down on the strikeouts. Striking out is a problem for the whole team, as they have a bunch of free swingers. They have a good balance of power and speed though and the on base percentage should improve.

The D'Backs have a very good staff. I put Haren and Webb up against any one-two punch in the game. The Garland signing should work out and they have a good young arm in Scherzer. A big question mark in the bullpen. Can Chad Qualls hold down the closers role effectively? If the answer is yes, it wouldn't surprise me if they won the division.

3. San Francisco Giants- The Giants could be the most improved team in baseball. They will be better offensively with youngsters Ishigawa and Sandoval. Both have some pop and will drive in runs. A couple good on base guys at the top of the order in Renteria and Winn and the G-Men should do fine offensively. Rookie catcher Buster Posey is on a fast track to possibly get called up this season, so they have a chip to possibly deal in Benji Molina.

The pitching staff will be surprisingly good. Reigning Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum anchors a staff with some live arms. Matt Cain and Jonathen Sanchez each will win double digits, while the Randy Johnson signing could pan out. I know he's 75 years old, but he seems to do well on the west coast and he may have one good season left.

4. Colorado Rockies- I don't see much chance with these guys. The staff isn't that good and with Jeff Francis out, they're just isn't a replacement. Ulbado Jimenez will emerge as a staff ace, but other than that, I don't see much hope. Offensively, the Matt Holliday trade netted them some arms, but left a huge hole in the middle of the lineup. Garrett Atkins will fill that for most of the season, but once the Rocks are out of contention, he could be wearing a different uniform after the trade deadline. One youngster to keep an eye on is Dexter Fowler. The Rockies will have to create an everyday job in the outfield for him.

5. San Diego Padres- This team has committed to a youth movement and they have some pieces in place, but they won't be very good. Who knows where the Jake Peavy saga is at this point, but with new ownership in place he may be staying put. My guess is that he gets dealt along with Brian Giles, leaving this team with not much. It's gonna be a long season in San Diego.

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