Tuesday, March 13, 2007

2007 Season Preview: The NL West

Last year, the NL West was a division of five teams and 2 win totals. The Padres and Dodgers tied atop the division with 88 wins while the rest of the teams were mired 12 games back at 76 (well technically the Giants were 11.5 back because of a rain out that was never made up) Will the Dodgers and Padres, stay at the top or fall? Will someone from the bottom rise up to take the division? Let's go to the teams:

Arizona Diamondbacks
A new year, with a new look. The D-backs ditched the purple for red and have added a patch on the sleeve that vaguely resembles genitalia. Also the Big Entendre himself, Randy Johnson is back after a trade with the Yankees. Also new arms for Arizona are Doug Davis (from Milwaukee) and free agent Jorge Julio. While old arms may be joining young gun Brandon Webb on the mound, the old guys like Johnny Estrada, Luis Gonzalez, and Craig Counsell have been shown the door. With prospects like Stephen Drew (J.D.'s little brother), Chris Young and Carlos Quentin filling the void, the loss isn't that substantial. Plus rounding out the line up we have everyone's favorite bed headed outfielder Eric Byrnes and solid players Orlando Hudson and Chad Tracy . The main issue with this team is the bullpen. There are a bunch of young arms with no one over two years in the majors minus Brandon Lyon, Jorge Julio and Jose Valverde. Speaking of Valverde, he is back at closer, or until he gets hurt once again. This is where the Julio signing comes into play. Expect him to fill in if/when Valverde gets hurt.
The Diamondbacks are a very young team (there are only 4 players over 31), but they do sport the defending NL Cy Young winner in Brandon Webb, and Randy Johnson (who won 4 Cy Young's in 6 years in Arizona). This team could be dangerous if they young talent comes through and they avoid injuries.

Colorado Rockies
Pros: Matt Holliday, Brian Hawpe, Todd Helton and Garrett Atkins will hit the crap out of the ball
Cons: So will opponents if anyone other than Jeff Francis is pitching.
That may be an exaggeration, but while Coors Field magic humidor has made it a less frightening place for pitchers, any team that still employs Byung-Hung Kim, must have serious holes in the rotation. Colorado does however win the Bob Cluck award for next year's potential, with Josh Fogg, Taylor Buchholz, and Jason Hirsh.

Los Angeles Dodgers
In addition to all-you-can-eat Dodger Dogs, there are plenty of reasons the Dodgers will have people in the stands this year. With the addition of Jason Schmidt to Derek Lowe, Brad Penny, Randy Wolf, and Brett Tomko the Dodgers boast one of the most consistent, albeit non-threatening rotations in the NL. With a bullpen of Chad Billingsley, Jonathan Broxton, and closer Takashi Saito, six quality innings is all those starters will need. Getting those pitchers a lead will be the hard part. J.D. Drew took his bat and annual trip to the DL to Boston. They signed Luis Gonzalez for some offense about three years too late. They also added Juan Pierre to complement Rafael Furcal at the top of the order. Which will be great if Pierre can ever find a way to steal first base. About the only thing even close to being offensive on this team is Jeff Kent's moustache. But then again they always can count on some timely hitting from Mr. Mia Hamm.

San Diego Padres
The Fathers are the defending NL West champs, and how did they spend their offseason? They brought in still masterful Greg Maddux and still fat effective David Wells to complement their young aces of Jake Peavy and Chris Young. The bullpen boasts the all time saves leader Trevor Hoffman and great set up men in Cla Meredith and Scott Linebrink. They traded away up and coming 2nd baseman Josh Barfield, for up and coming 3rd baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff. Joining Kouzmanoff are those wacky Giles brothers, and Adrian Gonzalez (draft him for your fantasy team this year, you'll thank me later), Khalil Greene, and Mike Cameron, giving the Padres one of the best lineup (on paper...or on a monitor as the case might be). But they will be missing the added distraction of constant trips to the Playboy Mansion that Mike Piazza took with him to Oakland.

San Francisco Giants
Barry Zito joins either a really good or really bad rotation of Matt Morris, Matt Cain, Noah Lowry and Russ Ortiz. For the Giants to do any damage, they will have to be really good. Other than Barry Bonds, the rest of the lineup answers the question "where do players go after their prime years?" Omar Vizquel, Randy Winn, Armando Benitez, Ray Durham, Dave Roberts, Pedro Feliz, Rich Aurilla, it's like a collection of the crappy players from every All-Star game since 1999. All that's missing is Ryan Klesko...wait nope there he is. The best thing that could happen to this team is every one getting hurt(which is almost a guarantee for Klesko) and them being forced to play their young players. Add to this the carnival of boos towards Bonds as he continues his quest to place an asterisk next to every hitting record, it's not going to be a fun season for baseball next to McCovey Cove.

Final Standings
1) San Diego (90-72)
2) Los Angeles (85-77)
3) Arizona (80-82)
4) Colorado (74-88)
5) San Francisco (66-96)


Corey said...

So, the Padres, Dodgers and Giants are ALL going to play only 160 games? Someone is getting lazy. ;o)

rock_n_rye said...

Math like that is one of the reasons I don't work for a bank (anymore)

Geoff said...

I hope your prediction about the Padres comes true. Here's hoping for a rematch of '84 -- with a different outcome, of course. ;-)