The top 3 teams in the NL West all have a chance at the postseason, but its the Los Angeles Dodgers that are the team to beat.
1st Place: Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles (93-69)
The Dodgers spent a lot of money. I know, spending money on huge contracts doesn’t guarantee World Series wins; otherwise the Yankees would have a lot more than their paltry 27. But, I expect Adrian Gonzalez to have very good year and I think people have written off Carl Crawford way to early. Their starting staff has the potential to be great. Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke are about as good of a 1-2 as you will find. If Chad Billingsley can repeat last year, Josh Beckett finds a bump from moving to a pitcher’s park, and Hyun-Jin Ryu is as good as they think, they’re going to win a lot of games. The Dodgers also have the very capable Chris Capuano should he need to fill in. Their bullpen was 4th in ERA in the NL last year and they look decent again, although, through injuries or ineffectiveness, Brandon League will not be their closer all season.
The negatives: Despite all the big name/ big contract players on the Dodgers, here are a few of their projected starters: 2B Mark Ellis, 3B Luis Cruz, LF Jerry Hairston, Jr., C AJ Ellis. Also, Hanley Ramirez is not good. Not. Good. They’ll call up Dee Gordon at some point, probably sooner rather than later.
2nd Place: San Francisco Giants (90-62)
I think the Giants won the World Series last season. I can’t be sure. There’s no way to prove it. Who really cares? If they did win the World Series, they basically return the same team this season (where is Aubrey Huff?). Buster Posey is spectacular at the most critical position on the field. And while the Giants are good in all areas, they are great in none. Offensively, middle-of-the-pack. Pitching, upper third in the NL but not the top few. Defensively, average. Other than Buster Posey, and maybe Matt Cain, there is no one on this team, pitcher or hitter, who really stands out. Giants Fan will tell you that their starting pitching is great, but really they aren’t. Ryan Vogelsong and Madison Bumgarner are good, and I would certainly make either of them the #1 starter on the Padres (but that’s not saying much). Tim Lincecum was a total mess last year and Barry Zito will be 35 this season. When hot, Pablo Sandoval can be dangerous, although his 2012 season was a major drop off from 2011. This team is probably good enough for wild card contention, but as far as being the NL West favorites, I just don’t see it. Yes, Giants Fan, You overachieved in 2012.
3rd Place: Arizona Diamondbacks (85-77)
Predicting this team is a total crap-shoot. I could see the Diamondbacks winning 90 games and I could see them winning 75. The variability lies in their offensive lineup. Guys like Aaron Hill, Miguel Montero, Martin Prado, and Cody Ross are all nice players, when they’re playing nice. If all of these guys reproduce their 2012 numbers, watch out. If they delve deeper into their past performances, they are potential disappointments. Jason Kubel is a terrific, underrated hitter and Paul Goldschmidt will hit a ton of doubles and homers. A good year from their rookie center fielder, Adam Eaton (who used to be a starting pitcher for the Padres), could push them over the top. The strength of this team lies in their starting pitching, and maybe I’m just saying that because of Ian Kennedy and his propensity for shutting down the Padres. The bullpen is solid, but J.J Putz is one year younger than me. That’s one year younger than old. I won’t be surprised wherever the Diamondbacks finish, 1st through 5th.
4th Place: San Diego Padres (78-84)
The margin of error for the Padres is razor thin. Offensively, things have to go right. Chase Headley is awesome, but won’t reproduce his 2012 numbers. Carlos Quentin has to stay healthy. Yonder Alonso will improve and Jedd Gyorko will be in the ROY discussion. However, guys like Cameron Maybin, Everth Cabrera, Chris Denorfia, and Will Venable, not only have to stay healthy, but also have to produce the best seasons of their careers. That’s a lot to ask. Should any of the Padres position players get hurt for an extended period, there isn’t much available in the way of replacements. And by the way, the hitting is the strength of this team. Unless prospects like Casey Kelly, Robbie Erlin, and Donn Roach get and take advantage of opportunities, the starting rotation is going to be a disaster. Jason Marquis. Eric Stults. Clayton Richard. Freddy Garcia. Tim Stauffer. Tyson Ross. Anthony Bass. Way to go Josh Byrnes, that’s a list of names. I actually feel that my 4th place prediction is a product of my fandom. They could very easily finish last. Sorry folks.
5th Place: Colorado Rockies. (69-93)
Ok, never mind about the Padres finishing last. I am looking at the Rockies’ projected depth chart. Wow, they’re bad (Rockies bloggers are saying the same thing about the Padres), and that’s a weird thing to say about a team that has Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki. The starting pitching rotation is so bad that they have Jorge De La Rosa listed as their #1. De La Rosa pitched 10 innings last year, 59 innings the year before that, and a whopping 121 innings in 2010. I remember him in 2010. He was okay. But this is a guy that has been injured for two years now and is supposed to be their #1 guy? Good luck with that. Along those lines, lets hope the Padres catch Jeff Francis during every series, because he’s still pitching. Offensively, outside of the two stars I’ve named, this team is worse than the Padres. Dexter Fowler (2.9 WAR) and Tyler Colvin (2.7 WAR) were good last year, although I predict lesser contributions this year. The rest of the team, including Todd Helton, is below average. What they need to do is trade an outfielder to create room for Eric Young, but hey, that’s not my job.
There you have it folks, my predictions for the NL West. Let me know why you think I’m wrong.
Tags: Adrian Gonzalez Anthony Bass Cameron Maybin Carlos Quentin Chase Headley Chris Denorfia Clayton Richard Everth Cabrera Huston Street Jedd Gyorko San Diego Padres Tim Stauffer Will Venable Yonder Alonso