I’ve put this off long enough. It’s time, once again, to get into my baseball preview, the only longwinded preview I suspect anyone reads. I have my thought on the NL West all ready to go, but if anyone else has opinions, let me know in the comments! And here we go, for the next several weeks or so.
Los Angeles Dodgers: The NL West, essentially, was a division that expressed virtually no interest in improving their lot. Their only big loss was J.D. Drew, and their big addition was Jason Schmidt. They packed the roster full of guys like Juan Pierre (for five years!), Randy Wolf, Mike Lieberthal and Luis Gonzalez. They’ll get the senior citizens discount at Embers, but I find it hard to believe that they have improved all that dramatically. If anything, they have shot themselves in the foot for the future, blocking off some good young talent with some waning, old stiffs. Of course, this year, they have a chance to take the NL West crown again, because the West is weak.
Arizona Diamondbacks: The D-Backs probably had the best strategy of any team out west, making few moves and hoping their young studs continue to develop. They cleared out some space, giving some spare parts to the Yankees for Randy Johnson, who will still be a good second or third starter behind Brandon Webb, last years NL Cy Young winner. With improving players like Chad Tracy in the lineup, a drastic turnaround is highly likely this season in Arizona.
San Francisco Giants: I generally don’t like teams that fire their manager after a decent run to do well the following season. It suggests chaos and discord in the locker room. However, the Giants hired the recently dispatched Bruce Bochy, formerly of the Padres to right the ship. They went the same rout as the Dodgers this off season, looking forward to getting a lot older, something I didn’t think was possible, adding Dave Roberts and Ryan Klesko from the Padres. The youngest addition offensively was Bengie Molina, something that should be both terrifying and amusing. They swapped out Jason Schmidt for Barry Zito, a clear downgrade, and one of a couple reasons I don’t see the Giants fighting for the top spot in the West.
San Diego Padres: See the above comment on managers for why I don’t see the Padres contending this year. The best thing they did in the offseason was acquire Kevin Kouzmanoff to play third, bringing life to the position. They sent off Josh Barfield, opening second base for the overrated Marcus Giles. That seems to be about one too many Giles’ on this team for my taste.
Colorado Rockies: You know what I hate about the Rockies? That people abbreviate the team “Rox”. It bugs me. However, I like the team in fantasy baseball because they have a roster full of no-name stat producing machines, like Garret Atkins, Matt Holliday and Brad Hawpe. They acquired some good young pitchers and Willy Taveres for Jason Jennings, a steal from the Astros. The only down spot in their lineup is, ironically, the diminishing skill set of Todd Helton. The only holes in their pitching staff are their rotation and bullpen. This squad is still a couple years out, but getting much closer.
The West is very even, top to bottom. I would be very surprised if things ended up the way I predict here. – Ryan