Visit "All World All Sports"
NL West baseball was spectacular in '09. Joe Torre's LA Dodgers managed to hang on and win the division in the final week. Colorado pulled off another fantastic finish by getting hot at just the right time. San Francisco's younth movement surprisingly kept pressure on all foes thanks to Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. Arizona was busy shoring up their roster. San Diego has seen better days.
Here's my final brief installment of 2010 previews... NL West.
Los Angeles Dodgers (95-67):
Key additions: 22 players signed to minor league contracts including Eric Gagne & Brian Giles trying to rejuvenate careers.
Key losses: John Garland, Orlando Hudson, Guillermo Mota, Juan Pierre, Jim Thome, Randy Wolf.
Dodger baseball is alive and well with Joe Torre at the helm. Back to back NL West titles for the first time since the days of Tommy Lasorda (1994-95). Great nucleus of young pitching & hitting assures this team will remain in West race for years to come.
Projected rotation: Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, Hiroki Kuroda, Vincente Padilla, ???
Bullpen: Fireballer Jonathan Broxton returns. Eric Gagne making another comeback attempt. Very deep, talented bullpen. Perhaps they have too many arms? Ideal for end of spring trading bait.
Forecast: Starting pitching might not go deep enough into games. Torre will have his hands full trying to keep relievers arms sound when the clock turns to September. Lineup comes through with clutch hit after clutch hit... until NLCS rolls around. Torre will try getting his team past recent playoff failures... assuming they can hold off rising Rockies.
Colorado Rockies (92-70):
Key additions: Melvin Mora, Miguel Olivo
Key losses: Garrett Atkins, Jose Contreras, Josh Fogg, Matt Herges, Jason Marquis, Yorvit Torrealba.
Once again, Colorado put together a strong late season push to make the playoffs. Strong performances by young rotation surprised everyone outside of Denver. All starters had winning records. Cutting down on strikeouts will go a long way towards winning the West. Rocks hope young talent matures enough to win it all. Dangerous club when all cylinder's are firing.
Projected rotation: Ubaldo Jiminez, Aaron Cook, Jorge De La Rosa, Jeff Francis, Jason Hamel, Franklin Morales.
Bullpen: Hudson Street is loving life away from Oakland. Plenty of arms competing for roles on the big league club. Minors will be filled with pitching talent when camp breaks.
Forecast: Is this the year Colorado goes wire to wire? There's plenty of talent here to make a legit World Series run if starting pitchers continue improving.
San Francisco Giants (88-74):
Key additions: Mark DeRosa, Aubrey Huff, Guillermo Mota.
Key losses: Ryan Garko, Bob Howry, Randy Johnson, Brad Penny, Randy Winn.
Heading into '09 everyone knew SF wasn't going to win. In fact, most thought this club might not advance from the cellar. By the end of August, the Giants grabbed hold of 2nd place. Offense was their weak point most of the year outside of Sandoval (only regular to hit over .270). Giants front office has brought in DeRosa and Huff to add offensive potency in 2010. SF is a team on the rise but might still be a year or two away from passing LA/Colorado. But, don't be surprised if they're sitting alone in 1st when this season ends.
Projected rotation: Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito, Jonathan Sanchez, ???
Bullpen: Brian Wilson returns to close. I'm not sold on his ability to shut down opponents in big games. Bullpen choirs will be spring time decisions.
Forecast: SF is putting together a fine club. I don't see them winning the West (yet). They'll be very competitive behind solid 1-2 punch of Lincecum & Cain.
San Diego Padres (75-87):
Key additions: John Garland, Jerry Hairston Jr., Yorvit Torrealba, Matt Stairs.
Key losses: Jake Peavy, Brian Giles, Josh Banks, Henry Blanco, Cliff Floyd, Kevin Kouzmanoff.
Padres have yet to recover since blowing their wild card lead to Colorado back in '07. As a matter of fact, they've gone backwards. 2010 will be a very long season and remaining talent could be jettisoned by MLB trading deadline. There isn't anything positive to say about the Padres. Lack of attention towards attempting to build a winning ballclub should have all San Diego fans miffed.
Projected rotation: John Garland, Chris Young, Kevin Correia, ???
Bullpen: Heath Bell returns as closer. Bullpen has talent. Unfortunately, they could easily be burnt out by the All Star break.
Forecast: Doom and gloom with no help on the horizon. Reproducing 75 wins seems like a longshot in tough NL West.
Arizona Diamondbacks (70-92):
Key additions: Edwin Jackson, Adam LaRoche, Aaron Heilman, Ian Kennedy, Bob Howry, Kelly Johnson.
Key losses: Eric Byrnes, Doug Davis, Yusmeiro Petit, Max Scherzer, Chad Tracy, Daniel Schlereth.
Arizona deserves credit for attempting to quickly return to winning ways. Injuries hurt them in recent years. They're now ready to compete. Only question is if new players can produce and if younger home grown talent matures.
Projected rotation: Brandon Webb, Dan Haren, Edwin Jackson, ???
Bullpen: Chad Quails appears to be the closer. Deep bullpen, assignments to be won or lost this spring.
Forecast: Arizona is dangerous for one reason... everyone's eyes are on LA, Colorado & SF. Many pieces need to fall into place beginning with keeping players healthy. Don't be surprised if D-Backs challenge for division honors.