previous years, I’ve used the six divisional columns to predict
records and make comments about the teams. This year, I’m debating
the records part. There will still be a summary column… so I’m
thinking of putting records over there if I do them.
now… let’s take a look at the NL West. The listing of teams is
in the order I’m predicting the division to finish…
not that this division confuses me… I’ll take the AL Central for
that one. The problem out here is that, unlike the inconsistencies
of play from seasons to season a division like the AL Central
presents, with this group you get those same inconsistencies but
no real sense of unfulfilled potential from the talent. Detroit…
Cleveland… Minnesota… Chicago… all of them have had their supporters
in recent years… all have had a surprise run… all have been disappointing.
so out here in the NL West. None of these teams look amazing on
believe me? Ok.
Detroit went to the World Series a couple of years ago… did you
think it was possible they could get back to the World Series
again right away? Of course you did. You didn’t know if they would…
but they had shown enough to think they could. And… help me out
here… exactly how successful have they been since they made the
they haven’t been successful at all. So… is that because they
haven’t done anything? I don’t know… you tell me… trade for Willis
and Cabrera anyone? They’ve been as splashy and as active as just
about any organization in the game today.
that said… when Colorado made the World Series… did you think
they had a shot of going back?
do you see what I mean? This is a boring division filled with
boring teams playing boring baseball. Or… at least… that’s the
are Cy Young winning arms out here. Some lights out pitching spread
across the teams. Four of the teams in this division have been
in the World Series roughly over the past decade. (Think about
that. I’m including San Diego in that count… and Los Angeles has
been the playoffs too… making the NL West and the AL West the
only divisions that have sent all of their teams to the playoffs
in the past ten to fifteen years. And if we remove Cleveland and
San Diego from a decade ago, you get the Giants, Rockies, and
Diamondbacks as representatives in the World Series since 2000.
Over roughly that same period of time… Kansas City has never been
in the playoffs… Chicago won a title and Detroit played for one…
and, eventually you reach a point where these teams have actually
overachieved while the AL Central has, possibly, underachieved.
still can’t picture any of these clubs figuratively kicking the
dirt and cursing to the heavens about recent missed opportunities
like… say… Milwaukee. And I don’t see any of the home town press
wondering what’s going wrong the way they do in… say… Detroit.
And we don’t even need to get into the possibilities of considering
the best three clubs in one league are quite likely playing in
the same division when, at most, only two of those clubs can qualify
for the playoffs.
mean… we could look at that stuff… and we could investigate other
issues… but the simple idea here is everyone in this division
seems to finish just about where they deserve to finish, and no
one cries about what might have been.
hard to explain, but this division is just so vanilla… plain…
heck, it is boring. And that just shouldn’t be the case.
Diamondbacks ~ Ok… I admit it… I like the Diamondbacks.
brought in Jon Garland to pitch behind a great opening combination
of Brandon Webb and Dan Haren. I know… he’s not Randy Johnson.
But is Randy Johnson still Randy Johnson these days? If Garland
offers an average of what he’s hit over the past five or six years,
here in Arizona that should earn him improved stats (he’s in the
National League now… potentially going deeper into games and less
hitting to face) and I could see 15+ wins from a guy that isn’t
yet 30 years old. As a third starter… that’s very nice.
got a decent batting order… not necessarily when looking at average
or power numbers… but they get on base and should wear out opposing
pitching. That’s probably the magic answer to how they win while
not scoring a ton of runs… get the starters off the mound and
work the bullpen.
should investigate that idea. You know how when two teams lock
up for say a four game series… and in the first game one of the
teams is in their bullpen early… so you start wondering how they’ll
last the whole four games with their bullpen blown out in game
one? Well… I wonder how a teams that get into bullpens do in those
final games of a series.)
I like the Diamondbacks.
don’t give up many runs… and their starting rotation last year
averaged over six innings a game pitched with an ERA under 4.
In other words… opposing teams do not blow them out, and they
always seem to be really pesky, hanging around with a shot at
winning. (Again… go back and note getting into bullpens.)
they don’t have is a hitter that scares the tar out of you. This
is a team that gets on base… advances runners (though not as deliberately
or as exciting as the way the Angels do it)… and I suppose you
could say, simply wears you out. I’d like a little more offense.
yeah… they have one bullet in their gun. Miguel Montero. You’ve
heard of him as that catcher Boston supposedly would accept if
Texas doesn’t eventually cave and offer on of their guys, but
the Red Sox won’t do it at these prices. He’s probably the one
guy on the major league roster they could trade without weakening
the club that would still bring back a decent player. I doubt
he’ll be in Boston, but my guess is he won’t bein Arizona by August.
Angeles Dodgers ~ This is going to be pretty good… or
like Derek Lowe are gone, but the rotation is actually in decent
shape up front. Young… questionable… but should be fine.
and Furcal are back. Both, for now, are good things for the Dodgers.
Even Casey Blake is back. What’s not to love?
honestly, there’s not much to complain about here. Letting Lowe
go was a fine move. He is older and would have commanded a four-year
commitment. That move made, is anyone else complaining that they
didn’t bring back Nomar or Brad Penny or Chan Ho Park? See… I
didn’t think so.
Manny wasn’t leaving. So that makes the big move Furcal. I’m not
sure what else they did.
general, I’m ok with how the Dodgers look. Manny, plus Russell
Martin and Blake, should provide the foundation for a good offensive
National League club. A rotation with Chad Billingsley and Clayton
Kershaw is interesting… you might say overall it’s talented and
young, maybe not ready for the big time… but again, it should
thing is… I just don’t see where this team can guarantee anything.
There is no starter in their rotation that will absolutely deliver
10 or more wins. And the entire team… all over the place from
hitting to defense to the bullpen… has a similar question about
weighing expectations against certainties.
year… remember how everyone was talking about that big huge difference
Manny made? Well… basically that difference was that they went
30-24 in August and September. See… 30-24… that’s a 90-win pace.
And I’m finding it very hard to listen to people discussing how
magical and happy and legendary a 90-win pace is for a team. It’s
not. It’s good enough to maybe win a playoff spot… and perhaps
to win this division. But it’s not magical.
bullpen is going to be a bit weaker this year… the starting rotation
might hit some bumps in the road… and Manny will at some point
hurt his right knee (or his left knee… or his right knee but he’ll
sit to protect his left knee… or… there, I’ve gone and forgotten
which knee he hurts… which doesn’t really matter since he never
knows which one is hurt anyway when he goes to fake his limp).
guessing they play closer to a 27-27 pace over time.
Francisco Giants ~ There are a few things about this
club that I like. Adding Randy Johnson to a rotation that had
a great start with Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain could prove fantastic.
Obviously he needs to be a healthy Randy Johnson… and he won’t
be the Cy Young winning Randy Johnson… but they could be as good
as anyone on the mound in October if they are all healthy.
Edgar Renteria? I mean… even given the market that crashed after
he was signed… considering how inconsistent he’s been (American
League numbers or not)… this isn’t the best solution for an offensively
I see… you think I’ve overselling it? Ok. Fine.
the starting first baseman here in San Francisco?
about naming two starting outfielders?
it turns out that an 84-win pace will put a team into contention
going in to the final weekend… I’ll listen to all of you that
want to tell me the Giants could get into the playoffs. Until
then, you’ll be struggling to convince me they’ll even have a
Colorado Rockies ~ I like the game I started
with San Francisco. Let’s keep playing.
me one… just one… Colorado outfielder.
on. Doesn’t even need to be a starter.
he got traded to Oakland. Try again.
couldn’t name me one Colorado outfielder. And you’re still wondering
why I said this division is boring?
can’t say I hate the Rockies. There are players like Chris Iannetta
that we should be watching for the next ten years or so. Garrett
Atkins is a good enough guy to have on your club. And I thought
Troy Tulowitzki did ok last year considering he missed more than
But there’s no power to the batting order… Matt Holiday led this
club last year with 25 home runs. As noted above, he won’t lead
them in any categories in 2009.
Yeah… well… they’re just ok there as well. I’m afraid that while
not quite rebuilding… you never need to rebuild in the NL West…
the Rockies aren’t quite ready to threaten anyone with another
great run or playoff appearance.
Diego Padres ~ I don’t get it. How did this fall apart
get me wrong… I see where alot of it happened. (Some of it is
just San Diego cyclical. Still…) They never were scoring runs.
And even when successful… and even though talented… their pitching
staff was never the perfect balance of starters and relievers
delivering stellar results all of the time. So I get that part
of the dilemma.
this Jake Peavey stuff… wow. That certainly seemed like a gorilla
in the spring training locker room, and now continues to be one
that evidently will be making the summer tour with them.
how about Brian Giles? After turning down
a trade to Boston last season… with the team apparently falling
apart and his off-field problems mounting… he seems to think the
Red Sox would offer a nice place for him. What? Do any of you
see an opening for a 38-year old outfielder in Boston? (Last year
he didn’t want to be on the bench. Is Giles willing to be a 25-year
old catcher in Boston? If he is, they’d probably talk trade again.)
general idea here is that I see alot of stuff swirling around
that suggests this roster might not be as cohesive and united
as you might hope to find. And instead of talking about the possibilities
in a division that annually makes itself quite winnable for any
club that delivers even the most marginally average of results…
we are hearing about the trade that didn’t happen and the option
that probably shouldn’t have been picked up.
brought in players like Cliff Floyd and David Eckstein… which
would make some sense to me if they had a chance at winning.
is a chance that this club can surprise me. Peavy and Chris Young?
I’ve got no complaints with that if they are taking the mound
65 times or so combined. The trouble is that they need an awful
lot to go right in order to win more than they lose. And I just
don’t see how all of that happens.