three and we arrive at the division that might rightfully claim
some of the best pitching in baseball. The key word is… of course…
teams… all sorts of crazy stories… and yes, all sorts of impressive
What I expect in 2010: 92-70, playoffs, World
they did in 2009: 88-74
personnel changes: Considering their needs were almost
all focused on everyday players… and we’re looking at a division
with no superpowers… I think bringing in Aubrey Huff, Juan Uribe
and Mark DeRosa makes for an interesting set of additions. They
lost nobody. They have some great pitching. So for not spending
a ton, they might have added some bargains. (By the way… interesting
note… we have an official Byung-Hyun Kim sighting!)
expectations: Well… what can I tell you that you don’t
already know? Lincecum and Cain and three days of rain… am I right?
before you chuckle and dismiss this club as two great pitchers
and a bunch of pretenders… this team won 88 last year with nothing
else. Sure, Randy Johnson is gone. The reality is, this team lost
added Mark DeRosa… who could hit about .285 with an on-base percentage
over .350 judging by his past four seasons, which all involved
regular play and 135-plus games.
added Aubrey Huff… who could hit 20-plus home runs, and might
even threaten 30 against National League pitching, while routinely
being available every day.
about only that… DeRosa and Huff… a team that couldn’t score runs
last year adding two guys that could combine for 50 home runs.)
already have Pablo Sandoval… simply the quietest MVP-level season
ever delivered in 2009, when he hit .330 with a .387 on-base,
25 homers, 90 RBIs and 79 runs in his first full big-league season.
could be better… but things aren’t bad in San Francisco.
it could all go wrong (or, I suppose, right): Let’s rattle
off the roll call…
Renteria… Bengie Molina… Aaron Rowand… Juan Uribe… are you seeing
what I’m seeing? This could be really good, pretty average, or
poster boy is Renteria… who’s quality of play has ranged from
gold glove all-star to traded for a case of batting practice balls
to anything in between. (And that’s just in the past two seasons.)
this group of players each giving a decent season, the Giants
will be in good shape. If two of them… we’ll point our fingers
at Renteria and Rowand… play career average seasons or a bit better,
look out. The Giants have the front-of-staff horses to make it
to the World Series with that. And if the group flounders… well…
there will be one or two teams in this division close behind,
ready to pounce.
What I expect in 2010: 87-75
they did in 2009: 95-67, playoffs
personnel changes: Amazingly quiet. They managed to dump
Juan Pierre. And that’s about… hold on… yeah… that’s it. Brought
in or signed a few one-year-flyers… Reed Johnson… Ronnie Belliard…
Vincente Padilla… Brad Ausmus… but nothing stunning or amazing.
Plans seem to be based on getting payroll stable after a few years
of Juan Pierre, Jason Schmidt, and figuring out what Manny is
doing. Guess I can’t blame them for that, but it does raise some
questions if you think things will be a walk into the playoffs.
expectations: They’ll be good.
and Kershaw aren’t exactly covered in dust behind Lincecum and
Cain. The Dodgers can at least make a claim to having some high
Kemp is establishing himself. Andre Ethier is a name all of us
should be familiar with now. Furcal and Belliard are decent enough
up the middle.
don’t expect much drama out here either during the 2010 season.
No 50-game suspensions and such… which, they managed to withstand
just fine last year.
problem I have is that I don’t see this club winning 95 games
again. They’re just not that good. Let’s go back to the pitching.
bullpen has the potential to be strong. But out of every five
starts, the Dodgers are sending… not probably, but at least in
possibility… three kegs of dynamite to the mound. And as good
as Billingsley and Kershaw may be… could be… can be… neither would
be one of the first three pitchers you’d pick if assembling a
roster out of only pitchers in the NL West (and they might have
a hard time cracking the top five considering before even drawing
a breath and thinking about it we’d name Lincecum, Cain, Webb
and Haren ahead of them). And after that… I don’t know. Will they
get a 6-inning start every night from the other guys? Will they
get a performance that keeps them, in the game?
I’m just asking.
started last season in Texas before moving to Los Angeles. He
starts 2009 with a 5.2-inning start, a 3.1-inning start, a 5-inning
start and a 6.2-inning start. He had two 8 inning appearances
while playing for the Rangers… and two others that didn’t last
4 innings. And while I’m digging at small details with those numbers,
the idea is accurate… LA has no idea what they will get on any
it could all go wrong (or, I suppose, right): Even with
three kegs of dynamite going to the mound, this team should be
ok in the National League, meaning above even. And, considering
last year’s results, we could be talking 90-wins and playoff possibilities.
is going to be fine, and teaming him up with Casey Blake and Kemp
and Ethier… as examples… should allow the Dodgers to produce some
runs. Plus… teaming Manny up with Kemp and Ethier should give
the Dodgers a fairly decent outfield, even if Manny is spending
most of his time chatting with fans and looking for dandelions.
though, they’re no better than average. And there are enough questions
(Loney and Martin come to mind) that I could see this team being
inconsistent quite often.
What I expect in 2010: 85-77
they did in 2009: 92-70, playoffs
personnel changes: Melvin Mora… geez… is that it? Yup.
Melvin Mora. Well that just sucks. By the way… note… Jason Marquis
and Josh Fogg are gone. Let’s not make too much of it. We’re not
changing landscapes here. Heck, Fogg hasn’t done much in two years.
But when a club that is often hit or miss with pitching gives
up on pitching, it should at least be considered. Marquis won
15 for them in 2009 and got 28 decisions. (Sure… that means he
lost 13… but he threw 216 innings last year, averaging just under
7 innings per outing. He’s been over 30 starts and 190 innings
in five of the past six seasons. That’s alot of possible work
for the bullpen to absorb if his replacement isn’t up to it.)
expectations: I am quite aware that in just 110 games,
Jim Tracy was 30 games over .500. There is zero way that in 162
games he accomplishes that feat and goes something like 96-66.
And, honestly, I don’t see how this team clears 85 wins.
a division filled with top-notch pitching, the Rockies are surprisingly
thin in that area.
I being fair? Probably not. Ubaldo Jimenez turned in 15 wins last
year with an ERA under 3.50. Pretty darn good. But does their
staff match up with what we see on other NL West clubs? Be honest…
no, it doesn’t.
hard not to like a team with veteran presence like Todd Helton
and rising stars like Troy Tulowitzki… but I just don’t. They
have some young talent, especially in that outfield. But it’s
just that… young.
Street will likely be on the market by late May, and I don’t expect
him in Colorado beyond July.
it could all go wrong (or, I suppose, right): Well, it
could all go right if their pitching staff can be consistent…
that’s all I ask.
batting order will scare… well… it won’t scare any opponent. But,
when its clicking, they will put 10 runs on the board in a hurry.
They will be an incredibly streaky team. You watch… one day they’re
going to be 8 or 9 games out in the standings, and then the next
time you look they’ll be 2 back. If they can control that on the
bad side… stop losing streaks… they could contend.
with so-so pitching and average defense, I don’t see how they’ll
be consistent or stable. For any 5 or 6 game winning streak, I
think you’ll see them lose 7 or 8 out of the next ten. Three steps
forward… two steps back… one step forward… three steps back… etc.
something more concrete? Ok… Carlos Gonzalez should have a regular
spot in the outfield this season. At 24, expect to hear his name…
alot. He’s capable of hitting .300, approaching .380 to .390 for
his on-base percentage, and I think estimating 25 home runs from
him could turn out to be low. Good stuff.
the rest of the outfield features young guys that can catch… but
can’t hit. Or… young guys that can hit… but can’t catch.
certainly wouldn’t stun me to see them win this division. I just
look at the roster and see way too many uncertainties. I like
regular lineups… especially in the National League. When it isn’t
regular, it should offer some flexibility. I see Colorado as a
team still trying to figure out an identity.
What I expect in 2010: 74-88
they did in 2009: 75-87
personnel changes: Eventually we’ll get to Kansas City…
where I’ll make some notes about a club that has no hopes for
2010 because they are doing dumb things. But here… well… no real
expectations and no amazing moves. Sure… Jerry Hairston… Jon Garland…
even Yorvit Torrealba. Some new faces… some interesting faces
for the club. But it seems more like they got a couple of players
while the price was low that they might be able to trade later
rather than players no one will want in July. Obviously the big
moves discussed are the ones they didn’t make. And those will
just have to wait… though maybe not for long.
expectations: I think they escape the basement based
on two things… one, trouble in Arizona… two, I have to approach
this expecting full seasons in San Diego from Gonzalez, Bell,
Young and Garland.
they trade Adrian Gonzalez in July, all bets are off. Last place
it is. Otherwise…
Chris Young is a good starter. Paired up with a healthy Garland,
the front of this rotation could be ok. That’s a good thing. Because
with a solid closer in Heath Bell, the bullpen is decent… probably
second to the Dodgers in the division good. (Although… let’s be
fair… did you know Chris Young has never pitched 200 innings in
a season before? I’m not kidding. He’ll celebrate his 31st birthday
in late May. He’s pitched in the majors since 2004, and essentially
as a regular since 2005. Now… tell me when I cross the line for
his biggest year for innings pitched. Ready? Ok… 195… 190… 185…
180… 175… 170… 165… and I’ll stop. First… did I cross the mark
yet? And if I did… when did I cross it? More on this in a second.)
hate playing the game with David Eckstein of calling him a gamer
or scrappy, but if you are looking for talent on the field, it
ends with Gonzalez. And there aren’t any numbers that are going
to impress you other than him. Am I being too harsh? Maybe. But
the reality is that the Padres will get calls for Gonzalez and
calls for Bell and… if they pitch well and make their regular
starts… could get calls for Young and calls for Garland. Which
leads us back to…
umm… gamer … scrappy.
as crazy as it sounds, I don’t get the sense that this team will
pack up their bags and go away. They have difficulty matching
up with Pittsburgh and Washington, and yet… Torrealba has something
to prove… Hairston feels he has something to prove… there will
be some young players given chances to get on the field here.
And if Gonzalez is playing, they will often take the field with
the best player in the game wearing their uniform.
if we consider Eckstein’s strength to be that he never gives up…
so once in a while there is that grounder that gets mishandled
or something that only matters because he’s running hard… I think
this team could find a way to win a few that another team would
back to Young. What did you guess? In 2006 he threw 179 innings
and in 2007 he reached 173. His third best year topped out at
164. He’s around 100 or below in his other 3 seasons. And yet…
this club won 75 last year. (It’s a miracle.)
it could all go wrong (or, I suppose, right): While I’m
being filled with good thoughts for the Padres, the reality is…
Bell and Adrian Gonzalez almost certainly both get traded in the
hopes of building for 2012.
isn’t enough here to make a run at an even record. But they could
avoid the basement. The question is how the roster stays together
for the year.
What I expect in 2010: 72-90
they did in 2009: 70-92
personnel changes: Does Edwin Jackson thrill you? If
not… and chances are, he doesn’t… then not much of Arizona’s off-season
will impress you. Why? Well… Ian Kennedy is next in line for names.
Realistically the biggest question for the Diamondbacks involves
Brandon Webb, which isn’t a change so much as a return.
expectations: That the club flounders and the return
of Webb goes horribly wrong.
is nothing in the infield that I like. That isn’t a fair comment,
but I don’t exactly have to be without sarcasm in these reviews.
Two years ago when the Diamondbacks made the playoffs they couldn’t
score runs. So why should I… even if these are a combination of
old guys from that team and new guys brought in… believe in a
group like the infield presents of Drew, Johnson and LaRoche?
see zero offense… I see questions all over the rotation… I don’t
see a dominant bullpen… give me bringing up the rear of the division.
it could all go wrong (or, I suppose, right): This club
could finish about 20 games above where I’m predicting they will
off… the idea of “zero offense” is just wrong. Yes, I have heard
of Justin Upton, and if he continues his remarkable development,
he is young, talented, and should ultimately become a very special
player. And when Kelly Johnson gives a team a full-season worth
of work, the results haven’t been hideous. Also, you have Adam
LaRoche (really like him as a person, not too thrilled about him
as a player). He’s basically on a one-year deal that could expand
to 2011 (but won’t unless he delivers a monster year and the Diamondbacks
decide he’s worth more than a possible draft pick), and he has
shown signs of being able to deliver some decent results. Lots
of people like him more in the second-half of the season though,
so don’t go expecting immediate positive results from him. (There,
I said it… no e-mails about the zero offense and Upton… ok? Good…
and Haren should be nothing less than a force for Arizona this
year. That is based on the “if healthy” question being answered
in a way Arizona is happy with.
Jackson… considering the trade that brought him here… adds nothing
since he was traded for the man he effectively replaces, but he’s
not much of a drop off from Scherzer. The problem is, considering
the results Scherzer was treated to by his teammates, Jackson
shouldn’t expect much. This rotation goes two-deep, because those
two are known for being incredibly stingy, and then faces a potential
nosedive. Still… it should be a great two-deep. Few National League
teams feature strength beyond two or three starters, and with
a few more runs there could be something here.
thought… Arizona putting Webb and Haren on the mound… possibly
sending both to the mid-season coin flip… and the pair finishing
in the top ten of Cy Young voting… all while the team lands 20-games