Pete’s Picks: NL West
- Updated: March 24, 2008
This is a tight division overall and anyone can easily pull ahead of the pack, but they will need to improve without costing them security in another spot on the roster (see the D’backs with trading Jose Valverde).
1. Diamondbacks : The difference makers here are the departure of SP Livan Hernandez and the addition of SP Dan Haren via trade from the A’s; a healthier Randy Johnson at the top of the rotation with Webb; the addition of RF Justin Upton from the minors for a full season; and the full time play of 1B Conor Jackson, no longer platooning with the veteran Tony Clark (one of the most classy guys in MLB). They may take a hit from trading their closer Jose Valverde to Houston and being replaced by either Lyon or Pena. Also, you might see improved play from C Chris Snyder in 2008 and that will only help. Chris Young needs to get on base more if they are to score more runs this year, or else move him to the # 3 spot in the line-up. Extra: Personally, what I am eager to see is if pitcher Micah Owings can continue his dominance over all other pitchers at the plate in ’08. Last year, he hit better than some position players. He may even see some time as a DH in his non-starts against the AL. 2. Rockies : With the exception of 2B and maybe C, this is the best line-up in the NL West. What they need to dominate is a solid rotation. The bullpen, unlike most other NL bullpens, is solid. It’s what got them to the world series back in October. Holliday will be the same, which is an All Star/MVP like performance in 2008, but look also for a better year from Helton (production numbers) and Atkins who had a subpar 2007 due to his early slump and was not as productive away from Coors.
3. Padres : Their whole pitching staff is solid, one of the best in baseball! What they lack is power in the OF. To compete, they need another bat in the OF and Jim Edmonds to play like his old self and not like the player that he seems to be, a broken down shell of his former self. Sorry Jim, but you should be a corner OF’er at this point in your career.
4. Dodgers : Will Joe Torre make an immediate impact or will his superior managerial ability take time to show fruit in LA? Only time will tell. The big question mark here is who will play 3B. Short term, it looks like Tony Abreu, but the Dodger’s long term goal might not be Nomar nor LaRoche. Look for them to shop around at the deadline for a permanent replacement there. Then there’s the question of when they will trade Juan Pierre to make room for the youngster Andre Either in the OF. They will loose the speed of Pierre, but will gain a much more desirable bat in Either. Their pitching looks good if it can stay healthy, but the bullpen, outside of Saito and Broxton, could be improved upon. 5. Giants : Although the distraction that was Barry Bonds is no longer a concern of the Giants, they still have a mountain to climb in the NL West. Yes, they added CF Aaron Rowand, but last season’s numbers where not the norm for this hard-nosed CF’er. They still need to improve at 3B and in the bullpen as well as 4/5 starters. They don’t even have a legitimate closer yet (no disrespect to Brian Wilson, he just hasn’t done this job before)! They’re also getting old, even without Bonds. They have 6 out of their starting 8 position players over the age of 33 and 4 of those are over 35. They need to find understudies at 1B, 2B, SS and the OF. Although Rajia Davis is an option, but he’s more like a CF’er (speedster) than a corner outfielder that’s a power producing hitter. On the up side, their top three pitchers are very good (Zito, Cain and Lincecum). Until something drastic changes, they will remain last in this division for the foreseeable remainder of Rowand’s contract. But, we shall see.