You might ask why I skipped the Central and went to the West. Well, I’m a Brewers fan, so, naturally, I’m saving the best for last. Thus, here’s the West for ya’s…..
1. Dodgers – The starting rotation has the potential to be phenomenal. Especially with the addition of former division foe, Jason Schmidt. Randy Wolf also comes over from the Phillies for added strength in the 4 spot. If Penny can remain the dominant starter he was before the break last year, the Dodgers will win the division again. The bullpen is also very good, with Takashi Saito anchoring. He was very good last year, and needs to remain so this year. There might be a few question marks in the rest of the pen, though. Grady Little will manage to score a few runs this year, with the lineup being pretty solid from top to bottom. However, they do lack a legitimate power threat, as Luis Gonzalez and Jeff Kent are both past their prime, and Nomar will have a down year after being the Comeback POY last year. Yet, with the rest of the division being not as strong pitching-wise, Chavez Ravine will cheer their Dodgers to the division title again.
Padres – Jake Peavy has Cy Young caliber stuff, if only he could remain healthy. I’m beginning to think that Peavy and Ben Sheets are actually twins separated at birth. Pitching will once again be a strength for the club, marked by signing future HOF-er Greg Maddux. Oh, and the fact that center field is the size of a small country. To put it subtly, PETCO IS A PITCHERS PARK!!! Adding a side note, the Fathers also happen to have the all-time leader in saves in their bullpen with Trevor Hoffman. Much like the Dodgers, the Padres also lack a legitimate power threat in their lineup, and will need the Giles brothers to provide something in the middle of the lineup. Adrian Gonzalez enjoyed a star season last year, and will need to keep it going if the Padres are going to have any chance of catching the Dodgers.
Diamondbacks – Quick, name the only teams to currently have TWO Cy Young award winners on their staff. One is the Mets (Glavine and Pedro), and the other, surprise surprise, is the D-Backs. They signed Randy Johnson (he’s won the award 5 times), and their ace is Brandon Webb (someone had to win it last year in the NL). Add to the mix workhorses Livan Hernandez and Doug Davis, the Snakes have a very good starting staff. The bullpen, though, is a question mark. Jose Valverde is the closer right now, but if he can’t close out games, it’s a toss-up. AND…as is the same with the previous two teams, the D-Backs also lack a legitimate power threat in the middle of the lineup. Stephen Drew has TREMENDOUS potential, and if he lives up to it, look out. Defensively, there are few teams as well matched as the Diamondbacks, but their offense may well prove to be their downfall.
Giants – I am hoping against hope that Barry Bonds will NOT break Hammerin’ Hank’s record. In fact, pretty much everyone outside of the immediate San Fransisco area is as well. But, he only needs 22 to break it. Both Aaron and Bud Selig have said that they will not be in attendance if (when) Bonds breaks the record. Personally, I hope he comes down with a bad case of steroid-itis and retires at 754. Other than Bonds, the Giants are lacking in the hitting department, with really no one to protect him. Their pitching should be pretty good, though. Barry Zito hopped across the Bay and signed with the Giants, to make up for Jason Schmidt leaving to the Dodgers. But, Zito isn’t even the best pitcher on his team, let alone the division. Matt Cain will win a Cy Young before his career is over. Remember that. The bullpen might be an issue if Armando Benitez struggles, with no other pitchers who would fit the bill.
Rockies – The strength of the Rockies lies, as it always does, with the hitters. These guys are a young bunch, and could bring on some surprises in the division. I don’t think they will, however, with inexperience being their downfall. Garret Atkins and Matt Holliday can crush the ball, and it helps playing at Coors Field, but it won’t be enough to overcome the opposing teams’ crushing of the balls as well in the thin air. The pitching staff isn’t even close to the caliber of the rest of the division’s clubs, but still has enough talent to put up some wins. Brian Fuentes is an excellent closer, and he has some good talent surrounding him in the pen, namely Taylor Buchholz. But, they still have to wait to climb out of the cellar, cuz it won’t happen this year.