NL West Predictions 2009

Cy Young 2009.

Arizona Diamondbacks (89-73)
I had them down as the team to beat last season, but they did the “We came out of nowhere last year, and therefore, we have to take our step back this season” thing, which really pisses me off. Not really. Anyway, the 1-2 punch of Webb and Haren is still as good as any in the division, but the rest of the rotation is a bit of a mystery. Garland should be better but not spectacular, Doug Davis is about the same, and Scherzer could be great but could also have his troubles (I like the former). In the bullpen, they lost a big piece in Cruz, so they need Tony Peña, Rauch, and Qualls to step it up in order to take some pressure off the rotation. They are good arms. Offensively, they could really take a step forward. Jackson finally showed some potential, Upton had his moments, and Drew was pretty amazing last season. Add in some contributions from Reynolds, Young, Tracy, and Snyder/Montero, and it could be a big step forward.

Los Angeles Dodgers (87-75)
Offensively, this team looks like a juggernaut once they added Manny, but this also means that Kemp needs to come through and not just talk about his 40-40 season. It would also help if Furcal, Hudson, and Blake stayed healthy and decently productive. All in all, this could be a really good offense, but those kids (Ethier, Martin, Kemp, and Loney) need to step up. In the rotation, the team took a hit. No more Lowe or Penny, but they didn’t get much from Penny anyway last season. Now, Billingsley and Kershaw have to step up and help Kuroda because god knows that you can’t count on Wolf. If all three come through (which isn’t hard to fathom), this team could make a serious run at 95 wins. The bullpen, however, took more of a hit. No more Saito and no more Beimel, which thins out what was a very productive bullpen last season. The addition of Ohman helps, but this means Broxton (who I have complete faith in) must shoulder the load as closer and Kuo and Wade must continue last season’s success (less faith here). If the rotation falters, the bullpen might break.

San Francisco Giants (79-83)
A decent team, the Giants still can’t catch a break in my book. The rotation is one of the best, if not the best, in the NL with Lincecum, Johnson, Cain, and Sanchez. However, even though Johnson came out firing, I wonder if he’ll last. Even though I like Sanchez, can he be durable enough to get deep into August and September? If the answer is no, this team can’t eclipse .500, but if they do, they could theoretically make a run. As for the bullpen, I don’t like it. Wilson wasn’t good but somehow managed to get saves. Affeldt is good, but it takes more than one reliever. And the rest is suspect. Offensively, you can rate them as poor to obscenely poor. Having Molina, though a good offensive catcher, hit fourth is not a good thing. Sandoval could be a boon, but he can’t do it himself.

Colorado Rockies (70-90)
Forgive me if I don’t see the magic. This team isn’t good. The rotation has a decent starter in Cook, who is underrated but still not great, an up-and-comer in Jimenez, and some filler. I don’t trust Marquis, De la Rosa, Morales, or Smith (sidenote- why trade your best player for two fly-ball pitchers?). The bullpen actually looks decent, and having Street and Corpas in the last two slots is nice. The thing is — how many leads will they be protecting? Because the offense isn’t a lot better. Tulowitzki should have a big bounce-back year, and if he doesn’t, he’s relegated to Khalil Greene. Atkins, Hawpe, and Helton are pretty good, but none of them are worth writing home about. Ianetta could be helpful, but can he repeat his power production? Lots of questions and not so good looking answers. This could be long season. Grab a Coors. On second thought, don’t.

San Diego Padres (60-102)
Is there a more pathetic team in baseball? They have two amazing cornerstones in Peavy and Gonzalez (who really should get more publicity and respect, and I imagine when the Angels pony up for him come July, he will), but there is absolutely nothing else. Okay, Giles is pretty good and Headley and Kouzmanoff aren’t terrible, but they won’t make a good or probably even respectable offense. Pitching-wise, it’s Peavy and pray for rain. Young, understandably, hasn’t been the same since Pujols rocketed one off his face, and the rest are filler on AAA teams. Heath Bell is good for the ninth, but he’s not elite. And the rest of the bullpen is eck. It’s good thing they play in San Diego and in Petco Park because there isn’t much else to look forward to.

The NL West is pretty top-heavy with two very good clubs in Arizona and LA. San Francisco could join the party, but I don’t see it. They probably should trade one of their pitching prospects for a big bat. Coming in last, the Rockies and Padres look pretty awful, but at least Colorado will have its moments. The Padres … yikes.

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