Tuesday, March 31, 2009
First off we get the NL West, home to two of the worst offenses in baseball, possibly ever.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers come back as defending division winner. Their lineup shall be improved with the addition of the O-Dog and potentially the further development of their young stars like Kemp, Ethier, Loney and DeWitt. Their questionmarks however lie strictly on their starting rotation. The loss of Derek Lowe's consistency must be replaced somewhere. Will it be Randy Wolf? An improved Clayton Kershaw? They'll need someone to step up to maintain their Western dominance.
Key Player: Manny Ramirez, The Dodgers spent the entire offseason concentrating on bringing back Manny Ramirez. Without him their lineup lacks the main cog, with him they'll be full speed ahead. You probably can't expect him to hit 4000 like he did last year in Dodger blue, but the typical Manny .310 35 120 is absolutely essential to the Dodgers success.
Player to Eye: Clayton Kershaw, While people were frothing from the mouth for David Price this offsense, Kershaw clearly was the better option. In 107 innings last season he had 100 Ks and a 4.26 ERA as a 20 year old. This year he will be thrust into the rotation full time and the numbers could be lights out.
Record Prediction: 90-72
2. Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks went through a mini collapse last season to get surpassed by the Dodgers. This year they bring back a squad with the best 1 2 punch in the NL and a whole lot of youngsters in the lineup with one extra year of experience.
Key Player: Max Scherzer, Having 2 great pitchers is wonderful, but they're only going to pitch 40% of the time. The Diamondbacks need that third cog and Scherzer is best candidate to become that man. He has the stuff to sit players on their ass on a consistent basis, he just needs to command the strike zone a little better and most importantly he needs to stay healthy.
Player to Eye: Felipe Lopez, A few seasons ago Felipe Lopez was a keeper player in my fantasy league (mine in fact), then he got traded to the Nationals and his production got shot in the foot. Last season he quitely, and I mean really quietly, batted .383 in 43 games for the Cardinals. In other words, he was a monster for them down the stretch. If the shitty Felipe Lopez was just a Washington casualty, and the real Felipe Lopez .290 hitter with double digit power and speed, than the Dbacks will be pumped they let the O-Dog go and brought in Lopez.
Record Prediction: 85-77
t3. Colorado Rockies
The Rockies made the World Series just two seasons ago, that seems like light years ago to me. They no longer have their best player, and what they got for him in Smith and Street have not stepped up this spring. Smith is going to miss out on a spot in the rotation and Street might just wind up being the set up man. So much for his promise.
Key Player: Ubaldo Jimenez & Franklin Morales, I'm going with the same two pitchers I went with last year as the Rockies key players. These are their two best arms. With Jeff Francis on the shelf for the eyar, they're going to need someone to step up in the rotation. Jimenez took a massive step forward in 2008, but still has further room to improve in 09. Morales on the other hand was miserable in 08, and really needs to step up in 09 if the Rockies are going to contend.
Player to Eye: Ian Stewart, Come on Colorado find this kid a spot in the lineup already. He's got mid 20 home run power but you can't find him a spot in the lineup on a day to day basis. You're playing Seth Smith as the starting left fielder? If Ryan Braun can make the transition to left field, Stewart can.
Record Prediction: 79-83
t3. San Francisco Giants
Great pitching, poop lineup. That was the Giants in 08 that is the Giants in 09. But fear not San Fran, you
ridiculously overpaid for have Edgar Renteria now. Last year I underestimated both their hitting and pitching, this year they are mildly improved, but not enough to win in the mid 80s.
Key Player: Aaron Rowand, We'll go with Aaron Rowand again as their key player because, well, someone needs to step up and hit some homers. Rowand is probably the most likely to do so, but when Rowand is your #1 option that's not a good thing.
Player to Eye: Jonathan Sanchez, He's a K machine in the #5 starters role, but the ERA was certainly not terrific. If you get quality starts from your #5 guy than you are going to put yourself in position for a September run. Sanchez has the skill and potential to turn it around. Will he?
Record Prediction: 79-83
5. San Diego Padres
You want shitty lineups, you'll love the Padres. They just might be worse than the Giants lineup. It's Adrian Gonzalez and then slop. David Eckstein, post steroids Brian Giles, the Kouz, Jody Gerut, non-descript catcher and shortstop... Ugh. They already play in a pitcher's park, throw in their shitty lineups and pitchers are gonna love throwin in Petco.
Key Player: Chris Young, Chris Young got injured last year and down went the Padres rotation. It's not really his fault took a bullet line drive off his face but still, without him the Padres rotation is a 1 man show.
Player to Eye: Heath Bell, How many games the Padres going to blow out someone? 3? Maybe 2? Last year Brian Wilson chalked up save after save for the Giants because they couldn't score runs so any lead was just a run or so. Same thing goes for Heath Bell in 09.
Record Prediction: 69-93
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