I love the NL West. It's like playing craps in Vegas. You know what a good roll is, you know what a bad roll is, but you never know what you're going to get.
And, since my domicile is in lovely San Diego, I get to watch an inordinate amount of NL West baseball. Which, these days, is an inordinate amount of bad baseball. Does this make me an expert on the division? In amongst the UCB world, well, yeah probably. In the entire world? Not even close.
So, with that in mind, here's how I think the division will shake out.
1. Arizona. Better overall pitching staff and better overall lineup. Stephen Drew, Chris Young, etc etc etc. Remember their 20-5 start last year, following by spending the rest of the season in the toilet? They've learned from that. Even with that craptacular non-April record, they were good enough to win last year until Manny went off in Aug/Sept. Manny won't hit like that for an entire season, which will give the D'Backs enough margin to eke out a division win.
And enjoy a first round exit at the hands of the Cubs.
2. Los Angeles. Let's face it, Manny's in the middle of the lineup. The most feared right handed hitter in baseball not named Albert. First ballot HOF. One of the top 10 sluggers of all time. Lost Derek Lowe, missed out on the Sabathia sweepstakes, but may get Jason Schmidt back, and again, have Manny. In this division, that should be enough.
3-4. Whatever. Seriously, there isn't much difference at this point between Colorado and San Francisco. San Fran should finish third if for no other reason than they have Tim Lineceum in their rotation, who is better than every pitcher in this division not named Peavy or Young. No one on Colorado can match that guy. Lineups are a wash. I'm not excited about either of these teams.
5. Ted Leitner's Padres. Because they certainly aren't 'My Padres' (one of his catch phrases). Big off-season free agent acquisition? David Eckstein. Wow. Adrian Gonzalez is really, REALLY good, and no one knows this. Peavy and Young are also really good. But overall this team can't hit, and can't hit in Petco. Brian Giles is the next best hitter on the team; he had 12 HR last season. Heath Bell is overrated at closer. They lost 99 games last season, I don't see them losing that many, but it will be high 80s.
2 hours ago