Baseball picksMarch 23, 2010

MLB Picks 2010 – NL WEST

NL WEST

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH:
1. SAN FRANCISCO
2. LOS ANGELES DODGERS
3. COLORADO
4. ARIZONA
5. SAN DIEGO

SAN FRANCISCO:
MANAGER: BRUCE BOCHY
LAST YEAR: 88-74
BIGGEST ADD: NONE
BIGGEST LOSS: RANDY WINN OF
TOP PROSPECT: MADISON BUMGARNER  LHP

OUTLOOK:
The Giants have two of the best pitchers in baseball at the top of their rotation with Cain and Lincecum. They will leave their mark by what the next three do – Zito, Sanchez and another promising rookie in Madison Bumgarner. Brian Wilson is a grade-A closer, and Pablo Sandoval is a blossoming super star. The problem is a lineup devoid of much else. The Giants will go as far as their pitching can take them, which last year got them to 88 wins, and 90+ is not out of the question this season. I look for the Giants to make the playoffs, and be a surprise.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS
MANAGER: JOE TORRE
LAST YEAR: 95-67
BIGGEST ADD: NONE
BIGGEST LOSS: RANDY WOLF  LHP
TOP PROSPECT: JOSH LINDBLOM   RHP

OUTLOOK:
Manny Ramirez was not the same player after his suspension as his bat speed slowed significantly and his confidence declined. It remains to be seen if he can be the same player, many scouts feel he can’t, and that will really hurt the Dodgers. Matt Kemp, on a brighter note, is emerging as a top player and should continue to improve. The Dodgers are above average offensively with Manny being Manny, and average if not. The Dodgers’ pitching will keep them in the win column which had a 3.58 combined ERA from starters, and 3.14 from the pen – both well above average. If you can pitch you can win, so expect the Dodgers to contend again.

COLORADO
MANAGER: JIM TRACY
BEST ADD: MIGUEL OLIVO
BIGGEST LOSS: JASON MARQUIS RHP
TOP PROSPECT: ESMIL ROGERS RHP

OUTLOOK:
The Rockies really recovered from a poor ’08, winning 92 games. Ubaldo Jimenez has begun to locate his slider in the strike-zone, and that just makes his plus fastball more unhittable as he is becoming a bonafide No. 1 starter. Aaron Cook has put together back-to-back good seasons, and is becoming a reliable No. 2 starter. The question marks start after that. The Rockies will hit, that is a given, it is a question of what they will give back. Houston Street gives them a reliable closer in an otherwise mediocre pen. This team can contend again, but has little margin for error.

ARIZONA
MANAGER: A.J. HINCH
LAST YEAR: 70-92
BIGGEST ADD: EDWIN JACKSON RHP
BIGGEST LOSS: MAX SCHERZER
TOP PROSPECT: LEYSON SEPTIMO RHP

OUTLOOK:
Last season was one of hope for the D-Backs, that all ended abruptly when Brandon Webb went down for the year. He will once again be the key for this season as when he is healthy, he has no peers on the mound in the game. Dan Haren is also a top flight No. 2 starter, and if Edwin Jackson keeps his head on right he is a more than capable No. 3 starter. The Diamnodbacks peaked at 90 wins  in ’07, declined to 82 in ’08, and down to 70 last year. The bullpen’s success or failure will be hinged upon the advancement of Juam Guitierrez. The lineup is ordinary, so a lot of question marks and this team has a steep range of what could happen. They could contend if all goes well, or repeat the 70 wins of a year ago if it doesn’t.

SAN DIEGO:
MANAGER: BUD BLACK
LAST YEAR: 75-87
BIGGEST ADD: NONE
BIGGEST LOSS: BRIAN GILES
TOP PROSPECT: CORY LUEBKE LHP

OUTLOOK:
The trade of Jake Peavy last season was the last step in the demise of the Padres, who cut $20 million more in payroll last year. Despite the lack of star quality and being outscored by over 130 runs last year, they somehow managed to do ok. The pitching has Curt Young as a No. 1 starter, who would likely be a No. 3 in most other places, so not much there. The bullpen can hold their own, and they will get a lot of chances. The lineup has no power, and a lot of gap hitters. They will likely lose more than 87 this year.