There’s no creature more despicable than a Los Angeles Dodger. Far be it of me to give them more credit than what is due, but they’ve lambasted the Giants for the last few seasons running a season tab of 11 wins to seven losses in 2009. Not fun for the black and orange faithful and not fun for this displaced San Franciscan.
While holding this slight edge over the Giants, the Dodgers manhandled the Colorado Rockies as well (13-4) and we’ll just dismiss the lowly San Diego Padres and once dangerous Arizona Diamondbacks. We’re writing them off for reasons of vanity, I’m sure. In my mind, it really is a three-way race in the NL West.
The importance of winning division games cannot be understated. As I stated yesterday, one of the leading theories on winning championships is building teams to make the playoffs — not necessarilly the World Series — year in and year out. That starts with building teams that can win your division. At 17 to 19 games apiece against each of the teams below, the G-men need to prove that their kings of the West before they can even think of the NLDS, where St. Louis and and Philadelphia will be lurking.
Extracts taken from the Miami Herald and the Sports Network’s baseball previews. Links are below each item.
Los Angeles Dodgers — (95-67 last season, 1st, Division Winner)
“The bulk of the load will be vested upon the broad shoulders of sluggers Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and James Loney, while young hurlers Clayton Kershaw, Hiroki Kuroda and Chad Billingsley will solidify a somewhat questionable rotation that will send Vicente Padilla to the mound on Opening Day. There are many alleys Torre can wander down in his journey for a qualified fifth starter, with prospects such as Eric Stults, Charlie Haeger, Josh Lindblom, Russ Ortiz or James McDonald.”
KEY ADDITIONS: RHP Josh Towers, INF Jamey Carroll, RHP Justin Miller, INF Nick Green, OF Reed Johnson, UT Alfredo Meagan, OF Brian Giles, RHP Eric Gagne.
KEY SUBTRACTIONS: LHP Randy Wolf, INF Juan Castro, OF Juan Pierre, INF Mark Loretta, 1B Jim Home, RHP Jon Garland, RHP Guillermo Mota, 2B Orlando Hudson, LHP Eric Milton, RHP Jason Schmidt.
PROJECTED LINEUP: SS Rafael Furcal, CF Matt Kemp, RF Andre Ethier, LF Manny Ramirez, 1B James Loney, 3B Casey Blake, 2B Ronnie Belliard, C Russell Martin
Read more on the Dodgers here.
Colorado Rockies — (92-70, 2nd, Wild Card Winner)
“With a solid core of infielders led by shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and a rotation featuring some of the best in the NL in Ubaldo Jimenez, Jeff Francis and Aaron Cook, the Rockies have a strong chance at winning the wild card if heavily-favored Los Angeles takes home another division crown.”
KEY ADDITIONS: 3B Melvin Mora, C Miguel Olivo, RHP Tim Redding, C Paul Lo Duca, OF Jay Payton
KEY SUBTRACTIONS: 3B Garrett Atkins, RHP Jason Marquis, OF Matt Murton, INF Mike McCoy, RHP Jose Contreras, C Yorvit Torrealba, RHP Joel Peralta, RHP Ryan Speier, RHP Matt Herges, RHP Josh Fogg, LHP Joe Beimel, LHP Alan Embree
PROJECTED LINEUP: LF Carlos Gonzalez, CF Dexter Fowler, 1B Todd Helton, SS Troy Tulowitzki, RF Brad Hawpe, C Chris Iannetta, 3B Ian Stewart, 2B Clint Barmes
Read more on the Rockies here.
San Diego Padres — (75-87, 4th)
“The core of the team is still pretty much intact minus ace Jake Peavy, who was dealt to the Chicago White Sox along with his lucrative contract last July. Perhaps the biggest addition to the team was pitcher Jon Garland.”
KEY ADDITIONS: OF Scott Hairston, OF Aaron Cunningham, RHP Jon Garland, C Yorvit Torrealba, INF/OF Jerry Hairston Jr., OF Matt Stairs, C Dusty Ryan, RHP Radhames Liz
KEY SUBTRACTIONS: 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff, OF Brian Giles, C Henry Blanco, C Eliezer Alfonzo, INF Edgar Gonzalez, INF Luis Rodriguez, RHP Shawn Hill, RHP Mike Ekstrom, OF Cliff Floyd, RHP Walter Silva, RHP Cha Seung Baek
PROJECTED LINEUP: CF Tony Gwynn, 2B David Eckstein, 1B Adrian Gonzalez, 3B Chase Headley, LF Kyle Blanks, RF Will Venable, C Nick Hundley/Yorvit Torrealba, SS Everth Cabrera
Read more on the Padres here.
Arizona Diamondbacks — (70-92, 5th)
“Besides last year’s ace Dan Haren and newcomer Edwin Jackson, the rest of the Arizona rotation remains in limbo. With starters Max Scherzer and Doug Davis with other clubs, manager A.J. Hinch has a few decisions to make as to who will fill out the rest of the starting staff.”
KEY ADDITIONS: RHP Edwin Jackson, RHP Ian Kennedy, 2B Tony Abreu, RHP Aaron Heilman, RHP Bobby Howry, 2B Kelly Johnson, 1B Adam LaRoche
KEY SUBTRACTIONS: RHP Max Scherzer, LHP Daniel Schlereth, 1B Josh Whitesell, LHP Doug Davis, 3B/1B Chad Tracy, OF Eric Byrnes.
PROJECTED LINEUP: SS Stephen Drew, LF Conor Jackson, RF Justin Upton, 1B Adam LaRoche, 3B Mark Reynolds, C Miguel Montero, CF Chris Young, 2B Kelly Johnson.
Read more on the Diamondbacks here.