2013 MLB Predictions: NL West
In earlier segments in my 2013 Major League Baseball preview, I looked at the American League East, the National League East, the American League Central, the National League Central, and the American League West divisions.
In this segment, my final one, I preview the National League West.
1)---SAN FRANCISCO---I wanted so bad to pick against the Giants, if for no other reason than they have won two World Series titles in the last three years, and it's going to be difficult to play up to that level of excellence once again. But I just can't do it. San Francisco is solid, everywhere, and if Tim Lincecum regains his form of previous years, and if Hunter Pence gives the kind of production that he's capable of, they can be every bit as good as the 94-win team from 2012, and maybe better.
The line-up won't completely beat you up, but with Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey, and Pence, they'll produce enough runs.
The pitching is elite, with Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, and Lincecum leading the way, not to mention a filthy bullpen, headlined by closer Sergio Romo.
Resigning Marco Scutaro was big as well. He fits in really well with this team, and his versatility is a big positive for them.
It's going to be a great race in the NL West between the Giants and Dodgers, but I'm going with the defending champs to win 95 games, and repeat.
2)---LOS ANGELES DODGERS---Special thanks to the Dodgers for helping out with the U.S. economy over the past couple of years. They've spent a lot of money. A LOT of money.
Last year, during the season, they acquired Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford from the Red Sox. They then continued to spend during the offseason, signing who will be their #2 pitcher, Zack Greinke, to a monumental deal.
The line-up will be very good, when Carl Crawford and Hanley Ramirez return, and it won't be bad without them, as Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez can rake with anybody.
The rotation is lethal, with Clayton Kershaw, Greinke, Josh Beckett, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Chad Billingsley making up a fab five.
I just hesitate picking a team to win a division that hasn't had a number of its core players together for a long period of time. I think the Dodgers will be good...good enough to win 92 games, and make the playoffs. I just have the Giants slightly ahead of them at this point.
3)---ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS---Last year, everybody was picking the Rangers and Angels to fight it out for the AL West crown. Nobody was paying attention to the A's, yet they were the ones who wound up winning the division.
Teams need to be wary of Arizona, or they'll turn out to be this year's edition of the A's.
The Diamondbacks have some power. Aaron Hill, Miguel Montero, Paul Goldschmidt, and Jason Kubel will hit some long balls. Martin Prado will add a little bit of everything. But they'll miss Justin Upton's presence.
Ian Kennedy and Trevor Cahill lead a nice rotation, who turn things over to a good bullpen.
Arizona won 81 games last year, finishing at .500.
I think they made some moves to acquire guys, like Parra, that they believe will fit in well with their club, and it may pay off.
I like the Diamondbacks enough this year to have them improving to 82-85 wins, but the Giants and Dodgers are just too talented.
4)---SAN DIEGO PADRES---San Diego is moving in the fences at Petco Park this year, and I'm not sure that's such a good idea, with the Fathers lacking quality starting pitching.
Expect Chase Headley, Yonder Alonso, and Carlos Quinten to provide a little offense, especially with the fences being moved in, but they really do lack a stick in the middle of that order.
They can run, as Everth Cabrera, Will Venable, and Cameron Maybin will all steal some bags.
Pitching is a question mark. Edinson Volquez and Clayton Richard need to be really good if the Padres are to surprise, and that's just asking a little too much.
San Diego won 76 games last year, but I see them regressing a couple of games this year, with two powerhouses, in the Giants and Dodgers, and a solid club, in the Diamondbacks, in the same division.
72 wins sounds about right.
5)---COLORADO ROCKIES---What a nightmare year it was for Colorado in 2012. Troy Tulowitzki got injured, they got zero pitching, and finished with only 64 wins.
Offensively, the Rockies have some sticks. Expect big years from Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, and Michael Cuddyer. That's not much of a problem.
The problem lies in the pitching department, where Colorado was just horrific last year, with a 5.22 team .ERA.
The Rockies even experimented with limiting their four starters to 75 pitches, and then pitching them on three days rest.
That actually worked better than the traditional way, but they're not trying it this year, at least not from the start.
The Rockies won't have good pitching. It's as simple as that. All they can hope for is healthy seasons from Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa, Drew Pomeranz and Jeff Francis, and then just hope for the best.
The pitching on this team is just too bad for me to pick them ahead of anybody in this division.
I say Colorado scores enough runs to win 67 games.