We’re previewing each division as Opening Day is right around the corner. Spring Training is in full swing right now, and it’s only a few weeks from Major League Baseball getting underway. Here’s your chance to learn more about each team. We’re down to our final division. Let’s take a closer look at the NL West.
2013 National League West Odds & Predictions (Odds from BetOnline)
Los Angeles Dodgers
Odds to Win NL West: -150
Things are looking up for the big spending Dodgers. Last year they had Frank McCourt as an owner, and now they have an ownership group that is putting up the big bucks. Los Angeles’ payroll is well over $200 million this season. Zack Greinke was brought in to be second starter behind Ace Clayton Kershaw. Hyun-Jin Ru has some nice upside as the team’s number five starter. Also, Josh Beckett turned things around after coming here last year, and he could be better than most expect.
The lineup is absolutely stacked from number one through number five. Hanley Ramirez is capable of putting up MVP type numbers when he is motivated, and he should be motivated playing for a winner this year. Carl Crawford’s health is a concern, and Matt Kemp definitely needs to stay healthy more than he did last season. Can A.J. Ellis keep up his amazing 2012 production? If he goes, this lineup will be really dangerous.
Team Strengths: Star Power, Deep Starting Rotation, Good bullpen
Team Weaknesses: Injury concerns, Lack of Depth in Outfield
San Francisco Giants
Odds to Win NL West: +200
The Giants won the World Series last year, but most experts think their hated rivals in LA passed them up in the offseason. Still, this is a team everyone should watch closely in 2013. A team with two World Series victories in the past three years should definitely get plenty of respect. San Francisco certainly doesn’t have the lineup that the Dodgers have, but they do have an amazing pitching staff.
Tim Lincecum is likely to pitch better than he did last year, and Matt Cain has been one of most consistent pitchers in the big leagues over the past few years. Madison Bumgarner is going to be one of the best pitchers in the majors in the next few years. The bullpen is arguably the best in baseball, and I really like Romo as their closer. Buster Posey is a star in the middle of the lineup, but Pablo Sandoval has to stay healthy this season.
Team Strengths: Pitching Depth, Great Bullpen, Good Defense
Team Weaknesses: Questionable Lineup, Lack of Power around Posey
Odds to Win NL West: +700
The Diamondbacks won the division by putting up 94 wins two years ago, but they went just 81-81 last season. New GM Josh Byrnes has been busy overhauling the roster in the offseason. The problem for the Diamondbacks is I’m not sure he made the team better. There’s no doubt that this team has a very talented starting rotation, but their offense is questionable at best. Without Justin Upton or Chris Young, the Diamondbacks really lack a good power hitter.
Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill, and Wade Miley are underrated as number one through three starters. They should keep the team in a lot of games. Patrick Corbin and Tyler Skaggs are future stars in the rotation as well. There is a lot of pressure on Jason Kubel and Paul Goldschmit to put up big numbers without Upton in town.
Team Strengths: Starting Rotation, Good Utility Players
Team Weaknesses: Lack of Power Hitter, Weak overall lineup
San Diego Padres
Odds to Win NL West: +1,700
The San Diego Padres exceeded expectations by quite a bit by winning 76 games last year. The youngsters on this team grew up nicely, and the Padres were highly competitive down the stretch. San Diego lost a major piece when Yasmani Grandal was suspended for 50 games in the offseason. Nick Hundley will start while he is out. Yonder Alonso was a very highly touted prospect in the Reds organization, and this could be the year he has a huge breakout season. Carlos Quentin just quietly puts up very productive seasons.
The rotation isn’t nearly as strong as it used to be in San Diego. Edinson Volquez has great stuff, but his command isn’t always there. Clayton Richard is a decent number two. After that, the Padres have major question marks with Jason Marquis, Eric Stults, and Andrew Cashner as their third through fifth starters. The bullpen is still solid for the Padres. Keep an eye on games played at PetCo, since the Padres moved the fences in several feet in the offseason.
Team Strengths: Young talent, Good Bullpen
Team Weaknesses: Poor Starting Rotation, Lack of True Power Hitter
Odds to Win NL West: +2,000
The Colorado Rockies were in the World Series in 2008. This team’s fortunes have fallen a long ways since that season. Troy Tulowitzki is still a super star for the team, but he played in just 47 games last year. The pitching rotation was so weak last year that the team employed a “piggybacking” method where starters only threw 75 pitches and the bullpen had to pitch the rest of the game. That’s never a good sign for the well-being of a team.
Carlos Gonzalez and Tulowitzki appear to be ready for a big offensive season, but they’ll need help around them. Tyler Colvin has the potential to be a star at first base. The starting rotation is still a major question mark. Drew Pomeranz has the highest upside of anyone in the rotation. Last year’s rotation had a miserable 5.81 ERA. This year’s group probably won’t be much better.
Team Strengths: Power Hitters, Great Middle of the Order
Team Weaknesses: Horrible Starting Rotation, Lack of Depth
Predicted Order of Finish-
1. San Francisco Giants- At +200, too much value to pass up the Giants. The depth of this pitching staff from top to bottom is amazing. This team knows how to win.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers- We’ve seen huge buying sprees not pay off in the past. The Dodgers will be good, but maybe not quite as good as some think.
3. San Diego Padres- The Padres have a nice young nucleus, and they might surprise a few people.
4. Arizona Diamondbacks- I don’t like the moves they made in the offseason.
5. Colorado Rockies- The Rockies pitching staff will hold them back in a big way.