I sit here on Easter Sunday just two hours away from the start of the season and after a happy trip to Perth thinking about how much I’m looking forward to this season and how unpredictable baseball is. It was last year when the Giants and not the Dodgers won the World Series with a rotation as shaky as a bouncy castle and a line up which struggled to hit during the regular season but in October, heroes like Madison Bumgarner and Joe Panik emerged to take the Giants to the title. Well done to the Giants for last years win, you were well worth it.
This leads me onto the runners and riders in the NL West.
This team did a bit of a clear out in the winter and got rid of some major starting pitching. Out went Wade Miley and Tim Cahill and they also traded away Didi Gregorious. They did make one of the big free agent signings of the summer in Yosmany Tomas but he will start in AAA.
Essentially, they have no pitching, pen or rotation (apart from Archie Bradley and he has still to prove himself)
They have little to no hitting apart from Paul Goldschmidt and Mark Trumbo and they are struggling at catcher position with Tuffy Gosewich as primary catcher, backed up by Gerald Laird and Jordan Pancheco.
This team is a mess and i don’t see it improving short term, especially in a division with the Dodgers, Padres and Giants
Last place for the Snakes. They could be the 2nd worst team in baseball behind the Phillies. The hope for Snakes fans is seeing Tomas and Bradley this year. They could be hurting for a few years though.
The Rockies made few changes to their roster in the off-season, the lost Brett Anderson, Matt Belisle and Michael Cuddyer to Free Agency. They did bring in David Hale to strengthen the rotation but apart from the massive Tulowitzki rumours to the Mets, nothing happened for them. Essentially, you have a fantastic line up led by Tulowitzki, Blackmon, Dickerson and Morneau coupled with some average pitchers with Hale and Lyles the pick of their rotation.
If it wasn’t for their hitting, they would be another candidate for last place, but their power line up and their home field altitude advantage should see them outslug a few teams again this year.
4th place for the Rockies, unless they improve their pen and rotation, they are going nowhere.
Los Angeles Dodgers
A lot of people have them finishing top of the NL West. I don’t. They still fail in few areas for me. The first area is their pen. They have closer Kenley Jansson starting on the DL, could be for about 6 weeks, but behind him, there isn’t much else. Also, the rotation has the huge question of who will be the 5th starter with Ryu starting the season on the DL. Kershaw and Greinke are as good a 1-2 combo and any in the game but they don’t have much beyond that with Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson inserted as the 3 and 4.
Hitting wise, they have as good a lineup as anyone in the game, they brought in Howie Kendrik and Jimmy Rollins to shore up their infield and Yasmani Grandal to improve at the catching position.
I’m going to shock you all and say that the Dodgers will finish in 3rd place. Pitching and defence wins titles and the Dodgers are lacking in the pitching area, especially in the pen. Although they do have the best starter in the game in Kershaw.
San Diego Padres
Splash. The Padres made the biggest one of these in the off-season and in a quick few weeks solved all their hitting problems. They boast a new outfield with Justin Upton, Matt Kemp and Will Myers providing some offense and defence to that outfield. They have just added Melvin Upton Jnr to back them up in a mega trade with the Braves.
They have also strengthened their infield by bringing in Will Middlebrooks to man 3rd base and the power of Derek Norris at catcher.
Pitching wise, there was not a lot wrong with a rotation with Andrew Cashner and Tyler Ross, so the Padres nabbed James Shields to round it out. They have also brought in the premier closer in the game, Craig Kimbrel to close things out for them
The Padres are all in, but I think they are too right handed and will struggle because of this. I think they will finish 2nd and a possible Wild Card spot but watch out for them because they could win the division.
San Francisco Giants
The World Champs come into the season with pretty much the same roster as last season. They lost Sandoval to free agency and brought in Casey Mcgehee to replace him. They also strengthened in the outfield by bringing in Aoki to give them some speed and range. They are brilliant defensively and Aoki should provide some good defense and versatility to the club, especially with Pence starting the season on the DL.
Rotation wise, they have Cain returning from injury and Hudson and Peavy a year older. The positives that they have is that Bumgarner has established himself as one of the best in the game and Vogelsong and Lincecum can’t get much worse. If they can keep the rotation healthy, then they should do well, especially with one of the best pen’s in the league with Romo and Machi setting things up for Cassilla.
This team were World Champs for a reason. Defence and pitching. This hasn’t changed and with the Dodgers in disarray, the can take that one step further and win the division. I reckon the Giants will be 1st this year.
Thanks for reading my blog, I’m just going to watch some previews and then the Cards versus the Cubs.
Enjoy the season.