Sunday, May 15, 2016

Season 34 NL West Preview

San Diego Padres
Season 33:  70-92
GM:  cwaldenj

Offseason: The Pads said "sayonara" to Melvin Charleston and Paulie Pendleton - 2 of the mainstays of their run of West titles in the 20's - along with a bunch of other FA's.  They signed 12 free agents - 1B Vin Almonte and SP Louis Thomas probably foremost among them - as cwaldenj begins remaking the team in earnest.  They also picked up a pitcher and a prospect for 3B Hal Hernandez and SP Paxton Buhner.  

Outlook:  For the team's prospects this year, we turn it over to GM cwaldenj:  "All the new faces in SD have created enthusiasm and many questions.  The dark horse in the division signed a dozen veteran FAs which should comprise a majority of innings thrown and plate appearances in S34. The lineup and bench look to be deeper, but it will be seen if the SP can efficiently get outs and if the lineup can score enough to exceed last years win total. A preseason trade and many one-year contracts have left the franchise with a deeper farm system and a more flexible financial position over the next few seasons.

Colorado Rockies
Season 33:  95-67, Lost to Pittsburgh in Round 1
GM: grapeape

Offseason:   The Rocks were spared many free-agency casualties, losing primary 2B Bart Sanders and OF Carlos Terrero.  They pretty much skipped free agency, bringing up Season 29 2nd-rounder Dick Hickman for 2B.  Watch Season 30's #22 pick Amos Gregorio -  he looked very good in 66 innings last year and could move into the #1 starter role sometime this season.

Outlook:  The Rocks got to the WS in Season 30, but haven't made any playoff noise since despite 2 more division titles.  It's essentially the same squad as last year, with Gregorio on board for a full season.  With the top 7 NL teams all between 92 and 103 wins last year, Colorado has a good a chance as anyone to go all the way if they make the tournament. They likely will, but need to keep an eye on the Giants.

San Francisco Giants
Season 33:  86-76
GM:  basilleaf2

Offseason: Kiki Mijares (3B, 27 HR's and 94 RBI) was a pretty big free-agent loss.  It's not yet clear who will replace him at third, as their gaggle of talented 2B's are all...2B's.  They did shore up the short relief corps with Fritz Miles and Rabbit Martin, and reinforced the OF with Jesus Nunez and Melvin Charleston.  They also have the dividends from last year's Camacho trade at AAA - COF Doug Lindor and CF Yamil Pino - although Lindoor could use one more year of seasoning. Pino is ready now and CF Ismael Prado has 2 years on his contract...Prado for a 3B, anyone?

Outlook:  This was the team closest to cracking the "Big 7" last year, and they challenged the Rockies for most of the year.  I still think 2B Paco Sandoval could win an MVP, and if he and LF Julio Nunez ever put together big years in the same season, the Giants could do something special.  I think they need a couple of moves to challenge, though...find that 3B, and find a way to get an ace to replace Maicer Camacho.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Season 32:  67-95
GM: chisox378

Offseason:  LA had to replace a fair chunk of their pitching staff plus 3 hitters who mattered, so we're looking at a pretty complete roster makeover.  From free agency, Jarred Campana joins the 1B/OF committee, Eury Benitez becomes the backup C, and Juan Cordero comes home to play 3B after a 3-year hiatus in Pittsburgh.  The big move though, was a max deal for Otto Little, so now the Dodgers have a staff ace.  The farm system is contributing as well: Neftali Padilla (Season 29 #36) gets the starting catcher nod, Ali Alvarez (Season 30 #67) wins the RF job, and Eswalin Solano (Season 30 #34) and Vin Owen (Season 31 #37) make the bullpen.

Outlook:  LA's pitching was 15th in team ERA last year; it can only improve with Little in the #1 spot.  The offense wasn't bad last year (667 runs - 7th), and with Campana and Cordero they should be able to produce about as well this year.  The Dodgers committed 132 errors and made 95 bad plays last year - both tops in the NL.  They haven't made any moves to improve their defense and will have to before they threaten anyone.

Division Outlook:  
Colorado again, with the Giants 5-10 games back again.

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