Tuesday, March 24, 2009

First to Third: Divisional Previews - NL West

With the U.S. out of the World Baseball Classic, it's time to get excited for the start of the 2009 season! Over the next two weeks, First to Third will breakdown every division to get you ready for Opening Day.

Tuesday, March 24: National League West (can be found here)
Thursday, March 26: National League Central (can be found here)
Saturday, March 28: National League East
Tuesday, March 31: American League West
Thursday, April 2: American League Central
Saturday, April 4: American League East
Monday, April 6: Opening Day Preview and Playoff Prediction Special

National League West

Fresh Meat: San Francisco is becoming a town where baseball milestones are surpassed and the Giants are hoping newly acquired pitcher Randy Johnson leads them toward the playoffs. Johnson is a mere five wins away from career win #300 and may be the last pitcher to eclipse the milestone for some time.

Dearly Deported: In the off-season, the Rockies dealt slugger Matt Holliday to Oakland, effectively sending the division's best hitter not named Ramirez out of the National League. The Rockies will miss his bat, but the pitchers in the division are breathing a sign of relief this spring.
How They'll Finish:
  1. Dodgers - This race is going to be wide open as no one team will run away with the division title. Despite iffy rotation depth, the Dodger offense should score enough runs to take the NL West crown even if LA has to back into the playoffs. Maybe that Manny guy will have something to do with it...
  2. Diamondbacks - Arizona will compete with the Giants for the best starting rotation on paper, but will hold off San Francisco for second place because of a better offense (although not by much) anchored by their outfield of Justin Upton, Chris Young, Conor Jackson. Remember the name Max Scherzer.
  3. Giants - If a team ever has to rely on Barry Zito for wins, it's in trouble. The rotation is very good aside from the troubled southpaw as long as The Unit stays healthy, but if their cleanup hitter is Bengie Molina again, there is no way the Giant offense will take the team to the playoffs.
  4. Rockies - 2007 seems so long ago for the Rockies as they will struggle to be middle of the pack in the weakest division in baseball. Without Holliday, Garrett Atkins and Brad Hawpe will have to carry the offense. It would be nice if that Tulowitzki guy returned to form, too.
  5. Padres - It's going to be a rough year for Ron Burgundy, who will have bad news to read off the teleprompter all year. I can't imagine the Padres will win more than 70 games and maybe 70 will be a stretch. Jake Peavy, the lone bright spot on a terrible team, will either get dealt before the trade deadline in July or this will be his farewell tour as it's time to rebuild.

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