That's Why They Play The Games: '08 NL West

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Every Monday until opening day WoW will present our division previews and predictions.

The National League West is the polar opposite of the National League Central. The top four teams here are all competitive and deserve consideration for the division title. I wouldn't be surprised if those top four teams all finished with a winning record, just like I wouldn't be surprised to see five of six NL Central teams drown in Lake Michigan.

You've got some of the top pitchers in the majors here, with former Cy Young winners Jake Peavy, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, Brandon Webb, and Barry Zito all earning paychecks from NL West teams. Young arms like Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, and Dan Haren could each be future Cy Young winners.

There aren't many huge sluggers in this division. With Barry Bonds gone, the best hitters include Matt Holliday, Chris Young, and Adrian Gonzalez, not exactly household names...yet.

Perhaps the biggest new arrival in the NL West is Dodgers' manager Joe Torre. Although he won't have Derek 'Dreamboat' Jeter's bats to fondle anymore, he inherits one of the best pitching staffs in baseball to comfort him.

So let's get previewin'! Follow me after the jump:


5. San Francisco Giants

The Good:

The Bad:

  • With Barry Bonds' departure, Aaron Rowand is now the best offensive player on the team.
  • I repeat, Aaron Rowand is the best offensive player on the team.
  • Senior citizens like Dave Roberts, Omar Vizquel, and Ray Durham sit atop the lineup preventing youngsters like Brian Bocock, Kevin Frandsen and Nate Schierholtz from blossoming.

Predictions:

68 wins, zero splash hits, and no more Bruce Bochy moustache rides

4. San Diego Padres

The Good:

  • Jake Peavy is made of magic. Kid is 26 and coming off a season where he won the Cy Young and earned the rare pitching triple crown. Expect 20 wins and 250 strikeouts.
  • The rest of the pitching staff is good, and if anyone says otherwise, Greg Maddux will tinkle on you. Mark Prior may be your Comeback Player of the Year, or he may fall into a million tiny pieces.
  • They get 18 games against the Giants.

The Bad:

  • Lineup is full of mediocrity. Adrian Gonzalez, Khalil Greene, and Kevin Kouzmanoff are all quite serviceable infield bats, but no one on this team strikes fear in the heart of pitchers. I can't see anyone hitting 25+ home runs for this team.
  • Jim Edmonds is getting paid to wear a Padres uniform.
  • Trevor Hoffman is D-U-N done. He'll be cursing out CYO refs any day now.

Predictions: 72 wins, 800,000 fish tacos consumed, and zero meaningful coin tosses



3. Colorado Rockies

The Good:

  • They have nearly the exact same team that produced a National League championship last year. All they needed to replace was Kaz Matsui at second base; Jayson Nix and Clint Barmes are fighting for his old position.
  • Rookie lefthander Franklin Morales is good and might see action if Kip Wells gives up 2 home runs per inning. The rest of the rotation was above average last season and Jeff Francis is pretty damn good for a Canuck.
  • Little Baby Jesus is their batboy.
  • They get 18 games against the Giants.

The Bad:

  • Kip Wells is being paid to wear a Rockies uniform.
  • Pitching in that high elevation is hard, y'all! Even if Francis et al can keep the hits down, it's a very long season and I suspect the team will tire easily.
  • There's only one wild card team and it ain't gonna be the Rox.

Predictions: 85 wins, a handful of discarded sunflower seeds, and a whole lotta bullshit



2. Los Angeles Dodgers

The Good:

  • Quite a formidable starting rotation in quite a formidable pitchers' park. Newcomer Hiroki Kuroda joins Brad Penny, Derek Lowe, Chad Billingsley and Esteban Loaiza. They could all win 15 games.
  • A handful of young studs anchor the lineup, including catcher Russell Martin, first basegentleman James Loney, and possible third basegentleman Andy La Roche. To get the starting job, La Roche might need Nomar to get hurt and...whoops! Nomar's already hurt.
  • A bullpen that actually frightens me. Closer Takashi Saito, setup man Jonathan Broxton and yes, even noodle-armed Scott Proctor will go a long way to preserving leads.
  • They get 18 games against the Giants.

The Bad:

Predictions: 90 wins, one delicious wildcard berth, and a very merry Christmas in Chavez Ravine.



1. Arizona Diamondbacks

The Good:

  • Brandon Webb and Dan Haren make up the best one-two punch in the National League. The pitching staff and defense were quite good last year, so adding one of the AL's best arms should keep the rotation depth solid.
  • All the kids from last year who struggled so much have that extra year under their belts; Conor Jackson, Justin Upton, and Chris Young have nowhere to go but up.
  • Micah Owings goes both ways and he goes both ways well.
  • They get 18 games against the Giants.

The Bad:

Predictions: 91 wins, a division championship, and your eventual National League Champion.



Next week, CTC previews the AL East...ferreals this time!


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5 Comments

Jayson Nix and Clint Barmes are fighting for his old position.

So that's why Jayson Nix just bought a metric ton of venison.

one delicious wildcard berth

Andruw Jones plans on eating it.

Next week, CTC previews the AL East...ferreals this time!

Ah crap... I wore my "Peyton Manning Sucks" t-shirt to work for nothing.

Also, I agree that the NL West is a compelling division to watch, but my god do they play boring baseball. That NLCS series between Arizona and Colorado almost killed me. Who knew it was possible to win a playoffs game without getting a single freaking extra base hit?

"They get 18 games against the Giants."

I hate you.

Don't you say anything bad about my...my [sniffle]...Bacon Pants. [sob sob sob]

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