Hey remember THESE? One of our first acts as co-mayors of WoWville were our laughably offbase division predictions. While the guesses were bad there are still some good jokes in there. I urge you to check them out. In any case, it's a new year and we've got a brand new inscrutable crystal ball. I'm gonna kick things off with the NL West. After this we'll review a division with real teams in it.
5. Colorado Rockies
- Troy Tulowitzki says he's healthy and ready to be a leader. He, Garret Atkins, Brad Hawpe and an aged Todd Helton can all produce runs.
- Chris Iannetta gets a full season behind the dish. He went off yesterday in the WBC and hit 18 tots last year.
The Holiday trade brought little back to the table for the Rockies, something they can't be happy about when dealing with the A's. The rotation has guys like Ubaldo Jimenez, Jason Marquis and the truly mediocre Greg Smith locking up spots in it. For a team that went 77-84 last year and lost their best hitter and starter, it's impossible to see how they'll score nearly as many runs as they'll give up.
Prediction: 67-95 record; This year's "Exotic Game Clint Barmes Injury" will involve cobra meat; Manny Corpas changes his first name to Habeus.
4. San Diego Padres
- They still have Jake Peavy!
- Adrian Gonzalez has put up All-Star numbers in 3 consecutive seasons now, and barring injury is still in his prime at 27.
- Chris Young starts the year healthy, and has shown he can be a 1a starter if he stays that way.
- Their offseason additions include Emil Brown, Cliff Floyd, Henry Blanco, and David Eckstein. It's not like they paid any of them a ton of money but even as value moves their ceiling is pretty low.
Any Padres improvement this year relies on a pretty simple formula. Getting better and healthier seasons from their players then they did last year. No radical remake here. Keeping Brian Giles out of the pokey would also help. Well, the team. Not that lady he pounds on.
Predictions: 74-88 record; Club gets into a legal battle over name with Chicano Priest Association and has to change their name to the San Diego Rectories; "Bud Black's Big Butt Bonanza," a hidden camera voyeur film, debuts between innings at a home game in May. Fans initially horrified, eventually aroused.
3. San Francisco Giants:
- The Giants are putting together one of my favorite rotations in the league. Defending Cy Young winner Timmy! and face of the franchise Matt Cain create a formidable 1-2. Noah Lowry, when healthy is a solid pitcher, though he's not healthy at the moment. But the guy I'm really interested in is Jonathan Sanchez. He struck out 157 guys in 158 innings last year in his first full season. I think he'll be even better this year.
- Oh yeah and they got Randy Johnson, who's 2008 was his best year since his original stint in Arizona.
- The bullpen is also decent. Friend of Rinku Dinesh, Brian Wilson, had 41 saves but wasn't exactly dominating. If he can keep more guys off the basepaths in the 9th he'll be nearly untouchable and set up guys Sergio Romo and Jeremy Affeldt are solid.
- Edgar Renteria joins the team. Dude has been in the league for about 13 years and lost more than a step, but this is one lineup that actually improves with his addition.
- That lineup. The Giants were the only team in baseball not to break 100 home runs last year. Aaron Rowand and Bengie "Benji" Molina are the biggest power threats.
- It could be argued that it's more of an "unkown" than a "bad" but the infield around Renteria is being filled out by a bunch of guys that spent last year in Whoville. Pablo Sandoval showed some pop in limited time last year, but until we see how everyone pans out, this group has to be thought of as punchless till they prove otherwise.
I'd have loved to make some waves and push the Giants up a little higher, but as good as their pitching is, they're going to have to be flawless with this offense. But remember now that I'm hedging my bets just in case Old NL Renteria and one of the young infield guys really break out and get this team somewhere even close to league offensive averages again.
Predictions: 81-81 record, Benji Molina's stellar blog continues to get better until he eventually ousts me from WoW in a bloodless coup; To make the best of bad economic times Randy Winn and Fred Lewis augment their newly opened seafood restaurant to include a pawn shop. "Fred & Randy's Pawn n' Prawn" becomes Bay Area hotspot.
2. Arizona Diamondbacks
- Brandon Webb, Dan Haren and to an extent, Max Scherzer.
- Justin Upton, Stephen Drew, Conor Jackson and to an extent, Chris Young.
- I think the Diamondbacks would rather have Micah Owings third in the rotation than needing so much our of Scherzer already. Especially seeing as how they gave him up for 2 months of Adam Dunn. Scherzer blew people away in limited action last season (68 Ks in 56 innings) but says he still feels "far behind" in terms of rehabbing from an arm injury last year. Doug Davis and Webb have both missed starts this spring as well.
The Diamondbacks came flying out of the gate last year before pulling up lame towards the end. The competition in the NL West is roughly the same as last year, with the Giants being better and the Rockies being worse. Accounting for natural improvement from those young bats the Diamondbacks look to have a similar record this year. It will come down to steps up in that third rotation spot.
Prediction:84-78 record; "Bring Your Diamondback to the Diamondbacks Game" promotion results in 11 poisonous snakebites and 36 mountain bikes.
1. LA Dodgers
- When he resigned we said we wouldn't talk about you-know-who so I won't. But he's good that guy.
- The rest of the outfield seems to have solidified with regular playing time for the young guys that should have been in there all along. No more Pierre, no more Jones. No word on how much kicking and screaming it took to get Joe Torre to acquiesce.
- Clayton Kershaw is back for a second go round. Lloyd thinks he'll put it together and I agree. Chad Billingsley didn't look so great in the playoffs but had a good enough 2008 to make him a not ridiculous top of the rotation guy.
- A full season of Rafael Furcal and his airtight defense will take some pressure off of said rotation.
- Kershaw better be good. Without a solid campaign for him this is barely the 3rd best rotation in the division.
We picked them to win last year before the Mannyquisition, and they did. If you've learned one thing reading this preview, it's that this division hasn't changed all that much, so why not pick them again. The outfield is improved and while Derek Lowe had a good year in 2008 his loss can't be called devastating by any stretch. Another down year in the NL West, but another title for the Trolley Dodgers.
Predictions: 88-74 record; Andre Ethier tests positive for tasso ham; Joe Torre changes the spelling of his name to Joat Orry; Russell Martin goes around clubhouse every single day telling people "My sleep number bed is stuck on 69."