2010 Forecasts: NL West


Here’s a
silly little question for ARIZONA about Edwin Jackson. If he’s good enough for
you to have given up on Max Scherzer, why is he pitching for his third team in
as many seasons? And why was the other guy you got in the trade a starter who
won his first major league start on September 1, 2007 – and hasn’t pitched well
since? Ian Kennedy’s rep in New York was as a guy who didn’t seem to want the
ball, and even if that was wildly untrue, there has to be some reason he went
from untouchable to throw-in in two years. On these two starters the
Diamondbacks’ season depends; they will get another acey season out of Dan
Haren and might even get a comeback from Brandon Webb, but if both
Jackson and Kennedy don’t produce,
there is nothing (Billy Buckner, Brian Augenstein, Rodrigo Lopez) for A.J.
Hinch to fall back on, and a truly potent line-up will have wasted a lot of
slugging.

COLORADO’s
line-up is so productive that it has come to this: if Todd Helton suddenly
decided to return to football (at age 37, for some reason) and they had to move
Brad Hawpe back to first base and go with some kind of Seth Smith/Ryan
Spilborghs combo, there would probably be no noticeable fall-off. There is no
reason to suspect that Jorge De La Rosa’s 2009, nor Jason Hammel’s second-half,
were flukes, and thus the Rockies offer rotational depth behind Jimenez and
Cook, and they have enough in the bullpen to back-fill for an injured Huston
Street without mentioning the dreaded words “Manny Corpas.” Franklin Morales
might just steal the job from him if Street is gone too long. This is a
well-rounded, deep team, and Troy Tulowitzki, batting clean-up, may reassert
himself this year on the path to being one of the league’s top ten hitters.

In LOS
ANGELES or anywhere else, I would trust Joe Torre with my wallet or my vote or
my house keys. But I think he’s in for a dreadful year. If anybody can get a
Number One starter kind of season out of Vicente Padilla, it’d be Joe; I’d
still bet it’s likelier that Padilla will achieve that rarest of feats – pitch
the opener and
wind
up being unconditionally released in the same season. My memory of Padilla is
him taking a no-hitter into the middle innings at Shea Stadium, and
sportswriters from two cities, in two languages, rooting against him because he
was surly in both English and Spanish. More over, what’s the message to Chad
Billingsley? Clayton Kershaw? What’s the message to Dodger fans that your fifth
starter battle involved both perpetual retreads named Ortiz? A great bullpen
cannot stay such if it has to start getting ready in the fifth inning, every
day. And the line-up is hardly as good as it looks. The Dodgers cannot get a full
season out of Ronnie Belliard, haven’t gotten one out of Blake DeWitt. They may
have burned out Russell Martin. And Manny Being Just Manny (No PEDs) is a just
slightly better offensive force than, say, Mark DeRosa. The McCourt Divorce may
be a lot more interesting than the 2010 Dodgers, and a lot less painful to
watch.

SAN DIEGO
might catch lightning in a bottle, if Mat Latos and Kyle Blanks and Nick
Hundley get off to explosive starts and there is no need to unload Heath Bell
and Adrian Gonzalez. If not, you’re looking at Aaron Cunningham and Chase
Headley as the three and four hitters, and Mike Adams or Luke Gregerson
closing. Watch, hope; rent, don’t buy.

I don’t
much like SAN FRANCISCO’s outfield (maybe they should have given John Bowker’s
spring training resurgence more attention), and their third best all-around
player might spend most of the season backing up Bengie Molina, but that’s some
pitching staff Bruce Bochy and Dave Righetti have to play with. After Lincecum,
Cain, Sanchez, and Zito, I think Todd Wellemeyer is a stop-gap and Kevin
Pucetas (or maybe Madison Bumgarner – and who ever went faster from prospect to suspect?) will eventually claim the fifth spot. The
bullpen has gone from wobbly to outstanding in two years (Dan Runzler might eventually make Brian Wilson expendable; more likely he’ll just make he and Jeremy Affeldt the top pair of left-handed set-up men in the league). I’d be happier if they’d invested in an
actual outfielder instead of Aubrey Huff, put DeRosa at third, and Sandoval at
first. But if Colorado falters, this is the West’s best bet.

PREDICTIONS:
Colorado in a runaway, unless the Giants put everything together early. The
Dodgers finish third, just ahead of the Diamondbacks – unless the Padres blossom early as mentioned above and
don’t trade everybody, in which case the three teams will place within a few games of each other.

TOMORROW NIGHT: The National League Central.

4 Comments

lol to the previous comment…..

My comment is going to be off topic too, seeing as I can more easily talk about you being back on Countdown than I can speak about your post….
I too noted that you seemed to be in a very good mood.
Actually, I’ll just leave my comment at that.

It was great to see Keith back, and pardon me if I don’t have an opinion on sexiest newsman, although I doubt that Morley Safer was the runner-up. I hope this will not seem out of place, but as for being in a good mood, I am reminded of when Harry Reasoner returned to CBS after his years at ABC. His first broadcast had something to do with the death of a pope, and a friend told him he looked and sounded like he was about to start singing because he was so happy to be back at CBS. So, I’m sure that Keith was glad to be back at the same old stand after a long and terribly difficult time.

That said, Keith, I think you went a bit too far in your criticism of the Dodgers. As a fellow fan said to me the other day, this is the kind of team that should win 85-90 but could lose 85-90. I would not attribute Torre choosing Vincente Padilla as his opening day starter to the belief that he is a #1 pitcher. Torre commented that he actually has four #2 starters, and that sounds about right. Ramirez is not to be so easily dismissed, especially if you think about the role reversal–where Kemp and Ethier once benefited from him, he may benefit from them. Add in that those two, Loney, and Kershaw probably haven’t peaked yet. Martin is not necessarily burned out–we don’t know. It’s not that I’m an optimist–I have rooted for the Dodgers long enough to have low expectations. But the certitude in your comments was a bit troubling.

> And Manny Being Just Manny (No PEDs) is a just slightly better offensive force than, say, Mark DeRosa.

Keith, there is no way in hell that that is true. MR is the greatest RH hitter you and I will ever see… and you know it.

Hi Keith! Sorry brother, but I have to believe my boys (Phillies) are going to beat your boys this year!
Take Care, Good Night and Good Luck!
Mike McGuire, NJ

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