The Obstructed NL West Preview-2019

The National League West has been dominated by the Dodgers for a while now. Last year we saw jumps however from the Rockies, hoping to take that next step after winning the Wild Card game and getting to the NLDS. Do they have enough to take the Dodgers down in 2019? The Padres made one of the biggest splashes in the off-season by bringing in Manny Machado and the hope is that the farm system, which is prime as prime can be, can pay off dividends starting this year. The Giants, if healthy (keyword: IF) can make some noise but the likes of Cueto, Bumgarner, and Posey need to be healthy and have better years from the Brandon boys (Crawford and Belt-who also needs to stay healthy). And the Diamondbacks look more towards a rebuild after the losses of Goldschmidt, Pollock, and others. So let’s take a look at how this year could fare out in the NL West. Again, my previews are how I believe the teams will play out in 2019 for predictions.

Arenado will prove why he is a big money player for the Rockies

(1) COLORADO ROCKIES

Last year: 91-72

KEY ADDITIONS: 1B-Mark Reynolds (FA-Washington)

KEY LOSSES: C-Drew Butera (FA-Philadelphia), 2B-DJ LeMahieu (FA-New York Yankees), OF-Carlos Gonzalez (FA-Cleveland), OF-Gerardo Parra (FA-San Francisco, P-Adam Ottavino (FA-New York Yankees)

The Rockies were one game back behind the Dodgers last year. Surprisingly the pitching of the Rockies really kept them in the race and getting into October baseball, notably by the arms of German Marquez and Kyle Freeland. However, there is hope the live armed Jon Gray turns it around this year which would be huge for the Rockies. The bullpen was decent, but Wade Davis needs to regain his form like he had in Kansas City and with the Cubs. If that happens, they will be a major threat for the NL in 2019. The offense of the Rockies, well, is the offense. Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, and Trevor Story will lead the way. But they do need more consistency out of their big free agent pickup from a couple of years ago in Ian Desmond and now we get to see Ryan McMahon play on an everyday level (and a guy I have high hopes for-he better since I have him on my fantasy team). If all goes well, the Rockies could be a major threat to the National League to get to the World Series in 2019….yes, I finally bought in to the Rockies after a few years of being a Doubting Thomas. MY PREDICTION: 93-69

Muncy will need to continue his streak in Los Angeles to help keep the Dodgers in the running

(2) LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Last year: 92-71 (Defeated Atlanta in NLDS, Defeated Milwaukee in NLCS, Lost to Boston in World Series)

KEY ADDITIONS: OF-AJ Pollock (FA-Arizona), C-Russell Martin (Trade-Toronto) P-Joe Kelly (FA-Boston),

KEY LOSSES: OF-Matt Kemp (Trade-Cincinnati), OF-Yasiel Puig (Trade-Cincinnati), P-Alex Wood (Trade-Cincinnati) C-Yasmani Grandal (FA-Milwaukee), 2B-Brian Dozier (FA-Washington), SS-Manny Machado (FA-San Diego) P-John Axford (FA-Toronto) P-Daniel Hudson (FA-Los Angeles Angels) 2B-Chase Utley (retired)

The Dodgers had a unique off-season to say the least. People (myself included) thought the Kemp/Puig/Wood trade to Cincinnati opened the door to the Dodgers signing Bryce Harper after all that payroll was freed. And that obviously didn’t happen. Also gone was reliable catcher Yasmani Grandal to Milwaukee, and prized trade acquisition Manny Machado. Los Angeles added the Diamondbacks prized free agent AJ Pollock which was a decent move and the reliable reliever in Joe Kelly, but did it off-set the losses? I’m not sure. And Clayton Kershaw is having injury issues and at times didn’t look as dominant last year. Corey Seager is also coming back from injury and the hope is that Max Muncy is a legit baseball player after exploding onto the scene last year. The other hope is if Cody Bellinger and Joc Pederson can find any way to get consistent as to me this one of the years that the Dodgers have a few more question marks than prior. But if their farm system (which is still strong) can step up with the young players, they should figure to be a threat in the West. MY PREDICTION: 89-73

The Machado signing may be the birth of something grand in San Diego

(3) SAN DIEGO PADRES

Last year: 66-96

KEY ADDITIONS: 3B-Manny Machado (FA-Los Angeles Dodgers), 2B-Ian Kinsler (FA-Boston) IF-Greg Garcia (Waivers-St. Louis), P-Adam Warren (FA-Seattle), P-Aaron Loup (FA-Philadelphia), P-Garret Richards (FA-Los Angeles Angels)

KEY LOSSES: P-Clayton Richard (Trade-Toronto), C-AJ Ellis (retired), 2B-Corey Spangenberg (FA-Miami), SS-Freddy Galvis (FA-Toronto)

A lot of high hopes now run in San Diego thanks in part to the signing of Manny Machado. He fills the need of that offensive weapon that the Padres have sorely lacked since really Adrian Gonzalez. If Wil Myers can stay healthy and Eric Hosmer can get a little more pop, the Padres have a nice offense going in what it seems like it’s forever. The other hope is that we start seeing some of San Diego’s top prospects come into play such as Fernando Tatis Jr (who should be up with San Diego by May) and Luis Urias making an impact. Of course, what will really slow down the Padres will be the starting pitching. San Diego ranked near the bottom in everything with starting pitching and Garret Richards isn’t likely to pitch in 2019 so the starting five are Joey Lucchesi, Chris Paddack (one of their top prospects), Matt Strahm, Eric Lauer, and Robbie Erlin. So it may be a rough stretch for the Padres, but I think as the season unfolds, they will get better and will try to swing a trade to get an established ace (Corey Kluber’s name has come up, but doubtful the Indians would trade them especially if they are in the hunt for the post-season). But the first steps are rolling in the land of Ron Burgundy for the Padres. They will show vast improvement in 2019. MY PREDICTION: 82-80

Posey is continuing to battle for the Giants

(4) SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Last year: 73-89

KEY ADDITIONS: OF-Gerardo Parra (FA-Colorado), IF-Yangervis Solarte (FA-Toronto) OF-Cameron Maybin (FA-Seattle) P-Drew Pomeranz (FA-Boston), C-Stephen Vogt (FA-Milwaukee)

KEY LOSSES: C-Nick Hundley (FA-Oakland), OF-Gregor Blanco (FA-New York Mets), OF-Hunter Pence (FA-Texas), P-Hunter Strickland (FA-Seattle)

The Giants….well, it seems like they avoided giving the heavy contract out that always seems to bite them on the rear end this year (though the Johnny Cueto signing was fine until he got injured). But the biggest things with San Francisco that has plagued them in the past two years have been injuries and inconsistencies. The injuries have taken its toll with this veteran bunch all over the place and they haven’t has been as consistent as we remembered them when they won 3 titles in 5 seasons. And they are getting older on top of it while having a farm system that is not exactly in the best of shapes. But if Buster Posey can keep healthy, and Crawford and Belt can be more consistent, they have a shot at competing. Similar case can go for Madison Bumgarner (health) and Jeff Samardzija (consistency) If those guys can do their thing, they will be a tough out in the NL West. But there are just too many questions in San Francisco for me to think they have a major chance to bring down the Rockies or Dodgers in 2019. MY PREDICTION: 76-86

Peralta and Arizona could be in for a long year

(5) ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Last year: 82-80

KEY ADDITIONS: 2B-Wilmer Flores (FA-New York Mets), C-Carson Kelly (Trade-St. Louis), OF-Adam Jones (FA-Baltimore), P-Luke Weaver (Trade-St. Louis), P-Greg Holland (FA-Washington)

KEY LOSSES: 1B-Paul Goldschmidt (Trade-St. Louis), C-Jeff Mathis (FA-Texas), IF-Daniel Descalso (FA-Chicago Cubs), OF-Chris Owings (FA-Kansas City), OF-Jon Jay (FA-Chicago White Sox), P-Patrick Corbin (FA-Washington), P-Shelby Miller (FA-Texas), P-Brad Boxberger (FA-Kansas City), P-Randall Delgado (FA-Chicago White Sox), P-Jake Diekman (FA-Kansas City)

While my fellow baseball friends keep telling me the Diamondbacks aren’t in a full rebuild, it certainly looks that way. One of your aces in Patrick Corbin is gone. Your stellar outfielder in AJ Pollock is gone. And you traded one of the best first basemen in all of baseball in Paul Goldschmidt away. And then you bring in a veteran well past his prime in Jones, a utility player that never really exploded on the scene in Flores, and a guy who hasn’t been the same since his arm injury in Holland. And now the Diamondbacks are hoping the likes of David Peralta and Eduardo Escobar can carry the load for them as well as Jake Lamb who is coming off of injury. If the Diamondbacks are to go anywhere, Zack Greinke has to look like the Dodgers version of himself and also step up to be a leader as opposed to being the stand-offish kind of guy. If Robbie Ray looks like 2017 Robbie Ray and Zack Godley continues his improvement while Luke Weaver steps up, the Diamondbacks may frustrate some hitters in the NL West. However, I don’t figure Arizona to be in the race and also don’t figure them to keep somebody like Greinke by the deadline. That offense looks to maligned right now for me to think the Diamondbacks have a shot in the NL West. MY PREDICTION: 69-93

That’s it for this go-around.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

Twitter

Facebook

Advertisements

The Obstructed National League West Preview

One of the things about the National League West that I don’t think gets enough credit is they are a dog-eat-dog division.  It seems like year after year you have a fight among the teams from first through fifth.  And how each team goes about their way is different.  We know historically that the Dodgers, Giants, and Padres, thanks in part to their ballparks, are more oriented with pitching and it shows year in and year out while the Rockies and Diamondbacks, known for having two great offensive parks, are more inclined to rely heavy on the bats.

Dodgers

Last year we saw the Dodgers roll in the NL West though the Rockies and Diamondbacks both played out of their minds to snag both Wild Cards.  The Padres were still in the midst of rebuilding and the Giants just had really bad luck all year round (or so Giants fans think and hope) and weren’t a factor in the division.

Even the off-season had a strange feel for all the teams.  The Dodgers unusually stood pat for the most part.  The Rockies added more bullpen help while their young arms in the rotation can get them over.  Arizona stood pat (and probably lost ground by letting JD Martinez walk).  But the Padres and Giants made key moves as San Diego was a player in the free agent market by getting one of the top prizes in Eric Hosmer and the Giants have gone all in for the 2018 season adding Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen in the mix to hopefully solidify a lineup that really fell apart in 2017.

My team previews are where I see them in the standings in 2018 so in other words, this where I think they will be.

Kershaw

1ST PLACE: LOS ANGELES DODGERS

2017: 104-58 (1st place; beat Arizona in NLDS, beat Chicago Cubs in NLCS, lost to Houston in World Series)

OFF-SEASON: ADDS:  OF-Matt Kemp (trade-Atlanta), P-Scott Alexander (trade-Kansas City), P-Tom Koehler (FA-Toronto), SUBTRACTS: P-Yu Darvish (FA-Chicago Cubs), P-Brandon Morrow (FA-Chicago Cubs), P-Tony Watson (FA-San Francisco), OF-Curtis Granderson (FA-Toronto), OF-Franklin Gutierrez (FA), OF-Andre Ethier (FA), P-Grant Dayton (Waivers-Atlanta), 1B-Adrian Gonzalez (Trade-Atlanta), IF-Charlie Culberson (Trade-Atlanta), P-Brandon McCarthy (Trade-Atlanta), P-Scott Kazmir (Trade-Atlanta), P-Luis Avilan (Trade-Chicago White Sox)

Outlook:  You do have to think that the Dodgers did a lot of addition by subtraction here by gutting some roster with sending away players who were high priced and not living up to the expectations (Kazmir, Gonzalez).  Los Angeles still has one of the most all-around rosters in all of baseball and a great young group while having a farm system that is very good.  So barring injuries, it is hard to think the Dodgers won’t be playing October baseball.  However, some players do need to make an impact like many had hoped when they first arrived, notably Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig.  If those two can get it going at the right time, oh boy.  Are there questions in the rotation behind Kershaw as in can Rich Hill and Alex Wood show 2017 wasn’t a fluke?  Perhaps, but right now I don’t see either one sliding off too much in 2018 (barring injury).  If the Dodgers can keep healthy, a repeat to the World Series is a very strong chance.

OVERALL PROJECTION: 99-63 (Dodgers may not have a better record than 17, but may have a better team in 2018)

 

Miami Marlins v Arizona Diamondbacks

2ND PLACE: ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

2017: 93-69, 2nd place (defeated Colorado in Wild Card round; lost to Los Angeles Dodgers in NLDS)

OFF-SEASON: ADDS:  P-Brad Boxberger (Trade-Tampa Bay), OF-Steven Souza Jr. (Trade-Tampa Bay) C-Alex Avila (FA-Chicago Cubs) SUBTRACTS: C-Chris Iannetta (FA-Colorado), IF-Adam Rosales (FA-Philadelphia), OF-Gregor Blanco (FA-San Francisco), OF-JD Martinez (FA-Boston), P-David Hernandez (FA-Cincinnati), P-Fernando Rodney (FA-Minnesota)

Outlook:  Arizona may have lost a bit in the off-season, notably from JD Martinez, who played HUGE for them after coming from Detroit in a mid-season trade.  But it’s hard to say they will take a huge step backwards.  After all, they have Paul Goldschmidt and Jake Lamb leading the way in the lineup.  The rest of the lineup is solid if anything where the likes of AJ Pollock, David Peralta, and Steven Souza Jr. can really hurt you if you aren’t careful.  The starting rotation is as good as any with Zack Greinke (though he has got to pitch better than what we’ve seen since he’s joined Arizona), Robbie Ray, and Patrick Corbin as well as Taijuan Walker.  The big question will be the pen as can Archie Bradley close out games and Brad Boxberger help set up?  That has to be somewhat of a question as well as keeping healthy.

2018 PROJECTION:  91-71 (look for Arizona to make a splash at the deadline to improve a need; catcher?)

 

Buster

3RD PLACE: SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

2017: 64-98, 5th Place

OFF-SEASON: ADDS: 3B-Evan Longoria (Trade-Tampa Bay), OF-Andrew McCutchen (Trade-Pittsburgh), OF-Austin Jackson (FA-Cleveland), P-Tony Watson (FA-Los Angeles Dodgers)  SUBTRACTS: P-Matt Moore (Trade-Texas), 3B-Christian Arroyo (Trade-Tampa Bay), OF-Denard Span (Trade-Tampa Bay), P-Kyle Crick (Trade-Pittsburgh), P-Matt Cain (retired)

Outlook: The Giants SHOULD get better from their miserable 2017 season.  They had down years from practically all the guys that didn’t need down years save Buster Posey.  Brandon Belt was way down as was Brandon Crawford.  Hunter Pence struggled tremendously while Madison Bumgarner was lost for a long period of time.  The rotation struggled with Johnny Cueto being very off and Jeff Samardzija being a victim of bad luck at times.  In case that the Brandon boys struggled again, the Giants added more depth by getting a former MVP in Andrew McCutchen and a former MVP candidate in Evan Longoria to really pick up the offense, that is if McCutchen can continue upward from a bad 2016 season (he had a good year in 2017 with Pittsburgh) and Longoria rebounds from a very down year (probably his worst season to date).  So San Francisco is hoping with the year being even again that the high risk will mean a high reward again.

2018 PROJECTION: 85-77 (Too many what-ifs for me to give the Giants a 2nd place finish).

 

Arenado

4TH PLACE: COLORADO ROCKIES

2017: 87-75 (3rd place, lost to Arizona in Wild Card)

OFF-SEASON: ADDS: C-Chris Iannetta (FA-Arizona), P-Wade Davis (FA-Chicago Cubs), P-Bryan Shaw (FA-Cleveland); SUBTRACTS: C-Ryan Hanigan (FA-Cleveland), C-Jonathan Lucroy (FA-Oakland), IF-Alexi Amarista (FA-Detroit), P-Tyler Chatwood (FA-Chicago Cubs), P-Pat Neshek (FA-Philadelphia) 1B/3B-Mark Reynolds (FA)

Outlook:  Colorado’s torrid start in 2017 was enough to get the Rockies a Wild Card spot in October.  The key reason why they got off to a great start was the Rockies bullpen started out great with the moves they made.  However, the starters did not eat a lot of innings, any of them and the bullpen got overworked and underachieved.  And really like every other year for the past 25 years in Denver, the Rockies pitching failed.  They did sign closer Wade Davis away from Chicago which helps and added a quality reliever in Bryan Shaw, but again, if the Rockies starters fail to deliver, it will be a similar situation to 2017.  Part of me thinks last year the Rockies sneaked up on some teams with their offense and how they crushed the ball at Coors, but when the Rockies slipped, they were human, especially on the road (similar to the last 25 years).  The Rockies have to play better away from Coors and the rotation has to pitch better, and that has always been the dilemma in Colorado.  I’m not sure if they will sneak up on anybody especially if San Francisco and San Diego get better.

2018 PROJECTION: 79-83 (Forgive me for not going in on the Rockies, they are the same group as we remembered in the old Blake Street Bombers days).

 

Hosmer

5TH PLACE: SAN DIEGO PADRES

OFF-SEASON: ADDS:  1B-Eric Hosmer (FA-Kansas City), 3B-Chase Headley (Trade-New York Yankees), SS-Freddy Galvis (Trade-Philadelphia), C-AJ Ellis (FA-Miami), P-Kazuhisa Makita (FA-Japan), P-Bryan Mitchell (Trade-New York Yankees); SUBTRACTS:  P-Jabari Blash (Trade-New York Yankees), 2B-Ryan Schimpf (Trade-Tampa Bay), SS-Erick Aybar (FA-Minnesota), P-Jhoulys Chacin (FA-Milwaukee)

Outlook: San Diego always comes off as baseball’s red-headed stepchild to me.  They don’t do anything that makes anybody impressed.  They have historically played a stale style of baseball since the expansive Petco Park opened in 2004 and nobody is ever excited about them year in and year out.  And they haven’t been a legit threat in the West for nearly 15 years.  But they did try to make a splash in the off-season signing Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer to generate some offense to go alongside Wil Myers, who should have a better year in 2018.  Adding on, San Diego has one of the best farm systems in all of baseball so it could be a new dawn for Padres fans real soon.  Maybe not this year but soon enough.

2018 PROJECTION: 77-85 (San Diego may be a spoiler to the rest of the NL West down the stretch)

That’s it for now.

 

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

Twitter

Facebook