MMO 2015 Season Preview: National League West

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Colorado Rockies – 5th Place

Key additions: Nick Hundley & Kyle Kendrick

Key subtractions: Michael Cuddyer, Josh Rutledge, Juan Nicasio, Franklin Morales

It’s going to be bad, real bad for the Rockies. First of all, they are hoping…no praying that Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez can stay on the field for the entire year. Not so they can compete, but so they can trade both players and get value for them by fooling somebody (hopefully not us) that they are healthy players that can be relied on.

The lineup is a typically alright/good lineup for the Rockies. I am not a big buyer of Charlie Blackmon stock like some others are. I just cannot get past a .915 OPS at home versus a .617 road OPS last year. Sorry, sometimes I don’t bang the Coors Field drum – but with Charlie Blackmon it is so clear.

I am curious to see how the loss of Cuddyer impacts this team. He is known to be a quality clubhouse presence and they didn’t replace him with anybody really.

Tyler Matzek and Jordan Lyles are going to be asked to do more in this rotation, and they will need to grow up fast. Kyle Kendrick and Jorge De La Rosa are the veteran leaders of this rotation. I’m not sure that’s good news. De La Rosa’s 2013 season was a fluke and it wasn’t even that good, yet it occasionally seems to buy him credibility.

The bullpen is anchored by LaTroy Hawkins who is surrounded by mostly incapable arms. John Axford is interesting, but it might be too little too late in Colorado.

The Rockies will compete for something though…the #1 draft pick.

Arizona Diamondbacks – 4th Place

Key additions: Yasmany Tomas, Rubby De La Rosa & Jeremy Hellickson

Key subtractions: Wade Miley & Miguel Montero

The key here could truly be whether Tomas is the player he was advertised to be. Overall, the lineup and defense is mostly pretty sub-par. Paul Goldschmidt is a superstar caliber player, and if Tomas can match him – then at least Arizona fans will have a reason to come to the ballpark. If Tomas is a bust, then Arizona is in a lot of trouble.

The rotation is lead by Josh Collmenter who would be a #3 starter on most teams probably, maybe even a #4.

The Diamondbacks are also taking a big chance with Rubby De La Rosa in the rotation. Is he a starter, is he even a big league arm? Through 44 big league games – I’m not sold.

Jeremy Hellickson is coming off a year filled with elbow trouble, so he fits right into the rotation that is filled with question marks.

Their closer Addison Reed is also, not very good. You know as I type this, I have no idea why I think they will be better than Colorado. Can I take it back?

San Diego Padres – 3rd Place

Key additions:  Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, James Shields, Wil Myers, Derek Norris, Will Middlebrooks, Clint Barmes, and Brandon Morrow

Key subtractions: Yasmani Grandal, Jesse Hahn, Rene Rivera, Seth Smith, Eric Stults, Everth Cabrera and Tim Stauffer.

Yes, if I was a Padres fan I’d be excited about the upcoming season.  It’s probably an unpopular view but I don’t believe in the 2015 Padres. They stink of the Jose Reyes Marlins to me. I’m not sure when we will learn that the off-season total revamp’s won’t work.

Let’s start with the rotation.

James Shields picked the perfect spot. He’s not that good of a pitcher, but gets to fool another small market team into thinking he is an ace. His nickname couldn’t be less accurate. It’s more like calling Robin Hood’s buddy (who is huge) “Little John” than anything.

If I take Shields and Andrew Cashner, they probably rank right around 7th or 8th as a 1-2 combo in the National League. That puts them at a disadvantage in my view.

The lineup is banking, no begging for Matt Kemp to stay healthy and for TWO small market teams to be WRONG about Wil Myers. Something has to be up with Myers right? For the Rays to dump him like they did?

They aren’t as good as you think. The hype is taking over and it’s leading you down a path that has Jedd Gyorko as your starting 2B.

Seriously think about that for a second. People worry about the Mets 2B being Daniel Murphy, while they are probably praising the Padres as a playoff threat with Jedd Gyorko as the starting 2B. Makes total sense.

I believe the Padres management had good (great) intentions, but it’s an incomplete overhaul that is built mostly on players nobody wanted or were hyped at a young age and never reached that potential.

San Francisco Giants – 2nd Place

Key additions: Norichika Aoki & Casey McGehee

Key subtractions: Pablo Sandoval & Michael Morse

Losing Sandoval obviously is not a great thing for a championship team. However, after I wrote the AL East preview I read this quote from Sandoval:

“I’m a professional and I know what I have to do,” said Sandoval, listed as 5-11 and 255. “I know where I’ve failed and how I’ve grown up. If I had signed (with the Giants), I knew I would be under a (weight) regimen for five years, and I’m not going to be happy someplace where I’m under that kind of regimen, where I can’t be myself.”

So, the superstar player was worried that his championship winning team wanted to make sure he didn’t let himself go? I don’t know, maybe it’s not going to hurt them as much as I thought. Yes, on the field, it may hurt – but perhaps the team internally is looking forward to life without Panda? Addition by Subtraction?

Matt Cain returns in 2015, which create a downright nasty 1-2 punch with Madison Bumgarner.

Losing Hunter Pence for 6-8 weeks is a crushing blow, but I am not putting anything past the defending champs when it comes to overcoming the odds. Sure, it’s an odd year – so I’m not taking them to win the pennant, but they should be a good ball club.

Los Angeles Dodgers – 1st Place

Key additions: Jimmy Rollins, Howie Kendrick, Hector Olivera, Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson and Yasmani Grandal

Key subtractions: Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez, Dee Gordon & Dan Haren

Listen, if this team doesn’t win the division – it’s a big upset. They are easily the most talented roster in the NL West and sure losing Kemp, Hanley and Dee doesn’t help but I think they did enough to overcome those loses.

A huge key to the Dodgers success will be Joc Pederson. Is he everything many of us think he could be? Is he ready to be the starting CF of a veteran team like the Dodgers?

The issue for the Dodgers is they are relatively thin. Nobody expects them to be okay if they lose a player like Clayton Kershaw, but losing mid-rotation arms could also prove to be a problem.

Still, it’s hard to predict that only the “worst” will happen to the Dodgers and not everybody else in the division. They have the best roster on Opening Day, and while I won’t be picking them to represent the National League in the World Series – they will take this division.

NL West MVP: Clayton Kershaw, I mean who else would there be? I suppose Matt Kemp would be a solid option too because the Padres need him pretty badly. But the Dodgers simply do not win without Kershaw.

NL West Cy Young: See Above.

NL West Sleeper: Does Joc count?

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XtreemIcon’s Picks

This is going to be easy and there’s not a whole lot to say…

5th Place – Colorado Rockies

There are good players on that roster and there are dependable players on that roster, but no overlap at all. Nolan Arenado is the closest thing they have to a good, everyday player and even he hasn’t played more than 135 games yet in his career. He’ll probably be the de facto all star on the team, assuming the normal 100 games missed from Tulo and Gonzalez. I’m trying to find something else positive to say about the Rockies, but aside from Arenado, and that my wife’s favorite color is purple, the best thing about the team right now is John Axford’s Twitter.

4th Place – Arizona DIamondbacks

There isn’t a whole heck of a lot more to like about the Diamondbacks than the Rockies, but they get the nod for being less worse because they have an MVP candidate that you can reasonably expect to play 140+ games. There’s also considerably more potential on Arizona. I would take a finally healthy Hellickson and de la Rosa over any two pitchers on Colorado. Tomas could be great and Chris Owings is still there and only 24. Of course, Hellickson could get hurt again, de la Rosa could plateau, Tomas could bust and Owings could never reach his potential. One of those four will pan out and at worst match Arenado’s presence on Colorado and it’s likely at least two do and make them better. Also? Their catcher’s name is Tuffy Gosewisch. TUFFY GOSEWISCH!

3rd Place – San Diego Padres

I have nothing else to add to Jessep. He’s pretty dead on here. Much like the Mariners, over hype will reign and will result in a lot of disappointed San Diego-ites. San Diego-uns? San Diegans. The only things he forgot to mention is the potential for the worst outfield defense in the league, a shallow bullpen and no rotation depth. The Padres will finish closer in the standings to the Diamondbacks than they will to the…

2nd Place – San Francisco Giants

Good rotation fronted by a great pitcher, depth in the rotation, solid bullpen. I could stop there and it would probably be enough for the Giants to finish second. But they have Buster Posey who just can’t stop hitting, Brandon Belt who is primed and ready to break out and solid infield defense up the middle. Hunter Pence has already begun throwing and shouldn’t miss more than another six weeks. The Giants lost a top free agent and a postseason hero and will start the season minus two starting players and they’re still much better than the Padres, D-Backs and Rockies.

1st Place – Los Angeles Dodgers

I think the Dodgers actually got a little better, believe it or not. They downgraded overall at shortstop and left field, losing Hanley Ramirez and replacing him with Rollins, and playing Crawford everyday in left instead of Kemp, but they upgraded big time at second base and center field, now starting Howie Kendrick over Dee Gordon and Joc Pederson over Andre Ethier. Pederson could bust and still probably be more valuable than Ethier based on defense alone. I’d also much rather have Brandon McCarthy over Dan Haren, although that contract is a little rich for my blood. I don’t see how it’s not an eight-game lead at the break and a double-digit lead at the end of the season.

NL West MVP: Clayton Kershaw

NL West Cy Young: Just to be different, I’ll pick Klayton Cershaw

NL West Sleeper: I really want to pick Justin Maxwell, I really do. But he’s going back to the bench when Pence returns, so I’ll go with Brandon Belt.

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About Michael Branda 267 Articles

Michael Branda grew up a Mets fan watching the mid 1980’s teams and his favorite Met of all-time is (and was) Wally Backman. When it comes to sabermetrics versus old school thinking, he’s in the middle and believes adopting new ways to get answers is helpful, especially when the old way has not produced results.