As the baseball season gradually begins over a ridiculous nine day period that commenced last week in Japan and culminates with the Angels’ first game tomorrow evening in Anaheim, the worst looking bunch of teams in MLB appear to occupy the National League West.
Thus, it’s almost anyones’ division to win. Anyone except San Diego, that is.
The defending champion Diamondbacks boast some of last year’s major overachievers, among them Ian Kennedy, who will NEVER come close to last season’s numbers. They also boast some of the most overrated players in the game, such as the .240-hitting Chris Young. They may win the division by default, just because every other team is so bad, and because of their manager, Kirk Gibson. Conversely, the Dodgers’ biggest single detriment is their empty uniform masquerading as a manager, the amorphous vapor they call mattingly.
Colorado has filled in empty spots with the elderly, and now feature the likes of the recently un-retired 49-yr–old Jamie Moyer in their starting rotation, 36-yr–old Marco Scutaro at second base, and 38-yr–old Todd Helton is backed up by 41-yr–old Jason Giambi at first base. Somehow 38-yr–old Casey Blake failed to secure the third base spot. As good as Colorado stars Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzales are, their awful pitching staff will ensure a season record right around .500, but that could be good enough in this pathetic division.
The Giants have gone backwards for two straight years now, and despite three great arms anchoring the rotation and the top of the bullpen, the return of Buster Posey, and anticipated big numbers from Pablo Sandoval, the rest of the team looks like a patchwork quilt full of journeymen, and they too are doomed to the area around .500.
In San Diego, with Carlos Quentin now injured, the Padres cannot field a single major-league caliber outfielder, and the rest of the team is not much better. It will take a real stretch, and a parcel of player moves during the season, for them to win any more than 70 games, if even that.
And then there is the Dodgers. The rotation features Clayton Kershaw, the disappointing Chad Billingsley, and a patchwork group of veterans struggling to stay healthy. Ted Lilly, Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano are all talented, but have all contended with inconsistencies and injuries, and it is hard to believe this year will be any different. With big question marks behind the plate and throughout the infield, the team will be relying on what could well be the best outfield not only in division but in the league, and maybe baseball. Will Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Juan Rivera be enough? With Kershaw and continued success from Javy Guerra and Kenley Jansen out of the bullpen, it could be enough to win this division.