So, I guess I'll start now, with the free agency season winding down and spring training less than a month away. I'll start with the NL West, and the go division by division, one day at a time. Predictions first, followed by a preview.
Predicted 2010 NL West Standings
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (93-69)
2. San Francisco Giants (89-73)
3. Arizona Diamondbacks (83-79)
4. Colorado Rockies (78-84)
5. San Diego Padres (70-92)
I know the Dodgers lost Randy Wolf and John Garland to free agency, I realize that Orlando Hudson probably wont be back either. However, the combination of Furcal, Kemp, Ethier and Manny and possibly Russ Martin if he can rebound slightly this year make the Dodgers lineup dangerous. A rotation of Billingsley (if 100% recovered from hip injury), Kershaw, Padilla and Kuroda followed by a solid bullpen anchored by Jonathan Broxton, should be able to carry its end of the bargain for the Dodgers to be able to repeat.
The Giants offense is marginally better than last year, with a healthy Freddy Sanchez and the addition of Mark DeRosa and Aubrey Huff. DeRosa regressed in the second half last year, possibly due to the effects of a wrist injury, assuming he is healthy he will be an improvement to the Giants offense. Aubrey Huff had one of his worst years of his career in 2009, a rebound will be necessary if he doesn't want to be known as Aubrey Garko. Bengie Molina will drop to 6th in the batting order, giving the Giants a decent if not average lineup. The pitching staff remains the strength of the team, however a repeat of last year's performance may not be in the cards. The Giants were exceptional last year, and could regress to the norm this season. I still see them as the second best team in the NL West and possibly making a run at the wild card.
The return of Brandon Webb will be a huge help for the D-backs this season, if healthy the perennial Cy Young candidate could even make this a playoff club. Adam Laroche is a quality major league first baseman, teamed with Justin Upton, Stephen Drew, Mark Reynolds and company, could prove to be a formidable lineup. The rotation after Webb consists of Dan Haren (a first half pitcher), Max Scherzer (young unproven phenom, Ediwn Jackson (who had a good year in Detroit last year) and whoever wins the 5th starter job. This team should be much better than last year, and could even challenge the Giants for the wildcard or the Dodgers for the division title. I believe that their hitters are too streaky and undisciplined to hold it together all season. This team will be up and down, but still finish with a winning record.
The Rockies are essentially the same as last year minus Jason Marquis, and I don't think that their rotation is very good at all, or will hold up this year. The lineup was full of young, unproven players such as Seth Smith, Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler who will have to prove they have what it takes to succeed in successive years at this level. I'll hedge my bets on some of them not living up to the hype. I thought the Rockies played over their heads last year and I don't think they will be as good this year.
The Padres are awful. Divorce is splitting ownership apart, and the team is in sell now mode. Adrian Gonzalez may or may not be traded, but that will be the major story line out of San Diego this year.