I know it’s early but the winds of change have been blowing in the National League West this off-season. Here is how I see things if the season started today:
1. San Francisco Giants - The Giants didn’t make many changes for 2011 and why should they? They are the defending World Series Champions and they have an awesome pitching staff that is only going to get better. The Giants brought back Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell while adding Miguel Tejada to take over as the starting shortstop. Having Buster Posey for the whole year will also boost the offense in 2011. If Pablo Sandoval & Freddy Sanchez bounce back and play like they can in 2011, the Giants are going to win around 100 games!
2. Colorado Rockies - The Rockies’ strength is going to be the pitching staff in 2011. They re-signed Jorge de la Rosa for the rotation (which is going to be strong) and they traded for Matt Lindstrom to help out at the back end of the pen. The Rockies also added Ty Wigginton, Jose Lopez, Joe Crede and Jose Morales and each of them could have a big role for the Rockies in 2011. The Rockies will be right there with the Giants this season in the N.L. West.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers - The Dodgers decided to spend money on pitching over the winter. They re-signed Hiroki Kuroda and Vicente Padilla (who will likely pitch out of the pen in 2011) which were smart moves. Jon Garland, Matt Guerrier and Blake Hawksworth were also added to the pitching staff for 2011 and they will all prove to be solid additions. Juan Uribe was given a pretty nice contract to take over as the Dodgers’ starting 2B and they hope he can give them 20 homers while playing good defense. The Dodgers will likely have platoons at both catcher (Rod Barajas & Dioner Navarro) and LF (Marcus Thames & Jay Gibbons) and they will need power production out of those spots. I don’t think the Dodgers have enough hitting to keep up with the Giants & Rockies in 2011.
4. San Diego Padres - The Padres made a lot of changes but losing Adrian Gonzalez is going to hurt. They plan on platooning Brad Hawpe & Jorge Cantu at 1B and that is going to be a huge downgrade in production. The Padres will likely try to run more on the basepaths to try to make something happen. They added Cameron Maybin, Jason Bartlett, Orlando Hudson, Eric Patterson and Gregg Zaun to help out in the field but none of those bats inspire much fear in opposing pitchers. The Padres took a chance on a couple pitchers during the winter in signing Aaron Harang and Chad Qualls. I expect them both to like pitching in Petco Park and have good rebounds in 2011.
5. Arizona Diamondbacks - The D-Backs went with volume moves to try to improve the team and they will be interesting to watch. Geoff Blum, Juan Miranda, Henry Blanco, Xavier Nady and Willie Bloomquist were added to try to help the team in the field. The Diamondbacks had one of the worst bullpens I can remember last season so that was a priority to fix this winter. J.J. Putz, David Hernandez, Kam Mickolio and Micah Owings were brought in to help. The D-Backs also added Armando Galarraga and Zach Duke to help out in the starting rotation in 2011. If everything goes right, the D-Backs could finish in 4th place in the N.L. West.