NL West Anaylsis : 2008 Preview

NL West Anaylsis : 2008 Preview

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The NL West division winner should still need 88+ wins to capture the division. I don’t see a repeat of the 90, 90 & 89 totals from 2007. You have three good teams in the east, four good teams in the west and pretty much one, maybe two good squads in the central. This allows the central teams with less than stellar starting pitching like the Brewers & Cubs to build up stronger records due to the fact that they can beat up on the other four teams in the division.

Here are my thoughts on each team in the division and their prospective 2008 record.

I personally like the Dodgers to take at least the wild card. They have some great depth in the starting rotation with Penny, Lowe, Billingsley & Kuroda, one of the better bullpens in baseball and a full season of guys like Kemp (.894 OPS) and Loney (.919). The area of concern is the aging vetrans. I think someone like Jones & Furcal have something to prove. Add in the fact that the Dodgers have the resources to add big ticket talent in a deadline trade that others in the division do not and I think they should compete for the division title.

The Rockies didn’t do much to bolster their roster in the off-season. I predict this team to regress. Somewhat long-time regulars Holiday, Atkins, & Hawpe all had career years in 2007. I also feel that most of the Rockies minor league depth lies in pitching. This could become an issue if any of the three previously named players + Tulo & Helton go down. There is no real viable replacement that can come close to matching the offensive production of those players. The pitching staff should improve, particularly in the rotation. Still, I just don’t see this team holding up to injuries and any return to career averages.

The Diamondbacks have one of the best 1-2 punches in baseball after acquiring Haren to go along with Webb. One added bonus is that these two consistently start 30+ games per season. The Big unit has thrown well in spring and should be in the rotation for the start of May. Younger players such as Chris Young (a ROY in almost any season other then 2007), Drew, Jackson, etc should all improve upon last seasons numbers. The bullpen takes a slight hit losing Valverde, although the overall depth is still strong.

San Diego brings the same package in 2008 that they seem to bring every season. Pitching & D. One has to question how much longer Maddux & Hoffman will continue to produce. The system is fairly weak on replacement talent or talent that can bring a solid return in the trade market (outside of their top 2). The offense is sparse at best with the loss of Cameron (20+HR) & Milton Bradley. The outfield now consists of Jim Edmonds, Brian Giles and Paul McNaulty, arguably a AAA or AAAA level outfield offensivly. The replacements in the OF if any injuries occur are also AAA caliber. The bullpen is stacked and the pitching gives them a chance, although I hate their offense and catcher Josh Bard gives opponents an automatic stolen base (6% caught stealing rate).

San Fran won’t be as bad as many think (as with SD, pitching & D is their game) but they still be back of the pack by 10+. I’d except an offense that is primarily based upon small ball principals, as very little power exists. The future 1A & 1B duo of Cain & Lincecum should keep the Giants in ballgames and I expect Zito to shave half a point off of his disappointing 2007 ERA. The main thing to watch here is when (not if) the Giants pull the trigger and play their young talent. Spring Training stolen base leader (14 at this point) Velez, Kevin Frandsen & Nate Schlerholtz should all rack up some serious PA by the end of the season. The Giants would be wise to deal one of their young SP prospects (Sanchez, Correira, Misch) for a strong OF prospect. However, they are tied down to large contracts to the Winn’s, Durham’s & Roberts of the world for the time being.

2008 NL West Standings:

Arizona 90 – 72

LA Dodgers 88 – 74

San Diego Padres 85 – 77

Colorado 81 – 81

San Fran 70 – 92

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3 replies on “NL West Anaylsis : 2008 Preview”
  1. says: Early

    Great NL West Brief. This division is completely up for grabs. There is such a low ceiling amongst these truly “average” teams. You put 3 teams within 5 games of each other. I am sure you wouldn’t be shocked if 4 teams were within 5 games. And they will also all be in the running for NL WC. Doing my own predictions it was hard to believe any of these teams are shoe ins for playoffs, but when you look at it, 85 wins could realistically win this divison. Whose division is this to lose?

  2. says: Early

    It is a shame SF has those long term contracts. They have always been a small market team but the funds that Bonds brought in during the last 10 years is going to dry up, they are in transition and it almost seems that Giants management has prediced this. They have some great young talent and should dominate this divison in the next decade. The legacy of Bonds’ presence may hurt this club in the next couple years when the dudes they hired to play with him play out their contracts. Zito, yuck.

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