It’s that time of year again where we look at the upcoming 2010 Major League Baseball season. Throughout the next couple of days I will preview every division in Major League Baseball then ending my blog series previewing the 2010 MLB Season by looking at the teams I see entering the playoffs this year and who will be World Champions when it’s all said & done. In this edition of my blog I will preview the NL West division.
1. Colorado Rockies
The Colorado Rockies are coming into this season as one of the most favored teams in the National League. I know it’s pretty hard to believe because not many people talk about the Rockies due to being in such a small market with lack of Baseball history. But talk to the “experts” because they feel that this team is for real and that they are dangerous to make a run at the National League crown.
For one the Rockies were one of the hottest teams last season after Jim Tracy became manager of the Rockies following the exit of former manager Clint Hurdle in the first couple months of the season. After Tracy took the helm the Rockies were red hot taking the NL Wild Card crown and starting yet another edition of “Rocktober.” They were dealt an early exit in the Division Series in the postseason but it served as a great learning tool for this very young team.
Many people including yours truly feel that Troy Tulowitzki is poised for a big season in 2010 and could be a top 3 candidate for the NL MVP by the end of the season. He is arguably the best shortstop in the National League right now and is shaping into one of the best team leaders in Baseball. He will be the driving force for this young team’s 2010 campaign.
The only issues the Rockies can face this season are of course their pitching. I say of course because they play in the biggest home run friendly park in all of Baseball. I can play waffle ball there and launch a ball 330 feet. If the young pitching staff stays on point throughout the season this team is dangerous. They are so dangerous that we can even see them show up in the NLCS when the season is done. Watch out for the Rockies this year.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
The pride of the NL West the last couple of seasons and the bridesmaid of the NLCS game for the last two years, they are the Los Angeles Dodgers. It’s very hard to bet against beloved former Yankees manager Joe Torre on not making the playoffs this year for the first time in thirteen years but I have to pick the Dodgers to fall 2nd in the West this season. The reason being is what is going on in the background of the Dodgers franchise right now.
What the Dodgers don’t lack is offensive talent. They may have one of the best outfields in all of Baseball with Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp and Andre Either patrolling the outfield. Those three players will make or break the team this season in how productive their offense ends up being. The ball club will be resting on their shoulders. Look for Matt Kemp to continue to have big seasons and become more of a household name this year. That may have to do with Rihanna though and not his offense. If you’re a Dodgers fan hope for his play in the field to be the reason why people know of him and NOT Rihanna.
The Dodgers are lacking in the pitching category of course. Your opening day starter is Vicente Padilla; a guy who at one time was released by the Texas Rangers due to his horrible ERA. The Dodgers need to try and make a deal during the season for another arm especially if they are in the playoff hunt. Many teams who are out of the playoff hunt come July will be looking to dump people’s contracts (i.e. Carlos Zambrano, possibly?). Look for the Dodgers to be competitive but maybe an 84 win team at best.
3. San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants were without a doubt one of the most surprising teams in all of Baseball last season. I remember sitting in the studios during The Wheelhouse, trying to name a positional player for the Giants with the guys and we just couldn’t name one player. Well overtime that would change as people were becoming introduced to this young exciting Giants team.
The Giants are the most dangerous team that can be under .500 this season. The reason being rests on the amazing young rotation they have and are continuing to develop. The Giants like the Cincinnati Reds are going to be a top team in the National League in the next couple of years. They are starting to develop into a great ball club but time and maturity is what this team needs to continue improving.
Tim Lincecum is a gamer. He will be the best pitcher in Major League Baseball in a couple of years and will probably be the top pitcher in this current decade. He will eventually see time in the postseason but not right now. He like his team will need time to help this team continue to grow. Lincecum will carry a major workload on his shoulder this season but eventually the rotation will be close to the bar he has set in San Francisco.
The largest flaw for the Giants this season is their youth. The lack of time and experience does affect a team especially when so many players on the roster have little major league experience under their belts. They surprised many last season for being such a competitive team and will be the best team to either be .500 or fall a little short under .500 this season. The San Francisco Giants future is very bright right and they will be a top National League for a good part of this decade.
4. Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks last season were look at as a team that could compete for the NL West or NL Wild Card crown in 2009. Then their ace and former NL Cy Young award winner Brandon Webb went down for the rest of the season after just one start. After that the Diamondbacks really never bounced back to live up to the expectation people set out for the “baby backs.”
The bright spot for the Diamondbacks will be their starting rotation when Brandon Webb returns (Webb, Haren, Edwin Jackson). D’Back fans are hoping they get the Brandon Webb of old but you may see a new Brandon Webb after the horrible Tommy John surgery he went through. It’s tough for pitchers to bounce back but hopefully for Arizona’s sake he returns to old form.
As for other bright spots you have Justin Upton and Mark Reynolds carrying the offensive workload in Arizona. Whether or not those two have a productive season will make or break whether or not the D’Backs can win more then 75 games. They play in a weak division and can be contenders for a good portion of the season but there are too many questions with this team as they enter the season. I don’t see much improvement from happening in Arizona this season.
5. San Diego Padres
What is there to say about this team? They are in a rebuilding stage of their franchise after being a decent ball club for the most part of the past decade and even in the late 90’s. The days of Tony Gwynn and Steve Finley are completely past them.
The Padres dealt (as expected) former ace Jake Peavy last season to Chicago basically setting up the start of a rebuilding era in San Diego. To be honest with you I believe that is a good move for the Padres as they are now only a couple years behind teams like San Francisco & Arizona when it comes to youth movements. There comes a time for many franchises where you basically have to throw out a year to get ready for the next season and when a team doesn’t necessarily have a great payroll they have to do youth movements such as this.
San Diego Padres fans know what they are going to get out of their team this season and that’s not really much. It’s a young a team, a young lineup and a young rotation. If the stars align and this team continues to learn/grow over time then years like 2010 for the Padres will pay off in the end.
Not much to predict out of the Padres this season a 60-65 win season will be in order and the likely hood of trading all-star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez will most likely this happen in San Diego. Management is in the process of flipping the team around to continue improving for years to come and you can’t blame a small market team to do that. It’s going to be quite a headache of season for fans of the Padres.
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