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2015 MLB preview: the NL West

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With the regular season not even two weeks away, let’s take a look around the rest of MLB, starting with the home of the reigning champion, the NL West.

The best player in the NL West, Clayton Kershaw
The best player in the NL West, Clayton Kershaw
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles ended up winning this division, but it was no easy task as in early June they were 10 games off the pace. Bu they had made up the ground by the Fourth of July and with a finishing kick of 17-6 in September, they ended up winning the division by 6 games. With the San Diego Padres, Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks not putting up much a fight, that left the Dodgers hated rival, the San Francisco Giants to duel with.

The Giants had a hot start, including a 20-9 May. But a poor June and July left them 2.5 out. But as the Dodgers continued to heat up, the Giants couldn't match them. But they did have just enough to qualify as the Wild Card at 88-74. They won that game in Pittsburgh and then beat the Washington Nationals three games to one. After also taking down the St. Louis Cardinals in five games, they won their third title in five years in a classic seven game World Series against the Kansas City Royals.

Arizona Diamondbacks (64-98, 5th)

Key Losses: Didi Gregorius (SS), Miguel Montero (C), Wade Miley (SP), Eury De La Rosa (RP), Zeke Spruill (RP)

Key Adds: Yasmany Tomas (LF), Jeremy Hellickson (SP), Robbie Ray (SP), Rubby De La Rosa (SP), Allen Webster (SP)

Injuries: Bronson Arroyo (SP), Patrick Corbin (SP), Oscar Hernandez (C), David Hernandez (RP), Matthew Stites (RP)

Projected Position Players: Tuffy Gosewisch, Paul Goldschmidt, Aaron Hill, Chris Owings, Tomas, David Peralta, A.J. Pollock, Mark Trumbo

Projected Rotation: Josh Collmenter, Hellickson, R. De La Rosa, Webster, Trevor Cahill, Chase Anderson

Projected Fire Squad: Addison Reed, Brad Ziegler, Oliver Perez, Evan Marshall

After back to back 0.500 finishes, the Diamondbacks were looking to get back to the playoffs. But a few poor decisions by general manager Kevin Towers finally came back to roost as they finished in the back of the pack in fifth place, and the worst record in the National League. Former pitching standout Dave Stewart is now in charge and the offseason moves he made were somewhat a mixed bag.

The decision to punt on Gregorius was understandable, but the loss of Miley will hurt. Tomas will be an excellent pickup, but unless Ray and De La Rosa pan out, this rotation isn't going anywhere. The offense is still poor as well, Goldschmidt notwithstanding. I would not foresee much improvement, if at all. It might get worse before it gets better. I'll call for a 100 loss season at 61-101. ZIPS has a lot more faith than I do as they project a 75-87 record.

Colorado Rockies (66-96, 4th)

Key Losses: Matt Belisle (RP), Michael Cuddyer (OF), Franklin Morales (SP), Juan Nicasio (SP/RP), Josh Rutledge (SS)

Key Adds: Jair Jurrjens (SP), Nick Hundley (C), Kyle Kendrick (SP)

Injuries: Tyler Chatwood (SP)

Projected Position Players: Hundley, Justin Morneau, D.J. LeMahieu, Troy Tulowitzki, Nolen Arenado, Corey Dickerson, Charlie Blackmon, Carlos Gonzalez

Projected Rotation: Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin, Kendrick, Jordan Lyles, Tyler Matzek

Projected Fire Squad: LaTroy Hawkins, Boone Logan, Tommy Kahnle, Adam Ottavino

The Rockies are another team that has been meandering for a while. They haven't made the playoffs since 2009 and their last winning record was in 2010. After the season Dan O'Dowd stepped down, with Jeff Bridich taking over.

Bridich didn't do a whole lot this offseason. Letting Cuddyer move on was the right decision as the offense still looks potent with Arenado, Tulowitzki and Gonzalez. But until some Rockie GM figures out the pitching at a mile high above sea level, this is still going to be a hard team to watch on the pitching side. Jerrjens might be ok, but I don't see how Kendrick fits in that park. I'll allow for a slight bump and call for a 69-93 finish. ZIPS again is a bit more bullish, with the Rockies at 75-87.

San Diego Padres (77-85, 3rd)

Key Losses: Eric Stults (SP), Blaine Boyer (RP), Everth Cabrera (SS), Yasmani Grandal (UT), Jesse Hahn (SP), Rene Rivera (C), Seth Smith (LF)

Key Adds: Clint Barmes (IF), Matt Kemp (RF), Derek Norris (C), Brandon Morrow (SP), Wil Myers (CF), Will Middlebrooks (3B), Justin Upton (LF), James Shields (SP)

Injuries: Tim Federowicz (C), Josh Johnson (SP), Cory Luebke (SP)

Projected Position Players: Norris, Yondor Alonso, Jedd Gyorko, Alexi Amarista, Yangervis Solarte, Upton, Myers, Kemp

Projected Rotation: Shields, Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, Ian Kennedy, Morrow

Projected Fire Squad: Joaquin Benoit, Kevin Quackenbush, Alex Torres, Nick Vincent

And now we come to the most active team this offseason, the Padres. The Padres fired GM Josh Byrnes last summer and A.J. Preller took over in August. Taking noted form Trader Jack McKeon, Preller embarked on a roster overhaul not seen in many decades. They replaced the entire outfield, most of the bench and two-fifths of the rotation.

The changes in the outfield will help the offense, which has been extremely poor the past few years. But none of the new stating outfielders is that good defensively and could rival last year's Tribe outfield defensive numbers. Just based on the sheer number of changes, this team will take a couple months just to figure out who is who. I'll forecast a 74-88 finish. ZIPS loves the changes the Padres have made, with a 83-79 projection.

Los Angeles Dodgers (94-68, 1st)

Key Losses: Josh Beckett (SP), Chris Perez (RP), Kevin Correia (SP), Paul Maholm (RP), Hanley Ramirez (SS), Jamey Wright (RP), Drew Butera (C), Dee Gordon (2B), Dan Haren (SP), Miguel Rojas (SS), Matt Kemp (OF)

Key Adds: Juan Nicasio (RP), Chris Heisey (OF), Howie Kendrick (2B), Brandon McCarthy (SP), Yasmani Grandal (C), Jimmy Rollins (SS), Brett Anderson (SP), RP Joel Peralta

Injuries: Brandon Beachy (SP), Jensen, Brandon League (RP), Ryu, Chris Withrow (RP)

Projected Position Players: Grandal, Adrian Gonzalez, Kendrick, Rollins, Juan Uribe, Carl Crawford, Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig

Projected Rotation: Clayton Kershaw, Zach Greinke, Hyun-jin Ryu, McCarthy, Anderson

Projected Fire Squad: Kenley Jansen, Nicasio, Peralta, Paco Rodriguez

For a team that won the division by 6 games, the Dodgers and GM Ned Colletti sure approached this offseason way different than most playoff teams. Not looking to stand pat and find that missing piece or two, Colletti made almost, if not more, as many moves that the Padres did. Of course, when money is no object, a team can afford to do that.

Instead of revamping the outfield, he aimed to reconfigure the lineup. In came Grandal, Kendrick and Rollins. He also picked up two excellent starters in MCCarthy and Anderson to make one of the deeper rotations in baseball. With the weakness of the other teams already mentioned, the Dodgers should breeze into playoffs this season. I'll predict a 99-63 finish. ZIPS this team is a bit less enthusiastic. They have them in first, but with just a 90-72 record.

San Francisco Giants (88-74, 2nd, Wild Card, World Series Champs)

Key Losses: Brandon Hicks (2B), Mike Morse (LF), Pablo Sandoval (3B)

Key Adds: Casey McGehee (3B), Nori Aoki (LF)

Injuries: Hunter Pence (RF)

Projected Position Players: Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Joe Panik, Brandon Crawford, McGehee, Aoki, Angel Pagan, Gregor Blanco

Projected Rotation: Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Tim Hudson, Jake Peavy, Tim Lincecum, Ryan Vogelsong

Projected Fire Squad: Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo, Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez

And finally, we come to the World Champs. GM Brian Sabean is obviously doing something right, winning three rings in five seasons. But oddly enough, the years in between each of those titles, the Giants have struggled. This offseason, the Giants spent most of their time resigning their own free agents. Peavy, Romo and Vogelsong all re-upped.

But the swap of Sandoval to McGehee will be interesting to watch. I think Sandoval is on his downside of his career, but will still be productive this year and next. However, I have little faith McGehee can produce better numbers. And the wap of Morse to Aoki is another move that on the surface makes little sense to me. The Giants season wil hinge on whether or not the rotation can hold up. Will Bumgarner's arm fall off after a huge number of innings? In any case, I think the on/off pattern continues and the Giants slump down to 83-79. ZIPZ has them as a 0.500 squad at 81-81.

Conclusion:

As noted above, I think the Dodgers walk into playoffs this year with just the Giants breaking on the positive ledger. The Padres, Rockies and Diamondbacks all battle it out for third, but I think the Diamondbacks repeat as one of the worst three teams in the NL.

So what say you? Put your rankings below.