Regular Articles

At this point in the season, this is a wide open division with everyone but the Giants in the mix.  While the Dodgers and the Padres have to be the favorites the D’backs are contenders and the Rockies, though a longshot can’t be dismissed.  

San Diego Padres 

Why the Padres are worried:  This division is still very much in the air.  Not only are the Dodgers just percentage points behind in the standings but the Rockies and Diamondbacks can’t be written off - and the upcoming trading deadline could give any one of these teams a boost which could unseat the Pads. 

Secondary reason:  The Padres offense is struggling mightily, ranking 13th out of the 16 teams in the National League in runs scored. 

Why the Padres shouldn’t Worry:  They do boast the best pitching in the National League - and between the home field advantage of the best pitchers park in the Majors and a rotation featuring Jake Peavy, Chris Young, David Wells and Gregg Maddux they’ve got a solid mix of veterans and young arms.  They’ve also got Trevor Hoffman waiting in the bullpen to close the deal. 

What the Padres SHOULD do at the trading deadline:  The Padres needed a bat pure and simple and they think they may have found that on the cheap in Milton Bradley.  That being said they probably will keep an eye on the trade market looking for an upgrade which won’t cost them too much in terms of young talent.  More than likely the Padres will take a look at veteran sluggers like Reggie Sanders or Jermaine Dye.  But the deal they really need is one which would add a slugging batter who can provide a focus for the next several years - the best out there might be Ken Griffey Jr.   

What the Padres are likely to do:  Odds are the Padres are going to sit tight. 

 

LOS ANGELES DODGERS


Why the Dodgers think they can win the Division:  The Dodgers are a team loaded with young emerging talent and a very solid core of veterans to lead the way.  More improtanly they’ve been able to hang tough and keep things patched together thus far - leading to a belief that this could continue.  

A dose of reality:  The pitching looks great on paper ranking 4th in the NL but it’s deceptive.  After Brad Penny and Derek Lowe they are relying on Mark Hendrickson, Randy Wold and Brett Tomko to shoulder the starting duties - and it’s the bullpen who’s paying the real price.  The bullpen is so overworked that their very best relievers need to take time off during the playoff race.  This is a team running on the edge and without some help the wheels are going to come off.

What the Dodgers SHOULD do at the trading deadline:  .As much as the Dodgers need more quality relief pitching they need an inning eating starter who can throw 7-8 innings every fifth day.  Better yet they could use two and a solid middle reliver to shore up this team and strengthen the core. 

 What are the Dodgers likely to do:  A starting pitcher, especially a quality one is going to come with a high price tag so the Dodgers are likely to add bullpen arms - especially middle relief guys.  However a Chad Cordero or even Eric Gagne might fit in their plans. 

 

COLORADO ROCKIES

Why the Rockies think they can win the Division:  Clearly no one in this division is going to run away with it and the Rockies have hung surprisingly tough - especially at home.  The bats are there and with everyone in the division essentially treading water and a narrow gap in the standings it could take little more than a quick surge to push them to the top.  

 A dose of reality:  Colorado’s pitching is still in the bottom third of the National League statistically and the pitching staff enjoys much greater sucess at home than on the road - in fact only the Brewers have a better home record than the Rockies.  On the road however the Rockes have been a sub .500 team. 

What the Rockies SHOULD do at the trading deadline:  If they really believe they have a shot at the playoffs the Rockies need another quality starting pitcher - ideally a sinker baller that isn’t intimidated by the atmosphere. 

What are the Rockies likely to do:  The Rockies have a closer to trade and seeing Brian Fuentes or Manny Corpas shipped out for middling starting pitching is probably the most expected result.  However a better pitcher might be had via a three way deal involving Garret Atkins or Todd Helton might bring more in return.  But in reality I think that the Rockies’ management realizes the limitation of this years team and realizes that they have a core to build around.   

 

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

 Why the Diamondbacks think they can win the Division:  Roughly three and a half games back in a division which is mired in medocrity the D’Back aren’t by any means out of the hunt - especially if they can get some offense going. 

 A dose of reality:  The D’Backs are still in the mix for one reason and one reason only - that’s a pitching staff which is second only to the Padres within the division, and roughly on par with that of the Dodgers (4th and 5th overall).  As to the bats, well that’s a totally different story.  The hitting has been dreadful - ranking 14th in the NL in runs scored.(tied with the Padres) and better only than the Pirates and Nationals.  Their best hitter has been Eric Byrnes and his numbers (.308-14-52) have been good but not great.  The D’Backs NEED another big bat.  

What the Diamondbacks SHOULD do at the trading deadline:  The D’backs are in a very good place right now and they’ll have their pick of older hitters and hitters heading into free agency.  They shoulds be able to pick up one or two from the bargain bin.  Dmitri Young, Reggie Sanders and a couple of others should be on their radar.

What are the Diamondbacks likely to do:  Unless the D’Backs do a big fade in the next few days they are in a great position to make a real run at the title.  Odds are they’ll pick up one hitter and hope its enough.   

So, the big question…who will win the division?  And the answer is…whoever picks up the best offense.  I’m still leaning towards the Padres but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it were the DiamondBacks when the dust settles.