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While there isn’t a lot of offensive firepower in the National League’s Western division, there’s plenty of pitching. And as the old saying goes, “Pitching and defense wins championships.” Because no team is extremely well-rounded, whoever comes out of this division probably won’t win the World Series or even travel deep into the postseason. However, this race features a lot of evenly talented teams, and that parity will make for an interesting race into October.

Los Angeles Dodgers
The Reason for Hope: Last year, the Dodgers’ starting rotation was both deep and talented. And then general manager Ned Colletti went out and added Jason Schmidt, a power pitcher who adds even more to this starting rotation. There’s just too much talent in their starting five, along with potential starter Chad Billingsley and the injured Hong-Chih Kuo.

The Cause for Concern: For much of the recent past, offense has been a problem for the Dodgers. Now that JD Drew, the team’s leading home run hitter last year, left town for more money, the problem has become even more exacerbated. The Dodgers don’t boast a cleanup hitter that isn’t past his prime or years from it.

Prediction: 1st place, with 91 wins

San Diego Padres
The Reason for Hope: The Padres feature the best starting pitcher in the division in Jake Peavy. Sure, his ERA was a little high last year, but check out his strikeout numbers. He’ll regain his 2005 form. After him, Chris Young features no hit stuff, while Greg Maddux and David Wells are good for a lot of quality innings.

The Cause for Concern: Who is going to provide the offense? Mike Cameron and Adrian Gonzalez can provide 60 homers combined, but there’s got to be more pop somewhere. If Brian Giles regains his power stroke and Marcus Giles learns how to lead off, then this ballclub will be all right.

Prediction: 2nd place, with 89 wins

Arizona Diamondbacks
The Reason for Hope: Their starting rotation features four guys who were Opening Day starters for their respective teams last season: Brandon Webb (Diamondbacks), Randy Johnson (Yankees), Doug Davis (Brewers), and Livan Hernandez (Nationals). The four above guys could combine for 800 innings, which take a lot of stress off the number five spot and bullpen.

The Cause for Concern: The Diamondbacks are in a unique position where they can contend while featuring a ton of young players. Only Orlando Hudson, Eric Byrnes, and Chad Tracy have spent more than two years in the major leagues and are starting. With this many youngsters, expect a roller coaster ride for the Diamondbacks.

Prediction: 3rd place, with 85 wins

Colorado Rockies
The Reason for Hope: There’s a ton of great talent here, with left fielder Matt Holliday (.326/34/114), third baseman Garrett Atkins (.329/29/120), and right fielder Brad Hawpe (.293/22/84). On the pitching side, Jeff Francis (4.16 ERA in 199 IP) and Aaron Cook (4.23 ERA in 212.2 IP) are both standouts.

The Cause for Concern: The Rockies lack depth. Outside of Holliday, Atkins, and Hawpe, Todd Helton is the only other hitter who can contribute much. The rotation has a few journeymen types, and closer Brian Fuentes is the only reliever many teams would love to have.

Prediction: 4th place, with 82 wins

San Francisco Giants
The Reason for Hope: There shouldn’t be much hope for this season, but the future is looking really, really bright. Right handers Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum and left handers Barry Zito and Noah Lowry will form the core of a strong rotation in two or three years. Throw in Brian Wilson as the closer, and this is looking like a respectable team in 2010.

The Cause for Concern: The Giants are an ancient team as currently constructed, one that can only be measured utilizing carbon dating. The youngest starter, third baseman Pedro Feliz, is 31. There are four players in the everyday lineup older than 35. If things weren’t bad enough, the farm system is years away from producing a legitimate position playing prospect.

Prediction: 5th place, with 76 wins