NL West Preview

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NL West Preview
As Giants fans, it's important that we accept that our team may not be quite as good as the Diamondbacks in 2008.

Or the Rockies.

Or the Padres.

Or even the Dodgers.

Of course, for all I know though, Aaron Rowand will hit 30 home runs, Ray Durham will revert to his career year numbers, and Kevin Frandsen will become the West Coast flavor of Dustin Pedroia.

I'm sorry to say though, these things will probably not happen.

It's a harsh reality to accept, but we can get through this.  Take a deep breath, relax, and just remember that we get to see Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum pitch.

Now that you're calmed down only your inevitable existential crisis, let's take a look at the Giants' co-West superiors:

Arizona Diamondbacks

Key Addition(s): Dan Haren SP, Chris Burke IF, Chad Qualls RP

Key Loss(es): Jose Valverde

Summary: With Brandon Webb and Dan Haren topping the rotation, the D-Backs have a rotation to be feared. With Eric Byrnes, Orlando Hudson, Conor Jackson, and future star Justin Upton, the offense has the potential to be a machine.  While they did sell the farm for Haren, it's still a young core of players with an efficient offense and bullpen, even without Jose Valverde.

Look For:  Justin Upton, alleged to be even more talented than his brother B.J., is poised for a breakout season. Look for him to make himself a big part of the D-Backs offense.  With his five-tool ability, it's hard to see him failing.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Key Addition(s): Andruw Jones OF, Hiroki Kuroda SP, Joe Torre (manager)

Key Loss(es): N/A

Summary:  The Dodgers managed to add necessary pieces to an already young team, while getting Andruw Jones for a relative bargain.  Even with Juan Pierre manning left field, this team still has Jones, Russell Martin, James Loney, and Matt Kemp on the offensive side, while Kuroda, Derek Lowe, and Brad Penny head the starting rotation.

Look For:  Breakout seasons from Matt Kemp and James Loney, both of which have shown flashes of 20-30 home run power.

Colorado Rockies

Key Addition(s): Luis Vizcaino RP

Key Loss(es): Kazuo Matsui 2B

Summary:  It'll be interesting to see if the Rockies World Series appearance was a fluke executed by an incredibly hot team, or a preview of things to come.  The rotation has strong young arms in Ubaldo Jimenez, Jeff Francis, and Franklin Morales, while the lineup still has Matt Holliday, which in and of itself is enough to carry a team.

Look For: Rookies Ian Stewart and Seth Smith to get some playing time at second base and the outfield.  Hitting at Coors Field, these two rooks will undoubtedly flourish.

San Diego Padres

Key Addition(s): Jim Edmonds OF, Tadahito Iguchi IF, Tony Clark 1B, Mark Prior SP, Randy Wolf SP

Key Loss(es): Mike Cameron OF, Milton Bradley OF, Scott Linebrink RP

Summary: With by far the most active offseason of any team in the West, the Padres have stocked up and low-risk high-reward veterans, featuring Mark Prior.  If Prior proves he can stay healthy, Peavy/Young/Prior will be the three-headed monster of the National League.  The offense remains to be a little on the weak side, with Adrian Gonzalez representing the only home run threat.

Look For: Rookie Chase Headley to get some playing time in the outfield.  Headley is a switch hitter with plus power, and could complement Gonzalez well in the home run department.

San Francisco Giants

Key Addition(s): Aaron Rowand OF, Scott Williamson RP

Key Loss(es): Barry Bonds OF, Pedro Feliz 3B, Ryan Klesko 1B

Summary: In an offseason where a complete overhaul was the only medicine for a crippled team, almost nothing was done in terms of the rebuilding effort.  Lastings Milledge was picked up for next to nothing by the Nationals, Morgan Ensberg went to the Yankees, and Dallas McPherson is getting a little over league minimum on the Marlins.  I really want this team to succeed, I do.  But I have a hard time seeing it happen with our current offense.

Look For: A miracle.

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