MLB 2009 Division-by-Division Preview, Pt. 6: NL West

Austin DrakeSenior Analyst IFebruary 20, 2009

National League West Division 2009 Breakdown 
No. 6 of 7


1. Los Angeles Dodgers

Key Addition(s): Mark Loretta and Guillermo Mota 
Key Loss(s): Manny Ramirez, Derek Lowe, Takashi Saito and Brad Penny 
Offseason Grade: D+ 
Projected Lineup
Rafael Furcal SS 
Andre Ethier RF 
Russell Martin C 
James Loney 1B 
Matt Kemp LF 
Casey Blake 3B 
Blake DeWitt 2B
Juan Pierre CF 
Key Backups: Mark Loretta and Delwyn Young 
Top Pitchers
SP: Chad Billingsley 
SP: Hiroki Kuroda 
SP: Clayton Kershaw

RP: Bobby Wade 
SU: Guillermo Mota 
CL: Jonathon Broxton

Young Player to Keep an Eye On: James McDonald, P

Notes: What a tragic winter for the Dodgers. Los Angeles lost huge players to last season’s success and added declining second baseman Loretta and up and down late-inning reliever, Guillermo Mota.

Unless the Dodgers can bring Manny Ramirez back, this offseason will be a scary one for L.A. fans. 

Rafael Furcal is back to full strength and will add the consistent speed back to the top of order. With the departure of Manny Ramirez the lineup loses the fearful power hitter dimension.

Russell Martin will not disappoint, as what I think is the best catcher in the league. Martin’s bat added to his glove and arm will give him a chance to win a silver slugger or a gold glove behind the plate. 

After losing Derek Lowe and Brad Penny it will be time to act for Chad Billingsley. He will move from the three starter all the way to the ace. The youngster, Clayton Kershaw who was the fifth or odd man out starter last season, will bounce up to the three spot.

Takashi Saito left the Dodgers for the Red Sox and now Los Angeles is left without a solid late inning reliever, other then Broxton who will take over closer duties. 
2. Arizona Diamonbacks 

Key Addition(s): Jon Garland, Tom Gordon and Felipe Lopez 
Key Loss(s): Adam Dunn, Brandon Lyon, Randy Johnson and Chris Burke 
Offseason Grade: C+ 
Projected Lineup
Chris Young CF 
Stephen Drew SS 
Justin Upton RF
Connor Jackson 1B 
Mark Reynolds 3B 
Eric Byrnes LF 
Chris Snyder C
Felipe Lopez 2B
Key Backups: Augie Ojeda and Chad Tracy 
Top Pitchers
SP: Brandon Webb 
SP: Dan Haren 
SP: Jon Garland

RP: Chad Qualls 
SU: John Rauch 
CL: Tom Gordon

Young Player to Keep an Eye On: James Skelton, C

Notes: Well the Diamondbacks added another top of the rotation starter to the their roster. Jon Garland mixed with Haren and Webb will be even more scary then last season’s dynamic duo, hard to believe.

Arizona needed an established closer and getting Tom Gordon wasn’t their No. 1 option, but may be an upgrade from Brandon Lyon. 

The loss of Adam Dunn may hurt the Diamondbacks in the long run in the deep ball category, but for the most part, this lineup has some chemistry. If Justin Upton could live up to the hype this season at the plate, Arizona is in a good position to win the Wild Card, if not the division. 

I don’t need to say much about the starting rotation, as it may be one of the best in the Majors. The bullpen may struggle a bit though. John Rauch who came over at the trade deadline last season from the Nationals, may be the closer towards the end of the season.

Other options at closer could be Chad Qualls who used to close out games for Houston and Tony Pena who has some experience in Arizona. 


3. San Francisco Giants 

Key Addition(s): Edgar Renteria, Juan Uribe, Randy Johnson and Jeremy Affeldt 
Key Loss(s): Jose Castillo 
Offseason Grade: B+  
Projected Lineup
Randy Wynn RF
Edgar Renteria SS 
Bengie Molina C 
Aaron Rowand CF 
Fred Lewis LF 
Travis Ishikawa 1B 
Pablo Sandavol 3B 
Juan Uribe 2B 
Key Backups: John Bowker and Kevin Frandsen 
Top Pitchers
SP: Tim Lincecum 
SP: Randy Johnson 
SP: Matt Cain

RP: Jeremy Affeldt 
SU: Bob Howry 
CL: Brian Wilson

Young Player to Keep an Eye On:
Buster Posey, C
Notes: A fury or news swirled around this team all offseason. From drawing interest in Mark Teixeira to also looking at Manny Ramirez. The moves San Francisco made, were not the best, but did fit well with the limited money aspect.

Adding future hall-of-famer Randy Johnson to support last season’s Cy Young winner, Tim Lincecum was a great move. While also making sure the middle infield had experience the Giants snagged veteran, free agents Edgar Renteria and Juan Uribe. 

This lineup is a mix of either veterans or players you may have never heard of. Aaron Rowand didn’t exactly thrive in San Francisco his first season, hitting .271 and 13 home runs as the Giants clean up hitter.

Bengie Molina will provide a bit of pop as always, but if he goes down with an injury, keep your eyes peeled for Buster Posey who has made his way to Major League level quite quickly. 

They Giants may have the most dominant pitcher in the game with Tim “The Freak” Lincecum, but also have some role playing type starters. Matt Cain, Noah Lowry and Jonathon Sanchez combined for a 31-34 record last season, but any of them could be 15-game winners any given season.

The back end of the bullpen is anchored down by all-star, Brian Wilson, who finished last season with 41 saves. 

4. Colorado Rockies 

Key Addition(s): Jason Marquis, Huston Street, Carlos Gonzalez and Greg Smith 
Key Loss(s): Willy Taveras, Brian Fuentes and Matt Holliday 
Offseason Grade: B-  
Projected Lineup
Carlos Gonzalez CF 
Troy Tulowitzki SS
Garrett Atkins 3B
Todd Helton 1B 
Brad Hawpe RF 
Yorvit Torrealba C 
Ian Stewart 2B
Matt Murton LF 
Key Backups: Chris Iannetta and Jeff Baker 
Top Pitchers
SP: Aaron Cook 
SP: Jeff Francis 
SP: Ubaldo Jimenez

RP: Jason Grilli 
SU: Manny Corpras 
CL: Huston Street

Young Player to Keep an Eye On: Dexter Fowler, OF

Notes: A big offseason trade could pay dividends for this team, or it could hurt them bad. The Rockies sent Matt Holliday to the Athletics for Carlos Gonzalez, Huston Street and Greg Smith.

The loss of the perennial power hitter could hurt them, but the youth movement in the outfield and the rotation could also help. 

The loss of Willy Taveras in center won’t come as much as a disappointment as some may think. Carlos Gonzalez has raw skill at an age of only 23. In his 77 hits last season, 27 were extra base worthy and was four for five in stolen base attempts.

In Colorado, were the ball stays in the air a little longer, expect this kid to thrive playing center, where he will get to nearly everything. The minimal addition of Matt Murton also helps this lineup, as it gives a chance for Ryan Spilborghs, a career .302 hitter to either come off the bench or start. 

Aaron Cook surprised plenty of people last season, with an all-star bid and a 16-9 record. Other then that, the Rockies pitching staff wasn’t proud of much. Ubaldo Jimenez had to fight to get a 12-12 record and former closer, Brian Fuentes, is now with the Angels.

After a bad ending in Detroit, Jason Grilli came to the Rockies and posted a 2.93 ERA in 60+ innings of work and looks to be solid for them again this season.

5. San Diego Padres 

Key Addition(s): David Eckstein, Cliff Floyd and Chris Burke 
Key Loss(s): Khalil Greene and Clay Hensley 
Offseason Grade: C+ 
Projected Lineup
David Eckstein SS 
Edgar Gonzalez 2B 
Brian Giles RF 
Adrian Gonzalez 1B 
Cliff Floyd LF 
Kevin Kouzmanoff 3B 
Nick Hundley C 
Jody Gerut CF 
Key Backups: Scott Hairston and Chase Headley 
Top Pitchers
SP: Jake Peavy 
SP: Chris Young 
SP: Cha-Seung Baek

RP: Cla Meredith 
SU: Chris Britton 
CL: Heath Bell

Young Player to Keep an Eye On: Ernesto Frieri, P

Notes: This was a sad team last season and look to be once again in 2009. Minimal off-season moves will have them battling to dig out of the cellar. The chance to trade Jake Peavy was the best thing to happy to the Padres in years, but they did not jump at the opportunity to pick up multiple talented players, for one.

David Eckstein is a small upgrade for Khalil Greene at short and Cliff Floyd will add some power along with Adrian Gonzalez. 

The Gonzalez brothers are the two bright spots in this less then impressive 2009 Padres lineup. With Brian Giles rapidly declining and Kevin Kouzmanoff and Chase Headley not quite there yet it could be a long season for So Cal Padre fans.  

Jake Peavy will be solid, if the Padres decide to keep him around, expect 20+ wins from him. Chris Young will have to stay healthy to make any type of impact for San Diego.

Boy, oh boy, does this bullpen need some help. When Cla Meredith, Chris Britton and Heath Bell are your top relievers in time to call in for help. As of now, there are seven rookies listed in the pitching staff on San Diego’s 40-man roster.


Next up…MLB Awards and Postseason 


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