MLB Preview: Taking a Closer Look at the NL West

Austin ChristensenContributor IIJanuary 24, 2013

MLB Preview: Taking a Closer Look at the NL West

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    The National League West is known for a great rivalry, some really good talent and excellent weather. This year the division looks to be as exciting as ever with some new talent, new ownership, new managers and the defending Major League Baseball champions.  

    Let's take a look at what we can expect from each team in the NL West.  

Colorado Rockies

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    Key additions: RHP Manny Corpas, Manager Walt Weiss

    Key losses: P Jonathan Sanchez, Manager Jim Tracy, Jason Giambi

    What to expect: Not much. Unfortunately for Rockies fans, this roster is eerily similar to that of yesteryear.  Last year the Rockies finished 34 games below .500 and they probably won't improve much, if at all, this season.  The "Mile High City" hasn't seen a decent ballclub since the pummeling they took from the Red Sox in the World Series in '07.

    Sadly, this doesn't appear to be the year that things will change for the better in Denver.  

San Diego Padres

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    Key additions: 3B Cody Ransom

    Key losses: SP Tim Stauffer

    What to expect: The Padres are another team that hasn't made a lot of changes coming into the new year.  They've called up a slew of players from their minor league system in hopes of rejuvenating the team, but I just don't see the Padres being a serious contender in the division this year.  2010 NL Manager of the Year Bud Black has his work cut out for him, but his squad does have some young talent on it.  

    The Padres very well could be a surprise team in the West.  I, however, expect them to be hovering right around .500 this season.  

Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Key additions: RF Brad Snyder, SS Cliff Pennington, RHP Garrett Mock

    Key losses: RP Matt Lindstrom, RP Takashi Saito

    What to expect: Diamondbacks fans certainly aren't happy with last season's .500 play after making the playoffs in 2011.  With GM Kevin Towers shopping two-time All-Star Justin Upton, it's tough to say who the face of the franchise will be.  The Diamondbacks have a lot of talent and very well could make a run at being one of the top two teams in the division. 

    With former Dodger Kirk Gibson at the reins, the Diamondbacks could be bringing playoff baseball back to the desert.  

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Key additions: Too many to list

    Key losses: P Todd Coffey, 3B Adam Kennedy, 1B  Juan Rivera, OF Bobby Abreu, OF Shane Victorino

    What to expect: Winning baseball appears to be back in Dodgertown.  If Matt Kemp can stay healthy and regain his 2011 form, the Dodgers will definitely compete, if not win the NL West.  Even if Kemp doesn't recover his form they'll still compete.

    Magic Johnson and Co. haven't been shy opening their wallets and spending the money that they believe will turn this team into a winner.  The Dodgers probably have the best hitting outfield in the majors with Kemp, Carl Crawford coming back from injury and Andre Ethier. There shouldn't be a shortage of high batting averages and RBI at Dodger Stadium this year. 

    The Dodgers are probably the best team in the majors, on paper.  With a bolstered pitching staff and what appears to be one of the more dangerous hitting lineups in the major leagues, Chavez Ravine could be hoisting division, or even National League Championship banners once again.  

San Francisco Giants

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    Key additions: P Scott Proctor, P Mason Tobin, 2B Kensuke Tanaka

    Key losses: 1B Aubrey Huff, P Brian Wilson, 2B Freddy Sanchez

    What to expect: I think it's safe to say that it's hard to follow a 94-win, World Series Championship season in which they won the division by eight games.  The Giants have fallen off a little bit, but not so much that fans should truly be worried about them.  They've been able to keep their core of Tim Lincecum, Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval and Barry Zito, and definitely should be competing for a playoff spot come September. 

    Don't expect them to repeat.  Expect them to be competing for a wild-card spot and perhaps a surprise upset in October.