Justin Upton Trade Means NL West Race Down to 2 Horses

Austin ChristensenContributor IIJanuary 31, 2013

Justin Upton Trade Means NL West Race Down to 2 Horses

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    The National League West was shaken up last week when news broke that former Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton had been sent to the Atlanta Braves in a seven-player deal which included former All-Star infielder Martin Prado.  

    With the Diamondbacks finally getting rid of the younger Upton brother, a move that hurts their offense, it's time for fans in the desert to face the music. The Diamondbacks probably won't be competing for a division title this year.  

    Sorry. 

    Padres and Rockies fans shouldn't be getting their hopes up, either.  

    It's pretty clear that there are two teams in the West who are head-and-shoulders above the rest, on paper.

    How can I be so sure? Let's take a look. 

Padres and Rockies

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    Let's be realistic here. Neither of these teams is that good. Neither of these teams made any additions to their rosters in the offseason to make them any better, either.  

    If either of these teams finishes above .500, I think we would all be surprised. They don't have the talent or the depth to do any serious damage in the division this year. The Rockies are getting old and the Padres made no significant changes to a team that finished below .500.  

    Sorry, San Diego and Colorado fans, 2013 isn't going to be your year.  

Diamondbacks

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    Afters years of trying to trade their star outfielder Justin Upton, the Diamondbacks, one of the best hitting teams in the National League, finally got rid of him. Are they better for it, though?

    The main piece they got in the Upton trade was Martin Prado, a contact hitter who's known more for his flashy glove than his bat. Prado, a former All-Star, is very talented but he's not going to be enough to replace the offensive production of Upton.

    If the Diamondbacks could only finish third place in a less talented 2012 division with Upton, they certainly can't do any better in a top-heavy NL West without him.  

Giants

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    The San Francisco Giants have kept their main core of players from 2012's World Series-winning team. With Buster Posey, Tim Lincecum, Pablo Sandoval and Barry Zito all returning, the Giants are poised to make another run at the division title.  

    Although the Giants didn't make any major offseason acquisitions, they still have the pieces in place to cause some problems at the top of the division standings.  

    A repeat of a 94-win regular season and a World Series sweep is tough to repeat. Don't put it past the Giants, though. They might just surprise us again. 

Dodgers

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    Look at the Dodgers' batting order. Now look at their pitching rotation. Now look at those of the other teams in the division. 

    Can you honestly tell me that you don't expect the Dodgers to be in the postseason? Let me answer that for you.

    No. 

    The Dodgers have one of the best lineups, not only in the division or the National League, but in all of the majors. They'll have a full season with new additions Josh Beckett, Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. The team from Chavez Ravine will certainly be advancing far in many of the "experts'" playoff predictions. 

The Dodgers Will Win the Division

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    If the Dodgers can stay healthy, it will certainly be time for Dodger baseball in the 2013 installment of the MLB playoffs. 

    The Giants appear to be the only ones, on paper, who can give the Dodgers a run for their money in the division. But the Dodgers' depth and talent should be enough for them to win the division, this year.

    If the Dodgers stay healthy and still don't win the division, it should go down as one of the worst investments in MLB history. Magic Johnson and company have opened their wallets wide, and they expect their team to win.  

    Dodgers win the NL West in 2013.