How the NL West Can Be Won...If You Can Call it That

Phillip KernContributor IJuly 7, 2008

I honestly can't help but cringe when I look at the NL West standings these days.

A division that was intriguing because of the pitching has turned into the laughing stock of baseball. There can even be giggles heard out of Tampa Bay, which nearly became the new home of one of the NL West's teams.

At this point, it is time for one of those midseason checkpoints on where they stand and where they might go. Of course, this is all contingent on how the division race shakes up.  

Let's just hope the division winner at least gets to .500.

Arizona Diamondbacks

This was the trendy pick to not only win the division but also to be a dark horse candidate for the NL pennant. The pitching combination of Brandon Webb and Dan Haren, along with a young but rapidly maturing lineup, was going to help their case.  

After a hot start in April, the team has crashed back to earth, and their inexperience is definitely starting to show. I have no doubt that this team will be good for many years to come, but if they are going to get anywhere now, they have to hope that guys such as Chris Young, Justin Upton, Mark Reynolds, and Conor Jackson can grow up on a faster scale than they are now.

Los Angeles Dodgers

I believed the hiring of Joe Torre was going to make a big difference for the Dodgers, but Torre quickly realized that he wasn't in New York anymore by looking at the names he is forced to put in his lineup everyday.  

The bats lack serious punch, and that leaves their pitching staff very little room for error. GM Ned Colletti had better be on the market for a power bat, and there are plenty of them available, ranging from Adam Dunn to Mark Teixeira, and even Matt Holliday (although a trade between division rivals is about the equivalent to a flying pig).  

This is just another case of youngsters needing to grow up fast to give them hope. Someone send the memo to Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, James Loney, and others.

San Francisco Giants

If you had predicted that this Giants club would be within striking distance of the division at this point in the season, raise your hand? Anyone?  

Thought so. Even I am surprised at where the Giants stand at this point in the season.  

This is an interesting team to watch, for a couple of reasons. First, it looks as if Zito maybe turning the corner and starting to somewhat live up to that monstrous contract.  

Secondly, don't discount Brian Sabean from making a move. If the team is still within striking distance when the trade deadline hits, he might get the itch to acquire a power bat. Because let's face it, when Bengie Molina is your cleanup hitter, even if he is doing well, your offense needs some help.

San Diego Padres

Heading into the season, no one on the roster not named Jake Peavy, Trevor Hoffman, or Adrian Gonzalez impressed me very much. This franchise has suffered through some very poor drafts in recent years.  

While we're on the subject, does anybody have a Matt Bush sighting within the organization? Since being the No. 1 overall pick in 2004, his 15 minutes of fame have come and gone. I would expect this team to be sellers at the deadline, and they need prospects badly. The farm system is as bare as Old Mother Hubbard's cupboard right now.

Colorado Rockies

This team really made me sad, because they have proved that the major hot streak they rode to the NL pennant last year was nothing more than just a typical hot streak at the right time.  

It wasn't the best team that won the NL pennant, just the hottest one at the time, and it was proven as such with Boston's authoritative sweep in the World Series.  

They do have promising players such as Troy Tulowitzki and Garrett Atkins, but Holliday (as mentioned before) could be had for the taking. How imposing would that Tampa Bay lineup look with him there? Not that I've heard anything...just a hypothetical, that's all.

Now, for my one question: Will the real division winner please separate yourself from the crowd and play some real baseball? You don't even have to be a World Series contender, just make sure you win at least 81 games, ok?  

That's not too much to ask, but then again, maybe it is for this bunch of teams.