MLB: NL West turning into one of baseball’s best
For a while now, at least the past four to five years, the National League West seemed like a joke of a division. Even when the San Francisco Giants won the World Series in 2010, the division was still considered extremely weak from top to bottom. Now the Giants of course are coming off another championship, the Los Angeles Dodgers have loaded new ownership, the Arizona Diamondbacks still have a strong farm system with riches of young pitching coming up the ranks, the San Diego Padres under new ownership have some more flexibility financially to play with as well as a much strong farm system and the Colorado Rockies, while clearly the worst of the bunch on paper, do have some extremely good young talent.
While we still have a ways to go in the offseason for more trades/free agent signings, the NL West should feature four very competitive clubs in 2013. (Sorry Rockies fans, but it’s just not your time yet).
The defending champs will have basically the same team they had in 2012 and if star pitcher Tim Lincecum can get back on track, they’ll have an even better pitching staff in 2013. Reigning NL MVP Buster Posey is young and should only get better, but at the worst should not see any decline for a long, long time.
The Dodgers made a ton moves during the 2012 season, but at the end they didn’t pay off in the short term. That being said, with a full spring training to gain chemistry and the health of star Matt Kemp, the team should be much better in 2013. Now you add the fact that they have revamped their starting pitching staff with the signings of Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu, you see a team that on paper is perhaps the favorite, but we still need to give respect to the Giants. It would not be a shock to anyone if both the Giants and Dodgers make the playoffs in 2013.
The Diamondbacks won the division in 2011 and looked to be on the verge of great things to come. In 2012 the club struggled and failed to qualify for postseason play. This is still a team with a young core and tons of talented young pitchers making their way onto the big league roster. Sometimes you see young teams overachieve a bit, then they come down the next season only to get back on track the following year. That might be the case with this club. If Ian Kennedy returns to form and can lead the starting staff as he did in 2011, then the Diamondbacks should remain in contention all season long. The club should also get a nice haul for outfielder Justin Upton, if they do trade him. If he is a Diamondback next season and can bounce back to his 2011 form, then that will be a huge lift.
The Padres, now under new ownership, are still actively looking to add another starting pitcher before spring training. If they can add one more quality starter that will be a big step towards improvement. While the Padres probably won’t be at the level of the Giants, Dodgers and Diamondbacks quite yet, with a much improved farm system they will be a team to watch for in the not too distant future.
The Rockies have some nice young pieces and a healthy Troy Tulowitzki will help. Despite that, this team is still a few years away from contending and fielding a truly competitive club.