Home Field: Chase Field
2014: 64 – 98 · 5th NL West
O/U in 2015: 72.5 Wins · Under
What We Love:
- Paul Goldschmidt. Runner up for the NL MVP in 2014, Goldy was limited to a mere 109 games in 2014, thanks to a fractured left hand, but he still was able to hit .300/19/69 with a .938 OPS in 406 AB. With the 2015 season having the potential to be a very long and dismal one, Goldy could be one of the (few) bright spots in the desert this season.
- Power in the middle of the lineup. The duo of Goldschmidt and Trumbo have the power between them to hit a combined 70+ HR this season. That number could, and will go up when offseason addition, Yasmani Tomas, makes his debut in a D-Backs jersey.
- Quantity of Starting Pitching. The D-Backs will begin the season with a starting rotation of: Josh Collmenter, Jeremy Hellickson, Archie Bradley, Rubby De La Rosa and Chase Anderson. They also have Daniel Hudson, Allen Webster, Robbie Ray and Randall Delgado on the 40 man roster, all of whom can, and have started in their career. Meanwhile starters Patrick Corbin and Bronson Arroyo will open the season on the DL.
- Archie Bradley’s upside. D-Backs top prospect could have a big impact after an impressive showing in the Arizona Fall League and Spring Training.
- Tuffy Gosewich’s name. Throwback to the days when players were named Pud and Nap.
What We Hate:
- Catching situation. After trading incumbent catcher, Miguel Montero, to the Cubs in the offseason, the D-Backs will head into the 2015 season with the duo of Tuffy Gosewich and Jordan Pacheco splitting duties behind the dish. For their careers, Gosewich and Pacheco have played a combined 382 games in 8 combined seasons, with Pacheco (322 games) being the more experienced of the two. The D-Backs also have Oscar Hernandez in the minors, as well as veteran catcher, Gerald Laird. Laird was signed to a minor league deal in the offseason, but he will neither help nor harm this dearth of catching talent.
- Quality of Starting Pitching. Jeremy Hellickson has been average at best since winning the AL Rookie of the Year back in 2011 and will need to rebound from elbow surgery that cut his 2014 short. Josh Collmenter would be a mid rotation guy in the majority of other ML teams and highly touted pitching prospect, Archie Bradley, will be pitching in his first full season. In addition to Bradley, the rest of the rotation (De La Rosa and Anderson) are also pitching in their first full seasons in the majors. The other starters, who are opening the season in the minors (Delgado, Webster and Ray), also lack an abundance of major league experience. In addition to the inexperience, the D-Backs rotation has also been shrouded in questions about their durability. As mentioned above, Patrick Corbin and Bronson Arroyo will open the season on the DL, while Jeremy Hellickson will attempt to rebound from bone chip removal surgery on his pitching elbow. Daniel Hudson has also spent considerable time on the DL during his career.
- The Yasmany Tomas 3B experience. The D-Backs were hoping that their big free agent signing would be able 3B decent enough to allow his bat to be in their everyday lineup. That did not work as expected. Tomas looked lost at the hot corner during Spring Training and was sent to AAA to open the season to refine his defensive positioning. It was recently announced that Tomas will now primarily play RF at AAA.
Impact Player: 1B Paul Goldschmidt
Potential Breakout Candidate: SP Archie Bradley
Potential Bust Candidate: SP Jeremy Hellickson
Top Prospect: Archie Bradley · SP · MLB ETA: 2015
MLB.com Top 30 Prospects: http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2015?list=ari
Irrelevant Throwback Player: IF Augie Ojeda (2007-10)
Six Degrees of (Octavio) Dotel: Aaron Hill and Dotel were briefly teammates back in Toronto in 2011, before both were shipped out of town in separate trades.
Final Prediction: 5th NL West
Home Field: Coors Field
2014: 66 – 96 · 4th NL West
O/U in 2015: 70.5 · Over
What We Love:
- The Dynamic Duo of Cargo and Tulo. When healthy, these two are tops at their respective positions and among the best players in the game today. In fact, there are few teams that can offer the production that the Rockies get out of these two. It should be interesting to follow what happens with these two over the course of the season, as they are also two of the best trade chips in the game.
- Nolan Arenado’s glove. The Rockies 3B has won the NL Gold Glove for 3B in BOTH of his first two seasons. Here is a little glimpse of what he is capable of: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1jNUC4Vxcs
- Trio of young starters. 2014 rookie, Tyler Matzek, will be joined in the rotation by one of the Rockies top pitching prospects, Eddie Butler. Meanwhile in AAA, 2nd overall pick in 2013 and top pitching prospect, Jon Gray, should be up in Colorado at some point this season.
- Batting order could be sneaky good. The Rockies order for Opening Week: CF Charlie Blackmon, RF Carlos Gonzalez, SS Troy Tulowitzki, 1B Justin Morneau, 3B Nolan Arenado, LF Chris Dickerson, 2B DJ LeMahieu and C Nick Hundley.
What We Hate:
- Durability of Cargo and Tulo. Sure they are among the game’s elite players, but they are also among the game’s most injury prone. Both Cargo and Tulo have spent lengthy trips on the DL FOUR times in their careers. Seeing as both players play a very physical, all out style of play, it’s hard not to believe that that DL number is only going to rise.
- End of an Era? There is also the possibility that both of the Rockies talented, but oft-injured stars get traded at some point this season. Although this could be a good thing for the long term future of the Rockies, it also could go South quickly if the Rockies fail to trade the stars before their value diminishes.
Impact Player: SS Troy Tulowitzki
Potential Breakout Candidate: SP Tyler Matzek
Potential Bust Candidate: 1B Justin Morneau
Top Prospect: Jon Gray · LHP · MLB ETA: 2015
MLB.com Top 30 Prospects: http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2015?list=col
Irrelevant Throwback Player: SP Jose Jiminez (2000-03)
Six Degrees of (Octavio) Dotel: Dotel had a cup of tea with the Rockies back in 2010 and was unspectacular at best. He pitched 5.1 innings over 8 games, posted an ERA of 5.06 and walked 4 batters to 6 strikeouts. The Rockies were also one of three teams that the right hander pitched for in 2010.
Final Prediction: 5th NL West
Los Angeles Dodgers
Home Field: Dodger Stadium
2014: 94 – 68 · 1st NL West
O/U in 2015: 91.5 Wins · Over
What We Love:
- Batting Order. The Dodgers should throw out an everyday lineup that is among the best in MLB. It should look something like this: SS Jimmy Rollins, LF Carl Crawford, RF Yasiel Puig, 1B Adrian Gonzalez, 2B Howie Kendrick, 3B Juan Uribe, C Yasmani Grandal and CF Joc Pederson. They also have OF Andre Ethier, IF Justin Turner and C A.J Ellis on the pine.
- Top of the rotation. The trio of LHP Clayton Kershaw, RHP Zack Greinke and LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu give the Dodgers one of the best top of the rotations in MLB. Both Kershaw and Greinke are former Cy Young winners and perennial candidates for the award. Ryu is no slouch in his own regard, and has been one of the better LHP since coming to North America in 2013.
- Vin Scully. Scully’s voice is as synonymous with baseball as the words Wrigley, Fenway and the Babe. The 2015 season will mark the 66th season of announcing for the 87yr old Scully. It was hard not to love the reception he got when it was announced that he was coming back: http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/6479266/v34916389/breaking-news-vin-scully-to-return/?query=vin+scully
- Addition of Andrew Friedman to the front office. Friedman, who built the Rays into a perennial contender, is considered one of the brightest minds in the game.
What We Hate:
- Back of rotation. Sure the top three are beyond impressive, but the bottom two leave something to be desired. The 4th and 5th rotation spots belong to oft-injured starters Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson. Both pitchers have missed considerable amount of time during their career due to injuries, and there is no reason not to believe that a DL stint or two is in the cards for this season.
- Bullpen woes. Closer Kenley Jensen is out until at least May and setup man, Brandon League, could be done for the entire season. The Dodgers will lean on Joel Peralta and JP Howell to get them through until Jensen is back throwing smoke in the 9th.
Impact Player: SP Clayton Kershaw
Potential Breakout Candidate: OF Joc Pederson
Potential Bust Candidate: LHP Brett Anderson
Top Prospect: Corey Seager · SS · MLB: 2015
MLB.com Top 30 Prospects: http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2015?list=la
Irrelevant Throwback Player: P Yhency Brazoban (2004-08)
Six Degrees of (Octavio) Dotel: Dotel pitched 18.2 innings in 19 games for the Dodgers back in 2010. The Dodgers were one of three teams that Dotel played for in 2010.
Final Prediction: 1st NL West
San Francisco Giants
Home Field: AT&T Park
2014: 88 – 74 · 2nd NL West
O/U in 2015: 85.5 Wins · Under
What We Love:
- Madison Bumgarner. You may have heard of Bumgarner after his near legendary post season pitching performance in 2014. Postseason success aside, Bumgarner is a legitimate ace, one of the best southpaws in the game today and only 25 years old. If injuries don’t derail it, we could be looking at a future Hall of Famer.
- Buster Posey. Arguably the best catcher in the game today, Posey has three World Series rings, two All Star appearances, two Silver Sluggers and an MVP to his credit, all before the age of 28.
- Bruce Bochy’s Bag of Post Season Fairy Dust. The Giants manager had it bequeathed to him when Tony LaRussa retired from the dugout.
- AT&T Park. Pound for pound the most beautiful ballpark in the game.
- The cream coloured, Willie Mays era jerseys.
What We Hate:
- Durability of starting rotation. Maddy Bumgarner is the only member of the rotation to have not spent time on the DL during his career. Tim Hudson, Ryan Vogelsong and Jake Peavy have all spent considerable time on the DL. And in the case of Matt Cain, there is no guarantees that he ever returns to the form that made him a 3x All Star.
- Loss of the Panda. After fan favourite, Pablo Sandoval, left for Boston via free agency, the Giants decided to sign Casey McGehee to replace the departed Panda. McGehee enjoyed a comeback season in his return to MLB, after spending a year in Japan, but there is as likely to replicate his 2014 success as he is to return to the player who was out of the majors as recently as two seasons ago. What makes it worse is that the Giants have practically no depth at 3B (Joaquin Arias?) behind McGehee.
- Post season success in even number years. The Giants have appeared in four World Series since 2001 (2002, 2010, 2012 and 2014). After losing to the Angels in 2002, they manage to win it all in their next three trips.
Impact Player: SP Madison Bumgarner
Potential Breakout Candidate: 2B Joe Panik
Potential Bust Candidate: 3B Casey McGehee
Top Prospect: Kyle Crick · RHP · MLB: 2016
MLB.com Top 30 Prospects: http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2015?list=sf
Irrelevant Throwback Player: P Jesse Foppert (2003-05)
Six Degrees of (Octavio) Dotel: Tim Hudson and Dotel were teammates on the Braves in 2007.
Final Prediction: 3rd NL West
San Diego Padres
Home Field: Petco Park
2014: 77 – 85 · 3rd NL West
O/U in 2015: 84.5 Wins · Over
What We Love:
- A.J Preller’s Shopping Spree. The new Padres GM wasted no time in showing MLB that he intended on turning the Padres into contenders over night. Acting like he was playing an elite version of MLB the Show, Preller added the likes of: Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, Will Middlebrooks, Derek Norris and James Shields, this past offseason. Not content with those moves, Preller than acquired All Star closer Craig Kimbrel and the Upton formerly known as B.J from the Braves on MLB’s Opening Night. Amazingly, Preller managed to make all of these additions without having to completely deplete his farm system.
- The Bullpen. It was already suppose to be an area of strength heading into the season, but the last minute addition of Craig Kimbrel, now makes this one of the deepest pens in MLB. Kimbrel will be joined in the pen by hard throwing setup men, Joaquin Benoit and Kevin Quackenbush. While the rest of the bullpen will be rounded out by Dale Thayer, Nick Vincent, Shawn Kelley and Brandon Maurer. Aside from shutting the door on the opposition, the depth of their bullpen could allow GM A.J Preller and the Padres to use it as potential trade bait.
- The Padres being the FINAL winner of the Wil Myers/James Shield trade.
- The Tony Gwynn era brown jerseys.
- The Friar mascot.
What We Hate:
- Durability concerns in the rotation. Aside from medium sized game James, the rest of the Padres starting rotation have all spent time on the DL during their career. Andrew Cashner and Brandon Morrow both offer tremendous upsides and near unhittable stuff when they are healthy, unfortunately for the duo (mainly Morrow) their durability has held them back from making great leaps in pitching dominance. It looks like the durability issues have started early as the Padres placed starter, Ian Kennedy, on the DL last week.
- Inexperience at SS. The Padres released Everth Cabrera and his off the field issues during the offseason and will turn to Alexi Amarista to take over the SS position.
- Who is leading off in this lineup? Sure the Padres revamped (nearly) every area of their roster and lineup, but the one area they failed to address was finding a leadoff hitter.
Impact Player: OF Justin Upton
Potential Breakout Candidate: OF Wil Myers
Potential Bust Candidate: OF Matt Kemp
Top Prospect: Hunter Renfroe · OF · MLB ETA: 2016
MLB.com Top 30 Prospects: http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2015?list=sd
Irrelevant Throwback Player: 3B Sean Burroughs (2002-05)
Six Degrees of Octavio Dotel: Brandon Morrow and Octavio Dotel were teammates as Blue Jays, back in 2011.
Final Prediction: 2nd NL West