2012 NL West Roundup-Know Thy Enemy
By Scott Andes
There is an old saying, “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” We’re getting close to the start of spring training, and it would be a good idea to know our enemies. There has been a lot of hot stove activity in our division. Let’s take a quick look at the comings and goings in our division. It’s time to handicap the 2012 NL west.
To me the Dbacks still seem to be the team to beat in the NL west. Last season under manager of the year Kirk Gibson, the Dbacks surprised the world by winning the division by 8 games. They’ve supplemented a balanced roster of power and solid pitching by making some wise signings and one good trade for a front line starting pitcher.
First they resigned Willie Bloomquist and Aaron Hill to solidify the middle infield. They signed first baseman Lyle Overbay and right fielder Jason Kubel. The smart move was when they traded outfielder Collin Cowgill and pitchers Jarrod Parker and Ryan Cook to Oakland for right handed starting pitcher Trevor Cahill, left handed pitcher Craig Breslow, and some cash. They also recently resigned Joe Saunders. They have a strong lineup with budding star Justin Upton, Miguel Montero, Chris Young, and tattoo man Ryan Roberts. Their rotation is solid, anchored by Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, and Trevor Cahill. They also signed former Dodger relief pitcher Takashi Saito to help in the bullpen. If the Dodgers are going to beat the defending division champs, they’re going to have to score a lot of runs in 2012.
Go over to venom Strikes Venom Strikes for all the latest updates from the desert on the Snakes.
Poor Padres, they just never seem to get it. They make the same type of moves every winter. Trading one group of prospects for the next. Never giving any one prospect significant enough playing time to develop into major league ready players, or so it seems to me. The big trade they made was the blockbuster deal that sent starter Matt Latos to the Reds for three top prospects and Starter Edinson Volquez. The three prospects are pitcher Brian Boxberger, catcher Yasmani Grandal, and first baseman Yonder Alonso. In order to replace Heath Bell, the Padres flipped another prospect (Nick Schmidt) to Colorado for closer Huston Street.
One move that seems smart is the trade that sent Anthony Rizzo and pitcher Zach Cates to the Cubs for pitcher Andrew Cashner and another prospect. If you remember Rizzo was the top prospect in the group of prospects the Padres got in the Adrian Gonzalez trade, but Rizzo was disappointing in his short stint with the big club, and he apparently fell out of favor with the Padres management. The Padres did add a bona-fide big league player when they traded for Carlos Quentin. Despite this I still think the Padres will probably finish at the bottom of the division, but perhaps if they would try keeping their prospects they acquire in their trades instead of just swapping them for another group of prospects, then maybe they might begin to rebuild.
I’m sure that Justin Hunter and the guys over at ChickenFriars can explain things down there better than I can. Check out their very well run site for all the latest on the Padres moves.
While the Padres seem to be trading prospects for more new prospects, the Rockies seem like a team in disarray. Honestly I haven’t understood anything this team has been doing since they traded away their top starting pitcher Ubaldo Jiminez to Cleveland for prospects. No team in the division will start 2012 with more clubhouse changes than Colorado. After a very disappointing 2011 season, Rockies management made many changes in an attempt to rebuild the roster without actually truly committing to a full blown rebuild. The roster overhall began when they shipped Ty Wigginton to the Phillies. Then a very shrewd trade of Catcher Chris Iannetta to the Angels for pitcher Tyler Chatwood. They traded a catcher who doesn’t hit very high for average anyways, but it was ok since they signed catcher Ramon Hernandez, who has always had shown great hitting ability. Next they traded third baseman Ian Stewart and Casey Weathers to the Cubs for second base prospect DJ Lehmahieu and outfielder Tyler Colvin. Former Dodger Jamie Hoffman was claimed off waivers, and another former Dodger Casey Blake should help provide infield depth at the corners. The Rockies acquired starting pitcher Kevin Slowey from the Twins for a player to be named later. This seemed wise since the Rockies needed starting pitching. However I guess they felt they had too many pitching prospects ready for spring training, like Drew Pomeranz for example, and Alex White. So they flipped Slowey to the Indians for prospect pitcher Zach Putnam. The moves didn’t end there. They traded one of their better players Seth Smith to Oakland for more prospects: pitcher Guillermo Moscoso and Josh Outman. Their recent move was acquiring infielder Marco Scutaro from the Red Sox for pitcher Clayton Mortensen. Scutaro would play second base since Mullet man mans the shortstop position. I guess he is better than Chris Nelson or Eric Young Jr. Mark Ellis signed with the Dodgers. Huston Street was traded to the Padres, so I’m assuming Rafael Betancourt would take over closer duties. They also signed Michael Cuddyer from the Twins, but I’m not sure what position he will play. Third base seems like a problem position for the Rockies. We can relate can’t we Dodger fans?
A season of question marks and lots of pitchers to sort through lies ahead for Colorado. No matter what happens, the big three still play in Colorado. We all know who the big three are. We’ll have to deal with the likes of Cargo, Mullet Man, and notorious Dodger killer Todd Helton for another year.
If you want to talk Rockies Baseball, you should talk with an expert like Michelle Hoag. Check out Michelle and the rest of the Rockies Rumblings over at RoxPile
Our hated rival the San Francisco Giants had the quietest off-season of any of the teams in the NL west. The Giants pretty much stood Pat. Meaning they made little changes. (I’m not talking about their outfielder Pat “the bat” Burrell). 2011 was a frustrating season for the Giants. Their season ruined from injuries and incompetent offense. The Giants made two trades this winter. One was the trade that sent pitcher Jonathon Sanchez to the Royals for outfielder Melky Cabrera. It seemed strange since the Giants needed infielders, and Cabrera has had only one good year, but the Giants are desperate for anyone that can hit, and Cabrera did have a solid season last year for the Royals. The other trade was the one that sent center fielder Andres Torres and pitcher Ramon Ramirez to the Mets for center fielder Angel Pagan. Basically the two teams swapped center fielders. It made sense for the giants to move Torres who has been a huge disappointment, and Pagan should provide more offense than Torres did. However Pagan seems like another Beltran like outfielder. He’s older, expensive, and often injury prone. The Giants might want to take notice. That’s really about it for the Giants. Besides the couple of trades, they have been busy trying to meet Tim Lincecum’s outrageous contract demands, and get him and fellow stater Matt Cain signed to contract extensions. $21.5 million dollars for Timmy? Geez!
Much of the Giants season relies on the healthy returns from Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez. Losing those two bats screwed their season last year. Otherwise they are the Giants, they have almost no hitting whatsoever, atrocious outfield defense, and one of the best pitching staffs in Baseball. I will take a guess that the Giants will still be competitive next season no matter how bad their hitting is thanks to their great pitching. It just means another season of 1-0 and 2-1 games.
Check out Around The Foghorn for all the news on the Giants.
So there you have it Dodger fans. Arizona still is the team to beat, and the Dodgers and Giants should battle for second place. Meanwhile the Padres continue their rebuilding, and the Rockies Retool their roster, which should mean both teams, might finish at the bottom of the division. I hope I’m wrong and the Dodgers can surprise everyone by stealing the division of course. Stranger things have happened right?