Baseball: NL West Preview

By and

Xenophobia is a popular route when considering this division, and for good reason. From the Arizona Diamondbacks to the San Diego Padres, every team in this division — with the exception of San Francisco — is built on some combination of solid pitching and even better defense. The Giants, by the way, have little of anything that makes them competitive.

With the addition of Dan Haren, the D-backs have the best starting rotation in the division. Chad Qualls, Tony Pena and Brandon Lyon make up their just-as-effective bullpen. Chris Young has to be a better leadoff hitter for Arizona to make noise, and if he doesn’t, Brandon Webb should hire left fielder Eric Byrnes for a hit-job on the center fielder to prove that he has what it takes to help his team get better. Either that or Byrnes could improve on his .286, 21 home run, 83 RBI, 103 run, 50 stolen base 2007 campaign, but how is that fair?

OK, so with the Rockies, not everyone depends solely on defense and pitching, but despite playing 81 games in the mile-high city, Colorado has become rather good at that style of baseball, too.

Troy Tulowitski’s move up to the heart of the lineup makes Todd Helton, Matt Holliday and Garret Atkins that much scarier. The really scary thing is that Colorado could actually win 90 games again and not make the playoffs.

San Diego will depend on its terrific pitching staff once again, but it won’t get them close enough with Adrian Gonzalez being the only realistic offensive threat.

The Dodgers have a solid pitching staff, as well, but it has yet to be seen whether having Nomar Garciaparra at the bottom of the order is a good omen or not. On one hand, it seems like a good thing that a team doesn’t have to stick him higher in the lineup, but at what point does it become embarrassing to have him in the lineup at all?