1. Arizona Diamondbacks – Webb and Haren are as good as any front of the rotation pair in baseball. They would have been better off resigning Randy Johnson, but should still be solid. I like their young lineup. Guys like Upton and Drew have breakout potential. The Achilles heel could be the bullpen, but it’s the NL West, not the Al East.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers – The Dodgers finally got Manny Ramirez, but that doesn’t guarantee them a playoff place. They have some talent in the rotation, but it’s not intimidating. I think the bullpen will be fine, though Broxton doesn’t convert the save opportunities his stuff dictates that he should. They have a great lineup around Ramirez with guys like Loney, Martin and Ethier. They are good enough to make a playoff push, but not replacing Lowe concerns me.
3. San Francisco Giants – Brian Sabean is squandering Tim Lincecum’s service time. The Giants have a great rotation, with the exception of Barry Zito. If he starts off terribly again, they would be better off cutting ties with him. I like the Randy Johnson signing. Brian Wilson doesn’t wow me at closer, but bringing in Affeldt and Howry should stabilize things. Their lineup is horrifying. I wouldn’t predict one player to hit 20 home runs. Who do you hit cleanup? Randy Winn? If they had two legit bats they would probably win the division.
4. Colorado Rockies – The Rockies lineup should absorb the loss of Holliday, particularly if Tulowitzki comes back to play. I refuse to predict anything about the Rockies’ pitching. Coors Field can be the valley of the shadow of death for pitchers. I have no idea what they are doing with the ball in the humidor. They probably need an 07-style miraculous run to get into the playoffs, and I don’t see it happening.
5. San Diego Padres – Jake Peavy and Chris Young are good. The rest is just rookies and filler. I’m not sold on Heath Bell replacing Trevor Hoffman. I like Adrian Gonzalez, but the rest of their lineup is pretty poor. All of David Eckstein’s scrappy intangibles could not save this season. Generally, when you can’t beat someone with your pitching or with your hitting, you are in for a rough ride.