|1. Colorado Rockies||92||70||—|
|2. San Francisco Giants||85||77||7|
|3. Arizona Diamondbacks||84||78||8|
|4. San Diego Padres||80||82||12|
|5. Los Angeles Dodgers||69||93||23|
I don’t understand the criticism of the maneuvers the Rockies made this past winter or of the decision to trade Ubaldo Jimenez last summer.
They filled their needs by clearing Jimenez when they were going to have to pay a lot of money to re-sign him after 2013 and got two young starting pitchers, one of whom looks like he’s going to be a big winner in Drew Pomeranz; they signed high quality people and grinder type players who are versatile and play the game the right way with Michael Cuddyer and Casey Blake; they signed a good part-time catcher, Ramon Hernandez, to play semi-regularly and tutor young Wilin Rosario; they dispatched a mediocre closer, Huston Street in favor of someone cheaper and probably better with Rafael Betancourt; and they traded a journeyman righty for an underrated all around player Marco Scutaro.
Here’s the simple truth with the Rockies: they can pitch; they can hit; they can catch the ball; they can run; they have one of baseball’s best managers in Jim Tracy and one of its best players in Troy Tulowitzki.
It’s not that hard to do the math if you can add and subtract.
San Francisco Giants
Much is made of their vaunted starting rotation, but after Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner, do you trust Ryan Vogelsong to repeat his amazing work from 2011? Work that was achieved at age 34 after being the epitome of a journeyman?
The bullpen is solid and deep. Their lineup is still shaky and counting on youth (Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford); rockheads (Angel Pagan); and those with questionable work ethic when they think they have a job sewn up (Melky Cabrera). Buster Posey is returning from a ghastly ankle injury.
They made changes, but I don’t see this club as having improved from the 86-76 team they were last season.
Many are in love with the Diamondbacks because of the season they had in 2011 and that they “improved” over the winter.
But did they improve?
They acquired a top arm in Trevor Cahill and are hoping for a repeat of the stellar work their bullpen gave them last season.
How much of what happened in 2011 is realistically repeatable? They were good, but they were also lucky.
It’s a stretch to think it’s going to happen again.
San Diego Padres
One thing you can say about new GM Josh Byrnes: he’s fearless.
It took major courage to trade away a young, contractually controlled arm with Mat Latos going to the Reds and Byrnes got a load of young talent for him.
They dealt away another young bat Anthony Rizzo to get a flamethrower with closer potential, Andrew Cashner; they took Carlos Quentin off the hands of the White Sox for two negligible prospects hoping that Quentin would stay healthy in his free agent year and provide them with the pop they need.
Quentin just had knee surgery and will miss the beginning of the season.
The Padres have a load of starting pitching and their offense will be better than it was. They could sneak up on people and jump into the playoff race.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Are the Dodgers prototypically “bad”?
But they’re in the process of being sold and with Matt Kemp having a 2011 season that should’ve won him the MVP and Clayton Kershaw winning the Cy Young Award, it took a major hot streak late in the season for them to finish above .500.
Their starting pitching is okay; their bullpen is okay; but their lineup is not and they’re in a tough division and league. Many structural changes are possible not only in the ownership suite, but in baseball operations as well.
Far more in depth analysis is in my book, Paul Lebowitz’s 2012 Baseball Guide, now available.