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BASN’S HOT STOVE 2016 WITH TEEMACK!
BASN’S HOT STOVE 2016 (conclusion)
By Tony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus
NEW HAVEN, CT (BASN): By the time you read this, exhibition games will have begun for all 30 MLB squads. Over the last week or so, we’ve taken a brief peek at all six divisional races heading into camp.
Not really making predictions, but more so taking an educated look at what to watch for during the upcoming season. For those of you keeping score, we’ve spoke on the NL East and Central as well as the AL East, West and Central…
Today, we end our series with a look at the NL West. Teams are listed in order of 2015 finish.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
New manager Dave Roberts may not be facing a “win or else” situation in L.A. this year. But it’s about as close as you can get for the three-time West champs. And when you realize the major movements that were made by their nearest competitors it makes the rookie skipper’s initial season all the more pressurized. The loss of P Zack Greinke to Arizona puts even more pressure on Clayton Kershaw and his mound mates. When you also consider not much was added to an offense that was middle of the road at best last year, the “hitless wonders” phrase may be something prevalent all season barring a trade.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Even if it wasn’t an even-numbered year in Frisco, the Giants did a lot during the off-season to make themselves prominent in this year’s race for the pennant. Signing Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija as free agents solidifies the starting staff. What really hurt the Giants last year were nagging injuries throughout the rotation and starting lineup. When they finally were all on the same page, a brutal seven-game losing skid all but eliminated them from contention. Despite the every other year scenario, you just know a Bruce Bochy led club won’t have two bad years in a row.
It didn’t take GM Dave Stewart long before he started to put his stamp on the franchise. Signing the aforementioned Zack Greinke and trading for Shelby Miller during the winter opened up a lot of folks eyes. If former All-Star Patrick Corbin is able to return to form, Arizona’s starting rotation becomes a very interesting player in the West. With a lineup that includes All-Stars Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock, as well as budding stars Yasmany Tomas and David Peralta, they could be this year’s version of the Astros and Cubs all wrapped in one. Don’t be surprised to see them make another big move if they’re in the mix when the trading deadline approaches.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
A year ago, the Padres and their bold moves leading up to Opening Day were the talk of baseball. After a modest start, the roof — literally and figuratively — caved in on the team and their expectations. It cost then manager Bud Black his job and humbled first year GM A.J. Preller. Now with a new manager in Andy Green, the expectations and focus have made a 360-degree turn. There’s more of a mixture of veterans and rookies on this year’s roster. They may not contend, but management seems to be cool with that. As for the fans — they’ll let them know by their attendance or lack thereof.
When previewing this squad from last year, we called them “a softball team in a baseball world”. Even with the trading of longtime SS Troy Tulowitzki, not much has changed in Colorado. Yes they’ve raised the outfield walls — five feet in left field and eight feet in right center — at Coors Field. But until they can find a way to lower the team ERA a bit, they’ll be on the ultimate roller coaster all season long. At some point this year, OF Carlos Gonzalez will probably be dealt — preferably for some quality pitching. Sadly, for Rockies fans, the song remains the same all too many times.