In spite of the fact that I tend to be a Negative Nelly, I've picked the Dodgers to win the division pretty much every year of my life except 2004. (Really, how was I supposed to know that Beltre would be the non-Barry MVP and Cora and Izturis would actually be useful players.) Since I tend to get overzealous about the team's chances, I sent the other NL West writers a small survey about what they think of the Dodgers. Here's what I got back:
Grant from McCovey Chronicles, the Giants blog
Zito = Schmidt
Cain > Penny
Lowry < Lowe
Morris = Wolf
Sanchez/Lincecum/Correia < Billingsley
Very, very close. Any of the comps could have a much better season than their counterpart.
Rate the following 1-10 where one is worst in baseball, 10 is best:
> Starting Lineup: 6
> Bench: 7
> Starting Pitching: 7
> Relief Pitching: 6
> Defense: 6
I still think the Padres have the best team, with the Dodgers a close second. The Rockies could surprise, and Arizona just needs to straighten out the pitching -- which isn't a minor thing. I'd put the Giants third, but certainly in the mix. They'd get the same grades as the Dodgers, except for a 4 for lineup and bullpen.
Jim McLennan from AZ Snakepit, the Diamondbacks blog:
Rate the following 1-10 where one is worst in baseball, 10 is best [I'm grading straight, so five would be average here]
Starting Lineup: 5 - the lack of power in that offense is kinda scary, and there could be no-one with 20 homers this season. Signing Luis Gonzalez was a fabulous move...from Arizona's perspective, and I'd like to thank you for it. :-) It probably should hit for a good average though.
Bench: 5 - Not really much to say. Could be good, could be bad, will probably be mediocre, like most benches.
Starting Pitching: 7.5 - Giants the best rotation in the division? Don't make me laugh. (I started this by talking about how I saw a commenter on McCovey Chronicles say they had the best rotation in the division -Andrew) They may have added Zito, but they lost Schmidt, so are effectively going sideways. Last year, their ERA was 4.91, compared to the division-best Padres at 4.19 (also behind the Dodgers 4.64, and AZ's 4.86). I don't see that much, if any, of an improvement.
Relief Pitching: 7 - I like a lot of the Dodgers' bullpen, and even with the loss of Gagne, they should be solid.
Defense: 3 - The infield should be fine, but I'm with BP's Christina Kahrl, when she reckons the outfield may be among the worst set of arms ever assembled.
What team wins the NL West this year? Could be anyone. Really. Even the Rockies.
General comments: I'm waiting to see what happens with the Randy Johnson situation before making any real predictions. If the D'backs get him (which seems likely at time of writing) and he rebounds to the ZIPS prediction of 3.71 or better (a little more dubious, though that's an AL-based figure), then I would rate the D'backs rotation as superior to the Dodgers, as follows:
Brandon Webb > Jason Schmidt
Randy Johnson > Brad Penny
Livan Hernandez = Derek Lowe
Doug Davis > Randy Wolf
E.Gonzalez < Chad Billingsley
Thanks to both Grant and Jim for their time.