FanIQ NL West Preview

The World Champs Face Off Against the Offseason Champs in the NL West [FanIQ NL West Preview]

3/28/13 in MLB   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Arizona DiamondbacksBlog Photo - FanIQ NL West Preview
 
Projected Lineup
 
CF Gerardo Parra
3B Martin Prado
2B Aaron Hill
C Miguel Montero
1B Paul Goldschmidt
LF Jason Kubel
RF A.J. Pollock
SS Cliff Pennington
 
Projected Rotation
 
RHP Ian Kennedy
RHP Brandon McCarthy
RHP Trevor Cahill
LHP Wade Miley
LHP Patrick Corbin
 
Closer: RHP J.J. Putz
 
Key Losses: OF Justin Upton, OF Chris Young, SP Trevor Bauer, 3B Chris Johnson, SP Takashi Saito
 
What is the value of intangibles and grit? The Diamondbacks in many ways are an experiment to find out. They have plenty of guys, like Eric Hinske and Willie Bloomquist, with sterling clubhouse reputations. The team wasn’t happy with Trevor Bauer’s way of doing things, so out he went.  The team didn’t feel Justin Upton tried hard enough, so out he went. Both trades were highly criticized, and long-term it’s probably the trades won’t work out. In the short term though, it might not be so bad. Martin Prado was the primary major league return for Upton. His value is primary tied to batting average, but he’s hit .300 most of his career and Chase Field should help. The team gets plenty of power from the middle of the order, with Montero quietly becoming one of the game’s best hitting catchers. Goldschmidt has also developed into a nice 40 double/20 homer guy. Parra starts the year at center and leadoff due to an injury to rookie Adam Eaton. Eaton was expected to bring a solid OBP, but Parra will be a reasonable facsimile the 6-8 weeks Eaton will be out. The Arizona offense should also expect Cody Ross to come back soon enough from a strained calf, even if he doesn’t start the season, as this lineup projects. This is a star-less lineup, but the whole (and the ballpark) is greater than the sum of its parts.
 
I’ll start looking at the rotation with Cahill. He took another step forward after coming to Arizona from Oakland, and his extreme ground ball style works well at Chase Field. Cahill could easily become the top guy in the staff by the end of the year. Kennedy’s hit luck went back to normal levels in 2012, and as such showed what he probably is in reality, a mid-rotation innings eater. Miley nearly won the Rookie of the Year award, and while repeating a 3.33 ERA is probably optimistic, he does well at avoiding walks and keeping the ball in the yard, both key tenets of the organization’s current philosophy. Joining the rotation is Brandon McCarthy, who also avoids walks and home runs and by ERA been one of the better pitchers in baseball. Unfortunately, he also ends up on the DL with shoulder problems two or three times a year. Luckily for Arizona, they have guys that can be take the mound and be competent- another team with enviable depth. Corbin, Josh Collmenter, Randall Delgado (acquired in the Upton deal), and Nelson Figueroa (last seen in the WBC) aren’t household names, but they’ll do in a pinch, and if they want to, the D’Backs could call up their true top talents.
 
Again, long term it’s not likely trading their best player and best pitching prospect will work out, and as you might guess, I’m skeptical on the emphasis on intangibles. However, in the short term they could be better. Last year run differential said they’d be 86-76; they were actually 81-81. Getting luckier alone could propel Arizona to at least the hunt for the second wild card.
 
Projected Record: 84-78
 
Down on the Farm: When I mentioned Arizona’s pitching depth, I didn’t even mention Tyler Skaggs and Archie Bradley, their two top prospects. Skaggs is considered the best left handed pitching guy in the minors. He’s just about ready for the bigs full-time, and will almost certainly be in Arizona. Bradley, a right-hander, was the team’s first round pick in 2011 and had a solid full season debut in A-ball. The prospect at the center of the Bauer trade was SS Didi Gregorius, who has a fantastic glove, but can’t hit a lick even in the minors.
 
San Diego PadresBlog Photo - FanIQ NL West Preview
 
Projected Lineup
 
SS Everth Cabrera
3B Jedd Gyorko
1B Yonder Alonso
LF Carlos Quentin
RF Will Venable
CF Cameron Maybin
C Nick Hundley
2B Alexi Amarista
 
Projected Rotation
 
RHP Edinson Volquez
LHP Clayton Richard
LHP Eric Stults
RHP Jason Marquis
RHP Tyson Ross
 
Closer: RHP Huston Street
 
Key Losses: SP Tim Stauffer
 
Is there a more anonymous team than the Padres? The team made very few moves in the offseason, instead hoping their young core in the bigs plus their deep farm system takes a step forward. Unfortunately, Chase Headley will be out a month with a fractured thumb. Even one month without the Padres breakout star and borderline MVP candidate will take a bite out of the offense, but it’s not a bad lineup once you adjust for the cavernous Petco Park. Quentin actually just nipped Headley for team OPS lead, but in only 86 games. If healthy (admittedly a rarity), he’ll join Headley as a solid heart of the order. Venable and Maybin have their weaknesses, but both have developed into useful players. Still establishing himself is Alonso, who profiles as more of a doubles hitter than a home run hitter, but he should be yet another solid cog. Gyorko is a stealth Rookie of the Year who hit 30 bombs in the minors last season. He’ll move to second once Headley comes back, which admittedly could be a stretch for him defensively. Another spot of potential is catcher. Hundley was signed to an extension after a breakout 2011, then spent most of 2012 injured and ineffective. He’ll get a 50 game chance to reestablish himself with Yasmani Grandal serving a PED suspension to start the year. Grandal did impress in his first taste of the majors last year. Is this a great lineup? No, but is it a bad lineup? Not at all, and there are few black holes. With the Padres moving in the fences a bit, the offense should look at least superficially better, and they have enough young talent to improve in reality.
 
Petco makes the Padres offense look worse than it is, and it also makes the Padres pitching look better than it is. Despite Petco’s advantages, San Diego was below average in run prevention last year. Volzquez can miss bats and can look impressive, but he also led the league in walks. Richard is only capable of being successful at home. He got bombed on the road so much that he actually led the NL in home runs allowed. Note that those are the top two guys. Slults has an ERA that looks good, but he doesn’t strike out nearly enough guys and struggled against righties. Tyson Ross comes from Oakland after a terrible year in that pitcher’s park. Jason Marquis’s presence should speak for itself. Reinforcements will come when Cory Luebke returns from Tommy John surgery, but otherwise? Yikes.
 
Before I realized how awful the pitching staff was, I though the Padres could be a sleeper team. However, it’s just not good enough to get there. The lineup is underrated, and the farm system is promising, but it's those on the bump that will hold the Padres back.
 
Projected Record: 76-86
 
Down on the Farm: Despite the graduations of Alonso and Grandal, this is still one of the deeper farm systems in the game. Gyorko will be the newest graduate hoping to make an impact. The top of the system though is still a ways away from the majors. C Austin Hedges is considered one of the best defensive catcher in the majors, and he showed better hitting ability than expected in A-ball last year. SP Max Fried, the 7th pick in the 2012 draft, has barely got his pro career started, but projects as a #2 starter. On the minus side, OF Rymer Liriano and SP Casey Kelly (the key to the Adrian Gonzalez trade) have both seen their seasons end before they began due to Tommy John surgery.

The Rockies were a disaster last year. Find out if they can improve on the next page.
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3/28/13   |   mcleodglen   |   32 respect

very accurate preview i'd say, appreciate it.