Saturday, December 27, 2008

Around the NL West

Let's take a look at how the other teams in the NL West have fared this offseason...

Arizona Diamondbacks
The DBacks were in cruise control for most of last season until the Dodgers caught and passed them at the end. So far, they have not made a big splash, instead relying on their young stars that lead them to the NLCS in 2007 and into the last week of 2008 of being NL West champions.

They started off by resigning Jon Rauch, who gathered 18 saves in splitting the role with Brandon Lyon. Should Lyon not come back (he's been linked to the Twins), he and Chad Qualls could get their shot at closer. Augie Ojeda was resigned for a year to back up 2nd and SS. Felipe Lopez was signed to play 2nd after spending last season in Washington. He'll hit for a decent average but provide no power. Scott Schoeneweis was acquired from the Mets to get bullpen depth.

Randy Johnson was not retained, as they never really seemed to want him back. He recently signed with the Giants. Eric Byrnes is still with the team, though he's been rumored to go to the Red Sox.

Colorado Rockies
The Rocks went from NL champions to the forgotten child of baseball last season. With a core of solid, young players, the thought was that they'd take the next step in being a force. Instead, they tanked. And with that, changes have been made.

It all started on November 11 when Matt Holliday, a perennial All Star and stud hitter, was traded to the Oakland A's. In return, the Rockies received closer Huston Street, lefty starter Greg Smith, and blue chip outfielder Carlos Gonzalez. The loss of Holliday is obviously huge, but they did get good talent in return. They must have thought the chances of signing Holliday to a long-term deal was slim, so they pulled the trigger.

Street closed 18 games last year, but he also blew 7. Still, he forms a nice combination with Manny Corpes for the end of games. Smith was 7-16 last year, but with a somewhat respectable 4.16 ERA. Gonzalez only hit .242 last year, but his upside is much better. With the departure of Willy Taveras to the Reds, his playing time will come.

The only other additions are lefties Alan Embree and Glendon Rusch. Embree will provide more bullpen depth and Rusch could provide starts when needed.

San Diego Padres

The Padres have probably made the most noise this offseason for a team that hasn't actually done anything. But the Jake Peavy saga just refuses to die. For a team that went from a favorite in the West to start last season to a complete joke by the end, they have a largely unchanged roster. Puzzling.

Peavy had been heavily rumored to go to the Cubs, but it just never happened. Lesser talk was also to the Braves and Dodgers, but with an asking price of too many prospects, both teams balked. The Pads really need to figure out what they want to do with him. At this point, they won't get the prospects they want, so if they truly do want to move him, they have to lower their demands a bit. So far, it hasn't happened.

The other signings haven't been that big of a deal. They reupped with Brian Giles, who had a nice bounce-back season last year with a .306 AVG and .398 OBP. Jody Gerut was also brought back, and he hit .296 in 100 games in centerfield. Luis Rodriguez will most likely return as the starting SS, a role he took over from Khalil Greene (who has moved on to the Cardinals). Rodriguez his .287 in 64 games.

Then there's the mystery of Trevor Hoffman, who despite being a franchise icon and career MLB leader in saves, was not offered a chance to come back. The Dodgers have talked about getting him, but there hasn't been much else. I suppose he could resign, but that does not seem too likely.

San Francisco Giants
The Giants started off the year looking old and lost, probably because they were old and lost. But, they have turned their roster over to a team that could be a sleeper in 2009.

Their rotation should be solid with the addition of Randy Johnson. He was 11-10 with a 3.91 ERA and 173 K's in 184 IP last season with the Diamondbacks. Teaming with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Jonathan Sanchez will give the Giants good depth. If Johnson can somehow get anything out of Barry Zito, he should be signed as pitching coach as well.

The other big addition is SS Edgar Renteria, who will take over the role of Omar Vizquel, who looks to be as good as gone from the Bay. Renteria saw a big dip in his numbers last year with Detroit, but is clearly an offensive upgrade from Vizquel. The Giants still don't have a big, middle-of-the-order hitter, which is a concern.

The only other noteworthy additions are Jeremy Affeldt and Bobby Howry. Affeldt had a 3.33 ERA in 74 games with the Reds last year, and Howry had his worst season in years with a 5.35 ERA in 72 games with the Cubs last year. If they're both on, it makes their pitching that much stronger.

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