If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you know I can go on and on about random hockey topics. But let’s be honest, baseball is my first love. I couldn’t be more excited for this season from an Indians fan’s perspective, but for the purposes of MTAF, I’ll be taking you through the National League West this season.
Each week, I’ll take a look at one of the five NL West contenders, beginning at the bottom and concluding with my projected division champion.
San Diego Padres
The Padres won 90 games in 2010 before reverting back to the cellar in 2011. The team traded ace Mat Latos to Cincinnati for Edinson Volquez and a multitude of prospects. Trades like those take time. But for the immediate future, the starting rotation will take a hit with Latos’ loss. They did add Carlos Quentin from the White Sox. He should step in to the cleanup spot on opening day and be a solid run producer for an offense that finished 15th out of 16 NL teams with 3.66 runs per game.
The pickup of Volquez isn’t insignificant. He was 17-6 with a 3.21 ERA in 2008, but is 13-12 in 41 starts since, including a 5.71 ERA in 20 starts last season. Playing in a pitcher’s park in a division with relatively week lineups should help Volquez bounce back.
The losses of Heath Bell and Mike Adams will be a huge blow to a bullpen with the fourth-best ERA in the NL in 2011. Huston Street was acquired via trade from Colorado to fill the closer’s role, but is there enough help out there to get the game to Street in the 9th inning?
It’s going to be another rough year in San Diego. I think the Padres are the clear-cut cellar dwellers in the NL West this year, and the four other teams will all finish within 10 games of first place.
Position players: C Nick Hundley, 1B Yonder Alonso, 2B Orlando Hudson, SS Jason Bartlett, 3B Chase Headley, LF Quentin, CF Cameron Maybin, RF Will Venable
Bench: INF Everth Cabrera, Logan Forsythe, Jesus Guzman, C John Baker, OF Mark Kotsay, Kyle Blanks
Starting rotation: 1. Tim Stauffer, 2. Clayton Richard, 3. Volquez, 4. Cory Luebke, 5. Dustin Moseley
Bullpen: Huston Street, Luke Gregorson, Andrew Cashner, Ernesto Frieri, Joe Thatcher, Anthony Bass
Projected finish: 68-94, 5th in NL West