TMS MLB Preview '08 - NL West

Just like last season, TMS is previewing the upcoming 2008 baseball season division by division. So strap in and get ready for some of the worst analysis and lack of insight that only we can provide. Today we finally wrap this motherfucker up with the NL West. Chaim, LB, Daft Funk, and Governor Gray Davis offer their expertise on how this division is shaping for 2008.

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

1. LOS ANGELES DODGERS by Governor Gray Davis
2007: 82-80 (4th)

So Long: OF Luis Gonzalez, P Mark Hendrickson, C Mike Lieberthal, P David Wells, P Randy Wolf, P Rudy Seanez

Welcome: C Gary Bennett, OF Andruw Jones, P Hiroki Kuroda

Yes, He's Still On the Team: P Jason Schmidt


PROJECTED LINEUP
1. SS Rafael Furcal
2. LF Andre Ethier
3. C Russell Martin
4. 2B Jeff Kent
5. CF Andruw Jones
6. RF Matt Kemp
7. 1B James Loney
8. 3B vacant

Starting Rotation - Brad Penny, Derek Lowe, Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda, Esteban Loaiza
Setup - Scott Proctor, Jonathan Broxton, Joe Beimel
Closer - Takashi Saito

The Dodgers' off-season strategy seemed to be sit around, do nothing, and wait for the rest of the division to get worse. With the exception of Arizona, mission accomplished. Unfortunately, literally doing nothing wasn't an option and OCD GM Ned Colletti has to make sure the team has too many outfielders or Jodie Foster will die. To this end, the Dodgers signed AndrEw Jones. If you're a regular reader, by now you know AndrEw is on the official shit list, so I won't bore you again. Suffice it to say, because of his salary (which is almost as fat as he is) Dodger fans can now look forward to paying $25 for a plate of nachos while we watch him strike out 150 times a year. Yippie.

PRESEASON AWARDS
Mr. Sexy Time: Joe Torre - Screwed by Steinbrenner, Torre is looking to prove he still has it in Los Angeles. He's also looking to spread the "family business" to Los Angeles. In fact, if I hadn't named him Mr. Sexy Time, I would get whacked and thrown in the LA River.

Take This Job and Shove It:
Third Base - With Mr. Mia Hamm and Gingerbread LaRoche injured again, the third base job is up for grabs.......just as it has been for the last two decades or so. The Dodgers will be holding open tryouts this Wednesday at a Best Buy parking lot in Pasadena. All you have to do is be the first one in line at 8am and the job is yours.

The Bitter First Wife: Vero Beach, FL - After 60 years, the Dodgers have divorced their first Spring Training wife, Vero Beach. She's old and insists on dying her hair blue. Not Dodger Blue, just blue. With plenty of money in the 401k, the Dodgers are re-locating to Phoenix and will be banging ASU coeds two at a time starting next Spring.

FOR MORE READING
Dodger Blues
Sons of Steve Garvey
Dodger Thoughts


2. ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS also by Governor Gray Davis
2007: 90-72 (1st)

SO LONG: 3B Jeff Cirillo, 1B Tony Clark, P Livan Hernandez, P Jose Valverde, P Bob Wickman

WELCOME: P Dan Haren, OF Trot Nixon, P Chad Qualls

PROJECTED ORDER
1. Chris Young CF
2. Orlando Hudson 2B
3. Eric Byrnes LF
4. Conor Jackson 1B
5. Chris Snyder C
6. Mark Reynolds 3B
7. Stephen Drew SS
8. Justin Upton RF

Starting Rotation - Brandon Webb, Dan Haren, Doug Davis, Micah Owings, Edgar Gonzalez
Setup - Chad Qualls, Tony Pena
Closer - Brandon Lyon

The Diamondbacks kick off their 10th anniversary season with what is probably the youngest roster in Major League Baseball. If you set Methuselah aisde, their oldest player is Augie Ojeda, clocking in at 33 years of age. Last year saw the DBacks win the division and sweep the Cubs out of the first round (sorry for the bad memories), only to run into the Jesus-fueled but ultimately doomed Rockies in the NLCS. In 2008 Cactus League play, the offense has been on fire, but the pitching has been pathetic. Its OK though, because they play in the NL West, which may be able to reclaim the title NL Worst this season.

PRESEASON AWARDS
Mr. Sexy Time: Dan Haren...I suppose - Sexy? Not really in any sense of the word, but he was the only acquisition of note for the Diamondbacks this offseason. Trot Nixon couldn't even make the big league club, and frankly, Chad Qualls can go fuck himself with a rusty lamp that shoots sparks even when it isn't plugged in. Haren put up a 3.07 ERA last season in the American League, which should translate to roughly 0.37 in the National League.

Christ, Go Away Already: Randy Johnson - Methuselah will be 45 in September, if he lasts that long. I suspect Arizona may be trying to kill him. His back is made of PVC pipe now after the 4000th surgery on it (the latest on March 25th) and can't be relied upon as a starting pitcher any longer. Its time for Randy and his mullet to go away. There's a double-wide and a case of PBR waiting for him in Apache Junction if he'll just take the bait.

Eli Manning "My Brother is a Douchebag" Award: Stephen Drew - I never hated JD Drew like a lot of people, but the consensus is that he's a douchebag and who am I to argue with the consensus (particularly when I need to give out a third award to this team). Now I know there are a lot of Stephen Drew haters out there in Cubland who will say he is too, but remember, having a douchebag older brother doesn't preclude one from being a douchebag themselves (see again the Manning brothers). To me, he seems OK, but what's with the DBacks drafting all these inbred hillbillies?

FOR MORE READING
AZ Snakepit


3. SAN DIEGO PADRES by Chaim Witz
2007: 89-74 (3rd)

SO LONG: 2B Geoff Blum, OF Milton Bradley, P Doug Brocail, OF Mike Cameron, P Jack Cassel, 3B Morgan Ensberg, 2B Marcus Giles, P Ryan Ketchner, OF Jason Lane, OF Rob Mackowiak, P Brett Tomko

WELCOME: 1B Tony Clark, OF Jeff DaVanon, 1B Robert Fick, 2B Tadahito Iguchi, P Mark Prior, P Randy Wolf

PROJECTED LINEUP
1. Brad Giles RF
2. Tadahito Iguchi 2B
3. Kevin Kouzmanoff 3B
4. Adrian Gonzalez 1B
5. Khalil Greene SS
6. Paul McAnulty LF
7. Scott Hairston CF
8. Josh Bard C

Starting Rotation - Jake Peavy, Chris Young, Greg Maddux, Randy Wolf, Justin Germano
Setup - Cla Meredith
Closer - Trevor Hoffman

Every year you'd like to write the Padres off, and looking at their uninspiring lineup card, it would seem to be the logical thing to do. Yet every year, playing in the dead zone known as the NL West, they compete for the division crown. They enter the playoffs, scare no one and by the second week in October are back to eating fish tacos and having beach parties, or whatever people do in California. They face the opposite problem of the Rockies, who can't recruit any good pitchers to play in the unfairly lambasted Coors Field. What hitter wants to play in Petco and see home runs turn into long singles? Thus, their team is a sort of weird mixture of young and old, injury prone and castoffs from other teams...their team indentity is as big of a mystery as Jason Bourne. Will they compete this year? Undoubtedly. Will anyone care? In a word, no.*

*I stopped caring after 1996, when Fernando's short lived resurgence with the Padres ended. A small part of me died after that.

PRESEASON AWARDS
Mr. Sexy Time: Greg Maddux - Mr. Sexy Time is theoretically supposed to represent an young up and comer. But San Diego, a very 'sexy' city in and of itself, fields a team every year that is about as sexy as a chain-smoking Marge Schott. Nothing about the Padres is sexy, from their uniforms to their pitcher friendly park, to the gang of castaways they trot onto the field every year. But much like Maddux, who has never been the sexiest member of the '300' club, they get the job done. It may be about as pretty as the omnipresent bags under Mad Dog's eyes, but year in and year out, somehow this team manages to be there right til the bitter end.

Overrated, Like British Accents: Brian Giles - He gets a 'Seriously, This Guy?' from me. I guess he's probably not really rated highly by anybody anymore, except for Padres management, who are content give him a starting job based on past glories and a killer tan. Surfs up dude.

You Son of Bitch:
Mark Prior - Both Kerry Wood and Prior will probably be forever linked together, for better or worse, in that they both exhibited tremendous talent and potential at the onset of their careers with the Cubs, only to have been derailed time and time again by injuries. The similarities end there. Cubs fans love Kerry. He's a tough competitor who doesn't make excuses and feels indebted to the team for sticking with him. Prior on the other hand is a prima donna; a no personality whiner who always seemed to resent the fans, the city of Chicago and the Cubs organization. Well Mark, you'll be happy to know that the feeling is mutual. Cubs fans all resent you too, you son of a bitch. I'm glad you're gone so you can stop wrecking our lives and you can stow all of your baggage elsewhere.

FOR MORE READING
Gaslamp Ball
Ducksnorts


4. COLORADO ROCKIES by an inebriated Lingering Bursitis
2007: 90-73 (2nd)

SO LONG: P Jeremy Affeldt, P Elmer Dessens, P Josh Fogg, P LaTroy Hawkins, P Jorge Julio, P Rodrigo Lopez, 2B Kaz Matsui

WELCOME: 2B Marcus Giles, P Josh Towers, P Luis Vizcaino, P Kip Wells

PROJECTED LINEUP
1. Willy Taveras CF
2. Troy Tulowitzki SS
3. Todd Helton 1B
4. Matt Holliday LF
5. Garrett Atkins 3B
6. Brad Hawpe RF
7. Yorvit Torrealba C
8. Jayson Nix 2B

Starting Rotation - Jeff Francis, Aaron Cook, Ubaldo Jimenez, Franklin Morales
Setup - Brian Fuentes, Luis Vizcaino
Closer - Manny Corpas

They're the God Squad. They prayed so fucking hard last season that they made it almost all the way. If you want proof that God doesn't answer and doesn't listen and perhaps doesn't even exist, look at the Colorado Rockies. I guess Boston prayed harder, right?

God bullshit aside, they've got a good young team, with a couple of key oldies to creche it up and babysit. Tulowitski is great, Matt Holliday has boyish good looks and a beast of a batting average, Willy Taveras is fast and stuff, and Garrett Atkins has a name like a country singer. Fuck! [Phoning it in].

Todd Helton and the pre-pubescent rotation are the keys to the season. If Helton can stay fit and marshal things in the middle of the order, they have a chance. If the teen trio of Francis, Morales and Hirsh can pitch deep into games and protect their bullpen, they have a chance. If Clint Hurdle goes on a diet, they have a chance.

Realistically though, they have no fucking chance. Pray up, and pack up. The R0X0Rs are destined for a holier-than-though third place in a tough fucking division. At least they have bibles to keep them busy during the postseason.

PRESEASON AWARDS
Mr. Sexy Time: The Lord God himself - You can't hate on God. He works miracles, including hauling these guys' asses into the playoffs last year. He always bats 1.000 for this team. It's just a shame that he took Kaz Matsui away.

Where in the World is...?:
Clint Barmes - What happened to this asshole? The guy had a promising future, and then injured himself carrying frozen deer meat up some stairs or something? Who does that? He's a white guy in Colorado living on a fat baseball salary. Have the hired help lug that shit next time. Now, you're who-the-fuck-knows where doing I-don't-give-a-fuck what. And some guy Troy took your place. Ouch, Clint, ouch.

Best left-hander with a weird throwing motion award: Brian Fuentes - This guy is great. He throws all crazy, he's got an acne-scarred face, and he loses the closer's job to some 20-something guy who looks stoned all the time, what with the crazy angle tilt of his cap. [Kids these days]. And yet, his role as the setup man is gonna be fun. He's the kind of pitcher who'll give you 15 scoreless innings, then blow back-to-back saves with 3 ER or more in an inning. He pitches like life, full of ups, downs and weird throwing motions, and I like him.

Plus, I like to imagine that he's related to Daisy Fuentes, and that one day I can meet Brian, be real nice, and score Daisy's phone number. That, and only that, might be enough to dampen the Campbell Brown forest fire that rages in my loins like a force of nature. Sweet Georgia Brown, Campbell.

Oh yes, sorry. Fuentes is a good guy. [Paging editorial, paging editorial.... stop me writing when I'm drunk please. Fact: I wrote this whole thing in 10 minutes]

FOR MORE READING
This.


5. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS by Daft Funk
2007: 71-91 (5th)

SO LONG: OF Barry Bonds, 3B Pedro Feliz, 1B Ryan Klesko, C Mike Matheny, P Scott Munter, P Russ Ortiz

WELCOME: OF Aaron Rowand

PROJECTED LINEUP
1. Dave Roberts LF
2. Ray Durham 2B
3. Randy Winn RF
4. Bengie Molina C
5. Aaron Rowand CF
6. Rich Aurilia 1B
7. Jose Castillo 3B
8. Brian Bocock SS

Starting Rotation - Barry Zito, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Kevin Correia, Jonathan Sanchez
Setup - Steve Kline, Tyler Walker, Brad Hennessey
Closer - Brian Wilson

There's no dancing around this, so I'm just going to come out and say it: The San Francisco Giants are going to be absolute shit this year. Here's a number for you: 254. That's the combined number of years old the Giants 1-8 hitters are. That's an average age of 31.75 years old. Take out this Bocock fella, and that average age bumps up to 33.0. That means that pretty much everyone in the lineup falls into at least 1, if not more, of the following categories:

1. About 5-6 years past being useful
2. Not any good
3. A pitcher

That's why I present you with the number 254 again. That's how many runs the Giants are going to score this season.

PRESEASON AWARDS
Mr. Sexy Time: Tim Lincecum - I saw this guy pitch at Dodger Stadium last year, and he's the real deal. Unfortunately, his herky-jerky delivery has "arm surgery" written all over it. But you gotta love this picture of him. "Sexytime" indeed. How old is this guy, 12?

Unrest In The Middle East Makes Me Give Up Runs: The Giants Pitching Staff - Practically everyone on the Giants' staff is being lit up like a Christmas tree this spring. I know that Spring Training stats don't count and all that jazz, but it's not like their starting 5 were setting the world on fire last year either. I'm going to set up a chart on my desk and watch the Giants team ERA and gas/oil prices go up all summer long side by side. Things are bad when you can kick Russ Ortiz out of your rotation and somehow it's worse than before.

The Reason To Tie Your Child's Right Arm To Their Body: Barry Zito - Zito proved once again that as long as you're a lefty and you can have only one great year, you'll be overrated forever. Combine that with a terrible pitching market, such as the one in the 2006/2007 offseason, and you've got yourself $100+ million to suck for the rest of your career. How bad is Zito? Defying both physics and God's will, he switched from the AL to one of the better pitchers parks in the NL and still sucked a hard one.

FOR MORE READING
McCovey Chronicles
Generic MLB Giants' Site
El Lefty Malo

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