The NL West at a glance before MLB spring training begins in Arizona
Ladies and gentlemen, baseball season is (almost) here.
Before the first week of team workouts this week, the Associated Press took a team-by-team look at the National League West (aka the Colorado Rockies’ division), including key players each club acquired and lost. Will former Padres skipper Bud Black be the answer to the Rockies’ pitching woes? Or will Bochy and Co. in San Francisco keep on dominating even without Sergio Romo and Jake Peavy? Let’s play ball.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Manager: Dave Roberts (second season)
2016: 91-71, first place, lost to Cubs in NLCS
He’s here: 2B Logan Forsythe, 1B-OF Darin Ruf, OF Brett Eibner, LHP Vidal Nuno
He’s outta here: INF-OF Howie Kendrick, C Carlos Ruiz, 2B Chase Utley, RHP Louis Coleman, RHP Jose De Leon, RHP Carlos Frias
Going campin’: The Dodgers are coming off their fourth consecutive NL West title and making the NL Championship Series, so they have to be considered favorites to repeat as division champions. SS Corey Seager hit .308 with 26 home runs to become the franchise’s 17th NL Rookie of the Year. LHP Clayton Kershaw will lead a deep rotation, with fellow lefty Rich Hill re-signed as the No. 2 starter. Prized rookie LHP Jose Urias made a splash in limited innings last season and will push to join the rotation on a regular basis. They re-signed closer Kenley Jansen as the bullpen anchor and kept 3B Justin Turner as a leader in the clubhouse. OF Yasiel Puig will be in the spotlight again after nearly being traded at the midseason deadline. He could be relegated to a platoon role in the deep outfield corps unless he consistently plays at the level he showed in his first two seasons.
San Francisco Giants
Manager: Bruce Bochy (11th season)
2016: 87-75, second place, wild card, lost to Cubs in NLDS
He’s here: RHP Mark Melancon, C Nick Hundley, 3B Jae-gyun Hwang, RHP Josh Johnson, RF Justin Ruggiano, LHP Alberto Rodriguez
He’s outta here: RHP Santiago Casilla, RHP Sergio Romo, LHP Javier Lopez, LF Angel Pagan, RHP Jake Peavy, RF Gregor Blanco, INF Ehire Adrianza, RHP Joe Nathan
Going campin’: San Francisco’s run of even-year championships ended when the Giants were beaten in the Division Series by the eventual champion Cubs. The Game 4 elimination loss went the way much of the season did, with Bochy using five relievers in the ninth inning in search of any success. Instead, Chicago scored four runs to win 6-5 and end San Francisco’s season. The Giants blew 32 saves during the season, including nine in September, leading to the departures of stalwarts Casilla, Romo and Lopez, who played key roles in the titles in 2010, ‘12 and ‘14. Melancon will try to solidify the closer role after converting 47 of 51 save chances last season with Pittsburgh and Washington. With a rotation headed by Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Matt Moore and Jeff Samardzija, and a lineup featuring Buster Posey, Hunter Pence and Brandon Crawford, Melancon should have plenty of opportunities for more saves.
Manager: Bud Black (first season)
2016: 75-87, third place
He’s here: 1B Ian Desmond, LHP Mike Dunn, RHP Greg Holland, INF Alexi Amarista
He’s outta here: Manager Walt Weiss, LHP Jorge De La Rosa, C Nick Hundley, LHP Boone Logan, 1B-OF Ben Paulsen, OF Ryan Raburn, INF Daniel Descalso, RHP Eddie Butler
Going campin’: Black signed a three-year deal to take over for Weiss, who stepped down when his contract expired after four years in charge of the Rockies. They finished 75-87 last season, their best record since 2010. Black is respected for his pitching acumen, which will come in handy at Coors Field. This team has the offense and starting pitching to stay in contention for a playoff spot late into the season. The lineup includes baseball’s RBI leader from a year ago, Nolan Arenado, as well as Carlos Gonzalez, Trevor Story, NL batting champion DJ LeMahieu and Desmond, the All-Star outfielder/shortstop who’s learning to play first base this season. The starting rotation is anchored by Chad Bettis, who underwent surgery for testicular cancer three months ago and was recently pronounced cancer-free. One of Colorado’s deficiencies last season was its bullpen, which blew 28 saves. The team shored it up with the additions of Dunn and Holland, the lights-out Kansas City closer who missed last season after undergoing reconstructive elbow surgery.
Manager: Torey Lovullo (first season)
2016: 69-93, fourth place
He’s here: RHP Taijuan Walker, RHP Fernando Rodney, C Chris Iannetta, C Jeff Mathis, SS Ketel Marte, INF Daniel Descalso, OF Jeremy Hazelbaker, OF Gregor Blanco, RHP Tyler Jones
He’s outta here: Manager Chip Hale, 2B-SS Jean Segura, C Welington Castillo, RHP Daniel Hudson, OF Rickie Weeks, OF Mitch Haniger, OF Peter O’Brien
Going campin’: The cast of players isn’t much different, but there’s a new regime running things this spring. With the expensive acquisition of Zack Greinke (six years, $206 million), the Diamondbacks thought they had the makings of a contender last year, but the team faltered badly as one of the season’s major disappointments, leading to the firing of Hale and general manager Dave Stewart, and the reassignment of Tony La Russa from chief baseball officer to chief baseball analyst. The Diamondbacks went to Boston for new leadership, luring GM Mike Hazen to fill the general manager’s job and Red Sox bench coach Lovullo to serve as manager. The new men in charge did only minor tinkering with the roster, though, believing the team’s core had the talent to compete. The rotation is shaky behind Greinke, although young Robbie Ray, who had 218 strikeouts last season, is promising, and the Diamondbacks hope Walker can show the form he flashed two years ago in Seattle. The big questions are: Can Shelby Miller recover from his awful season, and can lefty Patrick Corbin build on his improved pitching after he was demoted to the bullpen last year? The top position battle is at shortstop between Chris Owings, Nick Ahmed and Marte. Expect Brandon Drury to make his permanent move to second base. There are a couple of spots up for grabs in the bullpen, although Enrique Burgos, Randall Delgado, Jake Barrett and Rodney, the team’s new closer at age 39, appear locks.
San Diego Padres
Manager: Andy Green (second season)
2016: 68-94, fifth place
He’s here: RHP Jhoulys Chacin, RHP Trevor Cahill, C Luis Torrens
He’s outta here: CF Jon Jay, C Derek Norris, RHP Tyson Ross, INF-OF Alexi Amarista, RHP Edwin Jackson, RHP Carlos Villanueva, 3B Adam Rosales, RHP Brandon Morrow.
Going campin’: The Padres are in a deep rebuilding mode and executive chairman Ron Fowler doesn’t expect them to be competitive for at least two seasons. A glaring example of the rebuild is the starting rotation, where all five starters on the 2016 opening day roster are gone. The most experienced guys in the rotation are Chacin, a free agent acquisition, and Clayton Richard, who at 33 is the oldest player on the team. The most promising pitcher returning is Luis Perdomo, who made the jump from Class A to the majors as a Rule 5 draftee and led the team’s starters in victories with nine. Perdomo began the season in the bullpen before being moved into the rotation, finishing 9-10 with a 5.71 ERA. Others expected to be in the mix for rotation spots are Jarred Cosart, left-hander Christian Friedrich and Paul Clemens. Besides sorting out the rotation, the Padres will continue the experiment of using Christian Bethancourt as a catcher, pitcher and outfielder.
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