Jason Stark of ESPN.com assesses the N.L. West and passes out grades for the NL West Clubs’ off-season acquisitions. He starts out by saying:
The Giants and Rockies spent millions — on their own players. The Padres waved goodbye to the face of their franchise. The Diamondbacks blew up their bullpen. And no team filled its shopping cart with more free agents than the Dodgers.
Well, that is apparent to even Ray Charles – the Dodgers signed about 1,200 Free Agents in the off-season, but how does that stack up against the other teams in the NL West? I’ll get to the Dodgers last but here’s what he says about the Giants:
But this is still a team that’s dumping its fate mostly on the rotator cuffs of that great rotation. And if those guys feel any aftereffects of all those high-leverage innings last September and October, it could be big trouble.
The Padres obviously have regressed and the D-Back should be somewhat better, but the NL West figures to be a three-team race between the Giants, Dodgers and Rockies. On the Rockies, Stark said:
But this is a team that’s essentially counting on the same cast of characters that landed nine games out of first place last year. And it’s tough to jot an “A” on the report card of a club that fits that description.
He gave the following grades to each NL West team (for their off-season activity):
- Diamondbacks – C-
- Padres – C
- Giants – C-
- Rockies – B
- Dodgers – B+
Draw your own conclusions, but I agree with Jason that the Dodgers did the most this off-season to strengthen the team. Stark concludes his analysis of the Dodgers by saying:
What remains to be seen: How the left-field jumble of Thames, Gabe Kapler and Tony Gwynn Jr. works out — and, even more importantly, how Mattingly’s managerial debut works out. This is a tough clubhouse. And this division leads the league in pitchers’ duels, where running the game matters. So as astute and well-liked as Mattingly may be, he’s in for the biggest challenge of his lifetime.
I think that San Diego and Arizona will battle for the cellar in the NL West, but I think each will win more than 72 games. I think that the Giants, Dodgers and Rockies will all win more than 84 games, with 90-92 winning the division. The Dodgers are obviously the most improved in this off-season, and if you factor in that nearly the entire team underperformed in 2010, a lot of players will be looking for redemption, to say nothing of contracts. Loney, Ethier, Kemp and Navarro are all players seeking redemption and new contracts. That’s a powerful incentive.
Ned Colletti didn’t do anything to block Trayvon Robinson, Jerry Sands, Dee Gordon, Rubby De La Rosa or other youngsters. That was prudent. Come June, he can assess the situation and determine if the Dodgers should be buyers or sellers.