Final 2010 MLB preview. Click below to see my run down of the other divisions:
San Francisco Giants
Key additions: 1B Aubrey Huff; 3B / LF Mark DeRosa
Key losses: SP Brad Penny; LF Randy Winn
The Giants boast one of the strongest starting rotations in the majors. Of course, when you begin with a 25 year-old, two-time Cy Young award winner at the top of the rotation, you’re gonna be OK. Lincecum, Cain, and Jonathan Sanchez give the Giants three power arms; Barry Zito — massive contract notwithstanding — is a serviceable change of pace as a soft tossing lefty. Todd Wellemeyer and Madison Bumgarner round out a talented and deep stable of starters. The bullpen is capable, too, with Brian Wilson, Jeremy Affeldt, and Sergio Romo leading the charge. But scoring runs will be the real trick for this team. The bad news: the lineup lacks a bona fide slugger that strikes fear in the heart of the order. The good news: the lineup is sprinkled with veteran bats (Edgar Renteria, Aaron Rowand, Aubrey Huff, Freddy Sanchez) who know their roles and have been there before. For whatever that’s worth. Still, I think the pitching is good enough for the Giants to contend for the division title.
San Diego Padres
Key additions: SP Jon Garland; OF Scott Hairston
Key losses: 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff
The fact that 1B Adrian Gonzalez wasn’t traded during the offseason should count as a moral victory for Padre fans. But it’s probably inevitable that it happens this year, which is really not a good thing for Major League Baseball. When smaller market clubs like the Padres and Royals can’t afford to keep the players they’ve drafted or developed, these clubs just become feeder franchises for the deep pockets of Boston and New York. Does anybody NOT expect AGon to finish the season in Beantown? How long will it be before Zach Greinke dons pinstripes? At least there are some encouraging signs — the Twins record contract extension for Joe Mauer, for instance — but I could write a dissertation on this issue. As for the Padres, they’re terrible. And probably will be for the forseeable future. But they’ll deal Gonzalez and be even worse for even longer.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Key additions: OF Reed Johnson
Key losses: SP Randy Wolf; OF Juan Pierre
The “key addition” of Reed Johnson tells you all you need to know about the Dodgers offseason. I really thought the Dodgers would go hard after some of the free agent starters on the market, but they’ve decided to stand pat (I’m sure some of their ownership issues played a big role in this decision). They DID resign Vicente Padilla — the same guy who was released by the pitching-deficient Texas Rangers last summer — and anointed him their Opening Day starter. You see my point. Clearly this club has come back to the pack a bit. The offense will still be fairly efficient, with emerging youngsters Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier coupled with veterans Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake. And Jon Broxton is as studly a closer as has ever walked the earth. But the Dodgers’ success this season will depend upon the maturation of two young pitchers: Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley. We’ll see if they’re ready to take the next step.
Key additions: C Miguel Olivo
Key losses: 3B Garrett Atkins; SP Jason Marquis
This has to be the most boring division in terms of new player imports this offseason. But honestly, I’m not sure the Rockies needed much tinkering. They’ve slipped into this Bret Saberhagen-esque of every-other-year contention. The bad news: they’re due for an off year now. But if Jeff Francis can return to form, he’ll provide the Rockies a fairly deep rotation, fronted by emerging All Star Ubaldo Jiminez. With the exception of the ancient Todd Helton, the everyday lineup is full of youngsters whose best baseball is ahead of them. I’m not convinced that Ian Stewart is the long term solution at third base, but I love the power / speed blend sprinkled throughout the Rockies lineup. Don’t be surprised if Colorado bucks the trend and plays their way into October again, despite the every-other precedent.
Key additions: 1B Adam LaRoche; 2B Kelly Johnson; SP Edwin Jackson; SP Ian Kennedy
Key losses: SP Max Scherzer
When Arizona dealt young fireballer Max Scherzer to Detroit this offseason, I wasn’t a fan of the deal for the DBacks. I know Scherzer’s mechanics are all over the place and a lot of player evaluators worry about the long term health of his arm. But I just wasn’t sold on Edwin Jackson based on his second half last year. But the deal also netted Arizona Ian Kennedy, the former Yankee farmhand who was at one time spoken of in the same hallowed tones as Phillip Hughes and Joba Chamberlain. So I guess there’s something to be said for quantity, if not quality. The right side of the infield got an offseason overhaul and I love both moves; given that Chase Field is a haven for left-handed hitters, I’m expecting Adam LaRoche and Kelly Johnson to have career years (even though I couldn’t roster either of them in my recent fantasy draft). And you can take this to the bank: 2010 is the year Justin Upton asserts himself as a perennial MVP candidate. I like Arizona as a darkhorse in this division.