Dave's Sports Views

Analysis, humor and opinion on the sports world

Location: Dallas, Texas, United States

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Baseball Predictions, Part 2

Tonight we'll take a shot at the two Wests.

National League West

1) Giants -- Somehow I have a feeling that Barry Bonds will take this season as a personal quest to make his detractors fume. That means a division title for San Francisco, and a new home run record, like it or not (and nearly everyone, include me, won't).
2) Dodgers -- Three new infielders should give Los Angeles the production it lacked last year. Massive Dodger Stadium usually takes care of the pitchers' needs.
3) Padres -- They have the best pitcher in the division in Jake Peavy, but the losses from the rest of the staff are going to be this club's downfall.
4) Diamondbacks -- Bob Melvin made Arizona respectable last season, but the job to a contender will be much tougher. Youngsters Brandon Webb and Chad Tracy are a good place to start, though.
5) Rockies -- This is a baseball team caught in a football town, with a stadium that's virtually impossible to win in consistently.

Best Starting Pitching -- Los Angeles. The Dodgers don't really have an ace, but they have the best five-man rotation. And they, like most teams on the Pacific Coast, get help from their park.

Best Bullpen -- San Diego. Trevor Hoffman is 42 saves shy of Lee Smith's all-time record. The emergence of Scott Linebrink and Clay Hensley made Akinori Otsuka expendable.

Best Lineup -- San Francisco. When you've got Bonds on your team, you have the best lineup. But this is an old group hoping for one final push.

Best Defense -- Arizona. This is a division full of DHs forced to play the field (Bonds, Mike Piazza, Jeff Kent, Ryan Klesko). None of those plays for Arizona, so they get the nod. The D-Backs also have one of the few truly great defenders in the division in Orlando Hudson.

American League West

1) Athletics -- Rich Harden's health is critical, because he has the best stuff on the pitching staff. But imagine if you can a small-market team that might be the most complete in baseball.
2) Angels -- A very professional team that will battle the A's the whole way and likely end up with the wild card.
3) Rangers -- Gutsy moves by Jon Daniels have balanced what was a homer-heavy team. I just don't see enough pitching there to win consistently against the top two.
4) Mariners -- The AL West is the only division without a truly bad team. The arrival of Kenji Johjima and the emergence of Felix Hernandez will make the Mariners exciting.

Best Starting Pitching: -- Oakland. But it's close. Anaheim's starting five that might be the second best in baseball. The edge goes to the A's, thanks to Barry Zito's world-class curveball and Harden's amazing blend of heat and junk.

Best Bullpen -- Anaheim. Expect Billy Beane to go after a lefty reliever if one doesn't emerge, because the Angels have more balance. That's assuming mercurial J.C. Romero finds his potential away from Minnesota.

Best Lineup -- Texas. Power across the board, perfect for their home field, and two of the game's best all-around hitters in Michael Young and Mark Teixeira.

Best Defense -- Anaheim. Pluses everywhere and no team has a player as versatile as Chone Figgins.

Tomorrow night, the AL East and Central and the picks for the playoffs and individual awards.



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