The fifth of our 2013 MLB season previews looks at the NL West, home of the defending champion San Francisco Giants. While the Dodgers dominated the division in the late 2000's the San Francisco Giants have been able to win two of the last three World Series titles on the back of incredible pitching and some timely hitting. Returning much the same team as last season, the champs have to be the favorites, although they will likely face a much tougher division in 2013. That is largely due to the Los Angeles Dodgers and their massive wallet. The Dodgers added some incredible pieces during the last year and nabbed the biggest pitcher on the market in Zack Greinke. The Diamondbacks, who won the division in 2011, will also be tough, while the Rockies and Padres will likely need to catch some breaks if they are going to be competitive.
You can also take a look at our previews for the AL East, NL East, NL Central and AL West.
· Rockies Preview
· Dodgers Preview
· Padres Preview
· Giants Preview
2013 San Francisco Giants Preview
The Giants decided that if it ain't broke, don't fix it, and return mostly the same lineup as last year's championship team. The Giants also have Manager Bruce Bochy, who, with two World Series titles in three years, could be the best manager in baseball. They are very young, which bodes well for the team in the near future. Buster Posey, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford are still in their early to mid 20s and should continue to improve this season.
Giants Offensive Outlook
The top of the San Francisco lineup is stacked and Giants should be able so put enough runs on the board to for the pitching staff to finish the job. NL MVP Buster Posey led the League with a .336 batting average to match 24 home runs and 103 RBI. Pablo Sandoval missed significant time but hit .283 with 12 RBI and an OPS of .789 in 108 games and has been an impact player since day one. CF Angel Pagan will likely lead off, and with a .778 OPS should give the guys behind him plenty of chances to bring him home. Marco Scutaro was stellar after joining the Giants halfway through the season, but at 37 years old he might not match last season's production. The Giants overcame loosing Melky Cabrera's offense to a drug suspension in August last year and should still be able to score enough runs in 2013.
Pablo Sandoval is one of the more important players on the Giants roster, but played in just 108 games last season. A full season of the Kung Fu Panda paired with perhaps the NL's best pitching makes the Giants the favorites to repeat as NL West champs.
Giants Pitching Outlook
The Giants pitching staff will again be the team's strength, with ace Matt Cain serving at the staff's leader. All five starters could be the best or second-best pitchers on most staffs. Cain has pitched more than 200 innings in the past six seasons, with a career average of 222 innings a season. His career ERA is 3.27, and was 2.79 in 2012. He also had a career best 1.040 WHIP last season. The Giants front office is expecting lefty Madison Bumgarner to be even better in 2013, as he has improved WHIP each year of his three-year career, and gives the Giants one of the better righty-lefty combos in baseball.
One of the bigger question marks on the Giants roster is two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum. Lincecum struggled with command for much of last season, but was stellar out of the bullpen in the playoffs. If he comes back to form, the Giants pitching staff goes from good to great.
And there isn't much dropoff in talent in the bullpen. Sergio Romo emerged as a solid closer for the Giants last season after Brian Wilson and his beard had a second Tommy John surgery.
Giants Key Off-Season Moves
- Signed free agent LF Andres Torres (from the Mets), SS Wilson Valdez (Reds), RHP Ramon Ramirez (Mets), RHP Scott Proctor (Doosan Bears), RHP Chad Gaudin (Marlins), LF Todd Linden (Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles) and LF Cole Gillespie (Diamondbacks). Claimed off waivers RHP Sandy Rosario (Cubs) and 2B Tony Abreu (Royals).
- Did no re-sign free agents: LF Melky Cabrera (Blue Jays), LF Xavier Nady (Royals), 2B Emmanuel Burriss (Reds), LF Justin Christian (Cardinals) and RHP Clay Hensley (Reds).
2013 Los Angeles Dodgers Preview
After year's of front-office paralysis the Los Angeles Dodgers' new ownership has stabilized the franchise, as well as brought in some big-time players. After acquiring some of the biggest contracts in the majors the Dodgers want to win right now. The Dodgers were able to get Hanley Ramirez from the Miami Marlins midway through last season as well as the megadeal for Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford from the Red Sox, and will have the highest payroll in MLB history with $230 million. Manager Don Mattingly has been given the tools to make a deep playoff run, but injuries are already starting to pop up. Entering 2013 Hanley Ramirez, Carl Crawford and Zack Greinke will enter the season on the DL. And Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Crawford and Chad Billingsley all had significant injury concerns last season. They are important to the Dodgers competing for the West.
Dodgers Offensive Outlook
The Dodgers offense should be among the most dangerous in the NL, however they will have to deal with injuries to start the season which will make the back-end of the rotation a little vulnerable. But between Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier, the Dodgers should be able to put some runs on the board. Catcher A.J. Ellis was solid last year, hitting .270 with 13 home runs in 133 games. If Luis Cruz can match what he did after being called up in July last year, when he hit .297 with a .753 OPS, the Dodgers offense will be one of the toughest in the NL. But Hanley Ramirez will miss at least two months due to a thumb injury, and Carl Crawford will also start the season on the DL.
Two-time All Star Matt Kemp hit .303 with 23 home runs last year and anchors the Dodger's offense, which could be the most potent in the National League.
Dodgers Pitching Outlook
The Dodgers pitching is very deep and looks like it could be one of the best in the NL. Clayton Kershaw is perhaps the most important player on the team. Kershaw led the league in ERA the past two seasons, pitching 233.1 innings in 2011 and 227.2 in 2012. If Zack Greinke's injury isn't anything major, the Dodgers have three legitimate aces, as Josh Beckett looks healthy coming into 2013. Newly-acquired Korean lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu should be solid in the MLB.
The Dodgers have to figure out their closing situation, which could see Kenly Jansen, Brandon League and Javy Guerra get the ball in he ninth.
Dodgers Key Off-Season Moves
- Signed free agent RHP Zack Greinke (Angels), LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (Hanwha Eagles), LHP J.P. Howell (Rays), RHP Kevin Gregg (Orioles), C Jesus Flores (Nationals), 3B Dallas McPherson (Pirates), RHP Peter Moylan (Braves), 2B Alfredo Amezaga (Cubs), RHP Mark Lowe (Rangers), 2B Omar Luna (Rays), C Eliezer Alfonzo (Rockies), and C Ramon Castro (White Sox).
- Acquired via trade LHP Rob Rasmussen (from Astros) and 2B Skip Schumaker (Cardinals).
- Did no re-sign free agents RF Shane Victorino (who went to the Red Sox), RHP Joe Blanton (Angels), LF Juan Rivera (Yankees), LHP Randy Choate (Cardinals), 3B Josh Fields (Phillies), RHP Jamey Wright (Rays) and RHP Fernando Nieve (Indians).
- Traded RHP John Ely (to the Astros) and SS Jake Lemmerman (Cardinals).
2013 Arizona Diamondbacks Preview
While the Giants and the Dodgers are getting most of the attention, the Diamondbacks, who won the division in 2011, should be competitive in the NL West. After a disappointing season Arizona GM Kevin Towers traded LF Justin Upton to the Braves for Martin Prado, who will play third for the DBacks, along with RHP Randall Delgado and three minor leaguers. The trade has had its share of critics and as the season plays out we'll get to see who got the better end of that deal.
Diamondbacks Offensive Outlook
Martin Prado will play a much larger role in Arizona than he did in Atlanta, where he hit .301 with 70 RBI in 156 games. Catcher Miguel Montero is as dependable as they come and has become an important part of the young Diamondback clubhouse. Adam Eaton replaces Justin Upton in centerfield. Eaton has been solid in the minors and as a September call up. With his speed and plate discipline, Eaton will likely bat leadoff for Arizona.
Diamondbacks Pitching Outlook
Arizona could have one of the deepest pitching staffs in baseball, with as many as eight players that could start on most teams. The DBack's Ace Ian Kennedy pitched 208.1 innings and was 15-12 last season, with a 4.02 ERA and a 1.301 WHIP and 801 strikeouts per nine innings. Trevor Cahill threw exactly 200 innings last season with a 3.78 ERA. Arizona signed Brandon McCarthy, who was the Athletics best pitcher last season on their way to winning the AL West. The DBacks rotation will be rounded out by Wade Miley and Patrick Cobin, with Tyler Skaggs, Randall Delgado and Daniel Hudson (still recovering from Tommy John's) all capable of starting.
The Diamondbacks were able to grab reliever Heath Bell from the Marlins, and paired with closer JJ Putz gives them some talented arms in relief.
Diamondbacks Key Off-Season Moves
- Signed free agents LF Cody Ross (Red Sox), 3B Eric Chavez (Yankees), RHP Brandon McCarthy (Athletics), C Rod Barajas (Pirates, but won the World Series with the D-Backs in 2001), LF Eric Hinske (Braves), 3B Mark Teahen (Nationals), SS Josh Wilson (Brewers), RF Brad Snyder (Cubs), and C Wil Nieves (Rockies).
- Acquired via trade 3B Martin Prado (from Braves), RHP Randall Delgado (Braves), CF Tony Campana (Cubs), 1B Lars Anderson (Indians), SS Didi Gregorius (Indians), SS Nick Ahmed (Braves), 3B Brandon Drury (Braves), LHP Tony Sipp (Indians).
- Did no re-sign free agent 3B Josh Bell (White Sox), 1B Lyle Overbay (Yankees), C Henry Blanco (Blue Jays), RHP Matt Lindstrom (White Sox), 1B Mike Jacobs (Mariners), RHP Jonathan Albaladejo (Marlins), and LF Cole Gillespie (Giants).
- Traded: RHP Trevor Bauer (Indians), 3B Chris Johnson (Braves), LF Justin Upton (Braves), RHP Bryan Shaw (Indians), 3B Ryan Wheeler (Rockies), RHP Matt Albers (Indians).
2013 Colorado Rockies Preview
The Rockies had a very tough 2012 but have some talented offensive players on the roster. The problem, as is usually the case in Colorado, is the pitching. While Coors Field helps hitters, it doesn't do the pitching staff any favors.
Rockies Offensive Outlook
The Rockies offense should be formidable indeed, as playing in Coors Field is always a good thing for your team's ability to score runs. In Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki the Rockies have two legitimate stars that have the potential to change a season. Josh Rutledge and Wilin Rosario can get the ball out of the park at any time. Dexter Fowler had a breakout season in 2012, hitting .300 with 13 home runs and 53 RBI.
Rockies Pitching Outlook
The Rockies pitching staff was the teams weakness last year, and how far they can will largely be determined by the starting rotation. Coors Field is definitely not an asset to the pitchers. Jhoulys Chacin and Jorge De La Rosa both had terrible, injury-plagued seasons and if they can be serviceable and go deep into games it would definitely help the Rockies compete. Jeff Francis has some great command and keeps batters guessing.
Rockies Key Off-Season Moves
- Signed free agents RHP Chris Volstad (Cubs), LHP Jeff Francis (Rockies), RHP Miguel Batista (Braves), C Yorvit Torrealba (Brewers), 1B Ryan Garko (Rays), RHP Manny Corpas (Cubs), 1B Henry Wrigley (Rockies), and C Gustavo Molina (Yankees).
- Acquired by trade from 3B Ryan Wheeler (Diamondbacks) and RHP Wilton Lopez (Astros).
- Did no re-sign free agent 1B Jason Giambi (who went to the Indians), LHP Jonathan Sanchez (Pirates), LHP Jeff Francis (Rockies), C Wil Nieves (Diamondbacks), 1B Henry Wrigley (Rockies) and C Eliezer Alfonzo (Dodgers).
- Traded RHP Alex White and RHP Alex Gillingham to the Astros.
2013 San Diego Padres Preview
Have San Diego Padres new owners and fans have been showing up at Petco Park in recent years. The Padres will miss Chase Headley to start the season, and as the teams best player the absence could prove to be costly. The front office has to hope the team can stay competitive until Headley and an assortment of pitchers can join the team. In the long-term the Padres have a very deep farm system, but that won't help them much in 2013.
Padres ownership brought the walls at Petco Park in for the 2013 season with the hope of boosting the team's offense, which can use all the help it can get.
Padres Offensive Outlook
The San Diego offense picked up as the season went on last year, and should be able to pick up where they left off, although loosing Headley will be trying. Additionally, the walls at Petco Park where brought in, which should help the offense. The keys to the offensive hopes are third baseman Chase Headley, first baseman Yonder Alonso, left fielder Carlos Quentin, center fielder Cameron Maybin and the shrunken Petco Park. All Star Headley was stellar last year with 31 home runs, 115 RBI and a .286 average, but it was above his normal stats, and he will have to hit the ground running to keep San Diego's offense potent. Carlos Quentin missed major time last season, playing in just 86 games, but hit 16 home runs with a .261 average and an .877 OPS.
Rookie 2B Jedd Gyorko was good enough in Triple-A last year to land the starting job, but could move to third to start the season. Cameron Maybin and Nick Hundley do not do the Padres any favors near the end of the lineup and if they can improve it would help the Pads offense quite a bit.
Padres Pitching Outlook
The Padres pitching rotation leaves a lot to be desired and will likely struggle in the NL West. Even in the pitcher-friendly Petco-Park (despite the moved in walls), the inexperienced staff could end up being roughed up for some big runs. Edinson Volquez and Clayton Richard will be the top of the rotation guys. One positive for the pitching is that they have some talented arms waiting on the DL that should provide some stability upon their return. Andrew Cashner, who the Padres acquired when they traded Anthony Rizzo to the Cubs, is on the DL but will be an asset when he returns. Cory Luebke and Joe Wieland both had Tommy John's surgery and are an upgraded when they join the team.
RHP closer Huston Street had 23 saves with a 1.85 ERA and 10.8 strikeouts per nine innings and gives San Diego a dependable arm at the end of games.
Padres Key Off-Season Moves
- Signed free agent RHP Freddy Garcia (Yankees), 3B Cody Ransom (Diamondbacks), LF Travis Buck (Astros), and RHP Sean O'Sullivan (Blue Jays).
- Acquired via trade Tyson Ross (from Athletics).
- Claimed off waivers RHP Fautino De Los Santos (Brewers).
- Did no re-sign free agents 1B Micah Owings (Nationals), and RF Jeremy Hermida (Indians).
- Traded Andrew Werner and Andy Parrino to the Athletics.
AL East Preview · AL Central Preview · AL West Preview · NL East Preview · NL Central Preview · NL West Preview