The regular season is upon us. In an attempt to take stock of the rest of the league, we'll give you a rapid-fire tour of the rest of baseball. Continuing things with a look at the National League West and its surprising openness.
1) Let's all calm down about the Padres
The Padres completed a rather hectic offseason with trading for Craig Kimbrel and twitter was ready to hand over the executive of the year award to A.J. Preller, already. But, wait; let's all calm down about the Padres. Yes, their bullpen is now one of the best, if not the best in baseball. Yes, their rotation is now one of the best in baseball. Yes, their offense has been bolstered with the additions of Wil Myers, Matt Kemp, Derek Norris and Justin Upton.
However, the Padres still have several gaping holes. Look at their infield. Lowest projected WAR, according to Fangraphs, for any infield. Do the names Will Middlebrooks, Alexi Amarista, Jedd Gyorko and Yonder Alonso even ring a bell to you? The top of the order may be stacked, but that doesn't mean we can forget about the lacklustre five to nine spots in the order.
So, their offense isn't as good as we think and as we all know their defense is rather awful. In fact, we've already seen some brilliant errors from their outfield, including a game losing error two nights ago.
Their brilliant rotation and brilliant bullpen should thrive in the pitcher's haven of Petco Park. But, let's not forget to ask: how much of a haven will it be with Myers, Kemp and Upton roaming the outfield? How easy will it be to pitch to the defensively inept Norris? The Padres may well make a charge for the wildcard, but they are far from being a bona fide playoff team.
2) Let's also calm down about the Dodgers
Are the Dodgers going to win the West? Most likely. Will they do it with the ease, style and grace the baseball world expects them to? Probably not. Much like the Padres, while the Dodgers are indeed very good, they still have plenty of holes in their game. Go and have a look at the Dodgers' depth chart. You'll notice they currently don't even have a fifth starter pencilled in.
The one-two punch of Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke is incredible. Having Brett Anderson as your fourth starter and having, probably, Joe Wieland or Juan Nicasio as your fifth starter, not so incredible. When Hyun-Jin Ryu returns from the DL, things will get better. Their rotation is fine, but it's not the unbelievable Dodgers rotation it used to be.
The Nationals rotation, on the other hand...
The bullpen, the bullpen, the bullpen. With Kenley Jansen starting the season on the DL, the Dodgers bullpen looks as weak as ever. With an already thin rotation, a strong bullpen is almost a prerequisite for success. For example, look at the Tigers last season: strong rotation, strong offense, awful bullpen. And, as we all know, they didn't last too long in October.
3) The Giants may have shot themselves in the foot
As the offseason ended and the San Francisco Giants reported to Scottsdale for spring training, they had a roster which looked set to compete for a wildcard spot. A string of awful roster moves and injuries have decimated their roster and maybe even their chances. Last season, with a lineup which had Michael Morse, Pablo Sandoval, Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt; Andrew Susac was an important hitter and Ehire Adrianza, Juan Perez and Adam Duvall were useful bench players.
Somehow, without Morse, Sandoval, Pence and Belt; Susac, Adrianza, Perez and Duvall are now minor league players. It simply doesn't make sense.
Now, more than ever, Susac is needed in the lineup, not the minor leagues. To add insult to injury, Matt Cain has hit the DL, Jake Peavy missed his first start and Tim Lincecum is starting. But, Yusmeiro Petit -- arguably the second best pitcher on the staff -- is strictly a long reliever, according to Bochy. My head is fried. The roster could be good, but it's not. I'm frustrated. Maybe things will turn out okay.
But, hey! The Giants are 3-1 and looking like winners. Somehow.
4) The Diamondbacks and Rockies are probably irrelevant
I did like the Arizona Diamondbacks. But they've lost Miguel Montero, Rubby De La Rosa is now a number two starter (without Patrick Corbin and Bronson Arroyo,) both Yasmany Tomas and Yoan Lopez are in the minors and Mark Trumbo is taking a starting spot away from Ender Inciarte.
They won't be bad. They won't be good, either, though.
I wouldn't be wishing upon a return to October if I was fan of the DBacks, but there are plenty of things to look forward to this season; their extremely young rotation should grow and get better, Jake Lamb is looking like a stud at third base in his full season in the big leagues, we should have our first Tomas sighting soon, the team is generally very young and should be getting better with every game and, last but not least, if Trumbo wasn't there, their outfield would be really good. Oh, and Paul Goldschmidt. Of course.
I wanted to discount the Colorado Rockies. But, they haven't let me with their great start to the season.
I was planning on rambling about how weak their rotation was, picking flaws in everything to do with pitching, oh, and those park factors. But, hey, wouldn't you know it; their offense is killing it. It's killing it so much I don't want to discount them. They will probably be irrelevant in the West when the season is in the dog days, but, man, that offense. And, then, to really add insult to injury: Kyle Kendrick, opening day starter -- some how -- pitched a gem.
Small sample size, though, folks. Maybe, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez will stay healthy. Maybe, Kendrick will keep his ERA at 0.00. Maybe, okay, I'll stop. Say, hey, National League West: the Padres and Dodgers aren't as good as we think, the Giants might actually stop themselves from imploding and, the Diamondbacks and Rockies could actually be relevant. It's going to be a good season. Now; get back to watching and reading about the Astros, people.