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Sunday, January 24, 2021

Major League Baseball Preview: National League West

Sports writer Barry Svrluga analyzed the 2014 baseball season for The Washington Post. Here is how he sees the teams lining up in the National League’s West Division:

1. Los Angeles Dodgers

92-70, first, lost NLCS to St. Louis

Manager: Don Mattingly, fourth season.

Biggest additions: Cuban SS Erisbel Arruebarrena will almost certainly impact the heavy NL favorites. That trumps former Nats RHP Dan Haren, the new fourth starter.

Biggest losses: The Dodgers are so loaded that half a team of bench players and relievers – Skip Schumaker, Mark Ellis, Michael Young, Carlos Marmol, Peter Moylan, etc. – could retire or sign elsewhere, and they hardly notice.

Guy who makes the manager look good: In the past three years, Clayton Kershaw, above, has a 2.21 ERA, a 0.971 WHIP, two Cy Young awards – and now a record seven-year, $215 million contract.

2. San Francisco Giants

76-86, tied for third

Manager: Bruce Bochy, eighth season.

Biggest additions: RHP Tim Hudson is 38 and coming off a broken ankle, but he posted a 3.33 ERA over his past four seasons with the Braves. Former Nat Michael Morse, who hit .215 for Seattle and Baltimore in ’13, will likely play left.

Biggest losses: LHP Barry Zito will be remembered as a seven-year disappointment, but he pitched key games in the 2012 World Series.

Guy who makes the manager look good: C Buster Posey is the core in every way.

3. Arizona Diamondbacks

81-81, second

Manager: Kirk Gibson, fifth season.

Biggest additions: Former Angels OF Mark Trumbo slugged 34 homers and drove in 100 runs last year, but he must improve his .234 average and .294 OBP. Veteran RHP Bronson Arroyo arrives at the back end of the rotation.

Biggest losses: LHP Patrick Corbin, 24, coming off a breakout season, is likely to undergo Tommy John surgery, crushing the rotation. Veteran reliever Heath Bell was traded to Tampa Bay.

Guy who makes the manager look good: 1B Paul Goldschmidt led the NL in homers (36), RBI (125) and OPS (.952).

4. Colorado Rockies

74-88, fifth

Manager: Walt Weiss, second season.

Biggest additions: 1B Justin Morneau, a longtime Twin, could excel at Coors Field. Two trade acquisitions bolster the rotation: LHP Brett Anderson (from Oakland) and LHP Franklin Morales (from Boston).

Biggest losses: 1B Todd Helton (.316 with 369 homers in 17 years) retired. Longtime C Yorvit Torrealba left via free agency, and CF Dexter Fowler was traded to Houston.

Guy who makes the manager look good: After an injury-shortened 2012, SS Troy Tulowitzki hit .312 with a .931 OPS.

5. San Diego Padres

76-86, tied for third

Manager: Bud Black, eighth season.

Biggest additions: For a couple of seasons with the Marlins, Josh Johnson was among the NL’s most dominant starters. Now, after a lost season with Toronto – 2-8 with a 6.20 ERA – he finds himself in San Diego as a reclamation project who will open the season on the disabled list.

Biggest losses: Promising LHP Cory Luebke is out for his second straight season after his second elbow surgery. CF Cameron Maybin (ruptured biceps tendon) is out at least two months.

Guy who makes the manager look good: This is supposed to be 3B Chase Headley, an MVP candidate in 2012. But his production slipped drastically in 2013 (.250 average, 50 RBI). This is his last year before free agency. Will he earn a big deal?  

Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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