Tuesday, March 29, 2005

NL West

Our division by division review starts with the NL West. I (Neil H) had picked the Dodgers followed by the Padres, while Neil M reversed the order. In our division reviews we will take turn around using a Q&A style to help explain our views.

RSN: Is the biggest question in the NL West the health of Barry Bonds, and the impact that has on the standings?

NYN: Barry Bonds completely changes the look of the Giants but I do not have it as a major point in the NL West as I have the Giants 3rd with or without big Barry.

RSN: Really, if Barry is back in May, you still see the Giants in 3rd?

NYN: I really do, San Francisco are not a great team yet they have a great player, pitch around Barry and you really won't get hurt too much.

RSN: Will Bonds threaten Aaron this year? Will he get enough AB's to threaten Ruth?

NYN: Look neither of us know what is going on with Barry, if the tax evasion stories do turn out to be true then he may be watching from the state penitentiary. I wouldn't like to make a prediction on Barry but I know one thing, I am starting to dislike him more and more as we hear even more things.

RSN: We both see better things for the Padres, with you tipping the Padres to take the West - what was the deciding factor?

NYN: I think Petco Park will prove to be one of the biggest Home Field advantages in the Majors and I just think they have a nice look to their line-up, Roberts is an excellent addition at the top of the line-up and Greene and Burroughs have oodles of potential to add to Nevin, Giles, Loretta and Ramon H behind the plate.

RSN: Can Peavy repeat his numbers from 2004?

NYN: He can pitch even better in 2004; he is a genuine Cy Young candidate.

RSN: One of the problems with being on the east coast (or the very far east coast where you are!) is that the Padres get very little coverage - who should people be looking out for as difference makers?

NYN: Dave Roberts, if the guy gets on he'll spark that line-up. Brian Giles is one of the most under-rated pure hitters in the game and I really like the look of Greene the SS but look at the Pads 8th and 9th inning guys, Otsuka and the great Hoffman, if they lead after 7 they'll win pretty much every single time.

RSN: You have the Padres losing in the 1st round - are they the best of a weak league or is that more a view on the strength of the Cubs?

NYN: I just think the Cubs and the Marlins have such great SP rotations on paper and you have to go with that in the post season, if Dusty goes and burns out the arms of the Cubbies hurlers, which is extremely possible then the Pads could knock them off.

RSN: I picked the Dodgers over the Padres - I like the Drew pick-up, think that Choi can start to contribute significantly this year, while the rotation and the bullpen still seems a strong point - what would your knock on them be?

NYN: How can a team that made some of the worst Deadline Day moves last summer win in 2005? Drew is a massive injury risk and who knows how Milton Bradley will react to competition for the CF spot?

RSN: I don't understand the worst Deadline Day move tag - the Dodgers still made the playoffs, and if Penny had stayed healthy (and people don't knock the Penny part of the trades) they would have posed a far more serious challenge - is Drew a bigger risk than Beltre remembering that this year isn't a contract year?

NYN: They made the playoffs in a poor division. I didn't understand why they went after Finley so hard and gave up some real talent to get him. Beltre will not be great this year but I'm not sure Drew will enjoy hitting in a big pitchers park.

RSN: I have to ask - are Red Sox fans going to giggle or cry at D-Lowe's performances in Chavez Ravine?

NYN: I think D-Lowe was very lucky he had that awesome playoff campaign, he'll be good in LA but he is not a #1 and he is their #1 which to me spells weakness.

RSN: We both see big things for the Diamondbacks and Rockies this year - at least in the L column - what can fans of these franchises look forward to in 2005?

NYN: 2006 – and don’t the Cardinals and Broncos training camps start soon?

RSN: LOL - what caused your biggest laugh in the off-season - the Diamondbacks initial trade demands for RJ, or the money they gave to Ortiz?

NYN: the latter for sure, to give an average pitcher $33m over 4 years is not great by any stretch of the imagination, certainly when you do not plan to contend, save the money for when you might have a use for it.

RSN: As I asked about D-Lowe, should really ask about Javy - will Yankee fans regret the fact that he was part of the price to get RJ (and don't worry, I am not asking if you will regret the RJ part)?

NYN: I think Javy was masking some sort of injury in the second half of last season, I think he'll go on to have a great career and feel sad that he'll be labeled with the likes of Weaver and Contreras as being unable to handle the pressure in NY as I think he could've if healthy.

RSN: Ok last one - and I am aiming for a theme here - who will be the NL West MVP, Cy Young and surprise player?

NYN: I'm going to go with Jake Peavy on the first two, I can't have an MVP from a non-winning team and think that he'll be a real anchor for them, this obviously leads to him getting the Cy Young. As for surprise player, I'm going with a throw-in from the Weaver/Brown deal of 2004, Yhency Brazoban, hard throwing right hander who will post quite awesome numbers setting up for Gagne.

Tomorrow night the AL West – has Billy Beane lost the plot?

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