2010 record: 65-97
Biggest offseason acquisition: Armando Galarraga, who will bring with him all the luck of a man who was denied a perfect game by an indecisive umpire.
Biggest offseason loss: Mark Reynolds. Now that he’s in the AL East, could he become the first man to strikeout 300 times in a season?
How can a team with this much talent perform as badly as it did last year?: With just the right amount of counterbalancing suck.
Best name on 40-man roster: Leyson Septimo, master of darkness!
The That Guy’s on This Team? Award: Take your pick. Melvin Mora, JJ Putz, Aaron Heilman, Xavier Nady, Mike Hampton…it’s like the bargain bin at the Ex-Mets Yard Sale.
Spring standout: In a typically Diamondback-esque performance, Justin Upton already has 7 RBIs, 3 homers–and 13 strikeouts.
Probable Opening Day starter: Ian Kennedy, presumably due to his ex-Yankee pedigree. It certainly ain’t for the 25 hits he’s given up in 17 innings pitched.
Biggest question for 2011: Is this the year Arizona’s young core makes the transition from promising to disappointing?
Strengths: Well-regarded GM, no actual snakes on premises
Weaknesses: Copious amount of strikeouts can cause brief cyclones
Semi-serious assessment: The “young” Diamondbacks are rapidly becoming middle aged, in baseball years anyway, with little to show for the promise shown way back in 2007. In fact, much of that “young” lineup has been whittled away, to where it’s essentially Upton and Chris Young. The pitching has disaster potential written all over it. It doesn’t take much to compete in this division, but the Diamondbacks don’t have it.
2010 record: 83-79
Biggest offseason acquisition: The Rockies didn’t make too many moves this offseason, but according to this screenshot, they’ve found a way to clone Jose Morales.
Biggest offseason loss: Clint Barmes, not so much for his performance as his hilarious injuries.
Why do the Rockies seem to turn it on in the second half every season?: They don’t; it’s just the media trying to gaslight you.
Best name on 40-man roster: Esmil Rogers and the whole world Esmil Rogers with you.
The That Guy’s on This Team? Award: Ty Wigginton, still plugging away for lumpy white guys everywhere. He’s like a husky David Eckstein.
Spring standout: Carlos Gonzalez has picked up right where he left off, much to the chagrin of the A’s.
Probable Opening Day starter: Ubaldo Jimenez, criminally unknown for someone who’s that good.
Biggest question for 2011: Can the Rockies play more consistently all year by convincing themselves that the second half of the season comes first?
Strengths: Offense friendly ballpark, excellent skiing
Weaknesses: Thin air can impair judgment, causing front office to give ginormous contracts to Mike Hampton
Semi-serious assessment: This team puzzles me. I can’t decide if they overachieved or underachieved last year. They might have the best offense in the division, though more by default than anything else. And the pitching staff has potential. I’m vague! Let’s say I wouldn’t be shocked if they competed for the division and move on.
2010 record: 80-82
Biggest offseason acquisition: Jon Garland, the rotation equivalent of cafeteria food.
Biggest offseason loss: Russell Martin, the first of many of their homegrown players to leave for greener pastures, methinks.
Will the messy McCourt divorce negatively impact the team?: Probably not, but that’ll make a convenient excuse in case they suck.
Best name on 40-man roster: Ramon Troncoso, but only because his last name sounds like made-up Spanish. I have this habit of making fake Spanish adjectives by adding “-oso” to an English word.
The That Guy’s on This Team? Award: Jay Gibbons, immortal Oriole.
Spring standout: Matt Kemp is tearing it up so far and is poised for a great year. I was tempted to make a Rihanna joke at his expense, but I thought that might be vaguely supportive of Chris Brown. Seriously, fuck that guy every which way.
Probable Opening Day starter: Clayton Kershaw, also voted Most Likely Pitcher to Play a Young Tom Waits in a Future Biopic.
Biggest question for 2011: Did new manager Don Mattingly learn everything he knows from Joe Torre? If so, is any bullpen arm safe?
Strengths: Beautiful stadium, iconic play-by-play voice
Weaknesses: Possibility that each player will be split in half by decree of divorce court
Semi-serious assessment: I think of the Dodgers as being the Mets of the West Coast for the last 20 years or so. Both teams have spent like crazy and had nothing to show for it. Both are now being wracked by off-field nonsense. The comparison doesn’t hold up when you consider how many players the Dodgers’ farm system developed, and the fact that they’ve made the playoffs far more often. Now that I think about it, I don’t know where I was going with this. What was I saying? Oh yeah, the Dodgers won’t be very good this year.
2010 record: 90-72
Biggest offseason acquisition: Orlando Hudson, making this roughly the 800th season in a row in which the Mets needed a second baseman and did not acquire him.
Biggest offseason loss: Adrian Gonzalez. Not the worst idea to trade a player you are unlikely to resign as a free agent and get several chips back for him, except for the fact that nobody else on this team can hit.
How on earth did this team win 90 games last year?: Either a pact with the devil or they took someone else’s win while no one was looking.
Best name on 40-man roster: Ernesto Frieri, who originated the role of Pagliacci at La Scala.
The That Guy’s on This Team? Award: Aaron Harang? I have no memory of this deal being made. No one consulted me.
Spring standout: Wade LeBlanc has 18 strikeouts in 19.2 innings pitched. He’s also given up 27 hits. I think it’s gonna be that kinda year for this team.
Probable Opening Day starter: Mat Latos, as stingy with hits as he is with T’s in his name.
Biggest question for 2011: Can this team muster the strength to find a brand new way to collapse?
Strengths: An amazing stadium with built-in office space
Semi-serious assessment: In the past five years, the Padres have had several collapses to rival those of the Mets, including last season, when they led the NL West every day, it seemed, until the one day it really mattered. Looking back on it, I can’t imagine how they managed to do even this. Yes, their young pitching staff and bullpen were great, but they had zero offense–and that was with Adrian Gonzalez. With him gone, and considering the fickle nature of bullpens and possible sophomore slumping, I foresee a big step back this year.
2010 record: 92-70, World Series champions
Biggest offseason acquisition: Miguel Tejada, who is either 49 or 17 years old.
Biggest offseason loss: Not many players left, so Juan Uribe wins by default.
If the Giants won the World Series, does that mean any team can?: Of course. Except the Cubs.
Best name on 40-man roster: Madison Bumgarner, who I think was one of Bertie Wooster’s Drones Club chums.
The That Guy’s on This Team? Award: Pat Burrell. I know he’s been on the left coast for a while, but Pat the Bat needs to be cruising college bars in Philly.
Spring standout: Tim Lincecum has racked up an impressive 21 strikeouts. Even more impressively, only a few of them were thrown when he was high.
Probable Opening Day starter: Lincecum, or perhaps his creepy digital doppelganger.
Biggest question for 2011: Will the Giants handle success in the proper manner, i.e., throwing away all of their potential on wine, women, and song?
Strengths: Outstanding pitching staff, garlic fries
Weaknesses: The occasional dense fog bank, widespread civic smugness
Semi-serious assessment: It’s kind of ridiculous that the Giants won the World Series, and then again it’s not. Their lineup is a sabermetric nightmare, but their starting pitchers range from pretty good to otherworldly. Given the competition in the division–and allowing the possibility that I’m totally wrong about the Padres–I would expect them to win this division again, only much easier this time.