Thursday, March 23, 2006


2006 NL "Worst" Preview (haha...I'm so clever)

My team previews last year were way overlong, so this year, for the sake of succinctness, I'll trim it down a little, and I'll throw out only one gratuitous Bob Marley song reference per team this time instead of like ten. I didn't even do an NL West preview last season for some reason, so we'll start off with them this time. The West was the laughingstock of baseball in '05, with the division-winning Padres taking the title with an 82-80 mark, and even they were much worse than their mediocre record showed. Improvements by the Dodgers and a full season (we hope) from Barry Bonds means the West will be a little better at least.

1. San Francisco Giants

What, you really thought I was going to pick somebody else to win the division? Did you think a guy who writes a Giants blog, doing a half-assed season preview, is really going to pick somebody like the Dodgers? Just what do you take me for? If the Giants were taking the field with a lineup fronted by Jose Macias and Denny Hocking, or a rotation being anchored by a stunningly revived Jaime Navarro, I'd probably still take them to win the West. I crazily thought they'd win it in 1997, when everybody was ready to hand the division to the Dodgers, and look what happened.

Of course, it'd be easier if we had something resembling a real ballplayer at third base, and it'd help if Brian Sabean weren't intent on blowing team payroll on guys entering their fourth decade on planet Earth. The rotation and bullpen look pretty solid, and while the 6-7-8 guys in the lineup are terrible, having Barry Bonds getting on base 60% of the time helps make the offense look not quite so bad. The key is Barry, of course. Playing 130 games, we're in it 'til the end. Less than 100, we're cooked.

2. Los Angeles Dodgers

If this weren't a Giants blog, and if I didn't have a pathological hatred of L.A., with the moves they made this offseason, I might, might have chosen them to win the NL West. As it is, they suck ass and should go down like the Hindenburg by May.

I was excited when the Dodgers fired Paul DePodesta and hired Ned Colletti. I assumed Coletti was a guy hung up on character instead of talent and would go about filling his team with "proven" guys with good attitudes like Tony Womack or something, instead of guys who could actually play. To my horror, he actually acquired some people who were good, players like Rafael Furcal, Nomar Garciaparra, and Giant prodigal son Bill Mueller. A far cry from the Matheny-esque signings that I was sure were to transpire.

So while I hate the Dodgers, I have to admit that without the ridiculous number of injuries they suffered from last year, they're looking pretty good. With lovely personalities like Brett Tomko and Jeff Kent now on the team, it just makes it a lot easier to root against them. And Ricky Ledee, he of the 1 for 182 with the Giants in 2004, is still with them? Perfect. Even with Stankeye fave Bill Mueller on the team, it's easy to gather enough hatred by pretending these jokers are a bunch of flaming neo-nazis, or by picturing Jeff Kent hopping around at second base with his pornstache ablaze. Expect a good ol' Giants-Dodgers down-to-the-wire rivalry race like in 1997 or 2004 this year. And we'll stick it to them.

3. San Diego Padres

They were the worst division winners in baseball history, edging out the '84 Royals or the '73 Mets (who could whoop the '05 Padres' asses any day of the week). They accidentally wandered into the playoffs like Richard Simmons strolling into a Christian Coalition of America meeting, and they appropriately got beat down. Moves like trading Adam Eaton for Chris Young and Adrian Gonzalez get me a little worried. Moves like trading for Vinny Castilla make those worries go away. They didn't make too many waves this offseason, and didn't make any significant improvements, so the Dodgers and Giants should blow past them in the standings.

4. Arizona Diamondbacks

Maybe the most pathetic thing about the Giants last year was that they couldn't even suck it up in the last two weeks of the season to wrest second place in the West from the hapless DBacks. The DBacks have convinced themselves that players like Shawn Green, Luis Gonzalez, and Russ Ortiz still have enough in them to make a run at the top, but it's one big delusion. Their old guys are getting older (and aren't that good in the first place), and their young prospects aren't ready. They could be studly in 2008, but this year the most exciting thing about them will be watching fat guys fall into the BOB swimming pool chasing after home run balls. Or maybe Eric Byrnes will start punching unruly fans who run onto the playing field.

5. Colorado Rockies

There's a raging debate over whether or not a baseball team can win anything while playing at such a high altitude. I say no, but nobody will ever know until the Rockies find some front office people who know what the hell they're doing. With the Devil Rays going through a management change for the better, the Rockies are now running neck-and-neck with the Royals for the title of MLB's resident dipshit franchise. They have no hitting (on the road, at least), no pitching, no defense, no direction, no plan, no upside, no promise. Other than that, no problem. Coors Field is hell on any opposing team, but don't get too excited. In 2006 they'll take it in the rear from the rest of the National League, as usual.

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