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Saturday, March 04, 2006 

NL West Offseason Report Cards

The wretched NL West is the last of the six MLB divisions to be graded by Noob Sports.

Arizona Diamondbacks
Additions: OF Eric Byrnes, 2b Orlando Hudson, P Miguel Batista, C Johnny Estrada, OF Jeff DaVanon, SP Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, RP Terry Mulholland, INF Damion Easley, RP Jason Grimsley
Subtractions: SP Javier Vazquez, 3b Troy Glaus, SS Royce Clayton, RP Lance Cormier, RP Oscar Villareal, SP Shawn Estes, C Kelly Stinnett, RP Tim Worrell

The D-Backs were forced to deal stars Vazquez and Glaus but did well to acquire the slick fielding Hudson, starters Batista and Hernandez, and athletic center field prospect Chris Young. Hudson is perfect for the National League and experts have predicted he will help the pitching staff, especially groundballer Brandon Webb, with his exceptional range. He also has decent pop (10 homers and 25 doubles in 461 ABs). El Duque and Batista are decent as #3 and #4 starters. Byrnes and Estrada are short term fill-ins until prospects Young and catchers Chris Snyder and Koyie Hill are ready. The bullpen is thin after trading Villareal and Cormier and could prove to be the weakness of the team.

All in all, it was a decent offseason in the desert. The team spent most of the winter trying to undo the damage of overspending for Glaus and Russ Ortiz. The D-Backs have an interesting blend of aging stars (Luis Gonzalez, Shawn Green, Tony Clark, Ortiz, Hernandez) and top prospects (Conor Jackson, Young, Hill, Snyder), as well as good depth (Alex Cintron, Chad Tracy, DaVanon). It is hard to imagine that this team is ready to contend, but anything can happen in the wretched NL West.

Offseason Grade: B

Colorado Rockies
Additions: RP Ray King, RP Jose Mesa, SP Josh Fogg, INF Jamey Carroll, C Yorvit Torrealba, re-signed RP Mike Dejean, re-signed P Byung Hyun Kim
Subtractions: OF Larry Bigbie, 2b Aaron Miles, RP Marcos Carvajal

Theoretically, the bullpen should be improved with the acquisitions of King and Joe Table but it's not like these guys are going to have many leads to protect. Besides, this team has an established closer in Brian Fuentes and King and Mesa are too old to be around when the team is competitive again. Re-signing Kim was a smart move, as he is still only 27 years of age.

Other than that, there really wasn't much going on in the Mile High City during the hot stove season. There doesn't appear to be much of a plan in place in Colorado, aside from keeping the payroll at a bare minimum. Let's move on to the rest of the wretched NL West...

Offseason Grade: D+

Los Angeles Dodgers
Additions: SS Rafael Furcal, INF Nomar Garciaparra, OF Kenny Lofton, RP Danys Baez, RP Lance Carter, 3b Bill Mueller, SP Jae Seo, SP Brett Tomko, C Sandy Alomar Jr., SP Aaron Sele, re-signed INF Olmedo Saenz, re-signed OF Jose Cruz Jr.
Subtractions: OF Milton Bradley, SP Jeff Weaver, SP Elmer Dessens, RP Duaner Sanchez, RP Steve Schmoll, C Jason Phillips, INF Antonio Perez, 3b Jose Valentin, C Paul Bako

Sandy Alomar Jr. is still playing?!? Apparently, the 39 year old is still chasing that elusive 112th career home run. Alomar is just one of several older players that new GM Ned Colletti brought to Los Angeles to buy time while the team's top youngsters add seasoning in the minors. For the most part, Colletti has done well. He overpaid for Furcal but bought low on Seo and Garciaparra and added Baez as an insurance policy for rehabbing closer Eric Gagne. Mr. Hamm has already made a few great plays while playing first base in spring training and I'm predicting an NL Comeback Player of the Year trophy in his future. Mueller and Lofton are good stop-gap solutions that will help the Dodgers contend this year. However, Cruz is not adequate in left and the rotation isn't exactly top notch. Of course, asking J.D. Drew, Brad Penny, Odalis Perez, and Garciaparra to stay healthy for an entire season is like asking Robert Downey Jr. and Eddie Sutton to stay sober: there is no reason to believe it will happen. Still, this as good an offseason as any in the wretched NL West.

Offseason Grade: B

San Diego Padres
Additions: OF Mike Cameron, 2b Mark Bellhorn, 3b Vinny Castilla, RP Alan Embree, SP Shawn Estes, INF Geoff Blum, OF Termel Sledge, C Doug Mirabelli, C Mike Piazza, SP Chris Young, re-signed OF Brian Giles, re-signed RP Trevor Hoffman, re-signed OF Eric Young, re-signed OF Dave Roberts
Subtractions: INF/OF Xavier Nady, SP Adam Eaton, C Ramon Hernandez, SP Brian Lawrence, RP Akinori Otsuka, RP Rudy Saenz, 3b Joe Randa, RP Chris Hammond, 2b Damian Jackson, 2b Mark Loretta, 1b Mark Sweeney

As the reigning NL West Champions, perhaps GM Kevin Towers thinks he has a team ready to contend for a World Series. How else do you explain adding so many veterans to a roster that was already collecting Social Security checks? The average age of the San Diego additions listed above is a shade under 34. The youngest starting outfielder is 33, the closer is 38, and the new platoon at catcher checks in at ages 35 and 37. And did I mention that Woody Williams is the #2 starter?

While I question the wisdom of not going younger, I actually like a couple of the moves made by the Padres. They stole Mike Cameron from the Mets, assuming he is recovered from that nasty head-to-head collision with Carlos Beltran last summer. Brian Giles re-signed for a reasonable amount (3 years, $30 million) but he will be 37 when the deal expires. Piazza is already 37, but picking him up for $2 million is a good gamble. However, none of this makes up for going with Vinny Castilla at third base, even in the wretched NL West.

Offseason Grade: C+

San Francisco Giants
Additions: SP Matt Morris, OF Steve Finley, RP Steve Kline, 1b Mark Sweeney, RP Tim Worrell, INF Jose Vizcaino
Subtractions: 3b Edgardo Alfonzo, RP Scott Eyre, RP Latroy Hawkins, 1b J.T. Snow, SP Brett Tomko, OF Marquis Grissom

Speaking of the elderly, the Giants aren't getting any younger. At least in their case, they have a reason: Barry Bonds could retire after the season. They have no choice but to patch together the best team it can in 2006, regardless of age, and see if Barry has another MVP season in the tank.

Morris fits in nicely behind Jason Schmidt in the rotation, but there is no chance he will justify his contract (3 years, $27 million). The Giants must be hoping that his presence will help the development of impressive youngsters Noah Lowry and Matt Cain. If this was 5 years ago, the lineup would be impressive. However, Moises Alou can still turn on any fastball and Omar Vizquel, Randy Winn, and Ray Durham are decent table setters. Mark Sweeney will share time with Lance Niekro at first while trading Edgardo Alfonzo opens third for Pedro Feliz (20 HR, 30 doubles, 81 RBI). It will all come down to health for the Giants in '06, especially that of Barry Bonds (thank you Captain Obvious). If none of the seniors need hip replacement surgery at the All Star break, San Francisco could steal the wretched NL West in 2006.

Offseason Grade: C-