Six Divisions in Six Days - NL West

Picking the Giants to win the NL West because it is an even numbered year is like picking a horse to win a race because you like its name. The Giants have won World Series in the last three even numbered years. For the 2016 season myworld will go where the money is - the $300 million payroll of the Los Angeles Dodgers, despite the funkiness of the roster.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers - Dodger fans are upset because they let Zack Greinke go. When you have money you should be able to sign anyone. The Dodgers will no longer have the Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke duo to dominate series. After Kershaw the Dodger rotation will be rather ordinary, waiting for the return to health of Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brett Anderson to spunk it up just a bit. They did sign Kenta Maeda from Japan to a contract. He fits better at the back end of the rotation. So does Scott Kazmir and Alex Wood and whomever wins the fifth spot in the rotation. At least the Dodgers will have Kenly jenson to begin the year as the closer. He missed the beginning of the season last year. The outfield lost some of its depth with the injury to Andre Ethier. That will give Carl Crawford an opportunity to show he still has the skills to be a useful every day player. He has been an asterisk ever since he left the Rays. The Dodgers will need the first half production of Joc Pederson and the 2014 production from Yasiel Puig or look for other outfielders. That is three big question marks. Another question mark is the health of Jacob Turner at third base. He has transformed himself into a top offensive third baseman but balky knees have hindered him, putting him on the disabled lists for long stretches. Corey Seager is a fifth question mark because they are putting an awful lot on a rookie based on his September plus performance. Don’t expect him to hit .340 or provide stellar defense at short. There will be short spurts of struggle. Second base seems to have a glut with Howie Kendrick getting the starting nod and Chase Utley hanging around as a utility player. The better utility option is Enrique Hernandez who can play the middle of the infield and centerfield. The one constant on the team is Adrian Gonzalez but at 33 he is moving towards the down side of his career. In 2016 he should still provide 30 plus homeruns and if the team gets men on base 100 plus RBIs.

2. San Francisco Giants (Wild Card) - The Giants always seem to have pitching and it starts with Madison Bumgarner. Over the years his arm has been eating up an awful lot of innings. Myworld is not impressed with the signings of Johnny Cueto or Jeff Samardzija to back him up. Cueto may be more effective now that he is back in the National League and Samardzija has never had sustained success. A career 4.09 ERA may be helped by pitching in a pitchers park. Matt Cain has had trouble staying healthy and Jacob Peavy is in the down side of his pitching cycle. So despite the hit the Dodgers took with the loss of Greinke the Giants have a number of question marks with their rotation. Hunter Strickland may eventually take over the closers role, but the Giants like the Santiago Casilla/Sergio Romo combination. Hunter Pence needs to get healthy or the Giants outfield will lack any kind of power. When Buster Posey moves to first Brandon Belt could play left field giving the outfield a little more juice. Belt, Posey and third baseman Matt Duffy provide the thunder in the bats. Brandon Crawford brought some thunder last year from short and he also played Gold Glove caliber defense. The Giants just fall short in overtaking the Dodgers but are still good enough to make the wild card.

3. Arizona Diamondbacks - The signing of Zack Greinke gives the Diamondbacks an ace, but that just makes them equal to the Dodgers and Giants. While Shelby Miller is a decent pitcher what follows him is filled with uncertainty. Even Shelby had trouble winning games last year despite an excellent ERA. Patrick Corbin and Robbie Ray are two young unproven pitchers who appear to have won jobs in the rotation. Ray started off strong last year but then struggled as the season came to a close. Ruby de la Rosa has to show improvements on the numbers he put up in 32 starts last year. Tyler Clippard is a steady setup man who was signed late because teams are concerned with the number of innings his arm has thrown. He could take over the closer role if Brad Ziegler struggles. The outfield is young and talented with Yasmany Thomas in left, A.J. Pollock in center and David Peralta in right. A mixture of solid defense and good power is scattered within that group. They soon will have to make room for Socrates Brito. Paul Goldschmidt is their team MVP. He has also been in the top five of the league MVP the last couple years. Jean Segura appears to have won the shortstop job, which will move either Chris Owings or Nick Ahmed to second. The loser of that job will be thrust into a utility role. Expect Brandon Drury to be lurking over the position after a torrid spring. He could also be moved into a corner outfield spot. Jake Lamb keeps Drury out of a job and has the potential to hit for twenty plus homeruns.

4. San Diego Padres - This team is in a quasi rebuilding mode after going for it last year with veterans and failing. Petco is a big park and the Padres lack the boppers to knock any balls out. Matt Kemp is the one power source and after that you have gap splitters. Alexei Ramirez should provide improvement at short where last year Alexi Amarista got most of the time. Amarista will now play a utility role. The other two outfield spots after Kemp are occupied by fourth outfielders disguised as starters. Melvin Upton Jr has still not been able to justify his large contract with a good season and John Jay was a fourth outfielder with the Cardinals last year. Will Myers will hope that the move from the outfield to first will cut down on his injuries, but he may not have the power to play the position. The starting rotation lacks an ace. At one time James Shields was an ace, but he has taken a couple steps backwards and the Padres would prefer to trade him. Joe Ross has taken over his ace role but he is also better suited for a two spot. Andrew Cashner throws hard but has never fulfilled his promise. Colin Rea will make the rotation as a rookie. The Padres traded Craig Kimbrel and signed Fernando Rodney to close games. The last couple years have been a struggle for Rodney. If he fails there is not an experienced hurler in the pen who has closer experience.

5. Colorado Rockies - There are not a lot of teams who have two players who hit 40 plus homeruns last year. The Rockies have left fielder Carlos Gonzalez and third baseman Nolan Arenado to achieve that feat last year. Expect Cargo to be traded before the trade deadline. This could open up an outfield spot to youngsters David Dahl or Raimel Tapia. Charlie Blackmon and Gerrado Parra are the other outfielders. Parra may be best used as a fourth outfielder and Blackmon used to be a fourth outfielder but now he has gone rogue. With Jose Reyes in court the Rockies will rely on Trevor Story to fill the shortstop role. This could provide some adventures on defense and some extended slumps on offense. Not much to brag about at first base (Ben Paulson), catcher (Nick Hundley) and second base (D.J. Lemahieu). These players would be backups on playoff contenders. Starting pitching may be ugly with a reliance on young pitchers. Jorge de la Rosa has had success at the Rockies park which will give him the ace tag. After that it will be a bunch of youngsters. The bullpen will be composed of three ex-closers. Jason Motte, Chad Qualls and Jake McGee have all closed but eventually failed and moved on to other teams. Miguel Castro lost out on the closing job to Roberto osuna with the Blue Jays last year.

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