NL West - January Update

Not a lot being done to change my original predictions, which are shown in parenthesis.  Arizona may have improved their team the most but still finish second even after winning this division last year.  The addition of Buster Posey and a healthy Brian Wilson should make the Giants better.  The Rockies showed the most activity, but their rotation still appears to have holes in it.

San Francisco Giants (1)

January Transactions - The signing to minor league contracts of Brian Burres and Gregor Blanco does not raise my excitement level, but that is the extent of their January moves.

Non-Roster Invitee to Make Roster - We like the February signing of Travis Blackley to a minor league contract.  He throws hard and lefthanded.  He played in Korea last year.  Years ago (2003) he had a 17-3 minor league season and was a top Mariners prospect, but arm injuries followed and his major league career 9.35 ERA makes this an uphill battle.  A good spring could land Joaquin Arias a utility job, but Ryan Theriot can do the same things and he has a roster spot.

Arizona Diamondbacks (2)

January Transactions - They resigned Joe Saunders, which makes their rotation five deep.  Now they can save bringing up a rookie until mid-season if injuries or ineffectiveness require a call up.  Craig Tatum was picked off of the Astros on waivers, but that is only to provide catching depth behind Miguel Montero.  If Montero gets hurt 40 year old Henry Blanco can not be expected to carry the catching load by himself.

Non-Roster Invitee - Jason Lane is listed as an outfielder, but his comeback is as a pitcher.  That would be a nice story if he should make the team out of the bullpen, but he will have to have a good spring.  Myworld is not completely sold on Josh Collmenter, so Tyler Skaggs could make things interesting with a good spring.  He only had 10 starts at the AA level so he has to have a good spring and one of the five rotation spots has to be injured or in Collmenter’s case, get bombed and lose the confidence of Kirk Gibson.

Colorado Rockies (3)

January Transactions - They signed free agent Casey Blake as a one year rental to keep the position warm for the 2013 arrival of Nolan Arenado.  The Rockies have to hope Nolan has a little better success at the position than Ian Stewart.  They also traded 2006 number one pick Greg Reynolds for Chad Tracy, who just so happens to be the son of manager Jim Tracy.  At best he provides an option off the bench, but that will be a tough call for the manager.  They also found their starting second baseman by trading Clayton Mortenson to the Red Sox for Marco Scutaro.  The bullpen was helped by trades of Seth Smith to the Rockies for Josh Outman and Guillermo Moscoso and the trade of Kevin Slowey for Zach Putnam.  In a February transaction they acquired Jeremy Guthrie for one of their starting pitchers Jason Hammel and part of their bullpen depth in Matt Lindstrom.  Guthrie provides a little more experience than Hammel.

Non-roster Invitees - Jamie Moyer is one year shy of 50 and the Rockies will give him his opportunity.  They do appear to have open spots in the rotation.  Brandon Wood has always shown intrigue with his power bat.  He can play multiple positions but he has to show he can hit.  Maybe the Colorado air, where the curve balls don’t break as much will be the ointment that cures him of his swings and misses.  You also can’t discount the coach’s son, Chad Tracy from making the team with a good spring.  Brendan Harris has always been a solid utility player.  The Rockies will give the first shot to Chris Nelson, but Harris has the veteran experience to take the job.

Los Angeles Dodgers (4)

January Transactions - They have been stuck in ownership limbo.  They improved the depth of their bullpen with the signing of Mike MacDougal and the February signing of Todd Coffey, but that is not enough to raise them past the Rockies.

Non-Roster Invitees - Jose Ascanio was the top bullpen pitcher in the Series del Caribe.  He will have to settle for a setup role than the closer responsibilities he had in winter ball.  Alberto Castillo never seems to go away, but that is how some lefthanders are.  The Dodgers rotation is not complete so with a good spring he could find himself in the fifth spot.  Josh Bard is a good catching alternative, but is nothing more than a backup.  Fortunatley for him, the Dodgers appear to have a bunch of backup type catchers fighting for the open roster spot so the competetion is not fierce.  Two players myworld likes, and they are middle infielders are Jeff Baisley, who at one time was a promising shortstop prospect with the Royals until injuries forced him to miss a year and Luis Cruz, who seems to bash in the winter leagues but struggles stateside.

San Diego Padres (5)

January Transactions - Their one and only move was trading super stud Anthony Rizzo to the Cubs, who was expendable after the Padres acquired Yonder Alonso, to get fireballing righthander Andrew Cashner.  While Cashner throws hard, he sometimes has difficulty finding the plate.  The Cubs used him out of the pen but the Padres could give him a rotation opportunity.  At 6′6″ he has an imposing frame and was a starter for most of his minor league career.

Non-Roster Invitee - Brad Boxberger could fill a bullpen role.  He had a good showing in the AFL to show that he was ready.  Jeremy Hermida needs a good spring to fill a fourth outfielder position.  If he can’t make the team Jeremy may want to start looking at overseas opportunities.

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