1. Los Angeles Dodgers – Resigning Manny Ramirez was the top priority of the Dodgers this offseason and although it took 141 days, he eventually signed on March 4th. To me the biggest offseason signing is Orlando Hudson from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Hudson will bat between a healthy Rafael Furcal and Manny Ramirez priming him for a breakout season. Matt Kemp is one of the most promising young OFs and Casey Blake is a solid .275/20/80 every year, not too bad coming out of your 7th and 8th spots in the lineup. Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw will both be a year older and wiser and I think that makes a big difference this year. Closer Jonathan Broxton could be one of the best in the business if he can stay healthy and I think he will expect 88-90 wins.
2. San Francisco Giants – In 1968 the New York Mets lost 42 games when they allowed 3 runs or less and if the Giants don’t get much power out of their lineup I think they could finish with 35 losses in games they allow 3 runs or less. Tim Lincecum is the best player no one has heard of, still. Randy Johnson may be in his 40’s but he’s still 6’10” and a frightening presence when he’s on the mound. 3rd starter Matt Cain had a 3.76 ERA but only an 8-14 record, which has to turn around this season. Pablo Sandoval has been called the next Albert Pujols by a few major league scouts and I’m starting to agree with them. Sandoval is a 3B but he has gold glove caliber talent and he will need to anchor this lineup for them to finish in 2nd this year, expect 86-88 wins.
3. Arizona Diamondbacks – The DBacks got off to 19-8 start in April last year but finish 62-72 the rest of the way to miss the playoffs. Pitchers Brandon Webb and Dan Haren may be the best 1-2 punch in the NL but they don’t have any proven starters behind them. Max Scherzer was good as a reliever last year but now must transition to being a starter. Arizona let veterans Randy Johnson, Adam Dunn, Orlando Hudson, and Brandon Lyon go this offseason and I think that will prove to be a mistake, Webb and Haren will do their best to keep them in it but they’ll finish with 80-82 wins.
4. Colorado Rockies – The Rockies suffered a 113 run dropoff from their World Series team in 2007 and despite trading OF Matt Holliday I like their lineup this season. A healthy Troy Tulowitzki and Todd Helton should help regain some of those runs from 2007 along with Garrett Atkins, Brad Hawpe and catcher Chris Iannetta battting 4, 5, 6. I think the pitchers are underrated although Coors Field has always been a hitters park, Aaron Cook and Ubaldo Jiminez had ERAs under 4.00. I think the biggest question mark is whether Manny Corpas or Huston Street can hold down the closer role. I don’t think either of them are good enough, expect 73-75 wins.
5. San Diego Padres – The most intriguing aspect of the Padres this season? Seeing who they will get for starting pitcher Jake Peavy, Peavy’s $11 million salary is nearly a quarter of the entire teams salary and I don’t expect him to stay on the team any later than the 4th of July. Aside from 1B Adrian Gonzalez the offense is atrocious and this will be a season to forget for the Padres, expect 65-68 wins.