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San Diego Padres

20 Days of Thinking Blue: The toughest competition in the NL West?

The countdown has begun, kids. Opening Night (well, American Opening Night) is fast approaching as the Dodgers take on the Padres down in San Diego on March 30th. Leading up until then, MAMBINO will tackle 20 of the most important–and some not so important–questions that will get you set up for a season of almost unparalleled expectations. Let’s get it going:
Who is the Dodgers’ toughest competition in the NL West?
Can the answer be no one?
No, it can’t. This isn’t soccer. There are no ties.
Let’s get this out of the way: barring a string of injuries, the Dodgers will win the NL West. And it could be by a wide margin. Let’s take a look at the field:
Colorado Rockies: The Rox finished last in the NL West last season, and with good cause–they were pretty horrible. The team is obviously in the midst of a rebuilding movement, with Todd Helton retiring and young guys like Nolan Arenado, D.J. LeMahieu and Willin Rosario taking over key positions around the diamond. Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau should add a little more pop behind All-Stars Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki, but the problem with the Rockies is, and is usually never the offense.… Read more...

NL West Preview: Respecting the Reigning Champs, Beyond All Reasonable Logic

The reigning World Series champion San Francisco Giants should be the unquestioned favorites for the division. But looking at their opening day line-up, they’re not bulletproof. Not even close.
The roster that brought them two titles and perhaps a Scott Cousins rampage away from a third is still intact, but maybe that’s not the best thing. SS Marco Scutaro played out of his skull for the last three months of the season (.859 OPS, .362 batting average), but he’s a 37 year-old shortstop, and those age about as gracefully as whatever that’s currently replacing Meg Ryan’s face. OF Hunter Pence will be 30 in a few weeks and just came off his worst offensive season ever. The former Phillie is in a contract year, which bodes well for an improvement in performance, but he also did almost nothing to contribute to the Giants’ 2012 title. The 6-7-8 slots in the line-up are inhabited by the bodies of 1B Brandon Belt, OF Gregor Blanco and SS Brandon Crawford, who are better suited for late-game defensive replacement duty rather than everyday hitters. I would be shocked if between them they hit 15 home runs this year. Buster Posey–arguably one of the top-5 players in the entire league–is of course in the middle of the order, but he’s the only sure thing there. 3B Pablo Sandoval and OF Angel Pagan have All-Star potential, but are extremely unsteady performers.
On paper, with a line-up with so many questions and so much dead weight, how could MAMBINO possibly pick them to win the division?
Because we have to.…