Baseball 2011 preview: NL West outlook

Colorado Rockies manager Jim Tracy watches from the Colorado Rockies manager Jim Tracy watches from the dugout during the third inning of a spring training game against the Cincinnati Reds. (March 14, 2011) Photo Credit: AP

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1. COLORADO ROCKIES

2010 Record: 83-79 (Third place)

Manager: Jim Tracy (third season, 157-121, .565; overall 719-693, .509)

GM: Dan O'Dowd

Last World Series: 2007 (lost to Boston, 4-0)

Outlook: The Rockies, by developing a rich farm system and executing smart trades and free-agent signings, have become one of the game's model, mid-market franchises. They spent the winter making minor moves (re-signing LHP Jorge de la Rosa, acquiring IF Ty Wigginton and RHP Matt Lindstrom).

Keep an eye on: LF Carlos Gonzalez. Because he's fantastic, and because he now has the security of a long-range contract.

Final word: The Rockies will capture their first division title in team history, further enhancing GM Dan O'Dowd's restored reputation.

PROJECTED LINEUP BA

CF Dexter Fowler .260

LF Seth Smith .246

CF Carlos Gonzalez .336

SS Troy Tulowitzki .315

1B Todd Helton .256

2B Jose Lopez .239

3B Ian Stewart .256

C Chris Iannetta .197

PROJECTED ROTATION W-L

RH Ubaldo Jimenex 19-8

LH Jorge De La Rosa 8-7

RH Jhoulys Chacin 9-11

RH Esmil Rogers 2-3

RH Jason Hammel 10-9

CLOSER Saves

RH Huston Street 20

2. LOS ANGELES DODGERS

2010 Record: 80-82 (Fourth place)

Manager: Don Mattingly (first season)

GM: Ned Colletti

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Last World Series: 1988 (def. Oakland, 4-1)

Outlook: They're the Mets of the West, with an equally ugly ownership situation that hovers over the franchise's future. Beloved Yankee Don Mattingly replaces his mentor, Joe Torre, in the manager's office.

Keep an eye on: CF Matt Kemp. He seemed lost in 2010, drawing the wrath of his superiors with an apparent lack of focus. He's a potential MVP candidate if he can put it all together.

Final word: Thanks to the addition of LHP Ted Lilly and an improved clubhouse environment, the Dodgers will make it back to the playoffs, atoning for last year's disappointment.

PROJECTED LINEUP BA

SS Rafael Furcal .300

3B Casey Blake .248

RF Andre Ethier .292

CF Matt Kemp .249

1B James Loney .267

2B Juan Uribe .248

LF Marcus Thames / Jay Gibbons .288 / .280

C Rod Barajas .240

PROJECTED ROTATION W-L

LH Clayton Kershaw 13-10

RH Chad Billingsley 12-11

RH Hiroki Kuroda 11-13

LH Ted Lilly 10-12

RH Jon Garland 14-12

CLOSER Saves

RH Jonathan Broxton 22

3. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

2010 Record: 92-70 (First place, def. Texas in World Series, 4-1)

Manager: Bruce Bochy (fifth season, 323-325, .498; overall 1,274-1300, .495)

GM: Brian Sabean

Last World Series: 2010

Outlook: The defending World Series champions paid handsomely to retain last year's surprise hitting star 1B-OF Aubrey Huff, and they picked up graybeard Miguel Tejada to play shortstop.

Keep an eye on: 1B Brandon Belt. He's set to follow reigning NL Rookie of the Year C Buster Posey in a much needed youth infusion. Like Posey, though, he might not make it up until June.

Final word: Yes, their pitching is awesome, but can the lineup duplicate last year's surprisingly good (and mediocre, relative to the rest of the league) production? Don't think so.

PROJECTED LINEUP BA

CF Andres Torres .268

2B Freddy Sanchez .292

1B Aubrey Huff .290

C Buster Posey .305

3B Pablo Sandoval .268

LF Pat Burrell .252

SS Miguel Tejada .269

RF Cody Ross .269

PROJECTED ROTATION W-L

RH Tim Lincecum 16-10

RH Matt Cain 13-11

LH Jonathan Sanchez 13-9

LH Madison Bumgarner 7-6

LH Barry Zito 9-14

CLOSER Saves

RH Brian Wilson 48

4. SAN DIEGO PADRES

2010 Record: 90-72 (Second place)

Manager: Bud Black (fifth season, 317-332, .488)

GM: Jed Hoyer

Last World Series: 1998 (lost to Yankees, 4-0)

Outlook: Last year's Little Engine That Could, the Padres traded best player 1B Adrian Gonzalez to Boston and tried to upgrade their lineup by bringing aboard SS Jason Bartlett, 1B Brad Hawpe, 2B Orlando Hudson and CF Cameron Maybin.

Keep an eye on: Manager Bud Black. He won NL Manager of the Year honors by expertly utilizing a great bullpen to cover up for a weak lineup and overrated starting rotation. Can he pull that off again?

Final word: In this ultra-competitive division, the Padres won't be able to duplicate their 2010 magic.

PROJECTED LINEUP BA

RF Will Venable .245

SS Jason Bartlett .254

2B Orlando Hudson .268

LF Ryan Ludwick .251

1B Brad Hawpe .245

3B Chase Headley .264

CF Cameron Maybin .234

C Nick Hundley .249

PROJECTED ROTATION W-L

RH Mat Latos 14-10

LH Clayton Richard 14-9

RH Aaron Harang 6-7

RH Tim Stauffer 6-5

RH Dustin Moseley 4-4

CLOSER Saves

RH Heath Bell 47

5. ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

2010 Record: 65-97 (Fifth place)

Manager: Kirk Gibson (second season, first full season, 34-39, .410)

GM: Josh Byrnes

Last World Series: 2001 (def. Yankees, 4-3)

Outlook: The Diamondbacks cleaned house mid-2010 by jettisoning GM Josh Byrnes and manager A.J. Hinch. Interim manager Kirk Gibson retained the job, and former Padres GM Kevin Towers took over the baseball operations.

Keep an eye on: RF Justin Upton. Towers entertained trade offers for him and decided to hold onto the All-Star. Great things are expected of him.

Final word: Under new management, the D-Backs will have a low-set bar for them. They'll look to establish a better clubhouse culture and build up their corps of starting pitchers.

PROJECTED LINEUP BA

2B Kelly Johnson .284

SS Stephen Drew .278

RF Justin Upton .273

CF Chris Young .257

C Miguel Montero .266

LF Xavier Nady.256

3B Melvin Mora .285

1B Juan Miranda .219

PROJECTED ROTATION W-L

RH Ian Kennedy 9-10

RH Daniel Hudson 8-2

LH Joe Saunders 9-17

RH Barry Enright 6-7

RH Armando Galarraga4-9

CLOSER Saves

RH J.J. Putz 3

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