Here is the NL West progress report for the period beginning at the start of the this offseason through February 7, 2012:
Key Additions: Trevor Cahill (SP), Craig Breslow (RP), Jason Kubel (OF)
Key Losses: Jarrod Parker (SP), Collin Cowgill (LF), Jason Marquis (SP)
Aside from resigning Willie Bloomquist (Util), Jason McDonald (SS), Lyle Overbay (1B) and Henry Blanco (C), the D-Backs had been very quiet this offseason in their effort to repeat as the NL West Champions. That was until they agreed to deal youngsters Jarrod Parker (SP) and Collin Cowgill (LF) to the A’s, for sinker baller, Trevor Cahill, and reliever, Craig Breslow. While the Diamondbacks traded away some very talented youth, they received two valuable pieces in the deal who are more polished and ready to help now. Cahill is a perfect fit for the launching pad known as Chase Field, as his heavy sinker should produce many ground balls. At just 23 years of age, Cahill is a great piece to add to the Diamondbacks suddenly deep starting rotation which includes Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, and possibly former UCLA standout, Trevor Bauer, next season. The addition of Breslow gives them another solid pullpen piece to add to JJ Putz and David Hernandez.
The D-Backs still have some work to do in the infield, as they have question marks at 3B (Roberts belongs in the OF) and SS (will Drew be healthy, are Bloomquist/McDonald the answer?) still. The recent addition of OF Jason Kubel should help, as he could be a great platoon option in LF with Parra.
Key Additions: Tyler Colvin (2B), Ramon Hernandez (C), Michael Cuddyer (OF), Casey Blake (3B), Jeremy Guthrie (SP), Jamie Moyer (SP)
Key Losses: Ty Wiggington (UTIL), Houston Street (RP), Ian Stewart (3B), Chris Iannetta (C), Matt Lindstrom (RP), Jason Hammel (RP)
At the start of the offseason, the Rockies were major sellers as they traded off several useful pieces for prospects and salary relief. This appeared to be a smart move as the Rockies were able to move both some older players, Wiggington and Street, and some underperforming, mismanaged (thanks Jim Tracy) players in Stewart and Iannetta. This put them in a nice position for a minor rebuild around their locked up stars, Troy Tulowitzki (SS) and Carlos Gonzalez (OF).
Then the Rockies went out and added notable hitting free agents such as outfielder, Michael Cuddyer, and catcher, Ramon Hernandez. Cuddyer has a disciplied approach at the plate and good power, as his 20 homeruns last season in a pitcher’s park suggests. While some list Cuddyer as a utility man, he is better suited to play corner outfield of firstbase. Ramon Hernandez should give them a nice veteran presence behind the dish to help their young staff, and he showed last year that even at his age, he can be a threat at the plate. Tyler Colvin had a solid rookie season in 2010, before regressing to a terrible 2011 season in which he hit a putrid .150. The Rockies are hoping he is more like the 2010 version of himself, and that a move to Coors Field will make him a key element to their future.
The problem for the Rockies is that they still have gigantic holes in their pitching staff as they still are in need or some late inning arms and a couple of quality arms to go with the youngsters Jhoulys Chacin and Drew Pomeranz.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Key Additions: Mark Ellis (2B), Chris Capuano (SP), Aaron Harang (SP), Jerry Hairston Jr. (UTIL), Adam Kennedy (UTIL)
Key Losses: Jonathan Broxton (RP), Jamey Carroll (UTIL), Hiroki Kuroda (SP)
For a team in financial shambles, the Dodgers sure have been active so far this offseason, signing several second and third tier free agents. Mark Ellis and Jerry Hairston Jr. appear to be a small downgrade from the departed utility man, Jaime Carroll, who batted .290 last season while playing all over the infield. The Dodgers also handed out 2-year deals to journeyman right-hander, Aaron Harang, and left-hander, Chris Capuano. While both are serviceable back-of-the-rotation type starters, who should eat some innings, neither is close to being as effective as Hiroki Kuroda, who is rumored to either sign with the Yankees or retire.
The Dodgers have some elite talent on their team with Cy Young winner, Clayton Kershaw, and should be MVP, Matt Kemp, who the Dodgers made a priority to lock up this offseason with an 8-year deal. However, for the Dodgers to take a serious step forward, they will need to sign a power hitter to protect Kemp (sorry Juan Rivera), and add another good starting pitcher to back Kershaw and Chad Billingsley.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
Key Additions: Carlos Quentin (OF), Yonder Alonso (1B), Houston Street (RP), John Baker (C), Micah Owings (RP)
Key Losses: Heath Bell (RP), Wade LeBlanc (SP), Aaron Harang (SP), Chad Qualls (RP), Orlando Hudson? (2B), Mat Latos (SP)
The Padres did well in obtaining a suitable closer in Huston Street, who should benefit from pitching in the flyball graveyard that is Petco Park, and successfully replace a very good closer in Heath Bell. The Padres obtained Street in a trade with the Rockies and did not give up much, nor did they have to overpay and divvy out too many years for one of the elite free agent closers on the market.
After a slow start in their persuit to add offense, the Padres have added a couple of good power bats in Outfielder Carlos Quentin, who was obtained in a trade from the White Sox, and young mashing 1B, Yonder Alonso. These additions give them a couple of nice bats around some of their younger offensive talent like Cameron Maybin and Kyle Blanks.
Despite losing starting pitchers Mat Latos, who had ace potential, Wade LeBlanc and Aaron Harang, the Padres have the option of calling up potential ace, Casey Kelly, who was the main piece in their deal that sent Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox last offseason.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Key Additions: Angel Pagan (CF), Melky Cabrera (OF), Clay Hensley (RP), Ryan Theriot (SS)
Key Losses: Jonathan Sanchez (SP), Ramon Ramirez (RP), Andres Torres (CF), Pat Burrell (LF), Cody Ross (OF)
The Giants went into the offseason with one goal; improve one of the worst offenses in baseball without adding salary. While a formidable challenge, the Giants were able to trade the inconsistent, and recently injured, Jonathan Sanchez, to Kansas City for outfielder Melky Cabrera, and later add center fielder Angel Pagan from the Mets for Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez. For the first time in years, Sabean brought in some younger talent in his trades which should greatly add to the versatility of the team. Cabrera and Pagan both posses impressive speed which should help a team that ranked 24th in steals, and also have the range to play center field, which should go a long way in tracking balls down in the spacious gaps of AT&T Park, as well as the rest of the NL West. The one downside is that neither guy they received has the power to be a middle of the order type bat that the Giants sorely need.
While Andres Torres and Jonathan Sanchez gave the Giants very little last season, Ramon Ramirez was very good out of the pen in many different roles. Despite his value to the team, he was most likely going to be non-tendered anyways to free up some money for possible contract extensions for aces Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. The Giants should be able to fill Ramirez’s spot with their flame-throwing prospect, Heath Hembre, or get a solid, experienced veteran cheap as spring training nears. It might also be wise for the Giants to offer a veteran a minor-league deal, like Vogelsong last year, to push Zito for the 5th starter spot.