Earlier: AL East, AL Central, AL West, NL East and NL Central. Also, feel free to use this post to banter about Opening Day happenings. We’ll leave this post up until the Tiger Woods press conference post at 2 pm.
1. LA Dodgers – Best balance of bats and arms in the division. Of slight concern – Manny Ramirez. Not necessarily his production – though it tailed off considerably following the performance-enhancing drugs revelations – but his bouts of moodiness and pouting. Hope Joe Torre doesn’t mind another year of babysitting. Love the top half of the rotation – Kershaw and Billingsley – but the 3rd and 4th spots leave something to be desired. Out with Wolf and Garland, in with … oh, right. Nobody. Matt Kemp will probably be a 30-30 guy this year, and Andre Ethier is clutch – 4th in the majors in game-wining RBI last year with 19. Russell Martin? Still dating a model, as best we can tell. The guess here is 88 wins and the division crown for the third year in a row.
2. Colorado Rockies – A sexy pick because of their defensive prowess, but we’d give the Dodgers the advantage in pitching and a slight advantage at the plate, too. That 2nd point is up for debate though – young cats like Carlos Gonzalez, Ian Stewart and Dexter Fowler, combined with guys who have been around for a few years (Barmes, Tulowitzki, Hawpe), plus veteran Todd Helton to form one of the top lineups in the NL. We’ll guess 85 wins and in the mix for the title until the final week.
3. San Francisco Giants – Has to be a top five pitching staff in baseball, led by the guy who we think is the best in the sport, Tim Lincecum. [Enter your Grienke arguments here, but they’re falling on deaf ears.] Problem is, the offensive is vomit-worthy (excluding Pablo Sandoval). Would have loved to have picked the Giants to sneak in as the Wild Card team, but every argument we made quickly ran into the lack-of-hitting roadblock. Eighty wins.
4. Arizona Diamondbacks – Arizona’s closer is Chad Qualls. We hear that name and instantly have a memory jog to DJ Qualls, the mopey-looking actor with perpetually-slumped shoulders whose career highlight was landing Eliza Dushku in The New Guy, a really bad movie. This scene, however, was worth the price of admission. Seventy-four wins.
5. San Diego Padres: Only reason to give half a shit about these guys this season – to see where Adrian Gonzalez gets dealt. If the young kids pan out … then in 2013 the Padres might matter. They’re not Nationals or Pirates bad, but this is probably the 3rd worst team in the NL. We’ll guess 70 wins.