- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 28, 2007

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

2006: 76-86

Manager: Bob Melvin

Probable starters

LF Eric Byrnes

2B Orlando Hudson

3B Chad Tracy

1B Conor Jackson

RF Carlos Quentin

SS Stephen Drew

CF Chris Young

C Chris Snyder

Rotation: Brandon Webb, Randy Johnson, Livan Hernandez, Doug Davis, Edgar Gonzalez

Closer: Jose Valverde

Bottom line: A really interesting mix of young and old could make the D-backs a surprise contender in the NL West. Quentin, Drew and Young are future stars, while Webb (the Cy Young winner), Johnson (if healthy) and Hernandez comprise a rock-solid top three in the rotation. If they’re not ready this year, watch out in 2008.

COLORADO ROCKIES

2006: 76-86

Manager: Clint Hurdle

Probable starters

CF Willy Taveras

2B Kaz Matsui

3B Garrett Atkins

1B Todd Helton

LF Matt Holliday

RF Brad Hawpe

SS Troy Tulowitzki

C Chris Ianetta

Rotation: Aaron Cook, Jeff Francis, Rodrigo Lopez, Jason Hirsh, Josh Fogg

Closer: Brian Fuentes

Bottom line: There are some pieces here to like, such as the 3-4-5 of Atkins, Helton and Holliday. And then there are pieces that make you cringe, such as the 1-2-3 of Lopez, Cook and Francis. Think about it: Rodrigo Lopez is their ace? One of these days, this team will realize you need pitching to win.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

2006: 88-74

Manager: Grady Little

Probable starters

SS Rafael Furcal

CF Juan Pierre

1B Nomar Garciaparra

2B Jeff Kent

LF Luis Gonzalez

C Russell Martin

3B Wilson Betemit

RF Andre Ethier

Rotation: Derek Lowe, Randy Wolf, Jason Schmidt, Brad Penny, Mark Hendrickson

Closer: Takashi Saito

Bottom line: A stacked lineup and a talented rotation headlined by newcomer Schmidt makes L.A. the team to beat in the NL West. Only injuries can stop them, though that’s a reasonable concern when you’ve got Garciaparra and Kent in the heart of your lineup.

SAN DIEGO PADRES

2006: 88-74

Manager: Bud Black

Probable starters

2B Marcus Giles

RF Brian Giles

1B Adrian Gonzalez

CF Mike Cameron

SS Khalil Greene

LF Terrmel Sledge

3B Kevin Kouzmanoff

C Josh Bard

Rotation: Jake Peavy, Chris Young, Clay Hensley, Greg Maddux, David Wells

Closer: Trevor Hoffman

Bottom line: Lots to like here, starting with a rotation that includes young studs like Peavy and Young along with reliable old hands like Maddux and Wells. The lineup is lacking some punch, though, especially with Mike Piazza gone to Oakland. Someone (perhaps Kouzmanoff) needs to step up and drive in runs.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

2006: 76-85

Manager: Bruce Bochy

Probable starters

CF Dave Roberts

SS Omar Vizquel

LF Barry Bonds

2B Ray Durham

1B Rich Aurilia

3B Pedro Feliz

C Bengie Molina

RF Randy Winn

Rotation: Barry Zito, Matt Cain, Matt Morris, Noah Lowry, Russ Ortiz

Closer: Armando Benitez

Bottom line: Is anyone in that lineup under 35? Seriously. The addition of Zito will do wonders for the rotation, but as long as Bonds is still around trying to break Hank Aaron’s record and creating controversy, it’s hard to believe this team can contend.

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