Sunday, December 8, 2013
NL West: Three questions for each team
By David Schoenfield
Let's wrap up our three questions series with the NL West. And then hope the winter meetings give us a couple of blockbusters.
Los Angeles Dodgers
What do they need? A third baseman if they don't re-sign Juan Uribe. Somebody to take Andre Ethier or Matt Kemp. Maybe a starting pitcher (they signed Dan Haren as a fourth guy and still have Josh Beckett and Chad Billingsley, but both are coming off injuries). Utility infielder or insurance policy for new Cuban second baseman Alex Guerrero.
Is this a championship-caliber offense? The Dodgers were only seventh in the NL in runs scored, but that was with incomplete seasons from Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig. From June 15 on, they were third behind the Cardinals and Nationals. So yes, this lineup is more than capable of leading the league in runs scored, especially if Kemp can return to something near his 2011 level. Then again, Dave Stewart, Kemp's agent, said he will attend the winter meetings, saying he believes there is a strong chance Kemp will be traded.
Is there one more big move coming? You mean David Price or Masahiro Tanaka? Sure, it wouldn't be shocking to see the Dodgers get one of those guys, but they've also indicated they don't want to completely deplete the farm system, and Tanaka may not get posted anyway.
What do they need? They've been looking for a corner outfielder and Angels slugger Mark Trumbo is a possibility. His best position is first base but he did start 97 games in the outfield in 2012, and 24 last year, and was adequate out there. He hit 34 home runs in a tough park, which means he could maybe hit 35 to 40 in Arizona. The Diamondbacks had reportedly been in on Carlos Beltran but fell short.
Who do they trade? They have starting pitching -- Tyler Skaggs, Trevor Cahill, Brandon McCarthy, Wade Miley. They'll almost certainly hold on to Patrick Corbin and Archie Bradley.
They still have three shortstops. Do they trade one? If the team is committed to Didi Gregorius, and they keep Cliff Pennington as the utility infielder, it makes sense to shop around Chris Owings, who hit .330 with Triple-A Reno at age 21 and looked good in a September cameo. But there's also something to healthy competition for a job. (They could also trade Aaron Hill and move Owings to second base.)
San Francisco Giants
What do they need? A left fielder. They recommitted to Tim Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong, deciding to live in the past rather than moving forward. Tim Hudson was signed to fill out the rotation, but otherwise they're going with the same club that went 76-86. (Granted, the back of the rotation with Lincecum, Vogelsong and Barry Zito was beyond awful, so even marginal improvement plus Hudson will help immensely.)
Who could they get for left field? Hey, they still have Gregor Blanco! The Giants have looked at free agent Mike Morse, but GM Brian Sabean has indicated he's more likely to make a trade. One Giants beat writer indicated that Ichiro Suzuki was a possibility after the Yankees signed Beltran, but at this point in his career Suzuki would be a downgrade from Blanco.
Hey, what about Kemp? Good one. No way the Dodgers would trade Kemp within the division.
San Diego Padres
What do they need? The lineup is pretty set although it lacks that big guy in the middle of the order unless Chase Headley bounces back. They've been one of the teams mentioned in the Price rumors.
What's the rotation right now? They signed Josh Johnson -- a good one-year gamble after his bad season in Toronto -- to join Andrew Cashner, Ian Kennedy, Eric Stults and Tyson Ross. If Cory Luebke can return, that's an even bigger plus. But adding Price gives them the No. 1 they lack.
Can they score enough runs? They were 12th in runs but scored more runs on the road than the Pirates, Braves or Nationals. The offense is actually more average-ish than bad once you get it outside of Petco Park. If Headley hits a little better and Yonder Alonso improves and Jedd Gyorko has a big sophomore season, this could be a good enough offense.
What do they need? Justin Morneau will replace the retired Todd Helton, leaving the rotation. Even factoring in Coors Field, the back of the rotation is terrible. The Rockies gave 26 starts to Chad Bettis, Roy Oswalt, Jeff Manship, Drew Pomeranz and Collin McHugh and they went a combined 0-19. No, that's not a misprint. They also gave 24 starts to Jon Garland and Jeff Francis. So yeah, the rotation.
So it made sense that they spent their money on Morneau? The Rockies rarely do things that make sense. Like trading Dexter Fowler for Jordan Lyles, a low-upside starter without a strikeout pitch.
OK, so who else? They're unlikely to spend money one of the bigger free-agent starters, so look for scrap-heap scrambling again, or maybe a guy like Jason Hammel or Roberto Hernandez. They've also been linked to Brett Anderson of the A's.