By Scott Barzilla

We continue on the west coast this time around to take a look at the hotly contested National League West. The San Francisco Giants have won two World Series titles in the last three seasons, but they have hardly dominated. Each race has come down to the final couple of weeks in the last three years. As many as three teams have a very strong claim to the 2013 crown, so the Giants can’t rest on their laurels.

San Francisco Giants

The champs have some good things on their side. Their entire rotation is locked up for the season and they can reasonably expect Tim Lincecum to perform much better this season than he did last season. Barry Zito is mercifully entering the final year of his contract and he actually came close to earning his money last season. So, on the pitching side of things, the Giants are in great shape.

Assuming they re-sign Marco Scutaro, their infield should be intact too. However, the entire outfield is in a state of flux. Hunter Pence is entering the last year of arbitration. That brings a 13-14 million dollar price tag for a sub 800 OPS player. Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera are both in walk years as well. Pagan should come back, but that leaves left field as a potential hole for the World champs.

Los Angeles Dodgers

They went on their spending spree in July in August, but they might spend a little more to bring in Kevin Youkilis to play third base. That would move Hanley Ramirez to shortstop and Dee Gordon to the bench or the minors. The outfield is a bit unsettled, but if Carl Crawford is healthy they will have three regulars under contract. Given their injury histories you would like to have at least one quality reserve in the tank.

On the pitching side of things, they did re-sign Brandon League, so their bullpen is as deep as just about anyone’s. There continue to be rumors about them breaking the bank for a Zack Greinke or someone like Ryan Dempster. If they add one of those two they will become the favorite in the division.

Arizona Diamondbacks

They already dealt Chris Young to the Athletics. Will Justin Upton be next? The rumors have been running rampant about Upton going to the Rangers for Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar. The Rangers seem reluctant to deal either of those two, but such a deal would benefit both sides in at least the short term. Meanwhile, rumors are abound that Trevor Bauer could be available for the right price.

The Dbacks have the pitching at the big league level and on the farm to make a run. Their shortstop position is unsettled to say the least and they have extra outfielders. Seems to me that Upton will be on the way out. The question is what the Dbacks will be able to get for the embattled outfielder.

San Diego Padres

Believe it or not, this team is not that bad offensively. Chase Headley had a brilliant campaign and Yasmani Grandal turned out to be better than advertised. Of course, now we know why. He tested positive for testosterone and will miss the first 50 games. That means Nick Hundley will be the guy again at the start of the season. It also means that the Padres have question marks up the middle of the diamond offensively.

The pitching is really where the issues start. If Huston Street is healthy, the back end of the bullpen will be solid once again. Getting the ball to him will be a challenge. Edinson Volquez wasn’t bad, but given the home field advantage he wasn’t exactly the second coming either. Will the Padres roll the dice on some other struggling arms or will they go out and get some proven pitchers this time around?

Colorado Rockies

Keep looking at the SABR section of the site as I profile the Rockies. Total run index takes awhile to compile, but the rewards are worth it. This is the worst fielding team I have seen in quite some time. It is bad enough to where I can’t comment confidently as to how shaky the pitching staff actually is. Personally, I think if you threw even a below average defense their way they would look decent enough.

Troy Tulowitzki should be back and there is no reason to expect him not to go back to being the Gold Glove fielder he was. That’s one position down. No team can have a very good fielder at every position, but this team is staring seven substandard fielders in the face on Opening Day. Tulow is good, but he’s not that good.

Scott Barzilla

Scott Barzilla is the editor in chief at hardballchat.com. He is also the author of four books, including The Hall of Fame Index. The Hall of Fame Index was nominated for the Sporting News Award for statistical innovation in 2011.

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