How the (NL) West Was Won (3/12/00)
Most people agree that Jerry Colangelo bought himself a better team last spring. The Diamondbacks had a new outfield and a new rotation (3/5 of one, at least) led by one of the most coveted free agents in baseball. Just how good this new team was gonna be was a subject of much debate. Well, it turned out that they were historically good. No, they didn't win more games than anyone ever had, but they did increase their wins from the previous season more by the largest margin in history. The "D-bucks" improved by 35 games in the standings and ran away with the NL West.
So has anyone made those kinds of strides this offseason in the West? Uh, no. But several teams have improved enough that it should be an interesting race for the division crown in 2000. In these team evaluations, each team will broken down and graded by offense, defense, starting pitching, bullpen and the management, which will include the GM's ability to adapt and improve the team. The grade given will be based on the same 20-80 point system the scouts use, where 80 is exceptional and 20 is poor.
San Francisco Giants
Los Angeles Dodgers
San Diego Padres
Well, this is all well and good, but what does it mean?!? Who's gonna win the West? Acknowledging the fact that each team in the division has obvious weaknesses - Arizona (depth, especially in the infield and the rotation, bullpen), San Francisco (injury prone and likely to get worse, defense, pitching?), Los Angeles (team OBP/scoring, defense), San Diego (starting pitching, possibly offense), Colorado (bullpen, lineup depth) - any one of these teams could win the division if things broke right for them. So I'll rank them according to where they'd finish if everything went wrong for all of them.
3) San Diego
4) Los Angeles
5) San Francisco