NL West

Despite having 2 of the top 5 starters in all of baseball, the D-backs will have a very tough time repeating.  Cracks in the line-up are already beginning to show and if Luis Gonzales doesn't provide an encore performance from last year's surprise power outburst, this team may have too much trouble scoring runs to successfully support the very mediocre bottom of the rotation.  The Dodgers have the best rotation in the division, but that is offset by a questionable bullpen and defense, and the worst offense west of the Mississippi.  The Rockies improved their offense and bullpen significantly and their starting staff has some promising young starters to complement Hampton and Neagle.  Odds are the Bonds and Aurilia won't top what they did last year and the only upgrade on offense they made this offseason is acquiring injury-prone Reggie Sanders. The bullpen is still strong but their starting staff outside of Ortiz doesn't inspire a great deal of confidence.  The Padres dramatically improved their offense and defense, largely by subtraction.  Their bullpen is better than it was last year, but their rotation is hardly intimidating.  However, they have several excellent young arms who are very close, who could help either on the field or in trade.

Predicted Finish
San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies
San Francisco Giants
Arizona Diamondbacks
Los Angeles Dodgers

(editor's note: upon further reflection, I don't believe as of this date - April 22 - that there's any way the Rockies will finish second in the division.  My amended standings has them finishing last, although not by much, with everyone else moving up one spot)