Among Major League Baseball’s longest-running rivalries, the East Coast has the Yankees and Red Sox, considered by anyone east of the Mississippi as the most heated.
But the West Coast has its own bitter-rivalry version in the Giants and Dodgers and that’s the one all of baseball will be watching in 2013 as the California teams duke it out in what should be a two-team race in the NL West. Nothing against the other three teams in the division, but the Giants and Dodgers are the big brothers and determined to represent the division in the post-season.
For us Left Coasters, what could be better than a summer full of down-and-dirty battles between these two teams? Well, nothing really. As for the remainder of the division, well it looks like third place is their likely carrot.
The Dodgers have taken a page out of the Yankees and Red Sox checkbooks, loading up a roster of big-money, big-name players that, give or take a few million, will begin the season with a $220 million payroll. Yes, the star-studded Bums are determined to “buy” their first World Series championship in 25 years.
The fact San Francisco has won two of the past three Fall Classics infuriates the once-proud Dodgers even more. Whereas Los Angeles has had a roster makeover in the past nine months, adding the likes of RHP Zack Greinke, OF Carl Crawford, 1B Adrian Gonzalez and 3B Hanley Ramirez.
Here’s a look at the National League West:
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
2012 Record/Finish: (94-68, first place).
Rotation: RHP Matt Cain , LHP Madison Bumgarner, RHP Ryan Vogelsong, RHP Tim Lincecum, LHP Barry Zito.
Acquisitions: OF Andres Torres.
Departures: 1B Aubrey Huff, RHP Guillermo Mota, OF Xavier Nady, INF Ryan Theriot.
Comment: Just like last season, strong pitching, especially in the starters department, gives the Giants a big edge over the other NL West teams. A bounce-back season by Lincecum could be the difference between the Giants successfully defending their division championship or being overtaken by the Dodgers.
Prediction: First Place
LOS ANGLES DODGERS
2012 Record/Finish: (86-76, second place).
Rotation: RHP Zack Greinke, LHP Clayton Kershaw, RHP Chad Billingsley, LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu, RHP Josh Beckett.
Acquisitions: RHP Greinke, LHP Ryu, LHP J.P. Howell, OF Skip Schumaker.
Departures: RHP Joe Blanton, OF Shane Victorino, OF Juan Rivera, LHP Randy Choate, C Matt Treanor, INF Adam Kennedy, RHP Jamey Wright, RHP Todd Coffey.
Comment: There is no question that the Dodgers have the most imposing lineup in the division, if not the entire NL, with the likes of Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez in the middle, but the bullpen could be the Achilles heel. The loss of SS Hanley Ramirez (thumb injury) at the outset will give the team an instant test.
Prediction: Second Place.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
2012 Record/Finish: (76-86, fourth place).
Rotation: RHP Edinson Volquez, LHP Clayton Richard, RHP Jason Marquis, LHP Eric Stults, RHP Tyler Ross.
Acquisitions: Ross, RHP Freddy Garcia, RHP Wilfredo Boscan, RHP Sean O’Sullivan, RHP Brandon Kloess, RHP Fautino De Los Santos.
Departures: LHP Andrew Werner, INF Parrino.
Comment: A rebuilt starting rotation should bring solid overall results for the Padres in their spacious home ballpark, but it’s still not as good as the Giants’ veteran rotation and the offense can’t compete on an everyday basis with the Dodgers.
Prediction: Third Place.
2012 Record/Finish: (81-81, third place).
Rotation: RHP Ian Kennedy, RHP Brandon McCarthy, RHP Trevor Cahill, RHP Patrick Corbin, LHP Wade Miley.
Acquisitions: RHP Heath Bell, Delgado, Brandon McCarthy, LHP Matt Reynolds, LHP Tony Sipp, 3B Eric Chavez, INF Eric Hinske, SS Cliff Pennington, 3B Martin Prado, SS Didi Gregorius, OF Cody Ross.
Departures: RF Justin Upton, SS Stephen Drew, CF Chris Young, RHP Takashi Saito, RHP Matt Lindstrom, 3B Chris Johnson, 3B Ryan Wheeler.
Comment: Diamondbacks fans definitely will need to purchase a scorecard before the Snakes’ home opener as the number of roster changes since the end of last season are many. It’s hard to remember that the D-Backs won the NL West only two years ago.
Prediction: Fourth Place
2012 Record/Finish: (64-98, fifth place).
Rotation: RHP Jhoulys Chacin, LHP Jorge DeLaRosa, LHP Jeff Francis, RHP Juan Nicasio, RHP Jon Garland.
Acquisitions: RHP Manny Corpas, RHP Wilton Lopez, LHP Daniel Rosenbaum, C Torrealba, RHP Chris Volstad.
Departures: RHP Alex White, RHP Josh Roenicke, RHP Guillermo Moscoso.
Comment: It looks like another long summer for baseball fans in the Mile High City. The good news is that Todd Helton is back for one more (at least) season and the Rockies’ fans can shower him with love all season.
Prediction: Fifth Place
SUNDAY: AL West