NL West: Rockies, Giants, D-backs have a chance to make their move
The McCourts' divorce could hamstring the Dodgers' spending this winter
The Rockies could deal a spare outfielder for starting pitching help
The pitching-rich Giants are a team that should sacrifice defense for offense
Breaking down each team in the NL West heading into the offseason. Teams are listed in order of 2009 finish. Check out the other division previews here:
Los Angeles Dodgers
PENDING FREE AGENTS: 2B Orlando Hudson, SP Randy Wolf, SP Vicente Padilla, DH Jim Thome, IF Ronnie Belliard, IF Mark Loretta, RP Guillermo Mota, RHP Jeff Weaver, IF Doug Mientkiewicz, C Brad Ausmus, IF Juan Castro, SP Eric Milton, RHP Jason Schmidt.
PLAYERS WITH OPTIONS: SP Jon Garland ($10/$2.5M mutual -- Dodgers declined), RP Will Ohman ($2.2/0.2M club -- declined).
PROSPECTS ON THE VERGE: OF Xavier Paul, RP Josh Lindblom, IF Ivan DeJesus Jr.
BUILDING FOR: That elusive pennant.
BIGGEST HOLES: Rotation, second base.
TARGETS: SP John Lackey, SP Rich Harden, SP Ben Sheets, SP Erik Bedard, Padilla, Wolf, SP Jarrod Washburn, Hudson, 2B Placido Polanco.
BREAKDOWN: With Manny Ramirez back in the fold, the Dodgers are in good shape for 2010, with only second base and the back of the rotation behind Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley and Hiroki Kuroda needing to be filled. That's good because the divorce of team owner Frank and his wife and team CEO Jamie McCourt could hamstring the Dodgers' spending this winter. In any other year, L.A. would be going hard after Lackey and good bets to resign Hudson, Wolf and perhaps Padilla, all coming off strong performances in Dodger blue. They still might, but second base could be filled in-house by Blake DeWitt, Chin-Lung Hu or even DeJesus, and there are discounts to be had among the free-agent pitchers with injury concerns such as Sheets, Bedard and Harden. Fortunately for Dodgers fans, none of these improvements are essential, but that won't make it any less difficult to watch a good team in a large market not seize a clear opportunity to become even better.
PENDING FREE AGENTS: SP Jason Marquis, 1B/DH Jason Giambi, RP Joe Beimel, SP Jose Contreras, SP Josh Fogg, RP Matt Herges, RP Juan Rincon, RP Joel Peralta, SP Adam Eaton.
PLAYERS WITH OPTIONS: RP Rafael Betancourt ($5.4 club), C Yorvit Torrealba ($4/0.5M mutual -- Rockies declined), RP Alan Embree ($3/0.25M club -- declined).
PROSPECTS ON THE VERGE: 2B/OF Eric Young Jr., SP Jhoulys Chacin, SP Esmil Rogers, SP Samuel Deduno.
BUILDING FOR: A return to the postseason.
BIGGEST HOLES: Pitching.
TARGETS: Marquis, SP Joel Piniero, SP Derek Lowe, RP Chad Bradford.
BREAKDOWN: Breakout seasons from outfielders Carlos Gonzalez and Seth Smith and the successful rookie campaign of Dexter Fowler have given the Rockies a surplus of outfielders from which they should be able to trade for pitching help. One deal that would make sense would send right fielder Brad Hawpe, who's entering the final year of his contract, to Atlanta for Lowe. Right-handed groundball pitchers are ideal for Coors Field, which favors right-handed home-run hitters; just look at the success that Aaron Cook has had as a Rockie despite his miniscule strikeout rates. That points to retaining Marquis and/or adding Piniero, both of whom were among the leaders in ground-ball rate in 2009. The return of former ace Jeff Francis from shoulder surgery could also give the rotation a boost behind Cook and the continued emergence of Ubaldo Jimenez. Picking up Betancourt's option seems like an easy decision, though the Rockies seem to prefer to re-sign him to a two-year extension at a lower annual rate. Veteran submariner/ROOGY Bradford is a Coors-friendly reliever, though it's worth noting that Manny Ramirez owns him (9 for 18, 2 HR).
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