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Desperate Househusbands: The 2005 NL West
2005-01-18 06:34
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

Who are the 125 men who will cause your spirits to rise and fall this year as they pass through Stadium Way?

Most of their names appear below, in this side-by-side preview of the rosters of the National League West. Note that these are the 25 hale fellows well met whom each team might pick if the season started today. No claims are being made here that this is a foolproof list (and feel free to write in with any obvious mistakes).

The Rosters ...

Pos.	Arizona		Colorado		Los Angeles	San Diego		San Francisco
C	Koyie Hill		J.D. Closser	Dave Ross		Ramon Hernandez	Mike Matheny
1B	Chad Tracy		Todd Helton	Hee Seop Choi	Phil Nevin		J.T. Snow
2B	Craig Counsell	Aaron Miles	Jeff Kent		Mark Loretta	Ray Durham
SS	Royce Clayton	Clint Barmes	Cesar Izturis	Khalil Greene	Omar Vizquel
3B	Troy Glaus		Garrett Atkins	Jose Valentin	Sean Burroughs	Edgardo Alfonzo
LF	Luis Gonzalez	Matt Holliday	Jayson Werth	Ryan Klesko	Barry Bonds
CF	Luis Terrero	Preston Wilson	J.D. Drew		Dave Roberts	Marquis Grissom
RF	Shawn Green	Dustin Mohr	Milton Bradley	Brian Giles	Moises Alou
IF 	Alex Cintron 	Luis Gonzalez 	Antonio Perez 	Geoff Blum 	Pedro Feliz 
IF 	Scott Hairston 	Desi Relaford	Olmedo Saenz 	Eric Young 	Deivi Cruz 
OF 	Robby Hammock	Jorge Piedra 	Ricky Ledee	Xavier Nady 	Michael Tucker 
OF 	Q. McCracken 	Brad Hawpe		Jason Grabowski 	Mark Sweeney 	Todd Linden 
C 	Kelly Stinnett	Charles Johnson	Paul Bako 		Miguel Ojeda	Yorvit Torrealba 
SP	Javier Vazquez	Joe Kennedy	Odalis Perez	Jake Peavy		Jason Schmidt
SP	Brandon Webb	Jason Jennings	Derek Lowe		Woody Williams	Noah Lowry
SP	Russ Ortiz		Jeff Francis	Brad Penny		Brian Lawrence	Kirk Rueter
SP	Shawn Estes	Jamey Wright	Jeff Weaver	Adam Eaton		Brett Tomko
SP	Casey Fossum	Shawn Chacon	Kazuhisa Ishii	Darrell May	Jerome Williams
RP	O. Villarreal	Marcos Carvajal	Elmer Dessens	Blaine Neal	Jesse Foppert
RP	Randy Choate	Javier Lopez	G. Carrara		Dennys Reyes	Jason Christiansen
RP	Brian Bruney	Scott Dohmann	Duaner Sanchez	Chris Hammond	Matt Herges
RP	Mike Koplove	Brian Fuentes	Wilson Alvarez	Scott Linebrink	Scott Eyre
RP	Jose Valverde	Aaron Taylor	Yhency Brazoban	Akinori Otsuka	Jim Brower
Closer	Greg Aquino	Chin-hui Tsao	Eric Gagne		Trevor Hoffman	Armando Benitez
25th	Matt Kata		Allan Simpson 	D.J. Houlton 	Rudy Seanez 	Tony Torcato

Lurking...

Arizona: C Chris Snyder, IF Jerry Gil, OF Josh Kroeger, P Jason Bulger, P Lance Cormier, P Edgar Gonzalez, P Mike Gosling, P Brad Halsey, P Brandon Lyon, P Dustin Nippert, P Adam Peterson, P Phil Stockman
Colorado: C Todd Greene, IF Alfredo Amezaga, IF Greg Norton, IF Ryan Shealy, IF Andy Tracy, OF Choo Freeman, OF Jeff Salazar, P Aaron Cook, P Tim Drew, P Eddie Gaillard, P Javier Lopez, P Matthew Merricks, P Darren Oliver, P Ryan Speier, P Jason Young
Los Angeles: C Mike Rose, C Dioner Navarro, IF Brian Myrow, OF Jason Repko, OF Cody Ross, P Frank Brooks, P Edwin Jackson
San Diego: C Humberto Quintero, IF Tagg Bozied, IF J.J. Furmaniak, OF Freddy Guzman, OF Jon Knott, P Brad Baker, P Justin Germano, P Chris Oxspring, P Tim Stauffer
San Francisco: C Justin Knoedler, IF Lance Niekro, P David Aardsma, P Kevin Correia, P Wayne Franklin, P Brad Hennessey, P Tyler Walker

Some brief comments ...

Yes, with all the elective surgery it performed, Arizona should look better this season - in a Nicolette Sheridan kind of way. (Iím not a fan of that show, but could you find a desperate housewife for each team in the division? San Diego as hot but misstep-prone Eva Longoria? The Dodgers as Teri Hatcher - the ditzy lead? But Felicity Huffman and Marcia Cross as the Rockies or the Giants? Nah - doesn't work.) Anyway, for a good many games, the Diamondbacks will have a nice 3-4-5 in Killer Gees Gonzalez, Glaus and Green. Tracy is a promising young player who will get his shot. Vazquez and Webb are due for rebounds - heck, just about everyone on the team is. But the team has too many day players and not enough actors of substance.

Colorado has promising starting pitchers in Kennedy, Jennings and Francis, with Aaron Cook hopefully on the mend. The Rockies also seem to have made a solid effort to rebuild their bullpen, despite losing Steve Reed, and will be hoping that at least one if not two Rule 5 draftees, Carvajal and Merricks, can phenomenize. Helton is a rock, and Closser, Atkins and Holliday are among their young players with potential. This is probably not the year for Colorado, but the Rockies suddenly strike me as a team that might begin rising in 2006.

The biggest weakness for the Dodgers, outside of the mystery that is their catching, might be their bench. Antonio Perez is promising but untested. The beloved Saenz will be good against lefties off the bench, but is hopeless in the field. Grabowski had a half-season slump. Bako is a zero at the plate. Perhaps hopes can be higher for Ledee, but not all that much. The Dodgers donít seem that prepared to withstand a significant injury right now. On the other hand (or as an alien would say, on the other head), the lineup should be solid in seven spots if the Valentin-Perez platoon works out. (File this away: Out of eight Dodger lineup slots, 6 1/2 are below the age of 30.) They have the divisionís best bullpen and the best starting four on the mound. Give me whomever you think the Dodger No. 4 is - Weaver, Penny, Lowe or Odalis Perez, and Iíll take him over his counterpart with the Sans.

In case you havenít noticed, San Diego righthander Peavy is a star in the making. Quietly in 2004, at age 23, he had an ERA of 2.27 and 173 strikeouts in 166 1/3 innings. He should be the ace of the division this year. On the other hand, if you still have misgivings about the Dodger pitching, you must have them as well about the inconsistent Williams, Lawrence and Eaton. The Padresí bullpen looks great at closing out games but iffy in middle relief. The starting eight have a nice mix, but Giles (remember when he was a kid? Heís 33 already!), Klesko and Nevin might not be aging well. The bench looks decent.

Another respectable bench is in San Francisco - but boy, are the Giants going to need it. For all the grief J.D. Drew is getting, there isnít a player in the San Francisco starting eight that you can lock in for 140 games this season. (Bonds led the team with 147 in 2004, while Vizquel played 148 in Cleveland.) And here's a bold prediction: Dodgers catchers will outhit Giant catchers this year. Meanwhile, San Francisco has shored up its bullpen and has apparent depth in the starting rotation, though Rueterís longtime magic is running out (56 strikeouts, 21 home runs allowed) and Tomkoís short-time magic may be just that.. Outside of Schmidt, it is not a big strikeout staff at all: 316 strikeouts among the other four pitchers in 605 2/3 innings.

Do you know who will win the division? I don't. All the teams have vulnerabilities. Sideline Penny, Schmidt and Peavy (all of whom were disabled in 2004) with injuries, and suddenly no one is a lock to win 90 games. At this time last year, most of the world considered Arizona a contender, and look what happened. We'll know more once Spring Training begins, but once more, the NL West could turn on what payoff teams can get from their midseason moves.

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