National League West preview: Will Dodgers' deep pockets pay off?
The defending World Series champion Giants aren’t the favorites to win the National League West crown. The Dodgers and their bulging pocketbook take top billing but there is plenty of value below them in the NL West. Three out of the division's five clubs turned a profit in 2012.
Arizona Diamondbacks (2012: 81-81 - -11.34 units, 77-77-8 over/under)
Division odds: +750
Season win total: 82.5
Why bet the Diamondbacks: The rotation is back and even better with the addition of Brandon McCarthy. Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill, and Wade Miley were solid last year with a combined 94 starts and all three return for the D-backs. They added Martin Prado to a lineup that was in need of some re-tooling. Aaron Hill will enjoy the bigger gaps in a hitter's park after putting up 76 extra-base hits last year. The bullpen is a strength with J.J. Putz pitching well as the closer.
Why not bet the Diamondbacks: The lineup may be weaker with the departure of Justin Upton. The last spot of the pitching rotation is a question mark with Patrick Corbin, Tyler Skaggs and possibly Josh Collmenter fighting for it. Heath Bell struggled with Miami last season and Arizona's bench is not deep, so injuries could become an issue.
Season win total pick: Under 82.5
Colorado Rockies (2012: 64-98 - -19.36 units, 84-73-5 over/under)
Division odds: +2,200
Season win total: 71.5
Why bet the Rockies: The lineup plays well in the thin air and altitude at home, where they are capable of scoring runs. Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki and Todd Helton are back, and if healthy will still be a potent part of this lineup. The team is scrapping the pitch limit for the starters which should help them focus and also take pressure off the bullpen. When healthy, Jhoulys Chacin and Jorge De La Rosa are solid pitchers.
Why not bet the Rockies: Health is a major issue for this team. Helton is a year older and Tulo is always a threat for a trip to the disabled list. Nicasio, De La Rosa, and Chacin were all injured at some point last season. Jeff Francis and Drew Pomeranz round out the rotation and neither were good last year. The bullpen is filled with relative no-names and could struggle this season in new roles.
Season win total pick: Under 71.5
Los Angeles Dodgers (2012: 86-76 – +2.74 units, 71-82-9 over/under)
Division odds: -120
Season win total: 91.5
Why bet the Dodgers: The lineup is fierce with Hanley Ramirez, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Adrian Gonzalez. When Carl Crawford is ready, he will add another dimension of speed and contact to the group. The rotation features two of the best pitchers in baseball with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke at the top. Watch out for Hyun-Jin Ryu who led the Korean Baseball Organization in strikeouts five times. A lot of power arms in the bullpen.
Why not bet the Dodgers: The lineup struggled at times last season. Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett round out the pitching rotation and both are very inconsistent. Crawford's health will be an issue, along with Kemp and Billingsley. There has been a lot of money spent on this roster which sometimes leads to underperformance.
Season win total pick: Under 91.5
San Diego Padres (2012: 76-86 - +4.48 units, 85-73-4 over/under)
Division odds: +1,800
Season win total: 74.5
Why bet the Padres: The fences are going to be brought in closer at Petco Park, which should benefit this offensive lineup and help the power numbers for Chase Headley, Carlos Quentin and Yonder Alonso. Clayton Richard is a fantastic pitcher at home. The bullpen is still strong with Huston Street and Luke Gregorson.
Why not bet the Padres: The back end of the rotation is weak with Jason Marquis, Eric Stults, and potentially Anthony Bass. The Padres' offensive lineup is still a major question mark, especially with Yasmani Grandal out for the first 50 games of the season. The bench is weak and lacks power.
Season win total pick: Over 74.5
San Francisco Giants (2012: 94-68 - +19.99 units, 86-70-6 over/under)
Division odds: +200
Season win total: 88
Why bet the Giants: Pitching is stellar as usual with Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, and Ryan Vogelsong anchoring the starting rotation. Sergio Romo and Javier Lopez are fantastic in the bullpen as well. The offensive lineup will have a full season of Hunter Pence and Buster Posey, which should lead to better results.
Why not bet the Giants: How will Tim Lincecum be this season? He was weak as a starter, but was effective out of the bullpen. The lineup struggled scoring runs at times last year. The team also has the pressure of being the defending World Series champions. How will they handle the expectations and will there be a letdown?
Season win total pick: Over 88