As a part of our MLB betting previews for the 2010 season, Cappers Info poses ten questions that should be on the minds of all baseball fans in the NL West as they prepare to make their MLB picks for the year.
Check Out all of our World Series odds at the bottom of this post
1: Does Tim Lincecum have another Cy Young type of year in him? Over the L/2 seasons, Lincecum has gone 33-12 and has posted an ERA of right around 2.50. He's also struck out 526 batters in that stretch. However, many question his mechanics and think that he is setting himself up for a major arm and/or shoulder injury. It seems like there isn't anywhere to go but down for the 25 year old, but it could be awhile before that happens.
2: Where will 1B Adrian Gonzalez be at season's end? It doesn't seem like the answer to that question is San Diego. The Padres best hitter blasted 40 homers last season, but he's clearly unhappy in his current digs. San Diego is almost certainly going to be selling at the trade deadline, and Gonzalez is its best commodity.
3: Brandon Webb: Super stud in the making or banged up has been? The answer to this tough question is probably going to be the one that decides Arizona's season. Webb threw on Opening Day last year, but left with a shoulder injury after just four innings that ended his season. What the former ace of this staff has going for him is that he was never a power pitcher, so he may be able to recover and become solid again, but any time you recover from shoulder surgery as a pitcher, there's a big question about your return.
4: Can Jim Tracy keep the Rockies going like he did last season? The Rockies rewarded their interim manager by giving him a big contract in the offseason to lead the team into the future, but he's got a lousy history as a manager and might not be a great fit for the long run. He'll have to push the right buttons this year to make up for the fact that Colorado is arguably playing in the toughest division in the majors.
5: Is Vicente Padilla a legitimate ace? Padilla is going to get the ball on Opening Day from Manager Joe Torre, but that doesn't mean that he truly needs to be the ace of the squad. With SPs Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, and Hiroki Kuroda starting off the season in the rotation, all that Padilla is going to be asked to do is put up solid numbers and be a legitimate top starter, but not necessarily a true shutdown ace.
6: Are the kids for the Diamondbacks ready to really light the world on fire? If you just look at the stats that OF Justin Upton and 3B Mark Reynolds put up last season, you'd think that the world is already ablaze. Upton blasted 26 homers and drove in 86 runs, leading the team in batting at .300. Reynolds hit 44 dongs and stole 24 bases, and he's expected to show that he has that legitimate 30/30 type of talent yet again in 2010. Anything less than 70 combined homers, 200 combined RBIs, and 60 combined steals for these two this year would be a disappointment.
7: Do the Rockies have a pitcher that can take over as a true #1? SP Ubaldo Jimenez seems to the best candidate for the Rocks, as he led the squad in wins (15), ERA (3.47), and strikeouts (198) in '09, but a 1.23 WHIP and only one complete game really don't feel like figures for a real ace. Now that SP Jason Marquis has moved on to Colorado, Jimenez may not have a solid #2 behind him in the rotation, so there's going to be more put on his shoulders to win 17-18 games this year and improve his quality start rate.
8: Is there a batter on the Giants that can be a force in the middle of the lineup? Save 3B Pablo Sandoval (.330, 25 HRs, 90 RBIs), no one else in this lineup did anything of any real note in 2009. There weren't many free agent acquisitions either, as 1B Aubrey Huff isn't going to frighten the solid pitchers in this division. The G-Men ranked 26th in the bigs in run production at 4.06 runs per game, and it doesn't look like there's any hope of doing much better than that in 2010.
9: Will Manny be Manny in 2010? Manny's mouth has already wagged this year, as he said that this will be his last season in Dodgertown. He only hit 19 homers last year in 104 games and had that 50 game ban for his illegal substance usage, but the truth of the matter is that this 38-year old probably doesn't have that much left in the tank. He's going to be expected to be a dominant cleanup hitter again for LA, but don't be surprised if he's not.
10: Bottom Line: How will the standings look in the NL West when the season is said and done? This is the question that we will pose for all six divisions and is the one of most importance. This could be the most competitive division in baseball this year, particularly if the Diamondbacks really come through and play like the team that was picked to go to the playoffs last year. The Dodgers and Rockies really look like the same type of team, and it's hard not to give the nod to one of the greatest managers in baseball history. Don't be surprised if there are four teams fighting for two playoff spots when it's said and done… Dodgers, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Giants, Padres