|  Baseball Index  |  Peter Gammons Bio


NL West spring preview

Special to

This is the sixth of a six-part spring training preview series.

AL East | AL Central | AL West | NL East | NL Central

San Francisco Giants
2000: 97-65, 1st place, lost to Mets in Division Series

Offseason transactions: Traded 3B Bill Mueller to the Cubs for RHP Tim Worrell. Lost FAs OF Ellis Burks, C Scott Servais. Signed FAs OF Shawon Dunston, OF Eric Davis, RHP Jamie Arnold. Re-signed RHP Mark Gardner.

Rookies and other strangers: 3B Pedro Feliz (.298. 33 HR, AAA). RHP Kurt Ainsworth (10-9, AA). RHP Ryan Vogelsong (8-10, AA).

Runs scored/allowed: 925-747, +178

Runs: 925
Slugging/On-base pct.: .472/.362
OPS: .834
Home runs: 226
BB/K: 709/1032
SB/CS: 79-39
1-2-3 OBP: .341/.334/.436

Understand how good the Giants were last season. They outscored opponents by 178 runs; the next-best differential in the division was Colorado's +71. Their offensive OPS was an astounding 80 points higher than their pitchers' OPS. As long as Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent are in the middle of the order, they are formidable. Marvin Bernard has not been a prototypical leadoff hitter, and now they don't have Mueller in the two-hole or Burks in the clubhouse and the middle of the lineup. So they adjust. Either Russ Davis or the touted Feliz will provide more power at third, and they'll use a combination of Armando Rios, Eric Davis and Dunston in right. Remember, Rich Aurilia has led NL shortstops in homers and RBI two straight years. Before the end of the season, they may need to patch some holes, but GM Brian Sabean has proven to be a genius at understanding what fits where at warehouse prices.

Runs allowed/ERA: 747/4.21
OPS: .754
Groundball/flyball ratio: 1.18
Starters: 71-45, 4.28
Starters' innings pitched: 1014
Quality starts: 88
Bullpen: 26-20, 4.04
Saves-opportunities: 47-70
Appearances/innings: 384/430.1

Other staffs get more publicity, but the Giants starters led the division in wins, quality starts and innings and tied the Dodgers in ERA. Livan Hernandez is a 240-inning horse who keeps getting better, Russ Ortiz bounced back with a 10-4 second half, Kirk Reuter the last four years has started from 31 to 33 games and thrown between 184-191 innings and Sean Estes has great skill. Mark Gardner had a solid fifth-starter season, and Joe Nathan is coming off surgery with all his talent. And don't blink, because Ainsworth or one of the other kids could come up on the inside.

Then there's Robb Nen, who closed his last 24 opportunities and in the second half when he allowed just 13 baserunners in 31 2/3 innings. Felix Rodriguez matured into a big-time set-up man, and with Worrell, Nathan and John Johnstone from the right side and Alan Embree and Aaron Fultz on the left, the pen is deep.

Errors: 93
Unearned runs allowed: 72
Opponents SB pct.: 67

The Giants led the league in fewest errors, which was important in what turned out to be a pitcher's park. They don't have flashy defenders except for the brilliant J.T. Snow, but they play the game fundamentally and with few mistakes.

Ballpark factors, 1998-2000
Runs per game: 15th
Home runs per at-bat: 10th

When they unveiled that 309 marker down the right-field line in front of McCovey's Cove, many predicted this would be Enron West. Not so, because there are a lot of places to pitch to.

Spring training questions
Is Nathan OK? Can Feliz push Russ Davis out of the way at third? Can they get by with the tag-team approach in right field? Will the last year of Bonds' contract be a distraction?

2001 team song: "Rock Me on the Water"

Los Angeles Dodgers
2000: 86-76, 2nd place, 11 games back

Offseason transactions: Signed FA RHPs Andy Ashby and Ramon Martinez. Lost FAs, C Todd Hundley, RHP Ismael Valdes. Re-signed RHP Darren Dreifort, C Chad Kreuter, OF Bruce Aven, PH Dave Hansen.

Rookies and other strangers: Invited LHPs Jesse Orosco, Matt Whisenant, Yorkis Perez, Eddie Priest and IFs Tim Bogar, Aaron Ledesma to camp. LHP Jeff Williams (4-7, AAA). RHP Mike Judd (7-6, AAA). LHP Adrian Burnside (6-5, AA). C Angel Pena (.308, AAA). Util. Hiram Bocachica (.323, 23 HR, AAA).

Runs scored/allowed: 798-729, +63

Runs: 798
Slugging/On-base pct.: .431/.341
OPS: .772
Home runs: 211
BB/K: 668/1083
SB/CS: 95/42
1-2-3 OBP: .308/.337/.402

This has been an odd offensive team, despite its glamour names, and to lose Gary Sheffield would put a huge hole in the middle of the lineup. They really don't have a leadoff hitter, as evidenced by the .308 leadoff on-base percentage, and while Tom Goodwin is enthusiastic, his hitting is questioned. Shawn Green is better than last season, and Adrian Beltre is on the track to stardom. But Eric Karros can be pitched to and the Alex Cora/Chad Kreuter tandem makes for what could be a quick pass through the bottom third of the order. This is a team built on pitching, but still, the offense needs be more consistent.

Runs allowed/ERA: 729/4.10
OPS: .739
Groundball/flyball ratio: 1.18
Starters: 54-51, 4.28
Starters' innings pitched: 966
Quality starts: 87
Bullpen: 32-25, 3.76
Saves-opportunities: 36-59
Appearances/innings: 371/479

Kevin Brown is one of the three best pitchers in the game. Now, was the 17-6 second half of Chan Ho Park and Darren Dreifort the maturing of two great arms, or two great contract runs? Ashby is a solid fourth starter, and they want to see Luke Prokopec, Eric Gagne or another kid take the fifth spot if Ramon Martinez does not.

Jeff Shaw is a solid closer, with Terry Adams, Mike Fetters, Gregg Olson, Antonio Osuna, Matt Herges ... they are all right-handed. If Orosco (who gets $1.3M guaranteed), Adrian Burnside, Onan Masaoka or some lefty makes it, all the better.

Errors: 135
Unearned runs allowed: 70
Opponents SB pct.: 67

Those 135 errors on a groundball staff don't cut it. Cora has terrific hands, and Beltre just needs a little more consistency. The right side of the infield is subject to some question, and the pitchers occasionally grumble that Devon White should get more time in center and the corner positions.

Ballpark factors, 1998-2000
Runs per game: 14th
Home runs per at-bat: 7th

Dodger Stadium has always been a pitcher's park, and still is. The Dodgers have built a formidable power pitching staff. What they have to compliment that staff will determine how far they go.

Spring training questions

How will the Sheffield issue be resolved? Is Kreuter the answer behind the plate, or will they have to catch Paul LoDuca or Angel Pena, talented and younger receivers? Can Ramon Martinez come back? Can White be utilized in the outfield? Who will win the lefty relief job(s)?

2001 team song: "(If I ever get off of that) L.A. Freeway (without getting killed or caught)"

Arizona Diamondbacks
2000: 85-77, 3rd place, 12 games back

Offseason transactions: Signed FAs 1B Mark Grace, OF Reggie Sanders, OF Midre Cummings, RHP Miguel Batista. Lost FA Dan Plesac. Re-signed RHPs Armando Reynoso and Mike Morgan.

Rookies and other strangers: RHP Bobby Witt. LHP Jason Jacome. LHP Nick Bierbrodt (2-1, AAA). SS Alex Cintron (.301, AA). OF Jack Cust (.293, 20 HR, AA). Runs scored/allowed: 792-754, +28

Runs: 792
Slugging/On-base pct.: .429/.333
OPS: .762
Home runs: 179
BB/K: 535/975
SB/CS: 97/44
1-2-3 OBP: .311/.353/.394

Not a lot went right the third time around, which cost Fox an analyst, and gave ESPN one in return. Tony Womack plays hard and can score from first, but his ability to get on base needs to improve. One cannot ask more from Steve Finley or Luis Gonzalez and Grace is going to help, but how much the D-Backs produce will depend on the health of Matt Williams (who dropped 95 RBI from '99), the age of Jay Bell (who dropped 20 homers) and the platoon of Sanders and Erubial Durazo in right -- although Danny Bautista is an excellent role player. They don't have to tear down the walls with their pitching, but 179 homers and fewer runs than everyone in the division but the Pads won't get them back in the playoffs, not when they have to play so many games in what could be the deepest division in either league.

Runs allowed/ERA: 754/4.35
OPS: .750
Groundball/flyball ratio: 1.19
Starters: 62-53, 4.36
Starters' innings pitched: 1003.1
Quality starts: 84
Bullpen: 23-24, 4.33
Saves-opportunities: 38-56
Appearances/innings: 390/440.1

There is every reason to expect that a year off surgery that Curt Schilling will be back, dominant; he and Randy Johnson led the league with eight complete games apiece as it was. They could be a devastating 40-win, 500-inning combination, and Brian Anderson has matured into a top left-handed starter. Todd Stottlemyre's heart/health ratio is always a concern.

Matt Mantei scares you, with his delivery and medical history, but he has filthy stuff, and with Byung Hyun Kim, Greg Swindell, Geraldo Guzman, Russ Springer and Morgan they hope they have enough depth. With the innings that Johnson and Schilling should run up, there won't be much strain on the bullpen.

Errors: 107
Unearned runs allowed: 56
Opponents' SB pct.: 65

All age jokes aside, the worry is whether or not Williams can hold up. If he does, they have a Gold Glove-quality third baseman, first baseman and center fielder, then patch around them. Bell and Gonzalez won't make mental or physical mistakes, and know what to do.

Ballpark factors, 1998-2000
Runs per game: 6th
Home runs per at-bat: 12th

They've found that The Bob plays pretty true, good news for a team built on pitching.

Spring training questions
Is Williams healthy? Can Sanders and Durazo handle right? How is Stottlemyre? How does the middle of the bullpen line up?

2001 team song: "Old Folks Boogie"

Colorado Rockies
2000: 82-80, 4th place, 15 games back

Offseason transactions: Signed FA LHPs Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle, OF Ron Gant, 3B Greg Norton, OF Roberto Kelly. Lost FA OF Jeffrey Hammonds, RHP Julian Tavarez, 2B Jeff Frye. Traded two minor leaguers to Cincinnati for LHP Ron Villone.

Rookies and other strangers: RHP Shawn Chacon (10-10, AA). RHP John Thomson (0-1, AAA). IF Juan Sosa (.274, 9 HR, AAA). IF Brent Butler (.292, AAA).

Runs scored/allowed: 968-897, +71

Runs: 968
Slugging/On-base pct.: .455/.362
OPS: .817
Home runs: 161
BB/K: 601/907
SB/CS: 131/61
1-2-3 OBP: .344/.325/.401

This was not your brothers' Rockies -- 161 home runs in Coors Lite? Dan O'Dowd's overhaul did not include power, although the team was much better than many thought. Todd Helton is a star, and Larry Walker worked hard this winter to make a huge comeback after playing only 87 games. Jeff Cirillo will hit for more power, and Neifi Perez is a Gold Glove shortstop. O'Dowd has Gant and Todd Hollandsworth to work left, although he might want more power in time. The big keys are whether or not Juan Pierre is ready to range in center and get on base after a winter in which he added 13 pounds of bulk; whether Ben Petrick is as good as they think; and whether Todd Walker's .316 average after joining the Rocks is the real deal. Brent Butler will get an opportunity to platoon. Is this a great team? No, but it's sure improved.

Runs allowed/ERA: 897/5.26
Groundball/flyball ratio: 1.35
Starters: 46-60, 5.59
Starters' innings pitched: 923.1
Quality starts: 66
Bullpen: 36-20, 4.65
Saves-opportunities: 33-58
Appearances/innings: 479/506.2

The spring training story line didn't begin well with Hampton pulling a hamstring, but O'Dowd's gamble of signing Hampton and Neagle will be fascinating to watch. They should get innings out of both, and Hampton's great stuff shouldn't suffer badly in the light air. Pedro Astacio won 12 games, and can win more, and they think John Thomson will be back with power by midseason. In the meanwhile, Brian Bohanan and Villone are battlers who won't be afraid, and Masato Yoshii is available as well. Brian Rose may or may not get a shot.

Buddy Bell did a remarkable job getting what he got out of the bullpen, and hopes that Hampton, Neagle and Astacio throw enough innings to take some heat off his relievers. Jose Jimenez had 24 saves, and he's backed up by Jerry DiPoto and two of the league's best lefty relievers in Gabe White (.203 against lefties) and Mike Myers (.161). Bobby Chouinard is trying a comeback, Craig House has exploding stuff and Bell has John Wasdin for a long role. There's depth, with Thomson, Shawn Chacon, Jason Jennings and Chin-Hui Tsao on the horizon.

Errors: 94
Unearned runs allowed: 62
Opponents SB pct.: 75

If Petrick and Pierre can handle their responsibilities, then with Larry Walker, Perez, Helton and Cirillo they have the sort of defense necessary to not give away runs in this run tunnel. Todd Walker will be on the margin of liability at second, but if he hits, they'll forgive him.

Ballpark factors, 1998-2000
Runs per game: 1st
Home runs per at-bat: 1st

All you need at every position is speed and power.

Spring training questions
Is Larry Walker as healthy as he seemed this winter? Are Pierre and Petrick ready? Can Todd Walker handle second? What has Gant got left? Is Thomson ready to push for a spot?

2001 team song: "Mountain High, Valley Low"

San Diego Padres
2000: 76-86, 21 games back

Offseason transactions: Traded RHP Donne Wall to the Mets for OF Bubba Trammell. Traded RHP Brandon Kolb to Milwaukee for SS Santiago Perez. Released RHP Heathcliff Slocumb and IF Desi Relaford. Re-signed OF Tony Gwynn, 3B Ed Sprague. Signed FAs RHP Bobby Jones, LHP Scott Karl, IF Alex Arias. Lost FA 2B Bret Boone, OF John Mabry.

Rookies and other strangers: RHP Junior Herndon (10-13, AAA). RHP Brian Lawrence (11-8, AA-AAA). LH Rel. Dave Maurer (3-2, AA-AAA). RHP Wascar Serrano (9-5, AA-AAA). SS Kevin Nicholson (.279, AAA). OF Kevin Witt. IF Greg LaRocca. Util. John Roskos. RHP Jeremy Powell. RHP Matt Miller.

Runs scored/allowed: 752-815, -63

Runs: 752
Slugging/On-base pct.: .402/.330
OPS: .732
Home runs: 157
BB/K: 602/1177
SB/CS: 131/53
1-2-3 OBP: .339/.335/.361

Understand, this is a team building for when their new park opens, sometime in 2003. So this is a rebuilding work in progress. They hope Damian Jackson can be an energetic offensive force at second base, and that Mike Darr can handle center. Phil Nevin and Ryan Klesko had fine years at the corners and in the middle of the lineup, and the Eric Owens/Trammell left field combination should be fine. That leaves Tony Gwynn and catchers Wiki Gonzalez and Ben Davis as major questions. They are vulnerable to left-handed pitching.

Runs allowed/ERA: 815/4.52
Groundball/flyball ratio: 1.33
Starters: 47-59, 4.67
Starters' innings pitched: 978
Quality starts: 75
Bullpen: 29-27, 4.23
Saves-opportunities: 46-70
Appearances/innings: 443/481.1

This is a respectable staff, with Woody Williams (who led the NL in IP per start), Adam Eaton, Matt Clement and Bobby Jones in the rotation. Sterling Hitchcock could be back by May, but his contract may get moved. Still, there is a lot of young pitching coming -- Herndon, Serrano, Lawrence ...

Trevor Hoffman is still a star, and Bruce Bochy as always will fill around him. Tom Davey was superb when he arrived, and Kevin Walker has shown flashes as a lefty. By the time the season's over, Bochy will have put things in place.

Errors: 141
Unearned runs allowed: 82
Opponents SB pct.: 68

There's no way to mince words -- this defense was awful, from Nevin's 26 errors to the wasteland at short to the outfield corners. The idea of trading for Perez was to get someone to catch the ball and try Jackson at second. They've evidently given up on Ruben Rivera's tools, but Darr has the makings of a good outfielder.

Ballpark factors, 1998-2000
Runs per game: 16th
Home runs per at-bat: 13th

Good pitcher's park, especially for Williams and Jones.

Spring training questions
Can Perez and Jackson be the middle infield combination? What is Gwynn's health? Can Darr play center? Is Jones a market victim, or correctly priced? Is Hitchcock close to coming back, and what will be his status? Are any of the young pitchers like Serrano or Herndon close?

2001 team song: "Pieces of the Past"

Send this story to a friend | Most sent stories Help | Advertiser Info | Contact Us | Tools | Site Map | Jobs at
Copyright ©2000 ESPN Internet Ventures. Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and Safety Information are applicable to this site.