The NL West has been a pathetic division this season up until the midway point, and a little beyond that. This of course is one of the downsides to the Wild Card. Teams that are par or subpar will have a chance because there are three divsions in each league giving a few more spots to slightly inferior teams than in the past. And in the supposedly weaker league, that is even more stressed because the quality of the teams are even worse, or the majority of them anyway.
Arizona Diamondbacks: OPS+ 92. ERA+ 115. They cannot complain about the 1-2 punch that they have. Although Webb has come down to earth, Haren has been as good as advertised. I saw some of it myself when he dominated the Red Sox at Fenway on a nationally televised game. But then again, Haren isn’t new to me, he is new to them. The offense has been below average, a problem for any team. The fact that their leadoff hitter rarely reaches base could be a small part of it. And I realize that Chris Young has been moved down in the order, but now Stephen Drew is getting on base at only a .302 clip. Something has to change. I think that, maybe unfairly because he is only 20, Justin Upton has the biggest chance to get this offense going. Upton has been average this season, and of course is only 20, but he seems like he has the most potential to take off in the second half of the year. This team may very much need to acquire a bat at the deadline. As for the pitching it has been very good. ERA+ 115. But that was expected. Their run differential is +4 and they are 47-48. They have been merely average.
Los Angeles Dodgers: OPS+ 86. ERA+ 120. Personally, I thought the Dodgers could win this division, and I picked them to do just that. And they still have a very good shot, sitting just one game out. But it is the quality of the team that concerns me, and I am sure their fans even more so. They are below .500. They do have a +10 run differential, but that doesn’t normally translate into much better than an average record anyway. The offense here has been well below average, and the pitching well above. From the looks of things the pitching will not be going anywhere, but what about the hitting? I don’t see many significant internal solutions. What’s funny is that everyone, well the sabermetrics guys anyway, wanted the young guys to start. And they have been around average, not much more can be expected. The vets have been bad though. Pierre and Kent have hit well below average, while Furcal has been hurt, same for Nomar. I agreed with this opinion of starting the youngsters by the way. I don’t see the offense doing too much better in the 2nd half, unless I am overlooking something. I mean really it is going to take Nomar, Kent, and Jones to start hitting. Is that realistic?
San Francisco Giants: OPS+ 89. ERA+ 99. They are far from good, but they are also far from what some expected them to be. A -58 run differential is still pretty bad, but at least they are hanging around (7 games back) if not at least for the fans sake. In most divisions they would be way, way back though, and the fact that they are still somewhat in it is because of the quality of, or lack of, the teams above them. But they have some nice pitching for the future…at least.
Colorado Rockies: OPS+ 95. ERA+ 93. I wrote a blog yesterday about how terrible they have been on the road with their bats sitting seemingly on their shoulders. Julio Lugo about sums up their road numbers. Very disappointing. From World Series to the nicest room in the basement. Luckily 8.5 games isn’t exactly impossible to make up. Unlikely, yes. But not impossible. Losing a solid SS, even though he was struggling, didn’t exactly help the cause. But even with him they would still be below .500 and out of first place. A below average offense and a below average pitching staff is what they have, and that is why they are where they are.
San Diego Padres: OPS+ 96. ERA+ 92. Brian Giles needs to go. And a few other moves need to take place also. Giles has been above average, but maybe a move to the Mets would be smart. The Mets need a corner OF and the Padres shouldn’t expect too much in return for the 37 year old Giles. But the Padres need to go ahead and build for 2010. Maddux needs to go, along with Randy Wolf. But of course the underrated Adrian Gonzalez is having a very good year, the lone star in this lineup.
To sum it up; if either of the top two teams makes a move for an impact bat, then they should be able to take the division. If I am the Diamondbacks, with that 1-2 punch, then I make a move. Because come playoff time they would have an advantage, much more so if they get another player who knows how to hit. The Dodgers on the other hand, may want to hold onto their young players, because they have the money to make a splash in free agency next year. They could wait until the offseason, rid of some of the overpaid vets, and keep their prospects, while signing a big time hitter. Of course, it will be difficult to move a player like Andruw Jones, so I wouldn’t mind if they made a move or a bat either.