Spring Midterms: Gomez Shares Early NL West Impressions

The National League West features the defending World Series Champion San Francisco Giants, the over-hauled Arizona Diamondbacks and the new-look San Diego Padres which has made for a number of intriguing storylines to watch around the Valley.

Although Cactus League teams are still working out the kinks this spring it’s hard to believe Opening Day is just three weeks away.

Recently ESPN baseball insider Pedro Gomez joined Sports360AZ.com’s Brad Cesmat to share his thoughts on what he’s seen from each team within the division this spring.

Is newly acquired Justin Upton a difference-maker in San Diego? “You have a guy like Justin Upton who is going to be a free-agent in another seven or eight months and those are the type of players and the type of contracts that clubs view and say, ‘boy is he going to be motivated.’ So should the Padres be in it in June or July they might very well say let’s load up and get something else. Should they not [be in the race]…it’s a very movable piece that could really garner you a nice flock of players or if you’re in it you could have basically the bargain of the entire off-season.”

What happens with the Dodgers and their excess of outfielders? “I can’t see Andre Ethier being on the opening day roster with the Dodgers. I still think some type of trade is going to happen. Now that’s barring no injuries. The Dodgers are willing to play for quite a bit of his salary…[if] another club is willing to take him. That’s not the case right now, but as you know, injuries happen and all of a sudden a need for a player comes up.”

Plenty of off-the-field news with the Giants, right? “There are and not all of them are on the positive side. Bruce Bochy, health-wise he’s fine. I don’t think that’s going to be an issue whatsoever. But in terms of scoring runs…you lose a guy like Michael Morse, you lose a guy like Pablo Sandoval now you’re not going to have Hunter Pence for a couple months. Those are sometimes more difficult to overcome than anything out there. You still don’t know what Matt Cain is going to be able to provide a year out of surgery…you’ve got Tim Lincecum who’s had a few years now of being down. Not just one or two but three so don’t know what he is going to be able to do.”

What’s your early read on the Rockies? “They’re kind of my under-the-wire, not that they’re going to win the NL West, but I think that they’re going to be surprising and be competitive. I kind of have a good feeling for the Rockies in terms of being able to win more than they lose which would be a huge step forward for them…you know I’m a big believer in starting pitching…they’ve got some nice pieces. Remember last year Brad, I picked the Royals to make the playoffs.”

Is perception reality in Arizona after Josh Collmenter was named the opening day starter? “It’s a sign of where the starting pitching is…you win or lose based on starting pitching and when you look at the Diamondbacks you’ve got Collmenter one, you’ve got [Jeremy] Hellickson in game two and then you’ve got 14 or more guys vying for spots three, four and five…that’s usually not a good sign. I would say starting pitching again will be an issue. I do think they’re going to play much harder and Chip Hale was a very good hire. You just wonder what does he have to work with.”