Baseball preview: National League West

03/30/2014 1:32 PM

03/30/2014 1:33 PM

Los Angeles Dodgers

Last year: 92-70 (first, NL West)

New faces: 2B Alex Guerrero (Cuba), RHP Dan Haren (Nationals), RHP Chris Perez (Indians), RHP Jamey Wright (Rays), OF Mike Baxter (Mets)

Former faces: RHP Ricky Nolasco (Twins), RHP Ronald Belisario (White Sox), INF Mark Ellis (Cardinals), INF/OF Skip Schumaker (Reds)

Better, worse or same? Same

Why: They’re the favorites to repeat as division champs behind a strong rotation. Clayton Kershaw is the leader, receiving a $215 million deal, followed by Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu. They added Dan Haren in the off-season, and Josh Beckett is expected to round out the rotation. The bullpen is also solid with Kenley Jansen in the closer role and Brian Wilson as the setup man. The lineup is potent with Yasiel Puig, Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez in the middle, and the biggest question is how Cuban second baseman Alex Guerrero translates to the big leagues.

San Francisco Giants

Last year: 76-86 (tied third, NL West)

New faces: OF Michael Morse (Orioles), RHP Tim Hudson (Braves), LHP David Huff (Yankees)

Former faces: LHP Barry Zito (unsigned), RHP Chad Gaudin (Phillies), OF Andres Torres (unsigned), LHP Jose Mijares (Red Sox)

Better, worse or same? Better

Why: They won the World Series two of the past three seasons before struggling last year, but the expectation here is they re-establish themselves as contenders. They improved their rotation by signing veteran Tim Hudson and are counting on Tim Lincecum finding his Cy Young form and a rebound season by Matt Cain. Offensively, Buster Posey remains an MVP-caliber player, and Hunter Pence had a strong season. However, they need more production out of Pablo Sandoval, who hasn’t batted .300 or reached the 20-homer mark the past two seasons.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Last year: 81-81 (second, NL West)

New faces: RHP Bronson Arroyo (Reds), RHP Addison Reed (White Sox), OF Mark Trumbo (Angels), LHP Oliver Perez (Mariners)

Former faces: OF Adam Eaton (White Sox), LHP Tyler Skaggs (Angels), INF Willie Bloomquist (Mariners), RHP Heath Bell (Rays), C Wil Nieves (Phillies)

Better, worse or same? Better

Why: The rotation thought it upgraded with the addition of Bronson Arroyo, but now the D’backs just hope he can help fill the void left by Patrick Corbin, lost for the season following Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery. But they still have Wade Miley and Trevor Cahill as starters. The bullpen is also better with closer Addison Reed. Offensively, Paul Goldschmidt had a breakout season and showed he is an MVP-caliber player. Big things also are expected out of newly acquired slugger Mark Trumbo. The D’backs have taken a win-now approach and should get past the .500 mark they’ve been stuck on the past two seasons.

San Diego Padres

Last year: 76-86 (tied third, NL West)

New faces: OF Seth Smith (Athletics), LHP Alex Torres (Rays), RHP Josh Johnson (Blue Jays), RHP Joaquin Benoit (Tigers)

Former faces: INF Logan Forsythe (Rays), RHP Luke Gregerson (Athletics), OF Mark Kotsay (unsigned)

Better, worse or same? Better

Why: Pitching is the key to success, and the Padres have a good enough staff to put them in position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2006. Former TCU standout Andrew Cashner had a breakout season last year as did Tyson Ross. And they’ll have a full season of Ian Kennedy, a 21-game winner three years ago. San Diego also spent money toward its pitching staff in free agency, signing starter Josh Johnson and reliever Joaquin Benoit. Offensively, the Padres are banking on players such as Chase Headley, Carlos Quentin and Yonder Alonso to stay healthy. They’ll be better but not quite playoff-ready.

Colorado Rockies

Last year: 74-88 (fifth, NL West)

New faces: OF Drew Stubbs (Indians), OF Brandon Barnes (Astros), LHP Brett Anderson (Athletics), RHP LaTroy Hawkins (Mets), LHP Boone Logan (Yankees), RHP Jordan Lyles (Astros), 1B Justin Morneau (Pirates), LHP Franklin Morales (Red Sox)

Former faces: 1B Todd Helton (retired), OF Dexter Fowler (Astros), INF Jonathan Herrera (Red Sox), LHP Josh Outman (Indians), C Yorvit Torrealba (Angels)

Better, worse or same? Better

Why: Injuries to stars Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez certainly factored into last season, so if those two are healthy, they should be more competitive. They also deepened their outfield options by adding Drew Stubbs and Brandon Barnes and signed Justin Morneau to replace longtime face of the franchise Todd Helton, who retired. Pitching-wise, the Rockies have lefty Jorge De La Rosa and righty Jhoulys Chacin at the top of the rotation and are counting on 41-year-old LaTroy Hawkins to close out games. Good luck.

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