The home to the senior circuit's surprise pennant-winning Rockies and the equally surprising division-champion Diamondbacks, those feats guarantee those teams nothing, because this is a division that has four contenders for the division title.
The Diamondbacks won the West last season on the strength of a deep bullpen and good fortune. The talent level of the team is much better now, however, as young players like
The Rockies appeared to rest on their laurels after a historic World Series run last fall. Actually, they just enjoyed the fruits of a roster consisting primarily of players under their control. With the exception of second base, the key contributors to last year's success all return, and while you can expect some fallback from
As with the Cardinals in the Central, the Padres have been the best team in the West for a period of years. That time has drawn to a close, as the combination of an aging roster, some poor drafting, and better competition leave them as a .500 team in a division that requires .570 baseball to win, maybe more. With one of the best front offices in the game, the Padres should be able to keep the down cycle to a minimum, although they will have to address a persistent weakness in drafting and developing talent.
Where: Scottsdale, Arizona (Cactus League)
We're about to find out if all those people were coming to Pac Bell Park because it was so pretty there, or if it was the Giants as a team, or if maybe it was the left fielder. The Giants haven't started a year without Bonds since 1992. They went 72-90 that season, which seems a pretty good guess as to their record in 2008.