Scouting the N.L. WEST
No team in the division took a bigger hit this spring than the Diamondbacks, who lost ace left-hander Patrick Corbin to season-ending Tommy John surgery. Hard-throwing reliever David Hernandez has an elbow injury and likely will join Corbin on the sideline until 2015. Paul Goldschmidt is one of the league's best hitters, and Mark Trumbo came over via trade, but the lineup is largely uninspiring. Without Corbin, the rotation is eminently hittable -- at least until the arrival of right-hander Archie Bradley, one of the game's top prospects.
If Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez stay healthy, the Rockies could be playing meaningful games deep into September. But that's always a huge if; Tulowitzki has hit the 140-game mark just three times in seven full seasons, and Gonzalez hasn't done it since 2010. Even with underrated right-hander Jhoulys Chacin out until May, the rotation could be sneaky effective. It could be downright dominant if right-handed prospects Eddie Butler and Jonathan Gray bring their upper 90s fastballs to Coors Field this summer.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Yes, chemistry issues or injuries could derail the title hopes for the team that ended the New York Yankees' 15-year run as baseball's biggest spender. But the more likely scenario is that the Dodgers cruise to the postseason. Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke are as good a 1-2 punch as any in the game. The bullpen is so deep that former Giants closer Brian Wilson is a setup man. The infield could be light on offense, but Matt Kemp expects to be back in center field by mid-April. Yasiel Puig is a time bomb, but a freakishly talented one.
San Diego Padres
Year after year, injuries ravage a team that needs everything to go right given the payrolls around the rest of the division. Center fielder Cameron Maybin (ruptured biceps) and right-hander Josh Johnson (forearm strain) will miss at least the first month. The lineup should be solid, and manager Bud Black always finds a way to put a strong bullpen together, but the Padres don't seem to have enough firepower to stay in the race.
-- Alex PAVLOVIC