How is your team significantly different this year from last?
Responses in alphabetical order:
Impossible question to answer because most of the changes are mental or based on hope. If Brandon Webb is healthy, the D-Backs will compete for a division championship. If he’s not, the D-Backs will field a very competitive team that will not come close to winning the division.
The Adam LaRoche signing is significant. D-Back first basemen had the worst fielding percentage in the league. Being last doesn’t take into account how many errors incurred by the rest of the infield because AZ first basemen weren’t good enough to make the scoops necessary to save errors.
There is also a completely different attitude in the spring so the question becomes how will that affect the team. There was a feeling last year of “management versus players.” The veterans had a lot of loyalty towards Bob Melvin and none to AJ Hinch. However, since Hinch was the minor league director, all the young guys felt very comfortable with him. This dynamic combined with the collapse of Chris Young, the inability to replace Webb, the death of a player’s wife and Connor Jackson’s valley fever, put the team in last place. Do not judge this team by last year or 2007. They’re somewhere in the middle.
--Doug Franz, Sports 620 KTAR radio
The Rockies have made some slight adjustments, strengthening its bench with the signings of Jason Giambi and Melvin Mora. Other than that, the team is a carbon copy of the 2009 club.
--Troy Renck, Denver Post
Los Angeles Dodgers
This is, essentially, the same team as last year. The most notable goners: Randy Wolf, Orlando Hudson, and Juan Pierre. Depending on how you look at it, Vicente Padilla replaces Wolf in the rotation, re-opening another spot for a fifth starter battle. Blake DeWitt looks to take over from Orlando Hudson and Ronnie Belliard at second base.
Another aspect that might be viewed as ‘significantly different’ is the McCourt divorce. It’s probably safe to assume that the ongoing drama of the owners impacted the Dodgers maneuverability in free agency, despite what they themselves say, but it should not impact what the team does mid-season. GM Ned Colletti’s typical M.O. is to make cash neutral trades near the deadline (see: Blake and Manny in ’08 and Thome, Belliard, and Garland in ’09). Look for L.A. to do the same to shore up any holes in 2010.
--Robert Timm, Dodger Dugout
San Diego Padres
• For the most part this Padres team is the same that ended last season on a hot streak. A few minor changes should have a nice impact.
• Chris Young healthy and a rubber arm in Jon Garland will finally allow some stability in the rotation.
• The trade of Kevin Kouzmanoff finally opens up 3B for Chase Headley. Headley has a lot to prove and the Padres organization is very deep at the position.
• Scott Hairston is back! One of the most successful hitters in Petco Park history returns to platoon in CF. Hairston’s RH power will be welcomed in the lineup.
• This is the year of the youth movement. The Padres have a lot of young guys such as Blanks and Cabrera that are on the cusp of stardom. For other players such as Tony Gwynn Jr, Chase Headley, Will Venable and Nick Hundley this year will determine the direction the organization moves in.
--Steve Adler, Friarhood
Baseball Musings takes a look at Kevin Frandsen.
Hardball Talk covers the cut on Lincecum's finger.
FanGraphs evaluates the Brian Wilson deal.
Baseball Analysts visualize the divsion races.
The Hardball Times questions the Giants.