But still, you can assess where they all stand relative to each other and here are the facts as I see them:
- D-gers: Lost Wolf, who pitched great, did not get anyone who could be expected to reliably replace his production, though Vicente Padilla did do well with them at the end of 2009, so maybe (and they did that last year too, replacing Lowe's great production with Wolf; can they do that again? Padilla hasn't pitched that well since his rookie season and around that well since 2003). Manny has laid his gauntlet down and the last time he did that, the Red Sox found him unmotivated enough to feel forced to trade him away, and if I recall right, his stats were down until the trade to the D-gers. And the D-vorce should also affect the team as well, with the owner and the former president, his soon to be former wife, at odds. The divorce of the 'Dres owner caused the current downturn in their chances over the past few years, as they had to cut back on spending on players because of the settlement. The D-gers also benefited from both Hudson and Pierre playing above their career numbers for a while to help boost them up in the early part of the season. Hoping that players play above their heads at any point in the season is not the way to repeat what you did the year before. They won 95 games. I think these conditions should be enough to drop them to 90 wins or lower.
- D-Rox: Lost Marquis, who had a great season with them, and they hope to reduplicate his production by re-adding Jeff Francis who missed all of last season. He pitched horribly for them during the spring. In addition, Huston Street appears to be out, perhaps for the whole season, and they are just praying with his replacement. At 92 wins last season, this should be enough to drop them to 88-90 wins, if not lower.
- 'Dres: They actually looked like they might be on an upswing this season, with prospects like Kyle Blanks and Matt Latos ready to contribute, but the rumors of Adrian Gonzalez being traded just don't seem to go away, so that should make the team play tentatively until he is traded, at which point they have no chance of repeating. At 75 wins last season, they really needed some prospects to come through to reach 90 wins, but if A-Gon is a-gone by mid-season, their chances are gone. And a lot has to go good with their young prospects for them to add another 15 wins, and they don't really have any young pitcher that looks like he'll do that for them, to be that ace, and they traded away Jake Peavey last season, who could have been.
- D-backs: They also have a lot of young bucks, but as nicely as they did in changing up their pitching rotation, they will still need Brandon Webb to come back and be like he was before. He is still recovering and might not pitch for the first month at least. At 70 wins last year, they needed a lot of things to go right, including him coming back and pitching like he used to, for them to do well in 2010, but even though they have a lot of nice young players who probably will develop and advance some this year, jumping from 70 games to 90 games without Webb at full strength looks like a poor bet.
- Rowand realized that he needed to get into better physical shape, that he's no longer young enough to get away without doing that. He's actually started both of his two seasons with us hitting great, then was useless to us the rest of the season. If he is in better shape, he should be that much more of a productive hitter.
- Renteria's best stretch hitting last season was that roughly one month in Aug/Sept when he said that he felt no pain, and he hit great then, over 800 OPS. That is the way he hit before when he was hitting well, and he lost that huge chunk that was in his elbow with the surgery, so he could return to the hitter he was before.
- Molina, I think was affected by two factors. One was that he was a father for the first time. Taking care of a child and working takes a lot out of you, and being a catcher, that probably just accelerates that. Second, he had no worthy backup offensively so Bochy just played him until he was spent and couldn't hit. This year, the baby should not be tiring him out as much, plus by the time he is starting to tire, Posey will be brought up to catch 2 games a week, which will keep him more rested and better able to hit as well as he could.
All this makes me think that winning 90 games should be a strong possibility as long as players produced as projected plus some performing the way I speculated above that they could. And as I showed with the other teams, they should be either around 90 wins or less, giving us a good chance to win the division title and making the playoffs.