Kirk Gibson and the Arizona Diamondbacks are the team to beat in the NL West. (Mario Jose Sanchez / Associated…)
The National League West is up for grabs, right? That’s what everybody keeps saying. The only division in which every team has advanced to the playoffs at least once since 2006. Where teams finish last one season and first the next.
So the wild N.L. West must be wide open again.
Or is it?
The Arizona Diamondbacks might not be getting their due. The Diamondbacks won 94 games last season. Finished eight games up on the Giants. Have just about everybody back from a young core and have added right-hander Trevor Cahill and outfielder Jason Kubel.
The Giants have great starting pitching and have to hit better, don’t they? The Rockies are an interesting and curious collection. Some like the Dodgers as a dark horse. But West favorite?
“I think it would be Arizona,’’ said Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly. “I think pitching-wise, they picked up that kid from Oakland (Cahill). They picked up Kubel. They were already pretty good in that outfield. I don’t know what Gibby (Kirk Gibson) is going to do, but with Kubel and (Gerardo) Parra they can play left-handed pretty good.
“They had two guys that won like 16 (Ian Kennedy, Dan Hudson) and then they picked up that kid. And then Gibby, I know they’re going to play hard. They’re not going to back off anybody.”
And right now, they should be getting earned respect.
Which is not to say no one is paying any attention to the Diamondbacks. This year’s ESPN crew – down to a measly 50 experts – had 15 pick Arizona to advance to the World Series. None, however, had them winning it.
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