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Jon Weisman from Dodger Thoughts is doing some writing for Sports Illustrated, and his first piece examines the N.L. West. His writing has always bugged me. The Dodgers don't deserve a blog like Dodger Thoughts. They deserve a guy who posts things like this every day:

It looks like Barry "STEROID" Bonds isnt going to play in the WBC. Problably because he couldnt fit his BIG HEAD through the hole in the USA uniform! Hopefully hes doing this becuase hes hurt and the GNATS will have to lose 100 games without him. Good luck MIDGETS!
Unfortunately, that's not what Dodger Thoughts is like. It's a good blog with good regulars, and that just bugs me.

The article for S.I. isn't overly critical of the Giants, and it isn't too effusive in its praise of the Dodgers, but it clearly marks the Dodgers as the team to beat in the West. However, I disagree strongly with this statement:

The offense...is filled with players who have passed their peaks.
Passed their peaks? I'm sure that's not the case. I don't have a current stat book handy, so I'll just have to use a stat book from after the 2000 season to prove my case:
Vizquel - .287/.377/.375
Durham - .280/361/.450
Alfonzo - .324/.425/.542
Bonds - .306/.440/.688
Alou - .355/.416/.623
Snow - .289/.365/.459
Matheny - .261/.317/.362
Grissom - .244/.288/.351
Sure, those were statistics from 2000, but how much can change in five years? I'm pretty sure the Giants rode that lineup to 1000 runs last year, and Grissom is bound to bounce back. I don't need to look it up.

When dealing with the N.L. West, it's hard to make grand proclamations. Every team has problems. If this were a beauty pageant, the most attractive of the five finalists would only have a unibrow, fangs, and the nose of Karl Malden. The fourth runner-up, ostensibly the Rockies, would be something so ugly, you'd prefer to look at video of Randy Johnson making out with Sam Cassell.

On different days, I lean toward different teams. There are times when I think about what J.D. Drew, Nomar Garciaparra, and Rafael Furcal could do if healthy and effective, and it gives me the jibblies. There are also times I laugh at the thought of a Kenny Lofton who should have been removed from center three years ago. I can also imagine Drew and Garciaparra bonding on the bench over homemade Ben Gay recipes found on the internet. The Padres won the division last year, but when I start to get nervous about that, I think of Vinny Castilla and Shawn Estes. Warms the heart, it does.

The Diamondbacks scare me almost as much as the Dodgers, mostly because of the unknown variables. What if Stephen Drew makes a quick jump to the bigs, and Conor Jackson, Chris Young, and Carlos Quentin also come on strong? Sure, the pitching doesn't seem to be there, but far worse teams have surprised. The Rockies are the Rockies are the Rockies, but in a division where the winner won 82 games last year, it's silly to count anyone completely out.

The Giants are hardly different. On even-numbered days I see them riding a wave of good health and fortune to 94 wins. Odd-numbered days find me predicting doom; visions of an unbearably punishing season are so vivid, I'm forced to take a box of wine into the bathroom at work. I do that on the even-numbered days too, but I cry a lot more when the breakdown is about the Giants. I would pick the Giants to win the division if pressed, but the fanboy in me is writing that, not the pseudo-analyst.

An actual divisional preview is still a month or so away, and a cursory look at the division reveals little. In fact, this whole post reveals little. It lacks a point, supporting evidence, and anything resembling something you didn't know already. I'll also forego a standard conclusion, and cop out with a comment starter. This is the kind of day that makes me glad the site is free. Is it March yet?

Comment starter: What N.L. West team scares you the most for the upcoming season?