NL West Report: The Gold Rush of 1B Prospects Out West

The Arizona Diamondbacks are in first place in the NL West, all by themselves.  Suddenly, the Giants' stranglehold on the division title is very much in jeopardy, and fans can't decide who will come out on top anymore, as displayed by Rob Neyer's poll.

Last night's victory the claim sole possession of the lead was a direct result of 1B prospect Paul Goldschmidt, who slugged 30 HR in AA Mobile before getting a promotion to the big stage.  He has taken to it kindly.  

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2011 - Paul Goldschmidt 9 31 5 7 0 0 2 6 3 13 1 0 .226 .294 .419

Sure, those numbers aren't glorious by any means.  But his home runs are.  Last week, he demolished a pitch from Tim Lincecum for his first career home run in a win.  Last night, trailing by two with two outs and a 2-2 count in the ninth, he mercilessly bludgeoned Mark Melancon's seventh pitch for a 450-foot game-tying home run.  It was part of an 8-run rally across three innings to give Arizona the lead.  Watching that video, I have a hard time arguing with what was said at 1:18 of the video.  Plus, I can't help but like the guy after his feeble, shy curtain call.

Goldschmidt may turn out to be nothing but a mistake-hitting-masher.  Or he could be the future for Arizona at first base.  That's a topic that has gotten a lot of ink for every NL West team this season....except the Rockies.

Goldschmidt succeeds Brandon Allen, former first baseman of the future, and Juan Miranda, who was given the chance to be that to begin the season.

The Padres auditioned Anthony Rizzo for the role for a brief stretch of the season.  Kyle Blanks was a strong possibility to be Adrian Gonzalez' successor at first base, but he has since taken his talents to the outfield.  Instead, Jesus Guzman has taken over at first base and completely run with it.  Padres fans hope the 27-year-old is a late bloomer like the A-Gone.

The Giants had all the headlines in this category on Opening Day, as Brandon Belt made the surprising rise to make the Opening Day roster.  After a rough start in April, the Giants have given him just five starts at the MLB level, while he continues to punish AAA pitching.  He may be the best of the bunch.

Even the Dodgers have a candidate for this discussion.  Jerry Sands has been groomed as a left-fielder, but he has started at first base in 115 minor league games, second-most to right field.  If the Dodgers decide to part with James Loney, Sands could become the full-time first baseman.  

As for the Rockies, yeah, nevermind for now.  They have had the best first baseman in the division for a decade, and the combination of Todd Helton and Jason Giambi has given the Rockies more fWAR at first base than the four other NL West teams combined, twice over.  But that's now.  There will be a changing of the guard eventually in Colorado, just as there is and/or will be in the rest of the NL West.  

NL West Report

Arizona (65-53, 1st, W3)

Last Week: 4-2.  1-2 vs. Dodgers.  3-1 vs Astros.  The Astros hit .429 with RISP in the series, the Diamondbacks starters went just 20 IP and allowed 21 ER, and Arizona committed five errors in the series.  Yet the DIamondbacks won three of four.....Paul Goldschmidt's heroics last night saved Arizona from the Diamondbacks from a losing week at home against two of the four weakest teams in the National League....

You Should Know:  Only five MLB teams have 32+ wins at home and on the road - the Yankees, the Red Sox, the Phillies, the Braves, and the Diamondbacks.

Divisional Change:  Took a one game lead in the division.

This Week:  3 game home series vs. Mets.  3 game road series @ Phillies.

News:  Remember that silly NL West team that put their cheap superstar on the trade block so they could pick from monster packages?  No, not Ubaldo.  When Kevin Towers announced he would listen on Justin Upton, it was rumored they wanted a package centered around Jacoby Ellsbury and Daniel Bard.  Nick Piecoro wrote this week that it now looks like Arizona was wise not to take the Red Sox deal.  

Justin Upton

#10 / Right Field / Arizona Diamondbacks

6-2

205

R

R

Aug 25, 1987

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2011 - Justin Upton 116 446 75 134 33 5 23 72 43 91 17 7 .300 .374 .552

Even though Ellsbury is having a monster season (5th in MLB in fWAR), Arizona is in surprisingly good position to take the division, and Justin Upton is having the best season of his career.

Chris Young has been bothered by a left thumb injury, leading to him struggling to a .179/.299/.210 line in the second half going into last night, when he hit an extra inning walk-off home run.  It was the fifth consecutive game he had one hit.  If he gets going, Arizona just might take this thing.

Since being acquired at the trade deadline, Jason Marquis has allowed 15 runs (11 earned ) in 8 IP in an Arizona uniform.  What's worse - those two starts came against the Giants and Astros offenses.

AZSnakePit's soco wrote aboutfan perspective now that Arizona is in first place.

Transactions:  Claimed IF Tommy Manzella off waivers from the Astros (8/11).  Signed 2nd round pick Anthony Meo for $825k (8/11)

Injuries:  Transferred RHP Juan Gutierrez from the 15-day DL to 60-day DL (8/11).  Geoff Blum took ground balls and fungoes on Monday.

Arizona Diamondbacks Injuries

15-Day

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Geoff Blum fingers 07/25/2011

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Stephen Drew ankle 07/21/2011
Juan Gutierrez trapezius 05/25/2011
Star-divide 

Los Angeles (52-64, 4th, L4, 12.0 GB)

Last Week: 2-4.  2-1 @ Diamondbacks.  0-3 vs. Phillies.

You Should Know:  The Dodgers are on pace to lose $27million this season.  My future self will curse my present self for saying this once it comes true, but you have to root for the Dodgers organization to be run better soon.

Divisional Change:  Fell one game further out of the division.

This Week: 3 game home series vs. Astros.  4 game road series @ Brewers.

News:   With the $150million loan from MLB, the Dodgers are not at risk from being seized by the league, as explained by New York Times writer Richard Sandomir.  

"The worst that can happen - in the narrow case of default - is they can stop funding," said Bruce Bennett, one of the team's lawyers. "It is not a secured loan, so baseball can't foreclose on anything."

Hiroki Kuroda is an admirably loyal man, but he is also deeply delusional.  Trade rumors gave him an identity crisis, and he told Dylan Hernandez that he didn't want to waive his no trade clause with the Dodgers because he wanted to win a World Series in Los Angeles.  Kuroda is a free agent after the season and no doubt could have resigned with the Dodgers in the offseason.

Hiroki Kuroda

#18 / Pitcher / Los Angeles Dodgers

6-1

190

R

R

Feb 10, 1975

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Hiroki Kuroda 7-14 23 23 0 0 0 0 146.1 141 56 49 14 39 115 3.01 1.23

Steve Dilbeck believes Kuroda will return to Japan for next season, potentially even if the Dodgers offer him a contract.

Travyon Robinson, the prospect Ned Colletti traded for three very minor prospect, has already been called up by the Seattle Mariners.  Meanwhile, the outfield prospect the Dodgers believe is better longterm, Jerry Sands, is still in AAA while Juan Rivera mans left field.

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2011 - Trayvon Robinson 6 19 1 3 1 0 1 1 1 8 0 0 .158 .200 .368

Eugenio Velez is 0-for-21 for the season and needs just four more hitless at-bats to erase JD Drew from the record books for longest hitless streak as a Dodger.  Including his last nine at-bats last season, Velez is hitless in his last 30 at-bats.

Transactions:  Called up RHP Nathan Eovaldi from AA Chattanooga and optioned RHP John Ely to AAA Albuquerque (8/6).

Injuries:  Placed SS Dee Gordon on the 15-day DL with a shoulder contusion (8/10).  Juan Uribe, on the DL with a hip strain, has made little progress in his recovery.

Los Angeles Dodgers Injuries

15-Day

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Jonathan Broxton elbow 05/04/2011
Kenley Jansen other-excused 07/27/2011
Rubby De La Rosa elbow 08/01/2011
Dee Gordon shoulder 08/10/2011

Star-divide 

San Diego (53-66, 5th, W2, 12.5 GB)

Last Week: 5-2.  3-0 @ Pirates.  2-2 @ Mets.

You Should Know:   

Divisional Change:   Gained 1.5 games in the division.

This Week:  3 game road series @ Reds.  3 game home series vs. Mets.  1st game of 4 game home series vs. Marlins.

News:  The Padres plan to raise their payroll to above $50million in 2012, a jump from the roughly $46million they are operating under now.  You know, they just might re-sign Heath Bell just to ensure that.

Heath Bell

#21 / Pitcher / San Diego Padres

6-3

260

R

R

Sep 29, 1977

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Heath Bell 2-4 48 0 0 0 32 3 46.2 39 17 14 1 17 35 2.70 1.20

Executives do not believe Heath Bell will clear waivers, making a waiver trade difficult.  Still, Jayson Stark believes that Jed Hoyer will trade Bell.

San Diego's brand new expanded scouting department allowed them nine different views of Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland, both of whom were acquired for Mike Adams at the deadline.

Geoff Young wrote about two up and coming Padres prospects, Jaff Decker and Jeudy Valdez.

Transactions:  Will sign Pedro Feliz.  Recalled OF Blake Tekotte from AA San Antonio (8/6).  Recalled LHP Wade LeBlanc from AAA Tucson and called up 3B James Darnell from AAA Tucson.

Injuries:  2B Orlando Hudson is day-to-day with a hamstring strain but is not expected to land on the DL.  RHP Ernesto Frieri was placed on the 15-day DL with a back strain, and 3B Chase Headley was placed on the 15-day DL with a fractured pinky finger (8/8).  Placed OF Chris Denorfia on the 15-day DL retroactive to August 1(8/6).  1B/OF Brad Hawpe underwent Tommy John surgery on August 5 and is out for the season - he has a $6mil mutual option for 2012 with San Diego that seems unlikely to be picked up.  He was transferred to the 60-day DL on August 8.

San Diego Padres Injuries

Questionable

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Chris Denorfia hamstring 08/04/2011

15-Day

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Brad Hawpe elbow 06/19/2011
Dustin Moseley shoulder 07/27/2011
Clayton Richard shoulder 07/05/2011
Nick Hundley elbow 07/06/2011

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Joe Thatcher shoulder 08/04/2011

Star-divide 

San Francisco (64-54, 2nd, L1, 1.0 GB)

Last Week: 2-5.  1-3 vs. Phillies.  1-2 vs. Pirates.  San Francisco 4-10 since Carlos Beltran has worn a Giants' uniform.  They have gone from four games up to one game down in the division race since the trade.  So much for that.  #BlameBeltran.

You Should Know:  Since being acquired from Pittsburgh last season, Javier Lopez has pitched in 83 games....and allowed zero home runs.  h/t GiantsNirvana

Divisional Change:  Lost the division lead and fell to one game behind.

This Week:  3 game road series @ Marlins.  4 game road series @ Braves.

News:  Baseball America released a top 3 NL list of every sort of position on a baseball team.  Brian Wilson was named top closer, and Bruce Bochy was named top manager in the NL.

A dumb controversy came out this week when Aaron Rowand told the Chicago Tribune this:

JC: Thing you miss most about playing for Chicago?

Rowand: Wearing the road uniform. And you know why? Because it said ‘Chicago' across the front. I got goose bumps every time I would put it on.

JC: Not so with San Francisco?

Rowand: [Pause] Let's talk about the Bears again.

Rowand told John Shea he has nothing but positive things to say about San Francisco.  The whole thing is dumber yet less controversial than Rowand's continued employment with the Giants.  He is owed $12million next season.

Aaron Rowand

#33 / Center Field / San Francisco Giants

6-0

210

R

R

Aug 29, 1977

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2011 - Aaron Rowand 96 302 33 74 22 2 4 21 10 75 2 3 .245 .289 .371
The bigger issue for the Giants right now is the health of Carlos Beltran.  The outfielder has not played since Sunday and was in pain trying to swing a bat Wednesday.  He received a cortisone shot and is targeting tomorrow as his return.  

Transactions:   LHP Alex Hinshaw cleared waivers and was outrighted to AAA Fresno.  Signed Chris Marlowe - their 5th round pick, not the Nuggets TV guy.  Released Jose Casilla

Injuries:  Carlos Beltran has been out since August 7 (Sunday) with a sore wrist and might return to action today. OF Nate Schierholtz is day to day with a sore hip flexor.   LHP Barry Zito made his first rehab start Monday for Hi-A San Jose.  SS Miguel Tejada was eligible to return from the DL last Thursday, but was not activated.  Buster Posey walked for the first time without crutches last Saturday.

San Francisco Giants Injuries

Questionable

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Carlos Beltran wrist 08/11/2011

Doubtful

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Nate Schierholtz hip 08/11/2011

15-Day

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Barry Zito foot 08/01/2011

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Buster Posey ankle 05/26/2011
Freddy Sanchez shoulder 06/11/2011
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