When the Los Angeles Dodgers traded oft-injured but talented Matt Kemp to the San Diego Padres this past off season, they automatically turned the Pads into a legitimate postseason contender. Acquiring Justin Upton from Atlanta and Will Meyers from Tampa Bay to help Kemp patrol the spacious San Diego outfield further legitimized that franchise's postseason potential. Signing free agent workhorse James Shields to anchor their starting rotation may have been the final piece for San Diego to reach the postseason promised land - probably as a wild card, but that would be a vast improvement over where they've gone the last several years: Nowhere.
Meanwhile, LA also passed on trying to re-sign shortstop Hanley Ramirez (now the Boston Red Sox' new left fielder), then swung a deal acquiring aging shortstop Jimmy Rollins from Philadelphia. J-Rol's career has been in decline for a few years now, but he may have enough in the tank to give the Dodgers some degree of stability at the shortstop position. Meanwhile, LA also dealt speedy second baseman Dee Gordon to Miami, then acquired the underrated Howie Kendrick from the Angels to take his place at second base. The net effect of all these transactions should help the Dodgers, defensively - but it may cost them, offensively. And they may regret trading their former face of the franchise to a division rival. If nothing else, watching the Dodgers and Padres in head-to-head competition this season will be more interesting than it's been in years.
In the meantime, the reigning World Champion San Francisco Giants appear to be taking this year off - especially after their popular corpulent third baseman - Pablo Sandoval - left via free agency and landed in Boston. His replacement: Casey McGehee, whose better days are well behind him. Adding to the Giants' woes is having the hyper active Hunter Pence on the DL (broken arm) to start the season, further hindering the San Francisco offense - which will be borderline anemic in 2015.
Neither the Arizona Diamondbacks nor Colorado Rockies appear close to contending in 2015.
Here's how the Final Standings should look:
Los Angeles 93-69
San Diego 87-75
San Francisco 82-80
Could we see another postseason showdown between the Dodgers and Cardinals? It's quite likely. Interestingly, most of the so-called experts are picking the Dodgers to beat the Cardinals in any possible playoff series. Of course, most of them picked the Dodgers to beat the Cardinals in the 2013 NLCS and again in the 2014 NLDS. Go figure. For the record, the Cardinals are 16-9 all-time vs the Dodgers in postseason play.