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5 Bold Predictions: NL West

Everyone who likes to talk sports will have their predictions, opinions and ideas. Sure, anyone can say "Player X will win MVP this year" or "Player Y will get traded for sure," but how many of these predictions have merit?

In this series, I am going to look at realistic, but out of this world situations that could happen, tell you why, and then sit back and have fun at the chatter it creates. If any of these happen in the next 12 months of 2012, please don't call me some kind of expert or Nostradamus, just say "Hey, I didn't see that coming, but that makes sense...."

1) Tim Lincecum or Matt Cain will not finish the season with the San Francisco Giants: Last season, the San Francisco Giants have had that highest payroll in team history; they also had a pretty bad falloff from their World Series Championship. The Giants have aging players making a lot of money such as Zito and Huff. They also have pretty good pitching staff. With impending Free Agency approaching for Matt Cain, and arbitration years for Tim, the Giants could really look to make a rebuilding process, but still compete.

Tim Lincecum is one of the best pitchers in the game; if the rumors for other pitchers were true (such as Felix-- or even the rumored Cliff Lee deal at times), the Giants could easily get a package from the Yankees of Montero, Banauelos/Betances, plus another 1-2 pitching prospects, IF/OF prospects. In return the Yankees could get another $20 million dollar pitcher after arbitration, while probably taking someone like Huff/Sandoval in return to help even out the deal.

2)Tyler Skaggs will pitch at least 1 inning for the Arizona Diamondbacks this season. Tyler Skaggs is one of the best pitching prospects in the entire league. He started for the United States in the Futures Game last summer and has been impressive in his minor league stint. Yes, he may pitch some garbage innings come September call ups, but he will see the Majors at some point this year. He isn't on the 40-man yet, but it is a long season.

3) The San Diego Padres will NOT finish last in the NL West. Okay, Okay...they only finished 2 games back of the Colorado Rockies last season, but they've improved. Cameron Maybin is still learning, and Carlos Quentin brings a whole lot to a young team lacking power. Volquez could be a nice piece in a weak division in the middle of the rotation and Street solidifies the back end of the pen to which Heath Bell left to take his talents to South Beach.

4) The Los Angeles Dodgers win the NL West. What a turn around that would be, right? Let's face it, Matt Kemp is one of the best players in baseball, and arguably should have won the MVP last year. I believe a full season under the belt for Dee Gordon (1) and Jerry Sands (6)*[organizational rankings from 2011] will provide the Dodgers a must needed spark that will carry them through the distractions from last season. Kershaw is a proven Cy Young candidate each year along with a veteran rotation at the back end. The NL West, which battles the AL Central for the weakest division should be somewhat interesting to follow.

5) Drew Pomeranz wins the NL Rookie of the Year. Hey, I said these were bold predictions. He is projected to slot in at the back end of the rotation, which is not very good to begin with. You'll remember that Drew was acquired in the Ubaldo Jiminez trade last season from Cleveland. Once again, in a weak division, anything can happen. I mean hey, Ian Kennedy had a pretty good year, right?