We're addressing a question per day about the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants until pitchers and catchers report for spring training in Arizona on Feb. 14.
Today's question: How's the competition in the National League West?
The Giants won 92 games last year and clinched the division title on the final day of the season. Not much wiggle room, but that's what defined them and set them apart from others. Lots of tight, well-pitched games and just enough offense.
Their roster isn't all that different from 2010. Likewise, the Rockies and Dodgers have their basic cores back. Both of those teams fared far below expectations last year and anticipate a 2011 revival.
Meantime, the Padres, who overachieved by leading the division most of the season, took a step backward with the trade of Adrian Gonzalez to Boston.
The Diamondbacks? Check back in 2012.
So like a year ago, the Giants' main competition entering the season is expected to come from Denver and L.A. No team in the West added a marquee hitter or pitcher, but the Dodgers (while losing Manny Ramirez and Russell Martin, both of whom were fading) added a bunch of complementary parts including No. 5 starter Jon Garland, reliever Matt Guerrier, infielder Juan Uribe and outfielders Marcus Thames and Tony Gwynn Jr.
The Rockies' main additions were infielders Ty Wigginton and Jose Lopez, and reliever Matt Lindstrom.
Going in, it figures to be a three-team race, but Bruce Bochy, who calls the West the "most balanced division in the National League," will say it's unwise to overlook any team, pointing to the Padres' deep pitching and Diamondbacks' revamped bullpen.
The Dodgers won the division in 2008 and 2009 and both times advanced to the NLCS. They took a nap last year, and now it's rookie manager Don Mattingly's job to inspire Matt Kemp, Jonathan Broxton and the gang to bounce back.
The Rockies anticipate more highlights from Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, who re-upped for a combined $237 million, and young starter Jhoulys Chacin to make a splash alongside ace Ubaldo Jimenez.
It might come down to the final week again, maybe the final day. Until further notice, the Giants like their chances with their dynamic pitching staff and full seasons awaiting Buster Posey, Cody Ross and Madison Bumgarner.