Buy or Sell - NL WEST
Sorry for the delay folks - between a couple of ball games, a concert, a new job, and some unbelievable family issues (really, they are unbelievable), I've not been able to sit down and work on this. I'll try harder, though!
The NL West is an odd beast where parity within the division rules (all teams are within 5.0 games of first). But with even competition, there is no decisively better team, nor is there a particularly good team (all are .500ish teams), which makes for excitingly boring playoff race - if such a thing is possible. To put it frankly, I don't see any NL West team as capable of winning the World Series, or even making it that far.
San Diego: Buy
Needs: San Diego has gotten decent pitching from most of their rotation, with the notable exception of Jake Peavy. They need him to turn it around in the 2nd half. The Padres need an infusion of power in the infield, including 3b (there have been whispers of interest in Mike Lowell and Shea Hillenbrand before the latter was picked up by rival SF). Giles has had pedestrian power numbers, and as a result, the OF could use a boost in power from an outside source.
Chips: Peavy has made it into whispers, though he is extremely unlikely to be moved because of his age, talent, and contract. Reliever Linebrink has been talked about as someone they could dangle to add a bat, and has probably become expendable with the acquisition of Scott Williamson from the Cubs. Klesko will be available upon his return from the DL.
San Francisco: Buyer
Needs: This team needs someone to protect Bonds in the lineup, provided Bonds is still between the lines and not behind bars. The starters aren't great, but the offense makes it hard for any pitcher to win. This team's window is closing after this season, with Schmidt and Bonds free agents and a very old squad with little depth in the ill-tended system. They could use some added mobility in the OF, as well as more power from the CFer. The Giants could use a little more depth in the bullpen, like everyone else, especially with the troubles of Benitez. The team helped itself by acquiring Shea Hillenbrand from the Blue Jays for pitcher Accardo.
Chips: Schmidt is their biggest chip and San Francisco should take the best deal on the table for him, rather than settle for a draft pick if he leaves. Chances are he'll still be a Giant after the deadline passes, though. The Giants have a solid young catcher, Alfonzo, who has performed well in limited time (5 HR in 99 ABs)
Los Angeles: Buyer
Needs: Furcal has not lived up to his lofty 2005 season, but there aren't many replacements on the market. The Dodgers haven't gotten any power out of their 3b since Bill Mueller went down, but Garciaparra has played like his old self at 1b and drastically outperformed his 2004 and 2005 seasons. Lofton could be upgraded should anyone hit the market (LA can afford just about anyone). The Dodgers have endured injuries in the rotation and the bullpen (namely, Gagne), and could use help in either department.
Chips: Los Angeles has the farm system to acquire just about anyone if the seller is looking for young talent. Andy LaRoche, Joel Gonzalez, Chad Billingsley (currently on the team) and Russell Martin (on MLB team) are several prospects prospective sellers will ask for in exchange for top talent. The out-of-grace Odalis Perez has also been shopped to pitching-hungry teams
Needs: Arizona jumped out of the gates looking like a young contender, but either inexperience or clubhouse dramatics (ahem, Jason Grimsley) have slowed them as of late. Arizona has possibly the best feeder system in the bigs and has several young players learning on the big stage. They don't really have a need for the time being, just a need for players to get some experience under their belts.
Chips: Again, the Dbacks really aren't sellers because their team is so young. Luis Gonzalez has had some issues with ownership and could be had if a team is willing to take on his contract. Shawn Green is another veteran outfielder on the market that could help an ailing contender (LAA, NYY, DET?). The DBacks will not move any of their young talent and would be wise to hang onto a veteran or two to teach the youngsters.
Needs: The Rockies need a better campaign from their SS than they have seen this year - Barmes was much better in his rookie year before injuring himself in shady circumstances. Many of their young players are playing exceptionally well, but the power numbers have yet to develop in most of them. The Rockies need help at catcher.
Chips: Any of their rotation members could be moved (Jennings, Francis, Cook, Fogg, Kim) to a contender needing a #3-#5 starter. Because Helton is an immovable contract, prospect Ryan Shealy should be moved to a team who can play him, especially since he's getting older and has torn up every level of MiLB and deserves to be in the bigs. There has been talk between the Red Sox and Rockies revolving around a bullpen arm for Shealy, who the Sox have been interested in since last year's ill-fated Shoppach for Shealy swap. Ray King has also been thrown around as a trading chip.