Will win the NL Central if ... the pitching holds up. Without Carpenter and Kyle Lohse, the Cardinals need big years from Shelby Miller and Jaime Garcia.
2012 season: 83-79 (third, NL Central)
New faces: RHP Kyle Lohse, LHP Mike Gonzalez, RHP Burke Badenhop, LHP Tom Gorzelanny
2013 outlook: The Brewers had a relatively quiet offseason until reaching a three-year deal with Lohse, which should make them contenders once again. OF Ryan Braun remains one of the top players in the game, and Yovani Gallardo has established himself as a front-line starter. They also finished last season by winning 20 of their final 31 games.
Will win the NL Central if ... closer John Axford recovers from a bad season in which he blew nine saves.
2012 season: 79-83 (fourth, NL Central)
New faces: LHP Francisco Liriano, C Russell Martin, INF Ivan De Jesus Jr., RHP Mark Melancon
2013 outlook: The Pirates have started strong the past two seasons only to falter down the stretch. They hope to sustain it this season and make the playoffs for the first time since 1992. But they're prone to fade.
Will win the NL Central if ... new closer Jason Grilli is up to the task, the Nos. 4 and 5 starters pitch decently and Martin shores up the defense.
2012 season: 61-101 (fifth, NL Central)
New faces: RHP Edwin Jackson, RHP Scott Feldman, RHP Scott Baker, RHP Kyuji Fujikawa, OF Nate Schierholtz
2013 outlook: They have a plan in place under president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer, but this is not the year they turn the corner. They will be more competitive by adding right-hander Jackson and former Rangers long reliever Feldman to the rotation.
Will win the NL Central if ... the other teams in the division completely flop. The Cubs are better but they're still at least a year or two away from contending.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
2012 season: 94-68 (first, NL West; won World Series)
New faces: RHP Chad Gaudin, OF Andres Torres
2013 outlook: Fresh off their second World Series in three years, the Giants have established themselves as a model franchise. They have one of the best rotations in the league and re-signed left-handed reliever Jeremy Affeldt, outfielder Angel Pagan and infielder Marco Scutaro.
Will win the NL West if ... the stand-pat strategy of newly re-signed GM Brian Sabean, who kept his aging core together after winning it all, pays off.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
2012 season: 86-76 (second, NL West)
New faces: RHP Zack Greinke, above, LHP J.P. Howell, LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu
2013 outlook: The Dodgers' new ownership group isn't afraid to spend. They signed Greinke, the top free-agent starter on the market, and fortified their bullpen by re-signing Brandon League and adding lefty reliever J.P. Howell. They also have perennial Cy Young (Clayton Kershaw) and MVP (Matt Kemp) candidates on their team.
Will win the NL West if ... the team stays healthy. Kemp missed a big chunk of last season, and Greinke had elbow issues this spring. They'll need both to beat out the Giants.
2012 season: 81-81 (third, NL West)
New faces: RHP Heath Bell, SS Cliff Pennington, LHP Tony Sipp, INF/OF Martin Prado, RHP Brandon McCarthy, OF Cody Ross, SS Didi Gregorius
2013 outlook: They traded Justin Upton to Atlanta, which brought back All-Star infielder/outfielder Prado, who signed an extension. The D-backs also got Braves pitching prospect, Randall Delgado, and three minor leaguers. Arizona was part of a three-team trade, too, that landed shortstop Gregorius and lefty Sipp. The D-backs should stay in the hunt this season.
Will win the NL West if ... scrappiness counts for anything. This team was remade in manager Kirk Gibson's image, but a lot of talent was traded away.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
2012 season: 76-86 (fourth NL West)
New faces: OF Travis Buck, C Rene Rivera, RHP Tyson Ross
2013 outlook: The Padres return a good trio of veterans in starter Jason Marquis, outfielder Carlos Quentin and closer Huston Street. But it's hard to see them making a serious run in the NL West.
Will win the NL West if ... 1B Yonder Alonso becomes Adrian Gonzalez, 3B Chase Headley heals quickly and keeps hitting homers, and C Yasmani Grandal gives a boost after his 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.
2012 season: 64-98 (fifth, NL West)
New faces: RHP Wilton Lopez, RHP Chris Volstad, INF Ryan Wheeler
2013 outlook: They have a new manager, Walt Weiss, and hitting coach, Dante Bichette. They also have two of the biggest stars in the game in outfielder Carlos Gonzalez and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. But the Rockies don't appear to be in position to push for a playoff spot.
Will win the NL West if ... Weiss, who was coaching his son's high school baseball team at this time last year, is a better manager than Billy Martin.
Associated Press photos, preview capsules compiled by staff and The Associated Press
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