Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
March 30, 2004
BASEBALL: 2004 NL West Established Win Shares Report
At long last, I've gotten back around to finishing another Established Win Shares Levels report, this one for the NL West. It's not looking so hot for getting the other two divisions up before the non-Japanese part of the MLB schedule opens up on April 6, but I'll do what I can, and hope to have the whole thing wrapped by the first week of the season. If you're just joining this enterprise in progress, you can start by checking out my prior reports:
Recall that the projected win totals are probably a bit on the low side, in part because I only list 23 players, and that these aren't really projections at all, so much as estimates of how much established major league talent is on each roster. On to the Mild, Mild West:
San Francisco Giants
Adjusted EWSL: 242.5 (81 wins)
Like the AL Central, this is a weak division, and its members don't even have the benefit of fattening up against the Tigers. The Giants are the best team in the division on paper, although the age and injury histories of many key players makes them a big risk, as we've seen already with the injuries to Schmidt, Nen and (surprise, surprise) Hammonds. These guys are one major Barry Bonds inury away from being way under .500, and aside from Jerome Williams, it's hard to see anyone on this team who's likely to improve in 2004.
Adjusted EWSL: 239.5 (80 wins)
I've listed Hammock as the starting catcher, but of course he's not ready to start the season (ditto for the brittle Fossum). The D-Backs are actually building a base of useful young players, although to stay in contention the team is still heavily dependent on Randy Johnson and the rest of the geriatrics on the roster. This is another schizophrenic team, trying to half contend and half rebuild (hence the decision to dump Schilling but retain Johnson and Gonzalez, resign Finley as a free agent and sign Alomar). Alomar's EWSL seems inflated, since it includes his 37-Win Share campaign in 2001, which in his case seems particularly ancient history. . . . the D-Backs get a lot of value from the Brothers V in the bullpen, although it remains to be seen how much of that can be repeated from 2003, and the same goes for Cintron and Webb. This looks to me like a better team than the Giants, although as with the Giants, everything hinges on the health of the team's oldest player.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Adjusted EWSL: 229 (76 wins)
The decision to put Green back in the outfield makes all sorts of sense; he's the franchise player, and is as good a bet as any major star to have a big bounce back season in 2004. The Dodgers have a lot of upside in terms of guys like Beltre and Weaver and Perez who may yet pull out of recent tailspins, plus promising rookie Edwin Jackson; what that adds up to is the youngest team in the division. This remains a poor offensive team; the starting rotation doesn't look great, Gagne's unlikely to repeat his monster year, they'll miss Quantrill . . . for all that, the Dodgers are basically about as good as anybody else in this division.
San Diego Padres
Adjusted EWSL: 219.8 (73 wins)
The Padres have an image as a young team thanks to three starting pitchers and the left side of their infield. While those guys do form the building blocks for a 2006-2009 contender, they're neither enough to build a dominant team from, nor are they the core of a winner yet (Peavy's the only one of the starters I have much enthusiasm for, although they could be improved if Dennis Tankersley is ready to join the rotation soon). This is also a potential breakout year for Burroughs, but he'll need to show more patience and power. The Pads are everyone's favorite sleeper contender, and in this division they will have a shot, but to do so, they'll be relying heavily on the over-30 crowd. On the other hand, because EWSL doesn't adjust for the upper limit on a team's at bats, the number above may be overstated a bit by the Pads having two bench players (Vazquez and Long) who were everyday regulars until this season.
Adjusted EWSL: 173.7 (58 wins)
The Rockheads have an unusual number of players who have, as established major leaguers, posted a zero win share season in the past three years, due to injury or just plain ineptitude - Reyes, Kennedy, Elarton, Estes, Fassero, Wendell. The pitching prognonsis is a grim as ever, and Larry Walker's ailing already . . . some guys really are more valuable with Coors behind them; Jay Payton was one, and Preston Wilson's another.