Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
March 11, 2005
BASEBALL: 2005 AL West EWSL Report
Remember again that EWSL, by rating only 23 players per team (whereas a typical team employs closer to 35 or 40 players in the course of a season), tends to understate by a few wins the wins a team can expect to compile. I'll run an adjustment for that when we get to the end of the AL, but for now the wins totals are mainly for comparison to the other teams.
Angels of California at a City That's Sort of But Not Quite a Suburb of Los Angeles and Includes Disneyland
RAW EWSL: 244.33 (81 Wins)
His name was Best, Best of the West . . . It remains to be seen how serious McPherson's back troubles are; that could put a big crimp in the Angels' power, depth and flexibility, particularly with Kennedy already hurt and Tim Salmon down for the count. Perhaps McPherson will be the new Glaus in more ways than one. . . It seems odd to me, given his great finish last year, that Rivera isn't being penciled in for a larger role on this team. . . The age adjustment's weakness can be seen in the projected improvement of K-Rod, although by Win Shares he actually should improve by virtue of having more save opportunities (it's close to impossible for him to improve his pitching, at least not without becoming Gagne).
RAW EWSL: 208.5 (70 Wins)
My gut tells me the A's will be a force to be reckoned with this season. But EWSL is much more sober about the rebuilding job the team needs to suffer through before the A's can be considered a bankable contender rather than a maybe-if-everything-breaks-right longshot. Do the math and you'll see that the bulk of the problem is that Oakland has handed over 3/5 of the starting rotation to guys with no major league track record of success. That may be an inspired move, but even so we could be talking "2002 Marlins," "1990 Braves" or "1968 Mets." Recall that Mark Mulder's ERA as a rookie was 5.44; Rich Harden's was 4.46. Even the Cox/Mazzone Braves can't boast a success rate with rookie (or, like Haren, still unproven) pitchers that's any better than a 50/50 proposition - think of Steve Avery (5.64 ERA), Tom Glavine (4.56), Jason Schmidt (5.70), Odalis Perez (6.00), and Bruce Chen (5.47). And except for Chen, those guys all went on to be good pitchers. The point here isn't that the A's won't have success with Haren, Meyer or Blanton, but that it's highly unlikely we'll see all three of them getting the job done in 2005, and more likely that two out of three will take more lumps than the A's can afford if they expect to win 90 games this season with a good-not-great offense (this isn't the 1999 Indians).
Unlike the likes of BJ Upton, I'm rating Nick Swisher as an entirely non-established rookie, since he only got 60 major league at bats last season. He should be expected to break in well, since he's a little old for a rookie. . . like Rivera, I had expected when the A's traded for Charles Thomas that they had bigger plans for him than being a bench player (if the A's succeed in trading Byrnes, that would open up a job for Thomas and/or Dan Johnson in left).
RAW EWSL: 218.83 (73 Wins)
Jamie Moyer, who's 42, couldn't break eggs with his fastball, and probably less than a 50/50 shot to still be pitching when he's 43, led the Mariners pitching staff in strikeouts last season, with 125. The staff is deep but not terribly impressive.
I rated Reed as a rookie, since he had just 58 at bats last season, although he certainly made the most of them (3 WS). He'll have an uphill battle to hit for average at SafeCo, but as Ichiro has shown, it can be done (not that the park hasn't taken a big bite out of Ichiro).
RAW EWSL: 189.67 (63 Wins)
In case you hadn't noticed, EWSL doesn't like teams with a shortage of established, accomplished pitchers. The Rangers, with only two starting pitchers with as many as 3 EWSL and a few more weak resumes in the bullpen, fit that bill perfectly. Teixera seems like the most likely bet to lead the league in homers, although the race should be tight with guys like A-Rod, Manny, Beltre, Sexson, Vlad and maybe somebody like Chavez busting out a big year (there's also the off chance of a Sosa revival).
Analyzing the Ranger pitching staff is a little dicey - it's hard to say at this point, at least from where I sit, who the rotation will be after Rogers, Drese and most likely Young. I'm actually skeptical that Park will make the Opening Day roster. On the other hand, the Rangers still have upside: it's easier for a team with established sluggers to suddenly get some unexpected pitching success than the other way around.