Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
March 29, 2005
BASEBALL: 2005 NL West EWSL Report
Part Five of my 2005 EWSL review (Established Win Shares Levels are explained here, the AL East EWSL report is here, the AL West EWSL report is here, the AL Central EWSL report is here, the AL EWSL standings are here, and the NL East EWSL report is here). Again, recall that the 23-man rosters used here will slightly depress the team win totals: as I demonstrated with the AL standings, the total EWSL for the league requires rounding up by about 7-10 wins per team.
San Diego Padres
RAW EWSL: 235.33 (78 Wins)
This is a deceptively old team, but with the opening in the West created by the Bonds injury, they're well-positioned to make a run. The biggest question marks heading into the season are at the head of the rotation: can Jake Peavy pitch at something like last year's level for a full season's workload? (An ERA of 3.27 rather than his major-league-leading 2.27 would be fine if he can carry 220 innings; striking out better than a batter per inning was a good sign). And does Woody Williams still have some gas in his tank?
EWSL has Khalil Greene with an age-adjusted 29 Win Shares, which would be good for the MVP if he was in the AL (where nobody rates at over 28). This suggests to me that the age adjustments are overrating guys who play everyday at his age, but we'll see. If Greene can take a step forward with the bat and continue to dish out great glove work, he could come close to that.
San Francisco Giants
With 1/2 Season of Bonds
Normally, the absence of any injury adjustments in EWSL isn't a big deal. Maybe Steve Trachsel will be back at the All-Star Break, but I didn't list him, whereas I listed guys who are out for April. But the combination of Bonds' huge impact and the level of uncertainty as to when he'll return creates havoc - the whole division turns on him. The 1/2 season Bonds rating - which also includes half a season of rookie Todd Linden - is probably the best guide.
I had expected the age adjustments to go through the Giants' lineup like Sherman through Georgia, but actually the really gruesome adjustments are for the 33 and 35 year olds, and most of these guys have already crossed that bridge.
Deivi Cruz may be overrated here - he shouldn't get that much playing time - but then, the age of Vizquel and Durham and Alfonzo could keep him busy.
Of course, the longer Bonds is out, the fewer big games the Giants will play, and the better Benitez will be . . . the Giants really need Lowry and Williams to develop (although Williams has had a crummy spring and nearly lost his job) to offset the age and mediocrity of Rueter and Tomko. Then again, it's always been mysterious how Rueter wins games year in and year out, but he keeps on going.
Los Angeles Dodgers
RAW EWSL: 211.83 (71 Wins)
The Dodgers have a sort of slapped-together look, neither young nor old, no real stars but Gagne, but they should at least be playing meaningful games into late August or September. A look at the lineup tells you they really needed to re-sign Beltre, but that's not exactly news; it goes double when his replacement is a glove-first shortstop who's unlikely to handle Dodger Stadium well. I've said it before, but this could still be the year for Hee Seop Choi . . . Having Alvarez and Dessens on hand will be necessary with Erickson and possibly (later in the season) the unreliable Edwin Jackson taking their shots at the fifth starter job. Perez is probably the actual staff ace, unless Penny gets 100% healthy, but nobody seems to like to admit that.
The Dodgers also have in camp Norihiro Nakamura, who almost signed with the Mets a few years back and who still needs to be called "Chief."
By the way, the new Bill James Handbook's Win Shares figures are missing career and pre-2004 figures for a number of players who had gaps in their careers - Scott Erickson and Olmedo Saenz, for example, didn't appear in 2003 and are thus listed as if they were rookies in 2004. I had to go back here for their 2002 Win Shares.
RAW EWSL: 174.50 (58 Wins)
Strangely, despite the departure of by far their best player, the D-Backs seem poised to rebound from last year's shipwreck. Like the Dodgers and Padres, this is a team built for adequacy, only just a little less so. Cintron should eat either Counsell's or Clayton's lunch by mid-season.
I could easily have given Snyder the rookie rating, but giving that boost to both him and Hill would have spotted them 18 unearned Win Shares at catcher, and most teams only aspire to that.
RAW EWSL: 125.00 (42 Wins)
EWSL, being a rating based on established major league performance, breaks down in the face of a team with nearly no established players, like the Rockies. Still, the absence of any bankable productive players beyond Helton, Kennedy and Jennings - with the latter two being dependable pitchers but hardly guys you want anchoring a rotation - is a pretty strong indicator of a last-place team, so I'm comfortable with the ultimate position here, notwithstanding the fact that Arizona is the one that lost the 111 games last year.
Helton accounts for just under 25% of the Rox' Raw EWSL, compared to Barry Bonds accounting for 17.5% of the Giants' . . . I could have rated Closser as a rookie, I suppose, but I try to do that only when there's no major league data to go on.