Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
April 17, 2006
BASEBALL: 2006 NL West EWSL Report

The fifth of six division previews, using Established Win Shares Levels as a jumping-off point. Hopefully, I can get the NL Central done before we're too far into the season.

EWSL is explained here, and you should read that link before commenting on the method; 2006 revisions to the age adjustment are discussed here. Bear in mind as always that (1) EWSL is a record of past performance, adjusted by age to give an assessment of the available talent on hand; it is not an individualized projection system; (2) individual EWSL are rounded off but team totals are compiled from the unrounded figures; and (3) as demonstrated here in some detail, nearly all teams will win more games than their EWSL total because I'm only rating 23 players per team. Further disclaimers are in my AL East preview here.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Raw EWSL: 199.33 (66 W)
Adjusted: 224.00 (75 W)
Age-Adj.: 208.02 (69 W)

C22Dioner Navarro*29
1B22James Loney+012
2B38Jeff Kent2521
SS28Rafael Furcal2426
3B35Bill Mueller1713
RF30JD Drew2019
CF39Kenny Lofton1310
LF32Jose Cruz1312
C240Sandy Alomar21
INF32Nomar Garciaparra119
OF25Jason Repko*36
1235Olmedo Saenz75
1333Ramon Martinez44
SP128Brad Penny910
SP233Derek Lowe107
SP329Odalis Perez76
SP429Jae Seo76
SP533Brett Tomko86
RP128Danys Baez910
RP226Yhency Brazoban#34
RP331Lance Carter54
RP436Takashi Saito+04
RP524Franquelis Osoria+14

First of all, the NL West absolutely stinks; the Dodgers are a very unimpressive team, and it gets worse from here. I tend to think the Diamondbacks might just be the team to run this division this year, but in any event I can't disagree with the assessment of EWSL that there are four mediocre teams bunched relatively close together here, and then the Rockies.

Second, more than any other - even the AL East - this division's story entering the season is dominated by players whose injuries or injury histories, in several cases combined with advanced age, make them enormous question marks - on the Dodgers, that's Eric Gagne, Cesar Izturis, Drew, Garciaparra, Penny, plus on a lower level Jayson Werth. The Dodgers' EWSL figure would have looked more impressive if I'd got to them before Opening Day, when I could still have listed Gagne. Of course, Bonds and Schmidt with the Giants are the other two huge question marks.

It has to be frightening for a pitcher to look down the barrel of a season knowing a 38-year-old second baseman and a 39-year-old center fielder have his back.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Raw EWSL: 195.67 (65 W)
Adjusted: 211.40 (70 W)
Age-Adj.: 193.86 (65 W)

C30Johnny Estrada1110
1B24Conor Jackson+012
2B28Orlando Hudson1617
SS35Craig Counsell1611
3B26Chad Tracy#1318
RF33Shawn Green1815
CF30Eric Byrnes1413
LF38Luis Gonzalez1814
C225Chris Snyder#35
INF34Tony Clark1211
OF32Jeff DaVanon76
1236Damoin Easley76
1328Andy Green#11
SP127Brandon Webb1514
SP240Orlando Hernandez65
SP332Russ Ortiz64
SP435Miguel Batista105
SP528Claudio Vargas55
RP126Jose Valverde99
RP226Brandon Lyon11
RP327Juan Cruz22
RP431Luis Vizcaino54
RP528Greg Acquino#22

If Eric Byrnes is half as bad as his defensive reputation, puttting him in center is a frightening concept, and doubly so next to an aging Luis Gonzalez. On the other hand, in the infield you have Orlando Hudson; I've been a fan of Hudson for some time and think this might be the year when he steps up his offensive game after some disheartening steps backwards last season.

There's an awful lot not to like in Arizona's starting rotation after Webb (and I don't know that I'm sold on the Baseball Prospectus' Cy Young hype for Webb in 2006, either).

San Diego Padres

Raw EWSL: 199.33 (66 W)
Adjusted: 216.23 (72 W)
Age-Adj.: 188.40 (63 W)

C37Mike Piazza128
1B24Adrian Gonzalez*11
2B23Josh Barfield+012
SS26Khalil Greene1517
3B38Vinny Castilla1310
RF35Brian Giles2921
CF33Mike Cameron1513
LF34Dave Roberts1211
C235Doug Mirabelli53
INF31Mark Bellhorn108
OF39Eric Young75
1235Ryan Klesko1612
1329Termel Sledge#66
SP125Jake Peavy1518
SP227Chris Young#66
SP339Woody Williams65
SP433Shawn Estes64
SP526Dewon Brazleton22
RP138Trevor Hoffman86
RP229Scott Linebrink108
RP336Alan Embree22
RP433Chan Ho Park43
RP526Clay Hensley*35

Adrian Gonzalez, of course, will do better than this . . . Last year, I called the Pads "a deceptively old team". Now, with the addition of Piazza, Castilla, Cameron, Estes, Mirabelli and Embree, the deception has been dropped. And really, what is starting Vinny Castilla but an admission that you are out of ideas and (more to the point) in such a snit with Sean Burroughs' lack of development that you'd rather bring in a guy with no upside to miss?

I'm very excited about Chris Young's possibilities at Petco. Brazleton is another matter - maybe the scouts see something, but where's the evidence of him showing any ability to pitch at the major league level?

San Francisco Giants

Raw EWSL: 221.67 (74 W)
Adjusted: 231.73 (77 W)
Age-Adj.: 184.24 (61 W)

C35Mike Matheny1410
1B27Lance Niekro*36
2B34Ray Durham1615
SS39Omar Vizquel1713
3B31Pedro Feliz107
RF39Moises Alou2117
CF32Randy Winn2118
LF41Barry Bonds2511
C235Todd Greene32
INF38Jose Vizcaino54
OF41Steve Finley125
1236Mark Sweeney75
1328Jason Ellison*37
SP133Jason Schmidt1511
SP225Noah Lowry#1014
SP331Matt Morris97
SP421Matt Cain*37
SP531Jamey Wright43
RP133Armando Benitez97
RP238Tim Worrell75
RP333Steve Kline43
RP430Tyler Walker54
RP525Kevin Corriea22

I could also have listed 43-year-old Jeff Fassero, yet another of baseball's growing legion of well-past-40 hurlers, at the end of the staff.

The injury to Noah Lowry had to be a particularly frustrating setback; with age eating away at this roster from all directions, the last thing the Giants needed was an injury to their one good, established player in his mid-20s, and the optimist's case on the Giants rests heavily on Schmidt, Lowry and Cain providing a top-shelf 1-2-3 punch at the top of the rotation. (Benitez' injruy was more par for the course).

Bonds, of course, is way beyond anyone's predictive abilities, but presumably he wouldn't have a .472 OBP if someone wasn't still afraid of him.

Colorado Rockies

Raw EWSL: 140.67 (47 W)
Adjusted: 167.83 (56 W)
Age-Adj.: 160.96 (54 W)

C31Danny Ardoin*22
1B32Todd Helton2925
2B28Jason Smith11
SS27Clint Barmes*59
3B26Garrett Atkins*715
RF27Brad Hawpe#45
CF26Cory Sullivan*512
LF26Matt Holliday#1216
C231Miguel Ojeda32
INF27Luis A. Gonzalez#78
OF26Choo Freeman+06
1232Eli Marrero55
1331Jamey Carroll76
SP127Jason Jennings77
SP229Josh Fogg54
SP328Zach Day34
SP425Jeff Francis#45
SP527Aaron Cook65
RP130Brain Fuentes97
RP240Jose Mesa65
RP332Ray King53
RP435Mike DeJean42
RP527Byun Hyung Kim55

I could have listed more pitchers if I gave myself the flexibility to add more and subtract some position players, as guys like Sun-Woo Kim and Tom Martin are in the mix. I assume the second base situation will remain fluid between Smith, Gonzalez and Carroll. As my older brother pointed out, while paying a 40-year-old Jose Mesa millions to pitch in Coors Field is wrong in too many ways to count, the upside is that Mesa isn't going to be bothered by giving up a lot of runs.

If you're an optimist you can point to the fact that many Rockies are right in their prime (26, 27), healthy, and just getting their first or second full shots at regular playing time - precisely the profile of a team poised to take a big step forward. If you're a pessimist that means 2006 is likely to be about as good as the current youth movement gets (there's no high upside 22 and 23 year olds on hand), and that's probably not too good, especially with the pitching still in its perpetual state of disarray.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:38 AM | Baseball 2006 • | Baseball Studies | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Does this division really have to have a playoff representative?

BTW, imagine just how bad this division would look were it not for the unbalanced schedule. As it is, there's a better than outside chance at a sub-.500 team winning it.

Posted by: paul zummo at April 17, 2006 12:06 PM
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