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)
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.
Raw EWSL: 195.67 (65 W)
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)
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)
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.
Raw EWSL: 140.67 (47 W)
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)