Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
April 21, 2006
BASEBALL: 2006 NL Central EWSL Report
Yes, as always, the six-team NL Central is last in line in my division-by-division previews using Established Win Shares Levels; having just put the finishing touches on this one, I should finally have a little more flexibility back in the blog.
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.
St. Louis Cardinals
Raw EWSL: 239.67 (80 W)
Larry Bigbie, originally part of the outfield mix, is still injured. Overall, the Cards are a lot less fearsome than they were a year or two ago, with holes having sprung in the lineup at several points (outfield corners, second base, catcher) and continuing question marks on the health of Scott Rolen (who looks 100% so far this year, in which case he'll easily bypass his EWSL of 15) and the age of Jim Edmonds. Chris Carpenter, like Rolen, will likely exceed his established level if he breaks with his history and manages another full healthy season. Pujols remains this team's backbone, but the more the Cards are Pujols rather than Pujols-Edmonds-Rolen, the more trouble they'll be in.
One of the imponderables in St. Louis, though more as an analytical and Roto issue than as an effect on the W/L column, is how friendly or unfriendly the new ballpark will be to hitters over a full season.
Raw EWSL: 219.17 (73 W)
I was frankly stunned that the Cubs rate just a hair behind the Cardinals. Of course, that's ranking Prior and Wood as if they will be at least as healthy as in the last three seasons, when they haven't pitched yet, and Derrek Lee going down for six weeks puts them in a big hole. Also, I suspect that, as was true in Colorado, Juan Pierre will be less valuable in a park where the home run ball plays a bigger role and runs are not as scarce as in Florida. On the other hand, Matt Murton gets short changed here, and there's always the possibility that a healthy Wade Miller could be useful. Right now, Sean Marshall is holding down the other rotation spot. I'm not sure what options the Cubs have at first in Lee's absence - playing Mabry every day can't be pretty, but I'm not sure if there's someone else who can move over there to get Hairston in the lineup. Maybe Michael Restovich can play first?
Raw EWSL: 177.33 (59 W)
Ex-closer Mike Adams and the injured Rick Helling are also in the pitching mix. I expect more than 25 Win Shares from Fielder and Weeks, although my enthusiasm has been tempered somewhat whenever I watch Weeks attempt to play second base. Anyway, if those guys are undervalued a bit here, it's offset by Bill Hall being valued as if he was playing everyday.
The future for Ben Sheets is now, but can he get healthy and back up to full strength? Actually, Sheets is an oddity on this team - along with Lee - being in his prime. The Brewers are mainly built on two groups of players - the very young infielders and a bunch of late bloomer scrap-heap pickups (Turnbow, Davis, Capuano, Wise, Clark, Ohka). The downside is that, like the Cooper/Oglivie/Thomas Brewers, these guys will get old far faster than you expect, so Milwaukee's window of opportunity may be narrower than it looks. I expect the Brewers to stay in contention all year, despite their early struggles scoring runs.
Raw EWSL: 205.83 (69 W)
Yes, I realize that Astacio isn't starting at the moment, as two guys named Taylor Buchholz and Fernando Nieve have taken their cracks at the fifth starter's job. Regardless of who is starting there, this rotation is just crying out for Roger Clemens, including the fact that Backe is really better suited as a #4 than a #3.
I thought last season that the loss of Beltran, Kent, and Miller was a lot for Houston to absorb, and if Bagwell and Clemens are really gone, that's a lot to add to what they overcame last season. Plus, Biggio is due to be next - man, there are a lot of old guys playing up-the-middle positions these days.
Raw EWSL: 172.17 (57 W)
The Pirates have to be downgraded from these numbers depending upon the severity of Sean Casey's injury, which I gather is pretty grim. (Doumit is also hurt at present). On the other hand, that's one reason I don't downgrade bench players who are rated based on being regulars in the recent past - Craig Wilson, who was probably going to play a lot anyway, can now be valued as a regular.
I suspect the Pirates will actually finish last (the early standings certainly bear this out), but much depends on their young and young-ish pitchers - whether Perez' 2004 season was a fluke year (his control's been bad in the early going), whether Maholm and Snell can contribute in a serious way. If the youngsters (or, more likely, Victor Santos) falter, Kip Wells should be back later in the season.
Raw EWSL: 183.33 (61 W)
"Hey, I remember that guy - he's still pitching?" should be the motto of the Reds' bullpen. Also in the pen mix are younger arms like Matt Belisle and Mike Burns, plus when he returns from injury Paul "Mr. February" Wilson may get a crack at the rotation, depending on which parts of it are in disarray at that juncture. I expect Ryan Wagner as well to get some serious time in this bullpen.
I gather that Womack may get cut when Griffey comes back, but I'm keeping him on the list of talent on hand until then.
Griffey seems to be reaching the point where it's no longer credible to pretend you can stick him in center and play him every day; between the injuries and the deterioration of his defense, he's probably most effective platooning in a corner outfield slot or becoming a DH. And honestly, the Reds should just move on - if Griffey was gone, maybe we wouldn't see a bad team fielding a roster with a 34-year-old, a 35-year-old, and seven guys 36 or older.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:00 PM | Baseball 2006 | Baseball Studies | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)