Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
March 26, 2007
BASEBALL: 2007 AL West EWSL Report

The third of six division previews, using Established Win Shares Levels as a jumping-off point. EWSL is explained here, and you should read that link before commenting on the method; 2007 revisions to the age adjustment discussed here and rookie adjustments 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 and 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 and explanations are in my AL East preview here; my AL Central preview is here.

The Angels

Raw EWSL: 239 (80 W)
Adjusted: 257 (86 W)
Age-Adj.: 243 (81 W)

C25Mike Napoli*513
1B24Casey Kotchman22
2B23Howie Kendrick*39
SS32Orlando Cabrera1613
3B29Chone Figgins1917
RF31Vladimir Guerrero2622
CF32Gary Matthews1614
LF35Garret Anderson1510
DH31Shea Hillenbrand1110
C232Jose Molina65
INF30Robb Quinlan66
OF28Juan Rivera1415
1326Macier Izturis910
SP128John Lackey1516
SP224Jered Weaver*715
SP324Ervin Santana#810
SP431Kelvim Escobar108
SP534Bartolo Colon86
RP125Francisco Rodriguez1618
RP231Scot Shields1210
RP333Justin Speier75
RP437Hector Carrasco77
RP526Joe Saunders*24

Injuries are a huge issue with the Angels right now. Colon is still rehabbing, and Weaver won't be ready for Opening Day, giving Saunders, at least, room in the rotation, and possibly Dustin Moseley. Figgins could be out several weeks. Dallas McPherson is sidelined for a year.

I could have used a subjective adjustment to bump up Kotchman, but then he has an injury history himself, and EWSL is also rating Rivera and Izturis high based on their prior playing time, and the Angels have a lot of flexibility to slide people between OF, 3B, 1B and DH. If Kotchman can't establish himself, Kendry Morales will eat his lunch. Also expect Brandon Wood to enter the picture, probably as a result of Cabrera getting dealt.

I'm pretty pessimistic that a 35-year-old Garret Anderson will produce and last in left; the sooner they get Rivera out there, the better. End of the day, the Angels are division favorites on the strength of their starting pitching - if the starters can get healthy, they will be formidible, if not they don't have the offensive firepower to overcome that loss.

Oakland A's

Raw EWSL: 232 (77 W)
Adjusted: 238 (79 W)
Age-Adj.: 220 (73 W)

C33Jason Kendall2018
1B27Dan Johnson#67
2B30Mark Ellis1413
SS27Bobby Crosby1011
3B29Eric Chavez1816
RF27Nick Swisher#1415
CF29Milton Bradley1312
LF33Shannon Stewart87
DH38Mike Piazza128
C235Adam Melhuse22
INF31Marco Scutaro119
OF30Bobby Kielty87
1331Mark Kotsay1513
SP125Rich Harden810
SP226Danny Haren1212
SP326Joe Blanton#911
SP435Esteban Loaiza85
SP528Joe Kennedy77
RP123Huston Street#1215
RP229Justin Duchscherer109
RP332Kiko Calero64
RP426Brad Halsey55
SP524Chad Gaudin44

It's not hard to be optimistic about the A's when you look in the "age" column - besides Piazza, Kendall and Loaiza, this team's key guys are as close to the sweet spot as any team since the 2002 Angels. A lot needs to go right for this team to win 90+ games, but when you load your lineup with guys in that age range, good things do happen. Dan Johnson is really in a do-or-die situation at age 27, and ought to pay off for the A's if he really has gotten his eyes fixed. Bradley is in his walk year. Crosby, who has stagnated with injuries, is more worrisome.

Also on hand: Antonio Perez, Erubiel Durazo, and a handful of pitching prospects (Jason Windsor, Shane Komine, Dan Meyer) who could step up if Joe Kennedy continues to struggle, as he has this spring.

Seattle Mariners

Raw EWSL: 215 (72 W)
Adjusted: 229 (76 W)
Age-Adj.: 213 (71 W)

C31Kenji Johjima*1017
1B32Richie Sexson1815
2B23Jose Lopez1015
SS25Yuniesky Betancourt#811
3B28Adrian Beltre1920
RF27Jose Guillen108
CF33Ichiro Suzuki2421
LF35Raul Ibanez2014
DH32Jose Vidro1110
C223Rene Rivera*23
INF30Ben Broussard1211
OF26Jeremy Reed45
1329Willie Bloomquist44
SP121Felix Hernandez*711
SP232Jarrod Washburn107
SP330Jeff Weaver87
SP427Horacio Ramirez55
SP536Miguel Batista108
RP130JJ Putz119
RP229Julio Mateo54
RP329Chris Reitsma43
RP430George Sherrill22
RP525Jake Woods#35

Also on hand: Mike Morse, Arthur Rhodes, Jon Huber, Sean Burroughs.
Broussard is presumably first in line if Vidro isn't up to DH standards, but since Broussard isn't really a significantly better a hitter than Vidro, that may not matter.

I have very little faith in Seattle's rotation beyond Hernandez; even if Hernandez makes the Big Leap this season into Johan Santana-land, he will be dragging the rest of these guys behind him. The bullpen is deep, although questions about Putz's health make it look a lot less so.

A stable lineup and rotation heading into March is usually a sign of a strong team, and sometimes even a leading indicator (I noticed the same thing about Detroit before last season). Seattle did come into the spring with players in relatively well-settled roles, and in some cases, as with the double play combination, that can signify a potential strength beyond the numbers on the page. But even if the Mariners are improved in 2007, they still have too few real offensive strengths and a pitching staff with too many big holes to seriously contend.

Texas Rangers

Raw EWSL: 175 (58 W)
Adjusted: 192 (64 W)
Age-Adj.: 180 (60 W)
Subjective Adj.: 185 (62 W)

C27Gerald Laird33
1B27Mark Teixera2627
2B25Ian Kinsler*615
SS30Michael Young2725
3B26Hank Blalock1618
RF26Nelson Cruz*23
CF40Kenny Lofton127
LF30Brad Wilkerson1312
DH35Frank Catalanotto11
C232Miguel Ojeda22
INF22Joaquin Arias+14
OF29Marlon Byrd43
1326Jason Botts+14
SP132Kevin Millwood128
SP229Vicente Padilla98
SP323Brandon McCarthy#45
SP425Robinson Tejeda45
SP525Kameron Loe#45
RP131Eric Gagne54
RP235Akinori Otsuka106
RP327Frank Francisco11
RP426CJ Wilson#22
RP530Rick Bauer43

I'm bumping Laird up subjectively to 8 WS. You can call me a pessimist for leaving Sammy Sosa off here despite indications that he will start off the season as the everyday DH, but it wouldn't affect the Rangers' status as the clear preseason favorite to finish last, given their weak pitching and questionable outfield. This despite still having one of the best infields in baseball, maybe the best given the current status of the Yankees and Cardinals.

I expect Teixeira to bounce back this year and Kinsler to step up; Blalock is a more dauting puzzle, reaching the point where he needs to either go forward or abandon hope of making it as a star.

I assume Gagne will still be Gagne when healthy. If there is an upside on this team, it's with Gagne, Blalock, Wilkerson, McCarthy, Kinsler, Teixeira, Botts and Tejeda - come to think of it, a pretty long list.

Check out previous AL West previews from 2006, 2005 and 2004.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:02 AM | Baseball 2007 • | Baseball Studies | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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