Tuesday, January 10, 2006

National League West

First things first, Bruce Sutter made the hall. Why anyone would vote him over Gossage I don't know, but there are plenty of articles out asking that question, so I won't bother.

Dodgers 80-82
Padres 80-82
Giants 79-83
D-Backs 78-84
Rockies 71-91

What an ugly division. Due to the unbalanced schedule, one of these teams will crack .500 like the Padres last year, though I have no idea which one. Dodgers probably have the most upside. I have Drew and Nomar both around 360 at bats. One of them will get lucky and stay healthy. Its an old team, with Mueller, Kent, and Lofton all 35+. Only Furcal and the young catchers are south of 30. The defense is mediocre, as is the starting rotation of Lowe, Penny, Perez, Seo, and Tomko.

Padres have a good 1-2 punch with Peavy (3.09 ERA) and Chris "Cy" Young (3.59), who will love his new ballpark. Lawrence, Williams, and estes round out the rotation, none are very good. The bullpen is very good with Hoffman back, Linebrink a setup man once again (damn those Padres, I picked up Linebrink for $1 the last week of 2005 in a fantasy keeper league). Steve Andrade finally gets his shot, and averages a strikeout per inning. The Angel's bullpen welfare program continues around the majors. The defense is a bit above average, led by Mike Cameron, and the Padres allow fewer runs than all but the Cardinals.

Their offense is very weak, however. Like last year, nobody cracks 20 homers. Castilla and Mirabelli are black holes. Bellhorn/Barfield at 2B don't hit much, Klesko is done, Cameron hits .239 with 14 HR, Dave Roberts declines a bit from 2005. Only Giles and Greene are even average offensive players, until Adrian Gonzalez wins the 1B job from Klesko midway through the year.

I understand the Padres are moving the fences in a bit. I haven't accounted for that, I'm using the old park factors. If there's a difference, they score a few more runs. Somebody hits 20 homers. They also give up a few more. Record stays the same. Ballparks don't win games, players do.

Jason Schmidt is back. He follows up an injury plagued year with a 3.42 ERA. Lowry and Morris are solid, and Matt Cain shows flashes of brilliance, though 85 walks in 159 innings keep his ERA at 4.24. The pitching is solid.

The offense isn't good enough. The average age of the starting lineup is 36. Durham, Alou, and Vizquel are shells of their former selves. Matheny was never that good in the first place. Feliz at 3B swings at everything, and Mark Sweeney, getting the majority of 1B time, is overexposed. Only Randy Winn among the mortals plays well, hitting .290 with 38 doubles and 14 homers plus good CF defense.

For the immortals, Barry Bonds is projected at 336 at bats. He hits .290 with 21 homers.

When some of the older players need a day off, the Giants can always play Steve Finley. That'll be fun.

Diamond backs have one reliable, durable starter in Brandon Webb. There's Miguel Batista, who's 35, was not a good starter in 2004, and attempts to return after a year in the pen. There's El Duque, who began his Cuban career pitching under a different Batista. I'll be surprised if he can make 20 starts. Brad Halsey and Dustin Nippert round out the rotation. Nippert has potential but is still an inknown. My conservative projection is a 4.61 ERA.

Overall, the D-Backs allow 781 runs, 70 fewer than in 2005 but still 3rd worst in the league.

The offense is medicore considering the park. Conor Jackson hits .275 with 20 homers. Chad Tracy drops to 17, I'm not sure his power boost of 2005 is for real. Green and Gonzalez are another year older. Eric Byrnes hits .264 with 15 homers and often dives the wrong way for baseballs. If they contend its only because nobody in the division is any good. Most likely they fall out of the race, and in the second half of the year their fans will be treated to the future, as Carlos Quentin, Steven Drew, and Chris Young are worked into the lineup. (Though none of those players are worked into my projections yet.)

The Rockies do about the same as they did last year. They score a lot of runs, though only Helton is an outstanding hitter. (Atkins, Holliday, and Hawpe are decent) They haven't added anyone good in the offseason. The young players are mostly second rate prospects with limited celings. The real good ones, like Tulowitzki and Stewart, are at least a year away.

Outfield defense is a problem. Holliday and the Hawpe/Shealy platoon are butchers in the corners. They don't have a legit CF. Cory Sullivan is probably the starter.

Forcing a pitcher to throw in this environment should be considered cruel and unusual punishment. They only have one, maybe 2 good pitchers to start with. Jeff Francis is one of the best young pitchers in baseball, and its to his credit that he keeps his ERA under 5 (4.92) in this environment. He also gives them a 152-61 K-W ratio. Jason Jennings is second with a 5.61 ERA, though he could give somebody a Chacon like performance if he's traded. Brian Fuentes is a pretty good closer, but if anything happens to him they'll likely go to Jose Mesa as a closer, for the comic relief.

Overall, the Rockies give up 923 runs and finish in last place.


At 2:03 AM, Anonymous Vaux said...


I'm relieved to see that you have the Rockies giving up over 900 runs. I've only got them to give up about 850, which left them over .500 (!)

The difference between your Dodger prediction and mine is definitely that I've just gone ahead and projected health for Drew and all the pitchers. The Padres no longer have Brian Lawrence, alas, and the Diamonback will have Russ Ortiz in their rotation rather than Nippert. Bob Melvin is even making noises about a "competition" for the "fifth" spot between Halsey and Vargas, so their projection could be a few game uglier.

Good stuff!

At 8:03 PM, Anonymous Chone said...

I forgot about Lawrence. I need to add him to the Nats. The Padres have depth (Hensley, Stauffer, Setherton) who I think are decent, so that should not change their projection.


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