Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Gammons Investigates Drew's History, Discovers NL West Exists

Taking an unusual respite from his unyielding Red Sox / Yankees coverage, ESPN.com's Peter Gammons wrote a nice piece on the foundation of pitching that has lifted all boats in the NL West. In a piece posted today entitled "NL West on the rise," Gammons breaks down all five teams, including the Dodgers: [note the link is for insider subscribers only]

Then one looks at the Dodgers and their pitching now that they signed [Jason] Schmidt and Randy Wolf to go with Lowe, Penny and either Chad Billingsley or Hong-Chih Kuo. Grady Little's patience helped Takashi Saito turn into a 24-for-26 closer with 107 strikeouts in 79 innings at the age of 36, and if Saito -- who was the equivalent of a walk-on -- goes back to what he was in Japan, Jonathan Broxton is in the wings, Billingsley could become a reliever, Yhency Brazoban is coming back and there is Jonathan Meloan coming out of the lower minors after punching out 91 in 52 innings.

They will pitch, and while Colletti took some heat for the money he gave Juan Pierre, at the time the Dodgers had one outfielder. Now, they have Pierre and Rafael Furcal at the top of the order. They have James Loney and Nomar Garciaparra at first; Jeff Kent at second; Wilson Betemit, Andy LaRoche and Garciaparra at third; Russell Martin and Mike Lieberthal catching; and an outfield combination of Pierre, Luis Gonzalez, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Garciaparra and Marlon Anderson. "We have some flexibility, so we don't ask too much of our better young players," says Colletti....

It's a division with really good young players, energetic organizations and, most of all, pitching. The NL West isn't just out there any more.

I do like Gammons' writing overall and I appreciate the fact that he went outside his comfort zone to cover our division. He profiles all five teams, but it seems like only the Dodgers have built both a contender for today as well as a deep system for tomorrow.

He's generally positive on the Padres, and for the Giants mentions the potential upside of Matt Cain as well as the Barry Bonds circus. Gammons also says the Snakes might contend as well if their youth movement holds up.


Orel said...

I thought this was going to be a J.D. Drew update. You know—Gammons, Red Sox, etc.

Steve Sax said...

Yeah, you're right. I should have used the headline "Gammons, While Investigating Drew's History, Discovers NL West". My bad.