Tuesday, June 05, 2007

ESPN Discovers NL West, Grants Division "Page 2" Status

...after all, we wouldn't want to displace any of that fine AL East coverage, including the latest analysis of A-Rod's used kleenex.

But hey, ESPN.com's Page 2 does say the NL West race is the best in baseball, at least right now (a 13 game lead will naturally have one searching for drama elsewhere). And though the paragraph below focuses on the Padres, the next point analyzes the Dodgers:

2. The Dodgers' youth movement has progressed gradually -- so far, so good. But they might want to step on it soon.

Thanks to scouting director Logan White and his staff, few if any teams own a better collection of young talent than the Dodgers. Russell Martin has been the best catcher in the National League by a wide margin; Jonathan Broxton and Chad Billingsley have been great setting up Takashi Saito in the pen; Tony Abreu is off to a hot start as the team's new third baseman.

Some of the team's top prospects are still plying their trade in the minor leagues, thanks to a batch of deals handed out to some name veterans. Luis Gonzalez has been solid (.284/.373/.443) on a short-term contract in left field, even if he's not the same slugger he used to be. But Nomar Garciaparra hasn't offered much at first base (.286/.335/.350, just one homer) and center fielder Juan Pierre has been one of the worst hitters in the league (.273/.303/.324). Top first-base prospect James Loney has struggled in Vegas and doesn't look ready to supplant Nomar.

But the heir apparent in center, 22-year-old Matt Kemp, is hitting a robust .317/.371/.522 in Triple-A (albeit in the hitter's haven of Las Vegas). He's an obvious candidate for a promotion, while Billingsley deserves a shot at the starting rotation. There's also enough talent elsewhere in the system to trade for an upgrade at first base or in a corner outfield spot. Led by Brad Penny (more on him later), the Dodgers are among the league's elite on the mound. A few well-crafted moves could provide a big lift to the offense -- and give the Dodgers the upper hand in the NL West race.

The piece goes on to mention how Randy Johnson is the Methuselah of the Diamondbacks, and how the Giants will pick up $5M of recently-departed Armando Benitez's salary (with the Marlins picking up the remaining fraction of $333K). And in my benevelont objectivity, I agree with ESPN that this Giants blogger's take on the Benitez trade was creative and pretty funny, if not consistently funny through all six quotes (two out of six ain't bad (right, Barry?)).


Eric Karros said...

ESPN wrote about the NL West? Man, next thing you know they'll be covering naked midget shuffleboard.

Steve Sax said...

What? Are they in the playoffs already?

Orel said...

Martin better than McCann by a wide margin?