Friday, February 19, 2010

ESPN Picks Rockies To Win NL West

ESPN / Baseball Prospectus' Jay Jaffe has the Dodgers tied for third--or fourth, depending on how you look at it--with a 81-81 record, according to PECOTA projections. This would place us seven games behind the projected winner, the Colorado Rockies (insider only). As for the hometown team:

Los Angeles Dodgers: 81-81 projected 2010 record

Why They Might Win: Fundamentally, this is the same team that stormed out of the gate last year, putting up the league's best run differential despite losing Manny Ramirez to a drug suspension for 50 games. Manny's vacation as well as subpar years from Rafael Furcal, James Loney and Russell Martin were offset by major breakouts by Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier -- and a career year from Casey Blake. Only at second base will the Dodgers have a new starter, and every year that Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley get under their belts is another year closer to their ascendance to being two of the league's top pitchers.

Why They Might Not Win: Owner Frank McCourt's divorce from wife and former team CEO Jamie McCourt appears to have affected the team's winter spending, and they find themselves depending upon Vicente Padilla to provide a career year along the lines of departed free agent Randy Wolf. Even more frighteningly, all five projected starting pitchers -- Billingsley, Kershaw, Hiroki Kuroda, Padilla and James McDonald -- grade out as red lights via Will Carroll's Team Health Reports, meaning each has at least a 50 percent chance of winding up on the disabled list. Furthermore, Loney and Martin have failed to advance after strong beginnings to their careers, and Ramirez -- who hit just .255/.380/.448 after taking a fastball on the wrist in late July -- may be finished as a dominant offensive force.

Player Who Could Surprise: Key for a team whose external resources appear to be limited, PECOTA is sanguine regarding the Dodgers' young fifth-starter options -- but the forecast of rookie Scott Elbert's striking out 10.3 batters per nine innings is intriguing.

Player Who Could Disappoint: The system is particularly down on the 36-year-old Blake, foreseeing .258/.339/.417 with 17 homers.

The NL West may be a toss-up, but I don't think the division will end up Rockies / Snakes / Dodgers and Giants / Friars. No one in the NL West saw big improvements in the offseason, so even our stagnation has to be considered amongst peers who are also treading water. But--like everyone else--we are indeed aging at some key positions...

...You hear that, Casey Blake and Manny Ramirez? JAY JAFFE IS CALLING YOU OUT! Show him wrong in 2010!

10 comments:

Fred's Brim said...

ESPN picks its nose, too

Wicks said...

This is the same ESPN that picked the Cardinals to sweep us right?

Dusty Baker said...

Wait, why didn't EPSN pick the Red Sox to win the NL West?

Josh S. said...

Good thing Al Jaffee didn't call them out, or they'd be foldin'.

Dr. Geek said...

Last weekend, I skimmed through six or seven baseball digests. All but two had the Dodger finishing in second place or worse.

Dusty Baker said...

There clearly seems to be a memo among baseball writers that because of the McCourt's divorce proceedings, the team will be worse than it was last year. Now one could make a semi-cogent argument that the lack of spending has meant that starting pitching has suffered somewhat as Wolf left and wasn't replaced. But on balance, does the McCourt divorce really mean that all the players who were so great last year suddenly become less great? Will Kemp forget how to hit for power? Ethier choke in the bottom of the ninth with men on? Don't think so.

Writers who pick Dodgers to take steps backward are taking the easy way out of having to think by saying the divorce means we go 81-81. Most of them couldn't find LA on a map much less actually know the situation.

There are a ton of teams out there who would kill to have the squad we have and the payroll we have. That perspective is missing in most of these predictions.

Hong Like a Chih Kuo said...

Sax, the only thing you wrote here that I sort of disagree with is the Diamondbacks not improving. The addition of Edwin Jackson plus the return of Brandon Webb is a huge improvement. They'll also get Connor Jackson back healthy, have a solid option at 1B this year in Adam LaRoche, and no more Eric Byrnes. The D-Bags are certainly going to be a better team this year compared to last. That's my take on it anyway.

Dusty Baker said...

Yep, what HLACK said re D-bags.

Steve Sax said...

@Josh S., love the Al Jaffee reference. Nice.

Casey said...

The D-backs will be better, but lack any kind of bullpen. Unless their lineup piles on a ton of runs (doubtful), the Dodgers should be in those games, even when Webb/Haren/Edwin are pitching well.

The Rockies and Giants worry me more. Should be a pretty balanced division this year.