SoSG EK, you're gonna love this.
The WSJ ran a graph yesterday that mapped teams relative to their offseason moves, along two dimensions: on the x-axis, the volume of moves made (players gained + players lost); and on the y-axis, the quality of those moves (measuring WAR gained - WAR lost). It's an interesting exercise, albeit deceiving. First, the graph:
And you can clearly see the Dodgers, right in the middle. The only team close to us on the "quality of moves" scale is the Diamondbacks, with San Francisco right on the midpoint line. The Rockies are hiding behind the Reds, at a -2 net WAR, while the Padres are way down in the bottom right quadrant, doing the largest volume of moves, but diminishing their net WAR by almost -6.
The Orioles "won" the offseason, by virtue of WAR-accumulating moves like picking up Derrek Lee (+3.5 WAR) and JJ Hardy (+2.9) while only losing Kevin Millwood (-1.9). The Orioles' net WAR was an MLB-high +9.0. Said the WSJ, "While other teams made bigger splashes, the Orioles quietly reinvented heir infield. The changes should help them do much better than 66-96." Which would be true, except for the fact that the Orioles are in the AL East. I'm not buying this methodology.
In fact, here's what Scott Cacciola and Jared Diamond have to say about the Dodgers (no link):
14. L.A. Dodgers (+0.1) Key acquisitions: SP Jon Garland (1.4), 2B Juan Uribe (2.1) Key loss: C Russell Martin (2.9) Outlook: A case of quantity over quality. The Dodgers' nine additions probably won't help them improve on a sub-.500 season.
(Russell Martin's departure is probably overstated as a -2.9 net WAR move, right?)
So the Dodgers are still stuck right there in the middle. One can't use this graph to prognosticate 2011 results, since the data doesn't take into account the team's starting WAR. For example, the Orioles might have gained 9.0 WAR, but given their 66-96 finish last year, the incremental 75-87 record would have put them...still in fifth place in the division (fourth-place Toronto lost (-4.9) WAR this offseason but still would have finished 81-81).
So the Dodgers treaded water this offseason. The Padres lost (-6.5) in WAR, San Francisco lost almost a full win of WAR (-0.8), the Rockies lost -3.0, and the Diamondbacks gained 0.2. Bolt those stats onto our 2010 final standings, ladies and gentlemen, and we're still in fourth place in the division; maybe tied for third.
graphic by Alberto Cervantes / WSJ