A quick post today furthering some of the projections that we looked at yesterday. We’ll be looking at the distribution of wins above replacement for each team’s starting rotation and bullpen.
The Giants are getting huge chunks of production from Lincecum, Cain, and Johnson. Sanchez isn’t too shabby either, he’s going to add nearly +2 wins to the rotation. Unfortunately, Barry Zito is adding the least to the overall rotation with just +1.18 projected wins for 2009. In ’09, the Giants will be paying $18.5M for $5M-ish in production. That’s a little more than three-times what Zito should be making.
The Giants might not have one true dominant reliever — in terms of WAR — but they have some nice depth spread out between Affeldt, Romo, and Howry. The other end of the bullpen includes Jack Taschner, Keichii Yabu, and Alex Hinshaw. Of those three, Hinshaw has the highest upside because of his “stuff” but he’s got major control problems to overcome before he reaches his potential. I think Hinshaw is one of the bigger potential bullpen busts on the roster.
The Diamondbacks rotation appears to be really balanced after you get past Brandon Webb and Dan Haren. Each one of Garland, Davis, and Scherzer are projected to be in the general neighborhood of +2 wins. If Scherzer has a break-out season, the D-Backs could really separate themselves from the rest of the NL West rotations. Petit should be a fine 5th/spot-starter for the team.
If the D-Backs have one weakness in terms of pitching — it’s their bullpen. As I said in the previous post, for now I’ve included Juan Cruz in their team bullpen projections, but if he goes to the Twins, the D-Backs’ bullpen is going to drop a little further. Qualls, Raunch, and Pena are a good start but once you get past them, things get ugly. Tom Gordon, Doug Slaten, and Scott Schoeneweis will all most likely see time in the Arizona bullpen in ’09. None of them are great bets. Slaten has had some modest success in the majors but Gordon threw just 29 innings in ’08 and struggled in ’07. He’ll be 41-years-old this coming season. Schoeneweis rebounded last season with the Mets — a 3.34 ERA — but his FIP was near 5.00 and he was helped out by a career high LOB% of 81.7%.
The Dodgers are led by Chad Billingsley and Hiroki Kuroda who are combining for a little more than half of their total starting rotation wins above replacement. Randy Wolf was a pretty good addition on his 1-year, $5M deal to return to LA. He’s got a chance to be worth up to +2 wins. You’d have to wonder how much Barry Zito would have gotten on this market if he was a free agent after his two years with the Giants. Probably something similar to Wolf’s deal, maybe even a little less. I think the key for the LA rotation will be Clayton Kershaw who’s projected to add +1.95 wins. He’s definitely got the talenet to exceed that projection and if he has a break-out season — much like Max Scherzer in Arizona — the Dodgers rotation will be the better for it. I have no idea of what to expect from Jason Schmidt, I don’t think anyone does.
After you get past Broxton and Kuo — both are adding most of the value to their bullpen — the Dodgers bullpen drops off pretty sharply. Both Cory Wade and Ramon Troncosco are promising young arms. I can see them beating their projections if things go right. Stults is a replacement-level reliever who should soak up innings in blow outs and such. McDonald is another promising young arm that I can definitely see beating his CHONE projection if he’s used in a relief role. I should have probably adjusted his FIP a little since CHONE is projecting him to remain a starter at the MLB level. If he’s used as a reliever, he’ll beat replacement-level most likely.
Now this is a rotation with some problems. Jimenez and Cook are accounting for 60% of the SP WAR for the Rockies. Jason Marquis and Greg Smith are mostly filler, Smith might have some modest upside but I don’t see him doing better than his 2008 season, especially not in Coors. De La Rosa is slightly interesting but his career numbers are mediocre. He’s got a live arm so you never know, he could put it together for parts of the season. The Rockies would love to get something from former 1st round pick Greg Reynolds. His career so far has been disappointing.
Huston Street, Taylor Buchholz, and Manny Corpas combine for a strong back-end of the Rockies bullpen. I’ve got Street projected as the early favorite for Rockies closer and I think it’s a role he’ll probably win over Manny Corpas. Jason Grilli and Alan Embree are decent mid-relief arms. Matt Belisle is a replacement-level reliever and Glendon Rusch should be used in blowout situations.
We all know that Jake Peavy is very good, but would you have guessed that Cha Seung Baek is projected to be the 2nd best SP on the Padres for 2009? I wouldn’t have either. Baek was DFA’d in 2008 by the Mariners and the Padres snatched him up. He ended up throwing 111 innings of 4.62 ERA baseball for the Padres. Baek won’t be confused with Jake Peavy, but he’s got four pitches that he can throw for strikes and could surprise quite a few people while pitching in Petco. The back-end of the Padres rotation is a little more unstable with Josh Greer, Mark Prior, Kevin Correia, and Wade LeBlanc looking for innings.
The Padres bullpen is headlined by Heath Bell who should have no problem replacing Trevor Hoffman as closer. Cla Meredith and Mike Adams should work in setup roles for the team. I’m a fan of both Chris Britton and Scott Patterson, I think they could beat their CHONE projections. Patterson is especially intriguing to me. He has pitched quite well in the minors over the last few years with an unusual pitching motion that seems to give hitters a lot of trouble. Justin Hampson could also thrive in a relief role.