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Friday, January 28, 2005

Padres v. Dodgers

When I was a kid I used to have matchups between He-Man figurines and I would have a knock out pile, for characters that had been "knocked out", and if I got really bored I would twist their rubbery legs around and around until they broke off. Then I would chew on the plastic swords, and bitch and moan to my parent that my little brother was breaking all my toys, and I needed new ones.

So anyway, now that I'm older, I have pretend matchups in my dreams of the players, usually with cursory statistical averages involved, but occasionally they start hitting each other with baseball bats, sometimes knives. It's fun, and helps me get to sleep at night. Then I dream of other things.

I'm going to do a series of matchups, with the Dodgers, against each of the other four teams in the NL West. At first I hesitated to do a matchup with the Rockies and the D-Backs, because all the nerd stat sites I read told me they sucked, but then I remembered that they had at one time been to the playoffs. You never know when the Teal teams might bite us on the behind.

Here we go:

1B:

We got Hee Seop Choi versus Phil Nevin. I remember when Nevin missed most of a season a couple years ago or so, and they did some special on him, on Fox Sports or maybe it was ESPN, they're both the same, and he looked pretty scrawny. He actually did pretty well last year, posting a 128 OPS+, and since he's scrawny, he's probably not a roid user. So the new drug testing won't have much effect, unless that testing tests for meth, which all the players are on, and then it will. But I digress. He's a decent player, and one of the few on the Padres who didn't regress horribly by playing in Petco. He's 34, so he'll probably hit around 12 percent less than that, since Bill James tells me that's the standard decrease for a hitter around his age. Still, he's decent.

Choi is an asian mutant, and Vin Scully told me once during a game that he likes to eat. In the limited action Choi saw, he was a good player, if you count his Marlin stats. Word on the street is that Choi has a beautiful but slow swing, and you can burn him with a fastball. Of course most pitchers just throw fastballs, so I'm afraid. He draws a lot of walks because of this, or so I've heard. I'm not as sold on him as DePodesta is. I think he'll be okay.

I'm giving this a wash. Both guys will hit around 20 dongs, have good walk rates, and in general be fan favorites, because they seem like dudes you can have a brew with. Choi would drink a pitcher by himself though, I wonder if he'd get red in the face?

2B:

We got Jeff Kent versus Mark Loretta. Holy smokes Mark Loretta was amazing last year. I'm pretty sure he was near the top in hitting for starting second basemen, and a quick look at the OPS for second baseman on ESPN.com, shows he was. Second was our boy Kent.

I'm going to with Loretta, by a slight amount. Obviously Loretta had a career year last year, either drug induced, or new exercise program induced, and we won't be seeing that again. He'll regress, not terribly, but a bit. Kent played in a homer park, and he's 37. Loretta is 33. Kent we'll get injured, Loretta won't. Winner Loretta.

SS:

We got Khalil Greene versus Cesar Izturis. Don't you just want to pinch little Cesar's cheeks, he's just so darned cute. Greene's got that cool Islamic warrior name, even though he's white, so he's probably a cult member.

Greene is WAY better of a hitter than Izturis, but he's more injury prone, and he finished the season on the DL. He also can't defend worth a damn, Izturis is pretty good I hear.

I know Greene is going to regress a lot, just because that's what second year young players tend to do. Izturis should do better, maybe, just maybe, he'll hit league average someday. If he isn't lying about his age, I'm going to give the edge to Izturis. Again, the difference between the two players offensively in 2005 doesn't sit well with me. Winner, Izturis.

3B:

We got Jose Valentin versus Sean Burroughs. Valentin is old, Burroughs is young. Both were letdowns last season, Burroughs by a little, Valentin by a lot. Burroughs can't hit for power, Valentin can. The upside is greater on Valentin, but I'm wondering whether the pitcher's park that is Dodger Stadium will devastate Valentin. At this point they're both the same offensively, but the upside is WAY greater in Burroughs. He's only 24 for god sakes. Ya gotta go with Burroughs here.

LF:

We got Jayson Werth versus Ryan Klesko. Klesko is a big dude, and he regressed last season. Werth seems solid, if you don't mind the fact that he broke a couple ribs, tore a tendon in his arm, and spasmed some muscle in his quadiceps that caused him to miss half the season. But other than that he's really good. And he can't hit lefties. Klesko missed a lot of games last year, but so did Werth. Werth is so unproven, and so injury ridden, that I fear we'll be seeing a lot of Ricky Ledee in 2005. I'm going with Klesko here, he's due for a comeback. Don't ask me what analysis led me to that, just go with me.

CF:

We got J.D. Drew versus Dave Roberts. My man Dave got fucked over by management, and next thing you know, he's a world series champion. Way to give us the finger. I'm proud of him. Roberts and Drew share a love for the trainer's bench, but Drew is 1000 times the hitter Roberts is. I love Roberts, but ya gotta go with Drew, even if he misses 60 odd games. Winner, Drew.

RF:

We got Milton Bradley versus Brian Giles. Brian didn't play up to Brian's standards, but he was still decent. I like the guy, and by this point in the offseason he'll have the dates on the random drug testing, so we'll see a return to normal performance. Defensively Bradley is dramatically better, but he's simply not as good of a hitter. Also he's insane. Winner, Giles.

C:

We got Dave Ross versus Ramon Hernandez. Do I need to continue?

So in terms of starters I would say the Padres beat us at 5 spots, it's a wash at one spot, and we win at two spots. And you could definitely argue with me on several points, especially with Izturis and Greene. It's not a pretty picture.

How about pitching? Let's do the starters:

Woody Williams, Jake Peavy, Brian Lawrence, Adam Eaton, Darrell May.

Jeff Weaver, Derek Lowe, Odalis Perez, Brad Penny, Kaz Ishii, Edwin Jackson.

Jake Peavy and Perez are clearly the stars of each rotation. Peavy is young, talented, Perez is kind of young, kind of talented. One is injury prone, the other is angry prone. Peavy is better. Woody is ancient, and getting ancienter. Lawrence and Eaton are basically prospects that have never really cut it in the major leagues, but especially in the case of Lawrence, could surprise. Penny is amazing, and should be our number one, but knowing the luck of this team the past decade, will probably never pitch again. Lowe sucks. Ishii is Mothra in human form, Jackson better perform.

I think we're better. Both starters are overrated because of the stadiums they play in. But if we're healthy, we will dominate.

I'm too lazy to go into the benches, and bullpens. Our bullpen is amazing, our bench can be amazing if utilized properly. Is Tracy smarter than Bochy? He has a smaller head, and wears glasses, so it's a tossup. Neither is grossly incompetent, both are quiet. Their offense is so much better than ours, it doesn't really matter.

As long as our offense can do a modicum of damage, I think we will win. That might be asking a lot. Damn we have good pitching.

Edge: Dodgers.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Declining Strike Rate

I've written before about how a declining strike rate, k/9, over several years, usually means health problems. Baseball Prospectus quotes from another source, but basically they list all the prominent pitchers who have had two years of declining k/9, from 2002-2004. Guess which Dodgers are on them?

Odalis Perez (feels burning pain in shoulder, can barely pitch)
Brad Penny (feels burning pain in forearm, can't pitch)
Kaz Ishii (feels burning pain in head, can't walk)

The Giants have:

Brett Tomko

The D-backs have:

Javier Vasquez
Russ Ortiz

With Brad Penny, and Kaz Ishii, we're on the hook for only one more season. In Ishitty's case we have a small million dollar plus buyout after 2005. Perez we signed for the next three years. Sigh. I'm sure we had to do that keep him, and hope that we can wring one good season out of him, but expect the pitching staff to be dramatically different in 2006. Please God, may Edwin Jackson deliver. Also Baseball Prospectus reported that Greg Miller, the greatest pitching prospect who ever lived, is ready and healthy for AA. I thought he was already in AA?!? Fuck.

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