Friday, December 10, 2004
We all predicted that the Braves would hurt from losing players like Gary Sheffield and Greg Maddux, but they've continued to roll on and accumulate division titles. This free agency cycle might be different: here is what Ortiz, Wright and Drew did in 2004:
Ortiz: 4.83 FIP ERA / 6.3 K/9 / 11 Win Shares (1 above average)
Wright: 3.31 FIP ERA / 7.7 K/9 / 13 Win Shares (4 above average
Drew: .342 GPA / .264 ISO / .436 OBP / 126 Runs Created / 34 Win Shares (17 above average)
Total: 58 Win Shares (22 above average)
Losing Drew is going to hurt. 2004 might have been Drew’s unrepeatable career year, but I doubt the Braves are going to find anyone who can come even within .100 of Drew’s GPA stats for 2005. Let’s say these losses cost the Braves 22 games: they’d take a tumble to 74-88. Now, that isn’t likely to happen, but I can’t see the Braves winning 96 games next year. I think they could lose about 10-15 games off their season totals for next year. That would leave the gate wide-open for the Phillies to walk through.
The Phillies haven't had the sort of losses that the Braves have suffered:
Milton: 8 Win Shares (-1 above average)
Millwood: 5 Win Shares (-2 above average)
Polanco: 17 Win Shares (2 above average)
Byrd: 5 Win Shares (-5 above average)
Total: 35 Win Shares (-6 above average)
(I’m assuming that Byrd will be dealt and that Polanco won’t stay…)
The Phillies replaced them with …
Lidle: (as Red) 3 Win Shares (-4 above average)
(as Phillie) 4 Win Shares (1 above average)
Lieber: 11 Win Shares (2 above average)
Lofton: 8 Win Shares (0 above average)
Utley: 8 Win Shares (0 above average)
Total: 36 Win Shares (-1 above average)
Not great, but they could still keep Polanco and they might get someone of value for Byrd. If Lidle pitches like he did with the Phillies, then they have improved over last year. 88, 90 or even 92 wins are a possible goal for this team.
Which leaves the rest … the Marlins are losing Carl Pavano (20 WS / 9 WSAA) and are replacing him with Al Leiter (12 WS / 4 WSAA). I don’t see the Fish adding anyone else of value, cash-strapped as they are. I think they’ll equal their 83 wins from last year. The Mets? They lost Leiter and spent a fortune to sign Kris Benson. (Benson's wife recently was quoted in SI as saying that she'd basically sleep with anyone remotely connected to the Mets organization if her husband were unfaithful. How about just divorcing him?) Kris Benson? Good luck. I see a battle to stay in fourth for these guys. The Nats? They certainly signed some guys, but Cristian Guzman (16 WS / -1 WSAA), Vinny Castilla (15 WS / -1 WSAA) and Jose Guillen (21 WS / 6 WSAA) aren’t going to turn things around in our nation’s capitol. Washington: first in war, first in peace, last in the National League East.
Here is my (very) preliminary 2005 prediction:
2005 NL East:
New York Mets: 73-89
The Phillies are fairly lucky: they compete against a team in a New York market, but that team is arguably the most incompetent in baseball. The Nats seem intent on spending money to show they are serious about something, but what that something happens to be is unclear. The Fish? Too cheap. The Braves? Becoming the Fish. I wonder if this is why the Phillies didn’t feel a need to sign a stud pitcher in the off-season: even doing nothing there is an opening here for the Phillies wide enough to drive a truck through.
More on Monday....
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