Sketching out the 2007 M’s season
Sooooo I did some more sketching today, and I’m going to share.
The M’s are going to be a better offensive team than they were last year, but I don’t think it’s going to be as dramatic as we’re supposed to believe. Given some basic assumptions, using the blunt-force instrument of 3-year averages and then bludgeoning them up or down on my own biases, I’ve got the M’s scoring ~780-790 runs. My notes on where I bludgeoned the stats:
Assumptions, in order:
DH: Vidro sucks. The move to DH does nothing for his crappy hitting.
C: Johjima’s about the same. I – and I have no basis for this at all – think Johjima’s in good position to have a better 2007, but I am concerned about his no-walking ways. We’ll see, I guess.
1B: Sexson hits like Sexson
2B: Lopez hits like the crappy ground-ball machine Hargrove loves. If Lopez can get them to let him loose, he’ll hit a small batch of home runs and be a much more productive hitter. I’m betting on Hargrove’s incompetence here.
SS: Betancourt’s about the same. Dave’s written a lot about how we think last year was close to the top of his offensive potential. Dave’s a smart guy and I agree with his reasoning. I don’t think Betancourt’ll collapse, but he’s unlikely to be much more productive without doing something we haven’t seen from him yet (like hit line drives, or take walks)
3B: I’ve got Beltre down for a 2006 repeat. I still think he could do better. Call me crazy.
LF: Ibanez. I don’t think I’ve been as consistently wrong about a Mariner as I’ve been about Ibanez. I thought his original contract was nutty, but the M’s were right, his swing fit perfectly and he rocked out. I thought his extension was pointless and annoying, and last year he makes me look stupid again. At this point, I’m just putting him down for the 3-year average and calling it good. May he defy the expectations of aging again.
RF: Guillen’s a weird case. There’s a fair chance he’s done. Seriously. You’re hoping you get the 04/05 Guillen, the .290/.345/.490 hitter… but when he underwent surgery, the Nationals said the recovery timetable was 8-16m, and then 3m later he was supposedly taking batting practice. I know the M’s did the whole physical workup, but until he’s hitting against live pitching we don’t know. The difference between done Guillen and a live, productive Guillen is 20 runs easily.
I also assume the bench doesn’t help, which it won’t.
The big variables: Guillen, obviously. Lopez. Does Ibanez defy age? Does Beltre break out again, or even manage a repeat of 2005? Can Vidro make a comeback, and can I set aside my hatred of that trade to rationally evaluate the chances of it happening?
The low end — Vidro sucks, Lopez is Hargrove’s happy groundout machine, Guillen’s done, Ibanez finally loses some bat speed – is still 765-770 runs. Probably less, actually, if all those things happen. The high end – Vidro mounts a comeback, Guillen’s 04/05 Guillen, Ibanez maintains, Lopez hits 20 HR, etc — they score 800.
That’s not that bad. Even the low end is about a repeat of last season.
What about the pitching?
SP Felix. Does Felix work out the pitch selection problems with his manager/coaches? Even a repeat of last year should produce better results.
SP Washburn. I expect Washburn to be Washburn.
SP Batista. I have low expectations for Batista’s performance this year. I figure he’ll be Meche Light. Yes, I just wrote that.
SP Ramirez. I have even lower expectations for Ramirez. Still, anything beats the 06 Pineiro.
SP Baek/Woods. How low? I think if Baek makes the rotation out of spring training, it’ll be a coin flip whether he’s better than Ramirez. I’m starting to think Woods might be pretty well-suited for Safeco starts, actually, if only for his left-handedness, deep fences, and the M’s ability to deploy a forgiving defense behind him. But anyway, that’s a whole other discussion.
The rotation, on balance, should be improved, even if they’re stepping back from Moyer and Meche.
The bullpen of Putz et al might be better than last year, even with Soriano gone. I like O’Flaherty a lot, and they can put together a really good unit. If they trade Reed/Broussard for more relief pitching, it could improve even more.
(Dave disagrees that the bullpen’s going to be better – he thinks it might be much worse. I can’t bring myself to believe they’ll come out of spring training with Woods/Huber over O’Flaherty/Green, but if it happens, he’s right)
Total, they give up… 770 runs. Potentially it’s much better than that if Felix breaks out and Batista/Ramirez are as advertised – it could be 740 on the low end. The worst-case isn’t that bad. I don’t think Felix is going to suck, Washburn might be a little worse, but I’m already pessimistic on Batista/Ramirez, and if they’re much worse than that, the M’s will sub in… oooooooooooh. Right. That’s it for starters. Soooo 790? 800
So my guess at realistic totals is
785 runs scored
770 runs allowed
Using pythag, we get 82 wins, more or less.
Assuming the high end on both sides (they score 800, give up 740), that’s a 87 win team. Assuming the ugly case on both sides, that’s 79 wins.
However, chewing this over… I’m not sure how I feel about this. If Vidro/Guillen sucks that badly, won’t they do something, like they did for Everett? But then what options do they have any more — going to Jones? The team’s also highly vulnerable to injury: their depth just sucks. There’s no way any regular goes down for any length of time without hugely hurting the offense. Any serious injury to Felix or even Washburn cripples the rotation.
We’ve said the 2007 M’s are about a .500 team with a high risk of collapse (which, really, is what we’ve been saying in different forms for a while), and looking at it today, it looks like that’s about right.
And the sad part about that is that if the 2007 team isn’t any closer to competing now than they were when they started this off-season, and they haven’t helped themselves compete for a pennant in 2008 or 2009 or whenever, well, you can see why that sucks.