Thursday, February 18, 2016

Hot Stove Update: Comparing the Offseasons of the NL West Teams

Here is my review and breakdown of the offseasons for each of the NL West Teams:


While Zack Greinke's opt out clause should have been an ominous sign for the Dodgers offseason, I think most Dodgers fans and most analysts of the MLB scene expected the Dodgers to simply pull out their checkbook, tell Greinke to write in whatever he wanted for an extension and go on like nothing had happened.  It was not to be.  The longer it dragged on, the more you got the feeling Greinke was not going to be a Dodger in 2016.  He did not sign with the Giants either, but he did sign with a division rival, the D'Backs, in one of the more disastrous free agent losses for any team in history.

The Dodgers scrambled while the offseason seemed to go from bad to worse.  They signed RHP Hisashi Iwakuma only to have the deal fall apart after his physical.  They were within minutes of making a trade for LHP Aroldis Chapman only to have that deal blow up when a police report of domestic violence came to light.

The Dodgers got their ship stabilized and ended up on some better notes, but did not come close to doing anything likely to overcome the loss of Zack Greinke.  In summary:

Losses:  Greinke, SS Jimmy Rollins.

Gains:  LHP Scott Kazmir, RHP Kenta Maeda.

Returning Free Agents:  LHP Brett Anderson(accepted QO),  2B Howie Kendrick.

Final Grade:  D.   The way I see it, the Dodgers still have a strong team, and could still be favorites to win the NL West, but this was a disastrous offseason!  They lost their co-ace to a division rival and replaced him with a guy(Kazmir) who has never really put a full good season together and a Japanese pitcher who might be good until he's faced opposing teams once or twice, but whose comps most closely resemble pitchers who did not make a successful transition to MLB baseball.


The D'Backs spent a shipload of money to pry RHP Zack Greinke away from the Dodgers and Giants, then sent a shipload of prospects to the Braves for RHP Shelby Miller.  They also added SS Jean Segura in another dubious trade and RHP Tyler Clippard as a free agent.  Did they get enough better to challenge the Giants and Dodgers in the NL West?  Probably not, and this offseason is not going to age well for them.  In summary:

Losses:  OF Ender Inciarte, SS Dansby Swanson(prospect), 2B Aaron Hill, RHP Aaron Blair(Prospect), OF Isan Diaz(prospect).

Gains:  Grienke, Miller, Clippard, Segura.

Retained FA's: None.

Final Grade:  C.  Getting Greinke was a major coup, but even his deal is unlikely to age well.  Inciarte alone would have been too much to give up for Miller and Swanson will make the D'Backs regret that trade much sooner than later.


The Padres were the D'Backs of last year as their new GM, AJ Preller traded away the farm in an effort to jumpstart the Padres fortunes.  It did not work out and they were faced with an offseason in which their only acquisition to play up to his cost, was now a FA.  They Padres lost OF Justin Upton and gained virtually nobody.  AJ was still busy trading, though.  In summary:

Losses:  Upton, RHP Ian Kennedy, RHP Joaquin Benoit, RHP Craig Kimbrel, 1B Yonder Alonso, 2B Jedd Gyorko, RHP Odrisamer Despaigne, OF Rymer Liriano(Prospect).

Gains:  SS Alexei Ramirez, RHP Fernando Rodney, LHP Drew Pomeranz, OF John Jay.

Final Grade:  D+.  Some of those losses are addition by subtraction and Upton and Kimbrel were always rentals.  They actually got a nice package of prospects back for Kimbrel.  Still it's hard to see how this offseason helps much now or in the long run.  The Padres will pay for the grandiosity of last offseason for a long time.


The Rockies have never figured out how to build and maintain a pitching staff that can survive Coors Field and they seem as lost as ever.  Their main additions this winter are in the bullpen, so maybe that is the key?  Seems unlikely.  In Summary:

Losses:  OF Corey Dickerson, LHP Rex Brothers, RHP Tommy Kahnle, 1B Justin Morneau, RHP Kyle Kendrick, RHP John Axford, C/1B/DH Wilin Rosario.

Gains:  LHP Jake McGee, OF Gerardo Parra, 1B Mark Reynolds, RHP Jason Motte, RHP Chad Qualls.

Final Grade:  D.  I liked the trade for McGee, but not much else makes sense here.  The Rockies are the same old team they have always been.  Mashers on offense, mediocre on D and terrible pitching.


I've already broken down the Giants offseason and given them a letter grade of A-.  Here's the summary:

Losses:  RHP Tim Hudson, RHP Tim Lincecum, RHP Ryan Vogelsong, OF Marlon Byrd, OF Nori Aoki, RHP Mike Leake.

Gains:  RHP Johnny Cueto, RHP Jeff Samardzija, OF Denard Span.

Byrd and Leake were rentals.  Hudson and Lincecum were non-factors by the end of the season.  Vogey is getting very long in the tooth.  As we have said, there are risks to the acquisitions, but a high probability that all 3 will be big upgrades.

So, the Giants are hands down winners of the offseason in the NL West.  The only question is whether their gains coupled with the Dodgers losses are enough propel the Giants past the Dodgers to the NL West title.


  1. Nice review. I read an article on Friedman in the LA times yesterday where he basically blamed the ball bouncing for the Dodgers ouster. One hit that was soft that fell for the Mets and one hit that was hard that got caught for the Bums. He didn't throw out any mention of Seager not covering 3B when Daniel Murphy got to motoring...

    The big story for the Dodgers might be how Seager adjusts to being adjusted to. Playing SS is no joke, neither is hitting leadoff. They are doing both with him. I don't think he's going to be a superstar, and expectations are really off the roof for him at this point.

    The D-backs are going for it all over the next 2-3 years and paid a large price to get there. They have a nice core group, I think they'll hopefully be a thorn in the Dodgers as well. A big component of the Giants putting together a successful campaign will be how well they whoop up on the Rockies and Padres comped to what the Dodgers do.

  2. Another factor that could make a difference: Dodgers will have an inexperienced first year manager at the helm. Sure, managers may not have a great impact on the outcome of games, but if the race hinges on a game or two, who knows? Just as crucial to the Doggers might be how Roberts controls the clubhouse, specifically Puig.

  3. Everyone has question marks.
    Dodgers: what Puig will show up, how good is Seager, can Turner repeat himself, and how many of the SP questions after Kershaw have answers?
    D'backs: if Grienke and Miller combine to win 50 games and they don't have to get to suspect backups they will hang around and irritate us.
    Giants: maybe there are backups but the "25" have to stay reasonably healthy not to fall short like last year
    Padres and Rockies: not to incur the Bill Terry jinx, but, are they still in the league?

  4. I still don't get the Miller trade. Yes, Miller is a good pitcher. Yes, he upgraded the staff. Yes, he's a nice #3 and he can serve as a #2 and I would be perfectly happy to have him on the roster where I think he'd be a solid member of the rotation.

    But the Diamondbacks had one of the best defenses in MLB with Inciarte who plays all three positions in the OF extremely well and has, in his two years in the majors, clocked in with 52 defensive runs saved. That's the third best DRS total in MLB over the 2014-2015 time period.

    To give that some understanding, the best Giant over the same period is Crawford with 28. And we haven't had an outfielder come close and our highest OFer, Blanco, clocked in with 5 over the past two years with Pagan being the absolute worst at -25 DRS. In short, he's a wizard in field and something that we haven't seen in quite a number of years.

    AND he hit .292 with an OBP of .329. AND he stole 21 bases. AND he's just 25 and has a lot of room to grow though it's unlikely he'll even have Duffy power.

    Anyway, I agree with the people who say the Diamondbacks got robbed and it was a bad trade. They got rid of their best fielder and a good contact hitter with 20+ SB potential (proven) for a guy who the Cardinals thought was expendable and had one blistering half-season before regressing back to his baseline. And, like I said, Miller is not a bad pitcher in my book. But it's just insane, to me at least, to trade away a fielder like that for a mid-rotation pitcher.

    1. Yup. Miller for Inciarte straight up would have been bad deal for the D'Backs. The addition of Swanson and Blair, but especially Swanson, was so negligent on the D'Backs side….well, now you know why MLB should not allow unlimited trading of draft picks. I mean, Swanson has a chance to be a franchise player within 2 years!

  5. Good run down. I don't agree about the McGee trade though. 4 years of an OF who's a perfect for the park for 2 years of a reliever who's really a dart throw. Rockies should let coors be coors and sign Chris Davis. Reach for the stars; settle for the dingers.

    1. The Rockies can add all the Chris Davis's in the world and they won't win until they figure out how to pitch in Coors Field. The current thinking in the sabermetric community seems to be coming around to what I've been saying for years. Sinkers don't sink and sliders don't slide at a mile elevation. What you need to pitch successfully in Coors Field is FB velocity and command. McGee gives them both. Rockies have wasted way too many draft picks and FA signings on finesse lefties and that stuff don't work in Coors.

  6. Good review. Read an article about Preller in the San Diego Tribune that the Padres have a PR problem with their fans since Preller traded away the farm to win now his 1st year and seems to be moving in a different direction this year.The saving grace this off season for the Padres might be that they have 6 out of the 1st 85 picks in the upcoming draft.