NL West Report: Dodgers and Rox aim for October, the rest looking to 2010

I don't envy Arizona's position.

Brandon Webb has been the best home-grown starting pitcher in franchise history, and it's not even close.   He won the Cy Young Award in 2006 and came in second place the following two years.  Yet after having shoulder surgery which indeed involved the labrum, a complete recovery for the 30-year-old is not guaranteed.

According to Will Carroll at Baseball Prospectus, the surgery was "both good and bad."  Most of it involved just cleaning up the shoulder, but arthroscopic procedure did reveal damage to Webb's labrum.  It was not torn, rather "frayed," hence the good-and-bad description.  Such damage does not tend to preclude pitchers from a full recovery, but here's the problem:

The Diamondbacks have to decide just days after the conclusion of the World Series, well before anyone could possibly know how well Webb will recover.  Chances are quite good that he'll recover eventually to be at the least an ace-type pitcher again, but there are no guarantees his recovery would lead to that status for next season.  

Webb could resolve matters a bit, but he is not interested in restructuring his contract.

Buster Olney doesn't blame him.

After presumably losing Jon Garland and Doug Davis from their Opening Day rotation, losing Webb would significantly hurt their rotation, one big reason why Dan Haren really wants Arizona to pick up his option.

So it appears Arizona is left with three options.  

  • Decline the option and pay the $2.0million buyout, cutting their ace loose.  This presumes $8.5million is too much of a risk for a pitcher coming off a late-season surgery involving a labrum, albeit just a fraying.
  • Decline the option, pay the $2.0million buyout and hope to resign him to a more economical deal.  This seems unlikely, given Webb is already disgruntled with Arizona for pulling a $54million extension off the table last season.  The contract would not be long-term given Webb's desire to return to dominance before getting into a long-term deal.
  • Stomach the near-eight-figure option and hope he returns to normal.  
I'm generally very averse to taking risks with money and injuries.  Plus, any damage to the labrum scares me.  However, the the $8.5 million risk Arizona would sign up for is actually less than what they will stomach just to get rid of Eric Byrnes.  Declining the option would probably mean the end of Webb's career in Arizona, and that's a rather unfortunate way to lose a franchise pitcher.  In addition, if he pitches as he did from 2006-08 for even for just one-third of the season, they would see the return on the investment in 2010.  He exceeded $26.0million in Fangraphs value in all three seasons.  If I'm Arizona, I take that risk.


NL West team capsules under the fold.

NL West Report


Arizona (68-88, 5th, W2, 25 GB)

Last Week: 3-3. 1-2 vs Giants. 2-1 vs Padres.  Friday's loss found them 5.5 games below the Padres, but consecutive wins at Chase this weekend gives them an outside shot of climbing out of the cellar.  They'll have to do it on the road, as Chase Field is closed for MLB ball until next April.

Pace: 71-91 (+1)

Divisional Change: No change.

This Week: 3 game road series @ Giants, 3 game road series @ Cubs.  The only thing left to be decided for Arizona in their final week will be their draft slot next season.  They can finish with no worse than the 4th worst record in MLB, "best" case scenario falling to 10th.

News:  Chad Tracy has a $7M option in 2010, so Arizona is likely to drop him after the season.  They started him in their home finale yesterday as a symbolic gesture, and the red-headed veteran came through with a home run in his final AB, just his eighth of the season.

Chad Tracy

#18 / First Base / Arizona Diamondbacks

6-2

215

L

R

May 22, 1980

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2009 - Chad Tracy 94 249 27 59 14 0 8 39 24 36 1 0 .237 .302 .390

60% of Arizona's Opening Day rotation could be gone by Opening Day next season, but Nick Piecoro also points out a veteran bullpen arm will be on the offseason shopping list.

Mike Axisa at MLBTradeRumors.com points out Arizona did not get the return they were hoping for from their bullpen investments:

Arizona's pen was supposed to be anchored by Chad Qualls, Scott Schoeneweis, Tony Pena and Jon Rauch, but Rauch and Pena were traded, Qualls battled injury, and Schoeneweis dealt with the unfortunate passing of his wife. The foursome combined for a 4.46 ERA in 163.1 IP for the D-Backs this season.

In what will likely bring a smug grin to the faces of some Rockies fans, the D-Backs could cut ties with Eric Byrnes this offseason, eating the $10MM+ he is due for the final year of the contract he signed after the 2007 season.

Tim Dierkes at MLBTradeRumors outlines Arizona's contractual obligations for 2010.

Mark Reynolds set the MLB strikeout record for the second consecutive year on Tuesday.

Transactions: None.

Injuries:  Conor Jackson is playing every day in an instructional league, but he will not return to the Diamondbacks' lineup this year.

Arizona Diamondbacks Injuries

15-Day

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Chris Snyder lower-back 08/23/2009

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Chad Qualls knee 08/31/2009
Conor Jackson pneumonia 05/12/2009
Brandon Webb shoulder 04/07/2009

Star-divide

Los Angeles (93-63, 1st, W2)

Last Week: 3-3. 2-1 @ Nationals. 1-2 @ Pirates.  Anyone surprised by their two losses against Pittsburgh should remember the Pirates are nearly a .500 club at PNC Park.

Pace: 97-65. (No change)

Divisional Change: No change.

This Week: Last game of 4-game road series @ Pirates.  2 game road series @ Padres.  3 game home series vs. Rockies.   The Dodgers can clinch the NL West title today, before the Rockies can even take the field Tuesday against Milwaukee.

News:  The biggest bargain free agent pitcher from last season has to be Randy Wolf.  Ned Colletti signed him for a one-year $5MM contract that reached $8MM in incentives, but he has given Los Angeles a value of $14.0MM this season. MLBTradeRumors posted a discussion yesterday about Wolf's value in the free agent market this offseason.

Randy Wolf

#43 / Pitcher / Los Angeles Dodgers

5-10

200

L

L

Aug 22, 1976

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Randy Wolf 11-6 34 33 0 0 0 0 209.1 173 79 75 24 54 158 3.22 1.08

Ned Colletti has been the Dodgers' GM for four seasons and Los Angeles has made the playoffs in three, though he has made some boneheaded free agent acquisitions in that time in retrospect.  MLBTraderumors hosted a discussion on whether Colletti should be retained by Los Angeles and if so, for how much.  I mentioned this topic last week as well, but MLBTR had yet to host a discussion on it.

Talented, cheap talented can't be had cheap for long.  With Andre Ethier, Chad Billingsley, Matt Kemp, Hong-Chih Kuo, Jonathan Broxton, James Loney, George Sherrill and Russell Martin headed to arbitration this offseason, the Dodgers' payroll figures to increase by almost $20 million next year just from raises.

Los Angeles clinched a playoff berth Saturday, though Joe Torre demanded the champagne wait until they eliminated Colorado from NL West contention.  The Dodgers could have done exactly that yesterday in Clayton Kershaw 's his first start since September 4.  However, Jonathan Broxton coughed up four runs to the Pirates in the ninth.

Transactions: None.

Injuries:  None.

Los Angeles Dodgers Injuries

15-Day

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Will Ohman shoulder 05/28/2009

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Xavier Paul ankle 05/21/2009
Jason Schmidt shoulder 08/06/2009
Eric Milton lower-back 06/28/2009

Star-divide

San Diego (72-85, 5th, L2, 21.5 GB)

Last Week: 4-3.  1-0 @ Pirates, 2-1 @ Rockies.  1-2 @ Diamondbacks.  The Padres week started strong with four wins the first five days, but they dropped the last two matches at Chase Field.  They still preserved their winning week, extending their non-losing streak to five weeks.

Pace: 74-88 (+1).

Divisonal change: Gained 1.0 game on LAD.

This Week: 2 game home series vs. Dodgers.  3 game home series vs. Giants.  Bud Black has done an impressive job with this roster, as they are practically a lock now to avoid 90 losses.

News: The Cubs are done with Milton Bradley after suspending him for the rest of the year.  He still has over $20million left on his contract through the 2011 season, so he will be most likely moved in a trade.  After wearing out his welcome playing for his 7th team in nine years, you have to wonder who would take a flyer on this guy.  Jerry Crasnick reports that Kevin Towers admits to being interested in Bradley.

Milton Bradley

#21 / Right Field / Chicago Cubs

6-0

225

B

R

Apr 15, 1978

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2009 - Milton Bradley 124 393 61 101 17 1 12 40 66 95 2 3 .257 .378 .397
We all remember his epic injury he sustained while with San Diego in 2007, but he actually was well regarded by the organization:
"We took a chance on him the first time we had him, and he actually played pretty well...our experience with him was a positive one.  Not a negative one." -Towers, via Jerry Crasnick

Buster Olney and Jon Heyman individually suggested the reunion earlier this week as well.

Adrian Gonzalez hit his 40th home run yesterday, a dizzying accomplishment in present day considering half his games are played at PetCo.

Buster Olney and several Baseball Prospectus writers converged to discuss the Padres' season and their future.  It's insider access only, so it's convenient that MLBTradeRumors pulled out these highlights.

Transactions: None.

Injuries:  Prior to the game Saturday, Kevin Kouzmanoff took batting and fielding practice.  The third baseman is hoping to return to the lineup for some last cuts tomorrow against the Dodgers.  Edgar Gonzalez dislocated his shoulder on Clint Barmes' inside-the-park home run last week but has not been put on the disabled list.  He is listed as day-to-day and will try to return by the end of the week.

San Diego Padres Injuries

15-Day

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Brian Giles knee 06/19/2009
Kyle Blanks foot 08/29/2009

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Mark Worrell elbow 03/27/2009
Cha Seung Baek forearm 03/30/2009
Shawn Hill elbow 04/26/2009
Chris Young shoulder 06/15/2009
Cliff Floyd shoulder 06/18/2009

Star-divide

San Francisco (83-73, 3rd, W1, 10.0 GB in Div, 5.0 GB in WC)

Last Week: 3-4.  2-1 @ Diamondbacks. 1-3 vs Cubs.  The Giants are all but out of the playoff race after choking away a home series against the Cubs.  With six games left, they trail by five, meaning the Rockies' magic number to eliminating San Francisco is just three.

Pace:  86-76 (-1).

Divisional Change:  Lost 0.5 games in NL West (LAD), Lost 0.5 games in WC (COL).

This Week: 3 game home series vs Diamondbacks, 3 game road series @ Padres.  It easily could have been the Giants' soft schedule in the final week that would make Rockies' fans sweat.  Thank you Bruce Bochy for mismanagement.

News:  After effectively eliminating themselves from playoff contention from losing three to the Cubs, the organization has unofficially begun looking towards next year.

Regardless of their moves next year, they have almost clinched having a better trade deadline in 2010 as in 2009.  Ryan Garko has only started six games in September, only slightly better than the 11 Freddy Sanchez started down the stretch.  Now Sanchez will have season-ending knee surgery.  So you can't see injuries coming?  According to Andrew Baggarly, Sanchez knew he would need knee surgery after the season while still with Pittsburgh.  The last link includes an extensive Q&A with Sanchez.

Freddy Sanchez

#21 / Second Base / San Francisco Giants

5-10

190

R

R

Dec 21, 1977 

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2009 - Freddy Sanchez 25 102 11 29 1 0 1 7 2 16 0 0 .284 .295 .324

The Giants definitely want to bring Sanchez back.  Their reported method of doing so involves turning down his $8.1million option in hopes of resigning him to a two year deal.

An interesting wild card in the Sanchez dealings is Juan Uribe.  Henry Schulman at the San Francisco Chronicle says that keeping Uribe has become obvious.  As Zach Links writes for MLBTR, Sanchez posted far inferior UZR numbers to Uribe this season, while Sanchez posted OPS numbers greater than Uribe has in his ABs this year only once in his career.   Uribe gave the Giants $12.8 million in value this season, more than any Rockie hitter not named Todd or Troy, and a far cry from his $0.9mil in production for the White Sox last year.

Closer Brian Wilson has had another solid season, putting the closer in line for a nice raise.

Tim Lincecum is open to long-term deal.  Well that's all but obvious.  He enjoys San Francisco, where he is the ace of a strong starting staff on a team on the upswing.  The only question is how much money he will be able to get.  As a Super Two, he will be eligible for arbitration this offseason for the first time, increasing the chances the Giants intercept that path to offer a long-term deal.

Transactions:   None.  

Injuries: Bengie Molina has missed the last three games with a sore left hand.  Edgar Renteria had season ending surgery Saturday to remove bone chips in his right elbow.  Freddy Sanchez may be done for the year with a torn meniscus.

San Francisco Giants Injuries

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Justin Miller elbow 09/13/2009
Noah Lowry ribs 03/27/2009
Kelvin Pichardo shoulder 06/28/2009
Emmanuel Burriss foot 09/01/2009
Henry Sosa shoulder 08/05/2009
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