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Sunday Rockpile: NL West updates and not much else, but discuss World Series Game #4 here

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Jon Heyman had a couple of interesting NL West notes in his column the other day. First, the news that Manny Ramirez will exercise his player option and return to Los Angeles isn't surprising, and while it does tie a significant portion of the Dodgers payroll to him, I think he's proven that he really is the type of star player that can draw a lot of that expenditure back with a contribution at the ticket gate and concession/souvenir stands that wouldn't come if he wasn't on the team. Where it could possibly help other NL West teams is that it also ties a significant chunk of prime run producing plate appearances and innings in the outfield to an aging player that could see a significant drop in his offensive production in 2010. How much Ramirez is going to drop off going forward is difficult to say, but as opposition fans, we can hope that the slower bat and .255/.379/.459 line he put up in the second half of 2009 is a sign of things to come.

The next note about the Diamondbacks exercising Brandon Webb's extension could be more significant, as it adds not only the $8.5 million that Webb will make to Arizona's 2010 payroll commitment, but also whatever money they are going to have to pay another starter as an insurance policy in case Webb's shoulder isn't up to the task. At least, that sort of hedge is how it should ideally work, but with two other rotation spots up in the air already, and apparently not enough money to spend to fill both of them, it looks like there won't be any hedge over the Kevin Mulvey/Billy Buckner/Bryan Augenstein group that combined for an ERA over 7.00 in 117 innings in 2009. According to Arizona's MLB.com beat writer, Steve Gilbert, one of these pitchers will likely be called on to fill one of those two open rotation slots as is. 

This is where the starting pitching depth that Dan O'Dowd has built into the Rockies system has really created some separation between the two clubs that will hopefully extend for a few seasons. Is Dan Haren still worth the number of players the Diamondbacks gave up for him? Keep in mind that the Rockies had a similar opportunity to trade for him but balked when the bidding got so high, leaving the path clear for the Diamondbacks.

The San Francisco Giants now have their second baseman for the next two seasons in Freddy Sanchez at $6 million per year. Sanchez gives them a more consistent bat than they've had since Ray Durham left, but this upgrade also leaves them with a player that hasn't even been as valuable as Clint Barmes over the last two seasons combined. Of course, I'm cherry picking my start point there, Sanchez moves well ahead of Barmes once you include 2007 and earlier. What we're of course interested in is which player will be better going forward, and it's probably a more difficult call than a lot of Rockies fans would suspect. As frustrating as Barmes' ten pop-ups and then a home run game is to watch at the plate, his defense has made up a considerable amount of value. Sanchez' defense is acceptable at second, but does dip into negative values in some years, and he's not getting any more nimble with age.

I don't know. Sanchez had a relatively high profile as the best player on a bad team, but take him out of that small pond and he looks remarkably pedestrian when compared to other second basemen around the league