Dodgers Starters Fourth in N.L. West

The Hardball Times 2008 Baseball Annual is in the bookstores and is chuck full of great information -- again. Along with remarkable essays, commentary, history, analysis and statistics (for every major league team), you get the 2007 season completely covered in delightful ways you haven't ever thought of.

One of the neat features, tying in with yesterday's Jon Weisman's essay on N.L. starting pitching, on ESPN.com, we again look at the pitching department, using Hardball Times Pitching Runs Created this time.

Pitching Runs Created, developed by David Gassko, measures the impact of a pitcher by putting his production on the same scale as batter's Runs Created.

If you don't really care just how the numbers are arrived upon, just skip this paragraph. But if you are interested, the formula takes into account he number of runs allowed by a pitcher into a league average contest, estimating how many wins that pitcher/team would achieve. That total is converted into the number of offensive runs it would take to achieve the same number of runs. Fielding impact is separated in the process.

Examining the five N.L. West teams, it is apparent that Arizona recorded more PRCs than any of the other clubs. The five starters with the most points are listed, with the Diamondbacks on top and San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Colorado following in that order.

And Arizona got much stronger with the addition of Dan Haren who had 115 Pitcher Win Shares at Oakland. Colorado lost Josh Fogg.

It would appear that starting pitching was the item most needed by the Dodgers in the off-season, however there were no free agent starters available and any trade for a starter (Johan Santana 122 PRC or Erik Bedard 114 PRC) would involve multiple young players in return, something the club was rightfully not interested in doing.

GM Ned Colletti did manage to land Hiroki Kuroda from Japan and his acquisition will certainly strengthen a staff that lost Mark Hendrickson and Randy Wolf to free agency (with San Diego taking a chance on Wolf's newly repaired arm). Other Dodger starters included: Brett Tomko (29), David Wells (12), Eric Stults (11), Jason Schmidt (6) and Esteban Loaiza (4).

So are the Dodgers thinking of perhaps he addition of Scott Elbert, Justin Orenduff, James McDonald or even Clayton Kershaw if Loaiza performs as poorly (8.34 ERA) as he did in a brief trial September? All four of the above named minor league pitchers have great upsides, with Elbert coming off arm ailments, Orenduff completing his first full season since arm problems and both McDonald and Kershaw very talented but also very inexperienced.

When you look at the numbers listed below, you can see that manager Grady Little's troubles were really more centered on starting pitching than the perceived lack of power in the lineup. Andruw Jones and a healthy Rafael Furcal should solve the latter.

It is probably not the right season to go skipping around from Vero Beach to Japan to Phoenix with so much important work to be done sorting out who could help and who are close to being ready for prime time. However, that can't be helped; the schedule is set and Joe Torre, Rick Honeycutt and the staff will have to make judgments on the fly (no pun intended).

So here are the 2007 Pitching Runs Created totals for the N.L. West teams. As you can see, the Dodgers may well be regretting their failure to re-sign San Diego's Greg Maddux (73 PRC).
Arizona	       SDiego	  SFrancisco   LAngeles	      Colorado
129—Webb     143-Peavy	 97-Cain     108-Penny       100-Francis
99-Davis     88-Young	 73-Zito      79-Billingsley  60-Cook
68-Hernandez 73-Maddux	 66-Lincecum  79-Lowe	      58-Fogg
60-Owings    43-Germano  61-Lowry     40-Hendrickson  44-Hirsch
35-Gonzalez  11-Tomko	 53-Correia   40-Wolf	      33-Jiminez
Total 391    Total 358	 Total 350     Total 346       Total 295

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