Tuesday, September 28, 2010
This is a team that has won the last two division titles, and improved 18 games last season. That now gives the franchise 6 post season appearances, all of which came from division titles. Hard to imagine since they are now on their seventh owner. They also have a World Series title, winning it back in the leagues inaugural season. New ownership has stepped in and looks to continue the teams divisional success. Last season they finished 3rd in hitting(283), 3rd in obp(348), 7th in hr(214), and 3rd in runs(906). They finished 2nd in fielding(988), 3rd in plus plays(68), and 1st in minus plays(19). They finished 4th in ERA(4.41), and 2nd in opponents average(253). Overall they were a very good team in all of the main categories. So one is left to wonder why they had so much turnover in player personnel. They let C Clay Henderson, and defensive catcher Curt Dresden walk in free agency. They released 3B Lawrence Howington, and RF Greg Cash. They traded away 1B Trent Lange. They did resign 1B Vicente Lopez. They received 2B Felipe Tapies, LF Troy Jefferson, C Benny Linton, C Tom Gonzales, and 2B Carson Crabtree, in trades. The guys returning offensively are RF Reggie Creek, SS Pedro Cordero, 1B T.J. Harding, CF Alfredo Price, and 3B Bret Schneider. So while they made some moves, they did keep the core from last season together offensively and should still be a good offensive team. They also should still have a good defensive team as well. The redone pitching staff is what leaves many questions to be answered. They traded away RP Carlton Harding, SP Jose Bravo, SP Benito Terrero, and RP Bernard Hoffman, all very good pitchers. They let SP Joshua Meyer, SP Darron Herndon, and RP John Chen, walk in free agency. It would seem that they are replacing an entire pitching staff with these moves. The traded for SP Bud Donnels, RP Jack Rooney, RP Chico Guerrero, RP Felipe Lee, and SP Ronnie Washington. They are returning SP Desi Fernandez, who is a pretty good pitcher. Management has said that they are trying to rebuild the farm system, while still trying to compete this season. They also said they want to reduce salary and get younger, which would explain all the moves this team has made. They should still be a good team this season, but reaching the win total from last season is going to be highly unlikely. One thing is for certain, this owner is building this team for more long term success and does have a plan. Whether that plan helps them win this season remains to be seen.
After a 5 season run at the top of this division, things haven't gone their way in the last 3 seasons. They did manage to finish 82-80 last season, which was good for second place though. Even when this team was at the top of the division they still weren't able to get to the ALCS, so it was a limited success. They are on the 7th owner for this franchise and for the fifth consecutive season they have had new leadership at the helm. That isn't a very good recipe for success. Fans in Cheyenne are hoping that they have a team that will stick around a while and bring them something to cheer about. Last season they finished 8th in hitting(274), 6th in obp(342), 14th in hr(188), and 7th in runs scored(869). Very respectable numbers, but lacking in power. They were 12th in fielding(981), 15th in plus plays(22), and 14th in minus plays(51). They were 14th in ERA(5.39), and 13th in opponents average(285). Pitching and defense really hurt this team. That was two areas this team needed to improve in order to be a contender in the division. Gone are the likes of 1B Stewart Bryant, and C Tyler Torres through free agency. But, that is about all they lost. They signed C Roy Ashby who should be a good boost for the offense. They promoted 2B Felix Lloyd, and SS Juan Santiago. Returning are 3B Jay Knotts, 1B Jim Byrne, 2B Jesus Rogue, DH Hack Rucker, LF Bill Maurer, and SS Donne Wells. The offense looks upgraded but defense is still a question mark with this team. The pitching rotation isn't a strong point on the team. The are led by Kevin Xaio who the team resigned in free agency. They also signed SP Albert Farnsworth to help the rotation, but he has been largely ineffective in his career. They signed SP Patsy Cummings who has had his moments in his career but is not a fix for the staff. Ron Sweeney is still there and he is a good starter. The bullpen is a little better than the starters with Eli Mercado, Chili Mussina, and Chick Linden. Overall the team is still not a top team in the league, but they should manage to get close to another 500 season. They didn't really fix what was wrong with the team but they did upgrade the offense. Unfortunately this team doesn't have much on the way from the minors. As ownership put it, this farm system is in disarray.
This team has only been in the post season two times in there history. Going into the 4th season with bartkowski running the team they have the talent in place to make a run in the division. At 75-87 last season the team showed little improvement over the previous season. Last season they finished 8th in hitting(274), 9th in obp(341), 8th in hr(212), 10th in runs(846), and led the league in steals(215). The offense wasn't great but they were pretty solid. They sacrificed defense for offense though. They finished last in fielding(978), they were 8th in plus plays(52), and 12th in minus plays(49). They were 12th in team ERA(5.17), 14th in opponents average(289), but did convert 41 of 45 save opportunities. While they bullpen didn't blow many saves the overall pitching was poor. Offensively the only losses they had in free agency was 1B Tony Cummings who was a run producer for this team and 2B Jamie Kojima. They promoted 1B Neifi Mathews, and CF Albert Quintanilla, both of whom should help the team. Returning are 3B Freddy Cuddyer, LF Andre Fleming, SS Rex Billingsley, C Tony Olmeda, RF Hal Burns, and 2B Francisco James. That is a pretty good group of players that they have. The offense should be good this season, and the defense shouldn't hurt them although they are still not a defensive juggernaut by any means. The rotation is led by the under performing Vinny Evans who has the ability but just hasn't put it together for some reason. Free agent pickup Charles Aven is the #2 guy in the rotation. SP Shane Thurman, SP Daniel Cannon and long reliever Ruben Bolivar round out the rotation but they don't add much to this team. The rotation is looking really rough right now. They promoted RP Javy Mendoza in the offseason to help the bullpen. Omar Siqueiros can start but they have him in the bullpen where he will really help. Closer Flip Buck is one of the best in the league at finishing games. RP Rondell Kirwan is a pretty good setup man as well. The bullpen is really where this teams strength is. I like this team except for the rotation and a team can only go as far as their rotation will take them. They didn't do much in the offseason to help the rotation and that could be the downfall of this team.
Las Vegas ramblin & Gamblin
This franchise has never won the division and have only tasted the post season one time. At 60-102 last season they decreased the win total for a second straight season. 5 owners in 5 seasons can do that to a team though. Last season they finished 12th in hitting(272), 13th in obp(333), last in hr(168), and 15th in runs(741). They were a very bad offensive group and had a lot to do to improve. They were 7th in fielding(983), 11th in plus plays(44), and 6th in minus plays(33). All those numbers were above the league average and they were a very solid fielding team. That however did not help the pitching staff above league averages. The team ranked 13th in ERA(5.24), and 10th in opponents average(281), they only saved 33 games and blew 18 saves. The pitching was just about as bad as the offense which is why this team has the first pick in this seasons draft. Offensively this team lost 3B Charley Shelley, and LF Neifi Romero. They signed a defensive catcher Juan Ramirez, and 1B Bryce Hatcher. They didn't do much to upgrade the offense and actually appear to be worse. 2B Edgardo Castro, LF Austin Coleman, and C Cleatus Simon are the only real threats offensively. Defensively this team is still fairly good though. The rotation is led by Rafael Pichardo, and that's about all they have in the rotation. RP Herm Redman, RP Phillip Savage, and closer Anthony James are decent pitchers out of the pen. RP Patrick Wilson(22), is young and should be a good reliever for them, but has control problems. This team does have some young players in the minors that should be able to help them down the road, but this is going to be a very long season in Vegas.
This division is wide open for the taking. All of the teams have weaknesses and none really stand out. The top 3 are tough to pick, but the bottom team stands out as the team that really is going to need to continue building. I don't see a wild card team coming from this division, so it's win the division to get in the post season or your out.
4.) Las Vegas
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Nashville Nala Bears
This team went 90-72 last season which gave them the most wins in franchise history. It also marked the fifth straight season that this team improved its win totals over the previous season. It was the first post season appearance and first division title as well. So is this franchise heading into a period of long term dominance? They show improvement every season and they are doing it with a very low payroll. This owner seems to be doing something right. They have a very young and talented group. Last season they finished 4th in the AL in average(280), 4th in obp(347), 6th in hr(220), and 2nd in runs scored(907). Very good finishes offensively. They were 10th in fielding(982), 4th in plus plays(66), 5th in minus plays(25). Not bad defensive numbers overall. They were 5th in ERA(4.66), 6th in opponents average(271), and converted 52 of 68 save opportunities. This team has a great hitting C Wilfredo Aquino returning. They have one of the better shortstops in the league Tino House. 3B Pedro Gomez(23) is a good up and coming player for this team. CF Ismael Morales(23) is a good fielder and should help them out as well. DH/1B Heinie Rice(23) is going to be one of the top hitters in the league with some good power. LF Ben Morton has plenty of power. DH/1B Tommy Parker has good power as well and hit the ball at a higher than expected rate last season. This is a young group of hitters that should be at the top of the league again this season. They didn't add anyone to the group, but they didn't need to. These guys also bring some good abilities in the field as well. The rotation features Andres Park, Max Mateo, and youngsters Alex Martis(22), Darren Siebert(23), and Jeremi Rice(25). RP Antonio Wang should be a very good closer for this club. The bullpen is average for the most part, but with these starters they don't have to have the best bullpen in the league. This is a very young and very talented team. I will be shocked if they don't increase their win total again this season and cross the 100 win barrier. Things are just getting started for this franchise that could see plenty of World Series of the next 10 seasons. It will be tough for any team in this division to knock them off this season.
Tampa Bay Thunder
This is a franchise that had just their second non winning season in their history last season. They matched the lowest win total in their history by finishing at 81-81. They have never had a losing season. A run of 7 consecutive division titles came to an end last season as they finished tied for second. Last season they finished 2nd in hitting(285), 2nd in obp(358), 5th in hr(225), 1st in runs scored(944), and 4th in sb(170). This was not the offense of a 500 team. They had the offense of a team that should have made the playoffs. They were 10th in fielding(982), 9th in plus plays(51), 10th in minus plays(48). They were 7th in ERA(4.68), 7th in opponents average(273), but only converted 44 of 67 save opportunities. Looking at this teams numbers, it's hard to figure out why they only won half of their games. In the offseason they added Rule 5 pick, C Tomas Ortiz, and promoted CF Hank Jacquez, to help the offense. They add those guys to an already potent offense that features OF Sammy Buchanan, U Justin Walters, 2B Kevin Messmer, OF Hank Nelson, LF/1B Will McCarthy, C Einar Gil, and SS Efrain Matsumoto. They have a good mix of offense and fielding among the group. The only losses for the pitching staff was RP Chuck Carson, and RP Felipe Lee. They traded for SP Benito Terrero, and RP Dean Harvey, both of them should help the pitching staff. The rotation has Terrero, Clay Park, and Ivan Silva, all of which are solid starters. Closer Harry Paz should be solid finishing out games for the team. Last seasons closer Erubiel Bennett should excel in the setup role. Overall it is a pretty solid pitching staff. I don't see how this team will finish below or at 500 again as this is a pretty solid team. I don't think they can win the division, but they should challenge for a wild card spot.
New Orleans Nighthawks
This has been a fairly successful franchise over the seasons. They only having 2 losing seasons in their history. They have never made the World Series, but they have been to the playoffs 6 times. They also have 4 division titles but they haven't done that since season 4. Last season they improved their win total over the previous season by going 81-81 and finishing tied for second. Last season they finished 7th in hitting(278), 5th in obp(346), 13th in hr(201), 8th in runs(855) and 2nd in steals(187). The offense needed some improvement in the power and run scoring departments. They were 4th in fielding(985), 5th in plus plays(58), and 15th in minus plays(55). The defense was good but made too many minus plays. They were 11th in ERA(4.99), 9th in opponents average(280), and converted 44 of 55 save opportunities. The pitching wasn't very good, but they did close out games. On offense they let 2B Einar Tatis walk in free agency and traded away IF Felipe Tapies. They signed 3B Charley Shelley to make up for the losses. The offense returns SS Justin Johnston, 1B John Wolf, and C Al Bravo. It's not a very good offensive makeup overall, but the defensive looks pretty solid. They signed SP Charles Taylor, RP Phil Gardner, RP Walt Stark, and the aging Carlos Perez in free agency. All of those guys should help the pitching staff. They lost RP Rico Lee, and last seasons closer Luis Seguignol. They also traded away SP Bud Donnels. The rotation features Hunter Healy, Geraldo Domingo, Barry Gibson, Taylor, and Joe Keisler. It's not a rotation that will scare opponents but solid. RP Bob Stewart is a good setup man. Vitas Perez will be the teams closer and he should be good for them. The pitching staff is solid but not great. This team won 81 games last season, but I don't feel like they can repeat that win total. They are probably going to struggle this season as I don't think they addressed their weaknesses and the strengths of the team weren't really built upon.
This is a team that has never won the division. As a matter of fact, they only have finished 2nd three times. They have one post season appearance in their history. At 63-99, they improved the win total for a second straight season. This team finished 15th last season in hitting(258), last in obp(321), 9th in hr(210), 14th in runs scored(748), and 3rd in steals(181). They weren't very good offensively. They finished 14th in fielding(979), last in plus plays(11), and last in minus plays(75). The defense was as bad, if not worse, than the offense. They were 15th in ERA(5.54), tied for last in opponents average(292), and they were last in saves(30). The pitching was just bad. It's really a surprise that they didn't finish with the worst record in the league. Owner, sheepdog07, heading into his second season leading this team had a lot of work to do to get this team heading in the right direction. Offensively they signed C Dude McIntosh, and RF Daryle Moran. They let they main offensive weapon from last season, 1B Alan Krause, leave in free agency. They also let SS Rafael Cervantes walk. 2B Miguel Flores is the only offensive player that really stands out to me with this team. 1B Bing Maduro and 2B Sean Matthews have power but probably won't hit for a high average. I see this team as finishing at the bottom of the league offensively again this season. The defense looks pretty poor as well. SP Ruben Cruz, and SP Cory Edwards, head the rotation and can get guys out, but will walk too many guys to be truly top end starters. I like the long relievers they have Christopher Cora and Sandy Cambridge. They should be able to relieve some of the pressure on the bullpen. Closer Gabe Gorecki is decent and probably the best short reliever they have. The pitching staff is pretty weak overall. While the win total was low last season, I don't really see it getting much better if at all. For this team it's not about this season, it's about building the team toward a brighter future. The only way they can do that will unfortunately be with taking their lumps over the next couple seasons and trading what they do have for some young future talent and making some good draft picks as they are set up to do that.
This is another division that is very top heavy. Nashville seems to be set up to win for quite a while and will probably dominate this division over the next few seasons. Tampa Bay is a good team and should really challenge for a wild card spot in the league. New Orleans and Austin have some work to do in order to make those franchises respectable in the seasons ahead and probably both will be at the bottom of the league.
2.) Tampa Bay
3.) New Orleans
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Toledo Addicts Return
Like I mentioned, this team finally won their division and had the first winning record in franchise history. This team went 84-78 last season which gave fans in Toledo a reason to be happy that they returned. This is an owner that has not been afraid to make trades and they are always trying to make this team better for the season at hand. Last season they finished 11th in hitting(273), 11th in obp(337), 12th in hr(202), and 12th in runs(827). They were 13th in fielding(980), 14th in plus plays(23), 7th in minus plays(41). They were 5th in ERA(4.66), 8th in opponent average(277) and 3rd in saves converting 51 of 71 opportunities. The teams offense did not stack up nor did the fielding, but the pitching was pretty good. The offense has C Teddy Johnson, 1B Jose Martin, LF Alberto Machado, and CF Darrin Newfield, returning from last season. They traded for OF Juan Torres to give them a boost on offense. The offense doesn't appear to be a whole lot better and they didn't really improve the defense either in the off season. The pitching staff returns last seasons top starter Farmer Davis, and SP Orber Torres. Closer Scooter Boskie is a pretty good guy to have closing out games. They also have a good setup man in Danny Koch. They did trade away Osvaldo Tatis, and Pedro Balboa, a couple good pitchers. They also lost SP Anthony Simon, SP Howard Fischer, and RP Louie Mangual, a few pitchers that were key players on the team last season. They traded for SP Brad Porter, and RP Bernard Hoffman, a couple pitchers that should be of help for the staff. I think the pitching staff will still be their strength. I don't think this team stacks up with the top teams in the AL, but they are in a weak division overall and should be able to compete in the division. The team should be a little better but I'm not sure they can even reach the win total they accomplished last season. They could always make trades as they do to make the team better but they are still a ways off from being a top team.
Atlanta Red Tide
In their second season under owner radkison the team improved 8 games over the previous season and 17 over the last two seasons. At 80-82 they had their most victories since season 7. Six seasons without a playoff appearance and this team is ready to get back. They have 2 World Series titles and have been there 3 times, so this franchise has really fallen on hard times recently from what they once were. A brutal schedule down the stretch last season and losing their closer during that time stopped this team from getting back last season. Management thinks Toledo winning the division was a fluke and are ready to take the division this season. Last season they finished 14th in hitting(267), 14th in obp(329), 10th in hr(209), and 13th in runs(764). The were 7th in fielding(983), 2nd in plus plays(77), and 3rd in minus plays(21). They were 8th in ERA(4.72), 5th in opponents average(267) and converted 40 of 52 saves. Defensively this team was good, they were an average pitching team, but offensively they struggled. They have LF Darren Cox, CF Robin Risley, SS Miguel Manzanillo, C Guy Robinson, RF Nate Evert, 1B Peter Mullin, 3B Daryl Bonham, and 2B Reagan Mcgowan, are all returning and are key offensive and defensive players for this team. They signed OF Roberto Flores back to the team after trading him last season. Their starting rotation includes youngsters Orlando Gutierrez(24), and Victor Rijo(22). They traded for SP Bret O'Leary in the off season to bolster the staff and he should be a good addition. On the way from the minors is a very good starter in Jorge Figureoa. They have RP Joel Norris, RP Zeus Parnell, and closer Rudy Jameson coming out of the pen. That's a very formidable bullpen. Overall, this is a fairly good team that should challenge the division champion Toledo team this season, but I don't see them being an upper echelon team just yet. The defense and bullpen are good, but the hitting and starting pitching could still use some help.
Chicago Wind Tunnel
This is a team that is just a couple seasons removed from dominating this division. They won the division 7 out of 8 seasons, but only had one World Series appearance in that time. Last season was just the second losing season in franchise history and lowest win total ever for them. They finished 69-933 and in third place. As management said for this season, "The wind tunnel continues to blow." I'm not sure what that means, but we'll try to find out. They finished in last place in hitting(255), 15th in obp(323), 15th in hr(185), and last in runs scored(697). They were 4th in fielding(985), they were 13th in plus plays(32), and 8th in minus plays(43). They were 10th in ERA(4.94), 10th in opponents average(281) and converted 43 of 54 saves. The offense this season will be led by C Benji Villafuerte, OF Julio Tavarez, 2B Jay Fiore, LF/1B Jackson Davidson, free agent signee 1B Miguel Pichardo, and a guy they traded for 1B Trent Lange. They also signed a speedster with plenty of range to roam centerfield in Apollo Willis. It looks like the offense is still a little bit on the weaker side but the signing of Willis will help defensively. The only real losses are 1B Reggie Bowman, and 3B Jaime Hall. The rotation will be led by Terrell Tunkel and Albert Castillo. This isn't a rotation that will strike fear into their opponents. Rule 5 SP Paxton Weiland should add a little depth to the rotation. The bullpen appears to be this teams strength. They signed RP Junior Brogna, who should be a good setup man for them. They acquired RP Pedro Balboa in a trade. RP Cam Hogan should pick up right where he left off last season. Another player that they traded for that should help is closer Carlton Harding. This is a team that clearly isn't built to win this season. It will probably be another long season in Chicago.
Here is a team that has only seen the post season two times in their history. Last season the went backwards in wins for the second season in a row and missed the playoffs again. At 66-96 they matched their franchise worst record. Offensively this team finished 13th in average(271), 12th in obp(336), 1st in hr(274), and 8th in runs(855). I'm not sure if that is a successful offense, but they did have power and scored runs. This team finished 3rd in fielding(987), 7th in plus plays(54), and 9th in minus plays(45). They had a pretty successful defense. They were last in ERA(5.54), and last in opponents average(292). The pitching staff was very poor last season. Offensively this team has 1B Javier Gabriel, DH Vic Newman, SS Angel Faulk, U Alex Berger, 1B Fernando Pelaez, C Chuck Daniels, and LF Damaso Rivera leading them. Paleaz and Faulk were promoted from the minors this season and should help them out. The pitching rotation is led by SP Gregory Watson, SP Tony Ramirez, and SP Julian Castro. They signed free agents SP Phil Shaw, and SP Julius Sowders to help out the pitching staff. They promoted RP Tom Murphy to help out as well. Closer Miguel Gonzales returns in that role and is a good closer for them. They have a decent pitching staff, but not good enough to move into the top half of the league. They do have some young players in the minors that should help out in the near future. I don't think this team is ready to compete this season but they do have some young players coming up that should help them out in the next few seasons.
This isn't a great division and could see any type of combination of finishes. The difference between the top and bottom isn't that great, but the teams that finished 1 and 2 should still be able to hold those spots. Durham is a team that looks like they could get to the top of the division in the next couple seasons but I don't think that will happen this season.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Syracuse Snow Pirates
After 10 seasons of never winning the division this team has really taken control the last two seasons. Back to back 100 win seasons and division championships is how they busted out of the 10 season slump. Last season they finished 102-60, but failed to reach the ALCS losing to divisional rival Ottawa 3-2 in the divisional round. Offensively last season they finished for in hitting(280), 6th in obp(342), 3rd in hr(243), 11th in runs(844) and 5th in steals(161). They led the league in fielding(989), they were 1st in plus plays(98), and 4th in minus plays(22). They also led the league in ERA(3.61), and 1st in opponents average(242). This team was solid all around but had dynamite pitching and fielding. Offensively this team was lead by 3 time MVP OF Rob Lee. 1B Ernest Buck, 2B/SS Yorvit Ortiz, C Danny Milligan, 3B Rob Mcnamara, and LF Ismael Liriano, just to name a few, led the charge offensively. They released OF Sadie Watson after a disappointing season and that set the offense and defense heading into this season the way they wanted it. The teams deep pitching staff is led by the man that picked up his 4th Cy Young last season, SP Warren Hargrave. He's followed by a man that could also pick up a couple Cy Youngs by the time he's done in SP Cyrus Torres. The also have a man that has picked up a Cy Young in his career in SP Ebenezer Brett. SP Jose Moreno is just another top of the line starter in this rotation as well. They also have a good young closer in Omar Gabriel. I'd be totally overlooking something if I didn't mention that they have a very good long reliever as well in Benji Contreras. So who did I miss? This team is loaded. I could go on and on about the rest of the squad, but these are the guys that stand out most from a most outstanding squad. If the don't win 100+ games this season then I will eat my hat. Pitching, defense and offense is how you win baseball games and this team has it all.
At 94-68 Ottawa finished 2nd in the division last season. That didn't stop them from making it to the World Series for the 2nd time in three seasons. This season they will be shooting for their 10th straight season of post season play. They have been a very successful team that surprisingly has only won the division 3 times. They've been in the ALCS more times than that though, with 4 trips to the series. Last season they finished at the top of the league in batting average(294), and obp(364), they were 11th in homers(208), and finished 5th in runs(892). They finished 7th in fielding(983), 10th in plus plays(48), and 12th in minus plays(49). They had the 2nd best ERA(4.11), 3rd opponents average(254), and led the league with 54 saves. The pitching and hitting were great but the fielding could use a bit of improvement. Take away the outstanding play of CF Eric Presley, and SS Ossie Gibson, and the fielding goes down considerably. They did resign SS Enrique Santos to help out the defense but he provides little offensively. On offense this team is led by LF Wilfredo Leon, LF/DH Wolf Ramsey, 2B Luke Ryan, 2b Peter Chang and 2B Alfredo Colome. They traded away a big bat in 1B Hersh Greisinger. The top of the rotation features 4 time all star Greg Dejean, and 3 time all star Felix Wilson. RP Gabby O'Brien was a very good closer for them last season. The biggest loss for the pitching staff was SP Miguel Sierra who left in free agency. They also released one of their better relievers from last season Omar Sanchez. They still have a solid team but their weaknesses standout a little to me. They should be real close to their win total from last season but I'm guessing it will be a little less.
Milwaukee Cream Citys
Last season was this teams fifth straight winning season and they made it to their first ALCS in club history. They have never won the division and have only finished 2nd once. They also have only made the post season just twice. This has been the least heralded team in this division but that doesn't mean a whole lot since they have been more successful than quite a few teams in the league. Last season they finished 8th in hitting(274), 10th in obp(340), 4th in hr(237), and 4th in runs scored(896). They were 14th in fielding(979), 6th in plus plays(55), and 2nd in minus plays(20). They were 3rd in ERA(4.24), and 4th in opponents average(265). This is a team that had good power and scored some runs. While they weren't a great fielding team, they did have some range that was able to save some runs and didn't make many mistakes that cost them runs. They also had some good pitching as well. This was a pretty well rounded team. They didn't have any big time power hitter but they did have power spread throughout the lineup. Offensively this team is led by LF Jorge Rincon, 3B Kenny Beard, CF Diego Oropesa, LF/1B Red Smith and SS Melvin Masato. In the off season they added 3B Jaime Hall to the group to also help provide some pop. SP Brooks Mullins was this teams top starter from last season and should continue to pitch well for them. SP Archie Tewksbury is the number 2 guy and pitched very well last season. The top reliever out of the bullpen is Matthew Goodwin who pitched great last season in the setup role. RP Ron Owens is another very good setup man to bring in for them. In the off season they promoted SP J.P. Santos, and SP Collin Hardtke to help out the rotation. I see this team as more of an offensive team than pitching but they have real good defense that will help out the pitching staff. I think the win total from last season is realistically a good number to be happy about if they reach it again.
This is a team that has now seen their win total decline for the fourth straight season. Last season was just the third time in franchise history that they missed the post season. At 80-82, it was their worst season in franchise history. Offensively last season they finished 5th in hitting(279), 6th in obp(342), 2nd in hr(265), and 6th in runs(882). Defensively they finished 4th in fielding(985), 12th in plus plays(37), and 10th in minus plays(48). They finished 9th in ERA(4.88), and 10th in opponents average(281). In all, these aren't bad numbers. They were toward the top of the league offensively and average in pitching. In the off season they traded away C Antonio Zhang, their top hitter last season. Aging RF Howard O'Brien became a free agent and not resigned. They also watched 3B Murray Mahaffey sign with another team in free agency. They did resign SS Victor Ramsay, and also signed C Jaque Chang and 3B Mule Monroe. Add those goes in with RF Vance Piper, 2B Felipe Ibanez, 1B Vic Guzman, and 3B Gary Dolan, guys that provide a good group of hitters in Minnesota. The pitching staff is what bothers me with this team. The top two starters are free agent acquisition Robinson Maddux and youngster Hawk Marquis(24). They let some aging pitchers walk in free agency, Phil Shaw, Zephyr Wasdin, William Busby, and Dan Shipley. They didn't really add anyone of note to help the pitching staff. I don't think this team has the pitching to win this season, but they do have a good offense. I'm thinking that this may be another season of declining win totals as they sit by and wait for some younger guys to work their way to the big leagues to help this team out down the road.
I think this division will not produce the amount of wins they are used to seeing this season, but Syracuse is still a very strong team and could possibly be the only team to improve upon last seasons total. If they don't at least make the World Series then this will be a disappointing season for them. Ottawa has a good shot at making it to the post season again, but I don't see them getting to the World Series again. Milwaukee and Minnesota don't seem as strong to me. This division should still produce one of the wild cards and also a team with 100 victories.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Seattle, owned by yours truly, won the division last season for the third time in the last four seasons and in team history. After not making the playoffs in their first eight seasons they have been succesful except for the season 10 blip on the radar since. They made the NLCS where they were defeated in 7 games by Charleston, the eventual World Series champions. A young and talented Scottsdale team made huge strides last season finishing second and earning their first post season berth since season 4. Scottsdale is a team that has been through 9 owners and finally have things going in the right direction. Colorado finished third and missed the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season. This is a team that has had the same owner in place since the beginning and has 2 World Series appearances and a World Series championship. The team that was in San Francisco last season finished fourth after only a couple seasons removed from their only division title. The team turned over ownership that up and moved to Oklahoma City hoping for a fresh start.
With quite possibly the worst team name in the world this team has turned things around under the ownership that took over in season 7. Last season they crossed the 100 win plateau for the first time in team history going 108-54. Having the second best record in the NL earned them a first round bye and they then defeated division rival Scottsdale 3-2 to earn their first trip to the NLCS. They lost to Charleston 4-3 after having to battle back from a 3-0 defecit to force a game 7. The team was in win now mode, as they traded most of their top prospects in deals to put the team in position to make the World Series. As good a season as they had it was nothing more than a disappointment not making the championship series. Now the team is left with little to no minor league talent and all the talent in this organization is at the ML level which could hurt them for the quite some time. Offensively, where most of the trades they made to bolster the team, they finished 10th in average(267), 3rd in obp(342), 12th in hr(191), 4th in runs scored(870), and 1st in steals(224). They finished 2nd in fielding(987), 1st in plus plays(103) and 1st in minus plays(14). They also finished 1st in ERA(3.52), 1st in opponents average(240), and converted 62 of 90 saves. This teams weakness was obviously on offense, but their relief pitching wasn't great either. In the offseason the decided to extend the contracts of a couple key defenders/offensive players 3B Kory Garland and SS Buster Starr. They signed a couple other players through free agency to help boost the offense in IF Rafael Cervantes and 1B Tony Cummings. To help the pitching weakness they signed RP Rico Lee and RP Omar Sanchez. They traded for SP Jose Bravo, and signed SP Chuck Carson. They had to replace some players they let go in free agency in 2B Russ Barker, OF Roberto Flores, SP Julius Sowders, RP Rodrigo Rogue, and SP Alex Montero. They also traded away a young RP Chico Guerrero. For the second straight season this team had a high turnover and it remains to be seen how well it will work for them. They did keep together the core of the team but they lost a couple key players that they tried to replace. We'll see how those replacements work out. I don't think they have a chance at repeating last seasons win total but they should still be able to put up a winning record.
After seven consecutive losing seasons this team made huge strides last season. They started to reap the benefits of a losing team by bringing along some young and talented players. They ended the season in 2nd in the division and taking a wild card spot, even winning their first round series, only to lose to division rival Seattle in the 2nd round. An 85-77 record made for a pretty successful season for this franchise. The fans in Scottsdale only have good things ahead to look forward to. Last season they finished 5th in average(271), 4th in obp(339), 2nd in HR(265), and 3rd in runs scored(877). Defensively they finished 10th in fielding(980), 8th in plus plays(37), and 11th in minus plays(62). The pitching staff finished 12th in ERA(4.75), 13th in opponents average(280) and converted only 46 of 70 saves. Pitching and fielding appeared to be the weakness with this club. They have some good offensive players in place, SS Omar Cornejo, C Jorge Renteria, 3B David Leonard, RF/1B Darren Bailey, SS Omar Siqueiros and a player that underperformed last season CF Vic Servet. They also traded for LF Hersh Gresinger and signed power threat 1B Alan Krause to help boost an already dangerous lineup. The staff ace Raymond Simmons is a very good starter that is followed by another good pitcher in Miguel James. They didn't get much after those two last season though. RP Tim Juden filled in nicely in relief but he was getting old and let go. Closer Esteban Dotel was a serviceable closer and will be asked to do that job again this season. They promoted RP Alex Allen, and resigned RP Hugh Brewer, a couple guys that should help in the bullpen. This teams offense is top notch and are going to put up the runs to win games. The defense for this club is still not very good and they didn't do much to give it a boost this off season. The pitching staff has some good pieces to it, but it is not in the top of the league good. This team will win its share of games this season just because of the offense alone and should be close to the win total they had last season plus or minus a few. They could win this division or they could be entirely left out of the post season. It all depends on the offense with this bunch.
Colorado Springs Night Watchmen
At 73-89 last season this team made it 3 out of the last 4 seasons with a losing record. After going 8 seasons without having a losing record, this team has hit hard times over the past 4 seasons. Season sevens World Series title seems so long ago now. They are still the only team in this division that has had the same owner from the start and it's an owner that has proven he knows how to win. Offensively, last season this team finished last in hitting(250), 13th in obp(324), 6th in hr(218), 14th in runs(731). They were 3rd in fielding(985), 5th in plus plays(49), 7th in minus plays(55). They were 9th in ERA(4.43), and 7th in opponents average(264). They were a good fielding team, an average pitching team, and poor offensive team. Before last season they traded for OF Steve Minor, who put up good numbers but he didn't get much help. RF B.C. Harper drove in runs and hit for power but had a low average. After those two nobody else produced much of anything. They went out and got C John Ledesma in the Rule 5 draft, but that was all they did to improve the offense. They have Stevie Murray closing games who did very good in that role last season. The only standout off season move could be the aquisition of the SP Miguel Sierra, whose better days appear to be behind him. Other than that they have an average roster of pitchers. They do appear to have some players in the minors on the way to help them out in the near future, but I don't think those players will be ready this season. I think it will probably be another long season for this team and I don't see enough talent to compete with the better teams in the league. I'm going to say that it's a long shot to see these guys in the post season this season.
Oklahoma City Prairie Dogs
This team went 69-93 last season for a second straight losing season since winning the division in season 10. The owner bailed and the new owner moved the team out of San Francisco. New ownership was quoted as saying, "the Prairie Dogs will remain underground this season, foraging for a long winter ahead. They hope to gain strength and at some time either next season or the season after that, emerge from their holes to bask in victorious sunlight....." This is a team that has only seen three winning seasons in its history so hopefully for them the new ownership has a good plan to get them on track. Last season they finsihed 15th in hitting(254), 10th in hr(205), 13th in runs scored(742), but they did steal 111 bases in only 134 tries. They finished dead last in fielding percentage(970), 14th in plus plays(24), and last in minus plays(82). The team ERA(4.62) was 11th, and they were 12th in opponents average(278). It's hard to imagine how this team managed to stay under 100 losses. They weren't very good in any facet of the game. They do have some good pitchers, SP Valerio Duran, RP Lonny Sojo, and RP George Eaton. 2B Dicky Bartee, OF Karim Candelaria, and C Don Colin are good position players that are returning on this team as well. They traded for RP Cam Palmer, who has the potential to be a very good pitcher. They also traded for 1B Charlie Thomas, a player that should be a really good hitter for them. They traded away a good SP Bret O'Leary, and released SP Russell Robinson. They also let RP Phil Gardner, walk away in free agency. Overall, they are a young team and may not have the best talent around but have a few good players to build off of. This won't be a team contending this season and maybe not next either. It remains to be seen what the new owners plan is, but they really have some work to do with this franchise over the next couple seasons in order to right the ship.
It's hard to predict a division that I'm so involved in, but this is probably, right now, the weakest of any division in the NL. I don't see a lot of change from last season going on here. I really don't think Seattle has what it takes to repeat though. Their offense just doesn't stack up with Scottsdale and I feel like the pitching kind of took a step backwards. Maybe I'll give my own team a little buletin board material to get them to outperform their talent levels.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
This franchise put up a record high victory total last season going 99-63 and won their 4th division title. A season after making the LCS though turned out to be a disappointment as they couldn't turn regular season success into the post season success they had hoped for. They ownership in Monterrey are pretty excited about the teams chances this season and even the local media are getting pretty hyped about the team. As one local radio personality put it "Anything less than a pennant will be a disappointment for the team, the fans, and the city of Monterrey." Offensively this team finished 11th in hitting(266), 11th in obp(327), 1st in hr(281), 5th in runs(869), 4th in steals(133) and 2nd in slg(464). They may not have been the best hitting team but they knew how to put up runs and had the power to get it done. They finished 10th in fielding(980) which management put in part on the poor play they got at thirdbase, and finished 13th in plus plays(29) and 12th in minus plays(67). Not very good defensive numbers at all. Even with the less than spectacular fielding the finished 5th in ERA(4.04), 7th in opponents average(264), 1st in strikeouts(1228), and 1st in saves converting 63 of 86. There isn't a whole lot to improve on an already very good team. They resigned SP Bingo Baker, a guy who could provide a little help possibly more in the bullpen than starting, and they also signed 3b Murray Mahaffey, to help make up for the lack of production they got out of the position last season. Besides that they promoted SP Clay Jeter who should be able to help this team. If this team is going to win it all, then they will need RF Miguel Mesa to put up MVP type numbers as he is capable of doing, as he seemed to take steps backwards last season. They will be moving pitcher Al Astacio to the bullpen where he is better suited to help this team as he was the weak link in the rotation last season. They already have one of the best bullpens in the game and there is no reason to think that will be any different this season. Throw that together with a pretty solid rotation and this team has the pitching to win a championship. SP Oscar Osterbrock is the ace of the staff and this guy could be a Cy Young candidate come the end of the season. SP Doc King is pretty good as well. This team has a good lineup and solid backups to go with it. Defensively they appear to be average but have a few players that are good. The key for this team is that they are made up of some very talented young players that should be around for quite some time. The have only a few aging players that are starting the back end of their careers but most of them are just bit parts for this team. When I talk about teams that are going to be at the top of the league this one falls right into that category. The biggest thing for them will be that they could make it last due to the group of young players that are going to be key for this team. I must say that I agree with that radio host in Monterrey.
World Champions! This team made it back to the title series for the second time in five seasons and brought home the title this time. The regular season was good for them but they did miss out on winning the division for a seventh consecutive time. That was all the motivation they needed. They swept Fargo in the first round, then beat Jacksonville 3-1 in the second. They went 7 games against Seattle in a series they had well in hand, up 3-0, but slipped a little before taking game 7 to advance to the World Series. They made quick work of Ottawa in the World Series 4-1. Add it up and they were 14-5 in the post season. Not bad at all. They went 97-65 in the regular season putting them 2 games out of first place. They were 2nd in the NL in batting(278), 1st in obp(355), 4th in homers(231), and 2nd in runs(905). A force offensively. They were 6th in fielding(983), 6th in plus plays(45), 2nd in minus plays(25). That would put them in the upper half of the NL defensively. They were 3rd in ERA(3.93), 3rd in OAV(258), and converted 45 of 58 save opportunities. So the real question was what was their weakness? This was a solid all around team that just missed a few breaks here and there in the regular season. I just don't see how they didn't win well over 100 games. This team was rock solid and that is why they were able to dominate in the post season. They decided to pick up the option on SP Al Mota, 3B Juan Otanez, and OF Frank Martin. These three are eating up plenty of salary but are key players on this team. They extended the contract of 2B Pepper Sanders, another key member of this team. They resigned SP Rafael Gutierrez, but let SS Ivan Perez, Closer Archie Goldman, and RP Harry Gonzalez walk in free agency. They selected RP Adam Bergen in the rule 5 draft who could turn out to be a gem. They went out and signed SP William Busby and RP John Chen to replace the losses they had. Overall, they didn't lose much in the off season and kept around the players that they needed to. The only major loss was closer Archie Goldman, but they have Jesus Amezaga waiting in the wings to take over. They are a team that has young talent with some good veterans mixed in. That seems to be how most of the successful teams in the NL are doing it and they are no different. Charleston is still going to be a team to beat in the NL this season and will be battling it out with Monterrey in trying to recapture the division title this season.
This team had their 4th straight losing season last season by going 71-91. They have only made it to the post season twice and it's been since season 1 the last time they won the division title. It doesn't help that they are on their fifth owner in that time but carseneau is moving into the fourth season as owner of this franchise. Is this the season they start to make a move? Management is hoping that their young core players take steps forward this season and they added a couple veterans to help them close out games. They believe that if these things happen then they can compete for a spot in the post season. Offensively this team last season finished 6th in average(270), 4th in obp(339), 8th in hr(210), and 6th in runs(855). They were 10th in fielding(980), 10th in plus plays(35), and 10th in minus plays(60). They were last in ERA(5.66), last in opponent average(294), and converted only 35 of 64 save opportunities. It surely appears that pitching and defense were major weaknesses for this team. So they traded away from the one strength they had, hitting, C Vic Diaz, and RF Juan Torres. They traded for the older but still solid hitting C Antonio Zhang and pitcher Davey Tavarez. They signed RP Louie Mangual, and closer Archie Goldman. Goldman is a major upgrade to this teams bullpen. They also promoted young SP Doug Jodie. They let SP Santos Rodriguez, and SP Robinson Maddux walk in free agency. Overall this is a young team and should be better than they were last season. They improved some weaknesses on this team from last season and didn't lose a whole lot in doing so. They let a couple of older pitchers go and got better in that department. I don't think this team is ready to contend quite yet, but with all the young players they have in place they should continue to get better over the next few seasons.
This franchise is now on it's ninth owner. It's hard to put anything together when a franchise is constantly having to reinvent itself. Last season they finished 61-101, marking the fifth time in franchise history hitting triple digits in the loss column and third season in a row. Surprisingly though, this franchise has won a division title although it was the only time they have made the playoffs and they didn't make it out of the divisional series. Offensively the finished 14th in hitting(261), 10th in obp(328), 13th in hr(188), and 12th in runs(746). The finished 15th in fielding(976), last in plus plays(17), 9th in minus plays(57). They were also 15th in ERA(5.49), 14th in opponent average(281), and converted only 36 of 53 saves. All these numbers show why this team lead the NL in losses last season. So this team had some things to do in the off season. Bringing up young talent, making acquisitions, something. They've actually done quite a bit of everything. They selected some guys in the Rule 5 draft, the most notable being SP Aubrey Simmons. They claimed guys off the waiver wire, 3B Benny Carrasco, and RP Pedro Park. They made free agent signings, SP Placido Fenandez, SP Alex Montero, and OF Russell Borkowski. They promoted SP Allie Knight, and SS Quinn Watson. The only players they lost to free agency that did anything for the club last season were, OF Troy Jefferson, and SP Patsy Cummings. They released players that didn't fit or help the team much. They have some good young players in place that are going to help in OF Hipolito Matos, IF Jeff Moore, 2B Alex Romero, and SP Rube Clark. They have a young team with more talented young players on the way from the upper minor league levels. I don't see how this team could possibly match last seasons loss total. If they don't improve I will be shocked(although I'm not eating any hats over it). This may not be their season to make a run at a post season berth, but this team isn't far off and within the next few seasons could be challenging for the division title.
This division is much more solid than last season. The top two are still the class of the division and should battle it out till the end. I think both Charleston and Monterrey will make the playoffs again, but it's a tough pick on who wins the division. The bottom two teams show promise heading to the future but just aren't good enough yet to hang with the better teams in the league.