Well, this is the division that my team resides in. How can I give an honest review of these teams? So take what you want from my analysis of these teams, but I'll try and look at this as objectively as possible. To make it simple I'm going to say Seattle is going to win it all and the other teams can just finish in whatever order after first that they want. I highly doubt it will be that simple, but I'd like it to be, if that counts for anything?
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.