SEASON 14 NL EAST PREVIEWS
In the East, they have had the same ownership for all four teams since season 2. Kansas City is the only team with multiple owners and even they have had the same owner in every season except season 1. Now that is consistency. Kansas City has struggled for most of their time in the league having only been to the post season twice, but they have become more consistent over the last 8 season with at least 79 wins in those seasons. Cincinnati made major steps forward last season. After 5 straight losing seasons, they accomplished 90 wins last season and gave Jacksonville a scare at the top of the division. New York, has had some success through the seasons. Last season ended a run of 8 straight seasons with a winning record as they dropped below 500 for just the second time in team history. Then there's Jacksonville. The way to the top of this division goes through Jacksonville. They have 8 division titles and have participated in the World Series 3 times with 1 championship. Add to that, the fact that they have had only one losing season.
Season 13 record- (93-69, 1st division)
Season 13 team hitting(NL) Batting Average-3rd (.273); OBP-2nd (.344); Home Runs-4th (236); Runs-3rd (839); Steals-10th (90) Pitching(AL) ERA-4th (3.99); Opp Avg-6th (.255); Strike Outs-9th (1106); Saves-4th (51) Fielding(AL) Fielding %-9th (.982); Plus Plays-9th (47); Minus Plays-6th (36)
Key Acquisitions- SP Bret O'Leary(tr-Atl), P Bert Thome(FA), IF Ricardo Ibanez(FA)
Key Losses- RP Estiban Sierra(tr-Atl), RF Alvin Reed(tr-Atl), 2B Jeremy Stanley(FA), SS Kiki Duran(FA), 3B Keith Sexson(FA)
Jacksonville has put a good run together the last 4 seasons by winning the division title in each season. This has been one of the more successful franchises in Pine Tar actually. They've been to the World Series 3 times and have come away with one championship. Last season, however, this team declined in wins from the previous season by 17. They barely won the division title and were given a scare by Cincinnati. They were still one of the better hitting and pitching teams in the league, but defensively they weren't so good. Offensively this team will miss Reed, Stanley, Sexson and Duran. They signed Ibanez to offset some of the loss, but I think this team will take steps back offensively this season. O'Leary and Thome will help the pitching staff, and I can see the pitching being better than last season. I'm not sure they did much to help this club defensively. I think they can finish close to their record from last season, but it will take some luck to reach that total. Overall, I'm not sure this team is still going to be a top team and may not even make the playoffs.
Season 13 record- (90-72)
Season 13 team hitting(NL) Batting Average-5th (.269); OBP-5th (.339); Home Runs-9th (211); Runs-8th (803); Steals-2nd (141) Pitching(AL) ERA-8th (4.33); Opp Avg-5th (.254); Strike Outs-12th (1069); Saves-1st (60) Fielding(AL) Fielding %-5th (.984); Plus Plays-2nd (90); Minus Plays-3rd (28)
Key Acquisitions- SP Terrell Tunkel(tr-Chi), RF Rickey Stone(resigned), SS Manuel Ozuna(FA)
Key Losses- RP Bernard Prince(tr-Chi), RP Phillip Allen(FA)
This Cincinnati team gave Jacksonville all it could handle last season. They came up just short of taking the division title, but still had a successful season. They improved by 17 wins and had their first winning record in 6 seasons. The finished in the upper half of the league in most key categories last season. Overall, this team didn't do much in the off season. The moves they did make should slightly improve the team though. I think they may have over achieved last season and my prediction is that they finish real close to where they were last season in wins. I still think that it's possible for this team to make a run at the division title, but if they don't win that, then I don't think they would get in the post season.
Kansas City Kardinals
Season 13 record- (80-82)
Season 13 team hitting(NL) Batting Average-1st (.277); OBP-4th (.340); Home Runs-7th (229); Runs-6th (825); Steals-13th (59) Pitching(AL) ERA-14th (4.88); Opp Avg-12th (.274); Strike Outs-4th (1151); Saves-11th (43) Fielding(AL) Fielding %-12th (.980); Plus Plays-14th (31); Minus Plays-10th (58)
Key Losses- RF Benji Moreno(tr-OKC), RP Brant Service(FA)
Kansas City was the top hitting team in the league last season. The problem with this team was that they had terrible pitching and fielding. They still finished close to 500 and look like they have something to build off of. In the off season they had just a couple losses, but the biggest problem I see is that they made no key additions. For a team that was so close, I can't figure out why they didn't go for it this off season and try to get over the top. They still have most of their hitters in place, but the team still has below average fielding. The pitching staff is not as bad as the numbers showed from last season, but they are still below average and the fielding will not help that. My guess is that this team in current form, will probably be pretty close to average again. They could go a little over 81 wins or a little under.
New York Moneymaker
Season 13 record- (75-87)
Season 13 team hitting(NL) Batting Average-11th (.262); OBP-14th (.323); Home Runs-11th (200); Runs-13th (729); Steals-8th (101) Pitching(AL) ERA-12th (4.87); Opp Avg-13th (.275); Strike Outs-6th (1141); Saves-8th (46) Fielding(AL) Fielding %-7th (.983); Plus Plays-15th (30); Minus Plays-9th (49)
Key Acquisitions- SP John Fogg(resigned), RP Brad Shave(resigned), SP Farmer Davis(FA), C Karim Franco(FA), LF Paul Wang(FA), LF/1B Vicente Lopez(FA)
Key Losses- SP Rob Murray(FA), SP Alfredo Casey(FA)
New York finished last in a tough division last season. At 75-87, they didn't have a terrible season. They finished in the lower half of the league in hitting and pitching, but were and average fielding team. To get to the top of this division they would have to make some big off season moves. They chose not to go that route though. They signed some good players, but no "put this team over the top" moves. The moves they did make should get this team closer to 500 or above. Most of the losses this team had were players that held the team back last season. They resigned a Fogg and Shave, a couple players I think this team needed to keep around. The team does have some talent and I think youngster Mandy Whitfield, can help this team out. The teams hitting appears to be fairly good. The pitching is decent, but the better pitchers on this team are in the bullpen. The starters aren't anything to be excited about. The fielding is less than good. In New York last season, the team had only their second losing season in franchise history, and the team is not wanting to see a third. My prediction is that this team will be close to average. They are in about the same shape as KC, and could finish just above 81 wins or just below.
Jacksonville and Cincinnati should battle it out for most of the season at the top of this division. KC and NY are two teams that I just don't think can stick around at the top of this division. While I don't think any of the teams in the division got a whole lot better in the off season, I still think the top 2 teams are fairly strong. This division may be only good enough to get the division winner into the post season though. The bad thing about that is that this division may combine for the most wins of any division in the NL, as all 4 teams could finish above or close to 500.