Saturday, December 31, 2011

NL West Season 18 Preview

NL West
And finally the division that nobody wanted last season. It's pretty sad that a 79 win team was the division champ last season. At least I predicted who would win it although I didn't see they way they won it coming. Scottsdale actually ended up having a pretty good season with all things considered. The regular season didn't go the way they wanted it to, but once the playoffs came it was a different story. With a first round (upset?) of a wild card team that had 16 more victories than they did they were hot. They not only upset Charleston, but they swept them. Then in the divisional round they upset the 1 seed Jackson with a 3-1 series. That was where it ended for them as they went on to the NLCS to lose 4-1 to Trenton. Like I said, pretty impressive post season showing for that team. The team in Seattle that set out to start a rebuild wasn't too far off from taking the top spot in the division after only finishing 4 games out of first. After winning the division in 6 out of the previous 9 seasons the team decided to go in a different direction and start rebuilding, but somehow managed to be more competitive than even I imagined. Colorado Springs at one time owned this division with 6 first place finishes in the opening 8 seasons. They've only seen the post season once since. The past 4 seasons have been losing seasons for them. They are a team that should have some good young players in place and things could be turning around soon for this franchise. Oklahoma City, looked to be moving forward in season 15 with 84 victories, but it's been downhill since then. The past 2 seasons haven't gone the way that ownership would have liked, but I think that this team has had a good chance to rebuild what they have and could be another team on the rise real soon.

Scottsdale Scorpions
Season 17 record- 79-83(NL West Champs)
5 year record- 408-402

Offense- Average-7th(.266), OBP-15th(.320), Slg-9th(.404), Runs-8th(753), HR-12th(177), SB-5th(130)
Defense- Fld %-14th(.982), Plus Plays-13th(38), Minus Plays-13th(52)
Pitching- ERA-11th(4.42), OAV-12th(.271), SO-8th(1091), Saves-5th(48/66)

Key Additions- RP Bill Walker(claimed), SP Al Rivers(FA), 1B Jim Byrne(FA)
Key Losses- OF Darren Bailey(FA), 3B William Wang(FA), C Benji Villafuerte(FA)

When vector21 took over this franchise in season 11, the franchise was struggling. Since then they have had winning records in 4 of the 7 seasons and even won the division last season when they had one of their losing seasons. Not only that, but they ended up playing in the NLCS with a chance at going to a second World Series in 4 seasons. During the regular season this team really didn't live up to their potential, but once the post season started, they got things going. The question now is if they can carry that over to this season. I like the additions they made in the off season, but they lost some really good players. The offense last season was average at hitting, and scoring runs and the power was below average. The loss of Bailey doesn't help the power numbers. The promotion of Fausto De La Vega will help though. By adding Byrne the boosted the hitting a bit. The offense looks above average to me and the power numbers shouldn't be as low as last season. The defense last season was bad. They have a good shortstop and centerfielder so it shouldn't be that bad. They aren't solid at every position, but the defense doesn't look like a team that will finish at the bottom of the league. The pitching was below average last season. The addition of Rivers adds some depth to the rotation. They really do have some solid starters on the staff. I think this is an above average rotation. The bullpen has some solid arms in it as well. The bullpen depth is weak though. Overall it's an above average staff and should put up better numbers than last season. This is still a solid team and I think that they bounce back from last seasons losing record and improve the win total. This team should be tough to knock from the top of this division.

Seattle Strikers
Season 17 record- 75-87
5 year record- 440-370

Offense- Average-13th(.255), OBP-6th(.343), Slg-15th(.379), Runs-13th(678), HR-15th(149), SB-2nd(274)
Defense- Fld %-3rd(.986), Plus Plays-6th(57), Minus Plays-6th(34)
Pitching- ERA-6th(4.06), OAV-1st(.240), SO-1st(1168), Saves-8th(45/70)

Key Additions- OF/1B Rob Lee(FA), RP Flip Buck(FA)
Key Losses- OF Justin Walters(FA), SP Jose Bravo(FA), RP Esteban Dotel(FA), RP Phil Gardner(FA), SS Miguel Manzanillo(released)

It's hard to imagine that I'm going into my 12th season with this team. I've learned a lot about the game in my time here and this is by far my favorite of any world I've been a part of. The team has had their ups and downs in my time, but in season 9 we brought home the teams first of 6 division titles. Since that time the team has not had 2 straight seasons without a division championship. Last season was the official start of a rebuild here, but the team somehow found a way to finish 2nd. After 6 straight post season appearances the team missed out last season. The rebuild we are doing here isn't a complete "tear the house down and not expect to win" rebuild. I'm trying something different to as a test. I'm trying a competitive rebuild to see if it's possible. I know it leaves us at a disadvantage of not having the top picks in the draft, but I think we've got the pieces in place to make it happen. Offense has been a weakness in most every season that I've been here and last season was no different. The team was bad offensively and that's why we always try to build around speed. In a pitchers park, offensive dominance is hard to achieve. One thing that's not affected by that is speed. The team has very little power this season, but I feel like the hitting and obp will improve. There is still plenty of speed on the team, but most of it is from the bench. Defense has been another signature for the team for quite some time. The shortstop position is filled by a really good fielder that is a not so go hitter, as usual. The rest of the defense is solid, but this season the team only looks average at best with the gloves. In a pitchers park, the team usually gets over achieving performances from the staff. Last season the team was above average and got some pitchers to pitch better than expected again. The addition of Buck should bolster a weak bullpen, but the pen is still below average. The rotation is solid, but they lack a true ace. The staff as a whole is solid, but they'll probably put up good numbers thanks to a pitchers park as stated. I don't think the team has what it takes to win the division, but they should at least compete for most of the season. A wild card would seem unlikely.

Colorado Springs Night Watchmen
Season 17 record- 72-90
5 year record- 376-434

Offense- Average-8th(.263), OBP-8th(.345), Slg-9th(.404), Runs-9th(751), HR-11th(184), SB-11th(64)
Defense- Fld %-12th(.983), Plus Plays-16th(11), Minus Plays-12th(51)
Pitching- ERA-13th(4.73), OAV-14th(.284), SO-14th(1060), Saves-12th(42/62)

Key Additions- RP Harry Moreno(FA), SS Jorge Lopez(FA),
Key Losses- None

This franchise is another franchise that still has its original owner in toe64. They were the franchise that took 6 division titles in the opening 8 seasons. Since then, they've been to the post season just once, as a wild card in season 13. Things were starting to look up then, but the past 4 seasons haven't been very good for them. I think the team underperformed last season, but they have been rebuilding this team and have a really young roster. They didn't make many major off season moves, but the additions of Moreno and Lopez do help the team. The offense last season was pretty average across the board. The team does have some power and the hitting is average. They have a little bit of speed as well. The offense looks pretty average to me as a whole though. They may be slightly above average, but they aren't a top of the league offense. The defense wasn't very good last season. Lopez is an upgrade defensively at short, but he's not a top shortstop. They have a few good gloves on the team, but they look like a below average group. The pitching was bad for this team last season. The rotation could use a couple top arms. They have a bunch of bottom of the rotation pitchers. That is enough to be solid though. The bullpen appears to be a bit better than the rotation though. They still aren't great, but it's an average bullpen at least. The pitching staff is about average. This appears to be a team that will continue on the rebuilding path this season as they appear about average. They should take some steps forward though in the win column. This is a young team and should only continue to get better.

Oklahoma City Prairie Dogs
Season 17 record- 68-94
5 year record- 364-446

Offense- Average-14th(.252), OBP-13th(.319), Slg-14th(.383), Runs-15th(619), HR-13th(168), SB-14th(32)
Defense- Fld %-10th(.984), Plus Plays-9th(43), Minus Plays-5th(31)
Pitching- ERA-8th(4.26), OAV-9th(.262), SO-12th(1073), Saves-11th(43/56)

Key Additions- SS Erubiel Baez(promoted)
Key Losses- 3B Murray Mahaffey(FA)

As owner of the franchise, brentcnb, goes into a sixth season. Things haven't started off so good in his time here, but that should be changing soon. The team has appeared in rebuild mode for some time now and should be reaping the benefits of high draft picks soon. They have a young roster with some players that could change things for them. The offense last season wasn't very good and finished near the bottom of the league in everything. This season, they look a little better to me. They have some power and hitting abilities. They have some guys that can get on base and even some speed. The offense should improve. Defensively they were pretty average last season.  I really like this defense this season. They have a dynamite shortstop and a good option for centerfield. They even have good gloves that could play other positions. This should be a top 5 defense. The pitching last season was average. Looking at the rotation leaves me wondering how. The rotation is bad. The bullpen doesn't look too good either. Outside of a couple pitchers this staff looks bad to me. This team appears ready to continue it's rebuild this season. They have a decent offense and real good defense, but the pitching isn't where it needs to be. I think they should be better this season, but based on the early returns it doesn't look that way.


This division is always tough for me to predict. The way things went last season for the division makes it even tougher. It's like nobody wanted it. I'd probably be better off predicting every team to finish last if I could. Scottsdale still looks like the best team to me. The under achieved last season and it's hard to pick a team that didn't live up to expectations the past couple seasons. That is the team I'm picking though. Seattle is still in rebuild mode, but they'll compete and make things tough on the other teams. I don't think they can even get a wild card, but they shouldn't drop off from last season. Colorado Springs has it's holes, but this division proved that it's weak last season. They should battle for the top spot, but I think they fall short in the end and miss the post season. Oklahoma City just doesn't have the pitching to compete. I think they are solid everywhere else, but until the pitching gets fixed then they are my pick to finish at the bottom.
1.) Scottsdale
2.) Colorado Springs
3.) Seattle
4.) Oklahoma City

Thursday, December 29, 2011

NL South Season 18 Preview

NL South
Things have certainly been changing in this division the past few seasons. In the past 4 seasons we've introduced 3 new owners to the division. The franchise now in Mexico City was dominating the division since season 6 by finishing first 8 times and second 4 times over that period. They still made the post season, but didn't make it far. With that, the previous owner decided it was time to go. Now the longest tenured owner in the division resides in Jackson. This is a team that led the NL in victories and was  a very good team. They won their second division title in the past 3 seasons after not making the post season for 9 seasons before that. Charlotte made the playoffs in season 16 as a wild card with 95 victories, but fell off last season to 84 victories and sitting at home. Louisville matched the previous seasons record and finished last in the division, but the rebuild has been under way for a few seasons now and should start to take shape. As a division this one had the most victories in the NL last season and gets the label of best division. It'll be interesting to see how that plays out this season to see if they can keep that designation.

Jackson Juggernauts
Season 17 record- 102-60(NL South Champs)
5 year record- 435-375

Offense- Average-3rd(.269), OBP-2nd(.338), Slg-1st(.451), Runs-1st(887), HR-3rd(236), SB-3rd(223)
Defense- Fld %-1st(.988), Plus Plays-2nd(78), Minus Plays-2nd(19)
Pitching- ERA-1st(3.63), OAV-2nd(.241), SO-4th(1140), Saves-4th(52/72)

Key Additions- RP Ubaldo Bennett(tr-Jax)
Key Losses- RP Andres Jacquez(tr-Jax), C Barry Brown(FA), RP Harry Moreno(FA)

Before bobbyj7 took over this team in season 13, this team was going through owners like they belonged in the AL West. 9 owner changes in the first 13 seasons is quite a bit and leaves a team with very little direction. This owner took over and heads into a sixth season. It didn't take long to get to the top of the division. In just his third season he took home the division title. After a letdown in season 16, they rose to the top again last season with a force. Not only did they lead the NL in victories, but they set a franchise record as well. Unfortunately it all ended early for this team as they were upset in the divisional round. It's hard to imagine how this team could have fell apart after the amazing season they put together. Offensively this team was great last season. They had hitting, power and speed and were top of the league good in all of them. They head into this season looking pretty much the same. They have good power, good hitting and plenty of speed. They have one of the best offenses in the league. The defense was top of the league good as well. They have some pretty good gloves out there and some range. I think this is a really good defensive team again. The pitching was just as good. They led the league in ERA and were 2nd in opponents average. The rotation is pretty good. The bullpen is also looking good. The only thing I see wrong with this staff is a couple guys with lower control. That's just a couple guys though. This pitching staff is real good as a group. Jackson has a phenomenal team and I don't think they'll lose their grip on the division this season. They have 100 win potential.

Mexico City Diablos
Season 17 record- 95-67(Wild Card)
5 year record- 474-336

Offense- Average-1st(.276), OBP-1st(.358), Slg-5th(.433), Runs-2nd(868), HR-8th(210), SB-10th(80)
Defense- Fld %-3rd(.986), Plus Plays-8th(49), Minus Plays-7th(35)
Pitching- ERA-5th(4.05), OAV-5th(.257), SO-9th(1089), Saves-12th(42/61)

Key Additions- SP Tony Ramirez(FA), OF Justin Walters(FA), OF Darren Bailey(FA), 2B Chin-Hui Wanatabe(FA)
Key Losses- SS David Prieto(released), 3B Ivan Ibarra(released), RP Tom Milton(released), RP Bill Walker(waived), SP Luis Rijo(FA), CF Enos Jones(FA), RP D.T. Woodson(FA), RP Gene Bryant(FA), 2B Douglas Wilson(FA), 1B Alejandro Torres(FA), SP Warren Hargrave(FA)

With new ownership comes change. And change there was for this team in the off season. New owner, Dullaghan takes over this team and moved them from Charleston to Mexico City. They lost quite a few free agents as the team chose to save the money and put it towards other players. I like the additions, but some of the losses really hurt. This team was one of the best offensively last season and they lost some key contributors to that. They still have some power in the lineup and the hitting is still good. I don't think they are good enough to be at the top of the league again, but they are better than average. The defense was good last season. They had gloves, but lacked range. I think they are missing the gloves this season. I don't like the shortstop situation, but they have a couple good gloves to play center. I think the defense is a bit below average this season. The pitching was above average last season. The rotation isn't especially strong, but they have a couple good starters. The bullpen features a great closer, but the rest of it isn't very good. The pitching staff is below average. I don't know for sure, but I'm getting the feeling that new ownership is thinking more about rebuilding this squad than playing for the now. I don't think they have what it takes to win this division and likely won't be in the wild card race either.

Charlotte Bad News
Season 17 record- 84-78
5 year record- 427-383

Offense- Average-8th(.263), OBP-11th(.326), Slg-7th(.429), Runs-7th(764), HR-4th(228), SB-8th(117)
Defense- Fld %-6th(.985), Plus Plays-10th(40), Minus Plays-8th(36)
Pitching- ERA-7th(4.18), OAV-5th(.257), SO-2nd(1156), Saves-5th(48/68)

Key Additions- 3B Dave Thompson(tr-Far), RP Ruben Molina(tr-Far), RP Tom Milton(FA)
Key Losses- C Orber Beltran(tr-Far), 3B Robert Tannehill(FA), RP Milton Simpson(FA)

When owner douglaslee took over this team in mid season 15, this team was in shambles. He ended up getting the team up and running quickly by getting them to 68 wins that season and a third place finish. The next season, they were battling for the division title and ended up taking a wild card spot. Last season was a bit of a letdown as they dropped 11 victories from the previous season and missed the post season as the only NL team with a winning record to miss the playoffs. Not about to sit by and let that happen again the ownership stepped up and made some trades to try and get this team rolling again. They just missed on a big FA signing with Kory Garland, but the addition of Thompson adds some power. Offensively this team was average last season, but did hit for some power. With a pair of 40 homer guys and the addition of Thompson this team will hit homers. They have some good hitters mixed through the lineup as well. It looks like an above average offense to me. The defense was pretty much average last season as well. They have solid gloves in key positions and should be a good defense. It isn't a great defense, but they surely won't hurt the team at all. The pitching was a bit above average last season. That is disappointing considering what they have on the staff. The loss of Oscar Osterbrock last season hurt and they'll have him back this season after he missed a portion of last season. The rotation is strong at the top and they have a couple decent arms at the back of it. The bullpen features some good arms as well. The additions of Molina and Milton help. This is a good pitching staff that should produce better results than last season. I think it's a top 5 staff. Overall this team is pretty good. I think they can give Jackson a fight in this division for the top spot and if nothing else at least be in the hunt for a wild card spot.

Louisville ARF ARF ARF ARF's
Season 17 record- 64-98
5 year record- 345-465

Offense- Average-12th(.257), OBP-12th(.322), Slg-9th(.404), Runs-12th(705), HR-10th(191), SB-15th(24)
Defense- Fld %-15th(.981), Plus Plays-11th(39), Minus Plays-15th(59)
Pitching- ERA-16th(5.19), OAV-16th(.291), SO-11th(1075), Saves-16th(30/55)

Key Additions- SS Ossie Gibson(FA), SP Roland Sweeney(FA), OF/1B Andres Andujar(promoted), C Pedro Ortiz(promoted), SP Billy Lloyd(promoted)
Key Losses- None

In Louisville, Arfy, heads into a third season with this franchise and the rebuild should start taking some shape soon. The franchise has only been to the post season twice and haven't won the division since season 1. It's been since season 8 that they've been to the playoffs. The off season was good to this team. They didn't lose anything worth noting and added a couple good FA signings and made a few key promotions. Offensively this team was below average last season. They lacked power and speed and the hitting was less than stellar. They still lack much power. The hitting appears better with the addition of Andujar, Ortiz and Gibson. Overall the offense should do better this season, but they aren't quite a top offensive team yet. The defense was pretty bad last season. They still lack a quality glove at shortstop, but Gibson can provide that although he lacks ideal range for the position. Andres Polanco has that range, but lacks the glove. The rest of the positions on defense have solid gloves, but not great gloves. This team has average to just below average defense, but the numbers may look worse than that due to the shortstop position. Pitching was an area of real concern with this team. They were bottom of the league last season. The additions of Sweeney and Lloyd help with that. The rotation looks solid this season and the addition of Sweeney adds a proven starter to the top of it. The back end of the rotation is what worries me for this team. The bullpen is another area of concern. It's not deep and they could use a top reliever to close out games. Overall the staff looks better, but not ready to be a strength of the team. This team should do better than the past few seasons, but they aren't quite there yet. Any improvement is a good sign for this team as they do have help on the way from the minors, but that help isn't ready yet. Over the next few seasons I expect this team to continue on an upward trend, but this season I see them struggling to compete with the top teams in the NL.


This division appears a bit easier to predict based on the numbers. Jackson is the team to beat and they have a really good team put together. They should be aiming higher than a division title. Anything less than a World Series appearance would be a disappointing season for them. Charlotte is a good team and I think they've improved in the off season. I'm not sure they are quite there with Jackson this season, but they'll put some pressure on them. If nothing else, I think Charlotte grabs one of the wild card spots. Louisville is moving forward and look like a better team this season. I don't think they've improved enough to get to the top or even into the playoffs, but I like what I'm seeing from this team. Mexico City, appears to have started to rebuild this team into more of what the new ownership likes. This season will not be the season that they are competing for this division and a wild card spot seems out of reach for them as well.

1.) Jackson
2.) Charlotte
3.) Louisville
4.) Mexico City

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

NL East Season 18 Preview

NL East

The team that has dominated this division for most of the leagues 17 seasons has been Jacksonville. They've won the division 11 times over this period. Last season they won a third straight division title and 7th in the last 8 seasons. They've been to 4 World Series and have won one of them. Coming off of a World Series appearance in season 16 the team failed to advance to the second round last season. Philadelphia moved from New York last season and that proved to be a boost for this franchise. After 4 straight losing seasons they took a big step forward last season and improved by 12 games and made it to the post season. They ended up playing division rival Jacksonville in the wild card round and advanced to the divisional round. They may only have 3 division titles and 6 post season appearances, but they are always a competitive team and putting forth a fight in this division. The team in Cincinnati was coming off 3 straight post season appearances before last seasons collapse. It was the teams first losing record since season 12. Last season was a 14 game drop in victories from the previous season for this team. Kansas City has seen the least amount of success in this division over the seasons. Their lone division title came back in season 7 and they've only made the post season 1 other time back in season 10. They always remain competitive, but have rarely had the success of the other divisional foes. Last season they finished 4th in the division and after a step forward in season 16, last season was a step back by winning 13 less games.

Jacksonville Juice
Season 17 record- 92-70(NL East Champs)
5 year record- 446-364

Offense- Average-11th(.259), OBP-6th(.331), Slg-2nd(.449), Runs-3rd(843), HR-1st(246), SB-6th(125)
Defense- Fld %-12th(.983), Plus Plays-15th(34), Minus Plays-10th(39)
Pitching- ERA-2nd(3.81), OAV-7th(.260), SO-13th(1068), Saves-10th(44/62)

Key Additions- RP Andres Jacquez(tr-Jac), 2B Luke Ryan(FA)
Key Losses- RP Ubaldo Bennett(tr-Jac), RP Samuel Dellaero(FA)

As one of the leagues original owners, greygoose123, has shown a consistency for winning. Last season marked a third straight 90+ win season and division title for this team. Last season could be considered a step back since they didn't advance in the post season after coming off a NL title the previous season. If there is one thing you can count on with this franchise, it's that they will try to fix the problem and continue to move forward. This franchise is one of the best in NL and has been since the start. They didn't make many big off season moves, but the addition of Luke Ryan was significant. Last season this team ranked among the best in the NL offensively. The hitting wasn't great, but they hit for power and scored runs. Add in a little speed and this team was pretty good. The addition of Ryan will help the average climb a bit. This surely is a top offense that can get on base if not hit for a high average. They also have some good power in the lineup still. This wasn't a good defensive team last season. They still don't look that good to me. They lack a good shortstop and a centerfielder. The range defensively just isn't there. They have some solid gloves for other positions though and that will keep them out of the bottom of the league. They are a bit below average defensively this season. The pitching was pretty good last season. The rotation is solid, but they aren't great. This team finds a way to get the most out of their pitching though. The bullpen looks really good to me. They have some relievers that could start, but won't get a lot of innings out of, as their stamina is just below what a starter would be expected to have. I think the bullpen could be one of the best in the NL. Overall this is a pretty solid staff that will help them win some games. This team has it's holes, but is a pretty good team besides that. They should win 90 games again and will be tough to knock off this season. If they some how fail to win the division then they would get a wild card spot.

Philadelphia Moneymakers
Season 17 record- 86-76(Wild Card)
5 year record- 386-424

Offense- Average-6th(.267), OBP-4th(.336), Slg-3rd(.445), Runs-4th(826), HR-1st(246), SB-4th(131)
Defense- Fld %-10th(.984), Plus Plays-13th(38), Minus Plays-11th(40)
Pitching- ERA-15th(4.79), OAV-11th(.267), SO-6th(1111), Saves-2nd(54/78)

Key Additions- SP Benji Crespo(FA),
Key Losses- RP Rollie Seelbach(released), SP Gregg Thomas(FA)

Philadelphia took some steps forward last season for sure. Under owner, Phillies26, this franchise hasn't experienced the success of Jacksonville over the seasons, but they knocked them off in the first round last season.That was a huge step for this franchise since they hadn't made the post season since season 10 before that. Things are definitely looking up for them right now. This was a good team offensively last season. They got on base, they hit for power and they stole bases. Well, they still have good power, still have hitters that can get on base in front of those guys and still have guys that will steal bases. Defensively this team was below average last season. The shortstop isn't great, but he isn't bad either. They could use a better glove in center. Besides that this team is solid at most positions defensively. I would think they are above average defensively. The pitching was this teams Achilles heel last season. They weren't very good. The rotation has it's flaws, but it's not the worst rotation in the league. The addition of Crespo helps, but they lack a couple arms to lead this rotation. They are made up of mostly 3 and 4 starters. The bullpen may have been near the top of the league in saves last season, but they blew 24 saves. That was a lot of leads this pen was asked to protect and they didn't do the best of jobs at it. They have a couple good bullpen arms, but I feel like they could use a couple more. The staff as a whole isn't impressive and this area is something that needs to be addressed if this team wants to become one of the top teams in the NL. Besides the pitching this is a pretty good team. The pitching will make or break the season for this group and is what leads me to think that they won't be able to take the top spot in the division. They could make a run at a wild card spot though.

Cincinnati Firestorm
Season 17 record- 78-84
5 year record- 444-366

Offense- Average-10th(.261), OBP-8th(.330), Slg-8th(.422), Runs-10th(750), HR-5th(223), SB-12th(60)
Defense- Fld %-2nd(.987), Plus Plays-1st(82), Minus Plays-1st(12)
Pitching- ERA-12th(4.43), OAV-8th(.261), SO-7th(1099), Saves-7th(46/65)

Key Additions- C D.T. Brewer(tr-Lou), RP Cam Hogan(FA), SP Travis Bush(FA)
Key Losses- 2B Alex Romero(released), RP Victor Daly(FA)

Last season was a disappointing one for this season. After 3 straight post season appearances this team took a step backwards last season. jbburner, another original Pine Tar owner, has stated that they are looking to get back on track this season. They feel that with the team getting older, this is a pivotal season for them. They also stated that if the team doesn't get off to a strong start that they would consider scrapping it and heading in the direction of rebuilding. They made a few additions in the off season that should help the team out and lost very little in the process. Offensively the team was pretty average last season. The addition of Brewer gives them a good hitter with power to add to the lineup. They have plenty of power on this team and the team looks like a team that should hit better than they did last season. This isn't a great offense, but they should at least be a good offense. Defensively, this team was great. They had gloves and range. The shortstop is good, the centerfielder is great and they have a pretty good 3B as well. They don't have depth defensively, but the starters are really good. This team should be right back near the top again this season. The pitching wasn't very good last season. This was an area of concern for the team, so they added Hogan and Bush. Both are pretty solid pitchers, but aren't top flight guys. The rotation is solid, but they could use a true ace. The bullpen has a couple good arms, but overall it's a weakness. The pitching on this team is about average to slightly below as a group. Cincinnati should bounce back this season. I don't see the offense being as bad as last season and the defense is really good. The pitching is a slight weakness for them, but if the offense improves then they can overcome it. Cincinnati should at least battle for a wild card spot this season and could put some pressure on Jacksonville for the top spot in the division.

Kansas City Kardinals
Season 17 record- 70-92
5 year record- 377-433

Offense- Average-4th(.268), OBP-10th(.328), Slg-6th(.431), Runs-6th(766), HR-7th(212), SB-13th(45)
Defense- Fld %-6th(.985), Plus Plays-5th(59), Minus Plays-9th(37)
Pitching- ERA-14th(4.77), OAV-14th(.279), SO-15th(1044), Saves-12th(42/61)

Key Additions- None
Key Losses- 3B Rafael Encarnacion(FA)

Heading into a 17th season as owner of this franchise, bodean, is looking to get the ship righted in Kansas City. Last season the team dropped 13 wins from the previous season and continued a run of 7 straight seasons without a post season berth. The didn't make any key additions in the off season and lost Encarnacion. That was a big blow for this team. It appears that they are rebuilding as a way of getting this team going the right direction. They do have some talent in the minors, but most of them are a few seasons away from helping at the big league level. Offensively the team wasn't bad last season. They were above average really. They have some good power in the lineup and a few good hitters as well. They should be about the same this season. The defense was above average as well. They have a good shortstop and the centerfielder is solid. I like the gloves on this team and figure they'll finish about the same this season. The pitching wasn't very good for this team last season. They have a few good arms in the rotation and they do have a true ace. The bullpen is below average though. The pitchers on this staff have plenty of stamina and most could start. As a whole the pitching is about average and should do better than last season. This team has fewer weaknesses than the other teams in this division, but their strengths aren't as great as the other teams. I do think they should have a better season, but I don't think they can win this division. They could make a push for a wild card spot just like every team in this division.


This is a tough division to predict. Every team in it should be competitive. Jacksonville is tough and should win the division again. They are just a tough team to pick against because they find ways to win every season. Philadelphia made a significant push last season, but the pitching worries me. They have a shot at a wild card spot, but things are going to have to go right for them. Cincinnati should do better than last season. They have a solid team that could also make a push for a wild card spot, but I don't think they'll take the division. Kansas City is the opposite of Jacksonville for me. I'm going to pick against them because it's the easy thing to do. With only 2 post season appearances ever, they just seem to be the team that can't get to the top of the hill.
1.) Jacksonville
2.) Cincinnati
3.) Philadelphia
4.) Kansas City

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

NL North Season 18 Preview

NL North
It appears that times are changing in this division. A division that for so long has been led by Fargo has now seen Trenton take the last 2 division titles. For Trenton, it was a very successful season as they not only won the division, but won the National league title as well. That team that dominated for so long, Fargo, has now missed the post season for the past 2 seasons and appear well on their way to rebuilding. They still took second in the division, but had their first losing record in team history. Helena has disappointed in each season since winning the franchises first division title back in season 14 as they finished third again. They've seen their win total drop in each of the past 3 seasons now. Iowa City appears to be on the way up in this division. Since that terrible season in season 15, they have improved in each season since under the new ownership. They finished fourth, but are primed to keep moving forward. The division didn't look as strong as usual last season and things are changing in the north as new teams are moving to the front of the pack.

Trenton Thunders
Season 17 record- 96-66(NL North Champs, NL Champs)
5 year record- 408-402

Offense- Average-2nd(.270), OBP-3rd(.337), Slg-12th(.398), Runs-5th(823), HR-14th(153), SB-1st(357)
Defense- Fld %-3rd(.986), Plus Plays-3rd(77), Minus Plays-4th(29)
Pitching- ERA-4th(3.93), OAV-3rd(.242), SO-5th(1134), Saves-1st(57/72)

Key Additions- None
Key Losses- None

Trenton is a team on the move up. Under qtip32, this team started out slow, but the past 3 seasons have been steps in the right direction for them. They finally won the division for the first time in season 16 and followed it up with another title last season to prove it was no fluke. Last season they set a franchise record in victories with 96 and went on to the World Series where they lost to Syracuse. Baby steps. Maybe this season they can get over the top and take it all. They really made no significant moves in the off season, choosing to stick with what worked for them. Why not? The team is made up with 15 first round picks and a couple second round picks. Mix in some IFA's and they have a good base. Offensively they were among the best in the NL last season. The only thing they lacked was power. They haven't changed anything offensively and should finish real close to how they finished last season. They were also a really good defensive team. I don't like the shortstop situation in Trenton, but they have good gloves at most positions. I think they over achieved last season and will probably fall off a bit this season. The pitching was another strength for them last season. They have some real good pitchers on the staff, but most of the starters have lower stamina and won't get deep into games which will stress the bullpen. Good thing for them though is they've got a real good bullpen as well. The pitching staff looks strong and should be pretty good this season. This team is pretty good, but I don't think they are a great team. The defense worries me a bit with them as well as the lack of power. They do seem to have a formula for success so I'm going to say they'll be tough to beat for this division championship. Heck, if they don't win the division then they still would get a wild card as this is a 90+ win team again this season.

Fargo Wood Chippers
Season 17 record- 79-83
5 year record- 439-371

Offense- Average-4th(.268), OBP-8th(.330), Slg-4th(.436), Runs-11th(728), HR-6th(222), SB-16th(14)
Defense- Fld %-6th(.985), Plus Plays-11th(39), Minus Plays-16th(64)
Pitching- ERA-10th(4.31), OAV-13th(.273), SO-3rd(1146), Saves-8th(45/62)

Key Additions- C Orber Beltran(tr-Cha), SP Orlando Nieves(tr-Nas)
Key Losses- C Pablo Maduro(tr-Bos), SP Charles Hayashi(tr-Bos), 2B Pepper Bennett(tr-Bos), RP Ruben Molina(tr-Cha), 3B Dave Thompson(tr-Cha), RP Tom Leonard(tr-Nas), OF/3B Spike Maxwell(FA), SP Roland Sweeney(FA), SP Karim Ontiveros(FA), SS Willie Blank(FA), 3B Omar Siqueiros(FA)

Owner Starbuckdc has stated that this season they are "Burning down the house." I guess that means it's time to rebuild. After 14 division titles in the first 15 seasons, you had to know this day was coming. After missing the post season the past 2 seasons, they've decided that it is now time. Really though, they were starting the rebuild last season. This season though, they've made quite a few trades and let some big free agents walk. The additions were more geared towards future seasons and the losses were as well. They now have 8 picks in the top 81 of the draft. They should be able to add some players that will fill spots nicely in the future. The big picture though is that they saved some money up and should be able to compete for some solid IFA's the next couple seasons to go with some draft picks. Offensively this team was pretty average last season. They could hit well, but didn't score many runs. This season it's a completely different squad. They have some good power in the lineup, but I don't see them hitting enough to really be a threat offensively. I really like the addition of Beltran though as that is a young player that will hit and get on base. The defense was mostly average last season as well and they lacked range. They have an OK shortstop, but no centerfielder. Overall this is a bad defensive team that likely will drop close to the bottom of the league. The pitching was a big disappointment for this team last season. They were below average with some really good pitchers. The losses of Ontiveros and Sweeney really hurt and those guys are irreplaceable. The rotation this season looks bad. I'm actually thinking it may be one of the worst in the league. I like Nieves, but they have little besides him. The bullpen isn't very good either. This pitching staff is in shambles. They are going to give up a lot of runs this season. Overall this team is rebuilding and have many weaknesses. They may be battling for the first pick in next seasons draft, but they won't be in it for the division title this season.

Helena Ass Hats
Season 17 record- 74-88
5 year record- 387-423

Offense- Average-16th(.247), OBP-15th(.309), Slg-13th(.396), Runs-14th(645), HR-9th(194), SB-7th(121)
Defense- Fld %-15th(.981), Plus Plays-7th(52), Minus Plays-14th(55)
Pitching- ERA-9th(4.27), OAV-10th(.266), SO-10th(1080), Saves-3rd(53/75)

Key Additions- RF Don Masato(FA)
Key Losses- SP Russell Wheeler(FA)

moosedrool enters a 14th season running this franchise. In his time here the team has been near the top of the division for most of it and has led the team to 6 post season berths, 1 World championship and 1 division title. While the division titles have been elusive, the team has been competitive more than not. The past 3 seasons has seen the teams victories decline in each of them. Last season was the third worst in franchise history. With Fargo rebuilding, now could be the time to sneak into the top of the division. Surprisingly though, the team did very little in the off season to get to that point. Offensively this team was not very good last season. The addition of Masato adds some power to the lineup though. They do have some good hitters in the lineup, but the depth of that isn't very good. This offense is still lacking a bit and shouldn't improve too much from last season. They weren't very good defensively either. The lack a good shortstop and most positions feature less than average gloves. I don't see the defense improving upon last season. The pitching was average last season. They have a shutdown number 1 starter, but the rest of the rotation isn't very good. The bullpen is a bit less than average as well. This team is another team that appears to be rebuilding and likely won't compete for the division title this season. I don't think they'll be terrible, but 70 wins is probably the goal here.

Iowa City Hawkeyes
Season 17 record- 68-94
5 year record- 304-506

Offense- Average-15th(.251), OBP-16th(.305), Slg-16th(.353), Runs-16th(562), HR-16th(135), SB-9th(93)
Defense- Fld %-6th(.985), Plus Plays-4th(63), Minus Plays-3rd(25)
Pitching- ERA-3rd(3.85), OAV-4th(.253), SO-16th(1016), Saves-15th(40/51)

Key Additions- 3B Kory Garland(FA), CF Spike Maxwell(FA), RF Julio Owen(FA), SP Deivi Valentin(FA)
Key Losses- SP Tony Ramirez(FA), RP Farmer Davis(FA)

Iowa City is a team to watch this season. Entering a third season at the helm, tk21775 has seen an opening in the division and made some moves to improve this club in the off season. They gained more than they lost in the off season. Management has stated that this was the season that they circled on the calendar when taking over as the season to make moves to put themselves in contention. This is one team that took advantage of the deep free agent pool. The spent some big money and went after some type A players to try and take the division crown for the first time in franchise history. Offensively is where this team needed help. The were terrible last season. They added some power to the lineup with Maxwell and Garland. Owen should hit well for them as well. This lineup is much better than last season, but I'm not ready to call it a threatening lineup yet. They should however be an upper half of the league offense. They also have some speed and will likely lean on that to win games this season. The defense was above average last season and a strength of the team. I really like this defense. They may be one of the better d's in the NL this season. The pitching was pretty good last season as well. The rotation is pretty solid. Not great, but solid. The bullpen features a couple really good arms as well. Over the past few seasons, they've really added some nice young arms coming up through the system. Even though they won't help this season, the staff has a solid base for when they do arrive and this team will continue to get better. This is a greatly improved team this season and should be real tough. They could even take the division this season, but if not then this is a wild card contender for sure. They have some holes, but those holes are closing.

Wow have things changed in this division. The 2 teams that were regularly at the bottom are the 2 that will battle it out for the top spot this season. Trenton is a good team as they proved last season and will be tough to knock from the top. Iowa City is a team on the rise and should give Trenton a real battle for the top spot. Fargo is a team rebuilding and not really focusing as much on this season as they are on a few seasons down the road. Helena is another team that isn't going to contend this season and is more focused on the future. I'm sure my predictions here will be bulletin board fodder for the team that I don't pick to win it.

1.) Iowa City
2.) Trenton
3.) Helena
4.) Fargo

Monday, December 26, 2011

AL West Season 18 Previews

AL West
This is the division that's hard to predict. There has been very little consistency from any team in this division. Not surprising since there hasn't been much consistency in ownership. By needing another new owner in this division this season, there has now been 30 different owners for the division in 18 seasons. Recently it has been getting better though and this division should start seeing some stability if it remains that way. Since season 10 the team in Anaheim has been competitive and always real close to 80 wins, but after a 3 season run of division championships that ended in season 13, the team has yet to make it back to the post season. They tied for the division lead last season, but lost by virtue of the tie breaker. The franchise in St Louis hasn't had that kind of success, but have been improving the win total each season for 4 straight seasons and ended up taking their first division title in franchise history last season and 2nd post season appearance. The team in Salem hasn't been very competitive for the most part of the franchises history, but after back to back division titles they took a tumble last season to third place. The franchise in Vancouver has new ownership now after the previous owner led the team to their second worst record in their history. It's hard to imagine that this team won the division just 4 seasons ago, but things have gone down hill since. With the first pick in the upcoming draft it'll be a good start to rebuild this team for the new owner.
St Louis Arch Angels
Season 17 record- 82-80(AL West Champs)
5 year record- 325-485

Offense- Average-16th(.249), OBP-15th(.320), Slg-16th(.378), Runs-15th(707), HR-16th(152), SB-1st(277)
Defense- Fld %-6th(.986), Plus Plays-6th(82), Minus Plays-4th(17)
Pitching- ERA-4th(4.50), OAV-4th(.262), SO-11th(1019), Saves-11th(43/60)

Key Additions- SP Jeffrey Rivera(FA), 3B Robert Tannehill(FA), SP Jim Kelly(promoted)
Key Losses- SP Esteban Villa(FA), RP Julio Lorenzo(FA), RP Cam Hogan(FA)

In just a third season at the helm in St Louis, Flucie, took this team to their first ever division title. After this franchise seen 7 owners in 7 seasons, this owner seems to have brought some stability to the franchise. That has helped them improve to where they are now. Only a second post season berth in the franchise history should show where this franchise was before. It's been bad. That really appears to be changing. It's surprising that this team was so good last season considering the offense. The offense was bottom of the league bad. They had very little power last season and this season will be much of the same. They didn't hit very well at all last season. They aren't built offensively to be a threat. They will rely on their top speed as they led the league in steals last season and should do so again. The defense was above average last season. Despite a lack of range for centerfield, they could be even better this season. The defense looks impressive. The pitching was above average last season. The promotion of Kelly will make them better. I also like the addition of Rivera. The rotation isn't especially strong, but they are at least an average rotation. The bullpen is about average. They blew some saves last season that hurt and I feel like the could use a better closer. This team has made some additions that make them better, but I wonder if they didn't over achieve last season. The weaknesses are glaring. In this division they could get by with those weaknesses though. This is a winnable division for this team. If they don't win the division then a wild card will be hard for them to attain.

Anaheim Annihilation
Season 17 record- 82-80
5 year record- 411-399

Offense- Average-8th(.273), OBP-6th(.343), Slg-9th(.440), Runs-8th(842), HR-8th(231), SB-8th(97)
Defense- Fld %-3rd(.988), Plus Plays-8th(50), Minus Plays-7th(39)
Pitching- ERA-5th(4.52), OAV-2nd(.256), SO-3rd(1098), Saves-14th(38/55)

Key Additions- 2B Alex Romero(FA), OF Alberto Machado(FA)
Key Losses- RP Harry Gonzalez(FA), SP Vinny Evans(FA), 2B Preston Williams(FA)

The owner in Anaheim is entering a third season running the organization. With 80 wins the first season and 82 last season, they've been on the verge of making the post season, but have fallen short each season. It's been since season 9 since the franchise has had a truly bad season. They've been at the top or close to it in every season since. Offensively this team was really average last season. They finished near the middle of the league in almost every category. The addition of Machado adds some power to the lineup. They should finish better in the power numbers. The hitting still looks pretty average besides that though. The defense was one of the better D's in the league last season. I don't see that happening again. The have a really good shortstop and Billingsly could play centerfield, but if not then they don't have a centerfielder. The defense doesn't look good to me really. I think they could be a bottom half of the league defensive team. They finished in the upper half of the league in pitching last season. The loss of Evans hurts a little, but youngster Diego Benitez should be in the rotation this season and he looks like a really good starter. The rotation is good. It's not great, but they are above average for sure. The bullpen isn't bad, but they aren't where the rotation is. Actually the bullpen could hurt this team. Overall this is a good team with some weaknesses. They should challenge for the division title, but they aren't one of the top teams in the AL and likely wouldn't get a wild card.

Salem Reg
Season 17 record- 79-83
5 year record- 390-420

Offense- Average-6th(.279), OBP-5th(.345), Slg-11th(.430), Runs-10th(827), HR-12th(198), SB-4th(170)
Defense- Fld %-9th(.983), Plus Plays-7th(70), Minus Plays-6th(29)
Pitching- ERA-10th(4.93), OAV-6th(.265), SO-15th(969), Saves-12th(40/54)

Key Additions- 1B Quilvio Cordero(FA), 2B Preston Williams(FA), OF/1B Zeke Decker(FA), SP J.C. Cox(FA), 1B Alejandro Torres(FA), SP Luis Rijo(FA)
Key Losses- CF Patrick Jefferson(released), OF/2B Luke Ryan(FA), SP Benji Crespo(FA), SP Jeffrey Rivera(FA), RP Carlton Harding(FA), 1B Miguel Pichardo(FA), SP Al Rivers(FA)

After taking over this team in season 15, bobswagger91, launched them to the top of the division. Then repeated that feat the next season to give the team 3 division titles in their history. Last season though, they dropped off to third in what was a disappointing season. They didn't find themselves too far off of the division title, but they still finished behind 2 other teams. Offensively last season they hit well, but lacked pop and didn't score runs at a high pace. They had a lot of turnover in the off season and offensively is one spot that seen big changes. They do have some power now with the addition of Cordero and his 45 homers from last season. Zeke Decker has some power too. The problem is that they aren't very good hitters outside of the long ball. The addition of Torres and Williams give them more players that can get on base. I like this offense and think they could finish in the upper part of the league. Defensively this team was average last season. The loss of Jefferson doesn't help. They have a pretty good shortstop, but lack a good defender in centerfield.
I think this team is below average on defense. This could be something that hurts them this season. The pitching was a killer for this team last season. That is another area of big turnover for them. Rijo and Cox should do better than the guys they lost. They rotation is about average. The bullpen has some solid arms, but the depth isn't there. The pitching staff as a whole looks about average to me. This team is an average team that should contend for the division title this season. Like the other teams in the division though, they aren't a top of the league team. They have weaknesses that stand out and aren't a strong team all around. I don't think they can take a wild card spot, but they should battle for the division title.

Vancouver Canucks
Season 17 record- 55-107
5 year record- 376-434

Offense- Average-13th(.263), OBP-12th(.331), Slg-14th(.404), Runs-14th(730), HR-15th(172), SB-7th(104)
Defense- Fld %-14th(.979), Plus Plays-9th(49), Minus Plays-8th(41)
Pitching- ERA-16th(6.14), OAV-16th(.292), SO-9th(1022), Saves-16th(33/48)

Key Additions- SP Gregg Thomas(FA), 1B Will McCarthy(FA), RP D.T. Woodson(FA), RP Esteban Dotel(FA), CF Chul Zhang(FA), 3B Omar Siqueiros(FA)
Key Losses- OF O.T. Munson(FA), 1B Jim Byrne(FA), OF Rob Lee(FA)

This is the one team in the division that needed a new owner this season. Stepping in is skplayer07, and lucky for them they walk into the 1st pick in this seasons draft. The team has been going south the past few seasons since winning the division championship and bottomed out last season. With that, the previous owner was no longer interested in trying to right the ship. Offensively this was a bad team that lacked power and the ability to just get on base. They still lack power, but I like the additions they've made. McCarthy and Siqueiros can still hit and Zhang can get on base. They aren't a great hitting team by any means, but they are better than last season. Unfortunately, that isn't saying much. I think they are a below average team offensively. Defensively the team wasn't much better. They lack a true fielding shortstop and centerfielder. They do have solid gloves in other positions though. That could help them move up defensively. The lack of good gloves at those key positions stops them from being a good defensive team though. The pitching was real bad last season. The good thing is they can't get much worse. The addition of Thomas will help the rotation. The rotation isn't bad, but they lack good control for most of the guys. They should be better than last season there. The additions of Woodson and Dotel add depth to the bullpen. Overall though it is a less than spectacular pen. The staff isn't good, but they aren't terrible. I think this team is in the start of a rebuild and any improvement over last season is a good sign for them. This club doesn't have much of a chance at winning the division this season, but it's a weak division and anything could happen. They are better off rebuilding and planning for a few seasons down the road. With the first pick this season they could get a jump start on that.


I don't really like to tear teams down and try to put positive spins on things, but this division is winnable by all teams. St Louis won the division last season, but I don't think they are quite a great team that should dominate and stay on top. They should be good though and will be tough to knock from the top. Anaheim will battle for that top spot and really I think they are a better team overall than St Louis. Salem isn't a bad team either and could challenge for that top spot. The thing is that they don't look as good on paper as they were last season in what was a disappointing season. Vancouver is a team that should be rebuilding and aren't quite with the rest of the division. It would take quite a bit to go right for them to get to the top of the division.

1.) Anaheim
2.) St Louis
3.) Salem
4.) Vancouver

Sunday, December 25, 2011

AL South Season 18 Previews

AL South
This division has seen the dominance of the team in Nashville take over for the past 6 seasons now. After not winning the division in the first 11 seasons, they have gone on to be one of the more dominant teams in the AL since. They won the division by an amazing 33 games over the second place team last season. San Juan finished second and improved their win total for a third straight season. They are a team that has never won the division crown and last season under new ownership are hoping to have the direction to keep moving forward. After appearing to be on the rise, New Orleans took a step backward last season by finishing with 9 less victories than season 16. It's been since season 4 that they won the division and they now haven't had a winning record since season 10. This is a team that's overdue for a big season. Tampa Bay was the team dominating this division before Nashville took over that. After 7 straight division titles, they've now gone 6 seasons without a post season berth. Last season was the worst season in franchise history and their first fourth place finish. After 15 seasons without a losing record, the past 2 seasons haven't been so kind. This franchise has clearly decided to go the rebuild route in hopes to become that dominant team they once were.

Nashville Nalas
Season 17 record- 109-53(AL South Champs)
5 year record- 538-272

Offense- Average-1st(.298), OBP-1st(.371), Slg-2nd(.477), Runs-1st(1029), HR-8th(231), SB-3rd(185)
Defense- Fld %-1st(.993), Plus Plays-3rd(92), Minus Plays-1st(7)
Pitching- ERA-2nd(3.92), OAV-2nd(.256), SO-7th(1060), Saves-2nd(61/80)

Key Additions- C Stretch Wilkinson(tr-Dov), RP Raul Santiago(tr-Dov), RP Tom Leonard(tr-Far)
Key Losses- OF Julio Owen(FA), RP Flip Buck(FA), 1B John Pong(tr-Dov)

Owner bnags enters a 12th season in control of this team. While things didn't start out merry in Nashville, this team has been ho ho ho hot the past 6 seasons. Yeah, it's Christmas, so I had to throw that in there. Surprisingly, the team has only won 1 world series in that run. Last season they won 100 games for a fourth straight season and tied for the best record in the AL, but came up short in the ALCS for a second season in a row. It's hard to say disappointing with this team, but they are built to win championships and that just hasn't happened as often as I would expect from them. The biggest off season moves they made were through trades. The trade of Pong was a good one for the team, but they lose a fantastic hitter and some serious power in the lineup. Offensively this team has been the pace setter in the AL for a while now. Scoring 1000 runs is no easy task and they do it consistently. They didn't have much power last season and it looks like that will be down after the trade on Pong. This team has some great hitting though and should still score a lot of runs. Defensively, Nashville was one of the best in the AL last season. They are still stacked defensively and should be right at the top again. The pitching was pretty good last season as well. The rotation features 3 stud pitchers and a couple other solid starters. The loss of Buck out of the pen hurts, but the additions of Santiago and Leonard will ease the pain. Overall it's still a really good staff and top 5 in the AL should be expected. Nashville is going to be really tough again this season and 100 wins should be attainable. The question will be if they can win it all this season. I think they'll put up a good fight for sure.

San Juan Pollos Hermanos
Season 17 record- 76-86
5 year record- 332-478

Offense- Average-6th(.279), OBP-3rd(.348), Slg-8th(.456), Runs-2nd(927), HR-7th(232), SB-12th(65)
Defense- Fld %-4th(.987), Plus Plays-5th(88), Minus Plays-3rd(14)
Pitching- ERA-12th(5.07), OAV-9th(.277), SO-1st(1108), Saves-14th(38/57)

Key Additions- RP Carlton Harding(FA), RP Samuel Dellaero(FA), SP Esteban Villa(FA)
Key Losses- RP Phil Krause(FA)

soxfan_9 is entering a second season in control of this team. The franchise has lacked a division title in their history and has only 1 playoff appearance. They've been moving up the past few seasons and could be a contender for a post season spot this season if that continues. They made some big additions in free agency and lost little. With some good young players on the team it's obvious that the plan is to let them grow and see what they got. Offensively this team ranked in the upper half of the league last season. The were average in power last season, and just above average in average, but scored a lot of runs. They do have some power, but this is an average power hitting team. They also appear average in hitting again and I think it'll be tough for them to repeat the success of scoring that many runs again. This team is just about average offensively. Defensively this was one of the better teams in the AL last season. I still like this defense. They have real good fielders in center and at shortstop. With average fielders everywhere else, this team should still be pretty good defensively. The pitching last season wasn't too good. They finished near the bottom in pitching last season. The rotation is solid and they have a good 1-2 top of the rotation. I really like the bullpen this season. The additions of Harding and Dellaero solidify that. This bullpen should be pretty good. I like the pitching staff. Overall, the team has improved and if the pitching is better, which it should be, then this team should contend for a post season spot. Right now, I don't think they can contend for the division, but a wild card spot shouldn't be out of reach.

New Orleans Nighthawks
Season 17 record- 71-91
5 year record- 376-434

Offense- Average-14th(.261), OBP-14th(.325), Slg-12th(.427), Runs-13th(781), HR-10th(221), SB-6th(118)
Defense- Fld %-11th(.982), Plus Plays-3rd(92), Minus Plays-11th(47)
Pitching- ERA-13th(5.20), OAV-14th(.287), SO-13th(1010), Saves-7th(45/57)

Key Additions- SP Gregory Watson(FA), 1B Jamie May(FA), RP Victor Daly(FA), CF Braden Fussell(promoted)
Key Losses- RP Wilfredo Cortazar(released), 1B Brent James(released)

The owner of this franchise, larryvegas, couldn't have been too happy with his team this past season. After they had made progress in each of the previous 2 seasons, they took a step back last season. Still looking for the first winning record in this owners tenure, they went out and made some free agent signings to try and bolster some weaknesses. Offensively last season this team was bottom of the league. They didn't hit well and showed a lack of power. That's surprising because they have some power on this team. The hitting wasn't much of a surprise though because that is what they lack. The addition of May will help that, but they could use some more hitters that can get on base in front of these power hitters. Defensively this team finished in the lower half of the league last season, but showed plenty of range to get to the balls. The defense should be better than that and I'd say just above average. They do have plenty of range though. The pitching also was below average last season. The rotation has some solid pitchers in it and the addition of Watson adds some depth to that. George Eaton is a great closer. The bullpen as a whole isn't bad but average outside of Eaton. The pitching staff should be better than last season. This team has some weaknesses, but they aren't bad. I'd say this is at least an average team that should get close to 80 wins and if things fall in line for them could challenge for a wild card spot.

Tampa Bay Thunder
Season 17 record- 69-93
5 year record- 415-395

Offense- Average-15th(.250), OBP-16th(.315), Slg-15th(.393), Runs-16th(682), HR-14th(177), SB-5th(136)
Defense- Fld %-7th(.985), Plus Plays-15th(27), Minus Plays-14th(55)
Pitching- ERA-7th(4.74), OAV-11th(.279), SO-2nd(1105), Saves-6th(46/60)

Key Additions- OF Cristobal Mairena(tr-Dov), RP Tony Perez(promoted)
Key Losses- RP Erubiel Bennett(FA), OF Will McCarthy(FA)

As one of the original owners, rxw1, had to know last season was coming. This franchise has been a winning franchise for so long that a rebuild needed to come sooner or later. Last season marked a franchise low in victories and a fourth season in a row that the win total has dropped. It appears that getting younger is this franchises goal. They have some really young players on the ML squad now and a few more promising young players that should be coming up soon from the minors. Last season this team was bad offensively. They ranked near the bottom of the league in most offensive categories. Young slugger Robert Wallace will get some serious time this season that will help add to the offense. They have some good offensive players and should be better than last season. It's still not great, but they do look better and should be closer to average. Defensively this team was average, but lacked range. I think we'll see about the same from this club this season. The pitching last season was about average. Young starter Claude Collins should be much better than his numbers indicated. The rotation looks pretty good to me. If nothing else the top of the rotation is really good with some average starters after that. The bullpen looks pretty solid as well. I would think this is a top 5 staff, but last season didn't look that way. Overall this isn't a bad team. The way the AL is looking this season the wild card race could be up for grabs and this team could make a push for that. My guess is that they won't take it, but they should have a better season than last. With a few additions this team could really make a push, but I'm going to say that right now as it stands they won't.


This division is looking like it may end up the same as last season. Nashville is a force to be reckoned with and should run away with the division again and make a push for the AL title. San Juan is getting better, but not quite there with Nashville yet although they could find themselves in the post season. New Orleans needs things to fall in line to get to the post season, but I don't see that happening this season. Tampa Bay isn't as bad as last seasons record indicates, but I don't think they make that push this season.
1.) Nashville
2.) San Juan
3.) New Orleans
4.) Tampa Bay

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

AL East Season 18 Previews

AL East
The east has been led by the franchise formerly in Atlanta the past four seasons. Surprisingly, the ownership of that team left Pine Tar on the heels of another post season let down. The new ownership moved the team to Pittsburgh and will try to continue the winning ways. Boston moved up in the division last season to tie for 2nd place and had the franchises first winning record since season 12 win they won the division for the only time. That franchise has had many owners with little stability over the seasons, but the owner now will tie as the longest owner in franchise history. Chicago also tied for 2nd, but finished in third by tiebreakers. This franchise has struggled recently, since once dominating this division. Last season was a huge step forward, as they had their first winning record since the domi days. In Durham, they may have finished last, but they won 79 games in what has become a pretty tough division. They showed that they may be coming along and ready to enter the picture as a threat to win the division.

Pittsburgh Psychics
 Season 17 record- 86-76(AL East Champs)
5 year record- 453-357

Offense- Average-11th(.269), OBP-9th(.338), Slg-6th(.464), Runs-4th(875), HR-4th(272), SB-11th(73)
Defense- Fld %-9th(.983), Plus Plays-13th(39), Minus Plays-16th(70)
Pitching- ERA-3rd(4.37), OAV-4th(.262), SO-5th(1066), Saves-4th(50/59)

Key Additions- RP Phil Gardner(FA), RP Erubiel Bennett(FA)
Key Losses- SS Jorge Lopez(released), OF Alberto Machado(FA), RP Bobby Ray Tewksbury(FA), SP J.C. Cox(FA)

In a rare move, the former ownership left this team while on top of the division. I was shocked to see that happen, but I believe we have a good replacement owner in blues_bros. With only 24 seasons experience that is a bit misleading because 21 of those have come from one world where this owner has shown periods of good success. With that said, blues_bros is taking over a team that has been one of the better teams in the AL over the past 4 seasons. The problem has been in the post season where they have continually fell flat on their face. Maybe the change in ownership can get them past that. Last season this team was a mixed bag offensively. Hitting and getting on base they were slightly below average, but they were one of the better power teams and could score runs. The loss of Machado hurts, but they still have plenty of offense to make up for it. They look like they should hit a bit better than last season and still have some power. I think the averages being down last season was just bad luck and things could swing the other way this season. I like the offense they have and rank them near the top of the league. The defense wasn't very good last season. I like the shortstop on this team, but I think they lack a good centerfielder which hurts in the outfield. The gloves are average, but they lack range at most positions. The pitching staff however, was one of the best in the league last season. The rotation is solid and I would say they are above average. The loss of Cox isn't too bad for this squad. The bullpen was upgraded in the off season and appears to be good as well. This isn't the best pitching staff in the AL, but it is a good one. Pittsburgh should be tough to knock off the perch this season in the east as they have a good team.

Chicago Wind Tunnel
Season 17 record- 83-79
5 year record- 348-462

Offense- Average-10th(.270), OBP-13th(.328), Slg-13th(.423), Runs-11th(814), HR-13th(194), SB-2nd(188)
Defense- Fld %-16th(.977), Plus Plays-16th(19), Minus Plays-10th(46)
Pitching- ERA-6th(4.65), OAV-12th(.282), SO-6th(1062), Saves-9th(44/50)

Key Additions- None
Key Losses- SP Deivi Valentin(FA), RP Esteban Gonzalez(FA)

Chicago is a team that has been in a bit of a rebuild for a while now and should start showing the benefits of that. They made a huge leap in wins last season with 18 more victories than the previous season and will try to build on that. Most of the talent on this team is young and will continue to get better and it looks like they have more help on the way from the minors soon. Last season they had a below average offense. They didn't hit well and showed little power. They did have some good speed though. It looks like much of the same this season, but that could change depending on if they rush some of the young talent up to the big leagues. Defensively I would say this was the worst team in the AL last season. The lack of a true shortstop and centerfielder hurts this team. Really, they lack a good glove for most positions in the field. I don't see much help with that in the minors. This team could finish at or near the bottom defensively again. Even with the bad defense behind them, the pitching was respectable last season. They finished above average and rarely blew saves. Looking at the rotation though, I'm not impressed. They lack much control, but they do have some good pitches to throw. I think it is an average rotation and really the rotation was average last season as well. The bullpen was this teams strength last season. The loss of Gonzalez hurts, but they still have their closer, who blew 0 saves last season while closing out 33 of them. The late season promotion of Tony Zapata helps ease the loss of Gonzalez. I think the bullpen overall should be fine this season, but I don't think they'll be as dominant as last season. Overall, I think this is still a team on the rise, but not quite there yet. They have too many weaknesses to compete for the division crown, but I don't think they are far off from being in the mix.

Boston Pilgrims
Season 17 record- 83-79
5 year record- 359-451

Offense- Average-4th(.281), OBP-7th(.342), Slg-10th(.439), Runs-12th(813), HR-11th(217), SB-13th(62)
Defense- Fld %-4th(.987), Plus Plays-2nd(93), Minus Plays-5th(18)
Pitching- ERA-14th(5.25), OAV-13th(.284), SO-16th(936), Saves-12th(40/51)

Key Additions- C Pablo Maduro(tr-Far), SP Charles Hayashi(tr-Far), 2B Pepper Sanders(tr-Far)
Key Losses- CF Chul Zhang(released), RP Wascar Ortiz(released), OF Marc Whitaker(released)

Owner kjmulli moves into a fourth season as owner of this franchise and with one more will become the longest tenured owner in franchise history. While the first couple seasons in control weren't anything to be happy about, that all changed last season. They improved by 16 victories over season 16's total and finally became a threat to the division crown. They made some bold trades this off season to try and make that final leap to the top and didn't lose as much as they gained. This is really a young team and should continue to get better. Offensively last season this team hit good, but lacked homeruns and the ability to score. That's odd considering they have a couple of the better young power hitters in the league with Rico Tatis and  Houston Baptist. The additions of Sanders and Maduro will help the hitting on this team even more. I think they have a well rounded lineup this season, but right now I'll rank them slightly above average. Defensively this team was one of the better teams in the league last season. They still look pretty good to me. They should finish near the top of the AL again this season. This teams problem last season was pitching and had it not been for the defense they could have been worse. The addition of Hayashi helps, but I don't think it is enough. The rotation could use an infusion of talent. I don't see much in the minors to help the rotation out so it may have to be through other means. The bullpen isn't as bad, but they aren't top of the league either. The pitching as a whole is not good and clearly a weakness. Overall this team has some good young offense and defense, but the lack of pitching brings them back to the pack. I think they'll battle for the top spot in the division and possibly even a wild card spot. If they get better pitching then they could become a real threat, but that may happen over the next few seasons.

Durham Doormats
Season 17 record- 79-83
5 year record- 369-441

Offense- Average-2nd(.285), OBP-3rd(.348), Slg-1st(.493), Runs-4th(875), HR-1st(298), SB-14th(53)
Defense- Fld %-12th(.981), Plus Plays-11th(41), Minus Plays-15th(64)
Pitching- ERA-15th(5.41), OAV-15th(.290), SO-8th(1051), Saves-7th(45/64)

Key Additions- RP Pedro Herrera(promoted), 2B Francisco Bonilla(promoted), DH Brett Wilkerson(promoted), C Pep Pride(promoted)
Key Losses- 1B Vic Newman(FA), 3B Francisco James(FA), RP Danny Koch(FA)

alogman1 has now been in control of this team for 9 seasons and it's mostly been below average, but competitive. A jump in win total last season of 10 games is encouraging for this team, but the question is if they can make the jump in a winnable division. Most of this teams off season additions were from within. Offensively this team was awesome last season. That's part of playing in Durham. They batted a .302 at home last season with 156 homers compared with .269 and 142 on the road. Don't get me wrong though, this team has a really good offense. They have good power hitters and good overall hitters. This is a really good offense in Durham and the 3 young players they promoted add to that. Defensively this team wasn't very good last season. They have a really good shortstop, but they lack good gloves at most other positions. This team looks like a team that will finish near the bottom defensively again. The pitching was really bad last season. The rotation isn't very good, but they have a couple decent arms. The bullpen is better than the rotation, but it is just average. They could use more pitching for sure and they could get that in the next couple seasons from within. They have a few pretty good pitchers in the minors that are a few seasons off from helping. This team has a dynamite offense, but defense and pitching hurts them. That is a couple weaknesses that are tough to overcome in a good division. I think the offense will win them some games, but I don't think they are ready to battle it out for the top spot in the division yet.

Pittsburgh still has a good team, but the other teams in this division are getting better by the season. They still seem to have the fewest weaknesses in the division and they are my pick for the top spot again. Boston is a team on the rise and may only be a couple seasons from being the team to beat in the east. They should battle for the top spot, but I think they'll fall short. They should battle for a wild card spot and could take one of them. Chicago still isn't quite there yet, but they are another team in this division on the way up. I think they have too many weaknesses to battle for the top spot this season. Durham has the offense, but what they have in offense they lack in pitching. This team is also moving up and this division could take over the dominance that the North has and be just as dominant in the near future.

1.) Pittsburgh
2.) Boston
3.) Chicago
4.) Durham

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

AL North Season 18 preview

Well I'm back for another season of blogging the previews. Some more giving the good teams praise, tearing down the bad teams hopes and dreams, and well, just previewing the mediocre bunch. It's always fun times for me, even though the previews take quite a bit of time to get out. I have decided to go back to my old style as I favored it over the changes I made last season. Plus it was a bit quicker to get done and still to the point. I hope everyone enjoys them and doesn't get their feelings hurt too much. It's all in fun and if I give you a bad review you can just let me know that I really don't know crap about this game anyway, based on my 0 World Series titles.  
AL North
Seriously? Ok, this division is really starting to get on my nerves now. They seemed like they were taking a step back last season by actually letting other teams in the league think they had shots at the wild card spots. Really they were only toying with those other teams. Once again the division was led by that dominant team in Syracuse. Not only did they win the division for a seventh season in a row, but they became the first team in Pine Tar history to win back to back championships. I do believe that after my previews last season the owner of that team said that I had too much faith in their team. Oh, was I so right though. Yes, that's right, I was RIGHT. That owner was recently voted into our Owner Hall of Fame and I think they should be disqualified for questioning my abilities to predict there fortunes. Seriously though, that team was tough last season. Hartford, a team under new ownership continued the regular season wild card success that they've enjoyed now for the past seven seasons and made the post season for a 14th straight season. What an awesome run. Milwaukee also made the post season as a wild card for a seventh straight season. Yes, you did see that correct. This division has sent both wild card teams to the post season for 7 straight seasons. Unfortunately for the wild card teams, it's always the same two. They just can't get over the hump and take the division. The team in Minnesota was sold to new ownership in the off season as the previous owner must have given up trying in this division. They've now moved to Dover and after another season of increasing the win total are looking to make it back to the post season after missing for the past 7 seasons.

Syracuse Snow Pirates
Season 17 record- 109-53(AL North Champs, World Series Champs)
5 year record- 532-278

Offense- Average-9th(.272), OBP-10th(.337), Slg-5th(.466), Runs-8th(842), HR-2nd(286), SB-15th(50)
Defense- Fld %-2nd(.991), Plus Plays-1st(101), Minus Plays-2nd(11)
Pitching- ERA-1st(3.22), OAV-1st(.230), SO-4th(1086), Saves-1st(62/68)

Key Additions- CF Enos Jones(FA), RP Felipe Lee(FA)
Key Losses- 3B/OF Kory Garland(FA)

After taking home the championship the past 2 seasons the fans of this franchise have high expectations. They have now won the title 3 times in the past 5 seasons and been to the World Series in 4 of the past 5 seasons. They've also won 100 games in 6 of the last 7 seasons. This franchise has been the franchise that other teams have measured themselves against over that time. Hall of Fame owner prezuiwf sure has figured out how to keep it going in Syracuse even though they are starting to worry about how much longer than can keep it up. Ownership stated that financial problems led to the loss of Garland this off season and they also worry about some of the stars of this team that are getting older. They are expected to bring up Don Aoki to inject a little bit into an offense that really has got it done the past few seasons. Yes, I said it, even the World Champs have issues. The offense has been just average lately. They have power, but the power hitters in the lineup aren't reliable hitters. Overall, this offense looks still average to me. They aren't bad, but they really need to have good seasons for this team to repeat again. Defensively, this team is at the top of the league every season. The really know how to build a defense in Syracuse. The fielding is great once again this season and every pitcher loves the benefit of a good defense. Speaking of pitching, Syracuse has plenty of good pitching. The rotation is unreal. The stamina for the rotation is low, but when they throw strikes and get outs they'll still get deep into games. They have a phenomenal bullpen to back the starters up though. This pitching staff is built to win games for them even without the big scoring offense. Syracuse looks like a top team again this season and even though the offense isn't great, they don't really need it to be. If the offense remains average then Syracuse could end up with a 3peat.

Hartford HuntersSeason 17 record- 85-77(Wild Card)
5 year record- 468-342

Offense- Average-3rd(.284), OBP-2nd(.351), Slg-4th(.467), Runs-7th(862), HR-5th(246), SB-16th(49)
Defense- Fld %-14th(.979), Plus Plays-11th(41), Minus Plays-11th(47)
Pitching- ERA-9th(4.81), OAV-10th(.278), SO-12th(1013), Saves-3rd(53/69)

Key Additions- None
Key Losses- RP Felipe Lee(FA)

Under the new ownership of Batboys last season, this team still found themselves in the post season with another wild card berth. The negative for this team was that they have dropped in win total each of the past 3 seasons. Ultimately it didn't matter. They took second in the division which was a step up from the previous season. They relied heavily on the offense to carry them last season and finished near the top of the league in most offensive categories. Having a team that plays half their games in the offensive park in Hartford, that is a good strategy. They don't really have much power on the team, but in that park they can get away with it and still produce some good power numbers from average power hitters. They do have some good hitters in the lineup though. The lineup they can produce is much better than average and could do well in most parks anyway as evidence of their .289 road average from last season shows. They also hit just below half of the teams homers on the road. Maybe the hitters park isn't as much an advantage as led to believe. Where it hurt though was the pitching. The staff only allowed opponents to hit .270 on the road and had a 4.31 ERA away from home last season compared to .286/ 5.30. The pitching staff isn't bad. They have some good starters in the rotation and a few good arms in the pen. The fielding surely didn't help the pitchers last season though. They finished near the bottom of the league. They really lack good fielders at most positions and the range at the key positions just isn't there. This team will have to lean heavily on the offense this season again, but the pitching could do better than the results showed last season. The defense likely won't allow that to happen. I believe this is a playoff contender again, but they'll have to battle it out to make it, again.

Milwaukee Cream Citys
Season 17 record- 84-78(Wild Card)
5 year record- 463-347

Offense- Average-5th(.280), OBP-8th(.341), Slg-8th(.463), Runs-6th(865), HR-6th(239), SB-10th(77)
Defense- Fld %-12th(.981), Plus Plays-10th(46), Minus Plays-9th(44)
Pitching- ERA-8th(4.75), OAV-7th(.267), SO-14th(992), Saves-4th(50/63)

Key Additions- SP Kenny Hogan(FA), 2B/ OF O.T. Munson(FA), RP Esteban Gonzalez(FA),  SP Jose Bravo(FA)
Key Losses- 2B Chin-Hui Wanatabe(FA)

In the 15 seasons for this franchise under the ownership of jquick1, they have always been competitive. While they weren't where they are now, you can always count on the ownership to make moves to try and win now. That has led them to the post season for 7 straight seasons and 8 out of the past 10. They still haven't won a division title, but they are always a threat. The went out this post season and made some signings that should help boost the team from last seasons worst record since season 7. Munson is a solid bat with a good glove. Hogan has been a solid starter in his career that should fit nicely at the back end of the rotation or in long relief. Gonzalez has been a really good setup man the past couple seasons and Jose Bravo has struggled recently, but if he can find the stuff that made him an 18 game winner 3 seasons ago then that could be a big signing. Offensively, this team doesn't have a big power hitter, but they have guys throughout the lineup that can hit homers which will keep them above average in the longball department.
They have some really good hitters on the team, which is why they finished near the top of the AL in average and should again. Last season the team finished less than average defensively. They have some good gloves on the team, but I think it depends on how much the better gloves are able to get into the lineup on if they finish any better this season. The pitching staff is solid, but most of the better arms are bullpen guys. The rotation could use a boost, but I don't think they are bad. They just don't match up with the top rotations in the league. The bullpen was among the league leaders in saves last season and they should be again. When the game is on the line this bullpen should lock it down most of the time. Milwaukee is a good team, but not great. I don't think they have what it takes to win the division and like Hartford could find themselves battling for a post season spot. They should finish close to the win total they had last season.

Dover Dinklebergs
Season 17 record- 78-84
5 year record- 345-465

Offense- Average-12th(.265), OBP-11th(.334), Slg-3rd(.469), Runs-3rd(876), HR-3rd(280), SB-9th(81)
Defense- Fld %-8th(.984), Plus Plays-13th(39), Minus Plays-13th(52)
Pitching- ERA-11th(4.96), OAV-8th(.275), SO-10th(1021), Saves-9th(44/61)

Key Additions- 1B John Pong(tr-Nas), SS Miguel Manzanillo(FA), SP Vinny Evans(FA), 3B Francisco James(FA), SP Karim Ontiveros(FA), SS David Prieto(FA), 1B/ DH Armando Mota(Promoted)
Key Losses- SP Kenny Hogan(FA), OF Don Masato(released), RP Jose Ontiveros(released), 1B Quilvio Cordero(released),  C Stretch Wilkinson(tr-Nas), RP Raul Santiago(tr-Nas), OF/1B Cristobal Mairena(tr-TB)

With new ownership comes change. tmfran takes over a struggling team that has been on the way up the past couple of seasons and made some drastic changes to the roster. Offensively the team hit for power last season, but struggled to get on base. They still have plenty of power this season and with the additions of Pong and Mota, they should have a tough middle of the order. This offense should be much improved and could be pretty tough to stop from scoring runs. Defensively they were just below average last season. Manzanillo, and Prieto give them a huge boost defensively. If this defense isn't a top 5 defense then they did something wrong this season. They aren't quite with Syracuse defensively, but they aren't far off. The pitching last season was average. They added Ontiveros, who is well above average, and Vinny Evans to upgrade the rotation. The rotation isn't great, but it is very solid. The bullpen kind of worries me with this team. It's not bad, but it isn't deep and could struggle some. Overall this is a much improved team and well rounded. They aren't ready to take over the top of the division, but they could move past Milwaukee and Hartford this season and battle for a post season spot.

It's really hard to predict that this division won't send at least 3 teams to the post season again. They could, but other teams in the AL are catching up and those days could end this season. I do think that every team in this division could end up with a winning record. They are all tough and have really good strengths. Syracuse is still the team to beat. I think they take the division again with another 100 win season. My second pick has to be Dover. New owner, new city, new finish. They are the most well rounded team in the division, but not quite as good as the others in some things. I'm even saying they make the post season for sure. Hartford is my third place team. They still look good, but I think they are a fringe playoff team. They'll have a tougher time getting in. Milwaukee is last and about the same as Hartford. Last doesn't get you in the post season, but in this division it is still respectable and means you had a good season.

1.) Syracuse
2.) Dover
3.) Hartford
4.) Milwaukee