Monday, March 28, 2011

Season 15 preview-NL East

NL East
Well I wasn't too far off on my predictions for this division last season. I said that Cincy would take the division, which they did, and that all the teams could finish close to or above 500. The worst team was only 7 games under 500 in this division last season. Unfortunately, it was the team I chose to finish second, Jacksonville. Overall, it was still a very tough division. The NL was very tough last season as a whole, which probably helped push the three teams that didn't win the division below 500. For Cincinnati, it was just the teams second division title and they also won the most games in franchise history. It was a very nice season for them. Kansas City fell back a little bit from season 13, but still was respectable as they finished second in the division for their highest finish since season 10. New York had the same exact record, 75-87, as the season before as they have seen their share of struggles the past few seasons, but still remained a decent team. Jacksonville was the surprise, as they dropped off quite a bit from season 13. After dominating the division the previous 4 seasons, they dropped to fourth for the worst finish in franchise history.

Cincinnati Firestorm
Season 14 record- 93-69(NL East Champs)
5 year record- 408-402

Offense- Average-11th(.263), OBP-4th(.339), Slg-11th(.421), Runs-4th(847), HR-9th(217), SB-12th(79)
Defense- Fielding %-2nd(.988), Plus Plays-3rd(65), Minus Plays-1st(20)
Pitching- ERA-10th(4.57), OAV-9th(.270), SO-14th(1007), Saves-2nd(53/79)
Key Additions-P Garrett Shea(rule V), RP Stan Woodson(FA), RP Ebenezer Beverlin(FA), LF/1B Troy Jefferson(FA), RP T.J. Starr(resigned),
Key Losses-RP Robin Sanders(FA), RP Jorel Austin(FA)

Cincinnati has really turned things around the past couple of seasons. After only making the playoffs 4 times in the first 13 seasons, this team made it back last season by winning the division. After winning 90 games in season 13 and missing the post season, this bunch won 93 last season and won the second division title in team history. jbburner has owned this team for 15 seasons and is happy with where the team is right now. The fans in Cincy were hoping for a big move in the off season to put this team over the top, but that just didn't happen. Not that ownership didn't try though. It looks like the same team will be coming back this season and that isn't a bad thing. Offensively the team was pretty solid last season. While the hitting wasn't very good, they did find ways to get on base and score runs. They didn't show much speed or power but they found ways to get it done. I think it will be pretty much the same this season and the addition of Jefferson adds a little to that. I think the team actually improves offensively. Defensively the team has very good gloves. They have one of the best centerfielders in the league and solid gloves in other positions as well. They don't have a great shortstop. This team is well above average defensively.  They resigned the closer from last season and that's a good sign for this teams pitching. The rotation worries me a bit, but it is good enough to get by. Pitching was the teams weakness last season and it probably will be again. The have some good arms in the bullpen though and I think it'll be a just below average pitching staff. Overall, this is a pretty good team that will be tough to knock off the perch in the NL East. Even if they somehow don't win the division, they would have a very good shot at a wild card spot, as I think this team wins over 90 games for a third straight season.

Kansas City Kardinals
Season 14 record- 76-86
5 year record- 412-398

Offense- Average-4th(.275), OBP-8th(.337), Slg-4th(.451), Runs-3rd(852), HR-7th(235), SB-15th(62)
Defense- Fielding %-16th(.978), Plus Plays-13th(34), Minus Plays-9th(57)
Pitching- ERA-11th(4.59), OAV-8th(.269), SO-5th(1114), Saves-16th(39/65)
Key Additions-2B Alex Rincon(resigned)
Key Losses-SP/RP Sergio Austin(released), IF Mac Hayes(FA), SP Gregg Thomas(FA), RP Jeremi Coleride(FA)

This team has been pretty average for quite some time. They've had good seasons and bad seasons in their history, but for the most part the stay competitive and finish with 70+ or 80+ victories most of the time. Owner bodean has been around since season 2 and has always managed to keep this team respectable. Last season the team finished toward the top of the league offensively. They do have some good hitters, but overall it would surprise me to see them finish so well again. They have a good mix of contact hitters and power hitters in the lineup and shouldn't be a bad offensive team. I just don't think they are one of the best, more like average. The fielding however, really hurt this team last season. The team lacks range, but they do have some players that have average to just below average gloves. I can see them being better than where they were last season in the field. What really hurts them is that they lack a true shortstop. The pitching wasn't very good last season either, but that could be due to the fielding being so bad. While the pitching isn't even above average, I just don't think it's as bad as they looked last season. The team really didn't do much in the off season to improve the club and I think it'll be tough for them to even match last seasons win total. This is a team that should be in rebuilding mode if they aren't already.

New York Moneymaker
Season 14 record- 75-87
5 year record- 410-400

Offense- Average-7th(.268), OBP-11th(.333), Slg-8th(.442), Runs-10th(789), HR-8th(234), SB-10th(87)
Defense- Fielding %-9th(.981), Plus Plays-14th(33), Minus Plays-9th(57)
Pitching- ERA-14th(4.79), OAV-13th(.276), SO-4th(1115), Saves-12th(43/66)
Key Additions-RP Osvaldo Tatis(FA), OF Dicky Bartee(FA), P Christopher Cora(FA), RP Antonio Whang(resigned), OF Cam Stubbs(promoted)
Key Losses-SP John Fogg(declined option), RP Ron Bowen(declined option), SP Alex Montero(FA), RP Brad Shave(FA)

New York through the seasons has put together a good amount of wins. With only 3 losing seasons in team history, Phillies26, has done an impressive job as owner of this franchise. Last season though, marked a second straight season with a losing record and the team wasn't going to sit by and let it happen again. Ownership opened up the pocket books and made some nice off season signings and let a few players go from last season to try and turn this thing around. They also promoted Cam Stubbs and that should help this team out as well. Last season, this team wasn't one of the best offensively as they were average to just below average. I just can't see that being the case this season. The offense impresses me. They have a little speed, a little power, and some good hitters that can get on base. Last season the defense was average, but looking at the team this season, I believe they are below average. They lack a good centerfielder and shortstop and that will hurt. I'd actually rank this team near the bottom of the league in the field. The pitching staff struggled last season, and I can see that happening again. The rotation is not very strong although they do have some good pitchers in the bullpen. Overall, I think this team will have a decent season, and probably play close to 500 ball unless they can upgrade the rotation. If they were to add a couple starters and a shortstop, this team could be much better.

Jacksonville Juice
Season 14 record- 74-88
5 year record- 476-334

Offense- Average-15th(.258), OBP-4th(.339), Slg-11th(.421), Runs-12th(765), HR-11th(211), SB-8th(114)
Defense- Fielding %-14th(.980), Plus Plays-9th(44), Minus Plays-12th(62)
Pitching- ERA-6th(4.45), OAV-12th(.274), SO-7th(1077), Saves-10th(44/71)
Key Additions-OF Dean Podsednik(tr-Tex), SP Max Mateo(tr-Nas), SP Ron Bowen(FA), SP Vernon Hamilton(FA), 3B Hector Cairo(FA), RP Bill Walker(FA), RP Brad Shave(FA)
Key Losses-SP Russell Wheeler(tr-Tex), 1B Pascual Ortiz(released), SP Tomas Nieves(declined option)

Jacksonville has been the most successful team in the NL East through the years and has never experienced a season as bad as last season. At 74-88, it marked the second losing season in team history as well as the worst record. So the team decided to start a rebuild and dealt away some higher priced aging players and acquired some young near ML ready minor leaguers. They also signed some free agents to fill in the gaps. The expectations according to ownership are for a 500 record at worst. Not really much of a rebuild, but fans in Jacksonville are accustomed to winning and don't have the patience to wait around for another division winner. Last season, the offensive found ways to get on base but it wasn't the hitting. They finished near the bottom of the league in average, but toward the top in obp. The rest of the offensive numbers were below average though. I'm expecting a bit of the same this season. They do have some good hitters, but overall it's not a great hitting team. The fielding was below average last season, and it probably is closer to an average fielding team on paper. The lack of a true shortstop hurts. The pitching was pretty good last season. The rotation looks a little weak, but they have some good arms in the pen. I think the pitching takes a step back this season. Overall, this isn't the Jacksonville team that has run this division over the years, but they aren't bottom feeders either. I don't think the playoffs are likely this season, but an 81 win season should be attainable.

Cincinnati, is a pretty good team and should take this division again this season. Overall the division looks weak, but Cincinnati does not. Jacksonville and New York could flip flop between 2nd and 3rd this season as the two teams look really close. Kansas City looks like they'll take some steps back this season and will struggle to stay with the other teams.

1. Cincinnati
2. Jacksonville
3. New York
4. Kansas City

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