Monday, March 28, 2011

Season 15 preview-NL South

NL South
After a couple of seasons coming in second place, Charleston returned to the top of this division last season. They have now won the division in 7 of the last 9 seasons. The franchise in Texas take a huge step forward last season, improving their win total from season 13 by 17 games. Jackson was another team that made a major leap last season. They picked up just the second winning season in team history and improved their win total by 14 games. The one team that moved back was Monterrey. After winning the previous two division titles, the team finished last in the division. They still have not had a losing season over the past 4 seasons though. It was a pretty close race in the South last season for the most part and some teams really stepped things up to make this a very good division and quite possibly the best the NL has to offer.

Charleston Riverdogs
Season 14 record- 95-67(NL South Champs)
5 year record- 492-318

Offense- Average-10th(.265), OBP-2nd(.345), Slg-3rd(.461), Runs-1st(893), HR-1st(280), SB-9th(101)
Defense- Fielding %-4th(.986), Plus Plays-8th(50), Minus Plays-4th(36)
Pitching- ERA-8th(4.48), OAV-10th(.272), SO-10th(1071), Saves-7th(46/62)
Key Additions-SP Warren Hargrave(FA), RP Esteban Dotel(FA), RP Milton Simpson(FA), SP Luis Rijo(FA), SP Gregg Thomas(FA)
Key Losses-C Jose Johnson(FA), LF Frank Martin(FA), SP John Ashley(FA), RP John Chen(FA)

This is another example of a franchise that has built a culture of success. Last season marked the ninth straight season with a winning record as this franchise moved back atop the division after a two season hiatus. Owner bjohara has been in control of this franchise since season 5 and has only allowed the team one losing season in this time and it was his first season in control. Not happy with just winning the division, this team looks like they have made some moves to put this team on top of the NL in the off season. The major moves they made were with pitching. A team that lost the pitchers they did would normally be a bit worried, but this team made moves that put the pitching staff in a better position than last season. They finished in the middle of the NL in pitching last season and that was something that needed to be addressed if they were to compete for the NL title. After the moves they made, the starting rotation looks very good now. The bullpen looks pretty good as well and this pitching staff could be one of the best in the NL. The offense last season was one of the best in the league, but the team average wasn't very good. It will probably end up the same this season. They don't have the best hitters, but they do draw walks and have some real good power in the lineup. They finished near the top of the league in fielding last season and probably will do so again. They have a really good shortstop and centerfielder to anchor the defense. They also have some good fielders to throw in the mix at other positions as well. It's going to be really tough to knock this team from the top of the division this season and I wouldn't be surprised to see them win the NL championship.

Texas Beavers
Season 14 record- 84-78
5 year record- 367-443

Offense- Average-5th(.274), OBP-7th(.338), Slg-10th(.426), Runs-6th(836), HR-12th(182), SB-2nd(191)
Defense- Fielding %-9th(.981), Plus Plays-7th(51), Minus Plays-3rd(28)
Pitching- ERA-7th(4.47), OAV-5th(.260), SO-13th(1031), Saves-7th(46/59)
Key Additions-3B Omar Siqueiros(tr-Sco), SP Russell Wheeler(tr-Jax), RP Flip Buck(FA), LF Orval Yeats(resigned), LF/2B Alfonso Crespo(promoted)
Key Losses-RF Dean Podsednik(tr-Jax), SP Bret O'Leary(FA)

Last season, team owner, carseneau, led this team to their first winning season since season 8. They had an amazing season when compared to season13 and finished 2nd in the division as this team made huge steps forward. The franchise, after many seasons of mediocrity, seems to finally be heading in the right direction. Last season this team was above average offensively and had plenty of speed on the bases. That was a large part of their success. The loss of Podsednik will hurt the team, but the addition of Siqueiros will help ease that. They should be a little closer to average this season as I think they move back a bit. The fielding on the team was about average last season as well. The have a few good gloves on the team, but I don't see how they can be above average with what they have. The pitching last season was slightly above average and I think this season they will be close to the same. They are a little weak in the rotation, but I do like the bullpen. They were already real good in the bullpen with only 13 blown saves last season, but the addition of Buck will make them even better. I think this team is pretty average and not ready to make a run at Charleston for the division title. They look like a team that will finish with around 81 wins, plus or minus a few.

Jackson Juggernauts
Season 14 record- 83-79
5 year record- 317-493

Offense- Average-11th(.263), OBP-13th(.331), Slg-7th(.443), Runs-5th(840), HR-5th(240), SB-7th(120)
Defense- Fielding %-9th(.981), Plus Plays-2nd(69), Minus Plays-2nd(22)
Pitching- ERA-4th(4.31), OAV-3rd(.259), SO-11th(1058), Saves-1st(56/78)
Key Additions-SP Don Corey(Rule V), RP Harry Moreno(FA), RP Robin Sanders(FA)
Key Losses-P Wes Sanders(FA)

In two seasons of owning this team, owner bobbyj7 has taken this team from one of the worst in the league to being a contender. Last season was just this franchises second winning season in their history. This is a team that is on the move up for sure. In the off season they added a few good pitchers to the roster and didn't really lose much as they are returning mostly the same team from last season. That's not a bad thing in Jackson, as most of this roster is really young and talented. Last season the team finished near the middle of the league in fielding, but had plenty of range to get to plays. That is the same this season with this group. The hitting was just below average but they ranked near the top of the league in runs scored and homers. They have some good hitters on the team, but the key part of the teams offense is power and speed. They have plenty of power and speed and should be able to beat teams with both of those tools. The pitching was amond the best in the NL in season 14. They have a real good rotation, and bullpen. This is a real solid team that is young and should continue to grow for the next few seasons. I think they can contend for the division title this season, but it will be tough. They should get a wild card if they don't win the division as this team should win 90+ games this season.

Monterrey Jacks
Season 14 record- 81-81
5 year record- 448-362

Offense- Average-1st(.281), OBP-14th(.330), Slg-2nd(.469), Runs-8th(820), HR-3rd(269), SB-14th(63)
Defense- Fielding %-8th(.982), Plus Plays-15th(28), Minus Plays-16th(85)
Pitching- ERA-12th(4.66), OAV-10th(.272), SO-1st(1214), Saves-13th(42/62)
Key Additions-none
Key Losses-2B Dean Franco(FA), SP Luis Rijo(FA)

Owner titotwig has been in control of this franchise since season 6 and while things started off rough, this franchise has really come on strong the past 4 seasons. Last season was a disappointment for the franchise, but they still managed to win 81 games while coming in 4th place in a very tough division. Offensively, this team was pretty good last season, but struggled to score runs a bit as they finished in the middle of the league in that category. They have some good hitters, but overall this bunch doesn't impress me too much. I don't think they can finish atop the league in average again this season. They do have some power on the team and should be in the upper half of the league in that category again. This team was not very good in the field last season. The finished in the middle of the league in fielding percentage but were last in plus and minus plays. The defense is really bad in Monterrey. I think they'll actually be worst than last season. The pitching was also not very good. They have some really good pitchers on this staff, but with the defense being so bad, it really hurts the effectiveness of these guys. To sum it up, I don't think this franchise is in a good state at this time. I think they finish at the bottom of the division this season and will struggle to win 80 games.

Charleston looks ready to step it up this season and make a run at the world series. Jackson impresses me and has a good chance at making the post season and press Charleston to the end. Texas looks like an average team and probably won't make much noise in this tough division. Monterrey will find it hard to finish out of the bottom of the division this season with what they have right now.

1. Charleston
2. Jackson
3. Texas
4. Monterrey

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