Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Season 15 previews-AL West

AL West
Well, of all the divisions in Pine Tar, the AL West may be the most frustrating for me. This division has the largest rollover of owners in any division in the league. The longest tenured owner in this division as it stands now is heading into a third season as owner. It's actually 2 owners that are tied for this. It's hard for any team in this game to build success without a plan set in place and carried out over multiple seasons. Hopefully the two new owners will be sticking around for a while and then maybe this division can start to join the ranks of all the others in Pine Tar. The division winner last season was the team in Cheyenne, as they posted their third straight season with a winning record and finally got to the top of the division. This franchise now has 6 division titles. Vancouver took a step backwards last season. After winning the division in season 13 with 90 wins, last season they fell to 79 wins and dropped to second. The team in Los Angeles last season, was taken over by new ownership this season to make 3 owners in 3 seasons. They came in third last season and had the second most losses in franchise history with 98. The franchise that was in Santa Cruz was taken over by new ownership as well this season and moved to St Louis. This will be the sixth straight season with new ownership for this franchise. Last season they finished 58-104, and last in the entire world of Pine Tar.

Cheyenne Rawhide
Season 14 record-87-75(AL West Champ)
5 year record-387-423

Offense- Average-7th(.278), OBP-7th(.340), Slg-10th(.441), Runs-7th(846), HR-11th(202), SB-13th(85)
Defense- Fielding %-6th(.984), Plus Plays-10th(39), Minus Plays-8th(45)
Pitching- ERA-12th(5.20), OAV-11th(.285), SO-7th(1036), Saves-3rd(53/66)
Key Additions-C Roy Ashby(resigned), SP Kevin Xaio(resigned)
Key Losses-2B Francis Norton(FA)

Last season Cheyenne took over as division champion in the West. While this is the one franchise that has found consistent success through the years, it had also gone 4 seasons without a post season appearance. That ended last season when owner mrbinson ended this teams drought in just his second season with the franchise. Last season the team found success through slightly above average hitting, fielding and relief pitching. The team however didn't have much power, or overall pitching. In the off season, instead of trying to strengthen those areas with free agents, they chose to stay the course with what they had. The only 2 key signings they made were of their own players. They also lost 2B Norton, which will hurt a little bit. While this team is fairly young, their talent lies more with the older players on the roster. Not that they don't have younger talent though. RP Linden and SS Santiago are 2 pretty good young players. Offensively this team has some good contact hitters, but little power in the lineup. They also don't have much speed on the team. Defensively this is a solid team with the glove but they don't have much range in the field. The pitching isn't very good still and outside of closer Linden, the pitching staff is less than average. Overall this team may take a few steps back from last season or end up with pretty close to the same record, but I don't see them improving upon the win total from last season without some luck.

Vancouver Canadiens
Season 14 record- 79-83
5 year record- 424-386

Offense- Average-4th(.286), OBP-3rd(.350), Slg-6th(.457), Runs-9th(829), HR-9th(219), SB-14th(65)
Defensive- Fielding %-12th(.980), Plus Plays-14th(29), Minus Plays-12th(58)
Pitching- ERA-8th(4.82), OAV-8th(.272), SO-6th(1038), Saves-4th(45/56)
Key Additions-LF Alberto Machado(tr-Bos), SP Matty Andujar(tr-Ott), RP Hal Davenport(FA), RP Ed Nathan(FA), RF Daryle Moran(FA), 2B Karl Shumaker(FA), C Guy Robinson(FA), 3B Dave Thompson(promoted), C Richie Allen(Rule V)
Key Losses-RP Chico Guerrero(tr-Bos), RP Felipe Lee(tr-Ott), 1B Matty Coco(tr-Ott), 1B Jose Martin(FA), SP Ron Sweeney(FA), RP Milton Simpson(FA), CF/2B Dicky Bartee(FA), RF/1B Troy Jefferson(FA), 2B Dennis Nomura(FA), 2B Darren Cox(FA), SP Dave Grey(FA)

Wow, my head hurts looking through all the moves that were made by this team in the off season. Obviously, not happy with last seasons results, this team went wild in the off season. Owner lukeb31, heading into a third season at the helm was not going to settle for another losing record. Quite possibly one of the more disappointing teams in the AL last season, this team subtracted 11 wins from the previous seasons division championship and finished in second place. The made moves that should help in most areas of weakness on the team. Defensively this team finished in the bottom half of the league last season. They have a slick fielding shortstop in Bennett that can run the infield for sure. Shumaker should play second to sure up the middle and that makes for a pretty good infield.  They don't really have a very good outfield as James is in centerfield, but probably is more fit to play third, which would give them a very good infield, but weaken the outfield even more. Offensively this team finished near the top of the league in most categories last season. The lack of speed hurt the team though, but they addressed that in the off season and should finish in the upper half of the league in steals this season. They finished near the middle of the league in homers, but they have some pop this season. They could possibly be a better hitting team this season. The pitching was middle of the pack last season. This is one area that I'm not too confident about for this bunch. I like the relief pitching as a group, but they lack a true top of the rotation starter. This team should be better than last season and could possibly take the division crown once again. I could see them winning close to 90 games and if things fall their way then more than 90, but they are going to have to get more from the starting pitching than the abilities these guys have.

Los Angeles Regulators
Season 14 record- 64-98
5 year record- 372-438

Offense- Average-15th(.255), OBP-15th(.321), Slg-14th(.397), Runs-14th(719), HR-13th(193), SB-8th(117)
Defense- Fielding %-12th(.980), Plus Plays-3rd(76), Minus Plays-6th(39)
Pitching- ERA-9th(4.93), OAV-10th(.281), SO-9th(1029), Saves-12th(37/52)
Key Additions-CF Nigel Zaun(tr-Sea), 1B Miguel Pichardo(tr-Sea), SP Al Rivers(tr-Sea), SP Jeff Spivey(FA), RP Carlton Harding(FA), RP John Chen(FA), 2B Darren Cox(FA)
Key Losses-SP Wayne Perez(tr-Sea), CF Darrell Evans(FA), RP Flip Buck(FA)

In his first season as owner of the Los Angeles Regulators, bobswagger91, is full of confidence. In his interview when asked how he thought his team would do this season he replied "The Regulators are f***ing in and Cheyenne is f***ing out." He also said something about winning on the reg. When asked why he thought his team would do better with him running the squad he replied "winners aren't made, they are just born that way." He also claims his team is a bullet proof tiger. OK, well to be honest with you, this guy seems a little bit crazy to me. I'm starting to think that Kenny Powers has taken over a team under the alias of bobswagger91. Anyway, last season this team finished near the bottom of the league in hitting, and fielding, and near the middle of league in pitching. They improved the offense and defense with a couple off season moves though. They already have plenty of range on defense, but they added a good glove in centerfield and secondbase that should help. The big problem is that they don't have a real shortstop that can play gold glove type shortstop. Offensively, they didn't really lose anyone, but they added Pichardo and Cox. Those two should upgrade the hitting on the team. Looking over the team, I'm not really sure why they finished as bad as they did offensively last season. They have good hitters, some power and players with good eyes at the plate. The did decent in pitching and losing Buck and Perez, hurts. The players they brought in to replace them ease the losses though. I like the pitching and think they'll be better than last season. My judgements on this team is that they underachieved last season and should be quite a bit better this season. They could even challenge for the division title, but I don't think they could get a wild card if they don't win the division.

St Louis Vipers
Season 14 record-58-104
5 year record-313-497

Offense- Average-16th(.246), OBP-16th(.308), Slg-16th(.390), Runs-16th(644), HR-16th(178), SB-9th(114)
Defense- Fielding %-6th(.984), Plus Plays-12th(35), Minus Plays-10th(48)
Pitching- ERA-10th(5.07), OAV-9th(.278), SO-8th(1032), Saves-13th(35/58)
Key Additions-3B Dolf Buhner(claimed), 2B Tony Marin(claimed), SS Lou Jefferies(promoted), OF Mo James(promoted)
Key Losses-SP Pedro Batista(released), C Cleatus Simon(released), RP Herm Redman(FA), 1B Bryce Hatcher(FA)

This is another team that just can't keep an owner around. Now on a seventh owner in seven seasons, Flucie takes over a team that needs rebuilt badly. Due to such a turnover, this team hasn't had much of a direction for several seasons and the record shows. Last season the team finished at the bottom of the league offensively. The added some parts in the off season, but nothing that will make a huge improvement for them this season. However, any improvement is welcome for this franchise and that's what it was. They may finish at the bottom again this season offensively, but it shouldn't be as bad as last season. The highlight for this team was that the defense wasn't bad. This season the defense isn't great, but they'll be able to get by with what they have. They shouldn't be too bad defensively but they probably will be below average from what I see. The pitching wasn't too bad last season either, finishing just below average. I really think the pitching will be worse this season. Hopefully this owner sticks around a while and gets this team built up to be a contender, but this isn't the season that it will happen.

Cheyenne, while winning the division last season actually doesn't look like a division winner to me, but I could be wrong. Vancouver looks improved upon last season and may be the team to beat in the West. Los Angeles, after a disappointing season last season, looks ready to compete for the division title. St Louis is in full rebuild mode and probably finishes last.

1. Vancouver
2. Los Angeles
3. Cheyenne
4. St Louis

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