Monday, June 27, 2011

NL West Season 16 Preview

NL West
Well my division is always hard for me to predict. Of course, I have a bias toward my team, but I also don't want to over value them in my previews. I guess I under valued them last season as I didn't even think I had a playoff team. Seattle shocked me in the regular season by having the best record in the NL, only to have a let down in the playoffs when they came back to earth. Scottsdale was the defending division and World Champion but fell off last season and missed out on the playoffs entirely. It was a disappointing season for the champs as they were more talented than they played. Oklahoma City made major strides last season and challenged for the division title for parts of the season. This has been a franchise moving up the ladder in the NL and should be challenging for the division title for seasons to come. Colorado Springs moved backwards again by dropping in victories for a second consecutive season. They continued to rebuild and look to the future with the hopes of getting back to the top of the division sooner rather than later.

Seattle Strikers
Season 15 record- 98-64(NL West Champ)
5 year record- 477-333

Offense- Average-4th(.270), OBP-4th(.339), Slg-15th(.368), Runs-5th(804), HR-16th(86), SB-1st(390)
Defense- Fielding %-2nd(.985), Plus Plays-1st(90), Minus Plays-1st(19)
Pitching- ERA-1st(3.42), OAV-1st(.236), SO-10th(1089), Saves-13th(39/51)

Key Additions-None
Key Losses-SP Wayne Perez(tr-Hel), SP Jose Bravo(tr-LA), 3B Rafael Cervantes(tr-LA), C Antonio Zhang(FA)

Well this team shocked me last season by winning the division. They were a good team, but I didn't think they could win the division and somehow they even locked up the #1 playoff spot. They did however suffer an upset loss in their first series of the post season. So with so many players going to free agency, the team decided now was the time to cut salary and rebuild. They loaded up on compensation picks from free agency and traded away some key players for prospects. Last season this team boasted one of the best offenses in the NL. They played to their strengths as they were a good hitting team with very little power, but tons of speed. They lost most of the offense, but still have some good hitters and still have plenty of speed. They may hit even less homers this season as the power just isn't there. The defense has been a staple at the top of the league for a while now and was again last season. I'd be surprised if they weren't again. The defense is very good still. The pitching was also the best in the league last season. This is where the team is hurting this season. The rotation isn't close to what it was and the bullpen isn't very strong at all. I'd be surprised if they finish in the top half of the league in pitching. This is still a good team, but the pitching will kill them. My prediction is that they'll win just north of 70 games this season.
Scottsdale Scorpions
Season 15 record- 86-76
5 year record- 411-399

Offense- Average-2nd(.273), OBP-2nd(.341), Slg-1st(.460), Runs-2nd(886), HR-1st(251), SB-11th(89)
Defense- Fielding %-10th(.982), Plus Plays-15th(29), Minus Plays-16th(87)
Pitching- ERA-10th(4.50), OAV-11th(.271), SO-7th(1113), Saves-10th(42/60)

Key Additions-None
Key Losses-RP Archie Goldman(FA)

After winning the World Series in season 14 this team took some steps backwards last season. They only dropped 2 wins from the previous season, but didn't make a push for the division crown. I felt like this was the team to beat in the division last season but that just never materialized. The offense was one of the best in the NL if not the best. That shouldn't change much this season. They still have a pretty good offense with contact and power. They also have guys that will take a walk to get on base. They won't steal many bases though. The defense was this teams weakness last season. They lacked range and the gloves were in the bottom half of the league. This team doesn't appear to be bad defensively this season and Lopez could be a great shortstop, but his lack of hitting will likely keep him on the bench. I'd say this is an average fielding team at least. The pitching last season wasn't very good either but they were close to being an average staff. The rotation is solid if not good and the bullpen has some good arms in it. The park obviously affects this group as I'd say they are a good staff of pitchers. I think this team has the offense to be one of the best teams in the NL, but the defense will hurt them. I think they could win over 90 games this season.
Oklahoma City Prairie Dogs
Season 15 record- 84-78
5 year record- 371-439

Offense- Average-11th(.264), OBP-5th(.337), Slg-12th(.405), Runs-7th(764), HR-14th(164), SB-7th(124)
Defense- Fielding %-12th(.980), Plus Plays-14th(30), Minus Plays-7th(42)
Pitching- ERA-8th(4.24), OAV-10th(.266), SO-12th(1054), Saves-7th(45/54)

Key Additions-3B Murray Mahaffey(FA)
Key Losses-None

This team took big strides last season by winning 12 games more than season 14's total. It was the teams first season with a winning record since winning the division back in season 10. They battled but couldn' pull out a wild card spot. The team has only made the playoffs twice in franchise history and would like to add to that this season. They didn't make many moves in the off season and return pretty much the same group. With a fairly young roster, that isn't a bad thing. Last season this team was pretty average offensively. They didn't hit much but found ways to get on base. They didn't have much power but had speed and stole bases. This seasons club will likely follow that mold. They do have some power, but not a lot. They really only have a couple guys that will steal bases so they aren't a real threat on the bases. The offense appears to be just below average. Defensively this team was not good last season. They were in the bottom half of the league. They have a potential gold glove shortstop in Alcantara, but he isn't a good hitter. The defense looks better, but I can't say they are great. They still should be an above average defensive team. The pitching was pretty average last season. The pitching doesn't appear to be bad, but they lack a starting pitcher that can eat innings. The bullpen though, is full of arms that can eat innings as most of the pitchers on this staff could start. Overall though this is an average pitching staff. It seems the theme for this team is that they are just about average. That leads me to believe this team should win 80 games, plus or minus. I don't think they'll challenge for the division title or wild card spot, but should have a decent season.

Colorado Springs Night Watchmen
Season 15 record- 66-96
5 year record- 371-439

Offense- Average-16th(.247), OBP-15th(.315), Slg-14th(.393), Runs-15th(643), HR-12th(183), SB-9th(108)
Defense- Fielding %-12th(.980), Plus Plays-11th(48), Minus Plays-13th(65)
Pitching- ERA-13th(5.00), OAV-13th(.278), SO-15th(978), Saves-12th(41/58)

Key Additions-SS Ramon Martin(tr-Hel), LF Alvin Reed(FA), SP Greg DeJean(FA)
Key Losses-2B Julian Martinez(FA)

The Night Watchmen fell off in victories again last season. A couple seasons removed from a wild card and this team hasn't gotten close since. After winning the division 6 times in the first 8 seasons, the team has only made the post season once in the past 7 seasons. So the team went out and made some moves in the off season to try and change that. Last season the offense was one of the worst in the league. The offense doesn't appear to be that bad. If anything this is an average offense and maybe an above average. They don't have a lot of power, but they have guys that can get on base. The also have a little bit of speed as well. The defense was a bottom of the half group last season. The trade for Martin gives them a big boost. The infield should be good this season, but the outfield is not so much. This is still an above average group. The pitching killed them last season as well and needed a boost. The signing of DeJean will help. The rotation is average, and the bullpen has a few good arms in it. The staff should be improved and closer to average and maybe just above average, but not very deep. This team should be much improved from last season and should win over 80 games. I'm not sure they have what it takes to win the division but they could challenge for the top spot. Management thinks this team has a good shot at a wild card, and I can't discount that. They could be a couple moves from locking that assumption up.

Seattle brings a completely different team to play this season and after winning the division last season will struggle to do so again. While not a bad team, they aren't one of the better teams in the division. Scottsdale didn't do so well last season and have a talented group. This team would surprise me to have another season like the last. Oklahoma City made a jump last season, but I'm not sure they have what it takes to take the next step. Colorado Springs improved in the off season and shouldn't repeat last seasons efforts.

1. Scottsdale
2. Colorado Springs
3. Oklahoma City
4. Seattle

Friday, June 24, 2011

NL South Season 16 Preview

NL South
Charleston has dominated this division for quite some time and that hasn't allowed for many division titles for the other teams. Jackson has been one of those teams that hasn't had much success in the division due to this. They ended a run of 9 seasons of being left out of the post season by winning the division last season. Since the last time the franchise won the division, back in season 5, Charleston has won 7 division titles. The season Jackson put together leads me to believe that this team is poised to become the team to beat in the South. Charleston put together another good season even though they didn't win the division. They ended up with a Wild Card, but wasn't able to do much in the post season. The team in Monterrey struggled early in the season as the previous owner disappeared and new ownership took over almost midway through the season. The new owner did a great job in getting things going and finished with a respectable record. In the off season the new ownership group moved the team from Monterrey to Charlotte. The team formerly in Texas struggled out of the gates last season and chose to go the rebuild route by trading most of the good major leaguers for prospects, but still finished with a decent record considering. Instead of seeing the rebuild through, the previous owner left and the team was bought by a new owner that moved the franchise to Louisville.

Jackson Juggernauts
Season 15 record- 97-65(NL South Champ)
5 year record- 353-457

Offense- Average-3rd(.271), OBP-7th(.332), Slg-2nd(.457), Runs-3rd(862), HR-2nd(242), SB-3rd(224)
Defense- Fielding %-1st(.986), Plus Plays-2nd(83), Minus Plays-2nd(25)
Pitching- ERA-3rd(3.68), OAV-4th(.250), SO-1st(1168), Saves-6th(46/63)

Key Additions-None
Key Losses-None

Jackson is pretty much the same team that they fielded last season. They made very few moves in the off season and none that were major moves. They didn't really need to make any though. They don't have even one player on their roster over the age of 29 and this is a very talented and young squad. As a franchise they have improved their win total in each of the last four seasons and improved by 14 games last season. The franchise won just their second division title and made the playoffs for just the second time in their history. They have seen many different owners through the years and it seems that they finally have an owner in place that is moving this team to the top. Last season this team was one of the best in the NL offensively. They ranked near the top of the league in all the key categories. They had speed, power and good hitting. They still do and they are pretty deep offensively. The defense was quite possibly the best in the league. They don't have any great defensive players, but they do have many players that are really good at their positions defensively. They should be very good again. The pitching was also among the best in the NL. They boast a very solid rotation that isn't great but still good. The bullpen is good as well, but nobody stands out as a dominant pitcher. The strength of this staff is the depth of good pitchers. My guess for this team is that they finish with more than 90 wins again and should be near the top of the division. If they don't win the division then they are a sure bet for a wild card spot.

Charleston Riverdogs
Season 15 record- 93-69(Wild Card)
5 year record- 484-326

Offense- Average-7th(.267), OBP-3rd(.340), Slg-5th(.435), Runs-12th(736), HR-4th(226), SB-14th(81)
Defense- Fielding %-6th(.984), Plus Plays-10th(53), Minus Plays-7th(42)
Pitching- ERA-2nd(3.67), OAV-2nd(.246), SO-3rd(1140), Saves-1st(53/66)

Key Additions-SP Valerio Duran(FA), P Desi Fernandez(FA)
Key Losses-None

Charleston is a team that always seems to finish near or at the top of this division. After 6 straight division titles things have calmed down some for this franchise. They've only won the division once in the past four seasons. Still one of the better teams in the NL they made the playoffs for a tenth season in a row last season. Even though this team has an older roster they still have some good young players in the majors and should continue to keep the proud tradition going for some time. Last season this team was a mix on offense. They hit ok, they found ways to get on base, they had some good power, but didn't steal very much. They have a couple players that can really hit the ball, and plenty of power on the team. They will take a walk which well help the OBP. They have a couple guys that are threats to steal as well. This is an above average offense. The defense was average last season. Overall the defense isn't great, but they do have some players that are pretty good fielders. The defense shouldn't hurt this team. The pitching was among the best in the league last season. This is a really good pitching staff. They have plenty of really good hurlers and the rotation is among the best in the league. Once again this season, Charleston should be at or near the top of the division. This is a pretty good team that will be tough to beat. I'm guessing that they will at the very least keep their playoffs streak alive for another season.

Charlotte Bad News
Season 15 record- 68-94
5 year record- 438-372

Offense- Average-5th(.269), OBP-11th(328), Slg-7th(.428), Runs-10th(744), HR-5th(218), SB-10th(95)
Defense- Fielding %-15th(.979), Plus Plays-13th(35), Minus Plays-12th(52)
Pitching- ERA-14th(5.09), OAV-12th(.277), SO-8th(1097), Saves-13th(39/60)

Key Additions-3B Omar Siqueiros(FA), SP Miguel Morlan(FA)
Key Losses-3B Murray Mahaffey(FA)

This team took on new ownership in the middle of last season and things were a complete disaster when the owner came in. They did a great job of righting the ship and actually had a pretty good finish to the season. To build on that the team upgraded an already good offense with the addition of Siqueiros and brought in a reliable innings eater in Morlan. Those were 2 big upgrades for this team. They also added some quality bullpen help and didn't really lose much in the off season. It should be interesting to see if this team has what it takes to get back into the division race or if it will be another tough season. Last season the team was good offensively but didn't score the runs to show it. They could hit and hit for power, but they lacked the OBP to put up the runs. The hitters on this team are average to just above average heading into this season. The defense last season was pretty bad. They should be much improved this season. I don't think they will be great defensively but this doesn't look like a team that is bad at flashing the leather. The pitching really hurt this team last season, but most of that happened when the pitchers were over used and unrested early in the season. They still upgraded in this area and actually look like a good pitching staff. The rotation should be good, as they have a couple really good starters in Osterbrock and Jacquez. The bullpen, while not as strong should be solid. This season, I can see an improvement coming from this team, but I'm not sure it's enough to get into the top spot of the division. It should still be a much better season for this franchise and winning 80 plus games is a possibility.

Louisville ARF ARF ARF ARF's
Season 15 record- 66-96
5 year record- 366-444

Offense- Average-9th(.266), OBP-9th(.330), Slg-9th(.421), Runs-6th(772), HR-9th(202), SB-4th(152)
Defense- Fielding %-6th(.984), Plus Plays-3rd(73), Minus Plays-6th(37)
Pitching- ERA-15th(5.27), OAV-15th(.285), SO-11th(1085), Saves-7th(45/69)

Key Additions-SP Dock King(FA)
Key Losses-None

This is a franchise that started a rebuild last season and then got turned over to new ownership. The new owner may have different plans as evidence by the huge signing of King in the off season. The franchise looked to be making a move up in the division a couple seasons ago, but then fell off badly last season. So maybe it was time for a change in ownership. The last time this franchise won the division was way back in season 1 and have only made the playoffs once since. Well last season this was a pretty average group offensively that used speed to keep them in games. The look like a below average group of hitters with a couple guys that will hit some homers and not much speed now. The defense was above average last season and look like a group that is average. The good thing for the defense is that they are solid all around. The pitching was just terrible last season. The addition of King will help quite a bit, but the rotation is still in need of a couple other good pitchers. The bullpen is average to just below average. It could be a long season for this team as the last owner left the cupboard bare in the majors, but they seem to be moving in the right direction. If they win 80 games that will be a sign of success for these guys, but they are moving forward.

This is a pretty tough division. None of the teams are bad and it should be later in the season before the division starts to take shape. That makes it pretty tough to predict. I'm not confident in any of my predictions of finish for this division as any team could switch spots. Jackson is a tough, young team that seems to be getting better every season. They won the division last season and very well could again. Even if they don't, I think they would get one of the wild card spots for sure. Charleston is a team that can never be discounted. They have a really good roster of players and should be battling for the top spot all the way to the end. If they don't win the division then they get a wild card. Charlotte is a tough team to predict. They aren't a bad team and you never know, they could have the right mix of players and make a push this season. Right now I'm sticking with them being on the outside looking in. Louisville doesn't appear to have what it takes to challenge for the top spot in the division, but they have some good players that could change the season for them. Not to mention, if they end up making some moves during the season, this could end up being a good team as well. Like I said, tough division to predict.

1. Charleston
2. Jackson
3. Charlotte
4. Louisville

Thursday, June 23, 2011

NL East Season 16 Previews

NL East
This division was a bit of a surprise to me last season. Jacksonville was a team that appeared to be rebuilding, but they came back from a fourth place finish in season 14 to take a 9th division title and 5th in the last 6 seasons. They also made it to a fifth NLCS only to lose to NL champ Fargo. Cincinnati's reign atop the division lasted just one season as they fell to second and secured a wild card spot. It was the third straight 90 win season for the franchise. New York, remained in third place for a second straight season as they were respectable, but not good enough to compete with the top teams. Kansas City was the team that disappointed the most in this division. After a second place finish a couple seasons ago, they fell back to fourth last season and watched their win total decrease by 8 games.

Jacksonville Juice
Season 15 record- 93-69(NL East Champ)
5 year record- 467-343

Offense- Average-12th(.262), OBP-7th(.332), Slg-6th(.432), Runs-4th(848), HR-6th(214), SB-5th(136)
Defense- Fielding %-12th(.980), Plus Plays-8th(56), Minus Plays-5th(35)
Pitching- ERA-6th(3.92), OAV-6th(.259), SO-14th(1001), Saves-5th(48/62)

Key Additions-RP Phil Gardner(FA), RP Samuel Dellaero(FA)
Key Losses-RP Ron Bowen(FA)

Just a couple seasons ago this team was starting a rebuild and finished in fourth in the division for the first time in team history. The rebuild didn't take or last long. Last season this team was right back on top of the division again and even made the NLCS where they lost to Fargo. In the off season ownership wanted to land a top line starting pitcher, which they feel is the one glaring weakness on the squad, but that didn't happen. They instead chose to promote youngster Figureoa which should add a boost to the rotation. Ownership has stated that anything short of the NLCS again is a disappointing season for this group. Last season this team had an above average offense. They stole bases, hit homeruns and scored runs, but were in the bottom half of the league in batting average. I think we'll likely see pretty much of the same this season. The team was below average with the glove. I just think this team lacks a good shortstop and centerfielder and probably won't finish any better defensively. The pitching finished in the upper half of the league last season. The bullpen on this team is really good. The starting rotation isn't bad, but it's not really good either. I think the rotation is good enough that it won't hurt the team though. This season should be another good season for Jacksonville as I think they win close to 90 games. The talent on the team is good but not great and I think they should be in the running for the division title and if not then a wild card is also a possibility.
Cincinnati Firestorm
Season 15 record- 91-71(Wild Card)
5 year record- 421-389

Offense- Average-1st(.282), OBP-1st(.355), Slg-3rd(.445), Runs-1st(910), HR-8th(207), SB-15th(55)
Defense- Fielding %-2nd(.985), Plus Plays-5th(60), Minus Plays-4th(32)
Pitching- ERA-12th(4.60), OAV-9th(.265), SO-8th(1097), Saves-10th(42/56)

Key Additions-None
Key Losses-RP Bernard Hoffman(FA)

This team has put together three straight 90 win seasons. They made it to the post season as a wild card team last season and just missed out on the division title. They are pretty much the same team heading into this season. They didn't make any major signings in the off season but did sign a couple free agents and drafted a couple rule 5 players. Last season, this team was at the top of the league offensively. They scored a lot of runs and hit the ball very good. They lacked power and speed but that didn't hold them back. The offense should be close to the same this season. I'm not sure they have the best offense in the league, but it is a team that should finish near the top of the league. Defensively this team was really good last season. They should be just as good this season. This team has a very good defense and probably one of the better teams in Pine Tar with the glove. The pitching was a weakness for this team last season. It hasn't changed much and will struggle again this season. They lack front end of the rotation starters and the bullpen isn't very strong. The team should still be pretty good this season and could win close to 90 games again. They will challenge for the division title again and could be a wild card team if not. The offense will make or break this team. If any of them struggle this season then it could change that prediction to a below 80 win season.
New York Moneymaker
Season 15 record- 76-86
5 year record- 398-412

Offense- Average-6th(.268), OBP-6th(.334), Slg-10th(.418), Runs-12th(736), HR-10th(201), SB-12th(85)
Defense- Fielding %-2nd(.985), Plus Plays-16th(27), Minus Plays-9th(43)
Pitching- ERA-9th(4.38), OAV-8th(.263), SO-5th(1121), Saves-4th(51/69)

Key Additions-None
Key Losses-RP Samuel Dellaero(FA), C Jorge Johnson(FA)

New York is a team that needs a big season. This team has been just about average for the past 4 seasons and haven't made a real push for the post season since season 11. They didn't make any major moves in the off season and chose to stick the course. Last season this team was just below average offensively. They hit but didn't score many runs as they lacked power or speed. They do have some good hitters on this team, but not much depth. They aren't a team that will hurt you with the long ball and the only real speed threat is Whitfield, but he doesn't reach base enough. The defense was good, but lacked the range to make plays. They have about the same defense this season. Their shortstop is pretty good, but he's a light hitter that will struggle to stay in the lineup. The pitching last season was just average. It still is. The rotation isn't a strength on this team and I'd actually put them in the below average group of the league. The bullpen isn't much better, but they do have a couple nice arms in the pen. This team isn't a team that I can see making a run for the division title this season. I think they'll still end up under 500 for the season and could possibly struggle to win 70 games.

Kansas City Kardinals
Season 15 record- 68-94
5 year record- 389-421

Offense- Average-13th(.261), OBP-13th(.322), Slg-11th(.411), Runs-14th(712), HR-11th(189), SB-13th(83)
Defense- Fielding %-2nd(.985), Plus Plays-6th(57), Minus Plays-11th(45)
Pitching- ERA-11th(4.59), OAV-13th(.278), SO-13th(1044), Saves-15th(37/61)

Key Additions-None
Key Losses-None

Kansas City is a franchise that has been struggling the past four seasons now. While they haven't been bad, they have not made a push for a playoff spot in this time. Last season was the low point in this span as they won their fewest games since season 2 with 68 wins. They chose to not spend much money in free agency and made no major signings to help that. In season 15 this team was near the bottom of the league offensively. I don't think this team is that bad on offense, but they aren't an above average team by any means. They do have a few players that can hit homeruns and most of the players in the lineup will take a walk. Even though they didn't change much, I think they should be better than last season. The defense was among the best in the league last season. They do still have a very good defense. I really like their shortstop and a good shortstop goes a long way for a defense. The pitching was not very good for this team in season 15. They do have a few good starters, but the bullpen is their weakness. This team should be better than last season. I still don't think they challenge for the division title, but 80 wins is a sure possibility. With a few moves this team could be competing in this division.

Jacksonville won the division last season and always seem to be a pretty good team. They will be tough to knock from the top of this division. Cincinnati boasts one of the better offenses in the NL but I'm not sure the pitching staff can win them games. They are a good team that could challenge for the division title and the playoffs, or they could just fall flat on their faces and not even contend. Cincy is a tough team to predict. New York doesn't seem like a team that can win enough games to take this division or even make the post season. Kansas City looks better to me than last season and I don't think they are as bad as the record showed. This team could make a move up the ladder this season.

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

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

NL North Season 16 Preview

NL North
Fargo found themselves back on top of this division once again last season after a year off from the title. 14 out of 15 ain't bad. They also found themselves in a fifth World Series as the NL champs only to come up short against a power house Nashville team. You would think based on that, that Fargo had an easy time of things last season in the North, but not so. Fargo didn't lock up the division until the final series of the season. The team in Trenton, a franchise that has never won the division, made a big push for the top spot in the North. Trenton put together an impressive season and nearly stopped Fargo's post season run before it even got started. Helena had a good season, but still finished third as they couldn't defend the franchise's first division title. It was however just the third time that they finished lower than second in the division. The franchise that was in Cleveland, now Iowa City, continued their run of embarrassment as the only team in Pine Tar history to never make the post season. The old ownership was forced to sell the team in the off season and new ownership has come in with the hopes of getting this team to the top in the future.

Fargo Wood Chippers
Season 15 record- 90-72(NL North Champs, NL Champs)
5 year record- 467-343

Offense- Average-10th(.265), OBP-8th(.331), Slg-8th(.423), Runs-9th(758), HR-7th(212), SB-16th(44)
Defense- Fielding %-9th(.983), Plus Plays-6th(57), Minus Plays-13th(65)
Pitching- ERA-4th(3.87), OAV-7th(.261), SO-2nd(1158), Saves-1st(53/70)

Key Additions-3B Dave Thompson(tr-Ana)
Key Losses-SS Tony Guerrero(tr-Hel), 1B Jamie May(tr-Ott), SP Ron Sweeney(FA)

So Fargo won the NLCS and went on to the World Series and lost to Nashville. They were just 1 step from winning it all. So what do they do to get them over the top? Well, I think they decided to go younger and rebuild. Management claimed that last season they thought they were a playoff contender but didn't think they were a World Series contender. The team was getting older though and needed a rebuild eventually. With all the players moving around from this franchise they are not likely to win the division this season. Management claims that they will rebuild as fast as possible. Last seasons remarkable run looks even more so when seeing how this team finished offensively. They were average at best. They look less than average this season, but they do have plenty of power. They aren't much of a running team, but they do have some speed if they choose to use it. The defense last season was also just average if not below average. They appear to be better than that, but not much better. The pitching was pretty good last season. I think they have a pretty good staff still. They have a few very good starters in Ontiveros, Sweeney, and Hayashi. The bullpen is still good as well. If this team can win games with the pitching, then they could be a playoff contender, but I don't think it will be enough. A return to the World Series likely will not happen and the playoffs may be a long shot as well.

Trenton Thunders
Season 15 record- 89-73
5 year record- 351-459

Offense- Average-14th(.260), OBP-13th(.322), Slg-13th(.395), Runs-11th(740), HR-13th(169), SB-2nd(250)
Defense- Fielding %-6th(.984), Plus Plays-4th(71), Minus Plays-3rd(26)
Pitching- ERA-7th(4.07), OAV-3rd(.249), SO-6th(1115), Saves-7th(45/60)

Key Additions-SP Bud Donnels(FA)
Key Losses-None

Trenton made a push last season in the division. They just missed the playoffs and it's been since season 7 that they have been there. The 89 wins last season was 3rd all time for this franchise. They could be on the verge of making the post season, or they could have just played was over their heads last season. Offensively this team was not very good last season. They did steal a lot of bases though, but they just didn't get on base enough. I think they actually hit worse than they are capable of. The team doesn't showcase much power potential, but they do have some contact hitters. I think they are closer to average than last season. The fielding was good last season. The overall fielding is good but they lack a real shortstop with range and glove. The defense will probably be just above average this season. The pitching was above average last season. They have a pretty good bullpen, but the rotation for this team isn't very good. It'll be interesting to see how they use the pitching staff since most of the pitchers have decent stamina, which allows them to be creative. This isn't an overly impressive team and I'm still not sure how good they really are. My guess is that they win around 80 games and miss out on the playoffs.

Helena Ass Hats
Season 15 record- 84-78
5 year record- 397-413

Offense- Average-7th(.267), OBP-12th(.326), Slg-3rd(.445), Runs-7th(764), HR-3rd(241), SB-6th(127)
Defense- Fielding %-10th(.982), Plus Plays-9th(54), Minus Plays-10th(44)
Pitching- ERA-5th(3.89), OAV-5th(.256), SO-4th(1125), Saves-1st(53/66)

Key Additions-3B/SS Tony Guerrero(tr-Fargo), SP Wayne Perez(tr-Sea), RP Carlos Flores(tr-Sea)
Key Losses-SS Ramon Martin(tr-CSP), SP Dock King(FA), SP Valerio Duran(FA)

Helena won this division a couple seasons ago and last season went backwards and fell to third. They dropped the win total by 8 games and looked to be falling behind in this division. They needed to make some moves to get back on track. Unfortunately they lost a couple good starting pitchers to free agency. They countered that by going out and trading for Perez and Flores to give the pitching staff a boost. The trade for Guerrero helps offensively and defensively as well. Last season the offense finished pretty average. They had plenty of power but that didn't help them get on base and score enough runs to be a top offense. They do have a good offense, but there isn't much contact hitting going on. They have some power and should score some runs. They add some speed to that on the bases. The defense last season was a bit below average. I think they are at least and average defense this year if not a bit above average. The pitching was this teams strength last season and really should be again. The rotation, even with the losses, is pretty good. They have some good relievers as well. They should once again be a real good pitching team. This team right now is my pick to win the division. They are the closest to being the most complete team in the division. I think they can win around 90 games and if the hitting does better than I expect, they could be one of the better teams in the NL.

Iowa City Hawkeyes
Season 15 record- 39-123
5 year record- 300-510

Offense- Average-15th(.252), OBP-16th(.307), Slg-16th(.362), Runs-16th(607), HR-15th(129), SB-8th(120)
Defense- Fielding %-15th(.979), Plus Plays-12th(38), Minus Plays-15th(83)
Pitching- ERA-16th(5.77), OAV-16th(.302), SO-16th(954), Saves-16th(28/49)

Key Additions-SP Clay Jeter(tr-Charlotte), RP Rondell Kirwan(Claimed), SP Wes Sanders(FA)
Key Losses-None

New ownership is in for this franchise. This will surely be an interesting rebuild for this franchise. The previous owner didn't do much for the franchise in building up the minors after all the losing. They didn't sign a top draft pick in the past few seasons and left this team dry. To be honest, I was shocked I could even find an owner to replace them. New ownership has claimed that there are no big expectations heading into this season. This team has only finished above 500 one time in team history and has never made the post season. Management isn't expecting that to change this season. The good thing for this team is that they only have $20 mil on the books for next season and $5.6 mil for the following two. That is nice for a rebuilding team. The offense last season was awful. I wouldn't expect too much of a change this season as they bring some young guys up, but they have to be better than last season. The fielding was bad as well. I actually think we will see improvement in this area. The team has some good fielders. I'd say they are better than average defensively. The same story holds true for the pitching last season. I think the pitching isn't really that bad and could finish out of the basement this season. I still don't think they are above average, but they aren't the worst. The story this season in Iowa City is rebuilding. Ownership is committed to it and there is no way to go but up for this franchise. How far up will depend on how the process goes over the next few seasons.

Fargo seems like they are always the team to beat in this division, but I think that has changed. They are going through a rebuild starting this season, but it doesn't appear to be a complete rebuild. They still have pieces there to challenge the other teams. Trenton had a really good season last season, but I think they over achieved and will find it hard to be where they were last season. Helena has made some changes to a good team and are expecting bigger things this season. It could be the franchises second division title this season. Iowa City is in full rebuild mode and are likely to not contend much.

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

AL West Season 16 preview

AL West
Last season we found a rare franchise atop this division at seasons end. The franchise in LA won just their second division title and made the playoffs for just the third time in team history. The most successful franchise in this division, the team formerly in Vancouver came in second again. Cheyenne couldn't defend their division title and dropped back to third place. St Louis under new ownership struggled, but improved upon previous ownerships win total. This division has seen it's share of owners come and go, but it looks like that may be settling down now. The days of replacing multiple owners a season for the West have now become just replacing one owner the past couple seasons. Maybe these teams will start getting some good direction so that they can compete for playoff spots in the near future.

Los Angeles Regulators
Season 15 record- 88-74(AL West Champs)
5 year record- 378-432

Offense- Average-9th(.264), OBP-6th(.336), Slg-13th(.415), Runs-11th(766), HR-12th(200), SB-5th(141)
Defense- Fielding %-10th(.982), Plus Plays-7th(61), Minus Plays-2nd(25)
Pitching- ERA-5th(3.98), OAV-5th(.250), SO-4th(1091), Saves-7th(44/62)

Key Additions-3B Rafael Cervantes(tr-Sea), SP Jose Bravo(tr-Sea), SP Benji Crespo(tr-Sea)
Key Losses-3B Freddy Cuddyer(FA), SP Edgar Santana(tr-Sea)

Last season this team was taken over by new ownership and won their first division title since season 10. They improved the win total by 24 games over the previous season as well. This was the one team that really messed up my predictions in the AL as they were the only division winner I didn't predict. When I asked the owner to describe how he feels about winning the division after I predicted incorrectly he replied, "If at first you don't succeed then maybe you just suck." Last season the team was about average to a little below offensively. The loss of Cuddyer hurts, but the addition of NL MVP Cervantes eases that loss. The team has some good hitters in the lineup, but they lack power as Fleming is the only real threat of hitting the long ball. They have quite a bit of speed though and should be able to steal plenty of bases. The defense was just below average but had good range. I think the team will still be below average defensively, but they do have a really good fielding shortstop. They really lack a centerfielder. The pitching last season was one of the best in the AL. They brought in a couple new starting pitchers that should help make them even better. I really like the rotation and the bullpen is pretty good as well. This team is going to be tough to beat for the division this season. I think they can win over 90 games and they only thing really holding them back is defense.

Anaheim Annihilation
Season 15 record- 80-82
5 year record- 423-387

Offense- Average-8th(.266), OBP-8th(.329), Slg-5th(.455), Runs-6th(823), HR-2nd(263), SB-7th(109)
Defense- Fielding %-7th(.984), Plus Plays-14th(42), Minus Plays-15th(62)
Pitching- ERA-8th(4.69), OAV-9th(.269), SO-7th(1061), Saves-2nd(47/67)

Key Additions-None
Key Losses-SP Bud Donnels(FA), 3B Dave Thompson(tr-Far)

This team was taken over by new ownership in the off season and relocated to Anaheim from Vancouver. It will be interesting to see the direction that the new ownership decides to go with this group. Just a few seasons ago this team was making it 3 straight division titles(all with different owners). They won 80 games last season and didn't really challenge for the division title. The offense was average with plenty of homerun power and a little speed as well. The team is pretty much built the same this season. They won't hit for high average, but can change a game with the long ball. They should also steal some bases but don't have the speed to change games with it. The defense was really below average last season. They lack a true shortstop, but the addition of Apollo Willis in centerfield will help. I think this team is better defensively but the shortstop position will hold them back from being a good defense. The pitching was just average last season. They didn't really address this in the off season and I think they may be a bit below average this season. The rotation is not terrible, but not good either. The bullpen isn't a strength either. This team, while not bad, isn't really good enough to take the division title. I don't think they can win the division this season, but they could win 80 games again.

Cheyenne Rawhide
Season 15 record- 75-87
5 year record- 395-415

Offense- Average-13th(.259), OBP-13th(.325), Slg-14th(.400), Runs-13th(756), HR-15th(176), SB-12th(79)
Defense- Fielding %-8th(.983), Plus Plays-11th(48), Minus Plays-9th(32)
Pitching- ERA-10th(4.90), OAV-8th(.268), SO-11th(1018), Saves-6th(45/53)

Key Additions-C Antonio Zhang(FA), RF Rob Lee(FA)
Key Losses-SS Donne Wells(FA), RP Omar Sanchez(FA)

These guys took a step backwards last season after winning the division in season 14. They needed something in the off season to give the team a spark to try to get back in the race again. I believe they at the very least tried to do that with the additions of Zhang and Lee. Those are 2 pretty good signings. Last season this team was pretty bad offensively. I don't see how they can repeat that sorry performance this season. They have some good hitters in their lineup this season. They really lack power throughout the lineup though and they won't change games with homeruns. They don't really have much stolen base threat outside of Matt Palmer and the team won't be able to use that to win them ball games. The defense was average last season. They have some players that can field good, but they aren't great. They look to me like an above average group with the glove. The team was also average at pitching last season. They have a few good pitchers on the staff, but besides that it's a weakness for this team. Cheyenne has improved the team in the off season, but I don't think it was enough to get this team into the post season. The major weakness is pitching and I can see that holding them back to under 80 victories again this season.
St Louis Vipers
Season 15 record- 67-95
5 year record- 302-508

Offense- Average-16th(.245), OBP-16th(.314), Slg-16th(.385), Runs-16th(685), HR-14th(188), SB-8th(99)
Defense- Fielding %-10th(.982), Plus Plays-9th(52), Minus Plays-10th(33)
Pitching- ERA-16th(5.64), OAV-15th(.287), SO-13th(990), Saves-10th(42/53)

Key Additions-RP Bernard Hoffman(FA), RP Archie Goldman(FA), RP Cam Hogan(FA), RP Omar Sanchez(FA)
Key Losses-None

This franchise seems to be always going through a rebuilding process as they are now. With so many owners in their history, there really has been nothing to build on. This ownership is in their second season now and hopefully for this franchise, they stick around long enough to get the ship right. In the teams first season in St Louis they improved their record by 9 games from season 14 and that's a welcome sight. The offense though, was bad last season. They finished last in nearly every category. The team didn't do much in the off season to help this though. They lack contact hitters, and power, but they do have some speed. Just not enough speed to make a difference. The defense though, was pretty average last season. It should be right about the same this season. The pitching was bad last season. That is the one area this team really upgraded in the off season. They loaded up on relief pitchers that will help this bullpen quite a bit. The problem is that the starting rotation isn't very good and those guys are going to be over worked. Keep in mind that this team is still in rebuild mode and really shouldn't be expecting to challenge for the division title. They are a couple seasons away from being able to really compete and this season will be another challenging season for them. I would think it would be a successful season if they reach 65 wins.

Los Angeles is the team to beat in the West this season. They should have no problem winning this division. The Anaheim team is good but not in the upper echelon of the AL. I don't think they have what it takes to win the division this season and likely won't make the playoffs. Cheyenne is improved, but the are lacking in pitching and that worries me with any team. That will be too big of a problem to over come. St Louis is rebuilding and patience is key for that franchise.

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

Sunday, June 19, 2011

AL South Season 16 preview

AL South
It sure appears that Nashville has taken full control of this division. They've now won the division four straight seasons and last season took it one step further and won the World Series. Tampa Bay, a franchise that dominated the division the previous seven seasons has now taken a back seat to the World champs in the south. They have just missed out on the post season four straight seasons now, even though they have put up some very good win totals. The New Orleans franchise owned this division the first four seasons of the league, but have only seen the playoffs twice since. They have put up respectable win totals in their rebuild process and aren't a bad team. They just haven't been playoff caliber. The franchise in Austin has only made the post season one time and that was as a wild card team. They have finished in the basement of the division seven seasons in a row and have been hovering around the 60 win mark for the past five. This team is in need of a really good season to show the fans that they are doing the right things.

Nashville Nalas
Season 15 record- 112-50(AL South Champs, World Series Champs)
5 year record- 490-320

Offense- Average-1st(.292), OBP-1st(.369), Slg-1st(.473), Runs-1st(1064), HR-5th(236), SB-14th(66)
Defense- Fielding %-2nd(.987), Plus Plays-1st(83), Minus Plays-1st(12)
Pitching- ERA-4th(3.94), OAV-3rd(.247), SO-3rd(1092), Saves-2nd(47/53)

Key Additions-None
Key Losses-3B Omar Siqueiros(FA)

Guys, here is your season 15 World Champion. This team dominated from day 1 last season and never let up. Ownership has really built a champion and they should continue to challenge for seasons to come. Last season was an impressive, 8th straight season in which the team improved their record from the previous season. Ownership is excited about what this team has to offer and have big plans of defending the championship and repeating. This is a very young team that will be tough to knock from their perch over the next few seasons. Offensively, this team was matched by none other last season. The only thing they lack is speed and it doesn't hurt them at all. They should be right where they were last season offensively if not better. The addition of slugging rookie John Pong will make this team a true power house. The defense was also among the best in the league. I don't think that will change much either. The defense is very good. The pitching may have been the weakest link on this team, but that's not saying much since they were also among the best in the league in pitching. The rotation is very good and the bullpen is very solid. They may not be great, but the pitching is still a top 5 in the league. My prediction is that this team will be very tough to beat this season and they are my early favorite to win the championship.

Tampa Bay Thunder
Season 15 record- 85-77
5 year record- 440-370

Offense- Average-4th(.274), OBP-4th(.338), Slg-9th(.432), Runs-7th(803), HR-11th(202), SB-4th(180)
Defense- Fielding %-8th(.983), Plus Plays-15th(31), Minus Plays-14th(58)
Pitching- ERA-7th(4.54), OAV-6th(.264), SO-2nd(1119), Saves-7th(44/60)

Key Additions-None
Key Losses-LF Justin Walters(FA)

This has been one of the more impressive franchises in Pine Tar. They've never had a losing record and have posted eight 90 win seasons. The franchise has missed the post season each of the last 4 seasons even though they have been one of the better teams in the AL. It seems like so long ago that this team was in 4 out of 5 World Series and winning 2 of them. Ownership still has that winning mentality though and will try to get this team back to the top. Offensively this team was built on contact and speed and finished last season toward the top of the league in both categories. They didn't show much power and finished pretty average in runs. It's pretty much the same thing heading into this season. The defense last season was average to below average. The team made no real changes here. The defense is average at best. The team was also average in pitching last season. The rotation is good and they have some good relievers as well. I think the defense hurts the pitching staff as I believe they are a good staff. The team should challenge for the post season again this season, but I don't think they are on Nashville's level and don't have much a shot at winning the division. I think they can win close to 90 games and if they can improve the defense they could finish even better.

New Orleans Nighthawks
Season 15 record- 75-87
5 year record- 381-429

Offense- Average-5th(.271), OBP-10th(.327), Slg-7th(.444), Runs-5th(831), HR-8th(220), SB-3rd(184)
Defense- Fielding %-10th(.982), Plus Plays-10th(50), Minus Plays-4th(27)
Pitching- ERA-12th(5.08), OAV-11th(.278), SO-12th(1012), Saves-7th(44/53)

Key Additions-2B Jeremy Stanley(FA), RP John Chen(FA), RP Ron Bowen(FA), RP Victor Daly(FA)
Key Losses- CF-Louie Caballero(FA), RP Vitas Perez(FA)

Last season the Nighthawks appeared to be on their way up. They improved their record and showed improvement from the previous season. Youngster Sam Slotnick added some life to this team and made them respectable offensively. The team still has some older players around that will help them out, but they have brought in some youth that will help them out. Last season this team was average to slightly above offensively. The addition of Stanley will help them out some. They aren't a very good contact team, but they have a little power and plenty of speed. The offense should be a bit above average this season. The defense was below average last season. I like the shortstop Hernandez, and the defense isn't bad. I think the defense will be decent and won't hurt the team. The pitching for this team was bottom of the league last season. They made some moves in the off season to upgrade it, but mostly to help the bullpen. The rotation isn't very good, but the bullpen is pretty good. It will be interesting to see how it plays out with this staff. If the starters hold up enough the bullpen should get them through the game. I think this is a decent team that has made some improvements. They should be able to win 80 games this season and could be a few starting rotation additions away from being a playoff team.

Austin Tumbleweeds
Season 15 record- 62-100
5 year record- 307-503

Offense- Average-11th(.262), OBP-14th(.321), Slg-11th(.419), Runs-12th(761), HR-13th(193), SB-1st(232)
Defense- Fielding %-16th(.976), Plus Plays-16th(16), Minus Plays-16th(66)
Pitching- ERA-13th(5.16), OAV-12th(.279), SO-1st(1151), Saves-15th(35/55)

Key Additions-None
Key Losses-None

The team in Austin has now been in a stretch of losing for 7 seasons. By now they should be making a turn for better times and bringing in some youth that they've built up through the draft over this time. They do have a younger roster as only 3 players are 30 or older. The team does have some young talent on the roster. Is this the season that the fans in Austin finally have reason for hope? Offensively last season this team was in the bottom portion of the league in all but stolen bases. They finished first in steals and have plenty of team speed. The team lacks real contact throughout the lineup though and have little power to threaten with. The defense last season was just awful. Without a real shortstop or centerfielder I have no reason to believe that will change. The pitching staff was one of the worst in the league as well last season. Looking at what they have, I believe they may have the worst pitching in the AL. The team doesn't look good for this season, but they do have some young talent coming through the minor leagues and could be just a season or two away from making a push up the ladder. It will be a long season again in Austin, but if the stick to the course, it shouldn't be long until they are able to compete.

Nashville is a very tough team and should run away with the division this season. They are the reigning world champs and could very well repeat as champions. Tampa is a good team and could be a playoff team. New Orleans appears to be making strides and could be much better with a few moves during the season if they are competing. Austin isn't a team that will do much this season but they at least have some hope for the future.

1. Nashville
2. Tampa Bay
3. New Orleans
4. Austin

Saturday, June 18, 2011

AL East Season 16 preview

AL East
Atlanta has had control of this division for the past couple of seasons with impressive leads. They won the division by 19 games last season, after winning it by 33 games the season before. Durham made a nice improvement last season and showed signs of getting back in this division title picture. New ownership came in and brought a team to Boston. The team had a lot of work to do to get that team back on track and in doing so were still respectable. Chicago took some steps backward after finishing second in the division in season 14 to finish at the bottom last season. If things hold in this division then we won't see any interesting finishes this season, but let's take a look at what each team looks like before settling for any predictions.

Atlanta Red Tide
Season 15 record- 95-67(AL East Champ)
5 year record- 428-382

Offense- Average-14th(.254), OBP-10th(.327), Slg-8th(.442), Runs-9th(786), HR-4th(252), SB-11th(92)
Defense- Fielding-5th(.986), Plus Plays-3rd(76), Minus Plays-4th(27)
Pitching- ERA-2nd(3.72), OAV-3rd(.247), SO-16th(954), Saves-2nd(47/58)

Key Additions-LF Nap Clements(FA)
Key Losses-LF Alvin Reed(FA)

This team in Atlanta, after 7 seasons of below 500 ball, have moved into the upper class of the AL. A second straight division title last season wrapped up the teams 5th title in their history. Unfortunately, the success hasn't followed them into the post season. For the second straight season they lost in the first round of the post season. The weakness of the club last season, the hitting needed to be upgraded and the team brought in Nap Clements to help that cause. That is surely an upgrade from Alvin Reed, whom they lost, even though Reed was a pretty good hitter. The team has some really good young hitters in Stratton and North and the teams top power hitter Tommy Parker returns. The offense should be better than it was last season, but I don't think it is a strength. The defense was in the top half of the league last season and I don't think that will change. They have a pretty good fielding team. The pitching staff was one of the best in the AL last season. The pitching talent by looks is average, and I think the fielding helped the pitchers over achieve. They do have some really good pitchers though, so it's not like the pitching on the team is all average. I still think this team is a playoff team and should win over 90 games again. I don't think they made the moves to make this team the team to beat in the AL though.

Durham Doormats
Season 15 record- 76-86
5 year record- 364-446

Offense- Average-7th(.268), OBP-7th(.331), Slg-4th(.456), Runs-8th(800), HR-1st(273), SB-16th(11)
Defense- Fielding %-2nd(.987), Plus Plays-3rd(76), Minus Plays-12th(39)
Pitching- ERA-11th(5.04), OAV-12th(.279), SO-10th(1022), Saves-5th(46/63)

Key Additions-None
Key Losses-SP Tony Ramirez(FA)

Durham took some big steps forward last season, improving their win total by 10 games and finishing second in the division. The team hasn't had a winning record since season 10, even though they won the division in season 13. They have a very young roster that should continue to get better. Last season, the offense was just above average in the AL, and actually finished first in homers. The team only stole 11 bases last season and could use a little bit of a threat on the base paths. They didn't make any major moves in the off season to upgrade the offense, but with a young team, that isn't really necessary. The hitting on this squad appears to be pretty much the same as last season, close to average. They have some power, but so will most teams when they come to Durham to play. The homerun totals were definitely aided by the park. Last season this team finished near the top of the league in fielding. There are some good fielders on this team and Faulk is a young and very good shortstop. I'm not sure this is a top 3 fielding bunch but they are good and should finish in the upper half of the league again. The pitching staff was not very good last season, but as with the offense, it's tough to be good in Durham. They have some good pitchers, especially in the bullpen, on this team. The rotation could use a couple good arms, but the bullpen is the strength on this staff. As bad as the pitching was last season, they finished fifth in saves. The problem I see is that they don't have many groundball pitchers and that will hurt a team that plays in a hitters ballpark. This team isn't bad, but I don't think they have what it takes to move into the top spot of the division. I think they'll struggle to break 80 wins, but it's not out of the question.

Boston Pilgrims
Season 15 record- 68-94
5 year record- 353-457

Offense- Average-10th(.263), OBP-9th(.328), Slg-10th(.421), Runs-14th(748), HR-10th(206), SB-13th(75)
Defense- Fielding %-10th(.982), Plus Plays-8th(53), Minus Plays-6th(29)
Pitching- ERA-14th(5.23), OAV-16th(.293), SO-8th(1043), Saves-13th(39/58)

Key Additions-None
Key Losses-RP Phillip Allen(FA)

After many seasons of ups and downs, and many trades and signings, that had this team looking like they had no direction at all, new ownership came in last season and appears to have put a plan in place for this team. This team has had many owners and has never really had any direction at all. Aside from winning the division with the franchises only winning season back in season 12, this franchise has been a disaster. The new ownership seems to be taking a different approach and didn't go out and trade away all of the future for a couple good players that won't put them on top of the division for long. They stayed quiet in free agency, and made no trades at all. The only player they lost of any value was an aging relief pitcher. The team has a really young roster of players as only 4 players are above the age of 30. Last seasons big IFA signing, Rico Tatis, should make a push for rookie of the year and they have some other good youngsters to mix with him. Last season this offense was just below average and close to the bottom of the league in scoring runs. I think they should be a little better this season and possibly closer to the above average crowd. The thing that hurts them is the depth. After the top hitters on this team there isn't much. The fielding was close to average last season and it probably will be again. The fielding doesn't impress me much and could use an upgrade here or there. The pitching ranked near the bottom of the league last season. The starting pitching isn't very good, but they do have a few good arms in the pen. Overall, this is a below average staff and possibly close to the bottom of the league. This season, the team will continue to rebuild and work it's way toward hopefully a brighter future. They have some of the tools in place and with a few more seasons could get to that point.

Chicago Wind Tunnel
Season 15 record- 59-103
5 year record- 358-452

Offense- Average-12th(.259), OBP-12th(.326), Slg-15th(.396), Runs-10th(769), HR-16th(169), SB-2nd(205)
Defense- Fielding %-15th(.978), Plus Plays-12th(44), Minus Plays-13th(52)
Pitching- ERA-15th(5.32), OAV-14th(.283), SO-14th(984), Saves-11th(40/56)

Key Additions-None
Key Losses-None

Last season was a new low for this franchise, winning a franchise low 59 games. After many seasons of being at the top of the division, this franchise has fallen on hard times recently. The good thing for this franchise is that they are young and inexpensive, which gives the team the funds to try and rebuild. The ownership has put many of their funds into the draft scouting and should be able to find some good players and build through the draft. Last season the teams offense ranked in the bottom half of the league. The team did finish second in steals. The offense will probably be about the same this season. Their strength is in speed, and they should be able to finish near the top again in steals. The defense was just bad last season. I don't see any reason to believe that will change. They still lack a true shortstop and the team is just not very good with the gloves. The pitching was also pretty bad last season. I don't think that will change this season either. The pitching staff is loaded with average to below average talent. Hopefully for this team, the money spent in the draft will start paying off soon as the fans in Chicago, while used to losing teams, won't settle for losing much longer.

I believe this is still Atlanta's division to lose. Atlanta appears to be the only real playoff contender in the division and the other teams are just playing for respectability. Durham is improving and could push Atlanta for some of the season. Boston doesn't appear to be a contender, but I don't think they are very far off from being one. Chicago should struggle again this season as they continue to rebuild.

1. Atlanta
2. Durham
3. Boston
4. Chicago

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Season 16 preview-AL North

Here we go again. Another season has begun, off season is pretty much over and each and every team is tied for best record in the league again. After a season in which I really slacked on the blog, my plan this season is to get back to what is acceptable with this thing. I know, everyone can't wait to see what I have to say about their teams so they can call me an idiot and try to prove that I don't know what I'm talking about. I would like to point out that I did a pretty good job in the AL last season though. I predicted 3 of 4 division winners and gave a pretty good prediction of each divisions finishes. I was 12 for 16 on division finishes in the AL. Take that to the bank and cash it. Seriously though, I hope everyone enjoys reading these as much as I enjoy writing them. Um, actually I hope you enjoy reading these much more than that because writing these can be a pain in the ass. One last thing I have to add. I would like to thank all the owners that have been a part of this league, especially those that have been here for quite a while, for making this league so much fun for me. I would also like to thank the few new owners for joining and hope that you guys can find as much fun as I have in this league and stick around a while. I hope everyone has an enjoyable season and gets their teams going in the right directions.

AL North
By now everyone that is not a part of this division is tired of seeing me put in print how great of a division this is and seeing the stats and info to back it up. Well guys, I'm sorry but I'm going to do it again. I think most divisions wish they could put together what this division has. In each of the past 5 seasons, the AL North has put 3 teams in the post season. They have 34 post season appearances in all. As a matter of fact, you have to go all the way back to season 6, to see an ALCS without a team from this division in it. They have 2 World Champs, and 4 World Series appearances. The division has produced thirteen 100 win seasons and each team has accomplished that feat at least twice. Last season was much of the same in the AL North. Syracuse won the division for the fifth straight season, with Milwaukee and Ottawa securing the Wild Card spots. Milwaukee, found themselves in the ALCS for the second time in four seasons after finishing third in this grueling division.

Syracuse Snow Pirates
Season 15 record- 109-53(AL North Champs)
5 year record- 550-260

Offense- Average-5th(.271), OBP-4th(.338), Slg-3rd(.461), Runs-4th(856), HR-3rd(262), SB-15th(24)
Defense- Fielding %-1st(.991), Plus Plays-1st(83), Minus Plays-2nd(25)
Pitching- ERA-1st(3.46), OAV-1st(.239), SO-6th(1065), Saves-1st(58/72)

Key Additions-None
Key Losses-RF Rob Lee(FA), 3B Rob McNamara(FA)

After back to back World Series appearances, a threepeat as AL champs wasn't meant to be. The defending World Champs really had nowhere to go but down, but I doubt management expected a 3 games to 1 loss to division rival Milwaukee in the DCS. Arguably one of the best teams in the AL during the regular season just couldn't carry that success into the playoffs. It seems they are content with what they have and didn't make any big moves to bring in some help. They did however lose a couple key players that have been big parts for this team the past few seasons in Lee and McNamara. Those are blows to the offense for sure. The team has been at the top of the rankings offensively for quite some time and while they slipped a bit last season they were still a tough team to pitch to. The team does still have some good hitting and shouldn't drop too much in the rankings if at all. The team was atop the league defensively again last season and heading into season 16, not much has changed. They are still an elite defensive team. One of the best pitching teams for years, this group should continue to be among the best group of arms in Pine Tar. I think this is still an elite team without the losses or adding anything to it, just maybe not as elite as they were. I have no doubt that this team will finish near the top of the league once again this season.

Ottawa Otters
Season 15 record- 97-65
5 year record- 491-319

Offense- Average-3rd(.283), OBP-3rd(.345), Slg-5th(.455), Runs-3rd(908), HR-7th(226), SB-6th(134)
Defense- Fielding %-2nd(.987), Plus Plays-12th(44), Minus Plays-7th(30)
Pitching- ERA-3rd(3.93), OAV-2nd(.244), SO-5th(1084), Saves-16th(30/47)

Key Additions-3B Freddy Cuddyer(FA)
Key Losses-SP Greg DeJean(FA), LF Nap Clements(FA), 2B Jeremy Stanley(FA)

Ottawa has been another really tough team for quite a while now. They've been close to the top of the league but just not good enough to take over the top spot in the division from Syracuse. The team put together a very impressive regular season in season 15, but got to the playoffs and ended their season with a 3 games to 2 loss to Los Angeles in the Wild Card round. So what did they do in the off season? They went and took one of LA's top players as the teams only major addition. They declined the options on a few of their own top players and seen them go to other teams in free agency. Is this a sign of decline or just a few moves that needed to be made? Well offensively Ottawa was one of the better teams in the AL last season and looking at the roster it seems they will be again. They still have good contact hitters and a couple guys that will hit some homers. They should get some steals out of Presley to add a threat of speed, but besides that the team will probably not be stealing a lot of bases. The fielding on this team is impressive and should finish near the top of the league again. The pitching should be good again this season as well. The rotation is good and they have some good arms in the bullpen as well. They should finish toward the top of the AL in pitching. This team is going to be good again this season, but a slip in win total wouldn't surprise me. I doubt this is a 100 win team, but I also doubt they are below a 90 win team. Ottawa should challenge for a wild card spot as I don't think they have the talent to take the top spot in the division this season.

Milwaukee Cream Citys
Season 15 record- 88-74(ALCS runner up)
5 year record- 480-330

Offense- Average-2nd(.286), OBP-2nd(.350), Slg-2nd(.462), Runs-2nd(916), HR-9th(218), SB-8th(99)
Defense- Fielding %-14th(.979), Plus Plays-6th(62), Minus Plays-11th(37)
Pitching- ERA-6th(4.43), OAV-6th(.264), SO-9th(1027), Saves-11th(40/54)

Key Additions-SP Russell Wheeler(FA)
Key Losses-SP John Ashley(FA)

Here is the example of a team that under achieved in the regular season and turned it on in the playoffs. Already a dangerous squad with a top offense, the team lacked defense and elite pitching. They finished near the top of the league in pitching but well off the pace of the top teams in the AL. The team was much more successful in season 14 during the regular season but found no success in the post season that season. Last season was the exact opposite. The question will be this season if they can get to the top. The offense, while not losing any major pieces is still intact. They don't have much power and they aren't the best contact hitters but they produce quality at bats. They can steal some bases but are not real threats on the bases. The pitching rotation is fairly average if not a bit below average. Wheeler will help some as he is the only player that I label as a key addition. The loss of the aging John Ashley won't really hurt the team. The bullpen is decent but not in the upper part of the league.  The defense wasn't a bright spot of this team last season and I doubt they will be again. My prediction for this team is that they won't match the success from last season. I think the are going to struggle to make the post season this time around and don't really match up well with the top teams in this division.

Minnesota PeaceFrog
Season 15 record- 68-94
5 year record- 339-451

Offense- Average-15th(.252), OBP-15th(.318), Slg-12th(.417), Runs-15th(731), HR-6th(233), SB-10th(93)
Defense- Fielding %-6th(.985), Plus Plays-5th(66), Minus Plays-7th(30)
Pitching- ERA-9th(4.88), OAV-10th(.272), SO-15th(955), Saves-14th(36/62)

Key Additions-C Stretch Wilkinson(Rule V)
Key Losses-None

This once proud franchise continued the rebuild process last season and found themselves in last place of a tough division for a fifth consecutive season. The team did improve upon the previous seasons win total and showed some positive signs as they continue to move forward. The offense finished in the upper half of the league in homers and the defense was at the top of the league as well. Committed to the process, ownership has chose not to make any splash signings in free agency and stick to the plan. Offensively, the team was bad for the most part last season, even though they did hit some bombs to keep the crowds excited. It looks to be pretty much the same this season as the team surely has some power but not much contact and overall hitting abilities. The fielding on the team is good, but not great. I can see this being the strength of the team, but they aren't among the best in the league. The starting rotation is solid and should eat up some innings. The bullpen isn't too bad either. I think they will improve upon last seasons numbers and should get some good pitching this season. To sum up this team, I think they will finish at the bottom again, but it won't be long until they are challenging once again. They have some players in the minors that should be ready to help out this club soon and get this team back to being one of the better teams in the AL.

I don't see a whole lot of improvement across the division as the teams chose to stay with what they have. That isn't really a bad thing though. Syracuse should be the team to beat once again with Ottawa right behind them. Milwaukee is the team that has me puzzled. I'm not sure if they have the team to challenge for the division but they could be a playoff team again. I'm just not sure. Minnesota will continue to rebuild, but I think they are closer this season and will start to make a real push next season.

1. Syracuse
2. Ottawa
3. Milwaukee
4. Minnesota

Friday, June 3, 2011

Owner of the Year-Season 15

Time to vote for the owner of the year for this past season. Once again, I had to go through and decide who to include and who to leave out. There are some owners that got left off the list that had good seasons, but I didn't want to go over 10 choices. The list leaves off some owners that made the post season and has an owner that didn't, but I had good reasons. I'll explain why I think each owner that was included is on the list.

prezuiwf (Syracuse)
Being included on this list is routine for prez. Each season, putting out one of the best teams in the world. Once again, Syracuse was a force in Pine Tar. Finishing 109-53 was good for the second best record this season. The team did miss out on a third consecutive World Series appearance, but that doesn't take away from the fact that this team dominated for 162 games of the regular season. In what is the best division in the league, pulling off a 100 win season and another division title is once again impressive.

jquick1 (Milwaukee)
jquick1 may have finished 3rd in the division this season, but that didn't stop them from making it to the ALCS. This team finished 88-74, and finished 3rd in the division, but this is a brutal division. jquick1 can be over looked sometimes being in such a tough division and never winning the division title, but this owner has produced in the post season. 2 of the last 4 seasons jquick1 has been in the ALCS and has now made 5 straight post season appearances. Just another something to keep in mind when voting.

radkison (Atlanta)
radkison has now ran the team in Atlanta for 5 seasons and has brought this team back to prominence. After posting an impressive 104 wins a couple seasons ago, they followed it up with 95 wins this season. Winning the division by 19 games, radkison has dominated the division for the past 2 seasons now. They haven't taken that next step in the post season yet, but that shouldn't deter you from voting for this owner that has got this team on the map. The team is right up there as one of the best in the league.

bnags (Nashville)
bnags has done something very impressive in this world, and it's not the fact that they are the current World Champs. Nashville has now improved their record for 8 straight seasons. With 112 wins this season, I think they can possibly do it again next season. What a run for this franchise? Now having won 4 consecutive division titles the team finally reached the top of the mountain and added that World Championship. Any other reasons to vote for this team? This is one heck of a team that bnags has put together.

bobswagger91 (LA)
In his first season running this franchise, bobswagger91 found a way to get them into the post season for the 3rd time in franchise history. They improved the win total from the previous season by an impressive 24 games and won the division for just the second time in franchise history. With an 88-74 record, it may be the lowest total of teams to make the list, but based on the history of this franchise, it is very worthy of some votes.

Starbuckdc (Fargo)
A season after not winning the division for the first time, this team took it's place atop the division once again. Surely the most impressive franchise in league history, this owner continually finds ways to make a mark in the league. The runner up for the Championship, this team participated in their 5th World Series this season. At 90-72 during the regular season, Fargo didn't look like the team to beat in the post season, but everyone should have known better. 10 times this team has made the NLCS now.

qtip32 (Trenton)
This is the only team on the list that didn't make the post season. With a record of 89-73, the team improved their record by 28 games this season. It was also only the second time in franchise history that they finished second in the division and third time posting a winning record. qtip32 has done a great job at setting this team up to challenge for the division title. They finished 1 game behind Fargo this season and was very close to making sure that Fargo didn't even have a chance to make the World Series. A pretty good season any way you look at it.

greygoose123 (Jacksonville)
This team appeared to be on the decline a couple seasons ago, but they came back and improved their record by 19 games this season and finishing 93-69. Making it back to the top of the division once again after a 1 season layoff, this team has now won 9 division crowns and 5 of the last 6. They fell just short of the World Series, losing to Fargo in the NLCS. It was their fifth trip to the NLCS. greygoose123 did a great job again this season in getting this team back into the upper class of the league.

bobbyj7 (Jackson)
In his third season bobbyj7 got this team to win just their second division title and second post season appearance. Improving 14 games from season 14 they finished 97-65 for a franchise best record. Taking over a franchise that has seen many owners through the seasons, bobbyj7 seems to have brought some stability to this embattled franchise. This is another owner that is well deserving of some consideration as owner of the year.

ghutton9 (Seattle)
Seriously, do not vote for me. The only reason I included myself was because I had to. After having the best regular season record in the NL with a 98-64 record, this team once again disappointed in the post season. Getting handled by Fargo in the DCS was enough to not include me, but I didn't feel right about it after getting the #1 seed. Still a good season, but their are many more deserving candidates.

Owner Hall of Fame

I know I'm a little behind on this but I figure better late than never. Congrats to our latest entrant, bjohara1. bjohara1, has been an owner in the league since season 5 and has had pretty good success since entering the league. A World Series champ back in season 12, and 7 time division champion with the Charleston Riverdogs. The team has also reached the World Series 3 times, the NLCS 5 times and has made the post season in all but 1 season. Since taking over the franchise, they have gone 1035-747 and have posted three 100 win seasons with a high of 106 in season 11. The only time the team has had a losing record was the first season for this owner back in season 5 with a respectable record of 74-88. bjohara1, has been one of the more successful owners in Pine Tar over his tenure in the league and surely deserves this honor as our latest entrant into the Pine Tar Hall of Fame.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hall of Fame Review-Rich Meyers

Well, it's time for my final review of the season 15 Hall of Fame inductee's. The only pitcher elected this season was star pitcher Rich Meyers. Meyers had a great career in Pine Tar and is another of the three that more than deserved this honor. This crafty pitcher from Princeton, WV, surely had the career to enter the Pine Tar Hall of Fame.

Meyers got his start in Pine Tar back in season 1 with the Salt Lake City Slop Tarts. He pitched in Salt Lake City for his first 2 seasons before being traded to Philadelphia in season 3 when his original franchise moved to Portland. He would go on to pitch the rest of his career in Philadelphia. He pitched his last game for the franchise in season 11. For as dominant a pitcher as he was, Meyers played his career for very little money considering he could have made much more if he tested free agency. He made a total of 71.8 million dollars in his 11 seasons as he chose to resign twice with Philadelphia by giving them a hometown discount.

Meyers displayed really good control throughout his career and was especially tough on right handed hitters. Early in his career he was a power pitcher, but a couple injuries in his career forced him to be more crafty later on. He was a pitcher that kept the ball down in the zone a featured a good fastball to go with a decent slider and change up. He had an excellent 4th pitch with his curveball and had a cut fastball he would throw in their that wasn't very good and used more to get batters thinking.

This is the first pitcher to win a Cy Young in Pine Tar as he did so in season 1 and then repeated it in season 8. He also had 6 all star appearances in his career. The first Cy Young came after pitching 35 games and finishing 5 of those. He had a 25-5 record and pitched 264.2 innings. Opponents batted a .203 and he had an ERA of 2.41. His second Cy Young came after pitching 31 games, and going 19-6. In 184.2 innings he allowed opponents to hit .234 and had an ERA of 2.49.

The career stats for Meyers are 326 starts and 333 games, with 16 complete games. He finished 170-55 and also had 2 saves. In 2068.1 innings he struck out 1736 batters. Hitters batted only a .235 and had an OBP of .288. His final ERA was an outstanding 3.08 for his career. He had 20 wins twice, over 200 strike outs 3 times, and a sub 3.00 ERA seven times. His 25 wins in season 1 are still the record for most wins in a season.