Thursday, September 29, 2011

Season 17 previews-AL South

AL South
In the south last season, Nashville continued the reign of dominance they've had for 5 seasons now. They led the league in victories as they put together a good run that fell short in the ALCS. Back to back championships wasn't meant to be. New Orleans has continued to improve the past couple seasons as they improved to 80 victories and a 2nd place finish. Tampa Bay dropped off a bit and dropped to lower than 2nd for the first time in 12 seasons. It was also the the first time that the franchise finished with a losing record. It was a nice 15 season run. The team formerly of Austin, continued to struggle, but improved by 9 games over the previous season. With it seeming that things were turning around the owner of the franchise left and the new owner moved the team to San Juan for a fresh start.
Nashville Nalas
Season 16 record- 111-51(AL South Champs, ALCS runner up)
5 year record- 519-291

Offense- Average-1st(.289), OBP-1st(.363), Slg-1st(.471), Runs-1st(1004), HR-6th(236), SB-6th(148)
Defense- Fld %-3rd(.987), Plus Plays-2nd(101), Minus Plays-3rd(19)
Pitching- ERA-2nd(3.77), OAV-1st(.243), SO-4th(1110), Saves-3rd(46/61)

Offense: Well it's hard to find an actual strength for this team since the are so good at so many things. The team led the league in most offensive categories last season. The true strength here is depth. They have many good hitters on this team. They are led by reigning MVP Heinie Rice, allstar/silver slugger/ gold glover Juan Latos, and John Pong. The loss of Tino House hurts, but they have plenty of depth to make up for it.
Defense: Not only was this team great offensively last season, but they were defensively as well. Ismael Morales is a really good centerfielder. The loss of House hurt offensively, but they were able to bring up a better fielder at short in McKay Payton. Juan Latos brings great range to rightfield. This defense will have the gloves to remain near the top of the league this season.

Pitching: The top of the rotation. Alex Martis is a top young pitcher in the league. Dan Siebert is another good young rotation piece. Jeremi Rice is the #3 guy on this staff but could be a #1 on many other staffs as he is the reigning Cy Young winner. The top of this rotation is great.

Offense: Don't get me wrong by this, but the team is a bit short on power. That's not saying much because they do have power, but they could use a bit more. Rice is the only great power threat they have, but they do have plenty of it. I'm just trying to find something here.

Defense: I give up. I can't really find a weakness here. Not even a slight one. This team is really good defensively.

Pitching: Stamina in the rotation. Even the top arms in the rotation lack this. It means that the bullpen will be used quite often and that could wear the team down. It's a good bullpen, but I'd hate to see the bullpen cost these starters some guys if they are fatigued.

Summary- Nashville is a very good team and probably the most well rounded team in the AL. I think they will give it another go this season in trying to make the World Series. Right now this team is my pick to win it all.

New Orleans Nighthawks
Season 16 record- 80-82
5 year record- 386-424

Offense- Average-10th(.263), OBP-14th(.322), Slg-12th(.419), Runs-8th(800), HR-11th(204), SB-3rd(196)
Defense- Fld %-15th(.980), Plus Plays-4th(72), Minus Plays-8th(39)
Pitching- ERA-10th(4.58), OAV-9th(.268), SO-3rd(1115), Saves-4th(45/54)

Offense: This is an average offense really. The true strength they have are certain players. Young power hitter Sam Slotnick is a rising star in the league. Veteran Jeremy Stanely is still a pretty good hitter. Josh Tanner is a proven power hitter that can drive in runs and hit for a decent average. Justin Johnston is another good hitter to add to the mix.

Defense: This team has a really good fielding shortstop in Vin Hernandez who is young and should be around a while. That is pretty much the biggest thing this defense has going for them.

Pitching: George Eaton is a really good closer. He underperformed last season, but he has been pretty good the rest of his career. Darren Miller is a pretty solid reliever. Add Ron Bowen to that mix and they have the makings of a pretty good bullpen.

Offense: Contact. This team doesn't make enough contact to be among the better half of the league in hitting. As you get down the lineup, it's not very good at all and the bench won't produce much either. Outside of the hitters I listed above, this offense has some holes.

Defense: The lack a true centerfielder and the gloves overall aren't very good outside of starting shortstop Hernandez. The team finished near the bottom last season in fielding percentage and will be a little bit better with Hernandez playing every day, but not enough better to finish in the upper half of the league.

Pitching: The rotation. They added Ruben Cruz to boost this in the off season, but he isn't the answer. They also added Ben Hogg who is good, but not a true top end pitcher. This team could use some top end of the rotation pitchers.

Summary- New Orleans has been an improving team the past couple seasons, but still are a ways off from competing in this division. With the likes of Nashville running things in the South, New Orleans is going to have a tough time this season. They still have too many holes for me to consider them a contender. They should still be decent and another 80 win season isn't out of the question.

Tampa Bay Thunder
Season 16 record- 76-86
5 year record- 427-383

Offense- Average-4th(.271), OBP-5th(.337), Slg-12th(.419), Runs-9th(797), HR-14th(188), SB-7th(144)
Defense- Fld %-10th(.981), Plus Plays-16th(32), Minus Plays-14th(54)
Pitching- ERA-7th(4.39), OAV-7th(.263), SO-2nd(1119), Saves-16th(31/46)

Offense: Last season this team was above average offensively, but had trouble scoring runs. It was probably due to the lack of power that they showed while ranking 14th. This team is still a pretty good hitting team though. They have players that can hit for a good average. Kevin Messmer is getting up there in years, but can still hit. Sammy Buchanan is another veteran that can flat out hit. Will McCarthy had a really good season last year and should be expected to do so again. That is just a few of the guys this team will count on, but they aren't all they have. I expect this team to hit well again this season.

Defense: Last season this team was below average to just bad defensively. The addition of Buster Starr will help, but he's lost some range and won't cover ground at short like he once could. Louie Caballero is a great glove at second and makes this team solid up the middle in the infield.

Pitching: This team has a really solid staff top to bottom this season. Youngster Claude Collins is a good piece in the rotation to build around. Ivan Silva helps out the top of the rotation as well. Frank Murphy is a great setup man. The closer role belongs to Harry Paz and he should be great as usual.

Offense: The team still lacks good power hitters. The addition of Christian Lee helps that, but most of the guys that will hit the ball out have low contact and likely won't hit enough to be a real threat.

Defense: The team lacks an ideal centerfield with a good glove. They also lack range at shortstop. This is a solid defense, but they also lack depth.

Pitching: I think this team has good pitching. It's hard to find a flaw with them. They may not have the best staff in the league, but they are solid top to bottom. I would be shocked if they finish worst than a top 5 pitching staff.

Summary- The team does have some holes, but I really like the roster overall. This team should at least give Nashville a threat. I don't think they have what it takes to get to the top spot, but I would be shocked to see a repeat of last season. This team should win close to 90 games and challenge for a wild card spot.

San Juan Pollos Hermanos
Season 16 record- 73-89
5 year record- 319-491

Offense- Average-8th(.268), OBP-8th(.331), Slg-7th(.438), Runs-10th(793), HR-10th(208), SB-5th(151)
Defense- Fld %-16th(.973), Plus Plays-15th(33), Minus Plays-15th(72)
Pitching- ERA-16th(5.65), OAV-14th(.293), SO-8th(1046), Saves-9th(40/57)

Offense: This team was average last season offensively. They appear to be about average again. They have some good hitters with the young Alexander Williamson, David Reyes, and with the addition of Efrain Matsumoto. The offense has some talent and won't be a pushover.

Defense: I like this defense. Last season they were terrible, but I think they've improved. The additions of Matsumoto and Gerald Aaron gives them options at shortstop. Horacio Blanco is a very good centerfielder also. Julio Silva plays third for them and will be able to lock down the hot corner. This team is improved defensively.

Pitching: The addition of Ezdra Johnson has locked down the closer role for this club. John Chen will lock up the setup role. The bullpen has some good arms and should be much better this season.

Offense: Depth and power. The team doesn't have much depth down the lineup and the bench could use a little help also. The power on the club is limited to Reyes and while they have some guys that will hit homers, this team really isn't a threat with the long ball.

Defense: The defense looks pretty good this season. They have the gloves to be much better. Maybe depth is the problem here too, but they have a backup at short that could play pretty much anywhere. This team is solid defensively.

Pitching: Depth is also an issue here. Specifically in the rotation. They have options for the back end of the rotation, but they aren't real good options. Once you get about 7 or 8 pitchers deep on this team the talent falls off.

Summary- Ownership has stated that this is potentially another rebuilding season for this franchise, but they've managed to move some contracts and made some good additions in the off season. This team should be much improved, but they aren't ready to step it up to the big time yet. I would put the teams expectations close to winning .500 and go from there. I really think this may be one of the more improved teams this off season.

With the powerhouse in Nashville running this division it is going to be tough going for the competition. Nashville is still in a good position to be for the next few seasons. They are my World Series favorites from the AL at this time. New Orleans is a better team these days, but they aren't up there with Nashville. I have them falling out of the 2 spot in my predictions, but they should still have a good season. Tampa Bay looks good and should be battling Nashville for a while, but I think they are more in position to take a wild card spot. San Juan looks a whole lot better than last seasons team and should move up the wins ladder this season, but I don't see them challenging for a playoff spot.

1.) Nashville
2.) Tampa Bay
3.) San Juan
4.) New Orleans

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Season 17 previews-AL East

AL East
This division was ruled by Atlanta once again last season. The team has won the division now 3 seasons in a row while continue to see the win total decline. They've struggled in the post season and are looking to break that problem soon. Durham finished second again and also seen their win total suffer. The team is now 3 seasons removed from winning the division and didn't even put up a fight last season. Boston's ownership group in their second season won one less game than the previous season, but this is a team that is building for the future after the franchise has only won the division one time and that was in season 12. Chicago has struggled for the past 5 seasons after new ownership stepped in and finished at the bottom for the third time in the past four seasons. They improved the win total, but it wasn't enough to get them out of the basement.

Atlanta Red Tide
Season 16 record- 91-71(AL East Champs)
5 year record- 447-363

Offense- Average-7th(.269), OBP-4th(.338), Slg-4th(.452), Runs-3rd(875), HR-4th(249), SB-11th(75)
Defense- Fld %-3rd(.987), Plus Plays-5th(65), Minus Plays-8th(39)
Pitching- ERA-8th(4.43), OAV-5th(.257), SO-16th(930), Saves-5th(44/63)

Offense: This is a very well rounded offense. They have power, contact, and speed. The finished in the upper half of the league in most key offensive stats last season and they didn't change much. Tommy Parker is a real homerun threat. Alberto Machado can hit homers and steal bases. Nap Clements is just a good all around hitter. Youngster Coco Stratton is good and could have a breakout season.

Defense: This team finished in the upper half of the league in fielding last season and are led by shortstop Robin Risley with the glove. Phil North has good range for centerfield, but could use a bit better glove.

Pitching: This team may not have the best pitchers, but they have good stamina from almost every pitcher on the roster. Rudy Jameson is going to be the closer on the team and he should be pretty good. Jorge Figureoa is a good starter for them as well.

Offense: This offense is pretty solid. They could use better contact from the power hitters, but that shouldn't hold them back. This is a top 5 offense. I'd also like to see them use the speed a little more, but with the chance of a long ball throughout the lineup I'm not sure they feel any reason to.

Defense: I know this was one of the better defenses last season, but I just don't see it. I don't think they are solid all around and really look like a team that will finish near the bottom of the league defensively. They aren't terrible, but I wouldn't call them good either.

Pitching: This is a pretty solid group made up with quite a few guys that could be starters. While that isn't a bad thing, I just wonder how the durability will play out. I'm interested to see how they make that work. They could use a dynamite #1 to really make this group shine, but I think they will be alright as is.

Summary- Atlanta has taken this division 3 seasons running now, but haven't found a way to make it to the ALCS. They have a really good team, but I think the holes defensively may hold them back from reaching that again. If the team finds a way to overcome that weakness then I wouldn't be surprised to see them in the ALCS. This is overall a pretty good team that will be tough to knock from the perch atop the division.

Durham Doormats
Season 16 record- 69-93
5 year record- 356-454

Offense- Average-5th(.270), OBP-6th(.333), Slg-3rd(.456), Runs-7th(801), HR-1st(266), SB-16th(14)
Defense- Fld %-10th(.981), Plus Plays-14th(35), Minus Plays-16th(75)
Pitching- ERA-15th(5.54), OAV-16th(.298), SO-13th(1010), Saves-10th(39/65)

Offense: Power was this teams strength last season. They actually really hit the ball well besides just having power. Not only that but they are young. Hector Janssen, Willie Martinez, Vic Newman , Ernest Christiansen, and Julio Navarro are the leaders of this young offense. They should be a good group that will get this team near the top of the league again.

Defense: Angel Faulk is a really good shortstop for this club and leads the defense. They have a good backup in Lou Linden as well. Shortstop is the position of strength for this defense.

Pitching: This team was one of the worst pitching teams last season and that's not surprising based on the park they play in. That's not to say they have bad pitching, but most staffs would struggle here. The bullpen looks solid and are led by closer Miguel Gonzales.

Offense: This team is not built on speed and could use some more contact. They've clearly built this offense based on the park they play in and that is for power.

Defense: While the team is solid at short, they lack good gloves at most other positions. They could use a good centerfielder and better range at second base as well.

Pitching: The rotation is fairly weak. The bullpen is stronger than the rotation and will be needed quite often which will hurt over time.

Summary- This is an improving team with some good weapons offensively, but the holes in the defense and on the pitching staff are going to be much to overcome. This team could use an infusion of good young pitching like they've done with the offense in order to really compete. I think they'll have a tough time breaking .500 this season, but with the offensive fire power they have, it could happen.

Boston Pilgrims
Season 16 record- 67-95
5 year record- 360-450

Offense- Average-12th(.261), OBP-11th(.328), Slg-10th(.427), Runs-14th(753), HR-9th(227), SB-13th(68)
Defense- Fld %-8th(.983), Plus Plays-6th(63), Minus Plays-11th(45)
Pitching- ERA-14th(5.46), OAV-15th(.297), SO-14th(1005), Saves-15th(33/49)

Offense: While this offense finished in the bottom half of the league last season I do see some things I like. They have some good young stars emerging. Houston Baptist, Junior Cruz, Brian Sveum, and Rico Tatis are some good young hitters that are good pieces to build a team around.

Defense: This team was average defensively last season. They appear to have some really good fielders on the team though. Milt Dietz is an ideal shortstop to have. Chun-Lim Li is a good reserve for short. Sammy Espinosa is a good fielder at third and Fred Moore locks down second. They have the players to have a real good defense for sure.

Pitching: The bullpen is solid and most of the pitchers on this staff have really good control. Pitching was a weakness for this team last season and they really needed to upgrade here, but it didn't happen.

Offense: Depth. They don't have much hitting depth on the bench. They could use some better hitting backups and down in the lineup.

Defense: I'm really liking this defense. They have some players that just aren't very good in the field for the position they play, but the core of a good defense is there. They could also use a good centerfielder which they lack.

Pitching: Pitching is still a weakness for this team. They don't have any starters in the rotation that they could count on regularly for good outings. Pitching will be the teams downfall.

Summary- I really like the young offense on this team, and the defense. The pitching is bad enough to pull this team down. I think they will struggle to stay with Atlanta early on in the season and will continue to build for the future. This team has the pieces to put together a really good squad here in a few seasons and will have another high draft pick this season and possibly next to add to that.

Chicago Wind Tunnel
Season 16 record- 65-97
5 year record- 334-476

Offense- Average-9th(.267), OBP-12th(.324), Slg-14th(.417), Runs-13th(755), HR-12th(194), SB-2nd(197)
Defense- Fld %-10th(.981), Plus Plays-12th(53), Minus Plays-12th(46)
Pitching- ERA-13th(4.92), OAV-12th(.272), SO-7th(1051), Saves-13th(37/50)

Offense: This team is built on speed. They finished second in the AL last season and should be up there again. Youngster Tony Rodriguez can get on base and run. With regular playing time he could be among the league leaders in steals. Bobby Little is another threat on the bases for this team. While that is the true strength for this team, Barney Taft provides some pop and the ability to get on base and drive in runs.

Defense: This wasn't a very good defense last season. They finished in the bottom half of the AL, but they do have some players with decent gloves. Little is a pretty good centerfielder and probably the best defender on the team.

Pitching: The pitching struggled on this team last season as well. They have a couple pitchers that I like though. Torey Urbina should be a pretty good closer for them this season. They added Deivi Valentin in the off season and he should be a pretty good addition to the rotation.

Offense: Chicago lacks power. They have a few players that can hit homers, but no real threat. They also lack the ability to hit for average. They finished near the middle of the league last season, but I expect them to drop some this season.

Defense: Range. They lack range to run down balls. They have some good gloves, but lack the ability to get to the ball to use them at times. They could also use a shortstop. I don't see a true shortstop on the roster.

Pitching: The staff lacks back end talent and front end talent. They have some pitchers that are average pitchers, but then they have some that are just not very good.

Summary- Chicago is going to struggle this season, but they are a team that has been rebuilding for a while now. This team should have some good pieces in the minors by now that will help them in the future to fill these holes. Ownership doesn't believe the team has any strengths, but I think I've identified a few.

Atlanta has a pretty good team and should be the team to beat again this season. They may have some holes, but I like the team and think they'll do just about what they've done the previous 3 seasons. Durham is an improving team, but the lack of a good rotation is likely to keep them from reaching the top. Boston is young and continuing to rebuild, but they have some good pieces in place. Chicago has to many holes to overcome this season as they continue to rebuild the team for the future.

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

Monday, September 26, 2011

Season 17 preview- AL North

AL North
Last season was much of the same from this tough division. Syracuse won the division for a 6th straight season, but surprisingly finished with under 100 victories for the first time in that stretch. In doing this they also went on to win the World Series for the second time in 4 seasons. Ottawa led the division for quite a bit of the season, but fell off in the end and easily took the 2nd wild card spot. Milwaukee was good as usual, making the post season for a 6th consecutive season and finished second in the division. Minnesota is the team that has struggled since season 10 in this division without a playoff appearance, but they improved again last season and are close to making a run as the rebuild is nearing an end and the days of competing are closing in for this franchise.

Syracuse Snow Pirates
Season 16 record- 96-66 (AL North Champs, World Series Champs)
5 year record- 525-285

Offense- Average-14th(.259), OBP-15th(.321), Slg-6th(.442), Runs-5th(821), HR-3rd(257), SB-15th(42)
Defense- Fld %-1st(.991), Plus Plays-1st(105), Minus Plays-1st(7)
Pitching- ERA-1st(3.68), OAV-2nd(.243), SO-9th(1038), Saves-6th(43/62)

Offense: This team has some power for sure. They have 6 guys that are threats to go deep and a few of those are legitimate power hitters. They may not be the best hitting team as evidence by the teams average and obp last season, but they can slug the ball.

Defense: This team is complete defensively. They have a few guys that could play shortstop and Aramis Aybar is the guy they go with. He may have a light bat, but the guy is a gold glove more often than not. The loss of Yorvit Ortiz hurt the team last season but he's back and they love to have his glove in there at secondbase. He's another gold glove on this defense. If I had to grade this teams defense I'd give them an A+.

Pitching: There's not much wrong with a staff that has 3 legitimate aces. Dock King, Cyrus Torres, and Ebenezer Brett are all top notch hurlers. Then they have Omar Gabriel closing games and while he struggled last season with 12 blown saves, I think that is just bad luck and doubt it will happen again. Benji Contreras is a phenomenal setup man that could close for most teams. This may be the top pitching staff in the league.

Offense: This offense has the power, but not the overall hitting and ability to draw walks. This is possibly the worst hitting bunch that Syracuse has had in a while. I expect them to finish pretty close to last seasons totals.

Defense: I can't find a weakness. They even have some pitchers that can field good for their position.

Pitching: Wow. This staff is deep. Even the mopup guys can pitch and have done so in the past. It's going to be tough to score on this team.

Summary- Well this is the World Champs and they looked poised to give it another run this season. The hitting may not be up to par with the defense and pitching, but I doubt any teams hitting is up to par with this teams pitching and defense. They'll be tough to score runs off of, so we may see plenty of low scoring games coming from this teams boxscores.

Milwaukee Cream Citys
Season 16 record- 92-70(Wild Card)
5 year record- 468-342

Offense- Average-5th(.270), OBP-6th(.333), Slg-5th(.449), Runs-4th(826), HR-7th(234), SB-11th(75)
Defense- Fld %-5th(.986), Plus Plays-13th(50), Minus Plays-5th(29)
Pitching- ERA-9th(4.50), OAV-11th(.270), SO-12th(1024), Saves-1st(49/65)

Offense: This team can hit. They finished near the top of the league in average last season and I expect most of the same this season. The offense is led by Jorge Rincon, who is a really good hitter. Add in Red Smith and Howard Atkins and they have a good top of the lineup.

Defense: This team has some solid gloves led by centerfielder Diego Oropesa who is one of the best at his position. David Keats an average pitch calling catcher, but he has a really good arm.

Pitching: This team was near the middle of the league in pitching last season, but they did lead the league in saves. A large majority of that was due to Ron Owens who is a really good closer. The rest of the bullpen is really solid as well.

Offense: The team lacks power. They have guys that can hit homers, but not many and the ones they do have aren't real power threats. They could use an upgrade in this department.

Defense: The team lacks a real shortstop and that is important in my views. The guys they do have to play the position are below average with the gloves and could use a bit more range.

Pitching: The rotation is solid, but they lack a true shutdown starter. I'd rate the rotation as about average, but a top starter could make them good.

Summary- Milwaukee finished second in the division last season and it seems like they are always in the post season. They have a solid team, but I view them as a sub 90 win team. I think if they make it over 90 then it was a very successful season that seen a lot of things go right for them. I don't believe they are a losing team, but they should finish in the upper 80's in win total which may put them in the post season again.

Hartford Hunters
Season 16 record- 90-72(Wild Card)
5 year record- 477-333

Offense- Average-2nd(.283), OBP-2nd(.352), Slg-2nd(.468), Runs-2nd(906), HR-2nd(261), SB-8th(115)
Defense- Fld %-8th(.983), Plus Plays-9th(56), Minus Plays-13th(51)
Pitching- ERA-4th(4.27), OAV-5th(.257), SO-5th(1089), Saves-12th(38/54)

Offense: The team has a few good power hitters and some good pure hitters. They finished near the top of the league in most offensive categories last season. Peter Cheng is a great young hitter. Matty Coco and Freddy Cuddyer are a couple of the really good veteran hitters on this club. This team is going to be really tough offensively.

Defense: The team is solid in centerfield, and at shortstop with Alberto Pujols and Ossie Gibson. They also have a really good catching duo.

Pitching: This team has a really good rotation and bullpen. They may not be on the level of Syracuse, but they are close. Bret O'Leary, Felix Wilson, and John Rucker are really good starters. Alex Ordonez is a really good arm from out of the pen.

Offense: The team lacks speed. They are not a threat on the bases at all. They stole plenty of bases last season, but I'd be surprised to see them do that again.

Defense: Depth. This team has some good fielders at key positions, but they don't have good backups for them and also don't have good fielders at most of the other positions on the field.

Pitching: This is a good staff with a lot of good things about them. The only thing I can find is that they struggled closing out games last season with only 38 saves compared to 16 blown. That's not a good percentage and I think they should be better, but they'll have to show me something first.

Summary- This is a pretty good team. They should challenge for the top spot in the division again and if they can't take it then they should earn another wild card spot. They have all the tools they need to be dangerous.

Minnesota PeaceFrog
Season 16 record- 74-88
5 year record- 347-463

Offense- Average-15th(.255), OBP-12th(.324), Slg-8th(.431), Runs-11th(769), HR-5th(237), SB-10th(82)
Defense- Fld %-2nd(.988), Plus Plays-9th(56), Minus Plays-10th(40)
Pitching- ERA-11th(4.67), OAV-9th(.268), SO-15th(997), Saves-14th(34/53)

Offense: This team is loaded with power. They may have the most power in Pine Tar. They have a good young power hitter in Ruben Pelaez, and it doesn't stop there. Tiny Thome is another powerful good hitter for them. This team will only continue to get better over the next few seasons offensively as they await youngsters Armando Mota, and Chris Young to make their ML debuts.
Defense: This team doesn't have much defensively but they do have a great catching tandem in Christopher Herman and Benny Linton. They also have a good but not great shortstop in Carlos Duran. While they aren't bad defensively they aren't great.

Pitching: Todd Washington is a good closer. Vinny Grace is a good starter. That's mostly it for now. The future looks bright with Enrique Santiago and Sammy Johnson awaiting to make their debuts in the future.
Offense: This team lacks good contact hitters and guys that will hit for good averages. The offense may be powerful, but they won't hit with the better teams.

Defense: They have a solid defense, but not all around. They won't be good at all positions on the field and lack good backups.

Pitching: The team has decent pitching, but they aren't deep. They really lack a top starter or two to anchor the rotation.

Summary- This team is much improved from a couple seasons ago and the ownership has a goal of finishing .500. The future looks bright for them, but I don't think this is the season they break into the top. They have enough holes to keep them from the top, for now.

This is going to be a tough division again. They could very well send 3 teams to the post season once again. Syracuse is a very tough team that seems to be at the top every season and I don't foresee that ending this season. The pitching and defense are just going to be too tough for the other teams to overcome. Milwaukee is a good team, but I don't think they have the team to overtake Syracuse. They should put up a good fight for a wild card spot though. Hartford is pretty good and have very few holes. They have the best offense in the division and could challenge Syracuse for the top spot in the division. They should find themselves in the post season no matter what happens in the division. Minnesota is an improving team that will not be a push over this season. They still aren't there yet, but they aren't far off.

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

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Season 17 previews-NL West

NL West
Last season was a really down season in this division. Seattle won the division for the 6th time over the past 8 seasons, but it was unimpressive. It was the teams lowest win total since season 10. They basically won the division by default. I really thought Seattle had the worst team in the division from top to bottom as they were starting to rebuild after trading away most of the talent. Colorado Springs and Oklahoma City both tied for second with just 73 wins and I thought both of those teams were much better than that. To say the least, both of them had majorly disappointing seasons. Scottsdale finished fourth with 68 wins. Just a couple seasons removed from being the World champs, this team may have been the most disappointing team in the NL. To sum it up, I didn't see it coming with the way the division played out at all. Hopefully it's a much better season ahead in the West.
Seattle Strikers
Season 16 record- 86-76(NL West Champ)
5 year record- 473-337

Offense- Average-13th(.257), OBP-15th(.318), Slg-15th(.347), Runs-12th(690), HR-16th(99), SB-1st(451)
Defense- Fld %-2nd(.988), Plus Plays-1st(87), Minus Plays-4th(32)
Pitching- ERA-6th(4.00), OAV-2nd(.242), SO-12th(1056), Saves-10th(44/63)

Offense: This team is built for contact and speed, and they have plenty of it. They may not have the best hitters around, but the speed and ability to put a bat on the ball help them get on base. The team led the majors in steals last season even though they finished near the bottom in hitting and OBP. They like to run and run the will.

Defense: This team has been among the best in the league in fielding for quite a few seasons now. They like guys with gloves. The signed a really good shortstop in Miguel Manzanillo to try and continue the run. Corky Whitehead is a really good glove at third base as well. Einar Belliard is a top catcher with good pitch calling and a good arm.

Pitching: The team has a couple good starting pitchers at the top of the rotation in Orber Torres and Edgar Santana. They have good durability and stamina, so the team will get a lot of innings out of them. Miguel Rivera is a good young upcoming starter and matched with Santana they have a couple good young rotation arms for a while. The teams pitching dropped off from previous seasons, but they still have an above average staff.

Offense: The team lacks power and good average hitters. They finished near the bottom of the league in average and at the bottom in homers last season. It's tough to score runs when a team lacks these. Seattle may finish near the bottom of the league again this season offensively.

Defense: This isn't a very deep defense. They have holes and depth problems. This isn't the same team that has been near the top of the league defensively. I wouldn't be surprised to see them finish in the bottom half of the league defensively this season.

Pitching: The bullpen depth is terrible. They have a few good arms in the pen, but the rest of the staff is not even close to average. This will be a tough season for the teams pitching staff if the starters can't hold up.

Summary- OK, I've predicted it now for the past 2 seasons, but I truly believe this is the season that this team falls off the map. I just don't think the talent is there to win over 80 games. They have the talent to stick with teams, but there are too many holes on this team to win the division again. I'd be surprised with an 80 win season, but I'd also be surprised if the team finishes with less than 70 wins.

Oklahoma City Prairie Dogs
Season 16 record- 73-89
5 year record- 365-445

Offense- Average-11th(.258), OBP-12th(.323), Slg-11th(.398), Runs-14th(685), HR-12th(167), SB-13th(59)
Defense- Fld %-5th(.985), Plus Plays-9th(54), Minus Plays-8th(38)
Pitching- ERA-7th(4.08), OAV-8th(.260), SO-6th(1095), Saves-11th(43/57)

Offense: This team has a little bit of power, a little bit of contact, a little bit of hitting and a little bit of ability to draw walks. The don't have a lot of any off it, but the have a mix of all of it. Vic Rijo is a dynamite young hitter that should be around for a while. That's the kind of good young hitter you can build an offense around.

Defense: Asdrubal Alcantara. This guy is a phenomenal shortstop that can also hit some. Youngster Erubiel Baez, is another good fielder that can play short, third, and some centerfield. Billy Kashmir is another good fielder that is more suited to play third. I would say this is an above average fielding team this season.

Pitching: This team has some pretty solid starting pitching led by 22 year old Rick Owens. I like Owens at the top of the rotation. He's going to be a pretty good starter. Paxton Weiland is another good starter that I like in this rotation. The rotation should be able to keep this team around in games.

Offense: Depth. As I said, this team has some of everything, but not a lot of it. The lack of depth is going to hurt this team.

Defense: To be honest, I like this defense. Depth may be an issue at some positions and they may be weak at some positions, but I think they have the players to make it work.

Pitching: Also depth. This team seems to have the players at the top to get stuff done, but once you make it to the bench and deep in the bullpen then they are weak. The back of the pen doesn't look good and they are going to have games that they don't have the top bullpen guys to come in and close games.

Summary- Ownership thinks this team may slide back some this season as it's sort of a transitional year for them. They have tools, but not enough of them and have some holes that may stick out over a full 162. I think that ownership hit the nail on the head with this one. I can see them winning just south of 70 games this season.

Colorado Springs Night Watchmen
Season 16 record- 73-89
5 year record- 377-433

Offense- Average-15th(.249), OBP-11th(.324), Slg-14th(.380), Runs-11th(693), HR-13th(161), SB-11th(70)
Defense- Fld %-8th(.984), Plus Plays-6th(57), Minus Plays-12th(45)
Pitching- ERA-10th(4.39), OAV-10th(.265), SO-15th(1023), Saves-12th(42/54)

Offense: This teams strength offensively is depth. They may have finished near the bottom of the league offensively last season, but it looks like they should hit better. They have plenty of contact hitters that should be able to get on base. Youngster Juan Perez will get on base quite a bit. He can hit and draw walks. Alvin Reed was a big signing for this team last season and was a let down, but he should have a better season. This is a decent hitting team that should be better than last season.

Defense: This team is not built on defense. Homer Malone has the glove for centerfield, but he lacks ideal range.

Pitching: Greg DeJean is an ideal top of the rotation guy. Relievers Steve Perez, and Stevie Murray are good as well.

Offense: Not much power. Outside of B.C. Harper this team doesn't have much of a homer threat. The team finished near the bottom of the league offensively last season and has some proving to do before I consider them a good offensive team even though they look it.

Defense: Defense. This team looks weak defensively. They have below average players at just about every position. I know they finished last season as an average defensive team, but I think they really lack a good shortstop which backs everybody into playing a position they aren't very good at.

Pitching: Depth. I think they have some good pitchers on the staff, but like each of the teams in this division that I've already done, the back end of the staff is weak. Basically you can take my previews for Seattle and Oklahoma City and copy it here.

Summary- They have some holes on this team that could be filled and it would change a lot with this team. They aren't a terrible team by any stretch, but they aren't good enough to hang with the better teams in the NL. This is however a pretty weak division the way it seems and this team could be the one to take the playoff spot from the West. I think they are an 80+ win team.

Scottsdale Scorpions
Season 16 record- 68-94
5 year record- 414-396

Offense- Average-14th(.250), OBP-14th(.319), Slg-13th(.391), Runs-15th(664), HR-11th(190), SB-7th(94)
Defense- Fld %-12th(.981), Plus Plays-14th(32), Minus Plays-16th(78)
Pitching- ERA-15th(4.79), OAV-15th(.280), SO-2nd(1146), Saves-12th(42/64)

Offense: This team surprises me. They finished near the bottom of the league last season offensively, but I think they have a good offense. Jorge Renteria is a really good hitter that had a bad season and he needs to step it up. Omar Cornejo was a let down as well and is much better than what he did. This team is very solid offensively and really should be a top 5 offensive team in the NL.

Defense: This team is solid at the key defensive positions. They have a good shortstop, Maicer Lopez, although he's a bench guys. Eric Presley is a great centerfielder. Cornejo is the starting shortstop, but he would make for a really good 3B or 2B to get Lopez's glove in the game.

Pitching: This team has a solid staff top to bottom. The have the deepest staff in the division. Chick Linden is a really good closer. Raymond Simmons is a really good top end of the rotation starter. I really like this staff.

Offense: They need to get it done. This offense under performed last season and that is the big weakness. They need to do what they are capable of.

Defense: I'd find a way to get Lopez in the game more. He may struggle with the bat, but he could be a gold glove contender at short. They also lack a good pitch calling catcher. I think Renteria has the bat to offset that but he needs to hit better this season.

Pitching: The could use a dominant shut down starter to really make this staff great. Overall it's a really good staff though, so that's something that could set them over the top.

Summary- This team is the face for under performing. I think this is a really good team that should challenge for the NL title, not finishing in the basement of their division. I'm just struggling to find out what is wrong and what happened with this team.

Overall this was a pretty weak division last season. I really think they finished in the opposite order of how they should have. Seattle is surely going to fall off this season. They just don't have the complete team to contend. Oklahoma City has plenty of holes and may fall off a bit themselves. Colorado Springs have a decent team, but they aren't complete. I think they should win more games, but I'm not sure they have what it takes to win this division. Scottsdale should be tough to beat. I don't see how they can finish without the division title. They really should be challenging for the NL title.

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

Friday, September 23, 2011

Season 17 previews- NL South

NL South
The South was decided by 3 games last season. It was a pretty exciting season in this division as Charleston and Charlotte battled it out for most of the season. In the end it was Charleston taking the division by putting up the best record in the NL. Charlotte, which finished second, actually had the second best record in the NL. Jackson, had a good season with 84 wins, but that wasn't enough in this division. Then Louisville, in the start of new ownership and a rebuild finished at the bottom. Over the past 4 seasons, three teams have had a share of the division title in the South. It always seems like there is a good race going on in this division. The lone team that hasn't had a share is under new ownership that is hoping to bring this team up to the point where they can get in on this after the previous ownership couldn't. It should be another good season in this division.

Charleston Riverdogs
Season 16 record- 98-64 (NL South Champ, NLCS runner up)
5 year record- 476-334

Offense- Average-5th(.267), OBP-2nd(.337), Slg-4th(.433), Runs-5th(812), HR-3rd(226), SB-10th(82)
Defense- Fld %-12th(.981), Plus Plays-8th(56), Minus Plays-6th(34)
Pitching- ERA-2nd(3.43), OAV-1st(.237), SO-8th(1069), Saves-8th(49/64)

Offense: This team can flat out hit. They were among the best in the league last season and they made moves to improve upon that. The additions of Vic Diaz, and Tony Guerrero should offset the loss of Tomas Acosta and Alton Olson. I expect this team to be at or near the top of the leader boards in hitting again this season.

Defense: The team has a phenomenal young shortstop glove in David Prieto, but they use him more as a centerfielder. They use Tony Guerrero at the position and he has quite a bit less range, but a really good glove. They have the gloves on this team for sure and it leaves me wondering how they finished near the bottom in fielding last season. Bad luck possibly. I doubt they finish in the bottom half again.

Pitching: Wow. This team has some really good pitching. Jesus Amezaga has the tools to be great. The bullpen is loaded with talent.

Offense: Umm, speed? They have some, but not a lot.

Defense: The real weakness I see here is a real good pitch calling catcher. Diaz tops the list with a 69, which isn't great, but still good enough.

Pitching: This may be knit picking, but the rotation stamina appears to be low. With a good bullpen they can get away with that, but even the bullpen has lower stamina. I'll be curious to see if that hurts them or not.

Summary- This team may be more well rounded than any team in the NL this season. They have all the tools and some really good players. Right now this team has to be the odds on favorite to win the NL if the pitching staff can hold up over the long haul.

Charlotte Bad News
Season 16 record- 95-67 (Wild Card)
5 year record- 442-368

Offense- Average-7th(.263), OBP-9th(.328), Slg-6th(.427), Runs-10th(761), HR-6th(220), SB-5th(128)
Defense- Fld %-8th(.984), Plus Plays-11th(49), Minus Plays-10th(40)
Pitching- ERA-1st(3.30), OAV-2nd(.242), SO-3rd(1142), Saves-2nd(60/77)

Offense: This team wasn't great with the bats last season, but they were decent. They have a few younger players leading this team coming into this season with the bats. Youth is the strength here. Hector Urbina, Jody Andrews, Miguel Mesa, and Craig Adkinson are all very young players that have pretty good bats.

Defense: The defense was about average to a little below last season, but they have some decent players. Joaquin Estrada plays a good shortstop. They have decent gloves at just about every position.

Pitching: This team has a rotation led by some good young pitchers as well in Oscar Osterbrock, and Willie Jacquez. The closer may not be as young but he was dominant last season, Clarence Cain. That's 3 really good pitchers.

Offense: Depth. I don't see much depth on the team offensively. The starters are good, but there is a drop off after them.

Defense: Range. They lack a good mixture of range to go with the gloves.

Pitching: Rotation depth. They have 2 really good pitchers at the top and another couple that are decent. It's tough to have a full rotation of top pitchers, but the back end guys could hurt.

Summary- This is a pretty good team and it showed last season with the second best record in the NL. They are going to put up a good fight for the top spot in the division again this season and if they fall short then another wild card spot wouldn't surprise me at all.

Jackson Juggernauts
Season 16 record- 84-78
5 year record- 394-416

Offense- Average-8th(.261), OBP-6th(.331), Slg-5th(.430), Runs-4th(813), HR-5th(221), SB-3rd(185)
Defense- Fld %-5th(.985), Plus Plays-5th(59), Minus Plays-3rd(29)
Pitching- ERA-12th(4.55), OAV-14th(.270), SO-7th(1080), Saves-4th(55/83)

Offense: Contact, speed and some power hitters. Jared Glynn has great power, and is a pretty good hitter as well with some speed. If Scott Harvey can stay healthy this season he should be able to put up some pretty good hitting numbers as well. They also have Jeff Moore who is a threat to hit for power and steal quite a few bases. This team has the offensive talent to finish near the top.

Defense: This team finished near the top of the league defensively last season. They have a really good centerfielder in Harvey and Michael Katou is a pretty good shortstop. They are also pretty solid at their other positions.

Pitching: Depth. This team has quite a few average to above average pitchers. I don't see a pitcher that really is just bad on the team.

Offense: Quality at bats. Looking at the teams splits worry me a bit. The players surely have the contact and power, but the quality of at bats are a bit on the lower side. That usually means a hit to the batting average. This could hold them back to being an average hitting group.

Defense: This is a solid defensive team and the only real weakness I see is with the pitch calling. They don't have real good pitch calling catchers and that could hurt the teams ERA.

Pitching: They have some good pitchers on the staff, but nobody stands out as an ace or even a shutdown reliever. The team finished near the bottom in pitching last season and that could be why. They may have finished near the top in saves, but they had a lot of chances. What worries me is the 28 blown saves they had.

Summary- This is overall a pretty good team. The division keeps looking tougher with each preview I do and they add to it. They have some weaknesses, but they also have some good strengths. They should be able to compete for the top spot but if luck swings bad then they'll be left out. If luck swings good then they could find themselves at the top. It's really hard to get a read on how they'll finish, but this is a really young team that won't be going away any time soon.

Louisville ARF ARF ARF ARF's
Season 16 record- 64-98
5 year record- 352-458

Offense- Average-11th(.258), OBP-13th(.320), Slg-10t(.400), Runs-13th(687), HR-10th(192), SB-12th(62)
Defense- Fld %-16th(.977), Plus Plays-10th(52), Minus Plays-11th(44)
Pitching- ERA-14th(4.77), OAV-11th(.269), SO-10th(1066), Saves-16th(38/57)

Offense: This team was just below average offensively last season. They are in a building mode and really should be in that position. They have some good contact hitters and that is the teams strength at this point. I like Jose Borbon, and Norberto Cruz as 2 good young players to build around.

Defense: The team, as with the offense, doesn't have a whole lot here. They do have a great defensive catcher in Nick Miles though. They also have some decent range. The gloves aren't quite there yet though.

Pitching: Al Manto is a young and talented pitcher to build a staff around. They also have another good young starter in Ariel Mateo. The team has some good pitchers on the staff and this may be the teams strength.

Offense: Depth and overall hitting. This is what you get with a rebuild. The previous owner didn't leave much and I know it's tough rebuilding, but if done right, this team will be battling for the top spot in the division in a few seasons.

Defense: Gloves. They have decent gloves at most positions, but they lack the gloves in centerfield and at shortstop. This may be the teams true weakness this season.

Pitching: Depth in the rotation. I really like the 2 young pitchers, but after them it's a toss up of who goes where. The other starters just aren't guys that will be around very long after this season.

Summary- This is a young rebuilding team, in a fairly young division. They are still a few seasons off from competing, but they have another good pick in this seasons draft and plenty of money to spend on IFA's. They should really be able to add some pretty good future pieces this season and next to go with what they added last season. Watch out for this team down the road, but it's a marathon and not a sprint in Louisville.

Charleston won a tight race last season and only appear better to me. They are going to be tough to knock off this season as they are my pick to win the NL. Charlotte is a good team that just missed out on winning the division last season. I could see them battling for the top spot for most of the season, but I can't see Charleston losing the division. Jackson should be tough to beat and are really hard to get a real prediction for. They have some weaknesses and strengths that kind of off set each other. Regardless, I think they are a winning team, but I doubt they have enough to take the top spot. Louisville is a team that is in rebuild mode and are in a great position to make some moves to improve this team for the future this season.

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

Season 17 Previews-NL East

NL East
Last season Jacksonville took this division and went on to take the NLCS as well. Jacksonville had a really good season, but they really battled it out with Cincinnati just to take the division title. This may have been the best division in the NL last season from top to bottom. The team formerly in New York went 9-21 in the division, but finished 65-67 against the rest of the league. Not too bad for a last place team. Kansas City had a good season by winning 83 games and finishing only 9 games out of a wild card. Overall it was a really good season in the NL East and each team should be looking to improve upon last season, so it should be again this season.
Jacksonville Juice
Season 16 record-94-68(NL East Champs, NL Champs)
5 year record-464-346

Offense- Average-10th(.260), OBP-5th(.332), Slg-8th(.422), Runs-1st(834), HR-7th(205), SB-4th(138)
Defense- Fld %-12th(.981), Plus Plays-6th(57), Minus Plays-8th(38)
Pitching- ERA-3rd(3.75), OAV-7th(.259), SO-8th(1069), Saves-1st(62/90)

Offense: The team lacked hitting last season and could have used a little more power, but they found ways to score. They led the NL in runs scored and were pretty good at stealing bases. The addition of Andre Fleming will help ease the loss of Buck Leonard, but he's not quite the hitter. Youngster Teddy Lemon is a good upcoming hitter for the team. The teams strength however is speed.

Defense: They finished near the bottom in fielding last season and not much has changed. They do have some good range to make up for that though.

Pitching: This team gets more out of their pitchers than most teams can. The bullpen is very good with a few really good arms. The rotation is solid with a few good pitchers.

Offense: As stated, the team lacked some good hitting abilities. The depth really isn't there either.

Defense: They lack a true shortstop and a centerfielder with real good range.

Pitching: The rotation has decent starters, but nothing great. The rotation is below average by looking at them, but this team somehow gets the most out of their pitching.

Summary- The team had high expectations last seasons and they met them. They fell short in the World Series, but the goal was to make it there. They added Andres Park to the rotation to give them some help there and added Fleming to take the place of the aging Buck Leonard. They have some younger players that will be another year in this season with Teddy Lemon and Magglio Figureoa.  Ownership feels they have the talent to make another run this season and have set the expectations even higher this season. I think they'll be tough to knock off in the division this season. It is a pretty tough squad with some good pieces to keep them going strong. As far as another World Series, I'll have to finish my other reviews before I can make a judgement on that one.

Cincinnati Firestorm
Season 16 record-92-70(Wild Card)
5 year record-439-371

Offense- Average-1st(.274), OBP-1st(.341), Slg-3rd(.439), Runs-6th(799), HR-4th(223), SB-14th(56)
Defense- Fld %-8th(.984), Plus Plays-3rd(73), Minus Plays-1st(21)
Pitching- ERA-9th(4.28), OAV-6th(.252), SO-14th(1040), Saves-6th(51/71)

Offense: This team was at the top of the league in just about every important offensive category last season. The team may be a bit aided by the hitters park they play in, but they do have some good hitters on the team.

Defense: The team finished in the middle of the league in fielding percentage last season, but at the top in plus and minus plays. They have plenty of range for sure. Andre Sele is a gold glove centerfielder and Alfredo Rivera is a pretty good shortstop. The rest of the team have decent gloves for the positions they play. They should finish a bit higher this season.

Pitching: This wasn't the teams strength at all last season. They weren't terrible, but they weren't good either. They have some good bullpen arms and a couple good starters as well.

Offense: The team doesn't have much power outside of Storm Mahoney. They also lack speed.

Defense: Outside of Sele and Rivera they don't have anyone that can ideally play either centerfield or shortstop.

Pitching: Control and depth in the rotation. Most of the pitchers, even the good ones, on this team lack good control. The starting rotation has a couple good arms, but they lack a real #1 or back end of the rotation pitchers, however you want to look at it.

Summary- Cincinnati has a decent team that should be able to at the least challenge in the division for a while. They surely aren't a below 500 team. This is a team that could challenge for a wild card spot.

Kansas City Kardinals
Season 16 record-83-79
5 year record-386-424

Offense- Average-2nd(.272), OBP-4th(.334), Slg-2nd(.443), Runs-1st(834), HR-2nd(229), SB-16th(49)
Defense- Fld %-3rd(.987), Plus Plays-11th(49), Minus Plays-13th(53)
Pitching- ERA-16th(5.15), OAV-16th(.286), SO-5th(1101), Saves-6th(51/72)

Offense: This is another team from the east that had really good offensive numbers last season. They have good power, good hitting, and good eyes. They should be able to put up good numbers again this season.

Defense: The gloves are good on this team. They finished 3rd last season in fielding and I can see why. The shortstop has a great arm and really good range to go with a good but not great glove. They also have players with above average gloves to play the other positions for this team.

Pitching: Well the pitching was bad last season to put it nicely. Alex Guerrero is a dynamite starter, and Scooter Boskie is a good reliever. The team added Boskie and Bobby McCarthy in the off season to upgrade the pitching which they desperately needed.

Offense: Speed and depth. The team is surely not built around speed and they don't steal much. The other problem I see right now is that the team is incomplete and lack depth due to that. They still have to fill out the roster, but I'm not sure there is much out there to upgrade the depth much.

Defense: Range. While this team has good gloves, they lack range to take away hits. They finished last season with more minus plays than plus plays and that is the reason.

Pitching: The bullpen. The rotation looks good, but there isn't much help in the pen. Some of the possible starters will be used in the bullpen, but even those guys don't look like good options. Outside of Boskie, the pen could hurt this team.

Summary- This team isn't complete at this time and it's hard to get a gauge on them. The major pieces are in place though and those guys look good. I really like the offense and can't find much wrong with it. The defense is good, but not great. The pitching rotation looks solid, but the bullpen not so much. I think this team should be able to compete and wouldn't be surprised if they make the playoffs. If the pitching gets a boost then this team could do even better.

Philadelphia Moneymakers
Season 16 record-74-88
5 year record-382-428

Offense- Average-8th(.261), OBP-6th(.331), Slg-9th(.408), Runs-9th(768), HR-9th(193), SB-6th(123)
Defense- Fld %-15th(.979), Plus Plays-14th(32), Minus Plays-4th(32)
Pitching- ERA-13th(4.64), OAV-9th(.264), SO-13th(1050), Saves-5th(52/72)

Offense: Power. This team has some good power. They finished 9th in homers last season, but I think they are better than that this season. The addition of Tomas Acosta helps that. They also have the league MVP Lonny Infante, who may be one of the best hitters in Pine Tar. This team also has some speed. Overall, this looks like a complete offense to me.

Defense: The team finished near the bottom of the league in fielding last season, but I don't think they are that bad. The defense looks at least average.

Pitching: The pitching was pretty bad last season. They have some good pitchers though. The addition of Gregg Thomas and Omar Siqueiros are upgrades for this staff.

Offense: If I have to find something it is contact. They team has some good contact hitters, but not many. So hitting depth is probably it for this team.

Defense: Well here it is, the gloves. They have a shortstop that is pretty good, but his glove isn't great. Same in centerfield. Most of the guys with good gloves on this team are reserves.

Pitching: Control. They have some good pitchers, but quite a few of them lack good control. The depth in the rotation is also not real good. Thomas could be a good top of the rotation pitcher, but his control will likely hold him back from being a true top end guy.

Summary- This is a good team in a very tough division. The offense should be really good this season. The defense probably won't be. The pitching is better but still not up to par with some of the other teams. Ownership has stated that this will probably be another rebuilding year, but I think they can make some noise and hang in there for most of the season.

Jacksonville took this division last season and made some noise in the post season by winning the NLCS. They have a pretty good team and will be tough to knock off of the top. I seem to undervalue Cincy every season and they always seem to be right in it until the end. This is a tough division and they are a good team, but I think they may fall off a bit this season. Kansas City looks like a real good team and they have some good pieces in place. They should at least challenge for a post season spot. Philadelphia has a really good offense and shouldn't be overlooked, but this is a pretty tough division.

1.) Jacksonville
2.) Kansas City
3.) Cincinnati
4.) Philadelphia

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Season 17 Previews-NL North

NL North
The NL north was a big surprise to me in season 16. Trenton, a team that hasn't been to the post season since season 7 and has never won the division, finally broke through to the top of the division. For only the second time in the worlds history the division was not won by Fargo. And for the first time in Fargo's history they were left on the outside looking in during the post season. Helena was a big surprise to me, as I thought they had the team to make a push for the division, but the under achieved and finished under 500 and in third place for a second season in a row. Iowa City made major strides under new ownership, but appear to still be a couple seasons off from being able to make a real push.

Trenton Thunders
Season 16 record- 89-73(NL North Champs)
5 year record- 392-428

Offense-Average-2nd(.272), OBP-2nd(.337), Slg-12th(.393), Runs-3rd(820), HR-14th(137), SB-2nd(324)
Defense-Fld %-4th(.986), Plus Plays-4th(71), Minus Plays-2nd(26)
Pitching-ERA-4th(3.84), OAV-5th(.249), SO-11th(1061), Saves-3rd(56/71)

Offense: The team was one of the best in the NL last season in hitting and they still have the hitters to make this happen again. The team is fast and will steal a lot of bases again this season.

Defense: One of the better fielding teams in the league appears to have good fielders and ability to remain near the top of the league.
Pitching: Trenton was also among the best teams in the league in pitching last season. The bullpen is as solid as they come. This teams pitching will go as far as the bullpen can take them.

Offense: They lack power and depth.  They have only one player that I'd consider a power hitter. After the starters on this team I don't see the ability to replace them with likewise hitting.
Defense: The shortstop position. They have players that can play it, but no complete player in the field.
Pitching: The rotation. They have players that can be really good starters, but none of them have the stamina to go deep into games. The players that do have the stamina leave something to be desired. This isn't to say the rotation will be weak, but it will be interesting to see how the team goes about things with this bunch.

Summary-Trenton took over this division last season and they should not be overlooked this season. This is a really good team that has the tools to make another run. They made no moves in the off season and chose to stay with what worked for them. They have the hitting, speed, defense and pitching to get things done again. I like this team to make the playoffs again this season.

Fargo Woodchippers
Season 16 record- 88-74
5 year record- 447-363

Offense-Average-6th(.264), OBP-9th(.328), Slg-1st(.445), Runs-7th(778), HR-1st(259), SB-15th(52)
Defense-Fld %-8th(.984), Plus Plays-13th(42), Minus Plays-14th(61)
Pitching-ERA-8th(4.20), OAV-11th(.269), SO-1st(1147), Saves-9th(44/59)

Offense: This team has some good power as evidence of finishing atop the league in homers and slugging last season. They also have some good pure hitters mixed in and should be able to score plenty of runs.

 Defense: The defense has a few good options at shortstop and any of the three can play centerfield. Blank got the majority of the time at short last season, but his range isn't as good as the others. Maxwell played mostly centerfield last season, but he has better range than Blank but his arm isn't as accurate. Diaz may be the most well rounded of the 3 but he fills in at short center and second.

Pitching: They have some good pitchers. Ontiveros is a top starting pitcher and Sweeney is as well. Hayashi is pretty good and rounds out a good top 3 rotation spots. The bullpen is solid as well. Leonard and Castillo are really good coming out of the pen.

Offense: Contact, speed and batting eye. The team lacks many players that make good contact and draw walks. That could be the downfall of this team. They lack speed and won't steal many bases.

Defense: While the team is solid up the middle they lack the fielding at other positions. That may be nit picky, but I had to find a weakness for the sake of posting something. I'd be surprised if they finish as low in fielding this season as last.

Pitching: Depth. After the top 3 rotation spots I'm not thrilled by what they have to fill in after that. The bullpen has 2 very good pitchers, but that also lacks depth. The depth on this staff could really hurt the team in the long run.

Summary- This team is in a rebuilding mode. After dominating the division for so long things have finally caught up to them. They started the rebuild last season but that didn't hold them back as they still challenged for the division title. I think they still have the pieces to challenge again, but could fall short. They may end up trading away some of those pieces to help with the future pieces of getting this team back to dominating the division and NL once again.

Helena Ass Hats
Season 16 record- 79-83
5 year record- 384-426

Offense-Average-4th(.271), OBP-8th(.329), Slg-7th(425),  Runs-8th(770), HR-8th(195), SB-9th(87)
Defense-Fld %-5th(.985), Plus Plays-16th(27), Minus Plays-15th(63)
Pitching-ERA-11th(4.46), OAV-11th(.269), SO-4th(1113), Saves-12th(42/62)

Offense: This team has some power and a few good hitters. They have a little bit of speed as well.

Defense: They have a couple really good pitch calling catchers. Mendoza is the better of the 2 due to his arm.

Pitching: Valbuena and Nieto. These 2 starters are really good. Flores is a pretty good closer and Vasquez can get people out and rack up some innings.

Offense: The roster is incomplete and my guess is that they will be filling the final spots with some callups or free agent leftovers. That leads me to believe that there will be plenty of holes.

Defense: Same as I listed with the offense. The team lacks a real good shortstop and at this point they don't have much at the other positions either.

Pitching: Also the same as above. There is no depth after the top couple pitchers on this squad.

Summary- With an incomplete roster it's really hard to tell what this team will do. My best guess is that they just fill out the roster and work on rebuilding this season. The team really under performed last season and could use a new infusion of young talent as they work on a different way to get this team to the top in the future.
Iowa City Hawkeyes
Season 16 record- 64-98
5 year record- 301-509

Offense-Average-16th(.236), OBP-16th(.295), Slg-16th(.325), Runs-16th(504), HR-15th(110), SB-8th(88)
Defense-Fld %-1st(.989), Plus Plays-1st(87), Minus Plays-6th(34)
Pitching-ERA-5th(3.91), OAV-4th(.247), SO-16th(1015), Saves-12th(42/52)

Offense: There isn't much positive here and it showed with how the team finished last season. One big positive is that the team is planning on bringing up Hank Roling this season and that will help.

Defense: This team fielded one of the best defensive teams in Pine Tar last season. They have 2 good shortstops and one of those, Aramis Cordero, is an elite fielding shortstop. This defense is really good still.

Pitching: The pitching was another bright spot on the team last season. Cora, Grey, Perez, and Segui are really pretty good pitchers. Kirwan will be good coming out of the pen. I'm not sure how I feel about including defense in this spot, but the defense on this team will make these guys even better.

Offense: A lot. This team is a ways off from having a competitive offense.

Defense: I can't really find one. They have an ideal fielder for almost every position. The problem with that though is that you can't usually do that without creating holes in your offense.

Pitching: They lack a shut down starter. The team has one that they drafted first overall last season, but he's a few seasons away from taking this spot.

Summary- The previous owner of this squad really put this team in a bad spot. The new ownership has done a fine job of getting the turnaround process going and are in position to continue that this season. This team could very well jump to the top of the NL in a few seasons if everything goes as planned in Iowa City. The problem is that this won't be the season. Fans of this club should sit by and be patient and things should soon come around.

I think this division will be led by Trenton again. They have a very solid team and should have no problem winning north of 90 games this season. Fargo may be going through a rebuild, but they still appear to have some good pieces to compete. I think they will at least challenge in the division for most of the season and could possibly take a wild card spot. Helena also appears to be rebuilding and the roster at this time is incomplete. They still have some good pieces and regardless of what they add should finish third in the division. Iowa City was left in shambles be previous ownership and did a great job at improving last season. I think they'll continue to improve this season, but still find them at the bottom of the division.

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