Wednesday, December 21, 2011

AL East Season 18 Previews

AL East
The east has been led by the franchise formerly in Atlanta the past four seasons. Surprisingly, the ownership of that team left Pine Tar on the heels of another post season let down. The new ownership moved the team to Pittsburgh and will try to continue the winning ways. Boston moved up in the division last season to tie for 2nd place and had the franchises first winning record since season 12 win they won the division for the only time. That franchise has had many owners with little stability over the seasons, but the owner now will tie as the longest owner in franchise history. Chicago also tied for 2nd, but finished in third by tiebreakers. This franchise has struggled recently, since once dominating this division. Last season was a huge step forward, as they had their first winning record since the domi days. In Durham, they may have finished last, but they won 79 games in what has become a pretty tough division. They showed that they may be coming along and ready to enter the picture as a threat to win the division.

Pittsburgh Psychics
 Season 17 record- 86-76(AL East Champs)
5 year record- 453-357

Offense- Average-11th(.269), OBP-9th(.338), Slg-6th(.464), Runs-4th(875), HR-4th(272), SB-11th(73)
Defense- Fld %-9th(.983), Plus Plays-13th(39), Minus Plays-16th(70)
Pitching- ERA-3rd(4.37), OAV-4th(.262), SO-5th(1066), Saves-4th(50/59)

Key Additions- RP Phil Gardner(FA), RP Erubiel Bennett(FA)
Key Losses- SS Jorge Lopez(released), OF Alberto Machado(FA), RP Bobby Ray Tewksbury(FA), SP J.C. Cox(FA)

In a rare move, the former ownership left this team while on top of the division. I was shocked to see that happen, but I believe we have a good replacement owner in blues_bros. With only 24 seasons experience that is a bit misleading because 21 of those have come from one world where this owner has shown periods of good success. With that said, blues_bros is taking over a team that has been one of the better teams in the AL over the past 4 seasons. The problem has been in the post season where they have continually fell flat on their face. Maybe the change in ownership can get them past that. Last season this team was a mixed bag offensively. Hitting and getting on base they were slightly below average, but they were one of the better power teams and could score runs. The loss of Machado hurts, but they still have plenty of offense to make up for it. They look like they should hit a bit better than last season and still have some power. I think the averages being down last season was just bad luck and things could swing the other way this season. I like the offense they have and rank them near the top of the league. The defense wasn't very good last season. I like the shortstop on this team, but I think they lack a good centerfielder which hurts in the outfield. The gloves are average, but they lack range at most positions. The pitching staff however, was one of the best in the league last season. The rotation is solid and I would say they are above average. The loss of Cox isn't too bad for this squad. The bullpen was upgraded in the off season and appears to be good as well. This isn't the best pitching staff in the AL, but it is a good one. Pittsburgh should be tough to knock off the perch this season in the east as they have a good team.

Chicago Wind Tunnel
Season 17 record- 83-79
5 year record- 348-462

Offense- Average-10th(.270), OBP-13th(.328), Slg-13th(.423), Runs-11th(814), HR-13th(194), SB-2nd(188)
Defense- Fld %-16th(.977), Plus Plays-16th(19), Minus Plays-10th(46)
Pitching- ERA-6th(4.65), OAV-12th(.282), SO-6th(1062), Saves-9th(44/50)

Key Additions- None
Key Losses- SP Deivi Valentin(FA), RP Esteban Gonzalez(FA)

Chicago is a team that has been in a bit of a rebuild for a while now and should start showing the benefits of that. They made a huge leap in wins last season with 18 more victories than the previous season and will try to build on that. Most of the talent on this team is young and will continue to get better and it looks like they have more help on the way from the minors soon. Last season they had a below average offense. They didn't hit well and showed little power. They did have some good speed though. It looks like much of the same this season, but that could change depending on if they rush some of the young talent up to the big leagues. Defensively I would say this was the worst team in the AL last season. The lack of a true shortstop and centerfielder hurts this team. Really, they lack a good glove for most positions in the field. I don't see much help with that in the minors. This team could finish at or near the bottom defensively again. Even with the bad defense behind them, the pitching was respectable last season. They finished above average and rarely blew saves. Looking at the rotation though, I'm not impressed. They lack much control, but they do have some good pitches to throw. I think it is an average rotation and really the rotation was average last season as well. The bullpen was this teams strength last season. The loss of Gonzalez hurts, but they still have their closer, who blew 0 saves last season while closing out 33 of them. The late season promotion of Tony Zapata helps ease the loss of Gonzalez. I think the bullpen overall should be fine this season, but I don't think they'll be as dominant as last season. Overall, I think this is still a team on the rise, but not quite there yet. They have too many weaknesses to compete for the division crown, but I don't think they are far off from being in the mix.

Boston Pilgrims
Season 17 record- 83-79
5 year record- 359-451

Offense- Average-4th(.281), OBP-7th(.342), Slg-10th(.439), Runs-12th(813), HR-11th(217), SB-13th(62)
Defense- Fld %-4th(.987), Plus Plays-2nd(93), Minus Plays-5th(18)
Pitching- ERA-14th(5.25), OAV-13th(.284), SO-16th(936), Saves-12th(40/51)

Key Additions- C Pablo Maduro(tr-Far), SP Charles Hayashi(tr-Far), 2B Pepper Sanders(tr-Far)
Key Losses- CF Chul Zhang(released), RP Wascar Ortiz(released), OF Marc Whitaker(released)

Owner kjmulli moves into a fourth season as owner of this franchise and with one more will become the longest tenured owner in franchise history. While the first couple seasons in control weren't anything to be happy about, that all changed last season. They improved by 16 victories over season 16's total and finally became a threat to the division crown. They made some bold trades this off season to try and make that final leap to the top and didn't lose as much as they gained. This is really a young team and should continue to get better. Offensively last season this team hit good, but lacked homeruns and the ability to score. That's odd considering they have a couple of the better young power hitters in the league with Rico Tatis and  Houston Baptist. The additions of Sanders and Maduro will help the hitting on this team even more. I think they have a well rounded lineup this season, but right now I'll rank them slightly above average. Defensively this team was one of the better teams in the league last season. They still look pretty good to me. They should finish near the top of the AL again this season. This teams problem last season was pitching and had it not been for the defense they could have been worse. The addition of Hayashi helps, but I don't think it is enough. The rotation could use an infusion of talent. I don't see much in the minors to help the rotation out so it may have to be through other means. The bullpen isn't as bad, but they aren't top of the league either. The pitching as a whole is not good and clearly a weakness. Overall this team has some good young offense and defense, but the lack of pitching brings them back to the pack. I think they'll battle for the top spot in the division and possibly even a wild card spot. If they get better pitching then they could become a real threat, but that may happen over the next few seasons.

Durham Doormats
Season 17 record- 79-83
5 year record- 369-441

Offense- Average-2nd(.285), OBP-3rd(.348), Slg-1st(.493), Runs-4th(875), HR-1st(298), SB-14th(53)
Defense- Fld %-12th(.981), Plus Plays-11th(41), Minus Plays-15th(64)
Pitching- ERA-15th(5.41), OAV-15th(.290), SO-8th(1051), Saves-7th(45/64)

Key Additions- RP Pedro Herrera(promoted), 2B Francisco Bonilla(promoted), DH Brett Wilkerson(promoted), C Pep Pride(promoted)
Key Losses- 1B Vic Newman(FA), 3B Francisco James(FA), RP Danny Koch(FA)

alogman1 has now been in control of this team for 9 seasons and it's mostly been below average, but competitive. A jump in win total last season of 10 games is encouraging for this team, but the question is if they can make the jump in a winnable division. Most of this teams off season additions were from within. Offensively this team was awesome last season. That's part of playing in Durham. They batted a .302 at home last season with 156 homers compared with .269 and 142 on the road. Don't get me wrong though, this team has a really good offense. They have good power hitters and good overall hitters. This is a really good offense in Durham and the 3 young players they promoted add to that. Defensively this team wasn't very good last season. They have a really good shortstop, but they lack good gloves at most other positions. This team looks like a team that will finish near the bottom defensively again. The pitching was really bad last season. The rotation isn't very good, but they have a couple decent arms. The bullpen is better than the rotation, but it is just average. They could use more pitching for sure and they could get that in the next couple seasons from within. They have a few pretty good pitchers in the minors that are a few seasons off from helping. This team has a dynamite offense, but defense and pitching hurts them. That is a couple weaknesses that are tough to overcome in a good division. I think the offense will win them some games, but I don't think they are ready to battle it out for the top spot in the division yet.

Pittsburgh still has a good team, but the other teams in this division are getting better by the season. They still seem to have the fewest weaknesses in the division and they are my pick for the top spot again. Boston is a team on the rise and may only be a couple seasons from being the team to beat in the east. They should battle for the top spot, but I think they'll fall short. They should battle for a wild card spot and could take one of them. Chicago still isn't quite there yet, but they are another team in this division on the way up. I think they have too many weaknesses to battle for the top spot this season. Durham has the offense, but what they have in offense they lack in pitching. This team is also moving up and this division could take over the dominance that the North has and be just as dominant in the near future.

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

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