Thursday, March 29, 2012

Season 19 Previews-AL West

AL West
In the AL West last season, each team finished in the same exact order as the previous season. There wasn't much to be surprised about. St Louis, improved up the previous season by increasing their win total by 8 games and took home the division title again. It was only the second time in franchise history as well. The once embattled franchise finally looks like the have an owner that is getting things going in the right direction. The post season wasn't successful for them, but they are making the steps in the right direction. Anaheim kept a good run of mediocrity going with another season close to the 500 mark. That's not really a bad thing, but they are still trying to find the formula to make the leap up to the top. Salem has been on a downward spiral the past few seasons and looks like they have started to rebuild for bigger things in the future. They finished third last season, but they weren't far from the bottom. Vancouver was in their first season under new ownership and continued the rebuilding process. The franchise has seen only 1 post season appearance in the past 9 seasons and will probably continue that process for a couple more seasons with the hopes of being a more competitive franchise down the road.

St Louis Arch Angels
Season 18 record-90-72(AL West Champs)
5 season record-365-445

Offense- Average-16th(.253), OBP-16th(.321), Slg-16th(.404), Runs-11th(780), HR-16th(186), SB-1st(279)
Defense- Fielding %-4th(.986), Double Plays-15th(367), Plus Plays-5th(94), Minus Plays-4th(11)
Pitching- ERA-4th(4.07), OAV-4th(.253), SO-14th(998), Saves-3rd(49/67)

Key Additions- SP Bud Donnels(FA), RP Max Guillen(FA), LF Germany Pittsley(promoted),
Key Losses- LF Jay Fiore(FA)

St Louis has been on a steady rise the past 5 seasons by improving the teams record each season. After an 82 win division title in season 17, they improved 8 games last season for a second straight, and ever, division title. 90 wins also set a franchise record with the best season they've ever had. After going through a stretch of 7 owners in 7 seasons they've finally settled in under Flucie going into a fifth season at the helm. They didn't make any ground breaking moves in the off season but did add a few quality players to help out this season and try to improve on what they have going. The team really struggled offensively last season finishing near the bottom in almost everything but steals. They were awesome on the base paths. This season the have some decent power to put in the lineup, but they still lack good hitting. They have some guys that will get on base though. Lou Jefferies is a solid hitter to build around and has some good base stealing abilities. The team doesn't have a lot of speed, but they use what they have very well. I could see some improvement from the offense this season, but they still will rank near the bottom of the league. The defense was really good last season. I'm expecting much of the same again. The have a good shortstop and solid centerfielder. The really have good gloves for most of the positions in the field. The pitching was also among the best in the league last season. The rotation is average to below average, but the addition of Donnels was an upgrade. The bullpen is much more solid and a strength of the team. Overall the pitching staff looks about average, but the park and the defense will help them play better than their abilities. Overall this is a solid team and should make another run for the top spot in the division. 90 wins again may be tough to achieve, but they should come close.

Anaheim Annihilation
Season 18 record-78-84
5 season record-399-411

Offense- Average-15th(.255), OBP-15th(.322), Slg-11th(.411), Runs-16th(719), HR-10th(209), SB-12th(83)
Defense- Fielding %-7th(.984), Double Plays-13th(379), Plus Plays-8th(66), Minus Plays-7th(31)
Pitching- ERA-7th(4.51), OAV-6th(.265), SO-8th(1058), Saves-6th(47/60)

Key Additions- SP Geraldo Domingo(tr-IA Ct), P Don Li(FA), RP Bert Jordan(FA)
Key Losses- SP Matty Andujar(tr-IA Ct), 1B Neifi Mathews(FA), C Rich Mitchell(FA), RF Hal Burns(FA)

Anaheim dropped off a bit last season, but still finished around the 500 mark. The did finish in second in the division for a fifth straight season though. The team made quite a few changes in the off season, but they lost more than they gained. The losses of Mathews and Andujar were big blows to the team and they didn't replace them with the same quality. The guys they added are solid though and maybe the team needed to shake things up a bit anyway. Offensively the team was close to the bottom of the league across the board. They did show some power though. They'll take a hit there with the losses they had. They do still have some power, but not a lot. The hitting still looks below average at best. They won't be winning games by scoring a lot of runs. The fielding was pretty average last season. They lack a true shortstop, but look solid in centerfield. Even without a shortstop they look pretty average again as they have solid gloves at most positions. They may take a small drop off here. The pitching last season was average as well. Youngster Diego Benitez is a solid arm in the rotation to build around. Really the rotation looks pretty good. They lack good stamina, but they should be able to keep runs down. The bullpen isn't quite as solid, but they do have a few good arms. The pitching staff looks a bit above average and will likely improve a bit this season from last. Overall this looks like a pretty average to just below average team. I could really see them finishing right about where they did last season. I don't think they have what it takes to win the division.

Salem Reg
Season 18 record-65-97
5 season record-377-433

Offense- Average-6th(.270), OBP-7th(.337), Slg-13th(.415), Runs-8th(816), HR-14th(188), SB-5th(123)
Defense- Fielding %-7th(.984), Double Plays-9th(412), Plus Plays-13th(33), Minus Plays-11th(53)
Pitching- ERA-16th(5.93), OAV-13th(.291), SO-11th(1021), Saves-16th(27/48)

Key Additions- OF Rob Lee(FA), OF Neifi Mathews(FA), C Felipe Reynoso(FA), SP Robert Singleton(FA)
Key Losses- RP Javy Mendoza(released), OF Preston Williams(FA), 3B Daryl Bonham(FA)

Salem took a big step backward last season and appeared to be starting a rebuild. The traded away a lot of talent during the season and brought in some younger players. The team dropped in victories for a third straight season and for the first time in that stretch didn't come close to competing for the division title. In the off season they went after a lot of older players in the twilight of their careers to fill out the roster for cheap. Offensively this team was above average last season, but was short on power. It looks like they have power this season, and the hitting really isn't bad. They have quite a few players with good plate discipline and should help the OBP. I think this team looks above average offensively and maybe even a bit better than that. Defensively the team was just about average last season. They have a really good shortstop, but lack a centerfielder. The defense really doesn't look good. This team may finish near the bottom of the league defensively. The pitching staff was terrible last season. Going into this season the rotation actually looks solid. The rotation isn't great, but they look improved from last season. The bullpen doesn't look too bad either. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a top of the league staff, but they shouldn't be bottom of the league either. The defense could change that though. Overall the team looks improved in quite a few areas, but they are old. The defense will kill them. Really this team should improve upon last season though.

Vancouver Canucks
Season 18 record-61-101
5 season record-353-457

Offense- Average-11th(.267), OBP-12th(.326), Slg-14th(.413), Runs-14th(762), HR-15th(187), SB-13th(82)
Defense- Fielding %-15th(.979), Double Plays-1st(502), Plus Plays-7th(68), Minus Plays-11th(53)
Pitching- ERA-15th(5.84), OAV-13th(.291), SO-16th(916), Saves-13th(35/52)

Key Additions- RP Babe LaRocca(FA), 1B Henry Siddall(FA), OF Josh Nixon(FA), RP Stone Faulkner(FA)
Key Losses- LF Rob Melville(released)

Vancouver actually improved last season, but still finished at the bottom of the division. This was clearly a team starting a rebuild and they'll be looking to continue on that path this season. The did make some big additions that should help them improve sooner rather than later. The team has some solid prospects that are going to be coming through the system over the next few seasons and they are going to need some of these signings for when they are ready to compete, so I like the moves. Last season this team was below average offensively and really lacked power. The additions of Sidall and Nixon add to the offense quite a bit and bring some power as well. The team still lacks power though and the offense as a whole is still below average. The improvements are there though and the team should do a bit better than last season with the bats. The defense was pretty bad last season. This is an area that I see improvement. Milt Dietz is a solid shortstop although he can't hit very well. They also have solid gloves at other positions. This isn't a great defense by any means, but they are better than last season. The pitching also ranked near the bottom of the league. The rotation could use some help. Charlie Smith is a solid starter, but the rest of the rotation is well below average. The bullpen has a few good arms in it, but they aren't very deep here for what they'll need based on the rotation. The pitching staff is still well behind the other areas of the team and will likely rank near the bottom again. The team is still in rebuild mode and likely won't compete this season, but they made some moves that will help them in the long run.

St Louis looks like the team to beat again this season. In a division that looks below average through out, they should be able to take home the division crown again. Anaheim will likely compete and stay in the race for most of the season, but they have too many weaknesses to overlook and will struggle to stay in it till the end. Salem could surprise some teams this season with the offense, but they also have too many holes to overcome and will likely continue to rebuild and not make much of a challenge this season. Vancouver appears on the right track, but this isn't the season that they'll be ready to make a move up the standings.

1. St Louis
2. Anaheim
3. Salem
4. Vancouver

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Season 19 Previews-NL North

NL North
Season 18 brought us a new champ in this division. The Iowa City franchise had long been one of the worst franchise's in Pine Tar, but last season the fortunes finally changed and they won their first division title. That division title earned them a first trip to the post season. Trenton earned a wild card spot after finishing just 1 game from the top spot in the division. It was quite possibly one of the best division title races in quite some time. Fargo, as expected, dropped off a bit farther last season as they continue to rebuild and finished third. The franchise that was in Helena was real bad last season and with that the ownership decided to leave and turn over the franchise to someone new. With that they picked up and moved to Detroit. They are in a prime position to rebuild the franchise with the first pick in this seasons draft.

Iowa City Hawkeyes
Season 18 record-97-65(NL North Champ)
5 season record-328-482

Offense- Average-14th(.255), OBP-15th(.315), Slg-10th(.405), Runs-14th(708), HR-9th(195), SB-8th(96)
Defense- Fielding %-1st(.987), Double Plays-4th(396), Plus Plays-4th(77), Minus Plays-1st(16)
Pitching- ERA-2nd(3.42), OAV-3rd(.240), SO-12th(1039), Saves-3rd(58/70)

Key Additions- SP Matty Andujar(tr-Ana)
Key Losses- RP Oliver Bland(FA), RP Vin Segui(FA)

Iowa City made huge strides last season. A franchise that just never could get into the post season finally earned a trip. They didn't make it as far as they'd have liked, but it was a huge step considering where the franchise has been since season 1. It was actually just the second time in franchise history that the club posted a winning record. I personally thought it was going to take longer to get this franchise into the post season after the previous owner killed a couple drafts and didn't do much with the minors or majors. In the off season they added a solid starting pitcher in Andujar and didn't lose anything significant. If this team had a glaring weakness last season it was the offense. They ranked near the bottom of the league offensively. They are a bit short on power, but they have some players that can be a threat with the long ball. They don't have the best contact hitters, but they have some guys that can hit for a good average. This is an area the team still needs to improve. Defensively this team was great last season. Quite possibly the best in the league. They have a couple guys that could be gold glove type shortstops and have another couple that could hold down centerfield. This team is great defensively. The pitching was also one of the best in the league last season. The rotation isn't great, but they are solid and the great defense behind them helps. The bullpen looks good and are led by a couple really good relievers in Dennis Coleman and Rondell Kirwan. The pitching staff looks good, but not great. With the help of the defense I expect them to be among the best in the league again though. This team is solid and should make another run at the division title this season. I think they'll continue to improve and likely be one of the top teams in the NL for some time.

Trenton Thunders
Season 18 record-96-66(Wild Card)
5 season record-441-369

Offense- Average-10th(.261), OBP-6th(.332), Slg-15th(.378), Runs-11th(728), HR-16th(132), SB-1st(299)
Defense- Fielding %-3rd(.985), Double Plays-6th(388), Plus Plays-5th(72), Minus Plays-4th(28)
Pitching- ERA-3rd(3.43), OAV-1st(.235), SO-2nd(1176), Saves-2nd(61/70)

Key Additions- RP Geronimo Osuna(promoted), 3B Jim Campbell(promoted)
Key Losses- RP Ryan Maloney(tr-Scr), SP Bud Donnels(FA), RP Max Guillen(FA)

Trenton has been on quite a nice run this past 4 seasons. They've been right around the top of the division over this time and have even won 2 division titles with a World Series appearance. Last season they came up just short of the division title in a tight race with Iowa City, but ended up earning a wild card spot anyway. In the off season they made a couple nice promotions, but lost a few key players. Last season this team was a below average offensive team. They got on base at a nice rate, but the power was last in the league and they didn't score enough. They did lead the league in steals though. This season they still don't have much power and the hitting isn't among the tops in the NL. They have some guys that can get on base though and should still be in the upper half of the league in OBP. They are blazing fast though and will steal a lot of bases again which should help them score runs. The team looks like they can at least do a better job at scoring runs this season which would put them above average offensively. The defense was among the best in the NL last season. I think they could use a better shortstop and possibly centerfielder, but the team has good gloves for every other position. Overall it's an above average defense. The team really excels at pitching. They were among the best in the league last season. The rotation has some good arms, but nobody that stands out as an ace. The bullpen is really solid though. They have quite a few good bullpen arms that will shut down opponents late in games. If this team has a late lead then it should be locked up more times than not. Overall it is a good staff and should be one of the best again. This team is solid all around and should make another push for the division title. If they can't take the division then they are going to be tough to knock out of a wild card spot.

Fargo Wood Chippers
Season 18 record-61-101
5 season record-405-405

Offense- Average-12th(.258), OBP-13th(.320), Slg-8th(.416), Runs-13th(714), HR-6th(215), SB-16th(31)
Defense- Fielding %-16th(.974), Double Plays-15th(334), Plus Plays-11th(38), Minus Plays-16th(79)
Pitching- ERA-16th(5.42), OAV-16th(.293), SO-15th(970), Saves-13th(35/54)

Key Additions- none
Key Losses- RP Polin Castillo(FA)

Ownership in Fargo is claiming that this will be another lost season. The plan is to compete in a couple seasons if they can lock up some young pitching through the draft or IFA's. Last season was the third straight season without a playoff berth for this team that had never missed them until that time. With 2 World Championships and 5 World Series appearances ownership has proved that they know how to win and desire to win. I'm sure the fans in Fargo won't be disappointed once this team is finished rebuilding. Offensively the team was a below average team last season. They did have power though. The team isn't really a threat offensively this season, but once again they have a few guys that can knock one out of the park when needed. The defense was quite possibly the worst in the league in season 18. Vic Diaz is a solid shortstop, but they really lack good gloves at just about every other position. The defense doesn't look very good heading into season 19. The pitching ranked at the bottom of the league also. Orlando Nieves is a solid  young starter to build around, but the rotation isn't very strong. The bullpen could use some help also. The staff is looking rough. The team will likely struggle this season, but all hope is not lost. They have some good young players on the squad to build around and the minors look like they have some good prospects that aren't too far off from helping.

Detroit Tigers
Season 18 record-55-107
5 season record-384-426

Offense- Average-15th(.250), OBP-16th(.311), Slg-13th(.391), Runs-15th(657), HR-11th(169), SB-9th(93)
Defense- Fielding %-15th(.976), Double Plays-10th(379), Plus Plays-10th(42), Minus Plays-9th(43)
Pitching- ERA-15th(5.16), OAV-15th(.276), SO-16th(955), Saves-16th(33/50)

Key Additions- 1B Matty Coco(FA), C Harry Mateo(FA), LF Tiny Thomes(FA), 2B Preston Williams(FA)
Key Losses- RP Peaches Vasquez(FA)

Here we have a team that is in full rebuild mode. The franchise has seen the record dip each of the past 4 seasons to a franchise low of 55 last season. The former owner decided it was time to get out of the business and sold the team. The new owner has the task of getting this team back to where it was for so long, a solid playoff team. Unfortunately it looks as though this owner has already bailed on the team. They made some roster additions in the off season and didn't lose too much, but the roster is not full as we head into the season. I'm not even going to bother reviewing a team that I can't give an accurate account for due to this. Sorry.

Well, Iowa City and Trenton are looking like they are going to battle for the top spot all season long. This could be quite a good race once again. Both are good teams and should make the post season. Fargo is a team clearly rebuilding and focusing on the future division titles they plan on winning. Detroit, I'm confused about since the owner seemed interested, but doesn't have a complete roster at the time of this writing, which is scary since the season starts today.

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

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Season 19 Previews-NL East

NL East
What a consistent division we have in the NL East. Jacksonville won the division for a fourth straight season and for the 12th time in franchise history. Philadelphia finished second for the 7th time as they were competitive, but finished just average. Cincinnati finished 3rd for the second straight season and this is another franchise that always seems to put out a competitive roster. Kansas City finished fourth for the 3rd time in the past 4 seasons. They are another franchise that at the least puts a competitive product on the field. While other divisions have teams that have ups and downs, this division may not be dominant, but they always have 4 teams competing. The biggest consistency in this division though happens to be that there has been the same set of owners since season 2 and only 1 other owner besides these 4. If there's anything that can be expected going into season 19 it's that this division will have 4 teams that are going to compete.

Jacksonville Juice
Season 18 record-100-62(NL East Champ)
5 season record-453-357

Offense- Average-4th(.268), OBP-1st(.344), Slg-3rd(.442), Runs-1st(911), HR-4th(218), SB-4th(143)
Defense- Fielding %-11th(.981), Double Plays-12th(361), Plus Plays-14th(34), Minus Plays-12th(47)
Pitching- ERA-6th(3.94), OAV-6th(.263), SO-3rd(1173), Saves-4th(54/74)

Key Additions- SP Gerardo Morales(FA)
Key Losses- LF Luke Ryan(FA), 3B Ricardo Ibanez(FA), RP T.J. Starr(FA), CF Wally Ledee(FA), RP Babe LaRocca(FA), SP Robert Singleton(FA)

Jacksonville put together another great season in season 18, but fell short in the playoffs. They've been one of the top teams in the NL for quite some time now. They have been a staple of consistency in the NL. Last season was the fourth time in franchise history and won the division for the 12th time. The off season brought about quite a bit of change for them though. Out with the old appeared to be the motto. They lost quite a few key players and added one big starting pitcher. Lets see how the stack up after this. Offensively they were quite possibly the best team in the NL. The led the league in runs, and OBP. The were near the top in hitting, slugging, homers and steals. They have plenty of power on the team still. The hitting looks solid, but they are likely to hit better against left handers. They still have plenty of speed as well. The offense looks tough and should be near the top of the league again, but I could see them slipping just a bit. The fielding was a weakness last season. They were below average in everything. They brought in a shortstop, although he doesn't possess elite defensive skills. They still lack a centerfielder. The defense still doesn't look above average to me and will likely end up close to where they were last season. The pitching was good last season. The rotation looks solid, but not great. The addition of Morales helps, but I don't think he's enough to move the rotation into the upper part of the league. The bullpen has some good arms in it. I think the bullpen will be a strength of the team. Overall the pitching staff is above average, but I don't put them into the top 5 of the league. Overall, I think Jacksonville will be a tough team and challenge for the division title and if they can't take it then they'll at least battle for a wild card spot.

Philadelphia Moneymakers
Season 18 record-81-81
5 season record-392-418

Offense- Average-7th(.266), OBP-9th(.331), Slg-6th(.425), Runs-5th(794), HR-7th(212), SB-6th(125)
Defense- Fielding %-9th(.983), Double Plays-13th(358), Plus Plays-11th(38), Minus Plays-8th(41)
Pitching- ERA-8th(4.31), OAV-5th(.257), SO-4th(1168), Saves-5th(52/71)

Key Additions- OF/IF Nate Carter(FA), C Angel Martinez(promoted)
Key Losses- SP Omar Siqueiros(FA)

Philadelphia had an average season last season as they finished right at 500. Coming off a season that they made the playoffs though, it was a step back. They made a couple nice moves to bolster the offense in the off season and lost a decent starting pitcher that hurt the pitching. For the most part they stayed quiet. Offensively this team was slightly above average last season. They have some good hitters, but they don't have much power. The lineup features a great hitter in Lonny Infante, a player that you can build around. They have some speed on the team, but it is not a focal point. The offense looks above average to me heading into the season. Defensively the team was pretty average also. The addition of Carter helps. Looking at the team overall they should be a top defensive team. They have solid gloves for most positions. I see them improving in this area. The pitching was slightly above average as a whole. The rotation really doesn't look very good to me. It's an area of concern heading into the season. The bullpen has some good arms in it, but they may get burnt out from over use if the rotation gives way to them too often. Overall the pitching staff doesn't look very good to me and could take steps backwards this season. Overall, the team looks like an average team. If things fall their way then the team could challenge for a wild card spot, but if things fall the other way then they could end up closer to 70 wins.

Cincinnati Firestorm
Season 18 record-80-82
5 season record-434-376

Offense- Average-12th(.258), OBP-11th(.330), Slg-9th(.415), Runs-9th(746), HR-3rd(223), SB-15th(44)
Defense- Fielding %-6th(.984), Double Plays-16th(311), Plus Plays-1st(86), Minus Plays-6th(33)
Pitching- ERA-7th(4.22), OAV-8th(.266), SO-13th(1037), Saves-11th(40/59)

Key Additions- SP Timo Pan(FA), RP Wesley Landrum(FA), 2B Fergie Hill(FA), CF Wally Ledee(FA), LF Rafael Unamuno(promoted)
Key Losses- C Harry Mateo(FA), 1B Troy Jefferson(FA), OF Peter Mullin(FA), RP Bernard Hoffman(FA)

Cincinnati took some steps back these past couple seasons after winning 90+ games the previous 4 seasons. Last season they moved up a couple games from the previous season, but didn't really put forth a challenge for the division title at all. The off season brought about plenty of change for them. They added some players, lost some players and made some good promotions that should help the club. Offensively the team was near the bottom of the league last season. The only thing they did well was hit for power. Well they still have power and the promotion of Unamuno will add to that. He also should help the OBP and average. The team still doesn't look like one of the top teams in the league offensively, but they do look like a team that will improve from last season. The defense was good last season. They were near the top in percentage, plus and minus plays. With Andre Sele roaming centerfield they are pretty set there. The shortstop position is solid. They also have solid gloves at other positions on the field. I think Cincy improves defensively this season. The pitching was average last season. They have a solid, but unspectacular rotation. They could use a couple top of the rotation starters. The bullpen looks good though. Rooney and Milton are a couple under rated relievers and the addition of Landrum helps. The pen isn't very deep though after those guys and the loss of Hoffman hurts. The pitching staff as a whole is just about average. Cincy looks to improve on the past couple seasons and they very well could. I think that they are a pretty average team altogether, but I think they can at least challenge for a wild card spot.

Kansas City Kardinals
Season 18 record-72-90
5 season record-369-441

Offense- Average-7th(.266), OBP-11th(.330), Slg-5th(.431), Runs-7th(764), HR-8th(208), SB-12th(69)
Defense- Fielding %-3rd(.985), Double Plays-7th(387), Plus Plays-6th(63), Minus Plays-13th(48)
Pitching- ERA-10th(4.41), OAV-11th(.272), SO-14th(1033), Saves-13th(35/52)

Key Additions- none
Key Losses- none

Kansas City enters the season on an 8 season post season drought. Last season they made a small step forward by winning a couple games more than season 17. They chose to stand pat and didn't make any moves in the off season, but they didn't lose anyone either. The team has some minor leaguers that appear ready to help out also. This could be the season the team makes a bigger step forward if they choose to bring some of those guys along. Offensively this team was pretty average at everything last season. They have some power, but not a lot of it. They have some solid hitters as well. Ichiro Pong has put together a very nice career and is still a solid piece to build an offense around. Right now the offense looks about average. The defense ranked near the top of the league last season. The concerning thing was the minus plays which usually means there is a player or two out of position. They have a solid shortstop and centerfielder, yet neither are great. Really, they have a solid glove at most positions, but none of them are gold glove types. The defense is solid, but I don't think they are a top of the league defense and likely over achieved last season. The pitching staff wasn't very good last season. The rotation doesn't look very good outside of Bobby McCarthy. I think they look like a below average rotation. The bullpen could also use some help. Outside of Scooter Boskie they aren't very good. It's really hard to tell who is a starter or reliever though as most of the pitchers have high stamina and could be used as starters. As a whole I think the pitching staff is below average and will struggle. The team has some solid pieces and should at least be respectable. The pitching staff is going to hurt them and likely will be what keeps them from competing for a post season spot.

Jacksonville lost quite a bit in the off season, but still look like the team to beat in this division. It probably has a lot to do with the opponents though. Most of the teams in this division look about average, but Jacksonville looks above average. Philadelphia will need things to fall right for them to compete, but they should at least challenge for a wild card spot. Cincinnati looks like the most improved team to me, but I don't think they have enough to take the division. A wild card isn't far off for them though and they could sweep in and take one of them. Kansas City still looks like they are the team that needs help in order to compete. It will be hard for them to get into the post season unless they fix the pitching staff.

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

Monday, March 26, 2012

Season 19 Preview-NL South

NL South
Last season the South was won by Jackson for the 2nd straight season and third time in four seasons. The franchise has jumped to the top of the NL as one of the best teams over that period. Last season it all culminated in a World Championship. They are definitely a team to beat heading into season 19. Even more interesting in season 18 was the Charlotte franchise. At the All Star break they seemed to be down and out. With a flurry of mid season trades the ownership turned them into a force down the stretch. They ended up taking a wild card spot and matched up with Jackson in the NLCS where it all ended. The Texas franchise spent last season in Mexico City and dropped off significantly from where they've been for quite a while as one of the top teams in the division. Last seasons drop to third place was the first time since season 5 that they weren't one of the top 2 teams in the division. Louisville finished at the bottom as the team continued it's rebuild. I'd almost lay money that they improve upon that this season.

Jackson Juggernauts
Season 18 record-112-50(NL South Champs, World Series Champs)
5 season record-478-332

Offense- Average-4th(.268), OBP-6th(.332), Slg-2nd(.447), Runs-2nd(874), HR-2nd(240), SB-3rd(172)
Defense- Fielding %-6th(.984), Double Plays-14th(341), Plus Plays-3rd(84), Minus Plays-2nd(17)
Pitching- ERA-1st(3.37), OAV-2nd(.238), SO-7th(1123), Saves-1st(67/85)

Key Additions- None
Key Losses- RP Stone Faulkner(FA), RP Wesley Landrum(FA)

The team in Jackson had a great season last season. They set a franchise record for wins, made it to their first World Series and won the championship. It looks like they could be around the top for quite some time as they have a pretty young roster. They didn't make much noise in the off season, but they did lose some good bullpen arms. Last season this team had one of the better offenses in the league. They hit good, they hit for power and even had good speed. They didn't make really any big changes offensively and should look about the same this season. Defensively they were pretty good as well. They ranked near the top of the league in plus and minus plays and were above average in fielding percentage. They have a very good defensive team and I could see them doing even better this season. The pitching ranked near the top of the league as well. The rotation is pretty good, but they don't look as good as the numbers they put up. The defense probably helps that. The bullpen took some hits in the off season, but it is still solid. This team looks ready to contend again this season and could put together another World Series run. They are very well rounded and not many teams are have this kind of balance.

Charlotte Bad News
Season 18 record-93-69(Wild Card)
5 season record-421-389

Offense- Average-11th(.260), OBP-9th(.331), Slg-1st(.448), Runs-3rd(830), HR-1st(267), SB-10th(90)
Defense- Fielding %-12th(.980), Double Plays-1st(426), Plus Plays-8th(46), Minus Plays-9th(43)
Pitching- ERA-5th(3.84), OAV-6th(.263), SO-1st(1215), Saves-7th(45/63)

Key Additions- SP Orber Torres(tr-Sea)
Key Losses- RP Clarence Cain(tr-Sea), SP Willie Jacquez(FA)

As already mentioned, this team looked like they weren't headed for the post season at the break last season. They weren't out of it, but they were struggling. In one of the more impressive mid season turnarounds that I've seen, with a flurry of trades, Charlotte came surging back and into the post season. Offensively this team could have used some help last season. The didn't hit very well and were average at getting on base, but they scored runs and had power. Well, this team has some good power for sure. They may be one of the more powerful teams in Pine Tar. The lower average last season will not happen again. They have good hitting on this team and shouldn't be out of the top half of the league. Offensively this team is pretty good. The fielding was just below average last season. They have some solid gloves, but they aren't great by any means. I still think they are at least average. The pitching was pretty good last season ranking in the upper half of the league. They had a couple big losses on the staff, but the addition of a very reliable Torres will help ease that. The rotation is pretty solid and the were able to keep Oscar Osterbrock to lead it which will be huge for them. The bullpen looks tough. I really like the bullpen and they should be able to hammer down the victories for the rotation. Overall this team looks like a contender. They should challenge for the division title and at worst they are a wild card team for sure.

Texas Outlaws
Season 18 record-76-86
5 season record-457-353

Offense- Average-7th(.266), OBP-3rd(.337), Slg-12th(.397), Runs-10th(733), HR-13th(160), SB-7th(106)
Defense- Fielding %-12th(.980), Double Plays-2nd(418), Plus Plays-1st(86), Minus Plays-3rd(26)
Pitching- ERA-11th(4.52), OAV-13th(.273), SO-11th(1043), Saves-7th(45/52)

Key Additions- None
Key Losses- 1B Henry Siddall(FA)

After 1 unsuccessful season in Mexico City the franchise was sold and moved to Texas. The new owner will be trying to get the franchise back on track. That will be a tough task after the last owner let most of the top players leave and didn't replace them with much. This team will be in rebuild mode this season for sure. They didn't make any moves to improve and really didn't lose much, but they didn't have a lot to lose. The franchise was still a little below average offensively last season. The average was just that, average, they got on base at a good clip, but they lacked power. Since they made very little moves and lost Siddall, I could see them slipping a bit. They are still solid though, but below average. The defense was mixed. They didn't field well, but they led the league in plus plays and were near the top in double plays and minus plays. They just don't have the gloves to improve the fielding percentage. They do still have plenty of range though. The pitching was below average last season also. They have a couple good pitchers, but for the most part they are below average. This team looks just below average in every aspect of the game and that is usually a sign of disaster. The franchise is better off getting the rebuild moving and looking to the future. In this division, below average isn't going to cut it.

Louisville ARF ARF ARF ARF's
Season 18 record-65-97
5 season record-343-467

Offense- Average-3rd(.269), OBP-6th(.332), Slg-11th(.400), Runs-12th(724), HR-12th(165), SB-11th(81)
Defense- Fielding %-9th(.983), Double Plays-4th(396), Plus Plays-9th(45), Minus Plays-5th(32)
Pitching- ERA-13th(4.60), OAV-9th(.269), SO-7th(1123), Saves-16th(31/50)

Key Additions- SP Bret O'Leary(tr-Har), 3B Daryl Bonham(FA), C Ernest Miller(FA), RP Benji Contreras(FA)
Key Losses- C Tom Gonzales(FA), 3B Ugueth Moraga(tr-Har)

Louisville has been in rebuild mode for the past few seasons and they've slowly been adding pieces to compete. They made some big additions in the off season and lost very little. With some of the younger prospects continuing to move along in the system, this franchise could be looking at a pretty good run over the next few seasons. The offense was very mixed last season. They hit real good and got on base at a good clip. They didn't hit for much power, score runs or steal bases though. They added a player in Bonham whose ratings haven't matched his production, but I think he's a great fit for the park and will blossom there. The team still doesn't have much power, but they do have some good hitting. I think the offense should improve this season and move into the upper half of the league in scoring runs. The fielding was about average last season. They still lack a real good shortstop, which brings those numbers down, but they have good gloves at most of the other positions. I think they'll finish close to where they were last season. The pitching on the squad was below average last season and they were really bad at closing out games. The rotation looks solid this season and the addition of O'Leary will give them a top of the rotation winner. Sweeney should rebound from a disappointing season and pitch much better. I like the rotation heading into this season. The addition of Contreras will help the bullpen. Overall it's a solid bullpen, but they could use a couple more good setup men to help. The pitching staff is pretty solid and the franchise has come a long way over the past couple seasons by adding some real good arms. This franchise is just about ready to make a big step forward. They should compete this season, but I'm not quite sure they are ready to take the division crown. The have the makings of a team that will be challenging for a wild card spot.

This division is looking real tough this season. Jackson is the reigning World Champ and will be tough to knock from the top. I think they'll have more of a battle though than they did last season. Charlotte is a team that has some good strengths and could very well take the top spot in the division or even make a run at the World Series. Texas looks like a team that will be going the rebuild route and aren't likely to compete this season. Louisville is getting tougher with each season and this is the best they've looked under this ownership group. I could see them making things interesting this season in the division and putting a scare into the top teams. I think they end up challenging for a wild card spot in the end though.

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

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Season 19 Previews-NL West

NL West
What in the heck happened in the West last season? I was sure that Scottsdale was the team to beat and really they should have been. I'm going to call it just a bad season for them where they didn't get the breaks. Seattle won the division for the seventh time in a season that the plan was about rebuilding. Scottsdale has probably had the most disappointing run of bad luck in the division. The past 3 seasons I've seen them as a contender for the NL title and each season they've finished under 500, although in season 17 they did win the division and went to the NLCS. Things have to fall right for them eventually don't they? Colorado Springs continued on their path of building the system and moving in some younger players. With only 1 post season appearance since season 8 the team should be closer to competing for the top spot. Oklahoma City finished at the bottom of the division and was another team obviously in rebuild mode. As we get geared up for another season in the West, let's take a look at each team and see what they look like heading into season 19.

Seattle Strikers
Season 18 record-89-73(NL West Champs)
5 season record-436-374

Offense- Average-6th(.267), OBP-5th(.336), Slg-14th(.390), Runs-8th(758), HR-15th(149), SB-2nd(203)
Defense- Fielding %-3rd(.985), Double Plays-9th(385), Plus Plays-11th(38), Minus Plays-7th(37)
Pitching- ERA-4th(3.79), OAV-4th(.243), SO-5th(1135), Saves-6th(50/64)

Key Additions- RP Clarence Cain(tr-Cha), SP Ivan Silva(FA), RP Bernard Hoffman(FA), 2B Al Nen(FA)
Key Losses- SP Orber Torres(tr-Cha), IF Rafael Encarnacion(FA), 1B Buck Leonard(FA)

After a surprising surge last season to the top of the division the team decided in the off season to try to win again this season. Having won 7 of the last 10 division championships the team is coming off of the biggest shock of a season they've had. Not expecting to win last season, the team signed a couple older free agents to fill out the roster and it turned out that they still had something left in the tank. Mixing in some younger players that they've acquired in the short rebuild plan that they had the team improved by 14 games from the previous season. The offense was above average. The hitting was there but they didn't have much power. They did stick to the blueprint of going with speed and finished near the top of the league in steals. This season the team looks to expect the same and will probably hit even less homers as they have no real power threat. The fielding last season was good. They didn't make many errors, but they didn't make many plus plays either. In Seattle that isn't a good sign. The defense looks solid this season, but they aren't going to rank near the top of the league. The pitching was good again last season, but I attribute that to the park. They ranked near the top of the league in pitching. The loss of Torres hurts as they thought they had a plan in free agency to upgrade, but it fell through. The bullpen should be much more solid this season as they upgraded quite a bit in that area. The pitching should rank near the top again, but they aren't as great as the numbers will make them look. Overall I like what I see with Seattle, and they should compete for the division title again. They don't look like a team that could challenge for the NL title though.

Scottsdale Scorpions
Season 18 record-79-83
5 season record-400-410

Offense- Average-2nd(.270), OBP-3rd(.337), Slg-7th(.417), Runs-6th(766), HR-10th(194), SB-5th(140)
Defense- Fielding %-6th(.984), Double Plays-11th(374), Plus Plays-15th(33), Minus Plays-14th(58)
Pitching- ERA-9th(4.38), OAV-11th(.272), SO-6th(1133), Saves-11th(40/55)

Key Additions- RP Peaches Vasquez(FA), 1B/LF Buck Leonard(FA)
Key Losses- SP Ivan Silva(FA), 2B Al Nen(FA), 3B Bret Schneider(FA)

The Scorpions were just the opposite of the Strikers last season. I thought this team would do much better than they did after making it to the NLCS in season 17, but it never happened for them. They've been division champs in 2 out of the past 5 seasons and in the NLCS both of those seasons with a World Championship in season 14. They still finished second and a couple games below 500, but they looked better on paper. The signing of Leonard will help the offense after the lossses of a couple good hitters from last season, Nen and Schneider, left. Vasquez is a solid signing, but the loss of Silva hurt. Last season the offense for this team was pretty good. They hit the ball good and got on base, but the power numbers weren't there. They did steal a lot of bases though. The offense looks good heading into this season and they still have a great power hitter in Jorge Renteria behind the dish. They have the players that can hit for power, but we'll have to see if they can put up the numbers to back that. They don't really have the speed heading into this season though and likely won't steal as many bases. The fielding numbers are mixed. They didn't commit many errors, but the plus and minus plays were bottom of the league. They don't look very good defensively heading into the season and don't really have a legit shortstop or centerfielder. I think they look like a bottom of the league defensive team. The pitching as just below average last season. They have a solid rotation and the bullpen has a couple good arms in it. The depth of the pen isn't great, but what they have make them above average. I think this team looks solid with pitching. They aren't great, but they should be fine with what they have. I think they'll be a bit above average this season. Overall this is still a solid team offensively, but the defense will make things tough on the pitchers. I'm not going to predict them to take the division this season because when I do they don't. I actually think they will finish pretty close to 500 ball again this season and miss out on the post season.

Colorado Springs Night Watchmen
Season 18 record-71-91
5 season record-356-454

Offense- Average-1st(.271), OBP-2nd(.343), Slg-4th(.437), Runs-4th(801), HR-5th(217), SB-13th(67)
Defense- Fielding %-14th(.979), Double Plays-8th(386), Plus Plays-16th(25), Minus Plays-15th(70)
Pitching- ERA-14th(4.78), OAV-14th(.276), SO-9th(1088), Saves-9th(43/63)

Key Additions- OF Pedro Reyes(promoted)
Key Losses- OF B.C. Harper(FA)

Here's a team that stayed quiet in the off season. The biggest addition they made was from within with Reyes and they only really lost Harper. Reyes looks like he is going to be a pretty good player in the league and is an upgrade of Harper. They've been hovering around 70 wins since season 13 when they last made the post season and that addition should help them on their way up. They are a very young team and still have some pretty good prospects that will be making their way onto the roster over the next few seasons. Last season this team led the league in hitting and offensively were pretty good to say the least. They look like they should be able to repeat that offensive season. I'm not sure if they will finish at the top again, but they should be one of the top 5 teams. They have solid power throughout the lineup and good hitting abilities. They have some speed on the team, but they don't really steal many bases and it looks like a coaching preference. Defensively this team was pretty bad last season. This is one area that needs upgraded. They still look like a team that won't be very good with the gloves. The pitching was bad last season as well. They didn't really improve here in the off season. Outside of a couple good bullpen arms, this team doesn't look very good in the rotation or bullpen. I don't think they are the worst pitching team, but they are below average and with the defense the way it is will struggle. The Night Watchmen are definitely on their way up and have a really good offense, but I don't think this is the season we see the breakthrough. I think it'll be another season close to 70 wins for them, but this team is on my watch list of teams that will be tough to beat in another couple seasons.

Oklahoma City Prairie Dogs
Season 18 record-68-94
5 season record-365-445

Offense- Average-16th(.244), OBP-14th(.317), Slg-16th(.374), Runs-16th(628), HR-14th(153), SB-14th(63)
Defense- Fielding %-2nd(.986), Double Plays-3rd(411), Plus Plays-7th(57), Minus Plays-11th(45)
Pitching- ERA-12th(4.57), OAV-9th(.269), SO-10th(1069), Saves-10th(41/54)

Key Additions- SP Edgardo Lugo(FA)
Key Losses- OF Karim Candelaria(FA)

Oklahoma City is another team that didn't do much in the off season. Coming off of back to back last place finishes I thought I'd see more of them making some moves this off season. They are another team, like Colorado Springs, that are pretty young, but most of the top young players they have are still a couple seasons away from helping. Offensively this team was quite possibly the worst in the NL last season. They finished near the bottom in every category. The offense doesn't really look that bad to me though. At least not that bad. Any team would love to have Vic Rijo and they have other players that are pretty solid to go around him. I think if anything this team will do better this season and maybe be closer to an average offense. Defensively this team was one of the better teams in the league last season. With a shortstop like Asdrubal Alcantara it's hard not to be. The look just as good this season and should be one of the tougher defensive teams in the league again. Even with a good defense the team struggled in pitching last season. They were just below average, but with that defense I would have though just above average. The pitching though still is not good. Rick Owens is solid, but the rotation besides him isn't very good. The bullpen isn't either and these guys will give that defense a lot of work to do. The pitching could use an upgrade for sure. Overall this team isn't one of the better teams in the league, but I don't think they will be a terrible team. The offense should rebound and have a better season and I love good defense and that's something they have. The pitching will hold them back more than anything. This team should improve upon last season.

Well I'm going to do it. I'm going to go ahead and give myself the jinx. The last time I did it, Seattle didn't win the division so this should mean the division is wide open for anyone to take. I think that each team has flaws and there really isn't a dominant team in the division. I think I go with Seattle to take it since they did last season. Really though it should be a tough race this season and the division winner will likely end up just above 500. I don't see any team from the division taking a wild card spot if they fall short of the division title.

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

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Owner of the Year-Season 18

I just realized that this was missed the past 2 seasons, but it shouldn't have been. So it's that time again. Time to vote for the owner that you think had the best season in season 18. There are many things that should be considered in this vote and I've decided to make a case for each owner on the ballot. It's your choice to decide how strongly to judge each owner on each thing I've listed.

TK21775(Iowa City Hawkeyes)-TK added 29 wins from the previous season to this was embattled franchise. He led them to the their first division title and post season appearance. They came up short in the post season, but that shouldn't deter anyone from voting for this candidate.

greygoose123(Jacksonville Juice)-Once again this franchise took the division title. They had the franchise's fourth 100 win season. It was another outstanding season for this owner.

bobbyj7(Jackson Juggernauts)-For the second season in a row this owner led the team to a 100+ win season. Not only that, but they won the World Series for the first time in franchise history. Obviously the likely favorite for the award with such an outstanding season.

douglaslee(Charlotte Bad News)-This owner finds himself in this poll for an awesome turnaround during the season. The team did have a really good season with 93 wins, but at midseason they didn't appear to be a team that could make a run in the post season. With a flurry of mid season deals douglaslee put this team in prime position to make a run and they did. It all ended in the NLCS, but it was a great season none the less.

tmfran(Dover Dinklebergs)-In the first season as owner of this franchise tmfran led them to the division title that has long been held by Syracuse. The team won 100+ games for the fourth time in franchise history and set a franchise record with 103. It wasn't meant to be in the post season, but they had an outstanding regular season.

blues_bros(Pittsburgh Psychics)-Another first season owner to excel last season was here in Pittsburgh. After the franchise declined in victories each of the previous 3 seasons, blues_bros came in and stopped the bleeding in a big way. He led the team to 101 victories for the franchise's second 100+ win season. Another team that quick exited in the post season, but had a great season overall.

bnags(Nashville Nalas)-Realistically bnags has a case for owner of the year in each of the past 6 seasons. Last season was just the same. With 109 wins it was the fifth consecutive season of 100+ victories. Not only that but they are the AL champs and was a part of a great World Series in which they came up short. That shouldn't deter anyone from voting for this great owner.