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

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