Saturday, April 7, 2012

Season 19 Previews-AL East

AL East
Last season this division didn't do much to surprise. Pittsburgh was the only real surprise, but it wasn't that much of a surprise since they've won the division the past 5 seasons now. The surprise was them winning over 100 games. Durham moved up without actually moving up. The went from fourth to second, but had the same record as the previous season. Boston took some steps back and dropped to third with only 77 victories. Chicago struggled after having a season with a winning record and dropped 15 wins from their season 17 total.

Pittsburgh Psychics
Season 18 record-101-61(AL East Champs)
5 season record-477-333

Offense- Average-3rd(.288), OBP-2nd(.354), Slg-1st(.503), Runs-1st(993), HR-1st(308), SB-10th(89)
Defense- Fielding %-12th(.982), Double Plays-4th(424), Plus Plays-12th(41), Minus Plays-14th(62)
Pitching- ERA-5th(4.27), OAV-8th(.268), SO-2nd(1127), Saves-4th(48/64)

Key Additions- none
Key Losses- RP Phil Gardner(FA)

Pittsburgh won the division for the fifth straight time last season. The 101 victories were the second most in team history. After the franchise spent the previous 3 seasons seeing their win total drop, they had a great first season under new ownership.

Off Season
In the off season the team stayed fairly quiet and didn't make any major moves and didn't really lose any top players.

Last season the offense ranked near the top of the league in just about every category. The hit well, hit for power, got on base and scored runs. This season the team still has plenty of offense. They have good hitting, good power, and good eyes throughout the lineup. Grade A

This is a weakness for the team. They ranked near the bottom of the league in my big 3 categories, Fielding percentage, Plus Plays, and Minus Plays. Robin Risley is a solid shortstop, but the lack a real centerfielder. They have average to below average gloves at all other positions. They likely will finish near the bottom again. Grade D +

The pitching was pretty good last season. They ranked in the upper half of the league, but didn't have the best of opponent averages. The rotation is good, and I really like Jorge Figuereoa, Carlos Nieto and Lou Offerman in this rotation. The bullpen also has some good arms in it. The pitching numbers could be better if they had a better defense behind them. Grade B+

I think this is a pretty good team really. They have good hitting and good pitching. The defense could be a weakness, but not enough to ruin this teams chances of taking the division title again. I think that they should win north of 90 games and at the very least end up with a wild card spot.

Durham Doormats
Season 18 record-79-83
5 season record-369-441

Offense- Average-2nd(.291), OBP-3rd(.353), Slg-2nd(.497), Runs-4th(920), HR-2nd(295), SB-14th(65)
Defense- Fielding %-10th(.983), Double Plays-4th(424), Plus Plays-11th(47), Minus Plays-16th(80)
Pitching- ERA-13th(5.42), OAV-15th(.292), SO-3rd(1112), Saves-8tht(44/72)

Key Additions- SP Willie Jacquez(FA), SP Victor Maranon(promoted), SP Orlando Cruz(promoted), C Kazuhiro Kuroda(promoted), OF Billy Haynes(promoted),
Key Losses- RP Timothy Douglass(FA)

Last season the team finished in second in the division, but it was another disappointing season overall. It was the eighth straight season with a losing record for this franchise that has only been to the post season three times.

Off Season
In one of the biggest moves of the off season, Durham went out and signed an ace in Willie Jacquez. They didn't really lose much and didn't make much noise besides that. They have made some real good promotions that will help, but all of those happened during the season.

Last season this team boasted one of the best offenses in the AL. They were near the top in all the big categories except steals. The team has a real good offense this season. They have power and should hit for a great average again. Grade A

The team really wasn't very good defensively last season. They weren't the worst, but they were below average. They have a dynamite shortstop in Angel Faulk and Eric Lindsey is a solid centerfielder. The problem for the team lies elsewhere though. The gloves really drop off after those two. The team has a solid foundation defensively, but not enough around them. Grade C

The team knew they had to upgrade the pitching. They ranked near the bottom of the league again. The addition of Jacquez was a big boost to the rotation. The promotions of Maranon and Cruz also helped. Benny Bravo came up last season, but he is young and another key part of the rotation. If nothing else, this rotation is better and is pretty solid. The bullpen isn't very deep, but they do have some decent arms in it. The pitching on this team looks like it should be good this season. Grade B-

This team should make big time improvements over last season and early on in the season they are showing it. They will be tough to beat and will battle for the top of the division most of the season. If anything, the run of losing seasons should end. They will also be in the running for a wild card spot if they can't take the division crown.

Boston Pilgrims
Season 18 record-77-85
5 season record-360-450

Offense- Average-9th(.268), OBP-10th(.331), Slg-12th(.417), Runs-13th(771), HR-13th(195), SB-7th(97)
Defense- Fielding %-6th(.985), Double Plays-11th(390), Plus Plays-1st(116), Minus Plays-2nd(10)
Pitching- ERA-10th(4.97), OAV-11th(.279), SO-15th(921), Saves-12th(39/52)

Key Additions- none
Key Losses- RP Harry Gonzalez(FA)

Boston took a little step backward last season. After putting a winning record together in season 17, they came back to below 500 last season. It was a disappointing season for the franchise that is trying to put the losing ways behind them. Only 2 seasons with a winning record and one post season appearance has been what this club has experienced, but they also haven't had a consistent owner. kjmulli is now the longest running team owner in their history in just his fifth season.

Off Season
The franchise stayed quiet in the off season as they chose to stick with what they have.

Last season this team was just below average offensively. They lacked real power and also didn't get on base very well. The power was somewhat of a surprise since they have a couple of the top power hitters in the league in Houston Baptist and Rico Tatis. Pepper Sanders is just an all around good talent that can do it all. Any lineup with these guys is dangerous. The team really isn't far off from having a really good offense. Grade B

The defense was pretty good last season. They were above average with the gloves and had tons of range. Chun-Lim Li is playing centerfield this season, but he was one of the best shortstops in the AL last season. Tito Raburn is playing shortstop this season and I think he is a step back at the position, but he's solid. The team is pretty well off defensively though and should rank near the top of the league again. Grade B

This was a weakness for the team last season. They ranked in the bottom half of the league overall. The rotation is not very good this season and could use an upgrade. The bullpen isn't very good either, but they do have a couple really good arms in Nash Casanova and Chico Guerrero. The pitching is what will hurt this team this season. Grade D

They have the offense to be good, they have the defense to be good, but they lack the pitching. This team will struggle to fight for the division title until this is addressed. If they had a good rotation then I could pick them to win the division, but the way it stands, I don't really think they can have a winning record. Another season of building for the future is what I see in Boston.

Chicago Wind Tunnel
Season 18 record-68-94
5 season record-346-464

Offense- Average-8th(.269), OBP-11th(.329), Slg-10th(.420), Runs-11th(780), HR-11th(197), SB-2nd(187)
Defense- Fielding %-14th(.980), Double Plays-2nd(443), Plus Plays-14th(32), Minus Plays-8th(38)
Pitching- ERA-14th(5.52), OAV-15th(.292), SO-7th(1068), Saves-9th(42/54)

Key Additions- none
Key Losses- SP Gerardo Morales(released)

Chicago seems to be going through what I call the curse of domi. I've seen this happen in multiple worlds. domi, has a team, takes them to division titles, leaves the team, and the team struggles to win for many seasons. I think it has to do with a lack for building a decent minor league system for the win now philosophy. I hate to single out former owners and I know he is the one that brought a lot of the owners to this world, but it has to be pointed out to defend the current owner. The team hasn't been to the post season in the past 7 seasons.

Off Season
The team didn't make any major moves in the off season, but they did make one baffling move to me by releasing Gerardo Morales. Morales may not have produced like the team expected, but the talent was there.

Last season this team was just below average offensively. They did steal a lot of bases though. The team lacks much power, but I do like Barney Taft, who can knock the ball out of the park. Youngster Russell Powell is going to be a real good hitter for years to come on the team. Besides those two, the offense really isn't that good. They should finish below average again. Grade C-

The defense on this team was pretty bad last season. The lack a good shortstop, but are solid at other positions. The lack of a real shortstop is what brings this team to the bottom of the league defensively. I think they could be at least average if the fixed this. Grade C-

The pitching also ranked near the bottom of the league last season. The rotation is pretty bad. They could really use some help there. The bullpen is a bit better, but still not an average group. The pitching staff as a whole ranks near the bottom of the AL. Grade D

The team has a lot of money invested in the draft and has had some good picks recently, so it shouldn't be to far off from fielding a winner. Looking at the minors doesn't really back that up though. There aren't many impact players that are close to helping this team out. They will continue rebuilding this season as they are still a few seasons off.

Pittsburgh is the team that has led this division for a while now and are still a quality team. The should be in the mix for most of the season and will end up as one of the better teams in the AL. Durham is coming right along and should also battle it out with Pittsburgh. I think this division gets two teams into the post season this season and if not then it won't be by much that they miss. Boston is still a ways off due to the pitching situation. Chicago will struggle to stick around the pack and are still rebuilding.

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

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Season 19 Previews-AL South

AL South
There was much of a surprise in the South last season. Nashville was the dominant team they were expected to be and ran away with the division title. They found themselves in the World Series again after a couple seasons of losing in the ALCS. The championship wasn't meant to be though. They lost to Jackson in a very exciting 7 game series. It's hard to be disappointed about a season like that. San Juan ended up in second in the division again and finished below 500. The franchise has only 1 post season appearance ever and the fans are growing impatient. Tampa Bay continued there post season drought but made steps in the right direction. New Orleans fell off a bit and finished last in the division.

Nashville Nalas
Season 18 record-109-53(AL South Champ, AL Champ)
5 season record-551-259

Offense- Average-1st(.292), OBP-1st(.374), Slg-4th(.465), Runs-2nd(981), HR-9th(214), SB-3rd(162)
Defense- Fielding %-2nd(.988), Double Plays-6th(419), Plus Plays-3rd(104), Minus Plays-2nd(10)
Pitching- ERA-1st(3.63), OAV-2nd(.245), SO-1st(1133), Saves-2nd(54/72)

Key Additions- none
Key Losses- none

Nashville has consistently been one of the teams to beat in the AL for the past 7 seasons as they've put together one heck of a run. Last season the team put up their fifth straight 100 win season and made it to a second World Series in the past 4 seasons. They came up short on the big stage, but it was a great World Series that was decided in 7 games. They were so close. In the off season the team stayed quiet and chose to keep together the young team they've assembled. Offensively this team has been the standard in the AL for quite a few seasons now and last season was no different. They may have lacked some power, but that wasn't enough to keep them from being quite possibly the best offense in the league. This season should be pretty much the same. They still lack some power, but the hitting on the team is unmatched and they have good speed as well. The defense is also among the best in the league. They have great gloves for almost every position in the field, but I think they lack a great shortstop. That's not enough to knock them down from the top tier though. This defense is still elite. The pitching last season was the best in the AL. The rotation is led by Alex Martis, Dan Siebert and Jeremi Rice, who form a great top end. The rotation is weaker after those three, but they are enough to put the group among the best in the league. The bullpen is pretty good as well. Maybe not as strong as the rotation, but still a pretty solid group. The pitching staff should be pretty good again this season and will likely rank among the top teams in the league. Overall, I think Nashville is going to be tough to beat and has their sights set on a return trip to the World Series. They are my favorite to win the AL at this point.

San Juan Pollos Hermanos
Season 18 record-77-85
5 season record-348-462

Offense- Average-12th(.262), OBP-9th(.334), Slg-11th(.419), Runs-9th(792), HR-11th(197), SB-6th(98)
Defense- Fielding %-4th(.986), Double Plays-8th(417), Plus Plays-8th(66), Minus Plays-6th(24)
Pitching- ERA-6th(4.29), OAV-5th(.261), SO-4th(1104), Saves-13th(35/57)

Key Additions- RP Junior Brogna(FA)
Key Losses- RP Gabe Gorecki(FA), RP Ezdra Johnson(FA), SP Edgardo Lugo(FA)

Over the past four seasons this team has steadily seen their win total climb to a respectable level from the 60 wins back in season 14. Last season ended with a second straight second place finish in the division and gave a little hope for the fans in San Juan. They've never won the division and have only seen the post season once. The climb in victories are hopefully a sign of things to come. They didn't make many moves in the off season and have a really young club that should continue to get better. The offense was pretty average last season. The didn't hit well or hit for power, but did steal some bases and scored runs at a decent rate. This season the team still lacks power and the hitting seems a bit below average. They do have some speed though. The offense looks about the same. The defense was pretty good. They have a couple real good shortstops and a pretty good centerfielder. This isn't the best defense around, but they are pretty good and should be one of the better teams in the league. The pitching was above average last season. I don't like that they saved only 35 games and blew 22 saves though. The rotation is pretty good and led by Napoleon Hallman, Darren Banks and Diego Valbuena. That is a pretty good top of the rotation. The rotation looks pretty good and is definitely a strength of the team. The bullpen though isn't as impressive. Carlton Harding isn't the pitcher he used to be and Junior Brogna is solid, but outside of them the bullpen doesn't have much going for it. If the bullpen was better then this would be one of the top staffs in the AL, but right now they are just above average. I have to say that the team looks pretty average right now, but they aren't far off from breaking into the above average group with a couple moves.

Tampa Bay Thunders
Season 18 record-75-87
5 season record-397-413

Offense- Average-5th(.271), OBP-6th(.338), Slg-8th(.432), Runs-5th(856), HR-7th(215), SB-4th(154)
Defense- Fielding %-12th(.982), Double Plays-16th(324), Plus Plays-15th(28), Minus Plays-13th(57)
Pitching- ERA-12th(5.20), OAV-9th(.269), SO-10th(1052), Saves-11th(40/59)

Key Additions- RP Ezdra Johnson(FA)
Key Losses- RP Bert Jordan(FA)

Tampa Bay at one time was the team to beat in this division. From season 5 through season 11 they won the division in each season. Since then the franchise has failed to make the post season. They've just missed out a few times in that span, but the past three seasons haven't gone so well. Last season was a step back towards the winning side of things after a fourth place 69 win season in season 17. Tampa finished third last season and improved to 75 victories. They stayed pretty quiet in the off season, but I really like the addition of Ezdra Johnson to the bullpen. They also have a good group of younger players on this team that should continue to develop. Not to mention some good young prospects in the minors that well be on the way over the next few seasons. Last season the offense was good. The could hit well, scored runs well, had a little power, and stole plenty of bases. I like the power on the team this season and would be surprised if the home runs didn't improve. They also have a good group of hitters that will likely get the team ranked among the best in the AL. The have some good speed also. This is a well rounded offense and I think they can improve upon last season and end up as one of the best offenses in the AL. The defense was one of the worst in the AL last season. Defense is a big weakness for the team. I don't like the shortstop or centerfield situation in Tampa and they don't have good gloves for most positions. I think they'll rank near the bottom again. The pitching last season was pretty bad. The rotation isn't great, but they are average. Young starter Claude Collins should have a good season and he is going to be a top starter in the league. Bo Carter is a good young starter also and with those 2 in the rotation they do have something to build around. The bullpen looks pretty good this season. The addition of Johnson helps. The team has 4 good bullpen arms that are going to really help this season. The pitching staff looks solid and should have a better season than last season, but the defense could hurt that prediction. Overall Tampa looks like a solid team and should at least challenge for a post season spot. I think they'll make a step forward this season and finish above 500 at the very least.

New Orleans Nighthawks
Season 18 record-68-94
5 season record-363-447

Offense- Average-14th(.258), OBP-13th(.325), Slg-6th(.437), Runs-10th(789), HR-5th(233), SB-10th(89)
Defense- Fielding %-10th(.983), Double Plays-3rd(432), Plus Plays-6th(81), Minus Plays-10th(46)
Pitching- ERA-9th(4.90), OAV-12th(.280), SO-12th(1015), Saves-9th(42/60)

Key Additions- C Tanyon Paige(promoted), 1B Kenny Beard(FA), OF Luke Ryan(FA)
Key Losses- OF Wascar Martinez(FA)

It's been a long time since that 97 win wild card season back in season 9 for this franchise. They've been in a playoff drought ever since and the last winning season they had was way back in season 10. The past couple seasons have seen them fall further behind and last season was the first time the franchise has finished in fourth place in the division. They stayed fairly quiet in the off season, but didn't lose much and added a few pieces to help. They have a couple younger players in the big leagues in Sam Slotnick and Braden Fussell that are pretty good, but the roster has some older players that don't do much for the longer term plan. They do have some solid pitching prospects in the minors that will help out over the next few seasons, but they aren't quite ready to help out yet. Last season the offense was below average. They didn't hit well, but did have some power. This season they look about the same. Luke Ryan and Kenny Beard will help them hit a bit better, but not enough to make them above average. This team lacks real contact hitters and the offense as a whole is below average. The defense was about average. They showed decent range with a good plus play number though. I like shortstop Vin Hernandez, but the defense altogether isn't good enough to break into the upper half of the league. They really look about the same as last season. The pitching was pretty average last season. The rotation looks below average and could use some help. The bullpen looks good though. I think the bullpen is probably the best strength the team has. The staff is probably just below average. I think the team will likely struggle this season again, but they have some solid players and should continue to get better over the next few seasons when some of the young pitching prospects are ready to contribute.

Nashville is a tough team and will likely be making another run at 100 wins and the AL championship. They are just too good to be challenged for the division title. San Juan looks like an average to below average team and won't put any pressure on Nashville and would need a lot of things to go right to get into the post season. Tampa Bay looks like a team that could surprise, but I don't think they can take the division. A wild card spot is a real possibility though. New Orleans just has too many holes still and could be in for a long season.

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