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

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