Thursday, July 12, 2012

Season 20 NL East Preview

NL East
The east was won by a familiar team last season. Jacksonville took it's fifth straight division title and 9th out of the last 10. That gives them a total of 13 division titles now. They are a team that has only had 2 losing seasons and are one of the best franchises in Pine Tar history. Philadelphia finished second with 88 victories which was a 7 win improvement from season 18. It was their third consecutive 2nd place finish. The third place team, Cincinnati, finished just below the .500 mark for the third straight season and has started a run of not making the playoffs during that time. Kansas City improved by 4 games last season but still finished in last with a respectable 76 victories. They have a 9 season playoff drought going that they will look to end this season.

Jacksonville Juice
Season 19 Record: 96-66 (NL East Champs)
5 Season Record: 475-335
Owner: greygoose123: 1765-1326 (1 World Series Title, 13 division titles)

Offense 1 Defense 1 Pitching
Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank
Average .259 22 Fielding % .980 23 ERA 4.05 10
Home Runs 243 3 Double Plays 371 26 Opp. Avg. .267 18
Ops. .770 8 + Plays 38 26 Stike Outs 1134 5
Runs 819 9 - Plays 61 27 Saves 55 6
Steals 106 13 1 1 1 1 1 1
Slugging .439 8 1 1 1 1 1 1

Key Additions- Ben Jacobsen(rule V), SP Jorge Figureoa(FA), RP Chico Guerrero(FA),

Key Losses- SP Andres Park(FA), SP Max Mateo(FA)

The Juice, of Jacksonville, have had quite an impressive run in Pine Tar's first 19 seasons. They have 13 division titles, 4 World Series appearances(the last in season 16), and 1 World Championship. With just 1 owner in this time, it makes the franchise even more impressive. Last season was just another great season for them and while the post season didn't go as they'd have hoped, it was a successful season. In the off season they lost a couple good starting pitchers, but made a big signing when they inked Jorge Figureoa to replace them. Chico Guerrero was a very good addition to the bullpen and rule V pick Ben Jacobsen is a young player that can help the team out. The ownership has shown the commitment to winning and are going for it all this season.

Offensively this team was pretty good last season. They hit for power, scored runs and stole bases. If they hit for average better then this team would have been unstoppable. The off season didn't bring much change for them as it's still pretty much the same team offensively. Andre Fleming is a power bat that could make more contact, and the same with Allen Gruber and Brian Langford. The best all around hitter on the team is Andrew Overbay, who's coming off a down season. Teddy Lemon is a pretty good bat to have around as well and he'll steal some bases. Overall this is a good, but not great offense. Grade- B

The defense ranked near the bottom of the league last season. The gloves were below average and they didn't flash much range for the plus and minus plays. Bernie Wolf has the tools to be a real good fielding shortstop, but he mostly plays in center, where he is pretty good also. Teddy Lemon is the shortstop and he pretty much defines the defense as he's below average for the position. Nick Cooper is the main centerfielder and he has range, but lacks the glove for the position. Overall this defense doesn't impress me and could lead to the demise of the team. Grade- D+

The pitching was good last season. They gave up some hits, but they stopped teams from scoring and a big reason for that was that they struck out opponents enough to rank fifth in the league at it. The rotation this season features Gerardo Morales, Bryant Clayton, Jorge Figureoa, and Magglio Figureoa. All four are quality starters and should help this team win a lot of games. Sherman Stevens, Andres Jacquez, Nigel Parrish, and Chico Guerrero are all good bullpen arms. This is a pretty good pitching staff and I think they could produce better than last seasons group. Grade- A-

Jacksonville has a pretty good team that will be tough to knock from the top of the division. They aren't off to the best start this season, but they should be able to turn things around. The only thing that could ruin that is the defense, but the offense and pitching should be enough to over come that. 

Philadelphia Moneymakers
Season 19 Record: 88-74
5 Season Record: 405-405
Owner: Philler26: 690-606 (3 division titles)

Offense 1 Defense 1 Pitching
Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank
Average .271 9 Fielding % .986 10 ERA 4.38 18
Home Runs 205 13 Double Plays 407 15 Opp. Avg. .265 15
Ops. .770 9 + Plays 62 14 Stike Outs 1027 22
Runs 799 13 - Plays 43 24 Saves 57 3
Steals 94 17 1 1 1 1 1 1
Slugging .438 9 1 1 1 1 1 1

Key Additions- SP Napoleon Hallman(FA),

Key Losses- None

This franchise has been showing some signs of life the past few seasons. They haven't had a losing record since season 16, but they also have only made the post season once in the past 9 seasons. The 88 wins they had last season was the best finish for this franchise since season 11 when they posted 90 victories, but it still left them on the outside looking in for the post season. In the off season this team upgraded the rotation and kept the bullpen intact. Management is hoping that is enough to help them contend in the NL and stick around in the divisional race all season long. 

The offense was solidly above average last season. They weren't among the best teams in the league but they were in the next tier below them. They showed decent power, good hitting, decent speed and scored a decent amount of runs. With 2 time MVP, Lonny Infante in the lineup, they should always be a threat to put up runs. Mandy Whitfield is coming off of a big 50 homer season and Tomas Acosta also helps provide some good power. Cam Stubbs, Dicky Bartee, Nate Carter and Angel Martinez are all good hitters. This team should hit the ball and continue to be a good offensive team. Grade- B+

Defensively, the Moneymakers were also above average last season. They had good gloves and decent range. Nate Carter plays centerfield and he is above average in that spot. Kurt Parker is the shortstop and he's a pretty good fielder at that spot. Carmen Delahanty may have the best glove of any secondbaseman in Pine Tar. Overall this team has the players to play the key positions and even have some good gloves to back them up. This is a solid defense that is just short of being great. Grade- B+

The pitching on this team was just about average last season. They were one of the best teams at closing games last season though. The addition of Hallman was huge for this rotation. He's the type of pitcher that has ace qualities. Rookie, Stretch Teixeira, is a solid starter, but lacks the control to be consistent. The rotation is better due to Hallman, but they could still use a bit more quality than what they have. The bullpen is fairly solid. Thumper Young, and Osvaldo Tatis are good setup men. Pat Karl isn't the best closer, but he's solid. Taylor Flier and Benji Crespo are relievers that can eat up innings. The pitching staff as a whole is average, but they do have some bright spots among them. Grade- C+

I see a pretty solid team here. They are off to a rough start on the season and I'm not sold that they have what it takes to win the division. They do have what it takes to hang around though, and should at least challenge for a wild card spot. They have a tough team, with a few real good players.

Cincinnati Firestorm
Season 19 Record: 79-83
5 Season Record: 420-390
jbburner: 1576-1515 (2 division titles)

Offense 1 Defense 1 Pitching
Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank
Average .258 25 Fielding % .985 13 ERA 4.47 19
Home Runs 231 8 Double Plays 351 29 Opp. Avg. .266 16
Ops. .738 21 + Plays 62 14 Stike Outs 1047 19
Runs 751 22 - Plays 31 13 Saves 46 14
Steals 47 26 1 1 1 1 1 1
Slugging .417 17 1 1 1 1 1 1

Key Additions- SP Archie Tewksbury(FA), 3B Freddy Cuddyer(FA),

Key Losses- None

It's funny that I waited this long to do this teams preview. This is the quote I received from ownership about this team,"The train has come off the tracks in Cincy and management hasn't figured out how to get it back on track." Well based on the standings it looks as though they figured it out. They are off to one of the hottest starts in the NL at the time of this writing and that comes in a tough division. In the off season they added Freddy Cuddyer to help bolster the offense and added Archie Tewksbury to the pitching staff. A couple nice moves that could have aided in this teams hot start.

Offensively this team was below average last season. They did hit for power, but that was about it. Freddy Cuddyer is a great hitter and he's showing it early in the season. Pedro Cordero is pretty good as well. Youngster,  Rafael Unamuno, is the type of hitter that could win some silver slugger awards as he'll hit for power, average and draw plenty of walks. This offense is well rounded besides these guys and should be poised for a turnaround this season. I don't see them as one of the best offenses in the league, but they are pretty good. Grade- B+

The defense was above average last season, but not one of the best teams. Alfredo Rivera is a solid shortstop with decent range and a great arm. Andre Sele has lost some range, but he's still a great centerfielder although his days of adding to the 8 gold glove awards seem to be over. This team has some pretty good gloves on the field and even have some good backups. I think this defense should be a top 10 d. Grade- A

The pitching was really pretty average last season. The rotation features Tewksbury, Davey Quinones, Harry Lunar, Bernard Evans, and Timo Pan. None of them are top of the rotation starters. The bullpen is solid with Wesley Landrum, Tom Milton, and Jack Rooney, but not great. The pitching staff is a weakness for this team and I don't even think they are average. Grade- D+

They are off to a hot start, but I'm not sure they can keep it up. Go figure, I jinx them by mentioning the good start then I reverse the jinx by saying that. The pitching staff is just not good enough to keep this up. They are going to need to add an ace in order to remain on top of this division.

Kansas City Kardinals
Season 19 Record: 76-86
5 Season Record: 369-441
Owner: bodean: 1402-1527 (1 division title)

Offense 1 Defense 1 Pitching
Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank
Average .269 11 Fielding % .984 17 ERA 4.57 20
Home Runs 171 20 Double Plays 333 32 Opp. Avg. .268 19
Ops. .745 18 + Plays 55 18 Stike Outs 1015 25
Runs 765 17 - Plays 38 18 Saves 45 17
Steals 47 27 1 1 1 1 1 1
Slugging .413 20 1 1 1 1 1 1

Key Additions- None

Key Losses- None

The fans in KC have to be wondering when this team is going to turn the corner. They have finished 4th in the division the past 3 seasons and 4 of the last 5. Season 10 was the last playoff appearance for them and they only have 2 playoff appearances ever. The team hasn't really been very bad either though. They've only lost 100 games one time and that was back in season 2. As a matter of fact they've only won less than 70 games twice and that was seasons 1 and 2. They just can't seem to get over the hump. This off season the team chose to stay pretty quiet and didn't make any big noteworthy moves and didn't really lose anyone either as they kept the nucleus of the team together. It seems to be working so far as the team is off to a pretty good start and are only a couple games out of first place as we get close to the quarter season mark.

Offensively this team was pretty average last season. They hit well, but the power was below average and the team didn't really steal many bases. They have a good young hitter in Colby Rogers that mixes in with veterans Wally Spencer, Chad Oliver and Ichiro Pong. All of them are good hitters and provide a solid foundation for the teams lineup. Spencer and Pong provide the power, but they aren't really a power hitting team. Overall this looks like a slightly better offense than how they performed last season. Grade- B

The defense was very average last season. They finished right in the middle in fielding and plus and minus plays. Trey Shuck is a very good shortstop and has a gold glove to his credits. The team really lacks a centerfielder though. Most positions are covered with decent gloves though. This is really just an average defensive team. Grade- C+

The pitching was a bit of a concern last season. The finished as a just below average staff. I really like innings eater, Bobby McCarthy, as he provides the team with double digit victories yearly. Woody Parker is a solid starter as well and usually racks up close to 200 innings. Besides those 2 I'm not really sure I like this rotation. They could really use an ace and that would really shore them up. Scooter Boskie is good coming out of the pen, but they don't have much else besides him. The pitching staff as a whole looks just below average, but a couple good arms could help them greatly. Grade- C

Kansas City has a good offense, but the pitching staff and defense are enough to make me think that they don't have staying power near the top of the division. They really aren't very far off from being a good team, but as things stand right now I have to think that they'll end up out of the post season race around mid season.

Since the season is near the quarter mark it should be easy to look and make a good guess of where these teams will finish. I just don't think the standings right now will end up close to how they finish. Jacksonville is still the team to beat from what I see, but they've gotten off to a rough start. Philadelphia should be in the mix this season and could even take a wild card spot. They are the 2 bottom teams right now. Cincinnati has one of the better records in the NL, but I just don't think they have the pitching to keep that up. They have everything else and with a few moves could change this prediction, but I don't think they can make a run at the post season. Kansas City only stands a couple games out right now, but they are just an average team. They are another team that could make a couple additions and suddenly they are a real contender though.

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

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