Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Season 20 NL West Preview

NL West

In season 19 the NL West was one of the weaker divisions in the National League. Ghutton led the division  for most of the year. Seattle finished with a division winning 92 wins and claiming the clubs' seventh NL West title in nine seasons. Oklahoma City had a solid season finishing in second place while continuing the rebuilding process. The Scottsdale franchise is trying to leave there losing ways behind when they moved to Albuquergue this offseason. New owner Csudak, has a lot of work to do over the next couple seasons in order to get this team back to being competitive. Colorado Springs has been on a division title drought for the past 11 seasons. This team looks to be in a serious rebuild mode. Ownership has achieved a lot with this team in the past, including a World Series championship. Season 19 was a down year for the NL West but it look likes season 20 will be a nice rebound year.

Seattle Strikers
Season 19 Record: 92-70 (NL West Champ)
5 Season Record: 440-370
Owner: ghutton9 1165-974 (8 division titles)

Offense 1 Defense 1 Pitching
Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank
Average .262 18 Fielding % .988 1 ERA 3.36 2
Home Runs 163 29 Double Plays 387 22 Opp. Avg. .229 1
Ops. .716 28 + Plays 48 20 Stike Outs 1175 1
Runs 753 19 - Plays 32 15 Saves 60 2
Steals 214 3 1 1 1 1 1 1
Slugging .393 29 1 1 1 1 1 1

Key Additions- SS Asdrubal Alcantara(FA), RP T.J. Starr(FA), IF/OF Ismael Liriano(FA)

Key Losses- RP Bernard Hoffman(FA), RP Flip Buck(FA), 1B Al Nen(FA)

Seattle continued their winning ways last year, winning the NL West for the second straight season.
The Strikers continued their winning in the post season by knocking out Louisville and Trenton. The World Champion Jackson Juggernauts were too much for Ghutton and the Strikers though, beating them in seven games. This team did a lot of things right and the off season brought even more weapons heading into season 20.

The one weakness for Seattle is the offense. Finishing toward the bottom of the league in most offensive categories. However, this team continued to be very potent on the base paths by racking up 214 steals. The Strikers are only the second team in Pine Tar history to have over 210 stolen bases and less then 40 runners thrown out, that's efficiency. Seattle did lose one of there top offensive players this off season in Al Nen. Nen batted a  .282 in season 19 which isn't bad in Safeco's monster ballpark. The loss of Nen was addressed by management with the signing of Ismael Liriano. One of the biggest disappointments for Seattle last year was Yumeiro Veras. Veras only batted a whopping .254 in his rookie season. He is still a young player and hopefully can grow into a more solid hitter.  Team leader, Benny Navarro had an outstanding sophomore season. He finished the year with a .299 average, 29 homers, and 84 RBI's. Navarro looks to improve on those numbers in season 20 as he becomes the face of the franchise and a rising superstar. Overall Seattle has a lot of offensive firepower but they are very inconsistent. Grade B

The Strikers had one of the leagues best defenses last season. This team was ranked first in fielding percentage.  Ghutton didn't lose any players this off season that were good fielders but he did add one very good fielder. Asdrubal Alcantara is a veteran player who will help this team become even better defensively.
Alcantara is a four time Gold Glove shortstop who will be a big help in the middle infield. Seattle has one of the premier infields heading into season 20. Alcantara and Navarro combine for a above average duo at second base. In an interview with Benny Navarro, I asked how he felt about playing with such a accomplished player in Asdrubal Alcantara. Navarro, "I dont think Asdrubal is a very good fit for this team. Management should trade him or send me back to LA, their choice". Seattle has a solid defense and has improved for season 20. Grade A 

Pitching is what Seattle does best. One of the leagues best overall rotations, and a bullpen that can lock up saves is what carried this team to the NLCS. Ace John Rucker dominated last year posting a 20-8 record and a 2.46 ERA on his way to the Cy Young award. Edgar Santana has been solid since coming to Seattle piling up double digit wins every season with the team. One of the biggest underachievers on this staff hands down is Alex Guerrero. In two seaons as a Striker he has only 14 wins. Guerrero is late in his career but pitching at Safeco should be a big help with a rebound year. This team lost two very good bullpen guys in Bernard Hoffman and future Hall of Famer, Flip Buck. The team reloaded for season 20 by signing veteran T.J. Starr. This is one of the NL's deepest staffs with a  lot of talented arms. Grade A

Seattle goes for the three-pete on season 20 and it looks like they will do it. Ghutton is a very good owner with a lot of experience. This team has gotten stronger for the new season and they should be a tough team to face in the post season.

Oklahoma City Prairie Dogs
Season 19 Record: 75-87
5 Season Record: 368-442
Owner: brentcnb 518-649

Offense 1 Defense 1 Pitching
Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank
Average .256 27 Fielding % .986 7 ERA 3.89 8
Home Runs 141 32 Double Plays 452 4 Opp. Avg. .256 10
Ops. .691 32 + Plays 64 13 Stike Outs 1051 18
Runs 637 31 - Plays 28 11 Saves 42 18
Steals 81 19 1 1 1 1 1 1
Slugging .367 32 1 1 1 1 1 1

Key Additions- IF/OF Joey Kirk(Promoted), SS Cecil Pratt(Promoted)

Key Losses- None

Oklahoma City finished second in the NL West in season 19 with a 75-87 record. That is an improvement since this team lived in the basement in seasons 17 and 18. Owner brentcnb may have finally got this club to round the corner and become a contender. It's been a while since this team has made the post season. You'll have to look all the way back to season 10. Statistically this team is improving.

The Prairie Dogs had one of the worst offenses in all of Pine Tar last year. This team is in need on a true power hitter to drive in some runs. Vic Rijo and Gus Park do bring some power to the table but it doesn't seem like enough. Rijo smacked 29 homers and played in all 162 games. Besides him, this team doesn't have to many pieces in place to compete. With rookies Joey Kirk and Cecil Pratt making the majors this year, it should help this team score a bit, but not enough. Offensively OKC is a year or two away from being able to challenge the tough Strikers for the division title.  Grade C-

The one thing Oklahoma City does do very well is play defense. Ranked seventh in fielding percentage, and fourth in double plays, the prairie dogs have a good foundation to build a very good team. Two time Gold Glover Eric Presley, is one of the veteran fielders that is a major help for this team. Another player who is a big help is Tom Bonilla. Bonilla is a solid second baseman who makes it tough on hitters to get balls back up the middle. Rookie shortstop Cecil Pratt is a very good fielder who will improve this defense quite a bit. This club has an above average defense with very few holes if any. Grade A

With a team ERA of 3.89, OKC is doing something right. The pitching staff doesnt seem to have any "stud" players but somehow they can get it done. Rick Owens is a young player who has yet to really reach his full potential. Last season he finished with a 8-11 record with a 3.53 ERA. Rookie Juan Ramirez is a solid pitcher who can add some flexibility to this team. Ramirez is a setup man in Season 20 but he has the ability to pitch in the rotation if needed. Overall this team has a good bullpen but lack a real ace. If this team can add a true ace in the next couples years, the pitching staff will be one of the best. Grade B+

It looks like season 20 is going to be a long year for the Oklahoma City Prairie Dogs. This club doesn't  have enough to compete in the very tough National League. A couple more seasons of rebuilding will pay off huge if this team can find just a couple more pieces. Having the ninth pick in the draft this year should be a big help.

Albuquergue Komodo Dragons
Season 19 Record: 68-94
5 Season Record: 380-430
Owner: csudak

Offense 1 Defense 1 Pitching
Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank
Average .255 28 Fielding % .978 26 ERA 4.19 15
Home Runs 190 21 Double Plays 409 13 Opp. Avg. .256 10
Ops. .726 25 + Plays 42 25 Stike Outs 1158 2
Runs 661 30 - Plays 67 28 Saves 42 19
Steals 36 28 1 1 1 1 1 1
Slugging .403 25 1 1 1 1 1 1

Key Additions- None

Key Losses-  SP Al Rivers(FA), RP Bill Walker(FA)

Formerly Scottsdale, the Albuquerque Komodo Dragons are starting fresh in a new city and a new ballpark. New owner csduak has a lot of work to do if this team is going to get back to being a contender. Its been only five seasons since this team won the franchises only World Series Title. This team finished third last season which isn't too bad for a team in rebuild mode.

Albuquerque's offense last season was good but it has some holes. This team ranked toward the middle of the league in most offensive categories. That might sound bad but when you factor in the ballpark they played in, its doesn't sound to good. The David Ballpark (Scottsdale) is one of the biggest hitters parks in the league. A bright spot for the Komodo Dragons is Jorge Renteria. Renteria can absolutely rake. He hit 42 homers and 93 RBI's with a .293 average. If Albuquerque can find some hitters that can get on base this guy could be a 120 RBI player. Management did address one big issue by adding some power. Dude Durham can crush the ball, he will be a huge help in season 20. Overall  Albuquerque  has an improved offense but it doesn't seem like they have enough. Still a couple years away. Grade C+

The Dragons have a solid defense and it showed in season 19. Two difference makers are Geoff Saturria and Daryl Robertson. Saturria is a two time Gold Glove second baseman. This team has a strong infield who will instantly make any pitcher better. Management didn't change anything by bringing in a new player this season which isn't really a bad thing but a couple more gloves will definitely help.This team needs some improvements to the outfield and maybe a little more depth for the infield. Grade C

If  Albuquerque  will have anything going for them this year its going to be pitching. This team was toward the top of the league in most pitching stats and second in strikeouts. The rotation got a little weaker with the lose of Al Rivers and the bullpen suffered the lose of Bill Walker. Management didn't do much to replace those arms either. One guy who should ease the pain of those loses is Alex Allen. Allen is a great pitcher but has underachieved most of his career. He's a top of the rotation player who could win anywhere from ten to fifteen games. Miguel James is another guy who should be winning around fifteen games. A new ballpark could help these players perform on a level they should and finally live up to expectations.  Albuquerque  has a good bullpen also. Chick Linden is an outstanding setup man that will hold shut it down in the late innings. This team has a solid pitching staff, even after losing some guys in free agency. Grade B+

Season 20 is going to be a long one for this ball club. I wouldn't expect too much out of the major league roster.  Albuquerque  still has a couple more grueling years of rebuilding ahead of them. This team does have the third pick in the draft which will more than likely be the highlight of the season.

Colorado Springs Night Watchmen
Season 19 Record: 64-98
5 Season Record: 346-464
Owner: toe64 1584-1527 (1 World Series Title, 6 division titles)

Offense 1 Defense 1 Pitching
Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank Category Stat Rank
Average .252 30 Fielding % .982 20 ERA 4.68 22
Home Runs 170 26 Double Plays 397 18 Opp. Avg. .272 22
Ops. .715 26 + Plays 23 30 Stike Outs 1052 17
Runs 681 28 - Plays 48 25 Saves 27 30
Steals 112 11 1 1 1 1 1 1
Slugging .391 30 1 1 1 1 1 1

Key Additions- OF Jamie Ramsey(Promoted), 1B Arlie Leon(Promoted), IF Mario Manning(Promoted),
1B/LF David Rivera(Promoted)

Key Losses- IF Jorge Lopez(FA), RP Stevie Murray(FA), 1B Alvin Reed(FA)

The Colorado Springs Night Watchman had a dismal season 19 finishing last in the NL West which is arguably the weakest division in all of Pine Tar heading into season 20. This team struggled all season and only finished with 64 wins. Owner toe64 made a lot of moves this offseason which instantly improved this club in many different ways. Season 20 just might be the year this team finally snaps their division title drought of 11 straight seasons.

Offense was a big problem for Colorado last year. Ranked in the bottom third of the league in average, homers, Ops, runs and slugging. The roster for the upcoming season has been bolstered with a lot of young talent. Jamie Ramsey, Arlie Leon, Mario Manning and David Rivera will all improve the offense dramatically. Manning has some speed which is always nice to have.  Possibly the most interesting player to come up this year is Brian Lowrie. Lowrie was a Rule 5 guy who has some power. If he can play to his potentional, 30-40 home runs isn't impossible for him. The only thing this team lacks is guys who can get on base. Juan Perez and Rafael Chavez are both capable of batting .270 at least, but they have underachieved throughout their careers. If this team can find one or two guys to put in the top of the order, they could do some damage.
Grade B

The Night Watchmen are a solid defensive team and have gotten better going into the new season. This team did a lot of things right defensibly last year. Mario Manning is a solid fielder who can play just about any position. Jorge Lopez was a huge lose this offseason for Colorado Springs. He is a player with Gold Glove potential and will be missed by this club. Overall I think the Watchmen did get stronger of defense and should improve in Season 20. Grade B

If this team is going to have a downfall, its going to be because of pitching. The rotation might be one of the weakest in the National League. Whitey Hendricksen is a solid starter but struggled in season 19. Hendricksen posted a 9-11 record with a 4.12 ERA. Besides him this team doesn't have much else as far as starting pitching goes. Colorado Springs does have a very good bullpen though. Players like Alberto Blasco, Willis Phillips, Steve Perez and Alcides Martin will have to outstanding if this team is going to compete. The bullpen is good enough to win a lot of games for the Watchmen but that is a unorthodox way of winning and chances are, it wont work in the playoffs. Colorado Springs has some major needs in the starting rotation heading into season 20. The bullpen will have their hands full and it will be interesting to see how far this club can go. Grade B-

Colorado Springs is a tough team to predict. They have a lot of pieces in place to do some damage and possibly win the division. The big issues this team has is the starting rotation and guys getting on base. Besides that this is a very good and well rounded ball club. The Night Watchmen might still be a year away from being a serious contender.

The NL West as a division will improve in season 20 which will make it tougher for Ghutton to repeat as the division winner. Colorado Springs looks like the only real threat for the division crown. I wouldn't be surprised to see Colorado hanging around by the All-Star break. The Strikers are a tough team with little if any real weaknesses so this team is favored to win the division. Montreal and OKC are both in rebuild mode. I wouldn't expect much from them this year since both are still at least two years away from competing.

2.Colorado Springs
3. Oklahoma City

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