Tuesday, April 9, 2013

AL West Season 23 Preview

Last season, Vancouver ended a 7 season drought by winning the division. They finished with the franchises first winning record since season 14. It was also the third straight season that they improved their win totals. The Tucson franchise finished second in the division, but were in the race for most of the season. In the off season they changed ownership for the third straight season. St Louis finished in third. After winning the division in season 21 the franchise took a step back by winning 15 fewer games. With 4 of the past 6 division titles, they should still be a contender. Los Angeles continued to rebuild and finished last for the third straight season, but matched their season 21 win total with 67.

Vancouver Canucks
Average.2774Fielding %.9873ERA5.1813
Home Runs2237Double Plays37712Opp. Avg..2707
Ops..7966+ Plays588Strike Outs10656
Runs8468- Plays479Saves4210

Season 20 record- 83-79(AL West Champ)
Last 5 seasons- 331-479

Key Off Season Moves
Traded for SP John Rucker
Promoted 2B Ervin Warner
Signed RP Lonny Sojo
Signed SP Glenn Hafner
Signed LF Don Aoki
Signed RP Jack Rooney

Offense-Vancouver ranked in the upper half of the league offensively last season. They've made quite a few moves in the off season, but the addition of Don Aoki will be the biggest help offensively. The team will feature an aging slugger in Charles Torres, who can still put up some good power numbers and drive in runs. Willie Williams, Pedro Gomez, Ervin Warner, Kenny Fox, Mendy Lee and Daryl McEnerney are all pretty solid hitters as well. This offense doesn't really feature very many great hitters, but they do have some depth. I believe they can finish in the upper half of the league again due to that depth in the lineup.

Defense-The defense ranked as just above average last season. The range was very average, but the gloves were among the best in the league. Dante Ueno is the teams shortstop. His glove ranks near the bottom of the league for shortstops, but his range is really good and his arm is as well. The team should be able to get away with him at short, but he's only average due to the glove. Daryl McEnerney is the centerfielder and his glove is among the best in the league there. His problem is that he lacks range. Pedro Gomez is an ideal thirdbaseman. There really isn't much depth on defense though. I doubt they can rank as high this season and I think they are slightly below average defensively.

Pitching-The pitching wasn't very good last season. The team really focused on pitching in the off season. The trade for Rucker was huge for this rotation. It allows Brad Porter, Bill Crabtree, Glenn Hafner, and Felix Mabry to slide down in the rotation into slots that fit their abilities better. The addition makes this rotation pretty solid. The bullpen features closer Jack Rooney, who is just an average closer. His control issues make him a less than ideal closer. Phil Linton has the ability to be one of the better relievers in the league. I really like the addition of Lonny Sojo. He's 39 years old, but he still has some left in the tank. The pitching staff isn't great, but they are moving in the right direction and are at least average.

Projection-Vancouver has been steadily improving and will continue on that path this season. I think they can win the division again. The offense is good and the pitching and defense are solid enough. The team should make a push for 90 wins, but I think they'll fall just short.

Owner Interview-
Me-This will be your sixth season in the league. Most of it has been rebuilding a team that has had no real sustained success since season 9. Each of the past few seasons the win totals have increased and you've brought up some good young players. What has been the toughest part of rebuilding the team? Were there any good prospects in place when you took over? Are there any real stud prospects in your minors that will be making an impact in the near future? What are your goals for this season? What can we expect?

skplayer07-The toughest part of rebuilding this team was staying patient. I think that was the hardest part since I was somewhat new to the game. Now that I'm going into my sixth season I have had some really good draft picks that are coming through the system and now my team is starting to win a few games. When I took over this franchise I had a very thin minor league system. I had SP Bill Crabtree and OF Daryl McEnerney. There were several other mid level prospects that I have either traded or just didn't pan out. I have several stud prospects making their way through the system right now. My top prospects include SP Malik Sele, OF Vicente Feliz, SS Nolan Bourn, and 3B Rickie Halama just to name a few. Sele and Feliz will be making thier major league debut this season. The rest are still a season or two away from making their debut. This season my goal is to win my division again this season but also increase my win total. I would like to see my team win a playoff series this season with the addition of John Rucker and the promtion of Malik Sele to the starting rotation. You can expect to face a tough team in Vancouver this season. Even though I believe I'm still one season away with prospect development before my team becomes a force to be reckon with in this world.

Tucson Sidewinders
Average.26611Fielding %.98111ERA5.3616
Home Runs2278Double Plays33316Opp. Avg..28716
Ops..7759+ Plays5011Strike Outs100713
Runs8497- Plays4910Saves477

Season 20 record- 76-86
Last 5 seasons- 388-422

Key Off Season Moves
Claimed 1B Trevor Cornelius off of waivers
Promoted 3B Rafael Vincente
Promoted CF Lawrence Bernero
Signed SP Charles Taylor
Signed RP Steve Perez
Signed SS Pedro Berroa
Signed RP Clarence Cain
Signed RP Gabe Gorecki
Signed SS Aramis Cordero

Offense-This franchise finished right at average offensively last season. They were decent at hitting homers, stealing bases and scoring runs. They did finish a little lower in batting average though. They made a lot of moves in the off season and this is a different looking team now. The move I like the most is the promotion of Rafael Vincente. He's got some good pop and will hit. He's still young and will get better as well. Jim Christman may be the teams best contact hitter. He has a career .295 average with a .364 OBP. Rheal Beck, Herm Terrell and Houston Baptist provide some good power. The offense looks pretty solid to me. Playing in a hitters park could allow them to finish near the top of the league.

Defense-The defense was below average last season. The additions of Berroa and Cordero were made to improve this area. Berroa is the starting shortstop and he's pretty solid. He has average range and slightly above average glove. His arm strength is elite though and the accuracy is good. Youngster Lawrence Bernero has good range for centerfield, but his glove is just below average. This former futures game MVP will be able to do a solid job though. The defense isn't very deep, but I like the shortstop situation now. I think the defense ranks as average.

Pitching-The pitching was really bad last season. They made some moves to help that in the off season, but in a heavy hitters park, I'm not sure they will look improved. The addition of Charles Taylor to the rotation will help. He's a solid pitcher, but he's not an ideal ace. I really like Paxton Weiland as a middle rotation starter. Esteban Villa is pretty solid as well. The rotation looks about average. The bullpen features a good setup guy in Diego Benitez. Victor Waner is a really good setup man as well. Esteban Cantu is young, but I think he is going to be pretty solid. The old veteran of the club is free agent addition Clarence Cain and he can still pitch. The bullpen is really solid. I think this pitching staff is at least average, but the numbers aren't going to look that way in Tucson.

Projection-The offense looks solid, the defense looks solid and the pitching looks solid. This team should be able to challenge for the division title if things fall the way they should. I think they can hang around for most of the season at least. A winning record should be in reach for them.

Owner Interview-
Me-Welcome to the league. You're taking over a team that has had much success since their season 1 World Series Championship. What led you to this team? What is the plan with them(rebuild or compete now)? Do you feel like there are already pieces in place to execute your plan for the team? Care to tell us who they are if there are any? What are your expectations for this season?

jkenned-First I want to thank you for the invite and the excellent work on the blog. When I took over this squad I had planned on adding a few impact pieces in free agency to gear it up to be a solid playoff team, but that quickly changed when the money started to get thrown around like we were Pac-man Jones in a Vegas strip club. I then screwed up when I accidentally designatedAndrew Adams instead of promoting him and lost him in the Rule 5. I did make some solid value signings at the tail end of free agency and promoted two solid players in Rafael VincenteandLawrence Bernero , but right now the plan is to try and cobble together a competitive squad, but one unlikely to compete for a playoff spot without a lot of lucky breaks. I chose Tuscon based on the offensive profile of this team and we should hit for power and with our home park maybe we can slug our way to. 500 if the pitching comes together. That said I think this is probably the first stage of a long-term rebuild and I will more than likely end up a seller by the All-Star break and looking to next season. The 12th pick in the draft and some payroll flexibility should allow me to add some significant prospects because the system has a few solid pieces but no impact players in the pipeline. I doubt it will be a quick turnaround here in Tuscon and things will probably get worse before they get better but the fans here in Tuscon should at least get a good offensive show this season.

St Louis Arch Angels
Average.24116Fielding %.9845ERA3.922
Home Runs17513Double Plays.4353Opp. Avg..2593
Ops..69214+ Plays598Strike Outs10925
Runs65316- Plays294Saves3414

Season 20 record- 70-92
Last 5 seasons- 406-404

Key Off Season Moves
Traded for SP Al Rosario
Selected 1B Byran Holmes in Rule V draft
Promoted C Calvin Pecina
Signed RP Carlos Flores

Offense-St Louis was one of the worst offensive teams in the league last season. This was an area that needed addressed for them. I think that the promotion of Calvin Pecina will help a lot. He has the potential to be a great hitter. The team already has a great offensive player in Lou Jefferies as well. Aurelio Canseco has the potential to be really good. Neil Roberts and Bryan Holmes are a couple more above average hitters that make this a good lineup. I can't see this team finishing near the bottom again this season. They have some good players in the lineup. They don't have a lot of depth though. I'm not sure the are above average, but they do look like a team that should at least be average offensively.

Defense-The defense for this team was pretty good last season. Robin Risley is the teams shortstop, but he's below average. He lacks the range and arm strength for the position. He does have an average glove though. Lou Jefferies is the thirdbaseman for this team and he's pretty solid. Jim Carter will play centerfield and he has a solid glove, but he doesn't have ideal range. After these guys there is a big dropoff defensively. I can't see how this team can finish above average on defense. The strengths are just average and everything else is below average to bad. I think this is a below average defense.

Pitching-The pitching was one of the best in the AL last season. This is the teams major strength and the addition of Al Rosario adds to that. Rock Randall is a true ace and a Cy Young caliber player. Jim Kelly and Sean Shipley are great middle of the rotation arms. Vinny Napoli and Rosario are great back end of rotation starters. This team features a great rotation that ranks among the best in Pine Tar. Phillip Crawford, Chico Guerrero and Carlos Flores are good bullpen arms as well. The bullpen isn't quite as strong as the rotation, but they are still good. St Louis has one of the top pitching staffs in the league.

Projection-The offense is solid and should finish better than last season. The defense isn't looking very good and will take some steps back from last season. The pitching is so good though, that they can overcome that. This team should be in the division race all season long. I wouldn't be surprised to see them win 90 games.

Owner Interview-
Me-You had a nice run taking the division title in 4 out of 5 seasons and then last season happened. I imagine it was a disappointing season for you. The team didn't live up to what it had been giving you. What happened? Did you feel like there was a weakness that needed fixed and did you fix it? Can the team rebound this season? You have a really good rotation and likely one of the best in the AL. Is that what your focus was for this team or did it just happen that way? What can we expect this season from the Arch Angels? 

Flucie-It was very disappointing. The hitting was weak last year. Low O.B.P. and weak on Power. Hunter had a terrible tear. Plus Def. was just avg. I believe this caused a problem for the pitchers and in turn the pitching was below par. Need Hunter to play to his ability. Added Pecina and rule 5 player Holmes to the roster. Hoping this will help the offense. Still need a couple of power hitters. Believe the pitching will be the strong point of the team. If we can get some hitting I believe we can finish above 500.

Los Angeles Regulators
Average.26212Fielding %.98013ERA4.729
Home Runs10716Double Plays37413Opp. Avg..2709
Ops..67815+ Plays657Strike Outs97015
Runs69815- Plays2612Saves2916

Season 20 record- 67-95
Last 5 seasons- 322-488

Key Off Season Moves
Traded for RP Wesley Landrum
Traded for SP Magglio Figureoa
Promoted 1B Bo Long
Promoted 3B Jake Ashley
Promoted SS Lyle Tipton
Signed RP Bert Jordan
Signed RP Thumper Young
Extended RF Yusmeiro Veras

Offense-Los Angeles finished near the bottom of the league offensively, but they stole a lot of bases. The promotion of Bo Long will help them out a lot. He is going to be a really good hitter in the league. Yusmeiro Veras is a pretty good offensive weapon that will get on base and swipe a bag. The promotion of Jake Ashley will also help the team although he's not as good as Long. Brett Richardson had a down season and should rebound, as he's a really good hitter with a career .422 OBP. Bip Rodgers is another player that could have a good rebound season. Overall, this offense is pretty solid. They surely are better than last season. They have solid hitting and really good speed. This offense is average.

Defense-The defense was bad last season. They did have solid range though. Lyle Tipton is the shorstop. He's below average defensively. He has solid range and average glove, but his arm strength is on the lower side. Del Broome is a great centerfielder with good range and really good glove. Edwin Reese could back up in centerfield, but he's in leftfield for now. This team should see big improvements defensively this season. The promotions have allowed them to put players in their more natural positions. This team could have one of the better defenses in the AL.

Pitching-The pitching was average last season. The trade for Figureoa is an upgrade to the rotation. The really lack a true ace though. Alcides Martin, Chico Pineda, and Douglas Jennings are solid back end of the rotation starters. Figureoa is a solid middle rotation guy, but his team really doesn't have a number 1. That makes this a below average rotation. The bullpen is a strength though. Andres Jacquez, Bob Hill, Todd Washington, Thumper Young are good late inning guys that are followed by an established closer in Wesley Landrum. Landrum is looking for a bounce back season after having his worst season as a closer in season 22, although he only blew 3 saves. This pitching staff is pretty average.

Projection-Los Angeles is an improving team. They've improved in every aspect. They've really improved in defense, which should help the pitching staff. The lack of a power threat offensively, and an ace on the pitching staff is what holds this team back. They should make some waves this season and be around in the title race until late in the season.

Owner Interview-
Me-Heading into your 9th season, you have been rebuilding this team for most of that time. Is this the season that the team starts to turn it around? What has been your focus while rebuilding(what type of players)? Have there been any surprises or big let downs during this rebuild? Do you have any future stars in the system that we should be looking out for in a couple seasons or less? Who? What can we expect to see this season from the Regulators?

bobswagger91-The rebuild is just about over but i'm still waiting on some players to come up. Tim Daubach is one of my major pieces. Hopefully he can bounce back from his injury and be a ace. The big bat i'm waiting for is Phil Yamamoto .During the rebuild, i didnt look for any type of player. I took the best players available with my picks. Looking ahead to this season, i expect my team to make the playoffs. I added some young players to the offence and upgraded the pitching staff. My team still has the speed and should be much better on defense. The only thing i'm missing is power and a true ace. When i can get those two issues taken care off, my team can be a legit contender.

Wow, this is an improved division all around. Rather than an interesting race between teams that aren't very good, this will be an interesting race between some good teams this season. Vancouver is the defending champ in the division and they have improved the team. That right there should make them the favorite, but this division is really close. Tucson finished second last season and they aren't worse. They should be in the title hunt for most of the season. St Louis made a huge addition to the offense that needed it. They have one of the best pitching staffs around. They are going to be improved and challenging in this division as well. Los Angeles upgraded all around as well and looks like a team that could contend. They aren't quite there yet, but they aren't far off. This division could very well finish the exact opposite of how I predict. That's how close it is.

1. Vancouver
2. St Louis
3. Tucson
4. Los Angeles

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