Friday, June 28, 2013

Season 24-AL West Preview

St Louis has had a good team for most of the past 7 seasons, but nobody could have seen last season coming. It was only the fifth time that they had won the division and second time making the LCS. As a matter of fact, only one other team in the division has seen one LCS appearance and that was the Salem franchise back in season 1, when they won the World title. Well, St Louis matched that feat and became the second team in the division to make and win a World Series. The 97 regular season wins were especially impressive after only winning 70 the previous season. Vancouver was the returning division champion, but they missed out on the post season. It may have been a disappointing season, but they improved their record by 6 games from the previous season. That marked 5 straight seasons that the team improved in the win column. Los Angeles improved again as they are on the way up as well. They improved by 5 games over the previous season to win the most games that they have won since season 17 when they won 79 games. Salem was the only team in the division to regress as they dropped 13 more games than they did in season 22. This team is in an obvious rebuild as owner jkenned will hopefully add some much needed stability in ownership so that the team can do that successfully.

St Louis Arch Angels
Average.26811Fielding %.98210ERA3.903
Home Runs2355Double Plays32016Opp. Avg..2512
Ops..7817+ Plays3714Strike Outs12891
Runs8169- Plays317Saves571

Season 20 record- 97-65(AL West Champ, AL Champ, World Champ)
Last 5 seasons- 413-397

Up and Coming Star- Calvin Pecina- Pecina is a 23 year old player that will be playing his second full season in the majors this season. He's a DH type player, but his hitting abilities will help him solidify that role in St Louis. He batted a .333 with a .408 obp last season and added 27 homers. Those are numbers that should be expected from him year in and year out if not more.

Staff Ace- Rock Randall- It was a breakout season for Randall in season 23. He had 20 wins and only 7 losses in 33 starts. His 2.91 ERA and .231 Oav were great numbers, but his 210 K's in 210 1/3 IP standout as phenomenal. Not only that, the guy is a 3 time gold glove winning pitcher. Randall is an innings eating power pitcher that should rack up quite a bit of hardware in his career.

Offense-Offensively this team isn't great. They do have power and speed though. They could use some more hitters that can get on base for the power guys to knock home. The top threats in their lineup are Aurelio Canseco, Calvin Pecina, Bryan Holmes, and Lou Jefferies. O.T. Harper is the speed threat and he is a good contact hitter. I think they need more guys that can hit for average as this right now is an average offense.

Defense-This team looks below average defensively. They promoted rookie shortstop Stephen Salmon, and he provides a really good glove at that spot. Lou Jefferies still has the glove for third base, but he lacks arm accuracy and will throw away some balls. Jim Carter is the only option for centerfield and he lacks the ideal range or glove. I can find flaws with almost every spot in the field. As things stand right now this team is hurting defensively.

Pitching-Pitching wins championships and this team proved that last season. They have one of the best rotations in Pine Tar. Randall, Jim Kelly and Sean Shipley could be aces on any team. Vinny Napoli would be a really good #2 on most teams and he's slotted fourth here. The bullpen isn't quite as good, but they only need to be average with the rotation in front of them. This is a great pitching staff.

Projection-Winning the World Series again is obviously the goal and they don't look much different than last season. I think the defense holds them back and the offense is only decent. They do feature the rotation of a championship club and they will lean heavily on them again. This is a team that should win 90+ games, but I'm going to hold off on projecting them to win another World title.

Vancouver Canucks
Average.26414Fielding %.9854ERA3.872
Home Runs2226Double Plays4255Opp. Avg..2451
Ops..7729+ Plays635Strike Outs102810
Runs77512- Plays274Saves474

Season 20 record- 89-73
Last 5 seasons- 359-451

Door Slammer-Phil Linton- Linton is entering his fourth season in the league and he's gotten better in each season up to this point. He has pitched in more than half of his teams games in each season and has been over 100 innings in the past two. Last season his ERA dropped down to a career best 2.96 and he posted a 1.06 WHIP. He has mainly been a setup man, but last season moved into the closer role to save 20 games. No matter if he's used in the 8th or 9th inning, this guy will help shut the door on opponents late game come back attempts.

Dominican Hammer-Vicente Feliz- Feliz signed with Vancouver as an IFA back in season 21 and has quickly ascended to the majors. In his rookie season, he hit 25 doubles, 29 homers and batted a .259 with 75 RBI and 80 runs scored. He has 40 homerun potential and should see his batting average climb. This guys game is built around his great power and solid contact.

Offense-This team is not going to hit for a high average. They have solid hitters, but I think the team average takes a step back from last season. Pedro Gomez is the best player at getting on base, but he's more suited for the 2 hitter role. I think they really lack a leadoff man that will get on base at a high clip. The team does have some pop though. Besides Feliz, they also have Willie Williams, Kenny Fox and Mendy Lee than can hit the ball out. I'm going to have to grade this team below average as things stand.

Defense-The defense in Vancouver is good. McEnerney has an elite glove in centerfield. The addition of David Prieto gives them a really good glove at shortstop. Dante Ueno has real good range for shortstop, but he makes too many errors. He could make for a great second baseman though. The team even has a good pitch calling catcher in Tanner Hatcher and Kenny Fox is pretty good as well. This isn't a great defense, but it is good.

Pitching-Vancouver finished near the top of the league in pitching last season. The rotation is the strength of this team. John Rucker, Brad Porter, Bill Crabtree, Malik Sele, and Felix Mabry make for a really good rotation. The bullpen features Phil Linton, Willie Fuentes and free agent addition Chico Guerrero. This overall is a pretty good pitching staff.

Projection-Last season I predicted that this team would finish just below 90 wins and I was dead on. With the way things stand now, I doubt they'll get to 90 wins again. The thing with this team is that they have a few prospects on the verge of making the majors that could get them over 90 wins. This is a team to watch this season. I think they'll contend for the division title or could possibly steal a wild card spot.

Los Angeles Regulators
Average.2708Fielding %.9854ERA4.406
Home Runs16615Double Plays40612Opp. Avg..2647
Ops..73315+ Plays854Strike Outs10498
Runs72714- Plays295Saves3513

Season 20 record- 72-90
Last 5 seasons- 329-481

ROY watch-Tim Daubach- Daubach was drafted third overall in season 21 and has found himself on the big league roster just 3 seasons later. He has really good control, should shut down both left and right handed hitter and has good velocity. He features 3 really solid pitches and won't give up many homers. He lacks the stamina that a team would like from an ace, but he'll do good enough at getting outs that he could end up close to 200 innings anyway.

Professional hitter-Bret Richardson-Richardson is the definition of a true hitter. He can hit for a .300 average, draw a ton of walks and hit for power. In 3 out of 4 seasons he has hit over 20 homers, batted over .300 and had over a .400 OBP. He had one off season in season 22, but that looks like it was just an off season for him. After 4 seasons he has a career .305 average, .428 OBP and only 237 strikeouts to go with 387 walks.

Offense-Los Angeles has a better offense than what the numbers suggest. They do lack much power, but they can get on base. Richardson, Bo Long, Rickie Lawrence, Jake Ashley, and Bip Rodgers are all good hitters. The promotions of Ernest Bailey, and Lariel Gutierrez will add to the offenses abilities. What this team lacks in power, they more than make up for in speed. This has been the best base stealing team in the league over the past few seasons. The group of Yusmeiro Veras, Rico Mendoza, Del Broome and Edwin Reese will steal a lot of bases. I think this team has the potential to be an above average team offensively.

Defense-Defense is the name of the game in LA. The team will feature an above average to great glove at almost every position this season. The one position that won't is shorstop. Lyle Tipton has good range and a good glove, but his arm strength and accuracy is going to cause some problems at the position. Del Broome though, is a great centerfielder and I'm shocked that he has not won a gold glove at least once. Edwin Reese will make for a great second baseman or left fielder. Veras is a really good third baseman or right fielder. The same could be said for Ernest Bailey. This team should be one of the top defensive teams this season regardless of the shortstop.

Pitching-The addition of Daubach really helps out this pitching staff. They were above average last season and that could put them even higher. The rotation is solid with Daubach, Magglio Figureoa, Chico Pineda, and Alcides Martin. The addition of Alex Guerrero through free agency adds an aging pitcher that could still start, but is best used in relief. The bullpen is pretty good though. Bob Hill, Todd Washington, Nigel Parrish, and Wesley Landrum are a good group to have coming in during the late innings. This is a pretty solid pitching staff overall and should finish even better this season than last.

Projection-Los Angeles is still an improving team and they should take steps forward this season. This team also has a couple players in the minors that could really improve them. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see this team challenge for the division title, but I think that they will finish above .500 for sure.

Salem Volcanoes
Average.26513Fielding %.9854ERA5.3013
Home Runs2612Double Plays4178Opp. Avg..29515
Ops..7778+ Plays548Strike Outs99912
Runs80510- Plays388Saves2915

Season 20 record- 63-99
Last 5 seasons- 373-437

Fire Power- Rafael Vincente- Vincente is a second year player that can crush a ball. He has really good power and can hit righties as well as lefties. In his rookie campaign, he hit 35 homers, drove in 90 runs, scored 94 runs, batted a .295, with a .349 OBP. Very impressive numbers for this slugger. He probably over achieved with the average because he will swing and miss a lot, but I expect the power numbers to be there every season.

Young Hurler- Jose Marquez- Marquez signed as an IFA in season 21 and will make his debut this season. He has great stamina and durability and should eat up a lot of innings this season. His control is a bit of a concern and his velocity doesn't help. He does feature a really good first pitch and two other good pitches to go with it. He should also be tough to hit from both sides of the plate. Things could go either way with Marquez and it will be interesting to see how he pitches this season.

Offense-Salem features a pretty solid offense. They have plenty of guys with plus power. The guys driving this offense are Vincente, Rheal Beck, Pat Rocker, Herm Terrell and Jim Christman. That is a pretty good group in the middle of the order. They do lack a true leadoff hitter that can get on base and set the table for these guys. The addition of a player like that could vault this team from above average to real good.

Defense-This team is below average defensively. Pedro Berroa is a good shortstop, but he doesn't have good range. He has the glove and arm though to go with solid range. The team could use a real centerfielder. Nobody on the team right now has good range or the glove for the spot. They do have a couple options at third with Domingo James or Gio Valdez. Both could play the spot well and they could also make for good right fielders.

Pitching-This team doesn't have very good pitching. Marquez could be good, but the rest of the rotation isn't. Paxton Weiland is solid, but he's not a number 2, and the same could be said of Miguel Lee, and Javy Solano. In the bullpen, Omar Colon, Alfonso Diaz, Felipe Lee, Steve Perez, and Esteban Cantu make for a solid set of arms. They aren't great, but they can get the job done and keep things close. The bullpen is much better than the rotation and the only thing saving this team from rating as a bad pitching staff.

Projection-This is a team that is rebuilding. I think it's a good thing that they can be competitive while doing so and they should be able to compete with what they have. They should be able to finish close to the record that they had last season. This team needs to continue on the rebuild path for a couple of seasons and restock the minors with some good talent that will help them down the road.

This division is getting tougher. The days of them having a team barely break .500 and winning the division are over. There are 3 teams now that will be challenging in this division and pushing each other to the top. St Louis is the returning World Champ, so they by default are the favorite. They will be tough to knock off due to the pitching staff alone, but the weaknesses on this team are enough to let another team slip by them. Vancouver is on the way up and made some improvements in the off season. They have a few players that might be making their ML debuts this season and could really push them into contention. Los Angeles is on the move up as well. They may still be a season away as some of the young players continue to get better, but I think they have enough to make a push this season. They should at least end up battling for a wild card spot. Salem is a team that is rebuilding and will likely not compete in the division. The best plan of action for them is to continue on this path for a few seasons and then start making a move when they have real pieces in place to do so.

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

No comments:

Post a Comment