Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Season 25-AL North Preview

AL North
This division was dominated by Dover last season. The 32 game lead over second place was the largest in all of Pine Tar. It was their third straight 100+ win season and division title. That gives the franchise 12 division titles now. The success ends their though. The franchise didn't even make it to the ALCS and that has to be a huge disappointment for the ownership in Dover. The former Syracuse squad was sold in the off season to new ownership after finishing second in the division and won 71 games for the second straight season. They are now in Milwaukee. The team has been trending down since last making the post season in season 18. They are actually on their 7th owner since season 19. Hopefully some stability can move them forward. New York is a franchise that has been rebuilding for a while now, but they should be ready to start competing soon. Last season they finished third and went back in victories by winning 3 less games than the previous season. Kansas City is another team that is rebuilding and they finished last in the division with the exact same record as they did in season 23.

Dover Dinklebergs
owner- tmfran
Season 25 record- 103-59(AL North Champ)
Last 5 seasons- 497-313

The Dover Dinklebergs had a great year in Season 24. Finishing with 103 wins and winning the AL North title. They came up short in the end by losing to Tampa Bay in the Divisional round of the playoffs. Managment added a couple players to help this team take the next step. Kenneth Cedeno is a good addition. He is a solid defender but makes his money with his offense with a stat line of 21 homers, 118 RBI's and a .293 average. Alcides Martin is also a nice acquisition. Martin is a decent bullpen pitcher but his low control is a cause for concern. Overall this team is all in and ready to win in season 25.

In season 24 down had one of the best offenses in the league with a team batting average of .283, which is third in all of Pine Tar. Armando Mota is a phenomenal hitter with tons of power. His ability to hit for average and also drive in runs is well above average. Veteran John Pong is also a big part of the offense. He has some pop, hitting 26 home runs, driving in 117 and also batting a .323.This team also has great speed with Benito Sanchez, Brent Summers and Jolbert Alomar. I don't expect this offense to slow down in Season 25.

It's hard to tell which Dover is better at, offense or fielding. This team was second in Pine Tar in fielding with a .988 fielding percentage and only 73 errors. One of the big reasons for their success is Jolbert Alomar who won the Gold Glove at Shortstop. Brent Summers also won a Gold Glove in Center for his fifth time. The addition of Kenneth Cedeno will help the fielding be even better. The should finish near the top again.

If Dover has a weakness, it's pitching. As a team they posted a 4.18 ERA which is above average. This pitching staff struggled though in home runs allowed by giving up 222 of them. Only a had full of teams have given up more. Aubrey Simmons is a solid pitcher who put up career numbers in season 24. Simmons went 16-7 but posted a 3.87 ERA. Enrique Santiago is the best pitcher in the rotation with a 19-6 record and a 2.79 ERA. The bullpen is below average with no truly dominate pitchers which could cost them in close games. The pitching staff as a whole is below average.

Milwaukee Millionaires
owner- diabeticrock
Season 25 record- 71-91
Last 5 seasons- 366-444

Under new ownership this season, the Milwaukee franchise has openly stated that they are tearing it down and building from the bottom up. With a high player payroll it appears that they are budgeted to win now, but it appears that management would prefer to move the contracts that they inherited to free up that cash. This has already been a very active team in the off season and up to this point in the season and I wouldn't be surprised to see them making more moves.

Last season this franchise had one of the worst offenses in the AL. They finished with a .259 average, .331 obp, 190 homers and 740 runs scored. They did steal a better than league average 154 bases though. The still have a pretty fast team this season. Leading the offense is Braden Fussell who is coming off of a career year with a .315 average, .395 obp, 34 homers, 122 RBI, 113 runs, and 34 steals. The free agent signing of Jose Borbon adds a guy that can hit for a solid average and get on base with his career .274 average and .345 obp. Overall this isn't a very good offense though. They have some power and a few guys that can hit, but that's it. They are likely to struggle this season.

The defense was also not very good last season. They had a .981 fielding pct, with 63 + plays and 45 - plays. At shortstop is Harold Iannetta and he's one of the best in the league at the position. He's good with the glove and he has a good arm and accuracy. His range is just average though. Braden Fussell is in centerfield and he's below average for the position. He has 60 minus plays in 862 career games there. The defense doesn't look very good overall and will likely finish near the bottom again.

The pitching wasn't bad, but it was below average last season. They finished with a 5.03 ERA and 1.45 WHIP. Leading the rotation is Al Rosario, who was a bargain in free agency this season. He had a bad season last season, but he has a career 89-78 record and 4.08 ERA. Ismael Amaro is a young starter that will continue to get better, but he's not quite good yet. Wesley Landrum is a pretty good reliever for the team and he was another bargain free agent signing. He comes to them with a career 3.69 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. At closer is Vladmir Galarraga and the team also signed him in the off season. In 504 career games he has a 4.54 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. The bullpen may be the strength of this team. The overall pitching staff should at least be average this season.

New York Damage Controllers
owner- skuff730
Season 25 record- 69-93
Last 5 seasons- 317-493

This team has made strides these past couple of seasons toward getting better. The days of rebuilding should be ending soon for them as the team player payroll is in a range that should help them win some games. They stayed fairly quiet in the off season, so I'm expecting that this team feels they have the talent within that deserves the money.

Offensively New York was above average last season. They hit .268 with a .341 obp last season. They had good power with 247 homers and ranked near the top with 890 runs scored. This team is loaded with some good young offense. Gus Justice is coming off a season that he hit .264, with a .349 obp, 38 homers, 115 RBI, 119 runs, and 36 steals. Vinny Hill added a .331 average, .413 obp, 36 homers, 121 RBI, and 100 runs. Then Gregory Singleton chipped in with a .282 average, .351 obp, 23 homers and 86 RBI. The fire power doesn't end there. This team has a really good offense that should finish among the best in the AL.

The fielding was below average last season with a .982 fielding pct, 75 + plays and 28 - plays. At shorstop was Ernie Borders, who has really good range, but his glove is below average. It looks like they've moved him to a position that he can excel at in centerfield.  Fausto Espinoza is a good utility backup but he's very similar to Borders. At shortstop this season is Joaquin Estrada, who has a really good glove and arm, but he lacks the range. Putting him at shortstop should make this team better though. Overall, I like the defense. I don't think they are the best in the league, but they should finish in the top half of the league.

The pitching in New York was pretty bad last season. They finished with a 5.73 ERA and 1.66 WHIP. Leading the rotation is Doug Jodie, and he's not even a good back end of the rotation starter. Up and down this pitching staff they are lacking good control and that is going to kill a team. Even the bullpen looks bad. This could end up as the worst pitching staff in the league this season.

Kansas City Hotsteppers
owners- italianajt
Season 25 record- 63-99
Last 5 seasons- 417-393

This is a team that is clearly rebuilding. When the ownership took over a few seasons ago the team was riddled with tough contracts and now they are starting to rid themselves of those. They have a budget set up to rebuild, but it's not quite there yet. They are a younger team now, but they still have some older players on the roster that won't be much help in the future.

The offense was actually good last season. They had a .283 average, .350 obp, 174 homers, and 786 runs scored. At 35 years old, Peter Cheng still has some hitting left to do. He hit .287 with a .354 obp last season. 34 year old Craig Adkinson proved he can still hit with a .288 average, and .351 obp. Ivan Uribe provided the pop with 25 homers and 74 RBI to go with his .313 average and .377 obp. The offense is still solid in Kansas City, but I don't think they can put up the numbers like last season. This team should finish closer to average if not below.

The fielding was bad last season. They had a .982 fielding pct and 32 + plays with 58 - plays. The shorstop is Eduardo Ortiz and he's a really good fielder. He has good range, glove and a really good arm. He has a promising future ahead at shortstop. Willis Foster is a 2 time gold glove third baseman. Besides those 2 this team doesn't have much else that will be good in the field. This team looks like they'll finish near the bottom.

The pitching staff was one of the worst in Pine Tar last season. They finished with a 6.48 ERA and 1.70 WHIP. Leading the rotation is Miguel James, and he's better suited for the back of the rotation. Ryan Kennedy is solid, but he's another guy more suited for the back of the rotation. The bullpen isn't looking very good. They have Charles Taylor coming out of the pen and he should be solid, but they don't have much else. This pitching staff looks bad again this season, but they shouldn't be as bad as last season.

Dover is the team to beat in this division. They have a really good offense and defense. The teams pitching is a weakness and is likely the only thing holding them back from making a serious run at the AL title. Milwaukee has openly said that they are not happy with the team and want to move any ML player in order to get this team better for the future. That means it's likely going to be a tough season for them. New York has the offense to do some real damage, but the pitching staff is going to hold them back. The pitching needs a complete overhaul in order to make them a contender. Kansas City is clearly rebuilding still and the team will struggle this season again.

1. Dover
2. New York
3. Milwaukee
4. Kansas City

Friday, October 11, 2013

Season 25 Preview- AL East

AL East
For the fifth time in six seasons, Durham won this division title. It was also the fourth time in five seasons that they won 100+ games. They also were the AL champs for the second time in three seasons. Summing it up, they had a really successful season. I'm not sure the team really feels that way though after being swept by Houston in the World Series. Finishing second in the division was Rochester. Last season was the first time they'd made the playoffs since season 11. It was their first winning season since season 20. Rochester made great strides last season and will be looking to take that even farther this season. After winning the division title in season 23, Boston took a big step back by finishing third last season, 14 games under their previous season and missing the playoffs. They are a team built to win now and should be looking for a turn around this season. Indianapolis has been in rebuilding mode for quite a while now and bottomed out with 43 victories last season. That led to a change in ownership and we will see if the new owner can get this team turned around sooner rather than later.

Durham Doormats
owner- alogman1
Season 24 Record- 104-58(AL East Champ; AL Champ)
Last 5 seasons- 520-290

After finishing as the runner up for the World title, I'm actually surprised they didn't make a big signing or trade in the off season to upgrade. They did bring in a gold glove caliber shortstop in Santos Guevara from free agency. That's a move that can only help them. They did lock up a few young key players in Billy Haynes, Orlando Cruz, and Victor Maranon. With those 3 locked up long term, this team has assured continued success.

Durham had the best offense in the AL and really all of Pine Tar last season. They finished with a .299 average, .370 obp, 311 homers and 1055 runs scored. They bring a very potent offense to the ballpark every game. The offense is led by Silver Sluggers, Fred Inge(.324 avg, .389 obp, 31 hr, 105 RBI, 110 runs), Eric Lindsey(.319 avg, .382 obp, 31 hr, 110 RBI, 99 runs), and Julio Navarro(.343 avg, .406 obp, 34 hr, 119 RBI, 144 runs). They are built around power and great hitting. I see nothing that leads me to believe this offense won't finish at the top again this season.

Their fielding isn't very good though. They finished with a .981 fielding pct, 50 + plays and 45 - plays. Guevara gives them an upgrade and shortstop and should really help them become better. Eric Lindsey is the centerfielder, but he lacks good range and his glove is only average. Fred Inge is a solid second baseman, but he's not better than average. The defense should do better this season, but they aren't above average. They should finish closer to average than last season though.

The pitching ranked among the leagues best last season. They had a 3.95 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. They also led the AL with 1148 strike outs. Orlando Cruz is at the top of the rotation and he went 12-3 with a 3.03 ERA and 1.23 WHIP last season, but he's not an innings eater with only 157.1 innings pitched. Roberto Lopez is the same kind of pitcher as he pitched 136 innings with a 2.85 ERA, and 1.23 WHIP. Willie Jacquez led the staff last season with a 17-6 record to go with a 3.24 ERA with a 1.35 WHIP. This is a great rotation that won't rack up a lot of innings, but they pitch very valuable innings. Coming out of the pen is Rudy Jameson who pitched 59 games with a 1.82 ERA and .97 WHIP last season. Ubaldo Bennett gave them a 4.61 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in 107.1 innings. This team has one of the better pitching staffs in the league and should finish near the top again.

Rochester Retards
owner- wylie715
Season 24 Record- 89-73(Wild Card)
Last 5 seasons- 404-406

Rochester took huge steps forward last season by making the playoffs. The next step for them would be to win in the post season now. In the off season they stayed fairly quiet though and didn't make any big moves. They traded for Esteban Mesa to help shore up the bullpen. That was the biggest move they made though. Rochester has a team with some good young talent though and it may have been best that they stayed quiet.

Rochester actually had one of the better offenses in the AL last season. They finished with a .280 average, .354 obp, 216 homers and scored 912 runs. The offense is built around Houston Baptist(.282 avg, .342 obp, 47 hr, 114 RBI, 105 runs), Russell Powell(.348 avg, .440 obp, 19 hr, 109 RBI, 104 runs), and Saul Trevino(.300 avg, .363 obp, 20 hr, 81 RBI, 101 runs, 27 steals). Rochester has a good hitting team with good power and some speed. The biggest problem for them is depth. They have a good lineup but not much behind the starters to replace them when they need rest. That is minor though and overall this team has a good offense.

The Rochester defense was good last season with a .983 fielding pct, 93 + plays and 26 - plays. The gloves could've been better but they showed good range. Especially at the key positions of shortstop, secondbase and centerfield. Trent Canizaro is a really good shorstop. He possesses really good range and arm strength with a decent glove. Dan Johnson has really good range in center with a slightly below average glove. The addition of Kevin Yamamoto gives them a good glove and decent range at second base. This team is good up the middle and the rest falls in line. They have an above average defense.

Rochester was also among the top teams in pitching last season. They had a 4.21 ERA, and 1.38 WHIP. The rotation is led by youngster John McNamara, who went 13-15 with a 4.25 ERA and 1.36 WHIP last season. Patrick Wilson is a solid mid rotation starter and he led the team in wins with a 15-8 record and 4.01 ERA. Louie Dorsey is another solid mid rotation starter and he led the starters in ERA with a 2.86 while going 12-6. They lost Raymond Simmons in the off season and that is going to hurt the rotation, but overall it is an average rotation still. In the bullpen Marvin Bere is the closer and he saved 31 games in 36 tries with a 3.28 ERA and 1.39 WHIP. Rookie Esteban Mesa will upgrade the pen and should be a solid setup man. Besides that the bullpen is below average. This is an average to slightly below average pitching staff. I'd be surprised to see them finish as high this season as they did last season.

Boston Pilgrims
owner- kjmulli
Season 24 Record- 87-75
Last 5 seasons- 443-367

There couldn't have been a more disappointed team at the end of last season than this one. A big drop in wins last season left them out of post season play and this is a good team. They decided to mix some things up in the off season and let a couple key players go while bring in a couple more. I do like the additions of Cam Stubbs and Bernard Charleston and think both of those guys are upgrades for them. This is a team that is all in for winning and they have completely set up their budget for that.

Offensively this team was about average last season. They hit a .268 average, .339 obp, 188 homers and scored 840 runs. They also stole 148 bases while only being caught 58 times. The Pilgrims were led by top hitter Matt Jaha who hit .326 with a .432 obp and 26 homers to go with 11 RBI and 95 runs. Providing the speed with 55 steals was Mateo Nunez who also hit a .266, .325 obp, 19 homers and 134 runs scored. This team does have some good hitting, but the lack of power really hurts this club. Overall they are an average offense though.

The defense was also pretty average last season with a .983 fielding pct, 53 + plays and 25 - plays. It looks like Miguel Garces will be the full time shortstop this season and that's great for this team. He is a gold glove caliber defender with really good range, a great glove and phenomenal arm. Tito Rayburn is a great centerfielder and can play shortstop fairly well. Overall this team has some pretty good gloves all around. They should finish among the best in the league defensively.

The pitching in Boston was pretty good last season. They had a 4.24 ERA and 1.35 WHIP while finishing third in strike outs with 1135. The rotation is led by 3 time Cy Young award winner Diego Valbuena. He's coming off a really bad season for himself with a 14-11 record and 3.85 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. He's much better and should turn it around. Hipolito Owen(13-10, 3.95, 1.31) and Moises Olmedo(12-12, 5.48, 1.45) are also really good starters. The rotation is really good at the top, but not much after those three. The bullpen is better. Hades Phillips is a really good young closer and he saved 25 games in 32 tries with a 1.53 ERA and 1.14 WHIP a season ago. Gary Redding is another young bullpen arm and he's pretty good in the setup role finishing with a 3.42 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in 67 games and 113 innings last season. Nash Casanova pitched 78 games with 146.2 innings, a 3.31 ERA and 1.26 WHIP last season. Boston has a really good bullpen and they are one of the best in all of Pine Tar. This overall is a really good pitching staff.

Indianapolis Valhalla Varauders
owner- qtip32
Season 24 Record- 43-119
Last 5 seasons- 305-505

This is a team that was in bad shape last season. Anything they did in the off season could be considered an upgrade. They did a lot. They made some promotions, waiver claims, free agent signings and made a solid rule V selection in Dwight Schneider. Nothing they did is going to make them a contender, but the moves they made should at least make them respectable, which they were not last season. This is a team that is rebuilding and they will be doing that this season and possibly the next few as well.

This franchise had the worst offense in the league last season. They hit a .249 with a .309 obp, 86 homers, and 535 runs scored. They did steal 147 bases though. Osvaldo Quinones was one of the few players on the team that had a good season 23. He hit .293 with a .370 obp and 31 steals with 86 runs scored. Brian Hume could be considered the team MVP as he hit a .279 with a .363 obp, 25 homers, 107 RBI, 91 runs, and 42 steals. The addition of Heinie Rice adds some all around good hitting to the team as well. This offense is still not good, but they are better than last season.

For as bad as the offense was, the defense was as well. They had a .975 fielding pct, but a respectable 79 + plays to go with a bad 64 - plays. Travis Fiore is the teams best shortstop option, but he doesn't play much. Junior Green is the shorstop and he has really good range and arm strength, but an average glove at best. Clay Aldred is a pretty good secondbaseman. He has good range and a good glove for the position. This defense looks better than last season and should at least be average.

The pitching was bad last season, but they weren't at the bottom of the league. They had a 5.59 ERA and 1.58 WHIP. It's hard to say who really leads this rotation, but Pat Marte but up the best numbers last season. He went 10-14 with a 5.96 ERA. The rotation overall looks really bad and needs some help. In the bullpen Tyler White is a good young closer that saved 20 games in 23 tries with a 4.08 ERA and 1.43 WHIP. J.R. McDonald is a solid setup man and he had a 2.66 ERA and 1.27 WHIp in 36 games and 67.2 innings last season. The bullpen is better than the rotation but it's still not good. This is just not a good pitching staff overall and will likely struggle this season.

Durham is a loaded team and they stand at the top of this division. With the offense and pitching that they have, this team should be making another strong push to return to the World Series. They aren't just the favorite in the division, they are the favorite in the AL. Rochester has a very balanced team. They made huge strides last season, but I wouldn't be surprised to see them back off from that this season. They have to have a lot of things go right in order to repeat last seasons success. Boston has a really good defense and bullpen. They rotation is solid, but the lineup is just average. This is still a good overall team and they should bounce back from last season and battle for a playoff spot again. Indianapolis is a team that is rebuilding, but they should at least move forward over last season. It's kind of hard not to, but they have made changes for the better.

1. Durham
2. Boston
3. Rochester
4. Indianapolis

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Season 25 Preview- AL South

AL South
Back on top of the AL South for a third straight season was Tampa Bay. It was the franchise's 10th division title. They were beat out in the ALCS, but it was the 8th time that the Thunder have made the league championship series. Finishing in second place was San Juan. With 90 victories they won the second most games in franchise history. They are still a team in search of their first division title, but last season they secured a wild card for just the second time. This is a rising time that should be battling for a playoff spot for a while. New Orleans took a small step back last season by winning 3 fewer games than their wild card season in season 23. The 87 victories were not enough to get into the post season, but they will be trying to get back. Nashville has gone into full rebuild mode and seen their win total drop for a sixth consecutive season. After winning this division for 10 straight seasons, they've now finished last in the past 3.

Tampa Bay Thunder
owner- rxw1
Season 25 record- 98-64(AL South Champ)
Last 5 Seasons- 454-356

The Thunder ended last season as the runner up for the AL championship. The next step for this franchise is to win that championship. Complicating that is the fact that they lost some key hitters in the off season. To combat that, the team made a huge free agent signing for relatively cheap in Rico Tatis. It may be the biggest free agent steal I've seen in this league. Another off season move worth noting is that the team locked up Junior Yang to a 5 year extension. They aren't really what I'd call a young team, but they do have some really good young talent. This is a team set up to win now though and they'll be aiming for the league title again.

This team had an above average offense last season. They hit a .273 with a .343 obp and .461 slugging. They also hit 250 homers with 849 runs scored. The team brought in Tatis, a player that hit 55 homers last season and has 40 + the past 4 seasons. The offense will go as he goes. Jim McCormick is a really good hitter coming off a season in which he hit .299, with a .415 obp, 28 homers and 68 RBI for the Thunder. Yang hit .268 with a .323 obp and 35 homers to go with 106 RBI. Another power threat is Robert Wallace, who hit 33 homers last season with 91 RBI. The Thunder should be a really good hitting team this season and have good power. This team should finish among the better teams in the AL this season.

This wasn't a very good team with the glove last season. They had a .982 fielding pct and 58 + plays to 32 - plays. The plus and minus weren't bad, but they made too many errors. The fielding usually goes through the shortstop position and with this team it was no different. Fautino Guerrero is only and average shortstop at best. He has a good arm, but his glove is below average. Bengie Romano plays second and he has really good range for that spot. His glove is solid for the position as well. Yang is a really good thirdbaseman. Elroy Epstein is a decent centerfielder. This team has a solid defense all around, but the glove at shorstop brings them down a bit. This should still be an average defense.

Pitching is a real strength for Tampa Bay. They led the AL in ERA with a 3.93 and WHIP with a 1.33 last season. Claude Collins is the ace of this team and he has all the tools to be that. Last season he went 13-9 with a 3.83 ERA and 1.32 WHIP, which were numbers that are not up to his standards. I'd expect a bounce back this season. Curtis Bannister is a good mid rotation starter and he went 15-10 with a 3.83 ERA and 1.25 WHIP last season. Bo Carter and Oscar Osterbrock round out a really good top of this rotation. The bullpen is among the best in the league. Frank Murphy had 31 saves in 39 tries with a 4.40 ERA and 1.19 WHIP last season. Tony Zapata had a 3.36 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in 70 games. Joaquin Gallardo had a 3.25 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 58 games. The Thunder should have a really good pitching staff again this season.

San Juan Pollos Hermanos
owner- soxfan_9
Season 25 record- 90-72(Wild Card)
Last 5 Seasons- 409-401

San Juan made huge strides last season by making the post season. With a young roster this team should continue to grow and make another run this season. They stayed fairly quiet in the off season. They are seeing their payroll rise as some of these youngsters hit arbitration over the next few seasons and these guys are going to tie up quite a bit of cash due to their talent.

Last season San Juan finished near the top of the AL offensively. They hit .283 with a .350 obp and 262 homers with 966 runs scored. There was only one team better than them offensively. They are returning pretty much the same offense this season. They are led by young phenom Ralph Hatcher who hit a .323 with a .387 obp and 45 homers with 129 RBI. Masao Saitou adds 43 homers, 134 RBI, 109 runs scored, a .273 average and .329 obp to the lineup. John Davidson hit 36 homers with 25 steals last season plus 97 RBI and 116 runs scored. These 3 young players are going to carry this offense for quite a while. They are 3 great players. This offense will once again finish near or at the top of the AL this season.

This team gave up defense for the offense though. They were really bad defensively. They finished with a .978 fielding pct and 14 + plays with 63 - plays. They signed Dante Ueno to play shortstop, which is an upgrade over last season, but his glove isn't very good. Charles Yoshii is the centerfielder, but his glove is below average and he doesn't make up for it with his range. This is an improved defense with Ueno at short, but this is still not a good or even average defense. They'll likely finish near the bottom again this season.

The pitching was below average in San Juan last season. They finished with a 4.90 ERA and 1.50 WHIP. Shane Osik is the ace of the staff. He went 13-5 with a 3.84 ERA and 1.37 WHIP last season. I think he can improve upon those. Gerardo Morales is a solid mid to top of the rotation guy and he went 13-10 with a 4.39 ERA and 1.40 WHIP. I expect Giovanni Magnuson to pitch much better than his 5.26 ERA and 1.67 WHIP from last season that led to his 5-8 record. The rotation is above average. The bullpen is as well, but they have a couple players that I really like. Willie Fisher had 10 saves in 15 tries last season with a 5.27 ERA and 1.39 WHIP, but I think he's much better than that. Mike Franklin also had a bad season and should rebound from his 5.21 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in 73 games. Overall this is an average pitching staff and in a pitchers park that is what puts them below average.

New Orleans Zephyrs
owner- Fantasy Frea
Season 25 record- 87-75
Last 5 Seasons- 418-392

I'm guessing this ownership group wasn't very happy with last season. They may have been the most active team in the off season. They've made some trades, some promotions and free agent signings. The biggest move they made though was re signing Sam Slotnick. The 4 time MVP was actually signed at a bargain price and allowed this team to make other moves. The promotion of Howie Osborne brings them some more fire power on offense. This team is geared up and ready to make a push in the division.

The offense in New Orleans was above average last season, but the team batting average and obp were below average. They hit a .269 with a .338 obp, but the team hit 260 homers and scored 890 runs while even stealing 140 bases. This team is built around MVP Sam Slotnick and he didn't let them down last season. He hit a .293 average, .364 obp, .647 slugging, 60 homers, 143 RBI, 121 runs and even stole 21 bases. The addition of Coco Stratton adds a really good hitter as he brings his career .286 average to the team. The promotion of Osborne just adds even more power to a pretty powerful team. The offense looks like they will be among the best in the league again, but they will probably once again be an average to below average hitting offense.

This is not a team that gives up defense for offense either. They had a really good defense last season. They finished with a .988 fielding pct, 109  + plays and 15 - plays. They signed Yorvit Ortiz in the off season to play shortstop, but he lacks good range or arm strength for the position. Vin Hernandez also plays the position but it looks like they'll use him as a utility guy this season. He has is a better defensive option than Ortiz though. Osbourne has the glove to play centerfield but not the range. He'll fit better as a great left fielder. This defense has good range at other positions and solid gloves. I don't think they are a great defense, but they are a good defense.

The pitching was below average for the Zephyrs in season 24. The finished with a 4.89 ERA and 1.47 WHIP. The rotation is led by Everth Benitez, and he's good but not quite a true ace. He went 17-8 with a 4.57 ERA and 1.41 WHIP last season. I'm really not too thrilled with any of the other starters in this rotation. They are mostly back end of the rotation type pitchers. The bullpen doesn't get better either. This looks like a bad pitching staff.

Nashville Nalas
owner- bnags
Season 25 record- 68-94
Last 5 Seasons- 409-401

This is a team that is rebuilding and in the process of that they are watching the aging stars from the championship teams of past walk away or get traded away. They have set up the budget to completely rebuild this team and should be in line for a good draft pick and possibly a good IFA or two. Match that with some of the prospects they've been able to acquire and this team should be really good again before long.

The offense was slightly above average last season. They finished with a .273 average, .347 obp and 220 homers with 853 runs scored. The loss of Heinie Rice will cause them to take a hit. The best player left on offense is youngster Wolf Dodd and he's a good player to start building around. He hit a .282 average, .339 obp, with 27 homers, 66 RBI and 69 runs last season. Alex Bazardo is another young player that can hit a bit. He hit .270 with a .404 obp and 15 homers last season. This offense is going to struggle this season, but they do have some young players that will help this team moving forward.

The defense wasn't very good last season. They had a .983 fielding pct with 40 + plays and 49 - plays. I doubt it's going to get any better. Neftali Siqueiros is the shortstop and he has good range and a really good arm, but he'll make too many errors. Besides him the team really doesn't have good or average defenders at most positions. This is likely going to be one of the worst defenses in the league this season.

The Nalas pitching was one of the worst in the league last season. They finished with a 6.18 ERA and 1.71 WHIP. Al Galvez is a solid  rookie pitcher, but his lack of control is going to hurt him. Harry Munson can rack up innings for the team, but he's a below average starter. He went 13-16 with a 5.31 ERA and 1.48 WHIP last season. The bullpen doesn't offer much help either. This pitching staff will struggle this season.

Tampa Bay is the reigning division champ and they look poised to make another run. They have a great offense, average defense and good pitching. That should be enough to get them into the post season and they should be able to make a run once there. San Juan is a solid team with a great offense. The offense is a real strength for them, but the defense and pitching bring them down. They should still be able to make a strong push for another post season appearance, but I don't think they have enough to take over the division. New Orleans will have the offense and defense to make a good run this season, but the pitching staff looks like they could hold them back. I think they can make the post season, but I just don't see them taking the division title. Nashville is a team that is rebuilding and won't make much noise at all this season. I expect them to be battling for the #1 pick in next seasons draft.

1. Tampa Bay
2. San Juan
3. New Orleans
4. Nashville

Monday, October 7, 2013

Season 25 Preview- AL West

It was a really close race in the AL West last season. Actually, it was the closest in all of Pine Tar. 3 games separated the top 2 teams and the last place team was only 10 games out. Vancouver won the division for the second time in 3 seasons, but they won 6 less games than the previous season. Of the past 3 seasons they've won 83 games twice and won the division each time. The other season they won 89 games but missed the playoffs. It's been a pretty strange stretch for them. Los Angeles made huge strides last season and finished in second place. It was their highest finish since winning the division back in season 16. They improved by 8 games over season 23 and are on an upward trend. Salem finished in third and they improved by 14 games last season. With an improvement like that, the next step will be getting into the playoffs and ending their 4 season skid without a post season appearance. St Louis had quite possibly the most disappointing season in all of Pine Tar last season. They went from winning the World Series in season 23 to finishing with only 73 wins in season 24. They dropped 24 more games last season than the championship season and it was largely the same team.

Vancouver Canucks
Owner- skplayer07
Season 24 record- 83-79(AL West Champ)
Last 5 seasons- 389-421

In the off season, Vancouver was fairly active. Most of the moves involved re signing their own players though. I do think that the addition of Bryant Clayton through free agency is going to help the team this season. A late season promotion of Otis Evans in season 24 will also help this team out this season. This is a pretty young team and most of the talent is younger, but they do have some pretty good veterans as well. They still have a fairly low payroll and are budgeted so that they can sign a solid IFA if one comes along.

Offensively, Vancouver was above average last season. They hit .277 with a .343 obp, which were both slightly above average. They also hit 242 homers and scored 855 runs. This offense is built around young slugger Rickie Halama who hit 34 homers with 87 RBI while hitting at a .275 clip with a .336 obp. Nolan Bourn was called up after 46 minor league games last season and should have a pretty good season. He hit 32 homers with 86 RBI and .272 average with a .331 obp in just 116 games last season. Vicente Feliz is another young slugger that makes the middle of the lineup for the Canucks dangerous. He hit 30 homers with 95 RBI and .264 average with a .326 obp last season. This team has a lot of power and some good hitting. They may have one of the better offenses in the AL this season.

The defense was pretty good last season. They finished with a .985 fielding pct and 74 + plays and 31 - plays. At shortstop, Nolan Bourn has great range, a great arm and solid glove. Match that with his hitting and he's a great shortstop to have. In centerfield is Daryl McEnerney, who's coming off his worst season with 8 errors, but I'd expect him to turn that around because he has a great glove. This is a solid overall defense with some really good defenders at key positions. That puts them in the upper half of the league.

The pitching was above average last season, but not by much. They had a 4.53 ERA with a 1.43 WHIP. The rotation is led by John Rucker who went 14-6 with a 3.54 ERA last season. At 34 years old he's still a solid ace. Youngster Malik Sele is a pretty good #2. He went 12-10 with a 4.68 ERA last season, but I expect him to get that ERA down this season. Brad Porter is a solid middle rotation pitcher and he went 12-7 with a 4.18 ERA last season. The addition of Bryant Clayton is an upgrade to the middle of this rotation and the promotion of Torey Lira will add a back of the rotation starter that is solid. The bullpen is this teams strength though. A full season for Otis Evans should prove that he's a valuable middle reliever. Chico Guerrero is a reliable reliever that has become this teams closer. He saved 30 games in 39 tries last season with a 4.66 ERA and 1.30 WHIP. Phil Linton is the top reliever and he's a great setup man. He had a 3.59 ERA last season in 43 appearances, but he is better than that. I expect a much better season from him. Vancouver has a pretty good pitching staff this season.

Los Angeles Regulators
Owner- bobswagger91
Season 24 record- 80-82
Last 5 seasons- 344-466

Los Angeles is a young team on the rise. Most of the talent on this squad is 27 years old or younger. They have worked their budget to win now and the goal for them is to over take the division lead. The promotion of Wilt Sizemore is going to help the rotation. I also like the free agent signings of Wilkin Ontiveros and Geronimo Osuna. Both are good relievers that should add some good depth to the pitching staff.

Los Angeles had a slightly below average offense last season. They hit .270 with a .343 obp, .406 slugging, 167 homers, 796 runs while stealing a league high 231 bases. This a team built on contact and speed. The top hitter on this team is Bo Long who hit .316 with a .400 obp last season while hitting 29 homers and drove in 96 runs. Yusmeiro Veras provides a great mix of speed and power as he hit 25 homers and stole 51 bases. He also hit a .283 with a .338 obp and drove in 90 runs while scoring 113 of them.  This team also has a great veteran hitter in Juan Latos who hit a .329 average with a .446 obp last season between Nashville and LA. He also hit 20 homers with 96 RBI and 96 runs. This is a pretty good offense that could use a real slugger in the middle of the order to get more runs home.

Defensively this team was pretty good last season. They had a .985 fielding pct and 72 + plays with 37 - plays. Most of the minus plays came from shortstop and second base though and that hurts. The shortstop is Ernest Bailey and he's below average at the postion. He lacks the range and his glove is only decent. At second base is Bip Rodgers and he's also below average. Del Broome is a really good centerfielder though. Actually, almost every position on the field is held by players that are above average for the position except 2 of the most important. If this team falters this season, then the blame could go to that. Otherwise this is a pretty solid defense.

This team finished season 24 among the better teams in the AL when it came to pitching. They are led by ace and rookie of the year Tim Daubach. He went 14-4 with a 2.56 ERA and 1.11 WHIP last season and should only improve. Last seasons top pitcher on this staff was Magglio Figureoa as he went 19-8 with a 3.89 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. He's another really good top of the rotation pitcher. Rookie Wilt Sizemore will fit in nicely in the middle of this rotation as well. In the bullpen Todd Washington is a really good setup man. He had a 3.83 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 52 games last season. Nigel Parrish should rebound from last season when his ERA was 1.25 higher than his career 3.45. Apollo Fletcher was brought over mid season in season 24 from Nashville and he finished with a 3.64 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 75 games between the 2 teams. He only allowed 8 of 34 inherited runners to score once he came over to LA. This is a pretty good pitching staff overall and should rank among the best in the AL again this season.

Salem Volcanoes
Owner- jkenned
Season 24 record- 77-85
Last 5 seasons- 369-441

This is a really young team here in Salem. They have just 3 players on the roster 30 or older. With a young team is going to come some inconsistency as the team figures out how the players fit. This should be an interesting season for this franchise. In the off season they added a nice hitting catcher in Aurelio Canseco. They also promoted a promising young starter F.P. Huff. In the rule V draft the Volcanoes grabbed Gerald Valentine and Jermaine Getz. Both can fit certain roles and were really nice pickups for this franchise. With a really low payroll and perfect budget for rebuilding, Salem should be able to add a big IFA this season and are positioned in the top half of the draft to get another nice prospect. This team should be able to add some pieces for the future.

Last season Salem ran out a below average offense. They batted a .267 with a .325 obp and .438 slugging. They also hit 226 homers and scored 778 runs. They have a few nice young stars in Rafael Vincente(.268 avg, .325 obp, 36 homers, 101 RBI), Pat Rocker(.264 avg, .331 obp, 29 homers, 85 RBI), and Ben Jacobsen(.273 avg, .327 obp, 31 homers, 81 RBI). They should have some decent power and averge hitting this season, but they are really only an average group.

The defense was pretty average last season. They had a .984 fielding pct with 48 + plays and 34 - plays. Jermaine Getz will add a great glove at shortstop if given the chance to start. Gio Valdez is a good third baseman. Ben Jacobsen is a pretty good secondbaseman. Russ Brown is the starting shortstop right now, but I think he's better suited for centerfield. His glove is just below average. All around though, this team has solid gloves. They should at least be average again this season.

The pitching in Salem was also average last season. They had a 4.71 ERA with a 1.43 WHIP. The rotation is led by second year man Jose Marquez, who went 11-10 with a 4.19 ERA and 1.30 WHIP last season. F.P. Huff should step right in to the #2 spot in the rotation. After those 2 the rotation just isn't very good. The bullpen looks better though. Bob Hill was a solid free agent adition and should help the bullpen out. Omar Colon is a good setup man. He had a 4.74 ERA and 1.42 WHIP in 31 games last season. Alfonso Diaz is the best reliever they have and he had a 3.81 ERA, 1.42 WHIP in 105 games last season. I really like Todd Blair also. He had a 5.02 ERA and 1.45 WHIP last season, but he excelled with runners in scoring position by only allowing 10 of 42 to score. I expect an improvement from him this season. This pitching staff as a whole is slightly below average, but they have potential to be above average due to the bullpen.

St Louis Arch Angels
Owner- Flucie
Season 24 record- 73-89
Last 5 seasons- 402-408

St Louis took a big step backward last season, but I expect them to rebound. They have some really good young talent on the team. In the off season they didn't make any big moves and did promote some players that should help out this season. Signing Rock Randall to an extension was the best move they could've made. Signing Sean Shipley long term as well made for a great off season. This team is budgeted to win now, so they really need to get things going in the right direction this season.

Offense was a real weakness for the Arch Angels last season. They finished near the bottom of the league with a .255 average, .322 obp and .403 slugging. They also hit 191 homers and scored 744 runs. They did steal 150 bases though, but were thrown out a league high 117 times. It's not like they don't have some players that can hit though. Calvin Pecina is a really good one and he hit .306 with a .356 obp while hitting 25 homers and driving in 93 runs. Lou Jefferies is a good hitter as well, but he had an off season hitting .259, with a .324 obp and hit 24 homers while driving 91 runs and scoring 95. He also had 33 steals. I expect Bryan Holmes to hit better than his .236 average and .331 obp. He did hit 26 homers though and drove in 76 runs. This team doesn't really have the best offense though and it's magnified by the park they play in. This is going to be a bottom of the league offense again.

They don't make up for the offense with defense either. This team was a below average defensive team. They had a .984 fielding pct with 41 + plays and 46 - plays. Stephen Salmon will be the shortstop and he should be able to handle it. He has less than ideal range, but a good glove and really good arm. In centerfield is rookie Samuel Johnston. He has good range and a solid glove. Lou Jefferies will play third and he's a pretty solid 3B. The rest of the field could use better gloves, but these guys should help this defense improve. They are at least close to being average now.

The pitching was above average last season. They had a 4.40 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. What this team does have is a great rotation. Led by Randall(9-14, 4.05 ERA and 1.33 WHIP), Sean Shipley(13-9, 3.27, 1.30), Jim Kelly(11-10, 3.42, 1.25), and Vinny Napoli(8-9, 3.61, 1.29). All of them pitched below what they are capable of last season and that could be attributed to the defense. I expect each to rebound this season and form what is one of the best rotations in the AL. Carlos Flores had a terrible season in season 24 with a 6.44 ERA and 1.75 WHIP while saving 36 games out of 45. He is able to do much better, as he has for most of his career. Phillip Crawford should rebound from his 4.58 ERA and 1.67 WHIP. The trend in St Louis last season was that all of their pitchers under performed. The only thing that stands out is the defense had to be the cause. This is a really good pitching staff, pitching in a park that helps them.

This is a tough division to predict. I really believe that this is an up and coming division with some really good teams. Vancouver is the reigning champ and they've only improved. They have a well rounded team and should be tough to knock from the top of the division. At worst they should be a wild card team. Los Angeles is on the rise and should put together a pretty good season. They have a couple weaknesses on defense, but overall this is a good team. They should challenge for the division title and if not then they'll be in the wild card hunt. Salem is a tough team to predict. I don't think they have the talent to hang with these other teams, but they aren't a bad team. They have the ability to finish at or above .500. St Louis has more weaknesses than the other teams in this division, but they have the best pitching in the division. The have a championship rotation and good bullpen. You can never count out good pitching.

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

Friday, October 4, 2013

Season 25 Preview- NL West

Seattle regained control of the West last season after one season of not winning it. It was their 12th division title in the past 16 seasons and gives them 6 of the last 7. The 88 wins was a step back from the 96 from their wild card season in season 23 and it's the second straight season in decline. Colorado Springs ended a 2 season run of making the post season with a disappointing 81 victories. That's after winning 102 the season before and winning this division. Things definitely did not break the Night Watchmen's way last season. Oklahoma City seen their win total decline as well, but only by 2 games as they dropped to 79 victories. It's much better than they were a few seasons ago, but this team just hasn't seemed to get over the hump. It's been a long time since they last made the post season way back in season 10 and that has to be the goal in these next couple of seasons. The Komodo Dragons also had a decline in wins as they dropped back 1 game from the previous season. It's nothing to be alarmed about as this team is in a rebuild. They should be making their way up the division ladder soon enough.

Seattle Strikers
Owner- ghutton9
Season 24 Record- 88-74(NL West Champ)
Last 5 seasons- 477-333

Believe it or not, this team is about to be headed into a rebuild. It is an aging team, but they have the players they plan on building around locked up. Most of the older players are signed short term and will be gone soon and should allow Seattle to kick start the rebuilding process.

Offensively this team was solid last season. They hit .261 with a .333 obp which were both above average. They hit 154 homers and scored 702 runs which were both below average. This team did excel on the bases though and stole 194 of them to pace the NL. They are built around players like Jo-jo Frandsen who hit 29 homers and drove 105 runs while scoring 96 to go with 37 steals and a .301 average and .382 obp. Benny Navaro is a 6 time silver slugger second baseman and he hit .276 with a .363 obp with 41 steals, 43 homers and 96 RBIand 141 runs. Outside of those 2, most of the players are just role players in this offense. They have plenty of speed on the team and some good contact, but the team lacks power. This is an average offense if not slightly below average.

The defense was above average last season. They finished with a .986 fielding pct and 55 + plays to go with 29 - plays. Good numbers, but not great. At this point it looks like the teams best option at shortstop is Erubiel Baez, but he's not a very good option. Benny Navarro is a really good glove at second base, but he lacks good range. J.J. Decker has good range for centerfield and he has a solid glove. If this team can't find a better shortstop then they are not going to be a very good defense this season.

The pitching was pretty good for the Strikers last season, but that's come to be expected in Seattle. They finished with a 3.65 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and .380 opponent slugging. The rotation is led by the old veteran Cyrus Torres. He proved last season that he still has some left in the tank by going 19-7 with a 2.58 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. Darren Banks is a solid number 2 and he went 15-10 with a 3.50 ERA and 1.12 WHIP last season. Willie Cairo will be hard pressed to follow up last seasons 16-4 record and 2.46 ERA with his 1.11 WHIP, but he's a solid mid rotation starter.George Eaton is still one of the better closers in the league and he saved 46 of 49 games last season with a 1.90 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. This is a solid pitching staff and still the strength of this franchise. They should be among the better staffs in the NL.

Colorado Springs Night Watchmen
Owner- toe64
Season 24 Record- 81-81
Last 5 Seasons- 408-402

After taking a step back last season, this team can't be happy. They didn't make any big free agent signings though. I do like the addition of gold glove shortstop Victor Ramsay. They also promoted an offensive threat at catcher in Sean Spence who's got really good power and has actually hit 43 homers in the majors back in season 21 before losing favor with the club and spending the past 2 seasons in the minors.

Offensively this team was above average last season. They hit .260 with a .333 obp and .428 slugging. They also hit 218 homers and scored 729 runs. The offense is going to be centered around reigning rookie of the year Keith Williamson who hit .280 with a .328 obp and 42 homers with 110 RBI and 93 runs last season. Juan Perez is the best all around hitter on the team as he hit .318 last season with a .406 obp. Pedro Reyes is another big bat in the lineup as he hit .277 with a .358 obp and 33 homers with 114 RBI and 89 runs. They are an offense built on good hitting and power. Colorado Springs should have one of the better offenses in the NL this season.

With a .981 fielding pct and 24 + plays with 39 - plays, this team suffered defensively last season. That may have been what brought them down. The addition of Ramsay gives them much needed help at shortstop. They could still use help in centerfield and the lack of range on this team will hurt. This is a better defense this season, but they are still below average.

Even with the fielding woes, this pitching staff finished in the upper half of the league with a 3.82 ERA and 1.32 WHIP and .394 slugging. At the top of the rotation is Orlando Nieves who went 10-13 with a 3.43 ERA and 1.25 WHIP last season. He's a solid top of the rotation starter but he's not an ideal ace. Caleb Einertson is a solid mid rotation starter and he went 13-9 with a 4.03 ERA and 1.28 WHIP last season. Each starter in this rotation is solid, but none are spectacular. The bullpen is the strength of this team. Dock King is still a really good pitcher and fits in the bullpen nicely. He pitched 41 games after being traded last season and had a 2.18 ERA with a 1.12 WHIP. Alberto Blasco can pitch and he saved 25 games in 26 tries last season with a 4.24 ERA. He also only allowed 3 of 20 inherited runners to score. This team has a really good bullpen and average starting pitching. That makes them an above average pitching team.

Oklahoma City Prairie Dogs
Owner- brentcnb
Season 24 Record- 79-83
Last 5 Seasons- 354-456

I would not say that this team is in rebuild mode because they've made some strides the past couple of seasons, but they are still building the team up. Unfortunately for them, they've lost more talent the past couple of seasons than they've brought in. They still have a young team though and they do have talent. This team is in need of something to get them to that next level.

Offensively this team ranked near the bottom of the league last season. They hit a .245, with a .318 obp and .379 slugging. They also hit 157 homers and scored 652 runs. They were fast though as they stole 130 bases. Carlos Zorrilla is the star of the offense as he hit .289 with a .386 obp and 30 homers to go with 91 RBI and 86 runs. Phil Gonzales had a nice season with a .263 average and .337 obp with 25 homers and 77 RBI. John Saitou and Christian Lee are a couple of nice hitters that will help the offense, but the team doesn't have much else after them. This offense has a little power, a few good hitters and some speed, but they lack a real threat and depth. This offense will likely finish in the bottom half of the league again this season.

Defensively the Prairie Dogs were pretty average last season. With a .983 fielding pct, 63 + plays and 37 - plays, they showed range, but were below average with the gloves. Cecil Pratt is an average shortstop that can handle the bat and that makes him valuable. John Saitou is a solid thirdbaseman. Carlos Zorrilla won't make many errors in centerfield, but he lacks the range for the position. I don't think this is a bad defense and should improve over last seasons numbers. This is an above average group.

The pitching staff finished in the upper half of the league last season. They had a 3.88 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and opponent .391 slugging. They also had 65 saves, which ranked second in the league. Miguel Rivera led the rotation, but he only started 20 games out of 45 appearances with an 8-6 record and 2.64 ERA to go with an outstanding 1.04 WHIP. This team uses it's starters differently from most teams though as Yovani Costilla led the team in innings pitched with just 177.2. In the bullpen, Brent Beam was among the best closers in the league last season as he saved 45 games, but that was in 54 tries. Juan Ramirez was really good out of the pen with 66.2 innings pitched and a 2.84 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. This is a really average pitching staff, if not below average, but the way they use their pitchers is obviously beneficial to the team.

Albuquerque Komodo Dragons
Owner- csudak
Season 24 Record- 68-94
Last 5 Seasons- 335-475

The Komodo Dragons didn't really improve last season, but they are a team that appears to be getting better. It's been 8 seasons since they made the playoffs and with 4 of the past 5 seasons finishing last in the division it may be time for them to start moving up. They didn't add anything in free agency, but they did promote Vicente Palmeiro, who should be able to add some pop to the lineup. They may have found a nice rule V draftee in Fausto Galarraga, who isn't going to be a star, but he is a contact hitter with a good eye. They also locked up young slugger Bert Heiserman long term.

Offensively this was one of the best teams in the NL last season. They hit .264 with a .322 obp and .407 slugging while hitting 180 homers, scoring 773 runs and stealing 145 bases. This is a well balanced team that can put up some runs on opponents. Pacing the offense is Nick Cooper who hit .305 with a .354 obp while hitting 19 homers, scoring 98 runs and stealing 27 bases. Bert Heiserman provides the power with 38 homers and 104 RBI while hitting .265 with a .326 obp and .520 slugging. Sam Sanders also had a big season with a .273 average, .319 obp, 32 homers, 103 RBI, and 99 runs. This is a solid offense that when put in a hitters park becomes really good.

The fielding in Albuquerque last season was average to slightly above. They had a .984 fielding pct, but 74 + plays to go with 31 - plays were a good mix. With 17 of those + plays coming from first base it is a deceiving stat though. The team lacks a true shortstop, but gold glove rightfielder Kennie McCracken could play there if it wasn't for throwing accuracy issues. Nobody else has the range or glove that is ideal for the position though. Bronson Baptist played a lot in centerfield last season and he surely has the range for it, but his glove could be better. The depth and gloves at all other positions are really good and keep this from being a bad defensive team. With a true shortstop they could be among the leagues best, but for now they'll have to settle with being average.

Pitching was a weakness for this team. They finished at the bottom in ERA with a 4.94, and near the bottom in WHIP with a 1.47. Edgar Santana is a solid starter, but he's not an ace. He went 14-12 with a 4.27 ERA last season. Michael Quinones is a solid back of the rotation starter, but he'll be asked to be a front end guy. He went 10-16 with a 4.03 ERA last season. In the bullpen, Tommy Callaway got it done last season with 65 appearances and a 3.86 ERA. He only allowed 6 of 29 inherited runners to score as well. The pitching staff really isn't that good though. In this ballpark it's going to be tough to move up the ranks without a very good rotation and shutdown bullpen.

Seattle has been the top team in this division for quite some time now. It's hard to pick against them for this reason alone. With an average offense and below average defense they could be in trouble though. The pitching staff is still really good though. While I can't see them challenging for the NL title, I could see them in the post season again. Colorado Springs had an off year last season. I can't see them finishing with that few wins again. They have a really good offense, and good overall pitching. The defense needs work, but they have enough strengths that they should finish in 90 win territory. They should be challenging for the division title and if not then at least a wild card. Oklahoma City still has some building to do. The offense needs help, the defense is good and the pitching isn't good. I think they are still close to an average team and will struggle to get into the post season. Albuquerque isn't quite there yet, but they have a good offense that fits the park well. They also have good defense, but the pitching staff is one of the worst in the league. When they get the pitching straightened out, then they'll be a tough team. Right now they aren't though.

1. Colorado Springs
2. Seattle
3. Albuquerque
4. Oklahoma City

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Season 25 Preview-NL South

NL South
Home of the reigning Pine Tar world champion Houston Roughnecks. This has been one of the toughest divisions in Pine Tar for quite a while now, and last season gave them 3 World Titles in the past 7 seasons and 4 World Series appearances from the South. Houston won the NL title for a second straight season, but this time they took home the World Championship with a sweep of Durham. With an average of 100 victories and 3 division titles over the past 3 seasons, they are going to be tough to knock from the top of this division. Louisville tied for second in the division, but the tie breaker gave them the #1 wild card spot. It gave them their 4th post season berth in the past 6 seasons and the 6th in franchise history. They are still looking for their second division title and first since season 1. Texas took some steps forward last season and took home the second wild card spot. It ended a 4 season run without a post season berth. Now they will try to end an 11 season run without winning the division title. Jacksonville finished last in the division with a .500 record. That's rough. It was the second time in 3 seasons that they missed the playoffs. This teams days of sitting atop the division appear to be over for now, but they proved that they are still a team to deal with.

Houston Roughnecks
owner- bagwellbuff
Season 24 record- 99-63(World Champ, NL South Champ)
Last 5 seasons- 473-337

Last season was huge for this franchise. It was their 5th World Series appearance and their 2nd title. With 99 wins this team paced the NL. Luckily for the fans in Houston, this ownership group isn't going to be satisfied with just one championship. They are shooting for a dynasty and have budgeted for it. That allowed them to make some signings to further improve the team with Raymond Simmons, and Rube Clark.

Offensively, Houston led the NL in runs scored with 198, was second in homers with 253, was above league average in steals with 122 and second in slugging with .442. That's all while hitting a .255 and having a .318 obp which were below the league average. They look pretty much the same this season. Ruben Pelaez is the top hitter on the team(.297 average, .379obp, 35 hr, 98 rbi). They re signed Barney Taft and brought back his .285 average, .365 obp and 28 homers. Carl Esposito is the man this offense revolves around(.274 average, .370 obp, 41 homers, 111 rbi, and 110 runs). The Roughnecks should once again have a top offense.

The Houston defense was stellar in season 24. They posted a .989 fielding pct, and 123 + plays to go with 12 - plays. They are led by gold glove shorstop Yusmeiro Julio and his 30 + plays. Paleaez is his double play partner at second and he's another great glove. At thirdbase is another gold glove in Julian Prieto. And in centerfield they feature another gold glover with Ugueth Gonzales. I'm going to call it like I see it and say that this team has a great defense. Likely the best in Pine Tar.

The pitching was also pretty good last season and now the additions of Simmons and Clark will add to that. With a team ERA of 3.73 and 1.28 WHIP, this franchise was above average. Alex Martis is a pretty good starter with his 13-6 record and 3.74 ERA, but his 168.2 innings aren't what you'd want from an ace. Diego Benitez went 13-4 with a 2.11 ERA, but he only posted 132.1 innings. The 2 new additions should help with that and really this team is deep enough to roll out a 6 man rotation and not be hurt by it. The feature bullpen arm is reigning Cy Young Juan Sierra who had 52 saves in 54 tries and posted a 1.40 ERA and .95 WHIP. Overall, this is a pretty strong pitching staff and could be among the top 5 in all of Pine Tar.

Louisville ARF ARF ARF ARF's
owner- Arfy
Season 24 record- 89-73
Last 5 seasons- 450-360

After ending their one season absence from the playoffs, the Arf's got back in with the #1 wild card last season. It has been a long time since they've won the division, but this team is surely in the upper class of the NL which has led to 4 post season appearances over the past 6 seasons. Unfortunately for them, they've been playing second fiddle to the division winner too often. Ownership has stated that they missed out on free agency but they've scrambled to make a few nice additions in Frank Buss, Allen Gruber, David Lind, and Enrique Morales. None are impact players, but each can help the team. With a budget set up to sign an impact player that they never got, this team has money to throw around if they need to add a piece or 2 during the season.

In season 24 the ARF's hit .262, with a .330 obp and a .385 slg. While they hit good, they didn't provide much power which led to them finish in the bottom half of the league in runs scored with 681. Gruber and Lind should help fix that problem. Adding them to Vic Rijo(.333 average, .402 obp, 35 homers, 101 RBI) and Jared Glynn(.268 average, .349 obp, 28 homers, 107 RBI) should add some extra run production. Omar Carrasco is the young star of the offense as he hit 34 homers, drove in 95 runs, stole 21 bases, while hitting a .290 with a .366 obp. This team has a good offense and I'd think they have to improve over last season. This is at the least a top 8 NL offense.

The defense was pretty solid last season as they finished with a .986 fielding pct and 69 + plays an 18 - plays. Those are above average numbers. They did lose their shortstop in the off season, but they have Alex Lyons, who should provide gold glove defense, but he doesn't hit very well. Victor Osoria is a slightly better hitter with a pretty good glove. Bernie Wolf is likely the best option at short, but his glove isn't as good as those two. That's not to say he can't play the position though. The team has quite a few good gloves around the diamond and should be as good as last season.

Their pitching was up among the best in the league last season. They finished with a 3.50 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and .378 opponent slugging. Each were pretty great numbers. The rotation is led by young star Geronimo Estrada, with his 14-7 record and 2.02 ERA and .99 WHIP in 240.1 innings. Those are Cy Young type numbers. Clay Vernon is a good top to mid rotation starter that's coming off of a season that seen him go 13-9 with a 3.86 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. Ariel Mateo and Al Manto round out a pretty good rotation in Louisville. The bullpen was led by Ed Rhodes and his 85 games pitched, 21 saves, 2.92 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. J.J. Brinkley is another good arm for them in the pen and he pitched 51 games with a 2.38 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. This overall is a really good pitching staff and should finish near the top of the league again this season.

Texas GalvestonWave
owner- erichanville
Season 24 record- 89-73
Last 5 seasons- 418-391

It's truly amazing that this team made the playoffs last season. They went through an ownership change midway through the season and are now on their 4th owner in 4 seasons. Even through that, they've seen their win total increase in each of the past 3 seasons. That trend will be tough to continue, but the new owner has budgeted well to try. The biggest thing they did in the off season was signing extensions with P.T. Rosa and Felipe Ramos. Both are key pieces to the teams success. The also brought in Rheal Beck, Jesus Amezaga, and Felipe Lee through free agency. It sure looks like they are loading up for another post season run.

This team had a very average offense last season. They batted .255, with a .326 obp, .403 slg and 195 homers while scoring 677 runs. The only number far from league average was the runs scored, which were 29 runs below average. The loss of Rico Tatis does not help these numbers. They still have Alexander Williamson(.288 average, .358 obp, 36 homers, 77 RBI and 109 runs), and Alan Wilson(.287 average, .380 obp, 26 homers, 82 RBI, and 81 runs) to drive this offense though. The addition of Beck will at least ease the loss of Tatis a little. The offense isn't very deep though and they won't hit for a high average as a team. They do have some good power and guys that will draw some walks. Right now this team appears to be a little below average though.

The defense for this team was pretty good last season. They had a .986 fielding pct to go with 66 + plays and 19 - plays. They did lack a good shortstop though, which makes those numbers very surprising. Alejandro Flores could handle the full time job if asked, but he isn't much of a hitter. George Hocking is the returning shortstop and he won't hurt the team in the field, but he's not the ideal fielder though he is a better hitter than Flores. Birdie McNamara could play a really good centerfield for this team. Eddie Burns played a great centerfield last season though, but he could play shortstop or second base. Overall this team does have the gloves to be among the better defensive teams in the league, but the drop off on offense may be too much for them.

The pitching was right near the top of the NL last season. They had a 3.63 ERA, .380 opponent slugging and 1.26 WHIP. While the rotation isn't great, they do have a good group of pitchers. Charles Hayashi is a solid ace and he went 14-3 with a 2.41 ERA last season. Karim Ontiveros (12-11, 3.44) makes for a really good number 2. Felipe Ramos went 9-7 with a 3.30 ERA last season. Harry Guerrero and Billy Lloyd are really nice back of the rotation starters. The addition of Amezaga brings in a really good bullpen arm with his 286 career saves and 3.24 ERA. I expect Esteban Avila to bounce back from his disappointing last season. All around this is a pretty good pitching staff that should finish near the top of the league again.

Jackson Juggernauts
owner- bobbyj7
Season 24 record- 81-81
Last 5 seasons- 448-362

The days of this team ruling the division appear to be over, but that doesn't mean that this team should be taken lightly. They still finished at .500 last season and are only 1 season removed from a post season berth. They appear to be lowering payroll while raising the scouting budgets which usually means rebuild time. They did however add 2 solid free agents this off season in Phil North and Miguel Mesa.

The Juggernauts offense was below average last season as they hit .252, with a .314 obp and .386 slg to go with 172 homers and 672 runs. Second year man Vic Romero may be the most lethal hitter the team has as he hit 16 homers and batted a .278 in only 255 at bats last season. Scott Harvey at age 32 is still a pretty good hitter as well as he hit 30 homers and a .271 average last season. The additions of Mesa and North will help them out as well. This team has some solid hitting and decent power to go with it. I could see them moving up offensively this season, but they don't rank among the best in the league.

Defensively this team was above average last season with a .985 fielding pct and 75 + plays to go with 26 - plays. They are led by one time gold glove shortstop Adam McCorley, who has the abilities to win another gold glove with great range and arm strength. Scott Harvey is a really good centerfielder with good range and glove as he's pulled in 3 gold gloves out there. They are solid at other positions, but this team will take a step back defensive after the loss of Alex Colome in the off season.

The pitching was below average last season. They had a 4.06 ERA with a 1.32 WHIP. The loss of ace Rube Clark is going to hurt this team. Dusty Lindsey still makes for a good ace though and he went 13-8 with a 3.39 ERA and 1.24 WHIP last season. Bobby Ray Ingram is still a good top of the rotation starter after going 14-12 with a 3.81 ERA last season. After those 2 the team has a bunch of average to below average pitchers. Nobody in the bullpen really stands out to me. This pitching staff appears that it will sink lower this season even with the 2 aces at the top of the rotation.

This is an extremely tough division. All 4 teams are usually really competitive and they've turned this into the best division in Pine Tar. At the top is Houston and they seem to have a stranglehold on the rest of the teams. They are the reigning world champs and the off season seen them improve. I think that makes them the favorite to win this division, if not another World title. Louisville just can't seem to get over the hump and take this division. They have a well rounded team that could put them right next to Houston atop the NL. They should at least make it interesting in this division. Texas has the pitching and defense to succeed and in any other division would look pretty good to win it. Not around here though. The offense just isn't up to par with the top teams and will likely hold them back from contending for the division title. I wouldn't be surprised to see them take a wild card spot though. Jackson has good hitting and good defense, but the overall pitching staff is going to be too tough to over come. It may be time that they go into full rebuild mode and start looking to the future.

1. Houston
2. Louisville
3. Texas
4. Jackson