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

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