Friday, August 6, 2010

NL WEST/ AL SOUTH Season Previews


Colorado Mile High Club 25/25 88.3/89M

Offense: Bringing back the same team from last season minus Robert Schultz. The team is all ready very stacked as a result of many bad seasons' waiting for draft picks to develop in the minors. Rookie Harry Roja is the next in line of those super prospects to get a shot at ML glory. He will assume Schultz place in the order and should be able to provide a very fit bat. The only position not contributing on the Offense might be the very defensive orientated SS tandem Juan Cortes and Malcolm Hutton.
Defense: Overall the defense is below average at Short they have a good handle of the field and should cover a lot of ground, but the rest of the infield will miss balls and make mistakes. Most are get young and will grow out of this as they develop so this should not be a long range issue.
4 solid starters led by the still developing Steve O'Malley. The starters will not be asked a lot with this offense and just need to keep the team in the game. This staff can definitely do that. There are some deep cracks in middle relief and late inning closing. Edwin and Matthews both have got the job done, but in many cases it has not been pretty.
Prediction 100-62- they should be able to hit their way through the competition.

Salem Slammers 25/25 77.2/80M
Offense: Had to resign Roosevelt Williams to keep some pop in the lineup. Salem is a team who gets a lot of production out of the outfield LF Ibarra's had a career year hitting over .300 with 100+ rbi throw in production at the top of the order from CF John Young and you have a solid 1-2 combo for the team. Production from the 2B and 3B positions has been limited thus far. The Slammers have to be hoping 2B Carson Sauer can hit big league pitching. He struggled to find his swing in S16 batting a lowly .217 in almost 500 abs. I cannot imagine Salem will be so generous this season.
Defense- The defensive unit is solid through and through Williams, Young and Sauer make up a league leading effort in their areas. This unit should be a pitchers dream to have lined up behind them.
Pitching: 4 of the 5 rotation spots are set for the upcoming season, Mateo should continue is dominance of NL hitting. Last season he was 17-6 with 3.09 ERA a career year for him. FA Charles Johnson comes over after a few disappointing seasons in Texas to show what he can do in a more pitcher friendly park. Also secured in the rotation is Ivan Brock who performed well in his rookie campaign and should secure the #3 spot in the rotation without issue. The last 2 spots will be a dog fight between S16 Starters PT Schoeneweis (10-7 4.26), Lou Lamb (coming off a season ending elbow injury), and Amos Casey (9-8 4.31). This competition will be great for the team. The pen adds elite closer Albert Rincon to close games. This was an issue in S16 with Otis Trammell struggling in key games. Trammell will join a strong crew of setup guys including former closer Felipe Liriano. The unit will struggle at times in the middle of long stretches where the pen might get overworked.
Prediction: 90-72 Might not have added anything on the Offense end which will put them behind a little from last season.

Colorado Springs Organization Fillers 20/25 72.5/83M
Offense: with 5 major lineup spots up for grabs it hard to predict what the offense will do. Pedro Cela, Glenn Gibson, Tony Bravo, and Jesse Walton. They could look to the minors to fill the ranks they have a good amount of Ml ready prospects who could contributed from the start in 2B Lewis Tucker, SS Albert Martin, and LF Manuel Gonzalez. Both Tucker and Gonzalez should be able to step in and replace Chantres and Dodd's production for a ton cheaper.
Defense: CSP has a solid defensive core, but without a determined lineup it might be hard to project how they actually perform. I would assume with the projected promotions the team will be fine in the field.
Pitching: 2 solid aces in Ismael Perez and Pokey West. West might be better in long relief with his reduced stamina, but why knock him from the rotation when he is eating up the league. Victor Lopez and Tyler Throneberry both will get plenty of chances to show they can pitch, scouts project them both to be ML caliber, but both might be flawed still this season. Losing Barajas puts a hole in the bullpen, but Eduardo Campos and Billy Ray Potvin are both very solid arms to bring in late in games. Add in Joe Wall and the pen is pretty strong getting to closer Santos Cedeno. Cedeno has struggled in his role as closer so he might be on the hot seat this season and find more comfort in the Setup role.
Prediction: 84-78 getting younger, but they will take their knocks this year adjusting. Pitching might hold them back from getting into the playoffs.

Cheyenne Marmots 25/25 59.3/71M
Offense Promoted 2 rookies to everyday action. The first 2B Travis Stokes who should hold his own at 2B this season and projects to provide solid power and offense. . The Latter Miguel Cairo spent the better part of 3 seasons' in AAA; He will struggle to break the lineup consistently. Chris Durbin has slowed down a bit, but a guy this was a guy who usually stole 100 bases and still steals 90, not a huge downgrade. Durbin is still the best leadoff man in Ryan history and should go to the HOF with that title.
Defense: A lot has been sacrificed in the name of offense, but the team does has a few specialists that they can bring in late in games to play the tough "D", other than that they are deficient at CF and 3B.
Pitching: Feliz and Soto are mainstays in the Marmot rotation and should bounce back from down seasons, the rest of the rotation is a step below led by David Estrada, who struggled last season, Jimmie Sullivan who still learning the art of pitching and a slew of rookie prospect vying for the 5th slot. Closer has to be a huge concern going into spring training; Babe Allen struggled in will 3rd season converting 27/41 save opportunities. Rookie RP Howard Leon came up from the farm last season and showed promise and could steal that role away from Allen.
Prediction 74-88- Didn't do much to change the dynamics of the team


Houston Stone Cold Killers 25/25 57.2/71M
Offense: Rookies galore have found featured roles in Houston's offense. Houston will be leaning on Rookie Catchers, Peralta and Riley, 3B Mulder and RF Neil Robinson. All could have used more time in the minors, but will see heavy Ml action this season. Time to learn under fire. Houston last season went 67-96; largely because of a lack of a consistent offense. The offense should be better with the additions of Marquis Ashley and Hunter Wilkerson and the rookie barrage. They should show improvement throughout the season, but they could be frustrating to the fans as they learn the game.
Defense: Houston has done a great job of putting the rookies in roles where they can succeed, Neil Robinson projects to be one of the best Cf'er in the game yet he will start his career learning in RF. As the rookies develop they will be able to move to their natural positions. 3 seasons done the road this might be a great defensive team. Hell they might be the best offensive team.
Pitching: New arms Shelby and Beltre will be welcome additions to a staff which struggled to find consistency in S16. Both are far from elite starters, but are manageable and should be big upgrades over Paul Black. Justin Harding was also brought in, but he has spent his career struggling in Florida, he should be better than his past indicates, but he still will struggle. Gary Whiteside also signed and should bring in an established veteran presence who can still pitch well enough. The revamped staff should give the Stone Cold Killers a chance early in the games. The Pen is missing key arms Orlando Frias and Marty Newhouser, both contributed and held strong in their roles as closer and long reliever. Both will be missed as there is not much left to replace them. Waiver Wire Acquisition Yoon struggled in his time in Milwaukee could step in and assume a huge role in Houston. O'Shea and Rose will become primary setup guys with Karim Espinosa assuming closer duties.
Prediction 79-83 improvement, but still 1 more season away from topping .500

Louisville Loudmouths 25/25 93.6/95M
Offense: Paid huge dollars to land Kurt Morgan. K-MO (all 20M guys need hip nicknames) steps into an offense that has far from struggled to get hits, the team already featured a young talent lineup of power hitters. 3B Roger Post, LF Louie Rosario, and 2B Ivan Spehr already provided solid offense, but they seem to have trouble getting the clutch hits. Morgan also has struggled to make the best out of opportunities in his career. This season might be a change for all parties as there will be a lot more opportunity to knock in the runs will the hitters featured.
Defense: Middle of the road defenders K-MO was not signed for his glove, but should be average I the field at SS. Outside of Sean Swan in CF there really isn't a great defender in the field. They hope the extra O will help eliminate the problems from the lack of D.
Pitching: Sp Neifi Lopez has worked his way into being the staff ace, the rest of the rotation is solid, but are done no service by the lack of a true pitching friendly catcher, they might slip slightly from their potential as a result, but should perform similarly to what they did in S16. The Bullpen returns with Jim Small leading the setup crew and Closer Arthur Wayne returning to cash in another 40 saves for his sophomore effort.
Prediction: 92-70- Adding K-MO should be worth a few games.

TEXAS Tornadoes 25/25 78.3/80M
Offense: Added a big bat and solid lead off guy in Vincent Arias Added a big bat and solid lead off guy in Vincent Arias, Arias joins a fairly top line group of hitters with 3b/CF Aurelio Espada crushing the ball at cleanup and #5 hitter Ralph lee providing supplemental offense. Rookies Gerald Wang and Desi Rivera will get a shot to play regularly. Wang should be an exceptional defender and a solid offensive contributor to the lineup.
Defense: There is currently a backlog of 3B on this team. They will need to play this out to see who the starter becomes, but defensively they could move Espada to Cf and Crespo to 2B and improve the defense for the season. One of the best catching tandems in the league.
Pitching: The #1 and 2 slots are set with the combo of Gomez and Young, but the rest of the rotation is still a bit wet. Texas will be using spring training to find the best of the rest. They have a number of qualified candidates on the 25 man roster, but getting the best out of them will be the challenge. It seems Ronnie Leach could be the next most valuable pitcher, but his durability might make him a better long reliever or even super setup man. The Pen comes back intact from s16. Closer Benito Cortez is among the best young closers in the game, the setup pairing of Tomas Jacquez and Andres Coronado should add a strong 8th inning. The middle relief will be sorted about with the starters.
Prediction 94-68- team is a good mix of old and young and should be able to build on last season's success.

Mexico City MILF Mongers 25/25 65.9/75M
Offense: reloaded the offense and dropped a lot of dead weight, but they did not add a whole bunch of offense in the reloading process. The team did lock up RF Javier Duran for the next 3 seasons. Coming off his 1st full season of action he was spectacular at times. He will need to be even better if he is going to lead this offense. The MILF's are loaded with quick light hitting bats who struggle at the plate. Mexico City needs at least one more bat to make Duran's bat more threatening. There are holes up and down the lineup but they could use upgrades at 3B where they currently start a Rule 5 pick, David Nunez.
Defense: The concentration outside of speed in Mexico has been on the defense. The MILFS added defensive guru Geraldo Tarraga to the mix along with fellow defensive thunder Kiki Guerrero this should be a very solid defensive unit.
Pitching: Rule 5 Ruben Alonso could be a wonderful find in the draft and should become an ace in Mexico City for seasons to come. Darrin Powers and Jesus Melendez both struggled in S16 and should be able to turn things around some this season. The rest of the starters might be more of a crap shoot and have hit or miss days. Something this team can not afford with its lack of offense. David Hernandez should get a chance to start with his 9M contract. When you give a guy that kind of dough you best have a plan for the fans to get a hold of.
Prediction 65-97- it will be a long season in Mexico City.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010



New York Dolls Roster: 25/25 96.3/105M

Offense Offensively this team could be one of the best young hitting teams all around. They feature Veteran Sluggers Matt Shave and Ken Springer, both who are capable of 40+ homeruns. Throw in young starters Sanchez, Escobar, and Sager and you have a potent lineup for the next 3-5 years.

Defense- Solid across the field. There are no true Centerfielders on the team but a good number of general athletes should cover that deficiency.

Pitching: 4 potential #1 starters on a team built on starting pitching. All are young and still getting better. Good luck scoring early on this team. The Middle reliever is equally as strong and competent, a team's only chance might be exposing a few cracks in the late bullpen where Sticky Rapp, Arias, and Mendoza do their pitching.

Prediction 107-55 there is no denying this team is built as a champion.

Norfolk Train Wrecks Roster: 22/25 58.4/61M
Offense the Loss of Charles Cole puts a hole in the offense and will mean the team needs to rely on Rookie LF Bert Jones who has spent the last 4 seasons at AAA. Scott Bowman, Scott Butler and Kevin Chaisson will have a lot more offense to provide this season. The team is in desperate need of another big bat to relieve someone of the pressure and give the lineup one more option at the plate. A trade brought the team AA prospect Duffy Hudek who should be very close to ML ready and could provide solid offensive numbers.
Defense: Chaisson lost a step and moved to 3B now that step is also disappearing, his bat is still good enough to keep him with the team, but I'm not sure if 3B is still the best place. There is no SS in the entire Norfolk system worth playing every day in the Bigs; they need outside help badly if they want to patch that hole.
Pitching 2 great young and ace quality starts throw in wily veterans Hooper and Dominguez and you have the makings of a great big four starting rotation, after that the quality drops fast for the 5 spot. The team has to hope they won't have to lean too heavily on that rotation spot and will be able to skip it a number of times to maximize the others and minimize the damage. The bullpen is made up of a lot of inexperience the team will again turn the 9th other to 2nd year man Van Poppell who had a rocky 1st season in the role. The pen will also start the season with 2 true rookies. This might be a very vulnerable pen to turn to in the late innings and might be a hitter's delight this season until they get their knocks.
Prediction 77-85

Pittsburgh Pirates Roster: 21/25 71.6/86M
Offense: Adding Robert Shultz allows for a potent lineup down the middle with Ss Feliz, Schultz, Estrada and Sheehan. Shaggy Inglett needs to snap out of his funk if he wishes to continue playing. He has solid potential but has yet to translate that into a solid batting average and is striking out way too much to be a huge factor. If Shaggy turns in around the offense will be set and ready to roll on teams. Danny Ray?
Defense: a huge concern going into the season is the defense productivity of the unit, Feliz is no longer even an average SS and should be moved next year to 3B a huge concern for Shaggy Inglett who is stationed there now. Center field has no true candidates ready to hold down the position. Perry Wood seems to be at least a season away before he can offer even mid level help. With 4 open roster spots this is an area the Pirates need to focus. Also why is Danny Ray on this team?
Pitching The Starters are set behind Rookie sensation Rob Black, who pitched well in his debut last season and FA signee Magglio Salinas, Returning starters Amaral and Palacios both should pitch well enough on their days to keep the games competitive. Look for the breakdown to begin in the mid to late innings when the bullpen struggles to get the outs. Long Relief currently is dreadful all of Ted Gibbons, Louis Perez and Upshaw will struggle in that role and should be in AAA. This will put a lot of pressure on Neil Feliz and Coleman to maintain the lead or to close. Can Danny Ray Pitch?
Prediction 77-85 less when ever Danny Ray gets into the game.

Atlanta Braves Roster: 24/25 77.1/ 81M
Offense: Featuring almost the same lineup, Atlanta ran out in S16. Atlanta will be leaning heavily on Stars SS Jose Parks and 2B Gabby Sanford to breakthrough this season and produce. They also need CF Dickie Tartabull to continue to develop and not take a step back this season. All three are potential stars and a great foundation to build a team around. Atlanta just needs to get one more dependable bat to throw in the lineup every day.
Defense: Tartabull is not only the hits leader, but is also the defensive leader for Atlanta. He controls a huge territory in Centerfield and should take some pressure off the pitching the rest of the outfield can hold their own in the field. The infield defense is average all around, but does have a few holes to poke a ball through.
Pitching: The Addition of Xaio gives Atlanta a bullpen a needed 4th arm. Closer Pecina will be able to relax a little more knowing he might not have to come in, in as dire of a situation. Both Vega and Rizzo had success in their roles last season. Atlanta should now be comfortable if they get a lead going into the 6th inning. The Starters are still a work in progress Scooter Hernandez's 2-17 record is not an indicator on how well he truly pitcher in S16. He was practically lights out; the problem is he is not that good. Expect him to be a middle of the road guy with a mid 4 era and accept that as success. Tony Hujimoto
is still young but has a good grasp on pitching and should hit his spots better this season he should pick up some of the slack and improve his record. Doug Tobin takes Jarrett Dunn's place in the rotation, but doesn't add a whole lot to the mix. Williamson and Lawrence round out the below average rotation. Without a go to pitcher this group will struggle to get a lead and hold it.

Prediction 74-88 I think there is potential in the group, but until the rest of the pitching whoa get addressed and they add 1 killer hitter this team might just tread water.


Memphis Amon-Ra Roster: 25/25 70.4M/71M
Offense The World Series champs entered last season's playoffs with one of the lowest win totals, but blew through the competition. Did they use smoke and mirrors, no their record just never indicated how good the team was. Injuries to key offensive contributors Newman and Bolivar made the road a tough one, but the offense was able to piece enough wins together to get the team to the post season and blow through the competition. Memphis is a highly specialized team every player has a role. This season that cannot be any truer, Both SS Zorilla and CF Parent will not contribute much to the offense, but should be defensive stars. The team is quick and should steal a number of bases on opponents and make things happen, but they might struggle at times with the big hits with the loss of Power hitting CF Cyr. Memphis has to hope that AAA FA acquisition C Martin will add that pop they need.
Defense: hey is the best defensive unit in the league. No question about it they will steal the game with their on the field acrobatics. This is the unit that makes the pitchers look good.
Pitching the starting pitching in some of the best in the league. They are all south of 30 with excellent upsides, 2 rookies Adam James and Dan Smith will try to break camp gunning for the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation with S1 starter Alfonzo trying to hold his position. This will be a tight battle that ever loses get to be the long reliever on an already stacked pitching staff. The bullpen brings back almost all their arms lead by Closer Bob Thome who was superb last season. Pitching is the name of the game barring injury this will be a tough unit to face.
Prediction 99-63

Monterrey Metros Roster: 23/25 76.5/78M
Offense: A team built around speed, but does not ignore power. The issue this team's offense had in S16 was a lot of 1 run rallies, Homeruns RBI only seem to happen with 1 or no one on base, An alarming and very odd trend 4 regular starts hit 20+ home runs and all fell shy of 100 RBI including Julio Rios who blasted 41 HR and still only batted in 99 Runs. To me this is a lineup that will be to be juggled to maximize those opportunities and knock in those runs. Spring training might be a good time to establish a batting order then continue tinkering throughout the first 2 weeks of the season. This lineup should be able to produce a lot of runs very quickly. The loss of Kurt Morgan is one of the strangest situations Toledo at the end of S16 basically traded Morgan's Type A rights to Monterrey who never attempted to add him to the roster.
Defense. Defense will have some holes at key positions SS and Cf both will be fielded by below average defenders, along with the regulars at 3B and 2B. This team will give up the runs on defense to the better hitting clubs.
Pitching- paid top dollar to add 2 new starters S16 Cy Young Winner Francis Charlton and Louis Gutierrez to compliment young studs Yarnell and Ortiz. The starting pitching should be strength this season and might give Memphis a run for their money as best in the division. The relief corp. Is led by two highly durable relievers Stretch Olsen and Butch Hamilton. Hamilton has been an effective closer the past 5 seasons, but his value might be better suited in an everyday reliever role just as a Setup A. He is capable of 100+ innings and is barely getting 45 innings a season. A Lot of missed opportunity to get him in games and use him in better situations. George Jordan might be the better overall closer with his skill set.
Prediction: 86-78

AUSTIN BUTCHERS Roster: 25/25 84.4/106M
Offense: fielding a very similar offense, hoping that another year under the young player's belts will make up the offense this season. Almanza, Mann and Parrish looked very good last season and should repeat their success, The lineup is built around great speed featuring not only Parrish, but Shaggy pride and #2 Career leader Hugh Prokopec (822 Career SB). This is a team that will burn you on the base path; it's just a matter of them getting on the base path. FA acquisition Tito Watson has 0 ML years under his belt and will be called on to provide a good amount of offense from the 5 or 8 hole in the lineup.
Defense: This is overall a strong defensive unit all fielders are close or above average for their position and should be among the league leaders in fielding, plus plays and ESPN highlights.
Pitching- Hi Telgheder and Calvin Coco played this team to a .500 record past season. They both showed they were big values for their contracts and put this team on the map. Thom Castillo played over his head and will not possible repeat that performance this season expects him to come crashing back to Earth this season. Tito Hicks will be put back into the rotation and given a shot to be that number 3 options, the rest of the rotation might be happier in AAA than on a ML team. This will be a tough season without at least 1 more solid starting pitcher to throw on the mound this season. The pen looks extremely weak without golden boy Albert Rincon. Late innings will be turned over to RP Benny Miller who has a solid S16, but will need help to get through the S17 season successfully.
Prediction 75-87 Step back without a proper bullpen.

Florida Sting Rays Roster: 24/25 70.2/88M
Offense: brought back the main core of starters and should be able to build on their successes and failures in S17. Long, Zoltan, and Rio are all better hitters than they showed in S16 and should be able to raise their batting averages even 5 more hits each would drive in a few more runs and contribute to 5 more wins for this team. Tony Lopez's days have passed yet he is still the clubhouse leader and led the team in batting average in S16, he shouldn't do that again but expect him to contribute his usual 20 dingers 90 RBI and .290 averages. I expect more out of these hitters and so does Florida. They should get it this season.
Defense: One of the best Defenses in the NL, Long and Zoltan are solid in their positions, 2B Cedeno is a bit weak, but his range should allow him to make a number of plays in the field others could make. Having all purpose Defensive subs Tim Ray on the team is a huge defensive Asset look for him to get into a lot of tight games and make the plays.
Pitching When 39 year old Lucas Neagle is the best the team has to offer for the starting rotation, you have a pitching problem, Rookies Gordon Potvin and Joaquin Andujar should be given a shot to start and might be able to give 5 strong innings, but they might not be quite developed enough to be effective starters. Jimmie Day is a Florida Icon and will bring in the fans because he's the man in Florida, but he is slipping in his years to a point where he is average at best. Starters Troy Carver and Darren Walker will have their moments, but are far from aces, they should be the Long Relief help, and here they might be the feature acts. The long relief is almost nonexistent, the manager will be afraid the hand the ball to these guys in any situation outside of mop up. Pedro Escabar returns after missing most of last season with an elbow injury, He should slide back into the closer job with no competition the only other Pen are is Paul Tobin who will serve as the primary setup man. The pen needs at least 2 more quality arms who can pitch extended innings.
Prediction 74-88