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.

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