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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

NL South Preview - Season 7

Another Division with little activity this off season resulting in little movement in the standings. The top of this division should stay very competitive all year but in the end Little Rock should be poised for another division title.

Little Rock - Anti-Clinton's
Last Season: 100 - 62, Division Title
Ballpark: Ray winder Field
The Anti-Clintons are coming off a 100 win season and a third straight NL South Championship. However, an early exit from the playoffs left a sour taste in the franchises mouth.

Little Rock’s offense struggled to score runs last season finishing 25th in runs scored at about 4.5 runs per game. Though a 100 win season was great management saw a need to add a impact bat this offseason and made it very clear they were going to do just that. In Little Rocks only major move this offseason Cy Young winner from last year Louis Nye Moved to Cincinnati for All Star Slugger Vernon Hubbell. The team brings back RBI men from last year Michael Ishida and Jose Alonso along with leadoff man Rod Cummings. The Addition of Vernon Hubbell is going to drastically alter the clubs offensive production.

Offense was the story this offseason but pitching was the corner stone of the 100 win year season 6. Little Rocks staff finished with a team ERA of 3.20 nearly 0.7 better than the next best team (Tacoma). The rotation loses Cy Young winner Louis Nye but returns four 10+ game winners from last year including Stuart Ramirez, Dave Sefcik, and Mario Connelly. The Bullpen will be just as deep as the rotation. Harvey Cardona blew just one save in 44 attempts last year. Setup men Victor Aven and Wes Brown should get Cardona more save opportunities in season 7.

Lack of a big time hitter held this team back last year. That is scary to think about since they won 100 games. The addition of Vernon Hubbell makes this team a World Series contender.

Prediction: Division title; Championship Run

Lousiville - Sluggers
Last Season: 96 - 66, Wild Card
Ballpark: Louisville Slugger Field

After missing the playoffs for the first time in franchise history in season 5 Louisville bounced back with a strong performance in year 6. This team is built for offense but the pitching staff stepped up last year to send this team to the postseason.

The offense returns three players who had 100+ RBI’s in seasons 6. All Stars Joe Ross, Henry Salmon, and Mitchell Brower should provide plenty of pop in the middle and the addition of Micah Hill makes this lineup very formidable. Al Espada will be the leadoff man again and provide diversity to a powerful offense. This line up should be terrifying for opposing pitchers.

Torey Chavez will be back from a career year and pitchers Junior Machado and David Gonzalez round out a better than average rotation. Though a true ace is tough to find in that group, if Chavez can repeat last year’s performance he could be that guy but control problems will slow him down. A good bullpen basically all returns anchored by Fireman award winner Corey Cookson. They will lean on veteran Jerry Hansen for setup duties.

This team should make the playoffs again this year and push Little Rock for the division title. In the end however Little Rock will be too much and Pitching uncertainty will keep this team under the Anti-Clintons for another year.

Prediction: Runner up in division; Wild Card

Mexico City - Red Devils
Last Season: 73 - 89
Ballpark: Foro Sol

A sub .500 season in Mexico City was a first for the franchise in season 6. Nothing really went their way last season struggling to get batters out on a consistent basis and struggling to score runs.

Lots of free agent signees on offense but none of them will significantly improve their offense from a year ago. Butch Barker will be the anchor in the middle of the order again this season and Dan Clayton should provide a good bat at SS. Besides Barker the offense really lacks explosiveness and should struggle this year.

The Rotation is full of 3 and 4 type starters. Clyde James and Quinn Flynn have the potential for more but did not show it last season. The bullpen mostly struggled last year. All Star Closer Barry Linton Moved on in free agency. Replacing him will be Jerry Rivers who blew 12 games in 49 SVO last year. The bullpen is full of average ML talent and the rotation is not much better.

Another sub .500 season may be in store for the Red Devils unless their rotation and bullpen play better than they did a season ago. Look for this team to show signs of success but over the whole season they just aren’t there yet.

Prediction: Third Place never really compete with top teams in division.

Houston - Colt 45's
Last Season: 64 - 98
Ballpark: Minuite Maid Park

Houston did not win 90 games for the first time in franchise history last year. They finished with a dreadful 64 wins. The offense was inconsistent last year and the pitching was horrendous letting up 238 HR over the course of the season.

The offense Has seen little change from last year. The Colt 45’s will still lean on stud CF Jack O’Brien. Henry Blalock has arrived in a very unexciting free agent signing class. The biggest news on the offense will be the promotion of 21 year old Kiko Mickinley to the opening day roster. Douglas Grebeck has been sent to AAA after a very good year for him last year where he had a .816 OPS. Another 20 HR’s in J.P Matos left via free agency. O’Brien will have to carry this offense if they want to get any production at all.

The pitching staff finished last season with a 4.78 ERA, Last in the National League. The rotation has no big time pitchers to speak of. The let veterans J.P Martin and Enrique Martin Walk this offseason and have added no legit Major league starters. They Brought up Jackson Helton to join the rotation and signed free agents Dean Green and Julio Pizzario neither of which are major league impact starters. Closer Francsico Marichal pitched well in save opportunities but only had 28 of them last year. This pitching staff is in for another tough year.

Houston will be lucky to get back to 64 wins this year. No significant moves this offseason leave this team in a state of limbo, the team is full of bellow average major league talent.

Prediction: Last Place

Season 7 AL East Preview

Prediction: 1st Place, possible AL Champ
Last Season: 1st Place (110-52, DCS Winner)

They were very active in free agency this off-season. Bobby Ray Rueter was an interesting re-signing. He is coming off a 3rd season with a 60 day DL stint and his health rating is only 42. That is scary to pay 3.4 million for. Ed Bynum is a great value signing. Hulk Pember could have a great impact but that remains to be seen. J.P. Matos is another great value pick. It isn't often that you can sign an 82 overall 29 year old for only 6 million over 2 years.

Miguel Fernandez is now a 3-Time MVP and could hit 60+ HR's again. David Tamura should fall off this season but 30+ HR's is very reasonable. Sam Jackson makes the rotation this season and should be great, Harry Forrest remains as closer but should be starting. This season they are so deep that they have Alan Parker as a reliever. The real story may be T.J. Garcia as he has great potential and steps in as the #3 starter.

They are just too loaded up and down the board to be upset this season although the gap will close as their division rivals are climbing.

Prediction: 2nd in the Division

Last Season: 2nd in the Division (90-72, Wild Card)

Another season with no off-season moves leaves you wondering why not? They lost their division title and are now a team that may fall further behind NY.

They have a stud closing for them in Charles Moreno, at 26 he has some great years ahead of him but if they are to do anything he must be better. A closer blowing 12 saves in 45 chances is unacceptable. Darryl Morgan is still their Ace but 10-10 for your Ace isn't good enough. That was the theme of last season, across the board they underperformed. I am a big fan of their other ace Raul Duran, he was one of the few who excelled, but at 35 he is on the downside of a solid career. Young SS's Chris Reid (solid season and improving) and Otis Edmonds (poor season last year) and CF Erik Maroth (horrid year) are all still vital and will hopefully take steps forward for them.

They add 3 to their ML roster this year: Andres Urbina, if he makes contact its gone, problem is making contact..., Terry Bradshaw will be a decent role player & We now all tremble as they welcome Billy Palmer to the majors full want to trade him to me?

The growth curve continues but they will struggle at times.

Prediction: 3rd in the Division
Last Season: 3rd in the Division (76-86)

I hated the last seasons off-season moves. I didn't think Frank Ledee was worth the $30+ million 4 year deal he got but he went 17-9. They need their best player Sherm James stepped back last season and if they are to make any impact he MUST be better. Benito Colome should hit 40 Homers again and Felix Dawkins struggled, he needs to hit over .300 and 30+ homers.

This off-season they signed a heckuva bum, Bum McKinley, that is. If he stays healthy he will give them some quality innings, but this may be his last rodeo. Tyrone Brumbaugh is a great signing and still has great stuff at 36 years young. However, they didn't make any trades which would have been helpful.

They welcome some great young players who will make a big impact this season. Jim Stanley comes in at 22 and loads of potential, he may hit some growing pains but should fair alright, Aaron Dunham is a stud in the making and should do well at a more seasoned 24, and Randy Lo Duca who doesn't look like much but he is a nice late inning catcher to bring in with a good arm and pitch calling.

Prediction: 4th in the Division
Last Season: 4th in the Division (68-94)
The off-season was interesting as they spent a TON of money on Alex Abe who is a good player but spending 18 mil over 3 years on a guy who just came off a devastating injury and only has a 39 health rating is a HUGE risk. Sal Cox as a SS who hits fills righties opposite a SS who hits lefties but he is being pair well to be a platoon. Elston Taylor is an aging vet, but has another very strong year or 2 ahead of him.
They didn't make any trades but will rely on an influx of talent from within to take a step forward. Young talent is something that they have in abundance. There is too many 1st year major leaguers to talk in depth about all, but Al Veras is a great hitting catcher or dh, Morgan Grieve has great defense for late games but won't contribute to the offense, Ed Eaton might not be quite ready but should be some good experience this season, Russ Hogan should add a good set-up arm, Gordon Smith starting this season is a problem as he is not yet ready, Bernie Jacome is going to be great but another year of development would be helpful, he is the closer of their future, Willie Villa is there best talent, if he can stay healthy (only a 43 health rating) he is great, Ernest Steele as a starter from the rule 5 is outclassed, Carlos Garrido is also best suited to be a mop up guy but he may be ok as a LRB guy.
They need to continue building for the future and Charlie Norton needs to be better and hopefully in his second season now he can. They have a problem though in that their #1 starter Geronimo Rijo only has control of 48. He needs to be the player of 2 seasons ago, not last year, if they are to move up the ladder.
If they can keep their team healthy they will take 3rd in this division.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

NL East Preview - Season 7

The NL East Looks to be the toughest division in the NL again this season. The top three teams all have legitament shots at winning the division and it will be interesting to follow league injuries and trade deadline moves to see who comes out on top.

Philadelphia - Pirates
last Season: 94 - 68, Division Champs
Ballpark: Citizens Bank Park

The Pirates will set out on season 7 looking for a third straight NL East divisional title. With a mindset that they could accomplish much more, this year looks to be bright for Philly who made no substantial offseason moves.

Offense was a constant for the pirates a year ago. With big name bats such as season 6 MVP Alex Morales and All Stars Earl Donavan and Henry Kirk, the lineup has plenty of star power. Through in Big names such as John Rose and Ed Serrano and you have a real murders row developing. Carlos Arias adds gold glove caliber fielding and another 20 home runs from last season. The big addition to the offense this year will be 21 year old Jamie Cunningham who has been added to the opening day roster at second base. The organization loves this kid and he has rookie of the year written all over him.

The pitching staff remains intact from an excellent season last year, were their 3.94 ERA ranked 2nd in the NL. The rotation should be deep this year with pitchers such as Jason Carter, Al Nunez, and Cecil Magnante. Brian Hara is moving out of his prime and it will be interesting to see how he rebounds from injury and poor performance in Texas. The bullpen also is deep with veterans like Craig Scott and Darren Rath. It will be interesting to see how the closers role gets defined with guys like Gregory Webster and Clarence Kolb.

Very good team should see 95 to 100 wins. However it will be interesting to see if one of their starters can step up and become the Ace of the staff to start a championship run.

Prediction: Divisional Champs, Pennant Run

Charlotte - Blue Devils
Last Season: 92 - 70, Wild Card
Ballpark: Knights Castle

Coming of their first ninety win season the Blue Devils hope to build on that and compete for the division. A very balanced team returns a majority of their core from a year ago and added pitching depth and defense.

The offense had a good year last year scoring the most runs in the national league while hitting 247 home runs. The offense will again be anchored by All Stars Emil Escobar and Magglio Morales. With additional power coming from Fausto Martin and Santiago Guerrero, who both produced 30 home runs a year ago. Mark Herges and Clayton Pavlov will be looking to get things started for the big sticks. Harry Stark should be intriguing to watch in CF for his rookie campaign.

A solid pitching staff that produced a team ERA 4.05 last season is mostly back with some added bullpen depth. Starters Maximo Meche and Robert Edmonds will look to anchor the rotation. Newcomers Alex Figureoa and Mark Cintron will add depth to the bullpen. Rosevelt Acosta will move to a set up role this year to make room for Darrell Boudreau to take the closers role.

All in all this team is sound top to bottom and it should give Philadelphia a run for the divisional title again this year. A major impact bat I think is holding them back from being elite, Morales could be that guy but has struggled durability wise behind the plate.

Prediction: second in division, Wild Card

Scranton - Tough Streets
Last season: 88 -74
Ballpark: Lackawanna County Stadium

Injury’s plagued the though streets franchise a year ago. Notably Third Basemen Alex Abe, Starter Albert Wallace, and CF Ricardo Granados all made trips to the 60 day disabled list. Abe has since moved on and Wallace and Granados are back healthy for season 7. Despite the rash of injuries last year the team finished with 88 wins just missing the wildcard.

The pitching staff had a tough time last year finishing games. The team blew 22 games and dragged the team ERA down to second to last in the NL. The Rotation was solid and returns a majority of their starts from a year ago including Cy Young candidate Victor Vega and Veteran Jin-Chi Maedea who will anchor the rotation once again. The bullpen has made some changes for the better, All Star closer Walter Ogea is out after a poor second half left him with a 6 ERA to end the season. Replacing Ogea will be Free Agent signee Hades Riley. You will also see new setup man Luis Bocachica make a large contribution to the team after he was acquiered via Trade.

Offensively the big story this offseason was the trade of Walter Gabriel whose at bats saw a significant drop from the previous year. Scranton sheds his $14million dollar salary and receives two prospects along with Darrel Collins. At SS Timo Bong returns from a strong year and Patrick Borland has proven himself behind the plate the last couple of seasons. Lewis Andrews left for free agency but newly acquired William Speier should add some pop and Tony Vasquez will be look towards to set the table for the big bats. The offense though will live or die on the health of cleanup man Ricardo Granados who was an all star/silver slugger/gold glover in his only full season of big league duty.

The Though Streets are a very intriguing team. They can go as high as win the east this season or as low as cellar dweller. The Rotation should carry them but their bullpen is still suspect. The offense relies to heavily on injury prone guys and in a very tough division it will be tough to overcome any major setbacks. Still if this team stays healthy and the bullpen produces they could make a serious playoff run.

Prediction: Third Place in a though division; Run at a wild card spot.

St. Louis - Birdos
Last season: 78 - 84
Ballpark: Busch Stadium

The Birdos were in a rebuilding phase last year for the third straight year and more of the same is expected for this season. The team will be shooting for their first winning season since season 1. Trades and promotions from within will be how this team has looked to increase their win total.

St. Louis finished around middle of the pact or bellow in every major offensive category last season and not much has changed from last year. Brandon Bates will be relied upon in the middle of the order after a career year in season 6. The departure of 30 HR man Glenn Burnett will try to be offset by rookie Davey Hollins and rule V pick up Walter Charlton. Rule V pick from last year Andrew Whitehill will be the spark at the top of the lineup. Perennial Gold Glover Ernest Hernandez will join fellow Gold Glovers Frank Won and Bryan Brooks in the field which looks to be a strong suit for the team. The offense will look for Quinn Mathews to bounce back from sup par performance.

The Pitching Staff for the Birdos finished middle of the pact a year ago and some key additions have been made to try and bolster the rotation and bullpen. They Traded for lefty Tony Costilla and signed free agent All Star closer Barry Linton. Costilla was very pricey trading away two very good prospects but management loves this kid. Barry Linton, like many other players on the team, appears to be an older “stop gap” type until prospects develop. The team will also rely on pitchers Kelly Rolls and Bobby Langston to have good years. However, unless some lower level starters step up another mediocre season for this staff is in order.

In the hardest division in the NL last season St. Louis will be luck to repeat the win total they had last season. Another year of waiting for prospects is in order and the organization seems committed to building from within.

Prediction: Last Place

NL North Preview – Season 7

NL North should look similar to last season but much more competition is on the horizon for New York and it should not be a cake walk to the division championship this season.

New York – Shea It Ain’t So
Last Season: 90 – 72, NL North Champs, NL Pennant

Ballpark: Shea Stadium

Pitching carried this team to an NL pennant last season and looks to do the same again this year. The staff is lead by Ace starter Ramon Jiang and Stud closer Eddie Webster. Jiang should post another 240+ innings. Geraldo Ortiz will be back looking to post 10 wins for the 7th straight season.
Free Agent Signee Howie Taylor should provide some needed offense to a team who finished 10th in the NL in runs scored in year 6. Mateo Cordero will also need to step up in order to reverse the poor offensive output from last year. Not a whole lot of trade bait in the minors but I would not be surprised to see Shea It Ain’t So make a trade deadline move for another power bat.

Defense and Pitching should keep this team at the top of the division but the lack of impact bats might hurt their chances of a real playoff run.

Prediction: 1st place in division and another pennant run.

Kansas City - Bears
Last Season: 78 – 84, Second in division
Ballpark: Kauffman Stadium

Offseason additions are the story for Kansas City. They added Star RF Adam Lawrence, Starting Pitcher Sam Romano, and setup man/closer Shane Servais.

The Bears had an average year offensively last season and with the addition of Lawrence and the return of rookie of the year Stevie Williams they should be very explosive at the plate. There is plenty of power on this team if they can get men on base for their sluggers it will be an exciting year at the dish.

Pitching was what held this team back a year ago. A staff OAV of .282 and OBP of .342 is not a winning formula. However, there is reason to be optimistic. The long term signing of Omar Gonzalez and free agent signee Sam Romano sure up a solid rotation. The bullpen lacks a proven “closer” but the addition of Servais should help.

Kansas City may have paid a lot for free agents this offseason but they defiantly sent a message to New York that they will compete for the division this season. This team is capable of great things but their bullpen will hold them back slightly. Look for this franchise to make their first ever playoff appearance.

Prediction: 2nd in division and wild card berth.

Minnesota – Boomba Clots
Last Season: 70 – 92, Third in division
Ballpark: Humphrey Metrodome

Minnesota brings a very exciting team back from last season that lead the National league in HR but also allowed a ML leading 604 walks.

Coming back on offense will be season 6 silver slugger at 1b Randy Patrick and 40+ HR guys Doug Williamson and Miguel Estrada. While the big hitters are out scoring runs without the long ball proved to be the offenses Achilles heel. The promotion of Midre Maradona should provide another dimension to their offense.

Damion Towers will be back from a career year last season but the pitching staff needed help this offseason and did not get it. They added Mariano Sosa in FA. Almost 4 million a year for a guy who has about 30 innings of big league experience. They also wasted 3.8 million a year for Ralph Wider who is no longer with the team. Howard Dye has been promoted to the big leagues at age 21 and a lot will be riding on him if this team is to turn around. Still many people believe he is not ready for big league duty and the Boomba Clots are pitching him into the fire.

Minnesota’s offense should carry them to around the same win total as last season but more pitching is necessary for this team to become legit contenders.

Prediction: third in the division and slipping.

Boise - Barnstormers

Last Season: 67 – 95, Last in Division
Ballpark: Memorial Stadium

The Barnstormers had a rough year last year finishing with their lowest win total in 6 years and struggled to keep opposing hitters grounded, allowing 219 home runs. The offense was not much better, slugging only .391.

They signed Lonnie Morton to a long term deal this offseason and added Matt Malloy at 1B to bring in some power. However, only modest improvements to the offense can be expected with a majority of the hitters returning from last season’s debacle.

The brought in Jeremy Washington and Richard Cox this offseason for modest salaries. They will see average return on these players. The pitching staff will rely heavily on Jarrod Mercedes and Walter Kaye. It seems like a rebuilding year this year with Washington and Cox looking to be stop gaps for young talented players like Pedro Gomez and Dan Monroe.

This team is changed little from a year before and while they should surpass their 67 wins from last year I would not expect much more from this club till some of their talented prospects are ready for the show.

Prediction: Last in Division

Monday, December 29, 2008

Season 7 AL North Preview

Season 7 AL North looks like much of the same. Ownerships have changed for a few franchises and some of the teams have moved but the outsome will again be a run away league champ.

Prediction: 1st in the Division (Possible AL Champ)
Last Season: 1st in Division (102-60)
New ownership takes over this perennial powerhouse and brings a desire to get this team back over the hump in the post season. They also take a move Cincinnati. But, How much do you have to change when you have averaged 105 Wins per season over the last 5 seasons? If you ask mwhelan just enough! They went in and openned the vaults a bit in signing Darrel Collins and then trading him off!! They picked themselves up a role player in Deivi Javier who will have a small role but is probably overpaid at 4 mil. How do you make a great team better? Add Emil Sardinha, even at 13 mil he may be worth it because they can afford him. Vernon Hubbell was traded away after a "sub-par" 39 HR season, however they only received Louis Nye in return, bad deal for them as he is only a marginal ML pitcher. They also picked up Walter Gabriel (who is worse then Hubbell) with his 14.6 mil salary and gave up Newly Signed Collins isn't a big loss, and some marginal prospects. Marino Moreno got my predicted 40/40 and may repeat it, super hitting stud Catcher Sean Moehler could also repeat his 50 HRs. The rotation is anchored by Former Cy Young Winner Lonnie Hammonds who is getting older but will still be a huge force. Stan Lewis returns but his role moves to that of closer and he may become the best in the league. They also welcome Tom Benjamin, Chuck Reed (stud hitting 1B), Giomar Pena (stud 3B), and Tony Trajano (future CY Young candidate) to the majors for full seasons.

Prediction: 2nd in the Division
Last Season: 2nd in Division (70-92)
Toronto made only 1 free agent signing and it was a questionable signing of Rudy Winn who has ok defense but can't hit for his life and at 3+ mil you would hope for more. They were the shocking recipient of a pair of in-divison trades picking up Cy Young Contender Pepe Perez while trading away Ted Benson. Benson is a good slugger (with mediocre contact) but Perez is GREAT. An AWESOME trade for them. 1b's are a dime a dozen, Cy Young winners are few and far between. Marc Pressley for Vicente Valdes was a good pick-up as Pressley is a great offensive talent and Valdes won't be a big impact Major League Pitcher. Lou Hunter lived up to his billing (1.92 ERA) but is making 13.5+ mil which is crazy for a closer.
The question is asked again this season Can Jumbo Cerveza become a 50/50 guy this year? I predict he finally hit his 50 HR's but will come up just short with 45 or so SB's. Overall they have some incredible young hitting talent. And, Can Ralph Mora continue his growth and be the #1 starter that they need to reach the next level? He may get over the hump a 16-17 win season isn't out of the question. They will also need Calvin Yo to wake up and give them more then an ERA of 7+ this season.
They sport some AWESOME young guys called up at the end of last season that will make a huge impact: Al Montero, Al Spencer, Paul Chen, Turner Cook, and Wascar Cabrera.
They will close the gap and getting above .500 isn't out of the question for this squad.

Prediction: 3rd in the division
Last Season: 3rd in the division (65-97)
New Ownership takes over this season and last year I predicted "Next year may be their season as they have some great young talent now maturing in the majors." They also move over to Salt Lake City. This off-season killed them. They were very active but were However, They made a horrible free agent signing of Graeme Hutton for 3.6 mil, he can't throw a strike for his life and was a complete waste, paying 3 mil for Benny Heredia who wasn't even signed by a team last season is another wasted roster spot, Calvin Brown is a semi-power guy with a bad eye who will hit.250 and 10-15 homers which makes him not worth his 2.8 mil salary, Barry Parrish is another 3.2 mil HUGE waste, he averages nearly 7 WALKS PER 9 INNINGS and is 36 years old..., Adam Shelley is a very strong hitter but he will only be worth his 5 mil if he plays dh because he is a brutal defensive catcher, Reid Russell is a good guy to get, solid but not spectacular numbers but he should be a good pick-up however at 7 mil/yr he needs to perform. Mike Fassero is a stud and at 23 he is by far their best player. We also mark the arrival of Will Stechschulte who will take over at closer (but he can't throw strikes so we will see how that works out...), Mike Youkilis (a future STUD), Crash Higgins (who brings speed and contact), and Omar Cruz (via trade) whose future is destroyed by being placed in the majors at 19. He could be the best in league history at his position if given time to mature in the minors.
They were also very active in the trade market trading away STUD Micah Hill and Cy Young Contender Tony Costilla . Another Cy Young Contender Pepe Perez was traded away for Ted Benson. Benson is a good slugger (with mediocre contact) but Perez is GREAT. A horrible trade regardless of need. 1b's are a dime a dozen, Cy Young winners are few and far between. Hill picked them up some great prospects Willie Tabaka and Rick Parent. Andres Gutierrez retiring is a SHOCK as he was still a shut down closer who was in his prime.

Prediction: 4th in the Division
Last Season: 4th in Division (62-100)
I repeat my song from last season when I said "I wish I could say that the winds have changed but I just don't think that is the case." They made no trades during the off-season which were very needed. The only free agent signing Tanner Westbrook is a decent player who at 24 is slightly overpaid at 5+ million. They have a lot of work to do and may be seasons away from making a dent in this division. Their best player is still the now 38 year old pitcher Gerald Lim is still a stud but is nearing the end of the round. Rodney Grove had another year to mature and at only 24 he has a bright future ahead of him. AJ Castillo being rushed to the majors last season at only 19 years old worked out alright but in the long-term he won't be the player he otherwise would have. This year the problem is Kiki Rijo as the #3 starter at 20 years old, Javier Garces as the #4 starter at 21 years old, and Cord Fossum as your #5 starter at 19 years old. That could be good things for the future, but that is most definetely not now.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

ML AL South (Season 6) Preview

Prediction: 1st Place in the Division
Last Season: 2nd Place in division (83-79)

They were fairly active this off-season. Free Agent signing Terrence Rivers was really the only player that was kept despite 5 invites to spring training. Jimmie Walker is a great Rule V pickup to go along with Macbeth Crawford who can play almost any position in a crunch. However they were not active in the trade market. They have a plethora of young incredible power hitters (none of them older the 28) including Rich Watkins, Rube Steele, Mike Cox, Ken Wight, and Horacio Galvez. The pitching is anchored by stud Brian Hara who may soon hand over the reigns to some of their young studs including Luis Cordero, Napoleon Oliver, and Jose Carrasco among others. This may be there year.

Prediction: 2nd in the division (possible first ever playoff appearance)
Last Season: 4th in division (58-104)

They made no free agent signings but did make 4 rule V selections including T.J. Garcia who was traded back to NY, Darren Lombardi, Paul Lee, and Ty Bowman who all go straight into the line-up. Bowman is likely the most important as the move to a pitchers park makes him vital. They made some trades for the future but only Carmine Munoz who will serve as DH and back-up Catcher will make an immediate impact. It is finally time for their young players to stop being kids and to start being veterans. This includes Ernie Perry, Jon Brock, Victor Rijo, O.T. Lincoln, and Herbert Fisher. However, the real playoff key will revolve around whether Jacque Cunningham can pitch to expectations this season or not as last seasons 6-18 performance was unbelievable.

Prediction: 3rd in Division
Last Season: 3rd in Division (79-83)

They made some great off season signings while spending nearly $20 million including Stan Rowand, Derrek Phelps (one slightly questionable signing), Devon Charles, and Bing Penny (another questionable signing and an expensive one at 35 years old for 3 years for a player with low makeup). However, they chose no Rule V players or made any trades which could come back to bite them. The pitching staff of aging George Ramsey, Cy Durrington (who lacks control and splits), aging Rafael Villafuerte who also lacks splits, but has great pitches, Joaquin Maduro will be important, especially considering his poor pitches. Al Silva is by far the best they have as he anchors the bullpen. Offensively they will rely heavily on Charles, Wilson Reagan, and Buddy Krause (the most important).

Prediction: 4th this season
Last Season: 1st in Division (96-66)

Their only free agent signing was an older set-up guy who will have minimal impact. They made no trades and picked up a usable player in Clay Green in the Rule V draft. With offensive stud Midre Manuel and Nomar Welch the offense is in good, young hands. However, they lost their biggest HR hitter from last season. Also gone is Turk Park there stud SP. Rudy Perez will have to step up this season if they are to be successful. Behind that the rotation is weak. They may struggle this season.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Season 6 AL East Preview

Prediction: 1st Place + possible AL Champ
Last Season: 2nd Place (97-65 + wild card)

They didn't make any substantial off-season signings with the exception of some catching help. However, They have the leagues reigning 2-Time MVP Miguel Fernandez but gave up a TON to get him. Can he push them over the top and bring them back the division title? They retain offensive stud David Tamura who is on the decline but still a force. Their rotation is anchored by 3x All-Star Darrel Waters. I am shocked that Sam Jackson and Harry Forrest aren't in the rotation, but with possibly the majors best staff I guess you can afford it...

Prediction: 2nd in the Division
Last Season: 1st in the Division (100-62, DCS Winner)

Again, how much do you change a 100 win club? However, they have new ownership and that may help or hurt them. The gap has also closed as they didn't make any off-season moves. They have a stud closing for them in Charles Moreno, at 25 he has some great years ahead of him. Darryl Morgan anchors a solid, but not spectacular rotation. I am a big fan of their ace (in my opinion) is Raul Duran. Young SS's Chris Reid and Otis Edmonds and CF Erik Maroth are the keys to the now and the future for them.

Prediction: 3rd in the Division
Last Season: 3rd in the Division (80-82)

I hated the off-season moves. Frank Ledee is not worth the $30+ million 4 year deal her got. Nor is Louis Palmer worth his $2 million per season. $12 million in free agency should have gotten this squad more as they had a glaring need for pitching that they attempted to fill. They need their best player Sherm James to step up this season. They also lost their biggest hitter Jeff Glynn which will force them to rely more on Benito Colome and Felix Dawkins.

Prediction: 4th in the Division
Last Season: 4th in the Division (75-87)

Kevin Knight and Jack Conway are nice value signings that have an immediate positive effect on the pitching staff. But it won't be enough to move them up in the division. They need to continue building for the future and Charlie Norton (there rule v pick) may be the future of the franchise. He can be a long-term major league starter for them. Theo Griffiths also looks primed for a good season.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Season 6 AL North Preview

I will be better with the blog this season. It starts today with a brief overview of predictions for the season. I am hoping to get up 1 division a day.
Prediction: 1st in the Division (Possible AL Champ)
Last Season: 1st in Division (110-52)

How much do you have to change when you have averaged 106 Wins per season over the last 5 seasons? Vernon Hubbell returns as this season after knocking out 40+ HR last season at age 26 while taking home a 2nd All-Star Appearance. He is joined by potential 40/40 man Marino Moreno (if he stays healthy) and super hitting stud Catcher Sean Moehler. The rotation is anchored by Cy Young Winner Lonnie Hammonds who went 20-2 last season. Stan Lewis may be the best player in the league, however the pitching staff is anchored by older players and that may need to change going forward.
Prediction: 2nd in the Division (would be their highest finish ever)
Last Season: 3rd in Division (72-90)
Toronto made a HUGE commitment to now with some of their off season moves. Lou Hunter is a stud and will close out as many as they will win. Ernie Morgan is another stud in the bullpen but both are extremely costly. Will they be enough to get them a wild card spot this season? Wiki Alvarez and Luis Ontiveros are solid role players as well.
Can Jumbo Cerveza become a 50/50 guy this season? If so that would go a long way to getting them into the playoffs for the first time ever. Overall they have some incredible young hitting talent. And, Can Ralph Mora be the #1 starter that they need to reach the next level? They will also need Calvin Yo to pitch this season the way he ended last season.

Prediction: 3rd in the division
Last Season: 2nd in the division (72-90)
Elston Taylor could be a hidden stud and a steal free-agent signing in the rotation. Bill Vernon will also make a big impact. I am not a fan of the signing of Justin Medina or Tomas Padilla but Padilla was waived and claimed so that works fine for them. Orlando Valentin was an interesting signing for $5 million as they already have a similarly talented SS making $5.4 million. Next year may be their season as they have some great young talent now maturing in the majors. They include Micah Hill who may hit 50 Home Runs this season. Junior Fernandez is a great young catcher. Tony Costilla will have a good year but is a season or 2 away from being Cy Young caliber and now joins a major league staff that has youth and experience. Andres Gutierrez is a shut down closer who should help them keep the wins they get.
Depending on maturity they could challenge for 2nd in the division and possibly a wild card spot as well.

Prediction: 4th in the Division
Last Season: 4th in Division (66-96)
I wish I could say that the winds have changed but I just don't think that is the case. The only significant free agent signings Jaime Price and Billy Grimsley both have no business even being in the majors. Their best player is 37 year old pitcher Gerald Lim is still a stud but is nearing the end of the round. Rodney Grove should put up big numbers offensively and at only 23 he has a bright future ahead of him. A huge concern here is players like AJ Castillo being rushed to the majors at only 19 years old, this future stud's growth will now be destroyed and with it may go the future of the franchise.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

NL North

Milwaukee Princes:

Hitting: They are right in the middle of the pack when it comes to batting average hitting at a .268 clip. They are below league average though when it comes to runs scored but are in first place in their division as the season draws to a close. They are led by young stud John Rose. At 28 the future is now for this kid. However, the ML ready position players are few and far between so free agency will be the key and resigning current talent. However, they are loaded with SS prospects and can probably send some away and trade for other weaker positions

Pitching: Their team ERA is just under 4, which is one of the top rankings in the league. Milwaukee has some incredible talent and possibly the best young pitcher in the majors with Ramon Jiang. Geraldo Ortiz is almost back and was incredible before getting hurt. Eddie Webster might be the leagues top closer and is only 26. The future bullpen looks incredible as well. A true force to be reckoned with.

Draft Class: The draft was horrid for them. The first pick wants 8.5 million and likely won’t sign. 2nd round pick Adrian Nelson projects ok overall, but likely won’t ever be a major league talent, plus he cost 3+ million to sign. Jayson Terry there 3rd round pick also projects well overall but won’t crack the majors & cost nearly 3 million to sign. The 4th round pick at cost and projecting well overall may be the only guy to crack the majors. Overall a disaster. Future drafts need to be better. DRAFT GRADE: D+

My Prediction: First in the division, maybe 1 round win.

Overall Grade: B+

Future Team Grade: B

Ottawa Sundragons:

Hitting: They are near the bottom of the league when it comes to batting average hitting at a .260 clip. They are near the middle of the league though when it comes to runs scored. They are led offensively by young slugger Doug Williamson who has slugged 50 homers this season and Midre Maradona who is a running fool and a potential multi-year all-star. They have also recently called up some young guns who will be in the majors for quite a while. Jin Woodard should be a stud, Junior Lee is a defensive future wizard, and they are full of others.

Pitching: Their team ERA is just under 5, which is right in the middle of the league rankings. Ottawa has a stud closer in Hades Riley but he is getting older and may be gone in a few years. Damion Towers is the stud of the Pitching Staff. Charlie Norton will be awesome as well. However, overall they have some severe deficiencies and will need to stock up for the future.

Draft Class: They made a great selection with their first round pick as Darrell Caufield will be a stud. 2nd Round Pick Lyle Kramer will also make the majors one day. 3rd round pick was a dog and won’t make it past AA, 4th Round pick won’t sign, but 5th round selection T.J. Koplove could make an impact eventually. All in all getting 3 potential difference makers, all at slot money constitutes a damn good draft in my opinion DRAFT GRADE: A-

My Prediction: 2nd in the Division.

Overall Grade: C+

Future Team Grade: B+

Boise Barnstormers:

Hitting: They are in the bottom ¼ of the league in terms of Batting Average and runs scored. Their lone All-Star is 27 year old Lonnie Morton he will be a difference maker for a long time, plus he also won the Home Run Derby. Benjamin Robinson is an overpaid, underperforming talent, but a talent at 29 nonetheless. Billy Winn is one of the top prospects offensively but there isn’t too to talk about behind him.

Pitching: They are in the top ¼ of the league in terms of ERA. Jarrod Mercedes is a great talent but is aging and injury prone. Ruben Trevino will be a stud for a long time and at 26 is also making an impact. They are stock full of major league young pitchers, but some of the depths they have lacks control and may not be true major league caliber. They have incredible depth at the minor league level, their AAA is LOADED. Pedro Gomez may win a few Cy Young Awards before all is said and done. Efrain O’Keefe may join him in that race too. Aaron Pierzynski will be their closer of the future and a stud at that.

Draft Class: Elmer Evans is an ok first round pick, but I am not sure he will ever be a meaningful Major League producer. Anthony Pagnozzi will be good as well, but again not a big time producer. Noone after that point will make any impact. DRAFT GRADE: C

My Prediction: 3rd in the Division.

Overall Grade: C

Future Team Grade: A (Pitching would be an A+++, Hitting drags it down)

Detroit Tigers:

Hitting: They are in the middle of the pack offensively with a batting average of .267. However, they haven’t been able to turn that into runs as they are 5th last in the league. They lack any semblance of power with only 84 home runs this season. Del Johnson has wasted away in AAA and is the best offense talent they currently have. Not sure why a 32 year old player making 5.4 million spent 110+ games in AAA. The minors lacks any meaningful offensive threats as well.

Pitching: Their team ERA is just under 5.50 which ranks them 5th last in the league. They have also managed to blow 19 saves thus far. Scooter Bacsik will be a stud if he can stay healthy. Omar Gonzalez is also a great young talent who is already making a Major League impact. They have some meaningful talent through the minors as well.

Draft Class: With the 15th overall pick they made a great selection in Aramis Durazo. If given time to develop he will be a great asset. Hugh McDonald in the supplemental round is also a great pick, but he has been rushed and is already in AAA which will likely keep him from ever reaching his true potential. 2nd round pick Jeromy Ramirez was a hold out and wanted nearly 5 million to sign, well he signed and may crack the minors someday but won’t be a huge impact. 3rd round pick Willie Melo may also be an impact player some day. A few others will make an impact at the minor league levels DRAFT GRADE: B+ (This would be an A or even an A+ if Hugh wasn’t already in AAA)

My Prediction: Last in the Division.

Overall Grade: C-

Future Team Grade: B+

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

American League West

Oakland Oaks:
Without being number one in the west since the first season, Oakland can once again taste victory.
Hitting: With one of the worst batting averages in the league (around .250)I am a little surprised they are in first place. They have a pretty solid outfield, but most of their future infielders are still in the minors. Until Cory Snow and the rest of the gang can come up, I see that team batting average only rising a little bit.
Pitching: Their team ERA is almost 4, which is one of the top rankings in the league. Oakland is very happy to have a great pitching staff to make up for their not so great hitting. Led by possible Cy Young winner Victor Vega who most likely will be a 20-game winner and young pitchers Joe Lindsey, Mack Hitchcock their rotation is maybe the best in the league. Most of their good relievers are still developing in the minors, but the staff will make up for it.
Draft Class: Oakland has a pretty good draft (being sarcastic, their draft was amazing) receiving three first round picks! They picked CF Cory Snow at number three, which was a great pick. The other two round picks in the first round were Hank Lange who isn't have bad and possible pitching ace Augie Woodall. In the second round they selected a good reliever, Jim Bailey who could be very good in a couple of years. DRAFT GRADE: A+

My Prediction: Even though their hitting is weak, their pitching is lights out and is the reason I think they may end up in first place once again:
Overall Grade: B-
Future Team Grade: B+

Tacoma Rain:
Being the first year with a winning percentage, I think it is going to be a very close battle for first place.
Hitting: Tacoma has a very young roster, so it might take a couple more years for Rain to lead the league in hitting. I'm going to try to win before his future stars come up, because once they do, there won't be anything stopping him. Led by two time silver slugger Vasco Lee, their hitting is awesome. They also have a couple of shortstops...not one, not two, but 9 good shortstops! That could be his whole line up right there!!!
His hitting is so good, that it might almost be too good.
Pitching: Tacoma is pretty much right down the middle when it comes to pitching. But don't forget, they have a prospect team. When Darryl Priest, Donaldo Torres, and Roger Carpenter reach their full potential, their staff will be one of the best in the league. Their bullpen will be much much better once Joseph Chong comes up to the bigs.
Draft Class: Donaldo Torres was a good pick to help out their staff a little bit. I project a lot of walk/strike-out type of pitcher. With their next pick, they got Harold Ransom, another shortstop. No surprise there. DRAFT GRADE: C+ or B-

My Prediction: I'm a little confused with all of the shortstops, but their team is going to be very good.
Overall Grade: B- or B
Future Team Grade: A+

Las Vegas Venom:
Las Vegas
With a little under .500 winning percentage, Las Vegas is a gamble to win 1st place.
Hitting: Their outfield is one of the best in the leagues and their infield is still young. Once Howard Pryce and the rest of the squad finishes developing their hitting will be lights out.
Pitching: Their pitching isn't so good. They can not rush Phillip Benard to fast or their goes Vegas' whole pitching. Venom will be expecting big things from him.
Draft Class: Phillip Benard was a great pick by Las Vegas considering that they the need a Cy Yound type of pitcher. Hopefully Benard can do that for them. With their other first round pick they got another pitcher, who is very good. His name is Lariel Sierra and he will be able to provide Phillip with some help. Their second round pick, Phillip Howard is a good second baseman that was looking to be picked in the first round, but got picked in the second. It isn't looking good for Vegas to sign him. DRAFT GRADE: B

My Prediction: Good, but not good enough this year. If they work on their pitching, Vegas could be a contender in a few seasons.
Overall Grade: C+ or B-
Future Team Grade: B or B+

Honolulu Lava Kings:
Being the worst team in the West and only being over .500 once (only by two games) I don't see them leaving fourth place.
Hitting: Their hitting isn't bad, but it isn't great either. They have two good hitters; Jose Tavarez and Adam Lawrence. Besides that their isn't really anyone else.
Pitching: Dennis Parris is their best pitcher, and he isn't anything special either. Their bullpen is average, but could use a little work. Their pitching could use a few better arms.
Draft Class: I Like how he picked a hitter and a pitcher in the first two rounds. Dennis Parris should help the hitting, and adds pop to their line up. Willie Rosario will be a big help to their pitching and was a good pick. DRAFT GRADE: B

My Prediction: Needs some major work, and until that happens they will be in fourth place for a while.
Overall Grade: D+ or C-
Future Team Grade: C or C+

Prediction Standings:
1st- Oakland Oaks
2nd- Tacoma Rain
3rd- Las Vegas Venom
4th- Honolulu Lava Kings