Monday, September 24, 2012

S3 NL West Preview (Done by Meece)

NL WestS:2
Colorado Buffalo's (99-63)
Anaheim Trojans (99-63)
LA Bruins (92-70)
Arizona State Sun Devils (67-95)

The most tightly contested division in league history looks to continue into year 3.

Colorado Buffaloes (99-63)
Payroll: 81.4 M
+101 Run Diff

cctigerfan won the division on the last day of the season by way of tie break over the Anaheim Trojans ending the season on a six game win streak going 7-3 in the last ten. One thing for sure is that tigerfan has mastered the thin air in the rockies as his pitchers throw ground balls and his bats have plenty of pop. Lead by all stars 3B Adam Clayton and CF Cecil Dubler this Buffalo's team should be just as strong as years past.

With a very talented lineup very little movement was made this off-season by tigerfan signing one player and promoting two others. RP Esteban Barcelo comes over from the Buckeyes and hopes to improve the back end as the pen may be the only weakness in Colorado. Utility man Yamid Villano looks to help off the bench and brings a good glove no matter where he plays and wont hurt at the plate either. Power bat CC Rigby will see limited action in the corners when rest is needed.

The Buffalo's will be at the top of the division and will be exciting to see how this division sets up. As tough as the division is I see Colorado hitting the 100 win mark with a 101-61 record.

Anaheim Trojans (99-63)
Payroll: 78.1 M
+264 Run Diff

The Trojans who are one of the best home teams in the league demand respect and with a little bit of luck could over take Colorado which should be a much contested division. After giving up the second fewest runs, this young rotation lead by 23 yr old Jack Glass will be found near the top of the Cy Young votes come seasons end. All Star RF Shawn White and Silver Slugger 3B Arthur Guerrero continue the power bat tradition out west.

Mcbain mirrored tigerfan in making few moves this off-season. LF Preston Holmes comes over from Iowa and adds another power bat to an already potent lineup. In an interesting trade Mcbain acquired closer Kyle Brea from Oakland for leadoff hitter CF Tom O'Neil, this move will solidify the back end of the bullpen and shows the Trojans are ready to win right now. I will have to side with Mcbain on this one as his 17 rings proves he knows what he’s doing.

USC will make the playoffs again and should go deep; the only question is will he over come Colorado and win the division? I don’t see the team regressing any so a 100 win season could also be in the books, we will have to see how it plays out.

LA Bruins (92-70)
Payroll: 91.2M
+80 Run Diff

Mamidu's Bruins were the third team in the division to make the playoffs last season and shows how tough the division is. This team is like being the less attractive sister when you’re Megan Fox and your sisters are Jessica Alba and Cameron Diaz. LA returns 3 all-stars in CL Billy McCullough, Sp Destin Gierra and C Otis Dickey who of course has a power bat.

The Bruins made one selection in the Rule 5 draft picking up Corban Wiltse who should find himself entrenched in the middle of the rotation. The big splash of the off-season in the division is the acquisition of All Star Silver Slugging SS Luis Hernandez. It’s not everyday a SS of his caliber is on the open market and will solidify an already good fielding team.

The Bruins are another 100 win potential team in any other division but here in the west looks like another 3rd place wild card berth is on the horizon ill say 95-67. Where LA has the leg up is their very deep organization. Loaded with pitchers who are almost ML ready one or two could get the call up this year. CF Willie Carrera looks to be the first call up and will bring yet another top end glove to this already good organization.

Arizona State Sun Devils (67-95)
Payroll 18.8 M
-168 Run Diff

Train enters the season with a low budget team of soon to bes and looks to be a team perfectly set up to win the division a few years down the road as the other three teams age. This team by season 6 will be like when Harry Potter woke up one day and realized his best friends sister got hot really really hot. Train has a history of winning multiple rings in multiple leagues and see another coming in the future.

By far the most active off-season in the division one thing is for sure when Matt says he has a need he goes and gets it. Even as I write this blog ASU acquires his need of a young catcher in Enerio Espinoza from Columbus for pitcher Malcolm Daniels. Train found the perfect trading partner with Richmond making a 7 player trade with them to kick off season 3. One thing for sure is this off-season the Devils picked up some top quality young hitters in Rube Caruso, Javier Borbon, and Lon Pribanic. Four selections were made in the Rule 5 Draft 3 being pitchers that can contribute while the Sun Devils youth develop.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

S3 AL North Preview

S3 AL North Preview

AL North was a tough division last year as they managed to get 3 teams into the playoffs with the Trenton Scarlet Knights taking the #1 seed and the New York Red Storm and Cincinnati Bearcats grabbing the two wildcard spots.  It was a tight race for the #1 seed and for the last wildcard spot down the stretch last season, will they all be able to repeat in season 3?

Trenton Scarlet Knights
S2: 97-65 (#1 AL seed, Won AL North by 7 games)
Payroll: $98.0M

Trenton went with the "why mess up a good thing" approach this offseason, making a few moves but keeping the majority of their roster intact.  When you finish 4th in team era and tied for 2nd in fielding percentage, you really don't have to make many changes.  Brandon Maroth got the call up to help provide a spark in the offensive next to Ron Fitzgerald and Reese Waterson.  Fitzgerald will be trying to make it three seasons in a row of hitting 30+ homeruns and 100+ RBI's.  Shane Prince was brought into the club through free agency where he'll join the starting rotation that also includes Ken Nix and Yuniesky Tatis, a very strong 1-2 combo. 

While Maroth should add some power into the lineup, the offense didn't get much help in the offseason to improve much, especially in the AL.  However with the pitching that the Scarlet Knights can put on the mound, along with the solid defense, this is still a powerful club that made it to the ALCS last year getting beat by the current World Series Champs.  Look for the Knights to be back in the playoffs again this season.

New York Red Storm
S2: 90-72 (#2 in the AL North, 1st Wildcard Spot)
Payroll: $48M

Building from within seems to be the New York Red Storm's plan for the major league ball club as the team decided not to renew the contracts of  Santo Pizzaro, Quinn Klesko, and Gorkys Pineda and let them go to free agency.  Instead of negotiating any contracts to replace the players, the team looked from within and called up Tony Lima, Pedro Pujols and Enerio Navarro to help fill in the gaps.  Scott Franklin will be looking for his 3rd straight season of 100+ rbis, along with Chun-Lim Yang headline the offense but it's the pitching that the team relies upon, finishing with the 3rd best team era last season.  Pitchers Cesar Carrara and Ezdra Valdes are a big reason why, although both are struggling a little this season. 

With nearly $28M unspent yet, the Storm have some nice flexibility as they look to let the young guys continue bringing them to the playoffs, while still having the chance to be a player in the international market to continue bringing youth into their club. 

Cincinnati Bearcats
S2: 86-76 (3rd in AL North, 2nd Wildcard Spot)
Payroll: $63.6M

The Bearcats liked what they had last season enough that when seven of their players decided to test the free agency market, they managed to get three of them back into Bearcat uniforms for the start of season 3.  They also inked Harry Romero and Ryan Gordon to Cincinnati contracts to help improve their pitching staff as they watched the two teams ahead of them last year finish in the top 5 for team era.  That should help them strengthen up their bullpen as they have two very good young starting pitchers to put on the mound in Patrick Nicholson and Stubby Grabow.  They'll rely heavily on their pitching as their offense lacks power but if that's the plan it seems to be working as they currently have the 5th best team era so far in this short season.

Chicago Blue Demons
S2: 66-96 (4th in AL North)
Payroll: $69.3M

The Chicago Blue Demons were the odd team out last season as they were the only team in the AL North to be sitting on the couch watching the post-season instead of on the field.  Ten players decided to test the free agency market and owner madden0001 managed to talk five of them to resigning with the club.  Out of the other 5, 1 decided to retire when no other team showed interest and the other 4 are still sitting on their couches by the phone waiting for that call.  Quinn Klesko was brought in to help in the starting rotation as the team finished 29th in team era and Archie Turner was plucked off the waiver wire to help with the offense.  Courtney D'Amico is the bright spot on offense for the Demons and is locked in for a few more seasons.  They do have some help in the minors so we'll watch to see how their season goes.  If they keep in close we might have some call-ups that will strengthen the team.

I think this division will be a tight race in season 3 as Trenton still looks strong and I think New York and Cincinnati both improved their teams.  Tough division to call so I'll do the cop out and say they finish in the same order as last year.  I really like Cincinnati's two starting pitchers but with New York and Trenton both finishing top 5 in team era last season it's hard to compete without adding some big offense.  We'll just have to wait and see how many teams they can try and get back into the playoffs this year.