Monday, February 17, 2014

Previews S16

New York Highlanders
The Highlanders look to rebound this year on the backs of some solid veterans that will be with the team for a full year, some expected improvement from some of their young stars and with the addition of a couple of key pitchers to the starting rotation. Carlos Jimenez at 3b and Ceasr Olivo (moving to CF) will be with the team for a full year and (along with vet Bryan Glynn in LF) should provide both solid offense and defense for the squad. Big years are expected of all 3. Blossoming young stars such as Houston Anderson (1B), Javier Martinez (2B) and Jeanmar Chavez (RF) provide a combination of speed and power that should make for a very potent Highlander lineup. The SS duties will be shared by Alex Posada and slick fielding rookie Matt Green. The starting rotation will be centered upon emerging stars Karl Barfield and Carson Gardner who will benefit by the FA additions of Brett Parish, Malcom Wright and Nigel Cho. The ever-steady gene Marshall will be around as usual as an excellent spot starter or long relief man. The bullpen may be a work in progress, but the Highlanders should have enough talent to make some noise in their division this year over and above the booing we heard from the stands last year.

Charleston River Dogs
The River Dogs primary goal will be win the NL East for the 3rd season in a row and hopefully earn a first round bye. We are one of the top hitting teams in world, but were only average in team pitching and fielding. We think our pitching under performed slightly. Fielding probably won't get much better as we sacrifice some fielding to get the best bats on the field.

Former first round pick Ken Small will be promoted this season to be our backup C and spot starter since Canseco doesn't have great durability. Milton Lankford will also be promoted to help anchor one of the top bullpens in the world. Former 1st round pick, Henderson Rodgers, was acquired for former International Bonus Baby Kevin Nakijima. Our SP is pretty loaded right now so even though he has ML experience, he might spend another season at AAA.

Anaheim Knights
Too bad underperforming is not a medal event. If it were, the LAA would have won gold last season. Two pitchers and three position players with a history of Major League quality performances had seasons so dismal that they had to wash their own uniforms. Was that an aberration? Were they exposed for what they really are? The bad news is that no major changes were made. On paper, the LAA should compete for a playoff spot. Though not top notch, it is no stretch that the LAA are second notch.

Philadelphia Freedom
The makeover of the Philadelphia Freedom continues this season. Most of the bad contracts have expired and the youth movement moves forward. The free agent period was spent on upgrading the pitching and left the lineup pretty well in tact. Rule 5 selections Gio Gonzales and Domingo Rosado join holdovers Esteban Perez, Dante Cummack, Lonnie Tice and the Mercado Brothers (Pasqual & Maicer) in an upgraded defense. Prospects Don Antonelli, Del Kondou & Malachi Bowker are all scheduled to make their ML debut and boost the lineup. The pitching staff continues to change as FA’s Allen Seaver & Wille Lamb join holdovers Kory Mathews & Sherm Larson and Rule 5 selection Davey Rosa in an upgraded rotation. FA additions Jesus Rondon, Victor Lunar & Justin Ross join Henderson Davenport and Ted Farrell in an attempt to bolster the bullpen. Look for Domingo Prado and Julian Estrada to join the pitching staff at some point during the season. The Freedom expect improvement this season with an outside chance of playoff contention.

Richmond Rebels
Hoping for a bounce back season from several guys this year. Admittedly we over-performed in season 14, but I did not expect to regress by 20 wins after adding a HOF SP1 in Estalella. He was a principal culprit for our down season, as his 4.24 ERA was 1.5 runs higher than his career average and was his worst season by a mile.

Some positive regression from him will help greatly, as will some expected improvement from my sp2, Luis Cortes. His rookie season could only be described as a disaster - 7-13, 5.42 ERA. HIs ratings would lead me to believe he's a much better pitcher than that.

The big move in the offseason was to move Cervelli, my long time CF masher, for a prospect. Risky move, since I've long counted on his 40+ homers and GG defense in center, but its about time for age to catch up with him so I opted to move him.

I'm probably holding on too long to avoid a rebuild, and if things start the same as they did last year I will probably give in and look to move some of the vets.

Jackson Mallards
Let's just say it's a rebuilding year & leave it at that... :-/

Louisville Steamboats
The Steamboats franchise is a franchise in transition. Moving towards a building from within philosophy, the Steamboats placed themselves in the unfortunate position of having to go 64-98 to avoid 200 losses in 2 seasons to stay off of probation. This team was pathetic last season. Couldn’t pitch, couldn’t knock in any runs, and definitely was not good in the field. We added 3 pitchers to take over the top spots in the rotation as well as fielding 7 new starting position players. In fact, only 9 players return from last season’s team. The pitching staff should be much improved, but the offensive side of things is going to be a tough situation.

Chicago Black Sox
We're looking to break the streak of 3rd place finishes in the tough AL North. With the additions of FA Andres Santos & the arrival of Rolando Cordero & Paterson Buck, we hope to do not just that, but win the darn thing this year. We should have the right mix of veterans and young stars to make some noise this year as long as the starting pitching holds up.

Arizona Firebirds
Arizona is coming off a disappointing 79 win season, but has an interesting mix of young power hitters and veteran arms. I made a number of deals to bolster the team, including one to acquire a good leadoff hitter in Dario Rath and other deals and signings to acquire additional pitching. Arizona hopes to contend for a playoff spot if my veteran pitchers don't fade on me.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

World Series Preview

#1 Seattle Redhooks (99 – 63) vs #2 New Orleans Zydeco (96 – 66)

How they got here.

Seattle – After Seattle’s first round be they went and swept a very good New Britain team. In the American League Championship series Seattle beat a good Florida team in 6 games. Now as they take on New Orleans one has to wonder if there continued poor post season hitting will come back to haunt them.

New Orleans – After a first round bye New Orleans came out and they swept Atlanta in the 2nd round. New Orleans appeared to be overmatched in the National League Championship series as they dropped the first three games. Then New Orleans pulled off the unthinkable breaking the hearts of fans throughout Ottawa as they decisively won Game 7 to move onto the World Series.

Tale of the Tape

#1 Seattle Redhooks (99 – 63)

Regular Season>

Offensively Seattle hit .266 for the season as a team which put them above the combined League average of .256. The team ERA for the season was 3.44 which was the best of both Leagues and well below the combined League ERA average of 4.14

Post Season

Offensively Seattle has been terrible in the Post Season hitting a paltry .223, 3rd worst in the entire post season. On the other end of the spectrum is the pitching as Seattle brings in the best Post Season ERA at 1.78.

#2 New Orleans Zydeco (96 – 66)

Regular Season Offensively New Orleans hit .258 for the season which put them slightly above the combined League Average of .256. The team ERA for the season was 3.67 which was below the combined League ERA average of 4.14.

Post Season

Offensively New Orleans is hitting .251 which isn’t too far removed from their regular season average. The team ERA for the Post Season is a respectable 3.60.

Edge: New Orleans. Yes, I realize that I’m going against my belief that pitching is what wins the in play offs. Seattle is living proof of that concept but their meager batting average throughout the playoffs is my biggest concern. Can their bats wake up and finally compliment their awesome post season pitching staff and if not can their pitching staff continue to pitch them to victory? I’ve got to believe that if their bats can’t wake up then New Orleans will take the series.

New Orleans on the other hand just came back from an 0-3 deficit to get here which didn’t do any favors for the fatigue that the team has been dealing with. If New Orleans can continue to hit and their pitching staff can pitch like they did the last 4 games they have a solid shot of taking the series. New Orleans has to avoid poor start to the series because should they go down 0-2 or even 0-3 and Seattle finds a way to start hitting and magic in New Orleans may come to abrupt end.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

National League Championship Series

#1 Ottawa Outlaws (99 – 63) vs #2 New Orleans Zydeco (96 – 66)

How they got here.

Ottawa – After a first round bye that collective sigh of relief you heard around the baseball world was Ottawa’s fans after being taken to 5 games by Los Angeles. Ottawa went up 2 games to nothing and all appeared to be well in hand and then Los Angeles stormed back winning the next 2 games forcing the 5th and decisive game 5 which Ottawa won 3-2 to move on to the League Championship.

New Orleans – After a first round bye they swept Atlanta in the 2nd round giving their players much needed extra rest. I thought fatigue might be an issue in that series but New Orleans won each game by at least 2 runs.

Tale of the Tape

#1 Ottawa Outlaws (99 - 63)

Offensively Ottawa hit a National League leading .273 for the season as a team. The team ERA for the season was tied for the National League lead at 3.46

#2 New Orleans Zydeco (96 – 66)

Offensively New Orleans hit .258 for the season which put them above the National League Average of .253. The team ERA for the season was 3.67 which was below the National League ERA average of 4.01.

Edge: Ottawa. This team was the best hitting team in the league and tied with LA for the league in team ERA. How can you pick against that? I can’t in good faith but I wouldn’t be surprised if New Orleans finds a way to win the series. I think this could be a series for the ages with a lot of close games and in the end one fan base will be heartbroken while the other moves on to the World Series.

American League Championship Series Preview

#1 Seattle Redhooks (99 – 63) vs #3 Florida Tropics (94 – 68)

How they got here.

Seattle – Seattle had a first round bye. In the second round they had a surprising sweep of a very good New Britain team and made it look easy in the process as none of the games were decided by less than 2 runs.

Florida – Florida breezed through the first round with a sweep of Colorado. In the second round they took care of Syracuse in 4 games rattling off 3 straight wins after dropping the first game.

Tale of the Tape

#1 Seattle Redhooks (99 – 63)

Offensively Seattle hit .266 for the season as a team which put them above the American League average of .260. The team ERA for the season was 3.44 which was the best in the American League and well below the League ERA average of 4.28

#3 Florida Tropics (94 – 68)

Offensively Florida hit .260 for the season which put them right at the American League Average. The team ERA for the season was 3.66 which was below the American League ERA average of 4.28.

Edge: Seattle – Both teams are well rounded and evenly matched. The beauty of a 7 game series is that anything can happen and that is sure to be the case in this series. During the regular season Seattle only finished 4-6 in head to head match ups against Florida. Florida has been extremely hot during the play offs but I’m still a firm believer that pitching, with timely hitting, wins in the playoffs and I think at the end of the day Seattle’s pitching puts them over the top. Would I be surprised if Florida came away the winner of the series? Not at all because if the playoffs have shown anything, it's that regular reason records are not indicative of playoff success.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

National League 2nd Round Preview

#1 Ottawa Outlaws (99 – 63) vs #4 Los Angeles Entertainers (84 – 78)

After a first round bye Ottawa takes on Los Angeles who won their series in 4 games. Los Angeles now gets the task of facing the best team in the National League.

Tale of the Tape

#1 Ottawa Outlaws (99 - 63)

Offensively Ottawa hit a National League leading .273 for the season as a team. The team ERA for the season was tied for the National League lead at 3.46

#4 Los Angeles Entertainers (84 – 78)

Offensively Los Angeles hit .254 for the season as a team which put them slightly over the National League average of .253. The team ERA for the season was tied for the National League lead at 3.46

Edge: Ottawa. This team was the best hitting team in the league and tied with LA for the league in team ERA so it’s hard to pick against them. Los Angeles has a chance in the series because they do pitch so well but they’re going to have to figure out how take a game or two from Ottawa on the road and not give up any more than a game at home.



#2 New Orleans Zydeco (96 – 66) vs #6 Atlanta Peaches (92 – 70)

New Orleans got to rest up during the first round and take on an Atlanta team that won their series in a 5 game dramatic series. New Orleans certainly needed the rest and still face some fatigue issues which could work in Atlanta’s favor

Tale of the Tape

#2 New Orleans Zydeco (96 – 66)

Offensively New Orleans hit .258 for the season which put them above the National League Average of .253. The team ERA for the season was 3.67 which was below the National League ERA average of 4.01.

#6 Atlanta Peaches (92 – 70)

Offensively Atlanta hit .256 as a team which is slightly above the National League average of .253. The team ERA was 3.64 which is under the National League average of 4.01.

Edge: Atlanta – Atlanta was a slightly better pitching team during the regular season but not enough to give them a clear cut advantage. I think Atlanta’s biggest advantage is that they aren’t facing some of the fatigue issues that face New Orleans. I think Atlanta will extend the series to the point that New Orleans fatigue issues could decide the series.

American League 2nd Round Preview

#1 Seattle Redhooks (99 – 63) vs #5 New Britain Rock Cats (95 – 67)

After a first round bye Seattle gets New Britain in the second round. New Britain had to go 5 games to get past El Paso after dropping the first 2 games so can they carry that momentum in against Seattle.

Tale of the Tape

#1 Seattle Redhooks (99 – 63)

Offensively Seattle hit .266 for the season as a team which put them above the American League average of .260. The team ERA for the season was 3.44 which was the best in the American League and well below the League ERA average of 4.28

#5 New Britain Rock Cats (95 – 67)

Offensively New Britain hit .264 for the season as a team which put them slightly over the American League average of .260. The team ERA for the season was 3.79 which was below the American League ERA average of 4.28

Edge: Seattle – While both teams hit well and pitch well, Seattle did both better during the regular season and it’s hard to pick against the team that lead the league in team ERA. One thing New Britain did prove is that even with faced with elimination they will not quit and go quietly. The biggest concern for New Britain is will there be a letdown after their dramatic series come back or can they use that momentum to propel them to the Conference Championship.



#2 Syracuse Orange (99 – 63) vs #3 Florida Tropics (94 – 68)

Syracuse had a first round bye and now take on Florida, who swept their way into the second round. Both teams won 90 plus games and neither team has a glaring weakness.

Tale of the Tape

#2 Syracuse Orange (99 – 63)

Offensively Syracuse hit .264 for the season which put them right at the American League Average. The team ERA for the season was 3.87 which was below the American League ERA average of 4.28.

#3 Florida Tropics (94 – 68)

Offensively Florida hit .260 for the season which put them right at the American League Average. The team ERA for the season was 3.66 which was below the American League ERA average of 4.28.

Edge: Syracuse Orange – It’s hard to pick against a 99 win team who does everything so well and tied for the League lead in wins. Florida has a well-rounded team so it’s not going to be a cake walk for Syracuse but I think the edge for Syracuse is how well they play at home as well as the road.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

National League 1st Round Preview

#4 Los Angeles Entertainers (84 – 78) vs #5 Cleveland Force (92 – 70)

This is an interesting matchup as neither team has much playoff experience. This is the first time since season 3 that LA has made a post season while Cleveland did make the post season just 2 seasons ago.

Tale of the Tape

#4 Los Angeles Entertainers (84 – 78)

Offensively Los Angeles hit .254 for the season as a team which put them slightly over the National League average of .253. The team ERA for the season was tied for the National League lead at 3.46

#5 Cleveland Force (92 – 70)

Offensively Cleveland hit .256 for the season as a team which put them slightly over the National League average of .253. The team ERA for the season was 3.77 which was below the National League ERA average of 4.01

Edge: Los Angeles. I'm going with the team that has better pitching even though Cleveland took the regular season series 6-4. Both teams hit about the same during the season but the pitching edge has to go to LA and I think in a short playoff where the majority of the games are going to be pitcher friendly LA, they move on to the second round.



#3 Charleston River Dogs (93 – 69) vs #6 Atlanta Peaches (92 – 70)

Both teams come into this series with playoff experience and nearly identical records. Neither team has a glaring advantage or disadvantage.

Tale of the Tape

#3 Charleston River Dogs (93 – 69)

Offensively Charleston hit .269 for the season which put them well above the National League Average of .253. The team ERA for the season was 3.99 which was a shade below the National League ERA average of 4.01.

#6 Atlanta Peaches (92 – 70)

Offensively Atlanta hit .256 as a team which is slightly above the National League average of .253. The team ERA was 3.64 which is under the National League average of 4.01.

Edge: Charleston – Both teams went 5-5 in head to head regular season play. Charleston has the advantage in that they were the second best home team in the NL. Combine that with solid pitching and their hitters and I think that’ll be enough to get them into the second round.