Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Jersey League Season 14 -- AL East Preview

It's just about that time of the season again -- I dust off my journalistic editorial hat, put it on (still feels nice), and once again try and summarize the doings (and un-doings) of what transpired over the off-season in preparation for the upcoming season. I am proud to announce that we have the same group of owners for the past 5 seasons, and some rivalries are starting to flourish. With that said, I present to you my Season 14 AL East Preview. As always, I will report in reverse order of previous Season finish. Enjoy!

Philadelphia Phillies

Owner: bball10 (5th Season, 241-407, 0 Playoff Appearances)

Franchise History: (880-1,226, 1 Playoff Appearance, 0 Division Titles)

Season 13 Recap:

Record: 65-97 (4th Place, 29 GB)

BA / OBP / SLG: .272 / .334 / .418

R / HR / RBI / SB: 845 / 189 / 819 / 212

ERA / WHIP / SO: 5.88 / 1.62 / 1,011

Fld % / CS %: .980 / .183

R.J. Benitez, 1B (Promoted)
Raul Candelaria, C (Promoted)
Micah Russell, SS (Promoted)
Graham Mitchell, SP (Free Agency from Oklahoma City)
Jumbo Guerrero, IF (Free Agency from Atlanta)
Julio Rincon, SP (Free Agency from Houston)

Vladimir Hernandez, 2B (Free Agency)
Walt King, SS (Free Agency)
Russ Schneider, SP (Free Agency)
Curtis Graham, RF (Free Agency)
John Wang, RP (Free Agency)
Luis Estrada, C (Free Agency)
John Manning, SP (Released)
Eduardo Miranda, CF (Released)

Philadelphia fans seem to be abuzz over the offseason moves that bball10 has executed for this season. The fact that they had the most successful season under his tenure (albeit only 65 wins, but still an improvement nonetheless) coupled with the influx of young talent that has been instilled into the Major League roster. R. J. Benitez and Raul Candelaria should offset the loss of Estrada and Graham, and although losing Miranda and Hernandez will be a big loss in speed on the basepaths, Philly hopes to regain some of that with the callup of Micah Russell. They improved in every major category listed above from previous season, with the exception of Caught Stealing, where they ranked 29th in the Major Leagues last season. Personally, I like that they were so active in the offseason. Bball10 realizes that his team needs to improve, yet they didn't go nuts and sign any high contracts to do so. With that in mind, they will need to make great strides in pitching to be competitive in the East this season.

Pittsburgh sluggers

Owner: larr100 (7th Season, 447-525, 1 Playoff Appearance, 1 Division Title)

Franchise History: 1,050-1,056, 4 Playoff Appearances, 2 Division Titles)

Season 13 Recap:
Record: 79-83 (3rd Place, 15 GB)

BA / OBP / SLG: .271 / .337 / .458

R / HR / RBI / SB: 860 / 247 / 837 / 136

ERA / WHIP / SO: 4.93 / 1.48 / 947

Fld % / CS %: .982 / .253

Mark Woo, RP (Free Agency from Rochester)
Bryan Ross, SP (Free Agency from Iowa City)

Max Winchester, SP (Free Agency)

Pittsburgh had a good rebound last season, improving 14 games. With that said, I was a little surprised to see that they weren't a little more aggressive in the market to continue the momentum from last season. However, they did pick up 2 good pieces to their pitching. Woo has closer experience and can come in and take over should Brian Morgan falter. Bryan Ross will definitely help the rotation led by All-Star Pedro Tavarez. On offense, it is status quo for the Sluggers. They were able to produce more runs in Season 13, despite hitting less Home Runs compared to Season 12. I give this team a decent chance of coming out on top in the East this year.

New York Mutuals

Owner: piratestros (6th Season, 383-427, 2 Playoff Appearances, 2 Division Titles)

Franchise History: (1,073-1,033, 6 Playoff Appearances, 6 Division Titles, 1 American League Championship)

Season 13 Recap:

Record: 82-80 (2nd Place, 12 GB)

BA / OBP / SLG: .281 / .355 / .434

R / HR / RBI / SB: 938 / 185 / 904 / 330

ERA / WHIP / SO: 5.14 / 1.54 / 1,120

Fld % / CS %: .978 / .304

Kevin Simpson, SP (Free Agency from Trenton)
Fausto Pineda, SP (Traded from Honolulu)
J.P. Henriquez, SP (Free Agency from Honolulu)

Harry Johnson, IF (Released)
Brian Sanders, RP (Free Agency)
Alex Dunham, RP (Free Agency)
Louis Collier, C (Free Agency)
Pablo Trajano, RP (Free Agency)
Karim DaSilva, SP (Team Declined Option)
Vitas Quinn, RF (Team Declined Option)
Geoffery Kelly, IF (Released)
T.J. Richardson, 1B (Released)

As all other teams in the East saw improvement from the previous season, New York did not share the same team success. Despite some improvement in getting on base offensively, the pitching took a step backwards, and that ultimately led to New York's season disappointment. Piratestros, not to be outdone by any Steinbrenner family, went out and made some big waves in the FA, signing J. P. Henriquez to bolster the rotation. Henriquez will replace the spot left by Karim Silva, who became a free agent when New York declined his option for the final year of his contract. Offensively, this team will still steal their way to victories, as they led the Majors in Stolen Bases for the 5th consecutive year. Piratestros keeps boasting that their defense is improved. That is still yet to be determined.

Norfolk Phanatics

Owner: ratatat72 (7th Season, 474-498, 4 Playoff Appearances, 3 Division Titles)

Franchise History: (970-1,136, 6 Playoff Appearances, 5 Division Titles)

Season 13 Recap:

Record: 94-68 (1st Place, Lost to Iowa City in the Division Play-in Series, 3-0)

BA / OBP / SLG: .275 / .345 / .435

R / HR / RBI / SB: 891 / 214 / 859 / 216

ERA / WHIP / SO: 4.20 / 1.35 / 1,067

Fld % / CS %: .987 / .269

Michael Norman, SS (Promoted)

Malcolm Cornelius, 1B (Free Agency)
Roosevelt Hernandez, DH (Free Agency)
Dallas Pratt, RP (Free Agency)
Steve Oliver, RF (Released)

As owner ratatat72 enters his 7th season, he had to be proud of Norfolk's turnaround from the previous season. Every pitching category that was so abysmal in Season 12 became a strongpoint in Season 13. With that said, it is hard to see what Season 14 holds for Norfolk. They did add depth with their SP by adding Kenny Graham and Les Turner off waivers last season during the playoff push. Offensively, Bucky Gates and Mateo Flores continue to field the middle and will do so for a while, as both signed long-term deals this offseason to avoid arbitration. Losing Oliver hurts their ability to have a speedy guy at the bottom of the order, but rookie Michael Norman looks to take over RF, so shouldn't be too much of a drop in the batting order. Overall, this team can win again, but will need to see the same pitching success to do so. Hopefully, not too many players had career years last season.

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