Saturday, December 10, 2011

AL East Season 19 Team Previews

As I embark on this the 9th installment of the AL East Preview, I reflect back on the past seasons and try to remember the good times that has been my tenure in the Jersey League AL East. I have developed good rivalries with 2 of my fellow AL Easterners (larr100 and bball10), as well as a (hopefully) mutual respect for other AL teams (I still hate the AL West, but for respectful reasons). Here are your Season 19 AL East teams at a glance:

Wichita Wolves

Owner: awilley14 (1st Season)

Franchise History: (1,435-1,491, 6 Playoff Appearances, 6 Division Titles, 1 American League Championship)

Season 18 Recap:

Record: 35-127 (4th Place, 62 GB)

BA / OBP / SLG: .267 / .334 / .422

R / HR / RBI / SB: 774 / 176 / 756 / 151

ERA / WHIP / SO: 8.66 / 2.06 / 867

Fld % / CS %: .974 / .256

Napoleon D'Amico, SS (Free Agent from Kansas City)
Johnny McClain, SP (Free Agent from Norfolk)
Ira Harper, CF (Claimed Off Waivers from Trenton)
Rafael Navarro, LF (Claimed Off Waivers from Trenton)
Brent Maurer, C (Free Agent from Syracuse)
Vince Baker, RP (Claimed Off Waivers from Texas)
Eduardo Miranda, 2B (Free Agent from Ottawa)
Don Nady, RP (Rule V from Dover)
Darwin Stynes, RP (Rule V from Tacoma)
Caleb Hoes, 2B (Rule V from Houston)
Alex Johns, C (Claimed off Waivers from St. Louis)

Raymond Reese, RP (Free Agency)
Richard Withem, 1B/DH (Free Agency)
Frank Bates, 2B (Claimed Off Waivers)

UGH! Just 2 seasons ago, this team was a perennial contender for the AL East Crown. I was fortunate (sometimes lucky) to beat them out in the end. A good offensive club that seemed to lack just a piece or 2 on the pitching side, it seemed that it was only a matter of time before this team would be taking its turn in the postseason. But the disappearance of piratestros, plus the non-involvement of theo_epstein, and this team has fallen to the ranks of major rebuild in no time. New owner awilley14 (who isn't really that new, as he was in the league during Seasons 1-2 overseeing the current Norfolk franchise and took over for psanders club last season) has been busy, to say the least. On offense, this team still has some very formidable parts. Dan Blank and Osvaldo Montero return, and have a new supporting cast of support, led by the signing of D'Amico and Harper. On the pitching side, awilley14 made sure to bring back SP J.P. Henriquez in hopes of being competitive in the East. When all is said and done, I have no doubt that Wichita will improve on the 35 wins from last season. And, as active as awilley14 has been (and continues to be), it wouldn't surprise me to see this team back in the division hunt as early as next season.

Philadelphia Phillies

Owner: bball10 (10th Season, 568-890, 0 Playoff Appearances)

Franchise History: (1,207-1,709, 1 Playoff Appearance, 0 Division Titles)

Season 18 Recap:

Record: 58-104 (3rd Place, 39 GB)

BA / OBP / SLG: .260 / .324 / .420

R / HR / RBI / SB: 763 / 219 / 744 / 109

ERA / WHIP / SO: 5.48 / 1.54 / 1,043

Fld % / CS %: .975 / .299

Wayne Doyle, SS (Promoted from AAA)
Lucas Tanner, SP (Promoted from AAA)
Steven Ross, SP (Rule V from Houston)
Julio Matos, 3B (Promoted from AAA)
Julian Domingo, RP (Claimed Off Waivers from Richmond)
Kennie Jenkins, RP (Free Agency from Tucson)
Donn Fuller, RP (Free Agency from Helena)

Lew Runyan, RP (Free Agency)
Edgardo Santana, RP (Released/Retired)

I can see why bball10 was so anxious to see the AL East Preview for this year. The Youth Movement has arrived in Philly! After selling off most of the team the last 2 seasons, we are finally starting to see some of the talented youth that has been claimed via IFA and the draft over the last few seasons from this ball club. This is most noticeable on the offense, where Woody Ganzel is now joined by Matos and Doyle. Team that up with Aaron Dolan, and you have a very solid infield (offensively). On the pitching side, they focused on bullpen help in the free agent market. This team is young, cheap (under $42M with a $67M payroll budgeted, so you can expect another huge IFA signing this season), and the future looks promising for Philly. We will see if the youth movement will be enough to close the 39 game gap between them and Norfolk, but I know it won't make it worse.

Pittsburgh sluggers

Owner: larr100 (12th Season, 834-948, 2 Playoff Appearance, 2 Division Title)

Franchise History: 1,437-1,479, 5 Playoff Appearances, 3 Division Titles)

Season 18 Recap:

Record: 76-86 (2nd Place, 21 GB)

BA / OBP / SLG: .263 / .342 / .430

R / HR / RBI / SB: 833 / 214 / 802 / 114

ERA / WHIP / SO: 4.69 / 1.44 / 1,070

Fld % / CS %: .980 / .339

Alving Vazquez, 3B (Traded from Boise)
Jeromy Olmos, SS (Free Agent from Tampa Bay)
Steve Ruffin, C (Claimed off Waivers from Texas)
Ivy Mullaney, SP (Free Agent from Seattle)
Felipe Montero, CF (Free Agent from Boise)
Terry Perry, RP (Promoted from AAA)

Doc Cox, RP (Released)
Anthony Ducati, 1B (Released)
David Moreno, 3B (Released)
Al Perez, SS (Released)
Ryan Nicholas, C (Released)

I can't put my finger on why this team didn't do better than the record indicates. They still had the same team that won the division in Season 17. Statistically, they were about even (although ERA did jump up a little last season). That's what makes this game so loopy sometimes. You can be better than the season before, and end up lower in the standings. This team still has great pitching, led by All-Star Pedro Tavarez. They did become active on the offensive side, hoping to find the right combination of players to excel this team to the next level. After Tavarez, the pitching needs to step up in order to re-claim the top spot in the AL East.

Norfolk Phanatics

Owner: ratatat72 (12th Season, 908-854, 9 Playoff Appearances, 7 Division Titles)

Franchise History: (1,424-1,492, 11 Playoff Appearances, 9 Division Titles)

Season 18 Recap:

Record: 97-65 (1st Place, Lost to Iowa City in the Division Play-in Series, 3-2)

BA / OBP / SLG: .279 / .346 / .445

R / HR / RBI / SB: 893 / 227 / 869 / 192

ERA / WHIP / SO: 4.26 / 1.39 / 1,021

Fld % / CS %: .986 / .198

Brian Brown, 3B (Promoted from AAA)
Julio Martinez, 2B (Promoted from AAA)
Sam Bishop, RP (Free Agent from Scranton)
Rico Wilfredo, 1B/DH (Free Agent from Tucson)
Tony Alonso, SS (Free Agent from St. Louis)
Danys Veras, RP (Free Agent from St. Louis)

Johnny McClain, RP (Free Agency)
Mateo Flores, 3B (Free Agency)
Derek Hughes, 2B (Free Agency)
Ross Hart, LF (Free Agency)
Nick Shipley, RP (Free Agency)
Felipe Arroyo, RP (Free Agency)
Dion Hundley, 1B (Free Agency)
Gary Garcia, SP (Released)

After breaking a streak of 4 consecutive AL East crowns last season, Norfolk returned to claim the throne outright last season. And, in true fashion, they proceed to get manhandled by yet another AL West foe in the playoffs. After finishing with the best record in the regular season for this franchise, they left the season with a bitter taste in their mouth. The offseason wasn't too kind either, as the Phanatic faithful watched as many regulars had to depart due to contract demands. They got a bigger scare when ace Brett Henry declined his option and tested free agency. ratatat72 made priority #1 be the re-signing of Brett Henry. After that fell into place (a BIG sigh of relief was felt in the Virginia Bay area when that happened), they then turned to addressing other holes needed to be filled. Although no big deal was made (the signing of Wilfredo was the biggest offensive splash they invested), this team continues to plug-and-play in hopes to remain competitive for another season.

No comments: