Season 19 AL Preview

7 02 2011

Welcome to another season, and another B0t Stove Season Preview. Just like every season, I make a promise to stay more vigilant about this blog. Let’s see if I finally fulfill.

Each team will be listed with highlighted changes, strengths, weaknesses, and prognostication. I will try not to short-change the NL West by getting bored with this process by the time I’m near the end.

Milwaukee Directives

Last Season: 92-70. Division Champs. AL Champs. World Champions. Seriously.

 

Changes: Milwaukee took last year’s somewhat maligned and flawed champions and made them even stronger, and much more formidable through the middle of the order. Key additions include a trio of cast-offs from the team he beat in the ALCS, Montgomery (Ed. Note – Thanks for the draft picks!). Julian Coleman, specifically, will add some extra pop in this line-up around Fedroff and Kubenka. The other free agent signings are more for depth, with several veterans signed to cheap one-year contracts.

Strengths: This team does have talent. It might not be the juggernaut teams expect out of the AL, but there are a handful of players in their line-up that would start for most teams in the league. There’s also some depth in the minors with guys like Grebek and Tavares a few seasons away. The pitching is built around ace, Che Yamada, who swears by taking Pre-Natal Vitamins. Yeah, they’re meant for women, but he says they make his hair and nails look so good. Opponent batters think those nails digging into the baseball give him an unfair edge, and are hoping the league bans pills meant for pregnant women.

Weaknesses: Despite having a World Series to his name, this team isn’t the most prepared defensively. Brantley doesn’t have the range for shortstop, which he might be asked to play, and playing a left-hander at second base really isn’t the best idea. Also, the bullpen has holes in it. Milwaukee has above average starting pitching, below average relievers. You can outscore this team.

Projection: Division championship and a bye. An uncanny healthy streak and good luck propelled this team to the title, and neither of these seems like a repeatable occurrence. They will do well, but fall short.

Toledo Tapefaces

Last Season: 83-79, Second in Division

Changes: Toledo’s two biggest moves in the offseason involved bringing in high contact bats to a lineup that already possessed some power. Calvinhydro actually acquired both Wilfredo Gonzalez and Wilfredo Lopez because a gypsy psychic told him a Wilfredo will lead him into the playoffs.

Strengths: Major league hitting and minor league pitching. There is significant power in this lineup, and they have a good shot of being in the top five in the league in runs scored, home runs, and OPS. Meanwhile, the organization possesses several top tier pitching prospects.

Weaknesses: Bradley Cooper. Defensively, there might be a few holes in the infield. But the bats in the lineup should more than make up for it. The bullpen, however, will have a tough time keeping games locked down in late innings.

Projection: This team has the talent and the ability to not just contend for their division, but also could go on a similar run as Milwaukee last season. On paper, they look like Colorado from last year who rode a high-scoring lineup to a division title. But the wealth of prospects in this system could also lead to a few in-season trades that could push them over the top.

Montreal Hollowed-Out Exoskeletons

Last Season: 69-93. Paying about $1.2m per loss.

 

Additions: A lot of stop-gap pitching. Plus Lonny Blanco’s decaying corpse.

Strengths: Payroll and Wiki Armas. Granted, the payroll isn’t always allocated well and Wiki Armas is going to be having to carry the team on his own, but we’ll get to that in the weaknesses.

Weaknesses: This is the guy that won so many championships? It’s like bret spent two dollars of change at the toy machines at his grocery store to get a few handfuls of rings. If you have a top ten pick, why keep spending a lot of money on average-to-above-average pitching when you probably should be going higher than 6/6 in amateur scouting? It’s like gin is keeping a $110m+ payroll just to spite people for thinking he knows what he’s doing. He’s really done himself a disservice by failing more than fregoe in a spelling bee. Now it looks like gin only ever won when his computer knowledge led to an exploitation of a programming glitch. He has one top level hitter, and then he overspent to fill out his lineup with mediocrity. His pitching is a collection of guys that losing teams cut because they didn’t want the salary… Montreal has subpar fielding at most positions. Subpar bats, as well. Maybe this can all be lumped into the concept of “gin not trying”, or at some point we might have to realize that he just isn’t that good.

Projection: Failure. Armas will probably be intentionally walked all season. The pitching really needs gin to micromanage for them to succeed, but it doesn’t appear he’s willing to put the thought into anything.

Cleveland Threeways

Last Season: 67-95

 

Changes: Promoted Brian May, top prospect and Glee enthusiast. May has awful taste in movies and TV, because he had no clue who Jane Lynch was before she got on that gay singing show. Other than that, though, no real movement in Cleveland.

Strengths: In the Fregoe mold, in a sense not just having sergei touch their teams, but that there are many top ten draft picks in this organization. As such, there is a lot of young talent.

Weaknesses: The talent in a lot of spots might be too young, where dmurphy might be waiting a season or two before promoting some of these guys. In a few seasons, this might be a legitimate challenger for the World Series. For the time being they’re very young with some stopgaps at a few positions, and some young players who are still developing. Also, dmurphy is prone to spells of not checking in on his team for a week or so. As if nobody has ever had both children and whatifsports teams before.

Projection: It depends on how soon dmurphy starts bringing up more of his top prospects. For the time being I think they’re good enough to hover around .500. If he decides to cash in his chips and either play to win this season or move some players to acquire ML talent, he has a shot to contend whenever he so chooses. I just doubt it’s this season.

Norfolk Southern

Last Season: 82-80; won division

Changes: Nothing. Yeah, there was a Rule V pick, but that won’t really be that important. For the time being stu is holding serve, well-aware it’s a terrible division.

Strengths: His crappy division. Some talented young players throughout his organization. Norfolk has done a good job in the IFA market, generally. There is some talent in the majors, and even more in the minors.

Weaknesses: Honestly, it’s not a complete team. The lineup has a few top bats, but also some mediocrity. The pitching has a few nice arms, albeit Villafuerte recovering from injury, but also a weak back-end of the rotation. Boring team.

Projection: They’ll win the division, mostly because it’s the worst division in the league. First round exit to a much better wild card team.

Hartford Dark Blues

Last Season: 61-101

 

Changes: Made a few trades, one of which led to him being called robusk’s bitchboy. Signed a lot of veterans off the FA market, but none of which really seem that appealing.

Strengths: Defense. Ability to annoy vandydave. Ability to buy friendship from better HBD coaches.

Weaknesses: Flunked out of college. That weirdo who lives on campus for a community college. Lineup lacks in both power and contact. Pitching lacks in control.

Projection: Probably in the 70-75 win range. Will get name-dropped in more complaining posts by other owners than will have players on the AL All-Star roster. Will bring shame to his father.

Buffalo Fat Crazy Whores

Last Season: 76-86

 

Changes: There were no free agent signings and no trades. The most significant move was the promotion of  Javy Valbuena to the Majors. He’s still quite raw and hadn’t even played a full season in the minors yet, but his off-the-chart power numbers probably motivated tracyr to this expeditious promotion.

Strengths: I guess they have some talent. Guys like Valbuena are on the roster that will put up huge numbers in a short time. Tracyr has used the draft and the IFA market to build a steady stream of ML capable players into his organization, but most of them seem to be niche players. If he can figure out a way to combine them all to best suit their skills, then he could win this division. There’s a good chance this team could sport a good defense with so many not-quite-SS gloves spread around the field.

Weaknesses: The pitching leaves something to be desired. And I’m not sold that the niche players previously mentioned will be used properly. It might take some effort on Rob’s part to make this team work, however there is some groundwork for the future.

Projection: Anywhere from 65-75 wins. Could somehow manage to steal this division if things break his way. The pendulum is swinging upwards with this franchise.

New York DANZAS

Last Season: 50-112

 

Changes: They got worse? Ugh. Nuge hadn’t logged in for the budgeting and early stages of Free Agency, and then again hasn’t logged in since January 27th. I just texted him.

Strengths: Budget flexibility. There is $45m under the cap for this franchise. Too bad there is only $4m budgeted towards the IFA market. There are some decent players in the minors, too.

Weaknesses: Talent. Effort. Also, I think you need more than 13 men on your ML roster to be effective.

Projection: It’ll be another long season unless Nuge starts trying again or I get a good replacement owner.

Montgomery Stan Rhodes Memorials

Last Season: 105-57. Best record in the league. Division champs. Lost in the ALCS.

 

Changes: Julian Coleman went elsewhere. However, Montgomery acquired three All Star caliber players in Morrie Keller, Damaso Belliard, and Tanner Miller. Combined with the trades for Calles, Chavez, and Esposito last year, a lot of the depth in the organization has been traded to create a win-now atmosphere. Veteran free agents Jake Schmidt, Christopher Frey, and Stevie Riley were signed to bolster a strong ML lineup. Onan Chang has usurped Jesus Ayala for the starting shortstop position after a venomous but shitty rap battle was used to determine the starter

Strengths: Power. They’re going to hit the shit out of the ball. Realistically could have 8 or 9 players hit 30 home runs. There will be runs scored in Montgomery. The defense is also very solid, as they seem to have enough range to cover up all the holes in the field. The pitching is improved. Keller has greatly improved the bullpen. While Sal Ross won the Fireman award last season, a lot of that was due to being placed in a favorable position. Keller is perhaps the best closer in the league. Frey and Riley will solidify the rotation, and Sam Swindell continues to deepdick AL pitchers in moderation. His inning-count will be closely monitored as usual.

Weaknesses: Sacrificed organizational depth and positional flexibility for a stronger starting lineup in the playoffs. The same things that helped win the division last year will not win it this season. So cold hitting or injuries could doom this team.

Projection: Anything less than a World Series will be a disappointment.

San Antonio Something About Artificial Sweeteners(?)
Last Season: 102-60. Wild card. Lost in ALDS.

 

Changes: Not much. Another year older. But none of the usual big ticket free agents. There was a trade, but nothing special was involved.

Strengths: As a team, there is a premium placed on batter’s eye. They’ll draw a lot of walks and see a lot of pitches. San Antonio should get plenty of guys on base, and there is a very good group of pitchers. Really, pitching and defense as a whole is this team’s strength.

Weaknesses: Not as much power as San Antonio traditionally has, but it shouldn’t be too big of a hindrance.

Projection: Playoffs, either as the division champion or a wild card team. But they have more than enough talent to be in the postseason making their usual run.

Kansas City Wok

Last Season: 87-75

 

Changes: They got older, and the window closed a little further. The only free agent signing was a rapidly aging Cole Ashley, who doesn’t have the range to play at a Gold Glove caliber any longer.

Strengths: The ability to get quality players off the IFA market has helped Kansas City for a number of years. There is a good amount of organizational depth, and the real nucleus of this team is still pretty young. While sluggers like Glen Judd and George Rollins are declining, there is a young group of players ready to challenge for playing time. There are a lot of high contact, good speed players. Should get a lot of doubles and score from first more than your usual team.

Weaknesses: Despite some organizational depth, this team desperately needs catchers. Only two in the entire organization. Either they’re not drafting that position well, or they’re just ignoring it. Hubris regarding pitching. It’s a decent pitching staff, but babypop seems convinced he can work wonders with it. With a lack of trading and free agent signings, this organization does not really bring in players to supplement what they already have. Rather than fixing a flat tire, they seem content to put a little duct tape over the hole and hope it’ll make do.

Projection: Should be in the Wild Card hunt. They seem to be fading in the division, somewhat, but there is still some chance they can make a run with this core.

Louisville Will Break Your Knees

Last Season: 84-78 PROGRESS!!1

 

Changes: Fuck. I’m getting bored. Bret spent a lot to get Morgan Dorsey. So hopefully having a starting pitcher who isn’t horseshit will get him the half dozen wins or so he needs to get into the playoffs. Also, bret is doing a lot better at this game.

Strengths: Bret is acquiring some decent depth through his organization. I don’t think he’s been raped in nearly a year. He’s acquired some solid talent that should help him get further above .500. He’s just been getting a lot of second tier players, which is good considering he’s used to fourth tier.

Weaknesses: He’s still bret. I wouldn’t be surprised if he messes it up somehow.

Projection: Contending for the final wild card spot. Seriously.

Colorado Rapids

Last Season: 96-66. Division champs. Bye. Lost in ALDS.

 

Changes: Spent a lot of money in free agency to land Dave Newhan, Jeff Witt, Catfish Bennett, and Willie Maduro.  

Strengths: Lots of power in a hitter’s park. Pitching has skewed more towards groundball pitchers, which is helpful. They play to their homefield well, and can win away as well.

Weaknesses: There are a lot of bad contracts on this team. Some might argue a few of those FA additions might have been overpriced, but when you figure in something like Roosevelt’s albatross of a contract, you have to realize this franchise is going to be a little up to the budget for a little while. The lack of budget towards amateur scouting means they are concerned with winning in the short-term. The bullpen isn’t strong. The pitchers in general seem to have a low control, so they will walk some batters.

 Projection: I think they’re better than last season, but they also out-performed last season. My guess is a similar record but a more difficult playoff opponent.

Salem Slores

Last Season: 89-73

 

Changes: Made a few trades. Got rid of Keller and Tanner to Montgomery for a decent haul of prospects. No free agent signings, though.

Strengths: There is still a lot of talent in this lineup, albeit talent that was rushed into the majors and runs the risk of serious injury. Plus, moy spent a lot of money to make sure they’re all being coached well. Now has Jizz Bomber. Very strong bullpen and front half of the rotation.

Weaknesses: Admittedly, moy isn’t trying as hard this season. He’s under the assumption this is a rebuilding year. This could change with some early success. He could pull out a blockbuster trade and reshape this franchise. Moy is impetuous like that. There’s always the chance for injury. The defense still has holes in it. moy is moy.

Projection: Contending for both the division and the Wild Card, but with a chance of collapsing into itself like a dying sun.

Albuquerque No Names

Last Season: 67-95

Changes: winepimp signed Ozzie Xiao and acquired Timo Saunders off waivers. Both should help his team, but the most significant move might be the shift from a pitcher’s park to a very friendly hitter’s park.

Strengths: Taking an already powerful team and putting them in a home run friendly ballpark seems like a recipe for some fireworks. There are several candidates for 30+ home runs on this team, and they should be able to hang with anyone in the league in terms of scoring runs.

Weaknesses: The pitching staff appears prone to walking batters, and it might not be a good idea to have men on base in that stadium. The defense is subpar. The younger players are getting rushed to the Majors, a bit, and being asked to contribute relatively quickly. There’s a chance some of their better players won’t fulfill expectations.

Projection: This team can win anywhere from 60 to 80 games, potentially more if there’s an in-season move that fortifies their lineup.

Scottsdale Diet Pill Abusers

Last Season: 78-84

 

Changes: They signed a bunch of guys, but the lack of a good training budget meant that their veterans are rapidly decaying. This team is becoming an elephant graveyard of sluggers.

Strengths: They still have some pop in their bats. They can still put up runs on anyone.

Weaknesses: They’re all breaking down. Steve Thomas is withering away. Dan Johnson is losing movement in his extremities. Fregoe isn’t totally committed to rebuilding his franchise, either in part to loss aversion or being afraid of tanking allegations again. He should have started selling off guys a few seasons ago, but instead he let them get older and worse, and took on more contracts of players he won’t be able to keep healthy.

Projection: It’d take a lot of luck for this team to stay healthy. Right now, I find it hard to believe that they could win more than 70 games.

Advertisements

Actions

Information

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: