Tuesday, July 21, 2015

S34 NL Preview


A division that produced the NL representative in the World Series looks to add to the win totals of the other 4 members.  Chicago missed out on the playoffs by 3 games and had to watch as the NL West sent a team with 73 wins, this did not sit well with langer1979 who re-tooled in the off-season.  Milwaukee had little off-season movement and plans to add to their 71 wins with the development of the players in house.  Detroit, formerly Cincinnati, is in rebuild mode but made several moves in the off-season to improve their win total.  Chicago is close, but Fargo has a bad taste in their mouth and this division still runs through them.

Fargo Marlboro Men (S33 Record 92-70 **Division Champs**  ***National League Champions***)
State of Franchise:  Contending
Additions:  Bernie Hughes
Subtractions:  Sammy Moustakas and Rocky Bundy
Projected Rookie Call-Ups:  none

Notes:  Fargo was able to avoid the sweep in the World Series, but a 4-1 Series lost hurts just as bad.  Season 34 could see more W's in the column for Fargo despite  the defection of SP Sammy Moustakas to Tacoma and set-up man Rocky Bundy moving over to division rival Detroit.  Bernie Hughes was brought in on a 4 year / $13mil deal, which capped the Marlboro Men out at $92.3mil payroll heading into S34 leaving them with around $6mil to sign draft picks.  The time is now and a return to the Series is in googooman's sights.

Chicago Blagos (S33 Record 90-72)
State of Franchise:  Contending
Additions:  Jose Zurbaran, Rob Sanders, Reagan Anderson, Neil Moreno, Victor Estrada, Gerardo Lopez
Subtractions:  Osvaldo Castillo, Bryan Joseph, Ollie StechschulteEarl SchwartzSanto Cerda
Projected Rookie Call-Ups:  Julio Perez

Notes:  90 wins was not enough for the Blagos to reach the post season in a tough NL.  Chicago shipped max-contract SP Santo Cerda and RP Earl Schwartz to Colorado for SPs Victor Estrada and Gerardo Lopez in the off-season.  Can these two fill the holes left by Cerda?  Maybe not but langer1979 took the cap space vacated by Cerda and made  successful runs at several key free-agents and kept Esteban Guapo in house.  The #8 overall ranked FA Rob Sanders (type B) headlines Chicago's class with a 4 year / $34.5mil deal.  A lot of moving parts in Chicago this off-season, hard to know how it will all work together, but be sure that Fargo will feel pressure from the north side.

Milwaukee Boomers (S33 Record 71-91)
State of Franchise:  Almost There
Additions:  Domingo Esposito
Subtractions:  Miguel Villafuerte
Projected Rookie Call-Ups:  none

Notes:  Things are on the way up in Milwaukee although this may be a year early in a tough division.  The Boomers could build off a 71 win season with a successful S34 from Robin Walter, the 2nd year man had a .283/.340/.504/.844 stat line in his rookie campaign with 34 homers in 162 games.  Walt 'Have a Cold' Bruske will look to bounce back from a rough rookie season where he carried a 5.29 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP.  Staff Ace, Elrod Lankford, will have to improve upon a 12-14 record last season to give the Boomers a shot at a Wild Card.  A quiet off-season will make for an interesting battle as Detroit is much improved.  The time-frame for Milwaukee could match up nicely with impending rebuilds for Fargo and Chicago.  Their time may not be now, but it's coming.

Detroit Chippewas (S33 Record 55-107)
State of Franchise:  Rebuilding
Additions:  Javier Padilla, Pepe Ordaz, Miguel Villafuerte, Artie Reagan, Tony Farnsworth, Rocky Bundy, Yunesky Sosa, Torey Chambers
Subtractions:  Felipe Felix, Tony Fernandez, Raph Guthrie, Jolbert Amaral, Pedro Paniagua
Projected Rookie Call-Ups:  none

Notes:  Detroit is under new ownership and coming off a 107 loss season, jkenned has accepted the rebuilding challenge.  Much like Milwakee, there will be a window coming as Chicago and Fargo could find themselves under construction in the next 4 seasons.  Smart drafting and value FAs could propel The Chippewas into contention sooner than many anticipate.  Pepe Ordaz could prove to be a perfect example of that, he was inked to a 1 yr / $1.6mil deal.  Ordaz holds a career OBP of .368 and guys that get on base tend to score frequently.  Although Type A compensation was given to add RP Rocky Bundy, jkenned will have the #3 pick in the draft and Delanor Melville to dangle at the trade deadline.  In addition, jkenned will work with $25mil in the international market and draft.  Detroit could be quick in turning it around, but it may not be painless.


The NL East has had the same division champion for 9 seasons and while Pittsburgh and DC have made improvements in the past, it has not been enough.  Pittsburgh lost some key players to FA, but was able to hold onto others and could be poised to take over the top spot if the Nightmare slip up.  The Senators were another team with a quiet off-season and are banking on in-house development to improve on 89 wins, their best record since S6.  Philadelphia, with 2nd year owner stonewalter, made one of the biggest FA splashes and could climb out of the cellar if the division comes back to them.  99 wins didn't get Pittsburgh the division crown, but justice was finally served as Pitt sent the Nightmare packing in the 2nd round.  It looks like a two team race again unless DC or Philly can surprise.

Louisville Nightmare (S33 Record 107-55 **Division Champs**)

State of Franchise:  Contending
Additions:  Eric StricklandRaph Guthrie
Subtractions:  Bernie Hughes, Joba Ziegler
Projected Rookie Call-Ups:  Johnnie Dolan, Darby Wieland

Notes:  Joba Ziegler had been a staple for this franchise behind the plate for multiple seasons, he's out.  Enter Ralph Guthrie, aquired via trade from Detroit.  Guthrie will take over the job of handling one of the top rotations in the league (3.28 team ERA, tops in the world) and will do so with the added task of playing in a hitter friendly ballpark.  The Nightmare added arbitration casualty Eric Strickland to round out a rotation lead by Cy Young winners Ossie Diaz and Ish Martin.  The switch hitting tandom of David Sisk and reigning MVP Geoff Cunningham should build on outstanding S33 numbers with the ball park change.  107 wins probably isn't obtainable anymore but the 10th consecutive division crown looks like a decent bet with the personnel loses in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh Appalachians (S33 Record 99-63 *NL Wild Card*)
State of Franchise:  Contending
Additions:  Domingo Molina, Ellie Gant, Alfonso Bastardo, Cam Moustakas, Delino Osuna, Nick Beech
Subtractions:  Alex Callaspo, Wellington Rijo, Joe Cooper
Projected Rookie Call-Ups:

Notes:  Owner habslmets had to be thinking when it would end.  99 wins couldn't do it, but revenge was sweet in the playoffs.  Cooper and Rijo are big time losses for an offense that scored 810 in S33.  The 19th ranked free agent, Cam Moustakas, did elect to sign in the steel city and could prove to be extremely valuable for a staff that will have to try and repeat last season 3.82 team ERA.  Veteran RP Luis Castillo was retained and Domingo Molina was signed to help with the cause.  The three-headed monster OF of Magglio BocachicaDelino Osuna and Dock Sanders along with veteran 3B Alvin Miceli are back and will lead the offense.  Hopes are high once again in Pittsburgh and a repeat of last season's win total could see them finally over take the Nightmare for tops in the division.

Washington D.C. Senators (S33 Record 89-73)
State of Franchise:  Almost There
Additions:  none
Subtractions:  none
Projected Rookie Call-Ups:  Harry Santiago, Andres Garrido

Notes:  DC has been looking up at the top two teams in this division for awhile now, slow and steady the Senators are on their way.  Braxton Wayne and Toby Stanton are marinating in AA to start the season could make the jump to AAA by season's end and project to make their major league debuts sometime in late S35 or early S36.  Virtually the same team is back from last years 89 win team, a strong mark but will need to be improved upon.  Over his first two seasons, Bartolo Gallardo has put up a slash line of .282/.352/.485/.917 and played in 159 games in both seasons.  Sandy Perez took a bit of a step back in S33 coming off an impressive rookie campaign and will need to rebound to give DC a shot at the division.  Rob Canseco and Oleg D'Amico round out an impressive lineup.  Birdie Henley headlines a rotation that could see Rafael Iglesias inserted should one of the five falter.  Washington is primed to string off a couple division titles as impending rebuilds loom in Louisville and Pittsburgh, this may be a year early, but DC could surprise in S34.

Philadelphia Phoenix (S33 Record 63-99)
State of Franchise:  Rebuilding
Additions:  Stu McCurry, Gustavo Bonilla, Edinson Valenzuela, Ollie Stezchschulte, Bo Sutton
Subtractions:  Javier Padilla, Socks Rose
Projected Rookie Call-Ups:

Notes:  Philadelphia owner, stonewalter, made what may turn out to be the biggest acquisitions of the off-season when he was able to ink Ace Stu McCurry to a max contract.  While the back-end of the deal may be hard to swallow, Stu hasn't shown many signs of slowing down off his career 3.75 ERA mark.  Bo Sutton was also added to help the rotation which carried a 5.25 team ERA in S33, the league's 5th worst.  The power built lineup will need to see statistical improvement from youngsters Sid Reed and Rob Davis if they want to climb out of the cellar.  Jake Mattingly and Chad Montgomery are on the way to help the offense but highly touted SP prospect Hanley Everidge has some growing to do before helping out the big club.  It's going to be a tight race in the NL East with Philly and DC's improvements.  Both could surprise or fall off.  The cellar could see the Phoenix again, but it certainly won't be for long.


This uber-competitive division has seen 3 different division champions in 4 seasons.  Only the Confederates of Richmond have failed to land the crown over that stretch, but do have two very close second place finishes.  Tampa Bay fell off the pace and finished under .500 for the first time since S29.  The Wildcats failed to hit the 90 win mark for the second season in a row and found themselves holding up the 3rd spot.  Iowa City appears to be the front-runner again with little change in the organization.  All four owners return from S33, the only other divisions in Felix to do so are the NL East and the AL South, so look for the pace to be quick and the competition to be fierce once again within this division.  The new ballpark in San Antonio should provide some relief for the carseneau's staff, but also helps Iowa City by playing their game.  Tampa's revamped staff could also feel the effects of another pitcher friendly park in the division.  Whoever can get the most out of their power bats could take a division filled with pitcher friendly parks.  It will be interesting to watch the season unfold and how these changes effect the landscape of a traditionally powerful division.

Iowa City Johnsons (S33 Record 96-66 **Division Champs**)
State of Franchise:  Contending
Additions:  Theo Ducati
Subtractions:  Victor Gutierrez,  Frank Yosida, Alfonso Bastardo
Projected Rookie Call-Ups:  none

Notes:  The Johnsons' are doing it the way Ahsowhat has done it in the past, with strong pitching.  Iowa City is coming off a season where they held the 2nd best ERA in the world at 3.40, a full .25 points over 3rd place Wichita.  Max contract SP Clarence Coleman is back, coming off a 11 win S33, a number he is sure to improve upon.  2nd year man Hector Vizquel so his numbers fall off after his rookie season and will need to even out to keep his playing time up.  There is no doubt that superstar Sherman Curtis is what makes the Johnsons' offense go.  He has been off his career pace since coming over to the pitcher's paradise that is Principal Park, but the OBP is right on point and with his wheels another 45+ SB season is not out of the question.  Type B free agent Theo Ducati comes over from division rival Tampa Bay to help out in the back-end of games.  Iowa City was able to hold off Richmond by 3 games and the Wildcats by 7, this year may prove to be the same, but their are others coming and Ahsowhat will need to keep re-tooling to fend off the challengers.

Richmond Confederates (S33 Record 93-69 *NL Wild Card*)
State of Franchise:  Contending
Additions:  Kirk Hartman, Alving Ford
Subtractions:  Pascual Rodriguez
Projected Rookie Call-Ups:  JP Arias, Manny Iwazaki, Adam Tartabull

Notes:  The perennial bridesmaid in the division, the Confederates found themselves back in the postseason for the 2nd time in 7 seasons under bwb53.  Coming off back to back 90+ wins seasons and with only the departure of RP Pascual Rodriguez, Richmond could find themselves atop the division if Iowa City can't add to their win total.  Alving Ford was signed for 2yrs / $5mil in the off-season and could add another bat to a crowded OF.  His 224 career homers and .365 OBP, make him a cheap valuable addition.  Dude 'Don't Call Me Bro' Blake will top the rotation coming off a sub-par season, going 13-12 with a 4.80 ERA.  A bounce back year from Blake and a repeat performance from #2 Perry Gonzalez (11-8, 1.30 WHIP, 3.79 ERA in S33) could make it tough to score on the Confederates.  It has been a sound build by bwb53, his high OBP guys matched with a talented rotation could really be helped by the Wildcats move and Richmond could be the one's wearing white at season's end.

San Antonio Wildcats (S33 Record 89-73)
State of Franchise:  Contending
Additions:  Javy Alvarez, Danys Dotel, Oswaldo Roque, Johnny Powell, Zach Hartman
Subtractions:  Kennie Parrish, Richard Nomo, Bonk Lincoln, Martin Brantley, Reagan Anderson, Pepe Ordaz, Wladimir Lopez, Horacio Soria
Projected Rookie Call-Ups:  none

Notes:  It will take awhile to get use to all the acquisitions and new scenery for the Wildcats this season as 8 players leave the franchise and 5 new faces all take the field for the first time at Nelson Wolff Municipal Stadium.  The Wildcats finished last season with a team ERA of 3.90 and that should only get better with the change and the continued development of Al Schierholtz, the team's #5 starter.  Miguel Bennett, Chris King and max contract Juan Martin will round out a tough rotation.  Superstar Yorvit Rodriguez will still power the Wildcats' offensive attack, but will definitely see a drop in production with the move.  Carseneau thought long and hard and made a switch to play to his strength, but will this aging offense struggle to score is the question.  The division race will be tight all year and the Wildcats will be right in the mix once again.  Look for the pitching difference to add a win or two to the previous years total, which would put SA over 90, a number that could be good enough this season.

Tamp Bay Don Cesars (S33 Record 78-84)
State of Franchise:  Contending
Projected Rookie Call-Ups:  none

Notes:  Nine players said goodbye to the Tampa heat via free agency over the off-season, most notably being former Ace Stu McCurry.  Theo Ducati elected to sign with division rival Iowa City and Cam Moustakas took his talents to the steel city.  How did cebola respond?  Eight new players will wear the Don Cesars' hat in S34.  Bonk Lincoln was a steal at $5.4mil over 2 years and Carlton Magee was brought in on a one year deal to secure the middle portion of games.  Stud RF Mike Christians, SS Vic Montero and C Brandon Cunningham will make up Tampa's nice young core, but the pitching may be a little shaky as the season progresses.  Tampa holds the #16 pick in the draft as well as 2 sandwich picks, don't be surprised if cebola uses those to add some depth to the thin pitching staff.  One thing does stand out for TB and that is the power in this lineup, 4 guys carry a power rating over 77 and 6 with a batting eye over 80.  With the pitching parks in the division, their ability to get on base and then hit the long ball could make TB contenders this year.  If they are in the mix, what a landing spot would this be for Delanor Melville at the deadline.


Due to various rules, the NL West had to send a team to the postseason in S33.  The franchise that formerly called Seattle home was able to walk away with the division crown with a 73-89 final mark.  Needless to say this division had seen better days, but the future is bright thanks to Felix newcomers ratfink99, welsh5 and kidcreeley.  Only Tacoma returns in S34 and alogman1 has done a nice job in his re-tooling process.  All 4 division teams hold a pick in the top 12 of the amateur draft.  Time will tell who comes to the front of the line out of this 'new' division, but San Fran has the crown as the season gets under way.

San Francisco Lockdown (S33 Record 73-89 **Division Champs**)
State of Franchise:  Contending
Additions:  Steve Snow, Gary Hamilton
Subtractions:  Yamil EstradaGeronimo MolinaElroy Leonard
Projected Rookie Call-Ups:  Eliezer BerriosAndy MorseAneury Guardado

Notes:  New owner welsh5 made arguably the biggest deal of the off season when he is Elroy Leonard and a prospect to Colorado for Steve Snow and Gary Hamilton, strengthening the division champs' roster.  Taijuan Hughes and his career .987 Fld% is back patrolling center and Snow will join Placido Sierra in the outfield.  The staff is strong with a top 3 of Miguel Ozuna, Harold Durham and the aforementioned Gary Hamilton.  The move from Seattle to the Bay Area shouldn't drastically change the numbers for this group who will try to repeat with the rest of the division nipping at their heels.  

Tacoma Tornadoes (S33 Record 73-89)
State of Franchise: Almost There 
Additions:  Sammy Moustakas, Melvin Kydd, Matthew Lane
Subtractions:  Jose Zurbaran
Projected Rookie Call-Ups:  none

Notes:  In his first season, algoman1 just missed out on making the playoffs in the division.  The Tornadoes are right on the cusp of being a very solid contender.  Bill Scheppers, Orlando Dominguez and Al Mesa were retained in the off-season and the additions of Kydd and Lane add depth to a lineup highlighted by superstars Benny Molina and Luis Peron.  The rotation was a little on the weak side last season, but adding Moustakas and re-signing Scheppers make things a little more manageable for Tacoma.  Another addition or two to the rotation and the Tornadoes will be primed to take over this division and not give it back for awhile.  

Los Angeles Colemans (S33 Record 71-91)
State of Franchise:  Contending
Additions:  Jared Sexson, Louis Barker, Gene Leach, Gregory Dougherty, Edgmer Elcano, Kane Brown, Corky Jackson, Pablo Figureoa, Harry Arias, Glen Seo, Yahier Mijares
Subtractions:  Virgil Campos, Calvin Ellis, Harry Martinez
Projected Rookie Call-Ups:  none

Notes:  The Colemans will be picking 9th in the upcoming draft, but could be picking the high 20's next season. No owner was more active on the trade market than kidcreeley and he's wasn't making meaningless trades either.  Corky Jackson and Pablo Figureoa were acquired from defending champ Monterrey and Harry Arias from Richmond.  Those three will matchup with Rich Wright to form what might be the best rotation in Felix.  The guys down in the bullpen are nothing to mess with either.  Take the staff assembled and pair it with the already potent lineup left behind by bigparb13 and you may have the best team in the NL as the Colemans.  Chris Edwards, Seop Jiang and Jackson Dickey are budding stars and Kris Roenicke is a proven slugger in LF, but the straw that stirs the Colemans' drink is Wellington Diaz with his career slash line of .299/.361/.510/.871.  No one in the division did as much to improve and on paper it looks like it's LA's division to lose.

Albuquerque Atomic RatZ (S33 Record 67-95)
State of Franchise: Contending
Additions:  Harry Martinez, Vincente Gutierrez
Subtractions:  Valerio Santiago, Turk Papelbon
Projected Rookie Call-Ups:  none

Notes:  Ratfink99 takes over what was the worst team in the worst division in the NL.  When browsing the roster, it's hard to figure how they finished so poorly with guys like Gerald Hull and Christobal Chavez.  The Atomic RatZ may not have made a huge splash in free agency or the trade market but the pieces they added were solid and useful.  Darrell Bigbie, Jose Leon, Julio Martin, Wladimir Ontiveros and Vincente Gutierrez will make up a very strong rotation.  But can Hersh Glynn, Hull and Chavez drive in enough runs to keep pace with LA?  Time will tell, but the level of play in the NL West is about to go up a bunch of notches and should be fun to watch.  Albuquerque has a solid foundation but the improvements in LA might be a bit much to overcome over the course of 162 games.  There is no doubt that at worst, the Atomic RatZ will be in contention for a wild card when all is said and done.

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