Thursday, September 19, 2013

NL South

A few have risen up to challenge the Marlins in the NL South, but they are chasing their 8th straight playoff spot. Is this the year they get locked out?


LAST YEARS PREVIEW: Before the window closes for Ted and the gang, they look to be making another run. Word from South Beach is that the Marlins will be looking to retool on the fly. With an owner like Ted you can bet they won’t fall very far. he Marlins are a premier team, and have remained so for the last six years. Book them into the playoffs for number seven and a chance to make even more noise this season.

OUT: Robinzon Alicea, Midre Hernandez, David Newson
IN: Yamid Quixote, Wladimir Ayala, Moose Finley, Brady Sierra, Elrod Riggs

PREVIEW: The Marlins made some moves and once again won the division (that’s seven playoffs in a row!). Times are changing and the dominance may be coming to an end.
“Obviously we are playing out the string with an expensive and aging roster”, said owner tedwmoore. “There is no replacing Alicea,” he said with a wistful tear in his eye “I’m still learning the names of the new players on my team.” This is someone talking like they know the end is coming and the taste is bittersweet.
Most of the bullpen is gone. Except mainstay Bryan “the sled-dog” Benoit as he is affectionately known in south Florida. The starting four returns so things are not totally dismal. Four of the top Five hitters return (Ramirez, Helms, Castillo, Marin). That group was responsible for 418 runs created, and 23.6 War (an average of 5.9). So, the offense will be okay.
The rest are fill ins. Guys like Yamid Quixote (he’s still ALIVE???), Wladimir “Wladie” Ayala for defense, Moose Finley (dude is 6’1 202 from MA…how is he a moose?), Brady Sierra (was a 3.8 war, 80 rc and 3 time all star in Texas), and one of the biggest pickups Ken Merloni from Toronto (a 4 time all star).
The Marlins are going to be JUST FINE.

St. Louis
St. Louis Cardinals (NL)
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LAST YEARS PREVIEW: The Cardinals used to have a questionable pitching staff, but under owner Cyben they have made strides (finishing with only 689 runs allowed). Unfortunately, the pendulum has swing the other way, and now offense needs fixed. The Cards have $29 million left to spend, but the big question is will they do it? It looks like prospects are getting the lions share while the team continues their decent into the cellar.

OUT: Daniel Olson, William Richard, Aaron Hernandez, Victor Flores
IN: Rob Ramirez, Placido Manzanillo, Dana Barrett, Harold Slowey, Brian Kwon, Johnny Kennedy, Rob Ramirez

PREVIEW: How in the world could I doubt cyben and his Cards? I mean, the guy has 17 playoffs in 28 HBD seasons (but none in Kinsella…yet). This is a team that improves EVERY SINGLE YEAR.
The young guys are moving forward at a fast pace. Alex Garcia is turning into a star (117 runs created, 6.3 war), and Francisco Melendez took a step forward (2.6 war). One thing I noticed that made me scratch my head…what’s up with this teams BABIP??? Only one of the top ten made it to .300 and a few were substantially below even what the league average was (somewhere around .275 which is unusual…maybe good league defense???). It’s strange to say, but this team could be BETTER.
To add to the “better” theme, several prospects are on their way up. We all know how prospects usually do in their first year but Barrett, and Manzanillo should instantly contribute on both sides of the ball. Harold Slowy is on the short list already for gold glove at SS. Aaron Feliciano doesn’t look quite as ready, and has health problems. The Cards suffered a hug break going after Brian Kwon, then losing him to the 60 day DL. Ouch. Rob Ramirez was a good pick up also.
Overall, this team is dangerous with a capital D. Watch out for “the kids”.


LAST YEARS PREVIEW: The Braves made a splash a few years ago as owner Bux rebuilt the Atlanta chop shop into a contender. The Braves play in a tough division and are tougher for it. With so many good NL teams, they have as good a chance as anyone to represent the senior circuit in the NL.

OUT: Sven Barclay, Joe Canseco, Gerald Sasser, Justin Lidge, Albert Castillo
IN: Kazuo Hong, Rick Mayer, Preston Norman

PREVIEW: The Braves actually outplayed their Exp Pct by about six games. They should have been below .500 due to the offense. The pitching stays solid with Manto, Tabaka, Tejada, and Wickman. The 5 starter is in flux and appears to be Matt Richard (who posted a 6.92 FIP and 1.80 Whip). Gerald Sasser was optioned to AAA despite a solid contribution.
For an offensively anemic team, something needed to change. They needed more out of Hughie Barney. If he’s going to lead the team in plate appearances, he needs to contribute more than 0.9 war and create 72 runs. Denny Torres is another example with 638 plate appearances, a 2.1 War and only 74 runs created. Justin Lidge leaving for the great white north of Montreal leaves a BIGGER gaping whole (losing 5.8 war, and 104 runs). I’m sure bux will enjoy the draft picks. Jackie Gragg had a solid season, but age is catching up. Khoury Hayes only saw 374 plate appearances, but he was barely above average as well (actually 0.0 War).
The window appears to have closed on the Braves. But for a guy with 42 playoffs in 87 seasons I just can’t close the door. What does bux have up his sleeve this time?


LAST YEARS PREVIEW: Dherz made some eye popping trades early in the year as he rebuilds the Astros. The minor leagues are now stocked with tremendous players. With the money, it appears that DHerz is finding every broke down old veteran that he can find. At the time of this writing they are still unassigned so it’s interesting to see who makes the club.

OUT: Sadie Wells, Quinton Hobbes, Al Parker
IN: a lot see below

PREVIEW: I’m sure glad I was wrong about the Astros. Maybe the 10 cent beer nights gave Minute Maid Park a little energy?
One of the most interesting things I’ve ever seen is the new Minute Maid Retirement home which resides just around the corner. The franchise set a record for retirement. Maybe if they all got together they could buy the franchise since player payroll is currently only at $18 million? Hmmm
I kid of course. DHerz is an evil genius and is doing some fun things with the franchise. He hit the waiver wire HARD going after rule V and cast offs (welcome Jonathan Beckett, Steven Shouse, Pat Donald, and Fred Brinkly, Reynel Gomez, and Alving Beltre). The kicker…only Brinkly and Gomez are over 30! Rule V also paid off with Alejandro Vargas (3rd on my list). Pat Donald should be interesting (I didn’t have anywhere for him).
This team will look a lot like the real Astros. A bunch of no names and cast offs. Which will somehow win 70 games. “It’s not going to be very pretty, but I think if the pitching holds, we can be competitive.” Said a cigar smoking dherz from his plush office overlooking the retirement home. He seems like a man completely at home and biding his time. Time will tell.

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