Thursday, December 4, 2008

Big Battle in the AL East

As the season approaches the 20 game mark the league board has been taken over by the AL East. The talk has been heated at times as each owner argues their team’s ability to take the division crown. The hostilities have not yet reached a point where these proud owners are throwing punches yet it would not be much of a stretch. It is also their believe that they have the strongest division and the this year's World Series Champion.

Here’s a preview of the teams:

Norfolk Warheads – Last season’s division champ came within one game of going to the World Series. The Warheads were not satisfied with the way their season ended and made several moves to strengthen there team for another attempt at the trophy they are determined to bring home. Dwayne Nixon (1B), Santiago Morales (RP), Philip Riley (RP) & Carlos Morales (RP) are the key additions to the ML roster and appear to bolster areas of concern. Norfolk will again be tough and it will be up to the rest of the division to find a way to catch them

Columbus Clippers – The team’s previous ownership neglected the team as they waited to transfer control. This led to cap & fatigue issues that contributed to the team’s inability to continue its run of 100 win seasons. The hope is that last years player misuse will not run over into this season and that the additions of Brett Podsednik (3B), Mike Nady (CF), Reagan Mathews (RP), Raymond Smith (RP) will enable the already strong nucleus to regain its lofty win total.

New York Torrones – Staggering down the stretch cost NY a playoff spot but management has decided to allow the team another year to see if they can improve on last years record. This is a big gamble with an offense that ranked near the bottom of the league, while the team's pitching and fielding finished in the middle of the league rankings. However with only 5 players over 30 on the ML squad this team may still have room to improve and be able to capture that elusive playoff spot.

Dover Demon Dawgs – This team took a step backwards last year and needs to improve quite a bit to make a playoff appearance. Management wasn’t afraid to make changes to try to accomplish just that. Justin Winston (C), FP Koskie (1B), Steve Bonilla (DH), Alan Lowell (SP) & Tomas Gandarilla (SP) were all brought in via trades and appear to be able to contribute right away. Last years sub .500 record was disappointing for a team that finished in 2nd the two previous season but it looks like the new owner has a plan and will not hesitate to implement it.

With the talent each of these teams has accumulated it looks like it may very well be possible for everyone to finish above .500 this season. It may also be possible for three of these teams to make the playoffs. The real question is what kind of shape will these franchises be in after the dogfight that will probably take all season to decide. Will anyone have anything left in their tank to make any noise in the playoffs? It should be fun to watch so stay tuned.

1 comment:

  1. Frank is right. I didn't need to make many changes to the Torrones in the off season. While he is correct that last season's team was no offensive juggernaut, I think there will be vast improvement this season. Ratings hikes from last season on some of my young, developing players are significant. Case in point, Davey House. From season 9 to 10,Overall +5, Glove +6,Arm Acc +6, Contact +6, vL +6, vR +6. Season 6 #1 pick House was somewhat of disappointment in his rookie season, but this year he steps in as the starting SS and we expect big things. And he's only 22! Season 7 #1 pick Tanner Magnante(24) returns to 1B after a run at ROY last season. His overall is +5, Contact +6,vL +7, vR +8, eye +3. He will be a real run producer in the middle of my lineup. Rookie C Niefi Espinosa is off to a hot start(50 AB, .340 avg, .520 slg, 2 HR, 11 RBI). My core players(Haselman-26, Cedeno-23, Jones-26, McDonald-24,Freeman-25, H Martin-25) are all 26 or younger and still improving. My oldest ML position player is 29. This is a team on the rise that will be a force for quite a few seasons to come. All is not 100% rosy, however. The starting rotation is pretty solid, but we have shown an early propensity to blow late leads. Still searching for that right combo of relievers that can come thru in the clutch. I'm also not ecstatic with closer Van Poppel. We could also hit better against RHP. All in all, though, I think we have the stuff to make a solid run at the division title. We are not yet an elite team like Minnesota, Boise, or Florida, but at least we are headed in the right direction.