Saturday, January 15, 2011

AL West Season Preview

Boise Browncoats (90-72, 2nd)

Last season Evan43 did a masterful job with this team as he squeezed every win possible out of his team. Barely scoring more runs than the hurlers allowed should have kept this team around .500, yet somehow they captured 90 wins. Spending 4 seasons stuck in 2nd place Boise has continually frustrated Boise as they haven’t be able to find a way to win the division. Pete Williams, Max Chavez & Alfonso Tejara will be joined by the recently signed Joey Taylor to form a very formidable offensive attack. The loss of Bobby Stephenson will hurt a rather thin pitching staff. The ageless Felipe Cairo is still closing out games with the best around and Dan Gonzales had 13 wins last season, tops amongst the returning pitchers. Everyone is another year older which may help the younger players; however with 15 players over 30 (including 10 position players) age is working against the Browncoats more than for them. Reaching 90 wins again will be a very difficult task which will more than likely leave this team in 2nd but lacking far behind San Jose.

Prediction: 86-76

Portland Seadogs (64-98, 4th)

It’s very tough to have a winning record when you allow your opponents to score 900 runs, it’s impossible to have a winning record if your team can only score 680 runs in response. In the past 13 seasons the Seadogs have finish in the cellar 11 times and it’s been 12 seasons since they’ve been able to end the season above .500. Scoring runs will again be a problem as Wayne Smalley & Alex Granger are the only players that put up decent numbers last season. The pitching staff should be better especially after adding Jolbert Cordero & Bobby Stephenson. Unfortunately a weak defense and anemic offense will leave little margin of error for the hurlers so even strong performances may be wasted by a lack of support. This won’t be the year for a departure from 4th place, however if additional bats and stronger gloves are brought in this team may once again head towards respectability.

Prediction: 68-94

San Jose Giants (103-59, 1st)

Build a well balanced team and your team can win 3 consecutive division titles with back to back 103 win seasons. After flirting with leaving his team, nzballa decided his work was not yet done with the Giants. 5 players hit at least 30 HRs, with 4 of them also driving in 100 runs and they are all back. How good is the pitching? 5 pitchers had at least 14 wins and they were led by Cy Young winner Phil Corino’s 19. In most seasons Sean Brown’s 18 wins and 2.43 ERA would have been enough to win the award but how can you argue with his teammate’s victory. The only shortcoming on this team was the 17 blown saves produced by the bullpen but does it matter when you win over 100 games.

Prediction: 100-62

Vancouver Villians (84-78, 3rd)

The Villians took a small step backwards last season as they fell short of the previous year’s 89 victories. Both the pitching staff and bats had decent years yet they found themselves 19 games behind the behemoths that sit atop the division. Rob Willis (28, 128, .279) is the big bat in this lineup as power was in short supply and wasn’t addressed in the offseason. Speedsters D’Angelo Escobar (112 runs, .317, 43 SB) & Tom Riggs (96 runs, .306, 44 SB) should set the table for Willis and provide plenty of opportunities to get good pitches. Shane Coffman & Wilt Lowry were the only pitchers with 10 or more wins, and Willie Alarcon did another outstanding job in the closer role. Jvburns seems to think he can get more out of his players and has chosen to play the same hand as last season. This is a big gamble and while the pitching staff does look like it can put up better numbers the lack of power will again force his team to play small ball and manufacture runs.

Prediction: 80-82

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