Monday, February 14, 2011

Season 20 Preview: AL West

Vancouver Anti Tankers
Season 19 Record: 98-64
Budget for players: $100m budgeted, $8.5m left available
Pitching Staff:  6 of 10
Offense:  8 of 10
Bench:  7 of 10
Defense: 8 of 10
Minor League Grade: B+
Divisional Finish: 1
Notes:  Vancouver is above average offensively and defensively at every position.  There is no weakness in the lineup.  They are better versus righties than lefties but are still solid on that side of things.  From my look over the closest to a weakness would be the lack of a true MVP candidate type.  They are a true team in that regard.  The pitching staff is like the offense, solid al around but no cy young types.  Gus Holt could get in the fireman awards discussion in a few years but he still has a lot of growth to go, can he do it in the majors?  The pitcher I like best has got the ratings to be a starter but isn't used as a starter, I am curious why.  The one thing I have noticed on several teams is the disregard for traditional ratings for relievers.  I would love to have someone explain to me the philosophy behind having 8 or more pitchers with stamina over 65.  10 + pitching prospects in the minors all of whom can contribute at the ML level. Gus Holt has potential to be very good as does Bill Rice.  On the positional side of things there are solid prospects for C, SS and 2b on the way.  but not as much depth as on the pitching side of things.  Tike Wirth is in the minors and would repesent an upgrade for over half the teams I looked at.

San Francisco Flaxseeds
Season 19 Record: 77-85
Budget for players: $86m budgeted, $18m left in cap space.
Pitching Staff:  7 of 10
Offense:  6 of 10
Bench:  6 of 10
Defense: 6 of 10
Minor League Grade: A
Divisional Finish: 2
Notes:  The catchers game calling skills are suspect but not awful.  The starters bat more than makes up for it and his other defensive ratings are good.  The offensive core of the team is aging and the SS are there ore for their gloves than their bats.  This is a team in transition on offense and Damaso Lima is the future face of the franchise and a potential ROY candidate this season.  I like their pitching staff, not a weak arm in the bunch.  Damaso Lima is developing and will be very good.  Jorge James is one of those guys who straddles the line between starter and reliever and is ideally suited for a tandem rotation.  There are 12 pitching prospects to keep an eye on with B.J. Kemp being the most special in the group.  Davey Ramirez could be in the majors today and Vic Sherrill is the pretty close and represents the future at the hot corner when Bennett moves on.  This is the deepest farm system I have seen on both the pitching and positional side of things.  The one weakness would be the lack of a SS or CF prospect but that will be addressed in other ways and the guys in place now at SS will be good for a few seasons and there is another 2b who could slide over to CF since Lima isn't going anywhere.

Salem Crack Whores
Season 19 Record: 78-84
Budget for players: $102 M, budgeted, 100k leftover
Pitching Staff:  6 of 10
Offense:  4 of 10
Bench:  4 of 10
Defense: 4 of 10
Minor League Grade: C+
Divisional Finish: 3
Notes: Cristobal Quixote is in the last year of his contract and should not be playing 3b any more.  The SS and CF are average to slightly above average for their positions.  The LF should be playing RF and the RF should be playing LF.  The offense will struggle some against righties.  Sam Graves looks to be the strongest offensive player on the team but his historic performance does not come close to what I would have expected based on his ratings and salary.  Jae Song is worth keeping an eye on.  Jim Decker is one of the best pitchers in the league but his W/L record is a reflection on the offense.  5 or 6 pitchers with potential in the minors.  Cristobal Hernandez is an all-star in the makings.  The offensive prospects are thin and noe have as high a ceiling.  The one who caught my eye was Freddie Monroe.  Monroe is not an all star but can be a solid major leaguer hitting 25+ homers for several seasons.

San Diego Chargers
Season 19 Record: 82-80
Budget for players: $103m budgeted, $10M remaining
Pitching Staff:  4 of 10
Offense:  2 of 10
Bench:  0 of 10
Defense: 3 of 10
Minor League Grade: B+
Divisional Finish:4
Notes:  I will be the first to admit that I am probably the worst person to review this team.  San Diego is one of the parks that you can build a team specifically for and that has been the case historically for this team.  I would look at the roster and wonder how they won so many.  That said I know where to start and that is with the fact that there are  9 players rostered who are positional players.  There is no bench at all.  The grades above reflect the lack of options and depth.  That is a problem when you look closely at Javier Park who could reasonably expected to play at a decent level for 81 games so long as he doesn't get hurt. The catcher is there for his defense, meaning he won't hit.  The 1b has a great mustache but is really a platoon player.  The infield defense is fine and so is CF but LF and RF will struggle especially considering the home park.   15 pitchers on the roster and 10 have a stamina of 60+.  Cameron Carter is in the last year of a huge contract and will be trade bait I assume.  I count 6 pitchers who I would not trust in road games.  10 minor league arms could hit the majors in the next few years with 4 potential all-stars led by Jumbo Hundley.  7 potential major league position players only Willie Barrios could be viewed as a full timer.  The. rest will need to platoon.

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