Saturday, February 12, 2011

Season 20 Preview: NL South

Tampa Bay Fighting Hamsters
Season 19 Record: 121-41
Pitching Staff:  10 of 10
Offense:  10 of 10
Bench: 10 of 10
Defense: 8 of 10
Minor League Grade: C-
Divisional Finish: 1
Notes: Every bench player could be a starter on other teams providing depth and flexibility.  The entire staff has 3 pitchers whose vr is under 80.  The biggest hole is that the only true catcher on the roster (pc 59) will only be able to start 100 games leaving a 29 pc catcher in charge of an unreal pitching staff.  Henry Rasmussen is available to catch if needed and he is stashed as a DH in AAA.  The three best "prospects" are all over 27 and the low minors appear to have little potential.  The $108m offers few resources to use for player development.

San Juan Wizards
Season 19 Record:53-109

Pitching Staff:  3 of 10
Offense:  4 of 10
Bench:  1 of 10
Defense: 4 of 10
Minor League Grade: B+
Divisional Finish: 4
Notes: Only 22 rosters spots are filled as of this writing. Carl Forbes as ace of the staff does not inspire confidence in a team that plays in a launching pad.  No one on the offensive side, except J.J. Ellis will see a winning record in SJ. 1b, 2b and P have multiple solid prospects on the way.  The one minor league criticism is a lack of diversity among offensive prospects.  The payroll is at $47m.

Huntington Deer Hunters
Season 19 Record:108-54

Pitching Staff:  9 of 10
Offense: 8  of 10
Bench: 8 of 10
Defense: 8 of 10
Minor League Grade: A
Divisional Finish:
Notes:  Any other division and these guys are the best team.  In this division they are 20 out, a wild card team and #5 seed.  Multiple all-stars and strong in each aspect of the game.  The minor leagues have several good prospects at multiple positions and lots of pitching.  The big question is how former #1 pick Homer Montgomery bounces back from a catastrophic shoulder injury. An $83m budget is at a crossroads, either players will need to move on or the budget will cross the line from development to big market.  The minor league depth indicates they could let some vets walk or trade them for prospects.

 Charleston Charge
Season 19 Record:71-91

Pitching Staff: 4 of 10
Offense: 7 of 10
Bench: 7 of 10
Defense: 7 of 10
Minor League Grade: B-
Divisional Finish: 3
Notes:  Three guys on offense have a power ranking over 90.  The bench drops off from the starters, unlike Huntington and Tampa.  The defense is above average in some areas and slightly below average in the lesser positions.  I see what robot empahsizes amongst his pitchers and clearly he and I have different opinions on how to build a staff.  The hardest part in truely evaluating this staff is thinking about them facing the top two teams in the division. How did Steve Flynn throw 37 innings last season?  I am shocked he can pitch to over 1 batter a game. The minor leagues have several good prospects, starters, relievers, each offensive position. No future all stars but several solid long term contributors. The payroll is at $60m and shows Charleston is transitioning its team.

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