Thursday, July 5, 2007

League Notes at the 1/3 point

Biggest Surprises

Santa Fe - After season three when this team made an 80 game improvement and a second place finish things looked up for the new ownership. But season 4 came along and so did another 100 loss season. This season started a little rough for them, and then a decision from management came down to move perennial MVP candidate Flynn from SS to the OF and be replaced by a quality fielding SS. Flynn had 50 errors at SS 3 out of 4 seasons and was well on his way this season before the move. While playing in Santa Fe probably will never earn a pitcher a Cy Young award, with their potent offense (eight players might reach 100 RBI mark) they are not out of any game.

Salem - In Season 4 this team made its mark by signing the two best FA pitchers available, but pitching in the thin air of Colorado was rough and they finished their fourth straight season in 3rd place and ranked towards the bottom on the league in pitching. With a move to Salem they have been a much tougher opponent. Pitching is ranked 4th in the league and their offense is still in the top 1/3 of the league.

Montreal - Statistically this team is below average, but the owner is a vet of sim league baseball and that knowledge must be of some value in HBD because he has taken a team the has lost 100+ games the last two seasons and got them playing .500 ball.

Honorable Mention

Cleveland - They have won the division two straight seasons, but got little love from the pundits for doing so. Most picked St. Louis and Toronto to dethrone them.

Florida Phoenix - While hovering around .375 is usually not something to cheer about this team has reached a level of respectability and you just can't ignore them. They have taken series from Scottsdale, NY, and Minnesota.

Salt Lake City - While there are no easy divisions in the league, it is tough compete in a division that 113 wins equaled 2nd place last season. Ownership has brought together a team can score some runs, which is always needed in the AL.

Colorado Springs – There has been one team that has won their division title every season, the Arizona Scottsdales. Colorado has been in the top 1/3 of pitching and above average for hitting. If Colorado Springs is going to stay in first they need to get more from their 5th starter and maybe add another bat.

Head Scratchers

Toronto - Morgan's first championship team has always put together good team. This is shaping up to be their toughest season yet. Yamid is still in MVP form, but only one other player that projects to get 75 RBI. The pitching has been decent, but inconsistent. A trade for a big bat could help, but in 5 season's their owner has yet to make a trade so its not likely to start now.

St. Louis - Admittedly this hasn't had a history of success. But the new ownership came in and signed 3 of the biggest FA pitchers on the market. That got the entire league's attention. The pitching has been good, ranked in the top 10 most the season, but their unproven offense has let them down. They don't play small ball and don't have enough power to wait for homers. The good new for this team is that if they were able to add a couple of potent bats to the lineup they are within striking distance of the division leaders. As bad as they have been, nobody wants to face that staff in the playoffs.

Boston - This is a young team and they should do well in the future. The owner has won championships with other teams so he knows what he's doing. But the goal of at least competing this year barely seems reachable. They’re ranked 31st in pitching and hitting which makes it difficult to win. The troubles can’t be blamed on lack of attention from the owner. This team might be using MLB’s Florida franchise as an example to build a strong young team, but this isn't their year.

Sacramento - The questions about last year's 113 Win performance being a run of good luck persist. They ranked 2nd in both pitching and offense last year, while pitching is just barely above average this season offense has been non-existent. Ranked in the bottom 5 offenses of the world won't ever get you in the AL playoffs. They might get three guys with 100RBIs, but after that nobody projects to 60.

Texas - While Chicago is probably the most surprising poor performance, Texas has to be the biggest drop for no apparent reason. Some decent signings and they kept most the players from last year's 98 Win team, this team might not get 1/2 the wins as last year. The biggest culprit was Ben Musial's colossal slide from his MVP form, but he's getting back on track. It might be to late though for this team. They only have one SP with sub 5.25 ERA. Last year their pitchers weren't dominant, but they had the offense to overcome average groups of SPs. Now their offense is mired in the bottom third of the league which won’t cut it for that staff.

Chicago - There isn't a bigger surprise on this list. Its not like Pitching and Offense have completely tanked for this team, both are above average in the league. A couple players like Santayana are not playing as well as they have in the past. FA pickup Buddy Parrish who was expected to give a lift to the offense and pitching with his skills behind the plate has barely been adequate. His catcher's ERA is a full run higher than it was last season, and he doesn't look to get anywhere close to the 100 RBIs he has averaged over the past three seasons. Usually superb SPs Joey Diaz and former cy young winner Ted Riveria have really fallen on hard times for this team - when they haven't been hurt. The good news for Chicago is that they are only a few games back and have the talent to still make a run for it.

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