Monday, March 21, 2011

Season 20 Preview - AL West

FA Signings: Diego Abreu (P), Rob Holbert (P)
Both players are over 30 but can still contribute to the Sun Devils. Holbert and his sub-4.00 ERa was taken from division rival Vancouver; Abreu is another refugee from the NL via Burlington.

Trade Acquisitions: None

Losses: Elmer Fabregas (OF), Jose Mercedes (3B)

Last Season: 85-77, 3rd place AL West
Runs: 787 (9th)
ERA: 4.23 (6th)
Fielding: .981 (11th) 65/35 +/-

Conclusion: Not many changes in the desert, despite the error prone defense and an inconsistent offense. This is a loaded division and Arizona has a tough assignment in getting past either Salt Lake City or Vancouver.

FA Signings: None

Trade Acquisitions: Midre Owen (3B), Santos Bennett ( C)
Owen is a powerful experienced bat, replacing the young Richard Tanaka. Bennett is an offensive minded Catcher who is coming off a career year in Scottsdale.

Losses: Ernie Bichette (1B), Arthur Clement ( C), Richard Tanaka (3B)

Last Season: 101-61, 2nd place AL West
Runs: 919 (2nd)
ERA: 3.81 (2nd)
Fielding: .989 (1st) 77/20 +/-

Conclusion: It’s hard to imagine the Burners getting better, but it looks like they did by upgrading at Catcher and Third Base. Loaded with stars and with no holes in their game they will probably be looking at another 100+ win season.

FA Signings: Rick Mills ( C), Hector Espinosa (RP), Daniel Leach (P), Louie Delgaldo (RP), Brian Yosida (RP)
Rebuilding the bullpen would appear to be the priority in Vancouver this off season. Although none of the signed are aces, they should all strengthen the ‘maniacs pen. Mills is a defensive backstop.

Trade Acquisitions: None

Losses: Rob Holbert (RP), Marino Martin (SP), Cy Corcoran (3B), Rafael Guillon (C/DH)

Last Season: 116-46, 1st place AL West

Runs: 1054 (1st)
ERA: 3.71 (1st)
Fielding: .986 (T3rd) 90/13 +/-

Conclusion: Vancouver’s days of playing Candyland in the regular season (only for it to turn into grandmaster-level chess in the playoffs) may be over. Martin is as solid a starting pitcher as Corcoran is a third baseman, and Guillon is an elite bat. All are no longer present. There is some young talent here, and the bullpen has been upgraded - no doubt this is still an elite team. The contests with SLC should mimic the Yankees-Red Sox in the ratings.

FA Signings: Rico Rosa (RP), Cy Corcoran (3B), Edgar Estrada (2B), Anthony Moore ( C), Brandon Bell (SS), Geraldo Vargas (P)
The infield is both transformed and upgraded with the additions of Estrada, Corcoran and Bell. Rosa is an effective RP but will only pitch 30-40 innings. Moore is a defensive catcher. Vargas is returning ‘home’ at age 38.

Trade Acquisitions: None

Losses: Brian Hyun (SS), Angel Cedeno (RP), Mark Delucci (IF)

Last Season: 68-94, 4th place AL West
Runs: 680 (13th)
ERA: 4.54 (7th)
Fielding: .980 (12th) 49/46 +/-

Conclusion: Most teams would finish 4th in this division, and El Santas Loco are no exception. Although they have taken great strides in addressing their biggest problems from last (offense and fielding), I doubt it’s enough to catch up with Arizona.

Hypno’s Projected Order of Finish:
1. Salt Lake City
2. Vancouver
3. Arizona
4. Santa Cruz

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