Atlanta Brave Vawts (vawt)
The Brave Vawts once again saw themselves on top of the American League East last season and making it all the way to the American League Championship before bowing out to the Texas Talley Whackers. There really hasn’t been more of a consistent team in the league then probably the Brave Vawts as the team is 292-194 with a .601 winning percentage in the first three years of the league and with playing in probably the toughest division in the league that’s a good record. I know I like to give mess with the owner (Vawt) but I might regret this I really do believe he’s one of the best managers in this league. The team only lost Tiny Sheets (2B) (.242, 1, 18), Patrick Johnston (C) (.284, 4, 29) and Dave Carlson (P) (9-6, 5.22ERA, 3SV) to free agency. The team only signed Steve Barclay (CF) (.263, 7, 62) from the Jackson Blazers for 2yrs/4.2mil. The team acquired Cookie Pena (C) (.303, 17, 54) from the Indianapolis Wrecking Crew when they traded away Adam Beimel (RF) (.259, 2, 8) to the Wrecking Crew. The Brave Vawts knew that they really didn’t need to change much about this team, so they just found some bench players that could fill in a starting spot if there’s an injury in the lineup.
The Brave Vawts had scored the fourth most runs in the American League last season with 1001 runs as the lineup as great power in the middle, great speed up front and good contact hitters towards the end of the lineup make this a lineup that’s hard to deal with on a daily basis. Frank Surtain (3B) (.292, 52, 149) as been forgotten with all the power hitters in the American League but make no mistake once a pitcher faces him they’ll remember for the rest of the year. AllStar/ RF Silver Slugger Nick Collins (RF) (.353, 38, 124) fits perfectly in front of Surtain as he gets to see a lot of great pitches and he knows what to do with them. The returning players Alex Sojo (SS) (.285, 16, 82), Aubrey Hutchinson (1B) (.288, 37, 99), Mac Johnson (C) (.304, 24, 96), Luis Carreras (SS) (.278, 19, 84), Morgan Robertson (2B) (.293, 16, 76), Ricardo Martinez (C) (.277, 8, 68) and Wade May (DH) (.271, 13, 51) will have no problem producing the same numbers from last season. Unless a major injury happens to Surtain or Collins this offensive will continue to roll and once again become on of the best in the American League.
The Brave Vawt had probably the second best pitching staff in the American League last season and with 4 AllStar’s and the CY Young winner in the staff it’s makes you wonder why they weren’t number one. The Brave Vawt this season should once again have one of the best staffs in the American League and it might just have the best with Nikowski having a full year in the rotation this season. AL CY Young/ AllStar Phil Nitkowski (11-4, 1.76ERA, 153.1IP) started the season as the closer but the team quickly saw the error of that and moved him into the rotation where he became even more dangerous to become the CY Young winner in the American League. AllStar/ P Gold Glove Ray Jackson (16-6, 3.78ERA, 176IP) not only was Jackson a AllStar pitcher but he was the best fielding pitcher in the American League and the team is looking for him to become a great star this season. Andruw Dunston (14-7, 4.75ERA, 217.2IP), AllStar Larry Rath (16-11, 3.79ERA, 5CG) and Samuel West (12-11, 5.50ERA, 189.2IP) should fill out the remaining spots in the rotation. AllStar Paul Krause (5-5, 3.17ERA, 26SV) didn’t start out the season as the teams closer but he was put into the role once Nitkowski was moved to the rotation, then Krause became an AllStar but he did blow 6 saves so that could be something to watch this season. Last season the pitching staff for the Brave Vawts was one of the best but the bullpen had become there achillies heel with 8 blown saves and an ERA over 5 the bullpen will need to improve this season.
Projected Record – 101-61
Boston Braves (warswics)
Well last season this team was called the Cleveland Barons but with a new owner he thought it would be a good idea to shack the bad luck in Cleveland and move to Boston. There’s a lot of talent on this team especially from the offensive side, as it makes you wonder if the previous knew what they where doing as I don’t think this team should have two losing season in the last three years and never making the playoffs, so maybe the new owner can turn this team around in the very tough American League East this season. The team lost Pablo Alfonseca (P) (1-2, 4.15ERA, 2SV), Hiram Thomas (RF) (.228, 6, 21), Stephen Mayer (P) (1-2, 5.96ERA, 19SV), Sean Pierce (P) (7-6, 4.98ERA, 121IP) and Nipsey Rivera (3B) (.201, 18, 48) to free agency. The team signed P.T. Martinez (3B) (.328, 33, 115) from the Durham Bulls for 4yrs/30.4mil with a 1.0mil signing bonus, Mike Baxter (2B) (.252, 8, 38) from the Monterrey Stars for 3yrs/16.4mil plus a no-trade clause and Gil Lefebvre (P) (6-10, 5.56ERA, 131IP) from the Cincinnati Highlanders for 1yr/4.8mil. The team didn’t make any trades during the off-season. The team went hard after a good power hitter and gave Martinez a big contract for a position that they really needed any kind of production from.
There was no problem with the Braves offensive last season scoring over 900 runs. When any one gets on base for this team the players behind him finds ways to bring him around which is never a bad thing when your going to have to score a lot of runs to compete in the American League especially the East. Chad Nathan (1B) (.307, 34, 131) is a great first basemen but with so many other great first basemen in the American League he gets forgotten but the fans in Boston will soon begin to love him. AllStar/ SS Silver Slugger Rich Hale (SS) (.321, 19, 91) should once again be at the top of the order and once again become a huge torn in the side of the pitchers he faces. Returning players LF Silver Slugger Rob Cooper (LF) (.299, 24, 107), Steven Pedersen (1B) (.304, 24, 86), Tommy Crede (RF) (.292, 30, 110), Lonny Hughes (CF) (.277, 7, 48) and Matty Rodriguez (LF) (.319, 12, 46) should have no problem being as good as they were last season. How much better will this offensive need to get this team to a winning record once again this season?
You would think giving up 939 runs last season that the pitching staff was close to one of the worst staffs in the American League, you would be wrong as the staff wasn’t the best but it certainly wasn’t the worse either sitting nicely in the middle for the American League. Roy Van Hatten (13-8, 3.29ERA, 150.2) only started 23 games last season but he did lead the team in victories and ERA last season and the team is hoping that he can repeat those numbers again this season. Paul Lee (9-16, 6.82ERA, 3CG) will need to keep the hits down this season if he’s going to improve from last season. Eddie Drew (4-7, 6.21ERA, 116IP), Gil Lefebvre and Dean Randall (6-10, 6.16ERA, 133IP) should finish the rest of the rotation. As of right now I’m not really sure who the closer is going to be as there are some good options but not a lot experience coming from the bullpen but if I had to name a closer I guess it would be Matt Schmidt (4-3, 3.98ERA, 10SV). Can the pitching staff keep the team in the games this season so that there offensive has a chance to win them some games?
Roy Van Hatten
Projected Record – 76-86
Cincinnati Highlanders (yanksrule11)
The Highlanders really surprised me last season with how good this team was, even with all the young players that came to the team last season. The owner (yanksrule11) decided that New York wasn’t a place that the young players didn’t need to be playing in with all the temptations that New York would bring so he moved to Cincinnati and hopefully it will help the young players focus only on baseball this season. With three straight playoff appearances and 90 win season I guess I will never underestimate this team again. The team lost Calvin Hasegawa (SS) (.250, 3, 20), Herman Harris (3B) (.282, 11, 36), Iago Shiell (P) (2-3, 4.56ERA, 53.1IP) and Gil Lefebvre (P) (6-10, 5.56ERA, 131IP). The team only signed Mark Masato (1B) (minor leaguer) from the Ottawa Crawdaddies for a minor league deal. The team didn’t make any trades during the off-season. With the team already full with good young talent there wasn’t any good reason for this team to make any moves this off-season.
Any offensive would be thrilled to one great power hitter but this team has two great power hitters which makes this offensive dangerous to any one who faces them as the team scored 933 runs from last season. The problem with this lineup seems to be that it’s very front loaded with the back of the lineup not having as good hitters as the front of the lineup. AL MVP/ AllStar/ 1B Silver Slugger Luis Nunez (1B) (.335, 66, 150) makes every pitcher that faces him have nightmares the night before it truly one of the best power hitters in the game today and even though he hit is career low of 66 homeruns last season that is not any sign that he is about to slow down. AllStar/ 2B Silver Slugger Bobby Henry (3B) (.298, 51, 127) may have only had 127 RBI’s to go with his 51 homeruns but when your hitting behind Nunez the RBI chances are going to be lower then they would be on a different team. Returning players Mark Phillips (3B) (.292, 35, 102), Cy Ryan (SS) (.276, 26, 77), Rob Carlson (CF) (.266, 9, 67), Jody Fox (LF) (.282, 11, 54), Vic Olivares (C) (.233, 12, 48) and Pedro Alvarez (3B) (.249, 14, 59) should have no problem getting close to there numbers last season and will probably improve it. Can the Highlanders get any sort of production from the bottom of there lineup or will they have to get that from the first five once again?
The pitching staff proved last season that you can be young and also be good in the American League. The team only gave up 814 runs last season the third fewest runs allowed in the American League and with another season under there belts the young pitchers should get better. AllStar Tracy Bowie (17-10, 3.65ERA, 231.2IP) is the staff ace and what the young pitchers will be looking up at as this season goes on. Theo Martin (13-7, 4.31ERA, 177.2IP) said that is goal this season is to win 15 games, ERA under 4 and pitcher over 200 innings when I spoke to him earlier in the week and with his talent he might be able to do that this season. Mark Kwon (1-3, 6.00ERA, 48IP), Socks Leach (13-11, 4.43ERA, 225.2IP) and Albert York (10-6, 6.79ERA, 156.1IP) should fill out the rest of the starting rotation this season. Magglio Salinas (3-6, 3.12ERA, 35SV) should once again be asked to close the door at the end of the game this season again and once again should do well in that role. As of right now I’m not really sure who the closer is going to be as there are some good options but not a lot experience coming from the bullpen but if I had to choose one it would Herb McCarthy (3-3, 3.50ERA, 12SV). The staff will have a good mixer of youth and talent both in the rotation and bullpen but will the young players take a step back this season is any ones guess.
Projected Record – 90-72
Kansas City Dirt Bags (rklongball)
The Dirt Bags had one of the biggest turn around from last season improving by 17 games the previous year and making it to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. In my opinion rklongball should have won Manager of the Year with the great improvement that he did with the team. Unlike the rest of the American League East teams the Dirt Bags had the most changes, so if that will effect there team this season is any ones guess. The team lost Craig Rivers (P) (3-12, 5.03ERA, 52G), Doc Becker (2B) (.237, 2, 42), Orlando Guevara (P) (2-5, 5.79ERA, 1SV), Pedro Padilla (LF) (.260, 10, 38) and Wesley Buckley (P) (0-1, 11.57ERA, 14G). The team signed Heath Fitzgerald (LF) (.274, 18, 83) from the Madison Lasers for 3yrs/24.0mil with a 2.0mil signing bonus and Brad Campbell (P) (5-6, 2.98ERA, 79G) from the Monterrey Stars for 2yrs/5.4mil. The team resigned Adam Torres (P) (2-2, 2.22ERA, 32G), Wilfredo Fernandez (3B) (.288, 38, 125) and William Hanson (P) (1-3, 1.83ERA, 44SV). The team didn’t make any trades during the off-season. The Dirt Bags needed to resign some good players during the off-season so it left very little room to find some players in the free agent market but they still get a steal with Fitzgerald.
Last season the offensive scored the fewest runs in the American League East but with 905 runs that doesn’t mean that the offensive wasn’t any good. The team didn’t have much pop expect for a couple of players but what they do have is great speed and they had fun running around the bases last season. AllStar Victor Santiago (SS) (.309, 15, 107) may not have the power you expect from someone with 107 RBI’s but hitting second in this lineup allowed him to slap the ball around while runners where constantly in scoring position for him. AllStar Peter Bang (1B) (.300, 13, 68) was the hitter batting in front of Santiago and was consistently on second base with his 73 stolen bases from last season. Returning players Wilfredo Fernandez (3B) (.288, 38, 125), Scott Rapp (DH) (.309, 14, 95), Alex Lee (RF) (.289, 45, 122), Jim McEnroe (CF) (.262, 12, 65) and Matthew Small (LF) (.307, 10, 89) should once be running around the bases this season. The biggest question I have for this team is will they get any production from there catcher this season or will he just be a missing link in the chain of this offensive?
The pitching staff only gave up 820 runs which in the American League is a great number the have. The bullpen looks to be the strength of the staff once again with a great closer in AllStar William Hanson (1-3, 1.83ERA, 44SV) and with the signing of a great set-up man Campbell. Walt Davenport (14-10, 3.88ERA, 213.1IP) saw himself as the staff ace last season as he led the team in victories (14), ERA (3.88), innings pitched (231.1), strikeouts (144) and tied for the most complete games (2) in the starting rotation. William Adcock (11-5, 3.92ERA, 133.1IP) pitched great last season but his 21 starts really hurt him from putting up better numbers last season. Rondell Borbon (6-1, 4.45ERA, 1CG), Jayson Christensen (10-11, 5.36ERA, 184.2IP) and William Creek (6-4, 5.27ERA, 95.2IP) will battle it out for the remaining spots. Hanson is without question one of the best closers in the game and should once again provide that same quality this season. Injuries took a little toll on the pitching staff last season but with everyone healthy this season it should get better from last season.
Projected Record – 91-71
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Atlanta Brave Vawts (vawt)