PREVIEW: In the off-season Ard re-signed Jimmie James and let Rupe, Surkamp, Paniagua and Li go to free agency. He released Tavarez to finish the minor house cleaning. To replace them he signed free agent Urbina and Pena and promoted Donatello,Nelson,Carrasco and D'Amico. The Pirates got younger with several players going to free agency and retirement. He promoted some mid-level prospects that are ready for the bigs. Ard has done a great job here and this team is my pick for the division win. But it will be close with Richmond playing well. PREDICTION:90-72(Division Winner)
AT THE BREAK: Pittsburgh is on it's way to a division win after starting the season 2-8. And up until a couple weeks ago, it looked like my prediction of a Pirate Division pennant was in jeopardy. Right now Pittsburgh is on pace to win 87 games ,but I still think they will win 90+. Ard's pitching ERA is ranked 5th in the A L (4.20) due to his staff giving up the 3rd fewest homers (101) and the 5th fewest walks (272). The defenses 26 + plays to 28 - plays haven't helped . The Pirates hit em far or Whif approach to hitting is the main reasons for the slow start. They hit the 5th most homers (138)and are 2nd worst in strikeouts (650). The Pirates are a good bet to win this division but to make it far in the post season.........they will need to fix the strikeout problem.
PREVIEW: In the off-season Jmuhtoff re-signed Jake Alston and let Teagarden, Neugebauer, Scott, Bragg, Lowell,Burrell and griffin go to free agency. Then he claimed Gonzalez, Edwards and Creek off the wire. He signed free agents Renteria, Moreno and O'Brien and promoted Sullivan and Pryce. Finally he brought in Ramirez, Romero and Allen through earlier trades. Jmuhtoff lowered his overall salaries by 29 million. He also traded away some nice prospects for Allen,Romero and Ramirez, and they are solid players. Looking at the franchise rankings they will give up alot of fly balls but won't walk many. Defensively they have the worst arm strength and accuracy, Offensively they have the best hitting eye with the other categories about average. Looks like a average year. PREDICTION:81-81
AT THE BREAK: Right now the RedTails are on pace to win 73 games ,just a tad below my prediction of 81. The pitching, as predicted, is stingy in the walk department (268-4th fewest). Defensively they haven't committed very many errors (51-4th fewest) ,but as predicted, the arm strength and accuracy have hurt in the double play department (199 DP-3rd fewest). As far as hitting, they are pretty good with the 5th ranked average in the AL (.278) and the 3rd fewest strike outs (543). Having the previews best hitting eye is the major reason for this nice stat. Louisville has some good traits and bad ones. I'm sure Jmuhtoff knows what they are and theres no need for panic. Because he did sign 3 of his 4 first round picks in the draft. (Artie Ward , Wayne Lo Duca , Tony Spence) The future is looking brighter in Louisville.
PREVIEW: in the off-season. He re-signed Michael Henry , Geronimo Cruz and Jimmie Nieves and let Baez and Pena go to free agency. Then he waived Franco who was picked-up by the Kickapoos. He signed free agent Pena and traded for Aguillar and Padilla. With the signing of Pena , Franco was the odd man out . Pena has averaged 12 wins the past 3 seasons, he also has averaged close to 10 losses in the same 3 seasons. It's a tad better than Francos 8-10 season last year.Padilla is a career .319 hitter and will be a good replacement for Baez. With the tweaks, the Revolutionaries got a little better,but I think the improved Pirates will edge Richmond for the division. PREDICTION:89-73
AT THE BREAK: Like the RedTails ,the Revolutionaries are on pace to win 73 games. But my prediction that they would battle for the division was ...er....plum wrong. Ihateunc is scratching his head as this mid-January post attests :"Offense went from top 5 runs scored, to 10. Pitching steps up and we start getting shut out. Frustrating"
I'm looking at the stats and the hitting is pretty good with a batting average of .281 (4th best) and a OBP of .349 (T-2nd best). The pitching took a step back with a ERA of 5.06 (3rd worst) and 507 runs allowed (3rd worst) . Add a A L worst 33 negative plays in the field and it's easy to see why they are only at 41 wins. Frustrating Indeed!
PREVIEW: In the off-season Avatrael let Molina, Hawkins, Maeda and Munoz go to free agency. Then he signed free agents Allen, Fernandez and Wise. Avantrael still has a couple roster spots open as I write this. He has some players in AAA he may call up or maybe he will play the waiver wire game. But I do know that the free agent pitchers he picked up will improve a already good pitching staff. He will need some offense to be a contender.PREDICTION: 80-82
AT THE BREAK: The Northmen are gonna finish way below my 80 win prediction. I wrote that Avantreal will need some offense to be a contender...well....that didn't happen . Right now this team is like a broke ugly guy in a bar . Can't Score! They have scored only 349 runs (2nd worst) and the batting average is only .249 (2nd worst). Too bad, the pitching (4.31 ERA-6th) and defense (41 + plays to 9 - plays) are decent . it's unlikely that Avantrael will bring in some hitting with only 38 wins at the break. Right now they are on track to win 68 games and that should get them a good draft pick next year.