Tuesday, October 25, 2011

NL South

Atlanta Braves (82-80, 2nd place)
C Claude Lawrence (retired)
After having one of the best pitching staffs in the NL last season, but the one of the worst offenses, Atlanta chose to stand pat in the hope that several players would step it up. Not sure if this is a good strategy or not, but look for a very similar season to last season. With their staff though, if they can squeeze another 50 runs out of their offense, they could be in-line to take back the division crown. With one of the youngest starting lineups in the NL, if Atlanta can get on track, they could be dangerous for many seasons.
Kilgore on this offseason:
Sure...relaxed, spent time with my family....oh, you probably mean from a baseball standpoint. The Braves were quiet during the off season, with no FA signings, only one FA departure. The plan is to continue to develop the young talent built though the draft, international FA signings and a handful of trades. We should contend for the title in one of this World's more competitive divisions. Looking for RF Alex Cheng to take the next step and become one of the league's premier OF threats, for young CF Jhonny Mercedes to step in and play strong defense and get on base enough to capitalize on his speed and baserunning skills, and for 2B Dario York and 3B Kevin McKinley to bounce back from sub-par seasons. Pitching is solid but not spectacular.

Florida Marlins (81-81, 3rd place)
P Phillip Gordon, P Jeff Hudson, SS Nicky Cronin, LF Hector Merced, C Reggie Vickers, Rule 5 2B Erik Swift, Rule 5 LF Brent Wood
SS Vladimir Fernandez, LF Phillip Sheldon, CF Matt Jennings, P Rick Fisher, RF Vic Sanchez, C Eric English, 1B Shawn Bonilla, 2B Enos Bailey, P Mark Kata
Florida had an active offseason, as they added some role players, but lost out on the top FA C in the league. They’ll somehow need to replace the nearly 70 runs scored by English. Their pitching was below average and they did add some good pitchers to help out. The biggest question is whether their pitching is going to be able to stand up to the loss of offense.
mtorabdaddy on this offseason:
One word...disaster. Not only did I lose my starting catcher, I missed out on my top FA target and then I inexplicably signed a type A thus causing me to lose my #1 pick. I should still have a strong staff but I feel my team will struggle to score runs this year without a needed offensive boost.

Houston Astros (68-94, 4th place)

P Guillermo Gil, P Hank Owen, LF Tony Guevara, P Keith Milton, Rule 5 P Terrence Franklin, Rule 5 2B Graham Nickle, Rule 5 1B Wayne Kipnis
C Clete Stark, RF Hipolito Rodriguez, SS Douglas House
1B Khiry Banks, C Max Palacios, 2B Horacio Delgado, P Wilfredo Vizcaino, P Danny Fyhrie, P Daric Telford, C Houston Butler, LF Merv Dorsey
With the 14th ranked pitching staff and 3rd ranked offense in the NL last season, Houston is just a few more pitchers away from really throwing this division into an uproar. Merely reducing the runs allowed by 50 would put them on track to a .500 season.
drichar138 on the offseason:
Last season I felt like my team was just a few free agents away from being a winning team (above .500), so we signed a few mid-tier free agents and felt good about our chances heading into the season and then all hell broke loose. We had major injuries to key players and as it turned out we had our worst season in franchise history. With that in mind, we have shifted our focus for this season. We have lowered payroll in order prepare for our 4 picks in the first 53 spots and are going to bring up some of our youngsters to help boolster the ML team. Moises Gonzalez and Rob Tipton will be called up to the majors after the 20 game mark and will be relied upon to lead the team along with veterans CF Ramirez, RF Martin, RP Woods and SP Titan.

St. Louis Cardinals (85-77, 1st place)
LF Merv Dorsey, P Paul Leius, P Mateo Villanueva, P Hee Sop Nakamura
P Dan Park, LF Antonio Martin, C Chien-Ming Kojima, LF Eric Brown
With the #3 pitching staff and #14 offense, St. Louis defied the odds and won the division last season. They added one of the top offensive players available in FA, while further strengthening their pitching staff. Their offense should improve from last season, which should allow them to maintain their standing on top of the division for the 3rd straight year.
dwboyce on the offseason:
After failing to trade for a closer, I ended up having to pay for Kwon's services one more year and hope he does not deteriorate badly this season. After the signing, I made a trade for more bullpen support. Hopefully the two will shore up the set up and closing duties.

hurricane384’s take:
Once I started looking into this division, it became readily apparent that this is a very competitive division. It truly has a chance to have all 4 teams finish with above .500 records. Unfortunately, they are likely to get just one team into the playoffs on account of how close these teams are to each other. The team to watch is Houston, although I still like St. Louis to win the division.

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