Saturday, January 5, 2008

Team Previews - NL East

Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald

Cincinnati HoundDogs
Last Season: 95-67, 1st place
Studs: SS Rico Romero, SP Carl Maddux
Duds: SS Rico Romero (Teams best player is gifted with the glove, but should hit better than .260)
Outlook: Division champs Cincinnati return the strong rotation that propelled them to the playoffs last season. Outstanding pitching from Joe Marshall, Jose Sanchez, and Maddux was the norm last year, and if the hitters can match the production of the pitchers the HoundDogs should again contend for the playoffs. Look for newcomer Duke Gibbs to make a splash and contend for rookie of the year.
Prediction: 92-70, 2nd place

Durham Pitbulls
Last Season: 67-95, 4th place
Studs: IF Brent Cradle, SP Nate Rodgers
Duds: IF Wiki Vazquez (Talented hitter needs to prove that he can have another relatively injury free season)
Outlook: Durham is bringing the youth up to the big leagues and hoping that it's young talent will produce and develop at the same time. RF Louie Tarraga leads the charge and has potential to be a big time player. 1B Bobby Farr, P George Wohlers, and C Marvin Guerrero also are looking to make an impact. Still, it will be how the veterans perform that will ultimately decide Durhams fate. If Rodgers can get back to all star form, Vazquez can stay healthy, and pitchers Grahame Payton and Kenneth Ventrella can produce, then Durham should improve over last season.
Prediction: 71-91, 4th place

Syracuse Beagles
Last Season: 79-83, 2nd place
Studs: 2B Kenny Blair, SP Ruben Montero
Duds: OF R. J. Hunt (A contact hitter with a good batting eye like Hunt shouldn't hit .248)
Outlook: The pieces are starting to come together for Syracuse as their young hitters and pitchers are maturing and getting used to the big league game. If pitchers Montero, Yorvit Hernandez, and Hoss Carver can reproduce thier stats from a year ago, the offense should be able to give them more run support and hopefully more wins. Blair, OF Jose Cervantes, and SS Angel Vazquez are the heart of a lineup that will only get better as the season wears on. While the fans in Syracuse are sure that next season will be when they make a run, there is an outside chance of a playoff berth this year.
Prediction: 86-76, 3rd place

Wichita Wankers
Last Season: 72-90, 3rd place
Studs: IF Vasco Chantres, RF Grant Keats
Duds: SP Ramon Sasaki (He's better than the 5-13 record he posted last season)
Outlook: This is the season Wichita fans have been waiting for as the management has released the hounds and brought up many of the stud prospects that have been waiting in the minors. This team will sink or swim on the performances of Keats, 2 time AAA MVP Milt Serafini, C Daryl Bates, SP Tony Cho, OF Justin Snopek, and SP Victor Sanchez. If these rookies can produce then the Wankers should have a breakout year, possibly taking the division title away from Cincinnati.
Prediction: 94-68, 1st place

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