Saturday, January 5, 2008

Team Previews - NL North

Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald

Fargo Fug Nuts
Last Season: 110-52, 1st place
Studs: SS Corey Green, P Kirk White
Duds: P Steven Floyd (5.01 ERA and 1.48 WHIP was worst in the rotation)
Outlook: Word Series champs Fargo are still loaded for season 7, even though half the team has been traded away. The offensive core is still in place with MVP candidate Green, Jeremy Hernandez, Wayne Wilson, and Ernest McConnell in place. The pitching staff is above average as well with studs John Chang and Zephyr Burns, but the true pitching strength is the bullpen. Boasting three dominant closers in White, Steven Booker, and Sarma Inge, there is no reason why Fargo can't repeat as division champs and go far into the playoffs yet again.
Prediction: 108-54, 1st place

New York Pick Pockets
Last Season: 83-79, 3rd place
Studs: SP Kirt Hooper, 1B Joseph Pan
Duds: SP Andre Eaton (Needs to master his control issues and stay in the bigs to justify 5.4 million salary)
Outlook: NY has many talented players and if it didn't play in the NL North could possibly contend for a division title elsewhere. But There is still the possibility of wildcard contention, especially if new addition Elvis Christman can match the production of ace Kirt Hooper. If Pan can stay healthy for a full season he should be nicely complemented by Stewart DiSarcina and Louie Sanchez. The defense is solid, and the rotation is good, but the pen is a little suspect. If things go right a wildcard birth is a definate possibility.
Prediction: 85-77, 3rd place

Sioux Falls Corn Cleats
Last Season: 109-53, 2nd place
Studs: SP Vance Weaver, C Vernon Jones
Duds: 1B Ben Harris (Talented hitter is capable of doing much better than .255 BA)
Outlook: The Corn Cleats came within one game of dethroning perpetual division champs Fargo last season, and this year might be the season they break through. New addition Hades Booker is a devastating hitter when healthy, and forms a solid core with all stars Jones and Marino Sierra. The leagues best pitching staff returns all of its major players, with former Cy Young Weaver hoping to bounce back from an injury plagued season and Benito Rodriguez looking to contend for awards. Health issues plague many of the players on this team, but if those are avoided the Cleats could go all the way.
Prediction: 106-56, 2nd place

Toledo Tsunamis
Last Season: 70-92, 4th place
Studs: SS Morris Lloyd, P Timothy Clark
Duds: P Willie Oliva (Needs to prove that his numbers after trade to Toledo weren't a fluke)
Outlook: Steadily improving Toledo is bringing many young talented players to the bigs this season, including Wally Rubel, Pedro Moreno, and Wally Dickerson. Veteran SS Lloyd provides the solid defense that was lacking at that position last season, and the pitching is solid if not spectacular. As the young players develop and the stars in the minors continue to improve the future looks bright for Toledo, but the future is still probably a season away at this point.
Prediction: 73-89, 4th place

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