Saturday, July 12, 2008

Season 9 Preview - AL & NL West

NL West

Omaha Sluggers (113-49) 1st place
Question: Will Sean Hill rebound to Season 6 & 7 form or will he post another 1.61 WHIP as the Sluggers Closer?
Answer: If healthy Kaz Ong and Jose Barrios will be finalists for the Cy and MVP respectively.
Outlook: 114-48 - 1st place. Omaha is loaded with talent top to bottom, and should easily take the NL West this season. Look for them to challenge for the #1 seed, and make another run for the championship.

Iowa City Corn Dogs (71-91) 2nd place
Question: Can the Corn Dogs find some offense to support their pitching staff?
Answer: The Corn Dogs starting rotation is as good as any in the league.
Outlook: 75-87 - 2nd place. Iowa City has pitching galore, but the offense is a bit stagnant and as a result look for another second place finish for this franchise. Still, with Omaha being so good it isn't a bad time to be rebuilding the lineup.

Seattle Seacows (56-106) 4th place
Question: Can the Seacows pitching be competitive enough to break 65 wins?
Answer: Promising young talent like Rico Cruz and Willie Bennett mean the Seacows offense will be making waves.
Outlook: 66-96 - 3rd place. The Seacows should see an improvement over last season as young draft picks and internationals make their way into the big league lineup. But Seattle is still a few seasons away.

Honolulu Islanders (63-99) 3rd place
Question: Will the young and untested Islanders lineup be able to produce in the bigs?
Answer: Victor Romano is lights out in the pen, and should post very good stats if he can inherit a lead.
Outlook: 65-97 - 4th place - Honolulu has thrown its lot with the youth, and as many of their players are still developing the Islanders remain a work in progress, albeit one with a lot of promise.

AL West

Question: Anaheim Sharks (117-45) 1st place
Question: Can Anaheim's aging trio or Olmedo Contreras, Henry Perez, and Shayne Campbell (ages 35, 32, 37 respectively) continue to pitch the Sharks into the postseason?
Answer: Reigning AL MVP Kory Arnold will continue to improve in his third season as the anchor of the Sharks' powerful lineup.
Outlook: 112-50 - 1st place. Even with an aging pitching staff the Sharks are just too good to finish anywhere other than 1st place in the AL West. What is of a bigger concern is if they will face another first round flameout like last season in the playoffs.

Vancouver Grizzlies (87-75) 2nd place
Question: Can the Grizzlies improve on last years surprise 2nd place finish and obtain a Wild Card spot?
Answer: Patrick Stanton is the complete package at Catcher for the Grizzlies, and will ensure that the pitching staff and the offense has an anchor.
Outlook: 90-72 - 2nd place. The Grizzlies are still young and should improve upon last seasons performance. A playoff spot is a very real possibility for this team.

Helena Hellraisers (82-80) 3rd place
Question: Can the Hellraisers avoid the bad luck of injuries and player slumps that killed last season?
Answer: Orber Olivo is still very good, but Patrick Lamb and new addition Hades Booker will drive the Hellraisers offense this season.
Outlook - 90-72 - 3rd place. The Hellraisers should improve from last year and revert to Season 7 form, but in the meantime Vancouver has improved and should give Helena a run for second place in the AL West.

Tacoma Jerry Gang (62-100) 4th place
Question: Will the Jerry Gang's prospects and young players continue to improve, or will they take a step back?
Answer: Victor Gandarillas is good, and pitching in the Tacoma ballpark should keep the Jerry Gang in any game he starts.
Outlook: 67-95 - 4th place. The Jerry Gang will improve, but it will be hard to tell because the other 3 teams in the AL West are very good. Still, improvement is happening and help is on the way in the minors.

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