Friday, October 17, 2008

Season 10 Preview - AL and NL South

NL South

Huntington Hillbillies (87-75) 2nd place
Question: Will this be the season the Hillbillies rebuilding process pays off with a division title?
Answer: The line up is almost as good as the season 1 & 2 glory days, and should produce buckets of runs.
Player to watch: Quilvio Suarez has had several seasons to adapt to the bigs, now it's time for him to produce like he is capable of.
Outlook: 95-67 - 1st place. With the restructuring going on in Louisville and Jackson, and with Richmond still not ready, this is the year for the Hillbillies to reclaim the throne in the NL South. They finally have just enough pitching to get them by, and their lineup is as deadly as any in the league.

Louisville Tysons (89-73) 1st place
Question: How will the team adapt to the loss of former MVP and franchise legend Dallas Kline, and former Cy Young David Rosado?
Answer: CF Emmanuel Castillo is the new face of the franchise, and is a run scoring leadoff machine.
Player to watch: Roosevelt Lowell - the aging Lowell is now the best hitter on the team, and the Tysons will be depending on him to anchor their lineup.
Outlook: 86-76 - 2nd place. Big changes are happening in Louisville, and the leftovers from their playoff teams of the last few seasons will be competitive enough to achieve a winning record, but you don't replace the players they lost overnight.

Jackson Pollocks (78-84) 3rd place
Question: How quickly will the Pollocks rebuild after their offseason house cleaning?
Answer: The minors are now where the answer lies for the Pollocks, as the rebuilding process begins in earnest.
Player to watch: Woody Olerud will be counted on to mentor the young players on the big league squad after offseason exodus of their veteran core.
Outlook: 71-91 - 3rd place. Last season was the first losing year in franchise history, and the management decided to wholely embrace rebuilding for the future in light of that. It will be hard to replace the power of Domingo Montana and the wins of Eddie Rivers, so Lars sees a further decline at the ML level.

Richmond Cohibas (53-109) 4th place
Question: Will the Cohibas improving ML lineup top 65 wins?
Answer: Finally the talented signings and draft picks of past seasons are making the big league roster, and the Cohibas will be competitive this season.
Player to watch: Ernie Jenkins - Richmond made a big statement in signing 2 time MVP Ernie Jenkins, who will be expected to anchor the lineup and mentor the youth.
Outlook: 70-92 - 4th place. The Cohibas should finally start to make strides towards the top of the division, although Lars still thinks they are a year away at this point. Still the 30-40 win seasons of the past will be a distant memory by seasons end as the Cohibas finally start to bring it at the ML level.

AL South

Nashville Rebel Riders (95-67) 2nd place
Question: Will the Rebel Riders continue their ascension and top 100 wins?
Answer: Enrique Guardado established himself as a true force with a very good season 9, and looks to continue that pace in season 10.
Player to watch: Dallas Kline - he may no longer be the most talented player on his team, but the future HOF'er may still have one more good season left.
Outlook: 96-66 - 1st place. Nashville is a very solid team and clearly has the best pitching staff in the AL South, when complemented by their improved lineup should equal another division title.

Mexico City Diablos Rojos (79-83) 2nd place
Question: Will Mexico Cities pitching be able to keep up with their improved lineup?
Answer: The signings of Hades Booker and Domingo Montana seriously improved the Diablos lineup, to the point where it is the equal of most other teams in the league.
Player to watch: Eric Collins - This might be the season that the mustache of Eric Collins makes it's ML debut, much to the chagrin of opposing batters.
Outlook: 88-74 - 2nd place. Mexico City really upgraded their team with Booker and Montana, and if the pitching can keep pace, especially if Collins hits the bigs, then a division title isn't out of the question. But for the moment Lars still thinks that Nashville has a better rotation and thus a better shot.

Charlotte Dogs (76-86) 3rd place
Question: How long can Geoffrey Gates keep it going at an elite level?
Answer: Bo Rhodes should own lefties in the AL, and power the Charlotte offense.
Player to watch: Abraham Traynor - A good portion of the Dogs offense will depend on whether Traynor can avoid a sophomore slump and produce to his potential.
Outlook: 72-90 - 3rd place. The Dogs will play with a team pride unequalled by any other in the league, and that should keep them in every game they play. But ultimately more teams have spent more money, and with many of Charlotte's best talent being located in the minors, this season will go to Mexico City and Nashville. But as everyone in the league knows, the Commissioner is a shining beacon of baseball hope, and that alone should inspire his team to greater heights in the future.

Kansas City Express (65-97) 4th place
Question: How will the fans in Kansas City react to losing a horrible team just as it was about to start winning for another team that looks like it has a long way to go?
Answer: Willie Kotsay will thrill the fans with his solid work at the plate, both at bat and in catchers gear.
Player to watch: R. J. Hunt - Will the enigmatic leadoff man post a respectable batting average, or will he hover around .200 again?
Outlook: 65-97 - 4th place. As the rebuilding continues in a new home for the Express, fans need to be patient while the minor leaguers hone their skills. Still, there is enough talent on the ML team to win any given day, which should be enough of an improvement to please the fans in Kansas City this year.

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