Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Season 13 Preview - AL and NL East

NL East

Syracuse Beagles (107-55) 1st place
Question: Can The Beagles beat Richmond in the playoffs?
Answer: In what is probably the best lineup and rotation in the league, it's hard to pick just one guy, but Lars likes how Jamie Beimel dominated the regular season last year, and thinks he will be just as good in season 13.
Player to watch: Louie Tarraga brings his MVP calibur skills to Syracuse, and fans will be watching to see if he can help bring home the bacon in the playoffs.
Outlook: 105-57 - 1st place. Lars can say with authority that in an insanely tough division the Beagles are clearly the best team. With the talent on their roster anything less than a World Series appearance will be a disappointment. Lars thinks that if they draw a team other than Richmond in the playoffs, that will be a likely possibility.

Atlanta Pitbulls (89-73) 3rd place
Question: Will this be the season that Atlanta finally makes the playoffs?
Answer: The Pitbulls paid a steep price in their acquisition, but Junior Lee and Nick Weaver are two proven world series championship players with clutch reputations.
Player to watch: Ernest McConnell got paid some big bucks in the offseason, and needs to produce to offset the loss of traded studs Lyle Crudale and Brook Colin.
Outlook: 93-69 2nd place. With the trade for Lee, the Pitbulls have assembled a world championship quality rotation with fellow aces Omar Valenzuela and Tanner Halama. Their lineup is talented as well, but it will be interesting to see how it meshes together with all the new additions. Vernon Jones had a bit of a comeback last season and if he can match that then there is no reason to think that the Pitbulls won't challenge for a wildcard spot.

Columbus HoundDogs (82-80) 3rd place
Question: Will another MVP season from Chipper Harper be wasted on a non playoff team?
Answer: Chipper Harper proved he is arguably the most dangerous hitter in the NL at this moment in time, with a monster year.
Player to watch: The starting rotation as a whole needs to rebound from a year where everything seemed to go wrong. There is too much talent for that to happen again.
Outlook: 90-68 - 3rd place. Lars is a gambling man and is playing the odds that Columbus will rebound from a disappointing season of underperforming play. Harper is golden, The Elvis contingent should be good, and with the addition of all star closer Sarma Inge the bullpen has become a strength. Look for things to improve in Columbus, with them challenging Atlanta for the 2nd spot in the division and a wildcard berth.

Wichita Wankers (92-70) 2nd place
Question: Can the Wankers make it back to the World Series and get a win this time around?
Answer: Davey Silva was once again impressive in easily winning the Cy Young, and is clearly the ace on the staff.
Player to watch: Tanner Durham has to produce more than a .781 OPS, especially as he will be counted on to carry more of the load with the departure of Grant Keats and Justin Snopek.
Outlook: 88-74 - 4th place. Last years surprise world series team took the NL playoffs by storm after riding a huge 2nd half surge that carried them from mediocrity into the playoffs. The Wankers cannot afford another slow start like that this year, as the NL East is too tough to fall behind in and expect to contend. With the departure of two key offensive players in Keats and Snopek, Lars thinks the Wankers have fallen a bit behind in the arms race, and will suffer as a result.

AL East

Cleveland Steamers (96-66) 2nd place
Question: Will the World Champion Steamers make it four straight series appearances and continue their domination of the AL?
Answer: Ruben Gonzales has been nothing but clutch, and is making an argument for the best playoff pitcher of all time.
Player to watch: New additions Lyle Crudale and Brook Colin will be expected to repeat their NL numbers to offset the loss of offensive anchor Nick Weaver.
Outlook: 102-60 - 1st place. The Steamers made a number of trades in the offseason to remake their team, but one thing remains the same and that it is probably the team to beat in the American League. The return of Gary Ferguson coupled with the stellar bullpen work of Trevor Seelbach makes this a deadly rotation, and the lineup is very deep and deadly. There are some injury risk issues, but Lars thinks that barring several big ones, this should be another successful season for Cleveland.

Washington D.C. Momentum (89-73) 2nd place
Question: Will the Momentum keep building in D.C. to the pointe where they can overtake Cleveland?
Answer: Rico Estrada keeps on going, and keeps on selling his shades and jerseys to legions of adoring fans.
Player to watch: Ken Puffer and Ralph Hill will be expected to bring their very respectable talents to bear as D.C. makes a run at taking back the AL East.
Outlook: 94-68- 2nd place. Lars respects the offseason moves the Momentum made in bringing some proven arms and bats to the team. Whether they will be enough to keep pace with Cleveland remains to be seen, but this is clearly the 2nd best team in the division, possibly the 1st with a few breaks. But Lars doesn't pick against reigning world series champions unless he has a good reason to, so he is playing the safe bet and placing the talented D.C. squad in the second slot in the AL East this season.

Pittsburgh SSP (79-83) tie - 3rd place
Question: Will anyone step up to replace departed FA R.J. Cubillan?
Answer: Gregg Young has to shoulder more of the offensive load with Cubillan's departure, and he can handle it.
Player to watch: The rotation as a whole was pretty disappointing last season, and players like Brian Wells are capable of more than a .500 record.
Outlook: 84-78 - 3rd place. The SSP are a good team, just not as good as Cleveland and Washington at the moment. But with Boston franchise going into rebuilding mode Pittsburgh should finally have some easy division games to help keep them in contention for a wildcard spot. Depending on how things shake out in the other AL divisions they could very well swipe the final playoff position, or conversely suffer a sub .500 record. Lars is thinking something between the two is more likely.

Boston Loggers(79-83) tie - 3rd place
Question: Will the fans in Boston accept a team that is trying to retool?
Answer: The farm system is now the answer in Boston as it jettisoned many veterans in the offseason for younger talent.
Player to watch: Francis Kent is one of the young guns who will be counted on to revive the fortunes of this proud franchise, and his developing bat has the ability to help.
Outlook: 64-98 - 4th place. Lars understands that the Boston team was in a bit of a pickle, with so many aging veterans and little in the way of minor league talent to replace them. He thinks that the moves made in the offseason to free up salary and bring in minor league talent were commendable, but the on field result for the ML squad will show the results. While this year may not be the best, it was the right move to make and the young players on the ML team can steal a game from most teams on any given day, so there is reason for the fans to show up.

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