Thursday, October 22, 2009

Season 14 Preview - National League

Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald

The more things change in Cobb World, the more they stay the same. That much was evident last season as the playoffs welcomed some teams that hadn't seen the glory of the postseason in over a decade, or ever, yet still yielded a World Series where Omaha triumphed over Cleveland for the 3rd time in 4 seasons. But the winds of change are blowing through Cobb, as some teams are clearly on the rise, while others are in decline. To help you make sense of it all, Lars the Greek has cast the runes to see who will ultimately triumph in season 14.

National League

Overview: The National League has been ruled by Syracuse for the past two regular seasons. In the playoffs it's been another story as Omaha has passed the test numerous times, and Wichita recently made a surprise appearance in the World Series. This season looks to be not much different, as Syracuse clearly has the best team on paper, but Omaha has the experience where it counts in the playoffs. Lars sees Syracuse posting another dominant year with an easy path to the #1 seed, while the race for the #2 seed will be a bit more competitive, but will probably once again result in Omaha receiving the playoff bye. The second best team in the NL might actually be another member of the increasingly brutal NL East, but with Syracuse being so good at the moment, the best they can hope for is a wildcard berth.

Outside of the two top teams the rest of the NL is a pretty wide open race for the final four playoff spots. Lars thinks pretty much every team save Trenton, Montgomery, and the NL West outside of Omaha has a shot at the playoffs, and those five teams are rapidly closing the gap. The end result should be a very exciting wildcard race to close the regular season in the National League.

Projected Cy Young: Davey Silva - Wichita
Projected MVP: Paul Jung - Syracuse
Projected Fireman of the Year: Kirk White - Syracuse
Projected Rookie of the Year: Blade Haas - Los Angeles Leopards

Top Five Rotations in the National League
1. Omaha Sluggers
2. Atlanta Pitbulls
3. Syracuse Beagles
4. Columbus HoundDogs
5. Sioux Falls Corn Cleats

Top Five Lineups in the National League
1. Syracuse Beagles
2. Charlotte Thunder
3. Omaha Sluggers
4. New York Pick Pockets
5. Wichita Wankers

Top Three Offseason Free Agent Signings
1. Rico Estrada - Trenton Lions
2. Benito Rodriguez - Los Angeles Leopards
3. Ruben Montero - New York Pick Pockets

Four Teams on the Rise:
1. New York Pick Pockets
2. Iowa City Corn Dogs
3. San Francisco Earthquakes
4. Trenton Lions

Three Teams on the Decline
1. Sioux Falls Corn Cleats
2. Hartford Whalers
3. Omaha Sluggers

Five prospects who could make a difference if called up this season
1. Furio Kydd - Iowa City Corn Dogs
2. Harold Austin - Richmond Cohibas
3. Tim Collins - Montgomery Burns
4. Morgan Kirby - Montgomery Burns
5. Kazuhiro Martin - San Francisco Earthquakes

Projected finishes, by division:

NL North
New York Pick Pockets - 91-71
Sioux Falls Corn Cleats - 89-73
Hartford Whalers - 82-80
Trenton Lions - 70-92

NL East
Syracuse Beagles - 107-55
Wichita Wankers - 92-70
Columbus HoundDogs - 89-73
Atlanta Pitbulls - 88-74

NL South
Charlotte Thunder - 89-73
Richmond Cohibas - 87-75
Jackson Pollocks - 82-80
Montgomery Burns - 54-108

NL West
Omaha Sluggers - 96-66
Iowa City Corn Dogs - 78-84
San Francisco Earthquakes - 75-87
Los Angeles Leopards - 71-91

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