Saturday, April 24, 2010

Season 16 Preview - American League

Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald

Once again last season Cleveland followed it's usual M.O. and made the playoffs as a wildcard entrant, and then proceeded to unseat the top seeded teams en route to an incredible 6th straight World Series appearance, where they lost to the powerful Columbus side from the NL.  How will this season fare in the AL, will it be more of the same as the rest of the league just plays for regular season glory while Cleveland tears through the postseason yet again?  Or will there finally be someone else representing the junior circuit in the championship?  Read on to see how Lars thinks the regular season will play out.

American League

Lars the Greeks Divisional Breakdowns

AL North: For as long as Lars can remember Pawtucket has owned the AL North.  But the winds of change are blowing and not even the mighty Dean Hernandez may be enough to stop the oncoming Toronto Blue Jays storm.  The Chicago Sabercats and Seattle Pilots are rebuilding for the future, so this is a two team race featuring a long time powerhouse vs. a franchise that is sorely overdue for some success.  Lars thinks that with the moves Toronto made in the offseason to shore up their lineup plus their maturing and very impressive pitching staff they will finally have enough to unseat the mighty G- Maniacs.

AL East: Dover owned the regular season last year while Cleveland once again did enough to get into the playoffs, where they have ruled supreme in recent memory.  Lars sees more of the same this year as both squads remain very talented and are clearly superior at the moment to their divisional rivals in Syracuse and New York.  While those two teams rebuild to challenge in a few seasons, it looks like another dogfight for the top spot.  Lars sees a similar outcome to last season as Dover is the deeper of the two franchises, and that benefit will be reaped in the regular season. 

AL South:  The AL South has the real potential to be what the NL East is currently in a season or two, as all four teams look to be very good in the upcoming seasons.  This year though Kansas City is a season or two away and will probably finish at the bottom of the division, albeit with a competitive record.  Florida and Nashville are locks to be good teams and have winning records, while the Dogs move to Santa Fe is the wildcard in this division.  Santa Fe improved their ML team by leaps and bounds in the offseason, and if their pitchers arms stay attached could match the performances of the divisional favorites.  This should get interesting, and picking a division winner for the AL South is extremely difficult indeed.

AL West:  This division should be a similar story to the last few seasons as Tacoma and Vancouver are the favorites, and St. Louis and Anaheim are dark horse candidates for a wild card spot.  Vancouver hasn't been able to quite put it together the last few seasons, but they added some huge free agent signings in the offseason that make their lineup very dangerous.  Lars thinks that this year might be the time they finally beat out their Pacific Northwest rival to the North for the division.

Projected Cy Young: Dean Hernandez - Pawtucket G-Maniacs
--Other Contenders: Kazuhiro Ong (NAS), Benito Beltre (TOR), Tommy Wakeland (VAN), Darren Howry (TAC), Eric Collins (FLA), Trevor Seelbach (CLE)
Projected MVP: Pedro Franco (NAS)
--Other Contenders: Lyle Crudale (CLE), Ralph Woods (SFE), Richard Nakajima (VAN)
Projected Fireman of the Year: Trevor Seelbach - Cleveland Steamers
--Other Contenders: Raymond Hawkins (FLA), Jared Jacobsen (LAA), Edgardo Romero (DOV)
Projected Rookie of the Year: Russell Walker - Toronto Blue Jays
--Other Contenders: Mike O'Shea (DOV), Damaso Pizarro (SYR)

Top Five Rotations in the American League

1. Toronto Blue Jays
2. Florida Almendares
3. Pawtucket G-Maniacs
4. Tacoma Jerry Gang
5. Vancouver Grizzlies

Top Five Lineups in the American League
1. Nashville Rebel Riders
2. Vancouver Grizzlies
3. Toronto Blue Jays
4. Santa Fe Greyhounds
5. Cleveland Steamers

Top Three Offseason Free Agent Signings
1. Bosco Simon - Vancouver Grizzlies
2. Victor Gandarillas - Santa Fe Greyhounds
3. Ignacio Lopez  - Vancouver Grizzlies

Four Teams on the Rise:
1. Toronto Blue Jays
2. Vancouver Grizzlies
3. Santa Fe Greyhounds
4. Kansas City Express

Two Teams on the Decline
1. Anaheim Sharks
2. Chicago Sabercats

Four prospects who could make a difference if called up this season
1. Morris Coomer - Anaheim Sharks
2. Malcolm Tucker - Cleveland Steamers
3. Harry Barnes - Vancouver Grizzlies
4. Enos French - Vancouver Grizzlies

Projected finishes, by division:

AL North
Toronto Blue Jays - 94-68
Pawtucket G-Maniacs - 88-74
Seattle Pilots - 72-90
Chicago Sabercats - 64-98

AL East
Dover Dingos - 96-66
Cleveland Steamers-94-68
Syracuse Sympathizers - 76-86
New York Expos - 63-99

AL South
Florida Almendares - 92-70
Nashville Rebel Riders - 90-72
Santa Fe Greyhounds - 85-77
Kansas City Express - 63-99

AL West
Vancouver Grizzlies - 97-65
Tacoma Jerry Gang - 95-67
Anaheim Sharks 89-73
St. Louis Tweakers - 71-91

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