Thursday, April 22, 2010

Season 16 Preview - National League

Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald

The dynasties of the past are officially dead in the National League, and the NL East proved their mettle with three playoff teams and the eventual World Series champions in the Columbus HoundDogs.  The HoundDogs were especially dominant last season, with the best record in both leagues, the W.S. title, and a sweep of all major awards.  It will be very difficult for them to match that feat again this season, but they do have the horses to make a run at the repeat.  Who will stand in their way?  Read on and find out.

National League

Lars the Greeks Divisional Breakdowns

NL North: The NL North looks to be a three team race between New York, Trenton, and Sioux Falls.  Burlington is in a full on rebuild and won't be a factor at the ML level this season.  Of the three contenders all have flaws - Sioux Falls has great pitching and Kirk White but their offense is anemic, New York has a great lineup and rotation but the bullpen is iffy, and Trenton has some great hitters but only two starters who can really get the job done. Lars thinks that New York has the slight edge here.

NL East: Tampa Bay (formerly Syracuse) really shook up the division with tons of trades this season and signed a lot of talented veteran free agents, but even with all those moves Lars doesn't think that this year will be any different from last season when they won 95 games and finished 4th.  This division belongs to Columbus until someone knocks them from their perch.  Wichita and Atlanta are certainly capable of doing so, as they have the talent, but Columbus is probably just too good this year.  But Lars thinks that there will be three playoff teams from this division once again, as Tampa, Wichita, and Atlanta are all pretty evenly matched. 

NL South:  Jackson took a major step back last season, going from a World Series team to the cellar, and sold most of their major league team as a result this offseason, so Lars doesn't see them making an impact in the divisional race.  That leaves Richmond, who has been enjoying a pretty good run the last few seasons, Charlotte, which has some great hitters but lost a lot to free agency this year, and Montgomery, who if they call up their incredible slew of uber talented minor leaguers could have the best team in the National League.  Lars thinks that this is the year that the Montgomery franchise goes back to the top of the NL South

NL West:  San Francisco won the division handily last year, but thanks to some untimely injuries faltered in the playoffs.  Iowa City has the same level of talent but just didn't get it done last year, so they are looking to make amends and give the Earthquakes a run for their money.  Omaha is well managed and in transition so look for them to have a winning record but not really factor into the division, and Los Angeles is getting much better but just isn't quite there yet.  Lars thinks that if Iowa Cities pitchers perform like they should, they have a slight edge this season. 

Projected Cy Young: Davey Silva - Wichita Wankers
--Other Contenders: Clyde Ford (SF), Talmadge Young (COL), Ivan Canseco (SF), Junior Lee (ATL), Furio Kydd (IA)
Projected MVP: Chipper Harper - Columbus
--Other Contenders: Nick Weaver (ATL), Omar Rosado (NY2), Tim Collins (MNT)
Projected Fireman of the Year: Kirk White - Sioux Falls
--Other Contenders: Sarma Inge (CLB)
Projected Rookie of the Year: Wascar Galvez - Trenton Lions
--Other Contenders: Bo Bianucci (SXF), Juan Javier (TB), Kazuhiro Martin (SF), Jesus Tabaka (LA)

Top Five Rotations in the National League
1. Tampa Bay Beagles
2. Columbus HoundDogs
3. Atlanta Pitbulls
4. San Francisco Earthquakes
5. Iowa City Corn Dogs

Top Five Bullpens in the National League
1. Sioux Falls Corn Cleats
2. Columbus HoundDogs
3. San Francisco Earthquakes
4. Wichita Wankers
5. Tampa Bay Beagles

Top Five Lineups in the National League
1. Columbus HoundDogs
2. Trenton Lions
3. Atlanta Pitbulls
4. Iowa City Corn Dogs
5. Wichita Wankers

Top Three Offseason Free Agent Signings
1. Bernie Almonte - New York Pick Pockets
2. Alex Presley - Charlotte Thunder
3. Jerry Ross - Richmond Cohibas

Top Three Trade Acquisitions
1. Kirk White - Sioux Falls Corn Cleats
2. Louie Tarraga - Montgomery Burns
3. Frank Hartgraves - Jackson Pollocks

Four Teams on the Rise:
1. Montgomery Burns
2. Trenton Lions
3. San Francisco Earthquakes
4. Los Angeles Leopards

Three Teams on the Decline
1. Jackson Pollocks
2. Burlington Champs
3. Charlotte Thunder

Seven prospects who could make a difference if called up this season
1. Michael Leonard - Iowa City Corn Dogs
2. Doyle Grey - Montgomery Burns
3. Morgan Kirby - Montgomery Burns
4. Jamie Hayashi - Montgomery Burns
5. Ignacio Feliz - Montgomery Burns
6. Brutus Meyers - Omaha Sluggers
7. Andres Tatis - San Francisco Earthquakes

Projected finishes, by division:

NL North
New York Pick Pockets -91-71
Sioux Falls Corn Cleats - 88-74
Trenton Lions - 84-78
Burlington Champs - 68-94

NL East
Columbus HoundDogs - 104-58
Atlanta Pitbulls - 94-68
Tampa Bay Beagles - 92-70
Wichita Wankers - 90-72

NL South
Montomgery Burns - 96-66
Richmond Cohibas - 87-75
Charlotte Thunder - 72-90
Jackson Pollocks - 64-98

NL West
Iowa City Corn Dogs - 93-69
San Francisco Earthquakes - 89-74
Omaha Sluggers - 84-78
Los Angeles Leopards - 73-89

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