Monday, July 26, 2010

Lars the Greek's Season 17 Preview - American League

Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald

For the first time since season 10, an American League team other than the Cleveland Steamers won the AL Pennant, with the Florida Almendares breaking through and ultimately taking the World Series title in season 16.  It will be tough for them to repeat in season 17, as the Steamers are still a juggernaut, Tacoma is drastically improved after one of the biggest trades in Cobb History, and Toronto is rapidly rising in the AL North.  Who will emerge from these and a host of other talented squads to win the AL this year?  Lars looked deep into his ball for the answers, so read on to find out.

American League

Lars the Greeks Divisional Breakdowns

AL North: There has been a seismic shift in the AL North, where the Toronto Blue Jays unseated the perennial division champs Pawtucket after 14 straight division titles, a record streak that is unlikely to ever be broken in Cobb World in the future.  Furthermore, the G-Maniacs trade hall of famer and face of the franchise SP Dean Hernandez to Tacoma in a retooling move.  The other teams in the AL North are rejoicing not having to face the Dean every four starts, and it looks like Toronto is now the clear favorite for the title with their dominant pitching staff and improving lineup.  Pawtucket will be competitive, while Chicago and Seattle continue to rebuild.  But the future is now wide open in the North, and is officially anyone's game.

AL East: Cleveland finally put together a regular season to match what it was capable of in season 16 en route to the #1 seed in the playoffs, while previous division winner Dover put together a solid season worthy of a wildcard berth.  It is looking like another dogfight between these two teams as Syracuse and New York simply don't have the talent to go toe to toe with the two big dogs in the division.  Lars thinks that Cleveland will again take the division title, but not without a fight.

AL South:  Florida and Nashville have been ruling the roost in the South for several seasons now, but in short order the Kansas City Express will be butting their heads in for a piece of the action.  The Express have been very active in the offseason upgrading their franchise with veterans to go along with their upcoming prospects, most notably trading for stud catcher Ralph Woods and signing 1B Brace Davey to add some pop to the lineup.  But while KC is improved, Florida and Nashville both won 100+ games last season, which means that they are still kings as long as players such as Eric Collins and Pedro Franco are plying their trades for those franchises.  Meanwhile the rebuilding Santa Fe Greyhounds have assembled one of the most talented set of SP's in the minors, and in 3-4 seasons will be a force to be reckoned with.  Lars thinks that Florida will take the division again, but it will be much closer. 

AL West:  Anaheim once again proved Lars wrong and easily dispatched the two teams picked to finish ahead of them in the standings and beat out Lars' win prediction by 13 games to easily take the division.  Tacoma and Vancouver disappointed however and didn't live up to the hype.  Things look to be much different this season though, as Vancouver lost a lot of quality to free agency, and Tacoma brought on board one of the greatest difference makers in Cobb today in SP Dean Hernandez.  St. Louis looks to continue rebuilding while the rest of the division dukes it out.  Vancouver managed to recoup some of their losses with free agent signings, but Lars thinks this is a two horse race, and with the addition of Hernandez Tacoma is the favorite.

Projected Cy Young: Dean Hernandez - Tacoma Jerry Gang
--Other Contenders: Kazuhiro Ong (NAS), Benito Beltre (TOR), Darren Howry (PAW), Eric Collins (FLA), Trevor Seelbach (CLE)
Projected MVP: Pedro Franco (NAS)
--Other Contenders: Lyle Crudale (CLE), Ralph Woods (KC), Richard Nakajima (VAN), Vinny Jang (CLE)
Projected Fireman of the Year: Jared Jacobsen - Anaheim Sharks
--Other Contenders: Raymond Hawkins (FLA), Jared Jacobsen (LAA), Edgardo Romero (DOV)
Projected Rookie of the Year: Ralph Walsh - St. Louis Tweakers
--Other Contenders: Shannon Sosa (DOV), Emilio Mairena (NY), Julius Olmos (SYR)

Top Five Rotations in the American League

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

Top Five Bullpens in the American League
1. Cleveland Steamers
2. Anaheim Sharks
3. Florida Almendares
4. Dover Dingos
5. Vancouver Grizzlies

Top Five Lineups in the American League
1. Nashville Rebel Riders
2. Tacoma Jerry Gang
3. Cleveland Steamers
4. Florida Almendares
5. Anaheim Sharks

Top Three Offseason Free Agent Signings
1. Bosco Simon - Toronto Blue Jays
2. Talmadge Young - Dover Dingos
3. Tanner Durham  - Vancouver Grizzlies

Three Teams on the Rise:
1. Toronto Blue Jays
2. St. Louis Tweakers
3. Kansas City Express

Two Teams on the Decline
1. Vancouver Grizzlies
2. Santa Fe Greyhounds

Six prospects who could make a difference if called up this season
1. Morris Coomer - Anaheim Sharks
2. Torey McFarland - Anaheim Sharks
3. Malcolm Tucker - Cleveland Steamers
4. Julio Baez - Florida Almendares
5. Juan Romano - Kansas City Express
6. Ugueth Palaez - Toronto Blue Jays

Projected finishes, by division:

AL North
Toronto Blue Jays - 94-68
Pawtucket G-Maniacs - 85-77
Seattle Pilots - 76-84
Chicago Sabercats - 66-96

AL East
Cleveland Steamers - 102-60
Dover Dingoss - 93-69
Syracuse Sympathizers - 74-88
New York Expos - 65-97

AL South
Florida Almendares - 98-64
Nashville Rebel Riders - 91-71
Kansas City Express - 78-84
Santa Fe Greyhounds - 54-108

AL West
Tacoma Jerry Gang - 103-59
Anaheim Sharks - 98-64
Vancouver Grizzlies 85-77
St. Louis Tweakers - 73-89

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