Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lars the Greek's Season 17 Preview - National League

Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald

The National League relinquished it's hold on the world series trophy when Richmond got swept by Florida in last years championship.  But Richmond making it to the Series heralded a new wide open era where the pennant is anyone's game in the National League, as quality teams abound and there is little separating division champions from 3rd place.  Lars the Greek is back once again to break it all down and use his viking runes to see who will come out of the melee and represent the senior circuit in the playoffs.

National League

Lars the Greeks Divisional Breakdowns

NL North: For the second season in a row the NL North came down to the last game, and this time it was New York getting the better of Sioux Falls with an extra innings win to take the division.  It looks like more of the same, with the Cleats and the Pick Pockets sporting pretty equal squads, while Trenton looks to capitalize on their first ever winning season with even more progress.  Burlington is probably a few seasons away yet, but they still have the capability to beat anyone on the right day.  Even though Trenton has the best lineup of any of the teams in the division Lars is predicting that until they get some pitching, it's going to keep coming down to Sioux Falls and New York, and Lars likes the Cleats just a little bit better this season, thanks mostly to the potential of 185 more innings of Kirk White. 

NL East: Atlanta emerged from a four team dogfight that was the tightest divisional contest in years, winning by one game over Tampa Bay and Columbus, and two over Wichita.  Things have been shaken up yet again in what was a very competitive offseason where Atlanta bid hard on the top free agents but had to settle for their second choices, Tampa signed the best available pitcher but promptly put him up for sale on the trade market, Columbus made some trades but is mostly unchanged, and Wichita made some big acquisitions.  Who will win the NL Beast is entirely up for grabs, at least in Lars opinion.

NL South: Montgomery looked like the team to beat for much of the season in the NL South last year, but Richmond charged hard down the stretch to take the division and ultimately reach the World Series for the first time in franchise history.  Will they have what it takes to repeat as NL champs this year?  Probably not, simply because the NL is so deep and Montgomery has yet another wave of stud minor leaguers ready to be called to big league service.  Jackson and Charlotte recognize that this might not be the best time to compete for the division title and are reloading the chambers to make a run down the road a few seasons.  It's a two horse race, and Lars thinks that this year Montgomery has the edge.

NL West:  San Francisco suffered greatly last season and went from divisional winner to a losing record, leaving Iowa City to claim the NL West.  The Corn Dogs were a deserving champ though, and earned the #1 overall seed in the NL playoffs, before losing a tough series to Richmond in the NL championship round.  Omaha is rebuilding with steady and noticable progress, as are the Leopards, although Los Angeles is currently in a bigger rebuild state than the Sluggers.  San Francisco might give Iowa City a challenge this year if things fall into place for the Earthquakes, but Lars thinks that Iowa City should take the West without breaking too much of a sweat. 

Projected Cy Young: Kirk White - Sioux Falls Corn Cleats
--Other Contenders: Davey Silva (WIC), Tommy Wakeland (TB), Jamie Hayashi (MNT), Junior Lee (ATL), Furio Kydd (IA)
Projected MVP: Chipper Harper - Columbus
--Other Contenders: Nick Weaver (ATL), Omar Rosado (NY2), Tim Collins (MNT), Doyle Grey (MNT), Benji Ordonez (RIC), Wascar Galvez (TRE)
Projected Fireman of the Year: Sarma Inge (CLB)
--Other Contenders: Kirk White (SXF), William Kim (SF)
Projected Rookie of the Year: Benito Diaz - Tampa Bay Beagles
--Other Contenders: Vin Boldin (BUR), Greg Salazar (CLB), Damaso Guapo (MNT), Tino Chang (TRE)

Top Five Rotations in the National League
1. Montgomery Burns
2. Sioux Falls Corn Cleats
3. Atlanta Pitbulls
4. Iowa City Corn Dogs
5. Tampa Bay Beagles

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

Top Five Lineups in the National League
1. Wichita Wankers
2. Atlanta Pitbulls
3. San Francisco Earthquakes
4. Montgomery Burns
5. Trenton Lions

Top Three Offseason Free Agent Signings
1. Tommy Wakeland - Tampa Bay Beagles
2. Trent Billingsley - San Francisco Earthquakes
3. Ugueth Perez - Richmond Cohibas

Top Three Trade Acquisitions
1. Charles Reese - Wichita Wankers
2. Norm Gibson - Sioux Falls Corn Cleats
3. Benito Diaz - Tampa Bay Beagles

Three Teams on the Rise:
1. Montgomery Burns
2. Trenton Lions
3. San Francisco Earthquakes

Three Teams on the Decline
1. Jackson Pollocks
2. Tampa Bay Beagles
3. Columbus HoundDogs

Five prospects who could make a difference if called up this season
1. Alfonso Chavez - Burlington Huskies
2. Napolean Graves - Los Angeles Leopards
3. Howard Hall - Montgomery Burns
4. Oswaldo Prieto - Montgomery Burns
5. Vic Lopez - Trenton Lions

Projected finishes, by division:

NL North
Sioux Falls Corn Cleats -93-68
New York Pick Pockets - 90-72
Trenton Lions - 86-76
Burlington Champs - 67-95

NL East
Wichita Wankers - 94-68
Atlanta Pitbulls - 93-69
Columbus HoundDogs - 92-70
Tampa Bay Beagles - 89-73

NL South
Montomgery Burns - 96-66
Richmond Cohibas - 90-72
Charlotte Thunder - 65-97
Jackson Pollocks - 63-99

NL West
Iowa City Corn Dogs - 94-68
San Francisco Earthquakes - 89-74
Omaha Sluggers - 80-82
Los Angeles Leopards - 75-87

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