Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lars the Greeks Season 18 Preview - American League

Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald

Season 17 was a reversion to form for the American League, as the Cleveland Steamers again asserted their dominance in the regular season and the playoffs, winning the 4th World Series title in franchise history.  Season 17 also saw the final run in Cobb World for two great owners in shobob and dirtyhill03, who both departed at seasons end.  Replacing them for season 8 though are two owners who certainly know their chops, Hall of Famer jonboynky, and two time Cobb World Champion furniss13, who returns to the league after a several season absence.  So how does the AL stack up this year?  All Lars can say for certain is that there is some monster talent in the junior circuit, and Cleveland will have their work cut out for them to repeat.

American League

Lars the Greeks Divisional Breakdowns

AL North: Toronto managed to repeat as division champions last season, but only just, beating out former perennial powerhouse Pawtucket by a single game.  Seattle and Chicago continued to rebuild, and are probably going to be continuing that process again, so it should come down to a battle between the Blue Jays and G-Maniacs once more for the AL North crown.  Both teams looked to be pretty evenly matched, so it should be close down to the end, and Lars thinks it's a pick em' between the two but is probably going to go with Toronto again if only because they have the slightly better starting rotation.  

AL East: It was Cleveland and Dover again battling for the division and a first round bye, and Cleveland took it to the Dingoes for the second straight season and won by three games in a close division race.  Syracuse and New York continued to rebuild, and the fans in New York especially are clamoring for improvement from what was a disastrous year.  But the youth is on the way and there should be some improvement in NY State for both the Expos and Sympathizers, but neither will compete this year with Dover and Cleveland, with the edge going to the defending champs to once again take the division. 

AL South:  The South is the third two team race in the AL, with Florida and Nashville having duked it out for the last few seasons in several very close races.  It is looking to be a barn burner yet again between the Rebel Riders and Almendares while the KC Express and relocated Houston Huskies continue to slowly improve at the ML level while their minor leaguers develop.  It's really a tough call to choose between Nashville and Florida, but since Nashville won last season Lars is choosing the Almendares this time around to reclaim the division.  Both are probably good bets for the playoffs though.

AL West:  Tacoma got back on top last season thanks to the help of all time great SP Dean Hernandez.  But the Dean took his talents elsewhere with yet another max contract, leaving a gaping hole in the Tacoma rotation and blowing open the AL West race.  It's going to be especially interesting as the two new owners in the division both are ringers, and the division has a combined 10 HBD World Series championships in it's ownership.  The underachieving Vancouver franchise is now being managed by furniss13, and has relocated to Arizona, Anaheim remains a tough out, and the St. Louis franchise has moved to Cheyenne and is probably the only one in the division without a legitimate shot at taking home the hardware.  Lars thinks that the Arizona franchise is overdue for success, and is picking them to win a close three team race, just ahead of Anaheim and Tacoma.

Projected Cy Young:Gary Ferguson - Nashville Rebel Riders
--Other Contenders: Kazuhiro Ong (NAS), Benito Beltre (TOR), Darren Howry (PAW), Eric Collins (FLA), Trevor Seelbach (CLE)
Projected MVP: Pedro Franco (NAS)
--Other Contenders: Hugh Clark (TAC), Lyle Crudale (CLE), Ralph Woods (KC), Richard Nakajima (ARI), Vinny Jang (CLE)
Projected Fireman of the Year: Raymond Hawkins (FLA)
--Other Contenders: Jared Jacobsen (ANA), Jared Jacobsen (LAA), Edgardo Romero (DOV, Malcolm Tucker (CLE)
Projected Rookie of the Year: Torey McFarland - Anaheim Sharks
--Other Contenders: Morris Coomer (ANA), Lonny Ramirez (ARI), Braden Nitkowski (ARI), D'Angelo James (SEA), Felipe Cruz (PAW), Ugueth Pelaez (TOR)

Top Five Rotations in the American League

1. Toronto Blue Jays
2. Florida Almendares
3. Cleveland Steamers
4. Nashville Rebel Riders
5. Pawtucket G- Maniacs

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

Top Five Lineups in the American League
1. Nashville Rebel Riders
2. Tacoma Jerry Gang
3. Cleveland Steamers
4. Arizona ThunderCats
5. Pawtucket G-Maniacs

Top Three Offseason Free Agent Signings
1. Justin Snopek - Cleveland Steamers
2. Yamid Mairena - Dover Dingos
3. Lou Brow - Seattle Pilots

Three Teams on the Rise:
1. Arizona ThunderCats
2. Cheyenne Cowboys
3. Seattle Pilots

Two Teams on the Decline
1. Tacoma Jerry Gang (logic being it's hard not to be in decline after losing the Dean)
2. Pawtucket G-Maniacs

Six prospects who could make a difference if called up this season
1. Pablo Roas - Cheyenne Cowboys
2. Tony Cervelli - New York Expos
3. Erubiel Cordero - Dover Dingos
4.Gorkys Carrera - Kansas City Express
5. Darwin Sanders - New York Expos
6. Matt Malloy - New York Expos

Projected finishes, by division:

AL North
Toronto Blue Jays - 86-76
Pawtucket G-Maniacs - 85-77
Seattle Pilots - 75-87
Chicago Sabercats - 69-93

AL East
Cleveland Steamers - 101-61
Dover Dingos - 97-65
Syracuse Sympathizers - 72-90
New York Expos - 63-99

AL South
Florida Almendares - 98-64
Nashville Rebel Riders - 97-75
Kansas City Express - 75-87
Santa Fe Greyhounds - 60-102

AL West
Arizona ThunderCats - 97-69
Tacoma Jerry Gang - 95-67
Anaheim Sharks 92-70
Cheyenne Cowboys - 68-94

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