Wednesday, June 25, 2008

(New York, NY) Without further adieu' we wrap up our franchise previews.
NL South

Memphis Blues / 88-74 / NL South Champs
Season 8 in Review: Came out on top in one of the few compelling pennant races last season by beating out New Orleans with a six game winning streak down the stretch. Arguably the most well coached team in Camp, no club gets more out of their talent than Memphis. On paper the roster looks like a middle to below average club, but the stats don’t lie; finishing in the top 5 of all major pitching categories and holding their own offensively with clutch power hitting, clubbing 230HRs with a top 5 finish in SLG%.

MVP: RHP Cookie Juarez (13 wins – 8 losses, 3.26ERA, 1.27WHIP), continues to do more with less. No one in Camp gets more from his talent than Juarez.

Underachiever: SS Tuck McClain (.246BA, 4HR, 42RBI, 27SB) Rookie was a liability in the field, rather anemic at getting on base, scoring runs and stealing bases. Maybe Blues are asking too much of him.

Outlook: Who can doubt this team’s heart and desire after seven straight seasons of above .500 baseball? The Post will, we think they’re due for a reality check. The rising talents of their Division-mates are the biggest reason we question the Blues’ ability to stay on top in Season 9.
78-84, No Playoffs.

New Orleans Levee Builders / 87-75 / Wild Card Winner- Lost in 1st Round
Season 8 in Review: For the seventh time in eight seasons, NOLB slugged their way into the playoffs, once again dragging their sub-par pitching staff kicking and screaming all the way. However, season 8 saw slight improvement across the board in the staff’s statistics, allowing 62 less runs and raising overall pitching from 12th to 7th in the NL. The bullpen was especially solid, leading the league in saves with 55 and helping the team to above .500 records in extra inning and one run games; one of only 4 teams in the NL to do so.

MVP: LHP Lon Valdes (4-6, 3.35, 46SV, 6BSV) NL Fireman of the Year.

Underachiever: SS Ken Wynn (.270, 28, 92) Solid defensive SS, but that isn’t why he’s the highest paid SS in the league. Offensive production needs to improve dramatically.

Outlook: Age is becoming a concern with this roster, however their key players are at their prime and this is the season to see a breakthrough.
88-74, NL South Champs

Mexico City Day Laborers / 76-86 / No Playoffs
Season 8 in Review: No team used platooning as effectively as Mexico City last season. One of the youngest clubs in Camp, e_mandat used this season as an extended Spring Training, shaking out his large roster to see who would step up. In the meantime, the results were astonishing, taking a perennial doormat and making them very competitive. MCDL improved by 28 wins between seasons 7 and 8. Not much more needs to be said.

MVP: e_mandat, for having the patience to allow his young team to rise to the occasion.

Underachiever: RHP Davey Romero (9-16, 4.48, 1.25) A bit more is needed from your highest paid player and team leader, even if he is only 25 years old.

Outlook: Look for the Day Laborers to continue coming on strong, and depending on their youngsters’ progress, don’t be surprised if they steal this division.
84-78, Wildcard Winners

Charleston Chews / 61-101 / No playoffs
Season 8 in Review: The team Formerly Known as the Houston Puma Monkeys (???) hit the ball all over the park and finished a very respectable 6th in total offense in the NL. Unfortunately, if not for that beer league softball team masquerading as the Tucson Sands, this pitching staff would have finished last in every single pitching category that is tracked…even balks! Actually quite an amazing feat.

MVP: RHP Alfredo Lopez (10-15, 4.31, 1.38) Best of a bad lot.

Underachiever: Previous front office ran a 96 win team into the ground in 3 seasons. Blech.

Outlook: No relief for the newly minted Charleston Chews fans in the near future, however kudos for moving the franchise from a city like Houston to the very under-rated town of Charleston, SC. Mmmm, Planters Inn Punch….ahhhhh.
Well, we were going to go off on a rant against Houston, Texas here, but we’ve deleted it because we’ve been good about not digressing and don’t want to start now. Houston, good Lord…
57-105, No Playoffs.
NL West

Arizona Thunder Chickens / 104-58 / World Champions
Season 8 in Review: Third Championship in a row and 4th in five years. Ho, hum. The Empire led the league in most offensive categories, was top 2 or 3 in all major pitching stats. Yawn. Oh, by the way, only team in Camp to score 1,000+ runs in each and every season, only franchise to win their division each and every season, only franchise with a 20 game winner in each and every get the idea, we’ll spare you the laundry list of similarly superlative statistics this team has compiled. This just in, The Thunder Chickens were good last year and have been for a long time.

MVP: 2B John Bruske (.335, 41, 151) the straw that stirs the drink.

Underachiever: LHP Jumbo Santiago (3-3, 5.98, 1.42, 7SV, 5BSV) Bribed with a $7 mil salary and brought in to close games, he never could put it together. His 390 appearances and 37 years of age have caught up to him.

Outlook: Maybe we are hoping against hope, but this certainly looks like the year the rest of the NL catches up to the Evil Chicken Empire. The NL West however still has long roads to hoe. Look for an unprecedented 9th division title in a row in Arizona.
98-64, NL West Champs

Honolulu Heart Attacks / 83-79 / No Playoffs
Season 8 in Review: This franchise seemed to be progressing towards challenging Arizona for NL West supremacy, culminating with an unlikely Wild Card berth in season 6. With their minor league talent pool it stood to reason there was nowhere to go but up. Well, that’s why they play the games because Season 8 saw HHA take yet another surprising step backwards. Pitching and batting regressed at least 10% across all major statistics since that season 6, while to a man, every key player had sub-par seasons compared to their history and ability…very demoralizing for Heart Attack fans. Actually with the performance they had last season, their nickname makes a whole lot more sense.

MVP: 3B Emmanuel McCartin (.277, 21, 81, .845OPS), NL Silver Slugger winner at third base.

Underachiever: 3B Emmanuel McCartin (.277, 21, 81), Still with his talent and salary, McCartin needs to give the team much more.

Outlook: The talent is there on both sides to pick up where they left off 2 seasons ago, but the Post feels other NL powers will keep them down yet again.
85-77, No Playoffs, but very close.

Seattle Grunge / 68-94 / No Playoffs
Season 8 in Review: A very good pitching staff was sabotaged by a lineup that could not score runs, finishing the season in the bottom four in every major offensive category. If a 17-26 record in one run games wasn’t painful enough, the Grunge were outscored in their 94 losses by an average of less than 2.5 runs per game. No team suffered more tough losses.

MVP: RHP Emmanuel Guerrero (0-3, 4.36, 1.15, 30SV, 5BSV), as close as you could get to a guaranteed save in Camp.

Underachiever: LF Brian Masato (.253, 34, 99) Brought in midway through the season at a steep price to add needed punch to the lineup. His stats with Seattle tell the story, (.214, 7, 24… in 231PA). Yikes.

Outlook: If the offense doesn’t pick up, a staff full of Don Bale clones would be hard pressed to carry this club to a winning record. AS of press time, cloning remains illegal.
65-97, No Playoffs.

Tucson Sands / 32-130 / No playoffs
Season 8 in Review: Not a very good season, I’m afraid. Tucson pitching in particular was less than effective, setting records for futility in just about every statistical category. Go take a look, it’s something to see actually. We’ll wait…

MVP: Popcorn vendor Stan Stugots. Stan sold a record 16,005 total units at Tucson Electric Park during the season.

Underachiever: The Tucson Sands

Outlook: We are reminded of the great USC coach John McKay, while coaching the Tampa Bay Bucs to a record 14th straight loss, he was asked what he thought of his team’s execution. He replied, “I am all for it.” Another great McKay quote that is appropriate here, "After a 51-0 loss to Notre Dame I told the team, 'Forget it. There are 700 million people in China who didn't know anything about it.' The next day, a guy called me from China and asked 'What happened, Coach?'".
40-122, No Playoffs but plenty of good draft picks.

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