Saturday, June 21, 2008

(New York, NY) As Opening Day draws closer and Spring Training gears up, we'll start breaking down each division and give you a primer of the franchises and their outlook for Season Nine.

AL North

Syracuse Sicilians / 94 wins – 68 losses / Division Winner, lost in First Round
Season 8 in Review: This club won its division last year with the old smoke and mirrors; feasting on fellow division mates to the tune of 21 wins versus 9 losses while relying on some clutch power hitting and one of the AL’s most consistent bullpens. The Team Formerly Known as The Ditkas finished as one of only two AL teams above .500 to outpace its Exp Win %.

MVP: RHP Bob Daly, (1 wins-3 losses, 4.19 ERA, 35 Saves); Closer Daly is the reason this club had the best record in the AL in one run games at 22-16.

Underachiever: CF Stew Adams (.241 BA, 14HRs, 58RBIs); Much more is expected from a middle of the lineup hitter with the salary to match.

Outlook: Left the confines of Chicago for the even less pleasant weather of Syracuse, NY. A team that finished in the middle of the American League pack in every important Team Statistic except wins should expect to come back to earth a bit.
82-80, just short of a wildcard berth.

Hartford Minutemen / 89-73 / Wild Card Winner, lost in ALCS
Season 8 in Review: An extremely successful season anyway you slice it for the Guys with P.E. They were certainly winning when it counted down the stretch, especially at Welch Park where the Home Cooking led to a .605 Win %. No secret to their success as they led the league in most every offensive category, including: Team BA, HRs, SLG, and OPS.

MVP: C Terrance Malone (.323, 36, 92); The catalyst that kept the Hartford Scoring Machine humming.

Underachiever: 2B J.D. Cromer (.279, 21, 68); Pedestrian numbers from a career .310BA/.380 OBP player.

Outlook: Last season’s playoff run is just prelude. Expect more of the same from this clutch, hard hitting club.
90-72, AL North Champs

Montreal Alouettes / 74-88 / No playoffs
Season 8 in Review: You could hear mikeg screaming from one corner of North America to the other, “Some pitching, some pitching! My Kingdom for some pitching!” A good offensive ballclub was sold out by an overly generous pitching staff. Generous to the tune of 247 HRs allowed! They were minus 55 in HR/HRA, a glaring weakness that proved fatal after the All-Star break as arms became more fatigued.

MVP: LHP Warren Kearns (5-5, 3.64, 25 Saves); A lone bright spot in an otherwise forgetful campaign for the Montreal staff; candidate for Comeback Player of the Year.

Underachiever: RHP Pascual Mendoza (10-11, 5.40, 1.51 WHIP). Paid like a #1, pitched like #2.

Outlook: Budget analysis shows mikeg focusing on the future, unfortunately the future is not Season 9 for this club.
70-92, No Playoffs

D’troit Tagers / 53-109 / No playoffs
Season 8 in Review: This team struggled from Day One, but GM nalleyjohn certainly did not sit idly by, functioning as a one team clearing house for a good 65% of the trade market last season. No trade inquiry was turned away, no plausible deal turned down. Meanwhile the turnover did nothing to improve the club in the short term. D’troit finished last in the AL in every major offensive category and tied for the most losses.

MVP: RHP Galahad Lee (4-10, 4.05, 35 Saves); in fact the bullpen was better than average most of the year, however no one was in town long enough to make much of an impact.

Underachiever: 2B Joaquin Cortez (.272, 15, 68). Needs to show more patience and discipline at the plate. Suffering from a call-up too early in his career.

Outlook: Nalleyjohn has a great deal of room under the cap and plenty of good draft choices so the future is bright. Tagers can make strides this season if the starting pitching can keep the ball in the park and the middle of the order can start putting the ball out of the park.
65-97, No Playoffs
AL East

New York City Athletics / 82 wins – 80 losses / No Playoffs
Look for NY Post’s In Depth preview of the hometown club later this week!

Toledo Flame Throwers / 91-71 / AL Champs, lost the World Series in 6 games
Season 8 in Review: The Flame Throwers finally played to their expectations and proceeded to steal and slug their way into the World Series. Throwing off the shackles of their hated oppressors to the north, The Athletics, the FT’s had consistency in every facet of the game last year, placing at or near the top in all major offensive and pitching categories… even setting a Camp record for total stolen bases along the way. Only the juggernaut Thunder Chickens denied mileininger of a truly transcendent season.

MVP: With all due respect to 21 game winner Gerald Wilkins, SS Rico Diaz (.315BA, 33HRs, 123 RBIS, 75 SBs) was arguably the League MVP last season.

Underachiever: LHP Nick Castillo (9 wins – 14 losses, 5.40 ERA, 34 HRA) Startling numbers on a club such as this from the Minor League phenom who was perhaps rushed into service a bit early.

Outlook: Their time is now.
98-64, AL Champions

Rochester Royals / 78-84 / No Playoffs
Season 8 in Review: A surprising and disappointing step backwards from the Royals in Season 8, as their potent lineup could not keep pace with the slugging performance the staff was allowing. They were simply out hit all season long as a re-tooled starting rotation never delivered on its potential. What was building over the past few seasons and had the promise of a strong crescendo took a turn for the worse when the starting staff hit a slump they could not recover from, allowing almost an earned run more per start after the All-Star break.

MVP: LHP Eric Cobb (0-2, 2.01, 26 Saves in 27 Opportunities) Arguably the best closer in the AL last year, when given the opportunity.

Underachiever: RHP Andrew Crede (12-12, 5.56 ERA, 1.48 WHIP) Not numbers to brag about as a #1 starter, but indicative of the entire rotation.

Outlook: Perhaps more of an enigma than any other AL club, showed flashes last season and certainly has potential in that lineup; however they will go only as far as yet another retooled staff takes them.
75-87, No Playoffs

Trenton RoadRunners / 67-95 / No playoffs
Season 8 in Review: The rebuilding continues on the East bank of the Delaware River, as yet another step in the right direction has been taken by Trenton. The label ‘Perennial Doormat of the AL’ can no longer be hung on this team as it improved in every major statistical category by at least 15 percent. This was no better illustrated by their remarkable bullpen saving a team record 49 games to finish 2nd in the AL in that department. This well travelled club can be proud of its best performance since a 70 win 3rd Season.

MVP: RHP Lefty Browne (4-4, 2.38, 44 Saves) Young fireballer was a revelation this season.

Underachiever: SS Ross Marshall (.285, 28, 82, 34 Errors) More is required from a team leader like Marshall, especially with the glove.

Outlook: Who is going to argue with the progress from Season 7 to 8? If rocket can continue to make strides with the rotation, sure up the fielding and improve hitting with RISP, no worries!
72-90, No Playoffs…yet.

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