Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Season 11 NL Preview

Ah the possibilities of a new season are upon us. International Free Agents, Draft Picks, Award Winners and of course World Series Champions. Each team with it's own expectations and plans for the upcoming year, a year that is undoubtedly make or break for some.

Note: I have ordered each division according to how I think each team will finish. Mr. Mandate helped with the research in this article.

NL NORTH

1. Toronto Greased-Up Deaf Guys

  • Outlook: The Season 9 Camp World Champs look to get back on track this year after an embarrassing 3-0 series sweep South of the border last season. Don Bale and company will try and repeat it's ML leading 3.20 team era from a year ago.
  • Key additions:Jo-jo Stewart is a notable addition to the ML staff and could help out considerably.
  • Key losses: PT Jordan's defense will be missed on a team that tied for 4th in fielding percentage.
  • Stat Monster: Plenty to choose from on this team but Don Bale going 27-5 last year takes the cake.

2. Chicago Cubs
  • Outlook: After winning 92 games last year and having their offensive leader, Wilson Sanders, win an MVP, the North Siders are an interesting team this year. Their lineup is powerful and if their pitching can stay healthy they are a good bet to grab another Wild Card spot this year.
  • Key additions: None
  • Key losses: Pasqual Parra and his 115 innings of relief could prove to be a problem at the friendly confines.
  • Stat Monster: Sanders' 80 HR, 181 RBI and .307 average were outlandish.
3. Milwaukee (Mil-A-Wa-K) Bondsman
  • Outlook: After winning 108 games and making the NLCS in season 1 this team has really crashed and burned. The win total has steadily decreased each of the last five seasons and I don't see that changing much this year. That being said, TheRock has hung in there as an owner and isn't happy about losing. He has continued to try and build his team through the draft and has the likes of Phil Allen and George Damon to show for it.
  • Key additions: Russell Bell. The former San Francisco pitcher should be a top of the rotation starter for Milwaukee.
  • Key losses: Stan Pressley and his .405 ob% is going to sting. Not sure how or why he got away.
  • Stat Monster: Allen and his career-high 43 HR, 112 RBI, and .312 average.
4. Wichita Linemen
  • Outlook: Here's to hoping strang is a man who likes a challenge. The Linemen finished season 10 with the 5th worst team era, 6.13, and have very little ML talent to speak of.
  • Key additions: None.
  • Key losses: Elvis Nicholson and Haywood Gonzalez. While both were solid contributers, it's clearly rebuilding time in Wichita.
  • Stat Monster: Raymond Pellow, the franchise's brightest young bat, stole 50 bases in season 10 and hit .323.
NL BEAST

1. Tampa Bay Boozers
  • Outlook: The team that just can't win a title will try again to do just that in Season 11. Sporting what is historically one of the best pitching staffs in all of Camp (Five Cy Youngs between their top three in the rotation), Tampa hopes that it's offseason acquisitions on offense will put them over the top.
  • Key additions: Ramiro Barcelo and Dusty Mann.
  • Key losses: $50 million in cap room and Ajax Blair.
  • Stat Monster: Karl Piersoll went 25-4, posted a world-record 2.18 era and won his second career Cy Young Award.
2. Scranton Coal Miners
  • Outlook: Scranton's lineup is one of the most formidable in the league. Anchored by Charlie Riley and Sven Reid, the sky is the limit for this group of youngsters.
  • Key additions: None.
  • Key losses: The will to carry on after seeing Tampa's moves.
  • Stat Monster: The ageless Francis Cannon and his 26 HR, 121 RBI and .378 average. That's right, I said .378.
3. Atlanta Regulators
  • Outlook: UCFKnights has this team on the right track. They are stockpiling young talent and staying competitive at the ML level. Atlanta has some serious firepower on offense but lacks the starting pitching to make a difference this year.
  • Key additions: Brady Ward is a fine addition in CF. He could be a difference maker. Vincent Colome, a Rule 5 pick, is also an interesting addition.
  • Key losses: None.
  • Stat Monster: Scooter Pierce playing way above his head, going 12-4 with a 3.75 era.
4. Augusta Pounders
  • Outlook: It's no secret that the Pounders are taking a hiatus at the ML level. They will have the #2 overall pick and look to add a big bat to balance out their already pitching-heavy minors.
  • Key addition: Whomever they grab with the #2 pick and Rule 5 draftee Bernard Beimel.
  • Key losses: None
  • Stat Monster: Vincente Martin was an absolute defensive whiz last season, winning a Gold Glove in CF with four errors, 13 plus plays and just one minus play. Oh yeah, he also lead the majors with 91 stolen bases.
NL CENTRAL

1. Mexico City Day Laborers
  • Outlook: The pain of a World Series collapse still looms large in the city known for its "Fecal Snow". After big moves by Tampa Bay in the offseason, the dater of men pulled the trigger on a deal that brought two time Cy Young Award winner Skeeter Duncan over to Mexico City. Pair that with the likes of Ken Holbert and Rob Reese and you have a team destined to make noise in Season 11.
  • Key additions: Skeeter, Skeeter, inning eater.
  • Key losses: None.
  • Stat Monster: Reese's 38 HR, 114 RBI, 48 SB and .342 average make him the best five-tool player in the bigs.
2. Charlotte Diggities
  • Outlook: After missing a Wild Card birth by six games last year, the Diggities hope to take the steps neccessary to earn a playoff bid this year.
  • Key losses: Tony Santos and his 2.86 era will be a huge loss.
  • Key additions: Oswaldo Torres and Harry Lee will try and fill Santos' shoes. Chipper Matheny will help out in the pen.
  • Stat Monster: 27 HR, 98 RBI, 40 SB, a Gold Glove in RF and an All-Star appearance. Not a bad rookie campaign for the young stud, Vic Moya.
3. New Orleans Levee Builders
  • Outlook: Dwhit and his Levee Builders return all five starters in their rotation and appear poised to make a solid run for a playoff spot.
  • Key losses: Nigel Nomura at second base.
  • Key additions: Rock Russell, a solid young 3b (and personal favorite of mine) will allow Jerome Martin to move to 2b. Nigel Messmer was a huge sign in the bullpen and should give New Orleans some much needed flexibility.
  • Stat Monster: Martin and Terry Coleman combined for 91 HR last season.
4. Memphis Blues
  • Outlook: Memphis' days of competing for a division title are over. Drastic changes must be made for this team to challenge Mexico City any time soon. The #12 overall pick and several Rule 5 picks will help get this franchise back to where it once was.
  • Key losses: Jack Henley mave have been addition by subtraction.
  • Key additions: Ike Spencer was a very solid Rule 5 pick.
  • Stat Monster: Vlad Campos hit 43 HR and drove in 109 runs.
NL WEST

1. Arizona Thunder Chickens
  • Outlook: The most dominant team in Camp history looks to win the NL West for the 11th straight time. The new Chickens are a different looking team than the ones in the past but still have the firepower to get things done. Orlando Blanco quietly remains one of Camp's top tier SPs.
  • Key losses: Corey Speaker (Retired), Earl Gabriel, John Bruske and Lance Seaver will be sorely missed.
  • Key additions: Stan Pressley, Jim Leach, Wes Nichting and Raymond Farley.
  • Stat Monster: Bruske hit 37 HR, drove in 132 runs and posted a .311 average.

2. Tucson Sands
  • Outlook: Tucson could easily win this division if they would have signed some pitching in the offseason. Tucson now boasts THE BEST LINEUP IN CAMP. However, as good as their hitting and fielding looks to be, their pitching is equally that bad. They would need to sign Jeff Weaver and Hideki Irabu to improve and earn the status "horrendous".
  • Key losses: Jim Ventrella and Domingo Diaz make an awful staff worse.
  • Key additions: Walker Fossum is one of the best hitters I've seen in the game. I've already cast my ROY vote for him.
  • Stat Monster: Howard Darwin hit .328 and launched 35 bombs in Season 10.

3. Salem Grunge
  • Outlook: Salem made it clear to everyone, by signing Ajax this offseason, that they fully intend to compete in the NL West. The Grunge's problem is of course the pitching staff. Jvig is hell bent on getting this thing going but with no top of the rotation starters it's going to be real tough.
  • Key additions: Ajax Blair brings his 365 HR and 95 million dollar contract to town.
  • Key losses: Ross Kerr left town for Canada.
  • Stat Monster: Blair pounded out 50 HR and 125 RBI for Tampa Bay last season.

4. Omaha Overload
  • Outlook: Despite having some scattered talent at the ML level, Omaha is one of the worst overall franchises in Camp. Godspeed Readhead.
  • Key additions: PT Jordan and Posiedon Grey were both solid acquisitions.
  • Key losses: None.
  • Stat Monster: Banana Byrne went 14-6 with a 3.51 last season and won league's Most Fun Name To Say Award.

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