Thursday, December 23, 2010

NL North Season 14 Previews

Well, now that the AL is finished, I need to get started on the NL. At the rate I've been going, I should have these finished by the All Star break. Not really, but it does seem like this is taking me quite a bit of time to do. Maybe it's due to the wife making me choose Christmas shopping for my army of children, and it could also be due to being abnormally busy at work for this time of the year. I'm sure it's both. These people need to realize that I have a life outside of reality also. That's it, I'm going into my boss right now and telling him to screw off, I have team previews to write.

Due to a collapse by Helena over the last couple seasons, this division has pretty much been a no contest for Fargo. Fargo, still has not had a losing season nor has there been a season when they didn't win this division. Really, it's getting pretty boring in the NL North guys. Can Fargo get some competition please? Fargo has been a force in the NL since day 1. I thought last season was going to be there season, but a loss to Charleston in the NLCS cut that short. Cleveland moved forward in wins and finished second for the first time in team history, but finished with a ninth straight losing season. Trenton continued their losing ways with their sixth straight losing season and finished third. Helena finished with the worst record in franchise history and for only the second time in team history did not finish in second place.

Fargo Wood Chippers
Season 13 record- (95-67, 1st division, NLCS runner up)
Season 13 team hitting(NL)  Batting Average-2nd (.275); OBP-5th (.339);  Home Runs-6th (232);  Runs-5th (832);  Steals-9th (93)   Pitching(AL)  ERA-3rd (3.92);   Opp Avg-4th (.250);  Strike Outs-2nd (1180);  Saves-2nd (58)      Fielding(AL)  Fielding %-2nd (.987);  Plus Plays-6th (60);  Minus Plays-11th (62)

Key Acquisitions- 2B Pepper Sanders(tr-Chr), LF Kevin Kyung(tr-Chr), 1B Tony Cummings(FA)
Key Losses- OF Alton Olson(tr-Chr), 2B Sam Wiggington(tr-Mty), RP Miguel Gabriel(released), 2B/OF Al Nen(FA)

Out in the cow tipping capitol of the world, where the farm girls love doing things in the hay, we have the Fargo Wood Chippers. Well, I don't know about all that stuff, but those are some of the things that ownership tells me has led to the success of this franchise over the years. The team is still miffed that Al Nen didn't take a discount to play with one of the best franchises in the world, that has those things on the side to offer. While that was a big loss for this franchise, I think they can move on. They were one of the top teams in the league in pitching, offense and defense last season and the losses on this team aren't enough to hurt them to bad. Olson, Wiggington and Nen are gone. Sanders, Kyung and Cummings will pick up right where those guys left off. The fielding on this team is still outstanding. The added some speed with their moves and that was one area they were lacking last season. The pitching staff is still solid as a rock. The thing with this team is that they keep finding ways to get younger and stay at the top. Word on the street was that management wasn't confident about a 14th straight division title, but I'm going to say that they are trying to psyche out the rest of the league and really are planning on making a run at the World Series.

Cleveland indians
Season 13 record- (73-89)
Season 13 team hitting(NL)  Batting Average-8th (.266); OBP-11th (.329);  Home Runs-14th (156);  Runs-12th (747);  Steals-5th (126)   Pitching(AL)  ERA-15th (5.15);   Opp Avg-15th (.287);  Strike Outs-13th (1055);  Saves-9th (44)      Fielding(AL)  Fielding %-14th (.979);  Plus Plays-16th (20);  Minus Plays-13th (67)

Key Acquisitions-
Key Losses- LF Dummy Wright(FA), 1B Alexander Delaney(FA), 3B Bruce McMillon(FA), CF Ariel Villano(FA)

This team finished in the middle of the league in hitting but toward the bottom in both fielding and pitching. They were able to still pull off a decent season based on what they had. This franchise has had 9 straight losing seasons, but last season was the second straight year that they improved the win total. Somehow with all the losing this franchise has done, they still don't have very much young talent in the majors. Actually this team is quite old.  They have 13 player age 30 and above. None of those players really are stars either. In the off season, they really didn't add anybody to the mix, but they still have some work to do in order to get this franchise heading forward. Aside from a few prospects with good potential in the system, their really isn't much else coming through the farm system. I'm going to predict that a second place finish isn't likely to happen again this season.

Trenton Thunders
Season 13 record- (63-99)
Season 13 team hitting(NL)  Batting Average-16th (.242); OBP-16th (.305);  Home Runs-16th (151);  Runs-16th (626);  Steals-4th (130)   Pitching(AL)  ERA-11th (4.83);   Opp Avg-9th (.267);  Strike Outs-16th (1023);  Saves-9th (44)      Fielding(AL)  Fielding %-5th (.984);  Plus Plays-5th (63);  Minus Plays-6th (36)

Key Acquisitions- RP Ivan Carrasco(promoted)
Key Losses- RP Felix Beltran(FA)

It's been seven seasons since this team has had a winning record. This team actually took a step backwards last season. They lost more games than the previous season and were at the bottom of the league in hitting and toward the bottom in pitching. The positive was that this team was a pretty good fielding team and also showed some speed on the base paths. This team is pretty young and some of those young players are pretty good. The pitching staff doesn't look too bad, and the fielding is about the same as last season. They have a couple good hitters, but this is not a good hitting team. They do have some good prospects in the minors but none of them will be ready to help this season. I think they have a team that should improve upon their win total from last season.

Helena Ass Hats
Season 13 record- (58-104)
Season 13 team hitting(NL)  Batting Average-11th (.262); OBP-13th (.324);  Home Runs-10th (201);  Runs-14th (703);  Steals-3rd (140)   Pitching(AL)  ERA-12th (4.87);   Opp Avg-10th (.269);  Strike Outs-15th (1028);  Saves-14th (37)      Fielding(AL)  Fielding %-10th (.981);  Plus Plays-8th (59);  Minus Plays-15th (73)

Key Acquisitions- LF Ben Morton(FA), 2B/OF Al Nen(FA), SP Phil Chong(promoted), SS Erubiel Baez(promoted), SP Ronald Lynch(rule V)
Key Losses- RP Albert DeRojas(FA), RP Richie Woolf(FA), 2B Francis Norton(FA), 1B Willis Walter(FA), RP Ezdra Johnson(FA)

This team had a horrible season last season. They finished in the bottom half of the league in most categories. For the talent on this team it made almost no sense. Well, they made huge upgrades in the off season. They added Nen and Morton, two players that are huge upgrades for this team. They also lost some good players, but I think the players they added are going to be improvements. The real task will be over taking Fargo for the top spot. They have speed, fielding, hitting and pitching. The problem I see is that what they have doesn't match up to Fargo. It's going to take a little luck for this team to win the division, but I think they have a real good shot at the post season.

 This division seems like it will always be won by the Fargo Wood Chippers. Helena made some off season moves that get them in good position to give Fargo a run. I really like Helena this season, but it will have to be proven before I can move Fargo out of the top spot. Cleveland doesn't look like a team that will be competitive and Trenton looks decent but this is a tough division. I like Fargo to win the division again and Helena to take a wild card spot.


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