Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Season 15 preview-NL North

NL North
Well another season and the same old crap in the NL north. When is Fargo ever going to let go of first place. It's really getting boring. WTF, YOU MEAN THEY DIDN'T WIN THE DIVISION LAST SEASON!!!! Well unbelievable. I thought I was going to get by with using the same preview again and just changing a few words here and there to make it feel new. That damn team in Helena had to go and ruin that for me. So anyway, Helena, finally goes and unseats Fargo. After 13 seasons of dominance in the North, Fargo's reign of terror(um, dominance) finally came crashing down. Now Helena has to prove themselves by doing it again. Helena, no doubt, has a very talented squad and while last season was a huge success, they still fell short of the ultimate goal. Heck, they really didn't even finish better than Fargo. Fargo blew off the division loss and went to the NLCS last season. With these two teams at the top of the division it makes life hard for the teams in Cleveland and Trenton. This may not be the best division in the league, but it may be the toughest to get to the top of. When you have a team like Fargo at the top for all those years and Helena always a contender, but always falling short until last season, it just shows how tough it is for the other two teams.

Helena Ass Hats
Season 14 record- 92-70(NL North Champ)
5 year record- 399-411

Offense- Average-6th(.273), OBP-10th(.334), Slg-6th(.447), Runs-7th(823), HR-6th(237), SB-5th(155)
Defense- Fielding %-2nd(.988), Plus Plays-6th(53), Minus Plays-7th(45)
Pitching- ERA-2nd(4.11), OAV-2nd(.255), SO-3rd(1122), Saves-13th(42/65)
Key Additions-none
Key Losses-RP Phil Harding(released)

After 12 seasons of finishing 2nd in the division and coming off a season that they finished 58-104, this franchise took a huge step last season in knocking off Fargo to win the division. Owner moosedrool, now has had this team for 11 seasons and while it hasn't won the division until last season, they have still been very successful. They have a world championship and have been to the NLCS 3 times. Unfortunately, last seasons success ends with the division crown. They failed to make the NLCS as division foe Fargo made it there. In the post season, a team needs a little luck and Helena just didn't have that on their side. The goal this season should be to win the division and advance in the post season. They stayed quiet in the off season as management feels confident in what they have in place. The offense on this team could use a little help as they finished near the middle of the league last season. They have some power and hitting, but it's not consistent throughout the lineup and bench. The team does have some good team speed though. Defensively this team is very solid and one of the best in the NL, as they are very strong up the middle. The pitching is where this team stood out last season. The have a good rotation with a few good relievers in the mix as well. Last season, they blew too many saves and the team really needs to get better about that this season. I could see this team winning the division again, and if not a wild card spot. Whether they are ready to make the leap in the post season remains to be seen and they'll have to prove it to me before I say they are ready to do that.

Fargo Wood Chippers
Season 14 record- 87-75(Wild Card, NLCS runner up)
5 year record- 478-332

Offense- Average-3rd(.276), OBP-3rd(.341), Slg-5th(.448), Runs-9th(794), HR-4th(241), SB-16th(49)
Defense- Fielding %-6th(.984), Plus Plays-5th(55), Minus Plays-11th(58)
Pitching- ERA-3rd(4.20), OAV-3rd(.259), SO-2nd(1169), Saves-4th(50/78)
Key Additions-none
Key Losses-RP Kenny Fischer(released), 1B Tony Cummings(FA), SP Ed Nathan(FA)

How can you call a season that the team made the NLCS a disappointing season? Well, you can't. I'm sure they would have liked to have won a 14th consecutive division title, but that's not a necessity. The fans in Fargo sure are used to winning division titles, but I'm sure they'll be just as happy with where the team finished the post season. Starbuckdc, is the most successful owner in league history. One of the original owners in Pine Tar, Starbuck has molded a very successful franchise. Last season actually matched the franchise low in victories. Not bad for an 87 win team. Last season the team finished near the top offensively. They had problems scoring runs though. The team didn't make any moves in the off season to help that as it appears they are counting that as a fluke season. They have good hitting and some power. The team has some speed, but the faster players on the roster don't have good base running abilities. Defensively the team finished in the top half of the league last season. That surprises me, because this team appears to be one of the best in the league. They have really good fielding and should finish higher this season. They finished near the top of the league in pitching and will probably do so again. Fargo has some really good pitchers on the roster. The rotation has a couple really dominant starters, but it falls off after the first few. That is the only real weakness I see with this team and that is being knit picky. I think Fargo will make a run at starting up a new streak of division titles this season. If they can't win the division, then they are a good pick at one of the wild card spots for sure.

Trenton Thunders
Season 14 record- 71-91
5 year record- 324-486

Offense- Average-16th(.248), OBP-16th(.308), Slg-14th(.390), Runs-15th(706), HR-13th(171), SB-4th(168)
Defense- Fielding %-15th(.979), Plus Plays-1st(91), Minus Plays-8th(47)
Pitching- ERA-13th(4.71), OAV-7th(.267), SO-12th(1046), Saves-9th(45/64)
Key Additions-RF Melky Gonzalez(promoted), C Julio Palmeiro(promoted)
Key Losses-none

Like I said, in a division like this, it's just tough for the teams at the bottom to work their way up. qtip32, took over this team in season 11 and has had a tough time getting the team into the upper half of the division. Last season was a bit successful as the team posted 71 victories, for a new high under this ownership group. This franchise has only had the enjoyment of 2 winning seasons in their history.  Better days could be coming up though for this team. They have some young talent on the ML squad and some good talent coming through the minors as well. Last season this team was just horrible offensively. Finishing last in several categories, the team really needed help. I think they have some good hitters on the team, but overall it's still not a good hitting team. Defensively the gloves were bad last season, but they made up for that with range. This season is likely going to be more of the same, but the errors may go down just a bit. The team pitching was also not very good last season too. They have one of the better young closers in the league in Ortiz, and setup man Moorehouse is a phenomenal reliever as well. What hurts this team is the starting rotation. It's just not a very good rotation. I predict another long season in Trenton, but the future looks bright for this team. It won't be long until they can field a good team to challenge Fargo and Helena.

Cleveland indians
Season 14 record- 60-102
5 year record- 326-484

Offense- Average-13th(.262), OBP-15th(.326), Slg-15th(.377), Runs-16th(656), HR-15th(138), SB-6th(139)
Defense- Fielding %-9th(.981), Plus Plays-16th(16), Minus Plays-14th(71)
Pitching- ERA-16th(5.75), OAV-16th(.292), SO-15th(1006), Saves-13th(42/63)
Key Additions-none
Key Losses-RP Teddy Tracy(FA), 2B Chris Oliver(FA)

This team has had a rough go of it in their history. Only one winning season and the highest finish was second and that happened once. lonely548 took over the franchise in season 12 and hasn't had much luck with this team yet. A second place finish in season 13 had fans hopes up heading into last season, only to be let down with a 60-102 record from the team. Their isn't much talent at the ML level aside from young SS Corky Whitehead, LF Joseph Bang, and under achieving SP Davey Quinones. They do have 2B Hank Roling down at high a that should be able to help soon, but besides him, this organization is pretty bare. Last season the offense was one of the worst in the league and I don't think they have the players to change that this season. The defense was below average and didn't improve in the off season. The pitching was at the bottom of the league as well. They don't have much on the staff in that regards and probably won't improve. Overall, this team is in bad shape and needs a complete overhaul. I can't see them competing at all this season, and probably will take a few seasons to get them on track.

Helena did a great job last season in taking the division title and still has a pretty good team. They have some holes offensively, but overall it's one of the better teams in the league. Fargo has a great team and I doubt they finish as bad, as if it were bad, as last season. They should be pretty good and could take back the division title. Trenton still has too many holes this season to really make a run at the post season. Cleveland is in shambles and could really use a massive rebuild to get this team competitive.

1. Fargo
2. Helena
3. Trenton
4. Cleveland

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