Friday, March 18, 2011

Season 15 previews-AL North

This division keeps putting out phenomenal win totals and some of the best teams in Pine Tar. Led by the powerhouse Syracuse Snow Pirates, it seems like this division has at least 3 teams in the post season yearly. 12 times now this division has put a team in the ALCS. 4 times the division has put a team in the World Series. Twice the division has been home to the World Champion and each of those happened with in the last 5 seasons. Those numbers have set the standards pretty high in the North. Minnesota, a team in rebuild mode, has found it tough to even get back into the thick of things with now 4 straight 4th place finishes. Rebuilding in this division isn't kind to a team.

Syracuse Snow Pirates
Season 14 record-115-47(1st division, AL Champ)
5 year record-540-270

Offense- Average-2nd(.290), OBP-4th(.347), Slg-1st(.502), Runs-2nd(964), HR-1st(308), SB-16th(31)
Defense- Fielding %-1st(.990), Plus plays-1st(87), Minus Plays-3rd(20)
Pitching- ERA-1st(3.64), OAV-1st(.242), SO-5th(1056), Saves-1st(55/67)
Key Additions-None
Key Losses-2B Karl Shumaker(released), RP Bill Walker(FA)

Syracuse was a team on a mission in season 14. Putting up 115 wins and making a second straight trip to the World Series they fell just short of that mission. The team owner, prezuiwf, has now been in control of this team for going on 11 seasons and has taken this team to the top of the league. Unfortunately, a second straight trip to the top of Pine Tar wasn't to be. Losing to Scottsdale in the World Series left the team wondering what went wrong. Poised to make another run this season, the team stuck with what they had in place and chose to not sign any free agents or make a big trade to bring in a big name player. Why would they? I feel like it was a good decision to stick with what works and brush the World Series loss of and go for it again this season. After all, they do have a pretty young team that should be able to stay near the top for seasons to come.

Milwaukee Cream Citys
Season 14 record-100-62(Wild Card)
5 year record-487-323

Offense- Average-10th(.271), OBP-10th(.331), Slg-4th(.466), Runs-3rd(914), HR-3rd(253), SB-11th(109)
Defense- Fielding %-5th(.986), Plus Plays-4th(70), Minus Plays-5th(30)
Pitching-ERA- 6th(4.51), OAV-5th(.266), SO-10th(1015), Saves-1st(55/77)
Key Additions-RP Jayson Crawford(FA), IF David Bako(resigned), SP John Ashley(FA)
Key Losses-3B Hector Cairo(FA), RP Roy Hiatt(FA), RP Luis Seguignol(FA), RP Matthew Goodwin(FA), SP Vernon Hamilton(FA)

Milwaukee is a good team and has been for many seasons, so it's hard to criticize them. jquick1 has been around since season 3 and while it took a little while to get the team on track, he has done an amazing job the past 7 seasons. If I had to find one thing I didn't like about this team though, it would be the lack of a really good shortstop. The team doesn't have a lot of power but it's hard to say that about a team that finished 3rd in homers and 4th in slugging. They don't have a dominant number 1 starter, but they get every bit out of what they have. They lost some pitchers in free agency, but replaced them with a couple good pitchers. Overall though, this is a solid team that should put up a good amount of wins again this season.

Ottawa Otters
Season 14 record-98-64(Wild Card, ALCS runner up)
5 year record-507-303

Offense- Average-5th(.282), OBP-5th(.344), Slg-8th(.447), Runs-5th(899), HR-8th(221), SB-2nd(173)
Defense- Fielding %-6th(.984), Plus Plays-7th(55), Minus Plays-4th(24)
Pitching- ERA-2nd(3.83), OAV-2nd(.247), SO-3rd(1080), Saves-4th(45/64)
Key Additions-RP Emil Campos(tr-Sea), RP Felipe Lee(tr-Vanc), 1B Matty Coco(tr-Vanc), SP Bret O'Leary(FA), RP Zack Prince(FA), C Clay Henderson(Resigned)
Key Losses-SP Benji Crespo(tr-Sea), 2B Alfredo Colome(FA), DH Clyde Burns(FA), RP Robin Schalk(FA), RP Carlton Harding(FA)

As ewd330 heads into his sixth season as owner of this proud franchise, they have their sights set high. In 5 previous seasons he has led this team to 2 World Series with one title, and 4 ALCS appearances. With the only 3 losing seasons in their history coming way back in the first 3 seasons this franchise has only experienced success since. I don't think this season will be any different. While they did lose some good players in the off season, they also added some players that will help this team battle for a division title. While Syracuse still remains the team to beat in the division, Ottawa is a well put together team that can challenge them. They have the hitting, speed, defense and pitching that should make teams worry when facing them.

Minnesota PeaceFrog
Season 14 record-61-101
5 year record-391-419

Offense- Average-12th(.267), OBP-12th(.326), Slg-13th(.411), Runs-15th(697), HR-14th(182), SB-12th(100)
Defense- Fielding %-10th(.981), Plus Plays-8th(40), Minus Plays-13th(63)
Pitching- ERA-11th(5.01), OAV-11th(.285), SO-12th(1003), Saves-14th(31/55)
Key Additions-RP Jorel Austin(FA), 1B Frank Martin(FA), RP Jair Bonilla(Rule V)
Key Losses- LF Jerry Truman(released), Junior Brogna(released), SP Rob Murray(FA), C Jacque Chang(FA)

This is a team that has seen it's share of troubles over the past couple seasons. After dominating the division for the first 9 seasons of Pine Tar, the team has seen it's wins decrease in each of the last 5 seasons. Clearly in rebuilding mode, roundfrog who has been in control of the team since season 2, is hoping to see the losing ways end sooner rather than later. The team feels as though their pitching and defense will be improved over last season, but aren't too excited about the offense. Overall they are expecting a bit better season as they are expected to bring some of the younger players up and maybe next season a couple more of the bigger potential young guys they've picked up during the rebuild.

I think Syracuse is the team to beat again this season in this division and possibly the AL. They are returning nearly the same team that ran through the competition last season. I expect Milwaukee to be a good team, but maybe not quite as good as last season as far as wins. Ottawa can make a push for the division title, but for now I'm predicting they won't. Minnesota continues the rebuild and finishes in the basement again. This is still a very tough division and probably the best in Pine Tar.

1. Syracuse
2. Ottawa
3. Milwaukee
4. Minnesota

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