Sunday, January 11, 2015

S30 NL North Preview

Scranton and owner reggie988 won the NL North for the second consecutive year and made their second straight World Series appearance.  This time, the Red Barons came out on top to win their first championship in franchise history.  Iowa City made a late-season run to capture the NL's final wild-card birth.  Owner tk21775 has won 7 NL North titles in his 14 seasons with the Hawkeyes, which means the odds of returning to the top are in his favor.  Owner pinetaar has come back to Pine Tar after a one-year absence.  He led Helena to a World Series title in Season 26 and hopes to make the Copper Kings contenders once again.  Fargo traded away a number of star players at the mid-season mark, and finished in 4th place.  It looks as though owner starbuckdc could be starting to rebuild the Wood Chippers. 

Fargo Wood Chippers (starbuckdc - 30th season)
Payroll: 58.1M
Draft Pick: #6

Season 29 Record: 69-93 (4th place)
S29 Runs ScoredS29 Team ERAS29 Fielding Percentage
619 (13th in NL)4.00 (8th in NL).983 (10th in NL)

Season 30: Grading the Wood Chippers
Hitting: C-Starters: DInfield: C+
Power: DRelievers: COutfield: D
Speed: C
Catching: A-

-Offensive Threats: 1B Junior Shigetoshi (.389 OBP, 64 RBI), LF Octavio Armas (16 HR, 45 RBI), 3B Clint Green (39 HR, 99 RBI).
-Catching should be strong with Jonny Lincoln.  Could use an improved glove at SS and better range at 1B and OF.
-Starting rotation is missing true #1 and #2 starters.  Freddy Butcher (10-11, 3.96 ERA) was an all-star in Season 28 and 24-year-old Ben May (8-7, 3.40 ERA) showed promise after being called-up mid-season.  Bullpen has Rickie Metcalfe (40 saves, 2.98 ERA) and a few good low-stamina set-up guys, but could use more help.

Helena Copper Kings (pinetaar - 4th season)
Payroll: 89.2M
Draft Pick: #22

Season 29 Record: 82-80 (3rd place)
S29 Runs ScoredS29 Team ERAS29 Fielding Percentage
718 (6th in NL)4.04 (9th in NL).985 (4th in NL)

Season 30: Grading the Copper Kings
Hitting: CStarters: CInfield: C+
Power: ARelievers: B-Outfield: C-
Speed: C
Catching: B+

-Offensive Threats: MVP LF Benito Rodriguez (.337 BA, 40 HR, 87 RBI, 21 SB), RF J.A. Stanley (41 HR, 118 RBI), SS Alex Suzuki (43 HR, 111 RBI).  Plenty of power in the lineup.
-SS Yusmeiro Julio lost some range but still has a good glove.  Will probably have to sacrifice fielding to get best hitters in lineup.
-Starters Miguel Rivera (10-9), Gerald Foster (13-9), and Nicholas Phillips (13-10) all had serviceable seasons.  Closer Jose Goya (29 saves, 2.77 ERA) has amazing splits.  Bullpen promoted several youngsters who may or may not be ready for the bigs.

Iowa City Hawkeyes (tk21775 - 15th season)
Payroll: 77.7M
Draft Pick: #72

Season 29 Record: 85-77 (2nd place - lost in DPIS)
S29 Runs ScoredS29 Team ERAS29 Fielding Percentage
615 (14th in NL)3.19 (2nd in NL).987 (1st in NL)

Season 30: Grading the Hawkeyes
Hitting: CStarters: B+Infield: A-
Power: B+Relievers: BOutfield: C-
Speed: C-
Catching: A

-Offensive Threats: S28 MVP Tony Caballero (.309 BA, 46 HR, 109 RBI), RF Rickie Halama (.279 BA, 42 HR, 102 RBI), LF Alexei Marrero (.270 BA, 23 HR, 65 RBI).  Big dropoff in offense after these three players.
-Carl Marion (41% CS, 2.92 cERA) won a gold glove at C.  Cam House is an outstanding defensive shortstop.  Lacking range in OF.
-Added free-agents Sean Shipley (12-8, 2.87 ERA) and Ryan Wilkins (16-10) to a rotation that had a bunch of success last season.  All-star Butch Simmons (12-9, 2.85 ERA) moves to the bullpen and 25-year-old Dave Coleman will try his hand at the closer role.

Scranton Red Barons (reggie988 - 8th season)
Payroll: 53.6M
Draft Pick: #27

Season 29 Record: 91-71 (1st place - World Series Champs)
S29 Runs ScoredS29 Team ERAS29 Fielding Percentage
827 (1st in NL)4.13 (11th in NL).984 (8th in NL)

Season 30: Grading the Red Barons
Hitting: AStarters: BInfield: C+
Power: A-Relievers: COutfield: B+
Speed: C-
Catching: C

-Offensive Threats: All-stars Eugenio Canseco (.374 OBP, 41 HR, 120 RBI) and Jim Hawpe (.363 OBP, 22 HR, 82 RBI, 30 SB), 1B David Uribe (.371 OBP, 32 HR, 112 RBI).  Basically, everybody in their starting lineup is an offensive threat.
-Vladimir Toregas had 17 plus plays at 3B, but Jim Hawpe had 27 errors at SS.  Zachrey Diamond should be strong in CF.
-24-year-old Gustavo Santos (10-5, 3.57 ERA) made a name for himself by going 6-1 in the postseason.  Starting rotation has good depth.  Average pen led by Avisail Soto (3.72 ERA) and closer Mitch Mota (26 saves, 3.00 ERA).

In my opinion, Scranton has the best offensive lineup in the National League.  That offense, along with mediocre pitching and fielding, should give the Red Barons a great shot at repeating as NL North champs.  Iowa has great pitching and fielding.  If the Hawkeyes decide to keep Caballero and Marrero, who are on the trade block, then they could be a contender for the division title.  If Iowa does trade those stars, then they will probably drop to third place behind Helena.  The Copper Kings have a powerful lineup which contains last season's MVP Benito Rodriguez.  Fargo should struggle in multiple areas of the game.  The Wood Chippers unloaded their veterans last season in an effort to begin rebuilding.

1.  Scranton
2.  Iowa
3.  Helena
4.  Fargo

Owner's Press Release:

Pinetaar (Helena)Glad to have my team back, unfortunately have this report: Missed last year, the franchise paid for it has taken several steps back most notably due to contracts signed by the interim owner for J. A. Stanley, Alex Suzuki , Miguel Rivera, and others. Team will be rebuilding the best it can while enduring those contracts...they happen to catch fire early then we'll roll with it.

Reggie988 (Scranton): Boy that World Series trophy sure looks good on the front page. I decided to pretty much keep the band together and go for another one. Looking forward to adding Luis Cruz into the mix this season. I'll be looking to make a move or two to bolster my bullpen during the season, but overall, I think I'm in a good position to make another run at it.

Starbuckdc (Fargo)My team will most likely suck this season. I completely messed up my rule 5 draft and lost top talent. Its a hazard of being on the road. I'lll just try and be as competitive as possible.

Tk21775 (Iowa) has some star players on the trading block.  He said "If a trade goes through I will not be competitive, as last year was a shock going into a rebuild and getting a wildcard spot. If it doesn't go through I'm hoping for a repeat but believe my players overperformed and my pitching is not very strong."

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