The NL North has not been represented in the World Series since the Brewers did it in season 16. The last team to win was the Expos in season 11. Could that change this year?
The North is in a downward spiral with the exception of the Expos. The Brewers, Cubs, and Reds all look to be cutting payroll and moving into rebuilding. Are they hoping for the Expos to decline? That could be a long and painful wait.
The predicted standings for this season are:
Montreal Expos 104-58 (Division Champ)
Milwaukee Brewers 74-88
Chicago Cubs 73-89
Cincinnati Reds 52-110
Chicago Cubs (littlejim, 2nd season)
Last Year: 71-91
Runs Scored/Allowed: 785/877
Players Added: ss – Dee Perry (SF), rp – Mark Chen (aaa), sp - Justin Spencer (TB)
Players Lost: ss – Bernie Rivera (fa), sp – Chad Hawkins (fa)
Preview: In his second year in the league, littlejim found out that running the minimum in the pitching department doesn’t win ball games. The Cubbies lost 91 games due mostly to giving up 877 runs. The franchise hasn’t allowed less than 800 runs since season 16.
Overall: Without an attempt to shore up the pitching staff, the Cubs will probably struggle again this season.
Milwaukee Brewers (bison8, *21st season)
Last Year: 81-81
Runs Scored/Allowed: 701/702
Players Added: lf – Edinson Martinez (pit), rp – Al Soto (TB), sp – Lonny Castro (Balt), 3b – Aramis Jacquez
Players Lost: sp’s Vazquez, Duran, Hernandez, (FA’s), rp Figueroa
Preview: There was some question on whether longtime owner bison would return this season. At the last second Kinsella rejoiced in the news that the Brew Crew would retain their famed owner. The Brewers have remained consistent, and are always in contention. With a little bit of offense, the Brewers could return to the playoffs.
It will be tough to replace five starters from last year. Gone are Bruce Lewis (73 runs), Neifi Sierra (62 runs), Geraldo Roque (71 runs), Braeden Perry (36 runs). For a team that only scored 701 total runs, that is nearly 25% of their offense. Gone also is 60% of the starting rotation, which has been partially replaced by Martinez.
Overall: It’s still unclear what the Brewers are going to do for pitching. Looks like the scrap heap all-stars. They hope that the “little bit of offense” comes in the form of Aramis Jacquez. AJ produced .263/.316/.431, 1.8 war, and 69 rc.
Montreal Expos (ssauve25, 8th season)
Last Year: 113-49
Runs Scored/Allowed: 957/611
Players Added: Cf – Joe Hoffman (tex), of – Phil Stargell (AZ)
Players Lost: 1b – Jolbert Ortiz (tb), of – Glen Stanley (fa), sp – Ozzie Jordan (t-Ari)
Preview: It took some time to rebuild, but the Expos are one of the true juggernauts of Kinsella. Ssauve had a plan for the Expos, and they have now morphed into one of the premier clubs. Could this be the year they take the hardware back to Montreal?
The loss of Jolbert Ortiz to Tampa Bay (he says he was tired of the cold ass weather, and sends his regards from his yacht), is a huge dent in the most powerful offense in the league. How does ssauve replace 9.6 War/139 runs created? Joe Hoffman will try to fill the shoes (.228/.288/.424, 0.9 war, 45 rc). Former #2 overall pick (season 19) Vicente Delgado will be eagerly awaiting his call to the big leagues.
Overall: The Expos are the most well rounded team in the NL, but do face steep competition. This is now a veteran team, and young starters are no longer getting better. Still, they have the most talent and are the overall pick to win the NL.
Cincinnati Reds (Sockless_Joe, *2oth season)
Last Year: 70-92
Runs Scored/Allowed: 738/845
Players Added: none
Players Lost: The pitching staff, other than Omar Mendoza (Wiggenton to SF, Roosevelt to SD), of – Pascual Brito
Preview: Longtime owner sockless_joe hasn’t had the easiest run in Kinsella. The Reds have only hit 80 wins once since season 13. The pitching staff responsible for giving up 845 runs is gone, with the exception of Omar Mendoza.
The team was seemingly abandoned as of during the pre-season, and in doing so the Reds have lost their pitching staff, and their best slugger (Pascual Brito to Detroit; .272/.348/.559, 6.6 war, 127 rc), and their best pitchers in Wiggenton and Roosevelt. The holes will be filled by a host of young and talented players. 1b Keith Blevins MIGHT be able to perform as well as Brito (at a fraction of the cost). Cal Norton was replacement level in his 250 ab, and Yuta Gang didn’t really move forward in his progression (posted .308/.391/.513, 4.9 war, 90 rc) but does have health concerns.
Overall: It was a disappointing offseason for the Reds and their fans. Was this the plan, or Cincy just drop the ball? With $57 budgeted for players, but only $33 spent they can still make some surprise moves to shore up the team.