The South is home to two of the better teams in Kinsella, the Marlins and Braves. Could this be the year that the Braves rise up and knock the Marlins back into second place? It looks like a minimum of 100 wins will be required.
The Marlins are re-tooling the franchise, but don’t appear to have lost a step. While the two top teams occupy the penthouse, the bottom two are in the outhouse. The Cardinals and Astros offer very little competition.
The predicted standings for this season are:
Florida Marlins 104-58 (Division Champ)
Atlanta Braves 96-66 (Playoff, WC)
St. Louis Cardinals 71-91
Houston Astros 52-110
Houston Astros (dherz_263, 3rd year w/Astros, 14 w/Mets)
Last Year: 64-98
Runs Scored/Allowed: 676/945
Players Added: 2b – David Lo (ruleV, Mil)
Players Lost: ss – Quilvio Espinosa (fa), of – Diory Valezquez
Preview: Dherz made some eye popping trades early in the year as he rebuilds the Astros. The minor leagues are now stocked with tremendous players, and they would have been much better had Diory Velazquez not gone down with a herniated disc in his neck (a pain I personally know all too well). It was a gamble (with 21 health) but one worth taking. Since they can’t put him in a bubble, Houston parted ways.
There doesn’t seem to be many changes coming to Houston other than letting Espinosa and Valesquez walk. The pitching staff is still in bad shape and it’s unclear who will make starts. With a $60 of the $64 million used in player payroll this could be the scrap heap all stars.
With the money, it appears that DHerz is finding every broke down old veteran that he can find. At the time of this writing they are still unassigned so it’s interesting to see who makes the club.
Overall: It’s going to be a long hot summer. Maybe they sell tickets with 10 cent beer night?
St. Louis Cardinals (cyben5150, 4th season)
Last Year: 72-90
Runs Scored/Allowed: 621/689
Players Added: c – Aaron Hernandez (tb)
Players Lost: sp – Al Courtney (fa), of – Walter Philips (fa), c – Austin Lane (AZ)
Preview: The Cardinals used to have a questionable pitching staff, but under owner Cyben they have made strides (finishing with only 689 runs allowed). Unfortunately, the pendulum has swing the other way, and now offense needs fixed.
Overall: Erik Reed can’t do this thing all alone. The Cards have $29 million left to spend, but the big question is will they do it? It looks like prospects are getting the lions share while the team continues their decent into the cellar.
Florida Marlins (tedwmoore, 9th season)
Last Year: 110-52
Runs Scored/Allowed: 784/501
Players Added: of – Daren Bennett (t-Pit), ss – Rodrigo Marin (Fla)
Players Lost: sp – Yamid Quixote (SD), sp – Manuel Johnson (fa), ss – Benito Velasquez (PIT)
Preview: The Marlins made it to the World Series only to lose to the crabman. Before the window closes for Ted and the gang, they look to be making another run. Word from South Beach is that the Marlins will be looking to retool on the fly. With an owner like Ted you can bet they won’t fall very far.
Overall: The Marlins are a premier team, and have remained so for the last six years. Book them into the playoffs for number seven and a chance to make even more noise this season.
Atlanta Braves (bux_express, 9th season, 11 w/Knights *Founding member)
Last Year: 95-67
Runs Scored/Allowed: 753/668
Players Added: ss Hughie Barney (aaa)
Players Lost: ss Warren Parker (TB)
Preview: The Braves made a splash a few years ago as owner Bux rebuilt the Atlanta chop shop into a contender. With the Marlins looking at a possible decline the Braves might just be the team to take the helm as THE team in the NL South and possibly the team to beat in the National League.
The loss of Warren Parker to Tampa Bay was a loss. Parker sported a .284/.352/.409, a 3.2 War, and 80 runs created. Most importantly is the defense lost, which could make the biggest difference. Barney will have growing pains with his glove but has a strong accurate arm. Parker had 16 errors and 17 plus plays at short.
Overall: The Braves play in a tough division and are tougher for it. With so many good NL teams, they have as good a chance as anyone to represent the senior circuit in the NL.Prediction: 96-66