Wednesday, March 26, 2014

AL North Preview


LAST YEARS PREVIEW: The Twins made moves to improve their team and chase that World Series Ring. While the rest of the AL contenders look a little more solid on paper the Twins have as good a chance as anyone. Prediction: 98-64
OUT: Vance Barker, Kent Robertson, Fred Wolf, Rodrigo Salinas, Brandon Outman, Al Palcious, Khoury Hayes
IN:  Paxton Banks, Gerald Schneider, Nelson Penny, Vin Batista, Rafael Sanchez, Angel Feliz, Brian Lee, Benito Rojas
The Twins are very confident coming into the new year. They return one of the better offenses in the AL thanks to Pedro Lucano, Charley O’Brien, Glenallen Richard, and Tom Darwin.
It was a season of change as Thunderdonkey goes after his 4th consecutive playoff birth. Ivan Gomez was shipped out last season, and this year Benito Rojas joins the team. If anything, the Twins will be more powerful at the plate.
The pitching staff experienced a huge amount of turnover in the offseason. Vance Barker was lost in free agency to Kansas City. The Twins compensated as much as possible by bringing in vets like Nelson Penny and Paxton Banks. The bullpen was awful last year, and has been shored up as well.
Overall, the Twins remain a contender for the AL crown. The offense should be expected to score between 840 and 890. The pitching staff will only be slightly better falling between 740 and 770.

Chicago White Sox (AL)
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LAST YEARS PREVIEW: On the offensive side there was a lot of movement. I’m not sold on the change was for the better. For a team that was offensively inept they seem to have gotten weaker. Overall, it’s hard to see this team making another run. JNew is a magician so you never know. PREDICTION: 73-99

OUT: Trace Epstein, Ricky Martin, William Page, Nick Terrell
IN: Derek Lewis, Albert Rodriguez

Unlike the Twins, the White Sox are very pessimistic. And with good reason. They lost two starters, and two excellent relievers. The offense that only scored 693 runs returns everyone, and there was no help in sight. So, while the rebuilding continues it is possible that the South Siders will continue to slide.
I see things working a little differently for Chicago. Here were the things I saw that may contradict the pessimism:
·         Carlos Martin can’t be allowed to lead the team in plate appearances. Preston Hall, who was number two, also should not be getting that many at bats.
·         Lou Goldstein needs more at bats.
·         Wandy Martin led the team with 84 Runs Created…he will be even better this year.
·         Several guys simply had bad luck last year. BABIP under .280 qualifies that bad luck. Who had BABIP under that level? Martin, Kirk, Cornelius, Cruz, Priest, and Rojas. Every single one of those players had 400 or more at bats.
The White Sox aren’t expected to be contenders, but I think they will be tough out for whoever they play. I expect them to score 740 to 760 runs. They should allow 740 to 720 runs.

Toronto Blue Jays (AL)
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LAST YEARS PREVIEW: What in the world happened in Toronto??? This team should have won last season, but only managed 75 wins. Their pitching allowed 770 runs, and only managed to score 730. Not Toronto-like. Toronto lost a lot of pitching help, and the only incoming players are rule V cast offs. Sorry, but I’m off the bandwagon. Prediction: 72-90

OUT: Jeff Walcott, Ebeneezer Lloyd, Willie Manzanillo
IN: Martin McFeely, Reggie Johnson
Apparently, the Blue Jays needed a wakeup call. Last years preview must have been used as bulletin board material because Toronto finally played like the team they should have been all along.
The team returns everyone from their offense that scored 789 runs. Victor Blanco, Phil Doumit, and Wally Barton produced at incredible levels. Red Jones was a surprising breakout player, and maybe up for Reggie Johnson’s off year.
The pitching staff really led the way, only allowing 658 runs. The defense was a little above average while pitchers Al Jeanmar, Pascual Ramirez, and Harry Guzman had fantastic years on the bump.
The Blue Jays didn’t lose any players of consequence, and should have another solid year on their march to the playoffs. Expect them to score maybe a little more…between 780 and 810. The pitching staff remains solid, as does the defense. Expect them to allow 670 to 650.


LAST YEARS PREVIEW: A few of the older players are starting to slide, and losing pitchers like Munro and Goodwin are not always easily replaced. In the final analysis…I think this team was a bit unlucky last year. But it goes back to my lack of trust in this team. A playoff shot might be in their future, but I feel this team takes a step back. Prediction: 80-82

OUT: Ted Lombard, Derek Lewis, Timothy Wolf, Nelson Penny
IN: Milt Leonard, Sawyer Velarde, Juan Palacios, Wladimir Ayala, Yamid Plata
The Tigers were another team I overlooked in this division. I have had serious trust issues with this team for a few years now, and they finally beat my prediction and lived up to potential. But can it last???
Ted Lombard was traded for reliever Sawyer Velarde. This was actually a GREAT trade. Lombard only produced 74 runs, and while his defense was good it’s time for Terrence Stevens to get his shot. Ayala is a defensive wizard at short. Palacious will be a great setup guy for Velarde.
Overall, jdrake seems to have finally put it all together. A little of that trust was built last year and I hope they don’t prove me wrong. The Tigers should score between 830 and 860. They should allow 680 to 650 runs.

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