Monday, March 24, 2014

NL North Preview


LAST YEARS PREVIEW: The Cubs must have read the blog last year. Many changes were made to the team during the year and little by little the Cubs became more and more competitive. Overall, I think this team is ready now. The Cubs are a team to watch Prediction: 92-70
OUT: Sid Sherman, Cesar Trajano, Justin Spencer
IN:  Kevin Miller
The Cubs ALMOST made me look like a genius last year. They made it to the NLCS, but fell just short. Littlejim did an amazing job with his Cubbies, and was able to turn the franchise into a perennial contender.
To start the season, the fat was trimmed allowing the core group to continue growing. This team could actually be better than last year’s version. Yunel Park turned out to be a decent pickup (not like Puig, but decent). Leading the way was Trayvon Hammond, Ken Reagan, and Jason Descalso. They did enough to score 781 runs. Not a lot, but with an average defense and stellar pitching more than enough to win consistently.
The top four starters were a sight to behold. Vernon Broadway, Luis Bravo, Jim Becket, and Orval Crandle were all excellent. From the pen, Ben Nicholson and Burke Melton were devastating.
Overall, I still see this team as a title contender. THE title contender? Not sure yet. I think they score anywhere from 770 to 820 runs, and give up 700 to 670. With one more bullpen arm, and maybe one more bat this team could take it all.


LAST YEARS RECORD: 68-94, last

LAST YEARS PREVIEW: The Brewers should begin to round back into shape soon.
The entire pitching staff has been gutted. Only the young and Lariel Chavez remain. The same could be said of the offense. A lot of new faces. We will have to see where this team goes from here. PREDICTION: 70-92

OUT: Andrew Rudolph, Edinson Martinez, Al Santana

The Brewers made several big moves last year in preparation for this year. Lariel Chavez was traded for a couple mediocre minor league prospects, Boone Rivera was traded for a relief pitcher. Those trades were probably losses in hindsight. But in two other trades mongoose netted Edgard Nunez and Cesar Molina. Both of which contributed nicely.
Unfortuneatly, the offense spent another year in the crapper (not even reaching 600 runs), while the pitching staff went from 806 runs all the way down to 721. This year, the Brew Crew hit free agency HARD, but no one that really makes this team much better.
Overall, the offense is still searching for anyone that can get an OPS .800 (Okay, Bobby Simmons was .804 but only in 389 PA). They should score 590-610 runs. The runs allowed has bottomed out for this team so runs allowed should be about 750-720.


LAST YEARS PREVIEW: The Expos one of the top tier teams of Kinsella, and have been able to do so by not being afraid to make changes. At the end of last year, Vic Villafuerte joined the club for the home stretch and playoffs. This year ssauve made a few more brilliant moves to hopefully snag that elusive championship.
Can the Expos be better than their 109 win team last year? With the group being brought in, the answer is…only if they win the World Series. Prediction: 113-49

OUT: Trevor Tyner, Erick Linton, Glenallen Gagnon, Julio Callaspo
IN: Ken Kraemer, Erik Cosby, Mendy Mathews, Bernie Hampton
Ssauve has never been shy about trying to upgrade his team. He does have a new nickname…Maverick. He knows when to hold’em, when to fold’em, when to walk away, and when to run. A couple players were picked up on waivers, the trade that sent Linton to hell and Cosby to heaven, and some smooth free agent pickups.
This year’s version still looks sharp, but there are cracks. Age will bite this team, or an injury. Although Ssauve won’t want to hear this, I think the Expos reign is coming to an end in the NL North. They should score between 710 and 730 runs, while allowing 650 to 620 runs.


LAST YEARS PREVIEW: The Reds were not to be feared last year, winning 10 games less than predicted. The pitching staff got ROCKED to the tune of 974 runs (that’s 6+ runs per game…OUCH).
At this time I don’t see any involvement by sockless_joe. No free agent signings. Only a rule V pickup.
Once again, the league questions the commitment that the ownership has to the franchise in Cincinnati. Prediction: 54-108

OUT: Lonny Sierra, Manuel Johnson, Ugueth Pulido, Alfredo Uribe, Morgan Newson, Marty Browne
IN: Erick Linton, Douglas Hodges, Warren Hume, Phil Tracy, Sammy Redondo

Sockless Joe made me EAT MY WORDS with his body of work last season. The Reds finished with a winning record instead of in the toilet. How did they do it???
·         27-17 in one run games
·         A very productive offense that scored 858 runs
·         A pitching staff that held on for dear life
This team really should have finished at least four games under .500. But those one run wins turned out to be huge in the grand scheme of things.
So, what will this year bring? Three of the five starters were sent packing (Sierra, Johnson, Pulido). The loss of all three will hurt. Left behind is ace Spike Smoltz and relievers Stew McFeely and Daryle Smith. At this time I see NO new additions, so I have no idea what Sockless has up his sleeves this time. There are some good free agents still available in free agency with prices going down after the start of the season.
I won’t get burned twice when my good name is on the line. So, for runs scored we should see 850-880. In runs allowed I’m going to assume someone will be brought in to pitch at some point and they will be better than what was dumped. So, put them anywhere from 850 to 890 runs allowed.

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