Tuesday, April 28, 2009

NL North Preview

Rochester Big and Tall

Owner: ns220 (12th Season in Alexander)

Franchise History: 9 Division titles, 5 World Series titles

Last Season: 116-46, 1st place (for the 6th year in a row)

Notable Departures: The Big and Tall cut ties with several of their long standing stars, including Cy Young award winner Al Carreras, power hitting shortstop Harvey Young and reliever Gabe Douglass. As a result, Rochester will have 7 of the first 78 picks in the upcoming amateur draft.

Notable Additions: Rochester is dipping in to its deep store of farm talent to fill the holes created by free agency. Luis Lopez, who was strong as an injury fill-in last season, will return to the starting rotation; and the anticipated arrivals of Bob Holt and Jamie Risley 21 games in to the season will create new All Stars for Rochester at shortstop and catcher.

Outlook: The lineup will be strong, but Rochester's pitching will be its weakest in years. The bullpen lacks depth, and none of the starters can be depended on to go deep into games. Though a 7th straight division title looks likely, a significant injury among the Big and Tall hurlers would be tough to overcome.

Prediction: Anything less than 110 wins and a division title would be a disappointment.




Ottawa Rough Riders

Owner: Stitch01 (5th Season in Alexander)

Franchise History: 1 Division title

Last Season: 75-87, 2nd place (for the 5th year in a row)

Notable Departures: The big loss this offseason was Antoine Day, a nine time all-star, and perennial number one starter. Terry Pratt was also lost to free agency, but the Rough Riders had been transitioning the catching job to Rico Belliard so that's not as big of a loss.

Notable Additions: The team acquired Willie Tabaka as a good, low cost acquisition to solidify the bullpen.

Outlook: The Rough Riders are going young in the starting lineup, depending on youngsters like Nipsy LaRocca (24) and Ryan Jennings (25). Catcher Rico Belliard (23) will take a more full time role this season. On the pitching side, Season 7 first round pick Dennis Duffy will lead the way. David Tejera will start the season in AAA, but may hit the rotation by mid-season. 22-year old wunderkind Candy Swann will also see some time in a middle relief role.

The Rough Riders are excited about the players in their lower minors. Peter Dorsey (19, Lo-A) can become the next Mike Piazza, Jamie Wilson (21, AA) can be an above average bat at 1B, Ed Reboulet (22, Hi-A) can be a starter in LF, and they have a number of candidates for the SS spot. A future closer is in Lo-A, Esmailyan Sierra (19).

Prediction: Another second place finish looks likely, as Ottawa should finish around .500.



New York new york

Owner: joshcarolina (12th Season in Alexander)

Franchise History: 1 Division title

Last Season: 71-91, 3rd place (for the 5th year in a row)

Notable Departures: Speedster and long time centerfield fixture Bonk Alexander was let go, after disappointing for several seasons. RF Lonnie Milton never panned out and the team did not attempt to resign him.

Notable Additions: LF Dion Lane was signed to a 5 year/$46 Million contract to provide some pop. The New York Nine are hopeful that season 12 will look more like season 10 than season 11.

Outlook: The Gotham club will be leaning on three players entering their prime to carry the load this season. David Valenzuela, Lazy Stern and Hiram Chang are all 27, and should have breakout seasons. Adding Dion Lane and moving two-time All-Star Dean Brown to CF should make the lineup formidable.

Unfortunately, the pitching staff will not be up to the challenge. Despite the addition of Type A free agent Gabe Douglass, and though Shea Stadium will show lower than average ERAs and WHIPs, the team will be required to rely on Del Rincon and Christian Gray, each of whom would be quite a catch, were it season 7 instead of season 12.

Prediction: Another third place finish looks likely, as New York should improve on its win total from last season, but fall short of .500.



Montreal Canadiens

Owner: funk police (12th Season in Alexander)

Franchise History: 1 playoff appearance

Last Season: 64-98, 4th place (for the 6th year in a row)

Notable Departures: None.

Notable Additions: Shane McCartin was signed to help fill out the rotation.

Outlook: The Canadiens will be bringing back essentially the same club as season 11, which is not a good sign for our friends up north. Neither the pitching nor the lineup will be in a position to compete. The Canadiens are trying to hold on until their recent draft picks, highlighted by future All-Star Al Wheat, are ready for the majors.

Prediction: Barring a complete collapse of one of the other teams in the division, this team will be in the basement once more.

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