Tuesday, January 11, 2011

AL North Season 18 Preview

Scranton Red Barons

Key additions: Stevie Reed, Luther Broome, Louis Gibson, Harry Mateo
Key losses: Eddie Marshall, Tex Parnell, Clem Smith, Fred Lieberthal

Although this franchise won 87 or more games each of the past 3 seasons, they missed the playoffs each year, and new owner pgburner realized some moves were necessary to push them over the hump and land their first playoff berth since season 14. Gibson and Mateo were signed to small 1-year contracts to provide an offensive burst, and newly promoted Phil Hampton should provide some pop from a corner outfield position. The starting rotation looks pretty solid, but the bullpen will probably need more help than just newly signed Reed and Broome. Prediction: 95-67

New York Juicers

Key additions: David Ontiveros
Key losses: Gabe Douglass, Hector Beltran, Erubiel Martin, Ismael Santiago

The Juicers underwent a tumultuous off-season that could cause them to lose their 6-season hold on 1st place in the notoriously tough AL North. The biggest loss was 2-time MVP Beltran, who left to sign a 5-year, $102 million contract with Colorado Springs. The bats of Martin and Santiago will also be missed, but Ontiveras, acquired in a trade with Salt Lake City, will greatly help the lessen the blow. Along with Emmanuel Machado and on-base machine Hideo Hujimoto, this offense still has the capability to put up lots of runs. And the 1-2 punch of Raymond Buckley and Daisuke Kimura will probably keep the Juicers in playoff contention all season. Prediction: 94-68

Cincinnati Red Stockings

Key additions: None
Key losses: Matty Oliva

Not much changed over the off-season for the Red Stockings, who look to return to the playoffs after a first round exit last year. There's no doubt that the offense will be solid, led by Tony Shannon and Mack Webster. The real question is whether the pitching staff will repeat its performance last season, when SP's Tomas Alomar, Ken Gehrig, and Tuck Sweeney all posted 16 or more wins and ERA's of 3.45 or below. My guess is the staff will take a step back this season. Prediction: 86-76.

Milwaukee Brewers

Key additions: Eugene Nicholson, Luis Nieves, Vladimir Bautista, Stuart Kirkland
Key losses: Darrel Young, Bret Gagne, Jimmie Morales

Last season, the Brewers won 88 games...and finished in dead last in the division. Their off-season plan appeared to be replacing departing old pitching with some fresh old pitching from the free agent market. However, their pitching staff appears to be stronger than last season's staff, provided injuries and aging don't strike too hard. The offense is once again led by Bosco Hyers and a solid, but not spectacular, supporting cast including Adam Gagne and Albert Lugo. The season likely depends upon incoming SP Nicholson's ability to stay healthy. Prediction: 84-78

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