Tuesday, January 11, 2011

NL North Season 18 Preview

Ottawa Rough Riders

Key additions: Jay Hughes
Key losses: Carlos Fernandez, Lonny Aguilar, Neil O'Neil

The Rough Riders have done a real nice job staying competitive with a small payroll in recent seasons, and this season should be no different. With a payroll under $50 million and no huge losses following a 93-win season, the Rough Riders look to compete for the division title once again this year. The offense is led by former ROY winner John Murata and fellow young slugger Sawyer Delmonico, and the rotation, though it features no true ace, is solid and should keep the team in games enough for the offense to push the Rough Riders to the playoffs. Prediction: 90-72.

Tacoma Mountain Men

Key additions: Buddy Cepeda
Key losses: Jimmy Springer, Tomas Concepcion, Vladimir Bautista, Donne Higginson, Jamie Risley, Peter Chong

After 17 years of unmatched success, including 8 (eight!) World Series titles, including one last season, it might finally be time for Tacoma (formerly the Rochester Big and Tall juggernaut) to return to the pack. Although a lot of talent was lost during the offseason, the Mountain Men still boast a strong starting rotation led by Robert Walton, and a few good middle-of-the-lineup bats, led by Benito Perez. They aren't my pick to repeat, but I think they have a chance at making the playoffs despite all the off-season losses. Prediction: 87-75.

New York Stink Palmers

Key additions: None
Key losses: Dennys Hayes

We've all heard a lot about New York's rebuilding plan, and now it's time to see if there are going to be results. The offense is led by Ben Bickerton and young Javier Santana, and the pitching staff is led by Mark Cox. Owner joshcarolina obviously feels he has enough young talent on this franchise to make a run at the playoffs this season, but a weak starting rotation and a mediocre offense will probably lead to a finish in the bottom half of the division. Prediction: 74-88.

Madison Cheeseheads

Key additions: Carlos Fernandez, Freddy Dixon, Michael Lee, Neil O'Neil, Eddie Marshall
Key losses: Charles Suzuki, Grant Kapler

After a disappointing 89-loss campaign last season, the Cheeseheads set out to improve their pitching through free agency, and they did just that, inking SP's Dixon and Marshall and RP's Fernandez and Lee. However, without a true ace atop the rotation or top-notch slugger in the middle of the lineup, the Cheeseheads will probably disappoint this season as well. Prediction: 73-89.

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