Fargo Woodchippers (calolson)
The Woodchippers last season came charging down the stretch to take the National League North but it seemed like all that energy used to take the National League North was used as the team didn’t make it far into the playoffs. The team has won the National League North two out of the last three seasons and with all the offensive coming back this season there shouldn’t be any question that they could take the division once again this season. The team only lost David Torres (P) (11-2, 4.53ERA, 159IP), Vladimir Gonzalez (P) (8-4, 3.43ERA, 1SV) and Benji Cruz (P) (3-1, 6.72ERA, 2SV) to free agency. The team signed Frank Nakamura (P) (7-8, 4.10ERA, 140.1IP) from the Hartford Demolition for 2yrs/7.2mil, Stuart Davidson (P) (1-2, 4.71ERA, 49G) from the Tacoma Pioneers for 2yrs/1.35mil and Ugueth Estrada (P) (5-4, 2.56ERA, 3SV) from the Tacoma Pioneers for 4yrs/23.2mil. The team resigned Philip Dunn (C) (.294, 22, 67). The team didn’t trade for anyone during the off-season. The team saw that last season there pitching staff struggled a little and they went hard into the free agent market this season to make sure it was correct.
The Woodchippers had the second best offensive in the National League almost scoring a thousand runs. The scary thing is for the other team in the National League North that nothing about this offensive has changed and they will be looking to score around a thousand runs once again. AllStar Nick Ball (3B) (.314, 40, 141) is one of the two true power hitters in this lineup and with 141 RBI and 210 hits he’s also a true hitter and a team leader. AllStar Nicky Duran (1B) (.297, 35, 123) is the other true power hitter in the lineup and easily cleans up the bases if Ball misses the opportunity. The returning players Jaime Basile (2B) (.267, 14, 92), RF Gold Glove A.J. Balfour (RF) (.283, 15, 73), Tommie Romero (SS) (.335, 6, 81), Jorel Seo (CF) (.280, 16, 78), C Gold Glove Ricky Gibbons (C) (.313, 25, 78), Pablo Mesa (3B) (.290, 28, 66), Philip Dunn (C) (.294, 22, 67) and Livan Guerrero (SS) (.268, 3, 30) should still be one of the best offensive this season. It’s very hard to find the weakness in this lineup as they do just about everything right.
The Woodchippers pitching staff gave up 775 runs last season which is about the middle of the pack for the National League. They went out into the free agent market to replace the three pitchers that left for the free agent as they got some good bullpen help and some help for the rotation this season. AllStar Brendan Cora (17-5, 3.44ERA, 204IP) is the staff ace and the only Allstar from the pitching staff. When I talk with Cora he said that he’s got a lot to prove and what’s to become one of the elite pitchers because he feels know ones talking about him this season after last seasons terrific numbers. John Cho (15-7, 5.37ERA, 197.2IP) was second on the team in victories but the team really hopes he can bring his ERA down this season. Harry Beltran (10-8, 4.84ERA, 152.1IP), Jim Little (7-6, 3.70ERA, 126.1IP) and Ugueth Estrada should fill out the remaining spots in the rotation. I really don’t know who will be the closer this season as the team will have a lot of options but if I had to choose one for this team I would say Rico Martin (3-6, 3.86ERA, 21SV) because he was a part time closer for this team last season. I really don’t know about this teams pitching staff as it could go any way as they could be better then last or worse as there are some unknowns about it.
Projected Record – 95-67
New Britain Fisher Cats (jway11)
The Fisher Cats made a big improvement last with winning 18 more games from the previous year for franchise record 88 wins. This team is very interesting to me as they seem to have the offensive to compete in the National League North but the pitching staff is the big question mark for me as they seem to be going for youth in the staff. I think last season was a mirage for this team as the offensive held this team up and I believe that they will fall below .500 this season. The team only lost Randy Coolbaugh (CF) (.186, 1, 11) and Felix Riggs (P) (1-2, 4.56ERA, 71G). The team signed didn’t sign any from the free agent market. The team resigned Nicholas Herndon (CF) (.292, 4, 59) and Cameron Holt (P) (3-10, 5.40ERA, 35SV). The team traded P Gold Glove Rafael Machado (P) (15-8, 4.39ERA, 186.2IP) and a minor leaguer with 3.0 mil to the Ottawa Crawdaddies for Adam Warner (P) (2-2, 6.14ERA, 22G) and two minor leaguers. They also exchanged minor leaguers with the Ottawa Crawdaddies from another trade. The team really focused on resigning some of there top players but the trade of Rafael Machado is a big question mark to me with the pitching staff looking for an ace.
The offensive last season score over nine hundreds runs with a great mix of speed and power. I don’t think there’s a tougher first five hitters then there are on the Fisher Cats as they scored 558 runs, 900 hits, 119 doubles, 139 homeruns, 536 RBI, 383 walks, 149 stolen bases, .296 AVE, .375 OBP, .481 SLG, so good luck with the pitchers that have to face them. NL MVP/ AllStar/ C Silver Slugger Erik West (C) (.321, 66, 193) is without a question the MVP of the National League last season and will probably win the award this season again. AllStar Nicholas Herndon (CF) (.292, 4, 59) was resigned during the off-season and was a great signing as it would have really hurt this team with Herndon’s 82 stolen bases and 117 runs out of the lineup. Returning players Kevin Montgomery (RF) (.300, 33, 127), Lonnie Grove (2B) (.260, 29, 92), Jesus Mendoza (CF) (.282, 7, 68), SS Gold Glove Kennie Sexson (SS) (.256, 13, 73), AllStar Hoss Boone (1B) (.282, 29, 89) and Pedro Javier (3B) (.308, 17, 74) should have no problem being as good as they were last season. Can the players at the bottom of the lineup produce better numbers this season because the top five will bring fear to the pitchers they face this season?
It looks like the Fisher Cats pitching staff could be in real trouble this season, as they have three rookies in the starting rotation and no one in the bullpen with an ERA under 4 from last season. I think the Fisher Cats are taking a big risk this season by starting three rookies in the rotation after having a great season last year, it really seems like a step back to me but I’m just looking in from the outside and jway11 is the owner and after the 88 wins he might know what he’s doing this season. Horacio Segui (12-10, 4.43ERA, 162.2IP) will be put in as the number pitcher for this team but Segui is not a number pitcher and more of a middle of a pack pitcher so who knows what kind of pressure will be put on him to perform this season. Carmen Leiter (11-13, 5.36ERA, 191.1IP) is the only other starter left from last season and the same with Segui will have a lot of pressure place on him to teach the rookies how to pitch in the big leagues. Jerry Franco (minor leagues), Esteban Polanco (minor leagues) and Carlos Pujols (minor leagues) should finish the rest of the rotation. Cameron Holt will be the closer this season after saving 35 last year but how long will he be the closer with 6 blown saves and a 5.40ERA last season. This could be a very long year for the pitching staff as the fans should have fun watching there club score a lot of runs but they will also be seeing a lot of runs scored against there team.Projected Lineup
Projected Record – 78-84
Hartford Demolition (yanks0218)
The Demolition had one the World Series Championship the previous year and looked as if they would get there second straight National League North title last season but they ran out of steam towards the end and ended as a wild card team where they where quickly removed from the playoffs. The owner (yanks0218) hated playing in Detroit as he thought it was killing is hitting and with a 39-42 record at home he might be right, so he moved the team to Hartford hoping that it will be live into his offensive but keep the pitching strong. The team lost Al Wills (P) (5-5, 5.14ERA, 3SV), Frank Nakamura (P) (7-8, 4.10ERA, 140.1IP) and Damaso Carrasquel (P) (4-1, 3.87ERA, 2SV). The team signed Artie Holmes (P) (9-10, 6.55ERA, 195IP) from the Madison Lasers 3yrs/16.8mil with a 1.0mil signing bonus and Carson Minor (P) (3-6, 5.71ERA, 4SV) from the Florida Gators for 2yrs/4.2mil. The team resigned Hal Whitman (P) (5-2, 4.46ERA, 1SV). The team traded a minor leaguer to the Houston Hitmen for Bud Iorg (SS) (.297, 13, 64) and a minor leaguer.
You wouldn’t think that a team scoring over eight hundred runs would still be in the category of struggling, but the team scored a good hand full of those runs on the road and then struggling with the bats at home. The team is hoping that the new city of Hartford will allow the offensive to thrive on the road and at home. LF Gold Glove Clem Barkley (LF) (.288, 32, 101) was the only player last season for this to score a 100 runs, 30 homeruns and 100 RBI’s last season and the team is looking for his numbers to jump this season in the new ballpark. 1B Silver Slugger Cookie Valdes (1B) (.359, 18, 95) hit really well on the road or at home as you don’t have a .359 batting average if you can’t hit at home and with the new ballpark you should see his power numbers improve this season. Returning players Nomar Kirby (SS) (.325, 16, 67), Chris Murphy (2B) (.284, 25, 95), Vinny Menechino (SS) (.289, 12, 60), Endy Hemingway (C) (.264, 6, 53), Alberto DeSoto (3B) (.274, 13, 61) and Matt Corey (2B) (.338, 7, 33) should improve there numbers from last season in there new ballpark. How much will the effect of the new ballpark have on this offensive? I believe that it will improve from last season.
The pitcher lost a couple of people in the free agent market so they went and got a couple to replace them and it probably is an improvement from last season. The pitching staff this season will have a CY Young winner and a closer that is tied for the all-time lead in saves for the USMLB so the pitching staff really shouldn’t change from last season even in the new ballpark. CY Young/ AllStar Raymond Pavlov (19-5, 2.65ERA, 217.1IP) is without question one of the best pitchers in the league and will need to be just as good this season for the team. Walt Hayes (14-8, 4.04ERA, 193.2IP) was the nice surprise for the team last year and the team would love to see it again this season. Gerald Wallace (9-8, 4.45ERA, 131.1IP), Artie Holmes and Carson Minor should fill out the rest of the starting rotation this season. AllStar Roger Newfield (2-3, 3.86ERA, 49SV) is one of the best closers in the game and tying the all-time save record last season made him jump in to that category but will need to stop so many blown saves this season. The pitching staff is one of the best in the league but the biggest question is what will the new ballpark have on the effect on the staff.
Projected Record – 95-67
Milwaukee Bucks (waydogg5)
The Bucks last season where called the Melders but no one in Milwaukee liked that name so the new owner changed it the Bucks. The Bucks last season had one of the biggest turn around for a franchise last going from 68 wins to 86 wins. I think last season the Bucks played a little above there skills as they either won big or lost big last season. I think that you will probably see a slight decline this season but I don’t think it will be as bad as going back into the 68 wins from two years ago. The team only lost Erik Adams (P) (6-8, 5.52ERA, 122.1IP), Del Friend (P) (3-3, 6.62ERA, 1SV) and Norm Kirk (1B) (.286, 16, 60). The team didn’t sign anyone from the free agent market. The team traded a minor leaguer to the Monterrey Stars for Lyle Taft (P) (1-5, 3.98ERA, 38SV).
Most of the offensive will remained from last season from a team that scored 5.48 runs per game last season. The thing with this offensive is that the team can hit the ball over the fence and run around the bases but there hitting is only average and do struggle with getting on base at times. Wesley Stanley (3B) (.281, 52, 123) is a player outside of Milwaukee that you hear very little about but after last years stats it’s going to be hard for Stanley to be an unknown this season. Julian Hartley (LF) (.275, 40, 104) makes a good one-two punch batting behind Stanley and this year should once again provide that kind of protection to the lineup. Returning players Mitchell Pickett (RF) (.275, 23, 91), Tomas Olivares (CF) (.273, 12, 60), Hi Stoops (2B) (.298, 14, 70), Felipe Alvarez (SS) (.268, 21, 61) and Chris Bellhorn (C) (.247, 20, 64) should be about the same kind of production from last season. Can this team provide enough players on base especially in front of there two power hitters or will they once again only have one player with over 100 runs this season?
The pitching staff is like the other teams in the National League North this season, looking for some young arms to fill spots in the rotation. The Bucks have a couple good arms in the rotation and I believe the best closer in the National League so there’s a lot of upswing with this staff. Ebenezer Canseco (17-13, 3.57ERA, 189IP) had no problem being the staff ace last season and really thrived in the role and the team is looking for him to repeat those numbers this season. Justin Scutaro (16-11, 4.69ERA, 3CG) was also a nice surprise for the team last year and this season should provide a good 1-2 punch in the top of the rotation. Elmer Archer (7-4, 4.08ERA, 1SV), Miguel Bautista (3-6, 5.13ERA, 98.1IP) and Raymond Walton (minor leagues) will battle it out for the remaining spots. Vernon Bolton (4-2, 1.24ERA, 42SV) proved why he is the best closer in the National League last season with only 1 blown save and an ERA just over one, you really can’t get any better then that. Beyond Canseco and Scutaro there’s a lot of big question marks about the rotation and until the team traded for Taft there where some question marks about who was going to get the team to the closer if the starters couldn’t go 8 innings every game.
Projected Record – 79-83
Friday, July 18, 2008
Fargo Woodchippers (calolson)