Tuesday, January 20, 2015

AL PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS

The AL Playoffs will be very entertaining this year.  The predictions show that both Wild Card team will come from the AL West division. Here are the predictions for the AL playoffs.


Divisional Round            Division Series         League Championship Series

# 4 Rochester        3            #1 Sante Fe   3
#5  Vancouver      1            #4 Rochester   2          #2 Santa Cruz   4

#3 Fargo              3           #2   Santa Cruz  3          #1  Sante Fe     2
#6 Arizona          2            #3   Fargo         1


The Santa Cruz Wild Cats will emerge as the AL Champs!

The NL Playoffs will be one for the ages.  First  2 teams with 88 or more wins will not make it to the playoffs. Minnesota  will make a quick exit in their first year  there.  Here are the predictions!

NL Playoffs Predictions

Divisional Round                   Division Series                    League Championship Series

#4 Minnesota   1                   #1 Jackson     3
#5 San Juan     3                   #5 San Juan    2                   #1 Jackson       3


#3 Seattle       3                  #2 Syracuse     3                     #2 Syracuse    4
#6 Texas        2                  #3  Seattle        1

Syracuse will repeat as NL Champs in a grueling 7 game (2 extra inning) series with Jackson.


Wold Series  will have Syracuse  trying to repeat against newly relocated Santa Cruz.



WORLD SERIES  PREDICTIONS!


#2  SYRACUSE                2
#2  SANTA CRUZ            4

SANTA CRUZ  rewards the fans with the World Series trophy.  carseneau brings home the  first title for himself.

NL WEST PREVIEW



The NL West  was won by Seattle last season.  They changed the team name from the Mariners to the  Boo-Yahs(in memory of the last...great Stuart Scott from ESPN)  . That alone has gained my utmost respect . I am a little bias toward bbwinksdaddy, as we both  are going through/ went through  various forms of Cancer. We have to stick together  :)  I do think Seattle will repeat as division champs this season. I think they will also  better the record of 92-70 they had last season. They will be tested at times from Salt Lake City, but that is just about all in the division. Scottsdale lost many key players this off season. Colorado Springs is still floating around in  the "mountain air" in Colorado. 


SEATTLE BOO-YAHS!


Seattle won the division last season. They did lose Bradley ( 40 HRS 113 RBI'S) to free agency. They also lost Halter ( 18 HRS 71 RBI'S) Espinoza (21 HRS RBI'S)  Terry (52 innings  3.02 ERA) and Slocumb (13-14 220 innings) last season. They managed to replaced the missing parts with  Cousins (21 HRS  55 RBI'S) Vizcaino (9 HRS 52 RBI's and very good defense) Takahashi (28 HRS 86 RBI'S)  and promoted stud prospect Patton ( 14-6 214 innings in AAA) . The team  still has Jackson ( 27 HRS 84 RBI'S)  Matos ( 33 HRS 89 RBI'S)  Merritt (14 HRS 61 RBI'S) Aquino 12-16 230 innings)  Estrella  ( 17-5  210 innings)  Wall ( 11-6 215 innings)   and Hernandez 5-6 37 for  41 in save chances. The starting rotation will continue to eat many innings. I think they will have another fine year.

PREDICTION    95-67  FIRST PLACE!


SALT LAKE CITY UTES

Salt Lake City is coming off a 83-79 season.  Last season they were lead by black ( 28 HRS  100 RBI'S)  Burke  ( 28 HRS 86 RBI'S)  Coleman ( 37 HRS 102 RBI'S)  Limon  (19 HRS 65 RBI'S)  Millwood  (41 HRS  97 RBI'S)  Pan ( 25 HRS 67 RBI'S) BOYD (11-13 243 innings) and Villa  19-9 215 innings) .Boyd had a sparkling ERA of 2.43 so he should have had a better record last season. With ample run support 20 wins is not out of reach for him this season. Baez was 29 for 32 in saves as well last season. He will remain a solid piece of the bullpen for Salt Lake City this season as well. They signed Ozuna  (28 HRS  91 RBI'S) I think the key addition this off season was Soriano (8-9 15 for 19 in saves)  He could be the closer, or a set up guys who pitches a ton of innings.  I almost for got Martinez 9 13-12 218 innings last season. They have a solid rotation that will keep the bullpen fresh.

PREDICTION   88-74 SECOND PLACE!


SCOTTSDALE SCHIZOIDS  

Scottsdale finished last season 78-84.  The Bourbon drinking, hooker pleasing  , flu fighting, over worked owner is back for another go around this season.  Scottsdale lost many key players to free agency this off season. They managed to sign a few pitchers off the rule 5 draft to help fill some holes. They lost Okajima (33 HRS 97 RBI'S)  Greenwood  (25 HRS  87 RBI'S ) Collins  (7-13  198 innings)  Krause  ( 3-2  48 innings)  Lawrence (4-5 79 innings)   Jefferies  ( 7-6  5 for 7 in saves 80 innings) and Rivera  ( 5-2 90 innings). They shocked the world by trading 5 time fireman of the year Yoshi (37 for 39 in saves). That right there is a big hole to fill. They still have  Gruber (11-7 184 innings) Schmidt  (10-11 198 innings) and Hughes (12-9 192 innings) They snatched Simon ( 5-2 4 for 5 in saves in AA)  Osuna  ( 3-1 73 innings in AAA) and  Ramirez 5-2 75 innings) in the rule 5 draft. The signing of defensive catcher Cervelli will help the pitching staff out.  I think they lost way too many key players to rebound  this season.

PREDICTION  75-87  THIRD PLACE!

COLORADO SPRINGS BANDITS

Colorado is coming off a 4th place 62-100 season.  They did manage to get some decent pieces in the off season. Uehara (11-2 95 innings)  Alomar  2-2 4 for 5 in saves in 25 innings) Olivares  ( 15 HRS 44 RBI'S  very good defense)  James (7-4 in 134 innings) Wainhouse  (9-5 154 innings) and Pedersen  (11-6 in 164 innings in AAA) . They also promoted Rauch  (24 HRS 89 RBI'S)  and traded for injury prone Early ( 9 HRS 44 RBI'S) . Early hits the cover off the ball when he is in the line up...The problem is the ball boy spends more time on the field than Early does. If he can stay healthy he could be a nice addition. Colorado Springs also trade Scott (17 HRS  50 RBI'S....already blew up his hamstring for the new team) They lost Brea (7-1 82 innings  ERA over 7)  Alomar (4-12  25 for 33 in saves)  and traded Almonte ( 28 HRS 89 RBI'S)  during the off season. The division is  not going to be nice to them this season. They will look good at times this season. All in all I see another fourth place finish again this season.


PREDICTION  66-96 FOURTH PLACE!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

NL SOUTH PREVIEW


The NL  South  is a very tough division. Jackson has been the top dog in the division for awhile now. They have won 6 straight division crowns. They won back to back titles in seasons 24 and 25. When you are a great team it is hard to say anything "negative" about them.  I think  the franchise is a little upset for only having 2 titles in the last 6  seasons. They continue to win over 100 games a season. I think the other teams get up to play them in the playoffs. Texas and Austin  will do no different this season either. In the end, I think the law of averages will be on Jackson's side again. 


JACKSON BLACK BEARS


Jackson is the 6 time reigning division champion. They have a solid team to say the least. There are only 2 players over 31 on the current squad. This means  it will be a long time before they are not in the mix in this division. Texas and Austin will be nipping at their heels.  They  made very few changes to the team this off season. They traded away Brantley (68 HRS 174 RBI'S and League MVP last season).They lost Price (18 HRS 79 RBI'S ) to free agency. Campos was promoted to the ML team...He hit 48 HRS and drove in 144 in AAA last season. The also got Green (26 HRS 79 RBI'S last season)and Pryce (20 HRS 61 RBI'S) in a trade this off season . Castilla (19-5) Suzuki (19-5)  and Butler  (7-2 23 for 30 in saves) will anchor the pitching  staff again this season.  The offense will be great again this season. Myette ( 33 HRS 100 RBI'S) and Proctor ( 41 HRS 126 RBI'S) will be mixed with Green and Campos. The opposing pitchers will not have a field day against them. 

PREDICTION  104-58  FIRST PLACE!


TEXAS LONE STARS

Texas was 97-65 last season. They did not make many changes to the squad. Texas  has only 4 players over 32 on the ML team. They are a balanced team that will contend again this season for the division. Texas may have lost the division crown last season but they got revenge in the playoffs. The knocked out Jackson 3 games to 0 in the divisional series. Torres (44 HRS 125 RBI'S) Morgan (38 HRS 84 RBI'S) Madson (27 HRS 93 RBI'S) King ( 25 HRS 76 RBI'S) and Bowie (28 HRS 83 RBI'S) anchor the offense again this season. The pitching staff will be  lead by Graves (19-5)  Simmons (14-10) Duran (14-11) Butler 911-11) and  Bowen 21 for 25 in saves. The team  will be solid and in it to the end again. A playoff berth of some kind should be a certain!


PREDICTION   98-64 SECOND PLACE


AUSTIN CITY LIMITS

Austin seems to get lost in the division at times. They are coming off a season where they  won 24 more games than the previous one. They only have 3 players over 33 on the ML roster. They are going to be a thorn in the side of Texas and Jackson again this season. They as well as the other 2 top teams in the division, did little to change their team. They lost Mota (2-2 72 innings) from the ML pitching staff. They added Hermansen (4-5  95 innings last season) They signed Hernandez (50 HRS 118 RBI'S last season) to bolster the offense. Hernandez will be along side of Brooks (25 HRS 71 RBI'S)  Castro (46 HRS 121 RBI'S) Gardel (50 HRS 105 RBI'S)  Jones (18 HRS 71 RBI'S)  Villano (37 HRS 111 RBI'S)  Realmuto  27 HRS 60 RBI'S ) and  Reed (32 HRS 82 RBI'S) . The pitching staff will be consisted of Espinosa ( 20 for 22 in saves) Lee (21 for 28  in saves) Aguilar (16-7  212 innings pitched) Person (14-9 207 innings pitched) and  Thompson (13-8 228 innings pitched). Austin will compete and stick around until the end. 

PREDICTION  94-68  THIRD PLACE!

TAMPA BAY RAYS

Tampa Bay was 70-92 last season.  They are the red headed step child of the division. Three teams  are competing  for the division title, and they are the ones getting beat up for them to do so. They traded Moore (39 HRS 105 RBI'S)  in the off season. Shave ( 14 HRS 65 RBI'S) left for free agency.  The offense consists of Bailes ( 16 HRS 83 RBI'S)  Bard (21 HRS 76 RBI'S) and Lorenzo (29 HRS 92 RBI'S). The pitching staff includes  Camacho (10-12 177 innings) Miller (9-12 167 innings) Vansuri ( 8-12 206 innings) and Erdos (6-10 33 for 44 in save chances). I have no choice but to think that they will be beat on again this season by the rest of the division.

PREDICTION   64-98 FOURTH PLACE!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

NL EAST PREVIEW


The NL East has become the Syracuse/San Juan show recently. San Juan  went from 57 wins to an astounding 98 last season. They did lose to Syracuse in the LCS 3 games to 2. This season will be no different between the 2 teams.  Both teams have great young talent mixed with veteran players under 32 years old. Both teams are built for the long haul. This will continue to be a 2 way battle for  the near future.

SYRACUSE  MOOSE

Syracuse are the defending champions. I  do not believe this season will be much different. They lost Borbon to free agency (17-8 last season). They traded away Takahashi( 26 HRS 86 RBI'S) and Yamamoto (34 HRS 119 RBI'S ) . With Ethier (17-9 180 innings) Bailey (43 for 52 in saves) the addition of Slocumb (13-14 220 innings) Gonzalez and Silva has 12 wins last season. Olmeda had 14 wins for the defending champs. Offense will not be a problem this year for Syracuse again. Allen had 27 HR'S 103 RBI'S , Shannon had 49 HRS 119 RBI'S Alcantra 64 RBI'S. They received Thomas in a trade 32 HRS 116 RBI'S in AAA last season. With Allen (27 HRS 103 RBI'S) Manzanillo (27 HRS 99 RBI'S in AAA) last season and Portugal (35 HRS 77 RBI'S in AAA) the offense will not be a problem. It will be a dog fight again this season against San Juan.

PREDICTION  101-61 FIRST PLACE!


SAN JUAN SANTURCE CRABBERS

San Juan  had an incredible 41 win  improvement last season from the previous one. The y had some great young talent mixed with some veterans.  San Juan will be nip and tuck with Syracuse again this season. Keough (202 hits 16 HRS 84 RBI'S) Chavez (29HRS 79 RBI'S)  Itou ( 12 HRS 66 RBI'S in 112 games) Gonzalez (14 HRS 67 RBI'S) and Hammonds ( 21 HRS 70 RBI'S ) anchor the line up. The pitching staff is lead by Carlos "Rubber Arm" Urena. Urena went 21-13 and pitched an amazing 278 innings last season. Sosa was 26 for 29 in saves last season. Beltran (12-5) and Shipley will help  Urena chew up the innings. San Juan is going to be around contending for the near future. 

PREDICTION 99-63 SECOND PLACE!


CINCINNATI RED LIGHT DISTRICT


Cincinnati  is coming off a 67-95 season. They lost Melendez (10-9 183 innings)  Campos 9-10 193 innings) Vizcaino 9 HRS 52 RBI'S and defensive ace)  They managed to sign some free agent to help the pitching staff this season. Suzuki (-1 5 for 6 in saves 85 innings last season) LeCroy  (5-7 133 innings last season) Wise (7-20 184 innings last season) and Strickland (9-9 212 innings last season). Torcato (21 HRS 52 RBI'S last season) Cepeda (38 HRS 81 RBI'S last season) and Halter (18 HRS 71 RBI'S last season) will anchor their line up.  Cepeda has been on the trade block more times than Winnie The Pooh  looked for honey.  Syracuse and San Juan are way too tough to over come this season. Cincy will win some games, but again end up in third place. 

PREDICTION  69-93  THIRD PLACE!

WICHITA WIND SIZZLERS

Wichita finished  49-113 last season.  They made some moves to improve this season.  They traded for super slugger Wang (62 HRS 156 RBI'S last season in Philly)  signed Ashley (24 HRS 76 RBI'S) They lost Almanza and Holland in a trade to Minnesota. They lost Yamamota and Mc Michael in other trades as well.  Sandoval will anchor the rotation this year (13-14 172 innings last season) Wichita will  be beaten like a pinata' again this season. They have some great prospects   in the system. I think this season will be the last they are in this position. They  are on the way up, but not this season.  Aguilera  13 HRS 53 RBI'S and Adams 18 HRS 42 RBI'S will help bridge the gap until the prospects arrive.   

PREDICTION   57-105 FOURTH PLACE!

NL NORTH PREVIEW




Minnesota(former Philadelphia) is a team that is very interesting. Not only did they move from Philly to Minnesota, but they again made some major moves to get in contention. The last 2 season in Philly, the team flopped at the end to miss the playoffs. The NL North is a division  that has been a coin flip the last 2 seasons. Madison was the Champ 2 seasons ago going 94-68. That season bough t the World Series crown home for them. Last season Madison dropped to 68-94. Milwaukee went from a wild card team at 84-78  to 70-92. Tacoma  went from missing the wild card by 2 games (82-80) to winning the division last season at 83-79. Philly (now Minnesota) went on  losing streaks each of the last 2 seasons at the end...missing the wild card  by 2 games 2 seasons ago (83-79) and losing the division title by 2 games last season (81-81). They are the only team in the division no to taste playoff experience the last 2 seasons. I have a feeling it may change this season. 


MINNESOTA FROZEN TWINKIES

After falling short the last 2 seasons the Minnesota Frozen Twinkies are ready to take it to the next level. They moved the franchise  to the Northern part of the United States. When I tell you why, you will scratch your head and wonder. The last 2 seasons they had a losing streak at the end of the season. I believe the long travel from the Northern Midwest/Northern part of the United States to the East Coast was the issue. Too many miles traveled for the division games. Moving the team to Minnesota  was the answer. Madison, Milwaukee and Tacoma is much closer to Minnesota than to Philadelphia.  Yes I have too much time to think of things like this :)

Minnesota  traded for Below (29 HR 103 RBI'S )  Canseco ( 29 HR 81 RBI'S) Moore ( 39  HR 105 RBI'S) James  (48 HR 154 RBI'S and MVP Honors)  Holland (14 HR 73 RBI'S in AAA) Almanza (26 HRS 64 RBI'S)  Morgan (speedy and defensive wizard) Goodwin (Pitch calling specialist) Enright( who may be the steal of the year) Franco (11-16 last season) Alomar, Rogers (DL all of last season) and Roque were all signed to help the horrible bullpen from last year. They did trade away Power Hitter Wang and future stud closer Ausmus. Sometimes  you have to do things like that to get the franchise going. The move to Minnesota will not hurt the power hitters too much. The addition of starting pitching, experienced bullpen help and much better hitters up and down the line up will put them over the top.

PREDICTION   87-75  FIRST PLACE!


TACOMA TOYOTAS

Tacoma is entering the season as  reigning division champs. They upgraded the rotation by adding Melendez to the staff. He was 10-8 last season with over 180 inning pitched. The newly signed Marmol will help bolster the bullpen. Delhanty was another pitcher signed to help the bullpen. Flaherty is getting more experience and poised to have a break out season as a solid starter. Greer, Pedro Lee and super stud Fausto Johnson anchor the line-up.  I do think Tacoma is certainly on the rise.....The only reason  they do not repeat as division champs is because I think Minnesota got a little more offense for them not to sneak past Tacoma this season. I do believe Tacoma  will be in it to the end . The ball park will make it hard for slugger to hit Homers......425 to CENTER...OUCH!

PREDICTION   85-77   SECOND PLACE!


MILWAUKEE  STURGEON

Milwaukee is coming off a 70-92 season. The season before they finished 84-78 and  made the playoff as a Wild Card. They have  added some good piece to this years team during the off season. They added Elcano(11-12) last season with 177 innings logged)  Rodriguez (7-4 121 innings) is also new to the team.  Cabrera needs to have a bounce back season (5-15 with an ERA of 5.67 last season). That was over 2 runs above his normal. The addition of Fuentes (31 for 34 in saves  2 seasons ago) and Duran (27 for 35 in saves) the bullpen is better as a whole. Okajima was signed as well. He had 33 HR'S and 97 RBI's last season.  He will provide some great power. Alongside Fernandez, Heilman and Ramirez  the line up will be very nice!  Coming off a 70 win season they will improve this season. I think they will be in the race for most of the season. They did lose Roque (31 HRS and 91 RBI'S) and pitcher Wainhouse (9-9 154 innings)

PREDICTION  80-82  THIRD PLACE!


MADISON MUSKELLUNGES

Madison went 68-94 last season. I think the franchise just had an "off" season. The season before they were World Series  champs.  The signed STUD   Jamie Bradley this off season to bolster the lineup. Bradley hit 40 HR'S and Drove in 113 last season for Seattle.  I am far from a genius, but playing 81 home games in Madison (rather than in Seattle) will do nothing but make Bradley a sure MVP candidate this season. Along with Magnante and Ensberg, the line up will score some major runs.  They also added Sanches (8-7 154 innings last season) and Torres (10-6 last season) to the pitching staff. Masato is ready to have a  breakout season as the young stud closer. Diaz is the anchor of the pitching staff. I do think  the team will miss Goodwin( great pitch caller, gold glove  winner) and Marquez (23 HR 73 RBI'S). I wish nothing but the best this season for the team and  for  owner (daddiothree) .  

PREDICTION   80-82  TIED FOR 3RD PLACE!

Friday, January 16, 2015

AL WEST PREVIEW


The AL West  was one of the toughest divisions in Wrigleyville last season. The last place team was 80-82. Well we have some surprising predictions for you this season. The whole division has gained and lost valuable players during the off season. 


SANTA CRUZ WILDCATS

Santa Cruz is fresh off the move from Cheyenne this season. The move and the added players will make this team a favorite to go from worst to first. Santa Cruz was not afraid to spend money in the off season. They acquired starting pitching in Borbon. He was 17-9 last season with 217 innings under his belt.  They also picked up Wilfredo who went 8-7 pitching over 160 innings as well.  Last season Coleman went 13-11 (216 innings) Haney 11-10 (182 innings) Limon 13-11(233 innings) and with the additions of Borbon and Wilfredo  it makes it even better.  The wild card in the bullpen will be Slick Allen. I think he is the sleeper at the end of the bullpen.  The offense got a HUGE boost in the signing of Guerra. Guerra hit 43 HR'S and drove in 116 last season. The team moved to an even friendlier pitchers park. That may hurt some of the offensive stats, but there are 81 games aways as well. With slugging catcher Maduro anchoring the rotation behind the plate (21 homers 68 RBI'S last season) Grover Robinson coming off his rookie season. Grover is a stud prospect with only one way to go (up up up). He hit 21 homers last season....and  would not be surprised to see 40 in a healthy season. Hartley is a defensive wizard to go along with hitting 18 homers and driving in 84 runs. Paulino hit 27 homers and drove in 79 runs as well last season. Jordan 22 homers 91 RBI'S and Ziegler 27 homer and 80 RBI'S round out the  lineup. All I can say is that the team move to Santa Cruz will not only bring joy to the city, but a division title as well.

PREDICTION   92-70  FIRST PLACE


VANCOUVER BLITZ

Vancouver won the division last season with a 94-68 record.  Vancouver is going to slug it out with Santa Cruz this season til the end. The offense is very good in Vancouver. Edwards hit 30 homers drove in 106 last season, Flores 41 homers 120 run batted in, Nakamura 29 homers and 103 runs batted in, Sanchez hit 26 homers drove in 88.  The offense will carry the team. You add Santana 31 homers 82 RBI'S, Sierra 24 homers 82 RBI'S and Webber's 26 homers and 86 RBI'S and you have a very high scoring team. They lost Strickland to free agency 9-9 with 200 innings pitched). They did sign Sojo and Wood to fill his shoes. Combined last season they went 17-16 with about 300 innings between them.   Santiago will again anchor the rotation (20-6 last season). He will have Gibbons, Amaro and Lopez behind him. Patrick was 19 for 23 in saves last season as the closer. I again repeat that it will come down to the last series of the season to decide the division.


PREDICTION  90-72 SECOND PLACE


ARIZONA COBRAS

Arizona finished last season with a 85-77 record. This seasons should be a little better I think. They did trade away 2 good players (Canseco and Below) to Minnesota. Combine they hit 58 homers and drove in 184 runs. They did manage to get Suarez in the deal for them. Suarez hit 38 homers and drove in 125 for Minn/Phl last season. English also hit 26 homers and drove in 107 for them last season. Morris hit 32 homers and Sugawara had 31 and drove in 89 himself.  They have some very good young pitcher on the team. Sierra (16-10) Perez (9-15)  and Wesson (12-12) all pitched well over 200 inning last season. If you add Balboa's 180 and Wood's 182 the bullpen was really  saved from over use. I think  Mariano Rivera  and Tavarez will be the key to the bullpen. They both are very durable and can pitch successive days. If they perform like they are able....Arizona will be tough to beat as well in the division.  


PREDICTION   88-74  THIRD PLACE!


SALEM SALMONBELLIES

Salem had a record last season of 89-73 record. I think the loss of some key players will hurt Salem this year. Salem's pitching staff is anchored by Al "Bull Dog" Benitez. Last season Benitez was 15-10 while throwing 212 innings. They also have Donatello who was 15-10 (206 innings) and Mariena who was 13-8(202 innings) as well. They lost Franco in a trade with Minnesota. Franco was 1--16 and threw almost 190 innings for them last season. The biggest loss will be on offense, where they traded away the MVP and Silver Slugging 1b  Ramiro James. James hit 48 homers and drove in 154 last season. That will be hard to replace.  Now we add the fact they lost Hernandez (50 homers 118 runs batted in) and Ozuna (28 homers and 91 runs batted in) as well.  The bullpen took a hit as well, as they lost set-up/closer  stud Soriano to free agency. He was only 8-9 and 15 for 19 in saves. His durability and  ability to eat up some innings will hurt them. I have nothing personal against Salem , but the loss of all that offense will hurt them a bunch. The Salmonbellies hopefully enjoyed their trip  to the playoffs last season. They did make it to the 2nd round, more than many other teams can say.

PREDICTION  80-82  FOURTH PLACE!

AL SOUTH PREVIEW


The AL South  is going to be a very interesting division again this season. Sante Fe looks to return to the World Series again this season. They came up short last season, falling 4 games to 1 to Syracuse.  With a gel of young talent and very solid veterans that could be the case again this season.  I am sure St.Louis, Charleston and Charlotte will not let them just cash in the ticket not just yet!


SANTE FE BLUES

Sante Fe is coming off a 101-61 season where they went to the World Series last season. They have a very nice young core of talent as well as veterans on the team. That being said, they did not lose anyone to free agency that could hurt them. The bad news for the rest of the division is that they signed some free agents to help them out even more. Greenwood hit 25 homers  drove in 87 and had an .399 OBP and .940 OPS last season. Rios hit 15 homers  and had 88 RBI'S  .408 OBP and a .923 OPS last season.  Barfield had 19 homers 85 RBI'S  .387 OBP   and a .907 OPS last season. Broxton had 32 homers  124 RBI'S  .379 OBP  and a .928 OPS.  Loretta 19 homers 85 RBI'S. Harris 21 homers 87 RBI'S   Neal has 19 homers 88 RBI'S  and Moses had 24 homer 82 RBI'S. The law of averages is that when you have men on base all the time they should score some runs. Last season they did, and this will be no different. Now we can not forget to mention the staff either. Gandarilla was 22-4 last season. That is the second 22-4 mark in the last 3 for him. I am sure his Sinker ball will be in rare form again this season. With Estrada and Walter eating up more than 200 innings a piece and Meredith at the end of the game(37 for 44 in saves) . The pen will be very good again this year. They also added Gamel, Burns and Roosevelt to finish out the bullpen. Burns could also be the closer there if they decide to go a different route. Meredith could be the set up man for him.   Anyway they will be top dog again in the AL SOUTH!


PREDICTION    104-58   FIRST PLACE!


ST.LOUIS SPIRITS

St. Louis is coming off a heat breaking season. They finished  87-75 and lost a wild card birth by finishing tied with New Britain. St.Louis made some moves this off season to  help them over come the same  fate this season. They signed Bonilla who is a great pitch caller for the rotation.  Foster, Jordan (19-7) Martin and Ventura all pitched close too or over 200 innings last season. If they repeat the performance it could be a another season where the pen in not over used. Mullen was also signed to the roster(probably for some added power). The only question is will they try a closer by committee as they seemed to do last season. With Stafford and Sorrento leading the offense again this season, they should score some runs . That being said I believe they continue the second place trend.


PREDICTION   85-77  SECOND PLACE!



CHARLESTON TOBACCO FARMERS


Charleston is coming off a season where they just missed the last wild card spot. They finished 86-76 and  just missed the ticket to the playoffs.  Charleston made  some moves in the off season to  make  sure that does not happen this season. They lost Gabriel( 9 homers 63 RBI'S) Rodriguez (7-4) Kipling ( very good defensive player) and Green(trade) from last years roster. They did manage to get Brantley in a trade (68 HR 174 RBI'S last season). Brantley was the NL MVP  last season. They promoted Catching prospect Duffy to the ML. He had 20 HR 86 RBI'S in AAA last season. They signed Guzman  and Wood  to help them out on the defensive side of the field.  They got Barrett (P) in a trade from Minnesota. Barrett was 8-8 last season for Minn/Phl. He has the potential to be a solid starter who eats some innings.... With the addition of Reimold ( who could be really decent if he stays healthy) Charleston is poised to better themselves this season. The problem is they are in the same division as Sante Fe.  I see them fighting for a wild card spot until the end of the season. 

PREDICTION  83-79   THIRD PLACE!


CHARLOTTE SOMETIMES

Charlotte finished last season 72-90. It is not clear what the intentions are this season.  They traded for Almonte  (offensive catcher).  They signed  Wang, Wood, Larish and Nathan for the pitching staff.  They seem to be 'fillers or Journeymen". They still have Hudson anchoring the bullpen(39 for 40 in saves last season).  Glynn, Tolar and Winn all ate  up more than 200 innings last season. I believe this is the reason for the 'fillers' signings. They could help eat the remainder of the innings that LeCroy and Fernandez did last season. Both of them left  for free agency this off season. In the division Charlotte seems like the kid you always want to beat up at school. They don't do anything wrong, but they are just there. I see them finishing at the bottom again this season. Baez and Owen lead an offense where 11 players were in double digits in homers last season. The problem is that with only Owen and Baez driving in over 75, runs will be hard to come by. 


PREDICTION   66-96  FOURTH PLACE!