Monday, September 15, 2008

A.L. West Division Predictions

Portland Poltergeists (AL)
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Season 9: 1st Place (102-60)
Season 10 Prediction: 1st Place

The Skinny:
The Poltergeists are simply loaded. There's no reason to believe anyone else in the division has done enough in the offseason to compete for 1st place. The offense is led by 5-time Most Valuable Player, Kevin Mullins. Not only has Mullins won the MVP 5 times, but he's won it the last 5 seasons while averaging 61 HR's, 164 RBI's and 125 runs scored a season during his MVP stretch! Now that's incredible! Oh, and he's not alone. Felix Ellis, Greg Wolf, Damaso Rojas and Lawrence Rhodes all drove in over 90 runs last season. Now, while I believe there are better pitching staffs in the league as a whole, the combination of offense and pitching in Portland is as good as anyone else's. Proof positive is 2-time Cy Young winner Domingo Pizzaro who went 24-2 last year which could be the best record by a pitcher we've ever seen in Mantle World. I could go on and talk about closer Nick Smith or 14-game winner Anthony Martin, but I'm frankly tired of talking about Portland.

Season 9: 2nd Place (88-74)
Season 10 Prediction: 2nd Place

The Skinny:
I'd love to see a Battle Royale between the top 3 teams in the A.L. West and the top 3 teams in the A.L. North. Any one of the six could come out the winner on any given day. I'm sticking with Salem in the number 2 spot here simply because I give their pitching an edge over Colorado Springs. Offensively, I give the Marines an edge, but as they say, pitching wins championships. Malcolm Reese returns to lead this staff and Harry Cruz was a nice addition from the Rule 5 Draft, but I think the key to this team's postseason chances could be the performance of Walter Lewis. Lewis has won at least 10 games in each of the last 6 seasons, but he hasn't had a breakout season and has even been relegated to the bullpen at times. I think this could be the year for Lewis to win 15-16 games and get this team to 90 wins. The offense has a good mix of veterans and youth, but pretty soon Salem we'll need to see more youth like Rich Bagley and less veterans such as 35-year old Quentin Keller.

Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs Mile High Marines (AL)
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Season 9: 3rd Place (85-77)
Season 10 Prediction: 3rd Place

The Skinny:
The Mile High Marines are one of those teams that's on the verge of greatness. There's a lot of young talent on this roster so while I'm predicting 3rd place this season, Salem and Portland better watch their backs. If some of these arbitration guys like Alfredo Valentin, John Blake Joey McClain and Midre Bonilla get locked up to long-term deals, Colorado Springs could have a bright future in this division. Howie Curtis and Lucas Nelson just hope they're still around to enjoy it.

Season 9: 4th Place (60-102)
Season 10 Prediction: 4th Place

The Skinny:
Much like the Charlotte franchise, this team needs a little TLC and some more of what I like to call "pieces parts". The Ligers will once again rely on Jesse Haney and Michael Nathan to carry the offense, and I also like the addition of veteran free agent Alan Crosby who still swings the bat very well. From a pitching perspective, Scott Everett is the ace of the staff and Miguel Mateo is a steady arm out of the bullpen. Colorado just needs to be patient and accumulate as many high draft picks as possible and be on the lookout for any international talent that may help get the ship righted.

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