Tuesday, September 16, 2008

N.L. North Division Predictions

Season 9: 1st Place (97-65)
Season 10 Prediction: 1st Place

The Skinny:
I spent more time trying to figure out who was going to win this division than any other division I've predicted so far. It's a close call between Minnesota, Rochester and Trenton, but I'm going with the safe bet picking last year's 1st place finisher.
I think the Mighty Men have the deepest pitching staff out of the 3 teams. Minnesota has a couple guys in the bullpen that can easily step in and start if anyone in the rotation gets injured. Guys like Hector Herrera, Octavio Tavarez and Junior Valentin are all capable starters coming out of the bullpen. That could be a big factor as the season wears on. The offense isn't spectacular, but I expect J.J. Taylor to have a big year now that he has a full season under his belt. Domingo Navarro and Pedro Franco will also carry this team at certain points of the season.

Season 9: 3rd Place (66-96)
Season 10 Prediction: 2nd Place

The Skinny:
The Rockets definitely made an effort to get better this offseason and I think they did. Rochester signed free agentsLyle Quinn, Dann McIntyre and Mark Dong in the offseason. McIntyre's a steady pitcher who will be a positive addition to the rotation. They also promoted Peter Suzuki who was the NL AAA Rookie of the Year last year after going 17-5 with a 3.11 ERA. Suzuki's only 21 so he may struggle out of the gate, but he should also be a great addition to the rotation. Offensively, it may finally be time for Walter Bailey to have his breakout season. It seems like Bailey's spent more time on the trade block than any other player and he hasn't put up numbers like I'd expect, but he still only 24 years old. This could be the campaign when he finally puts it all together.

Season 9: 2nd Place (84-78)
Season 10 Prediction: 3rd Place

The Skinny:

Trenton added Andrew Dye to a bullpen which is already pretty good with relievers Orlando Ordaz and Enrique Lee so opponents will need to score runs early if they expect to win. And that's the main reason I think Trenton will slide down a spot in the standings - the rotation lacks a true ace although I think Cristian Torres could be that guy. However, when you have 2-time MVP Sherm Roberts leading the offense, maybe you don't need as much help from the pitching staff as one might think. Roberts and Cam DeRosa are a pretty impressive tandem and add Woody McPherson (once he comes off the DL) and the Titans should put up a lot of runs to compensate for the rotation.

Sioux Falls
Sioux Falls Canaries (NL)
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Season 9: 4th Place (65-97)
Season 10: Prediction: 4th Place

The Skinny:
Say goodbye to Cleveland (and that horrible name "Mistakes By The Lake") and say hello to the Sioux Falls Canaries. While the team name is much better, the team probably won't be just yet, but it's not for a lack of effort. The Canaries did more in the offseason than any other team in the division and that should make them a little more competitive, but it won't be enough to move up in the standings this season. The Canaries signed Tommy Valdes away from Durham in the offseason and also hit the Rule 5 Draft hard and scoured the Waiver Wire looking for talent. Sioux Falls nabbed Bob Lemon in the draft and grabbed Paul Kim, Felipe Torrealba and Zachrey Sewell of the wire. They also acquired Angel Ordaz from Burlington via trade. Since all these additions are pitchers, it's probably safe to say Sioux Falls will be looking for offensive help as the season progresses.

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