Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Season 13 Division Predictions: N.L. East

Kansas City
Kansas City Monarchs (NL)
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Season 12: 1st Place (91-61)
Season 13 Prediction: 1st Place

The Skinny:
I'm so boring - I always pick Neilcor and his band of Merrie Monarchs to win this division. I'm tired of it, but I see no reason for that to change this season. Kansas City did sign a couple new arms in Kevin Ma and Willis Anderson, however, it's the same cast of characters for the most part. Erick Hatcher should surpass 400 HRs this season and his young sidekick Geoffery Blair is off to a good start as well. 19-game winner Jim Aurilia would've had a Cy Young Award on his mantle last season if it weren't for Ned "Will you please just retire already" McInerney. Carmine Holmes hopes to find whatever it was he lost between seasons 11 & 12.

Breakout Performer: C/DH Juan Sosa (the only guy under the age of 60 on the ML roster).

Season 12: 2nd Place (85-77)
Season 13 Prediction: 2nd Place

The Skinny:
jmaese and the Metros headed upstate to Syracuse in the offseason and picked up a new nickname on the way. While the city and team name are new, the offensive firepower is familiar. Philip Ray and Russ Feller are back to lead this offense, but we definitely see the potential in 21-year old 2nd year man, Omar Flores. One of the best young arms in the league, Dennys Franco leads the pitching staff. Franco's strung a couple good seasons together and is starting to come into his own (3-0 this season). If Scott Everett can perform as he did last season, this team should be in the hunt for a wild card spot.

Breakout Performer: SP Jack Farrell

Season 12: 3rd Place (66-96)
Season 13 Prediction: 3rd Place

The Skinny:
Having not reached the 70-win plateau since season 8, the Old Style have accumulated some high draft picks and those players are starting to crack the starting lineup at the major league level. Rookies Ricardo Garces, Napoleon Conti and Jose Morlan are all off to pretty good starts and they've got the Chicago fans chirping. The pitching is lagging behind the hitting, but Darren Evert and Chico Rodriguez are both promising prospects and should win their share of ballgames.

Breakout Performer: 3B Ricardo Garces

Rochester North Stars (NL)
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Season 12: 4th Place (38-124)
Season 13 Prediction: 4th Place

The Skinny:
38 wins, the number of games Washington DC/Rochester won last season is not easy to swallow. It's also not difficult to surpass. This team's better than last season and may even be good enough to climb out of the cellar. 22-year old rookie Christian Hardy will join a couple elder statesman we all know and love in 38-year olds J.R. Barkley and J.P. McEnroe, in the starting rotation. Offensively, the North Stars are not quite at the level of the other teams in this division. They'll need big seasons out of free agent signees Andy Battle and Howie Curtis. Still, it looks like the team is headed in the right direction and they're now just 25 wins away from passing last season's total.

Breakout Performer: SP Christian Hardy

Season 13 Division Predictions: A.L. East

Norfolk Tobacco Farmers (AL)
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Season 12: 1st Place (95-67)
Season 13 Prediction: 1st Place

The Skinny:
Historically speaking, the A.L. East has always been one of the weaker divisions in the American League. Division winners typically needed around 85-89 wins to earn the pennant. In season 12 and now season 13, it appears that's starting to change. The Tobacco Farmers look like the team to beat again this season, after winning 95 games and advancing to the ALCS last season. winmyron has put together a great pitching staff that could compete with Jacksonville's as the best in the league. Damaso Lopez, Mark Parker and Nash Phillips were all very effective last year and that should continue in season 13. However, as good as the pitching is, the offense is better. Norfolk leads the A.L. in hitting so far this season by an astounding 14 pts (.304 team ba) over the nearest competitor. They've also scored 36 more runs than any other A.L. team. Lawrence Rhodes and Josias Johnson (.405 ba) have a lot to do with the early offensive success.

Breakout Performer: INF Andres Rodriguez

Season 12: 2nd Place (84-78)
Season 13 Prediction: 2nd Place

The Skinny:
The Blizzard have always relied heavily on pitching and that's largely in part due to 3-time Cy Young winner, Vitas Henley and their excellent bullpen. However, they've been missing quality starters at the end of their rotation for a few seasons now. This offseason, they signed Theo Roa and will also have Chuck Wilson for a full season to try to put some punch back in the rotation. The offense will be helped by the return of Chris Presley who missed the final 50+ games of season 12 with a hamstring tear. Junior Nunez will also see his role expand in season 13.

Breakout Performer: RP Travis Malone

Season 12: 3rd Place (74-88)
Season 13 Prediction: 3rd Place

The Skinny:
When you search "the real deal" in the HBD Forum, a photo of Bruce Payne is what you'll find. Bruce Payne's RBI and HR totals just keep climbing and climbing every season. And this season, he'll have some help from A.L. Rookie of the Year (yes, I'm already giving out the award) John Kim. This duo reminds me of that old A's tandem - the Bash Brothers - without the 'roids. The pitching staff is very good and very young. Once guys like Ismael Salinas and Herman Whiteside get some major league seasoning, this team may be the team to beat in the A.L. East in a few seasons.

Breakout Performer: LF John Kim

Season 12: 4th Place (71-91)
Season 13 Prediction: 4th Place

The Skinny:
Both Durham and Baltimore have been starting to get the pieces in place to change their fate and neither team is that far off, but I think Baltimore may be a little closer at this point. 24-year old Humberto Aguilera is a future all-star/Cy Young winner, while veteran Johan McInerney hopes to rebound from his 1st losing season in his career. Milt Leiter is also a valuable piece to the rotation. Offensively, Bart Kirby (614 career HRs) has given way to Omar Siqueiros (113 HRs in 2 seasons) and Lawrence Brown (424 career HRs).

Breakout Performer: SP Dennys Ratliff

Monday, June 22, 2009

Season 13 Division Predictions: N.L. West

Vancouver Fighting Skeletons (NL)
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Season 12: 3rd Place (74-88)
Season 13 Prediction: 1st Place

The Skinny:
Sometimes I look at a division and immediately know who is the team to beat. The N.L. North is not one of those divisions. The N.L. North appears to be a crapshoot. The Fighting Skeletons probably have the best pitching in the division. Al Ramirez is a proven starter and winner and 24-year old Earl Scheffer has all the makings of a very good #2 or #3 starter. The offense isn't the best in the division, but there's enough pop to stay afloat in the division. Vancouver will rely on Victor Vargas and Edgardo Pichardo to drive in the bulk of the runs here.

Breakout Performer: SP Earl Scheffer

Season 12: 4th Place (73-89)
Season 13 Prediction: 2nd Place

The Skinny:
The biggest change with this franchise was the relocation from Honolulu to Arizona, however, with that change is a renewed hope. Offensively, Norberto Oropesa is hoping to top 100 RBIs in his 2nd full season as he fell just short of that mark in his rookie campaign. The Wildcats are in need of a pure power hitter as Jesse Haney is the closest to it in this lineup, but he's currently on the DL. Victor Swindell is the ace on this pitching staff, but we think Del Johnson will eventually need to crack the rotation if Arizona wants to hang in this race.

Breakout Performer: RP Del Johnson

Season 12: 1st Place (89-73)
Season 13 Prediction: 3rd Place

The Skinny:
The angeldynasty won the division by a comfortable margin last season, however, their pitching staff is completely different in season 13. 3/5 of the rotation is elsewhere due to free agency and 14-game winner Willie Jose is out for the season with a torn labrum. That leaves 17-game winner Malachi Rogers and he's posting an 0-fer so far in season 13 (0-3 in 4 starts). Offensively, I think Carlos Barcelo is a future MVP in the making. He and Lou Combs should provide enough punch to keep Anaheim in the race.

Breakout Performer: SP Benny Sojo

Oakland Polish Hammers (NL)
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Season 12: 2nd Place (79-83)
Season 13 Prediction: 4th Place

The Skinny:
goodtymes31 has made it clear that he's building for the future, but until the Polish Hammers are able to move guys like Marc Wasdin and Norm Henry, this is still the best offense in the division. They don't necessarily have the best pitching in the division, but if Osvaldo Mantalban can get on track and Harry Cairo can continue to throw strikes, they have as good a shot as anybody.

Breakout Performer: 1B Ted Gonzales

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Season 13 Division Predictions: A.L. West

Portland Poltergeists (AL)
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Season 12: 1st Place (98-64)
Season 13 Prediction: 1st Place

The Skinny:
The A.L. West is looking like a 2-horse race between Portland and Colorado Springs and I'm giving the advantage to the Poltergeists. The offense is so powerful, Portland has the #2 and #3 all-time home run hitters in Kevin Mullins who currently stands at 566 and Charles Costello who has 544 career bombs. Not to mention, Felix Ellis will probably break 400 home runs this season and will easily surpass the 500 home run mark when all is said and done. Domingo Pizzaro and Paul Ishii lead this pitching staff, but it's Anthony Martin who's off to the best start (3-0).

Breakout Performer: RP Mac Sakamoto

Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs Mile High Marines (AL)
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Season 12: 2nd Place (90-72)
Season 13 Prediction: 2nd Place

The Skinny:
Much like Portland, Colorado Springs has no shortage of offensive power and it starts with the reigning A.L. MVP Alfredo Valentin. Valentin went off last season for 72 HRs and 197 RBIs. At just 25-years old, Valentin has already spent 7 seasons in the big leagues and he's approaching 300 career home runs. The Mile High Marines aren't all about offense though and they went out and traded for Harry Holzemer to shore up the pitching staff. With Holzemer and the steady Paulie Kolb, the Marines will definitely give Portland a run for the division title.

Breakout Performer: CF Eddie Price

Season 12: 3rd Place (77-85)
Season 13 Prediction: 3rd Place

The Skinny:
The Oles have a healthy offense as well, led by 24-year old Mitch Ledee and perennial all-star Harry Martinez, but what seems to be holding them back is the pitching depth. 150-game winner Malcolm Reese and Jack Fleming have struggled out of the gates, but both are quality starters. From there though, the staff tails off a bit although Ted Chiasson and company are still serviceable. Shane Matthews is proving to be the real deal at closer

Breakout Performer: RP Shane Matthews

Season 12: 4th Place (53-109)
Season 13 Prediction: 4th Place

The Skinny:
After winning just 53 games last season, it's no surprise that San Diego is rebuilding. 37-year old Harry Mateo may be a good trading piece for contenders as the trade deadline rolls around. The 3-time Cy Young winner still has a good arm and would like to get to 200 wins (currently at 174), but that's not likely to happen in San Diego. Offensively, Don Jerzembeck has driven in and scored at least 100 runs in each of his last 2 seasons, but he's off to a horrendous start (.195 ba) which is not good for a team that needs all the production they can get.

Breakout Performer: RP Travis Zentmeyer

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Season 13 Division Predictions: N.L. North

Season 12: 1st Place (95-67)
Season 13 Prediction: 1st Place

The Skinny:
Minnesota won the division by a comfortable margin last season and I expect the pennant to remain here in Minnesota in season 13. Don Yoshii pitched in an incredible 102 games last season and could very well be the team's most valuable player. What a great situation to be able to turn to a relief pitcher who threw 192 innings while winning 10 games and saving 8. Having said that, the offense is awesome and very young. 25-year oldBill Hewson had an RBI for every game in season 12 and I expect guys like 23-year old Roger Heath and 25-year oldMiguel Mateo to bust out in season 13.

Breakout Performer: SS Miguel Mateo

Season 12: 2nd Place (79-83)
Season 13 Prediction: 2nd Place

The Skinny:
Besides Minnesota, the other 3 teams in the NL North all finished within 5 games of each other and I had a hard time deciding where these teams should be placed, but I kept going back to New York due to their pitching. Pedro Cruz is a steady presence at the top of the rotation and has a 3.46 ERA in his 2+ big league seasons. Peter Suzuki continues to work out of the bullpen as the closer, but he'll be in the rotation before all is said and done, much like that other New York pitcher, Joba Chamberlain. Offensively, the team will be led by 24-year old 30/30 candidate, Matt Bryant.

Breakout Performer: OF Jimmy Womack

Season 12: 3rd Place (78-84)
Season 13 Prediction: 3rd Place

The Skinny:
Sherm Roberts has carried this team for a long time and he doesn't appear to be slowing down. The two-time MVP is coming off one of his best seasons batting .359 with 116 RBI and 133 runs scored in season 12. With the help of Cory Kennedy, this team should score a lot of runs which should be enough to keep them out of the basement in the division. The rotation isn't great, but we look forward to seeing 22-year old Jung-Lee Kyung in his first full season in the bigs. Kyung has great control and a nice fastball and should have a long career for the Titans.

Breakout Performer: CF Chet Wheeler

Season 12: 4th Place (74-88)
Season 13 Prediction: 4th Place

The Skinny:
Boise appears to be readying themselves for a run a few years down the line. They've got some great young arms in the rotation already such as 25-year old Chad Stevenson and 23-year old Gabe Roberts. Offensively, Greg Wolf needs to put up better numbers than he has recently for this team have a chance to contend. The Spuds have already suffered a tough break when 24-year old right fielder Allie Perkins tore a hamstring in spring training.

Breakout Performer: OF Bip Helton

Season 13 Division Predictions: A.L. North

Season 12: 3rd Place (84-78)
Season 13 Prediction: 1st Place

The Skinny:
Detroit finished just 6 games above .500 last season which was the fewest wins the Bad Seeds have ever had in a season in their history which is pretty impressive. With the acquisition of Rex Frederick, I like Detroit as the favorite in the A.L. North. The pitching staff is aging, but I think it's the best in the division. The offense will once again be led by Sammy Shumpert, but he'll get a bigger hand this season from 24-year old Goose Sveum.

Breakout Performer: C/DH Goose Sveum

Season 12: 4th Place (83-79)
Season 13 Prediction: 2nd Place

The Skinny:
There wasn't a lot of activity in Wichita in the offseason outside of a couple veteran free agent signings in Steve Burks and Cam DeRosa, but I like this squad with or without the added veterans. Look for Tony Galvez to be the offensive leader for the Wranglers. On the mound, Brent Meche is 24 wins shy of 200, but it'll be interesting to see if the 38-year old gets there as that will require he play at least one more season.

Breakout Performer: RP Lenny Wheeler

Season 12: 1st Place (102-60)
Season 13 Prediction: 3rd Place

The Skinny:
After a surprising and impressive run in season 12, tecwrg is loving that I have his Scranton Apollos finishing in 3rd place in season 13. The Apollos love playing under the radar, but it'll be hard to sneak up on anyone after winning 102 games last season. Regardless, I think the Apollos overachieved in season 12. Jesus Abreu and Danys Bravo combined for 30 wins last season and I don't think they'll duplicate that feat. The offense, led by Pat Masao and Dan King is still very good and will allow the pitching staff some room to make mistakes.

Breakout Performer: 1B/DH Leo Strong

Chicago Black Sox (AL)
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Season 12: 2nd Place (92-70)
Season 13 Prediction: 4th Place

The Skinny:
The Black Sox will have their work cut out for them this season after finishing 2nd the previous season. The best hitters for Chicago, Derek Taylor and Pedro Gonzales, don't have a lot of pop which may lead to a lack of run production for the Sox. The team ERA was in the top half of the league last year, but there isn't a lot of starting pitching depth behind newly-acquired ace, Alan Hitchcock. However, the bullpen has some very good arms which should provide some wins if the starters can leave them with the lead.

Breakout Performer: RP Jack Abercrombie

Monday, June 15, 2009

Season 13 Division Predictions: N.L. South

Season 12: 1st Place (102-60)
Season 13 Prediction: 1st Place

The Skinny:
Since we started with the Season 12 World Series winner's division, we'll move to the runner-up, Florida Lockdown's N.L. South division. It was a pretty quiet offseason for the Lockdown and that's understandable for a team that won 102 games last season. You don't need/want to do too much tinkering to a team that won 7 more games than any other team in the N.L. The ageless wonder, Ned McInerney, is back to lead the pitching staff and he's looking to become the 1st or 2nd pitcher in Mantle World history to reach the 200-win mark. McInerney is 4 wins behind Clay Runyan (they both won their openers this season) and they're both in excellent health and could pitch another season or two.

Breakout Performer: RP Clarence Shipley

Season 12: 4th Place (85-77)
Season 13 Prediction: 2nd Place

The Skinny:
The NL South was the best division in baseball in season 12 if you go by division wins (365) and the Texas Long Horns finished in 4th place with 85 wins last season. So, this offseason they did a smart thing. The Longhorns went shopping for pitching and brought in some solid veterans led by Gerald Krause and Joel Baldwin. Neither one has the stamina they used to have, but they will keep this team in ballgames.
The offense is absolutely loaded and it starts with Gary Blake who's 3rd all-time in career batting average at .338.

Breakout Performer: 2B Victor Ugueto

Season 12: T-2nd Place (89-73)
Season 13 Prediction: 3rd Place

The Skinny:
For Louisville to contend in this division, they're really going to need 24-year old Roland Fitzgerald to stay healthy. "Fitz" had a solid season 12 (.331, 39 HRs, 1.036 OPS) and he'll have to repeat those numbers to keep the Beaners in the playoff conversation. One thing is certain, if Louisville can get to the 9th inning with a lead, the opposition can start the bus. Joseph Yoshii, the most dominant closer in Mantle history, is just 7 saves away from surpasing Andy Scott as the all-time saves leader.

Breakout Performer: SP Matt Post

Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City Power Failure (NL)
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Season 12: T-2nd Place (89-73)
Season 13 Prediction: 4th Place

The Skinny:
Two things need to happen for Oklahoma City to contend: Mateo Estrada and Chico Pulido have to pitch like they did in season 11 (33 wins combined) and not like they did last season (15 wins combined); and Kip Sosa needs some offensive help (cue breakout performer Willis Bonilla). And let me give a shout out to 17-game winner Sammy Piedra. We'll be watching to see if Piedra can have that type of success again this season.

Breakout Performer: RF/1B Willis Bonilla

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Season 13 Division Predictions: A.L. South

Jacksonville Seminoles (AL)
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Season 12: 1st Place (89-73)
Season 13 Prediction: 1st Place

The Skinny:
mbooker's club finally won the coveted World Series championship last season so there's no better place to start the predictions than in Jacksonville.
The Seminoles return the great pitching staff that led them to their first championships and it seems like this core might be together for a couple more seasons as Ahmed Sanford is the only starter over the age of 30. Cesar Urbina should be an MVP candidate this season.

Breakout Performer: SP Rodney Hurst

Jackson Bootleggers (AL)
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Season 12: T-2nd Place (79-83)
Season 13 Prediction: 2nd Place

The Skinny:
We've been patiently waiting on the Bootleggers and think this might be the season they climb another rung on the ladder. Carmine Byrd and Sam Atchley are a great 1-2 punch on the hill and Todd Webster is a superb closer. If Pablo Ordonez can take his game to the next level and improve upon his OPS, Jackson might be a playoff contender.

Breakout Performer: SP Sam Atchley

Season 12: T-2nd Place (79-83)
Season 13 Prediction: 3rd Place

The Skinny:
Richmond is going to rely heavily on Sammy DaSilva to win games this season as the pitching staff is not very deep with the departures of Richmond stalwart Gerald Krause, JP McEnroe and Clay Runyan. The Generals offense will be led by building-block Marino Tejera, but it's pretty apparent that the Generals are looking to rebuild for the future. That could make Tejera trade-bait later in the season.

Breakout Performer: LF Marino Tejera

Charlotte Moose Hunters (AL)
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Season 12: 4th Place (56-106)
Season 13 Prediction: 4th Place

The Skinny:
After 3 straight seasons at the bottom of the division, the Moose Hunters should have a chance to climb out of the cellar this season. In order to do so, Charlotte is going to have to swing the bats better this season. There aren't any superstarts, but they've got a handful of pretty solid players including 25-year old Warren Gibson. 23-year old Juan Fernandez will lead the staff and hope to improve upon his 10 wins last season.

Breakout Performer: RP Goose Pickering

Monday, June 8, 2009

Tec's Useless Trivia . . . Updated!!!

Thought I would update this since two seasons have gone by since the first time I posted this. Here are cumulative standings for each division through Mantle World's first 12 seasons:

Detroit Bad Seeds11657790.5990
Wichita Wranglers11497950.59116
Chicago Black Sox11138310.57352
Scranton Apollos10389060.534127
Buffalo Blizzard10498950.5400
Norfolk Tobacco Farmers89010540.458159
Baltimore Blast86310810.444186
Durham Bulls85410900.439195
Richmond Generals10309140.5300
Jacksonville Seminoles91210320.469118
Jackson Bootleggers89010540.458140
Charlotte Moose Hunters86710770.446163
Portland Poltergeists11068380.5690
Salem Oles10339110.53173
Colorado Springs Mile High Marines9629820.495144
San Diego Seagulls73912050.380367
Minnesota Mighty Men10299150.5290
Trenton Titans10199250.52410
Boise Spuds10099350.51920
New York BullDog93510090.48194
Syracuse Sluggers92310210.4750
Kansas City Monarchs91310310.47010
Chicago Old Style85110930.43872
Rochester North Stars84011040.43283
Florida Lockdown12277170.6310
Texas Long Horns9929520.510235
Louisville Beaners94410000.486283
Oklahoma City Power Failure91010340.468317
Anaheim angeldynasty9829620.5050
Arizona Wildcats9669780.49716
Vancouver Fighting Skeletons9569880.49226
Oakland Polish Hammers94010040.48442

And if that's not enough trivia to digest at one sitting, lets also take a look at the post season history of each team in Mantle through it's first 12 seasons. The following lists number of division titles, number of wild card appearances, number of LCS titles, number of WS titles, and the number of different owners that each franchise has been managed by:

AL NorthDivWCLCSWSOwners
Detroit Bad Seeds65111
Wichita Wranglers28112
Chicago Black Sox23111
Scranton Apollos21001
Buffalo Blizzard90111
Norfolk Tobacco Farmers11005
Baltimore Blast10001
Durham Bulls10001
AL SouthDivWCLCSWSOwners
Richmond Generals51111
Jacksonville Seminoles21213
Jackson Bootleggers40111
Charlotte Moose Hunters10007
Portland Poltergeists81202
Salem Oles41211
Colorado Springs Mile High Marines02001
San Diego Seagulls00004
NL NorthDivWCLCSWSOwners
Minnesota Mighty Men42001
Trenton Titans33002
Boise Spuds52115
New York BullDog01003
Syracuse Sluggers31003
Kansas City Monarchs51204
Chicago Old Style10003
Rochester North Stars31008
NL SouthDivWCLCSWSOwners
Florida Lockdown102731
Texas Long Horns22003
Louisville Beaners03001
Oklahoma City Power Failure01005
Anaheim angeldynasty40102
Arizona Wildcats41003
Vancouver Fighting Skeletons14006
Oakland Polish Hammers30102