Thursday, June 19, 2008

Season 4: AL Preview

AL North

Chicago White Sox (64-98 Season 3)
Coming off a tough season last year it looks like another long summer on the south side. But all is not lost Sox fans with young offensive stars like Delanor Hemingway and Davey Morales the future is looking up. There are several top prospects that will be arriving in the next 2-3 yrs that will allow Chicago to compete with the leagues elite teams so patience from management and fans alike will be necessary.

Top Prospects:
1B Benji O’Keefe (AA), 2B Andy Kelly (Lo-A), 2B Quilvio Rosario (AA), LF Timothy Jackson (AA), SP Gary Brinkley (AA), SP Kane Delaney (Hi-A)

Prediction: 70-92

Detroit Tigers (63-99)
The Tigers seem to have enough offensive firepower with the likes of Max Beech & PT Oliva, the big question is whether Greg Higginson & FA pickup Hugh Purcell can anchor a thin pitching staff. If the pitching holds up enough to allow the bats to do their thing Detroit will escape the basement.

Top Prospects:
SS Henry Fisher (AAA), SS Phil Hunter (Hi-A)

Prediction: 68-94

Minnesota Twin (100-62)
A fine selection of arms is the strength of this teams championship dreams. Led by Chris Nen & Clay Bellhorn the Twins staff looks loaded. The offense on the other hand is waiting for the arrival of some of their top prospects before they will be on the same level as their pitching staff. They should have enough to take the division, however a deep run in the playoffs is unlikely at this time.

Top Prospects:
2B Donne Harper (AAA), SS Virgil Mendoza (AAA), SS Ed Wheat (AAA), DH Donn Stafford (Lo-A), SP Gabby Martin (AAA), SP Tommy McIntyre (AAA), SP Emmanuel Montero

Prediction: 92-70

Toronto Blue Jays (97-65)
The Blue Jays are another team that will go as far as their pitching will take them. Sandy Brooks & Timothy Truby are part of a strong rotation and Todd Wood & Gerald Funaki are part of a deep bullpen. This team will need to find some more firepower to help their pitchers if they would like to make another playoff run.

Top Prospects:
LF William Hollins (AAA), SP Eddie Foxx (Hi-A), SP Ross Lamb (Hi-A)

Prediction: 75-87

AL East

Baltimore Orioles (88-74 Season 3)
Having assembled a team that includes the bats of Taylor Mullin, Neifi Martin, Harry Price and the strong arms of Mikey Finnessey, Rafael Mateo, Pascual Gonzalez the Orioles are well balanced and ready for a deep run in the playoffs. It will be no comfort to the rest of the league that a large portion of the ML roster is filled with young players and there are more prospects in the minors that will only aid to keep Baltimore on top for a long time.

Top Prospects:
C Del Bale (AAA), 1B Spud Nielsen (Hi-A), SS Wayne Young (Hi-A), LF Joe Nakano (AAA), SP Charlie Bailey (AAA)

Prediction: 94-68

Boston Red Sox (93-69)
Pitcher Hal Menechino & centerfielder Mike Fasano are two of the few young stars on this very veteran team. The remaining players on the ML roster are mostly over 30 so if the Red Sox want to make a run at a championship it must be done now. With few top prospects in the minors it is time for Boston to start working on getting replacements in place very soon.

Top Prospects:
C Jude Daniels (Lo-A), 2B Rudy Hernandez (Hi-A), 2B Trent Reid (Hi-A), SS Omar Pineda (AA), RP Lew Brower (Lo-A)

Prediction: 86-76

Cleveland Indians (94-68)
Trevor Corsi (LF) & Cesar Carrasquel (SP) lead a team that surprised some by winning the division. However it will be tough for a repeat with the team as it stands now. There is some talented young players almost ready to compete for a ML job but this season appears to be more of a transitional year.

Top Prospects:
C Dude Robinson (AAA), SS Norberto Prieto (AA), SS Miguel Ramirez (AAA), LF Dennis Grimsley (AAA), LF Francisco Marin (AA), SP William Malloy (AAA), RP Ross Heredia (AAA)

Prediction: 84-78

New York Yankees (56-106)
Last years record was indicative of the talent level in the Bronx. Don Satou while a productive .300 hitter hamstrung this team with his $20 mil/yr contract. Next year the organization will have the ability to go after some top talent to help supplement the players that management chooses to keep during the rebuild of this downtrodden franchise. This years Rule 5 draft brought in Andy Junge (CF) & Abraham Sutton (2B) to a team in need of more talent.

Top Prospect:
C Blake Krause (AA), 2B BJ Stearns (AA), LF Derrick Saturria (AAA), SP Orlando Ramos (AAA)

Prediction: 65-97

AL South

Kansas City Royals (78-84 Season 3)
Sluggers Stew Hanson (3B) & Hiram Bang (RF) lead this team’s offense which should be very potent. The big question mark is the starting pitching. While the bullpen was addressed this off season it appears management is waiting for their pitching prospects to strengthen the rotation. Though the Royals won the division last year their record was nothing to be proud of and more pitching will be needed if they are able to make the playoffs again.

Top Prospects:
C David Kim (AAA), 2B Johnny Rowan (AAA), SS Jerry Moore (Lo-A), CF Brian Zhou (AAA), RF Fred Leary (AAA), SP Lawrence Schmidt (AAA)

Prediction: 85-77

Nashville Sounds (63-99)
The Sounds struggled last year and just missed losing 100 games. Big time bats like AJ Hemingway (DH) & Damaso Cordero (3B) should be able to keep the offense chugging along. However this is another team that needs to upgrade its pitching staff to be able to have realistic title hopes.

Top Prospects:
C Lou Fisher (Hi-A), 2B Tyler Servais (AA), RP Bucky Malone (AAA), RP D’Angelo Gongora (AAA)

Prediction: 68-94

Tampa Bay Devil Rays (73-89)
Management opened their wallets to bring in FA’s Pep Salmon (CF), Carmine McGee (RF) & 15 million dollar man Neil Torres. These three vets bring talent and experience to a team that needed both, the question is will it be enough to get to the playoffs. The pitching staff and offense both need further upgrades to be serious threats in the playoffs but they should have enough talent to battle for the title in the AL's weakest division.

Top Prospects:
1B Fernando Izquierdo (AA), SS Brian Pong (AA), RF Willis Howell (Hi-A)

Prediction: 82-80

Texas Rangers (72-90)
Following their division mates, the Rangers are in need of improved pitching and the lack of it will be a problem all year. The bats of Abdullah Daniels (LF) and newly acquired Richard Owens (CF) will keep the team on the score board. The question is who will they put on the mound to stop the other team from doing the same.

Top Prospects:
1B Bob Aldridge (AAA), 2B Fernando Rivera (AA), SS Deivi Guerrero (AAA), LF JD Stern (AAA), LF Luke Brock (Hi-A)

Prediction: 72-90

AL West

Anaheim Angels (87-75 Season 3)
While not deep in offensive talent the Angels do have Roger Byrnes (3B), Glenn Norton (SS), Erubiel Santiago (SS) & Jesus Otanez (CF) to torment opposing pitchers. Add to that starters Dennis Sirotka, Roy Whitaker and relievers Joshua Mays and Sarma Nagy on the hill to again make Anaheim a very dangerous team. Anaheim has the talent to again make the playoffs and it would be surprising if they didn't.

Top Prospects:
SS Cap Turner (RL), DH Kelvin Graves (Hi-A), RP Dustan Brocail (AAA)

Prediction: 90-72

Arizona Diamondbacks (78-84)
Dickie Scharein (2B), Bruce Myers (SS) & Omar Navarro (DH) will be beating on opponents pitching all season long. Brian Averill & Jerry York have the goods to mow down opponents consistently. Will this be enough weapons and will can the rest of the roster step up to help out enough to push them into the playoff hunt. While the answer this season may be no there is additional talent in the farm system that should put this team in the thick of it in the near future

Top Prospects:
C Benj Recchio (AA), 2B Derrin Davenport (AA), 2B Steve Weaver (Hi-A), LF Carl Robertson (AA), SP Nolan Foster (AA)

Prediction: 76-86

Oakland Athletics (107-55)
Offensive talent throughout the lineup makes it easy to understand how the A’s put up such a gaudy win total last year. Turk Weaver (2B) & Terry Hefner (RF) swing two of the biggest bats on the team. Unfortunately for their opponents they are equally talented on the mound. Starters Steve Kennedy, Willie Segui and relievers Lance Wolf, Albert Mota headline a staff that can shut down even the most dangerous offenses. If this isn’t bad enough news for their rivals then the fact that they have more talent on the way up the minor league ladder should cause more sleepless nights for the other teams in the league.

Top Prospects:
1B Bud Hogan (AAA), 2B Herb Elarton (AAA), SS Jeff Zambrano (AAA), Ronald Traynor (AA), RF Roosevelt Thomas (AA), SP Fernando Rosado (AAA), RP Fonzie Wayne (AA), RP Sid Crabtree (AAA)

Prediction: 105-57

Seattle Mariners (92-70)
This team has decent offensive capabilities however other than Luis Escobar (DH) it is lacking the power that most of the top teams have. Rob Goldberg (CF) & Rafael Mondesi (RF) are speed burners and must use it to help create some runs to compensate for the power shortage. Arms like Pat Garland & Kyle Powell will be able to keep the other teams offense stuck in neutral, so on most nights it won’t be necessary for the Mariners to score a lot of runs. With the A’s in the same division the Mariners realistically only hope for a wild card spot.

Top Prospects:
2B Alex Julio (AA), 2B Richie Wade (AA), SS Erik Thompson (Hi-A), CF Wiki Uribe (AA), RF Cooper Sedlacek (AAA), RF Marvin Walton (AAA), SP Mike DeJean (AAA), RF Vladimir Rijo (AAA), RP Antonio Martin (AAA)

Prediction: 90-72

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