Saturday, June 21, 2008

Season 4: NL Review

Preseason Review:

NL North

Chicago Cubs (97-65 Season 3)
Stars Cory Sherman (C), Victor Solano (3B), Julio Chavez (LF) provide the big bats for the Cubs offense. On the pitching side Torii Baker, Cesar Gil & Octavio Bolivar will set the tone. The Cubs should be able to hold on to the division again this year but with age starting to become a factor younger talent will need to be brought in if they would like to continue their reign

Top Prospects:
SS Jacque Cornelius (AAA), SS Oleg Little (Hi-A), LF Rico Baez (AA), RP Winston Richardson (Hi-A)

Prediction: 95-67

Cincinnati Reds (87-75)
Outfielders Carl Rhodes, Brad Johnson & Tracy Owens lead the offense for the Reds. The thin pitching staff is lead by starters Stubby LaRoche & Vin Navarre. Age and a lack of depth will hurt Cincy’s chances of matching last year’s record. With few top prospects ready to make the leap to the show it is imperative that this team begin to stock the farm teams to keep the team from falling into the basement.

Top Prospects:
2B Wes Wagner (Hi-A), SP Chad Martin (Hi-A), RP Blake Denny (AA)

Prediction: 78-84

Milwaukee Brewers (71-91)
Justin Cash (C) & Kevin Vaughn (SP) are the stars of this team in transition. With most of the organizations talent still in the minors this will be a long season in Brew Town. Fortunately there are several quality prospects in the minors so the talent level should begin to rise as soon as management decides the they are ready for the show.

Top Prospects:
2B Miguel Javier (Lo-A), 3B Duke Swindell (AAA), SS Enrique Lopez (Hi-A), LF Bernard Harvey (AAA), SP Roger Radmanovich (AA)

Prediction: 65-97

Montreal Expos (82-80)
Solid players throughout the roster will keep the Expos competitive; however the lack of any standouts at the ML level will keep things somber north of the border. Competent performers like Rico Rosa (2B) & Kent Davey (RF) will lead the offense, as arms such as Henry Tracy & David Vincente will try to hold other teams in check.

Top Prospects:
2B Napoleon McGee (Hi-A), 3B Don Yamamoto (RL),

Prediction: 72-90

NL East

New York Mets (95-67 Season 3)
Having hung on to take the division crown last year the Mets hope this year will be even better. Alexander Springer (1B) & Miquel Lima (RF) lead the attack, as Calvin Hyun (SP) & Earl Simmons (RP) lead the hurlers. Unfortunately it appears the improvement of the other teams in the division will make the New Yorkers fight it out for a wildcard berth.

Top Prospects:
C Cookie Paige (Hi-A), SS Willie Fernandez (Hi-A), SS Christopher Vaughn (AA), SP Arlie Gant (AA), SP Peter James (AA), SP Merv Stuart (Hi-A), RP Gus Rivera (AAA)

Prediction: 92-70

Philadelphia Phillies (81-81)
The big bats of Bernie Wells (1B) & Jay Black (RF) will terrorize opposing pitching again this year, while pitchers Vic Nitkowski & Raul Gonzalez try to tame the other team’s bats. The Phil’s have few quality prospects so the current ML team needs to step up and take them to the promised land. The lack of enough talent will keep the Phil's on the sideline during playoff time and unless management dives into the free agent pool it will not change anytime soon.

Top Prospects:
SS Dave Chouinard (AAA), SS Sammy Pulido (AAA), SP Nerio Breen (AAA)

Prediction: 82-78

Pittsburgh Pirates (93-69)
Standout performers Tony Martin (CF), Rolando Diaz (2B), Lou Blair (SS), Alfredo Guerrero (SP) & Martin Lyon (RP) make the Pirates a very dangerous team. While they fell short last year this should be their year to capture the division. This is another team that needs to take advantage of their window of opportunity with a lean crop of prospects in their system.

Top Prospects:
C Eric Waddell (AAA), 1B Rey Barr (Lo-A), SP Sam Risley (Lo-A), RP Davey Pena (Hi-A)

Prediction: 95-67

Washington D.C. Nationals (75-87)
Setting the tone for the offense will be Miller Locke (1B) & D’Angelo DeLeon (CF), doing the same on the bump are hurlers Albert Ontiveros (SP), Dave Rizzo (SP) & Hector Trevino (RP). The Nat’s are almost ready to contend and it appears that a few of the missing pieces to this puzzle are in the minors hoping to join the team in the near future.

Top Prospect:
2B Tomas Pascual (AA), SS Enrique Rodriguez (Hi-A), SP Nash McNamara (AA), SP Stewart Winn (AAA), RP Herman Mahler (Lo-A)

Prediction: 78-84

NL South

Atlanta Braves (108-54 Season 3)
The two Miguel’s, Ramirez & Martin, are wielding potent bats for the Braves. Rickey Brooks and a strong bullpen will try to repeat last year’s performance as Atlanta attempts to bring home another World Series Trophy. Matching last year's 108 victory total will be a tall task but the other teams are still building so it's a foregone conclusion that Atlanta will be one of the playoff teams in the NL.

Top Prospects:
DH Andrea Baxter (Hi-A), LF Erik Buckley (AAA), RP Elroy Benson (AAA)

Prediction: 96-66

Florida Marlins (65-97)
With young bats like Seth Davis (3B), Albert Leonard (CF) & Cyrus Manning (RF) the future is bright in South Florida. However starters Victor Solano & Alvin Young need more help to get the pitching up to the same level as the offense. The minors have been depleted as most of the talent is now on the ML roster so new players will need to be brought into the organization to fill any holes the team may have.

Top Prospects:
RP Chad Sanders (AAA), RP Denny Sullivan (AA)

Prediction: 74-88

Houston Astros (65-97)
Ryan Stahl (C), Hugh Clark (CF) & Billy Hutch (RF) are all young talented and now playing in the majors. These youngsters along with pitchers Hick Hogan & Tomas Vasquez will form a strong nucleus for the Astros as they build for the future. A few more top prospects are knocking on the door and should be allowed to play with the big boys very soon.

Top Prospects:
2B Willie Luebbers (AAA), SP Derek Rando (AAA), RP John Mateo (AA), RP Everett Dale (AA)

Prediction: 72-90

St. Louis Cardinals (34-128)
The abysmal record of last year is now in the past. Talented offensive contributors like Brian Morris (3B) & Miguel Lopez (SS) fill the lineup and should allow the team to put up some big numbers. The pitching staff led by Felipe Borbon (SP) & Carl Ashley will need some more help before they can keep the opposition under control and it looks like some of this talent will come from the minors. Even with several top prospects this team has room and a need for a infusion of more quality players.

Top Prospects:
CF Julian Brogna (AAA), CF Alex Solano (AA), SP Branch Cepicky (AA), SP Bobby Ray Dixon (Hi-A), SP Vernon Eckstein (AA), RP Virgil Morales (Hi-A)

Prediction: 68-94

NL West

Colorado Rockies (85-77 Season 3)
As you would expect in the Mile High Altitude the ball will be flying all over the park. Pitchers with out strong constitutions will be squeamish when forced to face this offensive juggernaut. Nigel Shibata (1B) freed from the hitter’s nightmare of Petco Park should thrive in his new surroundings with the help of players such as Nigel Black (LF). Pitching will be a concern with half their games being played in Coors Canaveral’s launching pad. If the starters can give the Rockies 5-6 strong innings their strong bullpen should be able to bring the team home. It looks like a two team fight for the division as San Diego appears vulnerable.

Top Prospects:
1B Miguel DeJesus (AA), SS Pepe Guerrero (AA), SP Cecil Stephens (Hi-A), RP Andy Palmer (AAA)

Prediction: 86-76

Los Angeles Dodgers (84-78)
The LA roster has been constantly changing as new management revamps the team to better suit their desired style of play. Offense should not be a problem with hitters like Myron McDonald (2B) & Shane Hardy (3B) on board however the lack of power will mean the Dodgers will need to manufacture runs and hope their pitchers can pick them up when need be. This year the team will take a step back as they are molded into shape by management with hopes that the future will bring playoff berths.

Top Prospects:
2B Brandon Simmons (AAA), LF Al Nathan (AAA), RP Sean Jenkins (AA), RP Al Jose (RL)

Prediction: 70-92

San Diego Padres (95-67)
Long ball hitters struggle in Petco but this doesn't scared the big bats of Giomar Lugo (2B) & Roberto Miranda (RF). As hitters run from San Diego, pitchers can’t wait to take the mound. The leaders of the staff will most likely be Fergie McLemore (SP) & Billy Morris (RP). The Padres are again the favorites to win the division but with the improvements Colorado has made it should be a fight to the finish.

Top Prospects:
3B Kenny Melfi (AAA), 3B Floyd Lyon (AAA), LF Rey Mailman (RL), RP Alexander Bagley (AAA), RP Michael Harris (AAA)

Prediction: 90-72

San Francisco Giants (70-92)
There will be no joy on the bay this season. Last years struggles will continue until more talent is brought in to help young stars Mark Blum (2B), Emil Rodriguez (SS) & Davy Crudale (SP). The good news is that there are several young stars that just need a little more seasoning before they will be added to the ML roster. This year will be bad, next will be better and watch out the following year.

Top Prospects:
2B Roger Balboa (AAA), DH Hector Durazo (AAA), CF RJ Henry (Lo-A), SP Norm Long (AAA), SP Hades McDermott (AAA), RP Zephyr Lane (AAA), RP David Espinosa (AA)

Prediction: 74-88

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