Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Season 5 Preview - NL North

Leon Jackson - Cobbfather Post Gazette
Shenaynay - Special Correspondent from the Psychic Friends Network

The final division preview for Season 5 is the NL North. Syracuse, although a solid team, was a bit of surprise as the division winner last season. Who will take the crown this season? Let's find out!

NL NORTH

4. Ottawa Renegades
Last Season: 69-93

Shenaynay’s crystal ball shows: it’s still cold up in Ottawa.

Impact Player – Haywood Reuschel – Ottawa fans are eager to find out if he can repeat last season’s spectacular numbers.

Gazette says: Ottawa did show some improvement last season going from 60 to 69 wins. But we’re not sure they’re ready to make another nine game improvement this season. The lack of offensive firepower is a concern, and we’re not all that high on their pitching staff. They could definitely use a couple of more impact players. This could be a year for them to build their system, and get those players. But on the Major League field this season, we see them being about the same as last season.

Psychic Friends Network prediction: 65-97
Odds to win it all: 150-1

3. Wichita Linemen
Last Season: 65-97

Shenaynay’s crystal ball shows: the winds of change blowing through Wichita

Impact Player – Louie Grey – will he impact the team by another great season on the mound, or will he impact them by allowing them to cut salary by trading him and start the rebuild process?

Gazette says: After three straight division titles, this franchise took a step backwards last season, falling to 65-97. Some would say that was because of poor management. Now under new management, and in a new city, Wichita looks to rebound. While it certainly wouldn’t hurt for them to shed a few of their big contracts, Wichita should be better than last year, as their pitching is better than the 5.15 ERA they posted last season, and moving in to a pitcher’s park will help as well. There are a few question marks with the lineup, which will need to resolve before they contend for a division title.

Psychic Friends Network prediction: 72-90
Odds to win it all: 90-1

2. Syracuse Sycophants
Last Season: 91-71

Shenaynay’s crystal ball shows: the ball is clouded with Syracuse orange!

Impact Player – Erv Jodie – can the rookie pitcher help fill the void in the rotation left by departing free agents?

Gazette says: Last season, Syracuse posted their first winning season in Cobbfather posting 91 wins and winning the NL North. They did this with solid hitting, and very good pitching. Their bullpen was excellent, and their rotation stepped it up. The lost a couple of type B free agents this offseason, but still return most of the parts from last year’s division title team. They also have a few rookies coming up that should help. Still, we’re not sure the pitching staff can repeat the same numbers they put up last year, which may cost them a couple of games in the win column:

Psychic Friends Network prediction: 85-77
Odds to win it all: 40-1

1. Rochester Rolling Rocks
Last Season: 86-76

Shenaynay’s crystal ball shows: the rolling rocks are picking up speed.

Impact Player – Trey Padgett - if the Rochester offense is firing on all cylinders, they should be extremely tough to beat, and it looks like Padgett is the leader of the offense.

Gazette says: Rochester was our pick last season to break out and really make an impact in the NL pennant race, but it didn’t help, although they still posted a respectable 86 wins. Looking at their performance, it’s really hard to see why they didn’t win more games, as the offense was good enough, and their pitching was excellent. It looks like it may have been a bit of bad luck. We like them again this year, as they may have both the best offense and best pitching in the division. If the offense gets rolling, this team could be scary. What is definitely scary is their payroll is a ridiculously low 14.9 million, so they have a great opportunity to add even more blue chip prospects.

Psychic Friends Network prediction: 95-67
Odds to win it all: 11-1

UP NEXT: Playoff Predictions

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