Friday, May 22, 2009

Season 5 Preview - NL South

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

Last season, the NL South featured one of the best division races in either league, as Memphis outdueled Jackson to win the division by one game. Will Memphis be able to hold the top spot? Will another contender emerge? Let's dig in to the NL South!

NL SOUTH

4. Charleston Chew
Last Season: 79-83

Shenaynay’s crystal ball shows: mmmmm…candy bar goodness.

Impact Player – Andre Moss – Charleston is going to need last season’s mid-season acquisition to continue the work he started in the 2nd half of last season if they are going to contend.

Gazette says: Charleston made great strides last season improving their record by 19 games over Season 3. The team features an excellent offense who hit a solid .275 last year, and looks to be prepped to put a similar average this year. We think Charleston’s pitching staff needs a little bit more work before they can contend, especially in a division that features some pretty tough teams. Still, Charleston won’t be an easy team to beat this season by any means.

Psychic Friends Network prediction: 74-88
Odds to win it all: 75-1

3. San Juan Chinchillas
Last Season: 77-85

Shenaynay’s crystal ball shows: cloudiness – not sure if it’s because of the cloudy future of the team or cloudy because Shenaynay doesn’t know what a chinchilla is.

Impact Player – Kordell Menechino – pitching is going to be key in this division, and San Juan needs its ace to come through

Gazette says: After 3 straight 95 win seasons, the San Juan franchise took a step backwards last season falling to 77 wins. Offense was not a problem for San Juan last year, with a very respectable .281 batting average, and they look as if they’re return a lineup that has a chance to put forth similar numbers. On the pitching side, they didn’t have a starter with an ERA under 4.00, and their team ERA was 4.71. They’re going to need their starters to step it up a notch if they’re going to have a shot this season, and better consistency from their bullpen. At this point, it doesn’t look like they’ll have the arms to make a run at the division title.

Psychic Friends Network Prediction: 79-83
Odds to win it all: 70-1

2. Memphis Mayhem
Last Season: 100-62

Shenaynay’s crystal ball shows: The King is back!

Impact Player – Pinky Matheson – the midseason acquisition of Matheson was the equalizer last year that gave Memphis the ace they needed to win. He’ll be relied on heavily once again this season.

Gazette says: After 3 straight 3rd place finishes, the Mayhem finally took the next step, winning the division title in Season 4. Memphis was the most powerful lineup in the division, lead by NL MVP Buddy Poole who crushed 72 HR. While he may not hit 72 HR this season, he’ll still be dominant. The biggest factor in the division title win may have been the aforementioned Pinky Matheson who went 9-1 down the stretch. He leads a talented group of pitchers this season for Memphis, who are hoping to bring another division title home. Look for another tight race for the division title – but we’re not sure they’ll get the same out-of-this world performances to put them over the top again. Still, Memphis will be a very tough team.

Psychic Friends Network prediction: 96-66
Odds to win it all: 10-1

1. Jackson Rockets
Last Season: 99-63

Shenaynay’s crystal ball shows: the Rockets red glare!

Impact Player – Brian Taylor – Jackson will need MVP like numbers from its biggest bat, to go along with its great pitching, in order to top Memphis this year for the division crown.

Gazette says: Although they have only won the division once in four seasons, the Jackson franchise has posted at least 97 wins every season. Jackson has consistently had one of the best pitching staffs in the league, and looks as if they will continue that trend this season. The only question is will they have enough offensive fire power to bring home the division title? Looking at their lineup, it looks like they had a few players have off years, not to mention they are adding slugging 2B rookie Tike Bennett to the fold. We think they will be better offensively than last year, which will allow them to win the division.

Psychic Friends Network prediction: 101-61
Odds to win it all: 6-1

UP NEXT: AL EAST

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