Thursday, May 6, 2010

Gord the Swami's Season 8 Playoff Preview - American League

American League

#1 Houston Space Cowboys- 117-45, 1st place AL South
Strengths: Pitching, hitting, fielding, the bullpen, you name it - Houston's got it in spades.  Two MVP candidates, two Cy Young candidates, the AL Fireman of the year, and four Silver Sluggers is about as good as it gets.
Weaknesses: Gord doesn't like the look of their mascot, and thinks that their press buffet is weak.  
Keys to Success: The defending World Series champions have been getting it right pretty much from day one in Cobbfather, so really there isn't anything Gord can add to their already successful formula.  Keep on keepin' on says Gord.
Team MVP's: 3B Zach Charles & SP Walt Lowe & RP Luis Gonzalez
Outlook:  When the 2nd place team in your division wins 107 games and you still win the division by 10 you know that your team isn't just good, it's an all timer.  So anything less than a World Series run for these guys has to be considered a disappointment.  They have the horses to do it, but there are some matchups, namely Santa Fe and Florida, that could put a hitch in their getalong if they aren't careful.  Still Gord likes them to repeat.
Odds: 2-1

#2 Florida Hurricanes - 95-67, 1st place NL East
Strengths: The clear strength for the Hurricanes for the last few seasons has been their stellar rotation, and this year was no different.  Carl Sosa and Chris Pendleton are both up for the Cy Young award, and helped the team overcome a down year by fellow big three member Matt Lawrence.  The lineup is solid too, just not on the level of the rotation.
Weaknesses: The lineup had a collectively average season, and weren't the force they could have been, and paled in comparison to the two dynamos in the AL South. 
Keys to Success: You would have to assume that between the top four pitchers in the starting rotation, at least half of them will pitch to their capacity in the playoffs.  If that occurs all the lineup needs to do is put three runs on the board and victory should be assured. 
Team MVP's: OF Dan Waltman & SP Carl Sosa
Outlook:  Where Houston has tapped into the playoff mojo mine in recent years, Florida has had it collapse on their heads with some pretty forgettable first round losses that left the fans and management in a rage.  Will this year be any different?  Gord thinks maybe, but their opponent in the divisional round will be pretty good no matter who wins between Boston and K.C.  But Florida is due to advance to the LCS sometime soon, especially with their pitching.
Odds: 4-1

#3 Kansas City Tweakers - 91-71, 1st place AL West
Strengths: The Tweakers are a complete team, with solid pitching, hitting, and fielding.  They have some big stars in the rotation and lineup.  Rookie Dennis Gulan added considerably to the punch of the lineup, and makes this squad much more formidable than last seasons edition.
Weaknesses: There aren't any real glaring weak spots on the team, as they were solid in all aspects of the game this season.  They started slow but really turned it on after the break and kept pace with the top teams in the AL, which coincided with the call ups of some of their top prospects.
Keys to Success: One of the SP's other than Emmanuel Hartman needs to step up his game, as Clem Webster, Pinky Matheson, and Francis Munoz all had average regular seasons and are capable of much more.
Team MVP's: 2B Dennis Gulan and SP Emmanuel Hartman
Outlook: Johnnie Kennedy really sparked the Tweakers after he was called up, going 7-1 with stellar stats.  If the Tweakers keep playing like they did after he hit the bigs then they can hang with the top teams in the AL.  If they get past Boston they match up well with Florida, so a deep run is a possibility for them.
Odds: 7-1

#4 New York Pride of the Yankees - 88-74, 1st place NL North
Strengths: The Prides lineup is very good, hits with tons of power, and is pretty solid top to bottom.  Ken Evans was elite in the rotation and Esteban Terrero was solid in the bullpen.
Weaknesses: New York was one of the weaker defensive squads this year, and outside of Evans and Juan Martin their starting pitching was inconsistent.  Closer Terrero isn't exactly known for being clutch in the playoffs as well.
Keys to Success: The lineup needs to power their way through opposing pitchers to give their starters some breathing room and allow the bullpen to avoid the relatively weak middle relief.  Evans needs some support form another one of the starters, and Terrero can't "Pull a Sharkwave."
Team MVP's: C Endy Donatello & SP Ken Evans
Outlook: NY was rewarded for winning their division with a first round matchup vs. 107 win Santa Fe, which is not the matchup you want right out of the gate.  Gord sees some free swinging high scoring games between the two teams, and thinks that NY's offense is capable of hitting their way into the next round, but the pitching is going to have to really hold up in order for that to happen.
Odds: 15-1

#5 Santa Fe Dope Smugglers - 107-55, 2nd place NL South
Strengths: The SFE offense was the best in the league this season, and it wasn't just the park effect that is the reason, as the Dope Smugglers lineup is one of the tops in the league.  Their pitching was very effective as well, finishing in the top half of all teams despite playing half their games in Santa Fe. 
Weaknesses: On paper the Dope Smugglers don't really have any noticeable weaknesses other than playing in the same division as Houston.
Keys to success:When you win 107 games in a season you are doing something right, so Gord thinks the Dopies should just keep on pounding the ball and letting the rotation get through to shut down closer Anthony Gordon. 
Team MVP's: Util. Stuart Paulson &; SP Harry Mieses
Outlook:  The Dope Smugglers put up an epic regular season, the only problem is Houston's more epic.  That being said Santa Fe has the inside track to a showdown with the Space Cowboys if they can club their way past New York in the first round.  Both teams lineups play the same way, but Gord likes Santa Fe's pitching much better, and thinks that they could go a long way.
Odds: 3-1

#6 Boston Massacre - 85-77, 3rd place NL East
Strengths: Boston has a nice rotation that was bolstered by the acquisition of veteran Rusty Warden.  The lineup can mash with the best of them in the AL, and the smart signing of Aaron Tam added another dimension.  Boston is pretty sharp in the field as well.
Weaknesses: Boston doesn't really show that many weaknesses on paper.  But one key minor injury to Warden has him out for the first round of the playoffs.
Keys to Success: Let Johnny Sherman and co. continue to mash like they did in the regular season and hope that Albie Torres and the rest of the rotation can hold court until Warden returns for the second round.
Team MVP's: LF Johnny Sherman &; SP Albie Torres
Outlook: Boston is pretty evenly matched with Kansas City in the 1st round of the playoffs, and should they survive that dogfight look to be a team that could challenge Florida for the right to proceed to the ALCS.  But the quality of the teams in the AL playoffs this year is as good as it has ever been, so the cards will have to fall just right for Boston to advance.  Still, the 1st playoff appearance in franchise history is a big step up in the right direction.
Odds: 9-1

No comments: