Saturday, January 22, 2011

Season 11 -- All-Star Break Reviews AL Edition

AL North
Minnesota Modern Gentlemen
    1st Half Performance Grade: B+

    At the All-Star break, these Gentlemen from Minnesota enjoyed the largest divisional gap between 1st and 2nd place in the AL. With 2 very young and very good pitchers sitting at the top of their rotation, they will be tough to catch for season 11 and the future looks bright for this club.

Madison Marauders
    1st Half Performance Grade: C

    The fact that this team entered the All-Star break at 41-50 but in 2nd in the division speaks volumes about the AL North, and it isn’t all that kind. In all honesty, I expected the record for this team to be worse, so in reality the team is exceeding expectations for this season.

    Must be that GC wager with NY Pride that has the team motived. With some very nice young prospects on the near horizon, the Marauders have a bright future in front of them, and with the GC wager there is definitely something to play for regardless of whether or not they can get into playoff contention

New York Pride of the Yankees
    1st Half Performance Grade: D+

    What do you get when you combine an outspoken and abrasive owner, a failed free agent signing in Kordell Menechino, and an overrated offense (overrated by said outspoken owner anyway)? A 39-52 record, that’s what.
    Not even a GC wager with Madison is enough to pull this team out of its funk, and they usually love playing with a GC on the line. The pitching has been dreadful, and with a rapidly aging rotation and no real impact arms in the farm system, the Pride’s ownership has its work cut out.

    Maybe Pride ownership should spend less time worrying about what Ken Evans is doing and more time focusing on improving his pitching staff? Just a thought.

Milwaukee Bashing Dwarves
    1st Half Performance Grade: C+

    A struggling offense and a struggling pitching staff resulted in a 33-58 record at the All-Star break. However, a great team name gives their grade a significant bump. The farm system does have some talent, so ownership can decide to wait or flip them for immediate help if they so choose. And, as we all know, Milwaukee is Algonquin for “the good land.” So they have that going for them…

AL East
Durham Radicals
    1st Half Performance Grade: A

    A lot of credit goes to ownership for getting this team to continue to play despite what could have been a franchise-crippling injury to Rafael Benitez. Durham found itself in 1st place in the division at the All-Star break, and it should be a real treat watching to see if they can keep up their play and snag the division title away from perennial champs Atlanta.

Atlanta Expos
    1st Half Performance Grade: B-

    Results achieved compared to roster talent just hasn’t been there so far for the Expos. With the best rotation in the AL (if not all of Cobbfather) and an offense that ranks in the top third in OPS, chances are it’s just a matter of time. If this team does make it to the playoffs (and there’s really no reason at this point to think they won’t) they still have to be considered one of, if not the, favorites. All that said, being anywhere other than tops in the division is below expectations for this club.

Hartford Huskies
    1st Half Performance Grade: C+

    After somewhat of a hot start, Hartford had cooled off considerably as of the All-Star break. This team is competitive though, and shouldn't be taken lightly by any team looking to make the playoffs.

Boston Massacre
    1st Half Performance Grade: C-

    I’m not sure how a 45-46 record at the All-Star break can be seen as anything but a disappointment for Boston this season. With a possible trip to free agency for Johnny Sherman, ownership has some extremely difficult decisions to make. Will they be able to make a push for the playoffs, or will they sell their best trade chip for what surely would be a very nice return?

AL South
Houston Space Cowboys
    1st Half Performance Grade: A

    There isn’t really much to say. Houston has been good, is good, and will be good. They continue to be one of the favorites to represent the AL in the World Series. I mean, really, there are only so many ways to say a team is really good...

Richmond Rat Bastids
    1st Half Performance Grade: B+

    There isn’t much to say here either. Always a really good team, this season is no exception. Not quite as good overall as Houston, but still a really good team that unfortunately has to share the division with Houston.

Austin Rock Stars
    1st Half Performance Grade: B-

    A sub .500 record probably shouldn’t warrant a grade this good but Austin has stretches where they play really well. A little more consistency is needed though. One more thing, if you haven’t already seen the talent this farm system has, check it out. The Time of the Rock Stars is nigh upon us.

St. Louis Beermen
    1st Half Performance Grade: C+

    A good start gave way to a 35-56 record going into the All-Star break. Some good pieces in the farm system give ownership options, but for now this team is still a ways away. Headed in the right direction for sure though.

AL West
KC Tweakers
    1st Half Performance Grade: C+

    An offseason trade for Chip James did nothing to improve the offense’s OPS in the first half of the season. Very, very, very poor starts by every member of the rotation not named Kennedy and extremely shaky results from a bullpen expected to be a team strength left a big hole to dig out of. As the All-Star break approached, however, the team improved its play and found its way to sharing the division lead.

Arizona Hammer’d Leprechauns
    1st Half Peformance Grade: B+

    I think it is safe to say this team has now arrived. With fantastic first half performances from its great young players Victor Almanzar and Mendy Kondou, this team found itself tied for the division lead at the All-Star break, and the race for this division title may come down to the very end. They would get a bump in grade for such a clever team name, but they really don’t need it.

Vancouver Canadians
    1st Half Performance Grade: C-

    It was a very shaky start to season 11 for the Canadians. It was so bad that the owner released a statement to the other owners apologizing for the play of his team. Since then, Vancouver became much more competitive. With some live young arms in its farm system, there are chips Vancouver can use to improve the big league club, or with patience they may have one of the better young rotations in the next few seasons.

Helena Handbasket
    1st Half Performance Grade: C-

    Again, a great name saves a team from an otherwise dreadful grade. New ownership took over this team for season 11, and he has his work cut out for him. Some bad contracts are really limiting what ownership can do, and the team just doesn't have much talent and isn't playing all that well. This team really needs a steady hand to help them out of the mess it's in, and hopefully this ownership will stick around and guide the club back to the prominence it once enjoyed.

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