Sunday, January 23, 2011

Season 11 -- All-Star Break Reviews NL Edition

NL North
Rochester Rolling Rocks
    1st Half Performance Grade: A

    With a strong offense and a strong pitching staff backed by one of the best defenses in Cobbfather, it's easy to see the how and why this team is again leading the NL North. This team was ranked one of the strongest in our ‘Decade of Dominace’ series, and they again should be one of the favorites to represent the NL in the World Series.

Ottawa Renegades
    1st Half Performance Grade: B+

    An outstanding first half performance by this club’s pitching staff propelled Ottawa to second place in the division. J.R. Offerman missed a huge chunk of the first half with a severe ankle injury, and that was the main cause as to why the offense couldn't keep pace with the pitching staff’s results. If their pitchers can keep it up, there's a chance Ottawa could be playing in the post season.

Fargo Fighters
    1st Half Performance Grade: C-

    It was a tough first have for the Fighters from Fargo. Below average offense and pitching were responsible for the team’s 40-51 mark entering the All-Star break. Al James has been a real bright spot for them though. There's still a lot of games left, but they are going to have to get things moving if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Syracuse Sycophants
    1st Half Performance Grade: C-

    There is some good talent on this club, but the offense and pitching staff didn't really seem to get things rolling. A 39-52 record heading into the All-Star break was the result, but you just look at the roster and think that they're a better club than that.

NL East
Dover Diamond Dogs
    1st Half Performance Grade: A

    Rochester and Dover have dominated the story line for the NL seemingly since Cobbfather began. While there are some strong teams that can now offer those two more competition, it's probably still all about Rochester and Dover. Dover rolled along to first in the NL East at the All-Star break with a strong offense and strong pitching staff. Perennial MVP candidate Rondell Burks had a very strong first half, though he is starting to show his age. For now and the immediate future, Dover is the team the rest of the NL East must beat to win the division.

Buffalo Bisons
    1st Half Performance Grade: C

    Buffalo finds itself in the unenviable position of being a solid, competitive team that is just one or two blue-chip players away from being really good. Unfortunately, getting those players is difficult to do. Buffalo's pitching staff actually preformed pretty well over the first half, but their offense was near the bottom of Cobbfather in OPS. With some good prospects to deal if they so desire, it will be interesting to see if Buffalo chooses to try and make a push for the 6th spot in the playoffs in what may turn out to be a highly competitive race.

Cincinnati Red Stockings
    1st Half Performance Grade: C

    A poor performance from the offense didn't help what was a very nice performance by a really solid pitching staff. 43-48 is not where this team wanted to be heading into the All-Star break, but an improvement with the offense and the same kind of performance by the pitching staff could mean a race for that last playoff spot in the NL.

New York Primetimers
    1st Half Performance Grade: C-

    Offense is a really big issue in the NL East, and the Primetimers are no exception. An offense near the bottom in OPS just puts too much pressure on a pitching staff, and too often the staff for New York just couldn't quite hold on. A 39-52 record at the break was the result.

NL South
Charleston Chew
    1st Half Performance Grade: A-

    What a turnaround for this franchise in season 11. After never having a single winning season – not one I tell you – Charleston found itself atop the division at the All-Star break. Norman LaPorta leads what is a solid pitching staff, and while the offense was slightly below average, players such as Tommie Winn had a very solid first half. Hopefully, this is a sign of good things to come for this franchise.

Jackson Rockets
    1st Half Performance Grade: C

    It was a rough start for the Rockets, but as the All-Star break approached they started playing better. Harry Mieses is the star of the pitching staff (and rightfully so) and had a great first half. However, for the most part the rest of the staff wasn't as good, and the offense really, really struggled. This is a good team though, and they have the talent to play better. I wouldn't at all be surprised to see this team in the playoffs when all is said and done for this season.

Little Rock Lewinskys
    1st Half Performance Grade: B-

    When you go through 4 straight losing seasons, you just want to see signs that your team is improving. The first half of season 11 gave the Little Rock ownership that sign. At 45-46 going into the All-Star break, the record wasn't spectacular. It didn't need to be for there to be validation that ownership has the team going in the right direction, which it does. They're better, and a shot at the last playoff spot isn't unrealistic.

Nashville Mayhem
    1st Half Performance Grade: F

    When you have to have a mid-season ownership replacement, things aren't good. Such is the case for Nashville. Hopefully current ownership will decide to stay aboard and help provide a steady hand for this organization. Time to turn the page for Nashville.

NL West
Honolulu Haoles
    1st Half Performance Grade: B+

    When you have a strong pitching staff that can get a little support from its offense, you typically have a very solid team. With a 64-27 record heading into the All-Star break, Honolulu is exactly that. They may not be quite as good as their record indicates, but make no mistake… this is a solid team. You have to make the playoffs to make it to the World Series, and while this team may not stack up against Rochester or Dover on paper, it has made it to a World Series before and is led by an owner that knows how to win. Do not count this team out at all.

Cheyenne Chiefs
    1st Half Peformance Grade: B+

    After struggling to get over the hump, Cheyenne made it to the playoffs in season 10. They've spent the first half of season 11 showing that was no fluke. Even losing Wascar Rosado to free agency hasn't slowed this team down any. There is quite a bit of talent on this club, and a 58-33 first half record is a good reflection of that talent.

Los Angeles Penguins
    1st Half Performance Grade: B-

    Good pitching and above average offense meant a 49-42 first half record for this club. It is going to be one competitive race for the wild card spots in the NL, but LA looks like it has what it takes to be a part of that race.

Sacramento Fighting Cornish Hens
    1st Half Performance Grade: C

    At 42-49, it's been a tough first half for Sacramento. They play solid defense, but their pitching staff has struggled and their offense just hasn't been able to get it going so far. With so many teams fighting for playoff spots, Sacramento is going to have to find a spark soon or they may end up on the outside looking in come post-season time.

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