Tuesday, May 18, 2010

NL North Divisional Preview

Season 9 NL North Division


1. Dover Fightin’ Blue Hens
2. Detroit Wolverines
3. Iowa City Hawkeyes
4. Columbus Buckeyes

Off-Season Moves:
Key Players Added: 3B/RF Rock Stinnett (via trade) to backup and occasionally start; RP Louie Lopez to add middle inning relief

Key Players Lost: RP Vinny Shigetoshi via trade; RP Brian Chong and LF Brian Higgenson via demotion

Key Transactions: Resigned our own FAs Harvey Chambers, Freddy Yang, and Frank Cota

Rookies: 3B/RF Rock Stinnett

Outlook: The Buckeyes had the best last place record in the NL last season and finished 1 game out of 3rd place. Last season's rookie trio of Joshua Hall, Miguel Concepcion, and Benito Goya along with Max Peterson and Ben Jackson form a solid core of young hitters well under age 27. Team hitting should be this teams strength this season. Mike Nevin anchors an aging and shaky pitching staff. If these veterans can hold it together, this team should finish above .500 and challenge for a Wild Card spot.

Key additions: Added 2B Jimmie Alicea through a trade this offseason; grabbed SP Julio Johnson and 1B Eddie Sanford late last season.

Lost: C Del Seanez through trade, RF Tex Owens to free-agency

Outlook: Obtaining Julio Johnson late last season gave the Wolverines a 4 man rotation under the age of 30, all with solid control and splits. Having Eddie Sanford’s bat all season, along with adding Jimmie Alicea and having Del Guerrero’s numbers increase should give us a stronger offense.

This is still a very young team that has made the playoffs the last 2 seasons and is expected to start winning a few series. I’m expecting another tight race in the division again this year, since season 4 only once has a team won the division by double digits. A team goal for the Wolverines this year is to get into the 90 win category and to quiet the critics who continued to crack jokes at the Wolverines expense last season.

Key Players Added: Signed FA P Omar Perez to try to offset the loss of #2 and #4 starters. Signed FA Sam Belitz to move from 3B back to his natural SS position.

Key Players Lost: P Matthew Lennon, P Willie Sabathia, and P Shane Cyr to free agency. Did not re-sign infielders Charles Bong and Eric Thompson.

Key Transactions: Allowed Lennon and Sabathia to become free agents in order to infuse some talent into the franchise at the lower levels. Dover will draft 5 players in the first two rounds of the amateur draft. Exercised options on closer Nicky Drew and setup man Randy Gabriel to return one of the stronger bullpens in the majors.

Rookies: The franchise has no superior talent at the upper levels. 1B Mark Starr will likely make his debut early in the season. P Brandon Matthews is ready to provide some bullpen help when he gets the call.

Outlook: After winning the NL North in his first full season as manager, byers61 will be hard pressed to repeat. This was a team that relied on 4 strong starters to win the division, and two of those are now gone. Can a team rebuild while remaining competitive? Doubtful. Projected finish: 3rd

Iowa City:

Key Players Added: SS Stephan Donnels to replace the departing SS Anthony Lombard

Key Players Lost: SS Anthony Lombard, LF Barry Mathews, RF Bing Brown, P Roger Karnuth

Key Transactions: None

Rookies: C Del Olivares will come in to rest stud catcher Juan Nunez, LF Rick Uribe, SP's Benny Baez and Wilkin Sanchez will be the future leaders of the Hawkeyes' pitching staff.

Outlook: The rebuilding project in Iowa City looks to continue this year as the team still looks to be stuck in transition. Lot of quality arms in the system but too many not quite ready youngsters mixed in with too many aging vets will make this season tough. Iowa City looks to be several years away from having any shot at the postseason.

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