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Monday, September 15, 2008

Season 6 AL North Preview

I will be better with the blog this season. It starts today with a brief overview of predictions for the season. I am hoping to get up 1 division a day.
Prediction: 1st in the Division (Possible AL Champ)
Last Season: 1st in Division (110-52)

How much do you have to change when you have averaged 106 Wins per season over the last 5 seasons? Vernon Hubbell returns as this season after knocking out 40+ HR last season at age 26 while taking home a 2nd All-Star Appearance. He is joined by potential 40/40 man Marino Moreno (if he stays healthy) and super hitting stud Catcher Sean Moehler. The rotation is anchored by Cy Young Winner Lonnie Hammonds who went 20-2 last season. Stan Lewis may be the best player in the league, however the pitching staff is anchored by older players and that may need to change going forward.
Prediction: 2nd in the Division (would be their highest finish ever)
Last Season: 3rd in Division (72-90)
Toronto made a HUGE commitment to now with some of their off season moves. Lou Hunter is a stud and will close out as many as they will win. Ernie Morgan is another stud in the bullpen but both are extremely costly. Will they be enough to get them a wild card spot this season? Wiki Alvarez and Luis Ontiveros are solid role players as well.
Can Jumbo Cerveza become a 50/50 guy this season? If so that would go a long way to getting them into the playoffs for the first time ever. Overall they have some incredible young hitting talent. And, Can Ralph Mora be the #1 starter that they need to reach the next level? They will also need Calvin Yo to pitch this season the way he ended last season.

Prediction: 3rd in the division
Last Season: 2nd in the division (72-90)
Elston Taylor could be a hidden stud and a steal free-agent signing in the rotation. Bill Vernon will also make a big impact. I am not a fan of the signing of Justin Medina or Tomas Padilla but Padilla was waived and claimed so that works fine for them. Orlando Valentin was an interesting signing for $5 million as they already have a similarly talented SS making $5.4 million. Next year may be their season as they have some great young talent now maturing in the majors. They include Micah Hill who may hit 50 Home Runs this season. Junior Fernandez is a great young catcher. Tony Costilla will have a good year but is a season or 2 away from being Cy Young caliber and now joins a major league staff that has youth and experience. Andres Gutierrez is a shut down closer who should help them keep the wins they get.
Depending on maturity they could challenge for 2nd in the division and possibly a wild card spot as well.

Prediction: 4th in the Division
Last Season: 4th in Division (66-96)
I wish I could say that the winds have changed but I just don't think that is the case. The only significant free agent signings Jaime Price and Billy Grimsley both have no business even being in the majors. Their best player is 37 year old pitcher Gerald Lim is still a stud but is nearing the end of the round. Rodney Grove should put up big numbers offensively and at only 23 he has a bright future ahead of him. A huge concern here is players like AJ Castillo being rushed to the majors at only 19 years old, this future stud's growth will now be destroyed and with it may go the future of the franchise.

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