National League News
by Lenny Luchtefeld
Opening Day Is Here!
Our 7th season is just around the corner. But before we get the season started, in this issue, the main focus will be looking at the National League preview. Who will be favored to win, who will fall from grace and who will make a big splash this year.
There are a couple of new owners over in the American League but everyone is returning for another season in the National. With all of the NL managers set in place, it should make for some great rivalries and great competition this year.
I look for some real parity from this years National League action. All of last years second tier teams made advances during the off-season and should be much improved. I only see two teams winning around a 100 games and nobody winning less than 60. That should make for some great divisional and wildcard races this year. Hope everyone has a fun year.
Please remember these are only my opinions about the predicted finishes. The League Administration Staff will disavow any knowledge of my existence should these predictions be wrong.
I am looking for Ocala, Stanley and Glen Allen to take their division titles. Fleetwood, Glen Allen and Bloomington among others should fight it out for the 2 Wildcard slots. I believe Stanley and Ocala will eventually battle for the N L crown this year in a 7 game series, with Ocala going to the Brassball World Series against Cook County. Who will win between those two, no one knows for sure.
Glen Allen gets the nod in this division this year because of their experience. The Mets made it all the way to the Brassball World Series last year and should easily take the division title. Glen Allen is not a power-laded team but has good team speed with some power and good pitching.
I believe the rest of the teams are evenly matched. The Tigers have some excellent bats in Olerud and Thomas. The starting pitching may be a little suspect with 3 leftys but they should have enough weapons to take second place.
Racine and Wauwatosa will not be far behind. Racine has improved over last year and may have the best starting pitching in the division. The Heat drafted unprotected Brad Radke in the draft and he will be the number 1 starter.
Wauwatosa should also be an improved team as their pitching has improved. The Wizards will have to find a solid closer to finish out games. This will be a tough division from top to bottom. After Glen Allen, all these teams may finish within 5 games of each other when its all over.
Predicted Order of Finish:
1- Glen Allen Mets
2- Long Island Tigers
3- Racine Heat
4- Wauwatosa Wizards
Stanley still has too many weapons this year to finish anywhere but first and in the playoffs. They will definitely be a force in the NL. Stanley is solid at every position from top to bottom. They have power, speed and good defense. The Sioux have 5 stable starters lead by Randy Johnson.
Fleetwood has some very nice talent and will be a factor in the division and for a Wildcard spot. Abreu, Konerko and C. Jones will make for some very interesting games. They have a very nice lineup but could use some help in the form of a trade for more power.
Bloomington should finish third in the division. The Bees had too many key player losses in the off season. The Bees still could be one of the two Wildcard teams. They feature good pitching, an excellent closer and still a very potent offense despite the losses.
Columbus will be looking at another season in the cellar of the division. Although picked to finish 4th, they will be improved and are on the move upward in the future. Still a good team, but cant compete with the other 3. They still have question marks at 1st and at the closer position.
Predicted Order of Finish:
1- Stanley Sioux
2- Fleetwood Walkers
3- Bloomington Bees
4- Columbus Buckeyes
I predict Ocala will take the title in the West this year. The Ocelots have an excellent offense with speed. They have the best defense in the league and wont make many miscues this year. This could be the year that the Ocelots go all the way.
Gem City still features a great offense with Bagwell, Rodriquez, Larkin, and Vaughn. But they still lack the pitching to get to the next level. Add a couple of front line starters and a solid closer to this lineup and you have yourself a winner. If the team gets off to a fast start, they may look to lake a trade to help the pitching staff out.
North Georgia is going to be a solid team. They have good pitching and an above average offense. The Yellow Jackets just dont have the horsepower yet to compete with Gem City and Ocala. They should finish around .500 but wont have enough weapons to stay out of 3rd place in the division.
Metropolis is doom to finish last but thats the way they want it again this year. They have been acquiring talent over the last couple of years. If most of the prospects develop, this rebuilding stage should make them a very formidable team in the future.
Predicted Order of Finish:
1- Ocala Ocelots
2- Gem City Wolfpack
3- North Georgia Yellow Jackets
4- Metropolis Avengers
1) Toledo trades Matt Kinney and $100,000 to Metropolis for Travis Lee and $100,000.
2) Georgia trades Jason Christiansen to Columbus for Mike James.
3) Metropolis pays 50,000 To Georgia for Matt Franco.
4) Georgia sells Chris Holt (pd) to Racine for $3M.
Long Island signs
C. Guillen to his 1st month call up, R. Rivera to his 2nd month call up and L. Berkman to
his 1st month call up.
Bloomington signs Gabe Kapler to a 4 year deal, Adrian Brown and Joe Slusarski to 2 year deals, Clay Bellinger to a 1 year deal, Ruben Mateo, David Ortiz and Jeff Weaver to their 1st months call ups.
Ocala signs Glendon Rusch to a 3 year contract, Jose Santiago to a 2 year contract, Adrian Beltre to his 2nd call-up and JD Drew to his 1st call-up.
Stanley signs Carlos Febles and Felix Rodriguez each to 3 year contracts.
Wauwatosa signs Redman, Ryan, Quinn, and Richard signed to MO-1 contracts and Elarton and E. Perez signed to 1 year contracts.
Columbus signs Daryle Ward to his call up.
North Georgia signs Scott Schoenweis to a 3 year contract.
Fleetwood signs Aybar to a 2-year contract, Cornelius to his first minor-league call-up, Elster to a 1-year contract, Molina and Pleasac to their first minor-league call-ups.
Metropolis signs Carlos Almanzar to a 1 year deal, Dan Serafini, Brian Hunter (The outfielder) and Rob Ducey to MTM contracts.
Glen Allen signs Melvin Mora to MO-1 contract.
· I am going to start posting in the N L newsletter the articles that are submitted each month. We used to just post them on the web site but to give them more exposure I with feature them at the bottom of the newsletter each month. This month we have 2 articles from Vaughn and 1 from Corey, Jim and Paul.
· WARNING-I dont like to publish things like this in the newsletter because it doesnt pertain to all of you but this will serve as a public notice that the monthly deadlines will be strictly enforced in the NL this year. Since we have all been around in this league for a while and are now very familiar with the rules, I will no longer be able to have any flexibility with tardiness and just not sending information at all. I realize that there will be the occasional lateness due to an illness or some other unfortunate circumstances and those will be excused. But when someone, for example, doesnt send me a back up copy of the subset stats for their team each month that are suppose to go to Dave Little and ME, there will be a fine. If you are not sure of what is to be e-mailed each month then please read the constitution or ask questions before it is too late. The deadlines are also posted every month at the end of the newsletter. Handing out fines is not a fun part of the league for me. Unfortunately, it is a necessity to keep the league moving along and running smoothly. We are all in this league to have fun. I know that each of you are very knowledgeable and organized and can make your mailings on time. I hope I dont have to mention this again and that there are no fines given out this year. That would make my job more fun and make the league fun and enjoyable for all of us.