Sunday, April 17, 2005

2005 NABL Season Preview

Well gents once again it is time for a fearless guesstimation/opinionation of what we will likely see in this 2005 season.

This off season was the most turbulent in NABL history beginning with the cancellation of the league overhaul, as well as expansion and re-organization. That said, the bottom line is the season starts this weekend and the games count so here goes.

First up the Americanl League West.
The AL West is going to be the strongest division top to bottom in the NABL this year. 3 of the clubs (Los Angeles, Texas and Phoenix) look loaded for a run at the playoffs and beyond.
The LA Xtreme feature the best rotation in NABL headed by two legit #1 Ace starters in Johan Santana and Tim Hudson. The Taz offensive combination of Helton/ARod is probably the best 1-2 punch in the NABL. I figure these two clubs will battle for division supremacy all year.
Phoenix enters with another club capable of securing a wildcard or challenging the big two in the division. Phoenix was one of the most active clubs in free agency indicating a desire to win now. I expect that will pay off with a strong season this year.

AL Central
Original expansion clubs were combined in this division. The class of which appears to be the Cleveland Bulldogs with a lineup featuring Adrian Beltr and JD Drew and a rotation that is relatively strong for their division Cleveland should be in it to win it this year.

Denver was very active this off season adding Schilling, Sosa and Moises Alou. That is production but a lot of age as well. The rotation is going to be in trouble though as after Schilling there does not appear to be enough depth to make a serious run outside the division.

Kansas City had 3 different owners this off season but look to be on track right now with fresh management and an obvious eye for talent and the long haul. The future looks very bright for the Monarchs. This team isn't going to win the World Series this year but the horses are in the barn that could make a run as early as 2006.

Winnipeg is still a ways away and likely will struggle to come close to a .500 record this year.

AL East
It would take amazing levels of mismanagement for New York to not assume control of this division fairly quickly and decisively. The Commish has the American League's most potent lineup going into this season. The top of the rotation with Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez is likely 2nd only to Los Angeles. Isringhausen is a potential seasonal awards candidate in the bullpen. New York wins 100 easily.

The other 3 clubs in the AL East lack the pitching that New York has. Carolina though does have a nice combination of power and speed that will lead to a lot of runs. I expect the Monitors to compete for a playoff spot this year. Columbus and Pawtucket with the right moves could contend for the playoffs as well but it is unlikely that they will get there this season.

My picks AL West - Los Angeles, Central - Cleveland East - New York Wildcard Carolina, Texas (Cleveland bumped from playoffs).

AL Champion - New York.

And now the National League.
NL West The Portland Posse have an excellent rotation, easily the strongest in the division. The lineup in Portland looks to be one of the strongest in the NABL as well. This team could well be on the way to 100 wins if they get off to a good start.

Arizona, California and Seattle all lack the pitching that Portland has. Arizona and California do have a lot of offense though and will battle for the wildcard. Seattle could be in for a long season.

NL Central the 4 newest expansion teams to join the NABL arrive in the NL Central this year. The new owners were very active in the winter getting their lineups together. As for the 2005 season none of these clubs has the pitching it takes to win big. Someone will win this divison but they might with it with only 70 wins. There is no solid favorite in this division. All 4 clubs would be well served to think long term and to prepare right now for the summer draft while looking to move veteran talent for draft picks and prospects. They are all in fairly good financial positions to do will and with luck by 2007 one of these clubs could take charge of the division and advantage of the way scheduling works in NABL to become a major power. Not this season though.

NL East
Um..Baltimore has the most potent lineup in the National League. This club could score 1,000 runs this year. The Bayarads pitching is not nearly as potent but should be adequate. The Bayards look like a 100 win club.

The other three NL East clubs lack the offense but Orlando of the 3 has the pitching. The Renegades enter this season with the strongest pitching staff in the majors. The rotation features Roger Clemens, Odalis Perez, Woody Williams and Tom Glavine. The pen features stoppers in John Smoltz, Trevor Hoffman, Eddie Guardado and Scott Linebrink. Better get to the Renegades early because this club will be able to shut teams down after the 6th inning.

My picks
NL West - Portland, NL Central - No one makes the playoffs...someone falls into a division title with a sub .500 record likely, NL East - Baltimore Wildcards Orlando and California

NL Champion - Baltimore

NABL World Series Champion - Baltimore repeats.

That's how I see it.



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