Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Season 15 Previews: Minnesota North Stars

Minnesota gave Fargo a good run for the division title last season, then pulled the slight upset in the playoffs before falling to the eventual champion Blue Coats. Can they repeat or improve that performance?

Minnesota North Stars

Last season: 91-71 (2nd in NL North, 6th in NL, lost in 2nd round to Washington)
Offense: 7th in NL
Pitching: 8th in NL

Key additions: None
Key losses: P Miguel Reyes (FA-San Juan), P Nate McNamara (FA-Chicago), P Donaldo Lopez (FA-Nashville)

Analysis: Hard to figure how this team is going to go. Veteran 2B Rico Guevara has now had two career years, albeit 7 years apart and SS James Dixon's home run total has gone down each of the last three seasons. As hard as it is to do for a guy making almost $8 million a season, RF Zach Leary quietly put up great numbers. But the offense may hinge on three guys possibly transitioning from part-time to full-time duty: IF Shea Olmansky, OF Andrea Butler, and 1B John Okajima. Expect some AAA call-ups as well.

The pitching staff saw 5 guys win 10 games and no one win more than 15. Veteran Rob Cather was the 15 game winner and he'll be back, but North Stars fans are far more excited about young potential ace Braden Carroll. The loss of Reyes eliminates some depth, but he was far from an ace. They'll rely on guys like Yorrick Cannon, Carlos Franco, and Mark Rogers for the depth. As for the bullpen, they'll also miss the depth of McNamara and Lopez, but Gary Weems and Boomer Nelson are both reliable and should be able to pick up the slack.

Outlook: They're definitely better than they were two seasons ago when they finished last in the division, but I'm not sure I can pick them to go back to the playoffs.

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