Thursday, August 25, 2011

Season 15 Previews: Salt Lake City Shakers

Salt Lake City has long been the gold standard in the NL West and arguably in the NL itself. They've won 8 straight NL West titles (with 4 NLCS appearances and a World Series title thrown in that stretch) and appear primed for a 9th. Can they win another World Series title? Does anybody in the division have the horses to finally knock them off?

Salt Lake City Shakers

Last season: 96-66 (1st in NL West, 1st in NL, lost in NLCS to Washington)
Offense: 1st in NL
Pitching: 6th in NL

Key additions: None
Key losses: OF Jordan Newfield (FA-Nashville), SS Amp Palmer (FA-Boise), LF Benito Fuentes (FA-Mexico City

Analysis: They'll miss Newfield, Palmer, and Fuentes, but they're still dangerous. 1B Phil Creek, SS Carlos Batista, and RF Vic James all return- they're high on base guys as well as sluggers. CF George Lowe had an off season, but he and 2B Cy Brand will provide the speed in the lineup. The only question is whether they'll be as deep as they have in the past. They really like what Stuffy Eyre did in spot duty last season.

Their pitching staff always seems to find a way to get it done, albeit unconventially. Felipe Calles and Rob Cepeda are not uber-talented, but they know how to get enough outs. Joe Forrest won 24 games, all in relief. The team likes closer Lonny Soto, even if he did blow 9 saves last season.

Outlook: It remains to be seen how losing all those hitters will affect them, but even if it affects them greatly, I don't see who else in the division can rise up to take them out.

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