Apr 29, 2008

S7 Recap -- AL West

Cheyenne Duck Snorts
What Went Right: The Ducksnorts won a franchise-record 100 games by shaving 95 runs from the runs-allowed column. They rode a balanced attack past Matt Ross and the Ponies to an AL title, before defeating Fargo in seven for a World Series championship. 3B Julio Sanchez, CF Tim Broome and DH Johnny Harvey paced a dynamic offense with OPS above .900, and 2B Aramis Santiago made up for a dismal season at the plate by picking up his second consecutive Gold Glove.

What Went Wrong: Cheyenne managed to wring some solid performances from a merely above-average pitching staff and overcame nine blown saves from closer Tony Nomo.

S8 Outlook: Most of the team's best players remain under contract, and a slew of young players appears ready to contribute at the ML level. Cheyenne looks ready to become Griffey world's next repeat champion.

Colorado Mile High Rapids
What Went Right: Colorado led Griffey in runs scored for the fourth consecutive year, the seventh straight season the franchise has scored at least 1,000 runs. Closer Don Little joined C Royce Minor, 2B Raymond Owen, SS Cy Nelson, LF Rickey Kelton and RF Brady Cortes in the All-Star Game.

What Went Wrong: Unfortunately, the Mile High Rapids allowed more than 1,000 runs for the fifth consecutive season since moving from Boise. Little converted 25 of 29 saves, despite a 1.68 WHIP and 6.16 ERA. The team posted its first non-winning season in franchise history with an 81-81 record.

S8 Outlook: This could be the last go-'round for this explosive but aging club. With several key players poised to hit FA after the season, longtime owner Stewart_UK must find a way for this franchise to win its first postseason series. Limiting opponents to fewer runs is the key, but no easy solution has been found.

Albuquerque Ranchers
What Went Right: The Ranchers allowed 1,066 runs, the club's best mark since S4. SP Enrique Gonzalez posted his best ERA (4.59) since the team's S3 move to Albuquerque, and closer Joe Taylor was selected to his first All-Star game. 3B Willie James was arguably the league's best, posting a .323/.383/.564 line with 35 HR and 141 RBI.

What Went Wrong: Entropy has set in for this once-proud franchise, winners of 94-plus games for the league's first four seasons, including division titles in S3 and S4, but four seasons removed from their last above-.500 record. The Ranchers scored a franchise-worst 971 runs, the only time the club scored fewer than 1,000 runs in a season.

S8 Outlook: This team could use a change of scenery, a facelift or both. Aging stars like Gonzalez, Curt Bates and Emil Blanco offer some valuable trade chips to rebuild a thin farm system. Establishing a better ratio between runs scored and runs allowed is a must for this team's new owner.

Salem Warlocks
What Went Right: Armando Benitez set a franchise record for strikeouts and WHIP, with 155 and 1.41, respectively. 1B O.T. Jamison turned in another splendid season, posting a .308/.385/.516 line.

What Went Wrong: Everything else. While this franchise has seen worse seasons, the sting of a second consecutive heartbreak hurts more because better days had been in sight not so long ago.

S8 Outlook: Despite skidmark's yearly calls for a fire sale, no buyers can be found. The ghosts of previous absentee owners still haunt this franchise, which lacks even a single quality arm, and a system-wide power outage has handcuffed the offense. Given the dearth of desirable talent, the Warlocks might be best served by boosting payroll to sign quality FA or take on bad contracts in exchange for prospects.

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