Saturday, February 5, 2011


As we wind down toward the end of S10, the playoffs are proving once again that anything can happen here in Shoeless Joe World. We saw the crumbling of a dynasty as three time Defending Champs Rochester got knocked out. We saw new teams begin their quest toward a World Series title. It's quite normal to be so involved in your own franchise, that you may (or may not) be too familiar with the remaining four teams. So here there are, in no particular order.

The Boston Stricken Gods, despite not making the playoffs every season, have been a model of solid consistency. They've won at least 83 games for 6 straight seasons, which also includes 3 NL East Division titles. Their offense is led by Billy Lamb, who is having another career season. As Lamb goes, so goes the Stricken Gods. However, for Boston to make a WS run, they'll need contributions from others not named Billy Lamb. Tomas Nieves and Paul O'Donnell especially come to mind. They're set pitching wise, as the 1-2 ace duo of Matt Perez and Jose Fernandez won't disappoint. If their bullpen can hold leads (that's a big IF), then their premier closer Felipe Navarro will nail home the win.

The Pawtucket Fire Cats finally broke through the New York Nipper chokehold and won the AL East Division for the second time in SJ history. On paper, Pawtucket may have the most impressive team left in the playoffs. Don Alexander has been excellent, Andres Tatis has delivered in the clutch, and Valerio Owen has the capability to be a game changer. They are extremely deep off the bench, with the likes of Hector Rodriguez and Robert Henley making key appearances. Keep an eye on Felix Rocker to see if his injury will affect him or not. They have one heck of a rotation with Miguel Pena, Pablo Ramirez, and Al Lopez. And if there's a late lead, you can guarantee that Tony Ferrer will bring the win home.

Here's the sleeper, folks. The one team you really didn't expect to see this far. Not because they aren't good, but because of their matchup with Rochester. However, they did the unthinkable and knocked out the 3-time Defending Champs. This team is good. Real good. This team was quietly built up, and now they're ready to unleash their fury. Offensively, Derrek Dodson leads this team. We knew he'd be a stud ever since he was picked in the 1st round back in S3. Acquiring Rob Sexton from Philadelphia was a shrewd move, and Mandy Adkinson is having a career year. Another great acquisition was picking up stud Diego Hernandez from Jackson. He could play a big part in their next series. They've got the arms too, folks. Vicente Trevino is having another fantastic season. Hideo Yoshii will be counted on heavily, as well as former CY YOUNG winner Aaron Porter. Despite the high ERA, closer Robin Stanley has shown that he has the skills to shut the door on the competition.

And finally, we come to the Salem Lights. The Lights have been in the LCS round 5 out of the last 7 seasons. Normally, Salem would roll through the regular season and coast into the playoffs. In S10, not so much. They struggled to stay over .500 for practically the entire season. If it wasn't for a W16 they posted at the end, they may have missed the playoffs altogether. Salem was heavily criticized for tinkering too much with their roster. Getting rid of the likes of Bill Barkley, Teddy Hubbard, and Wesley Brow, not too many fans were high on the Lights. However, here they are once again. The old standbys are delivering on offense.. Geronimo Elcano and Santo Rijo. Derrick Duckworth and Wilkin Romero had outstanding rookie campaigns, and David Galarraga filled in admirably for the injured Denny Gaston. As always, there wasn't one pitcher who was overwhelmingly better than the rest. They have a solid rotation with Freddie Foster, Tomas Ramirez, and Gus Keagle. The bullpen tandem of George Garcia and Jaime Jefferies are ready once again, and closer Dwight Johnson hopes to rebound from his shaky regular season.

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