New York Dolls Roster: 25/25 96.3/105M
Offense Offensively this team could be one of the best young hitting teams all around. They feature Veteran Sluggers Matt Shave and Ken Springer, both who are capable of 40+ homeruns. Throw in young starters Sanchez, Escobar, and Sager and you have a potent lineup for the next 3-5 years.
Defense- Solid across the field. There are no true Centerfielders on the team but a good number of general athletes should cover that deficiency.
Pitching: 4 potential #1 starters on a team built on starting pitching. All are young and still getting better. Good luck scoring early on this team. The Middle reliever is equally as strong and competent, a team's only chance might be exposing a few cracks in the late bullpen where Sticky Rapp, Arias, and Mendoza do their pitching.
Prediction 107-55 there is no denying this team is built as a champion.
Norfolk Train Wrecks Roster: 22/25 58.4/61M
Offense the Loss of Charles Cole puts a hole in the offense and will mean the team needs to rely on Rookie LF Bert Jones who has spent the last 4 seasons at AAA. Scott Bowman, Scott Butler and Kevin Chaisson will have a lot more offense to provide this season. The team is in desperate need of another big bat to relieve someone of the pressure and give the lineup one more option at the plate. A trade brought the team AA prospect Duffy Hudek who should be very close to ML ready and could provide solid offensive numbers.
Defense: Chaisson lost a step and moved to 3B now that step is also disappearing, his bat is still good enough to keep him with the team, but I'm not sure if 3B is still the best place. There is no SS in the entire Norfolk system worth playing every day in the Bigs; they need outside help badly if they want to patch that hole.
Pitching 2 great young and ace quality starts throw in wily veterans Hooper and Dominguez and you have the makings of a great big four starting rotation, after that the quality drops fast for the 5 spot. The team has to hope they won't have to lean too heavily on that rotation spot and will be able to skip it a number of times to maximize the others and minimize the damage. The bullpen is made up of a lot of inexperience the team will again turn the 9th other to 2nd year man Van Poppell who had a rocky 1st season in the role. The pen will also start the season with 2 true rookies. This might be a very vulnerable pen to turn to in the late innings and might be a hitter's delight this season until they get their knocks.
Pittsburgh Pirates Roster: 21/25 71.6/86M
Offense: Adding Robert Shultz allows for a potent lineup down the middle with Ss Feliz, Schultz, Estrada and Sheehan. Shaggy Inglett needs to snap out of his funk if he wishes to continue playing. He has solid potential but has yet to translate that into a solid batting average and is striking out way too much to be a huge factor. If Shaggy turns in around the offense will be set and ready to roll on teams. Danny Ray?
Defense: a huge concern going into the season is the defense productivity of the unit, Feliz is no longer even an average SS and should be moved next year to 3B a huge concern for Shaggy Inglett who is stationed there now. Center field has no true candidates ready to hold down the position. Perry Wood seems to be at least a season away before he can offer even mid level help. With 4 open roster spots this is an area the Pirates need to focus. Also why is Danny Ray on this team?
Pitching The Starters are set behind Rookie sensation Rob Black, who pitched well in his debut last season and FA signee Magglio Salinas, Returning starters Amaral and Palacios both should pitch well enough on their days to keep the games competitive. Look for the breakdown to begin in the mid to late innings when the bullpen struggles to get the outs. Long Relief currently is dreadful all of Ted Gibbons, Louis Perez and Upshaw will struggle in that role and should be in AAA. This will put a lot of pressure on Neil Feliz and Coleman to maintain the lead or to close. Can Danny Ray Pitch?
Prediction 77-85 less when ever Danny Ray gets into the game.
Atlanta Braves Roster: 24/25 77.1/ 81M
Offense: Featuring almost the same lineup, Atlanta ran out in S16. Atlanta will be leaning heavily on Stars SS Jose Parks and 2B Gabby Sanford to breakthrough this season and produce. They also need CF Dickie Tartabull to continue to develop and not take a step back this season. All three are potential stars and a great foundation to build a team around. Atlanta just needs to get one more dependable bat to throw in the lineup every day.
Defense: Tartabull is not only the hits leader, but is also the defensive leader for Atlanta. He controls a huge territory in Centerfield and should take some pressure off the pitching the rest of the outfield can hold their own in the field. The infield defense is average all around, but does have a few holes to poke a ball through.
Pitching: The Addition of Xaio gives Atlanta a bullpen a needed 4th arm. Closer Pecina will be able to relax a little more knowing he might not have to come in, in as dire of a situation. Both Vega and Rizzo had success in their roles last season. Atlanta should now be comfortable if they get a lead going into the 6th inning. The Starters are still a work in progress Scooter Hernandez's 2-17 record is not an indicator on how well he truly pitcher in S16. He was practically lights out; the problem is he is not that good. Expect him to be a middle of the road guy with a mid 4 era and accept that as success. Tony Hujimoto
is still young but has a good grasp on pitching and should hit his spots better this season he should pick up some of the slack and improve his record. Doug Tobin takes Jarrett Dunn's place in the rotation, but doesn't add a whole lot to the mix. Williamson and Lawrence round out the below average rotation. Without a go to pitcher this group will struggle to get a lead and hold it.
Prediction 74-88 I think there is potential in the group, but until the rest of the pitching whoa get addressed and they add 1 killer hitter this team might just tread water.
Memphis Amon-Ra Roster: 25/25 70.4M/71M
Offense The World Series champs entered last season's playoffs with one of the lowest win totals, but blew through the competition. Did they use smoke and mirrors, no their record just never indicated how good the team was. Injuries to key offensive contributors Newman and Bolivar made the road a tough one, but the offense was able to piece enough wins together to get the team to the post season and blow through the competition. Memphis is a highly specialized team every player has a role. This season that cannot be any truer, Both SS Zorilla and CF Parent will not contribute much to the offense, but should be defensive stars. The team is quick and should steal a number of bases on opponents and make things happen, but they might struggle at times with the big hits with the loss of Power hitting CF Cyr. Memphis has to hope that AAA FA acquisition C Martin will add that pop they need.
Defense: hey is the best defensive unit in the league. No question about it they will steal the game with their on the field acrobatics. This is the unit that makes the pitchers look good.
Pitching the starting pitching in some of the best in the league. They are all south of 30 with excellent upsides, 2 rookies Adam James and Dan Smith will try to break camp gunning for the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation with S1 starter Alfonzo trying to hold his position. This will be a tight battle that ever loses get to be the long reliever on an already stacked pitching staff. The bullpen brings back almost all their arms lead by Closer Bob Thome who was superb last season. Pitching is the name of the game barring injury this will be a tough unit to face.
Monterrey Metros Roster: 23/25 76.5/78M
Offense: A team built around speed, but does not ignore power. The issue this team's offense had in S16 was a lot of 1 run rallies, Homeruns RBI only seem to happen with 1 or no one on base, An alarming and very odd trend 4 regular starts hit 20+ home runs and all fell shy of 100 RBI including Julio Rios who blasted 41 HR and still only batted in 99 Runs. To me this is a lineup that will be to be juggled to maximize those opportunities and knock in those runs. Spring training might be a good time to establish a batting order then continue tinkering throughout the first 2 weeks of the season. This lineup should be able to produce a lot of runs very quickly. The loss of Kurt Morgan is one of the strangest situations Toledo at the end of S16 basically traded Morgan's Type A rights to Monterrey who never attempted to add him to the roster.
Defense. Defense will have some holes at key positions SS and Cf both will be fielded by below average defenders, along with the regulars at 3B and 2B. This team will give up the runs on defense to the better hitting clubs.
Pitching- paid top dollar to add 2 new starters S16 Cy Young Winner Francis Charlton and Louis Gutierrez to compliment young studs Yarnell and Ortiz. The starting pitching should be strength this season and might give Memphis a run for their money as best in the division. The relief corp. Is led by two highly durable relievers Stretch Olsen and Butch Hamilton. Hamilton has been an effective closer the past 5 seasons, but his value might be better suited in an everyday reliever role just as a Setup A. He is capable of 100+ innings and is barely getting 45 innings a season. A Lot of missed opportunity to get him in games and use him in better situations. George Jordan might be the better overall closer with his skill set.
AUSTIN BUTCHERS Roster: 25/25 84.4/106M
Offense: fielding a very similar offense, hoping that another year under the young player's belts will make up the offense this season. Almanza, Mann and Parrish looked very good last season and should repeat their success, The lineup is built around great speed featuring not only Parrish, but Shaggy pride and #2 Career leader Hugh Prokopec (822 Career SB). This is a team that will burn you on the base path; it's just a matter of them getting on the base path. FA acquisition Tito Watson has 0 ML years under his belt and will be called on to provide a good amount of offense from the 5 or 8 hole in the lineup.
Defense: This is overall a strong defensive unit all fielders are close or above average for their position and should be among the league leaders in fielding, plus plays and ESPN highlights.
Pitching- Hi Telgheder and Calvin Coco played this team to a .500 record past season. They both showed they were big values for their contracts and put this team on the map. Thom Castillo played over his head and will not possible repeat that performance this season expects him to come crashing back to Earth this season. Tito Hicks will be put back into the rotation and given a shot to be that number 3 options, the rest of the rotation might be happier in AAA than on a ML team. This will be a tough season without at least 1 more solid starting pitcher to throw on the mound this season. The pen looks extremely weak without golden boy Albert Rincon. Late innings will be turned over to RP Benny Miller who has a solid S16, but will need help to get through the S17 season successfully.
Prediction 75-87 Step back without a proper bullpen.
Florida Sting Rays Roster: 24/25 70.2/88M
Offense: brought back the main core of starters and should be able to build on their successes and failures in S17. Long, Zoltan, and Rio are all better hitters than they showed in S16 and should be able to raise their batting averages even 5 more hits each would drive in a few more runs and contribute to 5 more wins for this team. Tony Lopez's days have passed yet he is still the clubhouse leader and led the team in batting average in S16, he shouldn't do that again but expect him to contribute his usual 20 dingers 90 RBI and .290 averages. I expect more out of these hitters and so does Florida. They should get it this season.
Defense: One of the best Defenses in the NL, Long and Zoltan are solid in their positions, 2B Cedeno is a bit weak, but his range should allow him to make a number of plays in the field others could make. Having all purpose Defensive subs Tim Ray on the team is a huge defensive Asset look for him to get into a lot of tight games and make the plays.
Pitching When 39 year old Lucas Neagle is the best the team has to offer for the starting rotation, you have a pitching problem, Rookies Gordon Potvin and Joaquin Andujar should be given a shot to start and might be able to give 5 strong innings, but they might not be quite developed enough to be effective starters. Jimmie Day is a Florida Icon and will bring in the fans because he's the man in Florida, but he is slipping in his years to a point where he is average at best. Starters Troy Carver and Darren Walker will have their moments, but are far from aces, they should be the Long Relief help, and here they might be the feature acts. The long relief is almost nonexistent, the manager will be afraid the hand the ball to these guys in any situation outside of mop up. Pedro Escabar returns after missing most of last season with an elbow injury, He should slide back into the closer job with no competition the only other Pen are is Paul Tobin who will serve as the primary setup man. The pen needs at least 2 more quality arms who can pitch extended innings.