Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Season 20 1st Power Rankings

1 Chicago Wolves - Former #2 pick Todd Olerud (S15) looks start in his rookie season. "He showed us a lot in the spring, holding batters to under .200 BAA and his 4 Minor league Cy Young Awards probably are a little telling. We knew he could find success, but he has been a rock to lean on" said Bench Manager Felipe Julio.

2 Madison Massa's - The acquisition of Ray Wright has turned around the Massa rotation from last year's dismal performance. With Wright at #1 it allows them to pitch Tamura down in the rotation where he has excelled out of the spotlight.

3 Salt Lake City Prospectors- SLC has been a monster on the base paths with 27 stolen bases and only being caught 2 times. With inexperienced 1st and 3rd base coach who struggled in their playing days making good base running choices, this is hard to believe it will continue.

4 Colorado Springs Organizational Filler- Struggling this season to get pitches in the right place and hitters to swing and miss. 1st year Lee Sherman who coached AAA last season has been trying to get his finger on these guys all season.

5 Texas Tornadoes - Starting pitchers Diego Gomez and Vin Delgado are 2nd and 3rd in the league in strikeouts this season. They might be the dynamic duo in a tough hitter's park.

6 New York Dolls - HOF'er to be Mat Shave looks worn and it is becoming more difficult to find him time in the lineup with his .188 batting average a no power.

7. San Juan Saints - 10-3 on the road makes them the best road team. Only 3-3 at home shows they need to find that groove for the home crowd.

8. Memphis Amon-Ra - The Amon-Ra spend nearly 17M on bringing in Aaron Fox for 3 years and he looks every bit of 34 this season. He has been sluggish in the field and seems to be just hacking at the plate.

9. Minnesota Wobegon's - another season with a huge season ending injury to a big star, this time Sterling Daniels goes down with a major elbow injury. He will be shelved until season 21. Huge blow for a team that will be looking for a deep playoff run.

10. Colorado Mile High Club- 9 time all-star Del Prieto's spring training injury is most likely career threatening and will cost him any shot of getting 3ooo hits for his career. Sad end to a possibly a great Hall of Fame career.

11. Charlotte knights - LF Jimmie Miranda seems to be getting the green light again, if he keeps is batting average up he should beat his career high in Stolen bases this season.

12. Dover Doves – the 2 longest hitting streaks of the season belong to Dovers Matt Chouinard(16 games) and Valerio Guillen(17 for 17 games). Hitting has been impressive.

13. Cincinnati Ramrod – steady reliever Jeff Watson looks like he has lost something off his fastball and curve. Hitters seem to be reading him, league scouts believe he might be tipping his pitches by cheating in his stance to compensate for some lost velocity.

14. Pittsburgh Pirates – 3rd year starting pitcher Richie Hurst has responded well to pitching coach Felipe Dominguez's off-season workout regimen. His fastball looks unhittable to far this season. The team's ERA is a lead leading 2.86

15. Charleston Cougars - RP David Itou wasn't able to get anything started this season after a solid spring, he seemed to lose all confidence and was waived. Better luck in Cleveland.

16. St. Louis Twains – SP Eric Erickson continues to amaze me with his 4 years as at least average pitching. He has been able to keep St. Louis in all his games this season. Still waiting for the wheels to fall off this guy.

17. Helena Mail Order Cowboys - The cowboys are a combined record 9-63 in the minors. Cowboys need to take a look at the farm and protect some of their future investments. At least use Simmy.

18. Cleveland Spyders – After a down power year in S19 Jose Park seems to have reclaimed his swing already nailing 8 dingers in 18 games.

19. Burlington Ice Storm- DH David Johnson is playing himself out of a job, when your only job is hitting the ball you should probably bat better than .114 in 70 at bats.

20. Anaheim strasfigor- Fans in Anaheim are blowing up talk radio all over California about Everett Rodgers's fielding at SS, he just isn't getting to the hole quick enough and his throws are an adventure.

21. Cheyenne Marmots – P Dale Taylor has slid each year since his career year in S17. He struggled in spring training, but in his first 4 starts he was been beyond awful to the tune of 35 hits in 13 innings with an ERA of14.54. He will be skipped in the rotation until his mechanics are worked out.

22. Houston Stone Cold Killers – Houston fans are at a loss on what happened to steady setup man Livan Campos's arm. Some in the media are speculating he is hiding an injury and trying to pitch through it. The results have been awful, a .400 BAA and an ERA north of 11.

23. Norfolk Train Wrecks – SP Rudy Henry has had a tough start to the season, getting rocked in 3 of his 4 starts.

24. Atlanta Braves - 2B Robert Lundquist who has played sparingly through 4 seasons has broken out on the scene this season. Batting a league leading .429 after a spring where he batted .778. Playing like its little league for him. Experts point to his high strikeout total as an indicator his bubble might be short lived.

25. El Paso Massacre at Two Pines - RP Kelvin Shaw's season ended before it started in spring training, most scouts thought he was ML caliber before the injury and will wait to see how he bounces back before commenting on his future, but many proven Major leaguers would struggle to come back from that type of elbow injury and pitch at an ML level again.

26. Salem Slammers- Ace Angel Mateo's shoulder issues from S19 seem to be long since over as he has dominated the NL this season and has been the X factor for the Slammers.

27. Durham Bulls – 2nd year hitting coach Freddy Blauser spend the off season and the spring retooling CF Frank Yamamoto's swing to move Frank from concentrating on hitting for the fences to working more on contact and putting the ball in play. The results are lower power numbers and a .351 batting average to lead the Bulls.

28. Tampa Bay Guls - bullpen is getting a heavy workload pitching 43% of the innings this season in Tampa. They need to get the starters on track or there will be long range issues in August.

29. Philadelphia Stars - SP Johnny Powell has pitched well the past 2 seasons, but fan are getting frustrated that he's only going 4-5 innings a start. The Stars need to check on how to keep him in games longer to put less stress on the pen.

30. Seattle Fainting Goats –Starting rotation has an ERA of more than 6.50. Not going to last long for a rebuilt team.

31. Kansas City McCoys - I refuse to acknowledge that losing Mike Cox to injury in spring training is why this team can't win, but his replacements in the rotation have been stinking up the place pretty bad……so maybe.

32. Richmond James Gang – Pitching coach Banana Upshaw is trying to figure out why ace reliever Lonny Uribe is plunking guys to the tune of every 8 batters. Uribe seems to be guarding the plate like he is pitching in the 40's.

Monday, May 9, 2011

NL North/ AL North S20 Preview


Dover Doves: 6M over the cap coming into the season is not a position any team wants to be in. They might have to trade away a contract or transfer budget to make this team work as it stands. Defensively this is one of the better teams in the NL and should be able to make the pitching staff look better every day. They should be able to get away with a few more hanging curves than other teams can. The Offense has a few holes in the batting order, but they still feature former MVP Valerio Guillen and solid #5 guys Albert Oquist. Recently signed Footsie Long adds a whole other bag of tricks to the lineup and should offer a strong bat to the lineup. The pitching staff is wild at times with poor control over most of the starting staff. They will need to hope the defense can erase some of the extra base runners to make innings smoother.
Projected Finish: 86-76 2st Place
FA Rumors: Need to get their budget number down might do addition by subtraction or the Ai will do it for them.

Philadelphia Stars Offensively this is the best hitting club in the NL North and should be able to score runs easily. They might have issues in the field that will erase their offensive skill set. George Frazier is not a capable CF'er and might be better suited for 3B, but there is a log-jam at 3B capable players. Overall there is a nice corp of hitters to work with. A nice collection of starters mixed with 4A type pitcher for long relief. The Pen is going to need to get things sorted out to give Preston Guerrero a better company to work with. Those guys are littered in AAA with Preston Guerrero, and Andres Brogna and AA pitcher Charles Bang not even getting a look right now and sitting off the 40 man roster.
Projected Finish: 82-80 3rd Place they need to straighten out the prospects and bring up the right guys and this team has a new look
FA Rumors: Talent is in place they need to promote from within.

Cincinnati Ramrod currently carrying 16 pitchers on a NL team. This is about 3 to many for the NL in my Opinion and cuts the bench short, limiting what Cinci can do at the plate. The core base of hitters is solid with both good defenders and elite level hitters, there are definite holes at CF and they could use one role player off the bench. Using some 0of the excess pitching and packaging it could land that starter or bench player. There are still a number of guys in Free Agency that fill that need as well. There isn't much of a farm ready guy to lean on to fill either role right now.

Projected Finish: 88-74 1st Place
FA Rumors: CF Heath Peterman (L) or a poor man's version Jason Tankersley (L) would be of interest

St. Louis Twains the Twain has a numbers of guys coming down the pipe, but more than likely are at least 1 season away from regular ML action. The offense is fast, but very light hitting outside of FA acquisition , The Pitching staff is sub-standard and will struggle in a tough NL and be eaten alive with Al hitting. This is a team that is just biding its time until all its top picks starting cashing in.
Projected Finish: 72-90
FA Rumors: have the money to target another bat and maybe an upgraded arm for both the starters and the pen, they just need to shuffle the roster some to make room, night is a move or 2 during spring training.


Seattle Fainting Goats - Have to like the aggressive take on free agency they brought in talented 2B Mendy Barfield , and a few key veterans in 3B Tony Jacquez and CF Sean Swan. The help they need now is all on the pitching side, they have a serviceable starting rotation, but it has weakness toward the backend and a solid 8-9th inning punch, but they lack the meat in the middle of the pitching staff. AA pitcher Bo Rothschild might fill part of that need. The free Agency frenzy does one good thing small term contracts that leave room for the future to step into starting roles next year and the year following without having a veteran block the road.
Projected Finish: 80-82 3rd Place
FA Rumors: Might try to land 1 more cheap end long reliever and an insurance starter such as Ralph Ainsworth , Vince Sheets or Brandon Roosevelt.

Madison Massa's Lost a number of bench players along with ½ last season's starting pitching corp, yet this team might have improved through the subtraction. A new corp of pitchers were brought in with Ray Wright taking the #1 spot, Hitting will take a bit of a slide with the aging of key veteran Craig Cooper. The Massa's need to find a starting SS or look to Jeromy Sele who is coming off a huge injury and has no ML experience. Pitching should have improved enough to keep Madison in the conversation another season
Projected Finish: 88-74 2nd Place
FA Rumors: Has to be looking at bringing back SS Daniel Young or another high caliber option, Could use another pitcher for insurance.

Burlington Ice Storm (AL) Swing for the fences type lineup in a big park, they are all or nothing batters, mixed in with some young guns. Alex Lucano seems rushed this season after only 1 year in the minors, I would have liked to see him get more seasoning before the call-up but he does have ML skills to offer right now. With only 9 pitchers on the team and 6 open spots they have the space to make some nice FA ads. They need to target 1 more starter and a few more dependable bullpen arms. I more consistent hitter would not hurt the team either.
Projected Finish: 70-92
FA Rumors: LRP Roy Robinson, RP Ricardo Lee or RP Howard Neal should all get looks

Minnesota Wobegon's Like Madison this is a team that can hit, but they can also pitch with young home grown talent like , Damaso Martinez, Sterling Daniels, Antonio Lankford, and Steven Adcock this could be the toughest rotation in the Al. They should have won the Al North last season, but injuries derailed the team and allowed Madison to slip ahead. I would not expect this to happen again. Both injuries the team still carries should be cleared early in the season. When that's done expect the Wobegon to be unstoppable and all this for under 50M not to bad.
Projected Finish: 90-72 1st Place
FA Rumors: Should be quiet might move aging talent to make room for the young guns to get more Abs

Sunday, May 8, 2011

NL and AL EAST S20 Preview


k Train Wrecks: Incredible depth on the farm proves the future will be bright in Norfolk. They should be able to bring up a few guys this season such as SS Al Encarnacion who should take over the SS duties. There are a few other positional guys who might challenge for a role in the future or be solid trade pieces to bring in a few top end arms. Prospect SP Joshua Quinn might be ready now to wow the Norfolk crowds with his amazing stuff and RP Larry High is equally as talented and ready. They would join a formidable rotation combo of Trenidad O'Donnell and Rudy Henry. Norfolk still needs to invest in free agency or by trade in one more top end arm for the rotation and a few fillers to round out the pitching staff. Next season this team might be the one to beat with the right moves.

Projected Finish: 75-87 3rd place

FA Rumors: Could be looking at Angel Mateo (R), or Jesus Azocar

New York Dolls- should have to make many moves to stay on top of the division this season. They have talent across the boards and already have a thick payroll which they might be cautious to add to. They might actually try to cut the bloated contract of Matt Shave who is at most a figurehead in this league now, but bundling him with a young guy might bring in a lot of value for the future. The pitching staff is still one of the top 3 in the NL, but is getting long in the tooth. Look for New York to make a few minor moves in Free agency to shore up the backend, but nothing to life changing in Free agency. They have a loaded AAA with pitchers that New York needs to make decisions on or let their value waste away.

Projected Finish: 95-67 1st Place

FA Rumor: might target a few middle end relievers or a bottom end starter on a 1 year contract.

Pittsburgh Pirates- The starters are pretty close to being settled and just could be upgraded when they have the right fit to do so. Holes at C and in the bullpen could be filled with relatively low cost and short-term contracts. The farm has a few arms ready to offer some service in the short-term. Overall the starters are flawed, but can be serviceable as they get replaced by better players. The pitching staff is helmed by one of the best young talents in the NL in Lew Crosby 72/86

Projected Finish: 78-84 2nd Place

FA rumors: Have to be looking at bench help to make their corps stronger, might be late Free agency frenzy on good players looking for 1 year deals. Should also take a flyer on RP's Tarrik McGee (L), Howard Neal (R), and Albert Rincon

Atlanta Braves- One of the better pitching staffs in the league that get no respect. They can do almost everything that is asked of them and then some. Also a plus is most are young and only getting better. The offense is a mixed bag there are some solid guns in the lineup such as the outfield trio of Edgar Nunez (speed) Dickie Tartabull( 5 tool guy) and Theodore Grace( 5 tool guy) along with Bonk White. The issue is Bonk really shouldn't be at shortstop and where do you play him with the outfield blocked at 5 other players who fight for time between 2nd and 3. Atlanta is going to have to take a serious look at bringing in one of the Shortstop free agents and accessing the rest of the lineup to get this area straightened out. 1 more starter would also complete the rotation. Doing this all on 10M might be a challenge, they might instead rush Buck Smith to the ML, he is pretty close to being ready and the increased competition might get him there.

Projected Finish: 74-88 4th Place

FA Rumors: SS Aaron Fox, Paul Murata, and Daniel Young have all visited recently

AL East

Cleveland Spyders - Don't have the money in the budget to bring back both Al Frazier and Heath Peterman, but there is no heir apparent either. This bigs a huge hole in the center of a onetime killer offense. With only 20 million to work with Cleveland will probably go after the younger Peterman and look to plug in replacement parts at SS. The Spyders also have to fill in chucks in the rotation and in the bullpen to be able to compete at a high level. I think this will be a down year where they might have too much to overcome to make a go of it. Time to sell off the valuable pieces and retool for the future.

Projected Finish: 81-81 3rd Place

FA Rumors: Have been in contact with both Frazier and Peterman, also scouting out cheap options for SS and the pitching staff. Should be active in trade talks.

Chicago Wolves- Top rated Offensive juggernaut this team is fit from top to bottom with only small cracks to fill around the edges. Lost only minor bullpen guys who should be easily replaced by either minor league talent or a minor talent trade. Chicago has little cap room to work with and might have to swing a creative trade to ease some of their salary burden and field a competitive team. One injury could wreak havoc on this team.

Projected Finish 100-62 1st Place

FA Rumors: More likely to swing a trade packaging Jacquez or Lee for cheaper options.

Durham Bulls - Plenty of money to fill their holes and build around the young pieces already on the team. SS Woodie Gross and A.J. Rollins along with superstar left fielder Emmanuel Horton. They have a solid pitching core, but could use a few more dependable starters to complement the staff. The farm has a learning curve and they don't have a lot of pitching help so to free agency they will turn. Would like to see at least a pair of arms brought in to compete with existing starters and maybe push them back into the minors.

Projected Finish: 84-78 2nd Place

FA Rumors: SP Royce Hurst or Jeremy Linden would be cheap fits

Charleston Cougars- Hugh Richardson had a tough season last year only putting up 10 starts and spending most of the season on the DL. He is joined with a weak starting rotation who will struggle they need to find a way to get Omar Ramirez into the rotation. CF Oswaldo Jacquez might be the only defensive guy on this team. It's going to be tough to watch this team flop around the field after the ball. In truth there are 5 guys who could be low level catchers or 1B men. This is a team that can do damage at the plate, but combine a poor pitching staff with a sub-par defense and this will be dreadful. SS Prospect Julio Mota can't get here soon enough.

Projected Finish 69-93 4th Place

FA Rumor: SS Daniel Young remains unsigned in a bidding war. CF Heath Peterman (L) would upgrade 2nd Base SP Angel Mateo (R) and Brandon Roosevelt (R) would be interesting picks and upgrades.

Friday, May 6, 2011

NL/AL West Preview


Cheyenne Marmots-
a year older and many of the veterans are starting to slip considerably. With a division chalked full of young talent they might find themselves struggling to slip into the playoffs again. That being said Cheyenne is still featuring one of the better pitching staffs in the NL and if I have learned anything from NL play it's having a great pitching staff will put you near the top. Still this is the downward swing of a mighty team and they might find themselves on the wrong side of a tough division. They have a lot of ready talent on the farm both in pitching with the likes of SP Jimmie Perez and RPs Vicente Cruz and Javier Fernandez. They also have a few clutch hitters to look at in RF Quilvio Cabrera (AAA) 1B B.J. Leach (AA) and 1B Donaldo James (AAA). They could translate into fine players for Cheyenne in the future.
Projected Finish: 90-72 4th Place
FA Rumors: should spend a little time to pluck up a middle of the road reliever on the cheap to solidify one more run or stay put and draw from a stocked farm system.

Colorado Mile High Club- One of the better NL Hitting clubs, they take advantage of the Colorado air to power across their runs. Not a team that's shy about bringing up prospects early, Colorado is known to throw their stars to the fire at first chance to maximize their value for the big club. With this strategy come some growing pains as players learn their positions, o how to pitch on the job. This might be the 1st season where this all some together with elite feel. They have elite hitters in Lucas Martin, Terry White, Jose Pena and Delino Frias. Along with Ace Yorvit Vincente they have a good chance of sticking close and letting the offense take over early. Colorado does have a misfit bullpen that will need to find a few steadier hands. In the past they have had success plucking old veteran relievers to fill this void.
Projected Finish: 2nd Place 94-68
FA Rumor: Sp Damian Carter (L) Might be insurance, RP's Benny Miller, Orlando Martinez, Bruce Spencer, and Ellis Watson should send flyers.

Colorado Springs Organizational Filler- Similar to Colorado in Offense, but more refined. Their top end might not be as high, but they do well at what they bring to the table. Defensively this is a subpar unit with some major deficiencies in the starting unit. The pitching staff can hide many of these issues with the pure domination that Valdez can be. CSP also features one of the most dominating Bullpens in the league. If anyone struggles I'm sure the Fillers have no worries when the bullpen gets the call.
Projected Finish 1st place 96-66
FA Rumor: Could make a play at oft-injured CF Sean Swan or Defensively minded Brad Finnessey and still land an insurance pitcher.

Salem Slammers: losing a lot of starters to FA this season and will have fill holes at SS,3B and OF along with gaping holes in pitching. The good news is most of this can be handled internally with SS Edinson Maradona and RF Jacob DiFelice close to being ready. Add in a farm system which is loaded with bullpen help and a few shining stars in the starting ranks, Orber Leon, and in reality Salem might need to go after 1 or 2 starters.
Projected Finish: 3rd Place 90-72
FA Rumors: SS Aaron Fox's number is in the rolodex already if they can get him at the right price. Might make a run at SS Daniel Young, but SP Ray Wright seems the most logical fit.


Salt Lake City Prospectors- World Series champions don't need to add much to stay near the top. The offense is set with the exception of Right Field which will be an open competition between Farm talent RF Len Willis and CF Rafael Rosario or a Free agent veteran. The pitching staff is one of the best in the Al Led by back to back CY Young winner Ryan Perry and a crew of capable starters. Most of the league is still waiting for the bubble to burst on Hector Tarasco, but he has averaged no less than a 3.9 Era with 17 wins a season in Salt Lake. Damn Mormon Prayers!
Projected Finish: 99-63
FA Rumors: Carlos Feliz, Mendy Barfield, or Tony Jacquez

Helena Mail Order Cowboys - Find themselves a pair of aces short in the rotation with the potential exit of both Ray Wright and Max Estrada. They need to fill those holes who even though they played in S19 still only guided this team to a below .500 record. Not bringing much up from the farm to help in the field or on the mound. They will need to gather at least one more hitter to compliment the combo of Vic Castilla and Jose Frias if they want to bring success to Helena. They will also need to score at least 1 pitcher to solidify the rotation. Not a lot of cap room to do all that
Projected Finish 2nd 77-85
FA Rumors: Ray Wright or Max Estrada both has homes in the Area, but Jeremy Linden might be a short term fix until a direction is found. Might entertain an idea to give Carlos Hernandez or Minnie Coleman a shot to compete on the cheap.

Kansas City McCoys - The McCoys have money to burn and lot of holes to fill. Without fear of losing a 1st round pick they might make a huge splash in Free Agency. They have holes almost everywhere though. , but primarily they might target a top end starting pitcher and an elite level hitter and defender. Still there are too many players on the wrong side of 30 and not enough money or farm hands to cover everything this season. The farm does have a few talent ready guys in RF Gregg Washington and SP Darron Gross who should get plenty of ML time. If KC can make a big signing, they could climb but the standings and play around .500 ball.
Projected Finish: 70-92 3rd place
FA Rumors: Big push for CF Heath Peterman and 2B Mendy Barfield. SP's Angel Mateo, Ray Wright and Everett Ritz Classic's in KC Blue might also get some love such as Jeremy Linden

Anaheim strasfigor- They have hitting talent, but many of their best hitters stare at the wrong side of 30 and are on the decline. All-Star Everett Rodgers struggles in the field at SS and needs to move and open up the position for someone who can field it. The real problem is the pitching who season after season struggles to get the ball consistently over the plate, with an average skilled pitching staff location means the difference between a slow grounder and a whopping homerun. The defense doesn't do the pitching staff any favors when the ball is put into easy play. Without 1 or 2 more solid pitchers this team will again struggle to see .500
Projected Finish: 68-94 4th Place
FA Rumors: SP Angel Mateo or Royce Hurst would look solid.

NL/AL South Preview


Memphis Amon-Ra- returning basically the same team from season 19 minus 2 starters in Eugene Walker and Jimmy Christiansen. Both 5 years ago would have been huge losses at this point it is time to look elsewhere in Memphis. It will not take a lot of cash to plug the holes and make this team a near 100 win team. Watch for them to use some of the freed up Walker money (18.1M) and go after a big name to protect oft-injured CF James Jefferies. The pitching staff somehow always gets the job done, though they lack a natural ace and should look a lot worse on the mound than they do, credit the coaching for putting these guys in the right place to win.
Projected Finish: 1st Place 99-63
FA Rumors: CF'ers Heath Peterman and Candy Zoltan could be a good fit

El Paso Massacre at Two Pines- Hi Telgheder looked solid in mixed relief last season, but at $20M you hope to have him starting and winning. Hi isn't that player anymore and his best use might be out of the pen throwing flames after the 5th inning and closing games. The pitching staff in general is veteran talent, but really needs another Hi to tandem him with to complete the rotation puzzle. C Eddie Duncan is not elite, but is a nice role player who should be resigned. The offense is a solid group and with some tweaking could be very competitive in the NL.
Projected Finish: 2nd Place 84-78
FA Rumors: SP Ray Wright and Everett Ritz could get a couple looks El Paso also should take a flier on closers Albert Rincon and Neil Young

Charlotte Knights- one of the better intact pitching staffs with a combination of veteran skill and up-and-coming talent. They have a number of offensive and defensive holes which will need to be addressed in the off-season. Look for Charlotte to make a run at one of the elite CF free agents such as Candy Zoltan or Heath Peterman. One of those guys will change the look of this offense in an instant. Also look for Charlotte to give a pair of kids a shot at starting this season with both LF/1B Thomas Kipling and Rp Andrew Bacsik ready to go. Kipling could be an above average option at 1B and eventually replace Miranda at LF.
Projected Finish: 3rd Place 80-82
FA Rumor: Peterman, Zoltan and Catchers Yorvit Cortes, or Wascar Solano would be nice pieces.

Tampa Bay Guls- the Tampa Bay Guls are not as bad as last season's record indicated. They have a better pitching staff than last season's league worst ERA and record indicates, though they are far from upper half of the league. Tampa sits at the crossroads of baseball they can go big and try to burst out of the hole, or they can play for the future with a chip on their shoulder for the future. Looking at their talent level and farm system, it might be best to crack out the lipstick and apply it to this pig. A few short-term fixes and a long range plan would turn this franchise around in 2-3 seasons and put this team on the map again.
Projected Finish: 4th Place 68-94
FA Rumor: shortterm contracts nothing more than 2 years fillers to get the team through the rough patch


Houston Stone Cold Killers-
Plenty of firepower to outman the competition. Houston had an unexpected early exit from the playoffs after winning 99. Young and fit the offense can do almost everything that is asked of them at any given situation. The pitching staff is helmed by a pair of inexperienced hurlers Tony Sweeney and Brian Iwazaki, both would be better off being down a spot in the rotation and having another guy ahead of them to lean on in the huge games. Pitching itself in Houston is holier than Swiss cheese. Although there isn't one weak player there is a very definite lack of depth to work with. A big decision needs to be made about Daisuke Yoon's future after spend a season in AAA to work out mechanics issues. Is he a guy who can help in the pen or still a huge head case?
Projected finish: 1st Place 96-66
FA Rumors: SP Ray Wright or Everett Ritz might be in the mix, but they could settle for cheaper option Willie Hamill

San Juan Saints: Not a lot of room in payroll to make many moves if any of significant. Lost a few role players and one starter in Brian Mouton, but all the parts are replaceable. They are going to miss Sean Swan and his bandaged knees on the bench, because someone will take a chance on those rickety knees and give him a shot for value. San Juan will need to somehow find at least an insurance pitcher and 1 more defensive guy for the bench at almost no cost; they could look to the farm and bring up Utility SS Tyler Boyd who held a similar role in S18 for their World championship team.
Projected Finish: 95-77 2nd Place
FA Rumors: Going to look for a last minute bargain pitchers to have just in case, going to back and see who falls to them.

Texas Tornadoes: Looks to return mostly the same team and should give Texas roughly the same results. The team has elite hitters in the heart of the order led by 3B Aurelio Espada and SS Jared Malone. But there is a lot of youth that are growing into their positions including Malone. There are also a lot of defensive black holes in the field that will make the young and growing pitchers look worse on paper than they might with an average defensive team. The pitching staff could develop to be one of the top 5 in the AL very soon.
Projected Finish: 86-76 3rd Place
FA Rumor: They have to have their eyes on a closer like Neil Young to move Benito Cortez out of the role where he struggled in S19 and back to the setup role he has thrived in.

Richmond James Gang- have to be considering bringing make2B Joe Norton or have another option at 2B or CF in mind. This will be a very huge hole in the defense if they can't find the right guy. There is a need for this guy to be able to drive in runs and offer a little damage at the plate. Scott Rose is also a ghost of a player and might be offer a better legacy off the bench than as the starter at 3B. Losing C/DH Johnnie Richie might be a huge loss for another team, but in Richmond it is a position of strength. They might look to resign him if they do a sign and trade with another team. Pitching in Richmond has been a train wreck. Beyond Ruben Alonso the rotation is piecemeal. There will be moments of brilliants from a few, but mostly disappointment. Last season's experiment with Ubber reliever Lonny Uribe had mixed results. He started 56 games and pitched well but averaged only 3 innings a start and didn't seem to make a lot of difference. His biggest asset might be coming in from the 6-8th inning and closing the door. Richmond will have to invest in starters for that to be a reality. Uribe is more of a luxury that they have teams love than a player a have-not team works around. His value may never be higher and his best asset might be being traded away for the pieces this team does need. A lot of farm decisions to make with guys sitting in AAA who might be able to contribute now but are blocked. Love to see RP Tony Matos get his spotlight this season.
Projected finish: 74-88 4th Place
FA Rumors: they can afford to go after any of the top starters, but might settle on fillers as they have a few farm hands that will be ready to roll in 1-2 seasons. Led by S17 #3 picks Javier Gonzalez. Look for them to make minor moves for 3B Carlos Feliz (R) CF Sean Swan (R) 2B Max Leary (L) SP Jeremy Linden (L) SP Pablo Javier (R)