Norfolk 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
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