Memphis Amon-Ra - Add Aaron Fox and Vic Castilla to lead the lineup and they brought back the World Series trophy. Fox Struggled during the season batting a measly .225, his worst career year. He was a changed man in the post season batting .321 with 5 HR and 17 Runs, allowing the fans to forget his struggles during the season. . Still has not been a full season in the books for injury prone CF James Jefferies, if he puts in a full season this team will be a monster. Staff ace Osvaldo Azocar is coming off a down year where he couldn't buy a win and seemed to be tipping his pitches to opponents. The rest of the staff seems to adjust well to the rotation with Alvin Cameron, Mike Fitzgerald, Albert Hernandez and Albert Montanez taking regular turns in the rotation. Efrain Borland and Cesar Alfonzo have been easily excitable in long relieve and both tend to over throw the ball and miss the strike zone in tight games. Memphis might look here as an area to upgrade. The Pen returns most of their key members including Closer Bob Thome. Setup man Jack Floyd regressed last season and might be in jeopardy of losing his role in the spring. Watch for Memphis to audition a few free agents and bring in 1 more arm to upgrade the pen.
Projected Finish: 1st Place 94-68
FA Rumors: looking for a 3B and Setup help on a shoestring budget
Louisville Lions -Rookie CF Blade Duncan looked spectacular until an ankle injury sidelinedhim for the last ¼ of the season. He is back and at full health starting this season. Add in youthful guys 2B Alex Kwon and C Juan Cervantes and you have a solid core to build around. There are deep holes at 3B; Where Louisville will give CF prospect Thom Rose a go at converting positions as he is blocked behind Duncan. The corner outfield positions are wide open competitions. Farm hands Julian Teheran, Steve Norton, and Steve Norton. Louisville could also bring back Damaso Mota to the ML. Most likely we will see a few Free agents brought in to solidify the lineup for the next few season since the farm is pretty bleak after Rose. The rotation is set 1 through 3 with Troy Carver, Eduardo Mercado and Calvin Coco. The rest of the rotation is tentatively Emilio Lee and, but both could be pushed by new comer Roy Ransom. Long Reliever Matt Fitzgerald could be a real asset if his work is controlled and he is not asked to over pitch on his fragile arm. The bullpen returns most of their arms with a huge upgrade at closer. Bringing in Benito Cortez on a 3 year contract to solidify the unit. Cortez commanded a large contract and signed early indicating the Lions might have overpaid for his services some, but if he can continue his late game heroics he will be worth every penny.
Projected Finish: 2nd Place 82-80
FA Rumors: Corner outfielders, upgrade at pitching long relief
Projected Finish: 3rd Place 72-90
FA Rumor: SS and CF need to be addressed first then adding pitching depth in the rotation if there is money left.
Mexico City Reds- New ownership might bring fresh life to a dismal team. Outside of rookie of the year SS Javier Ortiz, there are not many bright spots on the ML roster. 1B Fausto Rodriguez looked lost at 1B, but his bat might be too valuable right now to move him without an offensive replacement. Those replacement options might be in the minors with Clyde Kirby and Pascual DeLeon waiting in AAA. Someone is going to have to be traded to an AL team to get some value of these defensively challenged players. Dale Malone runs well enough to hold his position and should again return as the leadoff man and Bartolo Guzman (ML) is a fine defensive catcher, but the rest of the cabinet is bare. The minors have many 4A type players ready to go such as Peter Miles who features solid defense and speed, and LF Bubba Leonard who was recently added to the 40 man roster and could offer some pop to the lineup. The Reds might have to look at accelerating the timetable on AA phenom Miguel Blanco who can offer an offensive upgrade right now, but still have a lot of learning to do about hitting everyday ML pitching. This will be a tough challenge for the Reds in the Spring. The Rotation has its ace in Potvin, but there is little else right now. Closer Eddie Bruce is the only other notable pitcher, and he struggled in S20 and will continue to struggle with everyday closer responsibilities. The farmhands are at least 2 seasons away from being able to compete at an ML level. The reds can bring up and audition AA arms Jose Nunez and Frank Hammel, but neither is the answer. They could also rush Troy Corbin who is close, but still will struggle right now in prime time guys who can fill in for a 2 season window in Free Agency without blocking their prospects with huge contracts.
Projected Finish 4th Place 65-97
FA Rumor: Need to fill almost all positions without breaking the bank discount end of signing period pieces to make a lineup until the real talent arrives.
Houston Stone Cold Killers- Returns about the same team that won the Al last season. There is no surprise here; Houston has one of the top offenses in the league. Neil Robinson might be the best pure hitter in the league and he is surrounding by talent up and down the lineup. Defensively they get the job done. They will be even harder this season where they got swept out of the World Series by the more experienced Memphis. Watch for the a jump in the standings.Sweeny and Iwazaki both performed well as a 1-2 punch in the rotation, but they might be the product of this great offense which lets them pitch without much pressure. Add in Geoffery Frank and Winston Franco and the rotation is close to being set starting the 21st season. The Killers could look a number of places to fill the 5th spot. Farm Hands like Bruce Trammell and Darrin Connelly will both get looks in the spring and both could end up on the team come the start of the season. Dark Horse pitcher Brad Nelson could also turn some heads, but he is more than likely not going to be rushed into action with the solid rotation already in front of him. The Pen returns everyone including Closer Karim Espinosa; they will again be a tough group to hit on. The Killers are in a good position on the farm to deal away some pieces to bring in better arms and upgrade position for the future. CF prospects Milt Radmanovich (AAA) and Vern Meluskey (AAA) might not be superstars but they could be starting for another team and bring some return value for Houston. RF Lawrence Hutton might also be in that same situation.
Projected finish: 1st Place 99-63
FA Rumors: most likely will stay put might deal some pieces in the minors for younger farm talent.
San Juan Saints: Got to love the middle of the lineup with killer swatters Sven Kinkade and Glenn Lemon along with Kurt Morgan. This is a rounded lineup with a few holes in the outfield and possible a chance to upgrade at a few spots in the lineup. They should be fine without spending much bank as they should have a healthy Ivan Spehr back. Mike DeJean, Pedro James, and Neifi Lopez all will return to a solid rotation. Tito Chang should move to long relief or have less pressure on him to pitch more than 5 innings a game. He just wears out to quickly to be a starter anymore. Rookie SP D'Angelo Trinidad could get a shot at starting this season without much competition. Rookie RP Dwight Black could be the new closer if he can beat out Jim Small. Small though is going to fight for that position. Nothing wrong with having both in a great Bullpen Lineup.
Projected Finish: 91-71 3rd Place
FA Rumors: Utility help and another arm for the Rotation.
Texas Tornadoes: The lineup is veteran strong with a few young elite stars. 2B Enrique Alvarezis ready for a full season of action and should really show this season what he's worth. 9M star Edgardo Trinidad could be looking for another home if Alvarezis can win the job outright. 3B Jared Malone and Yadier Lopez both will be learning on the job, which should not be any issue or drop in talent. Ace Diego Gomez made huge strides in the rotation last season and should continue to be a dominating threat this season. Add in Vin Delgado, and Davey Gonzalez and the big 3 are top flight. The 4th and 5 slots might be up for grabs between incumbents Danny Young, Barney Russ, Yamil Servet and Bert Sosa with farm hands Lariel Limon and Andrew Workman. The losers of this competition might not go far end up in the pen as long relievers. Newly signed closer Diego Cruz will take over the closer duties and hope to rebound after a tough S20. He is joined by returning pen hogs Julio Arias and Armando Segui. Not sure this team can maintain their dominance, but they should be very good again.
Projected Finish: 98-64 2nd Place
FA Rumor: Pen help utility pretty complete team.
Monterrey Banditos – Offense has been improved, but there still are some offensive holes. An upgrade at CF would be nice as Wilkins might be a better role player where the team can still benefit from his speed. 3B is also a place where the team could use some fresh blood. Hatcher and Rose are both just shadows of what they were and are holding on to hopes of reclaiming their former glory. Offensively this team is one of the few which doesn't feature an everyday superstar. It will be difficult to get the offense going without that lean to bat this season. The Rotation has an ace in Javier Gonzalez, who should get a full season to show his skills. #2 men Ruben Alonso should also be able to resume his slid S20 with a mid-4 era and solid effort. The rest of the lineup will welcome in Achilles Perez and have an open competition for the final 2 spots. Between incumbent Stephen Smith, and any Free agent pickups. The Banditos need to address pitching through free agency.
Projected finish: 71-91 4th Place
FA Rumors: Need a 3B and starting pitching