The Cougars got a real bargain when they signed ace Jared Strickland to a contract extension ($33.2 mil over 4 years) but he is the only bright spot in a rotation that’s at best 2 deep. The bullpen will get a lot of work this year unless the Cougars make a deal to bring in another starter or 2. Youngster A J Christman looks ready to step into the rotation. Look for him to get a shot at starting soon.
The Cougars look like the plan is to play long ball this year. Eric Thomas, Hong-Chih Okajima, and Skeeter Peterson will all hit at least 30 HR’s. The question is will there be guys on base when the ball leaves the ballpark? But no lead is safe with this murders row but the Cougars need to find ways to put guys on ahead of the boppers.
Unless the Cougars fill the holes in their rotation, it will be a long year for this team.
Chicago Blue Demons
Lead by pitching phenom Hawk Wagner and RF D’Angelo Prieto, the Demons look to challenge for the division title this year. The lineup looks strong from top to bottom and should have no trouble putting up runs. And their starting 5 (oddly, 4 of their 5 starters are southpaws) should have their share of quality starts.
One question mark with the Demons is their bullpen. Randy Peterson is the best of a weak group and closer Vic Redmond should saves plenty of games…if the bullpen can get the game to him with a lead.
New York Red Storm
The Red Storm spent a lot of money on free agent pitcher Davey Diaz ($43.4 mil over 4 years) and are counting on him to lead the team to the post season in their first year.
This team will have little trouble scoring, lead by 1B Bubbles Haynes and 3B Adam Halter. Look for SS Warren Baker to have a break-out year on offense. The 26 year old rising star is just reaching his prime and will be a run producer in the middle of the Storm’s line-up for many years to come.
The Storm’s top 3 starting pitchers are as good as any top 3 in the league but the 4th and 5th starters spots may be troublesome. Strong bullpen work from the likes of Wes Crane and Francisco Delgado will be needed to keep the Storm in games where the 4th and 5th starters leave early but with their offense, they are never out of a game.
Look for the Storm to challege Chicago for the Division title.
If pitching is the key to winning in baseball, the Owls will do fine this year. Their rotation is solid. No real standouts. Just 5 solid starters that will get the game into the 6th or 7th on most days. The bullpen also looks solid. The only question mark is closer Zachrey O’Halloran. Many Tums will be eaten by the Owls coaching staff when the call is made for O’Halloran.
The Owls will probably not score as many runs are their division rivals, but with their pitching, they may not need to. Lead by DH Jimmy Mordecai, the offense will score runs in bunches with a nice mix of high OBP guys and boppers. Batting veteran star Steven Mecir 9th will jumpstart the offense the second time through the lineup.
SS Max Whitaker is a little lite in the glove for a SS and as a result will see a lot of errors this year.
If their pitching holds out, the Owls should see .500 and have an outside chance at a wildcard if either Chicago or New York stumble.