1. Philadelphia Owls
2. New York Red Storm
3. Charleston Cougars
4. Chicago Blue Demons
Key Players Added: Bob Serrano, Enrique Fuentes
Key Players Lost: Jake Hardy, Kevin Takahashi, Louie Chang, Rico Sierra, Randy Osborne
Key Transactions: Signed Freddie Upshaw and Trace Dwyer to one year deals (Arb).
Rookies: Esteban Cordero earned a spot in the starting rotation. Hector Dupler will provide defensive relief in late innings.
Outlook: Charleston will have to decide quickly whether to fish or cut bait in a difficult division. One of the game’s dominant pitchers, Jared Strickland will lead the rotation and expects to regain his form after injury cut short his Season 8. Steve Meadows should continue to put up excellent numbers, but could be trade bait if the Cougars are not in the running at the All Star break.
Key Players Added:None
Key Players Lost: 1B Turner Roberts
Rookies to watch: P Tony Telemaco; P Raphael Ordonez; P Deivi Lee
The Blue Demons seem to be content to tread water this year and let their trio of SP's in AAA have one more year in the minors. Former 2x MVP D'Angelo Prieto returns for what is most likely his last season. RF Scott Boswell looks to be a year away from breaking out. The only point of interest we may see from the north side of Chicago this year is how many SB's will Jerry Knotts have?
Key Players Added: C Darrell Dyer, SS Vasco Mendoza, 1B/DH Haywood Bryant and SP Pat Gibbons.
Key Players Lost: SP Jason Workman
Key Transactions: C Darrell Dyer and SP Pat Gibbons for 2 young SP prospects.
Outlook: After finishing 2nd two season in a row, the Owls finally won the division title in season 8 and this season they made some changes to improve their team. First, the offense should be much better with the addition of C Darrell Dyer, SS Vasco Mendoza and 1B/DH Haywood Bryant, and second, the rotation that was strong last season should be better with the addition of the lefty Pat Gibbons. Of course Cy Young winner Domingo Servet and Fireman of the year Ismael Rios are back and we hope they can repeat.
With the addition of Dyer and Bryant to Duffy Curtis and Miller Kotsay The Owls will show a very solid line up especially in the middle of the order.
Key Players Added: Big Free Agent signings in New York: SS Kurt Patrick, RF Harry Minor, and SP Matthew Lennon have combined to make 11 All-Star teams, and both hitters have multiple Silver Slugger awards. Aging pitcher Del Barnes was brought back to NY where he enjoyed his best years, as well.
Key Players Lost: Monte Hall and his .687 OPS were not invited back. Crash Becker and Francis Hiljus left via free agency.
Key Transactions: The 3 FA signings mentioned above.
Rookies: Unless the team is devastated by injuries, they do not expect major contributions from their rookies.
Outlook: Keeping their core guys healthy is key, but if they are able to do that, the sky is the limit.