My Take: Its never easy playing in the same division with a team that boasted one of the top records in NCAA last season and played slightly under their expected winning pct. Philadelphia looks to add onto their 3 straight divisional titles (tied in season 8). Charleston and Chicago are both very excited about some rookies that will be added to the mix, but they probably still need some more time to develop a nucleus to challenge for a wild card spot, let alone the division. The Red Storm's record has declined each of the last 3 seasons so the decision has to be made soon to tear it down or is management confident they'll reverse the trend?
1. Philadelphia Owls
2. New York Red Storm
3. Charleston Cougars
4. Chicago Blue Demons
Key Players Added : SP Daisuke Suzuki and C Antonio Gilbert.
Key Players Lost : C Darrell Dyer, SP Don Bong, LF Stuffy Sabathia, 3B Endy Kwon and RP Hack Malloy.
Key Transactions : Only one trade to make space on my payroll and also to fit with our new philosophy of catching.
C Darrell Dyer for young 2B B.C. Polanco.
Rookies expected to contribute: Willie Berroa.
After another great season, Owls are expecting to repeat this season and hopefully do much better in playoffs.
With the return of 2 times MVP award winner Haywood Bryant at first base, RBI machine Miller Kotsay at second, Candy Thomas in the left and All-Star Joe Campbell in the right, scoring runs should not be a problem again this season for the Owls.
The lost of Dyer should be compensated by DH Aaron Little who hit 39 HR in season 8.
On the mound, 3 times Cy young award winner Domingo Servet will not be alone as Jose Aybar and Pat Gibbons are back while Daisuke Suzuki will replace Bong. Even with those great arms, the Owls have decide to change their approach as far as catching is concern. That's why they trade Dyer who is a fantastic hitter but an average catcher. They will replace him by Clarence Peters and new comer Antonio Gilbert.
Our goal is the represent the AL in the World Series.
Of course all that will be possible if everyone stay healthy.
Charleston was not active in free agency, opting instead to promote young talent and obtain new talent via the Rule 5 draft. The Cougars preserved much of their talent base through arbitration signings, including D.J. Carroll, Freddie Upshaw and Patrick Lamb. The pitching staff will again be led by Jared Strickland, who at age 38 is more than 10 years older than any other member of the staff, yet continues to put up great numbers. Rookie David Saito, who signed last year as an International Free Agent is expected to contribute immediately. In addition, the Cougars expect Greg Padden and Eswalin Sierra to continue developing into top level pitchers. Several rookies also expect to compete for starting positions on offense. Juan Diaz looks to take over at catcher and Lefty Griffin will likely take over at one of the infield positions. Look for Odalis Velazquez to make his much anticipated debut at SS shortly after game number 20.
Chicago Blue Demons
The Blue Demons are hoping to improve significantly over last season's dismal 64-98 campaign by adding sluggers Juan Melendez and Marquis Nolan to an offense that finished 27th in runs scored last season. The pitching staff continues to mature and young starters Tony Telemaco, Al Zurbaran, and Matty Canseco are expected to show some of the flash predicted by team scouts. The loss of closer Esteban Cedeno is a major concern. People close to the team question whether Napoleon Shannon will be able to fill those shoes. Overall, the Blue Demons should be vastly improved over last year but taking it to the next level falls sqarely on the performance of the young pitching staff.
Juan Melendez 1B
Marquis Nolan LF
Jose Sosa P
Esteban Cedeno P
Hong-Chih Meng DH
New York Red Storm