My Take: Fargo and Minnesota both went through rebuilding periods several seasons ago and did a good job building their teams for the long haul. Cincinnati turned over a good portion of their roster and Portland made a huge move in trading away start player Dave Ramsey, but got back several nice players. Best guess is that this division will continue to produce two playoff teams, but a third will be difficult since the AL West will almost definitely produce two as well.
1. Fargo Bison
2. Minnesota Golden Gophers
3. Portland Ducks
4. Cincinnati Bearcats
Key Losses: Rosa, 1b (waived), DaSilva,p (FA), Santiago,p (FA),Smith,ss (FA), Leon,lf (FA). Rosa and Smith will be missed. Roster crunch caused the Bearcats to gamble that Rosa would be overlooked on the waiver wire, he wasn't.
Key Additions: Shawn Tremie, 1b (FA), Oscar Purcell, 2b, (FA). Tremie was signed as a lf and moved to 1b to replace Rosa and make room for the rookie Bradford. Purcell brings some defensive versatility and much need patience at the plate.
Key Rookies: Lloyd Roberts, SP, Philip Stearns, RP, Kirk Bradford, LF. Roberts and Stearns are not frontline prospects; but, they are an improvement over those they will be replacing on the staff. Bradford is a can't miss stick and should step in as a middle of the order type for years to come.
Outlook: The Bearcats improved last season and are expected to accent the trend this season. Four rookies contributed last season, three more should do likewise this season. Stretch Bailey was expected to anchor the staff last season. The FA signee was felled by a season-ending injury in spring traing. He is back at a somewhat reduced effectiveness. However, his addition, the improvement of last year's rookie Brandon Gragg, an improved offense, and maturation of the young players bodes well for Cincinnati. Oddsmakers would suggest that the Bearcats improvement will not be dramatic enough to out-compete Minnesota, Portland, or Fargo for a playoff spot.
Key Player Added: Gaylord Burke, Pat Gibbons and Joe Creek
Key Player Lost: Dave Ramsey and Nolan Boone
Key Transaction: Dave Ramsey and Nolan Boone have been traded to Philadelphia in return of Gaylord Burke, Pat Gibbons and Anthony Mecir.
Outlook: The Ducks decided to trade Dave Ramsay who never played like he should have for his 18 millions per year contract. When Philadelphia’s owner contacts us about the possibility to trade Ramsey, we were not sure. Ramsey was about to become free agent and didn’t want to sign another contract with the Ducks. So, we started the negotiations, and it ended by bringing us Gaylord Burke, a young catcher with power, and also Pat Gibbons, an experienced starting pitcher. We also got an almost ready prospect in Anthony Mecir.
Our team has not change very much, but we are hoping more from Bingo Speier, Omar Encarnacion and Boots Lundquist. If those guys could produce more, the Ducks would be on the run for a playoffs spot. Gaylord Burke and Frank Landrum will be the power hitter of the team.
Also, in our pitching staff, we have some interesting young guys that should be better this year. I’m talking about Alvin Barnes, Vic Keefe and Clayton Brunette. Pat Gibbons will add some deep to our pitching staff since Gene Wise is decreasing and would probably ended in a bullpen duty for the rest of his career. Richard Vanguri should be back in his closer spot, but Bob Serrano and Vic Redmond are both ready if we need them.
If all players are aiming the same goal, we will be in the playoffs, at least we hope so. Only time will give us the answer.
key losses: hector guerrero and david cox
i will be calling up erubiel ordaz to take the 5th spot in the rotation this year, hoping he will do alright in his rookie season, also mark glover will be in the rotation this season as well in the 4th spot....we expect him to do very well.
im looking for this team to once again bring home the division in a tight race as usual and compete for the AL pennant. we should be stronger than last season and should win about 100-105 games
Minnesota Golden Gophers
Key Additions: None
Key Losses: Chad Gold
Key Rookies: Jay Rhodes
Outlook: This team is pretty much identical to last year's Wild Card team. However, that far from ensures success this year. Last year's team finished well behind the top teams in the AL and the Golden Gophers also enjoyed near perfect health. That being said there is some reason for optimism as Minnesota is still a rather young team. Best case scenario is probably 90 wins which should keep them in the Wild Card hunt most of the season, although the division would appear out of reach. If they fall out of contention early look for the Golden Gophers to deal off the few remaining veteran pieces as they continue to build a deep farm system. Whether or not they make the playoffs this year, the future looks bright in Minnesota.