My Take: I think the surprise team here could be the Buckeyes. They've done a good job assembling some young arms and have built their team solidly. They are my pick to "surprise" in Season 12 in the NL and challenge for the division and a wild card spot. Detroit will again lead the NL in pitching which is a combination of solid arms with that pitchers park. Dover continues their rebuild project that started last season. Iowa City is under new management and is tasked with turning the losing around in Iowa City, but that will take a few seasons.
1. Detroit Wolverines
2. Columbus Buckeyes
3. Dover Fightin' Blue Hens
4. Iowa City Hawkeyes
S11 Record: 90 – 72 (1st in NL North); Lost in 1st Round
Free Agency: No signings; Lost Herm Thompson
Trades: Lost Artie Hinch & Alex Franco
We ended up losing 3 pitchers that threw for the ML squad in S11 but we were beginning to pile up young arms in AAA and thought it was time to give them a chance on the mound. Detroit picked up a Type B pick and two young power bats that will be swinging in the majors some day for us as a result of losing our pitching.
Erik Haynes was traded for late in S11 and will be wearing a Wolverines uniform for the entire season in S12. We’ll be watching him as he makes a move to CF to make room for Lynn Prior, another player called up late from AAA last season who will be taking over 3B. 7 players hit double digit HR last season to build upon, and with the core pieces of our pitching staff back in place (2nd straight season leading ML in era, 3rd time in 4 seasons), we feel very confident about winning the division for the 3rd straight season and making our 6th straight playoff appearance. The goal now is to not just make the playoffs but find a way to advance.
Iowa City Hawkeyes
Outlook and Expectaions I hope to get the team to .500 anything above that would be gravy
Possible rookie call -ups Gabe Price David Rodriguez
Key Players Lost : None
Key Players Added Quinton Hamilton Billy Rivers Buddy Daniels
Key Players Added: The Buckeyes made no trades during the off-season and the only FA we signed was our own.
Key Players Lost: 3B Ben Brown left via FA and RP Louie Chang was released.
Key Transactions: Avoided arbitration by signing C Benito Goya and 1B Joshua Hall to contract extensions. Went to arbitration with RP Brian Messmer, RF Rock Stinnett, and SS Harry Turner.
Rookies: SP Dallas Parrott and LF Jack Torre
Outlook: Losing Type A 3B Ben Brown was a blow but hopefully the additional draft choice we get for.him will turn out to be the next Michael Seay. Other than that we stayed pat this off-season. The additions of rookie SP Dallas Parrott and LF Jack Torre are as good as any trade or FA we could sign. They both should be major contributors this season and hopefully will push us over the hump in the elusive chase for .500. I really believe this could be the breakout season for the Buckeyes and my prediction is 2nd place in our division behind Detroit and a serious challange for a wild card spot.
Dover Fightin’ Blue Hens
Key Players Added: FA Braden Sager was brought in to play shortstop. FA Jeff Cameron will compete for the starting catcher position. Rule 5 pitcher Orlando Galvez is one of the better rule 5's I've landed. 4 players acquired in last season's trades will all make an impact this year.
Key Players Lost: SP Otis Damon and 2b/3b Charlie Spencer were traded during last season. SS Sam Belitz and C Hawk Matthews were let go in the off season.
Rookies: 2b Albie Tejada is here to stay and should be a bright spot. CF Torey Feliz will also be given a major league spot unless he flounders. 2b/Herm O'Shea and SP Albert Crespo will be amoung the first callups.
Outlook: The Blue Hens traded several veterans last season and began a full-fledged rebuilding project that will continue this season. The Hens will try to avoid 200 losses in 2 seasons and then begin the upward climb next season. Projection: 3rd or 4th in division.