Top 3 teams to help themselves
Cincinnati Stingers (71-91)
Key Additions: SP Larry Coombs (FA), SP Clyde Mays (FA), RL Jaime Campbell (FA), 3B Francisco Espinosa (FA), C Ross Waddell (FA), SS Joe Little (rookie callup)
Key Losses: SP Sam Price, 3b David Belliard, Rl Eric Robinson
After a poor showing last season (71-91), Cinci has revamped their starting pitching by signing season 20 Cy Young winners Larry Coombs and Clyde Mays. It’s not too often a team is able to sign 2 guys of that caliber in 1 off-season, but freshfish was able to pull it off. That 1-2 punch, along with an already potent offense, has Cinci smelling division title and a deep run in the playoffs.
Toledo Berserkers (77-85)
Key additions: SP Chuck Fassero (FA), OF Ken Martin (FA), SP Donald Chang (FA), SP Hayes Grey (FA), 1b Hipolito Rosario (FA), 2b Victor Guerrero (FA), 3b Rickey Black (FA), SP Quinton Wayne (FA)
Key Losses: SP Tony Brown, SS William Clark, SP Mendy Basile, SP Bernard Wohlers, LF John Gray, 2b Wilfredo Beltre, C Pete Rhodes
Coming off a disappointing season at 77-85, albeit a division title winning season, Toldeo was seeking to improve its win total and climb out of mediocrity. This off-season saw Toledo dole out mucho dinero to re-tool and keep up with Cincinnati. Notable players they brought in include big bats Hipolito Rosario, Ken Martin, Victor Guerrero and Rickey Black, along with veteran pitchers Chuck Fassero, Donald Chang and Quinton Wayne.
Trenton Hazmats (97-65)
Key additions: Jeremi Cunningham (call-up), Horacio DeLeon (call-up), SP Andres Gomez (trade)
Key Losses: SS Walt Rose, SP Slick Kubenka (prospect)
How does a team coming off a 97 win season improve? They trade for the reigning NL Cy Young, and 19 game winner, Andres Gomez. The young call-ups, Cunningham and DeLeon, will add more youth to an already young and very potent offense. The addition of Gomez gives this team a clear cut ace that makes Trenton a favorite for a world series title.
Top 3 teams to hurt themselves
Las Vegas Hangovers (100-62)
Key additions: Rl Alex Guerrero (FA), 3b George Carter (trade), SP Mendy Basile (FA), OF Artie Robinson (FA), 3b Todd Magnuson (call up) SP Birdie Morehead (trade-prospect), SP Slick Kubenka (trade prospect)
Key Losses: SP Larry Coombs, SP Andres Gomez, 3b Edge James, Rl Roger Penny, OF Omar Batista
Coming off back-to-back 100 win seasons and 4 playoff appearances, the Hangovers had established themselves as a pitching powerhouse with the 1-2 combo of Coombs and Gomez. That combo is no more with Coombs heading to Cinci for greener pastures, and Gomez shipped out for a future staff ace in Kubenka. Gone are a combined 36 wins, 1.76 era and the past 2 NL Cy Young winners. While this team can still be competitive, expect a drop-off in pitching and in the win column unless the offense can pick up the slack.
San Juan Pirata (81-81)
Key additions: SP Tyson Hamelin, SP Matty Mota,
Key Losses: SP Jose Olivares, RF Jamie Sung, 1b Juan Canseco
Signing SP Tyson Hamelin to a big contract when he has been stuck in AAA for the past 6 years might raise a few eyebrows (granted he should have been in the majors a few seasons ago), but San Juan is banking on his potential to make an immediate contribution to the big league club. San Juan hopes the offensive loss of Sung and Canseco can be lightened by a full season from youngster Derin Banks. Still, losing RF Jamie Sung, who was 20-20 last year, will be hard to replace.
Colorado Ball Crushers (91-71)
Key additions: 3b Xavier Lindsey C/DH Bruce Reed, 2b Charles Sutton, Rl Gus Nakajima, Rl Juan Ayala, Rl Joe Hall, C Wilton Alfonseca, LF Jalal Ramirez (call up)
Key Losses: OF Brad Crawford, 1b Clarence Smart, 3b Eddie Duffy, C Sherm Franklin, 2b Eric Woods, SS Grover Haad, 3b Dave Perry, SS Gabby Graves
Not sure if Colorado will be able to recover from losing 132 of the 177 home runs their team hit last year in Cheyenne, while moving into a big offensive field. The franchise also took a serious starting pitching blow as #3 SP, Yonder Ontiveros, and 5th SP, Davey Mota, are gone along with LR Junior Saez. At least the relievers COL signed are suited for the pitching challenged park. It remains to be seen if the additions of Lindsey and Reed, along with Ramirez’s call up will help add the punch needed to succeed at Coors Field.