Season 13 Preview: American League
Detroit Domination (86-76)
A team anchored by a pitcher like David Polanco & a hitter like Jon Price should compete for a playoff spot on a yearly basis. Detroit has enough pieces in place around these two stars that they will again battle for the divisional crown. However although the Domination was in the top third of the league in all three major categories they need to upgrade some positions if they hope to hoist a championship flag.
Trenton Revolutionaries (Last yr 86-76)
Tying for the division title but losing the tie-breaker left a bad taste so Trenton enters the season with a chip on their shoulders. Deciding a fresh start was necessary the team left Chicago to see if their future would be brighter on the East Coast. Louie Neruda struggled after being acquired but it is hoped that he will settle down to form a strong one two punch with Matt Gordon at the front end of the rotation. Roy Pall will again anchor the bullpen that converted 39 of their 55 save chances. The offense was led by Einar Candelaria, Miguel Diaz & Trenidad Park as they each hit over .295. Moving to a new park can take some time to adjust to so a small step back may be ahead.
Dover ‘Necks (83-79)
Vince Morgan, Ryan Nelson & Gregory Wilkins give the ‘Necks 3 solid starters at the top of their rotation. When runs are needed Robinson Washington, Russell Piper & Shaggy Brown are as good as any middle of the order guys in Uecker. This team could contend for a championship if they added more to the strong nucleus already in place. Blown saves and players able to get on base in front of the big thumpers would go a long way to helping this team become more of a threat to take control of the division and go deep in the playoffs.
Toledo Mudhens (80-82)
The Mudhens had the 6th best team batting Avg, yet finished in the bottom half of the league in runs scored. That was the problem the team had last season. Harold Cox & Ugueth Romero got on base then Cy Keats & Darren Beltre drove them in. Rafael Castro was added to the mix to see if he can’t help carry some of the load. Jonathan Campbell was the leader of the staff, but that not be for long if Jacque Brown continues to develop. Bip Steib, Butch Pulsipher & Steve Klassen shared the save opportunities however each had an ERA over 4 which doesn’t make a manager confident when calling for help from the pen. More parts will need to be added for them to win the division however if the other teams struggle Toledo may be able to take advantage.
Pawtucket Privateers (90-72)
Sub 3.00 ERA’s from Kordell Forbes (17 wins) & Eli Frias (46 saves) paced a strong pitching contingent. Erick Mullin, Raul Guerrero & Jolbert Telemaco all hit over .290, smacked more than 30 HR & drove in over 100 runs. With stars that these there wouldn’t seem to be any room for improvement, however the Privateers were below .500 in 1 run games and had 19 blown saves. Both of these stats are unusual for an elite team and need to be addressed if this team hopes to get further in the playoffs.
Cincinnati Lebowskis (77-85)
Starter Sal Harris & Closer Adrian Jordan led the pitching staff while sluggers Don Wilkins, Malcolm Adams & Alex Martin lead the offensive barrage. The team is hoping that moving from Hartford will help the pitchers rebound from a disastrous Season 12 where they languished near the bottom. The defense was slightly below average putting even more strain on the struggling hurlers and leaving a potent offense that led the league in hitting looking for help from management. With everyone still waiting for that help to arrive the Lebowskis will again fight to reach the .500 mark .
Boston Chokers (77-85)
Last years team struggled on the mound with the 2nd worst ERA in Uecker while the offense was the 2nd best. This year’s team should be much the same as the pitching staff remains a big concern and the team continues to allow some of its young bats to develop at the ML level. Until the arms catch up to the bats the most Boston can hope for is a shot at .500 while entertaining fans with their offensive show.
Columbus Hammers (59-103)
When discussing the Hammers all talk begins with 3rd yr player Nick Regan. At 24 he has put up impressive numbers and last years 52 HR & 120 RBI show just how talented he is. Matty Campos was the only other player to put up good numbers and with much of the roster filled with youngsters up from the farm it looks like another rebuilding year in Columbus. The pitching staff struggled last year and it looks like another year of patience will be needed until the right players are found to raise this team to a contender status.
San Juan Wrecking Crew (99-63)
The Crew are solid from top to bottom. The pitching staff is led by Cliff Gunderson (15 wins), Walker Jennings (16 wins) & Jeremy Weston (32 saves). A very dynamic offense is not in short supply of power with Corky Bowman & Geraldo Lee as two of their rising stars. San Juan has several young players that haven’t hit their peak yet so it is very possible this team has yet to see how well it can play.
Charleston of Bricks (98-64)
Late season pickup Marvin Jefferies adds another strong arm to a deep pitching staff and will help carry some of the load shouldered by Thomas Strange and Walter Krause. The fireworks will be provided by Brendan Springer, Jason Wise, Raul Andujar & Rich Gagne. Full seasons from Jefferies and Andujar should help Charleston in their battle for the division title with San Juan.
Montgomery Daddies (90-72)
A somewhat suspect rotation is backed up by a very solid bullpen that received a major lift when Pat Yamamoto was added. 16 game winners Lonnie Glynn & Russ Wall will now only be needed to pitch 5 or 6 innings before turning things over to the pen. Offensively sluggers Diego Moya, Lariel Neruda, Benny Baerga & Courtney Rogers will be smacking opponents pitching staffs into submission. With a solid offense and opponents only getting 6 innings to some damage with their bats this team is poised to make a serious run at the division title.
Iowa City Screwballs (77-85)
Injuries have helped derail Iowa City. JJ Gibbs & Ron Perry headline a somewhat suspect pitching staff. A full recovery by closer Darwin Green from the shoulder problems of the last 2 seasons would go a long way to helping fix some of the problems on the mound. The pitching staff wasn’t the only area affected by the injury bug as Brett Munoz’ big bat was missed at the end of last season and the team hopes to stay close to the division leaders until his return. Expectations for Matt Moseley, Robert Tomberlin will be high with Elson Service not yet producing as management had hoped. With several holes still needing to be filled this team is a year or two away from making a serious push.
Honolulu Dashboard Hula Dolls (107-55)
The Dolls won more games than any other team around last season. This was accomplished by pushing 200 more runs across the plate than their opponents. Ace Russ Jerchower and closer Ronnie Field will have to help hold things together until Eddie Baker is able to come off the DL. Once again the offense will be led by all-world star Jeff Jennings. Jennings was again able to reach the 70 homer mark and drove in 187 runs. This year he will break the 700 mark in homers and at 31 yrs old he has a good shot at the 1000 HR barrier. Honolulu will go as far as their pitching will carry them so don’t be surprised if they can’t reach last years lofty win total but do run away with the division title.
Salem Lumberjacks (76-86)
The pitching was respectable last season but allowed 100 runs more than the offense could produce. That will need to be changed. A pitching staff with an ace the caliber of 17 game winner Rafael Morales should be able to put up better numbers but will need to reduce the number of blown saves to do so. Deivi Tapies, Sean Pulsipher & Louis McCartin put up good numbers last season and will need to do it again for this team to have a chance to improve. The team owner is hoping that moving to Salem will be a successful change but more will need to be done to enable them to catch Honolulu.
Kansas City Masterpieces (74-88)
A warning needs to be sent out to the league about this team. They are loaded with big time bats and will be relentless in their offensive assault. Unfortunately their pitching and defense up the middle is suspect and offenses should be licking their chops to get an opportunity to get to the plate. Ralph Dixon & Philip Ransom are rising stars and with Gordon Hines still only 27 runs should continue to roll in. As for the pitching staff no one was able to put up more than 11 wins and the bullpen blew 13 save opportunity to further hurt the struggling hurlers.
Boise Mashers (57-105)
Herman Atkins, Lariel Martin, Javier Rosado, Ryan Ruffin will provide the offensive attack for Boise. The pitching staff is lead by Miguel Nunez who converted 25 of his 33 save opportunities and Matty Alomar’s 8 wins out of the pen lead the team. The Mashers were near the bottom of the league in most offensive, defensive and pitching categories. Upgrades throughout the roster will be necessary for them to escape the basement.