The Domination has owned the division for the last eight seasons yet has only 2 LCS appearances and no WS appearances.Jon Price (41, 122, .377) put up MVP numbers, as 3 others contributed 30+ HR & 95+ RBI for one of the top offensive teams.Edwards Beech (17-7, 3.11) & Harry Heath (15-6, 3.27) are outstanding pitchers, the rest of the staff isn’t as talented and the lack of a shut down closer hurt this team’s playoff run.Detroit has decided to again play with the same hand which has worked in the past but it may be a dangerous strategy as the rest of the division has narrowed the gap.
A 3rd straight last place finish has the Toledo fans looking for answers to questions like when will this team make the playoffs.Offense again was not the problem as a .275 team batting avg. will attest.Cy Keats (36, 98, .306) & Ernest Dougherty (32, 88, .312) lead the hit parade.On the other hand the pitching struggled with only 2 players reaching double digits in wins.After last seasons disappointing backslide the Mudhens decided to open the wallet and dive into the FA market.Was it enough to compete for 1st place?Probably not, however it now looks on paper that they have the components to leap into 2nd and at least cause Detroit some sleepless nights.
The ‘Necks are good enough to finish over .500 however they haven’t been able to claim a playoff spot.Shaggy Brown (32, 124, .331) & Robinson Washinton (47, 123, .276) are among the best hitters in the league.The pitching staff is suspect with only 3 hurlers able to come up with sub 4 ERA’s and none of those were the arms in the starting rotation.Without any major changes Dover will again be on the outside looking in when playoff time rolls around.
Another year, another 2nd place finish leaves Trenton wondering what it has to do to claim a division title.A .270 team batting avg., 7 players with 20+ HR shows there is enough firepower.However other than closer Roy Pall (38 sv, 3.04) the pitching staff could use some upgrading.The loss of Ralph Counsell will be felt however new parts were added in an attempt to end Detroit’s run a top the division.It should again be a race down to the wire but unlikely that this is the year Trenton will bring home the division crown.
The offensive firepower of the Privateers was never more evident than it was last season.The assault was lead by Erick Mullin (52, 136, .270) but there were big bats throughout the lineup as 4 other players hit at least 35 HR and 100 RBI.Other than Kordell Forbes (16-8, 3.70) & Larry Franklin (15-7, 3.75) the pitching didn’t have the same kind of impact.Pawtucket is still the team to beat yet that may change in the near future if the pitching staff doesn’t improve.
Management decided that Charlotte would provide a better home for the Chokers while the fans of Boston have burned team apparel in the streets.It is yet to be seen if this team can continue to produce offensively as they did in their previous home.Willard Richards (47, 119, .273) is among the top bats that was not anxious to leave Boston.The pitching staff with the exception of closer Willie Mercado (35 sv, 2.72) should be thrilled to be out of beantown.To make a good impression on their new fan base the team plucked some hurlers from the FA pool.The question will be whether there is still any life left in those veteran arms.
For the past 4 seasons this team has alternated .500 and sub .500 finishes so it will be interesting to see if they can break this pattern.The loss of Alex Martin to free agency will hurt but Don Wilkins (40, 122, .330) & Malcolm Adams (28, 115, .316) will still continue as RBI machines.As the teams 5.01 ERA from last season shows it is an area of concern.The Lebowskis are coming off a good season but need to make changes to their pitching staff before they will be on the same level as the playoff contenders.
While the Hammers are 4 years removed from their last playoff appearance they did show improvement last year.Nick Regan (61 146, .290) & Willie Leon (55, 116 .242) provide the long ball threat for this team.On the mound Ray Wall & Glenn Spiezio had the best years for a staff that struggled all season.The team performed well with the talent available and short term stopgap players have been brought in until the farm supplies the necessary players.
New ownership has taken over a team that has won 10 of the 13 division titles including last seasons.This team is in love with the long ball with a 50 HR player, (2) 40 HR guys and 3 others with 30 HR a season ago.So while most teams would be hurt by the loss of a couple of guys that hit 30 homers this team still has plenty of power.With a high power offense the pitching just needed to be solid and that was accomplished.Upgrading the pitching would be necessary to allow this team to go deeper in the playoffs. Several pitchers were signing from the FA market.Whether these seasoned vets are what this teams needs to again take them to the playoffs and challenge for the WS trophy will need to be determined.
Charleston of Bricks(92-70)
The Bricks made the playoffs however since winning the division with 108 wins in season 11 they have won fewer games each of the last 2 seasons.5 players hit more than 30 homers and 3 had more than 95 RBI’s so offense isn’t a big concern.The pitching staff had 3 players surpass the 10 win plateau led by Joey Romero (19 wins) & Red Roosevelt (18 wins).Yet with a more than solid defense, potent offense and decent pitching staff Charleston couldn’t hold off Montgomery to win the division.Losing a young slugger like Raul Andujar is a blow to this organization and he will be missed.However there is plenty of talent left and Charleston should be in the hunt until the end.
The Rebels could not keep their division title and fell from 1st to 3rd in one season.So what would the best thing to do?Management feels it is to leave the tropical paradise in Puerto Rico and take up residence in Richmond.It is anticipated that the offense won’t be as strong but sluggers Geraldo Lee (58, 146, .269), Peter Dong (57, 114, .320), Corky Bowman (41, 78, .259) & Glenn Holdridge (40, 94, .296) will see how much they like southern hospitality.Cliff Gunderson (15 wins), Walker Jennings (14 wins) & Jeremy Weston (31 sv, 2.96) are happy to be rid of their previous home.The move to Richmond is a calculated risk that should produce either very positive or negative results.In the end the Rebels should be battling for a wildcard slot as the division title goes elsewhere.
Iowa City Screwballs(82-80)
Playing in the only division that had every team finish above .500 did little for team morale as Iowa City failed to escape last place.50 HR man Matt Moseley led a strong team offense that made the most of their opportunities.Ron Perry (15-7, 3.51) & Darwin Green (33 sv) anchor the pitching staff that was hurt by inconsistent fielding.The loss of Rolando Canseco is a major blow to this teams hope to build on last seasons success.It appears the Balls will take a step back as they look for pitching help.
Honolulu Dashboard Hula Dolls(94-68)
Dropping 13 games from the win column would have been a devastating fall in most divisions however the distance between Honolulu and its division mates was substantial.Jeff Jennings (53, 181, .307) & Alvin Standridge (64, 159, .295) put up MVP numbers last season.Closer Norman Gordon (42 sv, 2.82), Russ Jerchower (17-10, 4.03) & Orlando Castilla (14-5, 4.09) put together good seasons in this hitters paradise.Unfortunately the 4th and 5th spot in the rotation became a black hole that ruined a season with high expectations. With little done to improve on last years team it is hoped that everyone will do a little more this season.That might not be possible but the division crown is the Dolls to lose.
Kansas City Masterpieces(75-87)
Bill Piper (37, 115, .301), Benny Alfonseca (33, 103, .293) & Gordon Hines (39, 98, .250) swing big bats in a place that isn’t easy to do.Pitching was this teams undoing last year with 3 starters carrying ERA’s over 5 and the teams closer putting up an ERA over 6.However management has added a couple of nice pieces and if Honolulu stumbles KC may have enough to take the division.
A move farther north has brought many more changes to a team that fell
from 2nd to last in the division.Many of last years top offensive weapons have moved on but this team is aggressively heading in the right direction.Much like the offense the pitching staff has moved in some new personnel however allowing Rafael Morales to depart was not in this team’s best interest.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.The move to Vancouver will be more successful than their last relocation if the players that have been brought in perform as well as anticipated.
Victor Sojo (51, 114, .239) supplies the power while Willie Fuentes (108 R, 62 SB, .272) runs wild.The problem is there is little else to talk about offensively for Boise.On the mound the hurlers didn’t fare much better with only one starter producing a sub 5 ERA and no one putting up more than 9 wins.The Mashers showed some improvement last season but will need to compensate for some departed players if they want to keep moving in the right direction.It is more likely that this team will stumble a bit as they try to regroup.