Tampa Bay Thunder
owner- rxw1(27 seasons)
Season 27 record- 90-72(AL South Champs)
The Thunder look like they have a pretty solid offense going into this season. Jim McCormick has a career .400 obp and is the top on base threat for this team. Junior Yang provides good contact and power and will also steal some bases. Robert Wallace, Albert Rosa, and Alberto Benavente will provide some good power, but none of them will hit for a high average. Rico Tatis sure did get old fast. He'll get on base, but he's lost the power that made him such a threat. Tampa Bay will likely not rank among the best offensive teams this season, but they should rank in the upper half of the league.
I'm not too impressed with the defense. They lack a true shortstop and most other positions lack good gloves as well. Enny Tejera is playing shortstop, but he'd serve the team better as a second baseman. The one spot I really like is third base with Junior Yang. That is the perfect spot for him. Besides that, this team is below average defensively and will finish near the bottom of the league.
The rotation of Claude Collins, Bo Carter, Curtis Bannister and Sammy Johnson are pretty good. Collins is going to be on the DL for a while and that makes the rotation just above average until he returns. With him they are a top 5 rotation in the AL. In the bullpen, Frank Murphy, Joaquin Gallardo, Dioner Jimenez and Tony Perez are really good arms to lean on at the end of games. The bullpen really puts this team near the top of the AL.
Tampa Bay looks pretty good this season with the defense being a weakness. The defense will hurt the pitching staff, which is the strength of this team. My guess is that they finish this season with a little worse record than last season, but still in the upper 80's of victories.
Player to watch- Albert Rosa- Rosa is an interesting player and one that I mistakenly let get away. He has lower contact and eye, but good power, good splits and really good speed. I'm curious to see if he can hit well enough to use that speed and how well his power plays for him. I think a good season for him will be hitting a .250, with 25 homers and 40 steals. I think Tampa would be happy with that as well.
New Orleans Zephyrs
owner- Fantasy Frea(6 seasons)
Season 27 record- 84-78
The Zephyrs have some solid players offensively, but I'd call them just average as a team. Sam Slotnick is a great power hitter and can get on base. He will also steal a few bases. Vic Ward and Coco Stratton are a couple of high contact players that will hit for average. Christopher Hoffman will make his ML debut this season and has plenty of power. I'm interested to see if he can overcome his low contact and eye to hit enough homeruns. Howie Osborne has really good power and decent speed. These guys are solid players, but the team really lacks depth.
Defensively the Zephyrs look pretty good. I really like Benito Miranda at shortstop and what he can do. He has a solid glove with solid range and a really good arm. His hitting abilities aren't great, but they are good for a player with his fielding ability. Diory Encarnacion is a really good backup for any position on the field. Howie Osborne is the centerfielder, but I don't like his range for the position. Ed Darnell is a great second baseman. I'd really like to see Mark Millwood in center and Osborne on a corner. That would make this a great defensive team.
The pitching here is below average. Everth Benitez is the ace and he'd make a better mid rotation starter. I'm just really not impressed with the rotation. In the bullpen Pat Chen and Pasqual Sosa are solid, but even the bullpen is not very good. The pitching is really a weakness for this team that needs serious upgrading.
I think New Orleans is a solid team, but I can't see them making the post season with what they have on this pitching staff. The offense has some really good pieces and the defense is really good. That is what keeps this team around in the race, but the pitching keeps them from being serious contenders. 84 wins would be a really good and realistic goal for New Orleans.
Player to watch- Vic Ward- I'm going with Ward because he's an interesting player. He can flat out hit and get on base. He also adds some solid power and then thing that surprises me, base stealing. He has 63 steals and 17 caught stealing since coming to the majors a couple of seasons ago. Not bad for a player with a speed rating of 63.
San Juan Pollos Hermanos
Season 27 record- 79-83
I really like the offense in San Juan. They have good power, good eyes and good splits filling the lineup. They could use a bit better contact, but that is why I'll stop short of calling them great. Ralph Hatcher is a really good hitter with some great power. Masao Saitou can hit the long ball as well and should hit for a decent average. Harvey Merrick had a really bad season in season 27, but he should rebound and hit closer to his career numbers. John Davidson is another player with solid power and good on base numbers to go with it. He also adds good speed to the team. Brian Berkman is a really good speed threat that should get on base enough to make a difference. San Juan also has some good depth.
Defensively, this team is solid. They lack a really good shortstop, but have solid gloves at most positions. Brian Berkman is a really good centerfielder with excellent range. Gio Valdez is a really good third baseman, but a below average shorstop. The same can be said for Yamid Lee. If this team found a great glove for the shortstop position then they'd be among the top 3 defensive teams in the league.
The pitching is average. I really like Shane Osik, but his stamina stops him short of being elite. Gerardo Morales is good, but also lacks stamina. Giovanni Magnuson is in the same situation. All 3 are good pitchers at the top of the rotation, but they'll need a good bullpen behind them. David Ortiz and Willie Fisher have the ability to be the guys that finish off the opponent, but the depth behind them in the pen isn't very good. If the starters had better stamina this wouldn't be a big issue, but since they do I'm going to drop them to below average.
The Pollos Hermanos have the makings of a playoff team on offense and defense. The pitching staff even has some parts to it that still lead me to believe they are just on the edge of the playoff line. With a few upgrades to the pitching staff and the addition of a true shortstop, this team could find themselves battling for the AL title. For now, I'm going to put them in the mid 80's for victories and a tight battle for the division.
Player to watch- Ralph Hatcher- Hatcher is coming off of back to back 50 homer seasons and seems to have found his groove. He also has a run of 6 straight 100 RBI seasons. Last season was his best overall season after hitting .299 and getting on base at a .404 clip. Season 24 could be argued his best, but I think he's got a good chance of putting up even better numbers this season and making a run at the MVP.
Season 27 record- 43-119
This team is real close to having a good offense, but right now they are below average. Blaine Moore and Phil Yamamoto are a couple of great young hitters that have both won rookie of the year awards. Boone Brow provides some solid hitting and power, but he is a low contact hitter. Wolf Dodd is a good hitter as well and he's coming off a career year. Alex Bazardo has proven to be one of the best players in the league at getting on base. Bubbles Conger has great power, but low contact and eye keep him from being a great hitter. These are some real good players, but the team doesn't have much after them.
The Nalas defense isn't very good. They lack a real shortstop and don't have anyone that stands out as a center fielder either. This is an area of concern for the Nalas. I think they have a chance to be one of the worst defensive teams in the league this season.
The pitching is below average and another weakness. As long as Al Galvez is in the rotation, this teams pitching isn't very respectable. The guy had one of the worst performances in league history last season. They do have some solid pitchers though. Kevin Leonard has the ability to be a mid rotation starter. He is making his major league debut this season and will be an upgrade. Ray Collins could be a decent back end of the rotation starter. Felix Nakajima is a solid reliever and Darren Miller is as well. The team at least has the start of a decent pitching staff this season.
Nashville is clearly a rebuilding team. They have some good pieces starting to be in place and now they just need to build around them. The offense isn't as far off as the defense and pitching, but they still have little bit of a ways to go. I can't see how the team could repeat last seasons awful record. With the new ownership in place, the team should make improvements based on that alone. I think they can win 60+ games this season.
Player to watch- Phil Yamamoto- There wasn't many options for this, but this option would make for a great choice on any team. He has great power and a great eye. This guys is one of the best hitters in the league and should only improve. I could see him hitting 50+ homers to go with his .300+ average and .400+ obp. This is a rising star in the league and a real difference maker with the bat.
Tampa Bay is the reigning champ in this division and they are still a good team. The top of this division is pretty close though and each team has their own weaknesses and strengths. I'm going to go with Tampa though as they are the team that looks the most complete. San Juan should fight it out with them and will likely end up short of the post season again. I expect New Orleans to take a step back and finish third this season. Nashville is still a rebuilding team and shouldn't make a push at all.
1. Tampa Bay
2. San Juan
3. New Orleans