Nashville Merchants(Owner editor21-2nd season)
Season 35/ 99-63(Division Champ)
Owners thoughts-The Merchants have been the league's top offense for the past 4 years. During that span the Merchants have averaged 108 wins per season. That offense has generated an average of more than 6 runs a game which covers the 4 runs a game the pitching staff allows. They had 11 players put up double digit homeruns last season led by Wendell Worths 41. All of those players return so the lineup should continue to lead the way. This team went with a 6 man rotation in season 35. That took pressure off the aces and reduced the innings needed from the bullpen. The key to success this season could well be the performance of the bullpen. AAA stars Danny Smolinski and Kraig Webster could fill two of the vacancies in the pen. The team likely needs to add another reliever or two to hope to equal last seasons 99 wins. Prediction:If the offense doesn't sputter the Merchants should be able to churn out 90 plus wins and be in contention for their 8th straight AL South division title. The questionable status of the bullpen could be the dampener that keeps the team from winning over 100 games.
ghutton9's take-I can't say this is the best offense I've ever seen, but it surely is a good offense. The have some good hitters and guys that have good batting eyes. They also have a little speed. This team may hit a lot of homers, but they don't have that one guy that can hit enough to be a true threat. Werth is pretty close though and he's a guy that really makes this offense great. The defense is below average. Mainly because they lack a true shortstop or centerfielder. They do have solid gloves at other positions and that's what keeps them from being at the bottom of the league. The rotation is decent. They don't really have a true ace on the staff, but they have plenty of mid rotation type starters. The bullpen looks solid with Alex James as the best arm. He's one of the better relievers in the league. This team is looking like a contender again this season. They should be tough to knock out of the top spot of the division, but even then they should still get a wild card spot. This is a 90+ win team
Tampa Bay Thunder(Owner rxw1-36th season)
Season 35/ 84-78
Owners thoughts-The young Thunder team continues to grow. Despite missing the playoffs, they still won 84 games behind a starting rotation that includes #1 pick Bert Jordan. Ownership will view anything short of 90+ wins and a playoff berth as a disappointment. The off season was fairly quiet as this roster only has 6 players over 30. The key will be whether the bullpen can hold the lead. The talent is there- the lack of execution was the main reason they missed the playoffs.
ghutton9's take-The Thunder offense is looking pretty good this season. The have a lineup that should hit for a good average and get on base a lot. They have decent power up and down the lineup. I think they could be a top 5 offense this season. The defense is average. Jesus Esposito is a solid shortstop, but they don't have anyone else that can play it decently enough. Max Liriano is a great centerfielder. The problem they have is depth and good gloves at other positions. I think they are average but they could be above average depending on the rest of the AL. This team has a really good rotation. It ranks among the best in the league as there is no real weak spot. The bullpen might be even better. I think this may be the best pitching staff in the AL. I'm really thinking Tampa Bay might be ready to take back the top spot in this division for the first time in nine seasons. They may even challenge for the AL title.
El Paso Walkers(Owner sudburry1111-3rd season)
Season 35/ 74-88
Owners thoughts-As the Walkers continue to turn over their pitching staff there are no indications that there will be a significant change from last year's above average hitting team with below average pitching and fielding. Hopefully the addition of Vasquez to Rios and Fletcher in the infield combined with the promotion of a couple of pitching upgrades to the big league squad will net a few more wins. My prediction is 78 wins.
ghutton9's take-This team has an average offense and maybe a little below average. They have some solid hitters, but they lack good power and guys that can get on base through walks. They do have some solid speed. On defense I like shortstop Dustan Fletchers range and arm, but his glove is a bit below average. The team has quite a few solid gloves at other spots, but they lack a true centerfielder. I think they are average. The rotation is not looking very good. They have filled it with mid to back end type starters. The bullpen looks better as it is built around Mitch Mota, a great reliever, and Louis Post who is pretty good as well. I think the pitching staff is just below average. This team is very average at best. I think they will end up close to last seasons win total.
New Orleans Jazz(Owner adlpest-3rd season)
Season 35/ 47-115
ghutton9's take-This has by far been the worst team in the league the past 2 seasons. That needs to change this season. The offense still doesn't look very good. They have a couple decent bats but for the most part the aren't close to average. The defense looks good though. Sam Bryant is a really good shortstop with a great glove and arm, but his range isn't the best. They also have some solid gloves at other positions. I think they are above average. The rotation is made up of minor league talent. This is by far the worst staff in the league. I can find better pitchers in free agency right now. A team that is on probation due to not reach the league win minimum should've been spending in free agency for some better pitching. I understand a rebuild, but I've put together 70 win teams with cheap free agents. Please try to fix this team so I don't have to kick you out after this season.
1. Tampa Bay
3. El Paso
4. New Orleans