Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald
Last Season: 86-76, 2nd place
Studs: IF Enrique Guardado, SP Gerald Kojima
Duds: P Gregory Hanson (10-11, 5.72 ERA in 35 starts)
Outlook: One game from the division title last season, the Warthogs look to make the leap behind a powerful lineup. Guardado leads a lineup that has quality hitters top to bottom. But there is concern for the pitching staff where other than Kojima, questions arise. ERA's were high for all other starters, but if they can improve just a little over last season they could very well win the division.
Prediction: 88-74, 1st place
Last Season: 79-83, 3rd place
Studs: 2B Dennis Ashby, SP Gregory Rivers
Duds: P Toby Lewis (7-9, 5.87 ERA, 1.52 WHIP)
Outlook: Charlotte is a young and improving team, led by star 2B Ashby. Not much in the way of contact hitters in the lineup, but that is made up for with an abundance of power at several positions. The starting pitching is weak outside of Rivers, but the pen is a strength. With slight improvements the Dogs could make it above .500 and possibly contend for the division.
Prediction: 81-81, 3rd place
Mexico City Diablos Rojos
Last Season: 87-75, 1st place
Studs: SP Phillip Brown, SS Lewis Allen
Duds: 1B Clyde Bird (Aging slugger needs to prove that .270 avg. after trade wasn't a fluke)
Outlook: The Diablos Rojos will go as far as their pitching will take them, which is questionable as future HOF lock Phillip Brown is entering the twilight of his career. Still an ace by any description, Brown should have one more good year left before his decline becomes noticable. The lineup features aging power hitters in Bird and Perry, and aging catcher Banjo Carter. If Mexico City can hold off father time, they have a chance to repeat as division champs. But Father Time waits for no man...
Prediction: 82-80, 2nd place
Santa Fe Wranglers
Last Season: 49-113, 4th place
Studs: 1B Josh Price, SP Glenn Collier
Duds: SP Charlie Thomas (7.43 ERA for a top starter doesn't cut it.)
Outlook: After dealing with ownership issues, the Wranglers moved from San Juan for a fresh start. Led by MVP candidate Josh Price, the Wranglers have a solid hitting lineup that looks to take advantage of their homer happy park. What effect this will have on the pitching remains to be seen, but with active and involved ownership, and better pitching than last season, there is no doubt Santa Fe will improve. Look for big seasons from Price, Walt Cameron, and Adrian Parker. Look for the pitching staff to be putting up umbrellas in the bullpen to protect themselves from the rain of homers that will surely happen in Santa Fe.
Prediction: 69-93, 4th place