Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald
Last Season: 112-50, 1st place
Studs: CF Alan Peterson, SP J.T. Kydd
Duds: 1B Mendy Strong (.267 BA and .857 OPS is not what he is capable of)
Outlook: AL West superpower Anaheim returns most of the players that got them to the world series in season 6. Loaded in the rotation, bullpen, and their everyday lineup, there is no reason why Anaheim shouldn't repeat as division champs and go deep into the playoffs. Standouts include MVP Peterson, Ernie Jenkins, and Luke Henley in the lineup, and Kydd, Shayne Campbell, and Olmedo Contreras in the rotation and bullpen.
Prediction: 110-52, 1st place
Last Season: 62-100, 4th place
Studs: SP Victor Gandarillas, LF Carl Hairston
Duds: 2B Robin Gordon (.250 Avg., .306 OBP nneds to improve for the veteran)
Outlook: The Arizona Devildogs are full of good talent in the minors that is just starting to arrive in the majors, headlined by SP stud Gandarillas. Veterans Hairston and Gordon are showing the new kids the ropes until they are ready, probably a season or two yet. Still, they are a feisty and competitive bunch and will acquit themselves well.
Prediction: 68-94, 4th place
Last Season: 86-76, 2nd place
Studs: 1B Orber Olivo, SP Orlando Manzanillo
Duds: SP Ray Strickland (8-15, 5.62 ERA not good enough for top of the rotation pitcher)
Outlook: The Hellraisers have a talented team in Helena, although not many people know it. Olivo should have been a MVP candidate but was oddly snubbed last season, but is hoping to duplicate his 73 HR season with better results this year. If underachieving pitchers Strickland and Brian Wells can up their games the Hellraisers should challenge for a playoff spot.
Prediction: 91-71 2nd place
Los Angeles Drillers
Last Season: 80-82, 3rd place
Studs: LF Bartolo Castilla, C Patrick Stanton
Duds: SS Glendon Hatcher (Unless .256 avg can improve, this talented glove will be on the bench)
Outlook: The Drillers are looking to challenge for a wildcard berth this season behind several talented position players including slugging catcher Stanton, LF Bartolo Castilla, and Rookie of the Year Donne Harding. The pitching staff lacks a true #1 starter but is solid otherwise. If the hitting can carry the team then they might sneak into the playoffs.
Prediction: 82-80, 3rd place