Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald
Last Season: 81-81, 3rd place
Studs: SP Bernie Lopez, 2B Jim Green
Duds: SP Josias Lopez (6-18, 5.51 ERA not the development Huntington wants to see in this young pitcher)
Outlook: The Hillbillies boast a talented roster of young players who have been steadily improving since the rebuilding project began in season 3 in Huntington. This should be the year they get back above .500 and challenge for a playoff spot. Ace Lopez heads a solid staff and should get help from Joaquin Cruz and David Encarnacion. The lineup features a healthy amount of talented internationals in David Kwon, Tony Cruz, Jung Lee, and Max Posada. If they can continue to improve their production at the plate the Hillbillies should be in good shape.
Prediction: 87-75, 2nd place
Last Season: 89-73, 2nd place
Studs: SS Domingo Montana, SP Eddie Rivers
Duds: IF Paul Lundquist (Took a step back with .263 BA in season 6)
Outlook: Jackson has always been competetive in the NL South, but might take a step backwards this season as the loss of free agent Roosevelt Lowell to division rival Louisville leaves the team with less hitting than before. Montana will still get his, but where the production will come from elsewhere remains a question. The pitching will still be very good, with Rivers and Christian Brantley leading the rotation. Still, a wildcard berth is not out of the question if someone else in the lineup has a good year.
Prediction: 86-76, 3rd place
Last Season: 104-58, 1st place
Studs: SS Dallas Kline, SP David Rosado
Duds: LF Rob Quinn (The slugger started to show his age with a drop in production last season)
Outlook: Louisville loaded up in the offseason to make a run befor their core players fall victim to father time. Bigtime free agent signing Roosevelt Lowell joins MVP and HOF lock Dallas Kline, Pat barber, Quinn, and Vitas Newman to form a fearsome veteran lineup that is the equal of any in the league. The pitching is rock solid as well with Cy Young Rosado and Talmadge Young heading a rotation full of aces. Louisville should win the division this year, but their window is starting to close.
Prediction: 102-60, 1st place
Last Season: 33-129, 4th place
Studs: IF Ron Leon, SP Juan Cortazar
Duds: CF Benji Molina (AVG. dropped from .302 to .255 after trade from Omaha)
Outlook: The Cohibas had a rough season last year as they jettisoned old and overpaid talent for young prospects. But the future is bright and there should surely be an improvement this year as Leon and the rest of the young Cohibas continue to improve. Look for Cortazar to have a better record, and Harry Gload to also do better in the rotation. No playoffs this season, but the NL South better be on the watch in season 9, when the Cohibas should be a force to be reckoned with.
Prediction: 58-104, 4th place