Nashville Rebel Riders (93-69) 1st place
Question: Will Nashville once again lose to Cleveland in the playoffs?
Answer: Gerald Kojima has quietly managed to rack up 149 wins in his career, and should have at least one more good season in the tank.
Player to watch: Jeremy Hernandez was a nice FA signing by the Riders, and should form a nasty middle of the lineup with Enrique Guardado and Pedro Franco.
Outlook: 92-70 - 1st place. Nashville is a very solid team and well balanced in the lineup and the rotation. The addition of Hernandez to the lineup will help fend off Mexico Cities up and coming pitching stars, but Lars thinks that the Nashville fans had better enjoy their run while they can, because outside of the big three in the middle of the lineup and a few of their starters, this is a team that is aging in key positions, and might not be able to hold off the young guns south of the border that much longer.
Mexico City Diablos Rojos (90-72) 2nd place
Question: Can the old fogies in the lineup keep their bats young for another season?
Answer: The fans in Mexico City aren't experiencing double vision, it really is Eric Collins x2 in the rotation, and both of them are quality starters.
Player to watch: Hades Booker needs to fight off father time and his injury prone history for the Diablos Rojos to have a shot..
Outlook: 91-71 - 2nd place. Lars really likes this team, but gets the feeling that there is much more to be had from the rotation and lineup than what the fans in Mexico City have been getting the last few years. The rotation features three electrifying young arms in the Collins' and Geoff Washington, and a powerful lineup with Booker, Domingo Montana, and Woody Olerud, but for some reason the team just hasn't meshed the last few seasons. So even though Lars likes their team better than Nashvilles, he is going to pick them to finish second just to be safe. But if this is the year they put it together, they could do some damage.
Charlotte Dogs (66-96) 3rd place
Question: Will the call up of the two best pitching prospects in the system result in more wins?
Answer: Milt Serafini anchors an improved offense, and should challenge for the AL batting title.
Player to watch: Eric Holdridge is the most touted pitching prospect in the history of the franchise, and makes his ML debut this season.
Outlook: 82-80 - 3rd place. With the offseason improvements made by the team in signing Ignacio Lopez, and calling up rookies Holdridge, Rod Ross, Pete Jensen, and Ossie Bryne the Dogs are making an attempt to finish above .500 for the first time in team history. Lars thinks that the Dogs are much more balanced then they have been in the past, and could cause some troubles for the rest of the AL South. That being said Charlotte still can't match Nashville or Mexico City.
Kansas City Express (53-109) 4th place
Question: Who will Kansas City select with the #2 draft pick?
Answer: the 34 million dollar payroll leaves a lot of flexibility for signing international prospects and draft picks.
Player to watch: Thurman Tresh has all the potential in the world, but you can bet he won't be seeing time in the bigs this year as K.C. doesn't want to stunt his development.
Outlook: 51-111 - 4th place. Lars is nothing if not brutally honest, and in being honest he will tell Times Herald readers that the Express ML squad is more like snail mail with free 20 shipping. Of course everyone knew that this was going to be the case, as the team was not in good shape when the management of rawdk took over. It will take a few more seasons of solid drafts and prospect signings for this ship to be turned around, but things are definitely on the right track in Kansas City.