|| Key Departures
|| Key Acquisitions
| Holbrook Hawks
|| SS Kurt Abbott, 2B Jose Vidro
|| The Hawks have three aces entering their prime, a couple waiting in the wings, and an elite hitting Carlos Lee to lead the charge back to defend their ’03 championship. As long as the bats around Lee can help put up enough runs, they should be back in the playoff hunt in ’04.
| Pittsburgh Champions
|| SP Kirk Reuter, CF Matt Lawton, 2B Chuck Knoblauch, RP John Wetteland, RP Cal Eldred, RF Gary Sheffield, SP Bryan Rekar
|| SP Josh Fogg, SP R A Dickey, CL Hisanori Takahashi
|| Any team with an elite bat and arm like Chikafuji and ARod has the potential to be dangerous. If they can avoid injuries, the Champions will be in the hunt this year again.
| Florida Flamingos
|| SP Scott Erickson, SP Jose Contreras
|| No surprise in the deep AC East but the Flamingos will also be a contender in ’04. If Lilly and Johnston stay healthy, their pitching will be very scary.
| Philadelphia Brotherhood
|| LF Luis Saturria, C AJ Pierzynski, 1B Russ Johnson, 2B Ramon E Martinez, SS Orlando Miller, C Javy Lopez, LF Roger Cedeno, 2B Craig Counsell, RP Jeff Pierce, SP Bobby J Jones
|| LF Pie-qi Bu, CL Armando Benitez, C Scott Hatteberg, C Ben Davis, 2B Chuck Knoblauch, 1B Eric Karros
|| Philly will score runs with ManRam and Everett in the heart of their order, but they lack the depth and pitching to put up enough wins in their division, and should fall just under .500 this year.
| New Orleans Voodoo
|| SP RA Dickey, SP Dong-chan Lee, 3B Scott Spiezio, LF Jim Edmonds, 3B Deivi Cruz, RP Mark Wohlers, SP Kevin Tapani, C Johnny Estrada, RP Hector Mercado
|| RP Chuck Ricci, SP Ienobu Asano, RF Larry Walker, SP Glendon Rusch, 3B Melvin Mora, RP Scott MacRae
|| New Orleans management was not happy to watch Bonds sign with Portland, and made a few smaller moves instead. Their starting rotation is so-so but their bullpen is good quality. If their lineup, with only a couple minor holes, can put up enough runs for a lead, they should surpass last year’s win total and contend for the division again.
| San Antonio Armadillos
|| 1B Brian Daubach, C Chris Tremie, CF Chip Ambres, 2B Jed Hansen, RP Mike Myers, SP John Thomson, CL Kevin Olsen, RP Jose RF Santiago, RP Clay Condrey, SP Nelson Figueroa, 1B Greg Colbrunn, 3B Olmedo Saenz, SP Reid Cornelius, RP Chuck Ricci, CL Hisanori Takahashi, 3B Melvin Mora, SS Jose Offerman, RF Tim Salmon, LF Tony Longmire, SP Ryan Bowen
|| 2B Russ Johnson, LF Luis Gonzalez, RF Brian Giles, RP Shawn Sedlacek, LF Pat Watkins, SP Bobby J Jones, 3B Wes Helms
|| San Antonio had a lot of turnover during the off season, but have landed with a strong roster top to bottom. Their weak point will be their bullpen, but that’s nothing a mid-season trade or call-up couldn’t remedy. The Armadillos should be for real this season.
| Regina Reapers
|| CF Willie Harris, 1B Sean Casey, SP Matt Beech, CL Armando Benitez, SS Hanley Frias, SP Brad Radke, LF Mario Valdez
|| The best move made in Regina this off season was locking up backstop Rodriguez to a long term extension. Pitchers love throwing to him, and his presence behind the plate will maximize the results of Oswalt, Shields and the like. Look for Regina to be in the mix if healthy, or sellers who could capitalize on the market if they are off to a slow start.
| Gobbler’s Knob Turkeys
|| RP Paul Spoljaric, C Gregg Zaun, SP Pat Hentgen
|| SP Bryan Rekar, 2B Jose Vidro
|| The Turkeys are in the wrong conference with three top flight first basemen leading their team. But, with some good roster management, they could find themselves in contention down the stretch. The handling of top pitching spec Zack Greinke, starting ’04 in AAA, will be interesting to watch.
| Portland Beavers
|| CF Randy Winn, SS Yoo-hyun Hwang, SP Mike Hampton, C Ben Davis, 2B Aaron Miles, CF Pat Watkins, SP Bret Saberhagen, RP Scott MacRae
|| RF Barry Bonds, C Johnny Estrada
|| The Beavers get the gold star by spending every penny they had on super slugger Barry Bonds. His presence solidifies their lineup as the scariest in all of baseball. With a pitching staff one or two notches below Portland standards, they’re not going to be invincible, but are certainly poised to squash the competition in the AC West.
| Yellowknife Targaryens
|| C Toby Hall, RP Greg Gohr, RP Bryce Florie, SS Mark Loretta, SP Steve Avery, 2B Wil Cordero, 1B Larry Walker, LF Shannon Stewart, RP Derek Wallace, SP Aaron Harang
|| C AJ Pierzynski, 2B Brooks Conrad, 1B Richie Sexson
|| The Targaryens will be asking a lot of their 22 year old superstar CF Valadez, but have a strong rotation capable of pinning teams down night after night. Time will tell if moving Harang from a position of depth for Sexson to bolster the offense was the right play, but Yellowknife is ready to compete this year.
| Palo Alto Pranksters
|| RP Jim Mecir, C Jason LaRue, CF Rod Myers, 3B Joe Randa, LF John Gall, CF Mike Curry, RF Edgard Clemente
|| C Gregg Zaun
|| After falling short in ’03, the Pranksters were a little strapped for cash with the CC Sabathia contract on their books. Their pitching looks very scary on paper, but analysts don’t predict a strong enough offense to make a serious push this season.
| Cardiff Bay Barrage
|| LF Brian Simmons, CF Kerwin Moore, RP Jason Christiansen, LF Julio Zuleta, RP Tim Davis
|| SS Mark Loretta
|| Not much in or out of the California coastal town this off season. The Barrage have some interesting young players, including possible ROY candidate SS Rodriguez, but are lacking the top to bottom depth of a true contender.
| New York City Baseball Club
|| RP LaTroy Hawkins, SS Liu Rodriguez, C Dave Nilsson, RF Marvin Bernard, SP Kevin Appier, 1B Robin Ventura, RP Tim Crabtree, LF Luis E Gonzalez, RF Sammy Sosa, 2B Brooks Conrad, 1B Richie Sexson
|| CF Preston Wilson, SP Brandon Duckworth, RP Mark Wohlers, SP Reid Cornelius, SP Kirk Reuter, SP Pat Hentgen, SP Aaron Harang, 2B Hanley Frias
|| Rumors had Sexson out of Manhattan much earlier than it actually happened, and it was a nice deal to snag a young controllable arm in Harang in the process. The QO acceptance by Andruw Jones shocked NYC management, and beat writers complained that it prevented them from targeting Bonds. But the Baseball Club has another strong roster to push 90+ wins in 2004 with.
| Old Bridge Titans
|| RP Jason Isringhausen, RF Brian Giles, 2B Ray Durham
|| After throwing all their chips in the middle yet still falling short of the playoffs in ’03, management left their NJ headquarters for the Caribbean and didn’t come back until Spring Training. While they have some talent to work with, a more active off season was probably needed to put up a fight in the division with NYC and COI.
| Coney Island Whitefish
|| CL Matt Mantei, SP Glendon Rusch, SP Brandon Duckworth, SS Adam Kennedy, LF Jason Tyner, 1B Wes Helms
|| 3B Olmedo Saenz
|| The Whitefish are scary just about everywhere. Their defense will also get a boost as Chipper has transitioned to first base where he won’t hurt them as much. If their pitching can stay healthy, they will be favorites to come out of the Ruth Conference two years in a row.
| Charleston Rebels
|| CF Marlon Byrd, RF Preston Wilson, SP Paul Wilson, SP Kane Davis, LF Garret Anderson, RP Jose Acevedo
|| 1B Wil Cordero, LF Julio Zuleta
|| The Rebels lineup is getting stronger and more interesting, but their pitching staff is relatively weak and will probably get knocked around by inter-divisional foes. It will be fun to watch 20 year old CF phenom Loronha play his first full season in the UBA, however the result.
| Fargo Rage
|| SP Mark Thompson, RP John Ericks, C Scott Hatteberg, SP Tim Hamulack, 3B Julio Romero, CF Lance Berkman
|| SP Brad Radke, 2B Pedro Santana, 3B Deivi Cruz, SP Mike Hampton, RP Paul Spoljaric, RP Hector Mercado
|| The Rage are light on superstars, but are solid everywhere. Their pitching depth, especially, will keep them in the hunt all season long. Analysts are not buying the Dallas trade, and have noted they have become much less scary without Romero and Berkman in the lineup and Hamulack out of the ‘pen.
| Dallas Daredevils
|| RP Travis Miller, LF Marty Cordova, SP Mike Sirotka, RP Todd Jones, 2B Pedro Santana
|| RP Troy Percival, SP Willie Banks, SP Mike Grace, SP Tim Hamulack, 3B Julio Romero, CF Lance Berkman, SP Derek Wallace
|| Dallas got much better this off season, and are excited to insert Romero and Berkman into their lineup from divisional rival Fargo. But beat writers are knocking the use of Hamulack in the rotation where many scouts believe he’s best suited for relief duties only. If the Daredevils can sort out their rotation, they will be a tough team to beat in 2004.
| Toledo Troutheads
|| 1B Dmitri Young, C Benito Santiago, LF Juan Gonzalez, 3B Kevin Mitchell, SP Melindo Perez
|| RF Gary Sheffield
|| Analysts were high on Sheffield being signed under the radar while everyone else was fighting over Bonds, but then the Troutheads went quiet. Although they have a solid roster, they are strangely weak up the middle in key spots like CF and SS. Toledo will be competitive, but will probably fade by August.
| Eden Prairie Landsharks
|| SP Geremi Gonzalez, LF Todd Hollandsworth
|| With the strongest bullpen in baseball, the Landsharks hope to make it over the hump and out of their division. Prospect watch: #11 overall SP Maine starting ’04 in AAA.
| Hollywood Stars
|| SS Barry Larkin, LF Jermaine Dye
|| SP Dong-chan Lee
|| It’s the end of the Larkin era in Hollywood, but their lineup is still very strong with Piazza and Beltre (who received a lucrative extension) as anchors. Solid pitching will be tougher to come by, so the Stars may be on the wrong end of slugfests too often.
| Seattle Steelheads
|| RP Joe Hudson, RF Lyle Mouton
|| 2B Willie Harris
|| Seattle got over the hump last season, and could possibly have the scariest Big 5 rotation with Haren, Gonzales, Lyon, Hill, and Ramirez. The downside? None are over 24, so the lack of experience may come into play down the stretch. But that is a problem most other teams would kill to have, and it looks like the Steelheads are here to stay.
| Phoenix Firebirds
|| LF Barry Bonds, RP Ramiro Mendoza, RP Dilson Torres, C Vance Wilson, 3B Chris Clapinski, RP Curt Lyons, RF Bobby Higginson, RP Bob Wickman, SP Ienobu Asano, RP Paul Quantrill
|| SP Mike Sirotka
|| Phoenix looks to enter the world of rebuild as their run, fueled by high octane offense, looks to be up now that Bonds is wearing a Beaver uniform. Look for Firebirds to be sellers in the market this July.
| Oregon Ducks
|| RP Alberto Reyes, LF Jeremy Giambi, SP Roger Pavlik, C Tyler Houston, SP Ryosei Fukuda
|| 2B Shinji Sakurai, CF Jim Edmonds, SP Steve Avery, SP Melindo Perez
|| Jason Giambi entered camp less than pleased as his brother was let go and there were rumors swirling that he was being shopped. With a deflated captain and a roster lacking the depth needed for 162, expect 2004 to be rough for the Ducks.