Season Analysis

1997-1998 Off-Season Recap

Team Key Departures Key Acquisitions Summary Grade
Holbrook Hawks RP Jeff Nelson, SP Melindo Perez, RP Jeff Fassero, C Joe Oliver, 1B Don Mattingly, RP Brian Shouse None The Hawks continue to operate in full rebuild mode, making no progress in improving the product on the field for the poor fans in Holbrook. Their farm system ranks #1 overall, however, so the future may be bright. C-
Pittsburgh Champions SP Tom Browning, LF Mark Whiten, 2B Luis Alicea, C Don Slaught, RP Miguel Batista, 3B Wade Boggs SP John Smiley, RF Gary Sheffield, C Brent Mayne, SP Greg Maddux Acquisitions of Smiley and Sheffield provide additional star power on a roster already poised to make a deep run this season. A-
Florida Flamingos RP Greg Olson, 2B Craig Grebeck, 3B Randy Velarde, 1B J T Snow RP Mark Dewey, C Joe Girardi, SS Jose Vizcaino, 3B Scott Brosius An incredible pitching staff, but a mediocre lineup looks like another year in the middle of the pack for Florida unless they can make some noise on the trade market during the season. Spring Training injuries look to make matters worse for the Flamingos in 1998. C+
Philadelphia Brotherhood SP Kirk Rueter, SS Jeff Reboulet, RP Rich Rodriguez, 2B Joey Cora, RP Bob Patterson, RF Tony Gwinn, SS Jose Vizcaino, C B J Surhoff RP Jeff Nelson, 3B Matt Williams, RP Rudy Seanez, RP Bruce Ruffin Key acquisitions in Nelson and Williams, and the Big Unit is back from his season ending injury in 1997. The Brotherhood will put pressure on Pittsburgh, but may end up fighting for the Wild Card slot if the Champions begin to separate from the pack. A-
New Orleans Voodoo 3B Ken Caminiti, C Dan Wilson, SS Fernando Vina, RP Norm Charlton, LF Dave Martinez, 2B Mickey Morandini, RP Heathcliff Slocumb, 1B Eric Karros, C Eddie Perez 3B Willie Greene, 1B Frank Thomas, CF Stan Javier, RP Chris Hammond Voodoo experienced a lot of turnover this offseason after getting knocked out of the playoffs in the Final Four Series. Caminiti will be sorely missed, but they hope inserting Thomas in the middle of their lineup will keep the offensive numbers up for an aging pitching staff. B+
San Antonio Armadillos LF Lee Stevens, 1B Mickey Tettleton, SP Tom Candiotti, RF Gary Sheffield RF Tim Salmon, SP Ramon Martinez Salmon isn’t quite Sheffield, but the Armadillos are still a solid team. Longmire looks to go 4 years in a row with 200+ hits to again lead the way. B-
Houston 36ers RP Bryan Hickerson, CF Devon White, SP Darryl Kyle 1B J T Snow, RP Yoritomo Mori, 3B Ken Caminiti New ownership made a splash by spending big dollars on Caminiti and Mori. Pudge will get the best out of a decent staff. Vlad Guerrero will look to make an impact for his first full year in the bigs. Things are shaping up nicely in Houston, which could lead to a 3 team dog fight for the division. A
Gobbler’s Knob Turkeys 2B Vinny Castilla, RP Jeff Russell RF Reggie Sanders Reggie Sanders is a big addition, but the Turkeys look like they are still a year or so out from serious contention. B
Portland Beavers SS Mike Sharperson, SP Kevin Appier RP Bob Patterson The Beavers maintain a roster that is quite solid from top to bottom, including one of the best pitching staffs in baseball. Still a favorite, even in the division with last year’s champ. B-
Yellowknife Targaryens RP David West, SP Bill Swift, C Greg Myers, RP Tim Scott RP Ken Ryan, SS Jeff Reboulet, SP Dave Burba, RP Jose Mesa, 1B Cecil Fielder, C Ron Karkovice, SP Melindo Perez, SP Bob Tewksbury Brought in some more pitching, but is still a work in progress. Look for key players to be on the block as the season progresses. B
Palo Alto Pranksters LF Glenallen Hill, RP Ken Ryan, RP Francisco Cordero, 2B Mark Lewis SP Chuck Finley, C Don Slaught, 2B Bip Roberts, LF Phil Plantier, SS Fernando Vina The addition of Finley and the maturation of Schmidt make the Pranksters rotation probably the scariest in baseball. Palo Alto looks ready to defend their title. B+
Sturgis Grizzlies 3B Dave Hollins, RP Greg Swindell, SP Mark Portugal, RP Jeff Brantley, 2B Jeff Treadway, LF Greg Vaughn, C Scott Servais, 3B Willie Greene, 1B Frank Thomas, SP Roger Salkeld, SP Chris Haney RP Brian Shouse, RP Jeff Russell, RP Heathcliff Slocumb, 1B Eric Karros, C Eddie Perez, RP Mike Timlin, LF Glenallen Hill, 3B Ed Sprague Jr, C Joe Oliver, C Chris Widger, LF Mark Whiten Very active offseason as they look to build on last year’s progress. Another very solid rotation (an AC West theme), and a few big time bats will certainly keep them in the hunt. A full season of Zuleta could replace Thomas’ presence in the middle of the Grizzlies lineup well. B+
New York City Baseball Club 2B Ryne Sandberg, RP Jose Mesa, LF Candy Maldonado, 1B Julio Franco, 1B Cecil Fielder, DH Chili Davis, C Scott Hatteburg, SP Kevin Jarvis, SP John Smiley, CF Stan Javier, SP Greg Maddux 1B Rafael Palmeiro, RP Miguel Batista, SP Kirk Rueter, LF Troy O’Leary, SP Jose Lima, SS Bill Spiers, C Greg Myers, 2B Mark Lewis, SP Kevin Appier Shed a lot of dead weight. Acquired Appier looks to lead a strong rotation, and Palmeiro will make the Baseball Club’s lineup deeper after Posada and Sosa. NYC looks to turn their fortunes around after making the WCS and losing two years running. A
Old Bridge Titans SP Chuck Finley, SP John Farrell, RP John Franco, RP Mike Perez, LF Jim Eisenreich RP Francisco Cordero, SP Roger Pavlik Old Bridge has entered rebuild territory and has begun making the right moves to build for the future, but still have some more moves to make before it can be considered a success. B
Coney Island Whitefish SS Alex S Gonzalez, SP Kevin Tapani, RF Tim Salmon None The Whitefish made moves to keep their young bats in Coney Island for the foreseeable future. They will also look for key call ups to contribute this season, but will probably finish second behind a very tough NYCBC. B-
Charleston Rebels RP Ricky Bottalico, RP Chris Hammond, SP Bob Tewksbury, SP Roger Pavlik None The Rebels aren’t ready to compete this year, but the fourth best farm system will be improved upon as they select 2nd overall in the upcoming amateur draft. C+
Bismarck Otto Vons 2B Howard Johnson, 1B Rafael Palmeiro, 3B Matt Williams, CF Derek Bell, RP Rudy Seanez, RP Bruce Ruffin, RP Mike Timlin, C Chris Widger C Scott Hatteburg, SP Kevin Jarvis, SS Alex S Gonzalez, SP Sean Estes, RP Dan Miceli, SP Darryl Kyle, SP Roger Salkeld, SP Chris Haney, 2B Kurt Stillwell, CF Chuck Carr Lots of movement in and out of Bismarck this offseason, which is how unorthodox GM Lippman prefers it. When all is said and done, they rank 3rd in farm system, and do not have any glaring holes in their lineup or rotation. A lack of star power might keep them in the middle of the pack, but we may see some top prospects debut this year to counteract that. B
Dallas Daredevils 3B Scott Brosius, SP Dave Burba, 2B Kurt Stillwell, 1B John Kruk, SS Bill Spiers, C Joe Girardi SP Sid Fernandez, SP John Farrell, SP Tommy Greene, SP Kevin Tapani Dallas needed pitching, and brought in some arms, but probably still fell short in this regard. While still boasting a powerful lineup, we may see some big names on the block come July. C+
Toledo Troutheads None RP Stan Belinda, Toledo probably needed to make a bit more noise this offseason if they wanted to get over the hump. C
Eden Prairie Landsharks LF Phil Plantier, 1B Chris Sabo, RP Stan Belinda, SP Ramon Martinez, C Brent Mayne RF Tony Gwynn Although no big moves made, the Landsharks are still the favorite in the RC Central. A few key call-ups could supplement their lineup and add needed run support to their solid staff. B-
Hollywood Stars RP Joe Grahe, 1B Wally Joyner, SP Tommy Greene, 2B Bip Roberts, CF Lance Johnson, SP Sid Fernandez, C Ron Karkovice, SP Bill Swift, 2B Luis Alicea, C Dan Wilson, RP Bryan Hickerson, RP Jeff Montgomery, 1B Don Mattingly Putting up runs won’t be a problem in Hollywood, but preventing them will. A weak pitching staff and no skilled outfielders will make for many high scoring affairs. B-
Seattle Steelheads SS Shawon Dunston, SP Rheal Cormier, RF Reggie Sanders, 3B Ed Sprague Jr None Seattle has a very solid lineup and a decent pitching staff. The loss of Sanders will hurt, but they have more young outfielders in the wings. Yet to put it all together, Seattle could be a sleeper pick to make a deep run this season. C+
Phoenix Firebirds RP Jeff Montgomery, CF Chuck Carr None The Firebirds are still easily the scariest offense in baseball, and will be the favorite in the RC West once again. Going deep into the playoffs has become a question mark for this squad. Maybe a mid season roster shake up can turn their playoff fortunes around. C
Vancouver Porcupines 3B Charlie Hayes, RP Mark Dewey, SP Sean Estes, RP Dan Miceli CF Derek Bell New management came in during spring training, leaving some question marks as to the team’s direction. But after making the playoffs two years running, the Porcupines still have enough punch to make waves in 1998 again. Look for Lance Berkman to be a key call up. C+

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