New York Yank-Mes
What Went Right: Outstanding defense and pitching limited opposing offenses to a mere 624 runs, or less than 4 per game – an S7 best in Griffey. As a result, the Yank-mes claimed their 3rd consecutive NL East crown…the offensive duo of Alan Green and Jeremy Brooks belted a combined 82 HR while driving in 240 to power the offense…SP Terry Torres posted a career best 2.11 ERA, garnering the NL Cy Young Award. Torres was one of three Yank-me pitchers on the NL All-Star squad, appearing alongside teammates Juan Cordero and Douglas Gagne.
What Went Wrong: Perennial MVP candidate Jeremy Brooks posted strong numbers relative to almost any other SS in Griffey, but took a sizeable step backwards relative to his own past season totals…the Yank-mes were hard luck losers in a memorable extra-inning Game 7 NLCS battle with the Fargo Fuzznuts.
S8 Outlook: Brooks is still a valuable fixture at SS with both the bat and glove, but has started to show his age. His HR totals have declined each of the past two seasons, and his S7 total (35) fell 14 short of his previous low (49 in S6). Look for the Yank-mes to turn to farmhand Maximo Rodgers, or possibly Julian Henry to stem the power loss. The Yank-mes should still have another run in them in S8, but could show a steep decline going forward in the “post-steroid” era if manager gerald007 is unable to infuse some youth into a rapidly aging roster.
What Went Right: After Season 7, Michael Snow surely ran out of space on his mantle for any new awards. The second baseman won his 6th consecutive Silver Slugger and won his 3rd NL MVP (but somehow missed the All-Star team)…Atlanta made its 6th consecutive playoff appearance, with the last 3 coming as a Wild Card. During this run, Atlanta has won no fewer than 91 games in a season… Griffey legend Greg Perez left via free agency, which allowed the Ripettoes to pick 3 times in the first round of the amateur draft, stocking an already rich farm system further.
What Went Wrong: The Ripettoes got off to a slow start in S7, but, sharing a division with the Yank-mes, had no room for error. Despite this, Atlanta was on top of their game heading into the playoffs, before falling to a weaker Los Angeles Mojo team in the first round of the playoffs.
S8 Outlook: Atlanta manager jabronidan has been aggressively pursuing a top flight starting pitcher for the past few seasons. The Ripettoes have a deep enough farm system to make it worth a trading partner’s while, if only they could find the right seller. Such a trade could return Atlanta to the top of the division in Season 8.
Pawtucket G-Maniacs (S8 – Louisville Lumberjacks)
What Went Right: Pawtucket obtained Lou Mills from Little Rock, and the 1B/LF ripped 33 HR and 126 RBI--the veteran’s sixth consecutive 30+ HR campaign…rookie Don Donovan, acquired from Cheyenne in S6 for veteran SP Orlando Romero, got a mid-season cup of coffee and made the most of it ripping 40 extra-base hits in only 253 at-bats.
What Went Wrong: SPs Josh Bere and Benny Campbell appear to have the makeup to be effective in the rotation, but again posted disappointing seasons. As a result, the G-Maniacs allowed more runs than all but four teams – two of which were in complete rebuilding mode.
S8 Outlook: With Mills and Donovan, the Lumberjacks have some big bats to build around. Key defensive pieces are present, as well, including 2B Bernard Alston and SS Wes Coles. However, the Lumberjacks desperately need to improve their run prevention if they wish to compete in S8. Few pitching options appear available in the minors, but Louisville may have the payroll flexibility to address the problem via free-agency.
Rochester Regal Beagles
What Went Right: Young CF Clint Loaiza drove in 108 Beagles, which accounted for 13.6 percent of all Rochester runs…All-or-nothing slugger Ernest Cyr counterbalanced 120 Ks with 32 HR…Rochester drafted Vic Venafro with the 8th pick in the draft. Venafro doesn’t appear to have the stamina to be a starting pitcher, but may end up having the filthiest stuff of any pitcher in the Season 7 draft.
What Went Wrong: Read “What Went Wrong” for the G-Maniacs above – The Regal Beagles were one of those four teams.
S8 Outlook: Defensive whiz, 2B prospect Ricky Latham, should be ready for a starting job at the ML level. Regal Beagle pitchers should benefit from his glove, and his bat should be more than passable. AAA slugging prospect Willis Cota could be an effective right-handed platoon partner with Ernest Cyr. However even with those promotions, it is difficult to see a competitive Beagle squad in Season 8. Given a low payroll, look for Rochester to be active in the International market.