Cincinnati Roses (94-68)
Ariel Cortez anchors a pitching staff has been the strength of the team, but the loss of Preston Keller might be tough to overcome. Top teams excel on both offense and defense and the Roses will be counting on Season 18 co-MVP Damaso Colome and the continued emergence of Coco Hentgen in order to try to keep their offense in the Top 10 in scoring. The loss of Rudy Hayes is going to be troublesome. Small steps back on both offense and pitching will cause the team to regress.
Ottawa Ice (88-74)
Ottawa filled a key void with by signing Willie Bacsik. They are still slightly above average in run scoring and run prevention. The decline of Trenidad Espinosa has begun but the key is to make certain that the slope is long and slow. Glenn Strauss could be the successor to Jorel McGlinchy's reign as the premier AL centerfielder.
Madison Mad Dogs (82-80)
Madison is the biggest wildcard in the league. Last year's top scoring offense wasn't sufficient to support the AL's worst pitching performance. To address this, Madison signed Martin McCartney to try to tame one of the most punishing hitters' parks.
Scranton Breakers (75-87)
There ain't no party like a Scranton party, but Ben Thompson has left the building. The loss of that pitching stud and a lack of other moves suggests that a rebuilding phase is in force. Nonetheless, a respectable payroll and homegrown stud Lefty Thompson should keep the fans coming to the park, even if the playoffs look to be out of reach.
Cleveland Spiders (103-59)
The loss of Deacon Phillips caused the most consternation, but all the other key pieces are back from last year's 108-win team. Figure a half-step back. SS Enrique Astacio's move to shortstop makes him the preseason favorite for MVP, especially if he can put up another 50 homer season.
Pawtucket Patriots (84-78)
Pawtucket traded away Juan Pineiro for a nice complementary piece, but nothing that will help this year. The team could surprise if an underrated pitching staff led by Patrick Wallace and Matthew Gilbert catches fire.
San Juan Express (62-100)
Over each of the last year, the last two years and the last three years, San Juan has won less games and spent less money on their player budget than the execrable Indianapolis franchise. After winning 48 games last year they are in danger of violating the league's "55-win with two season allowance for correction" policy. However, this team's ownership is too well respected to think this will be an issue and top prospect William Funaki looks to start the season in the majors. A 62 win season gives them a 2-year average of 55 wins.
Boston Americans (61-101)
They've signed a few recognizable names like Yoo-Nah Torres and Vic Blanco in order to keep things interesting in Boston but not enough to be a playoff threat. A breakout year from Shea Frazier would make this team a potential spoiler.
Texas Rough Necks (96-66)
This team didn't make any moves, but outside of maybe a stronger #2 starter they didn't need to make any. Charlie Fleming has finally emerged as an ace after his breakout S18 campaign. Talent oozes from all the other positions. A career year from someone like former #1 overall pick Mike Boudreau could put this team over the top.
Monterrey Campeones (95-67)
Monterrey is aging and has lost perhaps their most intimidating lineup presence in Darren Owens. Power thread Juan Johnson is also gone. Nonetheless, the rest of the key ingredients are returning and perennial Cy Young contender Livan Lee is still in his prime.
Jackson Rage (77-85)
Jackson is a team in search of a new identity. After a few non-descript years as a team that leaned towards being a strong pitching and defense team without making bold strides in that direction, new ownership gets to put their stamp on the team. The first move was jettisoning Adam Vina and we'll see what moves are made in the wake of that. Season 18 Cy Young winner Bruce Dellucci signed a big contract extension and is a perfect piece to build around.
El Paso Suns (75-87)
They made a nice little move picking up complementary piece Sammy Reyes, but it seems like a crime to not surround such a strong tandem of middle infielders like Geraldo Johnson and Bob Wallace with more talent.
Helena Howling Sukebe (104-58)
Helena didn't make any big moves this offseason, but with a solid pitching staff and a powerful offense, this team was already primed for success. A full season from S14 first round pick Ken Yearwood might be enough of an addition to make waves in Helena without a spending spree.
San Jose Longballers (76-86)
Daryle Young was a huge signing last year that didn't have the desired impact. Still, in that ballpark, Young isn't going to put up huge numbers and the pitchers have to do better. San Jose needed to make some moves for some arms, perhaps they've got something up their sleeve.
Fresno Fanatics (65-97)
They lost Felipe Serra but brought back Jesus Guerrero at the last moment. And is there a Plan B if Miguel Perez's MVP year was an aberration rather than a sign of things to come?
Kansas City Beef Sox (59-103)
A huge changing of the guard in Kansas City. New management lets S18 Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Jorel McGlinchy walk and ends an era. The Melvin Hernandez trade was huge, but it remains to see how many high leverage innings Guerrero throws behind that starting rotation. The previous ownership didn't leave much talent on the roster. This team looks as if a long, rebuilding period is about to begin.
Wild Card Round
#6 Ottawa over #3 Texas as Trenidad Espinoza wins Games 1 and 5.
#5 Monterrey over #4 Cincinnati as Ariel Cortez duels Livan Lee to a draw in Game 1 but the Monterrey bats carry the day and the series.
#1 Helena over #5 Monterrey as the well rested Helena staff shuts down Monterrey.
#2 Cleveland over #6 Ottawa after Cleveland races to an early series lead by battering the backend of the Ottawa pitching staff
#2 Cleveland over #1 Helena as Cleveland continues its run of odd-season World Series appearances. Seasons 13, 15, 17 and now 19.