We’ve got the draft complete and we’re ready to go.

I think I had a bit of an edge this year for 2 reasons. 1) All teams were required to keep 9 players – so each team can only start rebuilding from the 10th round on. 2) We used the on-line Yahoo draft applet, so we did a "snake" draft. This means, the team that drafts first in the first round, drafts last in the second round, etc. It is designed to even out the positions in a draft so that there is no advantage gained from the (normally random) order of the draft. Since we’re keeping players and we go in reverse order of last season’s standings, I think a snake draft is not the right way to go. We’ll see, but I expect that the teams in the upper half last year will be in the upper half again this year.

We’re using pretty much the same points based system, but doing our own head-to-head standings and playoffs. I will be running simulated stats again to further test our point system.

Chris’s Predictions

Last year’s commissioner and GM of the Jet City Joes, Chris Peterson, has made his pre-season predictions. I think they look pretty accurate. Further reinforcement of my feeling that the draft set up favors keeping the top teams on top.

The Cream

1. Oakland Egrets

DSFBL’s version of Murderer’s Row, general manager Dan “Smitty” Smith has assembled this lineup through shrewd trading in previous years Call it delayed gratification, and this is the year. A-rod, Vlad, Soriano, Berkman, and Pujols are in everyone’s top ten, and they are all found on this roster. If Halladay can repeat 2002 and Josh Beckett learns to keep the fingertips well moistened, the pitching staff also is among the league’s elite. But what about the rumors that the team has already made plans to relocate to Arizona, and will they have internet access there? We see no ill effects, and the first baseball title for Smitty – our fifth different champ in 5 years.

2. Durham Bulls

GM Alex King morphed this squad from worst to first last year, the trend will not reverse in 2003. This team is stocked at all positions, and has a roster full of live arms, even if high draft pick Johan Santana moves to the pen. Health is the key here. Ace Pedro Martinez, and sluggers Helton and Garciaparra are all DL candidates. Can Lowe pull off an encore performance? Our guess is not, and the Bulls will find themselves on the outside looking in, but barely.

The Contenders

3. Georgia Peach Fuzz

This commissioner owned team is no Montreal Expos. Miggy-T is in a contract year, so expect big numbers once again from the MVP, even though it looks like Brian “Bip” Roberts won’t be able to resign him in 2004. Giambi and Sosa could book triple figures jacks combined. Robbie Alomar must rebound, or otherwise the rest of the infield is shaky. Hudson and Zito are joined by 19 game winner Jarrod Washburn, and one time 20 game winner Jamie Moyer in a deep rotation. If Gagne can save near 50 again, this team can contend for all the marbles.

4. Jet City Joes

Every year’s also ran, the Joes franchise has finished in 2nd place 3 times before last year’s 3rd place finish. This year will be no different as the talented but aging Joes will rely on a deep pitching staff to cover up some weaknesses. If Derrek Lee emerges as a superstar and Boone repeats 2001, a title is a possibility. A healthy Juan Gone is also key, but pinning hopes on his well being is a dangerous proposition. GM Chris Peterson broke the championship ice in football this past winter, but that’s where the magic ends.

Looking Playoff Bound

5. Issaquah Incinerators

Slowly becoming one of the league’s steadiest performers, the youngest GM in the league Matt Peterson has assembled a solid but not spectacular team. If Griffey can come full circle to his pre-2000 self, Godzilla pulls an Ichiro, Hampton finds a new lease on life in Atlanta, Alfonzo becomes this year’s Jeff Kent in the SF lineup, and Sheffield stays healthy, there’s a chance. We see playoffs but a quick exit. Too many question marks.

6. Cal Forty Warsharks

Rookie GM Brian Eschen inherits a contender, but judging by draft day, may quickly turn it into a pretender. A solid core of both hitting and pitching is held over from the Johnston era, but a draft filled w multiple middle infielders, rookies, imports, and unproven players gives this team the look of a rebuilder. If potential is filled, we still see a solid playoff team, but if some key rookies flop, disaster is on the way. The outfield of Jones, Beltran, and Giles is one of the league’s best, but the middle infield is light.

On the Bubble

7. Ft Worth Armadillos

One more year of Johnson, Schilling, and pray for rain. This team will not put many runs up on the board as there is no one to protect Mike Sweeney. The hope of Dave Diercks’ crew is to sneak into the playoffs and hope for a few big starts from the horses. As we know, anything can happen in a one-game series, and this is the team no one wants to face.

8. Panhandle Zwinglians

Our other rookie GM Ben Sellers has inherited the 2000 champion, but the squad is a mere shadow of its former self. Strong starting pitching headlined by Colon, Miller, and Glavine will bolster this club, but much of the success could depend on Kevin Brown’s ability to go more than 100 IP this year. The offense’s potency could benefit if 1B Rafael Palmeiro shares some of his blue pills. If done properly, this could be a quick rebuilding process, but it’s not going to happen this year.

9. Washington Wallop

Last year this team was billed as 2005′s all star team. The way Scott Peterson manages, one year later it could easily become 2007′s all star team. Ignoring the present for the dogged pursuit of the latest prospect means that this team will stay in the second division. That said, this team has talent – Prior has Koufax-like potential, and the sky is the limit for Chavez, (still young) Andruw Jones, Dunn, and Kearns. On paper, this team could contend for a playoff spot, but management still needs to prove it can execute.

2004?

10. Wyoming Black Sox

Andy Diemer’s team is snake bit from the get-go, as star 3b/OF Phil Nevin is done for the year. One valuable keeper spot wasted, this team can ill afford that loss. This team now is in dire need of someone to guard the hot corner, and rumor has it that early trade attempts have been unsuccessful. Barry has the skills to hit 80, but in this lineup, no one will pitch to him.

11. Wapak Wannabes

Thome and Manny have some serious pop in their bats, but the offense falls off quickly after that, and the pitching is atrocious. If Danys Baez solidifies as a bona fide closer and Hoffman comes back from surgery quickly, the bullpen looks strong, but there is no depth or consistency in the rotation. Jack King’s team may benefit by trading some veteran stars for young blood, or the future could also look bleak. The fact is that Wapakoneta, Ohio is a small market and it will always be tough to compete, unless some sort of salary cap structure is implemented.

12. CC Rounders

Last year’s cellar dweller could repeat. The light hitting and aging lineup won’t be able to generate enough fire power to let the fairly deep pitching staff steal a few W’s. Morris and Wood are two of the league’s best young stud starters, and Roger Clemens can still bring it. GM Dave Diemer has a history of neglecting the matchup analysis and lineup tinkering necessary to survive in this league.