2014 Season Preview

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Much has changed since the end of 2013 with teams shuffling players around a deck of cards in Vegas.  Bronze teams, which generally had ample cash, were particularly active with teams like Anaheim, Vancouver and Toronto making big splashes in free agency.  How the Bronze standings end up is truly anyone’s guess.  Nashville was the least active of the group due to financial constraints and thus will likely remain in the bottom half of the standings for 2014, but outside of that, first place could literally go to a half dozen teams.  Gun to my head, I think Anaheim takes the championship.  Many of their young players continued to develop over the past year, they made several aggressive signings and added through trade one of the better first basemen in the game (Bob Brown) dealing from their strength in the outfield to acquire him.  The Ducks truly took a win now approach this off-season, and while some question the size and length of some of the contracts handed out, success in 2014, with a corresponding revenue boost, could mean that Ducks GM Chris Duda has the last laugh after the dust settles.

The picture in Silver is perhaps a little clearer.  Dallas should be the clear favorite with a dangerous rotation and infield and the same core from their 2013 Bronze Championship.  A high payroll, second highest in the league, is a legit concern, but for now, they are a force to be reckoned with.  Overall, silver teams weren’t too terribly active this off-season.  In an effort to get back into the green, Minnesota made a couple of trades that saw them shed over a half a million in salary.  New leadership in Long Island is still working on figuring out which direction to take the team. The Oilers remain hampered by their financial situation, but with only $5.1 million committed in 2015, the Oilers GM will be able to dramatically reshape the team to his liking over the next couple of seasons.

Similar to Bronze, pundits expect Gold will be extremely competitive with most of the teams having a shot at all the glory.  It will be interesting to see how recently promoted Colorado and Philadelphia adjust to life in the top tier.  I suspect Colorado’s pitching staff, which is likely the best in the league, will at least carry them to a playoff birth if not more.  After finishing first in gold last season, the Devils return with largely the same group of players…starting pitching on the Devils is the team’s primary weakness so it will be interesting to see if the offense can carry them to success again.  Tampa Bay’s GM is always looking for a blockbuster deal so you know his team will evolve throughout the season if needed.  My gut says pitching and defense rule the day with Colorado becoming the 2014 Gold League champion…