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American League

Twins
There hasn't been much word on this team's future. Coming off of winning the league championship there doesn't seem to be much need for anything else for this team. That being said, a team should never be satisfied with what they have, and a possibility for this team would be to add a fifth player or replace a current player. A new player would most likely come from the newbie pool, and most likely a young pitching prospect that could serve as a reliever or closer. This being said, don't look for much to change with this team. In all likely hood next year's Twins will have K-Mart, Nelson, Edgar, and Jon in the lineup, and Edgar and K-Mart as the starting pitchers.

Yankees
The future of the Yankees is very much up in the air. The end of the Yank's season left a bad taste in everyone's mouth because they alienated many players (including the Commish) when they took off after losing in the playoffs instead of hanging around, wishing others good luck. There is going to be some major ass-kissing for those Yankees wishing to play next season.

Here's my recommendation for the Yanks: Cota will lick his wounds this off season and realize he needs wiffleball. He will beg to play season and will revamp the Yankees lineup by dropping certain players that were unreliable, and filling out the rest of the team with newbies and free agents. Next year's lineup could look something like this if all goes right this off season for the Yankees: (in no particular order) Cota, Willie, Gus, and Hendi.  Note that this will either happen due to the Brewers trading Hendi, or more likely just letting him go with no pay backs. Even more likely for this scenario to happen is if the Brewers split ways and dissolve the franchise.

The addition of Hendi could do wonders for this team. Cota might calm down a little, Hendi would provide the Yanks with an experienced backup pitcher in case Gus or Cota can't make the game, and he (Hendi) would also provide more offense for a questionable lineup

Royals
Word on the street is that Truck is leaving the Royals to form a new team with a combination of newbies and a few key potential free agents from last season. This team would then take the name the Red Sox. Truck will probably end up with a majority of newbies on this team, but there have been some talks about bringing The Pirate out of potential retirement to give the new Sox a killer one/two pitching combo.

This would put the leadership of the Royals in the hands of Mike P., who has been missing of late, making many wonder if he'll return for the sophomore season to lead the Royals, or let them dissolve, leaving Ol' man Dave and potentially The Rick as free agents. This will be an interesting development as the Old Man brings valuable experience and The Rick, if healthy, will get more than a few looks from the majority of teams out there.

Athletics
The big question for the A's is whether or not they will stay together as a team or count their loses and split ways next season. The word as of right now is that Mathis won't be playing for anyone next season due to the long HRL schedule. 911 has become a huge question mark as well as he has disappeared from the HRL radar, missing the last few games of the championship series and a few more games to boot. Tim Lange goes to school in Michigan and didn't play in many games this season (including the post season), so who knows what the future has in store for him. The Pirate is getting old which makes you wonder how long he'll be able to play at his hard-nosed level. Cheezy is the only player that has made a verbal commitment to coming back to the A's, but that seems to be only if the rest of the team makes the commitment as well, leaving his future in question.

Odds are that this team will disband and whatever players do decide to come back for a second season will be split up amongst other teams, whether those teams are new or old. Word has it that the Phillies might be interested signing Cheezy as their fifth player if he doesn't go to one of the new teams, and it has been mentioned that if The Pirate leaves the A's, or seeks retirement, that Truck will try to talk him into joining his new team in hopes of making a rather formidable 1-2 pitching combo. If 911 comes back for another season, it is possible that Truck would take this player on the new Red Sox as well, seeking as much experience as possible to help mold and shape the team's rookies.

National League

Phillies
Rumor has it that the Phillies are looking to add a fifth player to next year's roster to replace the missing member "Cookie." The word on the street is that Larry "Cheezy" from the A's might be available in the likely case that the A's disband as it is in question if that team will remain together.

Another possibility for the Phillies is Jim West. West has long showed his true passion for playing with the Phillies by dawning a Phillies cap during more than one of the Brewer's games. After some harsh fines by the league office Westy went back to the standard Brewers uniform, but the rumors haven't subsided. The other option for the Phils would be to bring up a player from their minor league resources or to draft a player from the upcoming crop of rookies.

Brewers
Will Westy leave the team? This question will be answered later in the off season, but as of right now it doesn't look likely. It all depends on whether he chooses to go to arbitration, or if he invokes his right to drop next year's option and go into free agency. If he does pick up his option with the Brewers, there is still a chance that the Brewers in turn would send him to the Phillies in a three-way trade also involving the Braves. This would leave the Brewers with no closer, but towards the end of last season they had been electing to let their starters finish out their own games.

The only serious rumor for the Brewers is that they might disband. Westy would then be free to move to the Phillies, Hendi would end up signing with the Yankees to be with Cota, and Joe L. would be a free agent, possibly going to a new team, but more likely signing with an established team like the Braves or the potential new Brewers led by Costa Rica. Recent talks have found that Ted has his own crop of newbies out there just waiting for next season to start.

Expos
So much is up in the air on this team that battled back last season from an 0-8 start. They fired it up and managed to make quite the comeback, almost defeating the A's in the first three game series. After all of this, the MLB announces that they will finally be moving the X's namesake out of Montreal into Washington, thus making for a name change for the franchise.

So what happens now for the HRL:Twin Cities Expos? It will come down to two things: One, the Expos must decide if they want to keep the Expo name, in which case they would have to petition to the Commish and the league owners to pass this request. Two, if the Expos decide to forfeit the name, they will either have to find a new MLB team to pattern themselves on, or take on the repositioned Expos name, whatever that may become in Washington.

As for player news, it is obvious that the X could use more pitching. Christian came on strong at the end of the season, and J-Ski pitched good all year, but there is still room for improvement as the remaining Expo pitchers went a combined 0-8 with two saves. Predictions are that next year's X will have quite the similar look to last year's apart from a possible name change and the addition of a reasonably priced pitcher.

Word also has it that the X are negotiating a deal that would make MLB Twins prospect Joe Mauer an Expo after his major league career comes to an end. Is there truth to this rumor or just fabrication? I guess we'll have to wait about fifteen or so years (perhaps only three if the young Mauer can't heal) to find out.

Braves
Just like the MLB Braves, this team showed so much promise going into the playoffs, but couldn't produce when it really counted. It doesn't seem like this team will require much tweaking, as they led the league in most categories last season and will have their core returning in the form of Sanchez, Rocket, and Chops.

This off season the Braves will look for improvement through the free agent market, possibly in the form of Rocket's brother (Torpedo) who was originally slated to play for the Braves last season before a job conflict interfered. To create space for Rocket's brother (Torpedo) the Braves will release Pablo, likely sometime before spring training. The next question for the Braves will be Tom Polseno. It is not a one hundred percent certain that Tom will be returning for next season and if he does it may not be for the Braves if he doesn't have a reliable form of transportation as next season's games may be split between Eagan and Hopkins. If Polseno activates his option for next season the Braves may trade him in hopes of dropping payroll and picking up a closer with a steady bat.

As it stands right now, next year's Braves should look something like this as long as Rocket's brother (Torpedo) passes his physical: Chops, Rocket, Sanchez, and Torpedo, with a pitching rotation of Rocket and Sanchez 1-2, and Chops and Torpedo both filling in when needed.

Posted in: HRL, Hot Stove

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