We're about to wrap up one of the biggest off-seasons (free agency-wise, at least) in Belle history - we could see some real shifts in the balance of power this year. Let's take a division-by-division look at who advanced their causes and who slipped backwards this off-season.
The Division Champ Salem Goonies probably made the biggest splash in the AL, adding stud SP Ruben James and late-inning relievers Geoff Sosa and Jacob Franklin. The did lose P's Al Taylor and Glen Moore, plus backup OF Vinny Ma, but come out way ahead. They were 2nd in the league in ERA last year - these moves could make them the favorite to reach the WS from the Junior Circuit. Off-Season Grade: A
Portland tried to keep pace with 3 big FA signings of its own: SP Al Taylor, OF Tomas Cruz and 2B Roy Drew. Their losses (SP's Nick Rando and Vance Scutaro) might be a bit more meaningful than Salem's, but Season 14's #4 pick, 3B Hong-Gu Kim, is ready to contribute and should pick up some of the slack. They should improve on last year's runs total of 753, but I think they've still fallen further behind the Goonies. Off-Season Grade: B+
Boise sat out free agency but didn't lose anyone of note; their biggest off-season move was the promotion of Season 14's #11 pick, IF Fred Ruffin, to the big league roster. The infield is a little overpopulated, but Ruffin will find plenty of AB's. Off-Season Grade: B
San Diego lost IF Alan Leach, although it's not a huge loss at this point in his career. They countered with 4 pretty nice FA pickups: SP Jimmie Feliz, who's coming off a pair of disappointing seasons but will love Petco's cavernous pastures; solid SS Archie Blake; reliever Glen Moore; and OF Alberto Pinzon, one of the top available hitters. The Surf Babies have 13 players aged 15 and under on the opening day roster...this version will be much-improved. Off-Season Grade: A