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Monday, December 10
La Crosse Lagers

2001 record:
88-74 (.543); 3rd place in AL West (as St. Croix Rivermen)

Major additions:
1B Mike Sweeney, RHP Dustin Hermanson, SS Ricky Gutierrez, C Damian Miller

Major loses:
RHP Jason Isringhausen, 2B Luis Alicea, LHP Kirk Rueter, C Brad Ausmus, 1B Fred McGriff

2001 Review:
A solid season came to a disappointing end when the-team-formerly-known-as the St. Croix Rivermen missed a playoff berth by just one game. In fact, this ending proved so disappointing that the team’s management resigned after the season. The franchise has subsequently moved to Wisconsin under new management and is now known as the La Crosse Lagers.

Key performers on offense for the team in 2001 were outfielders Ben Grieve (.305, 32 HR, 103 RBI), Johnny Damon (.287, 119 R, 41 SB) and Manny Ramirez (.286, 45 HR, 107 RBI). The team’s top pitchers were RHP Kevin Millwood (18-8. 3.31 ERA, 158 K) and RHP Jason Isringhausen (61 IP, 2.21 ERA, 30 SV).

2002 Outlook:
Although the team had barely finished moving into its new offices in La Crosse, WI, the Lagers quickly made their presence known in BRASSball. On the first day of the free agency period, the team announced multi-year agreements with a slew of new, talented players. In total, the team handed out over $35 million in contracts on this first day alone.

The biggest acquisition was free agent 1B/DH Mike Sweeney (.318, 27 HR, 97 RBI), who the team signed away from Box City. Sweeney will provide the Lagers with a big upgrade over last year’s 1B Fred McGriff (.253, 19 HR, 78 RBI), who has subsequently left via free agency himself to the North Georgia Yellow Jackets.

Another big signing, but more controversial, was RHP Dustin Hermanson (9-13, 5.56 ERA, 96 K). Hermanson is a talented pitcher who has had some success in BRASSball in the past, but has struggled in recent years. LaCrosse is confident that he will bounce back and provide much-needed depth to its rotation. He will replace LHP Kirk Rueter (12-12, 4.85 ERA, 57 K), who recently signed with the neighboring Minnesota Mudcats.

The team’s last two significant signings were SS Ricky Gutierrez (.275, 11 HR, 64 R) and hometown hero C Damian Miller (.316, 11 HR, 41 RBI), who was born in La Crosse, WI in 1969. Both will be key fielders on an otherwise shaky defensive team.

Despite these free agent gains, though, La Crosse also witnessed its share of losses. Gone are 2B Luis Alicea (.318, 8 HR, 64 RBI) to North Georgia and, perhaps most importantly, closer Jason Isringhausen to Gem City.

La Crosse must now count on the young but talented Octavio Dotel as its main reliever next season, with RHP Scott Strickland in place as an insurance policy. It also needs potential ace Carl Pavano to bounce back from last season’s elbow surgery and provide a solid 1-2 punch along with Millwood

With an intimidating lineup in place, the fate of the new La Crosse Lagers will lie largely with the health and success of its pitching staff. A playoff berth is a distinct possibility, but as go the arms will go the 2002 La Crosse Lagers.

Projected lineup
CF Johnny Damon
SS Ricky Gutierrez
LF Manny Ramirez
RF Ben Grieve
DH Mike Sweeney
3B Eric Chavez
C Damian Miller
1B Scott Spiezio
2B Jerry Hairston Jr.

Kevin Millwood
Dustin Hermanson
Carl Pavano
James Baldwin
Bruce Chen

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