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Monday, December 10
Plaza Lions

2001 record:
100-62 (.617); 2nd place in AL Central
Won AL Wild Card series over Santa Barbara in 7 games; Lost NL Divisional Series to Minnesota in 6 games

Major additions:
RHP Jose Lima, SS Tony Womack, 1B Kevin Young, C Scott Hatteberg,. RHP Mike Thurman

Major loses:
OF Luis Gonzalez, 2B Jeff Kent, LHP Tom Glavine, SS Rich Aurilia, OF Steve Finley, RHP Woody Williams, OF John Vander Wal

2001 Review:
Plaza enjoyed its best season ever in 2001, winning 100 games and advancing to the NL Divisional Series. While the Lions lost that series to the Mudcats in six games, the team’s regular season success and its Wild Card series victory over Santa Barbara nevertheless marked a high water mark for the franchise.

The key to Plaza’s 2001 success was its offense. Only the Cook County and Minnesota behemoths scored more runs than Plaza in the American League. Leading the offensive charge were DH Jeff Kent (.351, 39 HR, 140 RBI), OF Luis Gonzalez (.317, 33 HR, 151 RBI) and 2B Luis Castillo (.361, 138 R, 90 SB). The team’s top pitchers were LHP David Wells (19-11, 4.70 ERA, 157 K), RHP Gil Heredia (12-6, 4.36 ERA, 97 K) and RHP Armando Benitez (47 IP, 3.83 ERA, 36 SV)

2002 Outlook:
“Welcome to Crazy Johnny’s Plaza Lions Fire Sale! All players priced to go! We have outfielders galore…Luis Gonzalez, Steve Finley, you name it! What’s that? Need an infielder? Well how about Rich Aurilia! Or even Jeff Kent! And I haven’t even mentioned starting pitchers like Tom Glavine or Woody Williams yet! So come on down today, because at Crazy Johnny’s we’re always looking to make a deal!”

Following its playoff run in 2001, Plaza was hit hard when the heart of its team filed for free agency. The team lost Kent, Gonzalez, LHP Tom Glavine (19-8, 5.06 ERA, 133 K) and OF Steve Finley (.284, 39 HR, 105 RBI) among others. Knowing they could not repeat without such key players, Plaza has begun a rebuilding process of Avenger-like proportions. Unfortunately, its low-priced replacements for stars Kent, Glavine and Gonzalez are ragamuffins like Jose Lima, Kevin Young and Tony Womack. Ugh.

On the positive side, Plaza has already reaped a lot of rewards from its recent trade-offs. The Lions have picked up prospects LHP Ryan Anderson, OF Aaron Rowand and RHP Jake Westbrook. In addition, it has padded its bank account and acquired Morris’ 1st round draft pick in the upcoming 2002 draft. Still, though, the team will almost certainly plummet to a 100-loss season following its 100-win campaign in 2001, but at least the rebuilding wheels are in full motion.

And finally, pity poor Derek Bell. He escapes the hell of Metropolis only to find himself in the midst of all this. Our thoughts are with him.

Projected lineup
SS Tony Womack
2B Luis Castillo
3B Matt Williams
1B Mark Grace
C Mike Lieberthal
RF Derek Bell
DH Kevin Young
CF Tom Goodwin
LF Orlando Palmeiro

David Wells
Jose Lima
Paul Abbott
Gil Heredia
Mike Thurman

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