Maybe it's this new space-age realignment that has me out of sorts, but just for fun, I'm trying something a little different this year. I'm grouping all 18 PGB teams into one of three categories: Contender, Tinkerbell, or Blossom. Read on, and I think you'll start to understand how this all works. Go 2022!
CONTENDERS: It shouldn't shock anyone if these teams are still standing in October.
Rochester: If there was ever a team designed to threaten the records of last year's El Dorado team, well...it's this team. The depth and quality are elite level. I do not, however, believe they will win all 162 games, so it's possible that Skipper Chad has left the door open just a crack.
White Bear Lake: Don't laugh—this team is really good. Ol' Dave Spurrier did a nice job of stocking the shelves before his departure last year, and new manager Paul Johnson had a solid winter adding complimentary pieces. Deep postseason run is in play here.
San Antonio: Scott Curtis has been buffing and polishing this roster for a couple years now, seemingly with the intent of everything jelling at once. They have a full rotation, nice depth, and I think Tatis and Ohtani might prove to be useful at some point during the season.
Homestead: No team announced a full-frontal attack quite like the Grays this year. Sure, the team hit a rough patch in recent years, but boy-oh-boy what an offseason. They added Corbin Burnes, Max Scherzer, and Lance McCullers, so believe me, this team is back!
Casper: I know, super boring pick, and super boring team, but most of the key pieces are back from last year's surprise champion. They won't win 100+ games again, but they won't need that kind of effort to position themselves for another crack at winning.
Brooklyn: They're baaaack. Russ has emerged from the dark days of "The Eric Haase Incident" to roar back with an aggression we haven't witnessed recently. An old-fashioned transaction frenzy has left the Trolleydodgers with a nice little squad. Pay attention here.
TINKERBELLS: Need to elevate with a nice trade and a little sprinkle of HAL's pixie dust.
Pensacola: Honestly, it was tough to leave the Crackers out of the top group, but they weren't helped much during draft season, and a few key guys took a backwards step. But don't kid yourself, they remain extremely dangerous, but not in Sam’s typical epic, domineering sort of way.
Charleston: Don't overlook them, but it's possible that Manager Jeff may have already used up his allocation of pixie dust in recent years on Trey Mancini and Luke Voit. It looks like the Low Sox will need just a bit more for them to make an extended appearance in the postseason.
Thunder Bay: Johnny had a solid re-entry into PGB last year, taking a team without much hope or direction and transforming them into a competent squad. Still not the most electrifying team, at least they've somewhat stabilized, and are poised for a continued ascent.
Vancouver: Trout is down for most of the season; that's gotta sting a bit, but all is not lost. Nice rotation is still in play with Musgrove, Ryu, and Roberto Clemente Award winner Trevor Bauer. And it's not like Jeremy ever gets gun-shy about making a blockbuster trade.
Santa Catalina: Well, the Basil King has put himself into position to acquire a lot of high-end talent in recent years, to the point where I don't need to squint very hard to see positive results. With a lucky dice roll or two, the Cowboys will stay in the thick of the race this year.
Gnawbone: I know the joke is getting pretty old by now, but bet against Sparky at your own peril. The Doves are at their best when nobody gives them a chance, and for the first half of 2021, everything went their way before fading. Can they hang in a little longer this year?
BLOSSOMS: Still maturing, but still not quite ready to exhibit their true beauty.
Branson: Swen, I still believe in the Knobbers. I want to believe Buxton will play 152 games and Jo Adell goes off for a 6 WAR season. And I desperately want to suspend reality again as you coax 40 more bombs from Zunino. But this year, it's getting harder to buy in.
Berlin: This team has been so close to next-level status for a while now, and I don't quite see 2022 as being a corner-turner. There's a lot of goodies on the roster, for sure, but not much in the way of game-changing superstars. C'mon, just add three or four of those, Paul!
Fairburn: Well, OK now, that was a nice winter for the Knights, as they re-built parts of the team. Getting Woodruff, Marquez, Kaprelian, and Cortes gives this team a good, young group to build around. A ways to go still, but suddenly there's a lot of positives happening in Burkettville.
Sheboygan: They went out and added Patiño, Ryan, and Manoah, which is absolutely fantastic. I just thought Boomer knew I was kidding when I told him we were drafting hitters separately this year. Already building up a nice war chest for next year's draft though.
Tenochtitlan: Funny to see a Tinkler-led team down this low, but let's look at the situation rationally: the team has been mothballed for a couple of years and he traded away a big chunk of draft assets for an even bigger stockpile next year. On track, but it's gonna take time.
Kelowna: Awww, our darling debutante, Ryan! The fickle finger of fate kind of crapped on this team, and it might take some time to dig out. But adding in Kelenic, Duran, Brujan, Larnach, and Lynch? That's exactly the formula I would use too. Watch out in 2025!
This is like Lucy holding the ball for Charlie Brown, but I'm picking Rochester to win it all for the 14th consecutive year, taking their first crown by beating White Bear Lake in the World Series.