Blockbuster deal between Salem Volcanoes and Columbus Flatlanders

In the first major deal of the offseason, the Salem Volcanoes and the Columbus Flatlanders agree in principle to a trade that would send slugger Harry Moya and Starting pitcher Tony Delgado to the Flatlanders in exchange for prospects SP Dennys Satou, IF Bryan Ross and 3B Rico Ortiz. The move solidifies the Columbus rotation by adding an experienced veteran while adding the powerful Moya to an already feared lineup. Salem sheds salary and makes a clear movement towards a younger core. In addition, as part of the deal, Salem included defensive catcher Charles Wan and $3 million to cover the salaries of the departing veterans. Moya will be moving from 3B to RF for the Flatlanders.

Seattle: Will the Lightning Strike, or Strike out?

After a disappointing end to season 10, management has vowed to take an aggresive but different approach to improving their team. Unlike recent years, when the team has focused heavily in the acquisition of pitching, the new Lightning GM announced today that his team will focus on hitting and improving on base percentage. "We are looking to improve our offense while building on our existing strengths", adding that the team will "pursue trades rather than significantly add to the payroll by overspending in the free agent market". No details on likely deals were revealed.

Last year, the team traded away emerging star Endy Horton in return for pitching. Season 10 AL Rookie of the Year Pascual Roque returns for his sophomore season as the team's ace, anchoring a young pitching staff that is likely to include rookies Ivan Henriquez, Andrew Harris, and Willie Rivera. It is not yet clear what role Woody Mullin will play for the Lightning, after missing most of last season while recovering on the disabled list. Uncertainty also surrounds the role of former All Star closer Joe Gibbons, on whom the team holds a mutual option that has not been exercised. Even if he returns, Gibbons is likely to lose his role as closer if prospect Andres Melo is ready for the job.

In addition to Roque, other brightspots return from Season 10. Gold Glove award winner C Carlton Wilkinson and LF Jin-Chi Dong are secure in their spots. This should be an exciting season for the Seattle Lightning.

Who are the Detroit Shuffle?

The city of Detroit got a first glimpse at their new team, when the team unveiled their new uniforms and introduced their players at a press conference. The face of the franchise, 2-time all star 2B James Banks was the highlight of the event. Banks was called up during season 2 as a 20 yr old rookie, and has averaged 152 games per season, appearing in 1372 games in 9 full seasons (152 average per season), holding a career BA/OBA of .314/.380, scoring 100 or more runs 5 times (3 more times over 90 runs) and driving in 100 or more runs 6 times. Prominently absent was Howard Coco, who filed for free agency after hitting 47 HRs in season 10 for this franchise. Detroit's GM promised the fans that the team will have a fresh look, saying "we are entering a new era for this franchise and are looking forward to an active and productive offseason".

Franchises Relocating for Season 11

Management from several franchises informed the league commisioner that they would be relocating prior to the new season. Due to factors such as the sale of teams to new owners, decreasing fan base and a slumping economy, several franchises announced the moves today.

Saint Louis Redbirds move to Chicago and become the Billy Goats.
Driving a stake through the heart of the St. Louis fans, management decided to move the team to the rival city across state lines. The sale of St. Louis-based Anheuser Busch to InBev resulted in a significant reduction in corporate sponsorship of the St. Louis franchise, and team management seized the financial opportunity created by the departure of the Chicago franchise last season. Local St. Louis businessmen have united in an effort to bring back a franchise to the city.

Burlington Beavers become the Baltimore Blast
After a disappointing season, the owners of the Burlington Beavers sold to team to an investor from Baltimore, who announced that the team will relocate and become the Baltimore Blast. Reaction across the Baltimore harbor was extremely positive, and Camden Yards crews started working non-stop to prepare their field for opening day.

Scranton Barons become the Detroit Shuffle
In an effort to energize the city of Detroit, baseball is back in the motor city. A former majority owner of the franchise from its days in Chicago, bought out Dr J Kennedy and relocated the team to Detroit. Ownership had intended to return the franchise to Chicago, but the relocation of the St. Louis franchise forced them to accept a generous deal from the city of Detroit. Detroit welcomed the team with open arms and ownership promises to field a team to make the city proud.

Omaha Blackshirts to become the Salem Volcanoes
After a long tradition as the Omaha Blackshirts, Kneeneighbor Inc. announced today that the franchise was sold to the Caracarn Mgmt Group and the team is being relocated to Salem, where they will be known as the Salem Volcanoes. The Omaha fanbase had eroded after missing the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

Chicago Cubs become Saint Louis Kamikaze
In rounding out a series of franchise moves, the former NL North Chicago Cubs franchise was wooed to Saint Louis by a team of local entepreneurs. In the strangest of moves, the fanbase of Chicago and Saint Louis will find themselves rooting for the players considered arch-rivals last season.

Colorado Springs Fighting Falcons become the Anaheim Ducks
The franchise that saw three ownership teams during season 10 finally relocated to southern California, where the fanbase should provide some much needed stability. In addition, a great rivalry has already started with the concurrent relocation of a franchise to neighboring Los Angeles.

Tucson Taser's become the Los Angeles Diamond Kings
Los Angeles returns to the Mathewson world after a short absence, with the relocation of the Tucson Taser's. The new Diamond Kings look to follow the tradition of baseball started during season 1, when a Los Angeles franchise (based in the American League) was crowned as the first World Series champion.