Life in their first off-season with the Chinese Professional Baseball League will begin for the Makoto Gida and the First Securities Agan in about two weeks.
As predicted by most experts before the season began, the two former TML teams will occupy the last two spots in the league standings as the season comes to an end.
What went wrong? Is there something that can be done to improve the overall level of competitiveness for the two clubs? What about the hired guns that were imported from abroad?
These are just a few of the questions that will keep their front office busy in the months to come. The uncertainties regarding the teams' sponsorship at the start of the season added to the low morale.
It was not official until a couple weeks into the season that Makoto Bank would assume the naming rights from Naluwan Corp for the Gida and the First Securities Group could overcome government restrictions to legally operate the Agan.
These factors, however, can not completely explain the Gida's dismal finish in the second half of the season after the team's near-.500 mark (21-2-27) in the first half.
"The season-ending shoulder injury suffered by ace of the staff Huang Chin-chih (黃欽智) definitely hurt our confidence, not to mention the inconsistent performance that the foreign players put on,"
sources close to the Gida said on condition of anonymity.
Huang had been the TML's best pitcher for two consecutive seasons, winning the Rookie of the Year honor in 2001, and the Pitcher of the Year honor last year.
Aside from Huang's absence, the Gida lineup's inability to come up with the crucial hits (batting under .200 with runners in scoring position), also limited a team that already lacks offensive talent.
Like the Gida, the Agans top pitcher, Liang Rue-hao (
The right-hander from Taipei was one of the first pitchers in the league to win three games at the beginning of the season.
The reluctance by the Agan coaching staff to allow some of the foreign players more time to settle in before they were waived by the team also might have hurt their performance in the long run.
Only two of the eight foreign pitchers that were on the team had more than six starts over the course of the entire season.
"Even John Frascatore of the Lions, who has gone 6-1 since his 0-2 start, might not have lasted with the Agan because he would have been waved before he could show the team what he was made of -- and that's just ridiculous," a fan said during a recent Agan game.