Tuesday, August 17, 2010

AL South Divisional Preview


1. Little Rock
2. Jackson
3. Nashville
4. New Orleans

New Orleans

Key Additions: switch hitting RF Wascar Bennett signed as a free agent

Key Losses: Decided against bidding for departing free agent and native Louisiana RF Larry Jackson

Key Transactions: mid-season 9 trade of 3B Tim Fox and closer Hugh Moss for 1B/RF/DH Albert Marichal brought some needed LH power to the lineup and he answered with 30 HR in only 358 AB.

Impact Rookies: late season callup LH closer Bart Pellow, only 22 entering this season, converted 14 of 15 save opportunities with a 1.13 whip. LHP Dennis Jones will battle for the #5 starter position in spring training, and will likely serve in a long relief role at the very least.

Outlook: The Bayou Bengals surprisingly led their division for much of season 9 before fading badly late. Despite the lack of quality starters most clubs have in their first two spots in the rotation, all are solid. Other than veteran RH Allen Guererro, the face of the franchise (who should notch his 300th career victory this season), all induce a lot of ground balls, which is a plus in hitter friendly Zephyr Field. The defense is solid, and the bullpen is among the best in the majors. The Bengals' goal is to return to the playoffs for the first time since their wild card berth in season 4, and they believe it may take 92-94 wins to do that.

Little Rock

Key Players Added: Added Clay Lavarnway to replace Lewis Hoyt in LF. Clay should be an upgrade and provide more power at LF than Hoyt. Added Duffy Curtis to replace Bubble Haynes at 1B who left via Free Agency. Added Michael Maddux to give the lineup more power.

Key Players Lost: IF Rico Benitez, 1B Bubbles Haynes via Free Agency , LF Lewis Hoyt via Free Agency, IF/OF Kurt Rolls, RP Nap Hollins via Trade

Key Transactions: Acquired LF Clay Lavarnway, 1B Duffy Curtis, 1B Michael Maddux via Trade. Acquired 2B Oscar Purcell, SP Anthony Jenkins via Free-Agency.

Rookies: You won't see many rookies for the Razorbacks this year. Catcher Welington Calderone will be starting his 1st full season at the ML level after spending half of Season 9 at the ML level playing in 79 games. Calerdone hit .290 with 11 HRs and 30 RBIs last season. He will split time with Sergio Martin behind the plate. 2B/OF Douglas Schultz will also be playing his 1st full season at the ML level after appearing in 75 games last season at a variety of positions. Schultz hit .256 with 0 HRs and 17 RBIs last season. He will start the year as a reserve 2B/OF. SP Matt Faulk looks to make the team out of spring training after starting 8 games last season posting a 1-3 record and a 7.20 ERA. He'll need to improve upon that number if he wants to make the 25 man roster out of spring training.

Outlook: The Razorbacks came up 4 games short of winning the division last season and made plenty of moves to improve their team. They added 3 power hitters to the lineup in Lavarnway, Curtis and Maddux and signed SP Anthony Jenkins to give them a 1-2-3 punch in the starting rotation with Carr and Lofton. In order to contend, the Razorbacks are going to need SS Anthony Lombard to improve upon his .235 batting average from last season. Lombard is a career .272 hitter and owner miggyt4 is hoping to protect Lombard better in the lineup with the addition of Lavarnway, Curtis and Maddux. Also, much of the team's success will depend upon the Catcher position with Sergio Martin and Welington Calderone combining to hit 28 HRs and 83 RBIs last season. On the mound, the Razorbacks signed SP Anthony Jenkins which will provide depth to a rotation that includes Clinton Carr and Red Lofton. The final 2 rotation spots should be filled by Morris Morgan and Matt Faulk. Morgan was 2nd on the team last season in wins with 10 and posted a respectable 3.70 ERA. In the bullpen, the Razorbacks are going to rely on Benji Cairo or Willie Sabathia to close games. That decision will be made out of spring training. The Razorbacks are also hoping that Jerome Leonard can provide some help to the bullpen after a horrendous season 9. It appears that minor league sensation Clyde Jodie will be moved to the bullpen to hopefully turn his career around. After going 23-1 in his final 2 seasons in the minor leagues, Jodie has posted back-to-back losing seasons of 9-13 and 8-13. The Razorbacks hope they did enough in the offseason to make up the 4 games that kept them out of the playoffs last season. If the Razorbacks are unable to contend in the AL South, it will be a very disappointing season considering the talent they traded in order to get the players they needed to contend.


Key players added: None

Key Players Lost: RF Ricardo Fernandez, CF Wilt Curtis

Key Transactions: Signed John Inouoe..promoted as defense specialist, promoted P Brett Snyder to somewhat stabilize the bullpen

Rookies expected to contribute: OF Heinie Heredia..expecting big things from Heredia..very good baserunner, a cheaper version of Fernandez, but with better contact. Hit .313 in a brief stay at the ML level at the end of last season.Having Heredia ready to hit the bigs made Fernanez expendable.

Outlook: Expecting my pitching staff to bounce back from last season..Dwight Dempster is still my ace, although he is starting to age. My offense should be productive led by team MVP Torey Vallarata..Scooter Dillon, Micah Mitchell and Heredia should be able to provide ample support. Expect a lot of running with this team..236 stolen bases last season, led by Vallarata's 54..with Fernandez's 53 steals gone, Heredia will step in nicely as he had 55 at AAA. I'm looking at least a .500 season, if not better.

Nashville: Did not submit

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