The Cardinals had a relatively quiet offseason, as the new management team was still trying to get a grasp on where the organization stood. They did part ways with a couple older veterans, LF Julio Cubilan (30HR, 149K last season) and RF Ralph Lewis. Unfortunately, ace SP Kevin Ryu decided to test the free agent waters rather than re-sign with the team that brought him over from Japan. It's a big loss for the rotation, but it just wasn't in our budget to sign a sub-.500 pitcher w/a career 4.32 ERA to a 5year/$65million contract.
After swinging and missing on a couple big name free agents, the Cardinals decided to plug some holes with a few role players. We signed RF Jack Torre to a 3 year deal, SP Gaylord Bonds to shore up the rotation, and RP Juan Fernandez/Merv Witt to bring some veteran leadership to the bullpen. We also picked up youngster Aurelio Mendoza in the Rule V draft and hope he can turn into a double-play inducing machine (95gb) in the bullpen.
In the end, we'll continue to rely on all-stars Danny Smoltz and Homer Bush to fuel the offense, and Takashi Yamakazi to lead the pitching staff. As they go, so goes the Cardinals!
Columbus Buckeyes Columbus, OH- After last seasons 88-74 finish and 1st ever franchise playoff appearance, there is much optimism in Columbus for the upcoming Buckeye baseball season. Last year was only the third time in franchise history finishing at .500 or better, two of seasons coming in the last 3 seasons under new manager tdfactory.
This season sees a few losses through FA, most notably CF Santos Siquerios, who came to Columbus through trade last year along with rising LF prospect Renyel Tejeda and veteran LF Carlos Molina. Molina provided 16 HR's and 40 RBI's with a solid BA in just over 200 AB's with CLB last season and Tejeda is expected to come up to the big club at some point this season, so even though Siquerious was lost, the trade still seems to be a good one. Also, lost through FA was Dallas Parrott, SP, who wanted to test the FA market. Although CLB had Parrott in their long term plans, the bidding went too high and Parrott flew the nest. In addition, during FA, CLB was bidding on Karim Garces to provide solid back end bullpen help, but again, the bidding went too high for tdfactory's liking.
Turning to the FA acquisitions, CLB added veteran arm Octavio Rivera to eat some innings and bullpen help with reliever Joey Dellucci. Bob Jacobs was added to provide help in the middle infield. CLB also expects to see some production up from the farm this season at some point from LF Renyel Tejeda, 1B Ryan Meusel, and 2B Les Rivera.
CLB did make one trade in the offseason, acquiring young catcher Vin Lopez, who should also make his way to the big club during the course of the season. Vin was acquired in a trade with Chicago, as CLB gave up infield prospect Sale Long.
Overall expectations are that there will be another solid playoff run, back to back .500+ seasons for the first time and if they can make the playoffs, hopefully be in a position to make it past the first round. Hopes are high in Columbus, Go Buckeyes!
Helena Grizzlies Key losses: Marino Gomez, Mitchell Spencer, Roger Herndon, Bart Pellow and Corey Sheffield
Key Additions: Geraldo Arias, Alberto Andrus, Miguel Barcelo and Harry Moya
Key Rookies: None
The Helena’s Grizzles are getting a peek at the challenges of being a champion. Let’s take a moment to add up the damage. Marino Gomez takes his 2 gold gloves and 20/20 ability to Nashville. Mitchell Spencer and his 26 Home Runs, 98 RBI moved east to Detroit. 3 time All Start and Gold Glover, Roger Herndon was dealt to Little Rock. Corey Sheffield who pitched 6 innings of shutout relief in game 7 of the World Series and compiled a 7-1 record in the regular season signed with Huntington. And finally, Bart Pellow, who pitched 20 post season innings with a 0.89 ERA has yet to sign a deal. The good news is that Miguel Barcelo should give Helena a much deeper starting rotation and Geraldo Arias is a ideal #2 hitter to hit behind Helena’s prize leadoff hitter Yorman Costilla. If the Grizzles can stay healthy, they should be able to get back into the playoffs, but will be hard pressed to re-create the magic that delivered the World Series championship in season 18.
Oakland Golden Bears FA Lost: 1B Al Navarro and SS Marty Wayne (although they are still on the market)
FA Signings: SP Daisuke Suzuki and SS Myron Sparks
Trades: None yet but are working on a deal to be announced soon I hope.
After shocking many last season by taking a early lead in the AL West last season, the Golden Bears ran out of gas down the stretch and finished with a second consecutive 74-88 campaign. With GM z's younger talent still making their way to the bigs, Oakland is looking to finish at or above .500 for the first time since season 10.
Although we did lose two starters from the infield last season, we sign Sparks to replace Wayne at SS, and called up Nigel Michalak to play 1B. Michalak should bring some added power to an already strong batting lineup in Richards and Rigby to name a few.
Suzuki should hopefully stablize our rotation that will have plenty of spot starters making appearances this season. Still looking to improve a good bullpen but we will have to see what happens. Either way, the Golden Bears didn't finish in the basement of the division last season and we look for build on that success this season and maybe make a run at the WIld Card if we get lucky.