Friday, November 2, 2012

Season Previews - First Batch

Charlotte Tar Heels

The Tar Heels look to follow up the best season in team history with another NL East Division Crown and bye in the playoffs. Arguments were put forth in the front office not to make too many changes by the "if its not broke, don't fix it" mentality. However, AD hopkinsheel is always looking to improve as he knows the other 31 teams are doing the same...when you're at the top, you can't stay fat and happy, there is always something to be done.

Key FA Added: None so far

Key FA Lost: None so far

Trades: We went into the offseason wanting to bring in some good bullpen prospects and feel like we accomplished that task.The Heels made a whopper of a deal with Little Rock. Several trades went back and forth and the players changed dramatically before the Heels and Razorbacks swapped aces while also giving up top of the line defensive CF Jose Gandarilla and getting back a couple of nice bullpen prospects. We never thought we'd give up Fausto Giminez, but feel like swapping him for Brandon Gragg was a fair move to facilitate the other piece to the puzzle. We have several good CF prospects we want to bring up who are much cheaper and we had zero bullpen prospects in the minors. We've also had a crush on Brandon Gragg since he was drafted and hope to keep him around until he retires. We also shipped out Randy Browne who has been a stalwart defensive catcher for a long time to bring back another good bullpen prospect. Not easy to give up Browne, but again, we have a couple really good, younger defensive catcher we feel are as good or better than what Browne brings to the table.

Rookies: We strongly believe in constantly bringing in an influx of rookies to supplement our veteran roster. We have several prospects who look to make their debut this season.

2B Arthur Haynes will make his debut this season as a utility guy while evenntually taking over LF from the aging Ronnie Hamill who we brought back for another campaign.

C Marshall Damon will step in as a backup catcher and nice bat off the bench

C Lyle Baptist will be brought up primarily as a great bat off the bench, but also as an emergency catcher.

SP Al Ortiz should make his debut as a long reliever/spot starter.

RP Al Trammel looks to be the third piece to the puzzle in the bullpen.

Outlook: We feel really strongly about this season. NL East Crown and Playoff Bye are our priorities. The playoffs are always a crapshoot as we've been bounced the last couple seasons by teams with lesser records, but we'd like to play well during the regular season to give us the best shot at the "Crapshoot."  Should be a fun season!

Syracuse Orange

Players Lost: Kiki Vazquez, Matty Bohanon, Howard Cora, Clyde Jodie, Kenneth Wall, Torey Feliz, Pasqual Navarre,
Players Added: Vasco Mendoza, Marc Everhart, Joaquin Bautista, Andres Rosario (acquired late in season 18)
Rookies on the Way: Russell Relaford, Buddy Ferguson (Buddy’s probably still a year away)
Outlook: For almost two years now the Orange has been in a rebuilding mode. We hit rock bottom about half way thru last season and the growth has begun. We’re not there yet. None of the prospects that we received in trading away long-time all stars have made the major league squad as of yet.
Last season we had nothing but a bunch of #4 and #5 starters. This year we have a couple pretty good ones in Andres Rosario and rookie Bobby LaPorta.
We do feel that we are going to be a step / step and a half better this season. I’m guessing we could be a .500 team and if things go right could add a few more wins which would put us in a wild card race. We look forward to adding Russell Relaford to the team early in the season. He’s our catcher of the future and can rake.

Richmond Spiders

FA Lost: None of note
FA Signed: None of note
Trades: None
Rookies to debut:  Former 1st-rd pick Miguel Ramirez will be promoted as a bench bat and occasional backup at C. Jaime Reed and Daryl Redmond (acquired as prospects in past trades) will be promoted to platoon in CF. Former 1st-rd pick Turner Sanford will be added to the rotation.

Season Outlook: This has been a boring offseason for Richmond as we continue to progress along the rebuilding path. We won 80 games last season and most of that young team will return. We are going to have some minor net upgrades from the promotions listed above, but the ceiling for this team is still going to be fighting at the edge of the wild card, and the likely outcome will probably be similar to last season. If we overachieve, there may be some early promotions of a couple impact players as reinforcements towards the end of the season, but more likely those players will continue their necessary development in AAA and be ready for next season. Player payroll has been minimized through youth and value FA signings which should allow us to command the international market. This should be the last “rebuilding” season in Richmond and we expect to start trending upwards next season.

Huntington Thundering Herd

Notable Additions: C Randy Browne, C Ted Brock, 2B Robert Frederick, 3B Tomas Navarro, LF Gabe Price, LF Max Peterson, CF Matt Aspromonte, SP Kevin Ryu, SP Dallas Parrott, RP Lyle Hughes, RP Ruben Javier, RP Corey Sheffield, RP P.T. Gryboski

Notable Losses: 3B Marc Everhart, 2B Kevin Xaio, C Bill Saipe, 1B Mark Starr, C Ron Montgomery, Most of the bullpen

What’s new? A lot. 3 new SP, 4 new RP…new LF, 2B, 3B, C, and CF…not to mention a remade bench. After falling from 101 wins in S17 to 76 in S18, and with a ton of free salary going into FA, we made the conscious decision to really go after improving our team. We signed 16 free agents (re-signed 6 of those) and really spent on pitching. The offensive improvements weren’t really available, but most teams should not struggle in Huntington offensively. We picked up a couple ace pitchers, and managed to not overspend on a couple other free agents. Even though we got worse offensively, defensively and pitching wise we are better. This should be enough to not endure another losing season and I fully expect to be back in the playoffs this season. Even better, we only have ~$35M committed next season for another set of FA runs. We feel that we are primed for an extended run of success over the next few seasons.

Boise Broncos
The Boise Broncos will be turning things around this year and be on the winning track thanks to 3 major off season signings, one key trade and a few maturing young stars. The pitching staff received some much needed support through free agency when we picked up starter Marc Westmoreland, and two solid bullpen guys in Victor Diaz and Karim Garces. All three should be significant contributors this year. Add that to starter Chris Dawkins and one year older and better Paredes Mendoza and our staff should be solid. We solidified our RF position by trading for Bartolo Espinosa who has a good glove and steady bat. The team is solid defensively up the middle and we have two stars at the corners with Lee and Chavez. Also, just a breath away in AAA is Parish at SS, Dreifort in LF, Ortiz in Center and Carlos Jose on the mound. Things will only get better.

Memphis Tigers

Players Added: Scooter Dillon 2b

Key Players Lost: None

Key Transactions: Signed Welington Velez to a 3yr/$18.5M contract

Rookies to watch for: Lee Golub CF

During the offseason, Tigers Management attempted to pounce by adding a couple of top tier free agents to bolster their lineup and rotation, only to come up short in negotiations. While only making a slight upgrade in the middle infield, management was left scrambling to make any significant additions and changes by the end of the signing period. The Tigers roar into the season with a familiar look, while top prospect Lee Golub looks to be the everyday centerfielder . But, with the long season ahead a couple of other Tiger Cubs could find their way to the big league club.

After being in the thick of last season’s wild card race, a late season collapse left the Tigers tumbling to a losing record and out of contention. Expectations in Tiger Town this offseason were high, hoping to add a couple of pieces to propel the team over the hump. But while those plans unraveled, we are still optimistic of having a modest season and improving upon last season. Look for top pitching prospect Chili Carver to get the nod before season’s end, especially if the rotation goes cold and struggles.

Philadelphia Owls

Key Players Lost : 3B Vasco Mendoza.

Key Transactions : Only one trade(Mendoza) to make space on my payroll.

Rookie expected to contribute: Julio Andrus RP

Owls are rebuilding. They are not expecting great things from the team but some individual could put great numbers on the board. Offensively, this team can compete with young third baseman Frieri Santiago, veteran second baseman Miller Kotsay, right fielder B.C. Polanco and DH Everth Manzanillo. The rotation, lead by young Carlos Martinez, will need some help but there is not much help coming soon in the minors except for Shigetoshi Tabaka who is one year away. The future looks brighter with 2B Terrell Kelly, SP Tabaka, SS Emmanuel Villa, catcher Phil Strickland and RP Francisco Soto. We hope to send a better team on the field very soon.

Nashville Commodores

Expectations are running high in Nashville this season as the Commodores look to improve on last seasons DCS loss. The Commodores rebuilt 3/4ths of their infield with the FA additions of 2B James Hernandez,

3B Marino Gomez and SS Emmanuel Castillo . C Jose Johnson and Utl Willie Berroa were also acqured in FA to provide help off the bench. The addition of Pedro Duran via FA will add depth to the pitching staff. Rookies DH Victor Urbina and Tanyon Allen will be called up early in the season and should contribute right away.

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