Sunday, November 4, 2012

Season Previews - Second Batch

Jackson Rebels

FA Lost: P Marc Westmoreland, P Eddie Strange and OF Heinie Heredia (although he is still on the market)

FA Signings: Re-signed setup Angel Ortiz

Trades: None

The Rebels will be looking to wreak some havoc in the AL South this year. The squad has been hanging around the .500 mark the past few seasons and is looking to distance itself from that point.

The offense should be firing on all cylinders with 2-time AL MVP Lyle Daly leading the way. With the middle infield tandem of Dee Thompson and Fernando Segui setting the table at the top of the lineup, Daly should have plenty of RBI opportunities. Rookie David Siqueiros is the only notable call-up and will get the starting nod in left field.

This pitching staff needs to step up this season with the losses of Westmoreland and Strange. Hopes are high that young starter Stuart Schrenk rebounds from a subpar rookie season. The same goes for closer Nash Messmer, who, in my opinion had an off year despite 39 saves. Yonder Santos will be counted on to lead the staff as he slides into the #1 spot in the rotation.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

Key Additions: 3B Vic Cruz, 1B/COF Dan Russ

Key Losses: COF Jack Torre, COF Scott Boswell
Key Rookies: RP Sammy Danks

The core of our team remains intact with the pitching built around Shumpert and the offense around Seneca. Our major offseason moment was Seneca deciding not to opt out of his contract. As the franchise is still dealing with the two worst contracts I've ever handed out (I must have been drunk that day) in Garrett Parris and Chico Tavarez, there was very little in the way of financial resources available to fill the holes we needed. As a result, the low cost veteran players that were signed to replace Torre and Boswell will certainly be downgrades. There was also turnover in some of the role players in the bullpen. We have high expectations for Danks to help Jacobsen and Duran anchor the high leverage innings while some fringe players were called up as innings eaters to replace the other lost innings. Despite the overall slight downgrade in the talent on the roster, expectations are still high and I'll be constantly looking for ways to upgrade the bottom of the rotation as well as 2B, 3B and RF. The team is still built with solid pitching at the top with Shumpert and Telemaco and excellent defense, though the offense (outside of Seneca) is pretty pedestrian. I expect the team to win the division again, and hope that Shumpert will get hot in the playoffs and we can ride his arm to a WS.

Detroit Wolverines

S18: 61-101 (Dead last in the entire ML)

Last season was a major disappointment, the only bright spot is that we'll get the #1 pick to grab a franchise building player as long as we don't hit the 200 loss mark. The offseason instead of putting money into the Int'l market we decided to be spenders in FA so that we don't get our beloved GM fired. Mitchell Spencer and Kevin Xaio were brought in to both help the offense and the defense; also signed was Santos Siquerios who can play any position and defensive catcher Tito Banks. Defensive C Chip Parker and slugging 1B Aaron Scelfo will get called up from AAA to help out this season, more than likely after the arb date passes. Our pitching staff will see a lot of new faces, signing Terry Clayton, Jose Javier, and Hod Ferrell this offseason while trading for Augie Suzuki. We also have plans for Ivan Cabellero to be called up from AAA and possibly Bonk Price from AA. We have almost as many new faces this season in Detroit as familiar ones from last season which is probably a good thing. Winning the division is probably out of reach so the goal this season is to stay under 98 losses, find that franchise #1 draft pick, and keep shopping Eliezar Arrojo.

Dover Fightin' Blue Hens

Dover went to the world series in season 17 and then was a .500 team in season 18. Management has to figure out whether that was a trend or an anomaly. Dover is building from within, and a number of prospects are ready. Vinny Masato will be promoted to join a rotation led by Dante Li and youngster Ednison Ramirez. Terry Clayton left for free agency. Anchoring the bullpen, Nick Robinson will try to break his own single season save record, and set the career saves mark as well.

On the offense, there are at least 3 spots up for grabs. SS Melky Baez and CF Jamie Lowry look to grab two of them. Rookie of the Year RF Al Bittle will seek to avoid a sophomore slump, and is an able replacement for departed Hamlet Darwin. This is a team built more for speed and defense than power.

Projection: The team will be improved and competing for a division title; how much else is anyone's guess.

Cincinnati Bearcats

The Cincinnati Bearcats are hoping to continue their slow, steady climb toward respectability in the always tough AL North. The win total has improved each of the last four seasons, now the Bearcats are poised to improve a little more, though not yet ready to compete for the top spot in the division. Kimera Quinn and Lyle Hughes were lost to Free Agency. Ramon HIgashioka and Hamlet Darwin were Free Agent signees. Promising left hander, Mateo Miro, was dealt to division rival Portland in exchange for Andres Rodriguez and Eswalin Calderone. Miro promises to pay dividends for Portland this season while Rodriguez and Calderone figure into the Bearcats long range plans. Rookies Jose Sosa (dh/1b), Neftali Lucano (ss), Juan Posada (sp), Matthew Cox (rp), and Junior Gutierrez (lrp) will start the season on the Major League team. Each of the rookies has complementary strengths that should improve the team, though none are super star, or even all-star quality. Overall, the addition of Darwin and Sosa gives the Bearcats more punch. Lucano is an improvement at ss. Higashioks should be a reliable rotation contributor and Cox and Gutierrez will shore up the pen. On paper, the Bearcats should challenge for a playoff spot and a second place finish in the AL North.

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