Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Season 20 Team Previews

Charlotte Tar Heels

Locking up our core - The Tar Heels moved aggressively to continue to lock up their core players long term by signing SP Brandon Gragg and Sonny White and 1B Haywood Bryant to long term deals through season 24. 

Key Additions - Tino Brown was picked off the scrap heap once one of our pitchers went down with a season ending injury.  Other than that, we stayed status quo.

Key Losses - After spending 19 seasons in the Tar Heel organization, Manny Bedard has moved on and will fill a role with the Oakland bullpen.  He is the top reliever in Tar Heel history and will find a place in the Ring of Honor.

Prospects - Former first round pick, Kenny McIntyre has been promoted and will fill a long relief role this season.  Al Trammel will be coming up around Game 25 to fill the spot Bedard had last season.

Outlook - Our goal hasn't changed for the last few seasons.  Win the NL East, earn a first round bye in the playoffs, and then let the chips fall where they may.  We like to get into the playoffs and position ourselves for the best possibility of winning.  The Heels have arguably been the top team in the NL the last few seasons, but have been upset in the playoffs for various reasons.  We're going to enjoy the ride.

Columbus Buckeyes

Key Losses- SP Harry Guillen, C Larry Sedlacek, RF Carlos Molina, RF Homer Giambi, 2B Julio Armas, 1B Ray Hausmann, P Jackie Watson

Key Additions- SP Mule Wells, P Chris Aaron, P Rusty Haney, and CF Alberto Andrus

Columbus, OH- Expectations were high in Columbus last year coming off of tdfactory's 3rd season and the first ever playoff appearance for the Buckeyes. It was apparent early on that the magic of the playoff run the prior season was not going to repeat itself. Tdfactory decided to get some playing time for some of the promising young players and called up C Vin Lopez, 1B Ryan Meusel, 2B Les Rivera, and LF Renyel Tejeda.

Lopez had limited playing time, serving mainly as a defensive replacement, but is expected to see more time this season and great things are expected from him. 1B Meusel performed well, belting 17 homers and knocking in 55 RBI's while batting .272 and swiping 18 bags in only 78 games. He has earned the starting nod this season and expects to continue his hot start to his big league career. At 2B, Rivera had a tough time hitting for average at only .225, but knocked out 10 long balls and drove in 40 runs in 62 games. If he can continue the pop and bring up the average, he should be able to hold onto the 2B gig. In left, Renyel Tejeda also showed some promise, hitting 7 HR's and driving in 41 while swiping 21 bases and hitting .240 in 76 games. Last years FA signing SS Bob Jacobs hit .292 and stole 23 bags while hitting 8 HR's and driving in 37.

This season, tdfactory brings in SP Mule Wells, P Chris Aaron, and backup OF Alberto Andrus. P Rusty Haney came over in the Rule V draft. Wells and Aaron are being heavily counted on this season. The major blow to the club was losing SP Harry Guillen, a home grown player who decided to test FA in the offseason. Columbus stayed in the running, but Syracuse offered a fresh start and more money than Columbus could afford. The other FA losses were not a loss and four of them remain unsigned.

No help will be coming from the farm this season in all likelihood, with Season 17 and 18's first round picks P Hector Narveson and P Stephen Harvey needing a full season in AAA this year before being ready for their debuts. Last seasons first rounder SS Bip Oeltjen is in his first full season in HiA and is several years away.

With the #12 pick in the draft and also the comp first rounder for P Guillen at #47, both picks this year need to be solid to help restock the minors which overall are not great. WIth a payroll near $100 million, this team is not in a position to sign IFA's this year, so the draft will need to be a hit.

The pitching staff continues to be anchored by veteran Lloyd Roberts and Homer Konerko who went 11-1 last season. Not having Guillen as part of the 3 headed monster will hurt. The back end of the rotation will depend on veterans Carlos Encarnacion and Octavio Rivera, another FA signing from last season, and this years big signing Mule Wells. The bulpen will continue to be anchored by Shawn Beaulac, Haywood Young and Dustin Watson.

Thomas Fogg returns at 3B to be the main power source, and the young guns provide the hope with the rest of the team. Depending on how they perform, this team could be a surprise or a major disappointment. A tough decision might have to be made if they do not perform, and some veteran FA's may be moved to help bring in some younger talent. Expectations were high last season and the Bucks disappointed, this year expectations are low, so we will see if they can surprise. Go Bucks!

Syracuse Orange

Players Lost: Andres Rosario (trade late in Season 19);Gaylord Burke (Type B) ; Mule Wells (B); Raymond Nixon (B); Nate Forster; Bernard Rucker; Orval Coscarart

FA added : Harry Guillen (Type A); Osvaldo Lopez (trade).

Prospects Added or soon to be added: Matty Caballero (cf, 2b); Ricardo Coronado (rp); Johnny Ryan (SP); Santiago Matos (rp)

Outlook: I once remember hearing someone say that the most fun you can have in following a team as a fan is watching them right as they start to get good and you know that you’re onto something. I think that’s just about where the Orange presently is at. I know we’re still a year away, but I’ve seen many teams do some nice things a year early so who knows. The offense will be so so. Not a ton different from last year we adjust to life without Michael Seay giving us 650 abs. The pitching will be better this season with Harry Guillen on the bump. The bullpen should be much improved. That was a real weakness last season.

We got a pretty decent shot at a wild card this season and we expect to make the playoffs in season 21

Detroit Wolverines

S19: 71-91

Season 19 saw a 10 game improvement and ruined hop's New Year's Day as we hit the win mark to avoid probabtion. Because of the 101 loss record in S18 we couldn't quite continue with the rebuild, but had to become a player in FA to avoid another season like that. This offseason we were fairly busy in the trade market, at least more than in the past.

We were able to trade away some long-term contracts and grabbed what we believe to be 2 very nice prospects in Keith Petersen and Marshall Washington. Douglas Lowrie was the #1 pick for us last season, while Petersen was taken 3rd in the draft and Washington #14th so we've got three nice offensive players to build around in a couple seasons now.

Ivan Cabellero, Al Chavez, and Bonk Price will all join the majors this season becuase of the trades, coming up a season earlier than we'd like but we couldn't pass up Petersen and Washington. Also LaTroy Bell will get called up to handle RF for a few seasons until the young guys are ready. We resigned Edgardo Renteria to be a stop gap after he spent the last 3 seasons pitching in Hunington, and also inked Clyde Jodie to pitch in relief.

The offense will once again be centered around Eliezer Arrojo but with Aaron Scelfo playing his first full season we're expecting him to transition into our leader for the time being. We've got some cash flexibility now to maybe land an Int'l player and the #9 pick in this season's draft to continue the rebuild but looks like we'll be sitting at home come playoff time for another season.

Little Rock Razorbacks

Key Additions: Danny Smoltz, Gaylord Burke, Miguel Concepcion, Homer Bush, Turner Evans, Frank Jenkins, Grant White, Joe Alexander, Dick Bailey

Key Loses: Roger Herndon

Prospects: Cristian Caruso, Kory Silva, Duke Strong

Outlook: The outlook in Little Rock is rosy this spring. Management felt like we were doing the right thing the last few years by building using the draft and some International signings. We decided to add some free agent signings to overhaul the major league club to make a run at the playoffs.

We struck out in trying to sign Harry Guillen to bolster the rotation, but we were able to land all the other major free agents we were looking to add. Since we weren't able to add Guillen, rumor has it that Duke Strong may be in the major league rotation a year earlier than expected. He is competing in spring training for a rotation spot.

Cristian Caruso has been called up to the majors to help in the pen. If Kory Silva has a strong spring showing, he also may be added to the pen.

We wish Roger Herndon the best with his new team. It would have been nice to retain him, but he and management could not come to agree on a new contract.

Anything less than a playoff spot will be a big disappointment in Little Rock this season. Wooo Pig Sooie, Go, Hogs Go!

Huntington Thundering Herd

A successful season 19, saw a disappointing end as we snuck into the playoffs only to be swept by the 3 seed in the opening round.

Despite a post-season berth, there were improvements that needed to be made. Basically a 9th ranked pitching staff and a 4th ranked offense needed to be equalized. With that in mind, we made an effort to add new SPs to our rotation and solidify our bullpen. We missed on our main targets, but still managed to improve the quality of our pitching. Kevin Ryu (11-8, 5 CG, 1.24WHIP, 3.55ERA) once again anchors the staff. Dallas Parrott and Brian Masset return to the staff as the #3 & #4 instead of #2 & #3. McKay Benes (5-12, 163.0IP, 1.15WHIP, 3.48ERA) was brought over in a trade from Detroit to slide into the #2 role. Jason Cole (5-4, 103.2IP, 1.26WHIP, 4.43ERA) is our #5.

The bullpen is much improved too as we added Pat Howington, Rico Rivera, Roy White, Michael Sutton, and rookie Hanley Roth are added to returnees Lyle Hughes and Ruben Javier. This bullpen is better at the top and should be able to provide a lockdown at the end of games.

Offensively, despite seemingly not needing to make any moves, moves were made. Future HOF Enrique Sojo is gone…in his place is slugging 1B Shane Meadows. Potential ROTY Markus Crosby patrols CF this season. A big addition to this offense is 3B Mitchell Spencer, acquired along with Benes for former 3B of the future Marshall Washington from Detroit. Spencer fills a gaping hole at 3B while adding some much needed protection RF Andrea Nelson and LF Gabe Price. SS Jumbo Cortazar is back as is 2B Robert Frederick to give this team a top-notch middle of the infield. Juan Molina is joined by defensive specialist Rob Henderson as the backstops. OF Carlos Molina provides a powerful LHB off the bench. IF Fernando Guzman looks to be the vsR PH specialist while providing depth at a multitude of positions. IF Herm O’Shea will see some playing time against LHP while also providing speed and versatility off the bench. SS Benny Chavez makes his return as the defensive specialist extraordinaire while we await the maturation of one of many of the Herd’s young SS.

This season should be a fun one as I feel like the only weakness offensively with the Herd is at 2B and even that’s not too terrible. I look to compete for the NL South championship and get deeper than ever in the play-offs.

Helena Grizzlies

Key Additions: Kent Matheny (CF), Larry Sedlacek (C), Matt James (C), Rafael Liriano (2B), Corey Sheffield (RP), Morris Morgan (SP) and Karim Ramirez (RP)

Key Losses: Alberto Andrus (CF), Benito Valbuena (C), Nigel Halama (C), Jose Mendoza (SP), Manuel Santayana (RP)

Outlook: The Helena Grizzles are one year older and with each passing season it seems like a bigger challenge to keep the team at the top of the NL Mountain. After back to back World Series appearances, management feels obligated todo everything they can to keep the core group in place and to make another run at a title. In a Brett Farve type offseason, where management made multiple visits to his home to keep him from retirement, Bernie Ortiz has decided to play at least one more season. Nobody expected the 36 year old to hit 28 home runs and drive in 119 runs in season 19, but he did. He now sits at 621 career home runs and 2,629 career hits. Ortiz no longer has the range to play 3B, so expect him to play COF in season 20. The Grizzle offense took most of the heat this offseason for the teams eventual World Series demise. Therefore that is where the team focused this offseason. The front office feels like the additions of Matheny (CF), Sedlacek/James at C and Rafael Liriano at 2B should make the offense deeper if not stronger. The fans are pleased to see Season 18 World Series hero Corey Sheffield back on the roster after spending last season in Huntington. Sheffield’s game 7 performance in Season 18, when he entered the 2nd inning to relieve a struggling Jose Mendoza with the team trailing and pitched 6 shutout innings to allow the offense to get back into the game and eventually win it, is lore in Helena Grizzle history and at age 36, it is probably appropriate for him to finish his career with the team where he had his moment in the sun.

New Orleans Bayou Bengals

New Orleans Bayou Bengals finished 90-72 last season but were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs. Gnoe from last year are SS Rodney Gant and UTL Max Vega as well as P Francisco Bournigal. All contributed last season but management attempted to upgrade through FA and have some minor leagers ready to move to the bigs.

P Ralph Mora (R) received a big contract and is expected to be another stud in the rotation. Along with Komatsu, Keefe and Trevino the starting rotation should be solid. All position starters from last season other than Gant are returning. Fred Robinson will get the SS duties. There are five position players at AAA that are big league ready. Looks for any of them to be called up or moved if additional pitching is needed. Included are Crespo, Betancourt, Hasegawa, Houston and Cabeza.

The Bayou Bengals should be able to make a run at Nashville for a division title this season while keeping an eye on Jackson and Little Rock.

Boise Broncos

Boise is primed to take a major step forward this year (hopefully). The catching position has been completely revamped with the addition of Browne and the promotion of Lopez. The improved pitch calling and defense should help the pitching staff. The additions of Louis Martinez and Al Nippert make our bullpen a real strength for the first time in years. The rotation is a great mix of youth and veteran leadership, with Fankie Carreon and Carlos Jose getting their first full year chances. Also getting their first full seasons in the Bigs are SS Dale Parrish and CF Jose Ortiz, both are expected to shine. In AAA we have RF Red Dreifort and SP Max Chavez, and it would not be surprising to see both called up before too long. The Broncos are ready to roll!

New York Red Storm

Key FA Loss: None
Key FA Aquisition: Marino Terrero
Trade: Hugh Ramsey for Grant White
Call-ups: Scott Lord, Alex Martin, Felix Dunston & Dom Payton

Outlook: I plan to be more competitive for sure barring any injuries to my stars like last year. If the youngsters can perform, I think I have an outside shot at the division with the addition of Terrero and my 3 1st rounders I plan to bring to the bigs.

Cincinnati Bearcats

The Bearcats forecast last season was filled with hopes for a playoff berth; but, in spite of a 14 game improvement over the season before and a 90 win season, the 'Catas fell one game short, losing out on the last day of the season. Hope is tempered this season because the team's bell cow, Marino Terrero opted for free agency and moved on to greener pastures. The void created by Terrero's absence has not been repaired. The addition of Joe Blank and Juan Diaz helps patch the damage and a full season from Daichi Song and Salvador Beltre will shore up the bullpen.

The starting staff is solid; but, it lacks a true #1. With no rookies ready to step in and no significant additions, it appears Cincinnati will take a step back this season. The brutally tough AL North leaves no opponents flaws unexposed. As a result, the Bearcats can expect a battle to keep their record in the plus column this season.

Dover Fightin' Blue Hens

The Blue Hens followed up a season 17 world series appearance with two mediocre .500 seasons. Management still has not figured out what happened. More of the same won't do, so 2b Javier Mendoza, SS Jacob Belle, and SP Rico Martinez were all allowed to become free agents. Martinez will be replaced in the rotation by rule 5 pick Ricardo Morales. Closer Nick Robinson will anchor the bullpen and become the world's all-time saves leader. The offense will be a continued youth movement, with CF Jaime Lowry intending to contend for rookie of the year.

The Blue Hens are shooting for a return to 90+ wins, and in the NL North, where 86 wins won last season, that just might be enough.

Nashville Commodores

Coming off a loss in the DCS this season's edition of the Nashville Commodores looks remarkably similar to last season's edition. Joaquin Nunez was resigned in the off season and joins Willie Izturis and Trent Keefe in a strong rotation. Troy McEnroe will be promoted during the season as an addition to the bullpen which includes standouts Ronald Berger and Kip Jennings . Once again the pitching staff will be a strength in Nashville. A lack of power was the biggest weakness for the offense last season so the addition of Victor Urbina should be a big plus. The rest of the offense remains intact. It includes Tom Blank , who was the leader in batting average and RBI's and Albie Tejeda. last season's leader in home runs. With a strong pitching staff, adequate offense and exceptional defense, the Commodores should once again challenge for the division title.

Charleston Cougars

Charleston made few changes to a team that competed in the LCS last year and made the WS in Season 18. The Cougars believe they are within their window to compete for a title this year and hope to win 100 games and a division title.

Offensively, the team will be led by Craig Parrish who clubbed 45 HRs last season and 3b Odalis Velazquez who put up a .311/22/106 line while playing fine defense. International signing Saul Martin will likely join the majors after the first few weeks.

Eswalin Sierra and John Kramer will continue to anchor a pitching staff that keeps Charleston in virtually every game that it plays. Omar Quinones will likely join the staff after spending a few weeks in the minors.

Philadelphia Owls

Key Players Lost : None.

Key Transactions : None

Rookie expected to contribute: Julio Andrus RP, Shigetoshi Tabaka SP and Francisco Soto 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, CF Carlton Brooks, veteran second baseman Miller Kotsay, 1B Julio Nunez and DH Everth Manzanillo. The rotation, lead by young Carlos Martinez and veteran Nolan Boone will get some help with the arrival of Shigetoshi Tabaka.
The future though, looks brighter with 2B Terrell Kelly, SP Tabaka, SS Juan Dali , catcher Phil Strickland, SP Brad Cunningham, DH Dusty Malone and many relievers like Francisco Soto, Carlos Santos and Rodrigo Chirinos.
We hope to send a better team on the field very, very soon.

Memphis Tigers

Key Acquisitions: Wes Cyr 3b, Roger Herndon Lf

Key Players Lost: Bill Morton 1b
Rookies to watch for: Christopher Jenkins SS, Chili Carver SP, Roger Crespo SP
Tigers Management once again went into the offseason and free agency looking to upgrade the Tiger offense. Opting not to re-sign their top HR and RBI guy over the last couple of seasons in Morton, Memphis rolled the dice and signed Wes Cyr (5yr/$46.3M) and Roger Herndon (4yr/$33.8M). The Tigers are optimistic both will remain healthy with Cyr stepping in where Morton left off and adding more speed. The addition of Herndon looks to provide another quality bat with speed as well.
Excitement in Tiger Town is running high as always to begin the season. Rookie Christopher Jenkins looks to break camp as Memphis’ starting shortstop. The Tiger rotation looks to open with a couple new faces as well, with rookie sensation Chili Carver and fellow rookie Roger Crespo earning spots on the hill.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

This offseason was a successful one in Texas, mainly because we managed to resign our two biggest bats, Adam Seneca and Chico Cela. Many minor roster additions were made too, but the only impact signing was former Trojan Jake Randolph. He will be a valuable 3rd starter behind Shumpert and Telemaco. With a very solid pitching and defense, and good enough offense this team should be a playoff team once again, and hopefully a WS contender. The team is getting old though, with only 4 players under 30 on the ML squad. With the window closing, this team only has 2-3 more seasons before we'll probably have to begin to rebuild for the post-Shumpert years.

Fargo Bison

not much changed here in the offseason in Fargo, except the loss of Ralph Mora...good riddance sir, as he did not want to be here anymore. we hope to meet him later in the season and slap him around the yard for being a greedy bastard. we are looking forward to another trip to the postseason and hopefully we can get past the juggernaut in our division whom we shall not name by name...

Iowa City Hawkeyes

Iowa signed P Mendoza and 3B Cruz late in free agency didn't get a 3B I was looking for or a starting pitcher hoping Crosby, O'Neill and Nichlaus can take me to the playoffs again.

Anaheim Trojans

Not expecting much this year, but wasn't when I took over last year and we won the division. Let longtime anchor Jake Randolph walk, I really only made a few budget signings as evidenced by my 29 million dollar salary cap. Will bring up Tony Kim . Excitied to have 4 picks in the top 50.

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