Thursday, May 2, 2013

Season 21 - Team Previews - Batch 1

Detroit Wolverines

S20: 70-92 (3rd in NL North)
Lost in FA:

SP Clyde Jodie (7-11, 4.06 era, 137.1 innings)

SP Hod Ferrell (4-9, 3.5 era, 126.0 innings)

LF Eliezer Arrojo (.303 avg, 27 HR, 77 RBI)

Added in FA:

SP Donte Hartman (11-8, 3.48 era, 178.2 innings)

SP Jimmie Jodie (3-7, 3.51 era, 112.2 innings)

Last season the rebuild continued in Detroit as we posted another below .500 season record. Management has decided they’re tired of losing and decided this is the year that we begin to see the youth movement in the ML. Keith Petersen will be slotted to play right field, Douglas Lawrie will man third base, and Marshall Washington will take over in left field. While losing Arrojo hurt, we expect these three kids to take over the offense for us while still allowing us a strong defensive team. We didn’t get any younger on pitching like we would have liked to, but by adding Hartman and Jodie we think we did get a little better. Also are younger bullpen pitchers such as Caballero, Price, and Chavez all have a year’s experience under their belt now. Turner Shannon may also be called up to help out the starting rotation depending on how the season begins. We still have last year’s draft picks Brutus Olmos and Albert Perry working their way up the minors to go along with this season’s 7th overall pick and a full prospect budget to try and sign an international player. While we’re not expecting to win the world series this season, we do expect this group to be our core that will get us back to the playoffs in the next couple of seasons and keep us there for awhile.

Philadelphia Owls   Players Lost : B.C. Polanco LF/2B and Ivan Bonilla RF.

New players: CF Al Petit and 2 SP Gregory Cloud and Einar Santos.

Rookies expected to contribute: Francisco Soto RP, Derek Randolph LF, Terry Lee C .

This season again Owls are rebuilding. Offensively, the team is not bad with third baseman Frieri Santiago, CF Carlton Brooks platooning with Al Petit, veteran second baseman Miller Kotsay, 1B Julio Nunez, rookie C Terry Lee and DH Everth Manzanillo. The rotation lead by young Carlos Martinez should be better with the addition of the 2 newcomers Gregory Cloud and Einar Santos. In the bullpen, Francisco Soto should help.

The future though, looks brighter with 2B Terrell Kelly(1 year away),SS Juan Dali(1 year away), LF Benji Guzman, SP Brad Cunningham, SP Marino Megias and DH Dusty Malone.

Don't be desperate Owls fans, we will send a better team on the field very, very soon.  

Arizona State Sun Devils   Low expectations paid off for the Sun Devils in Season 20, when they accidentally ended up winning the NL West for the first time in 8 seasons. Expectations are even lower in Season 21, with another division win seeming even less likely. As part of its long-term rebuilding project, the Sun Devils traded away All-Star veteran SS Eddie Padden for what will hopefully be the leadoff hitter of Season 24-ish, Gail Flair, accompanied by borderline pitching prospect Bruce Perry, a working man who used to load his Econoline van. And 38-year-old Sun Devil lifer Nick Wilson, who won 13 games last year with a 3.35 ERA, finally left the team via free-agency. Rather than spend a lot of money to replace the output of Padden & Wilson, the Sun Devils have used free agents and callups to spackle over holes in the starting rotation and bench -- nothing flashy or expensive -- and hope the kids can carry the team. The future is probably not now -- although accidents have been known to happen.

Cincinnati Bearcats

The Bearcats lost LHP Higashioka to FA and picked up role players Gonzales (ss) and Feliz (cf). No trades so far this season. Rookies on the roster this season will be catchers Baez and Barrios and pitchers Gibson, Beltre, Calderone, and Lee. None are expected to be game changers though it is expected that Lee will develop into a top-notch set up man.

Last year's dramatic drop off was hard to figure. The best guess was that rotten attitudes put the team in a season long funk. The players with the bad attitudes were sent packing so we will see if the guess was correct. The team lost 102 games last season and does not expect to do much better this season.The hope is that the team can hold out until outstanding minor league talent can become major league ready.   Richmond Spiders   Key Losses: None

Key Free Agents: Albert Nippert

Addition via Trade: Brad Holt

Key Rookies: Matthew Crawford, John Won

Offseason Summary: We tried to address our 2 key weaknesses from last season, pitching and OBP. Brad Holt was added via trade, and he should really help by getting on base in front of our sluggers in the middle of the lineup. This was a key priority and was accomplished. The pending promotion of John Won should also help in this area. The second priority was to improve the bullpen and add an impact starter. The addition of Albert Nippert was our big free agent signing, and should definitely improve our bullpen. On the surface, we overpaid for a relief pitcher. The market dictated more than what I would normally spend on a relief pitcher. However, there were a few special circumstances that made me pull the trigger here. First, despite how he has been used previously, Nippert has the stamina/durability to give 100+ innings out of the bullpen. This is how he will be used and thus he’s not your typical “closer” with a somewhat limited impact. Second, we front-loaded the contract at a time when there is ample budget available. The money given to Nippert this season would only be worth 50% if transferred, so you can almost discount the large sum given this season by 50% in real money that could be used elsewhere. With those factors, I’m comfortable with the contract given the impact we hope he will have on the bullpen.

We tried to also add an impact starter, but our main target (Kramer) decided he wanted to take less than the market would have dictated by signing overnight the first day of free agency. We need to look into the recruiting tactics in Salem. They must have better “escort services” versus Richmond. We were involved with other starting pitcher free agents, but the bidding went higher than we were comfortable with. Improvement this season will have to come from the promotion of Crawford alone.

Outlook: I’m tired of rebuilding/losing, so hopefully it stops now. I thought this club would be better last season with the first real influx of talent since we started rebuilding, but they never seemed to click the way I thought they would. Further additions this season should really push us over the top and into winning territory again. We have a good pipeline of talent developing over the next couple seasons and enough budget to continue to add prospects, so hopefully we’ve used these last couple seasons to set the foundation for a run of success.

Huntington Thundering Herd

Key Additions: C Marshall Damon, RF Vasco Jose, OF Juan Johnson, SP Ralph Myette, SP Cole Mitchell, RP Benjamin Bowker, RP Bastardo Owen, RP Steven Donovan

Key Losses: C Juan Molina, SP McKay Benes, RP Pat Howington, OF Andrea Nelson

To be blunt this offseason was boring. There just didn’t seem to be many deals to be made and the free agent class, outside of pitching, was weak. We added some components, but didn’t do the complete about-face that usually faces a team run by this management group.

Perfectly content to remain where we were offensively with the #2 team last season in the NL in runs scored, we made 2 major moves to get younger in the lineup. Returning 6 starters is a rarity in this franchise, so hopefully we don’t come to regret being passive this offseason. 1B Shane Meadows will anchor the team offensively, while we look for a breakout season from 2nd year man, Markus Crosby. Robert Frederick and Herm O’Shea will continue to platoon at 2B and will leadoff this season. Hopefully LF Gabe Price and 3B Mitchell Spencer can pick up the slack offensively for the departed offensive players. New RF Vasco Jose has large shoes to fill as he replaces fan favorite Andrea Nelson. C Marshall Damon gets his shot at the big-time as he makes his big-league debut.

Pitching was a struggle last season, so changes were made. Currently Ralph Myette will start on Opening Day. Cole Mitchell, Dallas Parrott, and J.P. Valdez are 2-4…the 5th spot is a battle between Kevin Ryu and Ricardo Crespo. Management loves Crespo’s pitches and GB tendencies, while Ryu keeps the ball out of the hitting zone for the most part. The bullpen should be strong, but may undergo some growing pains due to the youth of several key members.

Defensively this team should be very strong up the middle. SS Jumbo Cortazar is always a good defender who has some pop offensively. O’Shea and Frederick are good defenders, although Frederick is the stronger of the 2. Crosby may not be ideal for CF, but he’s solid. Hopefully the defense is a moot point with upgraded pitching and a solid offense.

Louisville Cardinals   Last year was a bit of a nightmare for the Louisville Cardinal. After losing Homer Bush, Danny Smoltz, and Miguel Concepcion to free agency, season 20 was an

ugly year for the Cardinals’ offense as the team OPS dropped to an anemic .708 and only 2 guys hitting more than 20HR. We did lose one of them, Al Ayala (.266 28hr 76rbi), who was traded to the Bulls for a young pitching prospect, but as a whole fans should see a much better product on the field this season.

The biggest offseason signing has to be Tomas Lucano who should hold down one of the corner outfield spots for years to come. We also added a couple of speedy/high OBP infielders in Don Hodges (.363obp 41sb last season) and Dennis Beard (.361obp 21HR, 41sb in season 19), as well as Norberto Fernandez (26hr 107rbi 17sb last season) and veteran Jumbo Jimenez (career .792 ops) to fill in around the infield. The pitching staff looks a lot like last year’s which posted a 4.35 ERA good for 3rd worst in the NL, but management feels the staff should rebound and perform closer to S19’s respectable 3.82 ERA. There were a couple changes in the bullpen and the Cards happily welcome Harry Moya to the team. A solid vet, Moya made 63 appearances for the HEL last year and posted a 2.73 era. He’ll be a setup guy again in Louisville this year.

There’s a lot of excitement in Louisville this year, as fans hope the Card can rebound from an off year and get back to the playoffs (as a wildcard of course, as the Tar Heels continue to dominate the NL East). Best of luck to all!

Helena Grizzlies   Key Adds: C – Juan Molina, LF Tyson Seaver, CF Ian Joseph, CF Theo Franco, P Rico Martinez, P Pat Howington, P Kevin Telford, P Merv Witt

Key Losses: LF Bernie Ortiz, C Matt James, 3B Jumbo Jimenez, 2B Rafael Liriano, C Larry Sedlacek, P Karim Ramirez, P Corey Sheffield, P Jeremy Livingstone

Outlook: The Grizzlies begin year two of what could end up being a long rebuilding project. 74 wins last season was quite a drop off from the back to back World Series appearances the team had experienced in season 18 and 19. Core stars such as Efrain Nakano, Miguel Barcelo, Paul Walker, Danny Sheffield and Yorman Costilla are all back, but there is not enough depth to win games on a consistent level. If the team can get through the All Star break with a decent record, some of those stars could go on the trade block.

Dover Fighting Blue Hens

Dover stuck to the game plan of building via the minors. Gone are ss Earl Cradle, SP Robinzon Calderone, and a backup catcher. Brought up to replace them are C Diego Oropesa, Rule 5 utility player Stuart Cohen, and whichever prospect busts out in spring training. Dover won the division last year and should be maturing to an even better record. 4 spots in the rotation are solid and the bullpen is very good. Prediction: Division title and a longer run in the playoffs.

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