Friday, May 3, 2013

Season 21 - Team Previews - Batch 2

Charleston Cougars

Charleston suffered a big blow this offseason when it was unable to re-sign John Kramer who departed to Salem via free agency. Needing a number 2 starter, Charleston traded for David Rodriguez, sending several good prospects to Fargo. Charleston also signed several key players to contract extension. With 4 top 50 selections in the draft, Charleston hopes to reload its minor league system this year.

Charleston hopes to again contend for a title. Last year’s Cy Young winner Eswalin Sierra will again lead the pitching staff and hopes to come close to his prior performance. Rodriguez will serve as the Number 2 starter, with Fred Keppel the Number 3. Charleston returns a strong lineup anchored by Saul Martin, Odalis Velasquez, Donn Rodgers and Miguel Certa among others.

Seattle Huskies   The Seattle huskies offseason plan failed. Hoping to find some talent cheap, we tried the waiting game. We are now left with a few players we are not too thrilled about.

We let donte Hartman walk, preferring to allow that rotation spot to go to Ivan cano. Cano's rise to the big leagues was crushed last season by a devastating injury ( labrum tear) that saw his overall value drop by 9 points. He regained 5 this offseason, and should still fill in nicely.

Letting coco laroche go was in the plans, as we were unhappy with his offense and defense combination. However, with nothing on the market, we will turn to a defense first mentality and go with either Javier Torres (rule 5) or Thomas Bowen ( FA signing).

LF could be a revolving door this season. Look for Brad Finley to take the spot if he can live up to his minor league numbers, and Darnell Myers gets hurt or can't hit.

Kansas City Wildcats

The Kansas City Wildcats resigned 3B Gavin Mills . We brought back Marquis Nolan to play first and signed Thomas Wise as a back up catcher. KC has a good balance of power and speed. The pitching staff will have a rookie starter Nathan McClain . I hope this team will win the division this year after their 64 Philly imitation last year.

Buffalo Bulls

The Buffalo Bulls made it past the wildcard round last season on the strength of their young pitching but that is as far as they advanced. With bigger goals in sight during the off-season the #1 priority was upgrading the offense and that is just what management did. The team added SS Eddie Padden, and OF Al Ayala in trades, and picked up former player Frank Jenkins to help out at 1B with young Vladimir Volquez still getting his footing.With these additions Volquez and SS Montanez will now be relegated to the pine, both were 20hr 70rbi guys last season which in turn stabilizes Buffalos bench which was pretty weak one year ago.The Bulls also added to the end of their rotation with the signings of Ramon Higashioka, and Darrell Haywood. Big things could be on the horizon for the Bulls ,4 out of 5 of their top RBI guys are back (2) 14 game winners and a 12 game winner return to the rotation, with these additions it looks as if they are after top dog in the division, Charlotte beware. !!! :)

Memphis Tigers

Key Acquisitions: Hugh Bell Lf

Key Players Lost: Jimmie Jodie SP

Excitement in Tiger Town is at an all-time high . Despite being the worst hitting team in the league last season , the Tigers return with virtually the same roster that made their magical run to the NL Championship last year. Opting not to engage in any bidding wars during the offseason, Management decided only to bring Hugh Bell back to the Den to spark what was truly a lethargic offense last year . A pitching staff that led the way and kept the Tigers in games throughout the year remains intact, with the only key loss being that of Jodie who spent a potion of the year on the DL. The Tigers will be looking to rookie Vic Bonilla to earn his spot in the rotation. The Tigers enter the season fully expecting the pitching to hold true and the offense to perform to its expectations and make another run to the playoffs.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

Texas Tech may have taken a step backward this season. Losing Myette within the division was a big loss, and lessens the depth of the starting rotation. Vasco Jose always provided a productive bat with some power in the #5 hole was also lost to Huntington. As the team is handicapped with a high payroll still, big FA signings were out of the question. Douglas Walker will be asked to fill in for Jose. Incumbent SS Elvis Fox will move to 2B or 3B, as his range has declined too much to put him at SS regularly. Former Red Storm SS Ted Guerrero was signed to take over at SS. A couple of veteran, journeyman relievers were brought in to bolster a bullpen that struggles at times last season. The key players are still in place though. And the Shumpert/Senaca led team still expects to contend after a heartbreaking early playoff exit last year. The window is closing though, as the future HoF tandem are 34 and 35 years old. After next season, there will be some tough decisions to be made. Until then, this team will be trying to get a championship for the players who have meant so much to these fans.

Boise Broncos

The Bronco’s are looking to have a breakout year this season with a combination of veteran stars and some young talent that should be hitting their prime. Our pitching staff, long an issue for the team, sis anchored by a strong starting rotation led by veterans Marc Westmorland and Chris Dawkins. Carlos Jose in his second full year and Max Chavez a late season call up, should prove to be dominant young arms. Equally as important however is a much improved bullpen. Karim Garces will still be closing behind setup man Victor Diaz, but the additions of Jeff Giavotella from AAA and FA Tom Obermueller will help bridge the gap to the 8th and 9th innings. A young but improved outfield will be anchored by Jose Ortiz in CF who looks ready to fill the role of a dynamic lead-off hitter. Einar Lee will continue to a force at 3b while the Broncos are very excited to have Red Driefort back for his first full season at 1B. Dreifort shows all the signs of being a dominant offensive threat for many years. All in all, Boise hopes to be a factor in the NL West this season.

Nashville Commodores

After reaching the playoffs for the 8th time in 9 years last season, the Nashville Commodores were content with minor changes this off season. The biggest edition to the roster was Cy Saturria, aquired in a trade with Fargo. Saturria will add a little firepower to a lineup which lacked consistency last season. Slick fielding SS Jason Jenner was added via free agency to solidify the infield. An above average pitching staff returns all 11 members, and should once again be the strength of the team. Once again this season it it playoffs or bust in Nashville.

Little Rock Razorbacks

Key Additions: Coco Laroche

Key Losses: None

Prospects to Watch: Neftali Lucano, Kory Silva

Outlook: Last season, Little Rock finished 80-82. We look to improve with the solid pitching we have established. We intend to battle for a playoff spot this season. Go Razerbacks!

New York Red Storm

FA Lost: Cole Mitchell, Hugh Bell, Einar Chavez

FA Added: Bobby Reese

FA Retained: Buzz Beirne

Rule 5 Draftee: Richie Haren

Trade: Acquired Junior Zurbaran for Andres Rosario & Esmil Posada

Rookies: Felix Dunston, Al Park, Guy Forster

Outlook: While I lost some FAs, none were high priorities to bring back and I fetched some nice comp picks to replenish the farm system. The core of the team is locked up long term, in ARB or just starting their ML careers. Super excited to bring up the 3 stud rookies. I hope for a very competitive team, and for the young guys to get their feet wet, with an eye on next year to really make some noise.

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