Saturday, August 3, 2013

Season 22 Team Previews - Batch 1

First Ten Previews posted below.  Thanks to all of those who got them in so quickly.  Let's get some more in!

Charlotte Tar Heels
Our tongue in cheek goal is have the top record in the world and then lose to a team in the playoffs who finished 15-25 games worse than us record wise which has happened most of the last 5 seasons.  So we've been very successful in that regard.  More seriously our goal is the same as always...enjoy the heck out of the regular season, hopefully win the division and earn a bye in the playoffs and then make a bet to see who will upset us in the playoffs.

We didn't lose too much from last season.  Vic iglesias was not re-signed after asking for a lot in arb, but was then signed long term by another team so good for him, he cashed in.  Other than a couple inning eater arms in the bullpen, there won't be a lot of change from a team who led the world in most key pitching, hitting, and fielding categories.

Long term this team is starting to age.  Realistically our window is 2-5 more seasons depending on a host of factors.  We're doing our best to keep control of the payroll with massive signing bonuses to limit the annual salaries and not re-signing secondary and tertiary players, but its starting to inch up.  There have been some internal arguments about moving some of they vets in their prime for some prospects to keep the franchise rolling long term at a high level, but we've become too attached to many of our top guys.  Should be a fun season.

Philadelphia Owls
Philadelphia Owls Players Lost : Pitcher Javier Sanchez and SS/RF Hunter Keough. 

New players: SP Ismael Martinez, P Vic Iglesias and P Tommie Osbourne.

Rookies expected to contribute: SS Juan Dali, LF Derek Randolph and 2B Terrell Kelly .

This season, Owls are hoping for a better result than last year. Offensively, the team will again, count on MVP third baseman Frieri Santiago, CF Carlton Brooks platooning with Al Petit, veteran Miller Kotsay also platooning with Julio Nunez at 1B, C Terry Lee and DH Everth Manzanillo. But 2 rookies, Juan Dali at short and Terrell Kelly at 2B should help the offense. The rotation, lead by Carlos Martinez, is this year again, a question mark. We hope the arrival of 3 newcomers, Ismael Martinez, lefty Tommy Osbourne and Vic Iglesias will help stabilize this rotation. In the bullpen, everybody's back, it should be more than OK.

The future though, looks bright with SP Vernon Black(1 yeay away), LF Benji Guzman, lefty SP Brad Cunningham, another lefty SP Marino Megias, SS Domingo Fernandez, CF Julio Cueto and DH Dusty Malone. 

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

Iowa City Hawkeyes
Iowa gave up on a couple of players from last year. Not key players but I needed to fill some holes this offseason. So by making a position change to one player and the signings of RF Yorman Costilla and CF Fergie Cromer, along with returning franchise players like Justin Crosby, Jack Nicholas and Neil McCallum I think we should be OK with offence and defence.

However the pitching is still suspect, I am hoping with another year under their belts that my young pitchers will improve and change the dynamic of my pitching staff as well I still have a great closer in Dustin Watson and I signed veteran SP Jake Randolph for leadership. Still I believe I need 1 more starter to be competitive and am trying with a limited budget to find one more via trade. Hopefully it all comes together this year for Iowa.

Cincinnati Bearcats
The Cincinnati Bearcats embark on season 22 after a season 21 17 game improvement over season 20. That is the extent of the good news. Bad news is that the Bearcats lost more than they won in season 22. The Gophers will continue to be the elephant in the room, the Bison are certain to improve and it is expected that the sleeping giants (the Ducks) will be aroused from their slumber. Old pro and certain Hall of Famer, Enrique Sojo, is gone, as are Hamlet Darwin, Joaquin Gonzales, and Torey Vizquel. Those 61 homers and 205 rbis will not be replaced by the Bearcats only FA addition, defensive specialist Jerry Hume. If ground can be made up, the Bearcats expect improvement from second year players Felipe Barrios, Willard Perez, Danny Gibson, Sal Beltre, and Ren Lee. Honing skills at AAA are Rick Arias, Andres James, Jalal Bowman, Albie Gomes, and Len Whitesell. All could join the big club during the season and all are expected to be solid major league contributors. 

Recent drafts have resulted in more misses than hits and the 'Cats have not done well with FA signings or IFAs. The current system screams mediocrity. It is expected that the turn around will begin in earnest this season; but,positive results are somewhere in the future.

Detroit Wolverines
S21: 61 -101 (4th in NL North)

Wolverine fans are getting tired of watching their baseball team stuck in the Rich Rod era and management is on the hot seat this season. Last season we brought up three key pieces on offense in Keith Petersen, Marshall Washington and Douglas Lawrie. Lawrie was the only one to perform decent at the plate which sent us back down to the worst record in MLB. This FA we lost 4 pitchers so we hit the market obtaining 3 Type A pitchers in Fausto Gimenez, Jay Rhodes, and Miguel Barcelo. They should help strengthen our staff and keep us close in games. Brutus Olmos is also getting called up to take over 2B to help with some offense. Our young guys did improve ratings from their call up so we're hoping that they preform better than last year and more in line with their ratings. We've also let them know, along with all other managers in the league, that everyone is on the trading block if it will help better our team.

Charleston Cougars
Charleston lost two key players to free agency this offseason, 3b Odalis Velaquez and SP Fred Keppel. However, a trade with Helena to bring in SP Efrain Nakano and 3b Geraldo Arias should mitigate the damage. Charleston also picked up SS Macier James in free agency.

Charleston hopes to contend this year with a rotation led by Eswalin Sierra and backed by Nakano and David Rodriguez. Saul Martin, Miguel Certa, Donn Rodgers and Craig Parrish will lead a potent lineup. With too many DH types, Charleston may face challenges in the field as they will likely utilize players such as Rodgers and Mark Komatsu in Right Field. 

Boise Broncos
The Broncos have lofty goals set for the coming season. The strength of the team will be its deep and talented pitching staff lead by rising stars, Carlos Jose and Max Chavez and anchored by veteran starters Marc Westmoreland and Chris Dawkins. The rotation will be supported by one of the best bullpens in the league. On offense (last year’s biggest problem) we’ve added leadoff hitter Herm O’Shea thru free agency and 3b Casey Keller by way of trade. These additions, together with a full season with Gorkys James and Alex carter and another year with rising star Red Dreifort should provide the runs support need to make a move for the division title.

Arizona Wildcats
The new look Arizona Wildcats are hoping to improve on their 82 win season from last year. New veteran position players such as 1B Angel Sanchez, SS Jumbo Cortazar, CF Geoff Snyder, and RF Perry Abbott will hopefully stabilize the starting lineup and help support former no.1 overall pick Doug Treadway when he makes his ML debut this season. 

The pitching staff also has a few new faces and the Wildcats hope to rely on a pair of 36 year old newcomers in Kevin Ryu and Alvin Barnes to hopefully give Arizona a much improved starting rotation.

The team had a very average pitching staff and offense last season and we hope the surge of veteran talent can help us to contend in the playoffs this season.

Huntington Thundering Herd
After a season that ended 8 games under .500 despite a widely held belief that they would compete for a fifth division title, the Herd’s front office did some soul searching. Looking deep inside itself to determine what needed to happen to lead this organization to glory…yep, that’s right, the front office went fishing!

Pitching (15th in NL ERA)

The pitching staff was disappointing last season as bargain basement pickups failed to pan out. This season sees the return of only 4 pitchers and the addition of 7. While missing out on the big dogs, we still managed to add LHP Disuke Suzuki (222.0 IP, 19-6, 1.34 WHIP, 3.36 ERA), to the rotation that already boasted sub 1.30 WHIP guys in LHP Ralph Myette and RHP Cole Mitchell. RHP Dallas Parrott will return to the rotation while newcomer Joe Alexander will man the back-end. Nick Wilson, Alex Franco, Hod Ferrell, and Merv Witt join Steve Donovan and David Mathews in the bullpen. It should be a formidable bullpen of hard throwers.

Batting (6th in NL Runs)

The offense was full of solid hitters but still struggled to put up the runs we feel like it should have. Gone is perennial SS Jumbo Cortazar, 4th in franchise history in games played. In his place is youngster Rey Jung, who won’t perform to Jumbo’s offensive characteristics, but should outperform him defensively. Most of the offense returns, but in slightly different roles. Shane Meadows moves to RF to make room for new 1B Steve D’Amico. 3B Kevin Xaio adds flexibility and defense off the bench for 3B Mitchell Spencer. Gabe Price and Vasco Jose split LF. Strong CF Markus Crosby looks to break out in his 3rd BL season. Alex Pimentel and Benji Franco are going to platoon at C. Hopefully the offense out of that position goes well. Dante Itou and rule 5 selection Enrique Mendoza provide a strong bench. Robert Frederick returns to play 2B and probably bat 2nd. 

Buffalo Bulls
Key Additions: Joaquin Nunez (270 career wins, 2.42 Lifetime Era) Mitch Huckaby (Single Season Averages .273 28 HR 99RBI) Benny Jose (bench player)

Key Losses : Frank Jenkins(FA) 1B/LF, Scott Boswell LF (Helena), Tomas Lira C/DH (Nashville), Felipe Montanez(FA)SS Tommie Osbourne P (Philadelphia)

The Buffalo Bulls broke the club single season wins record for the 2nd season in a row with 94 . Unfortunately they couldn't get past the 2nd round of the playoffs as the Charlotte buzz saw cut them down again. The Bulls return almost the same exact team minus some role players, With their 2 young stud pitchers and the addition of Joaquin Nunez the Bulls have a pretty solid 1-3 Starters, add Mitch Huckaby manning one of the corner OF spots hopefully that it will be enough to push them over the top this season. The Bulls let go some of their older players which in turn has upgraded the defense and durability of the team. A playoff run wouldn't be out of the question with the same team returning.

Syracuse Orange
Players Lost: Michael Seay, Walt Rogers (Type B), Harry Piedra (Type B) Vasco Mendoza (Type B)

Players Added: Johnny Ryan (soon),Mario Hiljus (soon ), Saul Garrido (2b), Sandy Weiss (1b), Manuel Santayana (rp), Esmil Canseco (utility) (Rule 5)

The Orange are quite optimistic for season 22. We’re hoping a wild card can be achieved. Last year the team spent a good amount of time very near the top of the ERA lists. This year’s staff should be even better with the addition of star prospect Johnny Ryan. We also added a nice reliever in Manuel Santayana. Plus some of the kids have another year under their belt. 

Offense is what killed this squad last season. We simply could not score runs. If they had an average offense they would have been challenging for a wild card. 

We think we’ve made some changes that should indeed help that offense. Former #2 overall pick Mario Hiljus is expected to be on the team sometime this season. This actually may happen sooner probably more than later. Sandy Weiss should be a nice addition along with Saul Garrido and Esmil Canseco. A pretty decent catching prospect Rene Thornberry might see a promotion this season as well. 

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