Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Season 22 - Team Previews - Batch 2

Memphis Tigers 
Key Acquisitions: None
Key Players Lost: Carter Stern SP
After reaching the NLCS in season 20, the Tigers and their fans suffered a disappointing setback last year, finishing last in the NL south. With Memphis fighting most of last season trying to claw their way from the bottom, Management went into the offseason hoping to add a couple of pieces in order to make another playoff run, only to come up short on several of their targets. The Tigers were however able to pick up RP Cody Harmon off waivers to provide help in the bullpen and Rule 5 Draftee Riku Martin 1B/COF to provide much needed power off the bench or in a platoon. This years pitching staff will be young and inexperienced with Lonny Andujar taking Sterns spot in the rotation. While the starting lineup has a familiar look that could see Buck Watson starting the season with the big league club. As always, Tiger fans will remain optimistic to start the season, but should know fairly soon what kind of season they will have to endure. 

Texas Tech Red Raiders
The major move of the offseason was to resign Michael Shumpert and make sure he ends his career in Texas. A number of veterans were signed to fill in the roster, but no major moves. The Red Raiders should be a mediocre team again this season as the franchise gears up for a rebuild. Playing in a weak division, its possible that we'll get luck and Seneca and Shumpert will get one more chance to make a playoff run.

Anaheim Trojans
Last Year's Record: 71-91
Projected Record: 77-85

Added: Buzz Beinre - will take over as closer.

Losses: Martin Dresden SP(Little Rock), Eric Mullin DH, Miguel Rodriguez C, Vladimer Quinones RF

Rookies to be called up: Dexter Robinson SP, D'Angelo Marandona RP, and Albert Neal SP, Steve Lombardi C

We are hoping this is the year things start to turn around in Anaheim. With 8-10 players expected to be promoted in the next 2 years and a ton of cap space this franchise should be contending soon. The bullpen was a total disaster last year so I was happy to grab a decent closer at a reasonable price. It should be interesting to see how the young staff performs this year. Not too optimistic about the offense.

Nashville Commodores
After making the playoffs 9 out of the last 10 seasons, but losing in the first round 8 times, it's rebuilding time in Nashville.

The Commodores traded away top talent for prospects to start the rebuild and brought in FA pitchers Javier Sanchez, Greg Padden, David Saito and Stuart Schrenk as well as CF Theo Franco and C's Frank Rowand and Tomas Lira. Harry Albaladejo, acquired in a trade, will take over at 2B.

The Commodores hope to remain competitive in the AL south while building a team that can compete in the playoffs. However, this season .500 would be an accomplishment.

Richmond Spiders 
We returned to the top of the division last season, but it wasn’t exactly a convincing return, going 81-81. Much more was expected last season, but things just never got rolling. The expectations remain high this season as more pieces will be added to the young roster. Everyone of significance returns except C Benji Franco, who was moved out via trade. That open spot will go to prospect Davey Latos, who should be an upgrade both offensively and defensively. Former 1st-rd pick Henry Knight will be promoted to play 2B/CF.

The biggest addition is the trade for potential ace Trent Keefe. It cost a couple pretty good prospects, but adding Keefe, who is still in his prime and has ace potential, was a big move for us. He should really improve the rotation and help us match up a little better should we make the playoffs again.

Prospect Ralph Small lurks in the minors. He could hit in the majors today, but his ticket to the big league club will be cashed in once he can play a little better 3B. If that happens by the end of the season, he may get called up for a late season push.

There are high expectations in Richmond to take the next step up from mediocrity into the upper tier of the league. The team will need to avoid another disappointment and step up to meet those expectations.
New York Red Storm 
Key Losses: Buzz Beirne, Milton Hermanson, Geoff Snyder (trade)

Key Additions: Odalis Velazquez

Call-ups: Footsie Womack, Alexi Nunez (trade)

Outlook: After a surprise playoff appearance as a wild card team last year and a 16 game improvement, the Red Storm youngsters are looking to make some noise again this year with the addition of Velaquez and the call-up of Footsie Womack. We lost some power with Hermanson splitting, poise at the back end of the bullpen with Beirne's departure and the trade of Snyder, but upper management feels that we have the pieces in place to more than adequately replace them. We hope to contend for the division this year with the hopes that an extra year of seasoning for the young guns will allow us to push further into the post-season.
Salem Beavers 
Starting SS Bartolo Estrada, 31 – Type B Signed by Helena 1 yr @ $6M, Having a SS ready to go in AAA let Estrada walk saving quite a bit of money for a near identical replacement and picking up a Type B pick.

RF/3B - Chico Tavarez, 35 – Unsigned, Declined and will never play another MLB game

vRHP platoon RF Cyrus Connelly, 37 – Unsigned, Declined and will never play another MLB game
Backup SS Willis Brock, 35 – Unsigned, Declined and will never play another MLB game

vLHP platoon LF Raymond Nixon, 33 – Unsigned, Could still be useful vLHP platoon guy but I opted for guys with more defensive skill.

Part-time 3B Willie Berroa, 33 – Signed by Helena 1 yr @ $3M, Signed some better hitting 3B/RF guys and also have guy ready in AAA.
Backup C Edgar Guillon, 36 - Unsigned, Declined and will never play another MLB game

SP Clay Hausmann, 37 – Type A Signed by Columbus 4 yrs $28.3M, Was the best pitcher on team for the last two seasons and didn’t want to lose him but was unwilling to give the contract duration he received and couldn’t match total contract amount.

RP George Stokes, 32 – Unsigned, Was a previous late free agency bargain signing and was not that good.

RP Virgil Macias, 34 – Unsigned, Was a previous late free agency bargain signing and was not that good.

RP Pat Gibbons, 39 – Unsigned, Put a fork in him.

vLHP Platoon C Ray King, 35 – 1 yr @ $1.6M: Cheap backup option with a very good OBP bat. With my the low durability of my top option, he will get the regular season starts vLHP.

3B/RF Vasco Mendoza, 34 – Type B 2 yr @ $4.8M: Solid bat will get time in 3B and RF.

vLHP SS Joe Blank, 31 – 2 yr @ $1.8M: Good defense, typical SS bat. Will be the guy until after game 20 when he becomes the vLHP platoon. Will also be used to fill in on occasion in CF or 2B.

RF Milton Hermanson, 32 – Type B 4 yr @ $6M: Very good bat and can also play 3B if needed. Will be a big upgrade offensively and defensively compared to last season.

SP Willie Izturis, 31 – Trade with Nashville: Gave up a couple of solid young prospects for an ace that this team has needed to make the next step in the postseason. Huge upgrade as the #1 starter.

SP Tony Telemaco, 33 – GM Declined Option 5 yrs $92M: Not being able to pony up the $110M for Shumpert, Telemaco 
was signed as the next option. He should be a good upgrade as either our #2 or #3 starter.

SP Dante Li, 34 – Type A 5 yrs @ $4.9M: Considering how well he has performed at the hitter’s park in Dover, this was a massive bargain signing that I expect to yield the absolute most bang for the buck of any of my signings. Will be competing for the #2 playoff rotation role.

Minor League Call-ups

3B/RF Willie Guerrero, 22 – A ML average bat with decent defensive skills. Will be part of my three headed 3B/RF trio with Mendoza and Hermanson, since none have the durability to play every day.

vRHP SS Ahmad Lansing, 23 – Was ready last season but had Estrada blocking the way. Great defense, standard SS offense.

LF Jimmie Delgado, 21 – Not yet developing but need him now to fill the spot for payroll purposes. Should be an above average ML hitter, probably average to a little below for COF.

RP Earl Jensen, 21 – Very good short outing reliever that could pitch an inning every other day.
Season Outlook

The offense, which was slightly above average in the AL last season, should have a similar output as last season and score enough runs to compete every night. With Hermanson, the Beavers finally have a third big bat to go along with Acosta and Shigetoshi.

Defensively, the Beavers will continue to be brilliant up the middle with Lansing/Blank at SS, Aguilera at 2B, and Torres in CF. With the new additions, an above average defense should improve to be one of the best in the league.
I started with the top performing pitching staff in the AL, let one stud SP and three poor performing relievers walk and brought in three stud SPs and one stud RP. I believe I have assembled the deepest pitching staff in the majors. I fear that with the failure to sign Shumpert, we still may lack the marquee guy to get us over the hump, but Izturis, Telemaco, and Li will be great additions that give us six starting pitchers that all would probably have a place in the rotation for any other team. I still haven’t made up my mind completely if it will be Schneider or Komatsu as the odd man out.
We were very active this offseason and all of the effort was an attempt to assemble the talent needed to finally end the Gophers stranglehold on the AL. Anything short of a 100+ win season and a trip to the World Series will be a disappointment. This team as currently constructed as a three season window of opportunity as Izturis will be an expensive FA after that.

Oakland Golden Bears
Oakland made a big jump in our rebuilding effort as we finally made the playoffs and showed a real turnaround on the field. We tried to make some big splashes in Free Agency, however we got out spent for a few of the options we were looking at. The biggest fish that got away was Tony Telemaco who ended up signing with Salem who won our division last season and should be the favorite to do so again this season.

As for the players that we added to this seasons roster: Luis Duran and Ajax Goldstein should give us some added bullpen support. We got Mark Glover in a trade with Fargo for future All Star reliever Freddy Barrett. Not sure Glover will have much left in the tank for the Golden Bears, but after not getting much in starters during FA, we had to take a chance.

Jose Gandarilla should give us some added defense in CF. The Oakland front office is extremely excited to have Juan Rojas making his ML debut this season at DH. Rojas should bring some added long ball power in a pitchers park that will hopefully bring us some extra wins as well.

Dover Fightin' Blue Hens
Dover did not make wholesale changes even though the team underperformed last year. Dante Li would not re-sign with the club last year or during the offseason, and the director of player personnel was on a cruise during free agent signings, so Li went elsewhere for a mere $4.9 mil. He will be hard to replace. Dover is continuing to build from the minors, so a playoff spot is the best that can be hoped for. The Blue Hens added Rule 5 pitcher Albert Cedeno and he looks developed enough to contribute. First round pick Patrick Scharein will join an already solid bullpen.

Columbus Buckeyes
Columbus, OH- The natives are growing restless in Columbus and are expecting a return to the playoffs this season. Manager tdfactory got off to a good start in his stint at Columbus and made the playoffs in year 3 for the first time in franchise history but has not been back since. The last 3 years have been a letdown and the fans want wins! On a positive side, the Bucks have had there best 6 year stretch ever and have finished 2nd in the division in 4 of tdfactory's 6 years. 

Players Departing- P Carlos Encarnacion, P Haywood Young, P Mule Wells, P Shawn Beaulac, P Alex Jackson (option not exercised), CF Alberto ANdrus, SS Ricardo Ramirez

Players Added: P Harvey Ennis (Waivers), P Clay Hausmann, P Andres Rosario, 1B Danny Sheffield, CF Everett Wood, 

Up from the Farm- P Placido Romero, P Stephen Harvey

Down on the Farm- Possible Call Up in Season 22- CF Freddie Urich

Tdfactory shook up the team a bit in FA, letting a good chunk of the pitching staff walk and bringing in some new arms to Columbus. Also, another bat was needed and 1B Danny Sheffield was added through trade for a prospect. Columbus chased Telemaco, but the sweepstakes became too rich, so they pulled out to focus on other targets. The team is happy with the additions, however one set back has already occurred with CF Everett Wood sustaining an ankle injury on the 2nd to last day of ST and he is out for 75 days. It is possible tdf could bring up prospect CF Freddie Urich to help fill in, but with no AAA experience yet, it is likely he will stay down until next season. Former 1st rounder Stephen Harvey joins the pen as well as home grown propsect P Placido Romero. If the new adds can gel with some of the young talent on the Buckeyes, a playoff run is not out of the question. Go Bucks!

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