Saturday, November 2, 2013

Season 23 Team Previews - Part One

Charlotte Tar Heels

It feels like overnight my team got really old. Thats a bit meldramatic, but it seems like there are a lot more people hitting 30 or north of 30 and its screaming me in the face. Logically I should try to move some older guys for prospects, but I can't bring myself to do it. I'm going to ride these guys over the next few seasons and hopefully can grab another World Series Title before its all said and done.

Our goal this season is like the others. Win the division and earn a bye and then close my eyes and try not to choke it away. Last season we lost the division to our old nemisis the Orange, but feel pretty good about earning it back this season.

Every single player that makes up the Tar Heel core is back. We did part ways with starting SS Jason Snider and Utlity guy Sean Russell. We have solid, cheaper replacements available. SS Donte Kennedy, SS/CF/Util Albert Park, and C/RF Dave Champion will all be making their debuts in the Carolina Blue this season.

Syracuse Orange

Players Lost: LF Phil Yoshi (Type B. Player Declined Option), SP/RP Brian Masset (Player Declined Option), RP Ernest Silvesti, (Let as FA), RP B.C. Rosado, (Left as FA), Saul Manzanillo (Trade) 

Players Gained: Brian Masset (Re-signed), LF Thurman Stark (Promoted from AA), Utilityman Buddy Ferguson (Promoted from AAA)

This season is a tough call. Everything went right last year. Players that seem to always have one good/one bad season all had good seasons. So this year might see them drop off. 

This team is pretty much the same as last year. The best thing that we have going for us is that we've had two of the last four Rookies of the Year and they're now adding another season of their development. Top prospect Mario Hiljus, who probably was promoted a year or two early, should have a much better season as well. Thurman Stark was not expected to be on the ML squad until season 24 but we're throwing in the lineup after Phil Yoshi declined his option and left as a free agent. 

Hopefully we'll score runs while we continue to lean on the “Big Three” starting pitchers of Harry Guillen, Johnny Ryan and Chad Demel.

Boise Broncos

Boise Bronco Preview: The Broncos will look for improvement from a decidedly mediocre season primarily through the continued development of their young stars beginning with the emergence of Red Dreifort as a true offensive powerhouse in NL. Other key players that are expected to take a major step forward are Jose Ortiz in CF, Anthony Pavano in left and Julio Duran behind the plate. Other key veterans remain in place suck as the dependable Casey Keller at 3B, Herm O’Shea at 2b and in the leadoff spot and the slugging Gorkys James in RF. The pitching staff remains deep with anticipated positive development from Carlos Jose and Max Chavez. Last year’s surprise, Frankie Carreon, who proved he could pitch at the big league level, will round out the starting rotation with veterans Westmorland and Mendoza. The bullpen remains strong and the addition of FA Nick Regan as a long man will help the staff through the middle innings. Finally, some needed power was added to the bench with the FA signing of Raul Cabrera who has made the ML roster as a rookie. Boise is poised to make a run at the division.

Philadelphia Owls

Players Lost : Pitchers Einar Santos, Gregory Cloud, CF Al Petit and RF Ivan Bonilla. 

New players: 1B Greg Lush and C Clarence Christensen.

Rookies expected to contribute: LF Benji Guzman and SP Vernon Black.

We tried hard this off season to boost our line-up with power but other teams had more cash to spend on.

So, offensively, the team will again, count on third baseman Frieri Santiago, RF Mateo Lugo, CF Carlton Brooks, Greg Lush at 1B, DH Terry Lee. But, Juan Dali at short and Terrell Kelly at 2B will help the offense too, they now have one year experience in the ML. Rookie LF Benji Guzman should also contribute with his bat.
The rotation, lead by Carlos Martinez, is this year again, a question mark, hopefully the arrival of rookie Vernon Black will help. In the bullpen, everybody's back, it should be more than OK.

The future though, looks bright with lefty SP Marino Megias, SP Buddy Bravo, CF Julio Cueto and DH Dusty Malone. 

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

Huntington Thundering Herd

After a disappointing season, the Herd retooled both their lineup and their pitching staff. 

The lineup looks different as the Herd saw several position players walk in an effort to retool. This includes a whole new catching corps as switch-hitter Pablo Flores (.304/.379/.466) anchors the crew. Youngsters Greg Spence & Coleman (rookies) round out the crew. It has yet to be determined if youth will be served at that position as Spence can really develop into a nice hitter and already has the skills to be a good defensive backstop. After making a mockery of the outfield, Shane Meadows returns to 1B, while Rey Jung returns to SS and Markus Crosby stays in CF. In an effort to get some sort of return on a horribly overpriced player, Wes Cyr returns to 3B. His defense has declined, so watch out. Miguel Concepcion takes over at 2B, while Andrea Nelson returns to Huntington to play LF. The big “get” of this off-season was the signing of RF Doug Sullivan. One of the best offensive players in the world, Sullivan will look to hold down the 3rd slot in the lineup and provide some punch for this team.

The pitching staff has seen a remake as well. Myette made 10 starts for the Herd last season, while Cole Mitchell appeared in 39 games, starting 25 of those in S22. Jason Cole, Mateo Miro will make up 2 of the other slots in the rotation. The final slot is up for grabs between Gregory Cloud, Chad O’Leary and Joe Alexander. The loser will be relegated to the bullpen for a key spot there. The bullpen returns talented David Mathews and Benjamin Bowker while having Jimmy Kinkade provides the veteran presence needed. Bill Watkins comes over to help this team out in the back-end.

I can’t really get a feeling for this team, other than to say I’m excited for the season to get started.

Arizona Lumberjacks

Key Losses: 1B Angel Sanchez (trade), C Wallace Stephenson (trade)
Key Additions: 1B Fred O'Neill (FA), C Ronnie Magee (FA), RP Mark Cheng (FA), RP Andrew Ramsey (trade)
Prospect Debuting this year: RF Howard Stevenson

General outlook for the Lumberjacks this season is similar to last year. Some retooling was done in the offseason to acquire some additional prospects and we filled those holes with short term free agents. Arizona is hoping for some improvement on their 83 wins from a year ago as we expect some young players to continue to improve. 

The lineup will be led by young bats Doug Treadway and Howard Stevenson as well as powerful vet Fred O'Neill (who was signed after losing out on Doug Sullivan). The pitching staff is strong with a great bullpen and veteran starters Kevin Ryu and Alvin Barnes to go along with youngster Glenallen Phelps.

Detroit Wolvernies

The Detroit Wolverines didn't do much in the offseason even though they're record suggests they should have. We've got some real young players who are starting to play more to their ratings that we're patiently waiting to develop into our stars such as Douglas Lawrie and Keith Petersen. Brutus Olmos will get called up from AAA this season and possibly Marshall Washington as well who has seen limited time in the majors. Our pitching finished in the top 10 in team era last season and we didn't lose anyone of value but did pick up Jose Aybar off the wire who should help eat some innings. We're not quite ready to compete for playoff spot but believe we'll be better this season than last and planning for a long playoff run in two seasons.

Dover Fightin' Blue Hens

Dover is a virtual mirror image of last year, with one exception. Gone is catcher Clarence Christensen, replaced by C Wallace Stephenson. All of the young talent should be a season better. Carl Schneider should be able to crack the rotation barring another injury, and look for phenom Fernado Posada to make a run at rookie of the year.

Dover won 90 games and the division with the same guys and on paper they should be even better with more experience. Only bad management could keep Dover from improving on season 22.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

There isn't too much expectation in Texas this season. The franchise continues to change gears from 'win now' mode to 'rebuild.' With a farm system largely devoid of talent, the front office continues to invest heavily in foreign and domestic scouting. Fans will still be coming out to see 6-time Cy Young Award winner Michael Shumpert and fan favorite Adam Ceneca as they continue to wind down their HoF careers. The ML roster was largely filled out with veteran and journeyman players to keep the team on the field as competitive as possible while the minors are restocked. The only exciting new player on the team is rookie catcher Michael Ozuna. The switch hitting rookie is expected to be a very good hitter, with a cannon arm to help keep the opposition running game in check. He still has a lot to learn about managing a pitching staff, and will hopefully learn from a roster stacked with veteran hurlers. It would take a perfect season for this team to make the playoffs, especially with rival, defending champion Richmond boasting such a loaded team.

No comments: