Friday, August 8, 2014

Season 26 Team Previews

Charlotte Tar Heels

Last season was another disappointing finish in the playoffs.  Its hard to get too frustrated because the playoffs are such a crapshoot and the toughest part is getting in and then all bets are off, but the core of this team has been together for so long and been so successful, its hard not to be frustrated with only 1 World Series Championship.  We'd love to squeeze one more out before the team has to be torn down.  We've made some moves over the past couple seasons to inject some youth to balance out the stars who are aging quickly.

Our big offseason move was to bring in Doug Sullivan to anchor the middle of the lineup, but its strictly as a one season rental which is not a typical move we'd make, but we really want to win a another series as the core of the team enters the end of their careers.

We will also bring up promising youngsters Ed Priest (SP) and Fred Joseph (SS/IF).  Priest will be a long reliever and bide him time to eventually enter the rotation.  Joseph has a really nice bat and a borderline glove for SS.  he'll probably play a bunch of different positions.

Our goal is to win the NL East, earn a bye, and hopefully bring home a World Series Championship.

Huntington Thundering Herd

Last season saw an underperforming offensive performance combine with an underperforming pitching staff to create a very disappointing season. After looking over free agency and the trade market, the Herd mostly stood pat on offense, only moving OF Doug Sullivan in order to acquire some pitching depth. That means the Herd returns an offense with lots of power and hopefully a higher average. 

Pitching staff wise we exercised the option on staff ace Fausto Gimenez (11-11, 3.75ERA, 1.19WHIP). We then added 300-game winner and surefire hall of famer Jack Daley and former Cy Young winner John Kramer to the rotation to give us a very strong top 3 of the rotation. The bottom 2 is quite unsettled at this point. We also added former Fireman of the Year and 2-time all-star reliever Ozzie Lange to the bullpen that already included some talent in it. RHP Albert Moreland looks to come over in the Doug Sullivan deal to make an impact in the rotation. 

Right now, the Herd has only 10 position players on their ML roster as management decides how to move forward. There is a plethora of options in the minors to strengthen the bench, but the rotation and bullpen could stand to add some depth to it as well. Operating on a budget really sucks sometimes.

Added: C Derrick Longoria, RHP Jack Daley, RHP John Kramer, RHP Ozzie Lange
Lost: RHP Lew Whitaker (34 GS), LHP Ralph Myette (33 GS), RHP Gregory Cloud (31GS), LHP Jerrod Moylan (31GS), LHP Jason Cole, RHP Luther Stockton, RHP Cole Mitchell, OF Doug Sullivan (.265/.359/.459).

Detroit Wolverines

Management didn't do much to the club this off-season liking where we are at. We made some big trades to get SP Carlos Martinez and Marino Megias last season which provided us with 36 wins between them. LF Galahad Cox was brought up after arb deadline last season as well and managed to hit 30 home runs so we’re expecting big numbers out of him this season. The Wolverines had 6 players hit 30+ home-runs last season so we really didn't feel like we should mess with the lineup much. Jamie North may get called up to play first base after arb depending on how Nerio Diggins starts out but he hit 35 home runs and drove in 105 so we really don’t just want him sitting on the bench. The club locked up Douglas Lawrie long term this off-season and will have a few more players next season to sign long-term. With 95 win season last season and our core 27 years or younger we feel like we should be competing for the NL North for quite some time and hopefully get lucky in the playoffs.

Philadelphia Owls

Players Lost : Relief pitcher Carrera Martin and C Derrick Longoria. 

New players: PH/DH Hooks Cheney.

Rookies expected to contribute: SP Buddy Bravo.

After a great season 25, here in Philadelphia, we look forward to another great season but with a better final.

Offensively, the team is coming back with almost the same line-up, the only change is the arrival of a pinch hitter/designated hitter Hooks Cheney.
Clarence Christensen and Bruce McMahon will split the job of catcher.
At first base, our young star Benji Guzman is back.
The middle of the infield is in good hands with 2B Terrell Kelly and SS Juan Dali.
At third, Frieri Santiago is back after his best offensive season with 44 HRs, 127 runs and 133 RBIs.
The outfield is very solid with, from left to right, Keith Petersen, Julio Cueto and Mateo Lugo.
And the DH job is also in good hands with Terry Lee and Hooks Cheney.

The rotation, lead by Vernon Black should be more than OK with Shigetoshi Tabaka, Brandon Gragg, Tito McGee and young lefty Buddy Bravo.
In the bullpen, everybody's back except Martin, it should be OK.

Maybe this year is the year for you, Owls fans! 

Cincinnati Bearcats

Coming off a 68 win season, the Bearcats bid adieu to two long time veterans. Bradford and Hodges played a combined 5,135 games for Cincy. There is no chance either of their numbers will be retired. Except for pitching, hitting, and defense, the Bearcats are in good shape. The front office has hired a team of retired FBI agents to see if they can find any talent in the Minors. The ML roster currently carries 22 names; but, there are only a dozen or so major leaguers there. The upcoming season carries lofty expectations. The number crunchers are predicting 69 wins.

Nashville Commodores

The young nucleus of the Nashville Commodores took a major step last season by making the playoffs for the first time in 5 seasons. The entire pitching staff returns this season, but still looks to be the teams weak spot. Led by starters Livan Rosales and Erubiel Matos, and with Troy McEnroe in the bullpen, this seasons group looks to be solid, but not spectacular. Management is hoping another season of experience will help the staff improve.
Nashville added veterans Dickie McDill in CF, and Paul Igarashi in RF via trades. Harry Zorilla will make is debut at 1B/DH at some point during the season. The lineup looks to be solid, with more power than the Commodores have had in the past. An above average defense should help the young pitching staff improve, but the offense will be the key to challenging for the playoffs once again.

Kansas City Wildcats

It is another rebuilding year for the Kansas City Wildcats. Future Hall Of Famer Craig Sanders retired. Closer Bing Charles left for Free-Agency. There is hope for improvement. This year there are 7 first round picks starting on offense. Top prospect Louie Cook will be promoted to the majors this year. Five free agent pitchers were signed to improve the pitching staff. We have a lot of talent in the low minors Al Corino, Ralph Martin, Wes Story and Carson Lilly.

Anaheim Trojans

There have been no roster changes this offseason. Two major trades last year brought in veterans Bartolo Vargas, Benji Ramirez, and Max Chavez. We are expecting that they will all provide improvements. The bullpen, lead by Vargas should be strong. The offense, which was second in the majors in runs scored should only get better as our young guys improve. Our rotation is made up of a bunch of #3 -4 starters, with no ace. This might prevent us from a long playoff run.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

Season 25 was an all time low for the Texas franchise. It was the worst season in team history and also marked the 5th straight season that this squad has missed the playoffs. From a franchise that was always a playoff contender, earning a playoff berth in 11 of the 12 previous seasons, this level of ineptitude was unacceptable. The fans would tolerate it no longer, and the GM's job is most certainly on the line. As a result, Season 26 produced the most active offseason I've ever been a part of. Ten of the men on the ML roster weren't around last season. Two rookie were called up, international pitcher Ariel Maranon and former #6 overall pick, RF Del Todd. While most of the position players will return from last season (it was mostly pitching that was needed), a couple of key players were signed to make the offense more potent. Former All Star and 4x World Series Champ Angel Sanchez will be playing 1B. Former All Star and World Series Champ Marino Terrero will play LF and add a professional bat, solid defense at the corner and much needed team speed. Veteran SS Jumbo Cortazar, added via trade, will anchor the team defensively. The pitching staff was completely gutted, adding 5 FA pitchers. The biggest names were former Red Raider SP Ralph Myette, lefty SP Alfredo Carreras and veteran Bill Johnson. The primary expectation for this team is to return to respectability after last season's embarrassment. I think, that if everything bounces just right, that this squad can be an 82-86 win team, which will keep us in the mix for the Wild Card.

Boise Broncos

The Boise Broncos hope to be very competitive this season. This team should hit quite well. All position players are returning vets with the exception of CF where the FA addition of Jaime Reed should give the Broncos an effective CF platoon. Starting pitching will again be the critical issue for the team and the continued improvement of both Trever Christian and Ray Dawkins are key elements in the eventual success of failure of the team. The bulk of the stating work will again rest on the veteran arms of Carlos Jose, Paredes Mendoza and Vic Keefe. The excitement in Boise will remain focused however, on our young stars, Pedro Rosario behind the plate, Red Dreifort at 1B, Javier Martin at second base, Rickey Brush at short and Frank Hughes out in RF.

Arizona Lumberjacks

Key additions: Pedro Gonzales
Key losses: None

The Lumberjacks bring back a nearly identical team as last season. However, after losing two world series in a row, Arizona pulled the trigger on adding power bat Pedro Gonzales to the lineup. The expectations in Arizona are to win another division title and continue to make noise in the playoffs.

Little Rock Razorbacks

Another rebuilding year. We have some young guys in the majors that we hope will develop a little more. Also, there are some young guys in the minors that we hope will make a huge step forward. The minors is headlined by a player that was acquired via trade last year.

Iowa City Hawkeyes

Iowa will try once again to get off the bottom and try to be competitive and hopefully back into the playoffs. 

Not a lot of changes to the lineup, we made a trade for Olmedo Acosta to try and improve our bats as well as signed Bartolo Estrada to become faster. 

We took a chance on a couple of Rule 5 free agents in Shelley Bard and Melky Gonzales. 

Hopefully the team will gel and will make waves in the league

Louisville Cardinals

There is excitement and optimism in Louisville for season 26 after a 17-8 (.680) finish lasr season as new GM Nittany88 took over. Upgrades in coaching and ML roster with fiscal discipline make a wild card challenge a real possibility with an $85mm moneyball lineup for this season and full flexibility with $22 in contracts for 27 and then only $11 for 28 and 29.
The biggest offseason regret was losing the Pedro Gonzales FA pursuit.
New players: 
2B Ron Dougherty from AAA
SP Damian Martin from FA
RP Bill Perez from FA
RP Jose Rodriguez from FA
C Bo Nixon appears ready for a midseason promo

Lost : (aging players)
C Hooks Cheney
3B Robert Frederick
RF Thomas Lucano
SS Bob Dodd
SP John Lewis

Trades: None

Jackson Rebels

Not much to report out of the Jackson camp this season. The roster pretty much remains unchanged from last year. A season that saw the big league club go through an 18 game win streak to open the season (longest in franchise history) to basically hitting a downward spiral the rest of the year.

Rookie catcher Carmine Hale was promoted and is expected to bring another big bat to compliment the $20 million dollar man in Lyle Daly, who remains a huge force in the Rebel lineup. Hale will be platooned often as his health number (61) will prevent him from quality playing time. Benito Tejeda was the only free agent signing and it was to bring depth to the infield and to give SS Fernando Segui a break.

Pitching remains a huge question drastic changes were made here. Yonder Santos, the aging veteran, will begin the year as the #5 in the rotation after several season of the being the #1 and the norm for Opening Day. Jordan Stephens was expected to be the ace when drafted but he never reached his potential after elbow surgery in Season 22. More than likely, this will be Stephens' last year in a Rebel uniform. Nash Messmer will once again anchor the bullpen as the closer. He has been the only consistent in the bullpen but like Santos, he is aging and his role could change as well.

As for the season expectations..well, management refuses to do as the inconsistencies continue to throttle this team year in and year out. Playing .500 ball is not an unreachable goal but this team finds a new way to disappoint every single freaking year!!

Memphis Tigers

Players Added: Bucky Arnold SP

Key Players Lost: None

Key Transactions: None

Rookies to watch for: Mack Brush LF

The Tigers will be entering their 26th season with the same core group from a year ago, a year which saw Memphis in position to grab a wild card spot , only to again falter down the stretch. With no major losses to a line-up and pitching staff that finished 3rd in the NL south last season, management expects this season to be comparable to last, while maintaining hopes for more consistency throughout. Look for rookie Mack Brush be the opening day LF with Riku Martin moving over to 1B , while rookies Niko Vaughn and Jhonny Aguilera will look to platoon at 2b. The Tigers grabbed Pokey Allen via the Rule 5 to help on defense and provide speed off the bench. Also, Memphis welcomes SP Bucky Arnold, who was brought in to compete for the 2nd or 3rd spot in the rotation lead by Carver.

Seattle Huskies

Pitching, pitching, pitching. Seattle will live and die by its pitching staffs performance. The rotation is headed by Ivan Cano, Patrick Pettibone, Travis Jackson and Henderson Edwards. An exceptional 4 man rotation if the Huskies could ever get in a playoff series. Roberto Moya headlines the billpen. Aurielio Navarro goes back into the primary set up role this year. Those 2 along with the supporting cast can shorten games, if only leads can be gained. Offensive production has improved but remains mediocre at best. LF/1B Thumper Junge and 2B Albert Grza will be counted on to drive in runs. Donaldo Renteria will man SS with great defense and hopefully score many runs. The offense will scrap an claw for every run. Hopes are high. The playoffs are within reach and Seattle hopes to punch its ticket this season.

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