Saturday, December 24, 2011

AL EAST - Season #20 Preview

Baltimore Renegades

The Baltimore Renegades are trying to get to the World Series for the first time in the history of the franchise. They came up a little short last season as they lost to the Salem Slayers (the eventual World Series champions) in the ALCS.  The team is geared to win now as many of the players are in their prime. 

The Renegades have lots of fire power offensively.  With the likes of C-Walt Harnisch, 1B- Pascual Sanchez, 2B- Ricky Atchley, 3B- Cory Thomas, SS- Russell Collins, LF- Ian Trammell, CF- Rafael Blasco, RF-Craig Cook, and DH- Jim Morris...this team is sure to score lots of runs. Young players like 1B- Jim Brooks and CF/2B- Pablo Durazo have to bide ther time in AAA (or on the ML bench) to get the chance to crack the starting line-up.

The Starting pitching is good (not great), with Milt Gagne, Vic Ordonez, Victor Palmeiro and rookie phenom Kevin Lawrence.  The last spot in the rotation will go to the winner of the Spring Training battle between Walt Koch and newly acquired free agent Mateo Leon.  The loser of this battle should whind up being the long-man out of the bullpen.

The bullpen is the team's biggest weakness.  It's led by second year closer Bengie Plata and Damian Murphy.  The Renegades also added RH set-up man Alex Mangual via free agency this offseason, but tried unsuccessfully to acquire a more experienced closer to help transition Plata into the role full-time.  The closer role is definately Plata's job to lose entering Spring Training, but don't be suprised if the team tries to acquire a more seasoned veteran by trade or uses a bullpen-by-committee approach as needed.

Top Rookies- CF/2B- Pablo Durazo (AAA) and 1B- Jim Brooks (AAA)

Key Players Lost- RHP- Joaquin Benitez (waivers), RHP- Orlando James (FA), RHP- Moe Fasano (FA), LHP- Alex Whang (FA), C- Catfish Harper (waivers), 1B- Vasco Bonilla (FA), 2B/LF- Luis Megias (Released), and LF-Jesse Stein (FA).

Key Players Aquired- RHP- Mateo Leon (FA), RHP- Alex Mangual (FA), C- Tomas Prieto (Rule 5 Draft), 3B-Nerio Baker (FA), and 1B/LF- Elston Malloy (FA).

Key Off-Season Transaction- Signing free agent RHP Alex Mangual as it should help settle this seasons biggest need.  Mangual may also see some save opportunities this seaon as the closer .

Cincinnati Rang

I think my team will contend for a playoff spot.  My best prospects are Ricky Liverman, Jimmy Cintron, Albert Mondesi, Phillip Pride.

Players added...Dante Ledesma, Jose Morales, Wilton Tucker. Players lost...Pedro Tatis, Junior Brea.

My best move was getting Dante Ledesma because he gave me a solid five starter.

New York Surf Riders

The big additions to the New York Surf Riders pitching staff in the offseason were bringing in additional bullpen depth with veteran set up relievers John Schmidt and Alex Thornton and picking up Felix Justice as a long reliever and spot starter in the Rule 5 draft. The rotation got a lot younger with the addition of rookie Derrick Cunningham, to complement Jackson Magadan and Wayne Allen, but still has veteran anchors Whitey West and Shooter Ledesma. Longtime SP, Albert Delgado has been demoted to the bullpen as a long reliever, but provides insurance against injuries. We lost LH set-up man Phillip Hammond, who was a big free agent pick up several seasons ago, but underperformed for us and lost the closer role to all-star Matt Antonelli. We got two Type A picks for him (49 and 100). A key to the Surf Riders season is that the young starting staff continue to develop, and get our team pitching our of the bottom third of the league. A bonus would be the development of Justice into a bona fide 4 or 5 starter.

On the line-up side, the addition of Derrick Landrum via trade, increases the team’s emphasis on versatile hitters who have both pop and on base skills as well as speed and versatility in the field. He joins Thomas Andujar, Yannick Williams Jr, Alex Calvo and newcomer Steve Adams, all in that mold. The middle of the lineup remains strong with sluggers Roger Mills, Giomar Cabrero and Jeremy Weston all coming back. Walters provides tremendous power off the bench, and would start for many teams. Free agent catcher Ernest Jameson was added as a back-up. With these additions, we are hoping that the team can move from the top half to the top third of the league in hitting. The team lost perennial all-star Anthony Thomas to free agency. We got two Type A picks for him (19 and 52). Overall the team has 6 top 100 picks, including 2 top 20, so it should continue to be able to strengthen from within the organization.

Columbus Cheese N' Rice