Saturday, December 17, 2011

NL NORTH - Season #20 Preview

Cleveland Rockers

After finishing in last place the last 7 years Rockers fans finally have a team to be excited about. Cleveland has gone through a painful rebuilding process but is now ready to really compete for seasons to come.  Our goal is to win 85 games this year with an outside chance of making the playoffs.

The Rockers top major league players are led by veteran 3B Orber McClellan who is in a contract year and probably won’t be around next year to enjoy the team’s success.  Tomas Blanco is a steady force at 2B. Doesn’t do anything great but everything solid. SP Jaret Serafini is really expected to take the next step and become the ace of the team.

The top minor league players are led by 3B Kendry Benitez who is expected to take over for Orber McClellan at some point this season. Power hitting LF Ty Scanlan should also make his Big League debut this year and not disappoint.  CF Luis Osuna will probably force his way into the line-up at some point this year and Deacon Clayton should arrive to help round out the young starting pitching staff.

The goal of the offseason was to solidify the bullpen and we think we accomplished that with the signings of 3 veteran relievers.  Louis Philips, Marty Bellhorn and Erik Bradley should step right in and help with high leverage, late inning situations.

Montreal Thunder Birds

Thunderbirds have one objective, Win! Plain and simple.

The main goal is to build an team that works prefect at an offensive ball park, considering we play over 100 games an season at one.  The Thunderbirds Season 20 main needs where. Infield, Bench and Bullpen.

We have an ton of arms in the minors but most are prefect for an pitchers park, not an hitters park. With that we needed to gain some high powered arms for the backend of our bullpen. Since the Thunderbirds usally gain nearly 30 wins out of the pen each season, this was an must. We scouted pitchers last season to see who would fit prefectly on our team. We had about 6 short men on our radar. We where able to land two of the top choices. And for far under market value.

Erik Bradley short RP (gone)
We knew we would let over the hill Bradley go. We tried trading him last season when he was blowing games left and right. Bradley did vary well for us the first 4 seasons but he was one of the teams worst players last season when he blow the lead in 15 games, 10 of which he won, thanks to late game offensive production.

Elroy Swift Long RP (gone)
It was his time to move on consider we now have prospects in system that can do equal or better than Elroy can do now. Also by declining Swifts contact we had added 5.8 million to the budget, allowing us to move some budget dollars else where.

Frank Hackmen Short RP (Option Accepted)
This guy been awesome for us the past 4 seasons. He racks up innings and does what needs to be done. His 5th season payroll was an little high for an short RP. But still is an major player in our pen for seasons to come.

Olmedo Ramriez Short RP (Promoted)
Rameriez was an International Free-Agent addtion in season 15 comming at the bargin price of $575,000. Ramriez has some uncanney stuff that should help the team for seasons to come.

Pedro Lopez Long RP (Promoted)
When the team had an season ending injury in season 18, Pedro got an shot at the bigs. Pedro was not really big league ready then. He still did an good overall job considering. Pedro spent season 19 in the minors improving on his stuff. He now looks to fill an role left by Elroy Swift in long RP, where he should do just fine.

Moe Fasano Short RP (Free Agent Signing)
Was looking for an strong short man vs Right handed hitters. While Moe an LHP, his vs RH was higher than most RHP. Fasano has top notch talent and comes for an low price. It was an no brainer signing.

Phillp Hammond Short RP (Free Agent Signing)
Phillp was on our radar for some time. There one downside to Phillp but everything else has an wow factor that out weights that one item. Once Hammond dropped his demands, we made the move. Phillp should help the Thunderbirds to countune there near 20 season dominate with an top notch bullpen.

Stating Pitching.
We had an few SP types working out of the Long RP role the past few seasons. Since Vasco Batista could not win an game vs Talented teams. That and cost us an world series birth with 3 loses after we needed just one to win the NLCS. It was his time to go. We made some role changes considering we have talent already on the team to make such an move.

Vasco Batista, SP (gone)
Could not win an game vs talented teams, and cost us an world series birth (with needed only 1 win for the NL crown & this Bozo lost 3 games for us in the NLCS.) It was his time to go. If an player can only pitch good vs the weaker rebuilding teams. He is then not worth the marbles. He still could have been an option at Long RP if we did not have younger and cheaper alternatives there. That and if he cost far less an season in payroll.

The Infield could have seen an major set back. In the end it was detoured by resigning William Sutton and adding Miguel Cabeza to the mix.

Jerry Shaffer 3B/RF (gone)
Jerry actually declined his mutal option with us. Thanks Jerry for saving the Thunderbirds 1 million in cash.

William Sutton SS (Resigned)
This was our #1 objective during the off season, resign Sutton. We also liked Free Agent Pedro Tatis, but were very conserned with Pedro's 73 durability to not over bid for him. With that said, we keep an player (William Sutton) that posts over 700 plate appearance an season, Scores many runs and does the little things that help our team win. Where happy that he is back for more seasons.

Miguel Cabeza 3B/RF (Free Agent Signing)
We had Miguel in our sights for his whole career. We missed signing him as International Free agent and had offered to trade for him almost every season since. 12 seasons later we finally have him on our roster and we are more than happy with it.
Miguel brings the same aspect of play to the team as SS Willaim Sutton does. He should fit prefectly into our ball park and help the team win asap.

We had one opening on our bench for an player that could play either in an platoon and or depth with multipile postions. We had an dozen or so players that could have fit this bill in our sights. The key here was to get an player at one seasons contact and low cash.. We decided to play the wait and see appoach. In the end we resigned one of our own free agents, for an new role.

Bucky Bradley CIF/COF (Resigned)
We had an need for adding another postion player for reason of depth. Bucky still has tools we can use even at an limited part time role. It made since, really consider the role is not the same as it was an season ago.

Other Season 20 Roster Moves….

Jeriemi Hernandez LF (Contact Extension)
No Brainer, Contact Extension all the way.

Kris Coveleski ULT (Resigned)
Kris has assumed the role of ulity player for another season with an small fee of $360,000. He an great fielder and could fill an hole anywhere in an pinch.

David Masato C (Resigned)
For $360,000 he fills in just fine as the back up to big dog Amaro. He OK at Catching and very good at hitting. For the small contact, it was an no brainer.

JP Perez COF (Resigned)
$378,000 where do we sign! This guy has tons of upside. The only issue this high health ranking player has been victim of the DL for seasons. We never know if he will ever get an chance to make it an full season without landing on the DL.

Grover Abbott Pitcher (Resigned)
It cost us $1.5 million to renew him for another season. Grover always seems to produce well in the roles we put him in. We will take the gamble and see what he does this season.

Ottawa Lockmasters

The Lockmasters expect another long season in Ottawa.  Building through the draft will hopefully pay dividends in the coming seasons. This year will mark the first of those seasons. They have high hopes for Dennis Herzog. He is one of my first draft choices after I took over. 

One small, albeit hopefully useful acquisition is Roger Miller at first base. It is neccessary that I get people on base for my lone star Buster Simas to drive in more as he has fantastic power. 

I suspect before too long that my two key pitching prospects will be on the ML squad; Brian Jacobs and Gerald Burch. Both could no doubt start in the majors when season opens, but I would prefer to let them grow a little more in AAA.

It will be another season of saying "How did I win that game?" It always comes down to the same answer. Piching, Defense and Luck.

Sioux Falls Canaries 

Right now, our pitching staff is definitely our biggest strength. Stocked with a good mix of veterans and high endurance....we should be very deep on the mound.  Starters will be led by Brandon Wooten who is old but we still expect him to be a capable ace. At positions, we have a specialized roster. Several players that excel on defense and other that will bring a stick.

Our challenge will be to find the right mixture each night. Excited about prospects Bosco Spencer, Walter Detwiler and Benny Pascual...along with several other prospects that have attractive potential futures.  I'm stepping into a franchise that has a history of winning, so hopefully we can learn this thing fast. We are in a division of what looks to be veteran managers so I know it is going to be a tough road.

We are hoping to figure out a way to challenge for the division, but if and when reality sets in...our goal for season one is to win more games than we lose and not finish last at any level, as well as continue to position our franchise for future success. I have a thought about what kind of roster we will have in the future and even though I like the players at the ML level we have, it will take some time to re-tool to what I would like to see at certain positions. I think we have the players in the system to get there, it's a matter of development and figuring out this game's process.