Thursday, October 11, 2012

AL EAST - Season #23 Preview

Baltimore Renegades

The Baltimore Renegades went to their second consecutive World Series last season. Unfortunately, they came up short again.  This time, they were swept in four games by The Rochester Rodents Of Unusual Size. The Renegades' Management still believes the team has a 2-3 season window to win, and to WIN NOW. Baltimore's 'win now' mentality has came at a hefty price though, as the team's minor league system is in shambles. The team has signed at least one Type A free agent each of the last five seasons, making an already anemic Minor League system even worse. Baltimore has rated dead last in regards to their Minor League system for two years running and there is no sign of that chaning any time soon.  There is no Minor League help for the Big League club. Management is taking a huge risk and hopes that injuries and age don't play havoc on this team throughout the season. 

The good news is that the team has a great young core of super stars who have been locked up to long-term contracts. The hope is that the team will be able to invest more into their Minor League system in future seasons to come as the long-term contracts were mostly front-end loaded.

The Renegades have lots of fire power offensively. This team is sure to score a lot of runs with the likes of C-Walt Harnisch, 1B- Oswaldo Padilla (R), 2B- Ricky Atchley, 3B- Derrek Henderson, SS-Craig Jackson, LF- Lewis Glover, CF- Andy Norton, RF-Craig Cook, and the platoon of DH- Jim Morris and Vin Villafuerte.  The bench is also strong with UT-Pepe Cabellero, C-Alex Crosby, and OF-Jesse Stein.  

The Starting rotation is still a work in progress.  The staff is anchored by returning veterans RHP-David Vargas and LHP-Vic Ordonez.  It will be bolstered this season by new acquired RHP-Jimmie Veres (trade) and LHP-Angel Martin (free agent).  The last spot will be RHP-Walt Koch's to lose as LHP-Willie Quinones is waiting for a chance to start if Koch falters.  Quinones will start the year as the long man in the pen. 



The bullpen will be anchored this year (and into the forseeable future) by LH closer Darrin Roth who signed a 5-year deal this off-season. The bullpen is equally balanced with three righties (Paul Summers, Julian Ortiz, and Damion Murphy) and three lefties (Willie Quinones, Olmedo Ramirez, Neftali Delgado).

Top Rookie- 1B-Oswaldo Padilla

Key Players Lost- RHP-Mark Holder (trade), RHP-Cecil Holmes (FA), RHP-Alex Santiago (FA),  LHP-Takashi Wantanabe (trade), 1B-Emmett Collins (trade), 3B-Russell Collins (trade), LF-Carlos Sosa (trade), CF-Terry Ramirez (trade), CF-Herb Reed (trade). 

Key Players Acquired- LHP-Neftali Delgado (FA), LHP-Angel Martin (FA), LHP-Willie Quinones (trade), RHP-Jimmie Veres (trade), 1B-Oswaldo Padilla (trade), 1B/DH- Vin Villafuerte (FA), SS-Craig Jackson (trade), LF-Lewis Glover (FA), CF/3B- Andy Norton (FA).

Key Off-Season Transaction- Re-acquiring SS-Craig Jackson from Honalulu in a three team trade.  Craig Jackson is a young stud SS and is still scratching the surface of his immense talent.  This kid will be in Baltimore for many years to come.

Columbus Chesse N' Rice

Looking to build on wild card berth last year and go deeper in the playoffs. Lost Vince Caruso which sucked but the slack can be picked up. Alberto Guapo and Artie Bukvich are now full time regulars. there wasn't much pitching talent in the off season but I definitely upgraded.

Top Prospect is Cesar Molina

Chicago Goshawks


Jacksonville Plumbers


AL NORTH - Season #23 Preview

Detroit Wolverines

Top Newcomers: Free Agent Signee SP Lorenzo Guillon( signed away from division rival Philadelphia), and Rookies SS Bartolo Padilla(Rule 5 Draft), LF Ken Montgomery, and CF Tim Taylor

The Offense is led by 4th Year CF Roland Street, Street came into his own last year scoring over 120 runs, 104 RBI’s and 68 SB’s. Street has some powerful friends in 3B Anthony Thomas who hit over .300 last Season and recorded his 9th Season of over 100 RBI’s in his big league career. There is definitely speed to burn on this team with 2B Javy Jimenez, RF Charlie Little, and LF Ken Montgomery all expected to have 30 plus SB’s this season. DH Enrique Bolivar had 30 HR’s last season and is expected to provide the power along with 1B Michael Lee. Lee has hit 28 or more HR’s in 8 Consecutive Seasons. Fausto Martin is moving into the starting SS role after being in the Outfield the last few seasons. The catching duties are split between Left Handed hitting Reid Barker and Right Handed Hitting Robbie Belisle.

The Starting Pitching is led by new acquisition Lorenzo Guillon, and also includes Angel Estrella, J.D. Randall, Horacio Sierra and Doc Blair. This is a young group. The average age is 26. The oldest are 28 years old.

The Relief Pitching is a mixed bag with a few players in new roles led by last season’s late acquisition Neal Goodman now in the Closer’s role. Rob Rekar goes back to his set up role where he performed well in past seasons after struggling as the closer last year.

Detroit is hoping to make a run to the top of the division after 6 consecutive years finishing in 2nd. It's definitely a young team with only 1 Starter over the age of 30.

Buffalo Ice Dogs


Helena Horsemen


Philadelphia Dusters


AL SOUTH - Season #23 Preview

Houston Wranglers


The Wranglers are coming off a season where we posted a team record for futility, losing 116 games (46-116). The silver lining would hopefully be that we "can only get better".

The Wranglers offense should be paced this season by our power hitting DH, Guillermo Matos. Matos hit .281 last season, with 37 HR and 104 RBI. Matos will look for help from Catcher Tracy Voigt. Voigt hit .295 last season with 15 HR and 69 RBI. 2B Rafael Blasco should also contribute. Blasco hit .279 last season with 13 HR and 48 RBI.

Three young pitchers will make their ML debut in the rotation this season. The core of starters includes Andres Moreno, who's coming off of a dazzling post-season performance in the AAA playoffs last season. Moreno will be joined by Kevin Aoki and Derek Jones in the rotation. All three pitchers are between the ages of 21-24. Each could use more time to develop in the minors but unfortunately the Wranglers have nobody else to sling it this season.

The Wranglers do have some young talent that we hope to see continue their development this season. The young power hitting catcher Lenny Smart returns. Smart hit .295 in the minors last season, with 46 HR and 110 RBI. Smart would have been joined by SS/IF Leon Bolick in the minors. Bolick hit .310 last season with 28 HR and 119 RBI. Unfortunately, Bolick just suffered a serious injury that will see him miss just about the entire season.

We acquired four young, talented pitchers via the draft last season. This group claims three future starters in Ryouta Jung, Billy Scott and James Valentine. They are joined by reliever Harry Hernandez. All four will start the season in Low A ball, but should continue their steady climb to the

The Wranglers were pretty quiet as far as off season acquisitions. We picked up 31 year old utility player Rico Arias. Arias hit .291 in 140 AAA games last season. We also nabbed DH Arthur Kashmir. Kashmir showed some power last season where in 144 AAA games he hit 36 HR. He should provide some power off the bench for us. The bullpen got some help when the Wranglers picked up 25 year old reliever Phillip Charles. Charles struglled the last few seasons, but showed promise early in his career. We hope to see him rebound while working on his craft in the minors.

Santa Fe Railroads

The Railroads tried a few things this offseason. Coming off of two 75 win seasons in a row,  some changes were necessary. We brought in Herb Reed to patrol center for several seasons and Nolan Everett for some starting pitching stability. The cost was 5 decent prospects in Homer VanHekken, Wandy Estrella,  Mike Sanders, last seasons #1 pick Doc Regan and Louis Flood, but we hope it was worth it. 

Alejandro Mangual was brought in to play right field and Hector Ward was acquired in the Rule 5 draft and immediately slotted into the starting 2B slot.  With 3B Lawrence Williams, LF Justin Kubenka, 1B Ralph Sutton and DH Naoki Zhang, along with Reed and Mangual, the offense looks like it should be potent.

With Cameron Price, Felipe Martinez, the old vet Harry Pinzon, and Everett, the staff should hopefully be stable, and with Coco Reagan closing games, perhaps the Railroads wont lose too many close ones. 

Charleston Mules



Little Rock Rockabillies


AL WEST - Season #23 Preview

Anaheim Aardarks

(1) Season Outlook - will rely on a mix of proven vets (Melian, Wieland, Stark) to mix with some blue-chip rookies (Fox & Gonzalez) to carry the offense. Will likely have to outscore teams as the pitching staff (especially starting) still isn't very strong with just one true good starter (Chavez). Bullpen should be decent, but not dominant anchored by Juan Duran setting up and vet Bryan Christensen closing with his 364 career saves.

(2) Players Lost -
LF Lewis Glover (FA) - type A
RF Petey Douglas (FA)
SP David White - released/declined arb
RP Royce Washington - released/declined arb

(3) Players acquired
2B Charles Kim (Rule 5) - provide backup in the infield and some speed off the bench.

(4) Top prospects
RF Izzy Fox, 22, - 13th overall pick in S19 making his ML debut. 1.055 career OPS in minors, PY AAA MVP and SS RF.
C Gio Gonzalez, 23, - former IFA making his ML debut, Silver Slugger C all 3 years in minors.
SP Trevor King, AAA, 22 - will likely be up soon. 42-20 in 92 career starts in minors.
RP Howie Boyle, AAA, 21 - struggled in spring training, but had 1.46 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 16 saves in AA in PY. Will close at AAA to start year.
DH Hiram Calderon, AA, 22 - former DITR, .314 career hitter.
SP Benji Martin, AA, 20, IFA in PY - 4-1, 2.91 in low A after signing
RF Footsie Drabek, High A - #6 overall pick in S22. 1.029 OPS, 19HR, 72 rbi in low A (80 gms) after being drafted.

 (5) Key Moves - can't say there really is one. Went hard after some starting pitching as well as at 3B and LF and just couldn't justify paying what some of those guys ended up getting and got out. So the key move was probably not wrecking my salary cap in the future years to have flexibility.

Las Vegas Gamblers


Salem Slayers


Salt Lake Movers Shakers



NL EAST - Season #23 Preview

Rochester Rodents Of Unusual Size

Season 22 has brought about some changes in Rochester. We faced a crossroad as arbitration loomed during budgeting. Following 3-4 seasons now with essentially the same team & only 1 WS loss to show for it changes were in order.

Out goes perhaps our two top players, if not at least top commodities in Derrick Henderson & Emmet Collins, along with some relievers with great core pitching ratings but questionable dur/stam combo to make those effective in Holder & Blank.

Our goal was to improve defensively, get better pitching & increase our bench flexibility. In comes overall #1 draft pick Pablo Durazo, Bengie Plata & young SP Brian Jacobs (nice upside still) along with defensive SS Alving Sanchez. 1b was addressed with trading really nice young prospect Howie Boyle for (5) 70+ offensive ratings bat Javier Hernandez. Then the capper was a boatload for Fred Tobin to give me 5 legitimate SPs.

We aren’t completely dry in the minors, but we have pretty much cast our lot with this group for the foreseeable future.

Pittsburgh Rondos


Richmond Spiders


Washington D.C. Whalers


NL NORTH - Season #23 Preview

Cleveland Rockers


Montreal Bloody Sox


Toronto Express


Trenton Waves


NL SOUTH - Season #23 Preview

Atlanta Alpa Chinos

The mainstays of the middle of the line-up return in Charlie Hull, former MVP Scot Simontachi, Ivan Batista, and Thom Christenson, who is looking to bounce back from a horrendous second half after making the All-Star team last season. More is expected from second year players 2B Patrick Boyle and CF Buck Hutchinson, as they are expected to gain from last year's pennant chase.

Four of last year's starters won 12 games or more last season, and they all return, led by ace Rex Andrews and vet Harry Mathews. We expect closer Andrew Ratliff to bounce back from a sub-par season (by his standards!) and return to his lights-out status. Super-set-up men Ripken and McEnroe return to try protect the late inning leads.

Newcomers Javier Lopez and Al James join the club as free agents to try to shore up the catching and shortstop positions that were a cause for concern the past few seasons.

The organization is expecting their shortstop of the future to emerge from the minors in either Banjo Wiltse or Lawrence Hernandez, but both are a couple seasons away. Pitching prospect Jack Browning may get a call-up this season if a need arises.

Jackson Jayhawks

After a very disappointing 60-102 ML record last season the management felt that some progress had been made and decided to retain Bingo Harris as the bench coach.

The return of Rob Steenstra (2B) after spending the whole of season 22 on the IR list gives the line-up a boost in terms of potential clutch hitting situations. The roster lacks power and it will be hoped that Newman and Quevedo can both up their 35-HR achievements. There were no major releases to FA but the owner is looking to gradually bring down the $100m+ player-payroll. To avoid so many nagging injuries medical cover has been increased, and will be so again over each of the next few seasons. Likewise, training is seen as a good investment and will benefit from extra funds.

The pitching has been strengthened with three new starters claimed from free agency: Gordon Wilkinson will get the opening day start; Ricky Simms and Juan Lee will follow and all will be expected to post better than .500 w/l records.

The AAA-club got to the playoffs last time and will look to two outstanding guys to repeat this success. Brandon Howard (CF) is a run producing machine and Amp Stone a starting pitcher who hates any opponent from getting on base. Of course, if the ML falls apart then their call up is almost certain.

The owner would be pleased to see the ML record at least get to an even won-loss level whilst at least three of the junior levels to reach their respective play-offs.

Mexico City Hombres Azul

Not a lot has changed for the Hombres Azul, in fact 22 of the 25 man roster from last year return. The big departure is long-serving C Alex Tavarez who is replaced by rookie Ignacio Rondon. The other players lost to free agency were both relievers, one replaced by rookie RP Jim Baxter, and the other replaced by a 6th bench player in Sherman Kent as Mexico shifts to a 6-man bullpen for the first time.  This is probably the last hurrah for this incarnation of the franchise,the core aren’t getting any younger and are starting to lose the footspeed that is key to their aggressive playing style. The minors only really have a couple of mid-level prospects in 2B Horacio Mujica and CF/2B Jake Fox. 

New Orleans 'Aints

Things got off to a rocky start in New Orleans when the new Manager and GM celebrated Mardi Gras instead of preparing for the Rule 5 draft and it ended up biting them in the ass when they lost multiple prospects. Things do not look good in New Orleans, but with Silva leading the charge, they may be able to provide a few fireworks this year as they build towards the future.

NL WEST - Season #23 Preview

Los Angelas Maze N' Blue

Lots of movement this offseason for The Maize 'N Blue

Key Additions - Jamie Bennigson, Emmett Collins, Takashi Wanatabe, Carlos Sosa

Key Losses - Jimmy Veres, Lou Hendrickson, Wiki Rivas and 14m in payroll

Numerous Top Prospects - Jose Velez, Julio Osoria, Hee Sop Higashioka, Andres Macias, Louie Ibanez, Benji Aguilera, James Lamb, Rigo Almonte, and young phenom Tomas Cairo is only 22 yrs old.

With the #12 pick in the draft and over 40m in prospect payroll we should be adding a few more young guns to the stables this season.

The ML team should be right in the hunt for the playoffs with promotions coming to bolster the roster.

The present and future is extremely bright in LA.


Honolulu Rainbow Warriors


St. Louis Wish I Had Pujols


Vancouver Big Blue Bulldogs