Fresno Maize 'N Blue -
Season 27 Outlook - It's "World Series or Bust" for Fresno who will once
again be led by Superstar Tomas Cairo. Cairo unprecedentedly led every offensive
category in the NL last season while taking home his 4th straight MVP award.
Young offensive stars Julio Osoria, Benny Uribe, Louie Ibanez and the newly
acquired Cesar Molina will provide more than enough offensive support. Future
HOF Stephen Rivera returns desperate for his first World Series ring coming off
another monster season that saw him finish 2nd in the MVP voting.
reigning Cy Young winner Octavio Valenzuela leads a stellar pitching staff that
also features last season's Rookie of the Year - Hee Sop Higashioka and young
stud James Lamb coming off a season that saw him go 16-2 with a miniscule 2.18
ERA. Former ROY Kurt Giambi makes a solid #4. The #5 spot is currently under
construction with phenoms in the minors coming quick.
Key Additions :
Blockbuster offseason trade which saw Raul Batista leave Fresno by bringing in
young star Cesar Molina who will fill a much needed role in the lead-off spot
creating runs with his bat and speed at a high OBP rate.
Our bullpen has been
an Achilles' heel for this franchise for many seasons, but hopefully bringing in
dominating closer Frank Maurer will pay immediate dividends.
We also jumped
in heavily in the FA market signing All-star Shortstop Pedro Espinosa away from
the reigning Champs Columbus to a massive 100m contract.
Added another nice
bat in Javier Hernandez via trade so we feel collectively the additions this
year far outweigh the losses.
Key Losses - Adding Molina at the expense
of stud SP Raul Batista wasn't any easy decision at all, Nor was losing young
prospect pitchers Tito Jodie and Domingo Iglesias in the Maurer/Hernandez trade.
Last year's big FA signing Walt Harnisch's time in Fresno was brief.. Coming
off a sub-par season it was an easy decision to cut our losses now even if the
return was minimal.
Top Prospects - Juan Tabata (OF) is ready for the ML
right now, but having a loaded roster already should afford us the luxury of
giving him a full season in AAA with his eagerly anticipated ML debut coming in
early Season 28.
Chun Lim Tateyama (OF) and Buddy Williamson (1B) will see
the big leagues one day, but more than likely it will be with another
One of the best pitching prospects in this world is Yuniesky
Delgado and while he could win the ROY this year we will be patient and let him
develop another year or two in the minors. We also have jumped into the IFA
market already this year bringing in another future SP in Rio Maduro who appears
to be on the fast track to the majors.. Other top prospects with ML futures
would include pitchers Fernando Alomar, Damaso Mangual, Julio Ambroles and Ozzie
In Summary - Fear The Maize 'N Blue !!!!!!
After yet another demoralizing playoff loss, the Rainbow Warriors set out to
revamp their squad via free agency, hoping to finally get past the dual humps of
Fresno and Mexico City. Alas, the owners of this world open their wallets with
the ease of a cheap Tijuana floozy, and Honolulu struck out in its efforts to
bring in marquee players to replace departed star Rickey Atchley.
Undaunted, Warrior management pulled off a trade for a young franchise
cornerstone, 3B Derek Connor, while eating salary on a pair of disgruntled vets.
The fan base is skeptical, but in the final year of the great Harry Palacios'
time in Honolulu, the Rainbow Warriors are hoping for one final push to bring a
title to the shores of Waikiki.
Seattle Somethings -
Season 27 marks the beginning of brand-new-everything for the
perenially-last-place AL West franchise. New ownership has initiated one of the
the most drastic relocations that can possiblly be done from a strategic
standpoint, moving from maximum-hitter-friendly Coors in Colorado to the
cavernous, pitcher-friendly, Safeco in Seattle
Upon taking over a
franchise that has never won a single division title, ever, in the most
competitive Mike Squires division, it is obvious that a dramatic strategic
overhaul is necessary.
This franchise's predecessors did not seem to
have any understanding of organizational consistency or vision of how they
wanted to operate their franchise from top to bottom. They did not know whether
they wanted to be a team that had great hitters or good pitching, focusing on
young players or assembling a roster or overpaid veterans, emphasizing scouting
but not investing budget on actually signing any prospects. The previous
management also had glaring failures in the draft, as history shows that three
out of four consecutive drafts five-eight seasons ago (and 4 of the first 5
picks in one of the drafts) targeted players that never signed. Those players
would have been in their primes now, and the absence of high-end prime-age
talent is Seattle's biggest problem heading in to seasons 27-29.
minor league system that new ownership has inherited is a mess. Overall, the
system does have a fair amount of decent prospects, but none of them are
developing correctly. The previous owner did not pay any attention to assigning
draft picks to the correct levels after being drafted, promoting youngsters to
higher levels, assigning players to their correct roles,
Additionally, the predecessors had by far the worst coaching staff
from top to bottom, which stunted the development of every single player in the
entire farm system. This was a result of misunderstanding how to assign the
budget totals correctly. In seasons 25 and 26 Seattle had the lowest amount
alotted to coaching, and ended up getting stuck with the worst fielding coach,
bad minor league HCs and PCs, etc.
As a result, the Seattle Somethings
are definitely a rebuilding franchise. HOWEVER, the ML level does have a fair
amount of talent that is capable of mediocrity during the rebuild. The MLB
roster that has been inherited is capable of winning 75-80 games, as long as the
pitching staff settings (pitch counts and call bullpen) are configured properly.
The Somethings have one of the best hitting-catchers in the majors in
Osuna, who also thankfully happens to be above average in pitch-calling. Van
Hekken is a quality, plus-fielding 28-year old shortstop/ leadoff hitter who is
signed thru season 28. 26-year-old Josh Wingo is impressive offensively and on
the bases but lacks defensive acumen and may get moved to 1B in the future, as
he is signed thru season 30+. Vin Ellsbury is a gold-glove-level 27-year old 3B
who unluckily has a weak arm but luckily has multi-positional versatility.
Because of this, Ellsbury is actually slated to play first base instead of the
horrific-fielding DeRojas. With Ellsbury's outstanding glove, plus range, and
good mobility, Seattle expects to have a productive infield defense to support
its pitching staff.
The rotation has potential to be servicable, perhaps
even quite good within the confines of Safeco. Womack, Clark, and Itou have
exceptional stamina, and Almonte and Stratton (converted from bullpen) have the
ability and the makeup to contribute quality totals in the range of 160-180
innings pitched. The bullpen is a work-in-progress and shapes up to be one of
the youngest units in all of the ML. Seattle is searching hard to acquire power
arms with effective stuff that can contribute high K/9 rates. 23-year-old rookie
Cookie Nakamura is penciled in as the closer despite never having pitched above
AA, thanks to the previous owner's mismanagement. Two relievers were added via
rule 5, two were added via 1-year-deals in free agency, and two others were
acquired in a trade with Baltimore.
On the downside, there is a large
number of older players that need to be moved. 31-year-old DH/1B Emmett Collins
was moved to Baltimore for pitching prospects. Legendary 36-year-old 2B Charlie
Hull and 33-year-old CF Bruce Blasingame still have something to offer on the
field for the club, especially with the unfortunate long-term spring training
neck injury to CF Leon, who was projected to start. On the other hand,
33-year-old SP Jaret Sarafini has absolutely nothing left in the tank and his
$5.8M salary is utterly unmovable. Seattle will regretfully have to eat the
final year of his contract in AAA; luckily season 27 is the final season for him
in the Seattle organization.
These multitude of poor signings
demonstrate why free agency is the worst way to build/supplement a franchise.
Seattle plans to shift its philosophy towards never signing a single
high-profile free agent, ever, as it is the worst money that can possibly be
spent. Seattle plans to build thru the draft, through IFA, and through rule 5.
Regretfully, it will probably take 4-6 seasons for the club to start blossoming
under the newly-implemented changes, and growing pains are expected. Once they
take effect, however, Seattle has the ambition and competitive fire to mount a
serious long-term challenge to perennial division/NL powerhouse Maize'N'Blue, as
well as any others that may stand in its path to World Series titles.
Vancouver Big Blue