Tuesday, February 4, 2014

NL WEST - Season #28 Preview

Honolulu Rainbow Warriors -

Another year, another finish behind the Fres-uggernaut. Honolulu management might be said to have an obsession with beating the league's premier team. Knowing it won't be easy, and with ace Harry Palacios in decline, the Rainbow Warriors elected to let him walk in free agency -- where he received a shocking five year deal -- and get their ace a different way.

Fan favorite Wiki Rivas, a consistent .900 OPS left fielder, was swapped for Raul Batista, a 30-year-old ace who should head the Honolulu staff for years.
Beyond that, management is trusting in the formula -- left handed pitching, league-best speed, and switch-hitting prowess to take advantage of Aloha Stadium and finally bring that elusive title to the shores of Waikiki.

Seattle Somethings -

 Optimism is in the air for Season 2 of Seattle Somethings. Reflecting upon Season 1, mistakes were made early on, but given the roster shake-ups and overall lack of pitching talent, finishing with only 59 wins (compared to 65 in season 26 under previous management) does not seem to be an unjust result. The preseason goal was 70 wins, but management misunderstood the game engine regarding pitch counts and call bullpen settings, and the starting pitchers were thrown to the wolves early on. At about 60 games in the Somethings win % was about .250, which was abysmal, but over the last 100 we recovered and finished at .364 (7th from the bottom!), which was admirable improvement.

The club is looking to build on their 2nd-half progress. The Somethings pitching staff unexpectedly managed to finish near the middle of the pack in quality starts. However, the club may face a setback, as management followed through with the pre-season plan to allow starters Sal Stratton (type A) and Jaret Serafini (type B) to hit free agency. They are being replaced by Emil Tatis (S27 AAA ace) and journeyman Albert Mondesi (S27 ML long relief). Given the home ballpark, talent at pitching coach, and season 27 production, the replacements are being counted on to at least be mediocre placeholders.

The team’s season 28 outlook is definitely still rebuilding, but we do intend on competing for victories wherever possible. Hitting depth and bullpen depth are (slightly) improved. A ML-calibre SS/3B and two ML-calibre relievers were added via rule 5. However, the majority of organizational optimism resides in the minors. Season 25 1st-round SS Ringo Bradley is on schedule for a mid-season call-up into a full-time role that can utilize his versatility, fielding ability, contact, and doubles-power. Season 26 1st-round LF/1B Marc Oswalt managed an impressive 10-point-overall year-over-year improvement and starts in AA. The hope is to overlap him into AAA at some point in mid-season. Oswalt hit 27 homers and stole 20 bases as a 19-year old. Pre-season acquisition C Rodrigo Campos has a great makeup, a plus arm, and outstanding plate discipline but needs to improve his ability to manage a pitching staff. Campos moves to AAA despite his ripe age of 21. Season 27 1st-round RF Lenny Parkers moves up to AA despite only being 20 years old. In 83 minor-league games, Parkers had an OPS of .900 and 46 stolen bases. Management is also excited about mid-season IFA 3B/SS Mateo Nunez, who batted .300/.385/.540 with 19 HR in 83 minor league appearances, and 1st-round 2B (projecting to 1B) Jhoulys Velazquez, who managed a ridiculous .375/.465/.675 (OPS 1.140!) in half-a-season of low minors experience. Additionally, the franchise is scheduled to draft 5 times in the first 68 picks, so the minor league system shall continue to grow. The present may be dim, but the future is definitely looking bright.

For now, the roster’s composition does not match the ballpark or the preferred in-game strategy, but the club wisely has not invested in many long-term contracts to allow for maximum flexibility. The contracts of CF Ted van Hekken and 2B Vin Ellsbury are scheduled to expire, and management is undecided whether or not to trade, extend, or let those contracts expire in exchange for draft picks. The catching platoon of Osuna and Darwin are both on 1-year deals with the intention to let those expire to make room for Campos and/or another 1-year rental. The team may not have made any big personnel splashes in the off-season, but the club has put itself into a position to time future moves for when its top prospects reach the majors , especially if an opportunity to acquire quality starting pitching becomes presented. Its best off-season moves were the ones they didn’t make: trading prospects for players, signing type-A free agents, acquiring long-term veterans, etc. Instead, the club continues to focus on enhancing its minor league depth and coaching staffs. Goal-70-75 wins. Realistic prediction- 65-97. Minor league goal- finish .500+ at every level.

Fresno Maize 'N Blue -

Vancouver Big Blue Dogs -