Thursday, April 24, 2014

AL EAST - Season #29 Preview

Baltimore Renegades -
The AL East gets tougher and tougher every year.  Last season, the Baltimore Renegades finished second in the AL East with 92 wins and barely clinched the last AL Wild Card spot.  The Renegades have made the playoffs TEN straight seasons, but despite that REGULAR SEASON success, they still have not won a World Series Championship. This off-season, Baltimore made an effort to bolster their starting rotation and upgrade an aging line-up that was unproductive and "flat" in the playoffs. 

The Renegades have a decent core of productive ballplayers, but their window of opportunity is quickly closing.  Owner/GM Terry Swayne has done an excellent job of front-loading many of the team's long-term contracts.  Financially, Baltimore is in great shape for many seasons to come, but with no minor league talent in the pipeline, this team has three seasons maximum to win a World Series.

The revamped Renegades line-up is still the strength of the team. The line-up projects as followed...
(1) Rickey Atchley LF
(2) Wiki Rivas        RF
(3) Peter Carlson    3B
(4) Artie Bukvich   DH
(5) Emmitt Collins  1B
(6) Al Matos            C 
(7) Mark Lee          CF 
(8) Vin Ellsbury     2B
(9) Sean Waters      SS
The five-man bench is flexible with C-Bernie Rosado, 1B-Craig Cook, 1B/LF-Cory Thomas, 2B/CF-Terry Ramirez, and UT-Jose Guzman.  

Baltimore's strong rotation is anchored by 4 potential Hall Of Famers.  RHP- Octavio Valezuela and LHP-Ben Bolton return to anchor the Baltimore rotaion along with newly acquired LHP's- Niko Kirby and Willie Estrada to give the Renegades the best starting rotation they have ever had.  Rounding out the last spot of the rotation is RHP-Rashun Gonzalez.  Unfortunately, LHP- Johan Heredia will be lost for the entire season after having Tommy John Surgery today.  The 24 year old showed great promise last season and this will be a major blow. 

Darrin Roth lost his closer role last season and will set-up fellow lefty Hal Alexander this season.  The other set up men are righties Frank Maurer, Charles Okajima, and Herb Leary.  Roth and rookie Ozzie Hasegawa are the lefties in the pen this season. 

Top Rookie- None
Key Players Lost- RHP-Hector Carroll (FA), RHP-Milt Gagne (FA), RHP-JT LeCure (trade), LHP-Tim Leiter (trade), LHP- DJ Webster (trade), 1B-Scott Simontacchi (FA), AND 3B/OF-Derrek Henderson (trade).
Key Players Acquired- RHP-Herb Leary (FA), LHP-Willie Estrada (FA), LHP-Ozzie Hasegawa (trade), LHP- Niko Kirby (trade), 2B- Vin Ellsbury (FA),  SS-Sean Waters (FA), 2B/LF-Ricky Atchley (trade), and DH-Artie Bukvich.
Key Off-Season Transaction- Acquiring Niko Kirby and Ricky Atchley adds the veteran leadership that has been sorely lacking these last few seasons.  Ricky Atchlety's $20M per year price tag may look horrible in a season or two, but the goal in Baltimore is to win now.

Hartford #Team Cutters  -

The outlook for the Hartford #TeamCutters is somewhere between bad and poor. After finishing out the season 51-11 with a GM coaching change during the middle of last season, the team is hoping to best that record because it can’t get much worse.  Or could it? 

With key acquisitions numbering zero, the team has not put forward much effort at the major league level. There are still some starting pitching signings that need to happen before the end of spring training.  Luckily, there was not much to lose from last year and the only contributor lost was Otis Reese, who will get to apply his craft in Cincinnati while Hartford added a couple of prospects for their trouble.

The minor leagues are brimming with talent and that talent should be making the move to the majors next season. SS Brad Craig and SP Paul Brow lead a star-studded AAA team that is looking to repeat their regular season division win from a season ago. So, at the end of the day, the short term future is not looking that bright, but starting next year, the team should be able to put together a very competitive team with eyes towards a division championship, if not more, at the major league level.

Charlotte Knights -

Huntington Hitmen -

AL NORTH - Season #29 Preview

Witchita Winners

I think My lineup this year if we can stay healthy will be a above average scoring bunch , Got alot of solid hitters up and down the lineup with a good mix of speed and power, the right guys have the durability to play the majority of the year so should see some excellent seasons from af ew guys....My Starting staff is gonna be my downfall, not alot of depth, only 2-3 Deep with ... Have my controversial 21 year old Future major league SP on the back burner Fernando alomar who ideally i can bring up next year after a lil jump in ratings...Ivan Nunez future stud closer in High A, david hayes in AAA , along with rudy hernandez future well rounded SS and sammy Melian future starting ML 3b are all exciting up and comers....I predict a 70-75 win season for my future year in this world, If my staff can somehow piece it together cause i am confident in my bullpen arms, Stud arm im turning into a closer Juan duran, ideally a 2 inning closer as well...i think i can squeek 80 wins in...well see! Good luck to you this year as well!

Detroit Wolverines -

Milwaukee Blue Ribbons -

Rochester Rhinos -

AL SOUTH - Season #29 Preview

Little Rock Rockabillies -

The Rockabillies are looking to make a significant improvement in their record this season having added some veterans and bringing up some young pitching prospects. The team added slugger Wilson Wise through free agency and traded young pitching for B.C. Brito. Most of the key players are returning including a healthy Gene Cassidy, Walter Rogers, and ROY Mickey Dydalewicz. Javier Lee was the long top prospect in the system who is coming off a bit of a disapointing rookie campaign but big things are expected this year. Also added is top pitching prospect Aneury Bonifacio who will slide right into the rotation and hopefully become the ace of the young staff.

Houston Wranglers -

Jacksonville Jaguars -

Montgomery Cornbread On The Brain -

AL WEST - Season #29 Preview

Anaheim Aardvarks -

Las Vegas Gamblers -

Salem Slayers -

Salt Lake City Movers & Shakers -

NL EAST - Season #29 Preview

Durham Natty Knights -

Richmond Spiders -

San Juan Sea Turtles -

Washington D.C. Whalers -

NL NORTH - Season #29 Preview

Montreal Bloody Sox -

The Montreal Bloody Sox had a great bounce back campaign last year just missing the playoffs. The organization is making a statement to its fans this year by making one of the largest trades in franchise history trading two top prospects (SP - Jin Ho Uehara and SS - harry Nieves) for all star RF - Cesar Molina and former MVP 1B - Willis Livingstone. They needed to fill the gap, losing some power to FA this off season but feels they came out younger and stronger. The team also added bullpen help by promoting set up man Luis Garces and signing future hall of famer Milt Gagne to come in in long relief. After watching the team through the preseason, they look to be in good contention for the division. With solid players in their farm system to keep reloading and moving to solidify a spot in the playoffs.

Cincinnati Royals -

Cleveland Rockers-

Trenton Waves -

NL SOUTH - Season #29 Preview

Jackson Jayhawks -
It's good to be back for an eighth season of Jayhawk baseball and I know the fans of this great club are looking forward to seeing how the off-season acquisitions perform in their new surroundings.

Certainly been a busy time since S28 concluded with the fourth successive year of low-50 wins. Jesus Duran returns for a second term as ML bench coach and he's joined by Magglio Bonilla who takes responsibility for hitting. The top office have been trawling the FA market and making several offers on the waiver wire.

The line up certainly will need a bit of getting used to for the die-hard 'hawk followers. Let's see who has arrived:

Jose Flores (RF) a big hitting free agent (last at Kansas)
Rich Moreno (2B) another big hitter / FA (last at Columbia)
Bart Harp (1B) with potential / FA (last at Dover)
Roy Paton (RF) with good OBP / WW from New Orleans
Sal Clarke (2B) taken as RuleV with huge potential for OBP
...along with Davey Jimenez (SS), Ralph Mathewson (C) and Trevor Gray (CF)

On the mound there are a couple of new guys to watch out for: starter Woody Finley claimed from the ww (Vancouver) and closing Coco Reagan, a very experienced player from the FA market.

It has been said before and it will be said again. This is the start of the upward trend in terms of results. Time to leave the division basement and taste life from the top end. A new era has arrived and the owner wants success....please.

Mexico City Hombres Azul -

The pressure is on GM Sneekes after the Hombres Azul missed the playoffs for a second season running, finishing 82-80, their worst year since S16.

There is opportunity though in that a lot of money came off the books including the $20m paid to OF Vincenzo Strickland; the club also said goodbye to RP Coco Reagan, RF Ronnie Romero and Hombres legend Alan Graham. That money was put to good use recruiting a frontline starter in Angel Estrella, adding power and patience in the outfield with RF Russell Hunter and LF Dave Uggla, and value 2B Hack Brock.
The price of this largesse was disinvestment in scouting, which may prove foolish as Mexico City have three 1st round picks and two supplementary picks.


Kansas City Googly Mooglies -

Monterrey Border Jumpers-

NL WEST - Season #29 Preview

Fresno Maize 'N Blue -

Outlook - Looking to win 3rd straight WS trophy and should be considered the favorites if the team stays healthy.

Top Additions - Bret Clayton, Teddy Locke, Louie Ibanez, Jin Ho Uehara, and gold glove SS-Bartolo Padilla late last season.

Top Losses - Craig Jackson, Kurt Giambi, John McConnell, Cesar Molina, Marvin Brow, Fernando Alomar, Chun Lim, Tate Yama, and the 20m in payroll wasted on NNelson.

Top Prospects - Marino Vazquez, Leo Conner, Rio Maduro, Byung-Hyun Gang, and Harry Nieves. Time to add another one or two this year !!!

Tough Luck Club - OF- Juan Tabata (40HR's, 111 RBI's .327 avg with an insane .405 obp in only 114 gms) and SP- Harry Mateo (22-2 with a stellar 2.87 ERA and 1.11 h/w ratio) both had awards (ROY and CY) taken from them by their teammate Yuniesky Delgado's amazing performance last year. A 2014 Porsche Panamera for each compliments of Yu-Del erased any hard feelings that might have existed.

Notes: Tomas Cairo has won 6 straight MVP's (thanks to all who voted for him) in only 7 ML seasons and is only 2 HR's shy of 400 in his brief career.
Long time pitching coach Jerome Elarton was unexpectedly given his walking papers. We have it on good authority that the guy is a genius when it comes to pitching IQ, but an idiot when it comes to "ho-n-blow" management.
We hope he gets things turned around in Hartford.

*** Please join us on Memorial Day 5/26 as we are giving away Free "Maize 'N Blue Evil Empire" T-shirts to everyone in attendance as we play host to the talented Rainbow Warriors of Honolulu in a key NL West Division match-up.

Honolulu Rainbow Warriors -

Frontline starting pitching. That’s the new plan for finally getting the Honolulu Rainbow Warriors over the playoff hump. So Warrior management splurged on 33-year-old lefty Kevin Lawrence, who may struggle to give the Warriors more than 150 innings a year, but who should be good for two excellent starts behind ace Raul Bautista twice a playoff series.

The high-speed Warrior offense, which led the league in steals last year, returns with first baseman/left fielder Pat Shannon leading the way and primed for a bounceback season. Lefty-killer Elmer Reagan arrives on a frontloaded deal, allowing the team to move franchise player Derek Tanner to first base. And Mike Squires legend Stephen Rivera was will provide thump on a part-time basis, helping add power to a lineup that lost stalwart Turk O’Leary to free agency.
The Rainbow Warriors are expecting to hit 100 wins yet again. But their ambitions are higher – to surpass fresno, and earn that elusive ring.

Seattle Somethings -

Optimism lines the air in Seattle as year 3 of the pjfoster era begins. Last season saw the squad improve from 59 wins to 69, and another 10-win improvement to the cusp of .500 would be considered a success. Management continues to be patient while developing its wealth of farm-system talent and has wisely avoided poor long-term player investments.

Since the beginning of last season, the Somethings have acquired SP Walt Osborne for disappointing infielder Ted Van Hekken, and in the offseason snagged former Bloody Sox lynchpin CF Glen Handworth on a cheeky two-year contract late in free agency. Handworth will provide a nice combination of defense and speed that fits in with Seattle's evolving philosophy.

The Somethings saw 2B Vin Ellsbury depart to Baltimore in free agency and also lost veteran SS Rodgers and C/RF Darwin but the club has promoted former top 15 pick Ringo Bradley and platoon RF Rodrigo Ramirez from AAA and free-agent defensive C Robbins to compensate. Some would argue those swaps are actually an improvement both offensively and defensively.

With CF Handworth, 2B (minor-league SS) Bradley, and SS Tim O'Malley, Seattle expects to have one of the best, if not the very best, up-the-middle defensive combinations in the whole of Mike Squires, especially considering that they play their home games in an extremely-favorable pitching environment.

Seattle finds itself with a number of top prospects on the cusp of MLB service time. SS Mateo Nunez projects to platoon with O'Malley and can legitimately play all 7 fielding positions as needed. RF Lenny Parkers projects as the fastest player in the ML with ++ contact and he utterly rakes LHP. Despite his ripe age of 21, he is ready for ML duty, but the Somethings have an adequate ML platoon allowing for full development and appropriate service time considerations. 21-year-old LF Marc Oswalt projects to 1B in the majors, and is also knocking at the door in AAA. He projects as a 25-25 hitter with many-a-100 RBI season in his major league future. S28 top 10 pick CF Bill Presley and S28 IFA CF Miguel Navarre, both 19, make their way to HiA, where each is expected to dominate offensively and defensively and subsequently overlap into AA by mid-season. Presley has incredible range and on-base ability, while Navarre is more of a contact/speed combo and projects to 2B in the majors. If all goes well, C Rodrigo Campos, acquired for former Something 1B Emmitt Collins, may finally make his Somethings debut at some point mid-season. AA LF J. Velazquez pounded ML-pitching in spring training and is expected to play in the ML someday. For pitchers, sandwich duo LHP A. Sparks and RHP D. Hayes (both AA) appear destined for the majors. S28 comp 1st-rounder LHP T. Carreon (highA) looks to have a ML future as well. Seattle also boasts a glut of young, cheap bullpen talent in the minors.

If all goes well, Seattle overtakes the former Vancouver franchise and challenges .500 in S29, and the minor league teams go all bananas and win their respective regular season and playoff titles.

Omaha Thunderbirds -