Thursday, April 24, 2014

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 -