Thursday, February 12, 2015

NL WEST - Season #32 Preview

Colorado Evil Empire -
PAST - Season 31 saw us win our 3rd Squires World Series Trophy., Tomas Cairo won his 9th Straight MVP (in only 10 ML seasons) and Yuniesky Delgado took home his 3rd CY award in 4 seasons while Future HOF Niko Kirby moved to #6 in career wins and #3 in career strikeouts after yet another great season.

PRESENT - The 3-season plan to re-sign Tomas Cairo worked perfectly as "The Franchise" took our MAX offer the very first cycle it was eligible to be accepted. Our final year in Colorado will hopefully result in another World Series appearance and maybe with some luck we win #4.
Those are the expectations as we eagerly anticipate our move back to Fresno in Season 33.

ROSTER ADDITIONS - In Season 31, we brought in four players who contributed in a big way during our playoff run in SP- Lou Hendrickson, C- Rodrigo Campos, Gold Glove SS - Vic Ayala, and World Series MVP 3B/RF - Sam Petrick.
This offseason was also very busy as we added younger and cheaper talent in 2B- Mark Sears and 1B- Vicente Ciriaco, but they came at a price and really didn't lessen our ML logjam.
Signed future HOF'ers Rickey Atchley and Octavio Valenzuela mostly to try and get them their first WS ring before they retire and am very happy to have both back on the squad.

ROSTER SUBTRACTIONS - Budgets and FA contracts dictated that we needed to move some payroll and with that brought the very tough decision to move All-stars Julio Osoria, Hee Sop Higashioka and Lou Hendrickson via trades. We wish all three nothing but the best in their next endeavors.

FUTURE - Trades, drafts and IFA brought in some quality youngsters like future closer Jimmy Hoffman, Speedsters and potential on base producers in Luis Lima and Jesus Delgado as well as future #3-#4 type SP's in Ricardo Sanchez and Hector Jacquez.
Luis Gutierrez, Wilin Mercado, and John Ono should provide some much need RP help in the near future.
The jewels of our Farm System are 3B- Rubby Velez who will replace Osoria in Season 33 and future Ace SP - Alex Sojo will make his eagerly anticipated ML debut sometime after the 25-gm mark this year.
One to keep an eye on would be SP - Yordano Uribe who bounced back nicely last year after missing over a year with an injury. The knuckleballer may never get back to those lofty projections/ratings, but that means little to this owner who thinks Yordano is going to be special and a future ace in a couple of years.

IN SUMMARY - Our only priority this year was getting Cairo re-signed and thankfully it was achieved. Was hoping to bring in another stud SP, but Ben Bolton and Harry Newman both rejected near MAX offers to pitch for The Champs while staying in The AL which helps ease the disappointment of not obtaining one of the two.

FINAL THOUGHT - Just going to say that I am shocked to have received ZERO interest in trading for one of the best hitters currently in Squires. That guy is Louie Ibanez who has been on the trade block and garnered no inquiries.
At only 5.8m this year he is worth every penny and is even willing to sign an extension at 4.6m which will also be a very good value the next couple of years. A hamstring injury knocked some of his non-offensive ratings down a little (did nothing to his hitting ratings) which I'm guessing is why there hasn't been any interest, but it's guys like Louie that win you Championships and it's baffling that not one owner has inquired about him.
5-time and reigning Gold Glove SS Bartolo Padilla has also been on the trade block all offseason and also received no interest from the world which is also a mystery. Defense especially at SS is one of the most important keys to HBD success, but nobody wants him either ?? One decent prospect or cheap stud bullpen guy could have had both, but I guess nobody needs these proven winners. Oh well..

Good luck to all teams in Season 32 !!!

Seattle Somethings -
Before forecasting Season 32 for Seattle Somethings, let us take time out to reflect upon S31 and recap the tremendous overall progress the historically-tortured Seattle franchise has made.

For about the first 50 games or so, the squad was floundering in mediocrity, posting a sub-.500 record. Out of desperation (as well as merit, in fairness), the club decided to promote 20-year old phenom catcher Alex Mota (S29 R1P9) to the bigs after only 800 career minor league at bats. The club experienced an instant turnaround, improving substantially on defense while breaking about even offensively. As planned, the club also called up rangy CF Bill Presley who managed to contribute a .796 OPS as a rookie. Marc Oswalt and Marc Sears each contributed 20-20ish seasons, and former R5 pick Kevin Martin continued to produce and improve. The starting rotation was the highlight and the bullpen had some standout play. The preseason trade with Colorado appeared to have favored Seattle in the short-term. On a disappointing note, 2B/SS/3B Mateo Nunez and 1B Vicente Ciriaco experienced statistical regression.

When the teams took their leave for the All-Star break, rookie manager Al Vargas gathered his the all-star-less club together and organized an on-site lock-in team retreat to foster improved team chemistry and morale. The results were immediately noticable. Before the break, the club was 5+ games back of the 6th seed with multiple teams to pass. Immediately following the ASG, the club began winning at a feverish pace. Overshadowed by Colorado's club-record (league-record?) winning streak, Seattle simultaneously posted a 10+ game winning streak itself and began to make a spirited charge to validate and defend its S30 playoff berth. However, upstarts Kansas City (nicepiecoro) and Minnesota (cincymike) were not ready to go quietly into the night. Over the last 50-60 games, the three clubs chased one another neck-and-neck. At separate invervals all three clubs led the way, and throughout the entire race neither club was more than 5 games back of the 6th seed. Minnesota went all in with trades to push for the spot, while Kansas City and Seattle stood pat and searched for intrinsic improvement. Also, Kansas City (...controversially...) elected not to immediately assign mega-IFA 1B Louie Mori right to the bigs, instead electing to preserve service time. In the homestretch, Minnesota faltered and the race came down to KC and Sea, and thanks to an extremely fortunate scheduling fate, Seattle profited from facing Honolulu and Colorado squads that had long-ago clinched their playoff berths and were resting key players. Rather begrudgingly, Seattle appeared in their 2nd-straight playoffs.

In the first round, the Somethings (92-70) drew 2-time-defending NL South champions Monterrey Border Jumpers (101-61), led by phenom IFAs Alex James and Melky Quixote, amongst other strong supporting cast. Rather interestingly, Seattle was thrilled to be paired with Monterrey in the lead-up to the series, as Seattle has mysteriously posted a .650ish win % lifetime versus a superior roster on paper. Despite being underdogs, the S.S. rode their late-season wave of confidence to a stunning 3-0 sweep of the favored Border Jumpers, announcing to the league that they were for real and that their playoff qualification was not simply a matter of luck and formality.

In the DCS, Seattle was paired with 2-time defending league champions Cleveland Rockers (106-56). The plucky Somethings managed to steal game 1 against co-ace Julian Scott, but dropped games 2 and 3 against Cleveland's other formidible starters. Facing elimination, and having to go against Scott a second time, as well as former first-overall pick stud SP Billy Campbell in an if-necessary game 5, the Vegas odds were very stacked in Cleveland's favor. Despite that, Seattle managed to steal game 4 with a late come-from-behind victory to force a deciding game 5, and rather incredibly, the Somethings stormed Campbell and advanced to the first LCS in their 31 season history!!!

Awaiting them in the LCS was none other than the Big Bad Wolf himself, scootermcray, and his Colorado Maize 'N Blue, who posted an incredible 117-45 regular season, including a 23- or 24- or 25-game mid-season win-streak. Despite Seattle's attempts to put out every trick in the book, including re-setting its starting rotation to have its groundballers pitch in Coors and its flyballers pitch in Safeco, and a failed attempt to play extreme small ball by setting bunting and baserunning aggressiveness to 5 in the game against Colorado's 0-range 0-fielding SP Hendrickson, the well-rested Maize 'N Blue ran out to a quick 3-1 series lead. However, the plucky Somethings rallied with victories in games 5 and 6 to force an unlikely game 7 against the National League titans and their future Hall-of-fame ace Yuniesky Delgado. Seattle was able to muster its share of offense in game 7, but Seattle fans were heartbroken when the game was broken open by former-Something RF Sam Petrick breaking the game open against former-Colorado relief pitcher Denny Stock, who were coincidentally and cruelly involved in the same pre-season trade for one another.

Despite the loss, Seattle fans and media gave pjfoster13 high praise for performing so admirably against the murderers' row of squads and owners. The first round upset of Monterrey even led to their ownership firing GM runnrun, replacing his Moneyball IFA-centered style with big-budget veteran dubrightway.

Fast-forwarding to S32, Seattle did not rest on its laurels and had an off-season which GMs around the league have rated as extremely productive. With minimal long-term commitments, Seattle was motivated to make a huge splash in free agency or IFA. With no fewer than three potential max- free agents on the market, Seattle was poised to strike. They had to make some tough personnel decisions with their own free agents and arb candidates, electing to allow valuable reliever Wandy Urbina to walk in free agency, but electing to keep playoff scapegoat Denny Stock and defensive-whiz Tim O'Malley for relatively large contracts in 3rd-arb.

This was merely the start of the fun, however. The off-season hot stove was unusually active between S31 and S32, and the Somethings became engaged in fierce trade negotiations with no fewer than a dozen clubs. It became clear to pjfoster13 that the offseason was going to be filled with mass exchanges, and boy was that ever the case. After days of intensive back-and-forth posturing, it was actually Richmond and their GM dabomb167383 who set the first dominos in motion by agreeing to a massive selloff of core players to Hartford. This led to the materialization of a MASSIVE trade for Seattle that had been brewing in Seattle's rumor mill for at least 4 seasons. The prize was the straw that stirred the drink in Richmond, slugging SS Max Cerveza. GM pj openly admitted in interviews that this deal was totally unexpected and literally fell into his lap. GMs around the league complimented the acquisition, considering it only cost young corner bat Marc Oswalt and talented-but-injury-prone 21-year old SP prospect Mark Chen. National media outlets are speculating that GM dabomb163783 may be beginning to walk on eggshells and his reign over Richmond may soon be coming to an end ...

GM pjfoster13 then completed his 2nd massive coup, bringing in 6-time all-star 28-year-old 3B Julio Osoria from Colorado, along with his 3 world series rings, 5 silver-slugger awards, and 2 gold-gloves, as well as 33-year-old SP Lou Hendrickson, in exchange for 26-year-old S31 Gold Glove 2B Marc Sears and 24-year-old slugging 1B Vicente Ciriaco. Colorado was able to get younger and shave some payroll, and Seattle acquired much-needed experience, infield ability, and pitching depth. GM pjfoster13 was STILL not done, sending solid 200+ IP starter Rigo Almonte to Milwaukee for enigmatic / jaded outfielder Julian Aquino. Aquino has declined severely the past several seasons but is still only in his age-27 season, and if the former-40-HR hitter regains his slugging form, the deal will be considered a coup for the championship-thirsty Seattle fans and media alike. Finally, in a minor move, Seattle acquired veteran RH RP Ted Sheehan from St. Louis (formerly Minnesota) for a AAA RP prospect.

Seattle enters S32 loaded with pitchers and hitters in the prime seasons of their careers, and will be looking to maximize their push towards another deep playoff run in S32. Not only that, Seattle's minor league system continues to be one of the deepest in the league, and speculation on Twitter is that pjfoster13 is willing to use some of that roster depth to acquire a key veteran or two to enhance its playoff run. Additionally, intrinsic growth is expected from Seattle's talented core of youngsters including Mota, Presley, Nunez, and Parkers. This may be the season that Seattle overtakes Honolulu for 2nd-best in the NL West, and under extremely generous albeit unlikely circumstances, Seattle could overtake scootermcray and the Maize 'N Blue for top spot in the NL West.

Departures: RP Wandy Urbina (signed with Monterrey, $63.4M over 5 years !!!), RP Louie Abreu (FA, to LAA), 2B Marc Sears (trade to Col), 1B Vicente Ciriaco (trade to Col), LF Marc Oswalt (trade to Rich), SP Rigo Almonte (trade to Mil)
Acquisitions: SS Max Cerveza (trade from Rich), 3B Julio Osoria (trade from Col), SP Lou Hendrickson (trade from Col), LF Julian Aquino (trade from Mil)
Milestones: Club seeking first-ever 100-win season in its history. 3B Osoria needs 28 HR to reach 200 career. LF Aquino needs 3 HR for 200 career. SP Lou Hendrickson needs 6 wins for 150 career, 79 strikeouts for 2000 career. SP Eric Bordick needs 9 wins for 150 career, needs 204 strikeouts for 2000 career.
Best off-season move: acquiring five-tool slugging SS Max Cerveza gives the Somethings an MVP-type, middle-of-the-order middle-infield bat, a huge luxury and a key component to organizations looking to compete at the highest level. Widely considered the biggest coup of GM pjfoster13's career.
Top prospects: LHP Timothy Carreon (ETA S32), 2B/LF Miguel Tejera (ETA S33), RHP Derrik Hayes (ETA S32), 2B/CF Miguel Navarre (ETA S32), LHP Francisco Quintanilla (ETA S32), SS Wayne Anderson (ETA S33), C Darron Wilkerson (ETA S34), 1B Perry Adkins (ETA S32), DITR LHP Mendy Vanguri (ETA S34), RHP Ren Wanatabe (ETA S35)

Honolulu Rainbow Warriors -


Portland Pines -