Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Team Previews

Here are the team previews I have as of 11/22/11.

  • Las Vegas Bookies
S6: 96-66 Won NL West (Anaheim finished with same record); Lost 3-2 in 2nd RD of playoffs

Lost: Glen Theriot (26 HR, 93 RBI)
Bobby Ray Mercedes

Add: Jeremy May (30+ HR and 100+ RBI last 2 seasons)
Willie Oliva

Last season was a fight until the end with the Bookies losing out on the 2nd seed by 1 game. We did win the division even though divison mate Anaheim finished with the same record. We will miss both RF Theriot and 1B Mercedes production although Mercedes was always coming off the pine. To offset the production lost we brought in Jeremy May to LF and will slide Enrique Ordonez to RF. Also brought in will be #1 SP Willie Oliva who should give us a dominate ace to help distance ourselves from Anaheim and hopefully push us past Charleston. He was given a 4yr. extension which helped since we gave up some nice prospects for him. Our numbers were down last season and we hope that some of our bats come alive again this season. Management expects to win the NL West again and make a stronger push into the playoffs.

  • Cincinnati Battlin’ Redlegs
We won a franchise-high 104 games last season, which of course was followed by a prompt exit from the playoffs. So while the season was a success, the ending was a huge disappointment. Most of the team remains intact, though there were a few major changes that should improve the overall team.

Season 6 team leader in HRs/RBIs Wandy Park was shipped to Cleveland along with setup guy Esmerling Granados and a prospect for C Morris Evans. It was our top priority to attain a great-hitting C, and Evans is someone we targeted right away. He’ll provide a big boost to the lineup. Losing Park hurts, but with Al Mondesi seasoned and ready to go in AAA, we probably get better at the position anyway.

Other moves were more minor in nature. John Tomlinson was signed to be the 5th starter, which in our rotation is a part-time role. Yonder Velez was signed to replace Granados in the bullpen. Jerry Fischer was signed to provide depth at the corner OF positions and 1B. Rookie Angel James will provide depth at several positions. Beyond that, the rest of the team pretty much returns from last season.

Projected Lineup
C Evans with Juan Vazquez spelling him a lot vs LH pitching
1B Pete Malone returns
2B Fausto James returns
SS The platoon of Stan King/Jose Alicea returns to provide solid defense
3B Piper Cambridge returns
LF Damaso Ontiveros returns
CF Alan Abernathy returns
RF Al Mondesi will settle in here for the next 10+ seasons

SP rotation
The 1-2-3 punch of now 2-time Cy Young winner Valerio Nunez, Julian Tejada, and Yadier Zurburan returns. These guys combined for 740 innings last season and will be counted on again to anchor the rotation. Tony Suzuki returns as the 4th starter. The previously mentioned veteran FA Tomlinson will spot start in the 5th spot as needed.

Arthur Swift and Vin Tresh return to setup closer Dario Keefe in a strong back end of the bullpen. The rest of the pen pretty much returns in tact as well.

We expect another strong season, and hopefully a little more luck in the playoffs.

  • Charleston River Dogs:
Key Players Acquired via FA: Paulie Williams, Dwight Westmoreland, Kevin Kohlmeier, Mike Carey.

We brought back Kohlmeier and Carey. Kohlmeier is a solid end of the rotation, long reliever type that helps solidify the pitching staff. I love Carey as a backup C and thought I got him at a decent price. Williams and Westmoreland were brought in as roleplayers to replace the guys I lost who where either more expensive or I was able to get draft picks for them.

Key Players Lost via FA: Hooks Dank (Type B), Alex Burke, Einer Lopez, Brendan Roling, Brady Lester (type B).

I would have brought any of those guys back at the right price. However, I'm happy to take the comp picks for Dank and Lester as they were role players for me. I would have liked to bring back Lopez, but again, just as a role player and he was too expensive.

Key Players Acquired via Trade: Dave Cross

Very small trade to report in picking up Cross. I needed one more arm in the bullpen and the Steamboats were looking for a CFer so it was a good match. Not expecting much out of him.

Key Players Lost via Trade: N/A

Rookies Called up:
Felipe Benitez will be brought up around game 23 to enter to the starting rotation. Also brought up Hipolito Almanza as a defensiv replacement and he doesn't have an awful bat.

Prognosis: The River Dogs are looking to continue their success after winning the world series in Season 6. Our first goal is to win the division and hopefully earn a bye. Past that, the playoffs are such a crapshoot, but we're always shooting for the best!

  • Louisville Steamboats:
Added: C Rolando Frias, 2B Curt Barden (5), 2B Davey Tucker, 3B Brady Lester, 3B Philip Chase, SS Rico Carrasquel, OF Albert Garces, OF Ron Stocker, CF Jack McDill (5), OF Kevin Zhang, SP Kenshin Ogawa, SP Shouta Tanaka, SP Rich Lawrence, SP Cy Lanning, RP Aurelio Mesa, RP Curtis Newson, RP Jimmy Lieberthal, RP Pedro Castillo (5), RP Joaquin Tejeda

After finishing 121-203 in the past 2 seasons, the Steamboats are tasked with winning 70 games this season. A team that finished last in the NL in runs scored, HRs, and OPS had to make some improvements in our offense. By adding perennial MVP candidate Philip Chase to take over 3B this should provide a big bat to protect returning 1B Acosta. Davey Tucker was brought in to take over 2B and free up Gio Jacquez to return to his natural SS position. In the OF, Albert Garces, Ron Stocker, and Kevin Zhang will split the corner spots, with rookie rule-5 pick Jack McDill manning CF. Brady Lester, Davey Tucker, and Rico Carrasquel provide some depth in the IF. C Rolando Frias mans the dish and we should see an offensive improvement from him, although his durability is a concern.

Pitching-wise Louisville had the 15th ranked team ERA in the NL and had to do something about that. We return ace Trace Sanford (8-10, 3.98 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 230.2 IP). We are hoping for bounceback seasons from relievers Stubby Mayer (30 G, 73.2 IP, 6.23 ERA, 1.57 WHIP) and Gary Everett (30 G, 65.2 IP, 5.07 ERA, 1.68 WHIP). We’ve added some significant upgrades to the pitching staff by overpaying for Kenshin Ogawa and bringing in Rich Lawrence, Shouta Tanaka, and Cy Lanning for the rotation. We picked up relievers Jimmy Lieberthal, Curtis Newson, Aurelio Mesa, and rule-5 draftees Joaquin Tejeda and Pedro Castillo. The staff is better, but is it good enough?

We went all-in this season to get to 70 wins so we don’t get the boot. I feel like not only do we have a shot at 70 wins, we have a shot to win the division.

  • Anaheim Knights
Anaheim went for broke last season and lost out in the LCS. Budget necessites resulted in trades of 5 key players from last year's team. Getting prospects in return for the starters means a rebuilding season is in order. Pitching remains solid; but offense and defense will be off. A .500 season would be a surprise.

  • Chicago Black Sox
realistically, i think we are an avg team hoping for a better year than the last. i bolstered the bullpen a bit and hope for a couple of players to rebound from subpar seasons

  • Columbus Aeros
I don't know what to think after last season figuring I was going to be aweful and ended up almost at .500. My bullpen is a wreck and I lost out on a couple of free agents to help back there but I am bringing up the Moose this season so that should help the offense as well as Sandoval for D at SS and Yorman Ortiz at 2b. I may bring up either Higgins or Ryan for a CO position we will see but I just dont have a good feel for what will happen with this team.

  • Jackson Mallards
Fingers crossed... Hoping Scott Charleston can make a solid contribution & that Enrique Vazquez (& everybody else) can stay healthy...

  • Jacksonville Gators
Here is some info for my team preview. Last season we had our first winning season and just missed the playoffs with a 88-74 record. Most of that success was contributed to a solid pitching staff. The clear objective this offseason was to upgrade on the offensive side. With that we acquired 4 new hitters via trade. Ed Kelly , Ismael Lopez , Miguel Santiago and most importantly Glen Monroe . With Monroe and the others inserted into the line up along with franchise 3B Marino Bautista , we are hoping to take the next step from and break into the playoffs.

  • Little Rock Swampfire
The three year plan that took five years finally bore fruit in season six as Little Rock finished in a first place tie with a team record 91 wins. With only one member of the 25-man roster older than 30, the Swampfire hope their youngsters continue to improve as they gain experience. Rookie All-Star closer Bill Bradford saved 37 games in 39 opportunities insuring SP win totals for Roque-16, Rios-15, Garcia-15 and Blowers-13. Rookie Cristobal Gallardo hopes to stop the revolving door that has been CF in the first six seasons.

  • Los Angeles Tiger Sharks
This will be a transitional year, as we try to stay competitive through our always strong pitching while focusing our budget on adding positional players throughout the system

  • New York Highlanders
Sure Hurricane, with he Highlanders we're still trying to build a team that can compete for the division title. While we think we'l be competitive this year, we're still a year or two away from where I want the team to be.Our rotation does not have the overall depth or a legitimate ace. Our bullpen is pretty good and should continue to improve as Howard and Stanley continue to grow into their roles as closer and setup man. On the positive side of things we're very good defensively and have very good team speed. Our future is bright as we have a number of great young players that should be on the ML roster next year. These include Gilkey in CF, Kreuter in the infield, Leonard in the starting rotation and Ogawa in the Pen.

  • New Orleans Zydeco
The Zydeco have won five division titles in a row. That streak will likely end this season, mostly because of the old man smell emanating from the locker room.

  • Philadelphia Freedom
Philadelphia isn’t coming off of a great season record wise. Many of last years acquisitions went to getting Rickey Burgess and Willie Hernandez in trades. Added Rex Wheat who I Have high hopes for with the splits. We sent bocachica away in hopes to deepen our line up which we did. I’m expecting to be in the race till the end, but not a spectacular season.

  • Richmond Rebels
High hopes for this season. We made it to the WS last year and should be improved this season. Adding Houston Simmons via trade and Art Maddox via call up to the top of the rotation should greatly improve the starting pitching. I did move Philip Chase who was likely my best all around hitter, but I brought back a good OBP type along with a really good C prospect. While we expect to contend again this year, I'm always keeping an eye on the future and this deal represents such a move. Hopefully the rest of the offense and improved pitching can pick up the slack.
  • Rochester Redbirds:
The Redbirds return all the important parts of their vaunted offense, and even added yet another power bat this offseason. They are hoping to mash teams into submission. On the Pitching side they have added a new #2 starter in the hopes of shoring up what was an awful pitching situation last year, Redbirds also added what should be a dominant setup man to bridge the gap to their closer. Redbirds are predicting another division title, and to reclaim the Championship which they won only 2 seasons ago.
  • Syracuse Orange
I have no All-Star players but have pretty good depth, so we'll see where that takes me. I acquired some good talent in the offseason hoping to challenge for the division, hopefully it will be more interesting than waiting for next year's draft. This is the season I finally try to start winning and stop planning for the future. I don't have a ton of talent in the pipeline but I feel like I have enough to break .500 and make a run at the playoffs. A lot will depend on how my pitching bounces back from a terrible year, especially guys like Todd Schmidt and Kris Cosby.

  • Cheyenne Gunslingers
The time is now for the Gunslingers. It's a coming of age season for what may be one of the strongest rotations in Billy Beane. Led by Shep Blanks, Trenidad Tejada, and Les Gunderson (threw a 2-hit shutout in his first start), this rotation can go 6 deep with quality starters. The bullpen is also dominant, with closer Clem Cameron anchoring a balanced staff.

Offense has been the enigma for the Gunslingers since the inaugural season. Mays and Chong are back to split catcher duties, Jumbo Kennedy and Geraldo Olivares provide the pop. With a only a few roster losses to replace, a year of development and the probable callups of 1B Ron Martin or Pedro Johnson should finally make the Gunslingers competitive.

I expect to finish 1st or 2nd in the division and finally make the playoffs.

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