Friday, May 17, 2013

Season 13 Previews

Anaheim Angels
The Angels surprised everyone last season by advancing to the second round of the playoffs. Don't expect another climb up. In fact, the growing strength of intra-division competition will make a division championship unlikely. The Angels made no meaningful acquisitions and had no meaningful losses. It is expected that some of last year's AAA talent will make it to the bigs; but, probably not until later in the season. It would be fair to say that the Angels farm system ranks in the top five. The star type talent is a season or two away. A .500 season is the most likely bet.

Atlanta Peaches
Goal for the Peaches this season is to again contend for the division title and hopefully beat out Little Rock this time around. Improving the defense at Shortstop and Catcher was a must coming into the off-season and the signing of SS Craig Tracy and acquisition of Ryan Mulholland should fix that problem. The offense should be just fine behind power hitting LF Dusty McDonald and 1B Dario Rath. The pitching staff added SP Al Castro to a solid rotation and the Atlanta front office is hoping for a rebound season from vet Alan Sherman. All in all it is a good, deep team in Atlanta and anything short of the playoffs would be a disappointment.

Charleston River Dogs
Looks like at least one more rebuilding season for the River Dogs. We are excited about how we've restocked the minor league system and have some really talented players working their way up. Bruce Casanova is our highest paid player and one of the top players in the world. He'll be signed to a long term deal next season. Our hope is to find another good to great international this season and have a strong draft while staying decently competitive at the ML level as we did last season.

Cleveland Indians
Snagging Darby Kaufman with the 14th overall pick was pretty lucky for the Cleveland Indians. While finding the right position for Darby might be challenging (2B or LF), he does have the makings of a prototypical #2 hitter. He’s got great health and durability projections . He also has an excellent eye, good bunting and base running skills combined with above average speed. He’ll make good contact against righties and lefties and is starting out (if I can sign him) in Low A.

El Paso Diablos
This is the year that I really concentrate on rebuilding. I was rushed last time and had to get hit the win floor which took away all the seasons of trying to redo the minor leagues. This year, I am trying to get some kind of talent in this system, because it is still really bare from years of neglect and poor drafting. There are only a handful of prospects that are worth anything in the system, and no stars at the ML league level. I'm hoping we can be a 65-70 win team with the group that I have gotten through free agency. I had only 5 players signed for this year before free agency, and had to go out and pretty much get a whole new roster for a year. I didn't have the resources to go all out and get every max player deal out there to maintain my flexibility for the future when some of these guys are actually ready to come up. We will see if I'm able to rebuild this team without sacrificing the integrity of the league. Otherwise, somebody else will enjoy the misery and fruits of my labor that I have tried to work on for the last 4-5 seasons.

Jackson Mallards
Here's hoping Jerome Adams will add a bit more consistency to the Mallards rotation...

Jacksonville Gators
20 free agents signed to one year contracts plus 5 AAAA players promoted from within the organization equals your season 13 Jacksonville Gators. As we head into year 3 of what appears to be just the start of a long, painful rebuilding process. The team bolsters 3 former top 5 draft picks under the age of 28, but they don’t have the talent to back up their hype. Alan Lombard and Albert Romero had their hopes robbed by injury. While Bob Jones didn’t develop at the rate scouts expected. Among the 20 free agents signed, 8 were type B and 2 type A, so there is hope that the team can stay competitive and avoid a 100 loss season.

Las Vegas Bookies
S12: 72-90 (3rd in NL West)

To say last season was a disappointment is like saying that Wolverine fans enjoy Ohio St. fans. We traded for Zach Hogan and Willie Olivia to pair with Sogard Hoffman and Tyler Betancourt, giving us what we thought was the best 4 man rotation in the majors. We also landed Shawn Grieve to help out Houston Reese, Carlos Baez and Jermey May on offense. Management was fully expecting to make a deep playoff run with this team as our pitching staff only had a few seasons left in them. When we couldn't even win the division or compete for a wild card, the locker room was not a fun place to be for the end of the season meeting. We even tried shipping Zach Hogan for Marino Bautista to generate some type of offense (he ended up hitting .204 for us). We tried to sell off the team and began rebuilding but not many teams were biting this offseason so while we think we still have a decent team on paper, we aren't expecting to get our hopes up after seeing what happened last season.

Little Rock Rollers
Don't really know what to expect this year, although a repeat of last seasons 92 wins might seem unlikely due to keeping an eye on rebuilding by letting our free agents test the waters to gain some supplemental B picks for the upcoming draft. Although we feel we have acquired some good free agents to fill in the gaps to hopefully come close to what was accomplished last year.

Louisville Steamboats
After winning their division for the second straight season, the Steamboats did some rebuilding with an eye towards getting out of the first round of the playoffs. The rebuilding was not without some controversy, though.

The offense is largely improved with Sarma Corsi and Ron Milner platooning at 1B. C could be interesting as there is big-time slugger Bosco Mercedes, Dickie Hudson and rule-5 pick Travis Raymond. 2B brings a big-time improvement as FA signing Carlos Jimenez slides into that spot. Another FA signee, Davey Tucker, makes his return to Louisville to serve as the starting 3B and bat 2nd. SS is where the team is really struggling after missing out on prize FA Rickie Burgess. There is a battle between Edgardo Saenz and Cy Reese and a trade was recently made to bring Phillip Weaver over from Ottawa. LF is being held down by Phillip Shields and Kevin Zhang continues to hold down RF. CF Jose Santana replaces Al Baez for both an offensive and defensive improvement.

A brand-new rotation highlights the pitching staff as Felipe Benitez, J.P. Diaz, Shouta Tanaka, Gerald Garcia, and R.J. Manuel combine to form a much deeper staff than was available last season. While the top isn’t as good, the rest of the rotation should pick up the slack. The bullpen is young, but solid. Curtis Roberts anchors it, with Corey Langerhans and Maicer Lopez looking to make their ML debuts. Brooks Bush, Todd Minor, and Jake O’Leary round out this hard-throwing bullpen…does not have a member that has a velocity rating below 80.

This is a season of change in Louisville, hopefully the change is getting out of the first round of the playoffs this time.

New York Highlanders
The NY Highlanders strength last year was pitching and with everyone returning, the staff from top to bottom should be excellent again this year. On offense the team should improve with full years from Kozlowski at 1b and Bryan Glynn leading and playing LF. The addition of FA Angel James at 3B gives us a solid bat and great glove to help anchor the infield. A last minute FA signing of Wilson Durbin gives the team some needed speed off the bench. Returning veterans at all other positions should make the Highlanders a contender in season 13.