Thursday, February 26, 2015

Season 13 Previews

Thank you to everyone who took the time to participate.  I really appreciate it!

NL North

Detroit Wolverines

Year 13 is one of anticipation for the city of Detroit. Management was able to lure BC Billy Cedano away from last year’s division champions and it is hoped that his leadership can add a few more wins to this overpaid bunch of prima donnas.

Once again Detroit’s success is tied to the performance of Bobby Clayton. Clayton is entering the 4th year of his 5 yr 100mil contract and his only chance of seeing a 5th year on this team is tied to his performance. The other diva is Walter Grove. Like Clayton he conned management into a 5 yr deal that is way beyond what this clown is worth. Fans will continue boo his every move with the hope of this guy getting out of town.

The SS platoon of Cesar Torcato and Fernando Beato will provide solid D at SS although neither one knows where the on deck circle is much less how to hit.

Rookie Matt Holmes is being counted on for some power. His 50 minor league HR last year has given The Big League team something to look forward to. Last year’s Waiver pick up Rubin Park has locked down RF and a repeat of his .308 average is anticipated.

Pitching remains the major area of concern for the Wolverines. Wil Yamato and Neifi Williamson are the overpaid bums returning for another season. Hopefully both can continue to avoid those line drives up the middle that they constantly seem to surrender. Or maybe it might be better if they don’t. FA Vern Capps and Freddy Starr are being looked to for some much need improvement with Starr being given the closer role for S13.

It is hoped that S13 will mark the arrival of 22 yr old Benji Tatis to the big Club. Benji’s .295/37/102 led the AAA mini wolves to last year’s conference title.

Although the WS Title remains our long term goal, Detroit is hoping for significant improvement this season as they continue to close the knowledge gap between themselves and some off the established owners in this extremely well run league.

 Iowa City Hawkeyes

FA Signings- None

FA Lost- #4 Starter Kennie James and 1 short reliever

Returns virtually the entire team that was one game away from the world series. Calling up #5 Draft Pick Bill Hensley to fill the vacated starters position. Every Position player returns with most of them being under the age of 30. This team has a pretty good starting lineup, but the strength is the starting 5.
Scranton Nittany Lions

The Nittany Lions are expecting nothing less than a World Series Championship this upcoming lucky season number thirteen. The Lions have won 5 out of the last 6 division titles but have not gone any further in the playoffs than the DCS. Even with two time Cy Young award winning pitcher Randy Cooper pitching has been the biggest weakness in past seasons. The Lions have signed free agent pitchers Stubby Grabow and Jhoulys Castro to improve the pitching staff. The Lions hitting is our biggest strength with all stars Ralph Austin, Izzy Grieve, Piper Strittmatter, Paul Hayes and MVP Sean Service combining for 213 home runs last season. Rookie pitchers Henderson Evans and Victor Santiago are expected to help the Lions this coming year.

NL East

Baltimore Terrapins

Season 12 saw the Terps return to the form they showed in the first 4 seasons of NCAAII. A brilliant regular season performance was negated by playoff failure. Despite the frustrating playoffs no major changes occurred as the vast core of the team is locked up for a little more time. 2 former Terps returned to fill holes and improve the roster. C Placido Melendez will see 300+ at bats and should improve the offense from that position. SP/RP Kosuke Donald also returns and will likely get the majority of his innings in long relief.RP Dennis Shigetoshi was brought in via FA to get important late inning outs vs. RH batters. 1B Ellis Wells was promoted from AAA. Management is very excited to see if he can win the job outright from the disappointing Jack Mirabelli. RF JT Morton hit the offseason harder than ever. He was extremely disappointed to be 1 SB away from the 50/50 club and lag behind in votes for MVP. He and SS Alex Rosales highlight the outstanding offense. SP David Lopez headlines the pitching staff. RP is another point of strength as Luther Ross, Richard Kwon and Jesus Rodriguez form a formidable front line. Management hopes the rest of the SP can deliver. If they do, this team can go far.

Charlotte Tar Heels

Two severely underachieving seasons in a row led management to decide to blow up the team and start over while we could still get some good value for a lot of our veterans. Out the door went future hall of famers Myron Kaline and Andre Kerr and probably future hall of famers Marc Breen and Jeremy Stern.  Past All Stars like Dion Jones, Eddie Donovan, and TJ Moran were also sent packing along with several other good players.  Looking at all of the talent that was shipped out, one has to wonder how the Heels severely underachieved the last couple seasons.

Regardless, we're on the rebuild path now and are pretty excited about the pieces we were able to get back for all of that ML talent. In comes Kyle Truman to anchor the rotation while we wait for our prospects to develop like Orlando Mendoza, Takuya Bang, Stan Hurst, Nathan Strauss, Bret Porter, and the list goes on and on.  We also added a lot of cheap, decent talent to help keep us competitive for the next couple seasons.

Speaking of future talent, we are hoping Season 12's draft is as good as advertised as the Heels now have 3 of the top 7 picks in Orlando Mendoza (2), Stan Hurst (6), Bret Porter (7), and 6 of the top 39 if you include my original two picks, Don Ward (25) and Haywood Rigdon (39) along with Allie Warden (33) who is another new Heel.

We're excited for the future here in Charlotte and it will be fun seeing how all of the former Heels perform for other teams.

Durham Blue Devils

Durham spent the offseason dealing a couple of SS with contracts so that Evereth Martin can take over. While appearing to be a team in transition, Durham did add Grant Brown to a bullpen that struggled last season. The team continues to try to build around C Brad Edwards, 2B Darren Bauer, SS Evereth Martin, OF's Jerry Stgrickland and Terrance Glauber as well as a strong SP staff. It will be interesting to see what their GM has in store for the future as their staff is starting to cost more money.

NL South

Florida Gators

Florida is looking to improve upon last year's surprise 85 win season. As the rotation is returning intact, and most of the team was promoted to the ML in the last 2 years, we used this offseason FA period to build up the bullpen with RP's Javier, Gutierrez, and Barrios, and to add a good catcher in Uggla. Two quality prospects, the Guzman brothers, SS Kendry and RP Harry, will be called up early in the season.

Little Rock Razorbacks

After two consecutive seasons of 90+ losses, The Razorbacks appear to be poised to return to a respectable win total in season 13. The improvement should be felt in the line up more than on the mound. The team signed Type A free agent, Racardo Ramirez in the off season and should get a significant boost when minor league star, Oswaldo Candelario makes his way to the majors. Insiders estimate that we will be called up 20 games into the season and will instantly provide a presence in the middle of the line-up against right handed pitchers. In addition to Candelario, Russell Patterson will get his first taste of the majors as well. Patterson is the classic low batting average, high home run rate catcher, but his power in the line-up should be welcomed for a Little Rock team that finished dead last in the majors in home runs last season. While a playoff push, may not be in the cards for this group, I think a .500 record is not out of the question.

Montgomery Crimson Tide

The Crimson Tide is mildly optimistic about season 13, but in all honesty we’re probably not in any position to compete for a playoff spot unless all things broke just right. The biggest change in the off season was the FA acquisition of veteran RF Gorkys Calderone who should add some needed pop to the lineup and provide solid defense in RF. Other changes will be the promotion of rookie Brian Morris at C and waiver acquisition Alfredo Estrella at CF who will both be part of a platoon. Unfortunately, the pitching staff remains solid if only mediocre and I’m hoping for some career or bounce back years from much of the staff. There are some good young arms in AAA who may get called up early if the season starts slipping away.

NL West

Arizona State Sun Devils

We begin our title defense returning most of last season's key offensive pieces. The only notable loss was the decision not to re-sign Lon Pribanic, who takes his .400 obp elsewhere. He will be missed but money is getting tight and he was an aging platoon only bat, so the difficult decision was made. Everyone else returns, and the offense should continue to be quite strong. Last year's unsung hero was Vicente Castro, who played double digit games at 5 different defensive positions and raked at the plate (.913 OPS, 31 HR, 21 SB). His super utility role will continue this season and we hope for similar production with the bat.

The big changes happened on the mound during the offseason. We shipped away most of the young future talent in the org to bring in the world's all-time strikeout leader, Myron Kaline, to co-anchor the rotation alongside Jack Glass. The rotation struggled at times after my top 2 last season, so adding an ace to the mix will certainly strengthen that. We also return Louie Crespo from his 14th major arm injury (only a slight exaggeration), and his return should help strengthen the back end of the rotation until his arm inevitably falls off yet again. The bullpen was solid and returns just about everyone.

As long as we can avoid major injuries to key players, this should be a team poised to compete for another championship. Hopes are high this season.

AL North

Chicago Blue Demons

The Chicago Blue Demons are looking to improve on last season’s 87 wins, which included a wild card round playoff series win and ended when they were swept by Richmond 3-0 in the DCS.
Chicago lost longtime bullpen workhorse D’Angelo Machado who signed a $29 million free agent deal, and declined a $3.2 million option on Carlos Flores who had an OPS of .870 in 495 Abs last season.

The Blue Demons made some aggressive trades acquiring 11 time AllStar Andre Kerr, SP Marc Breen and RP TJ Moran all from Charlotte in 2 separate deals. Kerr is NCAA II’s all time leader in runs scored and doubles, and 2nd alltime in hits and will provide a big time spark for the offense. Breen will be penciled in as the #1 man in Chicago’s revamped rotation, and gives the Blue Demons their first true #1 starter for the first time in many seasons. Moran will slide into the bullpen role vacated by Machado. The Blue Demons said good bye to SP prospect Nathan Strauss, and beastly 1B prospect, Stan Hurst to get these deals done.

Chicago also traded for SS Tony Mateo, who will replace the aging Peter Matthews, whos declining range made it impossible for him to play short anymore.

While Chicago was very active in trading, they were very quiet in free agency. They signed SP Juan Mercado, who will compete for the 4th or 5th spot in the rotation and brought in RP Virgil Payton, who is currently on the 60 day DL recovering from elbow surgery. If Payton can get back to where he was before the injury, he and Moran will form a very good one-two punch out of the pen.
Look for IF/OF Wilson Rothschild to make his ML debut some point this season for the Blue Demons, Chicago believes the #14 overall pick from season 9 is ready to contribute.
Internally, Chicago believes they can approach 90+ wins, and win their division this season.

Trenton Scarlet Knights

The Scarlet Knights are desperately trying to keep their grip on the division title once again this season. After a slow start to last season, management expect to give the starting rotation more depth behind long time ace Ken Nix. However in true Trenton fashion, the Knights came up empty in their FA quest and made some decisions that have left the fan base wondering if this franchise is on its last legs of glory. 

The Knights pitching staff was going to be thin and over worked coming into this season, but with the season ending injury in spring training to rotation pitcher P.J. Bunch, there are more questions than answers on how far this team can go.

With growing salary demands and aging players, look for the Trenton management team to make significant changes to the roster and begin the rebuilding process if a playoff berth is unlikely by the All-Star break.

AL East

Boston College Eagles

Boston is pretty pleased with its offseason- thought we were unable to land the big players we were chasing we added a couple of solid veterans.

With the promotion of a couple minor leaguers this year- led by pitcher
we hope to bring the team's record back over .500

Richmond Cavaliers

After consequtive losses in the LCS, the ownership in Richmond decided to shake up the team this season. The mainstays of the lineup all remained with Richmond, but new SS Ryne Nagy will bring a solid glove and a welcomed LH bat to the lineup. And 3b/RF pep Johns will get a full season in the majors. Ownership traded some starting pitching, a deep position in the minor leagues, for position prospects. That leaves Oswaldo Sosa and Albie Puig vying for a spot in the ML rotation. Jhoulys Tarrasco, Jerrod Bridges and Robinson Osoria are vying for an opening in the bullpen. Richmond’s lineup remains solid and it’s pitching staff has gotten younger, but ownership expects a return to the post-season.

Syracuse Orange

Season 13 will be a roster transition year for the Orange.  New management refused to resign several players who were not in the long range plan.  And began the process of getting the payroll under  control.   Gone are pitchers  Howard Lawrence  Matt Moseley  Steve Connelly  and  Wallace Narveson .  Six veterens were wiaved to free up $29M in cap space.  Pitchers   Bruce Ennis  Aroldis Nunez  and  Neftali Javier  along with position players Pepe Cordero  Clay Stanley  and  Phil Bong  all found new homes within the league.

 In their place, Syracuse focused on one and two year contracts and began to focus on rebuilding the prospect base.   The Orange will be relying on cheaper ageing vets to keep the team competitive in season 13.  37 year old veteran   Richard Ni  will be given the task of #2 starter.   At 37, all eyes will be on pitching coach Thom Krueger  to see if he can coax another solid season from Ni.   Ni will join Yunesky Callaspo at the top of the order.  The rest of the staff is made up of a few holdovers and five free agent pitchers who were all signed for less than $2M after the initial wave of Free Agency.  All of the signings were on one or two year contracts with team options, so the team has some flexibility as they retool.  Offensively only two large contracts remain as the team dipped into the Rule 5 Draft pool to fill out the ML roster.  

There is good chance that the future will start 20 days into the season when theOrange will be able to promote players without losing a control year.   Look for Dingo Lieberthal Maicer Amezaga  and Jose Martin  to arrive from AAA early in the season.  The Orange front office shared with me that although the transition plan is expected to take three or four seasons, they looking for some early results by season’s end.  

AL South

Wichita Jayhawks

Our team will be very much like last season. We signed Wilfredo Johnson and Trey Wilhelm to replace the departed Dayan Flores and Virgil Payton . Hopefully our hitting dominates the AL as it did last season, because pitching wise we are weak as we were last year. This team could make the playoffs or just as easily miss. Staying healthy will be a key for this team. It's an older team and it could be our last kick at the can with this group.

AL West

Oakland Golden Bears

Here are a few notes on the Oakland Golden Bears franchise in NCAA2. The Oakland franchise is in the midst of rebuilding and last year we were able to continue this process without losing any more games than we did the season before.

The Oakland franchise has a solid core to build on veterans Terry Seaton (former #4 pick), Endy Valentin, Rodney Brown and Alex Seanez. Last year, trades also garnered two youngsters that look to be the Keystone combination for many years in Damon Minor and Wayne Murphy.

We lost some key free agents last year that allowed us to get 5 1st round picks and 7 picks out of the top 84 selections. We picked up some nice prospects, Hulk perisho, Hipolito Rivera, David Wohlers, Norberto Delgado and Dorssys Perez to name a few. Our top two picks Perishho and Rivera tore up the rookie league last year and look to have bright careers in front of them. In order to bolster the Oakland pitching staff, Rivera and Perisho were dealt during Spring Training for Cam Wilson and George Westbrook, two SP that will start in the majors this season and look to be fixtures for years to come as both are just entering their prime years.

Although we are still young and rebuilding, the financials are in very good shape and we are moving in the desired direction for our budget targets. I feel that reaching the playoffs this year is an attainable goal.

Salem Beavers

The Salem Beavers...a team that has never quite gotten good enough for this owner's preferences made several moves to improve. We added 3 new starters and an entirely new bullpen to the mix. The bullpen is worse while the rotation improved. The real improvement comes for the offense where SS Benavente 2B Donovan, and DH Lewis look to really prop a group that was weak last season. The team added some pop to the bench as well, so hopefully you can see some real fireworks out of Salem this season. The team spent right up to their budget, so we're really looking at this team for the rest of the season. As far as potential newcomers this season, 1B Aramis Campos, 3B Josias Guerrero, and OF Tomas Ordonez might not be ready, but could well be thrust into the spotlight.

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