Monday, July 21, 2014

S15 Preview

Atlanta Braves
The Braves are hopeful that their young pitching talent has matured to the point that they can begin their climb out of several years of mediocrity. Entering his 3rd year in the majors at only 23, Geoffrey Ellis' stuff is among the very best in the game. Yieco Castro and Pedro Aguilar are both coming off solid rookie campaigns, and it appears that Kenny Hague has positioned himself to make the big league roster with a solid spring. Veterans Fausto Martin, Vincenzo Parker and Santiago Owen are competing for a spot in the rotation as well, though a couple of them will end up coming out of the pen. Patrick Smith has established himself as a solid set up man, and Wilt Rosen is emerging as one of the premier closers in the game. Lefty Irv Monahan, snagged in the Rule 5 Draft, is still developing but will play a role out of the pen as well. Unfortunately, Braves management has evidently failed to realize that in order to capitalize on this promising pitching talent, they'll have to score some runs as well. That will be a tall order. Veteran mainstay 1B Al Reynoso has been put out to pasture after yielding his starting spot to Nash Jensen last season, and his 401 career home runs are nothing more than a fleeting memory. Jensen appears poised to pick up the slack in the middle of the lineup, but veteran OF Alex Cheng is now in the twilight of his career and no longer capable of putting up the numbers he has in the past. Defensively, the Braves are solid up the middle, starting with Gold Glove catcher Ricardo Jose, who platoons with another defensive stalwart, Melky Morales. Ezdra Aviles is as good as any SS in the game defensively, and Mac Clarke will be making his debut at 2B, providing a defensive upgrade over Joe Watson, though his bat will be the least of worries for opposing pitchers. Coming into spring training, it was thought that switch-hitting CF Daniel Parrish would begin the season at AAA, but he has made the case that he is a better option than veteran speedster, good fielding, seldom hitting Virgil Montero. The lack of offensive firepower will likely relegate the Braves to a battle for 2nd place for another season, but if the pitching continues to develop and some of the new faces come through at the plate, they could surprise.

Baltimore Orioles
Last season was an unmitigated disaster. We had plans to win the division and for whats its worth, we still had that chance at the end of the season, but regardless, we severely underachieved and were monumentally unlucky playing significantly above our record while going 14-29 in one run games.

We felt like there would be a natural return to the mean after such an unlucky season, but still decided to make some changes.

We sent out Shayne Weaver in a deal for Arnold MIller who is a one season rental to shore up RF. Losing Weaver wasn't the plan, but we have a solid number pitchers similar to him and RF was a gaping hole for us last season. We also sent out Bill Miles who got too expensive for our tastes.

Our big blockbuster of the season was shipping out Elroy Brown and Stump Ball. Brown hurt to move, but our big Intl FA signing last season is ready and he is a better defensive catcher while still having a good bat so we want to give him a shot and by moving those guys, we were able to bring back in Chance Malloy who will be a really solid SP in the middle of our rotation and is still pretty young and should be here a long time.

A few rookies will also make their debut this season...

C - Fausto Cerveza - Will slot in as our starting Catcher to take over for the departed Elroy Brown, big shoes to fill.

SP/LR - Former first round pick Wilin Guerrero will be brought up and eventually will have a place in the rotation. he suffered a bad injury in only his second season, but has rebounded nicely.

RP - Alex Chavez - Really nice RP prospect especially for only costing us $2 mil as a bonus

Our goal is to take back the AL East!

Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox had a huge whiff this offseason. They were all in on stud pitcher David Lester and lost out in the final hours on him, which left their GM scrambling to pick up what was left of free agency at that point....which was basically scraps. So they were forced to pull off some trades, which I think helped the team out. First off they acquired CFer Brendan Buford to replace Gerardo Ortiz in CF. They also traded for Rod Maurer and signed Ken Smith to add to the rotation. Rookie of the year, Chris Parker, will lead the rotation. The offense should be fine, the bullpen is very good, so it really all comes down to the rotation. The Red Sox had 79 wins last year and with the offseason whiff I expect them to finish in the same 78-83 win range which unfortunately means another year of missing the playoffs...

Chicago Cubs
Unfortunately the Cubs will be the same Cubs this season as not many changes were made. We grabbed Sam Moustakas in the rule 5 draft after getting outbid in free agency for a first baseman and he’s ended up hitting .389 in spring training so far. Eswalin Wilfredo will be called up from AAA to take over second base and Tanyon Bere may get called up as well. We shuffled a few players around defensively, moving Ariel Mateo to LF and Hipolito Quintero to RF to get us stronger. We also traded for Mo Brunette to help shore up the shortstop position. Rick Saunders was signed this off-season to help in the long relief and Adam Bowen for the starting rotation. We shopped some pitchers around this off-season but just couldn’t work out a deal but we’re expecting big things from Bryan Cook as the #1 SP this season and Reginald Walker as our #2. The big excitement this season wasn't the additions but that we have the #6 and #8 pick in the draft to help for the future with the likes of Lorenzo Padilla, Heinie Singleton and David Mijares still developing in the minors. We expect to be in the international market as well this season and hopefully more active in the trade market near the deadline.

Cincinnati Reds
Last season was disappointing for the Reds, as we finished 79-83, 11 games out of first. The bullpen was a disaster and the offense was not as good as we had hoped.

This season sees the Reds with an entirely new bullpen, headlined by elite relievers Tomas Fernandez, Sam Hall, Kirk Rolls, and Willie Pulido. Rookie Enny Pineda will provide some length for what is, admittedly a very short bullpen. The rotation has a new look as Willie Parrott and Yorvit Padilla join the team and Akinori Zhang returns from the bullpen to assist holdovers Julian Porter and Al Flores in making this rotation solid.

The lineup is looking like one of the better ones put together in my time in Cincinnati. We’re looking at 6 guys who are no doubt to hit 20 HRs and 2 more who have a shot. We only return 4 starters from last season. Last year’s RF Larry Browning moves into 1B to make room for new RF and leadoff hitter Max Rios. 2B Omar Cordero looks to fill the shoes left by Benj Fox’s FA departure. LF Raymond Harris returns to the scene of some of his greatest seasons to try to help this team take the next step. 3B Edwin Mitchell comes back as well to play 3B. SS Miguel Ramirez, CF Travis Evans, and C Burt Washington round out a really good lineup. The bench play should be spectacular as Alex Hart, Junior Ishida, Kirk Thompson, Nicholas Hughes, Bill Miles and Cy Oliver provide a combination of pop and versatility.

Cleveland Indians
The Indians have redesigned their approach this year and have focused a bit more on run producing hitters while sacrificing some starting pitching. Faced with the career threatening injury to young catcher Al Norton, the tribe went out and acquired through trade, 2 hitting catchers in Elroy Brown and Brutus Anderson (who can also DH). Corner positions were also bolstered by the acquisition of third sacker Quinton Valdes which allows Vinny Day to move over to 1st base where he will share time with another trade acquisition, Calvin Knight. These additions at these 3 key spots will hopefully provide the punch that was absent last season. Middle infield and the outfield remain largely intact and the hope is that 2B Pascual and CF Howard continue to impress and that SS Easley can somehow remain healthy. The pitching staff remains strong anchored by Serrano, Springer and Drabek. The addition of Stump Ball thru trade, should provide some needed depth. Cleveland should be competitive in this always tough division.

Minnesota Twins
After a five year absence, the "old but new" (or new but old, depending on how you look at) management returns to the fold with hopes of getting the Minnesota franchise back on track.

An unproductive off-season had the new management scrambling to fill out the rosters through out the system. The Twins lost five players in the Rule 5 but grabbed three themselves in return. One of those picks, Matt Hartman, will begin the season as the starting 3B.

Adam Parnell and Victor Nance return as they will enter the season as the "1-2 punch" in the starting rotation while Jim Berg will once again anchor the bullpen as the closer.

As for the offense, T.J Payne will have to be the leader for a team that finished 18th in the majors in runs scored. Darby Kaufman will make his big league debut as the Opening Day left fielder while occupying the leadoff spot.

Management is banking on the youngsters to step up and provide a competitive spark on the field. Although some growing pains will be expected, winning 70 games is not out of reach. Doing so would allow the team to consider the season a success and a turning point for future seasons.

New Orleans Jazz
No major moves were made on last season's team. Deivi Lee will have to move to 1B to make room for Jermaine Gorecki at DH. Philip Jackson will be in his 1st full season with the Jazz. The pitching staff will still revolve around Hideki Ni and Felipe Sanchez at the top, with 2nd year man Maikel Castillo, veteran Kiki Aguilar and rookie Bejamin Speier rounding out the rotation. My expectations are for this team to compete for the AL Pennant. We should have an excellent pitching rotation and very good defense supported by an above average offensive team with a bit of speed and power.

New York Yankees
Fresh off a division title the Yankees look to make another run at the playoffs. Gone this season are long time Yankees RF Javier Mercado and DH Jermaine Gorecki. Mendy Delehanty will come up from AA to take the DH spot after a scintillating Spring Training performance. The pitching will continue to rely on workhorse starters Ivan Wise and Dicky Jensen. Terrance Hartman has taken off as the teams closer. If WIlliam Aoki, Randy Washington and Allen Withers produce in the middle of the lineup, the team is poised to make another October run.

Oakland Athletics
This season marks our first foray into rebuilding in Oakland history (season 1 was a bit of a struggle, but its been 13 straight winning years, 12 straight playoff appearances since). That core has aged to the point where we can no longer reload and it is time for an actual rebuild.

Guys like Everett and Rhodes, the heart of our strong years, are still around playing out the twilight of their careers. I fielded a few offers for them but weighed those against the alternative of them retiring playing entire ML careers in Oakland and decided for the latter.

Ramirez (CF) and Christenson (3B) combined for 78 homers last season and they will fill the middle of the order. Both are due for serious regression; especially Ramirez. The offense should be decent even if those guys regress; Everett can still be counted on for a .400 OBP at the top of the lineup and there are some other competent parts throughout.

The pitching should be somewhere between mediocre and awful. The rotation is the mediocre part, the bullpen should handle the awful. I opted against re-signing a few of my mid-30s RPs and waited too long in FA to land solid replacements so there are a few guys in there who could struggle. Fortunately, the always-friendly home stadium should help a bit and RP performance is so unpredictable that we'll see what happens before making any crazy moves.

Philadelphia Phillies
A pretty boring offseason for Philly fans. A very similar squad will be returning in hopes of keeping the division crown for the 6th season in a row. Veteran SP Fritz Gray was added to solidify the rotation and a few minor moves were made to bench and bullpen roles. Hoping to have a strong season in what could be perennial all-star Phil Gao's final season in Philly.

San Diego Padres
This season's San Diego Padres will look very similar to last season's squad as most key contributors return. New faces on offense include Benj Fox and callup Jim Griffey. The pitching staff is expecting a full season out of Rubby Benitez and continued growth from other young pitchers in support of a strong starting staff - Lowery, Ramirez, Wall & Fisher. Depth may be a problem for the Pads' this season as ownership is once again backed up against the salary cap and there is not much in the high minors. Ownership may need to be very creative once again if another trip to the World Series will occur

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

S14 Draft Review

1. RHP Billy Nielsen (NY2)
I don’t typically like using the #1 overall pick on a reliever, but if you’re going to break that rule, this isn’t a bad guy to break it on. He dominates at keeping the ball out of the hitting zone, throws hard, has a dominant pitch and a good one, and won’t hurt himself with walks.
2. RF Austin Finnessey (STL)
A quality pick, Finnessey has power and contact, drives the ball well. He has a solid eye. Good speed. Solid defense.
allright says: Austin Finnessey projects as a sure-fire middle of the order major leaguer. He will hit for power and he has the strength to pull with consistency. He won't walk as much as preferred and he will strike out a lot; but, with his contact/power combination, we want him to swing the bat.
3. 2B Thomas Gattis (LA)
Won’t strike out. Will hit for a ton of power. Dominates LHP, struggles against RHP. Great eye. Tremendous range, not real sure what’ll happen once he gets to it though. Great speed.
4. RHP Cap Jay (TEX)
Throws hard. Has a solid pitch combination. Decent control. Keeps the ball out of the hitting zone.
5. P Tony Koehlert (CH1) – UNSIGNED
tk21775 says: Selected Tony Koehlert who has not signed and Cubs management will probably not meet his new demands. After drafting Mr. Koehlert and getting a better feel for his pitching ability, the Chicago Cubs think they might be able to do better next season after Tony has decided that his initial demands weren't quite good enough.
6. SS Gerald Bogusevic (MIN)
Lacks ideal arm accuracy, but does have solid range and glove. Makes good contact on a consistent basis with a little pop. Does not have a great eye. Very fast.
7. C Al Unamuno (ATL)
Should develop into a solid defensive catcher who can really rake. Good contact and power with a good eye.
kilgore says: The Braves were pleased that catcher Al Unamuno was still on the board when their turn came to pick. His performance at the High A level has turned some heads, and even though he's probably ready for a promotion the Braves will be patient with his development, as they don't anticipate a need at the ML level for another couple of seasons.
8. RHP Scott Ellis (TOR)
Solid control. Dominates RHB, but is average against LHB. Keeps the ball down. Throws hard. 3 Tremendous pitches.
mburgy says: The Blue Jays were elated with the quality and depth of this draft. In all, they believe that they drafted 5 potential ML talent level players. They were even happier that Scott Ellis dropped to them at 8, after ranking him 3rd on their draft board. Should be a solid #2 or 3 rotation pitcher that throws hard and throws strikes. Possesses the ability to have an unhittable slider that will tail away from righties and saw off lefties.
9. SS Guy Voigt (SEA)
The question here is whether his offense is good enough to overcome his lackluster glove at SS. He could very well be a silver slugger SS. Has the ability to be a GG/SS 2B/3B if SS doesn’t work out.
10. C Toby Bolling (FLA)
Very good arm with a decent grasp of the game. Decent power and contact. Dominates LHP. Solid against RHP. Great eye.
mamidu says: Marlins catcher of the future. Projects to be an above avg ML catcher who can hit lefties very well. Should be a solid player.
11. RHP L.J. Irwin (CLE)
Dominant splits. Throws hard and keeps the ball down in the zone. Won’t hurt himself with walks.
abesmem says: With the 11th pick overall, the Indians were very happy to nab L.J. Irwin. While we don’t typically prefer to draft a relief pitcher with a first round pick, Irwin has the stuff to be a dominant closer. He’s a prototypical shut down pitcher that brings a hard sinker/slider that will simply dominate righties and be very tough on left handed batters as well. L.J is already in AA and should be closing games in the majors before too long.
12. RHP Jack Maas (PIT)
Throws hard. Interesting mix of pitches. Good stamina/durability combination. Decent control. Solid splits.
13. LHP Pat Crowe (CH2)
Should have pinpoint control to go along with a great fastball and a good combination of pitches. Splits won’t hold him back at all.
byers61 says: With the 13th pick, the White Sox drafted P Pat Crowe. At first glance, he warrants the pick. Good control and splits, 3 good pitches. A closer look shows the team didn't pay close enough attention. His health makes him a walking time bomb, and his stamina may make it tough for him to start right away to develop to his potential.
14. 2B Clarence Robinson (LAA) – UNSIGNED
15. LHP Tom Little (BOS)
Good control and splits. Throws hard and keeps the ball down. Great pitch combination.
crabman26 says: With the 15th pick in the draft, the Boston Red Sox selected RP Tom Little. Tom is a LHP which will probably ultimately keep him from being a dominant relief pitcher, but he still should be a top 10 RP in the league if he hits his projections. He projects to mid 80's for splits and should rack up the K's with great velocity and a great 1st pitch. The Red Sox are very excited to have a great RP that fell to them in the middle of the first round.
16. RHP Orval Keefe (MON)
Keeps the ball down in the zone. Doesn’t walk many. Better against RHB than LHB. Great pitch combo for a starter.
17. LF Lou Byrnes (MIL)
Good range and glove. Good power and contact. Average splits. Good eye.
s_gammon says: My scouts told me he had the best pure hit tool amongst the college prospects. He’ll hit for average, with power, draw some walks and steal some bases while providing legitimate solid defense in a corner outfield position. Very pleased with this pick
18. LHP Dewey Golub (WAS)
Splits are underwhelming. He’s better against LHB. Great control and stamina. Throws hard and keeps the ball down in the zone. Solid pitches.
19. RHP Jimmie Smith (NY1)
Decent splits. Decent control. Keeps the ball down in the zone. Does not throw hard. Solid pitches.
20. RF Steve Carlyle (CIN)
Will never win a gold glove. Shouldn’t strike out too much while hitting for some power. Should dominate LHP. Good eye. Strong, accurate arm for RF.
21. RHP Hulk Daily (KC) – UNSIGNED
22. LF Troy Lamb (TB) 
Will strike out a ton. Has power. Struggles against RHP. Decent eye. Not a good defender.
23. RHP Tanner Allen (SD)
Good splits. Average pitches. Average control. Doesn’t throw hard but can induce GBs.
24. CF Rymer Pescado (MIN)
Will be a tremendous defensive CF. Average speed. Average offensive player. Good eye though.
25. RHP Shawn Long (WAS)
Throws hard and has a stable of good pitches. Dominant against RHB. Average against LHB. Will walk some guys.
26. 1B Vic Johnson (OAK)
Tremendous power and eye. Will dominate RHP. Slightly above average against LHP. Does not have elite contact ability, but with that power…watch out!
27. RHP Fred Recchio (SF)
A tweener, Recchio has solid stamina/durability and will be a horse out of the bullpen. Great control. Great splits. Throws decently hard. Will give up some taters. Decent pitch combination.
28. 3B Wilt Price (TB)
Lacks the glove to play 3B long-term, he should be a good defensive OF. Decent contact and power. Better against LHP than RHP. Great eye and speed.
29. RF Torey Blanks (BAL)
Does not have the greatest splits, but has power and a great eye. Will strike out a lot. Should play solid defense.
hopkinsheel says: One of the weakest drafts I've seen, but was able to come away with an interesting prospect here who has a good combo of power and eye. His splits are decidedly average so not sure how much of an impact he will have.
30. SS Cooper Davis (KC) – UNSIGNED
31. LHP Alejandro Cayones (SD)
Average control. Good splits. Throws hard. Average pitches. Keeps the ball down. Good durability.
32. SS Tony Tavarez (BAL)
Great range with a very strong arm should offset the relatively weak glove. Good splits with an average eye will help to offset the poor contact and power ability.
hopkinsheel says: If his defensive ratings can get to where they project, he'll be a really solid selection because he has a decent bat for a good defensive SS. If not, then he'll be a utility guy.
33. RHP Carlton Ramirez (MIL)
Lacks control. Decent splits. Doesn’t throw hard. Average at inducing GBs. Good pitch combination.
s_gammon says: Identified as the best college pitcher amongst a weak crop of college starting pitchers. He looks to be very effective against same sided hitters and strong against opposite sided. A great five pitch repertoire and amazing stamina and durability. However, he will struggle with control, has a higher fly ball tendency than I’d prefer in Milwaukee and, he isn’t going to offset those warts with strike outs. Another, quality mid to back of rotation starter.
34. LHP Floyd Maduro (HOU)
Average control. Average splits. Throws hard. Average at keeping the ball down. Intriguing pitch count.
35. RHP D’Angelo Calderon (TOR)
Great control. Doesn’t throw hard. Average splits. Keeps ball down. Solid pitches. Good stamina.
36. CF Eddie Greenwood (NO)
Great range with a good glove. Great speed. Tremendous splits and won’t strike out much. Won’t work the count well either. Lacks any power.
mongoose_22 says: New Orleans was happy to land rangy CF Eddie Greenwood. Our scouts project him to develop into a solid ML level starter. He should be above average defensively in CF with excellent range and a solid glove. He'll be one of the fastest players in the league, with pretty good instincts on the bases as well. With the stick, he'll have almost no power, and won't draw many walks. But he is a switch hitter, with exceptional contact, what should get a lot of infield singles. Scouts also noticed that he really seems to hit RHP significantly better than LHP. Very happy with this choice so late in the draft.

Monday, April 21, 2014

S14 Previews

Anaheim Angels
Angels are hoping that a year if added maturity will help them become a playoff team. Key newcomers are Howard Coghlan and Vic Simas. Alex Alomar leads the same rotation as last year's. IF is Mays, Astacio, Dong and Candelaria. OF is Coghlan, Benett and Little. Houston starts behind the dish and Alex Guerrero is the DH. Stults, Blanco and Tony Guerrero are all key contributors against lefties. The bullpen is also the same except Simas replaces Phillips in the closer role. Injuries killed the offense last year. If Coghlan can effectively replace Theo Matthews, then the Angels could be in for a good year. Lots of great talent in the pipeline, especially Dummy Wagner and Augie Suh.

Baltimore Orioles
Our goal is to repeat as AL East champs and go for a playoff bye. We retooled the roster slightly from last season. A huge loss for us was RP standout Elmer Kozlowski who we always believed was opening to signing another extension and then demanded free agency at the last second. We also shipped out Pauley Hogan (bullpen arm) and Calvin Knight (solid hitter). We imported Vicente Rincon to take over Elmer's role in the bullpen and brought in Edwin Mitchell who we have tried to trade for several times throughout his career.

Another big change for this season will be implementing some strategic platoon lineups where we can. Ed Gold needs to see the field against lefties and Evan King has had a lot of success against righties so there will be a lot of mix and matching this season.

We have three rookies we're excited about, 1B/DH Felipe Maduro who we think will have a killer OPS. Former first rounder Shayne Weaver will make his debut on the ML pitching staff. Alex Chavez also might see some time in the bullpen.

Boston Red Sox
Unlike last off season where Boston made an incredible amount of trades/ moves, this offseason was relatively quiet. Boston turned in a really good second half performance last year and almost snuck in to the playoffs, but a horrible last 8 games where they lost all of them killed the playoff run as well as a .500 finish. This year will hopefully be different. Cal Rogers is back, Chris Parker will be getting his long awaited call up. Boston is also hoping a full season of Texeira and Murphy at 1b/DH will keep this offense rolling. The bullpen is still one of the best in the league anchored by White and Misch, so it’s really going to come down to the starting pitching. If they can give Boston league average production they should vie for a Wild Card spot. If the pitching tanks I can see a 75-82 win season.

Cincinnati Reds
After an 82-80 finish that saw the Reds miss the playoffs for the 3rd straight season, wholesale changes were in order (who are we kidding, wholesale changes are always in order). A late trade saw the Reds ship out top prospect Todd Rusch, SP prospect Rock Nickle, and recently acquired SS Sherm Creek for SP2 Fritz Gray, 2B Benj Fox, and SS Miguel Ramirez. Running out a starting lineup of 1B Alex Hart (.295/.394/.522), LF Brendan Buford (.299/.355/.422; 51 SB), CF Travis Evans (.299/.386/.527; 3th straight 25HR+/40+SB season), 2B Benj Fox (.231/.311/.361; career avg (.274/.347/.472)), RF Larry Browning (.294/.369/.504), C Burt Washington (.293/.400/.487), 3B Quinton Valdes (.261/.353/.365), and SS Miguel Ramirez (career - .234/.304/.375; .982 SS Fldg % w/30 plus plays). This starting lineup should really give some pitchers nightmares. The bench boasts some power with Calvin Knight (39 HR), David Davis (19 HR), and Jerome Norton (20 HR) while having some speed Collin Meyers (69/75 SB in AAA). Pitching-wise sees 3 new starters and 2 returning, Julian Porter looks to rebound from a career worst year in S13. Fritz Gray holds down the 2nd spot in the rotation and is coming off of a solid season. Rex Howard is the 3rd starter, even though he is in decline he looks to produce a S12 instead of a S13. Al Flores has the talent to be a top of the rotation starter for some teams, but produces a solid #4, and Dale Tresh returns to be the 5th starter coming off of a seriously solid season. The bullpen is strong as it boasts several guys who have the talent to be starters but don’t quite meet the talent of the other guys in the rotation. The exciting part of this season is defense…2 weak spots exist as opposed to the usual 4 that we trot out. This season looks to bring the excitement back to the Queen City.

Cleveland Indians
Well, as I write this the Indians have just lost their season opener to the Orioles in what should prove to be a regular occurrence this season. While The Indians do not think we can challenge for the division we do hope to improve off of a rather dismal 72 win season last year. To accomplish this improvement, the Indians will employ the 1969 NY Mets strategy of platooning almost everywhere while throwing some solid stating pitching on the hill every day and hoping for some surprises out of the bullpen and some timely hitting from emerging stars. The starting rotation was rounded out with the free agent signing of veteran Stan Foster. Last year’s weak bullpen was strengthened by the FA signings of J.D brock and Ruben Villalona as well as the trade for setup man Hector Ozuna. The starting 8 will be subject to a great deal of lefty/righty platooning and hopefully there will be more pleasant surprises than nightmares. The early season should see the call-ups of 2 potential key players in Kevin Stoops and Juan Pascual. Both should be solid major leaguers. With some luck, Cleveland could contend for a wild card.

Detroit Tigers
The song remains the same in Detroit: another Series, another loss and another year older. It has come down now to having enough fingers to fill the increasing number of holes in the ****. Out is Julio Guillen who just became too much of a liability in RF, but the bat will be sorely missed. Also leaving will be C Eduardo Ayala SS Stretch Thompson RP Elvis Janssen and RP Andrew Alexander. Newly signed FAs Carlos Ordaz will play LF, John Jung will compete at 3B and Fonzie Upshaw will share time at SS. Juan Aguilera will move back to RF. The pitchers will be replaced by AAA callups or maybe a future bargain pile FA signing. The new Motto in Motown is one more time and we will surely get lucky.

New Orleans Jazz
After a disappointing playoff exit last season, the front office in New Orleans decided to shake things up a bit. Former All Star/Gold Glover Donzell Holmes was traded to Chicago for a young, promising catcher in Phillip DiMaggio. We were very excited to land speedy, veteran Gold Glover Jerome Lanier at a very reasonable price to replace Holmes at 2B. In a cost cutting move, Jesus Bonilla was traded to Philadelphia for reliever prospect Elis Venable. Derrick Coco, after back-to-back All Star seasons in CF at AAA, will get his chance to man that spot at the ML level. His stick is a bit of a question mark, but he should be one of the top defenders at his position. The rest of the incumbent positional starters from last season, will return for this season. On the bench, former 5x All Star and World Series champion Jeremy Shumaker was signed as a super-sub/pinch hitter extraordinaire/insurance policy. While he is 35, and not in his prime, he can play the COF and 1B to give the regulars a rest and fill in very capably in the event of an injury. He is still a very dangerous hitter. The Jazz are especially excited about the pitching rotation, which should be one of the deepest in the AL. All Star potential at the top with Hideki Ni and Felipe Sanchez should be able to match up with any other squad's aces. Rookie Maikel Castillo will get the call up this season. The front office was very happy that the saavy veteran Larry Leach decided to return on a reasonable to year offer to give the bottom of the rotation stability. The bullpen, other than Ned Gold, is a big question mark. It was this area that let the team down during the playoffs last season, and its here that the team is likely to make a move during the season if a move it to be made. All and all though, I'm very happy with the offseason. The team managed to lower payroll, and improve the team which is hard to do. I expect this team to challenge for the division, make the playoffs and, hopefully, win another AL Pennant.

Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies are coming off a 110 win season but a disappointing exit in the playoffs. Almost the exact same team will be returning with hopes of a deeper playoff run. 1B Alex Hart decided to leave via free agency, but Rich Coco should be able to fill the void. Former number 2 overall pick 2B Paco Lee will be making his debut this season and should add some offensive production.

Key Losses: 1B Alex Hart, 2B John Jung
Key Additions: 1B/RF Rich Coco, 2B Paco Lee (prospect), RP Willie Pulido

Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates look like a .500 team at best, as they don't have enough offense surrounding sluggers Nick Helms and Willie Mota. The rotation looks good at the top, but a lack of plus back end starters will likely lead to another disappointing season. The Pirates are the classic example of a team on the rebuild fence, and management's lack of commitment either way has probably set the organization back several seasons.

San Diego Padres
San Diego ownership did the heavy lifting last season and feel that the Padres are ready to contend for a deeper playoff run this season. The team features a stellar starting rotation anchored by Phil Lowery and Hipolito Ramirez. Seth Wall, Gabe Fisher and Rubby Benitez are solid starters and the bullpen returns pretty much intact featuring Mack Lankford, Al Campos, Hipolito Tatis and Yusmeiro Sosa. The core offense of Neftali Barrios, Gerrit Gipson, and Wes Sheehan will be joined by full seasons from Donnie McInerney and Trumbo O’Toole. Carlos Rivera returns from an injury plagued Season 13 and will be joined by FA acquisitions Benjamin Nunnally, Curtis Shelley and Paul Walker in an effort to restore some punch to the offense. There’s not much left in the minor leagues after the in-season pickups last year, but there are some solid prospects at HA that could help out on the ML level if needed. All-in-all, the Padres are looking forward to the challenge of unseating the defending champion Giants from atop the division.

St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals, hapless wonders of the National League, lost in the standings dungeons for too many years, are looking to rise from the ashes. Alas, ahem, and huh uh, it won't happen this year. The bad news is that new ownership inherited a bare cupboard. The good news is that prior ownership did not hamstringing with the budget. So, though the upcoming season does not project to any improvement, budget flexibility bodes well for making some in- season moves that might lead to long term improvement.

Washington Nationals
Last season the Nationals finally ended up with a winning season, albeit not by much. Another off-season of more or less lateral moves, leaves you to believe you can expect right around the same.

Offensively, the team remains largely intact. Which may end up being their downfall if they have playoff aspirations. Domingo Velez and Pepe Nieto had sub-par years last season, and if they can increase their productivity even slightly, that may bode well. Jonathan Nix struggled mightily in his first season in Washington, and if spring training is any indication of what is to come, it will be a struggle again this season.

The rotation will have a slightly different look this year, as Ed Bragg will get his first shot in the bigs. Bernard Hollins tested free agency without success, and came back for less money. He will be relegated to a long relief role. If Bragg ends up being as good as some believe, this rotation could be good enough to get them to the playoffs.

In the pen' after a ragtag bunch of guys held things together for Cookie Alfonzo to close things out, there seems to be improvement. Most notably Justin Mientkiewicz. If he can be a consistent set up man for Alfonzo, this bullpen will be tough on opposing hitters.

Probably looking at a .500 team here once again. They have not been able to make a big splash in free agency and any real impactful prospects other than Bragg are at least a season away.

Top RP - S14


  1. Alex Jiang - SF
    Makes hitting very difficult. Keeps the ball out of the hitting zone. Has a devastating curve and a good FB. Throws hard. Doesn't walk people. SCORE: 84.5
  2. Willie Bonilla - PHI
    Bonilla keeps the ball out of the hitting zone. He doesn't walk many. He throws hard and has a solid group of pitches that he can go to get guys out. SCORE: 83.9
  3. Vin Cueto - BAL
    Cueto keeps the ball out of the hitting zone. Doesn't throw hard, but does keep the ball down in the zone for the most part. Doesn't walk many. Has a devastating combination of pitches. SCORE: 83.3
Best Stuff: Willie Bonilla (PIT)
Fastest Pitcher: Matty Mercado (NY2)
Slowest Pitcher: Cam Shouse (KC)
Best Control: Carter Valentine (MIN) & Al Campos (SD) & Rex O'Donnell (LA) & Norberto Tavarez (PHI) & Bucky Dempster (SEA) & Clay Choo (MON)

Top SP - S14


  1. Kelvim Thompson - SF (149-111, 2.93 ERA, 1.18 WHIP)
    Thompson doesn't have the best stuff of any starting pitcher, but he definitely makes up for that by not hurting himself with walks. He keeps the ball out of the hitting zone and has the arm to throw the ball by a lot of guys. He's solid enough with GBs to help himself out. SCORE: 83.5
  2. Darrell Vitiello - HOU (71-28, 2.90 ERA, 1.14 WHIP)
    Doesn't have best overall stuff, but does have 2 great pitches. He throws hard. Keeps the ball in the strike zone but out of the hitting zone. Decent at getting ground balls. SCORE: 81.9
  3. Adam Parnell - MIN (31-25, 3.80 ERA, 1.27 WHIP)
    A young guy who has truly matured while in the bigs, Parnell doesn't walk a lot of guys. Throws hard and keeps the ball down. His stuff isn't the best, but it's above average. He keeps the ball out of the hitting zone. SCORE: 81.8
Best Stuff: Geoffery Ellis (ATL)
Fastest Pitcher: Guillermo Lee (MON)
Slowest Pitcher: Houston Peterman (NY2)
Best Control: Julian Molina (KC) & Christopher Mays (MON) & Darrell Skinner (MIN)
Top Rotations:
  1. Philadelphia Phillies - 76.7
  2. Kansas City Royals - 74.6
  3. San Francisco Giants - 74.4

Top RF - S14


  1. Kenny Francis - OAK (.303/.359/.527; 244 HR, 1,347 H)
    Francis hits for a high average with good power. He drives the ball. Merely average at working the count. He's a dangerous hitter. Not a good defender as he lacks a strong arm and has below average range. SCORE: 78.6
  2. Bob Osborne - TEX (.280/.363/.563; 183 HR, 635 H)
    Osborne has tremendous power and does a solid job of avoiding strikeouts. He's got tremendous plate discipline. He dominates LHP but really struggles against RHP. He has a really strong arm and solid range. SCORE: 77.2
  3. Larry Browning - CIN (.274/.349/.453; 96 HR, 593 H)
    Browning doesn't have elite power or contact ability and is better against LHP than RHP. He has a good eye. The issue is his defense. He has terrible range, a terrible glove and a merely mediocre arm. SCORE: 76.8
    Michael Blasingame - KC (.308/.400/.518; 321 HR, 2,051 H)

    Not much of a defender, Blasingame makes up for that with a solid offensive repertoire. Makes good contact, decent power. Dominates RHP. Solid against LHP. Great eye. SCORE: 76.8
Best Defense: Doug Osbourne (CLE)
Best Arm: Doug Osbourne (CLE)
Fastest: Mark Frazier (ARI)
Slowest: Esmil Cano (PHI)

Top CF - S14


  1. Travis Evans - CIN (.310/.377/.524; 193 HR, 1,438 H)
    Evans has spent his entire career in the majors for Cincinnati, a rarity. He doesn't strike out much, hits a fair amount of home runs, drives the ball really well. He's got good range and a good glove. He's fast and can run the bases well. He is merely average at reaching base. Should reach 1,500 hits and 200 home runs. SCORE: 81.9
  2. Pat Hickman - HOU (.283/.353/.550; 113 HR, 505 H)
    He's really a SS playing CF. Has good range and glove and a strong arm. He really shines offensively where he has very good power. He's solid at making consistent contact. Good eye. He doesn't strike out too much. Tremendous speed. SCORE: 78.7
  3. Charlie Black - ARI (.287/.389/.432; 93 HR, 965 H)
    Black doesn't have good power, but makes up for that by hitting for average and walking. He does a good job of driving the ball. He's a good baserunner with speed. He has solid range and a good glove. SCORE: 76.0
Best Defense: Jim Long (HOU)
Best Arm: Jim Long (HOU)
Fastest: John Revere (DET) & Rod Lee (MON)
Slowest: Jim Long (HOU)