Thursday, July 26, 2012

Season Previews

Anaheim Angels
Crawford will give a jolt to the starting staff, not the farm system. Sorry about that. Newcomers include Jerome O'Shea, Theo Mathews and Vic Sanchez. Alex Guerrero moves to the bigs. Tito Mays is the new face of the franchise after winning Rookie of the Year honors by hitting over .350 and the trade of Michael Blasingame for Mathews and Sanchez. The Angels feel ready to compete. They have good starting pitching led by R.J.. Manto and Emmitt Williams and Khalil Vining, who was a strong Cy Young candidate last season, anchors the bullpen. Competing in the AL West is difficult, but the Angels finally feel ready. They have great talent coming through the farm system and Trevor Crawford might arrive mid-season to give a jolt to the farm system. If Condrey can stay healthy all season and Johnson in centerfield starts to hit, watch out for the Halos.

Arizona Diamondbacks

The Arizona Diamondbacks have a couple of good hitters Jim Schafer and Paul Dillon and a lot of speed.The pitching staff is the strength of the team. The top starters are Dave Lester and Jack Bush. Candy Martin was last years Fireman of the Year . The top rookies are Bump Davis and Charlie Black. In order to win more games Arizona needs more power in the lineup to drive in more runs. We hope to finish 10 games over 500 this year.

Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles have won six straight AL East titles and look to continue that streak in Season 7. Our biggest move of the offseason was to re sign Geoffrey Rivera to a long term extension and lock him up as our ace. Other than that, the ML roster stayed pretty much the same with some minor changes. We did not feel a huge need to make any big changes as the team finished #2 in fielding, #4 in pitching, and top 12 in hitting and our scouts believe out hitting under performed last season. The O's are still relatively young and financially stable so wholesale changes were not needed. Two rookies could see a debut this season in Rudy Pavlov and Quinton Valdes. The toughest part is getting t the playoffs. Unfortunately we have stumbled in the playoffs so hopefully can get over that hump this season.

Chicago Cubs
Key Losses: Darren Simmons (RF; .250, 5 HR)
Curtis Wolf (P; 7-11, 4.11 era)
Josias Gonzales (P; 10-12. 4.34 era)
Key Additions: Abdul Sweeney (RF; .298, 4 HR)
Yonder Mendoza (SP, call up from AA)
Didn't change much from last year, we still have 4-time NL MVP David Davis with the offense and have some key pieces surrounding him. Injuries hurt last year so if we can stay healthy we should be able to compete again in the very tough NL North. Depending on how the season goes, Davis may be going to another team as he's in the last year of his contract but will re-sign right now.

Chicago White Sox
The White Sox have won 4 division titles in the world's first six seasons, but have gone nowhere in the playoffs. This season, Omar Mercado has to step up and become the ace after a disappointing season. Adrian Barton has come of age and will stick with the big club all year, playing as an outfielder with the team stud entrenched at 2b. The White Sox didn't do much in free agency, only adding pitchers Pasqual Maduro andDerek Combs as last minute insurance bargains. The team will be auditioning rookie CF's if gold glove RF Henry Costellocan't make the shift.

Cincinnati Reds
Following a disappointing season 6, Cincinnati went looking to make changes…the pitching staff contains 6 new members, while the offense remains largely unchanged, with the exception of top-notch RF Braden Kubel being added to boost the middle of the lineup. Last season's #1 pick, Travis Evans will play 2B and hopefully be able to hold his own defensively. Archie Coco goes from LF to CF and last season's ROTY Raymond Harris moves to LF to make room for Kubel. 3B Steve Gil remains at the hot corner and looks to build on another strong season. MIF Hi Jensen, OF Pasqual Solano, and 3B Phil Perez make this one of the strongest benches that the Reds have had. The pitching staff is going to improve on a season that saw them finish 13th in ERA and lead the NL in HRs allowed. The defense should remain middle of the road.

Cleveland Indians
Cleveland will be relying heavily on the continued development of their young stars. Notably, Neftali Barrios in LF, Randy Washington behind the plate, Ebenezer Wells at 3B and most importantly, Nolan McGowan and Julian Porter in the starting rotation. This team will hit, but if the pitching doesn't improve significantly, it will be another long season. The veteran leadership and speed of Bonilla and Larson along with the solid Emil Holliday closing games gives the team good balance. If we pitch even a little better than last year, we'll contend.

Detroit Tigers
After finally clawing up to the .500 mark for the first time in world history, Detroit fans are finally excited to be rooting for a team that should challenge for its division. No easy task since every team in the division looks to be capable of playing at least .500 ball if not better. After years of being the only star player on the team,Juan Aguilera is excited to look around the field and see some young, developing talent surrounding him. Monte Randall , Andrew Alexander , Willie Aldridge and Pat Palmer were some of the top rookies in season 5, while uberprospect Henry Crosby joined fellow rookies Kane Duncan and surprise bullpen stalwart Santiago Benitez last year. The fans are grumbling over GM "Stand Pat" dakar's failure to add veteran help this year. But when interviewed he responded that the cost in terms of prospects or cash was just too high to justify for this season, and that the fans just need to trust in the organizations plans for a long run of sustained success over going fo it all right now. He added that the lineup is nearly in place, and the pitching should be coming in waves at this point. Fans are taking a wait and see attitude, but admit that they like the overall direction of the franchise and the emphasis that has been placed on players with both speed and power, which makes for an exciting brand of baseball.

Houston AstrosFor 4 consecutive season I have been proclaiming my team is ready to breakout and have its first .500 season and each time I am wrong. With that being said, it feels like the time is now. Mosies Gonzalez is in the prime of his HOF career and Rob Tipton should be a solid leader for the rotation. We signed veteran starters Emil Romero and Curtis Wolf to solidify the back end of the rotation. In addition, we have a few middle tier prospects that could end up seeing the majors at some point this season. Look for Adam Hannahan, Ugueth Cortes and Milt Flynn to see some time with the big club this season.

Los Angeles DodgersIn L.A. we are hopeful that this team can get over the hump and finally win a WS. We have traded Mathews and Sanchez and in return received Blasingame and Sewell who we hope will solidify this team and locker room. Mathews clubhouse act was wearing his teammates out and ownership felt they had to make a change. We also hope that our FA signing of Ventrella solidifies the bullpen which was a weakness of the team last season.

Minnesota Twins
Going into Season 7 of the MLB, the Minnesota Twins have some issues to resolve. After posting four consecutive third place finishes, the club can only hope to move up. The Twins had a relatively quiet offseason. A few free agent signings here and there and only one rookie gains a spot on the big league roster. The offense will be led by Ernest Burroughs (27 HR, 48 SBs from the #2 spot) and DH Morgan Taylor (31 HR). Second year player Al Javier is expected to follow up on his 36 HR rookie season with similar production. The offense struggled last season as the club failed to produce any 100+ rbi players. Rookie Darwin Corcoran will be a welcomed addtion to the lineup. After posting back to back 36 HR, 100+ rbi seasons in AAA, expections are high for Corcoran. Pitching has been a weak spot for Twins the past few seasons. The rotation has been in a downward spiral ever since the trade of Cameron Lundquist to Los Angeles in Season 1. The free agent signing of Elvis Janssen is expected to stabilize the rotation. Re-signing aging veteran Alex Simpson should provide leadership in the clubhouse and in the bullpen as he moves from starter to long reliever. Led by closer Slick Williams (39 saves), the bullpen held its own. Williams has now been moved to a set-up role as Cecil Upshaw (another FA signing) has taken over the role as closer. If Upshaw struggles, Williams is more than ready to reclaim the closer role. The Twins will be looking to improve on a third place finish. While the offense is there, the real story will be on how the pitching holds up.

New Orleans Jazz
The NO Jazz have made a series of dramatic early moves (FA signings and impending ML promotions) and have reaped the rewards of expired (questionable) contracts from prior management. Both sides of the ball should be improved:
-3-time All-Star C Ronald Sirotka brings considerable batting skills and veteran leadership.
-Look for him to team with LF Kordell Stanley and DH Mark Feng in a formidable top of the lineup.
-Also on the horizon are the eventual call-ups of Josias James, Napoleon Houston and Mark "The Vangina" Vanguri.
-NO made considerable upgrades to one of the worst pitching staffs in all of modern baseball with the signings of Delanor Prince, Julio Sanchez and Jon Lewis.
-Look for Prince to step in immediately as the new Closer and Sanchez & Lewis to fill holes in the starting rotation or bullpen.
-Also be prepared for the call-ups of Petey Bennett and Mike Morris as well as possibly a few more rookies.
NO holds the #1 overall draft pick and some other top prospects such as Donzell Holmes and Darrel Vitriello who should be ready to make an impact by season 8 or 9.
New York Yankees
Years of losing have not taken the optimism out of the Yankee organization. With the addition of Brian Greenwood to the line up, a healthy Allen Withers, and a return to form of Hacker Mercado the Tanks hope to score a lot of runs. After Dicky Jensen and suprising rookie Bobby Phillips the Yankees may also give up a lot of runs.

Philadelphia Phillies
After two consecutive division championships in the woeful NL North the Philadelphia Phillies will be looking to stay in contention by relying on their minor league system. Sullivan and Bailey will be looked upon to lead the offense once again while Denny Andrews will be relied upon to lead the pitching staff. Stud prospect Sam Phelps is a season away but could be a late season call up depending on the playoff race.

St. Louis Cardinals
Despite a second place finish, the Cardinals are mired in mediocrity at 76-86 and did little to improve their standings over the winter. The team was unable to sign any significant free agents, nor were they able to peddle any of their top hitters to other teams. The result is another year of finishing below .500 in a competitive division. While it’s true that Busch Stadium depresses hitting, fans are even more depressed over the Cardinals lack of offense. The club finished second to last in runs scored, and are mired in the bottom three clubs in nearly every major statistical category. That’s a shame, because a decent staff of starting pitching from top to bottom gives them the opportunity to win each night. The club finished tied for third in most major pitching categories. The Cardinals signed three stop-gap free agents, while losing out on a highly coveted pitcher that went well over what they were willing to pay. Two of the additions bolster the pitching staff. None are truly difference makers. Should the team not get off to a hot start, expect the club to move a veteran or two to a contender.


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