Sunday, December 22, 2013

Season 29 Preview

Fargo Cats
Milwaukee n/a's - With their third straight division title and getting to their second straight NLCS, falling only one game short of the World Series, most would say it was a successful season in Milwaukee. That was not the feeling you got from within the organization however. Even with slugger Carl Cammack out in the NLCS the expectation was World Series or bust. That rolled over into an off-season with a lot of question marks. Key pitchers Davey Estrada, Jim Allen and Dennis McCartney all were free agents and would have been impossible to bring them all back. McCarteny and Estrada were free to go elsewhere after initial attempts to keep them failed. The n/a's made more of an effort to keep Allen, but their efforts fell short. So in a last ditch effort to keep stability in the rotation, Milwaukee opened the bankbook and brought in former Cy Young winners Paul Gregg and Tuck Haynes. The contracts left many scratching their heads, but will once again put Milwaukee in the discussion of elite teams in Ichiro. Offensively they remain mostly intact. Tsuyoshi Tazawa's great postseason was not enough to secure an extension and he remains a free agent. Louie Alarcon will be asked to fill his shoes. Extension were given to Santo Lopez, Hector Bennett and Yusmeiro Lee. The hope is Lee can bounce back from a disappointing injury-riddled season. Keith Garcia will once again be the ignitor leading things off and Cammack returns as one of the best hitters in Ichiro. Another guy to keep your eye on is Brando Reid, who started slow, but finished strong last season. The bullpen is more of a question mark with the departure of McCartney. Ismael Cerveza continues to be one of the best closers in the league and bounced back nicely after a slow start. Aside from that, it will a fight amongst numerous pitchers. Many of whom have no ML experience. If this teams bullpen holds up and they remain healthy, the new coaching staff has all the pieces of a championship contender. Safe to say World Series or bust once again this season. Prediction: Another division championship and a 95-67 record.

Madison Beavers Predicted Record: 82-80. The Beavers failed to address their biggest need in the offseason - starting pitching. Two trades last season improved the staff but GM Irondawg was unwilling to make big money long-term commitments to some of the more attractive free agents. Making matter worse, division nemesis Milwaukee did. For the Beavers to make a return to the playoffs, they'll need to score early and often and that may not be a problem. Prospects Howard Jenkins and Ismael Bernadina could be ROY canidates. Trade acquision Al Soto also brings his big bat to the lineup that already featured two 40 HR theats in Ed Moustakous and Paul Hoffman. Bench is full of veterans who can hopefully provide some leadership and help off the bench when called upon and the bullpen appears solid. So the pressure in on the starting rotation which looks to be very hittable, especially at the SP4 and SP5 spots. Expectation is to fight for wildcard spot unless a in-season trade or ML ready IFA is added to the rotation

Boise Mountain Hawks Prediction: 96-66 NL Wildcard. Last season's late surge was spurred on by Wunderkind Trenidad Maduro. He vaulted a middle of the road NL offense to the top of the league in his first 100 games. He was the bat Boise was always looking for in each offseason since Letchkins took over. "He has power to all fields whether he bats left handed or right. I can't gush enough how much I love to watch him at batting practice." Boise collapsed in the divisional round of the playoffs with an utter lack of pitching last year. They went out and picked up 9 time Cy Young winner Andres Gomez, (probably the most impressive pitcher to ever take the mound) to help solidify the staff. They also stole longtime rival Felipe Lugo from Madison to help shore up the rotation. Ultimately, Boise's season hinges on the pitching staff coming back into line (I'm looking at you Davis and Chavez) and the offense putting up some monster numbers with Maduro in the middle of the lineup. With a healthy mix of vets and youngsters, Boise will definitely be a team to watch this season and going forward.

New Britain Bombadiers The Bombadiers are now back to their winning ways following a "rebuilding phase" for a few years after a World Series victory in Season 15 and 7 consecutive NL East division championships. It's finally coming together with a deep farm system emerging into the Majors. Allan Michaels (LF) won both ROY and NL MVP at age 21! Domingo Castillo and Javier Rodriguez both finished in the top-5 in ROY voting! Malcolm Burns (SP), Chan Satou (SP), Diego Alomar (SP), and Juan Franco (2B) lead an influx of ML-ready talent over the next 2 years ... so the Bombadiers will continue to grow without investing heavily in the FA market. Russ Gates will provide a talented veteran presence at multiple positions. Wladamir Blasco is the ace the team has searched for and anchors a deep rotation. The bullpen will rely on young talented arms to step up into key roles ... but should be supported by the farm system in the stretch run. 2014 Prediction: 93 wins and NL East Champs

Jacksonville Cubbies
Syracuse Marshals 80 wins
San Juan Pirata

Texas Rangers Season outlook: We will be disappointed if we do not win 85+. Last year we lead the division for a good portion of the year, but faltered after the break. By adding Troy Henderson to our under appreciated duo of Nap Golver (should of gotten some consideration for MVP last year) and Joshua Canseco (perennial all star snub), the offense should be able to hold up. Our young pitching staff has been adequate and is led by Asdrubal Park. This is a tough division as always, but we look forward to the challenge.

Charleston Kyoudai Musu Meri-Kurisamasu from the Mighty Moose of Charleston! This team is in a semi-rebuild stage. With 8 out of the first 80 picks in the upcoming amateur draft the team has the opportunity to reload for the future. The team again should have a solid offense led by All-Star Alving Franco and his 71 sb. A comeback from slugger Phil Brown is needed after he missed a good portion of last season with injury. FA pick ups Bucky Thompson (2b) and Roger Holmes (3b) moving Del Romero to LF should help improve an awful defense. FA pick up Tony Martin should off set the loss of Tuck Haynes or whatever his name was. FA Pedro Santiago could be a big help if the team is still in contention when he comes off the DL. FA signings Fernando Alverez and Don Lim help strengthen the bullpen. If this team can score more runs than it gives up, it will have a chance to win some games. But again Saru mo ki kara ochiru! Prediction 79-82 wins.

Austin Powers Prediction for season 29: Decisions had to be made in Austin this offseason. Management decided to go Billy Beane instead of Brain Cashman letting go of high priced free agents in favor of picks compensations and leaving spots open for youngsters. I would be surprised if we finish over .500. I hope I'm wrong. I also hope we have a deep draft class! Good luck to everyone!

Florida Flame After playoff appearances in three out of the last four seasons including a World Series title, the Florida Flame started the rebuilding process with two mid-season trades last season, including trading future Hall of Famer Tony Ueno. The Flame are not expecting to contend in season 29 but are trying to rebuild around 22 yr old Wascar Barrios and pitchers Davey Scutaro and Watty Rossy, while focusing on the amateur draft.

Las Vegas Hangovers Coming off back to back World Series championships the Hangovers will be hoping for a 3-peat with its aging roster. Returning all starters, the offense will again be led by the big 4 of Magnuson, Stratton, Rosado, Vega (combined for132 hr and 408 rbi). The staff will be counting heavily on a trio of 35 yr olds Trammel (the lifer in Vegas), Palmer, Howard along with reigning Cy Young Slick Kubenka (the pup of the staff at 27) Vegas hopes to avoid the injury bug and make a run at the 'ship. Prediction 94 wins.

Tacoma Method The run down on the Method with a line-up and the pitching all in tact from last season, we should be able to compete and hopefully get that last Wild-Card spot. But, this is why we play the games. For nothing is written in stone. Barring any major injuries, it should be an exciting season in Tacoma, and if not, it may be time to dis-mantle and add some depth. With some much needed parts on the cusp, only time will tell and of course the overall record come the All-Star break.

Sacramento Savages Despite an aging roster, I predict my squad surpasses 85 wins for the 12th season in a row and claims the second wild card spot. They will then get ousted in game 5 of the first round. Eric Hill will some how pitch another year without his arm falling off.

Honolulu Tsunami

Pittsburgh Pounders
Trenton Hazmats
Philadelphia Trappers
Sioux Falls Scalpers Season preview. Rough, rough year in Sioux Falls last year. Nothing went right with the free agents brought in to help the younger players out. We had a rough year with injuries, including key injuries to Smart and Feliz. This year we are looking for the younger talent to finally take that step froward offensively, led by Baez and nice group of core younger players. We have some talent developing in the minor leagues with some promising young pitching. Our rule 5 selection, Richardson, is expected to shore up a terrible bullpen along with free agent signings Robinson and Salmon to help us be more competitive in the later innings. Sioux Falls should be a better team this year, one more draft away from really producing some depth in the minor league system. All in all 73-89 this year for Sioux.

Tampa Bay Black Dogs
Toledo Berserkers Expectations are low in Toledo. This team is simply looking for an identity. Staying out of last place would be a moral victory.

New York FlyingSquirrels Not sure what to expect from the Flying Squirrels this season. The offense will be led by OF Edgar Bonilla, 3B Tyler Hansen and OF D'Angelo Estrada. Starting pitching will begin with Henry Grace who should improve on the 8-12 record from last season. Ezdra Valentin and Jermaine Gonzales will follow in the rotation. Some bullpen depth was added in free agency but finding the right combination will be a work in progress. Overall it should be a decent season for the Squirrels who will be hoping to be better than a .500 team again this season. Help is also on the way from the minors with OF Dwight Cook and 3B Dale Franco probably only a season away or could possibly make the jump sometime this season.

Cincinnati Stingers The Cincinnati Stingers once again appear to be in the midst of rebuilding. SP Tony Newsome, LF Spud Riggs, and 3B Bob Hart were all signed to long term deals in the off season giving this team a good core to build around. Cincinnati fans are hoping young SP's Al Skinner and Ryan Smart can take that next step in their careers as solid middle of the rotation starters while former Cincy relieving greats Luis Rosa and Cody Jensen were brought back as stop gaps in the bullpen to finish off their careers as Stingers. Offensively they will need 1B Lance Bergman to provide some help to Riggs and Hart and hope veteran DH Vic Saenz has one more good year left in his bat. My prediction: 65-97.

Louisville Sluggers This season will see some of our talented prospects make their ML debut. Tim Ojeda (p) will start the season with the big league club. Adding Ojeda will give the team more SP depth. Other prospects on the rise and are expected to see some ML action are Jake Simmons © and Caesar Rivera (DH) and Tony Chirinos (P). Superstar Prospect Flash Shea continues to make improvement strides and is on track. Depending on his development he may make his ML debut next season. Overall we expect to hover around .500 this season. Prediction 82-80.

St. Louis Rovers The St. Louis Rovers are looking to challenge for the top spot in the AL South in season 29 and possibly a World Series run. Reigning AL Rookie of the year Tony Morton, allstars Pasqual Bennett and Felipe Valentin and sluggers Frank Freeman and Tony Ueno lead a potent Rovers offense. The bullpen is anchored by AL fireman of the year Carl Purcell. The big question for the Rovers this season is do they have enough depth in the rotation? Hamill, Maduro and Murphy return, but vets Gomez and Martin are gone via free agency. Jim Allen was acquired thru free agency to take up some of the slack.

Mexico City Borrachos Positive: Team showed in their World Series run last season that when they're hot, they can beat anybody. Negative: An aging team going downhill that likely has missed their chance at winning a title. Prediction: 92 wins, division championship streak is broken but still sneaks into the playoffs.

Kansas City Golden Spikes

Wichita Shockers

Seattle Pilots After a disappointing sub .500 season the Seattle Pilots are in a state of flux. After losing two key bats to free agency from a team that only scored 747 runs last season and replacing them with unproven prospects on top of a rotation with three new starters has left fans with a sense of unease with the direction of the franchise. There are still rumblings of impending trades and the team still has talent at key positions so some optimism is warranted. It's a coin toss as to how the season will go but word is that they could be sellers by all star break if things aren't going well. Prediction 75-87.

San Francisco Begonias Last season, my expectations were to "improve on last season's 89-loss team, and contend in Season 29." I did improve, by 4 games, but we've still got a ways to go to contend. I listed as a positive that I had 5 first-round picks in the upcoming draft. That draft wasn't as successful as I had hoped. I got 2 catchers who may end up at DH, a CF and a SS who have some promise, and a SP who may end up the best of the bunch. Not bad, but not good enough, considering how many picks I had. For Season 29, I have a young team. I picked up a decent RF via free agency, and I have a top catching prospect waiting in AAA. I'll also get the first full ML season from my top SP prospect. And so, my expectations are pretty much the same as last season's: improve on the 85-loss team, and contend in Season 30.

Anaheim Bacteria


Milwaukee 98-64 New Britain 92-70 Texas 85-77 Las Vegas  94-68
Boise* 96-66 San Juan 80-82 Austin 77-85 Sacramento* 91-71
Madison 82-80 Syracuse 79-83 Charleston 77-85 Tacoma 87-75
Fargo 55-107 Jacksonville 63-99 Florida 68-94 Honolulu 51-111

Trenton 91-71 Tampa Bay 100-62 St. Louis 97-65 Anaheim 98-64
Pittsburgh* 89-73 New York 83-79 Mexico City* 95-67 San Francisco 77-85
Philadelphia 73-89 Cincinnati 65-97 Louisville 82-80 Seattle 75-87
Sioux Falls 60-102 Toledo 55-107 Kansas City 77-85 Wichita 64-98

NLCS Milwaukee vs Las Vegas, Milwaukee wins in 7.
ALCS Tampa Bay vs St. Louis, Tampa Bay wins in 7.

World Series Tampa Bay vs Milwaukee, Tampa takes home the title in 7.

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