S18 record: 50-112
Finish: Fourth place, AL East
2010 final payroll: $78.5 million
Estimated 2011 opening day payroll: $73 million
3B Alberto Beltre- age:33 (.244 16hr 52rbi)11.4M comes off the books through free agents.
1B Al Richards (25), 2B Jose Duran (24), C Louie Li (27), RP David Suzuki (R) will all be looking to get raises this season. Richards might be the only one worth long term value of the bunch. His injury history though has limited his value though and it is unlikely his body will be able to withstand a full season of punishment. Suzuki has never found a home in Durham and might get a chance to test free agency this season before getting arbitration with the Bulls. Li is coming off a career season, but his fit might be better at DH than calling the pitches.
Durham needs to address a weak rotation, signed a veteran catcher and sign a solid center fielder. A little more pop in the order would not hurt things either.
The season 18 preseason trade of Theodore Grace marked a new era for the Bulls. Grace was the centerpiece for the Bull's lineup but knowing they would not be able to compete and working into his 3rd year of arbitration they decided to move him. The same fate was bestowed on Long Time reliever Pedro Ortiz.
The Bull's have a young star corp in the making led by SS AJ Rollins, his play at Short along with his superior hitting will earn him an All-star nod soon enough. Utilityman Miguel Franco looks to be the hands down selection for 3B for S19. His bat showed flashes of potential and once he gets his batting average on track he might be a fine middle of the lineup hitter. S19 will be the real test for him. The Bulls also gave fans a preview of S16 #1 pick (#3 overall) LF Emmanuel Horton. Fans and Bull's Front Office had to like what they saw in this speedy young man. Once he gets the game figured out, he might be the premier leadoff man in the AL.
Veterans like CF Germany Barker, 28 (signed through S21 for 6M) and RF Johnny Power, 31 (signed from S19 4.4M) might be looking at trade block or position changes. Barker's contract might limit his value, but he might be a superior 2B with his weak CF defense being a huge factor.
Bulls Pitching has been horrible for the last several years. The Bulls In recent years have brought in a number of talented pitchers only to watch their careers fizzle in a Bull's uniform. This season the Bullseyes will be throwing out a rotation led by Jimmie Eusebio, 31 and Pat Wight. Both have had success in their careers in other market, but have shown poor records in Durham. Eusebio signed a 41M 4 year deal back in S16 and has compiled a 16-42 record going into his final season. He should get a little more offensive support this season, but he still has an ERA that is 2 points higher than his career ERA outside a Bull's uniform.
Pat Wight spent his career in long relief before joining the Bulls on a 3 year 15M contract in S17. He has shown flashes and does belong in the rotation in Durham, he could be better if he went with a better pitch count in S19. His 3-14 record last season disguises a player who pitched fairly well.
Damian Carter( signed through S19 4.4M) isn't the pitcher who won 18 games back in S17 anymore., But he's a solid pitcher who can pitch the win games. His confidence in Madison was lost last season where he posted a dread 9/62 ERA in 9 starts. He recovered nicely in Durham and compiled a 7-11 record in 23 starts.
The other 2 rotation spots are up for grabs between Vince Sheets (Signed s19 3.3M), who might be a great Long reliever, AAAA Trace Vitiello.
The pen is in fair shape. Long Relief seems to be an asset with Sheets, Quinn Hollins (23), Julio Vargas (33), Jesse Clark (33), AAA Joey Owens (25) and Espinosa (35) via for Innings. There might be congestion here or an opportunity to tandem a few guys into rotation. The setup had found success with waiver claim Benny Miller and old standby Jose Perez setting up for rookie closer Cyrus Siddall. Siddall will need to improve his 6.20 ERA if he wishes to keep his job.
The pitching is still saddled by bad contracts notably to Pedro Espinosa (6M through S19), but not enough to limit this teams movement in the off season.
With young talent core of prospects, along with the most skilled shortstop AJ Rollin in the AL and great promise in left field (Emmanuel Horton), third Base (Miguel Franco), and a few sparks still in the minors in OF Bonk White (AA), SS Woodie Gross (AA) the Bull are gathering momentum. Their days on 100 loss season's might be a thing of the past . With a little luck, an improved rotation, and a healthy lineup, they'll contend in a few seasons.
Summing It Up With a Quote
"100 Losses, what me worry!"- Bull's Bench Coach