Gone is LF Hugh Prokopec,. Signing him for a year deal would allow for some flexibility. Now if the Butchers can get that done is another story entirely., He stole 48 bases a season after stealing 73. He needs 57 to be the 2nd player to break 1000. If he returns to Santa Fe I'm not sure if he would be anything more than a 4th outfield, it might be tough for him to get that milestone in 1 season here.
3B Julio Amezaga Still has some pop in his bat, but needs to take that skill elsewhere as the door is all but closed on his chapter. In his place is newly acquired J.P. Melendez. Claimed off the waivers from Pawtucket, Melendez should be a more consistent bat for the lineup, but will over less power. He's not a superstar but for a 2 year deal he could hold down 3B for the team. C Trenidad Beltre signed a 2 year deal with St Louis, leaving a huge vacancy in Santa Fe.
SP Eduardo Mercado coming off a huge 4 year 19.2M deal signed a new 3 year deal to lock him up until he turns 34. He might not be a superstar pitcher, but he has been a consistent workhorse for Santa Fe for the past 4 years. Newly signed RF Jung-Lee Suzuki adds a solid bat to the batting order, he is a competent runner and would be a nice late order bat to the lineup. He is not a game changer but a great sidekick for a superstar. Free agent pickup Orlando Hernandez will get a chance to compete for a rotation spot in season 19, at 3.2M he has been given a hefty contract for a guy who has never pitched above AAA. The bullpen added Cap Rose who pitched sparingly in season 18 and will look to earn his 2 year 3.2M contract. He is a former closer , but should find his comport in middle relief in Santa Fe. Joining Rose will be Richard Martin who is coming off a bad season 18, where his ERA was north of 7 on the season. With a 2 year 3.6M deal he will need to show he can pitch closer to his Season 16 and 17 numbers in Norfolk than last season.
Rule 5 brought a number of guys to the team including SS Billy Harris (DUR AA), SP Hector Diaz (DUR AA), 2B Bill Little (NY2 AAA) 3B Jose Barrios (MAD HiA). Of the group Barrios has the most potential and should see the most time in the ML.
Many of the aging veterans are flying the coup this season. The Butchers still have a leadoff type hitter in CF Tommy Parrish, a nice #2 hitter in Lance Mann and one of the game's better cleanup guys in Johnny Stroud. Stroud came to the team last season in a salary move by the Knights, a move that SFE was ecstatic about. Stroud is still good for 30 hr and 100 rbi a season and will likely be moved to the 3rd spot in the order to maximize his at-bats if a solid 3 whole hitter isn't found. Parrish has the speed to be near the league leaders each season. His 63 stolen bases last season ranked in the top 10. Lance Mann could be looked at to add 10-15 stolen bases to his totals if the butchers wanted to let him lose. Mann is deceptively good on the base paths. The Butcher's might not be overly anxious to resign Prokopec when they have a similar player like LF Alex Kwon at AAA. Kwon is only in 3rd pro year so he still has growing to do. At 21 there is plenty of time not to have to rush him, but as Dr. Phil might say If the Horse in the yard, feed it some hay.. If the car is in gear, put your foot on the gas" something like that. Another prospect to watch for is 13# overall pick in season 16 Blade Duncan who looked good in AAA with a .314 24hr and 13SB.
20 million dollar man Hi Telgheder still was dominant in Season 18 in the rotation, but scouts predict his arm is no longer able to work the 100-115 pitches needed to complete a game. He might find himself exiting earlier this season. At 20M a season you need to put him in the rotation and let him win you some games even if he might be only giving you 6 or 6 innings now. #2 man Calvin Coco could also be considered by most in the league to be pretty elite. 2 season of 16-7 ball with a sub 4 era prove he will win you some games. For their #3 starter St Louis again pulled a solid talent from the waiver wire heap. This time from St Louis landing Jesus Azocar who struggled in season 18 in St. Louis with a 5.07 era with an OBA of .286. For the Butchers things turned around and he posted a2-0 record in 5 starts with a 3.35 era and a .235OBA. The 4th and 5th spot appear to be an open battle between Thom Costello, Wascar Martin, Nolan McFeely, and Albert Flynn. Martin has the best shot of something out of spring with a rotation spot, but last season's poor performance in the rotation ( 6.12ERA and a OBA of .312) still is fresh in the butcher's fans minds. The others are AAA or less talent which has been filling holes in the Big leagues until talent arrives.
The bullpen is one of the shallowest groups in the league. They struggled through season 18 and if they stand pat. This group will be the end of any Butcher wins. Fans have to be frustrated with having a starting rotation that averages almost 2 runs less than the pen. Piper Mathews made a fine name for himself as a closer, but he just isn't that good. The butchers will need to improve this area if they dream of playoff gold. The farm is pretty barren they will need to look at Free Agency to make a move.
If the Butchers can land a high caliber 3B and fill out the pen with competent relief talent they should make a run for the division and at least a wild card slot again.
Summing it up with a Quote:" it is not true that Piper Mathews will be entering to, Do You Really Want to Hurt Me, by Culture Club" - Pitching coach Ismael Gil