Going to need to evaluate the defense and restock the farm or this team will get old very fast. They should have the money to pursue a high end starter and they will.
Tucson will spend the off-season shedding some payroll to they can work on improving the farm and get back to playing for the future. It's never fun when the largest payroll in baseball finishes near the bottom of the league. Gone are exiled pitchers Howard Handworth and Brandon Murray. Along with Nomadic OF Charles Coles (13hr 76rbi) and Journeyman SP Max Milliard (9-12 5.93ERA). Milliard and Coles will find work elsewhere, both still have enough left to spark some interest in the league for the right price. Also gone are waived former all-star 2B Mendy Barfield
CF Tex Ashley (R), RP Mule Swann (L), SS Willie Tavarez (R), and C Dan Hoyt (R) are all looking to get a raise through arbitration. All should be retained and should compete for their positions. Though taverez has found himself replaced by waiver wire pick up Louie Rodriguez who brings similar skills to the table.
The Cowboys are like a community center softball team, no one really plays defense and everyone swing for the fences. The difference is Tucson's players are capable of hitting the ball well past the fences. Back to back league MVP Juan Estrada will be back leading this potent attack. His recently signed 110M deal seems well worth the investment. As he is the model of a consistent superstar hitter. Batting .308 with an average of 48 HR and 150 RBI each season. Babe Ruth has nothing on this guy. Surrounding him are 5 tool guy Vic Castilla (19hr 108rbi and 73SB) and 2B Mendy Barfield (26HR 85RBI 13SB). Add in additional bats Roger Iannone in Right Field and Catcher Yorvit Cortes and you have a killer first half of the order. CF Jose Frias sat out most of the year with a ribcage injury. His bat had been good for an additional 25Hr and 35SB a season. He will be welcomed back to the lineup with open arms in S19. LF Prospect Bernie Jacquez looked very capable of taking Coles place in the field and the transition should be very close to seamless. Jacquez combines solid speed and pop to be a solid candidate for a 20/20 guy next season, if he can develop his base running. SS Barney Forster might be the only concern returning. While showed he was more than capable at the plate batting 26hr and 96RBI, He plays a poor man's Defense at shortstop. Tucson might look to shore up the defense this season and tone down the offense. Tucson surprised many by exposing 2B Mendy Barfield (26HR 85RBI 13SB) to the waiver wires, as a result Barfield took his contract to Durham to play this season, opening up payroll and 2nd base in Tucson.
Long Time franchise starters Ray Wright and Phil Chapman both are coming off down seasons. Both also have not been nearly as effective being moved up the rotation and facing better opposing pitchers. New pitchers Jimmy Day and Max Estrada both struggled in their 1st seasons in Tucson. Key has been a workhorse for Florida the past 10 seasons and losing never seems to bother him. Estrada has bounced in and out of the starting rotation at most of his stops, looking to get a permanent job. Estrada performed so poorly in St Louis that they gave up on him after 10 games in S18 and traded him to Tucson where he recovered enough to post a 5.67 ERA in 21 starts. Wild man Jorel Stanton looked horrible in mop up work in S18. He could be in the running for the final rotation spot.
The Pen could be going into S19 as one of the best Rookie prospect Tom Forrester looked great coming out of the bullpen and should move up to a bigger role in Long relief as the season progresses and only get better as his skills develop. Another rookie, Cody Millwood, took his knocks and came out looking pretty good as well. He will also be a huge anchor to the pen. The closer could be a closer by committee with 3 strong candidates, incumbent closer Jose Lopez, former closer Gerald Christenson, and Santiago Valdez. All showed closing power and lights out ability. The wildcard will be Grant Waltman, who struggled to find his pace in S18. His 7.83 ERA in 66 innings is unacceptable. He will need to figure out what went wrong if he hopes to have a place on the team in season 19.
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