Friday, May 6, 2011

NL/AL South Preview


Memphis Amon-Ra- returning basically the same team from season 19 minus 2 starters in Eugene Walker and Jimmy Christiansen. Both 5 years ago would have been huge losses at this point it is time to look elsewhere in Memphis. It will not take a lot of cash to plug the holes and make this team a near 100 win team. Watch for them to use some of the freed up Walker money (18.1M) and go after a big name to protect oft-injured CF James Jefferies. The pitching staff somehow always gets the job done, though they lack a natural ace and should look a lot worse on the mound than they do, credit the coaching for putting these guys in the right place to win.
Projected Finish: 1st Place 99-63
FA Rumors: CF'ers Heath Peterman and Candy Zoltan could be a good fit

El Paso Massacre at Two Pines- Hi Telgheder looked solid in mixed relief last season, but at $20M you hope to have him starting and winning. Hi isn't that player anymore and his best use might be out of the pen throwing flames after the 5th inning and closing games. The pitching staff in general is veteran talent, but really needs another Hi to tandem him with to complete the rotation puzzle. C Eddie Duncan is not elite, but is a nice role player who should be resigned. The offense is a solid group and with some tweaking could be very competitive in the NL.
Projected Finish: 2nd Place 84-78
FA Rumors: SP Ray Wright and Everett Ritz could get a couple looks El Paso also should take a flier on closers Albert Rincon and Neil Young

Charlotte Knights- one of the better intact pitching staffs with a combination of veteran skill and up-and-coming talent. They have a number of offensive and defensive holes which will need to be addressed in the off-season. Look for Charlotte to make a run at one of the elite CF free agents such as Candy Zoltan or Heath Peterman. One of those guys will change the look of this offense in an instant. Also look for Charlotte to give a pair of kids a shot at starting this season with both LF/1B Thomas Kipling and Rp Andrew Bacsik ready to go. Kipling could be an above average option at 1B and eventually replace Miranda at LF.
Projected Finish: 3rd Place 80-82
FA Rumor: Peterman, Zoltan and Catchers Yorvit Cortes, or Wascar Solano would be nice pieces.

Tampa Bay Guls- the Tampa Bay Guls are not as bad as last season's record indicated. They have a better pitching staff than last season's league worst ERA and record indicates, though they are far from upper half of the league. Tampa sits at the crossroads of baseball they can go big and try to burst out of the hole, or they can play for the future with a chip on their shoulder for the future. Looking at their talent level and farm system, it might be best to crack out the lipstick and apply it to this pig. A few short-term fixes and a long range plan would turn this franchise around in 2-3 seasons and put this team on the map again.
Projected Finish: 4th Place 68-94
FA Rumor: shortterm contracts nothing more than 2 years fillers to get the team through the rough patch


Houston Stone Cold Killers-
Plenty of firepower to outman the competition. Houston had an unexpected early exit from the playoffs after winning 99. Young and fit the offense can do almost everything that is asked of them at any given situation. The pitching staff is helmed by a pair of inexperienced hurlers Tony Sweeney and Brian Iwazaki, both would be better off being down a spot in the rotation and having another guy ahead of them to lean on in the huge games. Pitching itself in Houston is holier than Swiss cheese. Although there isn't one weak player there is a very definite lack of depth to work with. A big decision needs to be made about Daisuke Yoon's future after spend a season in AAA to work out mechanics issues. Is he a guy who can help in the pen or still a huge head case?
Projected finish: 1st Place 96-66
FA Rumors: SP Ray Wright or Everett Ritz might be in the mix, but they could settle for cheaper option Willie Hamill

San Juan Saints: Not a lot of room in payroll to make many moves if any of significant. Lost a few role players and one starter in Brian Mouton, but all the parts are replaceable. They are going to miss Sean Swan and his bandaged knees on the bench, because someone will take a chance on those rickety knees and give him a shot for value. San Juan will need to somehow find at least an insurance pitcher and 1 more defensive guy for the bench at almost no cost; they could look to the farm and bring up Utility SS Tyler Boyd who held a similar role in S18 for their World championship team.
Projected Finish: 95-77 2nd Place
FA Rumors: Going to look for a last minute bargain pitchers to have just in case, going to back and see who falls to them.

Texas Tornadoes: Looks to return mostly the same team and should give Texas roughly the same results. The team has elite hitters in the heart of the order led by 3B Aurelio Espada and SS Jared Malone. But there is a lot of youth that are growing into their positions including Malone. There are also a lot of defensive black holes in the field that will make the young and growing pitchers look worse on paper than they might with an average defensive team. The pitching staff could develop to be one of the top 5 in the AL very soon.
Projected Finish: 86-76 3rd Place
FA Rumor: They have to have their eyes on a closer like Neil Young to move Benito Cortez out of the role where he struggled in S19 and back to the setup role he has thrived in.

Richmond James Gang- have to be considering bringing make2B Joe Norton or have another option at 2B or CF in mind. This will be a very huge hole in the defense if they can't find the right guy. There is a need for this guy to be able to drive in runs and offer a little damage at the plate. Scott Rose is also a ghost of a player and might be offer a better legacy off the bench than as the starter at 3B. Losing C/DH Johnnie Richie might be a huge loss for another team, but in Richmond it is a position of strength. They might look to resign him if they do a sign and trade with another team. Pitching in Richmond has been a train wreck. Beyond Ruben Alonso the rotation is piecemeal. There will be moments of brilliants from a few, but mostly disappointment. Last season's experiment with Ubber reliever Lonny Uribe had mixed results. He started 56 games and pitched well but averaged only 3 innings a start and didn't seem to make a lot of difference. His biggest asset might be coming in from the 6-8th inning and closing the door. Richmond will have to invest in starters for that to be a reality. Uribe is more of a luxury that they have teams love than a player a have-not team works around. His value may never be higher and his best asset might be being traded away for the pieces this team does need. A lot of farm decisions to make with guys sitting in AAA who might be able to contribute now but are blocked. Love to see RP Tony Matos get his spotlight this season.
Projected finish: 74-88 4th Place
FA Rumors: they can afford to go after any of the top starters, but might settle on fillers as they have a few farm hands that will be ready to roll in 1-2 seasons. Led by S17 #3 picks Javier Gonzalez. Look for them to make minor moves for 3B Carlos Feliz (R) CF Sean Swan (R) 2B Max Leary (L) SP Jeremy Linden (L) SP Pablo Javier (R)

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