Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Roster Review: Dover Rabid Dogs

We're adding a new feature to the previews this year - more detailed roster reviews of a few teams (the biggest off-season movers or interesting contenders probably).  We'll re-publish these in the "Season 31 Outlook" section of the previews.

Dover certainly qualifies as one of the biggest off-season movers.  A "successful season" is nothing less than a World Championship, and right now they have to be the odds-on favorite to be the NL rep in the Series.

The attack is built around the Big 4 power bats of RF Woody Reagan, LF Takahiro Hasegawa, 2B Bartolo Cela, and C Carlos Martinez.  That's 4 very strong power + on-base guys right in the middle of the lineup.  3 righty bats, but Cela and (especially) Reagan feast on RH pitching, so there's no point trying to play matchup games with them.

It's bizarre thinking of Ken Woods as a "complimentary" hitter, but on this team, at his age, he is.  He's still capable of on-basing .430 (or more), so he's the perfect leadoff or #2 man for this team (playing 1B).

The other important offensive compliments are Freddie Suzuki and Manny Saitou.  Suzuki is a ++ on-base performer for such a good defender, and could be a leadoff man as well (he runs better than Woods, so the top of the order wouldn't be quite so one-base-at-a-time with Suzuki there).  Saitou would be a starter on most teams, and probably is the primary DH and RF/LF/1B backup.  He's a power/on-base hitter in the mold of the Big 4, just not as proficient.

At the moment, they have 2 "holes" in the lineup - whichever of SS, 3B and CF Suzuki doesn't play (Harry Estrada was a pretty strong contributor at 3B last year with .277/19/89, but moving him also freed up $7.25MM in cap room).  It's less true now than it was in the old (Steroid Era) days that "you can't have more than 1 hole in your lineup (usually SS)".  Certainly with the rest of their hitters, the Dogs could go with guys like Brentz, Guerrero and Innoue at SS and CF.  But it wouldn't surprise anyone if they dealt for one more big stick.


It obviously starts with the 2 aces, Santos Eovaldi and Louis Wilson.  There's about 470 quality innings right there, and more importantly, a huge chunk of your playoff innings.  A 2-ace duo can dominate playoffs like no other position(s)...a phenomenon I'm sure kdfan is counting on.

I expect the rest of the rotation to be Chun-Lim Xaio (although they shouldn't bank on 225 innings of 3.47 ERA again), Ernie Gaudin, and (shortly) Aurelio Borbon, Season 28's #21 overall.  Perfectly good for the regular season, and 1 of the 3 will emerge as the preferred #3 starter for the playoffs.

The bullpen likely sets up with Jose Palacios as the lockdown late-innings guy (100 innings or so) and Derrin Duncan and Alfredo Osoria the main setups.  If there's a weakness on this team, the 'pen is probably it.  Duncan seems immensely talented, but thus far hasn't delivered.  He did at least get lefties out during the regular season, but failed at that job in the playoffs.  Likewise, Osoria seems talented  (and can throw a ton of innings), but posted a 7.50 ERA in his minor-league career.  Palacios is excellent, but lefties hit .279 against him last year (probably only relevant should they face the lefty-heavy Las Vegas lineup in the WS again).


Last year they were pretty good on defense...about league average fielding percentage and among the better teams on +/- difference (+53).  Pending any other moves, they'd project about the same this year.  Suzuki played mostly CF last year and was a + defender there (although he'd be Gold Glove caliber at 3B).  Brentz/Guerrero is adequate at SS.


We know the Dogs inquired about other hitters in the off-season, but so far the price has been too high.  Durham's Joshua Monahan has to be high on their list...one of the league's top-hitting and top-defending 3B's, and a new 4-year contract would expire right about the same time as the contracts of Dover's prime hitters.  Can they afford him?  GM doume may have moved the team from the worst hitters parks in Hobbs (Burlington) to one of the best (Durham) specifically to pump up Monahan's offensive numbers (and trade price).  Then again, Durham's roster doens't look too far away from Wild Card contention.

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