Thursday, June 2, 2016

AL East Season 31 Preview

Huntington Fire Blitz

Season 30: 118-44, won Division, advanced to ALCS and lost to Las Vegas

Season 30 In A Nutshell:  Everything broke the right way all season, right up to the ALCS. The hitters bombed it all year, the pitchers threw aspirins, the fielders grabbed everything hit in their general directions.  A great year with a frustrating end.

Season 31 Preview

See Roster Review: Huntington Fire Blitz

Last Year's Preview:______________________________________________________________

"Breakthrough" Means:  Making the World Series.  Huntington will win this division by 20 games and probably at least 100 games.  They have it all.

To Do That They Have To:  Show up and get a little lucky.  They match up well with any other AL team.  

This Team Is Built On:  A bushel of stars.  
B.C. Alfonzo, Lewis Gilkey, Tommy Webster, Hanley Welsh, Kurt Marte, Mark Martin, Shane Philips and Fausto Rodriguez.  The players listed in my previews aren't random.  They are above a certain number on my rating scale Huntington has the most of any team I reviewed.

Player to Watch:  Fausto Rodriguez.  No good reason except he is one of my favorite players.  If I had him he'd be closing for me that moment.

Trades traded ML SP Ramiro Lira for ML IF/CF Bobby Michaels

traded ML RP Enerio Tatis for MiL IF/CF Hanley Chase and MiL RP Wally Amaya
traded MiL C Ken Jay, MiL 2B Steve Moses, and ML SP Kevin Hong for ML RP Fausto Rodriguez
traded ML C Ismael Vidal for ML OF Hanley Welsh 

Free Agent Signings

RP Kurt Marte, 3B Oswaldo Alberro, C Jerry Nicholson, RP Mark Martin, 2B/OF Lewis Gilkey

Durham Dark Monsters
Season 30:  69-93

Season 30 In A Nutshell:  Another good-pitch, not-much-hit season for the Monsters.  

Who's Out?
Mustain Stadium and the Burlington fans

Who's In?
Durham Bulls Athletic Park and the Durham fans
Season 31 Preview
The Monsters will be one of the most-watched teams of the early season, as fans, press and paparazzi follow the move from the biggest (former) park in Hobbs to the smallest. Monahan is certainly licking his chops, and the rest of the lineup backbone (1B Eddie Harvey, DH Vicente Rodriguez, CF Bernard Clifton, and RF Benji Almanzar) actually looks pretty good in light of the new surroundings.  The big question:  Can the staff (pretty dang good...4.04 ERA last year, 4th in AL) adjust to the new digs (i.e. throw more sinkers).  Of the rotation, I'll predict Leon and Webster will be OK;  Brooks, Miller and Duran get mauled.  Seems like a better than 70-win team...they get to 81-81 this year.  Monahan finally gets his MVP.

Most-hazed rookie in all of Spring Training:  Teddy Furbush

Last Year's Preview:______________________________________________________________
"Breakthrough" Means:  Making the playoffs.  My favorite line in Clueless is when Alicia Silverstone's Cher calls the late Brittney Murphy's Tai "not completely unfortunate".  The Dark Monsters are the same.  They have perhaps the league's best player and a lineup that will score some runs, but not nearly enough pitching.  I'd predict a WC #2 for the team, but what is this, Kentucky? 

To Do That They Have To:  Get pitching.  If this team goes 70-92 its because their team ERA is 5.00.  They'll score runs, but can they prevent them?

This Team Is Built On:  My not-so-secret boyfriend 
Joshua Monahan.  He's amazing.

Player to Watch:  Bernard Clifton.  Monahan will do his Superman thing, but Clifton will need to put up 800 OPS with steals to give Burlington to compete.

Free Agent Signings

SP Tony Duran

Chicago Capone's
Season 30: 84-78

Season 30 In A Nutshell:  Nice 8-win improvement and stayed in the Wild Card hunt until the season's last series.  

Who's Out?
SP Al Servet, RP Alvin Timlin and a bunch of others of little consequence

Who's In?
SP Bonk Maroth probably the biggest addition
Season 31 Preview
On offense, watch young COF's Jacob Sheldon and Addison Oropesa...both are capable of nice power but also uninspiring OBP's (Sheldon actually provided exactly both last year). Looks like Vlad Henriquez is moving from DH to C this year to get more pop in the lineup (they lean toward D at SS, 3B and CF).

Outside of Eury Galarraga, the rotation looks shaky but seems to get the job done (well, 2 or 3 of the rotation are new this year, so we'll see).  Pasqual Hernandez has been excellent in short relief in his 5 ML seasons.

Is there a chance they make a run at Huntington?  I don't think the OBP's for Sheldon and Oropesa - that will predict their Wild Card status.

Last Year's Preview:______________________________________________________________
"Breakthrough" Means:  AKresser comes back for a second season.  The rebuild since the surprise World Series title has been uneven and Chicago just doesn't have enough pitching. and only Addison Oropesa and Pasqual Hernandez really excite me.

To Do That They Have To:  They aren't projected to be terrible, just a little hopeless. If things go well, they stay healthy, and they get a little lucky in the draft/IFA they could have something to build on.

This Team Is Built On:  time.  I don't have a lot here. 

Player to Watch:  Addison Oropesa is fantastic.  He's going to be an all-star multiple times in his career.


traded IF/CF Freddie Suzuki for IF/CF Tony Veras
traded ML SP William Mather and ML OF Manny Saitou for SP Carter Robinson and MiL 1B Gaylord McIntosh  

Free Agent Signings

RP Alvin Timlin, OF Vlaidmir Henriquez, SP Doug Kaline, SS Yordano Mota, SS Michael Keisler, SP Groucho Donovan, SP Steve Lohse

Indianapolis The Next Episode
Season 30:  69-93

Season 30 In A Nutshell:  Pretty good showing for Year 1 of Turnaround

Who's Out?
Most of the significant house-cleaning was accomplished via trade last year, although a number of miscellaneous spare parts departed this off-season.  After making about 65 trades last off-season as the Started At The Bottom, The Next Episode went trade-less this preseason.

Who's In?
Couple of rookies of some note - DH Mule Byrnes (Sea 27 #29) and CF Ezequiel Neruda (Sea 25 IFA by Santa Fe, via New Orleans)

Season 31 Preview
So when the smoke cleared last season, what kind of future talent had Indy accumulated?

From trades: SS Derek Cammack, RP Felix Figueroa, Neruda, SP Quintin McGowan, RP Cory Caxito, SP Phil Newfield, SP Phillip Nunnally, SP Al Benitez, RP Yimi Arcia.  From draft: SP Vic Merced.

Put that together with superstar Darren Walton and some of their holdover prospects like Trenidad Durazo and Jenry Zumaya...won't be long until there's a new power in the East.

Last Year's Preview:______________________________________________________________
"Breakthrough" Means:  A winning season.  This is in better shape than one might think. . .alright than I thought right off.  They lack of depth of quality players you'd like to see in a team that would make the playoffs, but 75-87 is a very reasonable expectation.

To Do That They Have To:  Their key players 
Darren Walton, Lou Donald, and Davey Rogers will really need to perform.  David Jimenez and Edgar Martin are good bats that will need to give an OPS well into the 800's.

This Team Is Built On: a foundation of losing.  16 straight losing seasons to be exact.  Eventually you put together enough draft picks to really have something.  Most of the best players on Bottoms are 25 or less.

Player to Watch:  Darren Walton is ready explode.  He could win the MVP this year with a little luck.  Superstud.


traded ML DH Vicente Rodriguez +$4.5MM for MiL SS Derek Cammack
traded MiL IF Miguel Ramirez for ML C Pablo Rosado, MiL 2B/CF Matt Buddie, and MiL 1B Bruce Klingenbeck
traded MiL IF Bucky Witt and MiL OF Alexei Megias for ML SP Shawn McIntyre
traded MiL 1B Hector Bryant, MiL C Avisail Flores, and MiL CF/2B Matt Buddie for ML SP Lariel Vazquez
traded ML OF Hanley Welsh for ML C Ismael Vidal
traded ML OF/1B Timothy Denham for MiL RP Felix Figueroa
traded MiL IF/CF Matt Hunter for ML CF Ezequiel Neruda

Free Agent Signings
RP Haywood Valdes

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