Saturday, October 24, 2015

Preseason Power Rankings

Richmond Confederates
Current: 1
The World Champs are standing pat.  And why would they not, with the likes of  Perry Gonzalez and Tony Rodriguez back in the fold?

Wichita Rocks
The AL Champs also made few moves as they prepare to make another run for the title.   Four starters with WHIP's under 1.25, led by ace Brent Davis,  keep the runs against to a minimum.

Louisville Nightmare
Current: 3
Exit superstars Geoff Cunningham and San Henry, but enter Placido Sierra,  Hector Marmol and Carlos Mairena.  Oh yeah, they still have David Sisk and the pitching staff that finished second overall in the NL.

Anaheim Arte Morenos
Current: 4
Reigning Cy Young Award winner Anthony Aven leads a staff that led the AL in ERA last season.  Another 90+ win season and a serious bid for the trophy is in the making as mostly everyone returns.

Monterrey Minutemen
Current: 5
Turner,  Moreno,  and Strong are the key new pieces to join two time MVP Stefan Rendondo in his bid to add a title to his slew of personal awards.

Iowa City Johnsons
Current: 6
The window is open for the NL South champs to add another title to their prestigious history.  Starter Clarence Coleman and 2B Sherman Curtis take up a big chunk of payroll, but they also had three hitters who knocked in 100+ runs last season, led by Diego Alvarez's 127.

Honolulu Jackwagons
Current: 7
If you take away the last two weeks of each of the past two seasons, this team could have easily been in the mix for at least one title.  To avoid another collapse, they added Daniel Mulder,  Melvin Rose, and some other key pieces without losing much.  They have a top of the rotation ace in Enrique Concepcion.

Santa Fe Brooks
Current: 8
An amazing final month made up for an up and down season, as they stormed into the playoffs on a hot streak before bowing out in five games in the first round.  The loss of Edgardo Cruz is going to hurt, but mostly everyone else from the 92 win team returns, including Samuel Merrick and Terry French.  

Los Angeles Colemans
Current: 9
Some mid season wheeling and dealing made a good team into a serious title contender.  Dingo McDonald and Kevin Sobolewski come on board to try offset the loss of Cy Young Award winner Corky Jackson.  Harry Arias is a more than capable ace, and we should expect a bounce back season from Rich Wright. 

Hartford Hippopotamus Dance Party
Current: 10
Another AL team that stormed into the playoffs after a strong stretch run.  Seemed to be a team of destiny until they ran into Wichita in the AL Championship Series.  The losses of  Octavio Macias and Andrew Turner could have set them back, but what do the AL East Champs do?  Only acquire Rodriguez, Mercado, and Ortiz.  Should be fun to see how it all comes together.

Philadelphia Phoenix
Current: 11
For the second season in a row, Philly lands a max contact pitcher.  This year it was three time Cy Award winner Edgardo Cruz, who joins 7 time All-Star Stu McCurry.  The Phoenix improved by 23 games last season, and Cruz should certainly help that upward spiral.   We're now talking playoff contender, possible powerhouse.  Look out. 

St. Louis Cardinals
Current: 12
No major off season losses for a team that fought for the division title right up to the season's final week, and still made the playoffs.  Adding to the formidable mix of talent that includes Gerald Hull and Darrell Bigbie,  are Sanders, Sparks, Twitchell, and Barker.  They are primed for another run..

Colorado Surf Riders III
Current: 13
A 90 win team last year that just missed out on the playoffs hit 83 more home runs than the next closest team in the AL.  They add a little more offense in Socks Rose, and make up for the loss of  SP Santo Cerda by acquiring Santiago,  Mathewson, Maduro and Tavarez.  They should be good for another run.

Pittsburgh Appalachians
The defection of Joe Cooper after last off season contributed to to the fall off from a 99 win team to one that was barely over.500.  Enter three time All-Star and former MVP Octavio Macias, who was signed to a big contract this off season.  They also added SP Esteban Guapo
and RP's Carlton Magee and Martin Brantley.  Expect the Appalachians to be back into the battle for the division title.

Trenton Thunder
Current: 15
Looking to get back into the hunt after missing the playoffs for the first time in twelve seasons.  Future HOFer Nick Jacquez is back in the fold, who at the age of 37 had his best season since 29.   Melvin Kydd was also brought in to help the offense, and Louie Franco joins Gary Pressley and Placido Balentien to form a formidable rotation.

Scranton Railraiders
Current: 16
A tale of two teams...after a torrid start to last season, Scranton limped into the playoffs with an 81-81 mark, but was then able to dispatch one of the hottest teams in the league in the first round of the tournament.  Al Gardner had a rough year, but is a legit ace, and should be back to form.  Geronimo Molina joins an offense that had four players knock in 90+ runs.  We'll see which teams shows up at the end. 

Milwaukee Boomers
Current: 17
Power line up, featuring the likes of  Robin WalterEsmil Izquierdo and Nigel Bryant, remains mostly intact, finished fourth in the NL in runs scored.  Run prevention was fifth worst, however.  They add SP Ryan Green to join aces Elrod Lankford and Juan Bennett,  They have to goods to not only repeat as division champs, but compete for a title.

San Antonio Wildcats
Current: 18
Made a the statement that they were not going to be cellar-dwellers again by signing top free agents Geoff Cunningham and Sam Henry away from Louisville early in the off season.  Professional hitter Donn Jones  also joins the line up that finished second-to-last in runs last season.  Chris King  and Albert Walsh front the rotation that will get them back into the playoff hunt.

Fargo Marlboro Men
Current: 19
A mass free agent exodus saw sixty percent of the starting rotation leave town (McDonald, Franco, and Frias.)  Santo Cerda comes on board, and the bullpen is top-notch.  The offense, featuring Denny Jung, that finished sixth in runs returns intact.  They were in the hunt for a playoff spot right up to the final week, and they should at least be in the mix once again.

Burlington Bookworms
Current: 20
The franchise improved its win total by a whopping 42 games over the previous season with the strategy of adding several small, but key pieces.  This season's approach?  Make the big splash!  Cy  Young Award winner Corky Jackson and Delenor Melville arrive to take the team to the next level.  These two should be good for at least a dozen more wins, which would put them right into the playoff mix.

Montreal Stars
They were in the hunt for the division title right up until the end, but fell just a tad short.  The future could very well be now as Triple A is loaded with ready ML talent.  Super International stud Gregor Ramos should be making his ML debut, and could be joined by the likes of  Elmer Fasano, and Christian Downs.  This could be the team to beat in the AL North, and if they had landed an ace like they were hoping for, they would have had the makings of a powerhouse.

Tacoma Tornadoes
Current: 22
The loss of  SP Billy Ray Norton was offset with the signings of Skeeter Tanner and Louie Frias, which should keep their run prevention right near the top of the league.  Benny Molina had a down year by his standards.  If he can get back to the super-elite status  like his line-up mate, Luis Peron, they will compete for the division.

Chicago Blagos
Current: 23
This team is going through a make-over as their top three in at-bats from a year ago are gone (Mercado, Marmol,  and Jacquez.)  Over 450 innings from last year's pitching staff were jettisoned too.  Jonny Yerks looks like the young SP they are going to build the staff around, but they if they fail to get off to a good start, they may be in rebuild mode.  

Tampa Bay Don Cesars
Current: 24
After failing to land one of the top-notch starting pitchers on the market, they added a few smaller pieces to round out the roster in an attempt to compete for the division.  Noah Roberts and Bucky Treadway return from season ending injuries, and INF Jimmie Lee was signed to improve both run prevention and run production.

Syracuse Barking Spiders
Current: 25
Virgil Campos joins the team rebuild as they attempt to turn around a franchise that was woeful in all aspects, but especially in run prevention.  The defense now seems to be sound, and the core group of  Joe Cooper, Brad Fielder, Pasqual Rodriguez and Asdrubal Contreras are solid parts to build around.  May be a season or two away.

Buffalo Blues
Current: 26
Fourth in the AL in runs scored with Welington Rijo and Orel Stearns leading the way.  Billy Ray Norton and Enrique Martinez were signed to help out the staff that compiled a 6.00 team ERA.  These additions and the move to pitcher friendly Dunn Tire Park could help shrink the run differential and make them competitive.

Durham Bulls
Current: 27
They hung around for the first half of the season with great work from Ugueth Torres, Cecil Clark, and Andrea Sheffield  out of the bullpen, but their starters couldn't keep them in enough games down the stretch.  Nicky Oquist leads a productive offense which is certainly capable of posting double-digit runs on any given night.  If the starting pitching comes through, they could compete for the entire season.

San Francisco Lockdown
Current: 28
They have a couple solid arms in Sidney Little and Harold Durham, and a bunch of youngsters like  Colt de la Cruz, Len Rosen, Eddie Feierabend, and Ruben DeJesus who should be ready in a year or two.

Detroit Chippewas
Current: 29
They brought on Magglio Bocachica, Stan Martin, and Willie Velazquez to help keep the team competitive after dealing Melville.  The team improved by eight games over the previous year, so expect another improvement while they go through their rebuild.

Washington D.C. Senators
Current: 30
Karim Tabata was signed to replace the departed Farmer Mathewson.  They have the middle of the order beast in Oleg D'Amico, and a solid 1-2 punch in Birdie Henley and Johnnie Averill at the top of the rotation, so they could surprise and compete.

Charlotte Charlatans
Current: 31
After a rocky start, the team played .500 ball down the stretch, as it's pitching staff came together.  Anibal Espada is back to lead the rotation, and Joe Danks back to lead the pen. Free agent signees Jeanmar Silver and Tony Fernandez add depth to the staff.  Youngsters Connor Carbonell, Julius Ramirez , and Lonny Palmeiro should spark the offense that finished last in the AL.   Not too far off from contending.

Las Vegas Point Shavers
Current: 32
Solid, but unspectacular core group at the ML level  Dean West,  Alex Crespo, and Paul Evans should help bide time while they rebuild from a horrendous 118 loss season.  The run prevention should improve dramatically, as the focus was on shoring up the defense during the off season.  May be quite a few seasons away, but a plan is in place.

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