After last years miracle season, management didn't have much choice but to revamp the lineup in an attempt to keep the rest of the division at bay and compete with Seattle. Yes, the West could be the toughest division in the AL this year. The Sand Cats were busy in the off season as you would imagine. The double snub from Jeremy Glover was a total disappointment but he seems happy with the extra $9M he got in FA. The Sand Cats organization wishes him well playing 2B (definitely not GG material at that position) in Fargo. Thinking like Fargo in FA, the Cats went with a similar economical approach without the risk. Meanwhile back at the horse ranch, the coaching staff has been pouring over the data and came to this setup early in the season.
Wally Harvey is excited about the 1B assignment this year. Pete Duvall quickly snapped up the Cats offer to be the new RF and adds the missing power in the lineup for a cheap 4 year deal. Willie Sierra also quickly snapped up the Cats offer to become the DH. The Cats did a lot of research before offering him a cheap 2 year deal and should easily out perform last years DH. The Bob Koplove deal that sent Jimmie James to Trenton was debated by management for a long while, but decided he could fill the hole created by the departure of Glover. Kevin Kim will be sharing duties at SS and CF, he doesn't like the idea as he wants to play one or the other and he may get his wish. As it stands for now, Will Weston will play CF against lefties only and Boomer Robinson is scheduled to play SS against righties. But things could change in this aspect pretty quickly. Jay Hegan is penciled in to be the starting 3B but Richard Gabriel could push him for the job. Paul Ingram will be the starting 2B. While Alving Infante plays the handyman. Patsy Hegan and Preston Weathers will share duties behind the plate for another season.
Players that could have an impact this season as to management decisions at fielding positions are:
Johnny Guerrero, Zeke McDonald, Dave Cosby, Edwin Corey and Oscar Phillips.
Coaches all think they need another year to hone their skills but one never knows and could be called upon at any time.
The Pitching front is up in the air a bit as management couldn't find a starter they really liked in FA. We do however return a fully stacked long reliever pen.
Chances are that Adrian Hendrickson will be the opening day starter and the only sure lock at a starting rotation job.
Glen Bush has a very good chance to be in the starting rotation provided spring training restores his late season injury. Walter "Red Herring" Ewing may not have a shot at the starting rotation but may make the pen along with Benny Walters. Coaches have decided that Phil Satou will remain in the minors another year to hopefully hone his pitching skills further. All five will host the spring training starting rotation and will either win or lose a job at the end. All five have had distinguished minor league careers and can't be discounted just because their ratings don't look Major League.
With the departure of Dave Stewart to Cincinnati in FA, Coco Hines will take over as the closer. We hope the off season rest and rehab has healed his arm as it still appeared weak in the playoffs.
The Coaching Staff:
Ron Carson returns for his 6th year as the hitting coach.
Dewey Burroughs was hijacked from AA Vancouver to be the 1B coach.
Javier Franco returns for his 2nd season but as the 3B coach.
Harry Lopez returns for his 6th season and 3rd as the pitching coach.
Buzz Sullivan was promoted from AAA to be the Bull Pen coach, after a heated hostile takeover attempt. This will be his 8th season with the organization.
Art Bishop returns for a 2nd season as the Bench coach even though I don't like paying this position for vets.
King Kozlowski returns for his 3rd season as Fielding Instructor.