The Juggernauts again have high expectations after winning the Wild Card last season with a 98-64 record. But, for the second year in a row, Jackson is eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, being swept by Anaheim. The core of the team remains with only two additions.
No longer with the big league club are LF/1B Kenny Cohen, who hit .283 with 12 HRs and 55 RBIs, and Rey Ludwick, a defensive specialist who was outrighted to AAA. Cohen was welcome to resign with the team in the offseason, but he was asking for too much to be a worthwhile signing.
New additions to the team are 1B/LF Cyrus May, who has hit 30 and 37 HRs in seasons 1 and 2 and is being counted on to provide some pop in the middle of the order. Signed for $3.2 M, (less than what Cohen was asking for), Cyrus should set the club record for HRs, which stands at 28. Also added is Rule 5 draftee and SS Eugene Walker. Eugene will take the place of Ludwick as the defensive specialist, but should be able to hit much better than Rey, while providing some speed off the bench. Late season callup Vic Baerga will pitch in the bullpen in long relief until injured starter Patsy Phelps returned from the 60-day DL.
Not currently on the roster, but awaiting their return from the DL is the aforementioned Patsy Phelps, season 1 signee who will miss the first 3 months of the season, but is expected back with around 70 games left. Hopefully he will perform as a top All-Star break addition to push the Juggernauts into the playoffs. Also injured with about 15 days expected on the DL is Skeeter McConnell who struggled all last season after performing as a top leadoff man in season 1.
Lineup (what it will look like when Skeeter returns from the DL)
1- CF Skeeter McConnell - .273 Avg, .324 OBA, 56 steals last season after a .307/.372/54 season 1. If he has an OBA of .350 or higher, he will score lots of runs with 80+ stolen bases.
2- 2B Mario Wright - .266/.322/.500 with 20 HRs, 69 RBIs and 16 SB in 384 ABs after being recalled from AAA after 2 months. He is expected to hit in the .280 range with a .340+ OBA, and hit 30 HRs, while stealing 60+ bases. Should be our first 30/30 man this season. He may move to 3rd in the lineup.
3- DH Edgardo Sosa - .317/.386/.437 with 14 HRs and 89 RBIs to lead the team. I would like to move him down in the order, but it would leave to many RH hitters at the end of the lineup, and he had the best OBA on the team.
4- 1B Cyrus May - .233/.301/.503 with 37 HRs and 126 RBIs for Jacksonville last season. We hope he returns to Season 1 stats of .285/.355/.560 with 40 HRs and 133 RBIs. Can run with 23 SBs last season.
5 - LF William Rothschild - .287/.360/.472 with 24 HRs and 87 RBIs. Should continue to improve, and can hit for more average as a .330 Avg in Season 1 in 440 ML ABs shows.
6 - C Randall Carpenter - .289/.370/.526 with 28 HRs and 83 RBIs. Hit .340 in Season 1.
7- RF Jerry Sutton - .270/.352/.477 with 26 HRs and 80 RBIs. Still a solid hitter at the age of 34.
8- 3B Jumbo Romero - .281/.335/.399 with 9 HRs and 24 SBs. Was disappointing last season after hitting .295 with 11 HRs and 10 steals in season 1 in only 244 ABs.
9- SS Charlie Seay - .241/.303/.367 with 16 HRs and 20 SBs. Plays Gold-Glove caliber defense, but may get replaced in the lineup for more offense on occation.
C Sam Giambi - .294/.344/.361 last season in 115 games. Plays good defense and will play a lot behind the plate with Carpenter getting days off and days at DH.
CF/OF Mateo Johnson- Hit a combined .267/.337/.464 for Vancouver and Jackson last season with 28 HRs and 12 steals. Should play a lot, especially of Skeeter McConnell struggles again this season.
LF/RF Jerry Wengert - .291/.373/.537 last season with 18 HRs andf 72 RBIs. Switch hitter with power who led the team in slugging last season can only play about 80 games now at the age of 35, so will get some spot starts and as a good bat off the bench.
SS/IF/OF Eugene Walker. Isn't being counted on to hit much, but be a solid defensive replacement around the field and give rests to whoever needs it.
Rotation (not including Phelps)
1- LHP Juan Garces - All-Star and Cy Young candidate was 16-6 with a 3.10 ERA in 220 innings last season. Should continue his form this season as a legitimate ace.
2- RHP Olmedo Uribe - More of a 3rd or 4th starter, but is being used to split up the lefthanders in place of Phelps. Was 12-12 with a 4.30 ERA in 222 innings last season.
3- LHP Mateo Mota - Fellow left-handed ace Mota was 15-6 last season with a 2.95 ERA in 220 innings. The future ace should improve this season as well.
4- RHP Juan Terrero - Quality swing man who gets the start in the rotation with Phelps injured. He was 12-6 last season with a 3.87 ERA in 148 innings and 20 starts (35 games) last season.
5- RHP Jamie "I like to smoke da" Bong - Was 6-7 in 41 games (12 starts) and 115 innings with a 4.28 ERA in his first full season in the majors. Has room to grow and should be a 10 game winner if he stays in the rotation the whole season.
LR (L) Gil Frazier - As the LRB or mopup pitcher, Gil only pitched 27 innings with a 3.62 ERA last season. Will be counted on for more this season with no other experienced long relievers.
LR (L) Vic Baerga - Was brought up at the end of last season and pitched in only 1 game. Pitched fairly well in AAA last season ( 4.75 ERA), but made the jump instead of higher rated prospects so the prospects could pitch on a regular basis in the rotation.
SU (R) Jerome Archer Solid reliever threw 43 innings last season with a 3.35 ERA, and was 5/5 in save opportunities.
SU (L) Eugene MacRae - Good lefty had a 3.69 ERA in 68 innings last season after a 2.84 ERA in 98 innings in season 1.
SU (R) Bryan Nelson - Season 2 Rule 5 draftee pitched 27 innings last season with a 4.56 ERA. Should improve this season and will be called on more often.
SU (L) Quinton Tankersley - Very good reliever who will take the ball anytime threw 101 innings with a 3.56 ERA last season. Anchors one of the top bullpens in the majors.
CL (R) Kris Carson - Had 38 Saves last season and is 74 / 84 in his career with a 2.72 career ERA (down to 2.40 last season). One of the top closers in the league, and the 2 time All-Star is still only 28.
If CF Skeeter comes back to hit like he did in Season 1, and 1B Cyrus May provides the pop in the middle of the order, the Juggernauts should challenge for 100 wins if Terrero and Bong pitch as expected. Phelps should provide a boost when he returns and gets the team ready for a playoff run.