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Anaheim Anteaters S8 Preview

A few seasons ago, Anaheim(then Portland) was steeped in the possibilities of the future. The minor league system was preparing to mature many top-flight prospects: Charles Jones, Alex Beck, Patrick Spencer, Marino Flores, Julio Santos, Pat Trammell, Cristobal Cruz, Delino Julio, and Eli Lopez were either getting their first taste of the bigs or prepping for their big-league debut. And while many of them have, indeed, flourished, the franchise is suddenly met with a pressure to win now.

Anaheim's veterans are getting older and beginning to see an erosion of their skill ratings. Chiefly, Jacob Foster, Kip White, and Nerio Miller are entering their mid-30s, an age-set that HBD doesn't think very much of. Furthermore, the fact that so many of those prospects graduated at the same time will price some of them out of Anaheim's budget in another year or so. This current group of ballers, that has played in the previous two League Championship Series, may be in their final season together.

Specifically, Santos is not expected to return this season, Trammell and Cruz may be in their final season in SoCal, and Julio and Flores will likely be leaving right behind them. The club is expected to cough up the $ to keep Jones, Spencer, and Beck long-term.

So how does the club look for this season? Much like last year's team. In fact, the only expected lineup change is at the hot corner, where Julio Iglesias , who will test the free agent market, will be replaced by the Brandon Inge-ish Mathew Witt and punch and judy rookie Darrell Daniels. And Anaheim can't expect White, Leary, Cruz, and Beck to all repeat their career-best numbers from last season.

The pitching rubber will host the same starting three as the previous three seasons: Jones, Spencer, Foster. The fourth and fifth spots will be a competition between Alan Dorsey, rookie Fausto Cruz and veteran and former Portland ace Max Bennett. Of course, Nerio Miller will contnue his wild ride as the closer.

Opening Day Lineup
RF Billy Leary
2B Cristobal Cruz
1B Kip White
CF Alex Beck
3B Mathew Witt
C Eli Lopez
LF Marino Flores
SS Delino Julio

Rotation
Charles Jones
Patrick Spencer
Jacob Foster
Max Bennett
Alan Dorsey/Fausto Cruz

Bullpen
Nerio Miller
Walt Leonard
Clay Allen
Lance Howell
Dorsey/Cruz

S7 predicted win total: 94. Actual total: 98.

S8 prediction: 92 wins.

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