Ownership continues to build from within and tweak with trades for role players. AAA World Series MVP, Paul Hayashi, joins a staff desperate for an ace. If spring training is an indicator, he is ready for the assignment at 2-0 with a 0.87 WHIP. Paul was the sixth selection in the season four draft. Shortstop Edgar Romero moves to center field to make room for Danny Carlson, the fourth pick of the season five draft. Romero should solve the perennial problem at center field. Carlson projects to one of the best arms in the game, was also an AAA champion with Hayashi. Another rookie, Cameron Wohlers, gets a shot at the big league as a back up third baseman. Wohlers slammed fifty-two round trippers in season seven. He will be counted on for power off the bench.
Two players arrived via trade: pitcher Sean Bold and shortstop Vin Plata. Bold came over from Anaheim for minor league catcher Wiki Martin and reliever Paul Potvin. Bold has a major league 1.29 WHIP over five seasons and should provide much needed quality innings. Pitching Coach Howie Farr says Bold could be a swing man as both a starter and reliever. Plata is a slick fielding contact hitter. He should get quality at-bats against right handers and be a defensive replacement at short or center field. He has a .281 batting average from 982 ML at-bats.
Coach Witt expects to have eleven pitchers on the roster. Top candidates for the last slot are AAA starting pitcher Charlie Alexander and AAA reliever Clarence Sanders. Alexander has big league stuff, but needs to learn how to get right handed batters out on a consistent basis. Sanders posted a 2.77 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP at AAA last season while working 126+ innings. Is he the heir apparent to Al Howard as the closer?
Left fielder Stan Lee kept pace with superstar Alexander Henry at the plate. Lee holds the team’s season record for doubles (52). He improved in doubles, home runs, average, OBP and slugging while reducing strike outs to just 59. Lee was the fourth pick in season three.
First baseman Alexander Henry won the home-run hitting contest and tied the team record with 49 round trippers. He also batted .360 for the season. He is just 28, so he should be a cornerstone of this team for a while.
Rookie Willie Soto proved he belonged at third base. He holds the season record for infield hits, has excellent range and hit for average at .281. Soto was a season three international free agent.
Statistically, right fielder Garrett Stewart posted career average numbers, .294 average and a .375 OBP. However, after only 58 RBI he needs to regain the ability to make hits in the clutch.
Hootie Roberts had a career year at the plate and continued slick fielding at second base. He got the job done at lead off with a .380 OBP.
Rotation leader James Saitou was rewarded for a club leading 12-win season with a three-year $16.8 million contract. James has 219 major league appearances at the tender age of 27.
Sinker baller Jim Robertson returns after leading the rotation with a 3.88 ERA. He is penciled in for his usual 200 IP.
Hope springs eternal this time of year. Can the Maintaineers get over the hump and be a .500 ball club? The starting lineup only has one player over age 29 (catcher Rodriguez is 31). Let’s watch them grow up together.