|Panthers are ready for Josh Donaldson to release his pure awesomeness.|
In the 2013 Inaugural draft (which took place in February 2014) and was of 2012 players -- I drafted players that would emerge in 2013, in Josh Donaldson, Matt Carpenter, Brian Dozier, Brandon Belt, Devin Mesoraco, Chris Johnson & Julio Teheran. I also drafted some great pitching in Yu Darvish, Matt Harvey, Alex Cobb, and a No-Card in Scott Kazmir. Drafted bullpen studs Cody Allen, Luke Gregerson & Kelvin Herrera.
When I realized that things were going south, I traded players like my center fielder Austin Jackson, who at that point was one of my few constant contributors on offense to Portland with starting pitchers Matt Harrison and Brandon Morrow. Both Harrison & Morrow had pretty good seasons in 2012, so they will help Portland's staff now with a little offense & great defense in adding Jackson. I would acquire Corey Kluber, Nathan Eovaldi & Ryan Raburn in the deal. Portland also acquired my 4th Round Draft pick (basically a late 3rd Round pick). Kluber, as we know would win the 2014 American League Cy Young Award, while Eovaldi has potential, dialing it up in the high 90's; Raburn will be a plus for this season, our 2014 Season (2013 stats) -- Raburn had a .901 OPS in 2013 playing part-time for the Indians, with 16 HR's in only 243 at-bats, which will come in handy off the bench for the Panthers.
|Excited about Kluber: By the way, the man only has one face.|
At the trade deadline, I made another deal that would help transform this team and set them up for the future, a trade with Boston. Trading Austin Jackson was tough for my Panthers, because it left a vacancy in the outfield, I had Giancarlo Stanton in left, and after that there was a considerable drop-off. I still had Alejandro De Aza (who was solely drafted for 2012 & 2013 MLB stats) and Jarrod Dyson (a part-time speedster), the other guys ended up being released after the season. At this point, I told myself we are drafting starting pitcher Jose Fernandez if we end up with the worst record. Could you imagine a rotation with Darvish, Harvey, Fernandez, Teheran & Kluber?! But my senses kicked in, and I realized I need some outfield studs, and some offense -- who is more exciting than (the other Cuban) Yasiel Puig? Nothing was confirmed, there was my team along with a few other teams that had a legit shot at the #1 overall pick, nor was I trying to lose, who really wants to be the worst? But realistically, I knew I was going to get a good pick regardless, it was a great draft for rookies.
|Pence wants to bring his MLB winning ways to Grand Traverse.|
Eventually, we ended up with the #1 overall pick, I drafted Yasiel Puig. He will go along with Stanton & Pence like planned, and I added some depth to De Aza & Dyson with sleeper Scott Van Slyke and surprise Tampa Bay Rays youngster Kevin Kiermaier. Van Slyke, is in an interesting MLB situation, he's in a crowded Dodgers outfield, that has been in middle of trade rumors -- if he was able to get playing time somewhere, he could emerge like Jayson Werth did in Philadelphia, then again, he could also just be another Ryan Raburn, who can never take advantage of his full-time status (better as a platoon option).
|T.C.'s alternate logo.|
We should be better this season, it will be tough in this N.L. East though with the Hannibal Cavemen & Holland Hitchhikers -- plus the Urbana Locomotives hope to defend their division title as well. Looking forward to seeing how much the Panthers have improved -- I really believe we can finish with a winning record, so I guess it's safe to say that I expect my team to improve it's win total by 35-40 games. We'll have to see how that all plays out, really stiff competition this season, the league I believe has more parity this season.