Friday, April 24, 2009

NL South Tour: Richmond Revolution

At a Glance
owner: grivfmd1 - 49 seasons, .559 win %, 34 playoffs, 5 WS titles (2 with Houston in Shlabotnik, Columbus and Pittsburgh in Sandberg, Detroit in Coooperstown)
team history: grivfmd1's 9th season with the franchise, 3 division titles, 2 wild cards
last season: 88-74 (wild card), defeated Little Rock 3-2 in Divisional Play-In, lost to Rochester 3-1 in Divisional Championship
top hitter: Chris Myers (.304, .361, .592, .953)
top starting pitcher: Richard Park (14-10, 3.51 ERA, 1.25 WHIP)

Notable Departures
Cedrick Waters: Richmond declined to renew the contract of rotation mainstay Waters, who piled up 180 innings last season while sporting a not-too-shabby .344 ERA. Waters, one of the change-of-speeds artists in the game, is still looking for work, though the calls of his family back in Eclectic, Alabama are getting louder and louder for the 37 year-old family man.
Clint Smith: A fixture in centerfield for Richmond since season 6, the veteran Smith moved to left field last season with his declining range and finds himself now out of work in season 12. Always a fan-favorite with his easy-going smile, Smith leaves Richmond as the club's 3rd leading career run scorer, and 4th leading base stealer.
Grant Kapler: One of the best set-up men in the league last season (77 innings, 2.32 ERA), the righty sinkerballer left for the friendly confines in the offseason and will bring his heavy sinker with him. Although Kapler's departure netted Richmond the 44th pick in the upcoming amateur draft, his presence will still be missed in the bullpen.

Notable Newcomers
Terry Brooks: Richmond stayed relatively quiet in the offseason, making no trades and picking up no one in the Rule V draft. Richmond, however, did resign three of its own free agents on the open free agent market: SP Pedro Johnson, bullpen workhorse Phil Maloney, and five-tool rightfielder Ben Gonzales. Rumor has it that Gonzales, a two time member of the 30-30 club, was ready to put on a Houston uniform before Richmond resigned him at the last second prior to the expiration of their compensation rights. To replace Kapler in the bullpen, however, Richmond signed three relievers, and the best among them is Brooks, an effective reliever with a lifetime ERA of .466. Brooks, however, will not be a happy camper in Spring Training, he left behind the beaches of Honolulu for the urban sprawl of Richmond, and got a nice paycut for his troubles as well.

Prospect to Watch
Malcolm Young: Young, coming off back to back 40-40 seasons in the minors, is ready for the call whenever the phone rings. A dual speed-power threat, who has a keen eye for the strike zone, has long been groomed as Richmond's outfielder of the future - and the future is not far off.
Richmond retains the core of last season's wild card squad, which includes Myers, Park, Gonzales, Johnson and Maloney. Although its lineup is a bit suspect at the moment, an early season call up to Young should make Richmond, at minimum, a co-favorite for the NL South crown. If all goes well, Richmond should finish with between 84 and 92 wins.

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