Sunday, January 27, 2008

San Francisco Amoebas Season Preview

The inaugural season for the San Francisco Amoebas holds out hope for a .500 season, and maybe better. Despite trading two veterans for a gaggle of depth and some promising youngsters for the farm system, the core of the team is decent enough to give the fans a little reason to hope. Just a little…
C – Waiting in the wings is SF’s top prospect, Ivan Sierra. Sierra, 23, should be a mainstay of the Amoeba offense for years to come, however General Manager rugrat thinks he could use another year of seasoning, so two veterans, Esteban and Philip Tebeau will hold down the position this year. Both call a great game, and with a young pitching staff, their veteran presence will be essential to a successful Amoeba season.
1B – Grizzled veteran Richie Acosta is getting a last look this spring, but has already cleared waivers and is battling for a job in the organization. As of this writing, this is one of several position battles that will be determined by spring training performance, with the eventual starter likely to be backup 3B Yamid Garces. Garces provides solid defense and a well rounded game at the plate.
2B – This is another battle, and it’s between Jamie Matsuzaka, free agent acquisition William Bates and 24 year old Marcus Jeffries. Among the veterans, Matsuzaka is more consistent at the plate, while Bates struggles against LHP, but Bates’ glove often makes up for his other deficiencies. Matsuzaka’s defensive struggles are well known to fans in SF, and last season saw the plucky but iron handed veteran given the Iron Glove award for worst fielder in a key position. Jeffries will probably start the year in AAA, but will be waiting and ready if needed.
SS – Bates will back up, but the position belongs to glove wizard Sam Brown. Brown, best known for his rocket arm, will hopefully hold his own with the bat, but even if he doesn’t, he will help a young staff mature with his vaccuum glove.
3B – Youngster Francisco Blasco is being asked to carry an offensive load this season. A steady fielder, with above average power, Blasco will have to work on his on base skills to make the move to the elite of the league’s third basemen. At 25, that improvement could happen this season.
LF – The star of the team, Alex Hasegawa, will be called upon to hit 40+ HRs and show leadership in the dugout. Brittle in the past, Hasegawa promised to work out in the offseason to increase his playing time, and has looked good this spring. Waiting in the wings for a chance to play is Bernard Vernon, who’s free swinging ways works with the women, but not on the ballfield.
CF – Veteran Terry Stone is being given one more chance, and is likely to hit leadoff. Stone has some speed, and gets to lots of balls in the OF, but sometimes makes the routine play look spectacular with his below average glove in CF. The team traded for young flychaser Edgar Oliva in the offseason, but at 19, Oliva is at least 2 or 3 years away from sniffing the majors.
RF – Top prospect Vern Romero is getting a look this spring, but at 21 could use another year or two in the minors, especially to work on his fielding. Assuming Romero won’t stick, RF could become the domain of Bernard Vernon.
SP – There are two or three spots open in the Amoeba starting rotation, which will be anchored by Dick Linden. Linden, only 25, is a candidate to win 20 games. Another likely starter is Woody Jenkins. Jenkins tested the free agent waters in the offseason, but decided to re-sign with SF. He’s one of a number of pitchers on the staff that should be good for 6 innings a start, but doesn’t have the stamina to go deep. Damian Heffner is another pitcher who is being counted on to give the Amoebas 5-6 solid innings per start. The other slots are up for grabs.
Bullpen – The relief corps of the Amoebas is sure to be called on a lot, so the long relief guys and set up men are sure to see a lot of work. The bullpen is still in a state of flux, but there are some solid young arms that are looking for their chance. Among the better candidates are Ken Collier, Tony Franco, and Vin Candelaria,.
Outlook - .500 is within reach, and if some things go right, this team could do better. The Amoebas just need to resist temptation and not rush their young players to the big leagues before their ready for the show. If they can do that, they should be a solid franchise for years to come.

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