The Montreal Maple Leaves worked hard over the off season to stock their farm system with new talent while putting a more competitive major league team on the field. While this was a challenging task, it is felt that it was very well accomplished. I spent most of the off season focusing on other team's aquisitions, knowing that I could explain all the pickups in this post.
So here I introduce you to the season 3 Montreal Maple Leaves,featuring groundball pitching and 22 new faces.
C vsR Danny Haynes(Aquired via FA)
Haynes bringing great defense behind the plate while bringing a solid bat verse right handed pitching. He is someone I was tracking the entire FA period, and was able to bring in at a nice price. He should make all of my pitchers better and will have no problem throing guys out when stealing.
C vs L David Fernandez(Aquired via FA)
Similar to Haynes defensively, Fernandez is a better hitter vs lefties, so he will start whenever a southpaw is on the mound. He will help keep Haynes at 100% all season.
1B Bernie Cruz
Cruz was one of two guys that was untouchable. He will bat 3rd and create a strong prescence every time he steps in the batter's box. Cruz hit an impressive .341/.405/.575 last season for Montreal. He should continue to produce runs for the Maple Leaves.
2B Walt Hinske(Aquired via trade)
Hinske should bring GG defense behind a pitching staff that should put a lot of balls on the ground. Hisnke is also a legitimate leadoff bat, who will put strong speed and plate discipline in front of a solid middle of the order.
SS Adam LaRue(Aquired via FA)
Playing with his 3rd team in 3 years, LaRue ended up with the Maple Leaves due to lack of a better option. He will play good D at short, but should not do much with his bat.
3B Ivan Cornejo(Aquired via trade)
Aquired in the Rivera trade, Cornejo will be the starting third basemen and bat 6th. He brings the bat that hit 60 HRs over the past 2 seasons in AA. Some believe he should get time at AAA, but the front office thinks he is the best 3B option for now and the future.
LF Charlie Wallace(Aquired via trade)
Coming from a pitchers park, Wallace should see a nice boost in numbers this season. He is a nice pure hitter for has a chance to score a lot of runs in front of Cruz and Borges. We have high expectations for Charlie this season
CF Clay Canseco(Aquired via FA)
Canseco was non-tendered by HOU after playing great D for the Fantasticos last season. He is expected to provide similar stellar D for MON while bringing solid speed and baserunning skills to the basepaths.
RF Luis Borges
The 2nd stud that was not going to be moved this off season. Borges is one of the best young bats in the game. He knocked 53 bombs as a 23 year old last season. He is the face of the franchise and will be counted on to lead the Maple Leaves to a divisional title
DH Ray Winn(Aquired via trade)
Winn will also be the team's third catcher, but will likely not see time at the position this year. Winn has a solid eye, with an OBP over .400 in the last 2 seasons for Chicago. He should provide a lot of offense in what is a contract year for the solid hitter.
UTIl RJ Guerrero(Aquired via FA)
If Guerrero proves that his arm will hold up at SS, he may end up getting more starts than LaRue as his bat against righties is far superior
LF/1B Andre Erstad(Aquired via trade)
A solid hitter the team aquired for a cheap price. He will try to bounce back after an off year and will see starts at 1B/LF/DH against righties.
OF Aaron Goldstein(Aquired via trade)
A favorite of GM thaceo, "jewish lightning" was brought to MON. he should see occasional starts at all 3 OF positions, mostly in right and center
RF Danny Branson(Aquired via FA)
After having an OPS over .900 for BUF last season, Branson was a value pickup that could not be passed up. He is nothing more than insurance.
1. Walt Hinske 2B
2. Charlie Wallace LF
3. Bernie Cruz 1B
4. Luis Borges RF
5. Randy Winn DH
6. Ivan Cornejo 3B
7. Danny Haynes C
8. Adam LaRue SS
9. Clay Canseco CF
SP1 Terrance Moore(Aquired via FA)
Probobly the most talked about FA pickup of the off season, Moore will head the Maple Leaves rotation. His style is one the Maple Leaves hope will be emulated by other pitchers in the rotation. He should be watched closely all season
SP2 Willis Kirk(Aquired via FA)
"Captain" Kirk was hurt last season, but when he played he was electric going 10-5 with a 3.22 ERA. Kirk signed with MON after they were willing to give him a 5 yr deal. Some call him a bargain, others call him a risk. We will see how he pitches coming back from a shoulder injury.
SP3 Phillip Campbell
Maybe the only MON pitcher to have a solid season last year, Campbell has apparently improved over the off season, and now has 2 solid pitchers in front of him. With better run support, defense, and being a year older, Campbell is primed for a breakout season.
SP4 Nelson Fasano(Aquired via FA)
Fasano was one of the most questionable pickups of the off season, but brings some of the world's best stuff and MON believes he will have a breakout season. Whether he is a great pickup or a waste will be seen this season.
SP5 Deivi Moraga(Aquired via trade)
Another pitcher coming off injury, Moraga was a bargain pickup for the Maple Leaves(salary drop included he is about 4.4 mil per year for the next 2 seasons). It will be seen if Moraga will be able to return to his old dominance after being hurt half of last season
Mop/LHS Joaquin Felix(Rule V Draft)
Felix was maybe the wierdest pick of the rule V. He has a great GB/FB ratio and nice pitches and the team needed another lefty in the bullpen. He could end up being a steal, but if he ends up busting, its just 50,000 lost
LRP Nicholas Huff(Aquired via Trade)
Huff has great control and was electric when he pitched for KC last season. His great GB/FB will be very useful in MON. Could enter the rotation with an injury/if someone is pitching poorly.
LRP/RHS Ray Malloy(Aquired via FA)
MON is hoping Malloy can finally have his break out year with a stronger defense behind him and a great catcher calling the game. He will probobly exclusively pitch against righties out of the pen until an opportunity becomes available in the rotation. He is signed cheap through his 3 arb years
SU Felipe Navarre(Aquired via FA)
High potential pitcher the Maple Leaves signed for 4 yrs with the hope that he will be better out of the pen than he was in the rotation for SEA. Hopefully they will be proved right during the season
SU/CL Alfredo Rosa(Aquired via Trade)
The first of two pitchers competing for the closer role, thaceo signed Rosa to be a closer in NAS last season. Rosa got 10 saves in all 10 of his opportunities last season and could be put back in the role this year.
SU/CL Nick Helton(Rule V)
Rosa was the sure closer until Helton was aquired in the rule V. Despite not having an impressive ERA Helton saved 24 games in 28 opportunities for AAA WAS last season. He will be given every chance to keep the job with a GB/FB and high velocity ideal for the role
Top 10 Prospects
1. SP Seth Randall Low A
2. SP Phil Thomas Low A
3. C Phillip Henry AAA
4. 2B/OF Bill Brower AA
5. LF Wally Christenson AAA
6. 3B Ivan Cornejo ML
7. SP/RP Clarence Daal AAA
8. SP BC Samuel AAA
9. SP Luis Romero AAA
10. CF Lewis Freeman AAA