Sticking Points 2040.6: A Look Ahead to 2040

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Sticking Points 2040.6: A Look Ahead to 2040

Post by aaronweiner » Mon Sep 30, 2019 8:37 am

If we look ahead to 2040, it appears to be more of the same for the Pikemen. This might not be true in a year from now, but for the 2040 season the Pikemen should again contend for the JL Atlantic crown, even in the new-look JL Atlantic Division with New Orleans and Jacksonville. The challenge might do the team good, as they have had rubber-stamp division wins in each of the past three seasons, winning by double digits each time.

"A little competition is good for the soul, so long as we're still on top at the end," said second baseman Felix Delvalle. "This is a phenomenal ballclub and we're looking forward to the challenge."

Delvalle is part of a somewhat new-look Rockville team that this year won't feature Chip Puckett for the first time since 2033 and might be the last year in a Rockville uniform for first baseman Manuel Marino. Delvalle will start at second base in what was a very productive platoon last year with Mike Kemp. Julio Barajas is guaranteed a starting job after a superb 2039 season, of course. We're not sure who's going to emerge from the minors, but right now the starting lineup will include Barajas in right field and Palacios in left with Manuel Rivera frantically picking up the slack in center.

"The biggest hole right now is designated hitter, and we're debating whether or not one of our minor league first basemen might fill that hole," said Rockville GM Aaron Weiner. "We have some salary wiggle room too but we think that either Willis Roberts or Bing-de Zhao might be the starting DH this season."

Pedro Diaz will also be back at shortstop, making people go "Chip who?" Diaz is as good an infielder as Puckett and has a great lefty bat, too, and last year had almost 4 WAR while hitting just .292, something he could improve on this year.

"I think I could hit .300 this year, yeah, sure," said Diaz. "It's a goal of mine for the season."

The top of the rotation won't be too big a surprise to anyone: Dempster, Cannon, and Martin, the #1, #2, and #3 pitchers by WAR last year in the JL, will be back. The bottom of the rotation is a little more in flux, however, as the additions of Bengt de Meza and Rogelio Morales create depth for the Pikemen for the first time in a while and creates a question for Bob Coleman, who has never had great endurance.

"We're going to let them battle it out, but we've talked to Bob and he's okay with anything we decide," said pitching coach Arturo Trujillo. "He's been really good in our playoff bullpens."

There are other big questions for the Pikemen, such as "when is Bing-de Zhao coming?" The answer to that is probably harder than we think.

"We're working him at second base at AAA right now, but don't be surprised to see him up later this year," said Weiner. "We think he's going to dominate at AAA but he hasn't had a single game there yet and we're okay at DH and first base right now. Second base, too. He'll be a major leaguer sooner or later, though, that's for sure."

Speaking of DH, the Pikemen are using Willis Roberts at DH to start the season. The 2037 third rounder is a real Moneyball type player and could hit upwards of .270 with 30 homers and 90 walks.

"Willis was one of our favorite draft finds," said Weiner. "It's his batting eye that's so unique amongst players his age. We love a guy with a good batting eye."

Overall, the Pikemen are projected to finish first in the new JL Atlantic, win 90 games and, well, that's just sort of business as usual in suburban Maryland right now. Let's see if they can do it all over again.

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