Sticking Points 2052.5: Audition Season

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Sticking Points 2052.5: Audition Season

Post by JimSlade » Sun Oct 30, 2022 10:10 pm

With the Rockville Pikemen officially eliminated from postseason contention, audition season is underway. The team called up 7 players, including 22-year-old starting pitcher Yoshimatsu Miyauchi, who's progressed rapidly since being acquired from the Long Beach Surfers in 2050 for Danny Adkins, and third baseman Cesar Rodriguez.

Pikemen fans are bracing themselves for the possible departure of some of the last vestiges of the franchise's once-expected run of contention. It's hard to imagine any scenario in which shortstop Chip Puckett's team option is renewed. Mirel Olaroiu and Swiss Army knife Daryl Tibbett will get some looks in between the popular Puckett's final bows, but neither of the younger guys seems like much more than a placeholder for a free agent or the eventual development of top pick in the 2050 draft Chance Wilson, who has been blazing through the organization's minor league outposts.

The team also has a team option on veteran pitcher Jafar Hamaad, who's missed most of the season with a torn flexor tendon. A $3.5 million buyout versus the $4 million due to him won't feel like much relief either way. Moody, inconsistent starting pitcher Felipe Mendez is expected to exercise his player option, as is veteran reliever Juan Manuel, another holdover from better days. Along with Miyauchi, who could probably use another season in AAA, reliever Christian Walker is getting his first taste of big-league life.

DH Matthew Reilly, making $9.5 million annually, has a player option that will be interesting to follow. After last season's league-leading .364 batting average and a 4.3 WAR, Reilly is currently hitting .273 with a 0.8 WAR, not in range of getting anywhere near his usual numbers. He and his agent will be assessing the market and the pacing of this team's rebuilding process. Offense-first catcher John McMuttray has been giving Reilly days off throughout the season, posting an .860 OPS and 16 HR in part-time duty. If Reilly leaves, McMuttray could become a regular in the DH spot, leaving even more playing time for Garm Guldenmond, who's solidified his hold on the starting catcher job.

The Pikemen will likely lose outfielder Gilberto Villanueva, who's contract is expiring. Because the organization is weak in young outfield talent, the team's glut of versatile second and third basemen, including Rodriguez, Tibbett, and Cam Whitten will get reps in leftfield. All 3 had been getting reps there at AAA and in earlier stints in Rockville.
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