The years was 2025, No Country for Old Men was the top movie, Irreplacable by Beyonce was the top song, the Indianapolis Colts had just won the superbowl, and the Hawaii Tropics were crowned Landis Champions. The Tropics would have two more playoff seasons in 2026 and 2027 before starting a rebuild that has been much harder than originally planned. The franchise bottomed out in 2034 with a staggering 115 loss season and more questions than answers on the horizon. Were are the Tropics at in their rebuild and what can we expect in 2037?
Out: SP Matt Mills
In: CL Dillon Young, SP Mike Bailey, SP Jody Nunez, RP Juan Suarez, 1B Ricardo Guzman,
Catcher: Jorge Bernal, Juan Garza, Andy Moore, Steffan Peterson
Juan Garza was the starting backstop for Hawaii last season and did a decent job both at the dish and behind it and should start the season as the starter again. Jorge Bernal was the backup and was far better at his defense than offense. It would seem that the Tropics will find a spot on the roster for 22 yr old Andy Moore. Moore was called up last year and did a very good job of showing that he belonged in the bigs and I could easily see him surplant Bernal. Peterson has alot of potential but will probably start in AAA and wait his turn.
1B: Ricardo Guzman, Lou Ashley
Hawaii went the FA route and signed veteran Ricardo Guzman to take over at 1B. The 35 yr old Guzman hit .252 with 30 HR's last year for Boise proving he still has some juice in his bat. Lou Ashley will be the 1B sub and a bench bat.
2B: Gene Josey, Fernando Martinez, Felix Membiela
Martinez returns as the starter at 2B for Hawaii, but they do have a couple nice options that can play there in case of injury. The Tropics picked up Felix Membiela off waivers from San Antonio and he provided some nice depth for the them down the line and gave them a respectable .241 BA and solid defense. Gene Josey was another waiver claim, this time from Valencia, and put up the same type production as Membiela. There is a chance that both guys are back with the team as bench bats in 2037.
SS: Ernesto Alfiche
The only true SS on the roster currenlty is Ernesto Alfiche. A superb defender but questionable bat, Ernesto's defense is what keeps him in the lineup. There is a chance he could see some rise in production with his second season in the bigs but will probably never be considered a terror at the plate.
3B: Dave Tallent
Beginning his third full season in the bigs is Dave Tallent, and Dave does actually have talent. He saw a drop in production in 2036 from 2035 but has the ability to hit for a decent average and surprising power. Tallent has been a solid glove at the hot corner. Leonard Jones is lurking in AAA but this will be his first full year in Death Valley and he needs some more seasoning.
OF: Benton Allen, Michael Durham, Thierry Mignot, Jorge Vargas, Gerbrand de Best, Robert Gowron
There are a lot of bodies in camp right now fighting for the outfield spots, but it isn't that hard to spot who the players are in this group. LF Benton Allen broke out last season in his first full year with the club. Allen put together a .282 BA with 21 HR's and 73 RBI's. Not too shabby for the 24 yr old. Michael Durham also had a nice season for Hawaii in 2036 giving them a .247 BA with 19 HR's and 74 RBI's. Mignot has been up and down the last few years and has the tools to do better than he has. A solid glove at all three Outfield spots, he is a valuable asset coming off the bench.
Jorge Vargas turned out to be a great FA signing in 2036, patrolling CF and producing a .275 BA with 64 Runs and 45 RBI's. His 29 SB's were a welcome addition as well. De Best gave Hawaii a fine 3.2 WAR in 2036 with a .274 BA, 18 HR's and 71 RBI's. De Best was considered the most consistent of the bunch and will certainly play a huge tole again in 2037. The Tropics signed FA Robert Gowron to a 3 yr deal and are hoping he can recover form a terrible 2036 season in Montreal and revive his power. This could be a sneaky signing by Hawaii and I see Gowron being a solid contributor.
SP: Mike Bailey, Stephen Taub, Luis Torres, John Wick, Jody Nunez, Charlie Iron-Knife,
The Starting Pitchers for Hawaii are going to be fun to watch. They have a number of young hurlers that show good potential, and went out to get some veteran prescence to help them along. The Tropics signed Mike Bailey to a FA deal and are hoping he can stick to his career norms. At 35 he has seen his better days and took a lump in Stuff a mere days after signing his deal. He also brings considerable injury risk as he spent 25 weeks on the DL last year. I believe he has the potential to be an adequate mid-rotation starter but I don't see much more than that.
Stephen Taub is a guy I like. A Tall, lanky Southpaw is something every rotation needs. At 22 he has a long career ahead of him but if 2036 is any indication, he will be one of the better pitcher for quite some time.
Luis Torres is another youngster with great potential. Good Stuff and solid 4-pitch mix, and the ability to hit triple digits on the Juggs Gun seeme to indicate a bright future.
The Tropics picked former superstar John Wick off the FA pile and are hoping he can give them some quality innings. The issues that Wick has had during his career have been talked about for years. A once promising Pitcher with superstar written all over him has been destroyed by injuries. He could be a hidden gem for Hawaii if he can stay healthy, but that is a HUGE IF.
SP Jody Nunez was another FA signing and brings a 10 Win season with him from Madison. At 35, he shows great leadership and is highly intelligent, which should serve him and the rest of the staff well.
Charlie Iron-Knife is a star in the making. The 23 yr old Lefty has excellent Stuff and brings a devastating Knuckleball in his arsenal. He may be slated to start the year in AAA but should any of the other guys falter it won't be long before Iron-Knife is taking scalps at the big league level.
RP: Dillion Young, Liam Massey, Norm McConnell, Tim Waller, Francisco Mejia, Lee Morgan, plus many others.
Hawaii looks like it has the makings of a decent bullpen. The signing of Dillon Young could prove th be the best signing of the year for them. He brings Closer ability and veteran experience to a position that plagued hawaii last season. Francisco Mejia started as the Closer last season thanks to his 30 Saves in 2035, but he fell apart thanks to a 9.27 ERA and was moved back to the Middle Relief. Tim Waller and Liam Massey took up the slack but neither one was a shut down kind of guy. Lee Morgan is an intriguing guy. He has considerable talent but is only 21 they may opt to give him a tad more seasoning in AAA before they bring him up.
All in all, the Hawaii Tropics continue to grow and have gotten some very nice pieces in place. Probably not ready for a 2037 run, but 2038 could easily be a jump start for the program.
Prediction: 76-86, 4th FL Pacific
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