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The 2039 Louisville Sluggers
It’s been five years since Louisville’s seven season play-off run ended… Seven seasons where the Sluggers reached the Landis 3 times in 5 years, winning two championships. Surprisingly, GM Stu “The Genius” Hopkins, left the Sluggers to take a new challenge with the Expansion Team, the Wichita Aviators and since that time, the Sluggers have been in a 5 year rebuild. In the last three seasons, the Sluggers had Win Totals in the 60’s… but there seems to be a Change in the Wind.
Midway through 2038, Louisville brought in a new GM, Stephen Shaw, to head up the Front Office for the Sluggers. Shaw wasted no time trading salary to help rebuild a minor league system. He’s made a few bold Free Agent Signings and it appears that the ship may be righting itself for a the future.
OF ALFREDO MARTINEZ – AGE 33
RATED (70/70) (6/5/9/10/4)
– Shaw went in with a splash to bring in Fan Favorite, Alfredo Martinez, with a 4 year - $131 Million contract, which may seem like an overspend for a team who just finished winning 63 games last season. However, GM Shaw has some creative options, Including front loading the contract with $31 Million in the first year and a player option for the 2nd year, giving the Sluggers a chance that it will be a 1 year contract, especially if Alfredo finds his old stroke and puts up a 4-6 war season… which would also result in a Comp Pick. Should Alfredo stay, there’s Vesting Options available to the Front Office in case the injury bug strikes Alfredo or he stops performing. Either way, it’s a safe signing for the Sluggers, who can definitely use the Star Power to excite a Fan Base who’s not had much to celebrate recently.
CA SHAG HOPKINS – AGE 32
RATED (65/65) (5/5/8/6/3)
– The Face of the Sluggers, Hopkins has played his entire career in Louisville. An excellent defensive Catcher with a nice bat, Shag has a Gold Bat, a couple Gold Gloves, a few All-Star appearances and was behind the plate for the two Championships earlier in the 30’s. While the team doesn’t really other options at Catcher, it’s worth noting that Hopkins has a vesting option requiring 300 AB’s. Shag has been healthy as a horse in his career, so it won’t seem that the vesting option would come into play…
RF SEMEI KWAKOU – AGE 19
RATED (65/80) (9/11/8/5/7)
- 2039 looks to be the BBA Debut of Future Superstar Semei Kwakou, a lefty Outfielder from Nigeria. At the plate, Semei looks to be able to do it all. Drafted in 2037, Semei has developed rapidly and looks like he’s ready for the big time. He’s struggled in his limited time in Spring Training so far, but there’s no doubt he could come out right out of the gate in 2039. However, will GM Shaw hold him in AAA for a couple of months to extend their rights with Semei for extra year?
SP AUGUSTO SANCHEZ - AGE 22
RATED (60/80) (9/6/7)
– A Third Round Pick in 2034, Sanchez surprised coaches and scouts, showing he has better Stuff and Movement in his arsenal that was predicted on draft day. He’ll need it as he doesn’t quite have the high end velocity on his fastball (90-92 MPH). But Augusto does throw a nasty curveball to compliment a solid Fastball and Cutter. Augusto had nice 2038 seasons, earning 9 wins in 27 starts with a 3.99 ERA and 3.0 WAR. He’s firmly entrenched as the #1 Starter in Sluggerville for the foreseeable future.
CF RONNIE HUBBARD – AGE 20
RATED (55/75) (7/8/9/5/6)
– Last season’s #1 Pick - 7th Over-all), Ronnie was drafted after two years of College. Hubbard is another well round hitter with excellent range in the Outfield. He already has a reputation and excitement is high for his eventual BBA debut. At only 20 years old, he may have more time to spend in AAA, but look for him in a Slugger uniform sometime in 2039.
P LANDO KLOMP – AGE 25
RATED 45/55 as SP (8/6/7 as SP) - Rate (75/80 as a RP)
– An 75 Rated Reliever last season, Klomp just hasn’t been able to put it together in the Bullpen. He throws hard and has great stuff, but just seemed to walk to many batters (5.3/9) and last season had trouble keeping the ball in the yard (2.4 HR/9). He blew 10 saves and lost 13 games. It’s unfathomable to see a pitcher with his skill struggle with a 6.51 ERA. For 2039, the Sluggers look to be experimenting with Lando as a Starter. He’s been sharp in two of his three starts, so that appears to be positive sign for the team.
SP CARLOS GUZMAN – AGE 26
RATED (50/50) (5/9/4)
– There’s nothing fancy about Carlos. He’ll look to be a guy who can throw a ton of innings from the middle of the rotation. He won 10 games last season with a 4.33 ERA and a respectable 2.3 WAR. If the Sluggers are going to go anywhere, they'll need production from guys like Guzman.
RF/LF PEDRO SALDANA – AGE 24
– Pedro has been one of the most consistent producers for the Sluggers over the last 4 seasons. He’s steals a ton of bases and tends to have an average .780 OPS. His average WAR in his 4 seasons is 1.6. He’s also a solid outfielder at either RF or LF. It’s great to have guys like Pedro that a manager can depend on.
MIDDLE INFIELD – 2B Bob Frazier (55/55) and SS Jaime Ramirez (55/55) form a nice Middle Infield for the Sluggers. Ramirez is an elite fielder, but a little shaky at the plate. Frazier has good power and is very capable at second base. Frazier played a part time role for Yellow Springs the last two seasons, but had 21 homers in just 224 plate appearances in 2037. The Sluggers currently don’t have a Lefty option at 2B to platoon Frazier with, so he’ll likely get a chance for a full time role this season.
SUMMARY & OUTLOOK
While it looks like the Louisville Sluggers are still in the midst of rebuilding, there appears to a few superstars ready to make their BBA appearances this season. Regardless of how many wins the team has, Fans are going to be excited to see Semei Kwakou, who can possibly lead the Sluggers back to the dominance they were used to seeing just 5 short seasons ago.
Outside of Augusto Sanchez, the Pitching Staff will be an adventure to keep stable. However, the Offense looks to have several nice pieces in place at the beginning of the season. There’s no question that the Slugger should definitely improve from the 60-something Win seasons from the last three years… There’s even a chance they could reach 80 wins.
Preseason Prediction - 73-78 Wins
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