Friday, February 22, 2008

The state of the Iron Division: The Southtown Misers

When Henry Vance took over the Syracuse franchise four years ago, the team was in complete shambles: there were no good players, young or veteran, not much in terms of draft picks, and virtually no money in the bank. Since then, Henry has led his Southtown Misers to two playoff berths, including one this year - narrowly squeaking by thanks to the undeniable virtues of home cooked meals.

Now, it’s back to square one. Well, not exactly. At least the roster has a few interesting trading chips that the Misers can turn into valuable commodities for the future. The rebuilding process is already underway in Southtown, with Roy Halladay having been sent to Meridian (who in turn shipped him to Plainsfield). For a first draft pick and a promising slugger. More trades are sure to follow in the next few weeks.

The present

On offense

The core players here are Victor Martinez, one of the better catchers (offensively at least - .892 OPS) in Brass, 2Bman Ian Kinsler (.796 OPS), 3Bman Troy Glaus (.839), the ageless ex-Expo Moises Alou (.916 OPS, although in only 355 plates appearances), and probably the most valuable player of all the current Misers, Placido Polanco, with a .341/.388/.458 to go along with a mind-boggling 2e0 rating at second base. Ryan Church also brings something to the table with an .813 OPS, .866 against right-handed pitchers. Finally, Scott Hairston will be useful with his .801 OPS versus RHP (although his. 689 OPS vs lefties is weak).

Unfortunately, two key and expensive players had horrible 2007 seasons: Andrew Jones (.726 OPS) and Vernon Wells (.706), although they redeem themselves a little with their Gold Glove caliber defense.

The pitching

Basically, it comes down to Joe Blanton and Noah Lowry on the starting front, and Juan Cruz and Manny Delcarmen in the pen. That’s it. However, all but Cruz are still on Y-contracts.

The future

The future of the Misers will all depend of the return they get from their upcoming trades. The core of tradable players may just bring in enough future talent to make the rebuilding process a successful one. In addition, Stephen Drew is still a promising middle infielder, and Felipe Lopez, disappointing the last two years after an All-Star season with the Reds, is still young and could return to form, especially now that he doesn’t have to play such a demanding position as shortstop anymore.
Finally, the team has at least three promising youngsters in Scott Elbert, Angel Villalona, acquired in the Halladay trade, and Eric Hurley, even if they are a few years away.


This is an area where the franchise needs to improve dramatically. Financially, the team only has $621, 176 in the bank, and, now with the trade of Halladay, $21, 595, 332 committed next year, including the “bad” contracts (things happen) to Randy Johnson $3.5M), Sidney Ponson ($2.05M), and Cliff Politte ($1.55M).
Moreover, the Misers have traded most of their early picks in an attempt to field competitive teams the last two years: their #1, 2, 4, 5 in 2008, and their #2, 3 in 2009. They did get Meridians’s 2008 #1 pick in the aforementioned trade.

In conclusion, all is not lost for Southtown, but Henry will have to be shrewd with his next moves, both personnel-wise and money-wise.

0 Swings of the bat: