The Pioneers began last season as one of the winniest teams in the last four years. A 92 loses regular season the first losing season since season two and also the first time the team finished last place in the National League West. To that end, Tacoma went into the offseason looking to rebuild the whole team, starting with the the pitching staff and go back to the oringal plan that was set up for this team during season three. Without further ado, let’s introduce you to your Season 9 Tacoma Pioneers:
For a franchise that has set the gold standard for the worst offense in the USMLB, it comes as no surprise that Tacoma will struggle to score no matter who's in the lineup. That said, Season 8 was a great year, which is below stanards for most teams in the league. Tacoma lead the league in stolen bases by a whopping 44 bases, but still below average for a team that has average around 300 stolen bases since season three. With major changes to the core of the offense I wouldn't be surprised if they broke the all time mark of 397 stolen bases this year.
1- RF Rich Blue (31 years old)- Blue returned to Tacoma during the offseason when his seven million dollar option accepted by the team, bringing stability back to the leadoff spot for the team. Blue holds the career record in the league with 492 stolen bases and will be expect to add to that total this year. Blue scored 93 runs in 152 games, with 85 stolen bases and a .279/.344/.307 line. Another similar year would be reasonable to expect.
2- LF Bobby Donnelly (23 years old) - Donnelly has rockted through the Pioneers farm system since being drafted during season six. This will be his first season at the major league level but if he could produce any where near his minor league numbers he could become a force to reckon with for a long time.
3- 1B Tony Armas (36 years old) - Armas has always been one of the best pure hitters in the league with a career batting average over .300. Last year Armas saw his numbers hit a all time low, he went .274/.372/.369. Armas will be look upon to be the power bat in the lineup for the team.
4- CF Tommy Mientkiewicz (29 years old)- Former All-Star Mientkiewicz came into the Nationa League hitting a brick wall, hitting .272/.330/.402, well below his average numbers in the American League. Mientkiewicz is into his second year in the National League so one could hope that his number will improve.
5- 3B Julio Ricon (28 years old) - Ricon was the big free agent signing for the team and will need provide constent numbers at the third base spot. With the hitters in front of him it would be expected that he would improve on his 31 one RBI's from last season.
6- 2B Anthony Bolling (31 years old) - Bolling has had several up and down years with last year begining an up year. His .282/.350/.321 was stellar but with Kevin Lloyd breathing down his neck and bad year could see him seating on the bench by the end of the season.
7- C Nigel Howard (28 years old) - Long time Pioneer Howard who has only played in 184 major league games in eight season will given a shot at the catching position once again. His bat has very little threat but this defense and pitch calling will keep him in the lineup.
8- SS Tommie Romero (33 years old)- Another player who has no problem slapping the ball around but has very little power. His 33 errors from last season is a concern for the team but with no options in the minor leagues he's the teams only option.
The bench will be filled by emerging 2B/LF Kevin Lloyd (six homeruns in 96 AB last season), slugging C Vic Franco (averaging 10HR's the last two season without getting over 200 at bats), RF Tim Kelly (23 HR's last season and could really put pressure on lot of players for playing time this year), and rule 5 draft pick Corky O'Conner.
With the offense expected to struggle but also put alot of pressure on defenses to control there speed the pitching staff is expected to carry the weight of the team if they have any chance of returning to a winning record.
After four seasons of being one of the best pitching staffs in the league but a 3.96 team ERA last season the worst number since season three. With most of the big name pitchers gone from the team alot of young pitchers will be through into the fire.
SP1- Luis Barajas (24 years old) - Barajas is only 24 years old but already has 91 career starts. He spent time with three different teams last season but showed how good he could be with a couple of starts for the team last in the season.
SP2- Jumbo Quevedo (22 years old) - Quevedo came from the team during the waiver wire. He has never started a game during the minor league game but the team is really expecting him to be a big suprise this season.
SP3- Edwin Saipe (34 years old) - After spending a couple season away from the Pioneers Saipe return the team where he saw his best success and didn't disappoint the team. Saipe led the team in victories last year with 13 and will be looked upon the be the workhorse and get over 200 innings pitched once again.
SP4- Steven Hill (21 years old) - One of the best pitching prospects in the league, Hill will be given his shot of proven he's ready for the Major Leagues this year. The team isn't expecting him to set the world on fire this year but keeping the bad outings down would be nice.
SP5- Pedro Aguliar (25 years old) - Don't let the 5-10 record fool you, Aguliar had a very nice season proving he could be a good major league pitcher. If Aguliar can find a way to get past the fifth inning every start he should see those win totals improve.
Closer- Ricardo Hernandez (29 years old) - Hernandez will be given the first shot of being the closer but if he struggles he will be quickly replaced and put into a setup role.
Setup- Miguel Pena (23 years old), Horacio Mieses (28 years old), Manny Krivda (22 years old), Mariano Belliard (28 years old) and Manny Barrett (26 years old)- Pena and Mieses could see time as a closer this season also and Krivda, Belliard and Barrett will need to be solid bridge during the middle innings.
Long Relief- Brook Spencer (24 years old). Nothing special here, but Spencer could find himself in the starting spot of the young pitchers struggle for a stretch.