>Block Heads Season 9 Review
After a thrilling Season 8, one which saw the Block Heads become the class of the AL for the first 120 games, fans were left holding their heads in their hands wondering what could have been. The amazing collapse of Season 8 and their narrow miss of their first season in the playoffs was a bitter pill to swallow. Management who took over after Season 2 promised a contender within 5 seasons. While Season 8 left the Block Heads with their best record ever, both Management & fans grow impatient hoping for that miracle season.
Management has made a commitment to winning ASAP. Bold moves like trading three heralded prospects for future Hall of Famer, Craig Hooper, have been applauded by many in the league as gutsy and Management has vowed to do whatever necessary to further this team’s improvement. As usual, the lineup is among the elite, they seem to have found their closer in 24 year old David Wang, but Block Heads Season 9 will only go as far as their rotation will take them.
The LineupWith two hitters over 50 HR’s last year and one who has done it on four occasions, and another four who hit over 25 last year, the power of the Block Heads will continue to be felt league wide.
1B- 24 Year old, MVP candidate Mikey Knotts is showing why he was the number one pick in Season 3 and Managements first draft pick ever. Last year he made his 1st all star team and was winner of the Season 8 Home Run Derby. Management showing its commitment to Knotts gave him a 5 year, $41.5M contract in the offseason and looking forward to pecilling his name into the three whole for years to come.
2B- Season 7 MVP Frank “Super” Starr selflessly moved from his home in RF where he had won 2 gold gloves and 2 silver slugger awards to try and fill the void at second last year with amazing results in the field, making only 5 errors in a full season and narrowly getting beaten out for the gold glove there. While his glove was certainly silver, if not golden, his bat went from silver to ash. Having averaged just shy of 50 HR and over 130 RBI’s over his 6 year career, the Block Heads are expecting a huge rebound. That’s a warning to AL pitchers.
SS- 25 year old Rickey “The Rock” Sutton looks to reclaim his spot as everyday SS for the Block Heads. His defense is excellent and his bat is powerful, as SS’s go. He just needs to be his solid self and things should fall into place for the Season 9 Block Heads.
3B- Another team player making a position move (actually his second in his ML career) is Bret Zambrano. Originally a SS when he arrived in Season 3 he moved to 2B in Season 4 to find a home for his bat, and now when called upon to fill the void at 3B he again stepped up and did the job. So well in fact, that he was named to his 1st All Star team in Season 8.
LF- Last year’s NABCL’s smash acquisition, Craig Hooper will now have a full season in LF for the Block Heads. His power is renown and his place in the Hall of Fame is being solidified with years like he had in Season 8… 55, 121, 119, .295 and a .992 OPS. Overlooked was his making NO errors in LF in Season 8 and he covets a gold glove to show his game is complete. Management picked up his option immediately and is already in negotiations to signing him to another contract.
CF- Management has seen thei payroll increase over the past 4 seasons from $36M to $55M to $69M and now at $84M something had to give. That something was Antoine Burks. His down season followed by his $8M+ contract demand made his departure a foregone conclusion. First crack to replace him will be given to 2 time AAA all star Joshua “No Mas AAA!” Duran, who has patiently waited for a spot in this heralded Block Head lineup to open up and Alex “You doesn’t have to call me” Johnson who’s defense should cause some eyes to open up with his range and his glovework.
RF- After a down year in Season 8, one in which Clarence Yearwood moved from LF to RF to open a spot up for Craig Hooper. The Block expect a bounce back to his normal BA of nearly .280-.300 and over 100 RBI’s.C- Having made the All Star team the past two seasons Orlando Bennett is finally getting the respect he deserves. As one pundit put it last year ‘The Block Heads will go as far as Bennett and his pitch calling will take them.” Last year that was almost good enough. Knowing again that the Block Head pitching rotation will be void of a classic ace and a rotation just trying to get 5 or 6 innings to their talented bullpen, never has a team’s fate been so tied into one C’s pitch calling.
DH/Bench- The DH duties will again be handled mainly by former 3 time All Star Placido Blanco. While his bat has slowed some, he still can drive runners in and provide leadership for the younger Block Heads. After a very solid rookie campaign, 24 year old, Javier Melo will once again backup Bennett at C. With Johnson and Duran playing IF supersub on their non-CF days, rule 5 pickup from Season 8, Harry Lopez will stick around, pinch hit, pinch run and be a defensive replacement in the OF.
With no Starter having under a 4.65 ERA you can see where the blame for the Block Heads Season 8 collapse falls upon. The bullpen was stellar in many cases and hopes to live up to last season’s reputation.
Starters- After having his first full season in the rotation, David Small (10-8) could be finally turning the corner to becoming a solid mid-rotation starter. The newest off season acquisition and at 41 years old, the senior member of the Block Heads staff, Rafeal Vidal (14-5 for Philly) will try to teach and set a solid example to the starting staff.
At 9-9, 35 year old Wes Patterson was a workhorse who showed signs of his prior winning ways, but could never quite get things t come together. At 25, Tripp Hayes (10-15) is trying to solidify a spot in the rotation. Inconsistent, he showed signs of brilliance last year and Block Heads can only hope he can string some more of those games together. The final starter spot will be given first crack at by Jeff Magnante. In the past, Jeff had 2 winning season’s before needing a refresher at the AAA level at how to pitch and win. Hopefully that will again translate into Block head wins at the ML level.
Long Relief- The Block Heads, once again leading the team in wins was Jeremy Brock (15-6). As always he was in about 100 games and pitched almost 150 innings.He is still the best bet to bridge the gap from the starters to the setup man/closer. Due to contractual demands we did lose a favorite in Reid Myers who was a spectacular 11-0. The Block Heads are hoping that Desi Mantalban and Jolbert DeRojas can pick up the slack and finally have winning ML seasons.
Setup/Closer- Jorge Aramboles will start taking a larger load late in the game this year. Joe Jones will again work primarily against righties in tight situations. Jorge Martin is expected to be the main setup man, after a solid Season 8. 24 year old closer David Wang comes back again this year after making a solid run at the Fireman of the Year Award and having been named to his 1st All Star team.
1B Sam Hernandez is very likely to see time at the big league level as his bat has been so solid at the AAA level.
SS Both Bronson Lee and Wayne Davey are biding their time at AAA, but with young Rickey Sutton entrenched at the ML level and each of their updsides reaching into the 80’s they look to be trade bait to bring in some much needed pitching help.
LF Rich Francis (The other guy brought back in the Hooper trade) looks solid in AA and may be Hooper’s replacement in 3 or 4 years as the Block Head’s LF’er, who knows?
CF Steven Crosby, last year’s 1st round pick had a monster half year in Rookie ball and is making the jump right to Hi A at just 19yrs. old.
SP Felix Blake, Emmanuel Lopez and Carlos Barcelo are all solid in AAA and will be brought up should any of the ML’ers falter.
RP Apollo O’Halloran and Phil Moreno both drafted in Season 8 look to be solid prospects.
With perennial powerhouses Philadelphia and Fargo looking as tough as ever, you know that the Block Heads Management will be looking to make that key trade that just might put them over the top and make “wait until next year”, this year!