Thursday, June 26, 2008

Season 9 Preview- St. Louis Pathfinders

There are two questions buzzing throughout the Mordecai World relating to the St. Louis Pathfinders. The first is, "Will you trade Travis Brown?" and the second is "Will you trade Alex Johnson?" While about a dozen teams have asked those burning questions, there will actually be a Major League season played Season 9.

This season the St. Louis outfield will feature a platoon in left field, as veteran Cookie Moreno and Jerry Belitz split time, most likely keeping the spot warm for an early season call-up for Travis Brown. In the meantime Moreno and Belitz will be joined in center by Brandon Sandberg, who actually performed a adequate job Season 8, hitting .262 with 54 RBI and 16 steals while playing solid defense. Right field will be roamed by Pablo Castro, who tallied a franchise record 100 steals last season. While this lineup will not break many offensive records, the speedy group will cover much ground.

The infield echoes the defensive assets of the outfield, and also unfortunately has the same lack of Pathfinder offense. Defensive minded shortstop J.T. Barber anchors the infield that will include third baseman Vincenzo Hutton (18 homers, 66 RBI last year) and second baseman Jeff Clark (10 home runs, 64 RBI, 70 steals). Matty Molina will play first, hoping to improve on his 28 home run, 70 RBI rookie season. The 70 steals of Clark and Castro's 100 steals will move runners around the bases again for the Pathfinders this season, but unfortunately that'll be the only way to move around since the bats will be rather silent again this year in St. Louis.

Behind the dish veteran Mo Roundtree comes in to hopefully reign in the wild pitching staff, as well as hit a bit. Backup Ross Jodie, a former (sad as it is to say) bright spot in the franchise's offense, will get some needed rest and settle into the correct role as the #2.

The pitching staff will be an adventure again in St. Louis. B.C. Harris, Cookie Miranda, and Moises Lee will anchor the starters. Last year the trio won only 15 games, led by Lee's 8-7 mark. Todd Kroon and Wayne Lambert round out the starting staff and are simultaneously unspectacular and innings eaters, but hopefully will see some flashes of being average. Mike Cooper moves into the closer role, held the past few seasons by veteran Mark Miller. Cooper is a rising star in the Pathfinder universe and has set a personal goal of 20 saves this season.

The long and short of things in St. Louis this year is another long season of poor pitching and low run totals. Speculation is they'll improve over the 45 wins next season, but getting up to 60 wins would be a moral victory for this long rebuilding effort. The Pathfinder fans will hopefully see the world of double-digit loss seasons by Season 10.

Prediction: 56-106