Thursday, August 6, 2009

Moving Pitchers: Season 13 Relocation Report

After losing only three owners between seasons 11 and 12, Hunter endured an unusually high turnover prior to S13 with five vacancies. Luckily for the league and its stable of long-time owners, the incoming class of rookie owners is perhaps the strongest in Hunter history.

Huntington Hellions (deaconsoule), formerly Iowa City Hawkeyes (kevbo65)

After a long history of futility that has included ten sub-.500 seasons and six owners in twelve seasons, the Huntington franchise has added a capable and experienced owner in deaconsoule, a veteran of 31 HBD seasons. Though the franchise stands in mild disarray as of the beginning of the season, the Hellions have chosen to retool for the future by slashing payroll and investing heavily in amateur and international scouting. And while the prospects to be gleaned this season will remain several seasons off, the Hellions have added several capable veterans including Bruce Grey, Malcolm Hiljus, and eight-time All-Star SS Eduardo Gonzalez. While it remains to be seen whether Huntington can compete this season with Washington or Rochester in the AL East, the future looks bright for a franchise that finally has a plan of action.

Scranton Scrapples (jying98), formerly Dover Blue Crabs (testudo34)

Taking the reins of the former Burlington and Philadelphia franchise is jying98, another veteran owner who has experienced considerable success with 13 playoff appearances in 42 seasons. While S12 could charitably be described as a lost season, Scranton has a leg up on the competition due to the acquisition of Rule 5 pick Walt Lowery. Beyond Lowery, the most talented R5 draftee in recent years, the Scrapples possess a sound veteran core that could rebound nicely and, given a few breaks, compete in the relatively soft AL East division.

Austin Coeur d’Alenes (madmuldoon), formerly Tampa Bay Tornados (tk21775)

Joining the usual suspects in Hunter is noted blogger and humorist madmuldoon, yet another experienced HBD owner with 63 seasons under his belt. MM is likely to need his sense of humor this year, as his new franchise has not reached the postseason since S2 and boasts only a single winning season out of the past nine. The Coeur d’Alenes have already helped themselves with the acquisitions of Alex Nomo, the AL Silver Slugger at catcher last year, and have dedicated a significant portion of their financial resources toward amateur and international scouting.

New Orleans Creole Crawfish (andersaa), formerly New Orleans Zydeco (krushers)

Longtime Hoops and Gridiron Dynasty owner andersaa makes his Hunter debut with the Crawfish, a franchise that has enjoyed substantially more success in the recent past than most of his relocating brethren. Unfortunately, while the memory of the FatNasty’s 115-win campaign in S7 lingers in fans’ memories, the mediocre results of the Zydeco over the past three seasons leaves a great deal of room for improvement. Andersaa wasted no time in surrounding stars Ben Beamon and Sammy Moraga with supporting players, including promising rookie SS Buzz Abernathy and veteran 1B Horace Carr. While the San Juan juggernaut likely puts the NL South title out of reach, the Crawfish are considered dark horse candidates in the race for one of the two NL Wild Card tickets.

Jacksonville VelociRaptors (timf), formerly Santa Fe Flyers (bearclan1)

Timf once again serves Hunter as a fill-in owner by taking over the VelociRaptors for short-lived owner Spacemonkey7. After capturing a Wild Card spot in Seasons 10 and 11, the former Flyer franchise fell on hard times the past couple of years, finishing each below .500 and well out of postseason contention. Thankfully, timf has several useful players on his ML roster, including slugging SS Miguel Lopez, star 1B David Trenidad, and de facto ace Juan Jacquez. Like most of the other recently relocated teams, the VelociRaptors have budgeted $20 million toward prospects, leading many to believe that a worthwhile rebuilding program is already underway in Jacksonville.

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