Indianapolis signs MR Oliver White, $2.08 million, one-year

The four-year Baltimore bullpen veteran, Oliver White, has chosen to sign a one-year deal with Indianapolis Express for a little over $2 million. White has pitched 333.2 innings, 22-11 win/loss record, 2.86 ERA, 254 Ks, 3.4 total WAR). White provides the Express with a lefty from the bullpen, which was greatly needed, since Hiroaki Kobayashi was the only left-handed reliever available for use.


EC Atlantic – New York Titans Preview

I”m not sure I even recognize this New York team. A very busy off-season for the Titans, and it appears they have gained talent overall.

Key Arrivals

LF Dave Cooley – free agent signing
SP Alberto Rodriguez – trade with LA
SP Antonio Rodriguez – free agent signing
SP Ricardo Maestas – trade with POR
MR Curt Wells – free agent signing
C Yoshitake Sakai – free agent signing
1B – Ricardo Jimenez – trade with CAR
…honestly a lot of additions

Key Departures

SP Jesus Castillo – waived, claimed by BAL
LF Jovan Buturovic – trade with POR
SP Stan Wright – trade with CAR
C Richard Williams – free agency
SP Fernando Rios – trade with POR
MR Mario Gallo – trade with SF

Statistically speaking, the New York Titans gained the fourth highest WAR with 4.8. Jimenez and the two Rodriguezs’ are likely the biggest additions, but you can’t undervalue the talent of LF Dave Cooley and some of the other arrivals.

Alberto Rodriguez has played his entire career in LA, amassing quite the totals in 113 games or 809.1 IP (52 Wins, 2.69 ERA, 604 Ks, 22.8 WAR). The Titans have the 35 year old for one-year, $16 million against their cap. After being injuring in 2015, a lot of speculation amongst media had retirement in the future for Rodriguez, but he bounced back in 2016 to have one of his best seasons.

First baseman, Ricardo Jimenez, is an interesting acquirement. He has only played 97 games, at the major league level, but has struggled to maximize his power potential.

“…(Jimenez) has huge power. We will be working and watching his swing closely this spring in hopes to harness that power,” says the Titans hitting coach.

This is a team that went 87-67 last season, earning a wildcard playoff birth, but lost to the division rivals and eventually champions, Boston Braves. Hard to imagine, but I believe this New York team has gotten better and are favorites to win the Atlantic.

EC Atlantic – Miami Marauders Preview

Miami Marauders finished, 69-85, 5th in their division during the 2016 campaign. General Manager, Scott Sherry, is looking to elevate the team to the next level as they have improved each year, but have yet to break .500.

Key Arrivals

CF Manlio Ferraroti – trade with SEA
SS Yoshiaki Araki – trade with SEA
2B David Lopez – free agent signing

Key Departures

3B Oualid Huard – trade with SEA
SP Mark Brown – trade with SEA

Miami Marauders made their biggest off-season splash by acquiring shortstop, Yoshiaki Araki, from Seattle. While quite the price to pay, $18 million, Araki is a defensive wiz and contact specialist. He has battle small injuries throughout his career and hopes to play a ‘complete’ season.

The Marauders added another bat with center fielder, Manlio Ferraroti, obtained through a trade with Seattle, once again. Miami hopes the experience of the championship with the Braves and the defensive skill-set of Ferraroti, bring success.

Cap wise, Miami sits at a modest $89.1 million, so their is room to do things. Miami has a very deep minor league system ranked overall 2nd, with 1B A. Dominey (5th), P K. Dickinson (10th), P C. Parks (11th), P C. Lopez (16th), and 3B J. Lenglet (20th).

Miami Marauders have a bright future ahead of them, but 2017 doesn’t appear to be their breakout season.

SP Albin Ciliberto signs one-year deal worth $5 million, Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Bulldogs, who have had a quiet off-season, added SP Ciliberto to a one-year deal. Albin Ciliberto owns a lifetime ERA of 3.58 over 124 starts, with over 500 strikeouts. Ciliberto, coming off his worst season stats-wise, posted a 4.74 ERA, but denied any inclination of age being a factor at 32.

“(age) has nothing to do with it, in my mind. I lost focus while in Chicago and hope to regain that back in the (EC) central,” proclaimed Ciliberto during an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

SS Ben Richardson, headed back on the ‘Express’, 1-year $5 million

The Indianapolis Express announced their signing of shortstop, Ben Richardson, for a one-year $5 million dollar deal. Richardson, who had a down year, played for Minnesota and hit 16 HRs, 71 RBIs, and a .238 batting average. Before that, Richardson has played three seasons with Indianapolis and saw a great deal of success hitting 80 HRs, 256 RBIs, and a .281 average over his tenure with Indianapolis.

“I love the area, fans, and ballpark,” exclaimed Richardson, after signing his new contract.

Ben Richardson turned down multiple deals, including a similar deal from Pittsburgh of $5 million, one-year.

EC Atlantic – Boston Braves Preview

Next up, we have the preview for the defending champions, Boston Braves. Boston went 92-62, winning their division, and eventually winning it all. The Braves cap hit this season sits at $114.3 million, which sits at the 6th highest. Let’s look at some key arrivals and departures for the Braves;

Key Arrivals

LF Jovan Buturovic – trade with POR
SP Richard Green – trade with SEA
1B Fernando Chavez – free agent signing

Key Departures

CF Manlio Ferraroti – trade with SEA
LF John Evans – released, picked up by COL
SP Alonso Ortiz – free agency, CAR acquired

The biggest departure will be 20-game winner, Alonso Ortiz who departed for free agency, ultimately signing a 3-year, $30 million deal with Carolina. Ortiz was injured near the end of the season and required Tommy John surgery for a torn UCL. He is currently 5-6 months away from a return. Boston will try to replace Ortiz’s 6.8 WAR with SP Richard Green, who had a 5.1 WAR in 2015. Green, who missed the 2016 season with a torn flexor tendon (elbow), is fully recovered and ready for 2017.

“…it has been rough. After having a great season, getting hurt, then being bounced around a couple teams has hurt my confidence a little, but has given me motivation to perform at the same standards. My elbow feels great, and I’m ready to show the teams who passed on me, I still have it,” expressed Richard Green to ESPN reporters. Green was traded three times while injured (IND, SF, SEA).

If you look at the 2017 Off-season, WAR Gained, Boston ranks lastly with -10.9 WAR. This does include SP Richard Green, as he was injured last season. A more accurate WAR Gained, should show -5.8 WAR. The power void left by two-time all-star, John Evans, should be minimal as he hit 29 home runs last season. The Brave’s Dwyer, Tredgett, and Gomes combined for 100 long balls during the 2016 regular season.

While Boston may rank at the bottom for WAR Gained during off-season departures and arrivals, this team’s most concerning aspect is replacing the wins created by SP Alonso Ortiz. Can Richard Green fill that hole and allow for Boston to make another run in the postseason? Outlook good, but the minor league system seems quite depleted with no ‘Top 100 Prospects’.

EC Atlantic – Baltimore Captains Preview

Well, we are going to kick the previews off in the Eastern Conference, Atlantic division.  First up, we have the Baltimore Captains.  Just an advisory, these are my opinions for all the previews, and I apologize if I don’t rate your team as high as you would like, but I wish everyone luck this year!

Key Arrivals

SP Yukichi Kato – claimed off waivers from CAR
SP Wilson Norales – free agent
RF Carlos Castro – free agent
SP Jesus Castillo – claimed off waivers from NY
SP Michael Parker – trade with SF
CL Brian Patterson – trade with SF

Key Departures

SP Kevin Anderson – trade with SF
MR Oliver White – free agency
LF Lawrence Bones – free agency

Baltimore finished last season, 62-92, and last in their division. This is a team that has struggled, losing records each year, since winning the championship in the inaugural year of NBL. The Captains have a new ‘captain’, Hurston Pittman, who took over Baltimore GM duties near the end of last season. A busy off-season hopes to right the ship.

The most notable movement of players was trading their ace starting pitching, Kevin Anderson, to San Francisco for some quality NBL players and prospects. This was a trade that appeared to help each team but only time will tell. Reliever, Oliver White, will be greatly missed by the team, as he was one of the few lefties the bullpen sports and he posted a 1.2 WAR (2.95 ERA over 94.2 IPs).

The Baltimore Captains have a low cap hit of only $62.5 million this year. They are expected to work on an extension with their star, SS Larry ‘Mr. Magnificent’ Spence, throughout the season. He is scheduled to make $12.5 million this year.

“(Baltimore)…has been a great experience. I want to bring this team back to the championship we won back in 2013, and we are on track for success,” states two-time all-star, Larry Spence.

This team plays in a very competitive division, as their division has represented the EC in the NBL championship all four years, each with a different team(Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Boston). The Captains will have to navigate through the tough division waters to emerge, once again, in the NBL Championship.