Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Ottawa Lynx - 2005 preview (in progress...) 

(Note: Since this is the Wild West hinterlands of the blogosphere, I'm going to try something new and write this preview iteratively. Rather than wait until the article is complete, which certainly won't be until after tomorrow's season opener in Louisville, and possibly wouldn't be until after I get back from vacation on April 17th. For now, I've filled in many of the main players. I will continue to fill in the gaps as I continue researching. The roster and very basic stat lines are available on the Lynx site. )

Finally out of the Sens long springtime shadow for a long-deserved moment in the sun, the Lynx had their largest media day turnout since their inaugural season yesterday. For the first time in as long as I can remember, both papers had multiple articles about the Lynx this morning.

With no competing NHL playoffs, the Lynx are hoping the increased attention will lead to a turnaround at the gates. If the spring weather can cooperate, this is a veteran team, mixed with a few top prospects that can win a few games and bring some fans back to the park.

The Rotation

The rotation, at least until the first call from the big club, looks rock solid this year. The top four starters all made at least a few appearances in the majors last year (it's not clear to me who will be the 5th starter. My guess would be Andy Mitchell or Brian McNichol, or maybe it'll just be a 4-man rotation with occasional sport start by someone else). The Orioles used 9 different starters last year so all 4 starters may make ML appearances this year.

RHP James Baldwin

Former AL All-Star with the White Sox. Ran into shoulder trouble, but is trying to work his way back after only 21 innings over 12 appearances the last two seasons. He's still only 33, so if the shoulder's ok, he could impress. He'll likely be the first to get the call to Baltimore when Bruce Chen gets traded for the 37th time (he of the 14 teams in 8 organizations since 2000), or if Sidney Ponson gets thrown in jail.

Baldwin has been named the Lynx's opening day starter.

RHP John Maine

The Orioles' top pitching prospect, Maine doesn't have overpowering stuff but has good command. He dominated AA to start 2004 (4-0, 2.25 ERA, 34/7 K/BB in 28 IP) struggled to start in AAA, but finished strong. Somewhere in between he was called up for an emergency start and was hit hard by the Twins.

RHP Dave Borkowski

Another guy who split the year between Ottawa and Baltimore, Borkowski was the Lynx opening

LHP Eric DuBose

Spent 2004 with the Orioles, even as their #2 starter at one point, before going down to injury.

The Bullpen

Most of the bullpen consists of returnees. Rakers, Rodriguez, Ormond, Byrdak, and Fiore all appeared with the club in 2004.

LHP Tim Byrdak
RHP Tony Fiore
LHP Brian McNichol
RHP Andy Mitchell
RHP Rodney Ormond
RHP Aaron Rakers

RHP Eddy Rodriguez

Split the season between Ottawa and Baltimore last year

RHP Jacobo Sequea
Sequea is slated to be the Lynx closer after notching 27 saves at AA Bowie last year. He's got a nasty slider and good movement on his fastball.

Eli Whiteside

One of Baltimore's top prospects and the best defensive catcher in the system.

Sal Fasano
Veteran with ML experience. His last ML appearance was a Moonlight Graham-like single at bat(a K) in 2 games with the Anaheim (in their pre "of LA" days) Angels. Prior to that he spent time with KC, Oakland and Colorado, logging as many as 216 at bats one year. As a comparison, former Lynx C Raul Casanova is on his comps list at baseballreference.com


Walter Young (1B)

Now here's a guy whose numbers jump out at you. Not only the Bowie-record 33 homers, but more the O-linemanesque 6'2" 295 lb. frame. With digits like that the imagination races. Are we looking at the second coming of Pedro Cerrano? Cecil Fielder? Mo Vaughn? Well according to Baseball America:

"Aside from his power he's a run produce who works counts and is willing to take a walk although he has holes on the inner half. They say a better comparison [than Calvin Pickering] might be to David Ortiz"

Wow. Sounds like my kind of player.

He's also better around the bag than you might expect from a gent his size.

He drew the most media attention of any of the Lynx yesterday, and will likely be a fan favourite too for good reason. The Lynx have been without a bonafide power hitter in the lineup (occasional Jack Cust appearances notwithstanding) for many years now. I'm looking forward to seeing Young take his cuts and park a few in the Canadian Tire parking lot.

Bernie Castro (2B)

Ed Rogers (SS)

Napoleon Calzado (3B)

Back for another spin after hitting .359 in AA in the Braves system last year.

(seemed overmatched last time here but may have developed)

Alejandro Friere


Bobby Darula

Ramon Nivar

Newest member of the Orioles organization, coming over from the Texas Rangers in exchange for Matt Riley.

Tim "Little Rock" Raines Jr.

Lynx fans are well familiar with Raines Jr. Although he doesn't quite have the plate discipline of his famous father (not many do), he does have the speed.

Keith Reed

Named the Orioles top prospect in 2001 by Baseball America, Reed also boasts one of the best arms in the system. Since both Reed and Raines are listed as centerfielders, I'm guessing Reed will end up in RF because of his arm.

Something I've occasionally wondered, but had never looked up until right now, is the Park Factor for Lynx Stadium. According to Baseball Prospectus 2005, Lynx Stadium has played as a slight hitters park in 2004 and 2003 with park factors of 1028 and 1008 (1000 represents the average park). In 2002 it was a pitcher's park with a PF of 987. As a frame of reference, it was similar to The Park Formerly Known as SkyDome (1032) and or U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago (1029). As yet another fame of reference, Coors Field in Colorado typifies the upper ranges of the scale with a PF of 1116.