Sep 22 2041: Vikings Mailbag: Cervantes Shelved; Weeks Promoted - by Cactusguy21 on July 28th, 2019
PRESQUE ISLE-- The Vikings young ace will not be available for the coming pennant race. Emilio Cervantes tore his rotator cuff, and will be out for 20 days. The 25-year old former first-round pick was having a breakout year for the Vikings, pitching to a 3.06 ERA and 4.14 FIP.
Cervantes was a minor waiver claim pickup over seven years ago, after Scottsdale cut him due to concerns about his control. After many years on the bubble in the minors, he finally got a shot at the bigs. His first two years consisted of forgettable performances from minor relief roles. But a shortage of quality starters led the Vikings to try Cervantes in the rotation this season, and he has not disappointed.
But where can the Vikings replace this performance, post trade-deadline? Although Cervantes will likely be back for his last few starts, he will still miss substantial time.
Stepping into a starting role is former starter Stan Seeley. Seeley impressed in his rookie year as a starter, but three consecutive season with ERA above 5.35 saw him bumped to the bullpen. Since then, Seeley has found a groove, and has become a very usable bullpen piece. This season in particular, Seeley has seen his FIP fall below 4.00 for the first time in his career. The club hopes he will be a servicable spot starter, although they are open to trying Jean-Robert Duvalier as a starter if needed.
Taking Seeley's spot in the pen is minor leaguer Walt Weeks. Weeks was picked out of high school in the third round of the 2035 draft. Although scouts are not high on his talent, he has carried sub-3.50 ERA and FIP in the minors, so there is certainly talent there, and his fastball is said to be one of the best in the organization.
The Vikings are now 4 games up on Vero Beach, although a critical sweep at the hands of the Gulls prevented them from gaining any more ground.
Jun 20 2041: Vikings Mailbag: Exploring Duvalier's breakout, Ortega busts out of slump with 3 HR, Sutherland benched. - by Cactusguy21 on July 3rd, 2019
PRESQUE ISLE-- It's not often a changeup specialist with 6 claims on waivers can produce for a team. But that's exactly what Jean-Robert Duvalier has done. With a fastball that tops out at 85 mph, and a weak slider, Duvalier isn't exactly a prototypical relief arm. But here he is, 20 innings into the season, and he hasn't surrendered a single earned run.
But what's behind this? Firstly, he has pinpoint control. He's only thrown 3 walks all year, compared to 7 strikeouts. Secondly, he's only surrendered one homer (which was unearned). And finally, he's killed lefties; they are 1 for 16 against him. Now, this isn't sustainable. He will start giving up homers, some runs will be earned, he won't maintain a .164 OBA forever. But Duvalier looks like he could stick around as a multi-inning reliever, impressive for a guy who's never posted an ERA south of 6.70 in a season.
Ortega hit 3 HRs in a single game this past series, can he finally make progress? Signs suggest no. His numbers are still pathetic, but are beginning to look similar to last year's, just with more power. It's gonna take a lot more to win the catcher job, and he's running out of time. Kaline will be up soon.
The Vikings have a new second baseman. 29yo Santiago Santana has come over on waivers. The Vikings are only his second major league team. He is currently hitting 9 for 28 with 4 XBH for us. Hopefully, he provides that spark that Sutherland couldn't.
May 03 2041: Vikings Mailbag: Minor Transactions, Plus Ben Russell is even more awesome. - by Cactusguy21 on June 20th, 2019
PRESQUE ISLE-It's the end of an era in PI. Yesterday, reliever Federico Cadena was claimed unopposed off waivers. To make room for him, lefty Kang Dae On was released. On was the first draft pick made by Cactusguy21 ever, taken in the first round of 2033. In his time with the Vikings, he compiled 697.2 IP with a 4.64 ERA. The organization wishes him well in his future endeavors.
Now, for more uplifting news:
What in the world is up with Ben Russell? The All-Star 1B is slashing .369/.391/.631 this season in 27 league games. That is unbelievable. Obviously LLVI pitching is worse than LLV or LLIV but still, this is a huge breakout year for Russell. He's never hit more than 23 HR in a season and already has 7. Scouts have said for a long time he could have elite power, and it's finally arrived. He's no longer just a contact hitter who gets a lot of doubles. He's a complete superstar slugger, at the age of 30.
And Russell isn't the only player having an insane year. LF Marcos Diaz is finally putting together a great campaign. He still sits against lefties, but starting in a platoon role for 21 games, he's hitting .349/.407/.663, which is totally MVP numbers. He even has 7 stolen bases to add to that.
If those two keep it up, it will be a fun year.
Apr 18 2041: Vikings Mailbag: Is it time to panic about Ortega and Sutherland? - by Cactusguy21 on June 16th, 2019
PRESQUE ISLE - Gold Glove winner Federico Ortega has been, in a word, atrocious at the plate. He's still throwing out 40% of base stealers (which is also worse than last year), but in 62 AB he is hitting .113/.141/.194. Obviously, the Vikings will give a young player a long leash, but the fact of the matter is that he's actively hurting the team right now. This isn't just a slump. It's an Ice Age.
Oliver Sutherland is also a dead weight at the minute. The former first rounder is hitting .145/.185/.194. He has yet to break the mendoza line in a season, and time is running out for him. The lack of second basemen in the system is the only thing protecting him.
And to be clear, these are really, really bad performances, and are by players with very little or even negative hitting track records. Other slumping players include SS Rodolfo Paez (.197/.286/.443, 61 AB) and 3B Julian Gonzalez (.220/.283/.244, 41 AB). But these guys differ in that they both have had sustained success in the majors, and that those statlines are nowhere near as atrocious as Ortega or Sutherland. Paez and Gonzalez are simply slumping. And in the case of Gonzalez, he's been hampered by injury.
And yes, the rest of the lineup has been stellar. Diaz and Russell are having career years. Jolly and Roldan have been solid, and Zelaya has shown improvement. The Vikings are treading water. But they need to start winning, and to do that, they need bats 6-9 to start warming up.
Apr 03 2041: Vikings Mailbag: Ybarra Pitches Shutout, Roldan On Fire - by Cactusguy21 on June 12th, 2019
PRESQUE ISLE- The Vikings started off their season with a 2-2 Cup performance and a 5-2 regular season performance.
On March 31st vs. Fairfax, Uncontested Waiver Signing Julio Ybarra pitched a 4-hit complete game shutout in only 90 pitches. The journeyman pitcher, on his ninth team, was elated to throw his fourth shutout of his career, and his first since 2037. Upon making the final out, he ran and hugged catcher Federico Ortega for what seemed an eternity.
"When you're unopposed claim, or a free agent signing, you know you're running out of chances. So to prove I belong, that's special", said the Lousiville, KY native.
Ybarra pitched 6.2 IP, surrendering 1 ER, in a stellar cup start. The Vikings lost, 2-3.
Other notes of interest:
DH and leadoff hitter Luis Roldan is off to a scorching start, going 9/19 with 2 HR and 3 SB in the first seven games. The reigning MVP is looking to keep his late-career resurgence alive.
After an abysmal cup showing that led to widespread rumors of the end of his PI tenure, Arnold Kaufman tossed 7.1 scoreless IP in League play, racking up 2 SV and 2 HLD.
In a spot start for the injured Percy Singleton, Sonny Harter shined with a 1 ER 6 IP performance. He could see a starting role if Cervantes or Doyle continue to falter.