The Bulls hope for a repeat in Season 14, having secured their first World Series title by dethroning the 4-time champs, the Cincinnati Reds. The Bulls return 21 of the 25 members of the S13 squad, which was transformed by several in-season blockbusters last year.
C- Ricardo Gongora will see a good amount of time behind the plate against RHP and as a late-inning defensive replacement who can keep Pedro Martin fresh for the playoffs. Martin's DUR is the only thing that keeps him from being recognized as one of the best C in the league.
1b- Horacio Lopez & Wascar Martinez will split time, with Lopez getting the majority of the at-bats (hopefully 450), with Martinez helping out in LF to get him around 300 Abs.
2b- Two seasons, two MVPs, one WS title – yeah, Albert Johnson was worth the max contract.
3b- Oswaldo Santos took home his 3rd consecutive Gold Glove award with the usual excellent offensive production. Tony Bolivar backs up at 3b, 2b and SS in a pinch.
SS- Esteban Galarraga won the Gold Glove in his first full season and was robbed of the ROY award. He'll hit 9th, score a bunch of runs and play outstanding defense as he grows and matures.
LF- Rafael Almanzar signed to provide some pop as a 2b/LF/1b platoon partner for Martinez & Lopez and a backup to Al's Johnson.
CF- Offensive superstar Ramon Ishida platoons with defensive superstar Albert Gonzales, at least until some kind of full-time option can be procured via trade.
RF- Harold Bonds looks to build on a very good first full season in the majors.
DH- The incomparable Frank Gates returns, his skills slowly eroding and certainly dropping his career OBP below .500. But since he'll still get 200 hits and 100 walks, he'll play until those ratings really start to slide.
SP- Venerable warhorses Britt Swindell , Dwight Johnson and Cam Anderson return to anchor the rotation. Anderson retained enough value after his late-season TJ injury to be-resigned to hold down the 3rd slot. Bobby Ray Fox returns to provide depth and a fresh arm, either in the rotation or as the mop-up man, with Mac Hampton as the “just-in-case” last man on the staff.
SP/RP- Bulls management has a fondness for guys who don't have enough DUR/STA to be starters but would be wasted in some other teams' bullpen from underuse. Chris Koehlert , Roy Little and Chad Sanders will combine to throw 450 innings this season, as tandem starters in the 5th spot, LRAs and SuA.
RP- Mixing & matching parts in the bullpen, the Bulls will look to Moises DeJesus , Raymond Marte Heath O'Brien and Tom Waters in the late innings. Waters will likely earn most of the saves, but Marte is probably the relief ace.
Overall, the Bulls look to be slightly worse from last season's champions. Downgrading from Winston Ulrich to the Martinez/Almanzar/Lopez clusterbuck might costs the team runs scored, while saving a few on defense. Billy Ulrich will be missed for his bat against RHP, as Gongora is not a good hitter. But the hope is the increase in PC and control of the running game on defense will help offset things. The pitching is just a year older...and prone to injury. But if everything goes well, and the young guys continue to improve, there's no reason Durham can't take home World Series title #2 in Season 14.