By Rene Custeau
The Aspen Rainmakers have made several off-season moves to make an
attempt to pull themselves out of the gutter and into contention for the 2009
BRASSWORLD title. They knew going into the Free Agency draft that they were
in desperate need of a couple of power hitters and a whole new bullpen. They
had only retained two relievers (Dave Borkowski and Mike Gonzalez) from last
season and they both would be considered “mop-up” at best.
they dealt away starting pitcher Ryan Dempster to
Kelly Shoppach, Chris Carter and
gave the Rainmakers a young catcher to relieve Jason Kendall and provide the
team with some added pop. “It was tough giving up Dempster but we only had
him signed for the season and thought the deal was the right direction for the
favorite here and we took a lot of flack but the team had only produced 120
wins over the past two seasons so something had to be done.”
With Dempster gone the Rainmakers still have four pretty damn good
starting pitchers in Rich Harden, Adam Wainwright, Kevin Slowey and Scott
Kazmir. They next made a trade with Henry Vance of the Greenheads to pick
leftfielder, Alfonzo Soriano.
lefty relief specialist Matt Thornton. They gave up a lot but it was the
pick. Wheeler was the second pitcher added to
GM, Bench then opened up owner Rene Custeau’s wallet and spent
several millions of dollars in Free Agency, signing 2nd baseman Orlando Hudson
baseman Chone Figgins.
Scutaro at second and freeing him up to backup everyone else. Figgins would
give the Rainmakers some speed at the top of the lineup and replaced
disappointing Kevin Kousmanoff at 3rd. This move solidified the Rainmakers
infield. They now had Connor Jackson at first, Hudson at 2nd, Figgins at 3rd
with Jhonny Peralta and Jason Bartlet battling for shot.
Bench also signed 3 more significant relievers Grant Balfour, Darrin
Oliver, and Mike Adams. With these signings it could be said that the
Rainmakers have assembled the best middle relief crew this league has every
seen. Next, they signed starting pitcher, Hiroki Kuroda to replace the loss of
Ryan Dempster and will complement the rest of the starting staff.
With all the moves mentioned above the Rainmakers still needed the
one big bat in the middle of the lineup. With their infield all set they needed to
find an outfielder with some considerable pop. There really wasn’t anything
left in the Free Agency so they turned toward other teams looking for a trade.
inquired very early on about Adam Dunn’s future in
were interested in starting pitching and had mentioned Dempster, Blanton and
Cha Seung Baek,” Bench was quoted as saying. “When GM Peter Blake
contacted us (Rainmakers) we had already dealt Dempster and weren’t willing
to part with Blanton so it was Baek who was shipped to the Bum’s for Dunn.
now anchoring the middle of
with Soriano in left, Winn in center and Dunn in right.
So, the Rainmakers added two big bats and a slugging catcher to their
lineup (Soriano, Dunn & Shoppach) as well as rebuilding their bullpen.
(Wheeler, Thornton, Oliver, Adams, & Balfour). They have replaced starter
Ryan Dempster for Hiroki Kuroda and added Figgins & Hudson to their infield.
Who knows if they will be able to win it all next year? One thing we can say for
sure is they have worked hard at assembling a team that will definitely be
much more competitive than the last two seasons and, with a little luck,
compete for the infamous BRASSWORLD title.
Chone Figgins, 3B
Randy Winn, CF
Alfonzo Soriano, LF
Adam Dunn, RF
Jhonny Peralta, SS
Kelly Shoppach, C
Hiroki Kuroda, SP
Kevin Slowey, SP
Scott Kazmir, SP
Rich Harden, SP
Adam Wainwright, SP
Dan Wheeler, RP
Matt Thornton, RP
Grant Balfour, RP
Mike Adams, RP
Darrin, Oliver, RP