104 wins last season, .700+ winning percentage this season, 3 straight playoff appearances and on their way to a fourth and Syracuse is still making bold moves.
Bold may be too calm of a word to use when describing the moves Syracuse has made within the past two weeks. Former gold glove LF’er Michael Chavis, platoon power hitter Chad Kroger (#2 on the team in HRs) along with top prospects MR Alan Alexander, SP Christopher Machamer, SP Thatcher Brown, and SP Bud Robertson among others who were highly thought of in the Syracuse organization. Wow, that’s a lot when you look at it like that but seeing what Syracuse received in return puts a smile on fans faces.
Dubbed “The Evil Empire” by many fans across the country and even by some GM’s in the CBL, they received some much needed bats to bolster their offense and supplement their great pitching. With perennial MVP candidate DH Miguel Cabrera out for 5 weeks and Anthony Rendon, Addison Russell, and Billy Hamilton playing well below their capabilities while sitting in the lineup with light hitting Christian Vazquez, and Michael Chavis something had to be done, and done quickly for the Orange to keep up with their high standard of play. While acquiring some solid lower level prospects in their recent deals they’ve also picked up some big bats starting with catcher Reese McGuire. While Reese has never had a season with an OPS over 800 he is still closer to 24 years old than 25 and so far in this early season he has an OPS almost at 800, towards the tops in the league at his position, at his age he could become a star in the CBL.
While replacing Chavis’s glove may be impossible, his bat was very easy to replace. Justin Williams acquired from Charlotte through Altoona in a 3-way deal is only 24 years old and has a solid mitt for left field. While Williams didn’t exactly light it up in his rookie year last season, scouts love him and has already put up a very respectable stat line of .300/.354/.499 so far this season.
One of the more intriguing players in the deal is RF Alfredo Franco. If Franco played every day he would be a gold glove winner every season, and while he’d also probably hit 30+ HRs the rest of his game is what makes him a platoon player. While Miggy is sitting due to injury it is expected that Franco will be playing right field verses RHP moving Puig to DH. Against start LHP it is expected that Franco moves to the bench with a bat in his hand awaiting the later innings when a right handed reliever comes into the game. When Cabrera comes back from his injury it is expected that Franco will be filling in at the corner outfield spots, maybe even at CF as BJ Boyd is expected to be optioned to AAA Fort Lauderdale upon Caberea’s return.
The offense while looking good on paper and even in the statbook just didn’t seem to deliver the runs that Syracuse expected or wanted, with the improvements to the offensive end without losing too much on the defensive side it seems like a no brainer for the organization to make the moves it did. Time will tell if Syracuse left the cupboard too bare in the future but the current run this team is on they seemed poised to make a run for at least the next 3 seasons. Until they win the coveted Premier Cup none of these moves matter. A CBL record breaking 104 wins last season, on pace for 115 wins for this season will not fulfill the void the organization feels at this point. It’s been an interesting and entertaining run the past couple of seasons, we can only hope that continues.