American Association Daily provides insights and features on the American Association of Professional Baseball League, as well as player and coaching profiles and transactions going on with teams around the league. In today’s edition, we examine how deeply the loss of Josh Romanski should affect the Winnipeg Goldeyes. With the signing of Wes Darvill, how likely are the Goldeyes to three-peat?.
The Loss of Josh Romanski Could Be a Big One
For the last two seasons, outfielder Josh Romanski has been one of the most feared hitters in the American Association. After hitting .305 for the Winnipeg Goldeyes in 2016, the star stepped up his game last year, hitting .324 with 11 homers and 81 RBI. His batting average was fourth in the league while his RBI total was third. His season was so impressive that he earned the honor as the American Association’s Player of the Year.
Clearly, Romanski had earned an opportunity to return to affiliate ball. Following the 2016 campaign, he was signed by the Minnesota Twins, but was released on the last day of Spring Training. He proved that the Twins made a mistake with his MVP season, but would an affiliate club give the 30-year-old another opportunity?
Going South of the Border and Then South of the Border Again
So far this off-season it looked like Josh Romanski was not going to receive that chance, although he had clearly proved that he deserved it. That opened the door for Puebla (Mexican League) to sign the star outfielder, as it was announced Wednesday that his contract was purchased from the Goldeyes.
Puebla finished second in the Sur Division last season, going 56-54, earning a place in the playoffs. The team swept their first round opponent, before defeating Yucatan in five to advance to the championship series. There, the team fell to Tijuana in five, and the signing of Romanski is a clear indicator that the team has every intention on making the championship series their destination in 2018 as well.
And What About His Old Team?
The loss of Josh Romanski is a big blow to the Winnipeg Goldeyes, but it is not the only loss. On January 17, the Los Angeles Dodgers purchased the contract of third baseman Wes Darvill. Darvill had an MVP type season of his own, hitting .309 with 53 runs scored, 49 RBI, and 30 stolen bases.
Between the loss of the two stars, the Winnipeg offense loses 127 runs scored, 63 extra base hits, 130 RBI and 40 stolen bases. That is a lot of production to replace.
Manager Rick Forney has been a master at finding the right pieces to fill voids, but this may be too tall of an order even for him. Or, has he already filled the void?
The Top Pitching Staff in the League?
The fact remains that the while the offense put up impressive numbers the last two seasons, the reason why the Winnipeg Goldeyes are the two-time defending American Association champions is because of pitching. Rick Forney has done a great job of putting together a top tier starting rotation and a dominant backend so that he can endure any kind of slump his lineup may face.
What is scary is that this season’s team may be better than the previous two years. First off, he returns LHP Kevin McGovern and RHPs Edwin Carl and Mikey O’Brien. McGovern was arguably the best pitcher in the league last season, tying for the league lead in wins (13) and finishing among the top five in ERA (2.55), strikeouts (118), and innings pitched (144.1). The left-hander has only gotten better and he may not have even reached his peak.
Carl and O’Brien combined to go 19-9 with a 4.62 ERA. The two made 42 combined starts and, when combined with McGovern, the group started nearly two-thirds of the Goldeyes games. That’s a formula for 45 wins based on that alone.
However, it is not just the big three. Charle Rosario returns for a full season in Winnipeg. After being acquired last season from Gary Southshore, Rosario was absolutely brilliant, going 3-0 in 6 starts with a 1.33 ERA. Give the veteran 21 starts and that would mean that a fifth starter would need to take the ball just 16 times next year. That should be unnerving to many managers around the league.
There Is a Whole Lot to Like About This Team
The four starters are not the only good news for the Winnipeg Goldeyes. Of all the returning stars, none may be bigger than reliever Victor Capellan. The right-hander appeared in 8 of the 9 playoff games that the Goldeyes played last season, meaning Forney could turn to him at any time, every time. That was after Capellan appeared in 50 regular season games, posting a microscopic 1.25 ERA in 50.1 innings while striking out 75.
While the lineup will feel the loss of the two stars, this is still a team that boasted two of the top five hitters in the American Association last season, not including Romanski. Shawn Pleffner hit .340 to lead the league, and David Bergin had an unreal season, hitting .323 with 20 homers and 77 RBI. Add the ageless Reggie Abercrombie and the return of Andrew Sohn and David Rohm and this is still the makings of a top three lineup.
For those who worry that a three-peat is not in the cards – relax. Pitching is what makes the Winnipeg Goldeyes so good, and pitching will carry this team this year as well. They could very well be the first team in American Association history to win three consecutive championships.
American Association Daily Notes
The Winnipeg Goldeyes re-signed LHP Zach Dodson. Dodson was 5-7 with a 5.14 ERA in 20 starts last season. The left-hander spent seven years in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization…The Gary Southshore RailCats signed LHP Lars Liguori. Liguori had pitched for Gary in 2016 when he went 1-1 with a 2.60 ERA in 19 appearances. However, he was traded to Schaumburg (Frontier League) and spent all of last season there where he was 9-4 in 17 starts with a 3.90 ERA.
By Robert Pannier
Member of the IBWAA