St. Paul Saints Sermon: March Update
After an exciting beginning to the off-season, the St. Paul Saints used the month of February to sign three key players and prepare to finalize their roster. The off-season has already been an exciting one for the Twin-Cities based team with the acquisition of All-Stars Ian Gac and Dustin Crenshaw, but the team has some questions it needs to answer prior to the home opener on May 21.
On February 17, the St. Paul Saints signed RHPs Drew Gay and Dustin Crenshaw. Gay was with the Saints last season, and pitched as both a starter and out of the bullpen. He finished the season 5-2 with a 3.54 ERA in 22 appearances.
Gay had an outstanding season for St. Paul last year, pitching very well down the stretch. His numbers would have been better, but it always seemed that one inning marred an otherwise stellar performance. This season it is rumored that he will pitch primarily out of the bullpen. He has the kind of stuff to be an outstanding setup man, and he should be a key fixture for the team in the seventh and eighth innings this season.
Crenshaw was acquired to complete a trade at the end of last year, and should be an outstanding addition to the team’s starting rotation. The addition of the right-hander locks in four positions in the Saints starting rotation, with Crenshaw joining right-handers Nick Barnese, Robert Coe and Justin Klipp. Ben Hughes may also see time in the rotation.
The question for St. Paul now is who will step up to fill the No. 1 spot in their starting rotation. All four have quality stuff, but Crenshaw showed last season that he has the stuff to be an ace. In 22 starts he won nine games and posted an impressive 3.16 ERA. If Crenshaw can post a similar ERA in St. Paul he should win 13 games and be in the running as the American Association’s top pitcher. That would allow Barnese and Klipp to man the No. 2 and 3 spots. Coe and Hughes would close out the staff, making this one of the more formidable staffs in the league.
On February 25, the team signed Alonzo Harris who had been acquired from the New Jersey Jackals to complete a trade from last season. Harris has great speed, stealing 34 bases last season, and he gets on-base (.345). “Alonzo Harris can fly,” explains Saints manager George Tsamis. “He is an exciting player that brings a lot to the table. We are expecting big things from him and he plays a solid CF.”
His presence makes the Saints an incredibly formidable lineup. With the additions of 1B Ian Gac, OF Chad Mozingo and OF Josh Romanski, and the return of OF Willie Cabrera it should mean that the team will have great power and speed. There is no doubt that the Saints roster has a similar look to that of the American Association Champion Wichita Wingnuts. Now it will be up to them to win on the field like the Wingnuts did.
All that seems to be missing now is someone to dominate the final innings of games. If St. Paul can develop or acquire a top notch closer to finish games, much like Dan Sattler did last season, they will be the team to beat in the North Division. Even without that, they are still as good, if not better, than any team in the division.
By Robert Pannier