Thursday, November 29, 2012

Montreal Expos Season 21 Outlook

Season 20
Won/Loss (place in division) & Playoffs: 79-92 (4th), missed playoffs
Offense: 709 runs (9th)
Pitching:  4.70 ERA (12th)

Major ChangesFA Departures:  SP Harpo Patterson, CF Felix Satou, RP Matty Padilla

FA Signees:
SP Reggie Hardy, SP Eduardo Solano, RP Jim May (signed, then lost in Rule V)

Season 21 Outlook
The Expos might have the best-hitting 2B/3B/SS trio in Major Leagues (I didn't check around, but given the relative weakness here at 2B and 3B, it's hard to imagine a better group).  2B Wesley Hunt has been averaging 31 HR's/year, Benji Wood could be the best 3B in this world not named Gutierrez, and SS Dustan Beimel has 100_ RBI the last 2 seasons.

They join COF's Sean Westbrook (.303/20/81) and Dennys Simon (.281/22/89) to form the core of an almost-very good offense.  If Montreal could round up a decent-hitting 1B (Pasqual Flores - .277-10-41 - got the most AB's there last year), it might be enough to make that almost-good offense really good.

Montreal's starting pitching was terrible last year - only 1 SP had an ERA under 4.70 (Virgil Banks' 4.24) - so the Hardy and Solano additions could be huge.  The bullpen is in flux, as last year's closer (and an effective one at that), Juan Rijo, left in a late-season trade.  Ron McConnell was pretty effective as a rookie last year and appears to have inherited the closer's job.

In this wide-open division, could the Expos go worst-to-first?  It's only 8 games.  They probably need a good bat at 1B and a couple more arms to make a run.

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