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Preseason Team Snapshots: Bay Area Fog

Management

Darren Ayoub (Owner)

Chase Johnson (GM)


Depth Charts

Lineup (S = Constant Starter)

S. Chase Johnson

S. Sean McFarland

3. Tony Liepa

4. Brett Hoover

5. Zeke Smith


Pitchers

1. Chase Johnson

Co-2. Brett Hoover

Co-2. Zeke Smith


Fielders

1. Sean McFarland

2. Brett Hoover


Strengths

The best word to describe what makes the Fog a good team is POWER. Offensively they've been as good as any other team for the last two seasons with several explosive hitters. Chase Johnson has yet to hit under .400 and has ripped 11 combined HR in his first two career seasons. Sean McFarland had a breakout JAL 23 season and played a "Robin" role hitting 7 HR and .293. After those two, Tony Liepa (.400 last season) and Outstanding Rookie award winner Brett Hoover (.381 last season) are probably the best 3-4 batters in any lineup in the JAL. Given how good and deep the lineup is, Bay Area really doesn't need a great ace pitcher to compete for the playoffs, but lucky for them Chase Johnson is far from average. His style is simply to overpower opposing batters with a 72-80 mph fastball and occasional screwball. Sometimes, especially when he's fatigued, Johnson allows more balls in-play than other All-Star pitchers, but Sean McFarland's fielding is another key asset. He's very athletic with great hands and finished last season as a Fielding Crown finalist. Bay Area can win games by overwhelming other teams with their offense AND/OR defense.


Concerns

The top immediate concern for the Fog is that Chase Johnson and Sean McFarland began college this year in Arizona and Idaho respectively. As a result, neither of them will be back home to play until mid-May and will thus miss the team's first gameday (likely 2 games) of the season. In their absence the lineup should still be plenty talented enough to win, but pitching without Chase will be challenging. Brett Hoover started one game as a rookie last season and won it allowing a solid 11 runs. The Fog have also signed new rookie Zeke Smith who's been labeled another backup pitching option. Whichever of them (or both, or another rookie signee to come?) pitches the first two games shouldn't be considered hopeless situation, but the Fog will likely be playing with a "survival" mindset during that first gameday to try and avoid an 0-2 start. If they escape at least 1-1 there won't be much concern, but an 0-2 hole is always difficult to dig out of in a 8-game season, especially to win the NC 1-seed again. Assuming the Fog get back to the playoffs, a final concern is their reputation of falling short in those games. In JAL 22 the Fog got blasted 2-19 by the Waves in the NC Semis and last season were beat 8-11 by the u-dogs in the NC Finals despite having the top seed and bye. Chase Johnson has racked up lots of awards in his young career, but has yet to pitch his best during the postseason and is 0-2. When/if they're back on the bracket this season, pressure to win on that day will feel heavier than before.


Grades

Batting: A

Pitching: B+

Fielding: A

Roster Sturdiness: B

Management: A-


Overall: B+


Plan (probably)

It would be highly beneficial if the Fog could get Zeke Smith out to do a bullpen practice session before the season begins just to see how capable of a pitcher he is. If so, the Fog would know going into their first gameday whether to start him or Hoover. In the event Smith does not have a practice session, Hoover should start their first game because he's at least got a little experience and is known to be a decent backup. Once Johnson and McFarland are back, the team should still give Hoover and Smith some opportunities (if possible) to pitch during blowout games simply to develop them more. Doing so could result in more pitching depth and less worry moving forward about Johnson missing other games. Batting-wise the team should stick to exactly what they did all last season — start the game batting everyone, but trim the lineup down in close games to a 3-man rotation or even just Johnson and McFarland if needed.


Opponents

Rapids x2

underdogs x2

Cobras

Waves

Bison

Bambinos


Projected Wins

4.4

Comments


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