The Anaheim Mighty Ducks, known in season 10 as the Colorado Springs Fighting Falcons (yes, the name did need to be shortened), will go into season 11 as a significantly different team - and it's not just the name. Many of the veterans that filled the season 10 roster are gone; in their place is a partial youth movement that brings energy and attitude to this franchise. Analyzing each position gives us a better picture of this team and its outlook:
At the catcher spot are two veterans, Ben Boehringer and Carl Rivera, who last season combined for 29 HRs and 143 RBIs and played very good defense. The veterans anchor a young core, while their defense will help the pitching staff (especially the two youngsters in the rotation) mature. 1B will be manned by 25 year old Joel Richardson and Jeff Williams (who will also see plenty of action in the OF). Richardson is looking to appear in his first full season. He should be able to hit, and hit well, but his defense has a lot to be desired. Williams is coming off a season of 33 HRs and 104 RBIs (.381 OBA). Acquired via trade, 2B will be manned by newcomer Darond Cook who batted .301 (.359 OBA) last season in 156 ABs, after 10 seasons in Omaha. Cook is a former gold glove 2B that provides strong defense down the middle, and should be a consistent hitter as he appears fully recovered from the injury that plagued him last season. 3B is a position where the Ducks are looking for Willie Tatis to show that he still wants this job. Tatis struggled defensively last season after being claimed off waivers from El Paso, but he is looking to rebound. Veteran David Rosa and newcomer Rule 5 prospect Harry Feliz are on the bench to provide added security if Tatis falters again.
SS is a strong position for the Ducks with Angel Candelaria (.403 OBA last season in 467 ABs) as the main man here. BUT, a spot needs to be made for Rule 5 player Jorge Perez (5 HRs in preseason). Between Perez and Candelaria, one of them should see significant time in other infield positions. The OF right now has a platoon of Alex Cooke and Jeff Williams in LF, former gold glove winner Keith Durham (.378 OBA last season) in CF, and end of season 10 acquisition Dennis Chang (28 HRs 90 RBIs and no errors in the OF last season) in RF. The starting rotation is improved since last season, but still needs a few pieces. 24 year old Hector Carrasco (2-2 in 9 starts) and 25 year old Curtis Spence (cup of coffee last season) add youth to a rotation that also includes veterans Dennis Lyons, Louie Guzman & journeyman Gene Edwards (a combined 16-20 lasts season with little help from the defense). The bullpen is filled by veterans, except at the closer position, where Amp Rowand looks to step in as the team's full time closer, after saving 18 last year in the second half of the season.
With youth like Perez, Feliz, Carrasco, Spence & Richardson being added this season, and a lot of deadwood removed since last season, a .500 season is in sight for this franchise on its way to credibility. With a slew of minor league prospects like IF's Sean Hoover, Alfredo Garces & Rafael Soto on their way up within the next couple seasons, more hope is on its way. As long as management continues to upgrade the needs of this franchise, the Mighty Ducks will be here to stay.