March 3, 2042
After a disappointing 2041–the team’s first losing season in six years–team owner Shaumli the Ugly and GM Raan Filyn might have been tempted to completely overhaul the team. Yet, they remained calm, opting instead to tinker around the edges, making trades for youngsters in the minor leagues and filling holes where they saw them.
A Manager Tested
While the team is still looking for a trainer after the retirement of Dr. Soalia Nararion last November, the coaching staff remains intact. Manager Gundabald Dap, who led the AAA affiliate, Taur e-Ndaedelos Woods, to two AAA Championship trophies, had a rough outing in his first year at the helm of the big club. The Sylvan finished 10 games behind Old Forest and didn’t make the playoffs, but in a tough Elf Division, his team remained competitive. Still, upper management will only be so tolerant. There will be added pressure on Dap to prove himself this time around.
If you catch a 2042 Spring Training game, it will be tough to tell whether you’re watching this year’s team or last year’s model. The same faces are back on the hill for Mirkwood with very little change.
The rotation includes Elraugast Isaiwyn (12-12, 3.83 ERA), Aluizio Adleroff (11-13, 5.11 ERA), and Goreagorn Darkbrother (13-10, 4.32 ERA). Arwowyn Vardamir (7-14, 3.97 ERA) was traded to Chiba City for pitcher Gwynnestri Undomiel, but his place will likely be taken by reliever Bezzi Pasos (10-4, 3.89 ERA, 1 Save) coming in from the bullpen.
Ludrak Trollgobber remains in the closer role that he has held since 2034. The two-time Gwaihir Reliever of the Year is 32 this season, but he has shown little signs of slowing down.
Joining Trollgobber in the pen will be Vrsal Nailslobberer, who has spent the last few seasons bouncing between Taur e-Ndaedelos and the big leagues. After a poor start last year, he was shipped to AAA and produced a 15-6 record with a 2.89 ERA.
Arwuwyn Tebrimir has been lights out as a setup man in his 5 year major league career. Tebrimir, 30, will try to set the stage for Trollgobber again in 2042.
The multi-talented DeForest Hamrh leads the Sylvan offense with a string of batting titles under his belt. Hamrh is the only player to hit .400 more than once, and he’s done it twice outright (.407 in 2035 and .400 in 2034) and once rounded up (.3997 in 2039). You know you’re one of the greats when you hit .361 and everyone is disappointed that you didn’t win a batting title and was your lowest average since hitting .355 in your rookie season. Hamrh’s primary position is catcher, but he played more games at 3B last year, and in a DH league, he may well spend a lot of time just hitting.
Speaking of catching, 23-year-old Duudak the Sneaky is in camp to audition as Hamrh’s backup behind the plate. The youngster has yet to see major league action, but he hit .317 in 34 AAA games last year. 22-year-old Laran Gawley, who hit .256 in 43 AAA games last year, was also invited to Spring Training to try for the job.
Over at 3B, the powerful switch-hitter, Sim Hill was lost to free agency. So, the team went out and made a trade with Erebor to acquire Tiziano Kjorsvik. Kjorsvik, 26, hit .309 in his sophomore season wit the Eagles and belted 22 HR. He also played a decent 3B, so the Sylvan are confident in Hill’s replacement.
Finally, over at 1B, the steady hands and powerful swing of Yrneha Gamamir remain. Gamamir was an older walk on in 2039, but he has made the most of his three seasons with the club, hitting 93 HR and driving in 259 runs after winning the Frodo Rookie Award at age 31.
Mirkwood traded CF Petunia Moss to Gallifrey in favor of shoring up the bullpen with Saravin Sathie. Her spot will likely go to Sorsasta Urdanivia, another late-in-life independent league signee, who played a couple of seasons as the main Sylvan CF, but was out with a ruptured medial collateral ligament most of last year.
Always at the top of recent pre-season predictions, the Mirkwood Sylvan are once again expected to make a playoff run. If the team stays healthy, they should remain competitive in a tough division and contend for at least a Wild Card spot, if not another Elf Division pennant.