Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Blockbuster Deal- Jacquez headed north

The rumor reported here in the last post has turned out to be true- Memphis has traded star CF Eli Jacquez to Montreal for SS Carlton Beck and two minor leaguers.
- Jacquez, 29, adds to an already potent lineup in Montreal, currently at 41-28 and 3 games back of Cincinnati. He was hitting .278 with only 7 homeruns and 36 RBIs in Memphis- I think his production should go up with good hitters around him. With the long-term injury of CF Dewey Greenwood(out for most, if not all, of the remainder of the regular season), Jacquez is a good pickup for Montreal.
- Memphis gets 31-year-old ML shortstop Carlton Beck, 20-year old AA starter Christy Castillo, and 22-year-old AA right fielder Tracy Robinson. Beck is a very good defensive shortstop who can hit, but at 31 and with 3 more years on his contract at 4.55 million a year after this season, one has to wonder how he fits in with Memphis's youth movement. Castillo is a quality minor league starter with potential and a very good fastball. Robinson is a question mark at the ML level- it's unsure how much he will hit, but if he does hit, he'll be a quality player in Memphis.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Recent Trades- Walking out of Memphis

The Memphis Short Grass, currently with a record of 30-37, have apparently decided to start building for the future, trading 3/5 of their starting rotation to contending NL teams.

Vic McCormick is on his way to NL South leading Houston to help the back of the Oilers rotation. He was 6-2 with a sterling 2.43 ERA. If he pitches similarly in Houston the Oilers may have a steal on their hands. McCormick can be wild, however, and he is going from a very pitcher-friendly park in Memphis to a slightly hitter-friendly park in Houston. The Short Grass received lefty Alex Saenz and two minor leaguers, Zach James and Alex Chang. James, 24, could be a decent ML starter, and Chang, 20, should be a decent ML LF with a mix of power and speed, but may not make contact as much as one might like.

Jacob Herrera's new address is in Philadelphia. Herrera, 31, was 2-7 but had a pretty good ERA at 3.93. Philadelphia is currently at 33-33 and several games back of the current wild-card contenders. He was traded for outfielder Bob Carney, who has seen time this year both in Philadelphia and down in AAA. He is a decent outfield prospect, probably good enough to start but not a star.

Herrera can see his former teammate Cesar Fernandez on the other side of the Delaware River, as Fernandez was dealt to Trenton. The Traffic, at 43-23, currently hold the best record in the majors. Fernandez, 28, was 1-8 with an ERA of 4.12 in Memphis. Trenton shipped out 19-year-old pitching prospect Terrell Wells, a potential future ML 4 or 5 starter with good control.

These 3 deals could pale in comparison to what is next for the Short Grass- rumors are rampant that a deal is in place to trade star CF Eli Jacquez within the next few days. Word is it's an NL contender.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Fargo signs biggest international of season

Just days after trading for a big time reliever, the Fargo Dirtbags have added another dominant bullpen arm, this one courtesy of the international market.

The best international prospect discovery of the season so far, Alex Javier of the Virgin Islands, signed a 5-year major league deal with a $15 million bonus to play for Fargo earlier tonight. Javier’s projected ratings are downright nasty as he boasts excellent control, dominates left handers and excels against righties as well. Javier also throws two elite pitches, a slurve and a 4-seam fastball, which comes with great velocity. His health and makeup ratings are about as high as can be and projects to have great durability as well.

“It was a lot of money and we don’t make a habit of giving out big league deals to internationals,” Fargo GM kjmulli said. “But we saw how good Javier could be and we didn’t want to take any chances that he would be scooped up by another team.”

It will be a few seasons before he’s ready but with the proper coaching Javier certainly has the potential to be one of, if not the best closer in the majors someday. The signing also gives Fargo an embarrassment of dominant relievers throughout their system. Javier will begin his pro career with Fargo’s LoA team.

Alex Javier
Age: 18B/T: L/L
Born: Charlotte Amalie, VI
Position(s): P (ClA)
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

Two deals in the NL

Two NL division leaders have made separate deals to try and strengthen their teams for potential playoff runs.
- The west-leading Arizona Diamondbacks have acquired reliever Charles Trujilo from the Atlanta Bandits for High A reliever Joe Street. The 32-year old Trujilo is a good addition to the D-backs bullpen, as he provides another left-handed arm and some depth to the bullpen to accompany their solid starting staff and closer Vic Trevino. Trujilo was 1-3 but had a 3.45 ERA and an excellent WHIP of 1.14 despite being used primarily as a starter- he lacks the stamina to be a full-time starter.
- Street, despite not being one of the top 100 prospects, is a fairly good pickup for Atlanta, as he projects to a similar role as Trujilo now plays in Arizona- a setup guy who will be particularly nasty on lefties. Atlanta is struggling this year and trades a 32-year-old pitcher who doesn't fit into their plans for this year into a 19-year-old who is similar. A good deal for both teams.

Meanwhile, the rebuilding process in Chicago continues. A few days after dealing star 3B Bud Klein to Nashville, SS Torey Diaz has been shipped to Trenton in return for High A RF Mike Schneider. Chicago threw in 2 million to help cover Diaz's salary for this year.
- The surprising Traffic see this as an upgrade at 2 positions, as Diaz's arrival has forced the shift of star rookie Carlton MacDougal to CF. Diaz is a very steady glove and improves the lineup, although he struggled to a .253 average in the Windy City. Traffic GM gumbercules is hoping that Diaz just needs a change of scenery and a chance to play for a competitor to get him going.
- Chicago gets RF Mike Schneider, who is an interesting prospect. He is not your prototypical RF, as he will hit very few homeruns, but has great leadoff tools- he has very good speed and is an outstanding baserunner and bunter. He falls outside the top 100 but is an intriguing prospect with a pretty good upside. Hard to say who got the better end of the deal at first glance- this is one with some risk on both sides.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Recent Trade-Bud Klein Heads South

In a recently completed trade, the Nashville Sounds acquired slugging 3B Bud Klein from the Chicago Cubs for three minor league prospects. I think this is a good deal for both teams, as each squad gets something that they need.

Nashville finds itself squarely in the middle of the playoff chase at this point, as they currently have a record of 34-24, tied with New York and Cleveland for the wild card spots and only 2 games back of division leading Monterrey. Ranking 10th in the AL in runs and 13th in batting average, Sounds management felt they needed to make a move to upgrade the offense. Klein will fill in nicely, especially with opening day 3B Daryl Lyons falling out of favor with the manager for failing to produce as much as expected. As Nashville was already a solid team before the deal, I'd say the Klein deal gives them a leg up on the other wild card contenders. I'm not sure it puts them in the same category as Milwaukee and Monterrey, although they get closer now.

As for Chicago, they are now fully in rebuilding mode. At 14-44, making the playoffs this year seems extremely unrealistic, so the Cubs are looking to acquire minor league talent. In this deal they get AA pitchers Kid Johnstone and Dennys Miceli and High A catcher Tony Escuela. While none are listed in the ACEROTHSTEIN Top 100 prospects, they still got some talent back in the deal. Johnstone and Miceli are both relievers with potential to be ML closers one day- they could be a nice combination out of the pen together in Wrigley fairly soon. The question mark is Escuela- he's a 19-year old listed as catcher. While he should be a big-time hitter, his pitch calling rating probably limits his ability to play the catcher position and he doesn't have a good enough glove to play much of anywhere else- he'd even be questionable at first base. He'd seem to be a dynamite future DH, but since the Cubs are in the NL, he can't do it full time in Chicago. He is a future major leaguer, but where and in what capacity is yet to be determined.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

After 1/3 of the season gone

AL North - Maulers find themselves in first with the Skidmarks making a run. The Maulers are almost unbeatable on the road, but haven't solved their own neutral park woes. Meanwhile the Skidmarks may have solved the curse of the Jake. The Kitties and Patriots have a lot of ground to make up to be contenders at this point.

AL East - New York sings at home but get all choked up on the road and are tied with the Legends. Both have winning records, home and away, but this race could boil down to the schedule in the end. The Beachcombers are on their heels but just can't seem to put together a solid winning streak. The Iron Birds have their woes in hitter friendly Camden.

AL South - The Sultans are hard to beat at home surrounded by their harem, but on the road the bus breaks down leaving them hot and tired. While the Sounds dance the Cotton-Eyed-Joe on the road, the Electric Slide just isn't working at home. This could be another schedule nail biter. The Spiders bite on the road, but opposing teams just love their homer friendly park. Double Trouble is dangerous at home but find themselves in deep do-do on the road.

AL West - The Gamblers are hot at the moment and dealing themselves blackjack at every turn. The Moose keep fighting their way back as these two teams have flip flopped back and forth the entire season so far. This could be another race decided by the schedule. The Sleepers wake up then go back to sleep, very streaky. The Chickens keep getting fried on the road but can tar and feather opponents at home.

NL North - The Dragons are breathing fire at home and stay hot on the road. The Maroons are making other teams see red. May be another schedule nail biter down the road. The Dirtbags just need more rosin if they are to contend this year. The Cubs, a team rebuilding, experience may be the key and a good draft.

NL East - The Traffic is flowing well in Trenton and every place they visit. The Destroyers are battling their way through. The Blue Jays were poised to swoop in but have been shot down. The Bandits have burgled one too many times.

NL South - A well Oiled machine on the road, finds Houston on top. The Juice Box tends to slow them down. The Voodoo are using all their Mojo to stay close. The Short Grass and Dead Bunnies keep putting together win streaks, but then so does everyone else in the division and just can't seem to gain ground.

NL West - The D'Backs have bitten their way to the top for now. But it could be their rattles on the altar if the Sacrifices have their say in the matter. The Buckskins are at the taxidermist trying to figure out what to do. The Dodgers look like the Cubs, in a rebuilding season, but this could be a little misleading as pitching becomes the biggest concern.

Dirtbags acquire Li for prospect

The Fargo Dirtbags and Colorado Springs Chickens have agreed to a deal that would send closer Kevin Li to Fargo in exchange for 3B prospect Willie Solano. The move bolsters what was already a dominant bullpen for Fargo and it is expected that Li will join reliever Christopher Siddall in the setup role for Dirtbags' closer Bert Price. Li had struggled in the closers role for Colorado Springs, going 0-3 with a 6.35 ERA while converting 3 of 5 save opportunities in 17 IP.

The 24-year-old Solano had been hitting .343 with 13 homeruns and 32 RBI for Fargo's AA team this season. Solano was blocked in his route to the majors by William Bolling and Gerald Stargell but will certainly contribute at the ML level someday for the Chickens.

"Solano is a nice prospect but we likely wouldn't have had room for him at the ML level," Fargo GM kjmulli said about the deal. "And anytime you have a chance to pickup a pitcher with Li's potential you certainly have to look into that."

Kevin Li
Colorado Springs
Age: 25B/T: R/R
Born: Otsuki, JP
Position(s): P (ClA)
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

Willie Solano
Age: 24B/T: R/L
Born: Haina, DO
Position(s): SS/3B/RF/CF
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

One on one with the commish, mfoster55

We go one on one with the founding father of The Bigs, mfoster55.

What drove you to create The Bigs?
That's easy for me to answer, I have taken over three teams in established leagues. While one of the teams was a decent, the other two have been ran into the ground. I just felt like if I was going to spend the time and money to build a team I wanted it to be a new team in a new league.

What are some perks of being the commissioner? Personal jet?
Yeah the personal jet is nice, but the $20mil 3 year contract is the best perk of all. All kidding aside the biggest perk for me was being able to pull a league together so quickly and having people like you take such a great interest.

*Gushing* What was your first thought when you looked at your roster for the first time?
Damn, I'm going to lose more then 100 games with the Major League roster. That is okay with me since I'm in it for the long haul. My team might stink this year but give me a couple of years.

Cubs fan I assume? If so, how many homeruns will Fukudome hit this year?
To tell you the truth I'm not a Cubs fan at all. I'm a huge Cincinnati Reds fan, but I had someone that was intrested in joining the league if Cincinnati was available so I decided that I would take Detriot in the AL. I think we only had 2 opening left and the were both in the NL and at that time another owner was intrested in joining if an AL team was left, so again I took one for the team and picked Chicago.

Analyze that Burt Stevenson trade for me. Why make that deal?
Why make the deal is an easy question to answer, Burt Stevenson is already 26 years old. After studying my rosters I realized that I'm looking at a couple of years before I had a chance to win. I thought if I could get the right player, or group of players in return it would be in my teams best intrest to trade him.

Analyzing the deal, I have read alot of what has been posted and I agree with most of it. Burt Stevenson and Sean Simpson are both special talents. Stevenson for the next 5 years or so might hit .330 with 60+ hrs, but Simpson has a chance to be a 40-40 and hit for a good average. As I previously said I though Sean Simpson was just the right player, he is only 19 years old and will be a conerstone of my team for the next 12 years or so. I had a better offer in terms of more then one player but I just couldn't turn down Simpson.

What’s your strategy for the rest of the season? Trying to get back into the race or play for the number one pick in next year’s amateur draft?
My strategy for the rest of the season is to trade the rest of the remaining talent on my major league roster, so if anyone is intrested send me a trade chat. I'm trying to build this team for the future and yes the first pick in the draft would be great.

Who's got the best team in The Bigs?
I think this is a hard question to answer only 34 games into the season, but with the trades that Milwaukee has made of the last week or so they are going to be tought to beat. I also think that Monterrey is going to be tought to beat in the AL. In the NL I think it is going to be a tough race with up to 7 teams that have a chance to win.

If you can change one thing about HBD, what would it be and why?
I don't know that I would really change much. I think that spring training is a little to long, and I would like to see that reduce. Maybe they could play more games a day, but for me it is jsut a boring period.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Salmon to make major league debut

The Salem Sacrifices have called up the third ranked prospect in The Bigs, pitcher Dwight Salmon. The 27-year-old Salmon had been 2-2 with a 5.18 ERA at AAA Salem this season. The Sacrifices currently trail the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West by 2.5 games and the team hopes Salmon can be effective in the rotation right away in order to stay in the race for the division. Salmon features excellent control and a good cut fastball while being extremely tough on right handed hitters. He will make his debut in tomorrow's pm2 game against the Atlanta Bandits.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

International Free Agent Signings

I thought the report on International Signings was listed as they happened, with the last one listed at the bottom, but I guess I need new glasses. They are listed in alphabetical order by last name, so I had to redo the list to figure out who was added. To make it easier, I have done it by team.

*Note: Will grade different aspects of the IFA's (in my opinion of course). Will
put in an analysis of the player if I think he will make the Show
(in my opinion of course).

Def = Defensive capabilities
Off = Offensive
PD = Pitching Defense
PC = Pitching Capability
HLvl = Highest Level the player may or may not attain(best guess of course).

Anaheim Sleepers

Miguel Gonzalez, P, HA, Price: 530K, PC: D+, PD: B , HLvl: AA

Arizona Diamondbacks

Rafael Samuel, 1B, RL, Price: 75K, Off: D-, Def: D-, HLvl: HA

Jose Escobar, CF, LA, Price: 356K, Off: D-, Def: D+, HLvl: HA

Felipe Rodriguez, CF, LA, Price: 60K, Off: D-, Def: D-, HLvl: HA

Baltimore Iron Birds

Victor Gonzales, CF, LA, Price: 5.0M, Off: B-, Def: B+, HLvl: ML
A good defensive CF and a few other positions as well. Hitting will be average at the Major League level, .265 to .285 with 20+ home runs very probable.

Cincinnati Dragons

Enrique Melendez, SP, LA, Price: 4.0M, PC: C+, PD: B+, HLvl: ML
An intriguing pitcher with great control, decent pitches and weak splits. Will this combination keep him mired at AAA?

Miguel Sierra, LF, HA, Price: 1.1M, Off: C-, Def: C-, HLvl: AA

Durham Entombed Spiders

Felipe Seguignol, CF, LA, Price: 1.7M, Off: C-, Def: A, HLvl: AAA

Houston Oilers

Victor Vargas, P, ML, Price: 3.0M, PC: B+, PD: B-, HLvl: ML
A very good setup man. His low stamina severely limits his pitching to every other day at best. Should do well for many years to come.

Las Vegas Gamblers

R.J. Guardado, 1B, RL, Price: 3.6M, Off: B-, Def: C, HLvl: ML
Low end 1B, but a medium hitting DH with power. .265+ with 25+ home runs is plausible.

Alex Nomo, SP, HA, Price: 760K, PC: C+, PD: C-, HLvl: AAA

Milwaukee Manic Maulers

David Mendez,C, LA, Price: 3.6M, Off: A-, Def: A+, HLvl: ML
All the skills are there for him to be a great one, health permitting(always a but).

Monterrey Sultans

Victor Ordonez, C, RL, Price: 90K, Off: D+, Def: A+, HLvl: HA

New Orleans Voodoo

Ignacio Feliz, RP, LA, Price: 735K, PC: B+, PD: C-, HLvl: ML
What a bargain for this future closer. Don't think the medium splits will hurt that much, can't hit what can't be seen and if it does the worms better hide.

New York new york

Rolando Alfonseca, RP, LA, Price: 90K, PC: C-, PD: C-, HLvl: AAA

Andres Franco, RP, LA, Price: 260K, PC: C-, PD: C, HLvl: AAA

Rafael Zurbaran, SP, LA, Price: 130K PC: C PD: C HLvl: AA

Rafael Ramirez, 2B, LA, Price: 425K Off: D+, Def: C-, HLvl: HA

Tony Acosta, 3B, LA, Price: 360K Off: C+, Def: C+, HLvl: AA

Edgardo Arias, RP, AA, Price: 500K, PC: B-, PD: D+, HLvl: ML
This is one of those pitchers that bears watching in my thinking. No range, and very low pitch calling is the reason for the low PD rating. The PC is good except for the low velocity. First two pitch ratings are good, but that velocity combined with fast balls could be bad. Could be ML reliever.

Alex Marquez,P, AA, Price: 1.2MK, PC: B+, PD: C+, HLvl: ML
May not make it as a SP, but long relief appears to be in his future at the ML level. With the Knuckleball and Screwball as primary pitches, better have a real good catcher. However those pitches should serve well with the low velocity.

Pawtucket Patriots

Damaso Brogna, RF, AA, Price: 7.6M Off: B+, Def: C-, HLvl: ML

Ugueth Montanez, 2B, AA, Price: 4.6M Off: C+, Def: C-, HLvl: ML

These two combined will be a left/right combination and probably will both play 1B at the ML level. Add in their speed, you have very good lead off hitters. Though Brogna has enough power to bat 1st through 3rd in a lineup.

San Juan Dead Bunnies

Wilfredo Padilla, P, RL, Price: 2.1M PC: C PD: C+ HLvl: AAA

Jimmie Beltre, 1B, RL, Price: 1.8M Off: B-, Def: B, HLvl: ML
Good defensively, average hitter with good power.

Junior Tabaka, C, LA, Price: 8.5M Off: A-, Def: C, HLvl: ML
If his batting eye was better, could hit 100 homers a season and that may not stop him either. His pitch calling ability though could make his battery mates disgusted. DH might be a solution.

Texas Double Trouble

Albert Herrera, P, LA, Price: 200K PC: D+ PD: C HLvl: HA

B.C. Rodriguez, SS/2B, RL, Price: 750K Off: F-, Def: F-, HLvl:
B.C. Rodriguez, RP, RL, Price: 750K PC: A, PD: B- HLvl: ML
Someone playing with changing roles cool..roflmao..
A future Setup/Closer, will be tough to get a hit off of him and at a bargain price too.

Alex Padilla, P, RL, Price: 500K PC: C-, PD: B- HLvl: AA

Al Oropesa, 1B, RL, Price: 125K Off: D-, Def: D+, HLvl: HA

Louie Lee, RP, RL, Price: 825K PC: C-, PD: B+ HLvl: AAA

Esteban Diaz, RP, RL, Price: 125K PC: C-, PD: B- HLvl: AAA

Valerio Perez, RF, RL, Price: 250K Off: C-, Def: D+, HLvl: HA

Willie Ramirez, RP, RL, Price: 500K PC:C- , PD: C HLvl: AA

Olmedo Martinez, 3B, AA, Price: 85K Off: D+, Def: C+, HLvl: AA

Ariel Tatis, RF, LA, Price: 1.0M Off: C- Def: C-, HLvl: AA

Tony Wilfredo, RP, RL, Price: 75K PC: D , PD: C- HLvl: HA

Trenton Traffic

Miguel Baez, SS, LA, Price: 125K Off: D+, Def: A+, HLvl: AA

Rico Johnson, LF, RL, Price: 125K Off: B-, Def: C+, HLvl: ML
A nice rounded player for the Major leagues. Has enough power for 20+ home runs and bat .275.

Pedro Castro, C, RL, Price: 125K Off: D-, Def: A+, HLvl: RL

Aurelio Prieto, RF, LA, Price: 3M Off: B+, Def: B-, HLvl: ML
Has all the makings of a very nice left handed bat in the lineup. Glove a bit weak and health could be an issue later on.

Recent Trades

We've recently had a flurry of trading activity- 6 fairly significant trades to be exact. Our correspondent out in Las Vegas, firesign34, has been kind enough to offer some analysis on the two Gamblers trades and then I'll add some of my own.

Trade between : Las Vegas Gamblers and Milwaukee Maniac Maulers

A recent trade between the Gamblers and Manic Maulers saw the Las Vegas all-star 2B, Bob Malone , depart for Milwaukee. In return Milwaukee sent prospects Coco Hines , a soon to be a "Fireman of the Year" award winner, and 1B Gabe Hynes , along with sure handed 2B, Tim Harding to Las Vegas. (firesign34).

Milwaukee gets an upgrade over Harding in Malone, who lengthens an already deep lineup. This is a team built to win now and may end up pulling it off. Las Vegas gets Harding, who immediately fills Malone's spot in the lineup. He's not as good as Malone but he's a decent piece to the lineup. Las Vegas also gets Coco Hines (#53 overall rated prospect, #4 rated reliever)- I agree with firesign that he's a future ace closer. Gabe Hines is a AA 1B who should hit enough to fashion himself a nice ML career. I think both teams get what they want out of this.

Trade between: Las Vegas Gamblers and Arizona Diamondbacks

Las Vegas sent their #1 Ace Keith Cortes and LA catcher Tomas Beltran to Arizona for SS F.P. Saipe , John Rosen, and ML RP Anthony Hall . Saipe and Rosen were immediately assigned to AA to help a non-existant (sic) bench. Hall should help a bull pen (sic) that has shown the inability to finish games in the late innings. (firesign34)

(Just as a note, LA means Low A)

Arizona felt they needed another starting pitcher, so they went out and got Cortes for the rotation. He'll join Pujols, Bautista, Grahe, and Small for a very strong starting 5- they should get quality innings just about every night now. Beltran may eventually turn into a backup catcher in the majors as a defensive specialist. As for Las Vegas's end, F.P. Saipe is a decent SS, but I don't think he's a sure-fire quality player. John Rosen is about the same in RF- should make the majors, but I'm not sure how good he'll be once he gets there. Anthony Hall (not the actor), should be a decent arm either in the back of the rotation or out of the pen. All in all, I'm not sure the Gamblers got enough for their ace.

Trade between: Milwaukee Manic Maulers and Chicago Cubs

Milwaukee gets: Burt Stevenson and Lawrence Carver
Chicago gets: Sean Simpson and Thomas Turner

Analysis: The league chat board is already abuzz over this one. Stevenson (#7 overall prospect, #1 rated 1B) adds even more depth to the Milwaukee lineup as a power hitting 1B- he's now in the majors and Carver projects out as a nice starter, maybe eventually a #3 in the ML. But Sean Simpson (#9 rated prospect overall, #1 rated 2B) is a future superstar. Turner seems like a throw-in, but could eventually get called up to the bigs. Most experts seem to think Chicago got the better end of this deal; although it could definitely wind up that way, I don't think it's so clear cut.

Trade between: Salem Sacrifices and Los Angeles Dodgers

Salem gets: Bo Hatfield
Los Angeles gets: Bruce Phillips and Qulivio Rijo

An interesting intradivisional deal. Salem gets bullpen help in former L.A closer Hatfield, who could either close or set up Kevin Nomo. Los Angeles gets Bruce Phillips, a future ML reliever, and Rijo, an offensive player. I'm not sure Rijo is a true catcher- he may need to find another position. Phillips is the key to the deal- he's a decent arm out of the pen but is it enough for Hatfield? Not really sure.

Trade between : Vancouver Fighting Moose and Monterrey Sultans

Monterrey gets: Cody Lincoln
Vancouver gets: Juan Cabrera, Max Knowles, Hector Nunez

In my preview I questioned Benito Tavarez's on-base ability- apparently Monterrey's management also felt it was time for an upgrade. Lincoln is a CF who can both get on base and drive in runs. In return the Moose get Cabrera (#69 rated prospect), who should be a solid #2 starter in the bigs, Knowles, who at 31 probably doesn't figure into Vancouver's long term plans and could be dealt again before the season ends, and Nunez, a defensive shortstop who may not be able to hit enough to stay in a lineup. The bottom line is Monterrey gets a huge CF upgrade without giving up any of their top 4 prospects.

Trade between: Houston Oilers and Vancouver Fighting Moose

Houston gets: Matty Eusebio
Vancouver gets: Joe Gleason, Steve Bako, Henry Canizaro

This is major. Houston knew it needed more starting pitching if they want to compete this year, so they went out and got the best guy currently available on the market in Eusebio. He instantly trumps all other pitchers in this division. Joe Gleason(#16 rated prospect, #10 rated SP), if he had slightly better pitches, could be an ace, but he should be a solid #2 one day. Bako (#86 rated prospect, #7 rated 2B) projects as a middle of the order type. Canizaro has plenty of potential as a CF of the future- all 3 should contribute at the ML level someday. I think Vancouver definitely got a good return for their ace. Does Eusebio put Houston over the top in the NL South? Hard to say.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Spotlight on: AL Playoffs

Since I'm finally at the end of this, I'm just going through my playoff predictions no-frills style.

The teams:
1. Milwaukee
2. Monterrey
3. Las Vegas
4. Louisville
5. Nashville
6. New York

Round 1
- Las Vegas over New York in 3
- Louisville over Nashville in 4

Round 2
- Monterrey over Las Vegas in 5
- Milwaukee over Louisville in 3

Round 3 (ALCS)

- Monterrey over Milwaukee in 7

World Series

- Monterrey over Cincinnati in 6

Spotlight on: AL West

We finish the wrap-up of season previews in the AL West. Currently we have the Las Vegas Gamblers (you were expecting maybe the Las Vegas Mother Teresas?) in first at 11-9, the Colorado Springs Chickens (I hereby request residents of the state of Colorado to start a petition to get the town of Colorado Springs to drop the "s" at the end of its name for the sole purpose of renaming their real-life minor league team the Chickens) tied with the Vancouver Fighting Moose (not mooses) at 10-10, and the Anaheim Sleepers have yet to wake up at 8-12. Well, that's where we are; let's see where the division is heading, starting with the position players. All 4 lineups are solid and no one team seems to stand out above the others.

- We'll begin in Vegas, where the Gamblers have a solid offense. William Nomo, 1B Adrian Sheldon, CF Emmett Yearwood, and SS Walley Harvey form a good nucleus in the lineup.
- Anaheim checks in next with some good offensive talent of its own. 2B Chip Loiselle is a good average hitter, while Bruce Kroger, Alex Vazquez, and Jamie McInerney provide the power.
- Vancouver's attack will be led at the top by 2B Curtis Rooney. CF Cody Lincoln and C Red Small behind him will drive in runs, as will Clement, Witte, and Nakajima.
- Colorado should be led by RF Jay Walker, SS Scot Huttton, LF Alex Lim, and 1B Terry Mitchell.

We go to the pitching staffs. This could get ugly.

- Las Vegas has the deepest staff in the division. Stephen Tucker is a bonafide ace, and he has Louie Martin and Buster Charles behind him. Gerald Thompson could end up being the X-factor of this division- if he can close games the Gamblers are easily a playoff team; if not, they could be in trouble. Ernest Lee and Timothy Wolf are solid setting up Thompson.
- The rest of the division is very shaky. - Anaheim is next only due to the presence of Ajax Drabek, who is an ace. Quentin Hernandez will close, but the quality of his pitches are the question. He will have little setup help.
-Vancouver has very little left after the recent trade of ace Matty Eusebio. Jerry Terry is maybe the best starter, but his pitchesm like Hernandez in Anaheim, could be a question mark. Dave Stewart should be solid at the back end of the bullpen, and Trent Bollea is a good setup guy.
- Colorado figures to struggle to get hitters out this year. Ozzie Earley would be a #4 or #5 starter (if that) on a good team- here he is by far the best starter. Virgil Castro and Kevin Li out of the bullpen are the only bright spots.

Predictions (don't hold me to any of this):

1. Las Vegas is the odds-on (get it?) favorite to win this division.
2. Vancouver, Anaheim and Colorado will score runs and give up more. The Sleepers barely beat out the Fighting Moose for 2nd place, but nowhere near wild card contention.
3. Drabek will be sought after by several teams near the deadline.

Spotlight on: AL South

Our trip around the league finds us in the AL South today. The division currently has the Nashville Sounds at the top at 12-8, the Monterrey Sultans close behind at 11-9, the Durham Entombed Spiders (someone needs to explain that one to me) at 8-12, and the Texas Double Trouble in some trouble at the bottom with a record of 7-13. Will this continue, or will we have a change at the top? We'll get to that at the end, and we'll start by looking at the position players.

-We begin south of the border in Monterrey. The Sultans not only have a good lineup they also have solid defensive players at key positions. CF Benito Tavarez is the X-factor in this lineup at leadoff- if he can get on base, he's got plenty of help behind him in the order. 3B Moose Coleman has MVP potential, and Felipe Ortiz, LF Haywood McDonald, and SS Sammy Castro are solid hitters behind the Moose. Tavarez, Castro, and C Bum Casey are very good defenders; Casey may not hit much but his defense and pitch calling make him well worth penciling into the lineup.
- Nashville should score its share of runs. 2B Gregg Black also has potential to put up MVP type numbrs, and 1B Midre Santiago, 3B David Lyons, and Tyler Post should help Black drive in runs.
- Durham and Texas are a toss-up at 3rd- I'll take Durham. Their middle of the lineup is solid with 1B Davey Barrios, Ricky Beech, C Peter Sosa, and 2B Ed McConnell. SS Alex Adams and CF Juan Sosa are very good defenders.
- Texas's offense could waver at times. They do have 2-way player SS Alex Li at the top and slap hitting CF Hal Bryant followed by CF Pete McGowan and C Emmanuel Guzman; those 4 are the beginning of a good lineup. The next 3 hitters, Chavez, Zurbaren, and Nelson, have home run capabilities but could also kill rallies at times with lack of contact.

On to the pitching staffs.

- Monterrey has a lot of depth both in the rotation and out of the bullpen. Staff ace R.J. Toca was the staff's big acquisition this offseason, but he has plenty of help in Phillip Allensworth, Dennys Fox, Albert Gonzalez, and York Watson. If they can't finish the game, they have Larry Stokes closing and should be set up by Vern Baez, Parker Mashore, Pat Sullivan, and Ed Atkins. This is possibly the deepest pitching staff in The Bigs.
- Nashville checks in next, with 3 solid starters at the top. Ham Bruske is probably a solid #2 (maybe not a true ace), and Damon Thompson and Jesse Bridges should give quality innings. Mendy Richardson may struggle to get out good hitters. Enrique Chantres is a question mark to close out games, but long man Miguel Gonzalez should be a bright spot.
- Durham has Esteban Diaz and Lenny Durham to anchor the staff. Lenny Bradley is a pitcher who could use another year in the minors, but he's a Rule 5 guy. Banana Stein is the closer, but might struggle against lefties. Cristian Lyons and Clay Bell are decent arms out of the bullpen.
- Texas has few pitching options. Mendy Blackley and York Burnett are possibly the only two quality arms. Tiny Mayne would be very solid if his fastball was a little better, but he might be able to get outs. Don Tyson is the closer but his control maybe an issue.

Predictions (Don't hold me to any of this):

1. Monterrey takes the division. Way too much talent.
2. Nashville stays in the wild card race, although I'd feel much more comfortable about penciling them in as a playoff team if they had another arm or two.
3. Durham beats out Texas for 3rd.
4. Miguel Gonzalez ends the season in Nashville's starting rotation.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Spotlight on: AL North

As we eagerly await the well-ballyhooed list of the top 100 Minor League prospects, scheduled to appear on this blog at some point tonight, we continue our ML "previews". We head up north today, as currently we have the Ottawa Naughty Kitties tied for first place with the Milwaukee Maniac Maulers at 8-4, and the Pawtucket Patriots and Cleveland Skidmarks tied at 6-6 (not a good day to have a team nicknamed the Patriots).

Will the Naughty Kitties continue to purr, or will they get Mauled? Will Peter Griffin's favorite brewery catch the two at the top or will Cleveland cause the rest of the division to skid? Let's start with the offense.

-We begin in the Land of Brats. The Maulers have a very balanced attack. starting with SS Ray Buchanan at the top. 2B Tim Harding is next- if he could only hit a little more he'd be a big-time offensive threat, as he draws walks and is already wreaking havoc on the basepaths. 1B Andre Eckenstahler is a professional hitter, but must be pitched to, as possible MVP candidate CF Luis Martinez (acquired in the big Henriquez deal) bats behind him. Pep Osborn and Homer Treadway should have plenty of RBIs and even the best defensive catcher in the division, Victor Gonzales, is not going to be an easy out.

- After Milwaukee there is a bit of a dropoff. I'll take Cleveland next, as CF Walter Guerrero is not a prototypical leadoff hitter- probably not a great average but does provide some pop. While not having as much depth as Milwaukee, they do have good hitters in C Marc Strange, LF Bret King, SS Orlando Franco, and DH Hal Brinkley.

- Pawtucket is going to be a feast or famine team. C Mac Schalk is maybe the only true well-rounded hitter in this lineup. After him are 3B Richard Little, 1B Francisco Javier, and DH Dicky Takahashi, who will all hit their fair share of home runs but can't be counted on to hit for a high average. If these 3 are going well Pawtucket can score enough runs- if not, they'll struggle.

- Ottawa has some question marks in the lineup- they have solid defensive players who may not hit enough to keep up with the likes of Milwaukee. C Hector Borland and 1B Clark Johnstone are the best all-around hitters in this lineup.

Now on to the pitching.

- I like Milwaukee's pitching the best out of the 4 teams here. They have 4 solid starters in James Morton, Graham Costello, Woody Hiller, and Vic Chavez. The have Vin Serano at the closer position and I like Quentin Hughes and Wally Lawton coming out of the pen to set up Serano. Although I can't fault them for making the deal, would anybody else like to have seen what this rotation would have looked like with Henriquez?
- Cleveland is the best of the rest. I like 3 out of their starting 5; Carlton Fleming, Orber Marin, and Steven Michaels can give quality innings to the Skidmarks. I think Hi Nolan maybe needs some better quality pitches but other than that, he's another solid pitcher. Pablo Rijo is the closer; although he is quite capable of getting righties out, he will be extremely nasty on lefties with his biting slider and big-time changeup. Tony Frank is the best setup arm in Cleveland's pen. That being said, a lot of pressure falls on Marc Strange, as he's not gifted at handling the staff.
- Ottawa has a deep bullpen but is not as deep in the starting staff. Brad Clapp and Jim Arnold are probably the two best pitchers for the Naughty Kitties, but I think Jerome Frank and Julian Gonzalez might have control issues. The pen has quality arms in closer Carlos Canseco and setup men Miguel Park, Benito Martin, and Craig Hughes.
- Pawtucket has question marks in the rotation from the top all the way to the bottom. The Patriots will be counting on Pete Rubel and Jared Bellhorn to anchor their staff; Rubel is unproven- he'd make a nice #3 or 4 starter, but I don't think he was given a 5 year- $73.5 million contract to be anything other than an ace. Time will tell if that's what he will become. Bellhorn may struggle to retire hitters. In the bullpen they have Vic Lee to close and Enrique Rijo to setup; both are solid.

Predictions (Don't hold me to any of this):

1. Hmmmm, best lineup and best pitching in the division? I think I'm going to have to go out on a limb and take Milwaukee to win the division here.

2. Cleveland could be an interesting team: if all goes well for them I think you'd have to at least throw them in the discussion for making the playoffs. They are going to need that top of the lineup in Guerrero and Strange to produce and could use another arm or two, particularly in the pen.

3. I think Ottawa finishes ahead of Pawtucket because of pitching.

4. Pete Rubel becomes our league's Barry Zito- decent pitcher who is way overpaid.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Top 100 Prospects in The Bigs

TOP 100 Prospects In The Bigs

There is a bulk of talent at the minor league level as we start season 1. The Fargo Dirtbags are the envy of the league as they have the top 2 prospects in the league. It was Ottawa however that claimed the most prospects in the Top 100 with 8, followed by Milwaukee and Pawtuket with 6 and 5 respectively. I have included a mini statline which has the key ratings in judging a player. I also took into account the most under-rated rating in HBD, durability. Baserunning and speed also increased the players rating sligtly. If the health was below 55 or so there was a slight decrease in the players' rating as well. Makeup also played a minor role. Good/great defense also made a significant difference.

ibatting eye
++++> 90 pitch rating
+++75-90 pitch rating
++60-75 pitch rating
+40-60 pitch rating
gloveoverall defense

1.Javier HenriquezSP9.9FAR99100/95 Splits, 2+++2++, 93 control
2.Sammy PierceSP9.4FAR90100/80 splits, 2+++1++1+, 93 control
3.Dwight SalmonSP9.35SAL8784/90 splits, 1+++2++ 93 control
4.Fred CarterSP9.3ATL8783/82 splits, 3++1+, 100 control
5.Wendell DurringtonSS9.2TEX94c83, p78, 77/88 splits, i70, B+ glove
6.Steve ElsterSP9.0LV8198/84 splits, 2+++1+, 80 control
7.Burt Stevenson1B9.0CHI86c91, p95, 91/85 splits,i93,D+glove
8.Kenneth GravesSP9.0NY7889/92 splits, 3+++2++, 89 control
9.Sean Simpson2B9.0MIL93c70, p81, 95/98 splits,i82,B--glove
10.Tony RowanSP8.9OTT8187/83 splits, 1+++2++, 90 control
11.Alex SamuelCP8.9DUR7796/99 splits,3+++1+, 86 control
12.James DixonSS8.85ANA91c78, p83, 82/73s, i86,B-glove
13.Daniel KochSS8.75TRE91c74, p90, 72/72 splits, i71, B+ glove
14.Jason SpragueSP8.65MEM8276/93 splits, 1+++1++2+, 90 control
Jocko Keats
SP8.5MNT7889/81 splits, 1+++4+, 83 control
Joe Gleason
SP8.45HOU7884/79 splits, 2+++1++1+, 93 control
Marty Lane
SP8.4COL9068/71 splits, 2+++2++, 99 control
Albie Torres
SS8.4N.O.88c67, p75, 78/73 splits, i75, A- glove
Lewis Graham
SP8.35OTT7280/71 splits, 2+++2++, 98 control
Bret Pierre
SP8.35NY7686/83 splits, 1+++1++1+, 79 control
21.Ryan MartinSP8.3OTT7874/71 splits, 2+++1+, 99 control
Miguel Cerveza
SS8.3BOI91c76, p60, 81/65 splits, i75, A- glove
23.Luther BrushSP8.25MNT8664/80 splits, 1+++3++, 83 control
Ted Reese
CP8.25CHI81100/70 splits, 1+++1+, 96 control
25.Orber HoltSP8.2MIL8382/73 splits, 2+++1+, 92 control
26.Trever Russell2B8.2CHI84c88, p100, 68/69 splits, i82, C- glove
27.Norm EdwardsSP8.2MNT7880/70 splits, 2+++2++, 96 control
28.Derrick MathewsSS8.2MNT84c52, p66, 70/56s, i68, A glove
29.Turner DarrSP8.15CIN9179/65 splits, 1+++3+++, 97 control
30.Perry HermanSP8.15TRE8176/81 splits, 1+++2+, 80 control
31.Johnnie ReaganSP8.15TRE7677/77 splits, 2+++1++1+, 98 control
Del Lopez
CF8.15MIL87c57, p76, 73/73 splits, i92, B++ glove
Hipolito Maradona
SP8.15LOU8567/73 splits, 2+++2++, 100 control
34.Louie BolivarSP8.15PAW8672/66 splits, 2+++3++, 81 control
35.David Rushford3B8.1PHI87c52, p95, 73/90 splits, i78, C+ glove
Monte Duvall
SS8.1MEM83c71, p98, 67/52 splits, i46, B- glove
37.Jorge GuzmanSP8.05CHI8484/67 splits, 2+++2+, 96 control
38.Hideo NakanoCF8.05TEX84c91, p61, 47/65 splits, i60, A- glove
39.Erik BakerSS8.0OTT76c56, p66, 64/72 splits, i55, A- glove
Willy Williams
SP8.0FAR8172/77 splits, 2+++1++2+, 91 control
41.Rob CepedaSP8.0LA8684/73 splits, 2+++2+, 67 control
42.Damion MaysSP8.0HUN7786/76 splits, 1+++1++2++, 73 control
43.Steve SweeneyRF8.0SJ90c68, p80, 77/96 splits, i83, D+ glove
44.Oswaldo AstacioSP8.0MEM8481/57 splits, 3+++, 95 control
45.Orber MarinSP7.95CLE8977/65 splits, 1+++3++, 85 control
46.Oswaldo ArmasSS7.95MON85c71, p59, 61/70 splits, i73, B+ glove
47.Freddie HamptonCP7.9SAL7091/72 splits, 2+++1+, 90 control
48.Jeremi GantSP7.9MON8673/64 splits, 2+++1++1+, 89 control
49.Billy NationSP7.85LV7972/69 splits, 2+++2++1+, 80 control
50.Henry TurnerCF7.85OTT80c80, p61, 67/60 splits, i61,B glove
51.Marino CoronadoSS7.85ANA83c87, p46, 45/26 splits, i76, A glove
52.Tony KnonSS7.8BOI83c71, p68, 84/65splits, i62, B- glove
53.Coco HinesCP7.8MIL7876/84 splits, 1++++1++, 100 control
54.Lloyd FreelCP7.8OTT7473/88 splits, 2+++2++, 92 control
55.Alex CornejoCP7.8COL7387/69 splits, 2+++, 98 control
56.Gary JacksonSP7.7LA8470/57 splits, 2+++1++1+, 97 control
57.Vicente GandarillasSP7.7COL7582/74 splits, 1+++3+, 83 control
58.Tom HernandezCP7.7N.O.7879/78 splits, 2+++1++, 90 control
59.Ralph PhillipsSS7.7PHI79c44, p57, 59/72 splits, i62, A glove
Jonathan MacDougal
SP7.65NOR8053/75 splits, 2+++2+, 10 control
61.Footsie LewisSP7.65BOI7784/49 splits, 2+++2++1+, 72 control
62.Felix Pryce2B7.65SJ80c79, p56, 47/63 splits, i78, B- glove
63.Corky MaranvilleC7.65BAL76c80, p82,84/56 splits, i37,C+ glove
64.Al Carrasco3B7.65LV81c89, p89, 48/48 splits, i69, C+ glove
65.Earl HallSS7.65PAW81c56, p65, 61/83 splits, i56,B glove
66.BC ThompsonSS7.5NY77c66, p33, 79/61 splits, i68, A- glove
67.Nerio BransonSP7.5MIL7664/66 splits, 2+++2++, 92 control
68.Karim Ortiz3B7.5MEM83c81, p81, 70/66 splits, i66, C+ glove
69.Juan CabreraSP7.5MNT8267/73 splits, 4+++, 79 control
70.Derrek Bedard2B7.5SAL81c79, p79, 67/58 splits, i81, C- glove
71.Ray Cepicki2B7.5N.O.83c61, p93, 51/66 splits, i73, C+ glove
72.Kenneth SchalkCP7.5SJ8081/78 splits, 2+++, 90 control
Ivan Castilla
SP7.5COL8462/77 splits, 2+++1++1+, 72 control
74.Tony MercedCP7.5BAL8069/78 splits , 2+++, 92 control
Russell Newton
SP7.45PAW7956/74 splits, 2+++2++1+, 86 control
Nick Hernandez
LF7.4OTT80c100, p36, 48/91 splits, i100, D+ glove
Brooke Teut
3B7.4DUR84c50, p84, 79/70 splits, i55, B- glove
Stephen Mills
1B7.4TRE79c83, p89, 81/82 splits, i77, D- glove
Tom Cummings
CP7.4DUR7585/67 splits , 2+++1++, 89 control
Willie Sierra
C7.35BOI74c88, p86, 100/62 splits, i71, D glove
Vance D'Amico
SP7.35CLE8182/89 splits, 2+++, 64 control
Russ Dawkins
SP7.35MON8071/50 splits, 3+++1+, 90 control
83.Albert Martin2B7.3OTT79c77, p92, 58/69 splits, i60, C- glove
Orlando Diaz
SS7.3AZ81c71, p73, 68/58 splits, i56, B- glove
Ismael Polanco
1B7.3LOU73c95, p82, 62/66 splits, i80, D glove
Steve Bako
2B7.25HOU83c62, p74, 73/63 splits, i71, B glove
Matty Matos
1B7.25MON77c84, p88, 68/61 splits, i71, F+ glove
Tony Steib
C7.25NAS85c100, p58, 86/83 splits, i69, C glove
Tony Mays
3B7.25NOR77c48, p81, 67/67 splits, i73, B+ glove
George Spencer
2B7.2ANA79c78, p70, 64/58 splits, i76, C- glove
John Baldwin
CF7.2SJ81c51, p76, 53/88 splits, i58, B- glove
Victor Lloyd
SS7.2BAL74c48, p69, 66/52 splits, i62, B glove
Paul Saarloos
SP7.15TEX7859/81 splits, 1+++3+, 85 control
Tom Ontiveros
SP7.15VAN7463/76 splits, 1+++1++2+, 83 control
Placido Cela
SP7.15MIL7368/47 splits, 3+++1++, 94 control
Jared McMahon
CP7.15PAW7869/78 splits, 2+++1++, 80 control
Jimmy Cole
SP7.1DUR7763/78 splits, 2+++1+, 59 control
Ryan Snyder
RF7.05ATL83c45, p85, 66/80 splits, i94, C glove
Jordan Ball
2B7.05CLE82c85, p42, 78/81 splits, i80, C++ glove
100.Raymond Lamb2B7.05PAW78c66, p46, 64/61 splits, i85, B- glove
Wayne Wilson
SP7.0NAS7377/73 splits, 1+++2++, 63 control