Monday, March 31, 2008

NL Minor league Stat Kings

And here are the statistical kings for the National League Minors. On the hitting side, I think we may need to rename the outstanding Minor League Hitter Award the "Ray Cepicky" award. He had one of the great seasons I have seen in the minors, leading or tieing for not only the league lead, but the overall lead in the entire minors in 7 categories! Maybe the only surprising thing was that his longest hitting streak was only 12 games. With his late season promotion to the big club in New Orleans, I am sure that minor league managers everywhere have let out a collective sigh of relief. On the pitching side there were several great performances and I am going to single out two great season by Atlanta pitchers one by Fred Carter at AAA and the other is Antonio Perez at LoA. They combined for 45 wins and over 400 strike outs, all while being at or near the top in several other categories. Again, any errors here are all mine, and all feedback greatly appreciated

On to the Numbers
Stat Total Name Team Level
HR 56 Ray Cepicky NO AA
RBI 195 Ray Cepicky NO AA
AVG .371 Edgar Torres MEM LoA
OBP .462 Edgar Torres MEM LoA
SLG .776 Ray Cepicky NO AA
OPS 1.223 Ray Cepicky NO AA
Runs 164 Ray Cepicky NO AA
Hits 213 Ray Cepicky NO AA
2B 63 Kevin Yamakazi MON LoA
3B 10 4 Tied with 10
SB 125 Alfredo Hogan TRE HiA
LStrk 30 Brandon Ramsey CHI LoA

Stat Total Name Team Level
Wins 23 Antonio Perez Atl LoA
CG 8 By 5 players
Sho 2 By 11 players
Saves 43 Sal Cole NOR HiA
IP 228.0 Albert Valdez LA AA
K 230 Antonio Perez ATL LoA
ERA 1.04 Ed Allen NO LoA
WHIP 2.43 Ed Allen NO LoA

Minor League Individual Records - AL

I am going to post from time to time on the minor leagues and will be delving inside the numbers a little. With the minor league playoffs approaching the end, I thought it would be good to take a look at some of the great individual statistical seasons across the minors this year. So I took all the players and compiled a list of the leaders in most of the statistical categories. For this reporters money, the best hitting performance came from Keith Buckley (.350 .443 .735) for New York's AAA team. The best pitching performance was by Tomas Ontiveros at Vancouver's HiA team (17-3 2.72 1.07 5-1 K/W) And as my disclaimer, I bypassed the rookie numbers as there is not enough of a sample to make it relevant and fair. So, hope you enjoy our first trip inside the numbers, and any mistakes here are of course mine! If everyone enjoys this, I will do the NL next.

Stat Total Name Team Level
Avg - .390 Osvaldo Campos VC LoA
HR - 58 Timo Carter MNT AAA
RBI - 164 Chief Pearson CSP HiA
Runs - 144 Chief Pearson CSP HiA
Hite - 200 Kory Glauss LOU LoA
OBP - 1.178 Keith Buckley NY1 AAA
SLG - .735 Keith Buckley NY1 AAA
OPS - .480 Nick Hernandez OTT LoA
2B - 61 Ivan Basile PAW LoA
3B - 14 Mariano Coronado LAA AA
SB - 126 Pete Lockwood CSP LoA
LStrk - 50 Piper Brock MIL HiA

Stat Total Name Team Level
Wins 19 Domingo Navarro TEX HiA
Saves 32 Howie Sherman LV AAA
CG 11 PJ Patel TEX HiA
Sho 2 5 players
IP 225.1 Kevin Phillips CLE HiA
K 208 Ivan Castilla CSP AAA
ERA 2.72 Tomas Ontiveros VC HiA
WHIP 1.06 Ralph Wilkins DUR AAA

Sunday, March 30, 2008

1st Round Matchups

The first regular season in The Bigs is now complete. Here's a quick capsule of the 1st round matchups


#3 Houston Oilers vs. #6 Cincinnati Dragons

Season Series: 8-2 Cincinnati

Key Matchup: Houston's Leo Miller & Lawrence Flanagan vs. Cincinnati's Bernard Robinson and Manny Christians. Basically the question comes down to can Houston hit Cincinnati's starters? If they don't, they'll have a hard time advancing. Cincinnati's starting staff is built for a short series, but Houston's got offense. So which one gives? My pick: Cincinnati

#4 Salem Sacrifices vs. #5 New Orleans Voodoo

Season Series: Salem 7-3

Key Matchup: Salem's pitching vs. New Orleans's offense. Salem's got the NL's 2nd best team ERA, led by Cy Young candidates Dwight Salmon and David Dunwoody. New Orleans had the NL's 2nd best batting average, led by MVP candidate Lyle Barber. My pick: Salem


#3 Louisville Legends vs. #6 New York New York

Season Series: Louisville 9-1

Key Matchup: New York's young pitchers vs. Louisville's offense. New York knows, for the most part, what they can get out of Duffy Parnell, but the series could come down to the ability of #2 and #3 starters Miguel Benitez and Joey Hubbard. Can they slow down the top offense in all of baseball? My pick: Louisville

#4 Las Vegas Gamblers vs. #5 Nashville Sounds

Season Series: Las Vegas 8-2

Key Matchup: Nashville's lineup vs. Las Vegas's pitching. No one has figured out how to get Gregg Black out all year. But if the rest of Nashville's lineup gets going, they could pull the upset. Paxton Forrest, Kris Clinton, Midre Santiago, and mid-season acquisition Bud Klein all put up good RBI numbers, but all are prone to strike out. These guys could decide this series either way. I was thinking about calling for the upset before looking at the season series.
My pick: Las Vegas

And it comes down to game 162...

161 games in the book and still some races have yet to be decided. Here's what to look for:

1. AL Wild Card race- New York (89-72) and Cleveland (89-72). A flat-footed tie with just one game to go. New York has taken the first 2 at Huntington to eliminate the gap. Cleveland needs a win at Milwaukee or they could go home. Could a game 163 be in the works?

2. AL seeds 1-3 : Louisville (105-56), Monterrey (104-57), Milwaukee (104-57). Las Vegas is out of this race at 102-59 and has to play Gregg Black and the rest of the Nashville Sounds in the first round. The race here is for the two byes. Baltimore has offered little resistance to the Houston Rockets (oops, I mean Louisville Legends) as they bid for the top spot and an 18-game win streak to end the season. Cleveland's travel secretary might just be able to extend their hotel reservations in Milwaukee: if the Skidmarks win today they likely get a 1st round date with the Manic Maulers opening in Milwaukee later in the week.

3. NL seeds 3-6: Houston and Salem are the 3 and 4 seeds in either order. Cincinnati and New Orleans are the 5 and 6 seeds in either order. Is there any advantage in any matchup? Here's each possible matchup and how the teams did head-to-head in the regular season:

Houston vs. Cincinnati: 8-2 Cincinnati
Houston vs. New Orleans: 5-4 New Orleans (with 1 to play)
Salem vs. Cincinnati: 7-3 Cincinnati
Salem vs. New Orleans: 7-3 Salem

Sure looks like both teams would want to avoid the Dragons in the first round. Of course, that's not really in their hands at this point, as Cincinnati and New Orleans are tied.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

With one series to go...

Only 3 games left in the regular season, and what a season it has been! Those of us who have followed the league have suspected that some of the races would come down to the last series of the season; we just didn't know that this many of them would. Here's where we are...


Division Leaders

Monterrey Sultans (103-56): Clinched AL South Last 3: @ Durham
Louisville Legends (103-56): Clinched AL East Last 3: @ Baltimore
Milwaukee Manic Maulers(102-57): Clinched AL North Last 3: @ Cleveland
Las Vegas Gamblers (102-57): Clinched AL West Last 3: vs. Vancouver

Skinny: The race here isn't for division titles; it's for seeding. Going into the last series one game separates the 1st seed from the 4th seed. So in other words, 1 game separates home field through the AL playoffs and a 1st round bye from a (likely) 1st round series against a quality Nashville squad. Judging from the schedule, Milwaukee would seem to have the toughest task (Cleveland is 89-70, the front-runner for the last wild card spot, and on a 5-game winning streak), while Louisville draws what would seem to be a favorable matchup in Baltimore. By the way, a Legends sweep would give them an 18-game winning streak to finish the season. Magic numbers aren't too helpful here and it's quite possible that the tiebreaker system comes into effect at some point.

Wild Card

Nashville Sounds (92-67) Clinched playoff spot, magic number for #5 seed is 1. Last 3: vs. Texas
Cleveland Skidmarks (89-70) Magic number for playoff spot is 2 Last 3: @ Milwaukee
New York New York (87-72) Last 3: @ Huntington

Skinny: Nashville appears to be headed for the #5 spot. Cleveland has the inside track for the last spot, but they have to play a Milwaukee team that still has motivation to play their starters; taking 2 out of 3 might be a tall order. In that event, the focus switches to the NY-Huntington series. It looked like both teams were going to still be in it, but Huntington faltered a little down the stretch and are now out. However, they've won 85 games so they should not be overlooked. They might want to play spoiler to their division rivals. NY is going to have to take care of Huntington and get some help.


Division Leaders

Trenton (99-60): Clinched NL East, clinched #1 seed Last 3: vs. Atlanta
Montreal (95-64): Clinched NL North, clinched #2 seed Last 3: @Chicago
Houston Oilers (91-68): Clinched playoff spot, magic number for NL South title is 1. Last 3: @ New Orleans
Salem Sacrifices (90-69): Clinched NL South Last 3: @Arizona

Skinny: Things are a little more settled here in the NL. Trenton and Montreal have absolutely nothing to play for at this point, and their series are against teams that are out of contention. Houston's magic number for the division may be 1, but they're going to have to apply the knockout blow themselves, as they play the team chasing them. As for Salem, they play a tough Arizona team that may have been through too much this year to play spoiler. Could be the start of a great rivalry, however.

Wild Card

Cincinnati Dragons (88-71) Magic number for playoff spot is 2 Last 3: vs. Fargo
New Orleans Voodoo (88-71) Magic number for playoff spot is 2 Last 3: vs. Houston
Fargo Dirtbags (86-73) Last 3: @Cincinnati
Norfolk Destroyers (86-73) Last 3: vs. Philadelphia
Arizona Diamondbacks (85-74) Last 3: vs. Salem

Skinny: Here's where it gets messy. Cincinnati against Fargo is likely an elimnation series, as it's unlikely (although theoretically possible) that both will make the playoffs. New Orleans is in an odd position, as they could land anywhere from division champions to out of the playoffs. They have to win at least 1 of those games to feel good about their wild-card chances. Norfolk has put themselves in a bit of a hole after losing 11 of their last 15; they may need to sweep the Blue Jays to get in and even that might not be enough. On paper they have the talent to pull the sweep, but can they turn it around? Arizona is basically on life support- they absolutely must sweep Salem to have any chance whatsoever. Even if they can somehow pull that off, they still need help and would have to win a tiebreaker for the 6th seed- they cannot win the 5th spot.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Playoff Picture

With 6 games to go, here's the playoff picture.


- Monterrey (101-55): Clinched AL South. Magic number for #1 seed is 6.
- Milwaukee(100-56): Clinched AL North
- Louisville(100-56): Clinched AL East
- Las Vegas(99-57): Clinched AL West

Wild Card Race:
Nashville (91-65): Magic number for playoff spot is 2. Magic number for 5th seed is 3.
New York (87-69) Magic number for 6th seed is 6.
Cleveland (86-70): 1 game back of 6th seed.
Huntington (84-72): 3 games back of 6th seed.


-Trenton (96-60): Clinched NL East, clinched 1st round bye. Magic number for #1 seed is 4.
- Montreal (93-63): Clinched NL North. Magic number for 1st round bye is 3.
- Houston Oilers(89-67): Magic number for NL South title is 3.
- Salem Sacrifices(88-68): Magic number for NL West title is 1.

Wild Card Race:

Norfolk (86-70): Magic number for playoff spot is 6
Cincinnati (86-70) Magic number for playoff spot is 6
Fargo (85-71): 1 game back of 6th seed.
New Orleans (85-71): 1 game back of 6th seed.
Memphis (82-74): 4 games back of 6th seed.
Arizona (82-74): 4 games back of 6th seed.

All teams not mentioned, AL and NL, are mathematically eliminated from postseason play.

Minor League World Series Report


#2 Colorado Springs Chickens vs #3 Boise Buckskins

Colorado has no really outstanding players, however they hit, play defense and pitch very well.

Boise is led offensively by
the speedy Carlton McKinley and power hitting Willie Sierra.

Take on the series: If Colorado pitching can hold the Boise offense they will win otherwise they could hit the showers quickly.

My Guess: Boise in 6, that offense proves be too much.


#1 Ottawa Naughty Kitties vs #3 Montreal Maroons

Ottawa offense is led by Sid Coomer and Albert Martin while Yuniesky Ortiz leads the pitching staff.

Montreal offense is led by Lou Bell while
Jeremi Gant leads a terrific pitching staff.

Take on the series: Montreal pitching either wins it or losses it.

My Guess: Montreal in 7, pitching rules and Montreal has more.

High A

#2 Vancouver Fighting Moose vs #1 Norfolk Destroyers

Vancouver offense is led by
Woody Waltman and a host of good speedy hitters.

Norfolk led by cunning coach
Allen Tracy brings deception to the table.

Take on the series: Not sure the deception will work against the Moose.

My Guess: Norfolk in 7, I like the coach and the idea that everyone plays.

Low A

#2 New Orleans Voodoo vs #1 Durham Entombed Spiders

Chan Suh leads the powerful Spiders offense and a bevy of talented pitching starters.

Tommy Morehead leads the maligned Voodoo offense and very talented bull pen.

Take on the series: Voodoo can win if Suh is held hitless.

My Guess: Spiders in 4, this is what the stats show and when have the stats been wrong?

Rookie League

Las Vegas Gamblers vs #3 Philadelphia Blue Jays

Gamblers offense is led by power hitting
R.J. Guardado and a bevy of others with a very capable pitching staff.

Blue Jays offense is led by
Bob Owens and another very capable pitching staff.

Take on the series: Can the Jays pitching halt the Gambler offense.

My Guess: Gamblers in 6, hitting takes the day..a little prejudice maybe.

*Note: Gamblers are the only wild card team to make a WS series so far.

Two more teams clinch division titles

Monterrey and Trenton, linked by the two major deals they made before the season started, clinched their respective division titles on the same day. Monterrey clinched their division with a 23-3 win over Huntington combined with the Nashville Sounds' 5-4 loss at Las Vegas. With their win Monterrey also became the second team in either league to win 100 games, afer Milwaukee. Last night's starting pitcher, Philip Allensworth said, "We're really happy, and I personally like the fact that I got to pitch the clinching game. But we're not satisfied. Our goal from Spring Training was to win the whole thing. We're far from done".
Trenton lost to San Juan, 5-3, but clinched their division title when Norfolk lost at Memphis, 6-5. They currently hold a 1-game lead over Montreal for the top spot in the NL. "It's a great feeling", said MVP candidate LF Ken Davis after the game. "Most people wrote us off early, but we started off well and haven't looked back. We've received contributions from everyone- this really is a team". Both teams could receive byes to the 2nd round.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Minors 1st Round Playoff Report



5th seeded Milwaukee falls to 4th seeded New York in the 5th game of the highly contested series. The speedy Darryl Chapman scored the winning run from first base on Keith Buckley's double to center field in the 8th inning. New York will now face the #1 seed Pawtucket Patriots.

The 6th seeded
Cleveland Skidmarks fell to the Texas Double Trouble in 4. The Skidmarks lost their composure in the top of the 10th of deciding game allowing the first batter to reach on an error followed by a wild pitch and a single. A walk and strike out later, Pedro Gandarillas hits a triple that cleared the base. Texas will now tangle with the 2nd seeded Colorado Springs Chickens.


The 5th seeded Memphis Short Grass fell to the 4th seeded Atlanta Bandits in 4 games.
Robin Fischer scores from third on Matt Bennett's single in the top of the 11th. Atlanta now faces the #2 seeded Chicago Cubs which previews the future of the organization.

The 3rd seeded
Boise Buckskins defeated the Montreal Maroons in a tit for tat series. The series started out by shutout wins by each team. Then a 12 inning affair that saw the Maroons go on top. After that, the Maroons tired bull pen was no match for the Buckskin hitters. Boise will now face the 2nd seeded San Juan Dead Bunnies.



The 5th seeded
Baltimore Iron Birds downs the 4th Durham Entombed Spiders in 4. The Entombed Spiders almost pulled out game 4 with 9th inning heroics, but Chuck Corey got Damian Bell to strike out with the bases loaded. The Birdies will now face the 1st seeded Ottawa Naughty Kitties.

The 6th seeded
Nashville Sounds sweep the 3rd seeded Huntington Beachcombers. Carl Sheets scored the winning run from third base on a close play at the plate on Harry Chavez's sac fly in the bottom of the 10th. Nashville will bring their star studded act to town as they will face the 2nd seeded Las Vegas Gamblers.


Trenton Traffic out duals the Los Angles Dodgers in 4. Game 2 of this series showcased a complete game 3 hit shutout by
Anthony Horton, just enough to out do Albert Valdez who gave up 5 hits in his complete game effort. However a double and a single in the third inning sealed the Dodgers fate on that day and took the wind out their sails. Trenton now goes on to face the Witch Doctors of the #1 seeded New Orleans Voodoo.

The Chicago Cubs get swept by the Montreal Maroons. Game 2 also added another complete game by
Jeremi Gant, his 9th of the season, allowing only 1 run on 5 hits and striking out 11 in his conquest. Take note folks, he will become a #1 starting pitcher in the ML and a future HOF candidate if all goes well. The Maroons go on to face the 2nd seeded Philadelphia Blue Jays.

High A


The 4th seeded Louisville Legends beat the 5th seeded Texas Double Trouble in 4. Double Trouble bats never seemed to get it going except in game 2 as Legends pitching ruled the series. The Legends will go to face the #1 seeded Durham Entombed Spiders.

The 3rd seeded
Ottawa Naughty Kitties downs the Milwaukee Manic Maulers in 4. Maulers hitters solves Kitties pitching in game 4 but saw the lead evaporate as their pitching couldn't hold the lead. Fritz will now go on the prowl of Bullwinkle in a classic cartoon way! ( just couldn't resist).


The 5th seeded
New Orleans Voodoo marooned Montreal hitters in a sweep. Maroon hitting coach Kevin Bell exclaimed, "5 runs and 19 hits in three games is pathetic!". The Voodoo will now face the #1 seeded Norfolk Destroyers which should be a classic series to watch.

The 3rd seeded
Arizona Diamondbacks sent the Chicago Cubs home in a sweep. Cubby bench coach, Luis Campos, said in a Dusty Baker tone, "If Kevin said Maroon hitting was pathetic, what do you call 4 runs on 16 hits in three games?". The Diamondbacks continue their struggle with the 2nd seeded Memphis Short Grass.

Low A


The 4th seeded
New York new york furthers their conquest after beating the 5th seeded Colorado Springs Chickens in 4 games. New York will next face the #1 seeded Durham Entombed Spiders.

The 6th seeded Vancouver Fighting Moose downs the Ottawa Naughty Kitties in 5 exciting games. The Moose will now face the 2nd seeded Anaheim Chiles in a spicy matchup.


The 4th seeded Montreal Maroons downs the Atlanta Bandits in 5 games and moves on to a showdown with the #1 seeded Trenton Traffic.

The 3rd seeded
Arizona Diamondbacks downs the 6th seeded Los Angeles Dodgers in 4 games. The Diamondbacks go on against the 2nd seeded New Orleans Voodoo.

Rookie League


The 5th seeded
Las Vegas Gamblers downs the 4th seeded Monterrey Sultans in 4 games. The Sultans wouldn't even admit they were in the Rookie League playoffs. The Gamblers will face their division rival Vancouver Fighting Moose.

The 3rd seeded
Pawtucket Patriots sweeps by the 6th seeded Huntington Beachcombers. The Patriots are destined to meet up with 2nd seeded Louisville Legends.


The 5th seeded
Los Angeles Dodgers squeaks by 4th seeded Memphis Short Grass in 5 games. Dodgers will next play the #1 seeded Boise Buckskins.

The 3rd seeded
Philadelphia Blue Jays defeats the 6th seeded Fargo Dirtbags in 5 games. An odd series that featured a lot of hitting by the visiting team in the first four games. The Blue Jays took advantage of home field in the deciding game to take the series. The Jays next adventure is to the #2 seeded Chicago Cubs.

Louisville clinches AL East Title

The Louisville Legends have clinched the 1st ever AL East title. Currently holding a 95-56 record and the 4th seed in the American League, their 5-3 win over Texas combined with New York's 6-1 loss at Monterrey mathematically eliminated the New York from catching Louisville for the division. After the game last night, the scoreboard switched coverage to the end of the New York/Monterrey game. The fans let out a loud cheer after New York had made the final out.
The Legends are currently on a 7 game winning streak and are trying to catch Las Vegas for the 3 seed or, if they stay hot, could have aspirations about one of the top 2 seeds, which would earn them a bye.

Duffy Parnell throws The Bigs's 2nd no-hitter in less than a week

New York was in the middle of a drive for the wild-card. They had lost 3 out of 4 to the Anaheim Chiles at home, the final game of the set being the Drabek no-hitter. "We were not happy after that game", said slugger King Winn. "After what they did in our house we wanted to go get those guys". So they were a team with motivation, a little bit of confidence after sweeping 3 from Ottawa, and a pitcher who was coming off a 3-hit shutout of Anaheim in Duffy Parnell. Seemed like a perfect storm for something big to happen... and so it did.
Parnell returned to Anaheim the favor Drabek had paid his squad by pitching a 5-0 no-hitter in Anaheim. He walked Butch Swift in the 1st and Alex Vazquez in the 4th, which was preceeded by an Ivan Jones error. Parnell struck out 7 . The aforementioned Winn provided more than enough offense for Parnell, hitting his 57th and 58th homeruns in the game. "I felt great all night", said Parnell after the game. " I didn't really realize what was happening until after the 5th inning. I looked around the dugout and found I was sitting by myself. Then I looked at the scoreboard and saw what was happening." When asked about the significance of the no-hitter, Parnell answered "I really don't know. I think maybe after the season I'll get to reflect on this a little. Right now, the most important part is we won. I want to pitch in the playoffs and we need every win we can get".

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Maulers become 2nd team in the AL postseason

The Milwaukee Manic Maulers have claimed their first ever AL North title. With 12 games to play they currently hold the #1 seed overall in the American League and figure to be a tough team to play in the playoffs. Milwaukee fans, who have supported the team all year, are ecstatic about their team's chances of winning the World Series. If they are able to claim that top seed it would help them quite a bit.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Gamblers clinch AL West Title

The Las Vegas Gamblers have clinched the AL West divisional title with an 8-2 win in Nashville yesterday. They are the first team to stamp their ticket to the postseason. Their work is not done yet, however, as there are still more than 20 games left to decide the seedings for the playoffs. Right now they currently sit 3rd in the AL but are only 3 back of league- leading Monterrey. If they are able to pass either Monterrey or Milwaukee, currently 2 up on the Gamblers, they can avoid having to play in the first round. Tickets for games 1 and 2 of their first playoff series (round yet to be determined) can be purchased starting tomorrow for season ticket holders and next week for everyone else at any ticket window at Cashman Field.

Drabek throws a No-No

Los Angeles Chiles ace Ajax Drabek threw a no-hitter last night in a 1-0 victory over New York. Drabek threw just 86 pitches against New York and moved to 15-5 on the year. An error by 3B Alex Vasquez opened the first inning for New York, whose only other baserunner came on an 8th inning walk. 1B Carlos Duran hit an 8th inning homerun for the only run of the game. The no-hitter by Drabek is the first in the Bigs on the Major League level.

Ajax Drabek
Age: 33B/T: R/R
Born: Cohasset, MA
Position(s): P (SP1)
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

Friday, March 21, 2008

Glimpse of the future in Trenton

With the Trenton Traffic pitching staff being hit hard by injuries, Traffic GM gumbercules has decided to call up his top 2 minor league starters, Johnnie Reagan and Perry Herman. "I didn't really want to do it, but I feel like I have to", said gumbercules about the call ups. "With Tony (Satou, SP). Vernon (Coscarat, SP), and Archie (Adkinson, RP) all going down in the last 3 days, I needed not just more pitching, but quality pitching. We're still in the thick of a playoff race and those 3 guys have combined for 31 wins this year- that's a lot. I feel Johnnie and Perry give us the best chance to win". When asked if he was rushing his star prospects, gumbercules replied, "Not at all. This is only for a few starts unless they make it impossible for us to remove them from the rotation".
Reagan, 22, spent the season at AAA, posting a 5-3 record with a 3.40 ERA. He was dealt to Trenton before the season with 3B Enrique Park for R.J. Toca and was listed as the #30 overall prospect on ACEROTHSTEIN's Top 100 prospect list. He is a right-hander who features 4 quality pitches and had figured to be a potential call-up after the roster expansion. Herman, 21, has been in AA all year after coming over with minor league RP Mitch Clark from Louisville in the Bernard Young trade. He is a left-hander who was 17-6 with a 3.08 ERA and is the #30 overall prospect. Both figure to make their major league debuts in the next few days as the Traffic host the Cubs.

Dodgers looking to future, sign talented international player

The Los Angeles Dodgers held a press conference yesterday to announce the signing of Dominican star Vic James. James signed a minor league contract (with a spring training invite) and a league-record $16.2 million bonus. The Dodgers, currently at 35-99, are looking to build for the future and took a big step in that direction with this signing. James is potentially a 5-tool right fielder who should bat in the middle of the order for L.A. sometime in the near future. The scouts' take on him is that offensively he might be able to handle AAA or even ML pitching right now but needs some work on his defense. L.A. has no plans to rush him, currently playing him in Rookie ball. I would expect him to move up the minor league ladder fairly quickly.

Vic James
Los Angeles
Age: 19B/T: S/L
Born: Nigua, DO
Position(s): RF
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

Thursday, March 20, 2008

NL Notes

As we come to the finish of Season 1, here's what to watch for in the last 30 games (or so) in the National League:

1. Will the Traffic let up? The surprising Trenton Traffic have surprisingly vaulted to the top of the league. Can they maintain their hold on the #1 seed? They're on a 4-game losing streak, allowing the Montreal Maroons to close to within 2 games; Houston and Salem aren't far behind. If they really struggle, it's possible that Norfolk could catch them for the division lead. Stunned elation has given way to cautious optimism on the banks of the Delaware River.

2. The other dark horse team: Fargo was another team expected to rebuild this season; they find themselves in wild-card contention. This team is proof that pitching wins- they have the best ERA in the National League. They are currently 1 game back of division rival Cincinnati. Can they pull off the improbable playoff berth?

3. Despair in the Snake Pit: Fargo has been hot in recent weeks, and the Arizona Diamondbacks have been riding the elevator the other way. They have struggled lately, not helped by the loss of future ace Hippolito Pujols. Pujols was having a very good rookie season, going 11-7 with a 3.42 ERA before needing elbow surgery. Can the D-Backs, currently 3 out of a playoff spot with 3 teams ahead of them, overcome it all and make the postseason?

4. From AAA to Cy Young? Dwight Salmon of Salem began the year in AAA. Now he's in Cy Young contention in the majors. Salem called him up after 5 starts in the minors (putting up an uninspiring 5.18 ERA) and he proceeded to retire ML batters with little mercy. He has a 10-1 record since being called up with a 1.61 ERA and at one point had a 42 2/3 scoreless inning streak (oddly enough, the last run before the streak and the run to end the streak both came on wild pitches). Salmon and ace David Dunwoody have the Sacrifices leading the NL West by 6 games ove Arizona and will be a tough tandem to face in the playoffs.

AL Notes

With about a month to go (30 games left), here are the stories we're looking at down the stretch:

1. The last wild-card spot. The AL West "race" is over, as Las Vegas is about to clinch. Louisville and Milwaukee hold 9 and 10 game leads, respectively, in their divisions and are looking fairly comfortable. The AL South has the closest race with Nashville only 5 games back of Monterrey, but both should have little trouble making the playoffs (Nashville holds an 8 game lead on the other wild card contenders). So that leaves 1 spot left, and Cleveland has a 1 game lead over New York right now. Huntington can't be counted out, as they only trail by 3. This race could be decided in the final days of the regular season. By the way, New York finishes with a 3 game set at Huntington.

2. The chase for .400: Gregg Black has had an amazing season for the Nashville Sounds. He's already driven in 150 (191 and beyond may be a little out of reach, although he's on pace for about 185) and has an insane OBP of .520 (meaning he's on base more than half the time he steps up to the plate), but one of baseball's storied hitting numbers is .400. With a current average of .393, he's got a shot to reach that magical plateau. It would be an incredible feat if he could manage to do it. As an afterthought, he might be in the 40-40 club (currently 45 HR, 35 SB); he and teammate Paxton Forrest (33 HR, 37 SB) have the best chance to pull it off.

3. Kenneth Graves: As New York strives to make the playoffs, they called up star prospect Kenneth Graves to pitch out of the bullpen as a setup man. They're hoping to catch some Joba Chamberlain-like magic out of this 19-year-old kid. Can he do the job? Will this help or hurt his development? Only time will tell.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Breaking down the deadline deals


With the race for the postseason heating up, several teams made moves at the trading deadline to try to put them in position to make some noise in the playoffs. Arizona in the NL and Milwaukee in the AL were particularly busy. Let's examine the bigger deals that were made.
(Note: If a level is not given for a player he is in the majors)

Arizona Diamondbacks and Durham Entombed Spiders
- Arizona gets: C/DH Davey Barrios
- Durham gets: RF Jacob Hill, LF/1B Bob Lansing (Hi A), SP Daniel Jones (Hi A)

-Analysis: Big-time deal for Arizona. Barrios is a big-time hitter who put up huge numbers in Durham and hopes to help lead Arizona to the playoffs. As it stands now, they're in a dogfight for a wild-card spot and this acquisition helps solidify the lineup. On Durham's end, they get 2 solid minor leaguers- I particularly like Jones as a future ML starter if he continues to develop. Lansing is a young power hitter who could contribute in the majors someday. Hill is a throw-in.

Impact: 5/5

Arizona and Boise Buckskins

-Arizona gets: CF R.J. Figueroa
-Boise gets: RP Ralph Reitz, RP J.R. Ankiel, SP Melvin Robinson (AAA)

-Analysis: Not as big a deal as getting Barrios, but could still potentially be significant. Figueroa is a speedy center fielder who steals bases and plays defense quite well. He strikes out too much and doesn't get on base enough to be a prototypical leadoff hitter but can still contribute. Arizona gave up very little to get Figueroa- Reitz and Ankiel are not impact players at all. Robinson is by far the best of the bunch. He put up good numbers in AA for the D-Backs and seems to be able to handle AAA in Boise, but could be inconsistent on the ML roster.

-Impact: 3/5

Milwaukee Manic Maulers and New Orleans Voodoo

-Milwaukee gets: RP Buddy Titan, RP Glen Kelly, C John Stevenson (unassigned)
- New Orleans gets: RP Don Wang (AA), 2B Matty Clement (Hi A)

-Analysis: Milwaukee felt they needed bullpen help and got a double shot of it in this deal. Titan had been pursued by at least one other team; he and Kelly should be able to give uber-closer Quinton Hughes some help. Stevenson is a minor league catcher who is a great pitch-caller and should help Milwaukee's minor leauge pitchers develop. For New Orleans, Wang projects as a solid set-up man in the majors and Clement is a slap-hitting middle infielder who can run. It's possible New Orleans could have got more but if they had held out and nothing better came, they risked getting nothing for Titan, a free-agent after the year.

-Impact: 3.5/5

Milwaukee Manic Maulers and Vancouver Fighting Moose

Milwaukee gets: C Red Small
Vancouver gets: 1B Woody Waltman (Hi A)

Analysis: It's a tough choice for Milwaukee. They have the classic dilemma of having to choose between the offensive catcher (Small) and the defensive catcher (Victor Gonzalez) and seem to have chosen defense. Gonzalez can't play every game, of course, and you find backup catchers far worse than Small. Waltman seems like a high price to pay for a backup catcher- he's a quality overall hitter. Vancouver is willing to wait for him to develop and I think eventually will be rewarded.

-Impact: 2/5

Trenton Traffic and Boise Buckskins

Trenton gets: RP Jim Bell
Boise gets: SS Omar Garza (AA)

-Analysis: Trenton takes a flyer on a guy who has stuggled somewhat during the season. Bell has been awful since joining the Traffic, not providing the bullpen help GM Gumbercules was hoping to add to bridge the gap from the surprising starters to Fireman of the Year candidate Justin Beverlin. Garza is a very good defensive player who could stick on a ML roster as a defensive replacement in late innigs someday.

-Impact: 1/5

Montreal Maroons and Durham Entombed Spiders

-Montreal gets: SP Horatio Lecuona
-Durham gets: RP Arnold Hill, RP Josh Drese (AA)

-Analysis: This could be another deal that doesn't really help the contending team as much as they would have hoped. Lecuona is a fairly average starting pitcher who hasn't put up great numbers this year for either team. Hill is a decent major league relief pitcher who has pitched much better in Durham than he did north of the border and Drese is a future setup (maybe closer) in the ML. Not a bad haul for a 5th starter.

Impact: 1.5/5

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Al Carrasco Makes Debut

Highly touted 3B, Al Carrasco, makes debut with the Las Vegas Gamblers. After hitting for a .349 average and 38 home runs in 109 games at AAA, Al Carrasco was called up from the minors and Shooter Elster was sent down in a surprise move by Gambler management. Gambler management had "No Comment" about the surprise move. Excited Gambler fans had this response: "Shooter was given every opportunity to succeed but just wasn't getting the job done!"

Al Carrasco
Las Vegas
Age: 23B/T: R/R
Born: Fantino, DO
Position(s): 3B/1B/COF/DH
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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Another big-time starter lost for the year

Just days after Arizona lost Hippolito Pujols to an elbow injury, Monterrey has now been hit with the injury bug. R.J. Toca, Monterrey's top starter, is out for the year with elbow tendinitis. Toca was having a very solid year for the Sultans, posting a 10-5 record with a 4.71 ERA before the injury. Monterrey was leading Baltimore 16-0 going into the 6th inning. Toca got leadoff man Billy Miller to hit a harmless fly ball, but afterward appeared to be in pain. A post-game X-ray revealed the tendinitis, which will likely keep Toca out for the remainder of the season, including the playoffs. Monterrey general manager ACEROTHSTEIN was unavailable for comment.

R.J. Toca
Age: 31B/T: R/R
Born: Victoria, MX
Position(s): P (P)
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Friday, March 14, 2008

D-Backs snakebit by injury

Arizona's playoff hopes took a huge hit last night as they lose arguably their top starting pitcher, Hippolito Pujols, for the rest of the season. Arizona had been struggling lately, having lost 9 of their last 13. They currently stand 6 back in the division and 5 back in the wild card race. "It's going to be tough", said the beleaguered manager of the D-Backs after the game. "This is a big blow. "
Pujols had to come out of the game after striking out Cubs 3B Sean Tatum in the 3rd inning of Arizona's 4-1 victory. He told reporters after the game, "I knew right away something was wrong." He then motioned for the trainers to come out and was immediately lifted. A post-game examination revealed bone spurs that will require surgery. Pujols is scheduled to fly to Birmingham to have the surgery done by Dr. James Andrews on Monday. It is possible that he could be ready by Opening Day next season.

Hipolito Pujols
Age: 23B/T: L/L
Born: Maracaibo, VE
Position(s): P (P)
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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Henriquez set to make ML debut tonight

Fargo Dirtbags pitcher Javier Henriquez, the top rated prospect in The Bigs, will make his major league debut during tonight's PM2 cycle against the Philadelphia Blue Jays. Henriquez boasts an excellent sinker and good curveball to go with excellent splits and good control. He was 18-2 with a 2.13 ERA and 1.03 WHIP to go with 196 Ks in 160.2 IP this season at AAA Fargo.

Javier Henriquez
Age: 21B/T: L/L
Born: San Francisco De Macoris, DO
Position(s): P (SP4)
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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

One on one with Monterrey GM ACEROTHSTEIN

We caught up with Monterrey Sultans GM ACEROTHSTEIN to get his thoughts on who the best team in The Bigs is, debate Chris Paul v. Deron Williams and the most important aspect of a team, among other things. Here's what Ace had to say.

Why did you decide to join The Bigs? I was looking to start an AL franchise from the beginning, something I hadn't got a chance to do. In hindsight I had an idea of starting a log like some of other worlds got, but I've got to say this blog has blown past those expectations.

What was your first thought when you looked at your roster for the first time? At first glance I wasn't mad at all, it was clear from the start with that offense, that my team was built to win now so I made an effort to fill some holes in the rotation and landed 3 vets, Allensworth, Toca and Fox.

Who's got the best team in The Bigs? The team that scares me the most would have to be Milwaukee, but there are a number of teams in the AL that are going to put up a fight like Cleveland which I think is one of the more underrated teams and Nashville has looked strong all year, they're definitely not making it easy on me. Then you got Vegas and Louisville all in the AL.

What do you do in your spare time when your not running your HBD teams? Tons of things to do out here in California so when im not working or messing with my lineups you can find me at a bar in Berkeley, at the wharf in SF or at a club in San Jose. But I'd rather be golfing most of the time lol.

What's the most important part of a team to you? The power bats? Strong starting pitching? Strong bullpen? Speed and defense? The beer vendors? Dude, its gotta be the beer vendors, what good is your franchise if you're giving them that watered down stuff, that's why in the Estadio Monterey we serve nothing but the best micro-brews from McEwan' Scotch Ale to Newcastle. Na jp you gotta go with starting pitching, momentum is only as good as your next SP.

Do the Sultans have what it takes to win the World Series?I think they do, no player is a liability on this team that's why I didn't really try to make any deals before the deadline.

What is your team's biggest weakness?Probably would have to be my teams overall health, 11 of my guys have a health rating below 62 amd have only 4 guys with a health over 80. Just check out my squad right now I have 4 starters banged up, luckily I'm pretty deep and just about any player can on offense can fill the hole.

Illini alumni? If so, I say Chris Paul is better than Deron Williams, prove me wrong. I wish I could prove you wrong but that's not happening, gotta give it to Chris as he is the better overall player, plus he has superior defense, but they are both in there 3rd year and you never know where they will go from here.

If you could change one thing about HBD, what would it be and why? Well besides the obvious like shortening ST and making the edit player settings screen more efficient, I wouldn't mind if they expanded the amount of choices for cities or giving the All star game winning league the home field adv in the WS.

IFAs - 2 Million Plus Boys

In a word, the market has been… frankly LEAN and the strangest I’ve seen. The highest price going to a potential CLOSER; this usually goes to a future CY Young Starter or MVP. That’s not to say Alex Javier ain’t worth it, it’s just unusual that’s all. So far a total of 42 IFAs have been signed by the 32 teams. I’m not going to look at them all but let’s look at the 2 million plus group. I’ve always thought “If I’m going to spend 2 Mill or more on a guy, he’d BETTER be future ML material”. This is MY opinion from my 17 seasons of HBD. I’m rather frank with MY opinion in some cases here. I’ve been known to be wrong (actually is happens quite a bit). My hope here is help new owners assess talent not slam any particular owner etc.

Fargo Dirtbags: Alex Javier – Closer. Bonus: 15 Million. Contract: ML 5 yr @ 54.5k
Well in a couple of seasons Fargo could very well have a guy that could win both the Fireman Award & CY Young. Alex has what you want in a closer: Good Durability – he can take the mound often; He’s Stamina is good enough that he can pitch the WHOLE 9th and if need be, part of the 8th; Good Velocity, Solid Control, Great Splits and of course 2 solid pitches. ENOUGH SAID

Chicago Cubs: Alex Seanz – 2B Bonus: 12.1 Million. Contract: MiLB/invite
Alex will take about 4 or so years to get the ML level. But when he does, the Cubs will have themselves a solid 2B on their hands. Good Fielding ratings for 2B (not Gold Glove material though). His potential hitting ratings are all above average for the ML level (again no Batting Champ or HR leader here). His best asset for offence is Speed with a great Base Running rating. I see Alex in the lead off role for the Cubs in year 5.

Memphis Short Grass: Julio Mendoza – 3B, COF. Bonus: 11 Million. Contract: MiLB
Julio will definitely hit in the majors. He should hit in high .290s or low .300s with 30+ HRs. Thing with Julio is while he will have the glove, arm & accuracy of a ML SS, he will not have even close to the range needed. A minor problem really, his future ratings put him as a potential Gold Glove at 3rd and that ain’t shabby. So a gold glove 3rd baseball with an above average bat, in HBD defence DOES matter so IMO opinion he’s worth the price.

Boise Buckskins: Damaso Ramirez – SU/CL? Bonus 10.9 Million. Contract: MiLB
Damaso is going to have the pitch quality you’d love to see in a starter (and a little bit more). BUT he will not have the stamina of one. Well that means the bullpen. He'll either be a Set up/Closer or a Long man. Either way, Boise is going to have to watch his PC, so he doesn’t get too tired because his durability is low as well. The major drawback with Damaso – HEALTH!!! My opinion while he could be a good one… over 10 million is too much to pay with these questions.

San Juan Dead Bunnies: Junior Tabaka – DH/1B Bonus: 8.5 Million. Contract: MiLB
Junior is the proto-typical Catcher who should be a DH/1B. You’ll see a LOT of these in HBD! Ok, you will not see a lot with his ratings though. Who cares if he’s a lousy catcher who can’t call a game and couldn’t throw out a runner to save his life. Give him a bat and let put dents in the baseball! That’s what DH/1B is for! Junior will hit for both power and average. The only thing about these DH/1B catchers is their stamina is a bit low and their health can be below average – it’s a Catcher thing. BUT Junior is worth every penny of the bonus bucks.

Pawtucket Patriots: Damaso Brogna – RF/1B Bonus: 7.6 Million Contract: ML 3 yr @54.5K
This guy has the potential to be an All Star at the ML level. He’ll hit for power and average, he has good speed etc. Solid all-around hitter, he will not win a batting crown etc BUT he’ll be in the top 25 of HRs and BA that’s for sure. The thing is he’s at least 4 years away from the ML and should be in A-Ball not AA. But if Pawtucket has one heck of a Batting Coach there, that will help.
Atlanta Bandits: Donaldo Lopez - SU Bonus: 6.0 Million Contract: MiLB
Donaldo will take awhile to develop but he should become a decent Set Up guy at the ML level. He will not have the pitches for a closer. BUT he should do very well for 7th or 8th inning man. Solid control, great splits and 3 above average pitches (though none will be 80+) means some quality innings. Is he worth 6 big ones….. time will tell.

Baltimore Iron Birds: Victor Gonzales – CF Bonus: 5.0 Million Contract: MiLB
Victor will be a solid CF, but not All Star stuff. He has a good glove and the range for CF and his hitting ratings are good. He’ll hit around .280 with 20+ long flies. Nothing wrong with any of that, from a guy who will be a steady ML CF. Just not a perennial all star.

Pawtucket Patriots: Ugueth Montanez – 2B/COF Bonus: 4.6 Million Contract: MiLB
Here is a prospect that should be a good lead off guy. Will have a very good contact rating, a good batting eye and decent splits with very little power. He’s already got great speed but needs to develop his base running skills (at present he’s getting thrown out 1/3 of the time – not good). Once this done, you’ve got a lead off guy. The only thing is his glove and arm strength aren’t quite up to ML 2B standards; maybe a COF?

Trenton Traffic: Rico Johnson – RF/1B Bonus: $4.3 Million Contract: MiLB
Rico is another one of HBD’s RF/1B boys. His will be a bat Trenton will want in the line up. While Batting Eye & Contract ratings will be average; he’ll have above average power and splits. So, you’ve got a guy who’ll contribute offensively – he’ll hit about .300 and hit 30+ HRs. I don’t know any owner who’d not want Rico in the line up.

Cincinnati Dragons: Enrique Melendez – Mop UP Bonus: $4.0 Contract: MiLB
I will say sorry now for what’s about to follow. Enrique will be at BEST an AA/AAA Mop Up Pitcher. Sure his stamina is ok, as is his control & velocity BUT his splits are marginal even for AAA but that could be overcome if his pitch quality was great. IT AIN"T! Three pitches & not one will be over 70… means trouble at the AAA or ML level for a 3-Pitch Pitcher. He’ll struggle even at the AAA level. IMO a waste of 4 mill. Better hope for DiTR here.

Milwauke Manic Maulers: David Mendez – C Bonus $3.6 Contract: MiLB/invite
A catcher who’ll have a good PC rating AND will hit….is rare in HBD. So, in Mendez the Maulers have got IT. The only thing with Mendez is his potential Durability and Health. Even if Milwaukee can keep him healthy, he’ll only give them about 300-350 ABs at the ML level. Means platoon catcher. Even with this drawback, he’s definitely worth a flyer at the $ the Maulers paid.

Las Vegas Gamblers: R.J. Guardado – DH/1B Bonus: $3.6 Contract: MiLB
Here is another type of player you’ll see a lot of in HBD – the DH/1B. R.J. with hit for power and a decent BA. While not MVP or All Star material, still a solid ML bat. Again a drawback here his durability (in the 60s), so he’ll be platoon material at first. This lowers his overall value IMO because 1B is not really a spot you want to platoon at.

Durham Entombed Spiders: Manual Bautista – CF Bonus $3.2 Contract: MiLB
Bautista will be a solid ML OF with decent speed and should develop good base running ability. Again there is a BUT, guys with low contact ratings should at least have a real good power rating – Manual doesn’t. Offset those Ks with some HRs but he won't. His splits and eye will be above average for ML hitter, not enough to make up for the low contact rating. Overall a guy will bat in the bottom 1/3 of the order. I see Manual as a bench guy at a ML level.

Houston Oilers: Victor Vargas – CL? Bonus $3.0 Contract: MiLB
Once again another “type” of player you tend to see a lot of in HBD. The pitcher with great control, great splits, velocity, pitches…… BUT a very low stamina rating. These guys struggle to pitch a whole inning in an appearance. Once they go past 2-3 batters, they usually get SHELLED!! You’d think – specialist (either L or R doesn’t matter), the thing is, HBD coaches don’t seem to know how to use a specialist correctly. Doesn’t seem to matter if set up or closer, they're very erratic in their performance – one year unhittable, the next….grapefruit city.

Trenton Traffic: Aurelio Prieto – RF/1B Bonus: $3.0 Contract: MiLB
The Traffic again score a RF/1B guy. What I wrote about Rico Johnson can be repeated here. That is with one difference though, Aurelio’s health rating is marginal. Still, for the price.. he’s worth it.

Cleveland Skidmarks: Oswaldo Rodrigo – LR Bonus $2.8 Contract: MiLB
Oswaldo is a marginal AAA prospect pitcher at best. Should have good stamina and good control, but his splits are well below what they should be for a ML pitcher. His pitch quality is also suspect with only 2 that will be barely over average; the other 2 are well below average. Cleveland has put this guy at AA (too high IMO), he’ll most likely struggle at this level with present ratings.

San Juan Dead Bunnies: Wilfredo Padilla – LR Bonus $2.1 Contract: MiLB
Read the review above, cause the exact same applies to Wilfredo. While his pitch quality is slightly better than Oswaldo, as is his velocity and he’s a ground ball pitcher. BUT his durability is below average. Again this is a marginal AAA pitching prospect. Both Oswaldo and Wilfredo are examples of pitchers who's overall rating is 70+ (the general waterline for a potential MLer) but aren't ML material.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

2 Big Trades Before the All-Star Break

As we come back from the All-Star break, the trade deadline looms not so far away. A few contending teams have already tried to improve via trades. Here's what went down right before the All-Star break:

Cincinnati Dragons and Pawtucket Patriots
-Cincinnati gets: 3B Rich Little
-Pawtucket gets: 2B Mike Tatum, P Tony Gao, P Juan Almonte(AA)

- Skinny: Cincinnati gets a huge power bat in Little, who was leading the NL in homeruns when he was traded (he sits 3rd now with 40). His OBP is decent for a slugger, and he does not strike out a whole lot, so he's a good fit for the lineup. Pawtucket gets little(no pun intended) for their slugger- Tatum is a utility infielder/pinch runner type who probably won't hit enough to win a regular starting job, Gao is a decent 4 or 5 starter, although he is struggling mightily since the deal, and I don't see Almonte making it in the majors.

-Cleveland Skidmarks and Pawtucket Patriots
-Cleveland gets: P Pete Rubel and P Vic Lee
-Pawtucket gets: LF Bret King, SS/3B Bosco Borders(AAA), P Albert Nation(AAA)

-Skinny: Wow. Cleveland found themselves in the thick of the race, so they made a deal to acquire pitching. Rubel is a decent pitcher, but I'm not sure he's a difference maker, a guy who can give you quality start after quality start and lead his team to the playoffs. Cleveland won't really feel the pain of this move until next year, when Rubel's salary goes over 17 million. Vic Lee helps to bolster the bullpen- he should be solid if not spectacular. For Pawtucket, simply unloading Rubel would accomplish a great deal. They also get King, a LF with a rare combination of power, speed, and a great eye at the plate. He should start at the ML level for years to come. Borders's future won't be at SS in the majors- he's not good enough defensively. He's got decent speed but litttle pop- all in all, he's good enough to have a role on an ML roster. Nation is an end-of-the-rotation type of guy whose best attribute may be his ability to go deep in games; his ability to get guys out is about average.

Park makes Major League debut

One of Trenton's highly-touted prospects, 3B/1B Enrique Park, made his first ML start one game after making his ML debut. Park's first ML at-bat was a pinch-hitting appearance, as he pinch-hit in the final game of the final game of the Norfolk series (for the record, he lined out to second for starting pitcher Vernon Coscarat in the 7th inning of the game- the Traffic went on to win in the 10th). The next night he started at 1B at Atlanta, going 0-2 with 2 walks in the Traffic's 7-6 win. Park was quoted as saying after the game, "I'm glad to be here with the big club. I know we're in the thick of a playoff race, and I just want to help out however I can." Trenton's manager said he has no plans to move Park to third base for now (due to the presence of Paxton Coleridge), but that could eventually be the plan.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

1st All-Star Game for The Bigs- having a blast

The 1st All-Star Game for the newly created world The Bigs ends in a dramatic 7-6 victory for the AL over a plucky NL team.
The scoring opened up in the 2nd inning, as the teams traded runs. Trenton's Artie Neugebauer hit a 2-run single with two out to give the NL a short-lived 2-0 lead. The AL answered back in the bottom of the inning as New York's Pete Duvall connected for a 2-run homer off of NL starting pitcher David Dunwoody of Salem- it was the first of two for Duvall. After an RBI groundout by Houston's Omar Cruz gave the NL a 3-2 lead, Duvall's 2nd shot came in the 4th to break a 3-3 tie, which was achieved on a solo shot from his teammate King Winn earlier in the inning. Monterrey's Moose Coleman's solo HR in the 5th was answered by Cincinnati's Paul Lamb in the 7th, taking us to 6-4.

The score held until an exciting 9th inning. Lousiville closer Justin Lawrence came in the game to close the deal, but with 2 out and a man on 1st, the last hope for the NL was Houston's superstar shortstop Lawrence Flanagan, who delivered in the clutch with a 2-run homerun to tie the game. But the All-Stars were not quite done playing home-run derby as Monterrey's Cody Lincoln sent the AL fans home happy with a walk-off homerun off of Cincinnati's Wily Mo Owens. Lincoln's dramatics earned him the MVP award for the game. The capacity crowd at McCoy stadium seemed to enjoy both the all-star experience and the amazing game.

Revisiting preseason picks at the halfway mark

Gumbercules NL predictions have turned out to be pretty accurate so far. Let’s see how he did in the American League.

AL East
gumbercules’ predictions:
1. I think it will come down to New York, Louisville, and Huntington, as Baltimore has too many question marks on the pitching staff. Huntington's defense might end up costing them some games, which I don't think they can afford to do. I'm not sure New York can keep up what they have been doing, so it looks like Louisville by process of elimination. By no means do I see a clear-cut favorite here.
2. The 2nd and 3rd place teams finish within 10 games of 1st. Not sure if that gets them a wild card.
3. If he stays in Huntington all year Bob Koplove will hit at least 60 home runs.

Well it’s definitely down to New York, Louisville and Huntington as Baltimore is playing for the number one pick in the amateur draft next year. New York leads Louisville by two games with Huntington just five back, so as of now prediction number two is right on as well. And with Bob Koplove’s 36 homeruns at the All-Star break it looks like gumber nailed it.

AL North
gumbercules’ predictions:

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.

It’s starting to look like gumber is the Miss Cleo of the AL. Milwaukee has a strangle hold on the division with a 9 game lead over Cleveland. The Skidmarks are in the playoff conversation at the moment with a 50-41 record while the Naughty Kitties are ahead of Pawtucket to round out the division. Pete Rubel’s massive contract was actually traded from Pawtucket to Cleveland, if you can imagine that. Don’t know if even Miss Cleo could have seen that coming.

AL South
gumbercules’ predictions:
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.

Monterrey leads this race by four games over Nashville though it doesn’t sound like gumber expected them to be as close to Monterrey as they are at the moment. Durham is currently the third place team but Texas isn’t far behind them in the battle for the basement. Miguel Gonzalez has not made the starting rotation for Nashville but he hasn’t exactly been lighting it up to earn that opportunity.

AL West
gumbercules’ predictions:

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.

We may be able to crown Vegas the AL West champions right now with the team’s 55-36 record and no other team at .500 in the division. Prediction number two is dead on to the point that if I elaborate I would basically be repeating the prediction. Ajax Drabek has enjoyed an excellent season and finds himself still in a Sleeper uni for the time being.

All-Star snubs

Every year there will be a few guys left off the All-Star team that appear to have the numbers to make the team. But of course, if you put these guys on the team then it means you'll have to take someone off. It's a good debate that in the end doesn't mean much but since no games are being played, let's have it.

Christopher Siddall, Fargo Dirtbags P: The fact that Siddall is a setup guy surely hurts his chances at an All-Star spot but when you've been as dominant in as many innings as Siddall has, I don't think you should be penalized because you don't have any saves (which by the way is a very overrated stat). Let's compare Siddall to his All-Star teammate, closer Bert Price. Siddall beats Price in IP (80.1 to 49.1), ERA (1.12 to 2.55), OAV (.171 to .176), WHIP (0.86 to 0.89), and K/9 (9.52 to 8.21). Now, which one looks more All-Star worthy to you? Also of note, Wily Mo Owens is an All-Star with a 4.70 ERA thanks to his 27 saves. Goes to show you how much saves are valued in selecting All-Stars.

Tyler Wilson, Fargo Dirtbags P: Despite having a lower WHIP, ERA, OAV, and SLG, to go with identical Ks as New Orleans' All-Star pitcher Jose Merced, Wilson is not an All-Star. Merced's 11-4 record compared to Wilson's 9-7 record appears to have helped him get the nod but if he's All-Star worthy then it's clear that Wilson is as well.

Jack Wilkerson, Cincinnati Dragons CF: Just so I understand this, the guy who leads the NL in AVG, OBP and OPS is not an All-Star, yet Carlos Cervantes is? Really? I know Carlos is a much better fielder but come on now, it's not like he's Andruw Jones out there. And their offensive numbers are not really close. Hard to believe there isn't room for Wilkerson on the All-Star squad.

Lyle Barber, New Orleans Voodoo 1B: This is a tough one because Thomas Keisler and Antonio Cone are certainly deserving All-Star selections. Barber's AVG, OBP, SLG and OPS is better than both Keisler's and Cone's but the two All-Stars make up for that a bit with their SB numbers. It seems Barber is a deserving All-Star, though if it means either Keisler or Cone would have to be taken off the team, that's a tough argument.

Burt Stevenson, Milwaukee Manic Maulers 1B: Stevenson has put up some All-Star worthy numbers since coming over to Milwaukee. Stevenson has higher OBP, SLG, OPS, more walks, and fewer strikeouts than All-Star first baseman Davey Barrios. His numbers also compare favorably to Anthony Benard, the other All-Star first baseman. Looks like he may have gotten the shaft here.

Ajax Drabek, Anaheim Sleepers P: Like Wilson, Drabek's All-Star resume is apparently missing a couple of wins, though 8 at the break isn't shabby. Drabek boasts a lower WHIP, ERA, OAV and OBP than All-Star pitcher Philip Allensworth. He's got fewer Ks and wins but he's also started four less games. If Allensworth is All-Star worthy, and he is, then Drabek should be as well.