Saturday, May 31, 2008

Who's Up, Who's Down

Welcome to what will (hopefully) be a new weekly installment here on the blog: Who's Up, Who's Down. The basic idea is to highlight a team (or two) from each league that's played well in the last week (3 weeks of WIS, so about 18-20 games) and a team or two that hasn't been playing well. Since we wrapped up interleague play this week, the first installment will concentrate on the best and worst of interleague play.

First of all, congratulations to the National League for winning the overall series 100-92. Broken down by division, the NL claims victory in the East (26-22) and in the West (29-21), and the AL won the battle in the South (27-21), with the NL North and AL North playing to a 24-24 tie.

Who were the champs and the chumps of interleague play? We'll start with the NL, where there was a tie for both the best and the worst interleague records.

Arizona Diamondbacks (10-2 in interleague play)

Key Series: 3 in a row against Las Vegas, Colorado Springs, and Vancouver. The Snakes rattled off 9 wins in a row, sweeping all 3 series.

Key Stat: SP Brandon Small pitched 16 innings in interleague action and gave up exactly 1 run.

Salt Lake City Shakers (10-2 in interleague play)

Key Series: Taking 2 out of 3 at Anaheim (41-35), one of the AL hottest teams.

Key Stat: CF Lynn Abernathy drove in 14 runs in the 12 games.

There were two teams that were as bad as the D-backs and Shakers were good.

New Orleans Voodoo (2-10 in interleague play)

Key Series: Getting swept by last-place Durham (29-47)

Key Stat: Scored 47 runs in 12 games for less than 4 runs a game and had more than 1/4 of those in one game (13-3 over Witchita- if you take out that game they averaged 3 runs a game).

Boise Buckskins (2-10 in interleague play)

Key Series: Tough choice: is it worse to get swept by Colorado Springs (30-46) or to lose 2 out of 3 to Vancouver (16-60)? I'll take losing 2 out of 3 to the worst team in all of baseball.

Key Stat: Gave up 20 runs (or 6.67 runs a game) to a Vancouver team that is scoring less than 3.2 runs a game for the season.

In the American League, there were fewer surprises, as the best team in baseball proved its dominance and the worst team in baseball demonstrated its ineptitude.

Monterrey Sultans (9-3 in interleague play)

Key Series: Sweeping 3 from New Orleans. Yes, New Orleans was tied for the worst interleague record, but the signifcance of that was it gave them a 5-game winning streak.

Key Stat: 11. As in 11 straight wins. Monterrey took that 5 game winning streak from interleague play and has continued their great play back into intraleague action, sweeping 4 in a row from the West-leading Chiles and taking the first 2 from a decent Kansas City team. They once again look like the best team in baseball.

Vancouver Fighting Moose (3-9 in interleague play)

Key Series: Losing 2 out of 3 to the Salt Lake City Shakers to start interleague play. Granted, Salt Lake City is much improved over last year, but they had Salem and Arizona to close interleague action. If they wanted to have any hope of playing well in interleague, they needed to play well against the Shakers. Taking more than 1 would have been a lot to ask from a team that wins at a .208 clip, however.

Key Stats: 29, 10,and 11. The 29 represents how many runs they were outscored by in interleague play (74-45), which amounts to about 2 1/2 runs every game. The 10 represents their total offense against Salem and Arizona (I know, tough tasks, but 1.7 runs per game?). The 11 represents their current losing streak, which started by losing the last 2 to Salem and then getting swept at Arizona. Their losing streak closely mirrors Monterrey's winning streak.

Season 2 – 1st Round Draft overview

Prologue: (To the left is one MY scouts missed! Idiots!!!)

This year’s draft was unusual in several ways:

Firstly, it’s lack of what one might call a Stud Ace Starting Pitcher. There a few SPs taken in the first round the have a shot at being the Ace of a rotation. But none are what you’d call a “can’t miss” type. You know, the future Cy Young winner. I didn’t see any.
Secondly, it’s depth at the catcher position. 5 future star catchers taken within the first 64 picks. These 5, all have the potential to be solid signal callers and an be solid asset at the dish. Rarely have I seen more than 1 (if any) in a draft; let alone the two I saw and the three I didn’t.
Thirdly, it’s depth at the Closer spot. While not totally unusual to see a number of solid closer types in a draft, it’s not the norm. Three potential Major League closers were picked in the first round.

Here is my wrap up of the first 32 picks AND a little supplement looking at the catchers taken in the first couple of rounds. Note, at the time I wrote a particular report on a player he may not have been signed but has since been locked up by his drafting team (it took a few nights to write this up & things change).

1) K.C. Comets (AL)
Turner Dolan – CF. (unsigned) Value: 9.5/10 (4 seasons from ML)
In Turner (if signed) the Comets will have themselves a potential solid all-around CF. His defensive potential is solid, even could content for a Gold Glove or two. He should be a .320+ hitter, with 20+ HR and 30+ SBs. A downside (this is being picky) Arm Strength is below what you want ML CF; that’s why this one isn’t a 10/10. Other than that… a great first overall pick goes to the Comets.

2) Salt Lake City Shakers (NL)
Jordan Newfield – SS (signed) Value: 9.5/10 (3 Seasons from ML)
Well the Shakers got a real solid SS in Jordan. He should be .300 hitter and should hit 30-40 long flies once he hits his potential. Only two small knocks here, Batting Eye and Range (you’d like 80+ as SS); still again in overall scheme… neither are big deals with this kids other potential ratings. I think teams in the NL are going be sorry Jordan is in Salt Lake.

3) Chicago Cubs (NL)
Neifi McBride – SS. (unsigned) Value: 9.5/10 (3 Seasons from ML)
Neifi and Jordan were definitely the 2 best Shortstops available in the draft (though Hamill & Cook are nothing to sneeze at for sure). McBride is the slightly better fielder of the two and is slightly less the hitter but…realistically that’s splitting hairs. Once signed, the Cubs will have a possible Gold Glove SS for the future. A word caution with Neifi, even though his overall rating is 70+, start him no higher than A Ball. Cubs should give this kid time to develop into the player he should be, otherwise….. A look into the crystal ball sees Neifi & Jordan both playing SS for NL All Star team.

4) Toledo Mud Hens (AL)
Lonny Hernandez – L SP (signed) Value: 7.5/10 (4 Seasons from ML)
The only pitcher taken in the top 5, unusual!!! Lonny should make a solid 3-4 Starter if he makes his potential. Why not 1-2? Simple, pitches #3 & #4 – too low for that (both well under 50!). Having said that, #1 & #2 pitches have excellent potential. Lonny should make a solid pitcher in the Mud Hens rotation a few seasons down the road. Though with the 4th overall and 1st pitcher taken, you’d kind of expect a can’t miss Ace; Lonny will be good but not that good.

5) Atlanta Bandits (NL)
Stan Starr – RF (signed) Value 8.0/10 (3 Seasons from ML)
At first glance was ready to give a 10… which would’ve killed me considering the Bandits are in MY DIVISION! This Stan guy will HIT, not a doubt about that at all. He could put up MVP #s!!! Scared am I, Nervous am I………YEP!! The ONLY thing with Mr. Starr is his Health rating. To say it’s marginal is kind. IF Atlanta can get this guy to his potential, meaning avoiding major injury, AND can keep him from serious injury once he makes it to the majors…. MVP!

6) Wichita Cornjerkers (AL)
Thurman Allen – CF (signed) Value 8.5/10 (4 Seasons from ML)
This one could be a good all around CF for Wichita. Thurman will hit for power and average, also will be an asset in the field (even though his arm is erratic). His health is marginal though, but not as bad as the Bandit’s pick…still its question mark on an otherwise solid prospect. Hopefully, for the Cornjerkers, he can avoid injury and becomes a contributor at the ML level.

7) Colorado Spring Chickens (AL)
Ryan Hamill – SS (signed) Value 9/10 (3 Seasons from ML)
The third SS taken in the draft (3 out of the first 7!!). While Ryan isn’t quite on the level with Newfield or McBride, he’s definitely a solid pick. Steady (if not spectacular) D and a good bat with some definite pop in it, is what he’ll bring. He could be a .290 - .300 hitter with 40 bombs a year – nothing wrong with that in the least. No not MVP #s and maybe not a Gold Glover; still, I don’t know an owner that wouldn’t take him.

8) Vancouver Fighting Moose (AL)
Paul Schwartz – L RP (signed) Value 9.5/10 (3-4 Seasons from ML)
The second pitcher taken in the draft isn’t an Ace Starter, hmmmm... BUT he’s got the potential to be a “Lights Out” closer. One of the three that were taken in the first round. Finding a solid closer is one of the holy grails of HBD. Is Schwartz IT? Time will tell, but I’d say he’s got a REALLY good chance to be IT.

9) Ottawa Naughty Kitties (AL)
Yogi Anderson – R SP (signed) Value 8.0/10 (4 Seasons from ML) Yogi: It's all there but something's missing
Third pitcher taken in the draft and still no Ace (they all must be near the bottom of the deck?). Don’t get me wrong Yogi should become a solid starting pitcher in The Bigs. He’ll have great control and solid splits. Also he’ll be a ground ball pitcher with great velocity. But can this velocity over come the absence of an “out” pitch - maybe. Still, he should be of value to the Bad Cats when ready for The Bigs.

10) Boise Buckskins (NL)
Jesus Amezaga – L SP (signed) Value 8.0/10 (4 Seasons from ML)
Could this be the ACE??? Time will tell, though I’ve got my doubts – but I’ve been wrong. The biggest concern again is the drop off after the #1 pitch. #2 to #4 are okay but not quite what you’d expect for a #1 or #2 starter. Jesus will give the team a lot of quality innings of work from the mound. Again, there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with that. Still there is a chance, he could make ML ACE Starter status… time will tell.

11) Anaheim Chiles (AL)
Pedro Candelaria – 2B (signed) Value 8.0/10 (4 Season from ML)
The first second baseman taken in the draft ain’t really a second baseman. His Arm accuracy is far too low for a MIF (arm strength is marginal as well). So, he’s a corner outfielder... with a good bat that has respectable pop in it. Pedro has the potential to be a permanent fixture in the Chiles line-up (great durability); who will should hit close (if not over) .300 with 30+ jacks – that ain’t even ½ bad!!!

12) Philadelphia Blue Jays (NL)
Willis Biddle – 2B (signed) Value 9.0/10 (4 Seasons from ML)
Now this is a ML second baseman in the making. Mr. Biddle will play a steady 2B; but his bat will not be as steady. Cause it will be GREAT, this Montana boy can swing the lumber. He’ll hit for both average AND power. The only minor drawback is his weakness against righties (the majority of pitchers). Still, he’ll put up the #s at the dish.

13) Durham Entombed Spiders (AL)
Garry Wright R RP (unsigned) Value 7.5/10 (3-4 Seasons from ML)
The second potential closer taken in the 1st round. Garry could (if signed) have what it takes to be “turn out the lights the party is over” closer! He should have great durability (run him out there every time he’s needed) and he’ll have the stamina to pitch the entire 9th. Drawback (you knew it was coming) is he’s a fly ball pitcher and in my experience, that can (and will) really hurt; especially in a hitter’s park like Durham has. If in a Pitcher’s park, his value would be much higher!

14) San Juan Dead Bunnies (NL)
Spike Moran L SP (signed) Value 8.0/10 (4+ Seasons from ML)
Well….. close but…. not quite… the ACE. His splits will not quite be there.
But, Spike should make a good & steady 2-3 starter. The Stiff Hares will have to be patient with this prospect, but I think that patience will be well rewarded when this kid is finally ready for the show. Maybe not Cy Young material, but should make a fine addition to their rotation when ready.

15) Memphis Short Grass (NL)
Sam Brumfield C (signed) Value 10/10 (4 Seasons from ML)
Here is the BEST of a deep crop of solid all around catchers that were available in this draft (see rest in the supplement). Sam should become perennial ALL STAR. He’s got the potential to hit for a good average (.280s maybe better) and with decent power. ALSO, he will have a solid arm and pitch calling ability (70+). But what puts this guy over the top…his durability AND health, two areas catchers are usually a little weak. Sam could play over 150 games a season! That is unheard of in HBD. So IMO, while the first 3 picks are great, this is the pick of the draft. Oh …. you want a drawback; OK… he has slightly below average speed on the bases for a catcher! YEA RIGHT, AS IF THAT REALLY MATTERS.

16) Huntington Beachcombers (AL)
Victor Sierra R SP (signed) Value 9/10 (4+ Seasons from ML)
Finally, a real potential ACE in the draft??? Victor should develop decent splits, good selection of quality pitches, throws hard etc; basically the things an ace of the rotation should have. Though with that said, his potential control is marginal for ML a starter. So, is Victor a potential ACE…. I think so if only barely due to the control issue. Either way, he’s a great pick for the 16th spot in the draft.

17) Arizona Diamondbacks (NL)
Jim Clyburn L RP (signed) Value 9.5/10 (4+ Seasons from ML)
Jim is the third potential closer taken in the 1st round. While a little unusual to see this many top quality potential closers in a draft, not really all that rare. And yep Jim has the potential to be a shutdown guy, no doubt about that in the least. Now, it may take him a while to get there but once ready, the D-Backs will have themselves an All Star closer on their hands.

18) Fargo Dirtbags (NL)
Dwayne Malloy R SP (unsigned) Value 6.5/10 (4+ Seasons from ML)
If the Dirtbags can sign Dwayne, they’ll have a solid potential ML pitcher. Just what kind is a question. While, he should develop great splits, good control etc; but he has only 3 pitches and one is well below average in potential. The other two are average at best for ML starter (as his #2 & #3 pitches) but he doesn’t have a “go to” pitch. I see bullpen in the future here, both long & short are definite possibilities here. Unless it’s a closer, I don’t feel bullpen material is worthy of a 1st rounder.

19) Norfolk Destroyers (NL)
Bobby Davenport R SP (signed) Value 9.0/10 (4+ Seasons from ML)
Well my pick…personally I couldn’t believe I got him picking 19th… he should’ve gone higher. Bobby is a pretty good ACE prospect but again I wouldn’t say he’s of the “can’t miss" variety. The potential is all there – excellent control, good splits, two great pitches (and 2 are about average)….. So a drawback, his stamina could be better; but it’s ok for a starter. This kid is a project, but the reward at the end could be a solid #1 starter.

20) Cleveland Skidmarks (AL)
Albert Cook SS (unsigned) Value 8.5/10 (3 Seasons from ML)
Again IF signed, Albert could become a potential Gold Glove Shortstop for the Skidmarks. He’ll hit for a decent average and decent power but nothing that will set the world on fire though (.260s - .270s with 30 HRs). Reason – his contact and batting eye are marginal (not to mention his R split is marginal too). Even so, he’s a solid future starting ML SS for the Cleveland franchise.

21) Cincinnati Dragons (NL)
Tomas Sierra R RP? (unsigned) Value 6.0/10 (4+ Seasons from ML)
Here is a pick that…. well frankly put, ain’t 1st rnd material IMO. He definitely will not be a starter (Stamina is below starter level & only 2 good pitches). Possible Long Relief, but I think he’ll be most useful in a set up role. He’s got the tools for that, if you keep his pitch count to a “set up” pitcher level. I don’t see him as a closer. So a setup guy in the first round? I’m not saying he will not be a ML pitcher, I think he can be; but a first round pick… nope.

22) New Orleans Voodoo (NL)
Bryan Christiansen LF (unsigned) Value 7.0/10 (3 Seasons from ML)
This is a pick I’d like to follow (if signed) and see what kind of hitter he becomes. Bryan’s defensive abilities will be the proto-typical COF. He’ll have great contact rating, hit for power and has an above average eye. BUT his splits will be well below the average. So can a guy with splits this low hit ML pitching?? I don’t know to tell the truth, so it will be interesting to see. MY guess…. A Fred McGriff type hitter – Feast or Famine. Though, his speed and base running ability might make him a candidate for the 40/40 club. Either way, I’m curious to see if he can be ML hitter.

23) New York new york (AL)
Warren Pagnozzi ? P (unsigned) Value ??/10 (? Seasons from ML)
My scouts didn’t see this kid and he’s not signed, so I’ve got the info from itomcny (New York’s owner). From what he told me, this one could’ve been the potential Cy Young winner of the future…Potential per owner: Stamina 87, Control 99, Splits 51/55, Vel 100, GB/FB 79, Pitches – 100, 74, 63, 23 & 47. That’s some serious potential. Apparently this “brat” has decided to go back to college – rejecting 6 Million he was offered!!! My thought… kidnap the jerk and brainwash him “College Bad…. Baseball Good”; then force him to sign a 10 year contract for 3,270,000 (327,000 per year) and NO BONUS!

24) Houston Riverdogs (AL)
Alex Suarez CF (signed) Value 7.0/10 (5 Seasons from ML)
This prospect is without a doubt a long term project. What’s at the end of the development? Well, he’ll not be infield material – Arm too erratic; so that puts him in the OF. He’s not quite a CF, though he’s close. His offensive ratings for the most part look really good – Power, Eye, Contact BUT his R split is low. Still, I think he’ll make a fine addition to the Riverdogs line-up when ready.

25) Salem Sacrifices (NL)
Mark Bong R SP (signed) Value 8.0/10 (4 Seasons from ML)
This here is a solid (if not spectacular) pick for Salem. Like some of the other starters taken in this round, he ain’t going to be an ACE (his #1 pitch just ain’t enough). He should be a good #3 man in the rotation. Decent splits, solid control, he’ll have good velocity etc. These ratings all say a steady ML Starter to me.

26) Nashville Sounds (AL)
George Lowe CF (signed) Value 8.5/10 (5 Seasons from ML)
Mr. Lowe is another one of these long term projects. Nashville will have to work to get this kid to his potential. If they do… they’ll have a really good CFer for the leadoff spot in the lineup! He’s going to have great speed & base running ability; couple that with hitting ratings that say .320+ with a little pop there. George should become what you want in a lead off hitter. His OBP should be among the league’s best. This is a great pick for the 26th overall!

27) Toronto Toros (NL)
Willis Casey R SP (signed) Value 7.5/10 (4 Seasons from ML)
This guy looks like a Lonny Hernandez (taken 4th) clone. He’s got the identical thing with his pitch ratings – 2 great ones & the next 2 are well below average. Good Stamina, OK control, decent split, etc. Like Lonny, Willis should make a fine addition to Toronto’s rotation, just not at the top of it.

28) Trenton Traffic (NL)
Vasco Lopez C (signed) Value 8.5/10 (4 Seasons from ML)
Well, here is the second of the great crop of catchers taken in this draft. He’ll have great PC rating and will definitely hit. The one thing that hurts his overall value is his arm, it’s just marginal for the catching position. His ability to handle the pitching staff and handle the bat makes him a great future asset.

29) Las Vegas Gamblers (AL)
Jay Hegan SS (signed) Value 8.5/10 (4+ Seasons from ML)
Once he makes it to the majors, will Jay win the Gold Glove at SS or a Batting Crown? Most likely No; but there can only be one GG & one Batting Champ each year. What Jay will be, is a steady everyday SS for the Gamblers when the day comes. He’ll hit for a respectable average and hit some long balls; also he’ll be a steady defensive SS. I’d have NO COMPLAINTS with any of that. This is a good late 1st round pick for Sin City.

30) Milwaukee Manic Maulers (AL)
Benny McDonald SS (signed) Value 6.5/10 (5 Seasons from the ML)
Benny is not shortstop material, glove just wouldn’t cut it at the ML level. Even 2b is marginal, though his range could make up for it; 3B however is a possibility for sure. Though his bat isn’t quite what you’d want there. Sure he’ll have decent power but his splits are “average”, eye is only slightly above “average” and his contact rating is below “average”. I may be wrong on this one but I see him as future bench material, ML for sure but a utility guy.

31) Louisville Legends (AL)
Red Rose SS (signed) Value 6.5/10 (5 Seasons from the ML)
With this one, I’d be repeating what I said with Benny above. Though Red should be a better overall defensive player than Benny; his bat will not be as good. He’ll develop decent splits and OK power; what hurts is his contact will be average at best and his eye will be well below that average mark. Again, I see ML Utility material here. I didn’t say this above; bench guys aren’t quite what you’re looking for with your 1st round pick.

32) Louisville Legends (AL)
Dennis Knorr L SP (signed) Value 8.5/10 (4 Seasons from the ML)
The Legends are the only team with 2 first round picks (past pick 32 are supplemental, not really 1st rnd) and they get them back to back. This pick is a far better one IMO. Dennis will definitely be ML starter material; possible ACE of the rotation. I say possible, because I’ve found 3 pitch starters to be a little inconsistent in performance. I’ve no idea why, just seems to be that way. Maybe Dennis bucks that trend, either way he’ll make for a good starter at the ML level some day.

As I mentioned in the prologue this draft was unusually deep in the catcher position. Here is a look at the other catchers taken in the first couple of rounds (incl. supplemental picks) of this draft

37) Louisville Legends (AL)
Steven O’Malley Value 8.5/10
Steven is about on par with Trenton’s Lopez. While his PC rating will not be as good; I think he’ll be the better hitter. His arm is only slightly better than Lopez’s. Overall, I’d say it’s a wash between them. O’Malley is going to be a great ML catcher when the time comes.

56) Anaheim Chiles (AL)
Frank Martin Value 9.0/10
This is the other one I saw and he was rated one notch above the guy I drafted. Frank has all the potential tools to be a ML All-Star at the Catching Position. Good PC rating, great arm for a catcher, and he’ll definitely light up some pitchers when he’s at the dish. Frank is major project however (why he’s not a 9.5); it’s going to take time for him to get there.

57) Philadelphia Blue Jays (NL)
Juan Park Value 7.0/10
Two catchers picked in a row this early in the draft, is rare in deed. But really Juan isn’t a Catcher, in my term he’s a “Pseudo Catcher”. While having a pretty good arm for catcher; his PC rating is far too low to have him behind the plate. His potential hitting ratings are really overall are just average for a P-Catcher. Only average power, a great eye and decent splits; but his contact rating is just above average. Juan should become a decent 1b or DH, just not quite All Star material at either of those positions.

64) Norfolk Destroyers (NL)
Butch Bush 9.0/10
The final catcher taken in 1st two rounds (6th catcher overall) is the one I took. Butch has tremendous potential: Slightly above average glove for catcher, fantastic arm, great PC and should he have a decent batting average with solid power #s. Butch has 2 major drawbacks though: minor being his R Split is low and major being that he’s going to take a LONG time to get to his potential; which could mean he doesn’t. Still, with this kind of potential, hopefully like Anaheim’s Frank Martin he’s worth the wait.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Minor League League Leaders at the half way point


ERA - Jamie Gragg New York new york (2.31)

Charlie Bailey Durham Entombed Spiders (.219)

SO - Billy Spencer Cleveland Skidmarks (107)

Wins -
Footsie Lewis Boise Buckskins, Hi Nolan Cleveland Skidmarks, Jose Infante Huntington Beachcombers (10)

CG -
Abraham Robinson Cleveland Skidmarks (6)

Whitey Ross Chicago Cubs, Steve Clay Cleveland Skidmarks (2)

AVG - Steve Sweeney San Juan Dead Bunnies (.386)

HR -
Don Walsh Chicago Cubs, Anthony Page Toronto Toros (35)

3B -
James Watson Durham Entombed Spiders (9)

2B -
Kevin Cheung Houston Riverdogs (45)

Hits -
Steve Sweeney San Juan Dead Bunnies (114)

Don Walsh Chicago Cubs (110)

Walks -
Allie Service Huntington Beachcombers (64)

SB -
Billy Miller Kansas City Comets (55)

Fielding -
Diego Rivera Arizona Diamondbacks (8+ plays) (.988)


ERA - Ben Newson Colorado Springs Chickens (1.72)

Ben Newson Colorado Springs Chickens (.202)

SO - Shaggy Anderson Kansas City Comets (103)

Wins -
Jackie Hart San Juan Dead Bunnies, Chris Langston Toledo Mud Hens (10)

CG -
Craig Stevenson Kansas City Comets, Chris Lowry New York new york, Charlie White San Juan Dead Bunnies (5)

Chris Lowry New York new york, Charlie White San Juan Dead Bunnies (2)

AVG - Joel Carson Fargo Dirtbags (.376)

HR -
Joel Carson Fargo Dirtbags (36)

3B -
Tomas Cruz Norfolk Destroyers (7)

2B -
Mateo Santayana San Juan Dead Bunnies (34)

Hits -
Luke Beimel Fargo Dirtbags (116)

Joel Carson Fargo Dirtbags (103)

Walks -
Max Sosa Boise Buckskins (57)

SB -
Matt Davies Kansas City Comets (60)

Fielding - Davey Jimenez Vancouver Fighting Moose (7+ plays) (1.000)

High A

ERA - Lonny Gates Houston Riverdogs (2.22)

Miguel Guerrero Anaheim Chiles (.202)

SO - Sam Lesher Salt Lake City Shakers (115)

Wins -
Enrique Gutierrez Fargo Dirtbags (10)

CG -
John Gibson Chicago Cubs (7)

Craig Hill Norfolk Destroyers (2)

AVG - Ugueth Montanez Toledo Mud Hens (.393)

HR -
Darrell Brownson Louisville Legends (29)

3B -
John Murata Vancouver Fighting Moose (7)

2B -
Rico Johnson New York new york (34)

Hits -
Ugueth Montanez Toledo Mud Hens (121)

Randy Baptist Boise Buckskins (84)

Walks -
Darrell Brownson Louisville Legends (54)

SB -
Ugueth Montanez Toledo Mud Hens, Marvin Stairs Toledo Mud Hens (46)

Fielding - Randy Baptist Boise Buckskins (5+ plays) (.998)

Low A

ERA - Miguel Reyes Vancouver Fighting Moose (2.53)

Blake Payton Durham Entombed Spiders (.194)

SO - Tanyon Christensen Memphis Short Grass (117)

Wins -
Andy Merrick New Orleans Voodoo (12)

CG -
Norman Latham Fargo Dirtbags (5)

Norman Latham Fargo Dirtbags, Sherm Webb Huntington Beachcombers, Erik Dorsey Wichita Cornjerkers (2)

AVG - Jose Guzman New Orleans Voodoo (.404)

HR -
Ariel Marichal Chicago Cubs (25)

3B -
Felipe Seguignol Durham Entombed Spiders, Devon Gonzales Ottawa Naughty Kitties, Billy Morris Ottawa Naughty Kitties, Tony Cruz Wichita Cornjerkers, Brant Belle Wichita Cornjerkers (6)

2B -
Amp Palmer Louisville Legends, Brant Belle Wichita Cornjerkers (37)

Hits -
Raymond Van Pelt Chicago Cubs (111)

Ariel Marichal Chicago Cubs (88)

Walks -
Gary Neal Wichita Cornjerkers (51)

SB -
Felipe Seguignol Durham Entombed Spiders (55)

Fielding - Jim Stockton Philadelphia Blue Jays (4+ plays) (.971)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Moose Sharpening Their Antlers

Vancouver - Another team that decided to rebuild after the wheels fell off early last year. With the IFA signing of Quilvio Sanchez and drafting Paul Schwartz, you can quickly understand the mindset of GM bossmao. Shore up those most needed positions first for the future with the best possible talent you can get your hands on. But the road map projected will be a slow and tedious one, as these young stars will take two years or more to develop. Even the young pitching depth in the minors are at least a year or two away of making any impact at the ML level. However, when they do, this division will be one of the toughest in the league.

Colorado Chickens have lost their Spring

Colorado - The Chickens last year decided the only solution was to rebuild. A daunting task that takes 2 to 4 years to accomplish. GM wgs has mapped out the road to recovery and is accomplishing just that feat. He could build a minor league all-star team with the talent available, and picking up 2 or 3 more during the draft didn't hurt his cause. Signing of IFA Alex Suh shows that defense as well as hitting and pitching is being addressed. Ryan Hamill getting some on-the-job training could go a long way in securing the SS position next year, although a surprise to this reporter. Look for the Chickens to be ready in season 4 as those minor league stars need to develop.

Chiles are Hot Hot Hot

Anaheim - The Chiles are the hottest team in the AL West boasting one of the top offenses in the league. With the play and hitting of rookie sensation (and probable ROY winner, I would vote for him at the moment), James Dixon, there seems to be no stopping the Chiles. The biggest problem with the Chiles is pitching, as Kenny Holmes and Alberto Leon are not holding their own in the starting rotation and the pen is having trouble holding leads. The worst stat from this pitching staff is their penchant for giving up the long ball. Does this reporter see a trade coming soon as the need for pitching may become critical? Another problem that may arise is a what if scenario behind the dish. Will they go with their backup (catcher?) or immediately make a call to AAA? Just some things that make a mind boggle, especially that of GM drvmu1.

Gambling problems, Big League Stats, Little League Numbers

Las Vegas - So what has gone wrong with the Gamblers this season? They have one of the most capable feared hitting attacks in the league. Until starting pitcher, Louie Martin went on the DL, had the best starting rotations also and all still have winning records except Billy Nation who was called up to temporarily replace Martin. The big problem is the bull pen. Thompson, who was last years FOY, suddenly couldn't comfortably save a game if his life depended on it and has been replaced by new comer Coco Hines who has excelled in the closer role. Other than the Rule V pickups, the pen is lucky to get an out in relief. Hitting in all reality has been sporadic as well. Denny Moss going on the DL really didn't hurt the team as his numbers have been nothing to write home about after his ROY season last year. With a lack of left handed hitters, the reason for signing Huff in the off season, things could get tougher. Speaking of Huff, he is now floundering in AAA and the coaching staffs have no answer. Other than Gabe Hynes, who the Big Club doesn't like his defense much, there are no minor league position players answering the call. Pitching wise, in the minors, a couple possible future stars show possibilities, but nothing the ML roster could use at the moment. Do you try to trade for a player or two? If so, who to give up? It looks like a stalemate as this GM seems content to ride it out, well, that is the best choice for now.

Moose bull-up with IFA signing

Vancouver - The Fighting Moose made a move that surprised everyone this AM by signing little known Quilvio Sanchez to a huge ML contract. Looks like the Moose plan on putting him on the RL roster for the remainder of the season before settling into his ML closer role.
Quilvio will be a force in the closer role with his accuracy of two off speed unhittable tricked-out pitches. Looks like he could be a hefty Moose for years to come!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Recent Trades

We're less than halfway through the season but the trading season never really stops in HD. Teams in contention are still trying to get the pieces they need to put them over the top while rebuilding teams are hoping to get talent for the future. To that end, several major trades have gone down in the last few weeks.

Chicago Cubs and Vancouver Fighting Moose

Cubs get: RP Dave Stewart
Fighting Moose get: RP Ken Baez

Analysis: Stewart is a legitimate closer- he's 37 out of 40 lifetime save opportunities. He's an important piece as the Cubs try (now without ace Stephen Tucker) to make the playoffs as he can either set up for rookie closer Graham Rivera or take over for him if Rivera falters. On Vancouver's end, they trade a closer now for a potential closer of the future. Baez is a 21-year-old hard-throwing righty who at the very least is a ML setup guy and maybe could close. Since Tucker was healthy at the time of this trade and the Cubs were very much in contention, it's hard to fault this deal from either side.

Houston Riverdogs and Las Vegas Gamblers

Riverdogs get: 1B Ricardo Moreno
Gamblers get: RP Pascual Rojas (AA), RP Babe Vaughn (AA)

Analysis: Houston felt they needed a true 1B and got one. Moreno shouldn't be in the class of Lyle Barber or Burt Stevenson at the plate, but he should be fairly solid and no easy out. He also adds a left-handed bat to a lineup that, especially toward the top, is very right-handed. Rojas and Vaughn are both decent arms and could contribute on the ML level someday, although there isn't much certainty for either of them.

Chicago Cubs and Monterrey Sultans

Cubs get: CF Dewayne Castillo
Sultans get: RP Ted Reese

Analysis: This is a case of two teams each having a specific need and getting it. The Cubs needed an all-around CF and Castillo fits the bill- he played a large role in getting the Sultans to the World Series last season. Reese is a very good reliever who is dominant against lefties but can get right-handers out as well. He's setting up but could end up being the Sultans answer to the closer question they've had since the beginning of the season.

Monterrey Sultans and Trenton Traffic

Sultants get: SS Torey Diaz
Traffic get: CIF/COF Duffy Brewington (Hi A), RP Shep Richard (AA), RP Dwight Roberts (AAA)

Analysis: It isn't often that you see a first-place team trade a ML player for prospects, but Diaz wasn't hitting as well as Trenton had expected. He's hit well in his first week in Mexico, however, and even if he reverts back to how he it in Trenton and Chicago, he still provides a very good defender at the shortstop position. Monterrey still has lots of offense to cover Diaz and defensive ace C Bum Casey. Trenton gets Brewington, a player with good pop in his bat and can also run. Richard and Roberts are unspectacular but could be solid for the bullpen in time.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Major injury possibly changing the NL landscape?

The much improved Cubs suffered a season-ending injury to their most indispensible player (and only one day after I named my all-injury team). SP Stephen Tucker is out for 7-8 months after a major elbow injury that will require surgery. Tucker was 9-4 with an ERA of 1.92 in his 13 starts and was an early Cy Young candidate for the contending Cubs. Chicago fans are beginning to wonder if their real-life counterparts are imparting the curse across the boundaries to this fantasy league.

Friday, May 23, 2008

All-injured team

We're about 1/3 of the way through the season and the chat board is already filled with owners complaining about injuries. Quite a few big names have been bit by the injury bug, so here's an "all-star" team currently on the DL (all times given are WIS time, not real-life time):

C: Ricky Beech, Durham. Mostly a DH, he did catch 42 games for the Entombed Spiders this season- good enough for me. He hit 40 home runs for the Spiders last season, and had already 8 before a rib cage strain kept him out for two weeks. He should be fine and ready to return to the lineup next week.

1B: Burt Stevenson, Milwaukee. A bonafide star in this league, hit 42 HRs and drove in 115 runs while hitting .313 for the AL North winning Manic Maulers. Was on pace for similar numbers before tearing the miniscus in his knee, he's about halfway through his expected month absence.

2B: Bernard Young, Louisville. The 33-year-old had a monster year for the Legends last season, hitting 48 HRs and driving in 138 while hitting .308. Was hitting well despite not driving in runs (.320, 5 HRs, 6 RBIs) before a sore shoulder kept him out for the last month and is still about 3 weeks away from being healthy.

SS: Dewey Greenwood, Toronto. Great things were expected of this highly-touted prospect for season 2. A bulging disk has kept him out since spring training and is still at least a week away from making his season debut for the Toros.

3B: Greg Whitaker, Kansas City. Whitaker drove in 100 runs for Baltimore last season, which speaks volumes. An all-or-nothing type hitter, he's been out since spring training with a herniated disk in his neck and will miss about another 1/3 of the season. He should be back for the last 40-50 games barring any setbacks in his rehab.

LF: Denny Moss, Las Vegas. Arguably the best all-around hitter in both leagues, Moss had an MVP-type season (.315-61-152) for the Gamblers last season. The boys from Vegas were struggling even before Moss went down with back spasms. He's been out for a week and he'll be out for one more.

CF: Orlando Diaz, Toronto. Another young player the Toros were counting on for this season, as he scored 96 runs in 115 games in AAA last season. Played 5 games and landed on the DL, he'll be out another 3 months with nerve irritation in his arm. The Toros are hoping to have him back for the final 20-30 games or so.

RF: Marc Olson, Salt Lake City. I know, I know, he's a second baseman by trade. But he's eligible to play RF and I already have Young playing second, so I'm bending the rules a little. Olson drove in 106 for the Dodgers last season, and the Shakers were counting on him to help Abernathy revive the offense after moving to Salt Lake City. However, he tore his hamstring after 30 games and is out for the year.

DH: Yank Lohse, Boise. Why a DH? Because I can. Lohse drove in 88 last season while stealing 51 bases. Was on pace for similar numbers and was hitting better than last season before a bulging disk (sound familiar?) put him on the DL after just 19 games. He's got another 2 months before he'll be cleared to play.

SP: Claude Jacquez, Memphis. He was 13-9 last season with an ERA just over 4 and over 200 innings. He was going to be relied on to be a big part of the rotation this season, but instead he's out for the year after blowing out his elbow in spring training. Memphis is leading their division in spite of this, albeit below .500.

SP: Rod Walters, Norfolk. After going 14-12 but with a very good 3.66 ERA in his rookie season, the Destroyers were hoping he'd progress and help Norfolk make the postseason. The 23-year-old also went down in spring training and may be back to make a few starts at the end of the season.

SP: Fred Carter, Atlanta. He's yet to prove himself on the ML level, but huge things are expected from Carter. He won 22 games in AAA last season and was rated #4 on ACEROTHSTEIN's Top 100 Prospect list both seasons of the league's existence. He was 1-1 with a 2.80 ERA this season in the ML before a (what else?) bulging disk in his back knocked him out. He'll be out 3 months, which could be costly to Atlanta's playoff hopes.

SP: Louie Martin, Las Vegas. Like Walters, he didn't have a great record (10-14) last season, but his ERA (3.96) would seem to indicate that he pitched better than 10-14. He had a 3.23 ERA shuffling between starting and relieving. He'll be out around 3 more weeks with an elbow sprain, and Las Vegas should consider themselves lucky as they have a pitcher whose elbow injury isn't keeping him out all year. However, without Martin and Moss they have to at least tread water if they hope to catch the surprising Anaheim Chiles.

RP: Juan Mendoza, Las Vegas. Not as big a loss as Moss or Martin, but he's still a hard-throwing young lefty out of the pen. He has great AAA numbers but scouts are still divided as to whether his skills will translate to the majors. At any rate, he'll have to wait another 6 weeks before his tendonitis heals.

Rumor Mill

There is a rumor that an unidentified Manager is actively seeking to trade left handed AAA starters for right handed AAA or AA starters. Something may come of this in a few days time. More than likely after the Draft.

Also possibly in the works is a big trade of big bats in the NL.

And the big news is that mfoster has bought Stephen Tucker his own strip club on the South Side. Such incentives, can I play for Chicago? Hopefully this won't distract him the latter part of the season.

Gregg Black says the recent rule changes will not stop him from being the Triple Crown winner or deny him stealing 30 bases.

Aginor is really upset about the rule changes that he is trying to move second base 10 feet closer to first base.

Cantarski was crying in his beer after learning his man crush (
Fred Carter) was lying in traction in a hospital bed with Jessica Alba holding his...well you get the picture...ooh we wish. Or was it the childhood memories of his bike being run over by the trash truck, guess we will never know for sure.

Kj is opening his purse strings in hopes of buying the NL championship

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Gambler Draft Board

Gee, I am drafting 29th. I have drafted 29th a few weeks back and got 5 of my top 25 picks. The team I drafted, I figured would finish dead last in the Rookie League, but apparently I am wrong. They are not the best but only one game out of first after 30 games. Anyway, who cares about that, back to local. Looks like that I should be guaranteed three 70 rated and above players, as there are 69 of these. But looks are very deceiving at first glance. After rearranging and finding the players that fit my draft mold left only 29 players rated above 70 in the top 50. My chances of getting maybe 2 are good. I think some of the upper 60 players are better also. So here is a look of what my draft board looked like and what I did with the top 15 players listed and my thoughts.

1 Jordan Newfield, SS 91 estimated - 1st to 5th
Neifi McBride, SS 90 estimated - 1st to 5th
To me it is a toss up as to which SS is the best both are good, my chances of getting one..ha ha
3 Yogi Anderson, P 88 estimated - 1st to 5th
Very good, Cy Young possibilities
Willis Biddle, 2B 88 estimated - 3rd to 8th
Very good, can play every where but SS
Thurman Allen, LF 88 could fall out of 1st round..estimated - 17th to 23rd
Much more than a LF, major health risk
Jesus Amezaga, P 85 estimated - 8th to 15th
A good lefty with control and 4 pitches
Albert Cook, SS 85 estimated - 5th to 10th
Vacuum cleaner at SS, weak eye, bad bio
Garry Wright, P 83 estimated - 8th to 15th
Pin point fly ball closer. Bio is 1st round or nothing, he could fall, but doubtful, better needs
Pedro Candelaria, 2B 82 estimated - 8th to 20th
Very good all the way round
Bryan Christiansen, LF 80 estimated - 12th to 22nd
Weak splists
Jay Hegan, SS 80 estimated - 15th to 25th
Not a SS, but everywhere else
Warren Pagnozzi,P 80 estimated - 12th to 25th
Weak against lefties other wise good
George Lowe, CF 80 estimated - 15th to 25th
Very good, minor health risk
Lonny Hernandez, p 79 estimated - 10th to 20th
Outstanding long relief to 6 inning starter
Cliff Miller,P 78 may fall to 2nd round 25th to 32nd
Good closer with bad 2nd pitch

As you can see, out of the top 15, I only have one that could fall to me and I don't want him. So here is what I ended up with as my top 15 and I hope I get 1 or 2 even.

Neifi McBride, SS 90 Actual - 3rd
2 Jordan Newfield, SS 91 Actual - 2nd
I liked McBrides health and better defense over Newfields power. Chances of me getting 1 of them is nonexistent.
Lonny Hernandez, P Actual - 4th
I liked this pitcher best of all, control, splits and pitches. Chances are none.
Yogi Anderson, P Actual - 9th
He will be great also. Chances are none
Mark Bong, P Actual - 25th
He may be slow in coming, but will be a force. Chances are good, maybe 30%.
Willis Casey, P Actual - 27th
Not the best pitcher, but best starter left already. Chances are about 50%
Keith Simmons, P Actual - 74th
The last of the good starters on my board. Chances are 75%, this is probably the guy I get.
Jay Hegan, SS Actual - 29th
3rd best SS on draft board and almost as good. Chances are about 10%
Pedro Candelaria, 2B Actual - 11th
Willis Biddle, 2B Actual - 12
Donte Webb, 2B Actual - 77th
These 3 are better than number 6 and 7 , if my needs were not pitching. Chances of getting 1 is about 45%.
Alex Suarez, LF Actual - 24th
He is just too good not to leave out. Chances 15%
Sam Brumfield, C Actual - 15th
Vasco Lopez, C Actual - 28th
I have man crushes on these two. Have never seen 2 catchers like these on the same board before. Chances are interesting...30-60%..and they will both be snagged in supplemental or early 2nd otherwise.
15 Matt Pall, LF Actual - 38th
Not sure why I left him in the top 15, other than he can hit and the best 1B there is on my board.

Well there it is, my top 15, normally I get my first 4 or 5 picks out of my top 25. I do a lot of tweaking. But I only get one decent player in the next 5, but then who cares about those. I did something a little different this time and will see how I did. If I was betting on which one I get first would be either 5, 6 or 7 and maybe I will get 2 of them.

Analysis: I did a little more tweaking after I wrote this and moved a couple players up, good thing I did also, Hegan will be a great player, maybe not SS but 3B/CF at the ML. Simmons, who my scouts thought was great, looks like a bit of a bust. Wish I would have moved Biddle and Webb behind Hegan when I did it. Would have gotten Webb with the second pick and it would have been better. I even moved one of the catchers into the top 5 but that didn't help either as they both went before my turn. All in all the first round was fantastic, after that, things deteriated quickly and actually only got 3 out of my top 25.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Are the 80s back? (Stolen Base Explosion)

There has been a fair bit of discussion in the forums about SBs and the value of catchers etc etc. Well, yes stolen bases are up, rather drastically in some cases. What’s the deal? WIS with its last update to HBD, has changed the SB equation/formula.

Firstly, let’s put some history here. Back in the early 80s there were fair number speedsters in MLB – Willie McGee, Rickey Henderson, Ron LeFlore, Tim Raines to name a few. Heck, the St. Louis team was built on speed. It wasn’t unusual to see the SB leader have 80-90 stolen bases in a year. Then during the late 80s & early 90s there was a transition, a number of players could hit for power & steal a base from time to time. Up until the mid 80s the 30-30 club (30 HR & 30 SB in a year) was a really exclusive club; with it only being done about 7 or so times (One player doing it twice – can you name him? Hint: Not only did he do it twice but once was in the NL, the other in AL). Well during this transition time, it was not unusual at all to see the 30-30 mark done by 7 players in one season!! Not to mention the 40-40 mark was done twice!!! Well, now the SB has pretty much gone the way of the Dodo in MLB. There are few speedsters around but they are far and few between; now to steal over 50 in a year is quite the feat. The game today in MLB is “Chicks Love the Long Ball” – all hail the HR.

So, in HBD can you be like the Cards of the early 80s? IMO, yep. There is a team in JAHA that is and my team in Riley will easily crack over 200 SBs this season. I’ve had a game where my guys stole 9 bases total and another two where a single guy stole 6-7 themselves!! In the last major update, they changed (tweaked actually) the SB determination etc etc. Well this “tweak” has caused an increase in thefts. To give you an idea of how drastic the increase can be; in Riley my CF Rolando Cruz, here are his past SB totals: Yr 4 64/72, Yr 5 60/67, Yr 6 50/56, Yr 7 80/89; this year 68 games into the seasons 51/59!!!!! He’s on pace to steal over 120 bases this season. His speed rating dropped 3 points coming into the year from 100 to 97; while his Base running Rating has stayed at 75. Note, my manager setting has been “aggressive” for stolen bases for all 4 seasons.

In real life, the pitcher is the main factor in the defence of stolen bases. If the pitcher can give his catcher a “shot”, then maybe they get him. But if the guy gets too big of a jump, no catcher will get him. I will not get into the other factors etc here. Just to say the pitcher is the key to defending against the SB in real life. However, in HBD that ain’t the case. Yes, there is a factor relating to whether the pitcher is RH or LH but that’s it (and it’s a small part of the overall equation). The main defence is the catcher!!! For the base runner his speed rating and base running ability rating factor heavily on his # of attempts and possible success. Also the catcher’s arm strength & accuracy are the major defensive pieces of the equation.

The thing is, in HBD catchers for the most part come in two extremes; either great hitters with marginal defensive abilities OR great defensive ratings but marginal hitters. Note, I’m not referring to my Pseudo-Catcher type here (the guy who s/b DH or 1B). Up to now, this hasn’t been much of a choice – offensive would rule for the most part. This “tweak” may force some owners to rethink their choice, as the “track meet” seems to be back! Also, owners before were not keen on guys with good contact rating, good splits, great speed and base running ability BUT low power. These guys NOW are worth a look and it would seem that their salary demands are less then the heavy hitter. Also, they seem to have better defensive ratings as a general rule!

Now I’m not saying this is the way to go and recommending you go out get the U.S. relay team. BUT it would now seem to be an option worth considering, especially if you’re in a pitcher friendly park; that makes the long ball more difficult. Though there should be a word of caution with this strategy, in HBD you can’t give individual base-stealing settings to each player; it’s an overall team setting. So you have to be careful with the manager setting; cause players who have no business trying to steal, may if you’re too aggressive! That being said, I like the idea of more than one way to win and this would seem to be an option.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Early surprises around The Bigs

We're only about 23 games into the season but now is a good time to take a look at some eye-popping performances around The Bigs to this point in the season. We'll preface all of these performances by saying "It's still early, but..."

Marvin Broadhurst leads the world in hitting and on-base percentage
Tabbed as a key addition to Fargo in the preseason previews, Broadhurst has been the team's offensive MVP to this point, leading The Bigs with his .433 AVG and .521 OBP. He's also been excellent behind the plate where he has thrown out 43% of would be base stealers this season, second in The Bigs to Las Vegas' Mendy Sung (48%). The offensive numbers will drop off (they have to, right?) but for $2 million he looks like the steal of the free agent market to this point in the season. The Dirtbags as a team are hitting .293 (second in The Bigs) just one season after being the worst offensive team in the world. They're not necessarily scoring a lot of runs (114 to this point) and that number is guaranteed to not be so high by season's end, but it's a nice sign of life from the bats that the Fargo pitchers surely appreciate.

San Juan Dead Bunnies showing some life
After finishing last in the NL South last season (albeit with a winning record) and predicted to be a seller at this year's trade deadline, the Dead Bunnies are off to a 14-9 start and appear poised to make some noise in the South this season. Buzz Linden and Jordan Jerzembeck lead the pitching staff which has shown improvement and has been the big difference this season. Last year's best offensive team in the NL is again doing it with the sticks, led so far by big numbers from Mike Henderson.

Kerry Barber can't be touched
Literally. Boise's Barber has posted a 2-0 record with a 0.60 ERA and 0.80 WHIP in four starts so far this season, including a complete game shutout of the Atlanta Bandits in his second start of the season. In fact, Barber didn't even allow a run through the first 17.1 IP of the season. Batters are hitting a mere .157 with a .186 slugging percentage against him. I would guess that these numbers will balloon up eventually (I know, I'm going out on a limb) but what a start for Barber.

Walk right this way Mr. King
Toledo's Bret King has been the definition of a patient hitter so far this season. In 23 games so far, King has an OBP of .443 and has walked 26 times (half the number of walks drawn by the entire Atlanta team). I don't know exactly what that projects out to be over an entire season (I was told there would be no math) but I know it's a lot more than the 115 walks he drew last season. This is one trend I wouldn't expect to fall off. Also of note, Nashville's Gregg Black and his moustache have walked 21 times this season making him the only other player to top the 20 walks mark to this point.

Cubbies making some noise. The Dragons? Not so much.
They finished dead last (by a lot) in the division in season 1 and have been predicted to do the same this year but if the Chicago Cubs aren't good, it's news to them. Fourth in the NL in runs scored plus a much improved pitching staff has equaled a 13-10 start for Chicago. They sit just two games back of Fargo in the North while last year's wild card representative from the division, Cincinnati, has stumbled a bit out of the gate at 10-13. Cincy's team ERA of 5.51 is the main reason for the team's poor start but with a solid staff led by All-Stars Manny Christians and Bernard Robinson we suspect they'll turn things around. Whether the Cubs can maintain their hot start remains to be seen.

Gerald Thompson the new Todd Jones?
The Gamblers certainly hope not but last year's AL Fireman of the Year hasn't exactly been on fire thus far. Vegas' 23-year-old closer, who converted 39 of 42 save opportunities last year with a 3.48 ERA, has an ERA of 11.37 and a 2.53 WHIP in nine appearances so far this season. He has however converted all five of his save chances, it's just that they've usually been pretty interesting. Vegas fans everywhere are searching for their heart medication.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Ortiz Hits for the Cycle

Monterrey 1B/DH Felipe Ortiz hit for the cycle in a 14-5 win over Durham earlier this week. He hit a bloop double in the 2nd and a 3-run homer in the 3rd off starter Cookie Rijo, an RBI single in the 4th off reliver Brace Ransom, and an RBI triple in the 8th off Randy Ashby. Ortiz's 5 RBIs helped highlight a 14-hit attack against the Entombed Spiders.

Monday, May 5, 2008

IFA signings

International Free Agent (IFAs) signings have picked up in recent days.

Bernie Espinosa, C Salem Sacrifices Deceptive at the plate, ok so he can see the ball coming but closes his eyes and swings for the fences, but behind the plate he will make mediocre pitchers look like stars and keep those base stealing threats at bay. A real good cheap find.

Luis Sanchez, C Salem Sacrifices Good hitting ability at the plate, behind the plate very average. The DH role is his calling with the ability of catching an occasional game. Though at 2M, expensive.

Mateo Guerrero, P Houston Riverdogs The first high priced IFA, maybe high priced is an over statement! At a whopping 16.8M, Houston hopes to have a future #1 starter, pin point accuracy, good splits, 3 setup pitches, an out pitch and a throw away pitch. Sounds too good to be true, has the ability to be the ideal pitcher, at that price he better be. Cy Young is his future? Will have to wait and see but somehow I don't see it, but will be a great one.

Moises Tavarez, P Vancouver Fighting Moose A good 3 pitch guy that you learn to hate in the end. Above average control and splits that will mow righties down with 2 very good pitches and a decent fishing out pitch. His biggest problem is Durability, a bad limiting factor. I foresee closer duty for him at the ML level once he gets there which could be a while. A good deal at 1.5M.

Jolbert Blanco, P Toronto Toros A closer/setup man that has control of two good off speed pitches. A good pick up for 830K even though he may not be destined for the ML.

Jose Nunez, SS Philadelphia Blue Jays A great defensive SS, not a great hitter but hits with power and could find the DL before his career is over. Over priced at 2.6M, but if the need is great not a bad choice.

Carlos Suarez, 1B Durham Entombed Spiders As far as 1B go, well above average. Can play all 162 games, a big plus, and hit for average, mostly singles and a few doubles. A steal at 852K.

Alex Suh, SS Colorado Springs Chickens Another great defensive SS with some limiting hitting ability, but will play his heart out all season long. Maybe a little over priced at 6.5M.

Ivan Alarcon, P Cincinnati Dragons A 3 pitch guy with good stuff, not the greatest in the split department. A little pricey at 6.8M

Juan Blanco, 1B Las Vegas Gamblers Was listed as a CF, but Gamblers saw him as a good minor league defensive 1B. At 830K, not a bad pickup for a team drafting late.

Santiago Bonilla, SS New Orleans Voodoo A good all-around player, only drawback is 110 or so game playing time. Cheap pickup at 5.7M

Junior Hara, SS Trenton Traffic A decent player, though outside chance as a starting SS at the ML level, more suited at any other position. Good pickup at 5.4M

Chan Jung, P Las Vegas Gamblers Solid minor league pitcher. Worth 390K, equates to a 5th round choice or so.

Juan Lopez, P Las Vegas Gamblers Another solid minor league pitcher. Maybe overpriced at 630K.

Harry Morales, P Toledo Mud Hens A very short reliever with exceptional stuff. Over priced at 2.5M in my books.

Willie Romero, P Nashville Sounds Another solid minor league pitcher. Good price at 730K.

Valerio Seanez, P Arizona Diamondbacks Middle relief to spot starter, 1 great pitch, two good pitches and a throw away with great control. Doesn't pitch to lefties well. A steal at 570K.

Orber Soto, LF Colorado Springs Chickens Better at 1B and a so-so hitter. Well over priced at 1.5M.

William Miyakazi, P Ottawa Naughty Kitties A little weak in the control department but with two good pitches out of four makes for a fine starter. At 1.5M not cheap and not overpriced either.

Tomas Johnson, P Vancouver Fighting Moose A good closer, little weak to lefties keeps him from being great. At 6.8M I expected a little more, so that makes him a little overpriced.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Playoff Predictions for Season 2

And here's where it gets interesting. I think like last season the AL is a little easier to predict than the NL.

American League

1. Monterrey Sultans (AL South Champs)
2. Milwaukee Manic Maulers (AL North Champs)
3. Louisville Legends (AL East Champs)
4. Las Vegas Gamblers (AL West Champs)
5. Nashville Sounds (Wild Card)
6. Cleveland Skidmarks (Wild Card)


Round 1:
Nashville over Las Vegas
Louisville over Cleveland

Round 2:
Monterrey over Nashville
Milwaukee over Louisville

Monterrey over Milwaukee

National League:

1. Toronto (NL North Champs)
2. Salem (AL West Champs)
3. Trenton (NL East Champs)
4. New Orleans (NL South Champs)
5. Fargo (Wild Card)
6. Norfolk (Wild Card)


Round 1
Trenton over Norfolk
Fargo over New Orleans

Round 2
Toronto over Fargo
Salem over Trenton

NLCS: Salem over Toronto

World Series: Monterrey over Salem