Monday, June 30, 2008

Last series of the season and...

Quick update of the playoff picture:


#1: Milwaukee (clinched AL North, clinched 1st round bye)
#2: Monterrey (clinched AL South, clinched 1st round bye, 2 games back of Milwaukee)
#3: Louisville (clinched AL East, clinched #3 seed)
#4: Anaheim (clinched AL West, clinched #4 seed)

#5: Nashville: Magic number of 1 to clinch wild card spot, magic number of 3 to clinch #5 seed
#6: Toledo: Magic number of 2 to clinch wild card spot, 1 game back of Nashville.

Also alive: Cleveland- 2 games back of Toledo


#1: Fargo (clinched NL North, clinched #1 seed)
#2: Houston (clinched NL South, magic number of 3 for #2 seed)
#3: Arizona (clinched playoff spot, magic number of 3 to clinch NL West)
#4: Atlanta (magic number of 3 to clinch NL East)

#5: Salem (clinched playoff spot, magic number of 2 to clinch 5 seed, 1 game back of Arizona)
#6: Chicago (magic number of 1 to clinch playoff spot)

Also alive: Toronto- 3 games back of Chicago.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

With a week to go...

There is "a week" (8 games) left to go and the playoff picture (in some cases) is getting a little clearer.


AL East: the Louisville Legends (88-66) have clinched their second straight division title. They will likely be the 3 seed when the playoffs start. They cannot get a first round bye and have a 5 game lead on Anaheim for the #4 spot. New York New York (79-73) trail Cleveland by 3 games for the last spot. While not mathematically eliminated, it doesn't look promising for the plucky New York team to repeat last year's surprise playoff run. Huntington (77-77) is technically still alive, but two wins by Nashville puts them out of the race for good.

AL North: Milwaukee (104-50) has wrapped up both their second straight division title and a bye. They have a 1-game lead over defending AL champion Monterrey for the #1 seed. Toledo (83-71) is tied with Nashville; they hold the two wild card spots momentarily. Cleveland (82-72) is one game back and will travel to Toledo for a 3-game series after two more games with Anaheim. That series with Toledo could very well be an eliminator series. The most interesting AL race.

AL South: Much to everyone's surprise, Monterrey (103-51) wins a second straight division title. They're looking for home-field advantage, but Milwaukee currently holds that. Nashville (83-71) can't slack off, as they currently hold a playoff spot but are only one game in front of the #7 spot, which gets you a chance to make early tee times.

AL West: The only team to win an AL division that didn't win in season 1, congrats to the Anaheim Chiles (83-71). They'll likely be the 4 seed and their 1st round opponent is still up in the air. Everyone else is mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.

National League:

NL East: Yikes. Insanity rules here. Trenton appeared to be cruising to a 2nd straight division title and suddenly lost 14 out of 16 games, enabling upstart Atlanta to pass them. But after grabbing the division lead, Atlanta promptly lost 3 straight. Meanwhile, the previously left for dead Norfolk Destroyers won 5 straight, leaving us with a 3-way tie at 78-76. Norfolk still has to go to Trenton and host Atlanta. It is almost mathematically impossible for the second place team for win a wild-card berth, adding to the drama coming down the stretch.

NL North: A little more cut and dried than the East (then again, just about anything would have to be, wouldn't it?). Fargo (100-54) will be the #1 seed in the NL and highly dangerous. Chicago (trying to prove the preseason predictions of a certain blog writer wrong) holds the last wild card spot at 84-70, but Toronto is not far behind at 82-72. Both teams have the same two teams (Cincinnati and Fargo) on their schedule to finish.

NL South: Houston (89-65) has emerged as the dominant force in this division and have a 2 game lead for the #2 spot, which could be important come playoff time. Everyone else in this division is just fighting for draft position for next season.

NL West: Defending World Series champs Salem and archrival Arizona are tied at 87-67. They'll both finish with Boise and Salt Lake City and have no more games with each other. If things break right, they could end up meeting in the playoffs, which would just further inflame the rivalry. Here's hoping it happens.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The NL and Their Murky Playoff Spots

And just when you thought is was safe to go home, here comes the NL playoff picture. The playoffs are worse here than the muddied AL fighting for two or three spots. The NL has 10 teams fighting for 5 spots and that makes it hard to decipher everything that could happen at the moment.

The Fargo Dirtbags are sittin pretty happy at the moment needing about 10 wins to wrap up the NL North and the #1 seed, barring another team suddenly winning 20 in a row that is. Even with that happening they would only need to win 12 at the most and that is a little under .500.

The Trenton Traffic is getting serious competition from the Atlanta Bandits who cut the Traffic lead to 5 games all of a sudden in the NL East. The Bandits also leap-frogged over the Norfolk Destroyers with their sudden emergence.

Houston Riverdogs have barked their way to a 5 game win streak that has the Memphis Short Grass and San Juan Dead Bunnies eating their dust.

Salem Sacrifices still lead the NL West, but the Arizona Diamondbacks have cut their slim lead in half to 2 games.

Chicago Cubs, Toronto Toros, Atlanta Bandits, Norfolk Destroyers, and Memphis Short Grass all have a shot at a playoff spot at this time.

The Cubs, Toros and the Short Grass all have excitingly bad schedules as they play most of the other playoff hopefuls, so they are in charge of their own destinies.

The Bandits and
Destroyers have to play their division mates and one of the two has a good chance at making the playoffs.

The NL will have a very wild finish overall. With few playoffs spots taken at the moment, the war begins.

The Suddenly Interesting AL Playoff Picture

Normally I would wait till there was 20 games to go to make an update to the playoff picture, but that would put things in the middle of quite a few on-going series. For starters the Monterrey Sultans have wrapped their 2nd AL South Title..CONGRATS Acer!. The #1 seed is still in question with Milwaukee Manic Maulers still in the hunt for that coveted spot. Though I am not sure whether being the #1 or #2 seed really makes that much of a difference. The Louisville Legends have a comfortable lead also for the #3 seed, but after that things have gone haywire for several teams.

With the Cornjerkers visting the desert playground, they should have been playing ball instead of jerking slot machines, as the Gamblers took 4 games and put their playoff hopes in serious jeopardy.

Anaheim Chiles have been floundering, playing playoff teams and hopefuls on the road. Winning only 5 of their last 16 games, and it doesn't get any better as they travel to Monterrey and then home for Louisville before things get easier for awhile.

All roads lead through Las Vegas for the playoff hopefuls one way or the other and the recipient of this will be the
Toledo Mud Hens. The Gamblers first visit Nashville for 3 important games then to Monterrey. Then comes a steady stream to Vegas, the Fighting Moose stop in, followed by the Skidmarks then those pesky noisy Sounds again followed by the Chiles.

The Gamblers have in fact reached 1 game below .500 again, normally they go on a four or five game skid every time they have got close to that mile stone. But if they can sweep Nashville and win at least 1 from Monterrey, they think their chances of making the playoffs are pretty good before the home party. However the Gamblers have been abysmal at home.

There are a lot of ifs for the last three spots in the AL all of a sudden that wasn't there 10 games ago.
Huntington Beachcombers and the New York new york also have an outside shot at making a run, but difficult with the same division and the schedule they have left.

Toledo Mud Hens has the easiest schedule, facing only Nashville and teams in their division which will either put them in a serious hole or propel them to the #5 seed.

The Nashville Sounds have the Gamblers twice and their division for the most part.

Cleveland Skidmarks have the Gamblers and Chiles and their division foes.

It is not easy for any of the hopefuls! How will it turn out? Guess we will have to wait and see.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

New York new york $Buck$ trend with William Satou

New York - New York made huge shook the baseball world today by signing IFA William Satou. Satou, a prize defensive and base knocking SS, signed for the minuscule sum of 4.9M and 327K for 5 years. The market has taken a beating this year as other teams have run out of money due to the low attendance record suffered by most teams. Satou was immediately assigned to the High A team to begin his long career to stardom.

30 Games to GO....

Lets see how things are shaping up for the playoff run.

AL North: It appears that the Milwaukee Manic Maulers has things well in control for the time being as the Toledo Mud Hens find them 14 games back.

AL East: The
Louisville Legends has the division well under control with a 14 game lead over the Huntington Beachcombers.

AL South: The
Monterrey Sultans only need 6 games to mathematically clinch the division already as the Nashville Sounds are their biggest concern at 24 games back.

AL West: The
Anaheim Chiles have a somewhat comfortable 9 game lead over the Las Vegas Gamblers. This is the closest race in the AL for a division title, the Gamblers will need to start having consistency if they are going to have a chance.

AL Wild Card: The
Toledo Mud Hens and Cleveland Skidmarks are currently holding down the final two spots at this time. The Nashville Sounds are 6 to 8 games back in this race but can't seem to gain any ground.

AL Current Seeding:

Monterrey Sultans
Milwaukee Manic Maulers - Only 2 games back of the #1 seed
Louisville Legends
4. Anaheim Chiles
Toledo Mud Hens
6. Cleveland Skidmarks - Only 2 games behind the #5 seed

NL North: The
Fargo Dirtbags hold a comfortable lead in the division by 11 games over the Chicago Cubs. 11 games are tough to make up but not impossible.

NL East: The
Trenton Traffic currently hold an 8 game lead over the Atlanta Bandits and the Norfolk Destroyers. Atlanta was the only team to gain ground this week and only over the Destroyers.

NL South:
The Houston Riverdogs are out in front by 9 games over the Memphis Short Grass and the San Juan Dead Bunnies, both of which lost ground to the Riverdogs.

NL West:
The Salem Sacrifices hold the top spot with the Arizona Diamondbacks striking at their heels at 4 games back. This is the tightest race in the world for a division title and could come down to the last game of the season.

NL Wild Card: The
Chicago Cubs and the Arizona Diamondbacks currently hold the positions but things could change abruptly. The D'Backs could take the West dropping Salem here or with serious contention from the Toronto Toros.

NL Current Seeding:

Fargo Dirtbags
Salem Sacrifices - 8 games behind the #1 seed
Houston Riverdogs - 4 games behind the #2 seed
Trenton Traffic - 1 game behind the #3 seed
Chicago Cubs
Arizona Diamondbacks - 1 game behind the #5 seed, 4 games behind the #2 seed
Toronto Toros - 5 games in back of the #6 seed

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Deadline Dealing

Three major trades occurred right before the Season 2 trade deadline.

Trenton Traffic and Cincinnati Dragons

Trenton gets: SP Manny Christians, SP Tito Mercedes (AAA), RF Jimmie Tabaka (AAA)
Cincinnati gets: 3B Paxton Coleridge, SP Cal Paul (AAA), SP Johnny Strong (AAA)

Analysis: Trenton really felt like they needed to get a starting pitcher, so they got Christians. It's a bit of a gamble, as his stamina isn't great, but he can be spectacular. The wisdom of trading the team's RBI leader is questionable, but Christians has a huge contract and the two teams had to make the money work. Mercedes and Tabaka are decent prospects. For Cincinnati, Coleridge is a true all-or-nothing hitter, but when he does connect usually good things happen. He's a proven HR and RBI hitter at the ML level. Cincinnati can either use him or spin him off into something else if they are truly in rebuilding mode. It remains to be seen what Paul and Strong will become.

Las Vegas Gamblers and Chicago Cubs

Las Vegas gets: RP Dave Stewart, RF Aurielo Prieto (AA), SS Kevin Kim (AA)
Chicago gets: OF Denny Moss

Analysis: Wow. Where to start on this one? This deal was highly controversial (read below in the blog and/or our chat board), but eventually went through. Stewart is one of the best closers in the game and Prieto and Kim should eventually be contributors on the ML level (Kim should be a solid starter), but was it worth it for Moss? Again, a lot has been said on this question so I'll leave it be. Moss could have some health issues but when healthy is a 5-tool player and puts up huge numbers. He is a bonafide superstar.

Salem Sacrifices and Colorado Springs Chickens

Salem gets: RP Tony Matos
Colorado Springs gets: IF Jason Carpenter (High A), RP Philip Crane (High A)

Analysis: The rich get richer. Already arguably the best team in the NL, Salem gains another quality arm out of the bullpen. Matos is a proven closer, which will help their good starting staff get wins. For Colorado Springs, Carpenter and Crane are both marginal prospects. They could each make the ML, but I don't see either having a big-time impact.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Trade that got vetoed and my take on it...

Okay, maybe I am a nice guy most of the time, even when trading players. I will use Denny Moss as an example. Last year he had a great season, this season has been so-so and been on the DL. I have 18M at advanced scouting and his projected health is a 62, for those with 20 in advanced scouting it could be a plus or minus 2 points. So he is a projected 90 rated player and a plate monster. His field play is real good, just don't put him in at SS..he sucks there actually. To top it off, he is a base stealing threat. Sounds like a player everyone wants.... except me. Why?

I value players differently, to me Moss should be rated no higher than 80 projected and I top him off at 75 max because of that health rating and I rate pitchers higher depending on their stats. To me I was getting Stewart for Moss, that was an even deal. The other 2 players were icing on the cake to me, although on the surface you think they were career minor leaguers. They would have been in my ML bullpen or starters depending sooner or later. And someone said I should get at least 3 good players for him.

Now let me describe what happens on the health issue. The first season I ever played, I had a catcher with Moss's numbers, well, his catching wasn't that great but passable. His health rating was actually a little higher, a point or two and makeup was 12 points less. He did great in spring training. Right before the first pitch, I swear he tripped over the dugout steps, he was out for the season with a bulging disk. His numbers declined 30% across the board and never recovered and get worse every year and no one wanted him either, luckily it is the last year of his contract now, a 4.7M, 3 year waste, although AAA coaches like him. And before you ask, he was 26 years old. After that little experience, I don't draft players with health ratings projected below 70, they are the first ones to go to the bottom of the list, I don't even look at the rest of their stats even. I don't take players in a trade below 65 unless there is another player I want involved, so don't even attempt it. I don't even bother looking at IFA's either unless I need them to fill a hole somewhere as a cheap emergency. Call me cautious or what ever, if you can't depend on the player being in the lineup, then there is no use having him. Hmmm, Moss kind of reminds me of Ken Griffey Jr.

For me, the original deal was perfect, we both got something we needed, mfoster wanted a CF and I got my pitcher and 2 not so great but very usable pitchers. And yes, I warned him about the health condition, just like I did Tucker. Since you vetoed what I thought was a fair deal, now I get 3 players that will turn out to be good ML players and it wasn't my doing. Maybe after reading this, you will change your mind and think I am getting too much, which in my mind is exactly right, but that is what ya wanted, so mfoster made it happen...not me.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Major deal in the NL North

The division that is arguably the best in the Bigs saw a major trade between two of its teams recently.

Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Dragons

Cubs get: RP Willy Mo Owens
Dragons get: SS Juan Rodriguez, RP Kid Johnstone

Analysis: Just in case Cubs fans weren't sure about the team's willingness to go for the championship this season, this should serve as adequate proof. Owens is one of the best closers in the league, having amassed 57 saves in his year and a half in the league. He pushes recently acquired Dave Stewart to a setup role in what should be a very tough back of the bullpen. Chicago is trying to add pieces, as this season in the NL could shape up to be tougher than last season. Their 57-45 record in most leagues would put them fairly comfortably in the wild card lead, but Toronto and Arizona are both looming only 2 games back.
Cincinnati appears to be in a rebuilding process; they are in last place with a $120 million payroll. In return they get Rodriguez, a 25-year-old shortstop who should be a productive player, although maybe not a star. He is a good two-way player, as he's above average both at the plate and in the field. Kid Johnstone is a relief arm who scouts sometimes overlook, as he's not a hard thrower. However, he does have two good pitches and has a funky delivery that really seems to bother right-handed hitters in particular. He's only 22 and should contribute out of the bullpen for years to come. All in all, Cincinnati got a decent return for Owens.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Weekly Update- Who's Hot (All-Star Edition)

Since the All-Star Break came in the middle of the week, let's look at who was playing well from Monday up until the break.

AL- Louisville Legends

Recap: The Legends won 11 out of 13 this week up until the break (they haven't slowed down after it either, winning 3 straight coming out of the break). The swept 3 at home against Vancouver, lost 2 out of 3 at home to Cleveland, won 4 straight at Las Vegas and took 3 in a row at Toledo.

Key Series: I know it's not as much of a challenge as it was last season, but it's still fairly impressive to take 4 straight at Las Vegas. They outscored the Gamblers 29-16.

Key Player: DH Ernest Montgomery hit .511 in the 13-game set, hitting 10 home runs and driving in 24, including an epic 4 HR game against Vancouver.

Outlook: They've won 11 straight and opened up a 14 game lead in the division. Life is good for Kentucky baseball fans.

This week: A key 4-game series coming up late in the week against the always-tough Nashville Sounds. At this point you'd have to think Louisville is cruising to a division title but this is a possible playoff preview.


In the National League the Chicago Cubs, Houston Riverdogs, and New Orleans Voodoo all finished the 13 game stretch at 8-5.

The Cubs took 2 out of 3 from Houston and then 3 out of 4 from Salem to put themselves in 2nd place in the division and squarely in the wild card race. Their next series is a 4-game set with division-leading Fargo.

The Riverdogs recovered from the Cubs series and finished the week in style, taking 3 out of 4 from North-leading Fargo and sweeping a quality Norfolk team. They may be only 2 games above .500 right now but they lead the division. They'll play a split 4-game series (2 at home, 2 on the road) with 2nd place Memphis in their next series.

The Voodoo are very happy to be done with interleague play (league worst 2-10) and won 3 out of the 4 series they played. They're currently in last place at 42-52 but only 6 games back of Houston. They'll get their shot at the Riverdogs mid-week with a 3 game set at Minute Maid Park.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Milestone hit by Anaheim Slugger

Anaheim's Alex Vazquez became the first hitter in The Bigs history to hit 100 home runs. His mileston shot came at Huntington 5 games before the All-Star break in a 15-10 win. With his team already up 7-5 in the top of the 7th, he stepped up with 2 on and no one out against right-hander Lefty Hahn and hit a long home run to right field. He has since hit 4 more on his way (potentially) to the 200 mark. Congratulations to Vazquez and the Chiles.

Friday, June 6, 2008

History Repeats Itself

Both the Home Run Derby and the All-Star game saw some history repeating itself.

The Home Run Derby was won for the second year in a row by superstar Arizona LF Osvaldo Johnson. This year Johnson outdueled Salem's Macbeth Keller in the final round with an eye-popping 14 homers, including a mammoth 517-foot opposite field shot.

The All-Star game was won for the second year in a row by the NL in large part on a key home run. This time it wasn't a dramatic 9th inning home run but a 3-run shot in the 5th by Trenton's Ken Davis that did the trick.
Fargo's Javier Henriquez drew the starting assignment for the NL; Orber Marin of Cleveland got the start for the AL. There was no score until the 3rd when Dwight Salmon gave up a single, hit a batter, and gave up a walk all with one out. Alex Li grounded to short but the NL couldn't turn 2 as the AL took a 1-0 lead. They doubled their lead in the top of the 5th when Fargo's Jim Arnold threw a wild pitch with Nashville star Gregg Black on third. The bottom of the 5th inning was the turning point, as Milwaukee's Woody Hiller gave up a long 3-run shot to Davis with 2 outs. After that, the NL turned to a long line of closers to shut the door; Tex Howell, Bert Price, Willie Nunez, and Vic Trevino got the final 12 outs without yielding a run. Davis was named the MVP of the game.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Season 2 Mid-Season Awards

It's been an interesting start to the season. Some teams have surprised and some have disappointed. Time for a look at the best and worst of the first half of Season 2 in The Bigs.


Most Valuable Player: Sean Simpson, Chicago (2B)

Skinny: This is definitely open for debate. Arizona LF Oswaldo Johnson was my pick at the halfway point last season and is certainly worthy of it again. Houston CF Brian Satou is actually improving on last season's numbers (he hit 45 HRs and drove in 125). But I'll give this one to Simpson by a hair over the two aforementioned stars. He's the centerpiece of Chicago's rebirth and is putting up numbers to back it. His 20 HRs and 75 RBIs aren't bad, but it's only in 74 games- only the superstars are driving in over a run a game. What puts him over the top is that he's 2nd in the league in hitting, 2nd in OBP, and 1st in slugging- he gets on base a lot and does it with power. He's also stolen 13 bases- only Johnson provides the combination of power and speed that Simpson does.

Also considered: Johnson, Satou, Lyle Barber (1B- New Orleans), Leo Miller (3B- Houston)

Least Valuable Player: Enrique Park, Trenton (2B)

Skinny: This award stays in the NL East as the sophomore jinx has hit Park like a sack of hammers. He came up last season about midway through and hit .300 with an OBP of .365 and a SLG of .632. He would have projected out to about a 40 HR and 120 RBI pace last season. This season his average is down to .238- he walks enough to get his on base up to .300. The startling thing is his power has disappeared- his SLG is .379 this season. He hit 19 HRs last season and isn't on pace to match that in a full 162 games. Not often a 1st place team wins this award, but Trenton's offense could be scary good if Park starts hitting like he did last season.

Also Considered: Flip Chapman (RF-Chicago), Andres Calderon (SS-Arizona), Harold Stroud (3B-Cincinnati)

Cy Young: Jim Arnold, Fargo

Skinny: This was a tough choice, as it was last season. You could almost put Arnold, Javier Henriquez, Matty Eusebio, and Dwight Salmon's names in a hat and pick one. I'll give Arnold the slight nod over his teammate Henriquez due to his ERA (1.73) and WHIP (0.94) being better than Javier's and Arnold has only one fewer win (Henriquez leads the league with 13). Eusebio and Salmon are just a step behind and pitching tremendously. All that being said, if Chicago's Stephen Tucker had continued on his pace through his first 13 starts instead of getting injured, he would have taken this award.

Also considered: Henriquez (Fargo), Salmon (Salem), Eusebio (Houston)

Cy Yuck: tie, Terrence Grybowski and Edgard Chavez, Philadelphia

Skinny: Grybowski is 5-11 with a 7.95 ERA. Chavez is 4-12 with a 7.84 ERA. I can't really tell the difference- they have both been awful. They give up almost one home run per start, and give Philadelphia no length- both average less than 4.5 innings per start. The only question is will they lose 20- they're both on pace to do so, but Philadelphia management could bench them or send them back to the minors or the fans could just boo them off the mound. Only problem is Philly would have to replace both, so the odds are pretty good at least one of them will.

Also considered: Jose Merced (Chicago), Donald Sierra (Cincinnati)

Surprise Team: Chicago Cubs

Skinny: Last season they lost 112 games. This season they'd be in the playoffs if they started right now. Yes, they've overhauled the roster but it's rare to see an improvement like this in just half a season. They've been OK since losing Tucker (see above) and even if it doesn't continue, they are headed in the right direction.

Also Considered: Atlanta Bandits, Fargo Thundering Herd

Disappointing Team: Cincinnati Dragons

Skinny: Last season the Dragons and New Orleans Voodoo won 90 games and made the playoffs. This season they're both 37-50 and are better than only Boise and Philadelphia in the NL this season. The tiebreaker? Cincinnati's payroll is over $120 million.

Also Considered: New Orleans


Most Valuable Player: Gregg Black, Nashville (2B)

Skinny: It's a two man race between him and Anaheim slugger Alex Vazquez. So how does Black overcome Vazquez's 36 HRs and 100 RBIs at the 87 game mark? Black does have 28 and 79, good for second in the AL in RBIs and leads the league in batting, on base percentage, and slugging average. Vazquez is on pace to strike out almost 200 times, while Black already has 51 more walks than strikeouts. So although power numbers and angry Anaheim fans would seem to favor Vazquez, I think if you look at all the numbers Black is still the best.

Also Considered: Vazquez (Anaheim-3B)

Least Valuable Player: Tim Harding, Las Vegas

Skinny: This was a close race: Richard Takahashi was a worthy candidate for his huge dropoff from last season. But Harding went from a key component in the deal that sent Bob Malone to Milwaukee to decent (if not good) producer for a division winner to AA. Bonus points for having to clear waivers (and skipping AAA) and for costing the Gamblers $5.4 million this season and next.
Also considered: Takahaski (Vancouver), Anthony Benard (Huntington), Tom Stanley (Colorado Springs), Tomas Martin (Cleveland)

Cy Young: Vin Solano, Milwaukee

Skinny: He's 12-1. That's right: he's started 18 times and has 1 loss. Only Orber Marin of Cleveland has more wins and Solano leads the league in strikeouts (tied with Cleveland's Steven Michaels), ERA, on-base average, and WHIP. He doesn't lose because he keeps runners off base- pure and simple.

Also considered: Carlton Fleming (Cleveland), Marin (Cleveland), Max Jacquez (Monterrey)

Cy Yuck: Sun Chang, Vancouver

Skinny: Chang decided to reverse Solano's record and then lose one more. That's right, he's 1-13. His ERA is 8.72, his WHIP is over 2 (Solano's is less than 1), and the league hits .348 off him. He's another pitcher who on average will not get out of the 5th inning. Like his Vancouver teammates Phil Nakajima and Richard Takahashi, he's from Kobe, Japan. The difference is Nakajima and Takahashi have talent.

Also considered: Lenny Bradley (Durham), Sammy Acquino (Colorado Springs), Alex Brantley (Anaheim), Ralph Washington (Kansas City)

Surprise Team: Anaheim Chiles

Skinny: The AL West was supposed to be Las Vegas and then everyone else. Las Vegas has struggled, but Anaheim is not leading the division simply by default- they are a legitimate threat to take the division. Alex Vazquez, who is having an MVP type year (see above), and ace pitcher Ajax Drabek help make them a real threat to win the west.

Also considered: Toledo Mud Hens

Disappointing Team: Las Vegas Gamblers

Skinny: They won the division by 29 games last season with 103 wins. They're on pace for 74 wins this season. Star LF Denny Moss isn't producing as he did last season and has been on the DL already. Their 2B from last season is in AA (see above). And although they thought they wouldn't, they do miss having Stephen Tucker at the top of the rotation. They may have already dug themselves too big a hole.

Also considered: Vancouver Fighting Moose (yeah, I know they were bad last season, but 17-70?), New York New York