Sunday, August 31, 2008

Chicago acquires a starter, Austin City strikes again

The Snake Tamers, in what is probably the toughest division in baseball, acquired a starting pitcher from Austin City to try and hold off the Fargo Dirtbags and Toronto Toros.

Chicago gets: SP Claude Jacquez, SP Art Conway (AA)
Austin City gets: C Wiki Mateo (AAA), 1B William Farr (AAA)

Analysis: Jacquez immediately falls in behind Tucker and Eusebio to provide very good depth at the #3 spot for Chicago. This doesn't put their rotation up with Fargo's, but they did improve in this area. Conway is a marginal major league prospect at best.
Austin City gets a great defensive catcher (they are now officially Catcher Central) in Mateo and a future power-hitting and surprisingly fast 1B in Farr. Not sure both will be with Austin, but both will be in the majors someday for some team.

Houston acquires relief help

The Houston Riverdogs made a trade with the Jackson Vipers to shore up their bullpen.

Houston gets: RP Tom Cummings
Jackson gets: RP Andre Parrish, RP Joe Street (AA)

Analysis: Cummings is a good young left-handed reliever who's been lights out since joining the Riverdogs. Parrish is a step behind Cummings, but a contributor on the ML level out of the bullpen. If Joe Street can develop his curveball to be a good second pitch, he could end up being the best reliever out of the three when it's all said and done.

Colorado Springs going for the playoffs?

Colorado Springs is tryng to sustain their hot start and, to that end, have completed a deal with the Austin City Limits

Colorado Springs gets: RP Dude Huskey, C Hiram Spooneybarger (AA), SP Carmen Christopher (AA)
Austin City gets: 3B Gerald Stargell (AAA), RP Richard Carrasco (AAA)

Analysis: Huskey instantly fills a gaping hole for Colorado Springs; Alex Cornejo was not getting the job done. In addition to arguably the best closer in the league, Colorado Springs gets a future starting catcher in the deal in Spooneybarger. Christopher was a throw-in, as I don't see him contributing much, if anything, on the big league level.
Austin City should like the acquisition of Stargell, even if the price was a little high. He's not great at any one thing, but he's good in all of the "5 tools". Carrasco could end up in the bullpen, but he's no star.

12 player mega-deal between New York and Austin

The New York New York and the Austin City Limits have completed the largest trade in The Bigs history.

New York receives: SP Jason Sprague, RP Eduardo Moya, SP/RP Peter Carr

Austin receives: SS William Satou (AAA), RP Steven Michaels (AAA), SP Warren Pagnozzi (AA), C Jesus Ordonez (Lo-A), RF Fonzie Mientkiewicz (AAA), LF Rico Johnson (AA), SP Delino Colon (AA), SP Chris Lowry (AAA), RP Bill Robbins (AAA)

Analysis: Yikes. I think I got traded in this deal somewhere. Seriously, I don't know if this necessarily changes the landscape of the AL, but it does give New York a few good pieces. Sprague is a good, probably not great, starting pitcher; he could be an ace if he could somehow develop another pitch to go with that sinker. Moya is a commodity rarely available: a 22-year-old good relief pitcher. He's got closer written all over him. Carr will give New York some innings in long relief/mopup duty; he was mostly traded due to his contract of almost $5 million dollars which now comes off of Austin's cap.

As for Austin, there are so many minor leaguers here that I'll just give a quick glimpse of each.

Satou is a slick-fielding, speedy shortstop who should hit enough to stick in the majors.
Michaels has control issues and doesn't have a pitch to go with his fairly good sinker- I don't see him sticking in the big leagues.
Pagnozzi could end up being a solid back of the rotation type guy on the big league level. Ordonez is a light-hitting catcher with a great arm and can call a very good game- I could see him backing up Brumfield someday.
All Name team candidate Mientkiewicz has good enough speed and hitting ability to maybe be a leadoff hitter on the ML level and should at least be good enough to bat in a lineup, but his best asset is his arm- it's a cannon.
Johnson has good power and good speed- possible future ML starter.
Colon is intriguing; he has terrible control, but he could be great if he could somehow overcome that problem. Just not sure he can.
Lowry is another back of the rotation type- I'd rate him slightly better than Pagnozzi.
Robbins should see the ML level soon- he's a good setup guy from the left side.

Setting Up A Dynasty

There are several factors in setting up a dynasty team in HBD. Everyone of them is as important as the next in many cases. Many owners scratch their heads because they know they have a good team and just can't win. What they are missing and how to correct it can be the most frustrating thing there is. And what I am about to demonstrate may or may not help, but at least it is a start. Many of the problems can be discovered by looking at team statistics which is a good way to begin. How to solve everything from there is not always the easiest.

The first step at examining a team should start with the ball park itself. The reason is the players abilities must match the stadium to be successful because you play 81 games there. If you can't win at home, you are not going to win in the playoffs or even go to the playoffs for that matter. I will use Cashman Field as an example, its stats are:

1B: -2
2B: -2
3B: -2
LF: 0
RF: 0

What does that actually mean? It means that hits can be hard to come by and Home Runs are more common. How it equates to the players is not that easy as some would believe. I have always had a pure power hitting team because that is what I was given at the start, but that hurts more than it helps sometimes.

Defense: It doesn't matter what park you are in, the players defensive skills need to be as close to the set elite standards as possible to be successful. Defense actually helps the pitching staff more than most think. If you have a good defense you don't commit as many errors although you probably may not turn as many double plays. But if your pitching staff walks a lot of batters the double play is a value. Players are going to commit errors regardless of how good they are especially the infield. That is something that is real world inherent and has been factored in, the SS position especially followed by 2B and CF. However to determine whether the player is good defensively one only needs to check his error rate and plus and minus plays. Age can play a factor also, so keep that in mind. Another piece to the situation that will not show up anywhere in the reports are short range players. A short range player with a good glove may not commit errors especially at 2B, it is just that he doesn't get to the ball and allows singles to get through.

Hitting: Although Cashman Field is considered a neutral Home Run park, it can be considered a pitcher friendly park also as opposed to a neutral park. To be successful is simple at Cashman Field, be able to hit the long ball against the opponents. What is wrong with my team and I have struggled to find the right players to fill that hole is left handed hitters or switch hitters. If you don't have power hitters, high eye and splits is more desired in the top tow slots and low eye and and high splits and contact for the last slots is more desired. Since hits are hard to come by at Cashman Field it is hard to come up with the right non power hitters.

Pitching: Above all else the pitching staff is the one that will help win games. Finding the ones that fit the park and parks that you visit is probably the toughest thing you will face. I have yet to come up with a definitive answer saying this pitcher will be good in this park and not that one. Sometimes it defies logic at how they perform at any given time. After the CY Young types, the best solution is to find what works best for your team. No one knows how a pitcher is going to perform every time out. He could be great one game and abysmal the next. OVR doesn't help either as a 55 OVR relief pitcher can be just as good as a 65. I tend to favor GB pitchers with good splits, especially vsR, and high control with two good pitches. Of course those abilities go hand in hand with my park. That is not saying another type of pitcher will work just as well. If a pitcher goes to a hitters park I wouldn't put much emphasis on his performance there by the way unless of course he shuts the team down. They say velocity allows a pitcher to have more strike outs, but then the drawback to that is he may give up more home runs. FB pitchers can keep the ball in the park also, but his other ratings has got to be good also and I would probably say low velocity pitchers would fair better in this realm. The low split pitchers that have good to great ratings in the other areas, can they be as good. My feeling is that they can, as long as there is a defense to go with them.

Lets examine my team and see how they stack up on offense/defense.

Carlos Aguilar - His defensive rating limits him to 1B and LF and should have very few errors and plus plays at 1B. His offensive ratings puts him batting in the number 2 slot, however with his speed makes him a number 1 slot guy. Although I am not that keen on him batting in the 1 slot, I don't have much choice.

Emmett Yearwood - His defensive rating better suits him to corner outfield as his range leaves a little to be desired at CF and 2B and will have hits to L and R CF along with some errors and minus plays, home field helps. Offensively he can bat just about anywhere in the lineup except slot 1.

Jeremy Glover - His defensive rating better suits him to corner outfield as his range leaves a little to be desired, will give up some singles RCF at 2B and some erros and minus plays. Offensively he is best suited for the number 1 slot but his power is too great for there, so slot 3 or higher is better.

Wally Harvey - His current defensive ratings make him a great corner outfielder at this time and as he grows will inherit the 3B position. Offensively he is best suited for the 3 thru 6 slot.

Clarence Hartman - His defensive ratings makes him nothing but a DH or emergency catcher. Hitting wise is a powerhouse and puts him in slot 4, 5 or 6.

William Nomo - His defensive ratings make him marginal at 3B at best and better suited for corner outfield. Offensively he would be a powerhouse if his contact was much better. Too slow and powerful for the 1 and 2 slot, better in slot 3 or 6+ to protect the real powerhouses. My theory is that it would take a disciplined hitting coach to make him a real walk/home run threat.

Al Carrasco - His defensive ratings make him a great corner outfielder. Offensively he makes a good late slot hitter.

F.P. Saipe - His defensive ratings suggest a glod glove SS when he attains the projections. Though a little short and young at the moment his error rate will be acceptable. Late in the batting order as he can surprise occaisionally.

Mendy Sung - His defensive ratings are great for a catcher. Hitting is not so hot, so last in the order.

Joaquin Valentin - His defensive ratings are pretty good for a catcher and his PC overrides his short arm. Coupled with a short range 2B does cause problems for him. Offensively strikes out a lot but still makes a good starter or backup.

Ronnie Brown - His defensive rating makes him a great SS or CF. Offensively will be s0-so. But is young and should be a great backup at either position.

Louie Mercado - His defensive ratings make him a decent enough corner outfielder. Ofensively he will be so-so.

As can be seen here I have a pretty good offensive unit. I also have a good defensive unit although it could be better. Future needs as to what I should draft is dictated by what is available in the farm system.

C: Is needed as minor is weak.
1B: Not that important as it is the easiest position to fill with power normally.
2B: Defensively I have a couple in the minors with defense but none with power.
3B: Defensively I have a couple in the minors and good hitters but not real power.
SS: Defensively I have a couple in the minors but none in the real hitting department, but I put emphasis on defense more than hitting at this position.
CF: Defensively I am short in the minors in all reality as the best are SS.
RF: Defensively and hitting wise I have several and not an improtant position unless their is a real power guy.
LF: Defensively and hitting wise I have several and not an improtant position unless their is a real power guy.

Draft Analysis: It depends on who and what might be available at my draft position (1st round) on offense/defense. A first round catcher is normally just a DH, but if there is one that is both I will take him in a heartbeat as he probably won't be there in the 2nd. A power defensive 2B/CF/SS would be my next choice but they go early.

Now we will examine my pitching staff.

Louie Martin - Great control, great splits, 1 good pitch and 2 decent pitches, velocity and mostly GB. A good fit to most parks.

Anthony Hall - Control a little weak, good splits for a lefty, pure GB, 2 good pitches, 1 decent pitch +1, velocity low. Will strike his share but walk a few also. Will give up occasional HR but not real bad because of control.

Ernest Lee - Good control, good splits, moslty GB, 3 good pitches +1, velocity low. In essence I think he is a good pitcher, but upon close examination the order of his pitches is awkward and I think this leads to problems regardless of what they say.

Buster Charles - Super control, decent splits, mostly GB, 1 great pitch, 2 good pitches +1, good velocity. Even with the low end splits, the pitches and control makes up for it.

Billy Nation - Good control, good splits, 2 good pitches +3, low velocity, split FB/GB. Being so young he should still be in the minors, he came with the team and was at AAA where he was stagnating. He will get much better as he gets older. He didn't work out well in the pen at the end of last season call up last year and I am hoping he can hold his own this year.

Long Relief:
Bob Delaney - Great control, good splits, 3 good pitches, mostly GB, low velocity. Will actually get better. This is one the ratings show one thing and the stats show another, it could be his age or that bad 4th pitch.

Rob Rehfield - Decent control, good splits, mostly GB, lower velocity, 3 pitches. Although not the greatest pitcher in the world, can get you into the 7th inning when called upon out of the pen limiting damage.

Steve Elster - Decent control, great splits, GB/FB split, good velocity, 1 great pitch, 1 good pitch. Not enough pitches to be an effective starter but does well out of the pen.

Coco Hines - Super control, super splits, decent velocity, 1 great pitch, 1 decent pitch, split GB/FB. Lot of people may think he needs to be a closer and maybe he will one day as he has room to grow yet. But for now will be a primary setup man.

Luther Stanley - Good control, somewhat decent splits, good velocity, mostly GB, 1 good pitch, 1 decent pitch. This is an odd guy to have in this position. Matter of fact he is almost a long shot at being on staff, too young to start with. He was a call up last year when a pitcher went on the DL and no one else was ready at the time. He showed a knack in the late innings and I kept him on. So far it has paid good dividends.

Gerald Thompson - Good control, decent splits, high velocity, split GB/FB, 2 good pitches. Was the FOY in season 1, how I don't know. Last season he was ugly for most of the season. Has been a bit erratic this year but under control at least. Will get somewhat better, but it is doubtful he will be dominate again.

Juan Mendoza - Great control, low splits, mostly GB, high velocity, 2 good pitches. Not used often, but comes out of the pen to get a key out or two when needed. He is another that is here more by accident than ability but actually does a decent enough job to stay.

Dave Stewart - Super control, great splits, low velocity, mostly GB, 2 great pitches. The ideal closer almost. Does a pretty good job, though a high velocity might be more desirable.

Draft Analysis: The farm system really doesn't reveal much in potential help to the ML club in the near future. There are some definite possibilities for the pen however.

With the draft looming I must decide what is needed the most as there may be possibilities of getting at least 3 players or more to fill a void in the future. Whether it be pitching, a catcher or a defensive power guy that can help. I have the 15th and 43rd pick in the first round and 65th in the 2nd round. I should get three future ML players.

Ok, went and redid my draft one last time this morning. I had to set up another world and noticed something I had not seen before, or if I did never paid attention and wanted to see if it held true, which it did.

Here is how I set up my draft and I don't recommend it, just works for me and takes about an hour. I set the parameters for 25 any picks and 0 targets with 5's in weight except for DH which I give a zero (means I do not want to consider any). Rating threshold set to "None" and I run "Very Conservative". The first thing I do is pull up the top 100 and look at the projected health rating and move anyone with 65 or lower to the bottom. After doing that I go to the projected Pitcher Ratings and all pitchers to take out all the ones with control below 50 and durability issues. Next I look at the bios and take out any "Won't sign" and "Other Sport" ones. I don't want a hold out on those types. The "May sign", "1st round only" and "1 thru 5" ones I look at to see if the 'iffy' is worth keeping. If "Very Conservative" they will sign 85% of the time or better. Then I check the top 25 and make adjustments if I see someone that really fills a need, normally just the top 10 unless I am drafting late then one needs to examine the pitchers closely. After I get the top 100 done I go looking by position to see if there is someone I like that would go in the late rounds and bring him forward some, like into the top 100. Like a defensive specialist. I also check out relief pitchers. After all that I look at the pitchers in the top 100 more closely and move some out, like those with bad splits or bad pitches. Then I look at catchers heavily and may move some of them out also as I like defensive ones regardless of how they hit. I usually look at 2B, SS and CF to move forward last, then I check the health, pitcher control and durability of the top 200 and move the bad ones to the bottom. The reason is I might get a good late round pick, but I don't want a DL inhabitant. The real late rounders I don't worry about much as about the only chance to move past High A is by DITR.

Now for who I will draft, at 15 I should get a top 10 off my board. I don't see my first 3 being available at all, 4 and 5 is an outside chance. The next 3 are iffy and if I get one, that could be bad. Normally I would move guys up to forestall this problem, but this time the guys behind are not good enough in my estimation to move forward.

The draft was a bit surprising really as I got 3 of my top 25. More surprising was I got my #3 guy, the supplemental wasn't all that great, but the gut in second gave me two good 2B/CF so I am pleased. Made a mistake as I moved the RF's out and forgot the LF's and 1B's and didn''t move the catcher up far enough.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Team Play Rankings

TBDSN- This can be construed as Power Rankings if so desired, but has nothing to do with the standings, only play on the field. So, if the team with the best record is not number 1 then there must be something my formula doesn't like and based at the 42 game mark. The points accrued is in parenthesis.


1. Milwaukee Manic Maulers (29)
Defense is a problem that hurts the pitching somewhat.
Louisville Legends (35)
Hitting and defense, pitching is so-so at this time.
Las Vegas Gamblers (35)
Power hitting, defense and pitching that gives up some hits but not runs
Monterrey Sultans (42)
Decent hitting and defense helps a decent pitching staff.
Seattle Killer Whales (44)
Great pitching, good defense, anemic hitting, a sign of the home field.
Syracuse Slyce (47)
Good hitting, defense doesn't help mediocre pitching staff.
Iowa City Cornjerkers (49)
Anemic hitting, decent fielding, pitching doens't give up hits but the other team scores, another sign that it could be home field.
Nashville Sounds (57)
Good fielding, poor pitching, and something odd in the hitting realm..walks?
Toledo Greensox (57)
Defense and hitting helps a poor pitching staff.
New York new york (57)
Decent hitting, decent pitching, defense hurts big time.
Huntington Beachcombers (57)
The can hit, did I mention they can hit?
Anaheim Chiles (58)
Pitching is good but it stops there.
Charlotte Blue Devils (58)
Pitching has gotten it going, now for the rest to follow suit.
St. Louis Silly Nannies (60)
Defense, not much else to report.
Colorado Springs Chickens (62)
A hit for average team and plays good defense, but the pitching needs help.
Jackson Vipers (69)
The pitching needs help from hitting and defense.


Fargo Dirtbags (34)
Pitching and defense, if the hitting gets better, look out.
Toronto Toros (34)
Great hitting, good pitching, the defense has got to get better.
Trenton Traffic (35)
Great hitting, good pitching and good defense, but it looks like the pitching may give up hits in clumps.
Arizona Diamondbacks (39)
Good hitting and defense, a lackluster pitching staff at the moment.
Houston Riverdogs (41)
Great pitching and defense, need hitting help
San Juan Dead Bunnies (43)
A good middle of the road team.
Chicago Snake Tamers (44)
Defense hurts a good staff that the offense can't make all the time.
Salem Sacrifices (47)
Pitching could be a problems, as defense bails them out, hitting needs help
Scottsdale SLAMMERS (49)
Great pitching and defense, anemic in the hit department.
Salt Lake City Shakers (55)
Defense and lackluster performance everywhere else
. Atlanta Bandits (61)
Pitching staff doesn't give up many hits, but when they do the other team scores and the lack of offense doesn't help their cause.
Norfolk Destroyers (62)
We can hit..did I mention we can hit?
Philadelphia Phantoms (62)
Hitting we will go ,,,what is defense and pitching?
Austin City Limits (68)
We can field, just not much else at the moment.
Washington D.C. Blue Coats (69)
We can hit some, but not much else.
New Orleans Voodoo (75)
Cursed, I tell ya! We are cursed!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Who's Hot, Who's Not

We're at the 40 game mark, so it's time for another installment of Who's Hot, Who's Not.


Who's Hot: Las Vegas Gamblers

Record: Las Vegas is an AL best 14-6 in their last 20.

How: Pitching. They're giving up 3.6 runs per game. The offense has been there all season, but the pitching has taken this team to another level.

Key Series: The 3 game sweep at home against the defending AL East Champion Louisville squad. They gave up 8 runs in 3 games to a very good Louisville offense.

Upcoming: Three tough series with the best the AL South has to offer: the last 3 in a 4 game set at Monterrey, 3 at Iowa City, and then the Sultans return the favor with 3 at Vegas.

Also Hot:

Milwaukee continues to distance itself from the rest of the AL North, going 13-8 in their last 21.

When we last checked in, Charlotte was in last place at 9-11. They went 12-8 in the last 20 to not only improve to 21-19, they're now tied for 1st in the AL East.

Colorado Springs has put itself solidly in second place in the west by going 13-8 after a 9-10 start.

Who's Not: Huntington Beachcombers

Record: In first place for the first edition of this column, the Beachcombers now occupy the cellar after a 6-14 record in the last 20.

How: Close games. They've played 8 one-run games in their last 20 and they are 2-6 in those games.

Key series: 3 game sweep at the hands of St. Louis. The Silly Nannies have the worst record in the AL and beat Huntington 3 in a row, the last 2 by (you guessed it) one run.

Upcoming: The last 3 out of 4 in Iowa City, followed by 3 at home against Milwaukee, and then at a hot Colorado Springs team for 3 constitute the next 9 games. Not an easy schedule by any means.

Also Not Hot:

St. Louis took 3 from Huntington and played Monterrey to nearly a standstill (3-4 over a 7 game set), but still only went 8-13 in the last 21 games.

Toledo and Syracuse both went 8-12 in the last 20. Milwaukee has a 9 game lead already.

New York had to win their last 3 to go 9-12 over the last 21. Otherwise it would have been worse.


Who's Hot: Fargo and Chicago

Records: They've lost the fewest games in this part of the schedule, Chicago going 14-6 and Fargo going 15-6.

How: Any surprise? Chicago leads the NL in runs scored, Fargo leads the NL in fewest runs allowed. As we expected.

Key Series: For Chicago, none, really. What they did was they were solid against the good teams they played (2-1 against Houston, 4-3 against Trenton), and beat up on the lesser teams (3 game sweeps against Austin and Atlanta). Fargo gave up 7 runs total in a 4 game sweep at Houston as their key series.

Upcoming: Chicago has 13 of their next 20 against Salem and Arizona, so it doesn't get much easier. Fargo's got series with Trenton, Norfolk, and Arizona in the next 20; they also have 7 with Austin (they'll need to really beat up on Austin to make up ground on Chicago, but Austin's playing fairly well righy now) and Salt Lake City on the schedule.

Also Hot:

Toronto is 14-7 while trying to keep pace in the crazy NL North. Last time I put an entire division in here (NL West)- why not do it again? Even last season's doormat, Philadelphia, managed a 10-10 record over 20 games, so I hereby put the NL North division in its entirety in the hot column.

Norfolk has closed the gap on Trenton in the East by going 12-8.

Austin has made more trades in the last few days than the average professional stockbroker and still managed to go 12-8.

Scottsdale is also 12-8 and is still in first place, much to the chagrin of fans in Oregon and Arizona.

Who's Not: Washington D.C. Blue Coats

Record: Yes, I know they weren't expected to contend. Yes, I know they're rebuilding. (Note: Atlanta fans may want to stop reading now) Yes, I know they're not even in last place in their division. But they did go 4-17 in their last 21, solidifying this spot for them.

How: Pitching. They're yielding a shade under 6.5 runs a game over this 21 game stretch. Their offense has been decent, but just can't keep up.

Key series: 2 series in a row, actually. They played the likes of Arizona, Toronto, and Fargo in this stretch, and they just can't keep up with the big boys of the NL. But the last 7 were against Philadelphia and Austin, a last place team and a 3rd place team, respectively. They only won 1 of the 7, losing 3 of 4 to Philadelphia (actually pitching decently in that series and just not scoring enough runs), and getting swept by Austin (giving up 7 runs a game in that series).

Upcoming: 13 of the next 20 are against Salt Lake City and New Orleans, both of whom are in last place in their divisions. Whether or not this team is respectable this season may depend on those 13 games.

Also Not Hot:

Atlanta was better than in the first 19 (they'd almost have to be), but still only went 7-14. They're currently 10-30.

Salt Lake City went 8-13 to establish themselves in last place out West.

San Juan went 9-12 to lose the lead in the South.

New Orleans went 8-12 to take the basement in the aforementioned South.

The Draft Soon Approaches

This is for the newbies more than anything but could be informative for the more experienced. The Amateur Draft board will appear with 500 hopefuls contained therein. Not everybody's board will look the same as there are 1000+ players total in the draft and I am not sure that everyone sees them all. The first thing you will want to do is look at the Amateur Draft Settings page and become familiar with it. If you have a question don't forget to ask for help. You can play with the the settings and it will realign the players in the pool to those wishes. One thing to note about the settings page, any time you have ranked the players manually then change your settings page it will rearrange the draft pool again and you will need to re-rank the players again. Another research tool you can do is look at the draft history for previous seasons which can be found under the World Office and Reports. This can give you a clue as to how much a draftee will cost by draft position.

The target count is how many of that position you want to draft, I will not guarantee that is how many that will get drafted at that position. The weight determines how much emphasis at that position is desired. Basically what it does is resets your pool with more of that position being pulled forward. In other words it could bring a 67 OVR player into the mix and be placed over a 70 OVR or better players. I may be wrong, but when drafting, it also may check the weight and take an equally rated player with a higher weight over the next one on the board as long as it meets your targets. The Player Type can be useful in finding a specific type of player at a position but I rarely use it for the actual draft.

The "any" target becomes useful when the next player on your board does not meet any of the other targets but is ranked higher than the targeted players and there are no equally weighted targeted players(in regards to OVR). This is where the Rating Threshold can come into play.

The trickiest thing I have ever seen is the Rating Threshold and their explanation. If you have set up your players manually, then this should be irrelevant and set to None or zero, because you would want to take the best player on the board in your eyes. However used in conjunction with the "any" and targeted players it does become a factor, so think about how you would want it set. Do you want to take the better player ( and I use that loosely since it is OVR) or continue with a player that meets your target that might be next or further down the board?

How you set up your draft should meet your future needs and the direction you wish to take your team. The first 5 rounds is the most critical (well in my view anyway) as these players have the best chance of making the ML club. Some things to be warned about is in the Bio of the players and their meaning and the signing risk level. If in the Bio, it has anything other than "Will sign for slot money" he becomes a risk and may not sign. If it says "He may not sign" or "Probably won't sign", I don't even take a chance and put him at the end of the queue. I always run the "Very Conservative" approach for every round, but that is me and I am not recommending it, but I do recommend it for the first round and supplemental at least. That way if one of the other types are drafted, I know he will more than likely sign, it might take most of the rest the season, but he will sign. The worst one I had, he held out till 10 games to go in the Rookie League, but I digress. I also stay away from the ones that would rather play another sport.

If you drafted an "Iffy" pick, chances are he will sign if you were Very Conservative in the approach as stated before. Only give him the amount he requested and let it sit and don't spend the money, he may come back and want more before he signs, not always. HS players may want an outrageous amount, especially the big "Blue Chippers" that have scholarships on the table or want to be drafted in the first round so be warned. College players that want to be drafted in the first round can be costly also, so beware again. I don't up the ante to tempt these guys except with a ST invite. If they are really expected to be good I might offer a 3 to 5 year Big League contract but I still don't raise the bonus ante until they request it. If the agent replies with "content with your offer", let it sit. That is the only reply you will get even if you raise the offer. Be patient. There are some others, some are just waiting for others to sign to see how much they can get....the NFL way I think is where that comes form.

When ranking your players, take heed to all the various info you can get. Remember the players in the pool are rated as the scouts see them and how much you spent on scouting. Which means that the numbers can be skewed a little (or a lot depending) after you draft them. Some things to be aware of...HEALTH, defense, position, splits, control, durability, makeup. Make sure you check out the players fully, especially the big first rounders. Remember, just because he doesn't have the skill set for the drafted position, does he have it for another that makes him just as valuable.

After you sign your players, I would put them in the Rookie League for the first 25 to 30 games. If your first rounder(s) show good quality then promote them 1 level for at least another 25 to 30 games before advancing them again. Last stop could be AA when the season ends which is a good place to begin his second season if he warrants it.

Norfolk inks IFA

TBDSN - Norfolk Destroyers signed Del Hernandez to a 3 year MLB contract in excess of 10.8M. Hernandez is a pseudo 2B with high contact and power, his eye and splits will complement his batting stance against left handed pitching. Plans for the young star is not immediately known except that he was shipped to Low A to begin his career. Beaming GM aginor more or less said "Lets see what the kid has before we make any final plans for his future at this time".

Sneaking under the lime-light was the deal that tj01536 of the Huntington Beachcombers made for Ivan Hernandez the other day. Ivan is a left handed pitcher from San Cristobal, DO. His control and pitches will leave batters in amazement even his weak split right handed opponents. Assigned to High A and has made three quality starts but has not had a decision in any of his forays. For 15.8M could be a future bargain.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Retrospect - A Teaching Tool

Last year the Gamblers struggled to a lack luster season. I for one was frustrated with their performance especially early, although the rest of the league enjoyed it. What made the team go from a feared team to an also-ran in the second season? Was it hitting? Was it pitching? A combination? Was the trade of Tucker at the beginning of the season a mistake? Was the FA signing of Huff not such a great idea? Why wasn't the team hitting? Did I give up on players too soon? I think I can answer those questions now.

To start off the reason for the Tucker exodus was three fold. The first was his salary, although a very good pitcher in most peoples estimation and probably worth every penny. He was sort of an aging vet with somewhat of a health risk. The year before he struggled in the dog days. The third reason was his GB/FB ratio. The biggest reason was his salary though. The biggest mistake was trading Doc Buhner as he was the best pitcher on my staff but I doubt seriously that he could have saved the day.

I signed FA Abdullah Huff to play 1B in the off season. I was looking for a left handed slap hitter that could hit right handed pitchers or walk and his abilities matched what I was looking for.

I had everything in place that I wanted, so all of a sudden everything went wrong. The team struggled even at the beginning and that maintained throughout the season. No one was hitting and the pitching was even worse. Thompson was seasons 1 FOY and his pitching was abysmal and adventuresome to say the least (as one reporter put it). Nothing I tried worked. What was wrong I couldn't put my finger on. I shuffled Huff off to AAA, Harding off to AA and brought up Lee and Mercado. Then Denny Moss was put on the DL. That is when the team started winning. They made it to within .500 three or four times, just enough to make me think they were gonna make a run and then go on a slide. And the slide coincided with Moss coming back from the DL and Moss leaving. What was I to think, he wasn't hitting, he wasn't fielding, a health risk and the team was doing better without him in the lineup. So I traded him. I juggled the lineups trying to find a good fit and that didn't work. Worked on the pitching, nothing worked.

Basically I was scratching my head thinking the other teams had actually gotten so much better after season 1 that my team wasn't any good at all and needed to retool. The problem was actually keeping me up at night trying to figure out what went wrong and what to do to fix the problem. In the off season I delved through the reports looking for any answers or clues at all and believe it or not, couldn't find one that I hadn't tried correcting to some extent. It was almost to the point I was blaming the coaching staff for the dismal season.

The answer didn't hit me till I was about to click on an offer to the first FA find this off season. It was like out of the blue I needed to check on a couple things and it was a life saver. First I needed to bolster my pen foremost. I did that with two long relievers/starters, Rehfield and Delaney and I got them cheap. If you look at them their abilities aren't all that great. But they have a couple things in common. The have good control, splits and decent pitches but above all GB. So now I have the pen fixed I hope.

Now it is off to find the fix for the offense. That is one of the reasons I had initially tried to trade Hartman was to fix the offense and pen. I was really going to except the second offer that I got and decided not to as I found the answer to the problem and had it the whole time. I had brought
F.P. Saipe up last year to play SS after Moss went bye bye and did a decent job although his hitting isn't the greatest. I found Ronnie Brown just hanging out in AA, I really doubt he would have thought to find his way to a ML roster. What was so great about these two? They both can play SS and CF, matter of fact they can play anywhere a big plus.

So what was the problem in the end? Moss for one, although a plate monster he wasn't hitting well. Was that a WIS sign that he was hurting, do they play 10 to 12 games hurt before they get injured? That I don't know, but have seen it a few times after paying close attention, but how would you know for sure until it happens? Another thing about Moss is his fielding, mfoster and I have discussed it at length and neither one of us have figured out why he commits so many errors. Could it be his age? Still the numbers are there to be more proficient than he is. So Moss is gone and two players that can field are on the team that actually hold their own hitting wise as expected and the defensive problem is solved and team chemistry looks good. Another problem was using Hartman for a catcher when I had a better one in AAA. Pitchers that had more of a FB tendency for another instead of using GB as a strength. And had to cut down on the error problem.

As for Huff and Harding I have that problem solved also. Neither one of them performed as I had expected or so I thought. Upon close examination it was a mistake to give up on them. It wasn't that they are bad players, just the opposite. It was how I was trying to use them, some times my logic and their abilities don't match and this was the case. You have to put them into a situation where they will succeed. For Huff, he can't be used at his home park for where I wanted to use him and that limits him to away games in certain parks. He is actually better suited for a different team. The same can also be said of Harding. But I have plans for Harding this season so I am not going to trade him. Huff on the other hand is available.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Lone Star State Deal

Our two Texas teams, the Houston Riverdogs and the Austin City Limits, have agreed to a deal.

Houston gets: 3B Monte Duvall (AAA)
Austin gets: Rich Gibson (AAA), C Hiram Spoonybarger (AA)

Analysis: Not too often a deal without any major league players gets up here on the blog, but this could turn out to be a pretty big deal down the road. Duvall came in at #61 on the top 100 prospects list but could turn out to be a superstar down the road- he's got great power, good speed, and is a good defender. Gibson appears to be a #3 or #4 type pitcher in the majors with decent stuff and who can eat innings- not a superstar, $10 million a year type pitcher, but a solid rotation filler that every team needs. Spooneybarger is the #79 overall prospect and was rated as the 5th best minor league catcher. Along with being an all-name team candidate, he's got considerable power and will be good defensively. It will be interesting to see what happens when both he and last season's 1st round pick C Sam Brumfield are both ready (unless one of them is dealt prior to that). I think Houston may have the slight edge in this deal, although it's fairly close and only time will really tell.

In addition to this deal, word is a massive deal involving one of these two teams is forthcoming. Reports out of Austin have pitchers Jason Sprague and Eduardo Moya going to New York in a 12-player deal. Since the deal still needs league approval, the deal is still unofficial and there has been no word coming out of New York on the matter. An Austin team official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, stated the team expects Sprague and Moya to be in New York within the next few days.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Arms moving out of Austin?

It seems that a few pitchers, at the very least, could find themselves leaving Austin soon. An unidentified team source did confirm that the team club is in "substantial and ongoing" conversations with several teams regarding trades that could be deemed fairly major deals. When pressed, the official would only add, "Nothing is agreed to, and our fans can rest assured that management will take no steps without judicious regard for both the present and future of the City Limits franchise".

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Who's Hot, Who's Not

Hoping to make this a regular part of the blog at each 20 game stretch or so. We'll start with the first 20 games.


Who's Hot: Milwaukee Manic Maulers

Record: The M and M boys are 15-4 in their first 19 games.

How: Offense and Pitching. They have the balance- no team has scored more runs and no AL team has given up fewer. Pretty easy formula for winning big.

Key Series: Two series, actually- sweeping both the Syracuse Slyce and the Toledo Greensox. These are the two teams that have some hope of contending in the AL North, but Milwaukee is 6-0 against them. They outscored Toledo 40-6. The only negative so far was losing 2 out of 3 in Monterrey, which may mean they're not over last season's epic 7-game ALCS battle.

Upcoming: 14 of the next 20 are on the road, including a 10-game trip at Louisville, Huntington, and Iowa City.

Also Hot:
Iowa City has the second best record in the AL at 12-7. Tiny Mayne has 5 wins in relief and Wendell Durrington is hitting .380.

Las Vegas leads the AL West at 12-8. Wally Harvey has 8 homers and 19 RBIs.

Who's Not: Monterrey Sultans

Record: The defending champs are 8-11 in their first 19.

How: Offense. Their deep lineup has scored the fewest runs in the AL thus far. The team lead for RBIs thus far is 9.

Key Series: Losing 3 out of 4 at Iowa City to start the season set the tone. They scored 3 runs in the first 3 games (all losses) before taking the last game 8-2.

Upcoming: They have 4 games with Colorado Springs, 3 games with a struggling Anaheim squad, and 7 games against St. Louis in the next 20, so they could start to make up some ground.

Also Not Hot:

Nashville could have stepped into the void left by Monterrey and distanced themselves a little bit from the Sultans, but they're 9-11. They've scored more runs than any team in the AL not named Milwaukee, but they're 4th worst in the AL in giving up runs.

Anaheim has opened their defense of the AL West crown by going 8-12. They're 3rd worst in runs allowed in the AL.


Who's Hot: Trenton Traffic

Record: The roller-coaster ride continues for Traffic fans continues- after last season's epic collapse they've rebounded to start the season 15-5.

How: Pitching. They've always had the offense, but so far the pitching has been on par with the offense. They're 3rd best in runs allowed (tied with Fargo, but Fargo has played one fewer game) and is only behind the juggernaut Chicago offense in runs scored.

Key Series: 4 game sweep at Norfolk to start the season. They outcored the Destroyers 26-8 in that series, holding a good Norfolk offense to 1 run in 3 out of the 4 games.

Upcoming: They go on the road for 10 against New Orleans, Toronto, and Chicago followed by Fargo and Chicago at home, so it's very likely that they fall back to Earth a little bit- this is a tough stretch of games for the Traffic.

Also Hot:

The Scottsdale Slammers won 64 games last season, and they lead the NL West at 13-7. While I'm at it, I'll pick the entire NL West, as all 4 teams are above .500.

The Chicago Snake Tamers lead the NL North at 12-8. They're scoring a full run a game more than any NL team besides Trenton.

San Juan leads the South at 12-7 scoring the 4th most runs in the NL and giving up one fewer run than Fargo.

Who's Not: Atlanta Bandits

Record: The reigning NL East champs have started out an abysmal 3-16.

How: Offense. They're scoring about 2 1/2 runs a game, which is downright anemic. Their pitching is middle of the pack, but they just can't score for their pitchers.

Key Series: Losing 4 straight to Washington D.C. to start the season. A series between the defending division champs and a team expected to be an also-ran should be one-sided. It was- for the wrong team. Their pitching was the culprit in that series, surrendering 26 runs.

Upcoming: The next 7 are against Fargo and Chicago, so it could very well get worse before it gets better. Don't expect them to be this bad all season, however.

Also Not Hot:

Both teams in last season's World Series are below .500. The Fargo Dirtbags are 9-10 and scoring less than 4 runs a game.

New Orleans is 8-12 and is giving up almost 6 1/2 runs a game.

Simpson hits for cycle

Chicago Snake Tamer star player Sean Simpson hit for the cycle in a recent game in Toronto. He hit a 2-run homer in the first inning, an RBI triple in the 3rd, a double in the 7th, and a single in the 9th to complete the cycle. In addition to the cycle, he also hit a solo homer in the 5th for good measure to finish the night 5 for 5 with 4 RBIs. The Snake Tamers beat the Toros 7-2.


This mornings discussion has led to some interesting points and an interesting topic for discussion. For one, the simulation of the plays is to the players actual ability. To know a players actual ability, you need to spend 20M in advance scouting. I for one can't see spending 20M in advanced scouting and cut corners a bit at 18. However, using Darren Dessens as an example will try to explain this mess. He is a 22 year old SS with range = 82, glove = 82, arm = 91, 85 (as I see him). The recommended stats for an "elite" defensive SS are range = 80, glove =85, arm = 85, 85. As for Dessens, he will grow into an "elite" defensive SS soon. As you can tell, his range is above recommended as I see him at 18 and probably at 20 also. His glove however is 3 points below and at 20 may be 4, so he will occasionally boot that routine ground ball. As for his arm, the accuracy could be below by a point or so, as for that, you would have to know where he was throwing from on the field to determine why he is missing 2B. I would say if he is deep in the hole and had to throw quickly, he could miss 2B but that is about it. Another thing that could happen for that throw is the 2B himself. Is his range under recommended, what about his glove, would the play be classified as a "bang bang" play?

So many things to consider and there is even more. Where do coaches fall into this mess? Many of you would say "what does that have to do with it?". But if one thinks about it, could have many possibilities. If training and discipline fall into his decision on whether to make the throw or not. If he was taught to make the throw the 2B will be there, since he is young he would make the throw. Or in another scenario he would hold the ball for an infield hit because he made the decision that the 2B wouldn't be there in time. Now, by looking at the coaches for said team I am a bit split in the situation and how it may be handled. If you look at the FI, I would say he makes the throw. If you look at the Bench coach, he may or may not make the throw. If you look at the Hitting coach, he may or may not make the throw.

The part about coaches is a closely guarded secret from everything that I have read except they have no "in sim" action unless you get thrown out of the game and the bench coach takes over. However, coaches train the players. So the players will react in any situation as to how they were trained IMHO.

This is purely speculative on my part. If the FI has high patience and discipline, I would say the ball would be held because he would check the whereabouts of the 2B. Now why did I go from FI to Bench to Hitting? The FI is suppose to train ALL players in the art of fielding. Can he be in all 6 places at once? If he is, I sure don't want his job at all and he doesn't get paid enough. So, I would think the secondary action of fielding would fall to the Bench coach. That is unless, the Hitting coach or others are higher rated in the art of fielding. Since I have noticed each year that coaches tend to gain points in the major areas, I would say the FI actually trains the other coaches and the training of players comes from that. I have noticed a correlation between the coaches and the points garnered each season to justify saying that. In simple terms, the FI trains the coaches in fielding and the coaches feed off each other depending how good they are to garner points and advancement in all the other major areas.

One last thing, since Dessens is a SS, errors are inherent to that position regardless of how good they are (and that fact has been largely publicized). I would also say that any player regardless of their stats could make an error from time to time as in real life. If you have one that is making a lot of errors at a position and the stats don't justify it, then that is another story.

Monday, August 18, 2008

State of the AL West after Divison Open Round

Las Vegas Gamblers - Opening in Anaheim is tough and after the first two games, both one run loses, had me wondering if last season was repeating itself. Then the bats woke up, downing the Chiles in the next two. Then a three game stop over in Colorado Springs and another one run loss to open the series left me wondering again. Once again the bats took care of business in the next two games. Home to the friendly confines of Cashman field where non division rival Charlotte came to town. The game was sold out, but travel fatigue may have been the cause of an opening night debacle that saw Charlotte ace Tony Howell pitch one of the best games of his career shutting us down offensively. I thought here we go again, home field problems, but the next two games saw crowd pleasing bravado. Now it was off to Seattle where I have my doubts that my offense can hit in that particular park. First game was a 11 inning affair that allowed us to escape with a one run win for a change, 2-1. Second game was more of the same with a 5-2 win, Carlos Aguilar was hurt, luckily only for a few days off. Third game was more of the same as another 4-3 small ball win against a tough team and Louis Mercado goes down with a 3 week injury.

Anaheim Chiles - Opening with the Gamblers is always a challenge but they had a surprise for their hated rival. Great first two games, wins by one run, a win is a win. Then the free souvenir shop opened in the stands to the displeasure of the fans the next two games. At least they finished 2-2 with them. Now for the Killer Whales coming to town. This could be interesting as scouting is kind of up in the air about this team. Ouch, maybe they are better than the Gamblers as the free souvenirs kept piling up. Off to Huntington, will be good to get out of town away from disgruntled fans. I just remembered, I hate going to this place. Got to find something that works after two more humiliating defeats. At last, a win to stop the slide. Now the long trip back home to face the Chickens. Great an opening win, maybe things are squared away. Well, game two took a turn for the worse as things went the Chickens way. Game three saw a big 3rd inning with long balls and a win.

Colorado Springs Chickens- Opening with the old Fighting Moose who are now the Seattle Killer Whales. They look tough but maybe the pitching can handle them. Pitching looks pretty good after eking out three wins. Oh boy, now the Gamblers come to town, won't the power parade ever end. Cool, eked out another win then the pitching got bounced around badly the next two games. Great, off to New York, we like the Big Apple. Wow, the BBQ wings sales are up in New York and the Chickens were plucked and fried the first two games but hen-pecked their way to a win in game three. Now to make the long trip to the other coast and face the reeling Chiles, hopefully that will see the win column go up. Oh no, the closer defiles himself in the 9th in the opening game of the series after the game was well in hand. No closer problems this time, but got to fix the late inning rally business. Third inning melt down seals a fateful loss of game three.

Seattle Killer Whales - Taking over a team that didn't know how to win could prove interesting and fun. Opening series with the Chickens in Colorado Springs should be a bell-weather of what this team can do. Got some things to analyze after losing three of four. Pitching was not all that bad, hitting was, well anemic. Changes for the next series for sure as they head to Anaheim. They got the hitting solved after the three game sweep of the Chiles. Now off to the homeland to face the Legends and one of last years best teams. Did they ever teach the kids something in those first two games. Don't think they were ready for Wild Mel in game, as their hitters looked like they were ducking and jumping at the plate. Gamblers come to town now, a power team should have problems here and that gives me a chance. Wow, the Gamblers got some good pitching and can play a little small ball of their own after that long 11 inning 2-1 loss to open the series. Pitching is not the problem, need to shore up the defense especially at 2B. Just when the pitching was doing great, the long ball spells doom in game 3.

The Gamblers have the division lead at the moment winning 8 of their last 10 and currently on a 5 game win streak.

The Chickens have pecked their way to 2nd place winning at home but troubles on the road.

The Killer Whales losing close ones at home but doing well on the road ties for the third spot.

The Chiles having problems at home still manages to stay in the hunt.

Major injury for the champs

The Monterrey Sultans lost a big part of their team when SS Sammy Castro went down with a hamstring tear. He tore it while trying to move to field a ground ball by Ray Buchanan in last night's game against Milwaukee. Castro is expected to be out around 4 months and hopes to be ready to go sometime after the All-Star Break. Castro had to be helped off the field and when asked about the injury, said "I'm in tremendous pain. Could you guys leave me alone, please?"

Sunday, August 17, 2008

IFA Inks Record Deal

TBDSN - Cantarski and the Atlanta Bandits fans had a reason to celebrate as they signed a "Blue Chip" IFA today for a record deal in excess of $23M. Fans were excited and appalled at the acquisition at the same time. Some rejoiced as they say he will one day be a CY Young candidate, some didn't delight in the amount spent on a maybe, some were split as his rumored arrogant attitude precedes him. What did the Bandits get for so much money? A mostly ground ball pitcher that can play 1B also if he could hit. But his skills as a pitcher is what made scouts and GM's go gaga. He has the Stamina and Control to easily go 9+ innings in an outing and the durability to recover in a 5 man rotation. Right handed hitter are not gonna be happy but a lefty might see a weak spot. His velocity is average unless he is throwing at reporters, fans or scouts then it is off the radar gun. Throws an exceptional fastball, a good slider, and has an average mix of curve ball, change up and split finger to keep hitters off balance. Was he worth the money remains to be seen.

I know my scouts saw him as a 95 OVR even with their weak investigating skills and their "beer goggle" eyes. The biggest difference noted though was the evaluation of his first 2 pitches, unlike when I signed Bennett who had a big difference in durability.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

No-hitter for New York

Young New York starter Perry Herman threw a no-hitter at Charlotte tonight. Herman no-hit the Blue Devils on 113 pitches, walking 2 and striking out 11. When asked about the special night, Herman said, " I was just looking to pitch better than the last start at Louisville. I felt great the whole time. I was just throwing whatever Russ (catcher Russell Clark) called- he was great". He said he wasn't thinking about the possibility of throwing a no-hitter until "maybe about the 7th". The New York squad beat the Blue Devils 5-0.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The champs begin season 3 and other notes

Some teams had to wait until tonight to open their seasons.


The Monterrey Sultans visited Iowa City to open their defense of the World Series. The Sultans only gave up 3 hits but fell to the Cornjerkers 2-1. An RBI single in the 8th by Ken DuBose broke a 1-1 tie and proved to be the decisive margin.

Milwaukee is trying to take their 3rd straight AL North title and probably has a bigger prize in mind for this season; they start their journey with a 4-3 win over the St. Louis Silly Nannies. Homer Treadway hit two solo homers for the Manic Maulers, the second coming in the 8th to break a 3-3 tie.

Louisville looks to win their 3rd straight division title as well, and they begin their quest with an 8-7 victory against the visiting New York New York. Louisville got all their runs in the 6th, highlighted by an Adam Campbell grand slam which was followed by a Cy Hughes solo shot.

The Killer Whales' first game ever in Seattle ended in a 3-1 defeat to the Colorado Spring Chickens. Big free-agent acquisition Ajax Drabek of the Whales was outdueled by rookie junkballer Marty Lane. Lane went the distance, giving up 1 run and allowing 7 hits.


The defending National League champion Fargo Dirtbags beat one of their rivals, the Toronto Toros, to open their season. Rico Valdez paid immediate dividends, as he singled in his first at-bat and scored on Greg Burkhart's home run. Cy Young winner Javier Henriquez gave up 3 runs in 7 1/3 innings, and the offense gave him just enough to win, as the Dirtbags took the game 4-3.

Houston is another team looking to win its 3rd straight division title- they opened with a 6-1 loss to San Juan. Wally Lawton was excellent for San Juan, going 7 innings and yielding only 3 hits and 1 run.

Salem lost its first game of the season to Salt Lake City 4-2. Edwards Pierre drove in 3 runs for the Shakers to drive the offense.

The former Philadelphia franchise, now in Washington, D.C., gets its first win in the nation's capital, beating the defending NL East champion Atlanta Bandits 6-2. The Blue Coats exploded for 4 runs in the 8th to break a 2-2 tie using 6 singles. Buzz Gaillard homered eariler in the victory.

Opening Day Highlights from Around the League

Here are some of the highlights from Opening Day:

James Dixon and Alex Vazquez hit consecutive RBI singles in the 8th as the defending AL West Champion Anaheim Chiles beat their rivals, the Las Vegas Gamblers, 2-1.

King Winn drove in 3 runs in his Nashville debut and Bud Klein also drove in 3 to power the Sounds to a 10-3 win over Jackson.

Daryl Cashman went 8 strong innings to lead Huntington to a 4-3 win over Charlotte. He gave up 2 runs and struck out 6 in the victory.

Toledo won a wild won against Syracuse 11-10. Jordan Ball was the offensive hero for Toledo, going 4 for 5 and driving in 4 runs.


Bernard Robinson held the vaunted Chicago Snake Tamer offense to 1 run over 8 innings and Don Meng hit a 2-run homer to lead the Philadelphia Phantoms to victory over Chicago 4-1

The Arizona Diamondbacks are trying to concede the season, but can't, as they have to play the games. They're off to a terrible job of conceding, as no one told 2-time league MVP of GM deaconsoule's desire to condede; Johnson hit a solo homer in the 8th to break a 2-2 tie and fuel a 5-2 win over Scottsdale.

Carlos Matos went 7 innings, giving up only 2 runs as New Orleans beat Austin 7-2. The bad news for New Orleans is they lost CF Don Jefferson to injury. Jefferson drove in a pair before leaving with a hamstring tweak.

Trenton blew out Norfolk on the road, 9-1. Johnnie Reagan pitched 8 great innings for Trenton, giving up 1 run and striking out 12 and Phil Nakajima had a triple and a home run in his Traffic debut.

State of the Gamblers

Did the Gamblers make the right moves in the off season to shore up the problems from last season? To start with you have to analyze last years team and what went wrong.

1. Hitting - The Gamblers were one of the most feared teams in the AL, finishing in the top half of almost every major category in the AL. So the problem doesn't seem to lie there. The only thing that stands out was the fact they couldn't hit at home, but that is to be expected as it is not much of a ground ball hitters park.

2. Pitching - Overall it shows the staff was better than teams that finished ahead of them. But it also shows a problem area, they didn't pitch well at home and for somewhat of a pitchers park doesn't bode well.

3. Fielding - Ah hah, found the culprit. The worst fielding team in the AL. So who was the culprit(s). Well, almost half of the errors happened at SS, two of the culprits have gone on to other teams now. Two defensive minded SS with somewhat decent hitting capabilities have been called up to solve this problem . Second on the list was 3B, ok, so he was young, spring training should have helped but alas it didn't. So an alternate plan was put in place and that may solve the problem. Was the SS problem the cause of the pitching woes? Deeper investigation shows that it may have cost the team 6 or 7 wins easily.

Early Gambler thinking was to pick up two young setup men and a good utility player for Hartman or at least one and two utility. But the league didn't think much of that approach. After that failed, I decided to go a different route. Yes, I was approached with about 6 or 7 trade inquiries after the failed attempt that I turned down. But I had already decided an alternate approach and took him off the market.

Carlos Aguilar was a problem, he wanted way too much money in arbitration, but I didn't have anyone to really replace him as Abdullah Huff failed to pull his weight last year even in AAA. But no one signed him as a FA and was available cheap at the start of spring training. Problem solved, then Huff has a great spring (grrrr). Not sure what to think about that.

Rob Rehfield and Bob Delaney were picked up to solve the pitching problems, especially in the pen. That did cause a fire storm from the demoted Cole Rhodes.

Gerald Thompson have another adventure some season? He did have a not so good start, but did get it together late in the season. Juan Mendoza's injury didn't help the cause last year either. The trade pick up of Dave Stewart solved the problem at the closer position last year.

Will those moves propel the Gamblers back to glory this season? Will we have to bring up the not ready for prime-time
Curtis Sewell and his health issues or John Fujiwara to take a spot?Or will the "in dog house" Bum Brea find his way back.

The Gamblers have already hit the IFA market for a future relief standout in
Geronimo Bennett. May have spent a little too much for his services as the IFA scouting market has a bit of a drinking problem but it wasn't that far skewed. But other teams are fighting over what appears to be a belligerent blue chipper. He will probably be the only player the Gamblers pick up in the market this season unless a decent cheap career minor league prospect comes along in a prize position.

Did the Gamblers solve their problems? Will it be a glory season or back to the drawing board? I guess it will be like the rest of the 31 hopefuls, "Wait and See". Good luck everyone.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Rumor Control

TBDSN - It is rumored that former coaches Luis Blanco and Theodore Rekar are trying to unionize the coaches. These two coaches were snubbed (possibly collusion by other teams may have been involved) by their former teams and vowed revenge. It may take a court order to allow coaches to unionize as the franchises and league officials call them management personnel. While the coaches see themselves as extended players and teachers. League officials don't like the idea one iota as it will bring more lockouts and time consuming drafts and another Free Agent market to control along with controlling the Players Union and Umpires Union is enough to make one sick as it is. The Players Union and Umpire Union agreed with the coaches of course and said it is about time for structured change.

Most coaches like this idea as it will give some stability in their lives and a progressive attitude. Although it isn't as appealing to some of the younger coaches, saying they don't make enough money as it is and they will probably structure it so we get less. Furthermore, it will be harder for new coaches to break into the already seemingly large backlog and harder to find a job.

In other news, it is possible that a certain expected non-contending team is thinking of sending their prized starting pitcher to a contender involving a deal that will snare them a top 10 pick from last years draft plus 2 other top 100 players and players to be named later. Unidentified sources tell me the
involved players to be named later could be the #1 and #3 drafted players in this years draft.

Rumor Control

TBDSN - Rumor has it from an anonymous source that there was a winter meeting of various Major League scouts in a Dominican Republic resort over the weekend. Details are sketchy at this time, but it is believed that a player to be named later may have been highly belligerent to said contingent of scouts and management of those teams which was made up of somewhere near 30 teams. It is said that the player threw a 103MPH fastball at one scout, then yelled in Spanish that He "Would never sign a bleepin contract with your bleepin worthless team.". The anonymous source also hinted that said player may be price gouging with certain teams and league action may be required if the deal goes through. It was further rumored from another close unreliable source that the Atlanta and Huntington franchises could be involved in the fray. Calls to the league office only got the answering machine as they are vacationing in an undisclosed destination. After making a few calls around the league to a few teams Player Acquisition and Development Offices, several teams responded in saying that "He can take his Blackberry and shove it where the sun don't shine!" and there will be repercussions (or was that concussions). After hearing this, anger management classes might be a must.

In another rumor, a certain new franchise owner may be pulling up stakes next season as two other cities are courting with new stadium deals. Close sources say the cities are Jacksonville Florida and Richmond Virginia.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

First IFA's of the Season Sign

TBDSN - San Juan Dead Bunnies signed Julio Vazquez to a minor league contract but has yet to be assigned. Chances are he will be put in either Lo or Hi A. A ground ball setup man with great control with a great fork ball and curve ball and will use those to set up his sinker and change up. The control and pitches should cover his somewhat weak splits. Could see ML action in about 2 or 3 years.

Las Vegas Gamblers signed Geronimo Bennett and immediately assigned him to HiA to begin his career. Bennett is a ground ball middle reliever with great control and splits, throwing an exceptional fastball, hard slider and change up with a curve ball as a throw away pitch. Could see ML action in about 2 or 3 years.

Rumor Control

TBDSN - This just crossed the sports desk, there may be fight brewing over money in the very near future with big market cities vs low market cities. It seems that a certain team may be willing to the go the extra mile in signing an extended ball park deal that could be in the 20M+ range. More on this later.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Where are they NOW

Where are they now (Season 1 – Amateur Draft Update)

It is one thing to find and draft a player that has HUGE potential, but quite another to actually get him to those lofty projections you saw when you signed him. Getting your prospects close to those projections is a major key in HBD. That potential Ace of the starting rotation may turn out to be a “mop up” guy at the ML level, if things are done wrong. Coaching, training budget, playing time, no serious injuries and promotions at the right time are all keys. As well as the player’s make-up rating etc which also play a role.

So how is the class of Season 1 doing??? Well let’s take a look shall we (I’ve included my review from the Year 1 draft):

Huntington Beachcombers (AL) - DERRIN HERNANDEZ 2B
Skinny: Derrin should be a solid everyday 2B or COF in a couple of years. The guy looks like he's going to be an "iron man" type of player. The only two drawbacks on this young kid are a relatively weak arm and just slightly above average ability to make contact at the plate. But his fielding range and pretty good eye at the plate should help overcome these weaknesses. - Overall rating: 8.5/10

Well the start of Season 3 finds Derrin on Huntington’s ML Roster! After the draft Huntington put this guy right into AAA; where in 82 games he hit .229 (not a good start). Season 2 in AAA he played 144 games and hit .326 with 17 HRs, 118 RBIs. Derrin’s 91 K is high considering his power numbers, especially at the AAA level. That # of strikeouts is likely to rise against ML pitching. So can he still hit for a decent average with these Ks and will his marginal arm (for 2b) hurt the team. We’ll see.

Pawtucket Patriots (AL) – RICO GUEVARA CF/2B
Skinny: If Pawtucket can sign Rico, he'll be a solid MLer. This Buffalo native has the potential to be a solid power hitter at the plate. His fielding range isn't good enough for CF (even at 2B it's marginal), but his glove should more than make up for it. The major downside of this prospect is his durability; his potential there is below average for a starting Major Leaguer.- Overall rating: 7/10

Wasn’t signed.

Houston Oilers (NL) – LONNY GATES SP
Skinny: Lonny has the potential to become a solid ace pitcher in the majors! Should be a solid ground ball pitcher with 4 solid pitches. The only major drawback on Gates is his velocity. He's a pitch to contact type BUT with a solid infield... can you say possible CY Young material?- Overall rating: 9.5/10

Lonny starts his 3rd pro year in AA. In year 1, he started 16 games in Rookie Ball with a 7-1 record, 2.42 ERA & WhiP under 1!! Year 2, he was promoted to Hi-A where he started 18 games with 10-3 record before being promoted to AA. Where he started 9 more games going 7-1. He’s 17-4 with a 2.81 ERA & 1.20 WHiP so far in the minors – looking good!!! Lonny is showing the promise he had when drafted, I see Lonny in AAA before this season is over.

Vancouver Fighting Moose (AL) – JACK HUNT 2B
Skinny: This speedster from Delaware has pretty much the whole package in potential: solid glove, good range, decent arm for a 2nd baseman. At the dish, Jack will be a major contributor, as he should be able to put up decent power numbers and batting average. However, his decisions on the base paths could hurt the team from time to time. - Overall rating: 9/10

Jack is presently in Hi-A with the Seattle franchise (moved from Vancouver this year). He suffered a minor injury in season 2, nothing that will hamper his development. He played In 24 games in Rookie before being promoted to Low A. Then was promoted to Hi-A late in season 2. So far in 178 games of minor league ball he’s hitting .347 with 44 long flies. His base stealing is as expected, not good, he’s getting thrown out 50% of the time! Still he’s development is going fine but still a few seasons away from the show.

Salem Sacrifices (NL) – BENJI STEWART SP
Skinny: If Benji does get signed, he should become an OK ML pitcher. He's got good control and stamina, BUT he'd better be pitching in a "Pitcher's Park" due to the fact that he has low velocity and the fact that he's a fly ball pitcher. Throw in the fact that he doesn't have a real "go to" pitch... says to me he's bullpen material.- Overall rating: 3/10

Season 3 see Benji with Salem’s AAA squad (promoted late in season 2). He played all year 1 (after draft) in Low A. The played most of year 2 with High A team where he put decent #s. He started 9 games in AAA and they were a struggle; going 2-3 with an ERA over 7. How will he do with a full year of AAA ball? Again I’ve seen “Fly Ball” pitchers do really well in farm system; but when coming to the ML level…. They are best in the bullpen not as starters.

Louisville Legends (AL) - AMP PALMER SS
Skinny: Louisville went with a guy from their neck of the woods and well... maybe home cooking is the best. Amp is the whole package in potential. Slick fielding, great arm and solid bat... this kid could very well become MVP material. In 3 years, look out AL!!! - Overall rating: 10/10

Here is the guy I considered the top pick in the draft. Amp played first year in Rookie ball and last year was in Low A. Louisville is bringing this blue chip prospect up slowly, not a bad thing. A small injury had him on the DL for a very short time, nothing major. At present though his is still on the Legends Low-A roster!!! Considering his .340 BA and solid power #s; he belongs in High A at least or AA Ball.

Atlanta Bandits (NL) – JASON WALKER CF/2B
Skinny: Unlike other first rounders that might be in the majors in 2-3 years, Jason will take awhile. The wait will definitely be worth it, though!!! With his potential abilities, you have an All-Star calibre CF or 2B who should hit for average and have decent power numbers. - Overall Rating: 9.5/10

Year 1 saw Jason made a short stint with the rookie team before being promoted to the Low-A squad. He spent the entire season 2 in Low A. He’s has put up some real solid #s at the dish while mainly playing 2B and a little SS for Atlanta. Designated for Hi-A to start this year, Bandits are also taking it slow with this one. Jason doesn’t really have ML SS potential (arm slightly below what you’d want); still doesn’t hurt one iota to play him there while in farm system.

Norfolk Destroyers (NL) – EDDIE MARQUIS SP
Skinny: Eddie should make a solid #3 or #4 starter at the ML level in a few years. While he will not have dominating stuff, he should give the Destroyers a fair number of quality starts. With a slight leaning toward being a fly ball pitcher and weak #3 and #4 pitches, he'll need a solid defence behind him.- Overall Rating: 6.5/10

Eddie was MY first pick in The Bigs and is presently in AA ball to start season 3. Played in the Rookie League first year and High A last season. Overall he’s 18-9 with 4.17 ERA & 1.34 WhiP. No, he hasn’t exactly been dominating, but has been a solid SP for the squads he has pitched for. My original thoughts for this prospect seem to be right on. He’ll not be the Ace of a staff BUT will be an effective starter.

Los Angeles Dodgers (NL) – CHE BONG SS
Skinny: In a couple of seasons the Dodgers should have a solid ML SS. Che has all the tools: good glove, solid arm, and will make for a great lead off guy. Only drawbacks are a weakness against lefties at the dish and his range isn't quite up to the ML average. But neither is a big deal. - Overall rating: 9/10

Mr. Bong is presently in Hi-A. Over his time in Rookie Ball and Low A, he has played a steady SS and hit for a decent average (.328 combined). His present ratings could have playing maybe AA, but the slow & steady pace could the right choice for the future ML SS. I still think Che will make a great lead off in The Bigs!

Texas Double Trouble (AL) – MATT SKINNER RP
Skinny: Matt could be the closer for Texas in a couple of seasons. This hard-throwing Arizona boy is going to have a live fastball which will take a little time to develop. When he does, he should be Mr. 9th inning.- Overall rating: 8.5/10

Well this Texas team may have moved to Iowa City but this future closer is hanging right in there. In year 1, with the rookie team, he saved 11 out of 12 opportunities, allowing opposition hitters only .213 BA. Year 2, in AA, converted 35 of 39 save chances with a WhiP of 0.89 & an OAV of .200. Matt so far has lived up to the hype, should be in AAA before long and he’s not far from the show at present. Hopefully he doesn’t get forgotten like their other 1st rounders!!!!!

Durham Entombed Spiders (AL) - IVAN WEBSTER SP
Skinny: Another finesse pitcher who should develop into a solid #2 starter. Ivan should give Durham a lot of long outings with his solid control and 3 good pitches. The only negatives are his tendency to be a fly ball pitcher and starters with only 3 pitches (no matter how good) can be inconsistent. Maybe he can buck that trend? - Overall rating: 8/10

Ivan is presently with the AAA team of the Jackson Vipers (relocation). His first season spent at the Low A level was not kind as far as W/L go; in 16 starts he was 3-6. Even though his ERA & WHiP were darn decent (3.00 & 1.28 respectively). Season 2 in Hi-A was better, going 11-8 in 28 starts; but his ERA was up over 4. He did start one game in AA at the end of the season, a dominating performance. So it’s AAA for this season

San Juan Dead Bunnies (NL) – CHARLIE WHITE SP
Skinny: Charlie has the tools to be a #2 or #3 starter for the "Stiff Hares". His good control and good stamina means he should be able to take a lot of games into the late innings. The only real knock on Charlie is while he'll have 4 solid pitches, he doesn't have an "out" pitch. But here his velocity may save him. - Overall rating: 8/10

Season 3 finds Charlie slated for the BIG CLUB. This prospect has made a fast climb to the ML level. Finished year 1 in Low A, started season 2 in AA and finished in AAA by the end of the season. His stats in the minors: 25-9, 3.47 ERA & 1.31 WhiP. Overall his ratings are marginal for the majors, especially his splits; San Juan will hope his control helps overcome that weakness. Time will tell if he’s really ready for this big jump.

New York New York (AL) – CHRIS LOWRY SP
Skinny: Chris is your typical finesse groundball pitcher. If he can develop 4 of his 5 pitches to ML calibre to go with his solid command and stamina, he could be the ace of New York's staff. I expect to see this guy's name in the All-Star line-up by season 5.- Overall rating: 9/10

Chris has made his way to the AAA level to start season 3. Year 1 he split time between Rookie & Hi-A and was in AA for all of season 2. Over two seasons of minor league ball, he has posted a 22-13 W/L record with a ERA of 3.19 & WhiP 1.30. AAA seems the proper place for him right now, it may take a couple more years but he’ll definitely make the majors.

Anaheim Sleepers (AL) – MATEO BATISTA SP
Skinny: As opposed to the Lowry pick, Batista is more of a power pitcher. The only question for him is his secondary pitches- he should have a fastball well-above average, but doesn't have a good 2nd pitch. If he can get by with only that fastball, he's got the stamina, control, and velocity to get ML hitters out enough to be an ace: if not, he's more of a #2 or #3 starter. Either way, this is a pretty good pick at 14.- Overall rating: 9/10

Season 2 finds Mateo in AA Ball for the Anaheim franchise. He has been on the usual track to the majors. He took a while to decide to sign with the Anaheim franchise, therefore only started 12 games that first year of pro ball. Last year he was in Hi-A where he went 15-8 with 3.12 ERA & 1.32 WHiP (starting 29 games). He has a great K to BB ratio and has not given up many homeruns but his OAV was at .263; is this result of having only one solid pitch?

Arizona Diamondbacks (NL) -WILLIE SCOTT SS
Skinny: Willie should become a solid everyday SS for the D-Backs. He's got solid defensive skills with an average arm for a ML SS. The only question mark is his bat. While he hits lefties and righties equally and has some pop in his bat, he's going to strike out a lot against ML pitching. This, for a guy with his speed and base running ability, hurts him. - Overall rating: 7.5/10

The Arizona team has promoted Willie all the way to the big club for the start of the upcoming season. After being drafted he played 80 games in Low A, hitting .327; but was thrown out over 40% when trying to steal and his # of Ks were about the same as BBs. Last year he played mostly Hi-A with a solid BA of .315; but he struck out more than twice as often as walking. Also, it would seem due to his lack of success as a base stealer; he only made 16 attempts! He finished year 2 in AA, played 11 games and didn’t do well. Is the jump too big of one???? We’ll see.

Skinny: IF Placido can stay healthy and reach his potential, the Cubbies could have a ML batting champion on their hands. This kid can flat out hit!! While his range and glove are definitely 2B material, the arm is another matter. His accuracy in particular may have him tagged for a future COF position. The key for Placido is to stay healthy. - Overall rating: 8/10

Placido was one of the young prospects Chicago recently traded to Houston for star pitcher Matty Eusebio. After being drafted Placido spent a short time in Rookie, before getting promoted to Low-A; then finished the year with Chicago’s AA squad. Quite jump, even though he did hit .400 at the Low-A level. He played for the team’s ML squad in year 2, where quite frankly he struggled - .248 BA and struck out 115 times while only hitting 14 jacks, not good to say the least. Like Willie Scott of Arizona, could this be too fast of a trip to the bigs???

Memphis Short Grass (NL) JEROME GRAHAM SP
Skinny: Jerome is going to take some time to develop his skills. If he can reach his potential, Memphis should get a good #3/#4 starter. His control and having only 2 ML quality pitches keep him from being a #2 guy. But his velocity should help counter these shortcomings.- Overall rating: 7/10

Season 3 finds Jerome in AA ball. The franchise has now moved to Austin for year 3. Jerome spent year 1 in the Rookie League and year 2 at the Hi-A level. Over the 2 years of being in the minors he has a record of 22-14 with ERA of 4.75 & WHiP of 1.51. While he hasn’t given up a lot of homers and his K to BB ratio is great; his OAV is less the impressive at .280. Overall these # don’t particularly impress me but he’s still developing so… the jury is still out.

Trenton Traffic (NL) PAUL TURNBOW CF
Skinny: In Paul, Trenton is getting a long term project. But he's young and they've got the time to turn him into a gold glove ML CF. This kid can cover territory in the outfield and should develop a solid glove. While there isn't much question about his defensive abilities, at the plate...he'll strike out a fair bit and swing at stuff outside the strike zone. - Overall rating: 7.5/10

Trenton is taking the slow and steady route with this young prospect. He split his first playing a little in Rookie Ball then rest at the Low-A level. All of season 2 was spent there as well. Season 3 sees him playing for the Hi-A squad. While his batting average over the two seasons is decent (.308); as I suspected his K totals are quite high, especially when you consider his extra base #s. His 1st year also saw him play almost every position; while last year he spent pretty entirely playing CF. As I said in my draft preview, defence is not a problem his hitting is where the ? is.

Boise Buckskins (NL) PLACIDO ROMANO SP
Skinny: Boise has got themselves a definite #2 guy who could be the ace of the staff. He's a finesse ground ball pitcher with the potential to develop 4 solid pitches. The only thing that could possibly keep Placido from being an ace is his control, but even that might not keep him from the #1 spot.- Overall rating: 8.5/10

Placido retired after two straight years of Rookie Ball!!! WHAT A WASTE! This guy had ML potential written all over him. Too bad it’s not possible to convince a retired player to come back in HBD!!! Oh well, goes to show… MAKE SURE YOU PROMOTE YOUR VALUABLE PROSPECT A REGULAR BASIS – otherwise…..

Cleveland Skidmarks (AL) TITO MARTIN 2B
Skinny: Another 1st round picks who will take about 5 seasons to see the bigs. When he does... Cleveland will have a GREAT hitter on their hands. Definite .300+ hitter with about 20-25 long flies a year potential. His overall defensive skills are solid for a ML 2B. Only question is, did Cleveland make a mistake by starting him in Hi-A?? Time will tell. - Overall rating: 9/10

Well, Tito in year 1 played great at the Hi-A level hitting .369. Year 2 in AAA, saw him struggle hitting only .239. He’s set to return to AAA ball this season for the franchise (now based in Toledo). He should improve upon those numbers this season. I still think he’s quite a ways from being ML material but given time…. he’ll make it.

Monterrey Sultans (AL) MICHAEL GIAMBI SP
Skinny: In Michael the Sultans are getting a pitcher with good ML potential. Whether it's as an end of the rotation guy or out of the pen, time will tell. Should be able to take a game into the late innings as a starter and will not walk many batters. But his "go to" pitch is OK at best and his other pitches are, well, marginal. - Overall rating: 6.5/10

The Sultans have Mike playing Hi-A this season. After the draft he played Low-A and started there for season 2. Half way into the season he was promoted to Hi-A. Overall Mr. Giambi has failed to impress, 9-14 with a 4.56 ERA & 1.50 WHiP. As well as allowing opposition hitters to hit .277 off him. On a good note, he’s been able to keep the ball in the park. Like Tito above, his got a long way to go until he gets THE CALL on the phone.

Colorado Springs Chickens (AL) EVAN SMITH 2B/COF
Skinny: Evan will be in the farm system of the Chickens for a few seasons. If he can reach the potential the scouts see, we're talking an All-Star calibre 2B! The kid can hit for average and has decent pop in his bat and he's no slouch in the field, that's for sure. The only thing that could hold Evan back is HEALTH and his potential durability that is slightly low for an ML starter. - Overall rating: 8/10

So far Evan has had a healthily first couple of seasons of pro ball. Presently with Colorado Spring’s Hi-A affiliate for the upcoming season. Evan has pretty much performed has expected, hitting for a decent average. He has been spending most of his time in LF. Again, still a while before making the ML level but definitely on track for it.

Houston Oilers (NL) KEVIN KIM SS
Skinny: With their 2nd pick in the 1st round Houston gets a speedy SS in Kevin. Great defence and a solid bat are what Kevin brings to the table. While Kevin is a long-term project, I feel the Oilers will be happy with what they get when this kid is ready for the bigs as a leadoff guy in the batting order.- Overall rating: 8.5/10

Kevin’s start to his pro career has meant “don’t unpack”. The Houston franchised traded him the Chicago Cubs (now Snake Charmers) late in season 2. Then Chicago turned around and promptly traded him with a couple other prospects to Las Vegas for an all star 3B. He starts the season at the AA level, spending year 1 in rookie and year 2 at Hi-A. His performance has been as expected, a solid BA with good number of SBs. BUT he’s getting thrown out about 1/3 of time!! Though not surprising considering his Base running Rating. Still overall I don't Las Vegas will be sorry they picked him up.

Philadelphia Blue Jays (NL) JIMMIE WILLIAMS 1B/DH
Skinny: While normally I'm not a big fan of drafting a 1B/DH in the first round, Williams is, without a doubt, an exception to that rule. He will hit for both average and power, making him the ideal clean up hitter. A guy like Jimmie is not there for his glove or arm (good thing!). This future fan favourite will make pitchers' ERAs go up! - Overall rating: 9/10

If you’re looking for Jimmie, find him in AAA for the Washington franchise (was Philly). Despite having a marginal health rating, he’s been able to stay off the DL. He basically started in AA after the draft, where his BA was very good but the power #s weren’t quite there; only 18 homers in 229 AB. Last year in AAA, both his BA & HRs took a drop. I’m sure both will go up this year in AAA. He’s still a couple of seasons away from the ML level.

Fargo Dirtbags (NL) MATTY CLEMENS 2B/COF
Skinny: This kid should be a great all-around hitter. Matty should become a guy that hits around .300 and hits about 30 HRs a year. While not spectacular, he should be an invaluable player for Fargo in the future. Nothing wrong with that!- Overall rating: 8/10

Matty starts this season in Low-A????? After being drafted he was placed there and in 84 games hit .308. Season 2 he still was in Low-A where he played 85 (hitting .341); before being promoted to Hi A and playing 12 games there (hitting .373). A week ago during FA & Coaching (of season 3) he was demoted back to Low-A??? Why, the guy was tearing up Hi A. To be frank, Fargo better do a quick rethink!! Otherwise the same thing that happened to PLACIDO ROMANO will happen here! A guy with this potential is NOT a player Fargo can afford to lose.

Texas Double Trouble (AL) BRANT BELLE COF
Skinny: A good future COF is what Texas gets with their 2nd pick in the first round. Brant should not strike out much and will hit for power. He struggles against lefties but his ability to make contact at the plate will help overcome this. While his defensive skills are OK for a ML COF, his bat should make up for any deficiencies there. - Overall rating: 8/10

This Texas franchise is now based in Iowa City and Brant seems to be almost forgotten. He took a while to sign, therefore only played 34 games of Rookie ball in year 1. Was promoted to Low-A for season 2, where he hit .321 with 24 Hrs. A darn solid year. Yet he still sits in Low-A for the beginning of this season?????? This prospect’s present ratings seem to make ready for AA ball. To keep him there is a definite waste of his skills & potential. Again it appears management is dropping ball here too.

Milwaukee Manic Maulers (AL) ALEX CALVO SP
Skinny: The Maulers went a little "off the board" with this pick; most teams that saw him had him pegged as a 2nd rounder. Alex's control is below what most look for in an ML pitcher and he doesn't really have a "go to" pitch. Combine this with him being a finesse pitcher... says bullpen guy to most. Maybe the Milwaukee scouts see something the rest didn't??? Time will tell. - Overall rating: 5.5/10

A rather iffy start to his career in Low-A season 1. Started 15 games going 5-8 with an ERA of 5.49 & WHiP 1.63. Season 2 saw him perform to a level the Milwaukee hopes is a sign of things to come. He started 29 games going 15-9, ERA was 4.74 and WHiP 1.54. Maybe not spectacular, buy ok for Hi-A. Also, his K to BB ratio is better than 2 to 1; considering his marginal control… that is very good. Season 3 sees Alex with the team’s AA squad. I’m sure Milwaukee management hopes his improvement continues.

Texas Double Trouble (AL) RICHARD CANNON SP
Skinny: With their 3rd pick of the 1st round, Double Trouble went with a hard-throwing farm boy from Saskatchewan, Canada! While his control should improve, I don't think it will be better than marginal for an ML pitcher. However, his ability to throw hard and induce ground balls with a nasty sinker should help him get out of jams! - Overall rating: 7/10

Another one of the forgotten ones!!! He has spent his first two season in the Rookie League. Iowa City is lucky Richard didn’t retire on them (like another 1st rounder did). Also, he only started 24 games over those 2 seasons!! This prospect development has been rather neglected and his overall potential has taken a hit. Again hopefully Iowa City will get this young prospect up to at least Hi-A before the season starts. So can get the playing time he needs to even get to the majors. Iowa City management better wake up. There 3 blue chips prospects being neglected!!!

Nashville Sounds (AL) FELIX COMER SP
Skinny: I'm sure Nashville was happy to see Comer still available when their turn finally cam around! Like some of the other late 1st round picks, Felix is a long-term project. But the light at the end is a hard-throwing lefty who could be the ace of the staff. Solid command of 4 above-average ML pitches, will keep ML batters guessing. Quite a steal to grab a guy of this quality at #29. - Overall rating: 9.5/10

Felix is what I felt was the steal of the draft, this one should’ve gone a lot higher. Nashville has him in AA for season 3. In season 1, he only pitched 39.1 innings before getting the call for Low-A. Started there in season 2, where he went 11-5 with an ERA of 4.07 and WHiP of 1.46 in 28 starts. Mr Comer seems to be on track to make the majors in a couple of years and look out AL when he does.

Ottawa Naughty Kitties (AL) FRANKIE LIGTENBERG RP
Skinny: In Ligtenberg the "Bad Cats" get a future dependable setup guy for their pen. Frankie doesn't quite have the knockout punch needed to close at the ML level. Still, this hard-throwing lefty should be a valuable addition to Ottawa's pen in a few seasons. - Overall rating: 6.5/10

The Ottawa franchise is now based in St. Louis for season 3. Frankie find himself getting for Hi-A this upcoming season. In Rookie Ball, he saved 17 of 22 chances in season 1. He split time in season 2 between Low-A & Hi-A, saving 23 of 35 chance. That is not impressive, but like I said in my first review, he doesn’t really have closer stuff. Still he should AA before season 3 is done I would think.

Philadelphia Blue Jays (NL) BOB PARKINSON SP
Skinny: With their 2nd pick of the round, Philly goes with a guy who should be a solid #3 or #4 guy in the rotation. Bob is a hard-throwing lefty with good control. On the downside, he struggles against righties and the last 3 of his 5 pitches have marginal potential. Even with those weaknesses, Bob should be a fine addition to the Blue Jays ML staff when he's ready. - Overall rating: 7.5/10

Bob is presently looking at his second season of AA ball. Year 1 saw him split time between the levels of A ball. Where he went 13-2 overall with a respectable 3.68 ERA. Last season was not kind to this prospect. He was promoted to the AA where he struggled. He started 28 games (pitched in 30 overall) with a win/loss record of 9 & 12. His ERA was an unimpressive 5.18. So, 2nd stint in AA is in order. He should improve on his previous season’s performance and find himself ready for AAA next year or sooner.

Baltimore Iron Birds (AL) BIP WITT SP
Skinny: I'm sure Iron Bird fans are hoping Baltimore can sign this kid! Bip has all the tools to be a fine ML pitcher: good control, quality pitches, and the ability to induce plenty of ground balls. The only knock on Bip is his durability. It takes him longer than average to be ready for his next start; this most likely will keep him from the starting rotation. However, he could be very valuable as a long reliever/ spot starter. - Overall rating: 7/10

Was not signed

Synoposis: Overall I'd say the class of year 1 is doing very well and we'll seeing some these guys on All Star Roster in near future! Though sadly 3 are gone, 2 didn't sign and 1 left due to neglect.

On a side note: From my experience in HBD and what I've seen here, as well as what I saw when I took over an abandoned team in Bo Jackson World; the farm system is widely neglected by new owners! They focus on the ML Team and seem to give up on the lower level teams. Is it too much work??? Or is not as glamorous as the ML??? Time and time again I see farm teams with a whole staff of pitchers tired right out (at ZERO). HBD stands for Hard Ball DYNASTY.... you want a team that not only will be competitive this year but following years too. Yes, it does take an investment of time to deal with the minor league teams. BUT there is a reward in it if you wish to keep the team for a # of seasons. So to be sure to promote your blue chip prospects and make sure the rosters have enough pitching (at least 3 or 4 guys on the inactive list as well as the 12-13 active guys - the team will NEED them!!!). As well as some inactive positional guys. WIS does allow for rather large inactive list at each level - USE IT!

K - my soapbox time is up!