Thursday, December 31, 2009

Waiver wire trades

The passing of the non-waivers trade deadline did not mean the end of trades. Two contenders added a piece to help down the stretch, while a rebuilding team shed itself of veterans and added young players.

Monterrey Sultans and Milwaukee Manic Maulers

Monterrey gets: 2B Nate Cox
Milwaukee gets: 3B Matty McLaughlin (AA)

A former MVP candidate with Salem, Cox struggled this season with a down Milwaukee team. He's not what he once was, but he's still got the ability to drive in runs and he'll add to a Monterrey offense that is only 8th in the AL in runs. McLaughlin, a 20-year-old former first-round pick, probably doesn't project to a future MVP candidate but should be a solid defensive third baseman with power.

Trenton Traffic and Milwaukee Manic Maulers

Trenton gets: RP Quinton Hughes
Milwaukee gets: SP Furio Diggins (AAA)

Trenton hasn't been happy with the bullpen in general and with closer Bernie Corino specifically, so they went out and got a 5-time All-Star and 2-time Fireman of the Year Award winner in Hughes. Hughes's arrival as the closer should make Corino a set up man and lessen the pressure on the rest of the bullpen. It cost Trenton Diggins, who started the season in Fargo's system. Diggins may or may not work out as a 4th of 5th starter, but even if he doesn't, he should have a decent career as a long reliever.

MVP Question

The early list for post-season awards is up and, as usual, some races are fairly easy to predict (barring anything crazy happening from now until the end of the season, I'd be surprised if either Rookie of the Year vote is even close). Some aren't so easy. But the early list of MVP candidates in the NL raises an important question: Can someone win an MVP award without hitting a single home run all season?

Let's examine the case of Austin's 26-year-old SS William Satou. By some measures, he seems to be a curious choice for MVP. He hasn't hit a single home run all season. He's driven in 34 runs. He's hitting a pretty good but not overwhelming .297. His OPS (on-base + slugging) is an underwhelming .709 (by comparison, the average OPS of the other 4 guys on the list is .913).

But Satou is a viable candidate for other things that he does. He leads the NL in runs (110- only George Lowe at 108 is within 15 runs of that). He's tied for third in triples (8). But his claim to fame is the stolen base- I'm not sure if it's more amazing that he's stolen 124 in 126 games (needing only 11 steals in the last 36 games to break the record), or that he's only been caught once all season. Unlike the other candidates, he plays a pretty good shortstop. And he's done all this for a team that only now, in the midst of his best season, among the NL's elite.

So there are several questions here. Can a player who doesn't hit a home run all season win an MVP award? I would say yes, it's possible. Is Satou that guy? I think he would have to raise his OBP and cut down on his strikeouts a little, but he's close. He'll be up against stiff competition; I know he's not on the list yet, but I'd be surprised if Salt Lake City's Ruben Hernandez doesn't end up in the top 5 and Trenton's Calvin Chang is having a fine all-around season. Would he be in my top 5 this season? I'd say so. We'll just have to wait for the end of the season to find out how this plays out.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

If the Draft Were Held Today- Conclusion

To wrap this whole thing up, let's address the question of which class (out of the first four) was the best.

1. Season 1

Season 1 tends to have a bit of an unfair advantage, as there are usually a lot more sandwich picks than in any other draft. But the first 32 picks were just as good as any other draft, led by Lonny Gates (#3), Jack Hunt (#4), Amp Palmer (#6), Che Bong (#9), and Mateo Batista (#14). There were some disappointing players, but few outright busts. Extra points for yielding C Rick Anderson (#51-sandwich pick ROY winner and has hit for the cycle in his career), Chan Suh (#97-round 3, 317 career RBI), and Chris Newson (#180-round 5, has a 40 HR and 100 RBI season to his credit).

2. Season 3

This was a top-heavy draft, with the very top being arguably the best in the first four seasons (Jacque Puffer, John Balfour, Ken Keagle, and Barry McEnroe are all big-time stars), but it wasn't quite as deep as the first season. There were some solid picks in the middle of the first round (Vin Logan at #18, Slash Ruffin at #31), but quite a few busts.

3. Season 2

It didn't have the brand names of season 3, but one could argue it had more stars than season 2. The first 2 picks, Turner Dolan and Jordan Newfield, turned out to be big-time, as have Stan Starr (#5), Yogi Anderson (#9), Pedro Candelaria (#11), Willis Biddle (#12), and Garry Wright(#13). Unfortunately, selections like Spike Moran (#14), Tomas Sierra (#21), and Warren Pagnozzi (#23) bring it down.

4. Season 4

This draft is highlighted by Carter Leonard at the top, as well as Watty Miller (#3), Santiago Perez (#6), Stone Curtis (#12), and Sammy Garrido (#21) to go with top 5 picks Fausto Almanza (#2) and Vladimir Bibby (#4). But there are a lot of decidedly average players in this draft.

The AL playoff picture with 40 games to go

At the 3/4 pole, the AL is a little more set than the NL, but there are still playoff spots open.


The surprising Boston Bambinos (67-54) are trying to end Louisville's 7-season reign atop the AL East. The Legends (64-57, 3 GB) will not go quietly into that good night.


With 41 games left in the season, we shouldn't be talking about a magic number, and yet we have to do so. St. Louis (81-40) holds a whopping 32 game lead over Milwaukee, who is currently in second place. So let's set their magic number at 10 and tell the River City Rage's front office to start printing playoff tickets- with a 13 game lead over the #3 seed, they should probably just go right to the round 2 tickets.


Here's where it gets interesting: Monterrey (68-53) currently is atop the division; Oklahoma City (63-58, 5 GB) is still in playoff contention, and last season's division winner and #2 overall AL seed Jackson (58-63, 10 GB) is in danger of missing the playoffs altogether.


Seattle (81-40) is on its way to its 2nd straight division title and should, along with St. Louis, get one of the top 2 seeds and a bye. Helena is 15 games out at 66-55.

Wild Card

Normally, the furious race is for the NL Wild Card spot- this season, it could be the AL instead. There could be as many as 5 teams in the race. Right now, Helena holds the top wild card spot at 66-55, and division rival Boise and Louisville are tied for the last spot at 64-57. Oklahoma City is a game back of those two at 63-58. Jackson is 6 back of the last spot, but has the talent and enough time to possibly put themselves back in the race. Of course, Louisville and Oklahoma City still have designs on division titles.

The NL playoff picture with 40 games to go

We're entering the last quarter of the season, and many teams have already had their playoff aspirations all but die. Here's how the National League looks right now:


It's a 3-way race in the East, with Atlanta currently leading with a 73-48 record, but Washington and Trenton are both only 3 back with matching 70-51 records. They'll all have to play each other, so this division is far from decided.


Fargo leads the division at 63-58 and can't seem to shake a pesky Philadelphia squad, currently sitting 3 games out at 60-61.


Austin, at 76-45, is the top team in the NL and has a healthy 8 game lead on Houston, at 68-53. If the season ended today, Houston would not only fail to win the division for the first time ever but would also miss the playoffs.


Salt Lake City has cruised to a 71-50 record, with Cheyenne being the only threat at 64-57 (seven games back)

Wild Card

Washington and Trenton would make it 3 teams from the east if the season ended today- however, there's a good chance that the 3 east teams will beat up on each other at the end, possibly opening the door for Houston (2 back) or Cheyenne (6 back).

If the Draft Were Held Today- Season 4

Season 4's draft class had some stars. Here's how that draft might look today:

1. Washington D.C.

Pick then: SP Carter Leonard
Today: Leonard

The only difference if the draft were being held today is Washington might actually turn their pick in faster. Leonard is an absolute stud, having a Cy Young caliber season in his first season, reminiscent of Dwight Salmon with Salem back in season 1. Washington can only hope its season ends the same way. But it could, in large part because Leonard has taken a big part of Washington's season on his right shoulder.

2. Jackson

Pick then: SP Fausto Almanza
Today: Almanza

Not nearly as good as Leonard, but still a very good starter for a good Jackson team- he's 28-14 in his big league career.

3. Seattle

Pick then: 2B/CF Watty Miller
Today: Miller

Traded for Denny Moss, Miller has flourished in Trenton, making the All-Star game as a CF and hitting over .330 both of his full ML seasons.

4. Austin

Pick then: SP Vladimir Bibby
Today: Bibby

Austin has made the difficult jump from playoff contender to title contender. There have been a lot of factors involved, but Bibby's 10-4, 3.12 rookie season has definitely been a big part of it.

5. Buffalo

Pick then: SP George Hurst
Today: SP Stone Curtis (picked #12 by Atlanta, still with team)

Hurst may just be a victim of being on a bad team. He had great success in the minors and wasn't rushed through the system, but finds himself with a 4-14 record on a bad Buffalo team. The 4.96 ERA seems to indicate that at least some of it is his own doing. Would Atlanta's Curtis be just as bad on Buffalo? Would Hurst have gone 14-6 with a 3.01 ERA on a National League contender as opposed to an AL also-ran? Hard to say, but I'm going to go with an answer of "no" on both of those.

6. New Orleans

Pick then: SP Santiago Perez
Today: Perez

Like Miller, Perez was traded for a future Hall-of-Famer (Gregg Black). Atlanta is pleased to have Perez, who along with Kaz Whang and Curtis should help keep Atlanta rich in pitching for years to come.

7. Boise (formerly Colorado Springs)

Pick then: SP Hector Manto
Today: Manto

This is the toughest call I've had to make, as Manto has yet to throw in the big leagues, in large part due to Boise's caution with their prospects. But I think Boise would probably stick with this pick, even if I might not necessarily do so.

8. Philadelphia

Pick then: IF Brian Sweeney
Today: Sweeney

Again, I think Philadelphia would stick with Sweeney, who is struggling a bit in his rookie season but has dominated the minors and has still shown some flashes of the big-time hitter some scouts have projected him to be.

9. Oklahoma City (formerly Little Rock)

Pick then: SP Harry Valdes
Today: SP Sammy Garrido (picked #21 by Trenton, now with Salem)

Valdes is another OKC top 10 prospect (picked before the current GM arrived, mind you) who has yet to even reach the majors. I'd have to figure they'd rather have Garrido, who is 11-10 with a 2.82 ERA for an awful Salem team and was the key component for the Sacrifices in the Dunwoody/Salmon deal last season.

10. Syracuse

Pick then: SS Louie Wunsch
Today: 2B Bob Stewart (picked #11 by Anaheim, still with team)

Wunsch hasn't reached the big leagues yet, but I think he'll be a nice player. I'm also having a hard time convincing myself that Hurst wouldn't somehow go in the top 10. But I'm going to have to take a 22-year-old infielder who drove in 99 runs last season over a 26-year-old pitcher who hasn't proven himself yet. Stewart is on the way up and was a good pick for that Anaheim franchise.

If the Draft Were Held Today- Season 3

Season 3's draft picks are on the block today. Let's revisit that one and see what might happen today:

1. Seattle

Pick then: LF Jacque Puffer
Today: Puffer

I don;'t normally advocate taking a corner OF number one in the draft, but Puffer is no ordinary corner outfielder. Last season's AL MVP put up a 40-40 season and drove in 122 for the AL champs.

2. Washington

Pick then: SP John Balfour
Today: Balfour

Washington has chosen to rebuild with starting pitching (see the next edition of this column for more on that) and while Balfour hasn't reached his peak yet, he's shown flashes in his rookie season.

3. Austin (formerly Scottsdale)

Pick then: RF Ken Keagle
Today: LF Barry McEnroe (picked #4 by Boise (then CSP), still with team)

Keagle is a very good player and would still go in the top 5 in this draft. But McEnroe has been among the AL league leaders despite getting called up 20 games into the season- he appears to have MVP potential.

4. Boise (formerly Colorado Springs)

Pick then: LF Barry McEnroe
Today: Keagle

If they can't have the crown jewel of their system, now mashing in the bigs, they'd have to settle for Keagle, who will hit around .300 and be a 20-20 type guy. Not a bad consolation prize.

5. Syracuse (then Charlotte)

Pick then: SP Dan Callaway
Today: 2B Tony Johnson (picked #6 by Jackson, still with team)

After the first four, there are quite a few question marks. Johnson seems to be only about a .250-.260 hitter or so, but he's driven in 100 runs, so he'll get the nod at the 5 spot. Callaway is a decent reliever (pitching to about a 3.50 ERA in the AL over the past two seasons), but he's never won a big league game. I think Syracuse fans were hoping for a little more out of a #5 overall pick. Apparently the lesson here is if you have a #5 overall pick, you take a pitcher, and he asks for more than $6 million in signing bonus, he's going to be either a disappointment (see: Benji Stewart in season 1) or an outright bust (Calloway)

6. Jackson

Pick then: 2B Tony Johnson
Today: C/1B/DH Vin Logan (picked #18 by New York, now with Monterrey)

Since Johnson went to Syracuse, Logan seems like the logical next pick. Logan is a guy without a position for now (he can't throw runners out behind the plate and isn't that great at first), but the guy can hit big time. He needed only 113 games to reach the 100 RBI plateau this season, will hit 30-40 HRs while hitting above .300 and walking almost as much as he strikes out.

7. Philadelphia

Pick then: SS Doc Bowen
Today: Bowen

Only because there's not much better out there- there are guys with higher ceilings but have yet to prove much of anything on the ML level. So Philadelphia can keep their .260-20-70 type guy who'll play decent defensively at shortstop.

8. New Orleans

Pick then: SP Kevin Pong
Today: Pong

Again, if you're going on potential, this isn't the pick. But Pong is having his best season by far, going 10-6 with a 2.77 ERA on a struggling New Orleans team. Has he put it together, or is this season an anomaly?

9. St. Louis

Pick then: 1B O.T. Bravo
Today: SP Slash Ruffin (picked #31 by Monterrey, now with Seattle)

Since Bravo never signed, even guys who haven't reached their potential have to be better than the Bravo pick. So they'll get a starting pitcher with a lot of potential, just starting his big league career in Seattle.

10. Oklahoma City (formerly Little Rock)

Pick then: SP Tomas Cedeno
Today: SP Pedro Limon (picked #20 by Atlanta, now with Boise)

In a word, oops. After dominating the lower minor league levels, Cedeno struggled a bit in AA and got shelled in AAA- he's 27 and has never thrown a big league pitch, although that could possibly change this season. Limon has a much bigger upside and is 8-6 in his rookie season, although the league is hitting .300 off him.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

If the Draft Were Held Today- Season 2

A "fantasy draft" of Season 2's crop:

1. Scranton (formerly Kansas City)

Pick then: CF Turner Dolan
Today: Dolan

This is a tough call, with plenty of good players out there, but I think Scranton would still take Dolan, a CF who hits .300 and still has some developing to do. He's a 20-20 guy who could still improve on those numbers.

2. Salt Lake City

Pick then: IF Jordan Newfield
Today: Newfield

I think Salt Lake City would be hard-pressed to improve on an IF who has both scored and driven in 100 runs the past two seasons.

3. Chicago

Pick then: IF Neifi McBride
Today: SP Yogi Anderson (picked #9 by St. Louis (formerly Ottawa), still with team)

Anderson has a good rookie campaign, struggled in his second season while logging more innings, and has been a Cy Young candidate this season. I think Chicago would rather have a possible ace and at the very worst a very good #2.

4. Syracuse (formerly Toledo)

Pick then: SP Lonny Hernandez
Today: 2B Willis Biddle (picked #12 by Philadelphia, now with Washington)

Last season it looked like Hernandez would be in this spot, if not higher, with a 10-5 debut. But his ERA has jumped by almost 2 runs and he's 3-9 despite most of his other numbers being similar to last season, and he's lost a starting spot. So we'll give the Simpletons Biddle, the heart of the emerging Blue Coats lineup- he should easily drive in 100 runs this season.

5. Atlanta

Pick then: 1B/OF Stan Starr
Today: Starr

Another tough call, but it's hard to go wrong with a past MVP candidate. This would be an easier call if not for his major injury this season. He not only hits homers- he gets on base and scores runs as well.

6. Oklahoma City (formerly Wichita)

Pick then: CF Thurman Allen
Today: Allen

This was a fairly deep class, but I'll give the OKC their CF back- a 20-30 type guy who hits for a pretty good average.

7. Boise (formerly Colorado Springs)

Pick then: IF Ryan Hammill
Today: Hammill

Boise is a team on the rise, and it started here with Hammill- he had a breakout .296-33-112 season last season. Now he's got help around him- those numbers could go even higher. His fielding could use some work.

8. Seattle (formerly Vancouver)

Pick then: RP Paul Schwartz
Today: CF George Lowe (picked #26 by Nashville, now with Salt Lake City)

Schwartz was the first reliever off the board and has done most of his work for Cheyenne- he's saved 79 games in the past two seasons but only has a career save percentage of 75%. Lowe is a speedy CF who is the prototypical leadoff hitter- lots of speed and gets on base at a .400 clip. Any team would love to have a guy like that.

9. St. Louis (formerly Ottawa)

Pick then: SP Yogi Anderson
Today: RP Garry Wright (picked #13 by Jackson (formerly Durham), still with team)

Since they can't get Anderson, they could take a chance on a few guys who have yet to perform to their potential, like McBride or Hernandez, or get one of the top closers in the game in Wright. Wright has a career save percentage of 90%, has racked up 191 saves, and has a Fireman of the Year Award on his mantle..

10. Vancouver (formerly Boise)

Pick then: SP Jesus Amezaga
Today: C Sam Brumfield (picked #15 by Austin (formerly Memphis), still with team)

I don't think Vancouver would object if I dropped a pitcher from their roster who is a career 17-22 with a 5.56 ERA in favor of a catcher who hit .297-33-86 last season and is a good defensive catcher.

If the Draft Were Held Today- Premise and Season 1

Different GMs have different ideas as to how to run a team, but think we all would agree that drafting well is a key component to putting together a good franchise. While we all await aginor's coverage of this past draft (I'm sure he'll do a great job as always), we can take a look back at previous drafts (the first 4- past that is probably still too early to tell) with the advantage of having a good idea as to how the players have turned out (obviously some are still developing, but the big-time prospects are in or close to the ML level). So the question is this: if the drafts were held today, knowing what we know now and with each team able to see each and every player, what would happen? Would there be significant changes or would it be very similar?

Disclaimers: 1. I haven't asked any GM about this, so this is my educated guess and will be somewhat biased toward my tendencies and what I would do. I could be wrong on a lot of these, but I think it will be fairly close.
2. The needs of any given team, now or at the time, will not be considered, as we are in essence "hopping in the time machine" and going back to before the players develop, so it is far more likely that teams would draft the best player available. Naturally, ability to play a more premium defensive position will be considered.

Let's start with Season 1. If we could go back in time, what would the top 10 of this draft look like?

1. Boston (formerly Huntington)

Pick then: 2B Derrin Hernandez
Today: SP Lonny Gates (went #3 to Houston, still with team)

This is not a knock on Hernandez, who has scored over 100 runs four times and has been a quality player (maybe a little short of superstar level, but a very good player), especially since being traded to San Juan. But Gates is 55-22 in his 3+ season career and has been at least mentioned as a Cy Young candidate the past few seasons. He's a legitimate #1 starter and if you can grab one in the draft, I think you do it.

2. Syracuse (formerly Pawtucket)

Pick then: 2B Rico Guevara
Today: IF Amp Palmer (went #6 to Louisville, still with team)

Again, Guevara is far from a bust. He's come back to earth a bit after last season's 30-30 season, so I'll give the Simpletons the more consistent Palmer, who was rated the #1 prospect for at least part of his stint in the minors. Palmer doesn't get credit for playing SS (you have to play it well- 46 errors last season doesn't cut it), but he'd be a solid defensive 3B and would still score his 100, drive in 100, and steal at least 20 bases. And he's done it every season.

3. Houston

Pick then: SP Lonny Gates
Today: SP Mateo Batista (went #14 to Anaheim, still with team)

This is only because Gates is already off the board- if you gave Houston a shot to draft Gates again, I don't think they'd hesitate. But if they can't get Gates, they would have their choice of some good position players (see the next few picks) or another starting pitcher. This would not be the pick if I had done this last season at this time, but Batista seems to have taken the next step and put everything together, with the big key being cutting down on giving up the long ball. He may not win, but he'll be in the Cy Young conversation this season, and I think that would be enough for the Riverdogs.

4. Seattle (formerly Vancouver)

Pick then: 2B Jack Hunt
Today: Hunt

If it's close, I'll give the team the player it already has. Hunt is another guy who has taken his game to new heights this season, hitting .349 (over 100 points higher than last season) in addition to being a 30-30 threat.

5. Salem

Pick then: SP Benji Stewart
Today: Hernandez

As much as I believe Salem values pitching, I'd have to think they'd rather have a 100 run scorer in Hernandez than a middle of the road pitcher (who cost them over $9 million in signing bonus, by the way).

6. Louisville

Pick then: IF Amp Palmer
Today: Guevara

So essentially Palmer and Guevara get traded for each other- I'd have to wonder how long it would take Louisville to reject that deal if it were actually proposed. Louisville would have to settle for Guevara's promise instead of Palmer's productivity.

7. Atlanta

Pick then: 2B Jason Walker
Today: Walker

Again, this pick could go a few different directions, but I think Atlanta is happy with their choice of Walker, a guy who will hit near .300, has scored 100 twice, and is a 20-20 candidate every season.

8. Norfolk

Pick then: SP Eddie Marquis
Today: IF Che Bong (went #9 to Salt Lake City (formerly LA), still with team)

Unlike some of the other prospects, Marquis seems to hit his ceiling, which is a career .500 pitcher with about a 4.50 ERA in the National League. I'd have to think Norfolk was hoping for a little better from a #8 overall pick, so I'll give them Bong, a career .285 hitter who is among the league leaders in triples.

9. Salt Lake City (formerly LA)

Pick then: IF Che Bong
Today: 2B Tito Martin (went #20 to Buffalo (formerly Cleveland), still with team)

Since they can't get Bong, they might go with a reasonable facsimile of Bong, just with slightly less production. They could easily go with the guy I'm putting at #10 or 1B Jimmie Williams, a slugging 1B now with Austin, but I'll give them the middle infielder who has put up decent numbers.

10. Oklahoma City (formerly Texas)

Pick then: RP Matt Skinner
Today: Skinner

Skinner, just traded from Houston to Austin, has established himself as one of the top closers in the game, winning a Fireman of the Year Award two seasons ago and racking up 173 career saves.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Deadline Deals

The non-waiver trade deadline saw a handful of deals take place; none of them were nearly as big as the Washington-Milwaukee deal, but a few teams did add some important pieces to try and help fuel a deep playoff run. Seattle was by far the busiest team near the deadline.

Seattle Killer Whales and New York New York

Seattle gets: RP Freddie Hampton
New York gets: CF Albert Dale, RP Jim Vogelsong (AA)

Anaylsis: Seattle gets a former closer to set up Quilvio Sanchez in Hampton, who is especially tough from the left side. If he's limited to mostly left handed hitters, he'll be dominating-even if not, he's a solid arm out of the bullpen. As for New York's haul, Dale is a bit of a question mark- he's got the defensive ability to play a good centerfield, but scouts are divided on whether he'll hit at the ML level, although he has hit well in the minors thus far. He'll get his shot quickly on a rebuilding New York team. Vogelsong is a throw-in who could be a right-handed specialist someday, but probably not anything more than that.

Seattle Killer Whales and Atlanta Bandits

Seattle gets: SP/RP Rico Mangual
Atlanta gets: 3B Tony Burnitz

Analysis: Seattle continues to grab depth in the bullpen in Mangual, another former closer (with Washington) who had settled into a long relief/swingman role with both of Atlanta's title teams. He might be a bit overpaid at $6.5 million, but his contract is up at the end of the season and adds even more depth to the Seattle pen. Atlanta gets Burnitz, a 3B who has taken a while to develop (he's already 25) and hasn't proven much in the majors (has never driven in more than 63 runs in a big-league season) and who has had some injury issues, but does have talent.

Seattle Killer Whales and Chicago Snake Tamers

Seattle gets: SP Slash Ruffin
Chicago gets: SP Murray Crane, RP Lance Leyritz, SP Osvaldo Colon (Lo-A)

Analysis: A bit of a head-scratcher for me, as Chicago trades a talented, 23-year-old starter and takes back salary to do it. Ruffin returns for his second tour with Seattle (he made his ML debut with the Killer Whales before being dealt to Chicago) to help with the stretch run. He won 13 games as a rookie last season between the two cities and is still developing- he's got a big upside. Chicago opted for quantity here, as they get Murray Crane, a 24 year old pitcher who couldn't get out of Seattle's minor league system- scouts say he won't develop much further, and Colon, whose ceiling looks like a poor man's Ruffin. Leyritz is a 12th man on the staff type on a good team, and an innings eater on a mediocre team.

Austin City Limits and Houston Riverdogs

Austin gets: SP Matt Skinner
Houston gets: LF Yorvit Terrero (AA)

Another head scratcher, although not for the same reason as the Seattle/Chicago deal. Houston parts with a lights-out closer although they are still in the race- they are tied with Trenton as of this post for the last wild-card spot in the NL. Austin saw an opportunity to upgrade from Matty Eusebio, and they did- Austin has as good a shot as anyone in the NL to get to the World Series. Houston did get good value for their closer- Terrero has yet to put it together in the minors, but he is only 20 and scouts have touted him as a unique (not rare, unique) blend of speed and power.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Milestone for a Future Hall-of-Famer

Seattle's Osvaldo Johnson became the first Bigs player to reach the 1000 RBI plateau in the Killer Whales' 4-3 extra inning win over division rival Anaheim. The milestone RBI came on a second inning groundout- with runners on first and third, Johnson hit a grounder to second- the Chiles got the force at second but couldn't double up Johnson at first, and Jacque Puffer scored on the play.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Major NL trade

Washington, for the first time ever, finds itself a buyer at the trading deadline and did they ever pull off a huge deal.

Washington D.C. Blue Coats and Milwaukee Manic Maulers

Washington gets: CF Luis Martinez, LF Burt Stevenson, SP Graham Costello
Milwaukee gets: 3B Max Javier (AA), SP Barry Rader (AAA), CF Tony Delgado

Analysis: Washington finds itself leading the NL East, but with Atlanta and Trenton breathing down their necks, so they felt the time was now to go get some help and make a playoff push in a wide-open National League. Martinez and Stevenson both have an MVP award to their name. Martinez is one of the best CF in the game and is still only 29, so he still has a few more years at an elite level. Stevenson is not the hitter he once was, but he can still be dangerous, especially if he doesn't have to carry the load on his own. Getting these two should help Willis Biddle and the rest of the D.C. offense immensely. Costello provides veteran depth in the rotation, which was another thing the Blue Coats needed.
As for Milwaukee, they shed over $14 million in salary for next season and get some fairly good prospects in return. Barry Rader is a 21-year old lefty (formerly part of Generation Left) who should be ready for the majors soon and may not be an ace, but should be a solid #2 or #3 starter who will be awfully tough on lefties. Javier may not become a superstar, but he'll be a good contributor and a very good defensive 3B who will hit. Delgado is a solid CF (obviously not as good as Martinez) who can hold down the position and hit a little.

NL Wins All-Star Game

The National League took the Mid-Summer classic this season by a score of 6-1. The big inning was a 4-run third, which was started by Austin's William Satou singling to right and then stealing second and highlighted by an RBI single by Fargo's Alex Lim, a 2 RBI double by Trenton's Calvin Chang, and an infield single to drive in a run by Chang's teammate Watty Miller. Norfolk 1B Al Cruz homered in his first at-bat to earn MVP honors. Seattle's Jacque Puffer homered in the 4th to provide the only AL run. St. Louis's Yogi Anderson and Trenton's David Dunwoody earned the start for each team. Austin's Carlton Fleming earned the win, while Anderson took the loss.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Hunt takes Derby crown in swing off

Edges Nakano 6-5 in final round

Seattle's Jack Hunt is having quite the season so far and with the AL MVP award in sight, he's already stacking up the hardware. The starting second basemen for the American League All-Star team took home the season 8 Home Run Derby championship by beating out Jackson Vipers 1B Kevin Nakano 6 home runs to 5 in the third and final round.

This year's Home Run Derby was much closer than some of those in the past. It was so close, in fact, that extra swings were needed to decide a winner. Vancouver's Clarence Hartman led all contestants after one round with 10 home runs. Hunt and Nakano followed with 9 and 7, respectively, and Fargo 1B Ricardo Martinez rounded out the top four to advance to the second round with 6 homeruns.

Hartman would fizzle in the second round with just 3 home runs while Nakano would own the round with 11 dingers. Hunt and Martinez would tie with 6 home runs each for the round which eliminated Martinez for having a lower total through two rounds.

Hunt and Nakano would tie with 5 home runs each in the final round, leading to the final two participants taking place in The Bigs' first ever swing off for the Home Run Derby crown. Each player was allowed one swing until the tie was broken and after Nakano flew to center for an out, Hunt wasted little time in ending the swing off. Hunt's first swing landed 370 feet down the leftfield line for the title.

Jack Hunt
Killer Whales
Age: 25B/T: R/R
Born: Bear, DE
Position(s): 2B
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Turner Darr throws no-hitter

Last night Philadelphia's Turner Darr threw only the 6th no-hitter in The Bigs history in Austin. Darr threw 113 pitches, walked two, and struck out 10 in a 1-0 Philadelphia victory. Darr's teammates mobbed him on the mound after the game. "We were just so excited for him", said shortstop Doc Bowen, whose solo homer in the 4th accounted for the game's only run. "He's had a couple of rough seasons, but he's started to turn it around a bit this season, and this really highlights what Turner can do. We think he's good". Added Darr, "I was just trying to make my pitches. I couldn't think about the no-hitter because one mistake could have cost us the game, and we need as many as we can get to stay in the race. But yeah, I'm excited. Not too many people have done this". Darr joins Ajax Drabek, Duffy Parnell, Perry Herman, Matty Eusebio, and David Dunwoody as the only pitchers in the history of the league to throw a no-no.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Shadow Wolves Turn Around

I don't know what it is with this Boise team and slow starts. The Wolves got off to a terrible start once again, going 16-30 to start the season. They were especially dismal at home. It looked as if we were going to take a step back this year. Now however, as we shortly head into the all-star season, Boise is near the top of the league. They're now 49-37 and have passed the Grotto Gottos for second in the division, which is also currently a wildcard spot. They are 17-2 in their past nineteen games, including a nine game winning streak, and a current eight game winning streak. This miraculous turn around is largely credited to The Monster, Barry McEnroe, whom is currently leading the AL in batting average, slugging percentage, OBP and OPS, and also in the top ten in HRs. He's also been awarded his first (and likely not last) Player of the Week Award. The Monster is everything Boise fans expected and more. But of course Ryan Hamill, Damaso Brogna, and Santiago Martin are also in the top twenty batting average for the AL, so it's not all on the monster. Martin's HR totals are down this year, but this was to be expected with the new rules on equipment that were introduced. A lot of the pure long ball hitters are seeing a bit of a reduction in their HRs.

The pitching staff has also picked up it's game, helping out the bats. Pedro Limon is a respectable 7-2 with a 3.66 ERA in eighteen games. Armando Lopez in 29 innings at long relief is 2-0 with a 2.79 ERA and a team leading 1.00 WHIP. Jaime Weaver has played 41 innings in the set-up role for us this year with a 5-1 record, a 2.63 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP, and it looks like he might be joining the monster in this year's all-star game, if everything stays the same over the next couple days. Closer Don Wang's ERA is only 4.46, but with his 1.22 WHIP and team leading .230 OAV, it's been good enough for him to pick up 20 saves so far this season. He's on pace to break the team record held by his predecessor Alex Cornejo, whom has played a respectable season so far in the set-up role for the Shadow Wolves this year.

So what might have looked like a lost cause a quarter of the way into the season is looking more like a possibility of a first ever playoff game held in Boise this year. Of course there's still a lot of season to go, and a lot of good teams, so we won't get ahead of ourselves, but the future is still bright in Boise. We know all our fans out there are cheering and hoping for the Shadow Wolves, and we are cheering and hoping right along side you. As always, our thanks from the Boise Shadow Wolves Management Team and Wolf Industries.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

AL at the halfway point

We're almost halfway through the season. Here's what's going on around the AL:

- The east is a toss-up. Boston is the only team above .500 (38-36), and they lead Louisville by one game and Scranton by three. This division may come down to head-to-head, because none of these teams has distinguished itself.

- In the north, St. Louis is comfortably ahead at this point. They're up by 14 games on both Milwaukee and Syracuse. Can we just forget that I picked Milwaukee to contend this season?

- In the south, Monterrey leads archrival Jackson by five at this point, but it's too early to say they've wrapped anything up. Jackson is a dangerous .500 team. OKC is just one back of Jackson, so they're not ready to concede anything, either, but they'll have to pick up their play.

- Out west, Seattle is again the odds-on favorite to win the AL- they're the best right now at 51-23. But Helena is staying close at 45-29, and if the playoffs started today, Boise would be in at 39-35.

-Boise's Barry McEnroe is in the top 10 in the AL in homers despite playing 20 fewer games than every one else above him on the list and would be tied with Seattle's Jack Hunt if he had enough at-bats to qualify. He's already won a Player of the Week award. The question may not be if he wins an MVP award someday, but how many.

Changing of the Guard in the NL?

Around the NL at almost the halfway point. The two best teams right now in the NL are... Austin and Washington?

- Washington has been leading the NL East for most of the season. They're doing it on the backs of their youngsters- Willis Biddle looks like a star in the making and Carter Leonard could end up winning the Cy Young award this season (right now: 10-0, 1.80 ERA in 11 starts).

- After struggling through the beginning of the season, Atlanta's been hot lately and has overtaken Trenton for second, only 2 games back of D.C.

- Trenton, who some experts considered a co-favorite for the division title, is sitting in third. They've been very inconsistent, but they're still hanging in at 39-35. This is a team to watch in the next month or so because they could either launch back into contention or be very active in the trade market if they don't.

- In the North, Fargo is still in first, but it almost seems like it's by default- this doesn't look like one of their vintage squads at this point. They're still dangerous.

- As for the rest of the division, Philadelphia is a big surprise at 37-37; this is probably as big a surprise positively as Trenton has been as a disappointment. Kansas City is 3 games behind Philly for 2nd and Chicago has won 5 in a row to pull to within 4 of the Phantoms. Chicago could be active in the trade market after the all-star break as well, as that team has some talent.

- In the south, it's a Texas shootout. Austin is the only NL team that is 20 games above .500 (47-27) and Houston is only 5 back of that torrid pace. Carlton Fleming has yet to lose a start for the City Limits (11-0, 3.06) and William Satou is on pace to shatter the league stolen base record (currently Justin Hernandez at 134- Satou has 86 in only 73 games). Meanwhile, Houston is getting it done behind the bats of Monte Duvall, Cy Hughes, and Bret King.

- New Orleans has taken a step back this season, as they are currently below .500 and tied with San Juan for third in the South.

- Out west, Salt Lake City almost mirrors Fargo- leading the division and should have enough talent to win in the end, but not looking as good as previous seasons. Cheyenne is the only team that theoretically could give them a run for the title. Vancouver and Salem are rebuilding and fighting for draft position.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Another change in ownership

Charlotte's baseball team underwent big-time changes. First, GM mmccann55 resigned his position, turning over the reins to new gm sirson. Sirson's first major order of business was changing the name of the team from the Princesses to the Lions. The locker room was pleased at the change in name; when asked, C Tony Stieb said, "Thank God. I hated the name Princesses. Just something not right about having that as a team name." LF Luis Melo concurred; when asked if he liked the name Lions, he said, "I'm not crazy about it. But it's way better than what we had. Now can we get something other than pink shirts and baseball pants instead of tutus?" The equipment manager, watching the interview, immediately nodded yes toward Melo.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Special Report- Change at the Top

The recent rumors swirling around the league about a possible change in commisioners was confirmed today. League founder mfoster55 was replaced today by Fargo GM kjmulli after winning a league-wide vote, with Trenton GM gumbercules finishing second as the only other candidate to receive multiple votes. The Chicago team has been taken over by GM greeny9. No word has come from the commish's office yet, but gumbercules did issue the following statement:

It is unfortunate that we seem to have lost our founder, mfoster55- he did a great job with this league. But part of building a great organization is having people in place to take up leadership roles, and I feel we have many capable people in this league.
I do not view finishing second as a loss in any way- I did not campaign for the job. If the league felt that having me be the commisioner was in the best interest of the league, I would have gladly taken the responsibility and done the job to the best of my ability. I felt all the nominees would have been solid choices. I have the utmost respect for kjmulli- he's done a great job with the Fargo franchise and I'm sure he'll do just as good a job for the league and he can always count on me for support.
The focus right now should be on the league as we move forward. This league is an excellent one and I look forward to many great seasons of baseball (and hopefully a World Series trophy in the near future for Trenton).

Monday, November 30, 2009

Explanation of the second poll question

Just wanted to clarify the choices for the second poll listed on the right side of this page. We're voting on what conditions a new owner (likely greeny9) will have to adhere to when he takes over mfoster55's Chicago Snake Tamers. The choices, along with more detailed explanations are as follows:

No strings attached: Means the new owner is free to do as he pleases with the team (trades, signings, etc.) and is not obligated to return the team to mfoster, should he ever return to HBD or The Bigs.

Babysit team until All-Star Break: Means the new owner is not permitted to make any major transactions (trades, signings, etc.) until the season 8 All-Star break. If mfoster returns before the break, and requests his team be returned to him, the new owner will return the team to mfoster. If mfoster does not return by the time of the All-Star break, the new owner is then free to make any moves he pleases and is not required to return the team to mfoster from this point on.

Babysit team for remainder of season 8: Means the new owner is not permitted to make any major transactions (trades, signings, etc.) until the end of the season 8 regular season. If mfoster returns before the end of the regular season, and requests his team be returned to him, the new owner will return the team to mfoster. If mfoster does not return by the end of the regular season, the new owner is then free to make any moves he pleases and is not required to return the team to mfoster from this point on.

I hope this answer any and all questions one might have. If there are any further questions, don't hesitate to ask in World Chat, Trade Chat or via sitemail.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Around the AL after 30 games

OK, so we're a little past the 30 game mark. But anyway, here's Hugo First with his AL report.

- Does anyone want the AL East lead? Louisville is in first at 17-16; Boston and Scranton are a game back at 16-17.

- In the North, St. Louis looks like they're for real at 22-11. Milwaukee, expected in some preseason publications (which will remain nameless...) to contend, is 11-22.

- The AL South looks strong again- Monterrey is rejuvenated at 23-10. The OKC is still tough at 19-14, and Jackson is right there as well at 18-15.

- Defending AL champion Seattle looks like they're the team to beat again at 23-10. But Helena is right there with them at 22-11 so far.

- As far as MVP candidates go, Seattle's Jack Hunt and Jackson's Melvin Nakano are in a class by themselves. That's no guarantee they'll keep up the pace; that's just how it is for now.

- If the Cy Young Award were given out today, it'd be an easy choice- young gun Yogi Anderson (4-1, 0.90) would pick up the hardware.

- After two near perfect seasons, St. Louis closer Carlos Carrasco is off to a slow start- he's only blown one save, but has a 6.14 ERA. Meanwhile, Quilvio Sanchez is 15 of 16 with a 0.43 ERA.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Around the NL after 30 games

We're about 30 games into the season. Seymour Duless has a report on the NL.

- What's going on in the East? Trenton is a game over .500 and Atlanta is a game under. Washington is 18-12.

- Philadelphia is also playing well- they've won 5 in a row to go to 16-14, only 1 1/2 games behind Fargo. Chicago is also 16-14.

- In the South, Austin looks good at 18-11, and Houston has started slow at 12-17.

- Salt Lake City has overcome a slow start to rise to 16-14 and lead the NL West.

- It's early, but looking at the big Trenton deal from last season: David Dunwoody- very good (5-1, 1.20 ERA). Dwight Salmon- less so (1-4, 5.18 ERA).

- Houston's Monte Duvall (.336-17-38) is the early season MVP. Vic James, Clarence Hartman, William Satou, and Sean Simpson are all good candidates as well.

- Early Cy Young candidates- Dunwoody and Javier Henriquez right now in a dead heat, with Alex Sanchez close behind. Throw Manny Christians and Eddie Marquis into the mix.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

AAA Report

It's a little early into the season, but our AAA correspondent, Wybie Normal, has this report on the future stars of The Bigs:

National League

- Norfolk may be leading the east at 12-4 right now, but the big news is with Washington, as their Legion of Lefties (Carter Leonard, Barry Rader, and John Balfour) has by far the most potential talent in the east. Expect to see those three and 3B Ewell Elster in D.C. at some point before the end of the season, even if it's only for a few games after roster expansion.

- In the North, Philly has two decent prospects in reliever Ramon Takada and slugging 3B Santos Mesa. But it's Kansas City that has the best AAA team here. They've got two shortstops to choose from in Jesse Pratt and Gustavo Contreras to go along with SP Ozzie Acker as legitimate prospects.

- Houston leads the NL South, but Austin has the deepest team. They've got slugging LF David Cortes, but their pitching staff is the envy of all systems except maybe Washington. Vladimir Bibby is the gem of the system, but they've also got Miguel Castilla, Richie Hatteberg, Dan Benard, and Denny Mann, all of whom are could be good ML starters someday.

- Out west, Salt Lake City has plenty of what the parent club has- big bats. Nick Robertson and Jim Dwyer may be unsettled postion-wise, but both can hit, along with IF Vern Monroe. Vancouver's got 1B Brendan Taft to hang their hat on, and Cheyenne has IF Jim Gibson as a good prospect.

American League

- The East is led by Boston- scouts seem to like LF Chris Pose and pitchers David James and Pascual Beltre in particular. Louisville has P Tom Sanders and IF Dan Douglass.

- In the North, the defending division champs on the ML level, St. Louis, feel good about their future with infielders Kane Walters and Alex Silva to go with future closer Mickey Stanifer and young starter Vernon Taubensee.

- In the South, OKC is 11-5 with slugging infielder Raymond Black and all-around OF Felipe Valdes to lead the way. Outside of the Obese Supermodels system, the best the division has to offer in AAA are a couple of short relievers- Monterrey's Reese Duran and Charlotte's Dante Buckley.

- Out west is Boise's territory, led by uber-prospect LF Barry McEnroe and IF Dennis Huang. Hector Manto and Victor Soto are solid starters. Helena's got some solid position prospects in IFs Dave Cosby, Edwin Corey, and Jimmie James. Expect to see a trio of Chiles prospects in Anaheim soon- DH Jim Adkinsson, RF Dweezil Milligan, and 1B Esteban Santos. Even Seattle has a few decent-to-good prospects in AAA, led by 3B Albert Dale.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Historic IFA signing

Syracuse signed 19-year-old Dominican star pitcher Andres DeLeon to a 3-year big league contract with a Bigs record $30 million, surpassing the $27 million bonus given to Cuban defector Miguel Castilla by Austin back in season 6. Scouts are raving about his stuff- he throws a good sinker and slider, maybe a bit unusual that he doesn't throw it all that hard, but he has pinpoint control. One scout said, "He could be the best pitcher ever in this league not named Henriquez if he puts it all together". Syracuse has already placed him on the big league roster; while the club is mum as to their immediate plans for him, I would imagine he could be starting very soon.

Spring-training Trades

A few big trades were consumated during the spring training period- interestingly enough, all three trades involved the top two contenders in the NL East. So here's how they continue to jockey for position...

Trenton Traffic and Houston Riverdogs

Trenton gets: SP Jason Sprague
Houston gets: LF Bret King, IF Kenneth Perkins

Analysis: An interesting deal. Trenton was looking for another quality starter to fit behind Dunwoody and Salmon- they get Sprague, one of the best available starters. He could be the #1 starter for plenty of teams in the majors- he'll be asked to be #3 on this team, transforming the Traffic's rotation into a good and deep one. Houston gets King, a good all-around hitter who can get on base and steal some bases, but also has some pop as well. Perkins could be a decent player in the right situation- he's got some pop and a good eye.

Atlanta Bandits and Boston Bambinos

Atlanta gets: LF Trever Russell
Boston gets: RF Ryan Snyder, SP Pascual Beltre (AAA)

Analysis: Atlanta gets a younger and possibly better all-around hitter in Russell, who's not nearly as fast as Snyder but should hit for a higher average. They also get out from Snyder's contract, which runs through next season. Snyder, at 32, is still a productive player who can hit homers and steal bases. Boston also gets Beltre, a starter who could be a #4 or #5 starter on some teams.

Atlanta Bandits and New Orleans Voodoo

Atlanta gets: CF Gary Haynes (AAA), RP Morris Gonzales (AA)
New Orleans gets: IF/OF Gregg Black

Analysis: This was all about the money for Atlanta. Kicking in $5 million, they still shed almost $4.5 million in salary for a guy who is near the end of the line. As for the players they got back, Haynes is at best a defensive replacement in CF- I don't think he'll hit enough to hold down a full time CF job, and Gonzales is likely to need a ticket to ever see the inside of a major league stadium. New Orleans is hoping to build off last season's playoff appearance- they realize they'll need more offense, so they went out and got an aging Black, who can still hit. This move doesn't kill them financially, as Black's deal is up after this season.

AL Playoff Picture for Season 8

To categorize the teams in the AL:

Title Contenders

1. Seattle
2. Jackson

Playoff Contenders

1. Louisville
2. St. Louis
3. Milwaukee
4. Monterrey
5. Helena
6. Oklahoma City

Status Unknown

1. Boise (who comes up from the minors?)


1. New York
2. Scranton
3. Boston
4. Buffalo
5. Syracuse
6. Charlotte
7. Anaheim

AL West Preview for Season 8

Lastly we come to the AL West, which is home to the current AL champs, the Seattle Killer Whales. Seattle took the division by 19 games over a good Helena team and an improving Boise squad. Can either of the latter teams make a move on the Killer Whales, or will the Orcas win another division title? And what about Anaheim's chances?


Seattle (last season-2nd in AL) is loaded with multi-talented players, as LF Jacque Puffer went 40-40 and 3B Denny Moss hit 50 HRs and stole 30 bases; those two along with RF Pete Duvall and 2B Jack Hunt (who should hit better than .235 this season) all scored 100 runs. A full season of former MVP 1B Osvaldo Johnson makes this lineup even scarier for opposing pitchers. This team could lead the league in runs even if CF Henry Canizaro doesn't hit to his potential.

Boise (last season- 1st in AL) has talented young position players, but lost a few table setters in the offseason. Losing RF Abdullah Dillon (Houston) and CF Hideo Nakano (Vancouver) knocks down the potential of the offense a bit, but it's still potent, with speedsters 2B Hal Ball, IF Victor Flores, and IF/OF B.C. Stone (who needs to cut down on his strikeouts a bit). The power in the lineup is mostly on the bats of DH Santiago Martin and IF Ryan Hamill. Expect to see super prospect LF Barry McEnroe at some point to add to the middle of the order.

Helena (last season- 6th in AL) will be led by its veteran outfield. The 3 leaders in RBI for the team last season were RF Wally Harvey, CF Will Weston, and LF Jeremy Glover- all three will be back this season. SS Kevin Kim is the speedster table setter for the Grotto Gottos. They could use speedy infielders Paul Ingram and Jay Hegan to get on base more.

Anaheim (last season- 11th in AL) isn't devoid of offensive talent- they're just in a loaded division. 3B James Dixon fell one homer short of a 40-40 season- he's been around so long it's hard to believe he's only 27. LF Pedro Candelaria had a monster season (.312-41-127), and power hitting 2B Bob Spencer finished one RBI short of 100. They'll be the middle of the order, with IF/OF George Spencer. They're hoping free-agent signing Bob Owens (from Toronto, now KC) will add depth.


Seattle (last season- 2nd in AL) has one of the best top 3 in the rotation in the AL. Kane Grahe, Junior Bennett, and Miguel Benitez are very good- Benitez is not at the Cy Young form he was a few seasons back, but he doesn't have to be- he can be a good #3 guy behind the ace Grahe and Bennett at #2. Marty Lane pitched better in Seattle than he did in Chicago, but how much he can give the Killer Whales is a bit of a question. What's not in question is that Quilvio Sanchez, despite blowing 6 saves last season, is an elite closer- he did save 44 with a 2.35 ERA. Lefties Frank Lightenberg and Larry Carasone, along with righty Trent Bollea, help form a fairly deep relief crew.

Anaheim (last season- 4th in AL) pitched better than their run total suggests, as they gave up a lot of unearned runs. They'll go with youngsters Mateo Batista and Peaches Thompson along with veteran Andy Ramsey to head the rotation. They'll give rookie Gaylord Matthewson a shot at the the last spot in the rotation. The closer's role is up for grabs, as last season's closer Vic Trevino, former Syracuse closer Jared McMahon, and the capable Andres Rivera are all on the roster.

I'd rate Helena (last season-6th in AL) very close to Anaheim- you could have a pretty good argument over which staff is better. Helena will be led by ace Louie Martin, who backed up his best season ever with an even better one at 17-5. York Burnett, Bob Delaney, and Anthony Hall are all decent pitchers. Veteran Dave Stewart will close, so Coco Hines will be paid $6.1 million to set up.

Boise (last season- last in AL) still has to get this part figured out to be a contender. One piece is in place in starter Pedro Limon, but the rest of the staff is in flux. Mitch Foster and Philip Crane aren't great starters- they're OK. Last season's closer, Alex Cornejo, will set up Don Wang this season- that might be a bullpen that blows some games.


1. I like Seattle to win the division and maybe the AL again.
2. Helena is the second place team in this division and should compete for a wild card spot.
3. Boise is maybe a season or two away- I know they made great strides, but they need to figure out the pitching staff before they take the next step to legitimate playoff/division contender.
4. Anaheim is not a bad team, but they're just behind the other three. I think this is the only AL division in which they would finish last.
5. Not sure who would be traded in or out- this is an odd division, with each team following its own plan.

Monday, November 16, 2009

AL South Preview for Season 8

Last season was a banner year for the AL South. Jackson took its 1st division title and established itself as one of the elite teams in the AL before flaming out in the playoffs. Oklahoma City and Monterrey both grabbed wild card berths. Can Jackson hold off the OKC and Monterrey challenges again this season? And what's happening in Charlotte?


Jackson (last season- 3rd in AL) continues to bring up talented, young hitters. As if having a nucleus of 3B Brook Teut, 2B Tony Johnson, DH Esteban Vega, and LF Dennis Tamura wasn't enough (Vega is the old man of the group at 28), they have potential rookie of the year candidate CF Raul Vallarta this season. If RF Brandon Rhodes could get thrown out stealing less and get on base more, this could be a league-leading type offense.

Oklahoma City (last season- 4th in AL) has an interesting dilemma. They've got quality batters at the COF/1B positions in Vladimir Rodriguez, Victor Mercado, Richard Moreno, and DH Willie Sierra. But it's hard to believe there's no room in the lineup for Brant Belle, who led the team in homers and RBI last season. But that seems to be the worst coming out of the OKC papers. The aforementioned players and CF Thurman Allen make this a fairly deep lineup, no matter how it's configured.

Monterrey (last season- 12th in AL) struggled offensively for maybe the first time in their history last season. They'll bring back a balanced lineup, featuring 2B Del Lopez, DH Tony Escuela, 1B Emmitt Yearwood, and LF Marcus Reboulet. They're very high on C Vin Logan, so much so that they traded C Rick Anderson to Boston. Logan should be a very good power hitter in this league.

Charlotte (last season- last in AL) is starting to rebuild its lineup, but there's just not enough there right now. In addition to veteran C Tony Stieb, they have good young hitters in LF Luis Melo, CF Thomas Rasmussen, and DH Mel Messner. Problem is, after those four there are no consistent threats. This team could finish last in offense again.


Jackson (last season- 1st in AL) has a deep staff from top to bottom. The top of the rotation is manned by Alex Samuel, who is good for only about 160 innings but can be phenomenal, and 15-game winner Fausto Almanza. The back three (Jimmy Cole, Carlos Martinez, and Ivan Webster) provide quality innings. Garry Wright is one of the best closers, and there are plenty of good setup arms: Joe Street, Josh Drese, Daniel Jones, and Vic Molina are all good options.

Monterrey (last season- 7th in AL) isn't as deep as Jackson, but has some good veteran arms. Patrick CLifton (19-8, 3.01) had a very good year last season, and he'll be backed by Johnnie Reagan, Albert Gonzalez, and Luther Brush. Pablo Rijo had a fine year as closer, and he'll be backed by Patrick Sullivan in the bullpen.

OKC (last season- 5th in AL) somehow had a top half staff that won 89 games despite walking over 100 batters more than any other AL squad. Their rotation will be led by the erratic but successful Heath Caufield and Teddy Hennessey. Sadie Witt comes over from Boston to provide some innings. Leading winner Wayne Wilson will start the season in the bullpen trying to get to J.D. Wilkinson, who had an excellent season last year (38 of 38 saves, 1.84 ERA).

Charlotte (last season- 13th in AL) can't compete with the rest of the division in this category, either. Heath Duffy probably had the best season despite only going 7-13. Josh Gant is trying to come back from elbow surgery that ended last season forhim before it began. Felix Comer had a tough season, and rule 5 guy Alfredo Veras isn't a star, so this rotation is a bit short. Longtime starter Ham Bruske opted for retirement. Jerry Taylor, who needs to work on his control a bit, will get first crack at the closer's role. The setup positions are very thin.


1. I like Jackson for their second straight division title.
2. Monterrey should beat out Oklahoma City for second this time. They've got too much talent.
3. I don't see the OKC Obese Supermodels (?!?) using last season as a springboard to the big time, as Jackson did a few seasons back. They probably have enough to contend for a playoff spot, though.
4. Charlotte should finish miles behind the other 3.
5. Don't be suprised if both Jackson and Monterrey stand more or less pat. Jackson has increased its payroll dramatically over the seasons, but mostly by paying their young stars, not importing talent. Monterrey is already spending the most money in the league on its payroll at almost $105 million, so it's doubtful they'd find the cash to swing a major deal.
6. As for possible departures, look for Charlotte C Tony Stieb to be shopped.

AL North Preview for Season 8

Last season saw a shift in the balance of power in the AL North. The Milwaukee Manic Maulers, the 6-time defending AL North champions and the 4-time defending AL champs, finished at 82-80, leaving them in 2nd place in the division and out of the playoffs. The St. Louis Silly Nannies (now the St. Louis River City RAGE) won 86 ballgames to take the division and managed to make an ALCS appearance. Will Milwaukee be back on top this season? Or did last season signify a changing of the guard? And what about the upstate NY teams, Buffalo and Syracuse?


St. Louis (last season- T-7th in AL) starts with maybe the best leadoff man in baseball in 1B/LF Nick Hernandez. He's not a prototypical slugging first baseman, but when you score 119 runs, steal 71 bases, walk 4 times for each strikeout (124 walks to 31 Ks), and get on base at a .461 clip, lack of power can be overlooked. Besides, in DH Chris Newson, 30-30 man 2B Rico Guevara, OF Pepe Martin, and 1B Rex Kent, there's enough power in the lineup. Look for Gary Nelson, brought over from Trenton last season, to flourish as the full-time CF.

Milwaukee (last season- 9th in AL) is not used to being in the bottom half of the league in runs scored, and I don't see it happening again. Former MVP CF Luis Martinez, RF Harold Lewis, LF Burt Stevenson, and young 1B Julio Silvia all drove in at least 90 runs. Add to that an aging but still somewhat dangerous Andre Eckenstahler, a full season of IF Nate Cox (traded from Salem last season), and speedy infielder Lorenzo Santana, and Milwaukee's lineup looks pretty deep- maybe not as deep as in the AL championship seasons, but definitely enough to compete for a playoff spot.

Buffalo (last season- 10th in AL) is likely to succeed or fail on the backs of their young players. Yes, they still have highly dangerous 1B Julio Diaz (.273-59-149) and slugging RF Henry Rogers (.239-48-105), but this team is going to belong to the likes of highly talented rookie OF A.J. Leonard, sophomores 2B Alex Saenz and SS Santiago Manzanillo, and LF Tito Martin (4th season). If they play up to ability, this could be the deepest lineup since the team was in Cleveland for seasons 1 and 2.

Syracuse (last season- 15th in AL) lacks depth in the lineup. They'll be led by star 3B William Nomo (who would probably be a superstar if he were playing for a contender). RF P.T. Lee (.313-28-75) had a nice rookie season and could be a star in the making, and C/DH Peter Sosa returns as one of the few consistent threats in the lineup. They signed free agent C/DH Willis Petrov from Trenton to add depth, but they could probably use a leadoff and/or table setter type hitter.


St. Louis (last season- 3rd in AL) has good depth in the rotation. They'll start with budding star Yogi Anderson and follow with quality depth in Russell Newson, Lloyd Freel, Antonio Perez, and free-agent pickup Billy Nation. The bullpen is in the best of hands in ace closer Carlos Carrasco- he had another season for the ages last season (42 of 43 saves, 0.88 ERA, 0,83 WHIP, .163 OBA). He's got reliable options in Vic Macias and Tino Okajima in the setup roles.

Milwaukee (last season- 8th in AL) has a rotation that's a lot like its offense- not at vintage quality, but definitely enough to win ballgames. They have veterans James Morton and Woody Hiller leading the way, and they'll be followed by somewhat inconsistent Joe Gleason and Alex Calvo. Paul Saarloos and Graham Costello shift to the bullpen this season, which could make it a big strength; they already have setup man King Burns and maybe the league's second best closer in Quinton Hughes.

Syracuse (last season- 12th in AL) has a new top two in the rotation. The somewhat controversial deal to land ace Steven Michaels may hurt long term as they give up promising prospect Kazuhiro Whang. Whatever the case, they'll be better this season with Michaels and former #4 overall pick Lonny Hernandez as the #1 and #2 starters. Michaels gives them a veteran presence on the mound and a legitimate #1 starter and Hernandez is a homegrown product who should be a very good arm for seasons to come. That will enable Louie Bolivar to slide to a #3 position, which is better fitting for him. The rest of the spots are wide open, as is the closer's role without Jared McMahon.

Buffalo (last season- 11th in AL) might experience some growing pains this season. They'll be relying on sophomores for 3/5 of the rotation in D'Angelo Martin, Miguel Hernandez, and George Hurst. Martin and Hurst both have decent upside (problem is, Hurst is already 26), but I don't see what the fuss about Hernandez is at all. Chris Lowry and Billy Spencer are veteran innings-eaters but far from aces. Closer Archie LeCroy was shaky last season, with an ERA over 5. "Everyday" Al Root is the main setup man.


1. I expect a good race between St. Louis and Milwaukee. I think St. Louis has enough to make it two in a row.
2. I think Milwaukee will be in wild-card contention if they fail to take out St. Louis for the top spot.
3. Going to hedge my bet for third. Syracuse needs some roster depth as of this post time. If they get enough quality arms (free-agency, minors, etc.) and if Steven Michaels stays in Syracuse all season (I'm not convinced he will), then I'll take Syracuse by a nose over Buffalo. If not, the Blue Cheese should get 3rd again.
4. Look for a Simpleton to be traded (Michaels and Nomo are the obvious candidates), but Julio Diaz has been on the block before and could be snatched up by a team looking for a bat if Buffalo falls out of contention early.

AL East Preview for Season 8

With the National League tackled, we now turn our attention to the AL. The AL East is home to one of the two 7-time division champions (Louisville, with Houston in the NL South being the other). Can Louisville make it 8 in a row, or can New York, Scranton, or Boston challenge?


Louisville (last season- 5th in AL) will return 6 players (SS Amp Palmer, C/DH Ernest Montgomery, LF Albert Martin, 1B Ismael Polanco, C Steven O'Malley, and OF Stubby Byrne) who all hit at least 33 homers and drove in at least 89 runs. Palmer is the best all-around player- he can play short and run as well (stole 28 bases last season) and scored a whopping 132 runs. Add IF/OF Orlando Franco, signed from the Houston Riverdogs in the offseason, and Louisville has a deep, versitale lineup. The Legends struck out the fewest times in the AL last season, so it's not an all-or-nothing bunch.

Boston (last season- T-7th in AL) will be led by the middle of the order- SS Daniel Koch, OF Brian Satou, OF Ryan Snyder (traded from Atlanta), and 1B Wilton Petrick. They essentially swapped Trever Russell for Snyder, hoping to get more from Snyder (although Russell's .271-40-117 are hard to top). 2B Tommy Jordan is a good table setter who just needs to cut down on the strikeouts a little. They got C Rick Anderson from Monterrey in an offseason trade- this could be a big bat for the Bambinos.

Scranton (last season-14th in AL) is counting on a key free-agent pickup to bring them back to the middle of the pack. 3B Jay Walker signed as a free-agent from Norfolk- he'll fit right in the middle of the order. Former #1 overall pick CF Turner Dolan is the best all around player on the team, hitting .311 while going 20-20. He'll have LF Chief Pearson (another 20-20 guy), RF Randall Fisher, and 1B Kevin Hyun surrounding him in the lineup.

New York (last season- 13th in AL) doesn't have the depth of the aforementioned teams. Their only consistent threat is RF Karl Benes, who put up a fine year (.312-30-99) on a bad team. CF DeWayne Castillo is a decent complementary piece, but he's no longer a star. The rookies will be asked to pitch in a lot, like power-hitting 1B Mule Mulholland, 3B Marcus Goldman (I'm not as high on him as some of the scouts around the league seem to be), and LF Marcus Friedrich (should be a good player, but I don't think he's quite ready yet). In addition, this team strikes out too often; SS Mateo James had 204 by himself last season. James stole 84 bases last season, but only scored 69 times, thanks in large part to his .286 OBP and all those strikeouts.


Louisville (last season- 9th in AL) felt they could afford to let Carlton Fleming go because of their starting depth. Without Fleming there's no real ace, but Lance Stevens, Hipolito Maradona, and Danny Little are all #2-#3 type starters. They brought in veterans Claude Jacquez (Buffalo) and Norm Edwards (Scranton) to fill out the rotation. In the bullpen, Buddy Titan is a good closer- his ERA was a tad high, though. The one thing that concerns me about this bullpen is their lack of a setup man who can pitch everyday.

Boston (last season- last in AL), as with every other team in this division with the exception of Louisville, is a one-man show. That man is Daryl Cashman, who went 14-4 on a last place team. Philip Allensworth was signed from Salem to provide some depth, but he's 36 and not what he once was. Ivan Hernandez needs some more time to develop. Christy Castillo is an innings-eater, nothing more. In the bullpen, Larry Driskill struggled a bit in his first season- I think he'll do better in his sophomore year in the closer's role. Dan Daley is a solid setup guy to have.

New York (last season- 10th in AL) will be hard-pressed to finish that high again. Kelly Downs is by far the best starter, but it's questionable how much he has left at age 34- he may not be able to get the ball every five days. I don't see Jesus Nunez repeating his good 12-9 season from a year ago. Jerome Graham and Vin Espinosa don't impress me at all. Jason Franco will be handed the closer's job as a rookie- I'm betting on him struggling this season. New York could turn to veterans Freddie Thompson or Tom Cummings if Franco does indeed falter.

Scranton (last season- 15th in AL) probably won't be as bad as they were last season, but they have some serious question marks. J.R. Guerrero is probably the only given in the rotation- he posted a sparkling 11-4 record with a 3.66 ERA last season. Jesus Estrada (Toronto) and Jerry Terry (San Juan) were both brought in for fairly big money after terrible seasons. Steve Elster only posted 5 wins last season. But the biggest question mark of all surrounds talented starter Michael Giambi, who has missed significant time in each of the last two seasons with a shoulder aneurysm- scouts wonder if he'll ever be the same. It's now doubtful he will reach his potential, which seemed pretty high back in the minors. Jose Torrealba will close after being brought over from Fargo- it's his first closing gig. Rookie Eugene Ward and veteran Justin Beverlin are likely to be the two arms out of the pen to set up Torrealba.


1. I would like to pick against Louisville just to do something new, but I can't do it. The Legends should make their 8th straight playoff appearance.
2. Could be a jumble for 2nd, especially with all three of these teams likely to fall out of it and possibly make some deals. As the rosters stand right now, I'd take Boston for second.
3. Scranton and New York are a toss-up. I'll take Scranton on a hunch.
4. Plenty of players are likely to be rumored to be traded, in particular the veteran starting pitchers of Guerrero (Scranton), Cashman (Boston), and Downs (New York). Not sure who actually goes.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Opening Day in The Bigs (II)

While 16 teams opened up this afternoon, the othe 16 had to wait for the night session to get started. Here's a recap:


The 2-time defending champion Atlanta Bandits hosted archrival Trenton and lost 5-1. David Dunwoody went 8 innings, allowing only a Stan Starr RBI groundout in the first. The 1-0 deficit was quickly erased by Trenton's Enrique Park, who hit a 3-run homer in the second to give Dunwoody more than enough runs. New RF Calvin Chang went 3 for 4 and scored twice.

Salt Lake City continued the trend of last season's NL division winners losing on Opening Day, as they fell to the visiting Vancouver Golden Otters, 3-2. B.C. Thompson and Clarence Hartman had back-to-back homers in the first to beat starter Rob Cepeda.

In Austin, the City Limits' double play duo of SS William Satou and 2B Julio Rosa proved to be highly dynamic. Both went 5 for 5; Satou scored four times and stole four bases, and Rosa drove in 5 as Austin beat San Juan 11-6. Austin 1B Jimmie Williams chipped in with 3 RBI.

In Kansas City, the newly christened Scouts lost their first ever game in Kansas City. They hosted Chicago and lost a 5-4 decision. Bernie Soriano slugged 2 homers for the Snake Tamers to fuel the victory, including the first ever in Kauffman Stadium (which was also the first hit). Orlando Diaz had the first Kansas City hit, and Kevin Yamakazi had the first ever Scouts homer.


The defending AL champion Seattle Killer Whales beat Helena 4-1 in their opener. King Winn drove in 2 for the Killer Whales, but the story was the pitching of ace Kane Grahe, who went 8 innings and gave up only one run to the Grotto Gottos (a sixth inning Kevin Kim homer).

Monterrey pulled off a furious comeback against rival Jackson in what was maybe the best opening game. Down 4-1 in the ninth and facing superstar close Garry Wright, they managed to get 4 runs for a 5-4 win. Derrick Matthews hit a 1-out solo homer, then a 2-out Tony Escuela single drove in two the tie the game. Vin Logan followed with an RBI single to win the game.

In St. Louis, the River City RAGE easily beat the Syracuse Simpletons 9-0. The story of the game was rising star pitcher Yogi Anderson, who pitched 8 shutout innings. St. Louis blew the game open in the third with a bases-clearing double by Pepe Martin followed by a 2-run homer by Pep Woo.

In New York, Ryan Snyder made his Boston debut a memorable one, hitting a homer in his first at-bat as a Bambino and then driving in the game-winning run in the tenth inning to give Boston a 5-4 win over New York. Snyder and 2B Tommy Jordan each had three hits. Tony Howell pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings in relief for the win.

Opening Day in The Bigs (Part I)

This cycle saw half the teams in the league open their seasons. Here's a recap of the action:


In Fargo, reigning Cy Young winner Javier Henriquez got his season off to a slow start, yielding 4 runs in six innings to Philadelphia. C Arnold Hunter started his season with a 2-run homer in the first to get the Phantoms well on their way to a 5-0 victory. 2B Brian Sweeney was the other hitting star, adding a 2nd inning 2-run single to double the lead.

Houston opened their season in New Orleans and, like Fargo, couldn't open their division title defense with a win on Opening Day. 1B Ray Cepicky was the star of the game for the Voodoo, driving in 5 to pace New Orleans to an 8-4 victory over the Riverdogs.

In Salem, the Sacrifices nearly wasted a fantastic effort from starter Benji Stewart, who pitched 8 shutout innings against Cheyenne. Jamey Dwyer came in to close but surrendered back-to-back homers to Wendell Durrington and Yeico Solano. With 2 runs in and a man on first, Salem called on Arthur Gates, who surrendered a single to Lynn Abernathy but got pinch-hitter Manuel Trinidad to line out to preserve a 3-2 victory.

In Washington, the Norfolk Destroyers took advantage of poor efforts by the Blue Coats bullpen to blow out Washington 13-3. Every starting position player except star RF Justin Gordon had at least two hits, and three players (2B Del Hernandez, 1B Al Cruz, and CF Karim Barajas) each drove in 3 runs in a balanced Destroyers attack.


In Louisville, the only AL division winner from last season to open so far won a wild 11-10 decision over Scranton. The Legends, in their home opener, jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first but found themselves trailing 10-7 in the bottom of the ninth before an Amp Palmer solo homer followed closely by an Orlando Franco 2-run shot tied the game. Franco then scored the winning run in the 11th on a 2-out single by Julian Poole.

In Milwaukee, Manic Maulers starter Alex Calvo went the distance and was aided by a 2-run single in the 2nd by John Stevenson and a Nate Cox 2-run blast the next inning to lead Milwaukee to a 5-2 win over Buffalo. Calvo only surrendered one earned run and five hits over the nine innings.

In Boise, Damaso Brogna snapped a 3-3 tie with Anaheim with a one-out double in the bottom of the eighth. The Shadow Wolves tacked on two more in the inning and Boise knocked off the visiting Chiles 6-3. Boise's Alex Cornejo was charged with a blown save, spoiling starter Pedro Limon's short but good outing (5 innings, 9 hits, only one run) but then managed to get the win.

In Charlotte, Oklahoma City was locked in a tough match with the Princesses before blowing the game open with six runs in the ninth. With the score already 4-1, CF Thurman Allen put the finishing touches on the game with a grand slam to make it 8-1, which was the final score. Heath Caufield went six strong innings for the win.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

NL Playoff Preview

Unlike past seasons, I'm not going to make playoff predictions before the season starts. I'll simply group each team into one of 4 categories:

Pennant Contenders

Salt Lake City

Playoff Contenders

New Orleans

Wild Card (not sure what to make of them)

Chicago (I don't think their roster is done yet)
Washington (mid-season call-ups could greatly affect their season)


Kansas City
San Juan

If this list is accurate, we essentially have (likely) 3 teams for the last playoff spot. Mid-season moves could play a large role and this should make for some interesting baseball, particularly at the end of the season.

NL West Preview for Season 8

Last season was a bittersweet one for the division champs, the Salt Lake City Shakers- they won a franchise-best 104 games but failed to win a playoff series. For the rest of the division, it was simply bitter- Cheyenne was felled by a major late-season losing streak, Salem traded away the stars that fueled their Season 1 title, and Vancouver had their third straight disappointing season after their surprise run to the World Series in Season 4. Can the Shakers win again and then contend in the playoffs? Can one of the other three teams shake off the disappointment from last season?


Salt Lake City scored the most runs in the NL last season and should be a very potent lineup again this season. They're one of the few teams that can hit home runs and steal bases. They return 6 players who stole 20 bases, but they've got pop as well, particularly 1B Ruben Hernandez and IFs Jordan Newfield and Vic James. The lineup doesn't stop there, as C Chris Barrett, IF Che Bong, CF George Lowe, and IF Carlos Batista provide a lot of length to the lineup. Don't be surprised if they finish first again.

Cheyenne (last season- 12th in NL) should be improved with the addition of IF/OF Lynn Abernathy. Abernathy, brought in from Atlanta, joins an offense that already boasts LF Steve Sweeney, 3B Wendell Durrington, IF Willie Scott, and the still dangerous, if highly overpaid, Bud Klein in RF. One big question for the Nation is OF Dewey Greenwood- he had his worst season in 5 years; if he can bounce back, this should be a much better lineup.

Vancouver (last season- 10th in NL) will be counting on the longball, as they won't steal many bases. Fortunately, they have a few sources of power, led by C Clarence Hartman, picked up from Helena last season. 3B Vin Foulke had a fairly successful first season in British Columbia, and they also have young players in IF Jerry Strickland and LF Donte Webb who can hit the ball out of the park. Expect 1B Brendan Taft (currently in AAA) to join this lineup at some point.

Salem (last season- 8th in NL) is a little short on bats since dealing Nate Cox. 3B Juan Valdes and RF Melvin Taylor are good players, but they need help. IFs Reggie Ducati and Travis Bush need to provide more offense for this club. It appears that Albert Duran will take Cox's position in CF, but he'll probably never hit like Cox- his game is predicated on speed and defense.


Salt Lake City (last season- 6th in NL) continues to go with a 4-man rotation. Rob Cepeda is the Opening Day pitcher, followed by Rene Alexander, Alex Sanchez, and Gary Jackson. None of the three are a big-time ace, but they're all solid pitchers and can log a lot of innings. SLC could very well be looking for one more starter at some point during the season. The bullpen is pretty solid, with Felipe Calles saving 43 of 48 and Cliff Miller poaching 18 wins in relief. Dude Huskey is still a viable option at age 36 and Bruce Phillips is also good.

Cheyenne (last season- 5th in NL) has talented arms but I'm not sure exactly how they fit together. There may be some holes in the rotation, which will be led again by Enrique Gutierrez and Miguel Reyes. Earl Biddle will be hard-pressed to win 14 games again, and Mark Bong is inconsistent. The bullpen is loaded with arms, but their roles need to be defined. Is Paul Schwartz still the closer after saving 44 games but blowing 13? How much does Wily Mo Owens have left? What exactly does Cheyenne have in mind for big free-agent pickup Christopher Siddall- is he getting paid $8 million as a setup man?

Vancouver (last season- 14th in NL) still has many of the same holes it had last season. They have some nice starters in Oswaldo Astacio, Jose Merced, and Glenallen Wehner, but there's no ace and the back of the rotation is shaky. They'll likely try Pedro Hernandez, Tyler Wilson, and/or Mendy Blackley. The bullpen is shaky after closer Ted Reese.

Salem (last season- 10th in NL) is starting over after dealing David Dunwoody and Dwight Salmon, the long-time aces, to Trenton last season. They'll be led by holdover Benji Stewart and Sammy Garrido, who came over in the aforementioned trade. After that is anyone's guess; they'll have to cobble together a rotation out of guys like Nerio Branson, Tito Mercedes (another pickup from the Dunwoody/Salmon deal), and Rule 5 pickup Nick Davis. The bullpen is a mess, as Jamey Dwyer inherited the closer's position from Arthur Gates- both had ERAs of at least 5. Their best setup man, Clay Bell, went to Washington.


1. Expect Salt Lake City to win this division again by double digit games.
2. Cheyenne should have enough to take second again- they should be in the playoff race for at least a while. If things break right they could be printing playoff tickets.
3. I'll take Vancouver over Salem for third. Don't expect either team to be near the playoff race.
4. Look for Salt Lake City and/or Cheyenne to try and swing a deal for an established starting pitcher.
5. Vancouver's Vin Foulke and Jose Merced could be candidates to be trade bait during the season.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Year of the Shadow Wolves

Well, this is the year we've been building towards in Boise. We feel we have a team that can compete and expect to make a run at a playoff spot. After a slow start, we finished strong last year with the help of rookies Santiago Martin, who lead the team in HRs and Victor Flores who had a great first year at second base. We feel we have the bats to compete with any team in the league. We were second in the league in batting average, hits, and OBP last year, and sixth in OPS. and that was without the monster.

Yes Boise fans, this is the year of the monster. Expect to see Barry McEnroe make the move to the big leagues early in the season. Michael Lee has added his bat to the rotation as well, playing first base. He's looking pretty strong in spring training and should be a solid hitter through the season. We'll also see the first fruit born from the big trade that saw Alex Lim leave town before playing a game in Boise. Star SS prospect Victor Neruda will also be going pro early this year. He's had a couple of good seasons in AAA, and we're looking forward to seeing what he can do in the bigs. The other half of the "Victors trade" (as we like to call it), pitcher Victor Soto will stay in the minors for now to develop a little further, but he'll be on the big league roster by next year at at the latest, and could even be called up late in the season depending on how his development goes.

And speaking of pitching, we now feel we have a decent rotation to go with our hitters, giving us a much better rounded team. Late season addition Don Wang will likely take over the closing position from Alex Cornejo, who's been struggling a little in that role the last couple years. We expect Wang to be in the running for the fireman award. rookie starters Pedro Limon and Mitch Foster should add some much needed stability to our starting rotation, while Vicente Gandarillas will taking the mound in long relief and should keep the scores low. Along with Soto, Hector Manto will spend another year in the minors developing his arm. He's already a good pitcher, but we feel, like Soto, he has the potential to be great and will benefit from waiting another year before making the move to the major league club. The Shadow Wolves have also been in some preliminary talks with Boise free agent Pete Rubel. He wasn't picked up by anyone in the free agent frenzy, and might decide to play another year in Boise before moving on.

This is going to be the most exciting year yet here in Boise, and the Shadow Wolves are only getting better. Lets hope we can see some post season games this year. Shadow Wolves Management Group and Wolf Industries would like to thank you for your time and your continued support.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

NL South Preview for Season 8

We turn our attention to the NL South. Houston has won this division all seven times, but it's not total domination- New Orleans made the playoffs and Austin finished at .500 for the first time in 5 seasons. Can either of these two upward trending teams take down the Goliath of this division? And what's going on in San Juan?


We'll begin with Houston (last season- 3rd in NL), who should put up plenty of runs this season. They'll be led by MVP 3B Monte Duvall, but there's more than that. OF Bob Koplove dropped off from his near MVP campaign of Season 6, but he still put up good numbers. C Cy Hughes drove in 112 last season. In an attempt to get guys on base ahead of the sluggers, Houston signed OF Abdullah Dillon (55 steals last season) from Boise in the offseason and traded for Trenton OF Bret King (35 steals).

New Orleans (last season- 5th in NL) spent some money in the offseason to try and add depth to the lineup. 2B Ray Cepicky and 1B Matty Matos are two of the best in the entire NL at knocking in runs (each had 52 homers and 131 RBI). LF Bryan Christansen added a new dimension by hitting 36 homers and stealing 55 bases last season. New Orleans added free-agents CF Scott Diaz (from Houston) and IF/OF Carlton MacDougal (from Atlanta).

Austin (last season- 7th in NL) has a fairly deep and balanced attack. They can hit the long ball (3B Mariano Terrero, 1B Jimmie Williams, and C Sam Brumfield all hit over 30 homers) and steal bases (they finished 1st in the NL in stolen bases, led by SS William Satou's 109). If LF Gerald Stargell returns to the form he showed in his first two seasons, the City Limits should be even deeper.

San Juan (last season- 6th in NL) will be without the biggest offensive threat they had last season, as 3B/OF Calvin Chang will take his 48 homers and 139 RBI to Trenton. They will return some good pieces in C Junior Tabaka, CF John Baldwin, and 2B Derrin Hernandez. They signed 3B Tony Kwon from Vancouver in the offseason. They'll score runs, but probably not at the rate they did last season.


Houston (last season- 2nd in NL) may have traded Jason Sprague to Trenton, but they feel like they had the depth to do so. They'll return ace Lonny Gates; he'll be backed by Perry Herman, Juan Cabrera, and Ivan Castilla. Matt Skinner blew too many saves last season (33 of 42)- he's got decent setup help, led by Cristian Price.

Austin (last season- 9th in NL) made some big moves in the offseason. They had the beginning of a nice rotation in Ed Allen (10-4, 2.87), Marc Bates (12-8, 3.43), and Delino Colon (13-7, 3.81), but felt they needed more to contend for the playoffs, so they went and signed veterans Carlton Fleming and Matty Eusebio. Louie Feliz is another talented arm- his role seems unsettled. The bullpen is what separates Austin from Houston- the City Limits pen is a mess.

New Orleans (last season- 11th in NL) made the playoffs despite their pitching. Jerome Oliver was good last season, but he and Kevin Pong were the only consistent starters. Vance D'Amico was second to Oliver with 11 wins (Oliver won 13) despite not starting a single game. Tom Hernandez saved 34 of 41 and has D'Amico behind him.

San Juan (last season- last in NL) finished more than half a run behind 15th place Philadelphia and could very well do it again. The starting staff is unspectacular at the top in Charlie White, Shooter Mahoney, and Bert Pierre (from Trenton in the Chang deal). Hipolito Pujols, Benny Alacorn, and Joey Adcock were all awful. Daryl McKinley was shaky as the closer and he'll have little to no help setting up.


1. 8 is great for Houston. They should still have enough to hold off the rest of the division.
2. I like what Austin did in the offseason, enough to put them ahead of New Orleans for second.
3. New Orleans will be in contention again for the playoffs, but they'll have company.
4. San Juan needs a pitching staff before they can contend. They should finish last again.
5. Look for the Dead Bunnies to deal some more veterans. Teams will ask about Tabaka specifically.