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.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

NL North Preview for Season 8

Last season's NL North "race" was more like Secretariat against Mr. Ed. Fargo won the division by winnig 102 games- no other team in the division was above .500. Can Toronto, Chicago, or Philadelphia at least give the Dirtbags some competition?


Let's start this one in Fargo, who has finally shed the reputation of having great pitching and no hitting. They scored the 2nd most runs in the entire NL last season, with 5 players hitting over 30 homers- they'll all return. 3B David Rushford is the lynchpin of this offense, but he's got help in SS Tomas DeJesus, RF William Bolling, LF Alex Lim, and surprising 1B Ricardo Martinez. CF Stan Peterson is the table setter for the big bats.

Chicago (9th last season) checks in next- they're a little shorter on offensive firepower than they used to be. 3B Sean Simpson is still a superstar, but he hit below .300 for the first time in his career. RF Bernie Soriano is the only other returning player (besides Simpson) to hit over 17 homers. 2B Neifi McBride did score 98 runs in front of the big bats, but losing LF Osvaldo Johnson at the end of last season (traded to Seattle) hurts the offense.

Kansas City (11th last season) is going to try and work a couple of rookies into key positions in the lineup. SS Gustavo Contreras (who may be a year away from being a solid major league contributor) and LF Fernando Ibanez will try to help jumpstart a struggling KC offense. Those two will join OF Kevin Yamakazi to provide some help to a lineup that had two regulars with OBPs under .300 last season and stole just 32 bases all season.

Philadelphia (16th last season) may very well be led by a rookie this season. 2B Brian Sweeney is a talented young infielder who ripped up AAA last season, but he'll be joining an offense that finished last in the NL in runs, hits, doubles, home runs, batting average, on base average, slugging percentage, and struck out the most. They rely on speed- 6 guys stole at least 16 bases last season. Problem is, half of them had OBPs under .300 and none had an on-base percentage higher than .328.


Fargo (last season- 3rd in NL) still has the brand names to be in contention every single season. Javier Henriquez won his third consecutive Cy Young award (fourth overall ) and is still only 28 (it only seems like he's been around forever, especially to NL hitters). One could argue that Sammy Pierce was every bit as good as Henriquez last season, and midseason pickup Orber Marin and veteran Manny Christians give Fargo depth in the rotation. The bullpen is also so deep it could afford to lose Chris Siddall to free agency- they still have closer Bert Price and setup man Kevin Li. They also picked up Chris Jennings from Trenton to essentially replace Siddall.

Kansas City (last season- 7th in NL) rode a top half pitching staff to a second place finish in the division. The question is: can they repeat it? Rob Cather was the big surprise last season, going 15-6 for a below .500 team. Jeremi Gant and Hipolito Santana both pitched in double digit wins (they did have losing records). They'll add rookie Ozzie Acker to the mix and see if they can get another good season out of the rotation. In the bullpen, an unnamed source in the organization says the manager is leaning toward giving Mark Ott the closer's role over incumbent Cody Williamson, who only blew four saves but gave up 64 hits in less than 50 innings. Heath Rollins was very good last season.

Philadelphia (last season- 15th in NL) made a big free-agent signing last season with Harry Lee, and they did it again. They're going to gamble on the right elbow of Albert Herzog, late of the Louisville Legends, who missed most of last season after having Tommy John surgery. He'll join Lee and long-time ace Bernard Robinson to make a fairly solid top three. Turner Darr is way overpaid, but he now slides into the #4 spot, which is more fitting for him. Kid Johnstone had a decent season as the closer (he didn't get too many chances). Kenny Holmes is probably the best setup option, which isn't saying much.

Chicago (last season- 12th in NL) has issues in the rotation. Babe Broadhurst was very solid at 12-12, but he posted the fewest wins for his career (tied) and the highest ERA of his career. The sharp dropoff is a concern this late in Babe's career (he's 36)- if Chicago fans are worried he's going to fall off the proverbial cliff, they may have good reason to fear. No other Chicago starter posted double digit wins. Slash Ruffin was very good (6-5, 2.75) in half a season and should get a full-time gig this season. Willie Williams and Orber Halter are middling starters who probably can't pitch every 5 days anyway. Kenneth Graves may be struggling due in part to lack of a defined role, but he's got too much talent to post a 4-12 record with a 4.75 ERA. Graham Rivera seems to have the edge over Eduardo Moya for the closer's role.


1. Fargo in another runaway. They've got way too much for the rest of the division.
2. I think Chicago is going to find a way to place second. I don't think they're done configuring their roster. But unless they somehow quite a few big-time players, I don't see them challenging for a playoff spot. I just don't think they're as bad as they were last season, although their roster seems to indicate they are.
3. Kansas City should be close to second. They're still building and trying a slow approach. Time will tell if they have the right pieces.
4. Philadelphia will be last again. Their starting pitching will keep them in a lot of games this season. Their offense will be the reason they lose those games.
5. If you don't already, you'll probably know the name Slash Ruffin by the end of the season. I see him building off his 1/2 season into something big.
6. I'd nominate Yamakazi as the most likely to be dealt to a contender.

NL East Preview for Season 8

Wow, hard to believe it's been seven full seasons of great baseball here in The Bigs, the best league in all of HBD. Last season was something new, as we saw our first two-time champion in the Atlanta Bandits, who have pulled it off back-to-back. Can they 3-peat? Can Trenton, who threatened them late in the season and then took them to the brink in the playoffs, overtake them this season? Is this the season a better Washington team makes some noise? Do southern Virginia baseball fans have hope after a tough Season 7 in Norfolk?

Note: All offensive team rankings are by runs scored. All pitching rankings are by ERA.


- We'll start in Trenton. Their offense made a quantum leap, going from 13th the previous season all the way to 4th and they should be even better this season. OF/3B Calvin Chang, long an MVP candidate, makes his way to New Jersey from San Juan to join 2B Cap Herrera, 1B Stephen Mills, C Vasco Lopez, LF Magglio Perez, and 3B Enrique Park to form a long and dangerous middle of the order. CF Watty Miller had a very good season in the leadoff spot (.331-20-61). The only question mark may be speed- Bret King was the only stolen base threat and he was just traded to Houston.

- Atlanta was inconsistent offensively and it may happen again- they finished 14th and still have some holes. They've got offensive talent, but only 1B Stan Starr and 3B Albie Torres seemed able to drive in runs consistently. RF Ryan Snyder, C Odalis Perez, and CF Paul Turnbow all have offensive talent- if they realize it, this is a viable offense. If not, they could struggle again.

- Washington scored the 13th most runs in the NL last season and their leader in RBI, Eddie Greer, is still unsigned as of press time. They'll be counting mostly on the running game, as SS Marino Coronado and CF Tony Delgado both stole over 40 bases last season. However, they can't steal first- Coronado's OBP last season was .304. 2B Willis Biddle is a good all-around hitter and LF Peter Guerrero seems to be a legitimate slugger for the Blue Coats.

- Last season was all but a 1-man show in Norfolk (15th in NL last season). RF Justin Gordon had another fine season, reaching 50 homers for the first time (which was a full 30% of the team's entire total). C Tony Gutierrez was the only other Destroyer to top 20 (he had 23). OF Melvin Nakano had a nice season, scoring 80 runs and getting on base at a .381 clip. SS Ignacio Diaz was a huge disappointment, and 2B Del Hernandez would have been too if not for his 27 steals, which makes him only an ordinary disappointment.


- As we always seem to do, we'll begin in Atlanta (1st in NL). Yes, they may have lost Eusebio and Michaels, who combined for 28 wins, but there's still plenty here. Fred Carter and Stone Curtis are legitimate top of the rotation guys, and expect rookies Santiago Perez and Kazuhiro Whang to fill in nicely to the #3 and #4 roles. The bullpen was remarkable last season, as close Tex Howell had an ERA under 2, and setup men Rob Gilmore, Emmanuel Nunez, and Trot Fultz all were sparkling in their roles.

- Trenton (4th in NL) definitely stepped onto another level when they grabbed aces David Dunwoody and Dwight Salmon from Salem last season. They became the front line starters the Traffic have never had in their history and were almost enough to take down Atlanta. Jason Sprague comes over from Houston and should be a very good #3 starter. Damion Mays, Will Piper, and York Watson all won 10 games and will battle for the #4 and #5 spots. . Another 10 game winner, Bert Pierre, is now in San Juan. The bullpen is a little iffy as well- Chris Jennings is gone and Bernie Corino was a little shaky at times but wasn't bad. Karl Coleman had an outstanding season as a setup man- it may be a little much to ask him to repeat a 9-0 record and a 3.15 ERA over 100 full innings.

- Norfolk rode ace Rod Walters to an 8th place finish in NL ERA last season. Walters won a career high 15 games for a last place Destroyers team- he and Gordon are the unquestioned leaders of the team. After Walters, the rotation is in flux- Bobby Davenport (9-13, 4.89) was the only other pitcher not to make a relief appearance. Eddie Marquis, Malcolm Lawrence, and Ricardo Gabriel were just three of the guys who tried to start with little success. Dan Young was the only person to put up good numbers outside Walters. Out of the bullpen, Del Aquino saved 33 of 37 despite giving up way too many baserunners (1.51 WHIP). Ariel Lee, a long-time quality setup arm, remains in Norfolk.

- Washington finished 13th in ERA and they should struggle, perhaps for the last time for a while (more on this later), again this season. The team leader in wins was Dixie Reynolds with 10 -he might have pitched a bit over his head last season. Alex Samuel looked very solid in 13 starts after coming up from the minors- it will be interesting to see how he fares in a full season. Bip Brock took a step back last season. The best arm on the staff probably belongs to closer Alex Javier, who saved 35 games with a WHIP under 1. Setup could be a big question. What is not in question is Washington fans are looking forward to the arrival (maybe in part this season) of what they call "The Legion of Lefties" in prospect starters Carter Leonard, John Balfour, and Barry Rader.


1. Hard to pick against the champs. Guess I'll have to take Atlanta by a nose. Expect Trenton to be right there with them yet again if they don't win it outright. (yes, I know that's hedging my bet a little. Deal with it.)
2. Second place team here should make the playoffs and be very dangerous. Whether it be Trenton or Atlanta, this division's wild card team could end up winning the pennant in the end.
3. Washington won 74 games last season- I'll give them 3rd at about the same win total. They've come quite a way in the last few seasons, but I think this season is about treading water until the big arms in the minors are ready.
4. Norfolk is in full rebuilding mode. I see them still behind Washington but not awful (as in 1962 Mets) and they'll look to make some moves to get younger.
5. Look for Atlanta to try and add some bats (at least one) and Trenton to go after a starter to go behind Dunwoody and Salmon.
6. Most likely to be traded- definitely one of the Destroyers, not sure which. Biggest deals would be for Gordon and Walters.

Free Agent signings

The free-agency period is now over and the big names have signed. Here are some of the highlights:

- Arguably, the biggest name out there was a 37 year old pitcher. Chris Siddall, formerly of Fargo, has signed with Cheyenne for 3 years, $24 million with a mutual option for $8 million for a fourth year. No word from the Cheyenne camp as to whether they plan to start him or use him as a reliever.

- Cheyenne wasn't done- they also went out and got former Atlanta CF Lynn Abernathy. Abernathy could very well be moved out of CF to the infield at this point of his career. He'll get 2 years, $14 million with a mutual $7 million option after that to join Siddall in Wyoming.

- Speaking of Fargo pitchers, one did decide to stay. The Dirtbags re-signed closer Bert Price to a 2 year, $11.2 million extension. Price saved 32 games last season.

- New Orleans took their new starting CF from their division rivals. Former Houston outfielder Scott Diaz joins the Voodoo for 2 years and $13 million, with the team holding a $5 million option for a third year. Diaz has stolen over 400 bases in his career.

- Louisville re-signed veteran starter Danny Little to a 3 year, $20.4 million extension. The $6.8 per year was exactly the same as he had been earning over the last 4 years with the Legends. Little has won at least 10 games 6 out of the 7 seasons that The Bigs has been in existance.

- The Legends then added IF/OF Orlando Franco, formerly of Houston. Franco gets a lucrative 3 year, $26.2 million deal. He went 20-20 for the Riverdogs last season.

- After 2 decent seasons in Norfolk but never quite living up to the expectations after being traded for popular starter Babe Broadhurst, Jay Walker has opted for a change of scenery. That scenery is in northeastern PA, as he'll join Scranton after signing a 2 year, $14.4 million deal. Walker set a career high in doubles last season and a career low in runs.

- Finally, Austin will get a veteran presence on the mound as they add both Carlton Fleming and Matty Eusebio. Fleming, now a former Legend, gets one year at $5.3 million with a mutual option for a second season at the same price, while former Atlanta Bandit Eusebio will pitch on the same contract, except at $5.4 million. The two pitchers have 208 combined career wins.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

St. Louis changes team name, TBDN reporter tossed from press conference

The Trenton office of TBDN stirred up a little controversy at today's press conference in St. Louis. The AL North team formerly known as the Silly Nannies held a press conference at Busch Stadium to announce the team was changing its name to the RAGE. The first question came from Trenton reporter Anita Dolla, who asked "Why did you decide on something that sounds like a professional indoor soccer team name?". St. Louis representatives refused to answer the question and Ms. Dolla was escorted from the building by security. The press conference continued for about ten minutes afterward.

The offseason trade scorecard

As opposed to real life, most of the big-time trades are made in the offseason. Thus far there haven't been too many deals, but some blockbusters have already gone down.

Fargo Dirtbags and Trenton Traffic

Fargo gets: RP Chris Jennings
Trenton gets: RP Furio Diggins (Hi-A), RP Roy Stock (AA)

Analysis: The loss of Chris Siddall to free agency left a spot in the Dirtbags bullpen which appears to be filled by Jennings. Jennings can either set up Bert Price or close if Price struggles. Trenton is paying for most of his salary this season, so he comes cheap for one year but he's got three more seasons after this one, which is part of the reason why Trenton was willing to deal him. Trenton received Diggins, who is a #5 starter at best, and Stock, who isn't ever going to be a ML closer but could pan out to be a solid reliever.

Boston Bambinos and Monterrey Sultans

Boston gets: C Rick Anderson
Monterrey gets: C Grover Becker, LF Ron Cookson (AAA)

Analysis: Boston was willing to give up Cookson, a well-rounded offensive corner outfielder, to upgrade their catching position. Anderson has always been a decent defensive catcher but has seen his average fall an amazing 96 points over two seasons. The good news is he's still only 25 and has two seasons of at least 29 HRs and at least 96 RBI under his belt and he is moving to Boston, a good hitters' ballpark. As for Monterrey's catching situation, they seem likely to go with rookie Vin Logan, who is not nearly as good defensively as Anderson but has the potential to be a monster hitter.

Trenton Traffic and San Juan Dead Bunnies

Trenton gets: 3B/OF Calvin Chang
San Juan gets: SS Brandon Martin, SP Bert Pierre, RF Tony Gutierrez (AAA)

Analysis: Trenton overhauled their offense last season and made great strides even before the Dunwoody/Salmon deal and the Traffic feel this is the last piece of their offense. Chang put up numbers worthy of MVP discussion last season for last place San Juan and should get plenty of opportunities in the middle of an already good lineup. Pierre was arguably Trenton's best pitcher last season before the big trade- he went 10-8 with an ERA of 3.47 last season. Martin's value depends on whether he can develop defensively- he would be a good hitter for a shortstop, but not good enough at any other position (at least on a contending team). Gutierrez is now the heir apparent in RF- he isn't likely to ever hit like Chang, but he's hit .300 with about 20-25 HRs in the minors and that might be good enough for the Bunnies.

Syracuse Simpletons and Atlanta Bandits

Syracuse gets: SP Steven Michaels, SP D'Angelo Ramirez (AA)
Atlanta gets: SP Kazuhiro Whang

Analysis: This one, I have to admit, is a bit of a head-scratcher for me. The deal does seem to be relatively even, but you normally don't see a 35-year-old starter get traded FROM a contending team (in this case, the back-to-back World Series champs) TO a rebuilding team (Syracuse went 71-91 last season and has finished last in the AL North each of the last three seasons). You would have to think that Syracuse feels this is their season to contend. Michaels is one of the most decorated pitchers in this league, with 6 All-Star appearances and a Cy Young to his name. He went 16-9 with a 2.79 ERA last season, so he's still one of the top pitchers in the league. Ramirez has control issues, but if he can find the plate, he could be a decent back of the rotation type guy. As for Atlanta, they get Whang, a 21-year-old potential ace who may need a little time to develop. Interesting deal in the respect that this may cost Atlanta in the short run, especially if Whang needs another season or two in the minors, but probably benefits them long term,