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
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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).