Wednesday, November 17, 2010

One on one with St. Louis GM solowkoe

We recently caught up with the GM of the World Series champion St. Louis River City RAGE, solowkoe, to chat about the state of his franchise, the recent trade veto, and Hoops Dynasty among other things. Here's what solowkoe had to say:

What do you think were the keys to St. Louis’ World Series title run last season?
Not panicking. The first few season I was here, my team would do bad in the beginning and I would start calling people up, signing FA’s, looking for a waiver to pick up or start looking to make trades. Now, after noticing that my team almost always gets off to a slow start, I tend to do little things instead of panicking, like maybe changing up the order, or letting a back up get some time. Maybe do some micro managing or even do the opposite. The players are good enough; they can handle a small slump.

What sort of changes, if any, can we expect with the River City RAGE this season?
Well, I think the landscape is changing for me as some of my better players are starting to get up there in age. I have let a few go to FA and I’m always looking for that cheap FA that everyone passed on but is good enough. Last year, I would say that role went to Tony Burnits and Kevin Pong. Those 2 helped just as much as my stars. This year, I haven’t really brought anyone in, but I think I am going to be moving Alex Silva to 3rd to make way for my defensive SS coming up: Richard Hatteberg. I try to go for defensive players that can muster up some offense.

Who would you say is the greatest player in the history of the River City RAGE?
Carlos Carrasco, hands down in my opinion. I have a few other great players that I think will eventually be more important to this teams history, but this closer has 382 saves in 411 attempts with a lifetime WHIP of .95. He’s drop the ball 29 times in 411 attempts, I consider that a huge asset.

What kind of timetable can we expect with season 10 first round pick Kirk Watson’s journey to the big leagues and do you see him as a starter or a reliever once he gets to the majors?
I have no plans for him yet. So that usually means that he will have a long career in my minors until the call up, or trade bait. He eventually will be a very good player, but he doesn’t really fit my future. I’ve had problems in the past trying to get Lloyd Freel to be a starter, and his stamina is a little better, but he kept getting injured. So Kirk will definitely have to be a RP for me, maybe a everyday setup A or a long relief A.

A series of recent trades between Washington and Ottawa came under some scrutiny and were ultimately vetoed. What were your thoughts on the deals?
Any trade that gets that pitcher out of my division is a great trade IMO :P, but to be serious, it did seem questionable. In the end, it wasn’t anything that would have made me veto it, but I did think that 1 team got much more value then the other (which IMO I’ve seen plenty of times in here). I just didn’t think it was enough to destroy a franchise. Making deals, whether its bad or good, is usually part of baseball. Long as it isn’t a franchise fleecing, I don’t mind.

You’re the coach at DIII Stevens Tech in Iba World. Any plans to move up to DII? We could use another good coach in the Southern Conference (shameless, I know)!
:D great question. Yes, I do plan to move up, but not for at least 4 more seasons. I think I finally figured out a good plan for recruiting and this last recruiting season, I feel is the best I’ve had and I would like to see how good I really did. I have a freshmen PG that has already went up 16 points in perimeter shooting. I can’t wait to see him in his senior year.

The Miami Heat’s “Big Three.” Will it work and why or why not?
I think it will work, but they may need a different coach to make it work. I haven’t liked what the coach has been doing when I’ve seen their games. I think they need more time to get cohesive as well. Will they win it all? No, not until they get bigger. Look at LA and BOS, they need to get bigger to compete with the KG/Perkins or Gasol/Bynum. I think it will work because neither of those stars are hogs. It will take a couple years, but eventually it will come together. Both LeBron and Wade are used to carrying their whole team. Now they need to figure out how to complement their team.

If you could change one thing about HBD, what would it be and why?
Price :P I like the game, but I don’t like how much I pay. Its not ridiculous, but I hate reoccurring charges. I would like to see a permanent discount for loyal customers of the game. I don’t know what it costs them to run this website, but it seems to me like the profit margins are probably decent.

I would like to say thanks to everyone who has helped me over the past. I came into this game as a noob and had to learn a lot. This is still my only HBD team and probably will always be that way. The owners in this world are great at helping and I always learn something new from reading the world chat. Special thanks to ACE, he has helped me with lots of questions, some questions were probably even repeats :). Thanks to KJ for keeping this world in order and for the good questions.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pierce, Duvall swapped in blockbuster

Former MVP and Cy Young winners dealt for each other

Looking to add another strong arm to their starting rotation, the Huntington Riverdogs made the Kansas City Scouts an offer they couldn't refuse. The Riverdogs dealt three-time National League MVP Monte Duvall along with pitching prospects Peter Yang and Luis Tejera to the Scouts for two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Sammy Pierce and prospect Fernando Jimenez.

Pierce, The Bigs' all-time wins leader who used to play Robin to Javier Henriquez's Batman, will now play the role as the number two starer behind Huntington ace Fred Carter. In his only full season with Kansas City, Pierce went 14-12 with a 3.90 ERA and 196 strikeouts in 38 starts.

The Scouts' lineup will look completely different now with a formidable bat sitting in the middle of it. Duvall, the National League's reigning MVP, batted .301 last season with 53 homeruns, 141 RBI and a 1.009 OPS. Duvall's home run power will be a more than welcome addition as the Scouts finished season 11 with just 145 home runs as a team, second-fewest in The Bigs.

Friday, November 5, 2010

St. Louis captures first WS title

River City RAGE make quick work of Bandits

The St. Louis River City RAGE waited 11 seasons for their shot at a World Series championship and once they got there they wasted little time cashing in. The River City RAGE defeated the Atlanta Bandits in five games to take home the first World Series trophy in franchise history.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Henriquez wins sixth career Cy Young Award

Duvall wins third career MVP Award

What many thought would be a rebuilding year in Fargo turned into another division title and it was largely because of what their ace was able to do on the mound. Javier Henriquez captured the sixth National League Cy Young Award of his career by posting a 19-5 record with a 2.47 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 234 strikeouts in 233.1 IP. Henriquez received 17 of a possible 32 votes to take home the award.

In the American League it was St. Louis pitcher Billy Nation taking home his first career AL Cy Young Award, receiving 15 of a possible 32 votes. Nation had a career-year in season 11 going 19-6 with a 3.09 ERA and four complete games in 32 starts for the River City RAGE.

The two MVP votes were not as close as the Cy Young votes. The National League vote went Monte Duvall's way for the third time in his career. Duvall led Huntington's offensive attack this season, batting .301 with 53 homeruns, 141 RBI with a 1.009 OPS. The 30-year-old third baseman received 22 of 32 votes to win the award.

Monterrey's Sean Simpson was awarded the American League MVP award as he also received 22 of 32 votes to win the award. The Sultans of Swat outfielder batted .327 with 46 homeruns, 129 RBI and a .980 OPS. The MVP award is the second in Simpson's career -- he also won the National League MVP in season 3 with what is now the Minnesota franchise.

Atlanta/St. Louis meet in unlikely WS matchup

Season 11 World Series pits #5 seed against #6 seed

The Atlanta Bandits and the St. Louis River City RAGE both had their work cut out for them as the season 11 playoffs began. Atlanta enetered the playoffs as the sixth seed in the National League while St. Louis entered as the fifth seed in the American League, despite winning 100 games during the regular season.

While St. Louis wasn't viewed as your typical underdog #5 seed when the playoffs started due to their regular season success, Atlanta had it's work cut out for them as the team with the second lowest regular season win total to reach the playoffs in the NL. But the Bandits were up to the challenge, defeating the top three seeds in the National League to reach the World Series for the third time in franchise history.

Now the Bandits will try to win their third World Series title in their third appearance while the River City RAGE will try to make a splash in their World Series debut by taking home the crown.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Quinn walk-off sends Fargo to NLDS

Rule 5 rookie winds up Fargo's playoff hero

The Fargo Dirtbags slashed payroll by over $30 million after a disappointing season 10 saw them miss the playoffs with a $100 million-plus payroll. Expected to rebuild and miss the playoffs, the Dirtbags used a late-season push to win their division. Now they're headed to the NLDS with a little help from a Rule 5 selection.

With the decisive Game 5 of the ML Division Play-In Series tied at 5 with two outs in the bottom of the 9th, the Dirtbags turned to rookie Eddie Quinn to pinch hit for reliever Dan Young. The backup outfielder delivered with the biggest hit of his short career, blasting a solo home run to centerfield to propel the underdog Dirtbags into the NLDS. Quinn's solo shot also ended the title defense of the season 10 world champion Huntington Riverdogs.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hernandez the first to 2,000 hits

The Bigs' hit king surpasses 2,000 mark

Earlier in this season, long-time Salt Lake City Shaker and current Boston Bambino Ruben Hernandez became the first player in the history of The Bigs to record his 2,000th career hit. Hernandez, who is in the first year of a four-year $24.4 million contract he signed with Boston this past off-season, also hit his 450th career home run earlier this season.

Now playing in Boston at age 32 and with great makeup and durability ratings, it's reasonable to think that Hernandez will reach the 3,000 hit mark and the 600 home run mark (the latter of those two probably being less likely). Career numbers like that will ensure Hernandez a spot in the Hall of Fame once he retires.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Aginor's Season 11 Draft Review

Year 11 – Draft Review

1 Charlotte Lions – Keith Sele SS (Bonus 4 Mill)
My scouts saw this prospect and to be honest what owner wouldn’t drool over this guy’s offensive and defensive potential ratings. The thing with Keith is can you get him to the potentials?? With a marginal health rating and just okay makeup rating, it will be a challenge. Though positional players don’t usually get the injuries that really hammer the ratings. It’s playing time that is a really key in development and if he spends at a lot of time on the DL instead of playing…those ratings could be impossible to reach. So will Keith hit his MVP potential ratings…we’ll see; though my feeling is that he’ll fall short. Still he has a good chance of being a solid MLer
Rating 8.5

2 Las Vegas Snake Eyes – Kevin Lawson 2B/COF (Bonus 3.9 Mill)
While I’m not convinced Kevin will have the ratings to be a ML Second Baseman, I’m very sure he has the potential to be a great ML hitter. The potential is all there to become a silver slugger at what ever position he plays, he’ll hit for average and power. Considering where he is now and where his potential is, he’s got a good shot at making these ratings
Rating 9.5???

3 Minnesota North Stars – Braden Carroll SP (Bonus 3.8 Mill)
Braden was one of the many SPs available in this draft with great splits but only okay pitch ratings (nothing rated in the 80+). So being part of this crop of young pitchers, he’ll be part of the old HBD question for pitchers … Splits versus Pitch Quality. Again this is an older prospect and therefore closer to his potential ratings. The thing is pitcher don’t develop as fast as positional guys, so there Braden may not make these potential ratings despite being fairly close. Still Braden should make for a solid ML starting pitcher
Rating 9.0

4 Scranton Janitors – Howie Harding SP (Bonus 3.7 Mill)
Overall mostly likely one of the better pitchers available in the draft as far as pitching ratings go. He has one major drawback however, his stamina. We’re talking 5 maybe 6 innings maximum an appearance. He’s going to depend on a strong bullpen to get his wins. Still, they should be 5 quality innings and should give his bullpen a shot at holding on to a lead
Rating 8.5

5 New York Knickerbockers – Posiedon Hemingway SP (Bonus 6.0 Mill with STI)
Definitely one of the more unusual player names available in this draft. I’d of the pitchers that were chosen, he’s no doubt one of the best. Yes his LH split is weak when compared to his RH but that is really a big deal. His makeup rating is fantastic and that should give New York a good shot at getting him to these potential ratings. While an expensive draft pick to sign, I think New York will get their money’s worth
Rating 9.5

6 Philadelphia Phantoms – Henry Sewell 2B (Bonus 3.5 Mill)
Unlike the previous second baseman taken, Henry does have the defensive rating for that position and maybe CF too. BUT his bat is weak for the ML level. Yea sure he’ll be a great base stealer, his speed and base running ratings are fantastic; the thing how often will he get on base…enough to make him a useful leadoff hitter?? I seriously doubt it. His splits are just too low and while his contact rating is good but not good enough to make up for his weak splits and batting eye. I see Henry becoming a defensive specialist and pinch runner IF he makes it to the big league
Rating 5.5

7 Norfolk Destroyers – Francis Peterson SP (Bonus 3.4 Mill)
My pick was one of those pitchers this draft seemed to have lots of (great splits, just okay pitches). The other thing some these pitchers had was a great potential durability rating (40+) for a starting pitcher. He’s got a couple things over the previous two taken, that is his stamina potential is definitely better. Still will his splits overcome his just okay pitch quality… I hope so!!
Rating 9.5

8 Fargo Dirtbags – Rodrigo Melendez C (Bonus 10+ Mill)
Without a doubt the most expensive prospect in the draft (I think the most I’ve ever seen paid). The thing is, is he worth it?? I’d say YEP. A catcher who has these potential hitting ratings and can still be a decent catcher is rare in HBD. Not to mention his durability potential, that is high for his position, and his health rating. If Fargo can get him to this potential, you’re looking at a guy who is going to be a yearly All Star and maybe MVP nominee.
Rating 9.75
(not a 10 or pick of the pay 10 mill for a draft pick he’d better be the best available!!)

9 Vancouver Golden Otters – Bob Zambrano 1B/DH (Bonus 3.2 Mill)
It’s rare to see a 1B/DH go this high BUT he’s unusual prospect. His potential durability could allow him to play all 162 games (rare for his position) and his potential hitting ratings are very good. He’ll hit for average and power as well being able to play every game.. That makes him a real solid top 10 pick.
Rating 9.0

]10 San Juan Dead Bunnies – Ron Rudolph SS (Bonus 3.2 Mill)
The stiff hares got themselves a potential solid future MLer with Ron. Of course that’s if they can get him to those potential ratings, with a marginal health rating that may prove to be a challenge. His potential range is a little low for a ML SS, so he may be more suited for the 3B role. He should be able to hit for a decent average. Overall, in the 10th spot, I’d say he’s worth the gamble.
Rating 8.0

11 Milwaukee Manic Maulers – Vinny King RP (Bonus 3.0 Mill)
Here the first prospect closer taken in the draft AND Vinny could be a great one. He’s another one of the older prospects taken in the draft, therefore closer to his potential ratings then others. His stamina is quite high for a closer. Combine that with a decent durability and he appear in a lot of games for Milwaukee.
Rating 9.5

12 Salem Sacrifices – Miguel Tavarez SP (Bonus 4.3 Mill)
Salem gets a solid future starting pitcher with their 1st round pick. His splits and overall pitch quality should be solid. His pitch quality is deeper than most pitchers. I don’t Miguel will become a #1 spot starter with a rotation but a solid #2 workhorse. He’ll be able to give his team a lot of quality innings.
Rating 9.0

13 Ottawa O-Jays – Harvey Simmons RP (Bonus 2.9 Mill)
Harvey has all the potential ratings to become a solid lights out closer (wait for it), except for one..stamina. Sorry say but 12 don’t really cut it. You’re talking 3 hitters at the very most. Now if his durability was say close to 100, this would help things, but it ain’t. Actually with a just OK makeup rating, there is a good chance he may not make these ratings. Still if he does, he’ll be good just that he’ll not be able to give Ottawa a lot of IPs
Rating 6.5

14 Buffalo Blue Cheese – Douglas Finnessey RF (Bonus 2.8 Mill)
Douglas has the potential to be a solid hitter at the ML level. The thing I’ve found though is with guys with both splits being just good; they tend to be inconsistent from one season to the next. Though Douglas could beat this rap with solid contact rating and great batting eye, if he reaches his potential ratings. The major drawback I see with this prospect is his durability, it’s a little low.
Rating 8.0

15 Seattle Killer Whales – Gregg Schierholtz RF/1B (Bonus 4.0 Mill)
From the 15th spot this is a good pick. Judging the money spent I’d say he was one of those guys who had a shot at NOT signing. With RH split potential and solid power combined with good contact & batting eye ratings..Gregg should be a real good contributor at the dish for the Orcas. He should hit for a decent average as well hitting his share of long flies.
Rating 9.0

16 Boston Bambinos – Otto Millar SP (Bonus 2.6 Mill)
Again another really good pick this far into the first round. One could very well argue this the best pitcher taken to this point and I’d be hard pressed to prove you otherwise. Solid pitch quality, a real good RH split, decent control and enough stamina to go 6-7 innings. Not to mention very good durability, so lots of appearances.
Rating 9.5

17 New York Knickerbockers – Manny Martin SP (Bonus 2.5 Mill)
With their second pick of the first round the Knickerbockers take another pitcher. Like the previous pick this prospect has pretty decent pitching ratings overall BUT this pick has a couple of very glaring weaknesses. Firstly his makeup rating is ‘iffy’ so even getting him to these potential will be tough. The most important weakness is his stamina, it’s definitely not starting pitching worthy. He could be very useful out of the bullpen, again that’s if they can get him to his potential
Rating 7.0

18 Louisville Legends – Gerald Robbins CF (Bonus 2.4 Mill)
Here is another one of the older prospect that was available in this draft. Gerald isn’t that far from his potential ratings. The only this is, I feel his potential is marginal MLer..sorry to say (at from I see). His splits don’t look like they will be good enough to be a steady contributor at the plate. Yes his contact should be good and batting eye okay but… His defensive ratings are definitely possible ML stuff, just will have to see if the bat gets better than what I see.
Rating 6.5

19 Cheyenne Frozen Rope – Alfonso Reynoso SP (Bonus 2.3 Mill)
I saw this guy in my prospect list and started to think ‘here is the guy I want’. THEN I saw his control rating and that thought disappeared pretty fast. I’ve found that while splits and pitch quality can make up for marginal control, bad control is another thing altogether. Now, I feel he still can make for a respectable LP guy out of the pen, but I seriously doubt he’ll be a consistent ML starter.
Rating 6.5

20 New Orleans Voodoo – Livan Guillen C (Bonus 2.2 Mill)
Here is what has to be the steal of the draft, especially when you consider when he is taken, price paid AND then you look at Livan’s potential. A catcher that can hit and is solid catcher (has a good arm and PC ability). I mean this guy will hit at the ML level and not be a liability behind the plate…actually he’ll be an asset. The only thing is he has the usual durability of a catcher. Still if the Voodoo can get him to these potential ratings, here is an annual A/S.
Rating 10

21 Boise Shadow Wolves – Ismael Delgado SP (Bonus 3.3 Mill)
Once again here is a prospect that at first glance looks like he should’ve been a much higher pick. His splits and pitch quality should be excellent and his control is okay. BUT it’s his stamina and health ratings that dropped him. His potential stamina is just barely SP material with the ability to maybe go 6 innings at most. Also his health rating is marginal, so keeping him off the DL may prove difficult and his make up rating is just okay as well. So getting him to these potential rating will be a challenge
Rating 7.5

22 Trenton Traffic – Neil Clark RP (Bonus 2 Mill)
I mentioned before this draft a fair number of pitchers with really high splits and just okay pitch quality. Here is a closer prospect with this combination. The thing he also has is the potential for really good velocity and he’s a lefty. If the Traffic can get this prospect to his potential, they very well could have potential Fireman Award winner. Only knock on this one might be his stamina and durability combination, a little low but still I’d say acceptable.
Rating 8.5

23 St. Louis River City RAGE – Chad Phillette CF (Bonus 1.9 Mill)
While there is nothing really wrong with this prospect, he’s not exactly spectacular either. He’s got the potential to be a steady everyday player for St. Louis. His potential RH split should enable him to hit with a decent average. Also, his potential power isn’t bad, so Chad might make a decent #5 guy in the batting order. Again while not great, still not bad either
Rating 7.5

24 Salt Lake City Shakers – Denny Stetter 2B (Bonus 1.8 Mill)
This could practically be a repeat of what I said for the previous draft pick. Denny should make for a solid MLer if he makes these projections. Unlike the one above, he does have speed but his durability is just marginal. So he could make for a decent #2 man in the order who will have to be platooned. Good thing his RH will be pretty good
Rating 7.5

25 Kansas City Scouts – Gregory Robinson C (Bonus 1.7 Mill)
Well here is the third catcher taken in the first round of the draft. Also, he another one who should be an asset hitting and catching. His stamina is usual for the his position, still he’ll be a solid contributor to the line up when he does play. Taken at this point in the draft, I’m sure the Scouts are really pleased at this pick.
Rating 9.5

26 Austin City Limits – Albert Ford CF (Bonus 1.7 Mill)
At this point in the first round it’s not unusual to see his type taken. He again fits into the category of good but not great group. His splits will mean he’ll be a little inconsistent offensively but defensively he should be a solid fielder. If he makes these potential he’ll be a bottom of the order type of hitter. Still for this spot in the first round, this is a safe pick
Rating 7.5

27 Anaheim Chiles – Kelly Perez CF (Bonus 1.6 Mill)
This is another one those picks I’m curious to see what kind of MLer he’ll make. His defensive potential for CF looks great. His speed and contact should make him a lead off hitter; his solid split will help there too. I’m not sure if his very low batting eye will hinder this potential. His health could definitely hamper him getting this potential. This rating is marginal but again this is a positional guy so long as he doesn’t spend long stints on the DL, he should be able to get the playing time needed
Rating 8.0

28 Montgomery Alibamu – Bernie Alou SS (Bonus 3.1 Mill)
Montgomery took a shot and picked a prospect with a chance of not signing. To be rather frank, when considering the price paid and what I see as his potential maybe it would have been better if he’d hadn’t signed. He’s defensive potential isn’t really ML calibre and his hitting ratings are overall marginal at best. I don’t see Bernie being a starter at the ML level, maybe bench material IF he makes it at all.
Rating 4.0

29 Anaheim Chiles – Reginald Blank 1b/DH (Bonus 1.4 Mill)
Well Anaheim gets two round pick this close together and they take a decent future first baseman with the second of the picks. Reg should become good hitter at the ML level, with very good splits, contact, eye and decent power ratings. He’ll hit for a good average and hit his share of homers, but again he does have the common flaw for his position; that being durability – platoon city. Still a decent pick this late in the round.
Rating 7.5

30 Boston Bambinos – Storm Cassidy SP (Bonus 1.3 Mill)
Well at the risk of stating this again, here is another one of those usual late first round safe picks. Storm will not be a top of the rotation guy but could be a solid dependable #4 guy. That’s not bad really at this point in the draft. Nothing really bad here just nothing great either.
Rating 7.5

31 Atlanta Bandits – Edgar Ortiz SS (Not signed – wanted 1.1 Mill)
My scouts didn’t see Edgar so I’ve got no exact ratings on him. But judging from what his demands are, he doesn’t look like a guy who was at risk of not signing. Could be wrong though. My guess is that Atlanta didn't think he's worth the price.
Rating Zero

32 Washington D.C. Blue Coats – Adam Jones (Bonus 1.1 Mill)
Adam has the potential to become a decent bullpen pitcher; he doesn’t have the pitch quality of a starter. Also, he doesn’t have the splits to make up for the lack of pitch quality. Still he might make for decent lefty coming out of the pen IF he makes these potential ratings.
Rating 6.0

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Amateur Draft Season 11

For a lot of cities (especially in those with fans who know they won't be buying playoff tickets this season), the Amateur Draft is a lot like Christmas, as their team gets to unwrap and get to know what they hope is a future star. But, as we know, not all Christmas presents are the same. So which teams got the latest electronic gadgets and which teams got the ugly sweaters?


Pick: IF Keith Sele

For the third time in 4 seasons, the Lions get the first pick in the draft. Sele is an interesting pick to head an interesting class. He may have the most talent on the board and should be a very good hitter, but I'm not convinced he's a sure star like Joe Grace and Floyd Floyd seemed to be going into their respective draft years. He's listed as a SS, but I'm not sure he can play it in the majors. He also missed some time at Spoon River due to some injuries that some scouts say could nag him throughout his career. It remains to be seen. Grade: A-


Pick: 2B Kevin Lawson

He's no defensive wizard, but Lawson has a rare combination of ability to make contact and power. Should be a middle of the order hitter in the majors someday. He seems like more of a sure thing than Sele, but Sele has a bigger potential upside. Grade: A


Pick: SP Braden Carroll

If he can put his pitches together, he's got the look of an ace. He's a hard throwing lefty and lefties in his college league had a really hard time picking up his sinker due to the way he throws. Good starting pitching is hard to find; Minnesota just got a potential #1 starter. Grade: A+


Pick: P Howie Harding

He's got four solid pitches and fairly good stuff, but is he a starter or a reliever? Scranton management is really going to have to keep an eye on him to try and get as many quality innings out of him as they can. His stuff is good, but not great. He's a first-round talent, but I'm not sure a guy with this many question marks should go in the top 5. Grade: C


Pick: Posiedon Hemmingway

New York's Posiedon Adventure could be a dud for all the quality right-handed hitters in the AL East, as Hemmingway was untouchable against them in high school. Scouts say that you can't always go by high school numbers, but this guy's stuff should translate. The questions about him are having only two decent pitches and that lefties stand a chance. Grade: A-


Pick: 2B Henry Sewell

Sewell is a solid (not great) hitter, but he seems to be a future #2 hitter: he's got a lot of speed, can bunt, can move runners, and runs the bases fairly well. Grade: B+


Pick: SP Francis Peterson

As a fellow NL East denizen, I am not going to enjoy seeing this guy around for years to come. He's a bulldog who will easily throw over 200 innings in his prime. He throws hard and is dominant against righties. The only question is he doesn't have a dominant pitch; he's got three decent ones. I think it will be enough. Grade: A+


Pick: C/1B Rodrigo Melendez

Benji Stewart was the 5th overall pick in season 1 and, until this pick, had the highest signing bonus in the history of the league. Melendez is the first draftee to get an 8-figure bonus. If he winds up at catcher and hits like he's capable of hitting, Fargo fans are likely to think he's worth every penny. This grade goes down if he winds up at 1B. Grade: A+


Pick: Bob Zambrano, 1B

For a 1B to be picked this high, you'd hope he'd be special. Zambrano isn't special, but he is awfully good. This is a pick I would love in the mid to late teens; this may be a little high. On the other hand, he went right to AA ball and is ripping up the pitching there, so he may be for real. Grade: B+


Pick: SS Ron Rudolph

He's going to get a long look at shortstop in the minors because if he can cut it, he'll be one of the best hitting shortstops in the league one day. That is, if he can stay on the field, which is a big time question about this guy. This pick is a very significant gamble. Grade: B+


Pick: RP Vinny King

He's a versitale reliever capable of going multiple innings and is very tough on righties. His fastball is very good; his slurve is serviceable. It will be interesting to see how the Maulers decide to use this guy. Grade: A


Pick: SP Miguel Taverez

If Salem was looking for a lefty in the mold of Sammy Garrido, I don't think they got it. If they were looking for a guy to fall into the rotation behind Garrido, they may have found it. He's got 4 decent to solid pitches and is fairly good against both lefties and righties. So he's not exceptional at anything but is solid across the board. He could be an injury risk (notice a theme developing here?). Grade: B+


Pick: Harvey Simmons

As opposed to King, Simmons is more of your traditional 1-inning closer. He should be very effective at it. He's got a nasty curveball that gets both lefties and righties off balance. Grade: A


Pick: RF Douglas Finnessey

A bit of an oddity, as he's a lefty who seems to hit lefties a lot better than righties. The lack of hitting against right handed pitching may hold him back, but he's a good hitter with an outstanding knowledge of the strike zone and a solid right fielder. Grade: B+


Pick: RF Gregg Schierholtz

We have two back-to-back picks at the same position but who are very different. Schierholtz is a righty who crushes righties and is mediocre against lefties. He's not as good defensively as Finnesey, but he's got massive power in his 6'1", 188lb. frame. Grade: A-


Pick: SP Otto Millar

Boston has needed pitching since dinosaurs roamed the earth. They get a fairly good one in Millar, who isn't overpowering but pitches cerebrally and tries to trick hitters. Righties have a hard time with him (lefties see his stuff a little better) and, unlike some of the other heralded prospects in this draft, he's not likely to get hurt badly. Grade: B+


Pick: SP Manny Martin

Four picks in the AL East, four starting pitchers. This ain't a division, it's an arms race. Lefties are going to want to face Martin about as much as righties will want to face Hemmingway; that is to say, they won't be running up to the plate. His lack of a dominant pitch is his big question mark. At #17, this is a solid pick. Grade: A-


Pick: CF Gerald Robbins

And just like that, the AL East streak is broken. Instead of a pitcher, Louisville gets a centerfielder who can run, is great defensively, and is a very average hitter. Grade: B-


Pick: SP Alfonso Reynoso

I just don't know what to make of this one. The scouts agree he's got great stuff, but he doesn't know where the ball is going, and most think it will completely inhibit his ability to be a quality or even a serviceable major league pitcher. He's likely to dominate the lower minor levels, but scouts don't think he'll ever pan out. I won't fail him (a la Bob Ramsey), just in case he does somehow find a way to overcome his lack of control. Grade: D


Pick: C Livan Guillen

Guillen has the potential to be a solid defensive catcher and a great offensive one. He's got a world of power and hammers lefties. If New Orleans sees him as the catcher of the future, they should get a second catcher who can play fairly regularly, as Guillen won't be able to play 120 games in a season. But he will be a force in the lineup when he does play and is well worth it this late in the first round. Grade: A


Pick: SP Ismael Delgado

Delgado appears to be a solid #2 or #3 type starter, which is a pretty good haul this late in the draft. His control is a bit questionable (he's not nearly as wild as Reynoso) and he throws really hard. He's another injury risk, though. Grade: B+


Pick: RP Neil Clark

Another prototypical closer, Clark is a flamethrowing lefty who is almost unhittable from the left side. He'll be a very good closer if he can get righties out enough; if not, he'll be a good setup guy. Grade: B


Pick: CF Chad Pillette

He's a skinny looking kid, but he can sure hit. He's solid defensively and has good speed, and he's a good hitter. An absolute steal this late in the round. Grade: A


Pick: 2B Denny Stetter

Just what Salt Lake City needs: yet another dangerous hitter. Has middling power and doesn't necessarily own lefties, but does everything else well- he's good defensively, can run, and is a nice line drive hitter. Grade: A-


Pick: C Gregory Robinson

Robinson is a solid two-way catcher; he's got a good arm and will definitely hit. Like Guillen, he's never going to play 120 to 130 games a season, and he's a bit of an injury risk. But at pick number 25, it's probably a risk worth taking. Grade: A-


Pick: CF Albert Ford

Austin gets a centerfielder who is quite good defensively and has some pop in his bat. The lefthanded hitter isn't a great pure hitter, but he should hit more than well enough to stay in an ML lineup. Good, solid pick. Grade: B+


Pick: CF Kelly Perez

An intriguing pick. Scouts say he'll be outstanding defensively with plus speed and hits both lefties and righties. He's a top-notch bunter and runs the bases well. He seems to be tailored to a leadoff position, so the lack of power is excusable. His only issue could be his plate discipline- in high school he sometimes swung at pitches Vladimir Guerrero would take. Grade: A-


Pick: SS Bernie Alou

Where does he fit in? His glove is borderline for shortstop, but he won't hit enough for a corner position. He's either a SS or a CF. He's a natural athlete that Montgomery trusts they can find a role for in their organization. Grade: B


Pick: 1B Reginald Blank

This guy may not ever put up MVP, but he'll be a middle of the order type hitter. This lefty should hit righties well and knows the strike zone. For a 1B, he's solid defensively (I wouldn't try him out anywhere else, though). Grade: A


Pick: SP Storm Cassidy

Big surprise: Boston takes a starting pitcher. Not sure if there's a future Hall of Fame member in the group, but more importantly, I don't think they missed on any of them. Cassidy is a solid middle of the rotation type guy who can get guys out (righties in particular) with a plus curveball. Grade: B+


Pick: SS Edgar Ortiz

Still unsigned.


Pick: SP Adam Jones

Jones is a lefty starter who won't turn out the be the best baseball player ever from Havre de Grace, MD (some guy named Ripken owns that distinction). But he's a middle of the rotation type guy with good control and a decent fastball. Another solid pick at the end of the round. Grade: B+


Pick: SP Brent Gagnon

The Sultans head to the islands for this one. Gagnon, a Hawaii native, is a junkballing lefty with a tough slider and a pretty good forkball. Another middle of the rotation type guy who, oddly enough, can probably outrun a fair number of the position prospects in the round. Grade: B

After fast start, AL needs comeback to best NL

Cheyenne's Weston takes MVP honors

Early on, it looked as though the American League would cruise to a victory in this season's All-Star Game.

Cruz tops Terrero for Derby crown

Norfolk first baseman Al Cruz captured this year's Home Run Derby crown by blasting a total of 29 home runs over three rounds. Cruz notched 20 home runs through the first two round which was good enough for him to enter the final round where he faced Huntington's Yorvit Terrero. Cruz would mash nine home runs to Terrero's six en route to being crowned Derby champion.

Cruz actually needed a swing-off to even make it to round two, as he and Huntington's Monte Duvall were tied with five homeruns a piece after round one. Cruz won the swing-off and then crushed the field in round two with 13 home runs, nearly double the next highest total for the round.

Though he fell short of winning the Home Run Derby, Terrero did earn the distinction of having hit the longest home run in the contest. In the final round, Terrero hit a 533-foot bomb to left field.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

1st Trimester Report

No, The Bigs is not having a baby (thank goodness). We're about a third of the way into the season and here's what we're seeing so far:

NL East- Atlanta looks like the best team in the division, if not the entire NL right now. Washington is staying within striking distance. Norfolk and Trenton are non-factors and will battle for third.

NL North- Kansas City is a game above .500 and is leading the division. Minnesota is currently is second. Philadelphia and Fargo have some talent but have underachieved thus far.

NL South- Austin and Huntington are in a dead heat right now. San Juan and New Orleans are below .500.

NL West- In the division of surprises, Vancouver leads the division by a game over Salem. Salt Lake City is only 3 off the pace and always dangerous. Las Vegas is 6 games behind every other NL team. Except for scoring the fewest runs and giving up the most runs in the NL, they're looking great.

AL East- Is this New York's year? They lead Louisville by 5 games. Boston and Scranton are well off the pace.

AL North- Ottawa has not slowed down after a hot start and has the best record in the AL and a six game lead over incumbent St. Louis. Rebuilding Milwaukee is at .500 and Buffalo is surprisingly in last.

AL South- This is going to be a three team race all year. Right now Montgomery leads Mexico City by a game and Monterrey, maybe the most talented team in the division, trails by 4. Charlotte is by far the worst team in the AL.

AL West- This could be a wide open division. Anaheim is leading the division at .500. Boise is a game back and Cheyenne and Seattle are three back.

IFAs: We've already had 7 international players receive bonuses of at least $10 million. The biggest so far was to CF Julian Mieses, who received $18,9 million from Atlanta. Minnesota grabbed two pitchers in Anibal Sojo ($12.2 million) and Enrique Castilla ($14.9 million)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Limits Lose Porter...More Pressure On Staff

The Austin City Limits have lost Week 1 POW and offensive linchpin Rich Porter for an 11-day stint.

Porter strained a calf running down an 8th-inning single by Salt Lake City's Red Karl in Austin's 5-4 Thursday PM2.

The Limits can ill afford Porter's loss. Through 28 games he's hitting .386 with 10 doubles, 5 homers and 23 RBI, with 6 steals tossed in. He's also played an error-less CF with 3 "+" plays. Other key players are struggling: 1B Jimmie Williams has been invisible, hitting .204 with 11 RBI; RF Ken Keagle is well below his usual pace at .257; and 2B Julio Rosa weighs in with an anemic .583 OPS with a measly 2 RBI.

This means the pitching staff will have to shoulder even more of the load. The good news is the team ERA is down nearly a half-run a game from last year's 3.78. New closer Rey Jung is 11-for-11 in saves with a 0.73 ERA; Matt Skinner has embraced his new setup role with a 1,75 ERA in a whopping 25 and 2/3 innings; Jason Sprague is showing there's still life in his 33 year-old wing at 4-0, 2.56; and ace Louie Feliz has been excellent at 5-1, 2.72.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Feliz Outduels Gates In Early-Season NL South Showdown

The ace starters of the last 2 World Series Champs locked up in a key early-season series in the PM cycle. Austin came out ahead this time, with Louie Feliz tossing 6 innings of 1-hit ball to top Lonny Gates and his Huntington Riverdogs, 4-0.

Feliz fanned 7 and walked a pair in his 89-pitch outing; Matt Skinner was perfect over the last 3 innings to pick up his first save. Mariano Terrero had a pair of solo jacks for the City Limits, while David Cortez added a 2-run homer among his 4 hits.

Gates was very good for Huntington, giving up just 3 runs. But this day clearly belonged to Feliz and Skinner.

City Limits skipper blanch13 downplayed the importance of the game: "Certainly it's a bonus to beat Gates, 'cause that just isn't going to happen often, but it's way too early to conclude anything about my team. They're the deserving champs and we hope to hang with them over a long season."

Monday, August 23, 2010

Opening Day for Season 11 in the Bigs Part II

The other 16 teams, including the champs, opened their seasons in the night session.


In Huntington, the Riverdogs opened their World Series defense with a 5-3 win over San Juan. Yorvit Terrero's 3rd inning 3-run homer was the big blow for the Dogs and Lonny Gates (6 IP, 1 ER) looked good in his debut coming off last season's injury.

In Washington, the Atlanta Bandits' old gun (Dave Dunwoody) outdueled the Blue Coats' young gun (Carter Leonard) to win a 3-0 decision. Dunwoody pitched 8 shutout innings for the win.

In Fargo, former Dirtbags ace Sammy Pierce outdid current ace Javier Henriquez to pace the Kansas City Scouts to a 3-0 win. Fargo managed just 3 hits off Pierce and two K.C. relievers.

In Salem, David Mendez's 10th inning single scored Luis Sanchez for a walkoff 4-3 victory over the Salt Lake City Shakers. Mendez drove in 2, as did CF George Lowe for SLC in a losing effort.


In Montgomery, Alibamu SS Santiago Manzanillo hit a walk-off solo homer in the 9th to give Montgomery a 4-3 win over the Monterrey Sultans of Swat. Stone Curtis pitched 5 innings of 1-hit baseball for the Alibamu.

In Milwaukee, the Manic Maulers also hit a 2-out, walk-off solo shot in the 9th to win their game, this one over the St. Louis River City Rage. Brook Teut went 3 for 4 with 2 RBI for Milwuakee.

In Louisville, New York Knickerbockers 1B Pedro Morales's 2-run homer in the 7th turned a 4-3 deficit into a 5-4 win over the Legends. Denny Moss added a 2-run shot of his own in the 1st.

Finally, in Boise, the hometown fans went home happy as Shadow Wolves ace Einar Crespo tossed a 7-hit shutout to beat the Seattle Killer Whales by a score of 2-0. Hiram Spooneybarger hit a solo homer in the 4th.

Opening Day for Season 11 in the Bigs

Amazing- Opening Day is upon us again- seems like it came so fast. Here's a look around the league on the first day of the season:


In Austin, William Satou and Ken Keagle each had two hits and drove in two apiece as the City Limits beat the New Orleans Voodoo 5-2. Starter Louie Feliz pitched 6 strong innings, yielding only 1 run on four hits.

In Norfolk, Trenton 3B Enrique Park-signed on the eve of the season- hit a 9th inning home run to break a 4-4 tie and give the Traffic a 5-4 victory. Park, Watty Miller, and B.C. Stone each had 3 hits and Stone scored three times.

In Philadelphia, Bernard Robinson pitched 8 shutout innings to lead the Phantoms to a 3-0 win over the Minnesota North Stars. Newly acquired Steve Sweeney went 0 for 4.

In Las Vegas, Wendell Durrington hit a two-run homer in the 10th inning to give the visiting Vancouver Golden Otters a 3-1 lead over the Snake Eyes. But Richard Gabriel's 3-run walk off homer gave Vegas a 4-3 win in a wild Opening Day affair.


In Anaheim, the defending AL champs opened their defense of the pennant with a 5-2 victory over the Cheyenne Frozen Ropes. Vic Mercado's 3-run homer in the 6th was the difference, providing the offense for Mateo Batista's 8-inning performance.

In Mexico City, Dennis Tamura and newly acquired Stephen Mills each had 3 hits as the Chupacabras pounded out 11 on their way to a 6-1 victory over the Charlotte Lions.

In Buffalo, Alex Jose had 3 hits and drove in two to lead the visting Ottawa O-Jays past the Blue Cheese. Andres DeLeon went 8+ innings for the win and Bert Price came into the game in the 9th to earn the save.

In Scranton, Janitors pitcher Luke Stein went 6 innings, giving up only three hits and one run but ended up on the losing end of a 1-0 decision to the Boston Bambinos. Eric Edwards also went 6 innings, yielding three hits as well and no runs.

Hall of Fame Class of Season 11

We now have a member of our Hall of Fame. Gregg Black was elected into the Hall in his first year of eligibility. As expected, Black was inducted as a member of the Charlotte Lions, as he made his name with the forerunner of the Lions (the Nashville Sounds). Black was the only player inducted this season, as was expected. Congratulations to Black and to the Charlotte franchise.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Season 11 AL West Preview

And our final division on the docket is the AL West. Last season, Anaheim finally broke through and made the World Series, but made it 6 straight losses for the AL in the Fall Classic. Boise had a solid bounceback season after their last place finish in season 9. Cheyenne (to use a term from their Las Vegas Gamblers days) "broke even" at 81-81, and Seattle surprisingly ended up in last. So how does this division shake out in season 11?


Boise (last season-7th in AL) has a perennial MVP candidate type hitter in LF Barry McEnroe, but he's not alone. Young 3B Grover James will be counted on to hit and get on base, as he's got speed. They have solid veteran hitters in DH Santiago Martin, IF/OF David Rushford, and SS Ryan Hamill. If rookies 1B Ted Riggs and RF Sidney King can contribute, this could be a fairly deep lineup.

Anaheim (last season- 8th in AL) loses its biggest name but not its biggest bat. James Dixon had arguably his worst offensive season on his way out the door. The Chiles will return big time hitters in RF Dweezil Milligan and 2B Pedro Candelaria. These two- along with 1B Zip Capra, DH Jim Adkinsson, and LF Bob Stewart- should provide Anaheim with lots of power this season. The Chiles like 21-year-old SS Willie Arias.

Seattle (last season- 14th in AL) does not look like the team that made two straight World Series appearances. They still have the big names in 2B Jack Hunt, LF Jacque Puffer, and 1B Osvaldo Johnson (who could hit the 500 home run plateau this season). But Hunt and RF Candy Krueter both had down years (despite providing stolen bases), DH King Winn provided no offense and finally retired, and 3B Coco Briggs's strikeouts overshadow his power production. SS Louie Inoue (Rule 5 pick) provides good offense at the position, but his defensive ability is questioned by many scouts.

Cheyenne (last season- 13th in AL) doesn't have much punch. 3B Edwin Corey is a solid hitter, as is 1B Wally Harvey, although Harvey isn't what he once was. But CF Will Weston took a huge step back last season, and 3B Boomer Robinson and SS Kevin Kim have unfulfilled potential.


Seattle (last season- 4th in AL) has 5 solid veterans in the rotation. Miguel Benitez had his best season since his Cy Young campaign 4 years ago, and Kane Grahe, Slash Ruffin, Marty Lane, and Junior Bennett are all proven veterans. Closer Quilvio Sanchez has 5 straight All-Star appearances to his name and Freddie Hampton figures to be tough on lefties.

Anaheim (last season- 5th in AL) also has a deep rotation. Former Cy Young winner Mateo Batista heads the rotation and is the big name, but young starters Victor DeLeon and Mike Lowery are quite good. Peaches Thompson and Gaylord Matheson provide veteran depth. L.J. Jordan was up and down as the closer. Greg Nieman is a valuable arm out of the bullpen.

Boise (last season- 12th in AL) has to improve here in order to be a playoff contender. They have talent in Bruce Stairs, Einar Crespo, and Pedro Limon and Victor Soto is solid. They'll need a 5th starter in either Pedro Medrano or former Sultan Johnnie Reagan. A big question is which Alex Cornejo shows up this year- the dominant Season 9 pitcher or the very mediocre closer from last season?

Cheyenne (last season- 9th in AL) has moderate talent in the rotation and a big star at the end. The rotation is Charlie White, Wilfredo Redondo, Glen Bush, Rich Gibson, and Adrian Hendrickson; there are no stars here and yet there are no hacks, either. Coco Hines has won the last two Fireman of the Year awards, following up his record-setting 59 saves from Season 9 with 56 last season.


1. I'll go out on a bit of a limb and say Boise answers enough of their pitching questions in the affirmative to take down their first division title.
2. Any of these teams can be in playoff contention. Any of these teams could lose 90 games.
3. If Cheyenne fails to contend again, I'll take Hines as the most likely to be dealt.

Season 11 AL South Preview

We now turn to the AL South, which was maybe the best division in baseball and yet had a familiar end result. Monterrey ended up winning its 9th division title in 10 seasons, but the division yielded both wild card teams in Jackson (now Mexico City) and Montgomery. Will we have a 3 team race again this season? And no one has heard from Charlotte in a long time- does that change this season?


Monterrey (last season- 1st in AL) has an offense that is a force to be reckoned with. 3B/LF Sean Simpson is still putting up MVP type numbers and he's got plenty of help in DH Tony Escuela, IF Justin Gordon (acquired from Austin), C Vin Logan, and OF Magglio Perez to drive in runs. CF Charles Takada and RF Trot Turner are quality table setters.

Mexico City (last season- 2nd in AL) did a good job in plugging some holes via free-agency. They already had stars CF Raul Vallarta, 2B Tony Johnson, and LF Dennis Tamura, but felt they needed more to compete with Monterrey, so they grabbed star 3B James Dixon (from Anaheim) and solid hitting 1B Stephen Mills (from Trenton). Speedy IFs Tony Johnson and Steve Lofton help create havoc on the bases and will be counted on to score in front of the big hitters.

Montgomery (last season- 6th in AL) will have its fortunes determined from the top. If LF Felipe Valdez can get on base more he could become a very dangerous top of the order (or middle, for that matter) hitter. He'll be joined by 1B Thurman Allen, DH Vladimir Rodriguez, 3B Juan Rodriguez, and CF Matty Clemens.

Charlotte (last season- 10th in AL) fans are excited as a new era starts this season. The offense will be led by two rookies; both are former #1 overall picks. RF Joe Grace (23 years old) and 2B Floyd Floyd (20 years old) should be the #3 and #4 hitters in the lineup- both are potential MVP candidates someday and Floyd has drawn some comparisons to Gregg Black (the world's only current HOFer). They'll be helped by veterans such as C Tony Stieb, DH Mel Messner, and LF Luis Melo.


Monterrey (last season- 3rd in AL) will go as far as their veteran staff will take them. Albert Gonzalez nailed down his 2nd Cy Young Award and Patrick Clifton and Luther Brush were both good last season. Jocko Keats won 15 games due in part to run support. Pablo Rijo was good last season as the closer, but he's 38 and some Sultans fans are worried he might lose it at some point soon.

Mexico City (last season- 6th in AL) should be an interesting staff to watch as they move to a new stadium. They've got talent in Alex Samuel, Jimmy Cole, Fausto Almanza, and Ivan Webster, but they all had ERAs over 4- does the move south of the border help or hurt their numbers? They may not be sure about the setup roles, but they've got one of the best in the closer's role in Garry "Dream Weaver" Wright.

Montgomery (last season- 7th in AL) parted with their best player last season to help their pitching staff. They picked up their top 2 starters in Stone Curtis and Neifi Gonzalez from Atlanta, giving up 3B Mitch Sobkowiak. Curtis led the team with 15 wins and Gonzalez was solid. They'll be joined by veteran righty Russell Newson and young Mexican import Rafael Aguilar. Joe Overbay was solid as the closer last season.

Charlotte (last season- last in AL) looks like it could be a one-man staff this season. Ronn Lincoln is a very good looking young starter, but he's got little to nothing around him. Veterans Lawrence Carver, Jerry Terry, Felix Comer, and Alfredo Veras won't win many games. Closer Esteban Gutierrez may be better suited to start, but we'll see how he does at the end of the game.


1. Should be close again, but I like Monterrey to repeat.
2. I like Mexico City to make the playoffs again. They're a good team.
3. Montgomery should be close, but I'm not sure they get in again.
4. Charlotte's offense should be respectable, but their pitching will probably doom them to another top 5 pick.
5. This year's AL rookie of the year will be wearing a Lions uniform, whether it's Lincoln, Floyd, or Grace.

Season 11 AL North Preview

Our tour of the league takes us to the AL North. This division has been dominated by the St. Louis River Rage, who have won 4 straight division titles. But Buffalo made a lot of moves in the offseason and seem ready to make a run- can they challenge and beat St. Louis? And what about Milwaukee and Ottawa?


Buffalo (last season- 5th in AL) had a solid core with MVP LF A.J. Leonard, LF Julio Diaz, 1B Harry Lee, and OF Tito Martin, but they felt they needed more to compete with the better teams in the league. To that end, they signed CF Paul Turnbow from Atlanta, 2B Derrin Hernandez from San Juan, and 3B Cap Herrera from Trenton. They should have a deep lineup (C Dean Buehrle could very well bat 8th or 9th), probably the deepest in the division.

St. Louis (last season- 9th in AL) should be OK on offense, if not great. LF Nick Hernandez is still at the top of his game at the top of the lineup, but they need some thump in the middle of the lineup- 1B/DH Burt Stevenson was the only 100 RBI guy from last season and he's 36 years old. I think 2B Rico Guevara will bounce back this season- he, CF Gary Nelson, and 3B Jim Clark will be expected to provide the power. They also have good professional hitters in Hernandez, SS Alex Silva, and RF Placido Sanchez.

Ottawa (last season- 11th in AL) has some top end talent but needs more depth. The position players that are the gems of the IHOP (International House of Players) movement are RF P.T. Lee and SS Alex Jose- they had monster seasons but nobody else drove in more than 70 runs. 2B Bob Hauser has the potential to be a good major league hitter. They'll see if OF Lawrence Black (from Salt Lake City) can hold down a full-time job.

Milwaukee (last season- 12th in AL) is trying to mix in some veterans with their young players. SS Ignacio Diaz and 3B Brook Teut had nice season, but the Manic Maulers fans are excited about 2B Lorenzo Santana, IF Max Javier, and 1B Julio Silvia. These guys, along with IF Henry Canizaro, are the focal points of the offense; the down side is they strike out a bit too much.


St. Louis (last season- 1st in AL) has a deep rotation and maybe the deepest bullpen. They're led by starter Yogi Anderson, but they've got more than that in starters Vernon Taubensee, Billy Nation, and Kevin Pong. Their bullpen is loaded, as Carlos Carrasco had a very good season as the closer, and there are plenty of good setup options in Lloyd Freel, Tino Okajima, Julio Navarro, and Vic Macias.

Ottawa (last season- 8th in AL) had a nice season overall, but they do have cause for concern. For starters, their best pitcher by far was Stephen Michaels- he turned 38 in the offseason, so the question as to how much he has left is valid. He'll be backed by future ace Andres DeLeon, solid starter Lonny Hernandez, and veterans Tony Rowan and Louie Bolivar. Closer Bert Price struggled last season and Achilles Hume left for Anaheim, so 39-year-old Dave Stewart is likely to be the main setup guy.

Milwaukee (last season- 10th in AL) is trying to find the right pieces for the staff. Oswaldo Astacio, recipient of one of the more surprising contracts in recent memory, pitched to an ERA over a run higher than he did in the NL (which is no surprise) and he's maybe not even the ace of the staff- Barry Rader had a better season. Kenta Martin, a young Japanese starter, looks like he could turn into a nice pitcher and Alex Calvo is a decent innings eater. Alexander Richardson struggled a bit as the closer, and the rest of the pen is questionable.

Buffalo (last season- 12th in AL) made some improvements- the question is how much did they get better. Jerome Oliver had his best season in years for New Orleans, so Buffalo brought him in to back D'Angelo Martin and Miguel Hernandez. George Hurst seems to finally have things figured out and may be better than Martin or Hernandez. Chris Lowry was brought back to eat innings at the bottom of the rotation. A big part of Buffalo's fortunes may rest on closer George Danks- he's got an electric arm but has yet to harness it. Tom Hernandez had a lot of money thrown at him to set up- he's been hit or miss over the past few seasons.


1. I like what Buffalo has done (for the most part) in the offseason- I like all their offensive signings and Oliver. I'm not sure it brings them up to St. Louis's level, so I'll take the Rage for first yet again.
2. Buffalo's moves puts them in the wild-card discussion. Not sure they can grab a spot, but they should at least contend.
3. I'll take Ottawa over Milwaukee- I don't think either team is awful. I don't see any of these teams losing 100.
4. Not sure any superstar from this division will move, as so many of them are still very young. I'd look at a guy like Ignacio Diaz from Milwaukee or Bert Price from Ottawa as a most likely to be traded candidate.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Season 11 AL East Preview

Last season proved that there are 3 things we can count on in life: death, taxes, and the Louisville Legends winning the AL East. The Legends finished belolw .500 and still won the division for the 10th straight time. Can they make it 11, or does New York or Boston (both teams finished a game back of Louisville) break the stranglehold? Scranton made some significant offseason moves after finishing with 66 wins- can they break into the mix?


Louisville (last season- 3rd in AL) still had enough firepower to take down a division title. They'll return the core of that lineup with SS Amp Palmer, 3B Orlando Franco, DH Ernest Montgomery, LF Albert Martin, and 1B Ismael Polanco. Speedy CF Trever Pierre is talented but doesn't get on base enough to be a dangerous leadoff hitter.

Boston (last season- 4th in AL) is helped out by playing in Fenway but does have some firepower. The biggest name is new free-agent signee 1B Ruben Hernandez, the league's career all-time RBI leader. The holdovers are 2B Tommy Jordan, SS Daniel Koch, and RF Harold Lewis-all good all-around hitters. If C Rick Anderson and CF Butch Swift could hit a little more this lineup could rival Louisville's.

Scranton (last season- 15th in AL) is not going to field the same lineup that finished last season next to last in the AL. They only had 3 players (RF Victor Mercado, C Odalis James, and 3B Jay Hegan) drive in at least 60 runs. Mercado and James will return, and they'll add a full season of star CF Turner Dolan (out for more than half of last season with an injury) and 2B Jeremy Glover (acquired from Fargo) and have added 3B Albie Torres and 1B Stan Starr from Atlanta to form a solid middle of the order. Slugging SS Cleatus Jaramillo is expected to hold down the starting job coming up from AAA this season.

New York (last season- last in AL) will likely once again lack punch. Last year's big free-agent pickup, 3B Denny Moss, had a solid season (nowhere near $23 million worth of production) and DH was a good run producer, but they need help from the likes of RF Marcus Goldman, CF Karim Vega, and 2B Albert Dale. On a side note, SS Mateo James hit .216 with a .266 OBP and a .313 SLG with 199 strikeouts; sadly, the only one of those numbers that is not a career high for the 5-year veteran is the 199 K's.


New York (last season- 2nd in AL) will be solid at the top with veteran arms Dwight Salmon and Vin Espinosa, but there are some doubts as to what happens after those two. Average veterans like Jackie Page and Marv Starr will likely get shots to fill out the rotation. The back of the bullpen is in the very capable hands of 2-time All Star Jason Franco.

Louisville (last season- 11th in AL) started to see some age creep in to the starting rotation last season. Hipolito Maradona was fine at the top, but after that there is some concern- Danny Little had a very good season but he's 37 and there are some questions as to how much he has left. Lance Stevens (35) saw his ERA jump by over a run and the Norm Edwards experiment (6-11, 6.60 ERA) can officially be deemed a failure- he won't return. They signed Trenton's all-time win leader, Damion Mays (nope, not Dunwoody, Salmon, or Sprague- it's Damion Mays), in the offseason- he's yet to live up to the hype that surrounded him coming up in Boston but he's still a big upgrade over Edwards. Buddy Titan was up and down as the closer.

Scranton (last season- 14th in AL) will return the same staff that struggled last season. Lariel Hernandez (14 wins from the bullpen) and Michael Giambi (10 wins) were the only double digit winners last season, but both pitched to ERAs over 5 and Giambi will not be back. Returning are Tito Mercedes, Luke Stein, and Gus Matsuzaka; none of them looks like an ace. Christy Castillo comes over from Boston, but he too had an ERA over 5. The Janitors did spend money in the bullpen, signing both Ted Reese (from Vancouver) and Kid Johnstone (from Philadelphia)- both can close.

Boston (last season- 15th in AL) is going to try to piece together a rotation with pretty much the same parts that had a team ERA of 5.01 last season. David James is still young and Boston fans are waiting for him to figure it out, but guys like James Morton, Craig Hughes, and B.C. Santiago probably aren't going to show much more than they already have. On the plus side, Lance Driskill had his second good season as the closer and looks to be a rising star at the closer position.


1. This division is a crapshoot. New York can't hit, Boston can't pitch, and I can't expect Scranton to be more than 14 games better than last season, so I guess I have to take Louisville by default here.
2. Easiest call here- this division won't get more than one team in the playoffs.
3. I think Scranton may have enough to get by Boston and New York for second.
4. Flip a coin for third and fourth- I think I like Boston's offense more than NY's pitching.
5. One of Boston's bats (Koch? Anderson?) might be liable to go since the most likely candidate, Denny Moss, has a contract that would make a trade unlikely.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Season 11 NL West Preview

In Season 10, Salt Lake City took down its 4th straight division title, taking out all comers by at least 15 games. Does Salt Lake City make it 5 in a row, or can Salem, Vancouver, or Las Vegas get the job down and knock off the kings of the mountain?


Salt Lake City (last season- 1st in NL) has led the NL in offense for 5 straight seasons. Does that change with the loss of 1B Ruben Hernandez, The Bigs's all-time RBI leader? It seems like a significant loss, but it's not likely to drastically change what the Shakers do. Expect C Nick Robertson to take over Hernandez's run-producing role and they still have all the professional hitters besides Ruben in IFs Che Bong, Jordan Newfield, Carlos Batista, and OFs George Lowe and Vic James. They may not score quite as much-and I expect Houston, Washington, and Austin to give them a run for it-but they're still the odds-on favorite to lead the NL in runs yet again.

Vancouver (last season- 13th in NL) is going to build its offensive future around its keystone combination. SS Jim Gibson and rookie 2B Virgil Vega are two very talented players. Vancouver fans are hoping the young players such as LF Jerry Powell, CF Roscoe Rigby, and 3B O.T. Wagner step up to help those two guys. Veteran C Clarence Hartman is still quite productive.

Salem (last season- 14th in NL) needs some more consistent players. 1B Paul Uchida hit 50 homers and RF Melvin Taylor has been a solid hitter for years, but 3B Juan Valdes's numbers have declined since his All-Star Season 7 performance, and for the last 4 seasons SS Reggie Ducati hits over .300 in even numbered seasons and under .260 in odd numbered seasons. Rookie RF Jimmie Lincoln could be the next breakout hitter for the Sacrifices.

Las Vegas (last season- last in NL) could use some consistent power hitters. C Yeico Solano (26 HRs) and Rick Foster (20) are the only returning players who hit more than 10 homers for the team last season. They added talented CF Gerald Duran in free-agency, but he's not a home run hitter.


Salem (last season- 10th in NL) won't be confused with Atlanta, KC, or Austin, but they've got some talented pitchers. Starters Benji Stewart and Sammy Garrido are both good pitchers and Nerio Branson had a good season last year. The back of the rotation is a question mark. Kevin Li was solid as the closer, although getting to him could be an issue.

Salt Lake City (last season- 11th in NL) has seen its pitching regress over the last few seasons.
As usual, the lines blur between starter and reliever for this team. Rob Cepeda, Felipe Calles, and Cliff Miller are the best of the bunch. Lefty reliever Steve Cook has some promise.

Vancouver (last season- last in NL) should be better this season, although it would be hard to do worse. Nobody had double digit wins, so the Golder Otters added Juan Cabrera (traded from Huntington) and 21-year-old rookie B.C. Macias, who has the potential to be a real ace someday. They'll join veterans Jose Merced and Orber Marin in the rotation. With Ted Reese gone to Scranton, Paul Zhang is likely to get the first shot at the closer's role.

Las Vegas (last season- 15th in NL) has a decent bullpen and a very shaky rotation. Hi Fox led the team in wins (10) while losing more than he won and walking almost 6.5 batters per 9 innings. The rest of the rotation- Will Piper, Miguel Reyes, Ricardo Gabriel, etc.- is below average. The bullpen is led by closer Kenneth Schalk and still has former closer Paul Schwartz, although the question is for how long.


1. Salt Lake City is still the class of the division- they should slug their way to a 5th straight division title.
2. I like what Salem and Vancouver are doing- they'll be back in the hunt soon, but not this season. I'll take Vancouver for second this season, slightly over Salem.
3. Las Vegas is likely to finish last again- that squad is going to need some time to rebuild. It is most certainly not a disaster, but it's not a quick fix, either.
4. Due to his contract, Paul Schwartz might be easier to deal later in the season. His remaining contract still makes it difficult, although I would anoint him most likely to be dealt- he's still talented.

Season 11 NL South Preview

For the second straight season, the World Series champs have come out of this division, but this time last season we were talking about a possible Austin City Limits dynasty- not so anymore. Huntington won its second World Series title, winning the division title over Austin by 5 games and then overcoming Anaheim for the title. Which team wins it this season? What about New Orleans and San Juan- can they break the stranglehold at the top of this division?


Huntington (last season- 2nd in NL) has a well-rounded, deep lineup. They've got former MVP 3B Monte Duvall and a pair of 30-30 guys in 2B Willie Scott and LF Yorvit Terrero. RF Butch Russell had a very nice season last year and C Angel Marquez is starting to emerge. Expect young infielder Raymond Black, acquired in a trade from Montgomery, to add more depth to this lineup.

Austin (last season- 4th in NL) probably won't be far behind Huntington, if at all. 1B Jimmie Williams is still a big-time run producer, and CF Rich Porter and RF Ken Keagle both have 30-30 potential. LF David Cortes and 3B Mariano Terrero are big-time sluggers.

San Juan (last season- 8th in NL) isn't as deep as the big boys, but has a young emerging offense. CF Shane Fletcher was on his way to stardom before an injury cut his season short last year. OF Bob Meyer emerged in his presence, and they'll be joined by RF Tony Gutierrez and two good looking rookies in 3B Vic Olivares and Rule 5 pick Carter Pose. C Junior Tabaka led the team in RBI, and rookie Russ Glanville is a very similar player.

New Orleans (last season- 7th in NL) rose last season due in large part to their star. 2B Ray Cepicky had a bounceback season to lead the offense. 1B Brian Christiansen had a 30-30 season, but they'll need help. The Voodoo have talented players in guys like IFs Bud Clark, Pat Buck, and OF Alving Infante, but they have to step up and perform.


Austin (last season- 3rd in NL) has a very deep rotation and bullpen. Miguel Castilla, Louie Feliz, Dan Bernard, and Vladimir Bibby may not have the name recognition that some of their Texas rivals' starters have, but they're all quite good. They added former Trenton starter Jason Sprague to round out the rotation. The bullpen looks just as stacked, with Matt Skinner as a very good closer- he'll be set up by former closer Eduardo Moya and future closer Rey Jung.

Huntington (last season- 5th in NL) did very well in spite of losing their ace for most of the season. Ace Lonny Gates tore his labrum and missed more than half the season- all reports say he's healthy and ready to go. He'll be joined in the rotation by former Bandits and Bambinos ace Fred Carter and Kenneth Graves to form a very good top 3. The bottom is a little questionable- Cookie Cortes is solid but Damaso Ramirez (who led the team with 15 wins) really overachieved last season. The Riverdogs liked the job Chris Jennings did as the closer so much they decided to trade Cristian Price.

New Orleans (last season- 7th in NL) are going to miss their ace. Jerome Oliver, who won 18 games last season, left via free agency for Buffalo (as did closer Tom Hernandez). Mateo Guerrero had a solid season, but Orber Halter won 8 games last season (combined for Fargo and New Orleans), Rene Alexander pitched to exactly the same 5.56 ERA for two straight seasons (no bonus points for consistency here), and the back of the rotation is highly questionable. The loss of Hernandez doesn't hurt as bad, as Miguel Estalella seems ready to assume the closer's role. Joe Forrest had a nice season as the setup man.

San Juan (last season- 12th in NL) always seems to struggle in this area- expect this season to be no different. Hipolito Pujols remains and would be a solid #3 or #4 option on a strong staff, but he'll likely start Opening Day. Bert Pierre has been up and down in his career. After that, they have a bunch of mediocre to decent, sometimes overpaid guys like Willie Williams and Earl Biddle. The bullpen will be led by closer Jim Clyburn, who managed 40 saves on a 73 win team, which is quite a feat.


1. Call me crazy, but I'm going to pick against the champs. I like Austin to take back the division.
2. Whether its Huntington or Austin, the second place team in this division should grab a wild-card berth along with the second place team from the East.
3. San Juan is maybe a decent starting pitcher or two away from New Orleans- until they get it, I'll take New Orleans for third.
4. Look for Ray Cepicky to possibly hit the market if New Orleans can't stay in the race.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Season 11 NL North Preview

We head next to the NL North. Kansas City took down its first division title since Season 1 (back when they were in Montreal), upending Fargo and Philadelphia. Minnesota brought up the rear with only 65 wins. Will the mighty KC do it again, or is Fargo back? And what about the Phantoms?


Kansas City (last season-5th in NL) finally saw its young talent hit the big time. RF Ricky Carpenter jumpstarted the offense, stealing 76 bases and scoring 112 runs. He was part of the reason LF Fernando Ibanez, 3B Orlando Diaz, and 1B Heath Christiansen had big years themselves. Expect big things from 2B Geraldo Santayana this season as well.

Philadelphia (last season- 10th in NL) should be slightly better than last season. They'll add RF Steve Sweeney to last season's lineup, which is an important pickup. He'll join 2B Brian Sweeney (no relation), LF Albert Castro, 1B Freddie Bradley, SS Doc Bowen, and C Willis Petrov to form a fairly deep, if unspectacular, lineup.

Fargo (last season- 12th in NL) is struggling to find its offensive identity. They still have RF Calvin Chang, who can still hit and draws walks like no one else, and OF/1B Pete Duvall, who had a nice season after coming over from Atlanta. But after that, they've got a lot of question marks; 1B Luis Javier looks like he could be a very dangerous hitter, but SS Benjamin Smith disappointed last season and they have a lot of guys who will hit a lot of homers and strike out a ton.

Minnesota (last season- 15th in NL) will likely be offensively challenged again. 3B James Palmer would be a star if he didn't play in Minnesota and RF Zach Leary and LF Ron Cookson are decent hitters, but there's little around them. 1B Matty Matos and LF Chief Pearson were two of their top 4 run producers, and they both left via free-agency.


Kansas City (last season- 2nd in NL) had its top four starters all pitch to ERAs under 4. Sammy Pierce was very good after joining the squad from division rival Fargo and Ozzie Acker, Jeremi Gant, and Rob Cather were all solid last season. The closer is a bit of a question mark, as Mark Ott and Heath Rollins are two options- Rollins struggled in the role last season.

Philadelphia (last season- 6th in NL) has a solid starting staff, although age is starting to become a concern. Harry Lee (36) had his worst healthy season of his career and longtime ace Bernard Robinson (35) arguably had his. They'll join Albert Herzog, Turner Darr, and possible future star Alberto Vidal in the rotation. The bullpen could be an issue, as Kid Johnstone left for Scranton and there's no clear-cut replacement.

Fargo (last season-8th in NL) will always have star power as long as Javier Henriquez mans the mound. At 31, the surefire future Hall of Famer doesn't seem to be slowing down; the big issue is who's behind him. York Watson is the only established starter behind him, and his contract may make him expendable. Malachi Clifton, Yogi Hissey, and Dan Young are all candidates for the back of the rotation. Their bullpen was a mess, so they grabbed Cristian Price from Huntington.

Minnesota (last season- 14th in NL) should be near the bottom again this season, although that could change in the near future. Their only two double-digit winners, Jesus Estrada and Stu McLaughlin, both went the free-agent route. That leaves 15-game loser Shayne Gil and 17-game loser Rollie Spears to "anchor"(?) the staff. A makeshift staff of some combination of those two and Murray Crane, Ryan Martin, Don Chong, Shane Simms, and Vicente Gandarillas will have to make it through the season. The bullpen is highly questionable. Their AAA staff might actually be better than their major league staff.


1. Kansas City looks like the best of the bunch- they should be able to win the division again.
2. I'll take Philadelphia over Fargo for second.
3. Minnesota won't be anywhere near the other three teams.
4. Philadelphia and Fargo both have talent to trade if they decide to rebuild, Fargo in particular. Most likely to be traded- I'll go with Chang.

Season 11 NL East Preview

It's that time of year again- spring training. 32 teams have World Series aspirations, although some are delusional. We'll once again walk through all 8 divisions, looking at all 32 teams and assessing their fortunes this season, making predictions that never go wrong.

We'll start, as always, in the NL East. Last season Atlanta won 100 games in its bid for a 7th straight division title, but came up short as Washington won 101. Trenton had won 90 games for 3 straight seasons but fell back to 83 last season. Norfolk finished last for the 4th straight season at 70-92. Does Atlanta come back to win this season? Can Washington make it 2 in a row? What about the Traffic and Destroyers?


Washington (last season- 3rd in NL) traded its leading run producer, Willis Biddle, from last season but could still be dangerous. They'll return young 2B Andrew Clayton, CF Luis Martinez, and RF Matty Pena. They added a key piece in C Vasco Lopez (from Trenton in the Biddle trade), but the offense could depend on whether guys like IF William Bolling, IF Peter Guerrero, and OF Neifi McBrde can step up and provide depth for the lineup.

Atlanta (last season- 7th in NL) should be an interesting team to watch on offense to see if the pieces fit. 3B Mitch Sobkowiak is a bonafide star and 2B Jason Walker is an all-around talent, but they'll miss Albie Torres's bat (traded to Scranton). RF Alex Lim is a good hitter, but not worth $11.3 million. DeWayne Castillo takes over for Paul Turnbow in center- it remains to be seen if Atlanta ends up on the plus side of that deal.

Trenton (last season- 6th in NL) is a team in transition. They've lost their #3 and #4 hitters from last season (1B Stephen Mills went to Mexico City and C Vasco Lopez was dealt to Washington). They gain IF Willis Biddle to partner with 2B/CF Watty Miller, but they'll need more than that. Their free-agent crop from last season (1B/LF Bret King, OF Dewey Greenwood, RF Ryan Snyder) is starting to look old. They'll take a flyer on SS B.C. Stone and hope for the best.

Norfolk (last season- 11th in NL) is quietly assembling some good hitters. 1B Al Cruz and LF Dave Hodges look like bonafide middle of the order hitters and SS Nigel Acosta made the jump from A ball to the majors about as well as could be expected. They need more from their veterans- RF Melvin Nakano still gets on base at a great clip, but doesn't score enough runs and 2B Del Hernandez gives mediocre stats for his contract.


Atlanta (last season- 1st in NL) is always loaded in their starting rotation, and this season should be no different. They'll return Cy Young winner Santiago Perez, future Hall of Famer Dave Dunwoody, and 18-game winner Kazuhiro Whang. They've got plenty of options for the last two spots in guys like Rico Mangual, Roy Walker, and Ivan Castilla. The bullpen may be a slight question mark, as Tex Howell's ERA jumped two full runs despite saving 33 games last season.

Washington (last season- 4th in NL) isn't as deep as Atlanta in the rotation but still has talent. Carter Leonard bounced back from a subpar season to win 21 games and remains a Cy Young threat. John Balfour reached a career high in wins (11) in what was, ironically, probably his worst big league season. He and veteran Graham Costello provide quality innings, but maybe not enough innings. To that end, they brought in Woody Hiller from Trenton to add depth. I wouldn't be surprised if Adrian Shipley (AAA) winds up in the rotation at some point during the season. The bullpen is in good hands with Alex Javier closing and former Trenton closer Bernie Corino setting up.

Norfolk (last season- 13th in NL) returns stalwarts Bobby Davenport, Rod Walters, Malcolm Lawrence, and Eddie Marquis to anchor the starting staff. Like their starters, the bullpen is not great, but okay with Del Aquino coming off maybe his best season and veteran arm Ariel Lee
to set up.

Trenton (last season- 8th in NL) finally hit the plunger and exploded the pitching staff. The 3 aces (Dunwoody, Salmon, and Sprague) are all gone, as is closer Bernie Corino. Alex Sanchez was signed from Salt Lake City to lead the staff- this is his second stint with Trenton. Steve Elster is a solid starter but an injury risk, and the rest of the starting spots are up for grabs with guys like Dan Linden, Dan Yount, Juan Diaz, Matthew Nelson, and Isaac Smith vying for the spots. The bullpen has yet to anoint a closer, although Andres Rivera is likely to start the season in the spot.


1. Tough call as to who wins the division- might as well flip a coin. I'll take Washington- even if their offense and bullpen doesn't trump Atlanta's starters, I think Washington will find it easier to add pieces due to their minors (either plugging guys in or via trade).
2. Other than the race for first, the team to watch is Trenton for two reasons- one, to see how far off their pace they fall (they've never won fewer than 80 games) and two, what they do on the trade market. They still have two giant trade chips in Watty Miller and Willis Biddle.
3. Norfolk will continue the rebuilding process, adding to Hodges and company with another high draft pick. It's possible another team may want one of their veteran arms later in the season.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

End of Free-Agency and a Milestone

This season saw one of the best crops of free agents in recent memory. Even after Buffalo and Mexico City snapped up some of the prime players, there were still some highly talented players left for the taking.

Buffalo stayed highly aggressive, adding former Bandits CF Paul Turnbow to the fold. He gets a guaranteed 3-year, $22.5 million contract with a team option for a 4th year which would bring the contract to $30 million and a full no-trade clause.

To replace Turnbow, Atlanta grabbed veteran CF DeWayne Castillo from Las Vegas at a reasonable 2-year, $8.6 million price tag. The Bandits will be his 6th major league team.

Las Vegas will also be without RF Steve Sweeney this season, as he hops a flight east to Philadelphia. A 3-year, $15.3 million contract (the third season is a mutual option) got his attention and, more importantly, his signature.

Ted Reese's 5 1/2 year run with Vancouver has ended, as the lefty reliever signed a 2-year, $9.4 million contract. Reese crackd the 200 save plateau last season.

Two of the biggest free agents waited until the tail end of the free agency period to sign. Boston fans got good news and bad news.

First, the good news for Beantown. 1B Ruben Hernandez left Salt Lake City for Fenway Park. The league's all-time RBI leader signed for 3 years at $18.3 million, with a mutual option for a 4th year at $6.1 million.

Ace starter Fred Carter will not be a teammate of Hernandez, as he will be leaving Boston for greener pastures in Houston. There may not be many pastures in Houston, but they'll be plenty of green for Carter, as he received a guaranteed 5-year, $89.5 million contract. which I believe is the largest contract in the history of The Bigs.

On another note, our blog hits another milestone, as this is the 600th post for the TBDN staff.