Sunday, January 31, 2010

Changes for Season 9

We have one switch in ownership and a few teams operating under new names this season.

First, we are sorry to see the Oklahoma City ownership leave, but we get to welcome back an original owner in the league. mhaddock originally owed the Philadelphia Blue Jays (now the Washington D.C. Blue Coats); he'll take the OKC franchise and move it to Montgomery where they'll be the Montgomery Alibamu.

Also in the AL, Helena has moved back to Las Vegas and they'll be the Sand Cats (not the Gamblers). New York will be the New York Knickerbockers and figure they can't be any worse than the real life franchise. Syracuse has moved to WIS home Cincinnati, but they will still be the Simpletons.

In the NL, Chicago has moved to Pittsburgh and will play as the Land Sharks. Houston has finally moved out of Texas and will settle in Huntington, keeping the Riverdogs nickname. And finally, we have baseball in LA again, as Cheyenne will try its luck at Dodger Stadium as the LA Poseidons.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Salt Lake City wins first title

Salt Lake City made it four straight wins and 6 out of 8 for the National League over the American League in the World Series. They took down the 2-time defending AL champion Seattle Killer Whales in 6 games.

Salt Lake City Shakers vs. Seattle Killer Whales

Game 1 opened in Seattle and the Killer Whales were not ready. Seattle starter Kane Grahe never made it out of the second inning, giving up eight runs before leaving. The bullpen was slightly better, but they gave up 6 runs. Solo shots by Osvaldo Johnson, Kris Olson, and Jacque Puffer weren't nearly enough as Salt Lake City took game 1 14-3. Arthur Matthews drove in 4 and Che Bong added 3 RBI.

Game 2 showed the depth of Salt Lake City's lineup. Tied 3-3 going into the 8th, Jordan Newfield's RBI single followed by Chris Barrett's RBI groundout made it 5-3 Shakers. Denny Moss homered in the bottom of the inning to cut the lead to 5-4, but Ruben Hernandez hit a 2-run bomb in the top of the ninth to extend the lead to 7-4, which was the final. Rene Alexander kept the Killer Whales off balance for his four innings of work and 5 different Shakers drove in at least one run.

Down 2-0 and going to Utah, Seattle needed a strong performance in game 3, and got just that from starter Junior Bennett. Yielding only a solo homer to Vic James in the 4th, Bennett pitched 8 innings and got a lot of help from Hector Lee, who drove in 3 runs on a solo homer in the second and a two-run triple in the fifth. Seattle took game 3 5-1 to climb back to a 2-1 deficit in the series.

Game 4 was the game that Seattle had to have but didn't win. Up 10-8 going into the bottom of the 8th, Salt Lake City got a two out RBI triple from pinch-hitter Lawrence Black, then got two runs off closer Quilvio Sanchez (helped in large part by two passed balls and an error by Sanchez) to win an 11-10 slugfest to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the series.

Game 5 was a must-win for Seattle, and the offense came out desperate. They scored in each of the first four innings, scoring a total of 6 runs. By the time it was all said and done, three Killer Whales (Pete Duvall, Denny Moss, and Osvaldo Johnson) each had a pair of RBIs- that combined with a good effort from starter Kane Grahe (7 innings, 2 runs) gave Seattle an 8-2 win to stay alive.

Game 6 saw Salt Lake City jump on Seattle early. George Lowe had an RBI double and Vic James added an RBI single before a single out had been recorded, then Che Bong added a solo shot later in the first to pace the Shakers to a 3-0 lead before Seattle ever came to bat. That would be enough for the Shakers pitching staff, who threw five pitchers at Seattle (none pitching more than 3 2/3 innings). A 4-1 win gave Salt Lake City its first ever title.

Congratulations to Seattle on another World Series appearance and, of course, to the new champions from Salt Lake City.

Hall of Fame

With the Hall of Fame update finally coming to fruition, I wanted to take a look at some of the stats. Here are a few observations I made:

1. The requirements for auto-nomination aren't easy to hit.

As of right now, only 4 players have earned an auto-nomination: Osvaldo Johnson (4 MVPs), Gregg Black (3 MVPs), Javier Henriquez (4 Cy Youngs), and Dave Dunwoody (7 All-Star appearances). All four of these guys should waltz into the Hall as soon as they retire. Guys like Denny Moss, Ruben Hernandez, Calvin Chang, Stephen Michaels, and Sammy Pierce haven't got there (although they still have time). Which leads me to the next point:

2. Our Hall could be empty for a few seasons.

Taking a look at the players who have earned auto nominations and looking at the career leaders (top 15-20) in some of the major categories (home runs, RBI, wins, strikeouts), there is one thing in common- all the lists are comprised entirely of active players. Of course, any player who has already retired has less than 8 seasons, which is a very short time to put together a Hall of Fame career.

3. We may have already found our highly debatable case.

The league chat board has already spit out the name of what could be a very interesting case: King Winn. He has an MVP award to his name, and as of this post he ranks 8th all-time in home runs and 3rd all-time in RBI. He holds the single season RBI record with 182 in Season 4 and holds the third highest total with 168 back in season 1. However, he's been a full-time DH throughout his career- he's played more than 80 games in the field only once and has played 49 games in the field in the past 6 seasons. He's not close to auto-nomination, as he only has 3 All-Star apperances (less than names like Leo Miller, Wendell Durrington, Del Lopez, and Tex Howell) and only 2 Silver Slugger Awards. So the questions that arise here are: can a full-time DH make the Hall of Fame? And was Winn even the best at that position?

The Bigs Season 8- in Tweets

A recap of all 32 teams' seasons, Twitter-style (140 characters or less)


Atlanta: Won arguably the toughest division in baseball, but couldn't three-peat.

Austin: Good: beat Houston for first division title. Bad: failed to win a playoff series.

Cheyenne: Scored a few more than we gave up. So yep, we're just above .500.

Chicago: Ownership issues, little offense outside Simpson and Soriano- 76 wins is not bad.

Fargo: Couldn't support Javy, down year from Marin, collapse at the end.

Houston: 91 wins doesn't get you into the playoffs?

Kansas City: Right around 70 wins for fifth straight season. Hopefully minor league records indicate turnaround is coming.

New Orleans: Took a step back- starters not named Pong or Oliver highly questionable.

Norfolk: Red-headed stepchild in the NL East with 67 wins. Down years from Gordon and Acquino didn't help.

Philadelphia: 79 wins takes the division. First playoff appearance yields no playoff wins. And now Houston fans hate us.

Salem: Math time: mediocre pitching + no offense = 64 wins.

Salt Lake City: Finally slugged our way to a title! Party... at BYU? Nevermind. How does Hernandez get left off MVP ballot?

San Juan: No worse off then when we had Chang. Decent pieces in place. Bullpen still highly flammable.

Trenton: Another 90 win season. Another first-round loss. Major changes coming?

Vancouver: Call us Vancuver. If Merced has an ERA under 4 and is 4-16, must be no "O".

Washington: Were expected to contend as the Leonard era begins. LCS appearance was way ahead of schedule, though.


Anaheim: Tough to compete in a division with Seattle, Helena, and Boise. Batista stepped up to the big-time though.

Boise: Team gives up 838 runs and makes the playoffs? You cannot be serious. Unless you have McEnroe.

Boston: Were in position to knock off Louisville. Pulled a Fargo-like collapse.

Buffalo: One of two teams to have never made the playoffs. With this staff, probably not snapping that soon.

Charlotte: Team gave up over 1000 runs on its way to losing 106 games. Somewhere, Ham Bruske is twitching.

Helena: Surprise LCS appearance after wild card berth- may be last hurrah for this squad.

Jackson: Back down to earth at 81-81. May need to retool a bit.

Louisville: Always finds a way to get it done to take the East. But still no World Series appearance.

Milwaukee: Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Last 3 season win totals: 99, 82, 64.

Monterrey: After two seasons of Jackson dominance, veteran squad found its way back to the top of the AL South.

New York: Beat Chicago by two runs, was outscored by every other AL and NL team.

Oklahoma City: Was in the mix again, not enough pitching to get it done.

St. Louis: Dominated a weak division on way to #1 seed, didn't help come playoff time.

Scranton: The Turner Dolan Show needs a supporting cast. Chief Pearson shouldn't be playing a lead role.

Seattle: Second straight World Series appearance. Second straight runner-up finish.

Syracuse: Below average pitching, very little offense. That'll lose you 100 games. NY, BUF, and SYR- is offense outlawed in NY state?

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Bigs All Time Standings


Eight seasons into The Bigs and I've got to say we have created quite the competition. Seven different teams have brought home a Championship, leaving Atlanta as the only to capture two. We have 17 of the original founders, 10 in the NL and 7 in the AL. In addition to that we have 9 other franchises which have only known 2 owners. Theres only 6 franchises that have had 3+ owners. Only 2 teams have never tasted the post-season (Buffalo and Boston). Three teams have reached the PS and have failed to win a playoff game(K.C., Boise and San Juan). 12 teams have never won a playoff series and the Trenton Traffic is the winningest team yet to win a playoff series. Only Louisville has won the Division every season but has never been able to reach the World Series.

1 Monterey Sultans 799 497 .617 - 8 7 2 1 33 21
2 Fargo Dirtbags 781 515 .603 18 6 6 2 1 32 27
3 Milwaukee Maulers 780 516 .602 19 6 6 4 1 47 33
4 Houston Riverdogs 761 535 .587 38 7 7 1 1 32 29
5 Louisville Legends 749 547 .578 50 8 8 37 33
6 Atlanta Bandits 721 575 .556 78 6 6 2 2 42 29
7 Helena Grotto Gottos 711 585 .549 88 6 5 11 17
8 Trenton Traffic 703 593 .542 96 4 1 7 12
9 St Louis Rage 688 608 .531 111 4 2 12 13
10 Cheyenne Nation 666 630 .514 133 3 2 2 9
11 Salem Sacrifices 662 634 .511 137 5 3 1 1 25 18
12 SLC Shakers 659 637 .508 140 3 3 1 1 17 13
13 Chicago Snake Tamers 648 648 .500 151 4 16 17
14 Jackson Vipers 636 660 .491 163 2 1 2 6
15 New York New York 633 663 .488 166 1 3 5
16 Norfolk Destroyers 631 665 .487 168 1 1 3 5
17 Kansas City Scouts 627 669 .484 172 1 1 0 3
18 SJ Dead Bunnies 626 670 .483 173 1 0 3
19 Sea Killer Whales 625 671 .482 174 3 2 2 25 22
20 Anaheim Chiles 621 675 .479 178 1 1 2 3
21 New Orleans Voodoo 610 686 .471 189 2 1 6
22 Scranton Janitors 608 688 .469 191 3 8 13
23 OKC ObeseSupermodels 606 690 .468 193 2 2 6
24 Austin City Limits 601 695 .464 198 1 1 1 3
25 Charlotte Lions 599 697 .462 200 2 13 13
26 Boston Bambinos 592 704 .457 207
27 Buffalo Blue Cheese 575 721 .444 224
28 Boise Shadow Wolves 573 723 .442 226 1 0 3
28 Van Golden Otters 573 723 .442 226 1 1 11 9
30 Philly Phantoms 570 726 .440 229 2 1 2 6
31 D.C. Blue Coats 552 744 .426 247 1 9 5
32 Syracuse Simpletons 536 760 .414 263 1 1 3

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Duvall narrowly edges Chang for 2nd straight MVP

Washington rookie Leonard ends Fargo's hold on NL Cy Young, nabs ROY

The National League Most Valuable Player Award came down to a three way race where two of the contenders are quite familiar with the award. But it was Houston 3B Monte Duvall who was awarded with his second straight NL MVP this week, defeating Trenton's Calvin Chang and Salt Lake City's Vic James. Duvall received 10 out of a possible 32 votes while Chang and James each received 8 votes.

Duvall's numbers were off his career averages almost across the board this season but he still managed to smash 49 homeruns, down from his career best of 66 last season. Chang and James both had better OPS numbers and much higher batting averages than Duvall, but voters sided with Duvall's outstanding power numbers. Duvall led the NL in slugging percentage, Chang led the NL in on base percentage and James led the NL in batting average.

The American League MVP vote came down to a couple of guys who had career seasons and it was just about as close as the NL vote. In the end it was Boston's Ryan Snyder edging Seattle's Jack Hunt by three votes for his first MVP Award.

Snyder, who received 14 votes, set career highs in batting average (.328), on base percentage (.390), slugging percentage (.592), doubles (38), and triples (9) while Hunt, who received 11 votes, set career highs in batting average (.325), on base percentage (.403), slugging percentage (.551), doubles (42), stolen bases (39) and tied a career high in homeruns with 30.

For the first time since season 4, someone other than Javier Henriquez took home the NL Cy Young Award and, for the first time since season 1, it was someone other than a Fargo Dirtbag taking home the award. Washington rookie Carter Leonard won the NL Cy Young Award with 14 votes, defeating Trenton's Dave Dunwoody who finished second with 9 votes (the above mentioned Henriquez finished fifth with just two votes).

Leonard led Washington to the franchise's first NLCS by posting a 20-2 record with a 2.00 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in 30 starts while also winning the National League Rookie of the Year Award (by receiving a whopping 23 of 32 votes), becoming the first player in the history of The Bigs to win both awards in the same season.

The American League Cy Young vote wasn't quite as close as Anaheim's Mateo Batista ran away with the award, receiving 18 first place votes. Batista had a career year in his fifth big league season, posting a 17-4 record with a 2.43 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and three complete games in 33 starts. Seattle's Marty Lane finished second in the voting with 8 votes.

The AL Rookie of the Year voting was just as lopsided as the NL voting as Boise's Barry McEnroe won in a landslide by receiving 24 votes. McEnroe hit .349 this season with a .426 on base percentage and a .605 slugging percentage while hitting 33 homeruns and knocking in 107 RBI.

Monte Duvall
Age: 27B/T: S/R
Born: Ansonia, CT
Position(s): 3B/1B
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

Saturday, January 23, 2010

League Championship Series- Season 8

We had two very different LCS this season- one was over very quickly and the other went to a very exciting final game.


#5 Helena Grotto Gottos vs. #2 Seattle Killer Whales

We had division rivals go at it in the ALCS. Game 1 in Seattle seemed to indicate this would be a long series. Denny Moss hit a 2-run shot for the home team in the 3rd and Kris Olson followed with a solo shot to lead off the fourth for the home team, but Helena scratched out 2 runs in the ninth on three hits and an error and had first and third with two outs against Seattle closer Quilvio Sanchez before Richard Gabriel struck out to end the game, giving Seattle a 3-2 win. Kane Grahe went 8+ innings for the win.

Game 2 was another 1-run game, but this time extra innings were needed to decide this one. Coming back from a 3-1 deficit, Seattle forced extra innings and then got a RBI single in the tenth from veteran King Winn to win 4-3 and take a 2-0 lead in the series.

Game 3 saw the always raucous Helena crowd go home disappointed as the bullpen again let the Gottos down. In a 4-4 game in the 8th inning, Osvaldo Johnson delivered the crippling blow, a 3 run shot off Coco Hines to give Seattle the lead for good as they would go on to win 8-4.

Seattle held a commanding 3-0 lead; could Helena pull off the comeback? In a word, no. It was apparent early on they hadn't recovered from the game 3 loss and managed only 3 hits off Seattle starter Slash Ruffin. Meanwhile, Jack Hunt, Harry Lee, and Osvaldo Johnson each homered (Lee's was a 2 run shot) to account for all the offense in a 4-0 win to sweep the series and advance to their second straight World Series.


#5 Washington D.C. Blue Coats vs. #3 Salt Lake City Shakers

The NLCS pitted first-time entry Washington against the NL West champion Salt Lake City. Game 1 was an indication of how tight this series would be, as it was decided in the ninth. Tied 4-4, Lawrence Black reached on an Alex Javier error, stole second, then took third on a bad pickoff attempt by Javier. George Lowe then singled him home to give the Shakers a 5-4 decision.

Game 2 was a resounding win for the home team. A close game turned into a blowout in the matter of one inning. Leading 4-2 going into the 6th, Salt Lake City struck for 5 runs, highlighted by a 3-run shot by Black and a solo shot by Lowe. Rene Alexander gave up only two runs in 5 innings for the Shakers in a 10-3 win.

Game 3 saw Washington, now the home team, jump on the Shakers early and hang on to win. Up 3-2 in the second, Luis Martinez lined a 3-run triple for the Blue Coats to extend to a 5-2 lead. That was all the offense D.C. needed, as Graham Costello and 3 relievers held Salt Lake City to only 1 run for the rest of the game in a 5-3 win to make the series 2-1.

Game 4 was the exact opposite of game 3. Salt Lake City jumped out to the early lead by getting 5 runs in the first three innings, 4 of which came on a pair of 2-run homers by Ruben Hernandez, and survived an 8th inning rally to win 5-4 and take a 3-1 series lead.

Game 5 told us that Washington would not go quietly into that good night. Rookie John Balfour got his first (and likely not his last) playoff win by giving up only 1 run in 6 innings. Three relievers took care of the rest, pitching no-hit ball for the final 3 innings in a 3-1 Washington win to send the series back to Utah.

Game 6 saw a second strong pitching performance from D.C. starter Graham Costello and key hits from the right guys in the Blue Coats' lineup. Willis Biddle went 3 for 5 and scored twice, and Burt Stevenson added a 2-run homer to jumpstart Washington to a 6-0 lead. They would go on to win 6-3 and force a decisive game 7 in Salt Lake City.

Game 7 would feature veteran ace Alex Sanchez against young ace Carter Leonard in a winner-take-all showdown. The two dueled evenly until the 6th inning when Salt Lake City got a 2-run homer from slugger Ruben Hernandez. Washington got a solo homer from Eddie Peters in the top of the 7th to close the gap to 2-1, but Lawrence Black homered in the bottom of the inning to make it 4-1 and put the game out of reach. The final was 4-1 to advance Salt Lake City to their first ever World Series appearance.

Congratulations to Helena and Washington on their great seasons and to the two teams still alive for the championship.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Here Lies The Season 8 Kitties

Unable to hit against Seattle, the Kitties folded and crawled to the back of their dark cave to sleep the winter away. The Kitties showed promise in Seattle but needed to win there instead of falling 1-run short both times in boring thrillers. Congrats to Seattle, they were are best team in the AL IMHO.

What came out the playoffs this year is that Helena management learned how to win in the playoffs that could go a long way in future endeavors. The 3 year Helena deal is over is over however, as the owner has came up with a new deal in Las Vegas and as far as I am told will be known as the Sand Cats next year.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Divisional Series for Season 8 wrap-up

We saw some exciting action in the divisional series, with a couple of game 5s and several "upsets". Both #1 seeds are already out. Who's left?


The top two seeds are out, as #5 Washington will play #3 Salt Lake City in the NLCS. Washington took out #1 seed Austin in 4 games, winning both games in Texas to take a 2-0 lead and then won a battle of the bullpens in game 4 to take the series. Salt Lake City ended #2 Atlanta's reign as champs with a victory in 4 games. After being shut out in the first game, the Shakers tallied 24 runs in the next three, all wins. I'll call for the upset and predict Washington, in its first postseason ever, to win in 7.


Both series went to a decisive 5th game, and both those games were decided by one run. #1 St. Louis appeared to be cruising to the ALCS, winning the first two games at home over #5 Helena by a combined score of 15-2. But Helena won both games at home and then overcame a 1-run deficit in the ninth inning of game 5 to win a 3-2 thriller to go to their first LCS. Like St. Louis, #2 Seattle took both of the first two games at home against #3 Monterrey, but the Sultans tied the series at 2-2 before succumbing in a close game 5. Seattle will host division rival Helena in the ALCS. I'm going to have to take Seattle in 5- they've had success against Helena.

Helena Pulls Upset.

After the first two games in St. Louis, I thought the mighty Rage would win in three games sweeping me out of the playoffs yet again. The Kitties barely hit the ball in the first two games. Then disaster struck in the third game for the Rage. First they sent Billy Nation to the mound, as you might know he was run out of Helena facing backwards on a jackass. He wasn't too popular with the fans or management as you know. Then to make matters worse, starting CF Gary Nelson went down with a season ending injury. The the Hidden Kitties had the game well in hand then they allowed the Rage to storm back and tie the game in the 9th and take the lead in the 10th. The offense would have none of that as they win the game with two runs in the bottom of the 10th. Momentum changed at that very moment, game 4 saw the Kitty staff shut down the mighty Rage offense for a 7-4 win. The final game saw the mighty Rage nearly hitless but managed to squeak two runs across the plate and lead the game till the 9th inning when the bottom of the Kittie order made their offensive prowess felt scoring 2.

The Rage had a wonderful season. Did one injury cost them the series? That we will never know. To me it seemed the bull pen let them down the most all of a sudden where the Kittie litter excelled.

Now it is off the Seattle to meet our favorite divisional opponent (not!). Believe it or not, they are the only other opponent we did not have an even or winning record against going 2-8 also. Could history repeat itself yet again in the playoffs for Helena? It will be a tough series. The only advantage for the Kitties is that the Killer Whales offense/defense is not well rested. Can the Kitty pitching staff shut down another high powered offense?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Records set this season

This was a record-breaking season for two players in The Bigs.

Austin's William Satou broke the major league stolen base record. He stole 142 in only 142 games, breaking the old record of 134 by Justin Hernandez of the now Scranton franchise in season 3. The old NL record was 122 by Rico Valdes of Montreal (now Kansas City) back in season 2.

Salt Lake City's Ruben Hernandez drove in 171 runs, breaking the National League RBI record. Vicente Romero drove in 155 for Montreal (now KC) in the inaugeral season of The Bigs, an NL record that stood until this season. Hernandez's total was the second most all-time, behind only King Winn's 182 RBIs for Nashville (now Charlotte) in season 4.

1st Round Playoff Results- Season 8

Round 1 is complete, and we're on to round 2.


Salt Lake City lost game 1 to the Trenton Traffic, but won the next 3 to take the series. They move on to take on Atlanta. This is a classic offense/pitching matchup. I think the pitching holds up and Atlanta should move on.

In the other half of the bracket, Washington took down Philadelphia in three straight to advance and play Austin. I like Austin's balance, although Washington's pitching makes them a tough out against any team they face.


Helena continues Louisville's playoff frustration by taking the Legends out in four games. They'll advance to face top seed St. Louis, who I think is just too talented for the Grotto Gottos.

Monterrey ruined Boise's first ever playoff appearance, needing just 3 games to dispatch Barry McEnroe and company. They'll move on to face the second seeded Seattle Killer Whales, who I think should be able to handle the Sultans.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Helena Wins Round 1!

For the second time in six tries the organization has advanced to the 2nd round. "That is a big hurdle!" I declare. The keys to victory was simple, the second best (or maybe third depending on whose eyes you look through) pitching staff in the AL shut down the the best hitting team. Louisville has a very good team and a very formidable opponent, there is no denying that.

Now it is off to St. Louis and the mighty River City Rage. What a series this could turn out to be. Two of the best pitching staffs square off against each other. The Rage have a slight edge in pitching and hitting as defense is about equal. The season series was handily won by the Rage 8-2. However our two wins came in St. Louis splitting a four game series. Keys to victory, must win the opening two games in a very hostile environment and find a way to win one at home. If it is a split in St. Louis, don't expect the Growling Kitties to recover. If it goes 5 games the advantage still goes to the Rage as it will be tough to win three in their park. The table is set, Play Ball!!!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Field of 12 is set

All the playoff teams and matchups are set up. There are some holdovers but quite a few surprises and new teams in the playoffs. Coming into this season, only 5 franchises had never made the playoffs- we're now down to 2 (Buffalo and Boston).


The top seed will be Austin (102-60), which broke Houston's streak of 7 consecutive division titles (Houston will miss the playoffs for the first time ever despite winning 90 games). Austin makes its first ever playoff appearance in style. The defending champs, Atlanta (100-62), will be the #2 seed and grab the other bye.

First Round

Salt Lake City (98-64) slugged their way to a second straight NL West title and will be the third seed. They'll draw #6 Trenton (92-70) in the first round. These teams finished 1-2 in the NL in OPS, so expect to see some offense. If Dunwoody, Sprague, and company can limit the production of Hernandez, Lowe, Bong, and the rest of the Salt Lake City lineup, I give Trenton a good shot. If not, Salt Lake City should take this series.

#4 Philadelphia (79-83) became only the second team below .500 to make the playoffs (Las Vegas won the AL West in season 5 at 79-83) and snapped Fargo's streak of 6 straight division titles. They'll face off against playoff newcomer #5 Washington (95-67), led by their young pitchers, Carter Leonard and John Balfour. Philadelphia can match up with the young pitching with the likes of stalwarts Bernard Robinson, Harry Lee, and Albert Herzog, but I don't think they can score enough runs. I'd favor Washington to advance.


In the AL, St. Louis (110-52) will be the top seed for the first time ever in franchise history, as they ran away with their second straight AL North title. The #2 seed will be the defending AL West and American League champion Seattle Killer Whales (106-56).

First Round

#3 Monterrey (98-64) won ten in a row to finish the season, and the playoff-veteran team will play first-time entry Boise (84-78). Boise most certainly has enough offense, but I'm not sure they have the pitching. I think Monterrey will win, but expect Barry McEnroe to have a coming out party.

#4 Louisville (92-70) won its 8th straight division title. They'll get a resurgent Helena team (89-73), the #5 seed, in round 1. This should be a good matchup- I think Louisville's depth will make the difference, but this could go either way.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Philadelphia, Jackson streaking toward playoff berths?

The two hottest teams in the league have launched themselves from the periphery of the playoff race to the middle.

Philadelphia Phantoms

Last week, Philadelphia was a 68-76 team only being kept alive by a .500 Fargo team (72-72). Since then, the Phantoms have won 8 straight games to move to .500 and to first place, as Fargo is in the midst of a debilitating 9 game losing streak. The key was a 3 game sweep of the Dirtbags at home, in which they held the Fargo offense to 6 runs. Now that they have no more games together, Fargo is going to have to turn it back around quickly and hope that Philadelphia falters. If that doesn't happen, the Philadelphia franchise would win its first division title and make only its 2nd playoff appearance.

Jackson Vipers

Like Philadelphia, Jackson has waited until now to play its best ball of the season. Unlike Philly, they have no shot at a division title, as Monterrey has clinched that honor. However, Jackson has won 11 of their last 13 to climb within reach of a wild-card berth. They currently sit 3 back of Boise for the last wild-card spot, and they're one game behind Boston- they've already passed Oklahoma City in the division and the wild-card race. This could be a product of the schedule- they've won 9 of those 11 against teams well below .500 (New York, Buffalo, Milwaukee). But beware the Vipers, as the remaining schedule would seem to favor them (closing with Scranton, Charlotte, and OKC, all under .500).

Thursday, January 7, 2010

American League Playoff Picture with 16 Games to Go

With 16 games to go, the American League is a little more defined than the NL. Here's how it looks as of right now:

AL East

Since our last installment, Boston has lost 18 of their 25 games to fall into second place at 74-72, five games back of division leader Louisville (79-67). They'll finish at home against Louisville, but they'll have to stay close, which won't be easy with series outside their division with Boise and Oklahoma City.

AL North

If this were a boxing match, it would have been stopped by the referee long ago. St. Louis has already reached 100 wins (100-46), and the next best record in the division is 58-88 (Milwaukee and Buffalo are tied with that record). The only thing left to play for is seeding (see magic numbers section).

AL South

Monterrey has pulled away in the last 25 games, increasing their division lead from 5 games to 12. They currently sit at 85-61, 12 games in front of Oklahoma City (73-73), and 13 ahead of Jackson (72-74). They've all but won the division.

AL West

Like the South, the division title hasn't been clinched yet, although it should come soon. Seattle (94-52) is 14 games out in front of second place Helena (80-66), and 14 games at this stage is just far too much ground to make up. Boise, having a fine season at 77-69, is eliminated from the division race.

Wild Card

Like the NL, if the playoffs started today, there would be a division with 3 teams in the playoffs (the AL West). Helena right now holds the first wild card spot at 80-66, and Boise is 3 back at 77-69. Like Washington and Trenton, these two finish against each other, so they can't get too comfortable, as one could knock the other out. Hoping to catch up are Boston (74-72, 3 back of the last spot), Oklahoma City (73-73, 4 back of the last spot), and Anaheim and Jackson (both 72-74, 5 back of the last spot). So we still have 6 teams for 2 spots, although the list may shorten pretty quickly- the teams at the end can't afford to drop many games down the stretch.

Magic numbers

Louisville: 12 to clinch AL East

St. Louis: Clinched AL North
2 to clinch 1st round bye
11 to clinch overall top seed

Monterrey: 5 to clinch AL South

Seattle: 3 to clinch AL West
8 to clinch 1st round bye

Helena: 11 to clinch wild-card berth
Boise: 14 to clinch wild-card berth

National League Playoff Picture with 16 games to go

Closing in on the end of the season, here's how the playoff picture looks now (division by division)

NL East

Right now Atlanta (89-57) has a 4 game lead on Washington (85-61) and a 5 game lead on Trenton (84-62) for the division, although the Bandits have 2 more games with Trenton and a 3 game set with Atlanta still to go. Washington finishes with 3 games at Trenton, which could decide second place and have wild-card implications.

NL North

Could we have a below .500 division winner? Fargo has struggled lately, falling to 72-74 and yet still leading the division. Philadelphia just won't go away, as they're only two back at 70-76. Chicago, with all the drama surrounding the team earlier in the season, still has an outside shot at 67-79 (5 back).

NL South

Austin has pretty firm control over this division, with an NL best 91-55. Houston is 9 back at 82- 64, so unless they make up a lot of ground fast, their season-ending series with the City Limits won't mean much for the division title.

NL West

Salt Lake City, at 86-60, holds a ten game lead over Cheyenne. Like Houston in the South, Cheyenne needs to make up ground fast to make their season-ending series against the division leaders mean anything. Unlike Houston, it appears Cheyenne won't have the wild-card as a back-up plan.

Wild Card

Realistically, there are 3 teams competing for two spots. Right now, Washington leads the Wild Card race at 85-61, with Trenton one game back at 84-62. Houston is two back of Trenton at 82-64. All three of these teams still have to play each other (Houston plays back-to-back 4 game sets against Washington and Trenton, both at home. Washington finishes the season with 3 games at Trenton), so these series will likely decide how this race shakes out. Cheyenne is 8 back of the last playoff spot and is likely out.

Magic Numbers

Atlanta: 13 to clinch NL East

Fargo: 15 to clinch NL North

Austin: 8 to clinch NL South
13 to clinch 1st round bye

Salt Lake City: 7 to clinch NL West

Friday, January 1, 2010

Season 8 Draft Review

(Year of the SS OR Where did the Pitching go?)

Prologue: There is one thing, I’ve repeated several times in my reviews (here and in other ones); that is “If they can get him to his potential”. The question is how do you get them there?? The fact is, the majority of the picks will NOT make it to their ‘potential’ ratings. Many will fall short, why? Well there are several factors that play a part in this. The three biggest are: Player’s Makeup Rating, Training Budget and Coaches. Also, timely promotions and of course staying healthy play an important part too. One thing that I don’t mention in my reviews is the Makeup Rating. This very key piece of the puzzle and the one part that is out the control of the owner; while the others parts are all owners. Neglecting the parts that are in your control; may well mean that multi-million bonus spent here in the draft will not be money well spent. Sometimes even IF you do everything right, they still may not make it, which comes back to the 'Makeup rating.

As for the 'pick of the draft', there are 4 very strong contenders (2 taken early and 2 taken later). This draft, required me to add a third award, you'll see it.

1 Charlotte Lions: Joe Grace RF/1B – Bonus 4.0 Mill
As first overall picks go, this is a pretty good one. There is no doubt that Joe will be a offensive contributor when he makes to the ML level. He should hit for both average and have decent power numbers. He’ll be a little bit of a liability in the outfield but his bat should offset that. Though as RFers go, his defensive ratings are pretty good. Overall I’d say this was the best bat available in the draft.
Rating: 8.5

2 San Juan Dead Bunnies: Vic Olivares SS – Bonus 3.9 Mill
Here is the first of the several potential ML Shortstop taken early in this season’s draft. Vic should become a real solid contributor at the ML level with his glove and bat. While both are little short of ‘spectacular’ due to a couple of weaknesses (Range a little low for the SS position and his RH split is marginal); he’ll still be a player I’m sure San Juan will like having in the lineup. The only other negative, is his durability it’s a little on the low side too. Overall this is a good pick but I think the two next picks are a little better.
Rating: 9.0

3 Philadelphia Phantoms: Barry Sanders SS – Bonus 5.2 Mill
Barry in the highest bonus paid for any of the first rounders taken this season. Question, is he worth the price tag? In my opinion, yes. This is a solid prospect; the only real problem is that his glove may be a little weak for the SS position at the ML level. Still, when you consider the overall package here, that’s a small thing really. If the Phantoms can get this prospect to his potential, it will be money well spent.
Rating 9.5

4 Boston Bambinos: Mel Turner SS – Bonus 3.7 Mill
The difference between this pick and the previous one on an overall basis, is really only the price tag. Mel will be the better of the two defensively, but may come up slightly short offensively. The thing is in both, the difference isn’t really a lot either way. So to break the tie I looked the tangibles. Those are pretty close as well. So again it comes down to price…
Rating 9.5

5 Chicago Snake Tamers: Andrea Butler CF – Bonus 3.6 Mill
Don’t get me wrong Andrea should become a solid ML player in about 4 seasons down the road. He’s a solid prospect, I just don’t think he is quite top 10 material. His splits will only be marginal (especially RH!) while for power hitter his contact is pretty good. This though is offset by a marginal batting eye. His defensive potential is good but not great. Yes Andrea is a 1st round pick, just not a top ten. That said, if Chicago can get him to his potential, he’ll be decent ML Centrefielder.
Rating 8.0

6 Scranton Janitors: Cleatus Jaramillo SS – 3.5 Mill
As Shortstops go, this has to be the most unique ratings I’ve ever seen. This prospect has gold glove potential at the ML level! Not only that, he hits with a lot power! The only thing is his batting average will not be anything to brag about. His low contact and marginal batting eye will see to that. So he’ll strike out a lot but when he does hit the ball … This would be an interesting one see how he does at the ML level (when he gets there). A defensive specialist with power??
Rating 9.0

**** (Question Mark Award)****
7 Syracuse Simpleton: Bob Ramsey P – Bonus 3.4 Mill

Here is the first pitcher taken in the draft. My mother always said if you don’t have anything nice to say…. Well, Mr Ramsey should have great Durability and has a great make up rating. Sorry but everything else… I don’t get this pick to be honest, from what I see, Syracuse paid 3.4 million for a guy who’s top end is at best Hi-A. With these ratings I suspect he’d get shelled at Hi-A. I wouldn’t qualify this pick for the Red Herring award…cause he ain’t even that good. There is a saying “This guy couldn’t pitch heaters to Eskimos”. (Note as my writing this, the Rookie League is 40+ games into it’s season and Bob hasn’t pitched to a single batter yet.)
Rating: 0.0

8 Buffalo Blue Cheese: Hub Hamilton 2B – Bonus 4.7 Mill
With this pick Buffalo gets a prospect with the potential to put up some really good numbers at the plate. His potential defensive ratings aren’t quite up to the ML standards for 2B; so maybe LF or RF would be better. Either way this is a bat you’d want in the line up. The other thing is, his potential durability means he could be a real iron man.
Rating 8.5

9 Norfolk Destroyers: Geovany Manzanillo SS – Bonus 3.2 Mill
My first pick was the guy I add rated #1 on the list I saw. While his overall defensive ratings are just OK for the shortstop position (at the ML level); his offensive rating are were the best I saw. This definitely a project style pick, he’ll take a while to reach his potential. If I can get him there, he’ll make for a solid everyday SS; who’ll have some pop in his bat.
Rating 9.0

10 Vancouver Golden Otters: B.C. Macias SP – Bonus 3.2 Mill
Now here is the first ML potential pitcher taken in the draft. He should have great splits and control; with his overall pitch quality being just OK. He doesn’t really have an “Out” pitch. Even so, he should make for an effective pitcher at the ML level. Also, his makeup rating should mean his ML career will be a long one.
Rating 8.5

11 Washington D.C Blue Coats: Jorge Cruz RP – Bonus 3.0 Mill
Washington takes a blue chip future closer. Jorge potential ratings say he should become a fine ML closer. Solid splits, great control and 2 great pitches, then throw in decent velocity. It all makes for a great closer, if the Blue Coats can get him to this potential
Rating 9.0

12 Kansas City Scouts: Heath Christiansen RF – Bonus 2.9 Mill
Between Heath and the first overall pick (Joe Grace), it’s a pretty close regarding their offensive potential. Heath though is a little better defensively. Still he’s a RF/1B prospect overall. If the Scouts can get this pick to his potential, he’ll make a fine addition to their batting lineup
Rating 9.0

13 Salem Sacrifices: Willie Hernandez SP – Bonus 2.8 Mill
Another SP prospect with a great Makeup rating. Willie should become a solid starting ML pitcher. Decent splits for a left-handed pitcher and solid control, just a strange to see his #2 pitch his best. Especially by as much as it is. Still Willie should make a good middle of the rotation type starter.
Rating 8.5

14 Buffalo Blue Cheese: Rip Battle 2B – Bonus 2.8 Mill
Got to be the best name in the draft (the 1st round at least). As prospect, Rip is a pretty good one. Great potential hitting ratings, but his potential defensive ratings are just marginal for the second base position. I think that his bat overshadows any defensive short comings. I think if Buffalo can get him to his potential, they will be please with the outcome.
Rating 9.0

15 New York new york: John Scott SP – Bonus 3.7 Mill
Another solid middle of the rotation pitching prospect. His splits are a little low for a lefty but his pitch quality and control should offset this. While John may not win any Cy Young awards, still he should give New York solid work from the mound when he gets to the ML level
Rating 8.5

16 Cheyenne Nation: Russell Karl SP – Asking 3.9 Mill
With their first pick, Cheyenne took a flyer at a pitcher that may not sign. As of writing this report, he was unsigned. Overall Russell has the potential to a decent ML pitcher but his stamina is a low for a starter. Even, so he’d give you some decent innings whether as a starter or from the pen. I’d say he was worth the risk, especially considering Cheyenne has another pick in the first round.
Rating 8.0 (unsigned)

17 Anaheim Chiles: Del McClellan COF – Bonus 2.5 Mill
For the 17th overall pick, this is a pretty darn good pick up. One trend (if any) seems to be very evident with most of the positional players taken so far, is that their LH split is a fair bit higher than the RH. Del takes this to almost an extreme. His RH is just OK but his LH split… guys throw Righties at this boy!!! This guy should make for a great #2 guy in Anaheim’s future batting order.
Rating 9.0

18 Boise Shadow Wolves: Magglio Delgado SP – Bonus 2.4 Mill
Of the starting pitchers taken & signed so far in the draft, Magglio is most likely the best of them. Still, while his control and splits should become great; his pitch quality is a little low. Taken as a whole package, I think the ‘Dark Hounds’ will be happy if this pick can make these potential ratings.
Rating 8.5

19 Austin City Limits: Ron Sewell SP – Asking 4.2 Mill
As of the writing of this, this pick is unsigned. Overall I’d say this prospect is equal to Boise’s pick above. Splits aren’t as good but pitch quality is better. Still all that doesn’t mean much if he goes unsigned. Also, his price is almost twice that of Mr Delgado
Rating 8.0 (unsigned)

20 Milwauke Manic Maulers: Kareem Crede – Bonus 2.2 Mill
Here is another solid starting pitching prospect. His splits are the only thing keeping him from ‘Ace’ status. That will not mean he’ll not be an effective pitcher, cause he will be. Just he’ll be doing that from the middle of the rotation. Nothing wrong with that.
Rating 8.5

21 New Orleans Voodoo: Jamey Hunter 2B – Bonus 2.1 Mill
At first glance this looks to be a pretty good overall pick. No doubt about his defensive potential, he should make for a solid 2B in the field at the ML level. BUT his bat will be another matter; his splits are low for ML hitter. This will keep him from putting up good numbers at the dish. So will he put numbers good enough to get him the majors, if he makes it can he stay?????.Time will tell of course.
Rating 7.0

22 Cheyenne Nation: Leon Dunn RP – Bonus 2.0 Mill
With their 2nd pick in the round the NATION take one of the several solid closer prospects available in this draft. One could argue this is the best of the lot, it’s close for sure. This guy has everything you could ask for, really good splits, great control, 2 top quality pitches …. Leon will definitely be a contender for the Fireman award when he makes to the ML level.
Rating 9.5

23 Buffalo Blue Cheese: Rey Maeda SP – Bonus 3.0 Mill
I’ve got a SP in Williamson World pretty much what this guy’s potential is. While his stamina is a little low for a starting pitcher (only able to go 6+ innings at most); he’s in the running for the Cy Young every season (won it twice). If Buffalo can get Rey to his potential, that’s what they will have EXACTLY! It was so hard NOT to give this pick ‘The Award’ but there a pitcher taken slightly better.
Rating 9.5+

24 Helena Grotto Gottos: Benji Pena COF – Bonus 1.8 Mill
If Helena can get this prospect to his potential, they will have a really solid COF for their ML club. Sure his potential defensive rating isn’t spectacular, but they more than good enough for a COF spot. As for his offensive potential, what’s not to like about a guy who should hit for a really good average and has some decent pop in his bat? Overall as 24th pick, this is a darn fine prospect
Rating 9.0

25 Jackson Vipers: Lenny Shafer SP – Bonus 1.7 Mill
Another potential future closer? He should develop great control and great splits; this along with great velocity seems to indicate that. But (you knew it was coming) his pitching quality AND durability are too low for that spot on a ML staff. Still, he could give Jackson some valuable work as a ‘shortman’ out of the pen. Though I’d suspect his performance will lack some consistency.
Rating 7.0

26 St. Louis River City RAGE: Stu Phillips RP – Bonus1.6 Mill
Here is the other potential ML closer. There isn’t much choose between Stu and Cheyenne’s pick. Stu’s splits are a little better but Leon’s pitch quality is better. So it’s really 6 of one & half a dozen of another. Taken this late in the first round, this is a great pick up for the RAGE
Rating 9.5

27 Monterrey Sultans: Jamie Stanley SP – Bonus1.5 Mill
When you consider when he is taken, his cost and his overall potential; you have the pick of the draft right here. If Jamie can make it to his potential ratings, Monterrey will have a pretty good #1 starter for their rotation. BIG NOTE here though, Jamie is presently on the 60 day DL for elbow surgery!!! So I suspect Monterrey is hoping that this will not stop him becoming that ace. He’s only 18 years old, so the chances are good
Rating 10.0

28 Oklahoma City Obese Supermodels: Vic Volquez CF – Bonus 1.4 Mill
With their pick Oklahoma City takes a potential future lead off man. Vic will have really good speed and should hit a good average with great contact & batting eye ratings. As with all speedsters he’ll be a little weak against left-handed pitching. For a pick taken this late in the first round, this is a solid prospect with only one drawback. That being his potential durability is low for an everyday starter.
Rating 9.0

29 Trenton Traffic: Jack Milliard 1B/DH – Bonus 1.6 Mill
Trenton takes the first 1B/DH picked in this draft. In Jack, Trenton is getting a very good potential bat for the future. At least it better be very good, cause defensively Jack is a liability on the field. With a marginal glove for first baseman, no range and well no arm to speak of; his offensive upside better be great. Being in the NL means Trenton can’t hide this guy as a DH. All that being said, I think if the Traffic can get Jack to his potential; his bat should overshadow his weak defensive play
Rating 8.0

30 Atlanta Bandits: Tomas Nunez SP – Bonus 1.3 Mill
What a surprise, Atlanta taking a pitching prospect. Tomas should become a solid ML pitcher if he reaches his potential. Though I don’t think it will be as starter, overall pitch quality is suspect. Even if it’s from the pen, he should give Atlanta some quality innings when he does take the mound for them. There is nothing about his potential ratings that jump out at you, but no major weakness is there either (except for no real ‘out’ pitch). Tomas should make for a solid addition to Atlanta’s ML pitching staff when the time comes
Rating 8.0

31 Jackson Vipers: Hunter Kerr SP – Bonus 1.2 Mill
When their second pick of the first round, Jackson takes another pitching prospect. This prospect will have great stamina, solid control and splits but unfortunately that is really where the good ends. His potential pitch quality is really not up to ML standards, his best pitch is just marginal and the next two are really suspect. Tomas above has at least 2 potential pitches in the 70s and better splits; as well as five pitches; Hunter has only 3 and his splits are not good enough to make up for this weakness. I see this as AAA prospect only, the only role he could be at the ML level is Mopup. As of this writing, Hunter is on the 60 day DL; unlike the other pick presently on the DL, Hunter is a fair bit older and therefore is recovery will be harder.
Rating 5.0

32 Houston Riverdogs: Dan Matthews SP – Asking 5.0 Million
With their pick Houston took a flyer at risky pick (one that may not sign). I like this strategy. It’s a player most will bypass, so he should be available at the #32 pick. If he signs, you’ll get a great prospect with a late round pick; if he doesn’t you get a compensation pick next season. I see no downside to this idea! At present Dan is unsigned. This is too bad really because Dan’s potential looks like he could make a top of the rotation type starter! His stamina is a little low for a starter but considering the rest of his potential pitching ratings, that is not a big deal. His asking price is high but considering what an IFA with this potential would cost…it’s bargin.
Rating 9.0 (unsigned)