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.

First Entry to the Hall?

This will be the third season of Hall of Fame voting, and the first two (rightfully, in this writer's opinion) failed to elect anyone into the hallowed hall. This season could change that, as a very viable candidate exists this time around in the form of Gregg Black.

Black is an auto-nominee due to his 3 MVP awards in the first four seasons of the league. In addition to the MVPs, he won 5 Silver Slugger Awards and was a 5-time All-Star, all with Nashville (now Charlotte). He was traded 5 times in the three seasons after that, winning 2 World Series Championships with Atlanta. His Season 1 performance, where he hit .385-50-161 with a .513 OBP and an .808 SLG, is inarguably the best single season performance by any hitter. He is the world's all-time leader in both slugging percentage and OPS (on-base plus slugging), holds 4 single season records (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS), and has 10 franchise records.

Trenton GM gumbercules said that Black's only question mark- his short Bigs career- wouldn't deter him from voting for Black. "I know eventually his numbers won't hold up- his stats will be passed by some players who aren't HOF worthy. But in my mind he is absolutely a Hall of Famer- he was the best position player of his time and he was absolutely dominant for those first five years. For me that's enough."

Just as a reminder, here are the specifications for auto-nomination (only one is required):

Position Players: 7+ Silver Sluggers, 10+ Gold Gloves, 3+ MVPs, 500+ HRs, 3000+ hits.
Pitchers: 3+ Fireman of the Year Awards, 3+ Cy Youngs, 300+ wins, 3000+ K's, 500+ Saves.
Both: 7+ All-Star appearances

Friday, August 13, 2010

Buffalo, Mexico City make Early Splashes in Free-Agency

While free-agency isn't over yet and there are still some good players to be had, two teams have announced themselves as players in the free agent market- Buffalo and Mexico City.

The Buffalo franchise has been looking up at the top of the AL North for 10 seasons and feel like this could be the season they make a move. As our sister office in Fargo has previously reported, they've added starting pitcher Jerome Oliver and Derrin Hernandez. But they weren't done there, adding veteran bat Cap Herrera (formerly of Trenton), reliever Tom Hernandez (from New Orleans), and have re-signed 3-time All Star Julio Diaz. Herrera spoke to TBDN about the signing, saying, " I enjoyed my time in Trenton for the most part. A lot of pressure was put on me because of the contract I signed, and the fans got on me when I struggled. I understand why. I'm looking forward to chasing a title with A.J., Julio, and everyone else up in Buffalo."

Mexico City, a contender in the AL South for seasons, added several new infield parts. They signed maybe the biggest name available in 6-time All-Star 3B James Dixon, now an ex-Chile. Former Golden Otter Jerry Strickland will man 2B, while Trenton's career leader in hits, 1B Stephen Mills, will leave the only team he's ever played for to go to Mexico City. "I understand it's a business, but I was a little disappointed to leave Trenton", said Mills. "But maybe I got out at a good time- Mexico City is an awfully good team and I know Jack (Millard) is almost ready. At any rate, I hope to win a World Series. I always thought it would be in New Jersey, but it wasn't to be."

Buffalo spending spree nets Hernandez, Oliver

Blue Cheese shell out big bucks for prized free agents

If anyone was wondering whether or not the Buffalo Blue Cheese see themselves as a serious World Series contender this season, there should be little doubt now. Buffalo has announced that the team has come to terms on contract agreements with free agent second baseman Derrin Hernandez and three-time All-Star starter Jerome Oliver.

The 30-year-old Hernandez signed a deal that will pay him $8.7 million per season through season 15. Hernandez, who spent the past five seasons with San Juan, batted .296 last season with 17 HR, 73 RBI and a .771 OPS. He has stolen at least 20 bases in eight out of his nine major league seasons.

Oliver's contract may come as more of a surprise to those around the league. The Blue Cheese signed the 36-year-old starter to a four-year $34 million deal, though Oliver's 95 health rating and 98 makeup are likely the reasons the Blue Cheese felt confident enough to give him a big four-year deal. Oliver posted an 18-7 record for New Orleans last season while registering a 2.92 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 243.2 IP.

Derrin Hernandez
Blue Cheese
Age: 30B/T: R/R
Born: Ocala, FL
Position(s): 2B/LF/CF
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

3 Young Stars sign Contract Extensions

Three major AL stars signed contract extensions with their teams instead of going to arbitration.

Reigning AL MVP A.J. Leonard signed a 5-year, $43.75 million extension with the Buffalo Blue Cheese. The deal came with a no-trade clause. "A.J. is happy to be a member of the Blue Cheese for the foreseeable future", said Wade Nicholson, Leonard's agent, at the press conference to announce the signing. "We think Buffalo has a bright future, particularly with A.J. as a part of it. We were willing to commit 5 years of his service to Buffalo, and the franchise was willing to commit to A.J. in the form of cash and the no-trade clause. I'd say both sides are happy".

4-time All-Star SS Amp Palmer signed on for 4 more years in Louisville at $38 million. Like Leonard, he is a former number 1 overall pick in the amateur draft and he has helped lead Louisville to a division title in all 6 of his big league seasons. "This is a proud franchise and I'm proud to be a major part of it", said Palmer. "I love it here and am looking forward to bringing a title to Louisville".

St. Louis locked up star pitcher Yogi Anderson to a 5-year, $38.4 million extension. Anderson is a past Rookie of the Year winner and a 3-time All-Star and receives a big contract after a career high 19 wins last season. Agent Tomas Romero said the negotiations weren't that difficult because, "This was something both sides wanted. They understand Yogi's an important part of the team and they've treated him well. He's happy here in St. Louis."

Word out of Trenton is that the Traffic is negotiating a similar deal with star 2B Watty Miller, likely to be announced tomorrow. The sides are negotiating the terms of the deal, but word is that an extension will be signed to make sure Miller stays in Trenton.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Two Veteran Pitchers Announce Retirement

Two of the better pitchers from the early days of the league both announced their retirement today at the age of 39.

Carlos Matos pitched for 12 ML seasons, 8 of them in The Bigs. He won 90 games in his career in this league, 87 of which came for the New Orleans Voodoo. He holds the Voodoo team career records for wins and strikeouts. His best season was an 18-6 campaign with a 3.55 ERA for the Voodoo. After winning just 3 games for Charlotte in Season 8 and not finding a team for Season 9, he made an ill-fated attempt at a comeback last season, getting hammered in A ball for Anaheim. After that experience, he decided it was best to hang it up. "Last season wasn't any fun", he said at his press conference held in New Orleans. " I could keep going at it, but I don't have much left. I'd rather be remembered for the way I pitched here for the Voodoo".

The same season that Matos went 18-6, Dude Huskey won a Fireman of the Year Award for division rival Memphis (now Austin). He saved a then-record 52 games (a record which stood for 7 seasons until Coco Hines broke the record in Season 9) and made the All-Star team. In all, Huskey finished with 137 saves in The Bigs, pitching all 10 seasons in the majors in The Bigs (16 ML seasons in all) for 5 teams. Although he didn't log a save that season, he was an integral part of Salt Lake City's bullpen in their championship season in Season 8.

Changes for Season 11

As The Bigs enters its second decade, we look at the teams who have moved and/or changed ownership groups.

- In the NL, the Helena Straw Hat Pirates will leave the high seas and will move inland to Las Vegas to play as the Las Vegas Snake Eyes under owner/GM cyrisnyte. Reliever Paul Scwartz was confused. "Are we snake eyes as in dangerous, like a snake? Or is that bad because you usually lose when you roll snake eyes? I don't get it..." Starter Will Piper told Schwartz, "Hey, as long as the checks clear the bank, don't worry about it, Paul".

- The AL will see a few changes. In the North, Syracuse was building IHOP (International House of Players), so the new ownership group led by dmpark decided to take the natural next step and leave the country- they'll play in Ottawa as the O-Jays. There's no truth to the rumor that P Tony Rowan wanted to renegotiate his deal due to the exchange rate.

- In the AL South, the Jackson Vipers also decided to leave the US, but they'll play in Mexico. They've gone to Mexico City and will play as the Chupacabras under owner/GM jefepwnzer. In the offseason, star LF Dennis Tamura was asked what he was going to bring to this team this season; he replied, "Bottled water".

And finally, the AL West sees the loss of an original owner in firesign34. His team will stay in Cheyenne and play as the Frozen Ropes for hoopcoach07. Closer Coco Hines said, "We're sorry to see the team was sold. Firesign34 always gave us a chance to win- we really appreciated what he did. But we're looking forward to trying to win a title for the new ownership group- here's hoping he's here for 10 seasons as well".

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Season 10 Draft Recap

A recap of the 1st round of last season's Rule 4 (Amateur Draft). Grades are based simply on the quality of the prospect and the position in which he was taken, as there is no way to determine which prospects were/weren't available for drafting.

Pick: Yorvit Cannon: SP

Cannon is a hard-throwing right-hander from Kentucky. Scouts say he's got a big upside, but there are some question marks about his age (he'll likely be 25 or 26 by the time he reaches the big leagues), health, and the fact that he's got two decent pitches, neither of which is exceptional.
Grade: B

Pick: Charles Hultzen, SS/3B

If he's really a shortstop this is an easy A. Very good right-handed hitter with all the tools. Defense, hitting, power, arm, and speed are all well above average. I think he can cut it at shortstop, but he'd be a fine hitting 3B if it came to that. Grade: A+

Pick: Anthony Smith, 3B

Not as good a pure hitter as Hultzen, but he's a middle of the order guy who'll play a very good 3B. Lots of power and pretty good speed. Grade: A

Pick: Lawrence Jenkins, P

Jenkins never signed, so New York will have to wait for the payoff of this pick: they'll get the #5 pick in the Season 11 draft as compensation. Grade: INC

Pick: Philip Leon, SS

At least Norfolk hopes he's a shortstop. He struggled at the position in rookie ball last season, but he showed he can hit. He doesn't have exceptional power or contact, but he's solid in those categories and can run well. Grade: B+

Pick: Tripp Gosling, RP

Should be a solid closer- he was lights out in rookie ball last season. Doesn't have a dominating pitch and had trouble pitching in tournaments back in high school when they had to play on back to back days. Grade: B

Pick: Stan Tucker, SP

Another hard throwing righty, the big question on him is his health. If he holds up, he's a very tough pitcher, especially on righties. Grade: A-

Pick: Adam Watkins, SS

He's a true SS- scouts have called his arm "ridiculous". Interesting that he's a right handed hitter who struggles against lefties but can handle right handed pitching. He should hit more than well enough and will make plays in the field. Grade: A

9. HELENA STRAW HAT PIRATES (now Las Vegas Snake Eyes)
Pick: Rick Clontz, SP

Clontz fits in as a middle of the rotation type- he won't be an ace. He's got good pitches but some durability issues- scouts are concerned he can't pitch every 5 days. Grade: B-

Pick: Denny Leonard, SP

He's a soft-tossing lefty who has a knack for getting ground balls with his fastball and sinker. Milwaukee fans imagine him and Barry Rader anchoring the rotation for years to come. Grade: A-

Pick: 3B Bo Barrett

Barrett is a rare combination of speed and power. He ripped up rookie ball last season- if he makes it to the big leagues while Barry McEnroe is still on the team, Boise should start charging admission to batting practice. Grade: A+

Pick: Jon Conroy, RP

If he stays healthy, he's a top-flight closer one day. His fastball has been clocked in the mid-90's with movement and he's got a slider to go with it. Grade: A-

Pick: Jeromy West, RP

He may or may not be a traditional closer, but he's going to provide quality innings out of Buffalo's bullpen somehow. Grade: B+

Pick: Josh Davies, 2B

Decent speed and glove, good hitter with above average power. Nice solid pick. Grade: B+

Pick: Russell Karsay, 3B

Jack of all trades- good at everything, exceptional at nothing except maybe his arm. Solid prospect. Grade: B

Pick: Justin Porcello, SP

A guy who wants to finish games and will throw lots of innings with a fair amount of effectiveness. Don't see him challenging for Cy Young Awards, but every team needs a guy like this- big time innings eater. Grade: B

Pick: Anibel Ortiz, SS

Good offensive shortstop with some pop. Much better hitter than most of the shortstops in the league. Grade: A

Pick: Clint Magee, CF

Could play center in Yellowstone Park. Good contact hitter with good speed and can handle the bat. Grade: A-

Pick: Mark Black, SS

If this draft is any indication, we could see a golden age of shortstops coming in a few seasons. Black's another capable SS who can hit. He won't hit many home runs, but he'll hit for a solid average and has very good speed. Grade: A-

Pick: Nicholas Reese, C

If he's not the best pure hitter in this draft, he's in the top 3 or 4. He's listed as a catcher, but his defense would seem to indicate he's more of a DH type. Problem is, Washington is in the NL, so they've got to figure out what to do with him. Grade: INC

Pick: Daryle Blair, 2B

Another guy who isn't outstanding in any area (except maybe his range), but is rock solid at everything he does on the field. Grade: B+

22. JACKSON VIPERS (now Mexico City Chupacabras)
Pick: Scott Gleason, SP

Scouts are divided on this pick. Some think he's got the stuff to be a good starter; others feel he can't find the strike zone often enough. He's a hard thrower and is probably one of the faster pitchers on any team, but that doesn't help him pitch. Grade: C-

Pick: Vern Lawton, P

Didn't sign.

24. CHEYENNE WAR CATS (now Cheyenne Frozen Ropes)
Pick: Shane Brown, RP

The positives are he's got a live arm, and a hard heavy sinker. The War Cats will have to monitor his innings, though. Grade: C+

Pick: Kirk Watson, SP

Should be better than most of the pitchers picked ahead of him. Between his splitter and his slider, lefties will have a real tough time against him. St. Louis may have to watch how they use him, as he may not be a 200+ innings type guy. Grade: A

Pick: Tex Van Pelt, SP

Almost wins the best name of the 1st round award. Solid #2 or #3 type starter with a good fastball. Grade: B

Pick: Zephyr Atkins, RF

Winner of the best name of the 1st round award. An interesting pick, as he's not a prototypical rightfielder (he'll be lucky to hit 30 homers in his life even if he has a 10-15 year career), but he was born to leadoff- he's got blazing speed, he's a good hitter, and has an excellent batting eye and can run the bases quite well. Grade: B

Pick: Luis Tejera, SP

A lot like Van Pelt, but maybe a little better. Really tough on lefties and will provide innings. Grade: A-

Pick: J.R. Phillips, 3B

As if Salt Lake City needed another hitter, they get an infielder with above average power and speed. If he can put bat on ball, he'll be a very good player. Grade: A-

Pick: Hunter Moses, RP

He's a solid reliever, but not a closer. His stuff just isn't good enough. He should have a nice career and make enough money to feed his kids and their kids. Grade: B-

Pick: Russell Evans, RP

He's got a good arm and he just needs to stay healthy. He's a guy who can easily throw more than one inning, as he proved at Meridian CC last season. Grade: A-

Pick: Yamid Ramirez, SP

Another solid innings-eater type, although lefties may be able to get to him more often than Monterrey fans may like. Grade: B-

Pick: Les Justice, CF

He's a speedy, good defensive CF who should be a solid hitter. A good pick at the end of the round, Louisville did it twice here. Grade: A-

Pick: Clyde Bryant, SS

Austin finds a good future shortstop at #34. Bryant is very good with the glove but can handle the bat as well. If he had gone around pick #10-#15 it would have been perfectly justified. Grade: A+

Friday, August 6, 2010

Season 10 in Tweets

You know the drill. 1 season, 32 teams, 140 characters or less.


Atlanta: 100 wins ain't what it used to be.

Austin: I guess all that dynasty talk can stop for now.

Fargo: Older players with big contracts + 70 wins = rebuilding time?

Helena: The offense was downright offensive. Pitching wasn't any better.

Huntington: More impressive: 2nd title (in 2 different cities, no less), or 10 straight 90-win seasons?

Kansas City: And now Scout fans get it. 90 wins and first playoff appearance since Season 1.

Louisville: We thought it was because we were good. Now we know AL East titles are our birthright.

Minnesota: Hoping James Palmer is a bright star. The rest of the picture looks dark for now.

New Orleans: Middle of the pack in hitting and pitching equals: yep, 81-81.

Norfolk: Tough division to compete in for the next few seasons. In the meantime, watch Acosta and Hodges.

Philadelphia: Amazing. When some of our guys finally hit, the pitching falters.

Salem: Uchida hits 50! Now if only someone would get on ahead of him... Fine seasons from Stewart and Garrido on a mediocre team.

Salt Lake City: Amazing offense, questionable pitching, NL West title... sounding familiar?

San Juan: Good news- best record in 4 seasons. Bad news- that's still only 73 wins.

Trenton: A team at the crossroads.

Vancouver: Not a golden season- 21 games worse than last season.

Washington: Knocking off Atlanta in the regular season was great. The playoffs, not so much.


Anaheim: Once those clowns from TBDN got off our bandwagon, we have the best season in history. AL Champs.

Boise: Amazing what even the semblance of a pitching staff can do.

Boston: Even in a down year for Louisville, we fall just short.

Buffalo: The only person happier than the fans watching MVP Leonard is his agent- he's arb. eligible.

Charlotte: No truth to the rumor that the first 5 fans to buy season tickets got a spot in the rotation.

Cheyenne: Not much bang for the buck.

Cincinnati: IHOP (International House of Players) could have used a breakfast special and some more wins.

Jackson: Not as good as Monterrey, but still highly dangerous.

Milwaukee: A little better. Not much, but a little better.

Monterrey: Amazing how one guy can reenergize a whole team- as long as it's a guy like Simpson.

Montgomery: 3rd place in the best division in baseball is no laughing matter- it's 94 wins.

New York: Exactly 2 more runs given up than scored? We couldn't get a 2-run homer somewhere?

St. Louis: AL North winners by default.

Scranton: Big story isn't Mercado's big season- it's Dolan's injury.

Seattle: 78-84. Blip on the radar or end of an era?

Playoff Wrap-Up

A decade of The Bigs has come to a close and we finished with the Riverdogs taking down their second title. A quick recap of the playoffs:


1st Round

#4 Salt Lake City over #5 Atlanta 3-1
#3 Kansas City over #6 Austin 3-1

2nd Round

#4 Salt Lake City over #1 Wahington 3-0
#2 Huntington over #3 Kansas City 3-0


#2 Huntington over #4 Salt Lake City 4-3


1st Round

#5 Jackson over #4 Louisville 3-0
#3 St. Louis over #6 Montgomery 3-1

2nd Round

#1 Monterrey over #5 Jackson 3-1
#2 Anaheim over #3 St. Louis 3-2


#2 Anaheim over #1 Monterrey 4-2

WORLD SERIES: Huntington over Anaheim 4 games to 2