Saturday, December 3, 2011

Dunwoody calls it a career

10-time All-Star starter retires

Former Cy Young Award winner and 10-time All-Star starting pitcher Dave Dunwoody has announced his retirement from The Bigs. Dunwoody spent six and a half seasons with the Salem Sacrifices before being traded to Trenton. Dunwoody helped lead the Sacrifices to victory in the season 1 World Series while also splitting the NL Cy Young Award that season with teammate Dwight Salmon.

Dunwoody ranks second all-time in career wins with 226 and second in career strikeouts with 3106. He and Henriquez are the only two pitchers to ever reach the 3000 strikeout plateau. Dunwoody also holds the single season record of 274 strikeouts, set in season 3. In addition to Salem and Trenton, Dunwoody also played for Atlanta, Los Angeles and Monterrey.

Henriquez becomes first to reach 250 wins

Future HOF'er reaches milestone on Opening Day

The Bigs' all-time leader in wins has extended his career record wins number. Javier Henriquez went 5 innings for career win number 250 in a 8-2 Fargo victory over Vancouver on Openings Day. Henriquez gave up two runs and struck out four in his first outing of the season. 36-years-old now, Henriquez has an outside chance to reach 300 wins by the end of his career but an already low durability rating could cost him the chance as he ages and his ratings begin to decline. The 8-time Cy Young Award winner's career record now stands at 250-99.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Season 16 free agency tracker

Big name free agents sign for big money in busy market

The free agency period has drawn to a close and plenty of big name free agents found new homes and new loads of cash to fill those homes. Let's take a look at some of the big names to land large contracts this season:

Dan Benard, P, Austin Slackers: 5 years, $94 million
The largest of the big contracts given out this off season, Austin mortgaged the house to keep their ace. Benard, a four-time All-Star and former Rookie of the Year managed just an 8-10 record last season while sporting a 4.26 ERA. Not exactly worth $94 million but the Slackers are banking on Benard regaining his old form and stabilizing their rotation. The final year of Benard's contract is a mutual option. 

Sammy Garrido, P, Chicago Cows: 5 years, $91 million
Garrido left Salem for the bright lights of Chicago (and the money) but he may have also left for a better team and a shot at the playoffs. Garrido posted a 10-12 record with a 3.20 ERA for a Salem team that lost 100 games last season. Now he joins a rotation with Miguel Cayones and newly acquired Yorrick Cannon to form one of the better rotations in the NL. Garrido's deal includes a no-trade clause and a mutual option for season 20.

Alex Silva, SS, Salem Sacrifices: 5 years, $65 millionWith the departure of Garrido, Salem was left with some cash to spend and they wound up netting one of the best shortstops in the league in Silva. Silva batted .265 with a .374 OBP with the Pawtucket franchise last season. He'll provide stability at the top of the Salem order as they look to improve from their poor season 15. 

Watty Miller, RF, Fargo Dirtbags: 5 years, $60.5 million
No team spent more money this off season than the Fargo Dirtbags and Watty Miller was the recipient of a large portion of that. Miller takes over the right field position in Fargo from the departed Philip McCartin who signed with Ottawa this off season. With Buffalo last season, Miller batted .318 with a .390 OBP and .548 SLG and is expected to hit number two for the Dirtbags. The final year of his deal includes a mutual option.

AJ Leonard, LF, Oakland East Bay Rays: 5 years, $36 million
Easily the best bargain found in this free agent market, the two-time AL MVP Leonard leaves the comforts of Buffalo and heads to the NL West to join Oakland. Leonard batted just .266 with 35 homeruns and a .835 OPS in what was a down year for him but the East Bay Rays are hoping he bounces back in the middle of their lineup.

Nick Hernandez, LF, Fargo Dirtbags: 3 years, $33.3 million
After 12 seasons with the Pawtucket franchise, Hernandez leaves for Fargo and one final big contract as his Hall of Fame career winds down. Hernandez batted .282 with a .419 OBP and 49 steals last season and will replace Luis Martinez (who moves to a bench/utility role) as Fargo's everyday left fielder. He joins Miller, the newly acquired Brian Sweeney and Fargo residents Raul Vallarta, Rodrigo Melendez and Cesar Gonzalez to form the top offense in the NL.The final year of Hernandez's deal also includes a mutual option.

Mickey Stanifer, CP, Fargo Dirtbags: 5 years, $31.2 million
The top reliever on the market, Stanifer joined his Pawtucket teammate Hernandez in leaving the Patriots for the Dirtbags. Stanifer has served as the setup man for future Hall of Famer Carlos Carrasco for the past seven seasons but will now get an opportunity to close for Fargo, replacing the departed Christian Price in that role. Stanifer posted a 2.10 ERA in 72 appearances out of the bullpen last season and the final year of his deal also includes a mutual option.

Fred Carter, SP, Scranton Janitors: 3 years, $30 million
As Carter's storied career winds down he has found one more pay day by heading to the American League and signing with the Janitors. Carter went 15-10 last season with a 3.20 ERA for Huntington and will now be expected to anchor the Scranton rotation. While $30 million may seem like a lot for a 37-year-old starter, the final year of the deal includes a mutual option.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Blue Coats make it back to back

DC captures second consecutive World Series in five games

The Washington DC Blue Coats became just the second franchise in the history of The Bigs to win back to back World Series championships by defeating the St. Louis River City RAGE four games to one. The Blue Coats' offense was paced throughout the postseason by clutch performances from center fielder Kyle Ramirez who batted .370 with a .442 OBP and .478 SLG after a regular season which saw him post a career best .303/.364/.392 batting line. Ace Carter Leonard carried the load on the mound, going 4-0 in five postseason starts with a 2.13 ERA.

The only other franchise to win consecutive titles is the Atlanta Bandits who accomplished the feat in seasons 6 and 7.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Henriquez gets 8th, Lincoln 3rd Cy Young

Simpson wins fourth MVP as familiar names take awards

Some familiar faces picked up some more hardware for this past season in The Bigs as Charleston's Ronn Lincoln won his second straight and third American League Cy Young Award of his career while Fargo's Javier Henriquez locked up NL Cy Young Award number eight. Lincoln finished season 15 with an 18-5 record while posting a 2.73 ERA and 1.06 WHIP while striking out 224 batters in 33 starts. Henriquez meanwhile registered a 19-4 record with a 2.32 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 212 strikeouts in 217 innings pitched.

Pitchers weren't the only repeat winners of major awards as Monterrey's Sean Simpson was awarded with his fourth career MVP award. Simpson batted .339 with 45 homeruns, 113 RBI and a 1.062 OPS while stealing 30 bases. In the National League it was Boise's Kevin Lawson taking home his first NL MVP Award. Lawson hit .292 with 55 homeruns, 135 RBI and posted a 1.062 OPS.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Season 15 Awards

With season 15 now complete, it's time to hand out a few awards.

Raul Vallarta, Fargo

Vallarta, a two-time POTY runner-up, has finally brought home the hardware with the best season of his impressive career. He led all of baseball with an awesome .435 OBP, and didn't skimp on the power either - his .559 SLG was in the NL's top 10. That, along with his 38 steals and a big league-leading 133 runs scored, was the heart of the Dirtbags' potent offense; meanwhile, his great defense at second helped make the Dirtbags one of baseball's best-fielding teams.

Runner-Up: Sean Simpson, Monterrey

Javier Henriquez, Fargo

Last season, Henriquez's age finally seemed to catch up with him, as he finished with an ERA of over 3.00 for the first time in his career. Apparently, that was just a minor hiccup, as he was back in vintage form this year: his 2.32 ERA and 1.00 WHIP both led baseball, and he threw his first career no-hitter (against Salem) on his way to his eighth career Cy Young award.

Runner-Up: Orlando Palmeiro, Helena

sweetsalve, Washington

For the second consecutive season, the Blue Coats are World Series champions. That's not just difficult, it's nearly unprecedented: only one other owner in the league (Atlanta's cantarski) has achieved this impressive feat. And Washington didn't just dominate the postseason - they had baseball's best record in the regular season, too. Although they've been one of the league's most powerful teams for quite some time now, what sweetsalve has achieved in the past two seasons is simply remarkable.

Runner-Up: sylemark, San Juan

As we remember the previous few months, it's important not only to remember the good, but to be able to laugh at ourselves for some of the bad. In that spirit, here are the winners of the "prestigious" Iron Glove and Tin Slugger awards for Season 15.

Presented to the worst fielder at each position

P Mark Rogers, Minnesota
C Livan Guillen, New Orleans
1B Luis Javier, Mexico City
2B Alex Saenz, Boston
3B O.T. Wagner, Oakland
SS James Palmer, Minnesota
LF Fernando Beltran, Salt Lake City
CF Enrique Alarcon, New Orleans
RF Steve Sweeney, New York

Presented to the worst hitter at each position

C Cesar Trevino, Milwaukee
1B Buddy Lowe, Milwaukee
2B Marc Phillips, Huntington
3B Raymond Newham, Vancouver
SS Brad Easterly, New York
LF Ivan Gil, New York
CF Zachrey Buckley, New York
RF Ramon Chang, Syracuse
DH Oswaldo Guerrero, Seattle

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Season 15 Draft Review

Now that all the players who are going to sign have put their name on the dotted line, it's time to take a look at this season's draft, with selected commentary on good, bad, and otherwise particularly noteworthy selections.

1. New Orleans Voodoo

Otis Evans, RHP - Age 18 - $6.72M - Rating: - Grade: A+

Comment: Evans is the clearest choice for the #1 overall pick in quite some time, and may be the best pitcher to enter the league – through the draft or otherwise – in several seasons. He’s well worth his huge signing bonus.

2. New York Knickerbockers

Endy Regan, CF/2B - Age 18 - $6.10M - Rating: - Grade: B-

3. Cheyenne Crackers

Delino Rojas, CF – Age 20 - $3.82M – Rating: - Grade: B

Comment: Regan and Rojas both project to be speedy players with strong defense, but neither is an especially skilled hitter. While they’re both valuable, neither is quite worthy of a top-5 pick.

4. Oakland East Bay Rays

Burke Lincoln, RHP – Age 22 - $3.72M – Rating: - Grade: A-

Comment: In a weak year for pitchers, Oakland gets the marquee prospect their farm system badly needs with the draft’s second-best starter. Best of all, as a college senior, Lincoln is probably closer to the majors than any other player in this draft class.

5. Mexico City Chupacabras

Mateo Mercedes, 2B – Age 19 - $3.63M – Rating: - Grade: A+

Comment: Mercedes is almost certainly the draft’s most talented position player, a top-quality hitter with good speed and the durability to play 162 games a season. It’s shocking that he fell this far.

6. Norfolk Destroyers

Kennie Webster, SS – Age 18 - $3.54M – Rating: - Grade: A

7. Boise Drifters

Leo Harris, LHP – Age 19 - $3.44M – Rating: - Grade: A-

8. Milwaukee Manic Maulers

Lance Doyle, 2B – Age 21 - $3.35M – Rating: - Grade: B+

Comment: Doyle is a difficult player to grade. Scouts say he has great potential both as a contact hitter and a power hitter, but his L/R splits are mediocre at best. No matter how his hitting turns out, his defense and speed are still impressive, but he’s not quite 5-star material.

9. Seattle Killer Whales

Alex Tolbert, RHP – Age 18 - $3.25M – Rating: - Grade: C-

Comment: It’s never easy to draft a good starting pitcher, but the Killer Whales could certainly do better than Tolbert, who throws just 3 pitches and has unimpressive L/R splits.

10. Salem Sacrifices

Sammy Bowen, RHP – Age 18 - $3.16M – Rating: - Grade: B

11. Cincinnati Reds

Robinson Reynolds, 1B/DH – Age 19 - $3.07M – Rating: - Grade: A+

Comment: The switch-hitting Reynolds swings the best bat in this draft class by a wide margin, and if he’s able to overcome his injury problems, he will likely develop into a perennial All-Star.

12. Boston Bambinos

Harold Alston, LHP – Age 18 - $2.97M – Rating: - Grade: A-

13. Chicago Cows

B.C. Sipp, SS – Age 18 - $5.11M – Rating: - Grade: A

Comment: For the third straight season, the Cows selected the draft’s best high-school position player. The pride of Cajun country (the “B.C.” stands for Beauregard Charlemagne) is more than just a good hitter – he’s also lightning-quick on the bases and projects to be a competent fielder, too.

14. Monterrey Sultans of Swat

Derrek Trammell, 2B – Age 18 - $2.79M – Rating: - Grade: C+

15. Seattle Killer Whales

Spike Alston, RHP – Age 20 - $2.69M – Rating: - Grade: B-

16. Vancouver Grizzlies

Jude Aardsma, RF/1B – Age 18 - $2.60M – Rating: - Grade: A

Comment: Aardsma is a terrific hitter with great speed whose talent is more like that of a top-10 pick than the 16th overall selection. What might hold him back, however, is his poor durability, which will likely limit him to 130 or so games per season.

17. Scranton Janitors

Bill Barker, LHP – Age 18 - $2.50M – Rating: - Grade: A-

18. San Juan Dead Bunnies

Willis Barfield, 1B/DH – Age 19 - $2.41M – Rating: - Grade: A

Comment: Barfield is almost certainly the second-best hitter in this draft class. But one area in which he’s second to none is his temper, which has been described as “explosive” and “terrifying” by various sources. Hopefully for San Juan, he’ll calm down enough to become a good big-leaguer.

19. Louisville Woodies

Art Dunn, RF – Age 19 - $2.32M – Rating: - Grade: A-

Comment: Dunn has great potential as a hitter, but his platoon splits are as dramatic as they come. Against lefties, he’s the second coming of Babe Ruth; against righties, he’s the second coming of Mario Mendoza.

20. Huntington Riverdogs

Philip Giambi, 2B – Age 18 - $2.22M – Rating: - Grade: B

21. Syracuse Sandmen

Mariano Herrara, LHP – Age 21 - $2.13M – Rating: - Grade: B

22. Buffalo Blue Cheese

Marino Blanco, LHP – Age 18 – $2.04M– Rating: - Grade: D

Comment: Blanco throws hard, has good control, and keeps the ball on the ground – but he only has one good pitch, and his L/R splits aren’t very exciting either. Buffalo may have been better just letting him go unsigned.

23. Salt Lake City Shakers

Billy Nelson, RHP – Age 18 - $1.94M – Rating: - Grade: C+

24. Minnesota North Stars

Vicente Chavez, 3B – Age 22 - $1.85M – Rating: - Grade: A

25. Atlanta Bandits

Dean Hill, RHP – Age 21 - $1.75M – Rating: - Grade: B

Comment: Hill is the third reliever chosen in a four-pick span, but the only one with true potential to be a closer. Though he doesn’t throw particularly hard, he boasts a devastating cutter and slider, and excellent control of both pitches.

26. Anaheim Chiles

B.J. McNeil, LHP – Age 22 - $1.66M – Rating: - Grade: B-

27. St. Louis River City Rage

Antone Webster, LF/RF – Age 18 - $1.57M – Rating: - Grade: D

Comment: It’s typical to see teams reach for pitchers at the end of round 1, but rarely do position players of Webster’s caliber get taken this high. He projects to be an average ML hitter at best, and isn’t especially fast either – not exactly the sort of future you want for a corner outfielder.

28. Helena Shadow Wolves

Willie Nieto, LHP – Age 18 - $1.47M – Rating: - Grade: B+

29. Fargo Dirtbags

Dick Jefferies, RHP – Age 18 - $2.95M – Rating: - Grade: B-

30. Buffalo Blue Cheese

Johnnie Gibson, SS – Age 18 – Unsigned – Rating: - Grade: C-

Comment: Gibson is a mediocre hitter at best, but he’s also one of the best defensive shortstops in the draft. He seems to have chosen football over baseball, as he said he might – but that may be because Buffalo management simply declined to meet his contract demands.

31. Helena Shadow Wolves

Andrew Clayton, 2B – Age 18 - $1.19M – Rating: - Grade: A

Comment: Clayton may not have the durability to last a full big-league season, but whatever portion he does play, he’ll be a dynamic force. He’s a good fielder who can run and hit for both power and contact – a great find for the 31st pick.

32. Washington Blue Coats

Pete Adams, 1B – Age 22 - $1.10M – Rating: - Grade: A-

33. Salt Lake City Shakers

Hector Machado, SS – Age 18 - $1.00M – Rating: - Grade: B

34. Ottawa O-Jays

Vernon Bruntlett, RHP – Age 19 - $0.96M – Rating: - Grade: B+

Comment: Ottawa closes out the first round with one of its most intriguing selections. Bruntlett has terrific stuff and could be an excellent setup man or even closer someday – but his poor stamina and durability will drastically limit how much he can be used.