Sunday, February 27, 2011

NL Season Openers

Norfolk Destroyers @ Atlanta Bandits
Atlanta went up 1-0 in the first inning, and the score stayed that way until the top of the seventh. Perez was great for Atlanta through 6.1 innings until Tony Gutierrez smacks a two run shot over the center field wall to give Norfolk a 2-1 lead. Wilson went six innings for Norfolk allowing just the one run. Aquino took over shutting down Atlanta for the next two, with Craig Sherman closing it out for a 2-1 Norfolk win.

Boise Bulldogs @ Salem Sacrifices
A couple solo shots in the second by Sanchez and Taylor help Salem take the early lead. That was enough for Sammy Garrido, as he only allowed three hits and one run in eight innings for Salem. Sanchez cracked another solo shot in the seventh and picked up a pop-out RBI in the eighth for insurance, but Vega didn't need the extra help as he closes out the game and Salem wins 4-1.

Chicago Cows @ Washington D.C. Blue Coats
Alex Clayton smacks a two run shot in the first inning giving Washington a 2-0 lead. Jeremi Gant closed the door on Washington for the next seven innings, but the damage was already done. Carter Leonard went eight innings for Washington giving up only two hits and no runs, and Alex Javier closed it out for a 2-0 Washington win.

Minnesota North Stars @ Fargo Dirtbags
Yorrick Cannon gives up a couple in the second to Fargo as he goes six innings for Minnesota. Minnesota's Molina gave up another two in the eighth, but with their offense absent, it made little difference by that point. Cy Young king Henriquez went six innings for Fargo giving up no runs with Cone, Price and Davis preserving the shutout in relief. Fargo takes it 4-0. And on an a side note, there are rumours that the MLB is considering changing the name of the Cy Young award to the Javier Henriquez award.

Louisville Woodies @ Huntington Riverdogs
Fred Carter loads the bases to open the forth inning setting up a Clayton Olson grand slam giving Louisville a 4-0 lead. They would add another in the top of the eighth to take a commanding 5-1 lead. But Huntington wasn't ready to throw in the towel. Black crushed a two run shot in the bottom of the eighth to pull Huntington within two. Louisville turned to all-star closer Matt Skinner in the bottom of the ninth. Skinner gave up a HR off the first hitter, Jiminez, making it a one run ballgame. Fortunately Skinner relied on his experience to regain his calm and finish the job, as Louisville takes it 5-4.

San Juan Dead Bunnies @ New Orleans Voodoo
Vin Espinosa gave up two HRs and five runs total in just five innings for San Juan. The bullpen only gave up one run in the final four innings, but it wasn't enough. New Orlean's Warren Pagnozzi gave up a couple of two run shots in 6.2 innings and Rodriguez gave up another one in the eighth to let San Juan pull to within one, but Miguel Estalella came in and closed it out to preserve the 6-5 New Orleans win.

San Francisco Sabercats @ Salt Lake City Shakers
San Francisco gets out to an early lead with a run in the second and third. It takes Salt Lake until the seventh with a two run shot by Fuentes to catch up. Still tied going into the top of the ninth, Armando Lopez entered the game to pitch for Salt Lake. He proceeded to load up the bases. With San Francisco's pitcher up next, they called out a pinch hitter, Orlando Diaz. Diaz hit a double to center field, allowing all three men on base to score. Leon Dunn closed it out in the bottom of the ninth for San Francisco as they won 5-2.

Syracuse Sandmen @ Vancouver Grizzlies
In a pitcher's duel, Alberto Vidal of Syracuse goes seven innings allowing only one run. Unfortunately for Syracuse and Vidal, Vancouver's Ossie Acker shut the door completely for eight straight innings. Heath Rollins came in to close it out and secure the 1-0 Vancouver victory.

AL Season Openers

Anaheim Chiles @ Seattle Killer Whales
Anaheim pulled out to an early lead going up 4-0 in the third inning. That was all they needed as Mateo Batista only allowed three hits and one run over seven innings. Greg Niemen shut Seattle down for two innings in relief as Anaheim takes it 5-1.

Boston Bambinos @ Cincinnati Reds
Kevin Pong went seven innings giving up two runs for Boston, as Anaheim's starter Adam Byrne is pulled early after only four innings and one run against. Carrasco gives up a run in the sixth to allow Boston to tie it up at two. The eighth inning made all the difference, however. Tom Sanders came into the game for Cincinnati with two outs already down and nobody on base. Hernandez drives a ball to Ichiro Kojima that should have ended the inning, but Kojima mishandles it and Hernandez reaches on the error. It must have rattled Sanders a little, as he proceeded to walk the next two batters, loading the bases. Bob Koplov stepped up to the plate and crushed a grand slam, essentially ending the game. Cincinnati added a run in the bottom of the eighth, but still lost 6-3.

Buffalo Blue Cheese @ St. Louis City River Rage
This one wasn't even close. Buffalo goes through seven pitchers giving up sixteen hits and nine runs as St. Louis wins by committee with four players picking up a couple RBIs each. Even on the mound for St. Louis Yogi Anderson and Jose Mesa split the work pitching four and five innings respectively for the shutout giving up only two hits each.

Monterrey Sultans of Swat @ Charleston Chew
Monterrey's big guns were just too much for for Ron Lincoln as he gave up four HRs and six runs total in 6.2 innings for Charleston. That was more than enough for Luther Brush to get the win as he gave up only two runs in eight innings, both solo shots. Daniel Williams closed it out as Monterrey won 7-2.

Cheyenne Frozen Ropes @ Helena Shadow Wolves
Einar Crespo gave up two solo shots and three runs total in six innings for Helena. That was all Cheyenne needed as Bob Delaney only allowed four hits and no runs in six innings. Bennett carried it through the next two and star closer Coco Hines finished the job as usual closing it out for a 3-0 Cheyenne win.

Mexico City Chupacabras @ Montgomery Alibamu
In another tight game, Fausto Almanza went eight innings for Mexico giving up five runs. Stone Curtis for Montgomery is pulled after only three innings and two runs against. Herman gave up one in two innings of relief. Then Cora stepped in for the sixth and gave up a three run homer that would end up being the difference maker. Cole and Logan shut down Mexico for the last three innings, but Montgomery just couldn't get the tying run across home plate. Wright closed it out for Mexico's 6-5 win.

Ottawa O-Jays @ Milwalkee Manic Maulers
Another blowout. Andres DeLeon was stellar for Ottawa, going eight innings allowing on four hits and no runs while striking out nine. Jimmy Cole wasn't so stellar for Milwalkee giving up four HRs and six runs total (five earned) in 6.2 innings as Ottawa rolls to a 7-0 win.

Scranton Janitors @ New York Knickerbockers
Alex Samuel started for Scranton, giving up a two run shot and a solo HR for three runs against in five innings. New York had five pitchers sharing short inning duty combining to allow only two hits and no runs. Hunt's two run shot in the first was enough for the win, but they added three more as New York cruised to a 5-0 win.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Cincy outbids Fargo for Whang

Reds shell out near-record bid for Japanese star

The Cincinnati Reds have signed Japanese star Tito Whang to a three-year major league contract. The contract includes the second-highest signing bonus for an international player in the history of The Bigs. Whang will receive $31 million in guaranteed money, second only to the $32 million the Chicago (then Trenton) franchise paid Dominican pitcher Miguel Cayones last season. The 21-year-old Whang will begin his professional career with Cincinnati's Low-A affiliate.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Scranton wins bid for Cortazar

The Scranton Janitors have won the bidding for the services of Dominican reliever Yusmeiro Cortazar. The 18-year-old Cortazar signed a minor league deal with the Janitors with a signing bonus of $13.7 million. Cortazar, from San Isidro, Dominican Republic, projects to have great control and with an excellent four-seam fastball and very good curveball. He will begin his professional career with Scranton's Low-A affiliate.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hunt, Puffer each sign $60+ million deals

World Champion O-jays sign former MVP Martinez

The New York Knickerbockers made headlines this week when the team inked outfielder Jack Hunt to a 4-year $60 million deal. Hunt, a three-time All-Star, spent last season with Ottawa where he helped the franchise win its first World Series championship. The 30-year-old batted .261 last season with 27 home runs and 99 RBI.

Chicago found a new face of the franchise in 1B Jacque Puffer when the team was able to sign Puffer to a 5-year $66 million deal. The 32-year-old 4-time All-Star had spent his entire career with Seattle before being traded to Syracuse. Puffer bated .293 with 33 homeruns, 111 RBI and a .916 OPS in his only season with the Sandmen.

To replace Hunt, the O-jays agreed to terms on a 3-year deal with former MVP outfielder Luis Martinez worth approximately $19.1 million. The deal includes a full no-trade clause with the third year being a team option. The 34-year-old 5-time All-Star batted .297 with 21 home runs and 64 RBI with a .919 OPS last season for the Washington D.C. Blue Coats.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hernandez gives St. Louis hometown discount

Re-signs with River City RAGE for three years

Arguably the best offensive player on the free agent market decided that he wanted to continue playing in the only major league uniform he's ever known. St. Louis outfielder Nick Hernandez re-signed with the River City RAGE for three years, $19.5 million. The Bigs' all-time leader in career on base percentage batted .342 for St. Louis last season with a .454 OBP and .916 OPS.

Gates signs 5-year deal with Seattle

Robinson cashes in with Blue Cheese

The top two starters on the free agent market have found homes. 30-year-old Lonny Gates has signed a fice-year deal with the Seattle Killer Whales worth approximately $65.3 million. Gates spent last season with Boston where he posted a 15-2 record with a 2.88 ERA in 23 starts. The four-time All-Star had his only season with the Bambinos cut short when he suffered an elbow injury that required surgery.

The other, and much older, ace on the market was also signed to a big contract. 37-year-old Bernard Robinson, who had spent his entire career with the Syracuse organization, signed a three-year worth approximately $35 million. Robinson, considered an ace for some time but plagued by a lack of team success over the years, finished last season with a 20-7 record with a 2.70 ERA while earning his second career All-Star appearance.

Friday, February 11, 2011

One on one with Ottawa GM dmpark

We recently caught up with the GM of the World Series champion Ottawa O-jays, dmpark, to chat about his first World Series title, his plans for the upcoming season and the Philadelphia Phillies. Here's what dmpark had to say:

You managed to take what was a mediocre franchise under the previous owner and turn it into a World Series champion in just two seasons, an impressive feat. What were the keys to the turnaround?
I can't take a whole lot of credit for the turnaround. I took over a team that was poised to have some great years, regardless of who managed it.

That said, during my first year, I added 4 free agents that were solid role players and traded for a very good set-up reliever and an all star caliber left fielder. Those moves helped give me a very effective top to bottom lineup and a well rounded pitching staff.

What sort of changes, if any, can we expect with the O-jays this season?
I'm not sure yet. I've got a few spots to fill through free agency, and I'm waiting to see how it plays out. I may go after several mid-range type players or try to get one or two high priced guys.

They split last season between the minors and the major league team so what are the franchise’s plans for former first round picks Curtis Sierra and Harvey Simmons?
Both will be on the ML squad by September again. Whether they are there before then is still to be determined.

You’re a big Hoops Dynasty guy and have had great success with your Pitt team especially. What kind of advice can you give a guy like me, who’s still learning that game?
I'd describe my success in HD as more "moderate" than "great" but I do really like HD. In my opinion 90% of the game is recruiting. At the DI level, you need to avoid battles where you can, especially ones you're not likely to win. This requires you to give up sometimes on guys you really want, even ones you put decent money into.

So you’re a Phillies fan. That’s got to be pretty nice these days. What are you expecting from the team this season? 100+ wins and at least a World Series appearance, if not, championship?
Yeah, they were pretty lousy for about 10 or 12 years there, so its fun to see them good again. With the pitching staff they have, anything short of a World Series appearance has to be considered a disappointment.

What was your reaction to the Cliff Lee signing when it was announced? It seemed to come out of nowhere and then all of a sudden the Phillies have a starting rotation that could go down as one of the best ever.
I was in a Las Vegas sports book at the time it was announced. I read it about it on one of those tickers that scrolled game scores, and I couldn't believe it. It was especially nice because I didn't think they needed to trade him in the first place. Just looking at that rotation-- Halladay, Oswalt, Lee and Hammels-- wow.

If we did a fantasy draft for The Bigs for this upcoming season, who would be your number one overall pick and why?
It seems like great pitchers are tougher to find than great hitters, so I'd probably go with a really good young pitcher, like Ronn Lincoln (AL Cy Young winner in his second full year)

If you could change one thing about HBD, what would it be and why?
I'd like to see the season go by a little faster- maybe two months instead of three. I like putting teams together much more than the day to day managing of the rosters, so speeding up the regular season would be a big plus for me.

New Trenton owner relocates to Chicago

Austin, Vancouver, Kansas City also move

Long-time GM of the Trenton Traffic, gumbercules, called it a career at the end of last season, his twelfth at the helm of the franchise. His departure saw new team owner mjpals move the franchise from the only home it has ever known to Chicago to become the Chicago Cows.

Gumbercules wasn't the only long-time owner to retire after season 12 (though he was the only original owner to leave). Both Austin GM blanch13 and Vancouver GM wild44 left The Bigs as well after season 12. The Austin franchise has been taken over by GM optistrat and moved to Louisville while ballgame43 has taken the reigns as GM of the former Vancouver franchise and moved the team to Boise.

Vancouver fans won't be left without a team, however, as original Bigs GM shobob has moved his Kansas City Scouts to Vancouver and renamed them the Grizzlies.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Ottawa powers way to first WS title

DeLeon helps O-jays dominate playoff opponents

The Ottawa franchise had only made the playoffs twice before this season. They had just one division championship throughout franchise history. But none of that mattered during the season 12 playoffs as the O-jays mowed down their American League opponents on their way to the franchise's first World Series championship.

Ottawa lost just once during the American League playoffs, a run that included a sweep of the top-seeded Monterrey Sultans of Swat in the Division Championship Series. The O-jays entered the World Series with a 10-1 playoff record, set to face a Washington D.C. team that saw each of their playoff series go the distance. Led by ace Andres DeLeon, who posted a 4-1 record and 1.83 ERA for the playoffs, the O-jays were able to handle the Blue Coats in six games and take home the World Series trophy.

Henriquez captures seventh career Cy Young

Simpson awarded second consecutive MVP

The National League Cy Young Award voters may be coming to a point where they'd prefer to get it over with and award Javier Henriquez with the award before the season even begins. Fargo's ace was named the NL Cy Young Award winner for the second consecutive season and the seventh time in his career after posting a 16-9 record with a 1.95 ERA and 223 strikeouts in 226.1 innings pitched.

There was speculation that award voters would be turned off by Henriquez's mere 16 wins, a product of his playing for a bad Fargo team whose offense ranked 30th in runs scored last season. But staggering numbers like Henriquez's measley .278 slugging percentage allowed helped make up for the lack of wins.

In the American League, Charleston's third-year starter Ronn Lincoln took home the Cy Young Award for a season that saw him rack up a 17-5 record with a 2.83 ERA and 230 strikeouts in 219.2 innings pitched. Lincoln helped lead the Chew to a total of 82 wins, the most for the franchise since season 5.

The American League MVP race, much like the NL Cy Young race, also saw a repeat winner as Monterrey's Sean Simpson took home his second straight and third career MVP award. Simpson batted .347 for the season while posting career highs in doubles (50), homeruns (56), RBI (159) and slugging percentage (.719). For the eight-time All-Star, season 12 may go down as the best one in a Hall of Fame career.

Voters for the National League MVP weren't as certain as to who was most deserving of the award, so they awarded it to both Phil Creek and Matty Pena. Washington's Pena, who wasn't even selected to the season 12 NL All-Star team, used a dominant second half to get the attention of voters. The 25-year-old 1B/OF batted .313 for the season with 42 homeruns, 93 RBI and a .433 OBP.

Salt Lake City first baseman Creek, who was selected to the All-Star team, hit .364 with 29 homeruns, 129 RBI with a .446 OBP. Both men helped lead their respective teams to the top two seeds in the National League playoffs while Pena's Blue Coats made it all the way to the World Series.