Thursday, January 31, 2008
SP Phil Hinch: A
--Hinch is a beast of a pitcher with an excellent pitch selection and deceptive movement, and he is strong to boot. His only concern is average control, but his GB/FB ratio makes up for that.
SS Wilfredo Henriquez: B+
--A slugging SS with excellent contact and power. Above average glove is still a bit suspect for SS and probably better suited to 3B. Brutal batting eye, but all other hitting skills are above average.
SS Raul Palacios: B+
--Contact hitting SS with some pop and a good batting eye. Above average glove, but only average range. Hurt by his durability and inability to play no more than every other game.
2B Rich Rose: A-
--Above average defensive 2B with good hitting skills. Good batting eye, and very good vs. lefties. Has some power, and will be durable enough to play most every day.
SP Kenny Moore: B+
--Hard throwing pitcher with five pitches, two of which are elite. Good control, but is hurt by his tendency to give up too many flyballs for his own good. Average splits.
1B Chipper Harper: A-
--Gifted hitter with above average glove for a 1B. Should be an on base machine with some pop when he makes the bigs. Slight knock for his durability, which may limit him to platoon status.
2B Jose Ordaz: B+
--Talented hitter with a decent batting eye, and average glove. Really shows his skills vs. right handed pitching.
SS Larry Arnold: B
--Gifted defensive SS, could be a regular gold glove at the position. He won't kill you with the bat, but certainly won't be the most productive hitter.
SP Lewis Keller: A-
--Crafty southpaw with impeccable control and deceptive motion. Not a flamethrower, and has the tendency to give up a few flyballs. Five pitches, but the fifth pitch needs some work.
RP Fausto Sierra: B
--Hard throwing lefty has serious velocity and a killer first pitch. Second pitch is only so-so, and he gives up more flyballs than you would like to see in a closer.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Pawtucket is buzzing about tonight’s game against the Charlotte Dogs. Mom’s are running out to the grocery store and Dad’s are loading up on beer. Nearly everybody is making specials plans to watch the game. No, it’s not a playoff game but everybody in Pawtucket agrees that tonight marks the beginning of something special. Former Pawtucket catcher and native Peter Griffin laughed “We have seen so much interest in baseball in our little town since 1981 when the Rochester Red Barons had to come back to Pawtucket months later finish their 32 inning marathon which went on to become the longest game in baseball history.”
Why the excitement? Part of it is due to the acquisition of Dean Hernandez, brought in by trade yesterday. He will anchor the already stellar staff that is already touting aces Albert Franco and Kory Burrell. Manager/GM J Geltz in an interview was asked why he would trade one of his best minor league bats and two good young ML arms for another starter. “Frankly, we’re trying to do something special here in Pawtucket. We’re not looking to make the playoff’s, we’re looking to win it all. We liked our chances a lot better when we can run one of those three guys out there for each playoff game.”
Hernandez has already put up great numbers in his young career, but the expectations for him have only grown since moving to Pawtucket. Steelforge in his good bye speech to Hernandez said “You’re going to go on to do great things. I see Cy Young awards in your future, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to jump start the rebuilding process.” Dean was humbled when he arrived in Pawtucket. “When I look around the room and see the guys who will be playing behind me, I know that all that I need to do is keep the ball in the park and they’ll catch it.”
As if Pawtucket was not already vibrating with excitement from Hernandez, J Geltz decided to also call up hot catching prospect Reggie Serafini to catch Hernandez. J Geltz explained “I envision those two playing catch together for the next decade. Reggie has been tearing up AAA this season and I thought it would make the transition easier for both of them to become accustomed to just one catcher right away.”
Only time will tell if the game lives up to the hype, but no doubt the excitement surrounding the game will be remember for a long time.
Friday, January 25, 2008
Today's manager spotlight focuses on furniss13 of the Boston Heat, one of the original owners in Cobb World and World Series Champion in season 2. Always outspoken and known for giving massive amounts of props to the AL East, furniss let us know what he thinks about the Heat and other teams in the league.
You are perhaps Cobb World's ultimate franchise flip-flopper. Which of your cities do you think was/is the best fit for your ballclub, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, or Boston?
--Well, The 'Nati will always be near and dear to my heart since that is where we won our first title. Jacksonville was an experiment gone bad. We thought that with it being a pitcher's park, and closer to home for my Latino players we would gain some extra mojo. That proved to not be the case.
If you had to move again, where would you go?
--If it were allowed by the WIS gods, I would relocate to Memphis while staying in the AL East. I mean BBQ, baseball, and my favorite bar, Silky O'Sullivan's. Where else do they have goats in the back that drink beer, honestly?
You have made the playoffs all but one season, which is quite an accomplishment, especially considering you play in the "AL Beast." What's your secret?
--Smoke and mirrors, getting more out of players than their ratings would indicate. For a majority of my seasons Rico Estrada has been my only 80+ overall player.
Is there anyone in HBD with a cooler pair of shades than Rico Estrada?
--I have yet to find one, two words, Man Crush.
Since not everybody can be as cool as Estrada, who is the ugliest player on the Heat?
--Ironically, the ugliest also has the coolest name. Hootie Taguchi at Low A looks like he bleaches his eyebrows.
The AL East has been noted for it's collection of tough teams. Which one over the years has been the toughest to beat and your biggest rival?
--Without question it was the Cleveland River Rats, we were like the Red Sox and Yankees every season. I was sad to see him leave, well, not really.
Do you have any rivals other than AL East teams?
--My boys always get a little more pumped to play the Sharks of Anaheim and Pawtucket has proven to be a worthy adversary. It is certainly not Philly, who we just swept in 7 straight games.
If you could pick one hitter and one pitcher from any other team in the league to add to your own, who would they be and why?
--Kory Burrell from Pawtucket. He finally got some league love last season by getting voted to the All-Star team, but I have been a fan for a while. Unfortunately I have not been able to make geltzjg an offer he cannot refuse. I like Josh Price a lot from Philly, and would love to have him hitting behind Rico for the next 10 years.
You have only made seven trades with mrploppie of the Fargo Fug Nuts in the seven years you have been an owner in Cobb World. How did you manage to get away with so few trades?
--I'm not sure, mrploppie just doesn't offer me many trades. To be honest with you, I have never been an organization stacked with young talent which I am sure plays a part.
You have made a fair amount of trades though since season one. Which one do you think was your best, and which one would you like to have back?
--I think the best was back in season 2 when I dealt Bernard Long for Matthew Pryce. Pryce has been like my Tom Glavine, a rock solid crafty lefty. He has 65 wins with my organization since he arrived. The one I would take back would be in season 4 with Jackson. I traded Michael Ellis and Javier Alvarez for Carlos Gomez. Carlos suffered a severe bulging disc injury that robbed him of about 7 overall rating points. He is solid, just not worth trading a 90 rated middle infielder for.
Which prospect of yours are you most looking forward to seeing in the bigs?
--Um, pretty bare, no one really on the locked in radar right now.
If you were forced to bean an opposing batter in retaliation, which pitcher of yours would you want on the mound?
--Rabbit Leyritz, at 6'4, 226 lbs, I like his chances. Who would want to fight a big rabbit anyway?
Name an AL pitcher and hitter other than Philip Brown and Orber Olivo that should be a first ballot Hall of Famer.
--Pitcher is tough to call, I honestly do not see any first ballot hurlers in the AL other than Philip. I am hoping Dean Hernandez gets dealt to the NL. I may be a little biased, but Rico Estrada should be a first ballot guy. The man has nearly 1,100 hits and is 25 years old. I think he will be the first Cobb hitter to 3,000 hits.
Which player of yours has the coolest theme music, and what is it?
--Tough call between Rico's, "Rico Suave" by Gerardo or "The Right Stuff" by the New Kids on the Block for Donte Wright.
If you could choose one player from any baseball movie ever made to play for your team, who would it be?
--Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn, the fans at Fenway would love him
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Mexico City prospect Eric Collins has been making a name not only for his red hot pitching skills, but for his incomparably groomed mustache. Collins, the 3rd overall draft pick in season 6, could perhaps reach Philip Brown heights if he reaches his full potential. But for the moment while he toils in Low A, it is his mustache that is gaining all of the attention.
The birth of the mustache is a bit murky, but the 22 year old Collins has had the stache for at least 3 years. Collins said, "I decided to go with the classic 'Bill the Butcher' after I saw Gangs of New York. Daniel Day Lewis was just badass!" He went on, "I thought about the Tom Selleck circa Magnum P.I., or the Snidely Whiplash, but neither felt as good as the Butcher stache."
Word on the street is that the ladies love the mustache as well. "Amo el bigote de Eric!," exclaimed Low A affiliate Ixmiquilpan Diablos Rojos fan Fortunata Diaz. There is no word yet though if Eric has registered as a member of the American Mustache Institute to cement his stache status.
Monday, January 21, 2008
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Every team loves to sign hot foreign prospects, and with the money players like Paul Jung and Quilvio Suarez are raking in, most teams are left out in the cold. But through the years there have been some steals in the international market. Best we not let Interpol know of these, the signings were so good they might be criminal!
1. Victor Gandarillas - Oakland Frozen Koreans, Season 2, $8.4M
--$8.4M may not seem like a bargain, but for a pitcher who projects to near perfect control with dominating velocity, splits, and quality pitches, it is a bargain. Just now coming into his own in the bigs, Gandarillas has the potential to be an all-star every season.
2. Rico Estrada - Boston Heat, Season 1, $7.1M
--Estrada may not be the cheapest signing on this list, and he was the top money getter in season 1. But you cannot deny that for 7.1 million dollars, he has been an absolute steal. In addition to having the sweetest pair of shades in Cobb World, he has two all-star appearances and three silver slugger SS awards, and his glove isn't shabby at all either.
3. Benny Pineda - Sioux Falls Corn Cleats, Season 1, $3.7M
--Pineda has hit nearly .300 for his ML career, and lately has been averaging over 25 HR's a season while playing nearly every game at 2b for Sioux Falls. Initially shakey with the glove, his defense has improved remarkably and now he is a competent defensive 2b.
4. Pascual Mendoza - Sioux Falls Corn Cleats, Season 3. $4.0M
--Mendoza has gone 42-18 in his first 100 ML starts. He has also thrown 326 K's and been a rock in the Sioux Falls rotation since he was called up from the minors. What truly makes him a bargain is his 5 year contract at the league minimum, bringing lots of value for his production.
5. Andres Liriano - Fargo Fug Nuts, Season 1, $2.1M
--The oft traded Liriano has only recently made the bigs, but he has the tools to be a solid CF with good skills at the plate. Time will tell if he will be an all-star, but for 2.1 million, you can't complain about his talent.
There are definately other bargains out there, post your favorites in the comments section if they have been overlooked.
Armando Verdugo - Cobb Times Herald
It is only 16 games into the season 7, and already it is looking like a bonanza year for international signings. There have to date been two 17 million plus signings, and two 8 million dollar men. Last season there were only 8 players total who brought home more than 8 million in signing bonus money, and the highest was Jose Ordaz's 13.8 million. Sioux Falls owner FW_Kekionga commented on the large amount of dollars being spent for internationals, "I remember back in season one when you were able to get a star player for less than 5 million dollars. Now, you are lucky if 8 million gets you a bench player!" Indeed, the price of internationals has been rising higher than the inflation rate in a third world country.
Cobb Times Herald statistical guru Igor Gallindo spent some time researching the trends in the international prospect market, focusing specifically on the big money prospects of 3 million or more. Here are his results by season:
3-5.9 Million Dollars
6-7.9 Million Dollars
8-10.9 Million Dollars
11-13.9 Million Dollars
14+ Million Dollars
In looking at the data it is quite evident that the top end international salaries are increasing. Here is a look at the top internationals from season one onward.
Season 7 (Thus Far)
With the salary bonus money for internationals increasing for the players at the top, the question of whether or not the players are worth it will come into play. Only time and the production of the players at the major league level will be able to determine it.
Friday, January 11, 2008
World Renowned psychic Miss Cleo has been hired by the Jackson Pollocks to see if the predictions of Lars the Greek will actually come true. For a mere 99 cents a minute, she offered her advice to team GM squidvicious. "Me bes tinkin dat de Pollocks will be winnin all der games dis year, I have seen it in de Tarot Cards sweetness," predicted Miss Cleo. "I knows dat Diego Montana wills also be winnin de MVP, now hows about dat!" she also exclaimed. The team is thrilled to have Miss Cleo at their backs as well. "With the predictions of Miss Cleo, how can we lose?" asked Christian Brantley. When asked about the predictions of Lars the Greek, Miss Cleo was quite direct in her criticism. "We alls bes knowin dat Lars de Greek is a fraud, baby. He should bes prosecuted by de govament for his false predictions," she stated.
Miss Cleo has also contracted with Boon Stadium to run the following ad in between innings.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
In what can only be described as a shock, Los Angeles Drillers owner markc122706 has been declared missing by the Commissioners office of Cobb World and the LAPD. The team owner has not been seen at the office since December 29th, the date of arbitration hearings. Local citizens are concerned for the owner and the team, hoping that the lack of an effective executive doesn't negatively effect the Drillers performance. Commissioner daubs23 has named carpediem as interim GM of the Drillers. As to the wherabouts of markc122706, the LAPD wouldn't comment citing an investigation in progress. An anonymous source was quoted as saying though that, "the police are pretty sure that markc's disappearance has something to do with illegal Barcelonan tower building and the Basque separatist party ETA."
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Former Kansas City Kill and Fargo 1B Josh Price has filed for divorce with his wife, Jazzmyn Jadalynn Price. He has also sued her for the burning down of his Kansas City home, when she allegedly went crazy and burnt the house down after an argument over her continued employment as a dancer in a local club. Price was unavailable for comment but issued this statement through his lawyer, "I am moving the hell out of Kansas City, and I will only return to get my money from that evil conniving devil. That ***** is crazy, and I want her to suffer!"
Price and his wife met when Price hit the town with some of his teammates went to the Lion's Den Gentlemen's Lounge after a game. Former teammate Matty Guapo informed us of their first meeting, saying, "Jazzmyn and Josh really hit it off after the first lap dance. She was HOTT! But I wouldn't have brought her home, that kind of women is crazy." Ms. Jones was unavailable for comment, referring all inquiries to her lawyer.
It is increasingly looking as if Japanese megaprospect Paul Jung will command the most expensive signing bonus ever seen in Cobb World. With Boston Heat GM furniss publicly admitting that he was out of the bidding at 13 million dollars, it will surely be a hefty price tag to land the CF from Tokyo. Financial expert and baseball guru Alan Greenspan had some thoughts about the projected final price, "I am sure that with the factors of inflation in the international markets that Jung will come in at a rate a little higher than expected. I fully expect that the spending for his services will create a small boost in the Tokyo economy, effecting U.S. global relations with Japan, and enriching our nation. In short, he should fetch between 15-17 million dollars."
Jung certainly has all of the tools to be successful in the majors, even though he is only 18 years old currently. Projecting to an extremely high HBD Bill James Composite Rating of 89, there is no doubt that he is a potential five tool player. He has a great batting eye, and should have lots of power and good contact hitting skills. His ability with the glove, with proper coaching, could also be extraordinary.
Not all may be well with Jung however. According to Louisville Tysons GM mhoffa, there is potential that the talented player may have off the field issues. Anonymous sources have said he has competitive eating binges consisting of Nathans Hot Dogs, pickles, and apple pies. There are also rumors that Jung wants to actually be worshipped like his hot dog eating idol Takeru Kobayashi, instead of pursuing a baseball career. But with the money being thrown at him, it will be hard for him to stomach a career other than hardball.
Saturday, January 5, 2008
In the NL, by seed order:
1. Fargo - bye
2. Omaha - bye
3. Louisville vs. 6. Cincinatti - Louisville in 4
4. Wichita vs. 5. Sioux Falls - Sioux Falls in 4
1. Fargo vs. 5. Sioux Falls - Sioux Falls in 5
2. Omaha vs. 3. Louisville - Louisville in 5
3. Louisville vs. 5. Sioux Falls - Louisville in 6
In the AL, by seed order:
1. Anaheim - bye
2. Pawtucket - bye
3. Scranton vs. 6. Boston (beats Pittsburgh for last spot in tiebreaker) - Boston in 4
4. Atlanta vs. 5. Helena - Helena in 4
1. Anaheim vs. 5. Helena - Anaheim in 5
2. Pawtucket vs. 6. Boston - Pawtucket in 4
1. Anaheim vs. 2. Pawtucket - Pawtucket in 7
Louisville vs. Pawtucket - Louisville in 6
Last Season: 99-63, 1st place
Studs: LF Jose Barrios, SP Kazuhiro Ong
Duds: P Bob Maduro (5.19 ERA and 1.42 WHIP in the pen was a liability)
Outlook: Few teams can match Omaha's lineup and rotation, which boast top quality players at all positions. MVP candidate Barrios leads a gifted group of position players also including Bill Norton, Sammy Maduro, Ken Daniels, Fasto Pena, Fred McConnell, and Terrence Warden. Aces Ong, Geoffrey Gates, Ivan Canseco, and B.C. Steenstra head a dominating rotation. Fireman of the Year Sean Hill leads the pen. A few of Omaha's players are starting to age, but this team should easily win the NL West.
Prediction: 103-59, 1st place
Last Season: 74-88, 2nd place
Studs: SP Buddy Fontenot, OF Ivan Bergeron
Duds: P Achilles Hanson (5.72 ERA and 1.72 WHIP could be achilles heel for Seattle bullpen)
Outlook: Seattle has been steadily improving over the last few seasons but are still a year or two away as thier best prospects are still in the minors. In the meantime the Seacows will remain competetive by playing good defensive baseball, led by the gloves of Tomas Castillo and Marty Ryan. P Bobby Clayton has a bright future ahead of him too, and should make strides this season. Expect the Seacows to put up a good fight, but not quite make the playoffs.
Prediction: 75-87, 2nd place
Tucson Hot Sauce
Last Season: 62-100, 4th place
Studs: C Murray Hayes, SP Tomas Tatis
Duds: SP Troy Finley (3-14, 6.35 ERA in 27 starts)
Outlook: Tucson is a team on the rise, as long as their pitching continues to develop and doesn't get flustered throwing in the hitters paradise of Tucson Electric Park. New acquisition Tatis leads the rotation, which also features up and comer Skeeter Robertson, veteran Harry Belliard, and flamethrower Phil Chang. SS Curtis Chase, CF Albert Conception, and Hayes lead the lineup, which should hopefully produce enough runs to support the pitching staff.
Prediction: 73-89, 3rd place
Last Season: 67-95, 3rd place
Studs: SP Bob Brooks, 1B Ruben Lopez
Duds: P Rob Rubel (6.5 million dollar man is enjoying life in AAA)
Outlook: The Vultures are hoping a move to Vancouver can spark the team to a few more wins. There are some good players on the ML team, but the best players in the organization are still in the minors. But there are some bright spots on the squad, including Lopez, Brooks, and 2b Emmanuel Kirby. There is also mascot Vincent Von Vulture, who will keep the fans entertained with his tricycle antics until the kids in the minors make the big show.
Prediction: 71-91, 4th place
Last Season: 81-81, 3rd place
Studs: SP Bernie Lopez, 2B Jim Green
Duds: SP Josias Lopez (6-18, 5.51 ERA not the development Huntington wants to see in this young pitcher)
Outlook: The Hillbillies boast a talented roster of young players who have been steadily improving since the rebuilding project began in season 3 in Huntington. This should be the year they get back above .500 and challenge for a playoff spot. Ace Lopez heads a solid staff and should get help from Joaquin Cruz and David Encarnacion. The lineup features a healthy amount of talented internationals in David Kwon, Tony Cruz, Jung Lee, and Max Posada. If they can continue to improve their production at the plate the Hillbillies should be in good shape.
Prediction: 87-75, 2nd place
Last Season: 89-73, 2nd place
Studs: SS Domingo Montana, SP Eddie Rivers
Duds: IF Paul Lundquist (Took a step back with .263 BA in season 6)
Outlook: Jackson has always been competetive in the NL South, but might take a step backwards this season as the loss of free agent Roosevelt Lowell to division rival Louisville leaves the team with less hitting than before. Montana will still get his, but where the production will come from elsewhere remains a question. The pitching will still be very good, with Rivers and Christian Brantley leading the rotation. Still, a wildcard berth is not out of the question if someone else in the lineup has a good year.
Prediction: 86-76, 3rd place
Last Season: 104-58, 1st place
Studs: SS Dallas Kline, SP David Rosado
Duds: LF Rob Quinn (The slugger started to show his age with a drop in production last season)
Outlook: Louisville loaded up in the offseason to make a run befor their core players fall victim to father time. Bigtime free agent signing Roosevelt Lowell joins MVP and HOF lock Dallas Kline, Pat barber, Quinn, and Vitas Newman to form a fearsome veteran lineup that is the equal of any in the league. The pitching is rock solid as well with Cy Young Rosado and Talmadge Young heading a rotation full of aces. Louisville should win the division this year, but their window is starting to close.
Prediction: 102-60, 1st place
Last Season: 33-129, 4th place
Studs: IF Ron Leon, SP Juan Cortazar
Duds: CF Benji Molina (AVG. dropped from .302 to .255 after trade from Omaha)
Outlook: The Cohibas had a rough season last year as they jettisoned old and overpaid talent for young prospects. But the future is bright and there should surely be an improvement this year as Leon and the rest of the young Cohibas continue to improve. Look for Cortazar to have a better record, and Harry Gload to also do better in the rotation. No playoffs this season, but the NL South better be on the watch in season 9, when the Cohibas should be a force to be reckoned with.
Prediction: 58-104, 4th place
Last Season: 95-67, 1st place
Studs: SS Rico Romero, SP Carl Maddux
Duds: SS Rico Romero (Teams best player is gifted with the glove, but should hit better than .260)
Outlook: Division champs Cincinnati return the strong rotation that propelled them to the playoffs last season. Outstanding pitching from Joe Marshall, Jose Sanchez, and Maddux was the norm last year, and if the hitters can match the production of the pitchers the HoundDogs should again contend for the playoffs. Look for newcomer Duke Gibbs to make a splash and contend for rookie of the year.
Prediction: 92-70, 2nd place
Last Season: 67-95, 4th place
Studs: IF Brent Cradle, SP Nate Rodgers
Duds: IF Wiki Vazquez (Talented hitter needs to prove that he can have another relatively injury free season)
Outlook: Durham is bringing the youth up to the big leagues and hoping that it's young talent will produce and develop at the same time. RF Louie Tarraga leads the charge and has potential to be a big time player. 1B Bobby Farr, P George Wohlers, and C Marvin Guerrero also are looking to make an impact. Still, it will be how the veterans perform that will ultimately decide Durhams fate. If Rodgers can get back to all star form, Vazquez can stay healthy, and pitchers Grahame Payton and Kenneth Ventrella can produce, then Durham should improve over last season.
Prediction: 71-91, 4th place
Last Season: 79-83, 2nd place
Studs: 2B Kenny Blair, SP Ruben Montero
Duds: OF R. J. Hunt (A contact hitter with a good batting eye like Hunt shouldn't hit .248)
Outlook: The pieces are starting to come together for Syracuse as their young hitters and pitchers are maturing and getting used to the big league game. If pitchers Montero, Yorvit Hernandez, and Hoss Carver can reproduce thier stats from a year ago, the offense should be able to give them more run support and hopefully more wins. Blair, OF Jose Cervantes, and SS Angel Vazquez are the heart of a lineup that will only get better as the season wears on. While the fans in Syracuse are sure that next season will be when they make a run, there is an outside chance of a playoff berth this year.
Prediction: 86-76, 3rd place
Last Season: 72-90, 3rd place
Studs: IF Vasco Chantres, RF Grant Keats
Duds: SP Ramon Sasaki (He's better than the 5-13 record he posted last season)
Outlook: This is the season Wichita fans have been waiting for as the management has released the hounds and brought up many of the stud prospects that have been waiting in the minors. This team will sink or swim on the performances of Keats, 2 time AAA MVP Milt Serafini, C Daryl Bates, SP Tony Cho, OF Justin Snopek, and SP Victor Sanchez. If these rookies can produce then the Wankers should have a breakout year, possibly taking the division title away from Cincinnati.
Prediction: 94-68, 1st place
Fargo Fug Nuts
Last Season: 110-52, 1st place
Studs: SS Corey Green, P Kirk White
Duds: P Steven Floyd (5.01 ERA and 1.48 WHIP was worst in the rotation)
Outlook: Word Series champs Fargo are still loaded for season 7, even though half the team has been traded away. The offensive core is still in place with MVP candidate Green, Jeremy Hernandez, Wayne Wilson, and Ernest McConnell in place. The pitching staff is above average as well with studs John Chang and Zephyr Burns, but the true pitching strength is the bullpen. Boasting three dominant closers in White, Steven Booker, and Sarma Inge, there is no reason why Fargo can't repeat as division champs and go far into the playoffs yet again.
Prediction: 108-54, 1st place
New York Pick Pockets
Last Season: 83-79, 3rd place
Studs: SP Kirt Hooper, 1B Joseph Pan
Duds: SP Andre Eaton (Needs to master his control issues and stay in the bigs to justify 5.4 million salary)
Outlook: NY has many talented players and if it didn't play in the NL North could possibly contend for a division title elsewhere. But There is still the possibility of wildcard contention, especially if new addition Elvis Christman can match the production of ace Kirt Hooper. If Pan can stay healthy for a full season he should be nicely complemented by Stewart DiSarcina and Louie Sanchez. The defense is solid, and the rotation is good, but the pen is a little suspect. If things go right a wildcard birth is a definate possibility.
Prediction: 85-77, 3rd place
Sioux Falls Corn Cleats
Last Season: 109-53, 2nd place
Studs: SP Vance Weaver, C Vernon Jones
Duds: 1B Ben Harris (Talented hitter is capable of doing much better than .255 BA)
Outlook: The Corn Cleats came within one game of dethroning perpetual division champs Fargo last season, and this year might be the season they break through. New addition Hades Booker is a devastating hitter when healthy, and forms a solid core with all stars Jones and Marino Sierra. The leagues best pitching staff returns all of its major players, with former Cy Young Weaver hoping to bounce back from an injury plagued season and Benito Rodriguez looking to contend for awards. Health issues plague many of the players on this team, but if those are avoided the Cleats could go all the way.
Prediction: 106-56, 2nd place
Last Season: 70-92, 4th place
Studs: SS Morris Lloyd, P Timothy Clark
Duds: P Willie Oliva (Needs to prove that his numbers after trade to Toledo weren't a fluke)
Outlook: Steadily improving Toledo is bringing many young talented players to the bigs this season, including Wally Rubel, Pedro Moreno, and Wally Dickerson. Veteran SS Lloyd provides the solid defense that was lacking at that position last season, and the pitching is solid if not spectacular. As the young players develop and the stars in the minors continue to improve the future looks bright for Toledo, but the future is still probably a season away at this point.
Prediction: 73-89, 4th place
Friday, January 4, 2008
Last Season: 112-50, 1st place
Studs: CF Alan Peterson, SP J.T. Kydd
Duds: 1B Mendy Strong (.267 BA and .857 OPS is not what he is capable of)
Outlook: AL West superpower Anaheim returns most of the players that got them to the world series in season 6. Loaded in the rotation, bullpen, and their everyday lineup, there is no reason why Anaheim shouldn't repeat as division champs and go deep into the playoffs. Standouts include MVP Peterson, Ernie Jenkins, and Luke Henley in the lineup, and Kydd, Shayne Campbell, and Olmedo Contreras in the rotation and bullpen.
Prediction: 110-52, 1st place
Last Season: 62-100, 4th place
Studs: SP Victor Gandarillas, LF Carl Hairston
Duds: 2B Robin Gordon (.250 Avg., .306 OBP nneds to improve for the veteran)
Outlook: The Arizona Devildogs are full of good talent in the minors that is just starting to arrive in the majors, headlined by SP stud Gandarillas. Veterans Hairston and Gordon are showing the new kids the ropes until they are ready, probably a season or two yet. Still, they are a feisty and competitive bunch and will acquit themselves well.
Prediction: 68-94, 4th place
Last Season: 86-76, 2nd place
Studs: 1B Orber Olivo, SP Orlando Manzanillo
Duds: SP Ray Strickland (8-15, 5.62 ERA not good enough for top of the rotation pitcher)
Outlook: The Hellraisers have a talented team in Helena, although not many people know it. Olivo should have been a MVP candidate but was oddly snubbed last season, but is hoping to duplicate his 73 HR season with better results this year. If underachieving pitchers Strickland and Brian Wells can up their games the Hellraisers should challenge for a playoff spot.
Prediction: 91-71 2nd place
Los Angeles Drillers
Last Season: 80-82, 3rd place
Studs: LF Bartolo Castilla, C Patrick Stanton
Duds: SS Glendon Hatcher (Unless .256 avg can improve, this talented glove will be on the bench)
Outlook: The Drillers are looking to challenge for a wildcard berth this season behind several talented position players including slugging catcher Stanton, LF Bartolo Castilla, and Rookie of the Year Donne Harding. The pitching staff lacks a true #1 starter but is solid otherwise. If the hitting can carry the team then they might sneak into the playoffs.
Prediction: 82-80, 3rd place
Thursday, January 3, 2008
Last Season: 86-76, 2nd place
Studs: IF Enrique Guardado, SP Gerald Kojima
Duds: P Gregory Hanson (10-11, 5.72 ERA in 35 starts)
Outlook: One game from the division title last season, the Warthogs look to make the leap behind a powerful lineup. Guardado leads a lineup that has quality hitters top to bottom. But there is concern for the pitching staff where other than Kojima, questions arise. ERA's were high for all other starters, but if they can improve just a little over last season they could very well win the division.
Prediction: 88-74, 1st place
Last Season: 79-83, 3rd place
Studs: 2B Dennis Ashby, SP Gregory Rivers
Duds: P Toby Lewis (7-9, 5.87 ERA, 1.52 WHIP)
Outlook: Charlotte is a young and improving team, led by star 2B Ashby. Not much in the way of contact hitters in the lineup, but that is made up for with an abundance of power at several positions. The starting pitching is weak outside of Rivers, but the pen is a strength. With slight improvements the Dogs could make it above .500 and possibly contend for the division.
Prediction: 81-81, 3rd place
Mexico City Diablos Rojos
Last Season: 87-75, 1st place
Studs: SP Phillip Brown, SS Lewis Allen
Duds: 1B Clyde Bird (Aging slugger needs to prove that .270 avg. after trade wasn't a fluke)
Outlook: The Diablos Rojos will go as far as their pitching will take them, which is questionable as future HOF lock Phillip Brown is entering the twilight of his career. Still an ace by any description, Brown should have one more good year left before his decline becomes noticable. The lineup features aging power hitters in Bird and Perry, and aging catcher Banjo Carter. If Mexico City can hold off father time, they have a chance to repeat as division champs. But Father Time waits for no man...
Prediction: 82-80, 2nd place
Santa Fe Wranglers
Last Season: 49-113, 4th place
Studs: 1B Josh Price, SP Glenn Collier
Duds: SP Charlie Thomas (7.43 ERA for a top starter doesn't cut it.)
Outlook: After dealing with ownership issues, the Wranglers moved from San Juan for a fresh start. Led by MVP candidate Josh Price, the Wranglers have a solid hitting lineup that looks to take advantage of their homer happy park. What effect this will have on the pitching remains to be seen, but with active and involved ownership, and better pitching than last season, there is no doubt Santa Fe will improve. Look for big seasons from Price, Walt Cameron, and Adrian Parker. Look for the pitching staff to be putting up umbrellas in the bullpen to protect themselves from the rain of homers that will surely happen in Santa Fe.
Prediction: 69-93, 4th place
Last Season: 90-72, 1st place
Studs: SS Rico Estrada, SP Rabbit Leyritz
Duds: Brian Ashby (Highly rated role player has never lived up to his potential)
Outlook: The Heat just barely made good on their promise to win the division a year ago, but have the talent to win it again in season 7. Former Cy Young Leyritz heads a solid rotation, and poor man's Dallas Kline Rico Estrada leads the Heat lineup. Lots of solid hitters and defense throughout, and a good pen is anchored by lights out closer Bobby Davidson. But in the AL East, it may not be enough to get through.
Prediction: 90-72, tie 2nd place
Kansas City KILL
Last Season: 80-82, 4th place
Studs: SS AJ Buck, SP Tomas Tatis
Duds: 1B Armando Soriano (Needs to improve on .260 AVG from last season)
Outlook: Age finally caught up to the KILL (formerly RiverRats) last season, and this season the rebuilding process has begun. There is still lots of talent in the rotation and the lineup though, so the KILL won't be an easy out. Look for Rabbit Lara and AJ Buck to continue to produce, and newcomer Brace Davey to contend for Rookie of the Year. The pitchers Tatis are still good, but won't be enough to hold the staff together by themselves. Look for a slight drop off from last season.
Prediction: 73-89, 4th place
Last Season: 88-74, 3rd place
Studs: SS RJ Cubillan, DH Roosevelt Ingram
Duds: SP Eduardo Nunez (SP1 needs to do better than 3-9 in 25 starts)
Outlook: The SSP of Pittsburgh almost won the division last season before a late season hiccup cost them the title. But they made the playoffs as a wildcard and look to do better this year. With a young and improving lineup and pitching staff, a division title isn't out of the question, as there are no real weak spots in the lineup. Ingram, Cubillan, Howie Payton, and Gregg Young form a quality heart of the order.
Prediction: 90-72, tie 2nd place
Last Season: 89-73, 2nd place
Studs: RF Ken Puffer, SP Dean Hernandez
Duds: SP Larry Gross (15-10, but is that worth 15.5 million?)
Outlook: The Dragons are loaded. The Rotation has three # 1 starters in Hernandez, Gross, and Josias Morales, last years Cy Young runner up. The lineup features killer hitter Ken Puffer, and a very strong supporting cast. There are no weaknesses in the linup or rotation to speak of, and this should be a year when they win the tough AL East
Prediction: 93-69, 1st place
Last Season: 73-89, 3rd place
Studs: 1B/DH Kip Zeille, SP Ugueth Posada
Duds: Lefty Groom (Blown save machine, can only be worse after injury.)
Outlook: The Sabercats best years are ahead of them as they blend a mix of solid veteran leadership with many young players. The lineup is held together by megaslugger Kip Zeille, with the other players being mostly solid to average contact hitters. The rotation features some solid young pitching, headed by Posada and Santos Diaz, who should be a star in a year or two. Depth is an issue, and Chicago is only an injury away to Zeille from having its offense fall apart. This team is probably a year away.
Prediction: 78-84, 3rd place
New York Brokers
Last Season: 59-103, 4th place
Studs: SP Pedro Ontiveros, SP J.R. Murphy
Duds: Tomas Diaz (He had to do something wrong to end up in AAA at 7.5 mil per year!)
Outlook: The future is in the minors for the Brokers, as their solid young pitching is just now entering the bigs or is still in development. The lineup featuresa solid core of role players, but no all star position players to speak of. They won't get embarrassed on the field, but where the power and production will come from is unknown. Look for pitchers Ontiveros and Murphy to be the bright spots until young talent in the minors is ready.
Prediction: 63-99, 4th place
Last Season: 99-63, 1st place
Studs: SP Albert Franco, SS Tom Pettitte
Duds: Bo Stein (.219 avg and .251OBP need to improve for teams slugger)
Outlook: The G-Maniacs bring a loaded lineup and rotation to the field in season 7. They have solid gloves and hitters at every position, and the rotation has perennial Cy Young candidate Albert Franco. The only possible weaknesses on the G-Maniacs this season would be the lack of a quality power hitter, and the lack of a second dominant starter in the rotation, although Daniel Hammond and Doug Ripken and Julio Mercado are all good. Still, the hitting and the defense should be more than enough to win another division crown.
Prediction: 100-62, 1st place
Philadelphia Floppin' Phils
Last Season: 78-84, 2nd place
Studs: DH Bob Sears, 2B Jamie Beimel
Duds: 2B Luis Escuela (For 17 million you need to hit better than .268!)
Outlook: The Floppin' Phils are a franchise in transition, with many veterans leaving over the offseason in trades for prospects. Still, there is a fair amount of talent on the ML squad, headed by future star Jamie Beimel and cagey veteran Bob Sears. Talented vets Flip Heathcott, Marty Leary, and Derrin Rogers anchor a solid rotation. The bullpen is a bit weak, and the defense is hurt by the lack of a true shortstop. If things go right they could contend for a wildcard spot.
Prediction: 85-77, 2nd place