Saturday, June 21, 2008

Fábrica de béisbol de diablos Shut Down!

Buster Gunns - Cobb Times Herald

The infamous "Fábrica de béisbol de diablos," the legendary baseball factory in the jungles of Puerto Rico, has been closed down by Puerto Rican authorities after human rights violations became evident. The factory, known for it's militaristic approach to baseball training, was responsible for some of the best prospects in recent Cobb World history, including studs such as Paul Jung, Quilvio Suarez, Jimmie Julio, Geronimo Liriano, Sammy Bennett, Omar Rosado, Pedro Franco, Joseph Funaki, and scores of others. In fact, last season's crop of international signings was perhaps the greatest talent haul in the history of baseball.

There was a noticeable drop in talent quality this season though, which led to suspicion that the fabrica was running into some troubles. The best prospects signed this year were all flawed in some way or another, with the top three money getters illustrating the point. Ugueth Perez is a closer with average splits and a weak third pitch, Rico Fernandez is a starting pitcher with major control issues, and Jesus Campos is a slugger who can't even think about hitting right handed pitching. With the issues in basic baseball fundamentals rearing their heads in the skills of it's prospects, it was evident that the discipline for which the fabrica was famous was failing.

GM's across the league were unhappy with the quality of the prospects, and voiced their opinions on the subject. FW_Kekionga of the Sioux Falls Corn Cleats said, "It may have been the humane thing to do in shutting down the fabrica, but what is the suffering of one kid in a baseball factory compared to the suffering of thousands of fans in Sioux Falls for inferior talent on the field?"

The Puerto Rican authorities were forced to make a move on the fabrica after an expose in the Cobb Times Herald in which the reporter risked his life to chronicle the forbidden workings of the baseball compound. The caning of recruits and the constant presence of machine guns was too much for many citizens to bear, thus the law was forced to act. 27 people were arrested on arms and kidnapping charges, 302 guns were seized, as were 3267 baseballs, 400 Louisville Slugger bats, 340 gloves, 30 catchers mitts, 2 boxes of cleats, 3 cases of HGH, 2 boxes of Cuban cigars, 3 Pit Bulls, 4 Tom Emansky fielding videos, and 14 boxes of Big League Chew.

The operation was a success by some accounts, but the mysterious head of the fabrica remains at large, with rumors flying that he was tipped off to the seizure operation. His whereabouts remain unknown, and authorities are requesting that you call their tip line if you have any information, as he is considered to be armed and dangerous.

International Update

Igor Gallindo - Cobb Times Herald

With the completion of Season 8 of Cobb World, Cobb Times Herald statistical guru Igor Gallindo spent some time revisiting the research into the trends in the international prospect market conducted in season 7. Focusing specifically on the big money prospects of 3 million or more. Here are his results by season, updated through Season 8. As you can see there is a significant drop in big money prospects from last season to this year.

3-5.9 Million Dollars

  1. 11
  2. 11
  3. 12
  4. 13
  5. 9
  6. 10
  7. 11
  8. 13

6-7.9 Million Dollars

  1. 2
  2. 7
  3. 1
  4. 5
  5. 2
  6. 6
  7. 2
  8. 2

8-10.9 Million Dollars

  1. 0
  2. 2
  3. 4
  4. 5
  5. 5
  6. 3
  7. 9
  8. 2

11-13.9 Million Dollars

  1. 0
  2. 0
  3. 0
  4. 4
  5. 0
  6. 5
  7. 2
  8. 3

14+ Million Dollars

  1. 0
  2. 0
  3. 0
  4. 0
  5. 4
  6. 0
  7. 4
  8. 1

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 1

  1. Rico Estrada - $7.1M
  2. R. J. Cubillan - $7.0M
  3. Jolbert Macias - $5.7M

Season 2

  1. Victor Gandarillas - $8.4M
  2. James Gao - $8.2M
  3. Diego Villa - 7.7M

Season 3

  1. Javier Alvarez - $9.7M
  2. Phil Chang - $9.1M
  3. Luis Velazquez - $8.5M
  4. Josias Lopez - $8.5M

Season 4

  1. Tony Cho - $12.5M
  2. Rafael Borges - $10.1M
  3. Max Xiao - $10.0M
  4. Yorvit Hernandez - $10.0M

Season 5

  1. Victor Johnson - $15.0M
  2. Alfonso Vega - $14.5M
  3. Jung Lee - $14.5M

Season 6

  1. Jose Ordaz - $13.8M
  2. Virgil Dominguez - $11.5M
  3. Rico Cruz - $10.6M

Season 7

  1. Paul Jung - $17.8M
  2. Quilvio Suarez - $17.0M
  3. Jimmie Julio - $14.6
Season 8
  1. Ugueth Perez - $14.3M
  2. Rico Fernandez - $13.1M
  3. Jesus Campos - $13.0M

Thursday, June 19, 2008

World Series Preview - New York vs. Omaha

Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald

The playoff field has been narrowed to the final two teams, the defending champion Omaha Sluggers representing the National League, and the surprising wild card entry New York Titans from the American League. To see who has the advantage, Lars the Greek weighs in with a position by position analysis of the two teams.

Catcher: Tony Fernandez is the backstop for the NY Titans, and he is a slap hitter who is good vs. lefties at the plate, and is average with the glove and calls an ok but not exceptional game. Veteran Fausto Pena is an exceptional pitch caller for the Sluggers, but his aging body isn't the best defensively and he is easy to steal on. At the plate he hits for average but won't alter a game.
Advantage: Even

Titan Stone Duran is a talented hitter with above average power and a good eye vs. right handed pitching, but hasn't been effective this post season, batting a measly .204. Josh Price of the Sluggers is a hitting machine when healthy, which he currently is. He has had a monster playoffs, batting .324 with an OPS of .999.
Advantage: Omaha

Phil Coleman mans 2B for the Titans, and is a solid player who is above average at the plate and with the glove. He has hit safely in all 13 playoff games thus far, and is red hot heading into the series. Bill Norton has been a stalwart in the Sluggers lineup and although he has more raw talent than Coleman, he has been average this post season and has yet to really turn it on.
Advantage: New York

Rico Estrada is the man in New York, and even if he isn't playing to his capabilities yet, he is still the lynch pin in the Titans offense, and he is outstanding with the glove. Ken Daniels is a very good player in his own right, and can more than handle his end for Omaha at the plate and in the field. But Estrada is one of the games greats, and has to get the edge.
Advantage: New York

Russ Smith mans the hot corner for the Titans, and is a very good defensive 3B. But his skills at the plate aren't elite, as is evidenced by his .176 average in the playoffs. On the other hand Sammy Maduro has been killing the ball for the Sluggers, hitting nearly .400 in the playoffs. His glove work is pretty good too.
Advantage: Omaha

LF: Adrian Parker of the Titans has been having a phenomenal post season, hitting .352 and running the Titans offense. This is above and beyond what was expected of him, and it is a pleasant surprise for New York. Legendary Jose Barrios is the LF for Omaha, and it goes without saying that he is dangerous every time he is at the plate. Even with Parkers amazing playoffs, the edge has to go to Barrios.
Advantage: Omaha

CF: P.T. Turner has been outstanding in the playoffs, which is expected of a player of his quality. His .362 average is only just behind Coleman's this post season. Tomas Diaz celebrated his escape from the New York Brokers with an MVP quality regular season, but has followed that with a playoff dud, batting only .217 thus far.
Advantage: New York

RF: Tito Sisco is a promising young RF for New York, and has been solid this post season, batting .292 and playing well otherwise. For Omaha Albert Burnett is promising but is hitting as if his bat were made of lead, with an average of .200 with 13 strikeouts. Both players are equal in talent, but Sisco seems to be having the better playoffs.
Advantage: New York

Playing in a NL stadium allows NY to move Carlos Gomez to the bench from his DH position. But other than that no Titan backup has played at all in the playoffs. Omaha has given their backups plenty of at bats, to varying degrees of success. Still since Omaha actually used their bench, they get the edge.
Advantage: Omaha

Starting Pitching:
It's hard to argue with Omaha's rotation, especially when Kazuhiro Ong can start nearly every other game if need be. Flip Heathcott, B.C. Steenstra, and Ivan Canseco have also seen action starting games, and all are very good, but Steenstra's lone outing was a bit of a disaster. Ong is rapidly securing his place as Philip Browns successor as the dominant playoff pitcher in the league. For New York veteran Rabbit Leyritz has been their rock this post season, as Cy Young candidate Matthew Pryce has less effective than expected. Jason Sheldon has been better than expected, but that is balanced unfortunately by the struggles of Benji Eckenstahler and Bud Howard.
Advantage: Omaha

Omaha was able to help their bullpen considerably by moving Clyde Ford from the rotation to long relief for the playoffs. Sean Hill still manages to close games out, defying the predictions of Lars at every step. And Bob Maduro has been unhittable in the playoffs. For New York Mark White has completely locked down the opposition at the end of games. The rest of the pen, including Al Ingram, Bobby Davidson, Alex Nunez, and Hayes Brinson, have been the reason New York has been able to make it to the world series, as they have also been nearly untouchable.
Advantage: Even

New York has been red hot, and pulled off some big time upsets in the series wins over the #1 and #2 seeds in the AL in Anaheim and Pawtucket. Omaha beat some pretty tough teams as well in Fargo and St. Louis, and they are the defending champions. But new York has repeatedly counteracted the predictions of Lars the Greek.
Advantage: New York

Series Prediction: Although New York may have the mojo, and although their bullpen is red hot, Lars is going to pick the Omaha Sluggers to repeat and become the first two time champion in Cobb World. The bottom line is that the lineups are comparable, but Omaha's starting pitching, especially King Ong, will prove to be simply too much for New York. Until you have been on the receiving end of a CG 3 hit 10K shutout by Ong, you simply cannot be prepared for how dominating the Sluggers pitching is.
Outlook: Omaha in Six

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Playoff Predictions - Semifinals

Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald

The playoff field has been whittled down to eight deserving teams, all of whom would be excellent champions. But as in the Highlander, there can only be one, so it is time to guess who will be going on, and whose season will end in bitter defeat.

National League

1. Fargo Fug Nuts (121-41) vs. 4. Louisville Tysons (98-64)
Overview: The Fug Nuts rode the leagues best record to the #1 seed and a first round bye. But injuries have crippled the Fug Nug juggernaut, with Jim Green and Grant Spencer among the players that will miss the entire playoffs. Still, the Fug Nuts are loaded, and look for playoff stud Corey Green to lead the lineup, while regular season stud Hades Booker tries to shed his playoff dud history. Much of the Fug Nut pitching staff remains unproven in the playoffs however. As for the Tysons, they are fielding a collection of Cobb World greats who will soon be hitting the links and collecting retirement pensions. This could very well be the last hurrah for Dallas Kline, Timothy Serra, Rob Quinn, Bob Sears, Roosevelt Lowell, Javier Gonzalez, and Vitas Newman, all of whom have had storied careers. If the Tysons are to upset the Fug Nuts though, the outcome will probably depend on the talented young arms of David Rosado and Talmadge Young and their ability to shut down the lethal Fargo lineup.
Prediction: Fargo in 5 - The Tysons are hungry for the first championship in Louisville history, but ultimately the Fug Nuts are too deep top to bottom.

2. Omaha Sluggers (113-49) vs. 3. St. Louis HoundDogs (99-63)
Overview: The defending world champion Sluggers bring back a team that is nearly identical to the one that dominated the world series last year. The pitching staff is positively frightening, led by perennial Cy Young candidate Kaz Ong, along with cagey vets Flip Heathcott and B.C. Steenstra, and talented youngsters Ivan Canseco and Clyde Ford. The lineup is scary too, with MVP favorite Jose Barrios leading the charge. If there is a weakness in the Omaha armor, it might be closer Sean Hill. Hill converted 40 of 48 saves, but did it in scary fashion with a 1.61 WHIP and a 5.32 ERA. The HoundDogs are hungry for respect, and are taking every chance to prove themselves this season after being picked to miss the playoffs. They made a big statement when they dealt for Cobb World legend Philip Brown, and so far he hasn't disappointed, as he was nearly unhittable in his two first round starts. If he can continue owning the playoffs, and if the HoundDogs lineup can score enough runs, St. Louis has a chance for the upset. It won't be easy, but having vets who have climbed the mountain before like Brown, Rabbit Lara, and Donte Wright will help.
Prediction: Omaha in 5 - I think the HoundDogs will win the two starts that Brown pitches, but Omaha will win the other three, therefore earning them passage to the finals.

American League

1. Anaheim Sharks (117-45) vs. 5. New York Titans (95-67)
Overview: The Sharks, last years world series runner up, continued their regular season mastery this year thanks to a deep pitching staff and deep lineup. With two Cy Young candidates in Harold Charles and J. T. Kydd and the MVP favorite Kory Arnold, it is hard to pick against Anaheim. There really isn't a weakness on the team, and with four all star starters it will be impossible for New York to have a pitching match-up that will be in their favor. The Titans face a Herculean challenge in upsetting the American League champs, but they do have some aces up their sleeve in Cy Young candidate Matthew Pryce, and a lineup that includes many playoff veterans who have been there before and shouldn't succumb to the pressure. Rico Estrada needs to adjust the tint on his shades however, as he followed a sub par regular season with a positively brutal first round, batting only .111. The Titans need their best player to pick it up in a big way if they are to have a chance.
Prediction: Sharks in 4 - The Titans will get a game, but the Sharks are just too powerful to be stopped.

2. Pawtucket G-Maniacs (108-54) vs. 6. Pittsburgh SSP (89-73)
Overview: Whereas the top bracket is a battle between two ringers, this match-up pits two of the teams that have been on the receiving end of beatings by the Sharks and Titans. The G-Maniacs are the better off of the two, and have earned another bye as a result. Led by Cy Young candidate Dean Hernandez, and sensational rookie Graham Crabtree, Pawtucket is on solid ground for the series against the SSP. But all star pitcher Albert Franco needs to overcome his playoff demons however for the G-Maniacs to go far. Pittsburgh rode one of the leagues most powerful lineups to squeak into the playoffs. Pittsburgh's lineup will work the G-Maniacs pitchers, with R.J. Cubillan, Gregg Young, Roosevelt Ingram, Tito Hyers, and Howie Payton all being hitters who work deep in the count. Greg Raines saved the day for the SSP in the first round, winning two games, but he'll be hard pressed to keep up the magic against a disciplined Pawtucket lineup.
Prediction: Pawtucket in 4 - The SSP can hit, but the G-Maniacs can hit and pitch, thus giving the advantage to Pawtucket, who will move on for another shot at their nemesis, the Los Angeles Sharks of Anaheim.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Around the League

Tysons Pioneer Two Loss Game
--The Louisville Tysons made baseball history by losing the first two loss game the Cobb World record books. When asked how this was possible, Tysons GM mhoffa explained, "I made a bet with the league commissioner that the Tysons would take two losses for their next loss if David Archuleta didn't win American Idol. Obviously I missed that boat, just like when I voted for Justin Guarini in season 1." Now the Tysons have seen their division lead shrink to 6 games over the slumping Jackson Pollocks, and 7 over the Huntington Hillbillies as a result.

No Hitters Lead to Backyard Brawl
--Carson Russell of the Charlotte Dogs and B.C. Steenstra of the Omaha Sluggers were involved in an altercation at a Charlotte playground after Steenstra was called out by Russell for several comments he made after his no-no. The bad blood started when after his dominating performance three days after Russells game, Steenstra said to the press, "My no hitter could beat up Russel's no hitter." Russell didn't take that comment kindly and told reporters, "Oh yeah, well my no hitter could kick his no hitters ass!" Then Russell had a glove slap fed exed to Omaha to challenge Steenstra to a backyard brawl at the local 37th street playground. Fortunately management for both teams found out about the impending fight and corralled their pitchers before they could cause each other season ending injuries.

Playoff Roster Time in Santa Fe
--Reports out of Santa Fe confirmed that the Heat Wave will be sending the vast majority of their talent to their Rookie League team, which is the only team in the franchise that has a winning record and a chance at playoff glory. "The players will still be getting paid, so they don't care where they play," said Bench Coach Hipolito Rios. When asked how he felt about being shifted down to the Rookie league, veteran pitcher Chad Gorecki was actually excited. "I'm sure I'll dominate the hell out of those high school chumps, and it will be nice to pad my record. Plus the pranks are better down in the rooks anyways," exclaimed Gorecki. Fans of the Heat Wave's rookie squad are buying tickets by the dozens in anticipation of the talent surge.