Friday, September 26, 2008

Decade of Dominance - Chicago Sabercats

Chuck Biscuits - Cobb Times Herald

Decade of Dominance - Stuck in Neutral

The Chicago Sabercats are one of the original teams from season 1 in Cobb World, and have had the same owner, daubs23, the entire time. For nine seasons the Sabercats have entertained the citizens of Chicago, but unfotunately none of that entertainment has happened in the postseason. They have never been terrible, but they have never been elite. Chicago has been a stopping point for some elite talent however, even if it doesn't stay very long, especially in the minor league system. Still, with the solid if not spectacular management the Sabercats are a team with a solid core that competes hard every game.

#23 - Chicago Sabercats
Franchise Power Ranking: 25.5
Best Year: 92-70, s4 - Worst Year: 73-89, s6 & 9
Postseason Achievements: None
Best Player: Kip Zeile - In addition to his public addiction to fast cars, and his suspected addiction to steroids, the surly slugger has terrorized opposing pitchers to the tune of 426 HR's, 1,189 RBI's, and a career OPS of .987, making him one of Cobb Worlds all time great sluggers.
Best Pitcher: Greg Raines - Raines pitched six strong seasons in Chicago, including a 19 win season 4, and is the franchise leader in wins with 63.
Best International Prospect:
Frank Martin
Best Draft Pick: Santos Diaz
Franchise Theme Song: The Importance of Being Idle by Oasis - The Sabercats have shown remarkable consistency through their 9 seasons of average performance.
Franchise Highlights: One of the few remaining original teams from season 1. Won a franchise high 92 wins in season 4. Kip Zeile has been an MVP candidate numerous times, and finished second to Vernon Jones in a legendary Home Run Derby swing off in season 6. Franchise has drafted numerous talented pitchers including Santos Diaz, Herman Knight, and Placido Tarrasco.
Franchise Lowlights: Franchise is the only original team to have not made the playoffs. Franchise has traded numerous talented pitchers including Santos Diaz, Josias Morales, and Herman Knight. Made one of the great trade blunders in league history with the deal of 2 time AL MVP Kory Arnold for Quinn Hancock and Carl Lloyd.
Franchise Outlook: M. C. Escheresque. Every time it seems that the Sabercats are climbing the staircase to success, the stairway suddenly starts stepping downward. One of these years though Chicago will make it to the top, but it will have to wait for it's prospects to develop, and for Pawtucket to decline. But at least the beer is good in Chicago, and the fans always have Kip Zeile to entertain them with his fan friendly personality. There is also the added bonus that with daubs23 stepping down as commissioner, the team can now afford to win without having to worry about conflict of interest outcries from the league.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Decade of Dominance - New York Pick Pockets

Cortez Mack - Cobb Times Herald

Decade of Dominance - Who Stole the Kishka?

Once upon a time the New York Pick Pockets were the sausage race hosting Milwaukee Gold Sox, a team that seemed to have a lot of promise. But then ace pitcher Geoffrey Gates was traded for a bunch of chumps and then owner Arfy was called out by the league, and left shortly thereafter. Current GM EBzer has taken over the team and turned it into a division title contender with a strong lineup and a competitive pitching staff. Perhaps the time is coming soon when it can vault past division stalwarts Fargo and Sioux Falls and take some of the glory for themselves. By placing ahead of the Corn Cleats for the first time in team history, the Pick Pockets have taken the first step.

#24 - New York Pick Pockets
Franchise Power Ranking: 25
Best Year: 94-68, s2 - Worst Year: 64-98, s1
Postseason Achievements: None
Best Player: Joseph Pan - Pan has been the man in New York since season 2, racking up 314 HR's, 1,087 hits, and 813 RBI's.
Best Pitcher: Geoffery Gates - Gates had three monster seasons with the franchise, leading the league in IP for two of them, and is the teams career leader in wins with 60.
Best International Prospect:
Omar Rosado
Best Draft Pick: Kirt Hooper
Franchise Theme Song: Who Stole the Kishka by Frank Yankovic - In homage to the teams time in the sausage heaven of Milwaukee, and their current mascot of the Pick Pocket, this song comibines the two in a perfect polka.
Franchise Highlights: Won a franchise high 94 games in season 2. Drafted several very good players in Kirt Hooper, Jose Gandarillas, Clyde Ford, Brad Mann, and Al Morales. Franchise traded for MVP candidate Ernest McConnell in season 7. Franchise finished in 2nd place in the division in season 9, the teams highest placing in league history.
Franchise Lowlights: Despite winning 94 games, the franchise only finished in 3rd place in season 2. Team caused a stir within the league when it traded Geoffrey Gates and 5 million dollars for Amp Mahay, Amos Sweeney, and Phil Dykhoff, two of whom retired in the minors and the other is riding the bench for another team in arguably one of the worst deals in league history.
Franchise Outlook: Movin' on up! The Pick Pockets finished in 2nd place for the first time in thier history within the NL North, and with Fargo and Sioux Falls projected to be rebuilding during season 10, there is a window to win the division that has never been open before for the franchise. They have the players to do it with MVP candidate Ernest McConnell and Cy Young contender Elvis Christman. The future is now in New York, and all that remains is to seize the opportunity.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Decade of Dominance - Durham Pitbulls

Tito McQueen - Cobb Times Herald

Decade of Dominance - Sweet Lou

The Durham Pitbulls started off life in Cobb World as the New York Mets, the team of then commissioner metsmaniac2. The team had a promising future, boasting sluggers Rob Quinn and Roosevelt Lowell, and pitchers Junior Park and Harry Feliz. But after metsmaniac ditched the league the next few seasons weren't kind to the franchise, as season 3 saw the departure of much of that talent and season 4 endured a year under the management of phillyfan33. Current manager alogman1 took over the team in season 5, and has been building through the draft ever since, and it is finally starting to pay off in wins at the ML level, with season 9 MVP Louie Tarraga leading the way.

#25 - Durham Pitbulls
Franchise Power Ranking: 24.5
Best Year: 91-71, s1 - Worst Year: 61-101, s
Postseason Achievements: 1 Division Championship
Best Player: Louie Tarraga - Tarraga has been steadily improving since making the majors for the Pitbulls in season 7, to the point where he won the season 9 MVP.
Best Pitcher: Harry Feliz - Feliz carried the franchise to a division title in season 1, and was a dominant pitcher during the early years of the league.
Best International Prospect:
Alex Liriano
Best Draft Pick: Louie Tarraga
Franchise Theme Song: Louie Louie - The Kingsmen - The franchises gradual improvement can be directly linked to the improvement of their star player, Louie Tarraga.
Franchise Highlights: Won the NL East in season 1 behind all star seasons from Harry Feliz, Rob Quinn, and Roosevelt Lowell. Drafted MVP Louie Tarraga with the #5 pick in the season 5 draft, and All Star Ernest McConnell with the #6 pick in the season 1 draft. Louie Tarraga won the NL MVP in season 9, a franchise 1st. Wiki Vazquez had a wing named after him at the Duke University Hospital in Durham.
Franchise Lowlights: Franchise caused the first trade controversy in league history with the deal of Diego Nieto and parts to Fargo for Roosevelt Lowell and parts. Season 4 saw a whirlwind of talent enter and exit the franchise with trades involving Kazuhiro Ong, Sarma Inge, Ernest McConnell, and Roosevelt Lowell. Franchise has not had a winning season since season 1. Talented hitter Wiki Vazquez leads the franchise with 5 trips to the 60 day DL in his career.
Franchise Outlook: Things are looking up. The minor league system is now in much better shape and is paying dividends in the majors. Starting with Louie Tarraga, the Durham minors have produced several productive players, also including Hawk Gutierrez, and future ace Tanner Halama. With the continued improvement of it's young players, and the finacial flexibility afforded by their contracts, the Pitbulls should break .500 for the first time since season 1 very shortly. But it will be tough to make the playoffs in what is currently the hardest division in the National League.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Season 9 World Series Preview

Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald

This seasons World Series features a matchup of two powerhouse teams, the Omaha Sluggers and the Pawtucket G-Maniacs. Both have compile impressive regular season records for the past 7 seasons, but only Omaha has realized playoff success, making three straight World Series with one championship, while the G's have only managed to fizzle out in the LCS numerous times until now. How will the series play out? Lars the Greek takes a look to see who might be victorious.

Pawtucket G-Maniacs (101-61) vs. Omaha Sluggers (112-50)

Overview: Pawtucket reached it's first ever World Series by defeating two very talented teams in the Scranton Dragons and the Helena Hellraisers. The G-Manaics did this primarily on the back of Dean Herandez, who has dominated opposing lineups through the entire postseason, and the veteran bat of Robin Gordon, who is posting a very impressive 1.236 OPS in the playoffs. Omaha reached the World Series by posting in improbable come from behind victory over the St. Louis HoundDogs, and then sweeping the overmatched Wichita Wankers. Standouts have been the usual suspects, with Josh Price and Jose Barrios tearing it up in the lineup, and Kazuhiro Ong leading the pitching staff.

Lineups: The G-Maniacs jettisoned a huge number of veteran free agents in the offseason, and brought out a new lineup with lots of youth. But they traded to bring Tom Petitte back midseason when the team was looking like it was a lock to win the division. Petitte hasn't disappointed in the postseason, batting .326, but star IF Dennis Ashby has, batting only .250 with a .291 OBP in the playoffs. He will have to improve in order to stand a chance against the Omaha pitching. The rest of the lineup is composed of very solid players, who all can be difference makers on any given day. Omaha is powered by Price and Barrios, but Bill Norton and Sammy Maduro are proven playoff performers who are bringing it again this year as well. Throw in Tomas Diaz and Albert Burnett, and you have a lineup that is hard for any pitching staff to find a hole in.
Edge: Omaha

Pitching: Pawtucket's strength is it's pitching with Cy Young winner Dean Hernandez anchoring a staff that also includes talented pitchers Kory Burrell, Skeeter Robinson, Albert Franco, and Jose Rios. Hernandez is a complete game machine, and is normally good for 2 wins in a 7 game series all by himself. Which is a good thing, because as talented as he is, Franco has shown a tendency to blow it in big games, although to be fair he has been pretty good this time around. Rios has been very good in the closer role this playoffs. Omaha is led by multiple Cy Young winner Kazuhiro Ong, who is along with Hernandez one of the top pitchers in the game. Ong is joined by a top flite staff of pitchers including veterans Flip Heathcott and Ivan Canseco, and talented youngster Clyde Ford. Sean Hill anchors the Omaha bullpen, but this postseason hasn't been kind to the veteran, who is suffering with a 13.50 ERA and two blown saves so far.
Edge: Pawtucket

Intangibles: Omaha has won a World Series before, and has always performed well in the playoffs, but their bullpen inconsistencies are forcing their starters to throw near perfect games to keep things out of the hands of the erratic Sean Hill. The lineup is fearsome, but how they will perform against the most talented pitching staff they have seen in the playoffs remains to be seen. Pawtucket has always come up a dollar short until this season, and they feel that it is their time. The starting pitching is very good, and closer Jose Rios is reliable, but Albert Franco is just an inning away from a meltdown, and the lineup needs to do a better job of supporting Petitte and Gordon, especially against a very tough Omaha staff.
Edge: Even

Pick: Pawtucket in 7 - Lars thinks that the G's are due for a victory. Omaha has a better lineup, their starting pitching is even, and Pawtucket has a better bullpen, so this should be a very close and competitive series. Ultimately Lars thinks it will come down to a blown save or two that will decide the series, and that is where Pawtucket has the edge, at least thus far.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Decade of Dominance - Toronto Blue Jays

Tito McQueen - Cobb Times Herald

Decade of Dominance - Blame the Management

The Toronto Blue Jays had a very bright future after season 1, when they had just won the AL North, and had reigning MVP Chris Gentry anchoring the lineup and Cobb World all time great Phillip Brown as their #1 starter. Then things started to go south, and like Black Tuesday, the New York Brokers era took a dive and crashed as bad as any market to date under the management of cbwriter. New owner sowden has his work cut out for him, as Cobb League rules don't allow government bailouts.

#26 - Toronto Blue Jays
Franchise Power Ranking: 24
Best Year: 91-71, s2 - Worst Year: 51-111, s7
Postseason Achievements: 1 Division Championship
Best Player: Christopher Gentry - Gentry was the dominant CF in the first two seasons of Cobb World, including a monstrous 65 HR MVP winning season 1
Best Pitcher: Phillip Brown - Brown pitched two and a half seasons for the franchise netting a 21 win season, 2 all star appearances, and one Cy Young.
Best International Prospect:
Benito Beltre
Best Draft Pick: Shane Parrish
Franchise Theme Song: Theme Song to "The Office" - It only takes 37 seconds but perfectly describes the management futility that defined the franchise for many seasons.
Franchise Highlights: Won the AL North in season one behind Christopher Gentry's MVP winning campaign. Phillip Brown won the Cy Young in season 2 with a 21-5 year. Set a franchise high with 92 wins in season 2. Set a Cobb World record for most expensive international with the signing of Benito Beltre in season 9.
Franchise Lowlights: Traded Phillip Brown in his prime to Cleveland in season 3 for Pedro Ontiveros and Vin Sanchez, possibly the worst trade in league history. Also traded away Cy Young calibur pitchers Shayne Campbell, Bobby Davidson, and Shane Parrish for peanuts. Traded Tomas Diaz, the best player left on the team, in season 8 for lesser players. Recorded 4 straight 100 loss seasons from season 6-9. Failed to sign both it's first and second round picks from the season 9 draft.
Franchise Outlook: Just a little patience please. Unlike the 37 second theme song to The Office, this franchise will take a lot longer to sort out, as the hole that was dug by cbwriter is pretty big. By the end of his tenure the team was left with little to work with on the ML roster, a pretty barren farm system, and some bad contracts. New GM sowden has taken a big step in the right direction with the massive signing of Benito Beltre, but it will take a few more players like him to make this team competitive again. But things can only go up from here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Decade of Dominance - Santa Fe Heat Wave

Guido Capozza - Cobb Times Herald

Decade of Dominance - When Stadiums Go Bad

The Santa Fe Heat Wave suffered the same fate of every Cobb World team to attempt a run in one of the worlds most volatile stadiums, crushing defeat and fatigued pitching staffs. But it wasn't always this way for the franchise, which actually won a few division titles when it was based in Houston, and was fairly competetive during it's one year stayover in Richmond. But the lure of the offensive crackerbox that is Santa Fe drew in the team to three straight losing seasons, and some very high draft picks.

#27 - Santa Fe Heat Wave
Franchise Power Ranking: 24
Best Year: 88-74, s2 - Worst Year: 49-113, s6
Postseason Achievements: 2 Division Championships
Best Player: Javier Delgado - Delgado was the man during the then Houston Colt .45's two division championship seasons, including a .323 BA, 47 HR, 165 RBI season 1.
Best Pitcher: Ramon Li - Li is the kind of pitcher who would really just kind of fade in the the bullpen on most teams, but somehow he is the career leader in wins for the Heat Wave 49 franchise, and also racked up 21 saves.
Best International Prospect:
Hector Martinez
Best Draft Pick: Josh Price
Franchise Theme Song: Eruption by Van Halen - Perfectly encapsulates the offensive explosions that have rocked this teams pitching through the years.
Franchise Highlights: Division Champions in seasons 2 & 3, the only two times this team has made the playoffs. Won the division with a 70-92 record in season 3, the worst record for a division champion in Cobb History. Drafted future all stars Josh Price and Apollo Houston. Was managed in season 5 by joegeltz, who gave the team a the fantastic nickname of "Iron City Chip Chops."
Franchise Lowlights: Won the division in season 3 with a 70-92 record, the worst record for any division winner in Cobb history, indicative of the "Winnable AL South" era. Despite a bounty of minor league talent, the Colt .45's record never improved after season 2, including an abysmal season 4, with a franchise low 47 wins. Team was abandoned in season 6, but still won 2 more games than when the team had a manager in season 4.
Franchise Outlook: Could be worse - There are some pretty good young pitchers in the farm system, and the majority of the team is pretty young and cheap, meaning there is a lot of flexibility for the future owner to work with. While this franchise may not have the most talented major leaguers, they have enough players to win on any given day and surprise some people if they move to a park that is more pitcher friendly. If this team drafts some power hitters and another pitcher, they could be one to watch out for in 3-5 seasons.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Season Nine Playoff Preview - LCS Round

Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald

Lars was seriously wrong in the previous round when he picked Fargo and Anaheim to advance, but he has learned from his mistakes and will never pick the Fug Nuts in the first round again. This round features a two new voices for the American League, one powerhouse from the NL, and a team that is enjoying a massive run in it's first playoffs. It should make for some entertaining baseball to say the least, and Lars has done his level best to make sense of it all.

American League

#2 Pawtucket G-Maniacs (101-61_ vs. #5 Helena Hellraisers (99-63)
Overview: It's a battle of the bridesmaids in the ALCS this season as Anaheim's whipping boys get their chance to make it to the World Series for the first time for one of these two teams, which between them have 8 LCS appearances and no World Series to show for it. Dean Hernandez carried the G-Maniacs past Scranton in the DCS, and Albert Franco continued his history of playoff choke jobs and almost lost it for the G's. Helena finally made it past Anaheim behind some good pitching, timely hitting, and a vacation by the manager. These two teams are pretty evenly matched on paper, but Pawtucket has Hernandez, who can almost win this entire series by himself.
Prediction: Pawtucket in 7 - Lars is playing the odds on this one, as Pawtucket has been to 6 LCS's, and Helena only 2. Lars is pretty sure that the 7th time will be the charm for the G's, especially considering how dominant Hernandez has been in the playoffs thus far.

National League

#1 Omaha Sluggers (112-50) vs. #3 Wichita Wankers (105-57)

Overview: Omaha came back from a 2-0 deficit in the DCS to run off 3 straight wins and stun the St. Louis HoundDogs behind the pitching of Kazuhiro Ong and their powerful bats. It had to have been frustrating for the Dogs, who were eliminated in a game 5 by Ong two years in a row. But Omaha has been there and done that, and they know how to win. The Wankers took advantage of a typical Fargo playoff outing to sweep the more talented (on paper) Fug Nuts and advance to the LCS. Now the real test begins for Wichita, who will have to play a team that is superior in talent and has been to two straight World Series, winning one of them. It should come down to whether or not Wichita's pitching can contain Jose Barrios and the rest of the Sluggers lineup, which can erupt for 7+ runs against nearly any pitcher. Plus, Kaz Ong can pitch up to three games in one series, which is not a good prospect for the opposition.
Prediction: Omaha in 6 - Wichita is young and good, but Omaha has been the class of the NL the past two seasons, and should finally put an end to the upstart Wankers.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Decade of Dominance - Charlotte Dogs

Chuck Biscuits - Cobb Times Herald

Decade of Dominance - Close but no Cigar

The Charlotte Dogs have been a battling franchise from the beginning of Cobb World. The only time the team has won less than 60 games was when it was abandoned in season 1. Since then they have managed to put together a series of close but not quite there campaigns that fall just short of a winning season. The team has been very aggressive in trying new strategies to field a winning team, which may be the reason why they have yet to fulfill their promise, as they have been quick to pull the trigger at times. But still, this franchise is solid, and just needs a few tweaks before things start to fall into place.

#28 - Charlotte Dogs
Franchise Power Ranking: 21
Best Year: 81-81, s7 - Worst Year: 54-108, s1
Postseason Achievements: None
Best Player: Woody Olerud - Was a the most consistent performer in the first five years of the Dogs history, and a very productive hitter during that tenure.
Best Pitcher: James Morris - The Dogs are not a franchise rich in pitching history, but Morris was a consistent winner for the first 4 years of the team, and is their career leader in wins with 39.
Best International Prospect:
Jose Cervantes
Best Draft Pick: Wayne Wilson
Franchise Theme Song: Die With Your Boots On by Iron Maiden
Franchise Highlights: Drafted Wayne Wilson with the # 2 overall pick in the season 1 draft. Franchise also drafted future ML players Andres Quixote, Raymond Adams, and Ariel Cervantes. Franchise has been active in the FA market in attempts to field winning teams, with varied success. Franchise has not been afraid to make big trades, including deals that involved Jaime Beimel, Vernon Jones, Jim Green, Jose Cervantes, and others. The_Kid was awarded manager of the year in season 6.
Franchise Lowlights: Franchise has never made the playoffs, and never topped .500. The team was abandoned in season 1. Franchise was involved in a scandal in season 9 concerning the waiving of 2b Jim Green. Franchise was unable to capitalize on the era of the "Winnable AL South," when the division champion finished with a losing record.
Franchise Outlook: A fighting chance - Charlotte has always made every attempt to produce a winning lineup through trades, free agent signings, and careful use of the waiver wire. The Dogs have always kept a steady infusion of young talent to offset their veteran FA signings, and one of these seasons it will pay off. While Charlotte has yet to produce a winning team, they are making every effort to do so, and it is a matter of when, not if, it will pay off.

Decade of Dominance - Philadelphia Floppin' Phils

Tito McQueen - Cobb Times Herald

Decade of Dominance - Rhymes With Futile

The Philadelphia Floppin' Phils have had one of the most troubled histories in Cobb World, but have made strides towards a winning record under the leadership of notorious franchise flip flopper phillyfan33. The Floppin Phils team holds the Cobb World record for the worst season in league history, and was been abandoned several times in it early years. Recently a surge of offseason free agent signings has brought hope at the beginning of the last few seasons, but they have had yet to pan out into a winning team.

#29 - Philadelphia Floppin' Phils
Franchise Power Ranking: 18.5
Best Year: 79-83, s8 - Worst Year: 29-133, s2
Postseason Achievements: None
Best Player: Jose Barrios - In his only season with the Phils, who were then in St. Louis, Barrios set nearly every offensive record for the team.
Best Pitcher: Marty Leary - Leary had a magical season 6 for the franchise, winning 17 games, and is one short of the franchise leader in career wins with 25.
Best International Prospect:
Rafael Borges
Best Draft Pick: Corey Green
Franchise Theme Song: You're Pitiful by Weird Al Yankovic
Franchise Highlights: Drafted Jamie Beimel with the #1 overall pick in season 5. Franchise also drafted all stars Skeeter Robinson, Corey Green, and Steven Booker. Franchise has been moved to more cities than possibly any other team in Cobb World, including stops in Madison, Philadelphia (twice), St. Louis, and Ottawa.
Franchise Lowlights: Franchise has never made the playoffs, and never had a winning season. Only Beimel remains with the team of the Phil's best draft picks. Rumors abound that the franchise will leave Philadelphia for another city in the near future. Superfan Sal Lovechio brought his potato gun to a game to shoot at the manager and the mascot. Franchise set a Cobb World record for worst season with a 29 win campaign in season 2.
Franchise Outlook: Radical, as in radical change. The Phil's dumped millions of dollars in salary to creat massive cap room and brought in numerous young players in season 9 after their free agent expirament at becoming Pawtucket II failed miserably. The future looks bright for the lineup, but Philly still has no real pitching staff to speak of, which will impede the growth of the franchise until that situation changes.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Season Nine Playoff Preview - DCS Round

Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald

American League

#1 Anaheim Sharks (110-52) vs. #5 Helena Hellraisers (99-63)
Overview: Once again it these two AL West rivals meet with a chance to move on in the playoffs. Each time Anaheim has owned the Hellraisers, although there have been enough changes in Helena's lineup to make this a different matchup this time around. New addition Hades Booker brings an added dimension to the Hellraiser lineup, which has been previously shut down by the lights out Anaheim pitching staff. As for Anaheim, what can be said that hasn't already been said? Their pitching once again has Cy Young candidates, their lineup is full of MVP's, and they have more all stars than Afghanistan has problems.
Prediction: Anaheim in 5 - Helena brings more to the table this year, but the Sharks players are all still in their prime and producing like there is no tomorrow. Once again Helena is the red haired bastard stepchild of the AL West.

#2 Pawtucket G-Maniacs (101-61) vs. #6 Scranton Dragons (94-68)
Overview: The Dragons dethroned the reigning World Champions in their advancement to the next round, and now face former Dragon Dean Hernandez and the G-Maniacs. The G's have always been very good, but suprised the league with their 101 win season after the massive free agent exodus at the beginning of the year. Both teams are equal in talent in both the rotation and the lineup, so this is looking like a series that will be defined on star quality. If Dean Hernandez can do what Dean does best, which is throw 2 complete game shutouts in 3 games, then it is over for the Dragons. But if Ken Puffer "The Magic Dragon" can put a dent in Pawtuckets rotation, then it could easily go the other way.
Prediction: Pawtucket in 5 - It's a toss-up, but Lars thinks that Pawtucket is due for a world series berth, and could do it this season behind their elite rotation.

National League

#1 Omaha Sluggers (112-50) vs. #5 St. Louis HoundDogs (98-64)

Overview: Omaha once again was the class of the National League, cruising to the #1 seed behind the talents of Kaz Ong and crew. St. Louis finished second in the NL East, the toughest division in the NL this season. St. Louis has to be classified as the underdog in this series, as Omaha's pitching is not something anyone wants to face in the playoffs. But St. Louis has some pitching of it's own that is very good, including former Slugger B.C. Steenstra, who has proven he can get it done in the playoffs. Lars still thinks that Sean Hill is overrated, but he keeps proving Lars wrong with every passing season. If there is a weak link on the Omaha team, Lars can't see it. St. Louis's only hope is that they get lucky in a game vs. Ong, and can pull out a few of the others behind their pitching with some timely hitting.
Prediction: Omaha in 4 - Ultimately Lars thinks that Omaha just brings too much to the table for St. Louis to handle. St. Louis is young and getting better every season, but Omaha is still top dog, and will keep the HoundDogs begging for scraps for at least one more year.

#2 Fargo Fug Nuts (107-55) vs. #3 Wichita Wankers (105-57)
Overview: The Fug Nuts once again owned the NL North and posted a 100+ win season, which is nothing new to the NL despite the constant personel changes in Fargo. Wichita's youth movement finally broke through in a huge way this season with the Wankers breaking the 100 win barrier and winning the NL's toughest division. Wichita took out fellow NL East member and playoff vet team Syracuse en route to a matchup with Fargo, and looks ready to continue their playoff rookie run. But Fargo has always had the players, and Corey Green still powers a titanic lineup in Fargo, and Wichita's strength is it's lineup, not it's pitching staff. The pitching for the Fug Nuts may not be as dominant as in past seasons, but if the game gets to Kirk White, it's over for Wichita. Wichita is slightly outclassed on paper, but the Fug Nuts are notorious for underachievement in the playoffs.
Prediction: Fargo in 4 - Pitching wins in the playoffs, and that is where Wichita can't compete with Fargo, who has a superior staff and the best closer in the game. It was a nice run by the young Wankers, but Lars sees the veteran Fug Nuts putting them in their place.

Decade of Dominance - Seattle Seacows

Buster Gunns - Cobb Times Herald

Decade of Dominance - Dude, Who Stole My Draft Picks?

The Seattle Seacows started life in Cobb World as a playoff contender known as the Tacoma Boogity Boogity Boogity. Despite their gutwrenchingly awful name, the franchise had one of the most gifted pitching staffs in the league. Then they lost on a tiebreaker for a playoff spot, and everything collapsed after that, bringing in an era of franchise abandonment, high draft picks, and losing records. Owner stability has helped to keep this team drafting well, but those picks have not paid off with a winning record yet, but there is hope for the future.

#30 - Seattle Seacows
Franchise Power Ranking: 18
Best Year: 93-69, s1 - Worst Year: 44-118, s9
Postseason Achievements: None
Best Player: Bobby Griffin - Griffin is the only player in Seacows history to post a single season OPS above 1.000, with a 1.049 in season 1.
Best Pitcher: Bernie Wyatt - Wyatt is the only 20 game winner in Seacows history, and was the best pitcher on the team for the first half of the decade.
Best International Prospect:
Rico Cruz
Best Draft Pick: James Cole
Franchise Theme Song: Where Have All the Good Times Gone by Van Halen
Franchise Highlights: Finished tied for 1st place in season 1, but missed the playoffs in a disputed tiebreaker. Season 1's starting rotation featured Bernie Wyatt, B.C. Steenstra, and Nate Rodgers. Seattle has been one of the best drafting teams in Cobb history, with picks such as Elvis Christman, James Cole, Zephyr Burns, Roger Sanders, Pedro Chavez, Trent Billingsley, Larry Sabel, and Reggie Serafini.
Franchise Lowlights: Missing the playoffs in what seemed to be a winning tiebreaker in season 1 was a bummer. The franchise was abandoned in season 2 during its stint in Honolulu. The_Kid was a manager of this team for season 3. Only James Cole remains on the Seacows team from the laundry list of talented draft picks listed above. Franchise posted a record low win total of 44 in season 9.
Franchise Outlook: Iffy. Seattle is a franchise in flux, it has lots of young talent, but none of the players seem like they will arrive within a year or two of each other. A trickle of talent to the majors is ok for franchises with lots of veteran talent, but not for a team where the best players are all under 26. Once the draft picks start arriving in droves then Seattle should get on the upswing, especially if they keep their high picks through their entire development.

Decade of Dominance - Tacoma Jerry Gang

Cortez Mack - Cobb Times Herald

Decade of Dominance - The Perils of Abandonment

Today's franchise profile in the Decade of Dominance series is the Tacoma Jerry Gang. Starting off life in Cobb World as the Oakland Frozen Koreans, they were actually a pretty competetive team, and showed great promise. But the sudden disappearance of original owner FrozenK destroyed the team, and it is still suffering to this day, although it is making it's way through the 12 steps of recovery quite nicely.

#31 - Tacoma Jerry Gang

Franchise Power Ranking: 18
Best Year: 91-71, s2 - Worst Year: 36-126, s7
Postseason Achievements: None
Best Player: Robin Gordon - Gordon had 1,188 hits with the Jerry Gang, almost double the next highest total. Gordon also holds the franchise record in HR's with 285, and was the driving force for the franchises offense for many seasons.
Best Pitcher: Don Ong - Ong may not have been an all star, but he is as close to an ace that there is to be found in the history of the team. His heyday was back during the era when the Frozen Koreans were still managed competently.
Best International Prospect: Victor Gandarillas
Best Draft Pick: Brandon Miller
Franchise Theme Song: Alone by the Bee Gees - A fitting theme song for a franchise that started off with promise and was then left alone in the halls of abandonment.
Franchise Highlights: As the Frozen Koreans they posted a 91 win season 2, but still finished in 3rd place in the division. The only franchise to boast 3 #1 overall picks in Cobb World history.
Franchise Lowlights: The abandonment of the franchise by original owner FrozenK in season 3 seriously crippled the team, which is still feeling the effects. A franchise low 36 win season was posted by one and done owner mfoster55 in season 7. Only one pitcher has posted a season of 15 wins or more, Tim Woodson in season 2.
Franchise Outlook: Not that bad actually. Under the steady hand of dwoolery, the Jerry Gang has had some solid drafts and restocked the farm system with many talented prospects. They are still a few seasons away at this point, but when the current collection of youngsters hits the majors, some very good seasons should arrive for the long suffering fans of the Tacoma franchise.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Decade of Dominance - Toledo Tsunamis

Chuck Biscuits - Cobb Times Herald

Decade of Dominance - Casey at the Bat Award

In the first part of our Decade of Dominance project, the Times Herald is examining the franchises who were unfortunate enough to have a decade they would like to forget. Bad management, freak injuries, fire sales, player mediocrity, bad trades, and outright abandonment are the hallmarks of the teams profiled today. There were a few good moments to be sure, but they are few and far between for the bottom feeders of Cobb World. In celebration of the worst of the worst, and the winner of the prestigious but entirely unwanted Casey at the Bat Award, we kick off the Decade of Dominance with a look at the worst team in Cobb History, the Toledo Tsunamis.

#32 - Toledo Tsunamis
Franchise Power Ranking: 17
Best Year: 78-84, s5 - Worst Year: 33-129, s1
Postseason Achievements: None
Best Player: Sammy Maduro - Maduro holds pretty much every single season record for the Tsunamis, even though he only played for them a year and a half.
Best Pitcher: Shayne Campbell - He wasn't in Toledo long, but he was awesome when he was.
Best International Prospect: Louie Lee
Best Draft Pick: Ron Reilly
Franchise Theme Song: Rv by Faith No More - Choice lyrics from a great song, "I think it's time I had a talk with my kids / I'll just tell 'em what my daddy told me / YOU AIN'T NEVER GONNA AMOUNT TO NOTHIN!"
Franchise Highlights: Doug Moore threw a no hitter in season 1, the annual fire sale made the blog in season 7, the drafting of SP Ron Reilly was a very good pick, and Enrique Guardado was the #1 overall pick in season 2.
Franchise Lowlights: Pretty much the entirety of season 1, when the team was abandoned and didn't sign any of it's draft picks, crippling the team for the future. Guardado was traded and is now an MVP candidate for Nashville. Walter Stewart, Dennis Ashby, and Reilly have also been traded from the franchise. Toledo has never had a winning season.
Franchise Outlook: Wait til' next year - the Tsunamis are slowly (very slowly) but surely recovering from the talent disasters that have been previous seasons and now have a verifiable plan to bring prospects up in a group, as opposed to the piecemeal tactics of the past. An actual winning season is on the horizon, perhaps in 3-5 years.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Jim Green Waives Goodbye to Charlotte

Tito McQueen - Cobb Times Herald

Fans in Charlotte were stunned earlier this week by the sudden disappearance of talented infielder and career .300 hitter Jim Green. Green, who had been the regular 2B for the Dogs, wasn't in the lineup for Charlotte's Sept. 2 game vs. the Toronto Blue Jays, which led to much confusion around the league. Speculation was rampant that Green had been horribly injured, kidnapped, or worse, so the "Greenbacks" Green's superfan club pooled their resources to hire Dog the Bounty Hunter to track down their favorite player.

Jim Green
Age: 29B/T: R/R
Born: Las Cruces, NM
Position(s): 2B/1B/LF/DH
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

Duane "Dog" Chapman, known for his controversial reality TV show, was looking for business after his show was on hiatus for his use of a racial slur. "I really need the work, and you better believe I was going find the target because times have been rough for me and the team lately. Any money is good money, and besides, it looks like it takes a Dog to catch a Dog!" In addition to hiring out Chapman, the Greenbacks also initiated a campaign to put Jim Greens face on milk cartons across the state of North Carolina. "Green has a very memorable face, I thought that if we put it up on billboards and milk cartons we were sure to get a hit on it," said fan club president Jake Graves, who continued, "I would have put an Amber Alert out for him as well, but since he isn't a minor the authorities wouldn't let me do it."

All of these plans came to naught however after Cobb League authorities announced that instead of meeting some awful fate, Green had merely been claimed off of waivers by the Syracuse Beagles. A fierce debate then ensued as to whether the GM of the Dogs, former Manager of the Year The_Kid, had the right to put players on waivers or not. The consensus from an emergency league meeting was the The_Kid did have the right to actually run his team as he saw fit, but was in fact suffering from "issues" for not seeking to trade him to division arch-rival Atlanta first, or any other team second. Charlotte Dogs PR representative Nicole Leach issued a statement to the press in an impromptu conference, saying, "The Charlotte Dogs are entirely within their rights to waive an overpaid corner infielder who is only slightly more productive than a player half of his salary. We in the Charlotte organization are quite thrilled that Syracuse now has the burden of 18 million dollars in contractual obligations for a position where they are already overstocked with talent. We plan on using the money to pursue a different direction in player talent and a new gas grill for the clubhouse barbecue."

As for Green, when reached for comment, he said, "I can't believe that I was just waived and tossed away like I was some sort of used kleenex. I have value, can't they see that? Don't they know that this makes me feel worthless inside, like I have nothing to give, like I am some sort of piece of meat? I am distraught, and it's a good thing I have a solid makeup or otherwise I might be devastated completely by something like this."

When news of the waiver claim hit the Greenbacks fan club, there was confusion and outrage among the membership, as well as legal problems for the organization. The fans were shocked that the Dogs would release the multitalented Green, and were staging a letter campaign to discredit the Dogs organization, and a general boycott of Charlotte baseball. Also, Dog Chapman is now suing the Greenbacks for the money promised in his contract, which the Greenbacks claim that they do not need to pay because Green was found later in Syracuse by league authorities, and was actually never lost. Proceedings are expected to go through small claims court soon. Club President Graves is also facing a vote of no-confidence by the membership, and is expected to be sacked at next weeks fan club meeting.