Thursday, October 30, 2008

Decade of Dominance - Wichita Wankers

Tito McQueen - Cobb Times Herald

Decade of Dominance - Delivering the Goods
The Wichita Wankers were originally the Indianapolis Iron Brigade, but no one remebers that team since the franchise moved to Wichita in season 2 and has stayed put ever since. During that 8 year span the Wankers have slowly but surely built one of the most formidible rosters currently seen in the league. Players like 40/40 man Grant Keats and Cy Young winner Davey Silva make this team a force to be reckoned with.

#19 - Wichita Wankers
Franchise Power Ranking: 32
Best Year: 105-57, s9 - Worst Year: 50-112, s3
Postseason Achievements: 1 Division Title
Best Player: Vasco Chantres - From seasons 4-9, Chantres was the rock in the Wankers lineup, hitting 222 home runs
Best Pitcher: Davey Silva - Silva's Cy Young & ROY winning season 9 was as close to perfect as you can get, and he is one of the contenders to knock King Ong off his throne as best pitcher in the league.
Best International Prospect:
Tony Cho
Best Draft Pick: Grant Keats
Franchise Theme Song: Delivering the Goods by Judas Priest - The franchise patiently waited through seasons of intelligent draft picks and international signings, and the kids paid off in a big way with a 105 win season 9.
Franchise Highlights: Franchise recorded a team high 105 wins in season 9, winning the NL East and earning the teams first playoff appearance. Grant Keats became the second 40/40 player in league history in season 8. Franchise made several very nice trades to bring in talent like Davey Silva and Vasco Chantres. Franchise has been one of the best developers of talent in Cobb history, with players including Keats, Tanner Durham, Louis King, Dorian Woolf, Cho, Ignacio Lopez, and Victor Johnson.
Franchise Lowlights: Franchise recorded a team low 50 win season 3. Team failed to sign it's first round draft pick in season 1. Until season 9, franchise finished no higher than 3rd in the division.
Franchise Outlook: After last years 105 win season and nice playoff run, it is hard to say that the future is anything but bright at this point, especially when you consider that there is still another wave of minor leaguers that has yet to be brought up for the Wankers. The NL East is a very tough division, but the Wankers have the players now to give as good as they get and then some. They may have a bit of an arbitration nightmare in a few seasons, but that's the price you pay for success.

Decade of Dominance - Richmond Cohibas

Cortez Mack - Cobb Times Herald

Decade of Dominance - When Good Teams Go Bad
Once upon a time the Richmond Cohibas were known as the Mexico City Aguilas, and were one of the teams that made the NL South the dominant division of it's time, when you consider that a 100 win team could only finish in 3rd place. But those days are long gone, and the now Cohibas have put together a string of awful finishes that are the equal of any sad story ever told. The lone bright spot to the recent years of futility is that the Cohibas have been able amass one of the most talented farm systems in the league, so at least the future is bright.

#20 - Richmond Cohibas
Franchise Power Ranking: 29
Best Year: 100-62, s2 - Worst Year: 33-129, s6
Postseason Achievements: 2 Wild Card Berths, 1 DCS victory.
Best Player: Ernie Jenkins - Jenkins won an MVP, a Gold Glove, and had 2 All Star appearances during his first stint with the franchise.
Best Pitcher: Willie Costilla - Costilla was the #1 starter for the franchise during it's playoff years, and a very solid high control pitcher.
Best International Prospect:
Geronimo Liriano
Best Draft Pick: Benji Ordonez
Franchise Theme Song: Good Lovin' Gone Bad by Bad Company - The Cohibas went from a 100 win team to 33 wins in three seasons, perhaps the worst decline in Cobb history.
Franchise Highlights: Franchise had two Wild Card appearances and a DCS victory in season 2. Recorded a franchise record 100 wins in season 2. Ernie Jenkins won the NL MVP in season 3. Franchise drafted Benji Ordonez with the #1 overall pick in season 7. Franchise has had a very good history of drafting and international prospects, signing such players as Al Morales, Liriano, Ordonez, Darrin Barkley, Dick Wolf, Pete Brantley, and many other talented players.
Franchise Lowlights: Franchise has never finished higher than 3rd in the NL South. Franchise hasn't won more than 60 games in a season since season 4. Franchise recorded a team low 33 win season 6. Franchise failed to sign super stud pitcher Eric Houck with the #1 pick in season 9. Including Houck, the franchise has failed to sign 4 first round picks.
Franchise Outlook: Just add pitching - Richmond's years of reaping draft picks and international prospects are starting to come to fruition as the prospects reach the majors. But the failure to sign Houck really hurt this team in its area of greatest need, starting pitching. As great as the teams signings have been, the Cohibas still lack a #1 pitcher. With the move of Jerry Ross to the bullpen, there is a big hole at the front of the Cohibas rotation that will keep them from making the playoffs until it is filled. But with Huntington also lacking top notch pitching, and Jackson and Louisville starting major rebuilding projects, the playoffs could soon be within reach.

Decade of Dominance - Iowa City Corn Dogs

Chuck Biscuits - Cobb Times Herald

Decade of Dominance - On Life Support
The Iowa City Corn Dogs started their life in Cobb World as the Vancouver Wolfpack 22. Under the leadership of original owner ht44601 the team won the NL West in season 2, and improved for season 3 before losing out to the beginnings of the Omaha dynasty by two games. From there the franchise started a slow but steady decline through poor drafts and questionble signings. A series of one and done owners after ht44601 left the league sealed the deal for the franchise, putting it in a baseball coma. Current owner hokiesno1 has started the process of bringing this team back to life, but it will understandably take some time.

#21 - Iowa City Corn Dogs
Franchise Power Ranking: 26.5
Best Year: 90-72, s3 - Worst Year: 61-101, s9
Postseason Achievements: 1 Division Championship
Best Player: Albert Conception - Conception was a 4 time all star, won 2 gold gloves, and was a silver slugger at the CF position during the franchises glory days.
Best Pitcher: Luis Matos - Matos was the most consistent pitcher in the rotation for the franchise for 9 seasons, even if he was never elite.
Best International Prospect:
Victor Romano
Best Draft Pick: Carl Alexander
Franchise Theme Song: Pull the Plug by Death - A succession of one and done owners put the franchise on life support, and after the misery of a franchise low season 9, some fans probably wanted to just get it over with.
Franchise Highlights: Won the NL West with an 82-80 season 2. Recorded a franchise high 90 win season 3. Drafted future star Carl Alexander in season 9.
Franchise Lowlights: Franchise hasn't had a winning record since season 4. Recorded a franchise low 61 win season 9. Many of the teams first round draft picks have been busts, including Fernando Coronado, Bruce Coleridge, Harry Rios, Paxton Riggs, and Sherm Dixon. A series of one and done owners and poor drafts left the team in bad shape for current owner hokies
Franchise Outlook: Down for a while, but not out. The future of the franchise is in the minors, and it's name is Carl Alexander. Easily the best prospect in the franchise, he could anchor a solid core of players in the bigs in 3-4 seasons. But the odds are it will take that amount of time to get this team back on top of the NL West. Current owner hokiesno1 has been a solid drafter and talent developer, but it will take time to resurrect the team from the mediocrity it had sunk into when he took it over.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Season 10 Preview - AL and NL West

NL West

Omaha Sluggers (112-50) 1st place
Question: Will the Sluggers make it 4 consecutive World Series appearances this season?
Answer: There are no weak links in Omaha, the Sluggers are loaded in the lineup and the rotation.
Player to watch: Kazuhiro Ong - Everyone knows Ong is good, which is why he is fun to watch as he blazes a path to the Hall of Fame.
Outlook: 110-52 - 1st place. The more things change in the rest of the league, the more they stay the same in Omaha. There was very little turnover in Omaha, which is a good thing because this team still has world championship potential. Barrios and Ong get all the headlines, but the rest of the team is elite as well.

Seattle Seacows (44-118) 4th place
Question: Will the infusion of veterans into the lineup pay off with wins?
Answer: Luis Escuela and Diego Nieto may be past their prime, but they are still very good hitters and make the Seattle lineup better than it has been in the past.
Player to watch: Brook Lennon - If the young pitcher can overcome his control issues he could be the ace of the staff.
Outlook: 74-88 - 2nd place. Seattle paid for some quality veterans in the offseason and made a few trades to shore up their ML team which should give them a slight edge in the race for 2nd place in the NL West. If Rico Cruz can hit enough to support Nieto and Escula, and Pascual Mendoza is solid in the rotation, this should be a pretty competitive team.

Iowa City Corn Dogs (61-101) 2nd place
Question: Will the starting pitching be able to handle right handed hitting?
Answer: Curtis Chase will be counted on to star in the field and in the heart of the order.
Player to watch: Brady Van Pelt - There isn't much power in the Corn Dogs lineup, and Van Pelt will be expected to provide the bulk of it.
Outlook: 62-100 - 3rd place. Iowa City made the decision to put it's future in the hands of the minor leagues, so that is where the bulk of the franchises talents lie. But there are enough players on the ML squad to make them dangerous, but not enough to pose a real threat. Until The Corn Dogs get some bigger hitters, they won't seriously contend.

Honolulu Islanders (59-103) 3rd place
Question: Where will the pitching come from?
Answer: In addition to being featured in Subway ads a few years back, Clay Henry owns lefties, and should be solid in the lineup this season.
Player to watch: Lou Brow - The development of this young pitcher is very important to the future of the team. He may not have the best season this year, but he needs to show progress none the less.
Outlook: 61-101 - 4th place - Honolulu continues to develop it's youth, so they won't challenge this season, which is just as well because Omaha has a lock on the division. But they are positioned nicely to ascend once Omaha starts to age. Look out for the Islanders in another few seasons.

AL West

Anaheim Sharks (110-52) 1st place
Question: Will rookie Sammy Bennett be able to replace 2 time MVP Ernie Jenkins in LF?
Answer: The solid farm system of the Sharks has ensure that they don't miss a beat when their stars age out.
Player to watch: Olmedo Contreras - At 36 years, he may be known as Oldmedo, but he is still talented enough to win 15-20 games.
Outlook: 109-53 - 1st place. Anaheim is the counterpart to Omaha in the NL West, a team that dominates its division and shows no sign of letting up, even as it's players age and are replaced. It is a testament to the quality of management that they remain this competetive year in and year out.

Helena Hellraisers (99-63) 2nd place
Question: Will the Hellraisers be able to keep pace with the Sharks and hold off the youth movement in Vancouver?
Answer: With Orber Olivo feeling the effects of age, Thomas Hill will be the rock in the Hellraiser lineup.
Player to watch: Alex Presley - The talented rookie will be counted on to produce and help offset the loss of Hades Booker and Patrick Lamb.
Outlook - 93-69 - 2nd place. The Hellraisers outperformed Lars' predictions last season, but the loss of Lamb and Booker coupled with the decline of Olivo means the lineup won't be quite as potent. Helena should still challenge for a wildcard spot though.

Vancouver Grizzlies (82-80) 3rd place
Question: Can the Grizzlies new arrivals pack enough punch to get past the Hellraisers?
Answer: Patrick Stanton is still the centerpiece of the Vancouver team, and will be counted on to anchor the lineup and guide the young pitching staff.
Player to watch: The Rookies - There are so many young players making their first appearance at the ML level that they bear watching as a group. How they adapt will determine the season for Vancouver.
Outlook: 82-80 - 3rd place. This season should serve as an opportunity for their young players to learn the game, and see what it takes to beat consistent AL West powers Anaheim and Helena. Further improvement should happen next season, but this year they just aren't quite ready yet to challenge for the division.

Tacoma Jerry Gang (64-98) 4th place
Question: Can the Jerry Gang draft some hitting this season to go along with their pitching prospects?
Answer: The minor leagues keep getting deeper and deeper with every season, soon it will pay off at the ML level.
Player to watch: Victor Gandarillas - his record may not show it due to lack of support, but he has been a very solid pitcher in the majors, and probably cannot wait for the minor leaguers to finally make it to the bigs.
Outlook: 67-95 - 4th place. Tacoma has some pretty good pitching in the minors, but they are still a year or two away at this point. But there is hope, as 3B prospect Brandon Miller is almost ready and could provide the offense with a needed jolt if he is called up this season. In the meantime it looks like another season of talent gathering and waiting for Anaheim and Helena to get older.

Season 10 Preview - AL and NL South

NL South

Huntington Hillbillies (87-75) 2nd place
Question: Will this be the season the Hillbillies rebuilding process pays off with a division title?
Answer: The line up is almost as good as the season 1 & 2 glory days, and should produce buckets of runs.
Player to watch: Quilvio Suarez has had several seasons to adapt to the bigs, now it's time for him to produce like he is capable of.
Outlook: 95-67 - 1st place. With the restructuring going on in Louisville and Jackson, and with Richmond still not ready, this is the year for the Hillbillies to reclaim the throne in the NL South. They finally have just enough pitching to get them by, and their lineup is as deadly as any in the league.

Louisville Tysons (89-73) 1st place
Question: How will the team adapt to the loss of former MVP and franchise legend Dallas Kline, and former Cy Young David Rosado?
Answer: CF Emmanuel Castillo is the new face of the franchise, and is a run scoring leadoff machine.
Player to watch: Roosevelt Lowell - the aging Lowell is now the best hitter on the team, and the Tysons will be depending on him to anchor their lineup.
Outlook: 86-76 - 2nd place. Big changes are happening in Louisville, and the leftovers from their playoff teams of the last few seasons will be competitive enough to achieve a winning record, but you don't replace the players they lost overnight.

Jackson Pollocks (78-84) 3rd place
Question: How quickly will the Pollocks rebuild after their offseason house cleaning?
Answer: The minors are now where the answer lies for the Pollocks, as the rebuilding process begins in earnest.
Player to watch: Woody Olerud will be counted on to mentor the young players on the big league squad after offseason exodus of their veteran core.
Outlook: 71-91 - 3rd place. Last season was the first losing year in franchise history, and the management decided to wholely embrace rebuilding for the future in light of that. It will be hard to replace the power of Domingo Montana and the wins of Eddie Rivers, so Lars sees a further decline at the ML level.

Richmond Cohibas (53-109) 4th place
Question: Will the Cohibas improving ML lineup top 65 wins?
Answer: Finally the talented signings and draft picks of past seasons are making the big league roster, and the Cohibas will be competitive this season.
Player to watch: Ernie Jenkins - Richmond made a big statement in signing 2 time MVP Ernie Jenkins, who will be expected to anchor the lineup and mentor the youth.
Outlook: 70-92 - 4th place. The Cohibas should finally start to make strides towards the top of the division, although Lars still thinks they are a year away at this point. Still the 30-40 win seasons of the past will be a distant memory by seasons end as the Cohibas finally start to bring it at the ML level.

AL South

Nashville Rebel Riders (95-67) 2nd place
Question: Will the Rebel Riders continue their ascension and top 100 wins?
Answer: Enrique Guardado established himself as a true force with a very good season 9, and looks to continue that pace in season 10.
Player to watch: Dallas Kline - he may no longer be the most talented player on his team, but the future HOF'er may still have one more good season left.
Outlook: 96-66 - 1st place. Nashville is a very solid team and clearly has the best pitching staff in the AL South, when complemented by their improved lineup should equal another division title.

Mexico City Diablos Rojos (79-83) 2nd place
Question: Will Mexico Cities pitching be able to keep up with their improved lineup?
Answer: The signings of Hades Booker and Domingo Montana seriously improved the Diablos lineup, to the point where it is the equal of most other teams in the league.
Player to watch: Eric Collins - This might be the season that the mustache of Eric Collins makes it's ML debut, much to the chagrin of opposing batters.
Outlook: 88-74 - 2nd place. Mexico City really upgraded their team with Booker and Montana, and if the pitching can keep pace, especially if Collins hits the bigs, then a division title isn't out of the question. But for the moment Lars still thinks that Nashville has a better rotation and thus a better shot.

Charlotte Dogs (76-86) 3rd place
Question: How long can Geoffrey Gates keep it going at an elite level?
Answer: Bo Rhodes should own lefties in the AL, and power the Charlotte offense.
Player to watch: Abraham Traynor - A good portion of the Dogs offense will depend on whether Traynor can avoid a sophomore slump and produce to his potential.
Outlook: 72-90 - 3rd place. The Dogs will play with a team pride unequalled by any other in the league, and that should keep them in every game they play. But ultimately more teams have spent more money, and with many of Charlotte's best talent being located in the minors, this season will go to Mexico City and Nashville. But as everyone in the league knows, the Commissioner is a shining beacon of baseball hope, and that alone should inspire his team to greater heights in the future.

Kansas City Express (65-97) 4th place
Question: How will the fans in Kansas City react to losing a horrible team just as it was about to start winning for another team that looks like it has a long way to go?
Answer: Willie Kotsay will thrill the fans with his solid work at the plate, both at bat and in catchers gear.
Player to watch: R. J. Hunt - Will the enigmatic leadoff man post a respectable batting average, or will he hover around .200 again?
Outlook: 65-97 - 4th place. As the rebuilding continues in a new home for the Express, fans need to be patient while the minor leaguers hone their skills. Still, there is enough talent on the ML team to win any given day, which should be enough of an improvement to please the fans in Kansas City this year.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Season 9 Preview - AL and NL East

NL East

Wichita Wankers (105-57) 3rd place
Question: Can the Wankers build on last years successful season and make it even further in the playoffs?
Answer: Davey Silva put together one of the all time great seasons in Cobb history last season earning All Star, ROY, Silver Slugger, and Cy Young honors.
Player to watch: Silva - after the season he put together last year, everyone will be watching him to see if he can match it.
Outlook: 98-64 - 1st place. The Wankers came together and used Lars' prediction as bulletin board material, bettering his guess by 14 games en route to the division championship. They should once again challenge for the title, but the rest of the division is keeping pace. Lars thinks Wichita will repeat, but it will be close.

Syracuse Beagles (92-70) 3rd place
Question: Can the Beagles new additions put the team over the top?
Answer: The Beagles lineup gets getting younger and more talented, this season with the arrival of Paul Jung and Jamie Beimel.
Player to watch: Ron Reilly - all eyes will be on the stud pitching prospect when he makes it to the big leagues, in all likelihood before the all star break.
Outlook: 97-65 - 2nd place. With the ejection of underperforming stars like Jose Cervantes in favor of proven talents like Beimel, the Beagles went a long way towards first place in the division. With a talent level on par with any team in the league, Syracuse could easily take the division in what should be Cobb Worlds toughest race this year.

St. Louis HoundDogs (98-64) 2nd place
Question: How long until the HoundDogs payroll catches up with them?
Answer: Rico Romero showed the team that he's still the boss with a nice season in the field and at the plate.
Player to watch: Does B.C. Steenstra have one more all star season left in the tank?
Outlook: 96-63 - 3rd place. Lars thinks St. Louis will find themselves in Syracuse's position this year, winning 90+ games but finishing in 3rd behind two great teams in a very deep division. But they still might make the playoffs regardless.

Atlanta Pitbulls (79-83) 4th place
Question: Will new additions Corey Green and Wesley Hull be enough to replace Louie Tarraga?
Answer: The Atlanta OF is as talented as any in the league with O.T. Jarvis, Hawk Gutierrez, and Brook Colin patrolling the field and protecting the plate.
Player to watch: Big things are expected from Corey Green, who replaces MVP and fan favorite Louie Tarraga.
Outlook: 81-81 4th place. Durham has the lineup to compete with the rest of the NL East, but not the pitching, meaning yet another 4th place finish for the Pitbulls even though they should improve over last season. Sometimes life just isn't fair.

AL East

Scranton Dragons (94-68) 2nd place
Question: Can the Dragons get past the Titans for the NL East title?
Answer: The Scranton rotation may not have an Ong or a Hernandez, but they are solid top to bottom.
Player to watch: Bernie Almonte has shown tantalizing bits of talent, and he has potential to be more than the setup man he is currently.
Outlook: 98-64 - 1st place. The Dragons have a better lineup and pitching staff than the New York Titans on paper, but it will take a real effort to beat them out for the NL East title. Lars thinks that this year they succeed.

New York Titans (99-63) 1st place
Question: Can the Titans continue to keep owning the NL East?
Answer: The Titans play as a team better than almost any other squad in the league, and have always outperformed expectations.
Player to watch: Andres Quixote - The Titans will be depending on Anthrax to be a rock in their rotation, so the pressure is on the young guy.
Outlook: 95-67 - 2nd place. Lars doesn't know how he does it, but he would like to read furniss13's book on management strategies. In the meantime Lars is fumbling in the dark and guesses that the Titans are good for 95 wins, which means they will once again prove him wrong and win 112 and win the division yet again.

Cleveland Steamers (35-127) 4th place
Question: Will the Extreme Franchise Makeover result in a winning season or just Ty Penningtons face all over the stadium advertisements?
Answer: No one can accuse the Steamers of tanking this season with the huge free agency binge they went on in the offseason.
Player to watch: David Rosado - Everyone wants to see the Steamers "Young Stud Core" in action, but Rosado was the most coveted FA this season, and the former Cy Young winner brings instant credibility to the rotation.
Outlook: 88-74 - 3rd place. The Steamers return to Cleveland where the franchises glory days were had, and hope to bring back the winning spirit to the team. Their free agent signings and promotions should go a long way towards making that happen. But New York and Scranton are still kings in this division, and Cleveland won't knock them off their perch just yet.

Pittsburgh SSP (88-74) 3rd place
Question: Can Pittsburgh keep pace with the rest of the powerful teams in the AL Beast?
Answer: Roosevelt Ingram and R. J. Cubillan keep getting it done for the SSP.
Player to watch: Gregg Young - the SSP 1st baseman could have a breakout season this year, his hitting skills have all star potential.
Outlook: 86-76 - 4th place. Lars thinks it will be a tough pill to swallow for the SSP to finish 4th with a winning record, but the AL Beast is once again the toughest division in the league, and there are no weak links this time around. Still, if things break their way there is no reason why the SSP can't compete for a wildcard this season.

Season 10 Preview - AL and NL North

Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald

Last season Lars was fairly accurate with his prognostications, with a few notable exceptions. This season Lars is back to make an attempt for a first ever perfect season. This task will prove difficult though as the NL East has no clear dominant team, the NL South is in flux, and the huge number of high profile free agent signings in the AL will shift the balance of power. Still, Lars perserveres, and presents his season 10 preview.

NL North

Fargo Fug Nuts (107-55) 1st place
Question: Will the Fug Nuts ever make it out of the first round of the playoffs again?
Answer: Yet another season of offseason change and new faces makes it a whole new era in Fargo, but all star pitcher John Chang is still around to make it happen.
Player to watch: MVP Louie Tarraga replaced former MVP Corey Green in the heart of the Fug Nut batting order.
Outlook: 99-63 - 1st place. The Fug Nuts have too much talent to finish anywhere other than 1st in the NL North, but the rest of the division is catching up. This might be the first season in a long time that Fargo doesn't break 100 wins. Then they will face the annual playoff collapse fears.

Sioux Falls Corn Cleats (81-81) 3rd place

Question: Will the Corn Cleats pitching improve from a horrible season 9?
Answer: Marino Sierra bounced back from a forgettable season 8 to post the all star calibur numbers Sioux Falls fans are used to.
Player to watch: New acquisition Patrick Lamb could fill the hole in the Cleats lineup left after the trade of Vernon Jones.
Outlook: 91-71 - 2nd place. The Corn Cleats revamped their pitching with the trade for Benito Rodriguez and the promotion of several talented minor leaguers. They could challenge for a wildcard spot.

New York Pick Pockets (86-76) 2nd Place
Question: Can the Pick Pockets build off of the teams best finish in franchise history?
Answer: The lineup is still solid with lots of proven run producers, including MVP candidate Ernest McConnell.
Player to watch: Elvis Christman has 20 win potential, if he can stay healthy.
Outlook: 89-73 - 3rd place. The Pick Pockets will contend for runner up in the division, but might not be able to match the pitching of the Corn Cleats. New York should still win more games than last season, and it will be a very close race for second.

Toledo Tsunamis (71-91) 4th place
Question: Will the Tsunamis once again outperform expecations?
Answer: Once again, the answer is in the minors as the prospects creep one season closer to the majors. But after last years surprisingly competitive season, fans of the ML squad should get their monies worth.
Player to watch: Morris Lloyd is as exciting as anyone on the ML team.
Outlook: 66-96 - 4th place. Lars sees a slight regression for the ML squad simply because the other 3 teams in the division are all improved. Still, Toledo won't be the easy out they used to be on the schedule.

AL North

Pawtucket G-Maniacs (101-61) 1st place
Question: Can the G-Maniacs make it back to the World Series?
Answer: Dean Hernandez is the face of the franchise, and deservedly so.
Player to watch: Skeeter Robinson - Hernandez and Albert Franco will get their wins, but if injury risk Robinson can pitch to his potential, Pawtucket will have arguably the best top 3 starters in the league.
Outlook: 98-64 - 1st place. The G's made it to the World Series last season, but the next step is the most difficult. Lars sees the G's making a run, and they should take their division once again.

Augusta Angry Armadillos (76-86) 2nd place
Question: Will the move to Augusta pay off with a winning season?
Answer: The lineup has some big power bats, and should hit more than a few HR's.
Player to watch: Jose Cervantes was miserable the last two seasons in Syracuse, perhaps a change of scenery will result in the numbers that are expected from the slugger.
Outlook: 84-78 - 2nd place. Augusta scrapped the elderly FA plan in favor of young power hitters this season. That should make for a nice foundation and lots of runs, but the pitching still isn't good enough to get them past Pawtucket.

Chicago Sabercats (67-95) 3rd place
Question: How will the youth mesh with Kip Zeile's hazing skills?
Answer: Zeile once again proved he's the anchor for the Sabercats with a monster MVP calibur season.
Player to watch: Guillermo Segui could make an impact in the lineup in his first full season at the ML level.
Outlook: 76-86 - 3rd place. The Sabercats are getting back on track, and will field a competitive team that is just a few pitchers away from being able to challenge for a wildcard spot.

Toronto Blue Jays (54-108) 4th Place
Question: Will the Blue Jays be able to sign their draft picks this season?
Answer: Lots of money in the prospect payroll means some big time signings for the Blue Jays this season.
Player to watch: Bosco Simon is the best position player to be on the ML squad in several seasons.
Outlook: 54-108 - 4th place. The Blue Jays made a nice comeback from their draft disaster last season with the signing of Benito Beltre, and are looking to make several more impact signings to bolster the future prospects for the franchise. But it will be a long year at the ML level.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Decade of Dominance - Honolulu Islanders

Tito McQueen - Cobb Times Herald

Decade of Dominance - It's a Long Way Back From the Bottom

The Honolulu Islanders seemed like they would be one of the dominant powers of the league after it's 99 win season 1 as the San Francisco Giants. Powered by a lineup of very good hitters, including MVP candidate Vasco Chantres, they looked like they would come back with a vengeance in season 2. But then original owner PitchtoBarry disappeared, and the team suffered enormously en route to a 28 win season, the worst in league history. The next year saw a horrible coaching disaster, and the total erosion of skills for most of the teams good young talent, including the ruination of Chantres (projected 93 at the time) skills. But a succession of good drafts have put the Islanders in a position to take advantage of their young talent soon, and possibly make a playoff run in the not so distant future.

#22 - Honolulu Islanders
Franchise Power Ranking: 26
Best Year: 99-63, s1 - Worst Year: 28-134, s2
Postseason Achievements: 1 Division Championship, 1 DCS victory
Best Player: Vasco Chantres - Chantres was an MVP candidate in season1, and
Best Pitcher: Rob Rubel - This is a franchise that has never been blessed with good pitching, and Rubel was the best during their only playoff season.
Best International Prospect:
Davey Silva
Best Draft Pick: Carlton Nelson
Franchise Theme Song: Alone Again by Dokken - "Alone again, without you..." is the line from this classic hair metal song that best describes this franchise that has suffered through abandonement and the loss through trades of half of it's first round picks and Davey Silva to Wichita.
Franchise Highlights: Won the NL West with a 99 wins and made it to the DCS in season 1 behind an MVP calibur season from rising star Vasco Chantres. Signed future Cy Young winner international Davey Silva in season 4. Franchise drafted future star Carlton Nelson with the #1 overall pick in season 3. Franchise also drafted future stars Milt Serafini (ROY), Jeremy Hernandez, Lawrence Shave, and Albert Burnett.
Franchise Lowlights: Franchise was abandoned in season 2, finishing with a Cobb World record low of 28 wins in a season. Poor coach hiring in season 2 & 3 led to the complete destruction of rising star Vasco Chantres' skills, robbing the league of one of it's great talents. Franchise came out on the wrong end of many trades with Wichita, including the loss of Carlton Nelson, Davey Silva, Vasco Chantres, and Milt Serafini. Franchise hasn't had a winning season since season 3.
Franchise Outlook: The future is now for the Islanders as their collection of prospects are just hitting the bigs. At one point a complete disaster, this team has been carefully building through the draft for several seasons and should begin to see a payoff within 2-3 seasons as Omaha starts to age and loses steam. They aren't world beaters yet, but they have potential to be that way by season 12.

Owner Q & A - The_Kid

Cortez Mack - Cobb Times Herald

Today the Times Herald had the opportunity to sit down with The_Kid, owner of the Charlotte Dogs and new Commissioner of the league. Outspoken about his love for old ladies and his love of baseball, The_Kid pulled no punches in this interview.

Thanks for having me! I need to get through this quickly, as I have to catch-up on season 3 of "The Golden Girls" on DVD. Those women kill me!! Anyway...

Congratulations on being named Commissioner of Cobb World. Now that you are Commissioner how do you plan on balancing your teams needs with the fair and unbiased management of the league?
--I'm going to put Omaha, Anaheim and Jackson in their own league. It'll give others team the opportunity to make the WS someday.

Which of these three is your preferred title, Commissioner, Commish, or Der Kommissar?

Do you think you will be a better Commissioner than daubs23?
--Who? Oh! The previous "Commissioner" - That'll come out at the end of my term. In my memoirs.

Who will make the playoffs first, you or daubs23?
--We'll both make it this year... HA! Got you there! daubs23 and playoffs = philly and playoffs = McCain and Palin. They just don't get it!

Who is more fair and balanced, you in your role as Commissioner, Fox News, or MSNBC?
--Son, we play in a world that has rules and those rules need to be guarded by men with the ability to make tough decisions. Who's gonna do it? You, Cortez Mack? You, Mr. Ploppie? The Commissioner has a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for trade vetoes and curse the Cleveland Steamers; you have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what The Commissioner knows: that pieo's leadership, while tragic, probably saved his franchise and that The Commissioner's existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, needs to save that franchise. You don't want the know The Commissioner's responsibilities because deep down in places you don't talk about in chat rooms and forums you want The Commissioner in that role, Commissioner in that role. Commissioners use words like “and”, “but” and “for.” Commissioners use them as the backbone of a responsibility to uphold the integrity of the league, you use them as conjunctions. The Commissioner has neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to ploppie whose sister The Commissioner frequently sleeps with and pisses under the blankets of her sofa that she provides, and then questions the positions in which The Commissioner uses them. The Commissioner would rather you just said "thank you," and go on your way to another .500 season. Otherwise, The Commissioner suggests that you have the onions to make a tough decision and make a firm chat post. Either way, The Commissioner doesn't give a damn who you think is more "Fair & Balanced."

What music do you require be played before you make an official address, Hail to the Chief, or something else?
--"The Rose" by Bette Midler or "What's My Name?" by DMX - I'm a bit insulted by the "Hail to the Chief" reference. It makes me seem like The Commissioner is on a power trip. Don't do it, again. Agreed?

How many points does an owner have to accrue before you start proceedings to remove them from the league?
--The point system has yet to be finalized, but some demerits are: losing to FW_Kekionga = -1, sweeping any other team in my division = +3, providing me with a massage = +4. Things like that. Removal from league would require a vote, though. We know that 12 owners are "above voting", that's why I'm setting up a "UN-type" security council of 6 owners to make these decisions.

Who will be the members of this security council, and will there be rotating spots as in the actual UN?
--I'll Probably have 5 of the founding members and 2 rotating members. Rotating members will be nominated/voted upon by the 5 permanent members. I will be Secretary-General in perpetuity, of course.

Would you consider that tactic a sign that you are more despot than commissioner?
--Hey! I just Googled "despot" and I'm insulted.

What is the history behind the Dogs nickname for your Charlotte franchise? Does it refer to the animal, or is it a representation of your teams work ethic?
--I was born in 1970 - The Year of the Dog. Simple as that.

Who has been your favorite player on the Dogs over the years?
--Samuel Kennedy

Samuel Kennedy
Angry Armadillo's
Age: 32B/T: R/R
Born: Cross City, FL
Position(s): DH/1B
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Who has been the biggest bust for the Dogs?
--I think ploppie's sister has the biggest bust. Oh for the Dogs, it would be the owner.

Why did you leave the Salem Ducks (now Salem Bitches) after season 2? Was the NL game to much for you to take, or are you one of those crazy people who thinks the DH is a great idea?
--I'm a Red Sox/AL fan - I just can't play with the big boys in the NL. DH is the best thing to happen to baseball since the introduction of chest protectors worn by catchers and umpires came into use starting in 1885.

Confirm or deny: Santa Fe is a deathtrap for all teams who play there.
--I can hardly imagine how Santa Fe is supported. The country around it is barren. To the North stands a snow-capped mountain while the valley in which the town is situated is drab and sandy. The streets are narrow... A Mexican will walk about town all day to sell a bundle of grass worth about a dime. They are the poorest looking people I ever saw. They subsist principally on mutton, onions and red pepper. That's how I feel about Santa Fe.

It is a well known fact that you are a great enthusiast of coach hiring. What our readers would like to know is, what happened in your childhood to turn you into such a coach hiring fiend?
--First off, I don't remember much of my childhood. It's mostly because as a dodgeball player, I wasn't picked until last by the coaches. Now, it's MY TURN TO PICK THE FRICKIN' COACHES. Bitter? I guess so....

Also, what was the best coach hiring moment in your career?
--Kordell Burnett, ML Bench Coach Season #5 through #10. Paid him $6.3 in Season 8, more than KC Kill's payroll that season.

What was your worst coach hiring moment?
--See above answer.

Many people were upset at the waiving of IF Jim Green in season 9. Other than the trade deadline being passed, what other motivations did you have in that action?
--Main reasons behind it was this whole "Let's Save The Environment" kick the kids are into nowadays. We all know global warming isn't caused by humans. I found it necessary to rid myself of any "Green" players.

With your newfound salary cap space from the Jim Green maneuver, what do you plan to do?
--Salary space? That money is going towards coach hiring, baby!

Best polka, Who stole the Kishka, Too Fat Polka, or In Heaven There is no Beer?
-- Again, had to Google it. I'd have to say the "Beer Barrel Polka"

Who is the ugliest player in the Dogs franchise?
--Andre Loretta, AAA

Andre Loretta
Age: 24B/T: R/R
Born: Allentown, PA
Position(s): 2B/CIF/OF/DH
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Who would you name, "Mr. Dog?" for his being the embodiment of your team?
--Nicholas Stinnett, my first draft pick and he's still with me. Loyalty. Google it, if you don't know about it.

Nicholas Stinnett
Age: 24B/T: R/R
Born: Fowler, CO
Position(s): P (LRA)
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Speaking of dogs, what is your favorite breed?
--First of all, let me state I am not gay. (Not that there is anything wrong with that) I currently have two Bichon Friese. Jake & Lola, brother and sister.

And is that the breed of Charlotte's mascot?
--Pitbulls - I have to pay royalties to alogman1 for that one! That was quite a court battle. I currently replace our mascot every time he loses at "Michael Vick's Friday Night Fights"

And what do you think of Duane "Dog" Chapman the bounty hunter?
--Do you mean the former gang member with 18 prior convictions for armed robbery and was sentenced to a five year prison term in 1977 after being convicted of the first degree murder? If so, he's in the 17th minute of his usual allotment of 15 minutes of fame.

How do the Dogs compete with NASCAR in the Charlotte media environment?
--The Dogs ownership believes NASCAR is a ghetto sport. The Charlotte Observer? Who gives a crap about them? We haven't received coverage from them. EVER. Not even with the 81-81 record in Season #7.

What trade was your best and which would you like to have back?
--Ariel Cervantes, Todd Evert, Ryan Pennington for Jamie Beimel was my worst trade. Best trade? Not applicable.

If you could cherry pick any Cobb pitcher other than Dean Hernandez or Kazuhiro Ong to put on your team, who would it be and why?
--Davey Silva, Wankers. 79-12 and 8 for 8 in saves over his career! I wish I could give Lightman credit, but this kid was signed by a guy named "cabbagehead" - Have I mentioned he's only 24 and is 5 yrs from Free Agency?

If you were ranking franchises in the history of Cobb World, who would be #1, and where would the Dogs wind up in those rankings?
--Dead heat for Anaheim and Omaha for #1. Dogs would rank right where I was ranked. Also, if I were ranking franchises on the blog, I'd do it quicker. Blogmaster probably is still painting the garage, though....

What is your favorite book and why?
--"Alice in Wonderland" (really! a great book.) or "Lord of the Flies" (In the absence of leadership, people will follow the person speaks loudest.) Currently reading "The War Within" by Bob Woodward.

Match four Cobb World owners with their drinks of choice, other than alogman1 and Old Style, which is already well known.
--ploppie - Ensure, philly - warm milk in a sippy cup, yanks21 - victory champagne and the__kid - drink whatever the hot chick at the bar buys him....

Who is a better prognosticator of the future, Nostradamus, Miss Cleo, Edgar Cayce, or Lars the Greek?
--Again, had to Google Cayce! That cat is off-the-wall, but probably more accurate than Lars, since he picked the Dogs to first 1st last season.

What is your prediction for the Dogs in season 10?
--Well, the Dogs are going though an indentify crisis. Veterans or the young guys? Who knows? The AL South will be the most competitive division once again.