Thursday, December 10, 2009
Sioux Falls Corn Cleats
--The Corn Cleats had a host of late round and supplemental picks in this years draft, the first one being SP Albert Kimbrel. Kimbrel was a very good selection at #23, with devastating splits and a great pitch selection, with control good enough to get it done. Supplemental picks Cliff Reynolds and Russell Hood are nearly carbon copies of each other, both SPs with near perfect control, good splits, and good pitches, and high durability for a starter. Both should be good ML starters. Suppelemental pick C Torey Corino is a very good slugging backstop, who is solid defensively and very good at the plate. 2nd round pick 1B Carlos Gonzalez is a pretty good hitter too, very similar in skill set to current ML 1B Tito Shigetoshi. The Rest of the Cleats draft yielded some solid minor leaguers, but nothing to write home about. This was a very good draft for Sioux Falls, yielding 4 legitimate ML starters and one potential starter.
--With the #22 pick in the draft the Beagles selected SP Ricardo Roque, a talented but erratic starter with great pitches, velocity, and GB/FB abilities, but average splits and suspect control. He could be effective despite his wildness, but you would like to see slightly better splits and control for a pick at this position in the draft. At #34 the Beagles took C Bernie Martin, probably the best hitting catcher in the draft this year, which was a very good value pick. Supplemental pick RP Ricardo Espinosa has some talent, but his flaws are such that he might struggle in the majors. 2nd round pick 1B Jerome Newsome was a good value pick as well, as he can hit the ball very well, even if his power isn't the best. The Beagles got some good talent in the draft, although their early picks probably weren't as successful as they would have hoped.
Tacoma Jerry Gang
--The Jerry Gang took their 1st round pick at #30 with CF Stuart Fischer, a very talented defensive CF who will fit the Tacoma park like a glove. With his superior range and glove, and impressive batting eye and speed, he should be a perfect leadoff man for the the Jerry Gang. His health is a bit of a worry though, one big injury and he is on the road to Wiki Vasquez land. The rest of Tacomas draft yielded some very solid defensive players, like CF Andre Brunson and C Luis Ordaz, but not much else otherwise. Fischer is talented but risky, and is pretty much the only legitimate ML starter in this years draft for Tacoma.
Toronto Blue Jays
--The Blue Jays continued to bulk up their hitting prospects with the selection of SS Ugueth Pelaez. Pelaez is a very solid hitter across the board, and should put up respectable numbers in the bigs. His range will probably limit him to 3B at the ML level, but all of his other fielding skills are superb. 2nd round pick SP Chris Charles could be a pretty good long reliever in the majors, as could 3rd rounder Tony Randall. After that it was just some good minor league pitchers for Toronto. But the selection of Pelaez filled a need for the Jays, and he should be on the ML team in a season or two, so the effect will be soon felt.
--With the #2 pick in the draft, you don't normally see a reliever selected. But Malcom Tucker is a special case, as he projects to be as good or better than Kirk White, which is saying quite a lot. There isn't anything not to like about Tucker who is pretty much as good as you can get in every important skill. The rest of the Trenton draft wasn't too impressive, but you have to like what Tucker will bring to the team once he reaches the majors, as he is a special kind of reliever who only comes along once every 10 years or so.
--The Grizzlies drafted RF Braden Nitkowski at #17 overall in the draft. He projects to be very similar to Tacoma RF Tony Arnold, who the Times Herald mistakenly dissed in a previous draft recap. We won't make that same mistake again, and fully expect Nitkowski to be a very good pro, who can hit for average and plays good defense. Supplemental pick 2B Joey Parkers is a very nice prospect as well, and hits the ball nicely and plays average defense for 2B. Supplemental pick CF Mac Price is a talented defensive CF who suffers at the plate but some how has a superb batting eye, so he could be an effective pro as well. After that there isn't much in the Vancouver draft. Still, they netted three intriguing prospects who could contribute at the ML level, which is harder to do than one might think.
--With the #26 pick in the draft the Wankers selected SP Yorrick Rowan, a talented SP with above average ratings across the board. He doesn't project to be truly elite in any one category, but isn't weak in any category either. He should be very effective in the Wichita ballpark. Supplemental pick RP Charlie Spivey is a dog however, with pathetic control and splits, and probably won't make it past HiA ball, and Wichita probably wishes they had that one back. In fact, the next two picks were pitchers who probably won't amount to much either. But the Wankers made up for it with 4th round pick C Alan Robertson, a very nice prospect who can really hit the ball well and is quite adept at getting on base. He's ok but not outstanding defensively as well. This was an ok draft in the end for Wichita, but they really could have done better with their pick at #51.
--The Dogs were picking late at #38 for their first pick, and with it they selected RP Javier Sierra. Sierra is above average in pretty much all of his key skills but not really outstanding in any of them. He should be a serviceable ML reliever, but probably won't be an all star. Supplemental pick Danys Cruz on the other hand was a very nice selection, a SP who as all of the tools to be a mid rotation starter in the bigs, thanks to his top notch control, good splits, velocity, and pitch selection. Supplemental pick 3B Homer Weaver has ML potential as well, as he has a good glove and can hit righties pretty well. 2nd round pick 3B JD James could platoon in the majors with Weaver as he is very good vs. lefties. 2nd round pick SP Victor Hill could also make the majors thanks to his near perfect control and good pitches. This was a very solid draft for Louisville, bringing on some legitimate ML talent.
--The Burns were picking high at #3, and with that coveted pick brought home a stud SP in Howard Hall. Hall projects to have good control with wicked splits and velocity. He should be a strikeout machine in the majors, and has the stamina and durability to really make an impact. The Burns also picked up a nice reliever in the 2nd round in Dick Singleton, who has elite control and three nice pitches. After him though it's pretty much fringe and minor league fodder in the Montgomery draft. But they have to be thrilled to have landed Hall, he's good.
Nashville Rebel Riders
--The Rebel Riders added a very nice SP in Alex Dodson with the #12 pick in the draft. Dodson may not have the stamina and durability that other top starters do, but his ability to own right handed hitting is second to none, he has good control, and a very nice pitch selection. He has #1 starter potential. Nashville picked up a pair of talented relievers in the 2nd round in Ricardo Pinzon and Adam Bonilla, both of whom could make it to the bigs and contribute. 3rd round pick CF Rob Dickey could be the best defensive CF in the draft this year, and was a very good value pick. Not a bad draft at all for the Rebel Riders.
New York Pick Pockets
--The Pick Pockets didn't have a pick until the 2nd round, but made it count with the selection of Brent Leonard, who was probably the best they could have hoped for that late in the draft. Leonard has great range and glove, and is decent but not great at the plate. He could be a valuable backup. No other top picks signed for New York, who instead chose to go the free agency route this offseason.
--The Sluggers selected talented RP Teddy Bigbie with the #32 pick in the draft. Besides sporting one of the most hideous unibrows in the game today, Bigbie also has perfect control, good splits and velocity, and good durability. He is very similar in skill set to Jacksons pick Cela. The Sluggers weren't so lucky with their subsequent picks, including an average P at #39 in Delino Marichal, and then a bunch of minor leaguers after that. Bigbie is good, but they probably could have gotten better value with later picks.
--The Pawtucket pitching factory continues to spew out prospects thanks to the selection of SP Felipe Cruz at #28 overall, making this possibly the best value pick in the draft. Cruz sports great control and splits, and has some nice pitches as well. Supplemental pick SP Fernando Marquez also could be a ML starter thanks to his superior control. The G's have to be disappointed that they weren't able to get a signing out of their other supplemental pick, however. 2nd round pick RP Martin Bannister could be a valuable ML reliever as well thanks to his control, but after him the Pawtucket draft starts to decline in quality. A good draft for Pawtucket, but it could have been much more.
--The SSP were picking at #9 overall, and took the best player available on the board at the time in 2B/CF Darwin Sanders. Sanders is a defensive talent, and has some nice pop at the plate. He has above average speed, and hits lefties pretty well. He's pretty versatile and should be a valuable ML player. The SSP added to their depth with subsequent selections Christy Van Pelt, Billy Underwood, and John Woo, all players who could make the majors under the right circumstances. The SSP did well, adding a nice player in Sanders and possibly three other future major leaguers.
--Selecting at #16, Richmond took SP Luther Hoffman, a pinpoint control pitcher with an excellent pitch selection and nice splits. Hoffman projects to be a nice middle of the rotation starter, and should eat up a lot of innings with his stamina and durabilty, coupled with his high control. Thanks to free agent signings the Cohibas didn't have another pick until the 4th round, where there wasn't much left to choose from. So this is a one player draft for Richmond, and they made it count.
--Picking at #6 overall in the draft, the Pilots selected SP Dickie Garcia, a very nice SP who has #1 starter potential. Garcia's strengths are his pinpoint control, splits, and velocity, and his pitch selection is good enough to get it done. He is yet another SP in the draft who has a monster stamina/durability combo coupled with high control. He could easily be a 20 game winner in the future. Supplemental pick CF Cliff Burnett was a very nice pick as well, with elite range and glove for the position, and good lead off skills a the plate. He is very good vs. righties, and is very fast on the bases. 2nd round RF Alvin Hardy is also a very nice pick for the Seattle park, a good hitter who while lacking in power, is very good everywhere else. 3rd round pick RF Ed Cooper has a very nice batting eye, and could fill in at DH for the ML squad in the future. As an added bonus they picked up a good value pick in SP Felipe Francisco in the 5th round. The Pilots had as good a draft as you could hope for in building a team for their park, well done.
San Francisco Earthquakes
--The Earthquakes had the #7 pick in the draft, and with it they selected talented and versatile SS Philip Thomas. Thomas is above average across the board, both defensively and at the plate, and is a pretty durable player as well. He may not ever be an all star, but he will improve any lineup he is in. The Quakes picked up another defensive SS in 2nd rounder Stevie Anderson, who could make the ML squad as well. After him the draft degenerates into fringe prospects, but it was still solid for SanFran.
--With their two late first round picks, the Columbus HoundDogs picked up a pair of nice OBP machines in LF Les Cooper and 2B Merv Curtis. Both of them are average defensively for their positions, and have very similar hitting skills with above average splits and power, with outstanding batting eyes. Curtis has superior speed and base running ability, and should be a threat at the top of any order. 2nd round pick SS Dicky Connell has a nice glove, and might be a ML backup if his lackluster bat can be stomached. The same can be said of 4th round pick SS Jerrod Henry. The rest of the Columbus draft was pretty much minor league material. This was a nice draft though bringing in two ML starters and two potential backups with late round draft picks.
--The Steamers selected 2B Tony Dellaero with the #29 pick in the draft. On the upside, Dellaero has excelent range, makes great contact at the plate, and has elite speed. On the downside however is his lackluster splits, below average health and durability, and weak glove for the position. He could be a solid role player or utility man, with numbers similar to current Steamer Cory Lowry. 2nd round pick RP Ben Adams has great control, nice splits, good velocity and two excellent pitches, but has limited stamina and will probably be only good for 25 innings in a season. 3rd round pick C Allen Osborne is another in the long line of Steamers backstops who can call the best game in the world, but can't hit their weight. The rest of Clevelands draft is pretty anemic. There weren't any stars in this bunch, but there were some solid roleplayers who fit the Cleveland system.
--The Dingos used the #21 pick in the draft on future closer Erubiel Cordero. Cordero is a hard throwing southpaw with elite splits, pitches, and velocity. His control is above average, and he has incredible durability. He gets into trouble sometimes with the fly ball, but should be a nice reliever in the majors. SP Howie Mays was taken at #25, and he is a workhorse SP who could make it to the majors as a #5 starter or very good long reliever, but his limited pitch selection and control will keep him from moving much higher than that. He also sports some nifty spectacles. Supplemental pick Barney Perry is a utility IF with some pop, and could be a valuable bench player in the majors. 2nd Round pick SP Art Howard has ML potential as well, and might be a better pitching prospect than Mays if he develops fully. After him though the Dover draft drops off in quality and enters minor league territory. Still, not a bad draft that brought on board some good prospects.
--Florida selected slugging SS Nicky Lewis at #24 overall in the draft. Lewis boasts a very nice glove, has elite range, arm strength, and accuracy, and can play every game if needed. He also has more power than most shortstops in the majors. That being said the rest of his hitting skills are lacking, so while he is a legit prospect, to expect him to hit for average is foolhardy. 3rd round pick SS Ivan Ohman was good value for the round, and has ML potential as a defensive specialist, as does 4th round pick SS Patrick McGowan. But that's about it for the Florida draft.
--The Whalers selected RP Rich Taylor with the #15 pick in the draft. Taylor has all the makings of a solid ML reliever, but might not have quite the elite edge to succeed at the closer position, as his velocity is suspect, and he would need to maximize his development to make a real impact in the big leagues. Taylor does have good control, decent splits, and good durability, but taking him at #15 may have been a bit of a reach. 2nd round pick SP Wally Howard has a very nice pitch selection, great splits, but has some control issues that might limit him to long relief in the majors. The rest of the Whalers draft was pretty much minor league.
Iowa City Corn Dogs
--The Corn Dogs drafted a very solid SP prospect in Josh Biddle with the #11 pick in the draft. Biddle features elite control, velocity and pitch selection, and has pretty good splits as well. He is also a workhorse and is capable of pitching a lot of innings in a season. It's a good thing for the Corn Dogs farm system that they had such a dynamite first pick, because the rest of their draft was entirely uninspiring.
--The Pollocks selected a very nice reliever in Junior Cela at #19 overall, a pitcher who projects to have perfect control, nice splits, and three good pitches. He will need to maximize his control in order to offset his tendency to give up the fly ball, but otherwise you couldn't ask for much more in a reliever. The rest of the Pollocks draft continued to focus on pitching, and yielded a selection of nice looking long relievers and setup men, all of whom are fringe prospects thanks to their pitch selection, but probably won't be much more than AAAA players. Of special note is RP Jon Bonds, who boasts a stamina/durability combo of 4/56, which will limit his otherwise pretty nice looking skill set. This is the kind of draft that while on paper doesn't look too exciting, really added to the depth of the farm system overall.
Kansas City Express
--The Express had big hopes going into the draft, holding the #4 overall pick, but unfortunately for their fans didn't manage to bring home the stud the team was looking for. What they got instead was a solid but not spectacular SP in Doug Dreifort, who has above average control, velocity, pitch selection, and decent splits. While not elite in any category, he is solid and will be a ML starter in the future for sure, just not the ace the team was hoping to bring home. None of the KC's other top round picks signed, so this has to be considered a disappointing draft for the franchise.
Los Angeles Leopards
--The Leopards had the #1 pick in the draft, so it is to be expected that they signed a stud, which of course they did in RF Napoleon Graves. Graves is undoubtedly the best hitter in the draft, with a scary contact/power combo with great splits and batting eye. His glove is weak, but seeing as how he is a corner outfielder all that matters is his bat, and the fact that he can play every day, which he can. 3rd round pick LF Aaron Cole has a nice batting eye, and might make it to the bigs as a backup, but the rest of the LA draft is pretty uninspiring. But they didn't mess up the pick that counts, which is the most important thing.
Friday, November 27, 2009
--With the #20 pick in the draft the Sharks selected SP Torey McFarland. McFarland is a quality SP top to bottom, and while not lights out in any of his particular abilities, his entire skill set adds up to a ML starter, probably slotted in the 3 to 5 positions in the rotation. 2nd round pick RP Ryan Post probably doesn't have what it takes to make it out of the minors, but 3rd round pick SS Justin Callaway is intriguing thanks to his excellent glove and very nice split vs. right handed pitching. The rest of the Sharks draft was pretty much minor league filler, but the two ML prospects they did pick up are pretty decent for where they were selected.
--The Tigers took LF Pablo Rosa with the #10 pick in the draft. Rosa is a physical specimen who can play every day, and the work he puts in the offseason is showing in his muscles, as he has pretty nice power as well at the plate. He makes good contact and has a good eye, which is about all you can ask for a corner OF position, especially as his glove isn't an embarrassment. The Tigers enjoyed another nice 1st round pick at #18 with the selection of RF Stubby Grabowski, another hard hitting prospect similar in skills to Rosa. Grabowski isn't quite as lethal at the plate, but is immeasurably faster on the bases. The Tigers continued their run of quality picks with 2nd round pick SS Steve Harris, a nice defensive SS with some skill at the plate as well. 3rd round pick SP Dustin Rolle also has some nice potential to make the majors thanks to his wonderful control and pitch selection. Netting 4 future ML players made for a very nice draft for Arizona.
--Heading into the draft expectations were high for Atlanta, thanks in part to their four first round picks. The first of those was 2B Pat Chong, taken at #27 overall. Chong is a very nice power hitting 2B, and reminds the Herald Times of Joseph Funaki with his hitting skills, but with only a little less power at the plate. His glove is adequate for the position. SP Brady Hartzell was taken at #37, and he is a future starter with his impeccable control, velocity, GB/FB ratio, and five above average pitches. He's definitely a nice pickup for Atlanta. SP Tripp Jefferies, taken at #42 overall, also is a bona fide ML starter in the making, with nice control, splits, velocity and pitches. The SP bonanza continued for Atlanta at #52, as Don Matthews was yet another talented prospect taken by the Pitbulls. While not as skilled as Jefferies or Hartzell, Matthews still has the stuff to make the majors. Atlanta drafted yet another nice SP prospect in the 2nd round with their choice of Daniel Olson, who has more upside than Matthews, and is similar in skills to Jefferies. The rest of Atlanta's draft was very deep with quality minor league players who could also make the majors in a backup capacity at some point through all 5 first rounds. If you are a GM looking at how to draft, look no further, this is as good as it gets.
--The Loggers took a very nice catching prospect at #5 overall with the selection of Steven Nielsen. Nielsen can flat out rake the ball vs. lefties, and is very nice vs. righties as well, and has a good batting eye. Behind the plate he is solid as well, and shouldn't be a defensive liability. He can also DH effectively for an AL squad. 2nd round pick RP Adam Robbins has yet to sign, but if he does he has very good skills for a closer if he can overcome his control issues. 3rd round pick SP TJ Farr is great value for the round, as he has ML potential and could possibly be a #5 starter for most squads. This was a solid but not spectacular draft for Boston.
--The Sabercats took a gamble with their first pick at #14, when potential superstar SS Doc Mabry unexpectedly dropped to their slot. Superbly talented, but a huge signing risk, Mabry could change the fortunes of the Chicago franchise if he signs, as he is very good in the field and at the plate. He's the complete package and a legitimate star if he signs. For the Sabercats sake Mabry had better sign, as the rest of their draft wasn't very impressive, bringing on board a bunch of minor league scrubs with no ML potential. So this is a one man draft for Chicago.
Grade: A if he signs, F if he doesn't.
--The Thunder made a very nice selection in P Harry Mendoza at #13 overall. Mendoza has the most electrifying stuff of any pitcher in the draft this year, with out of this world control, splits, and velocity. His durability and pitch selection will probably funnel him towards the bullpen, but he could be as good as Kirk White in the closers role, and brings a much needed pitching prospect to the Thunder franchise. The rest of Charlotte's draft brought on some fringe pitching prospects, who might make it as long relief but not much else. But drafting Mendoza makes up for a lot.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Overview: The American League has been dominated by the Cleveland Steamers for the past four seasons, as the controversial franchise has been to four straight World Series, winning in season 12, but failing in all three tries against the mighty Omaha Sluggers. Battling for the right to lose to Cleveland in the playoffs has become much more competitive lately, outside of the easily predictable AL North, with several playoff newcomers last season. This year looks to be the same, as the Steamers will again in all probability take the AL East, the #2 seed will likely go again to Pawtucket, and the rest of the race will be a crap shoot.
Projected Cy Young: Dean Hernandez - Pawtucket G-Maniacs
Projected MVP: Lyle Crudale - Cleveland Steamers
Projected Fireman of the Year: Jared Jacobsen - Anaheim Sharks
Projected Rookie of the Year: Matty Palmer - Boston Loggers
Top Five Rotations in the American League
1. Toronto Blue Jays
2. Pawtucket G-Maniacs
3. Cleveland Steamers
4. Florida Almendares
5. Tacoma Jerry Gang
Top Five Lineups in the American League
1. Cleveland Steamers
2. Anaheim Sharks
3. Louisville Dogs
4. Vancouver Grizzlies
5. Pawtucket G-Maniacs
Top Three Offseason Free Agent Signings
1. Corey Green - Louisville Dogs
2. Vernon Jones - Louisville Dogs
3. Kip Zeile - Arizona Tigers
Four Teams on the Rise:
1. Tacoma Jerry Gang
2. Vancouver Grizzlies
3. Chicago Sabercats
4. Nashville Rebel Riders
Three Teams on the Decline
1. Anaheim Sharks
2. Dover Dingos
3. Pittsburgh SSP
Five prospects who could make a difference if called up this season
1. Patrick Ramirez - Boston Loggers
2. Hugh Clark - Tacoma Jerry Gang
3. King Gonzalez - Pawtucket G-Maniacs
4. Thurman Tresh - Kansas City Express
5. Roosevelt Fox - Kansas City Express
Projected finishes, by division:
Pawtucket G-Maniacs - 96-66
Toronto Blue Jays - 85-77
Chicago Sabercats - 82-80
Seattle Pilots - 64-98
Cleveland Steamers - 97-65
Dover Dingos - 82-80
Pittsburgh SSP - 72-90
Boston Loggers - 68-94
Louisville Dogs - 91-71
Nashville Rebel Riders - 90-72
Florida Almendares - 87-75
Kansas City Express - 61-101
Tacoma Jerry Gang - 96-66
Vancouver Grizzlies - 94-68
Anaheim Sharks - 89-73
Arizona Tigers - 71-91
Gerardo Meija surveys the Trenton Lions spring training complex in Port St. Lucie Florida and he likes what he sees. The Lions have one of the newest and most impressive spring training complexes in Florida, but that is not what has him excited this morning. Instead, Mr. Meija is watching the Lions newest star, Rico Estrada, lead the Lions onto the field for one of the last infield practices of the spring. In an unlikely sports-business story, Mr. Meija went from fan to owner almost overnight by providing the cash infusion to sign Mr. Estrada.
For a music company executive, buying part of a baseball club may seem like an unusual move. “Not at all,” says Mr. Meija, “established professional sports are a fairly safe investment and I’m a passive investor in all this.” Mr. Meija’s interest isn’t entirely passive, however. His buy-in was contingent on the Lions signing Mr. Estrada to a contract. “I’d been a fan of Rico’s for a long time, and I know he’s a fan of mine. It just made sense.”
Last fall, after the stock market crash, the Trenton Lions were hard up for cash and it seemed they may not be involved in the free agent market. Enter Geraldo Meija. “I met some of the ownership group at one of Jimmy Iovine’s parties and I told them they should sign Rico Estrada. They said to me ‘that’ll take 75 million- we don’t have 75 million’ so I told them ‘I have 75 million’. It just went from there.”
For his part, Mr. Estrada seemed excited to be involved with the Lions and Mr. Meija.“ There were several clubs offering me contracts, but when I heard that Geraldo was involved with Trenton I knew that’s where I had to be.” Mr. Estrada also seemed undaunted by the task of helping turn the Lions into consistent winners. “It’s going to be an uphill battle here, but before I signed I talked to brysoc [Trenton Lions GM] and I liked his plan for making this club a champion. I think we can do it.”
Even if Mr. Estrada’s signing doesn’t guarantee a championship for Trenton, it certainly helped the club grab some much needed attention. Mr. Estrada was arguably the most important free agent this offseason. Among his accomplishments, Mr. Estrada holds 2nd place all time in Cobb for hits and 5th place all time for runs scored. Mr. Meija's resume includes his own hit song, 'Rico Suave', and bringing rapper Bubba Sparxxx to Interscope records.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
The more things change in Cobb World, the more they stay the same. That much was evident last season as the playoffs welcomed some teams that hadn't seen the glory of the postseason in over a decade, or ever, yet still yielded a World Series where Omaha triumphed over Cleveland for the 3rd time in 4 seasons. But the winds of change are blowing through Cobb, as some teams are clearly on the rise, while others are in decline. To help you make sense of it all, Lars the Greek has cast the runes to see who will ultimately triumph in season 14.
Overview: The National League has been ruled by Syracuse for the past two regular seasons. In the playoffs it's been another story as Omaha has passed the test numerous times, and Wichita recently made a surprise appearance in the World Series. This season looks to be not much different, as Syracuse clearly has the best team on paper, but Omaha has the experience where it counts in the playoffs. Lars sees Syracuse posting another dominant year with an easy path to the #1 seed, while the race for the #2 seed will be a bit more competitive, but will probably once again result in Omaha receiving the playoff bye. The second best team in the NL might actually be another member of the increasingly brutal NL East, but with Syracuse being so good at the moment, the best they can hope for is a wildcard berth.
Outside of the two top teams the rest of the NL is a pretty wide open race for the final four playoff spots. Lars thinks pretty much every team save Trenton, Montgomery, and the NL West outside of Omaha has a shot at the playoffs, and those five teams are rapidly closing the gap. The end result should be a very exciting wildcard race to close the regular season in the National League.
Projected Cy Young: Davey Silva - Wichita
Projected MVP: Paul Jung - Syracuse
Projected Fireman of the Year: Kirk White - Syracuse
Projected Rookie of the Year: Blade Haas - Los Angeles Leopards
Top Five Rotations in the National League
1. Omaha Sluggers
2. Atlanta Pitbulls
3. Syracuse Beagles
4. Columbus HoundDogs
5. Sioux Falls Corn Cleats
Top Five Lineups in the National League
1. Syracuse Beagles
2. Charlotte Thunder
3. Omaha Sluggers
4. New York Pick Pockets
5. Wichita Wankers
Top Three Offseason Free Agent Signings
1. Rico Estrada - Trenton Lions
2. Benito Rodriguez - Los Angeles Leopards
3. Ruben Montero - New York Pick Pockets
Four Teams on the Rise:
1. New York Pick Pockets
2. Iowa City Corn Dogs
3. San Francisco Earthquakes
4. Trenton Lions
Three Teams on the Decline
1. Sioux Falls Corn Cleats
2. Hartford Whalers
3. Omaha Sluggers
Five prospects who could make a difference if called up this season
1. Furio Kydd - Iowa City Corn Dogs
2. Harold Austin - Richmond Cohibas
3. Tim Collins - Montgomery Burns
4. Morgan Kirby - Montgomery Burns
5. Kazuhiro Martin - San Francisco Earthquakes
Projected finishes, by division:
New York Pick Pockets - 91-71
Sioux Falls Corn Cleats - 89-73
Hartford Whalers - 82-80
Trenton Lions - 70-92
Syracuse Beagles - 107-55
Wichita Wankers - 92-70
Columbus HoundDogs - 89-73
Atlanta Pitbulls - 88-74
Charlotte Thunder - 89-73
Richmond Cohibas - 87-75
Jackson Pollocks - 82-80
Montgomery Burns - 54-108
Omaha Sluggers - 96-66
Iowa City Corn Dogs - 78-84
San Francisco Earthquakes - 75-87
Los Angeles Leopards - 71-91
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Cobb world has been insulated from the recent economic downturn if the recent free agent splurges of several teams are any indication. The top 5 free agents received a total commitment of over $220 million. Virtually every team made some kind of signing, whether it was the New York Pickpockets adding new ace Ruben Montero, the Chicago Sabrecats upgrading the closer position to Geraldo Santiago or Tacoma bringing Buddy Hennessey out of retirement. Probably the most exciting Free Agent news were the big signings in Los Angeles, Louisville and Arizona.
"So much has changed for me over this off-season," said new Los Angeles Leopard Benito Rodriguez, " especially the expectations." Rodriguez has played most of his career in the small prairie cities of Fargo ND and Sioux Falls SD, flying under the national radar despite success that favorably compares to high profile pitchers like the mustached Eric Collins. Now that he has landed in Los Angeles, with an Ace's contract, the quiet Georgian will face intense media scrutiny. "Its something I have to get used to but we're building a winner here, and there is no better town to be a winner in than this one."
While Los Angeles took a giant step forward in their quest to make the playoffs, another team used the free agent period as an opportunity to build a potential champion. The Louisville Dogs won the final 15 games of the regular season to capture the best record in the AL. In the playodds they ran out of steam, bowing out to Cleveland in the ALDS. In response, Louisville has added power and improved their defense, bringing in top shortstops Steven Grilli and Corey Green, both of whom are capable of hitting over 30 HR. Green will move to 3B as he chases 500 HR and a spot in the Hall of Fame. "There were other teams who were offering the chance to stay at shortstop, but at this stage of my career, I am more interested in accumulating championships" Green said. " I think that Steve (Grilli) and I add a dimension to this team that can put it over the top."
Louisville also added catcher Vernon Jones to their mix. Jones will both catch and DH, and could himself hit 30 HR with enough playing time.
To the South West, the recently relocated Arizona Tigers made a huge splash when they signed superstar Kip Zeile. Arizona bench boss Cesar Galvez was excited about the addition of the accomplished slugger "Its great from a baseball perspective, but also from a business standpoint. The last time I was in Arizona the club just didn't click with the fans. Now Zeile is a guy the fans can relate to- he's one of the greatest hitters of all time and he is a great person- we didn't have a guy like that two years ago."
Besides Benito Rodriguez, the biggest winner in free agency this off-season were the Richmond Cohibas. Richmond added stud relievers Shane Parrish, Ryan Kinney and Bobby Flores and now has one of the most dominant bullpens ever, at the mere cost of their second and third round draft selections.
Any player with Type-A status. As is usual, teams shied away from Type-A's this offseason, leading to smaller contracts than some analysts expected for pitchers like Ryan Kinney and Bernie Lopez.