Friday, July 24, 2009

Draft Fun Facts - Season 1 Through 5

Chuck Biscuits - Cobb Times Herald

With the ongoing series looking back at the drafts, the Times Herald has run across some interesting tidbits that deserve a mention. Read on to find out all about some of the weird and wonderful occurrences in the first five draft classes of Cobb World.

Number of draftees currently playing at the ML level:
Season 1: 24
Season 2: 34
Season 3: 54
Season 4: 62
Season 5: 68

Lowest picked player in the Majors (Current team in parentheses)
Season 1: RP Charles Gold, Round 18, #575, Toronto Blue Jays (HON Harriers)
Season 2: RP Rudy Belle, Round 18, #568, Chicago Cubbies (LV Sinners)
Season 3: RP Davey Mecir, Round 11, #348, Columbus Crusaders (MNT Burns)
Season 4: C Tony Velazquez, Round 21, #673, San Diego Quakers (IA Corn Dogs)
Season 5: RP Pete Michaels, Round 24, #767, Atlanta Warthogs (IA Corn Dogs)

Jose Rios
Age: 27B/T: R/R
Born: Holland Patent, NY
Position(s): P (ClA)
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Lowest picked player to have ever made an All Star team: Jose Rios, PAW G-Maniacs, Season 4, Round 15, #492.

A.J. Anderson
New York
Pick Pockets
Age: 28B/T: L/L
Born: Presidio, TX
Position(s): RF/1B/LF/DH
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

Biggest Signing Bonus:
1. #20 A.J. Anderson, Milwaukee Gold Sox, Season 3, $8.24 million
2. #3 Frank Donatello, Oakland Frozen Koreans, Season 5, $8 million
3. #3 Tanner Durham, Wichita Wankers, Season 4, $7.5 million

Most Draftees (S. 1-5) Currently in the Majors:

Sioux Falls Corn Cleats 15
New York Pick Pockets 12
Syracuse Beagles 12
Chicago Sabercats 11
Honolulu Harriers 11
Las Vegas Sinners 11
Los Angeles Leopards 11
Omaha Sluggers 11
Trenton Lions 10
Atlanta Pitbulls 9
Columbus HoundDogs 9
Fargo Fug Nuts 8
Phil. Cheese Steaks 8
Wichita Wankers 8
Anaheim Sharks 7
Boston Loggers 7
Kansas City Express 7
Montgomery Burns 7
Nashville Rebel Riders 7
Cleveland Steamers 6
Huntington Hillbillies 6
Louisville Dogs 6
Richmond Cohibas 6
Florida Almendares 5
Iowa City Corn Dogs 5
Pittsburgh SSP 5
Vancouver Grizzlies 5
Jackson Pollocks 4
Pawtucket G-Maniacs 4
Tacoma Jerry Gang 4
Toronto Blue Jays 4
Wash. D.C. Momentum 2

Best Names in the Draft:
Season 1: #46 Cookie Montalban, #60 Rod Bush, #366 Footsie Rollins
Season 2: #67 Socks Byrne, #176 Catfish Van Poppel, #423 Bubbles Rivers
Season 3: #99 Sterling Sexson, #119 Bum Bailes, #265 Pep Nomo
Season 4: #2 Skeeter Robertson, #149 Vernon Spooneybarger, #199 Bubba Berroa
Season 5: #121 Jiggs Wingo, #214 Sticky Leary, #215 Dude Bush

Where are they now - Season 5 Draft Update

Chuck Biscuits - Cobb Times Herald

The season five draft featured the arrival of some big name hitters and pitchers, most of whom seem to be playing for the Syracuse Beagles these days. The top pick was a worthy selection, and King Louie Tarraga was introduced to the world. Surprisingly though the best pitchers in the draft were selected at the bottom half of the first round, and there were more than a few duds to be had. Read on to find out all about the season five draft.

Season Five Draft

Jamie Beimel
Age: 29B/T: L/R
Born: Hokes Bluff, AL
Position(s): RF/1B/2B/LF/DH
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Top Pick: Jamie Beimel - St. Louis Silver Sluggers - Beimel was the top player taken in the season five draft, and he has proven himself to be worthy of the position in the majors. His career ML averages are impressive, a .315BA/.940OPS with 200 HRs, Beimel is a run producing machine. He qualifies as a definite stud.

Phil Hinch
Age: 26B/T: R/R
Born: River Ridge, LA
Position(s): P (SP1)
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Biggest Steal: #35 Phil Hinch- Syracuse Beagles - There weren't any obvious steals in this draft, as most of the talented players went where they were supposed to go. But seeing Hinch go in the supplemental round was a score for the Beagles, and he has produced in a big way at the ML level, posting a career record of 74-30, with a 3.22 ERA. Not to shabby at all.
Honorable Mention: #49 Hawk Gutierrez was a steal as well, a dynamic leadoff man who can hit for some pop and is a terror on the bases.

Best Hitters: #1 Jamie Beimel, #4 Lawrence Shave, #5 Louie Tarraga, #17 Santiago Matos, #36 Trenidad Pelaez, and #49 Hawk Gutierrez.

Best Pitchers: #13 Clyde Ford, #16 Jerry Ross, #18 Barney Johnson, #32 Buzz Boswell, and #35 Phil Hinch.

Ned Lieberthal
Age: 27B/T: R/R
Born: Estes Park, CO
Position(s): P (SP3)
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Duds: There were many major misses in this draft, but the worst offender was the Toledo (now Trenton) franchise, who selected SP Ned Lieberthal at #6 overall. His 17-34 record and 4.80 have been anything but top ten material.
Honorable Mention: #10 pick SS Rudy Rose was yet another weak hitting marginal SS taken by the NY Brokers in their run of ruining the franchise through poor drafting decisions.

Unsigned Picks: #2 pick SP Leon Green, #23 pick P Leon Croushore, and #30 pick Bill Kirwan were the unsigned picks in this draft.

Louie Tarraga
Age: 26B/T: L/L
Born: Mattoon, IL
Position(s): 1B/COF/DH
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Phil Hinch
Age: 26B/T: R/R
Born: River Ridge, LA
Position(s): P (SP1)
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Prime Studs of the Draft: This draft class featured several very good hitters, but as good as Beimel, Matos, and Shave are, none of them have the MVP hardware that Louie Tarraga has on his trophy shelf. Tarraga also has superior career numbers in every category, and is truly one of the elite players in the game today, and therefore is the prime hitting stud of the draft. On the mound it's a much closer call, as all of the pitchers who have made it to the highest level have similar award histories and career numbers. But Phil Hinch has the best win totals, and has been more consistent in his ML career, thus earning the nod as the prime pitching stud of the draft.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Where are they now? - Season 4 Draft Update

Chuck Biscuits - Cobb Times Herald

The season four draft marked the first draft where the talent wasn't as good as the previous season. There were some decent players taken, and one major hitting star in Chipper Harper selected in the second half of the first round. This was also the draft that introduced the world to Skeeter "Bling Bling Skeet" Robertson, one of several good pitching prospects in the draft. There were probably more duds than studs in this draft, but there was one incredible steal however, read on to find out all about it.

Season Four Draft

Omar Lewis
Los Angeles
Age: 27B/T: R/R
Born: Fort Walton Beach, FL
Position(s): SS/IF/OF/DH
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Top Pick: Omar Lewis - Oakland Frozen Koreans - For the third straight season a SS was taken with the top pick this time Omar Lewis by the Oakland (now Tacoma) franchise. Lewis turned out to be a decent fielding SS, but has yet to win any awards in 6+ ML seasons, and his career OPS is only .741, not at all what you would expect from the top pick in the draft. While Lewis is a capable player, as a #1 pick he is a dud.

Patrick Lamb
Sioux Falls
Corn Cleats
Age: 27B/T: R/R
Born: Darlington, SC
Position(s): C/1B/DH
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Biggest Steal: Patrick Lamb, #90 - Helena Hellraisers - It must have been his durability that scared off the rest of the scouts, because Lamb has been a beast since he entered the majors, making multiple All Star squads, mashing the ball out of the park, and posting a ML career OPS of 1.029. He's been able to average about 450 AB's a season, which for an elite slugging catcher who is also pretty good defensively is a very nice total. At the #90 pick Lamb is almost as big a steal as Kory Arnold was in season two.

Best Hitters: #23 Chipper Harper, #90 Patrick Lamb, #3 Tanner Durham, #7 Dennis Ashby, #17 Albert Burnett, and #36 Clay Henry

Best Pitchers: #2 Skeeter Robertson, #4 Zephyr Burns, #6 Andres Quixote, and #13 Santos Diaz

Duds: There were a lot of duds in this class, but the biggest has to be #5 pick SP Francis Ford by the Florida Hurricanes. Ford has been a major disappointment, posting a ML record of 21-38 with an ERA of 5.31. Not exactly the stuff aces are made of.
Honorable Mention: #9 pick SS Clarence Jackson, #12 Pick RF Brett O'Keefe, and #14 pick SS Jalal Smith are the other worst offenders in a draft full of duds.

Unsigned Picks: #21 pick P Eric Rose was the only unsigned 1st round pick.

Chipper Harper
Age: 27B/T: S/L
Born: Colora, MD
Position(s): 1B/DH
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Skeeter Robertson
Age: 27B/T: L/L
Born: Lancaster, NY
Position(s): P (SP1)
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Prime Studs of the Draft: In a draft class that really lacked impact players, Chipper Harper beats out runner up Patrick Lamb as the best hitter in the bunch. His numbers in the majors are clearly superior to his draft compatriots, and he has the MVP hardware to prove it, so the Times Herald has selected him as the Prime Hitting Stud of the draft. On the mound it's a bit closer call, as Zephyr Burns, Santos Diaz, and Andres Quixote are all pretty good, but Skeeter Robertson, while he might not have as many wins, has been the better pitcher statistically since hitting the big leagues.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Where are they now? - Season 3 Draft Update

Chuck Biscuits - Cobb Times Herald

Whereas the season two draft was extremely deep in hitters, the the season three draft introduced the league to some of the best pitchers seen to date, including several first ballot hall of famers. There were a few bats to be had, and some pretty nice late first round picks as well. Read on to find out all about the impressive talent that came from the season three draft.

Season Three Draft

Carlton Nelson
Age: 28B/T: R/R
Born: Kent, CT
Position(s): SS/3B/2B/RF/CF
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Top Pick: Carlton Nelson - Los Angeles Lobos - Nelson is very similar to season 2 #1 pick Enrique Guardado, a SS who is gifted both with the glove and the bat, with reasonable power. Nelson made his ML debut in season 9, and has been rather lackluster at the plate for a top pick, although it must be said that having an everyday SS who can go for 30HR/100RBI every season is a luxury most teams do not have. Nelson turned out to be solid, and actually is one of the better hitters in the draft, but compared to #2 pick SS Corey Green, he doesn't compare. But as a whole the season three draft belonged to the pitchers, which makes Nelson only a minor stud in the grand scheme of things.

Gregg Young
Age: 29B/T: L/L
Born: Texarkana, AR
Position(s): 1B/DH
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Biggest Steal: Gregg Young, #72 - Pittsburgh SSP - Young was a pleasant surprise for Pittsburgh in the second round, and has turned out to be a very nice ML player. An All Star, Young has put together some very nice seasons, averaging .300/35HR/100+RBI for his ML career, which is surely more than you would expect from the #72 pick.

Best Hitters: #2 Corey Green, #1 Carlton Nelson, #4 Pedro Chavez, #7 Grant Keats, #21 Ben Harris, #36 Luke Henley,#41 Alfredo Cruz, and #72 Gregg Young.

Best Pitchers: #3 Dean Hernandez, #5 Kirk White, #10Ivan Canseco, #12 Lewis Keller, #23 Ralph Hill, #28 Benito Rodriguez, and #27 Carl Jordan

Darrin Weiss
Age: 32B/T: R/R
Born: Pittston, PA
Position(s): RF/1B/LF/DH
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Duds: RF Darrin Weiss, #14 - Las Vegas High Rollers - Weiss used his #14 pick skills to put together a ML career average of .259, with 103 HR's in 2,881 ABs before becoming an unsigned free agent in season 12.
Honorable Mention: Al Torres, #16 - Chicago Sabercats - the #16 pick in the draft retired at 28, says about all you need to know.

Unsigned Picks: #6 pick CF T.J. Phillips, #13 pick P Bruce Coleridge, and #32 pick CF Michael Lloyd were the only unsigned picks in the first round.

Corey Green
Sioux Falls
Corn Cleats
Age: 32B/T: S/R
Born: Swea City, IA
Position(s): SS/IF/OF/DH
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Dean Hernandez
Age: 30B/T: S/R
Born: Detroit, MI
Position(s): P (SP2)
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Kirk White
Age: 28B/T: R/R
Born: Madison, SD
Position(s): P (ClA)
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Prime Studs of the Draft: Of all the hitters in the draft, Corey Green stands head and shoulders above the rest, having put together a slugging career only surpassed at the SS position by Dallas Kline. The pitchers are a bit harder to chose from, as Ivan Canseco, Benito Rodriguez, Ralph Hill, and Lewis Keller have all had excellent ML careers. But the Times Herald thinks that it is a tie between Dean Hernandez and Kirk White. Hernandez has been the AL counterpart to NL Hall of Famer Kaz Ong, and White is without doubt the best closer the league has ever seen.

Where are they now? - Season 2 Draft Update

Chuck Biscuits - Cobb Times Herald

The Times Heralds second draft update installment takes a look at the season two draft, the first draft in which owners could kind of rank their prospects, although the scouting system was still light years behind what is available today. As a result there were some odd picks at the top, and some scores in later rounds, including a really odd draft from the Chicago Sabercats, who completely blew their #11 pick but picked up a megastar in the 2nd round. To find out more about those picks, the lack of pitching talent, and the incredibly deep pool of hitting talent that was selected, read on.

Season Two Draft

Enrique Guardado
Rebel Riders
Age: 29B/T: L/R
Born: Spring Valley, WI
Position(s): 3B/IF/OF/DH
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Top Pick: Enrique Guardado - Chicago Cubbies - Guardado was certainly a solid #1 pick, a SS with good skills in the field and at the plate. While he turned out to be good, a 2 time all star and 2 time Silver Slugger, he was by no means the most dominant player taken in the draft. That being said he certainly a solid pick at the #1 position, and qualifies solidly in the realm of stud.

Kory Arnold
Age: 29B/T: L/L
Born: Ft. Pierce, FL
Position(s): DH/1B
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Biggest Steal: Kory Arnold, #62 - Chicago Sabercats - The Arnold pick is probably the biggest steal in the history of all Cobb drafts. The 2nd round pick has since gone on to win 4 MVP awards, a ROY, and many All Star and Silver Slugger awards. This was perhaps the greatest draft pick in Chicago Sabercat history, and the fans are probably rueing the day he was traded to Anaheim.

Best Hitters: Enrique Guardado, Kory Arnold, Wayne Wilson, Bill Norton, Ken Puffer, Josh Price, Jeremy Hernandez, Walter Stewart, Ron Leon, and Jim Green.

Best Pitchers: Kirt Hooper, Steven Booker, Harold Charles, and Glenn Nye.

Louis King
Age: 29B/T: R/R
Born: New York, NY
Position(s): P (T2A)
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Duds: Louis King is royalty among draft duds. Taken by the Wichita Wankers with the #6 pick in the draft, he has made a grand total of 57 ML starts, compared to his roughly 300 appearances in the minors. He is currently tandem starting in AAA. When you look at all the players selected after him, one can't help but think this was one of the biggest draft busts of all time.
Honorable Mention: Robin Daniels, #11 - Chicago Sabercats - Daniels put together an amazing ML career averages of .273 BA/.335 OPS/.773 OBP before becoming an unsigned free agent.

Unsigned Picks: #3 pick 1B Chad Surhoff, #5 pick P Tris Damon, #7 pick P Seth Shelley, #19 pick P Dan Muratore, and #32 pick P Danny Adams are the notable unsigned picks from this seasons draft.

Kory Arnold
Age: 29B/T: L/L
Born: Ft. Pierce, FL
Position(s): DH/1B
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Kirt Hooper
Fug Nuts
Age: 33B/T: R/R
Born: Ramseur, NC
Position(s): P (SP1)
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Prime Studs of the Draft: There were some monster hitters drafted in season two. Wayne Wilson, Ken Puffer, Enrique Guardado, and Josh Price are among the best, but it's hard to argue with four MVP's, which is why the Times Herald selected Kory Arnold as the Prime Hitting Stud of the draft. Not bad for a 2nd rounder! On the pitching side, it isn't close, Kirt Hooper was far and away the best pitcher taken in season two.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Where Are They Now? Season 1 Draft Update

Chuck Biscuits - Cobb Times Herald

Over the next few weeks the Times Herald will be taking a look back at past draft classes to see how they turned out. The first installment takes a look at the season one draft, back in the wild days of the first few seasons when scouting budgets were slim, prospect budgets even slimmer, and teams had no control over who they picked. The season one draft was marked by the highest number of unsigned picks the league has ever seen, and one can only imagine the wasted talent. Still, some of the picks did sign, and turn into future stars. Unfortunately for some teams however, their signed picks turned into busts of the highest order.

Season One Draft

Elvis Christman
Age: 30B/T: R/R
Born: Buffalo, WY
Position(s): P (P)
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Top Pick: Elvis Christman - Tacoma Boogity Boogity Boogity - Christman has had an uneven career, with his tremendous talent being overshadowed by his injury prone body, leaving him to have solid career averages, but instead of an awards list, there is a DL history with 9 separate occurences. Good when he pitches, Christman is neither a stud or a dud, somewhere solid inbetween.

C.J. Bones
Age: 30B/T: S/L
Born: Hermitage, MO
Position(s): P (P)
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Biggest Steal: C.J. Bones, #58 - Anaheim Sharks - Bones is a 4 time all star and 3 time Fireman of the Year. In this draft, that was a tremendous accomplishment.

Studs: Alan Peterson, Ernest McConnell, Shane Parrish, Kenny Blair, and Milt Serafini have all had their share of awards at the ML level.

Maximo Atchley
Age: 30B/T: R/R
Born: Hurricane, WV
Position(s): P (P)
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Duds: Maximo Atchley has to be considered the biggest bust of the draft, picked at #14 by the now Honolulu (then Sacramento) franchise, Atchley had a 20-30 ML record with a high ERA and WHIP before becoming an unsigned FA in season 13.

Unsigned Picks: The list is huge, with picks 2-4 unsigned, and 13 of the first 32 picks unsigned, including All Stars Hades Booker and Benji Eckenstahler, and some serious talent that never made it to the field. Booker and Eckenstahler were among the unsigned players that made it into the FA pool the next season, setting up The Fargo Fug Nut Great 3am raid that changed the course of their franchise for the next 10 seasons.

Kenny Blair
Age: 33B/T: L/R
Born: Yorkville, IL
Position(s): 2B/CIF/OF/DH
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Shane Parrish
Age: 31B/T: R/R
Born: Lexington, MO
Position(s): P (ClA)
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Prime Studs of the Draft: It's a close call, but the Times Herald thinks that Kenny Blair just edges out Hades Booker and Ernest McConnell as the best position player to come out of the draft. As for pitchers Shane Parrish has been the most consistent and effective pitcher, although if Christman had stayed healthy it might be a different story.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

NL West

Omaha Sluggers (112-50) 1st place
Question: Are cracks starting to appear in Omaha as the team failed to win over 100 games and the World Series for the first time in 4 seasons?
Answer: Kazuhiro Ong and Jose Barrios, no other team has the two best players in league history on their roster.
Player to watch: Free agent Grant Keats was a nice value pickup in a market that saw some heavy contracts doled out.
Outlook: 98-64 - 1st place. Although Omaha is starting to get old, and Barrios and Ong aren't in their primes any more, they are still elite, and Omaha is still the best team in the NL West. That won't change this season, and probably next. The real question will be if Omaha has enough to get through the playoffs with some very good teams in the rest of the National League surpassing the overall depth and talent of the Sluggers. Lars thinks this team has one more run left in the tank.

Los Angeles Marlowes (62-100) 2nd place
Question: How will the team take to the new digs in Chavez Ravine?
Answer: Omar Lewis was a nice FA pickup for the Marlowes, and instantly makes their lineup more effective.
Player to watch: Brook Lennon should benefit greatly from the move to a new stadium.
Outlook: 70-92 - 2nd place. L.A. has some nice players in the minors, and their lineup is pretty decent. The problem is that their pitching staff isn't much to write home about. So while they are in now way going to challenge Omaha, they should have just enough to get by the Sinners and the Corn Dogs.

Las Vegas Sinners (60-102) 3rd place
Question: Will the new look pitching staff be enough to keep the lineup in the black?
Answer: With the departure of Clay Henry, Raymond Sanford is now the go to guy in the lineup.
Player to watch: Gerald Kojima has never won any awards, but he has been very effective wherever he has pitched. The Sinners are hoping he uses his veteran wiles to teach their young pitchers a thing or two.
Outlook: 63-99 - 3rd place - If the Sinners were to call up their AAA team en mass, then there is a high likelihood they could put together a winning season, as the talent in their minors is pretty nice. But the ML team has some issues, most notably the anemic lineup. Still, they will be competitive, and the pieces are in place for next season when those AAA players are in the bigs. Lars sees big changes then, and perhaps the first winning season in a while for this franchise.

Iowa City Corn Dogs (58-104) 4th place
Question: Is it possible to clone Francisco Espada and Furio Kydd multiple times?
Answer: Carl Alexander makes his major league debut, and is the best position player on the team.
Player to watch: Kydd and Espada have such incredible potential that it will be very difficult to wait for them to develop in the minors.
Outlook: 56-106 - 4th place. Iowa City is starting to get some players now at the ML level, but they are still behind the pace of Las Vegas and Los Angeles. But people in the midwest are patient, so that is no worry for the Corn Dogs as they wait for their megaprospects to develop and try to sign some more big names in the draft and through the international market. If nothing else there is some mighty fine popcorn and elephant ears at the stadium to make it an experience.

AL West

Anaheim Sharks (94-68) 1st place
Question: Can the Sharks hold off the rising tide of talented teams in the AL West?
Answer: The Sharks made a huge trade bringing in impact player Victor Johnson.
Player to watch: The lineup is still the best in the West, and is deadly in all spots in the order.
Outlook: 92-70 - 1st place. Anaheim just keeps on making the moves to keep themselves entrenched in 1st place in the west. It's going to get tougher though for the Sharks as the other three teams are rapidly closing the gap, and are bringing up some major players this season. Lars thinks that Anaheim will take the division again, but it will be a close thing indeed.

Tacoma Jerry Gang (77-85) 2nd place
Question: Will the Jerry Gang find the pitching it needs to maximize their home park advantage?
Answer: Tony Arnold has proven the Cobb Times Herald reporters wrong each time he is at bat, and recognizing this the CTH staff rescinds their draft report.
Player to watch: AAA call up Darren Howry could find himself the ace of the staff after a few weeks in Tacoma.
Outlook: 88-74 - 2nd place. Things are looking good for Tacoma, as their good young talent is starting to pay dividends. If they can figure out a way to win at home, Lars thinks this team has potential to be AL West champs. At the very least Lars sees them competing for a wild card spot. The rest of the division won't make it easy though, as Vancouver and Honolulu could easily find themselves in the 2nd spot instead of Tacoma.

Vancouver Grizzlies (76-86) tie - 3rd place
Question: Can the Grizzlies get more than 114 innings out of ace Tommy Wakeland?
Answer: Alex Brantley is a hitting machine, and if he can get some protection in the lineup, should be even better at the plate this season.
Player to watch: Richard Nakajima will be perhaps the biggest impact call up this season. He is ready to start at SS and make some huge noise at the plate.
Outlook: 87-75 - 3rd place. Lars likes the Grizz, and thinks that with a few breaks this could be a division championship team. Even if Vancouver tanks it in the regular season Lars is still excited about their prospects for the draft, where they have the #10 pick and a massive scouting budget that should yield a star with their supplemental pick as well. Add future stud Richard Nakajima to the mix and you have what is projecting to be a very exciting season in Vancouver.

Honolulu Harriers (76-86) tie - 3rd place
Question: How can Lars pick a team with a rotation this good to finish in 4th place?
Answer: Buzz Boswell was the rotation ace for the franchise last season, and should be again this year.
Player to watch: Skeeter Robertson needs to do better than 10-12, as his stuff is simply too good for a record like that.
Outlook - 84-78- 4th place. The Harriers are making an attempt to be the first team in Honolulu to have a winning record in Cobb history. They should do it, barring something unforeseen. With some luck they could also challenge for the division title, but with three other very tough teams it is hard for Lars to see that happening. Still, with the talent in the lineup, the nice addition of free agent R. J. Cubillan, and probably the best rotation in the division there is a lot of potential for this franchise. Unfortunately somebody has to finish 4th, so Lars is picking the Harriers. But don't be surprised if they prove him wrong.

Season 13 Preview - AL and NL South

NL South

Richmond Cohibas (94-68) 1st place
Question: Will this be the year the Cohibas top 100 wins for the first time since season 2?
Answer: Geronimo Liriano was a beast last season, anchoring a lethal Richmond lineup.
Player to watch: Free agent signing Max Navarro makes the transition from the pen to the rotation for the first time in his career, and if he delivers adds to the pitching quality that Richmond craves.
Outlook: 98-64 - 1st place. Richmond has been improving by leaps and bounds the last three seasons, but Lars thinks this is the season where it starts to level off a bit. That being said they are still a 1st place team in a division that was much more respectable last season and earned back some pride. If the Cohibas pitching can keep opponents to less than 4-5 runs a game, the lineup should be able to power them through to another division championship, and possibly a deep playoff run.

Jackson Pollocks (70-92) 2nd place
Question: Lars is still asking himself, "Why did the Pollocks sign David Garrido to that contract?"
Answer: Norm Gibson is the most exciting Norm in Jackson since that dude from Cheers.
Player to watch: Sammy Maduro can still produce, and at his contract price this season is a fairly nice pickup for Jackson.
Outlook: 88-74 - 3rd place. Jackson is a team in transition, and with a few moves here or there could become a wildcard contender. As it stands right now though Lars sees them once again overachieving, as this franchise is always stronger than the sum of its parts. The talent level isn't quite equal with Richmond, or Huntington, but this group of players has proven that it can get it done, so Lars is picking them for another 2nd place finish.

Huntington Hillbillies (85-77) 1st place
Question: Will the Hillbillies just look good on paper, or will they deliver in person?
Answer: The lineup as a whole should produce massive amounts of runs. And they will need to, as Eble Park has not been kind to their pitchers the last few seasons.
Player to watch: Pedro Chavez raked the biggest contract in team history this season, and The Hillbillies are hoping their star SS doesn't spend most of it on snacks at the Wiki Vasquez wing of the local hospital.
Outlook: 84-78 - 3rd place.Lars has really liked the Hillbillies the last few seasons, and each time they have let him down. So this year Lars isn't expecting much from them other than a winning record. The team has too much talent to not be successful, but for whatever reason they just haven't meshed on the field. If they do suddenly become best buddies in the locker room, big things are possible from this squad. Until they prove it on the field though Lars is going to Hillbillies games for the banjos and Natural Light.

Montgomery Burns (59-103) 4th place
Question: Which callups will make an impact this season?
Answer: Despite his abyssmal batting eye, Wascar Lopez was the best player in the lineup and the field for the Burns last season, and they are hoping he can repeat that level of play this year.
Player to watch: AA Prospect Tim Collins is the most electrifying player the team has seen since the glory days of Dallas Kline. When he hits the bigs, big things will happen in Montgomery.
Outlook: 63-99 - 4th place. The Burns are steadily making some moves to bring a competitive team back to the big league level. But right now the best players in the franchise are clearly in the minors, as Collins, along with a trio of very nice starting pitchers, should bring about some major changes once they hit the big leagues. Right now though the team is in a holding pattern, and while they won't embarrass themselves, certainly aren't going to win the division.

AL South

Florida Alemdares (84-78) tie - 1st place
Question: Will the new digs of Dolphin Stadium be a better fit for the great young arms in Florida?
Answer: Year after year, all Hades Booker does is produce. If he can stay healthy in his twilight years he should continue to do so.
Player to watch: Eric Collins and his mustache have yet to break the 15 win barrier, and this is as good a season as any to do it.
Outlook: 90-72 - 1st place. Lars really likes the way this team is built. For whatever reason they just weren't able to do much better than 85 wins in Mexico City. Lars is thinking that the relocation to the pitchers park in Florida should help things considerably. There is more than enough pop in the lineup to support the great pitching, so a winning record is highly likely. But this will be a tight division, so Lars is recommending that you don't count this prediction as a sure thing.

Louisville Dogs (71-91) 3rd place
Question: Will what is now an excellent pitching staff pay dividends in a new hitters park in Louisville?
Answer: Proven vets Benito Rodriguez and Shane Parrish instantly make this rotation/bullpen as good as any other in the division.
Player to watch: Catching prodigy Ralph Woods makes his ML debut this season, and if the scouts are correct, he has a chance to be the next Patrick Stanton.
Outlook: 86-76 - 2nd place. Lars thinks this team is drastically different than it was two seasons ago, and much for the better. The lineup is now deep and balanced, and the rotation is solid from top to bottom with proven vets in Rodriguez and Ugueth Posada and rising stars Eric Holdridge. Getting six time All-Star and former Fireman of the Year Shane Parrish to close out games is a major upgrade as well. Lars thinks big things are possible for this team, and a division championship isn't out of the question, as long as the Dogs avoid the 16 game losing streak this season.

Nashville Rebel Riders (84-78) tie - 1st place
Question: Who will emerge in the rotation to help the Riders keep pace with the Dogs and Almendares?
Answer: Pedro Franco is simply put, the best player on the team, and possibly in the AL South.
Player to watch: Jeremy Hernandez put up decent numbers last season, but his .260 average is far below what he is capable of producing at the plate.
Outlook: 84-78 - 3rd place. Lars didn't see the Rebel Riders take a step backwards this offseason, but he did see Louisville take a giant leap forward, and Florida move to a park that is better for thier pitching. He sees all of these developments adding up to more of the same for Nashville, a winning record, but nothing to show for it this season. If Nashville can improve their starting pitching, which is the real weak spot on the team, they can keep pace. Lars just doesn't see it happening this year.

Kansas City Express (65-97) 4th place
Question: What kind of promotions are the Express going to run to bring fans to thier games?
Answer: The farm system is starting to bear fruits as Derrick Brumbaugh and Ira Black make their big league debuts this year.
Player to watch: Roosevelt Fox and Thurman Tresh are nearly ready to go, and that prospect has K.C. fans excited.
Outlook: 68-94 - 4th place. Kansas City is quietly building a nice foundation for the future. With a few more nice pitching prospects in the minors, Lars thinks that all the Express are missing are few more pieces in the lineup. The ML team won't be a pushover either, but still can't match the quality of the other three teams in the division. But the winds of change are starting to blow in the AL South, and it is looking like the Express will start to deliver soon.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Season 13 Preview - AL and NL East

NL East

Syracuse Beagles (107-55) 1st place
Question: Can The Beagles beat Richmond in the playoffs?
Answer: In what is probably the best lineup and rotation in the league, it's hard to pick just one guy, but Lars likes how Jamie Beimel dominated the regular season last year, and thinks he will be just as good in season 13.
Player to watch: Louie Tarraga brings his MVP calibur skills to Syracuse, and fans will be watching to see if he can help bring home the bacon in the playoffs.
Outlook: 105-57 - 1st place. Lars can say with authority that in an insanely tough division the Beagles are clearly the best team. With the talent on their roster anything less than a World Series appearance will be a disappointment. Lars thinks that if they draw a team other than Richmond in the playoffs, that will be a likely possibility.

Atlanta Pitbulls (89-73) 3rd place
Question: Will this be the season that Atlanta finally makes the playoffs?
Answer: The Pitbulls paid a steep price in their acquisition, but Junior Lee and Nick Weaver are two proven world series championship players with clutch reputations.
Player to watch: Ernest McConnell got paid some big bucks in the offseason, and needs to produce to offset the loss of traded studs Lyle Crudale and Brook Colin.
Outlook: 93-69 2nd place. With the trade for Lee, the Pitbulls have assembled a world championship quality rotation with fellow aces Omar Valenzuela and Tanner Halama. Their lineup is talented as well, but it will be interesting to see how it meshes together with all the new additions. Vernon Jones had a bit of a comeback last season and if he can match that then there is no reason to think that the Pitbulls won't challenge for a wildcard spot.

Columbus HoundDogs (82-80) 3rd place
Question: Will another MVP season from Chipper Harper be wasted on a non playoff team?
Answer: Chipper Harper proved he is arguably the most dangerous hitter in the NL at this moment in time, with a monster year.
Player to watch: The starting rotation as a whole needs to rebound from a year where everything seemed to go wrong. There is too much talent for that to happen again.
Outlook: 90-68 - 3rd place. Lars is a gambling man and is playing the odds that Columbus will rebound from a disappointing season of underperforming play. Harper is golden, The Elvis contingent should be good, and with the addition of all star closer Sarma Inge the bullpen has become a strength. Look for things to improve in Columbus, with them challenging Atlanta for the 2nd spot in the division and a wildcard berth.

Wichita Wankers (92-70) 2nd place
Question: Can the Wankers make it back to the World Series and get a win this time around?
Answer: Davey Silva was once again impressive in easily winning the Cy Young, and is clearly the ace on the staff.
Player to watch: Tanner Durham has to produce more than a .781 OPS, especially as he will be counted on to carry more of the load with the departure of Grant Keats and Justin Snopek.
Outlook: 88-74 - 4th place. Last years surprise world series team took the NL playoffs by storm after riding a huge 2nd half surge that carried them from mediocrity into the playoffs. The Wankers cannot afford another slow start like that this year, as the NL East is too tough to fall behind in and expect to contend. With the departure of two key offensive players in Keats and Snopek, Lars thinks the Wankers have fallen a bit behind in the arms race, and will suffer as a result.

AL East

Cleveland Steamers (96-66) 2nd place
Question: Will the World Champion Steamers make it four straight series appearances and continue their domination of the AL?
Answer: Ruben Gonzales has been nothing but clutch, and is making an argument for the best playoff pitcher of all time.
Player to watch: New additions Lyle Crudale and Brook Colin will be expected to repeat their NL numbers to offset the loss of offensive anchor Nick Weaver.
Outlook: 102-60 - 1st place. The Steamers made a number of trades in the offseason to remake their team, but one thing remains the same and that it is probably the team to beat in the American League. The return of Gary Ferguson coupled with the stellar bullpen work of Trevor Seelbach makes this a deadly rotation, and the lineup is very deep and deadly. There are some injury risk issues, but Lars thinks that barring several big ones, this should be another successful season for Cleveland.

Washington D.C. Momentum (89-73) 2nd place
Question: Will the Momentum keep building in D.C. to the pointe where they can overtake Cleveland?
Answer: Rico Estrada keeps on going, and keeps on selling his shades and jerseys to legions of adoring fans.
Player to watch: Ken Puffer and Ralph Hill will be expected to bring their very respectable talents to bear as D.C. makes a run at taking back the AL East.
Outlook: 94-68- 2nd place. Lars respects the offseason moves the Momentum made in bringing some proven arms and bats to the team. Whether they will be enough to keep pace with Cleveland remains to be seen, but this is clearly the 2nd best team in the division, possibly the 1st with a few breaks. But Lars doesn't pick against reigning world series champions unless he has a good reason to, so he is playing the safe bet and placing the talented D.C. squad in the second slot in the AL East this season.

Pittsburgh SSP (79-83) tie - 3rd place
Question: Will anyone step up to replace departed FA R.J. Cubillan?
Answer: Gregg Young has to shoulder more of the offensive load with Cubillan's departure, and he can handle it.
Player to watch: The rotation as a whole was pretty disappointing last season, and players like Brian Wells are capable of more than a .500 record.
Outlook: 84-78 - 3rd place. The SSP are a good team, just not as good as Cleveland and Washington at the moment. But with Boston franchise going into rebuilding mode Pittsburgh should finally have some easy division games to help keep them in contention for a wildcard spot. Depending on how things shake out in the other AL divisions they could very well swipe the final playoff position, or conversely suffer a sub .500 record. Lars is thinking something between the two is more likely.

Boston Loggers(79-83) tie - 3rd place
Question: Will the fans in Boston accept a team that is trying to retool?
Answer: The farm system is now the answer in Boston as it jettisoned many veterans in the offseason for younger talent.
Player to watch: Francis Kent is one of the young guns who will be counted on to revive the fortunes of this proud franchise, and his developing bat has the ability to help.
Outlook: 64-98 - 4th place. Lars understands that the Boston team was in a bit of a pickle, with so many aging veterans and little in the way of minor league talent to replace them. He thinks that the moves made in the offseason to free up salary and bring in minor league talent were commendable, but the on field result for the ML squad will show the results. While this year may not be the best, it was the right move to make and the young players on the ML team can steal a game from most teams on any given day, so there is reason for the fans to show up.