Thursday, January 21, 2010

Season 15 Preview - American League

Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald

American League

Overview: The American League has been the playground of the Cleveland Steamers for the past five seasons, as the Steamers squad has made the World Series every time during that span and won two championships, including season 14.  But if there is a weakness in the Cleveland Armor, it is their regular season play, as they have only once been the #1 seed during their run of postseason dominance.  With several teams bringing on some major talent through trades and free agency, and the continued maturation of the tough young AL West squads, the road for Cleveland looks much tougher this season.  But as Syracuse knows, and now Tacoma as well, winning a bunch of games in the regular season doesn't mean jack when you lose in a short series.  So who has made some moves to challenge?  Lars takes a look.

Projected Cy Young: Dean Hernandez - Pawtucket G-Maniacs
--Other Contenders: Kazuhiro Ong (NAS), Benito Beltre (TOR), Tommy Wakeland (VAN), Darren Howry (TAC), Eric Collins (FLA)
Projected MVP: Pedro Franco (NAS)
--Other Contenders: Lyle Crudale (CLE), Kory Arnold (ANA), Craig Lake (FLA), Vinny Jang (CLE)
Projected Fireman of the Year: Jared Jacobsen - Anaheim Sharks
--Other Contenders: Geoffrey Knight (FLA)
Projected Rookie of the Year: Thurman Tresh - Kansas City Express
--Other Contenders: Patrick Ramirez (BOS), Roosevelt Fox (KC), King Gonzalez (PAW), Hulk Boone (PAW), Sean Holt (SEA), Stan Wilkerson (TOR), Les Ingram (VAN)

Top Five Rotations in the American League

1. Pawtucket G-Maniacs
2. Toronto Blue Jays
3. Florida Almendares
4. Tacoma Jerry Gang
5. Vancouver Grizzlies

Top Five Lineups in the American League
1. Nashville Rebel Riders
2. Anaheim Sharks
3. Vancouver Grizzlies
4. Florida Almendares
5. Cleveland Steamers

Top Three Offseason Free Agent Signings
1. Craig Lake - Florida Almendares
2. Emmanuel Castillo - Nashville Rebel Riders
3. Apollo Houston - Florida Almendares

Four Teams on the Rise:
1. Kansas City Express
2. Toronto Blue Jays
3. Vancouver Grizzlies
4. Nashville Rebel Riders

Three Teams on the Decline
1. New York Expos
2. Louisville Dogs
3. Cleveland Steamers

Five prospects who could make a difference if called up this season
1. Jerome Mancuso - Cleveland Steamers
2. Mariano Ramirez - Nashville Rebel Riders
3. Russell Walker - Toronto Blue Jays
4. Enos French - Vancouver Grizzlies
5. Dan Mottola - Anaheim Sharks

Projected finishes, by division:

AL North
Pawtucket G-Maniacs - 96-66
Chicago Sabercats - 85-77
Toronto Blue Jays - 78-84
Seattle Pilots - 64-98

AL East
Dover Dingos - 94-68
Cleveland Steamers-89-73
Boston Loggers - 72-90
New York Expos - 68-94

AL South
Nashville Rebel Riders - 98-64
Florida Almendares - 97-63
Kansas City Express - 65-97
Louisville Dogs - 61-101

AL West
Tacoma Jerry Gang -100-62
Anaheim Sharks - 90-72
Vancouver Grizzlies - 90-72
Arizona Tigers - 68-94

Season 15 Preview - National League

Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald

There is a new tide coming in this season in the National League, and it is the new NL West rising as Omaha finally recedes after a decade of dominance.  Still strong is the entire NL East, while there are some old faces coming back for another go in the North and South.  Lars takes a look at what could potentially be a massive power shift in the upcoming seasons, and gives his predictions on things to come in the senior circuit.

National League

Overview: For years in the National League two things were a certainty; one, Syracuse would win a ton of games in the regular season and collapse in the playoffs, and two, Omaha would probably win the World Series.  But Omaha has officially put that dynasty to bed for the time being to retool what was a rapidly aging franchise.  This has blown the door wide open for the rest of the National League, and Jackson was able to capitalize last season before losing a very tightly contested World Series to the Cleveland Steamers.

This year sees some old favorites once again rising to the top, as Jackson built upon their World Series success and had some major free agent moves to bolster their lineup.  But the biggest mover and shaker this season was the Sioux Falls Corn Cleats, who had the busiest offseason in franchise history in an attempt to retake the division and recover from their worst season in team history.  The NL South is now a wide open race as well, as Syracuse was forced to shed some very talented players in order to make their budget, but they are still the match of any of the other teams in the division, just not the guaranteed lock they once were.  The West is now wide open as well, and Iowa City and San Francisco look to be running neck and neck in the race to succeed Omaha as the divisional power to be reckoned with. 

Projected Cy Young: Furio Kydd - Iowa City
--Other Contenders: Clyde Ford (SXF), Davey Silva (WIC), Ivan Canseco (SF), Junior Lee (ATL)
Projected MVP: Chipper Harper - Columbus
--Other Contenders: Paul Jung (SYR), Nick Weaver (ATL), Omar Rosado (NY2)
Projected Fireman of the Year: Kirk White - Syracuse
--Other Contenders: Sarma Inge (CLB)
Projected Rookie of the Year: Francisco Espada - Iowa City
--Other Contenders: Tim Collins (MNT), Jose Vasquez (SXF)

Top Five Rotations in the National League
1. Sioux Falls Corn Cleats
2. Atlanta Pitbulls
3. Columbus HoundDogs
4. Syracuse Beagles
5. New York Pick Pockets

Top Five Lineups in the National League
1. Columbus HoundDogs
2. New York Pick Pockets
3. Syracuse Beagles
4. Wichita Wankers
5. Jackson Pollocks

Top Three Offseason Free Agent Signings
1. Tony Cho - Columbus HoundDogs
2. Dennis Ashby - Jackson Pollocks
3. Steven Booker - Trenton Lions

Top Three Trade Acquisitions
1. Clyde Ford - Sioux Falls Corn Cleats
2. Jamie Beimel - Atlanta Pitbulls
3. Ivan Canseco - San Francisco Earthquakes

Four Teams on the Rise:
1. Iowa City Corn Dogs
2. Sioux Falls Corn Cleats
3. San Francisco Earthquakes
4. Trenton Lions

Three Teams on the Decline
1. Omaha Sluggers
2. Syracuse Beagles
3. Charlotte Thunder

Five prospects who could make a difference if called up this season
1. Theodore Hafner - Atlanta Pitbulls
2. Juan Javier - Montgomery Burns
3. Morgan Kirby - Montgomery Burns
4. Jamie Hayashi - Montgomery Burns
5. Kazuhiro Martin - San Francisco Earthquakes

Projected finishes, by division:

NL North
Sioux Falls Corn Cleats -91-71
New York Pick Pockets - 89-73
Trenton Lions - 72-90
Hartford Whalers - 70-92

NL East
Columbus HoundDogs - 94-68
Wichita Wankers - 92-70
Syracuse Beagles - 91-71
Atlanta Pitbulls - 89-73

NL South
Jackson Pollocks - 96-66
Richmond Cohibas - 87-75
Montgomery Burns - 65-97
Charlotte Thunder - 64-98

NL West
Iowa City Corn Dogs - 92-70
San Francisco Earthquakes - 88-74
Omaha Sluggers - 75-87
Los Angeles Leopards - 61-101

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Hall of Fame Preview with Lars the Greek - Pitcher Edition

Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald

It's time to look at the pitchers who have made their mark in Cobb World over the years, and unlike the hitters, there is a very select group of pitchers who stand head and shoulders above the rest.  First lets take a look at the HOF criteria and the pitchers that make the automatic nomination cut.

7+ All Star Appearances
  1. Kazuhiro Ong - 10
  2. Sean Hill - 9
  3. Kirk White - 9
  4. Dean Hernandez - 7
  5. Shane Parrish - 7
  6. B.C. Steenstra - 7

3+ Fireman of the Year
  1. Kirk White - 5
  2. Randall Harvey - 4
  3. Sarma Inge - 3
  4. Harold Charles - 3

3+ Cy Young Awards
  1. Dean Hernandez - 6
  2. Kazuhiro Ong - 3
  3. Phillip Brown - 3

300+ wins
--No players meet this criteria 

3000+ Ks
--No players meet this criteria

500+ SVs
  1. Sean Hill - 507

Five other great pitchers retired or nearing retirement.
  1. Vance Weaver - 179 W, 6 AS, 2 Cy Youngs, 1 Gold Glove
  2. Olmedo Contreras - 175 W, 5 AS , 1 Cy Young
  3. David Rosado - 168 W, 5 AS, 1 Cy Young
  4. Albert Franco - 181 W, 4 AS, 1 Cy Young
  5. Josias Morales - 186 W, 3 AS, 2 Gold Gloves
Lars' Top Five Picks for the Hall of Fame
--The list for the Cobb Hall of Fame obviously starts with Kazuhiro Ong and Dean Hernandez, both of whom are without a doubt the two best pitchers to ever come through the league at this point in time.  After that you would have to think that Kirk White and Sean Hill also get the nod, for their very impressive career stats and dominance of the bullpen.  The fifth slot is where it gets tricky, as there are many candidates who are deserving.
  1. Kazuhiro Ong - This spot could have easily gone to Hernandez, but Ong gets the slight nod for having greater career numbers at this point, trailing Hernandez only in Cy Youngs.  It could be debated that Ong would have had more Cy Youngs had he been in Hernandez's place, as the competition in the NL was much stiffer during his run through his peak years.  Still, both are great.
  2. Dean Hernandez - Who wouldn't want an SP who is capable of throwing 300+ innings in nearly 40 starts in a year, while winning 60% of them every season?  Hernandez is in all likelihood going to top Ongs career stats by the time he retires, and could make the 300W/3000K plateau before retirement as well, which would then catapult The Dean to #1 on Lars' list.
  3. Kirk White - In terms of pure dominance in the bullpen, there is no comparison to Kirk White.  Boasting an unbelievable combination of power, control, and an unflappable demeanor, White is the standard in Cobb as far as closers are concerned.  He doesn't have 500 saves yet, but barring injury he will certainly attain that milestone and then some, and even if he doesn't his award pedigree can't be argued with.
  4. Sean Hill - His ratings may not show it, but Hill has been the most consistently successful relief pitcher in the history of Cobb World, getting it done since season 1 and still going today.  His longevity is unmatched at the position, and his 9 All Star appearances prove that he has been an elite player for nearly all of his career.  That's Hall of Fame worthy in any argument.
  5. Phillip Brown - This spot could have easily gone to Vance Weaver, but Brown gets the nod with 3 Cy Youngs to Weavers two, and better career averages.  Brown was the elite standard for pitchers in the early years of Cobb, and had he not had part of his prime before the recorded seasons, he could have had the same career numbers as Ong and Hernandez.  Weaver may ultimately surpass him, as he has a few good years left, but at this moment it's Brown who gets the edge.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hall of Fame Preview with Lars the Greek

Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald

Normally known for his playoff and season predictions, Lars the Greek is eagerly anticipating the upcoming Hall of Fame update to HBD, and has turned his considerable prognostication prowess towards determining who is in and out of the Hall of Fame.  Using the criteria laid down from admin on high, here is the list that Lars has to work with, and predictions to follow. 

Position Players
--There have been quite a few great position players through the years in Cobb World, none greater than Jose Barrios, who owns nearly every single offensive category record and has yet to retire, and is one of the few threats in league history to top the 3,000 hit plateau.  After him though the books show a league strong in slugging hitters, with a few very dominant players, and a whole bevy of very good ones.  

Automatic Nomination Categories

7+ Silver Sluggers
  1. Jose Barrios - 8
  2. Dallas Kline - 7
10+ Gold Gloves

--No players meet this criteria

7+ All Star Appearances
  1. Jose Barrios - 10
  2. Ernie Jenkins - 9
  3. Dallas Kline - 8
  4. Vernon Jones - 8
  5. Hades Booker - 7
3+ MVPs
  1. Jose Barrios - 6
  2. Kory Arnold - 4
  3. Chipper Harper - 3
500+ Home Runs
  1. Jose Barrios - 740
  2. Kip Zeile - 665
  3. Jose Cervantes - 628
  4. Domingo Montana - 539
  5. Dallas Kline - 534
  6. Vernon Jones - 529
  7. Orber Olivo - 519
  8. Kenny Blair - 510
3000+ Hits

--No players meet this criteria

20 Players retired or near retirement who were/are great but meet none of those requirements
  1. Marino Sierra
  2. Rico Estrada
  3. Ernest McConnell
  4. Joseph Pan
  5. Thomas Hill
  6. Bob Sears
  7. Terrance Warden
  8. Rob Quinn
  9. Patrick Stanton
  10. Pat Barber
  11. Vitas Newman
  12. Fred McConnell
  13. Corey Green
  14. Ken Puffer
  15. Richard Davis
  16. Alan Peterson
  17. Mendy Strong
  18. Rico Romero
  19. Ryan Saberhagen
  20. Roosevelt Lowell
Lars Top 10 Picks for the Hall of Fame

--Obviously Jose Barrios gets the nod, as does Dallas Kline, after that the definition of greatness becomes limited to fewer categories, as only Barrios and Kline were able to achieve more than 3 of the criteria needed for automatic nomination.  Here is Lars's list:
  1. Jose Barrios - The example of greatness from day one of Cobb World, Barrios is the greatest player in the history of the league, hands down, no questions asked.  Anyone who thinks otherwise needs their head examined.
  2. Dallas Kline - For the first 10 seasons in Cobb World there was a legitimate debate as to who was greater, Kline or Barrios.  Then Kline started his decline, but his records of early Cobb dominance remain, truly an all time great.
  3. Ernie Jenkins - While he may not have reached 500 HR's, Jenkins has more all star appearances than anyone in Cobb History save Barrios, and has two MVP's, which is nothing to sneeze at.  He was an elite hitter and one of the most feared bats of his time.
  4. Marino Sierra - While Sierra didn't crack any of the criteria, he did come close with 6 All Star appearances.  What is more impressive is how complete his game was, there probably wasn't a more effective leadoff hitter in the game for the first 12 years of Cobb, and Sierra currently is a top 5 all time player in runs, stolen bases, walks, and runs created, plus he belted nearly 300 HR's with a career average around .300.  That's Hall of Fame worthy.
  5. Kip Zeile - The #2 all time home run hitter in Cobb World is a lock for the hall, and was probably the most underrated player of his era.  He did finally earn his elusive MVP, but along with Orber Olivo was shut out of the All Star game far to often, perhaps because of his shining personality.
  6. Vernon Jones - A 500 home run hitter at the catcher position is a rare thing, and Jones is the most decorated player at that position in Cobb history.  A fan favorite, Jones was also a very good defensive catcher as well as being a monster at the plate, only Patrick Stanton and Vitas Newman are close historically for catchers.
  7. Kory Arnold - Four MVP's is the most impressive stat in Arnolds career, second only to Jose Barrios' six awards.  No other player has dominated the American League like the stretch Arnold put together from seasons 8-11, although young Pedro Franco is making a run.  Arnold may possibly reach 500 home runs, but even if he doesn't he deserves a spot in the hall.
  8. Rico Estrada - Six time All Star Rico Estrada was the standard for shortstops for a decade in the first years of Cobb World.  An all time top five player in hits and runs, as well as coolness, Estrada was the first major impact international free agent to hit Cobb World, and his influence has been felt in the league ever since.
  9. Fred McConnell - McConnell gets a veteran's committee vote from Lars, as his first five seasons in the league were so completely dominating that it is hard to leave him out, imagining what he could have been if all of his prime were spent playing in recorded seasons.  A good fielder at CF as well, McConnell deserves a spot in the Hall.
  10. Jose Cervantes - Hard to imagine how a player who has hit over 600 home runs has only been an All Star twice, but Cervantes has very quietly put up some of the most ridiculous power numbers in Cobb history.  Still a very effective power hitter, it isn't unreasonable to think that he could top 700 home runs before his career is over.  That is most certainly a Hall of Fame number by any stretch of the imagination.