Saturday, July 31, 2010

Hot Prospects - AL South Report

Chuck Biscuits - Cobb Times Herald

The AL South features two very deep minor league systems, and two that aren't.  As you would guess, the depth of the farm system is inversely proportional to the success of the major league squad. 

Florida Almendares
Blue Ribbon - None
Red Ribbon - None
Yellow Ribbon - RF Julio Baez
White Ribbon - 1B Vic Melian, 2B Patrick McGowan, 3B Jose Flores, SS Ivan Ohman, C/DH Mark Lee, RP Omar Ibarra
Overall Farm System Grade: D

Kansas City Tweakers

Blue Ribbon - 1B Don Ross, SP Juan Romano
Red Ribbon - SP Doug Dreifort,
Yellow Ribbon - SP Wiki Ordaz, SP Russell Hood
White Ribbon -2B Milt Romero, 2B Jerry Walters, SS Chris Paquette
Overall Farm System Grade: B

Nashville Rebel Riders
Blue Ribbon - SP Alex Dodson
Red Ribbon - None
Yellow Ribbon -None
White Ribbon -SS Eric Dreifort, RF Ernie Brow, RP Ricardo Pinzon
Overall Farm System Grade: C-

Santa Fe Greyhounds

Blue Ribbon - SP Bennie Duvall
Red Ribbon - SP Wade Stowers,SP Albert Kimbrell
Yellow Ribbon -C Vic Santana, 1B Seth Feldman, DH Curt Allen, RP Javier Sierra
White Ribbon -C/DH Tom Lambert, C Tris Flair, SS Edwin Potvin, SS Bernie Javier, SS Edwin Ward, LF John Torrealba, CF Fred Benoit, RP Herbert Christian, RP Ricardo Espinosa, RP Jake Guerrero,
RP Sammy Blasco
Overall Farm System Grade: A-

Hot Prospects - AL West Report

Chuck Biscuits - Cobb Times Herald

The AL West is home to some very well stocked farm systems, and well cared for too.  The Times Herald gives some big props to what is probably the most well balanced division in terms of their minor leagues. 

Anaheim Sharks
Blue Ribbon - None
Red Ribbon - RF Morris Coomer, SP Torey McFarland
Yellow Ribbon - 2B Kevin Vickers, SP Derrin Washburn
White Ribbon - 2B Orval Edmonds, 2B Bubba Pisciotta, RF Darryl Spehr, SP Ryan Post, SP Manny Hollingsworth, SP Frank McMasters
Overall Farm System Grade: B

St. Louis Tweakers
Blue Ribbon - CF Al Ramos, SP Kirk Barnes
Red Ribbon - 2B Pablo Rosa
Yellow Ribbon - RP Yeico Oliva,
White Ribbon - 1B Eliezer Hernandez, SS Steve Harris, CF Wiki Molina, RF Stubby Grabowski, SP Craig Webster, RP Peter Zheng
Overall Farm System Grade: B+

Vancouver Grizzlies
Blue Ribbon - None
Red Ribbon - 2B Lonny Ramirez, SS Edwin Kaye, LF Braden Nitkowski,
Yellow Ribbon - 2B Joey Parkers,
White Ribbon - 1B Rafael Beltran, SS Ryan Hall, LF Junior Chang, CF Mac Price
Overall Farm System Grade: B

Tacoma Jerry Gang
Blue Ribbon - SS Gorkys Carrara, SP Al Gomez
Red Ribbon - CF Stuart Fischer,
Yellow Ribbon - 3B Aramis Estrada, RP Brant Ford
White Ribbon - C Brian Hasagawa, SS Gail Spahn, CF Albert Bravo, SP Matthew Padgett, RP Nigel Rivers, RP Chris Withers
Overall Farm System Grade: B+

Hot Prospects - NL West Report

Chuck Biscuits - Cobb Times Herald

Today we head out to the wild west, where there are some nice looking players on the farm, and the minors are generally well stocked with players.

Iowa City Corn Dogs
Blue Ribbon - SP Alfredo Jacquez
Red Ribbon - SP Josh Biddle, RP Dicky Bong
Yellow Ribbon - SP Andre Penny
White Ribbon - 2B Felipe Zorilla, SS Kent Milton, RF Brian Ball, SP Tomas Mijares
Overall Farm System Grade: B+

Los Angeles Leopards
Blue Ribbon - SS Jose Martinez, SS Samuel Baker, RF Napoleon Graves
Red Ribbon - None
Yellow Ribbon - None
White Ribbon - SP Willie James
Overall Farm System Grade: C

Omaha Sluggers
Blue Ribbon - SS Brutus Meyers, LF Vic Sosa
Red Ribbon - SS James Quinn
Yellow Ribbon - 1B Carl Snell, RP Teddy Bigbie
White Ribbon - C Nate Harper, C Erubiel Posada, 2B Wilt Daily, SP Delino Marichal, RP Art Ryan, RP Lloyd Hill
Overall Farm System Grade: B+

San Francisco Earthquakes
Blue Ribbon - None
Red Ribbon - None
Yellow Ribbon - C Hideo Miyakazi, SS Ricardo Flores, SP Nolan Payton
White Ribbon - SS Stevie Anderson, LF Eric Sutton, RF Kane Flores, SP Harry Atacio, RP Dick Singleton, RP Yovani Arias
Overall Farm System Grade:C+

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hot Prospects - NL South Report

Chuck Biscuits - Cobb Times Herald

While the NL East was a talent wasteland in the minors, the NL South is practically the fertile crescent.  There are some major talents making their way through the system that will someday wreak massive havoc upon the major leagues.  Who are they?  Read on and find out.

Charlotte Thunder
Blue Ribbon - SP Harry Mendoza,
Red Ribbon - RP Augie Badilla
Yellow Ribbon - RP Dom Lowell, RP Gabe Kirby
White Ribbon - C Hector Mercado, 2B Jack Holt, 2B Jose Reyes, SS Jim Wyatt, SP Allie Kingman
Overall Farm System Grade: B

Jackson Pollacks
Blue Ribbon - SP Vin Lunar
Red Ribbon - None
Yellow Ribbon - C Torey Corino, LF Randy Brown, SP Darrell Gibbs
White Ribbon - C Sam Lee, 2B Jimmy Ellis, 3B Cesar Sanchez, SS Orlando Julio, SS Roberto Santos, CF Chet Patrick
Overall Farm System Grade: B

Montgomery Burns

Blue Ribbon -SS Oswaldo Prieto, SP Howard Hall, SP Sherman Rodgers,
Red Ribbon - C Terry Bannister, RP John Miller
Yellow Ribbon -RP R.J. Vizquel
White Ribbon -C Michael Campbell, 2B Tony Dellaero, SS Joe Lincoln,
Overall Farm System Grade: A

Richmond Cohibas
Blue Ribbon - SS Julio Espinosa, SS Mandy Reagan
Red Ribbon - None
Yellow Ribbon - 2B Stone Cronin, SP Luther Hoffman
White Ribbon - 2B Sean Breen, RP Garland McMillan
Overall Farm System Grade: B

Hot Prospects - NL East Report

Chuck Biscuits - Cobb Times Herald

There really isn't much to say about the farm systems of the NL East other than that they exist.  If you are looking for trades, you had best look elsewhere.

Atlanta Pitbulls
Blue Ribbon - None
Red Ribbon - None
Yellow Ribbon - SP Felipe Costilla
White Ribbon - C Kareem Cox, SP Trip Jefferies
Overall Farm System Grade: D-

Columbus HoundDogs

Blue Ribbon - None
Red Ribbon - None
Yellow Ribbon - None
White Ribbon - LF Les Cooper, RF Chul Jung
Overall Farm System Grade: F

Tampa Bay Beagles
Blue Ribbon - None
Red Ribbon - None
Yellow Ribbon - SP Ricardo Roque
White Ribbon - 1B Jolbert Guerrero, DH/1B Tony Espinosa, SP Bryce Fife, RP Seth Shipley, SP Shouhei Komatsu
Overall Farm System Grade: D+

Wichita Wankers
Blue Ribbon - None
Red Ribbon - None
Yellow Ribbon -C Brad Guiel
White Ribbon - 1B Isaac Peters, 2B Bruce Montgomery, 2B Richie Hermansen, RF B.C. Johnson, SP Hooks Surtain, SP Pablo Vicente, SP Luis Pinzon, RP Omar Arredondo, SP Al Telgheder
Overall Farm System Grade: C-

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hot Prospects - NL North Report

Chuck Biscuits - Cobb Times Herald

In this upcoming series the Times Herald will be taking a trip out to the farm, to look for the prize goats and blue ribbon hogs that are growing in every franchises minor leagues.  The 4H Fair/Danish Ribbon system will be the criteria used to judge a prospect, blue ribbon for the absolute best, red for very good, yellow for good, and white for acceptable quality.  Due to time constraints some reports may only contain blue and red ribbon prospects.  The first farm systems to be examined are those of the NL North, home to some down home Midwest cooking and East coast class.  But it must be said that not all of these farms are Bob Evans quality, some are more akin to Po' Folks.   

Burlington Champs
Blue Ribbon - None
Red Ribbon - C Bernie Martin
Yellow Ribbon - SS Willie Latham, 2B Merv Curtis, RP J.P. Tatis,
White Ribbon - SP Dingo Douglas, SP Gene Burnett, SP Jose Estrada, 1B Raul Park
Overall Farm System Grade: C

New York Pick Pockets
Blue Ribbon - None
Red Ribbon - None
Yellow Ribbon - None
White Ribbon - SP Don Sherman, RP Bo Henderson, SP Al Bonine, RP Alfredo Castro
Overall Farm System Grade: D-

Sioux Falls Corn Cleats
Blue Ribbon -SP Davey Koch
Red Ribbon - 2B Virgil Snelling, LF Frank Zaun,
Yellow Ribbon - RP Isaac Rose, CF Ralph Starr
White Ribbon - 1B Carlos Gonzalez
Overall Farm System Grade: B

Trenton Lions
Blue Ribbon - 1B Juan Cordero, SS Eduardo Ayala, RP Vic Lopez
Red Ribbon - SS Philip Thomas, RP Cody Brantley
Yellow Ribbon - C Mitch Shafer, 1B Jerome Newsome, RP Oswaldo Wilfredo, SP Bip Lake
White Ribbon - 1B Wade Wilhelm, 2B Milt Slaughter, 2B Felipe Martin, SP Billy Campbell, RP Pedro Baez, SP Javier Estrada
Overall Farm System Grade: A

Monday, July 26, 2010

Lars the Greek's Season 17 Preview - American League

Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald

For the first time since season 10, an American League team other than the Cleveland Steamers won the AL Pennant, with the Florida Almendares breaking through and ultimately taking the World Series title in season 16.  It will be tough for them to repeat in season 17, as the Steamers are still a juggernaut, Tacoma is drastically improved after one of the biggest trades in Cobb History, and Toronto is rapidly rising in the AL North.  Who will emerge from these and a host of other talented squads to win the AL this year?  Lars looked deep into his ball for the answers, so read on to find out.

American League

Lars the Greeks Divisional Breakdowns

AL North: There has been a seismic shift in the AL North, where the Toronto Blue Jays unseated the perennial division champs Pawtucket after 14 straight division titles, a record streak that is unlikely to ever be broken in Cobb World in the future.  Furthermore, the G-Maniacs trade hall of famer and face of the franchise SP Dean Hernandez to Tacoma in a retooling move.  The other teams in the AL North are rejoicing not having to face the Dean every four starts, and it looks like Toronto is now the clear favorite for the title with their dominant pitching staff and improving lineup.  Pawtucket will be competitive, while Chicago and Seattle continue to rebuild.  But the future is now wide open in the North, and is officially anyone's game.

AL East: Cleveland finally put together a regular season to match what it was capable of in season 16 en route to the #1 seed in the playoffs, while previous division winner Dover put together a solid season worthy of a wildcard berth.  It is looking like another dogfight between these two teams as Syracuse and New York simply don't have the talent to go toe to toe with the two big dogs in the division.  Lars thinks that Cleveland will again take the division title, but not without a fight.

AL South:  Florida and Nashville have been ruling the roost in the South for several seasons now, but in short order the Kansas City Express will be butting their heads in for a piece of the action.  The Express have been very active in the offseason upgrading their franchise with veterans to go along with their upcoming prospects, most notably trading for stud catcher Ralph Woods and signing 1B Brace Davey to add some pop to the lineup.  But while KC is improved, Florida and Nashville both won 100+ games last season, which means that they are still kings as long as players such as Eric Collins and Pedro Franco are plying their trades for those franchises.  Meanwhile the rebuilding Santa Fe Greyhounds have assembled one of the most talented set of SP's in the minors, and in 3-4 seasons will be a force to be reckoned with.  Lars thinks that Florida will take the division again, but it will be much closer. 

AL West:  Anaheim once again proved Lars wrong and easily dispatched the two teams picked to finish ahead of them in the standings and beat out Lars' win prediction by 13 games to easily take the division.  Tacoma and Vancouver disappointed however and didn't live up to the hype.  Things look to be much different this season though, as Vancouver lost a lot of quality to free agency, and Tacoma brought on board one of the greatest difference makers in Cobb today in SP Dean Hernandez.  St. Louis looks to continue rebuilding while the rest of the division dukes it out.  Vancouver managed to recoup some of their losses with free agent signings, but Lars thinks this is a two horse race, and with the addition of Hernandez Tacoma is the favorite.

Projected Cy Young: Dean Hernandez - Tacoma Jerry Gang
--Other Contenders: Kazuhiro Ong (NAS), Benito Beltre (TOR), Darren Howry (PAW), Eric Collins (FLA), Trevor Seelbach (CLE)
Projected MVP: Pedro Franco (NAS)
--Other Contenders: Lyle Crudale (CLE), Ralph Woods (KC), Richard Nakajima (VAN), Vinny Jang (CLE)
Projected Fireman of the Year: Jared Jacobsen - Anaheim Sharks
--Other Contenders: Raymond Hawkins (FLA), Jared Jacobsen (LAA), Edgardo Romero (DOV)
Projected Rookie of the Year: Ralph Walsh - St. Louis Tweakers
--Other Contenders: Shannon Sosa (DOV), Emilio Mairena (NY), Julius Olmos (SYR)

Top Five Rotations in the American League

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

Top Five Bullpens in the American League
1. Cleveland Steamers
2. Anaheim Sharks
3. Florida Almendares
4. Dover Dingos
5. Vancouver Grizzlies

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

Top Three Offseason Free Agent Signings
1. Bosco Simon - Toronto Blue Jays
2. Talmadge Young - Dover Dingos
3. Tanner Durham  - Vancouver Grizzlies

Three Teams on the Rise:
1. Toronto Blue Jays
2. St. Louis Tweakers
3. Kansas City Express

Two Teams on the Decline
1. Vancouver Grizzlies
2. Santa Fe Greyhounds

Six prospects who could make a difference if called up this season
1. Morris Coomer - Anaheim Sharks
2. Torey McFarland - Anaheim Sharks
3. Malcolm Tucker - Cleveland Steamers
4. Julio Baez - Florida Almendares
5. Juan Romano - Kansas City Express
6. Ugueth Palaez - Toronto Blue Jays

Projected finishes, by division:

AL North
Toronto Blue Jays - 94-68
Pawtucket G-Maniacs - 85-77
Seattle Pilots - 76-84
Chicago Sabercats - 66-96

AL East
Cleveland Steamers - 102-60
Dover Dingoss - 93-69
Syracuse Sympathizers - 74-88
New York Expos - 65-97

AL South
Florida Almendares - 98-64
Nashville Rebel Riders - 91-71
Kansas City Express - 78-84
Santa Fe Greyhounds - 54-108

AL West
Tacoma Jerry Gang - 103-59
Anaheim Sharks - 98-64
Vancouver Grizzlies 85-77
St. Louis Tweakers - 73-89

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lars the Greek's Season 17 Preview - National League

Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald

The National League relinquished it's hold on the world series trophy when Richmond got swept by Florida in last years championship.  But Richmond making it to the Series heralded a new wide open era where the pennant is anyone's game in the National League, as quality teams abound and there is little separating division champions from 3rd place.  Lars the Greek is back once again to break it all down and use his viking runes to see who will come out of the melee and represent the senior circuit in the playoffs.

National League

Lars the Greeks Divisional Breakdowns

NL North: For the second season in a row the NL North came down to the last game, and this time it was New York getting the better of Sioux Falls with an extra innings win to take the division.  It looks like more of the same, with the Cleats and the Pick Pockets sporting pretty equal squads, while Trenton looks to capitalize on their first ever winning season with even more progress.  Burlington is probably a few seasons away yet, but they still have the capability to beat anyone on the right day.  Even though Trenton has the best lineup of any of the teams in the division Lars is predicting that until they get some pitching, it's going to keep coming down to Sioux Falls and New York, and Lars likes the Cleats just a little bit better this season, thanks mostly to the potential of 185 more innings of Kirk White. 

NL East: Atlanta emerged from a four team dogfight that was the tightest divisional contest in years, winning by one game over Tampa Bay and Columbus, and two over Wichita.  Things have been shaken up yet again in what was a very competitive offseason where Atlanta bid hard on the top free agents but had to settle for their second choices, Tampa signed the best available pitcher but promptly put him up for sale on the trade market, Columbus made some trades but is mostly unchanged, and Wichita made some big acquisitions.  Who will win the NL Beast is entirely up for grabs, at least in Lars opinion.

NL South: Montgomery looked like the team to beat for much of the season in the NL South last year, but Richmond charged hard down the stretch to take the division and ultimately reach the World Series for the first time in franchise history.  Will they have what it takes to repeat as NL champs this year?  Probably not, simply because the NL is so deep and Montgomery has yet another wave of stud minor leaguers ready to be called to big league service.  Jackson and Charlotte recognize that this might not be the best time to compete for the division title and are reloading the chambers to make a run down the road a few seasons.  It's a two horse race, and Lars thinks that this year Montgomery has the edge.

NL West:  San Francisco suffered greatly last season and went from divisional winner to a losing record, leaving Iowa City to claim the NL West.  The Corn Dogs were a deserving champ though, and earned the #1 overall seed in the NL playoffs, before losing a tough series to Richmond in the NL championship round.  Omaha is rebuilding with steady and noticable progress, as are the Leopards, although Los Angeles is currently in a bigger rebuild state than the Sluggers.  San Francisco might give Iowa City a challenge this year if things fall into place for the Earthquakes, but Lars thinks that Iowa City should take the West without breaking too much of a sweat. 

Projected Cy Young: Kirk White - Sioux Falls Corn Cleats
--Other Contenders: Davey Silva (WIC), Tommy Wakeland (TB), Jamie Hayashi (MNT), Junior Lee (ATL), Furio Kydd (IA)
Projected MVP: Chipper Harper - Columbus
--Other Contenders: Nick Weaver (ATL), Omar Rosado (NY2), Tim Collins (MNT), Doyle Grey (MNT), Benji Ordonez (RIC), Wascar Galvez (TRE)
Projected Fireman of the Year: Sarma Inge (CLB)
--Other Contenders: Kirk White (SXF), William Kim (SF)
Projected Rookie of the Year: Benito Diaz - Tampa Bay Beagles
--Other Contenders: Vin Boldin (BUR), Greg Salazar (CLB), Damaso Guapo (MNT), Tino Chang (TRE)

Top Five Rotations in the National League
1. Montgomery Burns
2. Sioux Falls Corn Cleats
3. Atlanta Pitbulls
4. Iowa City Corn Dogs
5. Tampa Bay Beagles

Top Five Bullpens in the National League
1. Sioux Falls Corn Cleats
2. Columbus HoundDogs
3. San Francisco Earthquakes
4. Wichita Wankers
5. Richmond Cohibas

Top Five Lineups in the National League
1. Wichita Wankers
2. Atlanta Pitbulls
3. San Francisco Earthquakes
4. Montgomery Burns
5. Trenton Lions

Top Three Offseason Free Agent Signings
1. Tommy Wakeland - Tampa Bay Beagles
2. Trent Billingsley - San Francisco Earthquakes
3. Ugueth Perez - Richmond Cohibas

Top Three Trade Acquisitions
1. Charles Reese - Wichita Wankers
2. Norm Gibson - Sioux Falls Corn Cleats
3. Benito Diaz - Tampa Bay Beagles

Three Teams on the Rise:
1. Montgomery Burns
2. Trenton Lions
3. San Francisco Earthquakes

Three Teams on the Decline
1. Jackson Pollocks
2. Tampa Bay Beagles
3. Columbus HoundDogs

Five prospects who could make a difference if called up this season
1. Alfonso Chavez - Burlington Huskies
2. Napolean Graves - Los Angeles Leopards
3. Howard Hall - Montgomery Burns
4. Oswaldo Prieto - Montgomery Burns
5. Vic Lopez - Trenton Lions

Projected finishes, by division:

NL North
Sioux Falls Corn Cleats -93-68
New York Pick Pockets - 90-72
Trenton Lions - 86-76
Burlington Champs - 67-95

NL East
Wichita Wankers - 94-68
Atlanta Pitbulls - 93-69
Columbus HoundDogs - 92-70
Tampa Bay Beagles - 89-73

NL South
Montomgery Burns - 96-66
Richmond Cohibas - 90-72
Charlotte Thunder - 65-97
Jackson Pollocks - 63-99

NL West
Iowa City Corn Dogs - 94-68
San Francisco Earthquakes - 89-74
Omaha Sluggers - 80-82
Los Angeles Leopards - 75-87

Monday, July 19, 2010

Tito McQueens Guide to the Season 17 HOF

Tito McQueen - Cobb Times Herald

The nominations are in, and voting has begun for the Season 17 Hall of Fame Class in Cobb World. There are some big names eligible for induction into the shrine of eternal greatness, but are they elite enough to make the cut? Here's a rundown of how Tito would vote if given the chance.

First Ballot Lock - Sean Hill
--Sure his ERA and WHIP aren't that great, but the dude has over 500 saves, the only other relievers even close to that mark are Sarma Inge and Kirk White, and nobody would argue with their greatness. In the freewheeling early years of HBD, Hill was consistently good, and almost always up for the Fireman of the Year award, and was good enough to be the closer for the Omaha dynasty, which ought to tell you all you need to know.

Why Wasn't He Voted in the First Time? - Fred McConnell
--Along with Marino Sierra, Fred McConnell was the greatest leadoff man of his generation. Unlike Sierra, McConnell also played the defensively difficult 2B/CF for the early portion of his career. For the first seven seasons in Cobb there simply wasn't a better all around threat, including Jose Barrios. It's hard to believe, but McConnell posted better numbers after moving to the pitchers park in Omaha from the hitters haven in Huntington. He was a key member of three World Series champions, and boasts a career OPS of nearly 1.000, which is impressive given the longevity of his career. He was effective until the age of 38, which is very rare for a hitter in HBD, and really was one of the all time early greats.

Best of the Rest - B.C. Steenstra, Domingo Montana, Olmedo Contreras
--These players are all just a step below the previous two in Tito's opinion, but were pretty much as good as it got when they were playing in their prime. Steenstra's .695 winning percentage was the among the best of that generation of pitchers, and he was a true #1 starter and 7 time All Star. Montana produced massive power numbers from the SS position, to the tune of 539 Home Runs, only HOFer Dallas Kline was better at SS in that regard, and is still in the all time top 5 for Home Runs. Contreras was also one of the best pitchers of his generation, and up until his retirement was a top five pitcher in key categories such as wins, strikeouts, etc... All three of these players are probably deserving of being in the Hall at some point.

Great, but Great Enough for the Hall of Fame? - Bob Sears, Roosevelt Lowell, Vasco Chantres, Richard Davis, Terrance Warden, Mendy Strong, Orber Olivo, Flip Heathcott, Pat Barber, Banana McBride, Randall Harvey.
--In their primes, every single one of these players was an All Star that would have been an asset to any team they were on. But when compared to the players that will be eventually entering the Hall of Fame, like Jose Barrios, Kaz Ong, Dean Hernandez, Vance Weaver, Kip Zeile, etc.. they simply just don't make the cut.

Special Note - Wiki Vasquez
--Wiki did more to help launch the Cobb Times Herald blog than any other player except Kip Zeile and possibly Orber Olivo. Thanks to his injury prone ways, Wiki was never able to fully utilize his talented hitting skills, but is still a legend in Cobb World, and should he get into the Hall of Fame it wouldn't be a disaster by any stretch, and would probably be welcome by many old timers.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dean Hernandez Traded to Tacoma

Buster Gunns - Cobb Times Herald

In what has been the biggest trade of the offseason, and what will probably be the biggest trade of the year, perennial all star and future hall of famer Dean Hernandez was dealt to the Tacoma Jerry Gang in exchange for talented young hurler Darren Howry and throw in RP Bip Riley.  Hernandez's accomplishments speak for themselves, with a 248-112 W-L record, a career WHIP/ERA of 1.08/2.55, and 2,435 strikeouts, the former Dean of Pawtucket is one of the two greatest pitchers in Cobb World history, matched only by King Kaz Ong.  With Hernandez showing no signs of decline it is a good bet that even at the age of 34 he still has 4-5 good seasons left before he slows down.  Following is a detailed breakdown of the trade:

Dean Hernandez
Jerry Gang
Age: 34B/T: S/R
Born: Detroit, MI
Position(s): P (T1A)
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

Tacoma gets: Dean Hernandez
--As was mentioned earlier, Hernandez is quite simply legendary in Cobb World.  Capable of tossing 300 elite innings on a yearly basis, one can only imagine how his stats will be amplified by playing half of his games in Tacoma's Cheney Stadium, far and away one of the more pitcher friendly locales in the league.  He should get a great amount of run support too, as Tacoma's offense has recently matured into one of the better ones i the league.  The risk for Tacoma is that in his final year of a 5 year max deal, Hernandez refuses to resign and walks at the end of the season, leaving the Jerry Gang with nothing to show but some compensation picks.  Still, for a team wanting to win and win now, no bigger statement could be made than acquiring Hernandez.
Verdict: Home Run!

Darren Howry
Age: 25B/T: R/R
Born: Richmond, CA
Position(s): P (SP1)
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

Bip Riley
Age: 27B/T: R/R
Born: Briarcliff Manor, NY
Position(s): P (P)
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

Pawtucket gets: Darren Howry & Bip Riley
--Howry is 9 years younger than Hernandez, which was the major draw for Pawtucket in acquiring the talented right hander.  For a team looking to rebuild around younger talent few young starters are as good as Howry.  Howry's ratings are fairly comparable to the Deans, except that he doesn't show the workhorse stamina, and isn't as good vs. left handed hitting, otherwise he could go toe to toe in most other areas.  It will take some getting used to for Pawtucket fans accustomed to seeing Hernandez pitch every 4th day to only get a start every 5 from Howry, but he's a keeper and has a very bright future.  Riley will be serviceable as a reliever, but doesn't really show a whole lot to distinguish himself from his peers, whereas Howry has Cy Young potential. 
Verdict: Home Run (bordering on a triple, simply because Hernandez was so awesome it would be hard to get absolutely equal value)

So in summation this appears to be a win-win for both teams, and this deal has to vault Tacoma back into the drivers seat for the AL pennant, while keeping Pawtucket competitive while they retool the lineup and rotation.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Season 17 Offseason Free Agency Preview

Tommy Wakeland
Age: 29B/T: S/R
Born: Webbers Falls, OK
Position(s): P (SP2)
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

Talmadge Young
Age: 36B/T: R/R
Born: Westbrook, MN
Position(s): P (SP2)
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

Alex Brantley
Age: 27B/T: R/R
Born: Merrimack, NH
Position(s): RF/CIF/LF
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

The three fine fellows above are the big 3 of Season 17's Free Agent Class. Will they too end up on the same team like LeBron, Wade and Bosh?

Special Correspondent - Leon Jackson

The Hot Stove is blazing in the Cobb World and we're here to give you the low down on this offseason's top free agents. Let's get to it!

1. Tommy Wakeland, 29, SP
Type A Free Agent
Key Stat: 3.64 Career ERA

Possible Destinations: Toronto, Vancouver, Pawtucket, Richmond, Los Angeles, San Francisco
Salary Over/Under: 4 years, $45 million

Signed with Tampa Bay - 5 years, $69 million

Wakeland gets the nod as this offseason’s top free agent. He has great ratings across the board with no weaknesses to note, other than a low durability that will limit him to about 180 innings per season. But those should be a great 180 innings. He has the upside to be a staff ace, although only has posted one season with an ERA below 3.50. We certainly think he can step up – on the right team he could go sub 3.00. His age is a plus, he’s only 29, so there’s not much worry about decline during the contract he’ll sign this offseason.

2. Talmadge Young, 36, SP
Type A Free Agent
Key Stat: 3.76 career ERA

Possible Destinations: Wichita, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Vancouver, Richmond, Dover
Salary Over/Under: 3 years, $31 million

Signed with Dover - 3 years, $36.5 million

Young is getting up there in age, but his skills haven’t diminished much, and it looks like he’s still got a few solid years left in the tank. Coming off a tremendous run in Columbus, he’ll definitely be an asset to the rotation for whoever ends up with him. He has outstanding control and pitches, good splits and can still go 200 innings. Basically, his only downside is his age, but he’ll be great again this season.

3. Alex Brantley, 27, RF
Type A Free Agent
Key Stat: At least 42 HR, 118 RBI the last 3 seasons

Possible Destinations: Pawtucket, Vancouver, Toronto, Atlanta, Dover, Tampa Bay
Salary Over/Under: 5 years, $55 million

Signed with San Francisco - 5 years, $102 million

In a free agent class lacking quality at positions outside of 1B/LF/DH, Brantley’s combination of fielding and hitting skills earn him the top spot on the offensive side on the free agent rankings. Brantley can flat out mash the ball, and is pretty good in the field too. His age has to be considered a big plus as well, as he is only 27 and has several more quality years ahead of him. Not much downside here – he does strikeout a lot and doesn’t have the greatest OBP, if you’re looking for something. But overall, he’s the most complete offensive player in this year’s pool.

4. Skeeter Robertson, 31, SP
Type B Free Agent
Key Stat: 4.18 career ERA

Possible Destinations: Tampa Bay, Nashville, Los Angeles, Richmond, Toronto, Syracuse
Salary Over/Under: 4 years, $36 million

Signed with Seattle - 3 years, $18.6 million

Skeeter is a solid lefty, with great control and splits, but only decent pitches. He’s not a top of a rotation starter, but he can be a solid #2 or #3. He hasn’t exactly set the world on fire the past few seasons, but he can still be a solid SP, and given the fact that there aren’t that many great starters who are still in their prime in this crop of free agents, that boosts his value as well.

5. Bosco Simon, 31, LF
Type A Free Agent
Key Stat: .835 career OPS

Possible Destinations: Atlanta, Vancouver, Santa Fe, Dover, Sioux Falls, San Francisco
Salary Over/Under: 3 years, $16 million

Signed with Toronto - 4 years, $25.6 million

Bosco’s back on the top Free Agents list this season after a one season stint in Vancouver in which he posted solid, yet not spectacular numbers. But in this class, he’s one of the top offensive players, and has potential to do even better than he did in Vancouver last season. He has decent enough skills to possibly play RF defensively, which is a plus, and has excellent offensive skills across the board.

6. Vladimir Segui, 30, 1B/DH
No Designation
Key Stat: 244 career HR

Possible Destinations: Kansas City, Chicago, Syracuse, Los Angeles, Atlanta
Salary Over/Under: 3 years, $15 million

Signed with Atlanta - 3 years, $15.3 million

Segui is a masher, who has two 40 HR seasons to his credit, and seems like he could do it again this season, even though he saw a slight power rating decrease from the prior year. He’s got good contact for a power hitter, and his splits and batting eye are good, but not great. He’s a bit of a liability defensively, he may be best as an AL DH. Obviously, his best asset is his power.

7. Mike Wilson, 28, LF
Type A Free Agent
Key Stat: .825 career OPS, youth

Possible Destinations: Syracuse, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Tampa Bay, Toronto
Salary/Over Under: 4 years, $16 million

Signed with Vancouver - 1 year, $7 million

Mike Wilson struggled a bit last season in New York, but all signs point to him being able to bounce back. He is after all only 28, and should have several good seasons left in him. He has solid power, and nice contact and batting eye. He isn’t strong against righties, which is a slight concern, but hits lefties well. He can be a solid contributor in most lineups, but probably isn’t someone who can carry a team.

8. Curt Person, 30, RP
No Designation
Key Stat: 2.22 ERA last season

Possible Destinations: Sioux Falls, Nashville, Atlanta, San Francisco
Salary Over/Under: 3 Years, $9 million

Signed with Toronto - 1 year, $4.4 million

Person is coming off a tremendous season in St. Louis where he posted a 2.22 ERA over 77 innings. We think he’s capable of a few more similar seasons. His two pitches are outstanding to go with fairly good splits and control. He also doesn’t give up a lot of flyballs. If you’re looking for a reliever, Person’s one of the best available in this free agent class.

9. Pedro Nieves, 35, RP
No Designation
Key Stat: 3.22 career ERA

Possible Destinations: Dover, Tampa Bay, Santa Fe, Wichita
Salary Over/Under: 2 years, $7 million

Signed with Iowa City - 2 years, $6 million

Coming of a great run as Tacoma’s closer, in which he consistently posted a great ERA, while blowing few saves, Nieves is hitting the free agent market. Nieves has great control and solid splits. His pitches aren’t great, and he has lost some velocity, but he should still be a solid asset out of the pen for some team.

10. Eric Adams, 32, RP
Type A Free Agent
Key Stat: Solid Ratings

Possible Destinations: Vancouver, Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Francisco
Salary Over/Under: $2 years, $4 million

Signed with Atlanta - 1 year, $5.8 million

After two great seasons in Omaha, Adams has been completely obliterated on the mound the past two seasons, posting astronomical ERA and WHIP totals. We think he can pull out of the rut and be a solid reliever once again. He has excellent control, nice splits, a great first pitch, and a solid second pitch. Whether or not a team will sign him as a type A free agent remains to be seen, given his rocky past two seasons, but we think he can still be productive.

Good luck to all in their Free Agency pursuit!