Friday, October 29, 2010

Owner Q & A - wihargo

Tito McQueen - Cobb Times Herald

Today the Cobb Times Herald sits down with owner wihargo, who has been in Cobb for 12 seasons, winning World Series in season 16.

Tell us a little bit about the world series winning owner wihargo, does your username have any special meaning, and who is your favorite Major League team?

-- wihargo is something I came up with after scrambling my initials and adding some letters. I mean no disrespect to any of the actual Wihargos who are out there. Growing up in Canada, I followed the Expos. I switched allegiances to the D-Rays when the Expos decided to leave. I only like teams that play indoors.

Everyone knows that Eric Collins is not only a pitching maestro, but has one of the best mustaches since Rollie Fingers. If you could wear the Collins stache, would you?
--As an experiment, I did try to grow one... looked real bad.

Eric Collins
Age: 33B/T: R/R
Born: Exeter, CA
Position(s): P (SP1)
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

If you wouldn't wear the Collins mustache, is there any facial hair combo that you do prefer?
-- Would a couple of days' growth count?

What is your favorite obscure baseball stat that you use to evaluate your players?
-- Lately, I've been using wOBA to evaluate hitters. You can't live and die with stats in HBD, but I think you have to consider them to really understand the ratings.

Is Hades Booker a Hall of Famer?
-- I think he is. He was truly dominant when he played for ploppie. Booker could get in on that alone.

Hades Booker
Age: 39B/T: R/R
Born: Hancock, MI
Position(s): 1B/LF/DH
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

Which Greek God not currently in the HBD name database needs to be, and why?
--Eros. I 'haven't seen that one yet. I think it would work well as long as the player had a moustache.

Which Greek God (or Goddess) best represents wihargo?
-- Hermes, because I think it would be cool to travel and be witty. I aspire to be like the Dos Equis guy and I think this god comes closest.

If wihargo has theme music, what is it?
-- Sam & Dave, “Hold On I’m Coming.” I’m always late. This is what should be played when everyone is waiting for me to get someplace.

Which literary epic would you rather read if there were nothing else to do and you were stuck on an island; Tristram Shandy, a Cock and Bull Story; or War and Peace? Or would you rather just dig a hole in the sand all day?
-- Tristam Shandy. According to Wikipedia, the author was "no friend to gravity" and I don’t like gravity much either, especially if I’m stuck on an island.

Which player(s) on your teams have been underrated for what they bring to the table, who are your unsung heroes?
-- Archie Gulan is practically Rick Honeycutt out of the Almendare bullpen and I sometimes forget about him. I always underrated Sarma O'Conner- his power made him a more valuable hitter than I realized. Lewis Allen was a wickedly good short stop for a long time and holds nearly every major Almendares hitting record. I allowed him to leave as a free agent when I should have realized how valuable he was to the team and extended him.

What was your greatest HBD moment?
-- Signing Hades Booker was really exciting. He was expensive, but I felt as though I had just taken a big step forward.

How frustrating is it having two Eric Collins that are both very nice starting pitchers? Are there lots of uniform and groupie mix-ups?
--The one without the moustache would wear a fake moustache to team events to confuse everyone. As a result, we didn't offer him a contract this year.

Which medieval occupation would you most want to do - Gong Farmer, Headsman, Torturer, Minstrel, Monk, Brewer, Knight, or Alchemist?
-- Knight. Basically, in my case, this would have involved a lot of hanging out. Who's going to tell a knight what to do?

WHIP or FIP, which do you prefer?

-- I like FIP. A guy could give up a ton of HRs and still have a low WHIP.

Who are some of your favorite players in Cobb history?
-- Dallas Kline was awesome; Jose Barrios; Pedro Franco is a very dangerous hitter; Dean Hernandez and Kaz Ong are still wicked pitchers.

What is the best trade you ever made in Cobb?
- Darryl Young for Reggie Serafini. Young is a fine player and Pawtucket will probably be considered to have won this trade in the end. I think, however, that Serafini was a difference maker during the Season 16 playoff run. It also helped that ploppie traded me future HOF Kenny Blair during the playoff push to fill Young's spot.

Which players (pitcher and hitter) on another Cobb team have you always coveted?
--I always thought Kory Arnold on Anaheim would be an awesome hitter to have. I'm sure every owner has wondered how their rotation would look if they had Dean Hernandez as their #1.

Going forward in Cobb, what are your short and long term prospects?
--This year I'm trying to stay competitive while adding a few complimentary pieces through the draft. I haven't been able to focus on the draft for a couple of seasons due to time issues- I think I can this year though and I'm excited about it. Next year I'm hoping to sign core players to extensions and add some top talent through free agency.

Finally, what is your favorite deep fried food?
 --The blooming onion.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ultimate Lineups in Cobb History - S2 Huntington Hillbillies

Skeet McGrew - Cobb Times Herald

With all the talk around the league of who has the best lineup, the Times Herald is taking a retrospective look at some of the most dominant lineups in the history of Cobb World.  In the first of a continuing series, we examine in depth the original murderer's row in Cobb, the season two Huntington Hillbillies, which to this day might still be the most awe inspiring collection of hitters the league has ever seen.

The Season Two Huntington Hillbillies

--The Huntington Hillbillies won the first World Series in Cobb History in season 1, behind some truly impressive bats.  But this team really came into their own as an offensive megapower in season 2, when they scored a mind boggling 1,383 runs and had five of their eight position players make the All Star Team.  To put that number in perspective, in season 17 the top scoring team was Vancouver, who led Cobb World with 934 runs.  So who were the cogs in this incredible offensive machine, of which seven starters knocked in over 100 runs, and had six players with an OPS over 1.000?  Only some of the most legendary names in Cobb; Barrios, McConnell, Tavarez, and Newman to name a few.  Huntington ultimately lost in the World Series that season, but it wasn't the fault of the offense, that much is for sure.  Following is a positional analysis of one of the best teams in Cobb History.

Catcher - Vitas Newman *ALL STAR*
--Newman was one of the greatest offensive catchers in early Cobb history, with humongous power and a tremendous batting eye.  In season two he batted .326 with 126 runs, 35 HR's, 128 RBI's, 107 walks, and an OPS of 1.131.  Those numbers still stand as some of the best ever put up by a catcher in a single season.

First Base - Francisco Tavarez *ALL STAR*
-- Tavarez might not have been the most talented member of the lineup, that honor surely belonged to Barrios, but he did put up the best season of all of the Hillbillies, and the best season of any player in Cobb history.  Tavarez's legendary season saw him hit .411 with 144 runs, 39 doubles, 46 HR's, 165 RBI's, and an OPS of 1.321.  He also had a 27 game hitting streak that season.  To this day no other hitter for any team in Cobb has surpassed the .400 mark for the season, or posted an OPS as high.  Amazingly, Tavarez didn't win the MVP, as that honor went to another player in this lineup.

Second Base - Fred McConnell *ALL STAR*
--In the history of Cobb leadoff men McConnell stands tall, and his numbers in season 2 are no exception.  He batted .353 with 173 runs, 48 doubles, 28 triples, 29 HR's, 130 RBI's, 116 walks, 35 SB's, and an OPS of 1.184.  It's hard to believe that those numbers weren't the best on his team, given that McConnell's year ranks 5th all time in single season OPS. 

Shortstop - Louie Sanchez
--Perhaps the weakest link in the Hillbillies lineup in season two was SS Louie Sanchez.  But weakness is relative, as he still hit .285 with 143 runs, 33 HR's, 134 RBI's, 89 walks, and an OPS of .977.  On most any other team in any other year those would be the numbers of an all star, but for this Hillbillies lineup was only good enough to bat seventh or eighth in the lineup.

Third Base - Shawn Philips *ALL STAR*
--The hot corner is usually the domain of a slugger, and Philips handled that role well for Huntington in season two.  He batted .347 with 121 runs, 42 doubles, 35 HR's, 130 RBI's, and an OPS of 1.033.  Not too shabby!

Left Field - Ray Moeller
--Moeller has the dubious distinction of being one of two members of the Hillbillies lineup to post an OPS below .900 in season 2.  All Moeller did was bat .287 with 124 runs, 37 doubles, 17 HR's, 94 RBI's, and an OPS of .857. 

Center Field - Trent King
--King was the other player in the Hillbillies lineup to be sub .900 in OPS in season 2, but not by much.  He hit .308 with 90 runs, 34 doubles, 15 HR's, 105 RBI's, and an OPS of .887.  It's safe to say though that most teams would be happy with that production from their CF.

Right Field - Jose Barrios *ALL STAR*
--Now universally recognized as the greatest player in the history of Cobb, Barrios was merely an awesomely talented youngster for the Hillbillies in season 2.  He was the anchor of the lineup, and won the MVP that season with another one of the single greatest years in Cobb history, batting .338 with 173 runs, 66 HR's, 174 RBI's, 129 walks, and an OPS of 1.214, the third greatest OPS in Cobb history.

--The Hillbillies bench wasn't a slouch either, with every regular sub posting an OPS of essentially .800 or higher.  Notable among them was Randall Sikorski, with an OPS of 1.001 in 218 AB's, P.T. Henderson posting a .912 OPS with 99 runs and 83 RBI's in 435 AB's, and Jim Oliver, who posted a .797 OPS in 259 AB's.

So there you have it, on paper and in practice one of the single greatest lineups in Cobb history.  It may not have been the most balanced, but no other lineup since has posted the kind of slugging numbers that Huntington did in season two.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Lars the Greeks Season 18 Preview - National League

Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald

Last season saw the Wichita Wankers advance to the World Series for the second time in franchise history, only to lose to the Cleveland Steamers for the second time in franchise history.  Along the way Wichita upset the top two seeds in Montgomery and San Francisco, who both return with pretty strong teams this season.  The rest of the NL was the benficiary of a free agent arms race as all the top pitchers, including the legendary Dean Hernandez, made their way to the senior circuit.  How will all those big dollar signings pan out?  Read on and find out how Lars sees the chips being thrown down in the NL. 

National League

Lars the Greeks Divisional Breakdowns

NL North: It wasn't close in the NL North last year as the NY Pick Pockets ran away with the division and Sioux Falls sputtered to finish near .500, while Trenton took a step back and Burlington continued it's rebuild.  Things definitely got interesting in the division however as the Pick Pockets inked one of the major free agents in stud SP Clyde Ford.  Signing the six time all star confirms that New York is going to give it at least one more run with it's talented but aging lineup.  Sioux Falls also bolstered their chances, trading for talented young SP Cesar Viriato and making several trades and free agent signings to bolster their lineup.  Trenton and Burlington were pretty quiet in the offseason, so it comes down to NY and SXF again this season, with Lars thinking SXF might have the edge. 

NL East: The NL East is one of the hardest divisions to predict, as all four teams have been elite for the last 5-7 seasons. New Britain is showing signs of slippage though, with the first losing record for the franchise since season 6, but are back in the race for the division title this season after bringing back star SP Phil Hinch via free agency.  The other three franchises should also be in a dogfight to the finish  Having 4 time MVP Chipper Harper among others always gives Columbus a shot, while Wichita remains just as strong as their World Series team last season.  But Atlanta has to be given the edge in the division this season after bring on board EIGHT time Cy Young Award winning SP Dean Hernandez, who still has a ton in the tank as is evidenced by his second max contract. 

NL South: Montgomery avoided the fall swoon that ruined their playoff hopes two seasons ago to forge ahead to the #1 overall seed last season in the NL playoffs.  But their regular season success didn't equal playoff glory as they lost in the NLCS to Wichita.  Despite that heartache their team brings back an all star lineup and top rotation to challenge again for the top hardware.  But the rest of the NL South isn't going to make it easy, as Richmond returns a team that is very similar to the squad that made the World Series in season 16 and should put up a good challenge to the Burns.  The Charlotte Thunder are a dark horse this season to make a run after some very big free agent signings, and Jackson always remains a very tough out, even when they are retooling the franchise.  But Lars thinks Montgomery is the smart money here.

NL West:  Lars thought that San Francisco couldn't pull it off last season, yet they put 20 games on a very talented Iowa City squad en route to the #2 seed in the playoffs.  Lars doesn't think that will happen again however as Iowa City is just too good to get beat that badly two seasons in a row, but San Fran is still the king until proven otherwise.  Fresno and Omaha are rapidly improving and should provide more of a challenge to their division rivals this season, but it should still come down to the Earthquakes and Corn Dogs, with Lars thinking that San Fran will ride their improved bullpen to another division title.

Projected Cy Young: Dean Hernandez - Atlanta Pitbulls
--Other Contenders: Kirk White (SXF), Phil Hinch (TB), Jamie Hayashi (MNT), Junior Lee (ATL), Furio Kydd (IA), Davey Silva (WIC)
Projected MVP: Chipper Harper - Columbus
--Other Contenders: Charley Morton (SF), Omar Rosado (NY2), Tim Collins (MNT), Doyle Grey (MNT), Benji Ordonez (RIC), Wascar Galvez (TRE)
Projected Fireman of the Year: William Kim - San Francisco Earthquakes 
--Other Contenders: Bert Miceli (NY), William Kim (SF), Kirk White (SXF)
Projected Rookie of the Year:Wade Stowers - Fresno Fresas
--Other Contenders: Pablo Vicente (WIC), Oswaldo Prieto (MNT), Eduardo Ayala (TRE), Harry Mendoza (CHR)

Top Five Rotations in the National League
1. Atlanta Pitbulls
2. Montgomery Burns
3. New York Pick Pockets
4. Iowa City Corn Dogs
5. Sioux Falls Corn Cleats

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

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

Top Three Offseason Free Agent Signings
1. Dean Hernandez - Atlanta Pitbulls
2. Clyde Ford - New York Pick Pockets
3. Shane Parrish - Charlotte Thunder

Three Teams on the Rise:
1. Charlotte Thunder
2. Fresno Fresas
3. Omaha Sluggers

Three Teams on the Decline
1. New Britain Fug Nuts
2. Columbus HoundDogs
3. Richmond Cohibas

Five prospects who could make a difference if called up this season
1. Vic Sosa - Omaha Sluggers
2. R.J. Vizquel - Montgomery Burns
3. John Miller - Montgomery Burns
4. Ricardo Roque - New Britain Fug Nuts
5. Vic Lopez - Trenton Lions

Projected finishes, by division:

NL North
Sioux Falls Corn Cleats -92-70
New York Pick Pockets - 91-71
Trenton Lions - 84-78
Burlington Champs - 72-90

NL East
Atlanta Pitbulls - 100-62
Columbus HoundDogs - 96-66
Wichita Wankers - 93-69
New Britain Fug Nuts - 84-78

NL South
Montomgery Burns - 103-59
Richmond Cohibas - 88-74
Charlotte Thunder - 81-81
Jackson Pollocks - 71-91

NL West
San Francisco Earthquakes - 99-63
Iowa City Corn Dogs - 89-73
Omaha Sluggers - 83-79
Fresno Freas - 71-91

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lars the Greeks Season 18 Preview - American League

Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald

Season 17 was a reversion to form for the American League, as the Cleveland Steamers again asserted their dominance in the regular season and the playoffs, winning the 4th World Series title in franchise history.  Season 17 also saw the final run in Cobb World for two great owners in shobob and dirtyhill03, who both departed at seasons end.  Replacing them for season 8 though are two owners who certainly know their chops, Hall of Famer jonboynky, and two time Cobb World Champion furniss13, who returns to the league after a several season absence.  So how does the AL stack up this year?  All Lars can say for certain is that there is some monster talent in the junior circuit, and Cleveland will have their work cut out for them to repeat.

American League

Lars the Greeks Divisional Breakdowns

AL North: Toronto managed to repeat as division champions last season, but only just, beating out former perennial powerhouse Pawtucket by a single game.  Seattle and Chicago continued to rebuild, and are probably going to be continuing that process again, so it should come down to a battle between the Blue Jays and G-Maniacs once more for the AL North crown.  Both teams looked to be pretty evenly matched, so it should be close down to the end, and Lars thinks it's a pick em' between the two but is probably going to go with Toronto again if only because they have the slightly better starting rotation.  

AL East: It was Cleveland and Dover again battling for the division and a first round bye, and Cleveland took it to the Dingoes for the second straight season and won by three games in a close division race.  Syracuse and New York continued to rebuild, and the fans in New York especially are clamoring for improvement from what was a disastrous year.  But the youth is on the way and there should be some improvement in NY State for both the Expos and Sympathizers, but neither will compete this year with Dover and Cleveland, with the edge going to the defending champs to once again take the division. 

AL South:  The South is the third two team race in the AL, with Florida and Nashville having duked it out for the last few seasons in several very close races.  It is looking to be a barn burner yet again between the Rebel Riders and Almendares while the KC Express and relocated Houston Huskies continue to slowly improve at the ML level while their minor leaguers develop.  It's really a tough call to choose between Nashville and Florida, but since Nashville won last season Lars is choosing the Almendares this time around to reclaim the division.  Both are probably good bets for the playoffs though.

AL West:  Tacoma got back on top last season thanks to the help of all time great SP Dean Hernandez.  But the Dean took his talents elsewhere with yet another max contract, leaving a gaping hole in the Tacoma rotation and blowing open the AL West race.  It's going to be especially interesting as the two new owners in the division both are ringers, and the division has a combined 10 HBD World Series championships in it's ownership.  The underachieving Vancouver franchise is now being managed by furniss13, and has relocated to Arizona, Anaheim remains a tough out, and the St. Louis franchise has moved to Cheyenne and is probably the only one in the division without a legitimate shot at taking home the hardware.  Lars thinks that the Arizona franchise is overdue for success, and is picking them to win a close three team race, just ahead of Anaheim and Tacoma.

Projected Cy Young:Gary Ferguson - Nashville Rebel Riders
--Other Contenders: Kazuhiro Ong (NAS), Benito Beltre (TOR), Darren Howry (PAW), Eric Collins (FLA), Trevor Seelbach (CLE)
Projected MVP: Pedro Franco (NAS)
--Other Contenders: Hugh Clark (TAC), Lyle Crudale (CLE), Ralph Woods (KC), Richard Nakajima (ARI), Vinny Jang (CLE)
Projected Fireman of the Year: Raymond Hawkins (FLA)
--Other Contenders: Jared Jacobsen (ANA), Jared Jacobsen (LAA), Edgardo Romero (DOV, Malcolm Tucker (CLE)
Projected Rookie of the Year: Torey McFarland - Anaheim Sharks
--Other Contenders: Morris Coomer (ANA), Lonny Ramirez (ARI), Braden Nitkowski (ARI), D'Angelo James (SEA), Felipe Cruz (PAW), Ugueth Pelaez (TOR)

Top Five Rotations in the American League

1. Toronto Blue Jays
2. Florida Almendares
3. Cleveland Steamers
4. Nashville Rebel Riders
5. Pawtucket G- Maniacs

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

Top Five Lineups in the American League
1. Nashville Rebel Riders
2. Tacoma Jerry Gang
3. Cleveland Steamers
4. Arizona ThunderCats
5. Pawtucket G-Maniacs

Top Three Offseason Free Agent Signings
1. Justin Snopek - Cleveland Steamers
2. Yamid Mairena - Dover Dingos
3. Lou Brow - Seattle Pilots

Three Teams on the Rise:
1. Arizona ThunderCats
2. Cheyenne Cowboys
3. Seattle Pilots

Two Teams on the Decline
1. Tacoma Jerry Gang (logic being it's hard not to be in decline after losing the Dean)
2. Pawtucket G-Maniacs

Six prospects who could make a difference if called up this season
1. Pablo Roas - Cheyenne Cowboys
2. Tony Cervelli - New York Expos
3. Erubiel Cordero - Dover Dingos
4.Gorkys Carrera - Kansas City Express
5. Darwin Sanders - New York Expos
6. Matt Malloy - New York Expos

Projected finishes, by division:

AL North
Toronto Blue Jays - 86-76
Pawtucket G-Maniacs - 85-77
Seattle Pilots - 75-87
Chicago Sabercats - 69-93

AL East
Cleveland Steamers - 101-61
Dover Dingos - 97-65
Syracuse Sympathizers - 72-90
New York Expos - 63-99

AL South
Florida Almendares - 98-64
Nashville Rebel Riders - 97-75
Kansas City Express - 75-87
Santa Fe Greyhounds - 60-102

AL West
Arizona ThunderCats - 97-69
Tacoma Jerry Gang - 95-67
Anaheim Sharks 92-70
Cheyenne Cowboys - 68-94

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

This Week in Cobb

Buster Gunns - Cobb Times Herald

Cobb will have rolled over to start season 18 by the time your radio show is up.  New owners include jonboynky taking over the former St. Louis Tweakers franchise, and original owner and two time World Series Champion furniss13 returning to the league after a four season absence to take over the former Vancouver franchise.  Trade winds are already blowing and as soon as relocations occur there are certain to be numerous trades, as is usual in Cobb.  

Winning the World Series in a sweep in season 17 were the AL’s #1 seed Cleveland Steamers, run by owner pieo.  This is the franchises fourth World Series Championship, and third under pieo’s management.  The franchise has been to the W.S. 7 of the last 8 seasons, taking out some very good AL teams along the way.  The Wichita Wankers, the NL pennant winner and #3 seed had a very good run, but just didn’t have enough in the tank to get by Cleveland, making this their second W.S. loss to the Steamers, with their first being in season 12. 

Playing in what was probably his last full ML season, future Hall of Famer and undoubtedly the best position player in the history of Cobb World Jose Barrios set the bar by becoming the first player in Cobb history to reach 800 home runs.  The 38 year old Omaha Sluggers career numbers are elite in every sense of the world.  2047 runs, 3108 hits, 484 doubles, 29 triples, 800 home runs, 2238 RBI’s,  1561 walks,  1460 strikeouts,  5 steals, 24, CS,  .304 batting average .401 OBP,  .591 slugging, and .992 OPS are the stats to this point for Barrios.  It is possible he retires, and if he does he should be a unanimous first ballot hall of famer.  

Speaking of the Hall of Fame, there should be several very good players up for induction this year to join the three current members of the HoF.  Whether anyone gets elected though is up for debate, currently the standard is quite high.

There will be some very good free agents on the market, including SP Dean Hernandez, who along with Kazuhiro Ong is in the debate for best pitcher in Cobb history, and the best candidate to reach 300 wins in his career of active pitchers.  After posting yet another 20 win season last year, the max contract SP will look for another huge deal, and is likely to get it, even at age 33.  Other top free agents include SP Phil Hinch and another SP who will be reported on after rollover.

Early favorites for the playoffs include Cleveland, Tacoma, Toronto, Dover, the former Vancouver team, Florida, and Nashville in the AL.  From the NL Montgomery, San Francisco, Iowa City, New York, Columbus, Atlanta, and Sioux Falls are the likely bets before off season moves.