Sunday, October 25, 2009

AL West Preview

The West was the strongest AL division during season 10. Both AL wild cards came from the division, along with the ultimate AL champ Las Vegas Dealers. With all 4 owners returning and a strong off-season, it will be no surprise if the division is the strongest once again. Any of these 4 teams could be flying the Season 11 World Series flag above their stadium next spring.

The Las Vegas Dealers are bidding for a fourth AL title, relying again on strong starting pitching and home-grown young bats. With the recession felt deeply in Vegas, and young starting pitchers nearing arbitration, owner jceffali demanded payroll be cut to $67M this year, forcing several key players to depart. SS Jacob Raines, a life-long Dealer, is out and William Hyun a light-hitting but rifle-armed SS takes over until a key SS prospect is ready. Outstanding RF Frank Woo also departed, his services no longer required with the emergence of young corner OFs Quilvio Castro and Esteban Gardel. Castro hit 5 HRs in the Dealers post-season run last year and will start with the big club. Gardel may start in AAA. The loss of the two free agents brought Type A and Type B draft compensation, and the Dealers spent heavily on amateur scouts to replenish the prospect pipeline. Still, the key for the Dealers is keeping their stellar starting rotation healthy, with Max White, Lance Ward, Luis Rincon, Darwin McBride, and Rigo Franco making up the rotation again.

The Vancouver Asteroids finished second last year and went all-in this year in a balls-to-the-wall effort to bring the franchise its first championship. The franchise has a stellar regular season record with 7 playoff appearances in 10 seasons, but has never advanced past the ALCS. This year, owner brooklynpunx has jacked payroll up to $122M while the minor league system will endure another year without signing a legitimate prospect. Key signings included Chip Huson who probably got a bit of a generous contract, and Max Bennett. Of course the team still features all-time Jersey League HR king Bernie Gongora, who at age 30 hasn't lost a step. The big questions on the pitching staff are Perry Ruth, who suffered a tough injury last year and the aging but still effective William Takahashi. If those two stay healthy and can provide one last big year, the Asteroids fans should be in for a treat. After that, it could be a long ride down, as the Asteroids will need to wait for several giant contracts to run off before rebuilding.

It has been a nice ride up for the Iowa City Independence. The team was dreadful back in the day, with two straight sub-60 win seasons back in years 4 and 5. But owner carlspenard stuck with it, learned the game, and has built a winner, with two straight playoff appearances and 91 wins last year. Iowa was quiet in the off-season, bringing most of last year's team back with the exception of back end starter Julio Seguignol and long man Ray Workman. Like Vegas, Iowa also boasts an outstanding young rotation led by Spike Chase and Luis Santos, who will be joined this year by pre-season Rookie of the Year candidate Hipolito Padilla. The big story last year was Rookie of the Year Mickey Fikac, whose 46 dingers in pitcher-friendly Iowa opened many eyes. Many scouts are predicting a sophomore slump for Fikac, but maybe he really is that good? The pressure also continues to be on Karim Espinosa, who has performed reasonably well, but never seems to live up what scouts--or his salary--projects.

Its hard to believe that the Salem Argonauts finished last in season 10, barely missing the playoffs with 89 wins. This is a good team from top to bottom and owner hooner65 was active with several free agent signings, including slugging 1B Cameron Lewis, as well as two big trades, both of which sent away prospects. The first trade brought Dealer farmhand Wade Jefferies, a fine 2B or CF that was stuck in the Dealers system in exchange for SP prospect Hooks White. The second was a blockbuster, bringing solid 3B Taylor Payton and CF Weldon Flores. Shipped away were prospects Vince Mercedes, Louie Kaufman (wow, that kid can hit!), and Angel Ramirez. Unfortunately for pitchers everywhere, big 1B Karl Shea will return for the Argonauts this year, as will slugger Sergei Hackman.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

AL East Scouting Report, Part 5 (Projections Sure to Go Wrong)

After displaying the scouting reports for each of the teams in the AL East for Season 11, I now provide the projections where I think they will finish this season. Due to my biased stance as GM and owner of the 2-time defending champs, I will probably be way off, so if any other impartial owners care to give an opinion, please feel free to do so:

In reverse order of finish:

4. Philadelphia Phillies -- I think that this team has improved a LOT since last season, and they will not lose 100 games, but the pitching staff is still too young and inexperienced to get the job done compared to the rest of the division.

3. Norfolk Phanatics -- This team is developing into a good farm system producer, with the likes of Brett Henry, Mateo Flores, and Bucky Gates. I just don't think they have done enough to make this team better. With what the Mutuals and Sluggers have done during the offseason, I just can't see this team making the necessary run to make it 3 in a row. I hope I am wrong.

2. Pittsburgh sluggers -- The team's 3rd place finish I think is more an underachievement by the team than any other explanation can fit. This team will rebound with a better record this season, but just will lose out on the trophy.

1. New York Mutuals -- The emergence of Calvin Lee plus the addition of Vernon will be enough for this team to win the division. If they can decrease the errors on the field and limit the ERA down to under 5, then this team will be dangerous.

AL East Scouting Report, Part 4

Norfolk Phanatics
GM/Owner -- ratatat72 (4th Season, 226-260 Record, 2 AL East Crowns)

Season 10 Recap
Record: 81-81 (1st Place, Lost in Division Play-in Series to Vancouver, 3-1)
BA/OBP/SLG: .279/.343/.437
R/HR/RBI/SB: 900/206/863/207
ERA/WHIP/SO: 4.60/1.45/1,031
Sv/SvO: 47/67

Key Additions
Roosevelt Hernandez (DH)
Sticky Patterson (1B)
Woody Ross (P)
Chili Satou (P)

Key Losses
Chip Huson (3B, FA)
Benito Pelaez (P, Released)
Richard Priest (P, FA)
Buster Phelps (1B, FA)
Donatello Barker (LF, FA)
Clarence Gwynn (P, FA)

Projected Starters

C Heinie Hamilton
1B Sticky Patterson
2B Bucky Gates
3B Ugueth Castillo
SS Mateo Flores
LF Ross Hart
CF Rafael Borbon
RF Steve Oliver
DH Edgar Telemaco / Roosevelt Hernandez

SP Brett Henry
SP Dale Tracy
SP Allen Chapman
SP Al Gandarillas
SP Chili Satou
CL Ron Niekro

Compared to the rest of the division, ratatat72 seems to have held the cards he has and is hoping that he can win (again) with what he has. He decided to let go of perennial All-Star Chip Huson to FA in hopes of getting draft picks to build for future success. With the last of the horrible salaries that was inherited to him winding down after this season, ratatat72 will finally begin to get some freedom to make some more serious moves beginning next season. For now, though, Phanatic Phrenzy will have to make due with the same bunch that has carried them to the last 2 titles, with some minor tweaks made to cover up some losses (Castillo claimed off waivers last season to offset the loss to Huson, Niekro claimed off waivers to supplant Dunham for Closer). When asked what direction he plans to go this season, ratatat72 simply replied, "Ask me that question again as we approach the trading deadline."

AL East Scouting Report, Part 3

New York Mutuals
GM/Owner -- piratestros (3rd Season, 125-199 Record)

Season 10 Recap
Record: 76-86 (2nd Place, 5 GB)
BA/OBP/SLG: .271/.344/.456
R/HR/RBI/SB: 916/246/880/313
ERA/WHIP/SO: 5.50/1.69/1,066
Sv/SvO: 43/67

Key Additions
Jerry Halama (P)
Jacob Raines (SS)
Don Vernon (P)
Gabe Eaton (P)

Key Losses
Pete Lorraine (P, Declined Option)
Tony Hara (P, FA)
Jake Leon (P, FA)
Sam Bell (2B, FA)
Paul Hayashi (P, Released)
Endy Hume (P, Released)

Projected Starters

C Ramiro Seanez / Ray Hogan
1B Rickey Prince
2B Calvin Lee
3B Patrick Reagan
SS Jacob Raines
LF Tony Ibarra
CF Norm Zito
RF Vitas Quinn
DH Edgar Abreu

SP Karim DaSilva
SP Don Vernon
SP Kirk Gardner
SP Jerome Damon
SP Ken Buck
CL Carlos Prieto

It's becoming no surprise that the Mutuals are quickly becoming a rising force in the AL East. After starting his GM career with a 49-113 record, piratestros couldn't wait to start the next season (who wouldn't). But last season saw quite possibly the biggest turnaround by a squad this reporter's ever seen. Finishing at 76-86 and contending for the AL East crown up until the last 14 games of the season where it seemed the wheels fell off, it seems as if this New York team made a statement -- this division better get tougher, because we are. The addition of Calvin Lee via the Rule 5 draft was a gift from above, and had arguably ROY (and some might say, AL MVP) were it not for the team's demise and his defensive liabilities. He stands to only get better, as does the rest of this squad. The only question will be whether the pitching can be better. Don Vernon has been added to supply a little improvement to the rotation. If anything, this team will be fun to watch as they run, run, run towards the shot at the division crown.

Last Chance for the Aging Patriots?

Trenton- Manager Darren Lloyd took a long drag before flicking his cigarette across the room..."I don't know how much we have left in the tank-We've won 93 games each of the past two seasons but can't seem to play well come the play-offs." Clubhouse comedian Terry Barkett interrupted Lloyd's interview with his own conjecture. " What we's be needin' is some balls", alluding to the manner in which the Patriots folded once the national spotlight shown on the Trenton ballclub.The Patriots have averaged 95 wins per season since their inception- but have come up small during the post-season.

Louie Hiro , the club's senior spokesman, added his own opinion, " We not getting younger, we getting older"..."We tired of roosing and now we need some better ruck"
They may need more than better luck. Their minor leagues being barren, the cash-strapped franchise will find a difficult time improving upon what they already have. Their rotation is solid, and is led by Robb Yarnall who may be the best pitcher in the entire Jersey League- if he can go deeper into ball games.

Robb Yarnall has the arm of a young Roger Clemens, but unfortunately its attached to the body of an old Jamie Moyer- he can go about 5 innings before fatigue sets in. This puts pressure on the Patriot bullpen- and those are not players that can deal with pressure. Banana Munoz enters his third season with Trenton. "At first I loved this place- and I could pitch forever. But now after two years of eating nothing but pizza and whatever other fattening Italian food they got down there in Chambersberg, I can go about one inning per game"

So there you have it- The Trenton Patriots are a diverse bunch- but a diverse bunch with similar traits- they smoke, eat poorly and are generally in no shape to play a full nine innings of competitive ball. With no help on the horizon it will be up to the 25 man roster to stay healthy and push each other- or they will all soon be looking for a job in another town.
Posted by Feamster at 8:49 PM 0 comments

Friday, October 23, 2009

AL East Scouting Report, Part 2

Pittsburgh sluggers
GM/Owner -- larr100 (4th Season, 240-246 Record, 1 AL East Crown)

Season 10 Recap
Record: 71-91 (3rd Place, 10 GB)
BA/OBP/SLG: .256/.323/.426
R/HR/RBI/SB: 775/231/747/53
ERA/WHIP/SO: 5.04/1.54/1,012
Sv/SvO: 39/58

Key Additions
Jacque Chiasson (P)
Milt Purcell (CF)
Brendan Harris (C)
Keith McDonald (P)
Tony Santos (P)
Phil Boggs (P)

Key Losses
Bobby Ray Hamilton (SS, FA)
Miguel Matos (P, Released)
Damon Prince (P, Released)
Jimmie Ortega (P, Released)
Antonio Woo (P, Released)

Projected Starters

C Brendan Harris / Bill Dougherty
1B Jeff Richard / Danny Walsh
2B Bartolo Lee
3B Rodney Mulder
SS Red DiSarcina
LF Steve Clayton
CF Milt Purcell
RF Esteban Johnson
DH Bill Dougherty

SP Pedro Tavarez
SP A.J. Cannon
SP Max Winchester
SP Dave Fox
SP Jacque Chiasson / Miguel Morales
CL Phil Boggs

Pittsburgh was last in the division in BA, OBP, SLG, Runs, RBI, SB (luckily, they were 2nd in HR -- go figure). Although there pitching was more respectable than their Pennsylvania counterpart, it still was well below what can be expected to win a division, especially with porous offensive showing that Sluggers showed. The signing of Milt Purcell gives this team a much needed offensive spark for this season, but will be yet to be seen if this alone will be enough to push the team over the top. The top of the rotation is still young and developing in Tavares and Cannon, so the future definitely looks to be improving for Pittsburgh for seasons to come. New closer (for now) Phil Boggs is actually a Rule V pickup that Philadelphia let go -- should be interesting to see how he handles the Closer Role in his 1st season in the Majors.

AL East Scouting Report, Part 1

This is the first of a 5 part series where I will be analyzing the AL East. As a member approaching my 4th season, I hope this provides a good read and provide present and future readers of this blog a good idea of the quality of ownership we have. I will be posting each of the teams separately in order of reverse finish in standings last season (Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York, Norfolk), followed by a final projection of all the divisions and perpetual World Series winner.

Philadelphia Phillies
GM/Owner -- bball10 (2nd Season, 58-104 Record)

Season 10 Recap
Record: 58-104 (4th Place, 23 GB)
BA/OBP/SLG: .278/.344/.430
R/HR/RBI/SB: 809/201/789/133
ERA/WHIP/SO: 6.26/1.63/1,038
Sv/SvO: 26/40

Key Additions
Vladimir Hernandez (2B)
Luis Estrada (C)
Norm Mantei (P)
Donatello Barker (LF)
Junior Lee (P)
Christopher Lockhart (1B)
John Wang (P)
Nash Ponson (P)
James Robbins (P)

Key Losses
Orlando Guerrero (P, Released)
Eddie Brinkley (P, Released)
Gus Burkett (P, FA)
Don Jensen (P, FA)
Ken Spencer (LF, Released)
Bobby Sherman (2B, FA)
Travis Sandberg (3B, FA)
Miguel James (1B, FA)
Ron Niekro (P, Claimed off Waivers)

Projected Starters

C Henry Foster / Luis Estrada
1B Christopher Lockhart
2B Eduardo Miranda
3B Walt King
SS Al Clifton
LF Achilles Ramirez
CF Vladimir Hernandez
RF R.J. Benitez
DH Donatello Barker

SP William Woods
SP John Manning
SP Junior Lee
SP Russ Schneider
SP ????
CL John Wang

Taking a look back to Season 10, there wasn't much doubt as to why this team finished 4th in the division. The Phillies tried 10 different pitchers in the starting rotation, with little success to find a consistent rotation throughout the season. There best pitcher last season (Ron Niekro) was claimed off waivers by division rival Norfolk. GM bball10 didn't keep it a secret that the Phillies would be big players in the FA market, and they did NOT disappoint. Going into Spring Training, they have signed 9 new players that were not on the club last year, putting a big focus on Relief Pitching (4 out of 9 signings).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Vancouver: Win Now, GM says.

Vacncouver GM brooklynpunx made a few splashes in this off season's FA market. New DH Chip Huson is reunited with former teammate Bernie Goongora. In the past they have combined for more than a few 100+ HR seasons. Also added, Max Bennett, who brings a power bat to this already potent offense. Lastly, Willis Munoz will round out the rotation as the No. 5 starter. Munoz was the winner of 16 games last year and an all-star.

GM, Brooklynpunx has a message for the AL: West this season, "get out of our way, Vancouver will plow down its opposition."

Vancouver fans have to be excited for the added HR power.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Jersey League All-time Leaders: Hitting

After ten seasons, its time to take a look at some of the Jersey League's all time record holders. First, offense.

Home Runs:

#1 Bernie Gongora 621 HRs, age 30. Could he hit 1,000 before its all over? He's got a shot, with good makeup, good health. Scouts say his power has declined a bit over the last few years, but still among the best in the league. Plays in an average hitters park now after time in Houston padded his totals a bit. Betting is that Gongora holds the Jersey League mark for many, many years.

#2 Erick Webster, 529 HRs, age 32. His power hasn not dropped off one bit at age 32, but two years older than Gongora so likely won't catch him.

#3, Julius Costello, 482 HRs, age 38. Not much gas left in the tank here for this two-time AL MVP. Can he get to 500 before the wheels fall off? Or have they already fallen off?


#1 Bernie Gongora 1,469 RBI, age 30. Yup, him again.

#2 Erick Webster, 1,361 RBI, Age 32. Probably won't catch Gongora here either.

#3 Louie Hiro, 1,303 RBI, age 31. Two-time MVP, check out those early years he had with Colorado back in the glory days of deandg.

OBP (min. 2510 plate appearances)

#1 Dave Gardner, .440, age 36. Interesting player, amazing OBP, but never heard of him. Mediocre defensive catcher, slow, and not much power. But man, can he hit! .351 lifetime BA and plenty of walks. Free agent this year, will anyone sign him?

#2 Jeremy Richard, .435, age 35. Another catcher, similar to Gardner.

#3 Richard Whithem, .427, age 31. The big 1B! Two-time MVP. He gets on base but also has plenty of power, should get to 500 HRs.

Stolen Bases

#1 Braden Bynum, 665, age 31. Those big SB years in Memphis (season 5-6) really goosed his totals. He's still got plenty of speed, should get to 850 SBs, maybe even 1,000 if his other attributes hold up well enough to justify the playing time for a 1B/LF/DH type. In any event, I don't think Bynum holds this record 10 seasons from now.

#2 Felipe Barcelo, 444, age 32. How did this guy not get at least signed to be a pinch runner for a contender last year? Maybe he was asking for too much money. Still a free agent, but if he didn't get signed in season 10, doesn't look good in 11.

#3 Laurel Feliz, 421, age 32. Hooray, here is an ex-Dealer! This guy has 4 CF gold gloves and was a superb bargain signing for Colorado Springs two years ago. Never a great hitter, or he'd have more bags.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Vancouver Asteroids: Things will change

Following a four came sweep in the LCS, Vancouver GM Brooklynpunx promises sweeping change. "We need to get younger, most of our rotation is over 35, our starters weren't getting out of the fifth."

A source close to the team mentions a possible move to the bullpen for Perry Ruth or William Takahashi.

Any move would be made to clear room for incoming free agents. The team has no farm system to speak of.

AL MVP winner, Bernie Gongora has confidence in GM Brooklynpunx. "He knows he has to open the team wallet, he got me didn't he?"

The New Champs: Helena Vigilantes

The Helena Vigilantes won the Jersey League Season 10 title by defeating two-time defending champion Las Vegas Dealers in 6 games. With that, the Jersey League's most successful regular season team for the last four years finally won a championship. As it became clear that the Vigilantes long history of playoff futility had ended, the streets of downtown Helena became packed with drunken revelers, a scene that grew progressively wilder until the Montana National Guard restored order at about 5 AM. Early reports out of Helena include several overturned police cars, dozens of fist fights resulting in hospital visits, reports of celebratory shots fired into the air, damage at numerous downtown taverns, and a death caused by an ill-advised moose-tipping attempt.

Helena clearly put the best team on the field this year, winning 108 games, then cruising through the playoffs, first with a sweep of perennial power Houston We Have a Problem in the first round and then a 4-1 victory over the mighty Tucson Hohokams in the NLCS. The World Series was a rematch of the classic 7 game World Series in Season 8 vs. Las Vegas. Vegas also cruised through the playoffs, with a 3-1 victory over the Iowa City Independence and a 4 game sweep of the Vancouver Asteroids.

Helena struck first in the series, winning game 1 by a 6-4 score behind two HRs from Felix Jones. Game 2 also went to Helena, by a score of 7-2, as Pablo Campos pitched 8 innings to pick up the win. The series looked nearly over as Helena won again in game 3, by a 12-7 score, as Fernando Fernandez hit two bombs.

In game 4, some of Helena's old demons returned, as the bullpen couldn't hold a lead, and the Dealers errupted for 4 runs in the bottom of the 8th to win 8-5. Frank Woo had the big hit, a 3-run home run that put the Dealers in the lead and delayed the party in Helena. Game 5 also went to the Dealers, 7-3, behind a strong pitching performance by Lance Ward, and many in Helena began to worry of a collapse as the Vigilantes couldn't put the Dealers away. They finally did it in game 6 however, winning a tight 7-6 game. Helena took a big lead in the clincher with a Moises Colome grand slam. The Dealers then fought back with 4 runs in the 8th, but Gerald Mantei restored order to collect the save and end the series.

Fernando Fernandez was named the World Series MVP after going 9 for 22 with 5 HRs and 10 RBIs, along with flawless defensive play in centerfield.

Congrats joemac on a big win!