Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Organizing Minor Leagues during Spring Training

Here is the article jceffali was referring to in chat in regards to Minor Leagues. As always, excellent reads for all newbs (and some vets)!

Here are a few tips for newbies on organizing your minor leagues. Your goal is to have 5 viable teams that don't get overtired, and to develop prospects with potential.

Why is it important? To develop prospects properly you need to give them proper playing time, have them at proper positions, and give them orderly promotions. If they don't play enough or don't get promoted, then they won't develop. If they play too much and tire they are more likely to be injured and if you put them at the wrong position their defensive ratings won't grow properly.

Also, if you ignore your minors, you'll irk your fellow owners because it throws off the realism of the league.

To do list:

#1: Resign all of your minor league free agents. You'll need them and its easier then finding free agents

#2: Identify your key prospects. (The team depth chart under World Office: Reports is handy for this; sort by projected ratings) Who is projected to be major league quality or at least close? For a pitcher they should have a vs. R and control of at least 50, preferably 60. Like MLB, hitters are much more dependent on positions, if someone gets to recommended defensive levels at CF, 2B, SS, C, they can make the majors even with a weaker bat....but everyone else has to hit very well to make it.

#3: Promote key prospects. Development can be stunted by staying at the same level two years in a row, so if you see a potential future major leaguer, be sure he's not at the same level as last year.

#4: Check defensive positions. On your edit rosters page if you click on the defensive position (i.e. "2B") it will show you recommended fielding levels. Hit the "show recs (proj.)" button and save that. If your team wasn't well run, you'll have guys listed as SS and 2B who really have no business playing there. If I was taking on a new team I'd do this for everyone in my system, but at least do it for key prospects.

#5: Assign your "needing assignment" (resigned free agents) guys where it looks like they will be needed. See below for what is needed.

#6: Promote your "non-prospect" prospects a level if you need them at the level above.

#7: Clear out Rookie League if you need them at higher levels. Rookie League doesn't start 'til after the draft so you can empty out your roster down there if you need fillers.

#8: Sign minor league free agents to fill spots.

At the end, your goal should be to have the following:

AAA and AA: 1 per defensive position + 3-5 subs (at least 1 of those needs to be a C and 1 should be able to play SS). 13-15 pitchers, at least 5-6 should have stamina at 65 or so plus so they can start. This many players means you should start with a couple inactive players, who should be the weakest guys.

HiA and LoA: 1 per defensive position + 4-6 subs (especially C and infield). 14-17 pitchers. You should have 2-3 inactive pitchers at all'll need them during the year when your guys tire and get hurt. You need more guys at A ball since stamina is lower and injuries more frequent.

Any questions? Post them on the chat board or ask a veteran.

Spring Training Tips for Newbies

This is the article that jceffali was referring to in the chat. Excellent high-level understanding of how to handle Spring Training!

Spring training is a time to try out some new players, get used to the game, and give your prospects some work. It seems like every experienced owner handles this a bit different, but here is what I do:

Spring Training Roster: Go to Manager's Office: Player Settings: Spring Training Squads. You will automatically have your entire major league roster already. I suggest adding your best prospects (about 15-20 total though can vary) from AAA and AA, and maybe even a top-notch prospect from HiA. I don't tend to use my youngest prospects in ST, but that's just me.

Veteran Players: Apparently there is a penalty of some sort if veterans don't get used enough during spring training, so you want them to get some work. However, there is no benefit to working them full time, as they will tire needlessly and be exposed to injury risk. I usually put my veterans on rest after about 25-30 ABs or 3-5 pitching appearances.

Prospects: Give them as much work as you can, especially the ones with a lot of upside in projections.

Lineup Strategies: There are multiple ways to do this: One is to start with your veterans then put them on rest when they get enough work. Another is to edit manager settings so that it rests starters after 5 or 6 innings. Be sure to set pinch-hitters, defensive replacements, and player rest or it won't work correctly.

Pitching Strategies: Again, there are options. A lot of owners use tandem starters, which allows certainty that those two pitchers get in the game. Another option is to use a standard rotation but put the veterans on rest after they get work in and start prospects later on. In any case, after setting the pitching staff, adjust the player settings for pitch counts.

A Note on Rest: Pitchers get fatigued with every appearance, then gradually work back up to 100%. If your pitch count is above recommended levels they may not be back to 100% for their next start. Batters fatigue cumulatively over the season. If not rested they may stay at 100% for half a season and then start to gradually drop right when the penant race is hot. For that reason, try to give batters occasional rest all through the season. For batters, the durability rating is the driver. If its in the 90s, a player will need very little rest. If its in the 80s, the player may need to rest once a week to stay at 100%. If its in the 70s, even more rest is needed, and a platoon may even be best. Below 70 is certainly a platoon player.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

AL East Season 19 Team Previews

As I embark on this the 9th installment of the AL East Preview, I reflect back on the past seasons and try to remember the good times that has been my tenure in the Jersey League AL East. I have developed good rivalries with 2 of my fellow AL Easterners (larr100 and bball10), as well as a (hopefully) mutual respect for other AL teams (I still hate the AL West, but for respectful reasons). Here are your Season 19 AL East teams at a glance:

Wichita Wolves

Owner: awilley14 (1st Season)

Franchise History: (1,435-1,491, 6 Playoff Appearances, 6 Division Titles, 1 American League Championship)

Season 18 Recap:

Record: 35-127 (4th Place, 62 GB)

BA / OBP / SLG: .267 / .334 / .422

R / HR / RBI / SB: 774 / 176 / 756 / 151

ERA / WHIP / SO: 8.66 / 2.06 / 867

Fld % / CS %: .974 / .256

Napoleon D'Amico, SS (Free Agent from Kansas City)
Johnny McClain, SP (Free Agent from Norfolk)
Ira Harper, CF (Claimed Off Waivers from Trenton)
Rafael Navarro, LF (Claimed Off Waivers from Trenton)
Brent Maurer, C (Free Agent from Syracuse)
Vince Baker, RP (Claimed Off Waivers from Texas)
Eduardo Miranda, 2B (Free Agent from Ottawa)
Don Nady, RP (Rule V from Dover)
Darwin Stynes, RP (Rule V from Tacoma)
Caleb Hoes, 2B (Rule V from Houston)
Alex Johns, C (Claimed off Waivers from St. Louis)

Raymond Reese, RP (Free Agency)
Richard Withem, 1B/DH (Free Agency)
Frank Bates, 2B (Claimed Off Waivers)

UGH! Just 2 seasons ago, this team was a perennial contender for the AL East Crown. I was fortunate (sometimes lucky) to beat them out in the end. A good offensive club that seemed to lack just a piece or 2 on the pitching side, it seemed that it was only a matter of time before this team would be taking its turn in the postseason. But the disappearance of piratestros, plus the non-involvement of theo_epstein, and this team has fallen to the ranks of major rebuild in no time. New owner awilley14 (who isn't really that new, as he was in the league during Seasons 1-2 overseeing the current Norfolk franchise and took over for psanders club last season) has been busy, to say the least. On offense, this team still has some very formidable parts. Dan Blank and Osvaldo Montero return, and have a new supporting cast of support, led by the signing of D'Amico and Harper. On the pitching side, awilley14 made sure to bring back SP J.P. Henriquez in hopes of being competitive in the East. When all is said and done, I have no doubt that Wichita will improve on the 35 wins from last season. And, as active as awilley14 has been (and continues to be), it wouldn't surprise me to see this team back in the division hunt as early as next season.

Philadelphia Phillies

Owner: bball10 (10th Season, 568-890, 0 Playoff Appearances)

Franchise History: (1,207-1,709, 1 Playoff Appearance, 0 Division Titles)

Season 18 Recap:

Record: 58-104 (3rd Place, 39 GB)

BA / OBP / SLG: .260 / .324 / .420

R / HR / RBI / SB: 763 / 219 / 744 / 109

ERA / WHIP / SO: 5.48 / 1.54 / 1,043

Fld % / CS %: .975 / .299

Wayne Doyle, SS (Promoted from AAA)
Lucas Tanner, SP (Promoted from AAA)
Steven Ross, SP (Rule V from Houston)
Julio Matos, 3B (Promoted from AAA)
Julian Domingo, RP (Claimed Off Waivers from Richmond)
Kennie Jenkins, RP (Free Agency from Tucson)
Donn Fuller, RP (Free Agency from Helena)

Lew Runyan, RP (Free Agency)
Edgardo Santana, RP (Released/Retired)

I can see why bball10 was so anxious to see the AL East Preview for this year. The Youth Movement has arrived in Philly! After selling off most of the team the last 2 seasons, we are finally starting to see some of the talented youth that has been claimed via IFA and the draft over the last few seasons from this ball club. This is most noticeable on the offense, where Woody Ganzel is now joined by Matos and Doyle. Team that up with Aaron Dolan, and you have a very solid infield (offensively). On the pitching side, they focused on bullpen help in the free agent market. This team is young, cheap (under $42M with a $67M payroll budgeted, so you can expect another huge IFA signing this season), and the future looks promising for Philly. We will see if the youth movement will be enough to close the 39 game gap between them and Norfolk, but I know it won't make it worse.

Pittsburgh sluggers

Owner: larr100 (12th Season, 834-948, 2 Playoff Appearance, 2 Division Title)

Franchise History: 1,437-1,479, 5 Playoff Appearances, 3 Division Titles)

Season 18 Recap:

Record: 76-86 (2nd Place, 21 GB)

BA / OBP / SLG: .263 / .342 / .430

R / HR / RBI / SB: 833 / 214 / 802 / 114

ERA / WHIP / SO: 4.69 / 1.44 / 1,070

Fld % / CS %: .980 / .339

Alving Vazquez, 3B (Traded from Boise)
Jeromy Olmos, SS (Free Agent from Tampa Bay)
Steve Ruffin, C (Claimed off Waivers from Texas)
Ivy Mullaney, SP (Free Agent from Seattle)
Felipe Montero, CF (Free Agent from Boise)
Terry Perry, RP (Promoted from AAA)

Doc Cox, RP (Released)
Anthony Ducati, 1B (Released)
David Moreno, 3B (Released)
Al Perez, SS (Released)
Ryan Nicholas, C (Released)

I can't put my finger on why this team didn't do better than the record indicates. They still had the same team that won the division in Season 17. Statistically, they were about even (although ERA did jump up a little last season). That's what makes this game so loopy sometimes. You can be better than the season before, and end up lower in the standings. This team still has great pitching, led by All-Star Pedro Tavarez. They did become active on the offensive side, hoping to find the right combination of players to excel this team to the next level. After Tavarez, the pitching needs to step up in order to re-claim the top spot in the AL East.

Norfolk Phanatics

Owner: ratatat72 (12th Season, 908-854, 9 Playoff Appearances, 7 Division Titles)

Franchise History: (1,424-1,492, 11 Playoff Appearances, 9 Division Titles)

Season 18 Recap:

Record: 97-65 (1st Place, Lost to Iowa City in the Division Play-in Series, 3-2)

BA / OBP / SLG: .279 / .346 / .445

R / HR / RBI / SB: 893 / 227 / 869 / 192

ERA / WHIP / SO: 4.26 / 1.39 / 1,021

Fld % / CS %: .986 / .198

Brian Brown, 3B (Promoted from AAA)
Julio Martinez, 2B (Promoted from AAA)
Sam Bishop, RP (Free Agent from Scranton)
Rico Wilfredo, 1B/DH (Free Agent from Tucson)
Tony Alonso, SS (Free Agent from St. Louis)
Danys Veras, RP (Free Agent from St. Louis)

Johnny McClain, RP (Free Agency)
Mateo Flores, 3B (Free Agency)
Derek Hughes, 2B (Free Agency)
Ross Hart, LF (Free Agency)
Nick Shipley, RP (Free Agency)
Felipe Arroyo, RP (Free Agency)
Dion Hundley, 1B (Free Agency)
Gary Garcia, SP (Released)

After breaking a streak of 4 consecutive AL East crowns last season, Norfolk returned to claim the throne outright last season. And, in true fashion, they proceed to get manhandled by yet another AL West foe in the playoffs. After finishing with the best record in the regular season for this franchise, they left the season with a bitter taste in their mouth. The offseason wasn't too kind either, as the Phanatic faithful watched as many regulars had to depart due to contract demands. They got a bigger scare when ace Brett Henry declined his option and tested free agency. ratatat72 made priority #1 be the re-signing of Brett Henry. After that fell into place (a BIG sigh of relief was felt in the Virginia Bay area when that happened), they then turned to addressing other holes needed to be filled. Although no big deal was made (the signing of Wilfredo was the biggest offensive splash they invested), this team continues to plug-and-play in hopes to remain competitive for another season.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

FINALLY -- Prince is King of the Hill

Blaine Prince
St. Louis
Age: 39B/T: L/L
Born: Bath, ME
Position(s): P (SP2)
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

Jersey World saw its first 300 Game Winner yesterday afternoon, when Blaine Prince accomplished the feat at home against the Oakland Irish A's. St. Louis won the game 3-2. In true Hall-of-Famer accomplishment, he succeeded in obtaining Win #300 on his first attempt. Although it took him a little while longer than most people anticipated (some thought that the feat would occur last season, but it was not meant to be), the fact that he won it at home is rewarding enough. Blaine Prince has been with this franchise from the beginning, which alone is a feat in today's world of trading-happy GM's and inexperience owners. I said last season that the extension he signed last season might have been a little too much and might hurt missouridawg's chances of signing better talent to offset the eventual retirement. But, I also think that, in all Fantasy Baseball aside, the deal is about what a REAL player who has devoted his entire career to one franchise would be offered, and he has earned it. Congrats to Blaine Prince, the true King of the Hill!

Friday, September 9, 2011

AL East Season 18 Team Previews

Another Season, another turn at summarizing the AL East teams. After eight seasons of dealing with the same owners OVER and OVER and OVER again, we finally had to deal with turnover. New York Mutuals was abandoned and has been moved to Boston (cleverly named, the 'Red Sox' -- whodathunkit?). With that, there are some really interesting story lines brewing in this division. So let's get started:

Philadelphia Phillies

Owner: bball10 (9th Season, 510-786, 0 Playoff Appearances)

Franchise History: (1,149-1,605, 1 Playoff Appearance, 0 Division Titles)

Season 17 Recap:

Record: 63-99 (4th Place, 23 GB)

BA / OBP / SLG: .264 / .329 / .402

R / HR / RBI / SB: 789 / 159 / 757 / 157

ERA / WHIP / SO: 5.68 / 1.59 / 1,020

Fld % / CS %: .975 / .323

A.J. Cannon, RP (Free Agency from Little Rock)
Glenn Iannone, SS (Free Agency from Tucson)
Dock Lawson, SP (Free Agency from Rochester)
Fred Greenwood, RF (Free Agency from Atlanta)

Geoff Blake, RP (Free Agency)
William Woods, RP (Free Agency)
Tomas Lima, SP (Free Agency)
Felix Kyung, SP (Free Agency)
Reese Flanagan, SP (Released)
Alvin Shaw, 2B (Released)

The Phillies began building for this year right around Season 17 All-Star Break. They realized that what they had wasn't working, and decided to begin early on the rebuilding process. Offensively, I can't think of anybody that might have a better threat up the middle than Philadelphia -- C Raul Candelaria, 2B Woody Ganzel, SS Iannone, and CF Andy Comer can all flat out HIT (albeit, Candelaria is succeptible vs. Lefties). Their pitching will need to improve drastically if they want to compete, as they haven't seen an ERA under 5 since Season 8, when they were the New York Bums. Improving on the AL-leading Errors and Negative Plays wouldn't hurt either.

Boston Red Sox

Owner: theo_epstein (1st Season)

Franchise History: (1,400-1,364, 6 Playoff Appearances, 6 Division Titles, 1 American League Championship)

Season 17 Recap:

Record: 77-85 (3rd Place, 9 GB)

BA / OBP / SLG: .270 / .339 / .432

R / HR / RBI / SB: 860 / 195 / 834 / 306

ERA / WHIP / SO: 4.85 / 1.49 / 1,141

Fld % / CS %: .977 / .210

Terry O'Connor, 3B (Free Agency from Honolulu)
Alejandro Guerrero, SP (Free Agency from Minnesota)

Vic Diaz, C (Free Agency)
Kirk Gardner, SP (Free Agency)
Taylor Everett, RP (Free Agency)
Gerald Pratt, LF (Free Agency)
Calvin Lee, 2B (Free Agency)
Nicky Coleman, RP (Released)
Otis Neal, C (Released)

After 9 seasons, the AL East is experiencing their first turnover in team ownership. Out of the picture is piratestros, enter theo_epstein. With a moniker like theo_epstein. this team has some high expectations. The main story here, unfortunately, is the mass exodus that was the Retirement/Free Agency departures that the Red Sox team endured going into this season. The most notable departure is future HOF candidate Calvin Lee. Don't get me wrong, I am ecstatic that I no longer have to worry about that thief terrorizing the basepaths against me (Good luck with him, National League). But, it saddened me a little bit knowing that this team left the way it did. With that said, I am hoping that theo can right the ship and make this team competitive ASAP (although I am a little worried that we have not even started the regular season and he is already on AI). Offensively, they still have Dan Blank and Osvaldo Montero, and they recently signed O'Connor to offset the loss of Lee. This will be a totally different team to play against without Calvin Lee, as this team had thrived off of creating runs on the basepaths. J.P. Henriquez enters his final season of his lucrative contract, which will only help this franchise in terms of flexibility to work for the future. Looks like a rebuilding year in Boston!

Norfolk Phanatics

Owner: ratatat72 (11th Season, 811-789, 8 Playoff Appearances, 6 Division Titles)

Franchise History: (1,327-1,427, 10 Playoff Appearances, 8 Division Titles)

Season 17 Recap:

Record: 86-76 (1st Place Tie, Lost to Charlotte in the Division Play-in Series, 3-2)

BA / OBP / SLG: .259 / .325 / .419

R / HR / RBI / SB: 760 / 220 / 750 / 139

ERA / WHIP / SO: 3.95 / 1.27 / 1,095

Fld % / CS %: .987 / .261

Albert Castillo, SS (Free Agency from Austin)
Felipe Arroyo, RP (Free Agency from Buffalo)
Jim Ryan, SP (Claimed Off Waivers from Seattle)
Darryl Whiteside, SP (Claimed Off Waivers from Seattle)

Max Winchester, RP (Free Agency)
Walt King, SS (Free Agency)
Marco Karl, RP (Free Agency)
Alex Buford, SP (Free Agency)

SIGH! Second Place! No longer the Big Cheese! Second Fiddle! These rants taunt me since the end of Season 17. It only brings to attention how old this team is getting. The youth movement may be coming sooner than expected for the Phanatic Phaithful. GM ratatat spent the entire off-season since their exit from the 1st round of the playoffs contemplating whether or not to start scrapping this effort and start over. In the end, they decided to go year by year. Offensively, the Phanatics have seen a steady decline in BA. The addition of Castillo at SS over King should help in that cause, without suffering too much on defense. Pitching, the rotation is still pretty solid from 1 to 4, but the biggest question mark will be the #5. Will one of the Seattle duo taken off waivers take over? Defensively, the Middle Infield seems to be getting a little long in the tooth. Will this spell doom for the once dominant fielding teams in the AL? This team might have another run in it to re-claim the Division Title. It may also be ready to start fire-saling all the good talent (similar to other teams in this division).

Pittsburgh sluggers

Owner: larr100 (11th Season, 758-862, 2 Playoff Appearance, 2 Division Title)

Franchise History: 1,361-1,393, 5 Playoff Appearances, 3 Division Titles)

Season 17 Recap:

Record: 86-76 (1st Place Tie, Lost to Iowa City in the Division Play-in Series, 3-2)

BA / OBP / SLG: .270 / .343 / .457

R / HR / RBI / SB: 880 / 249 / 862 / 119

ERA / WHIP / SO: 4.31 / 1.43 / 963

Fld % / CS %: .981 / .250

Dario O'Neil, SS (Free Agency from Buffalo)
Albert Gomez, SP (Free Agency from Anaheim)

Oswaldo Alvarez, SS (Free Agency)
Felipe Saenz, 1B (Released)
David Buford, SP (Released)
Abdul Alston, SP (Released)

Due to about every tie-breaker that WiS has in place, Pittsburgh claimed the top spot of the AL East for the first time since larr100's first season. The Free Agent signings of Felipe Romo in Season 16, and Doug Fox and Vernon Lloyd in Season 17 finally set the table to make Pittsburgh a bonafide contender for the next few seasons. 20-game winner Pedro Tavarez anchors the rotation, which saw a 1 run improvement from Season 16 to Season 17 (easy to see why they got to the postseason). Not much was done during the offseason, other than a SS replacement and a LRP / Spot Starter signee. This team in considerably younger compared to Norfolk, so it will be easy to say that the foreseeable future looks bright in the Steel City.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Calvin Lee is your new Stolen Base King!

Congrats to Calvin Lee, who took over the All-Time Stolen Base record at 689 and counting when he stole 2nd base in the 7th inning against the Oakland Irish A's. At the age of 29, there are many miles left in the legs of this speed-burner, so who knows where he will end up when all is said and done (1,000?). When trying to contact piratestros on this great accomplishment, there was no reply (sad day indeed). The GM who was able to take advantage of a Rule V mistake and become one of the best leadoff and stolen base threats over the course of the last 8 seasons was not there to see this and may not be there to take credit for this great achievement. Lee was humble when asked about the feat -- "I only wish we were still competing for the Division title. It has been fun stealing bases for the Mutuals the last 8 seasons. They gave me my break into the Bigs." Lee also drove in the winning runs, singling in the 7th to drive in 2 runs as New York nipped the Irish A's, 3-1. I can't imagine any reason why he won't be in the HOF at the end of his career, and it will be hard to see any hat other than NY when they enshrine him.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

AL Power Rankings, Part Deux

Here is the AL Power Rankings going into the last Quarter of Season 17:

1. Las Vegas -- jceffali continues to dominate the AL, despite a mediocre batting average. However, they lead the AL in Home Runs, and have the best pitching and fielding in the league, so suffice it to say, they will be a hard out come the playoffs. Has not lost more than 2 in a row since before the All-Star Break. Impressive!

2. Norfolk -- Currently leads the battle for 2nd bye in the playoffs, and will desperately need it! Similar to LV, their offense isn't where they would like it, but pitching and fielding has made up for that. In the midst of a tough 20-game stretch involving Iowa City, Las Vegas, Boise, Charlotte, and St. Louis. Success of team will hinge on this stretch.

3. Charlotte -- Has really turned it on as of late, going 16-2 over last 18 games. Has easiest schedule of division leaders based on record of opponents.

4. Boise -- Still leading the AL North and has stretched the lead out to a more comfortable cushion. Unlike other division leaders, offense is carrying this team so far. Will make for interesting matchup if they go head-to-head with any of the other division leaders in a 5 or 7-game series.

5. Pittsburgh -- Still showing strength in offense, but pitching took a big hit with the loss of Vernon Lloyd for the season. This could open the door for other teams in the Wild Card, and will definitely test this team for the AL East.

6. Iowa City -- Team has yet to get really hot like it usually does for the playoff push. Pitching has declined compared to prior years, but any team with Spike Chase will always be dangerous.

7. Richmond -- No superstars on this team or players that stick out statistically, but hovering around .500 and within earshot of wild-card. Late season push might put this team in playoffs for first time since Season 4.

8. Seattle -- You won't see many offensive highlights from Seattle, but that is OK by Hextall. Pitching continues to carry this team for a playoff push.

9. Kansas City -- Rumpshakers starting to show some dents in the armor (lack of quality starters after Aviles and Willis, suspect bullpen), but still within striking distance of Wild-Card.

10. Rochester -- Unofficially went to selling mode, as Iglesias and Hauser went on the Trading Block. Fielding has been the Rattlers downfall, ranking 3rd from bottom in AL.

11. Syracuse -- The Siege have been in selling mode for almost the entire season. A pitching staff long in the tooth about ready for re-vamp.

12. St. Louis -- Really strange to see the possibility of a post-season without St. Louis. If any team can surge from this far out, it can be this team. Otherwise, will be on verge of only 2nd losing season in team history.

13. New York -- Sad ending to see piratestros disappear without a trace. Next owner will inherit a team with great possibilities, but underachieving without a leader.

14. Little Rock -- Great offense + Poor pitching = frustrated rangerfan1!

15. Philadelphia -- Continues to build for the future, and showing some flash on the basepaths.

16. Oakland -- Team has started to gel and will be good to see some of they youngsters get playing time in preparation for next season.

AL MVP -- I am sticking with Quilvio Castro. He has 45 Home Runs, which is 10 more than the anyone else in the AL, and he has 21 Stolen Bases to boot. Not too shabby.

AL Cy Young -- I see a battle between Pedro Tavarez (leads the league with 15 wins and IP, and 2nd in Complete Games), Tony Aviles (Rookie is 2nd in Wins and ERA, and 5th in WHIP), Max White, and Spike Chase.

AL Rookie -- As I predicted, Tony Aviles has pulled away and should win this hands down.

NL Power Rankings, Part Deux

As we approach the final stretch, it is time to re-address the Power Rankings and see who has what it takes to make a deep run in the playoffs and who will be packing the golf clubs early. A big thanks to ironman again for supplying the NL rankings.

1. Tacoma - They are starting to pour it on now. Won 14 out of 19 to move 5 games up on Tucson

2. Austin - Tied with Tacoma for the best record in the league. Has cooled off since the 12 game winning streak around the all star break. Lost ace pitcher Kazuo Dong for the remainder of the season. That will hurt.

3. Minnesota - They have cooled off recently and have 2 big series coming up against Tacoma and Tucson.

4. Tucson - Has won 10 out of 13 to move within 5 games of Tacoma. Pitching has been great the past 10+ games

5. Helena - Has won 6 of 7, after a 5 game losing streak, to pull within 2 games of Minnesota

6. Tampa Bay - Won 8 of 9 with much improved hitting. Starting to pull away from Trenton.

7. Houston - Currently 7 games behind Austin, but they have been playing much better as of late. Recently took 3 of 4 from Helena and swept Tacoma at home

8. Trenton - Clawing back to .500 after a recent 4 game losing streak. Trying to stay within shouting distance of Tampa Bay while holding off Buffalo.

9. Buffalo - Starting to put some heat on Trenton. Tough upcoming schedule will determine whether they will make it to 2nd place in the division.

10. Scranton - Hasn't been able to put together and longer winning streak to start putting pressure. On the fringe of being in the wild card race.

11. Ottawa - Putting some heat on Scranton as they try and climb out of the cellar.

12. Anaheim - Has won 13 out of 20 as they make a run at 500. Addressing hitting in the offseason will make this a much better team next year.

11. Honolulu - Losing Cal Reid for the year has been too much for this team to overcome. They will be back strong next year.

14. Atlanta - 3 wins in the last 21 games has dropped this team out of contention

15. Washington DC - Lack of pitching is preventing this team from putting together a long winning streak to get back into contention.

16. Charleston - Showed signs off life by wining 8 of 13, but has lost 4 in a row. Looking toward next year and the #1 pick.

NL MVP - Very tough race to call. Nicholas Crawford (HOU), Tomas Calles (AUS), Sam McCallum (HEL), Ronald Rothschild (LAA), Vicente Martinez (MIN) are all in the hunt. However, Mitch Schneider (MIN) has been on fire and has the slight edge on the field.

NL CY Young - P.T. Nunez (TB) is still leading, but teammate Joseph Feng is hot and catching up to Nunez.

NL Rookie - Jake Watson (TAC) is outpacing Tanyon Moore (TB), Gus Giles (HOU) and Benji Ortiz (TAC), but not by much.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

NL First Half Power Rankings and Awards

Thanks to ironman2011 for this contribution (takeaway -- if you have any beefs with the rankings, blame him!!!!)

1. Tacoma - league leading ERA

2. Minnesota - league leader in BA and Runs

3. Austin - 7th in ERA and 11th in BA - smoke and mirrors?

4. Tucson

5. Helena

6. Houston - 2nd in league in runs scored

7. Tampa Bay - league leader in SB and 2nd in ERA

8. Trenton - tied for LL in HR

9. Scranton

10. Ottawa

11. Honolulu - tied for LL in HR - this team is selling

12. Buffalo

13. Anaheim

14. Atlanta

15. Washington DC

16. Charleston

NL MVP - Very tough race to call. Nicholas Crawford (HOU), Tomas Calles (AUS), Sam McCallum (HEL), Ronald Rothschild (LAA) are all in the hunt. However, would currently give the nod to Vicente Martinez from Minnesota.

NL CY Young - P.T. Nunez is running away with it. He is 9-1 with a 1.76 ERA and .92 WHIP.

NL Rookie - Jake Watson (TAC) is outpacing Tanyon Moore (TB) and Gus Giles (HOU), but not by much.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

AL First Half Power Rankings and Awards

As of last night, every one played 81 games. Since I had some down time, I decided to do a strictly biased version of the Power Rankings and 1st Half Awards. Any and all comments are welcome.

1. Las Vegas -- This was a no brainer. The cream of the crop of the AL continues to surge through their schedule on their way to another post-season run.

2. Boise -- Leads the league in Runs Scored and is 2nd to Las Vegas in Home Runs. Can superior offense stay hot in time for pitching to improve? We shall see.

3. Norfolk -- Another season, another consistently good performance from the Phanatics. Can they hold off the surging Sluggers?

4. Pittsburgh -- After several down seasons, the Sluggers have pieced together a contender. Should be a good battle the rest of the way.

5. Iowa City -- We usually see a slow starting Independence squad, only to REALLY heat up in the 2nd half. Will that trend continue? If so, watch out.

6. Kansas City -- Dwilli91 has done an excellent job in turning this team into a contender after just 1 season. Do the Rump Shakers have enough to stay competitive?

7. Charlotte -- A little surprised that the best team in the AL South is only a game above .500, but not too surprised at who that team is.

8. Richmond -- Right on the Chickens' heels, the Rattlers look to be finally poised to take their game to the next level.

9. Seattle -- After Boise, the next 3 is anyone's guess at this point. Last season's AL North Winner looking for some consistency.

10. Rochester -- Almost exactly the same record through 81 games as they were all last season (.500). Needs to improve SOMEWHERE to make a push.

11. Syracuse -- Despite being in selling mode all season, they still are hanging around in the AL North, which should make other teams nervous.

12. New York -- Once mighty Mutuals starting to show weaknesses in armor. Has thrown high value players on the trading block, and 'stros has been absent for over a week. Dynasty over?

13. St. Louis -- AL South Powerhouse St. Louis in LAST PLACE? Seems the key losses from last season is taking its toll on this team. Current record makes Blaine Prince's extension a questionable one.

14. Little Rock -- Despite some pretty good offensive numbers, Armadillos 2nd to last in Pitching and Defense. Those need to improve for them to climb the rankings.

15. Philadelphia -- bball10 has gone into selling mode and traded away good ML talent for potential rebuild next season.

16. Oakland -- Not even the great buffaloqb could resurrect this team this season. Doing the best he can with what is there, but still a ways to go.

First Half Awards

AL MVP -- Quilvio Castro -- All he has done is lead the AL in Home Runs and RBI's, and has chipped in 18 SB as well. If New York bounces back, would have to give Osvaldo Montero a consideration.

AL Cy Young -- Pedro Tavarez is showing the league that he belongs with the big boys. As of today, he is 12-3 with and ERA at 2.91. Early favorite, but keep an eye on Spike Chase as well.

AL Rookie -- It's hard to look at Kansas City's success and think that the arrival of Tony Aviles and Mario Munoz is more than a coincidence. The only question could be is who has the bigger push to become ROY. My bet is on Aviles.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The (Sprint) Race to 689!

As we embark on the 17th season of Jersey League baseball, we have another race on our hands. It isn't as sexy or as common as the Home Run or Wins or Strikeouts. We are talking about Stolen Bases. For the last 6 seasons, Braden Bynum has retired holding the top spot as Stolen Base King at 688. What was amazing was that he did this in only 9 seasons. He was able to steal at least 50 bags in his first 8 seasons, before age finally began to take its toll and he rapidly declined the final 3 seasons, playing a combined 14 games in his last 2 before retiring. Well, get out your speed guns and hide your pitchers and catchers, because we have the luxury of having not 1, but 2 speed demons that will surpass this number (hopefully) by season's end.

The first is Iowa City's Ricardo Valdes, who began the season with 618 Stolen Bases. At age 34, his speed has slowly declined over the past couple of seasons. But, coach carlspenard does not intend to give Valdes the red light any time soon (he already has 10 swipes to start the season).

The other candidate is New York's own Calvin Lee. As a fellow AL Easterner, it bothered me IMMENSELY when this ballplayer fell into piratestros lap via the Rule V draft in Season 10. Since then, Lee has done nothing but wreak havoc on the basepaths. To know that he is on the verge of surpassing Bynum at the young age of 29 makes one wonder just where he will end up as All Time Stolen Base King.

As we have done for other records, I will post these 2 players on the blog wall to see how they are doing as the season progresses. As fast as these guys are, however, don't be alarmed if the blog is a stolen base or 2 behind the times. Good luck (unless you are playing Norfolk, of course).

Friday, May 20, 2011

AL East Season 17 Team Previews

Wow -- 10th season already. Where has the time gone?!?! As I get ready to embark on this season, I reflect on all the good times (and rough patches) I have endured since joining Jersey League. On the plus side, I've been to the post-season 7 times, won the AL East Crown 6 times, and met some good company in this world. On the negative side, I haven't done squat in the post-season once I get there, and have been called out as a person who would abandon this team (you just wait and see). Well, I am still around and ready for another season of punishment and pain. With that said, I present to you the Season 17 AL East Preview, in reverse order of how they finished in Season 16:

Philadelphia Phillies

Owner: bball10 (8th Season, 447-687, 0 Playoff Appearances)

Franchise History: (1,086-1,506, 1 Playoff Appearance, 0 Division Titles)

Season 16 Recap:

Record: 70-92 (4th Place, 22 GB)

BA / OBP / SLG: .282 / .354 / .464

R / HR / RBI / SB: 958 / 233 / 931 / 164

ERA / WHIP / SO: 5.60 / 1.61 / 1,061

Fld % / CS %: .967 / .268

Carlos Nunez, RP (Free Agent from Syracuse)
Lew Runyan, RP (Free Agent from Little Rock)
Teddy Evans, SS (Free Agent from New York)
Paul Leslie, 1B (Claimed off Waivers from Norfolk)
Fred Waters, RP (Free Agent from Houston)
Dale Tracy, SP (Free Agent from Minnesota)
Dion Gray, 1B (Claimed off Waivers from Richmond)

Bryan Ross, RP (Free Agent)
Christopher Lockhart, 1B (Free Agent)
Kyle Hobbes, LF (Free Agent)
Graham Mitchell, SP (Free Agent)
Jumbo Guerrero, 3B (Free Agent)
Paul Chang, RP (Released)
Terry Shannon, SP (Released)
B.J. Ducey, RP (Released)

Another busy offseason for bball after another fourth place finish. Although, he did accomplish his personal best in wins in Jersey World at 70, he is still in building mode. He has made some nice acquisitions in the IFA market over the past few seasons, and may make a significant impact in a season or 2. In the meantime, he will continue to plug in holes, hoping that he will have a team that can compete past the All-Star break. On the offensive side, this is the best team in the East. Led by Achilles Ramirez and Billy Bush, they were near the top in many offensive categories in Season 16, scoring 107 more runs from Season 15. The first of the IFA crop has been planted into the ML roster in Woody Ganzel. Needless to say, the offense isn't the problem. On pitching, bball signed Dale Tracy from the World Series Champions PeaceFrogs to help bolster a staff that finished near the bottom of the AL in ERA and WHIP. If Tracy can stay healthy (big IF), then there may be some Philly talk after the All-Star Break.

Pittsburgh sluggers

Owner: larr100 (10th Season, 672-786, 1 Playoff Appearance, 1 Division Title)

Franchise History: 1,275-1,317, 4 Playoff Appearances, 2 Division Titles)

Season 16 Recap:

Record: 75-87 (3rd Place, 17 GB)

BA / OBP / SLG: .268 / .337 / .437

R / HR / RBI / SB: 847 / 213 / 827 / 147

ERA / WHIP / SO: 5.35 / 1.579 / 1,010

Fld % / CS %: .980 / .346

Doug Fox, CF (Free Agent from Washington, D.C.)
Vernon Lloyd, SP (Free Agent from Iowa City)
Midre Jacquez, RP (Rule V from Iowa City)
Brett Hughes, RP (Rule V from Anaheim)
Felipe Saenz, 1B (Promoted)
Phillip Good, SP (Promoted)

Taylor Everett, RP (Free Agent)
Mark Woo, RP (Free Agent)
Patrick Peavy, RP (Free Agent)
Damian Chang, RP (Free Agent)
Willie Prieto, RP (Free Agent)
Alan Molitor, LF (Released)
A.J. Cannon, RP/SP (Free Agent)

Although Pittsburgh saw an better record in Season 16, their pitching once again faltered past the All-Star Break. On offense, this team improved, but wasn't enough to satisfy larr100, as he goes out and lands one of the top FA's in the market in Doug Fox to help bolster a lineup that signed Felipe Romo last season. On the pitching side, Vernon Lloyd joins the rotation to help out perennial All-Star Pedro Tavarez. If this team can avoid the grind of the regular season and stay competitive without any major losing streaks, we may see the Sluggers back on top of the AL East for the first time in 10 seasons.

New York Mutuals

Owner: piratestros (9th Season, 633-663, 2 Playoff Appearances, 2 Division Titles)

Franchise History: (1,323-1,279, 6 Playoff Appearances, 6 Division Titles, 1 American League Championship)

Season 16 Recap:

Record: 83-79 (2nd Place, 9 GB)

BA / OBP / SLG: .276 / .352 / .431

R / HR / RBI / SB: 918 / 187 / 889 / 286

ERA / WHIP / SO: 4.77 / 1.47 / 1,044

Fld % / CS %: .975 / .237

Juan Valdivia, SS (Promoted)
Bryan Thomas, RP (Free Agent From Trenton)
Richard Withem, 1B (Free Agent from Tacoma)
Tom Justice, 3B (Free Agent From Las Vegas)
Julio Palacios, RP (Free Agent From Washington, D.C.)
Omar Gonzalez, RP (Free Agent From Norfolk)
Oleg Pearson, SP (Rule V from Syracuse)
Will Hobbes, RP (Rule V from Trenton)
Brady Moran, RP (Rule V from St. Louis)
R.J. Johnson, RP (Rule V from Minnesota)

Marino Martinez, SP (Free Agency)
Geronimo Tatis, RP (Free Agency)
Willie Wells, RP (Free Agency)
Ron Niekro, RP (Free Agency)
Vladimir Hernandez, LF (Free Agency)
Teddy Evans, SS (Free Agency)
Ray Hogan, C (Free Agency)
Aaron Marshall, RF (Released)
Earl Page, SP/RP (Released)
Vin Romano, RP (Released)
Ross Boskie, LF (Claimed Off Waivers by Philadelphia)

Another offseason, so that means another busy time for piratestros. It is rumored that the management is getting quite frustrated with what has transpired over the last few seasons. In his mind (and possibly the general opinion of the league) the Mutuals had the best team on paper to be the East representatives. Yet, for one reason or another, they seem to be looking up at the Phanatics by the end of the season. Relief Pitching saw a major overhaul as many of the veterans were released to make room for younger pitchers from the Rule V. A little risky, but piratestros is never one for conventional strategy. On offense, this team is loaded, led by All-Stars Dan Blank, Calvin Lee, and Osvaldo Montero. They added 3B Tom Justice to add insult to injury for the AL East. The real question for this Mutual team lies in the Pitching. After J.P. Henriquez and Luis Rincon, the remaining staff is either really young or injury prone (Kirk Gardner). Whatever happens, you know this team will never be dull from season to season.

Norfolk Phanatics

Owner: ratatat72 (10th Season, 745-713, 7 Playoff Appearances, 6 Division Titles)

Franchise History: (1,241-1,351, 9 Playoff Appearances, 8 Division Titles)

Season 16 Recap:

Record: 92-70 (1st Place, Beat Iowa City in the Division Play-in Series, 3-2
Lost to St. Louis in Division Championship Series, 3-1)

BA / OBP / SLG: .266 / .336 / .417

R / HR / RBI / SB: 759 / 205 / 735 / 148

ERA / WHIP / SO: 3.79 / 1.32 / 975

Fld % / CS %: .984 / .251

Angel Tatis, RP (Claimed Off Waivers from Helena)
Rex Cosby, C (Promoted)
Sadie Knight, SP (Free Agent from Boise)
Rigo Franco, SP (Traded from Las Vegas)

Omar Gonzalez, RP (Free Agency)
Louie Martinez, RP (Free Agency)
Wilt Grant, RF (Free Agency)
Doc Huckaby, LF (Free Agency)
Stephen Tomlin, C (Free Agency)
Bernard Perez, SP (Released)

The Phanatics took a small step forward last season. Despite falling in wins from Season 16 to Season 17 (albeit, only 1 win short), they finally managed to solve the puzzle that is the Iowa City Independence in post-season play. However, they were quickly kicked to the curb by St. Louis, as the pitching just wasn't up to snuff against the offense of the Cardinals. Ratatat finally had himself a busy off-season in the FA market, as well as the trade lines. Pitching was the focus, as Sadie Knight and Rigo Franco were added to help Brett Henry improve the rotation (which was already pretty good last season). Relief pitching will be the biggest question mark, as they need to figure out who will replace LRP Omar Gonzalez and closer Louie Martinez. On offense, they saw the worst performance last season under ratatat's regime. Phanatic fans are hoping that the offense can rebound, especially with the movement that the other teams of the division are doing. If not, the reign of division supremacy may be soon coming to an end.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Another Day, Another Webster Milestone

Minneapolis, MN (RP) - Erick Webster joined Bernie Gongora early this morning, by tallying his 2,000th RBI against the Minnesota PeaceFrog. The feat was rather anti-climatic, as he drove in the run on a bases loaded walk in the 1st inning off starter Don Meng in the Beagles' 9-6 win. "Hey, an RBI is an RBI, and given my struggles lately, I'll take them any way I can!" All joking aside, he was referring to his offensive dip he is struggling through this year, as he is batting a meager .222 with 4 HR and 22 RBI through 54 games, well below the pace of his average has only tallied 4 after the first 54 games. At 37, you might think that he is finally starting to show his age, though he is still going out there every day, and he definitely isn't hurting the team's chances at the division, as the Beagles are only 5 games back at 30-24 with plenty of baseball to play. This could be the season of the Webster milestones, as he is only 10 HR shy of 750 and 51 hits shy from 2,500 milestone. I'm sure that psanders is hoping that each HR and hit helps for the ultimate goal of winning ball games.

Gongora Becomes 1st Jersey League Player to join 3,000 Hit Club

Honolulu, HI (RP) - Bernie Gongora solidified his legacy in the Jersey League when he collected his 3,000th hit off of Jim Morris in the 6th inning of Atlanta's 7-3 loss to the Haoles. According to Gongora, the milestone was a little bittersweet, as his team was not able to win, but the sold out crowd still gave the standing ovation, giving Gongora his due. When asked about the moment, Gongora replied 'It was really special when the fans applauded like that. Nice to see the Honolulu crowd do that for me." Gongora also added that, with the exception of in front of his home crowd and, maybe in Houston, where he spent the early part of his career, that Honolulu was a great spot to tally hit # 3,000. At age 35, he still has some gas in the tank, but whatever he decides to do, it is only a matter of time before he is enshrined into the HOF.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Erick Webster Reaches Run Milestone in Win

Atlanta, GA -- Buffalo scores 4 runs in the 3rd inning to beat the Atlanta Red Legs, 4-1. It was the final run of the inning that is most notable, as it involved Erick Webster scoring for the 1,500th time in his illustrious career. It occurred in the 3rd inning when Louie Ontiveros grounded a single to Right Field. Congrats to Webster on this historic feat. Surely only a matter of time before we can officially put HOF in front of his name.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Jersey League Adds Fifth Hall of Famer

The Jersey League Hall of Fame grew to five members with the election of Julius Costello at the beginning of season 16. Costello was primarily a left fielder, and played 13 seasons with five teams, but largely Seattle and Montreal. Costello ended with 496 HRs and 1,296 RBI, and a stellar .958 OPS. Costello won 2 MVPs, was a 6-time all-star, and also picked up 2 Silver Sluggers. Costello played most of his career with poor teams and never had a single playoff at bat. Costello's greatest year was perhaps season 3 in Madison, where he had 73 HRs and 156 RBI.

Congratulations on joining the Jersey League Hall of Fame, Julius Costello!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

AL East Season 16 Team Previews

Another season past, another disappointing performance for the teams that represent the AL East. After many seasons of nothing more than 1 team in and 1-and-outs in the playoffs, it has come to my attention that this division needs to start making some noise going forward. I am including myself in this conversation, as although I have been successful getting to the playoffs most often, I for the LIFE of me can't get past the 1st round, ESPECIALLY IF IT INVOLVES FACING OFF AGAINST THOSE DAMN DEALERS OR INDEPENDENCE!!!!

Ahem.....with that said, I present to you the Season 16 AL East Preview, in reverse order of how we finished in Season 15:

Philadelphia Phillies

Owner: bball10 (7th Season, 377-595, 0 Playoff Appearances)

Franchise History: (949-1,319, 1 Playoff Appearance, 0 Division Titles)

Season 15 Recap:

Record: 67-95 (4th Place, 26 GB)

BA / OBP / SLG: .276 / .342 / .448

R / HR / RBI / SB: 851 / 228 / 825 / 155

ERA / WHIP / SO: 5.46 / 1.56 / 1,024

Fld % / CS %: .975 / .311

William Woods, SP (Free Agency from Seattle)
Tomas Lima, SP (Free Agency from Syracuse)
Geoff Blake, RP (Free Agency from Minnesota)
Paul Chang, RP (Rule V Selection from Ottawa)

Howard O'Malley, RP (Free Agency)
Jimmie Ortega, RP (Free Agency)
Mo Bradley, RP (Free Agency)
James Robbins, RP (Free Agency)
Wiki Almonte, RP (Released)
James Robbins, RP (Released)
Dan Maxwell, LF (Released)
Germany Ransom, RP (Released)

Last season, I said that if bball did not improve on his pitching and fielding, he would not improve on his 69 wins from last season. Guess what?!?! I was wrong. He did improve his pitching and he did improve his fielding, but he finished with only 67 wins last season. Despite his improvements, he still finished 14th in pitching and 16th in fielding in the AL (that's last for those of you keeping score at home). Now, with that said, bball enters this season on a mission to improve on starting pitching. Signing Lima and Woods bolsters a rotation that was lacking last season. Also, signing Blake gives him a solid closer. Hopefully the mass release of Relief Pitchers in the offseason doesn't come back to haunt them. The Philly Offense is potent, as always. Led by Achilles Ramirez, Billy Bush, and Brandon Fisher, they have 3 guys that can get on base and produce runs. If this team figures out its fielding woes, they might see the other side of 70 wins for the first time in 7 seasons.

Pittsburgh sluggers

Owner: larr100 (9th Season, 597-699, 1 Playoff Appearance, 1 Division Title)

Franchise History: 1,200-1,230, 4 Playoff Appearances, 2 Division Titles)

Season 15 Recap:

Record: 70-92 (3rd Place, 23 GB)

BA / OBP / SLG: .260 / .333 / .413

R / HR / RBI / SB: 760 / 194 / 727 / 124

ERA / WHIP / SO: 5.31 / 1.577 / 975

Fld % / CS %: .981 / .279

Lonny Roque, 2B (Promoted)
Willie Prieto, RP (Free Agency from Boise)
Felipe Romo, 3B (Free Agency from Anaheim)
Jacoby Coles, SP (Rule V from Tucson)

Rodney Mulder, 3B (Free Agency)
Footsie Moyer, RP (Free Agency)

Pittsburgh took a giant step backwards last season. He declined on all offensive categories, finishing no better than 14th in all AL offensive categories, except Stolen Bases (8th). He addressed this in the offseason by signing Felipe Romo to play 3B. This addition will definitely help Vernon Ojala and up-and-comer Fausto Johnson. The pitching is still led by 4-time All-Star Pedro Tavarez, who finished tied for the most Complete Games last season (8). Larr100 is hoping that the upgrade in offense will be enough to take back some of the losses they incurred last season.

New York Mutuals

Owner: piratestros (8th Season, 550-584, 2 Playoff Appearances, 2 Division Titles)

Franchise History: (1,240-1,190, 6 Playoff Appearances, 6 Division Titles, 1 American League Championship)

Season 15 Recap:

Record: 88-74 (2nd Place, 5 GB)

BA / OBP / SLG: .292 / .358 / .461

R / HR / RBI / SB: 945 / 227 / 910 / 232

ERA / WHIP / SO: 4.79 / 1.50 / 1,074

Fld % / CS %: .982 / .203

R.A. Dixon, SP (Promoted)
B.C. Grace, RP (Promoted)
Luis Rincon, SP (Traded from Las Vegas)
Frank Bates, 3B (Free Agency from Philadelphia)
Nicky Coleman, RP (Free Agency from Tampa Bay)
Ron Niekro, RP (Free Agency from Ottawa)

Juan Hernandez, RF (Free Agency)
Patrick Reagan, 3B (Free Agency)
Buddy Johnson, RP (Free Agency)
Don Vernon, SP (Free Agency)
Christopher Stein, RP (Free Agency)
Taylor Everett, RP (Free Agency)
Darwin McBride, SP (Team Declined Option)
Taylor Ramsay, RP (Traded to Las Vegas)

In my mind, I thought that New York was the best team in this division last season. Offensively, they put up improved numbers worthy of a steroid investigation! They led the AL in BA and OBP, and finished only behind Las Vegas in Runs, RBI, and SB in the AL. Per the norm, the off-season was not a vacation for piratestros. They traded for Rincon from Las Vegas, bolstering the rotation, as well as Type-B Free Agent signing of Ron Niekro (an ex-Phanatic closer, I'll have you know). Despite the major deals, they will also be bringing up 2 young arms from the minors. The offense is still led by 4-time 2B Silver Slugger and All-Star Calvin Lee (sniff, sniff -- I smell future HOF'er) and fellow speedster Dan Blank, who set the table nicely for Ramiro Seanez and Vic Diaz. If the new pitching pans out, we could definitely be seeing a new champ this season.

Norfolk Phanatics

Owner: ratatat72 (9th Season, 653-643, 6 Playoff Appearances, 5 Division Titles)

Franchise History: (1,149-1,281, 8 Playoff Appearances, 7 Division Titles)

Season 15 Recap:

Record: 93-69 (1st Place, Lost to Iowa City in the AL Division Series, 3-0)

BA / OBP / SLG: .281 / .350 / .457

R / HR / RBI / SB: 887 / 242 / 858 / 132

ERA / WHIP / SO: 4.53 / 1.43 / 1,099

Fld % / CS %: .982 / .231

Walt King, SS (Free Agency from Seattle)
David Camacho, SP (Promoted)
Bernard Perez, SP (Traded from Helena)
Gary Garcia, SP (Traded from Helena)
Bill Pride, RP (Claimed off Waivers from Tampa Bay)
Denny Hukata, RP (Claimed off Waivers from Atlanta)

Hector Trevino, SP (Player Declined Option)
Terrence Cox, RF (Free Agency)
Josias Quixote, DH (Released)
Tony Alonso, SS (Released)
Gerald Bichette, RP (Released)
Ted Borland, SP (Released)

Once again, the Phanatics became the AL West fodder for the playoffs. To be honest, I am not quite sure how I won the division. My team did improve in Slugging, but they struck 1,121 times (only Seattle and Syracuse whiffed more in the AL). Though it looks like the Phanatics were busy, keep in mind that the last 4 additions were after we were eliminated in the playoffs before roll-over. Although management was disappointed by the trade veto, they still feel confident that they can be competitive with what they have right now. On offense, the team is led by Bucky Gates, Mateo Flores, and Darrell Rossy. Catcher Dale Nichting is an early Rookie of the Year candidate. Brett Henry had his best season last season, and hopes to continue building on that. The bullpen was lights out during the regular season, led by Marco Karl and closer Louie Martinez