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