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.