Thursday, December 4, 2014

S16 Draft Review - by train

Disclaimer: Train somehow saw all but 3 of the first round picks so he volunteered his analysis of these guys. Keep in mind that all of these comments are based on what he saw and his personal preferences. Thank you train. - hurricane384

1. Dann Sierra – Went 1st overall, my scouts saw that as a reach (had him as mid-1st round). Elite control, good vs L, average vs R with a strong repertoire. I rate vsR high in my SP assessment, which knocked him down a bit for me. Strong mid-rotation piece.

2. Stubby Perez – Top pitcher on my board. Plus ratings in control and both splits. Decent pitch mix, but missing that knockout #1 pitch. Slight flyball tendencies, not enough to warrant concern.

3. RJ Leake – I went back and forth between Leake and Huang as my top guy. You can’t go wrong either way. Absolute elite contact/power combo with decent enough splits; eye is lacking. Should play a strong 2B, might eek out enough range to hang in CF for a few seasons. Durability a slight concern (might max out below 75).

4. Rio Acosta – Had him closer to the middle of the 1st round based solely on concerns that he’ll stick at short. Range and Arm Acc are both projecting to be fringy; if those end up decent enough he’s a solid value at 4. Great speed, will torch lefties and hold his own against righties. Should work out to an above avg bat at SS if he sticks.

5. George Gibbs – Strong defensive CF with elite speed. Bat looks to be strong vs R with a plus eye. Should hold his own vsL, power will be middling but not bad for a CF with his other notable skills. Solid value here.

6. Kiko Hoffpauir – Second pitcher on my board; very close to Stubby (I wouldn’t argue with ranking him above Stubby). Control/Durability combo looks to be on the lower end for a SP (in the 20/75 range, makes it tough to get more than 170ish innings). Excellent control and vsR, along with strong pitches and velocity. Slight groundball tendency as well. Fantastic value at #6.

7. Tito Huang – my pick; had Tito top on my board, barely over Leake, Perez and Hoffpauir. Strong contact with elite power; excellent splits but batting eye is going to come in below average. Defensively he’ll likely fall short of, well, short and end up at 3B. Durability on the lower end (similar to Leake, likely to come in somewhere in the low 70s).

8. Gill Tamura – Future gold glove at short, projects elite in all 4 defensive categories. Bat is good too, with above average contact and power to go along with passable splits and eye. When you consider his defensive upside, the bat makes him a special all around player. Another great value pick here.

9. Clarence Nix – Excellent bat, not sure where he lands defensively. Looks to have great power with strong ratings everywhere else – contact, splits and eye all project to solidly above average. Defensively he was listed as a 2B but my projections show he’ll likely end up in LF (or be a butcher at 2B). Remains to be seen where he ends up, but the bat will play anywhere.

10. Sid Gibson – Another mid to top of the rotation SP, which is a nice get at 10. No stamia/dur concerns; excellent control with both splits coming in above average. Lower end velocity, but I’m not a big velo guy so that didn’t impact my ranking of him. Pitches are solid, not spectacular. Missing an “out” pitch.

11. Bunny Russell – Fantastic first name. He’ll offer elite control with really strong splits (especially vsR). High velocity and a GB tendency is nice as well. His stuff will be the only thing holding him back from sitting at the top of a rotation. I’ve seen some pitchers succeed with the stuff he has, and others not so much. Will be interesting to see how he shakes out. Could be a steal at 11 if some of those pitches grade out a little higher than my scouts see.

12. Endy DeJean – Endy looks like he’ll end up in LF, where his bat will be useful but not strong. Best hitting skill is OBP and he’ll make good contact while handling righties better than lefties. Great speed as well; I’ve had some luck in the past with eye/speed/contact type guys and if he ends up hitting those marks I could be under selling him with my opening comment.

13. Shelley Lamb – I had Shelley closer to the end of the round on my list, making this one of the more questionable picks in my scouts’ eyes. Above avg contact and power, with some decent success vsL. Will struggle vsR and I’m worried that the bad batting eye will drag everything down. On the defensive side, my scouts didn’t project him to stick at short, pushing him to 2B or 3B, where the bat becomes a little more important.

14. Haywood Dykstra – From questionable back to good value, Dykstra was a strong pick at 14. Will be good-to-great in all hitting categories and is a solid enough defender to stick at 1B, saving him from needing to shift to DH anytime soon. His bat will play fine at 1B. Biggest red flag is health, which as we all know is a complete crapshoot.

15. Robinzon Alvarez – Another up-the-middle guy, Alvarez might end up in CF, but more likely at 2B (possibly even 3B, depending on arm strength/accuracy). He’ll put the ball in play often, with more success vsL, but fine vsR as well. Eye is low, but offsets a bit with higher contact. Minimal power, which is fine given his defensive abilities. Adds some speed as well.

16. Bruce Tomlinson – SP who looks like he can eat a lot of innings (dur and stamina project to combine for >120, which is a 220+ inning guy for sure). Control will be his biggest challenge, with that skill projected to end up below average. He will try to offset that with strong splits, velocity and groundball tendencies. Pitches are also good. If he can throw enough strikes, he’ll be good.

17. Carmen Becker – another guy I had down the list; probably out of the 1st round. Carmen doesn’t have a standout offensive tool, with each of the 5 categories grading out near average, maybe slightly above depending on where he plays defensively. My scouts see him at 3B, which would leave me looking for a bit more bat.

18. Alfredo Butler – SP with an elite p1 (and good secondary offerings as well). Control and splits are average-to-slightly-above. Comes in low in both velocity and gb/fb, which to me is a scary combo depending on where he pitches his home games. Stamina will be on the low end but the dur might make up for it enough to get him to 180-ish innings.

19. Kiko Wilkinson – always nice to have two Kiko’s in the 1st round. This Kiko is the first RP off the board and a great value as well. Plenty of stamina/durability to throw 80+ innings out of the ‘pen. Will dominate righties and give lefties difficulty as well. Fantastic first pitch, strong second pitch (which you need if you only have 2 pitches). Good velo, gonna strike out a lot of guys.

20. Mitch Marshall – Had Mitch out of the 1st round, but as we get to the back end of the round that’s not that far away. Similar profile to Becker; does everything okay, but no one tool stands out. Contact is a little low, pairs that with some decent power and average splits/eye. On defense, my scouts show him landing in LF, though if he can exceed those projections and stick at 2B his bat will play much better.

21. Enny Martinez – first guy my scouts didn’t see!

22. Chris Hudson – also didn’t see him

23. Jamie Fox – zero power, but will do everything else well. Projects to a very good eye, to go along with a strong vsR (a ratings combo I always like). Contact and vsL are average. Will struggle to slug much of anything, so his offensive value is tied to his ability to get on base. Once there, his top-end speed will hopefully add some value as well. Defensively he looks like he can stick in CF for now; if he fails to hit those ratings though, his value will take a hit since his bat will struggle in a corner spot.

24. JC Lindsey – defensive specialist, does not appear to have much future success with the bat. Contact hitter with low power, vsL and eye, and a mediocre vsR. Has good speed so hopefully that will help his offensive game. On the defensive side, he looks like a legit CF with good range and an elite glove.

25. Chipper Rolison – second RP off the board and another pretty good value. Good dur/sta profile; elite control paired with strong splits. Velo is low, gb/fb is average. P1 is good enough, and his other stuff is passable as well. Looks like a solid Setup A.

26. Tom Rushford – according to my scouts, best value pick of the draft. I had him high, based on the combination of good offensive abilities and a top-flight pitch calling rating (his other defensive skills are strong too). Looks like he’ll check every box on the offensive side of his game, with good contact and average or better in all other ratings. Pair that with his excellent D, and this is a great pick.

27. Tom Carr – Defense only SS. Contact and power will be sub-50, eye is almost non-existent. Good splits though, but with the other areas lacking he will struggle to hit. Solid D across the board, so he will add value on that side.

28. Felix Sung – Potentially a 2B, another guy on the fringe with his glove. If he sticks at 2B, the bat will play better. Primary offensive skill is his batting eye; contact and splits are lacking. Power is passable, especially for a 2B. If his D doesn’t make it to full projections, he’d end up in a corner OF spot and his bat would not hold up as well there.

29. Lucas Slaughter – Average across the board with the bat – 50’s and 60’s across the board. Pretty strong defender – all ratings project to plus but the glove might not make it as a SS. Looks like he’ll profile as a super utility type.

30. Eduardo Barrios – I had him much higher (right around the middle of the round), due to an offensive skillset I like. Above average in all offensive ratings other than power. Brings good speed to the table as well, making it likely that he can hit well enough to earn a regular gig. He’ll need to, as his glove doesn’t add a ton of value. Probably ends up in a corner OF, unless there’s something there I’m missing. Definite value here at the end of the round.

31. Felix Hughes – I had Hughes well out of the first due to concerns with his bat. Very strong vsL, but there’s not much else there. His batting eye will be a hindrance, projecting as very far below average. Glove and arm are probably good enough to hang at 3B, range needs to surprise to reach the minimums though.

32. Mitchell Stieb - I’m a sucker for offense first, zero defensive value types and that’s what we have here. Stieb projects to elite power combined with enough in the other categories to be above average offensively. On the defensive side, he probably won’t make it as a C, so he’ll need that bat to be good. Solid value at the end of the round.

33. Junior Castillo – lowest rated guy on my board to end up in the 1st round. Not going to get much offense, if any, with him. Power is zero, nothing else notable with the stick. Should play some good D, as all of his fielding ratings project to be above average.

34. Vladamir Donatello – not scouted.

S16 Draft Review - by hurricane384

  1. LHP Dann Sierra (STL)
    A solid SP, he projects as a top of the rotation starter. He projects to great control and a great pitch combination. Doesn't throw hard and is merely average at keeping the ball down. Doesn't excel at keeping the ball out of the hitting zone.
  2. RHP Stubby Perez (LA)
    Doesn't have great control, but does well keeping the ball out of the hitting zone. Throws with some velocity, but does allow more than his fair share of flyballs. Pitch combination, while not lethal, is solid.
  3. 2B R.J. Leake (NY2)
    Leake projects as a top-notch defense CF/2B. Good speed. Doesn't strike out. Really good power. Below average at consistently driving the ball. Below average eye. Provides tremendous value on defense with his power.
  4. SS Rio Acosta (MIN)
    Lacks the range to be a ML SS, but the glove and arm should be good enough to be a GG IF. Some power, drives the ball extremely well. Good eye. Good speed. Strikes out more than you'd like.
  5. CF George Gibbs (ATL)
    Great range and glove. Very fast. Little power. Good eye. Drives ball well. Decent contact ability.
  6. RHP Kiki Hoffpauir (CLE)
    Good control. Keeps ball out of hitting zone against RHB. Hard thrower. Keeps ball down in zone. Good pitches.
  7. SS Tito Huang (OAK)
    Slightly below average across the board defensively, but that shouldn't matter as his offensive numbers are off the charts...period. Great power, contact, and splits. Average eye, shouldn't affect his ability to be a perennial all-star.
  8. SS Gill Tamura (ARI)
    Tremendous range. Great arm. Average to above average across the board offensively. 
  9. LF Clarence Nix (FLA)
    Great range. Average at avoiding strikeouts but has very good power and drives the ball very well. Good eye. 
  10. RHP Sid Gibson (TOR)
    Good control. Solid at keeping the ball out of the hitting zone. Decent top 2 pitches. Lacks complete repertoire. Keeps ball down in zone.
    mburgy says: For the 5th consecutive season, the Blue Jays went pitching heavy. Sid Gibson selected at #10 projects to be a back of the rotation innings eater. Good stamina and control should keep his pitch counts down. Lower splits with good pitch selection
  11. RHP Bunny Russell (WAS)
    Tremendous control. Average at keeping the ball out of hitting zone. Throws fairly hard. Lacks that putaway pitch.
    chase39 says: with the 11th pick we drafted Bunny Russell . We had him ranked number 2 on our board, so we are pleased to get him at 11. He should develop into a solid number 1 or 2 starter for us.
  12. RF Endy DeJean (MIL)
    Great eye. Solid defensively. Won't strike out too much. Solid power. Drives ball well. Very fast. Average baserunner.
  13. SS Shelley Lamb (COL)
    Doesn't have the arm strength to be a great SS. Solid power, won't strike out too much. Doesn't square the ball consistently. Lacks great knowledge of strike zone.
  14. 1B Haywood Dykstra (CIN)
    Squares the ball very consistently. Good eye. Solid power. Average at avoiding K's. 
  15. SS Robinson Alvarez (TEX)
    Listed as a SS, but has a better chance of sticking at 2B or LF. Will be a great leadoff hitter with power. Squares the ball very well.
  16. RHP Bruce Tomlinson (CH2) **UNSIGNED**
    Currently unsigned, Tomlinson could be a great pick at 16. Projects to very good pitches, throws hard and keeps the ball down in the zone. Keeps the ball out of the hitting zone. Solid pitches too.
  17. 2B Carmen Becker (LAA)
    Great power. Average contact. Solid defensively for 2B. Could play 3B. Drives the ball well. Decent eye.
  18. RHP Alfredo Butler (CH1)
    Could be a solid RP. Decent control. Does a good job of keeping the ball out of the hitting zone. Good pitches. Doesn't throw hard and doesn't get GBs.
  19. RHP Kiko Wilkinson (BOS)
    Should be a nearly dominant RP. Good control. Keeps the ball out of the hitting zone and keeps the ball down in the zone. Throws hard and has 2 dominant pitches.
  20. 2B Mitch Marshall (PIT)
    Should definitely be a good CF. Average to above average offensively with solid speed.
  21. 2B Enny Martinez (NY1)
    Lacks great range. Good speed. Drives the ball well and can really work the count. Doesn't have much power and will strike out some.
  22. C Chris Hudson (TB)
    Tremendous defensive catcher. Above average power and contact. Drives the ball well and can really work the count. This is a tremendous value pick at 22.
  23. CF Jamie Fox (SEA)
    Good defensive CF. No power. Solid contact. Drives the ball well against RHP. Great eye. Great speed and good baserunning ability.
  24. CF J.C. Lindsey (COL) **UNSIGNED**
    Great defensive CF with tremendous speed. Average eye. Lacks good power. Good contact. Does square the ball consistently.
  25. LHP Chipper Rolison (KC)
    Great control. Great pitches. Keeps ball down in zone and avoids hitting zone decently. Doesn't throw hard.
  26. C Tom Rushford (ARI)
    Doesn't have the most accurate arm but can call a game and a strong a arm. Drives the ball well. Above average power and contact. Decent eye.
  27. SS Tom Carr (TB)
    Great defender. Should win some GG. Not good offensively as he will struggle to reach base. No strike zone discipline. Struggles making contact, but can square it up when he does. No real power.
  28. 2B Felix Sung (DET)
    Great range. Below average the rest of the way defensively. Great eye. Strikes out a lot. Decent power and decent at driving the ball.
  29. CF Lucas Slaughter (NO)
    Great range. Very strong arm. Makes good contact with solid power. Drives the ball well and has a good eye. Might not stick as a CF.
    mongoose_22 says: We expect Lucas Slaughter to develop into a serviceable 4th outfielder. He should be solid enough defensively to play in CF, with good speed and a bat that is barely adequate. He has already blown out his hammy though, so we now expect even less out of him.
  30. 2B Eduardo Barrios (SD)
    Great range solid glove. Good speed. Drives the ball decently. Doesn't strike out much. Won't hit for power. Great eye.
    opie5 says: San Diego management is very pleased to acquire OF Eduardo Barrios with the 30th pick in the draft. This is one of the few years in which San Diego feels they have acquired a ML bat in the draft. Barrios’s glove will relegate him to a corner position but his bat will get him in the lineup. Power is not Eduardo’s game but getting on base certainly is. Barrios projects as a high OBP player that should bat in the 2 hole – he can handle the stick.
  31. 3B Felix Hughes (SF)
    An oddity here...doesn't have the range to play most IF positions but his glove and arm would be wasted in the OF or at 1B. He drives the ball well against LHP while struggling against RHP. Not a good eye. Won't strike out too much though. Average power. 
  32. C Mitchell Stieb (BAL)
    Tremendous power. Dominant against LHP. Good eye. Struggles against RHP. Should be able to play a decent C.
    hopkinsheel says: In a pretty weak draft, we feel we got a steal with Stieb. He projects to be a big masher with a solid OPS between his power, splits, and eye. Always nice to grab a guy like that at the end of the first round.
  33. SS Junior Castillo (CH1)
    Not an ideal SS glove, but great range and a great arm. No power and struggles against LHP. Very good against RHP. Average contact ability and eye.
  34. SS Vladimir Donatello (ARI)
    Terrible glove, weak arm. Solid power, good contact. Average at squaring the ball. Good eye.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Message from the Commish

Rule Change Amendment

Hello everyone, I have been considering a slight change to the MWR for quite awhile. A lot of you are already aware of this because of the conversation we've had in NCAA..

Action Required - Please trade chat or sitemail me if you'd like to voice your support or opposition to the rule change. If you'd like to make your thoughts public, please feel free to post a reply to this post and it will appear on the blog.

I feel that the world rules need to evolve as the league and HBD evolves. To be clear, I have ZERO interest in weakening the competitive requirements. I want to provide the opportunity for a good owner to have the choice to stay in the world if they don't hit the MWR and accept strong penalties which will still dissuade any tanking.

The other change I have decided to make after discussing with other commissioners is I am going to take the competition committee out of the process initially when someone hit 200 losses over 2 seasons. Now you'll automatically get probation, however the competition committee will retain the right to review all situations on a case by case basis and if there is documented issues with tanking (ie - throwing out fatigued pitchers for the last 2 weeks of the season to generate losses) then they can still be voted out. The process will be the competition committee voting on the situation and if its severe enough to bring to the world, then the world will vote.

Old Rule - 1. 200 losses or more over a two year period and the owner will be asked to state their case as to why they should be allowed to stay. If allowed to stay the owner must reach 70 wins or be replaced.

New Rule

1. 200 losses or more over a two season period and the owner will go on probation and have to hit 70 wins. If the owner does not hit 70 wins, then the owner has a choice of leaving the world or accepting the following penalties:
- Forfeiture of next season's first round pick by selecting a player chosen by the commissioner
- One season IFA ban on signing anyone for more than $1 million. IFA's under $1 million can be signed as minor league filler.
- If either of these rules are violated, the result is immediate expulsion from the world
- The competition committee reserves the right to vote on each MWR situation and if its severe enough, then the world will vote on the offending owner.

The last benefit to this rule change is it will allow me to set up a very clean spreadsheet on tracking MWR offenders for all of my worlds. Although I go out of my way to be unbiased when the competition committee votes, I felt that I wanted to make the process more objective than subjective and these rules reflect those changes while also allowing the world to retain good owners who want to stay in the world.

Thanks for being a part of this world and community,


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

S15 Draft Review

  1. LHP Bernard McClung (FLA)
    McClung is definitely worthy of the #1 overall pick. He boasts good control along with great ability to keep the ball out of the hitting zone. The real kicker here is the fact that he looks to have 4 very high quality pitches that will allow him to develop into the anchor of the Marlins' staff for years to come.
    mamidu says: In a fairly shallow draft, the Marlins were very happy to have the 1st pick to grab McClung. He projects to have excellent control and splits with 4 ML pitches. I have him projecting to be a mid-70s stamina guy, so I hope he can at least hit that. The only other concern would be the mediocre health, so fingers crossed he doesn't have a major injury. Overall, I feel we got the #1 to anchor a staff that you would expect of the #1 overall pick.
  2. RHP Tito Ardoin (TOR)
    Great control. Great stamina/durability. Lacks ideal splits. Keeps the ball down.
  3. RHP Bum Robertson (NY2)
    Solid pitcher. Throws hard and has outstanding durability. Does a decent job keeping the ball down in the zone. Good pitch combinations.
  4. SS Al Cairo (LA)
    Great range and glove, but lacks ideal arm strength. Solid power and contact ability. Drives the ball well. Good eye. Good speed. Could be a CF or SS with no problems.
  5. RHP Paul Taubensee (LAA)
    Great stamina and durability. Decent splits. Throws hard. Great pitch combinations. Good control.
  6. RHP Allen Niemann (CH1)
    Great durability/stamina for a RP. Good control. Dominates RHB. Keeps the ball down. Good pitches.
  7. RF Santiago Vincente (MIN)
    Tremendous range. Solid arm. Drives the ball extremely well. Average at making contact. Solid power, great eye. decent baserunner.
  8. RHP Esteban Jacquez (CH1)
    Tremendous control. Lacks dominant combination of pitches. Doesn't throw hard or keep the ball down. Good stamina/durability. 
  9. RHP Bing Bennett (CH2)
    Tremendous splits. Keeps the ball down and throws hard. Average control. Decent pitch combination. Great durability/stamina.
    byers61: With the 9th pick, the White Sox drafted Bing Bennett, a hard-throwing starting pitcher who features a fastball and forkball. Bennett has good splits and velocity and keeps the ball in the park. At full development, he should be just wild enough to keep hitters off balance. Until then, watch out!
  10. RHP Kelvin Hardy (WAS)
    Great control. Doesn't throw hard or keep the ball down. Great pitch combination.Solid splits. Great stamina/durability.
    chase39 says: Kelvin Hardy was the tenth pick. The only good thing i can say is i wasn't in the charge of the team when he was drafted. He will be an injury proned pitcher who won't hit his projections. Overall a terrible draft for Washington.
  11. LHP George Randall (STL)
    Great control. Struggles against RHB. Great pitch combination. Throws relatively hard and keeps the ball down.
    allright says: George Randall , the Stanford graduate, is expected to get up quickly, to the Majors, that is. He has Major League quality pitches, already. He needs to work on improving his splits and increasing his stamina, on the mound, that is. He has an IQ of 160 and wrote his Masters Thesis (Physics) on " How would Heidegger determine what it was to "be" if Quantum Physics concluded that the curve ball is an illusion". He projects to be a middle of the pack rotation guy. The Cardinals remain ahead of the curve picking a second rounder in the first.
  12. LF Bill Crowe (MIL)
    Decent range. Great glove. Average contact/power. Great eye. Sees the ball well against RHP.
  13. RF Darrel Brower (ATL)
    Solid defensive RF. Does well against RHP. Average offensively.
  14. LHP Prestin Parkinson (TEX)
    Struggles to keep the ball out of the hitting zone. Good ground ball pitcher. Decent pitches. Solid control. Great durability.
  15. C Loiue Benes (PIT)
    Tremendous offensive player. Great power, contact. Drives the ball well. Knows the strike zone. Great arm. Lacks pitch calling ability.
    ajwalton says: Pirates couldn't pass up Louie Benes' bat despite the fact that he projects as a pure DH, and we are in the NL. If he hits his projections, which is a big if, he could rival the all time greats.
  16. RHP Lazy Lillibridge (CIN)
    Tremendous control. Solid stamina/durability. Doesn't throw hard and doesn't keep the ball down all that well. Solid pitches.
    hurricane384 says: This pick is just a pick. He should contribute at the big league level, but definitely won't dominate. 
  17. RHP Bernie Lopez (BOS)
    Tremenouds splits. Dominant pitches. Keeps the ball down. Great control.
  18. 2B Jordy Ward (CLE)
    Solid glove. Lacks a great arm, but it is accurate. Makes a lot of contact. Struggles against RHP. Decent eye. Great baserunner with great speed.
    abesmem says: With the 18th overall pick Cleveland was “fortunate” to grab Jordy Ward, who should be a mediocre platoon player for a very long time. Without a good enough glove to stick at 2B, Jordy is destined to be a corner outfielder. He decided lack of power will force the Cleveland organization lean heavily on his major asset – speed. Since we all know the singular base that cannot be stolen, Jordy’s rather less than average splits should find him solidifying a position as a sometimes OF against lefties and speed off the bench. His solid attitude, durability and fine health should help him keep a bench spot warm for a very lengthy and unremarkable career.
  19. 2B Julio Cortazar (BAL)
    Tremendous range. Good power and eye. Solid speed. Solid offensively.
    hopkinsheel says: Cortazer is a solid enough 2B prospect, but doesn't truly excel at anything. We were hoping for someone to slip between the cracks, but that wasn't in the cards this season.
  20. LF David Huang (NY1)
    Great range. Solid power. Strikes out a lot. Drives the ball well against RHP. Decent eye. 
  21. X-RHP Todd Seelbach (KC)
  22. X-SS Butch Murry (TB)
  23. RHP Daniel Cuddyer (SEA)
    Solid pitcher with great pitches. Solid durability/stamina. Good splits and control. Throws hard. Keeps ball down.
  24. SS Wilt Herrera (DET)
    Tremendous defensive player. Makes solid contact. Struggles against RHP. Decent eye. Decent power.
  25. X-3B Hal Parker (ARI)
  26. 2B Gerald Bailey (COL)
    Doesn't drive the ball very well. Decent range and glove. Good speed. Decent contact. Decent eye.
  27. RHP Pepe Candelaria (ARI)
    Dominant splits. Throws hard and keeps the ball down. Good pitch. Great control.
  28. RF Melvin Browne (OAK)
    Great power, good against RHP. Decent eye. Good arm. Will strike out and struggle against LHP.
    train says: Given the limited options available, I think I did ok. Browne was probably a reach at 28 but he has one clear skill (will crush righties for power) so I figured why not.  
  29. RHP Sammy Lemon (CIN)
    Great pitches. Great control. Decent stamina/durability. Doesn't throw hard. Not great splits.
    hurricane384 says: This is another pick that's just a pick. He'll be lucky to be a SuB int he future. Most likely just minor league filler until he retires and goes into coaching in 6 years.
  30. RHP Yamil Nieves (PHI)
    Great stamina. Average pitching talent across the board. Does have a dominant pitch to go with several average pitches.
    mitt0108: Nothing too exciting at no.30 this season, but hopefully Nieves can develop into a long relief arm at the major league level.
  31. RF Neil Buck (NO)
    Tremendous range. Lacks ideal arm. Drives the ball. Lacks power and will strike out a lot. Very fast.
    mongoose22 says: The Jazz were satisfied landing OF Neil Buck so late in the draft. He should develop into a solid fielder, with plus range, who can play either RF or LF at an above average ML level. At the dish, he should have average on-base skills, aided by the fact he is a switch hitter, though with very little power. He is very, very fast helping to offset his lack of pop with an extra dimension on the bases.
  32. X-LHP Al Tatis (SF)
  33. 2B Ignacio Olivares (OAK)
    Tremendous range. Decent splits. Average contact and power. Great eye. Decent speed.
    train says: Olivares at 33 has a ceiling of a utility guy, which is about as good as you're going to get given this draft quality. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

S15 Preview

Atlanta Braves
The Braves are hopeful that their young pitching talent has matured to the point that they can begin their climb out of several years of mediocrity. Entering his 3rd year in the majors at only 23, Geoffrey Ellis' stuff is among the very best in the game. Yieco Castro and Pedro Aguilar are both coming off solid rookie campaigns, and it appears that Kenny Hague has positioned himself to make the big league roster with a solid spring. Veterans Fausto Martin, Vincenzo Parker and Santiago Owen are competing for a spot in the rotation as well, though a couple of them will end up coming out of the pen. Patrick Smith has established himself as a solid set up man, and Wilt Rosen is emerging as one of the premier closers in the game. Lefty Irv Monahan, snagged in the Rule 5 Draft, is still developing but will play a role out of the pen as well. Unfortunately, Braves management has evidently failed to realize that in order to capitalize on this promising pitching talent, they'll have to score some runs as well. That will be a tall order. Veteran mainstay 1B Al Reynoso has been put out to pasture after yielding his starting spot to Nash Jensen last season, and his 401 career home runs are nothing more than a fleeting memory. Jensen appears poised to pick up the slack in the middle of the lineup, but veteran OF Alex Cheng is now in the twilight of his career and no longer capable of putting up the numbers he has in the past. Defensively, the Braves are solid up the middle, starting with Gold Glove catcher Ricardo Jose, who platoons with another defensive stalwart, Melky Morales. Ezdra Aviles is as good as any SS in the game defensively, and Mac Clarke will be making his debut at 2B, providing a defensive upgrade over Joe Watson, though his bat will be the least of worries for opposing pitchers. Coming into spring training, it was thought that switch-hitting CF Daniel Parrish would begin the season at AAA, but he has made the case that he is a better option than veteran speedster, good fielding, seldom hitting Virgil Montero. The lack of offensive firepower will likely relegate the Braves to a battle for 2nd place for another season, but if the pitching continues to develop and some of the new faces come through at the plate, they could surprise.

Baltimore Orioles
Last season was an unmitigated disaster. We had plans to win the division and for whats its worth, we still had that chance at the end of the season, but regardless, we severely underachieved and were monumentally unlucky playing significantly above our record while going 14-29 in one run games.

We felt like there would be a natural return to the mean after such an unlucky season, but still decided to make some changes.

We sent out Shayne Weaver in a deal for Arnold MIller who is a one season rental to shore up RF. Losing Weaver wasn't the plan, but we have a solid number pitchers similar to him and RF was a gaping hole for us last season. We also sent out Bill Miles who got too expensive for our tastes.

Our big blockbuster of the season was shipping out Elroy Brown and Stump Ball. Brown hurt to move, but our big Intl FA signing last season is ready and he is a better defensive catcher while still having a good bat so we want to give him a shot and by moving those guys, we were able to bring back in Chance Malloy who will be a really solid SP in the middle of our rotation and is still pretty young and should be here a long time.

A few rookies will also make their debut this season...

C - Fausto Cerveza - Will slot in as our starting Catcher to take over for the departed Elroy Brown, big shoes to fill.

SP/LR - Former first round pick Wilin Guerrero will be brought up and eventually will have a place in the rotation. he suffered a bad injury in only his second season, but has rebounded nicely.

RP - Alex Chavez - Really nice RP prospect especially for only costing us $2 mil as a bonus

Our goal is to take back the AL East!

Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox had a huge whiff this offseason. They were all in on stud pitcher David Lester and lost out in the final hours on him, which left their GM scrambling to pick up what was left of free agency at that point....which was basically scraps. So they were forced to pull off some trades, which I think helped the team out. First off they acquired CFer Brendan Buford to replace Gerardo Ortiz in CF. They also traded for Rod Maurer and signed Ken Smith to add to the rotation. Rookie of the year, Chris Parker, will lead the rotation. The offense should be fine, the bullpen is very good, so it really all comes down to the rotation. The Red Sox had 79 wins last year and with the offseason whiff I expect them to finish in the same 78-83 win range which unfortunately means another year of missing the playoffs...

Chicago Cubs
Unfortunately the Cubs will be the same Cubs this season as not many changes were made. We grabbed Sam Moustakas in the rule 5 draft after getting outbid in free agency for a first baseman and he’s ended up hitting .389 in spring training so far. Eswalin Wilfredo will be called up from AAA to take over second base and Tanyon Bere may get called up as well. We shuffled a few players around defensively, moving Ariel Mateo to LF and Hipolito Quintero to RF to get us stronger. We also traded for Mo Brunette to help shore up the shortstop position. Rick Saunders was signed this off-season to help in the long relief and Adam Bowen for the starting rotation. We shopped some pitchers around this off-season but just couldn’t work out a deal but we’re expecting big things from Bryan Cook as the #1 SP this season and Reginald Walker as our #2. The big excitement this season wasn't the additions but that we have the #6 and #8 pick in the draft to help for the future with the likes of Lorenzo Padilla, Heinie Singleton and David Mijares still developing in the minors. We expect to be in the international market as well this season and hopefully more active in the trade market near the deadline.

Cincinnati Reds
Last season was disappointing for the Reds, as we finished 79-83, 11 games out of first. The bullpen was a disaster and the offense was not as good as we had hoped.

This season sees the Reds with an entirely new bullpen, headlined by elite relievers Tomas Fernandez, Sam Hall, Kirk Rolls, and Willie Pulido. Rookie Enny Pineda will provide some length for what is, admittedly a very short bullpen. The rotation has a new look as Willie Parrott and Yorvit Padilla join the team and Akinori Zhang returns from the bullpen to assist holdovers Julian Porter and Al Flores in making this rotation solid.

The lineup is looking like one of the better ones put together in my time in Cincinnati. We’re looking at 6 guys who are no doubt to hit 20 HRs and 2 more who have a shot. We only return 4 starters from last season. Last year’s RF Larry Browning moves into 1B to make room for new RF and leadoff hitter Max Rios. 2B Omar Cordero looks to fill the shoes left by Benj Fox’s FA departure. LF Raymond Harris returns to the scene of some of his greatest seasons to try to help this team take the next step. 3B Edwin Mitchell comes back as well to play 3B. SS Miguel Ramirez, CF Travis Evans, and C Burt Washington round out a really good lineup. The bench play should be spectacular as Alex Hart, Junior Ishida, Kirk Thompson, Nicholas Hughes, Bill Miles and Cy Oliver provide a combination of pop and versatility.

Cleveland Indians
The Indians have redesigned their approach this year and have focused a bit more on run producing hitters while sacrificing some starting pitching. Faced with the career threatening injury to young catcher Al Norton, the tribe went out and acquired through trade, 2 hitting catchers in Elroy Brown and Brutus Anderson (who can also DH). Corner positions were also bolstered by the acquisition of third sacker Quinton Valdes which allows Vinny Day to move over to 1st base where he will share time with another trade acquisition, Calvin Knight. These additions at these 3 key spots will hopefully provide the punch that was absent last season. Middle infield and the outfield remain largely intact and the hope is that 2B Pascual and CF Howard continue to impress and that SS Easley can somehow remain healthy. The pitching staff remains strong anchored by Serrano, Springer and Drabek. The addition of Stump Ball thru trade, should provide some needed depth. Cleveland should be competitive in this always tough division.

Minnesota Twins
After a five year absence, the "old but new" (or new but old, depending on how you look at) management returns to the fold with hopes of getting the Minnesota franchise back on track.

An unproductive off-season had the new management scrambling to fill out the rosters through out the system. The Twins lost five players in the Rule 5 but grabbed three themselves in return. One of those picks, Matt Hartman, will begin the season as the starting 3B.

Adam Parnell and Victor Nance return as they will enter the season as the "1-2 punch" in the starting rotation while Jim Berg will once again anchor the bullpen as the closer.

As for the offense, T.J Payne will have to be the leader for a team that finished 18th in the majors in runs scored. Darby Kaufman will make his big league debut as the Opening Day left fielder while occupying the leadoff spot.

Management is banking on the youngsters to step up and provide a competitive spark on the field. Although some growing pains will be expected, winning 70 games is not out of reach. Doing so would allow the team to consider the season a success and a turning point for future seasons.

New Orleans Jazz
No major moves were made on last season's team. Deivi Lee will have to move to 1B to make room for Jermaine Gorecki at DH. Philip Jackson will be in his 1st full season with the Jazz. The pitching staff will still revolve around Hideki Ni and Felipe Sanchez at the top, with 2nd year man Maikel Castillo, veteran Kiki Aguilar and rookie Bejamin Speier rounding out the rotation. My expectations are for this team to compete for the AL Pennant. We should have an excellent pitching rotation and very good defense supported by an above average offensive team with a bit of speed and power.

New York Yankees
Fresh off a division title the Yankees look to make another run at the playoffs. Gone this season are long time Yankees RF Javier Mercado and DH Jermaine Gorecki. Mendy Delehanty will come up from AA to take the DH spot after a scintillating Spring Training performance. The pitching will continue to rely on workhorse starters Ivan Wise and Dicky Jensen. Terrance Hartman has taken off as the teams closer. If WIlliam Aoki, Randy Washington and Allen Withers produce in the middle of the lineup, the team is poised to make another October run.

Oakland Athletics
This season marks our first foray into rebuilding in Oakland history (season 1 was a bit of a struggle, but its been 13 straight winning years, 12 straight playoff appearances since). That core has aged to the point where we can no longer reload and it is time for an actual rebuild.

Guys like Everett and Rhodes, the heart of our strong years, are still around playing out the twilight of their careers. I fielded a few offers for them but weighed those against the alternative of them retiring playing entire ML careers in Oakland and decided for the latter.

Ramirez (CF) and Christenson (3B) combined for 78 homers last season and they will fill the middle of the order. Both are due for serious regression; especially Ramirez. The offense should be decent even if those guys regress; Everett can still be counted on for a .400 OBP at the top of the lineup and there are some other competent parts throughout.

The pitching should be somewhere between mediocre and awful. The rotation is the mediocre part, the bullpen should handle the awful. I opted against re-signing a few of my mid-30s RPs and waited too long in FA to land solid replacements so there are a few guys in there who could struggle. Fortunately, the always-friendly home stadium should help a bit and RP performance is so unpredictable that we'll see what happens before making any crazy moves.

Philadelphia Phillies
A pretty boring offseason for Philly fans. A very similar squad will be returning in hopes of keeping the division crown for the 6th season in a row. Veteran SP Fritz Gray was added to solidify the rotation and a few minor moves were made to bench and bullpen roles. Hoping to have a strong season in what could be perennial all-star Phil Gao's final season in Philly.

San Diego Padres
This season's San Diego Padres will look very similar to last season's squad as most key contributors return. New faces on offense include Benj Fox and callup Jim Griffey. The pitching staff is expecting a full season out of Rubby Benitez and continued growth from other young pitchers in support of a strong starting staff - Lowery, Ramirez, Wall & Fisher. Depth may be a problem for the Pads' this season as ownership is once again backed up against the salary cap and there is not much in the high minors. Ownership may need to be very creative once again if another trip to the World Series will occur

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

S14 Draft Review

1. RHP Billy Nielsen (NY2)
I don’t typically like using the #1 overall pick on a reliever, but if you’re going to break that rule, this isn’t a bad guy to break it on. He dominates at keeping the ball out of the hitting zone, throws hard, has a dominant pitch and a good one, and won’t hurt himself with walks.
2. RF Austin Finnessey (STL)
A quality pick, Finnessey has power and contact, drives the ball well. He has a solid eye. Good speed. Solid defense.
allright says: Austin Finnessey projects as a sure-fire middle of the order major leaguer. He will hit for power and he has the strength to pull with consistency. He won't walk as much as preferred and he will strike out a lot; but, with his contact/power combination, we want him to swing the bat.
3. 2B Thomas Gattis (LA)
Won’t strike out. Will hit for a ton of power. Dominates LHP, struggles against RHP. Great eye. Tremendous range, not real sure what’ll happen once he gets to it though. Great speed.
4. RHP Cap Jay (TEX)
Throws hard. Has a solid pitch combination. Decent control. Keeps the ball out of the hitting zone.
5. P Tony Koehlert (CH1) – UNSIGNED
tk21775 says: Selected Tony Koehlert who has not signed and Cubs management will probably not meet his new demands. After drafting Mr. Koehlert and getting a better feel for his pitching ability, the Chicago Cubs think they might be able to do better next season after Tony has decided that his initial demands weren't quite good enough.
6. SS Gerald Bogusevic (MIN)
Lacks ideal arm accuracy, but does have solid range and glove. Makes good contact on a consistent basis with a little pop. Does not have a great eye. Very fast.
7. C Al Unamuno (ATL)
Should develop into a solid defensive catcher who can really rake. Good contact and power with a good eye.
kilgore says: The Braves were pleased that catcher Al Unamuno was still on the board when their turn came to pick. His performance at the High A level has turned some heads, and even though he's probably ready for a promotion the Braves will be patient with his development, as they don't anticipate a need at the ML level for another couple of seasons.
8. RHP Scott Ellis (TOR)
Solid control. Dominates RHB, but is average against LHB. Keeps the ball down. Throws hard. 3 Tremendous pitches.
mburgy says: The Blue Jays were elated with the quality and depth of this draft. In all, they believe that they drafted 5 potential ML talent level players. They were even happier that Scott Ellis dropped to them at 8, after ranking him 3rd on their draft board. Should be a solid #2 or 3 rotation pitcher that throws hard and throws strikes. Possesses the ability to have an unhittable slider that will tail away from righties and saw off lefties.
9. SS Guy Voigt (SEA)
The question here is whether his offense is good enough to overcome his lackluster glove at SS. He could very well be a silver slugger SS. Has the ability to be a GG/SS 2B/3B if SS doesn’t work out.
10. C Toby Bolling (FLA)
Very good arm with a decent grasp of the game. Decent power and contact. Dominates LHP. Solid against RHP. Great eye.
mamidu says: Marlins catcher of the future. Projects to be an above avg ML catcher who can hit lefties very well. Should be a solid player.
11. RHP L.J. Irwin (CLE)
Dominant splits. Throws hard and keeps the ball down in the zone. Won’t hurt himself with walks.
abesmem says: With the 11th pick overall, the Indians were very happy to nab L.J. Irwin. While we don’t typically prefer to draft a relief pitcher with a first round pick, Irwin has the stuff to be a dominant closer. He’s a prototypical shut down pitcher that brings a hard sinker/slider that will simply dominate righties and be very tough on left handed batters as well. L.J is already in AA and should be closing games in the majors before too long.
12. RHP Jack Maas (PIT)
Throws hard. Interesting mix of pitches. Good stamina/durability combination. Decent control. Solid splits.
13. LHP Pat Crowe (CH2)
Should have pinpoint control to go along with a great fastball and a good combination of pitches. Splits won’t hold him back at all.
byers61 says: With the 13th pick, the White Sox drafted P Pat Crowe. At first glance, he warrants the pick. Good control and splits, 3 good pitches. A closer look shows the team didn't pay close enough attention. His health makes him a walking time bomb, and his stamina may make it tough for him to start right away to develop to his potential.
14. 2B Clarence Robinson (LAA) – UNSIGNED
15. LHP Tom Little (BOS)
Good control and splits. Throws hard and keeps the ball down. Great pitch combination.
crabman26 says: With the 15th pick in the draft, the Boston Red Sox selected RP Tom Little. Tom is a LHP which will probably ultimately keep him from being a dominant relief pitcher, but he still should be a top 10 RP in the league if he hits his projections. He projects to mid 80's for splits and should rack up the K's with great velocity and a great 1st pitch. The Red Sox are very excited to have a great RP that fell to them in the middle of the first round.
16. RHP Orval Keefe (MON)
Keeps the ball down in the zone. Doesn’t walk many. Better against RHB than LHB. Great pitch combo for a starter.
17. LF Lou Byrnes (MIL)
Good range and glove. Good power and contact. Average splits. Good eye.
s_gammon says: My scouts told me he had the best pure hit tool amongst the college prospects. He’ll hit for average, with power, draw some walks and steal some bases while providing legitimate solid defense in a corner outfield position. Very pleased with this pick
18. LHP Dewey Golub (WAS)
Splits are underwhelming. He’s better against LHB. Great control and stamina. Throws hard and keeps the ball down in the zone. Solid pitches.
19. RHP Jimmie Smith (NY1)
Decent splits. Decent control. Keeps the ball down in the zone. Does not throw hard. Solid pitches.
20. RF Steve Carlyle (CIN)
Will never win a gold glove. Shouldn’t strike out too much while hitting for some power. Should dominate LHP. Good eye. Strong, accurate arm for RF.
21. RHP Hulk Daily (KC) – UNSIGNED
22. LF Troy Lamb (TB) 
Will strike out a ton. Has power. Struggles against RHP. Decent eye. Not a good defender.
23. RHP Tanner Allen (SD)
Good splits. Average pitches. Average control. Doesn’t throw hard but can induce GBs.
24. CF Rymer Pescado (MIN)
Will be a tremendous defensive CF. Average speed. Average offensive player. Good eye though.
25. RHP Shawn Long (WAS)
Throws hard and has a stable of good pitches. Dominant against RHB. Average against LHB. Will walk some guys.
26. 1B Vic Johnson (OAK)
Tremendous power and eye. Will dominate RHP. Slightly above average against LHP. Does not have elite contact ability, but with that power…watch out!
27. RHP Fred Recchio (SF)
A tweener, Recchio has solid stamina/durability and will be a horse out of the bullpen. Great control. Great splits. Throws decently hard. Will give up some taters. Decent pitch combination.
28. 3B Wilt Price (TB)
Lacks the glove to play 3B long-term, he should be a good defensive OF. Decent contact and power. Better against LHP than RHP. Great eye and speed.
29. RF Torey Blanks (BAL)
Does not have the greatest splits, but has power and a great eye. Will strike out a lot. Should play solid defense.
hopkinsheel says: One of the weakest drafts I've seen, but was able to come away with an interesting prospect here who has a good combo of power and eye. His splits are decidedly average so not sure how much of an impact he will have.
30. SS Cooper Davis (KC) – UNSIGNED
31. LHP Alejandro Cayones (SD)
Average control. Good splits. Throws hard. Average pitches. Keeps the ball down. Good durability.
32. SS Tony Tavarez (BAL)
Great range with a very strong arm should offset the relatively weak glove. Good splits with an average eye will help to offset the poor contact and power ability.
hopkinsheel says: If his defensive ratings can get to where they project, he'll be a really solid selection because he has a decent bat for a good defensive SS. If not, then he'll be a utility guy.
33. RHP Carlton Ramirez (MIL)
Lacks control. Decent splits. Doesn’t throw hard. Average at inducing GBs. Good pitch combination.
s_gammon says: Identified as the best college pitcher amongst a weak crop of college starting pitchers. He looks to be very effective against same sided hitters and strong against opposite sided. A great five pitch repertoire and amazing stamina and durability. However, he will struggle with control, has a higher fly ball tendency than I’d prefer in Milwaukee and, he isn’t going to offset those warts with strike outs. Another, quality mid to back of rotation starter.
34. LHP Floyd Maduro (HOU)
Average control. Average splits. Throws hard. Average at keeping the ball down. Intriguing pitch count.
35. RHP D’Angelo Calderon (TOR)
Great control. Doesn’t throw hard. Average splits. Keeps ball down. Solid pitches. Good stamina.
36. CF Eddie Greenwood (NO)
Great range with a good glove. Great speed. Tremendous splits and won’t strike out much. Won’t work the count well either. Lacks any power.
mongoose_22 says: New Orleans was happy to land rangy CF Eddie Greenwood. Our scouts project him to develop into a solid ML level starter. He should be above average defensively in CF with excellent range and a solid glove. He'll be one of the fastest players in the league, with pretty good instincts on the bases as well. With the stick, he'll have almost no power, and won't draw many walks. But he is a switch hitter, with exceptional contact, what should get a lot of infield singles. Scouts also noticed that he really seems to hit RHP significantly better than LHP. Very happy with this choice so late in the draft.

Monday, April 21, 2014

S14 Previews

Anaheim Angels
Angels are hoping that a year if added maturity will help them become a playoff team. Key newcomers are Howard Coghlan and Vic Simas. Alex Alomar leads the same rotation as last year's. IF is Mays, Astacio, Dong and Candelaria. OF is Coghlan, Benett and Little. Houston starts behind the dish and Alex Guerrero is the DH. Stults, Blanco and Tony Guerrero are all key contributors against lefties. The bullpen is also the same except Simas replaces Phillips in the closer role. Injuries killed the offense last year. If Coghlan can effectively replace Theo Matthews, then the Angels could be in for a good year. Lots of great talent in the pipeline, especially Dummy Wagner and Augie Suh.

Baltimore Orioles
Our goal is to repeat as AL East champs and go for a playoff bye. We retooled the roster slightly from last season. A huge loss for us was RP standout Elmer Kozlowski who we always believed was opening to signing another extension and then demanded free agency at the last second. We also shipped out Pauley Hogan (bullpen arm) and Calvin Knight (solid hitter). We imported Vicente Rincon to take over Elmer's role in the bullpen and brought in Edwin Mitchell who we have tried to trade for several times throughout his career.

Another big change for this season will be implementing some strategic platoon lineups where we can. Ed Gold needs to see the field against lefties and Evan King has had a lot of success against righties so there will be a lot of mix and matching this season.

We have three rookies we're excited about, 1B/DH Felipe Maduro who we think will have a killer OPS. Former first rounder Shayne Weaver will make his debut on the ML pitching staff. Alex Chavez also might see some time in the bullpen.

Boston Red Sox
Unlike last off season where Boston made an incredible amount of trades/ moves, this offseason was relatively quiet. Boston turned in a really good second half performance last year and almost snuck in to the playoffs, but a horrible last 8 games where they lost all of them killed the playoff run as well as a .500 finish. This year will hopefully be different. Cal Rogers is back, Chris Parker will be getting his long awaited call up. Boston is also hoping a full season of Texeira and Murphy at 1b/DH will keep this offense rolling. The bullpen is still one of the best in the league anchored by White and Misch, so it’s really going to come down to the starting pitching. If they can give Boston league average production they should vie for a Wild Card spot. If the pitching tanks I can see a 75-82 win season.

Cincinnati Reds
After an 82-80 finish that saw the Reds miss the playoffs for the 3rd straight season, wholesale changes were in order (who are we kidding, wholesale changes are always in order). A late trade saw the Reds ship out top prospect Todd Rusch, SP prospect Rock Nickle, and recently acquired SS Sherm Creek for SP2 Fritz Gray, 2B Benj Fox, and SS Miguel Ramirez. Running out a starting lineup of 1B Alex Hart (.295/.394/.522), LF Brendan Buford (.299/.355/.422; 51 SB), CF Travis Evans (.299/.386/.527; 3th straight 25HR+/40+SB season), 2B Benj Fox (.231/.311/.361; career avg (.274/.347/.472)), RF Larry Browning (.294/.369/.504), C Burt Washington (.293/.400/.487), 3B Quinton Valdes (.261/.353/.365), and SS Miguel Ramirez (career - .234/.304/.375; .982 SS Fldg % w/30 plus plays). This starting lineup should really give some pitchers nightmares. The bench boasts some power with Calvin Knight (39 HR), David Davis (19 HR), and Jerome Norton (20 HR) while having some speed Collin Meyers (69/75 SB in AAA). Pitching-wise sees 3 new starters and 2 returning, Julian Porter looks to rebound from a career worst year in S13. Fritz Gray holds down the 2nd spot in the rotation and is coming off of a solid season. Rex Howard is the 3rd starter, even though he is in decline he looks to produce a S12 instead of a S13. Al Flores has the talent to be a top of the rotation starter for some teams, but produces a solid #4, and Dale Tresh returns to be the 5th starter coming off of a seriously solid season. The bullpen is strong as it boasts several guys who have the talent to be starters but don’t quite meet the talent of the other guys in the rotation. The exciting part of this season is defense…2 weak spots exist as opposed to the usual 4 that we trot out. This season looks to bring the excitement back to the Queen City.

Cleveland Indians
Well, as I write this the Indians have just lost their season opener to the Orioles in what should prove to be a regular occurrence this season. While The Indians do not think we can challenge for the division we do hope to improve off of a rather dismal 72 win season last year. To accomplish this improvement, the Indians will employ the 1969 NY Mets strategy of platooning almost everywhere while throwing some solid stating pitching on the hill every day and hoping for some surprises out of the bullpen and some timely hitting from emerging stars. The starting rotation was rounded out with the free agent signing of veteran Stan Foster. Last year’s weak bullpen was strengthened by the FA signings of J.D brock and Ruben Villalona as well as the trade for setup man Hector Ozuna. The starting 8 will be subject to a great deal of lefty/righty platooning and hopefully there will be more pleasant surprises than nightmares. The early season should see the call-ups of 2 potential key players in Kevin Stoops and Juan Pascual. Both should be solid major leaguers. With some luck, Cleveland could contend for a wild card.

Detroit Tigers
The song remains the same in Detroit: another Series, another loss and another year older. It has come down now to having enough fingers to fill the increasing number of holes in the ****. Out is Julio Guillen who just became too much of a liability in RF, but the bat will be sorely missed. Also leaving will be C Eduardo Ayala SS Stretch Thompson RP Elvis Janssen and RP Andrew Alexander. Newly signed FAs Carlos Ordaz will play LF, John Jung will compete at 3B and Fonzie Upshaw will share time at SS. Juan Aguilera will move back to RF. The pitchers will be replaced by AAA callups or maybe a future bargain pile FA signing. The new Motto in Motown is one more time and we will surely get lucky.

New Orleans Jazz
After a disappointing playoff exit last season, the front office in New Orleans decided to shake things up a bit. Former All Star/Gold Glover Donzell Holmes was traded to Chicago for a young, promising catcher in Phillip DiMaggio. We were very excited to land speedy, veteran Gold Glover Jerome Lanier at a very reasonable price to replace Holmes at 2B. In a cost cutting move, Jesus Bonilla was traded to Philadelphia for reliever prospect Elis Venable. Derrick Coco, after back-to-back All Star seasons in CF at AAA, will get his chance to man that spot at the ML level. His stick is a bit of a question mark, but he should be one of the top defenders at his position. The rest of the incumbent positional starters from last season, will return for this season. On the bench, former 5x All Star and World Series champion Jeremy Shumaker was signed as a super-sub/pinch hitter extraordinaire/insurance policy. While he is 35, and not in his prime, he can play the COF and 1B to give the regulars a rest and fill in very capably in the event of an injury. He is still a very dangerous hitter. The Jazz are especially excited about the pitching rotation, which should be one of the deepest in the AL. All Star potential at the top with Hideki Ni and Felipe Sanchez should be able to match up with any other squad's aces. Rookie Maikel Castillo will get the call up this season. The front office was very happy that the saavy veteran Larry Leach decided to return on a reasonable to year offer to give the bottom of the rotation stability. The bullpen, other than Ned Gold, is a big question mark. It was this area that let the team down during the playoffs last season, and its here that the team is likely to make a move during the season if a move it to be made. All and all though, I'm very happy with the offseason. The team managed to lower payroll, and improve the team which is hard to do. I expect this team to challenge for the division, make the playoffs and, hopefully, win another AL Pennant.

Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies are coming off a 110 win season but a disappointing exit in the playoffs. Almost the exact same team will be returning with hopes of a deeper playoff run. 1B Alex Hart decided to leave via free agency, but Rich Coco should be able to fill the void. Former number 2 overall pick 2B Paco Lee will be making his debut this season and should add some offensive production.

Key Losses: 1B Alex Hart, 2B John Jung
Key Additions: 1B/RF Rich Coco, 2B Paco Lee (prospect), RP Willie Pulido

Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates look like a .500 team at best, as they don't have enough offense surrounding sluggers Nick Helms and Willie Mota. The rotation looks good at the top, but a lack of plus back end starters will likely lead to another disappointing season. The Pirates are the classic example of a team on the rebuild fence, and management's lack of commitment either way has probably set the organization back several seasons.

San Diego Padres
San Diego ownership did the heavy lifting last season and feel that the Padres are ready to contend for a deeper playoff run this season. The team features a stellar starting rotation anchored by Phil Lowery and Hipolito Ramirez. Seth Wall, Gabe Fisher and Rubby Benitez are solid starters and the bullpen returns pretty much intact featuring Mack Lankford, Al Campos, Hipolito Tatis and Yusmeiro Sosa. The core offense of Neftali Barrios, Gerrit Gipson, and Wes Sheehan will be joined by full seasons from Donnie McInerney and Trumbo O’Toole. Carlos Rivera returns from an injury plagued Season 13 and will be joined by FA acquisitions Benjamin Nunnally, Curtis Shelley and Paul Walker in an effort to restore some punch to the offense. There’s not much left in the minor leagues after the in-season pickups last year, but there are some solid prospects at HA that could help out on the ML level if needed. All-in-all, the Padres are looking forward to the challenge of unseating the defending champion Giants from atop the division.

St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals, hapless wonders of the National League, lost in the standings dungeons for too many years, are looking to rise from the ashes. Alas, ahem, and huh uh, it won't happen this year. The bad news is that new ownership inherited a bare cupboard. The good news is that prior ownership did not hamstringing with the budget. So, though the upcoming season does not project to any improvement, budget flexibility bodes well for making some in- season moves that might lead to long term improvement.

Washington Nationals
Last season the Nationals finally ended up with a winning season, albeit not by much. Another off-season of more or less lateral moves, leaves you to believe you can expect right around the same.

Offensively, the team remains largely intact. Which may end up being their downfall if they have playoff aspirations. Domingo Velez and Pepe Nieto had sub-par years last season, and if they can increase their productivity even slightly, that may bode well. Jonathan Nix struggled mightily in his first season in Washington, and if spring training is any indication of what is to come, it will be a struggle again this season.

The rotation will have a slightly different look this year, as Ed Bragg will get his first shot in the bigs. Bernard Hollins tested free agency without success, and came back for less money. He will be relegated to a long relief role. If Bragg ends up being as good as some believe, this rotation could be good enough to get them to the playoffs.

In the pen' after a ragtag bunch of guys held things together for Cookie Alfonzo to close things out, there seems to be improvement. Most notably Justin Mientkiewicz. If he can be a consistent set up man for Alfonzo, this bullpen will be tough on opposing hitters.

Probably looking at a .500 team here once again. They have not been able to make a big splash in free agency and any real impactful prospects other than Bragg are at least a season away.