Monday, November 19, 2012

S8 Draft Review

1.     LHP Victor Nance (MIN)   
With top-notch control, good splits, and upper level splits, the only knock on him is that he’s a fly ball pitcher who is likely to give up some HRs. At least pitching in the Metrodome, he’s not going to have to worry about cheapies.
Iceman67 says: Making pitching a high priority, the Minnesota Twins chose high school fireballer Victor Nance with the number one overall pick. Nance will begin his career in rookie ball with the potential to move up to Low A before season's end. With an exceptional make-up rating, the lanky lefthander has the potential and ability to crack the big league starting rotation within a few seasons.
hurricane384’s take: A no-brainer pick here, Nance has the ability to be a top of the rotation ace for years.

2.     LHP Jim Wagner (NO)    
Wagner has great control with good splits. He’s got solid stamina. He’s a pure groundball pitcher who has 2 good pitches to help him out. The knock on him is that he’s unlikely to come up with that strikeout when you need it.
mongoose_22 says:  While Jim Wagner looks like he'll develop into a solid middle of the rotation type pitcher, he certainly isn't the kind of player you want to draft #2. This is why I fervently hope he'll decide to finish out his college career and we'll be able to more fully utilize next season's comp pick after we've been able to invest more heavily in scouting and hopefully take advantage of a deeper/better draft class.
hurricane384’s take: Most of the time you’re not looking to grab a #2 starter here, but that’s his ceiling.

3.     OF Sonny Ratliff (PHI)       
A COF with great speed, Ratliff isn’t going to strike out much and will hit for some power. He will dominate LHP while doing solidly against RHP. He’s got a great eye. I would expect to see a few 30HR/60SB seasons with a .330/.600/.930 slash line. His health is somewhat of a concern.
sowden says: The Phillies chose Sonny Ratliff with the 3rd overall pick in this years draft. After focusing on pitching in the draft and international market the past 2 seasons the Phillies picked Ratliff to begin to rebuild the offensive side of the minor league system. Ratliff projects to be a high contact hitter with decent power and a good I, good splits that should destroy left handed pitching.
hurricane384’s take: It’s great to grab a potential cornerstone offensive player no matter when he’s drafted.

4.     2B Trot Philips (WAS)      
Durability and speed would be Trot’s calling card. He doesn’t have great defense. He’s average at making contact with average power. He’ll struggle against RHP while doing well against LHP. He’s got a solid eye, so he’ll get on the basepaths.
displacednyr says:
hurricane384’s take: It’s tough to have the #4 pick and end up with a mediocre player who doesn’t excel at anything.

5.     RHP Heinie McGowan (NY2)
Tremendous set of pitches, he’s got great control as well. Solid split. Average velocity and GB. Decent durability/stamina combination and he’s very resilient and unlikely to get injured.
jgnjr says: 
hurricane384’s take: Solid starter but unlikely to be more than a #2 at best.

6.     RHP Reginald Walker (CLE)
Walker has great control and great splits. His pitch combination is one of the best ever to come out of the draft. Doesn’t blow people away and doesn’t get more than the average number of ground balls. Lacks ideal stamina/durability.
abesmem says: I was very happy with Reginald Walker being available at #6. While his endurance is a bit of an issue, he’s got 5 pitches (4 of which grade out above 70 or 80), excellent control and splits that should develop to be 79 vs lefties and 88 vs righties. Even better, at 22 years old with a full college career, he’s very close to being major league ready and will start out in AA.
hurricane384’s take: A ceiling of a #1 with innings limitations or a floor of a very good #3…that’s how I see this one.

7.     C Elroy Brown (CIN)
Brown will not strike out much while hitting for solid power. He’s got great splits and a good eye. He’s very durable. Classified as a catcher, he’s got a good arm but is only average at calling a game.
hurricane384 says: We were very pleased to get Elroy with our first pick. He was the best offensive player on our board and in these situations we don’t give a second thought to his position. We luck out that he’s able to play a position of value in addition to his offensive prowess.
hopkinsheel’s take: Really like this pick. Brown is a good hitting Catcher with decent defensive skills. It is not easy to find players like this so to be able to snatch him up in the middle of the first round is a nice coup.

8.     SS Jerome Morton (CLB)
Morton has good power. Great splits. Solid eye. Does not have the ideal SS defensive ability. Can run a little. Will strike out some.
anml34 says: With Jerome Morton I got the top guy on my board and a solid replacement for Anthony terry in a few more seasons. I was very happy to get this player at pick 8.
hurricane384's take: Could be a very good defensive 3B while hitting for good power.

9.     CF Jacque Stevenson (ARI)
Stevenson is a solid defensive CF. Great at making contact. Solid against LHP, but dominant against RHP. Will reach base plenty. Has decent speed. No power to speak of.
llcc says: Jacque Stevenson is my #1 pick he is 21 yrs old and has a projected rating of 78. He has no power but should hit for a high average.
hurricane384’s take: Lacking the ideal speed of a leadoff hitter, Stevenson will no doubt still fill that role for years to come while playing solid defense.

10.   2B Eugenio Astacio (LAA)
Projects as a below average defender anywhere in the infield. Great contact with solid power. Will dominate RHP but struggle against LHP. Lacks a great eye.
mskakunan says: Eugenia Astacio was number 3 on my draft board and I landed him with the 10th pick. He will hit righties well and be a 20 plus HR guy. He has great make-up. This was such a weak draft class, so I feel like I did OK in landing one of the very few potential all-stars out there.
hurricane384’s take: You’d like to see a better player here, but at least Astacio is a useful player.

11.   CF Alfredo Ramirez (TOR)
Ramirez has a great glove to go with great range. His speed is above average. He’s got great power, good contact, and an average split against RHP. He will struggle against LHP. He’s got a solid eye.
foxspor54 says:
hurricane384’s take: It’s great to get a guy like this at #11…you can plug him in as your CF of the future.

12.   2B Garland Mailman (FLA) 
Mailman lacks the ideal range or glove for 2B. He has strong power with good splits. Solid eye. Good contact. Decent speed.
mtorabdaddy says: Mailman turned down a less lucrative career delivering the mail for the USPS to become a Marlin. He projects to plus power and should provide offense in the coming years that the Marlins have sorely lacked.
hurricane384’s take: Your first thought on this pick is to not be impressed, but when you really look at him, it’s a good pick.

13.   P Apollo Bradley (HOU)
Bradley is not going to walk a lot of people with great control. He has good splits to go along with great velocity. He’s going to get a lot of groundballs as well as keep hitters guessing with 2 good pitches. Lacks ideal stamina/durability.
drichar138 says: The Astros selected left handed starting pitcher Apollo Bradley with the 13th pick overall. Bradley was 4th on our draft board, so we were pleasantly surprised he was still around for our pick. He has amazing control and is one of those pitchers that is good at a lot of things, but not great at any one. He is effective against hitters from both sides of the plate and has nice pitches. We are hoping he blooms into a nice #3 starting pitcher at the major league level.
hurricane384’s take: Although he’s unlikely to give you a lot of innings, the innings he’ll give are going to be great.

14.   LF Boots Vaughn (ATL)
Boots has solid power and contact. He has a good eye and is solid against LHP. He struggles against RHP. Is a solid COF defender.
kilgore says: The Braves were pleased that Boots Vaughn was available when their pick in the 14th slot came around. Though he played 2B in college, Vaughn's glove doesn't meet the Braves' expectations there and have him projected as a left fielder. A quality, disciplined switch hitter projected to have plus power, Vaughn also has above average speed and his defensive work should be more than adequate in left given his offensive output. Vaughn is expected to be able to compete at the ML level soon, and is off to a good start at the AAA level.
hurricane384’s take: This is a solid pick, about what you can expect from this point in the draft. I’d like it better if the vsL & vsR were flipped.

15.   P Mike Reese (CH2)
Reese has great control and great stamina. His durability is low. He’s got good splits. He doesn’t throw hard and will give up a lot of flyballs. His pitches are good.
byers61 says: With the 15th pick, the White Sox drafted P Mike Reese . We had him at the top of our draft board, with an asterisk because of his low durability. The thought here is that if he reaches anywhere close to his projected 98 stamina, that he can still throw 100 pitches a game and only skip a start now and then. With exceptional control, ability to keep pitches out of the zone, and a good pitch repertiore, he was worth a shot at pick 15.
hurricane384’s take: This is a good pick. He’s going to be a good pitcher and would likely have went higher if not for his durability. I would like to see his velocity or GB higher.

16.   SS Miguel Ramirez (CIN)            -               UNSIGNED

17.   P Hector Maxwell (BOS)
Hector is average against LHB and solid against RHB. He has good control and stamina/durability. He has a good pitch, but only has 3. He doesn’t throw hard, but makes up for that by keeping it down in the zone.
brickyard9 says:
hurricane384's take: I always feel that a 3-pitch starter is a big risk unless he's dominant in other areas.

18.   CF Philip Henley (SD)
Henley has solid power and good vsL. He’s average against RHP. Doesn’t make great contact and struggles with plate discipline. He’s got a great glove and good range. He’s got great speed.
gerald007 says:
hurricane384’s take: Henley is the type of CF that you can bat 7th and feel great about what you’re getting.

19.   P Sid McCormick (SF)
Sid has great pitches, even though he’ll struggle locating them at times. He has great velocity and will make hitters work by keeping the ball out of the hitting zones. Decent stamina, great durability.
AllSox says: At number 19, I took Sid McCormick a late inning reliever with very good stuff ( splits and pitches). His mediocre at best control may hold him back.
hurricane384’s take: This is a good spot for McCormick to come off the board. He’s got the potential to be a good closer.

20.   P Rex O’Donnell (NY1)
Rex has great control and is dominant against RHB. Has 1 outstanding pitch and solid across the board. Decent stamina and good durability. He doesn’t throw hard and won’t get too many groundballs.
mcgupp says: The NY Yankees were extremely pleased to see Rex O'Donnell fall to them in the draft. Rated #5 overall by the Yankees he will be a future starter on the ML team. He joins several other draftees and IFA's to give the Yankees a stable of bright young starting pitchers.
hurricane384’s take: To grab a pitcher like this so late in the draft is a good thing.

21.   P Felix Cosby (STL)
Cosby has great control and does a tremendous job keeping the ball out of the hitting zone. He doesn’t throw hard and only has one top-notch pitch. He’s got a good stamina/durability combination.
dwboyce says: We’re excited to get a player of Felix Crosby’s talent late in the first round. We’re hopeful he’ll live up to our scouts expectations despite his advanced age. He was one of two pitchers in the draft with both splits currently rated 60 or greater, and was one of a few with advanced control. His control and pitches will need to develop to their full potential to be truly effective, as he won’t be blowing major league hitting away. With the 21st pick, he needs a season or so before he’s ready for the majors, so he’s a safe selection. If his ceiling is as high as we hope, he could be the answer to the bullpen question plaguing St. Louis.
hurricane384’s take: I like my 2-pitch relievers to have 2 dominant pitches instead of one good one and one average one, but he still should make a difference in the bullpen for St. Louis.

22.   P Lorenzo Padilla (BAL)
A little short on the stamina, but he has tremendous control. Better against RHB than LHB. Has decent velocity and decent GB. Solid pitches across the board.
hopkinsheel says: The Orioles selected a solid high school SP prospect with the 22nd overall selection. We project him to be a decent middle of the rotation type pitcher with 4 above average pitches and decent splits.We invested more heavily in high school scouting so ranked high schoolers higher so we may have missed a good college player or two, but are happy with our selection.
hurricane384’s take: Padilla won’t be a superstar or an ace, but he’ll be a good pitcher.

23.   P Guillermo Lee (TB)
Lee has great control. His pitches are solid and he throws hard. Good stamina/durability combination. Does a solid job of keeping the ball out of the hitting zone. Won’t get many groundballs.
mexd781 says:
hurricane384’s take: He’s the type of pitcher who won’t star for a team, but will definitely be worth his salary for a while.

24.   LF Nash Jensen (PIT)
Good power and contact. He’s better against LHP than RHP. He’s got a good eye. He’s got great speed. Lacks ideal defensive abilities.
ajwalton says:
hurricane384’s take: He’s a good offensive player. Nice find this late in the draft.

25.   2B Eswalin Wilfredo (CH1)
Wilfredo is a solid player. He’s dominant against LHP and good against RHP. Not a great defender. Solid contact and power. Solid eye.
tk21775 says: borderline 2B with above average splits, no superstar but someone who will contribute at the majors someday
hurricane384’s take: Not a bad pickup for this late in the draft.

26.   P Max Velandia (KC)
Velandia has a good set of pitches to go with good control. Does a good job keeping the ball out of the hitting zone. Does not have great velocity and will give up an average amount of flyballs. Solid stamina/durability split.
bighead34 says: Solid selection who carries a decent amount of risk because of his health. However, it is exciting to get a potential 200IP starter, who has a chance to be better than league average, at this point in the draft.
hurricane384’s take: I struggle to remember a time where we had such a run on solid pitchers this late in the draft. No superstars, but still a solid group.

27.   SS Bingo McClellan (CH1)
Terrible defensive SS. Solid offensive ratings. Good speed. Very durable.
tk21775 says:
hurricane384’s take: As long as he doesn’t end up playing SS, this should be a solid pick to play 2B/3B and come off the bench.

28.   P Ed Bragg (MON)
Bragg has great control and throws hard. He’s got a good stamina/durability combination. Not dominant splits. Will give up a lot of flyballs. Solid pitches.
ekoontz41 says:
hurricane384’s take: Any time you can get a big-league SP this low, you’re doing something right. He’s going to be a solid #3/#4.

29.   P Rob Olsen (MIL)
Lacks the ideal control, but makes up for it with his pitch selection. He’s dominant against RHP. Lacks ideal velocity, but will induce more GBs than most.
s_gammon says: Rob Olsen, projects to a solid mid-rotation starter, with slight control issues that will likely prevent him from being a true front of the rotation ace.
hurricane384’s take: Yet another solid SP who will contribute down the road.

30.   P Alex Magee (MIL)
Lacks ideal control, but makes up for that with his tremendous velocity and a great selection of pitches. He’s not dominant and will give up some flyballs. Solid stamina/durability combination.
s_gammon says: Alex Magee is a carbon copy of Olsen
hurricane384’s take: I like this pick better than Olsen at #29…he’s got the ability to do some dominant things while also being beyond frustrating at times.

31.   P Kelly Crosby (SEA) 
A good reliever. He has good splits and throws the ball down in the zone. He's got great control and good pitches. A good stamina/durability combination.
jakaitis says:
hurricane384's take: This is a great value pick. He'll be a good reliever.

32.   P Patrick Pose (MIL)
Pose has great control and throws hard, but he lacks dominant pitches. Great stamina/durability combination. Does a good job keeping the ball out of the hitting zone.
s_gammon says: Patrick Pose, projects to be a very effective relief pitcher.
hurricane384’s take: This guy could be a very good set up guy. I don’t like that he doesn’t have a single dominant pitch.

33.   P Willie Mercedes (NY2)
Good control, dominant against LHB. Solid against RHB. Good velocity. Solid pitches. Good durability/stamina. Will not get a lot of GBs.
jgnjr says:
hurricane384’s take: A solid pitcher who will have a decent ML career.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

AL North by byers61

Detroit management decided that it is time to go all in. After getting their first ever taste of postseason play, the Tigers are hungry for more. After failing several times to land the ace starter they coveted via trade, they switched gears and settled for the aging but still talented Willie Diggins as a stopgap until more of the youngsters are ready to contribute.

That relative bargain signing left enough payroll to add native son Douglas James to be the teams new closer.
Then the Tigers landed the big fish of the draft: David Davis who will switch from 2B to CF. The Tigers feel that the addition of Davis to holdover stars Juan Aguilera ,
Henry Crosby, Kane Duncan and Monte Randall will give them as strong a lineup as any team in the AL, and should be enough to overcome some of the question marks in the pitching staff.

Finally, Detroit management is ecstatic over the next wave of young talent ready to move up from AAA at some point this season. Victor Rodriguez will provide another huge power source at DH/1B to complement Aguilera. Ruben Pulido and Edgard Rojas are also expected to make the jump sooner rather than later, and should provide a big lift to the starting rotation.

After 6 straight seasons of competing for the division title, but not developing a strong enough team to go deep into the playoffs, the White Sox let a number of veterans become free agents. Only 3B Hal Bell earned the White Sox a type B pick. Gone also are power hitters Trevor McEnerney and Gregory Courtney, as well as speedster Henry Costello.

Replacing Bell is SS/3b Delwyn Owen. R.J. Rosado, signed very cheaply, brings a mix of power and speed to the offense. The remaining roster spots will be filled by prospects who have been waiting for their moment in the spotlight. Reigning Rookie of the Year Adrian Barton will lead the youngsters by example. This could be a rebuilding year for the White Sox.

After 3 losing seasons, the last two finishing 4th and 3rd in the division, Toronto must feel they are close enough to competing without any major FA acquisitions. Toronto did sign Hal Bell to replace outgoing Hack Farquhar, and resigned CF Rob Woodson to a $2.4 million dollar contract after his $9.2 contract expired and he found no takers in FA. Toronto signed 2 Rule 5's, 3B Willie Benavente and LR Peter Doerr.
foxspor54: Coming off of a below .500 season Toronto has added free agents : Hal Bell and Woodsen resigned.This Blue Jays team is built on strong fundamentals on defence and quality pitching. Failure to make the playoffs will be unacceptable. The future looks bright for Toronto with Stu Grissom a top prospect in an excellent farm system given a shot a the bullpen job, If the team stay healthy they will contend with the division leaders. The GM wants to restock the farm system add more speed and develop a quality bullpen.

Coming off a 59 win season, it appears to be totally rebuilding mode for the Twins. They let SP Nerio Hawkins and RF/2b Ernest Burroughs go to free agency, and were basically a no-show for any significant FA or Rule 5 signings.

Detroit is the team to beat. The battle for second place will depend on whether Toronto has correctly judged that their players simply underperformed last year. It should be close between Chicago and Toronto, with Minnesota quietly enduring another rebuilding season.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Other Previews

Chicago Cubs

Playing in the NL North is always tough and the Cubs were 1 game away from tying for the division last season but went 3-7 down the strech in typical Cub fashion. Bad news is that David Davis has moved on in FA to a different team after taking home the NL MVP for 4 straight seasons with the Cubs during his time in Chicago. Good news is that he went down with an injury early in season 7 so we've proven that we can still stay competitive without him. Not having John Jung to patrol center field and losing him to the Cincinnati Reds will be a blow to the team this season. We've brought in Sawyer Miller to replace Jung, a downgrade both offensively and defensively but really the only option we saw in FA this season, but only inked him to a two year contract so we have some flexibility with him and the CF position. Jeff Carter was brought over to help with the starting rotation and David Rojas was signed to provide relief in the bullpen. Rojas is definately towards the end of his career but should privde some innings to give Cookie Alfonzo some rest. Denny Andrews will held line the starting rotation along with Walker Bryant. Andrews was shopped during the offseason as Cubs management likes to do with their top players (ex. David Davis) but nothing caught their interest. Sam Schwartz, Timo Pinto and Carlos Henriquez will held line the offense once again. Depending on how the season progresses they'll either help win the division in a Cub's uniform or be on the trading block before the deadline. With 2 true 1st round picks, 2 supplemental round picks, and 2 2nd round picks (along with 2 3rd round picks) the Cubs are hoping to stockpile some young talent in this year's draft. The Cubs probably didn't do enough in the offseason to match last season's record but we didn't see much that we liked. Instead we'll try for the wildcard and have a lot of flexibility financial in 2 seasons to make some majors moves again.

Cincinnati Reds

After spending a total of $76M in the off-season, the Reds did make some improvements to their team.
2B John Jung (.328/.381/.497; 22HR, 81RBI) joins a strong returning offensive cast. Talented CF Travis Evans (.287/.338/.425, 32SB) will lead off while RF Raymond Harris (.261/.321/.470; 27HR, 81RBI) looks to bounce back from a subpar season to contribute to the offense. Enigmatic LF Archie Coco (.264/.343/.532; 29HR, 84RBI) looks to have a great contract year. 37-year old 1B Robert Rogers (.285/.367/.430; 20 HR, 73 RBI) will be relied upon as the veteran presence in the lineup. SS Hi Jensen (.252/.310/.380; 13HR, 45RBI; .961 Fldg%) looks to improve both offensively and defensively. New 3B Art Redding (.263/.319/.313; 6 HR, 38 RBI) looks to be a solid contributor. Starting C Frank Hunter (.277/.356/.399; 15HR, 53RBI) returns. C Gary Bonds (.327/.398/.485; 3HR, 8RBI), 3B Steve Gil (.310/.380/.452; 16HR, 73RBI) and LF Merv Dorsey (.319/.368/.509; 18HR, 81RBI) join 1B Larry Browning (.322/.408/.587; 32 HR, 110RBI in AAA) to add some pop and versatility to the bench.
Brought in some new pitchers, brought back some new guys. Focused on groundball pitchers in order to limit the exposure of a subpar pitching staff. The best returning pitcher is Brian Wilson (12-8, 3.40ERA, 1.26WHIP, 188.0IP). The rotation will consist of Wilson, Darryle Lowe (5-9, 25S, 5.24ERA, 1.61WHIP, 115.0IP), Wes Hermsen (9-11, 4.28ERA, 1.33WHIP, 157.2IP), Tim Sefcik (6-2, 3.22ERA, 1.31WHIP, 131.1IP), and Scott Brede (2-9, 4.03ERA, 1.30WHIP, 129.2IP). Some notable additions to the bullpen are Fausto Lopez (8-3, 3.28ERA, 1.19WHIP, 118.0IP), Rob Wilkinson, Lew Bridges, Terrence Franklin, and Paulie Singleton. Oscar Heving and Craig Bulger will be the obligatory rookies out of the ‘pen.
I don’t want to talk about this aspect as we are sacrificing defense for offense in CF, at SS, and 3B.
I’m not real sure what to expect out of this team. The offense was 5th in OPS in S7, but scored 671 runs which was good enough for 11th offensively. Adding Jung, Redding, Dorsey, Bonds, and Browning should improve the offense beyond that level. We play in a division with the top 2 run producing offenses in the NL, so whether we improved enough to outslug those guys is a real question. We had the worst pitching staff, who gave up the 2nd most home runs. We made some incremental improvements and our minor leagues are dry, so what we’ve got is what we’ll have. I don’t look for a huge improvement this season, but I do believe .500 is acceptable and achievable.

Los Angeles Dodgers

We decided to not overreact to more postseason failure. Added some different bench players and hope we have the right chemistry. If we do not win it this year the GM and coach will be fired!

Milwaukee Brewers

First off, boy, do we play in one murderers row of a division, so that will be a test just in that.

But as a team, we have a solid and well balanced offense. Which will be led by Alex Gomez and supported top to bottom with quality everyday players and significant roleplayers. I feel we have a quality bullpen and a starting staff that, though not having a true "Ace" has what I consider to be 4 good number twos and a qulity 3.

This season is going to be a real test for me as a manager. I've never had a team with this much talent assembled and it is going to be interesting to see if I can fill out lineup cards and manage the nitty gritty well enough to make this team succeed.

And My GM skills will be tested two, with 6 draft picks in the first 54 picks, but limited prospect funds.

All in all, I'm looking forward to a fun and challenging season.

New Orleans Jazz

The new management in New Orleans took over a franchise that has yet to finish above 3rd place in its entire history, and only once has had a winning record. The goal was to change the culture within this franchise. In order to do that our goals were both long term and short term. In the short term, shed large contracts with older players while improving the competitiveness of the team. This team is coming off of 3 straight 100 loss seasons. That's not acceptable. A number of players were brought in to help the team this year, and in the future. Players like Roger Brown, Alex Haney and Kid Rolling. While this year's squad certainly won't be in the playoff hunt, we're confident that the team's record will improve and the team will be in a good spot when the number of prospects that are on the verge of being ML ready begin to make their debuts over the next season or two. Our expectations for this season is 70 wins. We expect our squad to be at .500 in Season 10 and ready to contend in the playoffs in Season 11.

New York Mets

Key players Sellers(c);Candelaria(3B)Fuentes(1B)
Key losses Bush(cp)
Hoping deep pitching staff can keep games close and young bullpen can fill Bush void....key for the future 4 picks in the 1st round this year

Philadelphia Phillies

After a disappointing year last year the Phillies hope that the addition of prospect SP Sam Phelps will bring some depth to the starting rotation. A full season of Heathcliff Haney behind the plate should make for a deeper lineup.The Phillies are still in a bit of a rebuilding mode but will look to make a little noise within their division. The team will once again be relying on Sullivan and Bailey for big years at the plate.

San Francisco

SF finally found respectability last season as new comers Jeff Phelps,Tomas Ortiz, and Max Samuel led us to 84 wins. We had never reached 70 wins previously. I'm hoping to continue the improvement as prospects Neil Foster and Jeff Choo should provide some help.

AL West Preview by mskakunan

The AL West is a juggernaut, producing two WS champs and three AL Champs in seven seasons including the defending champions the Oakland A’s. In every season but one an AL West team has made the LCS and in every season but one at least 2 AL West teams have made the playoffs. In season 6, three AL West teams made the playoffs.

Oakland A’s
The A’s are returning the core of last year’s team including all of the offensive starters and most of the rotation. Last year they were second only to division rival Colorado in runs scored in the AL. Bert Root, Kenny Francis and Jake Rhodes provided the pop last year with 40, 31 and 28 HRs respectively. Shayne Everett stole 35 bases, hit 24 HRs and had a staggering .440 OBP thanks to 100 walks and a .317 BA. Arnold Miller and Luis Ortiz also make critical contributions with OBPs of .382 and .391. Their pitching was sixth in the league but it features 20 game winner Marco Polcovich, one of the best big game pitchers in the game right now. The A’s may have some injury risks in the rotation, so they picked up Delino Guerrero and converted him into a starter to add depth. They also picked up Peaches Moore to strengthen their SS defense. The A’s were targeting a shutdown bullpen arm and a solid starting SS in free agency but were unable to reel in a big fish. They are hoping that these patchwork pieces will suffice as they rely on their booming offense to carry them to another championship.

Seattle Mariners 
The M’s are always solid contenders. Their 94 wins last season matched their best finish and they have only been under .500 once in their seven seasons in the league. As you would expect from a team that calls Safeco Field home, the M’s led the AL in WHIP and ERA last year. They return all of their starters (Melky Diaz, Aurelia Uribe, Fritz Gray and Rex Howard) from last year except spot starter Jeff Carter. However, their bullpen is gutted. The M’s are counting on newcomer Delanor Prince to bolster a bullpen that features Hughie Perkins, Bud Jarvis and Kendry Cornejo. Despite their ballpark, Matt Texeira, Frank Terrell, Trent Rivera and Rich Coco all hit 30 or more homers last year and all return to the lineup this year. Hats off to the M’s for the big pick-up in the division this year in Karl Hamill. A 40 HR, .400+ OBP monster, he gives them a lineup that can rival Oakland’s. For 6 million per year for 5 years, he is also one of the game’s great bargains. The addition of Pepper Morris gives them speed to boot. This team is going to be fun to watch and perhaps, after so many years of post season disappointments, the M’s may be ready to make a run.

Anaheim Angels
The Angels finally slipped out of last place last year with a 3rd place finish. This snapped a streak of 5 straight last place finishes. They continue to focus on developing young players and bringing them to the bigs one or two at a time. Two years ago Tito Mays won the Rookie-of-the-Year hitting over .350 and he followed it up with a . 317, 31 HR season. Last year Alex Guerrero came in and smacked 25 HRs in only 379 ABs. This year they hope that Alejandro Bennett becomes the solid leadoff man they have never had and Trevor Crawford gives them a true ace. Last year the Angels were third to last in the league in runs scored and slightly below average in ERA. Theo Matthews delivered a solid .415 OBP but he, Mays and Guerrero had very little help. To win Peter Condrey, Jerome O’Shea, Peter Thurman and Alex Dodsen have to play to their highest potential. New C Francisco Mendoza and new SS Bryan Thomas will do the job defensively but will provide little to no offensive help. The Angels did nothing to bolster their offense in the offseason. They did make a trade to bolster the pitching staff picking up Matty Martinez and they added set-up man rule 5er Roberto Bonillo. They also decided to transition Vic Sanchez to the bullpen to strengthen one of last year’s brutal weaknesses. Khalil Vining is terrific and with Sanchez setting him up, the Angels may suddenly have best bullpen in the division. Martinez and Crawford are huge question marks for this season but could make a great mark on the league in the future. That defines this team generally. If their young players continue to improve, the Angels could keep climbing. Otherwise, “wait till next year” will continue to be the Angels refrain.

Colorado Rockies 
One of the league’s storied franchises, the Rockies won 109 games two years in a row including a World Series Championship. But last year they dropped all the way to last place despite leading the league in offense as they always do. Dutch Badenhop is one the game’s greatest players, and he hit over 50 HR’s last season. Hipilito Iglesias had an “off-year” hitting only .344 with just 34 HR’s. Another awesome star. Jeremy Schumaker and Albert Stevens both had more than 40 HR’s and 2 guys named Throneberry both hit more than 30. Danys Romero stole over 80 bases. These guys are all back. So the question is, how do the Rockies ever lose? How about a team WHIP of 1.70 and an ERA that was almost a full run higher than the next worst team? The fans get their money’s worth every day at Coors. Masao Kuo, Santiago Guillon and Jose Ramirez have been brought in to improve the starting staff. The bullpen does not look improved. It is hard to imagine this year’s Rockies being as bad as last year’s given the improvements to the rotation and the fact that many of their offensive studs are quite young. Look for the Rockies to be resurgent. Bottom line: the AL West has at least two teams that will compete for a championship, the A’s and the Mariners.

Monday, October 22, 2012

AL East Preview by hopkinsheel

Baltimore Orioles
Key FA Lost: Sawyer Miller – Starting CFer the last few seasons, but his defense declined past the point where I was comfortable playing him their so I declined his option. He signed with the Cubbies.

Key FA Signed: N/A

Trades: We made a couple of trades in a very quiet trade market. Shipped Art Redding to the Reds who disappointed the last couple seasons. We have a young 3B we are bringing up to take his place. We were able to get a really solid hitter back in Braden Kubel who will spot start in the OF and be a great hitter off the bench. The other trade we made was a prospect swap we were brought in promising SP prospect Frank Rando.

Rookies expected to make their debut: Quinton Valdes will be our starting 3B once we get into the season a bit to get an extra season of before arb will kick in. Collin Meyers is slated to come up as another OF and speed off the bench. Pauley Hogan looks to round out the bullpen as a long reliever and spot starter. Possibly Jaoquin nunez as well, but we don’t have room in the bullpen right now. Hogan and Meyers are original draft picks, Nunez was signed as an International FA last season while Valdes came in via trade a few seasons ago.

Outlook: We expect to win the division. However, it is getting tougher as the Yankees and Red Sox continue to improve and challenge us. We hope to avoid a slot start which has gotten us into trouble the last couple seasons. We were lucky enough to battle back each season, but can’t keep digging that hole constantly.

Boston Red Sox
While the Boston Red Sox had the 5th best offense in all of baseball last season, a 26th ranking in team ERA and a poor lackluster defense who committed 111 errors making them the 2nd worst fielding unit in the Majors last season. New GM Bob Cimorelli takes over reign in Beantown and has wasted no time in revamping the pitching staff and retooling the defense to live up to the athletic talent present on the Major League Squad.

The core of the offense stays the same, but with some key defensive of position moves allows Boston to field a lineup that will keep pitcher's up at night. Newly appointed Rightfielder Carlos Rivera will be counted on to bring his speed (33SBs) and consistent ability to get on base (.290 Avg; .375 OBP) to set the table for the explosive squad. Many experts believe that he may actually have his best season yet this year as new GM has taken the SS responsibilities off his mind and move the well-rounded athlete to right field where he can show off his athleticism and strong arm. Travis Brownson will take over everyday duties at SS and with 500 ABs could return to his 20 HR form while providing solid defense. The heart of the order will consist of big bopper newly appointed second baseman Carl Clayton who recently signed a 5 year extension with the club and sweet swinging third baseman Phil Gao. If those two rakers were not enough, the Red Sox expect the return of powerhouse DH within the 1st month of the season after tearing his ACL last season. If he can regain his .300 BA and 35+ HR capability, Boston make actually improve on the offense they displayed last season. The rest of the offense will be filled with LF Scot Dickey CF Stevie Keppel and newly acquired first baseman free agent Gerald Bong. Behind the plate, Catcher's Micah Mitchell and Burt Washington will share duties and should combine for a productive season. The Red Sox will be dangerous throughout their entire lineup 1 through 9.

To address the pitching situation, the Red Sox wasted no time in picking up veteran free agents Ted Blair and Emil Romero who have pitched consistently in their careers posting ERA's in the 3.00's. Closer Artie Blackburn will look to continuing the success he had last year in the bullpen. The farm system may also produce some live arms to bolster the bullpen, one player to watch may Al Campos who is a ground-ball specialist. Another prospect quickly rising through the organization is speedy CF Benjamin Nunnally.

In all the new GM has added the right pieces and lubed the engine of this high potential team on paper. Only time will tell if the moves on defense and addition of veteran starting pitching will lead to success in this tough division.

Cleveland Indians
Coming off 2 down years in a row, Cleveland is looking for a strong bounce back season this year. We have a solid young catching duo that should be getting even better this year and the foundation of the team lies in our two young stars at 3b and LF, Wells and barrios as well as the solid veteran presence of Cy Larson at 1B. 24 year old CF Babe Coggin should improve off of a steady rookie year. We have a rookie double play combination in Anderson and Sizemore who both seem ready for the show. As always, pitching will be the key and I think we have a solid if not stellar staff anchored by an improving Nolan McGowan and the veteran presence of Max Osoria. Making the jump to the majors will be the dynamic Harpo Drabek and how well he adjusts to the majors will have a great deal to do with where the Indians will finish. Hopefully in the hunt, but realistically a year away from serious contention.

New York Yankees
The outlook for this years Bronx Bombers is upbeat.
Many high draft picks are hitting the Major League team and the Yankees turned the corner fighting to the last series of the year fighting to get into the playoffs. The concerns for the Yankees remains the r starting rotation.
After Dicky Jensen the staff is average. Despite the concerns, the Yankees Bleecher Creatures expect to see playoff baseball this season. The Yankees welcome Santiago Durazo and Albert Sosa to their rotation,
both FA signings. They also expect to rely on rookies Anthony Blackburn Joaquin Polanco Brett Welsh Louis Griffiths

NL South Preview by drichar138

1st Place – Atlanta Braves
The Braves 3 year reign as division champs came to an end in season 7 as the teams win total fell from 93 to 79 as the club limped to a third place finish and the their first season below .500 in team history. Don’t count on them being down for long. The Braves have the most balanced team in the division and should return to their place atop the division. Alex Cheng, Alex Tarraga and Dario York lead an offense that has very few holes. If you wanted to nit pick, you could say the corner outfield spots are not great offensively, but they certainly do the job on defense. The Braves pitching is just as balanced as their offense. Harold Daily leads a bullpen that can be down right dominating if Tomas Fernandez can live up to the hype and expectations that people had for him heading into his rookie year. Nobody in this rotation dominates, but they can consistently go out and keep their team in the game and that is all that is needed for this line up and bullpen. 

2nd place – St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals did not step backwards this season, I actually think they can replicate the 85 wins the achieved in season 7. I just don’t think that will be enough to win the division this season. The Cardinals probably have the best offense in the division, although they are not the most balanced (See Atlanta). Bucky Stults and Ariel Mateo are very strong in the corner outfield spots. In addition Claudio Gray will finally get his chance to prove he can play at the ML level after 4 years at AAA and many feel like he may be the division’s best kept secret. Bonk Stein is the veteran behind the plate that holds it all together and if he can repeat his numbers from last year, this team should be able to make people forget that Merv Dorsey is no longer in this line up. Corey Griffin and Johan Springer lead the rotation, but may be hard pressed to repeat the success they had last season. Hee Sop Nakamura was untouchable in season 7 coming out of the pen, but after two seasons of dominating NL hitters, you have to wonder if the guy with the career ERA over 4.00 in his first 5 major league seasons is going to show up at some point. 

3rd place – Florida Marlins
There is a lot to like about this Marlins team, but there is a lot that worries fans as well. Gerald Martin is a great hitter when he is in the lineup, probably is, he is almost never in the lineup due to durability issues. Carl Marte is probably the best defensive SS in the division, but the rest of the teams defense leaves a bit to be desired. Cliff Drew is coming off a fantastic rookie year where he hit 34 home runs and drove in 100 runs, but scouts seem to think he is in store for a sophomore slump considering his inability to make contact in key situations and the fact that he sometimes struggles to hit right handed pitching. It seems like there is a “but” to say in every situation where the Marlins have something to get excited about. One thing nobody can dispute is that Seth Wall is a pure stud starting pitcher. Combine Wall with Ronnie Brooks and you’ve got two guys that can hide a lot of weaknesses. The fact that Seth Wall is only 23 means that even though they may not be in line for a rise in the division this season, it is not out of the conversation that some day he will have this team in position to shine in the post season. 

4th Place – Houston Astros
Someday, this team may climb out of their yearly 3rd or 4th place ranking in the division, but it won't be season 8. The team has never finished above 3rd and has never even finished above .500. Last season’s 79 wins, was the 2nd best mark in team history. Moises Gonzalez is the best player on the team and pulled an Andre Dawson by winning the NL MVP last season on a team that was never in contention. Nobody else in the lineup will strike fear into the hearts of NL pitchers. The Astros have a couple of nice starting pitchers in Rob Tipton and Ignacio Polanco, but lack depth in the back end of their rotation. The bullpen is young, unproven and lacks the presence of a lock down closer. While the near future isn’t so bright, there are some decent prospects in the organization that could eventually lead this team to the dream of a .500 season. Until then, they will be taking their place in the NL South cellar. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

New Rule

After a lot of thought I've decided to add a new rule to the worlds I run. It does not affect gameplay at all so I am not putting it up for discussion or a vote. I spend a lot of time and effort to run these HBD worlds. I feel like I do a really good job and anyone can see, most HBD worlds are not run well AND take a lot time to fill during rollover. I've had some bad experiences lately with a couple owners who took over midseason from another owner who chose to leave and then refused to do the same when they did not want to stick around. 

All HBD worlds have to deal with the churn of owner. I recently dropped the one world I was in where I did not commish because of time constraints. After 40+ seasons of running worlds, I've found that it EASILY is the most beneficial to the world for a replacement owner to be found immediately once someone decides they are moving on. Inevitably the team is not taken as well care of and/or long term decisions are made by the outgoing owner which the incoming owner has to deal with.

The veteran owners whom I like to attract to these worlds almost uniformly prefer to take over the current budget instead of starting from the standard neutral budget.

Moving forward, if you choose to not come back next season, then you are open to transferring your team early. Preferably I would like that to happen immediately once the roll call is taken, however I understand each of us pays for a full season and if you demand to stick it out through the 162 game regular season then perfectly understandable. Furthermore, NO LONG TERM decisions are to be made by the outgoing owner without prior approval from the commissioner. This primarily is targeted at re-signing outgoing free agents, but trades will not be allowed either. 

Very very rarely does an owner from a playoff squad leave one of my worlds. However, in those cases the incoming owner will send a gift certificate to make up for the credits you will be missing out on by transferring your team. 

To sum up...the positives are huge for when a new owner comes in before rollover. They get to take their time and analyze their team, they get to promote/demote minor leagues, they get to make free agent decisions, and they get to inherit the current budget. This also helps the other owners in the world as it is MUCH easier to recruit a new owner when they have this option and we don't have to wait for someone to enter the world after rollover.

Sorry for the essay, but I wanted everyone to see I have thought long and hard about this. This rule will make the worlds better and make my job easier.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Breaking News...

Can Diego Rondon set a record in MLB? 

The New York Yankee 2B is an unlikely candidate to set the world record hitting streak, but he has hit safely in 26 straight games. During that stretch he is hitting .380/.488/.520 while scoring 20 Runs, knocking in 17, and hitting 2 HRs. He also has 8 doubles and has walked 21 times. With games against below average pitching staffs in Florida and Houston left before he breaks the record, stay tuned as we may be witnessing history!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Season Previews

Anaheim Angels
Crawford will give a jolt to the starting staff, not the farm system. Sorry about that. Newcomers include Jerome O'Shea, Theo Mathews and Vic Sanchez. Alex Guerrero moves to the bigs. Tito Mays is the new face of the franchise after winning Rookie of the Year honors by hitting over .350 and the trade of Michael Blasingame for Mathews and Sanchez. The Angels feel ready to compete. They have good starting pitching led by R.J.. Manto and Emmitt Williams and Khalil Vining, who was a strong Cy Young candidate last season, anchors the bullpen. Competing in the AL West is difficult, but the Angels finally feel ready. They have great talent coming through the farm system and Trevor Crawford might arrive mid-season to give a jolt to the farm system. If Condrey can stay healthy all season and Johnson in centerfield starts to hit, watch out for the Halos.

Arizona Diamondbacks

The Arizona Diamondbacks have a couple of good hitters Jim Schafer and Paul Dillon and a lot of speed.The pitching staff is the strength of the team. The top starters are Dave Lester and Jack Bush. Candy Martin was last years Fireman of the Year . The top rookies are Bump Davis and Charlie Black. In order to win more games Arizona needs more power in the lineup to drive in more runs. We hope to finish 10 games over 500 this year.

Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles have won six straight AL East titles and look to continue that streak in Season 7. Our biggest move of the offseason was to re sign Geoffrey Rivera to a long term extension and lock him up as our ace. Other than that, the ML roster stayed pretty much the same with some minor changes. We did not feel a huge need to make any big changes as the team finished #2 in fielding, #4 in pitching, and top 12 in hitting and our scouts believe out hitting under performed last season. The O's are still relatively young and financially stable so wholesale changes were not needed. Two rookies could see a debut this season in Rudy Pavlov and Quinton Valdes. The toughest part is getting t the playoffs. Unfortunately we have stumbled in the playoffs so hopefully can get over that hump this season.

Chicago Cubs
Key Losses: Darren Simmons (RF; .250, 5 HR)
Curtis Wolf (P; 7-11, 4.11 era)
Josias Gonzales (P; 10-12. 4.34 era)
Key Additions: Abdul Sweeney (RF; .298, 4 HR)
Yonder Mendoza (SP, call up from AA)
Didn't change much from last year, we still have 4-time NL MVP David Davis with the offense and have some key pieces surrounding him. Injuries hurt last year so if we can stay healthy we should be able to compete again in the very tough NL North. Depending on how the season goes, Davis may be going to another team as he's in the last year of his contract but will re-sign right now.

Chicago White Sox
The White Sox have won 4 division titles in the world's first six seasons, but have gone nowhere in the playoffs. This season, Omar Mercado has to step up and become the ace after a disappointing season. Adrian Barton has come of age and will stick with the big club all year, playing as an outfielder with the team stud entrenched at 2b. The White Sox didn't do much in free agency, only adding pitchers Pasqual Maduro andDerek Combs as last minute insurance bargains. The team will be auditioning rookie CF's if gold glove RF Henry Costellocan't make the shift.

Cincinnati Reds
Following a disappointing season 6, Cincinnati went looking to make changes…the pitching staff contains 6 new members, while the offense remains largely unchanged, with the exception of top-notch RF Braden Kubel being added to boost the middle of the lineup. Last season's #1 pick, Travis Evans will play 2B and hopefully be able to hold his own defensively. Archie Coco goes from LF to CF and last season's ROTY Raymond Harris moves to LF to make room for Kubel. 3B Steve Gil remains at the hot corner and looks to build on another strong season. MIF Hi Jensen, OF Pasqual Solano, and 3B Phil Perez make this one of the strongest benches that the Reds have had. The pitching staff is going to improve on a season that saw them finish 13th in ERA and lead the NL in HRs allowed. The defense should remain middle of the road.

Cleveland Indians
Cleveland will be relying heavily on the continued development of their young stars. Notably, Neftali Barrios in LF, Randy Washington behind the plate, Ebenezer Wells at 3B and most importantly, Nolan McGowan and Julian Porter in the starting rotation. This team will hit, but if the pitching doesn't improve significantly, it will be another long season. The veteran leadership and speed of Bonilla and Larson along with the solid Emil Holliday closing games gives the team good balance. If we pitch even a little better than last year, we'll contend.

Detroit Tigers
After finally clawing up to the .500 mark for the first time in world history, Detroit fans are finally excited to be rooting for a team that should challenge for its division. No easy task since every team in the division looks to be capable of playing at least .500 ball if not better. After years of being the only star player on the team,Juan Aguilera is excited to look around the field and see some young, developing talent surrounding him. Monte Randall , Andrew Alexander , Willie Aldridge and Pat Palmer were some of the top rookies in season 5, while uberprospect Henry Crosby joined fellow rookies Kane Duncan and surprise bullpen stalwart Santiago Benitez last year. The fans are grumbling over GM "Stand Pat" dakar's failure to add veteran help this year. But when interviewed he responded that the cost in terms of prospects or cash was just too high to justify for this season, and that the fans just need to trust in the organizations plans for a long run of sustained success over going fo it all right now. He added that the lineup is nearly in place, and the pitching should be coming in waves at this point. Fans are taking a wait and see attitude, but admit that they like the overall direction of the franchise and the emphasis that has been placed on players with both speed and power, which makes for an exciting brand of baseball.

Houston AstrosFor 4 consecutive season I have been proclaiming my team is ready to breakout and have its first .500 season and each time I am wrong. With that being said, it feels like the time is now. Mosies Gonzalez is in the prime of his HOF career and Rob Tipton should be a solid leader for the rotation. We signed veteran starters Emil Romero and Curtis Wolf to solidify the back end of the rotation. In addition, we have a few middle tier prospects that could end up seeing the majors at some point this season. Look for Adam Hannahan, Ugueth Cortes and Milt Flynn to see some time with the big club this season.

Los Angeles DodgersIn L.A. we are hopeful that this team can get over the hump and finally win a WS. We have traded Mathews and Sanchez and in return received Blasingame and Sewell who we hope will solidify this team and locker room. Mathews clubhouse act was wearing his teammates out and ownership felt they had to make a change. We also hope that our FA signing of Ventrella solidifies the bullpen which was a weakness of the team last season.

Minnesota Twins
Going into Season 7 of the MLB, the Minnesota Twins have some issues to resolve. After posting four consecutive third place finishes, the club can only hope to move up. The Twins had a relatively quiet offseason. A few free agent signings here and there and only one rookie gains a spot on the big league roster. The offense will be led by Ernest Burroughs (27 HR, 48 SBs from the #2 spot) and DH Morgan Taylor (31 HR). Second year player Al Javier is expected to follow up on his 36 HR rookie season with similar production. The offense struggled last season as the club failed to produce any 100+ rbi players. Rookie Darwin Corcoran will be a welcomed addtion to the lineup. After posting back to back 36 HR, 100+ rbi seasons in AAA, expections are high for Corcoran. Pitching has been a weak spot for Twins the past few seasons. The rotation has been in a downward spiral ever since the trade of Cameron Lundquist to Los Angeles in Season 1. The free agent signing of Elvis Janssen is expected to stabilize the rotation. Re-signing aging veteran Alex Simpson should provide leadership in the clubhouse and in the bullpen as he moves from starter to long reliever. Led by closer Slick Williams (39 saves), the bullpen held its own. Williams has now been moved to a set-up role as Cecil Upshaw (another FA signing) has taken over the role as closer. If Upshaw struggles, Williams is more than ready to reclaim the closer role. The Twins will be looking to improve on a third place finish. While the offense is there, the real story will be on how the pitching holds up.

New Orleans Jazz
The NO Jazz have made a series of dramatic early moves (FA signings and impending ML promotions) and have reaped the rewards of expired (questionable) contracts from prior management. Both sides of the ball should be improved:
-3-time All-Star C Ronald Sirotka brings considerable batting skills and veteran leadership.
-Look for him to team with LF Kordell Stanley and DH Mark Feng in a formidable top of the lineup.
-Also on the horizon are the eventual call-ups of Josias James, Napoleon Houston and Mark "The Vangina" Vanguri.
-NO made considerable upgrades to one of the worst pitching staffs in all of modern baseball with the signings of Delanor Prince, Julio Sanchez and Jon Lewis.
-Look for Prince to step in immediately as the new Closer and Sanchez & Lewis to fill holes in the starting rotation or bullpen.
-Also be prepared for the call-ups of Petey Bennett and Mike Morris as well as possibly a few more rookies.
NO holds the #1 overall draft pick and some other top prospects such as Donzell Holmes and Darrel Vitriello who should be ready to make an impact by season 8 or 9.
New York Yankees
Years of losing have not taken the optimism out of the Yankee organization. With the addition of Brian Greenwood to the line up, a healthy Allen Withers, and a return to form of Hacker Mercado the Tanks hope to score a lot of runs. After Dicky Jensen and suprising rookie Bobby Phillips the Yankees may also give up a lot of runs.

Philadelphia Phillies
After two consecutive division championships in the woeful NL North the Philadelphia Phillies will be looking to stay in contention by relying on their minor league system. Sullivan and Bailey will be looked upon to lead the offense once again while Denny Andrews will be relied upon to lead the pitching staff. Stud prospect Sam Phelps is a season away but could be a late season call up depending on the playoff race.

St. Louis Cardinals
Despite a second place finish, the Cardinals are mired in mediocrity at 76-86 and did little to improve their standings over the winter. The team was unable to sign any significant free agents, nor were they able to peddle any of their top hitters to other teams. The result is another year of finishing below .500 in a competitive division. While it’s true that Busch Stadium depresses hitting, fans are even more depressed over the Cardinals lack of offense. The club finished second to last in runs scored, and are mired in the bottom three clubs in nearly every major statistical category. That’s a shame, because a decent staff of starting pitching from top to bottom gives them the opportunity to win each night. The club finished tied for third in most major pitching categories. The Cardinals signed three stop-gap free agents, while losing out on a highly coveted pitcher that went well over what they were willing to pay. Two of the additions bolster the pitching staff. None are truly difference makers. Should the team not get off to a hot start, expect the club to move a veteran or two to a contender.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Record Breakers

Congratulations to Danys Romero for setting the hitting streak record by hitting safely in 29 games, as well as resetting the runs scored record for the 3rd straight season with 163...he also holds the top 5 single season runs scored marks.

Congratulations to Bernie Speier for setting the single season strikeout mark for the 3rd season in a row with 254. He also has the top 5 single season marks in that category.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The NL East - An Interview

Welcome baseball fans to “This Week in The MLB!” 

Tonight is a special night, as we’re joined by the Bench Coaches of no less than three ballclubs: Luke Gray of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Pedro Gandarillas of the New York Mets and Danny Ojeda of the Washington Nationals. Together they’ve lead their teams to identical 33-50 records this season, and yet all three teams sit just a few games back from the lead for the division title! They’ve agreed to share a little National League East wisdom with us on how to do so. 
Announcer: Gentlemen, thank you for joining our broadcast team here tonight.
Danny: Certainly. But we can’t join you. We’re already signed for the season. Nyuk. Nyuk. Nyuk.

Pedro, Luke and Danny - NL East bench coaches.
Announcer: That’s, uh, that’s great. Our first question for you all – what’s the single most important advice you give your players before they come to bat?

Pedro: That’s easy. I tell them to keep an eye on the ball.

Danny (picks up a baseball and holds it an inch in front of his right eye): Ooh! Like this?
Luke: No, stupid. Like this. (Slaps the ball into Danny’s eye.)
Danny: Eehm! (Drops the ball, squinting and wipes his face three times with his hand.)
Pedro (watching from behind Luke): Hey! How come you didn’t let him keep his eye on the ball!
Luke (turning to Pedro and pulling his moppy hair up): Oh, I didn’t, did I? Keep your eyes on this. (Luke pokes his two fingers into Pedro’s eyes.)
(Scuffle breaks out among the three bench coaches. Luke pulls Pedro’s tie, Danny knocks Luke over the head with his fist.)
Announcer: Gentlemen, please! Please! Settle down! Sit back down. Thank you. How about we just proceed with the next question. In the course of ballgame, when do you call for time?
The bench coaches formative years.
Danny: It’s 10:30.
Luke: What are you? A wise guy? (Smacks Danny in the back of head. Danny frowns, like his feelings are hurt. Luke turns to Pedro.) It’s your turn to answer the question.
Pedro: (Looking serious, raises his finger skyward, to demonstrate a point, and then): When I’ve forgotten my glasses.
Luke: (Looking angry.) Hey! What’s the big idea?!
Pedro: (Throwing his hands up.) If I don’t have my glasses, then I can’t see the clock on the scoreboard!
Luke: You can see this, though, right? (Holds up fist, then kicks Pedro in the shins. Spins around to Danny with two fingers ready. Danny puts a hand vertically up in front of his nose, protecting his eyes. The melee continues until…)
Announcer: Gentlemen! Gentlemen! Please! Please calm down. I suppose we should just skip ahead to my last question.
Danny: Certainly. I love skipping! (Makes an angelic face.) Nyuk. Nyuk. Nyuk.
Luke: (Glaring menacingly at Danny, who suddenly scrambles to recompose himself).
Pedro: Fire away!
Announcer: When do you choose to pinch hit?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Season 1 Draft - A Look Back

With the Season 6 draft now concluded, I thought it would be fun to look back on the draft from Season 1 instead.
Well, even the youngest of draft selections have matured through five years of development and should have blossomed to their potential by now, so we are now able to evaluate the inaugural draft with the benefit of hindsight.
The Season One draft was also the opportunity for owners of these clunky, randomly-filled teams to proactively choose and develop “their” players to become the future faces of their franchises. With scouting maxed out at 14 for all clubs, talent was sure to slip to lower echelons and the owner’s scouting eye was tested. Those who could separate wheat from the chaff are breaking the bread of their selections now.
First, a quick summary of the 32 first-round selections:
·         31 of them are currently in the Majors. One has played in the Majors but was recently demoted to AAA.
·         11 pitchers, 5 shortstops and 5 left fielders were the most commonly selected positions.
·         The draft appeared to be distributed with enough talent for all clubs to take advantage of it.
The selections:
1.      Phil Lowery – SP – San Diego (4th ML season, 1 Time All Star, 1 Gold Glove, 43W 25L in 107G, 2.67 ERA): He’s been everything the Padres hoped for. Last season, he went 16-7 while working 240 innings and posting a 1.04 WHIP, earning his first All-Star berth.

2.      Benj Fox – SS – Oakland (3rd ML season, .280 AVG, .491 SLG, 55 HR in 1088 AB): Posted a line of .289/.366/.486, smacking 23 home runs while driving in and scoring more than 80 runs in his first full season in the Majors while holding down the hot corner. His durability has limited his playtime, somewhat limiting his impact.

3.      Neftali Barrios – LF – Cleveland (5th ML season, 2 Time All Star, 1 Gold Glove, .281 AVG, .503 SLG, 97 HR in 1980 AB): A two-time All-Star with a respectable bat, Barrios has stroked 119 doubles. He also does his work in the field, with 31 career positive plays and just two negative ones, earning him a Gold Glove.

4.      Raymond Small – SP – Washington (2nd ML season, 16W 13L in 42G, 3.30 ERA): Getting the call up in season five, posted a respectable WHIP and 2.94 ERA while going 12-8 in 29 starts.

5.      Humberto Posada – LF – Cincinnati (2nd ML season, ROY, 1 Time Silver Slugger, .305 AVG, .574 SLG, 52 HR in 706 AB): Traded to L.A. in a blockbuster deal, Posada was allowed to marinate in the farm system until his season five call-up. Earned Rookie-of-the-Year honors and his first of what could be many Silver Sluggers, smashing 36 home runs and posting an OPS of 1.024. Likely the best player chosen in the draft and a beast for time to come.

6.      Rich Coco – RF – New Orleans (3rd ML season, .256 AVG, .442 SLG, 45 HR in 1139 AB): Now entering his third season with Seattle, Coco scored more than 100 runs in his first full season, stole 23 bags in 27 attempts and hit 24 home runs.

7.      Mac Kirkland – LRP – Chicago W.S. (3rd ML season, 11W 11L in 151G, 4.07 ERA): Logged 100+ innings in his first full season in the Majors while limiting opponents to a .227 AVG and striking out 158.

8.      Calvin Colangelo – IF/COF – Philadelphia (5th ML season, 1 Time All Star, 1 Gold Glove, .261 AVG, .461 SLG. in 1929 AB): The versatile utility player boasts 54 career positive plays and 2 negative plays while holding down the fort at second and third base.

9.      Ignacio Polanco – SP – Houston (4th ML season, 37W 27L in 106G, 3.80 ERA): Workhorse has logged more than 200+ IP last two seasons while going 14-8 and 13-7, respectively.

10.   Jim Schafer – LF – Arizona (4th ML season, 2 Time All Star, 2 Time Silver Slugger, .303 AVG, .518 SLG, 83 HR in 1770 AB): Schafer recorded a breakout season last year, hitting 33 HR, scoring 104 times and knocking in 131 while hitting .301 to net his second consecutive Silver Slugger.

11.  Carl Marte – SS – Florida (2nd ML season, .222 AVG, .322 SLG, 11 HR in 790 AB): Blessed with excellent range and a gun for an arm, the Marlins were content to let Marte’s marginal glove continue to develop at the ML level. Recorded 18 positive plays. Appeared in all 162 games his rookie season.

12.  Vladimir Cubillan – 1B – Minnesota (2nd ML season, .283 AVG, .438 SLG, 25 HR in 882 AB): While not the blessed with overwhelming power, the durable first baseman has made the most of his opportunities, driving in 100+ runs in his rookie campaign. Defensively stout, with 14 career positive plays and only a single negative one.

13.  Pat Palmer – SP – Detroit (2nd ML season, 9W 10L in 31G, 4.56 ERA): In the middle of his first full season, Palmer is off to a better start and is holding opponents to a .231 AVG while posting a 1.29 WHIP.

14.  Mark Prince – RP – St. Louis (1st ML season, 5W 3L in 43G, 3.02 ERA): Prince took his time to reach the majors, so the jury is still out on how the extremely durable pitcher will pan out. He’s off to a nice start, fanning 56 batters in 56.2 IP and holding opponents to a .264 OBP in long relief and set-up roles.

15.  Donnie McInerney – C – Los Angeles D (1st ML season, .309 AVG, .529 SLG, 15 HR in 278 AB): Another player left to mature in the minors, McInerney is performing extremely well in his rookie campaign. His 86 hits and 25 BB have propelled him to a .368 OBP.

16.  Rey Sowders – C – Los Angeles A (4th ML season, .239 AVG, .320 SLG, 13 HR in 706 AB): Despite playing four seasons in the Majors, Sowders is already on his third team. Blessed with the durability to be an everyday catcher, Sowders has been a reserve player every season of his career except one.

17.  Allen Withers – LF – New York Y (2nd ML season, .253 AVG, .474 SLG, 51 HR in 921 AB): Withers hit 32 doubles and 38 home runs in his rookie campaign, posting a .494 SLG. His OBP is a surprisingly pedestrian .321 due to his struggles to make consistent contact.

18.  Kordell Stanley – COF – Colorado (1st ML season, .314 AVG, .585 SLG, 10 HR in 159 AB): Stanley has all the physical gifts to be an impact player but his lack of durability will limit his production immensely. In his current rookie campaign, 22 of his 50 hits have gone for extra bases.

19.  Bret Roosevelt – CF – Montreal (3rd ML season, .243 AVG, .527 SLG, 46 HR in 575 AB): Roosevelt spent his first two seasons as a part-time defensive replacement. His all-or-nothing approach in the plate has served him well, as he has 46 career home runs and just 22 doubles, while striking out 155 times.  

20.  Vin Cueto – RP – Baltimore (3rd ML season, 6W 8L in 140G, 2.44 ERA): Several teams mistakenly passed over Cueto  and publicly regretted it, and he’s making them pay. The pitcher is limited opponents to a .204 AVG while converting 52 of 59 Save Opportunities.

21.  Kenny Kulik – RP – Chicago C (AAA, spent part of two seasons in the ML, 6W 9L in 68G, 3.93 ERA): Having spent part of two seasons in the Majors, Kulik has played some versatile roles so far by working long relief and starting a couple games a season. His excellent control (42 career BB) is compromised by his inability to stop surrendering hits (179 H in 174 IP).

22.  Danny Lee – CF – Seattle (2nd ML season, .289 AVG, .417 SLG, 20 HR in 802 AB): Lee’s contact, speed and batting eye has allowed him to get on base at a .352 clip. Once there, he often ends up stealing another, as he has 63 SB in 83 attempts.

23.  Brad Hinchliffe – SS – Anaheim (1st ML season, .208 AVG, .458 SLG, 2 HR in 24 AB): Left unprotected, Anaheim lost Hinchliffe to Cincinnati in the Rule V draft, where he was plugged him into their lineup as a defensive replacement. In 52 games, Hinchliffe has batted just 24 times.

24.  Sam Presley – 1B – Chicago C (3rd ML season, .260 AVG, .485 SLG, 78 HR in 1302 AB): In his rookie season, Presley smashed 40 HR and 28 doubles on his way to a .528 SLG, but his second-season trip to the 15-day DL cooled his production somewhat.

25.  Glenn Lowry – RP – Pittsburgh (2nd ML season, 4W 13L in 80G, 5.65 ERA): Lowry is another player to find himself on his third ballclub already, but he gets his chance at The Show in San Francisco. His lack of a set-up pitch and a mediocre “out” pitch does not help him overcome his lack of effectiveness against right-handed hitting. Opponents are batting .300 against him.

26.  Nipsey Baez – SS – Kansas City (1st ML season, .238 AVG, .397 SLG, 6 HR in 126 AB):  Despite two short trips to the DL in the minors, Baez developed to his shortstop potential and got his chance to play in the Majors when he was traded to Montreal this season.

27.  Howard Coghlan – RF – Montreal (2nd ML season, .268 AVG, .467 SLG, 18 HR in 418 AB):  Coghlan was traded twice, finding a home with Toronto in the Bigs. After posting a .907 OPS in his rookie season, he’s battling through a sophomore slump at this time.

28.  Donzell Root – LF – New York M (2nd ML season, .279 AVG, .528 SLG, 37 HR in 587 AB): Root tore his hamstring twice in the minors, one of the incidents landing him on the 60-day DL. Despite that, he’s still a relatively quick player and has stolen 21 bases in 27 attempts.

29.  Akinori Zhang – SP – Atlanta (5th ML season, 24W 24L in 96G, 4.23 ERA): Rushed through the Braves minor league system, Zhang jumped to the majors at the age of 20 with a promising career as a starter in front of him. The stress of a Major League schedule was too much for his body to bear however, and he was sidelined with elbow surgery and placed on the 60-day DL in his rookie season. He suffered two aneurysms in his shoulder subsequent seasons, one also sidelining him on the 60-day DL. All these injuries stunted the development of his effectiveness and control. The Braves have since used him in spot starts and long relief out of the bullpen.

30.  Buddy Borders – SP – Chicago W (2nd ML season, 0W 0L in 7G, 3.18 ERA): Despite being in his second season, Borders surprisingly has not seen much work as a long reliever yet. He has the promising make-up of a talented pitcher.

31.  Lawrence Walker – 3B – Florida (1st ML season, .250 AVG, .500 SLG, 0 HR in 20 AB): Walker has played a total of 8 innings in 5 games as a defensive replacement. His defensive development never panned out to third base, and he finds himself holding down the fort late in games in right field.

32.  George Wright – SS – Toronto (3rd ML season, .263 AVG, .466 SLG, 50 HR in 1129 AB): Wright’s promise to play the middle infield only recent came about, as Toronto is using him at second base this season. He has spent most of his time patrolling right field due to an underwhelming glove. Wright’s makeup profiles to a utility player, and he has surprising speed as well, stealing 59 bags in 77 attempts.

Next, let's divide the draft by quarters and pick some winners, for fun:

Best pick with selections 1 through 8: Posada, LF (5th overall) – Cincinnati
It’s hard to say that anyone missed anything here. This group contains three All Stars and a Rookie-of-the-Year. Six of the eight have three or more seasons of experience. I’m going to give a slight nod to Posada, if only for the fact he slipped past some scouts and fell to the fifth overall.

Best pick with selections 9 thru 16: Schafer, LF (10th overall) – Arizona
Hard to argue with a guy who has won two Silver Sluggers, although McInerney and Polanco will enter the argument should he slip.
Best pick with selections 17 thru 24: Cueto, RP (20th overall) – Baltimore
Owners made hay with late first round selections, as a lot of talent was available. The nod goes to Cueto and that 1.04 career WHIP. Withers, Stanley, Roosevelt and Presley were also among the fine pick-ups here.
Best pick with selections 25 thru 32: Zhang, SP (29th overall) – Atlanta
Zhang was among the best of the latter round selections, and it’s a shame a couple strokes of misfortune stole his promise.