Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pirates Season 15 Preview

The Pirates are back up off the mat after losing to the Marlins in last season's playoffs. The Pirates made a few changes to their team to shore up their bullpen.

Additions: Emil Sosa, Jaime Philips, Jake Owens, David Gomez and Wilfredo Belliard
Departures: Bruce Kinney and Javy Urbina

Losing Urbina hurts. The Pirates couldn't get rid of Kinney fast enough. Waiving Kinney saved 16.7 million this season. This allowed the Pirates to sign Phillips, Owens, re-sign Albert Villafuerte and trade for Sosa. I honestly think had the Pirates resigned Kent Heredia instead of signing Kinney last season, we might be talking about a different world series winner.

The Pirates Season 15 opening day roster:
1B: Juan Carrasquel moves to first full time this season.
2B: Luis Cruz Mr.consistency
SS: Don Gong not flashy but gets the job done
3B: Clarence Valentin started last season slow with the bat but finished strong. Should've won the gold glove last season, he was robbed.
LF: David Gomez a late season call up last season.
CF: Bernard Shelley nice rookie season
RF: Alex Richardson has had a good career so far, but has yet to have that MVP type of season, he's capable of. Maybe season 15 will be his year.
Bench: Max Fuentes he could start for other teams
Juan Bonilla nice work filling in at CF last season when Shelley was injured
Happy Hayes didn't hit much last season, hoping for a rebound this season.
Tim Roberts another player who could start for other teams, anyway he had a heck of season filling in for the starters last year
Wilfredo Belliard free agent signing, will get some playing time at 2B, RF, and LF
Pitching Staff:
SP1: Tim Loewer enough said
SP2: Omar Elcano he wins 25 games, a Cy young and his season was a disappointment. The Pirates didn't sign him for regular season success, he was brought in for the playoffs. So far he's been a bust.
SP3: Jimmie Torres the trade for Sosa moves Torres back to a starter.
SP4: Don Benson started off last season in the bullpen, and was moved into the rotation wound up winning 15 games.
SP5: Alex Espinoza gets a chance to start this season. He will be on a short leash, as Owens and Felix Carter are ready to start the first chance they get.
Long Relief: Jake Owens will get some starts too, when Loewer needs some extra rest
Setup: Emil Sosa, Albert Villafuerte, Brandon Walton, Jaime Philips, and Geraldo Rosa
Closer: Andres Coronado

Hard to make predictions for the Pirates this season. The Marlins have improved at 1B and in the bullpen. Nevertheless, anything short of winning the world series, would be a disappointment. The Pirates need Elcano to step it up in the playoffs and for the bats not to go silent, like they did last season against the Marlins.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The FA Market So Far

How has my top 15 FA players fared so far? 12 of 12 cycles

The Pitchers:

1. Dan Hitchcock signed by Texas for a $61M deal for 4 years. Guess we will find out whether he pitches better with good catchers.

2. Xavier Hart singed by Texas for a $39.5M deal for 3 years.

3. Howard Barkley signed by St. Louis for a $13.5M deal for 2 years. Best deal so far I think

4. Chad Sanders has yet to sign, wow! he could fall into Indian territory yet.

5. Mike Roberts signed by Las Vegas for a 9.2M deal for 2 years.

The Relievers:

1. Willard Farley signed by Florida for a $18.1M deal for 3 years.

2. Doug Cambridge signed by Florida for a $11.3M deal for 2 years.

3. Heath O'Brien has been left in the cold.

4. Shane Kelly has yet to sign, fired his agent and lowered his demands. OH Yooohoo Florida!!!!

5. Philip Nelson signed by Florida for $9.2M deal for 2 years.

The Hitters:
So far the ranked hitters are still in negotiations but teams filling holes has struck.

1. Lonny Waltman was signed by Las Vegas for a whopping $85M deal for 5 years.

2.Nigel Lennon was signed by Austin for a $35M deal for 5 years.

3. Miguel Franco has yet to sign and was last seen at the local pub crying in his beer.

4. Douglas Crudale finally signed with Toronto for a $32M 4 year deal.

5. Douglas Purcell has yet to sign due to the lack of interest.

Hole Fillers:
A. Raymond Strong signed by Las Vegas for a $23.6M deal for 4 years.

B. Yorvit Veras signed by Minnesota for a $11M deal for 2 years.

C. Vin Wilkins signed by Chicago for a $3.2M deal for 1 year.

D. Danny Hennessey signed by Durham for a $9M deal for 2 years.

E. Victor Bonilla signed by Florida for a $8M deal for 2 years. My question is why.

F. Jesus Quixote was signed by Anaheim for a $2.5M deal for 1 year. Cheap skates

G. Earl Miller signed with Kansas City for a $28M deal for 5 years.

H. Ralph Erickson signed with Atlanta for a $14.4M deal for 2 years.

I. Jose Benitez signed with Omaha for a $5.8M deal for 2 years. Talk about cheap.

J. Ned Grebeck signed with Dover for a $8.8M deal for 2 years.

K. Louis Hiljus signed with St. Louis for a $6.2M deal for 2 years. Ok, this one didn't make sense as Purcell was available for a cheaper deal.

So who won on the extra pick deal? Well, when it all said and done, Anaheim will have the most picks. But when it comes to quality, probably Tampa Bay will come out on top in the end.

Expect a few more players to be signed as the Rule V draft looks like one big joke! Ok, so there is a defensive bench warmer here and there but only 1 player stands out and that is Orlando Fernandez who probably showed up as #1 on every ones chart but one. As for pitching, Daryl Young may spark some interest. Five teams are sitting out the Rule V draft for sure, make that six as Cleveland will be sitting pat. Will it be a large draft? That remains to be seen, it usually is though and many wind up on the WW the next day.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Season 15 Clevelnad Indians

The Indians management has been very busy this off season already. So far the Indians have upgraded their offense and defense with the acquisition of Matt Pierce and solidified the pen by acquiring Mendy Hughes. We are still actively searching for another pitcher as an upgrade but we doubt that will happen at this time because money is in short supply now.
After last season Kris Sherman (owner) and I sat down and talked about how to get this team into the playoffs after several almost seasons the last few years. We think the Pierce trade solved one of the problems we have had for a long time, a solid hitting and fielding CF. We had several plans coming into the season but the trade changed things drastically.
We also discussed a couple mistakes that was made last season. The Blackwell trade for one, as he wasn't keen on the idea. It wasn't a bad idea really, but it did leave a hole in the pen that we couldn't fix until this season. Boomer Thomson did a great job filling in as the closer, but it left us without a short reliever to get that one or two outs when needed. It did clear cap space for this season as intended. The trade of Albert Tapies for Roy Little gave us a starter that we desperately needed and after that trade the team perked up. Though we were still searching for a fifth starter all season long and came up empty handed. The late season trade for Pascual Berroa was the biggest positive in a season that went downhill at the end. The WW pickup of B.C. Bennett was also a boon at the time. However, this season B.C. has been the forgotten man with no slot position, so it was off to AAA. He could be called up at any time though if an injury hits the team, not a bad insurance policy.
The biggest mistake was the handling of Albert Valenzuela, everyone thought it was a great idea at the time, the perfect backup for Black Bart. However, after the season was over and had the time to analyze, it was a very wrong move. Albert didn't do anything wrong, he played great. He was just the wrong guy for the job. He will be in Vacouver this season as a very happy starting catcher I hope.

So this is how the Season 15 Indians stack up:

C - Bart Ross - If his glove ever comes around he will be one of the best in the biz. Jose Blanco will be his backup and it is his job to lose as there are several that are chomping at the bit to replace him if things go badly.
1B - Deivi Silva gets the job with several bench players to back him up if needed. He should be a candidate for a GG here.
2B - Eswalin James was asked which position he wanted to play and finally decided here. Another GG cndidate.
SS - Sean Smalley will get to play the entire season here as his backup is at AA gaining skill. GG is another possibility.
3B - Karim Quevedo gets the nod as he is experienced with the position. Another GG possibility.
LF - Pascual Berroa was happy to be traded to the Indians last season as he finally gets to play a position he is capable of. Can we say another GG contender.
CF - Matt Pierce knows we gave up half the farm to bring him here, the pressure is on. We are not expecting a GG candidate though, just solid hitting and fielding.
RF - Giovanni Jackson finds himself surrounded by very good talent on the field and in the lineup and seems to be jubilant about the situation. Is a third straight GG ready for his shelf?

Pascual Zapata - 3B/1B/COF
Trace Wallace - 3B/1B/COF
Mickey Greer - 2B/CF

The bench is very deep and won't have problems resting players.

We have high expectations that this will be one of the best defensive teams in the NL. Hopefully the hitting shows up like we think it should this year. Yes, it looks like we have a backup SS hole, but that is easily remedied with some shuffling.

Starting Pitchers:
Tito Gao hopefully another 15+ win season.
Brant Brede has been a bit of a disappointment but is 15+ win capable.
Anthony Riley was picked up last year for a job in the pen where he failed miserably but pitched well as a starter.
Pedro Roque failed at just about everything last season, but has come to camp rejuvenated this year.
Roy Little did well as a starter early last year but fell from grace in the "Dog Days".

If the starters can win 60+ games like they should, the pen should pick up the other 25-30 and the saves needed for a playoff run.

The Pen
Ross Bland veteran that tried to hold the pen together last year, hopefully this years plans help.
Jose Crespo desperately wanted to come back after he saw the changes being made.
Johnny Zeile is the "spark plug" in the pen.
Matt Brooks is on a short leash this year.
Posiedon Marte is even on a shorter leash.
Ivan Blasco is on a work-release program.
Boomer Thomson our one to two out specialist.
Mendy Hughes is the CLOSER!

FA Market

I thought it might be fun to see who the top 5 potential big money guys in three categories will be and dissect them a bit. Of course, we all are wondering who is going to shell out too much money for their services this year.

Starting Pitchers:

1. Dan Hitchcock, age 32, Type A, lefty, wants 7.5M for three seasons minimum. Has the control, splits, velocity and GB that would make him a great one, pitches are another story. Was on a winning power hitting team and never really had a great season, one good one. Makes me wonder if he had a catcher with PC above the intelligence of a peanut and weather it would actually help.

2. Xavier Hart, age 33, Type A, lefty, wants 6.8M for two seasons minimum. He was on some great Cubs teams and has the rings to prove it. Really only had one decent season though. Has the ratings to be really great still but was Chicago his downfall?

3. Howard Barkley, age 36, Type A, lefty, wants 6.8M for 2 seasons minimum. Had one decent season though he was always on so-so teams or less. Still has some pretty good ratings and might have a season or two left in him but at his age maybe not.

4. Chad Sanders, age 35, Type A, lefty, wants 5.8M for two seasons minimum. Right split is weak but control and pitches cover it nicely. Has had a Cy Young season and his hands are fully weighted with rings. The deterioration is taking its toll so buyer beware.

5. Mike Roberts, age 34, Type A, lefty, wants 5.4M for two years minimum. Has never had a good season and really was never on a powerhouse, always before. Ratings are decent but probably needs a catcher.

Egads!!!, those are the top 5? Glad I am sitting this FA period out. I really didn't see much else you would call great in the SP role.

The Relief Pitchers:

1. Willard Farley, age 29, Type A, righty, wants 6M for three years minimum. Has put up some good numbers and lots of innings but not as a closer. Doesn't have that real good second pitch to be a closer.

2. Doug Cambridge, age 32, Type A, righty, wants 5.6M for two seasons minimum. Has had some up and down years in different roles and has lots of rings. Still a very good closer.

3. Heath O'Brien, age 29, Type A, righty, wants 5.4M for two years minimum. Has had some decent seasons in the setup roles as he doesn't possess the second pitch of a closer but could put in a lot of quality short innings.

4. Shane Kelly, age 28, Type A, righty, wants 5M for two years minimum. Hasn't been all that successful in all reality as a closer and iffy in the short role, maybe it is those pitches.

5. Philip Nelson, age 30, Type A, lefty, wants 5M for two years minimum. Has had pretty good success in the short role and can put in some medium innings. With a stable of three pitches could make a statement at being a closer, a role he never had, but better have a catcher IMO.

I was in the market for a good closer but maybe a good thing I changed my mind.

The Position Players:

1. Lonny Waltman, age 31, Type A, lefty, wants 7.8M for four years. A pretty good hitter with 20-25 homer power. Actually strikes out more than I would expect. Capability is there for a GG in LF or 1B not RF.

2. Nigel Lennon, age 27, Type A, rughty, wants 7M for three years minimum. A decent hitter with a little pop in the bat. Fancies himself as a SS but it would be a cold day in hell for me to play him there. 2B/3B/RF and maybe some occasional CF when in need.

3. Miguel Franco, age 30, Type A, switch, wants 6.6M for four years. 3B? Really? 30 errors and 20 minus plays, maybe that is why he is in the unemployment line. I would be hard pressed to make him anything other than a 1B/LF. Does have some nice power and contact, but eye and splits are not very attractive for the price.

4. Douglas Crudale, age 31, Type A, righty, wants 6.6M for four years. Listed as a 2B/LF, guess that is why he had 18 minus plays at 2B? Ok, so I would make him a 1B, LF a maybe. Has a good eye, power and contact, right split is covered but weak. Would be a better hitter in a plus hitting park.

5. Douglas Purcell, age 29, Type B, switch, wants 6.3M for three years. Hitting wise I see him as so-so with little power though did hit well in Texas. Not a real good 3B as fielding goes but could be a very good defensive RF.

There ya go for the top five hitters, not much if you ask me.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Season 15 News

Welcome to Season 15 in MLB! Another exciting season is in store and maybe another big WS party at Erffs!

HOF - This is the first season for the Hall of Fame. As far as I know, there are automatic nominations by the AI and you can nominate up to two players that played for your team that is in the list (erff said he nominated three so not sure, the release said two). The list will be highlighted as to which players you can nominate with nominate as the action. As for Jose's HOF question: If a player is nominated to be voted into or inducted into the Hall of Fame the franchise that is represented will be the franchise that he played the most games for in his career.

Fielding Instructors - There has been a bunch of forum hoopla about this as WIS has decided there is a shortage in many Worlds. If you ask me, they made their own mistakes with this problem. We have all the way to 33 available that want to be a FI. 18 of those are on Medicare and visit the geriatric ward before each game to see if they are still alive. I was hoping my FI from last season would want to stay this season. Lo and behold he does as the Bench Coach! Herein lies the problem.

Movers and Shakers:

cmchristians moved the St. Louis Barracudas to Minnesota and named them the Twins. Not a bad move in my opinion.

mitchrapp took over the Monterrey franchise and has moved them to Kansas City and nicknamed them the Royals. We are going to miss edham and the silent Corn Dogs. Welcome to one of the best HBD worlds there is mitchrapp.

knucklebones moved from New Orleans to St Louis and named them the Cardinals. Another good move if you ask me.

yoker70 moved his Kansas City Royal club to Colorado and named them the Rockies. Oh why oh why? Colorado Springs maybe!

wholck moved his team from Trenton to Philadelphia and became the Phillies. Or is that Fillies? I hated going to Trenton to play, not sure about y'll.

We are still waiting the fate of the Oklahoma City franchise as I am not sure if he is going to move the team or not.

It is official as we are to go go go!

jsholmes did move the Oklahoma Franchise to Salem and became the Super Sequoias. Maybe the best move of them all.

I don't know about the rest of you, but most of the stadiums available in the West are a bit too dramatic one way or the other. So it is good place for all the odd ball cities and team names.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Red Sox Lose Game 7, Twice

Florida fans were at the exits twice during the Game 7 finale only to return to their seats after a two out hit extended the game. This may have been the best World Series in the 14 year history of MLB! Florida quickly jumped out to a 3-0 series lead, but just like the AL LCS the Red SOX came back. Then came the see-saw ride of Game 7. The Red Sox had a 1-run lead in the bottom of the ninth, Bubba Ross came in to get the final out, a triple to Wilfredo Oliva scoring the speedy Harry Cora to send the game into extra innings. Boston goes up by a run in the 11th only to see the antics of Harry Cora scoring on a Julian Sojo 2-out single again. Then came the fateful 12th, Ramon Ishida scoring from 2B on J.C. Welch's single to right field. Ishida who was off before the crack of the bat attempting to steal 3B and never saw the late stop sign put up by Third Base Coach Will Cornelius. Replays show the play at the plate wasn't all that close as Ishida's hand found the plate when the perfectly thrown single bounce arrived and the tag was oh so close but clearly late.

Congrats to the Florida Marlins who can proudly play "WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS". Boston fans are proud of their team even though the players are dejected.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Red Sox Veronica Bulls

The Red Sox had their backs against the barrera (cowering even) when they went down 3-0 to the Bulls. "Pass da Bota the Matador is Cornada!" was the cry of the Bulls fans, oh the shame of it all now. The Bulls offense seemingly unstoppable in the first three games suddenly went cold as the Ohio weather. The Red Sox pitching came to life and saw a flicker of a chance after winning game 4, 5-1. Game 5 saw a 31 total hit barrage by both teams but getting runs across the plate proved difficult as the Red Sox snuck the winning run across the plate in the bottom of the 10th for a 6-5 win. Game 6 was the total opposite as there was 7 total hits by both teams as Boston plated 2 in their timely 3 hit attack in the 6th inning which provided enough offense to win, 2-1. Game 7 had everyone on pins and needles or would that be "Espada y Vara"? The Red Sox offense mustered an early 3-1 lead which the pitching staff would not relinquish. OLE OLE OLE OLE!!!!!!

This is first time a team has come back from a 0-3 start to win a LCS as far as I can recall. Not since seasons 8 and 9 had a heavy underdog upset the prohibitive favorite in the AL. The Bulls do not get a chance to threepeat or twopeat for that matter.

On to the World Series which matches first time entrants, the Boston Red Sox and Florida Marlins. Pizza, Popcorn and Beer at Erff's for the World Series everyone!!! Oh, forgot to mention, Beer, more Beer and um, yeah, Dancin Girls!!!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Pirates Get Swashbuckled By Marlins

#2 Florida split with #1 Pittsburgh in the opening two games of the series and that was key. Florida pulled out a 10 inning squeaker in game 3 but Pittsburgh came back to tie the series in game4. Pittsburgh bats fell silent in game 5 as the Marlins went up by a game. Decisive Game 6 saw the series switch back to the Pirates den. The bats were singing once again early but just couldn't get timely hits to score runs as Florida came back from an early 3 run deficit to quickly turn the tide.

Could we have two WS noobs? Boston is putting on a valiant comeback effort to prove they do belong!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Florida Brims Mad Hatters

Florida shuts out New Orleans in game 4. "New Orleans was just plainly gassed!" exclaimed GM Knukle. This is also Florida's first playoff and series win! Congrats

Florida now travels to Pittsburgh to face the Pirates.

Pirates Plunder Royals

Two late runs by Pittsburgh ended Kansas City's hope for a 5th game. All four games was hard fought but the 5-0 shutout and yesterdays 1-run affair seem to have sapped the KC attack. This is the 3rd time the Pirates have made it this far.

The Pirates fly home to await the Florida Marlins. This is the third time in MLB history that the top 4 teams will go to the LCS and the first since season 10.

Boston Crabcakes Barracudas

In St Louis the rally fell short in the fourth game of the series sending the Red Sox to the finals. This is the Red Sox organizations first playoff and first playoff series win. Congrats!

Boston now invade Durham to face the Bulls.

Bulls Leave Steaming Hot Pockets on the Field

The Durham Bulls quickly dispatched the Helena Hot Pockets via the long ball. Durham may have swept Helena but didn't look very sharp at the plate. That didn't sit well with the Bulls miffed coaching staff, as timely home runs was the difference.

Durham now goes home to rest and get some practice in as they await their next opponent. They are guessing Boston, but that doesn't mean much.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Zephyrs Foghat Braves

In Atlanta, the Bravos jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, but wiley veteran Mel Wagner had his KY and Prep-H ball working to his benefit and limited damage. The Top Hats chipped away at the lead and tied it in the top of the 7th followed by Zachrey Jerzembeck 3-run blast that is still rolling down Peach Tree. That was all it took as the Zephyr pen kept the Braves off their happy hunting trails the rest of the game.

For Mel Wagner, that is his second win of this young post season. The most wins in a playoff season. It also raises his post season record to 5-9 in 18 starts. Could he get another ring? What a storied HOF career!

New Orleans must now travel to Miami to face their dreaded division rival, the Florida Marlins. This could be the most exciting post season ever in MLB history.

Hot Pockets Out Microwaves Corn Dogs

The Hot Pockets surprised the MLB world today with a come from behind victory in the bottom of the ninth. Big innings plagued both teams as Helena pounced with 6 runs in the fifth for 6-1 lead. After trading 1-run recipes in the 6th, Monterrey pounded relievers Don Zhou and Earle Magadan in the 7th for 5 runs highlighted by Ariel Serra's second dinger blast of the game to tie the game. The silent Corn Dogs took the lead in the 8th with a lone score. Then the amazing heroics in the 9th saw a blooper over the head of the infield, a walk, a double steal then little used Alex Arrojo pinch hit single plated both runners to win the game. The play at the plate still has everyone up in arms, did the ump get the call right? The replay has been shown on HBD-ESPN all night and morning, with absolutely no conclusive evidence either way. Did his fingers touch the plate before the tag? Everything was a dusty blur even in slo-mo.

Helena has little time to celebrate as they now go to Durham to face the #1 Bulls.

Monday, February 1, 2010

GM of the Season

chase39 - Pittsburgh Pirates
6 win improvement
NL North title

sdhizzle - Florida Marlins
24 win improvement
NL South title

knucklebones - New Orleans Zephyrs
19 win improvement
Wild Card

sjr456 - Atlanta Braves
0 win improvement
NL East title

josepaco - Chicago Cubs
Wild Card

pfontaine - Boston Red Sox
15 win improvement
AL East title

dhatt1080 - Dover Dung Beetles
9 win improvement
Wild Card

soxfan121 - Durham Bulls
0 win improvement
AL South title

hatton98 - Syracuse Sycamores
9 win improvement

edham55 - Monterrey Corn Dogs
Wild Card

Barracudas Eat Dung Beetles

St Louis rebounds after the series opening home defeat to sweep away the Beetles. Funny, Ray Luke was the loser and Hub Strange lost to Atlanta again, both are Injun castoffs. Gerald Gibbs was the star of the series batting .526, going 10 for 19 with a double, 2 tater classics and 5 thefts. St Louis now goes to Boston for round 2, don't think the Bean Towners will take very kindly to a Barracuda invasion.

In other news: The Hot Pockets kept their playoff hopes alive, downing the silent Corn Dogs 7-5. In New Orleans, the Atlanta Redneck went to the mound and shut down the Zephyrs 3-2 for his second playoff win of the series.

Cubs Ousted

The Chicago Cubs got ousted quickly in an unheard of three shutouts as the Kansas City Royals move on to the next round. What happened to the Cubbies? Jose said it nicely, he forgot to set the pitching staff. I tend to agree as Sam Strittmatter probably should have been the opening starter in the series. One thing playing in KC, a negative home run park is tough on a line up consisting of power hitters. Though I am surprised that Nicky Sierra performed so well in game one. The one-two punch of Satou and Veras was too much for the Cubs pitching staff and the Cubs offense was befuddled by the steady off-speed stuff they couldn't hit.

Kansas City now moves on to Pittsburgh to take on the #1 seeded Pirates. Don't expect three shutout victories by the Royals there. Though IMO there could be four 1-run games in this series.