Saturday, August 30, 2008

gdfan Interview

gdfan is manager of another one of Alexander's most successful franchises, the Pawtucket Patriots. Another original owner, gdfan has guided the Patriots to 7 playoff appearances, including a World Series appearance. The Patriots are the 5-time defending AL East champions, and with a 6-game lead on the Vampires, they look to repeat.

Q: How are you feeling about your team's performance so far this season?

Tough to be disappointed playing .650+ baseball. I only wonder how good this team would have been if Orlando Perez did not have a season ending(career changing) injury. While his replacements, Luis DeLeon and Neil Taylor, have been adequate defensively, the .270 OBP really hurts.

Q: Who on your team has been underachieving, and who has been overachieving?

Alfonso Borges, CF, has been the biggest underachiever on the team. After winning the AAA MVP, and the silver slugger last season in AAA, I expected much more from him offensively.

Catcher Mark Bell, a career .320 hitter, is batting .386. I guess he is the closest to an overachiever on this team. Hard to believe I try to trade him every season with no takers.

Q: What do you think your team's biggest strengths and weaknesses are? Have you made or do you plan on making any moves to alleviate those weaknesses?

The strength of the team is pitching and defense. We rank first in both categories. 5 very good starters and a very deep bullpen is the key to the team's success. Having Gold Glove-caliber fielders in the IF and CF makes the pitching even better.

The biggest weakness this season is the bench. The biggest factor was the injury to Perez. Now I have a great role player the last few seasons(Taylor) starting half the games. It really hurts when resting a starter. The bottom third of the order has a hard time getting on base.

There are some bats in the minors that will be called up for the stretch run.

Q: How does the Patriots' long-term future look? Is the future bright or are you in win-now-and-sacrifice-the-future mode?

The future looks great. Felix Duran, 3B, 32, and Mark Bell, 28, are the only starters over 27. The 4 top starters are 29, 28, 27 and 25. The minor league system has a quality prospect at every position.

We will continue to try and win now by trading prospects and signing type A FA. We will also look to the future by finding quality late in the draft.

Q: Who do you pick to win the AL this year, and why?

Well, if pitching and defense win championships I pick the Patriots. However, in HBD that isn't the case. The Montgomery Maulers have a great offense, so they are my pick.

Q: Who do you pick to win it all this year, and why?

I'll go out on a limb and pick Rochester. That is as good a team from top to bottom that you will find in all the worlds of HBD.

pengoman Interview

pengoman is in his sixth season as manager of the Oakland Acorns. He has one playoff appearance and one winning season during those 5 (going on 6) years. The Acorns this year are 16 games back in the NL West and 12 games back from a wild card spot. While their pitching has been mediocre, the Acorns' biggest problem is their bats, ranking 2nd to last in the bigs with a .688 team OPS.

Q: How do you feel about your team's performance this season?

Actually, I feel better about my team than I have in the past couple of seasons. While my record doesn't show it, I feel that I have made the turn toward youth and depth from top to bottom. The quick fix is to blow up your payroll and sign bad contracts to win now, I had some of that when I started, and have signed a bad contract or two myself. I believe I have cleaned up some of that and am ready to start being more competitive beginning next season.

Q: Who on your team do you feel has been overachieving, and who has been underachieving?

I think All-Star snubs Cleatus Mota and Vic Reynoso have really been my best players thus far. Mota has been rarely touched this year and I am impressed with his SV/SVO and improved K/BB ratio from last season.

As for the underachievers, while the list could be quite long, I would have to say, I was hoping for more out of Sam Hernandez than I have gotten. Hernandez has been a 1 fer 4 kinda guy with only small flashes of power.

Q: What are your team's biggest strengths and weaknesses, and do you plan on making any moves to fix those weaknesses?

I think I am a starting pitcher or two away from being a serious contender for the division, I like a few of the arms I have in AA and AAA. I think that season 11 will be a telling season for me, if this team can't compete for the division and have a winning record with the likes of Jeff Fischer, Brandon Watson, Harry Silva, Willie Duran, and Torey Gordon on the ML roster, I may have to rethink how to play this game.

Any moves that I make would make would be to fill a couple of holes for season 10's roster.

Q: How does the future of the Acorns look? Are you rebuilding or in win-now mode?

I like where this team is headed, I see ourselves being in the top 5 of this year's draft, but I think we can be a .500 team within the next two years.

Q: Who do you pick to win it all this year? Why?

In the NL I just see it being a horse race between Indianapolis and Rochester, for who comes out on top... in the words of Ric Flair, "To Be The Man... You Gotta Beat The Man" and right now the man is danmam and the Lancers.

As for the AL: while Pawtucket and Montgomery are strong and should be the AL reps in the World Series, I think Buffalo is just as good as the others on the road, and has a great record in extra inning games, something I think helps in close, tight games. Those are the type of games you see in the playoffs.

Friday, August 29, 2008

stitch01 Interview

stitch01 is in his very successful 2nd year as manager of the Ottawa Rough Riders, formerly the New Britain Smelters. The Rough Riders won 98 games last year and are on pace for another successful season, as they're 64-46 and hold a significant lead for a wild card spot. Key to their success has been the emergence of 2B Eugene Workman. After batting only .263 with 25 HR last year, Workman is batting .298 and has already hit 41 HR in 24 less games. The Rough Riders also boast a very solid 1-2-3 punch in their starting rotation, with Alberto Oliva, Antone Day, and Joel Rando all having great seasons.

Q: How do you feel about your team's performance so far this year? Pleased? Surprised? Disappointed?

We're about where I expected. We won 98 games last year with basically the whole core coming back and I think (hope) we've improved with our offseason moves. Last year's team struggled for the first 100 games or so then caught fire, I've been happy to see us click earlier this year. Alexander is a little bit of an odd league for me in that I have a very, very good team that has no chance of finishing closer than 20 games out of first. For the most part, the season is about trying to figure out how we can best put together a team that has a shot to win four short series and specifically upset Rochester and/or Indy.

Q: Are there any players on your team that you feel are really over- or underachieving?

We liked Eugene Workman and thought he would give us offensive upgrade, but we didn't expect him to be an MVP candidate with 40+ HR. We've been relatively happy with his defense as well. He sees most of his time at 2B even though he's more of a natural third baseman and has acquitted himself well. His acquisition was more dumb luck than anything. I think Wichita moved him for financial reasons and we had a cost-controlled good young player in George Fonda to replace Workman, so that trade came together pretty quickly. Our offense has actually regressed a little since last season, so Workman has been invaluable.

Joel Rando and Alberto Oliva have been, as you pointed out, two huge contributors. We didnt expect Oliva to be the Rookie of the Year last year and he's pitched almost exactly as well this year. Just attacks the strike zone, we're very happy with him.

Rando is a guy who had some trouble with the HR ball last year, which perplexed us a little bit. This year he's done a much better job with keeping the ball in the park and has been a legit number 2 starter who frankly should have made the all-star team over Antone Day. Going into the season he wasn't really in our long-term plans, but he pitched his way into them and we just wrapped him up to a reasonable long-term deal.

One final guy, a little under the radar, is Pascual Lee. He's currently on the DL but has pitched really well in every role on the pitching staff and given us some flexibility on a team with a lot of 1 inning pitchers.

Our biggest underperformer is Norberto Manzanillo. He's been a perennial all-star and has just had a terrible first half. We expect him to pick it up over the second half of the year. It's pretty important to us he retain Type A status, he's been playing better of late so we are optimistic.

David Penny has been a little bit of a dissapointment, although some of that may be our fault, he's being asked to leadoff and isn't a true leadoff hitter.

Ricky Jacquez hasn't blossomed yet like we hoped after his strong season two years ago, we expected some more pop. Norberto Marrero has played well in a platoon role and may start to take a little bit of time against RHP.

We still feel comfortable that all these guys will play to their true level once we reach the postseason.

Q: What do you view as your team's strengths and weaknesses, and do you plan on making any moves to eliminate those weaknesses?

The bullpen was and probably still is our biggest weakness. We have some decent pitchers, but dont really have the true lights-out closer down there nor do we have rubber arms. We've been using about 6 guys to fill those final three spots using the AAA shuttle, but we've had too many games where there are really only 1 or 2 guys who aren't too fatigued to pitch. Luckily our top three starters tend to go deep into games and Day is the definition of a horse.

We probably have already made our biggest moves to fix that. Over the all-star break we traded Charles Suzuki, a very good young pitcher, in a move that acquired Calvin Davis. We think Davis gives us a guy who can get K's, who can go two innings and who slots in well as our top set-up guy and can take pressure off the rest of the pen. Rafael Baez is taking Suzuki's spot in the rotation, he's a downgrade but he's serviceable as a number 4. Given we are completely playoff focused and I'm not sure Suzuki was going to start playoff games for us, I felt we had to make that move. Getting Pascual Lee back will help as well.

We're a little weak at SS/CF, we've been mixing and matching based on matchups. Trevor May has been having a really good year with the bat, but he's borderline in the field given his age. We'll probably look to make a waiver move here, we got Garrett Fox after the deadline last year and it worked out really well. We don't have a lot of financial flexibility, so we're going to have to get a little creative here.

Q: How do you view the long term future of the Rough Riders? Are they set to be a dynasty, or are you in win-now-at-all-costs mode? What, if any, is your plan?

It's a little bit of an odd position. It's an older team with a lot of talent and the true ace I think you need in the playoffs in Antone Day, who is 35. So that argues that you need to go for it now, and that's mostly what we have been doing. We gave up our first rounder last year to sign Terry Pratt, who I think was a perfect fit for this team, and the Suzuki trade I mentioned earlier was a definite go-for-it-now move. As long as we have Day close to his peak, we have a shot in a short series and we should take it.

The flip side is that, realistically, we're only going to be the third best team in the NL. So I think completely emptying the farm system to improve the team is probably not the right move, not a high enough reward. Our farm system is a little thin, especially with position players. I have not done a good job drafting the last two years, so we can't really afford to move any high-ceiling talent.

So we think the core we have is good enough to make the playoffs for the 3 seasons left on Day's contract. Out mindset is basically, how can we improve on the margin for a short series without giving up our top prospects? Realistically, we are going to have to get lucky in order to win it all with the current core so we need to try and start to rebuild the farm system at the same time. We very well may let Manzanillo go after the season and take the picks which will help. Our next draft is crucial, we absolutely can't have a third straight poor draft. I'm confident we'll get it done.

Q: Who do you pick to win it all this year? Why?

I can't pick against Rochester or Indianapolis so I'll split my vote between those two. Rochester has the most talent by far, Indianapolis has had good success against them in the postseason. Don't count us out in Ottawa though!

misterfresh Interview

Another original Alexander owner joins us today as we sit down with misterfresh, long-time manager of the Kansas City Fresh. The Fresh have never suffered a losing season, yet they've made the playoffs only 3 times in their 8-year history. They currently sit tied with 3 other teams, a game behind the last AL wild card spot.

Q: How are you feeling about your team's performance so far this year?

A: The honest answer is "disappointed". I returned just about everyone from a team that won 89 games last year, plus I added guys like Reid Glynn, Ray Tomko, and Carl Blalock (since traded away). I expected this team to have a shot at 95 wins. As is, I'm figuring that the last wild card spot won't be that competitive in the playoffs anyways and I am looking to future seasons (thus the trading of Wally Crespo).

Q: Who on your team do you feel is overperforming, and who is underperforming?

The list of underperformers is long: Louis Russell, Stan Dalesandro, Reid Glynn, Herbert Parrish, Edwin Lee, Vince Michalak... I've been pleasantly surprised with Leo Sparks and Trever Watkins.

Q: What are your team's biggest strengths and weaknesses? Have you or do you plan on making any moves to alleviate those weaknesses?

The major league team is pretty average all in all. The weakness I am most interested in correcting is minor league pitching depth. I expect to address it in the off-season and potentially in the draft next year.

Q: What does the long-term future of the Fresh look like? Is it bright, or are you only in win-now mode?

I'm in whatever the opposite of win-now mode is. I would expect that there is a fair chance that this may be the first losing season. As for the future, I'm going to have to find more pitching somewhere, but the future lineup looks extremely bright with the likes of Cole Gilbert, Morgan Reynolds, Flash Davis, Chuck Helling, Jimmy Grimsley, and Howie Hill scattered throughout the system.

Q: How do you see the playoff race in the AL shaping up, and why?

I think Wally Crespo improves the Honolulu franchise considerably, but I still think it comes down to Montgomery or Pawtucket. And from there it is a matter of philosophies... hitting or pitching? I'll take Buffalo, Charleston, and Colorado Springs to round out the playoffs.

Q: Who is your pick to win it all this year? Why?

I'm picking Montgomery. I just don't see how anyone can hope to stop Yogi Lemon or Karim Martin. Should Montgomery faulter, I'm going with Rochester... really went out on a limb there.

atrain33 Interview

atrain33 is in his 4th season as the manager of the New York Juicers franchise in World Alexander. atrain33's first move was moving the team from Philadelphia (where they were known as the Pheamsters) to Madison, where they were renamed the Hops. After three 100-loss seasons in Madison, the team moved again and are now known as the New York Juicers. Dating back to the days in Philadelphia, the Juicers franchise is now facing a 6th straight 100-loss season. However, all is not lost. During the run of major league futility, atrain33 has managed to assemble some excellent minor league talent, such as future superstars Emmanuel Machado, Hector Beltran, Joe Anderson, and Raymond Buckley.

Q: How are you feeling about the way the season has been going so far? Were your expectations higher than how your team is performing?

There is one bright spot in this season of turmoil... Jim Pickett, I can't remember my last 12 game winner. Somehow I feel excited for the future because some of the worst ML hitters in this world are getting it done, namely Sun Sakamoto and Timothy Mora. Both are terrible and are hovering around .250.

Q: Some have criticized your pitching staff, claiming that better pitchers are available and that it looks like you're tanking. Can you explain how and why you assembled your pitching staff the way it is?

NO, NO, NO. Look at my pitching staff the last two years. Besides Raymond Ryan, who is now a Pawtucket Patriot, there was no one with an ERA below 4. And that was by signing Type B free agents that never panned out for me. So this year I have bolstered up my pen with additions of Cristobal Guzman, McKay White, Theo Nicholson, and Willie Serra. My team will hopefully be around .500 next year with the call ups of Joe Anderson, Esteban Belliard, Hector Beltran, and Charlie Holmes.

Q: How does the long term future of the Juicers franchise look? What is your plan for the future, and when do you expect to be competitive?

As said above next year is the first year that the Juicers look to be called a ML team. With the call ups and the first pick hopefully locked down, maybe a type A free agent signing and more beneficial trades, the Juicers look forward to hopefully a playoff berth as improbable as the Texas Texas Rebels' last year.

Q: Who do you think will win it all this year, and why?

Ahhhhh, the wonderful NL, where the Ottawa Rough Riders are currently 19 games above .500 and trail Rochester by another 19 games. Are you kidding me? Once again the probable champion will come from the playoff series between the Big and Tall and the Indianapolis Lancers. But it would make me happy if the Patriots could win since I traded them my first pitcher that I fell in love with, Raymond "PUNCHOUT" Ryan. Speaking of players that are like sons to me, there will always be Lance Ponson. The guy played 21 years and kept on playing despite his almost daily lowering overall rating and fighting injuries in his last seasons. But then came a gift from the HBD gods, Lance Ponson came to be my rookie league pitching coach. I hope he can be apart of my big league system again someday.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

ns220 Interview

Today we sit down with ns220, another one of Alexander's original owners. ns220 is the owner of Alexander's winningest franchise, the Rochester Big and Tall. Even with three World Series championships and 8 playoff appearances in Alexander's first 8 seasons, the Big and Tall are on pace to set a franchise record for wins this year. With power at every position (8 players with 20+ HR) and three starting pitchers with sub-3 ERA's, the Big and Tall are a juggernaut in every sense of the word.

Q: How has the season gone so far for you? Is your team living up to your expectations or are you disappointed?

So far, so good. My teams are performing well at each level. My only frustration has been an outbreak of injuries. Despite that, my big league team is comfortably in first, and my prospects are progressing well.

Q: Who on your team is underachieving and who is overachieving, in your opinion?

My starting pitching is overachieving - My top 4 starters are a combined 52-6, which is absurd. On the other hand, my bullpen has been very mediocre. Not one of them has an ERA below 4.66 right now. I also thought that my third baseman, Denny Risley, would be better than he is.

Q: What do you think your teams biggest strengths and weaknesses are, and do you plan on making any moves to alleviate those weaknesses?

My biggest strengths are my starting pitching and my team's overall power. 5-time All-Star right fielder Damian MacFarlane is eligible to come off the DL, so he'll add another bat. Otherwise, I don't expect to make any moves.

Q: How is your team set for the future? Is your team set up to become a dynasty or are you in win-at-all-costs-now mode? What is your plan?

I always plan about three years ahead. My big league team is very young - of real contributors, only McFarlane, my catcher Ryan Andrews and starter Al Carreras are over 30, and they are 30, 31 and 30 respectively. I also have minor league talent ready to step in at almost every position, including several who should be stars (Bob Holt and Marco Taylor at AAA leap to mind). Barring catastrophic injuries, the Big and Tall should be in contention for at least the next 5 seasons.

Q: Who do you pick to win it all this year? And why?

I'd love to be able to say Rochester, but I have not been able to beat the Lancers in recent seasons, and until I do, they have to be considered the favorite. I think that I join all of Alexander world in hoping that Rudy Aldridge gets hit by a sim bus.

evancavan Interview

evancavan is another World Alexander original owner, having piloted the St. Louis Arch Angels to a World Series title and 4 playoff appearances since the world's inception. The Arch Angels are coming off back-to-back losing seasons and are sitting at 55-55 this year, 4 games back in the NL West.

Q: How do you feel about your team's performance this year? Are you pleased or disappointed?

A: Both, I wasn't expecting much. But I made enough moves I thought I'd be in contention for the division. Helena came out of nowhere this season, so I have been continuing to make moves trying to catch them. I'll have a better answer in a couple of weeks.

Q: Who on your team would you say is overachieving or underachieving?

A: Don Darnell is underachieving. He just looks like he'd be more consistent than he is.

Q: What are your team's strengths and weaknesses? Do you plan on making any roster moves to eliminate some weaknesses?

A: My most glaring weakness is starting pitching. And depth of pitching. I have made several recent moves to address the issue. Time will tell if they were good moves. I also have a power shortage, but that will have to be dealt with at another time.

Q: What is your long term plan for the Arch Angels? Do you see them being competitive for a long time or are you planning on winning now?

A: I feel like we are rebuilding with a young core of guys. The Arch Angels are now paying for the win-now philosophy of seasons 2-4. Hopefully we are on the right track. We are thin in the minors still, but a couple of decent drafts to compliment the young core of Major League players and we might be capable of upsetting Indy or Rochester.

Q: Do you think your Arch Angels can revive their season 4 magic if they can only sneak into the playoffs?

A: Anything can happen. But the season 4 team was a lot better than this team. Injuries that season had an impact on the record, and once the playoffs arrived, health wasn't much of an issue. This team doesn't have the offense needed to hang with the big boys.

Q: Who do you pick to win it all this year, and why?

A: No offense to all the great teams out there. But Rochester should be embarrassed if they don't win. The Rochester team is stacked at every position with two deep all-star talent. I suppose that means it's entirely up to the coach to get it done.

rokchalkbaby Interview

rokchalkbaby is halfway through his 2nd season as manager of the San Diego Surfers. Throughout its history, the Surfers franchise has been the definition of mediocrity, with only one winning season and two playoff appearances (both with a losing record). The Surfers appear to be stuck in limbo - due to their weak division, they seem unwilling to enter full-scale rebuild mode, and due to that unwillingness, they are left without a deep minor league system capable of propelling the Surfers to winning ways.

Q: How are you feeling about the season so far, and your team's performance? Were you expecting it to be better or worse?

A: Well we thought with the acquisitions that we made over the off season and the couple of pickups we had at the beginning that we might make an even better run at it this year then last. It seems that some of the guys got it in their head at the beginning that we were a shoo-in to the playoffs because of the weak division, and just didn't do much. Plus I made some bad decisions with playing a couple of guys maybe before they were ready, hoping to play them into their future role. We all made some mistakes this season but, you know, you learn as you go, right? I am hoping right now that we can just play like we should for the rest of the season and try to build on that for next year.

Q: Who on your team is underperforming, and who is overperforming?

Right now I think Craig Strong is really doing a lot more then we expected out of him. He is hitting a lot more homers then we thought we would get. Especially after last year when half way through we kind of sat him down to give some others a chance to show what they could do. At this point Craig has definitely earn his way back into the lineup full time. We really expected a lot more out of Joaquin Espada and Max Johnson. They are young and probably the pressure in the field has gotten to Johnson. At this point we are just hoping that he can learn out there and thus haven't moved him to third. As far as Espada, well, we have the hitting coach working with him day and night to try and get him out of this slump, we don't expect him to be a for-average guy but we did expect a lot more run production. Hopefully we will start to see him turn it around soon.

As far as pitching is concerned we are really happy with how Frank Rivera is pitching this year. He has showed us some really good stuff and we like where he is heading. We are definitely looking to him to be the ace for at least a couple more years. He says that he is feeling fine and we expect that he will help our younger guys as we bring them up. Unfortunately our bullpen is just not where we thought it was at the beginning of the year. It seems at this point that with the way that our middle infield is playing that we are taxing them too much. We expect the pen to be the type of guys who didn't strike you out but were good at putting the ball in play where we could let the defense work. Bad move on my part to not have the guys that could get that job done out there. We will correct that as we move into next year.

Q: What are your team's main strengths and weaknesses? Do you plan on making any moves to alleviate those weaknesses and try to make another playoff run this year?

It seems right now that we are going to have to make a fair amount of moves. We have a hole in the middle infield that we will have to fix. We like where our pitching staff is, but it could always be better. I think that we have all decided in this organization that we are rebuilding. It is something that every team hates to admit but at this point I think that you just have to face the facts. We are going to get very aggressive in the way of scouting and IFAs we are going to look to make the team younger as we do this. We still have a lot of dead weight in the organization from some bad moves by previous management. We are looking to drop that weight and start moving in the right direction. We think that our fans will understand that we need to make these moves for the future, and that they will continue to support us while we make these changes. We also need to focus on scoring more runs. Due to where we play we are looking for the type of guys that are straight bombers. We need guys who know how to place the ball were its needed. We are the type of organization that needs to move to the small ball. And I think that is where you will see the organization start moving to as soon as next year.

Q: What is your view for the long term future of this team? Are they built to be a dynasty or are you in a win-now-at-all-costs mode? What is your long term plan?

Well that was the issue last year. We didn't quite know what we had when the staff came in. We learned a little bit last season, made the playoffs and thought that maybe we just needed to retool a couple of things and that would be alright. This season showed us that maybe that was a incorrect assumption. So we went back to the drawing board early. Unfortunately you can't go back to the budget and say "sorry we need more in scouting". You have to move on from where you are and plan from there. I think that you will see a long term plan starting now, but definitely next year. We hope that we can still compete during the rebuild but we aren't looking for anything major til at least three years down the line. Hopefully you will then start talking about San Diego as a possible Series contender.

Q: Who do you pick to win it all this year, and why?

Well that is a tough one as there is still a lot of baseball to be played. I think you always have to look at Rochester as a possibility; they have great guys and somehow their GM is still able to keep the team young even though they are winning. I think we all could learn a thing or two from watching ns220. I think that Indy has a good shot at it, and that Montgomery could do it, maybe even Pawtucket. But if baseball allowed us to bet I would have to put my money on Rochester just because of the history, ya know.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

tbuddens52 Interview

This is tbuddens52's first season in World Alexander. After inheriting the sub-.500 Trenton Refurbished Pilots from old owner threester, tbuddens52 relocated to Charleston and renamed the team the Vampires. The move seems to have done the Vampires a world of good: after finishing only 80-82 last year, they are currently 64-46 and leading the wild card hunt in the AL. The Vampires' success can be contributed mainly to their pitching staff, 3rd in the major leagues in ERA, led by fellow $16-million-men Rodney Blauser and Cristian Gray.

Q: How are you feeling about your team's performance this year?

I'm very pleased with the Vampires so far. I expected to be in the thick of the playoff hunt all season, but to be almost 20 games over .500 has to be considered a small overachievement for my squad.

Q: Who do you feel on your team is underperforming or overperforming?

DH B.J. Frascatore is the team's MVP so far and the closest to "overperforming." For a $3M free agent, he's crushing, currently 4th in the AL in OPS. 3B Tony Park is a starter on the all-underperforming team. He got a big raise in arb and has gone out and posted an OPS over 100 points under his career average.

Q: What do you feel are your team's greatest strengths and weaknesses? Do you plan on making any further roster moves this year to help shore up those weaknesses?

Strength is definitely starting pitching. With Blauser, Gray, and Blalock, I feel very confident in a playoff series.
However, if one of them go down, my pen is very, very shaky and definitely a weak spot.

Q: Are you happy with Blauser and Gray's performances, given their large contracts? Or would you prefer that threester had never handed out those contracts, and you had better financial flexibility?

I'm happy so far. The contracts, while large, expire at the end of next year, when they will be 37 and 36 and probably hitting a wall. I figure I get the last few years of elite performance and then flexibility and hopefully some A/B compensation as they start to decline.

Q: What do you think of your team's long term future? Is the future bright or are you in a win-now-at-all-costs mode?

I'm geared for the next few years with the team as situated. There is some "younger" talent, but I'm in more of a win now mode for the next few seasons. By then the roster will be more mine than threester's and I can think about the future.

Q: Who do you pick to win it all this year?

I'm an AL East guy to the core. If it's not going to be the Vampires, I see Pawtucket over Rochester in the series.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Season 9 Draft Review - Part III (picks 21-32)

Starting with the 21st pick, the quality of the players in the draft starts to decline. There are few players available who will ever threaten to win MVP awards from this point forward.

21. Santa Fe - Lyle Dawkins - Dawkins is a solid right fielder with speed to burn. His glove is just adequate, and he will struggle to hit for a high average. However, he should become a solid starter down the road.

22. Colorado Springs - Ed Whiteside - Whiteside is a slap hitting center fielder, whose glove will keep him on the field. He lacks power, and will not make contact enough to win batting titles, but will be a decent top of the order player for the Field Mice.

23. Kansas City - Howie Hill - Kansas City continues its annual second basemen harvest. Hill should hit for power, average and draw walks. His glove is OK, though nothing special. His biggest weakness is his health, which could hold him back. He is also a hothead, who may get frustrated when things don't go his way. Despite that, Hill is a very strong pick by Kansas City.

24. Richmond - Steven Spence - Spence is a very good pick at 24, giving the Revolution a shortstop for the future. His bat will be above average for the position, though there are worries that Spence's arm strength may force a move to the outfield or the right side of the infield.

25. Las Vegas - Hank Jones - One of only two unsigned first rounders (along with Milwaukee's Gonzales), Jones could be a very good second baseman if he ever gets an offer of slot money. He can hit, though not with much power, and has excellent plate discipline. His range is outstanding for second, though he is otherwise average in the field.

26. Texas - Ismael Plata - Plata is another player who is listed as a shortstop, but simply doesn't have the range for the position. He should instead become a good third baseman, though his struggles against right handed pitching may result in a platoon role in the future.

27. Ottawa - Jamie Wilson - Wilson is a slugging first baseman who hits the ball hard with every swing. Wilson's uppercut swing doesn't result in many K's, but unfortunately, does result in more 375 foot fly outs to right center than scouts would like. Wilson is also a liability in the field. At pick number 27, though, he is a very good pick.

28. Montgomery - Brian Parrott - The Maulers went with the proverbial "best available athlete" in Parrott. Unfortunately, while Parrott makes good contact, and can draw a walk, he's best suited for the bottom of the order. Add that to his below average glove for left, and his ceiling looks to be as a 4th outfielder. His path is also blocked by last season's second rounder, Tommy Romero.

29. Buffalo - Fritz Gardner - The Blue have climbed the standings on the backs of its starting pitching, and went to that well again here. Unfortunately, unlike its current batch of major leaguers, Gardner lacks the control to be a consistent starter. Gardner already possesses a plus-plus 4 seamer, but doesn't have the other pitches necessary to overcome his lack of control.

30. Indianapolis - Harold Green - The Lancers clearly were fixated on getting a starting pitcher in the first round. A hard thrower, Green might fit in the back of the Lancer rotation someday, though his propensity to give up fly balls and a lack of stamina and durability will limit him. He would be helped greatly by a catcher who can talk him out of throwing his curveball and changeup, both of which are no better than high school level.

31. Santa Fe - Howard Wells - Though currently starting games in the Rookie League, Wells projects as a reliever in the majors. He has three plus pitches, great control, and throws as hard as anyone in the draft. Wells could become an old style two-inning closer for the Inferno.

32. Rochester - Clem Smith - Considering the success that the Big and Tall have had picking late in the first each season (see Jamie Risley and current Baptistas right fielder Doug Zoltan), the pick of Smith was a surprise. He is an adequate third baseman who will hit for power, but he does not have the upside Rochester fans have come to expect from their first round picks. Indeed, some scouts considered him little better than Tsunami third round pick Alberto Oliva.

Season 9 Draft Review - Part II (picks 11-20)

11. Jackson - Cy Turner - Turner is a contract hold out, but if he signs, he will be a major force. Similar to Rochester's Julio Rosa, he'll throw limited innings, but be dominant when he's on the hill.

12. St. Louis - Lou Jacquez - Jacquez is an interesting prospect, with a solid, but not spectacular bat, good but not great speed, and a great glove, but without the range necessary to play short or centerfield. He could end up being a top flight utility player in the bigs.

13. Augusta - Matt Waters - Waters is very similar to San Juan's Tim Presley, but with less power and fewer strike outs. An average bat against righties limits his upside.

14. Little Rock - Ben McCartney - McCartney is a prototypical one inning closer. He projects to have exceptional control and two plus-plus pitches. By Season 12, he will likely be pitching the ninth inning for the Radioactive Reindeer.

15. San Diego - James Lewis - Lewis has many of the same strengths and weaknesses as the #11 pick, Turner. With slightly less potent pitches, his upside is not as high, however. Still, Lewis keeps the ball down, and should be a #2 starter if he progresses as expected.

16. Milwaukee - Sammy Gonzales - We don't know much about Gonzales, but it doesn't much matter, as his agent, Scott Boras, is asking for the net worth of most of Milwaukee County as a signing bonus.

17. Baltimore - Ewell Romano - The Mets picked up a strong bat in Romano, though it is unclear where he fill fit on the field. He would be below average in right, but 22 year old Corey Guthrie is blocking his path at first.

18. Charleston - Clyde Hodges - The Vampires' unwillingness to spend on scouting came back to bite them by picking Hodges at 18. Despite three good pitches and great velocity, Hodges does not project as a Major League starting pitcher.

19. New York Break Your Backers - Dennys Hayes - The Break Your Backers have struggled in recent drafts to identify top end talent, but did very well here. Hayes projects as a workhorse middle of the rotation starter, who should be able to overcome average pitch quality.

20. Vancouver - Hooks Jackson - A clear steal at #20, but City Slicker management claims to have had Jackson at the top of their draft board. It's hard to believe them. He is very solid playing centerfield, and will steal bases. He will crush righties after maturing some, but will have to sit against lefties upon reaching the Majors. Some other teams were concerned by his lack of fire and a perceived unwillingness to progress through the minors.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Season 9 Draft Review - Part I (picks 1-10)

I am providing my draft coverage, based solely on my advanced scouting ratings and my opinion. Nonetheless, here are my thoughts:

1. Iowa City - Elmer Ellenwood - Ellenwood is a surprise pick by the Hawkeyes, overlooking sure fire SP Raymond Buckley and offensive star Al Wheat. Ellenwood will be an above average hitter, while being able to play shortstop at the ML level, but lacks the star power usually associated with a #1 overall pick.

2. Wichita - Curt Gabriel - An under the radar player (read - wasn't scouted by me) who has yet to sign.

3. New York Juicers - Raymond Buckley - Buckley was considered by many to be the #1 prospect in this draft. Strong armed with great control and 4 ML caliber pitches, he can dominate both righties and lefties. Buckley appears to be a Cy Young winner in the making.

4. Montreal - Al Wheat - After the Juicers picked up the best arm in the draft, the Canadiens grabbed the #1 position player. Wheat punishes all pitchers with a controlled swing that still generates a great deal of power. Add his tremendous speed and an already Major League caliber batting eye, and all the pieces are there for an MVP-type player. The only minus for Wheat are the health risks that may have scared off Wichita and Iowa City.

5. Helana - Chris Anderson - Anderson is a solid first base prospect, but going at #5 was a surprise. Many consider the eighth pick, Cliff Simpson, to be a better prospect at the position. Nonetheless, Anderson should hit for average and power, and his plate discipline will be a great asset.

6. Philadelphia - Juan Ramirez - The Wild Cat franchise, already under attack by other league owners for its poor record this season, did itself no favors by picking Ramirez sixth. While possessing the stamina and control of a Major League pitcher, he lacks a single high quality pitch, nor does he project to have the ability to be any more than a back of the rotation starter, at best.

7. Oakland - Dicky Robertson - Widely considered the top shortstop in this year's draft class, Robertson projects to be an above average glove man, while still providing the offense usually reserved for a corner outfielder. He's a very solid pick at #7.

8. Honolulu - Cliff Simpson - The Tsunami front office continues to collect fine talent in picking up first baseman Cliff Simpson. The best pure offensive player in this year's class, he should put up numbers second only to the incomparable Rudy Aldridge before his career is through.

9. San Juan - Tim Presley - Presley is a power hitting centerfielder who may instead play a gold glove caliber second base for the Baptistas. Presley's only "weakness" is an average bat against righties. However, his glove and his power make Presley a worthy top 10 pick.

10. Cleveland - Bob Dale - The Redlegs continued their recent trend of picking pitchers early by drafting the ironman reliever Dale. While some are concerned he might be like Season 7 reach Marc Lowell, Dale's superior control makes the comparison invalid. Dale may have some trouble against lefties once he hits the bigs, but both his pitches project to plus-plus at the Major League level.

Stay tuned for Part II, coming soon.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Season 9 Power Poll -- 60-game update

Led by speedy first baseman Otis Lowell and the pitching of Jimmy Springer and Al Carreras, the Rochester Big and Tall are holding on to the top spot in the Season 9 Alexander Power Poll.

The Big and Tall, with a league-best 47-13 record, earned six of a possible seven first-place votes in the poll. Season 8 champ Indianapolis Lancers took one first-place vote.

Springer is a legitimate pitching triple crown candidate, leading both leagues in victories (12), ERA (1.31) and is second in strikeouts (83). He's getting stiff competition from Carreras, who has an 8-0 record, a 0.98 WHIP and a 2.84 ERA.

Offensively, Rochester is led by Lowell's world-best .355 average, 31 stolen bases and 69 runs.

There was plenty of movement since the pre-season poll, with the Charleston Vampires and Little Rock Radioactive Reindeer making big jumps from 19 and 20, respectively, to 7th and 8th place. The Helena Loggers weren't even in the preseason poll but now finds itself in the Top 10, and the Pawtucket Patriots jumped from 9 to 4th.

Texas Texas Rebels appears to be the biggest disappointment, dropping from 5 all the way to 18th. The Colorado Springs Field Mice fell from 7th to 11th and the Santa Fe Inferno fell from 12 to 19th.

Indianapolis holds down the No. 2 spot in the poll, followed by Montgomery Maulers, Pawtucket and Buffalo Blue. Today's ballots were cast by danmam, pengoman, zovakozi1, grissom97, ns220, evancavan and psanders84.

The next Power Poll will be at the 120-game mark.


1. Rochester (139 points, 6 1st-place votes)
2. Indianapolis (131, 1)
3. Montgomery (125)
4. Pawtucket (116)
5. Buffalo (112)
6. Ottawa (105)
7. Charleston (100)
8. Little Rock (83)
9. St. Louis (77)
10. Helena (75)
11. Colorado Springs (66)
12. NY Break Your Backers (65)
13. Honolulu (53)
14. Baltimore (41)
15. Augusta (34)
16. Jackson (30)
17. Richmond (28)
18. Texas (26)
19. Santa Fe (25)
20. Vancouver (17)

Also receiving votes: Montreal 11, Milwaukee 5, Kansas City 3, Oakland 2, San Diego 1.