Monday, July 20, 2009

HR poll

Here are links to the players and their stats so far:

Rudy Aldridge - ML years 12, HR 709, Age 33

Clay Tanner - 11 ML years, 613 HR, Age 32

Karim Martin - 11 ML years, 556 HRs, Age 30

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Season 12 NL Playoff Races

NL North - It looks like the Rochester Big and Tall will take the division crown again, for the 7th straight year. With 24 games to go, they lead the New York new york by 9 games. However, for the 1st time in recent memory, the Big and Tall will actually have to fight for a 1st-round bye in the playoffs: they lead the Houston Hope by only 5 games in the battle for the 2 seed. The Big and Tall's drop-off from last year (.716 W% to .609) can best be attributed by an underachieving pitching staff, especially former closer Vin Ugueto (3.45 ERA last year, 6.81 this year) and RP Bernie Bonilla (3.16 ERA last year, 5.75 this year). SP's Willie Santiago, Julio Rosa, Gabe Burks, and Jimmy Springer have also all posted ERA's above their career averages.

NL East - The Indianapolis Lancers have clinched the division crown for the 10th straight season, and have the 1 seed pretty much wrapped up as well (18 game lead with 24 to go). Their improvement can be attributed to a couple factors: Rudy Aldridge bounced back from a career-worst year to become an MVP favorite again, and several other hitters are having career years: Orber Estalella, Damaso Moreno, and Eddie Sterns. The 1-2-3 punch of David Lugo, Erick Sweeney, and Sam Stewart has led the pitching staff.

NL South - This is the tightest race of all divisions right now, with the Houston Hope leading the Richmond Revolution by only a game. Luckily, the runner-up will likely end up with a Wild Card spot. The Hope are looking for their 1st ever playoff appearance along with their 1st ever season above .500. Victorzhao has engineered an amazing turnaround from last season, when the Hope finished with almost 90 losses. 1B B.J. Frascatore has been one of the keys to the turnaround. He missed much of last season with a knee injury, but has come back strong (.325 BA, 36 HR). Juan Contreras has kept up his consistent production, and the rest of the lineup contains 5 guys batting between .269 and .317 with 24-37 HR. The bullpen has been rock solid, anchored by closer Davey Espinosa, who spent the last 2 years in AAA after being a highly-touted Rule V selection in season 7.

NL West - This is another division with a close race, as the St. Louis Arch Angels are leading the upstart Oklahoma City Outlaws by only 3 games. The runner-up has a shot at a Wild Card spot, but isn't a shoo-in. The Arch Angels finished with a W% near .600 last year, but are hovering around .550 this season. The drop-off is largely due to a struggling bullpen. Season 12 Fireman of the Year Hector Kieschnick has been unable to match last year's success, and Michael Glass has fallen off after a successful year as setup man last season. The good news for the Arch Angels is the top of their rotation will keep them in any playoff series, with Charles Suzuki and Mo Levrault having fantastic years. The Outlaws have caught almost everyone by surprise. This franchise hasn't had a winning season since season 2, but are poised to break that streak this year. The offense is led by season 10 Rule V pick Geraldo Nieto and Russell Yeager. The Outlaws don't hit for much power, but they find ways to get on base and score runs. The pitching staff is powered by Victor Jacquez, who has bounced back nicely from a 20-loss season in Philadelphia last year, Kyle Foster, and closer Ryan Michaels, who is a perfect 15-for-15 in save opportunities this year.

Wild Card - The NL Wild Card race is one to watch this year, with 5 teams within 5 games of each other, all battling for 2 spots. The Revolution have the top spot right now, and are looking for their 5th consecutive trip to the playoffs. Vin Estrada is 2nd in the world in saves for them, and Chris Myers has continued being a real offensive force. The Baltimore mets are 2 games behind the Revolution and hold the 2nd Wild Card spot right now. They are looking for only their 2nd playoff appearance since season 2. They're once again led by HR machine Clay Tanner and a great 1-2 punch in the rotation in Lance Coleman and Tony De La Vega. New York is only a game behind Baltimore. New York is looking for their 1st playoff appearance since their 6-year streak ended in season 7. A midseason trade that brought Zach Clemens their way has really helped the offense. Their pitching has been pretty mediocre, though Sid Erdos has been a bright spot. The Cleveland Redlegs are only a game behind New York. Edwin Parker, Sherman Nathan, and Brent Morgan will give the Redlegs 3 players with 40 HR, and P.T. Jimenez has been phenomenal this year (league-leading 41 out of 42 saves). Finally, the Outlaws are only a game behind the Redlegs.

Friday, May 29, 2009

NL West - Midseason update

It's been another crazy season for the doormat division in Alexander. And some interesting surprises along the way to this mid way point.

Oakland Acorns

The Acorns are still finding it difficult to produce wins at the ML level. A 33-50 record one week before the All-Star Break is making this reporter question his ability to predict the future. (84-78 good for 3rd in the West)

The Acorns management has not found the magic formula yet, despite bringing up future star Dicky Robertson. Dickey has struggled in his first 14 games... but not many rookies could handle the pressure fans are placing upon his shoulders. Acorn fans are tired of waiting for a playoff appearance. And rightfully so with underacheivers Harry Silva, Jeff Fischer, Louis Russell, and Eddie Bryant not meeting expectations so far this season. Here's hoping for a much better second half.

St. Louis Arch Angels

The Arch Angels are the model of inconsistency this season. Nothing seems to be coming together the way it should be... and the fans are blaming management for making poor decisions... despite leading the division. Management claims the liberal media is skewing the facts... but it's hard to ignore some facts:

Clay Edwards is having his worst season since he was brought up. And 3/5 of the rotation is struggling to put up wins. Ugueth Montero can't find the groove he was in last season, Joe DiFelice is just recently starting to show signs of being a dominate pitcher again, and Don Darnell is trying to convince the fans that last season wasn't a fluke... he has some work to do.

The bright spots - Augie Dorsey is holding his own as a rookie. Harry Milton is having a career best first half, and looks to be heading to yet another All Star Game. Mo Levrault is continuing to improve every outing on his way to another All Star game. And after last seasons devastating injury, Charles Suzuki has come back very strong this season - and looks to be joing Mo in the All-Star rotation.

Helena Loggers

Helena is disappointing if you look at the standings... but this team will make a charge. They are simply to good not to.

Erubiel Martin has struggled to find his power, but is showing signs of improvement. Howie Ward is having a rookie of the year type season... emerging as a team leader at his age is impressive. He may be the player Helena management looks to to get this team back on track in the 2nd half. Ivan Alfonzo is just awesome... he just craps consistency.

Helena's problem seems to be with the Pitching staff. A team era of 4.96 usually doesn't net many wins. Look for Helena to make some "adjustments" in the second half to try to ignite a spark in this team.

Oklahoma City Outlaws

While it's no surprise to anyone in Oklahoma.... this reporter is shocked, and impressed by the performance of the Outlaws thus far in the season. This roster of overachievers has been incredible. And they have shown no sign of letting up.

The Outlaws are finding ways to win. While no one man is leading the team... a true team effort. The effort is captained by Russell Yeager. Can Russell and his teammates keep finding ways to win in the second half? Oklahomans think so.

It should be an exciting 2nd half in the NL west... many variables are at play.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

NL East Draft Review

Disclaimer: My advanced scouting is at $16 million and my high school and college scouting are at $14 million each, so these might not be 100% accurate.

Boston Red Sox - The Red Sox had the first overall selection in the season 12 draft, and they went with SS Harry Porter. Porter projects as a future All-Star SS, but unfortunately their scouts didn't pick up on future Cy Young winner Jeff Muratore, who would've been a great #1 overall pick. Porter will play passable defense at short, and should post a decent batting average with 20-HR power. He also is a devil on the basepaths and brings all the intangibles with him. The Red Sox got Walker Jodie in the 2nd round with the 48th overall pick. Jodie's control is suspect, and he doesn't have a 2nd out pitch to go with his blazing fastball. He might end up as a back-of-the-rotation starter in a best-case scenario. The Red Sox got Arthur Reed in round 3 with the 80th selection. Reed is passable behind the plate and solid with the bat. Alex Swann and Josh Thompson, the Red Sox's 4th and 5th round picks, project to be platoon players at the big league level. The Red Sox got a solid 1st rounder, and picked up several more players that could help the ML club at some point in the next couple rounds.. Grade: A-

Baltimore mets - The mets chose Sam Adams with the 14th overall pick in round one. Adams will play slightly above average defense at SS while putting up solid numbers at the plate. He won't be a perennial All-Star, but expect to see him make it at least a couple times. The mets didn't have another pick until the 4th round, where they chose Alan Walton. He projects as a bottom-of-the-rotation starter in a best-case scenario, but he doesn't look like he's willing to sign. The mets' only other pick of consequence was Buck Walker, who should be a minor league innings-eater and possibly make it to the show. The mets gave away their 2nd and 3rd round picks when they signed Tony De La Vega and Alex Freeman. With only one selection in the first 3 rounds, the needed to make sure they made it count, and they did. Grade: B+

Cleveland Redlegs - The Redlegs picked CF Shawn Kaufman 21st overall. Kaufman projects to be one of the top defensive CF in the world, and he should get on base a fair amount as well. He struggles driving the ball, but his high contact percentage, solid speed, good eye, and excellent defense makes up for it. Sam Servais was the Redlegs' 2nd round selection. Servais, a switch-hitter, boasts solid power, but can struggle when he bats righty. The Redlegs' 3rd and 5th round picks, Edgard Espinosa and Jacob Nicholson, are fringe ML players. Overall, the Redlegs had a solid draft. Kaufman probably won't be an All-Star but he'll greatly help out on defense, and Servais could hit 20 HR in a platoon role. Both also have solid speed on the basepaths. Grade: B

Indianapolis Lancers - The Lancers started things off by grabbing Kris Alexander with the 31st overall pick. When Alexander arrived at camp, Lancers management was dismayed to find his durability much lower than what the scouts said. This is the 2nd time this has happened recently to the Lancers (Toby Watkins in season 10 was another example). Nevertheless, Alexander could be a long reliever or possibly a 5-inning starter when he makes it to the big leagues. The Lancers chose Jesse Treadway with their supplemental pick, 39th overall. Treadway's bat was too good to pass up, and the Lancers hope he can play 1B in the future, though his range and glove are suspect. The Lancers took Jeff Sele in the 2nd round. Sele is a catcher with a solid bat who might be headed to an AL team, because his work behind the plate leaves something to be desired. Highlights from the rest of the draft include Bip Witt, Miguel Pena, Howie Ponson, and Albert Presley, all of whom face an uphill struggle to make it to the show. Coming into the draft, Lancers management was hoping to draft a pitcher who could make it to the big leagues some day, and Alexander provides that. Plus, Treadway could be a steal if he doesn't hurt the defense too much. Grade: B+

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

NL East 1st Quarter Update

We're about a quarter of the way through season 12 in World Alexander, and the season is playing out about how I predicted it would in the preseason preview. Here's a team-by-team rundown of how things are going:

1st place: Indianapolis Lancers - The Lancers are sitting in 1st place with a record of 33-10. They've been firing on all cylinders so far this season, as they lead the world in ERA (3.43) and OPS (.921). The key to their offensive success has been the resurgence of C Rudy Aldridge. While Aldridge was no slouch in seasons 9-11 (he did win the MVP award in season 10), his numbers were below his career average. His numbers have seen an uptick in season 12, though, as he's batting .395 with 18 HR and a 1.266 OPS. Randy Newman (.386), Damaso Moreno (.373), Orber Estalella (.341), Paul Benjamin (.347), and Eddie Sterns (.322) are all batting significantly higher than their career batting averages, so it's unlikely the Lancers will keep up their world-leading .310 team batting average. The success of the pitching staff has been led by SP David Lugo's 6-1 record and 1.74 ERA. He's backed up by a solid relief corps featuring rookie closer McKay White (11 for 12 saves, 1.17 ERA), Josias Pena (2.75 ERA), Pedro Santiago (2.25 ERA), and Vernon Peterson (3.00 ERA). The team ERA may not stay all the way down at 3.43, but it at least has the potential to as many of these players have staying power. Look for Indianapolis to continue their success in the 2nd quarter of the season unless a major injury or two occurs.

2nd place: Cleveland Redlegs: - The Redlegs are sitting 8 games behind the Lancers with a solid record of 25-18, good for a tie for 4th in the NL. The offense is 10th in the world with an .815 OPS and the pitching has been better than expected, as they're in 11th with a 4.19 ERA. The team's defense has also been a great strength, as they're tied for 3rd in the world with a .988 fielding percentage. Edwin Parker has performed up to his billing as the team's top hitter, posting a .283 BA with 19 HR, which is tied for 8th in the world. Sherman Nathan (.327 with 12 HR), Brent Morgan (.285 with 12 HR), Hiram Tyner (.284 with 9 HR), and Hank Jones (.323 with 3 HR) have all performed admirably as well. The starting rotation has been much better than expected, with Dennis Gray and Jimmie Sosa both posting ERA's around 3, and Francisco Castillo and Barney Uribe posting ERA's around 4. P.T. Jimenez has been dynamite at closer (12 for 13, 4.08 ERA, the 12 saves are an NL-high), and Derek Ramsay and Brant Parker have been fantastic in making sure the lead gets to Jimenez. Overall, I don't think the first quarter of the season could've gone much better for the Redlegs. Their pitching is performing much better than expected and their offense is above average as well. I don't foresee this level of success in the next 40 games, mainly because I don't think their rotation can keep up this level of success, particularly the bottom of the rotation. However, even with a slight falloff this team should have a good shot at the playoffs, and with a top of the rotation as solid as theirs has been, anything can happen.

3rd place: Baltimore mets - The mets are 1 game behind the Redlegs and 9 behind the Lancers at 24-19. The mets are 15th in the world with a 4.50 ERA and tied for 20th with a .775 OPS. Their current record places them in the final wild card spot if the season were to end today. Their best offensive performer has been superstar LF Clay Tanner, who is batting .325 with 18 HR. Tanner has been backed up by a solid supporting cast, including Stan Damon (.299 BA, 7 HR, 11 SB), Alex Rivera (.305 BA, 7 HR), and Alejandro Reyes (.281 BA, 7 HR). The key to the mets' pitching has been their 1-2-3 punch of Lance Coleman (3-0 with 1.96 ERA), Tony De La Vega (3-1 with 2.86 ERA), and Bartolo Montana (4-4 with 3.51 ERA). The bullpen has been led by closer Kevin Wood (7 for 7 saves, 2.00 ERA). I think the next 40 games should be pretty similar for the mets. Placido Pena has performed worse than should be expected, so his hopefully improved performance should be a boost for the mets. The bottom of their bullpen hasn't performed too well, but that is to be expected as it's a weakness of this team. When half the season is done, I think the mets will still find themselves in the thick of a playoff race.

4th place: Boston Red Sox - As expected, the rebuilding Red Sox have struggled. They are already 23 games behind the Lancers at 10-33. They're 29th with a .704 OPS and 28th with a 5.55 ERA. They are also dead last in fielding, with a .963 fielding percentage. This young squad is led at the plate by Rule V pick Juan Jimenez, who is batting .315 with 5 HR. Another Rule V pick, Ronald Roundtree, is tied for 2nd in the world with 18 SB (out of 20 attempts). On the pitching side of things, the Red Sox are struggling as well. Not a single pitcher has an ERA below 4. The rotation is led by waiver wire pickup Robb Cedeno (3-3 with 4.42 ERA and 1 shutout), Rule V draftee Luis Bonilla (1-5 with 4.44 ERA), and Rule V first overall pick Charles Zhang (1-4 with 4.64 ERA). Jorel Marshall has been the most consistent arm out of the bullpen (4.11 ERA). Most of the rest of the pitching has really struggled. I foresee a lot more of the same for the Red Sox in the 2nd quarter of the season. Some of the players may be underperforming at this time, but not by much. There just isn't a lot of talent at the ML level for this franchise at this time, as they're in the midst of a large scale rebuilding project.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Milwaukee Brewers preview

The Milwaukee Brewers are coming off of their most successful season last year. They set the franchise mark for most victories, won their first division title, and lost a tough playoff series in the first round. A couple of late season pitching injuries cost the team in the end. One of those injuries was to All-Star Jamie Moore and was the main reason the team decided to let him walk during free agency this year. The team also let #5 start Magglio Polanco and closer Chris Scott leave via free agency. Because of those losses, the team focused on pitching during the signing period. After being outbid on the Al Carreras and Oswaldo Ferrer signings, the team went after several others. To replace Moore, the team got Freddy Dixon and believe he is better than Moore after last years injury. For the #5 spot, the team got Wil Rolison and the only question there will be if he can stay healthy. To shore up the bullpen, the team got Juan Diaz and Tito Wallace. Hopefully these new players can help improve the pitching staff from last season.On the offensive side, no major changes were made. Some role players were let go duing free agency but the main core is back to this top five offensive team. The main addition is the promotion of Robb Hughes and the team is not looking for much from him except for some solid defensive help. The team also locked up Dustin Buckley and Joe Halter to long term deals with the hope of keeping this great offensive team together for the next several years.In the minors, the team will be keeping an eye on their top pitchers from High A last year as the move on to AAA and AA. Hopefully this young group can provide some relief in the next couple of years.

Friday, May 1, 2009


Owner: mase4342 (3rd season in Alexander/60th overall)
.522 Pct/2 WS titles/3 Pennants/15 Division Titles (no titles in Alexander)

Franchise History: .425 Pct/0 playoff appearances

Last Season: 72-90/3rd place/23 GB
Runs Scored: 831 (7th)
Runs Against: 954 (15th)
Advanced W-L: 70-92

Award Winners: None

Notable Departures:

Wolf Baldwin: Jack of all trades who was below average, but could be below average at a number of positions across 450 at bats. He's lost a step defensively and remains unemployed

Matt Reames and Buddy Sikorski: Reames is an excellent defensive catcher who gave back a lot of that value with a sub .300 OBP. Sikorski lacks a dominant out pitch and didnt pitch up to his ratings. Traded for Spud Bennett and Howard Gibbs, who have mid-rotation and 4th OF potential. A very good trade for the franchise given their long-term focus

Rod Long: First Baseman made redundant by the return of Sam James. An AAAA guy, now in AAA with St Louis

Guillermo Sanchez: One of the better pitchers out of the Cubs pen last year with a 1.22 WHIP. Probably has reached the end of the line at 36

Key Additions:
Ernie Hammonds: Journeyman signed as a stopgap at 3B. Cubs are intrigued by his power potential in the cozy confines of Wrigley (5 HR through 11 games)

Todd Champion: Soft tosser selected in the Rule Five draft with a good assortment of breaking stuff and mid rotation potential. Will start working out of the bullpen

Grant Kapler
: Free agent signed away from Richmond to replace Sikorski and take the closer role, should be the best pitcher on the staff.

Season Synopsis

When Mase4342 took over the Cubs franchise three seasons ago, the team was in disarray coming off a 102 loss season with a $90MM+ player payroll and a threadbare farm system Mase has focused on reducing the bloated payroll (down to $51MM) and rebuilding the farm system (up to $38MM available to spend on prospects this season. The trade of Matt Reams and Buddy Sikorski is a move emblematic of the direction Mase is taking the franchise: shedding $7.6MM in salary while picking up two decent prospects for two decent players who will be getting long in the tooth by the time the Cubs contend again.

The farm is starting to improve. Curt Gabriel, a number 2 overall pick and future #2 starter, could be a factor as early as this season. Timothy Bowie , a number 3 overall pick, should be able to stay at SS and put up high .800 OPS while playing every day, which will likely force bonus baby Daisuke Nomo over to third base. Last years first round pick, Damon Darwin lacks dominant stuff but will be a #3 starter if he stays healthy. With another top ten pick and money to spend in the international market (where the team is gradually increasing scouting), the future looks brighter than the present.

This is good, because the present looks pretty bleak. Chicago was 15th in the league in pitching last season and will likely remain near the bottom this year. The loss of Reames, who made up for his weak bat with excellent game calling skills, will hurt here. Some help is on the way from AAA, and Kapler will help stabilize the bullpen, but the starting rotation remains long in the tooth and relatively mediocre. Trace Maranville (8-11, 5.02 ERA, 1.38 WHIP) may be the nominal ace of the staff where he slides in as a 4th or 5th starter on a good team.

The lineup is mainly made up of placeholders as well. Fernando Hernandez and Howard Cora are two nice up the middle players, but both would be better off playing more against lefties than full time. Rob Spivey (39 HR, .871 OPS) is probably the Cubs top hitter, but he's far from a true middle of the order presence. The Cubs will likely not be represented in the All-Star game again in season 12.

Mase took over a big rebuilding job in Chicago, and while the franchise is turning around, the major league team is still several seasons away from being competitive. Look for another long season in Chicago

Prediction: 71-91

Thursday, April 30, 2009

NL East Pre-Season All-Division Team

C: Rudy Aldridge - Aldridge would probably be the starting catcher for any team in the league, so he's the obvious pick for All-NL East catcher. He has won 7 MVP's and 11 Silver Sluggers and is an 11-time All-Star. He has 655 career HR heading into season 12 and a .366 career BA.

1B: Edwin Parker - Parker is a 3-time All-Star and also has a Gold Glove award to his credit. He's a consistent 50-HR threat and has 468 career longballs entering season 12. He'll continue to provide solid defense at 1B and a fantastic bat in the 3-spot for the Redlegs.

2B: Alex Freeman - Freeman moved from the Lancers to the mets over the offseason, but looks to continue his production in the leadoff spot. He was a 7-time All-Star for the Lancers and has 4 Silver Sluggers under his belt, but his .306 career BA, 209 HR, and 344 SB head to Baltimore for season 12.

3B: Jermaine Magee - Magee took Freeman's spot on the 25-man roster for the Lancers, but moved over to 3B to better suit his defensive capabilities. Magee is only 22 years old but could potentially be a perennial All-Star. He batted .333 with an even 100 dingers in the minors, and the Lancers hope he continues his success in the big leagues.

SS: Orber Estalella - Estalella is a 4-time All-Star and one-time Gold Glove SS for the Lancers. He was signed as an international free agent in season 4 for almost $15 million, and has provided the production the Lancers hoped for out of the shortstop position. He has a .306 career BA and 188 HR entering season 12.

LF: Clay Tanner - Tanner is one of the world's best power hitters and the division's best LF. He has won 4 Silver Slugger awards and 2 All-Star berths, to go along with his world-record 83-HR MVP season in season 9. He has a .284 career BA and 546 HR entering season 12.

CF: Garry Stankiewicz - Stankiewicz is one of the Lancers' longest-tenured players, having played at the ML level for them since season 1. He's got an impressive array of awards, including 7 All-Star berths, 4 Silver Sluggers, and 3 Gold Gloves. He's a member of the elusive 300/300 club, with 307 HR and 325 SB entering season 12, to go along with a .301 career BA.

RF: Stan Damon - Damon is the other member of the mets' stellar corner outfield. He's got 2 Silver Sluggers under his belt to go along with .292 career BA, 149 HR, and 123 SB. His value is aided by his ability to play every day, and at only 27, he's got a lot of games ahead of him.

SP: David Lugo - Lugo was the Lancers' 1st round pick in season 1, and has lived up to the pick fantastically. He has pitched at least 220 innings in each of the last 7 seasons, and has posted a 123-47 record and a 3.50 ERA. He's also won 2 Gold Gloves and been named an All-Star 5 times.

SP: Edgar Aguilar - Aguilar's low stamina has prevented him from being a mainstay in the Lancers' rotation, but whatever role he's been called on to pitch in he's been fantastic. He's had 3 seasons of 27 or more starts, and in each of those has posted an ERA of 2.95 or lower. He's got 75 career wins, 31 career saves, and a 3.37 ERA. He'll likely be a full-time starter this year, so he hopes he can repeat his All-Star performance of season 11.

SP: Lance Coleman - The mets traded for Coleman in season 11 after his insane season 10, in which he went 16-2 and posted a world-record 1.92 ERA for the Patriots. Unfortunately, he had elbow surgery in season 11 and missed almost the whole year. He's healthy for season 12 and is being counted on to be the mets' ace this year. He's got 2 All-Star berths and 2 Cy Young awards to his name, along with a 119-56 and 3.49 ERA.

SP: Erick Sweeney - The Lancers picked Sweeney in the 1st round in season 2, and he has helped solidify their rotation over the last half-decade. He came into the NL with a bang, making the All-Star team and winning the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year awards in season 7 with an 18-5 record and 2.18 ERA. He's come back down to earth a lot since then, but still has an 83-29 record and 3.61 career ERA. He missed the All-Star team the last 2 seasons but hopes to earn his 3rd berth this year.

SP: Bartolo Montana - 36-year old Montana seems to be getting better with age. After posting an ERA of at least 4.50 from seasons 4-9, he signed with Baltimore and seemingly revived his game. He posted a 2.70 ERA in 29 starts in season 10 and a 3.39 ERA in 30 starts last year en route to his first All-Star berth since season 2. His skill hasn't decayed much over the last few seasons so there's no reason to think he can't repeat those performances this year.

RP: Josias Pena - Both lefties and righties have a very hard time getting solid contact off Pena, but his mediocre pitch quality has left him somewhat vulnerable. Pena looks to rebound after a somewhat disappointing rookie year that saw him post a 4.69 ERA.

RP: Pedro Santiago - Santiago had a fantastic rookie year in season 10. At one point, he threw something like 27 straight scoreless innings. He finished with a 1.51 ERA and a sub-1 WHIP. Hitters seemed to adjust to him somewhat but he showed staying power last year with a 3.36 ERA in over 95 innings.

RP: Donaldo Mercado - Mercado's career as a great righty out of the pen looked to be in jeopardy after a sore shoulder cut short his rookie year, but he rebounded nicely and has improved every season. He posted a 2.88 ERA last year and is the Lancers' top setup pitcher.

RP: Carl Edmonds - Although Edmonds' control is lower than most ML relievers, his 3 plus-plus pitches and excellent velocity and splits make up for it. His low durability limits his innings, and he's looking to rebound from a dismal season 11. If he pitches up to his ratings, he should be successful.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Owner: McGupp (12th season in Alexander/26th overall). .507 Winning Percentage/2 division titles (both in Alexander)

Franchise History: .521 Winning Percentage/2 division titles/2 Wild Card berths

Last Season: 79-83, 2nd place (18 games behind). 758 runs for (6th) 795 runs against (15th), "Advanced Record" 77-85

Award Winners:
Norm Wheeler, All Star (1st)
Matthew Sellers, All Star (3rd)

Notable Departures

Matt Wheeler: The Seven time All Star with a 1.000+ career OPS is clearly on the downside posting only an .837 OPS. An original Moose, he's now unemployed

Ron Hernandez: Another original Moose who had become a liability first in the field, and now with the bat. Ron is also currently unsigned

Bosco Lewis Parttime catcher who moved on to Montreal, slightly below average catcher. Traded for third base prospect Tex Summers

Graeme Moore: Addition by subtraction as he was terrible out of the pen last year with a 1.52 WHIP and 5.30 ERA. The second piece of the Tex Summers trade

Key Additions
Bonk Alexander: Acquired for short money to boost the offense and compete for the leadoff spot. Has the speed for it given his 46 steals in 51 chances, but the sub .320 OBP from season 11 would hurt.

Willis Baker: Nice short money signing who can handle the hot corner and put up an .800 OPS with 22 HRs in Season 11.

Ismael Tavarez
: Former international bonus baby signed for $6.3MM coming up to man the SS position. Can handle the position defensively and shouldnt be a complete zero with the bat, should post a .700ish OPS

Season Synopsis: Augusta is a team in transition after four straight seasons without a postseason appearance. This move towards the future is best symbolized by the parting of ways with Wheeler and Hernandez, two players who had been with the Moose from the beginning and and are 1/2 in most offensive categories. It was clearly the right time to move on (neither player has been signed yet), but their departures represent the clear end of an era in Augusta. Meanwhile, the future isnt quite here as most of Augusta's top prospects still need more seasoning. So what's in store for Season 12?

The pitching staff should be solid. Wheeler (14-10, 3.91, 1.35 WHIP)leads a nice rotation backed up by Mateo Rojas and solid young starters Rich Heving and Fred Riggs. Sellers (2.09 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 30 saves in 32 opportunities) is coming off a dominating season as a closer although at 35 age and durability are becoming more of a concern. Paul LaRocca (1.27 WHIP over 73 innings) is an excellent setup man, and additional veteran depth in the bullpen with Mickey Gwynn and Ozzie Yamamoto provide good depth. The bullpen should be a team strength.

The problem is the lineup. Augusta finished 15th in runs scored last year, Baker and Alexander should replace Wheeler and Hernandez at much lower cost....but when you're 15th in the league upgrades rather than replacements are needed. Wes Rigby (.300/.391/.562) is a legit middle of the order hitter and, at 24, a building block. Glenn Morgan provides potential 40/40 power and speed. Beyond that, the lineup looks pretty grim and while Augusta is decent in the field, the defense isnt strong enough to make up for the weak hitting.

The future looks brighter for Augusta. The Moose are not built to win now and will find it hard to compete with an excellent Pawtucket squad. With the fourth lowest player budget in the league at $63MM, a full $20MM budgeted to prospects, and $11MM available under the cap the Moose will be looking to add to the development pipeline, especially on the pitching side. Sellers in particular seems like a good candidate to move at the trade deadline to further shore up the system.

The farm system is in good shape position-player wise. Bigby has already flashed all-star talent at the big league level while Tavarez (24) may merely be a placeholder for bonus baby Pasqual Castro (22) and former first round pick Matt Waters (23) coming off 1.000+ OPS seasons in up the middle positions in High-A. Trevor Donnels (26) is knocking on the door at Catcher, he'll only be able to hold up for 80 games a year or so but they will be All-Star level games. Wilfredo Guerrero (23) should improve on an already solid rookie year at the keystone.

Sometime a franchise needs to take a step back before taking a step forward, and Augusta will likely take a small step back in Season 12. The foundation to end the team's postseason drought is in place, but that end will not be this year.

Prediction: 74-88


SP1 - Eddie Bryant
Eddie Bryant
Age: 33B/T: L/L
Born: Arcadia, WI
Position(s): P (SP2)
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The Oakland Ace had his option picked up this season($17 mil), and is being counted on to win 15+ games for the struggling Acorns. With a young offensive lineup providing support, he may be able to reach this goal for the first time since season 8.

SP2 - Mo Levrault
Mo Levrault
St. Louis
Arch Angels
Age: 29B/T: L/L
Born: Grand Forks, ND
Position(s): P (SP3)
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Mo has emerged as the Ace in the St. Louis rotation. The crafty south paw is counted on to put up a 4th straight sub 4 era for the Arch Angels. Hopefully he can regain the confidence he had in season 10 with 17 wins and lead St. Louis to a 4th consecutive division crown.

SP3 - Joe DiFelice
Joe DiFelice
St. Louis
Arch Angels
Age: 30B/T: S/R
Born: Barksdale, TX
Position(s): P (SP2)
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Joe has been underappreciated, and under rated by GM's his entire career. But he keeps putting up the numbers. With a career ML era of 2.99, it's no wonder St. Louis is excited to see him back in the rotation for season 12.

SP4 - Ugueth Montero
Ugueth Montero
St. Louis
Arch Angels
Age: 32B/T: R/R
Born: Loma de Cabrera, DO
Position(s): P (SP5)
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Ugueth came cheap to St. Louis last season, and he promptly posted a 2.21 era in 25 starts for the Arch Angels. If he can stay healthy, he has the skills to flat out embarrass hitters.

RP1 - Hector Kieschnick
Hector Kieschnick
St. Louis
Arch Angels
Age: 23B/T: S/R
Born: Lubbock, TX
Position(s): P (ClA)
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Hector was another newcomer to St. Louis in season 11. Thrown into the fire in his first ML season, Hector compiled 50 saves with a 1.64 era on his way to winning the Fireman of the year award. This youngster looks to be a dominate closer for years to come.

RP2 - Calvin Becker
Calvin Becker
Age: 37B/T: L/L
Born: Downey, CA
Position(s): P (SuA)
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Calvin has been around, and while not as dominate as he once was, his experience makes things happen. Calvin is the anchor to the Oakland pen this season... and with his age, it may be his last.

RP3 - Wilkin Lee
Wilkin Lee
Oklahoma City
Age: 24B/T: L/L
Born: Mapleton, IA
Position(s): P (ClB)
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Wilkin slides into this role almost by default. The NL West is extremely thin on RP talent, and Wilkin's youth and upside makes him the best of the rest. If OKC can keep him healthy, he should be a force to reckon with for years to come in the Outlaw bullpen.

C - Tyler Monahan
Tyler Monahan
Oklahoma City
Age: 33B/T: R/R
Born: Laverne, OK
Position(s): C/DH
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In a division where defensive catchers ride the pine, Tyler emerges as the best of the offensive group. OKC is counting on him for another 1.000+ OPS season.

1B - Craig Strong
Craig Strong
St. Louis
Arch Angels
Age: 29B/T: L/L
Born: Price, UT
Position(s): 1B/DH
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By no means a dominate first baseman, it's just that the NL West doesn't have a dominate firstbaseman. Helena uses a committee to fill the role, if they ever place a player in the position permanently, they'd likely claim this All Division slot.

2B - Russell Yeager
Russell Yeager
Oklahoma City
Age: 27B/T: S/R
Born: Royal Palm Beach, FL
Position(s): 2B/CIF/OF/DH
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The NL West has several talented 2Bman, Yeager earns this honor with his solid glove and hitting skills. Look for Howie Ward to try to claim this spot by mid season.

3B - Norberto Manzanillo
Norberto Manzanillo
St. Louis
Arch Angels
Age: 33B/T: R/R
Born: Cartagena, CO
Position(s): 3B/RF
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This 2 time Gold Glover is aging fast, but still has better skills than any division 3Bman. Consistency has been Norberto's greatest asset throughout his career.

SS - Joe Roth
Joe Roth
Age: 24B/T: L/R
Born: Middleton, MI
Position(s): SS/IF/OF
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Young Joe is without a doubt the best SS in the NL West, and just a small part of the Helena youth movement coming of age. In his 3rd ML season, Helena management is hoping for an improvement in offensive production, and Joe is primed to deliver.

RF - Ivan Alfonzo
Ivan Alfonzo
Age: 23B/T: R/R
Born: Santa Teresa, VE
Position(s): RF/1B/LF
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Can you say STUD? Not only is Ivan the best Rf'er in the NL west, he's the best in Alexander... and he's only 23. You can almost hear his agent calculating the cost of this guy's long term contract.

CF - Harry Milton and Erubiel Martin - too close to call
Harry Milton
St. Louis
Arch Angels
Age: 29B/T: R/R
Born: Lasker, NC
Position(s): CF/CIF/2B/OF/DH
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Erubiel Martin
Age: 29B/T: L/L
Born: Saluda, SC
Position(s): CF/1B/OF
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Milton made the All-Star team last season, Martin didn't. Martin and Milton both made their way to the NL West last season from Rochester. It'll be a tight race to see who the best CF'er in the West is this season.

LF - Harry Silva
Harry Silva
Age: 22B/T: R/R
Born: Pueblo Nuevo, DO
Position(s): LF/CIF/OF/DH
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At age 22, Silva is entering his second season as a ML LF'er. He's got all the tools to be a Hall of Famer. He began his career with 32 rookie HR's, and figures on increasing that number this season. Silva is part of the solid 3 man core in Oakland that fans are hoping will turn that organization around.

NL South Meet the Owners: victorzhao (Houston Hope)

On the eve of the regular season, your NL South correspondent will bring you a series of Q&As that will introduce you to the owners of the NL South. Today, we bring you victorzhao (me), quite simply, the most electrifying performer in the history of WhatIfSports. What makes me so electrifying? My stunning success, witty banter on the world chat, and rugged good looks. Looking to absorb some of that magic and improve his own HBD abilities, shucky - who has never beaten me in a playoff series - sat down with me for a Q&A.

1. Tell us a little about yourself (job, favorite sports teams, hometown, etc.).
I was born in Shanghai, China and came to the States in 1987 (when I was eight), I've called Houston, TX home since then, with the exception of college and law school. As such, I'm a loyal fan of all Houston professional sports teams and all Duke (college alma mater) teams. Currently (never know in these economic times), I am employed as an attorney in Houston. My alias is my name - so that sort of takes some of the mystery out.

2. How did you get involved with WIS and why have you found it so enjoyable?
I rediscovered (underwhelming experience with the sim games around the initial site launch) WIS/HBD (along with shucky, a much inferior owner) when a couple of classmates from law school introduced us to the game, and have been hooked on it ever since. The enjoyment comes because I, along with most of the other owners here, am a huge baseball fan, and like other fans, have enjoyed pretending that we're running our favorite teams for a long time - this just gives us a terrific way to play out that dream.

3. Tell us about your franchise (and, specifically, your ML team) in Alexander. Strengths/weakness? Short and long-term predictions?
My team had no pitching and had never finished over .500 when i took over the squad last season. I addressed it last season through trades for MiL talent, the IFA route, and the draft. This season, I traded my top pick in the amateur draft last season for some ML talent, and was active in the FA market for ML pitching. In short, my biggest weakness was pitching, and I've sought to address it both at the major and minor league levels over the last two seasons. In the short-term, I hope to take the franchise to its 1st playoff in history this season, and of course, the long-term goal is always to build a perennial winner and have a better record than shucky.

4. You've made the playoffs 13 out of 16 years. Why have you been so successful and what advice would you give to other owners, especially first time owners?
My success (though no WS titles so far) has resulted singularly from the advice and tutelage I received from my (and shucky's) mentors in WIS, bjb2378 and pete0713. Without the two of them, I would be lost. The ability to bounce ideas and advice off of them, and off shucky, were invaluable when I first started. The best piece of advice is to find a mentor who is willing to help and bounce ideas off of. As is the case in life, without others, it's a lonely climb.

5. It is my understanding that you have had to buy several rounds of golf for your good friend shucky based on his whipping your tail at WIS. What is the total number of rounds you have (or will have) to buy? And, how does it feel knowing he got that elusive first WS title before you?
[Objection, mischaracterizes the evidence]
I believe i have purchased 2 rounds of golf, and owe about 5 more, due mostly to shucky's willingness to consummate blatantly lopsided trades with dubious owners like mrintegrity and loosecc, formerly in Squires. In all seriousness, it's great to have shucky around to share our joys and disappointments in HBD. Shucky getting the 1st WS (of many I hope) was painful - but I'm going to try my hardest to catch up.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

NL West Preview


OWNER: pengoman (9th season in Alexander)/ 24 total HBD seasons / .431 overall / 3 playoff appearances

FRANCHISE HISTORY: 2 division titles / 2 playoff appearances / never advanced past DCS / pengoman won the division in season 5 with an 80-82 record.

LAST SEASON: 70-92 / 4th NL West


Al Hall - Al wasn't a superstar, but he has been a big part of the pitching staff since season 8 for the Acorns. His age, and salary demands gave Oakland management cause to look elsewhere for pitching help. Al may regret listening to his agent who obviously overestimated his clients value on the open market, as Al remains unemployed 2 days before opening day.

Oakland lost a few other contributors, but nothing that will hurt the team. Oakland management was able to dump a lot of dead weight to make room for the youngsters in Season 12.


Jamie Moore - Jamie probably isn't a threat to run away with the Cy Young this season, but he has consistently been a competitive SP eating up more than 200 innings each of the last 3 seasons. A welcomed addition to the Oakland rotation that has been a wink link in recent seasons. Grade B

Kirk Morris - Kirk comes to Oakland after being released by division rival St. Louis. A solid defensive SS with occassional bursts of offensive poduction. He has the endurance to play 162 games at a high level, but he has struggled with consistency for the duration of his ML career. Oakland management hopes a new coaching staff will sort these issues out. Regardless, Kirk is an upgrade over last season's SS depth. Grade B-


Harry Silva - at 22, this youngster is destined to be playing ball on All Star week for several years to come. Oakland management is trying to figure out a way to wrap up Harry in a multi year deal before he opts for Free agency.

SEASON 12 OUTLOOK: Oakland will struggle to find wins this season because of a weak pitching staff. The Oakland lineup is solid, and should produce a fair number of runs... the problem is, they'll give up as many or more on their way to their best season in 5 years.

PREDICTION: 84-78 / 3rd NL West

St. Louis
St. Louis Arch Angels (NL)
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OWNER: evancavan (12th season in Alexander)/ 45 total HBD seasons / .531 overall / 23 playoff appearances w/ 1 WS title

FRANCHISE HISTORY: 7 division titles / 7 playoff appearances / 1 World Series Title

LAST SEASON: 97-65 NL West 1st


Orber Ordaz - inning eating pitcher who has struggled to break thru as a true top of the rotation pitcher. He was a salary cap casualty in a deal that brought Stan Dalesandro to St. Louis.

Walt Liefer - The second salary cap casualty, Walt was overpaid for his skills, and traded for Dalesandro in an effort to shed payroll, and upgrade at the SS position.


St. Louis had a mild, but productive off season. With a series of trades that cost them prospects Larry Lowell and Trenidad Montero in exchange for Rafael Quixote and Andruw Simmons. Then St. Louis turned around and dealt Quixote to Indianapolis in exchange for Fritz Gardner and Max Hernandez. So two marginal pitching prospects and a RF prospect that scouts believe will fail to live up to his full potential for Simmons, Gardner, and Hernandez. Grade A-

SEASON 12 OUTLOOK: St. Louis has done very little to upgrade their starting lineup. They added some depth to the bench, and brought in some future ML talent to develop. The only significant change to look for in St. Louis this season is the promotion of super prospect Augie Dorsey. Dorsey has the potential to be special, and with a strong supporting cast returning from last seasons division winning squad, Dorsey won't feel the pressure many rookies with his outlook are burdened with. Look for him to contend for rookie of the year.

PREDICTION: 99-63 NL West 1st. Not much has changed in St. Louis, still a young team with a solid pitching staff. No reason to expect anything less than improvement in season 12.


OWNER: rcf106 (9th season in Alexander) 37 total HBD seasons / .466 overall / 8 playoff appearnces

FRANCHISE HISTORY: 3 wildcard appearances

LAST SEASON: 88-74 NL West 2nd - Wildcard, knocked division champ St. Louis out of playoffs in DCS.


Other than a few aging players with diminishing skills, Helena lost no significant players this off season.


Bubba Magee -Helena shored up the pen by adding veteran journeyman Bubba Magee. Plagued by inconsistency his whole career, Helena hopes the role he fills here will provide him the parameters for success. Grade C+

SEASON 12 OUTLOOK: Helena didn't make a lot of moves, but with a young, and improving team, one could argue that there wasn't much to improve on. Led by a core of all-stars: Erubiel Martin, Ivan Alfonzo, Joe Roth, and Howie Ward Helena is in good shap to make another run at the division crown. If they fall short, it'll because they didnt address needs with pitching. Helena has some great arms, but they are built for the playoffs, to get through the regular season on top, they could use 2 more solid Starters and 1 more solid Relief pitcher.

PREDICTION: 90-72 NL West 2nd - wildcard

Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City Outlaws (NL)
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OWNER: Dufferman (2nd season in Alexander) 26 total HBD seasons / .425 overall / no playoff appearances

FRANCHISE HISTORY: 2 division titles / 2 playoff appearences

LAST SEASON: 73-89 NL West 3rd


Joaquin Espada - Traded to Boise, unfortunate departure, Espada added a great deal of value to a stuggling team. Fortunately, they added some nice pieces that may help make up for the lack of production at 3B. Grade C-


Cooper Buckley - a solid contact hitter with above average baserunning skills. Should help produce some much needed runs. Grade B+

Victor Jacquez - a young SP to add to the stable. Above average, but not an All Star yet. He should be good for keeping the bullpen fresh with good stamina and decent splits. Grade A-

SEASON 12 OUTLOOK: OKC is well on its way to rebuilding, it still lacks a good ML pitching staff. This reporter believes it is the weakest in the NL West. For that reason, they'll be a streaky team, ultimately having more losing streaks than winning streaks. Still a dangerous team capable of beating anyone.

PREDICTION: 71-91 4th NL West