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)
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

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)
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

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)
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

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)
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

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)
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

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)
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

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)
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

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
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

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
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

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
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

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
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

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
View Hardball Dynasty Profile
Erubiel Martin
Age: 29B/T: L/L
Born: Saluda, SC
Position(s): CF/1B/OF
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

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
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

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)
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

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)
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

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

NL North Preview

Rochester Big and Tall

Owner: ns220 (12th Season in Alexander)

Franchise History: 9 Division titles, 5 World Series titles

Last Season: 116-46, 1st place (for the 6th year in a row)

Notable Departures: The Big and Tall cut ties with several of their long standing stars, including Cy Young award winner Al Carreras, power hitting shortstop Harvey Young and reliever Gabe Douglass. As a result, Rochester will have 7 of the first 78 picks in the upcoming amateur draft.

Notable Additions: Rochester is dipping in to its deep store of farm talent to fill the holes created by free agency. Luis Lopez, who was strong as an injury fill-in last season, will return to the starting rotation; and the anticipated arrivals of Bob Holt and Jamie Risley 21 games in to the season will create new All Stars for Rochester at shortstop and catcher.

Outlook: The lineup will be strong, but Rochester's pitching will be its weakest in years. The bullpen lacks depth, and none of the starters can be depended on to go deep into games. Though a 7th straight division title looks likely, a significant injury among the Big and Tall hurlers would be tough to overcome.

Prediction: Anything less than 110 wins and a division title would be a disappointment.

Ottawa Rough Riders

Owner: Stitch01 (5th Season in Alexander)

Franchise History: 1 Division title

Last Season: 75-87, 2nd place (for the 5th year in a row)

Notable Departures: The big loss this offseason was Antoine Day, a nine time all-star, and perennial number one starter. Terry Pratt was also lost to free agency, but the Rough Riders had been transitioning the catching job to Rico Belliard so that's not as big of a loss.

Notable Additions: The team acquired Willie Tabaka as a good, low cost acquisition to solidify the bullpen.

Outlook: The Rough Riders are going young in the starting lineup, depending on youngsters like Nipsy LaRocca (24) and Ryan Jennings (25). Catcher Rico Belliard (23) will take a more full time role this season. On the pitching side, Season 7 first round pick Dennis Duffy will lead the way. David Tejera will start the season in AAA, but may hit the rotation by mid-season. 22-year old wunderkind Candy Swann will also see some time in a middle relief role.

The Rough Riders are excited about the players in their lower minors. Peter Dorsey (19, Lo-A) can become the next Mike Piazza, Jamie Wilson (21, AA) can be an above average bat at 1B, Ed Reboulet (22, Hi-A) can be a starter in LF, and they have a number of candidates for the SS spot. A future closer is in Lo-A, Esmailyan Sierra (19).

Prediction: Another second place finish looks likely, as Ottawa should finish around .500.

New York new york

Owner: joshcarolina (12th Season in Alexander)

Franchise History: 1 Division title

Last Season: 71-91, 3rd place (for the 5th year in a row)

Notable Departures: Speedster and long time centerfield fixture Bonk Alexander was let go, after disappointing for several seasons. RF Lonnie Milton never panned out and the team did not attempt to resign him.

Notable Additions: LF Dion Lane was signed to a 5 year/$46 Million contract to provide some pop. The New York Nine are hopeful that season 12 will look more like season 10 than season 11.

Outlook: The Gotham club will be leaning on three players entering their prime to carry the load this season. David Valenzuela, Lazy Stern and Hiram Chang are all 27, and should have breakout seasons. Adding Dion Lane and moving two-time All-Star Dean Brown to CF should make the lineup formidable.

Unfortunately, the pitching staff will not be up to the challenge. Despite the addition of Type A free agent Gabe Douglass, and though Shea Stadium will show lower than average ERAs and WHIPs, the team will be required to rely on Del Rincon and Christian Gray, each of whom would be quite a catch, were it season 7 instead of season 12.

Prediction: Another third place finish looks likely, as New York should improve on its win total from last season, but fall short of .500.

Montreal Canadiens

Owner: funk police (12th Season in Alexander)

Franchise History: 1 playoff appearance

Last Season: 64-98, 4th place (for the 6th year in a row)

Notable Departures: None.

Notable Additions: Shane McCartin was signed to help fill out the rotation.

Outlook: The Canadiens will be bringing back essentially the same club as season 11, which is not a good sign for our friends up north. Neither the pitching nor the lineup will be in a position to compete. The Canadiens are trying to hold on until their recent draft picks, highlighted by future All-Star Al Wheat, are ready for the majors.

Prediction: Barring a complete collapse of one of the other teams in the division, this team will be in the basement once more.

AL North : New York Juicers

Its been a pretty quiet off season for that other new york franchise. Jason Baez was a big ordeal for them to re-sign and they did it for 2 yrs 7.5 mill for each year.This was a smart move for New York since Baez is their highest rated player but is aging, he will provide a solid closing option for them on the mound.Another high priority was to get their starting outfield back in tact from last year which meant having to sign switch hitting Doug Zoltan at a hefty 5.2 mill for 2 yrs.The Juicers are hoping that he gets back to his old offensive ways since slumping since his arrival at the big apple.Media has been a distraction he claims but vows to be worth the value of his contract the next two seasons.

Ralph Blake was brought up this year for setup help and is a already a major addition to the bullpen and he is just getting started.He was rushed up through the minor leagues and is ready to start making a major league career and name for himself after being a whatif compound hometown guy from Florence,Ky .He could be a special fav of developers but only time will tell. Also Alex Irabu was acquired and brought up to earn some ML at bats to prep him for his career, along with POWER hitting catcher Sammy Tarasco who may be a huge difference maker for this franchise in the long run if he can live up to his ratings.

New york Juicers have been a bad franchise since depleting their roster after division title in season 1. Owner atrain33 has been at the helm for 6 previous seasons and looks to finally have whipped them into shape after coaching them to their best season since season one, 1 game under .500,New York will have to wait and see if Tarasco's power can motor them past Iowa City to get out of the cellar this season.I doubt it can happen but the good news is next season their best prospect blossoms and will be ready to take on the blood sweat and tears of this franchise, Ismael Santiago , looks to be a great player at shortstop and will be a contributor one day. I feel they need another big bat beyond Hector Beltran ,besides the fact this guy is one of the best in the league i dont think he has enough help and will not be able to carry this franchise on his back this season. Theo Nicholson is their best returning pitcher and is a young gun in this league who looks to be a major weapon in the future!

My prediction : 4th in the AL north

AL NORTH : Spotlight Iowa City Black Hawks

Iowa City did some good things for their organization since leaving the field in season 11.They added talent in free agency during the playoffs and freed up a lot of cash in the process all the while getting younger.In the infield the Black Hawks promoted Tex Parnell looking for some power and good defense along with Ricky Sinclair at 2nd base. Pitching went well for the franchise in the off season they revamped their pitching and made it better with additions of Shawn Bradford to the rotation and Kyle West . Gerald Wang and Charles Yamaguchi ,the asian connection, were added to the the bullpen for long relief help .This definitely makes this pitching squad better than last years.This should be much needed help for the ace lefty and up and comer and last years Rookie of the Year Cristobal Lee . As for the outfield this group is one of the best in the division, in my opinion Hideki Lee is a great bat that leads this young and talented outfield,he is accompanied by Larry Richard and Albert Sivilla ,which are sure to create some runs for the Iowa city franchise this season.

This team is starting to come of age from past drafts, they promoted 4 rookies this season and are still well stacked in AAA. Elmer Ellenwood is the best prospect in their system and 2 international free agents signed at $20 mill a piece are soon to come of age also in Pedro Marrero and Carlos Santiago .Its just a matter of time before this team gets their first division title. With cespencer at the helm this team is improving, they went to their playoffs under him in season 10 for the first time since season 1.Hideki Lee is their best returning bat and the young Eddie Marshall is their top starter to return he will be the #1 for this improving franchise! This team is also playing money ball with a payroll of under 35 mill i dont expect them to compete for title this year unless the offense really does well, my prediction 3rd in the AL North!

NL South Meet The Owners: grivfmd1 (Richmond Revolution)

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 grivfmd1, one of the most successful owners in this world. Grivfmd1 has logged 49 seasons at nearly a .560 clip, and amassed 5 world titles along the way. However, he has not yet taken the title in Alexander - something he will hope to address this season.

1) Where are you (what city) and what do you do? i.e. tell us whatever you would like to share with us about you

I am a reluctantly aging 58y/o MD. I own and run an in vitro fertilization (IVF) program in Grand Rapids, Michigan, hence my handle GRIVFMD1. I have 6 children and 2 grand children mostly in Michigan or Chicago.

2) Do you think your team is ready to reclaim the division title after yielding the title to Little Rock for the last two seasons?

Maybe - keep looking for that #1 shut down starter but not finding him.

3) What are your plans for Malcolm Young?

Malcolm Young and Steve Spence will likely see the ML club in "May".

4) How did you hear about HBD and/or WIS?

Stumbled across WIS - SIM baseball on many years ago. Have played HBD since 1st released - rarely play SIM any more.

5) What aspect of HBD do you enjoy the most?

Competitive juice - at 58, I can not do what I used to do and don't have the time (or necessary money) for competitive sailing (which I miss but have not done in 5 years). I don't trade much and mostly build from inside the team - draft slow development.

Monday, April 27, 2009

AL EAST PREVIEW PART 1: Pawtucket Patriots

Owner: Shucky: (2nd Season Alexander, 19th overall) .563 Winning Pct/9 Division titles (1 in Alexander)/2 Pennants (1 in Alexander)/1 WS title

Franchise History: .584 Pct/9 Division titles (8 straight)/3 Pennants/0 World Series titles

Last Season: 95-67, 1st place (18 games ahead), lost World Series in 5.
878 RS (6th AL), 692 RA (2nd AL), 99 "advanced wins"

Award Winners:
Al Carreras: Cy Young (1st)
All-Star (9th)
Mike Houston: All-Star (1st)
Orlando Perez: All-Star (1st)
Alfonso Borges: All-Star (1st)
Gold Glove (3rd)

Notable Departures:

Hamish Scoroposki
: The 37 year old closer did a passable job, but is coming off of a down year with a 1.40 WHIP and 8 blown saves. He was allowed to sign with Colorado as a Type B free agent.

Al Henry
: Surprisingly effective as a swing man with 66 innings of 1.25 WHIP ball , although he didnt pitch in the post season despite subpar stuff. He's still available as a free agent.

Tony James: Basically JAG out of the pen, not on the playoff roster, now a free agent.

Jose Pena: Effective setup man who was especially useful in the playoffs despite poor control throwing 9+ innings and allowing only 3 runs. Now in Durham

David Cruz
: Was subpar as a 1b/DH going .274/.328/.465 in 409 at bats. He was not offered arb and is a free agent.

Notable Additions:

Al Carreras: The reigning Cy Young winner (21-3, 3.51, 1.19 WHIP) gives Pawtucket a true ace and one of the top rotations in the game. For 5 years and $70MM he better be among the best pitchers in the league: 183 career wins and 3.16 career ERA says he will be

Tino Jackson: Journeyman reliever signed to shore up the pen, has always pitched slightly worse than his ratings.

Season Synopsis: With Carreras, Pawtucket has added a true top of the rotation starter to a very good pitching staff including all-star Mike Houston (14-5, 3.50, 1.16) coming off a career year and former Cy Young winner Rick James (15-10, 3.90, 1.21). Leading the league in run prevention is not out of the question. That said, while letting Scoropski depart was likely the right move, he was not replaced and the bullpen is shaky to start the year. Rafael Martin is coming off a great season and looks like the likely closer to start the year, and Kurt Mullaney is solid, but after that there are question marks. Given the strength of the rest of the team, this is likely an issue that wont be a problem until the postseason, look for Pawtucket to spend some of its $7MM remaining cap room under its league leading $109MM payroll budget to shore this up midseason.

The lineup is solid if not spectacular. This is a run prevention based team, and the defense is spectacular up the middle led by GG CF Alfonso Borges and SS Ozzie Yang, but these glove men are also respectable with the bat. Jorge Escobar was the Patriots most productive hitter going .298/.370/.548 in a part time catching role, but his glove and the departure of Cruz probably argues for more time at the DH spot. David Cortazar, Lou Gibson, and Bo Carpenter all hit 40 HR's and provide good power, but lack the on base skills of elite hitters.

Depth is a bit of an issue, C Jim Hoffman could step in from AAA should a C or DH go down, but his glove is a big question. A handful of pitchers, led by Chris Healy, can be part of a solution in the bullpen or fill in as a back end starter, but there are no players ready to step in from the farm and take a major role. Farm system resources may be a bit of a problem as Pawtucket looks to improve the team midseason given the lack of impact prospects.

Pawtucket will almost certainly be playing in October, and the addition of Carreras makes them very dangerous in a short series, even more so than last years AL champions. By the end of the season, with an extra arm out of the bullpen and possibly another OBP guy atop the lineup, this could be the favorite to represent the AL in the World Series. This is a team built to win now, and it will do so.

Prediction: 98-64, division champions

AL South Preview - Montgomery Maulers

Owner - zovakozi1 (1317-951) 9 playoff appearances, 7 division titles, 3 AL pennants, and 1 World Series ring

Major Losses - Yogi Lemon - huge loss in the middle of the lineup. Part of the Pedro Sierra trade.

Horacio Seneca - one of my favorite players. Has been money even though he has been in the twilight of his career. Very hard to replace.

Darrel Young - A solid #3 or #4 starter. Will be missed.

Anthony Pritchett - Very good young CF/2B. The addition of Vic Andujar made Pritchett obsolete in the Maulers plans.

Additions - Pedro Sierra - biggest addition to the Maulers. Hopefully will take me into the playoffs.

Vic Andujar - Great glove and range makes him my CF.

Davey Murray - replacing Lemon is not easy but Murray is going to try.

Prediction - 90 wins and no playoffs. (maybe next year)

AL South Preview - Jackson Rebels

Owner - grissom97 (2676-2994)

Losses and Additions - nothing to report for Jackson. They are sticking to their hand from last year.

Prediction - 94 wins 2nd in the division and a wild card berth.

AL South Preview - Texas Rebels

Owner - wizkid2407 (1328-1102) 7 playoff appearances, 2 division titles, and 1 AL pennant

Major losses - - a solid #3 starter now with Milwaukee.

- huge loss due to injury. Will be back before the playoffs but will be hard to replace and play without.

Additions - - major addition to the pitching staff. Day is in the twilight of his career but still a very reliable pitcher for another year or two.

- A favorite of Texas fans is back. In the twilight of his career but still a very good hitter especially in the playoffs were the durability will not hurt him.

Prediction - 95 wins and repeat division champs.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

NL South Meet the Owners: pieo (Wichita Wack Jobs)

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 pieo, a newcomer to this world, but certainly no stranger to WIS.  Pieo is a veteran of 22 HBD seasons, an occasional contributor to the HBD forum, and as you'll learn, hates the Yankees like the rest of us.  

(1) where are you (what city) and what do you do? i.e. tell us whatever you would like to share with us about you.
I live in Phoenix,Az and I am an account manager at a Credit Card Processing firm. I just celebrated 14 months sober in A.A. and I am a die hard NY Giants fan, and love all New York teams, except for the Yankees, whom I hate with a passion.

(2) Welcome to Alexander... what convinced you to join this world?
I joined Alexander b/c i love rebuilding projects, especially when I have complete reign of the finances, and this team meant all of those requirements.

(3) In your 22 seasons, have you ever taken 9 players in the Rule V draft? what's the rationale behind doing that this season?
I've taken 9 or more players in the rule 5 a few times, in fact in a couple days, in Sandberg, I'm about to take 15, and every time it's b/c there's not alot of Rule 5 eligible guys on my team that I feel are worth protecting

(4) You traded Rafael Quixote, who projects to be a legitimate ML bat for Trenidad Montero. While we all value starting pitching, why did you make this deal?
Rafael Quixote is alright, but I hate his batting eye and vs. R, plus I already have a great RF prospect, and I also got another good SP propect in that deal, Larry Lowell, and as you stated SP's are the most coveted players in the game.

(5) How were you first introduced to Hardball Dynasty and/or WIS?
A good friend of mine turned me on to HBD