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