Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Season 10 - AL South Preview

Texas won this division by 14 games last season, and while Richmond looks to play catch up Durham and Memphis are keeping things in neutral. The race between the top two teams could become a tight one, so either owner may be looking to improve before the trade deadline.

Here are the team outlooks with last season's record, followed by offensive/defensive ranks and my prediction for season 10:

Texas Southfork Ranchers (Stewart_UK)
S9: 96-66, 1st place, lost to Ottawa in 1st round;
941 RS (5th), 832 RA (8th)
S10: 97-65, 1st place

Key Additions: LF Santiago Ordonez, RP Pablo Rivera
Key Losses: -

After five straight seasons finishing in the cellar, Texas won the division last season for the second time in franchise history. Now with a new owner, and change of venue, they'll rely on their bats once again to keep them atop the South. Ordonez is a virtual lock for 40+ HRs- he'll protect a potent 2-3-4 combo of Tomlinson, Torres and Camacho. These four will provide plenty of pop throughout the season.

There are some nice arms on this club, headed by last year's 18-game winners Felipe Garces and Kevin Lane. The starting pitching is definitely the strength as the bullpen is very vulnerable. Rivera has been handed the keys to the ninth inning which he hasn't done full-time since his rookie season, so keep an eye on how that pans out.

The Southfork Ranchers added to their 96-win team from a season ago without losing anyone important, so they are still the team to beat in the South. Barring any major injuries expect to see Texas continue their rapid turnaround with a second consecutive division title.

X-Factor: By the numbers, Ivan Hairston had the best season 9 of any pitcher on the staff. His continued success will be necessary to bridge the gap between a solid rotation and a new closer.

Richmond Zingers (hogan11)
S9: 82-80, 2nd place; 892 RS (9th), 793 RA (6th)
S10: 87-75, 2nd place

Key Additions: RP David Bonham, 1B/DH Felix Bard
Key Losses: RP Pablo Rivera, IF Brent Corsi, C Yamil Mesa

Replacing Mesa with Bard at DH might be a slight upgrade in the power department, but otherwise things look awfully similar to last season's 9th ranked offense. Reigning MVP Josias Cortez (69 HR in S9) is still the heart and soul of the Zingers' attack, with 2nd year CF Wayne Long adding some much needed pop after a 48 HR rookie season.

Losing Rivera to division rival Texas will be much easier to deal with if Bonham can be effective out of the pen. Former reliever turned starter Russell McGee had an impressive S9 despite going 6-8, but the Zinger's are hoping he can give them more than 131 innings as a starter (158 IP in S8 as an RP).

The staff as a whole is not going to shut many teams down, but probably won't get lit up much either. Without making any mid-season moves I don't see Richmond seriously challenging Texas for the division, but they may have upgraded just enough to be in the wild card race when the chips fall.

X-Factor: Opening day SP Steven Anderson is entering his third full ML season, and needs to step up if he wants to be considered the ace of this rotation. He's got good stuff, but must cut down on the HRs allowed to keep that ERA down (1.41 HR/9 in S9).

Durham Dukes (mazurkj)
S9: 58-104, 3rd place; 930 RS (7th), 1277 RA (15th)
S10: 54-108, 3rd place

Key Additions: -
Key Losses: SS Anthony Abercrombie

Not much has changed since S9, so Durham fans aren't overly excited going into this year. Letting Abercrombie go was a foregone conclusion as the compensation picks are more important at this stage to mazurkj, considering the Dukes' won't be competing this season. There's not a whole lot in the cupboard at this point either, so I'd look for guys like DH Stump May, 1B Kevin O'Connor, OF Andre Reese and P Ned McConnell to become available as the season progresses.

The Dukes' offense is based almost solely on power. They finished in the middle of the pack in AVG and OBP, but led the league in HR. They had five players, yes five, hit 40+ HR last season- the three mentioned above along with Doug Richard and Mike Griffey.

On the hill is where Durham ran into problems, finishing next to last in the AL in runs allowed in S9. There's only one pitcher who had under a 4.95 ERA, RP Ralph Blalock. McConnell probably has the best stuff on the staff, but will be coming out of the pen again despite his best season as a pro coming when he started 16 games in S8. With roughly the same pitchers as last season, there's little reason to believe the results will be much different.

X-Factor: Following in Bing Herges' footsteps, the biggest factor this season is GM mazurkj. With a $104M player payroll budget it's hard to imagine Durham rebuilding. But instead of getting some decent FA's to place around the team's core, Tom Baez and Mark Grace were signed in arb for $6.9M and $3.3M, respectively. That money should be going to other budgets towards building the future or good FA's to place around the team's core. We'll see which way they're headed.

Memphis Free Marketeers (billhowell75)
S9: 46-116, 4th place; 754 RS (15th), 1107 RA (14th)
S10: 50-112, 4th place

Key Additions: -
Key Losses: -

The battle for 3rd place will continue. But as opposed to Durham's route, Memphis is in a clear-cut rebuilding year. They had the worst record in the AL, and this year doesn't look much better. But there are some nice looking prospects waiting in the wings, which should make this team a competitor within a couple seasons.

The lineup is led by Spud Gilbert, who's been an All-Star the last two seasons. While young 2B Geraldo Rodriguez may be viewed as a platoon player, he has earned the right to be an everyday starter having posted a career .405 OBP.

Leading the pitching staff is... well, I can't honestly say anyone leads the staff. But SP Marc Elster is looking forward to his time to shine, which may not come until S11. I consider Albert Ordonez the best pitcher on the ML squad, which gives a pretty good indication of where things stand in Memphis.

X-Factor: For this one, I'm going with the budget. I didn't really think a budget could be the X-Factor either, but there's not much else. With the maximum put into the amateur draft, the #2 pick, and not much trade bait to land young talent, billhowell needs a good draft and possibly a big international FA or two. The scary thing is with such a small amount of attention paid to the Medical budget, you cross your fingers hoping none of their future stars go down with any serious injuries.

AL North and East

Team Previews

On rating teams I provided .5 points for a league average player and 1 point for an all star player. No points were awarded for below average players.

AL North






Syracuse snow belt

schedule1 *




Ottawa Braves

mmustain *




Cleveland Armpits

bxtxcx *




Cincinnati Panthers

tzentmeyer *




Syracuse (24 out of 35)

Offense (8 out of 10): Well the team will hit. Aurillia, while aging is still very productive. Is this the season who transitions to 1b full time? There really is no weakness here

Bench (3.5 out of 5): The bench players are all good defensive replacements and decent to good bats. Can’t argue with that.

Defense (3.5 out of 8): The team has good ss and 2b. The other skill positions are at or below average defensively. There is no real pitch calling catcher on the team, that may hurt. There are also several 2b and SS who will play out of position, so it is difficult to really rate this team here. If one of them ends at CF that would take the rating to a 4.5.

Rotation (4 out of 5): The rotation is very young. Schedule1 has reloaded this rotation for the long run. Matt Petterson looks like he will be very good for a long time

Bullpen (5 out of 7): Hawk Walker returns for one more season and will be the long man in the pen. I can’t figure out what Bud Collins is doing on this team. Marshall Hitchcock closing things out and looking cool.

X-factor-Who plays CF? There are several decent options here. So this player would be the x-factor whoever he is. Maybe Bernie Williams will put down the guitar and fill in for a season

Overall Comments: Syracuse is very good. They set the league record for wins in a season last year. I know this season will be seen as a failure though for Sched unless it ends with a WS trophy.

Prediction: 110-52

Ottawa (20 out of 35)

Offense (6.5 out of 10): Armas is a beast. Mathews and Batista will rake as well. The rest of the group is solid but not great. The team will hit well.

Bench (1 out of 5): McMurtry does not add a lot with the bat but neither did Charlie O’Brien. My big issue with the bench is it is all corner OF/1b types. There really is not back up player for up the middle and Mercado, Albert and Lane will need time off possibly about a combined 400 AB worth.

Defense (5.5 out of 8): The defense is at or above average for most positions. They will not give many away

Rotation (4 out of 5): Durability issues may force Ottawa to go with a 6 man rotation. They have the arms though to make it work. I am not sold on Steve Peterson though, he is going to struggle some. Then there is the reliable Roland Springer, just give him the ball.

Bullpen (3 out of 7): Depending how the rotation works out there are some potential IP issues. Several of these guys are going to be called on to pitch often and when they do pitch they won’t last long. They have good arms but not the ability to pitch enough or long enough.

X-factor- The Starting rotation is the key here. How long they go in game and whther they can go every 5 days will determine how far this team goes. They have the skilled players to win but will it come together? I say yes.

Overall Comments: This team is poised to make a step forward. They are young enough around the field and on the mound that they still have yet to peak. But they are in the same division as Syracuse and until someone knocks Schedule1 off it is still his division

Prediction: 93-69

Cleveland (16.5 out of 35)

Offense (7 out of 10): Offensively this team is primed to hit. Good players from top to bottom in the lineup led by Wendell Lambert. 9 of the 13 offensive players are making under 400K. That tells you a bit about this team. I would like to see Edge Stone given an increased role on this team.

Bench (3 out of 5): There are certainly plenty of options here. There is no true DH on the team so I assume the plan is to use one of the catchers as a DH, I do not think he is the best option though.

Defense (3 out of 8): The starters are all at or below league average. The range is mediocre and the gloves may cause some trouble. The replacements are all above average defensively so they should not lose it late. They may however cough it up early.

Rotation (1.5 out of 5) Victor Nieves is a beast on the mound and could challenge for a major award (he plans on displaying it is his living room window). Past him I see major question marks.

Bullpen (2 out of 7) Cesar Vasquez is the Victor Nieves of the pen. He will dominate when he is out there. Sadly those around him may hurt his chances.

X-factor- The GM. I would say the focus is squarely on the GM and his ability to get some pitching. This team has some great looking young bats and if they could be cashed in for some added pitching this team could challenge.

Prediction: 70-92

Overall Comments: Combine the defensive question marks with some spotty pitching may lead to some difficult stretches in Cleveland. The team will hit but in this division just hitting is not enough.

Cincinnati (16 out of 35)

Offense (5 out of 10): The offense is about league average. I see a team that was very good a few seasons ago and is now hitting the down slope. They also seem to lack power, outside of Don Smart who is cut from the Pete Incaviglia mold.

Bench (1 out of 5): The bench does not add much in the way of bats. They are mostly there to serve as defensive replacements. They have their strengths but the also have flaws.

Defense (2 out of 8): Neither catcher impresses much and runners will cut loose on them. I like Hugh Smith on defense in CF but short of him there will be a lot of missed plays, booted grounders and dropped flyballs.

Rotation (3 out of 5) I like Cerveza and Houston should be good but past them is mediocre.

Bullpen (5 out of 7): So here is the tough part. The bullpen looks very good. Sadly though you need your pen most when your starters can’t make it far in games because of performance or durability. In this case I think they will be pitching with a defecit often.

X-factor-Like Cleveland the GM is the key. I do not see this team competing but they do have some marketable pieces in the rotation and the pen. If they can be spun in an effort to build for the future it may be time to think about it.

Overall Comments: This team is the worst in the AL North, the defense is below average and the bats are getting old. This team will struggle to compete and may best be served by building for the future.

Prediction: 65-87

AL East







Louisville Sluggers

raiderzman33 *





Philadelphia Freedoms**







New York Crunch II

SyrCrunch *





Baltimore Inner Harbors






Louisville (22 of 35)

Offense (6 out of 10): Redding and Guapo are the true stars here. Past them are some decent bats and some not so decent bats.

Bench (4 out of 4): This bench provides a good deal of flexibility. A good defensive catcher who can hit some and some players who can play any position and ht some as well.

Defense (5 out of 8): I like Guapo’s defense I just don’t like how he calls a game. Vargas and Beltre both leave a little to b desired up the middle and may struggle to get to and hold onto all the balls they should. My assumption however is that Fujiwara is going to play SS, which takes away the prior criticism of the SS position.

Rotation (5 out of 5): 11 of the 13 pitchers have a stamina rating above 60 and 7 of them are above 70. This pitching staff is almost entirely starters! I like Gibbons best of all but really all of them are good.

Bullpen (2out of 7) I would really have to look closer at how this worked last year. It just seems so foreign to me to even try it. I count 2 true relievers. Ramirez is going to be very good.

X-factor- The pitching staff…see above

Overall Comments: I think raiderz needs to talk to the Cleveland GM about spinning off a couple of starters for some minor league depth. I like this team, they should make the playoffs.

Prediction: 95-67

Burlington (19 of 35)

Offense (6 out of 10) There are some really good bats here and they should win a lot of games with big run totals. Trevor Donovan is the big star here.

Bench (2 out of 5): Miller Robinson offers great value for his skills. Otherwise the bench is a few RF and SS. Not a lot of variety here.

Defense (6 out of 8) The defense is good enough to not cost ht e team games and from time to time win a game. I would however add that Caballero is not a shortstop and should not be played there. He makes Derek Jeter look like Ozzie Smith.

Rotation (3.5 out of 5): 8 players with staminas over 70! Is this the division of starters? You guys need to share these with the rest of the league. Actually after Mendoza, Perry and Slaughter there may be a reason why so many starters are in town. None of them may be able to do it too long.

Bullpen (1.5 out of 7): Harry Owen= Best reliver in the league

X-factor-Pitching. Past the top three guys in the rotation the opponents are going to see Harry Owen a lot. If he can hold teams down they will win their fair share. Really how the bullpen handles the demands of 2/5 of the rotation will determine their season.

Overall Comments: Can I have Harry Own? I have a man crush on him. He will pitch often and effectively. This team has a good mix of offense, pitching and defense. They should win and they should compete with Louisville for the division. I see Louisville holding on in the end though.

Prediction: 88-74

NewYork (17.5 of 35)

Offense (6 out of 10): This team has some offensive ability. They will hit and score lots of runs. It is largely a team based on team speed Coleride will have opportunities to drive in many runs.

Bench (1.5 out of 5): The bench is about speed and defense. They will all do their job and serve a role. Nothing spectacular but good enough

Defense (4 out of 8) I would like to see better defense in CF and Morgan really looks more like a 1b than a LF. Oddly, for a team built around running I think they may struggle shutting down other running teams. I like Mota a lot.

Rotation (2 out of 5): Yawn…7 starters with a stamina above 70. All of them appears to be league average or below. They will struggle as a staff in this division.

Bullpen (3 out of 7): Of the 4 members of the pen all of them are solid. They will do a good job holding leads that are handed to them.

X-factor-Speed. Will the focus on speed translate into more runners on base and more runs scored?

Overall Comments: The offense is interesting but the pitching is lacking. This team is behind both Burlington and L-Ville. Add a couple of starters and that will change.

Prediction: 75-87

Boston (16 of 35)

Offense (6 out of 10): Uhoh, 14 players on offense is the first thing I notice. Wilfredo, Cone, and Zero James make this an offense to watched. They will score many runs but are there enough AB for all these bats?

Bench (2 out of 5): The bench has many options, each for its own need. This bench has many interesting players. Each of them seems to do one or two things very well while having big weaknesses in other places.

Defense (4 out of 8): I do not like the catching defense and around the infield Stone seems the safest bet, depending who is at short. The outfield looks like it has 3 first basemen to choose from out of the 4 players listed as of.

Rotation (2 out of 5): A few seasons back I went after Antonio Zheng hard. I still think he could offer a lot to may teams. Sadly Boston doesn’t have enough Zhengs. This staff will give up runs and tax a short staff.

Bullpen (2 out of 7): I like Sampson and Morandini but after them there is not a lot to like

X-factor- The pitching staff. I do not think there are enough arms here to make it through the season. There will be some really taxed arms.

Overall Comments: This team has got some really bright spots but they also have some really ugly cankers. This is a team that may benefit from marketing some of its better young players to stock for the future

Prediction: 60-102

Monday, August 18, 2008

NL WEST - Season 10 Preview

Honolulu Electric Lizards : rougherpride (4th season)

Last Season: 98-64 (2nd)

Key Additions: Glenn Minor (FA)

Key Losses: Julio Rios (FA), Santiago Ordonez (RELEASED)

Outlook: After a miserable Season 8 Honolulu righted the ship to finish with a 98-64 record, good enough for a wildcard birth. Unfortunately some key losses and the emergence of divisional foes will make getting back to the playoffs an uphill battle in Season 10. Former Rookie of the Year Frank Sutton and Anthony Crespo head a good staff that will keep them in most games. 26 year old stud Dennis Hudson put together his second strait 40+ HR and 130+ RBI season and should be well protected with Clarence O'Donnell in the lineup. This team has all the makings of a playoff contender but the strength of their division may keep them out of another wildcard spot. Still the best players on this team are all still under 30 so the Lizards appear set for the future.

Fresno Farmhands : kmoyer (5th season)

Last Season: 65-97 (4th)

Key Additions: NONE

Key Losses: NONE

Outlook: After improving the team in each of his first 3 seasons, kmoyer took a step back in Season 10. A lack of any impact off season signings makes you wonder were this team is headed. Still Fresno does posses a nice mix of young and old players. Cameron Carter continues to improve but the rest of the staff is starting to show its age. Lead off man Lynn Rodgers should get plenty of chances to show his stuff but no one else in the lineup looks to get on base with any consistency. To make things worse for the Farmhands it plays in one of the toughest divisions. Some good youngsters wait in the wings, including Eli Trevino, but until they develop Fresno will struggle.

Tacoma Pixies : jakurus(10th season)

Last Season: 109-53 (1st)

Key Additions: Jerry Baxter (FA), Jim Walker (FA)

Key Losses: Max Feliz (RELEASED), Donnie Brown (FA)

Outlook: Tacoma captured its second strait WS title but the biggest headline has to be the loss of Donnie Brown. The good news for the Pixies, they were without Brown for the second half of last season and still managed to win another title. The bad news is, they not only lost Brown to free agency but he landed in the division! Everyone will be watching to see how jacurus responds without Brown leading the way. Jim Walker joins a still dominate staff and watch out for Alex Richard who looked impressive in a late season call up last year. The offence will be lead by last years All-Start game MVP Cristobal Quixote and should produce more then enough runs to keep the W’s comming. The loss of Brown shouldn’t be over looked but Tacoma is deeply talented and will compete for another title.

Los Angeles Knights : mrtheedge (7th season)

Last Season: 92-70 (3rd)

Key Additions: Donnie Brown (FA), Ted Walsh (FA), Brent Corsi (FA),

Key Losses: Alex Ortiz (TRADE)

Outlook: Donnie Brown, Ted Walsh… Take a couple deep breaths before you go on because the Knights staff also includes former Cy Young winner (can we please rename this the Donnie Brown award?) Luis Johnson, youngster Bobby Chance and all time saves leader Wills Little. Hopefully jakurus didn’t just stick his head in a trash compactor. The staff on paper appears to be the best ever seen and has turned the Knights into WS favorites overnight. The offense isn’t bad either headed by some very promising youngsters and longtime Knight Sherman Lawton. The loss of Alex Ortiz will hurt but the offense will produce enough to win and win often. If this team stays healthy it’s hard to imagine them not going deep into the post season.

NL SOUTH - Season 10 Preview

Tampa Bay Fighting Hamsters : mirky (6th season)

Last Season: 44-118 (4th)

Key Additions: NONE

Key Losses: Pat Murphy

Outlook: At first glance it may appear mirky is asleep at the wheel but don’t be fooled by the lack of off season acquisitions. The past several seasons have been spent gathering and developing young talent and it appears they are ready for the big show. Nineteen of the twenty five players on Tampa’s ML roster are 25 and under, with rookie of the year candidate Jeff Simpkins leading the way. The loss of last season’s HR leader, Pat Murphy via trade, shouldn’t have a huge impact on the lineup as this team is still loaded with power at several positions. Felipe Rodriguez could be a future all-star pitcher but the rest of the youngsters have a ways to go. Look for this team to improve but not compete for the division.

San Juan Wizards : patrickm885 (6th season)

Last Season: 81-81 (2nd)

Key Additions: Albert Javier (FA), Dick Jordan (RULE 5)

Key Losses: Timo Kondou (FA), Glenn Minor (FA)

Outlook: After winning the division and making the playoffs for the first time in franchise history during Season 8, the Wizards followed up with a disappointing 81-81 record and a second place finish. Still hopes should remain high in San Juan as large amount of young talent surrounded by some solid vets should have this team competing for the division again. Twenty one year old 2B Brad Terrell leads a slew of young talented hitters that will occupy the middle of a dangerous lineup. Pitching will once again be the biggest problem for the Wizards who lack a true #1 starter. The addition of Albert Javier should improve the team’s bullpen but many holes still remain. Expect San Juan to challenge Charleston for the division title.

El Paso Elephants : cshort13 (1st season)

Last Season: 65-97 (3rd) As the San Antonio Shadow Boxers

Key Additions: Brian Morris (TRADE), Fernando Zapata (WAIVERS), Darwin Meyers (FA)

Key Losses: Kris Richardson (RELEASED), Albert Lane (FA), Hunter Donatello (TRADE), Orel Spradlin (TRADE)

Outlook: First year owner cshort13 takes over a franchise that has seen five different owners and only one winning season. Much work needs to be done after last season’s 65-97 3rd place finish and it appears cshort13 is up to the task. Several moves have already been made letting the Ruth World know this he’s ready to start molding this team into a consistent winner. Player budgets have been cut, down 22 million from last season, with the money going to bringing in young talent for the future. The losses of Kris Richardson and Albert Lane allowed the team to cut payroll but have left the team without a star. Youngster Jimmy Hayes will have to carry this offense on most nights for this team to be successful. Rookie Eugene Wilkins could be a bright spot on a rather average staff. Don’t look for much ML production out of the Elephants this season but the future looks bright!

Charleston Charge : r0b0t (10th season)

Last Season: 83-79, (1st)

Key Additions: Mark Morgan (RULE 5)

Key Losses: Javier Terrero (FA)

Outlook: Don’t fix what isn’t broken. The Charge, lead by owner r0b0t, captured their 8th division title last season and made the playoffs for the 9th strait time. Few changes have been made to this lineup despite tying a franchise worst 83-79 record last season and falling out of the playoffs early once again. Still the Charge should continue to be the team to beat in the NL South. A powerful line up lead by Peter Belinda and the resurgent Alex Belliard will keep opposing pitchers awake at night (that is if imaginary baseball players sleep). Under 30 starters Danny Lennon and Rodrigo Gutierrez should lead a well balance staff into the post season for a 10th strait season. Despite the success in the division Charleston fans have to wonder if this team will ever repeat their Season 1 playoff success…

Friday, August 15, 2008

Update this!

As season 10 approaches it appears season 9 came and went without a single post.  Congrats Tacoma on winning its second straight World Series.  I will work on an update of some of the career stats but could use some help in keeping this going.

Forthcoming previews:
AL North and East- Briancampos

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The League's Predictions

Who will square off in the Season 8 World Series? Let's see what the owners of Ruth World think heading into the playoffs.
*Note that not everyone voted, and percentages were rounded.
Syracuse Snow Belt (73% picked to win AL)
No surprise here, Syracuse got the bulk of the votes for good reason. The top seed won 111 games through the impressive combination of the AL's most runs scored and least runs allowed. B.J. Karl will miss the playoffs, but I don't see that hurting the Snow Belt too much. Aurilia still leads an incredibly patient offensive attack, and late innings are not a problem as Hitchcock and the bullpen slams the door on teams. After a three-season vacation from the series, Syracuse has to be feeling good about their chances for a fourth trip to the fall classic.

San Francisco Flaxseeds (13.5%)
Like Syracuse, SF has been to the postseason every season and seeks their second WS title. They'll have to get past Philadelphia or Cincinnati in the second round, then probably Syracuse in the ALCS, to get that chance. Sammy Manzanillo has been watching the last 20+ games from the bench, so he should be well rested and ready to return to the 3-hole.

Philadelphia Freedoms (13.5%)
Big Trevor Donovan and crew wants to replace the bad taste left from last season's first round sweep at the hands of San Francisco. They're back in the postseason for the second time in their history after winning the AL East. But the injury bug hit knocking SP Tom Slaughter out for the season, which hurts even more in a short series. (I also want to give credit to desanders for giving an impartial prediction, he's the only owner who picked his team to win the pennant but lose the WS.)

Editor's Pick: Syracuse- this team's stacked. Tops in pitching and hitting, they're primed to make a run at another title.

Tacoma Pixies (50% picked to win NL)
Even scarier than the Pixies' 118 wins is that they actually didn't reach their expected win total (123). As long as you know who stays HIV-free, expect to see him in almost every playoff game. With a 3.07 team ERA, the NL's 2nd best scoring offense, and a record even better on the road, Tacoma's in good shape to reach their third WS in four seasons.

Chicago Boomtown (32%)
The three 20-game winners- Bryant, Walsh and Rando- combined for 921 IP, a 2.60 ERA, and a 75-20 record. They won't have room for error, as they'd likely have to go through the top two offenses in the NL to reach their first WS. But in the back of every Chicago fan's head lies our least favorite four words ... "Wait till next year."

Los Angeles Knights (9%)
Cy Young candidate Luis Johnson leads an impressive Knights club fresh off their second straight WC berth and a 101-win season. The offense is balanced throughout, but they'll really need to click in order to get past a new and improved San Juan team in the first round, Tacoma in the second round, and probably Chicago or St Louis in the NLCS. The pitching is strong enough to carry them if the bats can provide some run support.

St. Louis Armstrongs (9%)
The defending NL Champion Armstrongs are just as strong as last season, led by the top offense in the league and 3-time defending NL MVP Marvin Aurilia. They'll be without their CF and SS for part of the round 2 matchup with Chicago, but that shouldn't affect their potent offense. The top 3 SPs- Springer, Mendez and Franco- can be lethal, and will key how far the team goes as the offense will put up runs.

Editor's Pick: Chicago- sorry, gotta do it. Not just because I'm biased, but also because in a short series all you'll see is the three horsemen. It's tough to beat one of them, moreover all of them.

World Series Winner
So who do we think will take home the title?

Tacoma (42%)
Chicago (26.5%)
Los Angeles (10.5%)
Syracuse (10.5%)
San Francisco (5.25%)
St. Louis (5.25%)

The most common World Series matchup prediction was Tacoma vs. Syracuse (36% chose this matchup), with the Pixies picked as the winner in all but one of those matchups- I wonder who that one was?

Good luck to all the playoff teams, it's time to see who the Nostradamus' of the world are.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Pitching Staff Analysis

Now that we have 59 regular season games under out belt, I figured it was a good time to take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of each franchise's big league pitching staff. On top of that, I have access to data that isn't easily accessible through the game's UI and wanted to be able to share some of that with the world.

What does it all mean?

The Tacoma Pixies are a breed unto themselves. Their bullpen averages 6.26 IP/G and accounts for 76.3% of its decisions. This, of course, has to do with how the staff is setup to leverage the great Donnie Brown.

The bullpens of two teams in particular are severely hurting their teams' chances. The Tampa Bay Fighting Hamsters and the Seattle Mariners both have bullpen ERAs that are more than 6 runs worse than their rotation. Most of this problem has to do with the fact the average fatigue of their bullpen when entering a game is 53 & 36, respectively.

Aside from those two aspects, the data definitely shows the strengths and weaknesses of each club's pitching staff. Only 9 teams have a better bullpen ERA than their starting rotation. The average rotation goes about 5 2/3 IP per game with an ERA of 4.90. The average bullpen goes about 3 1/3 IP per game with an ERA of 5.60.

Since this was my initial post, it was a learning experience getting tables to format properly. As a result, the analysis was a little weak. Next time around, it will be stronger.

By the way, if you click on the charts, you'll get a more readable format.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The NL North- Chicago's domain for now

Chicago Boomtown (S7: 92-70 1st S8: 111-51 )
Shakazulu5- 7th season (5 first place); $85.4 M Player Salary

Key Additions: Fernando Ordonez (C), Javier Uribe (P), Ted Walsh (P), Keith Rando (P), Juan Bennett (2b), Robert Kerr (P), Kevin Perez (P),

Key Losses: Stew Grace (power RF, 38 hr, 101 RBI, due 4.1 M) John Banks RF (contact hitter, 300 ab s7, due 1.7M), Rabbit Buck SS( due 5.3 M, not worth it), Lonny Sinclair RP, Dustan Brown SP, Tommy Branson SP, Darren Burke SP

Outlook: Chicago was one of the most active teams in the league this offseason as he retooled his pitching staff and declined some options. Molitor and Durbin are almost carbon copies of each other on offense and are the keys to the defense as well. The key to the offense however is Matty Dotel. Dotel will be in the running for the MVP this season. The lineup as a whole is good but lacks a little depth, they will miss former Armstrong Stew Grace.

The rotation is where the biggest changes took place with three of last years starters being shipped out. Bryant, Walsh and Rando could all be in the running for the Cy Young with Bryant being the true team MVP by starting close to 50 games and logging over 300 ip. He likely won’t last over 5 ip in many starts but that’s fine because the bullpen is solid. There is not a weak link in the group. This is a strong team that retooled and got stronger. Shakazulu5, team owner, has stated that anything short of a World Series appearance would be a disappointment. He very well could get his wish. If it is going to happen though it needs to happen soon as the 3 best starters are aged 36,35,33. Two major parts of the bullpen are also on the wrong side of 35.

X-Factor: Closer Kevin Perez may hold the keys to the post season dreams here. He is 38 and has begun to see some performance slippage. If he can make it through another season like last year, or even better the season before, good things will happen.

Augusta Gnomes (S7: 77-85 S8: 68-94 )
Norbert, 8th season (2 first place); $98.6M player salary

Key Additions: Damian Gabriel (RF, promotion), Julio Johnson (LRP, promotion), Brutus Christians (LRP, Promotion)

Key Losses: None worth mentioning

Outlook: Augusta’s offense is decent. There are no standout MVP types but there are also no slugs. The two offensive keystones are 2b Don Livingstone and 3b Brian Morris, both of whom are 32. The one area I think this team could really improve is at 1b. At a position where most of the league has great hitters Augusta is relying on a mediocre Chad Holden. He is not awful, or even bad just not the all star caliber player other teams have. What is the biggest mystery to me is why the teams best hitter, Ron Blair, is sitting in AAA,

On the pitching side Mitch Fox and Tommy Olerud should be the anchors of a solid rotation. Sadly both are going to have a difficult time making a start every 5 days. Fox is actually set up as the long A right now. Wouldn’t surprise me if he replaces Russell in the rotation before to long. Another players to watch are Johnson and Calloway who, on paper, seem better than the current 4 and 5 starters, but a notch below Olerud. Past them however the bullpen is shaky and will struggle holding leads. One potential solution there is the reliable looking Dennis Simpkins, waiting for the call in AAA.

This will be a tough season for August, as they will struggle to match last years out put. I think there are some useable chips on this team and it would help them if they couls spin them off for some solid pitching prospects.

X-Factor: C Trevor Wilkinson will be asked to do a lot to keep this team together. He is a solid bat n the lineup and calls a heck of a game. How he does at both tasks may determine how successful this team is.

Portland Cannons (S7: 77-85 S8:88-74 )
Jway11- First season; $58.6 M Player Salary

Key Additions: Bryce Stewart SP, Felipe Franco CF, Danys Cortez, Tony Collier, Abdullah Barnes

Key Losses: None that I saw.

Outlook: Portland’s offense has got some pop. They will hit a lot of home runs as a team this season. SS Calvin Kline will be fun to watch. He is silky smooth in the field and his swing is like fishnet stockings, full of holes but always a sign of a potential round tripper. He has the chance of hitting 40+ homeruns but he may also bat under .225. 2b Matt Nunnally is the heart and soul of the lineup and will provide a veteran presence in the clubhouse. One of the big strengths of this team is defense with Kline and two other SS Bierbrodt and Kennedy all vying for playing time. Before the end of the season all will be playing regularly somewhere on the field.

The pitching in Portland is solid I count 7 above average starters on the major league roster with Lee(34), Latham (21), Riley(27), Duckworth(34), and Chance (23) being the best of the bunch. Duckworth and Lee’s health make the presence of Mordecai and Stewart important. Sherman is the closer but Gentry and Collier are all solid enough that they should get their chances.

Portland should improve on last year’s record and push themselves into second place. They still have a little ways to go to catch Chicago. There does not look to be much help available at AAA but there are enough young guys at the ML level to explain why. This team has a great core of players that in two season they should be taking the division from Chicago, who is aging quickly

X-Factor: Gail Latham is a special player and potential Cy Young winner in the future. He was a 15 game winner as a rookie last year and should be able to improve on that this season.

Montreal The Greenies (S7: 59-103 S8: 48-114 )
Wolvie14- 8th Season; $85.3M Player Salary

Key Additions: None

Key Losses: None

Outlook: The Greenies of Montreal are a team that can hit. They do not have a ton of power but they do know how to get the bat on the ball. Mark Perez and Ricky Kent are the best of the group and both provide the main power in the lineup. The defense is a a potential downfall for this team as there is neither an above average defender at SS or CF nor a bench player who could come in late as a defensive replacement. When they get to the ball they do a decent job fielding it, they just might not get to as many as the pitchers would like.

On the pitching side things do not look so good. One time phenom Josh Moore is the anchor of the rotation. Bill Harvey is decent but getting older and Yosida will be ok against righties but get pounded by lefties. Past them I do not have much confidence in the staff. Kiki Estalella may have the stuff to be closer as far as getting people out but he also has suspect control and has only averages 37 ip for the past 4 seasons.

Down on the farm Mark Patterson and Albert Cairo are ready to step up when called on however both are 3b and will be competing against each other for ab. Richard Lee is also eager to get the call and would provide that defensive spark the Greenies may need at ss. Travis Fiore is the most polished pitching prospect at AA but he would be better served learning to trust his stuff at AAA

X-Factor: The GM. The is going to be a long season in Montreal and there is nt too much hope at the AAA level. There are some good offensive players in Simms, Donald Lee, Piper, Peron, Prinz, and West who are all on the wrong side of 0. They are running out of chances and could help another team. The question to me is not should they be traded but instead what can Wolvie14 get in return.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

NL South Preview

Charleston has won this division the last seven seasons by an average of 17 games. Could this be the season that they are knocked off their perch? San Juan and the expansion Texas Blue Stirrup Stockings would like to think so. They have both improved, so at the least this season should bring a much tighter race to the NL South. Tampa Bay will continue their rebuilding efforts this season.

Here are the team outlooks with last season's record, followed by projections for season 8:

Charleston Charge

(S7: 87-75, 1st place, lost to New York in 1st round; S8: 82-80, 1st place)

Key Additions: SP Dustan Brown, SP Tommy Branson, RF Yamil Veras, LF Stu Nixon
Key Losses: SP Keith Rando, 3B Jerome Malone, LF Felipe Garrido, RP Tom Saunders

The Charge's pitching staff will no longer be led by Rando, traded to Chicago for Branson and Brown. These two will now head a reliable rotation that lacks in star power, but has plenty of depth throughout. Don't expect their pitching to carry them this season, but it will not hurt them either.

At the plate, Charleston is young but has plenty of pop. After C Desi Glynn's breakout season 7, they have a nice heart of the order including RF Alex Belliard and 1B Peter Belliard. Much of the other regulars are unproven, so it may be feast or famine on many nights with this offense.

Despite unloading a couple big vets, this division is still Charleston's to lose. They won't be flashy, but should win enough games to get an 8th straight NL South title. How far they go will depend on how consistently their young position players produce.

X-Factor: The pitching is deep, but not great, so if SP Orel Spradlin can return to season 6 form (15-6, 3.00 ERA), the rotation will be much more imposing.

San Juan Wizards
(S7: 74-88, 2nd place; S8: 79-83, 2nd place)

Key Additions: RP Robinson Frederick, 2B Timo Kondou, P Dennis Seabol, CF Jeremy Beckett
Key Losses: SS Sammy Bonilla, 2B Marvin Adams, SP Robert Kerr

The Wizards are hoping they're ready to leapfrog Charleston atop the NL South. Along with new additions Kondou and Beckett, slugging 1B Rob Adams will round out a potent top of the order. But the remaining five regulars have 5 combined years of ML service, so they'll need some quick development from these prospects.

San Juan's problem will be keeping the ball in the park, not especially easy in this ballpark. Frederick should add depth to a decent bullpen. Seabol will start the season out of the pen as well, but don't be surprised if he's starting before long. If Tomas Polanco can cut down the HRs allowed, he'll be a great complement to last season's breakout SP Brent Shields.

This division will certainly tighten up this season. The Wizards have a young team, so their ability to challenge Charleston will come down to them staying fresh and injury-free late in the season. If the division is tight, San Juan may look for a mid-season trade to bolster their pitching.

X-Factors: There are 2 here, 2nd year slugging LF Howard Mashore and rookie C Tarrik Holmes. Management is expecting huge things out of these two, evidenced by them being plopped into the #4 and #5 spots in the lineup; their ability to drive in runs can make or break this team.

Texas Blue Stirrup Stockings
(S7: 70-92, 3rd place; S8: 75-87, 3rd place)

Key Additions: 1B Julius Kiner, 3B Jerome Malone, OF Stew Grace
Key Losses:

Getting back to .500 for the second time in franchise history will be on the broad shoulders of this offensive attack. Adding Stew Grace (#5 career HR leader) will add some pop to the middle of the order, while Gold Glove CF Albert Lane will still man the #3-hole. This team will need to win some high scoring games to win consistently.

As solid as their lineup looks is as shaky as their pitching is. Young ace Danny Lennon will provide the only real trouble for opposing managers. Given their hitting and sound defense, they don't need to be great on the hill. But there are plenty of question marks throughout the staff.

More than San Juan, if Texas is in the midst of the division race toward mid-season they'll need to find more pitching to have a chance. Texas fans will certainly be entertained all season long with high scoring affairs, but may not be too happy with the results when all is said and done.

X-Factor: With the bats playing such a huge role for Texas, 1B Kris Richardson will need to forget a disappointing season 7 and put up big numbers hitting behind Lane and Grace for Texas to make some noise this year.

Tampa Bay Fighting Hampsters
(S7: 37-125, 4th place; S8: 42-120, 4th place)

Key Additions: -
Key Losses: -

The Fighting Hampsters will return many non-household names from a team that finished last in the NL in both runs scored and allowed. But they have improved each of the last two seasons, and Tampa fans are hoping that trend continues.

The bright spot of the Fighting Hampsters' lineup should be LF Hunter Hentgen, who hit well in his brief stint up with the big league club last season. Expect to see a minor league prospect or two come up and contribute at some this year.

Pitching will again be a weakness for Tampa, as they allowed over 7.7 runs per game last season. With some run support veteran ace Kent Sosa could be a 15-game winner, but he may be more beneficial to the club in reeling in a couple good young players if he's dealt to a contender at mid-season. Tampa Bay is looking to climb out of the cellar, but it won't be for at least another season.

X-Factor: 25-yr old SP Dave Thomas could develop into the #2 starter behind Sosa. To better their record from last year Tampa Bay will need two reliable starters, and Thomas looks like the best option.