29 January 2011
Minnesota has already signed 8 IFA's this season, including SS Juan Feliz... NL North is looking like it will be a bruiser this season, with Pittsburg, NY and Minnesota already reaching 10 wins... Several teams are waiting impatiently for 20 minor league games to be played so they can call up some youngsters while gaining a year in arbitration eligibility... All-time CAPRA great Brett Tracy finally hung 'em up.
Little Rock has come out of the gate with a vengeance. They are second in the league in both .OPS and ERA. If they keep this up, the Travelers may run away with their division... And no surprise to anyone, Anaheim is sitting comfortably atop the NL West.
Speaking of the Anteaters, Al Perez is crushing the ball (1.239 OPS) and is among the league leaders in several offensive categories... Sicilians Buzz Andrews is doing his best Brett Tracy impersonation (0.43 ERA)... and Seattle's Che Hasegawa is liking the NL so far (zero runs allowed in first 3 starts).
Vancouver's dead last in team WHIP and ERA. Their pitchers are getting hammered. Look for the streakiest team in the league to get hot soon.
22 January 2011
Minnesota North Stars (100-62)
Newcomers Darren Owens and Jorel McGlinchy should propel Minnesota into the upper echelon of NL teams. Explosive offense, air-tight defense and just enough pitching.
Pittsburg Typhoon (80-82)
Led by Christian Grim, Pittsburg easily boasts the best rotation in the division. Offense gets on base a lot, but the team is missing the power bats to drive them in. However, Pittsburg could be a dark horse come playoff time.
New York Yanks (80-82)
Zachary Grace and co. supply plenty of offense, rotation filled with solid innings-eaters. Unless ownership decides to hold a fire sale at mid-season, the Yanks might challenge for a WC spot.
Toronto Beavers (74-88)
Quietly picking up some quality players, but probably still a year away from making some noise.
Louisville Redbirds (96-66)
Trades two top pitchers to division rival which should make for a very tight race. However, with power hitters Lonny Murray and Don Barnes, Redbirds still have the best offense in the division.
Iowa City Tornadoes (96-66)
Led by Charlie Gulan, the Tornadoes boast a deep and tough pitching staff. NL East should come down to the wire.
Baltimore Boogeymen (76-86)
Boogeymen are putting together a well-constructed team, but could use another big bat or two.
Syracuse Sicilians (75-87)
A well-rounded pitching staff should keep them competitive, but lack of offense will likely hold them back.
Jacksonville Stonewallers (85-77)
Plenty of offense, but will Jacksonville be able to overcome a lack of pitching depth? NL South is shaping up to be a rough and tumble division this season.
Little Rock Travelers (85-77)
Led by Abdul Thomas and Ismael Guillen, Travelers are definitely playoff contenders. Look for the division race to be a nail biter.
Atlanta Aces (79-83)
The Hayes brothers (Rudy and Louie) should quickly become Atlanta fan favorites. Probably still a year away, but could be a surprise team this season.
Florida SunRays (62-100)
Looks to be a tough year in Florida, as the team continues to rebuild.
Anaheim Anteaters (102-60)
Is a repeat in their future? Led by Jose Sosa and Vasco Almonte, the defending champs own the best pitching staff in all of Capra.
Vancouver Maintaineers (92-70)
Big boppers Jimmie Franco and Tony Unanumo + a deep staff should return Vancouver to the playoffs and keep them within shouting distance of Anaheim.
Seattle Picards (91-71)
Led the league in OPS and underrated pitching staff finished second in ERA. However, holes in the defense may trip them up.
St. Louis Archers (76-86)
Beginning the rebuilding process as longtime superstars set career record marks.
NL North winner = Minnesota NL East winner = Louisville
NL South winner = Jacksonville NL West winner = Anaheim
NL Wildcards = Iowa City, Vancouver
NL Championship = Anaheim over Minnesota in 6 games
World Series = Cleveland over Anaheim in 7 games
17 January 2011
S17 was a magical year for the Picards as they won the world championship in dramatic fashion. However, the team returned to earth last season. While they still won 100 games, they lost the division to hated rival Anaheim and then got bounced in the first round of the playoffs. Much of the same group returns for another try in S19.
Expectations are high. Anything less than winning the division and a return trip to the World Series will be deemed a disappointment. And for this group of players, it might be their last chance to win another championship in Seattle. Big changes loom on the horizon. Several veterans’ contracts expire and/or club options are up next season.
C - Long-time catching duo Julio Concepcion and Blade O'Donnell are back for at least one more season. Concepcion (.305 avg) brings a solid bat and .obp, while O'Donnell provides solid catching behind the plate and excellent game calling skills.
1B – Hayes Corino may have gotten a late start in his ML career, but he’s making up for lost time. The S16 top rookie and S17 MVP won the silver slugger in S18 en route to another big campaign (.292, 48 HR, 131 RBI). The combination of prestigious power and excellent plate discipline make him a perfect clean-up hitter.
2B – Long time lead-off hitter Jim Heathcott (.362 obp) is finally starting to show signs of aging as his range and durability start to decline. With the team holding his option next season and prospect Virgil Canseco waiting at AAA, this is almost certainly Heathcott’s last season with the club. George Casian and his excellent glove will fill in when Heathcott needs a day off.
SS – After splitting time between 3B and SS while struggling a bit at the plate in his rookie season last year, young William Ueharra (.254, 18 HR, 66 RBI) settles into what management hopes will be a long run as the club’s starting SS. Rule 5 pick Jolbert Olivo provides some defensive support off the bench.
3B – Willy O'Connor will always be remembered as a hero in Seattle. His heart stopping S17 WS game 7, 9th inning, 2 out, 3 run HR forced the game into extra innings that the Picards eventually won in the 10th. Less well known is his steady performance as Seattle’s underrated SS for the past seven years. However, Oconnor’s coming off his worst season since his rookie year (.235 avg, 28 errors). With two years still remaining on his large contract, management is hoping he finds new life at 3B. Meanwhile, Aramis Granados waits impatiently at AAA for his shot at the big leagues.
LF – After cranking out 49 dingers for the last two consecutive seasons, fan favorite and S18 silver slugger Raul Costilla (.290 avg, 137 RBI) will be in the heart of the Seattle lineup once again.
CF – Yorvit Gutierrez (.311 avg, .369 obp) gives the Picards another dangerous bat to place at the top of the lineup. However, with a spiraling payroll budget and a mutual option for S20, this may be Guti’s last year with the club. Ismael Gonzalez gives the team a solid backup.
RF – 3 time all-star and former RoY Cesar Pulido had an off year at the plate last year despite hitting 47 HR (.237 avg). Just about to enter the prime of his career, the Picards are hoping for some big numbers from him in S19.
SP – The rotation may lack a true ace, but David Armas (1.08 WHIP, 2.63 ERA), Junior Funaki (20-6)and Denny Martin (16-7) give Seattle a tough 1-2-3 punch that can hold their own. Franchise career wins leader Enos Garciaparra (12-12), D'Angelo Rojas (11-4) and newcomer Che Hasegawa give the club plenty of solid options at SP4 and SP5. Prospects Alex Lopez and Carlos Diaz continue to develop down on the farm.
RP – Seattle struck out on landing FA George Beckwith, but was able to sign long-time Cleveland closer Slash Clay (211 career saves) and bring back Paul Dong (119 relief innings). Add in righties Rolando Diaz (23 saves) and Brian Cox (2.60 ERA) and Seattle has plenty of late inning options.
The World Champion Anaheim Anteaters are still loaded for the season 19 campaign. In season 18 they were number one in ERA and fielding percentage and 6th in runs scored. Set up man Julian Furcal was lost to free agency, who will replace his 117 IP? Expect to see AAA starter Al Lima in the rotation with Mitch Johnson going to the pen. 3B Julio Martin left via free agency. Will Al Cedeno replace him or will Paul Feng move from 2B to free up a roster spot for Anthony Clinton. How much longer can Sid Watson be an elite closer? Will the loss of Groucho Lesher as fielding coach cost a few wins?
The Seattle Picards had 100 wins in Season 18, second in the NL in runs scored and ERA. Che Hasegawa arrived via trade, is he ready from prime time? Is the promotion of bench coach Fred Huckaby an improvement over the departed Wilfredo Martin? Paul Dong tested the free agent waters and was re-signed. Expect AAA phenom Aramis Granados to find a spot in the ML roster.
The Vancouver Maintaineers made it to the NLCS for the first time in franchise history. They have a relatively young team, will it continue to mature? Jamie Bradley served notice that he is an elite pitcher with three post season wins. Jimmie Franco and Rod Perkins plated 145 runners from the catcher’s position. Can Ricardo Seanez step up and be more productive than last year’s anemic left field? Is Jose Alou ready to step up to the big league and claim the 5th starter position? Will the addition of an over-paid Groucho Lesher at fielding coach result in a few more wins?
Have the St. Louis Archers improved enough to get out of the cellar of the most competitive division in the NL? Not on paper. Jarred Harvey looked like a professional hitter in AAA, can he be a ROY candidate?
The following are my views on this season’s nominees. I’ve put them in 5 categories: No Doubt, Good Chance, Borderline, Short Career, and No Chance. The thing I noticed most is how hard it is to narrow down your last couple of votes. There are many deserving candidates, and it’s very hard to differentiate between them.
Al Ontiveros – 598 HR and a .965 OPS from a SS. Add 5 Silver Sluggers and 6 All Stars, and despite inflated stats in San Juan he should be a lock.
Dennys Yamakazi – The numbers might not be staggering, with 190-133 W-L and a 3.89 ERA, but this was the best pitcher not named Tracy in the early years of the league. 3 CYA and 6 All Stars tell part of the story. Being 5th all-time in IP and 2nd in K’s, and putting up those numbers in the AL tell more.
Henry Menechino – Others might find his career too short, but 500 HR and a 1.054 OPS are enough for me, even from a 1B. Not to mention his back-to-back 80 HR campaigns. Don’t forget he’s an MVP with 2 Gold Gloves as well.
Harry Pascual – 4 All Stars, 4 Silver Sluggers and a .939 OPS from a 2B. Despite only 10 full seasons, it’s hard to say he doesn’t belong.
Julio Johnson – 2-time MVP and 6 All Stars, plus a .941 OPS, while playing 2B and LF. Also only 10 seasons, not quite as defensively valuable as Pascual, but 2 MVPs speak loudly.
Mikey Tatum – Lfer who went to 9 All Star games, won 4 Silver Sluggers and 4 Gold Gloves. With 300 HR, almost 600 SB, nearly a .900 OPS and 1500 R, he’s easy to vote for.
Trenidad Prieto – 500 HR, 1700 RBI and 1500 R. A .957 career OPS. HOF numbers for sure. Only 4 All Stars and 1 Silver Slugger though, and at 1B in this league you have to MASH. He’d be a sure thing if he played another position, as it is… he’s not a bad choice.
Alexander Henry – 500 HR, 1500 RBI, .971 career OPS. 4 All Star games and an MVP. Another 1B with HOF numbers, but how many can you take. Tough choices here.
Desi Rodriguez – Gold Glove winning SS who went to 7 All Star games and hit over 500 HR. Sounds like a HOF lock! His .850 OPS hurts him, as does Ontiveros’ candidacy.
Nerio Miller – 9 All Stars, 6 Firemen and a CYA. 2.93 career ERA and 487 Sv. The fact that he pitched less than 1000 IP keep him out of the sure thing category for me. That, and I don’t think a reliever should be the first pitcher in the HOF.
Ron Quantrill – I still haven’t figured out how to rate pitcher’s careers. 176 W and a 3.87 ERA aren’t mind blowing, but there are so few pitchers with those numbers that I think it’s much harder than it seems. 6 All Stars and over 2800 IP.
Diego Ozuna – 196 W and a 3.98 ERA. Over 2500 IP and 9 All Star games. Would have won a CYA if not for Brett Tracy.
Ringo Weston – Played CF, SS and 3B, got over 2300 H and 1300 R, with an OPS of .845. Excellent all-around player, maybe not quite HOF quality.
Anthony Gipson – This excellent 3B went to 6 All Star games, won a Gold Glove and 4 Silver Sluggers. His 399 HR and .899 OPS ironically echo his HOF status: Not Quite.
Mel Barfield – This 2B went to 7 All Star games, won a Gold Glove and 4 Silver Sluggers. Sound familiar? Hard to complain about 300 HR, 500 SB and an .885 OPS, but he just doesn’t feel like a HOFer to me.
Clyde Unroe – 500 HR and 1500 RBI for someone who played 2B/LF is always good. Only 2 All Star games and an .895 OPS make me think twice.
Julio Iglesias – Played 3B and SS, went to 6 All Star games and won 3 SS and a GG. 300 HR and almost 300 SB, with a .903 OPS. I think he’s just below the HOF.
Ralph Stanley – Caught a lot, but DH’d more. 420 HR and an .895 OPS might have been enough as a full-time C, but not quite as a DH.
Tyler Henderson – With 444 Saves and a 3.47 ERA, 6 All Stars and 2 Firemen, he’s a poor man’s Nerio Miller. Not quite enough.
Matthew Torres – Made 4 All-Star games and 1 Fireman, pitched a lot for a reliever, racking up over 1600 IP, 108 W, and 208 saves. His 3.72 ERA keeps him out of the elite reliever discussion.
Ryan Parrish – RFer Parrish was a masher, compiling a .991 OPS with over 300 HR, but with only 8 full seasons it’s probably not quite enough for the HOF.
Dustin Scott – Also a RFer, put together a .940 OPS and 250 HR. His 8 seasons were not quite enough.
Walter Webb – Had some massive seasons early as a C, but was too old. Finished as a DH with fewer than 300 HR.
Marvin Bryant – This 2B/SS was a nice player, but an .851 OPS with no speed will not get you a HOF spot.
George Brow – He played a nice CF and came to play every day, and contributed with a .293 AVG. Not a real HOF candidate though.
Henry Sullivan – Awards don’t tell the whole story, but the fact that in 8 seasons this 3B didn’t win any probably tells enough.
Peter Mitchell – Did some catching, but mostly a DH. Put up a huge .423 OBP, but the rest of the numbers are not enough for a pure hitter to make it.
Alex Guerrero – Played a ton of positions, and had good longevity. His 411 HR and .882 OPS aren’t enough.
Shawn Morton – HOF voters have to remember how hard it is to pitch in this league. A 3.78 career ERA is very good. I just don’t think his 108 W and 1800 IP are enough.
John Kennedy – Won a CYA and has a 3.87 ERA. Again, I think 109 W and 1500 IP don’t cut it.
Giomar Roque, Esteban Tejera, Tony Hodges – Do not belong on this list.
16 January 2011
Cincinnati Roses (94-68)
Ariel Cortez anchors a pitching staff has been the strength of the team, but the loss of Preston Keller might be tough to overcome. Top teams excel on both offense and defense and the Roses will be counting on Season 18 co-MVP Damaso Colome and the continued emergence of Coco Hentgen in order to try to keep their offense in the Top 10 in scoring. The loss of Rudy Hayes is going to be troublesome. Small steps back on both offense and pitching will cause the team to regress.
Ottawa Ice (88-74)
Ottawa filled a key void with by signing Willie Bacsik. They are still slightly above average in run scoring and run prevention. The decline of Trenidad Espinosa has begun but the key is to make certain that the slope is long and slow. Glenn Strauss could be the successor to Jorel McGlinchy's reign as the premier AL centerfielder.
Madison Mad Dogs (82-80)
Madison is the biggest wildcard in the league. Last year's top scoring offense wasn't sufficient to support the AL's worst pitching performance. To address this, Madison signed Martin McCartney to try to tame one of the most punishing hitters' parks.
Scranton Breakers (75-87)
There ain't no party like a Scranton party, but Ben Thompson has left the building. The loss of that pitching stud and a lack of other moves suggests that a rebuilding phase is in force. Nonetheless, a respectable payroll and homegrown stud Lefty Thompson should keep the fans coming to the park, even if the playoffs look to be out of reach.
Cleveland Spiders (103-59)
The loss of Deacon Phillips caused the most consternation, but all the other key pieces are back from last year's 108-win team. Figure a half-step back. SS Enrique Astacio's move to shortstop makes him the preseason favorite for MVP, especially if he can put up another 50 homer season.
Pawtucket Patriots (84-78)
Pawtucket traded away Juan Pineiro for a nice complementary piece, but nothing that will help this year. The team could surprise if an underrated pitching staff led by Patrick Wallace and Matthew Gilbert catches fire.
San Juan Express (62-100)
Over each of the last year, the last two years and the last three years, San Juan has won less games and spent less money on their player budget than the execrable Indianapolis franchise. After winning 48 games last year they are in danger of violating the league's "55-win with two season allowance for correction" policy. However, this team's ownership is too well respected to think this will be an issue and top prospect William Funaki looks to start the season in the majors. A 62 win season gives them a 2-year average of 55 wins.
Boston Americans (61-101)
They've signed a few recognizable names like Yoo-Nah Torres and Vic Blanco in order to keep things interesting in Boston but not enough to be a playoff threat. A breakout year from Shea Frazier would make this team a potential spoiler.
Texas Rough Necks (96-66)
This team didn't make any moves, but outside of maybe a stronger #2 starter they didn't need to make any. Charlie Fleming has finally emerged as an ace after his breakout S18 campaign. Talent oozes from all the other positions. A career year from someone like former #1 overall pick Mike Boudreau could put this team over the top.
Monterrey Campeones (95-67)
Monterrey is aging and has lost perhaps their most intimidating lineup presence in Darren Owens. Power thread Juan Johnson is also gone. Nonetheless, the rest of the key ingredients are returning and perennial Cy Young contender Livan Lee is still in his prime.
Jackson Rage (77-85)
Jackson is a team in search of a new identity. After a few non-descript years as a team that leaned towards being a strong pitching and defense team without making bold strides in that direction, new ownership gets to put their stamp on the team. The first move was jettisoning Adam Vina and we'll see what moves are made in the wake of that. Season 18 Cy Young winner Bruce Dellucci signed a big contract extension and is a perfect piece to build around.
El Paso Suns (75-87)
They made a nice little move picking up complementary piece Sammy Reyes, but it seems like a crime to not surround such a strong tandem of middle infielders like Geraldo Johnson and Bob Wallace with more talent.
Helena Howling Sukebe (104-58)
Helena didn't make any big moves this offseason, but with a solid pitching staff and a powerful offense, this team was already primed for success. A full season from S14 first round pick Ken Yearwood might be enough of an addition to make waves in Helena without a spending spree.
San Jose Longballers (76-86)
Daryle Young was a huge signing last year that didn't have the desired impact. Still, in that ballpark, Young isn't going to put up huge numbers and the pitchers have to do better. San Jose needed to make some moves for some arms, perhaps they've got something up their sleeve.
Fresno Fanatics (65-97)
They lost Felipe Serra but brought back Jesus Guerrero at the last moment. And is there a Plan B if Miguel Perez's MVP year was an aberration rather than a sign of things to come?
Kansas City Beef Sox (59-103)
A huge changing of the guard in Kansas City. New management lets S18 Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Jorel McGlinchy walk and ends an era. The Melvin Hernandez trade was huge, but it remains to see how many high leverage innings Guerrero throws behind that starting rotation. The previous ownership didn't leave much talent on the roster. This team looks as if a long, rebuilding period is about to begin.
Wild Card Round
#6 Ottawa over #3 Texas as Trenidad Espinoza wins Games 1 and 5.
C: Ralph Daniels returns to help cement his place as one of the top offensive catchers in the league after hitting .325/.378/.640 last year. He'll be spelled by rookie defensive wizard Orlando Javier.
1B: Four-time American League MVP Darren Owens got $80 million to head into the frozen north, which makes room for experimentation. Former Ottawa DH Don Bonilla, utility man Seth Knowles, and rookie Juan Brogna will battle it out for the starting nod.
2B: Sparkplug Julian Colome was signed to play center field in midyear last season in the wake of Alfonso Cortez' injury. He's been brought back this year, and will move to 2B to replace the disappointing Crash Durocher.
SS: Three-time All-Star Alfonso Cortez returns for another season, providing punch at a traditionally defensive position.
3B: Longtime Monterrey 3B Trenidad Rios was not offered a contract, opening the door for another positional battle. Former Florida 3B Babe High will compete with rookies Bernie Fernandez and Crash Hernandez for at-bats here.
LF: Marshall Allen and Frank Sellers are both back off disappointing seasons, and both will need to perform to get playing time. Rookie utilityman Luis Duran may get some time here as well.
CF: Alejandro Gutierrez returns to center field now that Cortez is healthy again.
RF: Team leader Al Maurer is back to patrol right field and terrorize pitchers after his fourteenth consecutive year with an OPS over .900.
DH: Javier Leon returns in a contract year after a poor season last year. Much of the team's success will depend on Leon returning to the masher of old.
SP: Rock McCarty and Livan Lee will once again bring a strong 1-2 combination to the top of the rotation. Desi Martin's option was picked up for season 19, but he'll have to pitch well to have a future in Monterrey. Haywood Melton and Matt Sheffield will round out the rotation.
RP: Veteran closer and four-time All-Star Taylor Bowie is back to slam the door on the opposition, backed by many of the same lovable nobodies that performed so well last year.
This is a pivotal season for Monterrey. Many of their older veterans are unsigned for season 20, and the Campeónes will have tremendous payroll flexibility to make major changes if necessary.
15 January 2011
11 January 2011
|Anaheim Anteaters||Al Perez||87||(RF)|
|Atlanta Aces||Rudy Hayes||90||(LF)|
|Atlanta Aces||Louie Hayes||88||(2B)|
|Cleveland Spiders||Michael Dransfeldt||90||(3B)|
|Cleveland Spiders||Enrique Astacio||98||(SS)|
|El Paso Suns||Geraldo Johnson||87||(SS)|
|El Paso Suns||Bob Wallace||85||(SS)|
|Helena Howling Sukebe||Esteban Abreu||85||(3B)|
|Jackson Rage||Bruce Dellucci||89||(SP)|
|Jacksonville StoneWallers||Victor Lee||85||(SS)|
|Louisville Redbirds||Don Barnes||92||(CF)|
|Louisville Redbirds||Antonio Martin||85||(SP)|
|Madison Mad Dogs||Bruce Kent||87||(LF)|
|Minnesota North Stars||Dmitri Stafford||85||(CF)|
|Monterrey Campeónes||Alfonso Cortez||87||(SS)|
|New York Yanks||Trenidad Meadows||85||(CF)|
|Pittsburgh Typhoon||Wesley Smith||93||(SS)|
|Pittsburgh Typhoon||Christian Grim||86||(SP)|
|San Jose Longballers||Daryle Young||89||(RF)|
|San Jose Longballers||Mark Woo||86||(CF)|
|Seattle Picards||William Uehara||87||(SS)|
|Seattle Picards||Cesar Pulido||88||(RF)|
|Syracuse Silicians||Donn Newman||86||(RF)|
"In the last few years, Luis Herrera has become to Panama what Dennis Martinez is to Nicaragua. More than a legend, he is an idol. Men are afraid to name their children Luis for fear of the crushing expectations that will be placed upon them."
"Todo lo que necesito es un anillo de Serie Mundial para demostrar a estos cerdos yanqui que todo lo que Dios me hizo para ser un ganador y campeón."