Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Pitching Rules

The real playoffs began today and some real old school baseball was played. San Francisco shutout Washington on the American side, while Charlotte shutout New York in the National league.

San Francisco got 8 great innings from Felipe Bournigal who allowed 4 runners while strking out 11. Joe Ogea struggled a little in the 9th allowing 2 runners on base, but managed to keep the shutout going. Grant Perez got on base 3 times and scored one run while driving in another. Elvis Ogea struggled a little in the game but still went the distance. He allowed 5 ER and gave up 5 walks in his 8 innings of work for Washington.

Charlotte took the 1-0 series lead by getting 7 near perfect innings from Vic Guardado. He allowed 3 hits and had one walk. New York's only threat was in the 5th as there were runners on 1st and 2nd with one out before two groundouts ended the inning. Ben Beamon continued his solid playoff play as he went 3-4 with a run scored. The FatNasty (I don't even want to know where that name came from) got a run in the 2nd and that turned out to be all they needed.

Monday, February 25, 2008

S7 - LCS



#1 San Francisco Night Demons (114-48) vs. #2 Washington D.C. Generals (102-60)

First let me mention that this is the 3rd straight year that these two teams have meet in the ALCS, both previous times in S5 and S6 the Night Demons went on to the play in the WS. In regular season 7 San Francisco won 7 of 10 games vs. Washington also winning 2 of 3 series they played, 4 of the 10 games were 1 run decisions.

SF -. The Night Demons defeated the #4 New Britain Yorkies (3-2) in a very tough DCS that went back and forth for 5 games. We all know about P.Bournigal, P. Daly, S. Kennedy and the rest of this grate pitching staff and we all somewhat knew they would be here at the end. This team is superb top to bottom, they not only deserve to be here but they will also be the favorite.

D.C. – It seems like it’s all about SF in the AL lately while D.C. is quietly sitting in their 6th ALCS in 7 seasons looking to strike again and capture their 4th WS title……Yes, I said this is the 6th ALCS appearance by the Generals in 7 seasons, the only season they did not advance to LCS was in S4 when they were the #1 seed eliminated in DCS.
Winning 3 WS titles so far and looking for another this is hand down the best franchise in the short History of Hunter, calling them Kings of Hunter is legit until someone has the balls to take their crown. This season in the DCS the Generals rolled over the #3 Louisville Sluggers (3-0) outscoring them 26-4 looking like they’re hungry for more, I would be very careful if I had to play against them. They may be the underdog in this series but they are more than capable of winning far more than just this series…… talk about respect, 6th ALCS appearance with 3 WS titles in 7 seasons, enough said.


#1 Charlotte FatNasty (115-47) vs. #2 New York Metropolitans (110-52)

Slightly different story in the NLCS, both team are here for the first time not knowing what to expect. The regular season series between these two teams included three 1-run games and 4 shutouts (2 by each team), New York won 6 of 10 games they played.

CH – Charlotte defeated the #5 San Juan TCB (3-1) in the DCS for the right to advance, giving up 11 runs in the one lost and allowing only 4 total runs in the 3 wins. Their ace Derek O’Keefe started 2 games for 14 innings giving up only 2 ER for a 1.29 ERA. TCB had the best regular season offense that was shut down in 3/4 games. It’s no secrets that this is the best team in Hunter right now and NY is just another team on their path.

NY – New York got here be beating the #3 St. Louis Clydesdales (3-0) in the DCS, although it was a totally different series than the score would indicate. In game 2 STL had a 6-1 lead in the top of the 9th before the Metropolitans offense scored 8 runs in the bottom of the 9th and won the game 9-6. In game 3 the Clydesdales had a 4-0 lead after 6 innings before giving up 4 runs in the 7th and 2 more in the 9th. Coming from behind to win close games is nothing new for this team, the've been doing it all season long but falling behind Charlotte and coming back is a diffrent story.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Season 7 Playoffs - DCS

American League DCS

The first series in AL we'll have the #1 San Francisco Night Demons vs. #4 New Britain Yorkies. New Britain defeated #5 Burlington Black Sox in the division play-in series (3-0) and advanced to the DCS for the first time in franchise history. The Night Demons are not only the favorite to win this series but also the favorite to win the WS.

The other AL series features the #2 Washington D.C. Generals vs. #3 Louisville Sluggers. Louisville rolled over Scottsdale (3-0) in the division play-in series and advanced to the DCS with high hopes. The Generals have been here and done this, it seems like they’re here every season, and I mean every season. Washington is the favorite here but the Sluggers may have something to say about that.

National League DCS

The first series will feature the #1 Charlotte FatNasty vs. #5 San Juan TCB. San Juan lost the first 2 games of their division play-in series vs. #4 Colorado Blasters only to come back and win the next 3 and advance to the DCS. Charlotte is the favorite in this series but TCB won 103 regular season games and are definitely capable of the upset.

In the lower bracket of the NL we have the #2 New York Metropolitans vs. #3 St. Louis Clydesdales. St. Louis beat their division rival #5 Buffalo Nickles in the division play-in series (3-1) and advanced to the DCS. New York has the #2 seed for first time in franchise history but are known for early playoff exits. There is no favorite in this series, 110 wins vs. 109 wins.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Owner Profile: dizzlebob

It's been almost two years since we started playing this game together. I think it's way past time to introduce ourselves to one another. I have assembled a list of questions that will hopefully bring out some interesting tidbits about each of us and reveal how much, or how little, we all have in common.

I'll go first. Then, periodically, I will ask each of you to answer similar questions. I expect it to take 3 or 4 seasons to get to everyone so be patient. I think I'll start next season with our season 7 champ (watch people start tanking games so they don't have to answer dumb questions) and then hit up any new owners we get. We'll just go randomly from there but if you have something interesting happening like a wedding or birth, let me know and I may move you to the top of the nonexistent list. I will also probably write some kind of intro for everyone that will look something like this:

Dizzlebob has been in Hunter since it's inception. He has taken a few free teams in other worlds but he pretty much just plays in Hunter. His Studdabubbas are never very good but they someh
ow made it to the World Series in the 2nd season where they lost to Washington in 7 games. The Studdabubba's made the playoffs only one other time, in Season 5. So, it's no surprise that dizzlebob had time to answer dumb questions while the playoffs were in session.

Is Dizzlebob your real name?
No. My real name is Jack Kelley (I'm the pretty one). Dizzlebob is just a silly made-up name from my high school days which, for the record, was 20 years before Snoop Dogg started his izzle speak.

What are your vitals?

I'm a 39-ye
ar old white guy with a lovely wife and 3-year old daughter. I have lived in Pittsburgh all of my life. I work at a graphic design firm on the South Side as a graphic artist. I have a bachelor of arts degree from California University of Pennsylvania.

What are your favorite real-life sports teams or players?

Like most Pittsburghers, I'm a huge Steelers fan. I live and die with them. I hate going to games, though. I don't like the crowds, the drunks, the weather, or the sight lines. I would much prefer to sit on my couch and watch the games on my beautiful TV. Also, if I cry over an outcome I don't get taunted by the dude behind me when I'm at home. But I'm not really a baseball fan. Having a minor league caliber team playing in the big leagues like we have in Pittsburgh isn't my idea of great competition (but it is an inspiration for my Studdabubbas). I'll watch a game if the Pirates happen to be on TV but losing gets old after 13 or 14 years.

Why WIS?

I guess I'm a gamer. I love games that let me escape from stupid, boring life. It started when I bought an Odyssey 2 gaming console back in the late 70s. I also used to play with my dad's old strat-o-matic football game. In high school, we gathered almost weekly to play Dungeons & Dragons (I'm making myself sound pretty cool, huh?). Then, I discovered fantasy football in the late 80s. I've been the commissioner of an ongoing league since 1993. I always have some sort of football video game franchise going and have for probably 10 years, now. The Gridiron Dynasty game is what attracted me to WIS but Hardball Dynasty was what hooked me. The game planning and coaching wasn't fun for me but the player management part is what I really enjoy. HD is the perfect game for me...and I don't have to roll dice anymore.

What's the deal with the nickname Studdabubbas?

I was just looking for a creature that was indigenous to Western Pennsylvania. Old ladies with babushkas is all I could think of.

When you aren't WISing, what do you do?

I coach girls volleyball at a local middle school. I listen to alternative pop music (Fratellis, Hot Hot Heat) and I have a rather large collection of 80s goth and alternative music (Oingo Boingo rocks!). But mostly I watch my TV. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was probably my all-time favorite show but I'm currently really digging Lost.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Day 2 of Playoffs

The second day of the playoffs ended a lot like the 1st games.   The only losing team from day one to pull out a victory was St. Louis.   St. Louis jumped on Buffalo pitching early and often.   Lou Stevenson hit a 1st inning homerun and also provided 4 RBI, while leadoff hitter Erubiel Molina scored 4 runs.    Mark Meng provided 8 innings of 1 run pitching for the Clydesdales who now go to Buffalo with the series tied at 1.

In the other NL game Colorado took the 5-2 victory to take a 2 game lead while going to San Jose, with the TCB needing to win three games in a row.   David Anderson pitched 7-2/3 innings of solid pitching, while the 2-6 hitters for the Blasters hit a combined 7-16 and scoring and driving in all 5 runs.   

New Britain pounded out 15 hits during a 9-4 victory and got some decent pitching to take the two game lead.    New Britain got homeruns from Sherm Norton, Ellis Thomas and Omar Gonzalez and 5 decent innings from Josh Nielsen.   Burlington's Duke Weston struggled going 5-2/3 innings and allowing 8 ER.

Louisville looks to be headed to the next round after defeating Scottsdale 7-2.    Willie Lopez collected 3 hits including a homerun but was a little scary in the field after committing 2 errors.   Tomas Calles scored 3 runs in the victory as the Sluggers got 7 solid innings from Bob Creek in the victory.

Playoffs Begin

The 1st round of playoffs has begun and here is a quick overview of the games.

In the NL, Colorado came out swinging against San Juan with 7 runs against San Juan starter Marc Daniels. It was just too much to overcome and San Juan's bullpen was stretched thin early on in the series after using 7 pitchers. For Colorado, leadoff hitter Alan Grimsley did damage early and often as he went 5-5 with a HR and 3 RBI.

In the second game, Buffalo hang on for the upset over #3 seed St. Louis. Alex Cruz did most of the damage with 5 RBI and Jacob Sung added 4 more. St. Louis came with 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th to bring the final to 10-9. After getting the 1st two batters on, St. Louis could not come through in the clutch.

Over in the AL, New Britain scored 2 in the bottom of the 8th to beat Burlington 3-2. New Britain's bullpen came up big with 3-2/3 innings of 2 hit ball. Ellis Thomas provided the big blow with a 2 run homer in the bottom of the 8th. Burlington wasted a very solid 7 innings from Vin Alvarez as he allowed one earned run and struck out 8.

The other AL matchup was just as tight, as Louisville struggled but defeated Scottsdale 3-1. The Sluggers only managed 4 hits with 2 of them going for extra bases. Tony Calles hit a solo shot and Bruce Grey added an RBI triple. Dave Caufield threw 8 innings of one run ball as he scattered 11 baserunners.

NL playoff preview

It’s that time of year again, top teams slug it out against each other for the right to be called champions. NL has 4 teams in the playoffs with 100+ wins and the seeding wasn’t set until game 162 was played. Charlotte may be the favorite but any of these 6 teams are more than capable of making a run at the championship.

#1 seed

Charlotte FatNasty (113-88)

No surprises here, on top of the NL most of the season Charlotte will be the #1 seed in the NL playoffs and ready to make history. Featuring the 2nd best pitching staff and the 3rd best offense in the NL this team is the favorite to represent the NL in the WS. The pitching staff features starters like Derek O'Keefe (21-3, 2.60 era), Andruw Allen (14-5, 3.02 era) and Wilfredo Mendoza (17-4 3.21 era) as the probable 1-2-3 in the playoffs, Cookie Kondou (15-8, 3.56 era) and a very young Vic Guardado (16-5, 4.10 era) will be the 2 back ups and probably pitch out of the bullpen. Speaking of bullpens, the FatNasty have a really nasty bullpen that features Julio Nieves who appeared in 94 games for 165 inning of 2.93 era/1.03 WHIP and Miguel Bennett who saved 42/47 games this season. It will take a lot of good hitting to score runs against this pitching staff, specially the bullpen. Their offence with a good mix of young and veteran hitters like Y.Molina (74 HR), B.Beamon (.340BA), A.Hanley (209 hits), Dan Miller (.335 BA) and S.Morga (49 HR) is packed from top to bottom. Their 308 team HR is only 2nd in Hunter to Colorado, 955 team RBI’s and .298 team BA are both 3rd best in Hunter and their .364 team OBP, .509 team SLG and .873 team OPS are all 2nd best. Talk about a line up that can do it all, power, speed, on base %, hitting for average, you name it they can do it. The only area where Charlotte is not in the top 3 is their 8th NL ranked defense that posts .989 fielding % and 68 errors. This team is very capable of out-pitching and out-hitting any team in Hunter, facing them in a playoff series will be a very tough task for any opponent.

#2 seed

New York Metropolitans (110-52)

Since the All Star break this team posted a 57-15 record and surged into the #2 seed in the NL. In those 72 games they posted two 9-game win streaks followed by a 15-game win streak that’s best in franchise history. This team has the #1 pitching staff, #2 defense and #4 offense in the NL making them the most complete team in the tournament. The strength is obviously their pitching staff that will features Ace Kelvin Coleman (18-5, 1.98 era and 0.97 WHIP), Benito Bonilla (18-7. 2.94 era), Charlie Dickson (17-3, 3.60 era) and Don Cook (14-6, 3.45 era) as their 1-2-3-4. The Mets bullpen is lead by their veteran closer Felix Duran and reliever Buddy Beimel followed by Theodore Ward, 22 y.o. B.C Dali, Mark Cora, Richard Hoffman, Geoffry Larson and Bill Hilijus. This 8-man bullpen many times starts working in the 5th and 6th innings and was tested very often through out the season as shown in their 30-18 record in 1-run games and 12-5 record in extra inning games. This pitching staff currently posts 3.49 team era, 1.21 team WHIP, .236 team OAV and 1200 team K, all NL best. Their pitching staff is backed by the #2 defense in Hunter currently posting .991 fielding % with only 53 errors. Having the #2 pitching staff and best defense in the tournament should equal to major problem for any opposing offense. Speaking of offense, this Metropolitans offense isn’t power heavy nor is it fast but it is ranked 4th best in Hunter with .295 BA and 1693 total hits. Simply put, this line up may not hit many HR but they can out-hit any opponent. It’s really simple here, if you can out-pitch this team over a long playoff series you have a very good shot at winning because their offense may have problems winning games on their own. New York is also known for exiting the playoffs early, in 3 of 4 playoff appearances NY managed to exit in the 1st round with the 4th exit in the DCS.

#3 seed

St Louis Clydsdales (109-53)

St. Louis had the 2nd best overall record in the NL most of the season and one of the favorites to win the WS. The Clydsdales are the class of NL holding the #1 or #2 seed in 5 of the last 6 playoffs, the closest they came to winning a WS was last season where they lost to San Francisco in 7 games. This team has the 3rd best pitching staff in the NL with 3.95 team era and 1.23 WHIP, 5th best line up that posted a .293 team BA and lead the NL with 310 doubles and 50 triples and the 7th best defense in the NL that posted a .989 fielding % with 67 errors. Any way you look at this team you will not find many flaws and when this team runs on all cylinders it’s definitely one of the elite in Hunter. This pitching staff is lead by their Ace Mark Meng who posted a 23-3 record with 2.59 era 1.04 WHIP in 236 IP, followed by Giovanni Dale who’s 17-7 with 3.07 era and 1.19 WHIP and Shawn Owen who posted a 20-7 record with 3.73 era and 1.18 WHIP on the season. With this trio going as 1-2-3 in the playoff series there isn’t much room for the opposing hitters to score many runs. The starters are back up by a very good bullpen the features Pedro Ontiveros who appeared in 74 games and pitched 140 inning posting a 3.61 era, 1.21 WHIP, 16/19 saves and a very young Felipe Guerrero who was promoted to the bigs this season and posted a 1.93 era and 1.13 WHIP in 24 games, he also saved 7/7 games down the stretch. All I have to say is, good luck facing this pitching staff, the best lineups in the tournament will have major problems generating runs. The Clydsdales offense is truly a nightmare for any pitcher to face, starting with their MVP Erubiel Molina who hit 50 doubles, 19 triples, 23 HR and 235 total hits, Erubiel also stole 35 bases, hit .353 BA with a .426 OBP making him the best lead of hitter in the game today. Behind Erubiel we have good veterans hitter like J.P. Mercedes (.325BA), B.O’Neil (.324BA), A.Wright (.311BA) and L.Stevenson who’s rated as one of the best hitters in Hunter. After last seasons WS lose St. Louis will not be satisfied with anything less than a WS championship.

#4 seed

Colorado Blasters (106-56)

This team has posted 100+ wins in the each of the last 5 seasons, winning the WS championship twice. The Blasters yet again come into the season 7 playoffs loaded from top to bottom and ready to make a run at their 3rd championship.
Colorado has the best offense in the NL that hit 428 HR, 1082 RBI’s, .568 team SLG and .935 team OPS, all tops in Hunter. This line up also features the best overall hitter in the world in Frank Zhang who posted 1.199 OPS in 124 games played. The rest of the line up is as capable featuring Lonny Iglesias (62 HR, 152 RBI’s), Jason Hutton (56 HR), Erubiel Johnson (53 HR), Brace Star (48 HR) should I continue? This lineup is capable of out scoring any opposition and is definitely more than capable of caring this team to the top. The Blasters pitching staff is ranked 5th in the NL with 4.52 team era, 1.39 team WHIP and .275 team OAV but they pitch in Coors field. With starters like Jumbo Urbina (2.96 era, 1.12 WHIP), David Anderson (3.86 era, 1.44 WHIP), Gene Fitzgerald (5.04 era, 1.46 WHIP) and Herman Wasadin ( 6.13 era, 1.64 WHIP) this pitching staff is a lot better than their stats show. This pitching staff also took a huge hit when Luis Vega went down with a season ending injury and will not be available for the playoffs. Colorado defense is the weak point of this team, currently ranked 15th in the NL (2nd worst) with a .984 fielding %, whopping 98 errors. Beating this team in a playoff series will not be easy, trying to out-score them is almost impossible and their 1-2-3 starters will be more then enough to allow the offense to take over games, if their defense can play at a higher level this team is more than capable of winning the WS.

#5 seed

San Juan TCB (103-59)

Offense is king, the TCB lineup is currently ranked #1 in NL with .305 team BA and .378 team OBP, 2nd with 302 doubles and 1802 total hits. This lineup features Angel Bolivar who played in all 162 games and posted a .402 BA and .463 OBP, he may not be the best power hitter in the game but with 292 total hits he’s definitely the best flat out hitter in Hunter. Players like John Stevens (51 HR), Garrett Biggio (143 rbi’s), Pedro Torealba (.349 BA) and Alex James (.338 BA) round up this unbelievable line up. San Juan pitching staff is ranked 4th in the NL with a 4.37 team era and 1.35 team WHIP. TCB may be the only team in the tournament that uses tandem style pitching so there are no clear 1-2-3 starters. Jacque Jefferson who started 55 games and pitched the most innings (282) out of the bunch posted a 4.85 era and 1.46 WHIP. Sean Serrano started 32 games and appeared in 53 with a 4.56 era and 1.44 WHIP. Luis Santayana started 29 and appeared in 52 games with a 4.26 era and 1.14 WHIP and Jose Guzman who started 33 games and appeared in 55 with a 3.95 era and 1.26 WHIP. The bullpen is again a mix of all the pitchers who sometimes start and sometimes relieve but the 2 man save show features a killer closer Aubrey Lamb who posted a 2.15 era, 0.99 WHIP and saved 12/16 and Jack Stanley who saved 10/11 with a 3.42 era and 1.13 WHIP. This pitching staff is full of very good starters and relievers, the real question for the opposition is who pitches and when. San Juan defense is ranked 4th in the NL with a .990 fielding % and only 62 errors and isn’t far from being the best. This team has the total package, top to bottom, facing this team in a playoff series will be a tough task for any opposing team.

#6 seed

Buffalo Nickles (83-79)

This team has proven last season by beating NY in the 1st round that regular season record doesn’t matter much in the playoffs, and they’re out to prove the same this season. Buffalo comes in with the 7th best pitching staff, 8th best lineup and 2nd best defense in the NL. Their pitching staff that posted 4.74 team era and 1.44 team WHIP as a team features Marlon Watkins (4.14 era), Ivan Cannon (4.60 era) and Peter Carpenter (4.76 era) as their 1-2-3 punch. The bullpen features Daniel Zoltan (3.28 era and 1.05 WHIP) and Ross Kingston saved 27/36 games. Buffalos offense carried this team for a good portion of the season and is definitely capable of a lot more that their 8th rank shows. With hitters like Archie Blake (.331BA) P.J. Simpson (.321 BA), Chris Rose (41 doubles, 36 HR) and Matty Garces (50HR) this lineup is capable of scoring runs against the best pitchers in the game. The strength of this Nickles team is their #2 ranked defense that posted an amazing .991 fielding % and made only 55 errors. Not many people would give this team a chance but I wouldn’t count them out so quick, specially in a close series. Buffalo may not have the best hitter or the best pitcher in the game but if this team gets into a close series with that #2 defense, they may shock some people.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Season 7 Review - Best Free Agent Signings

One of best times of the year is the free agent bloodbath that occurs at the start of each season. Some teams will spend their dollars wisely and lock up a peaking star for the next 4 seasons of his prime. Some will throw money at mediocre players who never live up to their contract. Some find hidden gems on the cheap. And some sign that next great star only too see him grab his shoulder or his hamstring and watch all that money go up in smoke. I guess you should have spent that money on training and medical, no?

After reviewing all of the ML free agent signings for Season 7, this is my list of the best signings. This list is based largely on Season 7 performance, but also evaluates contract value vs. performance received as well.

#1 Tom Leonard RF, Rochester - Tom was a great find for Rochester this season. He was locked up to a 3 year contract at $4.2 million per year. For their money, Rochester got a .957 OPS, with 56 HR and 115 RBI. Tom is only 30, so Rochester can probably expect more of the same the next few seasons.

#2 Chris Rose LF, Buffalo - Chris was 31 y.o. when Buffalo signed him to a 4 year contract with escalating clauses that bring the AAV of his contract to $5.875 million. Rose had a fine first season in Buffalo, posting a .314 AVG with 34 HR 107 RBI and a .977 OPS.

#3 Dan Miller 3B, Charlotte - Dan would have ranked higher on the list if it were not for his age and contract length. Dan put up a stellar season with a .343 AVG and a 1.020 OPS. He also played a fine 3B, making only 4 errors all year. But at age 34 and signing a 4 year, 7.5 million per year contract, one wonders what Charlotte will get for their money in the last season or two of this deal. Still, they're one of the best teams in the NL, so who am I to criticize?

#4 Jerome Skrmetta LF, Chicago - Jerome impressed in his first season in the Windy City, putting up solid numbers. He hit .318 with 22 HR and 112 RBI and posted a fine .389 OBP. His deal is for 2 years at $8.8 million per year. At age 32, that is a very reasonable deal.

#5 Stan Byrnes LF, Colorado - This signing qualifies as bargain of the year. Byrnes was signed by Colorado to a MINOR LEAGUE deal. All he did when he hit the bigs was post a .99o OPS with 31 HR. He's only 29 and now under Colorado's control. The only reason he doesn't rank higher is he has only 299 AB's. Still, this is one hell of a role player at a low, low price.

#6 David Anderson SP, Colorado - After declining a hefty $14 million team option on Anderson's previous deal, the Blasters moved to resign Anderson to a package totalling $9.1 million for one season. Anderson rewarded them with a 16-6 record and a 3.67 ERA in 186.1 innings.

#7 Buddy Krivda LF, New Britain - Krivda was another bargain signing. New Britain picked him up for a 1 year/$3 million deal. Krivda rewarded them with a .943 OPS in 305 AB as a role player.

#8 Brian Evans SS, Chicago - For those who like defense, this is your man. Evans played a stellar, gold glove caliber shortstop this season. He posted a .996 fielding percentage, made 8+ plays and flashed a 6.05 range factor. It's a good thing, too, because Evans' bat is made of sawdust. He posted an anemic .615 OPS. For those who think defense first at SS, this is your man. His contract is for 2 years at $5.6 million per year.

#9 Hayes Kirwan 1B, New York - Radek made a smooth move picking up Kirwan for a prorated contract of $895K. Kirwan was a part time player, but posted a 1.007 OPS in that playing time, including a .349 AVG.

#10 Homer Busby, RP, Pittsburgh - Homer Busby solidified the back end of Pittsburgh's bullpen, posting a 3.19 ERA in 84.1 IP, with 21 saves. Busby is signed to a 2 year deal for $2.7 million in season 7 and $3.7 million in season 8.

Honorable Mention: Best Signing/Biggest Oops: Javier Escobar RP, Tucson/Scottsdale. Escobar was signed to a FA deal by Tucson before Season 7. He was then left unprotected in the Rule 5 draft. The 25 y.o. reliever made Scottsdale, who picked him up, very happy by posting a 1.83 ERA and 0.70 WHIP in 41 appearances. He converted 36/37 saves. Ouch.

AL PLayoff Preview

The AL playoffs are all but set as there is only one real battle to be won and that is in the AL North.     New Britain and Minnesota are battling for the fourth seed.    The winner goes to the playoffs and the loser goes golfing.   This will probably go down to the end as they play a 3 game series at New Britain just before the end of the season.    Here is a full breakdown of all playoff teams.

#1 Seed

San Francisco Night Demons

Surprise, Surprise.  Last season's World Series winner is looking like the favorite again.   Their winning percentage is down a little from last year, but they are still on pace to win 116 games.    With a 3 man rotation this team is going to be very tough to beat.    With Felipe Bournigal, Pete Daly, and Sal Kennedy going 1-2-3 this team will never need a 4th starter.    Those 3 have combined for a 61-14 record with an ERA under 2.50.    If it needs to get to the bullpen they might get stronger as Joe Ogea and his .89 WHIP sets up possible fireman of the year Jared Page and his 34 saves.    
The teams one weakness, if there is one, could be on the offensive side of the field.   They do hit for a decent average, but they don't have much power and no speed at all.   1B Mark Kim is the key to this offense.    His .420 OBP and .989 OPS are very important to how far this team can go.    With 7 regular starters over a .350 OBP, they can get some people on base, but only Kim has over 100 RBI.   
If this team runs into a solid pitching performance, it could give them trouble, but I think they should skate into the World Series.

#2 Seed

Washington DC Generals

The previous 3 time World Series winner may not be as strong as previous years, but don't overlook them.   They should have the first round bye locked up, which assures them of not facing San Francisco until the LCS.   If the playoffs come down to one game and DC can start Elvis Ogea, this team could be tough to beat.   He is 20-5 with 14 complete games and a very solid 2.55 ERA.    After Ogea, this teams pitching drops off substantially.   Carlos James and Andres Mesa should round out the playoff starting rotation and hopefully they can get a solid performance out of 1 of the two of them.    James and Mesa combined for a 27-17 record but an ERA around 4.15.    That is not bad, but if they go up against the starting pitching of San Fran and give up 4 runs, that will be too many.   The bullpen is pretty solid, going with a closer by committee.   Four different pitchers have combined to go 32 for 39 in save opportunities.   
The offense is led by possible MVP Darryl Biddle.   A .403 OBP and .984 OPS gets this 1B many opportunities to drive in runs, and he usually comes through.  With 8 players scoring over 75 runs, the Generals usually don't miss out on a scoring opportunity.  If the Generals can get some people on base ahead of Biddle and C Brad Musial, they could be tough to contain.    
Three straight losses to Louisville does show a little of this teams weakness.    If they can get some solid pitching out of the 2 and 3 starters, along with getting some men on base ahead of the studs, this team could be tough.   On a personal note, the Wichita Bad Boys did manage a split in the 10 games with the Generals.

#3 Seed

Louisville Sluggers

This is a team that doesn't do anything extremely well, but they do win games.   Young stud Tomas Calles could be the key to this offense.   Combined with perennial MVP candidate Magglio Javier, this team can put some runs on the board.   Those two have combined for 87 home runs and 257 RBI's.   Outside of those 2 players, this team is full of role players who know their role.   This offense is well rested as no one has played over 138 games.  Hopefully having everyone at 100% will help this offense as they will have to play all four rounds if they hope to win the World Series.
If Louisville could pitch Dave Caufield every game, this team could definitely go somewhere.   Caufield is 19-5 with a 2.74 ERA.   The key to his success is to get deep into games as he has only had 1 CG so far this year.   Once it gets to the bullpen, Darrin Cota can pitch well and often.  With 113 innings out of the closer, if they can get 7 solid innings out of the starters, Cota could finish out the last two innings.    With 19 of Cota's 33 saves going more than one inning, he could become the key to how far this team can go.   Without a solid #2 or #3 starter, if Cota can come in and pitch 2-3 innings at a time, this team can win a lot of games late.   

#4 Seed

Minnesota Explorer (My prediction, with 6 of 9 games against teams with well below .500 record)

Sorry New Britain, but I think Minnesota will take over the AL North on the last weekend and move into the playoffs.   The loss of John Crow for the remainder of the season could hurt Minnesota's chances, but I think they can still come through.  The key to Minnesota's pitching is to get it to the bullpen.   If the Explorer's can get 5 solid innings out of the starters, their bullpen can pitch them to victory.   Stud closer Sergio Johnson is 36 of 36 in save opportunities along with a 2.43 ERA.   The bullpen is 23-10 while the starters are 7 games under .500.   
The offense is pretty balanced as they have 3 guys with over 100 RBI.   The one special player on this offense is Braden Cox.   With over 30 HR and SB, he can definitely jump start any offense with his .985 OPS.   
New Britain could still win this battle, but they will need some solid pitching and hitting down the stretch, as they play 3 vs Minnesota, and 3 vs the very strong Louisville Sluggers.

#5 Seed

Burlington Black Sox

Burlington will definitely make the playoffs, the only question is will they be the #5 or #6 seed.   Two season long injuries will make it difficult to advance very far in the playoffs.   The loss of Phillip Daniels will be extremely harmful to the starting pitching and the loss of C Tom Collier will not help the pitching staff either.   
The 3 man rotation of Vin Alvarez, Robin Uribe and Duke Weston give this team a fighting chance.   All three have an ERA under 4.50 and a WHIP under 1.40.   Closer Terrence Floyd and his 41 saves also give this team a way of holding the lead.   I really like the chances of this team in a 3 game series.   If they can drag a series out, this pitching could give them a good opportunity to win.
The hitting is a little weak, but if Jerome Cuddyer can get on base more, his speed can definitely cause some problems for the opposing team.   If his .341 OBP can increase in the playoffs, Rodrigo Brito and Oscar Collier can knock him in.   
This team has potential, but there may be too much pressure on this pitching staff.   Pitching does win championships, but I am not sure if there is quite enough pitching to advance them very far.

#6 Seed

Scottsdale Aces

This team can definitely score runs and score them in bunches.   With 3 players over 40 homeruns and 4 players over 100 RBI, there is no lack of run scoring.   The key to this offense could be Tomas Rivera and his .403 OBP.    His power isn't as much as Bernie Marrero, Angel Nunez and Bernard Maxwell, but he gets on base and doesn't strikeout.   The Aces have no speed, but they don't need it with all this power.
Christopher Kieschnick and Tony Cortez anchor this rotation and Javier Escobar closes them out.   Escobar is 36 for 37 in save opportunities with an ERA under 2.00.   Kieschnick and Cortez are very similar pitchers in stats and both can keep the team in any game.   They have a 32-17 combined record and both have ERA's under 4.00.   
The pitching for the Aces can keep them in most games and the power can win about any game for them.   I can see this team being a possible spoiler and Louisville could definitely have a challenge early in the playoffs.


San Francisco will be tough to beat, but there are 5 other teams that want to be the spoiler.   I see the Night Demons still being able to pull it out, but it could be interesting.    

Friday, February 15, 2008

Awards Pre-View: MVPs, Cy Young & AL Fireman

Welcome to the awards preview. Once again bear in mind this is just one man’s opinion. I am doing the awards just before the end of the season so I can make an educated guess at who the finalists should be. Before each award I will state any caveat’s I had when evaluating the award. I am picking the top 5 for each major award and then ranking those in the order I see fit. Please note, I’ve tried not to look at the projected awards lists for the last week. Therefore I do not know who is on the list and who is not on the list. So I’m trying to be objective. Obviously anyone that ends up in my top 5 but misses the world top 5, I would view as a snub. Conversely anyone who ends up in the world top 5 and misses my top 5 I would view as overrated. Since there are a little over 10 games left. Players that going on massive year end binges will not be reflected.

AL and NL MVP’s

Since this is the biggest trophy, it is also the one I have the most stipulations for.
The MVP should come from a playoff contending team, unless the players’ numbers are so overwhelmingly good that they dwarf all other candidates. My rationale if you really are the MVP of the league you should be able to get your team into the playoffs.
No pitchers will be considered. This is really more of a WIS sports rule than my rule. Since pitchers never make the MVP list, I will exclude them for consistency. Although a strong case could be made for a couple pitchers to be among the top 5.
The MVP’s batting average must exceed .275. It seems that WIS takes this a little bit farther and rarely do you see a MVP candidate bat lower than .300. However, I personally think that batting average is a little over-rated and as long as you bat over .275 you aren’t hurting you team with the outs your making.

Based on that now on to the awards.

AL MVP (League Rank in brackets if within top 25):
1a: Magglio Javier (Lou): 135 GP, 109 R (T-3), 46 HR (4th), 143 RBI (1st), .289 AVG, .626 SLG % (3rd)

I know I know, everyone is going to look at this pick and automatically think “Homer”. While I will gladly admit I have a man-crush on Mr. Javier, his numbers more than justify his lofty standing. The only player on this list that can claim to be in the top 5 in 4 out of the 5 major hitting categories despite playing approx. 10 fewer games than some other candidates. With that said compared to the other top 5 candidates his batting average does leave something to be desired. Which is why he is 1a the player at 1b is an equally deserving candidate, depending on your personal selection criteria and how much weight you put into batting average.

1b: Darryl Biddle (Wash): 148 GP, 126 R (1st), 40 HR (T-8th), 130 RBI (3rd), .325 AVG (7th), .583 SLG% (11th)

Biddle barely misses becoming the only candidate to have all five categories in the top 10. As mentioned above depending on your selection criteria Biddle may be your choice. He bests Javier in runs and average, while playing on a team that currently leads Louisville in the race for the 2nd bye. With that said his power numbers do fall short of Javier’s, including HR and RBI’s despite playing 13 more games.

3. B. Cox (Min.): 131 GP, 109 R (T-3), 37 HR (12th), 117 RBI (8th), .317 AVG (11th), .615 SLG % (5th)

Last year’s MVP is still having a very good season , although an injury has robbed Cox of his ability to pad his counting stats. Despite playing the fewest games out of the top Cox still manages to be top 10 in 3 of the 5 hitting categories while barely missing in the other two. Cox is a worthy final candidate but his numbers for this season lags in comparison to the top two. Cox only betters Javier in AVG and Biddle in SLG%. This clearly shows that the AL MVP is a two horse race.

4. Bernie Marrero (SCO): 137 GP, 89 R, 50 HR (2nd), 115 RBI (10th), .285 AVG, .595 SG% (9th)

Power numbers are better than every candidate other candidate save Javier, however his peripherals do lag behind in both Rs and AVG. Marrero still has an outside shot at the HR championship, however it doesn’t appear the MVP is in the cards.

5. Mark Kim (SF): 148 GP, 105 R (11th), 29 HR (23rd), 113 RBI (13th), .350 AVG (1st), .574 (12th)

The Night Demons deserve to have one candidate in the top 5, as they do have the AL’s best record and are the strong favorite to be the AL rep in the World Series. I am sure that WIS has Kim in the top 5 as they have an unhealthy obsession with batting average. Beyond Kim’s batting average the rest of his numbers are very good but not great. This makes him a worthy finalist for the award but an unlikely MVP. Additionally, it’s tough to be the league MVP when you are not even the team MVP (Bournigal). Once again, if not for WIS adversity to making a pitcher a finalist Bournigal would have likely held down one of the spots from (3-5).

Honourable Mentions: Tom Leonard (ROC) would have been in the mix had Rochester been contending for the playoffs.
B. Kaufman (Tex) had a major injury not derailed his season Kaufman would have been a definite finalist and was very close to making the top 5 in spite of only 109 games played. I would be willing to bet that multiple MVP’s are in the future for this young star.

NL MVP (League Rank in Brackets if top 25):

1. Y. Molina (CHA): 138 GP, 115 R (T-9), 71 HR (1st), 161 RBI (2nd), .328 AVG (T-9), .755 (1st)

Unlike the AL MVP their isn’t much doubt as to who is taking home the NL hardward, barring a collapse the league’s best team will also be home to the league’s best player. Molina’s HR total is clearly the class of the word and he manages to rank inside the top 10 for all 5 categories, the only candidate in either league to do so. Odds are the final week, will be nothing more than a victory lap for Molina.

2. J. Stevens (San Juan): 140 GP, 122 R (6th ), 50 HR (T-4), 183 RBI (1st), .295 AVG, .612 (10th)

If anyone is going to make a push to beat out Molina it will be Stevens who bests the Charlotte Bomber in R and RBI’s while ranking in the top 10 in 4 out of the 5 major categories. Stevens’ RBI great benefits from A. Bolivar insane .471 OPS. If Stevens’ HR total was within 10 of Molina this would be a neck and neck race. Unfortunately for Stevens he trails Molina by 21 HR. Stevens does lead Molina by 22 in RBI’s but I am of the thinking that HR are a little bit more difficult to acquire.

3. A. Bolivar (San Jaun): 148 GP: 156 R (1st), 18 HR, 99 RBI (T-24), .411 AVG (1st), .586 (18th)

While I do believe that average is a bit of an overrated stat it is impossible to discount a .411 batting average. Bolivar and Molina are the only two players to lead two of the 5 categories. Bolivar’s power numbers are quite impressive for a lead-off hitter who is batting over .400. By season’s end Bolivar should go over 20 HR and 100 RBI’s. Bolivar is likely to garner strong consideration from owners to place high value on OBP and Rs. However, compared to his teammate and Molina he lags a bit behind.

4. L. Iglesisa (Col): 121 GP: 106 R (16th), 56 HR (2nd), 136 RBI (5th ), .325 AVG (T-11), .721 SLG (2nd)

The only reason Iglesisa isn’t higher on the list is he has played approx. 20 less games than the other candidates. Which makes the fact he is 16th, 2nd and 5th in the counting stats. Had Igesisa played 15 more games odds are his numbers would be in Molina’s neighborhood and may surpasse Stevens. However, MVP’s aren’t handed out on what ifs and the Coors Effect does have to be considered for any Colorado hitter. I will be very interested to see what kind of numbers Iglesisa puts up next season if he can reach the 140 game plateau

5.M. Garces (Buf): 139 GP, 105 R (17th), 50 HR (4th), 150 RBI (3rd), .319 AVG (T-15), .629 SLG (6th)

Garces may have a beef to be higher on this list, maybe as high as 3rd. His numbers across the board are sparkling. His problem was he was in a coin flip situation with Bolivar and Iglesisa who both play on better teams which is the ultimate tie-breaker. Garces seems destined to be one of those players who will end up in the top 5 for career HR and RBI’s without ever getting a sniff of an MVP. There are too many hitter’s havens in the NL, which leads to outworldly totals for at least one batter.

Honorable Mention:
Frank Zhang (Col): Much like Kaufman in the AL limited games played ended up hurting his candidacy.

Geraldo Escuela (SLC): Good overall numbers but were not good enough to overcome the fact he plays on a non-contending team.

Cy Young: NL and AL

Contributing factors.
1) Unlike the MVP the pitcher does not have to come from a playoff team. Although if you are one of the top 5 pitchers in the league odds are you team is going to the playoffs
2) I view wins as a little bit overrated as the pitcher can’t affect how many runs his team with score. Well except in the NL, but with that said pitcher are typically a detriment to a rally not a contributing factor.

AL Cy Young.

One related side note, this was by far the easiest category for me to pick the top 5. If you look at the AL ERA standings there are 5 pitchers that are sub 2.75, then there is a full ER jump before the next pitcher, which made things pretty cut and dry.

1. Felipe Bournigal (SF): 234 IP, 20W-5L, 249 K’s 2.03 ERA

Last year’s winner is at it again. Bournigal is a pitcher who has gotten better with age, not only in ratings but in his statistics. Until his age begins to catch up on his it’s a pretty safe bet to engrave his name on the trophy at the start of the season. He’s the best of the SF big three. The fact that SF has 3 members on this list explains why they are the class of the AL.

2. Elvis Ogea (Wash): 247 IP, 20W-5L, 163 K’s, 2.55 ERA

Ogea comes to us from the 2nd best team in the AL (starting to detect a trend). If Bournigal weren’t so utterly dominant a case could be made for Ogea who has an outstanding 14 CG which is 6 more than his nearest competitor. However, a much lower K rate and higher ERA means Bournigal gets the better of him again.

3.Pete Daly (SF): 233 IP, 21W-5L, 225 K’s, 2.56 ERA

The 2nd of the San Fran trio makes an appearance his numbers are a mirror image of Felipe’s save for the ½ run higher era. If Bournigal were to suddenly disappear then Daly and Ogea would be in a dog fight for award.

4. David Caulfield (Lou): 226 IP, 19W-5L, 185 K’s 2.74 ERA

See I can be completely unbiased. While I would love to make a case for Caufield for Cy Young there is no arguing the numbers. To finish the trend Caufield comes from the AL’s 3rd best team. Caufields numbers while great are a step behind Daly and Ogea but very comparable to the last pitcher on the list. Caufield gets the nod at 4 based upon a higher K rate and the extra innings he’s given his team.

5. Sal Kennedy (SF): 193 IP, 18W-4L, 147 K’s, 2.46 ERA

Bjb put Kennedy up for trade earlier in the season and had anyone landed Kennedy they would have been very pleased with his production. Kennedy’s ERA is 3rd best in the AL but out of the top 5 candidates he’s pitched the fewest number of innings and produced the fewest number of K’s.

Honourable Mention: As mentioned before there is no player outside of the top 5 that a case could be made for to take one of these 5 players spots. But as an interesting side note SF has 5 pitchers in the top 25 in ERA while Lousville and Washington both have 4.

NL Cy Young

1. K. Coleman (NY2) 217 IP, 15W-5L, 216 K’s, 2.07 ERA

Much like the AL the Cy Young winner in the NL sticks out from the group. While I’m sure the votes will be more evenly spread in the NL because Coleman is a little light in the W total. However, as I mentioned before W total is an overrated stat. Coleman has clearly the best ERA and is the strikeout leader.

2. M. Meng (St. L) 220 IP, 22W-2L:, 170 K, 2.57 ERA

It would have been just as easy to put O’Keefe at number 2, but I value the extra 20 innings pitched over the slightly lower ERA. Some may argue the opposite either is a good choice for 2nd.

3. D. O’Keefe (Cha) 202 IP, 21W-2L, 165 K, 2.36 ERA

O’Keefe is the ace on the best team in the NL and is 2nd in the league in ERA but the rest of his numbers fall a little off the two players in front of him. Those extra 15-18 innings are two extra games that Meng and Coleman gave their teams.

4. J. Urbina (Col) 195 IP, 20W-5L, 141 K, 2.95 ERA

To be fair if I am going penalize Colorado hitters based on their park, I must give credit to Colorado pitchers. Urbina’s numbers are fantastic once you factor in he plays in the toughest pitchers park in the game. It would be interesting to see how his number would stack up in a more pitcher friendly environment.

B. Bonilla (NY2) 187 IP, 17W-7 L, 167 K’s, 3.08 ERA

Now this pick could have gone a number of different ways and I’ll explain why other pitchers weren’t listed here in the honorable mention section. Bonilla was picked based on the fact he has been in the rotation for the entire season and his K’s and IP were higher than all the other pitchers around him in ERA.

Honorabe Mention:

J. Nieves (Cha) this pitcher has put of fantastic numbers pitching in the middle innings. However, on the scale of pitcher’s importance it goes SP, Closer then relievers. Unfortunately, he falls into that 3rd category. He will get strong consideration for the fireman awards as I do value the quantity of innings he’s given Charlotte.

G. Dale (St. L) The last spot in the top 5 came down to Urbina and Dale. The fact that Dale has worked out of the pen for part of the season was just enough to tip the scales in Urbina’s favour, although it was very close.

AL/NL Fireman

It would be easy to pick this award just based upon the number of saves accumulated by each pitcher. Which is more or less how WIS determines it. However, a closer’s ability shouldn’t be determine by how many close games his team plays in, as that is a factor outside their control. The things I’m looking for in firemen, are SV conversion rate, K’s, IP, W and L’s. You may find it odd that I discount starter wins while valuing reliever wins. However, it makes sense since a closer will have a direct affect on the W or L, as they are suppose to be the last pitcher to pitch.

AL Fireman

1. S. Johnson (Min): 35/35 SV/SVO, 58 IP, 46 K, 2.47 ERA, 3W-4L

The top spot was a difficult decision as the next pitcher on the list is having a dymamite season as well. Johnson takes top spot based on the fact he’s perfect in save situations and he has given his team almost double the innings of the 2nd pitcher.

2. J. Esocbar (Sco): 34/35, 33 IP, 26 K, 1.62 ERA, 0W-0L

Loses out to Johnson because he has blown one more save and with how few innings he’s been used his ERA is only one or two ER from jumping to Johnson’s level. If his SV rate and ERA weren’t so great he’d be lower on this list due to IP.

3. Jared Page (SF): 34/38, 48 IP, 51 K, 2. 44 ERA 2W-3L

Page makes the list based upon his high K rate very good ERA and this close to .500 record. Page is one of two pitchers on this list that average more than a K an inning.

4.Terrence Floyd (BUR): 40/44, 56.2 IP, 3.02 ERA, 2W-6L

The season’s save leader Floyd missed out on the 3rd spot based on the fact his ERA is higher than Page’s and he’s been on the hook for 3 more losses. Between the two, their isn’t a large discrepancy. Over the final week of the season the could waffle back and forth.

5. Darrin Cota (Lou): 31/38, 109 IP, 112 K, 3.69 ERA, 8W-5L

Darrin was the toughest pitcher to place on this entire list. I toyed with putting him everywhere from 2nd to 5th. I decided for the sake of an unbiased opinion I’d put him in the lowest spot. The reason it was so difficult to place Cota was on the negative side he is only 31/38 in save opps and his ERA is the highest at 3.69. However, he has pitched double the innings of most pitchers on this list, while averaging over a K a game and has picked up 8 Ws which is more than his 7 blown saves. But he definitely deserves some fireman consideration as he differentiates himself from the field in several areas.

Honorable Mention:
C. Connelly (Roc): Just missed out on the top 5. Could overtake Floyd or Page for their spots down the stretch. Connelly’s stats are slightly worse than the top 4 pitchers and has pitched significantly fewer innings than Cota. As a consolation Connelly could take him the save crown.

I will try to get to the NL fireman, ROY and Silver Sluggers next week

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Season 7 - Top IFA signings

As season 7 slowly comes to an end we'll run a list of the top 8 IFA who became millionaires over night. Some guys are worth more than other but that's to be decided by the franchise signing the checks.

RF Julio Perez - New Britain Yorkies signed this 18 y.o. from Maneadoro, MX to 3 year MLB contract with a huge 19.5M bonus. Perez definitely has the talent to be a special hitter in the future but 19.5M for 18 y.o. prospect is a lot of money.

1B David Trinidad - Santa Fe Flyers found this 20 y.o. power hitter in Preston, CU and signed him to a 3 year MLB deal with a 16.8M bonus. David is already playing ML ball at 20 y.o. and with a season or two of good development he may become one of the best power hitters in the game.

SP Jose Alvarez - from Tela, HN, this 18 y.o. starter was signed by the Rochester Scorpions to a MILB contract that also carried a heavy 16M bonus. Jose doesn't have the star quality "Ace" but he's definitely a future ML pitcher.

SP Armando Sosa - Witchita Bad Boys signed this 18 y.o. lefty from Sinaloa, MX to a MILB contract with a 12.9M bonus. Sosa has talent but he doesn't appear to have the killer stuff that's expected out of top ML pitchers, he also injured his throwing shoulder at Low A after 30 appearances out of bullpen. Development will be key for Sosa if he wants to be effective at the ML level.

RF Freddy Martin - 18 y.o. closer type reliever out of Hyogo, JP. This kid was signed by San Juan TCB to MILB/wSTI and 12.3M bonus. Freddy has a tremendous upside with killer stuff that can only help him. Again, at 18 y.o. he's still some time away from ML but with that potential it's not a question of if but when.

SP Hector Leon - this 22 y.o. out of Don Gregorio, DO is probably the most qualified for ML out of the bunch but Hector is more of a workhorse than anything els. Atlanta Chees Grits signed Leon to a MILB with a 10M bonus.

1B Jose Santana - another 18 y.o. signed by the Santa Fe Flyers to 3 year MLB contract but this one comes with a 9.5M bonus, looks like Santa Fe went on a buying spree. Jose comes from Laguna Verde, DO and brings tremendous hitting skills with him. If this kid develops up to his potential he's going to be a scary hitter to face for any pitcher.

SP Don Kojima - signed by the Kansas City Knights to MILB contract with 9M bonus is a perfect example of how underrated prospects look like. Out of Okinawa, JP this 18 y.o. may have some scouts project him lower because of his health and durability, but Kojimas killer stuff is worth more than 9M, very Good signing by Kansas City that should be worth every penny.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Power Rankings update

#1 Charlotte FatNasty - Charlotte is 105-36 after 141 games played, they are also 6 games better than any other team in the world, and need I say more? They’ve scored 884 runs and allowed only 553 and lead the majors in runs differential with 331. Charlotte has its pitching staff ranked 3rd best in Hunter (2nd best in NL); they’ve posted a 3.60 ERA, 1.25 team WHIP, 247 OAV through 141 games. With the 2nd best offense in the world that scores runs at will with .303 team BA, .369 team OBP, .520 team SLG and .890 team OPS, this team can put up 15 runs on any pitching staff and shut down opposing hitters at the same time, that’s why this team is #1 overall. The only flaw is their 14th ranked defense that posted a .988 fielding % and 64 errors so far this season but with a 331 run differential their defense doesn’t have to be great. Charlotte currently holds the #1 spot in the NL and is definitely the favorite to represent the NL in the World Series. This team is build so well from top to bottom that placing them over San Francisco for the top spot isn’t a question anymore.

#2 San Francisco Night Demons - Season 6 Champs held the #1 power ranking spot for 138 game in season 7 but will probably finish at the #2 position. No secrets here, the Night Demons by far have the best pitching staff in the world that leads the majors in almost every pitching category including 3.20 team ERA, 1.14 team WHIP, .232 team OAV and 55 total saves. Yes, I said 1.14 team WHIP! Pitchers like P.Bournigal, P.Daly and S.Kennedy are capable of shutting down the best hitters in the game not only for innings but games and entire series at a time. I’ve seen this staff give up 0 runs in a 3 game series to one of the top ten team, and it wasn’t because of luck. Their 8th ranked offense and 11th ranked defense aren’t at the top but aren’t at the bottom either, come to think of it with a 1.14 team WHIP after 141 games I could be the 8th hitter and it wouldn’t matter much. San Francisco is currently holding the #1 seed in the AL with a 99-42 record and should be the favorites to win S7 World Series. It’s really simple, if you can’t score a single run how are you going to beat this team?

#3 St. Louis Clydsdales - St. Louis has been quietly sitting in the #3 power rankings position all season long and currently hold the #3 position in the NL with 96-45 record looking for the 2nd seed and a 1st round bye in the playoffs. Their 5th best pitching staff featuring M.Meng, C.Lawton, J.Jacquez and G.Dale is backed by the 11th ranked defense that made 62 errors so far this season and posted a .988 fielding %, if the defense can play slightly better this pitching staff is capable of shutting down the best hitters in the game. Clydsdales offense that’s currently ranked #6 in the world with .293 BA, 270 doubles (world best), 43 triples (2nd best) and .361 team OBP (4th best) has produced 882 runs (3rd best). For this team anything less then a World Series Championship is unacceptable.

#4 New York Metropolitans - Currently the hottest team in the world that has an unreal 43-7 record since the All Star break, with the help of their 14 game win streak they have surged into the #2 spot in the tough NL with a 97-44 overall record. With the #2 pitching staff (NL best), #4 offence and #2 defense in the world the Metropolitans may be the most complete team in Hunter today. The strength of this team is definitely their pitching staff that’s tops in the NL with a 3.57 team ERA, 1.22 team WHIP and .237 team OAV. The #2 defense in the world has a .991 fielding % and only made 47 errors through 141 games, if pitching and defense wins championships this team is definitely on the right track. Offensively the Metropolitans are a solid club that mostly depends on singles and speed to produce runs. With a 27-15 record in 1-run games and 11-3 in extra innings games this team is capable of winning close games against the best of them.

#5 Colorado Blasters – Would anyone like to see me hit a HR? How about 365 of them in only 141 games, yes this line up hits 2.58 HR per game. This is currently the 3rd ranked (#1 in my book) offence in Hunter, their 365 total HR, 932 total RBIs, .559 team SLG and .922 team OPS all lead the majors. They have 7 hitters with a .300+ BA, 6 hitters with 30+ HR and 4 with 40+ HR. GL facing this line up in a playoff series, if your pitcher slips for 1 inning it will probably mean 10 runs against you. Their pitching staff is currently ranked #9 in the world with a 4.56 team ERA and 1.40 team WHIP, considering Coors Field this pitching staff is actually much better than their stats indicate. The one flaw of this team is their 29th ranked defense that results in 85 errors and a .984 fielding % but this is a young team that will only get better. The Blasters are currently holding the #5 spot in Hunter with the 4th best record in the NL.

#6 San Juan TCB - San Juan has been a stellar team all season long posting an 89-52 record so far in a very tough NL. This team is the only team that may overtake Colorado as the best hitting line up in the world. TCB offence has put up amazing stats in season 7, that includes .305 team BA and .378 OBP both world best. This line up has many secrets but the main one is Angel Bolivar who also leads in the NL MVP voting, Angel is a hitting machine with .412BA and a .472 OBP both best in the world. With the 8th world ranked pitching staff and the 7th world ranked defense this team is scary to face in the playoff series. If their offense carries them like it has all season, their defense and pitching staff may be just enough for some HUGE upsets. This team is capable of putting up double digit run total against the best pitchers in the world and on a good day 15 runs in one game is nothing new.

#7 Washington D.C. Generals – This team could easily be in the #4 spot but the 3 NL teams in front of them have put up same or better records in a much tougher NL. The Generals mostly depend on there pitching staff to bring in their wins, which currently is ranked 4th in the world (2nd in AL) posting a 3.92 team ERA and 1.31 team WHIP. That’s about as good as it gets because their defense is currently ranked 21st in the world with 71 errors and a .987 teams fielding % and their offence is ranked 16th in the world with a less than stellar .278 team BA and .347 team OBP. With the departure of their superstar 3B Dan Miller to free agency it’s time to find a replacement sooner than later. Their 21-26 record in 1-run games tells me that in a tight playoff series facing top pitching staffs this team may be in deep trouble. The Generals would have a lot more problems playing in any of the NL divisions but in the AL playoffs they have a very good shot of going deep.

#8 Burlington Black Sox - It seems like this team starts out great but fade away in the 2nd half of every season. In season 7 the Black Sox started out 63-27 in the first 90 games but since the All Star brake have a less than impressive 19-30 record that includes a (1-10) streak and a (1-8) streak, both streaks occurred in a 25 games spend. This team has suffered the biggest drop in the ranking so far and if the bleeding doesn’t stop soon Burlington may be facing a deeper drop. The Black Sox defiantly have the talent to make a strong run in the AL playoffs but than again every team has a strong chance in the AL playoffs. Their 6th world ranked pitching staff has put up a 4.34 team ERA and 1.37 WHIP which isn’t bad until you find out that their home park is Mustain Stadium and the fact that this pitching staff doesn’t have to face the offense of Colorado, Charlotte or San Juan on daily basis makes their ERA look weaker than it really is. Their 23rd world ranked defense and 14th ranked offence make them even more questionable in the playoffs.

#9 Louisville Sluggers - This team has been under performing all season long, this team has much more talent than their current record of 81-60 suggests. Currently they have the 20th ranked offence, 16th ranked defense and the 7th ranked pitching staff and are leading the AL South by 8 games. That said if this team wakes up and starts playing up to their ability they are capable of beating any AL team in a playoff series. With pitchers like D.Caufield, B.Creek and L.Drabek and hitters like M.Javier, B.Gray and T.Cellas this team is definitely capable of a lot more, they just have to put it all together and start playing as a team.

#10 Scottsdale Aces - If these ranking were done after 40 games into the season Scottsdale Aces would probably be in the top 5 maybe even higher as they had the best record in AL for a while. Their collapse in the 2nd half has placed them #10 in the world and currently holding on to the last AL wild card spot only 6 games above the #7 team. Opening the season with a 31-14 record after 45 games and a pretty good 1st half record of 56-35 this was one of the better teams in the AL, but since the All Star brake the Aces clawed their way to a 24-26 record and have been on a huge down swing. Having the 6th best offence, 13th best pitching staff and #4th best defense in the world this team is capable of playing the way they did in the beginning of the season and shocking some people come playoffs time.