Saturday, March 31, 2012

NL EAST - Season #21 Preview

Richmond Spiders

It’s been two years in a row that the Richmond Spiders have been the last place team in the league, and this year the rebuilding stops and the winning (hopefully) starts.  The season started with a purge of most of the untalented players on last years MLB roster.

We have promoted 4 players that I hope to build the core of the team around in the coming future. Red James (RF) is a first round draft pick from season 15, and he’s legit at the plate. He will be a welcome addition to a line-up that was putrid last year.

From a pitching perspective, Torey Olivares, Herb Leary, and Phillip Seay were all promoted this year. Olivares was signed as an IFA in season 19, Leary was a first round pick in season 17, and Seay was acquired in season 18 from Baltimore for Russell Collins.

The other key moves in the offseason were extending set-up man Miranda’s contract, and landing a couple key pieces in FA. Geraldo Pimentel (C) and Marcus Lamb (SS) are some aging vets, but will hopefully bring some offensive punch to the Spiders line-up this year. We also signed some pitching help as well, Xavier Maxwell and Hanley Perez should be able to add some stability to a very poor rotation from a year ago.

Overall the Spiders franchise has had only 1 season in 20 years over .500, I hope to make it two this year. The future looks bright in Richmond!

Rochester Rodents Of Unusual Size

Rochester is still looking to avoid the early season holes we keep digging every year.
The starting offense returns intact, but our bench has undergone a bit of an overhaul. Welcome to new comers Oswaldo Guapo to handle LF & 1b duties and John Worthington to cover SS late in games. Both come with much better offense than we have had in the past w/ former SS’s Garland & Parker who were defense only. Still looking for these guys to hit like they should, especially since there arb numbers are about to really increase next year or two…then it will be decision time on this group.

The pitching staff has traded our #1 starter Willie Estrada (lost as type A – don’t get me started on the compensation situation!) for serious ace & megabuck contract havin’ Harry Palacios. We have also brought up a couple noobs to fortify the pen in former #6 pick season 18 Frank Mauer and Orlando Marmol. Pitching staff has a lot of control overall & very nice splits – should be a strength.
A lot of our top prospects are gone in the Palacios deal….but we have Howie Boyle developing for the pen, last year’s #1 pick and a few compensation picks to refortify the system.

New York Knights


Washington D.C. Whalers


NL NORTH - Season #21 Preview

Cleveland Rockers

The biggest news of the offseason came when we traded long time 2B Thomas Blanco, former rule 5 pick CF Trevor Gray and former 14th overall pick SP Bert Brock to the Tourists for RP Raul Martin. We are really excited about Martin.  We believe he is one of the top 3 bullpen arms in the world and at 29 years of age has plenty of good baseball left in him. 

 The Rockers choose not to spend big this year on free agents because of all the young players that need playing time.  We lost probably our biggest star, 3B Ober McClellan to free agency but felt we could justify letting him go with Kendry Benitez ready to take over.  We also lost a couple of solid bullpen arms but felt we had the talent to replace them in the minors at a fraction of the cost. 

Our top prospect is probably LF Jolbert Campos, he will hit for power and average when he arrives to the big leagues. Look for 2B Yorvit Roque, 3B Kendry Benitez, C Victor Osuna, SP Heinie Starr, RP Josh Truman and possibly RP Hal Alexander to make their ML debuts at some point this season.

Montreal Thunder Birds

Pawtucket Sox


Toronto Gang Colours


Friday, March 30, 2012

NL SOUTH - Season #21 Preview

Florida Ocean Blue

After staying in the wildcard hunt right up through the final day of last season but failing to make the cut, the major objective this off-season was to bolster an offense that finished near the bottom of the league in run production.

Despite the efforts of MVP Scot Simontachi, the Blue fared poorly due to little or no production from 2 outfield spots and SS. Vet slugger Ralph Wallace was signed to play some 1B to get another bat into the line-up, and CF Trevor Grey was brought in via trade to get on base at the top of the order, while skillfully manning the key defensive position. We're also hoping from bounce-back seasons from Charlie Hull and Carlos Sosa, whom we hope gets inspired by playing out his walk-year.

The bullpen remains a strength, led by lights-out closer Andrew Ratliff, but the rotation is shaky behind the 1-2 punch of Harry Mathews and Rex Andrews. Hopefully, the revamped offense will help overcome the weak back-end of the rotation.

On the farm, speed-demon Patrick Boyle is ready for the call should Sosa again struggle, or should we suffer a major injury. Starter Gene Bolden is still acouple years away, and we are excited about the first two picks in last year's draft; 2B Buck Hutchinson, who is already capable of fielding the position, but needs to develop his bat, and starter Jack Browning.

Mexico City Hombres Azul

Hardly lost anyone, Charlie Jefferies tested free agency, but it looks as if no-one wanted him as I got him back for his asking price! Lost Lonny Alomar who was the vL half of my RF platoon.

The only new Hombre is Ronnie Romero who was acquired in a trade with Rochester, Ronnie will start in right field against lefties, and do some pinch-running. The acquisition of Romero compliments the Hombres Azul’s playing style: contact and speed, we now have 4 hitter with 90+ speed, but only one with 80+ power.

The cupboard is bare, almost. Ignacio Rondon will probably be starting catcher in Season 22, glovesmith Flip Riske will make a good back-up infielder, and Horacio Mujica may make a big league 2B if his glove improves.

Hoping for a repeat, it’s pretty much the same team so there should be a decent chance, but standing still is often not good enough, and I’m bound to see some regression from last years Cy Young winner Danys Ayala and silver slugger CF Alan Graham who both had career years.  I’m hoping that these will be balanced out by improvements from SS Alving Sanchez, and a full season from SP Rashun Gonzalez.

Kansas City Brownie's Wallbangers


Nashville Neurotic Nematodes


Thursday, March 29, 2012

NL WEST - Season #21 Preview

Honolulu Rainbow Warriors

After an exciting but ultimately failed NLCS appearance last season, the Honolulu Rainbow Warriors are making an all-out push to bring the World Series trophy to Waikiki Beach.*

Expensive, talented, and past your prime? Come on down! The Warriors loaded up on mid-30's graybeards, bringing in strong starters Chief Blair and Brandon Linden, and former MVP Billy Reynolds, for one last shot at glory. The controversial six-man rotation will return, and the Warriors hope that their core of Matty Lee, Herb Reed, Deivi Alomar, and clubhouse cancer Rafael Blasco can combine with a power bullpen to get past the Mexico City juggernaut.

Minor leagues? Don't worry about it. Not much to be had there beyond future No. 3 starter Derrek Jones. But only Baseball America will care about that once all of Hawaii is rejoicing at the all-night post-World Series Luau in Diamondhead Crater.

*Hawaiian native Barack Obama has promised to throw out the first pitch if the Warriors make the Series.

Scottsdale Maize 'N Blue

Key Additions - All Prospects -Benji Aguilera, Andres Macias, Adam Riggs, DJ Webster, Kurt Giambi

Key Losses - Harry Palacios, Delino Silva, Felipe Martinez

Top Prospects - Outside of the new additions, my team is being built through OF - Wiki Rivas and Jose Velez, SP- Raul Batista, James Lamb and Lou Hendrickson as well as RP Wandy Urbina and Christopher Villareal.

Outlook - Yes we moved again..We dropped massive payroll and talent by trading Palacios and Silva, but this team was still a few years away with them so they were moved for quality prospects. .Future looks extremely bright. Ace SP Niko Kirby still has several years in this franchise though the enormous offers I've been receiving for him could see him in a new uniform in Season 22.

St. Louis Wish I Had Pujols' 

Top player added this year is Hootie Stockton who was a free agency signing. Also brought up Ted Van Hekken, who is probably my best prospect and Neifi Cabrera to pair along side Sparky Lee at the top of the line-up.

For the second straight year I lost my best reliever to free agency as Aurelio Montanez left the team. My top prospects include Vin Ellsbury on triple-A and a couple of pitchers, Itou and Okajima, at the lower levels. Would like to compete this year, but realize I am probably one more pitcher and another power bat to go with Patel away from really being a factor in the division race.

Vancouver Big Blue Bulldogs