Wednesday, October 30, 2013

AL EAST - Season #27 Preview

Baltimore Renegades -
Despite making the playoffs eight straight seasons, the Baltimore Renegades still have not won a World Series Championship. This off-season, Baltimore talked to nearly every team in the league and left no stone unturn in their quest to add ML talent to the roster. Baltimore was extremly busy, as they pulled off FIVE trades and signed FIFTEEN free agents (six of which were assigned to AAA). Baltimore even signed and traded two players (Wayne Ohman and Mickey Reid). When the dust had settled, the Renegades had turned over half of their Major League roster.

The team tried to sign the top five free agents on the market, but the cost for Pedro Espinosa Humberto Samuel, Wilson Rolls, and former Renegades Derek Henderson and Rickey Atchley soared above what the team was willing to pay. All five players received 5-year packages between $75 and $110 million dollars each. Instead, Baltimore settled on adding roll playing hitters and added arms to compete for rotation spots and also fortify their bullpen, which collapsed in the playoffs (again) last season.
The signing fifteen free agents added depth and allowed Baltimore to trade off last season's bullpen and add sorely-needed QUALTY starting pitching. They did use some of the unused free agency money to lock up glove glove CF- Mark Lee for another five seasons.
Baltimore was in first place from wire-to-wire last season but they again fell apart at crunch time in the playoffs. After two years of making trades to get younger, this off-season saw the roster get older and more experienced. The team led the league in almost every offensive catagory last season, but traded away four of those key young players to improve the starting pitching and bullpen.
The Renegades still have a decent core of productive ballplayers and Owner/GM Terry Swayne has done an excellent job of front-loading many of the team's long-term contracts. Financially, Baltimore is in great shape for the next five seasons and has the ability to sign just about anyone they want (or need). Many of the contending teams have over-spent in recent seasons and are (or will be) paying the price soon.

The Renegades line-up is still the strength of the team. The line-up includes returning players C-Al Matos, 1B-Craig Cook, SS-Craig Jackson, CF-Mark Lee, amd former 3B turned RF-Peter Carlson. Joining those five are former Renegades 1B/DH-Emmett Collins, 3B-Wilson Wise, and LF-Cory Thomas. Rounding out the offense will be newly acquired 2B and lead-off hitter Larry Kennedy.  The four-man bench is deep with C-Bernie Rosado, UT- Junior Estrada, 2B/CF-Terry Ramirez, C/1B/DH-Anthony Hiatt.
Baltimore will go with a 4-man rotation for much of the season. The starting rotation is balanced and deep. The rotation includes returning veteran right hander Lou Hendrickson and young lefty Tim Leiter and it includes newly acquired RHP- Jimmie Veras (another former Renegade) and LHP- Ben Bolton.

The bullpen will again be anchored by left-handed closer Darrin Roth, but the supporting cast has changed. The set up men are righties Louie Abreu and Pepe Flores along with lefties D.J. Webster (the only remaining jold over from last years team), Delino Guillon, and recently acquired Coco Reagan. Lastly, the team will go with two long men this season, as RHP-Bob Brand and LHP-Gordon Wilkinson will be spot starters when needed throughout the season. 

Top Rookie- C-Al Rijo (AAA)
Key Players Lost- RHP-Angel Estrella (trade), RHP-Nolan Everrett (trade), RHP-Calvin Forbes (trade), RHP-Miguel Matos (trade), RHP-Julian Ortiz (trade), LHP-Albert Rendondo (trade), 1B- Nate DeJean (trade), 1B-Oswaldo Padilla (trade), 2B- Pablo Durazo (trade), 3B/OF-Alan Graham (trade), LF-Benji Aguilera (trade), 1B/OF- Russell Collins (FA), and DH- Jim Morris (retired).
Key Players Acquired- RHP-Louie Abreu (FA), RHP- Bob Brand (FA), RHP- Pepe Flores (FA), RHP- Jimmie Veras (trade), LHP- Ben Bolton (trade), LHP- Delino Guillon (FA), LHP- Coco Reagan (trade), C/1B/DH- Anthony Hiatt (FA), 1B/DH- Emmett Collins (trade), 2B- Larry Kennedy (FA), 3B-Wilson Wise (trade), LF-Cory Thomas (trade).
Key Off-Season Transaction- Acquiring LHP-Ben Bolton and RHP-Jimmie Veras to bolster Baltimore's starting rotation. It took a lot of manuevering with free agent signings and trades, but the Renegades were able to acquire two stud starting pitchers in a free agent market heavy on only hitters and relievers.

Columbus Cheese N' Rice -


Dover Dingbats -

Indianapolis Arrows -


AL NORTH - Season #27 Preview

Buffalo Ice Dogs -

Detroit Wolverines -

Milwaukee Blue Ribbons -

Syracuse Snow Blowers -

AL SOUTH - Season #27 Preview

Houston Wranglers -

Little Rock Rockabillies -

Montgomery Cornbread On The Brain -

New Orleans VooDoo -

AL WEST - Season #27 Preview

Anaheim Aardvarks -

Las Vegas Gamblers -

Salem Slayers -

Salt Lake City Movers & Shakers -

NL EAST - Season #27 Preview

Richmond Spiders -
Richmond’s first playoff appearance in 13 seasons was something to celebrate last year. It’s only the third time in the league’s history that this has happened. We are looking to build upon that season and made a big trade to help us achieve our goal. We were unable to sign any high priced “Type A” FA’s and kept all of our draft picks to help build the farm team for the future.

The biggest news of the off-season was the trade that brought Walt Harnish to the Richmond franchise. Catcher was a position of great need and we gave up 2 MLB arb guys who got cut, and a good prospect in David Vargas. Harnish’s salary brings some concern to the Richmond front office, but we’re hoping that with the young core that we have the initial impact will not be a burden to the team’s payroll or future development.

The Spiders line-up is very solid and consists of 5 guys who are very strong hitters: Almanza, Harnish, Watkins, Funaki, and Manto. Defensively Avery, Valdes, and Siqueiros will rotate between the SS and 3B positions.

The starting rotation is SUPER good. Abraham Booker is one of the best starters in the league and he is followed by a mix of veterans and “up and comers”. Estrada, Benningson, McFeely, and Seay round out the rotation. The bullpen will again be anchored by closer Aurelio Montanez. The key set up man is newly promoted Douglas Durbin. Virgil Stewart will help fill in the long innings between the older starters and Durbin.

Top Rookie- SS – Max Cerveza (AA) & SS - Fautino Escobar (RL)

Key Players Lost- SS – Rob Whitfield (Trade), SP Howie Anderson (Trade), LF -Thomas Andujar (FA)

Key Players Acquired- C-Walt Harnish (Trade) SS - Davey Jimenez (Rule 5) SS- Kendry Benitez (FA) SS – Tony Siqueiros (FA) SP Anthony McFeely (FA).

Key Off-Season Transaction- Acquiring C Walt Harnish. He will cost the team $54M over the next four seasons, but it will be worth it as his bat and ability to catch behind the plate make him one of the best at his position in the league.

Rochester Rodents Of Unusual Size -
The focus of our season at Rochester is to develop our ability to compete long term by attempting to deflate our current payroll commitments and concentrate on the future. In a salary cap league, hard decisions need to be made regarding fund allocations & the Tanner trade was a prime example of that reality. We will still field a competitive team so that the integrity of the season isn’t questioned but our focus is on the next few seasons prospect acquisitions & development.

Durham Natty Knights -

Washington D.C. Whalers -

NL NORTH - Season #27 Preview

Cleveland Rockers -
The Rockers enter season 27 looking for their 6th straight division title.  After winning the World Series in season 23 the Rockers haven’t been able to get past the Division Championship Series. This season again brings the expectations that anything short of a World Series title will be considered a disappointment. 

The biggest offseason acquisition was the free agent signing of CF Wilson Rolls. With the Rolls acquisition, management had to the make tough decision to trade lifetime Rocker CF Luis Osuna.  The Rockers received 3 pitchers in return for Osuna headlined by RP Miguel Matos who figure to be a fixture in the Rocker bullpen for seasons to come. 

Top prospects and players who expect to receive the call this season are SP’s Jae-Kuk Nomo, Henry Stohr, Julian Scott and Don Hogan. You may also see the arrival of Jair Acosta to the bullpen this season after his breakpoint season in AAA last year.

Montreal Bloody Sox -

Scranton Yeoman Warders -

Trenton Waves -

NL SOUTH - Season #27 Preview

Jackson Jayhawks -
Following back-to-back 52-110 records the Jayhawk's owner decided to make a change at the helm and appointed Britt Garcia as BC. His support team are a group of veteran coaches who have all shared in the disappointing achievements of the past five seasons; maybe S27 will be the start of something more like what the loyal fans in Jackson expect.

Hitting and run production will fall on three long serving stalwarts: Tony Gonzales (3B), Rob Steenstra (2B) and Martin Hujimoto (CF). Failure to put runs on the board has been a constant problem so more consistency in the short-ball hitting game is being sought; the long-ball is always welcome but no longer the team's priority.

The starters will be led by D'Angelo Cruz and Mark Nakano who in S26 at least stemmed the opponents run supply. The biggest surprise is the manager's choice to put a Rule 5 draftee in at the closer position: Albert Ramirez (age 24) recorded good stats up to HiA level but hasn't taken to the mound in either AA or AAA to date; now he's in the bigs.

The owner's challenge is to get the franchise out of the cellar and up to at least a .500 win-loss record. Concentrating on the ML roster has meant that the minors may suffer a slight drop in performance this campaign but they will still be competitive

Mexico City Hombres Azul -
The Hombres Azul are an aging team who looked to hold back father-time by adding a quality free agent to the mix. Primary targets Rickey Atchley and Wilson Rolls both garnered more than Mexico City were willing/able to afford, and by that time most of the secondary targets like Pedro Espinosa had signed elsewhere.


So, the ballclub went the trade route, making two of the biggest deals of the winter: Mexico City’s strength has been starting pitching, with at least 7 players capable of starting, this enable the club to send excellent SP Jimmie Veras to Baltimore along with 3B Cory Thomas and a prospect for 1B Oswaldo Padilla and RP Julian Ortiz. Padilla is the key as he’s young (27) and under team control for several years.


The exit of Thomas has allowed Benito Espinosa to return to 3B, but left the franchise a little weak at 2B/CF so a trade was made with Detroit for 2B Roland Street who was originally drafted (#1 in S16) by this franchise.

El Paso Banditos -

Kansas City Googly Mooglies -

NL WEST - Season #27 Preview

Fresno Maize 'N Blue -
Season 27 Outlook - It's "World Series or Bust" for Fresno who will once again be led by Superstar Tomas Cairo. Cairo unprecedentedly led every offensive category in the NL last season while taking home his 4th straight MVP award. Young offensive stars Julio Osoria, Benny Uribe, Louie Ibanez and the newly acquired Cesar Molina will provide more than enough offensive support. Future HOF Stephen Rivera returns desperate for his first World Series ring coming off another monster season that saw him finish 2nd in the MVP voting.
The reigning Cy Young winner Octavio Valenzuela leads a stellar pitching staff that also features last season's Rookie of the Year - Hee Sop Higashioka and young stud James Lamb coming off a season that saw him go 16-2 with a miniscule 2.18 ERA. Former ROY Kurt Giambi makes a solid #4. The #5 spot is currently under construction with phenoms in the minors coming quick.

Key Additions : Blockbuster offseason trade which saw Raul Batista leave Fresno by bringing in young star Cesar Molina who will fill a much needed role in the lead-off spot creating runs with his bat and speed at a high OBP rate.
Our bullpen has been an Achilles' heel for this franchise for many seasons, but hopefully bringing in dominating closer Frank Maurer will pay immediate dividends.
We also jumped in heavily in the FA market signing All-star Shortstop Pedro Espinosa away from the reigning Champs Columbus to a massive 100m contract.
Added another nice bat in Javier Hernandez via trade so we feel collectively the additions this year far outweigh the losses.

Key Losses - Adding Molina at the expense of stud SP Raul Batista wasn't any easy decision at all, Nor was losing young prospect pitchers Tito Jodie and Domingo Iglesias in the Maurer/Hernandez trade.
Last year's big FA signing Walt Harnisch's time in Fresno was brief.. Coming off a sub-par season it was an easy decision to cut our losses now even if the return was minimal.

Top Prospects - Juan Tabata (OF) is ready for the ML right now, but having a loaded roster already should afford us the luxury of giving him a full season in AAA with his eagerly anticipated ML debut coming in early Season 28.
Chun Lim Tateyama (OF) and Buddy Williamson (1B) will see the big leagues one day, but more than likely it will be with another franchise.
One of the best pitching prospects in this world is Yuniesky Delgado and while he could win the ROY this year we will be patient and let him develop another year or two in the minors. We also have jumped into the IFA market already this year bringing in another future SP in Rio Maduro who appears to be on the fast track to the majors.. Other top prospects with ML futures would include pitchers Fernando Alomar, Damaso Mangual, Julio Ambroles and Ozzie Hasegawa.

In Summary - Fear The Maize 'N Blue !!!!!!

Honolulu Rainbow Warriors -
After yet another demoralizing playoff loss, the Rainbow Warriors set out to revamp their squad via free agency, hoping to finally get past the dual humps of Fresno and Mexico City. Alas, the owners of this world open their wallets with the ease of a cheap Tijuana floozy, and Honolulu struck out in its efforts to bring in marquee players to replace departed star Rickey Atchley.

Undaunted, Warrior management pulled off a trade for a young franchise cornerstone, 3B Derek Connor, while eating salary on a pair of disgruntled vets. The fan base is skeptical, but in the final year of the great Harry Palacios' time in Honolulu, the Rainbow Warriors are hoping for one final push to bring a title to the shores of Waikiki.

Seattle Somethings -
Season 27 marks the beginning of brand-new-everything for the perenially-last-place AL West franchise. New ownership has initiated one of the the most drastic relocations that can possiblly be done from a strategic standpoint, moving from maximum-hitter-friendly Coors in Colorado to the cavernous, pitcher-friendly, Safeco in Seattle

Upon taking over a franchise that has never won a single division title, ever, in the most competitive Mike Squires division, it is obvious that a dramatic strategic overhaul is necessary.

This franchise's predecessors did not seem to have any understanding of organizational consistency or vision of how they wanted to operate their franchise from top to bottom. They did not know whether they wanted to be a team that had great hitters or good pitching, focusing on young players or assembling a roster or overpaid veterans, emphasizing scouting but not investing budget on actually signing any prospects. The previous management also had glaring failures in the draft, as history shows that three out of four consecutive drafts five-eight seasons ago (and 4 of the first 5 picks in one of the drafts) targeted players that never signed. Those players would have been in their primes now, and the absence of high-end prime-age talent is Seattle's biggest problem heading in to seasons 27-29.

The minor league system that new ownership has inherited is a mess. Overall, the system does have a fair amount of decent prospects, but none of them are developing correctly. The previous owner did not pay any attention to assigning draft picks to the correct levels after being drafted, promoting youngsters to higher levels, assigning players to their correct roles, etc.

Additionally, the predecessors had by far the worst coaching staff from top to bottom, which stunted the development of every single player in the entire farm system. This was a result of misunderstanding how to assign the budget totals correctly. In seasons 25 and 26 Seattle had the lowest amount alotted to coaching, and ended up getting stuck with the worst fielding coach, bad minor league HCs and PCs, etc.

As a result, the Seattle Somethings are definitely a rebuilding franchise. HOWEVER, the ML level does have a fair amount of talent that is capable of mediocrity during the rebuild. The MLB roster that has been inherited is capable of winning 75-80 games, as long as the pitching staff settings (pitch counts and call bullpen) are configured properly.

The Somethings have one of the best hitting-catchers in the majors in Osuna, who also thankfully happens to be above average in pitch-calling. Van Hekken is a quality, plus-fielding 28-year old shortstop/ leadoff hitter who is signed thru season 28. 26-year-old Josh Wingo is impressive offensively and on the bases but lacks defensive acumen and may get moved to 1B in the future, as he is signed thru season 30+. Vin Ellsbury is a gold-glove-level 27-year old 3B who unluckily has a weak arm but luckily has multi-positional versatility. Because of this, Ellsbury is actually slated to play first base instead of the horrific-fielding DeRojas. With Ellsbury's outstanding glove, plus range, and good mobility, Seattle expects to have a productive infield defense to support its pitching staff.

The rotation has potential to be servicable, perhaps even quite good within the confines of Safeco. Womack, Clark, and Itou have exceptional stamina, and Almonte and Stratton (converted from bullpen) have the ability and the makeup to contribute quality totals in the range of 160-180 innings pitched. The bullpen is a work-in-progress and shapes up to be one of the youngest units in all of the ML. Seattle is searching hard to acquire power arms with effective stuff that can contribute high K/9 rates. 23-year-old rookie Cookie Nakamura is penciled in as the closer despite never having pitched above AA, thanks to the previous owner's mismanagement. Two relievers were added via rule 5, two were added via 1-year-deals in free agency, and two others were acquired in a trade with Baltimore.

On the downside, there is a large number of older players that need to be moved. 31-year-old DH/1B Emmett Collins was moved to Baltimore for pitching prospects. Legendary 36-year-old 2B Charlie Hull and 33-year-old CF Bruce Blasingame still have something to offer on the field for the club, especially with the unfortunate long-term spring training neck injury to CF Leon, who was projected to start. On the other hand, 33-year-old SP Jaret Sarafini has absolutely nothing left in the tank and his $5.8M salary is utterly unmovable. Seattle will regretfully have to eat the final year of his contract in AAA; luckily season 27 is the final season for him in the Seattle organization.

These multitude of poor signings demonstrate why free agency is the worst way to build/supplement a franchise. Seattle plans to shift its philosophy towards never signing a single high-profile free agent, ever, as it is the worst money that can possibly be spent. Seattle plans to build thru the draft, through IFA, and through rule 5. Regretfully, it will probably take 4-6 seasons for the club to start blossoming under the newly-implemented changes, and growing pains are expected. Once they take effect, however, Seattle has the ambition and competitive fire to mount a serious long-term challenge to perennial division/NL powerhouse Maize'N'Blue, as well as any others that may stand in its path to World Series titles.

Vancouver Big Blue Dogs -

Saturday, July 20, 2013

AL EAST - Season #26 Preview

Baltimore Renegades -
Despite making the playoffs seven straight seasons, the Baltimore Renegades still have not won a World Series Championship. This off-season, Baltimore pulled off ONLY two trades and did NOT sign any "Type A" free agents that would have cost the club draft picks. This will be the second time in the Renegades 10-season history that they will have a first round pick.

The team did try to sign former catcher Walt Harnisch in the off season but they decided the cost was too great once his annual salary hit $13.5M dollars. Upper Management did not feel there was another "impact" free agent on the market, so they choose to lock up several core players (Craig Jackson, Pablo Durazo, Brian Jacobs, Al Matos, Alan Graham, and Olmedo Ramirez) to long-term deals.

Baltimore has been making lots of trades the last two seasons in an attempt to get younger. They made these improvements, while still maintaining one of the most potent line-ups in the league. The team has all of the ingredients needed to make a run at that illusive World Series championship which Baltimore has been missing from it's mantle.

In the way of that dream, is Baltimore's arch-rival, the Columbus Cheese N' Rice.  Last season, they beat Baltimore on Opening day and never looked back, as they went wire-to-wire, ultimately winning the World Series in six games. The Renegades are hoping the outcome will be different this season. Baltimore has an equally powerful line-up and are far superior defensively, but Columbus has one of the best two rotations in the entire league. So the AL East should again be a 2-team race to the finish line.

The good news is that Baltimore already has a great core of young ballplayers who are battle-tested in the playoffs. The Renegades have begun to shift their focus towards college scouting. The team still has no minor league talent to brag about, but the is that first round draft picks will become more of the "norm" for this club as they start growing minor league talent for the future.

GM Terry Swayne has done an excellent job of front-loading many of the team's long-term contracts. Financially, Baltimore is in great shape for the next five seasons and has the ability to sign just about anyone they want (or need). Many of the contending teams have over-spent in recent seasons and are (or will be) paying the price soon.

The biggest news of the off-season was the trade that brought the "original Baltimore Renegade" Craig Cook back to the team. Cook who signed a 3-year deal with Columbus last off-season was claimed off waivers by Buffalo during last year's ALDS. Cook, was furious as he missed the opportunity to play in another World Series. He was quoted that he "hates Columbus" and he has arrived to camp with a "chip on his shoulder".

The Renegades line-up is still the strength of the team. The line-up includes returning players C-Al Matos, 1B/DH-Oswaldo Padilla, 2B-Pablo Durazo, 3B-Alan Graham, SS-Craig Jackson, RF-Benji Aquilera, and LF-Jose Velez. The team re-acquired 1B/OF-Craig Cook and CF-Mark Lee in separate deals to round out the offense.

The bench is deep with C-Bernie Rosado, UT- Junior Estrada, 2B/CF-Terry Ramirez, 1B/OF-Jessie Stein, and 1B/3B-Russell Collins returns to Baltimore, this time in a backup capacity.

The starting rotation is very good. Veteran right handers Lou Hendrickson, Angel Estrella, and Calvin Forbes are joined by RHP-Brian Jacobs and LHP-Tim Leiter.

The bullpen will again be anchored by left closer Darrin Roth. The set up men are righties Migual Matos and Julian Ortiz and lefties D.J. Webster and Olmedo Ramirez and the long man and spot starter will be LHP-Gordon Wilkinson.

Top Rookie- 1B-Nate DeJean (AAA)

Key Players Lost- RHP-Rigo Almonte (trade), C-Javier Lopez (retired), 1B/DH- Carlos DeRojas (trade).

Key Players Acquired- C-Bernie Rosado (trade), 1B/OF- Craig Cook (trade), 1B/3B-Russell Collins (FA) and CF-Mark Lee (trade).

Key Off-Season Transaction- Re-acquiring 1B/RF-Craig Cook. He will cost the team $18M over the next two seasons, but it will be worth it as his leadership and fiery personality were sorely missed last season

Columbus Cheese N' Rice -

The Cheese n’ Rice are looking to repeat in season 26 as WS champs led by Cy Young candidates Niko Kirby and Bret Clayton and big hitters Artie Bukvich and Cody Eischen.

We don’t plan on calling upon any rookies as the core of the team remains intact, having lost nobody of major significance in the offseason.

Derek Cunningham was this off-season’s biggest acquisition, hopefully solidifying the pitching staff as one of the best in the league

Dover Dingbats -
Well it’s going to be a bit of a rebuilding season for the Dingbats. I was able to pick up some Rule 5 draftees that will definitely be able to contribute to the ML team. It will be nice having the #1 and #4 picks in the draft to stock up the lousy farm system.

Next year I will shed my team of many multi-million dollar minor league contracts that the previous owner inexplicably took on, so hopefully the International market will be good to me. Unfortunately, my best players are pretty league average right now, but at least I have an elite defensive catcher in Emilio Roque! Basically, I’m just focused on developing the little talent I have while maximizing the ML quality prospects I can get out of this rebuilding process.

Philadelphia Balboas -

AL NORTH - Season #26 Preview

Buffalo Ice Dogs -

Detroit Wolverines -

Fargo Bulldogs -

Milwaukee Blue Ribbons -

AL SOUTH - Season #26 Preview

Houston Wranglers -

Little Rock Rockabillies -

Montgomery Cornbread On The Brain -

New Orleans VooDoo -

AL WEST - Season #26 Preview

Anaheim Aardvarks -

Las Vegas Gamblers -

Salem Slayers -

Salt Lake City Movers & Shakers -

Friday, July 19, 2013

NL EAST - Season #26 Preview

Pittsburgh Samsters -
The Pittsburgh Samsters are starting a slight rebuild as the team has a few quality veterans, but not a strong enough high-end talent or a deep enough farm system (only one prospect I’d consider elite) to make a serious run at the title. This season will be focused on acquiring young talent via the draft (four picks in the first and sandwich rounds) and the International free agent market. I’m also still looking to trade some of my veterans, but still have not found the right partners yet, but am hoping to swing some deals at the deadline.

My biggest loss during the off-season was catcher Walt Harnish, who I decided to let walk for the draft picks instead of trying to resign. All of my free agent signings were aimed at brining in older players on short-term deals to fill holes in order to keep the team competitive in the near term while keeping financial flexibility in the future. There are really no rookies of note, although I did take several players in the Rule 5 draft looking for some young and cheap tale.

Richmond Spiders -

Rochester Rodents Of Unusual Size -

Washington D.C. Whalers -

NL NORTH - Season #26 Preview

Cleveland Rockers -
Cleveland fans are pumped for what should be another exciting season. The Rockers are going for their 5th consecutive division championship and management feels they have what it takes to get back to the World Series. 2B Delino Silva, SS Aubrey Morton and CF Luis Osuns lead the offense while the pitching staff relies of solid starting pitching and a shutdown bullpen led by Raul Martin, Pepe Flore and Graeme Wilkerson.

The top prospects knocking at the door are led by a couple of starting pitchers Louie Okajima and Jason Coy who are just an injury or trade away from getting the call. C/DH Tom LaRoche's bat is ready for the bigs but is probably more suited for an AL team and 3B Reggie Cooper is also patiently waiting for his opportunity. Slick fielding SS and career Rocker Tony Torres will be missed as he was lost in free agncy.

One trade was made as their was a little logjam in the bullpen. Corey Milton and Hal Alexander were moved to Mexico City for a C prospect.  

Scranton Yeoman Warders -
I named the team after the retired military men who guard the Tower of London.
My main goal is to get this team to respectability. After a 50 win season, there is no where to go but up. My plan is to win 62-68 games this year and increase every year until this team is a contender, hopefully within 3-4 seasons.  Because both offensively and pitching were poor last year, my main concerns were easy.

FA Signings- P Willie Estrada
P Willie Cerda

Hopefully they won't give ME the willies...
A couple of cheap bats to help and work from there, maybe with a trade or two, IFA signings and draft picks, (3 in the top 36).

A good Rookie prospect I believe will be SS Banjo Wiltse (don't laugh) who went .328, 26 and 77 in AAA ball last year. Another Rookie is P Abraham BIrd, who last year had a 2.87 ERA in 106 innings in AAA.

Lost closer Dennis Reuter in Free agency and will have to be ahead a lot to make that loss hurt.

The best acquisition in the off season was definitely the pitching because of the lack of quality last year and we all know how important that is.

Look forward to the competition and hopefully we won't be out of it until the 100th game!

Montreal Bloody Sox -

Trenton Waves -

NL SOUTH - Season #26 Preview

El Paso Banditos -
No significant offseason moves since mangement missed the early FA signing period while pimping in Vegas. Did grab vet Tony Torres for some much needed help at SS. Douglas White was promoted to start at 1B. IFA youngster, Manuel Familia will have a full season to stabilize the bullpen. Last season's big FA signing, TJ Hall, is hopeful to rebound from a disappointing injury-filled year.

This season's objective is to finish above .500 with the possibility of challenging for a wild card birth if the offense can find some consistency. However, El Paso is excited about the future with the continued development of a plethora of former high 1st-round picks. Playoffs or bust in season #27!

Expect to see stud prospects Ozzie Calderon, Pablo Tavarez, Antonio Choi, and Richard Tatum promoted to the show by mid-season. Others like D'Angelo Osoria, Wladmir Eovaldi, Gerald Cho, and Albie Fernandez are on-track to contribute next season.

Jackson Jayhawks -
The Jackson Jayhawks have brought back Bingo Harris for his fifth year as the major league squad's BC. After a significant improvement in season twenty-four the last campaign was a real disappointment.

Gregory Shelley has progressed through the minors and now gets to start on the Bigs at SS.

Ryan Lary (25) has been acquired from New York where he disappointed at the top level. He has much potential to hit the long-ball and hopefully the friendly confines of the Jackson stadium will see him bring home many much needed runs.

Rob Steenstra, veteran 2B, will need to find his hitting skills to rekindle his 150+/season of past years.

Opening day pitcher will be newly acquired D'Angelo Cruz, a 16-year veteran who most recently plied his trade in Vancouver.

The rest of the bullpen has good potential and whilst they may keep opponents scoring in check they will need the Jayhawks to get runs on the board if the wins are to exceed the losses.

A breakeven season would be seen as an achievement. Looking to get at least two of the minors into their playoff brackets after a very poor set of performances in S25.

With spring training now concluded everybody is at par: 0-0 so, come on you Jackson fans, get out and cheer Bingo's men on to success!

Mexico City Hombres Azul -
The Hombres Azul roster is currently the second oldest in Squires, whilst management have designs on getting younger, they are also hoping to visit the post season once again.

Two-time MVP Esteban Montero left via free agency, and Mexico City failed to replace him with a marquee signing, instead inking CF Rico Paniagua and LF Jose Lee to front-loaded contracts which will give the franchise payroll flexibility in future seasons.

The Hombres Azul have pulled the trigger on one trade, sending catching prospect Jayson Sadler to the Rockers for RPs Corey Milton & Hal Alexander. The biggest move of the winter however, was signing right-fielder and lead-off hitter Ronnie Romero to a 3 year deal.

The star man in Mexico is 2B/3B Benito Espinoza, although 1B Delino Manzanillo is a long-time club favourite. The intrigue around the club is whether SP Philip Davis can bounce back from the labrum tear he suffered last year, there are concerns he’s lost quite a bit off his fastball.

Catcher Homer Miller will make his big league debut soon, proving that diamonds in the rough are not a complete waste of time.

Kansas City Googly Mooglies -

NL WEST - Season #26 Preview

Fresno Maize 'N Blue -
Season 26 should look much like Season 25 for The Maize 'N Blue even with the move from Oakland to Fresno in the offseason...

The expectations of a return to The World Series are high.

Offense is led by the best player in Squires in Tomas Cairo. The young phenom brought home his 3rd straight MVP and with the addition of the reigning Rookie of the Year Benny Uribe there should be no problems scoring runs. Top prospect Julio Osoria should make his highly anticipated debut shortly after the 20-gm mark and lock down 3B for the next 15 seasons or longer.

A late season trade brought in future HOF Stephen Rivera who helped lead a surprising run through the playoffs and will hopefully lead to Rivera getting his first ring. Pitchers shouldn't sleep on Louis Ibanez who possesses a great bat as well.

Pitching will also be very solid. Led by studs Octavio Valenzuela and Raul Batista and a now deep bullpen just waiting for the arrival of Hee Sop Higashioka also around the 20-gm mark. Much debate was made after we traded for Valenzuela who only had a year left on his contract and came at a very steep price, but the gamble paid off as we came to terms on a new 5-yr extension which should keep the future HOF'er in a Maize 'N Blue uniform for the rest of his career.

TOP ADDITIONS - We felt the need to tighten up our defense at SS so we brought back Sean Waters in a pre-season trade costing us a couple nice prospects but also added a nice RP in Damaso Mangual as well .

Biggest addition was the FA signing of All-star C Walt Harnisch to a rather large 5-yr contract at 13.5m per year..

We feel this was an investment worth making even if some in the clubhouse are wondering when they are gonna get their big payday.

FUTURE - Traded several quality prospects to bring in Valenzuela and Rivera last year, but payroll is still low and we will hopefully replenish with a couple studs from this years IFA class.

Top prospects in waiting not already mentioned would be Yuniesky Delgado (SP), Buddy Williamson (1B) Chun Lim Tateyama (3B) and Tito Jodie (SP), but the best of the bunch should be OF Juan Tabata who was acquired in a blockbuster trade last year..

The train has left the station and is rolling full steam ahead !!!

Honolulu Rainbow Warriors -
Another stellar regular season, another postseason flop. The fans of Honolulu are fed up, and management is feeling the pressure after a 118-win regular season went nowhere. The Rainbow Warrior franchise has made the playoffs in 20 of 26 seasons, and has only made it to one World Series, winning none.

The long-tortured faithful are crying that if they can't do it this year, it may be too late, with two-time Cy Young winner Harry Palacios aging, star third baseman Ricky Atchley in the final year of his contract, and the supplemental pieces beginning their declines.

There is excitement surrounding rookie of the year finalists Pat Shannon and Naoto Kida, but it isn't enough to temper the unhappiness about another imperfect season.

Colorado Crack Whores -

Vancouver Big Blue Dogs -

Monday, January 14, 2013

AL EAST - Season #24 Preview

Baltimore Renegades

The Baltimore Renegades are determined to win their first World Series.   This off-season, upper management has done everything in it's power to try and make this the year.  Baltimore has been extremely busy, as they have rebuilt last years under-achieving starting rotation and they were also able to solidify an already-strong bullpen by adding three more quality arms. 

They made these improvements, while still maintaining one of the most potent line-ups in the league.  Baltimore was one of seven teams to have scored 1000 runs last season, and this line-up is aiming to duplicate that feat again this season.  The team has all of the ingredients needed to make a run at that illusive World Series championship which Baltimore has been missing from it's mantle.

Some of the Renegades star players are starting to age a little, and several big name players (Craig Cook, Calvin Forbes, and Jim Morris) are free agents at season's end.  Baltimore's window of opportunity may be shrinking a little bit, but management still feels there is a 2-3 year window to win.  Realistically, this may be the last chance to try to win it all before a rebuilding project occurs.

The good news is that Baltimore already has a great core of young ballplayers who are battle-tested in the playoffs.  Many of these core players are locked up to long term deals too.  The Renegades have also begun to shift their focus towards their minor league system.  The team has added to their minor league budget each of the last two seasons.  This, coupled with the fact that the Renegades have 4 of the first 61 picks in this year's amateur draft bodes well for Baltimore's future.  So, Baltimore should be a force to reckon with for many years to come.
Financially, GM Terry Swayne has done an excellent job front-loading many of the team's long-term contracts. Many of the contending teams spent an over-exuberant amount of money this off-season, but Baltimore found many bargains. Milt Gagne, Jessie Stein, Anthony Thomas, Lou Guthrie, and Jake Keppinger were all signed at great salaries compared to what other teams paid for similarly valued players.

The biggest news of the off-season was the trade of original Baltimore Renegade Craig Cook.  Cook refused to sign a long term deal, so he was traded to Montgomery.  This move was very unpopular with the fans; so much so, that when the trade was announced, riots broke out in the streets of Baltimore and season ticket sales plummeted 11%.  The Renegades quickly addressed this issue as they reacquired Craig Cook for a package of players and cash.  Craig Cook's short 10 game stint in Montgomery ends his tenure as the 'last original Renegade" but the fans don't seem to care as the team has sold out every home game (again) this season, which marks the 10th year in a row.

The Renegades line-up is still the strength of the team.  The line-up includes returning players C-Walt Harnisch, 1B-Oswaldo Padilla, CF-Ricky Atchley, SS-Craig Jackson, RF-Red James, DH-Jim Morris, and re-acquired LF-Craig Cook.  Newly acquired 2B-Mickey Reid (a former first round pick by the Renegades) and 3B-Miguel Cabeza (a late free agent signing who will replace injured 3B-Andy Norton-neck surgery) will round out the line-up.  The bench is deep and decent with UT-Pepe Cabellero, UT- Junior Estrada, 2B/OF-Terry Ramirez, 1B/OF-Jessie Stein, and back-up C- Alex Crosby.

The starting rotation is much improved.  Gone are David Vargas and Jimmie Veres.  The staff is now anchored by FIVE veterans. RHP's- Milt Gagne, Calvin Forbes, and Jamie Benningson and LHP's- Vic Ordonez and Angel Martin give Baltimore the best rotation it's had in the franchise's history.  The long man and emergency starter will be rookie LHP-Tim Leiter, but the team believes that he has tremendous upside (hence the trade of Craig Cook for him).  The bullpen will again be anchored by lefty closer Darrin Roth.  The set up men are righties Theodore Standridge and Julian Ortiz and lefties D.J. Webster and Olmedo Ramirez.

Top Rookie- LHP- Tom Leiter

Key Players Lost- LHP-Neftali Delgado (FA), LHP-Willie Quinones (trade), RHP-Damien Murphy (FA), RHP-David Vargas (FA), RHP-Jimmie Veras (trade), LF-Stuart Locke (FA), CF-Bruce Blasingame (FA) DH-Buddy Williamson (trade). 

Key Players Acquired- LHP-DJ Webster (trade), RHP-Jamie Benningson (trade), RHP-Milt Gagne (FA), RHP-Theodore Standridge (trade), 3B-Miquel Cabeza (FA), CF-Terry Ramirez (trade). 
Key Off-Season Transaction- Trading, then re-acquiring 1B/RF-Craig Cook.  We were able to pick up one of the best young arms in the game by acquiring Tim Leiter for Cook, then reacquiring Cook, a week later, for two off-season free agent signings was a great feat.

Columbus Chesse N' Rice


Chicago Goshawks


Philadelphia Balboas


Sunday, January 13, 2013

AL NORTH - Season #24 Preview

Buffalo Ice Dogs

The Youth movement has come to Buffalo as the Ice Dogs try to regain some traction after several losing seasons. Coming off another season of over 100 losses, the fans are jumping off the bandwagon and this has led to some changes in the front office philosophy as well as clubhouse changes. 

Several veterans were not resigned in the off season, allowing for promotions of some young players. Walt Osborne was resigned and is expected to lead the pitching staff again this season, the team is hoping for more consistent pitching from him. In order to give the staff another veteran, the Ice Dogs signed free agent Josh Curtis. Two of the young potential stars, Louis Flood will start at 3B and Peter Carlson will be the starting SS. 

The team is rebuilding once again, but this time the blueprint is different and they expect it to be more successful.

Detroit Wolverines

Key Additions: Lawrence Williams 3B(FA), Alvin Hensley SS(Waivers), Neftali Delgado RP(FA), Harry Pinzon SP(FA)

Key Losses: Anthony Thomas 3B(FA), Julio Romero SP(FA), Neal Goodman RP(FA),
Overview: After another 2nd Place finish and just missing the playoffs again last season, Detroit is hoping that their young team will make the leap to make the next step. The team is led by Last Year’s All-Star Game MVP CF Roland Street. Roland had his second consecutive 10 RBI Season Last Year and looks to improve.

The Pitching is led by Last Year’s star FA acquisition Lorenzo Guillon, Lorenzo had 18 wins in his first season in Detroit. 1b is the home of the longest tenured Wolverine Michael Lee, he led the team last year with 147 RBI’s(a Career High), 2b has Speedster an Lead Off Man Javy Jimenez starting his 3rd season, SS will feature a platoon of 2nd Year man Bartolo Padilla and Alvin Hensley. This is a position of little offense but great defense. 3b features key FA acquisition Lawrence Williams, Williams hit 35 homers and had 120 RBI’s for Sioux Falls last season.

The Outfield features CF Roland Street. Left Field will have a platoon of Ken Montgomery and Tim Taylor(could develop into one player winning the job depending how they play.) RF has Charlie Little as the starter, we are looking for him to make a big leap in production this season. Catcher has ling time tandem Reid Barker and Robbie Belisle. Belisle just might be ready for a huge leap in production. DH has Enrique Bolivar, Enrique had a .383 OBP in a limited role last season.  

The Bench feature last season’s starting SS Fausto Martin who can play at multiple positions.
The Starting Pitching is again led by Lorenzo Guillon along with past All-Stars J.D. Randall, Angel Estrella, And Harry Pinzon, The last man of the group is Horacio Sierra, last seasons gold glove winner. Relief Pitching features closer Harry Cooper, long time set up men Rob Rekar and Stephen Allen. The long relief has a starter from last season Doc Blair, Trevor Blank and newly acquired Neftali Delgado.

Milwaukee Blue Ribbons

The Milwaukee Blue Ribbons are the world economy, circa 2009. Years of inflated egos, reckless spending and lavish compensation for the undeserving elite have wrought havoc in equal parts on the budget and morale. Fearful of daily protests outside the office door, much like AIG suffered years ago, the new management team swiftly relocated the franchise from Philadelphia to Milwaukee. (And not just because of the half-cheeseburger, half-bratwurst concoction known as <a href=>The Bomber</a>.)

The change of nicknames is part corporate sponsorship (the world headquarters of Pabst is in town) and part optimism for the future. After all, PBR is an award-winning beer. (That the award came from the antiquated concoction known as the World’s Fair from 1893 is irrelevant.)

As for the club’s Season 24 prospects, I think of that old expression, “a day late and a dollar short,” only I translate it into “a year late and a rotation short.” The Blue Ribbons are good enough to be competitive, but a source close to management fears they might not have what it takes to truly contend.

As such, the source notes that any and all trade offers will be accepted, and virtually no one is off limits. In particular, power-hitting outfielder Stephen Rivera and shutdown closer Norman Nelson are hot trade targets.


Helena Horsemen


AL SOUTH - Season #24 Preview

Houston Wranglers 

I'm embarking on my third season as owner of the Houston Wranglers. This team was a .500 team when I took over, with 80 and 81 wins the two seasons prior to my arrival. We won 46 games my first year and improved to 59 wins last season. I hope to continue the improvement and reach 80 wins this season. 

We have a lot of young pitching talent at the AA and AAA levels that we hope to move towards the big leagues. My ML staff does include two really good young arms in Andres Moreno and Kevin Aoki. We hope to keep these kids around as they are 22 and 23 years old, respectively.

Offensively, we are excited to keep 27 year old DH Guillermo Matos on the roster. Matos hit .319 last season, with 53 HR and 164 RBI. We also have a good young AAA catcher in Lenny Smart that should promote to the ML roster anytime.

The top prospect in the Wranglers organization is clearly the 21 year old pitcher, Harry Newman. He was the #1 overall draft pick pick for us last season. In the minors he pitched in 20 games, going 9-3 with an ERA of 2.34. He'll start the season in AA but is clearly on the fast track to the bigs. We're also excited about our 2nd round pick from last season, 1B Yonder Escobar. In rookie and Lo A ball last season Escobar played in 77 games and hit .382 with 28 HR.

Little Rock Rockabillies


Montgomery Cornbread On The Brain


Santa Fe Railroads 


AL WEST - Season #24 Preview

Anaheim Aardarks


Las Vegas Gamblers 


Salem Slayers


Salt Lake Movers and Shakers


Saturday, January 12, 2013

NL EAST - Season #24 Preview

New York Highlanders


Richmond Spiders


Rochester Rodents Of Unusual Size


Washington D.C. Whalers