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 -