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


NL NORTH - Season #24 Preview

Cleveland Rockers

The Cleveland area is still abuzz over the Rockers first championship ever. The Rockers return their entire pitching staff from last season lead by a strong bullpen and a solid group of starters featuring Pete Steinbach.
Cleveland also returns every position player as well except for catcher Ernest Jameson who was replaced with a trade for Tony Costilla.
Also not back this year is backup outfielder and good guy Hawk Ashby. It was tough to let him go but room needed to be made for up and comers Valerio Nieves and/or Ivan Mendez. The Rocker faithful hope their magic ride extends to this season as well.

Montreal Bloody Sox

The Bloody Sox are back. With the starts of what looks like a rebuilt minor league system the future looks bright for this franchise. The major league squad has their work cut out for them as the team has turned over several players and positions over the past 3 seasons. But they have their eyes set on the future with some young talent ready to come into their own. dy sox are back.
With the starts of what looks like a rebuilt minor league system the future looks bright for this franchise. The major league squad has their work cut out for them as the team has turned over several players and positions over the past 3 seasons. But they have their eyes set on the future with some young talent ready to come into their own.

Pittsburgh Rippers

I am predicting a 70-92 record. This is going to be an interesting season as I am getting my feet wet in Hardball Dynasty and will try to get this team competitive.

Trenton Waves


NL SOUTH - Season #24 Preview

Jackson Jayhawks

The Jayhawk fans must really be hoping for some improvement this season after disappointing returns of 60-102 and 47-115 under the first two years of their English owner, loosecc. The glimmer of a brighter future at the major league level comes from last year's AAA group who went the distance in the playoffs only to come off sceond best in the world series.

The owner seems to stake his reputation on loyalty and for the third season has Bingo Harris as BC and Steve Haney as HC. Making his debut at the top level as pitching coach is Benji Womack.

It hasn't been all quiet during the pre-season and spring training period. The pitching rotation has been boosted by the arrival of Willie Harville from New Orleans albeit at the expense of two very promising prospects (Richard Tatum and Alvin White) and closing this year will be Tim Dodd who has moved over from north of the border Vancouver.

Run scoring has been a problem and the owner readily admits that going-long will be rare; however, getting men on base has been the area of work and the acquistion of Ron Pinto from AAA-Las Vegas is designed to over come this issue; it needs to as his deal involved Jackson favourite and hitting prospect Louie Thomas going the other way. With Pinto leading-off the middle of the line-up is with Ruby Clemens brought over from Anaheim. For what home runs may be despatched that will depend on Rob Steenstra's bat (his 23 led the team in S23).

With efforts to improve the ML performance the minor team rosters have been striped of their best talent and it may be a year of rebuilding. However, with decent coaches in place, funds being spent on training and medical, there is at least a platform to build on.

"My aim is to bring success and a World Series title to the wonderful city of Jackson and I thank the many supporters of the franchise for their continued belief in this goal. I celebrate each victory with you and I take responsibility for every defeat. I'm not giving up and if it isn't S24 then I'll be fighting for better in S25 and beyond." said owner loosecc at a press conference in his home town of Maidstone just prior to opening day.

Kansas City Googly Mooglies

After winning 93 games in Season 23, the Atlanta franchise relocated to Kansas City and was renamed the Googly Mooglies. With no previous dynasty experience, the team’s new ownership chose not to shake things up during the off-season, instead bringing back nearly everyone from what was a veteran-laden squad.

The two most significant signings were of No. 1 starter Harry Matthews (two years, $14 million) and reliever Earle Ripken (one year, $4.4 million). Both players are longstanding members of the organization. If all goes well, the Googly Mooglies could finish above .500 again, however, they could have trouble overcoming an early spring injury to Matthews.

Mexico City Hombres Azul

Mexico City will be looking to win the NL South for 6th year running, and then see how it goes in the playoffs .

After several years of stability there were a fair few changes in Mexico City this offseason as three key pitchers filed for free agency including the Cy Young award winners from the past two seasons (Danys Ayala and Milt Gagne) and top class closer Philip Norton. All three of these pitchers were 35 years old and had cost over $41m in season 23, so the opportunity was taken to get a little younger and add a bat.

The Hombres Azul made three trades over the summer, each garnering a pitcher to replace the triumvirate of Ayala, Gagne & Norton. Firstly, dependable RP Joseph Lee joined from Washington for the price of a mid-level prospect, and then trades with Anaheim and Baltimore (what a trade involving Baltimore!?!) added starting pitchers Drew Ducey and Jimmie Veras. Leaving Mexico in these deals were RF Edwin Dixon, 2B/LF Mickey Reid, RP Theo Standridge, and a pitching prospect.

Giving up Standridge had not been part of the plan so Mexico turned to free agency for a replacement – welcoming back RP Miguel Gonzales.

Conscious that two-time MVP Esteban Montero is nearing the end of his career, and with a net saving of $35m on the pitching staff burning a hole in their pocket - Mexico City decided to add a premium bat, eventually inking RF Vincenzo Strickland to a max contract.

The Hombres Azul will unveil two rookies this season: 2B/LF Horacio Mujica will back up the aging Charlie Jefferies at 2B and pinch-run now and again, and Rule 5 draft pick-up Raymond Gardner will join the bullpen.

Mexico have had success in previous years based on speed and pitching, but the approach will be more balanced this year as Jefferies and Alan Graham lose a bit of their footspeed, but Strickland adds some power.

New Orleans 'Aints

Last season was an unmitigated mess for the 'Aints, the new owner, GM, and manager had to deal with a ton of overpriced mediocre talent, and unmotivated personnel. This season does't look any better as the team has nearly no chance to compete this season. Spring cleaning began in earnest towards the end of last season and into the offseason as players such former All Star Delino Silva were traded for young players.

The key trade of the offseason was the trading of the 'Aints best pitcher, Willie Harville to the Jackson Jayhawks for Richard Tatum a prospect with quite a bit of upside who will be the key to the future 3 or 4 years down the road. While things are looking rough for the 'Aints this season, the owner, GM, and manager have all made major commitments to this team and in a few years huge things are expected in New Orleans.

The key person to look out for though is international signee Antonio Choi who is currently assigned at the Low A level. This future superstar will be the key to the rebuilding process 3 to 5 years down the road.. While this season will not be good for the 'Aints, the season long Mardi Gras half price beer promotion will keep the fans preoccupied until the young talent is ready for prime time! 

NL WEST - Season #24 Preview

Honolulu Rainbow Warriors

After four straight division titles and four quick playoff exits, the Honolulu Rainbow Warriors needed a change. Without a battle-tested ace, the Warriors have been hard pressed to compete with the powers of the National League in a short series. Mindful of this failing, ownership mortgaged a few Honolulu skyscrapers and used the proceeds to sign the man touted as 'The Savior of Waikiki": Harry Palacios. The

Palacios leads a pitching staff that also includes new addition Joe Harris, and a strong 3-4-5 core in Lou 17-game winner Lou Hendricksen, 14-game winner Brandon Linden, and 16-game winner Bubba Pearson (beloved by all for his charming sense of humor and prediliction for clubhouse nudity). That staff put up the 7th-best ERA in the majors last season, and Palacios has vowed to improve on that showing.

Offensively, the 7 switch-hitters of Honolulu's offense all return, led by team captain Matty Lee (.341 avg in S23) and 2nd-year stud Wiki Rivas. The Rainbow Warriors finished second in the NL in runs scored despite playing in cavernous Aloha Stadium, and this year new additions Carlos Sosa and rookie Naoto Kida look to keep the pressure on opposing pitchers.

Despite the division-winner pedigree, management is said to be extremely worried about the burgeoning juggernaut in Oakland, and officials have privately stated that winning the division is not the goal this year -- simply making the playoffs, and seeing what can happen from there, will be considered success.

Oakland Maze N' Blue
Gains - TJ Hall, Buddy Williamson, Benito Marichal, Marvin Brow

Losses- Jamie Bennigson, Emmitt Collins, Carlos Sosa, Rigo Almonte

Outlook- Team is loaded with young stars headlined by the reigning NL MVP Tomas Cairo. Young SP's Raul Batista and Takashi Wanatabe lead the pitching staff. Anything short of the playoffs would be considered a major disappointment even without the veterans I traded this offseason.

Top Prospects - Benny Uribe, Julio Osoria, Louie Ibanez, Jose Velez, Hee Sop Higashioka, Einar Velez, Kurt Giambi and Tito Jodie are soon to arrive.

Obviously the future is extremely bright.

St. Louis Wish I Had Pujols


Vancouver Big Blue Bulldogs