Thursday, September 11, 2008

Season 3

Season 3 has been full of ups and downs. The Hokies have feel to the bottom of the Division, Injuries and a couple poor off season decisions not to bring back key players, but instead take the compensation pick in the draft have bitten us on the butt.

On a side note, some teams are looking really strong and it should be a great Playoffs world series. We did lose one owner due to inactivity, and have acquired another owner for the Vancouver franchise. Everyone welcome him and I'll try to get him signed up with posting rights to the blog shortly.

Once again thanks to everyone for your support and I look forward to the end of this season and the beginning of next season. Someone take out San Fran for me, cause I don't think I'm going to be there this year, barring a small miracle.


Monday, August 4, 2008

Top 10 Defensive Teams based on D.E.R - SEASON 2

DER or Defensive Efficiency Ratio is the measure of how many batted balls turned into outs not including HR. The formula is (BFP- H – K – BB – HBP – E)/(BFP –HR – K – BB – HBP). A good DER is usually .700 (1- .300(indicative of .300 BA).

Now for the Rankings

As mentioned on the chat board honorable mention goes to Las Vegas, NY Hokies, Cleveland, Cincy, Little Rock & Seattle who just missed the Top 10 but did finish in the top half of the league.

10) Anaheim Mighty Sake Bombs
Der- .699
Record- 70-92
Plus/Minus- 14/20
Errors- 79
GB/FB- 28th

Lots of Flyballs here. But unlike a couple of other teams on this list, (San Diego & San Francisco) this ball park isn’t quite the best park for such a flyball staff. As I stated in the message board, this defense was an average defense that got a little lucky. I forsee a move down this list as opposed to a move up.

9) Dover Derelicts
Der- .699
Record- 94-68
Plus/minus- 13/23
Errors- 71
GB/FB Rank- 19th

Like Anaheim this was really just an average Defense that didn’t commit many errors. In fact between all 1b & C only 3 errors and 6 passed balls were committed. The 1B had below Average A/9. The 2B,corner OF, 3B were all average to slightly below average defenders. In CF we had one very good in Calvin Hammond & one Very Bad in Wayne Moore . Of the 23 minus plays by Dover Moore had 11 of them. The SS had nice range which is along with the C/1b along with Hammond in CF is why they placed in the top 10.

8) Charlotte Sluggers
Der- .701
Record- 82-80
Plus/Minus- 12/8
Errors- 84
GB/FB rank- 29th
Just as .300 indicates a solid hitter (at least it used too) .700 for Der (1-.300) equals a solid defense. I like Charlottes Season 2 defense. The 1b committed zero errors, though the A/9 is down (more on this later). Catchers passed balls were low. Nice Range at SS & CF when Juan Silva was in CF, not so much with Sammy Guzman there. Guzman was awesome when he played LF. Hector Romero @ 2b (Yay!!!). Stan DiSarcina @ 2b ?. Hernandez was solid at 3B. This was a good defense folks, could have ranked higher.
A trend is starting to develop for lower than nomal PB for catchers & lower A/9 for 1B. Limited Data so far but a trend that is worth tracking. Lots of Flyballs here for this OF.

7) New Orleans Ragin Cajuns
Der- .701
Record- 102-60
Plus/Minus- 24/11
Errors- 44 (1st place)
GB/FB- 18th

Always great to inherit a 102 win team with a good defense as a division mate.
This infield defense is stellar. The best I have seen so far and I have a hard time imaging much better. Not one but two solid defending SS in Alberto Telemaco & Johnny Pickett Outstanding defense at 3b with Dion Harris. 2b very solid with 5/0 plus minus score. Another low A/9 & PB/9 rate for 1b & C respectively. Very few errors by any defender but zero from C & only 2 from 1B. The reason they aren’t on top of the list? There was some bad. Except for PT SS Pickett in CF & Bradley in LF the OF was a mess. I have a feeling that if the OF was a tad better the Rajun Cajuns would be closer to the top of this list.

6) Buffalo Ridge Runners
Der- .702
Record- 98-64
Plus/Minus- 33/9
Errors- 58 (#5)
GB/FB- 2nd

. I could end this essay there I think. Yank had 17 plus /one minus for defensive plays along with outstanding range. Just think if there had been more flyballs here, the plus plays could have been over 20. Need good range in CF because the LF/RF cant defend for squat. Bailey is a top notch 3b. 2b is solid although glove a little low. With Ramon Chang we have our first passable A/9 rate ( I can quit bitching about that till the next team). 6 passed balls in 1400+ innings? Come on. I know we are the Thurman Munson world but does every C get to have PB/9 rates like Thurman. Posada was solid with 7/0 plus minus with solid glove but he is 34 & the rf is going down. Take away Yank/Posada and the plus/minus is 9/8. A good defense but maybe I would flip/flop them with New Orleans. In closing………………….
Go Yank!!!!!

5) San Diego Admirals
Der- .706
Record- 65-97
Plus/Minus- 18/15
Errors- 78
GB/FB- 24th

Good Defense at 2B/SS & especially at CF. Nice platoon in CF. CF/LF combo were 12/1 in plus/minus plays. RF wasn’t very good at all, 3b was below average. Good Defense up the middle and not so good everywhere else was the theme here. The C/1b defense question continues with only 6 pb and very low A/9 rate for 1b. The ballpark here skews the DER somewhat. I didn’t adjust the Der by ballparks but if so I thinks this solid up the middle defense deserves them a top 10 spot but I would move New Orleans, Buffalo & possibly Charlotte ahead of this squad.

4) San Francisco Gothams
Der- .707
Record- 111-51 (not too shabby)
Plus/Minus 16/22
Errors- 66
GB/FB ranking- 31st

With this many flyballs you better have 2 things, A) a ball park to handle it. With HR factors of -3, -3 (check). B) OF range to chase them down, surprisingly this wasn’t the case. The trio of Lorenzo Benavente , Albert Chavez, & Chris Murray were not very good defensively. Rodriguez @ SS decent glove not much range to speak of. Gordon & Wengert excelled @ 3B. At 2B Breen was below Average.1b caught the ball very well, Catchers excelled in PB.
This team won with great hitting, & great pitchers who didn’t walk anybody. They didn’t win with defense. I suspect this Der to drop next season. Like San Diego the Park kept more balls in play that in terms of Der put them a little higher than other teams with Neutral parks. The fact that San Fran & San Diego were in the same Divison along with the Dodgers and Dodger Stadium helped matters also. I suspect if I adjusted these Ders based on ballpark effects the Gothams & possibly the admirals drop from the list with Las Vegas, Cincy or the Hokies jumping in the top 10.
Saying all that, Damn was this team good everywhere else.

3) Syracuse Athletics/Scranton A's
Der- .717
Record- 92-70
Plus/Minus- 28/14
Errors- 48 (2nd)
GB/FB- 22nd

I was kind of surprised at the Syracuse Athletics lack of range. The OF range was dismal. The Infield range was just average. I was expecting more from the 3rd ranked Der. What I found out about this team as evidenced by their Error rate, they excel in glove, arm accuracy and strength. They simply caught every ball that came their way. I prefer the rangier team but this one was certainly was very efficient with what they had to work with. There was no ballpark effect here as Syracuse played in a neutral stadium. Overall though I would move New Orleans & Buffalo ahead of them.

2) Toronto Mighty Moose
Der- .719
Record- 80-82
Plus/Minus- 19/20
Errors- 69
GB/FB- 9th

Stellar IF defense. Strong Accurate Armed SS(although at 32 lost some range for season 3). Juan Baez at 2b has SS ratings, may have been the best defensive 2B in the league, was 6/1 on plus/minus. Good Defense at the Infield Corners. Low Errors at First, Nice Range @ 3b. Low A/9 rate and low passed balls again(arghh!!).
Outfielders on this team defensively are nothing to get excited about. With such average defenders in the OF with a Stellar Infield Defense with High DER rating, I had a feeling this was a GB dominated Staff, so after checking I was right they ranked 9tth in the league. A good defense to fit the ball park & pitching staff.

1) Iowa Blackshirt Huskers
Der- .722
Record- 80-82
Plus/Minus- 19/12
Errors- 54 (3rd)
GB/FB- 7th

As those bums from Mexico City say here is Numero Uno Senor. Good Defense here. Lots of GB was perfect for this Defense. Buzz Dorsey @ SS was top notch. Harry Rios @ 3B also top of the league defender. Ramiro Furcal & Rafael Guerrero made an outstanding 2B combo both with range capable of SS although Furcals glove is a little low. The Corner Outfielders on this team were very good. The problem here is that one of the Corner OF was playing CF. Overall a Solid Defense for park & pitcher/type.

In Summary for the teams ranked I really like in no particular order New Orleans, Iowa City, Buffalo, Toronto, & Charlotte. They all deserve the ranking they got or should be higher. Teams that would drop are Scranton, San Fran, San Diego, Dover & Anaheim.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Top 10 Biggest Free Agent Signings

Here is a list of the ten most lucrative contracts signed during the free agent period. I have only included players who are moving to a new team - those who are returning to their old team were not included. The values listed include the total money over the entire life of the contract.

10. 1B Marino Renteria ($15.2 M/4 years) - Los Angeles Longballers
Los Angeles was a team that made a huge free agent splash this season. We will see their name pop up again before the end of this report. Renteria was limited to just over 200 ABs with KC last year, but figures to play a larger role for the Longballers, especially against left-handed pitching.

9. SP Gary Scott ($16.5 M/3 years) - Mexico City Diablos Rojos
Mexico City brings in new ownership, and apparently the new ownership isn't afraid to go the free agent route to improve their team. Scott should anchor the Red Devil rotation, as he posted a 3.91 ERA last season in 198 innings pitched. Scott turns 35 this season, which may prove to be a concern by the end of the contract.

8. RP Tony Xaio ($16.5 M/3 years) - Little Rock Snappers
Little Rock is coming off of a playoff appearance, and don't seem to have any large holes this season. Xaio, however, wiil add depth to their pitching staff. He lacks the stamina you usually want in a starter, although he has started in the past. Last season Xaio, in 128 IP posted a 3.66 ERA and struck out 106 batters.

7. RP Harold Summers ($16.8 M/3 years) - Indianapolis Wildcats
The Wildcats were looking for help at the back end of their bullpen, and they found it in Harold Summers. Possibly the best reliever in this free agent class, Summers saved 46 games with a 3.71 ERA last season for St. Louis.

6. SP Geoffery Corcoran ($16.8 M/3 years) - Los Angeles Longballers
With this signing, the Longballers are hoping to strengthen their pitching staff, although to do so, he'll need to be more effective than he was in Season 2 with Cleveland (93 IP, 4.84 ERA).

5. RP Marv Rivers ($17.2 M/4 years) - Detroit Hawks
Detroit is under new ownership, and right out of the gate, they are rolling the dice with this move. Rivers is unproven at the major league level, where he will be expected to close out games for the Hawks. He converted 18 of 22 opportunities last season in Triple-A, but if he can't produce at the big-league level, Detroit will be on the hook for a lot of money.

4. C Pete Stairs ($23.2 M/4 years) - Scranton Athletics
Scranton is another team who made a big splash during the free agent period, and anything less than a World Series Championship this season will be a disappointment. Stairs will help their cause, who may have been the best free agent signing this season. At only 27 years old, Stairs still has some great years ahead of him. He posts a career .418 on-base percentage and has hit at least 20 home runs and driven in at least 100 runs in each of the past two seasons.

3. 1B Wiki Cruz ($28 M/4 years) - Scranton Athletics
This is another player that Scranton will be able to stick in the middle of their order and expect to produce. Last year he was good for a .310 average with 39 home runs and 124 RBI, and The A's will expect at least that this season.

2. SP Ernest Lincoln ($32 M/5 years) - Pittsburgh Bad Little Doggies
This was the biggest contract dealt to a starting pitcher this season. Lincoln, only 27 years old, should be an effective starter for years to come. Last season with Buffalo, he posted a 4.10 ERA in 193.1 innings pitched. Pittsburgh will hope for that kind of production, if not better.

1. 2B Lon Moran ($33.2 M/4 years) - Los Angeles Longballers
The biggest contract this season goes out to Moran, who is expected to provide a spark at the top of the Longballers' lineup. Last season he batted .292 with 112 runs scored and 62 stolen bases. The Longballs hope that these big contracts will translate into wins, which they were severely lacking last season.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Gothams Win Again!

The San Francisco Gothams have established their dynasty...barely. After losing two games at home to start the World Series, San Francisco climbed back to even the series with an exciting 10-inning 7-6 victory with a solo homerun by Joe Gordon. However, the New York Hokies were ready to assert themselves as more than just underdogs with a stellar outing by Albert Sardinha who went 6.2 innings allowing only one run for a Game Five victory. This led to a crucial Game 6 ninth inning one-out single that scored Albert Chavez who had just stolen second base. The climatic Game 7 displayed a full team effort by the Gothams highlighted by a Gordon solo shot and 6.1 innings and 6 strikeouts by Sterling Darwin. Dale Glass finished the ninth with his fourth save of the post-season, finishing with a 1.80 ERA and 1.20 WHIP.

The regular season and the playoffs went as predicted in the National League minus the sudden drop off of the New York Highlanders. St. Louis, Little Rock and San Francisco all clinched their second consecutive division titles while first-season wildcards Dover and Buffalo battled for first place in the NL East, separated by only 4 games. Significant teams who stepped up their level of competition from the year prior were Austin, Toronto, Arizona, and Iowa City. All four teams are looking to continue their good fortune into the third season. The post-season in the National League also saw an absence of upsets for the second straight year. Only two series resulted in upsets but the seed deferential for both was only a difference of one.

The American League saw the emergence of the Madison Mud Holes whose "win-now" attitude transformed the AL North into a season-long war. The flurry of trades and moves made throughout this season including the acquisition of Jason Van Hatten will change the AL for years to come. Notable declines are the franchises of Syracuse and Anaheim who won 118 and 98 games respectively last season but only 92 and 70 this year. This bodes well for Indianapolis and Charlotte who are nudging closer and closer to a division title. This is also exciting news for the Las Vegas Viagras who not only won the most games in the AL this season but have a winning record for every single minor league team including a AAA championship. This season also featured four division winners who played better on the road then at home. This "road-warrior" mentality carried over into the post-season where the away team won 11 out of 19 times. Only one favorite won a series in the entire AL post-season.

All of this culminated in the second showing of a New York-San Francisco World Series which became a ratings hit. As fans begin to gravitate toward these two teams, the other organizations are scrambling to maintain their fan base, create promotional opportunities and excitement while providing competitive teams. Good luck and we'll see you next year!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

International Prospect Top 10

This years international crop was below average but didn't fail to deliver a couple gems. I really felt that Del Astacio was head and shoulders above everybody else and have no doubts that. While some prospects (Jose Guzman, Alex Ozuna) may end up being better hitters than Astacio, none should challenge his overall ability.

One aspect I was really disappointed with in this years crop was the lack of an elite starting pitcher. Fernandez, coming in at #6, looks to be solid but lacks elite control and a dominant pitch. There even seemed to be a run on mid level starters. Overall it was a really disappointing international crop for starting pitchers.

Before we get to the rankings I would just like to say that, this being my first attempt at ranking prospects, I thought I did a pretty decent job. I tried to do as thorough a job as possible by considering not only the prospects core projections, but their intangible ratings and performance. I devalued players who couldn't field a position and that is why you won't find Alex Ozuna or Jose Guzman (among others) in the top 10, despite the fact that they are the most likely prospects to strike fear in opposing pitchers. With that said I didn't devalue prospects who don't project well to their original positions as long as they were able to field another position adequately.

A few fun facts as of 06/27:
  • Boston signed the most international prospects, tallying thirteen (including #7 Delino Fernandez) and shelling out an estimated $16.5M in bonuses.
  • Las Vegas spent the most, an estimated $19.1M ($17M of that to Astacio).
  • Charlotte signed three international prospects and landed the #2 and #4 in the top 10, not bad, huh?
  • An estimated $230M was dished out on bonuses to the 103 prospects that were signed.
  • St. Louis, Milwaukee, Buffalo, Rochester, Little Rock, San Diego, New Orleans, San Juan and Kansas City said, "To hell with this class, I'm not spending a penny on internationals!".
  • Nearly half (48) of the prospects were signed by the NL West (27) and AL East (21).

  • 1. Del Astacio -3B - $17M
    Las Vegas Viagras

    The best player out of this years international bunch belongs to Las Vegas. With all the tools to to be one of the better defensive third baseman and a dominant hitter, Del Astacio is a homerun for the Viagras. Signed mid-season, he was assigned to the Viagras High-A squad where he promptly tore up the competition. Astacio finished his 97 regular season games with a .338 average, smacking 20 homeruns and driving in 71. In the field Astacio wasn't as electric, posting a .947 fielding percentage with ten errors and three minus plays. Despite this, his overall performance was good and is the most impressive of all the international free agents.

    2. Tony Flores - LF - $6M
    Charlotte Sluggers

    Flores came very late to the fold so there isn't much concrete evidence to base him on. However, Flores should bring a solid bat to Charlotte with good power and a great lefty matchup rating. As a fielder he has the tools to play an adequate right field or an above average left field. In his very short seven games with the rookie league team Flores came out of the gate quick at the plate, hitting .444 with four homeruns and fifteen RBI. However, Flores stumbled out of the gate playing third base, committing two errors and two minus plays in just those seven games. To sum it up, he projects very well but until Flores gets more playing time in the jury is truly out on him. However, I feel confident putting him in at #2.

    3. Luis Johnson - RF - $12.5M
    New York Highlanders

    Like Astacio, Johnson is very raw and will need to spend a good amount of time in the minors to reach his potential. Johnson showed good signs at the plate hitting .305 and knocking in 75 runs in 86 games. In the field Johnson was better than expected committing only three errors despite a low glove rating. At the plate and in the field the lefty still needs a lot of work, but if allowed to polish his skills in the minors he should end up being a well rounded player.

    4. Joaquin Chavez - SS - $6.7M
    Charlotte Sluggers

    Chavez may be the best all around short stop to come out of this crop. While he won't set any hitting records he will almost assuredly field an excellent shortstop for Charlotte. Upon signing with the Sluggers Chavez was assigned to the High A team where he split time in his 40 games in centerfield and at short. He fielded a perfect centerfield and posted a .967 fielding percentage in his nineteen games at short, committing three errors. Chavez was better than expected at the plate hitting .284 with 22 RBI's. While Chavez is nearing his potential at the plate he still has a long way to go before he peaks in the field, it should be interesting to watch this gold glover in the making.

    5. Diego Amaral - 1B - $6.1M
    San Francisco Gothams

    Amaral had one of the better performances at the plate out of this years international free agents. Amaral begin with a short stint on the Gothams' rookie league team where he promptly hit .444 with two homers and thirteen RBI in eleven games. Of course, that lofty average would come down in a more sustained appearance. In 47 games at the Low A level Amaral still performed well, hitting .333 with seven homeruns and 46 rbis. Before the season was over Amaral was promoted to High A with only a handful of games left and hit .478. In the field Amaral performed better than his glove rating would suggest, playing first base for his entire 47 game appearance in Low A, with a fielding percentage of .992. Whether Amaral will go on to play first base at the pro level is for time to tell. Amaral may not have the power you would expect from a top first base prospect but he has the potential to hit for excellent average in the pros.

    6. Luis Ugueto - RF - $6.1M
    Seattle Sleepers

    Luis Ugueto was a late signing, appearing in only seventeen games at the rookie league level for Seattle. Although his time was limited Ugueto looked solid at the plate hitting .309 with four homers and 24 rbi. He was also spotless in the field, playing all seventeen games in right field without a blemish. Ugueto projects more as a corner outfielder, lacking the arm to play in right but posessing the tools to be more than a left fielder. Either way, Ugueto has blazing speed and, if able to get on consistently, could be another weapon for the already savvy base stealers in Seattle. Combine all this with excellent patience, temper and makeup ratings and it's a no brainer as to why Ugueto grades out so high.

    7. Delino Fernandez - SP - $7.7M
    Boston Boston Bandits

    Fernandez looks to be the second best starting pitcher prospect out of the bunch. His stamina and matchup ratings are solid but he lacks good control of his decent four pitch arsenal. Fernandez was able to get eight starts in after being signed in the early second half of the season, going 3-3 with a 4.54 ERA and 1.68 WHIP at the High A level. Despite the average numbers Fernandez had only one truly bad outing; a 2/3 inning, seven run outing against the Renegades. In his seven other starts Fernandez averaged nearly 6 innings and allowed 2 earned runs or less in five of his seven other outings. Other than his control there is no glaring weaknesses for Fernandez and it should be interesting to follow Fernandez through the minors.

    8. Mark Chang - SP - $11M
    Cleveland Cuyahoga's

    Chang was the highest paid of all the pitchers and although he doesn't project as a superstar in the pros he should be able to serve as a decent, back of the rotation inning eater. Chang was signed in the middle of the season and was able to get a good fourteen starts in. He was immediately assigned to High A where he made all of his appearances. Chang's numbers were not impressive and his performances were inconsistent. You may even characterize Chang as someone who plays to his level of competition. It is his four quality starts, all against top opponents, that display his potential. But it's two of his four bad starts which came against the second worst team in High A ball that raise a red flag. Chang's projected pitch repertoire would appear to be solid if it weren't for a weak fifth pitch that, coupled with his below average matchup ratings, may be his undoing.

    9. Einar Flores - Setup/Closer - $8.6M
    Iowa City BlackShirt Huskers

    Flores may be the best relief pitcher to come out of this years crop. The 22 year old reliever is also one of the more developed signings and should be ready to make significant contributions to the major league club by mid season 4 if not sooner. Flores was signed early in the season and appeared in 34 games, throwing 57 innings, for the BlackShirt Huskers AAA club. Unfortunately for Iowa City their bullpen woes would extend to the newcomer. Flores finished out the season with a 7.11 ERA , 1.88 WHIP and two blown saves in three chances. Some may question if Flores was thrown to the wolves by beginning his career in AAA, but only time will tell. If Flores can reach his potential he could be a cornerstone for the Iowa City bullpen.

    10. Virgil Mateo - LF $5.3M
    Los Angeles LongBallers

    Virgil is one of those periphery players who, even if fully developed, may not be a long term solution for the LongBallers. His fielding tools put him as an above average left fielder but his hitting skills may be questionable. While his contact, power and lefty ratings are all good his righty matchup rating may never be good enough for Mateo to sustain a starting career in the pros. However, looking at his performance in Low A, where he played 124 games, he was much better than average at the dish, hitting .327 with 18 homeruns and 106 rbi. On the flip side, Mateo was juggled between 2B, LF and CF and played a solid spot in left field, where he projects the best. Can Mateo parlay a good first season into continued success?

    Honorable Mention:
    One day, these guys may tear up Munson:

    • Alex Ozuna - 1B - Anaheim
    • Juan Lee - P - Chicago
    • Fernando Lucano - P Cincinnati
    • Ricardo Olmedo - 2B Cincinnati
    • Javier James - 2B - Santa Fe
    • Jose Guzman - 1B - Seattle

    Under the Radar
    They weren't impressive enough to warrant that big contract but that doesn't mean they can't play ball. Here are the guys who did their talking on the field:

    • William Nakajima - 1B - Arizona
    • Albert DaSilva - SS - Cincinnati
    • Benji Liriano - P - Dover
    • Albert Valdivia - RF - Madison
    • Endy Martin - RF - San Francisco
    • Diego Telemaco - P - Syracuse

Monday, June 23, 2008

S2 League Championship Series Previews

This year's World Series will make history: no number 2 seeds. However, it could end up being a repeat of last year's Hokies/Gothams matchup. After going 100% in the NL and not-so-great in the AL, it's time to look at the League Championship Series Previews.

American League
#3 Madison Mud Holes v. #5 New York Hokies
Regular Season Series: New York 6-4
Post-season BA: Madison - .311 New York - .274
Post-season ERA: Madison - 2.85 New York - 5.40

If I choose against the Hokies a third time, will they win again? New York has been the underdog of this year's postseason yet they are in prime position to repeat as American League Champions. Albert Sardinha (17.0 IP, 1-1, 3.18-1.24) will attempt to create a few wins from the mound against a Madison team that has been pitching lights out. The Mud Holes' rotation is led by Geraldo Johnson (15.2 IP, 1-0, 1.72-0.83) but there's a pretty big drop-off after that for the starters to the 4.5+ ERA range. The strength for the Mud Holes lies in their hitting with great numbers by Andre Kydd (.348) and Hanley Hudek (29 AB, .379). Van Hatten still hasn't shown up yet after two series with a .115 average but has that mattered yet? In a best-of-seven, it might. For the Hokies, Scooter Coleman has been the man with a .333 average, 4 HR and 12 RBI in just 24 at-bats.

Prediction: Madison and New York have both made statements. It's time to make the biggest yet. The Hokies are behind in a majority of statistical categories but that hasn't stopped them before. However, the Mud Holes have way too much momentum and firepower. Madison in 6.

National League
#1 San Francisco Gothams v. #3 Little Rock Snappers
Regular Season Series: San Francisco 7-3
Post-season BA: San Francisco - .254 Little Rock - .308
Post-season ERA: San Francisco - 2.75 Little Rock - 4.39

The Gothams' repeat run is in serious jeopardy after losing Donaldo Lunar for more than half of the NLCS. However, GM drjwhiteside is confident that Jamie Itou(6.0 IP, 1-0, 1.50-0.83) along with ROY candidate Joey Wright will make up for this great loss. Little Rock has their own injury problem by losing Bucky Whitehead for the entire NLCS. They'll look to Corey Mantei(20.1 IP, 2-1, 3.10-1.18) to continue his dominant and Cy Young worthy performance. On the offensive side, the Gothams need to put in a few extra practices because the only one who's doing anything is Albert Chavez who has 10 hits in 20 AB. On the flip side, the Snappers' MVP-worthy Marino James has been posting amazing numbers - .424 avg in 33 AB with 7 HR and 16 RBI. Not even the pitching-heavy Buffalo could stop him.

Prediction: An MVP and Cy Young v. the defending World Champs. During the regular season, the only major difference between these two teams was San Francisco's pitching. In the post-season, the Gothams' and Snappers' lineups have gone opposite ways. If this continues, Little Rock could take the series before Lunar gets back. The problem for the Snappers is that Lunar isn't the only great pitcher on the Gothams' staff. The problem for the Gothams is learning how to stop Marino James. This series will go 3-2 LR, resulting in a timely arrival by Lunar, forcing a Game Seven and another World Series berth for San Francisco.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

S2 Division Championship Series Previews

The pressure is heating up for our final eight teams and for this writer. After correctly predicting three series and the last one for having a "Little" (who got injured) difference, it's time to choose my team to win...I mean, time to adequately evaluate the second round of action.

American League
Las Vegas (107-55) v. New York (93-69)
Season Series: Las Vegas 6-4
Regular Season BA: Las Vegas - .281 New York - .264
Regular Season ERA: Las Vegas - 4.38 New York - 4.46

Las Vegas comes into this series with the best record in the American League, New York arrives in Nevada with momentum. The Hokies are hoping to become the Munson World's Cinderella squad despite being last year's defending AL champions. With performances like Albert Sardinha's Game Two shutout with 8 strikeouts, New York has a lot going for them. The Viagras, however, have Jimmie Ramirez (21-7, 3.16-1.23) and 8 players with over 20 home runs led by Troy Hansen (.278 48-142).

Prediction: Las Vegas bats and pitches .40 points worse at home than they do away. New York pitches and plays better on the road as well. It looks as though home-field advantage doesn't work favorably for the Viagras. But if the Viagras can win one at home, they can try to win the series in New York where the stats DO favor them. Ramirez should be up to the challenge in game one. Las Vegas in 4.

New Orleans (102-60) v. Madison (101-61)
Season Series: New Orleans 6-4
Regular Season BA: New Orleans - .279 Madison - .294
Regular Season ERA: New Orleans - 4.30 Madison - 5.13

In the first round, the bash brothers of Madison were like an overgrown kid with three arms: awkward yet still effectively scary. Andre Kydd lived up to expectations with a .357 average while Van Hatten only managed a measly .067. With a crucial series against the Ragin' Cajuns, everyone from the Mud Holes is going to have to contribute. Especially if they have to go up against New Orleans' underrated lineup who boast four players with similar numbers to Harvey Glaus' .288 avg, 36 HR and 105 RBI. Danny Davies (22-5, 3.42-1.15) is looking forward to backing this stellar lineup with solid pitching and a few victories in what should be a hard-fought series.

Prediction: Madison fans have every reason to be excited. The Mud Holes climbed out from the cellar, made a large amount of trades just before the deadline, and are now sitting seven wins away from a World Series trip. There's that one thing though...what was it called? Oh yeah - PITCHING! A 6.02 ERA at home is not going to cut it. New Orleans is too balanced and hungry after last year's injury fiasco to let this series slide out of control. The Big Easy in 4.

National League
San Francisco (111-51) v. Dover (94-68)
Season Series: San Francisco 6-4
Regular Season BA: San Francisco - .279 Dover - .277
Regular Season ERA: San Francisco - 3.55 Dover - 4.09

Two candidates for the MVP and two candidates for the Rookie of the Year Award Cy Young candidacy for Donaldo Lunar? Lunar's sophomore slump (18-3, 2.97-1.15) would be a welcome addition to any ball club and especially if that included Rafael Rodriguez and Joe Gordon who each have an average over .300 and have hit 40 HRs. The reigning World Champions have a long and tough road ahead of them if they hope to repeat. The Derelicts managed to pull off a sensational win on the road in Game Five to advance to the Second Round. But if they want to get past the Gothams, they'll have to do better than a .237 team average.

Prediction: Dover is a consistent team; San Francisco is consistently pitching. Both clubs' averages are nearly identical with the major difference being the Gothams ML-leading 3.55 ERA. If the Derelicts need to win, they'll have to create some hits in pitcher-friendly San Francisco. They'll also need Newhouser, who has a 2.57 ERA in 2 post-season starts, to produce. The problem is that the Gothams are better than they were last season, which was pretty damn good. Frisco in 3.

Buffalo (98-64) v. Little Rock (95-67)
Season Series: Tied 5-5
Regular Season BA: Buffalo - .264 Little Rock - .280
Regular Season ERA: Buffalo - 3.56 Little Rock - 4.50

It's a classic pitching versus hitting matchup. Or is it? Buffalo has their entire pitching staff under a 4.0 ERA except for 3. Ten pitchers have a WHIP under 1.3. Little Rock is the best hitting team left in the NL while they averaged .306 in the first series against Austin. The problem for the Ridge Runners is that the Snappers have pitching weapons of their own: Bucky Whitehead (1-1, 2.08-1.38 in post-season) and Corey Mantei (1-0, 1.29-0.21 in post-season). Buffalo has one of the worst lineups in the league and a .254 average at home has left fans very disappointed over the season.

Prediction: It's not pitching v. hitting but team pitching v. superstar pitching. Buffalo works together as a unit while Little Rock is led by their Cy Young candidate and #2 phenom. Buffalo's unit works extremely well over the course of a season. In a five-game series, the Snappers can have both of those pitchers pitch twice. Little Rock in 4.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Season 2 Division Play-In Series Previews

American League
Madison (101-61) v. Cleveland (89-73)
Season series: 7-3 Madison
Team BA: Madison - .294 Cleveland - .265
Team ERA: Madison - 5.13 Cleveland - 4.66

The best remaining hitting club is going up against one of the worst. Madison added to their already budding lineup which includes Andre Kydd (.322avg 62HR-141RBI) with Jason Van Hatten. Cleveland can only muster Torey Castillo who has 51 HRs but is batting a mediocre .268. Cleveland has the advantage with pitching but only because Madison (6.02 ERA at home) is just that worse. Wendell DiSarcina (14-10, 3.75ERA-1.21WHIP) represents the Cuyahoga's' best chances.

Prediction: Madison in 4. The Mud Holes will outhit the Cuyahoga's to the next round. There's just too much firepower in the lineup and Cleveland doesn't have superstar responses from the rotation.

Syracuse (92-70) v. New York (93-69)
Season series: 7-3 Syracuse
Team BA: Syracuse - .269 New York - .264
Team ERA: Syracuse - 4.03 New York - 4.38

The Syracuse Athletics have a not-so-secret weapon: Omar Little (21-1, 2.90-1.12). Singlehandedly, he can change any series and especially ones that are shorter. Dummy Alexander won't let that statement refuse him credit where it's due, especially after posting season numbers of a .284 avg with 41 HR, 111 RBIs and 45 SBs. How does New York counter this dual attack? For starters, they have the best lead-off hitter, Ham Davey, who scurried around the base path all season long with 138 SBs. Couple that with balance in the rotation (3 starters with ERA under 3.8) and there is definitely hope for a New York team that won 93 games in the best division in baseball.

Prediction: Both teams are nearly identical in terms of overall numbers. The difference is Little (haha, get it?) who will win Game One, allowing the Athletics to do what they do best: win on the road. Syracuse in 4.

National League
Little Rock (95-67) v. Austin (86-76)
Season series: 6-4 Little Rock
Team BA: Little Rock - .280 Austin - .272
Team ERA: Little Rock - 4.50 Austin - 4.59

What do you get when you have one of the best right-fielders in Marino James (.352-48-146-75) and one of the best pitchers in Corey Mantei (19-7, 2.81-1.02)? A third-place seed. Tough luck equals hunger and the city of Little Rock is more upbeat than during the 1996 Presidential Election. The reason is because the club's opponent is their division rival, Austin Powers. However, the Powers should not be underestimated. Their lineup boasts great balance with 7 players who have hit over 20 HRs. Also, they have been hot of late including a run of 14 wins in 16 games which boosted them to the final wild-card spot.

Prediction: Little Rock in 3. Austin put together a great season and GM zephyrsad should be proud. Balance over stars can work but not against the likes of James and Mantei.

St. Louis (91-71) v. Dover (94-68)
Season series: 5-5 Tie
Team BA: St. Louis - .271 Dover - .277
Team ERA: St. Louis - 4.27 Dover - 4.09

Dover is a scary team because they are consistent. They have the exact same batting average no matter where they play and the difference between home and road for the pitching staff is below .05 ERA. Add in Carl McNeil (.366-33-112) and Jeremy Newhouser (15-7, 3.66-1.20) and you have a legitimate World Series contender. Yet, the Derelicts should be careful about getting too confident. St. Louis did win their division and do have Vic Kennedy (.317-40-127) and Ronald Burnett (18-10, 2.90-1.12). They also got swept by San Francisco last season and are looking for a second-round grudge match. Don't forget Jeremy Anderson (.339-36-97) who is always ready to hit pitchers around.

Prediction: This series should be the most entertaining of them all. With stars on offense, both teams will look for the bats to carry them to the next round. However, neither team is able to take advantage of each other by splitting their games at home, forcing a deciding Game Five. This game will be surprisingly a pitching battle, forcing the determining factor to be the bullpen. Dover's Ernie Houston (42 SV-47 SVO, 2.98-1.06) will give the Derelicts the win. Dover in 5.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

First Round Draft Picks - How Are They Doing?

1. 2B Jim Recchio (SJU-RL): 1.034 OPS, 12 HR, 50 RBI
2. SS Arthur Thomspon (TOR-RL): 1.025 OPS, 14 HR, 55 RBI
3. 2B Eddie Harding (DUR-RL): 1.334 OPS, 11 HR, 52 RBI
4. SS Jacob Torrealba (ROC-RL): .939 OPS, .351 AVG
5. 2B Horace Fossum (IA-HiA): 1.269 OPS, .494 OBP
6. SS Darryl McClellan (KC-RL): 1.176 OPS, 13 HR, 52 RBI, 17 SB
7. 3B Guillermo Olmeda (MAD-RL): 1.055 OPS, .449 OBP, 77 RBI
8. 2B Tim Parnell (SEA-LoA): .960 OPS, .369 AVG
9. SP Billy Kydd (ARI-LoA): 18.0 IP, 3.00 ERA, 16 K
10. SP Gerald Neal (SFE-RL): 34.1 IP, 3.93 ERA, 29K
11. RP Weldon Sanders (AUS-LoA): 18.0 IP, 2.00 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 19 K, 8/8 SVO
12. 2B James Kim (LA-RL): 1.085 OPS, 16 HR, 71 RBI
13. SS Al Figureoa (SD-RL): .914 OPS, 52 RBI
14. RF Davey Hodges (CIN-RL): 1.124 OPS, 18 HR, 89 RBI
15. 2B Raymond Nickle (CHA-LoA): 1.118 OPS, .367 AVG, 57 RBI
16. SP Troy Jefferson (BOS-LoA): 86.2 IP, 3.74 ERA, 86 K
17. SP Darrin Jenkins (RIC-RL) 73.2 IP, 5.13 ERA, 60K
18. SS Harry Bennett (IND): Unsigned
19. C Willie Goodwin (CH1-RL): 1.042 OPS, .361 AVG, 58 RBI
20. C Art Cameron (MIL-LoA): 1.142 OPS, 17 HR, 49 RBI
21. SS Cameron Melfi (NO-LoA): .970 OPS, .363 Avg, 57 RBI
22. 3B Gordon Damon (BUF-RL): 1.104 OPS, 13 HR, 52 RBI
23. SP Derrick Wohlers (CLE-RL): 90 IP, 2.90 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 88 K
24. LF Socks Golub (LV-RL): .286 AVG, 55 RBI
25. C Michael White (LR-RL): 1.021 OPS, 14 HR, 57 RBI
26. SS Jeromy Walker (DOV-RL): 1.065 OPS, 16 HR, 68 RBI
27. 1B Brian Donatello (STL-RL): 1.065 OPS, .341 Avg, 53 RBI
28. RP Theodore Rice (LA-RL): 24.1 IP, 29 K, 10/11 SVO
29. RF Kirt Dunn (NY1-RL): 1.057 OPS, 17 HR, 69 RBI
30. LF Al Schneider (SF-LoA): .323 Avg
31. 2B Larry Matthews (NY2-RL): 1.138 OPS, 3.93 Avg, 66 RBI
32. CF Mark Webber (SYR-LoA): .356 Avg, 13 SB
33. SP Al Murray (LA-RL): 63 IP, 4.14 ERA, 72 K
34. 3B Chico Torcato (BUF-RL): 1.028 OPS, .394 Avg, 70 RBI
35. CF Freddie Barker (LA): Unsigned
36. SP Alex Lopez (KC-RL): 49.1 IP, 6.20 ERA, 48 K
37. SS Cookie Tatis (SEA): Unsigned
38. RP Sal Tracy (SD-RL): 15.2 IP, 1.72 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 20 K, 7/9 SVO
39. RP Frank Turnbow (RIC-LoA): 42.0 IP, 2.57 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 43 K
40. CF Graham Daily (BUF): Unsigned
41. RP Louis Ordaz (LV-RL): 37.1 IP, 1.69 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 38 K, 18/20 SVO
42. 3B Dave Benard (LR-HiA): .280 Avg, 52 RBI
43. SP Quilvio Lugo (STL-RL): 62.1 IP, 3.75 ERA, 65 K
44. SP Al Nelson (LAA-RL): 91.1 IP, 5.12 ERA, 91 K
45. SP Ernest Warner (SYR-RL): 102.2 IP, 3.51 ERA, 102 K
46. SP Daryle Winston (KC-LoA): 22.1 IP, 11.28 ERA, 26 K
47. SS Morgan Dorsey (LR-RL): .308 AVG
48. C Steven Alexander (SYR-RL): .336 AVG
49. SS Tony Myers (LR-LoA): .281 Avg, 50 RBI

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Power Rankings - NL

1. San Francisco (70-33) West 1st - Bias? Maybe. It's hard to beat a 3.93 ERA coupled with a .285 BA though. Before the all-star break, the Gothams had a stretch where they won 28 out of 32 games. Not to brag or anything... :-P

2. Buffalo (66-37) East 1st - The Ridge Runners have put together a fantastic season in a tough division. The pitching has been above phenomenal with a 3.50 team ERA. There's not too many stars (minus Telgheder) but they all complement one another and fit nicely as a team.

3. Little Rock (68-36) South 1st - They won't have Bucky Whitehead or 2B Hub Wills down the stretch but they have a sizable lead in the division. They shouldn't have too many problems, especially when the team as a whole is close to hitting .300.

4. St. Louis (60-44) North 1st - Out of the four division leaders, St. Louis' home record is the worst at 26-24. The team is in the middle of the NL in nearly every category yet they have managed to achieve 60 wins. Lucky for them, they are in a weak division so they should manage a #4 seed.

5. Dover (57-46) East 2nd - Regarded as a team to fear, many were surprised that they traded away Jason Van Hatten. However, they did receive three very good players that should round out the club nicely. It should be interesting to see how the team reacts to the change.

6. Arizona (57-46) West 2nd - After a 4th place finish in the West last year, Arizona decided to change their record and their GM. They did both very well and now sit tied for the top wild-card spot. The Hitmen will have to live up to their name in order to compensate for a lackluster pitching staff (5.24 ERA).

7. Austin (52-52) South 2nd - A team that has been sitting on the edge all year. The Powers will have to make a run or hope for others to get lashed with injuries. Their pitching will have to get their act together to help make that happen.

8. Iowa City (51-53) South 3rd - Just slightly below average in ERA (4.45) and BA (.267), the BlackShirt Huskers should be thankful that they are only 6.5 GB while 2 games under .500.

9. New York (51-52) East 3rd - Apparently, the Highlanders think they are in the AL because they have a 20-31 record at home and a 31-21 record on the road. They have one of the worst batting averages in the Majors and will need to change that in order to make it to the playoffs again.

10. Santa Fe (49-55) South 4th - In what was probably a smart move, the Conquistadors picked up 3 solid prospects from Madison in exchange for a reliever. The future is bright.

11. Rochester (47-57) East 4th - The Red Wings have a solid pitching staff but may need to take a page from their hockey counterparts and add some offense.

12. Toronto (46-58) North 3rd - In a muddled middle, Toronto is full of extremes. The third best pitching staff in the NL with a 4.09 ERA is coupled with the Majors' worst BA (.230). In light of the disaster that was Season One, fans in Toronto should be thrilled with the work of GM moose08.

13. Milwaukee (47-56) North 2nd - The Rebels may want to fire their pitching coach due to a 5.56 ERA.

14. San Diego (38-65) West 3rd - After picking up four prospects in two trades with Madison, the Admirals are sacrificing this season for the ones to come. With Arizona now a contender, this is the right choice.

15. Los Angeles (38-66) West 4th - A huge draft that saw 6 players drafted (though, only 4 signed) within the first 61 picks will help the LongBallers reload.

16. Cincinnati (36-67) North 4th - Pitching and hitting haven't been great at all. The minor leagues point to future success though.

Power Rankings - AL

1. Las Vegas (69-35) West 1st - A great team that has benefited from a weak division. The Viagras are probably too far ahead for Seattle to catch them. They get the top spot because they can actually win at home.

2. Madison (64-40) North 1st - It'll be interesting to see what happens with Madison AFTER the Trade Deadline. 5 new Major Leaguers joined the club in the last week or so. Adding a few solid pieces to the rotation and bullpen are fine but the move to get all-star and potential MVP Jason Van Hatten (.359 51-124-28) was remarkable. All these moves point to an emphasis on winning this year.

3. New Orleans (66-38) South 1st - One of three teams in the AL who are 5 games above .500 at home. The Ragin' Cajuns are looking to avoid the sweep of injuries that attacked them at the end of last year. Let's hope I didn't just jinx them.

4. Syracuse (60-43) East 1st - Posting a 4.02 ERA in the AL is not easy yet the Athletics' pitching staff has done it. A respectable .276 BA helps solidify this team at the top of their division. Syracuse joins Madison in the road warriors category with a 37-15 record.

5. Cleveland (59-44) North 2nd - Losing Paulie Romero will hurt the bullpen. This team looks solid and will probably have to strike a deal with New York to choose who they want to play in the post-season.

6. New York (57-46) North 3rd - The Hokies have been looking up all season long. With a new GM in Seattle, they now have to look behind them as well. A .263 BA isn't going to get them very far.

7. Seattle (53-50) West 2nd - Despite being a neglected team, the players still showed up every day. Now with a new GM, alanzahm, the Sleepers are hoping to live up to their name.

8. Charlotte (51-52) East 3rd - The dark horse of the AL, this team can pitch better than 13 other teams. They are still only 9 games back in a competitive division but I doubt they'll be able to reach the Athletics. A wild-card spot, however, is not out of the question.

9. Indianapolis (52-51) East 2nd - The lineup is close to a .300 BA. Their pitching staff is close to a 6.00 ERA. Such is the life for the Wildcats. Until they can solve their pitching woes, they will be on the outside looking in.

10. Chicago (50-54) North 4th - It's been a tough year in Chicago. Things just haven't clicked and after narrowly missing the post-season last year with 87 wins, the Bootleggers are feeling the wrath of the baseball gods.

11. Boston (49-55) East 4th - The Boston Bandits should be thinking about next year right about now. Granted, they aren't that far behind in the race but having a 5.97 ERA isn't anything to get excited about.

12. Kansas City (41-62) West 4th - In a battle between the bad and the worse, Kansas City is graciously given this spot in the rankings.

13. Richmond (43-61) South 2nd - Nearly 20 games back of .500 and still 2nd in the division. At least this means that they have some potential wins at the back end of the schedule against their division.

14. Anaheim (41-62) West 3rd - Fire the hitting coach. A .249 BA is the worst in the AL.

15. San Juan (34-70) South 3rd - It's a battle for the #1 pick in the draft. Lottery system, anyone?

16. Durham (34-70) South 4th - Durham has a losing record in both the majors and all of the minors. Is that more embarrassing than the 8.28 ERA in the majors?

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sosa to miss 3-4 months

In Game #25, Arizona 1B Alex Sosa ran into a bit of hard luck. During his at bat in the 2nd inning, Sosa was injured, suffering from a bulging disc in his back. Following the game, Sosa was sent to the disabled list. Before the injury, Sosa was batting .235 with 8 home runs and 23 RBIs in 98 at bats this season for Arizona. Sosa is expected to return to the lineup around Game #100 or so.

Sosa will be replaced by 1B Louie Bailey. Bailey was hitting .305 with 2 home runs and 18 RBIs in 105 ABs in Triple-A.

The Hitmen currently are in 1st place in the NL West, sporting a record of 15-10. Felix Darling (1-2) will start Game #2 of a three game set against Cincinnati. Aaron McEwing is looking to put up big numbers against his former team in this series.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Cajuns and Renegades set to do battle in the AL South

The season wastes no time in giving us an important series between the New Orleans Ragin' Cajuns and the Richmond Renegades. Last season a talented but banged up New Orleans team outlasted the Renegades to take the AL South by 7 games. The Cajuns were then thrashed as Las Vegas came in singing "Viva Viagra" and knocked the Cajuns out of the playoffs.

Richmond appears to have improved it's team according to the Franchise Rankings. New Orleans made some additions to bolster it's speed in the offseason. The biggest factor though, is that the entire Cajun squad is healthy.

"I think the rash of injuries we had last year were kind of a fluke, " said Cajun GM qsquinlan33. "We invest heavily in our trainers and medical team, and our pitchers did not have a bad history of missing time coming into next year. We look forward to being full strength this season and showing what we can do. We are proud of our division title from last season, but frankly our goals are set much higher than that."

San Juan and Kansas City are rebuilding in the bottom half of the AL South, so this series could set the tone for what should be a two team race for the division crown.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Hitmen Add Two Through Free Agency

In an attempt to be competitive in Season 2, the Arizona have made two free agent pickups this off season.

First, The Hitmen have signed Catcher Julio Alvarado to a three year deal worth $9.6 million. During Season 1, the 27-year old hit .249 with 13 home runs and 41 RBIs in 422 at-bats with Vancouver. The Hitmen expect Alvarado to bat in bottom third of the order.

Second, The Hitmen have brought in Starting Pitcher George Houston. Houston was signed to a five-year contract with $3.8 million per year. Many Arizona fans are a little skeptical of the contract, given that Houston has yet to pitch in the major leagues, however, The Hitmen front office are confident that he will strengthen their rotation. Last season in Triple-A, Houston posted a 12-10 record, pitching 185.1 innings, striking out 164 batters and allowing a 4.37 ERA.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

San Francisco Wins the World Series!

After a fantastic first season, the Munson World crowned its first World Champions - The San Francisco Gothams! They defeated the New York Hokies 7-2 to finish a five-game series. Both the Hokies and the Gothams had their share of scares, going to seven games in each of their League Championship Series. Ultimately, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year winner Donaldo Lunar and the Gothams had their say.

The competition is fierce in this world. Nearly half of the playoffs went to the maximum amount of games to determine a winner. This bodes well for the future and many are looking to topple San Francisco. Enjoy the offseason, we'll see you next year!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

League Championship Series

Both of the American League DCS match ups went to game five. The Hokies were the first team in the series to capitalize on their home field after each team split two road victories. However dramatic that series was, the one in Syracuse was even more exciting. Las Vegas was down by two runs in the bottom of the ninth with two outs. J. Sugawara entered the game needing only one out. Instead, he loaded the bases. R. Morales followed that up by walking in the tying run. M. Hayes then continued the disaster by walking in the go-ahead run and giving up a two-RBI single. Syracuse fans were stunned. So was the world.

ALCS: New York v. Las Vegas
Season series: New York 7-3
Playoffs BA: New York - .266 Las Vegas - .271
Playoffs ERA: New York - 3.80 Las Vegas - 3.86

New York and Las Vegas look to carry the excitement from the previous series over to the championship. The New York rotation has the advantage of having thrown a lot less than Las Vegas's 3 starters (61 innings between the three). While the Viagras have different role players, the Hokies have their hitting prowess spread out throughout their lineup (8 different hitters with a home run). Post-season numbers for both teams are essentially identical. Does this mean another long series?

Prediction: Las Vegas is riding in as the only wildcard left in the post-season. With the way they are playing, anything can happen. However, they're going up a very good New York team that could outlast them over an extended series. Especially with the amount of time already logged for Las Vegas, fatigue should be a factor. Taking two giants in a row is a hard task but if they do, they are definitely worthy of a World Series appearance. How far can heart and adrenaline go? Six games worth. New York wins the American League

The National League is the yin to the American League's yang. The NL's top seeds were dominant during the DCS with a sweep and a four-game series that saw the opponent score only nine runs. The San Francisco Gothams and the New York Highlanders look to do battle in what should be a grinding, low-scoring series.

New York v. San Francisco
Season series: New York 6-4
Playoffs Team BA: New York - .285 San Francisco - .294
Playoffs Team ERA: San Francisco - 3.67 New York - 2.31

Both teams may show up being a little rusty. With the bye and then a short series, each team is trying to keep up the intensity at practice. It's been a long and successful season for both ball clubs and each one would hate to see their season slip away. Denny Young for New York and Donaldo Lunar for the Gothams look to steal at least two wins. However, each pitching staff does not solely depend on them as Jamie Itou and Larry Farrell have had under 3.5 ERA seasons and New York's Harold Drew and Franciscio Feliz have cranked up the heat in their post-season appearances. It'll be interesting to see how the pitching matchups workout and whether or not one team will have to use their ace more than twice.

Prediction: The Highlanders are a really good team. They pitch well, hit well, and win ball games. However, going up against a Cy Young candidate twice equals nearly certain exit. Especially with the rotation's supporting cast. The only way for New York to win is to take out Lunar early and remove his impact on the series. Problem is - Lunar is really really good. San Francisco in 6 games

Thursday, March 20, 2008

NL Division Championship Series

After correctly picking all 4 winners and going 50% on the length of each series, this writer feels less confident about the DCS round.

New York v. Little Rock
Season series: Little Rock 6-4
Regular season Team BA: New York - .263 Little Rock - .275
Regular season Team ERA: New York - 3.78 Little Rock - 4.02

In a tense, five-game battle with Dover, Little Rock after using Corey Mantei three times. We'll see if the amount of work he put in will affect him or not. Meanwhile, the Hokies come in, tied for the best record in the National League. A 3.78 ERA helps alongside Denny Young's 16-7 2.52 ERA 1.04 WHIP and Brian Malone's 107 steals. Not necessarily a power-hitting team, the Highlanders like to play it small. Tomas Camacho has also been solid with 23 saves, a 2.23 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. Considering that the Snappers batted .224 on the road with Dover, New York could be looking at a nice weekend, resting their bullpen and enjoying their trip to the postseason with some refreshing iced tea. That is, unless the James' have anything to say about the matter.

Prediction: It's tough to lose such a great pitcher as Whitehead. He could've balanced out Mantei's work in the Play-in series and could've shortened the series altogether. The Snappers will have to look for others to step up but New York is too rested and too motivated to let the series get out of hand. If Mantei shows up in Game One and Little Rock loses, there'll be a tough decision over whether or not he plays in Game Three. My thinking is that it will have to be a "yes." New York in 4 games.

San Francisco v. St. Louis
Season series: San Francisco 8-2
Regular season Team BA: San Francisco - 2.70 St. Louis - .278
Regular season Team ERA: San Francisco - 3.45 St. Louis - 4.27

For over half a season, no one could figure out how to hit off Donaldo Lunar(26-4, 1.36 ERA 0.89 WHIP). They still can't but Lunar did manage to get 4 losses. Which is pretty much ridiculous that 4 losses might be seen as a disappointment. With such a low ERA, about even BA, and a commanding season record, the Gothams look like they could put this series behind them with no problem. However, that problem has recently reemerged - Jeremy Anderson. Losing him for over 60 days and still winning 97 times is scary. It'll be interesting to see how the pitching matchups end up going and whether or not Vega and Lunar will battle. However, what may be even more intriguing is the Gothams' lineup. There are some solid players in Foster(.303 41HR-126RBI) and Rodriguez(.275 35HR-139RBI-29SB) and if they can get hot, they could negate St. Louis' lineup.

Prediction: How many times is Lunar going to be used? The Gothams have a great rotation and a solid lineup. St. Louis is probably going to pitch Vega around Lunar. Yet, at the cavernous SBC Park, San Francisco's pitching is unstoppable(3.23 ERA at home) up and down the rotation and out of the bullpen. St. Louis is going to have to overcome that and win one at San Francisco before the series changes sites. But Lunar is too good and will win two if needed. San Francisco in 4

AL Division Championship Series Preview

Syracuse v. Las Vegas
Season Series: 7-3
Regular season Team BA: Syracuse - .286 Las Vegas - .275
Regular season Team ERA: Syracuse - 3.73 Las Vegas - 4.85

This series is going to get interesting when it moves to Las Vegas. Syracuse lost 3 out of 4 games on the road to the Viagras during the season but swept them at home. The goal for the Pirates is to ensure that Dummy Alexander(.307 72HR-184RBI-33SB) gets plenty of chances to hit the ball out of the park. It's been a tough year for the Pirates as the G.M. who started the season resigned after allegations that he wasn't spending time and money on conditioning and trainers at the minor league levels. An investigation by the Munson World Commissioner resulted in recommended resignation and the appointment of an interim G.M. That interim status is no longer temporary. jmuhtoff has paid attention to all aspects of the game and his Pirates have the best record in the Majors. Omar Little(20-4, 2.38 ERA 1.04 WHIP) has been phenomenal on the mound and hopes to give his team a shot at the World Series.

Prediction: In what was an offensive battle, Las Vegas took three straight from New Orleans. That won't be the case this time around. Syracuse has an amazing pitching staff(3.66 ERA at home) and lineup(.304 avg at home) that is hard to beat. Factor in that the Pirates only have had 33 errors this season and there is just no statistical disadvantage for the top-seed. Jimmie Ramirez is going to have to step up if the Viagras are going to have a chance. Syracuse in 3

New York v. Wichita
Season series: Wichita 7-3
Regular season Team BA: New York - .278 Wichita - .268
Regular season Team ERA: New York - 4.26 Wichita - 4.52

Wichita is riding in on momentum after a sweep of Cleveland in the Play-in series. The Shockers now look to take on the other AL North team - the formidable New York Hokies. The Hokies seem to be solid everywhere they go, posting similar winning percentages, averages and ERA at home and on the road. With Ham Davey's 106 stolen bases and Dan Hermansen's 67 home runs coupled with Adam Berkman's 15-5 record, 2.67 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, one would think this New York ball club would have an outright advantage. However, the duo of Lyon and Barkley for the Shockers proved to be dynamite in game one against Cleveland. The pitching staff posted a 3.50 ERA and the lineup batted .292.

Prediction: This series is pretty much up in the air. Neither team has a distinct advantage. Wichita put up massive numbers against Cleveland and they did take 7 games away from New York in the regular season. This game is going to game 5 and even then, to the ninth inning for a decision. Which is where there is a difference between the teams. New York's Max Roosevelt(50 saves, 8 blown 4.35 ERA 1.21 WHIP) can't close but Barkley can. Wichita in 5

Sunday, March 16, 2008

NL Division Play-In Series Previews

See earlier post for AL Previews.

*Stat totals current as of game 160 of 162 of the regular season*

St. Louis v. Buffalo
Season series: St. Louis 7-3
Team BA: St. Louis - .278 Buffalo - .257
Team ERA: St. Louis - 4.27 Buffalo - 3.78

Four words: Jeremy Anderson is back. In half a season, he had a .374 avg 27HR and 77RBIs. Does Buffalo have a shot? Despite not having an all-star out of the rotation, the team ERA is among the best in the majors, thanks largely to Cy Young and Fireman of the Year candidate Branch Telgheder(47 saves, 1.19ERA 0.78WHIP). However, the Ridge Runners low ERA is coupled with the lowest batting average out of postseason teams. Steven Bailey(.280 38HR-97RBI) for Buffalo and Pascual Vega(22-9, 4.01ERA 1.26WHIP) for St. Louis are the key players to watch.

Prediction: It's a classic pitching versus hitting duel. Had St. Louis not gotten Anderson back, this would've been a harder choice. St. Louis has to jump out to a large lead early or else they could be in trouble. The more times they don't have to see Telgheder, the better. St. Louis in 4

Little Rock v. Dover
Season series: Little Rock 7-3
Team BA: Little Rock - .274 Dover - .290
Team ERA: Little Rock - 4.02 Dover - 4.18

What do you get for winning 95 games and the division? Facing the best lineup in the majors in the first round. That is Little Rock's challenge as they try to look past Bucky Whitehead's season-ending injury and hope that the James' can lead the Snappers into the next round. Marino and Chris James, combined, have 81 HR and 273 RBIs. Not too shabby, including both of their above-.300 averages. In response, Dover has a plethora of batters that can match those two, namely, Gus Shigetoshi(.356 38HR-106RBI) and Henry Daniels(.341 32HR-107RBI). The Derelicts also have Jeremy Newhouser(14-8, 3.90ERA 1.21WHIP) who has been a welcome addition to the offensive machine. For the Snappers, Corey Mantei has posted Cy Young-type numbers - 21 wins, 2.57 ERA and 1.07 WHIP - and looks to take at least two games from Dover's lineup.

Prediction: Even though Dover is known as an offense-oriented team, they have solid pitching as well (including a 3.99 ERA mark on the road). Both teams actually play better away from home which should make for an interesting series. Despite the offensive assault Dover is ready to dish out, Mantei is a monster. In a five-game series, he can be deadly. Little Rock looks to gather 2 wins via his pitching and just one more, somehow, some way. If Whitehead wasn't injured, this team would be an LCS and WS contender. Without, they'll struggle to survive. Little Rock in 5 games

AL Division Play-In Series Previews

It's finally here...the first postseason in Munson World history! What a season it has been - with ownership changes, a large collection of talented rookies, heated division races, and teams overcoming injuries. Here is a look at the American League Play-in Series.

*Stat totals current as of game 160 of 162 of the regular season*

Wichita v. Cleveland
Season series: Cleveland 6-4
Team BA: Wichita - .268 Cleveland - .263
Team ERA: Wichita - 4.52 Cleveland - 4.92

Even though Cleveland narrowly edged the Shockers during the season, all four of their losses came on the road. Maybe the Cuyahoga's 5.11 ERA on the road is the reason. Cleveland has solid contributers in Blake Faulk(.328, 42HR-120RBI) and Pablo Hernandez(.311, 27HR-83RBI-35SB) but outside of that, the lineup doesn't have a hitter over .270. The Shockers could capitalize on that with their superior team ERA at home (4.09). With such a dramatic drop in ERA, allegedly due to their stadium, Derrick Lyon(17-8, 4.14ERA 1.28WHIP) and Andy Barkley(39 saves, 1.62ERA 0.84 WHIP) could be tough to beat. Going on the road is also easier for the Shockers with Gerald Bryant(61 HR) and Ernie Harrison(46 HR).

Prediction: Both teams don't hit exceptionally well. The difference lies in the pitching and that's where Wichita will excel. The last three games played between the two teams were decided by only 4 runs. Tomas Morales' 5.05 ERA and 10 blown saves are not going to help Cleveland's cause. Wichita in 3 games

New Orleans v. Las Vegas
Season series: Las Vegas 7-3
Team BA: New Orleans .277 Las Vegas .276
Team ERA: New Orleans 4.57 Las Vegas 4.85

What a tough season for those Ragin' Cajuns. Injuries have undeservedly diminished this team into the four seed and out of current talks of an LCS appearance let alone a World Series. This team thrives on small ball and pitching, hitting the fewest home runs out of any team in the playoffs (163). Danny Davies(16-6, 3.17ERA 1.19WHIP) is stellar but so is Hughie Wood(41 Saves, 1.99ERA 0.77WHIP). Opposing them is a team that has a better record and has beaten them seven times. Las Vegas' Jimmie Ramirez(16-7, 3.19ERA 1.10WHIP) anchors the rotation while Troy Hansen(.288 40HR-116RBI-27SB) has a great all-around presence. While Las Vegas may not have the storyline of adversity, they certainly can play the wildcard. A team drifting under the radar with 93 wins is something to be scared of.

Prediction: Both teams look fairly even with intriguing matchups all around. The Ragin' Cajuns have the pitching advantage but if the Viagras can take one in the Big Easy, they could walk away with the series. Literally. Nearly 700 BBs is the best in the majors. Las Vegas in 4.

Cajuns hold on to clinch division

The New Orleans Ragin Cajuns have overcome massive injuries to their pitching staff to claim the AL South crown. The Cajuns had aspirations in the spring to win 100 games, but found themselves struggling to win 85-90 games. Major injuries to #2-#5 SP's Manny McConnell, Hootie Allensworth, Josias Frias and John Ramirez as well as several position players pushed the Cajuns to the limit.

The Cajuns still are not completely whole going into the playoffs. Manny McConnell may be available for action by the ALCS should the Cajuns make it that far. Hootie Allensworth is shut down for the remainder of the season.

The Cajun's key to playoff success will be ace Danny Davies and the high OBP, low power station to station hitting attack. Closer Hughie Wood is a lethal weapon in close games, registering a 1.99 ERA and 41 saves.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

AL Wildcard will go down to the wire

With 4 games left to play, it looks as if the Viagras, with an impressive run the past week will secure the #5 seed. That leaves the Cuyahogas and Bootleggers to battle it out for the final spot. Currently Cleveland has a two game edge on Chicago, but the Cuyahogas have been in a downward spiral the past week, going 4-6 over the past ten games.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Schneider/Morales combine for a No-Hitter!!

Grover Schneider and Tomas Morales went into Seattle hoping to keep the Cuyahoga's wildcard lead intact. They left the Emerald City with a combined no hitter against the Sleepers. Schneider's win sets his record at 14-5 this season, with a 3.11 ERA. Morales, who is doing his best Joe Borowski imitation, notches his 37th save of the season, to go along with his 5.14 ERA. With 11 games to go, Cleveland is trying to hold off a surge by the Bootleggers and the Viagras to hold on to one of the coveted wildcard spots.

My Opinion on Munson World!

Just thought I would say thanks to Batboys to inviting me to be an author. I just wanted to say that I think our world has a long and successful future ahead of us. We have dedicated owners, great leadership, and sound knowledge of baseball - HBD style! I look forward to the future. I would like to start posting our own awards for NL Player of the Month, Manager of the Month, Pitcher of the Month, etc. It will be based upon each team nominating a manager, player, etc from his own division; then we will vote on the players listed. You cannot nominate a player from your own team, nor can you nominate yourself! I think this would be fun! Let me know your thoughts!

Lakerross (Ross)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The History of Thurman Munson

Life and career

Born in Akron, Ohio to Darrell Vernon Munson and Ruth Myrna Smylie, Thurman grew up in nearby Canton. He graduated from Lehman High School in Canton, where he earned scholarship offers from various colleges due to his standout performances in football, basketball, as well as baseball;[1] Munson opted to attend nearby Kent State University on scholarship, where he was a teammate of pitcher and broadcaster Steve Stone. At Kent, Munson joined the Delta Upsilon fraternity. In September 1968 he married Diane Dominick at St. Paul's Parish, Canton.

In the summer of 1967, Munson joined the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League leading his Chatham A's ( to their first ever league title. In the process Munson hit an amazing .420. To recognize this achievement and his subsequent MLB career, the Thurman Munson Batting award is given each season to the CCBL's best hitter.

Munson was selected by the Yankees with the fourth pick in the first round of the 1968 amateur draft. In the minor leagues, he caught for the Binghamton Triplets in their final (1968) season. He was named the American League Rookie of the Year in 1970 after batting .302 with seven home runs and 57 RBI, and making 80 assists. In 1976, he was voted the American League MVP after batting .302 with 17 home runs and 105 RBI, and stealing 14 bases. He is the only Yankee ever to win both the Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards.

An outstanding fielder, Munson made only one error while behind the plate in 1971 (he was knocked unconscious by a runner, dislodging the ball). He went on to win three straight Gold Glove Awards starting in 1973. A seven-time All-Star, Munson hit 113 home runs, batted in 701 runners, and had a career batting average of .292 over his 10-year career. He was also the first captain named by the Yankees since Lou Gehrig. Munson helped lead his team to three consecutive World Series (1976–78), where he batted a remarkable .373 overall (.339 in the American League Championship Series). From 1975-77, Munson hit .300 or better with 100 or more RBI each year, becoming the first catcher to accomplish the feat in three consecutive years since Yankee Hall of Famer Bill Dickey did it four straight seasons from 1936-39. Since Munson's run, Mike Piazza has also accomplished it (1996-98).

In the 1976 World Series, Munson batted .529 and collected six consecutive hits to tie a World Series record set by Goose Goslin of the Washington Senators in 1925, (also in a losing effort). After this hitting performance, which included a 4-for-4 night in the final game at Yankee Stadium, Reds manager Sparky Anderson was asked by a reporter to compare Munson with his catcher, future Hall of Famer Johnny Bench. Anderson's comment at the post-World Series press conference — "Don't ever embarrass nobody by comparing him to Johnny Bench" — may have been a tribute to his great player, but it angered Munson.[1]

Munson also maintained a feud with the other top catcher in the American League in the 1970s, Carlton Fisk of the Boston Red Sox. Fisk's ability to play until he was 45 years old (despite missing time in many seasons due to injuries) allowed him to build up career statistics that far exceeded Munson's. Many of those numbers came while Fisk was with the Chicago White Sox.

Munson batted .320 with a home run in the 1977 World Series, in which the Yankees defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers four games to two. In Game 3 of the 1978 American League Championship Series, with the Yankees tied a game apiece with the Kansas City Royals and trailing 5-4 in the bottom of the eighth inning, he hit the longest home run of his career, a 475-foot (145-meter) shot off Doug Bird over Yankee Stadium's Monument Park in left-center field, to give the Yankees a 6-5 win. They won the pennant the next day, and in the World Series against the Dodgers, Munson caught a pop-up by Ron Cey for the final out.

[edit] Death and legacy

Thurman Munson's number 15 was retired by the New York Yankees in 1979
Thurman Munson's number 15 was retired by the New York Yankees in 1979

Munson was frequently homesick, and took flying lessons so that he could fly home to his family in Canton on off-days. On August 2, 1979, he was practicing takeoffs and landings in his new Cessna Citation I/SP jet at the Akron-Canton Regional Airport. On the third touch-and-go, Munson failed to lower the flaps for landing and allowed the aircraft to sink too low before increasing engine power, causing the jet to clip a tree and fall short of the runway. The plane then hit a tree stump and burst into flames, killing Munson (who was trapped inside) and injuring two other companions. It is believed that the inability to get out of the plane, and the ensuing asphyxiation, is what killed Munson, rather than injuries sustained on impact or burns (the two passengers survived). He was 32 years old.[2]

Munson's sudden death was major news across the nation and especially sorrowed the baseball community. Munson was survived by his wife, Diana, and their three children. The day after his death, before the start of the Yankees' four-game set with the Baltimore Orioles in the Bronx, the Yankees paid tribute to their deceased captain in a pre-game ceremony during which the starters stood at their defensive positions, save for the catcher's box, which remained empty. At the conclusion of Robert Merrill's musical selection, the fans (announced attendance 51,151) burst into a 10-minute standing ovation.

Carlton Fisk was stunned at the news of Munson's death. While the two were rivals both professionally and personally (partially due to the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry), Fisk was upset that something had happened to Munson.

Four days later, on August 6, the entire Yankee team attended his funeral in Canton, Ohio. Lou Piniella and Bobby Murcer, who were Munson's best friends as well as teammates, gave moving eulogies. That night (in front of a national viewing audience on ABC's Monday Night Baseball) the Yankees beat the Orioles 5-4 in New York, with Murcer driving in all five runs with a three-run home run in the seventh inning and a two-run single in the bottom of the ninth.[3]

Immediately following Munson's death, Yankee owner George Steinbrenner announced that his uniform number 15 was being retired. On September 20, 1980, a plaque was dedicated in Munson's memory and placed in Monument Park. The plaque bears excerpts from an inscription composed by Steinbrenner and flashed on the Stadium scoreboard the day after his death:

Our captain and leader has not left us, today, tomorrow, this year, next ... Our endeavors will reflect our love and admiration for him.

To this day, despite a packed clubhouse, an empty locker to the right of Derek Jeter's, with Munson's number 15 on it, remains as a tribute to the Yankees' lost catcher. The original locker that Munson used, along with a bronzed set of his catching equipment, was donated to the Baseball Hall of Fame (Munson himself is not in the Hall, generally considered by most sportswriters to be a "borderline" candidate at best due to the brevity of his career). His number 15 is also displayed on the center field wall at Thurman Munson Stadium, a minor-league ballpark in Canton. Munson is buried at Canton's Sunset Hills Burial Park.

Thurman is one of three notable Yankees who died in aviation accidents, including pitchers Jim Hardin in 1991 and Cory Lidle in 2006.

Erik Jensen portrays him in the ESPN television miniseries The Bronx is Burning.

This post is courtesy of Wikapedia.