Friday, December 24, 2010

Free Agency Preview: Starting Pitchers


Doug Minor is clearly the top SP in this year's FA market. Minor is a true ace. Over ten seasons Minor has compiled a record of 148-91, with an ERA of 3.47. Like some of the other free agents on the market, Minor's age is a concern. However, in ten seasons Minor has never made a trip to the disabled list. Minor is considered a true work horse, finishing only one season with under 200 innings.

Potential Suitors: Washington D.C., New Orleans, San Francisco, Albuquerque, Helena, Sioux Falls, Mexico City

Prediction: 5 years, $90 million

After Doug Minor, it's a pretty thin market for starting pitchers.

The market includes:

Mario Swift

Prediction: 4 years, $29 million

Jared Valent

Prediction: 2 years, $12 million

Matty Tracy

Prediction: 3 years, $20 million

Napoleon Scalici

Prediction: 3 years, $18 million

Omar Bolivar

Prediction: 2 years, $9 million

Brant Arnold

Prediction: 4 years, $24 million

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Season 11 Free Agency Preview

It's time to kick off coverage of the season 11 Winter Meetings in Canseco. First off, the free agency preview!!


If you're looking to acquire a big time impact bat for your line up, look no further. Willis Coleman can do it all. Willis hits for average, power, and can even steal 30+ bases a year. At 32, his age is a bit of a concern, however we don't expect that to stop him from becoming the highest paid position player this off season.

Potential Suitors: New Orleans, New York, Washington DC, Hartford, Mexico City, Albuquerque, Helena.

Prediction: 5 years, $80 million

Charles "Big Chuck" Hemphill is the top 3B on the market. Hemphill is known for his gold glove caliber defense over at 3B. After putting up a career year with the bat, ( .336, 27 HR's, 105 RBI's) Hemphill looks to cash in at this year's winter meetings.

Potential Suitors: Boston, Washington D.C, Helena, Albuquerque.

Prediction: 4 years, $38 million

Felipe Navarro is by far the youngest high profile free agent. At 28, most scouts feel that Felipe has his best years ahead of him. Navarro has not missed a game since season 8.

Potential Suitors: Boston, Washington D.C., Helena, Atlanta, Albuquerque, Durham, Cincinnati

Prediction: 5 years, $40 million

Kyle Briggs might be the biggest power threat in this years FA class. Briggs has averaged almost 38 HR's a year in his 8 season career. Like Coleman, Brigg's age is a bit of a concern, however we don't see that stopping him from getting a lucrative contract this off season.

Potential Suitors: Durham, Helena, Washington D.C., Tampa Bay, Boston, Cincinnati, Florida, Hartford

Prediction: 3 years, $20 million

Potential Steals:

Miguel Rivera

Jacob Sasaki

Todd McIntyre

Donatello Guerrero

Yorvit Reyes

Justin Campbell

Free agency is a crucial part of the off season and signing a key free agent could potentially make or break your season. Which position players will cash in big this off season?? We will find out shortly.

Monday, March 8, 2010

An end of an era in Cleveland...

With the finalizing of the trade with the Dark Knights, Cleveland fans bid a heartfelt goodbye to the face of the franchise for seven season, Al Garrido. The 3 time MVP and 7 time All-Star had made it known that he intended to explore Free Agency after this season. Pronkster management, who have been accused of not planning well for the future, felt it was in the best long-term interest of the club to strike a deal which benefits both Garrido, who will now be able to realistically make a run for a WS title to add to his HOF resume, and the future of the Pronksters. Best Wishes to the G-Man, arguably the greatest player in Canseco history.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Royal Rumblings the Fnal Chapter

The LCS didn't turn out in our favor. The starting pitchers gave up too many early runs and the offense struggled to catch up falling short twice. They played hard but it just wasn't to be. Good Luck to Minnesota as they will need it.

This is my last season here as this World will fall too late into the month of May for my real life schedule. I leave the team in pretty good shape as I used all my remaining prospect money to sign the remaining draft picks and picked up as many decent players I could in the IFA market. I promoted as many players as I could, hopefully not too many will retire, at least there will be a large young pool to fill the gaps. This is the only World I have been in where minor league filler position players are hard to find. Got rid of as many dregs as I dared also.

The team doesn't have any bad contracts and there is four or five expiring contracts that the new GM can decide whether to resign them or not. IMO, only one or two is desirable, the main one needed wants to try FA, go figure. There are several in arbitration but shouldn't be too costly if done right.

As for Ed Wood, I would try to trade him to an AL team as that is the place for him, as a DH.

The farm system isn't bad, just not much in the way of ML caliber players. The HiA team did win the World Series after all and the AA and LoA teams were in the playoffs.

The World itself is pretty good, good owners that try hard to win. Relatively drama free with lots of friendly rivalries.

So long all and have a great upcoming season.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Another Royal Rumble Post

Did the injury help us win? I seem to think it did in my opinion but we will never know for sure. Hard to replace a #3 or #4 hitter in the lineup on the fly. After the injury, pitching ruled the rest of the series as I had just enough offense to win against a great pitching staff.

Minnesota may not be pleased about the outcome however. Now they get their hated division rivals. I didn't pay much attention to their schedule as I may have been the only team to have a winning record against them in the regular season. That of course doesn't amount to a hill of beans in the LCS. What does matter, 2 of the best pitching staffs in the NL go at it once again. We have to find a way to shut down the #1 NL offense while the Bashers get lucky enough to go against #6. They already shut down the #2 NL offense so we know it isn't going to be easy.

In the AL, I thought the Goats would have won at least one game against Dover. The Rage and Mexico City had a see-saw battle which could have gone either way. Now the LCS comes down to the two best teams. After looking things over, I would say Mexico City has the edge but this is the playoffs and anything can and will happen.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Royal Rumble Reasoning

For those of you who don't understand the reasoning behind the Oscar Chang moves and think he is a great pitcher, I will explain my actions. Yes, he is a great pitcher, his record indicates that and probably a better starter than closer. But I have a 7 year history with Oscar which means I know him much better.

For one he had 17 starts this season, 15 of those he registered well over 100 pitches per game and 120+ innings, nothing out of the ordinary really. Two of the games he was pulled early for elbow and shoulder problems. They weren't serious and didn't cause him to miss a start but....First one you wouldn't pay much attention to, the second however, should raise a big red flag. After the second one I let him start one more game and he got shelled in Washington of all places, no offense I hope, as it is more of a pitchers park. Ok, so more or less he was being over used.

I pulled him out of the rotation and was going to use him as a long reliever for a while just to rest him a bit. The team was sputtering and something had to be done. This was when I was making a deep analysis of my team during the All-Star break. You don't want to make too many sudden moves all at once or it will upset the chemistry of the team.

Karim Parra was the closer at the time. He had an 0-3 record and had 18 of 20 saves, sounds relatively good doesn't it? His ERA wasn't overly great for a closer at 3.76 but adequate. The WHIP and OAV was astronomical though for a closer. I tried Julio Torres as the closer for a couple games but he failed miserably and was better at getting a starter out of a jam. Thus Oscar got the job whether he or I liked it or not by default. I tried him as a two inning closer but the stress got to him. He really doesn't make that good of a closer either.

I actually had run out of options for the closer position and what I like to see in ratings at that position. Beyond most of every ones thinking, a closer should have control of 85 and up, a high GB rating with the first two pitches in the 80's minimum, getting one can be hard. Real good splits are a plus but good even splits are adequate. Velocity I am not concerned with at all in any pitcher beyond most peoples belief.

Actually I am not all that thrilled with Oscar as a starter or closer. I have never understood my team when he starts, they don't provide offense for him. He either gets shelled somewhat or they end up as very low 1 or 2 run victories, always have and probably always will. Secondly and what makes him have problems is a WIS joke to keep him in check so he isn't a Cy Yong pitcher every year. If you notice his pitches you will see the problem. If his second and third pitch was reversed he would be unbeatable I think. To combat that problem you need good PC catchers to have a chance and a good pitchers park and I have both. Since his stats are Cy Young quality other than W/L record, you can't do much more if the offense doesn't show up.

For the record I have a very good pitching staff as the stats show, I think Anaheim has the best pitching staff of all. The pitching staff and defense gave up the fewest runs of any team. The offense was 6th in the NL at scoring runs, though the sudden 11 game outburst after the All-Star break had something to do with that in my opinion.

As for the playoff series with Anaheim, it could still go either way. A split in the first two games was crucial. Anaheim's loss of Taylor Romero to injury could be devastating as they are not a great hitting team. It will turn out to be which offense gets to the pitching behemoths first. Whichever team it is looks likely to be rewarded with Minnesota as Scottsdales' proverbial backs are up against the wall.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Royal Rumblings Playoffs 1

Everything went great for the Royal Rumble in round 1 of the playoffs. The best part, the players will be rested after the sweep of the Dingo's. I really didn't expect a sweep of a team I have generally had problems with. Matter of fact, I expected losing the series in 5 games at best. We move on to play the Anaheim Sluggers. The regular season saw the Rumble humble the Sluggers 7-3, but I don't expect that kind of reception in the Playoffs.

What has the Royal Rumble done so differently this season to right the ship? Well, for one I never paid much attention to defense through much of the season. It wasn't that I was playing players out of position, more or less weak at the position and their hitting was not making up the difference. Actually I was very sick much of the season, so paying attention to what was really going on was very minimal.

In a nutshell most of the games were being lost late. To figure out what was wrong I had to analyze what was going on. Orval Varitek had 16 errors at 3B, but 9 plus plays. The 16 errors bothered me and couldn't figure out the reason even after looking at the box scores. Esteban Izturis also had 16 errors, not really uncommon at SS as his somewhat weak glove can cause that. Alex Flores had 13 errors at 2B which also could be because he is a little under-rated in the glove department. The three had a combined 37 plus plays and 1 minus play though. That told me the major infield positions wasn't the problem.

However, the combination of Vic Seneca playing RF and Ed Wood playing 1B did turn out to be a huge problem and probably contributed to the errors of the other 3.

Wood really doesn't have the efficiency to play 1B all that well but his big bat should help the cause. 3 errors and 5 plus plays with 6 minus plays doesn't sound all that bad but his offense didn't cover enough as to what happened to the other players on defense.

Seneca didn't play a very good RF this season either, 5 errors and 7 minus plays with 0 plus plays. His arm is good enough to play the position but that didn't even garner a plus play.

So with Wood out of the lineup and Seneca playing 1B, things changed. Seneca had 0 errors and 4 plus plays at 1B in 37 games. The errors from the other 3 went very minimal in that time frame. One of the problems solved. Brett Stohr was inserted into RF to fill the vacancy, his range and glove are very good for the position but his somewhat weak arm was a concern.

To make up for the short fall of power in the lineup, Tito Yamakazi was quickly promoted to AA to get some higher level AB's in before being promoted to the majors before the playoff roster deadline. Although I consider him still weak at the position, a work in progress so to speak, I had no other choices as I needed another power bat with Wood out of the lineup.

Aubrey Speaker was the odd man out in this move unfortunately for him, just to give Tito playing time. Comparing the two and their regular season play looked like a bad move in the end. Speaker actually had a pretty decent season, though his hitting was a bit off in the BB to SO ratio and his average was down some. The power from Tito never materialized until the playoffs though.

The pen was a sore spot as they couldn't do anything right. Changing the Manager settings cleared most of that up, getting the bench in the game defensively. Also it didn't hurt that I picked up Lorenzo Borbon and Armando Rincon who were sitting unmolested in the FA pool. That allowed me to move three under-performers out to greener pastures in AAA.

Oscar Chang had been complaining about a sore arm and shoulder early in the season. As usual when he pitched, the offense was no where to be found. He normally buckles down in the second part of the season to make him a Cy Young candidate. He had already pitched a lot of innings and nothing much to show for it and I needed a Closer. So to rest him and still use him effectively it was off to Closer school. All of those playoff appearances as a starter under his belt he had only ever won one game, so no loss there. You would think that he would make a shut down Closer, but au contraire. His performance in the role is far from exceptional as 0-2 with 23 saves out of 27 opportunities may sound good but many of the performances were actually a far cry from good even.

Basically most of the last 40 games was back to Spring Training with a never give up attitude. The catch is to identify the problem and try to solve it the best you can without destroying team chemistry. After all the moves, I don't think the team gelled together until the last 10 games of the season and it was just enough to make the playoffs. Did all the changes make a big difference in the playoff against Tampa Bay? I seem to think it did and may have took the Dingo by surprise. Will the way I play the Sluggers change from the Dingos, Probably!

As for the the other three sweeps by the Wild Card teams. I was surprised that New York completely shut down Arizona. Three shutouts in the Playoffs? Chicago out hitting Hartford wasn't that much of a surprise, the sweep was. Scottsdale's sweep of Burlington wasn't actually a real surprise but shutting down the Burlington offense in Scottsdale was.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Royal Rumblings III

I didn't get around to posting team happenings after the 20 game stretch. Was 12-8 in the stretch but it kept me in the hunt for the playoffs. It finally donned on me why I was having problems winning 1-run games. A minor change to the Manager settings and suddenly I am 22-29 in 1-run games, vast improvement from 15-26 I would say. So what was the change? I know everyone wants to know. The old configuration wasn't allowing my bench to get in the game. Sounds a bit ludicrous right? Why would I want my bench players in the game and take offense away. Most generally I was winning the game before losing it that is why. I needed my backup defensive PC catcher in the game and he wasn't getting there. 12 points of pitch calling and a much better defense has more meaning to me in tight games and to the pen it seems. The rest of the players coming in late is not going to have that much of an adverse effect defensively or offensively for that matter. Also it got me to wondering if they may have put an upper level cap on 1-run games so I did some checking in other worlds. It seems it is possible that it could be 55 as I found a bunch of those but never found one over 55.

So here I set with 1 game to play in the regular season and suddenly find myself with a 1 game lead for the last wild card spot. The final 17 games had my nerves in an uproar believe it or not. Losing 2 of 3 to Minnesota didn't help. Then losing 3 of 4 to Austin, I got the pepto out. I was actually resting some players, they needed it, but it was disheartening. Another small change to the Manager settings and I was back in business taking 3 of 4 from Helena. Then took 2 of three from arch-rival Chicago. It should have been a sweep if you ask me. What happened in the loss threw me for a second, couldn't figure out the lineup from the box score to the one I supposedly had in place. Something I had never seen before happened, mostly because I don't let it happen. The sim auto rested my tired players. Ok, so now I had to change the auto rest feature for position players something that I have never had to do before, except for pitchers.

So after a decidedly disastrous start to the final 17 games, I have finished with an 8-2 run that I am pretty sure has put me in the playoffs as the #6 seed. I am resting my players anyway in the final game of the season. The reason, a 1 game lead and if I did my counting right, I hold the tie-breakers, so if I lose the last game I should back into the playoffs. I know I hold the H2H with Jacksonville 7-3 for the tie breaker with them. Chicago and I are 5-5 H2H but I hold the division record. So I will get Tampa Bay in the first round, egads things never get better but then who said it would be easy?

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Royal Rumblings II

Well, I am back to being bewildered again. After wiping out the division opponents I figured I would win a few in the next 23 game stretch. 10-13 was not my idea of a fun stretch. Scoring 73 runs, what happened to the offense? Only gave up 62 so it probably isn't pitching or defense. I have a wonderful 1-run record also, 15-27, rivaled only by Louisville at 12-26 in frustration.

Well, the way I see it things won't get much better. I face one winning team, Anaheim, in the next 20 games. That is right, 17 games against sub 500 teams. You would think I would be happy about that. Problem is I haven't been beating these teams, so why would it change now?

Oh well, back to the sludge pool and see what shakes out.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Royal Rumblings

Before the All-Star break my team looked dismal and couldn't beat anyone, well, except Jacksonville. They were bewildered, I was bewildered. The only thing I could figure out was, we had 46 losses and 21 of those were by 1-run. Then after the All-Star break I changed the lineup a little. Opened up against the Dark Knights at home, oh great another 1-run loss. I was ready to throw in the towel as I had no clue as to why and 16 games behind Minnesota. We were still strong enough to make a run at a wild card maybe, but the way we had been playing I doubted that even.

Next thing I know, we mopped up the division with that towel I threw in. Never saw it coming. No way, no how. We went into Minnesota with a sudden 7 game win streak. I figured this series would end it all right away. But no, we humiliated them on their home field, the fans actually booed them off the field. With a 16-0 shellacking to start the series and a 10-1 thumping to end it, easy to understand the fans resentment. I think that has been their worst two defeats all season.

Suddenly we are on a 10 game win streak and closed the gap from 16 games to 10. And we also caught Chicago in the mean time. We scored 86 runs in those 10 games, 10 or more in 5 of them with 3 shutout victories.

Other than the little change the lineup, I picked up Lorenzo Borbon from the FA scrap heap to replace a pen pitcher that was in my dog house. He hasn't even gotten a chance to pitch as the starters have been going deep into games with little worry and the short relief has been shutting everything down all of a sudden. Of course it is relatively easy when you have comfy leads to start with.

Not sure what changed, but I am not complaining and hope it continues.