Friday, May 28, 2010

5/28/2010 6:39 AM:

Josh Gray left the Durham Bull's facility after hitting the water cooler with his bat and cussing out the manager. He had just found out that he had been designated for assignment because the manager wanted Willie Gonzalez to be the starter coming out of the all-star break. WIS wouldn't allow it, under current restrictions, hence the extreme action by the manager. A player overheard Josh say he was heading over to WIS headquarters to give them a piece of his mind, but had trouble leaving the parking lot as he refused to let go of his bat while he drove!


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Season 10 Team Previews

(Note: All team records shown are for last season)

AL North

Montreal Sin City, plague *

101-81 (down 10 wins)

4 time AL North defending division champions. 4 straight 97+ win seasons and 4 straight early round playoff exit. Sin City key players is their starting pitching staff and balanced and deep offense. Leading the way is SP-Juan Hernandez who has 5 straight 18+ win seasons and 2 Cy Youngs, with a strong #2 starter in Joe Thompson who is 62-20 the last 4 seasons. Mark Pong (13-8 3.30 ERA) is a solid 3rd starter and former first round pick and 15th overall Mitch Howard is expected to make his debut this season. The bullpen has in the past been Sin City weak spot and we went out and signed a couple Type A free agents (Billy Newsome and Robert Parrish), that and we will be changing closers this season since Terry Austin (38 saves 4.67 ERA) has been inconsistent over the years. New Closer will be 35 year old Victor Gomez. The offense is deep and will be the same lineup as last season except we will see the arrival of former Intl player George Alson at 1st base. The offense is led by DH Tsuyoshi Koh (.310 BA, 34 HR, 112 RBI), 3B-Warren Creek (.282 BA, 21 HR, 114 RBI), 2B-Dan Allensworth (.288 BA, 26 HR, 111 Runs, 88 RBI, 24 SB),and RF-Brett Stairs who missed most of season 9 with a injury (season 8 stats .277 BA, 42 doubles, 25 HR, 102 RBI, 115 Runs, 45 SB). With young Pete Rath moving Warren Creek to 3rd base and George Alston moving up to play 1st base Sin City is looking to have their best season.

Hartford Whalers, Sved

89-73 (up 3 wins)

Columbus Battling Bishops, rgun

80-82 (down 13 wins)

Milwaukee Millers, dfdarby (fomerly Boise Spuds, The_Rock, Lake Stevens, WA)

70-92 (up 9 wins)

AL East

Buffalo Blizzard, fumanchu

90-72 (down 3 wins)

Buffalo Blizzard - With hopes of landing a solid #2 SP going into Free Agency, the Blizzard were dissappointed when contract after contract was getting ripped for gargantuan offers. Our top 3 pitchers targeted quickly got out of reach. With a $16m salary already on the payroll, we reassessed our options and landed 2 quality SP's and 2 position players 2 fill needs. All for less than 1 of the originally targeted players. Buffalo has hopes of getting back to the playoffs and making some noise. As with any season, staying healthy will be the key ingredient, well and having the Simmy on your side!

Syracuse Alliance, winshared (formerly Baltimore Black Stallions, wolfgangcrab, Born in Stuttgart, Germany; Current Residence - San Ramon, CA)

73-89 (up 8 wins)

Wolfgangcrab had predicted he'd finish 3rd in AL East, with a record of 75-87 last season. Pretty darn close prediction!

From Winshared: In the first yr of GMing the team moved to Syracuse, we look to bring stability and a combination of offense,defense and pitching thru building thru the draft
With a better than average offense led by Napoleon McCracken,Chuck Douglas and Sid Scott the Alliance will hope to generate enough runs and play above average defense in order to support a suspect rotation filled with journeymen and spot starters, getting a solid 5 to 6 innings a night will either work or won't work(odds are it won't) before turning it over to a better than average bullpen.

A season of rebuilding is likely in store for Alliance fans as without a couple of starting pitchers stepping up and being the rocks of the rotation the team will be fighting from behind most of the games.

Durham Bulls, milton7, West Chester Township (Cincinnati), Ohio

57-105 (down 8 wins)

After four straight seasons of losing more games than the year before, the Durham Bulls finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and look to reverse that trend with at least 15 more wins this season than last. Who knows, we might even approach .500 ball! Key to this improvement will be better starting pitching with FA pickup Willie Gonzalez the biggest reason for positive change. Pitching has always been the weak link of this franchise, says milton7, as he complained about the difficulty of procuring good starting pitchers for the Durham Bull organization.

Home runs and run production in general was up last season as GM Milton7 made major roster changes, changing a speedy defensive team into a team better able to take advantage of our home park’s dimensions. Led by rule 5 pickup Todd Kirby’s 50 dingers, the result was a 69% increase in HRs compared to season 8. Season 8 rankings: HRs 20th; RBIs 20th; runs 19th; slugging 22th; OPS 18th. Season 9 improved to: HRs 1st; RBIs 7th; runs 6th; slugging 4th; OPS 4th. We’ve added a couple more rule 5 power bats this season also so we should be able to produce runs with the best of them.

Fans are getting a little antsy to bring up some of our prospects to the Show, (some examples are SP Denny Shibata 21-2 with a 1.74 ERA; Wallace Donovan 12-2 with 3 saves and a 1.37 ERA; Lee Yerkes 7-2 with a 2.08 ERA; Phil Lee RF .308 avg., .383 OBP, 39 HRs 97 runs, 117 RBIs at AA; Amp Day 2B .307 avg., .384 OBP, 33 HRs, 105, RBIs, 102 runs at Hi A). Milton7 is holding firm for following whatever path will result in the quickest development path to reach the full potential of the organization’s prospects. “The Durham Bulls are on the rise”, said milton7, and that’s no bull folks

Trenton Situation, bostitch40 (formerly Syracuse Highlanders, stmachi)

54-108 (down 1 win)

AL South

Tampa Bay Tocobaga, Ripken0713, Kansas City, MO

98-64 (up 25 wins and Season 9 Champions!)

Season 9 was a great one for the Tocobaga. Efforts in the offseason clearly paid off, resulting in their first playoff appearance and an unexpected championship! Keeping a championship team together is never easy and Tampa Bay said goodbye to several key pieces, most notably their #1 and #3 starters, Willie Gonzalez and Omar Soriano. Also, Moe Corey, the teams closer the last 2 years was sent packing to Oakland. These loses alone would leave one to think TB would have an extremely difficult road to the playoffs, let alone any thought of repeating. However, through aggresive free agency acquisitions and intellegent trading, the Owner and General Manager have put together the best team (on paper) this city has ever seen!

Scoring runs has been a sore subject the past 3 seasons. Tampa focused on finding ways to give their lineup a much needed shot in the arm. Leading off remains Mitch Smith, a rising star who is capable of putting up a near .300 average and .400 on base %. Newly acquired Jason Morton will play the hot corner. While he may be on the down side of his career, if he can come close to his career on base % of .354, it should leave ducks on the pond for the dangerous 3-6 hitters. Francisco Guillen put up MVP caliber numbers his first year with the team and should be expected to produce another 35 homers with 115+ RBI. Maybe larger than Durham's signing of Willie Gonzalez is the impact Jose Johnson will have for the Tocobaga. The 6 time MVP will no doubt put runs on the board. Vincete Franco is in the 5 hole and continues to improve every year, belting out 42 HR in season 9. Finally, an early Rookie of the Year favorite, Royce Nunnly holds down the 6 spot. Playing part time in AAA, he still was able to amass a .329/.395/44/138 stat line! Footsie Butler, Iago Barry and Ignacio Almaza round out the order and while they show flashes of offense, the true value lies in their defensive prowess.

The starting rotation should remain competitive. Jay Bynum, Al Buckly and Emil Flores return and bring a combined 3.22 ERA from last year. Brian Lainer hopes his career 3.58 ERA doesn't drag the team down, but should form a solid 1-2 punch with the aformentioned Bynum. The wildcard in the roation contiues to be #5 starter, Richard Edwards. Pulled from the scrapheap, the former 1st round draft pick has the talent to pitch a sub 4 ERA year, but will the pitching staff be able to help him realize his potential? Tampa Bay's revamped bullpen should be one of the best in baseball. With a combined 11 Allstar game appearances between them, Vance Crosby, Ron James and closer Miguel Castillo should be able to protect any lead that's handed to them. Pitching should still be a strenght for the team, but it's no longer the ONLY strength.

Fans now have a right to be excited for the new season. The World Series champs have answered the call and remain ready to compete. Will they be able to repeat this year? Only time will tell. Hwoever, with a young nucleus of All-Stars, a savy GM and a seemingly endless pocketbook, the next few seasons should be a great time for all those watching.

Richmond Rug Rats, thebug715, Union, NJ

85-77 (up 3 wins)

Charlotte Shoddies, giles21, Athens, GA

81-81 (down 9 wins)

The Charlotte Shoddies enter the season trying the impossible to fill the void that is Willie Gonzalez. Paid a pretty penny to pick up a replacement that won't do too much to ease the loss of Willie. However, the bullpen should be solid to backup that 'average' rotation.

On the field and in the lineup, the team got younger and has a few new rookies who can offer at least the same if not more than those they replaced. The silver slugger Tiny Stoops is still ripping it, and the already all-star with lots of room for growth, Mariano Suarez, continues to tear it up at the plate.

All in all, this team should be a borderline playoff team for the season.

Kansas City Aristocrats, mattjmiller, Kansas City

73-89 (down 8 wins)

Despite still having the lowest payroll in the league the Aristocrats will attempt to contend in their division. The offense should be improved. If the young and talented pitching can come through, this could be the first playoff appearance for the Aristocrats.

Key Additions Position Players:

Vinny Stairs CF .282/.365/.449 last season

A full season of Chief Cooke RF .290/.366/.493 in KC last season

A full season of Tim Michalak LF .273/.340/.535 in his last full season

Promotion of Domingo Tejada C .290/.352/.507 in AAA

Rule 5 pick Vicente Soriano OF .308/.392/.589 85 SB 2 CS in AA

Key Additions Pitchers:

Waiver trash Rodrigo Ordaz

....really hoping the young players get better as the Aristocrats ranked 26th in runs allowed last year

Key Losses Position Players:

Jayson Garland C .266/.313/.444

Alan Granger LF .261/.320/.398

Key Losses Pitchers:


Unfortunately playing in the same division as the defending champs is going to hurt the Aristocrats chances of making the playoffs.

Prediction 84-78

AL West

Oakland Asterisk's, aa12on

95-67 (down 1 win)

Colorado Stickballers, mr_stickball, Sonoma, CA

93-69 (down 4 wins)

Summary: The Stickballers despite being Stickball World's winningest team, has only won the WS Trophy once, in Season 6. They are known for having an explosive offense coupled with a solid defense, but many of their hitters were traded away in the offseason and during this Spring. Ownership is of the opinion that it is better to trade aging talent while they are still worth something on the market. A cruel, but necessary philosophy that saw the Stickballers trade away the league's best slugger, Jose Johnson. The Stickballers tried to replace Johnson's productive capability by adding a couple of new sluggers to the lineup, but they are definitely giving up some defense to do so. That could spell trouble in Colorado's hit-friendly park.

Pitchers (opening the season with a 6-man rotation this time):

SP1 – Sean McKay 15-9 (OAV .274/ WHIP 1.44/ ERA 4.82) 26-year-old McKay struck out 162 while only walking 68 in his second full season at the ML level. He just signed a fat 5-year contract and both he and management are quite happy right now.

SP2 – Rocky Martin 12-8 (OAV .252/ WHIP 1.39/ ERA 4.89) Former Rookie-Of-The Year, Rocky collected 147 strikeouts last season while walking only 68. He seems to be completely over the injury that set him back a bit two seasons ago.

SP3 – Bosco Morton 11-6 (OAV .269/ WHIP 1.31/ ERA 4.19) Morton was traded for last season and he delivered big-time, despite his advancing age. He is a well-conditioned and motivated athlete, so Colorado expects a similar performance this season.

SP4 – Bill Brown 9-5 (OAV .270/ WHIP 1.32/ ERA 4.77) Colorado’s Season 1 Supplemental Pick won 9 games last season before going down to a fairly serious injury. Now at Age 30, the lanky Brown has to prove he can beat the injury bug and stay healthy for a whole season.

SP5, Tracy Grimsley 9-8 (OAV .298/ WHIP 1.55/ ERA 5.02), is an aging groundball pitcher who wins by not making a ton of mistakes. He'll find himself in the bullpen if any of Colorado's younger pitchers prove they deserve to replace him.

SP6 – Glomar Guardado (Minor league stats. for last season:) 22-4 (OAV .187/ WHIP 0.95/ ERA 1.91) The Stickballers couldn't believe their luck when the Rule 5 draft rolled around and they actually landed Guardado. While not necessarily a Cy Young candidate anytime soon, Guardado is clearly a deserving ML pitcher and, while only 25 years old, Colorado is hopeful that he'll surprise everyone and rip off a bunch of wins this season.

Bullpen – The Rule 5 Draft also yielded long reliever, Pedro Pascual, a lefty dart-thrower who, most importantly, doesn't walk a ton of guys. The short-relievers are anchored by Setup Man Johnny Mays (L) and Buck Ramsey (R), this group sees a lot of action in Colorado and is a key factor towards their success or failure.

Closer – Newly acquired Vin Ayala (OAV .239/ WHIP 1.30/ ERA 3.64) is here now and ready to rock. He saved 14 out of 17 games last season, but plans to do much more damage this season with the Stickballers. He is a southpaw strikeout/groundout pitcher and features a very hard, nasty split-fingered fastball.


1. 1B Len Russell (.283/.359/.382) A Rule 5'er from last season, this young base-stealer is moving over to 1B, where his great length (6' 5") will provide a wide target for his fellow infielders. He'll be taking over this position from departed Jose Johnson, and, while he won't be the slugger Jose was, we think he'll be an even better defensive player at 1B.

2. LF Albert Cruz (.388/.455/.444) Cruz sure loves being back in Colorado. He won the Silver Slugger award and, for much of the season, was actually flirting with a season AVE over .400.

3. RF Kirk West (.296/.365/.397) West will start the season in the number 3 hole, but vs. righties will often be lower down in the order. He was one of Colorado's new pickups and this 24-year-old stands to hit for a high average with a little pop to boot.

4. DH J.P. DeRojas (.291/.403/.570) A perennial All-Star, 31-year-old DeRojas looks to surpass 300 career homeruns early this season.

5. 2B Johnnie Neal (.245/.323/.460) While not the Stickballers best defensive second baseman, the 25-year-old slugger will move from LF to 2B and give it a go here in Colorado. Expect his numbers to be significantly better this season.

6. SS Dante Wynn (.276/.336/.412) 3 consecutive All-Star appearances has moved Wynn into the elite SS's in the game; however, he tends to struggle vs. lefties and will often be platooned for when the team is facing a southpaw. Given that he will be featured primarily vs. righties, expect his AVE and OPS to improve this season.

7. C Lee Benson (.285/.329/.448) Benson is a solid defensive catcher who can hit a little bit. Expect to see a lot of playing time from their other defensive catcher, Rookie Brian Ausmus -- a guy Colorado thinks may one day be the premier signal-caller in the game.

8. 3B Davey Jose (.261/.337/.441) Another new player to the Stickballers, Jose will be moved to 3B with the idea that his bat is just too significant to leave out of the starting lineup. He'll struggle at the hot corner from time to time, but expect Jose to move up in the batting order if he starts slugging like he shows he can in batting practice.

9. CF Winston Miles (.285/.347/.377). Another (former) Rule 5 Draftee, Miles, had a bit of a performance drop last season. He was initially slated to play 2B, which was not a natural position for him since he is left-handed. He is more comfortable in CF and will platoon there vs. righties ahead of Heinie Barrett (.293, .356, .376), who struggles a bit against rightiies but kills lefties.

Bench: Colorado features primarily defensive guys on the bench, but sometimes they’ll start a defensive stalwart and keep either DeRojas or Benson on the bench to give them a rest. Colorado plans to do a lot of platooning and double-switching this season to take advantage of matchups.

Tucson Suns, billhowell75

82-80 (down 3 wins)

Honolulu Islanders, kobylesky, Cincinnati, OH

76-86 (down 13 wins)

NL North

Cincinnati RedSpeedos, r7gordon, Indianapolis, IN

92-70 (up 13 wins)

Cincinnati finally turned the corner last year...not only did they finish above .500 for the first time in franchise History...they Won their Division by winning 92 games. Many years of High Draft picks and selective Free Agent signings are really starting to pay off....Pitching staff led by Thomas Jiminez who will be looking for retribution after being snubbed as a Cy Young Candidate last year..when asked about this his reply was "Screw the nominating committee right in their arse....I'll do my talking on the mound this year..while it would have been nice..I'd give it up again for another playoff run". Offensively the Speedos are led Veteran Ossie Jones (32 HR's 150 RBI's)....also snubbed of any awards.......Owner R7gordon quote "we'll be happy making the playoffs and then making a deep run into the post season"....

Tacoma Raniers, tkd2k1, Los Angeles, CA

91-71 (up 11 wins)

Dover Capitals, brainbread (formerly Chicago Black Sox, tombrady12)

77-85 (down 3 wins)

Detroit Dominators, armymp, Sierra Vista, AZ

68-94 (down 11 wins)

After an extremely disappointing season, the Dominators are hoping that the club can turn things around. Detroit is still hoping that it's two left handed starters can find themselves and start pitching up to their potential. This is a rebuilding season and any improvement will be welcome in Detroit as some veteran players move on in free agency. Hopefully some of the younger players who have been anxiously awaiting there chance to prove themselves will step up. With 3 picks in the first round Detroit is hoping that the draft can breath new life into this struggling franchise.

NL East

Norfolk Seamen, dakramer79 (formerly Pawtucket Powderfingers, vdaino)

97-65 (down 8 wins)

After 9 seasons, we lost one of our founding owners, vdaino. He appears to have retired from HBD altogether … clearly he has lost his mind. Welcome aboard, dakramer79, we hope you “stick” around as long or longer!

Dakramer79 writes: “Hoping the starting pitching works out in the new city and ball park. I have virtually the same everyday 8 returning, and expecting big things from 3b Clay Gordon.”

Florida Alienists, strang, Battle Creek, MI

71-91 (down 9 wins)

Atlanta Mudhens, ziggy67534 (formerly Augusta A-Team, nesman)

67-95 (down 22 wins!)

Philadelphia Phunky Phillies, beamer88 *

61-101 (up 9 wins)

The Philadelphia francise had a disappointing season, management had hoped for better production from it's young hitters. While our young starters pitched fairly well, we didn't score enough runs. Our bullpen was terrible with no established closer.

A new hitting coach should help Collins, Karl, and a few other youngsters and our staff has another year of seasoning under it's belt. We look to improve in season 10 and play more like the current Phillies team and less like the Phillies of the 60's.

NL South

Texas Tornados, bingles

90-72 (up 13 wins)

Charleston Sumter Men, bwb53

87-75 (down 3 wins)

Witchita Wendigo, ormank, Omaha, NE

79-83 (up 5 wins)

St. Louis Sourpusses, dryb, Springfield, IL

70-92 (up 4 wins)

NL West

Salem Acid, elixerr, Lowell, MA

99-63 (up 24 wins, from worst to first!)

Long the NL West doormat those days passed the Acid by with a Worst to First season from out of nowhere.

Free Agency hit our pitching hard this year with the defection of Geronimo Vizquel to division rival Scottsdale, couple that with the devastating injury to Ace Tom Moore and we could take a step back before taking another step forward. Failing to engage in the money being tossed about to the pitchers, we opted instead to sign a potential leadoff man in Glenallen Fryman to replace the traded Geraldo Rodriguez. A trade that netted us a decent CF in Kevin Black and good young pitching prospect in Theodore Tucker. Overall an active offseason but without the flair of some. We should still be competitive but waiting to get Tom Moore back somewhere around the quarter season mark we may find ourselves a bit too far behind to repeat as division champs but a wildcard is still well within our reach and some valuable playoff experience last year could go a long way.

Los Angeles Galaxy, mike1184, Lloydminster, SK, Canada

95-67 (down 6 wins)

Fresno Fugitives, jd2764

79-83 (down 1 win)

Albuquerque Isotopes, picc818, Old Bridge, NJ

72-90 (down 10 wins)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Season 9 Team Previews

(Note: All team records shown are for last season)

AL North

Montreal Sin City, plague *

111-51 (up 9 wins)

Columbus Battling Bishops, rgun

93-69 (up 18 wins)

Hartford Whalers, Sved

86-76 (up 12 wins)

Boise Spuds (formerly Burlington Anthrax, suiciderick), The_Rock, Lake Stevens, WA

61-101 (down 14 wins)

AL East

Buffalo Blizzard (formerly New York Brokers, huskypride2), fumanchu

93-69 (down 4 wins)

The Buffalo Blizzard, formerly New York Brokers, are looking to stay competitive and hold reign to the division title. The team has some really high priced salaries for what some may call good players, but not great. The former owner sold out for 3 straight division titles and a WS title, but to what end. This team has to rebuild the minors as there is no depth for the future and with such high salaries, it makes it near impossible to try and trade for prospects. Being on the wrong end of the salary cap doesn't make things easier...somebody has to be moved in order to get this team headed back in the right direction for the long term.

Baltimore Black Stallions, wolfgangcrab

65-97 (down 7 wins)

Relocated the Boston Irish II franchise from original owner kcg67

wolfgangcrab – Born in Stuttgart, Germany; Current Residence - San Ramon, CA

2nd Season Record 65-97 3rd Place in AL East

Season 8: Review & Highlights:

Sid Scott LF/3B/2B- 155 hits; .311/.373/.430/.803 w/ 23D;12HR; 73RBI; 124 G

Chuck Douglas RF/SS/2B/CF- Led team w/ 176 hits; .281w/ 28D; 31HR; 99RBI;162 G

Miguel Sanchez LF/1B- 157 hits; .252/.324/.404/.728 w/ 27D; 8T; 17HR; 75RBI; 162 G

Wellington Rodriguez SS/2B- 11+ & 0- plays @ SS, w/ 25HR; 70RBI; 147 Games

Eugene Allen 3B/RF/2B/SS- Led team w/101 R; .281 BA; 29D; 6T; 16HR; 57RBI; 32SB

Joe Malloy SP- 33 Starts; 5 CG; 1 SHO; 13-12; 213 IP; 215H; 5.49ERA; 1.47WHIP;

*James Dong SP- 32 Starts; 2 CG; 11-16; 207 IP; 222 H; 3.94ERA;1.39 WHIP; 91 ER

Jeff Ensberg Clr- 37 G; 30 SV; 34 SVO; 33 IP; 28 H; 4.09 ERA; 1.36 WHIP; 15 ER

*Felipe Posada SP- 32 Starts; 8-11; 192 IP; 191 H; 3.79 ERA; 1.20 WHIP; 81 ER

Season 8 Amateur Draft: We were able to select with 8th overall pick Fausto Rivera who if he can reach his projected numbers will be a very good Major League pitcher with excellent control, major league splits, great velocity, 1 great pitch along (100) w/ 3 very good pitches (71,63,60)/ 86 GB/FB. We also picked up Deion Blake – an athletic great defensive SS; Garry Barker an excellent defensive CF with super speed; Socks Goldberg who has a chance to pitch at the big league level if he can maximize his potential.

Season 9: Key Additions: D’Angelo Maradona, 31 y.o. Cuban Defensive SS; 2Yr X1.8M

Edgard Franco, 31 y.o. Mexican Relief Pitcher; 6.6M X 3Yr w/ Team Opt

Key Losses: *FA SP James Dong signed a 5.2M X 3 Yr deal w/ Texas

* FA SP Felipe Posada signed a 4.6M X 2Yr deal w/ Tacoma;

Season 9: Outlook- We know that we are still re-tooling this organization. Plan – Build this team through Amateur Draft, Trades and FA. We feel that if we can get great defense which we are counting on, and improved pitching with SP1 Malloy and crew, we could surprise and contend for a Wild Card spot (*this is a reach). Our offense should see some improvement from 25 year old Miguel Sanchez who has 650 ML AB’s under his belt now. Hopefully we can get a lead to the 7th or 8th and Jeff Ensberg and Edgard Franco will close out 95% of those games. We see Douglas, Allen, Gibbons, Scott, Tamura, Maradona and Rodriguez all having better offensive years than in Season 8. We feel that we should get some top talent with 3 draft picks in the top 60, (#5; #34; #60).

Prediction: 3rd in AL East 75-87.

Durham Bulls, milton7, West Chester Township (Cincinnati), Ohio

65-97 (down 5 wins)

The Durham Bulls are looking at a big makeover in the area of position players. The GM has two other HBD teams running on pitching and defense and has had a very hard time wrapping his mind around an offensive team in a hitter’s ballpark. As a result the Bulls have looked more like rabbits, leading the league in SB but close to last in HRs. Stud Francisco Guillen was lost to free agency, further hampering the organization’s progress towards respectability. In a radical move, the GM has brought in five rule 5 players with great power potential in an effort to take advantage of the short fences here in Durham. FA Kelvin Thomas was picked up to replace F. Guillen. He won’t come close to Guillen’s .355 batting average of last season, but he should improve on the 28 HRs. Six players on the ML roster now have power ratings of 85+ compared to the ONE player it had last season. Hopefully these bats will be able to keep us in ballgames through the first 5-6 innings when the mediocre starting rotation is throwing and let the bullpen get the majority of our wins this season. An excellent SP and some very good bullpen help is getting a little more seasoning in AAA at season’s beginning. Hopefully the ML club will need them for a playoff drive mid to late season.

Syracuse Highlanders, stmachi

55-107 (down 17 wins)

AL South

Charlotte Shoddies, giles21, Athens, GA

90-72 (up 7 wins)

The Shoddies return slightly stronger and younger in the field and at the plate, and slightly stronger at pitching. Nothing too drastic, and the fans in Charlotte are fine with that. It's a team that should make the postseason again, and rely on Willie's arm and anyone else who wants to step up to take down a title for Charlotte.

Richmond Rug Rats, thebug715, Union, NJ

82-80 (down 11 wins)

Kansas City Aristocrats, mattjmiller

81-81 (down 2 wins)

Tampa Bay Tocobaga, Ripken0713, Kansas City, MO

73-89 (up 7 wins)

It's been a hectic off-season for the Tampa Bay! The Tocobaga finished the year in last place, but it wasn't without it's bright spots. Vincete Franco and Orlando Cervantes were both nominated for Rookie of the Year, (with Franco eventually winning) and newly acquired closer Moe Corey, lead the league in Saves (39). Tampa also brought in a proven ace in Jay Bynum (going 13-9 with a 2.85 ERA) to help contribute to a team that was second in the league and 6th in the majors in pitching (4.01 team ERA).

However, hitting continued to plague the Tocobaga. They were second to last in batting with a .246 team BA and only a .312 OBP! Their owner appears to have addressed the concerns and through FA, acquired several legimate bats. Using lineup calculators, TB's lineup would have generated 4.60 runs per game last year. It's newly generated lineup shows at 5.90 runs per game! Francisco Guillen (.355/.435), Footsie Butler (.274/.342) and Scott Murphey (.333/.384) should only help a team that also will have full years from the afformentioned Vincente Franco, Mitch Smith (.285/.380) and Davey Jose (.274/.350)

Tampa also worked to enhancing it's strength by signing a vetern starter to form a nice 1-2 punch with Jay Bynum. Omar Soriano (15-11 3.57 ERA) was brought in and could be slated for his first All-Star game appearance. Also, veteran Rex "Kwon-Do" Harris (2.89 CAREER ERA) was signed to provide stability in the bullpen.

There is definately room for improvement. However, with numerous acquisitions over the last 1/2 a year and continued progression from their several young stars, Tampa fans should expect nothing short of their first playoff appearance this year. The owner has made it clear: he's hoping it's the first of many.

AL West

Colorado Stickballers, mr_stickball, Sonoma, CA

97-65 (down 15 wins)

Summary: The Stickballers have won their division in all but one of the eight seasons in Stickball World, but only won the WS Trophy once, in Season 6. They are known for having an explosive offense, and feature a lineup of very patient power hitters, but their defense has been strong in recent times and has been a major factor in their success. This offseason saw the Stickballers part ways with nobody of major importance, so this Season should bring very few surprises.

Pitchers (opening the season with a 5-man rotation this time):

SP1 – Rocky Martin 6-4 (OAV .260/ WHIP 1.35/ ERA 4.02) Former Rookie-Of-The Year, Rocky collected 83 strikeouts last season and is the Ace of the staff despite suffering an injury that set him back a bit last season.

SP2 – Bill Brown 11-7 (OAV .276/ WHIP 1.40/ ERA 4.74) Colorado’s Season 1 Supplemental Pick only won 11 games last season. At Age 29, the Stickballers are hoping he’ll continue to mature and win games for many seasons to come.

SP3 – Sean McKay 18-7 (OAV .284/ WHIP 1.49/ ERA 5.10) 25-year-old McKay struck out 142 while only walking 62 in his first full season at the ML level. A 20-win season is well within his grasp.

SP4, Tracy Grimsley 10-6 (OAV .287/ WHIP 1.45/ ERA 4.83), is an aging groundball pitcher who wins by not making a ton of mistakes.

SP5 – Pinky Merloni 6-4 (OAV .288/ WHIP 1.56/ ERA 5.67) Merloni was a new addition last offseason, and he did not perform up to the level Colorado had hoped for. This is a make-or-break season for Merloni.

Long Relievers – Anchored by young Juan Carrara 10-4 (OAV .290/ WHIP 1.50/ ERA 4.74), a young groundball pitcher who was called up toward the end of the previous season. He is blessed with wicked "stuff", but is a soft-tosser and needs to keep the ball down or he gets victimized by the long ball.

Short Relievers – Anchored by Setup Man Johnny Mays 3-3, 1 SV (OAV .277/ WHIP 1.59/ ERA 3.94), this group sees a lot of action in Colorado and is a key factor towards their success or failure.

Closer – Rafael Martinez (OAV .255/ WHIP 1.30/ ERA 3.24) was thrust into the closer role early last season and performed well enough to keep his job as this season begins. He saved 27 out of 30 games and won 4 games while only losing 1. He is a good strikeout/groudball pitcher with a decent fastball and a pretty nasty sinking curveball.


1. RF Len Russell (.273/.373/.407 AA) Base-stealing phenom, 23-year-old Left-Handed Rule-5’er will platoon in RF and see the majority of the action there this season when a righty is on the mound.

2. LF Albert Cruz (.349/.431/.387) Picked up in the offseason before last season began, journeyman Albert Cruz came back to Colorado in a big way earning an All-Star appearance. In Season 3, while with Colorado, Cruz, then only 23-years-old, hit for a .332 AVE, and, last season’s improvement on those numbers spells real trouble for opposing managers.

3. CF Scot Sexton (.374/.431/.640) Mr. Everything, in his first full season in Colorado, was really spectacular. He not only earned another All-Star appearance, but he won the All-Star MVP award. Out of necessity, he’ll play a little CF (vs. Righties) this season again … a position he’s comfortable with.

4. 1B Jose Johnson (.349/.433/.709) actually started out last season pretty slow but lit it up toward the end of the season … again … he was the leagues MVP for the third season in a row. This is becoming a standard thing, slow start, superhuman finish. As it turned out, he finished with 63 HRs and 180 RBIs. He is the League's All-Time HR leader.

5. C Jamie Cornelius (.302/.410/.473) While not the Stickballers best defensive catcher, young Cornelius’ bat gets him a lot of playing time. C Lee Benson (.286/.329/.493) is their defensive catcher (he throws 1 out of every 3 base-stealers out and calls a pretty good game), and he sees a fair amount of playing time. Cornelius will get more at-bats this season and is getting slotted ahead of DeRojas at the start of this season because ownership thinks Cornelius might be in for a huge year.

6. DH J.P. DeRojas (.339/.422/.696) Drafted in Season 1 in the second round, DeRojas was traded away at the very beginning of Season 6 only to be brought back later in the season. The team just wasn’t the same without him. He hit 57 HR’s last season and knocked in 160 RBI’s in 519 at-bats and earned an All-Star appearance. We’ll see how he does protecting Jamie Cornelius instead of Jose Johnson.

7. SS Dante Wynn (.310/.355/.473) Wynn hit 31 doubles and drove in 98 runs last season earning himself a second straight All-Star appearance. He tanked, however, in the playoffs and looks to redeem himself this season.

8. 3B Pablo Duran (.312/.425/.517) Three-time All-Star has a great eye, hits with some pop, and won a gold glove playing in RF last season. He will see some playing time there again this season, but will mostly be back at his natural position, which is 3B.

9. 2B Winston Miles (.308/.353/.494). Last season’s Rule 5 Draftee Miles, performed well enough to earn the starting nod at 2nd base (converted from CF last season) ahead of Heinie Barrett (.313, .400, .413), who struggles a bit against rightiies but kills lefties.

Bench: Colorado features primarily defensive guys on the bench, but sometimes they’ll start a defensive stalwart and keep either DeRojas or Cornelius on the bench just in case an important pinch-hit opportunity arises. Dan Baumann is exactly this kind of player, Colorado ranks him as an occasional starter vs. lefties and an excellent defensive replacement/pinch-runner any time during a game.

Oakland Asterisk's, aa12on

96-66 (up 6 wins)

Tucson Suns, billhowell75

85-77 (up 11 wins)

Honolulu Islanders, kobylesky, Cincinnati, OH

89-93 (up 11 wins)

With the addition of veterans at key positions, the development of the youngsters and the promotion of 2 promising rookies the Honolulu Islanders are looking to rebound from recent struggles, including last season’s 69-93 record, and make a playoff run.

After dealing vets for youngsters last season the Lu returns veteran 3b Tito Suzuki and added vet Aaron Pearson to play RF. Pearson signed away from division rival Oakland is anticipating another 25 HR and 80 RBI campaign. Cecil Springer, acquired last season in a mid season trade, hopes to improve on a .270 avg and 46 SBs. SB buddy Enrique Otanez looks to hit .300 and swipe another 35+ bases out of the leadoff spot. CF Del Rosa (.303-20-86) will man the 3-hole. Season 7 #1 pick (10th overall) Joe Coppoleccchia will make the jump from AA to don the tools of ignorance. A Rookie of the Year chase is possible.

The rotation will be anchored by veterans Virgil Ortiz and Victor Karros. Homer Karnuth , season 6 #1 for the Lu, will be eased this season as the #4 starter. The bullpen is anchored by closer Enrique Jacquez, who had a strong campaign in his first as closer.

The outlook for the Lu is at least .500 with the playoffs on the mind. A return to prominence at the top of the division is this teams focus heading into season 9.


NL North

Tacoma Raniers, tkd2k1, Los Angeles, CA

80-82 (up 5 wins)

“Small Ball” won it all last year for this under .500 team. The Rainiers barely won the division on a tiebreaker, and squeaked into the playoffs as the division winner in the NL North with an 80-82 record. Once they reached the playoffs, something incredible happened as they went on to loose only 4 games on their way to the World Championship.

Most of that Championship team is still around, lead by Cy Young winner Tony Almonte, SP-Benji Tucker, and SP-Eugene Adams. Tony leads a veteran filled rotation of good but not great pitchers. There are some concerns about injuries severely hampering this aging team, so the manager has to be careful about working his staff too hard.

On the other side of the ball, some veterans were let go as cap casualties, but they were replaced by lower priced, improved versions of themselves. SS-Chico Alfonzo, 2B-Erubial Fernandez, and newly promoted SS-Jeremy Christopher should strengthen the middle of this defense, and Free Agent outfielders LF-Todd Pickford, and CF-Albert Espinosa were late additions that add some speed and veteran leadership to an already mature team.

“If it’s not broke don’t fix it” they say, and tyd2k1 seems to be sticking to that philosophy when it comes to his team. Will it be enough to hold off the hounds of the NL North? Only time will tell.

Chicago Black Sox, tombrady12

80-82 (down 1 win)

Cincinnati RedSpeedos, r7gordon, Indianapolis, IN

79-83 (up 2 wins)

The Cincinnati RedSpeedos are hoping to FINALLY turn the corner and make the playoffs this year. Just a matter of 1 game which kept them out last year. Pitching staff lead by Thomas Jimenez and Emil Flores and an Offense which needs to find a new leader after not re-signing All time Home Run hitter Denny Miller. The NL North, probably from top to bottom the best Conference..lead by defending Series Champs Tacoma looks to be just as tough this year.

Detroit Dominators, armymp, Sierra Vista, AZ

79-83 (identical record)

Detroit struggled last season with consistency and lack of overall effort but this year is looking better as they start their second season at their new Ballpark. Some rule 5 draftees are excited to contribute to this year’s campaign and are a welcome addition to the club. Ironically the team finished with an identical record from the previous season, an indication that at least we’re not getting any worse. Detroit continues to rebuild by dropping some salaried players that just weren’t producing as expected which should allow for some acquisitions to be made to try and help. Detroit is a solid ball club with a solid corps of players but for some reason hasn’t played up to their potential. Hopefully that can be corrected this season and Detroit is looking forward to a much improved season.

NL East

Pawtucket Powderfingers, vdaino

105-57 (identical record)

Augusta A-Team, nesman; formerly the Atlanta Dropouts, b2goofy

90-73 (up 21 wins)

Florida Alienists, strang, Battle Creek, MI

80-82 (down 20 wins)

Philadelphia Phunky Phillies, beamer88 *

52-110 (down 4 wins)

Philadelphia's Phunky Phillies, long the NL door mat, have been infused with several young players in this our 9th season. Baldwin, Hollins, and Karl add speed and defense to our line up as well as decent sticks.

Our starting pitching has been revamped and we look to reach the .500 mark this season. Owner beamer88 was overheard stating "this team is way better than the Mets." Looking forward we see a bright prospect for this franchise!

NL South

Charleston Sumter Men, bwb53

90-72 (down 5 wins)

Texas Tornados, bingles

77-85 (up 7 wins)

Witchita Wendigo, ormank, Omaha, NE

74-88 (down 5 wins)

St. Louis Sourpusses, dryb, Springfield, IL

66-96 (up 12 wins)

NL West

Los Angeles Galaxy, mike1184, Lloydminster, SK, Canada

101-61 (up 10 wins)

Albuquerque Isotopes, picc818, Old Bridge, NJ

82-80 (down 16 wins)

Fresno Fugitives, jd2764

80-82 (down 4 wins)

Salem Acid (formerly the Arizona 420, the_potsuns), elixerr, Lowell, MA

75-87 (down 8 wins)