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)

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