Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Division Preview Continued - Season 33

                                                                         AL South

                The AL South is the most competitive division in the junior league for season 33, with all four owners returning to King Felix, three of whom made the playoffs last season.
                Safety’s streak of 7 straight division titles looks to be in jeopardy, but not if the Minute Men have anything to say about it. The Corky Jackson/Al Gardner trade with Scranton may have been the biggest move of the offseason. As mentioned in the AL North preview, only time will tell who won the trade, but as Jackson is a righty and nearly two years younger than southpaw Gardner, I think Monterrey will be just find. Safety also pulled off a trade for stud lefty Louie Li from Pawtucket, which should improve the fourth best ERA in the AL last season. Monterrey also splurged in free agency, bringing in another starter in Kevin Sobolewski and John Kirby, Cesar Mesa, and Jamie Graves to bolster the bullpen.
                The best shot at taking the AL South crown from Safety would be the Santa Fe Brooks. Ever since Nelson joined King Felix, his young team has been on the rise clinching wild card births the last two seasons. The Brooks roster is staying just about the same this season, with the only one notable addition, closer Derek Fraser. In the meantime Santa Fe’s young lineup of second baseman Samuel Merrick (24 years old/94 overall), third baseman Al Espinosa (26/91) and left fielder Terry French (24/82) will continue to smack the cover off the ball. Add in a rotation including Edgardo Cruz, and 23-year-old Sammy Castillo, and Santa Fe could be in position for their first division title.
                King Felix’s only team that has been in the league for 33 seasons snuck back into the playoffs last year after a 14 year drought. The Wichita Rocks 91 win season was led by young rotation of Brent Davis, Harold Snodgrass and Aurileo Romero, all of whom should only get better this season. Barjaz kept all of his moves in house this season, bringing back nine players through arbitration, while locking up centerfielder Ted Britton and third baseman Paul Hiljus to long term deals. Wichita has a long road ahead of them if they want to make their second straight playoff appearance, but behind a rotation that finished with the third lowest ERA in the American League, the Rocks are clearly a contender again.

                The Durham Bulls finished in fourth in the AL South last season. Any other division would consider that a disappointment, but a 79-83 record in the toughest division in baseball is no small feat. However after spending lots of money the last two offseason’s on free agents, tony23 kept his team quiet this offseason. There is only one new face on the roster, second baseman Andy Latham, who is back in the majors after a year of AAA. The Bulls also made sure to keep their younger players in house, shelling out long term contracts for shortstop Frank Selman, left fielder Roscoe Pence, and relief pitcher Andrea Sheffield. However the roster could be changing this season, after Durham added 10 players to the trading block. They will be a team to keep an eye on come trade deadline time.

                                                                              AL West

                Our last preview, the AL West, features a clear front runner and three dark horses. A year after finishing with an American League best 108 wins and World Series title, 40’s San Diego squad remains in prime condition to repeat. Edward Jeffries was brought in from Trenton to replace Zachary Anderson at Centerfield, and Jason Matthews can eat some of the innings vacated by Kevin Sobolewski who left for league rival Minute Men. All Star and Cy Young candidate Anthony Aven bolsters a stingy bullpen in a stingier park, while “Sir” Gallahad Vogelsong and Horatio DeLeon hope lead another power surge on offense. Short of any injuries (knock on wood, sorry for the jinx 40) San Diego should easily makes their way back into the playoffs.
                The other three teams in the division have a bit of a gap to close, as evident by their respective top 10 picks in the amateur draft. By far the most aggressive moves came from the expansion Fresno Falcons. New owner vdfizio made a huge splash by trading for first baseman Wellington Rijo and third baseman Walt Cook from Texas for starting pitchers Miguel Bennett and Chris King. Fresno’s lineup will definitely be improved next year alongside Steve Snow, Andy Lincoln and Ross Rodgers but after Victor Diaz and Heinie Tobin as a first and second starting pitcher, the staff begins to look shaky. However Fresno certainly has the hitting to take second place a push for a wildcard bid.
                The Arizona Wild Kitty’s were forced to make some tough decisions this offseason. Daniel “X-File” Mulder, who hit and MVP worthy .323/.393/.633 slash line along 46 homers and 143 RBI was brought back on arbitration for nearly 9 million. However this meant having to let starter Robb Lockwood leave for Philadelphia. Tony Vizcaino was brought in from Seattle to take his spot in the rotation, and with Paul Evans finally able to spend a full season in Arizona and Skeeter Tanner back from injury, they may be able to pick up the slack. However someone on offense will need step up besides Mulder in order for the Wild Kitty’s to improve upon last year’s record.

                Honolulu had the quietest off-season of all, with only one new face on the roster, right handed pitcher Rey Camili, who can start or eat up innings out up the bullpen. Otherwise freesteagle will continue to watch his young lineup led by third baseman Orval Moss (26 years old), left fielder Javier Sanchez (26) and second baseman William Berger (23) gain experience. Berger is an especially popular choice to finish as Rookie of the Year. The staff on the other hand isn’t very exciting. Enrique Concepcion and Albert Polonia are ok at the top, but after that the Swingin’ Jackwagons are in serious need for an upgrade to their pitching.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Division Previews: Season 33

NL South

Season 33 in King Felix should be an absolute dogfight in the NL South. Any of the four teams could find the right buttons to push and find themselves sitting atop the division at seasons end. With so much competition in division, getting a 2nd team into a wild card sport may be too difficult, and a very deserving team may be left sitting at home.

Tampa Bay,led by cebola, last years division winner went into the off-season with limited payroll flexibility and focused on smaller FA moves to improve his club. Most notable from this group of smaller tier FA’s is Art Krause who has enjoyed a fine career. Cebola also brings aboard Rodney Peterson, a 22 game loser last season. Obviously, Peterson is not that bad and should help shore up the pitching staff. Kevin Lowery resigned with Tampa and will lead them offensively. If cebola is looking to give Lowery some help, at some point in the season, stud C prospect Brandon Cunningham could see a call up to the big club.

Richmond fell short last year by a game in the standings. I don’t believe it was due to a lack of hitting or pitching, but rather a shaky defense. Richmond boasts an impressive lineup, bolstered this year by Tony ‘tiger’ Rodriguez’, their only FA signing of the offseason. The pitching staff is lead by Harry ‘balls’ Arias, and Perry Gonzalez. Can the offense score enough to offset a few unearned runs here and there? If so, bwb53 will find himself king of this leagues most competitive division

The Texas Wildcats are helmed by a man unafraid to spend money. Carseneau boasts a squad featuring 3 players making over 17.8 million and one of the higher payrolls in King Felix. This strategy has helped the wildcats to some impressive seasons lately, but has not translated into any playoff success, much like mtg and the peacemakers. As the roster ages, cars must be asking how long the window will stay open for the ever elusive WS title. The Talent is there, the wildcats just need to get hot at the right time. Leading the charge for this years team is Yorvit Rodriguez. Rodriguez started his career in Texas, and after a few years away from the lone star state, is back with a big contract and even bigger expectations.

The final team in this four way race, the Iowa City Johnsons are led by King Felix vet ahsowhat. The Johnsons finished last season with a record of 86-76. Hardly the record of a 4th place team, however that is where they finished. Ahsowhat must have felt pitching let him down last year as every FA signing he had was a pitcher. The biggest signing however was the re-signing of Clarence ‘Scrooge McDuck’ Coleman, who was given his second max contract. Offensively, Sherman Curtis and his 128 runs scored will be the focal point. You will be hard pressed to find a better lead off batter then Curtis in this world. Youngster Diego Alvarez will also be expected to contribute at the plate.


The NL West looks to be a one horse race as King Felix enters season 33. The Helena Peacemakers are the clear cut favorites to win the division and make another run in the post-season. Mtg has been a frequent visitor to playoff baseball, but is possibly the unluckiest owner in King Felix when it comes time for October baseball. Mtg will once again rely on Gerald Hull ‘ie shit, he’s good’  and Hersh ‘chocolate’ Glyunn offensively, both who are MVP candidates any given year. What makes this team elite though is that Helena may boast the best pitching staff in the NL. Darryl Bigbie leads a staff that should boast a number of 15-18 game winners.

The rest of the division looks to be very competive with each other for the second place slot. The
Tacoma Tornadoes, led by 1st yr King Felix owner alogman1, will boast a lineup featuring 2 superstars in Benny ‘the jet’ Molina and Luis Peron. The rest of the roster is still being shaped at the time of this preview.

The 2nd newcomer to the division is tigersin7. Tigers has located his franchise in pitcher friendly Seattle, just a 30 min drive from division rival Tacoma. Looking to make a splash, tigersin7 landed FA pitcher Sidney Little ‘johnson’, a pitcher who has been extremely under utilized for the 1st part of his career. I’m sure there are more then a few who are curious to see how he will be used going forward.

Last but not least is longtime King Felix owner bigparb13. His Shock have been in rebuild mode the last 3 seasons after a highly successful run for the last dozen years or so. His draft picks and international signings have landed him a bevy of young offensive talent. Wellington Diaz made his debut last year as a 19 yr old rookie and was far from over-matched. To go along with Diaz, the Shock lineup will soon have the option to add talented minor league youngsters ‘wha’ Seop Jiang, ‘the rifleman’ Jerry Winchester, Chris Edwards, and Jackson Dicky. All who look to be either stars or solid ML ball players. If the shock could find some young pitching, we could be looking at another dozen solid years for the franchise.

                Three teams return to the AL North minus the reigning division champs, leaving the division for the taking. The Minnesota Elites are gone, but Gregor199 and the Scranton Rail Riders will look to pick up where his old roster left off. Gregor’s main focus seemed to be improving the second stingiest pitching staff in the AL, responsible for winning 101 games. Gone is 19 game winning right handed pitcher Corky Jackson, who was swapped to Monterrey straight up for equally impressive lefty Al Gardner. Only time will tell which team got the better end of the blockbuster. Cy Cone and Andres Zapata were also brought in to shore up the bullpen. Not much changed on offense for Scranton, and could be familiar to fans for a long time after Julio Molina, Ralph Spiers and Mike Durrington were signed to long term extensions this off-season.
                Though the finished in last in the division in season 32, Kansas City made aggressive off-season moves to push them back into the playoff chase. Mmaldanado made Pedro Ontiervos a rich man, shelling out 17 mil for the lefty swinging right fielder who hit .301/.398/.512 en route to his first All-Star appearance. Chuck Sanders was also brought in to get on base and play amazing defense at either centerfield or shortstop. While the hitting should be improved, a pitching staff coming off a 5.20 ERA is the real reason for concern. Jerry McClain, taken 3rd in the rule 5 draft from Seattle should help the rotation, but the Blues may need to add another arm to the rotation to get back to the playoffs.
                Dengodd’s time in Toledo seems to have been an experiment gone wrong, as the Mud Hens have already retreated back to their longtime home of Hartford. However that was really the only major move for the Whalers. Youth seems to be the theme in camp this spring after nine players were brought back on Arbitration, 6 of whom are 28 or younger. The team will likely be getting even younger in the coming months. While they currently aren’t on the roster, 25 year old Bernie Villarreal and 22 year old Robert Browning may find themselves on the 25 man roster later this season. Villarreal, a contact hitter from both sides of the plate and Browning, who hit 50 home runs in AA last season, could make a formidable corner outfield duo for the coming years.
                Vancouver stayed quiet this offseason, with a core lineup of Alvin Hundly, Junior Chong and Johnny McNally, all 24 or younger, continuing to get more at bats and more expierence. The only change to tdfactory’s lineup were the additions at catcher. Randy Kelleher allowed opposing batters a 3.82 ERA in his first full season as a starter behind the plate in old Sacramento. He will compete for at bats with rookie Bing Cousins who gets his first shot at the majors after growing up in the Shock’s minors. New long relief pitcher Calvin Curtis can take some much needed bullpen innings.

                For the past decade, the AL East has known only one true champion, the Trenton Thunder. 50’s team has won the East pennant 10 of the last 11 seasons, qualifying for the playoffs as a wildcard in their only non 1st place finish. Division titles aren’t enough though, as 50 will be looking to add another title to his season 25 and 26 trophies. Trenton will have to improve on a pitching staff that had a 4.87 ERA last season. J.P. Brogna was brought in from Iowa City as a back end rotation/long relief pitcher and Terrence Riggs gives the Thunder a strong throwing righty killer. The only other new faces in town came through the Rule 5 Draft. Vin Pattenson, Rod Stone and Bob Hunter could all see at bats this season in Trenton, with the power hitting first baseman Pattenson really expected to shine.
                Trenton’s biggest challenger this season may be the new Rochester Garbage Plates, taking Philadelphia’s old franchise. Fregoe’s team finished with 86 and 85 wins the last two seasons, but it hasn’t been enough for a wildcard spot. However Rochester’s offseason was relatively quiet. Four players were resigned to extensions, including second baseman Sammy Medrano. The only brand new face so far in camp is former first round pick Slade Rehfield, who after being called up from High A will add another young arm to the bullpen. Yet with a roster consisting of 11 players 29 or younger, this youthful team will only get better with expierence.
                The Cleveland Clumsy Pelicans had a quiet offseason in the second year in King Felix, after they traded away five players last season in exchange for youth. The youth movement continued this offseason by way of the Rule 5 Draft. Pete Sullivan, a 26-year-old shortstop, a Brooks Volstad, a 23-year-old starting pitcher were great additions if Cleveland continues their rebuild. Four other younger players were brought back in arbitration, including shortstop Vic Monterto and pitcher Anibal Espada, both of whom will be looking to play their way into large long-term details next season.

                Norfolk will be looking to rebuild after suffering 115 losses last season. Their top off-season addition hasn’t even joined the team yet, as the Turkey’s own the number one pick in the amateur draft. Former top draft picks and future projected rotation pitchers Tom Siddal and Sadie Friend are just 20 and 19 respectively. Whenever they get to the majors, they will likely have Tony Valdes to frame pitches behind the plate after he was taken first overall in the Rule 5 draft out of Arizona. However until loosec’s young guns are able to develop, Norfolk will be a longshot to take the division title.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

S25 World Series Recap by cebola

The silver anniversary World Series of World ARod was a fantastic matchup, featuring a playoff tested team in Trenton, who has gone to the post season 7 of the last 10 seasons and who has been a legit contender for some time.  The Thunder would be making their third World Series appearance, looking for their first title.  Philly’s appearance in the post season was their first in 9 seasons.  Until the Colonials knocked off Texas in the DCS, the franchise had never won a post season series.  They had the finest season in their 25 seasons in the league, winning 100 games for the first time ever.  In game one, the battle tested playoff vets came out of the gate strong as the Thunder post 5 runs in the second off Clarence “Nat King” Coleman.  Victor Morales drove in 2 with a triple.  Philly could have been suffering from first-time jitters, or more likely, suffering under the spell of ace Karl Hurst.  Hursty surrendered a lone hit over shutout innings six innings against the red-hot Philly line-up to strike first.  In game 2, it was Philly’s turn to strike first, as any speculative disadvantage of inexperience was put to rest when veteran Santos Torres went deep with a three run blast off Pat “Puffy” Combs.  Gary “The King” Pressley pitched tough all day, helping his squad even the series at a game apiece with the 8-1 win.  Pressley goes 6 innings, giving up no runs on two hits, striking out 7, while notching his 4th win of the post season.  In game 3, Trenton roughs up veteran starter Rob Cormier for 7 runs in three-and-a-third innings.  Nick Jacquez had a pair of 2-run bombs in the process.  Placido Balentien pitches his third consecutive playoff start in which he allowed 2 runs or fewer in earning the 10-1 win that tilts the series in Trenton’s direction.  With the prospect of facing Karl Hurst again in game 4 and going down 3-1, the Colonials play “check mate” once again and get on the board early.  Torres gets an RBI single in the 1st and Donn Jones delivers a bases clearing triple in the second to stake Philly to a four-nil lead. The game would get to 5-o before Clarence Coleman, who didn’t have his best stuff, gave up a pair of two run homers (Ariel Rosa & Jon Hamelin) to cut the lead to 5-4.  Ricky Mullin came out of the Trenton pen to pick up Hurst nicely, going 2-and-two-thirds of no-hit shutout relief, to give his team a chance to come back.  And come back they did, courtesy of a huge 2-out RBI double from Nick Jacquez off of closer Cesar Mesa (35 saves.)  Mesa was able to end out of the inning without further damage, which helped set up the dramatic finish.  Trenton’s closer Charles Chen (36 saves) comes into the tie game and retires the first two men of the inning.  Gio Cabeza bounces once over the mound that goes into center for a single that many felt Chen should have been able to stab for the third out.  That enables Joba “The Hutt” Zeigler to be the hero, as he blasts the walk off homer that evens the see-saw series at 2 each.   Game 5 is a rematch of game 2’s starters, Pressley and Combs.  “Puffy” would not suffer the same fate this time around as he out duels (and out hits) “The King” in one of the great pitcher’s duel of all time.  With so much at stake, both aces bring their A games.  Each hurler goes 8 innings, Pressley giving up just a solo shot to Victor Morales in the second, and a two-out RBI single to his counterpart Combs, on a pitch I’m sure he would like to have back.  Combs pitched even better, surrendering just a single hit through his eight scoreless frames.  Closer Chen walks the tightrope in the ninth, putting the tying run on second with only one out, but escapes the jam and redeems himself by securing the 2-1 W.  If the Colonials were to stave off elimination, they would have to count on being able to get to Balentien, who befuddled them in game 3, and count on Rob Cormier redeeming himself for his poor outing in the same game.  They do get to Balentien, scoring in four of the first 6 innings in building a 6-2 lead.  Santos Torres get another big “score-first” RBI and Geoffrey “Opie” Cunningham hits a solo homer and delivers and RBI double.  Cormier again is not sharp, as he surrenders 10 base runners over 5 innings, but proves his worth as a wily vet by pitching out of multiple jams.  He leaves 10 Thunder on base over his 5 frames, including leaving them loaded twice.  Nick Jacquez and Ober Furcal each hit solo homeruns in the ninth, but they’re not enough as Philly forces a game 7 with the 7-4 victory.  For the Thunder in game 7, maybe it was the prospect of being labeled ARod’s version of the Buffalo Bills in getting to the Series thrice without winning it, or maybe it was that their hearts grew three sizes that day.  But whatever it was, it worked, as they storm out in front with 6 runs in the third off Coleman, who didn’t quite seem up for the task of pitching on three-day’s rest.  Jacquez blasts a 2-run shot (his 8th of the playoffs), Furcal adds a solo shot, and Ariel Rosa delivers a 2-run triple in the big inning.  Karl Hurst handled the task of throwing on three-days rest just fine, thank you very much, as he throws 6 no-hit innings in the series clinching 8-1 win.

Congratulations to Philadelphia for an amazing, entertaining ride of a season.  Their building blocks in Cunningham, Jones, and Pressley have not even reached arbitration yet.  There will be many more terrific seasons to come!  Great job turning that lowly franchise into a legit championship contender.  There were lots of shrewd moves over the past several seasons that helped to create this beast of a team.  Best of luck in your title run next season!

Congratulations to Trenton for finally securing the title they deserve.  The team was built with balance in mind, as they play all aspects of the game the right way.  The team led the league in OBP, which is critical to support the sluggers Nick Jacquez and John Suzuki.  Thusly, the offense scored the 2nd most runs in the AL.  They finished third in pitching (ERA and runs against) with that three-headed beast at the top of the rotation.  They were first in team fielding percentage, were 5th in “plus” plays and 3rd in fewest “minus” plays, which only strengthens the “beast.”  The team was built heavily through the international market (see Suzuki, John), but many other shrewd moves contributed to the team’s legacy.  Karl Hurst was inherited, but Combs came in via free agency and Balentien through a trade.  Jacquez was drafted, as was Jon Hemelin (at 20th overall, if you believe it!)  This is a classic lesson in building a winner.  Congrats again 50, fantastic job!

AL and NLCS Recaps by cebola

Each team playing for the AL Championship entered the series by vastly different means.  Trenton cruised by Oakland via a sweep and had a well-rested rotation at its disposal, while Augusta battled hard in their five games against San Diego, burning both Pedro “High” Sierra and Cy Young winner Flip “Lennon &” McCartney in the clincher.  But after throwing 55 pitches two days prior, McCartney takes the ball for his team in game one and once again shines.  He pitches a complete game in the 3-1 win, outdueling Karl Hurst, who was uncharacteristically wild.  He doesn’t give up a hit, but walks five in taking the loss.  In game two, Trenton bounces back behind Pat “Puffy” Combs in the 3-0 shutout that saw former triple-crown winner Nick Jacquez go deep.  With the series moving to Augusta, Trenton is three outs away from taking the series lead, as Placido Balentien pitches 7 brilliant innings and hands over a 5-2 lead to closer Charles Chen.  But the ‘Bears turn the tables and walk-off with four in the ninth to take the pivotal game 3.  Danys Dotel, Tony Juarez and Marvin Crabtree all have huge RBI hits the inning, with Crabtree’s being the walk-off.  What’s the remedy for suffering a deflating loss that puts you behind in the series?  How about three straight spectacular pitching performances by Trenton’s trifecta of aces.  Hurst does the honors in game 4, going 6 in surrendering just a single run the 5-1 win (Jacquez goes deep again.)  Combs outduels McCartney in a classic pitchers’ duel in game five’s 2-1 Trenton victory.  “Puffy” gives up only 2 hits and no runs, striking out 7.  And then Balentien puts the nail in the coffin with eight innings of shutout ball in the game 6 clincher, which Trenton  takes going away, 12-2.  The aces combine to give up just a single run in the final three games, deservedly taking the series from the top slugging Polar Bears.

Congratulations to Augusta on a great season.  If anyone was going to take down Trenton, it appeared that this squad was primed to do so.  They slugged 300 homers over the course of the year, and got a Cy Young season from McCartney, who could have effortlessly pitched in a game 7 if needed.  Augusta may be losing Flip to free-agency, but this team is loaded on both sides of the ball, and will easily be in contention again next year.  Great job commish!

The NL Series pitted the streaking Philadelphia Colonials, who were winners of 6 out their last seven en route to knocking off the red-hot Texas Wildcats and #2 seed Tampa Bay Don Ceasars, against the #1 seed Colorado Shock.  The Shock were coming off their dramatic five game series against Chicago.  Game 1 was an up-and-down affair that featured four lead changes before all was said and done.  Colorado’s 3-1 lead, which came courtesy of a Marc Clarke 2-run shot, was overcome by a Philly 3 run fifth, which featured solo homeruns by Max Kelly and Dennis Hammel, and a go-head RBI single by Santos Torres.  But the Shock worked their come-from-behind magic yet again, as they get a Hector Pena 2-run shot in the sixth to take the 5-4 lead that would hold up, courtesy of the Shock star-studded pen.  Ken Priest, Lorenzo Alomar and Lyle Erickson combined for 4 and a third shutout innings.  In game 2, Philly’s middle-of –order studs took nicely to the thin air of Coors Field, as Hammel, Max Kelly and Geoffrey “Opie” Cunningham combined to drive in 9 runs in the 10-3 thrashing, behind a great effort from Carl “The King” Pressley (7 innings, 8 K’s).  Colonial game 3 starter Rob Cormier continued the momentum and pitched 6 effective innings, and the offense built a 6-0 lead through 5.  Donn Jones drove in three of the runs, 2 coming on a 1st inning homer off Cy Young candidate Rafael Beltre.  ‘Rado would work their magic again and cut deficit 6-4 by the 8th on Clark’s 2-run shot and RBI single, but it wouldn’t be enough as Philly tacks on 2 insurance runs and holds on to take the pivotal game by a 8-4 score.  In the next two games, the Shock would be held to 1 and 2 runs respectively, as Philly’s co-aces Clarence Coleman and Pressley dominate the line-up stacked with sluggers.  Philly’s overlooked bullpen threw 5 scoreless innings in the two wins as well, and Philly takes the series with victories of 6-1 and 6-2.  Hammel was the game 4 hero with a homer and 3 driven in, and Cunningham did the honors in the clincher, with a homer and 3 driven in.

Congratulations to Colorado for another great season.  The pitching staff gave up the third fewest runs in the league; no small feat playing half their games in thin air!  They are still loaded top to bottom on both sides of the ball, and we expect them to compete for a title once again next season.  Nice job!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

S25 AL & NL Blog Awards


MVP:  Cleatus Alexander

Cy Young:  Flip "Lennon and" McCartney

ROY:  Corky Jackson

Coach of the Year:  40_dog


MVP - Marc Clarke

Cy Young - Rafael Beltre & Reese Hemphill (tie)

ROY -  Louie Li

Coach of the Year -  brutus_08

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Division Championship Recaps by cebola

Oakland’s reward for getting to the second round was facing the 106 win American League champ Trenton Thunder.  Trenton used the “score early and make it hold up” formula in all three games of the sweep.  The big stick of Jonathon “Green Eggs &” Hamelin and the newly reformed “three-headed beast” at the top of the rotation was a perfect match for this type strategy.  The Thunder got a 2-run “big fly” by 2B Hamelin in the first of game one, and 3-time Cy Young Award winner Karl Hurst pitched five strong in the 5-1 win.  In game two the early scoring came courtesy of RBI singles from Ober Furcal and Javier Rivera in the first, and on another 2-run bomb from Hamelin in the second.  The less fortunate single former Cy Young Award winner Pat “Puffy” Combs gets the 4-3 win by hurling seven brilliant innings, the only blemish coming on a Tony “The Crooner” Bennett 3-run homer in the 6th.  Old “Hamlisch” Hamelin was at it again in game 3, belting a three-run blast in the first, in support of the third member of the beast, Placido Balentien.  The 22-game winner may in fact have an outside chance at this season’s Cy Young award.  Balentien tossed six innings, giving up only 1 earned to cap of the sweep with the 5-3 win.

Great job by new ownership of the Pistol Pimps.  They were able to keep the team in position to make another run at the title, while freeing up some cap space to stay competitive long term.  They locked up stud catcher/DH Clay Stanley long term and SP Johnny Robinson for a few more seasons.  They made a great value off-season signing in on-base-machine Pablo Marquez.  When they needed a bat mid-season, they pulled the trigger on the John Ueno deal.  Congratulations on a very fine season!

The Philadephia Colonials came off their dramatic five games series victory to face the well-rested reigning champs, Tampa Bay in round 2.  Tampa drew first blood behind stellar pitching by former Cy Young award winner Rich “Say it Ain’t” Sobolewski, stud set-up man Kenta Itou, and 2-time Fireman of the year Alfonso Villefuerte with the 3-1 victory in game 1.  In game 2, The Dons got a grand slam from Justin “Jeepers Creepers” Long, and the pitching formula was working to a tee again behind Phillip Bryant and Itou.  Bryant’s only blemish was a costly three-run jack surrendered to MVP candidate Geoffrey “Opie” Cunningham.  Still, Villafuerte was handed a 1-run lead in the 9th, and was 1 out away from securing a two-games-to-none lead for his Dons.  Pinch hitter Craig Wilkens came off that deep Philly bench to launch a game-tying homerun to vault the game into extras.  Tampa had a great opportunity to walk-off in the 11th, but their All-Stars Derrick Grissom and Hi Shouse each stranded a runner on third.  Philly had a bases jammed, 1-out chance in the 13th that they squandered, but they would come through in the 14th on a couple of big two-out hits by Santos Torres and last season’s Silver Slugging 1B Vicente Bennett.  The 7-5 Philly win evens the series at a game apiece.  Game 3 was all Philly, all day in front of their fired up home crowd.  Former Don Rob Cormier stymies his former teammates by pitching seven solid innings of 1 run ball.  Cormier was supported by a couple of three-runs jacks, one by lead-off man Donn Jones and another by catcher Joba “The Hutt” Zeigler.  Justin Long cracks his second grand slam of the series (both in losses) during garbage time in the ninth, but it was too late, as Philly takes the series lead with the 9-6 win.  Tampa liked their chances in game 4, as their designated big game hurler Rich Sobolewski squared off against rookie Louie Li, who got knocked around in his first taste of playoff baseball in the Texas series.  Li did pitch two scoreless innings in game 2’s 14 inning affair, which seemed to build his confidence, as he outduels the two-time World Series champ.  He goes 6 and 2/3 to earn the 4-3 win that sends his team to the League Championship round.  Philly’s big guns at the top/middle of the order did all the damage as Cunningham, Bennett and Hammel all go deep.  Hammel’s 2-run bomb was the one that broke the 2-2 tie in the 6th.  Tampa’s clean-up hitter Derrick Grissom came up with runners on base in several key situations but failed to deliver the big hit, thusly sending the reigning champs home for the winter.

Augusta met up with the 105 win San Diego “Great” Beards of Zeus for a round two match up.  The ‘Bears sent Pedro “High” Sierra to the hill on three day’s rest in game 1 to face the well-rested ace of San Diego’s staff, Kevin Sobolewski, who is up for this year’s Cy Young Award.  Sierra was sharp (6 innings, 1 run, 0 walks, 9 K’s), while Sobolewski was a little rusty, yet effective (6 innings, 2 runs on 8 hits).  Power hitting lead-off man Tony Rodriguez widened the 1-run lead with a solo shot in the 9th, and Augusta took game one 3-1.  In game 2, San Diego’s 1-2 hitters Pedro Galvez and Burt McCartin wreaked havoc all day.  Galvez stole 3 bases, and scored four runs; McCartin scored four, drove in four, hit a homer and stole a base.  Former Cy Young Award winner Bryan Christiansen pitched well (6 innings, 2 runs) to earn the series-evening 10-5 win.  Augusta was able to send ace Flip “Lennon &” McCartney to the bump for game three, after resting up from his game 5 complete game gem over Cincinnati in the previous round.  McCartney was just as brilliant, as he tosses a second consecutive shutout, striking out 9 in the effort.  He got support in the usual Augusta fashion, the long ball; solo shots by Tony Rodriguez (his 6th of the playoffs), Cleatus Alexander, and Clarence Jenkins to account for all the runs in the 3-0 win.  Sobolewski took the mound for SD in game 4 to try to extend the season for the Beards.  He goes 7 innings, surrendering 3 runs in the 7-3 win that would even the series and force a deciding 5th game.  Carlos Mariena hit a three-run homer to turn a tight 3-2 lead into the more comfortable 6-2 lead that Sobolewski would have no problem protecting.  Entering game 5, speculation was that Pedro “High” Sierra would get the ball for Augusta.  But there were whispers that as dominant as McCartney has been, that he may in fact get the call, even if it meant going on 2 day’s rest.  The Beards had the advantage of earning the bye to set up Bryan Christiansen on full rest for a game 5.  Christiansen wasn’t sharp at all, as he gives up 4 runs in the first, three of them on a homer by Victor Lawson.  Sierra does get the start and leaves the game with a 6-0 lead after 5.  Reminiscent of the Diamondbacks’ epic “Destiny in the Desert” World Series win in 2001 when Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson both pitched in the game 7 win over the Yankees, McCartney comes in to pitch the final 4 innings to squash any hope of a San Diego comeback.  Augusta wins 11-0 to take the series and move on to the championship round.

Congratulations to San Diego for an amazing season.  105 wins!  They have a good mix of youngsters, vets, and players just entering their primes.  Christiansen and Sobolewski are locked up long term and Galvez is just beginning to burn rubber on the bases.  Records will fall!  They have decent sluggers in the middle of the order, with the likes of Mairena, Yamakazi and DeLeon.  You know they will be back to compete for it all next season.  Great job!

Sub .500 Chicago moves on to face top team on the board, the 107 win Colorado Shock for the right to advance to the League Championship.  In game 1, Alex Estallela and Rafael Beltre both pitch well and we have a 3-2 Shock lead through 8.  Chicago’s Ronald Martin ties it up in the 9th with a solo shot (his 2nd of the game) off closer Lorenzo Alomar.  The Blagos proceed to unload on former Cy Young winner Travis Jones for 4 more runs, on homers by Magglio Bocachica (3 run shot) and David Sisk, and Chicago takes game one 7-3.  In game 2, Chicago builds a 7-3 lead through 7 and ½ on solid pitching by JP Brogna and four homeruns (2 by Lew Allen and a three run blast by Bocachica.)    With Colorado just six outs away from the grim possibility of going down 0-2, the explode for 7 runs off set-up men Rashun Rooney and Willie Wells, who help the Colorado cause by walking 3 in the crooked inning.  Giving this line-up free bases in the thin air is a recipe for disaster.  The dramatic hit was the 2-out grand slam by Diory Silva (his 3rd homer of the game), that turned the 7-6 Chicago lead into the 10-7 Colorado victory.  The Shock get three no-hit innings from Lyle Erickson and Alomar.  Colorado carries the momentum of their dramatic win into the Windy City, where they explode for 13 runs on 15 hits in the shutout victory.  The deep line-up gets five homeruns from five different players, with Silva going large again.  Gio “The Hybrid” Hernandez pitches like the ace that he is, going 7 innings, giving up only 4 hits, striking out 8 and walking none.  In the win-or-go-home game 4 for Chicago, the Blagos strike early, building a 5-2 lead through 5.  Steve Scott hits a 2-run homer and Bocachica and Sisk have back-to-back 2-out RBI hits in support of big money arm Alex Estallela.  Rashun Rooney redeems himself by pitching two hitless innings, and Chicago ties the series and forces a game 5 with the 5-3 win.  Game 5 was everything you would want in a series deciding game.  Colorado chipped away at Chicago’s JP Brogna and built a 4-1 lead through 5.  Felipe Mercado and MVP probable Marc Clarke went back to back in the 4th as part of the effort.  Dante Zoltan got the start and held the Blagos to the single run through 4.  With the game plan to empty the nasty bullpen out on Chicago, Kenny Priest enters in the 5th and proceeds to surrender the lead by giving up a three-run blast to Chan Ho Martin.  David Sisk actually gives the Blagos their first lead of the game with a 2-run triple later in the inning off Lyle Erickson, but Gio Hernandez comes on in relief to strand Sisk by getting the final out.  The Blagos tack on another run on a solo homer by Tom Lewis in the 7th, and take a now 7-4 lead into the 8th.  But the never say die Shock mount another incredible rally off a rattled Rashun Rooney.  After Rooney loads the bases by hitting two batters, he walks Clark and then surrenders huge two-out RBI hits by Blago legend Benito “Blame It On” Rijo and Trevor Prince.  Stud closer Lorenzo Alomar is up for the task of protecting the 1-run lead in the 9th, and Colorado wins the series and advances to the League Championship round.

Congratulations to Chicago for getting this far in what was expected to be another step in the rebuild.  Estallela is locked up long term, and a new era of middle-of-the order sluggers has barely just begun with the likes of Maglo Bocachica and David Sisk.  Great things are sure to come in the next several seasons.  Very nicely done!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

S25 AL North All-Stars by asexton065

C  - Juan Lira - Rochester
1B - Cleatus Alexander - Augusta 
2B - Vicente Blasco - Cincinnati
3B - Enos Hoffman - Buffalo  
SS - Danys Dotel - Augusta 
LF - Alvin Ford  - Rochester  
CF - Doug Jennings - Augusta
RF - Marvin Crabtree - Augusta
DH - Carlos Valdes  -  Cincinnati  

SP - Flip McCartney  - Augusta   
SP - Corky Jackson  - Cincinnati
SP - Pedro Sierra - Augusta  
SP - Jolbert Perez - Rochester  
SP - Marshall Floyd  - Cincinnati
SP - Calvin Sugawara - Augusta  
RP - Alex Butcher - Augusta
RP - Charles Dye  -  Cincinnati
CL - Derrek Coleridge - Rochester
CL - Tom Benson - Buffalo

MVP -  Carlos Valdes  -  Cincinnati

Cy Young - Flip McCartney - Augusta

Pitching ROY -  Corky Jackson  -  Cincinnati    
Batting ROY -  Alvin Ford  - Rochester