Friday, November 25, 2011

World Series Recap

I'd like to think that this series was closer than the four game sweep would indicate, given the fact that total run differential for the series was only 6, but this was pure domination by Jackson over Tampa. Jackson's got it all; great starting pitching, timely hitting, near-flawless fielding, and tremendous work from their bullpen. 
In game 1, Sobolewski was cruising through 6, staking Tampa to 2-1 lead. He loaded the bases in the 7th, and Wes Dickerson got the huge, timely hit in this one, a grand slam no less, to lead the Colonels to a 5-4 victory. Game 2 was the heartbreaker for the Dons, as they built a 7-0 lead after 2, only to see the relentless offensive attack of Jackson come back with 5 runs in the 6th, the last two coming on a clutch two-out hit by Ralph "Billy the Kid" Kydd. After Jamie " The Fire" Byrne tacked on a solo homer to give Tampa's closer Les "Fat" Albers a three-run lead to close out, Dan Blair hit a solo homer, and Dickerson again connected for a huge, game-tying two run shot to send the game into extra innings. Ellie Crandall, who had cluch hit after clutch hit during the playoffs, drove in the game-winner in the 10th to send Tampa reeling into an 0-2 hole. Jackson got 7 and 2/3 innings of 1 run ball from their pen, with rookie Grant Mercedes earning his 5th win of the playoffs. In game 3, Mercedes again pitched 2 innings of scoreless relief in support of starter Uegeth Nunez who went 6 strong for the 3-1 win. As great teams will do, Jackson took advantage of a Tampa error in the 7th of a tie game to score the 2 deciding runs. Carlos "Exxon" Valdes worked around a Jackson error in the ninth for the save. Game 4 saw Roy "Purple" Hayes win the clincher with 6 solid innings, while protecting the 5-1 lead his teammates built for him, by way of a three-run blast by light-hitting/slick-fielding SS Ceasar Cordero, and a two-run shot by Kydd. Valdes gives up hits to the first two batters in the 9th of of 2-run game, but gets tough-out Byrne to ground into a DP to squash the potential rally, earn his 7th save of the playoffs, and send Jackson home with the trophy. Dickerson gets series MVP honors for his go-ahead slam in 1, and his game-tying shot in the 9th of 2.

Congratulations to Jackson for a season for the ages. Including the playoffs, they went 123-52, for a scary win % of .699! Not only did they put together a 25 game winning streak during the season, but won an amazing 9 in a row in the playoffs against the best competition in the World. Even if you took out the 25 game win streak (but heck, why would you?), they compiled a .653 winning percentage, which would have still made them the best team in the league. In the American League rankings, they were great in every facet of the game; 4th in total runs scored, 1st in runs against, 2nd in fewest errors and fielding %, first in plus plays, and 1st in fewest minus plays. They have the winner of the Cy Young, rookie of the year, and fireman of the year. Add in a silver-slugging catcher and a gold-glove 1B, and you get a world-class team. Great job building this powerhouse, ml4ku! It should be fun for the rest of us to try to knock you off.

Congratulations to all for a successful season 20 in A.Rod. There are a lot of teams that were in rebuilding stages that have seemed to make progress, and I think we can expect the competition to just keep getting tougher and tougher. I look forward to 21 and beyond!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

NLCS Recap

This great six game series between Tampa and Burlington was full of drama, and was still hanging in the balance right up till the final pitch. Game 1 featured a match-up of CY Young hopefulls Rich "Say it Ain't" Soboleski and "The Fireball Kid" Larry Kile. Tampa scored 6 runs in the second on 5 consecutive hits, sending Kile to the showers, while Sobolewski pitched 7-and-two-thirds, giving up 2 runs and striking out 7 in earning the win. In game 2, it was Burlington that jumped out to the quick lead, courtesy of the Cam Connection. Cam "Da Wild" Weston blasted a two run homer in the 2nd, and Cam Lewis pitched 6 brilliants innings, taking a 3-1 to the 6th. In the hopes of adding some insurance in the 6th, Burlington's bottom of the order started a rally. And when Harry "Met Sal' Lee intentionally walked 8th place hitter Whitey "Black" Holzemer to load the bases, pitcher Lewis did the unimaginable and blasted a grand slam to all but secure the win to tie the series. In support of Lewis, Andruw George and Doc Figga combined for 3 scoreless 2-hit innings of relief. Game 3 saw Tampa's bullpen pitch great, as four relievers go 4 scoreless innings in support of Doug "Buck" Rogers in the 3-1 victory. Hi Shouse hit the go-ahead solo homer in the 6th, and scored an insurance run after hitting a triple in the 8th. Burlington leaves 14 men on base, including the bases loaded twice. Game 4 saw Tampa's Einar Tavarez do his best Greg Maddux impression, pitching 8 innings of 1-run ball on only 85 pitches! Ala Maddux, he added an RBI single in support of his 6-2 win. Veteran Eugene Moreno hits a 2-run homer. Game 5, a rematch of game 1's starters, was the classic-type pitchers' duel that we'd expected earlier. Sobolewski again did his part by throwing 6 shut-out innings, but Kile shows up this time as well. Kile's only blemish through 6 strong innings was a solo shot given up to Jamie "The Fire" Byrne in the 3rd. Kile appears to be the hard-luck loser, as Tampa turns the 1-0 lead over to fireman of the year, Les "Fat" Albers in the 9th. With Tampa two outs away from securing a trip to the Series, Wilbur Servais cracks a 2-run, walk-off homer to extend the series.
MLB network would be showing game 6 tomorrow, as it became an instant classic. An early Dioner "Big Claw" Moreno two-run homer for Burlington helps create a 2-2 tie. In the fourth, pitcher Cam Lewis drives in his team leading fifth RBI of the series to give Burlington the 3-2 lead that they would hold until the 7th. Mr. Clutch, Jamie Byrne hits a three-run homer in the 7th to give Tampa the 2 run lead with 6 outs to go. The Booya load the bases in the 8th, but Graham Oliver hits into an inning ending DP to kill the rally. In the ninth, Moreno's second HR of the game cuts the defecit to 1, and then Albers blows his second staight save by surrendering the game-tying hit to his game 5 nemesis, Wilbur Servais. In the bottom half, Byrne hits into a twin-killing to squash a rally and send the game to extras. In the 12th, the Booya load the bases with no outs, but get just one on a Brennaman single, to turn the game over to super-swingman, Carlos Tavarez. Tavarez, who did not blow a save all year, loads the bases with 1 out on two hits and a walk, then fans one of the toughest guys in the league to strike-out, Tom Hardtke. Hi Shouse comes up big with the 2-out, game winning 2 run single to send Tampa to their first World Series in franchise history. Shouse gets series MVP honors. Burlington collected 20 hits and left 18 men on base in game 6, and were just one timely hit away from forcing a game 7. Congrats to the Booya; I have a feeling those big hits will come next year, and for many, many more. Great Series. Tampa moves on to face Jackson, against whom they went 2-1 in interleague play during the season.

ALCS Recap

As far a four game sweeps go, this was a much better series than you would think. There were two games with a 3-2 final, and another that was 2-1 in the ninth. Game 1 wasn't really close, however, as Jackson got out of the gate quickly and lead 7-0 after three. The offense was provided by Dan Blair (HR, 3 hits, 3 RBI), and unsung hero Ellie Crandall (2 hits, 2 RBI.) Reese "Smokin'" Hemphill was a little shaky coming back on only 2 days rest after his game 5 clincher out the pen in the Division Series, but he got through 7-and-a-third to pick up the win. On again/off again Flip McCartney suurendered 9 runs. Game 2 was a classic pitchers' duel as Hector Batista threw 9 strong innings to keep Jackson in contention through regulation. His only blemish was a 2 run homer surrendered to Javy Alvarez. Not to be outdone, Calvin "Sweet as" Sugawara tossed an unheard of 10 innings to keep his team in a 2-2 tie! Augusta had a chance to make Sugawara the hero, but failed to score with the bases loaded in the 10th, during which former Gold-glover Cooper Rhodes was lifted for a pinch hitter. That move would prove costly, as his replacement, utility-man Jon Little, made the error that set up Wes Dickerson's walk-off sac fly in the 11th. In game 3, Pedro "High" Sierra pitched 6 innings, giving up 1 run on 2 hits and 8 k's. Ceasar Julio tacked on 2 perfect innings to send Augusta to the ninth with a 2-1 lead, the go-ahead RBI courtesy of a Cooper Rhodes single. But closer Albert Jackson gives up the tying homerun to Dan Blair, the first batter of the inning. The go-ahead run was manufactured by some great baserunning by PR Emmanuelle Alarcon. Playoff hero Crandall, tacks on a couple insurance runs with a 2 run single, and Jackson goes on to take the commanding 3-0 series lead. Augusta leaves 14 men on base, including the bases loaded in three different innings. 
Division Series MVP, Ralph "Billy the Kid' Kydd, got game four's scoring started with a 2 run single in the second. Augusta answered with 2 of their own in the third in yet, another pitchers' duel. The good Flip McCartney showed up, pitching 7 innings, but surrendered a Steve Scott solo homer in the 6th to put Jackson ahead to stay. Jackson got four scoreless innings from its pen, including a drama-free 1-2-3 ninth from closer Carlos "Exxon" Valdes to secure the win for starter Roy "Purple" Hayes. Dan Blair is named series MVP for batting .368, 2 HR, 5 RBI and 5 runs. Jackson breaks its spell of hardluck playoff losses, and advances to the World Series for the first time under the ml4ku regime. Congratulations to Augusta for a great season, and for an absolute dog-fight of a series, despite the sweep.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Division Series Recap Part 2

In Tampa Bay's series win over Iowa, the formula was the same for each game; get an early lead and let some good starting pitching make it hold up. Tampa scored in the first inning in each of the first two games, and Cy-Young hopeful Rich "Say It Ain't" Sobolewski and Doug "Buck" Rogers pitched brilliantly to earn the victories. And when Harry "Met Sal" Lee struck out 10 through six two-hit innings in game 3, the series victory was sealed. Late season acquisition, Jamie "The Fire" Byrne, who was brought in to provide a spark the the Don's lackluster offense, did just that in scoring 5 runs while batting .556. Byrne added a homer and knocked in 3 to earn series MVP honors. Congratulations to Iowa on a great season. The injury bug bit hard, as SP Gio "The Hybrid" Hernandez was lost late in the season, and Emmanual "Lil' E" Aquino was lost for this round of the playoffs. After an off-season of healing, you know the Rounders will be back in the hunt next season.

The Jackson-Charlotte series was one for the ages, filled with multiple lead changes, walk-offs, late inning heroics, bullpen implosions, and staff aces working in relief. How 'bout 3 one-run games and 2 two-run affairs! Charlotte got the early jump with Alex Estalella pitching 7 1/3 for the win, and MVP candidate Carlos "Exxon" Valdes hitting his 4th HR of the playoffs. In game two, things were looking bleak for the World's best team in the regular season when the 'Men took a 6-2 lead into the 8th. But just as in game 4 of the Toledo series, Charlotte's bullpen totally imploded, allowing 6 runs in the final two innings to foster a dramatic Jackson comeback. Back-to-back homers by Dickerson and Dupler in the 8th cut the defecit to 1. Ellie Crandall had the game-tying hit in the ninth, and Ralph "Billy the Kid" Kydd provided the walk-off RBI. In game 3, "Meat" Stu Magee pitched his heart out for Charlotte, getting out of multiple jams in scattering 10 baserunners through 7. He turned over a 4-1 lead to his bullpen, but closer Charles "1001 Ways to" Dye blew his second straight save. Kydd provided the heroics again with a three-run homer, and Jackson took a 2-1 series lead. It was Jackson's bullpen that melted in its game 4 loss. They were up 5-2 after their half of the eighth, but RP Chance Liebel loaded the bases and left a mess for Rookie of the Year candidate Grant Mercedes. All three ended up coming around to tie the score, the big blow a 2 run double by Tom Lewis. In the ninth, hero Ralph Kydd's error created another mess for Mercedes, who would eventually give up the walk-off hit to PH Juan Estrada, sending the series back to Jackson for the deciding game. In a curious move, Jackson decided to give the ball to Ugeth Nunez instead of going to their Cy-Young candidate, Reese "Smokin'" Hemphill on regular rest. The move panned out, as Nunez gave them three innings of shut-out ball before handing the ball over to the ace, who gave them 5 innings of relief in earning the win. Charlotte naturally turned to ace "The Professor" Alex Gabriel to pitch the deciding game. It was his second consecutive start on three days rest, and the heavy workload seemed to have an effect. He gave up 10 hits and 2 walks through 6. Dan Blair got Jackson on the board early with a solo shot in the first. Ellie Crandall, who had a nice series, added a solo homer, as Jackson and Hemphill took a 4-0 lead to the ninth. Tony Juarez moved the Jackson crowd to the edge of their seats with a two run blast to cut the defecit in half, but it was too little, too late, as late-season acquistion Carlos "Exxon" Valdes did what he was brought in to do; shut the door to seal a series victory. Congratulations to Charlotte. They almost knocked off the best team for a second straight season, and will be tougher than ever next year.

All four of the top seeds have advanced to the league championships. Should be great scoreboard watching!

AL S20 ARod Blog Awards

AL MVP -  "Big Mol" Geovany Molina  -  Boy, life sure is rough being Portland.  5x MVP Pedro "Hack" Bonilla has a sub-par (for him) season; no problem, you just plug....let see....eenie, meenie, mynee, mo......sure why not Molina!!!  Molina was the stick that stirred the pot in Portland this year as he put together what may be the best season every produced from the lead off spot.  Molina was #1 in all of baseball by a long shot.  In the AL he was #4 in Avg (.332), #1 in OBP, SLG, OPS (.424, .683, 1.107).  Did I mention 151 runs, over 200 hits, 37 doubles, 6 triples, 57 long balls, 139 RBI, 98 walks and 37 SB!!!!   Carlos "Exxon" Valdes came in 2nd  place but the "runs created" gave Molina the MVP in a landslide.

AL Cy Young -  Reese "Smokin" Hemphill  -As far as the blog is concerned, Smokin just picked up his 2nd AL Cy Young in a row.  This one was tight though, as Hemphill and "The Professor" Alex Gabriel both had seasons that will rank as two of the best in the history of world Arod.  Gabriel made this interesting by leading the AL in Quality starts (25-21 over Hemphill) and wins (25-23), but Hemphill'stats where better most everywhere else as he led Jackson to the best overall record in Arod.  Hemphill threw 248 innings, 7 complete games, was #2 in K's with 213, was #1 in OAV and SLG (.202 and .303) and #2 in OBP (.283), not to mention a 1.10 WHIP and a 2.94 ERA.  The guy was sick this year.
AL ROY -  Al "Bundy" Lindsey -  Lindsey put the Mud Hens on his back this year and led them to the franchises first playoff berth since S13!!  The 22 yr old out of the back woods of Maine led the Mud Hens with 14 wins and pitched nearly 200 innings.  He also posted a solid 1.32 WHIP and 3.65 ERA.  That killer fastball is complimented by 3 other solid pitches which should keep Al "Bundy" Lindsey in a feature role atop the Mud Hens rotation for years to come.

AL Coach of the Year -  ML4KU -  If I have to explain this one to you, you are a brain dead idiot.  What a team!!!  112 wins and ML4KU finally makes it the the ALCS.....can he break thru and make it past an equally loaded Augusta squad??  Should be a great series.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Division Playoff Recap Part 1

As if on cue, the high powered offenses of Augusta and Portland did not dissapoint in their game 1 match up. Both Blake Bonds and Carlos Furcal were seen ducking the post game press conferences after this one. If you know who these two are, you're way too deep into this HBD thing. The two teams' pitching coaches had to witness a total 41 combined hits/walks, 6 homers and 20 runs scored (and another 23 were left on base). Portland's game winning rally in the 8th was comprised mainly of three walks and an error. Starting pitchers Flip McCartney and Rick Poppell gave up a combined 13 earned runs. If HBD tracked time of game, this one would have rivaled the best of those endless Red Sox/Yankees affairs on the Fox Saturday game of the week. But what lacked in asthetics was made up for in drama. There were four lead changes during the course of the game, with Portland finally getting the last of it in the 11-9 win. But after this messy affair, Augusta's pitching staff showed up in winning the next three, holding the Breakfast's "big two" of Pedro "Hack" Bonilla and "Big Mol" Geovany Molina to a combined 2 for 22, with just 2 runs scored and 1 RBI. Calvin "Sweet As" Sugawara, Pedro "High" Sierra and a rebounding McCartney alll pitched at least into the 7th in earning the wins. Victor Lawson earns the MVP nod over Pete "Crazy Old Building & Loan" Bailey (who curiously looks a lot like my AAA pitcher Shannon Robertson!), primarily for providing the big three-run homer in the clincher to put Augusta ahead. A.Rod is now guaranteed a new reigning champ as Portland get eliminated. Thanks to bradkoesters for taking over the talented but leaderless franchise. Whoever picks them up will surely have them banging on the door next season.

The Burlington three games to one win over the St. Louis Redbirds included one of the best games I've seen in awhile. Burlington bashed their way to a 2-0 lead in the series by outscoring the 'Birds by a combined score of 20-5. "The Fireball Kid" Larry Kile pitched great in game 1, going 6 strong, while giving up just 2 hits and no runs. "DB" Dann Brennaman and Dusty Riggan each had a 5 RBI game. Game three was where it was at! St. Louis nursed a three-nil lead through 8, as Shane Alexander seemed to be on cruise control, scattering 7 hits. But with two outs in the ninth and with two strikes (for dramatic purposes only) on a .242 career hitting/slick fielding shortstop, Whitey "Black" Holzemer hits a game tying three run homer to silence the St. Louis crowd. Whitey had previously hit only nine homeruns in over 800 career Booya at-bats. Later in the inning, back-up catcher Ben Felson (career .212) connected for a solo-shot off of closer Stump Matheson, giving Burlington the lead, and a chance to win the series with three more outs. In the bottom of the inning, who else but Chuck Merrick brings the crowd back to life with a game tying solo shot off of Burlington's closer, Kenta Itou, to send it to extras. The Redbirds squandered a bases loaded opportunity in the 11th, and the Booya did the same in the 12th. BJ Sullivan's fifth hit of the game was the walk-off game winner in the 13th, keeping St. Louis alive and giving them momentum. Game 4 was a nail biter as well, as neither team could put togther a rally until Burlington scored single runs in the 5th and 6th. St. Louis failed to score during their 7th inning rally, did get a run in the 8th, but could have gotten more if not for a GIDP by game 3 hero Sullivan. A great catch by Gold-glove CF Sandy "Put me in Center" Fielder to lead off the St. Louis 9th squashed any hope of the 'Birds starting a game-tying rally. Gustavo Mateo gets MVP honors for coming up huge in winning the clincher. With an explosive St. Louis offense having the momentum, Mateo slammed the door by striking out 10 in 7 innings, giving up 4 hits and no runs. Congratulations to the Redbirds on yet another great season. No doubt they will be in position once again to vie for the title next season.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

NL S20 ARod Blog Awards

NL MVP -  Benito "Bam Bam" Rijo was a monster this year for langer and his Blagos as he edges out Phillies "Skip to my" Lew Evans and his own teammate, Raymond "Magic" Brock.  His "runs created" where #1 in the NL, his RC27 was head and shoulders above everyone else in the NL and  let's not forget that he was holding it down at 3B/SS all year for the Blagos.  Rijo scored 116 Runs, had over 200 hits, laced 53 doubled, mashed 43 bombs, drove in 141 runs and swiped 23 base to go along with his NL best .331 batting avg, a plus .400 OBP and a Slugging % of 1.036.  Rijo adds this unofficial MVP to his S15 and S18 NL MVP's.

NL Cy Young - Rich "Say it ain't" Sobolewski was the best pitcher on the best team in the NL this season and gets his 1st Cy Young......and did I mention his stats are sick!!!  21-4 with 195 k, a 1.07 WHIP and a 2.35 ERA (who's the dumbass that trades this guy to Tampa??)  Did I mention an OAV of .207, a Opp Slug% of .288 or the 25 quality starts. "The Fireball Kid" Larry Kile , already a 2x AL Cy Young award winner comes in a very close runner-up.

NL ROY - SP "Don" Juan Bennett was simply amazing for a 21 yr old kid in his 3rd season since being found by bigjasiu playing stick ball in a garbage dump in the slums of  San Juan De La Maguana, DO.  Bennett threw 213 innings on his was to amassing a record of 15-7 with a WHIP of 1.26 and an ERA of 3.63.  His 22 quality starts tied him for 5th best in the NL.  Barring injuries, we could see multiple Cy Young's out of young MR. Bennett.

NL Coach of the Year - langer1979 earns the nod this year with a magical last 110 games of the season that took him to 95 wins and a 6th straight NL North crown.     

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

AL Round One Recap

Portland's unrelenting offensive attack allowed the Breakfasts to take the series against the curiously named Sluggers of Sante Fe. The "Sluggers," best known for their ability to drive opponents crazy on the basepaths, were held to a .228 BA for the series, which reinforces the point that you can't steal first. Ray Bragg had a good series for the up and coming Sluggers, batting .429, smacking a homer and driving in 5. Other than Sante Fe's showing heart by giving Portland all they had in the extra inning win in game 2, this one was all defending champs. Portland scored 30 runs in the four games, with Geovany Molina going .389/1/5, Pedro Bonilla hitting .353/3/5 and MVP Jeremy James hitting .471/2/6. James seemed to be involved in almost every big rally by Portland, and earns the honor over the other vets. Sante Fe's era for the series was 6.81. This is going to be a tough team to beat! Sante Fe needs to be congratulated for a strong, consistent season, and seems to only be getting better; they just happened to draw one tough opponent! By the way, maybe it's just me being naive, but I never knew what a Portuguese Breakfast was until I looked it up on the Urban Dictonary. I'm sorry I looked. Portland moves on to Augusta, where the match up will be the two top run scoring teams in the league. Their pitcher-friendly parks will more than likely have no effect on the scoring in this one.

In the series with the most drama, underdog Toledo gave Charlotte a run for their money in the only series to go the distance. Coming into the playoffs on a hot streak, Toledo got a gutsy performance from fireballer Carlos Camancho to take game 1. Charlotte then showed the 'Hens who they were up against by winning the next two by a combined score of 22-2. Charlotte then took a 5-4 lead into the 8th inning in game 4 before Toledo blasted their way back into the series with 9 runs (lead by Alex James) in the last two innings to force the deciding game 5. Momentum seemed to carry over as big Leon Hudson blasted a three-run shot in the first to give Toledo the lead. But veteran ace Alex Gabriel settled in and allowed his team's offense to get back into it. The big blow was a Tony Juarez three-run homer, and the 'Men never looked back. Carlos Valdes earns MVP honors with a line of .381/3/11. Toledo has given A.Rod a lot to cheer about during their stretch run to make it into the playoffs and then almost pulling off an upset. Congrats on a great season! Charlottte is off to face Jackson and their 112 regular season wins. Jackson won the season series 6-4.

NL Round One Recap

Underdog Iowa and their dynamic pitching attack brought out the brooms! The big Blago bats never busted out, getting shut out twice while batting .149 for the series with just a single homer in the three game sweep. Iowa's Sam Wilson spun a beauty in the clincher, giving up one hit in 7-plus innings. Wilson's performance was huge, as there was little margin for error with the loss of offensive sparlplug Emmanuel Aquino to injury in game 2. John Ueno earns series MVP honors for hitting .455 and setting the tone in two of the wins. He got the scoring under way with a three-run blast in game one, and a two-run shot in game 3. The sweep helps Iowa by getting their pitching lined up for their next series against division rival Tampa Bay. The over/under for total runs scored in that series is 20.5! (I'm leaning towards the under.) Chicago will undoubtedly be back in the hunt for a title next season. Congratulations on a great season Blagos!

St. Louis took advantage of an uncharacteristically wild Kevin Jenkins in game one to set the tone for the series, leading the way to a 3-1 series victory over Scranton. Chuck Merrick came up big with the walk-off hit. This could have been a different series if Jenkins had been able to give Scranton a little more, as the Redbirds gift-wrapped game 2 by making 5 errors and walking 9 Squirrels. The Redbirds got back to business by taking the next two to wrap up the series. Fritz Mullin was brilliant in the clincher, giving up two hits and no runs through 6. Merrick gets MVP honors for batting an astounding .647 with 3 homers and 9 RBI. Let's see if tmantom's Booya gives him the Bonds treatment and walks him every time up in the next series starting in Burlington. This should be a good match up. Burlington took 8 of the 10 meetings between the clubs during the season, but you can throw that out the window as the Redbirds surely know what it takes to win in the postseason. I'm looking forward to this one! Congrats to Scranton on a great season. They appear to back as a perenial playoff contender after going through a moderate rebuilding phase. They play the game right, with a balanced attack and never beating themselves.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Final Two Days: AL East Picture

We won't need to go to the tiebreaker system, as someone is guarenteed to win outright.

Trenton is officially eliminated. Congrats to the Thunder on a great final run!

Toledo gets the division title with one win in the final two games against Jacksonville.

Jacksonville wins the division with a sweep of the final two games.

In the AL, seeding is finalized. Jackson and Augusta have the top two seeds and the byes. Portland is third, with the winner of the East 4th. Charlotte and Sante Fe are 5th and 6th.

In the NL, Tampa has clinched top seed, with Burlington needing 1 more win (or a St. Louis loss) to clinch 2nd seed and the bye over the Redbirds. Chicago is locked into the 4th seed.

Iowa's and Scranton's positioning are still in question. Iowa's needs one win (or a Scranton loss) to clinch the higher 5th seed. Scranton needs two wins and two losses from Iowa to leapfrog.

Should be fun watching the East play out. Good luck!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Playoff Picture as of 11/11 PM1

With four games left, the playoff picture is clearing up, but there are still spots and positioning up for grabs...

In the NL, all divisions are clinched. Chicago claimed their 6th consecutive title. They are still alive in the race for one of the two byes, but needs lots of help from the teams facing the other three division champs. They need to win at least 3 out of their last four to stand a chance.

Burlington won their 4th consecutive division title, and is looking to hoist thier second WS trophy during this stretch run. Booya is playing for one of two byes, and can clinch if they win out their last four games.

Tampa won their first ever division title and can also claim one of they byes if they win out. They'll win over the Booya, but lose against St. Louis if there is a tie for the second seed and bye.

St. Louis is making their 8th playoff appearence in the last 9 seasons, and is vying for their 3rd WS title in the last seven seasons. A title will truly make them worthy of being called a dynasty. They are currently third seed, but are in the hunt for one of the two byes, just one game out of top seed.

Iowa clinched their 4th playoff appearence in the last 5 seasons.

After a 5 year absence, Scranton returns to the playoff with just one more win, or New Orleans' loss in the last four games.

In the AL, Augusta clinched their 3rd consecutive division title, and with four games left, their Magic Number to clinch a bye is two (over Portland.)

Jackson is making their 7th straight playoff appearence and clinched top seed.

Portland is looking to repeat as WS champs, but will most likely have to play a tough Sante Fe team in the first round.

Speaking of sante Fe, they have clinched that final WC spot and is making their second staight appearence in the playoffs.

Charlotte earned the top wildcard spot, and making their 5th playoff appearence in the last 6 seasons.

The AL East is still very much up for grabs with Jacksonville in the driver's seat, 1 game up over Toledo and 2 up over Trenton. They control their own destiny, and can be top dog if they win out. Trenton can win the division if they win all four of their remaining games (including one against the division leader), and then having Toledo beat Jacksonville at least twice in the final series of the season. Trenton wins a tiebreaker over Toledo, but loses to Jacksonville.

Toledo will have to win the division outright to make it over both opponents, and their best shot at doing that is to sweep Jacksonville in the final series.

Good luck to all, and happy scoreboard watching!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

AL East Breakdown by cebola

I'll have complete updates coming shortly, but let's get to the most exciting race as we head into the final 10 games of the season; for the AL East Division Crown...

Toledo sits one game back of Jacksonville with 10 left to play. Both teams have a tough opponent for the next four games (Portland and Jackson). Jacksonville will then face Trenton, who is very much still alive at 3 games back, and will be giving them all they've got.

Trenton has a more favorable opponent in the next series in Wichita, who is close to being eliminated from wildcard consideration. But the Thunder needs to leapfrog two teams to get in. They'll have to get and stay hot the rest of the way to stand a chance.

Toledo plays Syracuse in it's second to last series before setting up what's sure to be an exciting final three games against Jacksonville. The division could surely be up for grabs between these two teams by then.

The good news for Jacksonville is that in the first two tie-breakers, they currently hold a 5-2 head-to-head record against Toledo, and a 15-9 division record. Toledo's division record is 11-13. This means that Toledo will most likely have to win the division outright, Jacksonville most likely wins a tie.

Good luck all!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Upcoming Games to Watch by cebola

They'll be some good scoreboard watching over the next couple days. Here are some of the big series that start Monday 11/7...

Toledo @ Trenton: This is Trenton's opportunity to make a run for the division title. A sweep will get them right into the three way race along with Jacksonville.

Sante Fe @ Wichita: Wichita can do the same for the Wildcard race with a sweep of Sante Fe, who plays tough on the road.

Jackson vs. Charlotte: Jacskon officially clinches the division with two out of three. Red hot Charlotte could cause the Colonels to squirm a little with a sweep.

Iowa @ Tampa: Iowa will cause some uneasiness in the Southern Bay area with a sweep. My Dons need at least one to clinch the head-to-head tiebreaker for the division.

New Orleans vs Texas and then vs. Scranton (both at home): If New Orleans can continue their hot streak against the cellar-dwelling Texas team, they set up a very important series with Scranton in the NL Wildcard race. Scranton visits D.C. before going to New Orleans for four important games.

Be sure to make good use of our fabulous new scoreboard to check out these results!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

S20 Playoff Picture at a glance by cebola

It's the last few weeks of the season, and teams are making their runs for a playoff spot and/or jockeying for position. Will someone pull off an A.Rod alternate universe feat like MLB's Cardinals and storm their way in, all the way to a title? Here's where we stand with just a few "weeks" left in the regular season...

As the season winds down even farther, I'll be posting the Magic Number for individual teams to clinch. As a refresher, Magic Number is a countdown of how many games are needed for a team with a lead to mathematically clinch. Either a win from the team with the lead, or a loss from the next closest team, reduces the Magic Number by one.

As a fresher on tie-breakers, head to head is first. Second tie-breaker is record within division. This next round of division games coming up could loom large.

Here's where we stand in the AL (as of 11/5 AM Cycle, 22 games remaining)

Congratulations to both Augusta and Portland for having already clinched their respective divisions. I hope the champagne celebration was nice! These two teams will most likely be battling it out for the second seed and the all-important first round bye. One game separates these two squads. They are within striking distance of Jackson for the top spot (7 and 6 back, respectively.)

In the East, we have a tightly packed race for the top spot. Jacksonville currently has a one game lead over Toledo and a 4 game lead over Trenton. We'll have to keep an eye on these divisional games coming up. They'll probably be a huge factor in determining who comes out on top.

In the South, Jackson's obscene 20-something game winning streak earlier this season cemented their lead in what was a very tight race early on. But Charlotte just won't go away, riding a 10 game winning steak at the time of this writing. Jackson's Magic Number to clinch is 11, which basically means they only have to play slightly sub .500 ball the rest of the way to guarantee the division.

In the Wild Card Race, Charlotte is top dog. Their Magic Number to clinch at least one of the two spots is 12, which also means a record of just under .500 would get them in. Sante Fe has a four game lead for the last play-off spot, with both Toledo and Witchita knocking on the door. Witchita is four games back of Sante Fe with a series between the two teams coming up on 11/7. Toledo is battling for the division, so this bodes well for Sante Fe, since Jacksonville, Trenton and Toledo would all have to play well to challenge the Sluggers.

And now wel look at the NL picture...

Surprisingly, all the division leaders are in similiar boats. Three out of the four have an 11 game lead, and the other lead is 9. Magic Number for Chicago (North), Burlington (East), and St. Louis (West), stands at 1. For my Tampa squad it's 14, but I hardly feel safe, as Iowa is more than capable of pulling off one of their famous 14 game winning streaks!

The Wildcard race has Iowa in the top spot with Scranton 3 games back, but in decent position for the second spot. Iowa's Magic Number to clinch at least a playoff berth is 14. Scranton has a 6 game lead over both a hot Las Vegas team and New Orleans, who happened to leapfrog several teams down the stretch last season to storm into the playoffs. A surging D.C. and a fading Milwaukee are still in the hunt , 7 and 8 games back respectively. The script could not have been written any better, as Scranton's next four series are all against these four teams that are chasing! A lot will be determined in the next "week and a half!"

The division leaders are in a battle to determine the top two seeds and the byes. Currently, Burlington and Tampa have the top 2 spots, but St. Louis (6 games back) and Chicago (8 games back) are not far behind.     

S20 Draft Review - Washington DC Senators

Washington D.C. Senators 

Needs: 1B, 2B
Solid behind the plate with 2 players in their prime and one on the way
Need more power at 1B to replace aging Garland. 2B also needs to be addressed in the next few seasons.
With plenty of talent at the COF positions, slick fielding , but light hitting Dellaero will not be out of place
The Senators rotation is shaping up to be a dandy
The bullpen also has plenty of young strong arms throughout

Draft Preparation:
Player budget: top third (96 mill) because of a few high priced FA
Prospect budget: Moderate (16 mill)
Draft budget: low-emphasizing HS talent
college (5 mill) High school (12 mill)

Number of Draft Picks Rounds 1-5: 4


Round 1 Pick 13 SP Kid Spahn 
On this staff he will probably be inserted into a long relief role, but he could also be used as a short inning starter. Good left/right splits, but a bit wild with high velocity. At least he will keep the opposing hitters honest at the plate. A bit of a stretch for pick number 13, he most probably should have been a supplemental pick. 4 nasty ML grade pitches with very good command. Features a tandem fastball and slider.
ML Proj: 120 IP/3.50-4.00 ERA

Round 3 Pick 111 SS Pokey Hernandez 
Very highly skilled defensively, Hernandez will likely see time as an all purpose utility infielder in the bigs. His left/right splits are good enough to get him a few at bats.
ML Proj: 200 AB/3 HR/.220 BA

Round 4 Pick 144 2B Bert Romine
AAA talent at best

Round 5 Pick 176 SS Jay O'Malley 
Another good defensive talent but offense not good enough for the bigs. Ceiling AAA

Hidden Gems: Albert Cohen  RP

Overall Grade: C-
Patrick didn't expect much from this draft, and in the end he didn't get much. He should have gotten far more value for his first pick than he actually got, but he also landed a pretty useful player in the third round that somewhat made up for it. He still needs to address his growing concerns at 1B, and 2B.

S20 Draft Review - Columbus Clippers

Columbus Clippers 

Needs: C, 1B, RF, SP
The Columbus tandem behind the plate already has it's weaknesses, and now one of the two is getting old. This area is a must need
The infield is in desperate need of revamping. Luckily SS Navarre and 3B Kelly are almost there. Estrada is capable enough to do the job short-term at 2B, but needs to be replaced by either Hammel or Pierce soon. 1B is a gaping hole, both in the field and in the lineup.
With Hammel and Pierce split up between CF and 2B, the COF positions are in need of upgrade.Gibbons is ok in LF, but RF needs an arm and a bat.
The starting rotation is largely ineffective, but Columbus has taken great care in starting to re-stock it's system with fresh arms.
The bullpen is filled with talent and is by far the strong suit on this team. The problem in Columbus is that the demands on that bullpen are often brought on far too early in games.

Draft Preparation:
Player budget: bottom third of league (68 mill)
Prospect budget: high (20 mill)
Draft budget: moderate/balanced college (14 mill)
HS (14 mill)

Number of Draft Picks Rounds 1-5: 6


Round 1 Pick 11 SP/RP Dingo McDonald  
Solid but unspectacular. Would have rated him a late 1st rounder, rather than number 11 overall. Good left/right splits. Great control. Good velocity. His durability and stamina indicates he can be either a short inning starter (5-6 innings), or an excellent long reliever. He has 3 ML pitches and his feature pitch is the curveball.
ML Proj: 180 IP/12-14 W/150+ K/3.20-3.50 ERA

Round 1 Pick 48 (supp) SP Gregory Dougherty 
4th or 5th slot starter has makeup to approach decent projections. Another starter with outstanding control never hurts, and helps to keep the big innings to a minimum. Far more effective against lefthanders than right. Relies mainly on 2 pitches, with the sinkerball being his feature pitch.
ML Proj: 200-210 IP/12-15 W/3.80-4.25 ERA

Round 2 Pick 75 C Joba Ziegler 
Brilliant defensive catcher who hits lefties relatively well. Great candidate for a platoon catching situation, which is exactly what Columbus needs. Outstanding targeted selection. Only other thing I can say here is "be ready for trade offers".
ML Proj: 280 AB/12 HR/.260 BA/staff ERA under 3.50
highest rate of base-stealers caught in the league

Round 3 Pick 109 RP Shawn Lo Duca   
Nice pick at no. 109. Very solid RP adding strength to an already strong bullpen. Solid left/right splits complimenting very nice control and velocity. 2 Quality ML pitches, with the sinkerball being the feature pitch. Also, nice FB/GB ratio, will grow to be a reliable set-up guy.
ML Proj: 50-60 IP/2.50-3.00 ERA

Round 4 Pick 142 RP Darren Bell 
Rounds 4 and 5 are for picking flyers, guys who have talent, but need work, and that's exactly what Ball is. His talent numbers are all very nice, but he fatigues easily and often. When he is healthy, he can do the job. If a team wants a left handed specialist to pitch to one batter, Bell is the man for the job.
ML Proj: 25-30 IP/2.30-2.70 ERA

Round 5 Pick 174 RP  J.T. Allen
Not as talented as the previous pitchers, but still enough there to find steady work somewhere. Slightly above average left/right splits are strengthened by good velocity and control. His stock is even further enhanced by 2 solid ML pitches that are equally effective, the sinker and the fastball. As a result, he keeps most balls on the ground.
ML Proj: 60-70 IP/3.50-4.00 ERA

Hidden Gems:  Amp Rusch  RP

Overall grade: A+
Brilliant job of drafting. Although Columbus appeared to get slightly less than full value for its top choice, they slam dunked the remainder of the draft. The best job of targeting specific players to fill needs I may have yet seen in a draft. Amazingly, when my search had ended, I found no less than 7 solid future ML prospects!