Monday, December 15, 2008

The Road to the World Series

"Two paths diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
and that has made all the difference."
--- Robert Frost, "The Road Not Taken"

This weekend, the Mexico City Day Laborers will travel to the Richmond Chin Music to start the World Series. The two franchises traveled very different paths to this point. Chin Music was built largley through excellent drafting and trades (see my 12/3/08 post). As you see below, the Day Laborers were built almost exclusively through very high draft picks Which will you travel?

Mexico City Day Laborers (NL)

C - R.J. ("Whassap!") Mieses - Signed as an internationl free agent in season 7
C - Arlie ("Shoeshine") Kendall - Fifth-round draft choice (153 overall) in season 4
1B - Gerald ("Monster") Bennett - First-round draft choice (4th overall) in season 4
1B - Louis ("Strike the") Pose - Ninth-round draft choice (276th overall) in season 3
2B - Donald ("Robster Craws") Shibata - Acquired in the Rule 5 draft in season 8
2B - Lewis ("Sassa") Frascatore - Second-round draft pick (75th overall) in season 3
3B - Mateo ("I Say") Sojo - Drafted 1st overall in the season 6 draft
SS - David ("Ass-Munch") Giles - Acquired via trade in season 8 (a former 17th-overall pick)
SS - Pablo ("El Guante") Suarez - Drafted in the 7th round (212th overall) in season 3
LF - Ken ("The Franchise") Holbert - Drafted 1st overall in the season 7 draft
CF - Rob ("Mario Williams") Reese - Drafted 1st overall in the season 5 draft
RF - ("Dr.") Zues Osborne - Draft in tghe 1st round (12th overall) in season 2
OF - Benito ("Dorito") Guzman - International free agent signed in season 1

SP1 - Pedro ("Meet My") Johnson - Drafted 1st overall in season 3
SP2 - Hector ("Poodles") Soto - International free agent signed in season 1
SP3 - Davey ("Inkjet") Romero - Acquired via trade in season 8
SP4 - Harry ("Ass") James - International free agent signed in season 6
RP - John ("Boom'Boom") Henderson - Drafted in the 8th round (253rd overall) in season 4
RP - Rico ("Jill-wasn't") Jacquez - International free agent signed in season 4
RP - Joshua ("Engelbert") Wainhouse - An original Day Laborer
RP - Albie ("Over Here Sittin' in the Bench") Prieto - International free agent signed in season 3
RP - Carl ("Spackler") Spencer - Drafted in the 5th round (148th overall) in season 3
Cl - ("Kill") Bill Randolph - Acquired via trade from Chin Music in season 7

Friday, December 12, 2008

Does Defense Matter?

Does defense matter in determining a winning franchise? It's not terribly scientific, but the data below seems to indicate that it does. Of the top 10 defensive teams in the league each year, on average 6.4 make the playoffs:

Season 1 - 4 of the top 10 defensive teams in the bigs made the playoffs
2 - 7 of 10
3 - 7 of 10
4 - 7 of 10
5 - 5 of 10
6 - 5 of 10
7 - 7 of 10
9 - 8 of 10
10 - 7 of 10

More later.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Camp Track Record of Return Owners

As we approach the end of season 10, I thought it would be interesting to look at the league's history of how many owners return from season to season.

From season 1 to season 2, 22 of 32 owners returned.
From season 2 to season 3, 17/32 (our worst year for this)
From season 3 to season 4, 25/32
From season 4 to season 5, 27/32
From season 5 to season 6, 20/32
From season 6 to season 7, 24/32
From season 7 to season 8, 23/32
From season 8 to season 9, 28/32 (our best)
From season 9 to season 10, 24/32.

On average, we replace 8.67 owners per season. Also notable, simdog is on his third different franchise in Camp this season. I hate to say it, but I have been the only returning owner in my division, the AL South, for the past 4 seasons. Hang in there, yoker70 & zeb25! Thankfully, vegas9517 has already re-upped for season 11.

All-Time Winningest Franchises

As of the 12/3 pm game, the following are the winningest franchises in Camp:

1. Arizona Thunder Chickens 1080-533 (4 WS titles)
2. Tampa Bay Boozers 1029-584
3. Austin/Richmond Chin Music 981-632 (1 WS)
4. Louisville/Toledo Flame Throwers 954-659
5. Philadephia Athletics 932-681 (1 WS)
6. Toronto Greased-Up Deaf Guys 921-692 (1 WS)
7. San Francisco Slumpbusters 907-706

Gabriel Update

Two and one-half months ago (the last freaking post on this blog), it was speculated that Earl Gabriel might be entering his Camp swan song. At 39 years old, his skills have been in decline, exacerbated by a stress fracture in his pitching elbow in season 8. Whither Earl the Pearl now?

Entering into the final week of Camp season 10, we find Gabriel largely relegated to swing-starter role on the age-defying Thunder Chickens team. Gabriel is 7-0 with a 4.57 ERA in 42 games (7 of which are starts) and a WHIP of 1.51. The ERA is the highest of his career, the win total ties his lowest, and the WHIP bar far his worst. Nevertheless, he has added to his Camp-record win total, which now stands at 216 (against 44 losses, for an astounding 83% win percentage), 30 more than Abdul Wallace, 32 more than Matt Adams, and 38 more than Orlando Blanco.

While it appears that Gabriel is about to blow the horn on his career, he will nevertheless be remembered as the Gold Standard for starting pitchers in Camp. Farewell, Earl of Camp!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Decision looms on Gabriel's future

Has the most dominant pitcher in the history of Camp seen the last of his days as a ML starter? It's a fair question to ask considering the decline of Arizona's Earl Gabriel over the past few seasons. Gabriel hasn't been the same since a stress fracture caused him to miss a significant amount of time in season 8 and now the 5-time Cy Young Award winner hits free agency as a 39-year-old.

It's not known what Gabriel's demands are for the upcoming season but one would have to assume that the Thunder Chickens intend on re-signing him. But season 9 was the worst season for Gabriel since his first full season in the desert. He went 14-8 with a 3.88 ERA in 37 starts for Arizona last season, which are pretty decent numbers for the average pitcher. Gabriel, however, is held to a different standard. The 3.88 ERA was his worst since season 2 and his ERA has been climbing sharply since season 7.

Combine a steady increase in ERA with a sharp decline in ratings, and Arizona seems to have a decision on their hands. Heading into season 10, Gabriel has lost 8 points off his stamina, 5 points off his control and 5 and 6 points off his L and R splits respectively, not to mention what he's lost on each of his pitches. To pile on, his health rating, which was never that great, now resides at a scary 47.

Flash Hammond and Orlando Blanco are the clear 1-2 punch at the front of the Thunder Chickens rotation these days but after those two there are plenty of question marks, the biggest of those question marks being Gabriel. Does Arizona try to squeeze as many innings out of him as possible as a starter this season or move him into the bullpen? Do they even re-sign him at 39-years-old or do they let him walk or perhaps even work a sign and trade with another team? Arizona GM colson55555 has said in the past that Gabriel will retire a Thunder Chicken, though that was before his major injury in season 8. Time will tell what's in store for Camp's winningest pitcher of all time.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Flashback to Season 2

Picking up where pvc left off, I review below Camp season 2, in which an upstart owner took over a fledgling 70-92 franchise and turned it into the World Champs in his first season.

Season 2 Recap

When a franchise relocates under new management after 1 season, it typically means that the franchise is destined for a few years of mediocrity at best. Not so in Camp season 2. Taking over a fledging Mexico City franchise run by a mysterious owner named "dwaskos," TxLnghrn jumped into HBD by naming his franchise the Austin Chin Music. The Chin Music went from 70-92 in season 1 to 98-64, largely because of one key trade mentioned below. Surprisingly, Austin swept through the first two playoff rounds, beating season 1 champ San Diego in the Divison Series, and the (then) Philadelphia Athletics in the LCS. The World Series paired the Augusta Pounders, winners of 106 games on the regular season, against Austin. In a thrilling 7-game series, Austin come out victorious. How did Austin go from the celler to the penthouse in one season? See the "Key Trades" below.


The league MVPs were Jamie Hillenbrand in the AL and Alex Rodriguez in the NL. Hillenbrand hit .377, hit 34 HRs, drove in 124 runs, and scored 166. The ironic thing about Hillenbrand is that he'd been traded in the pre-season from Austin to Colorado (see the trade details below), and yet Austin was a better team after the deal. Rodriguez, playing for Toronto, hit .345 with 50 HRs and 188 RBIs and an OPS near 1.200. Ronnie Walton of Augusta won the NL Cy Young, going 23-3 with a 3.48 ERA. Sid Tanner of Austin won the AL Cy, having gone 20-7 3.67 after being acquired from Colorado in the deal for Hillenbrand.

Key Trades

Which leads me to the key trades of season 2. Prior to the beginning of the season, Colorado proposed a deal that would send P - Sid Tanner, OF - Vic Hafner, and 1B - Julian Sanchez to Austin in exchange for OF - Jamie Hillenbrand and P - Rob Sanders. After hesitating to part with Hillenbrand (the best player on his team in season 1), Austin elected to go for it and strengthen his team in 3 areas. As noted above, Tanner went on to win the Cy and go 4-0 with a 0.57 ERA in the playoffs. Meanwhile, Hafner hit .294 with 41 HRs and 153 RBIs and made the all-star game, and Sanchez hit .333 with 17 HRs and 96 RBIs. So, even though Hillenbrand won the MVP, Austin made out like bandits on this one.

Another key trade was Toronto sending P - Enrique Gomez to New Orleans in exchange for 1B - Evan Harrison. While Gomez did go on to save 27 games for NO in season 4, Harrison has become a key cog in Toronto's current juggernaut. Finally, the Huntingon Hillbillies showed their deliverance-ness by trading 1B - Denny Spence to Arizona in exchange for two scrubs. All Spence went on to do was to average .340 for the next 6 seasons for the Chicks.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Season one...a look back

While season nine wears on and the blog remains stagnant, it's time to take a look back at Camp's opening season. Keep in mind that the amateur draft was much more difficult due to not being able to rank your players. Also, if I missed somebody or you have anything to add, post it up. The blog adds a great deal of fun to the league and shouldn't be treated like the Tucsons of the world.

  • Matt Adams: current Tampa Bay Boozer and former Padre, led San Diego to it's one and only title, going 4-0 in the postseason and posting an outlandish .189 oav and 0.89 whip.
  • Felipe Abreu: the best hitter this world has to offer set the bar high even for his own standards by collecting 255 hits (single season record) and getting on base at a .497 clip.
  • Dallas Cameron: Amazingly, this current FA hit 76 bombs and drove in a ridiculous 199 runs to open up Camp. What's more amazing, is that he did all that while swinging at every single pitch that was thrown! Walking 18 times in 667 abs is amazing all by itself
Draft Picks (studs)
  • Flash Hammond (#1 overall): A can't miss SP prospect to start out proved to be just that. Flash has posted 67 wins at the ML level to go along with an above-average 3.70 era and oh yeah, he's helped Zona win the past three World Series.
  • Emmanual McCartin (#2 overall): A two-time All-Star, Emmanual McCartin has averaged 27 hr 99 rbi .282 avg over his five full ML seasons. The versatile McCartin has won Silver Sluggers at SS and 3B and captured his first Gold Glove at third base last season.
  • Matty Robinson (#7 overall): Perhaps the steal of the draft, Robinson can flat out rake. He is approaching 300 career hrs (282) and once hit 68 hr in a single season. Throw in the fact that his career avg and obp is .317/.411 respectively, and you got yourself a franchise player. Matty is a two-time All-Star first baseman and captured his first Silver Slugger at the position in season 8.
  • John Bruske (#8 overall): How this guy ended up in Zona the past few years, I'll never know. Like almost all Thunder Chickens, Bruske hits over .300 and walks more than he strikes out. Yada, Yada, Yada.
Draft picks (Busts)
  • Elvis Nicholson (#3 overall): While some may disagree, Elvis is your classic "Ham Sandwich." While failing to win more than 11 game in a season and possessing a career ML era of 4.69, this guy is Camp's version of Kerry Wood without the 20 strikeout game.
  • Sherman Byrne (#4 overall): Sherman's career era is also in the mid 4's and while his career win loss record stands at 68-33, all I can think of is "YOU COULD HAVE GOTTEN ROBINSON HERE!"
  • Derrek Stein (#9 overall): If the purpose of the amateur draft was to find somebody to lead your high A team to victory, then I could see Stein being drafted here. But as that is currently not the objective, Stein is an awful choice here. With splits that make Dave23 weak in the knees, DS flat out doesn't have the stuff to be on an ML roster. If Stein sounds familiar, you may know his name from it being attached to the third worst single season loss record (24)!

League Leaders

National League : Batters


1 - Francis Cannon (SWB)----.400
2 - Lance Seaver (ARI)--------.365
3 - Matty Robinson (NY2)----.360
4 - Dee James (ARI)-----------.358
5 - Wes Singleton (MEM)-----.356


1 - Matty Robinson (NY2)---27
2 - Flip Marshall (NY2)-----21
3 - Wilson Sanders (CH1)---19
4 - Tomas Nunez (CH1)-----18
5 - Ajax Blair (TB)-----------18


1 - Matty Robinson (NY2)----1.277
2 - Jim Drese (TOR)----------1.151
3 - Francis Cannon (SWB)---1.118
4 - Flip Marshall (NY2)------1.082
5 - Sven Reid (SWB)----------1.036

Monday, July 21, 2008

League Leaders



1. Matt Adams - Tampa Bay- 8
2. Jack Harris - Scranton - 7
3. Karl Piersoll - Tampa Bay- 7
4. Orlando Blanco- Arizona - 6
5. Flash Hammond - Arizona - 6


1. Roy Whitaker - Toronto - 1.69
2. Esteban Castro - Atlanta - 1.82
3. Jorge Cedeno - Memphis - 2.12
4. Earl Gabriel -Arizona - 2.35
5. Don Bale -Toronto - 2.38


1. Lon Valdes - New Orleans - 10
2. Galahad Lee - Honolulu - 9
3. Rico Miro - Toronto - 9
4. Bill Randolph - Mexico City - 8
5. Wiki Beltran - Memphis - 8



1. Slim Herrera - Las Vegas - 7
2. Kelvim Cookson - Austin - 6
3. Harry Martin - Las Vegas - 6
4. Stump Womack - Portland - 6
5. Skeeter Duncan - San Francisco - 6


1. Harry Bonilla - Syracuse - 2.18
2. Stump Womack - Portland - 2.34
3. Karl Quinn - Hartford - 2.76
4. Rick Faulk - Toledo - 2.92
5. Ronnie Walton - Rochester - 3.29


1. Darrell Baez - Las Vegas - 14
2. Lefty Brown - Trenton - 12
3. Don Lamb - Detroit - 8
4. Al Bennett - Kansas City - 8
5. Robin O'Keefe - Austin - 7

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

(New York, NY) Without further adieu' we wrap up our franchise previews.
NL South

Memphis Blues / 88-74 / NL South Champs
Season 8 in Review: Came out on top in one of the few compelling pennant races last season by beating out New Orleans with a six game winning streak down the stretch. Arguably the most well coached team in Camp, no club gets more out of their talent than Memphis. On paper the roster looks like a middle to below average club, but the stats don’t lie; finishing in the top 5 of all major pitching categories and holding their own offensively with clutch power hitting, clubbing 230HRs with a top 5 finish in SLG%.

MVP: RHP Cookie Juarez (13 wins – 8 losses, 3.26ERA, 1.27WHIP), continues to do more with less. No one in Camp gets more from his talent than Juarez.

Underachiever: SS Tuck McClain (.246BA, 4HR, 42RBI, 27SB) Rookie was a liability in the field, rather anemic at getting on base, scoring runs and stealing bases. Maybe Blues are asking too much of him.

Outlook: Who can doubt this team’s heart and desire after seven straight seasons of above .500 baseball? The Post will, we think they’re due for a reality check. The rising talents of their Division-mates are the biggest reason we question the Blues’ ability to stay on top in Season 9.
78-84, No Playoffs.

New Orleans Levee Builders / 87-75 / Wild Card Winner- Lost in 1st Round
Season 8 in Review: For the seventh time in eight seasons, NOLB slugged their way into the playoffs, once again dragging their sub-par pitching staff kicking and screaming all the way. However, season 8 saw slight improvement across the board in the staff’s statistics, allowing 62 less runs and raising overall pitching from 12th to 7th in the NL. The bullpen was especially solid, leading the league in saves with 55 and helping the team to above .500 records in extra inning and one run games; one of only 4 teams in the NL to do so.

MVP: LHP Lon Valdes (4-6, 3.35, 46SV, 6BSV) NL Fireman of the Year.

Underachiever: SS Ken Wynn (.270, 28, 92) Solid defensive SS, but that isn’t why he’s the highest paid SS in the league. Offensive production needs to improve dramatically.

Outlook: Age is becoming a concern with this roster, however their key players are at their prime and this is the season to see a breakthrough.
88-74, NL South Champs

Mexico City Day Laborers / 76-86 / No Playoffs
Season 8 in Review: No team used platooning as effectively as Mexico City last season. One of the youngest clubs in Camp, e_mandat used this season as an extended Spring Training, shaking out his large roster to see who would step up. In the meantime, the results were astonishing, taking a perennial doormat and making them very competitive. MCDL improved by 28 wins between seasons 7 and 8. Not much more needs to be said.

MVP: e_mandat, for having the patience to allow his young team to rise to the occasion.

Underachiever: RHP Davey Romero (9-16, 4.48, 1.25) A bit more is needed from your highest paid player and team leader, even if he is only 25 years old.

Outlook: Look for the Day Laborers to continue coming on strong, and depending on their youngsters’ progress, don’t be surprised if they steal this division.
84-78, Wildcard Winners

Charleston Chews / 61-101 / No playoffs
Season 8 in Review: The team Formerly Known as the Houston Puma Monkeys (???) hit the ball all over the park and finished a very respectable 6th in total offense in the NL. Unfortunately, if not for that beer league softball team masquerading as the Tucson Sands, this pitching staff would have finished last in every single pitching category that is tracked…even balks! Actually quite an amazing feat.

MVP: RHP Alfredo Lopez (10-15, 4.31, 1.38) Best of a bad lot.

Underachiever: Previous front office ran a 96 win team into the ground in 3 seasons. Blech.

Outlook: No relief for the newly minted Charleston Chews fans in the near future, however kudos for moving the franchise from a city like Houston to the very under-rated town of Charleston, SC. Mmmm, Planters Inn Punch….ahhhhh.
Well, we were going to go off on a rant against Houston, Texas here, but we’ve deleted it because we’ve been good about not digressing and don’t want to start now. Houston, good Lord…
57-105, No Playoffs.
NL West

Arizona Thunder Chickens / 104-58 / World Champions
Season 8 in Review: Third Championship in a row and 4th in five years. Ho, hum. The Empire led the league in most offensive categories, was top 2 or 3 in all major pitching stats. Yawn. Oh, by the way, only team in Camp to score 1,000+ runs in each and every season, only franchise to win their division each and every season, only franchise with a 20 game winner in each and every get the idea, we’ll spare you the laundry list of similarly superlative statistics this team has compiled. This just in, The Thunder Chickens were good last year and have been for a long time.

MVP: 2B John Bruske (.335, 41, 151) the straw that stirs the drink.

Underachiever: LHP Jumbo Santiago (3-3, 5.98, 1.42, 7SV, 5BSV) Bribed with a $7 mil salary and brought in to close games, he never could put it together. His 390 appearances and 37 years of age have caught up to him.

Outlook: Maybe we are hoping against hope, but this certainly looks like the year the rest of the NL catches up to the Evil Chicken Empire. The NL West however still has long roads to hoe. Look for an unprecedented 9th division title in a row in Arizona.
98-64, NL West Champs

Honolulu Heart Attacks / 83-79 / No Playoffs
Season 8 in Review: This franchise seemed to be progressing towards challenging Arizona for NL West supremacy, culminating with an unlikely Wild Card berth in season 6. With their minor league talent pool it stood to reason there was nowhere to go but up. Well, that’s why they play the games because Season 8 saw HHA take yet another surprising step backwards. Pitching and batting regressed at least 10% across all major statistics since that season 6, while to a man, every key player had sub-par seasons compared to their history and ability…very demoralizing for Heart Attack fans. Actually with the performance they had last season, their nickname makes a whole lot more sense.

MVP: 3B Emmanuel McCartin (.277, 21, 81, .845OPS), NL Silver Slugger winner at third base.

Underachiever: 3B Emmanuel McCartin (.277, 21, 81), Still with his talent and salary, McCartin needs to give the team much more.

Outlook: The talent is there on both sides to pick up where they left off 2 seasons ago, but the Post feels other NL powers will keep them down yet again.
85-77, No Playoffs, but very close.

Seattle Grunge / 68-94 / No Playoffs
Season 8 in Review: A very good pitching staff was sabotaged by a lineup that could not score runs, finishing the season in the bottom four in every major offensive category. If a 17-26 record in one run games wasn’t painful enough, the Grunge were outscored in their 94 losses by an average of less than 2.5 runs per game. No team suffered more tough losses.

MVP: RHP Emmanuel Guerrero (0-3, 4.36, 1.15, 30SV, 5BSV), as close as you could get to a guaranteed save in Camp.

Underachiever: LF Brian Masato (.253, 34, 99) Brought in midway through the season at a steep price to add needed punch to the lineup. His stats with Seattle tell the story, (.214, 7, 24… in 231PA). Yikes.

Outlook: If the offense doesn’t pick up, a staff full of Don Bale clones would be hard pressed to carry this club to a winning record. AS of press time, cloning remains illegal.
65-97, No Playoffs.

Tucson Sands / 32-130 / No playoffs
Season 8 in Review: Not a very good season, I’m afraid. Tucson pitching in particular was less than effective, setting records for futility in just about every statistical category. Go take a look, it’s something to see actually. We’ll wait…

MVP: Popcorn vendor Stan Stugots. Stan sold a record 16,005 total units at Tucson Electric Park during the season.

Underachiever: The Tucson Sands

Outlook: We are reminded of the great USC coach John McKay, while coaching the Tampa Bay Bucs to a record 14th straight loss, he was asked what he thought of his team’s execution. He replied, “I am all for it.” Another great McKay quote that is appropriate here, "After a 51-0 loss to Notre Dame I told the team, 'Forget it. There are 700 million people in China who didn't know anything about it.' The next day, a guy called me from China and asked 'What happened, Coach?'".
40-122, No Playoffs but plenty of good draft picks.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


(New York, NY) Continung our series previewing Camp Season 9, let's take a look at the National League; home of three time defending Champions The Arizona Thunder Chickens.

NL North

Toronto Greased-Up Deaf Guys / 112-50 / NL North Champs
Season 8 in Review: Arguably the most complete and well-rounded team in Camp, and certainly the best team named after a Family Guy recurring character, Toronto is poised (finally!) to de-throne the Chicken Empire and represent the National League this season. TGUDG finished in the top 2 or 3 in every major pitching and offensive category last season, indicative of their dominant play throught the regular season. There is no weakness to be found on this club, something that cannot be said for any other squad in the National League. Toronto has a bad habit of coming up small in the post-season and another flame-out this time around would certainly trigger profound changes up and down the organization.

MVP: 1B Jim Drese (.351BA, 55HRs, 144RBIs) Drese had a career year and ran away with NL MVP voting.

Underachiever: LHP Juan Piedra (17 wins – 7 losses, 3.99ERA, 1.35WHIP). His post-season effort was piss-poor really, as was that of the entire staff…except His Majesty, Don Bale.

Outlook: The Post is betting this is the year they get the Chicken monkey off their back and power through to win it all.
110-52, World Champs!

Milwaukee Bondsmen / 86-76 / No Playoffs
Season 8 in Review: Milwaukee is the Goldilocks of Camp, not too hot, not too cold; consistently above average, yet never able to put together a breakthrough performance. Milwaukee fans are more than restless at this point as the franchise has finished 1st or 2nd in the division in each of the last eight seasons, made the playoffs in six of those eight, yet never advanced farther than the LCS. Unfortunately, last season was a step backward as the stats reflect this team slightly regressed in every aspect of the game; out of the top 5 in offense and pitching and into the middle of the pack.

MVP: RHP Jim Cepicky (11-4, 3.79, 1.28), The veteran proved to be the stopper of the rotation last season.

Underachiever: 2B Stan Presley (.271, 21, 66), the time is now for Presley to step up and meet the club’s high expectations.

Outlook: Easy team to handicap, as they have been since season one. Look for another above average season with an outside shot at a wild card berth.
84-78, Wild Card Winners

New York Bulldogs / 86-76 / No Playoffs
Season 8 in Review: This club took a real step in the right direction last season; primarily by improving their pitching staff across the board. Ranked 12th in total pitching in Season 7, the staff motored up to 4th ranked last season, by far the best improvement in the league. Offensively, not much to write home about, finishing near the bottom in all major categories. If not for Robinson, this club would be a real lightweight.

MVP: 1B Matty Robinson (.320, 62, 146), one of the all-time great sluggers turned in another strong performance. Money!

Underachiever: The rest of the starting lineup, who collectively averaged a paltry .247BA, 14HRs with 40RBIS. Yikes.

Outlook: Depending on how jway addresses the issues on offense, the pitching is there to make a push into the playoffs. The move to pitcher friendly Shea Stadium won’t help their anemic hitting however.
81-81, No Playoffs.

Chicago Cubs / 73-89 / No playoffs
Season 8 in Review: The hiccup that was Season 7 seems to have been just that as Chicago returned to respectability with a strong offensive output and slight but effective pitching progress throughout Season 8. Young arms developed out of that nightmare the previous season and into dependable pitchers, while the offense slugged along bashing homers at a 240 clip, good for 3rd in the NL.

MVP: RHP “Lights Out” Larry Chambers (3-1, 2.67, 33 Saves, 3BSV), “Lights Out” was one of the best closers in baseball last season anchoring a strong bullpen.

Underachiever: LF Yorvit Morales (.262, 4, 27), never recovered from early nerve irritation and a long stint on the DL. Despite clean bills of health from team doctors, he was slow to return and played without inspiration when he did. Rumors were the bad start Chicago got off to was enough to convince him to shut it down altogether. Not a good example from one of your supposed team leaders.

Outlook: We like Chicago to continue improving on the mound and to continue pounding the ball, but they are most likely still one or two seasons away from challenging the Torontos and Arizonas of the League.
78-84, No Playoffs.
NL East

Tampa Bay Boozers / 100-62 / NL East Champs
Season 8 in Review: Another NL powerhouse franchise finished a hard-charging regular season with another failed effort at getting that Chicken monkey off its back. It’s difficult to fathom this squad has been to one LCS in eight years and even harder to believe they are 0-4 in playoff series against the hated Thunder Chickens while rolling over and dying to a combined 4-13 record in those series. Season 8 was once again a clinical display of TB pitching, highlighted by a remarkable Team ERA of 3.79! Best Save%, Best WHIP, most CGs, most shutouts…yada, yada. Offensively, a very potent 4th Overall. Nevertheless, thanks again to the Evil Chicken Empire, Boozer officials and their fans cannot be pleased with the season.

MVP: RHP Karl Piersoll (25-7, 2.93, 1.10) Unlike the GMs of the league who couldn’t decide between Piersoll and teammate Abdul Wallace in last season’s Cy Young voting, we here at the Post unanimously agree ties are for Communists.

Underachiever: LHP Matt Adams (23-7, 2.95, 1.12), With a post-season ERA hovering near 6 and the Boozers losing all 3 of his starts, you can’t help but scratch your head at that type of performance.

Outlook: Tampa Bay has without a doubt all the tools in place for a Title run. But they need to put up or shut up at this point... until then the Post is unconvinced.
105-57, NL East Champs

Scranton Coal Miners / 90-72 / Wild Card Winner- Lost in 2nd Round
Season 8 in Review: You could see this club building to something special for several seasons now and Season 8 seems to have been the coming out party for this young franchise. Key signings during spring training finally got them over the hump and into the playoffs for the first time in team history. The bullpen deserves special mention as they led the league in holds, one run game victories with 29, as well as extra inning win% with a 12-4 record.

MVP: RHP Bill Appier (16-8, 2.86, 1.06) A #1 in every sense of the term.

Underachiever: LF Alvin Alexander (.262, 30, 74), For a talent like Alexander, he needs to show more at the plate, especially with RISP. Has been a slight liability in the field as well, combine that with a 30 HR and only 74 RBI performance…and it all reflects poorly on his concentration level.

Outlook: A team nucleus that is hitting its prime, strong pitching and improving defense all add up to another playoff run for the Miners.
92-70, Wild Card Winners

Augusta Pounders/ 86-76 / No Playoffs
Season 8 in Review: Augusta joins a long line of Camp franchises where age has become a real concern. Up and down the roster you find starters 30 years and older, and to a man their best years seem behind them. The stats bear this out as the club has inexorably slid down the offensive statistics. Over the last four seasons: Augusta was 1st, 4th, 5th and last season 12th in the NL for total offense. The pitching remains strong but there again, age is showing throughout the rotation. For the first time in club history the staff allowed as many HRs (210) as the lineup hit.

MVP: 1B Edgar Pantiagua (.296, 50, 119), we can’t have an Augusta Pounder MVP and it not be a homerun hitter, right?

Underachiever: 3B Monte Fisher (.274, 13, 75), Those numbers will not do from a middle of the lineup stalwart like Fisher with a high-end salary. Age may finally be catching up with him.

Outlook: It seems the jig is up for The Pounders, with an aging roster and one of the worst farm systems in Camp. The club’s minor league win % was .250 as it was obviously barren of ML prospects at any level. There are no ‘hot minor league prospects’ that GM’s love to trade for when attempting a quick fix nor is there anyone down on the farm that is ready for primetime. A frightening combination for the front office.
75-87, No Playoffs

Atlanta Regulators / 80-82 / No playoffs
Season 8 in Review: If you enjoy watching games with final scores of 11 to 9 and cheering for towering homeruns as they arc gracefully out of ballparks, then we recommend going to see this team play…because you’ll see plenty of long bombs from both teams during Atlanta baseball games. All or nothing is the name of their game and they hit long homeruns as well as anyone. Season 8 saw the Regulators explode for 265 round trippers, good for 2nd in the NL. Pitching on the other hand was a big disappointment as they could never address the gaping holes found all over their staff. It was “Stuart and Lincoln, and pray for rain” as the rest of the club gave up hits and walks like little leaguers. No other club had such a disparity between offensive success and pitching issues such as Atlanta last season.

MVP: 1B “High Flying” Eric Flier (.279, 65, 148), You’ll find Flier’s picture in Webster’s under the entry ‘slugger’.

Underachiever: RF R.J. Sheffield (.225, 19, 70), unacceptable effort from an everyday starter, let alone one with the potential this youngster has.

Outlook: With the questions this club has on the pitching staff, you can’t help but see them falling back to the pack this season. With all due respect to the talented sluggers they have, no one ever won consistently as a one dimensional team.
68-94, No Playoffs.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


(New York, NY) Continuing with our series on Camp Baseball Franchise Previews, we finish off the American League.
AL South

Austin Chin Music / 108 wins – 54 losses / AL South Champs
Season 8 in Review: The perennial AL South Champs were a bit of a disappointment last season, regardless of their record. The Season 7 Runners-up were universally expected to be building towards their first Championship in 6 seasons; however they were ignominiously bounced in the 2nd round by Louisville. Needless to say that went over like a lead zeppelin in Central Texas as the entire coaching staff has yet to be given new contracts for this season. Nevertheless the pitching staff deserves special mention for their tremendous regular season; the entire starting rotation was selected for the All-Star game, led the league in all major categories and was for the most part lights out all year, until the playoffs.

MVP: RHP Rafael Osuna (19 wins -8 losses, 3.17 ERA, 1.10 WHIP) Take your pick of anyone from the rotation, the envy of 31 other franchises.

Underachiever: 1B Fritz Galliard (.301BA, 41HRs, 124RBI). Nitpicking to be sure, but Galliard once again came up small when it mattered most, the post-season. He needs to step up in October if Chin Music is to be heard in the World Series again.

Outlook: No team in Camp has more of a stranglehold on their division than ACM. Hell, a division title is a forgone conclusion when you look around the AL South... the rest of the teams ran for the hills and are starting over in new cities. Despite the post-season collapse, all the pieces are in place for another title run, no question. Heart and desire are all that is up in the air with this club.
100-62, AL South Champs yet again.

Richmond Cavaliers / 77-85 / No Playoffs
Season 8 in Review: Any team mired in the same division as the Chin Music has to take their moral victories where they can, and for Florida/Richmond, Season 8 qualifies. What looked to be a franchise on the skids rebounded skillfully... especially down the stretch, which certainly bodes well for the upcoming campaign. Pitching was the strength of this team as the then Florida Breeze scored in the top 5 in the AL for all major pitching categories highlighted by a tie for the league lead for least HRA. The offense by contrast was offensive, near the basement in all major categories with a troublesome knack for running themselves out of innings, being caught stealing an incredible 133 times for an abominable 59% success rate!

MVP: RHP “Starvin’” Marvin Stevens (13-6, 3.43, 1.26) Strong #1 who is another Comeback Player of the Year candidate.

Underachiever: RHP Dezi Guzman (12-18, 3.96, 1.43) They need more from Guzman if Richmond is to challenge for a playoff birth.

Outlook: Things seem to be heading in the right direction for this club. That being said the previous ownership group and coaching staff were still bounced out of town along with the entire franchise. Goodbye South Beach, hello…Richmond? Perhaps with fewer distractions the Cavs will make even greater strides in Season 9.
75-87, No Playoffs

Kansas City Monarchs / 65-97 / No Playoffs
Season 8 in Review: A franchise that had some real promise 3 seasons ago took a serious turn for the worse in Season 8. Take your pick of weaknesses; starting pitching, power hitting, speed, defense and a bullpen, yikes…borderline catastrophic! The team from Little Rock had little to show for their efforts, their fans had little to cheer about and their attendance dwindled little by little as the season ground interminably on. Pitching was uniquely poor, finishing last or 2nd to last in every major category…but that bullpen surrendered games at a heartbreaking rate. Some brutal numbers, 5-12 in extra innings, 19-28 in one run games!

MVP: 3B Will Kennedy (.308, 20, 83) All you need to know about the Ballers season last year is summed up in the fact Kennedy was traded midway through the season to Tacoma, and he still shook out as the team MVP at the end.

Underachiever: The entire bullpen. Period.

Outlook: New name; KC Monarchs, new front office; welcome dougiefresh, same roster. Sometimes you need to tear down in order to build anew.
60-102, No Playoffs in the foreseeable future.

Louisville Legends / 53-109 / No playoffs
Season 8 in Review: A real shit sandwich.

MVP: Please.

Underachiever: Take your pick, but to be fair this team talent-wise was a AAA club last year.

Outlook: Nowhere to go but up! The baseball fans in Louisville are in for a real shock after witnessing eight years of the Flame Throwers. We will say this, there are some youngsters in the Louisville system with some real potential, but the new owners will need to spend some money and surround them with a modicum of talent to at least work towards being competitive in the future. The journey of a thousand miles starts with one step and this club is looking at a long march back to respectability.
55-107, more of the same in the near term.

AL West

San Francisco Slumpbusters / 95 - 67 / AL West Champs
Season 8 in Review: This talented club has been unable to advance in the post-season going on three seasons now, once again losing in upset fashion in the 2nd round to a very beatable opponent. We’ll say it; the Slumpbusters are in a real post-season slump. Season 8 certainly had its share of highlights however, as the top rotation in the league this side of ACM dominated lineups all season long, racking up stat totals across the board second only to the wunderkinds in Austin. The offense was pedestrian at times but still finished top 6 in runs scored and led the league in steal % and triples.

MVP: RHP Skeeter Duncan (20-8, 2.85, 1.06) AL Cy Young winner, we cannot argue that.

Underachiever: 3B Alex Stone (.257, 19, 87) Took a real step backwards from Season 7 and his inability to carry some of the offensive weight hurt the team badly and Hayes McBride in particular. His number's reflected this especially down the stretch and in the playoffs.

Outlook: Did SF miss their opportunity? The pitching staff is on the wrong side of 30 now and it is hard to imagine getting a better performance from them than the tremendous one just turned in last season. Defending the title of arguably the toughest Division in the AL with the fact Portland and LV are coming on real strong is certainly ominous for the Slumpbusters and their rabid followers.
90-72, AL West Winners

Portland Salmon Kings / 89-73 / Lost in 1st Round of Playoffs
Season 8 in Review: A breakthrough performance for the Kings was highlighted by their first playoff appearance in five seasons. Portland slugged their way to the playoffs, finishing 2nd or 3rd in HRs, SLG%, Runs and extra base hits. One glaring concern all season was the wildly inconsistent bullpen, which finished leading the league in win % in one run games but had one of the worst blown save %. The biggest highlight of course was fan favorite and League MVP…

MVP: 1B/DH Julian Juarez (.296, 70, 158) Juarez won more games single handedly than any other position player in Camp last season.

Underachiever: LHP Homer Baker (1-3, 5.66, 20SV, 9BSV) The youngster has to step it up to be a full time closer in this league.

Outlook: The offense will do its thing again this year but the pitching staff will need to improve, especially in the bullpen. Consistency is key and like many teams in Camp, Portland’s bullpen is a glaring liability entering Season 9.
83-79, No Playoffs, victim of their tough division.

Las Vegas Gamblers / 86-76 / No Playoffs
Season 8 in Review: The good news, LV has gotten consistently better each of the past three seasons. The bad news, the AL West has gotten progressively tougher each of the past three seasons, to the point where it is unquestionably the toughest in the league. This is evidenced by 3 straight third place finishes and three straight years on the outside of the playoffs looking in. The strength of the team and reason for its success all season was a resilient and effective bullpen which led the league in saves at 53. In fact the club had no real weaknesses to speak of last season, turning in average to above average statistics across the board, except for a poor SB%.

MVP: 3B Benny Marrero (.310, 39, 310) Only Finalist for Season 8 AL MVP to win a Gold Glove, a Silver Slugger and to start the All-Star game. LV has the makings of a monster lineup this season with Marrero anchoring a young powerhouse of talent, if he re-signs!

Underachiever: RHP Slim Herrera (9-12, 5.47, 1.49) Another overpaid, underperforming #1 starter. LV needs more if they are to make a playoff run this season.

Outlook: Young squad looks to improve on a good season by maintaining consistency in the bullpen and bringing along their young sluggers to the starting lineup. Look for some early fireworks from them! The rotation is a concern coming into this season as free agency and injury have taken a toll, combined with unproven talent down on the farm.
We see one step back this season in order to take two steps forward in the near future.
80-82, No Playoffs for now.

Albuquerque Angry Drunks / 79-83 / No playoffs
Season 8 in Review: The archetype “Franchise in Decline”. This former playoff stalwart has seen better days with Season 8 by far their worst effort in franchise history. Let us count the ways this past season was brutal for them; first season not making the playoffs, first season without a Cy Young candidate, first season without a legitimate MVP candidate and first season without a power hitter in the middle of the lineup. Last season the pitching was just as consistent as the season before but the offense really fell off. A glaring lack of power cost them this time around as they finished at or near the bottom in all the power categories; HRs, SLG%, extra base hits and OPS. The front office seemed unaware that this league is a power league and that is how teams score these days. Station to station baseball is a novel idea but it just did not pan out for Tacoma/Albuquerque at all.

MVP: RHP Tony James (15-7, 3.98, 1.36) Has been a consistently excellent #1 starter since the day he arrived in Camp.

Underachiever: Tacoma Front Office. The inability or unwillingness to replace Escuela, Parnell and Leon from the middle of that lineup proved poisonous to their chances, and remain so going into this season.

Outlook: Age issues, fading superstars, a lack of power hitters and a bloated payroll would be a concern in any division. In the AL West it means real trouble and a one way ticket to the basement. The long goodbye continues for this once proud franchise. Perhaps the time seems to have come to rebuild and start over.
70-92, No Playoffs.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

(New York, NY) As Opening Day draws closer and Spring Training gears up, we'll start breaking down each division and give you a primer of the franchises and their outlook for Season Nine.

AL North

Syracuse Sicilians / 94 wins – 68 losses / Division Winner, lost in First Round
Season 8 in Review: This club won its division last year with the old smoke and mirrors; feasting on fellow division mates to the tune of 21 wins versus 9 losses while relying on some clutch power hitting and one of the AL’s most consistent bullpens. The Team Formerly Known as The Ditkas finished as one of only two AL teams above .500 to outpace its Exp Win %.

MVP: RHP Bob Daly, (1 wins-3 losses, 4.19 ERA, 35 Saves); Closer Daly is the reason this club had the best record in the AL in one run games at 22-16.

Underachiever: CF Stew Adams (.241 BA, 14HRs, 58RBIs); Much more is expected from a middle of the lineup hitter with the salary to match.

Outlook: Left the confines of Chicago for the even less pleasant weather of Syracuse, NY. A team that finished in the middle of the American League pack in every important Team Statistic except wins should expect to come back to earth a bit.
82-80, just short of a wildcard berth.

Hartford Minutemen / 89-73 / Wild Card Winner, lost in ALCS
Season 8 in Review: An extremely successful season anyway you slice it for the Guys with P.E. They were certainly winning when it counted down the stretch, especially at Welch Park where the Home Cooking led to a .605 Win %. No secret to their success as they led the league in most every offensive category, including: Team BA, HRs, SLG, and OPS.

MVP: C Terrance Malone (.323, 36, 92); The catalyst that kept the Hartford Scoring Machine humming.

Underachiever: 2B J.D. Cromer (.279, 21, 68); Pedestrian numbers from a career .310BA/.380 OBP player.

Outlook: Last season’s playoff run is just prelude. Expect more of the same from this clutch, hard hitting club.
90-72, AL North Champs

Montreal Alouettes / 74-88 / No playoffs
Season 8 in Review: You could hear mikeg screaming from one corner of North America to the other, “Some pitching, some pitching! My Kingdom for some pitching!” A good offensive ballclub was sold out by an overly generous pitching staff. Generous to the tune of 247 HRs allowed! They were minus 55 in HR/HRA, a glaring weakness that proved fatal after the All-Star break as arms became more fatigued.

MVP: LHP Warren Kearns (5-5, 3.64, 25 Saves); A lone bright spot in an otherwise forgetful campaign for the Montreal staff; candidate for Comeback Player of the Year.

Underachiever: RHP Pascual Mendoza (10-11, 5.40, 1.51 WHIP). Paid like a #1, pitched like #2.

Outlook: Budget analysis shows mikeg focusing on the future, unfortunately the future is not Season 9 for this club.
70-92, No Playoffs

D’troit Tagers / 53-109 / No playoffs
Season 8 in Review: This team struggled from Day One, but GM nalleyjohn certainly did not sit idly by, functioning as a one team clearing house for a good 65% of the trade market last season. No trade inquiry was turned away, no plausible deal turned down. Meanwhile the turnover did nothing to improve the club in the short term. D’troit finished last in the AL in every major offensive category and tied for the most losses.

MVP: RHP Galahad Lee (4-10, 4.05, 35 Saves); in fact the bullpen was better than average most of the year, however no one was in town long enough to make much of an impact.

Underachiever: 2B Joaquin Cortez (.272, 15, 68). Needs to show more patience and discipline at the plate. Suffering from a call-up too early in his career.

Outlook: Nalleyjohn has a great deal of room under the cap and plenty of good draft choices so the future is bright. Tagers can make strides this season if the starting pitching can keep the ball in the park and the middle of the order can start putting the ball out of the park.
65-97, No Playoffs
AL East

New York City Athletics / 82 wins – 80 losses / No Playoffs
Look for NY Post’s In Depth preview of the hometown club later this week!

Toledo Flame Throwers / 91-71 / AL Champs, lost the World Series in 6 games
Season 8 in Review: The Flame Throwers finally played to their expectations and proceeded to steal and slug their way into the World Series. Throwing off the shackles of their hated oppressors to the north, The Athletics, the FT’s had consistency in every facet of the game last year, placing at or near the top in all major offensive and pitching categories… even setting a Camp record for total stolen bases along the way. Only the juggernaut Thunder Chickens denied mileininger of a truly transcendent season.

MVP: With all due respect to 21 game winner Gerald Wilkins, SS Rico Diaz (.315BA, 33HRs, 123 RBIS, 75 SBs) was arguably the League MVP last season.

Underachiever: LHP Nick Castillo (9 wins – 14 losses, 5.40 ERA, 34 HRA) Startling numbers on a club such as this from the Minor League phenom who was perhaps rushed into service a bit early.

Outlook: Their time is now.
98-64, AL Champions

Rochester Royals / 78-84 / No Playoffs
Season 8 in Review: A surprising and disappointing step backwards from the Royals in Season 8, as their potent lineup could not keep pace with the slugging performance the staff was allowing. They were simply out hit all season long as a re-tooled starting rotation never delivered on its potential. What was building over the past few seasons and had the promise of a strong crescendo took a turn for the worse when the starting staff hit a slump they could not recover from, allowing almost an earned run more per start after the All-Star break.

MVP: LHP Eric Cobb (0-2, 2.01, 26 Saves in 27 Opportunities) Arguably the best closer in the AL last year, when given the opportunity.

Underachiever: RHP Andrew Crede (12-12, 5.56 ERA, 1.48 WHIP) Not numbers to brag about as a #1 starter, but indicative of the entire rotation.

Outlook: Perhaps more of an enigma than any other AL club, showed flashes last season and certainly has potential in that lineup; however they will go only as far as yet another retooled staff takes them.
75-87, No Playoffs

Trenton RoadRunners / 67-95 / No playoffs
Season 8 in Review: The rebuilding continues on the East bank of the Delaware River, as yet another step in the right direction has been taken by Trenton. The label ‘Perennial Doormat of the AL’ can no longer be hung on this team as it improved in every major statistical category by at least 15 percent. This was no better illustrated by their remarkable bullpen saving a team record 49 games to finish 2nd in the AL in that department. This well travelled club can be proud of its best performance since a 70 win 3rd Season.

MVP: RHP Lefty Browne (4-4, 2.38, 44 Saves) Young fireballer was a revelation this season.

Underachiever: SS Ross Marshall (.285, 28, 82, 34 Errors) More is required from a team leader like Marshall, especially with the glove.

Outlook: Who is going to argue with the progress from Season 7 to 8? If rocket can continue to make strides with the rotation, sure up the fielding and improve hitting with RISP, no worries!
72-90, No Playoffs…yet.



(Phoenix, AZ) Another season, another Championship for Colonel Colson and his Thunder Chicken Empire. After dispatching the Louisville Flame Throwers in six games to secure an unprecedented 'three-peat' and fourth Camp title in six seasons, one would think the fans and media in this desert oasis would take a moment to bask in their team's success and revel at their complete domination over these last few seasons.

Well you thought wrong.

Questions about age, contract disputes and tell-all exposes' have been this city's focus since the final out of the Season Eight Series. Local media types seem to be anxious to (finally) write-off this dynasty, as a constant barrage of articles and opinion pieces exclaiming the demise of this franchise has saturated the presses and airwaves from Winslow to Yuma.

Those closest to the situation have concerns, do they know something the rest of the league has yet to appreciate?

Age is certainly a question with more than half of Arizona's ML roster over the age of 34 with the pitching staff especially long in the tooth.

There is no secret about clubhouse grumblings from some Arizona players about low-ball contract offers and hardline re-negotiation tactics. The gravy train they had been used to is certainly over. Colonel Colson, after years of Steinbrenner-esque spending, has put a clamp on salaries going forward. The state of the franchise's budget (a whopping $118 million entering this season) and their salary-cap inflexibility is a serious concern for the entire front office. They are clearly hamstrung by their long-term deals and any serious injury this coming season could prove disasterous.

Throw into this volitle mix scathing tell-all "autobiographies" from the team leaders, Earl "Satchel Page" Gabriel and Felipe "The Bat" Abreu and what the Thunder Chickens have entering Season 9 is nothing short of a circus-like atmosphere.

Whether all this factors into the collapse of Camp's first bona fide dynasty, or just proves to be fuel for their collective fire is anyone's guess. You can count on this however; Thunder Chicken baseball will be as interesting as ever this season. The proverbial head that wears the crown may rest uneasy, yet the fact remains it has been three full seasons since any team has been able to solve what rival media outlets have labeled 'Colonel Colson and his Evil Chicken Empire' and thirty-one franchises are still looking for the answer.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Mo' money, mo' imports

This season's international market provided hope for the future to many franchises. Almost half of Camp budgeted to spend at least $20 million on prospects this season meaning that every worthwhile international prospect discovery sparked a bidding war. As the season begins to wind down and teams unload what's left of their prospect budget, let's take a look at the top international signings in what has been another strong market in season 8.

Richard Jiang (SS) - Tucson Sands (MILB w/invite, $26.1 million bonus)
One season after forking over a whopping $32.2 million for Miguel Siquieros, Tucson again spent far more than any other team when they locked up Jiang for a shade over $26 million. Jiang projects to be a gold glove caliber 3B if that's where he ends up, though he could hold his own at second base as well. The switch hitter isn't too shabby with a bat either as he is excellent at making contact and excels against righties. Already 22-years-old, Jiang isn't far from his major league debut. ETA: season 9 roster expansion
David Johnson (SP) - Atlanta Regulators (4-yrs @ 55K per, $16.3 million bonus)
Probably the most over-paid player in this year's market, Johnson is tough on both righties and lefties and a very good slider and curveball. The problem is his control as Johnson, as one GM put it, has the ability to plunk the guy in the on-deck circle while he's on the mound. Having only those two pitches (he does also have a far below average change-up) could pose a problem once he gets to the ML level, so Johnson may be better off coming out of the bullpen eventually. But Atlanta didn't want to take the chance of having to lose their prospect money, so they emptied the bank for Johnson who, in the end, will probably be a serviceable long relief guy. ETA: season 11 roster expansion.

Virgil Reyes (SP) - Tampa Bay Boozers (5-yrs @ 55k per, $15.1 million bonus)
The Boozers made the franchise's first big splash in the international market this season when they snagged starter Virgil Reyes from the Dominican with a 5-year big league deal. Reyes projects to have excellent control and great success against righties, though he may struggle against lefties from time to time. Reyes' great control goes well with his three above average pitches, a 4-seam fastball (with great velocity), a slider and a splitter. Reyes also has a circle change and a curve but isn't nearly as effective with them. At 20-years-old, Reyes will be a solid middle of the rotation starter sooner than you think. ETA: season 10 roster expansion.

Jose Alicea (SP) - Montreal Alouettes (5-yrs @ 327k per, $13.4 million bonus)
Montreal hauled in a future big league starter when they signed Alicea to a five year major league deal. The big 6'3" lefty has great control and an elite sinker to go with a good slider and curveball. Alicea will struggle at times, more with righties than lefties but if his control and pitches develop he could overcome the shortcomings in his splits. With great makeup and good health, Alicea will be a solid major league starter for Montreal once he develops. ETA: season 12.

Oswaldo Alomar (SP) - Seattle Grunge (5-yrs @ 327k per, $12.5 million bonus)
In a market full of starting pitching, Seattle got theirs when they signed Alomar to a big league deal. Alomar comes with a bit of a health concern but boasts excellent stamina, good control, a good sinker and is effective against righties. On the flip side, he'll struggle against lefties and, aside from the sinker, the only other pitch worth mentioning in is repertoire is a decent splitter. He's only 18-years-old and has a chance to exceed projections if he can stay healthy. If he does that, he'll be a solid major league starter. ETA: season 12

Jin-Che Masato (3B) - Hartford Minutemen (MILB, $12.3 million bonus)
Position players who command big money have been few and far between this season but Hartford signed a solid bat in Masato. He's probably destined for RF when he reaches the majors but Masato projects to have great power and hitting ability against right handers. His batting eye leaves a bit to be desired but other wise he's solid in the rest of the offensive categories. Health shouldn't be an issue and Masato has very good durability. As long as he develops Hartford should get their money's worth. ETA: season 12

Harry DeLeon (SP) - Trenton RoadRunners (MILB, $11.5 million bonus)
DeLeon may have the best pitches of any international pitcher signed this season. He has two great pitches (sinker and slider) to go with a good curve and an above average change up. He also has a cutter but it's not nearly of the same quality as his other pitches. He projects to have great control and solid L/R splits. Only 18-years-old and with great makeup he should reach his projections and become a very good ML starter for Trenton down the road. ETA: season 12 roster expansion

Quilvio Marichal (SP) - Scranton Coal Miners (MILB, $11.2 million bonus)
Much like Atlanta, Scranton emptied the bank instead of taking the risk of being stuck with the rest of their prospect money. They ponied up for Marichal who looks like he'll be a big inning eater at the ML level. Aside from his excellent stamina, Marichal has good control to go with a good sinker and cutter. He does project to have above average splits but health could be a minor concern. His biggest asset is that, at 21-years-old, he's very close to already meeting his projections and with a couple of seasons of good coaching at the minor league level he could possibly exceed them. Only having two good pitches however may mean bullpen duty at the ML level. ETA: season 11
Those are the big money internationals so far this season. Stay tuned for a list of under the radar bargain internationals from season 8.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Thurman conquers Home Run Derby

Louisville Flame Throwers' 2B Curt Thurman took home this year's Home Run Derby title, crushing a total of 27 home runs in the three round contest, edging out New Orleans Jerome Martin 8-7 in the final round. Thurman hit 12 home runs in the first round to advance to round two where he tallied seven dingers to reach the finals.

The biggest of the big flies belonged to Julian Juarez who crushed his seventh home run in the first round an astounding 530 feet over the left centerfield wall. Juarez finished third with 17 home runs.

Rounding out the event were Tampa Bay's Otis Parent who finished fourth with 12 home runs, Arizona's John Bruske (5), Philadelphia's Carlos Sanchez (4), Las Vegas' Benny Marrero (3) and New York's Matty Robinson (3).

Curt Thurman
Flame Throwers
Age: 28B/T: R/R
Born: Queens Village, NY
Position(s): 2B/1B/LF/DH
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

If the playoffs started today...

We've reached the All-Star break so it's time to take a look at how the playoffs would shape up if they started today and we'll compare that with pvc4twenty's predictions.

National League
PVC's picks:
Tampa Bay
New Orleans

If the playoffs started today:
Tampa Bay

Pretty close. Memphis leads New Orleans by four games in the South but the Cubbies are a long way from a playoff spot with their 42-49 record. They're currently nine back of Scranton for the final wild card spot and 21 back of Toronto in the North.

American League
PVC's picks:
San Francisco

If the playoffs started today:
Las Vegas
San Francisco

PVC did say he doesn't know much about the American League which was his reasoning for only picking four teams. While he's correct on three to this point, Philadelphia has had its share of struggles this season. But even with a sub-.500 record, the Athletics are still in the playoff hunt, just four games back of the Slumpbusters for the final wild card spot.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Powell inks deal with Mex City

The number two overall pick in this year's amateur draft has ended the suspense. Independence High School pitcher Charles Powell signed a deal with the Mexico City Day Laborers that will pay him a $3.91 million bonus. His signing means that the only top ten picks left to sign a contract with their teams are Charlie Clark, taken 7th overall by Houston, and Dan Berry, taken with the 10th overall pick by Florida. Clark is demanding a $7.5 million bonus but is leaning towards college either way while Berry is looking for a shade over $3 million.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Day Laborers waiting on Powell

The Tucson Sands locked up their number one pick when they signed 3B/OF Ray Hawkins out of Orange County Community College shortly after taking him number one overall in the season 8 amateur draft. But the Mexico City Day Laborers are in a different, yet familiar situation with their number one pick.

Mexico City selected Independence High School pitcher Charles Powell with the second overall pick in this year's draft but Powell has yet to sign a contract. This comes one season after Mexico City engaged in long contract negotiations with number one overall pick Ken Holbert, who eventually signed with the team after an 11 day (real life days, not HBD days) holdout. Holbert received an $8 million bonus from Mexico City, almost double the amount of the next closest draftee bonus.

Powell is currently demanding a shade under $4 million as a bonus and while Mexico City GM e_mandat has confirmed the team has made an offer meeting his demands, Powell is now debating whether to sign with the Day Laborers or attend college. It's been four days since the draft and only time will tell what Powell will decide but the Day Laborers would much rather have him playing and working on his development right now rather than sitting at home.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The mystique of Trace Olson

Not everyone lives up to their expectations but when there are high expectations and high ratings, especially of a pitcher, many teams will give that player a chance. Trace Olson has never produced at the ML level like his ratings suggest he could but there are plenty of teams willing to give him a shot, as evidenced by his trade history.

Olson was the number one overall pick in the season 2 draft by Pittsburgh. Since then he has played in just about every city available in HBD and has been traded four times since the start of season 6. His best ML performance came this season when he posted a 3-2 record and a 4.25 ERA in six starts for Detroit. But when one looks at Olson's projected ratings (88 control, 65/83 splits, 91, 72 pitches, 93 overall) you can't help but wonder why he's become an afterthought.

Perhaps his development was stunted when he was called up to the majors at the ripe age of 20 in season 4. A 13.15 ERA in 4 starts will hamper anyone's confidence. But from season 4 to season 6 Olson showed good improvement while pitchng mostly in AAA before stalling completely after season 6.

Something no team has yet to try is using Olson out of the bullpen. At this point it's readily apparent that Olson is not a front of the roation ML starter. If he can perform like he did in his time with Detroit this season then he can become a solid back of the rotation guy. But with just two noteworthy pitches (one of them an excellent fastball) Olson may be better used out of the bullpen as a setup guy or perhaps even a closer.

Time will tell if Olson's new team, Philadelphia, will attempt to reincarnate Trace as a reliever but if you're still waiting for the former number one overall pick to come around as a starter, that train has left the station. And hey, if Olson doesn't work out in Philly, there will be another GM willing to give him a chance in another city.

Trace Olson
Age: 24B/T: S/R
Born: Tioga Center, NY
Position(s): P (SP2)
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

Friday, April 18, 2008

Amateur Draft: The Number 1's

So, who will be the first player taken in this years amateur draft? Will he be a stud or a bust? As the Tucson Sands prepare to make their selection we take a look back over the history of Camp and check in on the previous #1's.

Season 1 saw the Arizona Thunder Chickens select right handed pitcher, Flash Hammond out of Tupelo High School in Tupelo, MS. Flash Hammond made his ML debut during season 6 and finished his rookie season with a 16-10 record and a 4.03 ERA for the World Champion Thunder Chickens. Season 7 he proved to be even better as he posted a 21-6 record, 3.64 ERA, and made his first All-Star appearance for the back to back World Champions. So far this season Flash boasts a 5-2 record with a 5.17 ERA.

Flash Hammond
Thunder Chickens
Age: 25B/T: R/R
Born: Booneville, MS
Position(s): P (SP3)
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

With the first pick of season 2 the now defunct Pittsburgh Pariahs select right handed pitcher Trace Olson out of Ithaca High School in Ithaca, NY. Trace Olson has yet to live up to the hype of a #1 selection and has been included in trades several times. Trace is hoping this latest trade to the Detroit Detroit Tagers is just what the doctor ordered. In 2 ML seasons Trace has compiled a record of 12-23 with a 6.14 ERA.

Trace Olson
Detroit Tagers
Age: 24B/T: S/R
Born: Tioga Center, NY
Position(s): P (SP2)
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

Season 3 saw the Mexico City Day Laborers select right handed pitcher, Pedro Johnson out of Briggs High School in Columbus, OH. Pedro made his ML debut earlier this season and is currently 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA. During his minor league career he put up some huge numbers. He was 82-19 with a career ERA of 3.05. Pedro looks to be well on his way to a strong ML career.

Pedro Johnson
Mexico City
Day Laborers
Age: 23B/T: R/R
Born: Baltimore, OH
Position(s): P (SP3)
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

Our first true bust of the draft comes during season 4 when the Kansas City Seadogs select left handed flame thrower, Arthur DeRosa from Oceanside, NY. Arthur spurnned the Seadogs and accepted a basketball scholarship from the University of Syracuse. Arthur had a solid college basketball career, winning the National Championship alongside Carmello Anthony and eventually being selected in the NBA draft by the Utah Jazz.


With the first of 3 consecutive #1 selections, and their 4th in the 7 seasons of Camp, the Mexico City Day Laborers select, centerfielder Rob Reese out of the University of Tennessee during season 5. Rob currently plays for Mexico City's AAA affiliate and his batting .346 with 7 HR's and 25 stolen bases. Rob projects to be a strong ML player as he has posted career minor league numbers of .379 with 92 HR's and 104 stolen bases. But we predict Rob will always be known as the player who was selected before Don Bale.

Rob Reese
Mexico City
Day Laborers
Age: 24B/T: L/L
Born: Coyle, OK
Position(s): CF
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

Season 6 once again saw Mexico City with the #1 selection and again they went to college to find another centerfielder as they selected Mateo Sojo out of Dartmouth College. Mateo is currently with the HiA affiliate and is stroking the ball at a
.399 clip with 6 HR's. As Mateo continues to develop he projects to be a strong ML player.

Mateo Sojo
Mexico City
Day Laborers
Age: 24B/T: R/L
Born: Piscataway, NJ
Position(s): CF
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

With the first selection of the season 7 draft the Mexico City Day Laborers select potential all-world 2nd baseman Ken Holbert out of Samford University in Birmingham, AL. Ken too is playing with the HiA affilate and his currently batting .399 with 19 HR's. Ken has superstar written all over him and we look forward to his ML debut in a few seasons.

Ken Holbert
Mexico City
Day Laborers
Age: 23B/T: R/R
Born: Hershey, PA
Position(s): 2B
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

So there you have it. The number 1's of Camp. Tucson is on the clock.