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.

We're going streaking!

Hey honey, do you think KFC is still open? The second longest hitting streak in Camp this season was snapped last night when New Orleans' Johnny Cook failed to collect a hit for the 21st consecutive game, which would have tied the season's longest streak held by Arizona's Charles Perez. Arizona's John Bruske currently holds a 16 game hitting streak, the longest active streak in Camp.
Johnny Cook
New Orleans
Levee Builders
Age: 28B/T: S/R
Born: Gridley, CA
Position(s): CF/CIF/2B/OF/DH
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

Blanco taking the reigns in the desert

As good as Earl Gabriel has been for the Arizona Thunder Chickens throughout his career, pitcher Orlando Blanco has been even better so far this season. Blanco leads the majors in wins with 8 while posting a 1.80 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP in his 10 starts this season.

Gabriel also has totaled 8 wins to this point in the season but the rest of his numbers are a far cry from season 7 (though to be fair, that was one of the most ridiculous seasons ever). He is currently flirting with the worst ERA of his career, but at 3.44, who's going to complain? Not colson55555. The Arizona GM did make Gabriel available for trade after season 6, before deciding to hold onto him. At 37-years-old and with his numbers on the decline (even if they still are ace material) it will be interesting to see what the Thunder Chickens do with Gabriel at the end of the season. With Blanco stepping up and Jimmy Donovan and Flash Hammond behind him in the rotation, only time will tell if Gabriel's days in the desert are numbered.

Orlando Blanco
Thunder Chickens
Age: 32B/T: S/L
Born: Magdalena, MX
Position(s): P (SP2)
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Where are they now?

by M. Blair
(Rikers Island, NYC; April 8th) He blends into the prison population easily, maybe too easily. Tatoos of baseball scenes up and down his arms, a few elbow surgery scars and that permanent snarl highlight an otherwise typical inmate here at the Eric M. Taylor Corrrection Facility, Rikers Island, NYC. Along with that snarl he just has the look of a hard man doing hard time. If I didn't known him like I do I would say Morgan Gibson is the type of man you would not want to run into alone at night.
But I do know this man, very well in fact. Just a few years ago I helped him author a book, The Felon With The Golden Arm (Doubleday Press) an autobiography of his absurdly rough childhood growing up an orphan in one DeKalb, Illinois foster home and juvenile detention center after another. So many in fact he honestly cannot recall all of them. I will spare you the details but feel free to help us both out and go buy the book to get a better understanding of the man. I asked to interview him again today not to make excuses but to find out what has happened to the former 20 game winner and multiple Cy Young candidate of the Philadelphia A's from seasons 2 through 5... and where the man goes from here. Not sure I got any answers however, an enigma he was and an enigma he continues to be.
Gibson's Statistics

Inmate 2245985 is serving one year on a parole violation the details of which revolve around lascivious behavior and an underage prostitution ring. "My bad judgement went and got the best a'me again, damn it all. I am a hostage to my many vices."
He is set to be released next month on a good behavior furlough but he says he may need to get in a fight so he can continue to pitch in the prison playoffs for his Inmate team. He claims Prison baseball is better preperation for the majors than are the Minor Leagues. He can pitch every other day and motivation is not the problem it is on the outside, Gibson claims, because if he does poorly he runs the risk of "getting shivved or cracked on the skull" by angry inmates who may lose a bet or two. Rumor has it the riot here a few years back started over something similar.
Gibson crashed out of the majors as quickly as he arrived, thanks to nagging elbow and shoulder issues that forced him to the surgeon twice in the months following Philadelphia's Season 4 Title, and he hasn't been the same pitcher since. Traded mid-way though Season 5, or "F#*!'n betrayed and back-stabbed by that former manager Brown!" as Gibson puts it, he never went on the DL but for the Rochester Royals he wouldn't have been missed if he had. Success never returned to the former #1 pick. "I lost all my velocity and then I lost confidence in myself, simple as that."
His plan upon release is simple, "I'm going back to Philly to be with you and the A's, Brown is out and I am in...back home baby!" Gibson exclaims. When pressed on contract details his famous snarl quickly returns and he tells me "No worries Mr. Reporter-Man, no worries."
Gibson in better day w/ A's
The A's Front Office continue their "No Comment" mantra when Gibson's availability is brought up. Whether they take a flier on their one time 'Can't Miss Prospect' is still unknown, but it is this reporter's gut feeling what with the Graves and Kidd trades recently finalized, markbl and the A's Front Office may be looking to go Back To The Future with all their former stars. Glory Days indeed, but for Inmate 2245985, perhaps a little premature. He faces Cell Block H this Friday at 2pm on the parade grounds. Tickets still available.

Philadelphia A's Press Release

(Philadelphia, PA) The Philadelphia Athletics announced yesterday with great pride the return of a favorite son and hero of the Season 4 Championship, RHP Derrick Graves. Graves, who left the club after the 6th season to sign as an unrestricted free agent with the then Pawtucket now Montreal franchise, was traded for recent free agent signing RHP Carlos Lugo. He returns home to anchor what has been what can only be described as an inconsistent bullpen since his departure. Graves is the A's all-time leader in appearances, ERA and WHIP and ranks near the top of all other major franchise pitching statistics.
The A's also made another important trade to free up cap space and bolster the bullpen and bench depth. 1B Bernie Green and LHP Damian Judd were acquired from the Hartford Minutemen for longtime starter and famous knuckleballer, RHP Adam Hughes. Green is expected to move into the DH role at the Big League level whereas Judd will be assigned to AAA in anticipation of his return to the majors.
In other news the front office announced that Owner, Founder and CBO markbl's resignation as CEO and executive GM was not accepted by the board last Saturday, so therefore he will stay on at all his baseball and executive duties.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Here comes the meat wagon

Just a handful of games into the season and Camp has its first major injury. New Orleans Levee Builders 1B Terry Coleman was placed on the 60-day DL after suffering from nerve irritation in his forearm. Coleman, a former MVP, 2-time All-Star and last year's Gold Glove winner, suffered the injury during this morning's AM game against Memphis. He singled off Blues pitcher Hulk Ferguson and was immediately lifted from the game. Coleman's estimated recovery time is 153 days. Hamlet Maxwell got the start at 1B in today's PM game against Memphis and went 1-4 with a walk.

Terry Coleman
New Orleans
Levee Builders
Age: 29B/T: R/R
Born: Hodgenville, KY
Position(s): 1B
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

Death, Taxes and these teams will make the playoffs...

Parity is nonexistent in Camp. The world is ruled by a handful of juggernauts who's only concern heading into the season is what seed they will be in the postseason. Meanwhile, the 20 franchises change owners, stockpile prospects for a "future" that they will likely never see and tank games to improve draft position. Like it or not, that's the way it is. That being said, the following teams will 100% make the playoffs:
Tampa Bay
New Orleans

San Fran

I don't really know much about the AL, mostly because it is horrid. No offense to the teams listed above but it's tough to be competitive when you have the turnover that the AL has year in and year out.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Out with the Old in Austin in season 8

As we enter season 8 in Camp, the defending AL champion Austin Chin Music are in a bit of a youth movement. From the team that took Arizona to game 7 of the World Series, gone are aging stars C - Corey Speaker, RF - Willie Cambridge, and 1B - Homer Simmons. In their places step youngsters RF - Jose Ramirez, 1B - Fritz Gaillard, and C - Josias Nieves. And, on the horizon are super-prospects CF - Alex Sweeney, LF - Freddie Barclay, and 2B - Vladimir Macias.

Austin looks to further its hegemony in the American League while concurrently maintaining fiscal responsibility and flexibility. The future looks bright for the boys in Central Texas.

Philadelphia A's Press Release

(Philadelphia, PA) The Philadelphia Athletics announced today club Founder, Owner, Chief Executive Officer, Chief of Baseball Operations and Executive General Manager markbl was stepping down from his role as corporate head of the Baseball Organization in order to focus on his GM duties running the day to day baseball operations of the club.

"We as an organization need to re-focus our energies on baseball operations in order to ensure the Philadelphia Athletics remain the class of the American League both on and off the field. Lately due to the priority that operating revenues had become in order to self-finance our new stadium project, I was abhorrently negligent with my responsibility to the team on the field... and I believe that was reflected in our overall record and our playoff performance last season. It will not be allowed to happen again."

A decision on who is to succeed markbl in those executive roles he has vacated is to be determined at the next Executive Board meeting scheduled for this Saturday in Philadelphia.

The A's enter Season 8 as one of the most successful franchises in the League with over 700 wins, five division titles and The World's Championship of Season 4.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Season 8 storylines

The Arizona Thunder Chickens will begin their quest for a third straight World Series trophy on Friday as the defending champions open up Season 8 at home against the Seattle Grunge. But that's just one of the many storylines worth following this season as there are plenty of teams looking to dethrone the supreme team of Camp. Here are some other things to watch as season 8 gets under way:

At 37-years-old, will Earl Gabriel ever show signs of aging?

Can Otis Parent win a fourth straight NL MVP Award?

Can Tampa Bay, Toronto, or any other NL team dethrone Arizona as the NL Champions?(Augusta is the only other NL team to ever reach the World Series)

Can anyone break Austin's stranglehold on the American League?

Will three teams from the NL East (NL Beast) make the playoffs this season after Scranton missed the playoffs on a tiebreaker in season 7?

Will three teams from the AL East make the playoffs this season...again?

Is Sven Simmons the missing piece in the Slumpbusters' quest for a World Series title?

Will this be the season that all of the young talent that Mexico City has stockpiled over the years (except of course, The Don) be unleashed on the National League?

Speaking of The Don, can Don Bale win 20 games in his first full ML season for Toronto?

What's in store for the $32 million man?

Can Orlando Cedeno deliver the goods for a New York team with their eyes on the playoffs or will he be a $60 million bust?