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.