Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Long Journey.....

You've heard it said before. It's a long road to the Major League's. To finally break the barrier and make it from AAA, or even lower in the minor's, to the bigs is a dream come true. It's takes a lot of hard work, dedication, talent, skill and sacrifice to even get drafted these days.

Many, many players spend a lifetime toiling around the minors, serving as filler and depth for most ballclubs. Merely happy to scrape out an existence playing the game they love so much. For a few of these lifetime minor leaguer's, they have an opportunity after 4+ years of service time to be drafted during the offseason in the Rule 5 draft.

In the Rule 5 draft, any player not on a team's 40-man roster and with 4+ years of experience is eligible to be drafted by another team (for $100,000), provided the team can keep the player on it's 25-man ML roster all season. If not, he must be offered back (for $50,000), first passing through waivers. When on waivers, any team can claim the player and give him a shot, provided he still remains on a ML 25-man roster.

This brings us to the long road of young Rey Wan. Obviously, there is something in his skill set that attracts a lot of the owners around the league. Since being selected by Minnesota (from Arizona) in the Rule 5 Draft, he's also made it to Philidelphia and all the way up north to Toronto. He's once more hit the Waiver Wire, and who knows where his whirlwind journey shall take him next. Perhaps he'll make it down south to Florida or Tampa, maybe he'll finally head back West to a place like Oakland or San Diego or even home to Arizona. I hear Cleveland is looking for a Center Fielder, maybe they'll be next to take a chance.

It'll be interesting to see where this kid ends up, and if his talent let's him stay in the bigs not just this season, but for many to come. Keep your eyes peeled for the weary traveller. Who knows? Maybe he'll end up starting at 2nd for Minnesota?

Jake Walton No-Hits Tampa Bay

If you had been making a list of pitchers most likely to throw a no-hitter, Jake Walton’s name probably never would have come up in the discussion. The 31 yr old lefthander has had a less than stellar career up to this point. Yet on this night he victimized the potent Tampa Bay attack in a 112 pitch, 5 strikeout, 5 walk performance. The only time he got into trouble was in the eighth when he gave up back to back walks with 2 outs, but the threat was stopped when Mel Munoz grounded out to end the inning.

After throwing the first no-hitter of the season Walton has given the team hope that this may be a turning point to jump start his struggling career. It is not realistic to believe that Walton will be able to keep his ERA under 3.00 all year but for this one night he was the top pitcher in the league and no one can dispute it or take it away from him.

Season 4: NL Review

Preseason Review:

NL North

Chicago Cubs (97-65 Season 3)
Stars Cory Sherman (C), Victor Solano (3B), Julio Chavez (LF) provide the big bats for the Cubs offense. On the pitching side Torii Baker, Cesar Gil & Octavio Bolivar will set the tone. The Cubs should be able to hold on to the division again this year but with age starting to become a factor younger talent will need to be brought in if they would like to continue their reign

Top Prospects:
SS Jacque Cornelius (AAA), SS Oleg Little (Hi-A), LF Rico Baez (AA), RP Winston Richardson (Hi-A)

Prediction: 95-67

Cincinnati Reds (87-75)
Outfielders Carl Rhodes, Brad Johnson & Tracy Owens lead the offense for the Reds. The thin pitching staff is lead by starters Stubby LaRoche & Vin Navarre. Age and a lack of depth will hurt Cincy’s chances of matching last year’s record. With few top prospects ready to make the leap to the show it is imperative that this team begin to stock the farm teams to keep the team from falling into the basement.

Top Prospects:
2B Wes Wagner (Hi-A), SP Chad Martin (Hi-A), RP Blake Denny (AA)

Prediction: 78-84

Milwaukee Brewers (71-91)
Justin Cash (C) & Kevin Vaughn (SP) are the stars of this team in transition. With most of the organizations talent still in the minors this will be a long season in Brew Town. Fortunately there are several quality prospects in the minors so the talent level should begin to rise as soon as management decides the they are ready for the show.

Top Prospects:
2B Miguel Javier (Lo-A), 3B Duke Swindell (AAA), SS Enrique Lopez (Hi-A), LF Bernard Harvey (AAA), SP Roger Radmanovich (AA)

Prediction: 65-97

Montreal Expos (82-80)
Solid players throughout the roster will keep the Expos competitive; however the lack of any standouts at the ML level will keep things somber north of the border. Competent performers like Rico Rosa (2B) & Kent Davey (RF) will lead the offense, as arms such as Henry Tracy & David Vincente will try to hold other teams in check.

Top Prospects:
2B Napoleon McGee (Hi-A), 3B Don Yamamoto (RL),

Prediction: 72-90

NL East

New York Mets (95-67 Season 3)
Having hung on to take the division crown last year the Mets hope this year will be even better. Alexander Springer (1B) & Miquel Lima (RF) lead the attack, as Calvin Hyun (SP) & Earl Simmons (RP) lead the hurlers. Unfortunately it appears the improvement of the other teams in the division will make the New Yorkers fight it out for a wildcard berth.

Top Prospects:
C Cookie Paige (Hi-A), SS Willie Fernandez (Hi-A), SS Christopher Vaughn (AA), SP Arlie Gant (AA), SP Peter James (AA), SP Merv Stuart (Hi-A), RP Gus Rivera (AAA)

Prediction: 92-70

Philadelphia Phillies (81-81)
The big bats of Bernie Wells (1B) & Jay Black (RF) will terrorize opposing pitching again this year, while pitchers Vic Nitkowski & Raul Gonzalez try to tame the other team’s bats. The Phil’s have few quality prospects so the current ML team needs to step up and take them to the promised land. The lack of enough talent will keep the Phil's on the sideline during playoff time and unless management dives into the free agent pool it will not change anytime soon.

Top Prospects:
SS Dave Chouinard (AAA), SS Sammy Pulido (AAA), SP Nerio Breen (AAA)

Prediction: 82-78

Pittsburgh Pirates (93-69)
Standout performers Tony Martin (CF), Rolando Diaz (2B), Lou Blair (SS), Alfredo Guerrero (SP) & Martin Lyon (RP) make the Pirates a very dangerous team. While they fell short last year this should be their year to capture the division. This is another team that needs to take advantage of their window of opportunity with a lean crop of prospects in their system.

Top Prospects:
C Eric Waddell (AAA), 1B Rey Barr (Lo-A), SP Sam Risley (Lo-A), RP Davey Pena (Hi-A)

Prediction: 95-67

Washington D.C. Nationals (75-87)
Setting the tone for the offense will be Miller Locke (1B) & D’Angelo DeLeon (CF), doing the same on the bump are hurlers Albert Ontiveros (SP), Dave Rizzo (SP) & Hector Trevino (RP). The Nat’s are almost ready to contend and it appears that a few of the missing pieces to this puzzle are in the minors hoping to join the team in the near future.

Top Prospect:
2B Tomas Pascual (AA), SS Enrique Rodriguez (Hi-A), SP Nash McNamara (AA), SP Stewart Winn (AAA), RP Herman Mahler (Lo-A)

Prediction: 78-84

NL South

Atlanta Braves (108-54 Season 3)
The two Miguel’s, Ramirez & Martin, are wielding potent bats for the Braves. Rickey Brooks and a strong bullpen will try to repeat last year’s performance as Atlanta attempts to bring home another World Series Trophy. Matching last year's 108 victory total will be a tall task but the other teams are still building so it's a foregone conclusion that Atlanta will be one of the playoff teams in the NL.

Top Prospects:
DH Andrea Baxter (Hi-A), LF Erik Buckley (AAA), RP Elroy Benson (AAA)

Prediction: 96-66

Florida Marlins (65-97)
With young bats like Seth Davis (3B), Albert Leonard (CF) & Cyrus Manning (RF) the future is bright in South Florida. However starters Victor Solano & Alvin Young need more help to get the pitching up to the same level as the offense. The minors have been depleted as most of the talent is now on the ML roster so new players will need to be brought into the organization to fill any holes the team may have.

Top Prospects:
RP Chad Sanders (AAA), RP Denny Sullivan (AA)

Prediction: 74-88

Houston Astros (65-97)
Ryan Stahl (C), Hugh Clark (CF) & Billy Hutch (RF) are all young talented and now playing in the majors. These youngsters along with pitchers Hick Hogan & Tomas Vasquez will form a strong nucleus for the Astros as they build for the future. A few more top prospects are knocking on the door and should be allowed to play with the big boys very soon.

Top Prospects:
2B Willie Luebbers (AAA), SP Derek Rando (AAA), RP John Mateo (AA), RP Everett Dale (AA)

Prediction: 72-90

St. Louis Cardinals (34-128)
The abysmal record of last year is now in the past. Talented offensive contributors like Brian Morris (3B) & Miguel Lopez (SS) fill the lineup and should allow the team to put up some big numbers. The pitching staff led by Felipe Borbon (SP) & Carl Ashley will need some more help before they can keep the opposition under control and it looks like some of this talent will come from the minors. Even with several top prospects this team has room and a need for a infusion of more quality players.

Top Prospects:
CF Julian Brogna (AAA), CF Alex Solano (AA), SP Branch Cepicky (AA), SP Bobby Ray Dixon (Hi-A), SP Vernon Eckstein (AA), RP Virgil Morales (Hi-A)

Prediction: 68-94

NL West

Colorado Rockies (85-77 Season 3)
As you would expect in the Mile High Altitude the ball will be flying all over the park. Pitchers with out strong constitutions will be squeamish when forced to face this offensive juggernaut. Nigel Shibata (1B) freed from the hitter’s nightmare of Petco Park should thrive in his new surroundings with the help of players such as Nigel Black (LF). Pitching will be a concern with half their games being played in Coors Canaveral’s launching pad. If the starters can give the Rockies 5-6 strong innings their strong bullpen should be able to bring the team home. It looks like a two team fight for the division as San Diego appears vulnerable.

Top Prospects:
1B Miguel DeJesus (AA), SS Pepe Guerrero (AA), SP Cecil Stephens (Hi-A), RP Andy Palmer (AAA)

Prediction: 86-76

Los Angeles Dodgers (84-78)
The LA roster has been constantly changing as new management revamps the team to better suit their desired style of play. Offense should not be a problem with hitters like Myron McDonald (2B) & Shane Hardy (3B) on board however the lack of power will mean the Dodgers will need to manufacture runs and hope their pitchers can pick them up when need be. This year the team will take a step back as they are molded into shape by management with hopes that the future will bring playoff berths.

Top Prospects:
2B Brandon Simmons (AAA), LF Al Nathan (AAA), RP Sean Jenkins (AA), RP Al Jose (RL)

Prediction: 70-92

San Diego Padres (95-67)
Long ball hitters struggle in Petco but this doesn't scared the big bats of Giomar Lugo (2B) & Roberto Miranda (RF). As hitters run from San Diego, pitchers can’t wait to take the mound. The leaders of the staff will most likely be Fergie McLemore (SP) & Billy Morris (RP). The Padres are again the favorites to win the division but with the improvements Colorado has made it should be a fight to the finish.

Top Prospects:
3B Kenny Melfi (AAA), 3B Floyd Lyon (AAA), LF Rey Mailman (RL), RP Alexander Bagley (AAA), RP Michael Harris (AAA)

Prediction: 90-72

San Francisco Giants (70-92)
There will be no joy on the bay this season. Last years struggles will continue until more talent is brought in to help young stars Mark Blum (2B), Emil Rodriguez (SS) & Davy Crudale (SP). The good news is that there are several young stars that just need a little more seasoning before they will be added to the ML roster. This year will be bad, next will be better and watch out the following year.

Top Prospects:
2B Roger Balboa (AAA), DH Hector Durazo (AAA), CF RJ Henry (Lo-A), SP Norm Long (AAA), SP Hades McDermott (AAA), RP Zephyr Lane (AAA), RP David Espinosa (AA)

Prediction: 74-88

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Season 4: AL Preview

AL North

Chicago White Sox (64-98 Season 3)
Coming off a tough season last year it looks like another long summer on the south side. But all is not lost Sox fans with young offensive stars like Delanor Hemingway and Davey Morales the future is looking up. There are several top prospects that will be arriving in the next 2-3 yrs that will allow Chicago to compete with the leagues elite teams so patience from management and fans alike will be necessary.

Top Prospects:
1B Benji O’Keefe (AA), 2B Andy Kelly (Lo-A), 2B Quilvio Rosario (AA), LF Timothy Jackson (AA), SP Gary Brinkley (AA), SP Kane Delaney (Hi-A)

Prediction: 70-92

Detroit Tigers (63-99)
The Tigers seem to have enough offensive firepower with the likes of Max Beech & PT Oliva, the big question is whether Greg Higginson & FA pickup Hugh Purcell can anchor a thin pitching staff. If the pitching holds up enough to allow the bats to do their thing Detroit will escape the basement.

Top Prospects:
SS Henry Fisher (AAA), SS Phil Hunter (Hi-A)

Prediction: 68-94

Minnesota Twin (100-62)
A fine selection of arms is the strength of this teams championship dreams. Led by Chris Nen & Clay Bellhorn the Twins staff looks loaded. The offense on the other hand is waiting for the arrival of some of their top prospects before they will be on the same level as their pitching staff. They should have enough to take the division, however a deep run in the playoffs is unlikely at this time.

Top Prospects:
2B Donne Harper (AAA), SS Virgil Mendoza (AAA), SS Ed Wheat (AAA), DH Donn Stafford (Lo-A), SP Gabby Martin (AAA), SP Tommy McIntyre (AAA), SP Emmanuel Montero

Prediction: 92-70

Toronto Blue Jays (97-65)
The Blue Jays are another team that will go as far as their pitching will take them. Sandy Brooks & Timothy Truby are part of a strong rotation and Todd Wood & Gerald Funaki are part of a deep bullpen. This team will need to find some more firepower to help their pitchers if they would like to make another playoff run.

Top Prospects:
LF William Hollins (AAA), SP Eddie Foxx (Hi-A), SP Ross Lamb (Hi-A)

Prediction: 75-87

AL East

Baltimore Orioles (88-74 Season 3)
Having assembled a team that includes the bats of Taylor Mullin, Neifi Martin, Harry Price and the strong arms of Mikey Finnessey, Rafael Mateo, Pascual Gonzalez the Orioles are well balanced and ready for a deep run in the playoffs. It will be no comfort to the rest of the league that a large portion of the ML roster is filled with young players and there are more prospects in the minors that will only aid to keep Baltimore on top for a long time.

Top Prospects:
C Del Bale (AAA), 1B Spud Nielsen (Hi-A), SS Wayne Young (Hi-A), LF Joe Nakano (AAA), SP Charlie Bailey (AAA)

Prediction: 94-68

Boston Red Sox (93-69)
Pitcher Hal Menechino & centerfielder Mike Fasano are two of the few young stars on this very veteran team. The remaining players on the ML roster are mostly over 30 so if the Red Sox want to make a run at a championship it must be done now. With few top prospects in the minors it is time for Boston to start working on getting replacements in place very soon.

Top Prospects:
C Jude Daniels (Lo-A), 2B Rudy Hernandez (Hi-A), 2B Trent Reid (Hi-A), SS Omar Pineda (AA), RP Lew Brower (Lo-A)

Prediction: 86-76

Cleveland Indians (94-68)
Trevor Corsi (LF) & Cesar Carrasquel (SP) lead a team that surprised some by winning the division. However it will be tough for a repeat with the team as it stands now. There is some talented young players almost ready to compete for a ML job but this season appears to be more of a transitional year.

Top Prospects:
C Dude Robinson (AAA), SS Norberto Prieto (AA), SS Miguel Ramirez (AAA), LF Dennis Grimsley (AAA), LF Francisco Marin (AA), SP William Malloy (AAA), RP Ross Heredia (AAA)

Prediction: 84-78

New York Yankees (56-106)
Last years record was indicative of the talent level in the Bronx. Don Satou while a productive .300 hitter hamstrung this team with his $20 mil/yr contract. Next year the organization will have the ability to go after some top talent to help supplement the players that management chooses to keep during the rebuild of this downtrodden franchise. This years Rule 5 draft brought in Andy Junge (CF) & Abraham Sutton (2B) to a team in need of more talent.

Top Prospect:
C Blake Krause (AA), 2B BJ Stearns (AA), LF Derrick Saturria (AAA), SP Orlando Ramos (AAA)

Prediction: 65-97

AL South

Kansas City Royals (78-84 Season 3)
Sluggers Stew Hanson (3B) & Hiram Bang (RF) lead this team’s offense which should be very potent. The big question mark is the starting pitching. While the bullpen was addressed this off season it appears management is waiting for their pitching prospects to strengthen the rotation. Though the Royals won the division last year their record was nothing to be proud of and more pitching will be needed if they are able to make the playoffs again.

Top Prospects:
C David Kim (AAA), 2B Johnny Rowan (AAA), SS Jerry Moore (Lo-A), CF Brian Zhou (AAA), RF Fred Leary (AAA), SP Lawrence Schmidt (AAA)

Prediction: 85-77

Nashville Sounds (63-99)
The Sounds struggled last year and just missed losing 100 games. Big time bats like AJ Hemingway (DH) & Damaso Cordero (3B) should be able to keep the offense chugging along. However this is another team that needs to upgrade its pitching staff to be able to have realistic title hopes.

Top Prospects:
C Lou Fisher (Hi-A), 2B Tyler Servais (AA), RP Bucky Malone (AAA), RP D’Angelo Gongora (AAA)

Prediction: 68-94

Tampa Bay Devil Rays (73-89)
Management opened their wallets to bring in FA’s Pep Salmon (CF), Carmine McGee (RF) & 15 million dollar man Neil Torres. These three vets bring talent and experience to a team that needed both, the question is will it be enough to get to the playoffs. The pitching staff and offense both need further upgrades to be serious threats in the playoffs but they should have enough talent to battle for the title in the AL's weakest division.

Top Prospects:
1B Fernando Izquierdo (AA), SS Brian Pong (AA), RF Willis Howell (Hi-A)

Prediction: 82-80

Texas Rangers (72-90)
Following their division mates, the Rangers are in need of improved pitching and the lack of it will be a problem all year. The bats of Abdullah Daniels (LF) and newly acquired Richard Owens (CF) will keep the team on the score board. The question is who will they put on the mound to stop the other team from doing the same.

Top Prospects:
1B Bob Aldridge (AAA), 2B Fernando Rivera (AA), SS Deivi Guerrero (AAA), LF JD Stern (AAA), LF Luke Brock (Hi-A)

Prediction: 72-90

AL West

Anaheim Angels (87-75 Season 3)
While not deep in offensive talent the Angels do have Roger Byrnes (3B), Glenn Norton (SS), Erubiel Santiago (SS) & Jesus Otanez (CF) to torment opposing pitchers. Add to that starters Dennis Sirotka, Roy Whitaker and relievers Joshua Mays and Sarma Nagy on the hill to again make Anaheim a very dangerous team. Anaheim has the talent to again make the playoffs and it would be surprising if they didn't.

Top Prospects:
SS Cap Turner (RL), DH Kelvin Graves (Hi-A), RP Dustan Brocail (AAA)

Prediction: 90-72

Arizona Diamondbacks (78-84)
Dickie Scharein (2B), Bruce Myers (SS) & Omar Navarro (DH) will be beating on opponents pitching all season long. Brian Averill & Jerry York have the goods to mow down opponents consistently. Will this be enough weapons and will can the rest of the roster step up to help out enough to push them into the playoff hunt. While the answer this season may be no there is additional talent in the farm system that should put this team in the thick of it in the near future

Top Prospects:
C Benj Recchio (AA), 2B Derrin Davenport (AA), 2B Steve Weaver (Hi-A), LF Carl Robertson (AA), SP Nolan Foster (AA)

Prediction: 76-86

Oakland Athletics (107-55)
Offensive talent throughout the lineup makes it easy to understand how the A’s put up such a gaudy win total last year. Turk Weaver (2B) & Terry Hefner (RF) swing two of the biggest bats on the team. Unfortunately for their opponents they are equally talented on the mound. Starters Steve Kennedy, Willie Segui and relievers Lance Wolf, Albert Mota headline a staff that can shut down even the most dangerous offenses. If this isn’t bad enough news for their rivals then the fact that they have more talent on the way up the minor league ladder should cause more sleepless nights for the other teams in the league.

Top Prospects:
1B Bud Hogan (AAA), 2B Herb Elarton (AAA), SS Jeff Zambrano (AAA), Ronald Traynor (AA), RF Roosevelt Thomas (AA), SP Fernando Rosado (AAA), RP Fonzie Wayne (AA), RP Sid Crabtree (AAA)

Prediction: 105-57

Seattle Mariners (92-70)
This team has decent offensive capabilities however other than Luis Escobar (DH) it is lacking the power that most of the top teams have. Rob Goldberg (CF) & Rafael Mondesi (RF) are speed burners and must use it to help create some runs to compensate for the power shortage. Arms like Pat Garland & Kyle Powell will be able to keep the other teams offense stuck in neutral, so on most nights it won’t be necessary for the Mariners to score a lot of runs. With the A’s in the same division the Mariners realistically only hope for a wild card spot.

Top Prospects:
2B Alex Julio (AA), 2B Richie Wade (AA), SS Erik Thompson (Hi-A), CF Wiki Uribe (AA), RF Cooper Sedlacek (AAA), RF Marvin Walton (AAA), SP Mike DeJean (AAA), RF Vladimir Rijo (AAA), RP Antonio Martin (AAA)

Prediction: 90-72

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Jockeying for Position

The yearly preseason maneuvers are now complete as the season is ready to begin. As is the norm teams looking to contend for the title jumped into the free agent and trade markets to find the missing pieces for their championship dreams.

Here are some of the top players that were moved this off season deals.

Arizona needed a leadoff hitter and acquired the veteran bat of Rick French. In the free agent market they grabbed P Hades Christiansen, Stump Laker, Henry Blake.

Atlanta picked up P Jerry Lee and SS Arthur Hyers.

Boston added vets C Matt York & Will Barr through free agency.

Colorado decided to add to their offensive firepower by adding speedsters Nigel Shibata & Bonk Coles and additional power when it acquired Andre Shields. To keep pitching coach Otis Duffy happy they also added a few arms when they picked up Frank Glover, Lonnie Jacome & Vin Moya. Duffy must have asked Santa for more toys to play with and received $15 million man Bobby Joe McIntosh & Bryant Hodges.

Detroit in need of some help for the pitching staff went into the plucked Hugh Purcell, Adam McGee & Howard Flynn from the FA market.

Florida added the very capable Randall Wheeler to their bullpen.

Houston was able to pick up Mateo Alvarez & Eric Perry to bolster their pitching staff. The biggest move by the team however was adding stud catching prospect Ryan Stahl.
Adding 9 free agents 30 or older lead by Pascual Sosa & Clarence Rothschild has turned this team into the over-the-hill gang.

Kansas City needed to strengthen a weak bullpen and feel they have with the signings of Alex Estrella, Larry Koch & Billy Garcia.

Minnesota not wanting to be left out of the fun turned to LF Dee Young for some extra offense.

New York Mets filled a couple of holes with veterans CF Hiram Nakano & 1B Alexander Springer.

New York Yankees were able to find a way to pry loose a major young arm in closer Bill Hoffman, but also lost Ryan Taylor in the Rule 5 draft thereby taking away another young talent they had acquired.

Oakland also found some talented young arms for their bullpen on the market and came away with a couple of Lance’s in Wolf & Turner.

Pittsburgh went looking for speed and a centerfielder and found Tony Martin to their liking.

St. Louis looked to strengthen their defense up the middle and added catcher Damaso Neruda & shortstop Randy Cortes. Offensive help was also provided when Walker Leonard & Courtney Shaw came aboard.

Texas came away with a major young talent by adding Richard Owens.

Toronto thought that a more veteran presence was needed and brought in P Timothy Truby & SS Rabbit Cunningham.

Washington went with youth and picked up a good young catcher in Karim DeRojas.

Friday, June 13, 2008

One Man's Opinion....(06-12-08)

Welcome back fans, and it's time for some random observations from around Spring Training so far this season:

Most leagues are characterized by one thing or another, and something that really stands out about World Major Leagues is the insanely dominating pitching around, especially in compariosn to other leagues out there. In the AL alone you've got Minnesota's CY Nen, Clevland's Cesar Carrasquel, Seattle's got a few arms with Pat Garland & Kyle Powell (and Mike DeJean!!! on his way). Over in the NL you can see outstanding arms like Norm Long's in SF. That's just brushing the surface there to, it's amazing the hitters in this league stand a chance!

Another thing I noticed sets this league apart is it's owners seem to demand the player's maintain their existence on some fairly reasonable contracts. Aside from a few exceptions, I notice a lot of players have to wait until the beginning, and sometimes end, of ST just to catch on with a team. It's great to know that salaries will always seem to keep themselves in check.

There has also been a ton of movement around the league, with a flurry of trades occurring over a 3-4 day span. Things have since cooled off as it seems owners are taking a long look at what they have on hand before making any final decisions. You can certainly tell this is going to be a very active season.

The Rule 5 wasn't much to write home about this year, although if Ernest Heath can bounce back from injury, he could be an asset to someone down the line. Most of the other players figure to be offered back at some point in the season.

That's all I can see so far this week, as I'm simply overwhelmed just to be enjoying some baseball again. This season is shaping up to be a fine one, so keep your eyes peeled for more from ST as we take a look at some of the hot position players making some noise as teams head into the regular season.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Final Seven Have Been Selected

After a lengthy and exhaustive search the final 7 owners have been selected. Commissioner P-nut has put in a lot of time and effort to find the best fits for the remaining franchises and determined that these people are the right ones for the jobs.

In the American League, the Chicago White Sox were picked up by HBD vet Casanelly. The Detroit Tigers will have newcomer Sdhizzle leading the way, as the Nashville Sound are guided by the somewhat more experienced Tonywin33.

Over in the National League there were 4 teams available with only the Washington Nationals’ Chase39 having any previous experience. However, the new blood and enthusiasm being displayed by rookies Slickwillie (Arizona Diamondbacks), Coachdeal10 (Houston Astros), and J_homicide (Montreal Expos) seems to be infecting the whole league.

It was a difficult off season for Commissioner P-Nut with the wholesale changes that needed to be undertaken. With everyone now in place it’s time to get on the field and begin the season long battle for the championship trophy. Good luck everyone.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Oakland Athletics - Season 4 Preview - Another Season of Youth

Welcome back friends for a little preview of what to look for this Spring as our awesome Athletics approach another anecdote-filled, asthma and arrythmia-inducing annual adventure, after another agonizing and afflictive avenue of annhilition adduced by Minnesota.

Fresh of their 107-55 Season 3, AL West Champions The Oakland Athletics have quite a few questions heading into Season 4. Quite a few players have left via Free Agency, leaving some holes for some new faces to fill. Some of those leaving include SP Chief Shuey, Setup Man Hugh Purcell, CF Gabe Hunter & DH Sherm Tapani. In line to take their place will be another outstanding crop of youngsters, chomping at the bits to get their crack at the ML roster.

As far as filling out the Rotation is concerned, Shuey's place can taken by one of many options down at AAA, including Top- Prospects: Pedro Eusebio, Bob McFarlane, Spike Shannon or Fernando Rosado. There could also be a surprise candidate or two, depending on what Rico Rijo, Sting Peterson and last year's Rule 5 pick Francisco Beltre have to say about things.

The Bullpen, already young & solid, can be shored up with live arms like Albert Mota, Jay McNeil and last year's 1st Round pick for Oakland Fonzie Wayne. The bullpen was a very interesting spot for Oakland last season as they ran with no true Closer, and may plan to do the same this season continuing to mix & match depending on matchups. It worked out quite well with only a couple of disasterous outings mixed in last year.

The bigger questions, however, lie in the lineup. Oakland's farm may be stacked with pitching that is ready to go, and it's also stacked with some nice Position Players....that aren't quite so ready. However, ready or not, a few will be getting their chance this season much like last year's influx of ROTY-quality youngsters. Mo Springer hopes to lead this group, making an effort to march right into the Starting CF job in Oakland. He's got the talent, but is he ready for it? His .333/.402/.788 line in AAA at 21 years old last year say he's ready, with the only question being his hands on defense. The range is there, but he has his fair share of misplays due to some "rough" hands still.

A good competition will be brewing for the DH job in Oakland with several young mashers trying to force their way onto the big league club. Charley Jameson, Derrick Juden, Vince Morris, Bud Hogan, Ronald Traynor and last year's compensation pick in the draft, Miguel DeJesus all would love to start raking for the ML squad, however with Bryant Browne deeply entrenched at first, leaving only DH open, one or more of these guys may have to find a new home to find a chance to start.

One competition that could prove to be a good one is happening over at 3rd Base, were Piper Ross & Stuffy Karsay may be forced to platoon, or one of the two may have to be moved. Also, coming up fast behind them is Kent Lewis, another hot prospect that will be extremely versatile in the field. Worse case scenarion happens with Springer, and any of these guys could step in and help at CF as well.

SS will have to wait another season or two before the arrival of uber-prospect Jeff Zambrano, as his glove definitely needs some work if he's to have a chance of sticking at SS. For the most part, the rest of the roster seems to be stacking up much the same as last year, with the only competition seeming to be for that 4th/5th OF spot.

We'll bring you more from Oakland as we get more, and until then, patience prevails until the start of Spring. Until then, thoughts of reaching 115 and a WS title this year, as it can be done with this much talent & depth around. Of course, that's just one man's opinion, fella' name a' Smitty, first name Word.