Saturday, August 25, 2012

Surprises of the First 20 Games

The season is one-eighth in the books, and as usual so early, there are surprises...

Go, Jays!  Toronto has sprinted out to a 15-7 start thanks to a balanced hitting/pitching effort - 5.5 rpg (3rd) and 3.66  ERA (5th).  8 different pitchers have wins; Roosevelt Thomas is off to a .322/4/22 start.

Whassup Twins?  Minnesota started 8-3 but reeled to an L11 since. Yes, their pitching has struggled some (notably Kevin Chong's 9.15 ERA).  But the real culprit is the AL-last 3.36 runs per game.  Rookie Asdrubal Azocar has done his part - .284/7/17, but no one else has picked up the slack form the slumping Harry Rivera and the injured Sterling Adams.

Henderson vs. Gutierrez:  Remember when the big Red Sox Max Gutierrez trade went down (with Paul Henderson being one of the return pieces)?  If we had peered into the future and seen these stat lines...
something tells me EVERYONE would have identified #1 as Gutierrez and #2 as Henderson.

And yet, Henderson's .371/6/22 (along with a bunch of other hot Boston hitters) has led the Sox to a 15-7 start.  Even when you throw out the 51 runs they scored against a trio of zero'd-out Orioles starters, Boston leads the AL at 6.21 runs per game.

Rays/Rangers Pace South: The 3-time defending champ Royals were expected to take the division again, but so far it's the 14-8 Rays and 13-9 Rangers leading the way. Tampa Bay's doing it with pitching - 2nd-in-AL 3.23 ERA, SP's Sherman Lidge and Robinson Neruda are 6-1, and closer Haywood Truman has closed 8 of 10 despite a 5.06 ERA.  Texas is doing it by winning the close ones - 7 1-run wins already.

Angels' Aces:  Anaheim SP's Sam Pearson (3-0, 0.72) and Eduardo Julio (2-1, 0.93) pace the AL in ERA and have led the Angel staff to a blistering 2.45 ERA (Rays are a distant second at 3.23).

Hot Hunt:  Montreal's Wesley Hunt (.321/11/20) leads the NL in OPS, Expos lead the league (with PIT) at 6.05 runs per game.  SS Dustan Beimel is also red-hot at .340/7/22.

Pirates' O, Mets on MovePittsburgh's fortunes were thought to hinge on pitching.  So far, though, the staff has been average-ish (4.22) ERA while the lineup has produced 6+ runs per game (Sobolewski .400/5/13, Posada .312/8/26).  New York stumbled out to a 3-7 start, but has recovered with a 9-3 run.

Atlanta's Bats:  No real surprise that the Cardinals and Braves lead the NL in ERA at 3.10 and 3.79 (they were #2 and #3 last year at 3.12 and 3.24).  But Atlanta's runs per game are up 31% from last year, 4.72 rpg to 3.60.  RF Bo Hines (.319/8/25) and free-agent 1B Eric Green (.341/3/14) have sparked the lineup.

NL West parity:  the Padres lapped the field last year, winning by 13 games and smoking 4th-place San Francisco by 37.  But parity rules so far this year, with only 2 games separating the 1st-place Dodgers from the 4th-place Giants.  Pitching has been key in the West:  3 teams are in the top 5 in ERA (Rockies 3.84, Dodgers 3.93, Padres 3.94), while the best any lineups have done is the league-average 4.59 rpg (Rockies and Giants).


AL BA:  Alejandro Cruz, Yankees - .422
NL BA:  Walker Sobolewski, Pirates - .400
AL HR:  Tony Cohen, Royals - 10
NL HR:  Wesley Hunt, Expos - 11
AL RBI:  Ismael Rios, Yankees - 28
NL RBI:  Sandy Quinn, National - 28
AL OPS:  Adam Shipley, Red Sox - 1.162
NL OPS:  Wesley Hunt, Expos - 1.221

AL Wins:  Torrealba (Rangers), Cepicky (Sounds), Jacquez (White Sox) - 4
NL Wins:  Cambridge (Cardinals), Hamilton (Dodgers),  Schlehuber (Expos),  Sullivan (Pirates) - 4
AL ERA:  Pearson, Angels - 0.72
NL ERA:  Monahan, Cardinals - 0.78
AL K's:     Rivera (White Sox), Smalley (Twins) - 31
NL K's      Contreras, Mets - 39
AL Saves:  Truman, Rays - 8
NL Saves:  Bibby, Pirates - 7


AL runs per game:  4.86, up 6.3% from last year
NL runs per game:  4.59, up 2.2% from last year

Owners' Poll Picks Twins, Mets

The owners have made the Twins and Mets the favorites to win their respective divisions.

Minnesota took 4 1st-place votes in the AL, with the White Sox and Mariners close behind at 3 each.

New York was a more definitive NL choice with 6 votes; Cincinnati and "Somebody Else" polled 2 each.

Earlier, the World Major Leagues Blog picked Seattle and Cincinnati.

Friday, August 17, 2012

NL PM2 Openers

San Diego clubbed the Dodgers, 11-2 in their home opener.  Melvin Charleston had 4 hits, Nate Hood homered and drove in 4, and Joel Iorg went the distance on the hill for the Padres.

St. Louis held on at home to slip by Atlanta, 5-4.  The Braves had the tying run at the plate with nobody out in the 9th, but Chien-Ming Lui recovered to get 2 outs and Dave Seay got one for the save.

The Phillies exploded Pittsburgh's bullpen for 7 runs in the 8th and took a come-from-behind, 8-7 win.  Donovan O'Rourke's grand slam keyed the big inning for Philly; Al Sierra took the win with an inning of work.

Cincinnati took its home opener in fine fashion, shutting out Milwaukee 2-0 behind Tony OrdazTony Rodriguez had 2 hits and the only RBI for the Reds.

AL PM2 Openers

Javier Melian homered, Alex Ayala drove in 3, and 4 Angels pitchers worked around 10 hits and 5 walks as Anaheim stopped Oakland 5-2.  Sam Pearson got the start and the win.

In Nashville, Alfredo Torrealba and Hector Franco scattered 6 hits as Texas shut out the Sounds, 4-0.  Wilfredo Vazquez homered for the Rangers.

The Yankees opened with a 10-6 win at BaltimoreAlejandro Cruz and Stu Nathan had 3 hits apiece for New York, and Todd Leon struck out 10 over 7 innings to record the win.

Louie Young paid immediate dividends for the White Sox, collecting a homer, 2 singles and 2 RBI in the 9-6 win over TorontoJim Chamberlain and Bernard Evert also contributed bombs to the 15-hit assault.

NL PM Openers: Nationals Top Contreras, Mets

In New York, the Nationals pounded Cy Young winner Luis Contreras for 12 hits and 6 runs in 6 innings, and cruised to a 9-3 win.  Tomas Pascual led the 17-hit D.C. attack with 4 singles and a double, while starter Ernie Pittinger gave up 3 runs over 7 innings to earn the  win.

The Cubbies opened with a complete game from Horacio Hernandez, and popped 3 homers (Greg Frye, Rico Uribe and Clem Fielder) in a 5-1 win over the ExposMontreal starter Ignacio Alfonseca also posted a complete game,  but ended up on the losing end of a 124-pitch effort.

Rico Rojas belted a tie-breaking, solo homer in the top of the eighth in Houston, and the Marlins held on for a 4-3 victory.  4 Florida pitchers survived 3 errors (leading to 2 unearned runs), with Edgar Cornejo going four and a third for the win.

The Giants survived a 9th-inning threat at Colorado Springs and hung on, 3-2.  San Francisco led 3-1 when the Rockies came up for the last time.  2 walks, a fielder's choice and a Damaso Guevara seeing-eye single made it 3-2 with the tying run at 2nd, but Lariel Blanco came in and got the game-ending groundout.  Giant starter D'Angelo Villa notched 7 strong innings for win.

AL PM Openers: Opening Day No-No!!!!

In what is surely a sign that their Season 19 bad luck is long behind them, the Seattle Mariners opened Season 20 with a 2-0 combined no-hitter against Arizona.

Eswalin Camacho started the gem for Seattle, but in a "forgot to reset pitch counts moment," left the game after dominating for 4 innings and only 39 pitches.  Joseph Suzuki went an equally-impressive 3 innings for the win; Joe Davis and Doug Bay finished off the last 2 frames.

The Diamondbacks managed to reach base only once - Max Jacquez got to 2nd when Albert Santayana booted a 2nd-inning fly ball.  Bruce Page homered and Guillermo Lopez doubled for the only runs Seattle would need.

In other AL games...

Detroit ruined the Twins' home opener with a 2-hit shutout by Oswaldo Diaz and Luis Perez.  The Tigers got to surprise starter Manuel Rodriguez for 2 in the first, then jumped on relievers Kevin Chong and Matt Brennaman for 4 more in the 7th.  C George Henderson led the Tiger attack with a 3-run bomb.

Boston upended Cleveland, 5-4, on an Adam Shipley 10th-inning single.  Shairon Workman picked up the relief win; Paul Henderson starred in his Red Sox debut, banging 4 hits including a 2-run shot.

Newcomers Babe Brett and Roosevelt Tollberg homered as Tampa Bay topped Kansas City, 7-4.  Joseph Won started and went four innings for the Rays; Robinson Neruda followed and got the win with a 2-inning outing.  Down 7-1, the Royals mounted a 9th-inning rally that brought the game-tying run to the plate, but Haywood Truman fanned Tyler Trammel to end the game.

Pfontaine Edges Natic_empire For 3rd AC Spot

The votes are in, and pfontaine won the voting for the last Appeals Committee seat, 7-6.

He joins zbrent716 and overeasy on the AC.

Quick Playoff Preview

American League
1.  Seattle
2.  Chicago
3.  New York
4.  Kansas City
5.  Minnesota
6.  Anaheim

Divison Play-In:  MIN over KC
                              NY over LAA

Division Series:   SEA over MIN
                              CHI over NY

ALCS:                  SEA over CHI

National League
1.  New York
2.  San Diego
3.  Cincinnati
4.  Atlanta
5.  Pittsburgh
6.  Philadelphia

Division Play-In:  ATL over PIT
                               CIN over PHI

Divison Series:     NY over ATL
                               CIN OVER SD

NLCS:                   CIN over NY


Thursday, August 16, 2012

NL Quick Preview

Last year:  Cubbies by 5 over Reds
Big Moves:  Cincy signs T. Rodriguez, Julio and Creek
Predictions:  Reds win a tiebreaker over Cubs

Last year:  Mets (best record in the league) by 5 over Philly, but Phils and Pirates both wildcarded
Big Moves:  Santiago, Andujar, Young, Smalley to AL; Gutierrez to DC; Long to Phils; Jordan to Mets; Pirates add offense without breaking up Big 3.

Predictions: Mets over Pirates by 9

Last year:  Cardinals by 9 over Braves
Big Moves:  Atlanta gets D. Baez, E. Green and T. Roque; Payton, Diaz to Marlins.
Predictions:  NL upset special - Braves by 1 over Cards, 5 over Florida.

Last year:  Padres top Rockies by 13.

Big Moves:  All San Diego, getting SP Pendleton and RP's Thompson and Vizcaino
Predictions:  Pads by 15 this year

next...playoff predictions

AL Quick Preview

Last year: Twins by 2 over Jays and 4 over Sox.
Big Moves:  Smalley and Santiago to Minnesota, Young to Chicago
Prediction:  The Twins built a team for the playoffs - which they'll make - but Chicago wins the division by 4 games in an upset.

Last year:  Red Sox by 3, although the Yanks wildcarded and took the WS to 7.
Big Moves:  Max Gutierrez out, Dixon and Andujar to Yanks.
Prediction:  Although we like what the Sox got for Max, some of that help arrives in a year or 2.  Yanks' moves put them over by 5 games.

Last year:  Royals romped by 16.
Big Moves:  Rays' Tollberg deal and trade for Brett
PredictionsTampa Bay will close the gap, but KC still has better talent; Royals win by 8.


Last year:  Angels and Mariners tied at 89-73, with LA winning the tiebreaker (in what must be some kind of record, Seattle also lost a 2nd tiebreaker with the Jays for the 2nd wild card).

Big Moves:  Hmmm...pretty quiet off season for the West

Predictions:  Surely Seattle's luck can't be worse...Santayana finally shows up and Mariners win by 2

next...NL Quick Preview

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Appeals Committe 2/3 Set - 3rd-Place Tie Up In The Air

In voting that ended last night, zbrent716 (12 votes) and overeasy (10 votes) led the voting and will make up two-thirds of the Appeals Committee.  Natic-empire and pfontaine tied for third with 8 votes apiece.

At press time, commish coach34 was working on a way to resolve the tie.  We're betting on some kind of short runoff election.

26 teams (81%) voted in the Appeals Committee election.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Breaking Down The San Diego-Tampa Bay Trade

Amidst yesterday's trade activity I forgot to write up the big San Diego-Tampa Bay trade of a couple days back.  It's a significant move, so let's take a look at it.

The Padres, anticipating playoffs and looking at the fronts of the rotations of NL contenders, had made no secret of their desire to land a Number One Starter.  The settled on Tampa Bay's Paulie Pendleton, the #4 pick of the Season  17 draft.

They gave up Babe Brett (OF), a Season 13 IFA; Ken Federowicz (SP), a Season 11 supplemental pick, and Harry Tejada (SP), a Season 18 IFA.

Brett and Federowicz both have 4 ML years behind them; by looking at their road performance (knocking out the offense-suppressing effects of Petco), we can get a decent estimation of what they'll do in Tampa Bay (a neutral park):

Brett's had road OPS's of .843, .821, .788, .764 (home OPS for the same years: (.779, .810, .748, .764).  That averages about .804.  He had fewer AB's last season for some reason...if we underweight last season a bit we can reasonably ballpark him as an .810 OPS guy.

Not bad, decent OF, maybe gusting up to occasional All-Star status (but that batting eye will suppress his runs created, a major determinant of All-Star).  Probably hits 40 bomb a couple of times.

Doing the same with Federowicz' OPS-Against: .775, .730, .812, .656 (home: .647, .664, .648, .725).  That's about .743.  He also had less activity last year...underweight that a bit and he's about .750.

Let's compare Pendleton to Federowicz, ratings-wise.  Are they close enough in ratings that we can predict anything about Pendleton's performance in San Diego?

They're both lefty, both have control of 76.  Both in the 70's on groundball/flyball.  The differences are splits and pitches:  Pendleton has the better splits, but Federowicz has the better pitches.

Keep in mind, Pendleton has another solid season of ratings improvements ahead of him, so yeah, he's better than Federowicz.  Maybe not this year, but next year.  Even then, though, that vR is going to be in the 60's.  And his pitches will never get as good as Federowicz'.

Verdict:  Pendleton will put up good numbers in San Diego, but he won't be so superior to Federowicz that he was worth giving up Brett.  When it's the 2nd round of the playoffs with Pendleton on the mound at Citizens Bank Park, and he has to face Javier, Bennett, Caballero, Tabaka and Serra, look out.

San Diego didn't get their #1...they got a #2 and gave up a #3 and a pretty good OF to do it.  Wonder what they would've said if Pittsburgh, when they were looking for hitters, had come calling offering Chris McBride for Nate Hood?

Talent Flow Update

OK, I've updated the talent-flow analysis from the previous blog post.  This takes in the free agent signings after Ozzie Rolls (I used the list that shows on the Amateur Draft Order page, which misses some free agents - more shortly), all trades after OAK/MIN, and 1 Type A I missed before (Roberto Rodriguez - doesn't show on the Am Draft Page because I declined his option - no picks).

To recap what I did: for all the Type A and B free agents and traded players, I assigned a point value: Type B = 1 point, Type A = 2 points, Type Super A = 4 points.  For the traded players, there were a few judgement calls about whether they were A or B.  For example, Rodney Stuart is a 74 OVR, but is he a starter or reliever?  I called him a RP, which makes him a Type A.

The Super A's are also judgement calls.  Super A's for this breakdown were Smalley, Santiago, Adujar, Young, Max Gutierrez and Payton.

Anyway, then I added up, for each division, how many points moved in and out of the division via FA and trades.

Here's the final tally, this time including the gross inflow and outflow:

So, what's happened since the first breakdown?

AL West joined the NL East as the big talent-loser, thanks to several late free agent defections.

The NL South flipped from negative to positive, thanks to picking up Payton and Atlanta's Type B free agent signings.

The NL West got a lot more active - 8 points out and 5 points in - thanks to all San Diego's activity and Payton's exit.

A couple of other things jump out:

*  The huge activity of the NL East.  NL East had 3 of the top 4 won-lost records in both leagues last year...does hyper-competition prompt more trading and free agent activity?

*  AL South is the big winner...will that translate to more wins?

*  The effects of the Super A's.  Are Super A's really 4 times the impact of Type B's?  Is Benito Andujar (Super A) four times the impact of Reid Jordan (Type B)?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Rockies Move Payton; Florida Could Contend

Colorado Springs has done the seemingly unthinkable, trading premier slugger Mark Payton to Florida for 3 young pitchers: Asdrubal Azocar, Miguel Urbina and Eduardo Lopez.

Payton was taken 13th in the Season 12 draft, and has slammed 312 HR's in his 6 ML seasons.  He took the NL Rookie Of The Year in Season 14, has 2 Silver Sluggers, and has made 4 All-Star appearances.

All 3 of the pitchers the Rockies obtained were products of the international market; Urbina took the top bonus (of the 3) at $16.4 million last year.  Azocar got 34 starts as a rookie last year, and compiled an 8-14 record with a respectable 4.31 ERA.

We were able to contact both owners immediately after the trade was announced to get their reactions.

World ML: What does this mean for the Rockies this year?
perdue12:  "The organization at all levels is very weak in pitching.  No Ace, just middle of the pack throughout the rest of the rotation and 'pen. I try to build my organizations around pitching. I also have a few guys at AAA who are big league ready and will get their opportunity."

'I am not expecting them to replace Payton, but I am expecting them to contribute. I feel we can compete this year, I am not going in to a full fledged rebuild mode.Just felt I needed an upgrade at Pitching. Kind of taking the Tampa Rays approach (the real Rays) to some levels."

World ML: Looks like you've moved into contention with the big Payton deal. What's your outlook for the Marlins this year?
jaikatis:  "Contention: that's flattering - I was worried about hitting the 55 win mark! Other than our rotation and COF, most of the talent is in the minors. If Fasano-Davis-Payton can carry the offense, I think we'll be ok. Depending on how the division shakes out, we have the pieces/finances to be pretty effective buyers OR sellers - I like having that flexibility."

Indians, Pirates Pull Big Trade

Cleveland and Pittsburgh, after *months* (OK, I exaggerate, but only a little) of haggling, completed a huge 6-player trade this morning.

Cleveland gets OF Rod McNeil, SP/MR Rodney Stuart, and SP Cap Scott; Pittsburgh nets OF Omar Villa, 1B Walker Sobolewski and IF Wayne Walker.

McNeil was Pittsburgh's first-round pick in Season 17 (#2 overall), Stuart was their Comp D pick the same year (#3 overall); Scott was Nashville's first-round pick that year as well (#33 overall) and came to the Pirates in a pre-season trade last year.

Villa (Season 11 IFA) is a .308 hitter over 6 sometimes injury-plagued seasons.  Sobolewski was the Indians' Season 14 first-rounder (#10 overall) and has posted a .908 OPS in his first 2 ML seasons.  Walker was a Season 14 first-round selection by the Cardinals (#12 overall) and came to Cleveland in last year's Dioner Petit deal.

Blanch13 on what the deal means for Pittsburgh:  "Now we have a solid lineup.  We don't have a superstar slugger anywhere but we'll get good AB's from all 8 starters.  We're deep and versatile...we can go all-righty against lefty pitching and start 6 lefties against RHP.  I think we can give the Phillies and Mets a run for it now."

On the negotiations with Cleveland: "Jgnjr was a very tough negotiator and extremely persistent.  We started, I think, around arb day talking about a small deal for Walker.  He wanted 2 players for Walker, and it just escalated...we each kept asking for one more chip.  Most owners would've gotten frustrated an shut it down...jgnjr just kept sending offers.  We took a breather around roster freeze day...when we resumed it was clear we had both moderated our demands, or maybe we both had so much invested in the deal we couldn't let it die.  In the end we certainly gave up a lot of young talent but think we helped the team."

At presstime, jgnjr was unavailable for comment but has promised to send in his take on the deal at earliest convenience.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Appeals Committee Voting Is Open

OK, in the poll to the right we have our 7 nominees for the Appeals Committee.  Please vote for 3 vote-getters will comprise the committee.

What's the Appeals Committee for?  A little brushup...

Starting this season, we have a "minimum wins rule."  If an owner fails to win 55 games, they're booted out of the league, but they can appeal their expulsion to the Appeals Committee.  I don't think we've set up any guidelines about what constitutes a legitimate appeal...thumbs up or thumbs down is at the committee's descretion.

QuickHits: Mariners and Pirates

World ML:  What does Seattle need to make the next jump up?

captain10a:  The M's pitching staff has been carrying the team for the past 2 seasons. If the young bats like Santayana and Lopez can progress and take a big step forward, Seattle should be able to make a move in the AL.

World ML:  Can the Pirates repeat?

blanch13: Can?  Sure.  Will?  Longshot.  We got really lucky last year.  Remember, we only got the 6th seed by 4 games over the Reds.  Take away an out-of-his-mind career year by Roberto Rodriguez and we may not have made the playoffs.

That said, our pitching staff is tailor-made for playoff baseball.  Caldwell, Garrido and McBride threw 70% of our playoff innings last year.  Get us in the playoffs and we're dangerous.

We have to upgrade our offense.  Joe Jackson and Jorge Polanco were nice pickups for us.  Rod McNeill will probably open the season with us in left field and gives us a legit power threat.  And we expect a better season (.246, 19 HR) from Fernando Posada, who showed us what he can do in the playoffs (.324, 7 HR).

So we're better, but still trying to improve on the offensive side.

I think we also improved our pitching.  Denny Sullivan should be a step up at 4th starter.  We were really stoked to get Benny Polanco - those 2 long/middle reliever roles are key for us with a 4-man rotation...Benny will open at one of those and Joakim Rosado, Brett Gordon and Rodney Stuart will battle for the other.  David Espinosa gives another reliable late-innings vet.

So I'm optimistic.  I don't think we can overhaul the Mets in the NL East but maybe we'll get into the playoffs with a little more breathing room this year.

QuickHits: Cardinals and Mets

World ML:  OK, Cards, how do you grade your off-season?

crabman26: I give my offseason a 5 out of 10. There wasnt much I could do, due to the fact I inherited some bloated contracts, I lost Reid Jordan, and lost out on some impact FA pitchers. So yeah, by my standards it was a pitiful offseason.

World ML:

overeasy: Honestly we did not have a lot of holes to fill, so the offseason was about finding the final pieces to the puzzle.

So not being able to re-sign Smalley instantly puts this offseason in the crapper. The Contreras/Smalley combo would have made us the WS favorite for the next 3 or 4 seasons, depending on how Luis holds up.

I didn't see Santiago as being worth a max deal, especially factoring in that I would be giving my first round pick to a division rival, so I went for the best option where I keep my pick in Reid Jordan.  I definitely paid more than what I wanted to, but since I had kept aside enough money to pay Smalley the max, I needed to spend it somewhere, so I tried to frontload the money as much as I could.

Reid is no slouch and has performed very well in St. Louis, which has a similar ballpark to Shea. So his addition bolsters what is already a deep pitching staff.

On offense, I needed to find a new RF to replace the departing platoon of Damaso Baez and Cap Turner.  My goal was to fill the only lineup gap I had at the same time, a solid #2 hitter who could have a good OBP. I think I found a good fit with Roberto Rodriguez and hope he performs closer to last season than the previous campaigns. 

So I guess after the Smalley debacle, we recovered well, but I would still give us a middle of the road 5. If we hadn't done the Smalley deal last season, I would have probably scored it a 7.

 Oops! Not exactly a quick hit, but I guess I like talking HBD. :)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Which Way Did The Talent Go?

Somewhere back in free agency, someone posted on the world chat that there seemed to be a lot of talent moving to the NL...

Had a slow hour for lunch today, so decided to check that out.

For each of the Type A and B free agent moves and trades (I just assigned A and B to the traded players based on their overalls), I just counted how many moved from one division to another division.

But I also figured that the Type A's have a lot more impact than the B's.  And there are some Type A's that are the real difference-makers.  So I assigned points for 3 categories:

                    Type B's got 1 point
                    Type A's got 2 points
                    Type "Super A's" got 4 points (Smalley, Andujar, Young, Santiago, Gutierrez)

So when you add up all the comings and goings, what do you get?

AL South   +6
NL West    +4
AL North   +3
AL East     +1
NL South   -2
AL West    -3
NL North  -3
NL East     -6

Overall, AL is +7 and NL is -7.

With points assigned like this, the effect of the Super A's is huge.  Take those out and it flips to NL +5, AL -5.  The NL East all by itself (which lost 4 of the Super A's) goes from -6 to +6.

So for the poster mentioned above, you were right...for numbers of players changing leagues, the NL was winning.  But for real impact, AL got the edge this year.

QuickHits With Jthornton75 (Tampa Bay)

World ML:  Grade your off-season for us.

Jthornton75:  I'll give it a strong 6.  I solidified the bullpen so my pitching should be in great shape, but missing out on Young means the offense didn't really get an upgrade. I'll be looking for trade opportunities but may end up having to go with in-house options.

QuickHits With Natic_Empire (San Diego)

 World ML:  How do you rate your off-season?

 Natic_empire:  Completely disgusted at the moment, this team is on the cusp of being a top contender but without that true #1, I'll continue to be nothing but a team who wins in the regular season but shutdown in the playoffs.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Pfontaine Talks About The Young Bidding

"There was a lot of back and forth with Young.  I led early, fell behind, led, fell behind, led for a whole day in the middle of the process, fell behind last night, and made a last ditch effort after the 11PM that put me over the top.

'I had already bailed out on some other big name free agents, so I needed (to get) Young to make sure the off season wasn't a total waste.  With Minny's moves, I'm not sure it's enough.  I need (SP) Jesse Rivera to step back up big time."

Santiago Picks Twins; Young To White Sox

Rafael Santiago picked Minnesota's max contract offer from among several bidders at the PM Part 2 cycle.  It's widely believed that the Twins' pitching and bullpen coaches Wilfredo Rivera and Sadie Webster, heavily influenced Santiago's choice.

In the cycle's other huge move, the White Sox won Louie Young's services with a 5-year deal worth $87.3 million.

Left at the alter during preseason were the San Diego Padres, who had money to spend and had the best pitchers' ballpark, but were shut out on both Santiago and Vincenzo Smalley.  We're awaiting a juicy quote from Natic_Empire for blog publication.

Yankees Join "Noisiest Off Season" Fray

The defending AL Champ Yankees jumped headlong into the biggest off season makeover conversation Tuesday, getting SP Bobby Ray Dixon (3 years, $50 million) in the first PM cycle, then winning the bidding for Benito Andujar (3 years, $35 million) in the 2nd PM shift.

The talented Dixon has had stretches of brilliance (most recently his Season 15-18 run with the Jays and Royals).  But he's also had seasons where he just seemed lost.  Like last year, to a degree (4.54 ERA), and (yikes!) Season 11 (39 HR's and .865 OPS against...really?).

Which Dixon do the Yanks get...the good Bobby Ray of Season 17 or the evil Season 11 Bobby Ray?

Andujar (ROY, 2 All-Stars and 4 Silver Sluggers over the fireplace) is a steadier commodity than Dixon and undoubtedly a big OF upgrade - the only question is the speed of ratings decline.

Wednesday PM1 update:  quiet cycle on the signing front.  Young and  Santiago are waiting until the last minute.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Twins, Rays, NL East Moves Highlight Offseason

It's hard to say which team has been shaking things up the most in this wild and woolly off season, but there are numerous contenders.  In no order of anything:

Twins:  pulled the first non-shocker by signing 3-time Cy Young winner Vincenzo Smalley to a $110MM max deal.  They got Smalley a new catcher (lifetime .319 hitter Eddie Williams) by sending reliever Claude Brand to St. Louis.  And while rumors don't count, they're supposedly in contention for the soon-to-be-very-expensive services of Rafael Santiago.  Santiago or not, they're not done.  And don't forget Stretch Carver.

Rays: getting notice for the number of significant transactions - 3 Type A free agents so far.  They started with 3-time All Star OF Roosevelt Tollberg, and gussied up the bullpen with Virgil Morales and Haywood Truman.  They also appear to be on the hunt for more additions.

NL East:  Last year's toughest division continues to bring in talent.  D.C. started the action with the blockbuster trade for 3B Max Gutierrez (Season 18 AL MVP, multiple other hardwares), sending OF Paul Henderson, DH prospect Diego James and defensive whiz Adam Shipley to Boston.  The Phillies kept pace by inking former Cy Young Winner Norm Long (3 years, $24 million), former Met Luis Cruz (2 years, $10.2 million), bullpen ace Einar Duran (4 years, $23.2 million), and Mr. "I never get paid but I always produce" (3 WS rings with 3 different teams), Dean Darensbourg.  The Mets offset the loss of Smalley with a big contract for Reid Jordan (5 years, $70million), upgraded an OF spot with Roberto Rodriguez (3 years, $18.3 million), and landed a defensive catcher in  Collin Womack (1 year, $2.4 million).  Finally, the Pirates, although not as splashy as their division mates, added a pair of Type A bats and have been prominent in trade rumors.

Other "noisy" off seasons include Atlanta, with 2 Type A lefty hitters and a Type B SP; Nashville, Cincinnati and Toronto, with 3 Type B signings apiece; and of course Boston, which instead of getting a couple of possibly-useless draft picks for Gutierrez, picks up a solid OF, a sterling defensive IF, and a stud DH prospect.**

Tune in here for exclusive coverage of the signing-day press conferences of Rafael Santiago, Benito Andujar, Louie Young, and Bobby Ray Dixon.

** Apologies if I left out anyone with especially active off seasons.  Let me know and we'll do a QuickHit.

Quick Hits: Reds and Twins

World ML:  Is this the year Miguel Rojas, Tony Ordaz and Vin Sanchez lead Cincy to the Promised Land? What do you need to get back to your Season 15-16 playoff form?

jwperry:  I think we are close, I'd love to add a few more bats and shore up the bullpen after loosing my closer from last season...that and get the cubs out of the way ;)

World ML:   You've already made the big splash with Smalley. How do you fill the roster if you land Santiago?

zbrent716:   If I land Santiago, I don't do much else. Probably Rule 5 for a bat/glove off the bench and a mopup man, and maybe deal one of my extra catching bats. Without Santiago, I go grab some of the good talent still in FA and sign multiple guys.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Quick Hits: A's and Rockies

World ML:  You made a nice improvement in the win column last year...what are the top 3 things that have to happen for the A's to contend this season?

strang:   1. Pitching staff has to walk fewer batters and give up less homers 2. Better defense up the middle 3. Obtain a player or two who are legitimate threats to hit homers

World ML:  Welcome to Major Leagues. What are your top 3 goals for the Rockies this year?

perdue12:  1. Since I am new to the franchise learn my organization from the ground up;  2. Make the playoffs;  3. Build a plan for the future, whether it be rebuild, or grow with the talent we have.

Quick Hits: Jays and White Sox

World ML:  AL North was tight last year...what do you do to knock off the Twins?

coltonrocks:  I think I have the pitching rotation to compete again.  Add a bat hopefully and have all three starters from the top of my rotation from start to finish.  Hubbell will be a big addition for us from last season so I don't think I have to make any huge moves.

pfontaine:  I need to make some good signings in FA.  If I can upgrade offense and SP, I can compete again.

Quick Hits: Yankees' mikeymel and Astros' johncreasy

World ML:  What has to happen for the Yanks to repeat as AL Champs?

mikeymel:  As it stand right now I would need FA to go really well. Eveything went right last season don't see that happening again.

World ML: Will we see uber-prospect Tony Moya in the bigs this season?

johncreasy: Probably trade him since if I don't get 55 wins, I'm out. Worst deal I ever made.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Top-5 Seasons Put Up Last Year

Kansas City's Albert Johnson set a new hitting streak record last season with 44.  The old mark of 38 was set by Don Satou way back in Season 2.

The streak highlighted an excellent .336/36/122 season for Johnson, although it wasn't good enough for either an All-Star or Silver Slugger nod.

On the pitching side, Luis Contreras (runaway Cy Young winner) put up perhaps the best season by anyone not named Chris Nen.  He recorded 26 wins (tied for 3rd all-time), threw 277 innings (3rd all-time), tied 3 others for 1st all-time with 11 complete games, and had the 5th-best WHIP ever with a 0.92.

Pittsburgh's Keith Caldwell (Cy Young runnerup) notched 33 quality starts in a terrific but overshadowed campaign, good for 3rd on the all-time list.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

World Series Winners: Facts and FIgures

First item on the sidebar makeover:  World Series winners!

13 franchises have won titles in our 19 seasons.  Only the Twins, Pirates (3 each), Cubs and Cards (2 each) have multiple crowns.

We've had 2 2-season "dynasties" (repeat WS wins) - Twinkies in Seasons 4 and 5, and the Buccos in Seasons 6 and 7.  Outside of that "Dynasty Era" we've had 13 winners in the 15 seasons.

We've only had 2 multiple WS-winning owners in our history: zbrent716 piloted all 3 Minnesota champ seasons (4, 5 and 14), and jonboynky won 2 with the Cardinals (9 and 11).

The NL leads overall 12 to 7.