Wednesday, March 30, 2011

S1 Al East Predictions

By Jefepwnzer
AL East Predictions

New York Yankees -

Starting 9: Willie Hand will lead an above average lineup for the Yanks with help from Mitchell Bass and slugger Izzy Sutton. Twenty-four year old speedster Allan Callaway broke camp with the ML squad and will most likely leadoff for New York. Watch for this guy to be a strong rookie of the year candidate. With Callaway sparking the offense New York may just have what it takes, offensively, to make a playoff push.

Pitching staff: The rotation in New York has no real superstar talent, but a bunch of guys who can get the job done. Like fellow rookie Allen Callaway, Todd Holloway will be looking to make an impact on the club immediately. Among him are a handful of crafty vets who should make a fair share of quality starts for the Yanks. Unfortunately there aren't a lot of dependable arms to back the rotation, as Dmitri Pie figures to be the only reliever on the Yankee squad worth mentioning. Late inning heart-breakers may be in store for New York this season.

The future: There may be bullpen woes in New York this season and next but help is on the way. Ebenezer Berg and Cap Ducati, who may also compete for best name, lead a promising lot of arms in the Yanks minor league system. In a couple years this could be an airtight combination of relievers for the team to rely on.

Cleveland Indians -

Starting 9:In the pre-season the Indians projected to have one of the worst lineups in the league. However, the brass in Cleveland have promoted Evereth Molina and Joey Oswalt, two electrifying hitters whose presence in the lineup will be felt by opposing pitchers. They will team up with Oswaldo Gardel to create a formidable three headed monster. Timothy Baez and Manny Dong provide decent support for the trio and should form a very respectable first five hitters for the Tribe, who are more than capable of pushing runs across the board this season.

Pitching staff: The Indians staff features two very solid arms in youngsters Brandon Davis and Alex Feng. Unfortunately, neither looks to be pure starting material and may make their best impact in the bullpen. The veteran rotation for Cleveland will likely struggle over the long haul, but if they can manage to keep a lead their bullpen should be dependable enough to close it out.

The future: There is hope for the future of the rotation in Cleveland: Mariano Limon and Anibal Guerrero are bright young SP prospects who can one day make a great 1-2 punch. Jose Franco will likewise one day be a dependable reliever and a great complement to Limon and Guerrero's future stellar outings.

Boston Red Sox -

Starting 9: Boston will challenge Kansas City for the best offense in the AL. Roger Michaels, Bartolo Ramos, Magglio Bennett and rookie Kazuya Chang will form a formidable murderers row for opposing pitchers. Steven Sefcik and Enrique Matos will especially add to the misery for left handed foes. They should score a LOT of runs this season at Fenway.

Pitching staff: Paxton Booker will certainly make a case for the Cy Young and will be joined by Carlos Latos and Freddy Franco for a solid front end rotation. Joe Schilling looks to be a good option out of the pen but a lack of overall depth to the entire rotation may doom this team over the course of the season.

The future: It wouldn't be a big surprise if Felipe Esposito and Alvin Wells saw a lot of action in the bigs this season. Their addition to the ML roster could mean a big difference as they would very quickly tighten up the rotation. Blue chip catching prospect Hack Beaulac heads up an enviable stock of position prospects.

Baltimore Orioles - 

Starting 9: The Orioles will bring an offense to the park which may not be as exciting as Boston or Kansas City's but may be capable of scoring just as many runs. Wilton Buchholz, Rabbit Guerrero and Gary Kirby figure to be the heart of the offense. Rookies Phillip Gross and Jim Ramriez will bring pop to the lineup as well. Baltimore also found a quality bat in late FA addition Gary Wise. Overall this is a well rounded offense who can score runs in an instant.

Pitching staff: Baltimore lacks a clear #1 starter and, instead, has a handful of pitchers who may be able to keep enough runs off the board for this team to win. Newly promoted Lon Jefferies adds depth to the rotation but is another unspectacular arm. The bullpen features a couple of dependable late inning pitchers in Corey Branson and Rey Hoiles.

The future: Christian Grahe and Max Case are future stars and part of a moderately deep minor league system. Still, Baltimore lacks the stellar SP prospects that could help push this team over the hump.

How they will finish: This may be the most balanced division in the AL. All four teams field capable offenses so it will be the arms who decide this division race. Top-end pitching talent wins games and Boston has a slight edge over the Yanks, Tribe or O's in that department. However, the lack of pitching depth is alarming (only nine pitchers at the ML level at the time of this post) and only clouds the picture in the AL East. The addition of three or four below average to average arms would be enough to set the Sox atop the division. Until they bolster their staff, though, fatigue will eat up the Boston pitchers quickly and give way to the three teams behind them. I'm going to assume the cavalry will arrive in Boston, soon after a division title will as well.





Tuesday, March 29, 2011

S1 AL South Predictions

By Jefepwnzer

AL South Preview

Tampa Bay Rays

Starting 9: Tampa has three versatile players in Vern Rose, Wesley Maduro and Angel James who can both hit and field a number of positions. Catcher Wayne Cox complements these three nicely, but the Rays offense is lacking after that. Second baseman Paul Clarke and right fielder Cody Wall will help the offense when they face lefty pitchers, but will struggle mightily against righties.

Pitching staff: The Rays solid bullpen options with long reliever Maicer Chavez and setup/closers Danny Stohr and Burt Case, a possible airtight trio. However, a lack of starting pitching may doom this staff and Chavez, Stohr and Case may never get a chance to really dominate.

The future: Scott Lewis is a future Cy Young award winner and is a part of a decently deep minor league pitching system along with Edgardo Diaz. A future big bopper in Allan Gaston awaits a callup - possibly in Season 2.

Kansas City

Starting 9: One of the best offenses in the league will reside in Kansas City this season. KC has the depth to pencil in an impact bat at six of the nine spots in the batting order. Harry Skinner and Stone Bowen will provide the power while Johnny de la Vega and Ted Snopek look to run circles around opposing pitchers, and they may have to if KC is to win the division and impact the playoffs.

Pitching staff: The Royals will largely depend on a trio of rookies to support the production of the offense. Diego Suarez, Ryan Randall and Buck Decker will form the core of a staff who looks to be up to the task of chasing a division title. There is decent support in the pen and Wandy Batista figures to save a game or two for the Royals. With the offense in great shape, the season will fall squarely on the shoulders of the pitching staff.

The future: Even after promoting Suarez, Randall and Decker to the ML the Royals can still look forward to Corban Norton and Rich Fikac adding their skills to the rotation sooner than later. In addition, Kenneth Mulholland will provide a great bat when he's ready in a few seasons.



Charlotte Knights

Starting 9: With Gary Wise landing in Baltimore Charlotte will send one of the worst offensive lineups to the plate this season. The only worth mention is Rudy Webster who can provide a dependable, albeit unspectacular, bat. Clarence Beckett and Matty Frias could possibly hit 20-25 homers a piece if they see enough lefties, but there's just not enough support up and down the lineup for this offense to be consistent.

Pitching staff: Gary Adams and Willie Quintanilla are two very bright spots on a lackluster staff. Felix Martin can spot start or provide quality long relief, but there is no clear cut closer and holding leads late may be an issue for the Knights. If Adams and Quintanilla are to pick up many wins they will have to pitch late into the games they start, which is really unfortunate as they may be the best 1-2 punch in the league.

The future: The problem with pitching depth that the ML team currently has will be a thing of the past in three-four seasons as there are a handful of future ML SP's who will form a great staff in the future. Guys like Red Bohanon and Benito Fernandez will one day make AL South hitters quake in their spikes. Charlotte's minor league system is not as deep with position prospects, but has a couple solid future ML'ers. If the Knights can find a way to add some impact bats to their system this will be a monster of a team beginning in S5.
How they will finish: Another team with a bright, bright future. Tropicana will simply have to be patient for his blue chippers to arrive in the ML before this team makes any waves, though. An ultra weak offense and a thin staff will relegate Charlotte to the basement of the AL South in Season 1.



Texas Rangers

Starting 9: The biggest impact on an overall light hitting offense will come from Tony Gomez, a solid cornerstone on a generally young team. Unfortunately there isn't much to write home about after that. Speedster Ike Cline will most likely need to play way above his skill level and get on in front of Gomez for Texas to have any consistency offensively. Orlando Tejera and Raymond Cornelius spent brief stints on the 25 man active roster but did not break camp with the ML team. It will be interesting to see if willsauve recalls either player during the season. Cornelius would certainly improve the lineup while Tejera adds another set of wheels to round the bases with.

Pitching staff: Led by Jose Alfonzo the strength of this team will undoubtedly be their rotation, which is one of the best in the league. Thirty year old Marino Oropesa and John Bryant will team up with Alfonzo to form a lethal 1-2-3 punch. Right now the bullpen lacks depth but sports solid LR/spot starter options Mendy Suzuki and CJ Brooks and a very solid closer in Victor Gonzalez.

The future: The Texas farm system is DEEP and boasts five of the Top 100 prospects. The aforementioned Cornelius leads the way and may make his impact on the ML soon. On the hill Texas can count no less than 12 (yes, TWELVE) bona fide ML pitching prospects including future SP's Marcus Smith and Mark Helton. Pasqual Diaz and Mike Hill will one day add quality to the starting lineup that Texas currently lacks. Throw in the fact that they own the #5 pick in the draft and it almost seems unfair. Texas can look forward to a bright, bright future.

How they will finish: Kansas City should hardly even need to look in the rearview in taking the division this season. It will be a battle for second place between Texas and Tampa, with Charlotte bringing up the rear. Kansas City has the talent to carry them to the ALCS and maybe even to the World Series.

Kansas City - As long as the three rookie SP's prove their worth there is no reason KC can't cakewalk to an AL South title.
Texas - Even with Cornelius and Tejera in AAA honing their skills Texas has a talented enough staff to win enough games to finish second in this division.

Tampa Bay - With an average offense and lacking a dependable rotation Tampa Bay will likely find themselves in third place.

Charlotte - The Knights will only go as far as Adams and Quintanilla can take them. Even if Charlotte were to use a 4 man rotation, it just doesn't seem like there's enough offense for the Knights to win enough games to get out of the AL South cellar.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

S1 AL West Predictions

By usfbully

AL West Preview

Oakland A’s:

Starting 9: When it comes to Oakland, the conversation begins and ends with Damaso Torres. This super stud player is in the prime of his career at 29, and is the way to early MVP favorite in the AL. Terry Knight is the Robin of this club, and looks like a great table setter. Junior Crespo, a solid all-around player is a FA who will likely be back. The rest of the offense looks anemic, especially in the power category. The A’s should have one of the better defenses.

Pitching: The A’s rotation (at time of writing) is not very good. The Coliseum will help a little, but this is the biggest weakness on the club. Setup man Jermaine Ford is their best pitcher out of the pen that will surely have a few stinkers. If they choose to bring back Sam Smoltz, they should get a boost to the rotation.

The Future: Oakland has a stable of solid young pitching. At first glance it is lacking a dominant force but the group is led by a pair of fire ballers out of the pen; Rogers Davey and Jimmy Borders. In the field, Oakland looks to have a few prospects that will make an impact. Heinie Weaver will make a great addition to the offense as an all-around player, and Colby Greenwood looks like a future 40-120 guy.

Seattle Mariners:

Starting 9: The M’s are going to have problems scoring. In a park that hampers offense there is not much talent with the wood. Alex Clark is going to be the leader on this squad, but look for a solid rookie season from Jumbo Hill if he gets the call after Spring Training. If Seattle chooses, they will get a boost from FA Catcher Julian Mateo. Mateo would instantly become the best player on the team, but would not have much help.

Pitching: Jude Reed is a crafty lefty who will look to be the ace in Seattle. While he has a hit-able fast ball the spacious park of Safeco will turn a few HR’s into outs. Rob Houston is a rubber armed reliever who should be able to give 100+ solid innings out of the pen.

The Future: R.A. Clyburn is a middle of the rotation prospect and should be an innings eater. Rickey Cunningham is a two pitch pitcher with great movement on his fastball. There is not much to brag about on the positional side for Seattle, Maicer Mujica will be a solid RF/3B prospect, but does not stand out in any category.

Anaheim Angels:

Starting 9: The Angels bats are going to have some POP! 5 players have a power rating over 84. Their best hitter is right fielder R.J. Nunez, who will be on the hunt for the home run crown in Season 1. Switch Hitting DH/C Bronson Walker will have probably strike out 120 times, but he will crush lefties, and handled righties. Pepper Post is awaiting a new contract, and if he can stay healthy makes this lineup very formidable.

Pitching: Anaheim is lacking solid starting pitching. Paul King is arguably their #1, but his control issues will inflate his pitch count and get him in more trouble than he needs to be. Bo Clontz will be called out of the pen to close games out. If re-signed, Fernando Lee will be a good setup man for the Angels.

The Future: The pitching options look pretty good in So Cal. Seth Larue will not be a work horse, but he will be outstanding when he is on the mound. Matt Lee might be in the bigs before the first game is played. Anaheim has a pair of DH prospects, but their best all-around player might end up being Peter Ray. If Ray’s power develops he can be a solid 5th or 6th hitter in the lineup.

Arizona Diamondbacks:

Starting 9: Arizona and Peter Becker look to make an impact in the Wild West. Becker might not have the range to play Short or Center, but will be a productive bat at whatever position he plays. Jose Chavez is a big bat that looks to have a few more years in the tank.

Pitching: The Diamondbacks pitching is a mystery. Unlike most teams, they do not have absolute wastes, but they also are lacking a stand out arm. Veteran Odalis Escobar will be asked to step into the leaders role in the rotation, while the youngster Ted Reynolds might be the top candidate for the closers role. Inning eater Dennis Wang might be going back to the desert.

The Future: Zona’s pitching mysteries continue into the minors. They have several odd prospects, including Eric Baker. Baker should have pin point control, but does not have a great stuff. Outfielder Esteban Cabeza is the best prospect in the field, and might be ready to contribute now.

How they will finish:

Year 1 in the AL West looks to be wide open. In my opinion, Arizona has the most complete team, and if they can get consistency from Chavez, will be the “best” of this field of four. Do not count out Oakland or Anaheim, any time a team can rely on a player like Torres or Nunez they have a shot. Seattle does not have the offense to compete in year 1.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

For Life: League Rules


The aim of the "For Life League" is to keep players on their original team for life. This league encourages team building through savvy drafting strategy and the signing of international prospects. You MUST committ to a minimum of three seasons. You must be willing to agree that non-compliance with the set rules will result in your willing removal from the league, to be replaced by an owner willing to play by and respect the rules. There will also be no excuses tolerated for missing out on signing your own players in time ,etc. The point here is that we're all adults. We shall play the game as such. Much like WiS policy, there will be no helping out in case of "user error". No excuses.

------Player Movement-------

--Free Agency: Traditional free agency (the ability to sign players outside of your organization) will not begin until Spring Training has completed (released players are the exception, see below for rules regarding released players). This will give the entire FA and preseason period as well as all of Spring Training for teams to sign THEIR OWN FREE AGENTS to contracts. (Upon world creation, current FA's will be considered property of the franchise listed under "Previous Franchise". Occasionally, there is no team listed, in which case they are fair game to be bid upon during FA).

Once Spring Training has completed teams may sign any player.

--Released Players: A player released by his franchise may be signed by any team and is available immediately. These players must have been released by their previous franchise. Take care not to confuse released players with players who have simply been allowed to walk by their franchise.

There are a few easy ways to check if a player has been released.
- If you open the player profile the "Playing Status" will read "released". This status is located in the upper right corner of the profile.
- You can run a released player report under World Office --> News --> League
- In the Free Agent Report you can change the "View" to "Status Info". This will indicate
whether a player was released or allowed to file for free agency.

--Trades: Open trading is strictly prohibited in this world, period, as it goes against the "For Life" theme of the league. The only trades allowed will be those trades that correct ineligible free agent signings , any rule 5 draftees and any waiver pickups.

--Waivers: No waiver claims will be allowed.

--Rule V Draft: No player may be drafted in the Rule V Draft.

---------Team Building-------

--Prospect Payroll: There is no limit to what an owner may set or transfer into their prospect payroll.

-----------Tanking Rules----------

--Tanking will be judged on a case by case basis by the Commissioner and the Veterans Committee, 9 owners total. Most worlds leave the judgment of tanking up to one person - the commissioner. In the "For Life" League we feel that the 9 owner panel will be able to make accurate judgments. Rest assured that if a panel of 9 members feels you are tanking - you probably are.

One of the biggest issues in any case of suspected tanking is the amount of time prospects spend in their organizations minor league system. While Commissioner P-Nut, World Owner empiire and the Veterans Committee do not condone any form of tanking, we also feel that owners may keep their prospects in the minor leagues for as long as they deem necessary for proper development. Most owners have a different sense of what "proper development" is in HBD and the Commissioner and the Veterans Committee will not be looking to put a concrete definition on "proper development". Instead, if an owner is suspected of tanking, their minor league promotion practices will be looked at and subject to the decision of the Veterans Committee.