Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Outlaw Career Leaders

I've had a NASBL team since I joined in 1991 and picked up my beloved Cleveland Indians. Several years later I picked up the San Diego Padres and later the two teams merged into the Outlaw Josey Wales. I've been keeping stats since the beginning and would like to share my career leaders over the past eighteen years.

Of note:
  • Manny Ramirez's last homerun of the season was his 500th!
  • Alfonso Soriano cracked the top three in homeruns
  • Omar Vizquel is 2nd in hits and 3rd in RBI, proving the virtue of persistence
  • Tim Hudson passed Andy Ashby as career wins, strikeouts, and innings pitched leader
  • Jake Peavy cracked the top three in strikeouts
  • My all-time saves leader was a throw-in in a trade that involved Mark McGwire, Trevor Hoffman, and Raul Mondesi
My Career Leaders:

  1. Manny Ramirez 2144
  2. Omar Vizquel 1750
  3. Albert Belle 1631
Batting Average (2500 AB)
  1. Tony Gwynn .360
  2. Kenny Lofton .301
  3. Manny Ramirez .300
  1. Manny Ramirez 1269
  2. Kenny Lofton 1005
  3. Albert Belle 983
Home Runs
  1. Manny Ramirez 500
  2. Albert Belle 380
  3. Alfonso Soriano 158
  1. Manny Ramirez 1409
  2. Albert Belle 1156
  3. Omar Vizquel 590
Stolen Bases
  1. Kenny Lofton 613
  2. Omar Vizquel 374
  3. Willy Taveras 115
Games Won
  1. Tim Hudson 116
  2. Andy Ashby 113
  3. Charles Nagy 87
Winning Pct (100 decisions)
  1. Mark Langston .572
  2. Andy Ashby .562
  3. Tim Hudson .547
  1. Tim Hudson 1262
  2. Andy Ashby 1153
  3. Jake Peavy 1063
  1. Keith Foulke 128
  2. Trevor Hoffman 117
  3. Armando Benitez 74
ERA (100 decisions)
  1. Mark Langston 3.99
  2. Charles Nagy 4.28
  3. Tim Hudson 4.31
Innings Pitched
  1. Tim Hudson 1932
  2. Andy Ashby 1840
  3. Mark Langston 1303

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Time of the Year for Dealing!

"Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow"

It's the time of the year for trading,
So teams can start debating.
And since the new cards aren't here,
Let's make a deal, make a deal, make a deal

Teams are working on their cut downs,
To make their Rosters safe and sound.
Here's a list of guys that won't stick,
So try and trade one for a Draft Pick!

With the Dra--ft almost set,
Managers are looking for their Best bets.
They are hoping their future picks,
Don't wind up in making them sick!

It's the time of the year for trading,
So there will be a lot of debating.
Picking the right players to make your team sound,
So you can win the NASBL Crown!!

Do you pick for the future or for now,
Or trade 3 magic beans for a cow.
Managers want all the Winning Parts,
Sometimes they end up Throwing Darts!

It's the time of the year for trading,
So teams can start debating.
And since the new cards aren't here,
Make a deal, make a deal, make a deal

Best of everything in 2009 NASBLers!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Building of the Wales

Every year I like to analyze how my players were acquired over the years.

Fourteen the of the seventeen Outlaw Josey Wales players likely to be retained were acquired by draft, including five 1st rounders, three 2nd rounders, and two supplemental draft picks. This has got to be the most draft-heaviest team in our history, courtesy of eight keepers from the amazing 2008 draft.

Only two players were acquired by trade, and we have one player left from the old NASBL rookie protection system.

Here are Outlaw's likely keepers listed by seniority, with their years of service and how they were acquired:
  • Manny Ramirez, 14 years, 1995 Old NASBL rookie protection
  • Tim Hudson, 9, 2000 1st round
  • Alfonso Soriano, 5, 2004 trade, Pettitte & Soriano received for Barstool Colon and 1st round pick
  • Jake Peavy, 5, 2004 2nd round
  • Jason Bay, 4, 2005 1st round
  • Scott Kazmir, 3, 2006 1st round
  • Adrian Gonzalez, 2, 2007 1st round
  • Jonathon Broxton, 2, 2007 2nd round
  • Mike Napoli, 1, 2008 supp 1st round
  • Scott Downs, 1, 2008 supp 2nd round
  • Dustin Pedroia, 1, 2008 1st round
  • Joakim Soria, 1, 2008 2nd round
  • Ryan Ludwick, 1, 2008 3rd round
  • Melvin Mora, 1, 2008 6th round
  • Ryan Theroit, 1, 2008 9th round
  • Ryan Dempster, 1, 2008 10th round
  • Rich Harden, 0, 2008 off-season trade for Aramis Ramirez
Honorable Mention:
  • Omar Vizquel, with 13 years of service, brought to Outlaw in a 1996 trade for Mark Langston, is likely to be released this year.
  • Aramis Ramirez, with 10 years of service, acquired in the 2nd round of the 1999 draft, was reluctantly traded in 2008 to acquire ace Rich Harden.

NASBL Less Filling Award Winners Announced!

The results from the 2008 NASBL Awards Balloting are in! Here are your winners from the Less Filling Conference:

Prince Fielder, PCM - Pocono's first MVP winner in a decade (the last was Mike Piazza in 1998) led the NASBL in homeruns with 57, and led the Less Filling in RBI with 140. Prince also led the LF with an amazing .681 slugging percentage, and posted an admirable .293 batting average. Fielder earned 14 first place votes, but like his counterpart MVP winner David Ortiz in the TG, he was left off one ballot entirely.

Cy Young:
John Smoltz, PCM - Pocono completed a sweep of the two highest awards on the strength of veteran John Smoltz's 3rd career personal award. Smoltz was Fireman of the Year for Pocono in 2006, and also won the Cy Young in 1994. Smoltz led the LF in wins (18) and ERA (3.31), and trailed only Chin Music teammate Johan Santana in strikeouts (219). Smoltz earned 14 first place votes.

Rookie of the Year:
BJ Upton, GCG - The number 3 overall pick in the draft put up solid numbers across the board, leading all Less Filling rookies in RBI (68), runs scored (60) and stolen bases (30). Among rookie homerun hitters, Upton trailed only PCM's Kevin Kouzmanoff. In the closest balloting of the 2008 Awards, Upton took home 5 first place votes, with Grundy County Grizzly teammate Brian Bannister taking another 4 votes.

Fireman of the Year:
JJ Putz, MSU - Miami's JJ Putz became the first NASBL Fireman since Yorktown's Eric Gagne in 2004-2005, and the first ever in the Less Filling, to take home back to back Fireman awards. The award also marked the 3rd consecutive year the FOY has been won by a Miami Surf closer (2006 Chad Cordero being the other in the streak), the first time in NASBL history a single team has won back-to-back-to-back Fireman awards. Putz's 1.54 ERA and 36 saves both led all Less Filling closers, and his .878 save percentage trailed only TRY's Huston Street (.889). Putz's 14 first place and 1 second place vote gave him 73 points in the awards voting, the highest total by any 2008 NASBL Award winner.

NASBL Tastes Great Award Winners Announced!

The results of the 2008 NASBL Awards Voting are in! Here are your winners in the Tastes Great Conference:

David Ortiz, LCC - Known as Big Papi, the portly Lake Champlain slugger dominated most offensive categories. He won the TG Triple Crown with an amazing .360/56/159 line, and only a Prince Fielder (PCM) homerun on the final day of the season kept Papi from winning the NASBL Triple Crown. In addition, Ortiz led the NASBL in walks, OBA, and SLG. Ortiz tallied 12 first place votes, but was left off the other 3 ballots entirely.

Cy Young:
Daisuke Matsuzaka, LVI - Another aptly nicknamed player, particularly for a Strat leaguer, Dice-K led the league in ERA with an amazing 2.60 mark, the 7th best in league history. Matsuzaka's 252.1 innings were 2nd in the league, trailing only IronPig teammate Aaron Harang. Dice-K's 242 k's were good for 5th in the league. Matsuzaka tallied 11 first place votes.

Fireman of the Year:
Joe Nathan, ILL - Joe Nathan, a frequent visitor at the top of the Saves leaderboard (he holds 2nd, 3rd, and 8th on the Single Season Saves honor roll) nailed down his 2nd Fireman of the Year award for a Sherlag. In 2006, Nathan won the award for Doug Sherlag's Springfield Isotopes, while in 2008 he brought the award home for brother Brad's Illinois Chow-Chows. Nathan's 34 saves trailed only OJW's Joakim Soria (35) in the TG, and his 2.76 ERA trailed only LVI's Matt Capps (2.14) among TG closers with double-digit saves. Nathan earned 11 first place votes.

Rookie of the Year:
Daisuke Matsuzaka, LVI - The first ROY/Cy double winner in the NASBL since CCC's John Patterson in 2006, and the first ever in the Tastes Great. Matsuzaka led all Tastes Great rookie pitchers in innings and strikeouts, and trailed only LCC's Rich Hill (18) in wins. Matsuzaka earned 10 first place votes.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Surf Disappointed in WS Loss!

After a tough 7 game series and a disappointing game 7 loss to the WS Champs Springfield Isotopes, Surf Management has vowed to do whatever it takes to return to the "Big Show". Surf Owner, James Bessinger, was quoted as saying " We did our best and our guys played their butts off, But we have to do better, We will do Better!" Surf Management wasted no time in trying to "upgrade" the team. Although we hated to trade the likes of Jose Reyes, We are excited to have a SP of Dice-K's ability and although Derek Jeter is a bit older ( OK, he's much older! ) he brings a solid bat and good Def to the team. In another move the Surf "upgraded in two positions, 2B and C. 2B will now be manned by Jose Lopez and the Catching duties now rest on Ryan Doumit. Here is the Surf's Pre-Draft Depth Chart:

2009 Miami Surf ( Pre-Draft ) Depth Chart
POSITION STARTER 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
Ryan Doumit Pudge Rodriguez
First Base Carlos Delgado Lyle Overbay
Second Base Jose Lopez Jeff Kent
Third Base David Wright Gregg Dobbs
Shortstop Derek Jeter
Left Field Ryan Braun
Center Field Mike Cameron Melky Cabrera
Right Field Bobby Abreu
DH Carlos Lee
Starting Pitcher Cole Hamels Josh Beckett Dice-K Derek Lowe Andy Sonnanstine
Relief Pitcher JJ Putz Ryan Madson Al Reyes
Closer Billy Wagner

AARP catching up the DFW.


It was bound to happen. Nobody wanted to talk about it, nobody wanted to think about it. It still happened. DFW got old. The aging veterans are just that- aging veterans. Gone is Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr will not be offered a contract. They will be missed. But DFW needs to turn the corner 'now' and get out of the 'remember the good ole days'. They need to catch 'Fire in a Bottle' and build thur the Draft. The 'Fire in a Bottle' is a phrase that describes the outstanding Draft of OJW had last year. DFW has tried to get younger. Good news-last year's 1st Round pick Jemery Guthrie will be at Top Rotation again. Bad News- DFW traded for promising Ian Snell who was their Top Starter last year, has arm trouble this year (translation he sucks this year). It looks like they will have two 40+ year olds in the rotation in Greg Maddux and Jamie Moyer. DFW hopes Dave Bush can capture the magic he had a couple of seasons ago, and get rid of the Black magic of last yearv 5-5 record with a 6.81 era. DFW got some great news that pitcher Justin Duchscherer has agree to become a starter this season. They have very high plans for JD this year. For the Spurs to compete this year they need K-Rod to get back in the 40 saves area. He had only 21 last year.

DFW has a few holes (a few? duh!!) to fill via by the Draft or by trades. C- Victor Martinez will only to play part time due to injuries. Carlos Guillen will move to 3B this year. SS- Alex Gonzalez is out for the year his replacement Jeff Keppinger isn't ready to take over full time just yet!
Rumors are out the DFW hangs on to players to long and don't make enough trades, well travel secretary 'Pops' Carroll denied the rumors. Pop turns '73' in May. D'OH!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Iron Pig Trade Announcement / Team Preview

Dateline Bethlehem, PA.

IronPig management is pleased to announce the addition of our latest Hog, Jose Reyes. Reyes brings speed, strong defense and World Series experience to our team. The addition of Reyes gives Lehigh Valley a strong core of young players up the middle. Reyes (25), Utley (30), Martin (25) and Hamilton (27) should form the backbone of IronPig teams for the foreseeable future.

At present, the rest of the infield defense is solid with offseason acquisition, Todd Helton manning 1b and Mark Derosa platooning with Hammerin Hank Blalock and Mark Reynolds at 3b.

Left field is strong defensively with Carl Crawford roaming the outfield. It is unknown who will play LF at this time. Similar to last season, when we decided to finally draft a catcher in the 15th round of the draft, IronPig management may take the same approach with the RF position.

Carlos Quentin (26) will man the DH spot and bring his powerful bat to the lineup. We are somewhat concerned about Carlos' temper. He expresses his frustrations very quickly and we are concerned that he may hurt someone during a tirade. We have hired famed anger management consultant Dr. Buddy Rydell to help him.

While the pitching staff was a strength of the team last season, we are concenred about the focus of our starting pitchers in the upcoming season. IronPig management was pleased with the efforts of the pitching staff last season when they led the league in team ERA. We have no such delusions of grandeur for the upcoming season. Our ERA leader, #2 wins leader, #2 strikeouts leader, #1 winning percentage leader, nominee for rookie of year and foundation of the pitching staff, Diasuke Matsuzaka was dealt for Jose Reyes. The rest of the staff looks pretty ragged going into the coming season.

Manager Burns said that "the starting [expletive] pitching staff [expletive] looks [expletive] [expletive] and [expletive] [expletive] too. They couldn't [expletive] [expletive], [expletive] if their [expletive], [expletive] lives [expletive] depended on it".

Ticket prices will be raised for the coming season, mostly to pay for the services of Dr. Rydell. Stay tuned for further updates.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Knights Share Blame for Zito's Failure

(New York Daily Mirror - December 23, 2008)

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar.

NEW YORK - William Shakespeare wrote those words over 400 years ago as part of Act III of his legendary play "Julius Caesar." It was those words that came to our editorial minds when embarking on the project of writing Barry Zito's epitaph as a member of the Knights after an awful four year tenure. New York is obviously ready to bury the memory of Zito's time here and certainly has little praise for him after an 0-23 season.

But a funny thing happened during our research for this article: we found out that while Zito's performances in a Knights uniform was certainly putrid, the Knights' overall ineptitude certainly was a contributing factor.

First, a little history. As any avid Knights fan can tell you (if you can find any, that is), Zito came to New York from Springfield after the 2004 season in exchange for the Knights' first round draft pick for 2005 (which was the sixteenth pick overall) and closer Joe Nathan. Knights GM Mitch Pak was heralded by fellow NASBL GM's for pulling off this deal, coming as it did weeks after Pak had obtained lefty Dontrelle Willis in a prior trade. But while Willis was a good pitcher, Zito had been a great one. In three seasons as a 'Tope, Zito compiled an impressive 59-24 record (a .711 winning percentage) and was a two-time 20-game winner. He seemed to be a perfect fit at the top of the Knights rotation, which had been starved for an ace since the trade of Mike Mussina in 2004.

But not everyone was happy with the deal; some whispered that the deal was too good to be true and that Zito, even at age 26, was in a decline. Some pointed to his declining strikeout totals from 2002 (213) to 2004 (144) and his control problems. Others wondered how an organization as smart and well-run as the Isotopes would let Zito go for a severely devalued pick and an unproven closer. But they were drowned out by the media jubilation at the apparent steal orchestrated by Mitch Pak.

Turns out the whisperers were right. Zito had an awful 2005 season for the Knights, going 7-13 with a 6.63 ERA, while Nathan went on to become a perennial All-Star closer. Knights brass, embarrassed at having brought in a high-profile dud, insisted that '05 was an aberration and that Zito would return to form in 2006 and lead the team to prosperity.

But it never happened. Zito ended up laboring in New York for the next three years, never once posting a winning season and never having an ERA under 5. In 2007, Zito contributed almost nothing to an 87-win Knights club, losing 13 games and posting a 6.28 ERA. But the last straw came in 2008, when Zito famously lost 23 games without a win and had a brutal 8.46 ERA. Even on a bad team like the '08 Knights, Zito's ineptitude stood out. He finished the 2008 season with a career Knights record of 26-62 and a 6.51 ERA in 128 starts. Its no secret that Zito's time in New York is over, even if the official announcement hasn't been made yet.

So when the time came to write Zito's retrospective, we thought the ease of excoriating the lefty would be akin to shooting fish in the proverbial barrel. After all, Zito's stats as a Knights were so bad, blasting him out of New York would be easy pickings. Right?

Wrong. When the numbers were crunched and the stats compiled, a stunning thing happened: we found that the quality of Zito's pitching was not appreciably worse in New York than it had been in Springfield. Impossible, we thought. But we checked and rechecked and what we found was surprising.

So instead of blasting Zito, we are here to defend him. Believe us, we are as shocked as you.

Initially, we have to conclude that the whisperers were partially correct; Zito had been in a decline when he came to New York but what the whisperers did not know was that Zito's numbers in Springfield were not as good as they appeared, so that when he came to an inferior team, which the Knights clearly were in comparison to the Topes, his numbers got worse as well. When you get away from the gaudy won-loss record, the WHP and ERA, his numbers for the two clubs are quite similar.

Consider the following breakdown of Zito's stats as a 'Tope and as a Knight.


W-L 59-26 26-62
ERA 4.71 6.51
WHP 1.51 1.67 (+9.6%)
IP/GS 6.7 6.1 (-8.9%)
K/BB 1.52 1.41 (-7.3%)
BB/9 4.53 4.67 (+3%)
K/9 6.9 6.6 (-4.4%)
H/9 9.02 10.4 (+13.3%)
HR/9 1.12 1.57 (+29%)

Collectively, the numbers indicate that Zito's control, which was widely panned in New York, really did not become very much worse in New York, as his walks per 9 innings ratio only increased by 3% and his strikeouts per nine innings declined by only 4.4%. His WHP increased nearly 10% in New York.

While its clear that Zito was not as good a pitcher in New York as he was in Springfield, the numbers don't explain why he lost so many more games in New York than he did for the 'Topes.

Some of Zito's other numbers worsened as well, such as hits per nine innings (up 13.3%), home runs allowed per nine innings (up 29%) and WHP (up 9.6%). But these numbers are affected by factors not under Zito's control.

Initially, team defense must be considered. The 'Topes, a perennial contender, boast superior defense to the Knights and always have. The Knights have never been about defense, Mitch Pak believing that the NASBL is a slugger's league and that defense doesn't win games. While we can't specify precisely how many probable hits were turned into outs by outstanding 'Topes defense while the opposite occurred with the inferior Knights defense, it seems reasonable to believe that the 'Topes fielders saved numerous hits from occurring while the Knights fielders didn't. That could account for the disparity in hits allowed per 9 innings. This would account for his heightened WHP as well.

Another factor affecting Zito's won-loss record is the quality of the Knights bullpen. In Zito's four seasons in New York, Knights relievers never got below the 30% level in allowing inherited runners to score. In both 2005 and 2006, the Knights bullpen allowed 39 and 37 percent of runners to score, which ranked near the bottom of the league. While its true that in 2002, the 'Topes pen allowed 41% of runners to score, that team also won 98 games, had a .301 team batting average and scored 1005 runs, clearly benefitting the starting pitching. But when you have a combination of a team that can't hit well and allows inherited runners to score, you're going to blow late leads and end up losing games that you might have otherwise have won. That's what happened to Zito as a Knight.

Zito's numbers in Springfield establish that he needed to be supported by good offense and a good bullpen to win. He wasn't the kind of pitcher to blow people away and win 1-0 games. In the only season that the Knights were a formidable offense, 2007, Zito had his best season, posting an 11-13 record and pitching over 209 innings. Its no coincidence, then, that Zito was so terrible in 2008, in a year when the Knights couldn't hit, couldn't score runs and couldn't field all that well either.

Thus, we conclude that while Zito was a terrible bust as a Knight and will always be reviled here, some of the blame lies with the teams he played on. As Julius Caesar said to Brutus in the very same play, "The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in the stars, but in ourselves."

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Happy Holliday

Matt Holliday will be a big part of Grundy County's offense this year.
Matt was acquired from the Troy Haymakers for gold glove Brandon Phillips, potential gold glove SS Yuniensky Betancourt, and RHSP Jason Marquis. Assistant GM Hog Howard of the Griz worked the lines to acquire Holliday who could not believe Troy had given up on him after one season. Troy had given up a lot to acquire him prior to the start of the 2008 NASBL season. TRY sent Chase Utley, Carl Crawford, and Matt Capps to LVI for Jered Weaver, Matt Holliday, and Mark Ellis.
Matt gave the Troy fans all that he could, batting .286 and leading the team with 30 lost balls. Matt did what ever it took to get on base, including leaning into 14 high-n-tight pitches.
The Griz assistant GM stated the addition of Holliday gives the bear offense another huge weapon. Matt's bat plays well early due to his good eye, high OBP, and speed. He may even leadoff. His power plays well later in the line-up as well. With the addition of Holliday, the Griz will be able to rest one or more of our big bats each game and still not lose anything offensively. We should score a lot of runs.
Matt completes a solid outfield that also includes BJ Upton and Vernon Wells. We have never had an outfield this good, said the Hog. We should have fun this season.
We wish You a Happy Holliday Season

Bonds will be Back! That's '007' not Barry

For the 1st time in 22 years Manager Red Robbins won't get to write the name 'Bonds' on his line-up card. "I remember watching this skinny kid play in the College World Series for Arizona State who happened to be the son of former MLB player Bobby Bonds. I followed Bobby's career when I was growing up and wondered if Barry could do or would do as well as his father. Little did I realize what was to follow", stated Robbins. Back in the earlier days of the NASBL (when there were 48 states I think) we had a National League and American League team, I had Pittsburgh and Detroit. We could protect up to two Rookies by using our 1st and 2nd round Draft Picks. I used Bonds as my 1st Round pick. Looking back it was 1 of my best decisions. A reporter from Vermont name Stephan Beardman asked Robbins, "Wasn't the an obvious move'? Robbins reply was, 'Duh'!

Barry had a lethal bat. He did a lot of damage to opposing teams. In 2009 the only way a Bonds will show up on DFW Roster is if '007' himself James Bond gets a card. Then the same reporter from Vermont Beardman said, "Maybe 007 can use one of his pens to lash out base hits instead of having the capability of killing a person"! Robbins just gave him a cold, hard glare!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Roadkill "Lifer" Helton traded to TGS Rival

The unthinkable occured when the Roadkill front office moved 1B Todd Helton for a #3 pick in the '09 draft to TGS division rival Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. For several years GRK has spurned any offer to move their All-Star & future NASBL HOF (.311BA/.555 SLG career).

GM Miller said "With all that Todd has meant to this club he deserves another shot at a ring & this is his best opportunity". After unloading their top five '09 draft picks for a futile run at the TGS division, Georgia will struggle to be a .500 club in the upcoming season.

Helton headed (#3 overall behind Kerry Wood & Greg Vaughn) the Roadkill's '99 monster draft class that included current teammates Mags (5th rd) & Varitek (15th). Miggy Tejeda was also taken in the 11th rd but had a short career with the 'Kill.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hot Stove Heats up as the Haymakers deal Holliday before the Holidays

TROY: Matt Holliday is a Haymaker no more. The player picked up in a major deal last off season and was considered untouchable during the season as the Haymakers drown in the toilet of the Less Filling West division; was sent packing to the Grizzlies on Monday for Brandon Phillips, Yuniesky Betancourt, and Jason Marquis.
Haymakers management has been busy this week making two more deals sending the other big bat, Aubrey Huff to the Chow Cows in return for the prospect Billy Butler and a third round pick. That third round pick was then traded for outfielder Cody Ross.
Based on the recent transactions to come out of Troy's camp, one would think that the team is building for the future and already folding on this season; but don't tell that to GM Ken Anderson. "Don't forget that we have 2 picks in 6 of the first 8 rounds of the draft, we are going to field a pretty competitive team." he says, "There are some pretty helpful players available in the draft, especially in the first two rounds where we have three picks."
On paper, the team looks very promising. The young talent of Hunter Pence, Andre Ethier and Elijah Dukes in the outfield along with the the newly acquired Phillips and Butler in the infield; they sound more like a lineup from the AAA All-Star game. And no one would confuse them with the likes of Hank Greenberg and Ty Cobb.
"Overall we are pretty pleased with our team," said the GM, "We like the talented arms and hitters we have on our team and are looking at a bright future for this ballclub."
Apparently the team was unhappy with their manager Davy Johnson who was fired today and replaced by Ed Kranepool. The new manager was quick to fire old pitching coach Dwight Gooden and bring in Jerry Kooseman. Mookie, HoJo and Keith Hernandez were the other coaches kept on the team. "I'm excited to be here and hopefully bring this team out of the basement in this division," said Kranepool, "Although this team had a successful first season, they still finished in last place. We are going to correct that this year." That's a bold statement; it seems the Haymakers have a lot of work to do during the draft.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Chows Bolster their Offense

Illinois Times --

A year ago, Illinois was entering the draft with 3 1st Round Picks and talk of getting younger. Today Illinois enters the draft without a 2nd or a 3rd -- and with one less prospect on the roster.

Illinois acquires Aubrey Huff from the Troy Haymakers for Billy Butler and Illinois' third round pick. Huff figures to be the Designated Hitter and provide protection in the line-up for Carlos Pena.

GM Brad Sherlag commented on the move, "We really wanted to add one more big bat to our line-up. We now have a couple of nice table-setters in Figgins and DeJesus and three big hitters in the heart of the order with Hanley, Pena and Huff. Add in Beltran, Willingham, Johnson and Suzuki and we are pretty solid now 1-9."

Illinois now has their principal line-up set and can concentrate on the pitching staff. For the second time in franchise history, the Chows will not be involved in the supplemental draft. "We can still add one more player if the right move becomes available. If not we will stick with our plan to keep Josh Fields and loan him to the White Sox for development." It seems that right player would almost have to be a starting pitcher. If the supplemental draft proves to be very deep, the Chows could go with 16.

"SUNGLASSES" AT KNIGHT - Knights Deal Matsui for OF Corey Hart

(New York Daily Mirror - December 16, 2008)

NEW YORK - There are so many uncertainties surrounding the Knights these days, but there is no doubt what song will be playing on the Empire Field PA when Corey Hart steps to the plate for the Knights in 2009.

The Knights last night completed a quick trade with the Lake Champlain Cannibals, dealing fading slugger Hideki Matsui to the Cannibals in exchange for RF Corey Hart. The trade follows Mitch Pak's public pronouncement in November that the Knights would be actively seeking to trade the 34 year old to get the team younger and more athletic.

Matsui earned an All-Star berth in 2008 but was perceived to have lost a degree of bat speed, resulting in a subpar season. Matsui hit 21 home runs last year but drove in just 66 runs and batted .235 with a .769 OPS. The Knights perceived him as being a declining asset. Matsui was the Knights' first pick in the 2004 draft and spent the last five seasons in New York. His best season was 2005, when he hit 47 homers and knocked in 121 runs while batting .311. He is second only to Michael Young in career games played for the Knights with 584.

Hart, 26, has been a part-time player for the Cannibals the past two seasons. His performance as a Cannibal has been pedestrian but the Knights felt that given the power-laden lineup in Lake Champlain, Hart never really had a chance to get 500 at bats. He will be given every chance to get the starting right fielder's job in New York in 2009.

"Hideki is a great talent," said Mitch Pak on WFAN radio last night, "and he's been a mainstay of our lineup for five years. But its clear that, after 118 losses last season, we have to make substantial changes on our club. While we hate to lose Hideki, we are thrilled to get back a young talent like Corey Hart. We wish Hideki well in Lake Champlain."

The Knights would now appear to be set in the outfield for 2009, with Xavier Nady, Grady Sizemore, Matt Kemp and now Hart available for the three positions.

Micah Owings -- "I was snubbed by the NWAA"

Illinois Times --

Dice K is this reporters front runner for the TG ROY but when I was pouring over my Nasbl Writers Association of America ballot yesterday, I noticed a curious omission from the hometown Chows. Micah Owings was listed on the Cy Young ballot but was not available for consideration for the ROY award. Dustin McGowan on the other hand merited ROY consideration but was not on the Cy Young ballot.

I called Micah and asked his opinion on the matter "Well I am very honored to be considered for the CY Young award but to me the ROY would have been more realistic. Sure Dice K will probably win the award - and he deserved to - but the NWAA needs to take more care in their selection process. Many players have incentive awards based on winning or finishing in the top 5 for postseason awards. These type of errors cost us money. The baseball writers association of America is not much better. I am friends with Edison Volquez and he told me he received three votes in their ROY balloting and he wasn't even a rookie."

"All I can say is if you were going to vote for me, vote for Tulo. His defense at SS was instrumental in me accumulating the wins I did. He also had a knack for hitting timely home runs all season."

I spoke with Owings for a while and the conversation later turned to his future with the Chows.

"I don't know what more I can do to show I belong." Owings last year was 14-6 with an ERA of 4.24. "My agent told me the Chows may go in another direction. I guess I am on the trading block. I just want a fair contract after the numbers I put up last year. I know I belong in this league and if the Chows don't want me somebody else will."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Vote BJ for LF ROY

BJ #1

GCG asks for your help and support voting BJ Upton as the Less Filing Rookie of the Year.

BJ had a great year. He was top base thief taking 30 bags. Upton scored the most runs and knocked home the most runners of his competition. He was within one hit and one walk of leading in those categories as well.

Upton also helped your pitching staff stats more than any other ROY candidate by striking out at least 40 more times than his closest competition. He helped your catcher's stats as well getting gunned down in double digits. You owe him!!!

BJ's Stats are / stats coded in red are league leaders in the LF ROY candidate

GCG -BJ Upton - 0.273 BAvg - 116 Games - 428 ABs - 60 Runs scored - 117 Hits - 19 Doubles -
1 Triples - 16 Homeruns - 68 RBIs - 43 BBs - 130 KO - 2 HBP - 0 SAC - 30 SB - 13 CS.

Grundy County is not asking for your pity, even if we have never won one year end award in our league history - But if that works we will accept your vote for that reason as well.

Thanks for your consideration.

Tom Glavine Retires

Illinois Times –

Tom Glavine announced the end of his storied 11 year career in the NASBL today.

At a press conference in the basement of Seventies Stadium, Glavine waxed nostalgic about his career. “When I broke in with Georgia in 1998, I never would have dreamed I would have 11 strong years in the NASBL. This is a tough league, especially so when you are a Southpaw. Very few pitchers can sustain success here for very long. I would have liked to have gotten to 150 wins, but at what price? Last year Illinois finally put up some runs for me, but I still could not manage a winning record. My ERA last season really tells me it is time to go.”

His best seasons were with Georgia where he amassed an 82-77 record. While Glavine never won the Cy Young, his best stretch came with Georgia where from 2001-2003 he was 45-29 with a 4.54 ERA. During this span he was one of the game’s elite.

When introducing Glavine, Chows GM/Owner gave context to his Illinois career. “Drafting Tommy was the very first move I made with the Chows. He was my first pick in the supplemental draft and will always have a warm place in my heart. He really deserved better with us but we didn’t really score many runs for him his first two years here. I could count on Tommy to take the ball every 5th day – his durability was a real asset to us in years where other guys went down. When I think of Glavine I think of a competitor.”

Tom Glavine has distinguished himself in the NASBL and appears all over the leader board. He has won double digit victories in each of the last 11 seasons – the only player in the NASBL to do so 11 straight years. He retires 4th on the career wins leader board with 139 victories. He is first all-time in the NASBL with 371 starts.

He is in the top 10 All-Time in the following categories:

Wins – 4th – 139
Losses – 1st – 149
Innings Pitched – 2nd – 2436.7
Games Started – 1st – 371
Complete Games – 8th – 67
Home Runs Allowed – 5th – 350

“Most of all I will miss my teammates. I played with some wonderful people over the years and have many friends from baseball. I will also miss the fans in Georgia, New Jersey and Illinois. All three cities made me feel at home.”

Vermont Welcomes Raúl Ibañez

Burlington, VT

In a short press release today, the Vermont Fighting Sioux announced the acquisition of LF/DH Raúl Ibañez from the Less Filling Champions Miami Surf in exchange for a 2nd round pick. The press release droned on about the 5 straight MLB seasons of an OBP over .350 and an OPS+ above 1.15 but conveniently left out Raúl's shortcomings in the field, thus the dual positional notation of LF/DH.

The Sioux currently have no DH or LF under contract, so Ibañez is a welcomed addition, regardless of his "range".

スー tribe, gets 2b that attached to smooth defense

Burlington, VT

For the second time in two days, a Less Filling Central club eager to improve on their dismal 2008 performance, made a trade involving a 1-rated second sacker. Instead of shipping one out of town like division rival GCG, the Vermont Fighting Sioux acquired Akinori Iwamura from the Springfield Isotopes in exchange for a 2nd round draft pick (LVI's #2) in the 2009 NASBL Rookie/Free Agent draft.
Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Akinori Iwamura, of Japan, throws after fielding a ground ball during an American League championship series baseball practice Thursday Oct. 9, 2008 in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Boston Red Sox take on the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 1e on Friday. From AP Photo by Chris O'Meara.
In addition to flashing his leather, the presumptive American League Gold Glove runner-up will be part of a platoon at 2b with the incumbent, Robinson Cano. Switch hitting Aki will face RHP (.356 obp in '08 MLB) while the lefty Cano will oppose LHP (.349).

Vermont now boasts an impressive defensive infield with 1s at 1b (Albert Pujols), 2b (Aki), ss (Jack Wilson) and a 2 at 3b (Ryan Zimmerman). Lord knows the pitching staff will need all the help it can get.

"This move was made necessary by Robbie posting a career low OPS+ for the parent club this past season. If he bounces back this year, we'll be in the enviable position of having two talented second basemen", said Sioux GM Justin Rabidoux. When relayed that quote, a miffed Cano stated, "Bounce back, I've got your bounce back right here" while pointing to his nether region.

Hurt feelings aside, this move improves the Vermont club, but is the dealing done? "Hopefully not yet", replied a weary Rabidoux from his stool at the local saloon. Rabidoux is rumored to be upset at himself as a result of being late in the Matt Holliday sweepstakes but is definitely in the market for a big bat and has the draft picks to get a deal done.

Monday, December 15, 2008

And Now There Is 1

News Flash from the chilly midwest.

Prior to (Not Mark Prior to) the bears curling up for their long winters nap. Papa bear made changes to the roster once again. The Griz dispatched 1/2 their 2008 gold glove infield and a prime innings eater to the Haymakers for a seasonal gift. Terms of the deal to be announced in an upcoming article(s).

Griz 2008 opening day infield of Youkilis 1B-1, Phillips 2B-1, Betancourt SS-2, and Lowell 3B-1 is only a distant memory for Grundy County fans.

Lowell was dispatched after the season's first Block with a group of stud relievers for mega prospect Alex Gordon.

Phillips and Betancourt were part of a package the Griz parted with this festive season in their quest for the latest Helen of Troy.

And then there is one. Kevin Youkilis remains on the Griz active roster. However, he will probably be assigned to the otherside of the diamond or pasture duty more often than 1B. Oh well, a new direction for the bottom feeders.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Best (Luckiest) Draft Ever

Lady Luck was signed by Outlaw on January 30, 2008. That's the day we selected Mike Napoli with the second overall 2008 NASBL Supplemental Draft pick and kicked off the by far best ever draft in the history of the Outlaw Josey Wales. We drafted not four keepers last year, nor five, not six, nor seven keepers. As of now, it's looking like we'll have eight quality keepers from last year's draft, and we weren't even in a rebuilding mode!

As much as I'd like to claim incredible insight and skill, luck obviously had a lot to do with it. And a few of these players may have had career 2008 MLB seasons and end up to be short-term keepers. Nevertheless, I plan on fully enjoying last year's draft throughout the 2009 NASBL season. Here's a recap of the probable keepers from last year's draft and their 2008 MLB performance:

#1 Supp - Mike Napoli. I was drawn to his power potential and good card against RHP despite the low AB and BA. His 20 HR in 227 AB and .960 OPS are McGwire-esque stats for his 2008 262 MLB PA. He'll be gainfully employed against the Tastes Great competition next year. Napoli might cost long-time catcher Ramon Hernandez a roster spot and could pay off long-term if he can overcome his streakiness and nail down a full-time job.

#2 Supp - Scott Downs. It's been getting harder every year to find a good balanced LH relief pitcher card in the draft, so I jumped on his 2.17 ERA early, expecting only one season in return. I consider it pure luck that this 32 year-old journeyman improved in '08 with a 1.78 ERA, 5 saves, and 70 IP. He could be only a two-year keeper, but then he's lowered his MLB ERA and WHIP for six consecutive years and the Jays are considering him for the rotation next year.

#1 Rookie - Dustin Pedroia. Sophomore years don't get much better than gold glove, MVP, and OPS comparable to Big Papi. It was hard to pass up Braun and Tulowitzki, but I needed a second baseman, Omar was good for one more season, Dustin had managed to excel at all levels of baseball despite the naysayers, he's a defensive wiz at a crucial position, and analysis of the critical right side of his card showed it to be nearly as good as the right side of the unbalanced Braun and Tulowitzki cards. Time will tell whether Pedroia was the right choice, but Outlaw couldn't be happier so far.

#2 Rookie - Joakim Soria. Another guy who exceeded our high expectations in his sophomore MLB season. I really needed a closer and it was between Joakim and Manny Corpas. Most of what I read gave Soria the edge in potential, and then there's the "do not draft a Rockies pitcher" rule. Outlaw was and is hoping the Mexicutioner will nail down our closer spot for years, but a sophomore 1.60 ERA, 42 saves, and 0.86 WHIP are icing on the cake.

#3 Rookie - Ryan Ludwick. I needed a guy who could handle Center and Right better than Alfonso Soriano (not a high bar to set) and also hit right-handed pitching. I liked his power potential and figured he had a chance to be a keeper, but I'd be a flat out liar to say I wasn't as shocked as everyone else by his Pujols-esque 37 HR, 113 RBI and .857 OPS. 2008 may have been his career year, but I plan on enjoying it to the fullest.

#6 Rookie - Melvin Mora. This one was a deliberate sleeper pick. I needed more AB at third and Mora had a usable 2007 card. Sometimes it pays off to gamble on an aging veteran who has had a bad year or two after seasons of proving that he can bring it on. Mora's .285/23/104 2008 MLB stats made it easier to pull the trigger on the Aramis Ramirez for Rich Harden trade which vastly improves our 2009 rotation.

#9 Rookie - Ryan Theriot. This was pure luck. All I was looking for was a utility infielder who could double as a pinch runner last year. I don't like playing 3e20 at SS, but with Omar's decline it looks like Theriot and his well-balanced .384 OBP fell into my lap at just the right time. And if we're really lucky, Hal's inclination to improve range ratings on division winning teams will benefit Ryan.

#10 Rookie - Ryan Dempster. This was another deliberate sleeper pick that paid off big time for at least one season. I figure that any time you're looking for IP in the late rounds and can get a reliever who is being considered for the starting rotation and has any potential at all, grab him! A 2.96 ERA in 206 IP is more than we could have hoped for.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Josh Fields is on the Block

Dateline Illinois:

We met up with Chows Owner/GM Brad Sherlag on his way to this years Winter meetings. He was disappointed, yet encouraged with the 2008 season. "We made great strides, we were a winning club for the first time. Our division is extremely competitive right now and we think we can compete next year. All four clubs have an eye on the play-offs -- hopefully we will be one of the ones that make it next season."

Sherlag would not get into a lot of specifics, but he is looking for starting pitching and corner outfield help. "When you think about it -- to win 87 games and still pick 7th - we should get another cornerstone player." When asked about off-season trades, Sherlag sounded doubtful something would happen. "We really made our off-season move after Block II getting DeJesus. He will start in RF for us next year vs. Righties and should be better than the corner outfielder we would have taken at 23. Not having a 2nd rounder to deal will hinder our chances of helping the club. We are exploring trading a little youth to try and get better. Josh Fields had a solid rookie campaign in the NASBL, but he really won't play for us this year behind Figgins and Beltre. "

Fields could definitely be a nice player for a rebuilding team to get. Illinois is planning on keeping him as their 17th player -- but could be willing to deal Josh for some help at one of their needs. An aging DH type from a rebuilding team could be a deal that would make some sense.

Fields is projected to start at 3B this season for the Chicago White Sox (a team Illinois will loan him to so he can get some ABs in 2009). Due to plate appearance rules, Fields will not be in the NASBL supplemental or regular draft if Illinois elected to cut him loose. "We are 95% sure we will keep Josh as our last keeper. We just have to make sure we can get by with 29 players next year. We really believe Josh will start for somebody in the NASBL in 2010 be it us or another club."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Turkey Day!

"Happy Thanksgiving"

Just a note to Wish All NASBL'ers a Happy Thanksgiving! To a bunch of guys I consider good friends and if you came up to me and slapped me in the face (c'mon don't tell me you haven't thought about doing that once, maybe twice! :) ) I wouldn't even know you!! Until you started making some trade offers that only Paris Hilton would make!! D'OH! A Big Thank you to snowboard king 'Beard' for keeping up the website, for running the Draft and babysitting 15 different personalities!!

"Happy Thanksgiving" Guys! RR

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Outlaw Career Leaders

I was intrigued by Justin's career rankings post last month, so now that I have a few spare minutes I decided to stay up too late tonight drinking Longboard Lagers and tabulating Outlaw's career player rankings. To paraphrase Justin, using the new "Team by Team Single Season Leaders" function on the NASBL web site, we calculated the top Outlaw hitters and hurlers. Assigning 10 points for 1st place and 1 for 10th place for the major statistical categories, the top hurler and pitcher are no surprise:

Tim Hudson - Outlaw's career leader in complete games (82), innings pitched (1933), strikeouts (1262), shutouts (13), and wins (116), this 2000 first round draft pick and Cy Young winner has certainly lived up to his potential. With the power hitters that Outlaw has lined up for 2009, we expect Tim to add a lot to all those stats next year.

Manny Ramirez - Manny leads all Outlaw sluggers in at bats (5531), hits (1698), doubles (359), homers (405), extra base hits (778), RBI (1124), runs (989), and walks (799). And he's second in four other major statistical categories. And all this playing in a pitcher's park! ManRam's 150 point total was more than 50% higher than the closest competition. Manny was a product of the old NASBL rookie protection system for my Cleveland Indians and all trade inquiries about this hitting machine were promptly met with a standard "pry him out of my cold dead hands" clause. With Manny looking for a long-term contract and showing no signs of slowing down for teams that keep him happy, who knows what stats he'll rack up by the end of his career.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Knights 2008 Report Card (Viewer Discretion Advised)

(New York Daily Mirror - October 29, 2008)

Well, don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Back in the winter depths of January, a scant nine months ago, the Mirror provided an in-depth preview of the Knights upcoming season and predicted that the club would have a very difficult time producing enough runs this year to compete in the NASBL and that since the club had not upgraded its starting rotation, carnage would ensue. Unfortunately for Knights fans (however many are left), our prediction could not have been more accurate, as the Knights were badly outplayed all year, fell out of contention before the end of Block 1 and staggered, bloody and beaten, to a dismal 118 losses. The 44 wins is the lowest total since the Knights moved to New York and is the second-worst showing in franchise history (only the 40-122 ’99 North Celtic Druids were worse). But even we could not foresee how bad the pitching was.

First, some of the ugly realities of the season.

There were two 14-game losing streaks and a third schneid of 10 games. The Knights did not have a single month where they won even 10 games. Not one.

The Knights fell into the LF Central cellar on May 4th and guarded it jealously for the rest of the season.

The offense was truly offensive. The Knights managed to score only 4.31 runs per game, while allowing 5.96 runs to their opponents. They were held to 4 runs or less an astounding 116 times. Think about that for a minute. The team finished 14th in batting average (.256), 14th in hits (1,453), 15th in runs scored (690), last in on-base percentage (.311) and 14th in slugging (.414). Despite finishing 9th in team home runs with a very respectable 193, the team drove in just 674 runs, meaning that there were a lot of solo shots. They hit just 277 doubles, last in the league, and down a staggering 113 from 2007.

The story was worse on the pitching side. The starting staff won a combined 22 games and lost 78 with a 6.90 aggregate ERA. They managed one shutout all year and just 19 complete games. Erstwhile ace Barry Zito, whose star has fallen farther than anyone would ever have imagined, became the first pitcher in NASBL history to lose more than 20 games without winning at least one. And in the category of “misery loves company,” Doug Davis and Matt Cain, a 15-game winner a year ago, also lost 20 games. The trio of 20-game losers actually surpasses the starting staff of the infamous 1962 Mets, who only had two 20-game losers.

Even more ugliness: the team finished 15th in ERA (5.64), 15th in earned runs allowed (905), 15th in hits allowed (1,652), 14th in home runs allowed (239) and dead last in walks allowed (722).

And so on. You get the picture. This Knights team was beyond atrocious. They were beyond brutal. Frankly, they were bad beyond this page’s ability to adequately describe.
As you would expect, there were many villains complicit in the crime that was the ’08 campaign, although there were a few hardy souls who tried their best. The Mirror names names and hereby presents its annual report card for the 2008 New York Knights.

Michael Young – Grade: B+

In 2007, the captain had a bad season (4-60-.276) and largely escaped media scrutiny because the Knights were contending. He rebounded well in 2008, hitting .291 with 14 homers, 70 RBI and 184 base hits, fifth in the NASBL and third most in his career. Gained his 1,000th career hit in late September. Committed another 23 errors, however; the Knights would be well-served to at least consider moving Young to DH in 2009 and looking for a shortstop with better defensive skills.

Manny Delcarmen – Grade: B+

Delcarmen was the Knights’ third round pick in the 2008 rookie draft and he delivered a solid season in middle relief. Posted a 2.82 ERA in 28 appearances, spanning 51 innings. Struck out 47 while walking just 20. Held opponents to a .218 average.

Justin Miller – Grade: B+

Miller was another member of the Knights’ middle relief corps, which actually did have a pretty good year. Miller posted a 3.06 ERA over 47 innings, fanning 49 and walking just 14.

Xavier Nady – Grade: B+

Often overlooked, Nady delivered a solid year, batting .272 with 23 homers, 62 RBI and an .829 OPS in just 390 at bats. Was especially effective against left-handed pitching, batting .338.

Ty Wigginton – Grade: B

Wiggy had a great power year, blasting a team-leading 30 homers, tying Troy’s Matt Holliday and Vermont’s Albert Pujols for 4th in the league. Also tied Pujols for 8th in RBI with 86. Gets demerits for a .242 BA, a lowish (but good for an infielder) .769 OPS and for grounding into 21 double plays (tied for 6th with Seattle’s Brian Giles). Was no bargain defensively either.

Kevin Gregg – Grade: B

Gregg, along with Delcarmen and Miller, formed the nucleus of the Knights middle relief corps. Assumed the closer role after the trade of Takashi Saito, and posted 8 saves and a 3.13 ERA. His walks were a cause for alarm, however, as he issued 34 bases on balls in 60.1 innings, compared to 52 strikeouts. Held lefties to a .154 average.

Orlando Hernandez – Grade: B

By a large margin, El Duque was the Knights’ best starter in 2008. Had a winning season at 11-10 in both starting and relief roles and posted a good 4.16 ERA. Also posted two saves. Limited by usage requirements to just 149.1 innings.

Scott Hatteberg – Grade: B-

Hatteberg delivered another good year in a part-time role for the Knights, batting .307 with 10 homers, 38 RBI and an .845 OPS in 95 games. Gets demerits for inability to hit lefties (.056).

Ruben Gotay – Grade: B-

Gotay was a late-round draft pick intended to platoon with Wigginton at second. Delivered a good year (.312, 11 homers, .881 OPS) but his usefulness was severely curtailed by usage requirements, limiting him to just 68 games and 234 at bats. Hardly played during the season’s second half.

Scott Linebrink – Grade: C+

One of the club’s long men, Linebrink had a subpar year, going just 1-5 with a 4.75 ERA in 54 games. Was most effective against lefty batters (.236 average against). Struck out 70 in 91 innings while walking 41.

Matt Kemp - Grade: C+

Kemp was the Knights’ first overall pick in the draft and while he didn’t perform badly, he was disappointing. Batted .287 in 314 at bats, but his lack of power (just 3 homers), low OPS (.713) and poor plate discipline (72 strikeouts) hurt the club. Stole just 3 bases. Does figure to have a starting role in 2009.

Garrett Atkins – Grade: C+

Atkins fell off considerably from his All-Star season in 2007, batting just .261 with a .716 OPS. Did hit 19 homers (compared to 21 in 2007) but drove in just 63 runs. Of his 137 hits, an unacceptable 97 were singles. Also grounded into 16 double plays.

Mike Jacobs – Grade: C+

Became a semi-regular player in 2008 and delivered an adequate season, batting .267 with 13 homers and 48 RBI in 91 games. Had a low .307 on-base percentage and batted just .171 against lefties.

Hideki Matsui – Grade: C

Don’t let the All-Star nomination fool you: Matsui’s season may have been the most disappointing of any Knights position player. Despite battling injuries during all of 2007, still managed to lead the team with a .370 BA and .998 OPS. Reported to camp completely healthy in the spring, but nevertheless fell off tremendously. His .235 average, .321 OBP and .724 OPS tell a more accurate tale. Did hit 21 homers, most since his 47 homer season in 2005. The Knights are looking to move Matsui, who is now 34.

Eric Gagne – Grade: C

Performed better than expected but since no one expected anything from this reclamation project, anything he provided was a bonus. Posted a 2-2 record with a 4.89 ERA in 35 games. Had control problems, resulting in 50 strikeouts against 30 walks. Allowed 62 hits in 49.2 innings, but kept the club in games.

Johnny Estrada – Grade: C-

Estrada was drafted by the Knights as insurance in the event prized rookie Jarrod Saltalamacchia did not work out as planned. Salty flopped and Estrada was pressed into service, playing 122 games and batting .240 with 7 homers and 38 RBI. His .573 OPS was abominable and unacceptable, even for a backup.

Grady Sizemore – Grade: C-

Sizemore is another player whose 2008 performance fell off sharply from the year before. Inexplicably could not get his batting average over .230 for the majority of the season and finished at .224 with a .699 OPS. Strikeouts shot up (156, second only to Ryan Howard in the LF) while his slugging percentage fell all the way to .385, awful for an outfielder. His 91 runs scored were good for 8th in the LF and did hit 22 homers. Stole just 9 bases and was caught 7 times.

Adam LaRoche – Grade: C-

Fell off substantially from his 2007 numbers, batting just .234 with 8 homers and 38 RBI. Was benched later in the season in favor of Mike Jacobs. Struck out 77 times in just 282 at bats and had a weak .680 OPS.

Chad Qualls – Grade: D+

The Knights were pleased to bring Qualls back to the club after cutting him after the 2007 season, but Qualls did not come close to repeating his superior ’07 performance. Was the least effective of the entire middle relief corps, posting a 5.63 ERA and allowing 86 hits (including 15 homers) in 76.2 innings. Righties blasted him for a .345 average against. Did have 74 strikeouts.

Adam Wainwright – Grade: D

To paraphrase Dean Wormer’s missive to “Pinto” Kroger in “Animal House,” Wainwright was the valedictorian of the Knights’ brutal starting rotation. Lost “only” 14 games, as opposed to winning 5, and posted a high 5.60 ERA. Opponents crushed him for a .304 average. Allowed 239 hits in 191.1 innings, including 21 homers. Only saving grace were his 4 complete games. Remember - Wainwright was the best of the Knights starters!

Jarrod Saltalamacchia – Grade: D

Salty was one of the Knights most disappointing draft selections in club history. Taken in the second round and was sought after by several clubs. Batted a paltry .194 with 2 homers and 11 RBI with a ridiculous .493 OPS. Had more strikeouts (43) than hits and walks combined (27), always the sign of a failed season.

Mike Piazza – Grade: D

Piazza was well past his prime the day he set foot in New York and his numbers showed it. Batted just .227 with a .561 OPS, 3 homers and 10 RBI in 38 games, easily the worst numbers of Piazza’s illustrious career. Spurred on perhaps by the Knights’ abysmal performance in 2008, announced his retirement after the season ended.

Cliff Floyd – Grade: D

Floyd was taken in the late rounds of the draft as a pinch hitter and spot starter in the outfield. Even given his age and milage, his .205 average, .262 OBP and .587 OPS were not good enough to help this team in any capacity.

Matt Cain – Grade: D

Went from being a 15-game winner in 2007 to a 20-game loser in 2008. Avoids a failing grade by the fact that his ERA this year (5.74) was just marginally higher than it was in 2007 (5.33), suggesting that Cain suffered greatly from the drop in run support between the two seasons. Was 6th in the LF in strikeouts with 169 and tied for 5th in complete games with 8. Allowed way too many home runs (37).

Doug Davis – Grade: F

Won 6 games (as opposed to Cain’s five) but gets a failing grade because his performance was much worse than Cain’s. Posted a hideous 6.28 ERA and allowed 260 hits, second worst in the LF. Was also tied for second in homers allowed with 39. Control and arm strength continued to decline from his sterling 2006 numbers, allowing 93 walks against just 139 strikeouts.

Dontrelle Willis – Grade: F

Not much was expected from Willis this season, but even so, he performed horribly. Made 24 starts after Orlando Hernandez went to the bullpen but won just 3 games and lost 11. Led the team in run support with 5.24 runs per 9 innings, but squandered it by posting a hideous 7.39 ERA. Batters feasted off his pitches to the tune of a .323 average. Walked 91 and struck out 95.

Barry Zito – Grade: F

Zito’s season was historic and not in a good way. To lose 23 games and not win even once requires not only incompetence on an incomprehensible scale, it also requires a huge dollop of bad luck. Even given his brutal 8.46 ERA, should have won at least once. His numbers were actually not much worse than Willis’ (.325 average against, 94 walks, 107 strikeouts) and were even better in some categories. Nevertheless, you are what your record says you are, and Zito’s record speaks for itself. It may never be duplicated.

Rafael Perez – Grade: Inc.

Perez came over in the trade that sent Takashi Saito to Georgia. Never threw a pitch for the Knights in 2008 because of overusage considerations. Has a good arm and figures to play a large role in 2009, barring a trade.

Josh Wilson – Grade: Inc.

Wilson, a utility player, was largely forgotten after the start of the season. Spent most of the year with the Knights’ AAA minor league team, the Cedarhurst Cedars. Appeared in 10 games in Block 4 and batted 5 times without a hit.

The Knights’ 2009 outlook is actually better than you would believe. The Knights will likely have the overall #1 pick, the starting rotation will be overhauled and you figure that players like Sizemore will go back to form. Besides, its almost impossible to be as bad as the Knights were two seasons straight – right?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Iron Pigs Welcome Newest Hog

Bethlehem management is pleased to announce the newest member of the IronPig family, Todd Helton. GM Kevin Burns was practically gushing when the deal was finalized. Todd has been one of my favorite players for many years. His combination of defense and on base ability is second to none. He will bring a steadying influence to the Iron Pigs infield and transform the infield defense into a strength. We are slightly concerned about his durability and age, but when the opportunity presented itself, we had to pull the trigger.

Helton joins new IronPigs Derek Jeter, Chase Utley and Russell Martin to form a strong infield. This move allows Hank Blalock to return to 3b and should provide a very solid infield offensively and defensively.

We expect Todd's power numbers to dip somewhat next season as he gets acclimated to the spacious ballpark. We believe that emerging sluggers Carlos (San) Quentin, Josh (Oooooh what a big stick I've got) Hamilton, and Chase (chicks dig the longball) Utley bring enough power (and enough nicknames) to allow for a successful marketing campaign next season. Stay tuned for further developments.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Outlaw Acquires Harden for 2009 Run

Harden: "We're going to Rock the South!"

Outlaw announced the acquisition of ace starting pitcher Rich Harden today. Harden passed the rigorous physical exam insisted on by team officials who were beaming at the prospect of landing a dominant ace. "We're absolutely delighted to have Rich join the staff," announced GM Hildebrant. "We now have a guy who can shut down any team in NASBL when he's healthy. And our doctors assure us that Rich is completely healthy. Our playoff runs in the past always had one gaping hole - an ace who could match up against the opponent's number one. Today we closed that gap"

The young flamethrower will join teammates Jake Peavy, Tim Hudson, Scott Kazmir, and Ryan Dempster in what the Outlaw faithful hope will be the most dominant starting rotation in team history. When questioned about Harden's injury history, and nagging aches and pains to Peavy, Hudson, and Kazmir, pitching coach Curly Q. Link said, "We're going to baby these arms. We plan on drafting a sixth starter and going to a six man rotation. We have enough talent to spread it out. There's no guarantees in this business, but we will do what we can to minimize the chance of injury to all of our aces."

Harden, who carries a 31-17 career record with three different NASBL teams, exclaimed "I'm sad to be leaving a team as great as the Topes. We do have some unfinished business this year then I'll be heading directly to Texas. I'm ecstatic about joining a team with the potential that Outlaw has next year and becoming a cog in that outstanding starting rotation. Mark my words we're going to do some great things in 2009. We're going to Rock the South!

The price was high. Springfield GM Douglas Sherlag insisted on star third sacker Aramis Ramirez. Aramis has been with the Wales since his second round draft selection in 1999. Since then his steady presence in the middle of the Outlaw lineup has racked up 157 HR and 508 RBI. "I'm absolutely stunned," said Ramirez. "I never saw this coming. Outlaw is the only home I've known and I'll miss the great fans and teammates. But baseball is a business. And if I have to go anywhere, Springfield's the place. It's a quality organization and would you believe there's already an Aramis Ramirez fan club in Springfield? In fact more of my jerseys have been sold in Springfield than anywhere outside of Outlaw Pond."

Aramis's big bat will be missed, but Outlaw officials expect Melvin Mora to step into the everyday third base role. He's an experienced veteran whose current health and conditioning position him for a big comeback year. With sluggers Manny Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Ryan Ludwick, Alfonso Soriano, Jason Bay, and Dustin Pedroia still around, there's plenty of pop left to back up the big five starters.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Barry's Last Hurrah

This will be the last time we see Barry Bonds in a DFW uniform. Now I realize that 15 other teams will be very happy to hear that, AND please quit inviting me to your 'Good Bye Bonds' party because I'm not going to attend. Every inning Bonds has played has been for either DFW or the Pittsburgh Pirates way way back in the 'olden days' before the NASBL merged into 1 league (and some of you were playing in a sandbox--wait a sec, am I taking a shot at you guys? No. Just saying I'm old!). DFW did get a little lucky by backing into the Wild Card spot. SPL had a chance but couldn't win those must win games down the stretch. I know how SPL feels because I have lost several must win game before. Playing a team with nothing to play for is like taking care of an injured wild animal; at the end they might bite you in ass!!

Defending Champions* DFW will need to have big playoff series from veterans Ken Griffey Jr, Derek Lee, Victor Martinez and of course Bonds. Bonds limited by injuries again this year batted .271 with a team leading 35 dingers and 91 RBI's, in just 339 at-bats. The pitching most definitely has to pick up the pace and it starts with new comers Ian Snell and 1st RD Draft pick Jeremy Guthrie. Snell lead DFW starters with a 14-12, 4.24era with 8cg.

"If Barry can get hot and the other guys can kick it up a notch, there is always hope that we can catch 'lighting in a bottle'! At lease we get the opportunity to try", stated the skipper of the Spurs Red Robbins.

* = last time that will be written this season

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Outlaw Shopping List

Outlaw usually likes to wait for fielding and card ratings to trade, but we're really amped about 2009. We figured we ought to let the early traders know what we'll probably be shopping and looking for:

1) Third baseman Melvin Mora (.285/23 HR/104 RBI). What a comeback!

2) Jonathon Broxton - the future is now for this 24 year old flamethrower. His ERA was up a little this year due to a couple of bad outings but don't let that deceive you. His WHIP, H/9, K/9, & HR/9 were as good as ever. This young man could be your stud closer for a very, very long time. Think Percival, Hoffman, Rivera ....

3) Draft picks - all of the Wales 2009 draft picks are on the table, and all of our 2010 picks will be on the table as soon as legally possible.

What are we looking for:

1) A stud starting pitcher. Or just a good one, depending on price.

2) A five-tool centerfielder. OK, we'd settle for three or four tools as long as they include fielding and on-base.

We'll trade now for the right offer and we'll trade later for the right offer.

Outlaw Congratulates Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs

The Outlaw Josey Wales congratulates the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs and their new owner and GM Kevin Burns on a successful first season culminating in a playoff berth in the highly competitive Tastes Great South. Ninety-six wins is a heck of a debut! We urge the Pigs on and wish you the best of luck in carrying on the proud traditions of the South.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

VFS Career Player Rankings

While some of you have the playoffs to look forward to, for the Sioux, thankfully, there are two distractions. The first thinking about the March 2009 draft and the second is playing around with all the new stat features added to the web site by Steve.

Using the new "Team by Team Single Season Leaders" function, we calculated the top 10 VFS hitters and hurlers. The Sioux have been in existence since the 2001 NASBL season, and this was a fun look back at the old days. Oh how I do miss Bubba Trammell and his HUGE potential.

Assigning 10 points for 1st place and 1 for 10th place for the major statistical categories, here's a look at the Sioux stars of yesteryear and today.


Albert Pujols
- 353 points - Will retire as a life long Sioux slugger. Plenty of tread left on his tires, assuming those nasty rumors aren't true.
Sammy Sosa - 115 points - Once the darling of the US of A, he hasn't been the same in the media's eyes since he contracted a still unknown disorder that didn't allow him to speak English in Washington D.C. Did post an all-time NASBL season in '02 blasting 75 HRs and driving in 155.
Derek Jeter - 83 points - Acquired in a 2004 mid-season trade, he's been a consistent performer for the Sioux until his departure this season via trade to the well-run LVI Piggies. Also likes poon and unnecessary dives.
Carlos Delgado - 76 points - Always protected Pujols in the cleanup spot, currently swatting bombs the Home/Road splits mystery that is the Miami Surf. Not a big fan of Francis Scott Key.
Tino Martinez - 44 points - Tino finished out his NASBL career as one of the anchors on the formative Sioux teams of the early millennium, hit many a meaningless dinger for .500 VFS squads.
Melvin Mora - 31 points - Same as Tino, only with less HRs. And more kids.
Ryan Zimmerman - 22 points - Once touted as a future star of MLB, has seen his stats decline in each of his 3 big league seasons.
Robinson Cano - 22 points - A one time doubles hitting machine, he will be nothing more than a full season of "Oh, Crap" to the Sioux fans in 2009.
Juan Pierre - 18 Curics - Steals bases with the discretion of a J.T. Marlin newbie dispensing stock tips.
David Eckstein - 17 points - What can I say that hasn't already been said much better by Mose Schrute.


John Lackey - 111 points - The former Sioux ace is now getting it done for the 'Kill. Was 49-24 in his VFS career.
Paul Byrd - 90 points - Ill-advised former first round pick, often scoffed at by Fueher Beard in uncalled for Hot Stove Heater zingers.
Billy Wagner - 88 points - He of the 96 career VFS saves was last seen blowing leads for the hapless MLB Mets.
Hideo Nomo - 77 points - Put up pretty good #s for pretty bad Sioux teams of a few years ago.
Uggie Urbina - 65 points - Venezuela's favorite pyro.
Jeff Suppan - 62 points - What's sadder, the current state of Suppan's heater or the fact that he's the #3 returing starter for the 2009 Sioux. Vermont Fighting Sioux, get your season tickets now!!!
Brett Myers - 52 points - Ladies, don't argue with him. Ever.
Eddie Guardado - 47 points - Formed a decent 1-2 pen punch with Uggie back in the day. Somehow is still an effective MLB pitcher, who would've thunk it?
Scot Shields - 31 points - Last seen leading the Fenway faithful in a Dirty Water sing-a-long.
Ervin Santana - 29 points - The Sioux future. Fear it.

2008 NASBL Playoff Preview

Tastes Great Division Series

Honolulu Hawaiians (97-65) at Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (96-66):

The home field advantage of the spacious Pig Pen (single 2/2, homerun 2/2) could be significant. The Hawaiians had 23 more regular season wins at home in claustrophobic Pietruska Park (single 20/20, homerun 20/20) than they did on the road, the second highest home/road win split of any NASBL team (behind only MSU's bipolar 31 win difference). Key matchups: The hot-hitting Hawaiians offense (league-leading .300 team batting average) versus the tough to hit Iron Pigs pitching staff (.241 opponents batting average, lowest in the league). The suspension of Hawaiian uber-utility player Yunel Escobar (.319/9/71 in 108 games) could put a kink in HHA's offensive gameplan, but with perennial Gold Glover Scott Rolen (.269/11/61 in 123 games) finally healthy, Honolulu may pick up more on the defensive end than they lose on offense. Lehigh Valley may also see a change at 3b, albeit a voluntary one. With HHA's all right-handed rotation, rookie Mark Reynolds (.301/.383/.484 overall, but .417 vsL) may give way to little-used former 1st rounder Hank Blalock (.244/6/23 in 197 ab's).

Less Filling Division Series

Dallas Fort Worth Spurs (83-79) at Pocono Chin Music (87-75)

True to their name, the Chin Music were 4th best in the NASBL in strikeouts, and 3rd best in ERA. The perenially strong Pocono rotation led by John Smoltz (3.31 ERA, best in the LF) and Johan Santana (248 strikeouts, also tops in the LF) look to provide the lightning, while woodsman Prince Fielder (league-leading 57 hr's) brings the thunder with the lumber. Key matchups: Veteran DFW sluggers Barry Bonds (.271/.406/.617 in 389 ab's) and Ken Griffey Jr (21 hr's, 2nd on the team) need to play like the future NASBL Hall of Famers they are. While the presence of The Johan on the mound would seem at first glance to be able to neutralize the two Spur southpaws, a closer examination reveals that KGJ actually hit significantly better (.320 ba and .500 slg) against his own kind.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Iron Pig Review

Now that the dust has settled on the innagural regular season of baseball in the Lehigh Valley, managment would like to take a moment to reflect upon the wonderful interview put together by Justin prior to the season. We are humbled by being so fortunate as to have made the postseason and will endeavor to do our best in the playoffs. Here are the questions and answers from the interview prior to the season. New comments will be printed in itallics.

Q: First, congrats on taking over a playoff team. Second, how can we get this team to .500?

A: Iron Pig management is pleased to take over a team steeped in playoff tradition. We are optimistic that this team can be even better than the powerhouse that won the South Division in 2007. Perhaps our goals are too lofty, but we believe that we can improve by at least 12 games this season. We believe that the path to success involves bribing umpires to make favorable calls to improve our staff era from 5.72 to a more respectable 4.00 range. Contractors have also been working diligently to remove seats and modify the outfield fence to aid our pitchers. Our path to success starts with pitching.

We were pleased to see that our strategy of paying off the umpires was effective. Our team ERA dropped to a respectable 3.82 and the wins total increased to 96. Moving the outfield fences into the old parking area helped this effort as well. 3.82 is a marked improvement from 5.72 and we are pleased to announce that our pitching coach N. Ryan will have his contract extended due to the excellent results that he has acheived.

Q: Presently LVI has no catchers under contract. That fact combined with staff ace Chris Young’s +9 hold rating, portends a field day for opposing base stealers. What the heck can the Pigs do (other than drafting Juan Pierre in the supp. draft; if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!) so as not to fall victim to the, well, Juan Pierres of the league?

A: While we agree that Chris Young does have difficulty in controlling the other team's running game, the rest of our staff is fairly skilled in this area. We are optimistic that the rest of the staff will be able to "help" him learn the importance of this simple facet of the game. As to the issue of needing a catcher, none of the available players stood out as being a viable long-term solution for this position. Management must address this concern in the draft. One benefit to adding Pierre and Crawford is that our pitching batteries will be able to practice against some of the best. This will either improve their skills to the point that they are serviceable, or it will demoralize them to the point of uselessness. Time will tell.

In season acquisition Russel Martin has added some much needed stability behind the plate. Despite trading much maligned Juan (I'm So Fast) Pierre, our squad led the league in stolen bases and our pitchers did a respectable job at controlling the opposing baserunners.

Q: The Iron Pigs have the #11 pick in the upcoming draft. Can you give us an insight into how you approach rookie drafts? Do you tend to draft the best player available, or will Lehigh Valley be filling a positional need with the pick?

A: This is a difficult question for Iron Pig management to answer without "tipping our hand" and giving out "classified secrets". It has been suggested that we will draft good behavior poster boy Delmon "the bat just slipped out of my hand" Young. We neither confirm, nor deny this allegation. Past experience tells that management drafts good cards sometimes and drafts future talent other times. It all depends on what is available at that point in the draft.

Our selection of Diasuke Matsuzaka appears to have been successful in the short term. He led the league in ERA at 2.60 and finished with 17 wins and 8 losses. We will see how he does moving forward. Delmon finished the season with a batting average of 0.267 and an OPS of 0.684. We were quite pleased with the development of several of our other draft choices. Carlos Quentin and Josh Hamilton have impressed our coaching staff with their improved play this season. Both players will be playing winter ball in Mexico. They are progressing nicely with their development and we expect big things from them next season.

Q: The NASBL relocated into a new market with your franchise. Are the locals excited to be part of the action, how are season ticket sales? A popular promotion at other NASBL parks is “Dunk the Drunk” – this is the one where league Commish Steve Beard sits in a dunk tank, chugs a case of Molson Export and hurls verbal insults at unsuspecting 12-year olds. Is this event “family friendly” enough for the Pig Pen, or will the Iron Pig Press’ editorial board take you to task for having Mr. Beard do his thing?

A: Ticket sales are hot and expectations are high for the new franchise. We plan to run a mostly PG-13 stadium. Since we are located near Philadelphia, we acknowledge that fans can sometimes be somewhat "colorful". Iron Pig management is pleased to announce several "theme promotions" that promise to be popular with the indigenous rowdy population. Examples of themes include: Topless Tuesdays (all topless fans are rewarded with one free beer), fireworks/pig roast night (worst performing Iron Pig player will be "roasted" by Lewis Black), youth beer night (beer is free for all fans under the age of 25), and Wet Tee Shirt Night (self explanatory). We have heard of the legendary drinking ability of Mr. Beard as passed down through the Penn State annals and relish the opportunity to experience his artistry first hand.

We are extremely pleased to report that our ticket sales for the past season exceeded our expectations. Mr Beard certainly lived up to his reputation and Lewis Black was his usual subdued self. The wet tee shirt competition ended in a tie. We were unable to choose between Jonah Hill and Megan Fox. Tough call. Please add your votes to the list of comments.

Q: When looking ahead five years, what player on your team gives you the most cause for optimism?

A: We are very excited about a couple of our homegrown AAA team (Philadelphia Phillies) talent. Howard and Utley promise to be pleasing fans for many years to come. We are considering hiring Ozzie "The Wizzard" Smith to work on defensive skills. If either or both of these players ever develop defensive skills to match their potent offensive skills, they will truly be a joy to watch. You know how the saying goes, "chicks dig the longball".

Unfortunately, Howard had a difficult time adapting to our "defense and small ball" approach to the game. He was traded mid season for catcher Russel Martin. We have changed our motto to "chicks dig slow and steady". It seems to fit our team better.

Q: What attracted you enjoy the most about NASBL as a new member?

A: The Iron Pig Press is excited about the opportunity to publish articles somewhere other than our refrigerator at the office. We are very interested in seeing how the dynamics of this league work (ie, large roster changeover and year to year swings). We are also interested in witnessing Commissioner Beard's legendary management skills. We can only hope to be a better team from the experience.

We have been very impressed with Commissioner Beard's ability to keep this group of teams running smoothly. We turned a profit this season, and expect great things moving ahead.