Thursday, January 31, 2008


(New York Daily Mirror - January 31, 2008)

NEW YORK - There was once a time, not very long ago, when the off-season meant a flurry of activity for the Knights. Seldom would a week pass that did not find Mitch Pak juggling several potential trades with a few different clubs. It seemed that the Knights forever had feelers out, scouring the trade wires, inquiring as to the availability for this player or that, boldly trading early-round draft picks. The Knights had a way of keeping the winter interesting.

But no more. The Mid-Season Massacre of 2004 did more than ship out the Knights then-cornerstone group of players. It signaled a sea change in how the Knights do business. Where Mitch Pak would often openly speak about the direction of the club and what his intentions were for the draft or pre-season trades, now almost no information is forthcoming from the Knights front office. Like the gunslingers of the Old West, Mitch Pak is keeping a poker face and holding his cards close to the vest, while trades and signings occur almost daily around him. The era of trading for the sake of trades appears to be over. A perfect example of the Knights new policy occurred this week, when ex-Knight Mike Cuddyer was drafted #1 in the 2008 Supplemental Draft by division rival Grundy County. When called for comment and to address some fans' complaints that Cuddyer should have been retained, the New York sports media was blandly advised that Mitch Pak would make no personal comment but that "the club" would be making a statement. The Knights thereafter simply faxed a terse statement to New York sports media outlets, wishing Cuddyer well in his new city. Not a word has been heard about the issue since.

Its difficult to predict where Pak is going this winter and spring in terms of addressing the club's needs. While at least one NASBL observer has predicted that the Knights will draft Yovani Gallardo with the #8 pick, this would not seem likely, since the Knights already have six starters on the staff. While the Knights have shopped Dontrelle Willis to the other NASBL clubs, the prevailing rumor is that the Knights have not received what they deem to be fair trade offers for him. Again, there has been no confirmation on this point, and it remains as likely as not that the Knights will draft Gallardo. Its anyone's guess.

In the opinion of this page, it seems most likely that the Knights will be looking for a bat with their first pick, to make up for some of the offense lost by the paring of Mike Cuddyer and Jacque Jones from the roster.

DFW trades for Ian Snell & Milton Bradley

In a move to get some much needed younger pitching help DFW traded Fan Favorite Placido Polanco to HHA for Ian Snell. Polanco who had been a Spur since joining the NASBL said "he has no hard feelings towards DFW and is looking forward to helping HHA reach the World Series again". Polanco's unwillingly ness to play third base was part of the reason for the move and having a log jam with 3 second baseman was another. Freddy Sanchez who traded for on Draft day of 2007 from VFS will spend time between 2B and SS. Alex Gonzalez looks to be the starting SS. With age and hamstring injuries slowing last years starter (and WS hero)Carlos Guillen. Carlos was told by Doctor's that he won't have the range he was accustomed to at short. Dr. Richmond's always right with his prognosis (from a '2' to a '4' duh).

DFW also picked up Milton Bradley (from HHA) for some OF help. Bradley comes to DFW with a lot of baggage. The team hopes they can harness his potential in the right direction. They need to keep umpires and water bottles away from Milton and work on his anger management. It's like in the 3 stooges when Curly saw a rat he would yell, "Moe- Larry cheese, Moe- Larry cheese" The Spurs just need to keep a lot of cheese around. Another big plus is that Dallas has some of the finest Hospitals in the world. One hospital's claim to fame is what they did to the 'Big Indian' in "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest". We would like to apologize for this write-up being late. Apparently the reporter was in Cabo San Luka following another story a few weeks ago.

Springfield Times Predicts the First Round of the NASBL Draft

Springield (AP) - Being that the Topes do not have a selection until the 31st pick in the NASBL draft as a result of a controversial mid-season trade to bring Rich Harden (who the Springfield press has labeled "a less talented version of Mark Prior") to the Topes fold, the Springfield Times has put together a mock first round to determine what the Topes will be missing out on. This year's draft talent may be the best in memory, with more than 30 players on the board having first round talent, making it one of the more difficult drafts to predict.
1. GCG
CF - B.J. Upton
The Grizz need outfielders badly…Upton is surprising #1 over Braun
2. GRK
3B/DH - Ryan Braun
Lefy pitchers will run and hide (or catchers will hold up four fingers)
3. NJT
1B - Carlos Pena
Not every year that production like this is available in the draft, let alone at #3
4. OJW
SS - Troy Tulowitzki
Omar's successor. Outlaw is happy to take him at #4
5. ILL
SP - Tim Lincecum
Young fireballer could be scary paired with Halladay for the Chows
6. PCM
OF - Hunter Pence
Will play LF for the Chin Music with Torii Hunter patrolling center
7. TRY
SP - John Maine
Will be the #2A of the staff behind Fausto and with the addition of Jared Weaver, will give the Haymakers the makings of a really good, really young staff
8. NYK
SP/RP - Yovani Gallardo
This level talent can't be passed up at #8
9. MSU
SP - Daisuke Matsuzaka
Dice-K would have been the #1 pick if the draft was held in April. Gyro-ball comes to Miami
10. LCC
Closer - Joakim Soria
All those bats don’t do you any good without a closer. This guy is one of the best and is only 23
11. LVI
OF - Delmon Young
21 years old. 2 at the cornes with a negative 4 arm. Wow
12. SPL
3B -Alex Gordon
The next George Brett? Allows Troy Glaus to be moved to DH where he belongs
13. ILL (via trade from VFS)
1B - James Loney
Honolulu wanted him, but Chows love the bat and glove
14. HHA
1B - Casey Kotchman
Stan's quest for 1's at every position gets closer to coming true
15. ILL (via Trade from SPR)
2B - Dustin Pedroia
On base machine will lead off for the Chows
16. DFW
CF - Chris Young
Just missed 30-30 in his rookie season. Great defensive Centerfielder

Fighting Sioux - Comparing 2007 and 2008 Teams

The Burlington Free Press

Much has been made (at least in this paper) of the talent drain in Vermont's dugout over the past off season. But in the interest of not being fodder for a future column, we will take an objective look at the issue.

The 2007 version of the Vermont Fighting Sioux set a franchise record for victories with 93 and reached the Less Filling LCS. If VFS fans are to expect the same in '08, Sioux GM/Coach Justin Rabidoux will need to bring the loaded dice to each game.

By using Win Share calculations available at, the cloudy future becomes much clearer for our sabermetric fans.

The 2007 Sioux roster and Win Shares

1b Albert Pujols - 39
2b Robinson Cano - 18
ss Derek Jeter - 33
3b Ryan Zimmerman - 25
LF Emil Brown - 15
CF Mark Kotsay - 12
RF Brian Giles - 23
Ca Jorge Posada - 24
DH Carlos Delgado - 24
SP1 John Lackey - 17
SP2 Brett Myers - 11
SP3 Ervin Santana - 13
SP4 Jeff Suppan - 12
SP5 Aaron Cook - 11
Cl Billy Wagner - 12

Total '07 WS = 289

The 2008 Sioux roster and Win Shares

1b Pujols - 32
2b Cano - 21
ss Jeter - 24
3b Zimmerman - 21
LF Eric Byrnes - 26
CF Coco Crisp - 16
RF Casey Blake - 12
Ca Posada - 26
DH - Frank Thomas - 17
SP1 Lackey - 22
SP2 Suppan - 8
SP3 Cook - 10
SP4 Santana - 3
SP3 Miguel Batista - 12
Cl - Wagner - 11

Total '08 WS = 261

The '07 total was 289 and the '08 total is 261, for a difference of 28 WS. A WS equals 1/3 of a win meaning this year's version of the Sioux should expect a drop of 9 wins. That puts the Sioux win total in the mid-80s, which is familiar territory. Additionally, this analysis does not take into account bench and pitching depth beyond the scheduled starters. Expanding the analysis to look at this results in a dreary outlook in 2008; last year's Vermont team had a deep bullpen, solid bench and the luxury of low-inning starters Josh Johnson and Francisco Liriano who combined for a 17-8 record with a 3.70 ERA.

Vermont's roster stands at 16 players; the rest of the roster will be filled by one supplemental draft pick and 13 rookie/free agent draft selections (and don't forget there is no 1st round pick this year). To expect similar depth for this year's team is unrealistic, unlikely and just not gonna happen.

Bottom line - Vermont lost too much to injury, old age and diminishing skills (no steroids here Sen. Mitchell) to reach the 90 win mark again. 82-80 and no playoff
s is the early preseason prediction which is sure to bring the boo birds out to the park this year.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Outlaw Welcomes Mike Napoli

Outlaw welcomes Mike Napoli as our first player addition in 2008. Mike's got the type of sweet right-handed power stroke, never subpeoned or Mitchell'd, that fits well in Wreckin' So Field. While some Outlaw wags questioned why the second overall Supp pick wasn't used to fill a bigger need or secure a player with better stats or who could contribute more playing time, Wales president Mark Hildebrant replied, "How often do you see a catcher who can hit right-handed pitching and not kill your defense available in the draft? Experience told me, when you see that, grab it! And given that Ramon Hernandez has been having terrible troubles in Winter ball, and that Mike is at that age where catchers often take their game up a notch, we decided to grab him. We'll be able to put his limited AB to good targeted use this year. Mike's power numbers climbed signigicantly throughout the latter part of his minor league career, giving hope to continued improvement as he gains major league experience.

Topes Honor Award Winners Berkman, Sabathia

Springfield (AP) - The Springfield Isotopes held a gala dinner on Monday to honor two home-grown talents. Commissioner Beard announced last month that Lance Berkman was the recipient of the Tastes Great NASBL MVP award and C.C. Sabathia won the Tastes Great Cy Young award. This is the first MVP or Cy Young that an Isotope has received and only the 2nd MVP and 1st Cy Young award given to a player outside of New Jersey or Georgia in the past seven seasons.

Berkman came to the Topes as a first round draft pick in 2001 and has been, along with Eric Chavez, the Topes offensive leader since that time. In his seven years with the Topes, Berkman has hit .306 while averaging 100 runs scored, 31 home runs and 106 runs batted in. However, 2007 was a really special one for Berkman. Berkman hit .351 with 110 runs scored, 53 home runs, and 137 runs batted in. "We're just really happy for Lance. He's done everything that we've asked of him since we drafted him, be it playing centerfield, right field, left field, designated hitter, or first base. We've platooned him in some seasons and I think that may be the only reason this is only his first MVP," said Topes GM Doug Sherlag.

"It's a nice honor and I'm glad that the NASBL media finally realizes that they play baseball outside of New Jersey and Georgia, but I still have a sour taste in my mouth from the World Series. I'd give this award back if the cold October wind wouldn't have blown my shot back in the yard versus K-Rod. We've averaged 95 wins since I've been here, and I still haven't won a title. That hurts," quipped Berkman.

Sabathia was the Topes first round draft pick in the following season. Unlike Berkman, C.C. has struggled to be a consistent all-star caliber player. Going into the 2006 season, Sabathia was 44-37 with a career ERA of 5.08. In 2006, Sabathia won 14 games with an ERA a half a run below leage average and in 2007 he had a season for the ages. C.C. went 19-6 with an other-worldly 2.43 ERA, which over two and a half runs better than league average and was the 2nd lowest ERA of any NASBL starting pitcher on record. "This is the C.C. Sabathia that we always knew would show himself one day. He has really turned the corner and as long as the banquet circuit doesn't hurt his weight too badly, C.C. should be able to mirror this succes going forward," quipped Sherlag. "That being said, C.C. has been beat up a little too much by the national NASBL media, especially in New York. This is a guy who was won 77 games in the NASBL and is still only 27 years old."

C.C. also was still smarting from the Topes 2nd defeat to the Spurs in the World Series during his tenure. "Next year, not only will I be celebrating another Cy Young Award, but I believe my teammates will be here with me, celebrating a World Series victory."

Miami Surf

Miami: The Miami Surf, coming off a disappointing 2007 season, has high expectations heading into the 2008 campaign. The off-season additions of 1B Carlos Delgado and RF Bobby Abreu have the Surf fans excited. Miami’s blend of Youth and Veterans should be able to surpass last seasons win total. When asked what the problem was from last year? GM Bessinger stated, “We have to learn to Win the big games on the Road, for some reason we play well at home, but on the road we play like S#$%.” Here is a look at Miami’s pre-season ( trading not done yet ) Roster: C Pudge, 1B Delgado, 2B Kent, SS Reyes, 3B Wright, LF Lee, CF Cameron, RF Abreu, SP Beckett, SP Hamels, SP Lowe, SP Westbrook, CL Putz, CL Cordero.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Cuddyer 1st

Justin Morneau of the Grundy County Grizzlies welcomes Michael Cuddyer to the Bear's clan. Jack Howard, GCG's GM has decided Cuddyer will be the first choice in the Supplemental Draft. Cuddyer (right) celebrates being a first overall pick - even if it is a Supplemental Draft.
Howard has set Cuddyer's name as the Bears 1st choice in the website's autodraft and when Steve Beard, league commissioner, flips the switch to start the draft - Howard's announcement of the Griz choice will be made.
Originally, Howard cut the Griz roster to the minimum with the intent of trying to help his beleaguered pitching staff. After studying the available free agent pitchers, Howard gleefully planned the staff rebuilding.
Justin Morneau, the Griz slugging 1B, called Howard and suggested Cuddyer would be a good addition to the team. Howard was surprised that Cuddyer was made available by division rival New York Knights. He met with Cuddyer and it wasn't long before Howard signed Cuddyer and declared him as the Griz regular RF.

Howard stated in response to questions from Bob Uecker, Bear radio announcer, regarding why the switch from pitching to Cuddyer - "Pitchers, pitchers, we don't need no stinking pitchers."

Haymakers Trade Announcement

Troy: The Haymakers made a major trade today picking up pheonom pitcher Jered Weaver, slugger Matt Holliday and slick fielder Mark Ellis for Chase Utley, Carl Crawford, and Matt Capps. "We're trying to improve on our successful first season while building a strong foundation for the franchise," GM Ken Anderson said, "We really needed another arm in the rotation and although Weaver still has some growing up to do, he should fill in nicely as our 3rd starter."
Matt Holliday will fill in nicely replacing Utley's bat in the lineup, but there are some questions about his attitude. "I've heard his comments about the Iron Pigs new park, and I'm sure he's going to work hard here," manager Davey Johnson said, "I mean we have a big outfield here too." When Holliday was asked about what he said about the Pig Pen, "I'm sure I won't have anything to worry about. I mean I'll be roaming out there with Andrew Jones and Vernon Wells. I could practically sleep out there, they cover so much ground."
Weaver moves into a rotation already lead by Brad Penny and young Fausto Carmona. "We have a few young arms with good stuff, our plan is to build our rotation around Carmona and Weaver," the GM said, "And if Scott (Olsen) can keep hit attitude in line he should be able to turn it around" That's a lot of pressure for Weaver, who had some shoulder issues and wore down last year after a long season. Plus he is the brother of one of the biggest head cases in the game. "A lot has been said about me and my brother Jeff," Weaver said, "I'm here to work as hard as I can and bring this franchise a championship."
So overall, is the team better? We will have to wait to find out. Bring on the regular season!

Iron Pigs Welcome Three to the Pen

Dateline, Bethlehem PA, 1-29-08: Hot off the trade wire, we have the following breaking story. The Iron Pigs have made their entrance into the NASBL trade frontier with a big splash. The Iron Pigs send disgruntled outfielder Matt Holliday, young pitcher Jered Weaver and slick fielding 2b Mark Ellis to the Troy Haymakers for speedy outfielder Carl Crawford, heavy hitting 2b Chase Utley and relief pitcher Matt Capps. Holliday had been recently heard to grumble about the new ballpark dimensions and we (Iron Pig Management) felt that it was time for a change. We welcome Carl, Chase and Capps to the Iron Pigs and look forward to a long and happy future (unless one of them gets traded prior to the season). Iron Pig 1b Ryan Howard was heard to mumble something about bad fielding and poor throws, but had "no comment" when asked to elaborate. Stay tuned for further developments. When asked about the disinterest in Jered Weaver, Lehigh Valley Management was heard to say something to the effect of "he will be fine, he still has his Subway endorsement money coming in".

Monday, January 28, 2008

Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs Stadium Announcement

Dateline: Bethlehem, PA, 1/28/08: The Iron Pig Press is pleased to announce that construction of the new ballpark for the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs is nearly complete. Amazingly, the project is under budget and ahead of schedule which allows management to focus their efforts on fielding a competitive team for the coming season. The new stadium will be pitcher friendly with outfield dimensions that were commented on by Matt Holliday as "Holy cow skipper, you expect me to run that far? I would rather go back to the minors and play at Coors Field!" The new stadium will be called The Pig Pen. Other names that were considered were "BALCO Field", "Slap Hitting Sissy Stadium" and "The Hog Sty". After polling the fan, The Pig Pen was settled on as being the classiest of the choices. Look for further updates as construction progresses.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

GCG is Peeking Out of the Cellar - Maybe

GCG has had its butt kicked by NASBL managers for years, we pulled out of the NASBL basement once and were rudely pushed back in by your mighty teams. We have been there so long that we redecorated the place. Once known for our pitching - we won't be thought of as a good pitching team for some time to come.

1st round decisions have been are downfall - or more truthfully have kept us down. Oswalt and Rollins have been traded, and picking a SS the last 2 years hasn't paid off - /Drew needs time, Peralta needs a glove and someone who loves him. Before that Prior and Greinke looked to dominate for years. Prior has dominated the DL and Greinke is looking to find his way. Both were kept this year in hopes they may some day fulfill the role of Ace instead of Joker.

Poor management has been my fault. I would have been fired in MLB years ago.

What does 2008 hold in store for the bears of Grundy County? Well things are looking up. We declare we have the best infield in NASBL history. Youkilis anchors 1b 1e0, Phillips 2b-1e8, Martin CA-1(-2)e1, Lowell 3B-1e16, and Betancourt SS-2e25. Several of you have recognized that and made some offers. Miggy and Morneau will play a lot on the road at 3B/1B/DH, and Drew will take a few swings while relieving Yuniesky at SS.

Where do we go from here. The last 2 years we passed on 2 of the most powerful bats because of Morneau/Youkilis/and Nick "The Stick" Johnson all ready were 1B roster invitees. Will we pass this years power bat - not likely? Braun can DH all he wants.

Shall we make it 3 years in a row of drafting a SS 1st. Tool-time is a better hitter and fielder than our returning roster invitees and he is thought of as highly as any young player in baseball.

What about drafting players/pitcher who would fill our needs? Wouldn't that be prudent? Need Pitching/Outfielders. Outfiled names like Young, Pence, Upton come to mind. All sound good to me. Pitching won't be as good this year as last - at least for ACE quality starters. Maybe I should fill my needs there.

We have a pretty nice early group of players to chose from - at least 1 round of really good players so if you own a 1st round draft pick or 3 - you have a good chance of adding a quality player(s). I don't know what I am going to do at his point and would be willing to trade the 1st pick if a offered a nice premium. I think Tulowitzki and Braun are the elite of the group. Tehy would help any and all of us if we had them.

Best wishes to all for the coming season - i hope to start returning the butt-kicking favor to each of you.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Roadkill part ways with two vets

In an obvious
cost-cutting move the Roadkill front office waived long-time fan fav's Ray Durham & Jim Edmonds. Durham has spent all but 1/2 season with GRK while Edmonds his entire career.

Durham leaves the Roadkill with a career .272 BA and just finished the 2007 season with a personal record of 28 HR's. Ray was never known as a slick fielder but was a clubhouse leader and a dual threat on the bases with J-Roll the last couple of seasons.

Edmonds was the human highlight film patrolling CF and winning numerous GG awards. His glovework was outstanding and the pinnacle was during the 2006 post-season leading the Roadkill to their first NASBL title. He leaves GRK matching Durham's .272 career BA, 298 HR's & 837 RBI's.

With the acquistion of Alex Rios via trade and Nick Markakis the draft the Roadkill are obviously trying to rebuild the organization after the disastrous 2007 season. Aaron Hill has solidified his position at 2B allowing Durham to pursue free agency.

Veterans say Aloha

Aloha means goodbye, or in NASBL speak, you've been released or traded. Trader Stan was at it again this offseason as he shipped Kenny Lofton to LCC, Milton Bradley and Ian Snell to DFW and Bobby Abreu to Miami. Not content with that bit of bloodletting, heads rooled at cutdown time. Among the cuts were former 1st round pick Anibal Sanchez as well as veteran Hawaiians Danny Cabrera (also a former #1), Lyle Overbay, Jose Castillo and others. GM Pietruska has pointed the ship in a new direction as defense seems to be the order of the day. Among the new Hawaiians will be RF-1 Shane Victorino and 2B-2 Placido Polanco. The team expects to rebuild through the draft and may move star slugger Pat Burrell. There were several rumors which had Burrell going to another team and the on again/off again trade rumors seem to be back.

As always it should be another interesting spring for the Island Boys.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Chows Release 1st Pick in Franchise History


That's the lifetime record of Chris Capuano, the young southpaw the Chows brass saw fit to make the first selection in franchise history. Flashback to the 2006 draft -- the Chows were selecting 13th overall and did not have a second round pick. Their next selection wasn't until #48 in the draft.

New GM/Owner Brad Sherlag needed innings and he needed them badly. "We had a staff that was overworked the previous season to try to win it all. We were also left without a 2nd a 5th or a 6th as Yorktown had mortgaged this draft to win in '05. Going into the season we had Shilling, Gagne, Halladay and Harden all hurting. We only protected 14 players -- four of which had limited use. That first draft was a draft of necessity -- we had to carefully make our picks to ensure that we could play 162 games with our 30 players."

Capuano did provide innings for the Chows -- perhaps too many for a young arm. That first season Capuano logged 246 innings and posted a respectable 4.57 ERA. Perhaps already hurting last season Chris manged only 203 innings and the ERA was slightly over 5 runs a game. The 19-31 record was more a function of the Chow's inept offense than it was of Capuano's pitching. He took the ball every fifth day (and occasionally every fourth) racking an impressive 69 starts in his two seasons - leading the Chows both seasons in that category.

Now Capuano is going under the knife. Although expected to recover, the Chows are not willing to hold a spot. "We thanked Chris for his hard work and really still like the kid. It is possible he returns as a late round flier." Unfortunately for both the Chows and Capuano, he was drafted to eat innings - he did what he was asked and now the high dollar life of a first round draft pick is a distant memory.

Keepers and Cuts

Illinois will not be participating in the Supplemental Draft for the first time keeping 17 players this season. Illinois considered going with 15 players, but then decided to keep Vidro and Teahen. Vidro was kept as a pinch hitter and emergency 2B or 1B. Teahen was kept as a potential bounceback guy. The other questionable keepers included Olivo (who was kept for his arm and at bats) and Kearns (who will play RF vs. lefties and serve as a defensive replacement in RF).

The Chows have said goodbye to Tadahito Iguchi -- drafted with the last pick in the 3rd round of that same 2006 draft "The Gooch" posted a .262 batting average while manning second base for the Chows. He was a fan favorite among the Illinois Japanese community.

Eric Gagne never really found it as a Chow. After years of dominance in Yorktown, Gagne manged only 10 IP over two seasons. He spent all last season on IR and was ineffective (8.10 ERA) before being shut down in 2006. The writing was on the wall for Gagne when Illinois went out and got Nathan.

Michael Barrett is best known for causing Morandini to platoon catchers based on how well his pitchers held baserunners (instead of what side the opposing pitcher threw from). In two seasons catching primarily Capuano and Glavine, Barrett batted .276 hitting 22 Home Runs and driving in 86.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


(New York Daily Mirror – January 22, 2008)

NEW YORK – Knights officials have submitted their list of league-mandated roster cuts in preparation for the 2008 draft. Some of the cuts were obvious and expected, but others raised eyebrows and still others were downright surprising.

The most prominent Knight to be cut was 2B Mark Loretta. Loretta came to the Knights via a low-key trade with Grundy County in mid-2004. He paid immediate dividends to the Knights during the second half of that season, batting a robust .351 and posting an .851 OPS in 46 games. Loretta became a fixture at second for the next three seasons and was known for his consistency at the plate, batting .300 with 15 homers in 2005 and .319 in 2006, while playing excellent defense. With age perhaps starting to catch up to him, Loretta slumped to .265 and a .641 OPS in 2007 with just 2 home runs, although he did have 150 hits and 55 RBI. The Knights always liked Loretta for his glove and were expected to retain him in 2008. Unless Mitch Pak can draft a big-time second baseman, look for Ty Wigginton to be positioned there in 2008.

Another Knight whose departure is surprising is outfielder Mike Cuddyer. Cuddyer came to the Knights via a six-player trade in mid-2006. After struggling in New York for the remainder of that season (.197, .610 OPS in 39 games), Cuddyer won a starting outfielder’s spot during spring training of 2007 and went on to have a productive season for New York, hitting 20 homers and posting an .810 OPS. While Cuddyer most likely became expendable with the full-time return of Hideki Matsui to the Knights lineup, Knights observers believe that GM Mitch Pak liked Cuddyer and thought he had a future in New York.

Another player who came over in that 2006 trade was Jacque Jones, who also was let go. Jones (.253 with 12 homers in 65 games) had a better ’06 for the Knights than Cuddyer but he turned it up a notch in 2007, batting .292 with 24 homers, 73 RBI and an .832 OPS. Rumors are that Jones was one of the last players to be cut, as he was instrumental in the team’s playoff run in 2007.

The Knights also apparently have decided to cut their losses and released catcher Jason Kendall. Kendall’s .311 average in 105 games in 2007 was a pleasant surprise but Knights brass, not believing that he had another season like that left in his bat, decided to let him go. Kendall’s light-hitting backup, Gerry Laird (.241, 7 homers) was also let go. The club apparently never forgave Kendall for not being Bengie Molina.

Other Knights to be released included journeyman infielder (and 2007 superstar) Olmedo Saenz, outfielder Kevin Mench, an aging Bernie Williams, and seldom-used but talented first baseman Mike Jacobs. With the LaRoche-Saenz tandem providing the Knights with 37 homers and a .338 batting average in 2007, Jacobs was reduced to third on the 1B depth chart and had just 8 at bats all season. Upon learning that he was released, Jacobs quipped “I’m surprised they even knew I was on the club in the first place."

On the pitching side, the most surprising cut was Chad Qualls. Qualls, a 2006 draft pick, struggled through a dreadful 2006 but rebounded to have a solid 2007, posting a 2.55 ERA and 5 wins out of the bullpen. Brian Tallet, a forced 2007 pick, was also let go, after posting a 3-0 record and a 4.37 ERA in middle relief.

To no one’s surprise, malcontent Kyle Farnsworth was given his walking papers. Originally seen as a set-up man for Takashi Saito, Farnsworth was a brutal flop, posting an 8.59 ERA and complained all season that his poor showing was due to a lack of use (just 10 appearances).

Remaining with the team for 2008 are all five starting pitchers, closer and LF Rookie of the Year Takashi Saito and middle relievers Kevin Gregg and Scott Linebrink. On the hitting side, the Knights obviously retained their keystone trio of Michael Young, Garret Atkins and Grady Sizemore, as well as 1B Adam LaRoche and infielder Ty Wigginton. Also returning for the Knights is 1B Scott Hatteberg, who also played for the club in 2003, when he batted .308 in 75 games while backing up Jim Thome.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

DFW Magic Carpet Ride

2007 was a magical year for DFW. They were lead by the 2-headed platoon at catcher of V. Martinez and J. Bard. V-Mart hit .361, 312b,10hr, 62rbi, while Bard .302, 232b, 7hr, 41rbi. Freddy Sanchez came over in a trade with VFS during the 2007 Draft, lead the team with a .333ba, and was outstanding at 3B. It was also no coincidence that the return of Barry Bonds didn't hurt one bit either. Bonds who missed just about all of 2006 season returned to hit .276ba, 28hr, 81rbi, 90bb with a .419obp in 366ab. It wasn't the Bonds of yesterday but hey he's 40 something too!! Dave Bush lead the starting pitching with a record of 18-8, and a 4.04era. Closer K-Rod had another great year going 6-2, with 39 saves and a 2.69era.

The ability to win on the road was the biggest factor for DFW success. At home their record was 47-34. On the road they were 51-30. This also showed up in the Play-offs winning both games vs VFS, and winning 2 out of 3 in the WS. vs SPR. Well it's time to put the 2007 season behind us, it was great Winning the World Series, however I realize 15 other managers have the Rhet Butler approach towards it, "Frankly my dear they don't give a d#$m"!!

In the wonderful write-up our leader did on Game 4 between DFW at VFS in LF Championship Series, F-Rod did not enter the game in the 9th, Dave Bush stayed in and and got the Complete game victory.

The winner pitcher of this year All-Star Game was Dave Bush instead of Rick Lackey as reported eariler.

Barry Bonds All-Star selection wasn't due to Ballot stuffing, that event doesn't happened till next year! On a scale of importance 1-10, these 3 corections are a (-5)! lol :)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Pedro Sits Chin Music Await Draft

After failing to make the playoffs in 2007, most team members pointed a finger at an ownership in turmoil. Bill Anderson admitted to duel moves in 2006 and 2007. 2008 marks a return to stability. PCM enters the supplemental draft for the first time in years, looking for a body to occupy the hot corner. Strong up the middle as always, PCM retains their flame throwing starters and a lethal bullpen poised for a return to the post season. Pedro hopes to test his arm late in the season after undergoing rotater cuff surgery. Prince Fielder looks to become a team leader on offense with the cut of long time musician Cliff Floyd. Juan Rivera after losing a leg in a tragic mishap while engaging in off season chain saw olympics was likewise cut. A red faced Rivera, standing on a prosthetic limb was sorry he'd be missing more than his leg.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Chows add Another Pick

Illinois Times -- 01/17/08

Illinois Adds Pick Subtracts Thomas

Illinois was able to add another draft pick to their Inventory today by dealing DH Frank Thomas. For Thomas, Illinois aquired the VFS 4th round pick. Illinois now has 7 picks in the first four rounds including 3 in the 1st.

GM Brad Sherlag explained the move as follows, "We really had too many guys that don't play defense well on our team. Using a roster spot for someone without a position really limits Morandini's ability to sub in defensive replacements late in the game. We appreciate the season Frank had for us last year and know he will do well in Vermont. I am confident that whoever we choose with the 4th will get more playing time than Frank would have." As you probably already know, the Chows intentions are to DH Ramirez this year and obtain a better fielding everyday shortstop.

17-Man Roster Date Approaches Quickly

With today's Thomas trade, the Chows will be able to keep one more player who is on the bubble or enter the Supplemental Draft. There are 14 players solidly on the roster leaving 3 spots for Vidro, Iguchi, Kearns, Gagne and Teahen to fight for. Assuming Sherlag makes no more deals, he will have some tough decisions over the next couple of days. The smart money is on Teahen and Kearns to make it and Iguchi to be cut. Apparently the font office is split on Gagne and Vidro.

No Update on Draft Location

The Chows are still waiting to hear back from the NASBL offices to see if Seventies Stadium will host the upcoming draft. The Times will announce ticket information if the Chows win their bid. The lack of amenties (think folding tables and plastic lawn furniture chairs) is making their bid difficult. The Chows maintain that ratings will increase on ESPN 2 if the hometown team goes to the podium three times in the first round. "Chow fans have not ahd a lot to get excited about -- this draft is likely to be the highlight of the franchises existence so far. We plan on distirbuting free tickets to our season ticket holders if we win the bid." After two dismal seasons, the Chows have less than 2,000 season tickets sold for next season.

Of course if the first two drafts are any indication -- it could be a lowlight. From the draft two years ago, Illinois will only still have Glavine (a supplemental pick) and possibly Teahen or Iguchi. First pick Capuano is almost sure to be cut. Not a lot to show for their first effort.

Big Hurt packs bags for Vermont

Burlington, VT -

In an effort to improve their production from the DH spot the Vermont Fighting Sioux have acquired Frank Thomas from the Illinois Chow Chows in exchange for a 4th round pick. Last year in Illinois Thomas had 28 HRs and 86 RBIs.

Vermont GM Justin Rabidoux would gladly take that production in 2008. The DH spot was vacant after Vermont sent longtime Sioux hero Carlos Delgado to Miami for a 3rd round pick. "All in all, it was a great swap for us", said Rabidoux, "By every measure Frank was more productive than Carlos in 2007 and we improved our overall draft picks in the process", referring to the fact that in addition to the personnel swapped Vermont added a #3 pick in the Delgado trade and gave up a #4 pick for Thomas.

For Thomas, who will be joining his 6th NASBL team in 10 years, joining Vermont has always been a dream, "I've hopped all around the league, but my real goal has been to enjoy my IHOP triple stack with real maple syrup, yum"! The Big Hurt is projected to bat cleanup in Delgado's old place behind Albert Pujols.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Tribute To Albert Pujols

Sioux fans share their Pujols man love

Sioux Bid Adieu to Slugger Carlos Delgado

Burlington, VT -

The Vermont Fighting Sioux have reached a deal with the Miami Surf to send Carlos Delgado south in exchange for a 3rd round draft pick. Carlos, who had a no trade clause in his contract, had this to say "While I am sad to leave, will be refreshing for have not that to move with spade the snow already. I expect to see all those fine southern women of Beach (sic)".

Local blogs are already hammering home the "there is no royalty in big time sports" angle. They point to Carlos' 5 great seasons as Vermont's cleanup hitter (and King Albert's protection) when he averaged 33 HRs and 93 RBIs. His greatest individual moment came amidst a tough time for his team, the 2007 NASBL playoffs. Delgado was a beast during the Sioux's run to the Less Filling LCS hammering 8 HRs and driving in 19 in Vermont's 11 playoff games.

Throughout his tenure in Vermont he made pitchers pay for pitching around Pujols, including a game winning grand slam in the playoffs this past season. Carlos came to Vermont in an early season trade in 2003 with the Georgia Roadkill. In what eventually became on of the better trades in Vermont's history, Carlos was acquired (along with a 1st and 3rd round draft pick) for the aging needle addict Sammy Sosa. GM Justin Rabidoux used that first round pick to acquire Rocco Baldelli. While Baldelli didn't accomplish much in a Sioux uniform, he was packaged in a trade that netted Vermont's all time saves leader, Billy Wagner., the most fanatical off the Sioux fan blogs (which originates from Sherbrooke, Quebec, about 45 minutes north of Vermont's home offices) posted this comment today, "First we divided our well-loved Expos with the Puerto Rico, only finally to lose them. This most of recent disgrace is an insult to the basis of fan of northern Vermont. Carlos was a local hero in top here, and we powerful torqued off by his departure. GM Rabidoux has a lot to do to win return our support. Indeed, we can begin just to pull for the Cannibals, that have a file of good proved track border relations as testified by their matter of love of all things Larry the Walker".

The team wished Carlos well and he is sure to be enshrined in the Ring of Honor where all Vermont's baseball heroes of yesterday reside.

Good bye Carlos, we will miss you for moments like these:

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Diamond Notes - Vermont Fighting Sioux

Burlington, VT -

2007 was a season of great expectations for the Sioux. However, this writer can attest that not all dreams come true. Vermont ran into the Red Robbins buzz saw in the form of the Dallas Fort Worth Spurs. No hard feelings though, DFW was the better team and we congratulate them on their 2007 NASBL World Series Championship.

Now, the Sioux must look forward - and the future ain't pretty. Vermont returns only 4 starting pitchers - and calling anyone after John Lackey a "starter" is a stretch. Not available to toe the rubber this year in the 1st inning for the Sioux are converted boxer reliever Bret Myers and injury casualties Francisco Liriano and Josh Johnson.

Things didn't get better for most of the everyday players. Other than Jorge "Ponce de Leon" Posada, the rest of the regulars experienced a decrease in production. Gone are the range "1s" for Derek Jeter and Ryan Zimmerman, gone from the roster is long time Sioux CF Mark Kotsay and gone is Albert Pujols' stash of "Vitamin B".

In pursuit of their 1st NASBL title, the Sioux traded their 1st round draft choice to acquire the aforementioned injured Josh Johnson (8-3, 3.72 in reg. season, but disappointing in playoffs) and Brian Giles, who produced a respectable .360 OBP while patrolling RF but whose age may find him on the unemployment line come NASBL cut down day.

The result is an aging team with diminishing skills and no 1st round pick. Carlos Delgado is likely to join the ranks of "former Sioux players" as the team will try to get younger. Don't get us wrong, Carlos still has some pop, but he may be of more use to a team in the position to make some noise in the playoffs.

Achieving 93 wins again seems all but impossible. 85 seems like a more appropriate target. Hopefully that's enough to contend for a playoff spot, but it probably ain't.

Friday, January 4, 2008


(New York Daily Mirror – December 28, 2007)

NEW YORK – One year ago, Knights GM Mitch Pak stood at a press conference before a gaggle of hard-boiled, skeptical New York sportswriters and media talking heads and proclaimed that the Knights were heading in the right direction. He pointed to the team’s 15-game improvement from 2005 to 2006 and predicted that, if everything went according to plan and the players performed to their potentials, the Knights would not only surpass their franchise-record win total of 71 (set in 2003) and not only finish over .500, but would actually contend for a division title in 2007. Much derisive literary snorting and over the air skepticism followed.

However, after the Knights’ 87 win season in 2007, their contention for the division title and their chase of a wild-card berth that lasted into the last week of the season, Pak has gained substantial credibility in the tough New York sports media, which is famous (or rather infamous) for its reluctance in recognizing and appreciating success.

But with the Knights entering their eighth season in the NASBL, and with their fans finally tasting contending baseball and naturally wanting more, Pak faces the daunting challenge of taking his team to the next level – the NASBL playoffs. Knights fans feel they deserve to experience the heady feel of October baseball, after so many years of disappointment and frustration. Its hard to argue with them.

And there lies the problem for Pak. Its one thing to transform an awful 55-win team into a merely lousy 70 win team, as Pak did from 2005 to 2006. Its quite another to make a good team, which the Knights were in 2007, into a playoff team. The team must not only improve, it must avoid backsliding, which is no easy task in this highly competitive league.
A critical look at the Knights 2007 season reveals some troubling issues that may transform into substantial challenges for Pak and the Knights in 2008.

1. Run Production

You wouldn’t think that run production would be a problem in 2008, since the ’07 team was a terrific offensive group. The team’s 390 doubles led the entire NASBL, they were second in hits with 1,674 and were third in team batting with a franchise-history mark of .288. Yet, a dispassionate observer could look at the Knights roster and raise some valid issues with the team’s ability to score runs next year, absent a terrific draft or a high impact trade.

Clearly, some of the Knights hitters had career seasons, never to be approached again. Bill Hall, a utility player who is regarded as having some pop in his bat at best, smashed 49 homers and knocked in 134 runs, putting him into Manny Ramirez-Alex Rodriguez-David Ortiz territory. Hall’s 2006 numbers, while good (17 HR, 54 RBI, .307 BA), did not portend the kind of performance Hall provided in 2007. The Knights should be a little concerned about getting a phone call from George Mitchell should he ever continue his probe into the use of steroids in baseball.

Hall aside, the Knights also shouldn’t expect a repeat of the run production provided by the team’s first base platoon of Olmedo Saenz and Adam LaRoche, who combined for 37 homers and 114 RBI, as well as a .338 batting average. Saenz, a career utility player, is another hitter who would have fallen under Mitchell’s radar, as his startling numbers in a part-time role (15 HR’s, 45 RBI, .359 BA in 167 AB’s) certainly raised eyebrows.

The Knights also cannot count on Jason Kendall batting .311 ever again in his career, although his home run total of zero is more typical of Kendall’s M.O. The Knights are still ruing the decision to trade Bengie Molina in favor of keeping Kendall. Rumors inside Knights camp are that the team will be releasing both Kendall and his lighter-hitting backup, Gerald Laird, if neither of them can be traded before cut down day in January.

The Knights also have to be concerned about team captain Michael Young, who flew under the radar in 2007 because the Knights were in contention until the end of September. A year after leading the club with 29 homers, 121 runs batted in and a .349 batting average, Young, who was rumored to be hurt all season, hit a paltry 4 homers, knocked in just 60 runs and hit a light .276. The Knights will need Young to rebound in a BIG way in 2008 if they are going to contend.

Still, there are some bright signs offensively for the Knights in 2008. Hideki Matsui (47 homers in 2005) will be back for a full season, and if he can approach the .370 average he posted in 154 at bats in ’07, the Knights will be that much more dangerous. The team also appears to be set for years to come at both third and in center field, with Garrett Atkins (.292, 21 homers and 104 RBI) and Grady Sizemore (20 homers, 58 RBI, .303) turning in All-Star turns. However, other productive players like Jacque Jones cannot be expected to repeat their ’07 performances.

It will be nearly impossible for the Knights to approach their 2007 offensive numbers, to say nothing about equaling them, without a major infusion of new blood. With the Knights not having a top 5 pick in the ’08 rookie draft and their trading stock somewhat thin, this will be a daunting task.

2. Pitching

2007 saw the Knights set a number of new franchise pitching records. It was the first season that all five starters recorded at least 10 wins (rookie Matt Cain led with 15) and also the first season that each starter recorded 150 strikeouts or more. The starters’ total of 59 wins also set a franchise record. The bullpen recorded a team record 44 saves, with the majority of them (37) tallied by rookie Takashi Saito. The club finally, for the first time in its history, allowed fewer runs (858) than it scored (897). Three of the starters hurled over 200 innings for the first time since 2001.

However, and as is the norm with the Knights, the stats are misleading. Three of the team’s starters, including Cain, issued over 100 walks; every starter except Cain allowed more hits than innings pitched; and none of the starters recorded an ERA under 5.00, joining the putrid 2005 staff in that regard.

It’s no secret that the Knights are actively shopping Dontrelle Willis, who was 12-13, 5.28 in 2007 after posting a 14-win season in 2006. However, Willis has drawn little interest from other GM’s to date, raising the possibility that the Knights will start the 2008 campaign with six starters on the roster, since Adam Wainwright (5-5, 4.30 as a middle reliever in 2007) will most likely move into the rotation from the bullpen next year.

While GM Mitch Pak has declined to comment on the topic, Knights insiders speculate that Orlando Hernandez (10-8, 5.57 in 2007) and Willis would split a starting spot, with Hernandez getting the majority of the starts, if a starter cannot be moved by the roster cut-down day. Willis may also be moved into the bullpen as a lefty specialist. Despite having struggled in New York, there are no plans to shop Barry Zito, who notched 11 wins in 2007, although sources close to Mitch Pak’s thinking believe that he would be moved in a package.

The Knights would appear to be set in the bullpen, as at least two of the Knights’ three set-up men - Chad Qualls (5-6, 2.55 ERA, two saves), Scott Linebrink (3-2, 4.11) and Kevin Gregg (2-1, 4.62) – will probably be back in 2008 to set up for Saito.

The most nagging question facing Mitch Pak is whether the pitching next year can be good enough to support an offense than almost certainly will not be as productive in 2008 as it was in 2007. While there’s no doubt that Pak will be looking to upgrade his offensive production next season, real issues exist as to whether next year’s staff, even if composed of the same pitchers next year, can be as effective. Time will tell.