Friday, May 30, 2008

Outlaw Career Leaders

Here's the Outlaw Josey Wales career leaders through Block I. These stats go back to 1991 in the old NASBL era. Block I milestones are:
  • Manny Ramirez's 2000th hit
  • Omar Vizquel moving into 3rd place for career RBIs (proving the value of longevity)
  • Tim Hudson moving into 1st place for strikeouts
At Bats
  1. Manny Ramirez 6823
  2. Omar Vizquel 6349
  3. Albert Belle 5505
  1. Manny Ramirez 2043
  2. Omar Vizquel 1689
  3. Albert Belle 1631
Batting Average (3000 AB)
  1. Tony Gwynn .360
  2. Kenny Lofton .301
  3. Manny Ramirez .299
  1. Manny Ramirez 1229
  2. Kenny Lofton 1005
  3. Albert Belle 983
Home Runs
  1. Manny Ramirez 491
  2. Albert Belle 380
  3. Mark McGwire 157
  1. Manny Ramirez 1360
  2. Albert Belle 1156
  3. Omar Vizquel 562
Stolen Bases
  1. Kenny Lofton 613
  2. Omar Vizquel 365
  3. Alex Cole 110
  1. Andy Ashby 113
  2. Tim Hudson 103
  3. Charles Nagy 87
  1. Tim Hudson 1179
  2. Andy Ashby 1153
  3. Mark Langston 1056
  1. Keith Foulke 128
  2. Trevor Hoffman 117
  3. Armando Benitez 74
Winning Pct (100 decisions)
  1. Andy Ashby .592
  2. Mark Clark .580
  3. Mark Langston .572
ERA (1000 IP)
  1. Mark Langston 3.99
  2. Charles Nagy 4.28
  3. Tim Hudson 4.43
Innings Pitched
  1. Tim Hudson 1748
  2. Andy Ashby 1684
  3. Mark Langston 1303

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Roadkill mortgage future as they make a run at TGS division

With the 2009 season looking bleak due the starting staff resembling a M*A*S*H* unit the Roadkill front office once again mortgages the future unloading draft picks to upgrade the current roster. GRK trades #1,3, 4 & 5 draft picks to obtain future staff ace John Lackey & relievers Brandon Lyon & Peter Moylan. Kelvim Escobar will be moved to the #2 spot in the rotation behind Lackey. Moylan replaces Aaron Hielman as RH setup while Lyon will provide help vs LH. Lyon is also projected to challenge Brad Lidge for Closer in '09 if he's not moved in the off-season. Manager Bobby Cox is excited about the additons to the staff. "These guys will battle or do whatever it takes to take the "Kill to another title".

Current NASBL ERA leader Yovani Gallardo will most likely miss the '09 season along with staff mates Escobar & Noah Lowry but if the Roadkill make the playoffs he could be a force.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Surf make some "Waves" in Block 1 Deals

Miami FL,

The Miami Surf’s Management made a big push for the club’s chances of not only making the NASBL Playoffs, but bringing Miami a World Series Trophy. The Surf acquired two of the games best closers in Billy Wagner and Jason Isringhausen. Surf Management felt they had the Starting Pitchers but were a little short on the relievers. Manager Jim Bessinger was quoted as saying, “These moves should shore up any holes we might have had in our bullpen.” JJ Putz was also excited about the moves saying, “ it takes a lot of pressure off of me.”
When asked if the Surf were giving up too many draft choices too early and giving away the future, Bessinger stated "Our future is Now, we have enough young talented guys already. We feel like our time is now and we will do whatever it takes to make that a reality."
"I mean when you can go Izzy in the 7th, Wagner in the 8th and Putz in the 9th your gonna Win alot of games."


NEW YORK – As Lawrence Peter Berra famously stated in 1957:

"It gets late early out there"

Yogi may have been talking about the early approach of shadows in left field at old Yankee Stadium during day games, but he may as well have been talking about the 2008 Knights.

It sure has gotten late early for Knights fans. In fact, it’s no stretch to believe that the season is already over. Yes, Virginia, it’s that bad.

The numbers, as they say, don’t lie. The Knights blundered and bumbled their way to a 13-33 Block 1 record, the worst start in franchise history. They have already allowed 95 more runs than they’ve scored. Their .242 team batting average is dead last in the NASBL. And incredible as it may seem, the team didn’t even play as well as even these numbers would suggest. One Knights beat reporter described the job of covering the Knights as “excruciating.” Fortunately for the Knights, the LF Central appears to be a .500 division again, thus putting the team only 10 ½ games out at this point. But no one should be fooled – this is a really bad team with no shot at contention in 2008.

This page predicted following the 2008 draft that the Knights would have a difficult time repeating the success of the 2007 season because the loss of offensive firepower either through roster cutdowns or key players not being able to repeat what probably were career seasons. And since the club did not make any adjustments to the leaky starting rotation for 2008, it was a virtual guarantee that the Knights would not win 87 games again. But even we could not predict that some of the Knights players would perform so dismally in Block 1.

Some samples of the level of putridity the Knights displayed in Block 1? Hide the women and children, folks, it ain’t pretty.

CF Grady Sizemore, a former #1 pick, is batting .167 with a nearly-unfathomable .480 OPS. .480! Oh, yes, and only two stolen basis in five tries.

LF Hideki Matsui, a .370 hitter in 2007 and .311 hitter in 2005 with 47 homers, produced a .221 average and .679 OPS in Block 1.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the club’s prized catching pick in the draft, hit a robust .193 with 39 strikeouts and just two walks. His OPS? .496. Time to reach for the backups, right? Well, not much help there; Aging veteran Mike Piazza is hitting .139 with one home run and Johnny Estrada is at .182 with one RBI.

And lest we forget – Barry Zito, whose career has taken a bigger nosedive than New York’s ex-Governor Elliot Spitzer, produced one of the worst Block 1 performances in the history of the league: an 0-8 record, a 9.96 ERA, a 2.21 WHP and an average against of – drum roll please! - .351! (At least Spitzer got some high-end nookie before imploding.)

In fairness, however, it should be noted that Zito’s average against is not even the worst on the team – that honor belongs to reliever Eric Gagne, who coughed up a .363 average against. Pitching machines have better stuff than that.

So what happened? How did this club go from promising to vomit-inducing in a matter of months?

Start with the club’s offseason plan. Knights GM Mitch Pak, in keeping with his master plan of building through the draft and staying away from the trade market for the most part, announced after last season that the club would be looking to address its most glaring needs in the draft – right field, catcher and the bullpen. That meant the team would not upgrade its starting rotation in any meaningful way and also would continue its “station to station baseball” strategy that de-emphasized the “big bat” in favor of high on-base percentages and speed. This was a defensible strategy, since the team had improved markedly since embracing this strategy for the 2006 season. However, it relied heavily on the team’s younger players approximating the seasons they had in 2007 and the veteran add-ons to supply punch as well. It was a high-risk gamble, and one that Pak seems to have lost big-time.

As a result of this plan, Pak bypassed high-powered, high-profile (and high-strikeout-prone) Ryan Braun in favor of Matt Kemp in the first round of the draft. In truth, Braun would have been a sexy choice, but it would have represented a philosophical step backwards for the Knights, since Braun would have been compared with Jim Thome, who was the team's big bat before 2006.

Ultimately even Braun's bat would not have made that much of a difference. Simply put, it would have been impossible for the Knights to approach their 2007 run production even with Braun on the team. As we noted in February, too many other players had fluky, career years in 2007 that will never be repeated. Indeed, Billy Hall will be fortunate to hit another 49 homers in his entire NASBL career, to say nothing about hitting 49 in a season ever again (the same goes for his 134 RBI); Jacque Jones, who hit 24 homers last year and hit .292, doesn’t even have a job this season. Neither does super-sub Olmedo Saenz (.359 in 143 AB's in '07).

Except for Saltalamacchia, who is just 22 and still a good prospect, the areas that Pak concentrated on have improved. Other than Chad Qualls and Gagne, who is little more than a reclamation project anyway, the bullpen has been very effective. 2007 LF ROY Takashi Saito is second in the LF in saves with 9 and has a 1.72 ERA; new comers Manny Delcarmen (3.10 ERA, 19 K’s) and Justin Miller (3.12 ERA) have turned in satisfying performances; and Knights vets Kevin Gregg (2.25 ERA) and Scott Linebrink (3.57 ERA) have held up their ends well. Matt Kemp, in limited play, has impressed and is on target to become the Knights everyday RF in 2009.

As for the rest of the lineup, the Knights have to believe that Grady Sizemore will not hit .167 for the season. If he does, the Knights will be lucky to win 50 games. Mitch Pak is hoping for Sizemore to undergo the same transformation that Garrett Atkins (no bargain himself this year at .243) underwent in 2007, when he had a brutal Block 1 but recovered to make the All-Star team and finish the year with over 100 RBIs. The same could be said about Matsui, who swung a lethal bat in 2007 and is only a couple of years removed from a 47 homer season.

But last year's starting pitching, which reminded exactly nobody of the 1971 Baltimore Orioles, became markedly worse in Block 1, contributing mightily to the Knights woes. Start with the poster child for futility, Mr. Zito. To say that New York has not been kind to Zito is a gross understatement. He came to New York in a surprise deal that was widely praised by GMs throughout the league – a young lefty with a sparkling 59-24, 4.71 ERA career record and two 20-win seasons under his belt. Since donning the Knights uniform, though, Zito has plunged to 26-47 with a 6.19 ERA. His winless Block 1 is especially galling to Knights fans and brass as well, who surrendered a #1 pick and promsing closer Joe Nathan to get him. Nathan has been an All-Star every year since that trade, while Zito has been brutal. His trade value, even if he was on the block, is a fraction of what it once was. Knights insiders believe that Zito is so radioactive on the trade market, the club would be better off holding on to him to see if he ever recovers a semblance of his pre-New York form.

Last year’s staff ace, 15-game winner Matt Cain, was almost as bad in Block 1, posting a 2-5 record and a 5.52 ERA, although he did have 47 strikeouts in 45.2 innings. Cain, also very young at 24, is in no danger of being traded. Not so secure is Doug Davis (2-6, 6.20), whose 238-strikeout season seems decades ago and whose welcome is starting to grow very thin in Gotham.

Oh, and lest we forget, Dontrelle Willis has not even thrown an inning yet. Does anyone reasonably expect him to improve this team?

Only the ageless Orlando Hernandez turned in an excellent Block 1, posting a 3-4 record and a 4.24 ERA. But as usual, there’s a catch – Hernandez faces overusage issues and will probably be supplanted in the rotation by Willis. Ugliness may ensue.

We wager that the rotation will be Pak’s next project in the 2009 draft.

So why were the Knights so bad in Block 1? Call it a perfect storm of underachievement, lack of foresight and plain old bad luck. While playoff contention is very unlikely, the Knights have enough talent to play better and perhaps avoid 100 losses. That’s probably the best Knights fans can hope for now.

Putting Together the Wales

Here's how the Outlaw Josey Wales were put together over the years. These are my players ordered by seniority along with their years of service and how they were acquired.

  • Manny Ramirez, 13, 1995 Old NASBL rookie protection
  • Omar Vizquel, 12, 1996 trade for Mark Langston
  • Aramis Ramirez, 9, 1999 2nd round
  • Tim Hudson, 8, 2000 1st round
  • Ramon Hernandez, 7, 2001 2nd round
  • Alfonso Soriano, 4, 2004 trade, Pettitte & Soriano for Bartolo Colon and 1st round pick
  • Andy Pettitte, 4, 2004 trade, Soriano & Pettitte for Bartolo Colon and 1st round pick
  • Jake Peavy, 4, 2004 2nd round
  • Garret Anderson, 3, 2008 7th round (also 2003-2005)
  • Jason Bay, 3, 2005 1st round
  • Scott Kazmir, 2, 2006 1st round
  • Willy Taveras, 2, 2006 3rd round
  • Tim Wakefield, 1, 2007 supp 1st round
  • Adrian Gonzalez, 1, 2007 1st round
  • Jonathon Broxton, 1, 2007 2nd round
  • Mike Napoli, 0, 2008 supp 1st round
  • Scott Downs, 0, 2008 supp 2nd round
  • Josh Bard, 0, 2008 supp 3rd round
  • Dustin Pedroia, 0, 2008 1st round
  • Joakim Soria, 0, 2008 2nd round
  • Ryan Ludwick, 0, 2008 3rd round
  • Jared Burton, 0, 2008 4th round
  • Brendan Harris, 0, 2008 5th round
  • Melvin Mora, 0, 2008 6th round
  • J.C. Romero, 0, 2008 8th round
  • Ryan Theroit, 0, 2008 9th round
  • Ryan Dempster, 0, 2008 10th round
  • Cla Meredith, 0, 2008 11th round
  • Kevin Cameron, 0, 2008 12th round
  • Sammy Sosa, 0, 2008 13th round
I guess I don't do a lot of trading! I remember being asked in 1995 what it'd take to get Manny Ramirez, and my response was something along the lines of "pry him out of my cold, dead fingers." I'm just glad the other manager didn't want him too badly!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Interview of 1st Place Griz Owner - Jack Howard

The Grundy County Times interview Griz owner, Jack Howard.

Times - to Mr. Howard, "You must be pretty happy, your team is in first place after Block 1, that is a first. What do you have to say to that?"

Howard - "We are thrilled. We are not surprised, at least not as surprised as the rest of the league and our fans. We knew we had a pretty good team after the draft - our field manager played four simulated seasons after the draft and we won 3 of four division titles. "

Times - "Well that is surprising. That being said, why would you trade a World Series Hero - Mike Lowell and so much pitching, if you think you could challenge for the division's top spot?"

Howard - "Well, ----------------------- this is a multi part answer.
1. We had a chance to get the best prospect in this year's draft, Alex Gordon. He had had a rough first mlb season and we had hoped he would some how float into the second round. He didn't. We did not choose him or Brian Braun with the 1st or 3rd overall picks because we had the dilemma of having two top 3B ahead of them on our roster, and our needs are OF and Pitching.

2. Trading Lowell was necessary to open up a spot to get Gordon. We did not want to trade Mike. He was a major part of an infield that gobbled up every X-chance and turned it into an out or double-play. He also was one of our top batters, hitting over .300 and driving in important runs. He will help his new team immediately, and his departure will hurt our chances, no doubt, but we could not pass on the chance to get Gordon.

3. Trading so much pitching was extremely difficult, our bullpen, which was huge and filled with quality relievers was in place to take over any rough outing of our not so sound starting rotation. However, that was part of the cost to get Gordon, and we could not refuse the offer.

Times - "if the future was now, for the first time in Griz history, why hurt it?"

Howard - "Again, we asked if Gordon could be worked into a trade and when we were given the chance, we could not resist.

After playing through the first Block, we saw that Pocono was the best managed team in the division. That will get them some important wins. We felt that they probably would beat us out in the long run this season, and while Lowell is awesome, we felt Gordon would be the teams next Lowell, and for years after Lowell retired. We feel Pocono might be reaching the end of its long heyday as our division leader, and we may be poised to step up in the future with Gordon.

We feel we can still compete with Gordon, and after VFS threw in the towel with their trades, we think we will make this a 2 team race. Red Robbbins (and probably the rest of the league) recognizes some of our many weaknesses and Gordon for Lowell actually is a way to make up for one of those weaknesses."

Times - "Are you saying - you expect to stay in contention for a division title?"

Howard - "Why not. Yeah we gave up a lot and our chances have been reduced, but we are still extremely deep. Our ballpark is tough to play in. We still have a stellar infield, and Cuddyer/Upton have been awesome in the OF. We are still looking for ways to improve the team. We play to win. We will see what happens as the season unfolds."

Times - "Did you just drop a hint that there are more trades to come?"

Howard - "I do not rule that out. Our GM has made a couple inquiries. We look to improve whenever we can."

Times - Thanks for your time. To our readers - watch for our Gordon article.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Chows to Stand Pat --- For Now

Our team is on the Field.

Last year Chows GM/Owner Brad Sherlag was among the NASBL’s busiest at the end of each Block. This year he has been sitting on the sidelines, watching others make big deals. This sitting out has not been easy for Sherlag.

“We really like our club. Right now we are in last place, but we are in a tough division. Some of the teams ahead of us are going to run into usage problems. We also played well against LCC and Springfield in Block I. I think over time our depth will get us in this thing. Contrary to popular belief on sports talk radio, there will be both players and picks still remaining to acquire after Block II. If we have a better Block, we will be aggressively looking to add a starting pitcher and a corner outfielder. If we are still in the cellar we have chips that can be dealt to improve us for the future.”

Chips that the Chows could be ready to move after Block II to get some horses for this season could include Billy Butler, Josh Fields, Micah Owings and Draft Picks. If the Chows fall out of the race they may look to deal Carlos Pena, Joe Blanton, their bullpen (excluding Marmol and Nathan), and Kelly Johnson.

Asked for his best advice to Chows Fans – Sherlag says “Have patience. Our goal is not, nor will ever be, to be a .500 team that misses the play-offs. My favorite time to trade has always been after Block II. Sure we made a big deal at the end of Block I last season, but we made three deals after Block II. If I am a seller, I have more data on the players coming back. How are they progressing in their career? Do I think they can help us as soon as next year? If I am a buyer, I can feel better about mortgaging a bit of the future after our club has performed for the majority of the season.”

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Pigs Welcome New Hog

Lehigh Valley Iron Pig management is pleased to welcome new arrival Reggie Willits to the sty. Willits, 5'-11", 185#, and a switch hitting outfielder replaces historical first pick Juan Pierre, 5'-11", 180#, LH outfielder. Iron Pig management believes that the additional 5 pounds that Willits brings to the team will be instrumental in carrying the Pigs to at least a 0.500 record this season.

We believe that Willits will also provide slightly more discouragement to baserunning liberties than Pierre. It had been suggested (by our fan) that Pierre was so fast that he would be better off running the ball in rather than throwing it in. Lehigh Valley management, always ready to recieve input from our valued fan, tested this theory extensively and have decided conclusively that Pierre saves about 0.2 seconds by "throwing" it into the infielder. Gone are the days when the announcers would say, "there's a sharp single to right, Pierre has the ball, Bonds is limping round third.... he is being waved home.... it looks like there might be a play at the plate...... Bonds scores standing up!"

One additional value that Willits brings to our team is a discerning batting eye. Pierre had a very good batting eye, but chose never to use it. He rarely strikes out, but similarly, rarely walks. Willits on the other hand is a "dangerous intellectual" and realizes that he has no power and that a walk is as good as a single.

Players rumored to be on the Lehigh Valley trading block include: Derosa, Uggla, Quentin, Howard, Alou. Inquire within.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

John Lackey says Au Revoir to Vermont Fans

Burlington, VT

The Vermont Fighting Sioux are at it again, this time sending star pitcher John Lackey to the Georgia Roadkill. In return, 'Kill GM Johnny Miller coughed up #1 and #3 picks, along with SP Brandon Looper. The move now gives the Sioux 7 picks in the first 3 rounds of the 2009 draft (2 #1s, 3 #2s and 2 #3s).

Miller gets a staff ace with a NASBL career record of 49-24 with an ERA near 4.00. Parting with Lackey was a tough choice for Vermont, but in Sioux Nation this year it's all about next year. Lackey's utility next year is unknown as Vermont doctors were unable to predict continued success for Lackey in light of recent tricep issues.

Bye-bye John, we will miss you.

Sioux Trade Away 2 Franchise Legends

Burlington, VT

With the prospects of a deep playoff run bleak, the Vermont Fighting Sioux management team pulled the deal on two separate trades, each involving a 36 year old Franchise All-Star.

In the first move, VFS sent former closer and current setup man Billy Wagner down south to the Miami Surf in exchange for MSU's #2 pick in the 2008 Rookie/FA Draft and Ryan Langerhans.

Wagner was a member of Sioux Nation from 2005-2008, racking up a franchise record (by a long shot) 96 saves to go with a 12-16 record and 3.26 ERA. This year Wagner passed the closing reigns to rookie Hideki Okajima and served as a setup man. Wagner, while 36, still possesses his dangerous fastball and should provide the division leading Miami with another relief option in their drive to the playoffs.

The other move saw the franchise's best catcher, Jorge Posada, get shipped to the Springfield Isotopes. The fact that SPR already owns NASBL's best record should be unsettling to their division rivals, as the rich only got richer with this move. Vermont also sent LH specialist Ron Mahay along with their #9 draft pick to SPR. In return Vermont received SPR's #2 and #7 picks as well as catcher Carlos Ruiz and promising reliever Santiago Casilla.

Posada (seen above during his recent rehab activities) leaves Vermont with a career that spanned 2004-2008 in which he hit 60 HRs (5th all-time for VFS), knocked in 217 runs (6th) and hit .273. He gives SPR a solid bat to use either at DH or catcher.

Asked about the perception that he's giving up on his team for this year, Sioux GM Justin Rabidoux said "You, sir are correct, we indeed are throwing in the towel. This team lacks the necessary pitching depth to make playoff noise and to think otherwise would be foolish. Last year we made a run at a title (eventually falling in the LF LCS) and were aggressive buyers in the trade market, if we thought we had the same chance again, we'd be trading picks for talent instead of the other way around. It was the right thing for us to do giving Wags and the Great Gazoo a chance to play meaningful baseball late in their careers and it allows us to get younger for next year".

Staff ace John Lackey (6-2, 3.80 in '08 w/VFS) may be the next man out the door.