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.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

My 2 cents.....Going down to the wire!

This has been a very exciting season in the NASBL with two Division Titles up for grabs. It will come down the last two weeks of the season before the Play offs are settled. In the Taste Great East its a team 3 team Horse race (Now stop me if you heard this before) between HHA, SPR and LCC. One team will win the East, the other will be the Wild Card. Last year LCC had the highest winning percentage of a team that failed to make the PO, and unfortunately looks like that might be the case again this year. In the South it's also a 3 team race between LVI, GRK and OJW. However in the South the Winner will advance to the PO while the other 2 teams willjoin LCC for a weekend of fun provided by Government Contractor's Office. In the Less Filling the Central was won by PCM and the West was won by MSU. The Wild Card looks like DFW will back into it. SPL had a chance but fell short by losing those 'must win' games at home.

The second season is about to begin in the NASBL, with 6 teams getting ready for the PO, and 10 teams getting ready for the '09 Draft. Remember Spring Training is only 3 1/2 months away!

Knights Actively Shopping Matsui

(New York Daily Mirror - October 2, 2008)

NEW YORK - In an effort to recover from a brutally bad 2008 season that saw the Knights lose 113 games with six still to play, the Knights have announced that LF Hideki Matsui will be actively shopped this winter.

Matsui, 34, was the Knights' first pick in the 2004 draft and has provided consistent, solid home run power. After an average season that year, Mastui exploded in 2005, smashing 47 home runs and knocking in 121 runs while batting .311 and posting a 1.035 OPS. In 2007, when the Knights were contenders for the LF Central title, Matsui batted a robust .370 and posted a 1.000 OPS despite being limited by injury to just 154 at bats.

Even after getting off to a slow start, Matsui was an All-Star selection in 2008 and finished the season with 21 homers and 65 RBI for the brutal Knights. He was 10th in the LF in walks with 66.

Matsui was hampered by injuries this season with the Yankees, limiting him to 93 games and 337 at bats. However, he still managed to hit .294 and posted a .795 OPS. Despite being a left handed batter, Matsui hit .315 against lefties for the Yankees in 2008.

The Knights are reportedly looking for starting pitching and/or a solid bat. Matsui can also be packaged with players and/or picks in any trade.

Interested GM's can contact GM Mitch Pak.

Outlaw Climbs to 2 Behind Lehigh, Winning Last Home Game

Dustin Pedroia hit a homerun and had 3 RBI at Wreckin' So Field as the Outlaw
Josey Wales beat the Illinois Chow Chows by the count of 11 to 10.

Outlaw tallied 3 runs in the bottom of the 6th inning with the help of 3 hits.
The big moment was provided by Ryan Ludwick who made the home-town crowd a
happy bunch when he doubled plating two runs. It was roller coaster of a
game as the lead change hands 7 times.

J.C. Romero(2-2) got the win allowing no runs in 1 and 1/3 innings. Romero got
help from Joakim Soria who earned his 35th save. Tom Glavine(11-12) was
given the loss. He got hit pretty hard, allowing 13 hits and 2 walks in 5
and 1/3 innings.

Strat-O-Matic Report
BOXSCORE: 2008 Illinois Chow Chows At 2008 Outlaw Josey Wales 9/29/2008
  Chow Chows         AB  R  H RBI AVG     Josey Wales        AB  R  H RBI AVG
C.Figgins RF 2 1 0 1 .347 W.Taveras CF 5 2 2 0 .314
C-H.Ramirez PH 1 0 0 0 .299 D.Pedroia 2B 5 1 2 3 .313
D-A.Kearns RF 0 0 0 0 .281 A.Ramirez 3B 5 3 3 0 .291
F-J.Fields PH 1 0 0 0 .255 S.Sosa DH 4 3 2 2 .284
K.Johnson 2B 4 1 1 0 .238 J.Bard C 3 0 3 2 .289
C.Pena 1B 3 0 1 2 .265 A-R.Ludwick PH,RF 2 0 2 2 .273
J.Willingham LF 5 0 1 0 .301 M.Ramirez LF 3 0 1 2 .313
C.Beltran CF 3 3 2 0 .280 G.Anderson RF 4 0 0 0 .319
D.Young DH 4 3 2 2 .307 B-M.Napoli C 0 0 0 0 .223
T.Tulowitzki SS 5 1 2 4 .240 A.Gonzalez 1B 4 2 2 0 .252
A.Beltre 3B 4 1 1 0 .270 O.Vizquel SS 4 0 0 0 .198
K.Suzuki C 3 0 2 0 .258
E-M.Olivo PH 1 0 0 0 .217
-- -- -- --- -- -- -- ---
Totals 36 10 12 9 Totals 39 11 17 11

Chow Chows...... 0 4 2 0 0 2 0 0 2 - 10 12 0
Josey Wales..... 3 2 0 0 2 3 1 0 - 11 17 1

Chow Chows (76-65) IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
T.Glavine LOSS(11-12) 5 1/3 13 10 10 2 1 1 6.56
J.Frasor BS(2nd) 2 2/3 4 1 1 0 1 0 2.79
Totals 8 17 11 11 2 2 1

Josey Wales (90-70) IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
T.Wakefield 1 2 4 4 2 0 1 4.60
C.Meredith 1 5 2 2 1 0 0 4.94
J.Broxton 3 0 0 0 1 3 0 3.74
S.Downs BS(4th) 0 2/3 3 2 2 1 1 0 5.31
J.Romero WIN(2-2) 1 1/3 0 0 0 2 1 0 5.14
J.Soria SAVE(35th) 2 2 2 1 1 1 0 3.74
Totals 9 12 10 9 8 6 1

ATTENDANCE- 15,894 DATE- Thursday, September 29th 2008 TIME- Night
T- 3:31
LEFT ON BASE- Chow Chows: 9 Josey Wales: 7
DOUBLE PLAYS- Chow Chows: 1 Josey Wales: 1
ERRORS- M.Ramirez
DOUBLES- C.Beltran-2(25th), D.Young-2(14th), A.Beltre(44th), D.Pedroia(38th),
A.Ramirez(37th), S.Sosa(20th), J.Bard(16th), R.Ludwick(21st),
HOME RUNS- T.Tulowitzki(28th), D.Pedroia(10th)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Outlaw Playoff Hopes Fade in Pocono

Outlaw's two loss road trip to the Thunderdome turned our playoff hopes into a fading dream, sinking the team into third place, six games in the loss column, and 2.5 games overall, behind the Iron Pigs.

In game 1, Johan Santana(14-11) finally bested his Outlaw counterpart, Tim
Wakefield(11-7), by the score of 2 to 1.

In game 2, Pocono blasted Scott Kazmir for a five-run seventh and that was all she wrote.