Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Outlaw Career Leaders

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Time of the Year for Dealing!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best of everything in 2009 NASBLers!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Building of the Wales

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

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

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

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

NASBL Less Filling Award Winners Announced!

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

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

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

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

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

NASBL Tastes Great Award Winners Announced!

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Surf Disappointed in WS Loss!

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

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

AARP catching up the DFW.


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

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

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Iron Pig Trade Announcement / Team Preview

Dateline Bethlehem, PA.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Knights Share Blame for Zito's Failure

(New York Daily Mirror - December 23, 2008)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Happy Holliday

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 19, 2008

Roadkill "Lifer" Helton traded to TGS Rival

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

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

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

Thursday, December 18, 2008

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

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

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Chows Bolster their Offense

Illinois Times --

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

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

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

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

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

(New York Daily Mirror - December 16, 2008)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Illinois Times --

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Vote BJ for LF ROY

BJ #1

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for your consideration.

Tom Glavine Retires

Illinois Times –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vermont Welcomes Raúl Ibañez

Burlington, VT

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

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

スー tribe, gets 2b that attached to smooth defense

Burlington, VT

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 15, 2008

And Now There Is 1

News Flash from the chilly midwest.

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 8, 2008

Best (Luckiest) Draft Ever

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 5, 2008

Josh Fields is on the Block

Dateline Illinois:

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

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

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

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