Thursday, December 31, 2009

IronPigs Strengthen(?!?) Pitching Staff

In the continuing quest to create a pitching staff that features all Tommy John surgery pitchers, the IronPigs are pleased to announce the addition of Francisco Liriano. Liriano, who sadly will be an improvement over most of the frauds on our staff, is coming off surgery and will not be relied on heavily to carry much of the burden of the pitching staff. He will likely be used in a mop role. It is rumored that the IronPigs are in negotiations with other prospective players who might fit the bill. Management denied the rumor that Tommy John himself was being contacted.

Sioux Offseason Update - Hot Stove Edition

Burlington, VT -

The dust has finally settled (well, almost) on the travesty that was the 2009 Less Filling League Championship Series. For the first time since they blew a 3-0 series lead against Pennylegion's game Pilots squad, Vermont Fighting Sioux management and players have been seen in actual daylight. The hangover and hibernation were long and wrought with grief and Dewars.

But it's the dawn of a new day (/keeps telling himself that). Sioux GM Justin Rabidoux is proud to announce that he recently received his Stage 6 Merit Badge from the local chapter of Brotherhood of the 7 Stages of Grief. Stage 6 is Reconstruction and Working Through. And gosh darnit, that's just what we'll do. Stages 1 to 3 were so hard on the Sioux front office, that rumors of a possible liquidation of all assets, including Albert Pujols himself, were being considered. However, as they made "The Upward Turn", or Stage 5 to you fellow Merit Badge holders, the Sioux soon realized the folly of such thinking.

With that out of the way, it's time for the Sioux to evaluate their roster and off-season options. Vermont certainly has 17 worthy keepers, but they also have a need come draft day. That need is mainly picks. In the mad race for the (elusive) NASBL World Series trophy, the Sioux traded picks 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8 away. 'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, eh Mr. Tennyson?

The following players are hereby available for trade in return for draft picks.

RHRP - Ramon Ramirez - RR put together another great season out of the pen. Posting 69.2 IP with a great 0.623 OPS vs. RHB. Has proven himself a valuable SOM commodity. For the Sioux in '09 he posted a 2.89 ERA and held RHB to a sick .180 avg. and only 1 HR in 133 ABs. Perfect fit for a contender. I want to keep him, but he may be worth more to you than to the rebuilding Sioux.

LHRP - Hideki Okajima - Very productive 61 IP at your disposable. But did you know this, he held LHB to a 0.467 OPS. That's not a misprint, 0.467 OPS. Even the Royals think that sucks. Hideki continues to be a dependable workhorse into his 30s, posting his 3rd straight 60+ IP MLB season. Once. Again. 0.467 OPS. Same story as Ramon, I'll gladly keep him, but you should want him more than I do.

1b/DH - Aubrey Huff - He continues to hit and hit. The Sioux have Lyle Overbay locked into the backup 1b/DH slot, making Huff expendable.

2b/3b - Akinori Iwamura - An injury cut his season short, but he did return and play in the last 25 MLB games, and did so well enough to get acquired by the Pirates as their everyday 2b. Only one year removed from his season as a "1" at 2b, all signs point to a solid rebound for Aki. Only available due to Robinson Cano's great '09 MLB season. And don't look at Aki simply as a down the road chip, he still has 231 ABs for you with a 2 range at 2b and a sick 0.942 OPS vs. LHP. Perfect platoon player at 2b, and with that OPS even good enough to be a DH vs. LHP.

SP/RP - Francisco Liriano - Now a full two years removed from Tommy John surgery, he's a great low risk/high reward candidate for a team with excess picks or the gambling jones. Don't forget how good he was his rookie season, no reason to think that given adequate recovery time, which he's had, he can't produce for you in the future. Liriano had his troubles last year, but he still produced a 8.0 K/9 ratio, good stuff indeed. Had 5 relief appearance, so could be a decent 140 IP reliever to fill in for usage issues also.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

IronPig Trade Update

In an ongoing effort to improve our pitching staff, LVI management is pleased to announce that we have added a former MLB 18 game winner to our team. Pitcher Kelvim Escobar was added to the team via trade. His presence in our locker room will give a big boost to our younger pitchers.

Unfortunately, Escobar injured his pitching arm playing WII Tiger Woods Golf 2009 and will not be able to participate in the upcoming season, but his knowledge and understanding of the NASBL pitchers should be a big benefit to Jose (don't eat the worm) Cuevo, er Cueto.

Escobar and an undetermined draft pick were added in exchange for utility man Chase Headley. We are sad to see Chase leave after only one season, but he was behind Longoria, Crawford and Lind on the depth chart so his outlook for playing time was slim at best.

Chase was unavailable for comment, but his Facebook had the following quote: "that's just great, I get traded to the only team that was worse than the IronPigs last year"!

Chows Still Trying to Get a Bat

Illinois Times -- Rumor Report

GM/Owner Brad Sherlag is again in talks with other GMs to shore up his offense. He made some inquiries earlier in the off-season to try to get an impact bat for the Chows 2nd round pick. Sherlag is now sweetening the pot and adding a starting pitcher to the mix. Anonymous sources close to the GM are saying the pitcher is Blanton. Since the Chows are still in the market for a DH, this may be enough to get a deal done. If the Chows are unable to complete a deal - look for them to nab their DH in either the first or second round.

EDITORS NOTE: The Illinois Times realizes that these "leaks" are intentional. We know that the Illinois front office is using us as a tool to drum up interest and urgency from other NASBL GMs. However, this is the type of payback article that allows the Times to scoop other local newspapers when deals are consummated. For example, the St Albans Messenger has yet to report on the blockbuster deal that netted the local Cannibals a 6th.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Roadkill Reshuffle Deck

During a season that led even the most dedicated of Roadkill Nation to question the front office moves the slow rebuilding process continues. When Todd Helton was moved during the '08 Winter Meetings only to be followed by Mags, J-Roll, Lidge & Vlad during the disastarous '09 season, the goal was to shore up the horrific pitching staff.

With Adam Wainwright & Ricky Nolasco acquired via trade the 'Kill should show great improvement in '10. Wainwright is slated as the '10 opening day starter with Nolasco following John Lackey & Yovani Gallardo in the rotation. Brad Penny was also included in the Nolasco deal & is currently being evaluated by pitching coach Leo Mazzoni for the final spot. He is expected to miss the Roadkill's ST in Lake Buena Vista and will report directly to the STL Cards pitching camp to work with Dave Duncan.

With two #1 picks in the upcoming '10 Rookie Draft it's critical the front office sign a future Justin Morneau or Nick Markakis of year's past. "Got Bats" bumper stickers have been spotted recently around the ATL.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Knights '09: A Leap Forward - to Mediocrity

(New York Daily Mirror – December 27, 2009)

NEW YORK – “Losing is a disease, like polio…ah, but curable.”
Frank Carpenter, PhD, “The Natural”

Losing stinks. Losing a lot stinks even worse. About the only good thing that can be said about the Knights’ unforgettably bad 2008 season is that it was so putrid that it probably could never be repeated, even intentionally. That improvement was inevitable was the silver lining to the dung heap that was the team’s campaign two years ago.

Indeed, the Knights’ brass, from GM Mitch Pak on up, were sorely embarrassed after the Knights lost their final game of that 44-118 abomination, particularly after the club had finally experienced success in 2007, when the Knights won 87 games. Smarting from a 50% drop-off in production, Pak pledged to make sweeping changes to the club and vowed to get the team at least back to the fringe of relevancy, if not contention. He immediately rolled up his sleeves, went to his office closet and got out the axe he put away after the 2004 Midseason Massacre. This was not a job for a surgical scalpel; if this team were to get back at least a measure of respectability, and if Pak wanted the sports talk radio gasbags in New York off his back, substantial changes had to be made, and quickly.

Pak swung the axe mightily and took out the Knights putrid pitching staff. Gone in one fell swoop were Doug Davis, Dontrelle Willis and mega-bust Barry Zito, who combined for an incredible 9-54 record, including Zito's epic 0-23 in 2008. The axe swung again and gone were has-beens like Mike Piazza (3 HR, 10 RBI, .227 BA, .561 OPS) and Cliff Floyd (.205, 4 HR, 13 RBI). With more swings came the ejections of one-hit wonders like Billy Hall, whose stupefying single-season decline from 2007 (49 HR, 134 RBI, .291) to 2008 (.250, 3 HR, 10 RBI) was akin to falling off the deck of a luxury liner into the Marianas Trench. Gone was mega-bust draft pick backstop Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who had more letters in his last name (14) than runs scored (six).

When the carnage was done, Pak turned his attention to rebuilding the starting rotation. With the overall #1 pick of the ’09 draft, the Knights, in a controversial move, took hard-throwing lefty hurler Jon Lester, and subsequently added complementary arms in Gavin Floyd and Joe Saunders. 40 year old fan favorite Mike Mussina was brought back in his final season to send off Empire Field to the Great Ballpark Beyond. Pak then turned to the offense and brought in legendary Grizz speedster Juan Pierre and hard-hitting infielders Jorge Cantu and Clint Barmes. He brought back defensive specialist Jason Kendall (and no one else, natch) to catch. And, in his crowning move, he dealt talented but underachieving righthander Adam Wainwright (0-4, 8.47) for a quality (if aging) bat in Vladimir Guerrero. He then tweaked the bullpen and fashioned a middle relief staff that was as good as any in the entire league.

The new ingredients formed, if not a tasty stew, then at least an edible concoction that Knights fans could swallow without gagging too much. The Knights competed in ’09 and finished with 73 wins, a 29-win leap from a year earlier. While they didn’t contend in the LF Central, they at least took a big step forward to mediocrity, if not borderline respectability. The Knights went from being a mud-caked doormat in 2008 to a team that could beat you on any given day in 2009 but couldn't win consistently enough to be a contender in '09.

With the above serving as a backdrop, the Mirror presents its review of the 2009 Knights.

Xavier Nady - Grade: A

Plainly put, Nady was the Knights’ only true offensive star in 2009. He bashed 31 homers, good for sixth in the LF in a year where dingers were difficult to come by (Albert Pujols only had 33). Also had 34 doubles but netted just 75 RBI, thanks primarily to the Knights inability to get their table-setters on base consistently. Hit .293, good for tenth in the LF.

Rafael Perez - Grade: A

One of the cornerstones of the Knights superior middle relief corps, Perez was also a member of the Knights’ “closer by committee” club. Logged 65.1 innings over 37 appearances and was nothing short of terrific, going 4-1 with a 2.48 ERA and 75 strikeouts, just 24 walks and a 1.29 OPS.

Chad Qualls - Grade: A-

Qualls was named the closer after Takashi Saito was traded midway through the 2008 season. Was never quite up for the job, but did bag 9 of the team’s 24 saves. Posted a 4-2 record in 39 appearances with a 2.86 ERA, striking out 60 while walking just 20. Will probably get the closer’s job again in 2010.

Jon Lester - Grade: B+

Lester was the overall #1 pick in the ’09 draft and the face of the future of the Knights rebuilt rotation. He faced an enormous amount of pressure to do well and did not disappoint, going 12-10 for a team that finished 16 games under .500. His 3.86 ERA was good for 8th in the LF and his ability to eat innings (216.2, seventh in the LF) took pressure off the Knights bullpen. His 162 strikeouts were also good for 8th in the LF. A solid rookie season.

Grady Sizemore - Grade: B+

Sizemore rebounded nicely from a dreadful 2008, coming within a pair of eyelashes of clinching his first 30-30 season. Hit 28 homers and 38 doubles, but, like Nady, didn’t drive in many runs; he only managed to collect 73 RBI. His 29 steals is a career high. Featured prominently on the LF leaderboards: sixth in the LF in runs scored (89), total bases (275) and doubles; tied for eighth in homers and third in stolen bases. Fails to reach “A” level because of a lowish .266 batting average.

Vladimir Guerrero - Grade: B+

Vlad didn’t have the same kind of immediate impact that Jim Thome did when he arrived in New York in 2001, but his presence in the lineup definitely gave opposing managers cause for concern. Here, for the first time in five years, was a legitimate Knights slugger who could change a game with one swing. The 4-time Georgia All-Star only appeared in 60 games for the Knights after a mid-season trade with the Roadkill, but he made a large contribution with a .314 average, 15 homers, 41 RBI and a .935 OPS in just 245 at bats. He misses a higher grade due to his limited at bats.

Darren Oliver - Grade: B+

Continued to perform in a dominant fashion despite advancing age. Led the club in relief appearances with 43 and innings pitched out of the pen with 80.1. Was murder on lefty hitters (.170), struck out 46 against 20 walks and posted a 3.47 ERA with a 3-2 record and two saves.

Manny Delcarmen - Grade: B+

Was another member of the Knights excellent middle relief staff. Posted a 3.81 ERA in 54.1 innings spread out over 34 appearances. Fanned 49 against just 20 walks and held all batters to just a .224 average. Had an impressive 1.17 WHP.

Jeremy Affeldt - Grade: B

Another key member of the Knights middle relief staff, Affeldt was invaluable, making 31 appearances spanning 69.1 innings. Although he did have a losing record (1-4), also had an excellent 2.86 ERA. Allowed just 2 homers all season. Fails to get into “A” range because of a mediocre strikeout to walk ratio of 1.73-1 (58-33).

Joe Saunders - Grade: B

A mid-level draft pick in 2009, Saunders’ ’09 season was a textbook example of how statistics can be misleading. Although he had a poor 8-13 won-loss record, his 3.86 ERA suggested low run support (no surprise from this club). Gave the Knights 197.1 innings while allowing just 187 hits, striking out 120 and walking just 63. His two complete game shutouts led the club. Lefties hit just .239 off him.

Adam LaRoche - Grade: B

If not for his inability to hit left-handed pitching, requiring the Knights to constantly seek a platoon, LaRoche would be able to get 550 at bats in a season and probably hit 30-35 homers. Instead, LaRoche usually finds himself as the left-handed member of a first base platoon and 2009 was no exception. And, as usual, LaRoche turned in very good numbers in a partial season – 24 homers, 26 doubles, a .271 average and .855 OPS in 436 at bats. His grade is held down by his low RBI production, just 59.

Clint Barmes - Grade: B

Barmes was brought in to play second this year, as the Knights weren’t confident that Ty Wigginton was an everyday player at that spot. Barmes performed very well in his first year in New York , batting .290 with 11 homers, 28 doubles and 55 RBI in 106 games. His aggressive running style netted him 28 doubles in just two-thirds of a season.

Jason Kubel - Grade: B

Kubel was a 13th round pick for the Knights in 2009 but like many late-rounders selected by Mitch Pak, Kubel paid off handsomely. In 128 games, Kubel hit 19 homers and drove in 65 runs, His 10 triples were good for a second-place tie in the LF with Grundy’s Stephen Drew and was a major factor behind his 66 runs scored.

Garrett Atkins - Grade: B

With Michael Young moving to third in 2010 and with the team already loaded with first basemen, Atkins has probably spent his final year in a Knights uniform. Platooned for the first time in his career, limiting him to just 64 games and 212 at bats, the former All-Star managed to rebound from a lousy 2008 and return to his old form, batting .297 with 13 homers and 39 RBI. His on-base percentage was the best in years at .379 and his .898 OPS was among the team’s leaders. Atkins gave the Knights a steady presence at third in his years in New York and if he is cut, he will be missed.

Matt Kemp - Grade: B-

Like Atkins, Kemp was platooned at center this season, but the 23 year old made the most of his limited playing time. In 217 at bats, Kemp batted .304 with 35 runs scored, 18 doubles and 22 RBI. He was a real threat against lefties, batting a lethal .339. He was a legitimate base-stealing threat, swiping 20 bags in 22 attempts. After two years in part-time service and with incumbent Grady Sizemore facing limited at bats next season due to injury issues, look for Kemp to emerge as the club’s starting centerfielder in 2010. With 600 at bats, Kemp could steal 30-40 bases and score over 100 runs.

Jorge Cantu - Grade: B-

Cantu is an enigma. He was drafted in the 8th round of the ’09 draft, even though the Knights were already set at first and third, his two best positions. The Knights love Cantu’s bat, however, and so made room for him by shoehorning him into platoons at both first and third, managing to get him 331 at bats. Cantu delivered a good season, but not the electrifying one Pak had hoped for. His .275 average, .750 OPS, ten homers and 39 RBI were just adequate, even for someone limited to 86 games. Cantu’s lack of discipline at the plate (64 strikeouts vs. 17 walks) was alarming, although he did boast a healthy .307 average against lefties.

Ty Wigginton - Grade: B-

The Wigster was handed the starting second base job in the spring, in the hopes that he could be another Mark Loretta and provide an offensive boost from that traditionally modest offensive position. But doubts began to form, and the club eventually drafted Clint Barmes to complement Wigginton at second, a move he did not appreciate after being one of the team’s lone power threats a year ago. Perhaps feeling stung after hitting 30 homers in ’08, Wig shrank to just 19 dingers in 2009, though his 45 RBI are pretty good by Knight standards. His .253 average and .731 OPS keep him from a higher grade.

Octavio Dotel - Grade: B-

Dotel had a pretty good year in middle relief, making 34 appearances and tallying 53.1 innings, during which he allowed 47 hits and 26 walks, while striking out 59. Tended to lose movement on his fastballs occasionally, resulting in 12 homers. Misses out on a higher grade because of a 4.56 ERA.

Scott Linebrink - Grade: C+

An adequate middle reliever for the Knights, Linebrink has never quite lived up to the Knights’ hopes that he would be a lights-out set-up man or perhaps a closer. Made just 24 appearances in 2009, going 0-3 with a 4.43 ERA. Allowed 65 baserunners in 44.2 innings and surrendered an alarming 13 home runs.

Michael Young - Grade: C+

Questions about age and declining ability are starting to swirl around the Knights captain, who will be 34 next season. Young leads the Knights in most offensive career categories and marked his 1,000th hit as a Knight this past season. He has been wearing a New York uniform since mid-2003, longer than any other Knight and longer than many players on other clubs as well. But 2009 marked Young’s second down season in the past three. Benched for one block for the first time ever, Young batted just .258 with 9 homers and 61 RBI, with an alarming .362 slugging percentage and .668 OPS. The team made a long-term commitment to Young as they saw him as a Derek Jeter-type of player, who could provide both power and leadership, but if Young really is in a period of pre-decline inconsistency, the Knights had better at least start thinking about a new face of the franchise. Young will be moving to a corner position next season and the Knights will need more production from him if they have any dreams of .500, much less contention for a wild card.

Jason Kendall - Grade: C+

Kendall deserves a gold medal for perseverance but only a C+ for performance. After the club revealed in mid-season that it had accidentally neglected to draft a backup catcher and was subsequently unable to trade for one, Kendall was pressed into full time service. He caught all 162 games, amassing a career high 670 plate appearances. But the daily grind clearly wore him down. Despite making the ’09 All-Star team (and what does that tell you about the paucity of offensive catchers in the LF?), Kendall hit just .234, a career low, with one homer and 53 runs batted in. His .287 on-base percentage clearly showed the strain on his 34 year old body. It is a testament, however, to Kendall ’s ability to hit in the clutch, when you consider that while he netted 53 RBI on just one homer, Adam LaRoche only netted 59 with 24 homers. That is what lifts Kendall to the “C” level. Knights fans never really got to show their appreciation, however; Kendall was traded for SS Cristian Guzman immediately after the regular season ended - a classless move by the Knights, in the opinion of this page.

Juan Pierre - Grade: C

Pierre , a base-stealing legend for the Grizzlies, was a late-round draft pickup, was taken primarily to address the Knights’ glaring weakness in baserunning speed. Used mostly as a spot starter, defensive replacement and pinch hitter, Pierre had just 137 at bats. The lack of consistent playing time clearly affected him; while his batting average (.263) was OK, his other key numbers were putrid – no homers, 4 RBI, a .578 OPS consisting of a .294 on base percentage and .285 slugging percentage. But, Pierre did do a good job in what he was brought here for – speed on the bases. Pierre was successful in 17 of his 20 steal attempts in 2009 and was 5 for 6 in sacrifice situations.

Mike Mussina - Grade: C

With his number 35 set to be retired next spring at spanking new Knights Field, Mussina did not exactly go out in a blaze of glory in 2009. Won 11 games (against 14 losses) but allowed far too many hits (255) and right-handed hitters feasted off his pitches to a .385 clip. Did have excellent control, striking out 159 while walking just 35, keeping him from a lower grade. Allowed 30 homers, inflating his ERA to an unsightly 5.49. He goes out as franchise leader in most career pitching categories, including wins (77, going back to the North Celtic Druid days) and strikeouts (1,122). His 2002 Cy Young Award trophy is on display in the Knights Hall of Fame.

Gavin Floyd - Grade: C

Floyd, along with Lester and Saunders, was one of the three young pitchers the Knights drafted in the early rounds to refill the rotation gutted after the ’08 disaster. Even by the Knights mediocre-at-best standards, Floyd had a subpar season, going 9-13 with a bloated 5.45 ERA. He does get credit for allowing fewer hits than innings pitched (182 vs. 185) and for striking out 139, he allowed way too many home runs (36) and his 52-73 BB/K ratio against lefties is alarming. Floyd must pick it up in ’10 if the Knights are to make any noise in the LF Central.

Jeff Kent - Grade: C-

Even for a 40 year old veteran, Kent was a disappointment to the Knights. Brought in to shore up questionable offense from the second base position, Kent batted just .229 with three homers, 22 RBI and a .597 OPS in 227 at bats – all well below his career numbers. His .182 average against left-handed pitching is awful for a right-handed hitter. Chalk up Kent as another faded veteran who went out with a whimper instead of a bang.

Luke Scott - Grade: C-

Used primarily as a defensive replacement and sometimes-DH, Scott appeared in 95 games, batting .229. Managed to drive in 48 runs in limited playing time. His 88 strikeouts in 340 at bats showed an alarming lack of plate discipline and helped to drive his on-base percentage down to .303. Surprisingly, was intentionally walked three times.

Matt Cain - Grade: D+

Cain suffered through another subpar year, his second straight since his impressive rookie year in 2007. While Cain did win 14 games in ’09 (against 15 losses), nobody watching him was fooled; his success was primarily due to run support he received. His other numbers speak loudly about how poor his season really was: 196 innings, 242 hits, 108 walks, a 1.78 WHP and 30 homers allowed. The Knights are counting on Cain, who is still just 25, to have a big comeback season in ’10 and be the right-handed complement to Jon Lester. If he flops again, the Knights will go nowhere in the standings and will look elsewhere for a quality right-handed starter.

Jeff Baker - Grade: D

Most memorable moment as a Knight was his accidental selection in the draft by Mitch Pak, who thought he was drafting C Josh Baker. Had no impact on the Knights season at all, with just 66 at bats and a .227 average. Had more strikeouts (20) than hits (15).

Corey Hart - Grade: D-

Was obtained by the Knights in a hideous trade involving slugger Hideki Matsui, whom the Knights felt had run out of gas. Hart quickly proved to be a dud, batting just .211 in 71 at bats, quickly earning himself a spot on the bench. His abysmal .507 OPS was the lowest on the team.

Adam Wainwright - Grade: Inc.

Wainwright has a live arm, but never panned out in New York . Was given a second chance after a 5-14, 5.60 campaign in 2008 but when he started off 0-4, 8.47 in his first seven starts of 2009, the club gave up on him. He was benched and subsequently dealt for Vladimir Guerrero. While there is no indication that Wainwright would have rebounded from his terrible start and would have had a good ‘09, we will be charitable and say that his season here was incomplete.

Seth McClung - Grade: Inc.

McClung was the other Roadkill player the Knights received in the Vladimir Guerrero trade. Made just 10 appearances and was utterly forgettable, posting a 7.06 ERA and a WHP of 2.00. Opposing hitters will be sorry to see him go, as they teed off on him at a .344 clip.

Mike Jacobs - Grade: Inc.

Jacobs can’t figure out whether Mitch Pak likes him or not, and frankly, neither can we. He was first drafted by the Knights before the 2007 season but spent most of the year spitting pistachio nut shells out in the bullpen with the relievers, amassing a grand total of 8 at bats, during which he went hitless. He was released but then drafted again before the disastrous ’08 season. He did have a good season in a part time role in ’08 but was again released. He was drafted a third time by the Knights in ’09, but once again resumed his role as president of the benchwarmers, amassing just 16 at bats. This time around, however, Jacobs made the most of his very limited time, batting .375 with three homers, 7 RBI and a 1.290 OPS. With Jorge Cantu and Adam LaRoche still ahead of him on the 1B depth chart, however, don’t look for Jacobs to survive another cutdown round this year. But in the unpredictable world of the Knights, who knows?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Chows Hire Counsell

Illinois Times -- No, this isn't another story about the legal wranglings surrounding DYoungGate from a few years back. This time the Chows are not lawyering up, rather they are solidifying their middle infield. In a rare move that loses a Chows draft picks, Illinois traded their 6th pick to LCC for Craig Counsell.

"The move makes sense to us in a couple of ways. We wanted to get a 2B to share the load with Prado. Counsell fits that bill nicely and will play against the R-R guys while Prado plays against lefties and the R-L guys. We also needed to get a 2B who was rated at SS. Now that Hanley is a 2, we don't need a defensive caddy anymore. Counsell will fill in very occasionally for Hanley to keep his usage under check. We should be able to do this in blowouts and keep hanley available to start most every game."

Is this a signal the Chows are going for it this year? "It really all depends on how the draft breaks. With 5 picks in the first two rounds, our team will look a whole lot different than it does now. We will not pass-up a guy we think is a future superstar for a veteran that will be a stop-gap for us. However, we are not oposed to drafting a guy still in their 20s that is an established major leaguer. Right now our team does not have enough bats or top of the rotation guys to compete in our division. Who is selected with the top 6 picks (the Chows figure to have the 7th, 8th and 9th picks) will determine if we draft more with an eye towards this year or the future. The nice thing about Craig is he gives us roster flexibility. We free up the need for a back-up SS and maybe even the need for a back-up 3B. Each extra roster spot gives us the flexibility to take the best guy available instead of the position we need to fill."

Monday, December 14, 2009

Predictions - Chows Fielding Ratings

Tomorrow the annual fielding ratings will be released and give Chows GM/Owner Brad Sherlag some clarity bout some of the teams strengths and weaknesses. Below is the Illinois Times predictions and how changes could impact the club.

1B - Carlos Pena -- Prediction 2 -- Last year Pena had a 1, figures to go down a little with injury and others moving up.

2B - Martin Prado -- Prediction 3 -- There is a chance for a 4 here and Illinois would then have to address 2B. Prado may not even hit well enough for a 3 to be there. Look for the Chows to open up some trade talks once the ratings are known.

SS - Hanley Ramirez -- Prediction 3 -- He was a 4 two years ago and a 3 last year. We see him retaining his 3 but you never know. The Tulo trade will look worse if Hanley is saddled with a 4.

3B - Chone Figgins -- Prediction 2 -- Chone was a 3 last year but is regarded as a premium defensive 3B around the league. He could get anywhere from a 1 to a 3 - we are splitting the difference and going with a 2.

OF - Carlos Beltran -- Predition CF2 arm -2 -- Beltran is a perennial 1 but we think his injuries will push him to a 3 this season.

OF - Michael Bourn -- Prediction CF1 arm 0 -- Winning the gold glove should assure no worse than a 2, but we think Bourn will get the 1

OF - Kosuke Fukudome -- Prediction CF3, RF2 arm -1 -- He was not previously rated in CF so it will be interesting to see what lies ahead for kosuke.

OF - Josh Wilingham -- LF 4, RF 4 arm 0 -- Josh could get a 5 or he could get a 3 but we think a 4 is about right.

C- kurt Suzuki -- 3 arm +1 -- Kurt had a poor throwing year this season and should move from neutral to plus.

The Chows should be in good shape at the corners in the IF and in the OF with Beltran, Bourn and Fukudome. Unfortunately the middle infield is the most important part of the diamond and the Chows are weak there. SS, 2B and C could be a defensive sore spot for Illinois. Look for the Chows to get a 2B via trade or the draft and add a defensive C on draft day.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Iron Pig Call to Arms

The Lehigh Valley IronPigs suffered a tremendous sophomore slump in 2009. Having made the playoffs in the inaugural season, expectations were high for 2009, however, the baseball gods had other ideas.

The 2008 team featured a pitching staff that led the league in team ERA (3.82). The offense was somewhat pedestrian, ranking in the middle/bottom of most statistical categories. The combination proved effective though as the team posted a record of 96-66 which qualified for the playoffs.

The 2009 team was a completely different story. The team ERA skyrocketed to 5.21. The best IronPig starter was Gil Meche who posted a 7-14 record with an ERA of 4.49. Mid season acquisition, Jonathan Papelbon did not have many save opportunities, but made the most of his chances. He was the lone bright spot in a dreary season of pitching. The IronPig offense proved equally dismal. The team was near the bottom of almost every statistical category that matters. The lone bright spot was Jose Reyes, who was the team's lone all star selection.

It is reported that Reyes was complaining that his legs felt "tight" toward the end of the season. Management plans to be very cautious with Reyes in the 2010 season and will probably limit his use.

Management had the following comments following the 2009 season. IronPig management knows that the fans deserve better than we showed in 2009. We appreciate your patience and are doing everything in our power to improve the team for 2010. Management has quite a few pieces that make good trade bait and are interested in upgrading the pitching staff accordingly. Keep the faith.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Part 1 - Griz History of +/-

Whats Gone Wrong in Bear Land
How Many Bad Decisions Can One GM Make
(a.k.a. How Stupid Am I)

Part 1

The Grundy County Grizzlies joined the NASBL during the 2001 season. The first GM mistake I made was allowing Vermont to claim Sammy Sosa. Sammy was his first steroid blue chip contributor of the Fighting Sioux. I did end up with Brad Radke who led the Griz with 8 Wins in its inaugural season. The Griz completed the season 48-114 and in the NASBL basement, a location we have occupied way too often.

Grundy County played lets Make a Deal with the first pick in the 2002 draft. Vermont was happy to pass on Jermaine Dye and the 5th overall pick to get a gangly hitter without a position named Alex Pujols. (Mr. Beard you once asked who the first pick in the 2002 – theres your answer) I had boldly predicted the 1st round of the draft figuring Jimmy Rollins, Roy Oswalt, and Adam Dunn would be available when my turn came up at 5. I wanted Dunn and lost him when the York Town Schooners took him at #3. [I was unable to determine who the Kansas City Cannibals took with the 2nd pick or who the New York Knights took with the 4th pick.] I choose Oswalt in the fifth spot and when Rollins was available at pick 13. I traded Radke and others to acquire the pick and take Rollins as my regular SS for the next few years.

Looking back it would have been nice to have kept the pick and take Pujols but I got good results from Dye (BAvg. .299, 24 Dingers, and 92 RBIs [holding the single season Griz RBI record of 92 until Ryan Howard broke that record with 103 this year]) and Oswalt (7 Wins [tie for team high in 2002] and second in ERA at 4.76). Rollins batted .225 with 11 jacks and 46 stolen bases [second on the team to Juan Pierre who set the NASBL stolen base record at 130]. The Griz had a great draft – even if results did not support that hypothesis. 1st round picks Oswalt and Rollins, 2nd rounder Ben Sheets, and Billy Wagner and Jon Garland, all provided hope and several seasons of play. After the 2006 season the Griz traded Oswalt and Pat “the Bat” Burrell for Miguel Cabrera and Mark Buehrle. Billy Wagner was traded to the Fighting Sioux after he 2004 season; do not remember what our return was. Rollins was traded following the 2005 season to the Roadkill for a prospect named Justin Morneau who had not panned out yet after being drafted in 2005. So what went wrong – well among other things, I cut Dye and Buehrle when they had off years and/or injuries.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Haymakers looking to next year (again)

TROY: After a second straight sub-.500 season and third straight season of missing the playoffs, the Haymakers are looking next season as a time to rebound. The team hit .257 in 2009, the second worst team BA in the league to go along with a 4th worst team ERA of 4.85, making any sort of playoff possibility a distant memory.

There again seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel next season as a few players may make the Haymakers 2010 playoff push an interesting one.

Mark (Hamil) Reynolds: After hitting a respectable .278 with 21 homers as a part time player in 2009, Reynolds blasted 44 homers and stole 24 bases with a farm team in Arizona and should fill in nicely as the everyday middle of the order hitter for the Haymakers in 2010. His defense at 3B is a liability, so expect Reynolds to don his 1B glove or DH for most of the season.

Jason Bartlett: Picked up from New Jersey as a platoon/defensive replacement player; Bartlett did nicely in 2009 hitting .340 with 16 SB's for Troy but had a breakout season with the bat on the farm, hitting .320 with 30 SB's in an everyday role. He also grew into himself, hitting a record 14 homers, while never hitting more than 5 in any season. There is some question about his glove at SS for the long term, but expect to see Bartlett manning the gap for the Haymakers in 2010.

Andre Ethier: Ethier had sub-par season as the 2009 cleanup hitter in Troy, hitting only .260 with 14 homers and 66 RBI's, but he should rebound nicely as he finally flashed his potential with 31 homers and over 100 RBI's for the fall league team in LA. His lefty bat should be a nice complement to Reynolds right hand slugging ability.

Brandon Phillips: The excitement of having a gold glove secondbaseman with 30-30 potential was too impossible to hid at Troy's front office when they picked up Phillips in the blockbuster Matt Holliday trade. Although Phillips had his expected down season with the bat, hitting almost zero against righties, he still posted 18 homers, 60 RBI's, and stole 28 bases all while batting at the bottom of Troy's lineup. Not to mention the great gold-glove caliber defense. Expect more of the same from Phillips in 2010, albeit with a higher BA and a little more run production.

Hunter Pence: Although Pence started the 2009 season on the bench, playing requirements forced him into the OF for 107 games. He didn't impress with the bat as a corner outfielder for this league, but he is an above average defender with a superb arm. It's debatable whether or not he posses a bat strong enough for the NASBL, even though he is one of the GM's "Ken's guys". Expect him to man RF in 2010 as a 6th or 7th place hitter.

Billy Butler: Picked up from Illinois in the 2008 offseason for Aubrey Huff, Butler looks to be the star hitter he is expected to be. Only 23, Butler hit .301 with 51 doubles and 21 homeruns for the KC farm team and he is still getting better. He was also given a chance to play 1B everyday and did not embarrass himself, but it's still up in the air whether his glove is good enough to play there everyday. The future is bright here.

Those are some impressive players to look forward to for the 2010 season, but don't let us forget about the busts. 1st round pick Geovanny Soto turned out to be a major bust behind the plate and Rick Ankiel was drafted in the second round of the spring draft but may not make the team. Another one of "Ken's guys", Conor Jackson, may finally get the boot after a few sub-par seasons with the Haymakers and a myriad of injuries for 2010.

Here's a quick look at the expected 2010 lineup for the Haymakers:

Jason Bartlett, SS
Brandon Phillips, 2B
Billy Butler, 1B
Mark Reynolds, 3B
Andre Ethier, LF
Hunter Pence, RF
Cody Ross, CF
Elijah Dukes, DH(?)
Geovanny Soto, C

There are some holes here, but it's looking a lot better than last seasons opening day lineup.

Later a look at the 2010 pitching staff of the Haymakers.

Votto, NJT Punch Ticket to LCS!

New Jersey Trash Heap Rookie of the Year candidate Joey Votto (.298/25/98) not only survived his grueling 1st year of NASBL play, he also had enough left in the tank at the end of the season to power NJT to a hard-fought victory over Doug Sherlag's perennial powerhouse Springfield Isotopes. The young Canadian-born slugger led his team in virtually every offensive category: 5 hr, 10 rbi, 7 runs scored, and 8 base hits. His left-handed fireworks were complemented from the right side by those of 2nd year man Chris Iannetta, whose 4 hr and 9 rbi gave the Heap a difficult to control lefty-righty dynamic duo.

While he struggled in games 1 and 4, allowing 6 runs in each outing, franchise pitcher Tim Lincecum showed why he is the New Jersey ace in game 7. The youngster went 6.2 IP, striking out 12 and outdueling Springfield #1 C.C. Sabathia in the deciding game.

New Jersey will now advance to face Mark Hildebrandt's Outlaw Josey Wales, a squad which the Heap has traditionally struggled against. 2009 was no exception, as NJT posted a 5-9 regular season mark against the pitching-tough Outlaw squad (.232 opponent's batting average, lowest in the league).

Thursday, November 5, 2009

IronPig 2009 Draft Review

Iron Pig 2009 Draft Review. This year’s draft class focused primarily on hitters. We were pleased to add three blue chip hitters (Longoria, Upton, Lind), but our fan base dreams longingly of having a pitcher or two that they can root for. Sadly, it doesn’t look like there are any to choose from at this point.

Round 1 (pick 3) – Evan (don’t call me Eva) Longoria – Evan lived up to expectations this past season. We believe that he will hit for more power and continue to play excellent defense at the hot corner for many years to come.
Status: Keeper. His bronze statue is being made as we speak.
Round 1 (trade) – Justin Upton – Justin looks to be a fixture in the Lehigh Valley lineup for the coming season. It remains to be seen whether he will have the defensive skills necessary to play the demanding right field position, or whether he will be relegated to his more natural defensive position of designated hitter. We continue to look for great things from him.
Status: Keeper.
Round 2 – Kevin Slowey – Kevin had an up and down year. We would like him to continue to pitch to contact and rely on his fielders rather than trying to strike everyone out. He is young and the season seemed to wear on him. He was complaining about shoulder fatigue and that may come into play next season. The situation will have to be monitored closely.
Status: Keeper.
Round 2 – Johnny Cueto – At this point, the jury is still out on Cueto. He is still young and showed flashes of brilliance, but he must learn to harness himself and exert all of his energy on his pitching. He is a keeper, but we would like him to develop a bit more consistency.
Status: Keeper.
Round 7 – Travis Hafner – Travis posted some good numbers vs. rhp and he will likely be retained for the upcoming season.
Status: Probable keeper.
Round 7 – Sean Gallagher – Brutal season and will be dropped.
Status: Should be taken behind the woodshed and beaten silly.
Round 7 – Chase Headley – Headley had a decent season posting respectable numbers vs RH pitching. He is young and we would like to give him another shot to see how he does next season. Our outfield is crowded, but we would like to hang onto him never the less.
Status: Probable keeper.
Round 9 – Alexi Casilla – Brutal season and will be dropped.
Status: Recommend group therapy and batting lessons.
Round 9 – J Sowers – He hid his talent well and will not be retained for the coming season.
Status: Recommend that he goes back to selling used cars.
Round 10 – J Garland – He had a mediocre season at best. Unfortunately, with the dearth of starting pitching on our team, he will likely be retained for next season.
Status: Probable keeper.
Round 11 – Louis Castillo - Luis had an incredible bounceback season posting a .319/.411/.345 line vs RHP. He is someone that a playoff team might like to have for the coming season and is available for trade.
Status: Keeper.
Round 12 – Adam Lind – One of the steals of the draft. The left handed batter posted a line of .317/.389/.602 vs RHP. Wow. Not bad for a 12th round pick.
Status: Keeper, but could be traded.
Round 13 – Jensen Lewis – All around awful season. Nice strikeout numbers, but nothing else. He is your guy if you would like a strikeout, but can also afford 2 walks and a single while waiting for it.
Status – Not a keeper.
Round 14 – Glen Perkins – Abysmal would not be an overstatement for his season.
Status – Recommend sex change and career as exotic dancer.
Round 15 – J Mathis – Reverted to career norms. About the only good thing that can be said for him is that he had more homeruns than Barry Bonds last season.
Status: Not a keeper.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Look Back at the Chows 2009 Draft

Illinois Times – Chows 2009 draft did not generate a play-off birth or any sure-fire franchise players, but it did help change the face of the Chows and will be responsible for almost a third of Illinois’ returning players. Here is a round by round look at the draft one year later.

Round 1 – Edinson Volquez – Volquez had a mixed rookie season for Illinois going 13-12 but posting a 5.43 ERA. His 219 strikeouts in 213 innings showed why Sherlag thought Volquez has the stuff to be a front of the rotation starter. Unfortunately Volquez has had offseason surgery and will only have a limited role for Illinois in 2010.

Round 2 – Traded for David DeJesus – Once it was apparent that Illinois was not postseason bound in 2009, Sherlag packaged DeJesus, Marmol and Carlson to DFW for a first round pick. It is hard to determine what portion of the trade value was attributable to DeJesus, but the first round pick should help Illinois in 2010 and beyond.

Round 3 – Traded with Billy Butler to get Aubrey Huff. Huff had a fantastic first two blocks for the Chows before being dealt to VFS for a 2nd and a 5th. Essentially, Illinois traded Billy Butler and a 3rd for a 2nd and a 5th – seems like a wash. Sherlag was able to gamble on contention in 2009 without hurting 2010.

Round 4 – Jesse Carlson – Another cog in the trade with DFW – Carlson put up nice numbers for Illinois before the annual fire-sale.

Round 5 – Kosuke Fukudome – Fukudome did not pay many dividends in 2009, but should be a nice player for Illinois in 2010. He will now be rated in CF and RF and posted an OPS of .828 and an OBP of .387 vs RHP in MLB this season.

Round 6 – Francisco Cordero – Another Chow pick that will pay dividends in 2010. Cordero was the Reds closer all season and posted 39 saves, a 2.16 ERA and only gave up 2 HR in 66 innings of work. He should be a late inning reliever for Illinois and will likely set-up Nathan.

Round 7 – Chad Bradford - Bradford put up a 2.57 ERA for the Chows before being dealt for Kouzmanoff – a deal the Chows made due to usage concerns after trading away Huff and Tulowitzki. Kouzmanoff is unlikely to be kept by Illinois but has an outside chance of remaining a Chow or being dealt due to his great defense at 3B.

Round 8 – Martin Prado -- Prado is another sure keeper for the Chows in 2010. He became the Braves full-time 2B in MLB last season and will probably become the same for Illinois next year. He finished the year with an OPS of .822 for the Braves and figures to have a very strong card vs. LHP. He will also provide Morandini some flexibility being rated at 1B, 2B, 3B and possibly RF.

Round 9 – Marcus Thames – Thames will not be kept and did not have a good 2009.

Round 10 – Dennis Sarfate – Another pick that will not be kept next season.

Round 11 – Jesus Flores -- Flores started off on fire in MLB but then suffered a season ending injury. If he is somehow uncarded, he may be the Chows IR guy, but most likely he will not be kept due to his limited usage.

Round 12 – Mark Ellis – Ellis had a nice season for Illinois and took a lot of AB from Kelly Johnson by the end of the season. He is unlikely to be kept next year.

Round 13 – Trever Miller – Posted a 2.82 ERA for Illinois last season but will not be retained.

Round 14 – Micah Owings -- will not be retained next season.

Round 15 – Michael Bourn – Bourn was a successful late flier pick for the Chows. He will be retained and has a decent card against RHP. Bourn stole 61 bases in MLB last season while playing a good CF. His OBP of .362 against Righties will give him a chance to be on-base enough to use his speed.

Synopsis – Illinois will keep Volquez, Fukudome, Cordero, Prado and Bourn. Additionally, De Jesus, Huff and Carlson were turned into 2/3 of a 1st, a 2nd and a 5th. While this draft does not yield any superstars, it gave Illinois some nice players, improved their OF defense and gives the team a little more depth and flexibility.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Tale of Two Troys

On July 11, 2009 Chows GM/owner Brad Sherlag made what in hindsight is the worst trade in franchise history. However, if we go back in time to that date, a little perspective could be added. Below is the Troy Tulowitzki story as it relates to the Chows.

Why draft a SS with Hanley
– When Tulo was drafted by the Chows, they already had budding superstar Hanley Ramirez manning SS. Faced with a chance to make the play-offs and a 4 fielding rating, Sherlag went ahead and took Tulo who he considered the best player available. “Troy had a fine season for us and really was a key to us winning 87 games. Unfortunately 87 wins was last place in our division so the nice season we had was pretty much forgotten. His 2 at SS solidified our defense and he 31 HR and drove in 85.”

Offseason Trade Attempts – With Troy being hurt a good portion of his sophomore season and Hanley becoming a better defender, the Chows really did not need Tulo too much. Unfortunately his trade value was not very high and the offers coming in just weren’t enough to tempt Sherlag. “We couldn’t get a first rounder or any significant players for Tulo before the 2009 season began. We even offered to package Troy and our first pick to move up in the first round but found no takers. It wasn’t as if the league was clamoring to trade for him.”

Tulos rough start in MLB in 2010 – Troy had an OPS of .724 in April and .710 in May. He was off to a rough start and then caught fire in June. Was June’s hot streak a sign of things to come or just a good month? “On July 1st Troy had an OPS of about .800 when we started trade talks. We wanted to get a good young pitcher or a high draft pick in return. It wasn’t going to make sense to have Troy on the bench next season. We thought an .800 OPS was Troy’s true level at the plate and were afraid he would have a 2nd half with more months like April and May. We targeted a few teams and sent out feelers. Our primary target was Clayton Kershaw from LCC but he would not budge. We were offered a 2nd from one club and then a pretty low 1st from another. After it was apparent we could not get Kershaw we countered to LCC with an offer for his 1st. LCC jumped on the deal and we felt we did OK getting back roughly the same pick that we used to take Troy in the first place.”

Troy Explodes – Maybe it was leaving Hanley’s shadow, maybe it was the hope from leaving the perennial last place Chows or maybe it was just finally maturing as a ballplayer – but from July 11 until the end of the season Tulo was one of the very best players in the major leagues.

July 1.013 OPS 7 HR
August 1.005 OPS 5 HR
September 1.037 OPS 7HR
October 1.136 OPS 1 HR

Overall Troy finished with an OPS of .929 raising it over by over 120 points after becoming a Cannibal. Factor in his defense and he is probably a top 10 overall player next season.

Bad Deal – “Looking at our draft analysis it is almost impossible to get full value for Troy with that pick. The guy we draft will not be as meaningful this season and then must outpace Troy the rest of his career. If we were to deal Tulo today we would be getting back a frontline SP, 3B or a bevy of draft picks. Even if we had gotten Kershaw, the deal would look like a bad one now. But on July 11th, we made what we believed was a fair deal at the time. We just couldn’t see having Troy on our bench again and a bad second half would have made him unmovable again this offseason.”

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Vermont at Seattle - LCS Game 3

BOXSCORE: 2009 Vermont Fighting Sioux At 2009 Seattle Pilots 10/20/2009

Fighting Sioux AB R H RBI AVG Pilots AB R H RBI AVG
M.Joyce RF 5 2 2 3 .300 I.Suzuki CF 5 0 1 0 .222
C.Jones 3B 4 2 2 0 .385 O.Hudson 2B 2 0 0 0 .250
A.Pujols 1B 5 2 3 3 .500 E-R.Durham 2B 3 1 1 0 .200
C.Quentin DH 3 3 1 2 .200 J.Mauer C 2 0 1 0 .300
R.Ibanez LF 6 3 3 2 .500 F-G.Zaun C 2 1 1 0 .500
K.Shoppach C 2 2 0 1 .143 T.Glaus 3B 2 0 0 0 .360
M.Aviles SS 4 2 2 1 .500 G-M.Lowell 3B 3 1 1 3 .125
B-J.Wilson SS 2 0 0 0 .000 M.Teixeira 1B 3 1 1 1 .135
R.Cano 2B 3 2 2 2 .667 J.Dye RF 2 0 0 0 .139
C-A.Iwamura 2B 2 0 0 0 .333 H-G.Matthews Jr RF 2 0 0 0 .250
C.Crisp CF 1 1 0 0 .167 B.Giles DH 4 1 1 0 .333
A-A.Huff PH 2 1 2 5 .667 M.Tejada SS 1 0 0 0 .176
D-A.Jones CF 2 0 0 0 .333 I-A.Miles SS 3 0 3 0 .417
R.Winn LF 4 0 1 1 .391
-- -- -- --- -- -- -- ---
Totals 41 20 17 19 Totals 38 5 11 5

A-Pinch Hit For Crisp In 4th Inning
B-Subbed Defensively (SS) For Aviles In 4th Inning
C-Subbed Defensively (2B) For Cano In 4th Inning
D-Subbed Defensively (CF) For Huff In 4th Inning
E-Subbed Defensively (2B) For Hudson In 5th Inning
F-Subbed Defensively (C ) For Mauer In 5th Inning
G-Subbed Defensively (3B) For Glaus In 5th Inning
H-Subbed Defensively (RF) For Dye In 5th Inning
I-Subbed Defensively (SS) For Tejada In 5th Inning

Fighting Sioux.. 5 0 3 12 0 0 0 0 0 - 20 17 1
Pilots.......... 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 4 0 - 5 11 0

Fighting Sioux (3-0) IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA SCORESHEET
J.Litsch WIN(1-0) 7 7 3 3 2 4 0 3.86 A1 D3
J.Suppan 0 2/3 4 2 2 0 1 2 27.00 D4 D9
C.Wade 1 1/3 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 E1
Totals 9 11 5 5 2 6 2

W.Rodriguez LOSS(0-1) 0 2/3 3 5 5 3 0 1 9.45 A1 A8
T.Wakefield 1 2/3 2 3 3 2 0 0 18.00 A9 B9
L.Hawkins 1 4 4 4 2 0 1 13.50 C1 C8
L.Nunez 0 2 3 3 1 0 1 10.12 C9 D2
T.Wellemeyer 0 2/3 5 5 5 1 0 0 67.50 D3 E1
J.Marquis 3 1 0 0 1 2 0 0.00 E2 F3
S.Torres 2 0 0 0 1 2 0 0.00 F4
Totals 9 17 20 20 11 4 3

ATTENDANCE- 7,865 DATE- Tuesday, October 20th 2009 TIME- Day
T- 4:04
LEFT ON BASE- Fighting Sioux: 7 Pilots: 8
DOUBLE PLAYS- Fighting Sioux: 1 Pilots: 2
DOUBLES- M.Joyce(1st), C.Jones(1st), A.Pujols(1st), R.Ibanez-3(4th),
M.Aviles(1st), R.Cano(1st), A.Miles-2(2nd)
HOME RUNS- A.Pujols(1st), C.Quentin(2nd), A.Huff(2nd), M.Lowell(1st),
WALKS- M.Joyce, C.Jones-2, A.Pujols, C.Quentin-3, K.Shoppach-2, R.Cano, C.Crisp,
G.Zaun, M.Teixeira
HIT BY PITCH- K.Shoppach
STRIKE OUTS- C.Quentin-2, A.Iwamura, A.Jones, R.Durham-2, J.Dye, B.Giles-2,
GIDP- R.Ibanez
WILD PITCHES- T.Wellemeyer-2

What a day for the Vermont Fighting Sioux! They shellacked the Seattle Pilots
pitching for 20 runs while Jesse Litsch(1-0)with help from the bullpen
allowed Seattle 5 runs.

Aubrey Huff had a big day with his bat. He emptied the bases with a Grand
Slam homerun (his 2nd of the season) in the 4th inning and singled scoring a
run in the 4th inning. Vermont kept the scorekeepers busy in the 1st inning
when they had 5 runs on 3 hits and the 4th inning which saw them plate 12
runs on 9 hits. Vermont ended up with 17 hits for the game while Seattle had

Wandy Rodriguez(0-1) was charged with the loss. His ERA ballooned from 3.00
to 9.45 as he allowed 5 runs in 2/3 of an inning.

Seattle at Vermont - LCS Game 2

BOXSCORE: 2009 Seattle Pilots At 2009 Vermont Fighting Sioux 10/18/2009

Pilots AB R H RBI AVG Fighting Sioux AB R H RBI AVG
I.Suzuki CF 4 0 0 0 .225 J.Gerut CF,LF 5 0 2 0 .400
O.Hudson 2B 3 0 1 1 .267 C.Jones 3B 4 1 0 0 .333
C-A.Miles 2B 0 0 0 0 .222 A.Pujols 1B 4 2 1 0 .429
J.Mauer C 4 0 1 0 .289 A.Huff DH 3 2 2 2 .500
D-G.Zaun C 0 0 0 0 ---- C.Quentin LF 4 1 1 1 .143
T.Glaus 3B 3 0 0 0 .391 B-C.Crisp RF 1 0 0 0 .200
E-M.Lowell 3B 0 0 0 0 .077 M.Joyce RF 3 0 0 0 .200
M.Teixeira 1B 3 1 1 0 .118 A-A.Jones PH,CF 1 1 1 11.000
J.Dye RF 3 0 0 0 .147 K.Shoppach C 2 1 1 2 .200
F-G.Matthews Jr RF 1 0 0 1 .500 A.Iwamura 2B 3 0 2 1 .429
B.Giles LF 3 1 1 0 .344 J.Wilson SS 3 0 0 1 .000
G-R.Winn LF 1 0 0 0 .421
R.Durham DH 3 0 0 0 .167
M.Tejada SS 3 0 0 0 .182
-- -- -- --- -- -- -- ---
Totals 31 2 4 2 Totals 33 8 10 8

A-Pinch Hit For Joyce In 7th Inning
B-Subbed Defensively (RF) For Quentin In 8th Inning
C-Subbed Defensively (2B) For Hudson In 8th Inning
D-Subbed Defensively (C ) For Mauer In 8th Inning
E-Subbed Defensively (3B) For Glaus In 8th Inning
F-Subbed Defensively (RF) For Dye In 8th Inning
G-Subbed Defensively (LF) For Giles In 8th Inning

Pilots.......... 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 - 2 4 0
Fighting Sioux.. 0 0 0 0 0 4 4 0 - 8 10 1

S.Marcum LOSS(1-1) 5 1/3 8 4 4 1 6 3 3.12 A1 C7
L.Hawkins 0 2/3 1 2 2 2 0 0 6.00 C8 D3
G.Balfour 0 1/3 1 2 2 2 1 0 2.84 D4 D7
L.Nunez 0 2/3 0 0 0 1 0 0 0.00 D8 E1
S.Torres 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 0.00 E2
Totals 8 10 8 8 7 8 3

Fighting Sioux (2-0) IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA SCORESHEET
B.Sheets WIN(1-0) 9 4 2 0 3 3 0 0.00 A1
Totals 9 4 2 0 3 3 0

ATTENDANCE- 21,762 DATE- Sunday, October 18th 2009 TIME- Night
T- 2:55
LEFT ON BASE- Pilots: 6 Fighting Sioux: 9
DOUBLE PLAYS- Pilots: 0 Fighting Sioux: 1
ERRORS- B.Sheets
DOUBLES- M.Teixeira(3rd), B.Giles(3rd), A.Iwamura(1st)
HOME RUNS- A.Huff(1st), C.Quentin(1st), K.Shoppach(1st)
WALKS- O.Hudson, T.Glaus, M.Teixeira, C.Jones, A.Pujols, A.Huff-2, K.Shoppach-2,
STRIKE OUTS- T.Glaus, M.Teixeira, J.Dye, A.Pujols-2, C.Quentin-2, C.Crisp,
M.Joyce, K.Shoppach, A.Iwamura
GIDP- M.Tejada
WILD PITCHES- L.Hawkins, G.Balfour
PASSED BALLS- K.Shoppach-2

Aubrey Huff left the yard and had 2 RBI and Ben Sheets went the distance as
the Vermont Fighting Sioux defeated the Seattle Pilots by a score of 8 to 2
at Fighting Sioux Field.

Sheets(1-0) had a strong outing. He didn't allow much, just 4 hits and 3
walks in 9 innings. Vermont rapped out 10 hits for the night.

Shaun Marcum(1-1) was the loser. He served up 3 gopher balls in 5 and 1/3

Seattle at Vermont - LCS Game 1

BOXSCORE: 2009 Seattle Pilots At 2009 Vermont Fighting Sioux 10/17/2009

Pilots AB R H RBI AVG Fighting Sioux AB R H RBI AVG
I.Suzuki CF 5 0 0 0 .250 M.Joyce RF 2 0 1 1 .500
O.Hudson 2B 5 1 2 0 .259 C.Jones 3B 5 1 3 1 .600
J.Mauer C 4 0 2 1 .294 A.Pujols 1B 3 1 2 0 .667
T.Glaus 3B 4 0 0 0 .450 C.Quentin DH 3 0 0 0 .000
M.Teixeira 1B 4 0 1 0 .097 A-A.Huff PH 1 0 0 0 .000
J.Dye RF 4 0 1 0 .161 R.Ibanez LF 4 0 2 2 .500
B.Giles DH 4 1 2 0 .345 B-A.Jones CF 0 0 0 0 ----
M.Tejada SS 4 0 1 1 .200 K.Shoppach C 3 0 0 0 .000
R.Winn LF 3 0 0 0 .444 M.Aviles SS 4 1 2 0 .500
D-R.Durham PH 1 0 1 0 .222 C-J.Wilson SS 0 0 0 0 ----
E-G.Matthews Jr PR 0 0 0 01.000 A.Iwamura 2B 4 0 1 0 .250
C.Crisp CF,LF 4 1 1 0 .250
-- -- -- --- -- -- -- ---
Totals 38 2 10 2 Totals 33 4 12 4

A-Pinch Hit For Quentin In 6th Inning
B-Subbed Defensively (CF) For Ibanez In 8th Inning
C-Subbed Defensively (SS) For Aviles In 8th Inning
D-Pinch Hit For Winn In 9th Inning
E-Pinch Ran For Durham In 9th Inning

Pilots.......... 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 2 10 0
Fighting Sioux.. 2 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 - 4 12 1

C.Lee LOSS(1-2) 5 1/3 10 4 4 4 7 0 4.82 A1 D3
G.Geary 1 2/3 0 0 0 0 1 0 4.91 D4 D7
L.Nunez 0 2/3 2 0 0 1 0 0 0.00 D8 E2
E.Ramirez 0 1/3 0 0 0 0 0 0 3.86 E3
[1]Totals 8 12 4 4 5 8 0

Fighting Sioux (1-0) IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA SCORESHEET
E.Santana WIN(1-0) 9 10 2 2 1 10 0 2.00 A1
[1]Totals 9 10 2 2 1 10 0

ATTENDANCE- 18,408 DATE- Saturday, October 17th 2009 TIME- Day
T- 2:59
LEFT ON BASE- Pilots:10 Fighting Sioux:11
DOUBLE PLAYS- Pilots: 3 Fighting Sioux: 0
ERRORS- M.Aviles
DOUBLES- J.Mauer(2nd), M.Teixeira(2nd), B.Giles(2nd), M.Tejada(1st),
TRIPLES- O.Hudson(1st)
WALKS- J.Mauer, M.Joyce-3, A.Pujols-2
HIT BY PITCH- K.Shoppach
STRIKE OUTS- I.Suzuki-2, O.Hudson, T.Glaus-2, M.Teixeira, J.Dye, B.Giles-2,
M.Tejada, C.Jones, C.Quentin, K.Shoppach-2, M.Aviles, A.Iwamura,
GIDP- C.Jones, A.Huff, C.Crisp

Ervin Santana struck out 10 batters as the Vermont Fighting Sioux outscored
the Seattle Pilots 4 to 2.

Santana(1-0) had a strong outing. He allowed only 10 hits and 1 walk in 9
innings. Vermont had a total of 12 hits for the game.

Cliff Lee(1-2) was the loser. He got hit hard, allowing 10 hits and 4 walks
in 5 and 1/3 innings. When asked about his strikeout total for the game,
Santana offered, 'The fan's really got into it. It is fun to see them tally
up the strikeout totals up there in the stands. Fortunately, I kept them
busy this afternoon - of course, it would be all for naught without the 'W'.'

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pilots to Face Sioux in LFCS

Game 1: MSU's Derek Lowe (17-5, 1.81) vs SPL's Cliff Lee (13-12, 4.01). The owner of one of the best ERA's in league history is spotted to a 4-run lead in the bottom of the 1st, when a flurry of Surf hits plate David Wright, Carlos Delgado, Mike Cameron, and Ryan Doumit. The lead, more than twice what Lowe allowed per 9 innings this year, looked safe until the top of the 4th, when a solo shot by Joe Mauer and a 3-run job by Miguel Tejada tied the game. From that point, both starters once again found their strides, trading zeroes until the top of the 7th. The difference in the game was a bases-empty big fly in the bottom of the 8th, giving MSU a 1-run lead. The team with the largest number of 1-run games and 1-run wins in NASBL 2009 (37-17) then took care of business, with Brian Fuentes closing out the 7-6 win. MSU led the series 1-0.

Game 2: MSU's Josh Beckett (10-10, 4.05) vs SPL's Shaun Marcum (9-8, 3.50). In a game where Seattle actually had a pitching edge on paper against the 2nd best pitching team in the league, young starter Shaun Marcum did not disappoint. The 2nd-year starter went 6 strong, striking out 2 and allowing just 1 run on 4 hits. Meanwhile the Pilots offense was going to work on Josh Beckett, scoring one run in the 4th, then strafing him for 2 in both the 5th and 6th innings. Brian Giles and Randy Winn went yard in the 5-1 Pilots win. Series tied at 1-1.

Game 3: SPL's Wandy Rodriguez (6-4, 4.59) hosting MSU's Cole Hamels (13-11, 4.01). Both starters give their teams all that can be expected. Wandy's magic ends in the 6th when he gives up a 2nd run and leaves the game tied 2-2, while Cole is king through 9, when he too leaves the game tied at 3. The game moves to extra innings, a forum where MSU's regular season record was an unparalleled 15-3 (.833). Game 1 closer Brian Fuentes, author of 5 late-inning wins in the regular season, puts up 2 scoreless innings. But despite threatening, MSU's offense is unable to break through against SPL's Latroy Hawkins and Leo Nunez. Finally in the bottom of the 12th, Seattle's aptly named Randy Winn goes yard for the 4-3 win and the 2-1 series lead.

Game 4: D-Lowe vs Cliff Lee II looks like anything but a pitching duel early, as the Surf leads 3-2 after the 1st. But Lowe is practically perfect the rest of the way out. Mike Cameron of the Surf hits his 3rd homerun of the postseason, and David Wright, Ryan Braun, and Carlos Lee add circuit clouts of their own in the 7-2 Surf win. Series tied at 2-2.

Game 5: Daisuke Matsuzaka (11-9, 3.69) of the Surf vs Felix Hernandez (8-12, 5.45). The much-heralded 3rd year man King Felix has never been able to get much traction in the regular season (20-40 career record), but on this October day against an equally highly touted 2nd year man, the King earns his appellation. Hernandez goes 7-1/3, allowing 4 runs (3 earned), while the Pilots put 9 baserunners aboard against Daisuke, plating 5 of them. The Pilots continue to pile it on against the pen, ultimately pushing the score to 8-4, and taking a 3-2 series lead.

Game 6: The series goes back to Miami, with SPL's Shaun Marcum facing MSU's Cole Hamels. Both starters pitch magnificently, turning a 1-1 game over to their respective pens. At the end of 9, the score is still tied at 1 apiece. And also at the end of 10. Finally, in the bottom of the 11th with a man on, veteran post-season hero Carlos Delgado lashes the bat, reversing an Edwar Ramirez pitch for a 2-run walkoff to tie the series up for the 3rd time and forcing a game 7.

Game 7: Cliff Lee vs D-Lowe III. The first two times the teams' aces met, Lee came out on the short end of the hickory stick. In game 7 though, Lee was flawless. The Pilot's ace never allowed the Surf offense to get off the ground, as he scattered 6 hits and a walk while striking out 9 in the deciding game. RBI by Ichiro, Joe Mauer, and Troy Glaus seal the deal for Seattle, who will advance to face Justin Rabidoux's Vermont Fighting Sioux in the Less Filling Championship Series.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Chows On the Block

GM Brad Sherlag is actively shopping a couple of Chows and willing to listen to offers on a few others. The Chows have some roster room this offseason and could potentially deal draft picks for players.

On the Block

Joe Blanton - Blanton is a workhorse who logged 195 innings again this season in MLB. His strikeout rate represents he may have turned a corner. Should be a solid middle of the rotation guy.

John Maine - A nice 1.29 WHIP and a reverse split for his 15 starts make Maine useful next year while you wait for him to recover. He is a definite keeper for the Chows, but paired with Volquez, Maine will force the Chows to carry a lot of starters next year.

Francisco Cordero - Figures to be a set-up man for the Chows, but can easily close for someone. Has a nice ERA and only gave up 2 HR all season. Another guy that is a sure keeper.

Kosuke Fukudome - Fukudome will start for the Chows in RF and play a little CF as well. However, if you need a CF would be willing to deal for a corner outfielder with a better card and similar age.

Chows needs include 2B, OF, and DH. Would also like to upgrade at SP.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Iron Pig Hot Stove

Several current players may be available for trade if there is interest. Tradeable players include:

DH, Travis Hafner: The big fella hit .292/.375/.490 vs. RHP last year in 338 ab
LF, Chase Headley: This patient 25 yo switch hitter, posted a .262/.342/.392 in 543 ab
1B, "Hammerin" Hank Blalock, good nickname, not much performance
1B, Todd Helton: This experienced veteran produced some fantastic numbers .332/.437/.548 vs RHP
2B, Louis Castillo: This slick fielding, switch hitting 2b posted a .319/.411/.345 line vs RHP with 20 sb
LF, Lastings Milledge: This young right hander batted a nifty .327/.383/.436 vs LHP in 244 ab
All pitchers not named Papelbon.

Inquire within!

Iron Pig Year in Review

About the only thing that went right this season was obtaining the #2 pick in the upcoming draft. The team showed some signs of life and we have some optimism for 2010, but we still have grave concerns regarding the pitching staff for next season.

The team ERA was miserable especially considering half of the games were played at a ballpark with zero ballpark homerun chances. Midseason acquisition, Jonathan Papelbon was the lone bright spot on the pitching staff, posting a 1-1 record with 11 saves (we won a total of 51 games), an era of 1.99 and 41 strikeouts in 32 innings. On the flip side, Jon Garland struggled mightily with a 5-17 record, an era of 7.04 and 90 strikeouts in 188 innings. Rookies Johnny Cueto and Kevin Slowey flashed glimpses of what the IronPig fans hope to see for many years to come while grizzled veterans Gil Meche and Aaron Harrang both had sub par seasons.

When manager Burns was asked about the 2009 pitching staff, he had only this comment, "We were awful. We had a total of 36 innings of pitching that met my expectations. Paps and Capps were all that was decent. There will be changes for 2010."

All star Jose Reyes posted terriffic all around numbers. His .310, 99 runs, 80 extra base hits (including 23 triples), 71 rbi and 64 stolen bases all were team highs. It is reported that he "tweaked" his hamstring while playing tag with his kids after the season. The injury is not reported as being serious and he is expected to be ready for spring training next season. We will keep you posted pending further developments.

Several batters feature prominently for the 2010 season including rookies Evan Longoria, Chase Headley, Justin Upton and Adam Lind. This core of rookie talent is expected to perform much better in 2010 because of the experience garnered in 2009.

During an interview with rookie RF Justin Upton, a reporter asked him what he had learned in 2009. "**** yeah man, I ****'* hated ****** losing man. I don't know about no ****** experience, but I tell you this, ****** lefties better ****** watch out for me next ****** season."

Manager Burns noted after the interview that famous public speaker and rookie mentor, Crash Davis will be hired to assist all team rookies with their interview skills and that reporters really do not have much to fear from his team.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

LCC Tradewire

Lake Champlain would like to trade 2 for 1, or pick up a draft pick for the following:

Jim Thome: as always, old fella walks and hits homers (.265/.383/.498 vsR)

Jose Valverde: 54ip closer is completely lethal vsR (.144/.231/.269). 2.33 ERA, 1.13 WHIP

Jason "The Razor" Frasor: 57.1ip, solid vsL (.712 OPS), and stupid good vsR (.140/.209/.180). 2.50 ERA, 1.02 WHIP

Takashi Saito: best LOOGY in a right-hand package (.195/.273/.257). 55.2 IP, 2.43 ERA

Jarrod Saltalamacchia: "Armpits" has the longest name in baseball history, and an equally long career ahead of him.

Rickie Weeks: had it going on before the injury that turned...

Craig Counsell: into a starting infielder. Nice defense, nice OBA, very flexible.

David Ortiz: hit 1 HR in the first 2 months, and still ended up with 28. Plenty of spit left in the tank.

Paul Konerko: 28 bombs, and the kind of guy a lefty-loving pitching team probably shouldn't let get loose in the league (1.009 OPS vsL)

Chris B. Young: awful overall season is mitigated by a .920 OPS vsL. Again, very handy for slaying SPR and (alas) LCC starting pitchers.

Hideki Matsui: yet another 28hr guy, the 3rd one we have on the block. Balanced DH card with good OBA and power.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

GCG - Post Season Decisions

Trade a 1B? or two??
Next Season does not look as hopeful as this season dd - so where will draft leave me? What will my draft philosphy be? Best Available? Prospect for the future? Stupid pick? Can't wait.

See someone you like - make an offer

1B/3B/OF – Kevin Youkilis BAvg-.305 / 27 HRs
1B – Miguel Cabrera BAvg-.324 / 34 Jacks
1B – Ryan Howard BAvg-.279 / 45 Bombs
1B – Justin Morneau BAvg-.274 / 30 Dingers
OF – Matt Holliday BAvg-.313 / 24 Long Goners
OF – BJ Upton BAvg-.241 / 11 Four Baggers
SS – Stephen Drew BAvg-.261 / 12 Roundtrippers
2B – Dan Uggla BAvg-.243 / 31 Fence Toppers
3B – Alex Gordon BAvg-.232 / 6 Left the Yard
RHSP – Zack Greinke ERA 2.16 / WHIP (it Good) 1.07
RHSP – Matt Garza ERA 3.95 / WHIP 1.26
RHSP – Hiroki Kuroda ERA 3.76 / WHIP 1.14
RHRP – Brian Wilson Saves – 38 / ERA 2.74 / WHIP 1.20
LHRP – George Sherrill Saves – 21 / ERA 1.70 / WHIP 1.12
IL - LHSP - Greg Smith - pitched about 50 minor league innings after injury

On Bubble:
2B/3B/SS – Alberto Callaspo BAvg-.300 / 11 HRs
2B/3B/OF – Jamey Carroll BAvg-.276 / 2 HRs
SS/3B/2B – Jed Lowrie BAvg-.147 / 2 HRs
CA – Ivan Rodriguez BAvg-.249 / 10 HRs
OF – Vernon Wells BAvg-.260 / 15 HRs
RHRP – Jon Rauch – Saves 2 / ERA – 3.60 / WHIP 1.33
RHRP – Brad Ziegler – Saves 7 / ERA 3.07 / WHIP 1.50
RHSP - Braden Looper - ERA 5.22 / WHIP 1.49

Probable Cuts:
CA – Gerald Laird BAvg-.225 / 4 HRs
OF – Fred Lewis* BAvg-.258 / 4 HRs
RHRP – Chad Durbin Saves – 2 / ERA 4.39 / WHIP 1.48
RHRP – Joe Nelson Saves – 3 / ERA 4.02 / WHIP 1.46
LHSP – Odalis Perez – did not pitch in 2009
RHSP – Mark Prior – has not pitched for several years
RHRP – Steve Shell – ERA 5.40 / WHIP 1.40
LHRP – Brian Shouse – ERA 4.50 / WHIP 1.36

Saturday, October 10, 2009

GCG’s Mediocrity Replaces Usual Ineptness

Grundy County joined the NASBL in 2001. For years GCG has been the cellar dwellers or perhaps bomb shelter dwellers as we got blasted day-in and day-out. Fortunes may have turned around for the Bears after winning our most games (75) of our nine year history and taking 2nd place in the weakest division in the NASBL for the second year in a row. The Grizzlies were a preseason favorite and possible pick for their first ever playoff. The Fighting Sioux were even so worried that the Bears could be a challenger that they paid a huge price to acquire Carlos Quentin as the 2009 rookie draft was about to begin.

Well, the Griz were viewed by their fans as failures again – but this time it was not because they were bad with no hope. We left spring training as a challenger. We ended the season as a pretender.

This Year’s Plusses/Highlights
1st ever 100+ RBI Season – Ryan Howard – 103
1st ever 30+ Homeruns Season (previous high 27) – Ryan Howard – 37 (in a park rated 0)
2nd on Season High Runs scored – BJ Upton 100 (Pierre 1st w/ 101 Runs)
Tied for 2nd Season Batting Average – Matt Holliday .311 (tied with Pierre/Pierre also No.1 w/ .350)
1st in Season Doubles – Justin Morneau - 41
Ryan Howard set anew Griz most extra base hits season record with 61
BJ Upton (81) edged Matt Holliday (76) as the new season high on free passes
Odalis Perez (a trash pick this year) Best ever Season ERA 3.05 and Winning Percentage .733 (11-4)

This year’s failures:
Longest winning streak 6 games (once/4 @ home & 2 on road), then four games twice, three games twice. Can’t win a pennant if you can’t string some Ws. Major league comparable – 2009 Griz pretty similar to 2008 Tigers.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Knights Ship Out Kendall, Reacquire Guzman in First Deal of 2010

(New York Daily Mirror - October 7, 2009)

NEW YORK - The Knights certainly aren't waiting for the demolition to begin on old Empire Field before starting to prepare for the 2010 season. The club didn't even wait for catcher Jason Kendall to completely clean out his locker after the Knights' recently completed 2009 campaign in which Kendall caught every inning of every game, thanks to the ineptitude of the front office.

While the scaffolding is going up around Empire Field and last minute preparations are being made for the grand opening of spanking-new Knights Field next door, the Knights have already made their first move of the '10 season, trading the stalwart backstop Kendall, an NASBL All-Star in 2009, and the team's fourth round pick in 2010 to Springfield for shortstop Cristian Guzman.

The trade immediately fills a gaping hole in the Knights infield, but the team doesn't appear to be all that concerned about the creation of another one. With captain Michael Young moving to third next season and Clint Barmes manning second, the Knights needed a shortstop. The 'Topes needed a catcher and a higher-level draft pick for 2010, so a match was born.

Guzman, 31, is not a stranger to New York, having played for the Knights in their inaugural season in 2001. He batted a meager .224 then but did smack 13 triples, a team record that still stands. The Knights cut him after the 2001 season, but he was picked up by the Roadkill and had several solid seasons in Georgia. In limited playing time for the 'Topes in '09, Guzman hit .281 with 8 homers, 38 RBI and a .727 OPS.

Kendall, 35, just completed his 11th season in the NASBL, but surely none was more taxing on his abilities. Long-known for his durability, Kendall was forced to catch all of the Knights' 162 games in 2009 due to a front-office error that caused the club to carry only one catcher this season - him. The team's efforts to land a second catcher via a mid-season trade were not successful. A career .304 batter in the NASBL, Kendall has hit over .300 in all but two seasons and has over 1,500 career hits. But the grind of catching 162 games wore him down, causing his offensive production to drop off prohibitively. His .233 average is a career low and he managed just a .599 OPS in 2009.

Apparently, the Knights did not have Kendall in their future plans, even as a backstop. This raised the hackles of some Knights, who felt that the club owed him a debt of gratitude and shouldn't have given him the bum's rush. "It ain't right," said CF Matt Kemp earlier this afternoon when told of the trade. "The man busted his horns for the team and they just throw him out? Sheeeit." Captain Michael Young was more diplomatic about it: "Jason's a great guy and a great teammate, but I know that the club is looking to get younger at catcher. Over the past few years, we've had some older catcher like Javy (Lopez), Varitek and now Jason. The club's looking for someone to anchor that spot for years to come."

Some in the media were surprised when the Knights passed on Geovany Soto with the overall first pick in the draft, but Mitch Pak's instincts in this case were right; while Soto had an OK rookie season with Troy, the team's first pick, Jon Lester, was a 12-game winner with a 3.81 ERA and will probably garner some Rookie of the Year votes.

Chows Season a Mixed Bag

News and Notes from Around the Chows

The Doctor is In – Roy Halladay was a horse for the Chows setting franchise marks in pretty much every category. Below are the franchise single season records set by Halladay with the old record in parenthesis. Doc has an outside chance of becoming the first Chow to win the Cy Young Award.

Wins – 19 (15)
CG – 22 (13)
Sho – 4 (2)
ERA 3.28 (4.24)
IP 268.2 (246.1)
K 221 (183 – also broken by Volquez)

Is That how You Spell Shawn?Morandini was convinced all season that Chone Figgins would turn things around and start getting on base. Figgins continued to lead-off against RHP all season despite batting just .234. Chone’s On-Base percentage was only .312 and his OPS was a barely believable .576. “We kept waiting for Chone to approach his MLB numbers but he never came close.” In the majors in 2008, Chone had an OBP of .378.

Driving Them In – The Chows failed to have anyone on the club drive in 100 runs. Beltran came close with 93. The worst part is that departed chow Huff still managed to come in 4th on the club with 64 despite only playing in 82 games. Ramirez and Pena were barely able to best Huff – driving in 69 and 76.

Too Bad you Can’t Steal 1st Base – Rushed into the starting line-up late in the year after the departure of DeJesus, Bourn was clearly not ready for prime time. He batted only .204 with an OBP of .248 but still managed to lead the Chows with 23 steals.

Power Arm – Rookie hurler Edinson Volquez struck out 219 hitters in 213 innings and won 13 games for the Chows. He was either very good or very bad finishing the year with a 5.43 ERA but hurling 5 complete games and posting a winning record.

Kelly, Kelly, Kelly, Kelly, K-E-L-L-Y – Why did GM Brad Sherlag think Kelly was a 1st Round talent? Johnson essentially lost his job to Mark Ellis by the end of the year. Kelly was supposed to be the heavy hitter of the Chows 2B combo but posted an OPS of only .696 for the season. Rumor has Prado moving over from 3B and Johnson being cut. Can you say bust?