Sunday, January 31, 2010

So who's #1?

Its in everyone's head this time of year. Inquiring minds want to know who wil be the first pick on the 2010 NASBL entry draft. The Georgia Road Kill have that pick and their scouts have been playing it close to the vest. While nothing is set in stone, several players would seem to be a good fit for the Road Kill. The Road Kill did not have a first round pick last year as they traded that pick to the New Jersey Trash Heap in 2008 for a so far disappointing John Lackey. (NJT picked Joey Votto with that selection.) The last time GRK picked in the first was to take Yovanni Gallardo who has been injury riddled. Without much further ado, here is who Georgia should be looking at with their first pick.

Scouts Favorite: Catcher Matt Wieters is a big guy. At 6'5" he has drawn comparisons to Joe Mauer. He played his first major league game on Friday May 29, 2009, against the Detroit Tigers. Wieters' first major league hit came the next night, a triple, off of Detroit's Justin Verlander. Wieters hit his first career home run June 17, 2009 against the Mets, it was a two-run home run off of Mets starter Tim Redding. The 23 year old went on to hit .288 with a .340 on base percentage and 9 homers in 382 plate appearances. In the minors Wieters posted a lofty .341 career batting average. As young as Matt is, we can only expect his power to expand. Based on the current Road Kill catching situation, he appears to be the popular choice.

Owner's Favorite: Perhaps the worst kept secret in the bigs is Johnny Millers love for the Braves. It should come as no surprise that pitcher Tommy Hanson would be on his radar. Hanson was called up by the Atlanta Braves on June 3, 2009 after the team cut Tom Glavine. He had a rocky debut on June 7, 2009 against the Milwaukee Brewers pitching 6 innings, striking out 5, giving up 6 earned runs, 3 home runs and receiving a no decision. On June 12, 2009, Hanson earned his first win against the Baltimore Orioles. and on June 28, 2009, he threw six scoreless innings against the Boston Red Sox allowing just 2 hits and 2 walks to improve his career major league record to 4-0 and lowered his ERA to 2.48. In his 4 major league victories, his combined ERA to this point was 0.78. He threw 22 consecutive shutout innings and also became the first National League rookie pitcher to win consecutive starts against the Yankees and the Red Sox. For his efforts, Hanson was named the June's NL Rookie of the Month. In his final 10 starts, Hanson pitched 60.2 inning's, allowing just 17 earned runs in that span. Hanson's name had been mentioned heavily in the NL Rookie of the Year award talk's for most of the second half of the season, eventually finishing third in voting for the award. With the recent acquisition of Carlos Zambrano, passing on Wieters to take Hanson is a luxury the Road Kill may not be able to afford.

Fan Favorite: Its rare that a player can continue to hit despite being moved around the infield. Gordon Beckham is that rare player. A versatile infielder, he can play second, short or third adequately and it was this usefulness that led to his purchase by the White Sox on June 3, 2009. Beckham tore up the minors hitting .326 with 23 doubles, four home runs and 25 RBI in 175 at-bats between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte. He got his first MLB hit, a single to center field, in his 14th at-bat on June 9, 2009 at U.S. Cellular Field, after which he received a standing ovation from the home crowd. On June 20, 2009, Beckham hit his first major league home run, a three-run shot in the fourth inning, off Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto. Beckham's milestone home run came while the Reds were ahead 5-0, and sparked a comeback victory for the Sox. On October 26, 2009 Beckham was voted the American League Rookie of the Year by the MLBPA, which is voted on in September by every player on a major league roster. The fact that he can play various positions makes him particularly valuable in strat-o-matic.

Darkhorse: Although Florida left fielder Chris Coghlan didn't get called up until May 8, he impressed enough to win the Rookie of the Year award from the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Coghlan, 24, batted .321 -- best by a rookie since Albert Pujols in 2001. And Coghlan had 113 hits after the All-Star break, easily the most in the majors and most by anyone since 2004. He led the majors in hits in September with 47, most by a rookie in September since 1928. He also had the most August hits by a rookie (47) since 1954. And no NL player had 94 hits over a two-month span since Dave Parker in 1978. Coghlan led NL rookies in runs (84), total bases (232), doubles (31) and on-base percentage (.390). While all these numbers would have him worthy of a number one pick, the Road Kill outfield seems crowded already with the likes of Nick Markakis, Nate McLouth and Alex Rios.

Surprise pick: There is no better place to have a 1 then shortstop. Elvis Andrus is the player that franchises are built around. Elvis hit .267 with only 6 homers but at age 21, alot of future upside is expected offensively. His plate discipline is really strong, almost downright amazing for someone of his age and experience, and there is also a speed component to his game. From the defensive side of the field, Elvis is a vacuum cleaner at short. With Rangers shortstop Michael Young agreeing to move to third base in 2009, Andrus earned the starting job on opening day. Andrus stole his 20th base on July 28, 2009 in his rookie season. Andrus is the 10th player in major league history to steal 20 bases under the age of 21. The last player to do that was teammate Andruw Jones back in 1997 with the Atlanta Braves. The Road Kill don't appear to need a shortstop with Alexei Ramirez on the job but GRK has pulled surprises in the past and this could be another of them.

At this point the Road Kill Management has to be torn from their love of pitching and the need for a long term solution behind the plate. From a long term standpoint, Wieters makes the most sense as catchers like him don't come along everyday. The fact that GRK recently acquired Carlos Zambrano makes the need to pick a starter somewhat less likely, though most managers in NASBL will tell you that you never can have too much pitching. Who will GRK ultimately pick? Time will tell.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A quiet offseason for the Haymakers?

Troy, NY: As the NASBL teams work on finalizing their protection lists for the upcoming season and the flurry of trades are posted in preparation for the highly anticipated draft, the Haymakers front office has been very quiet, prompting some questions about a winter hiatus.
"No, our office has been open," says GM and Manager Ken Anderson, "We just have just been doing some planning for our upcoming season. Plus, our team this season has not really left us with much to move this off-season. Our plan is coming together though."
Some have been trying to find out what that plan actually is. Even with a successful first season as GM of the franchise, the team has never finished out of last place while losing over 103 and 90 games over the last two season. "We did have a 12 game improvement over the 2008 campaign," says the GM with a smirk, "And we are looking to be even better next year."
Is he even taking this job seriously? With really only one starter going into the draft, one wonders if he cares about winning. Anderson's record with starting pitching has not helped the team too much. The manager has a tendency to allow the pitchers to get beat-up while nursing the pen, and their history has shown that. Over the past three seasons the bull-pen has an ERA almost two runs lower than the starters, and it tends to create some ill-will from the starters. Scott Olsen, the only starting pitcher to play for the Haymakers for all three seasons, posted a 19-36 record with a 5.89 ERA. "I'm not going to say it's all his fault," says Olsen, speaking of Troy's manager Ken Anderson, "But he'll just leave you out there when you don't have it while the guys in the pen are playing cards or watching TV in the clubhouse. It's just not right."
"I can't think of one game where he actually 'had it'." responded the manager, "You can bet your ass he's going to be fact I just cut him now." That will leave Huston Street, as the only pitcher on the original Haymakers in 2007.
It's true the the team has had some bad luck, or bad scouting, with pitchers since their inception in 2007. The team had high hopes for the likes of Olsen, Clay Hensley, John Maine, Mike Pelfrey and Jesse Litsch. All have either been traded, had long term injuries or were just plain bad. The only pitcher to seem to finally come around has been Jered Weaver, and that still is yet to be seen.
"All I can say is that we have a plan for the team and we would like the support of our fans and reporters," said the GM. Well, you have to win to have the support. We shall see....

Friday, January 29, 2010

Fangraphs Takes Notice of Chows Players

Illinois Times -- Are the Chows finally doing something right? Forward thinking baseball website Fangraphs featured two articles today spotlighting the merits of Illinois players. In the first article they consider the merits of Chows backstop Kurt Suziki and why he doesn't get just due.

Later that same afternoon, the site spotlighted Josh Willingham and dared to ask the question -- is Wilingham the same guy as Jason Bay?

Chows GM Sherlag has maintained that Willingham and Suzuki are cornerstone type players, while the Illinois Times has scoffed at that notion. Either Sherlag is moonlighting at Fangraphs, or maybe he isn't far off on his assessments.

Santana Tabloid Scandal

In a surprise move, pitcher Johan Santana was traded to the Hawaiians. In a previous article, he was shown giving a thumbs up to the camera while dressed in street clothes. It was reported that the woman in the picture with him was his wife. Our crack investigative reporters have discovered that the woman seen with him was not his wife. A better photograph of the woman in question is shown at the right side of this article. We are offering a "substantial reward" for the correct identification of the mystery woman. If anyone has any knowledge as to the identity of the woman in question, please contact the Enquirer at 555-328-7448. We hope that the resulting firestorm/scandal will not damage his psyche too badly for the coming season.

Santana Happy to be a Hawaiian

In a surprise move, the Honolulu Hawaiians acquired Johan Santana from Pocono for Asdrubal Cabrera. The move was unexpected as Santana had been previously untouchable in past off seasons. GM Stan Pietruska was looking for a lefty who could throw three games at Springfield and said "there was no better candidate than Johan." While we loved the future for Asdrubal, it was a move that had to be made when it was apparent that Santana was available.

Santana and his wife (seen above packing their car) are said to be thrilled for a chance to head west to work and play on the islands. Last year the big lefty was 14-15 with a 4.78 ERA in 248 innings and an alarming 41 homer runs. Despite the large "big fly" numbers, Pietruska had to make the move. "It's always difficult to throw a lefthander out there in strat. If you are going to do it, you better make him a good one." Santana will compete with Jair Jurrjens for the #3 slot behind Justin Verlander and Roy Oswalt. The 5th starter position will be a spring training camp decision.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

DFW Press Conference

AP- Dallas Morning News...........

The DFW Spurs will have a Press Conference next Tuesday. They will inform fans of Spring Training dates along with the plans the organization plans to head in regards of if Red Robbins will remain as manager and to address other questions about the club. Officials have stated that they see no change at manager or other high ranking positions as of now, giving Robbins a 'Vote of Confidence'.

Q & A with Knights Captain Michael Young

(New York Daily Mirror - January 28, 2010)

NEW YORK – In the middle of the 2003 NASBL season, fledgling Knights GM Mitch Pak completed a trade with the Canyon Country Cannons, which was then under the leadership of the legendary (and now NASBL Hall of Famer) Brendan Conrad. In that deal, the Knights sent their closer, Jason Isringhausen, to the Cannons in exchange for a little-known 26 year old infielder named Michael Young. In a foreshadowing of trades to come, New York sports pundits ripped the deal, lambasting Pak for dealing away the reliable veteran Isringhausen, who had notched 23 saves for the 64-win Knights in 2002 and was having another solid year in 2003, for a relatively unknown rookie. And Young’s numbers with the Cannons were certainly anything but awe-inspiring: 50 games, 90 at bats, a .222 average and a .571 OPS. But Mitch Pak had Young scouted during the previous season and was told that Young had the tools to be a Derek Jeter-like player, someone who could cement the Knights infield for many years to come. Thinking that Young could do very well hitting ahead of then-team captain Jim Thome, Pak set out to acquire Young during the 2003 season and eventually made the deal that brought him to New York.

Fast forward to 2010. Isringhausen, now 37, missed the entire ’09 NASBL season recovering from Tommy John surgery after laboring for seven, mostly productive, seasons with the Cannons, the New Jersey Trash Heap and the Miami Surf. But his last season as a full-time closer was 2006, when he notched 21 saves for the Cannons, the last time he would reach double-figures in that category. Because of his age and the nature of his injury, Isringhausen’s career in the NASBL is likely over.

Things have worked out differently for Young, however. After the Knights terrible 12-28 start in 2004 that resulted in the trades of Thome, team ace Mike Mussina and slugging outfielder Preston Wilson, Young became the de facto leader of the ballclub. After a lackluster rookie half-season in 2003, during which he hit just .262 with a .671 OPS, Young had a breakout year for the Knights in ’04, batting .292 with 77 RBI and 91 runs scored for an offensively-challenged club. His 194 hits that season set a club record that stood until he broke it himself two years later. During the winter of 2005-2006, after having been moved to shortstop, Young was named team captain and he responded with one of the best seasons any NASBL infielder has ever had – a .349 average, 232 hits (fourth best in NASBL history), 29 homers, 121 RBI and an OPS of .978.

Today, Young is the senior member of the Knights, the face of the franchise and will begin his seventh full season with the club when hitters report to the team’s Port St. Lucie, Florida training camp late next month. He has been team captain for several years now and his quiet dignity and measured opinions are respected in both the clubhouse and in the front office. The team sells more #10 Knights jerseys than any other three players combined. He is at or near the top in most of the Knights’ career batting categories including games played (940),at bats (3,854), hits (1,124), runs scored (514), doubles (212), triples (24), extra base hits (315), runs batted in (462) – and strikeouts (657). His

career batting average stands at .290, despite two recent lackluster seasons. For a franchise and a fan base that is starving for consistency from its players, Young has been everything that the Knights hoped for since that 2003 trade.

The Mirror recently caught up with Young at his Abilene, Texas home where he resides with his wife and daughters when not laboring for the Knights.

DM: What was your initial reaction when you heard that you’d been traded to New York?

MY: I was a little scared at first. I’m basically a small-town guy from Texas and I’d heard that New York could eat you alive. I was pretty nervous that whole first year I was there. I also was very surprised that anyone would trade Jason Isringhausen for me.

DM: Did you feel a lot of pressure when you started out with the Knights?

MY: I did, I really did. The sportswriters and radio guys were unhappy with the Knights because they were coming off two losing seasons in ’01 and ’02 and didn’t like the idea of the closer being traded for some kid they’d never heard of. New York’s got a short fuse that way.

DM: Do you read the sports pages in New York? Or listen to sports talk radio?

MY: I only read the Mirror’s coverage (laughing). No, I try to stay away from all that stuff. I find that the majority of the people writing and talking sports have never played the games they report on. They don’t know what goes on behind the scenes, how hard we work.

DM: Some sportswriters in New York have compared you to Derek Jeter. How do you respond to that?

MY: The first time I heard that, I just went “wow”, you know? I know Derek personally and professionally. He is a gifted guy. I don’t know anyone who has his combination of focus and ability but he’s so modest and unassuming too. I’m flattered to be compared to him but I’m not him. There’s not much more to say about that. I’ll be the first to admit that.

DM: You’ve been in New York longer than anyone. Looking back over the past six-plus years, how would you assess the job Mitch Pak is doing as GM of this organization?

MY: He’s my boss, right? So I think he’s doing a great job (laughs). Seriously, Mitch and I have a great relationship. I’m very flattered by the faith he’s put in me all these years. I don’t think I really deserve it…

DM: But you won’t question him.

MY: Nah (laughs). No, Mitch has it tough. This is a tough league to build a winner in. We don’t have free agency so Mitch has to try to build a winner through the draft and through trades. We’ve never had a crack at getting the big guys, like Manny or A-Rod or Pujols and we probably never will. I know some of Mitch’s moves haven’t worked out but I can tell you this, he is always, always in there trying to improve this club.

DM: Do you think the NASBL should have free agency and a salary cap?

MY: I do, I really do. I think free agency would give the teams considered the “have nots” like us and Grundy County a real shot at contending. But I know that’s been raised before and the owners of the teams never go for it.

DM: What do you see as the Knights’ biggest problem over the past six years?

MY: Consistency. When Mitch gets a player in the draft or in a trade, he’s always hoping that the player he gets will be consistently good. Not great, not earth-shattering, just good. If its an outfielder, someone who will be a decent glove, can give you 600 at bats and maybe 30/90 every year. I know Mitch would sign up for that.

DM: But there hasn’t been consistency.

MY: No, no way. Look at the home runs. Since 2004, the year Thome was traded, there has been a different player leading the team in home runs. In 2004, Lopez had that monster season when he had 60. In ’05, it was Mats (Hideki Matsui). In ’06, it was me, which’ll tell you how hurting we were for homers that year. In ’07, it was Billy Hall, in ’08 it was Wig (Ty Wigginton) and then last year it was Xavier Nady. Not one of those guys, including me, was consistent enough to lead the team in homers more than once. And the same goes for the pitching. I know that Mitch has been real disappointed in the pitching.

DM: I supposed you’re referring to Barry Zito.

MY: Oh, boy (laughing). I feel awful for Barry. Everyone loved the trade when it was made but he told me a couple of times in the clubhouse that he was feeling a lot of pressure to do well here. You guys in the media thought he just lost his talent, but I’ve been around the game a long time and I know you never lose talent. Not like that. Barry was pressing. A lot. And it showed.

DM: Lets talk about 0-23 in 2008.

MY: Oh, God (laughs). That was a terrible year, not just for him but for all of us. And we had just come off a winning year where we finally contended for a wild card. People thought we had finally turned the corner as an organization and then, wham, the floor and ceiling fall in.

DM: Did Mitch ever regret that trade?

MY: I don’t think he did. I think he was privately stunned that Barry pitched as poorly as he did. You have to judge a trade in the context of when it was made. When Mitch got Barry, he had just come off three very good years and there was no reason to think he wouldn’t continue. You media guys didn’t help, always pointing out that Joe Nathan, whom I like, had become a huge superstar closer while Barry fell off a cliff in New York.

DM: Why did Mitch let Zito lose all those games in 2008? Why didn’t he bench him?

MY: There were a couple of reasons. First, he needed Barry’s innings. He didn’t have anyone on the roster who could take the ball every fifth day and potentially give him six, seven innings. Second, I think he wanted Barry to straighten himself out and you can’t do that by sitting on the bench. I don’t think Mitch intended to embarrass Barry. He didn’t know Barry would lose 23 games and not win one. No one would have believed that. I mean, that was Barry Zito, a guy who won 59 games in his first three seasons.

DM: Are you still in touch with Barry?

MY: Yes, kinda.

DM: Some think that you lost a step or two the last few years and that your stats show that. Do you think you’re heading for the downside of your career?

MY: Geez, I hope not (laughs). No, seriously, I can’t explain what’s happened the last few years. I was battling some injuries in ’09 and that kept my numbers down.

DM: Were you insulted when Mitch benched you for Block 4?

MY: No, not at all. I needed the rest and I wasn’t helping the team anyway.

DM: You’re going to be the third baseman in 2010 for the Knights.

MY: Yes.

DM: Do you feel you’re up to that task?

MY: I’m trying my best to adapt to that position. Third base is a lot harder than it looks. A lot of the best sluggers in the game are right handed, like you’re A-Rods and Ramirezes and when they pull the ball toward third, wow, its like a blur. I’ve been practicing with Howard (Johnson, the Knights’ infield coach) a lot and I’ve made progress. I’m not going to be great, but I’m going to give 100%.

DM: Garrett Atkins was just cut by the Knights. How do you feel about that?

MY: Pretty disappointed. I know when Mitch drafted Garrett a few years back, he hoped that Garrett would be our Scott Rolen, that he’d be with us for years. Garrett had some real good years for us, but with me moving to third and Jorge (Cantu) backing me and LaRoche up, Mitch felt that Garrett had no place on the team, so he let him go. He’s going to be a real good player for someone.

DM: What’s your feeling about the Knights in 2010, as the club enters its 10th season in the league?

MY: I’ve got a pretty good feeling about this club. I think we can build on last year. We have a good looking young lefty at the top of the rotation in Lester, we have a solid righty in the two slot in Matt Cain, who I think is going to rebound to his old form. Then we have Gavin Floyd, some good middle relievers and I think Chad Qualls is going to be a good closer.

DM: And now you have Vlad.

MY: Yeah, Vlad is going to help us. I’m not sure he’s going to be the big slugger he was in Georgia but with Mitch’s platoon system, he doesn’t have to be. If he gives us what he gave us last year, 15 homers, a .314 average in half a season, we’ll be OK.

DM: Just a few more questions. In your time with the Knights, who’s been the most colorful player you’ve seen?

MY: Oh, no question, David Wells (laughs). Boomer was larger than life and if you’d seen him with his shirt off, that’s pretty large. He’s one of a kind. Loves Babe Ruth and acts like him too.

DM: Anyone else.

MY: Javy Lopez was funny too. Dontrelle (Willis) was a real smooth character, a great dresser.

DM: It’s a shame what happened to him.

MY: It sure is. He has a world of talent. I’m hoping he’ll overcome whatever’s bothering him and come back to the league soon.

DM: If you had to put together a list of “great Knights”, who’d be on it?

MY: Oh, wow. Um, Jim Thome would be there, for sure. He was fearsome up there. I wished Mitch hadn’t traded him when he did, but we weren’t winning with him. What a bull he was. Ellis Burks was a class act, but he was at the end of his career when I got to New York. Oh, obviously Moose (Mike Mussina) and I think Grady Sizemore will be on that list too someday.

DM: And what about you?

MY: If you say so (laughs).

DM: Thanks for a few minutes Mike and have a great season.

MY: Thanks. Tell the fans I’ll in there trying and to keep the faith.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Z-nough is enough, Zambrano packs his bags

Career long Hawaiian Carlos Zambrano, who was perhaps one of the franchise's best draft choices, is leaving town for Georgia. In a surprising move, Zambrano was sent to the Roadkill for the NJT #1 pick and GRK #5 pick.

Big Z was drafted in 2003 in the 4th round (63rd overall) and had an up and down career for the Hawaiians. He showed flashes of brilliance but battled the demons of being a flyball pitcher in a small ballpark. Last year was a particularly difficult one as he was 13-14 with 5.37 ERA with a shocking 38 home runs surrendered. While the fans were happy to get so many souveniers, management was not as thrilled. The draft picks received will go to add depth.

NOTES: The Hawaiian gift shop will open early on Thursday morning for the winter caravan sale. Jerseys and Tshirts for Zambrano, Rollins, Rowand and Polanco have already been marked half off for your memorabilia pleasures. This includes the ever popular "I was there for the Big Z meltdown tour" shirts which features the dates and record of all the games wherein he unfortunately imploded.

Cabrera Possibly Replaced by Cabrera

Long time Chin Music shortstop Orlando Cabrera will be asked to show he has not lost a step when camp opens. The iron man started every game at ss forthe last 2 seasons. Why? For some reason he's been a fixture since replacing Barry Larkin in '02. Bizarre. His glove work was strong it's true. All those games management kept writing Cabrera ss. Pitching staff begging for Cabrera ss. The big O will be able to rest his legs. Management will still write Cabrera. All is well! The cost- some dude named Santana. Cabrera ss.

Aloha means goodbye

Just over 24 hours after the story first broke, Jimmy Rollins is packing his bags. In a deal that comes as no surprise, the clubhouse leader wannabe was dealt to Seattle who was in need of a solid glove with power at the shortstop position. The move was part of a complex 8 player plus 8 pick swap which is sure to affect the 2010 fortunes of both teams.

In the surprising deal, Honolulu sends Placido Polanco, Jimmy Rollins, Aaron Rowand and the 2010 HHA #9, 10, LVI #12 and HHA #13 to the Seattle Pilots. The move solidifies the Pilots defense for 2010 & adds much needed pop. It's no secret that Honolulu has been looking to upgrade the infield defense in spacious Pietruska Park. Double Plays are not only a pitcher's best friend but the GM's too. (If he wants to keep his job.) The Hawaiians receive perennial Gold Glover Orlando Hudson who has shown he can handle a bat quite well. The Pilots also sent shortstop Miguel Tejada, reliever Kevin Gregg, outfielders Gary Matthews and Randy Winn and the Pilots #4, #5, #7 and #8 picks in the 2010 entry draft. Its expected that Tejada will fill the DH role for this team when he is not backing up incumbent Yunel Escobar.

While this deal seems to create a hole in Left Field, the Hot Stove is just heating on the islands and with the warm trade winds blowing more deals are almost certain to follow.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Hot Stove in Honolulu

After what can only be called the most catastrophic end to a season, the Hawaiians have been burning up the phone wires to explore their options. Rumors abound on the internet and its easy to figure out who may be dealt.

With the dealing of Nate McLouth last season, HHA freed up the 5 man outfield logjam only to create another one at shortstop. Its no secret that incumbent youngster Yunel Escobar thought he had done enough to keep his job secure when the veteran Jimmy Rollins was brought in. This move created a clubhouse divided as players took sides on who should be the HHA shortstop going forward. Its clear one needs to go as both are rated as shortstop only.

Another interesting battle has taken shape as youngster Asdrubal Cabrera came on strong late in a bid to unseat Placido Polanco. Its clear that age clearly favors Cabrera but this is the first year that he has put up numbers to make him a serious threat. Like the war on the left side of the diamond, there can be only one winner. Cabrera's versatility to play both 2B and SS make him the favorite to stay when push comes to shove.

In the outfield, the Hawaiians need to figure out what to do with Pat Burrell. His struggles with the glove were tolerated in the past as his bat made up for his defensive miscues. This season though his average slipped and he may be on the block. If Burrell stays, someone needs to go and that may just be Aaron Rowand, a fan favorite. Rowand has been a mainstay in the outfield for several seasons but his decrease in power the past two seasons are a concern for the short porched home field.

On the mound, there Hawaiians have had inquiries about their starters as the NASBL managers always are on the prowl for pitching. Most likely candidates to be dealt are #3 man Carlos Zambrano or #5 starter Andy Pettitte. Both had nice seasons last year and would be in the front end of most league rotations.

It promises to be an interesting offseason for the boys of Aloha as moves have to be made. The only question is if enough moves can be made to bring a title back to the islands.

NASBL Writer's Association Guards the Hall of Fame Gates

25 January 2010

The NASBLWAA has spoken. In a landmark ballot, the Writers have declared that the current 3-man NASBL Hall of Fame will remain the elite and tightly knit group elected on the inaugural HOF ballot.

Coming closest to earning the 12 votes (75%) required for election was lifetime Texas Thunderbird Jeff Bagwell, with 11 votes (69%). The 2000 MVP is in 11th all time in homeruns (326), 7th in OBA (.406), 12th in slugging% (.560), 11th in runs scored (984) and 14th in RBI (948). His candidacy was no doubt hampered by his failure to hit the "magic numbers" of 400 HR, 1000 RBI or 1000 runs scored. In addition, Bagwell had the misfortune to spend his career overshadowed by players such as 5-time Tastes Great MVP Alex Rodriguez of NJT and 4-time MVP Barry Bonds of Dallas-Fort Worth. With players such as Bonds and Sammy Sosa, who twice exceeded 60 HR in a signle season, coming up for election after the 2011 season, the next two years likely represent Bagwell's best chance at induction.

Others receiving votes:
Roberto Alomar - 3 (19%, down from 50% in 2008)
Larry Walker - 3 (19%)
Rafael Palmeiro - 3 (19%, down from 25% in 2008)
Craig Biggio - 2 (13%)
Edgar Martinez - 2 (13%, down from 62.5% in 2008)
Mark McGwire - 2 (13%, up from 6% in 2008)
Rick Reed - 2 (13%, down from 6% in 2008)
Brad Radke - 2 (13%)
Bartolo Colon - 1 (6%)
David Wells - 1 (6%)
Ryan Klesko - 1 (6%)
Jeff Shaw - 1 (6%, down from 13% in 2008)
Ugueth Urbina - 1 (6%)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

2010 NASBL Base Draft Order

With the World Series closed out, and OJW having clinched the 16th overall selection, the base draft order for the 2010 Rookie / FA Draft can now be formally announced.

1. GRK
2. LVI
3. PCM
4. TRY
5. NYK
6. ILL
7. DFW
8. LCC
9. GCG
10. HHA
11. MSU
12. SPR
13. VFS
14. NJT
15. SPL
16. OJW

Overusage played a significant role in re-ordering the draft. GCG's 66 points of overusage (Brian Shouse - 7, Brad Ziegler - 15, Steven Shell - 27, Joe Nelson - 17) dropped them from 6th to 9th in the order. LCC's 8 points of overusage (Takashi Saito - 7, Jose Valverde - 1) were enough to drop them .001 behind DFW in adjusted winning percentage, so they dropped 1 slot.

Of the 1st round playoff losers, MSU picks ahead of SPR by virtue of a lower regular season winning percentage.

Similarly, VFS edges out NJT among the LCS losers, and will select 13th.

As always, the base draft order is irrespective of trades, and does not apply to rounds 3 and 4 of the Rookie / FA Draft, as draft order for those rounds is governed by FA Money.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

In Dead of a New York Winter, Empire Field is Melting Away

(New York Daily Mirror - January 14, 2010)

NEW YORK - With each passing day, Empire Field, the home of the Knights since 2001 and a New York City fixture since the World’s Fair in 1964, disappears from behind the shadow of Knights Field, the team’s new home. In the last few weeks, demolition crews have been ripping down entire sections of Empire Field from both ends of the outfield decks toward its middle. What was once a semi-enclosed bowl with 57,000 seats is now a skeleton of a grandstand.
In the first weeks after the Knights finished their final season at the arena (with a win, their 73rd of the season), crews removed the seats, signs and anything else that could be sold to collectors or reused in city parks. Then demolition crews started knocking out the field level and the concrete decks that made up the loge and the mezzanine. But the structure of the stadium, built for nearly $30 million, was largely intact.
Not so anymore.
Since the beginning of the year, crews have clawed away at Empire’s walls and beams, exposing escalators, elevator banks and air ducts. The stands above Gates A and E have vanished and parts of the neon players that adorned the outside of the stadium are gone, too. Twelve sections of the upper deck still have their concrete floors, but the other sections that remain are outlined only by their steel beams. Unlike stadiums in other cities that have been imploded, Empire Field had to be taken down piece by piece because of New York City building codes and the sensitivities of Flushing residents who still have visions of 9/11 in their minds.

The rat-a-tat-tat of the construction machinery drowned out the noise of the jets taking off from nearby LaGuardia Airport . Tarps on chain link fences say “Almost Home,” a reference to the soon-to-be-opened Knights Field, but also the six-month process of erasing Empire.
In all, nearly 10,000 tons of steel and another 2,500 tons of concrete will be pulled out of Empire. Some of the concrete will be ground up and reused as the base material for the parking lot that will be installed in its place. The lot will include space for 2,000 cars and signs marking where home plate and the pitcher’s mound once were.
Team representatives said that the demolition will be completed some time in the coming weeks, which is not hard to imagine. On Wednesday, lines of dump trucks made their way onto what was once the outfield, weaving around piles of crumpled metal and concrete covered in snow.
Several Web sites have sprung up that have chronicled the destruction of the place where Mike Mussina in his prime once threw en route to a Cy Young Award, Javy Lopez once delivered a 60-homer season and where Jim Thome, the Knights first captain, manned first base. In a way, the sites are a testament to the morbid curiosity of Knights fans, who have endured many morbid Knights teams.

“It’s interesting how they are doing it piece by piece,” said Karl Erhardt, a Knights fan from Babylon, N.Y. “Most old stadia are blown up and it takes just a few seconds. It’s pretty interesting seeing it come apart in pieces over the course of four months.”
Erhardt and several other die-hard fans are organizing a final farewell at Empire at noon Saturday to share stories and take photographs of what is left of the ballpark.

As Empire Field diminishes, Knights Field emerges. While less imposing than Empire, the new stadium, at least from the outside, has an elegance that Empire lacked. Instead of the lattice of concrete ramps that constituted Empire’s exterior, Knights Field is covered in brick and punctuated with arches and an entrance rotunda. Flood lights highlight the outside while klieg lights illuminate what is left of Empire Field.

NASBL play at Empire Field began in the spring of 2001, after the dreadful North Celtic Druids were purchased by Knights Partners, L.P., were renamed the Knights and were moved to New York City as its first (and so far only) NASBL franchise. The family of Knights GM Mitch Pak are thought to be majority owners in the venture but Pak has never discussed his ties to ownership. Certainly his ability to retain his dual jobs as GM and manager after eight losing seasons in nine years, including a 118 loss debacle in 2008, could be explained by a familial relationship to the owners.

Empire Field was the brainchild of legendary New York master builder Robert Moses, who envisioned a grand, ultramodern baseball arena in the swamps of Flushing Meadows in Queens County . Thanks to his nearly unfettered power in New York City politics, Moses was able to launch the multi-million project and begin construction in 1956 despite not having been able to first lure a major league baseball club to actually play there. In early 1957, Moses offered the stadium site and the arena itself to Walter O’Malley, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers who had become publicly disenchanted with decrepit Ebbets Field in Brooklyn . O’Malley advised Moses in no uncertain terms that unless he was offered a Brooklyn site, he was moving the club to Southern California . Moses remained obstinate, as usual, and after the 1957 season, the Dodgers left for the coast. Empire Field was completed, sans team, in 1959 and remained empty until 1961, when the New York Titans of the upstart American Football League came into being. The Titans, who became the Jets in 1963, called Empire Field home until 1984, when the team owner, Leon Hess, moved the club to Giants Stadium in New Jersey after a dispute with the stadium's owner, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, over the lack of maintenance of the facility in general and the bathrooms in particular.
Empire Field most famously hosted a Beatles concert in 1964 and was also used for major league baseball by MLB's New York Yankees during Yankee Stadium renovation in 1974 and 1975 and the NFL's New York Giants for one season during the construction of Giants Stadium in New Jersey. It was then sporadically used for concerts, high school championship games and conventions from 1984 until 2001, when the Knights took possession and played nine star-crossed years there.
The Knights themselves were not very sentimental about leaving the old barn. "It was a dump, lets be honest," said Michael Young, the senior Knight who played there the longest. "When we travel around the country and play on the road, I'm always shocked at the modern facilities some of our competitors play in. Empire Field was past its prime. From what I understand, it never had a prime."
The Knights will open Knights Field for the 2010 season by retiring Mike Mussina's #35 jersey on Opening Day. Arrangements for the ceremony are still pending.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Topes Deal Vazquez in Blockbuster

Springfield (AP) – Coach Mike Ditka once traded his entire draft for one player (Ricky Williams) when he was in charge of the New Orleans Saints. It took almost that haul to pry Javier Vazquez from the Springfield Isotopes. In a shocking move, for the second straight season (following Rich Harden last year) the Springfield Isotopes have traded a top of the rotation starting pitcher. On Monday it was announced that the Topes sent Javier Vazquez, Jack Cust, Reed Johnson, Dan Wheeler, its 7th round pick and its last two draft picks to the Seattle Pilots for Jason Marquis, Gregg Zaun, and Seattle’s first three picks in the upcoming NASBL draft.

Vazquez, who came to the Topes in an offseason trade with the Georgia Roadkill in 2005 (via one of the picks Springfield received in the infamous Barry Zito trade), has been an extremely durable and valuable known commodity for the Topes year in and year out. In his five seasons with the Topes, Vazquez compiled a 64-46 record with a very respectable 4.64 ERA and has averaged almost 200 innings per season. This includes a disastrous first season with the Topes in which he went 6-13 with a 6.13 ERA, as Javier had a difficult time transitioning from the big city atmosphere and media of Georgia to the small market of Springfield.

Due to its midseason trade for Josh Hamilton, the Topes were left with few picks in the upcoming draft and numerous sources claimed that a Topes starting pitcher would be moved this offseason to generate additional draft picks. However, the name bandied about was that of A.J. Burnett and not of Vazquez.

“We appreciate all that Javier, Jack, Reed and Dan have done for the Isotopes organization, but believe that the picks acquired in this trade give us the chance to get a little younger via the draft, something we sorely need,” GM Doug Sherlag stated in a Tuesday morning press conference. “Not to mention, it’s not everyday you can add a Jason Marquis or a Gregg Zaun to your squad. I saw Gregg Zaun hit a called-shot home run in the 1999 Hall of Fame Game in Cooperstown. Only two guys I know of have done such a thing and Babe Ruth wasn’t available.”

True Story – Sherlag was one of the 9,773 in attendance on that day.

Sherlag can say anything he wants, but the trade smells like a salary dump to many Topes faithful. It was predicted by many that the Topes would have a difficult time affording its starting pitching staff after the big money long term contracts signed by C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett after last season and this move comes as no surprise to a team known for its frugality.

It is expected that Gregg Zaun’s acquisition marks the first time in six seasons that Brian Schneider hasn’t entered Spring Training as the starting catcher and Zaun represents another hub in the revolving door of catchers that have called the Topes home since 2000 (in the company of Chad Kreuter, Alberto Castillo, Mitch Meluskey, Einar Diaz, Eddie Taubensee, Shawn Wooten, Brad Ausmus, Robert Machado, Tom Wilson, Brandon Inge, Miguel Olivo, Damian Miller, Jorge Posada, Ramon Hernandez, and Schneider)

Jason Marquis’ days as an Isotope may be numbered however. The trade still leaves the Topes with six starting pitchers for next season and it is probable that Sherlag will move either Marquis or Jarrod Washburn before roster cut-down day for another draft pick.

Monday, January 11, 2010


The recently incompetent Chin Music in a break with long tradition have traded their number 1 pick for a slugger named Zobrist. He will try to stand his ground at 2b while vegetarian Fielder lumbers around 1b. These 2 power bats are the 1st riff of a return to the rocking style of '98! We will rock you Pocono style despite living in namby pamby Princeton. Power and Pedro! Umm Haren maybe. Let's go Mets!

Friday, January 8, 2010

IronPigs Welcome One of Their Own

In a surprising move, the IronPigs have traded 1b Todd Helton in exchange for a high draft pick and RHP Joe Blanton. We were disappointed to trade Todd at this point in his career. He did not live up to expectations with us, but it seemed like he was hitting his stride toward the end of last season and we expect great things from Todd in the upcoming season.

RHP Joe Blanton, who bears a striking resemblance to the famous Porky Pig, was added to shore up the abysmal IronPig starting pitching situation. He seems to have a bit of difficulty with giving up the long ball, but in our ballpark, that damage should be controllable and he should be able to find success.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Chows add a Big Stick

Illinois Times -- The Chows DH position is no longer vacant. It will be occupied by either Todd Helton or Carlos Pena with the other guy playing 1B. Both Helton and Pena are regarded as good glovemen and will probably share time in both roles.

GM Brad Sherlag said, "We are very excited to add a premium bat to the Illinois line-up. Helton will be a middle of the order guy for us and should help us generate more runs. Any time you can add a guy to your team that appears all over the NASBL career leader boards - well that's a guy you love to add. Chows fans should be able to see Todd drive in his thousandth run this year -- that is an amazing number considering the struggles we have had offensively over the years. His career batting average of .309 is just shy of the Chows single season record of .312."

A player like Helton does not come cheap. Illinois gave up Joe Blanton which leaves a hold in the rotation that Illinois expects to address in the draft. The Chows also gave up their 2nd round draft pick. Does this mean Illinois is going for it this season? "Yeah - well at least for Block I -- we went for it last year too, but started flat in our tough division and ended up holding a fire sale. We will still be taking the best players available in our eyes in Round 1 -- but those guys should also be able to fill in our holes. We have a lot more depth and flexibility going into this draft after getting Helton and Counsell. "

After spending the majority of his career with the Roadkill, Helton is now joining his 3rd team in as many years. "I am surprised, but not as much as last time. Once you get dealt you learn how to deal with it."