Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year NASBL

Dallas Morning News-

The 2010 season is behind DFW and the countdown to the NASBL Draft, then when pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training is less than 60 days away. All season the Spurs heard how bad they were and thank goodness football season is finally here. Well thanks to the Cowboys laying a bigger egg than the Spurs did expectations aren't nearly so lofty!

Looks like Manager Red Robbins won't get a suite to the Super Bowl over at Jerry World Stadium after all!

Happy New Year NASBL'ers

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The 2011 Haymakers

Troy, NY: One word seems to be on the minds of Haymakers players and coaches as they get ready to leave for spring training; contention. This is a first for the team, as the team has always been in rebuild mode ever since the team has moved to Troy from Canyon County. The team's only holdover from the storied franchise is Huston Street, who was a rookie at the time and may not make next seasons roster. A quick glance at the teams roster will show probably the most impressive lineup it has ever had, as well as the deepest rotation. Here is a more in depth look at each position:

First Base: Billy Butler - the 24 year old has shown promise since acquired via trade and although did nicely in his first full season with 60 extra base hits; some still wonder if he will ever live up to the potential that this former top prospect has had. He has been slowly growing every season and is still good young bat, possibly breaking out as a top 10 firstbaseman for the first time this year. (Hopefully not leading the league in DP's)

Second Base: Brandon Phillips - the 2 time gold glove winner acquired via trade with the Grizzlies has power, speed, and a great glove but his production is stymied by his ability to get on-base. He sometimes seems confused on the type of hitter he should be; although there is a good amount of talent there. Is very useful as a bottom of the order hitter.

Shortstop: Jason Bartlett - another trade acquisition may have had his career year in 2010 as a top of the order spark for the Haymakers, his glove may keep him in the lineup in 2011.

Third Base: Jose Bautista - this journeyman has had a somewhat productive career as a utility player; he may have found a home in Troy. A minor adjustment to his swing has produced a major increase in production; and his position flexability is a plus on a team that likes to move players around. Many wonder if this will be his career year but the Haymaker fans will just sit back and enjoy his upcoming season. He unseats last years first round pick Pablo Sandoval, who had a sophomore slump season; but will most likely be the long term option at the position.

Rightfield: Andre Ethier - a great lefty bat with a plus arm and an average defender who crushes righties; but needs to be benched against lefties. If he ever figures out how to hit the southpaws he could be a top tier outfielder.

Centerfield: Brett Gardner - this slap hitting speedster will be an on-base machine for the Haymakers in 2011. Is a top notch fielder in left, but will fill in nicely as an above average CF with a plus arm. His work ethic and hard nose, aggressive style is a favorite of GM Ken Anderson.

Leftfield: David Murphy - finished strong last season and played his way onto the 2011 roster. Like Ethier; will need to be benched against lefties.

Catcher: Geovanny Soto - this 2009 first round pick followed up his sophomore slump season, with a solid campaign; although beset by injury. Will absolutely destroy lefties next season, and hopes to be behind the dish at Haymaker grounds for a while.

There's much to look forward to in 2011, and the lineup may look something like this:

CF Brett Garder
DH Omar Infante
RF Andre Ethier
3B Jose Bautista
1B Billy Butler
LF David Murphy
C Geovanny Soto
2B Brandon Phillips
SS Jason Bartlett

With the rotation filling out like so:

SP1 Jered Weaver
SP2 Brett Myers
SP3 Jon Garland
SP4 Max Scherzer
SP5 Mike Pelfrey
Closer: Huston Street

Monday, December 27, 2010

Manny Finally Gets His Due

Ramirez Awarded Coveted Hal-Five Award

Manny Ramirez was beaming proudly at the press conference held in Outlaw Pond to announce the award of the prestigious Hal-Five rating to the alleged outfielder. Ramirez took he stage with teary eyes, thanking his mother, team officials, teammates, and Hal Richman for the award. Said an emotional Ramirez, "I've had a long successful career with many accomplishments and awards, but it all pales in comparison to this. My coaches, fans, and teammates all know how long and hard I have worked for this award. I have been stuck at the Hal-Four rating for so long that even I started to doubt my ability to rise to this level. But I stuck with it and I want to let everyone know how grateful I am that a humble kid from Santo Domingo can reach this pinnacle."

Friday, December 24, 2010

Defensive Ratings

With the strat range ratings published it is now time to take a look at what the 2011 season will bring regarding the IronPigs team defense.

At present, LVI is blessed to have an infield that is almost up to the lofty standards set by Outlaw Josey Wales. LVI features a "1" at 1b, 2b, and 3b with the lone blemish being a "2" at ss.

Similar to OJW, our outfield defense leaves a bit to be desired. We are considering emulating the defensive strategy of the successful Lake Champlain Cannibals and fielding the famed "Easter Island" defensive outfield. At present, our outfield consists of Vladimir Guerrero sporting a nifty "5" range rating and the defensive upgrade of Luke Scott with a "4".

Management is considering drafting a player like Andres Torres who would be asked to cover all of the fair territory in the outfield and Guerrero and Scott would be limited to fielding foul balls. We believe that this strategy would also allow management to reduce operating expenses by eliminating the position of the two "ball girls" who were formerly stationed in the outfield foul territory. Guerrero and Scott would be able to provide this important service as part of their routine duties.

If anyone has a troublesome "one year wonder" center fielder that they are not interested in tendering a contract, IronPig management would be interested in discussing the possibility of a trade.

Morandini gets dreaded "Vote of Confidence"

Illinois Times - When owner/GM Brad Sherlag took over the Chows, one of his most surprising moves was inking first time skipper Mickey Morandini to a 6 year deal. At the time, Sherlag described the curious move by saying, "I grew up a Cubs fan and saw my favorite team change managers every year or two. There was no continuity or momentum. I looked in the dugout of our arch rival Cardinals and it seemed they always had the same guy in the dugout. I feel that is a big advantage."

Morandini is now 384-424 as NASBL manager. However, over the last three seasons, the record is 258-228. Sherlag was extremely disappointed that the Chows did not make the playoffs for the first time last year. While he placed the blame on his acquisitions of Zambrano and Pagan, he also felt deep down that it was still a play-off caliber team. Recently, the Times caught up with Sherlag and asked about Morandini's lame-duck status. "We have not had any talks with Mickey, however he knows he is our guy. We have a great relationship, and he has not expressed interest in doing anything but staying right here. I am sure when the time is right an extension will be complete."

The Chows are rebuilding again this season. However, Sherlag says this isn't a long-term rebuild, but more of a one year fine-tuning. If the Chows are fine-tuned going in to next year, is the driver of the team one of the new pieces?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Daily Mirror to Close Baseball Desk Effective December 31

(New York Daily Mirror - December 16, 2010)

NEW YORK - On December 1, News Corp., the parent company of the Mirror, announced a third-quarter operating loss of $251 million in 2010. This is another example of the current trend of news consumption increasingly favoring the Internet and cable television over the printed word.

The publishers of the newspapers owned by News Corp. have all been directed to cut their 2011 budgets by 10%. In complying with this directive, the Mirror has announced that 25% of the paper's sports staff will be laid off December 31 and that certain "non-essential" features will be eliminated. This includes the Sunday Sports Magazine, the NFL Bettors Guide - and the permanent closure of the baseball desk.

In a statement to be published in tomorrow's Op-Ed section, the Mirror's hierarchy explain that with the departure of the Knights from New York, there is "regrettably, no urgent need" to employ reporters and support staffers for the baseball desk.

The Mirror will continue to provide readers with baseball news and information as published by the AP and other outside sources.

The Mirror had numerous beat writers covering the Knights since the franchise's birth in 2001. It is unclear whether these journalists will be offered new positions at the Mirror.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Is Ruben Amaro Jr a Strat Fan?

With the Phillies latest signing of Cliff Lee, I have to wonder if Phil's GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is a strat manager at heart trapped in MLB. His moves of acquiring Halladay, Oswalt and now Lee smack of moves that a savvy strat manager would make in pursuit of a championship. The acquisition of Lee gives the Phillies a truly formidable rotation and if all remain healthy, could propel them to another WS appearance. Amaro makes deals and flips players almost as often as NASBL's own "Trader Stan" (but not quite). This is quite an accomplishment in the NASBL feeder program known as MLB. It is this writer's opinion that if we have another opening in NASBL, Amaro should be contacted to fill the slot.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Vizquel Contract Negotiations Stall

The Outlaw Josey Wales taking the field without Omar Vizquel would be like yin without yang, day without night, DDay without Bluto. But this shocking possibility set the rumor mills abuzz in Outlaw Pond when Vizquel's agent, Snidley T. Whiplash, called the Wale's contract offer for the aging veteran "baffling." The fifteen-year Outlaw fan favorite is second in team history in atbats (6954), hits (1803), and stolen bases (378), and no-doubt first in that all-important but unrecorded out-3 fielding chart category. Everyone assumed that Wales officials would overpay the 43 year-old face of the franchise out of respect and loyalty. Omar, aka Mr. Wales, has been through both unbelievable on-field performances and adversity throughout team history. But baseball is a business and some rumors have Outlaw playing hardball with Whiplash and Vizquel. Some even speculate that rival New Jersey Trash Heap are bidding up Omar's price, although most doubt that the Heap want to start an all-out war. Even though the aging shortstop's best years are clearly behind him, Outlaw fans have little doubt that a deal will get done and Vizquel will be playing in Outlaw well into the future. The alternative is unthinklable . . .

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Home on the Range

Roadkill Nation awaits the range ratings and hope that HAL is in a giving mood this season. It will take some serious pitching & "D" if GRK is going to compete for the TGS division title in '11. Aaron Hill will hopefully retain his "1" as well as RF Nick Markakis. Alexei has a shot at his first "1" even though Jeter received his annual gift of the GG. Hunter Pence should keep his 2 & Rios is a possible 2 at CF. Here's the projections of players on the protected roster barring any off-season trades:
Update after Range Rating Preview Posted:

M.Wieters C3 (2)
K.Morales 1B3 (2)
A.Hill 2B2 (3)
A.Ramirez SS2 (1...hopefully not the last)
C.Headley 3B3 (2)
C.Jones 3B4 (4)
A.Rios CF3 (2)
H.Pence RF2 (2)
N.Markakis RF1 (1)

Roadkill Nation cannot complain. Alexei & Markakis get the 1 . Wieters, Morales, Headley & Rios all better than anticipated. Hill drops to a 3 but expect him to at least return to a 2 after next season.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Individual Awards Consolation to Disappointing Season

Illinois Times - When the NASBL awards were announced, for the first time in franchise history the Chows had multiple award winners. Joe Nathan was named the NASBL fireman of the year and Brett Anderson was named Rookie of the Year. Both Nathan and Anderson flew in to Illinois and joined each other for a press conference in the dated press room in the bowls of Seventies stadium.

Nathan went first and called the relief award "a team award. The Chows put me in a position to save a lot of games this year and hopefully I did not disappoint." Nathan answered all the questions and then dropped a bombshell - "I recently underwent an MRI and learned that I will be going under the knife. Unfortunately, I will miss the entire 2011 season. I am told that I should have a full recovery and be ready for 2012."

Brett Anderson then took the podium, but the atmosphere in the press room was subdued after Nathan's bombshell. "I am proud to be the Chows first Rookie of the Year and the franchise's first 20 game winner. I want to thank the vets on the team for all the help they gave. Roy and Chris really know how to teach a guy to be a member of the NASBL."

Chows GM Brad Sherlag went next. After talking abut how proud he was of Nathan and Anderson he fielded questions. When asked about the Chows chances for 2011, Sherlag was pretty honest. "I do not think we have enough to win in the TGE next year. With Nathan out, and no pick until the 3rd round, we really do not have the ability to shore up our offense. Our staff should be fine next year with Roy, Chris and Brett as anchors. Duensing may move into the rotation and we still have Zambrano and Volquez coming back for sure. However, we project to score even less runs than last year. We really went all in last season and will regroup a little bit in 2011. Like Nathan - we expect to come back strong in 2012."

This waiting routine is getting old for Chows fans. Sherlag has yet to get the Chows into the postseason and the call for Sherlag to hire a real GM is getting louder. Maybe Sherlag can make a deal or two this offseason to help curtail criticism.