Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Buffalo Nickels - Striving for Mediocrity

Buffalo (AP) - After two seasons of rebuilding, the Nickels may be poised to reach that magical .500 mark this season.


The starting five are solid if unspectacular, with Andy Lofton, Marty Mintz, Joshua Davis, Teddy Winn and Paul Person all getting the nod to fill out the rotation. The middle relief is a gigantic question mark, but any lead effectively shortens the game to eight innings with Rob Carpenter in the closer's role.


Dale Hudson (2B) will bat leadoff, which already raises question marks about the lineup. High contact and speed, but not much else. Esteban Viriato (RF) hits out of the two-hole and looks to improve on last season's rookie campaign. Vic Castilla (1B) would be a superstar with any durability - as it is, he'll be sretched to the limits of his fatigue in his rookie season. Greg Trachsel(CF) mans the cleanup spot with a ton of power and no average. Dave Kingman would be proud. Phil Lee (LF) hits five, and needs to see a boost to his average in his sophomore season. Orlando Vidal put together a fine season last year, and we look for a repeat performance in the six-hole. The Lonnie Magee/Mike Nelson (C) platoon holds down the seven spot, while the Mateo Herrera/Tony Martinez (SS) platoon hits eighth.

The Future

The seasons to come look to bring a bevy of young talent, especially pitching, to the ML level. The top prospects, not involved in pending trades, in no particular order:

Oleg Barber (C)
Francisco Escobar (CF)
Jackie Lewis (SP)
Vic DeLeon (SP)
Vic Jerzembeck (RP)
Miguel Posada (SP)
Danny Catalanotto (2B)
Juan Gabriel (SP)
Phil Jenkins (SP)
Nick Brown (RP)
Ronald Buckley (2B)


The Nickels aren't playoff contenders yet, but they continue to make progress toward that end. If they can add to the offense over the next couple of seasons while the young starting pitching matures, they look to be a force to be reckoned with.

Welcome to Season 9

Welcome to all of our new owners and welcome back to those returning. The regular season hasn't started yet, but we're already on pace to shatter all-time RSF record for the World Chat - and that's saying something with this group of miscreants. Best of luck to everyone in the coming season. Let's make it a good one.

Friday, July 25, 2008

We Did It!

With what may have been the worst team in four years, the San Jose-Santa Clara Classmates have won the World Series.

It was a dream five years in the making. Ever since losing to the Mets in the S4 NLCS, San Jose GM marsrover has strived to make it over the hump and into the World Series. "It feels like it took so long," he said. "After the back-to-back losses in Ss 4&5 to the Mets in the NLCS, we thought we'd never get over the hump. Then the sweep to Helena in S6 and we just about lost hope. But this. This is beyound our wildest dreams!"

The Classmates looked close in S7 with the addition of rookie sensation Bart Martin and a genuine power-hitting first-baseman in Ismael Ordonez. That year the team saw franchise records in steals, home-runs, OPS, team steals, team RBIs, and team runs. But it wasn't enough. The Classmates met up with old friend Ariel Moraga in the first round. The S4 Int'l signing beat the Classmates twice in a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of the Atlases in the NLCS.

Then, this year, the Classmates lost two veteran presences to free agency. 33 year-old Jaime Decker was 3rd on the team's career wins list and signed with the Ballsmackers for a big payday. Prennially underrated LF'er J.D. Lockwood was 3rd on the team's career home run list and first on the career steals list. He signed a sweetheart two-year deal with the SJ Diablos.

The team seemed to fall from within as soon as the season started and was 8 games back in the division as late as June 5th. But then, something happened. The team made a crazy trade for overpriced Japanese righty Hong-Jin Miyakazi. "When mars pulled the trigger on that deal, it really showed us he was committed to winning this year," team spokesman Tanyon Walls said. "There was alot of talk about a firesale and everyone got worried. But Hong-Jin never gave up and everyday he went out there, we knew we could win.

Hong-Jin's confidence seemed to spread through the team like a wildfire. Newly acquired Al Izturis started to crush the ball (finishing with a franchise-tying 51 homeruns). Bart Martin started to run, and hit (last year's ROY turned in his second straight season with at least 30 homeruns, 50 steals, 120 runs, and 100 RBIs), the bullpen started to hold and save games. When glass-arm pitcher Einar Lee went down again with a season-ending injury, rookie David Shin came up and pitched his pants off.

"From top-to-bottom, we just started to play like a team," first baseman Ismael Ordonez said. "It was hard losing those two guys [Decker and Lockwood], and we all took it pretty hard at the start of the season. Then there was the talk of trading away Bart. We just didn't think management was committed to us. But then we started winning, and the season was going, and we said, 'hey, we're in first place here.'"

Hong-Jin took home the series trophy for Most Valuable Player. But it really could have gone to anyone. Al Izturis crushed the ball all post-season and finished with 8 total. Bart Martin more than made up for his futility in last year's postseason by turning in .348/.436/.636 with 19 RBIs and 6 steals. Ordonez found his swing, and Michael Chong cemented his reputation as a premiere postseason player.

The real suprise of the posteason though, may have been Al Timlin's sweet swing. The 25 y/o Rule 5'er only logged 100 regular season at bats and was a suprise addition to the postseason roster. But this postseason neophyte CRUSHED the ball in New York, hitting .438/.471/.875 there. "I didn't even think I'd be on this team. And here I am covered in champagne. Just amazing," he said.

Although team owners could not be reached for comment, it is safe to say that this team's long wait has made winning just a little sweeter. There's something that makes this win just a little more rewarding, though. Every team that ever beat the Classmates in the postseasons of past, lost to them in this one. Helena, New York (NL), and Nashville had all given San Jose the early exit before. This time, it was San Jose all the way.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Finally remember my password

Vegas Pit Boss preview to come!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Welcome and Welcome Back

30 owners return for Season 8, and we welcome two (three, really) into the fold. Welcome back to the H.J. vets, and welcome to domiisgod and kingcryptic (the two-headed monster of Jack and zubs). We also lured leppy into permanent residence, after taking on babysitting duties last season. With the efficient way a poor situation was dealt with last season and the addition of our new owners, all signs point toward Happy Jack becoming an "elite" HBD World, and sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

SLC Hammers - Trading Block

Here's a summary of players on the Salt Lake City Hammers trading block. No stupid contracts. Nobody who does not belong in the ML.

Some of them have team options or are up for arbitration. You'll have to move fast on those, as I won't be waiting around for the best possible offer.

Ages are Season 8. "Last Season" is 7.

John Scarsone - SS - 31 - 1 yr @ $4M. Top SS 3 Range Factor. Top 10 Fld%. 16-63-.291-.461 w/ 12 SB. Fielding range & hitting ratings improved last season. If you're looking for a SS to hold down the fort for a few seasons so you don't have to rush your SS Of The Future to the ML, here's your guy. Will consider tossing in some $$ for this year's salary.

Taylor Fisher - DH/C - 33 - 1 yr @ 4.2M - Crushes LHP (hit cleanup for the 1st place Hammers). OK vs. RHP. You don't want him behind the plate much, if at all. DH or big bat of the bench. Not looking for much. Will consider helping with salary.

Norman Lombard - C - 28 - Yr 1 Arb - $1.4M arb - 5 yr / $20M long term - If you're looking for a no-hit, defensive stud, this is not your guy. Ave behind the plate. 4th in the ML in Caught Stealings in Season 7. Middle of the pack Caught Stealing %. High durability & health, so he plays every day. 85 makeup, so there's no reason he won't still improve some. Expect low 20s HR, .290 Ave, .480 SLG..

Pedro Manual - CF - 28 - Yr 1 Arb - $1.6M arb - 4 yr / $19.2 M long term - Over 80 Range and Glove. Hits .300. Steals some bases. If you think you need an all-star at every position to win, he's not your guy. If you need a leadoff hitter who can run and field, he might be.

Harry Banks - 1B - 26 - Yr 1 Arb - $895K arb - 2 yr / $4.4 M long term - Averaged 20+ HR & .300 BA over the past 2 season. Was stuck on a messed up team for 4 years, so his development has been slower than it seems like it should have been. Still young. Got his health. And I'm obviously not going to be asking for a whole lot in return.

Anthony Borbon - 2B,3B,OF - 26 - Yr 1 Arb - $1.4M arb - 4 yr / $19.2M long term - This might be the best young player you have any shot at trading for this season. He ain't gunna be cheap, but he can be had.

Butch Brooks - 3B/COF - 31 - $456K - Arb elig. next season - Solid hitter vs LHP. with great power. If I don't trade him, he'll start every game vs LHP for the Hammers.

Rafael Santos - RF/3B/LF/1B - 30 - Signed for 3 years - $7M, $6M, $5M (mutual option). One of HJ's premier sluggers. Good for 40-60 HRs a season. Rifle arm in RF. I'm not really looking to trade him, but I'll consider offers.

Milton Cunningham - SP - 26 - Yr 1 Arb - $1.8M arb - 4 yr / $26M long term - Here's your chance to stay out of the FA bidding frenzy and pick up a solid SP. Had a rocky Season 7. Looking for a change of scenery.

Dan Brumfield - SP - 25 - $378K - RHPs who don't keep the ball on the ground have a hard time in SLC. Used as a spot starter on the road last season and was good. Not OK. Good. Almost all his bad outings were in the short RF of SLC. He's young, he's cheap, and he's improving. I'm not going to give him away, but if he can start every 5 games at home for you, he's worth more to you than he is to me.

Vince Borland - RP - 26 - $340K - Got to be able to setup, if not close, on any team. I've got one young RP to deal. He's the best of the lot who are not untouchable. Which means there are other's I'd trade, too.

Jeff Berry - RP - 26 - $378K - Former Rule 5 guys. Not well developed his first 4 seasons. High potential. Still improving. The kind of arm it's good to have in that 9-10 spot when a pitcher goes does midseason.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Classmates Season in Review

At the end of the 7th season of the Santa Clara Classmates under the helm of Marsrover21, let us examine how well (or poorly) the team faired.

* For the fourth time in as many seasons, the Classmates are going to the playoffs. Despite having the second best record in franchise history, the Classmates will again have to play in the first round. Hopefully, this year's team will fair better than last season's early round exit. And with a healthy Tanyon Walls, there is no reason to think they can't get past the first round.

* Rookie sensation Bart Martin was as good as advertised, and currently sits as the favorite for ROY voting. Martin put up fantastic numbers in his first full season, going .295/.361/.557 with 32 dingers, 46 doubles, 62^ stolen bases (vs. just 11 CS) and 102 RBIs. He is also an MVP candidate, and a Silver Slugger at third base.

* Another player making his ML full-season debut was Al Reid. Although he did not show up with as much fanfare as Martin, Reid was for the bullpen what Martin is for the offense. Indeed, Reid currently shows as second in ROY contention. As solid a closer as is in the league, Reid finished the year with 84.1 innings pitched, 32 saves (vs. 37 opportunities), 1.17 WHIP, 3.20 ERA, and 78 Ks. A big closer is what this team was looking for last year, and so far Reid has been a big upgrade.

* Tanyon Walls was again fantastic. After a down first season with the Classmates, Walls has run off three-straight .300 AVG seasons with an OPS of at least .950. Walls (along with Martin) was one of two players on the team to join the 30/30 club this season going 36/31. His fielding pct. improved for the second straight season to a very respectable .989. Although he will never win an MVP in the pitcher's friendly Municipal Stadium, Walls is again in contention for the award. And why not? Afterall, no other SS in the league will give you .300/30/30 and a .989 fielding pct.

* Ismael Ordonez was probably the most pleasant surprise on the team. Acquired at the beginning of the year from the Tacoma Lynx, Ordonez set career highs in HRs (51^), RBIs (149^), BBs (54), and OPS (.971^). Ordonez was worth it, and then some. However, with a career low 19 2Bs, look for some of those HRs to turn into two-baggers next season. Let's just hope they stay HRs throughout the playoffs.

* Defense. Led by two-time Gold-Glover Alfonso Pujols, the Classmates were second in fielding percentage (.991), and led the league in + plays by a wide margin (52). Pujols led the league with 28.

* Speed. The Classmates were second in league stolen bases behind the Rainers (the departing deanroy team had an amazing 494, while the Classmates had a much more humbling 238). The Classmates had a very respectable .758 steal percentage.

* Other role-players. Brian Torres, Hipolito Ferrer, and Felipe Rodriguez all played vital roles coming down the stretch playing only part-time. These players will again have to come up big in the playoffs for the Classmates to advance.

This was probably the best all-around team the Classmates have ever had throughout a full regular season. Although injuries to starting pitchers Randall Griffin and Einar Lee threatened to derail the season early, luckily the Classmates found some depth and were buoyed by great seasons from veteran pitchers Endy Messmer and Jaime Decker. Although neither has pitched particularly well in the playoffs before, the 'Mates are counting on them to push us into our first World Series. It is certain that this team can hit (for the first time in a long while). Now we are looking for them to win four straight series.

NOTE: "^" Denotes a franchise record.