Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ramsay to Surenos

The division-leading Oakland Surenos made a move to apply a foot to the throat of the NL West today, acquiring ace SP Gary Ramsay from Cincinnati for 3 minor-league hitters.

Oakland gets:
SP Gary Ramsay - has 126 wins and a 3.45 ERA over 9 seasons, plus 4 playoff wins in the Indianapolis (then Charlotte) World Series season (Sea 9). Ramsay will appreciate both Oakland's league-leading offense and its spacious outfield, and becomes a needed stopper to a staff that's sporting a 4.89 ERA.

Cincinnati gets:
OF/1B Stephen Bland - big power guy with shaky contact skills has been stuck in AAA behind Oakland's big bats for 6 seasons. Now he's probably stuck in AAA behind Cincinnati's big bats. If he does get a chance he'll likely put up good enough HR numbers to make the Waste Managers forget his K's and OBP.
1B Martin Munro - #18 overall pick in Season 11, he's a solid all-round hitter who projects to be a very good, although maybe not top 1B. Could easily have an occasional All-Star season, though.
LF Al Solano - Season 11 IFA makes great contact and has a good eye; needs to improve against RHP but has the time to develop. If he can max his vR, he could be a .320 hitter with 15-20 HR power.

No-brainer for Oakland - they've put together a great offense and are favored in their division, but have to improve their pitching to get deep into the playoffs. Ramsay was the best arm likely to be available - the Surenos simply HAD to get him. From Cincy's end, it'll take a couple of seasons to evaluate - they might even have to trade a couple of hitters to sort this one out. All in all, though, I think the Waste Managers did pretty well. Ramsay's a free agent after one more year (not a sure thing that he'll declare, but players of his caliber usually do after their first contract). While it would've been nice to get some young pitching, they got 3 good hitters - a way better haul than free agent comp picks.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

NL East Season 13 Preview

Tough year for the NL East last year - every team won fewer games than the year before (total of 46 fewer). Seasons like that are usually followed by big snap-back years - is that in the offing for Season 13?


Burlington: With 700 runs scored last year, the Lake Monsters need to add some punch. And so far they're getting it from the same cast as last year: RF Theodore Beckett has 46 RBI, LF Wilt McDowell is hitting .300 with 28 RBI, and C Hong-Jin Kobayashi has 10 HR's and 30 RBI. Currently 6th in runs scored, they'll be a factor if they can keep up this kind of attack.

Toledo: The Mud Hens fell from 4th to 10th in runs scored last year, and appear to be entering a rebuilding phase. They have some good power bats in C Ted Stein, 1B Rafael Carreras and RF Gary Goodwin, but only Goodwin is off
to a decent start. Carreras is of particular concern, hitting .182 with 1 HR. So far, they're trailing the pack. Oddsmakers say Goodwin will be with his 4th franchise by the trade deadline.

Jacksonville: The Jokers are the remains of the Philadelphia wreckage, and will likely be a season or 2 before they start to make an impact. While they're vying for last on offense with Toledo, there are some rays of hope: 23 year-old C Jason Griffin is off to a .327/8/27 start, 25 year-old RF Kevin Grabowski has 15 HR's and 39 RBI, and 24 year-old 2B George Kipling is at .307/12/24.

Indianapolis: The third rebuilding team in the division, the Sluggers are running just a little behind the league average in offense. Their 2 starting rookies are off to divergent starts: 1B Matt Flores is hitting .308 with 10 HR's; RF Dan McCartin is struggling at .210 and 1 hr.


Burlington: The Lake Monsters were 7th with a respectable 4.15 ERA last year, and are running just slightly above that so far this year. Mark Fisher and Frank Huff lead the rotation, but it falls off after those 2. The bullpen has been the early-season highlight, with 6 of the 7 under a 4.00 ERA. One more good starter and these guys could have a pretty dangerous 9-man playoff staff.

Toledo: The Mud Hens were 13th at 4.88 last year and are currently beating that by a decent margin. Of the starters, ace Ruben James has struggled so far (5.26 ERA), but Trever Fielder (3.45) and Al Kingman (3.55) have been solid. Tony Campos and Javier Mendoza have been good out of the pen, but this is one of the oldest staffs in the league - some wholesale changes are coming this year or next.

Jacksonville: Their predecessor Phils were dead last (by a mile) with a 6.57 ERA last year, so their current mark of 5.00 represents a monster improvement. The only real standout performance is LR C.C. Taguchi (2-3, 2.22), but for a bunch of Philly holdovers, Rule Fivers and ww claims, they're mounting a credible effort. If there was a Pitching Coach of the Year, T.J. Reed would have it wrapped up already.

Indianapolis: The Sluggers were 15th at 5.36 last year; in the 2nd year of their rebuilding campaign they've improved a bit but fallen to 16th. The big news here is they've brought up 4 rookies who all have bright futures: Season 9 first-rounder (#30 overall) Enrique Velasquez is off to a rough start (3-5, 6.17), Season 7 first-rounder #29 overall) Darrel Kennedy is excelling (2.66) in a long relief role, Season 11 #1 (11 overall) Mike Franco may have been rushed a little and is showing with a 6.97 ERA, and Season 10 IFA Julian Lopez has 6 saves and a 3.18. Vet SP Felix Cortes is having a career year (1.69) and could be a deadline trade target.

1. Burlington
wins in a walk - all the other teams are rebuilding.
2. Indy's 6 rookies produce enough for #2 finish.
3. Jacksonville doesn't have quite the young ML talent the Sluggers do, but they have enough to get 3rd.
4. Toledo will enter tear-down mode at some point and bring up the rear.
5. Rookie Watch: Indy's Matt Flores, Enrique Velasquez and Julian Lopez.
6. Vets on the Move: the Mud Hens have 2 highly-coveted young veterans in Sp Ruben James and RF Gary Goodwin; the potential return for those 2 could be the nucleus of a rebuilt team.

Double Milestone Alert

Belle's 2 leaders in career HR's - Oakland's Joe Rivera and Richmond's Skip Leon - are both within 2 of longball miletones. Rivera is 2 HR's away from his 500th, and Leon needs 2 to reach 600.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

San Jose, Tucson Add Arms

Prospective contenders are starting to add pitching. The latest deals:

Tucson gets:

LR Enrique Camacho - rookie features very good control and an excellent changeup; like many lefties, he has his problems with righty hitters.

Sioux Falls gets:
2B Edgardo Vazquez - 3rd-year pro is developing pretty good contact skills and still has a couple of years to improve. Projects to be a major-league hitter but defense may limit him to 1B/2B/LF utility duty.
LR Ted Bennett - looks like he'll fall pretty far short of projections, but with 2 good pitches and a 3rd that's decent, he could see ML action.

The skinny: Camacho's the kind of guy who seems to pitch well every other year; Tucson's hoping his first is the good one. If not, he's no worse than most of what they have. The 2 prospects the Presidents got aren't great but could be contributors.

San Jose gets:
SP Carl Benson - lefty with excellent stuff who has never quite put it together in Cincy. Nice change and 4-seam fastball, and tougher on righties than most southpaws. He's had control trouble in the past...he'll need to cut down the walks in the Bees' smaller yard. No disastrous injuries yet, but fragility is a concern.

Cincinnati gets: SP Matty Maduro - last year's #18 pick has a long way to go, but IF he develops well, could be a very good ML starter. Already has a big-league slider, and projects to grade A control and splits. Health is a concern - barring injury, he'll eventually surpass the guy he was traded for.

The skinny: San Jose was likely counting on a Craig Hague promotion to stay in touch with Oakland; his injury forced a move. The Waste Managers are running up the white flag too early imo, but they landed a very nice prospect here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

1-Inning Starting Pitchers?

Recently had an owner ask me how I felt about the practice of pitching a SP only 1 inning, then replacing him with a opposite-handed reliever (run a LHP for 1 inning, then bringing in a righty, for example) to mess up platoon lineups.

I replied that I was OK with it, because 1) it's OK under HBD rules, and 2) I don't think it helps much, if any (for example, an owner in one of my other worlds posted today about a hitter he had who, for 2 years in a row, had almost identical results vs. LHP and RHP - with an 8 vL and an 83 vR).

But I can see that it's a practice that could be considered "legal but unrealistic" (others that come to mind are tanking and letting minor league pitching staffs run down to 0 fatigue).

So I'm curious what we think about it as a league - vote in the poll.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tucson GM Speaks Out On Trade

The JBT caught up with Tucson GM fequrshi this morning to get his comments on the big trade with Austin:

JBT: You had a chance to re-sign Vargas...why didn't you?
fequreshi: He was asking for $7MM a year, he could really only be a DH, and I thought I could get a position player who cold slug.

JBT: You're off to a pretty good do you see the division now?
fequreshi: My preseason goal was 90 wins - it's a stretch goal. More importantly, I feel 81 wins takes the division.

JBT: Why did you make the trade?
fequreshi: I guess my reason for making the trade is the success both Vargas/Madagan are having in part-time duty in Austin (Dell Diamond). They have 30 RBIs combined in part-time duty while my current 1B & DH have 30 RBIs combined in full time duty. With my weak pitching, an extra run or 2 offensively could make the difference in every game.

JBT: What roles will Vargas and Magadan play for the Sidewainders?
fequreshi: Vargas will replace the young rookie Ray Krause at DH. Madagan will play 1B replacing Treinidad Sanchez.

Tucson Makes A Bold Move

The Tucson Sidewinders, off to a good start and perhaps thinking they can end the AL West race early, have obtained veteran "professional hitters" Jose Vargas and Willie Magadan from the Austin Unhinged Chaloupas.

Austin had been platooning Vargas and Magadan in RF, but had recently been actively shopping both players to AL teams. Magadan, 33, is the Belle single-season HR record holder with 73 in Season 5, and is #5 on the all-time list with 443. This season, he's hitting .400 with 5 HR's as a vL platooner. Vargas, 30, returns to the franchise he spent the last 4 years with, although the new park will be more to his liking. He's a .312 lifetime hitter with 393 career HR's. This year, he's hitting .342 with 7 HR's.

Austin gets AAA pitching prospect Eduardo Pena and veterans Shawn Waterson and Sting Helling. Pena was an IFA last season who projects to be perhaps a #3 starter. Waterson and Hellig were just in the deal to make the salaries work, although Helling will take over RF for the Chaloupas this season.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

AL East Season 13 Preview

The AL East improved by 38 wins last season, thanks to big moves by D.C. (19 more wins) and Rochester (23 more wins - most improvement in Belle). But the Katanas won 109 and looked as strong as ever (at least during the regular season). Can Hartford hold off the challengers? Can the Phantom and the Revenge join the elite of the AL?


Hartford: The Katanas' off-season highlight, of course, was the big trade with Syracuse - the offense end of that brought in Luke Joyner, John Tamura and William Pierce for Al Cortez, Marquis Seo and (potential free agent) Rico Brogna. Hartford looks like they're going to lap the field in runs scored and might have 5 or 6 Silver Sluggers this year.

Washington D.C.: the Revenge made a big jump to 4th in runs scored last year and should continue to improve. Victor Morales signaled his approval of the shift to RF by winning the first Player of the Week. He joins 1B Eric Brantley and 3B Vinny Ma as the big run producers in a primarily OBP-oriented offense.

Rochester: The Phantoms trailed only the Katanas in runs scored last year, and have continued to improve. They brought in Wally Reid, one of the league's best CF's, in a trade with Syracuse, and gave the 3B job to 21 year-old Jesus Gomez. Gomez hit .282 in 30 games after signing as an IFA last year. Jose Zurburan was a nice free agent signing and will share the catching duties with Melvin Vina.

Pittsburgh: Clearly a rebuilding year for the Alleghenys, but they have some players to build around. CF Neifi Foster made the All-Star team as a rookie in Season 11 and last year set a new single-season stolen base record with 91. IB Terry Kent finally came into his own as a run producer with 110 RBI. More than immediate offense, the Alleghenys need a long-term plan and the patience to see it through.


Hartford: The Katanas were 2nd in ERA last season, but expect some inflation this year with the move to a cozier park. Luis Gabriel, Edwin Hill and Felipe Seneca came over in trades: Gabriel joins the 6-man rotation, Hill is the lone long reliever, and Seneca jumps into what is likely to be a much-used late-inning crew. So far, runs allowed are even with last year (with runs scored up 23%), so the plan's working.

Washington D.C.: The Revenge was 3rd (but in a virtual tie with Hartford) in ERA last year; their only off-season addition was the promotion of Season 9 1st rounder (#10 overall) Jimmie Feliz. Feliz will likely move into the #1 role shortly on a rather nondescript but highly effective rotation. Brook Wengert shifts from SP to the prime setup role this year, and Benji Martin continues to handle closer duties. Rob Workman probably should stay in AAA all year but could provide some late-season help. Look for a move to get bullpen help by the deadline.

Rochester: The Phantoms' 4.30 ERA was good for 6th this year - they'll have to improve on that to contend in this division. They lost last year's best SP, Ken George, to the Polar Bears in free agency. Rookie Ozzie Johnstone is trying to fill those shoes, but he's struggling so far. Rochester had 9 pitchers record saves last season and continue to go with the committee approach. AAA hurlers Dwight Graham and Jose Guardado could provide some help and may be called on sooner rather than later.

Pittsburgh: The Alleghenys are trotting out a staff of waiver wire guys, rule fivers and AAAA promotees this year, and their numbers will show it. Help is a couple of seasons away, but when it arrives it'll be big: AA SP's Jung Wanatabe (last year's #1 overall) and D'Angelo Cerda (Season 11's #1 overall) are both future Cy Young contenders.

At the moment, I like Hartford's pitching better than D.C.'s - Katanas take the division in a close race.
2. The Revenge keep it close by making moves for pitching, but finish #2.
3. Rochester will have to swing some major moves for pitching to get higher than 3rd - seems a tall order.
4. Pittsburgh waits for their future to arrive in 2 seasons nd patiently rebuilds.
5. Rookie watch: Rochester's 3B Jesus Gomez and D.C.'s SP Jimmie Feliz.
6. Vets on the move: Even though they just acquired him, the Phantoms' CF Wally Reid is the guy who could bring a significant prospect haul shoyld Rochester exit the race early.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

League Divided On AL West Forecast

In contrast to its enthusiastic endorsement of Oakland to win the NL West, the league has expressed no consensus (except maybe indifference) on the AL West race.

In the most recent JBT poll, Tucson and Portland got 2 votes each to win the division, and San Diego and Boise got 1 each.

I'm sticking with my San Diego pick, especially since their pitching is hanging in.

Surenos Shore Up Pitching

Oakland has obtained starting pitcher Rusty Glynn from Richmond for utility man Rafael Macado. Glynn is a 2-time All-Star who has 153 wins and a 3.86 ERA over his 13-year career. His best year was Season 7, in which he went 20-4, 3.35. It's not clear yet what Glynn's role with Oakland will be, but several of their starters have struggled early on.

Macado is a 27 year-old power hitter whose role has diminished in recent years with the emergence from Oakland's farm system of players like Wilfredo Feliz and Erubiel Maduro. His best year was Season 9, with 35 HR's and 89 RBI. It's likely he'll see PT at a number of positions; his bat will be a welcome addition to a lineup that has stuggled in the early going. Macado may eventually settle in at 1B, where the legendary Skip Leon looks like he's nearing the end.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

First Power Rankings

A few surprises in our first Top Ten. Ranked by (first) W-L and (second) run differential.

1. Hartford: Katanas are OPS'ing .982 as a team. That'll get you the top spot even if your pitching hasn't come around yet.

2. Burlington: 22 RBI for Theodore Beckett - another team slugging its way to the top of the rankings.

3. Washington D.C.: Morales is earning his pay so far with a .434/8/18 start.

4. Mexico City: somebody's doing it with pitching - the Desperadoes are sporting a .99 WHIP and a 2.54 ERA.

5. Oakland: Another .982 team OPS - 2B Joe Rivera paces the league in HR's, RBI.

6. Syracuse: 3rd in ERA, 4th in runs; balance...what a concept!

7. Madison: surprising Badgers are 3rd in hitting and 6th in pitching. 6 players over .300 and 6 pitchers under 4.00.

8. Nashville: 2-1, 2.57 start for Luis Martinez; it's pitching and D in Nashville as the Ramblers have only 2 errors and 3 unearned runs.

9. San Jose: Balanced power: Bees have 5 players with 5 HR's.

10. Charleston: Apologists 6th in both runs scored and ERA?

11. Jackson: The Champs' pitching is fine but they're in a collective slump - last in runs scored.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

NL South Season 13 Preview

The NL South was static (maybe even boring) last year...only Mexico City improved (5 wins), and they still didn't get near Charleston. Will anybody shake anything up this year?


Charleston: The Apologists' attack fell off by 76 runs last year to 908 (3rd). That's a nearly 8% drop (NL runs were up 2.2% last year). It's not age - oldest regular is only 32. Andre Brownson already took over as the primary C last year, so Abdul Gload's departure will go unnoticed. Odds are good we'll see a rebound this year to 940-950.

Mexico City: The Desperadoes, on the other hand, pushed across 88 more runs and climbed to 2nd. They gave up some offense in moving SS Clyde Simon to Nashville, but got some back in a deal that secured 3B Aramis Espinoza from Syracuse, a trade that creates a CF surplus - look for them to try to move Ryan Shelley for something, maybe a big bat. Meanwhile, they'll be in the top 3 in runs scored again.

: The Chaloupas young hitters continued to improve last year, scoring 57 more runs (still 7th in the NL), and fans are looking for big things from 1B Marty Daly, 3B Clarence Richard, CF Sid Selby and RF Nap Myatt. So far so good with the Magadan/Vargas "Manny platoon" in LF (7 HR, 14 RBI in 12 games), but one has to think they were both brought in to move at the deadline. More improvement coming this year.

El Paso
: The Karn Evil 9 have been scoring in the 600's for as far back as anyone can remember (I went back to Season 7) and need some shaking up. New management appears intent on a youth movement, as C Vicente Arroyo left in free agency and 1B Derek Foster was traded to Nashville. 25 yo Quilvio Marrero takes over at 1B and rookie Johny Everett looks like he'll get significant PT at 3B. Veteran Harry Rodrigo comes in at RF on a nice economy FA signing. I don't know if they're going to crack 700 this year or not, but things are going the right direction.


Charleston: The Apologists had one of their best pitching years in recent memory, posting a 3.37 ERA to lead the league (again). Matty's coming off one of his best years ever, but he's 39 now and starting to fray at the edges a bit. Kaz Lim is a solid #2, Simpson's still a top closer, and Pasqual Tabaka is an extraordinarily productive steup man. Beyond that, Charleston is famous for getting great performances out of pitchers with marginal ratings (Exhibit A: Daryl McCartney last year). With other signs of aging (LR Carlos Gonzalez), that's becoming a taller order. Chalreston will fall to 4th or 5th this year - they'll be scrambling for pitching at the break.

Mexico City: The Desperadoes were 2nd with a 3.65 ERA last year. Their nearly-1000 inning starting staff is headed by Jesus Javier (17-5, 2.31), Pedro Encarnacion (14-9, 3.43) and Cory Mitchell (15-8, 3.61). Yamil Manzanillo is back from knee surgery and should excel in the setup role. Closer Tony Rodriguez is gunning for a return to his Fireman Of The Year (Season 9) form with his 4-for-4, 0.00 ERA start. These guys will be #1 this year.

Austin: The Chaloupas were 10th last year as they continued to wait for their minor leaguers. They expect improvements this year from Woody Blair (4.67), Trent Diaz (4.50), Tomas Cruz (4.48) and Tuck Barkley (4.97). Season 10 #8 pick Louie Paniagua is likely to spend the entire year in AAA. Minor improvement this year.

El Paso: The Evil 9 were 9th (what else?) last year with a respectable 4.39 ERA. They said goodbye to starters Brooks and Jefferson and brought in free agent relievers Alex Diaz and Rick Miller, but the real fortunes of this staff rest on the arms of 2nd year starters Vince Cross and Midre Jose and veteran Terry Pote. They could also get more help at some point this year from Season 10 #4 pick Alex Russell, who starts the year in AAA. Miller has struggled since his rookie year (10) but will get first shot at the closer. They're going to have some great performances and some terrible performances, and end up with exactly a 4.39 ERA.

1) Mexico City treats the fans south of the border to a pennant.
2) Charleston makes a race of it but age takes its toll this year.
3) El Paso edges Austin for third, as both continue to rebuild
4) Veterans on the move: Austin's Magadan and Vargas almost certainy; The 9 may well get something for Terry Pote this year.
5) Rookie watch: El Paso's Alex Russell

NL West Poll Results

14 of 21 voters said Oakland will win the NL West in the latest JBT poll. Vegas and San Jose garnered 3 votes each, and 1 mystery voter said Tacoma will stage an upset.

Oakland Surenos GM rlahann shared his thoughts on being named the favorite:
"Clearly, it's a league that's not short on intelligence. I'd like to accept this honor by encouraging everyone to trade me some f****** pitching and making this dream a reality."

Friday, September 11, 2009

Opening Day Notes

Turns out Toledo's Al Kingman does NOT have Stuck On Spring Training Pitch Count Setting Syndrome, as previously speculated. The Mud Hens are going with 6 starters in tandem pairs.

Home teams won 10 of the 16 opening games.

The Rest of the Openers

National League

Syracuse plated 4 in the bottom of the 7th, then withstood a 4-run rally by Sioux Falls in the 9th to hold on for an 8-7 win. Daal, Brogna and Hart went yard for the Warriors, while Durbin and Jackson homered for the Stoned Presidents.

Toledo got a 5-hit shutout from starter Al (I still have Spring Training settings on) Kingman and 4 relievers, as the Mud Hens beat Jacksonville 3-0. Norm Rose was the hard-luck loser for the Jokers, allowing 2 runs in 6 innings. Gary Goodwin tripled and drove in 2 for Toledo.

Cory Mitchell allowed 1 run over 7 innings, and Mexcio City got HR's from Hudson, Espinoza and Marrero to take a road win over El Paso. Mitchell fanned 8 and walked 1; Marrero drove in 3 for the Desperadoes.

In Oakland, the Surenos jumped on Las Vegas starter Adrian Jensen for 8 runs in an inning and a third, and cruised to an 11-2 win. William Kwon and Al Trinidad drove in 3 each for the Surenos.

American League

Columbus' big free agent signee Cookie Prieto threw 8 strong innings, allowing 1 run, to pace the Criminals over Madison 6-1. Jose Alvarado had a 3-run jack for Columbus, while Badgers starter Dan Cirillo seems to be suffering from a case of Still Stuck on Spring Training Pitch Count Settings Syndrome.

Hartford took an 8-4 lead to the ninth and survived Pittsburgh's 9th-inning rally for an 8-7 win. Harry Encarnacion had 2 of the Katanas' 6 homers, and Roger Lawson got the save with a big game-ending strikeout. Neifi Foster had 4 hits, a honer and 3 RBI for teh Alleghenys.

Tomas Martin and 2 relievers held Richmond to 6 hits, and Little Rock pounded out 12 in a 6-2 home win. Leadoff man John Lindsay homered among his 4 hits for the Pebbles, and SS Jerry Bernero added a 2-run tater.

Brad Anderson drove in 4 with a homer and a double, and Tucson edged Boise 5-4. The Posse outhit (14 to 10) and outhomered (2 to 1) the Sidewinders, but the snakes concentrated almost all their hits into their 2 scoring innings (1st and 5th). Dingo Rice had 3 hits and 3 RBI for the Posse.

Around The League On Opening Day

American League

Cincinnati got a three-run HR by Carlos Cairo, highlighting a 6-run 9th inning, to break open a tight pitching duel with Augusta and win 8-1. Gary Ramsay went 7 shutout innings with 10 K's for the Waste Managers; Jaque Butler went 8 strong innings for the Polar Bears before the pen imploded.

DH Jay Houston drove in 4 with a HR and a double, giving D.C. a 5-3 win over Rochester. Jose Zurburan homered for the Phantoms in the loss.

Jackson opened its title defense by topping visiting Nashville 7-4. Johnny Collier twirled 6 innings of 2-hit ball to get the W. The Ramblers showed off their power with HR's from Reed, Foster, Cordero and Post, but they were all solos.

San Diego rode HR's by Alex Calvo and Luis Piedra to a 5-run 6th and a come-from-behind 5-3 victory over Portland. Cesar Mendez went 7 for the win and Andres Padilla pitched 2 soreless for the save. Brant Cooney had a 2-run jack for the Bar and Grillers.

National League

Jimmy Martin won a pitcher's duel, as Trenton topped Ottawa 2-1 in a game marked by controversy over a mangerial move. With a 1-0 lead in the 5th (and 2 out, nobody on), the Ice sent Andrew Page to pinch-hit for starter Jorge Dejesus. At the time, Dejesus was cruising with a 2-hit shutout and had thrown only 44 pitches. Page grounded out to end the non-threat. An inning later Dejesus' replacement, Larry Locke, yielded the tying and winning runs.

Burlington and Indianapolis staged a 10-inning barnburner, with the Lake Monsters prevailing 8-7. Burlington took a 5-4 lead in the 9th on a Ralph Martin pinch-hit sac fly, but the Sluggers tied on a Roosevelt McGowan solo blast. The Monsters surged ahead in the 10th on a Tony Kent double and Jeremi Smart's 2-run single, but the Sluggers countered again. They rallied for 2 in bottom 10 and had runners at 1st and third with 2 out, but the rally fell just short as PH Ronnie Stairs flew out to left.

The Willie Magadan acquisition paid early dividends for Austin. The sure Hall-Of-Famer tagged a walkoff solo HR in the bottom of the ninth as the Chaloupas edged defending AL Champ Charleston, 6-5. Tuck Barkley got the win in relief with a scoreless 9th.

Perhaps inspired by their 1 vote to win the NL West in the recent JBT poll, Tacoma pushed San Jose to the brink before falling in 10, 6-5. The Bees' Jesus Vazquez led off the 10th with a solo HR for the game-winner, and Deion Corbin shut down the TIE Fighters on a 1-2-3 10th for the save.

AL South Season 13 Preview

Another step forward for the already-strong AL South last year, which improved by 22 wins (19 by Richmond) and boasted 4 teams over .500. Richmond and Little Rock have already made big moves...can they close the gap on Jackson?


Jackson: The Holes were 3rd in runs scored last year with a healthy 913. The only off-season loss was LF Carlton Carroll, who should be easily replaced by free-swinging rookie Carl Serrano (no relation to Pedro Cerrano of "Major League" fame but the same kind of hitter). Season 9 1st-rounder Omar Freeman also joins the interchangeable-parts IF/CF rotation in a lineup that will likely see 13 players get 200+ AB's again. Repeats of career seasons by 1B Wilson Costello and 2B Geronimo Perez probably aren't in the offing but not impossible; don't hold your breath for a big offensive falloff.

Little Rock: The Pebbles slid from 5th to 8th last year, although they scored only 12 fewer runs (845). And they did it without a lot of power (12th in HR's). Pretty uneventful off-season in Arkansas - 1B Larry Keisler moved on but the Pebbles added Troy Harris to play CF (roughly a push in the power department). Look for similar production this year, although they could be looking for a bat or 2 if they stay in contention.

Richmond: The Poor Men jumped from last to 6th last year, scoring an incredible 132 more runs (857). They'll have a tough time matching that, as SS Alan Leach defected for the big bucks in Tucson. That leaves DH Tony Ueno (.295/56/130) and 2B Tomas Cruz (.260/35/106) as the only big-time run-producers. Career HR leader Skip Leon will help, but at 36, ain't the deep threat anymore.

Nashville: The Music City Ramblers scored 18 more runs last year (846) but dropped from 6th to 7th. Notable additions include rookie RF Lance Reed, a Season 9 1st-rounder, and 1B Derek Foster, who should find the dimensions of Herschel Greer more to his liking than those of Citibank Field. They join C Elder, 2B Cordero, 3B Post, and LF Schmidt to make it 6 players capable of 30+ HR's. 900 runs is a distinct possibility.


Jackson: The Holes improved their league-leading ERA to 3.53 last year (in a year when scoring was up a little). They return the staff almost entirely intact: 3-time Cy Young winner Johnny Collier leads the rotation, with 3rd-year man Del Mendoza at #2. Victor Sosa handles setup duties and Orlando Diaz is the Mitch Williams-like (only more effective) closer. I just have 1 question about the best pitching staff in the league: how do they get a LR with a 37 vR to produce ERA's of 3.71 and 4.06 the last 2 seasons?

Little Rock: The Pebbles also improved their ERA (to 4.21) but fell from 3rd to 4th. Their only offseason move was to bring up Keith Benson to replace the departed Dutch Pavano in the pen. Del Ramirez (13-7, 2.86) heads the young rotation, and Quentin Houston (3.31 ERA in 119 IP) and Geoff Sosa (42 of 52 saves, 3.29 ERA) form one of the league's best late-inning combos. No reason to expect any big changes in production, but here's another team that could be looking for pitching if they're in the hunt at mid-season.

Richmond: The Poor Men also knocked some points off the ERA (4.28) and stayed at 5th. With one of the youngest and most promising rotations in the AL, they concentrated on shoring up the pen this offseason. They traded for Dutch Pavano (3.36 ERA in 61 IP) and Patrick Shaw (4.88 ERA in 62 IP), and are counting on a return to Season 11 form by closer Jacob Franklin (45 of 47 saves, 2.06 in Season 11). Billy Ray Buford and Charlie Cosby made impressive starting debuts last year, and Wascar Encarnacion has now posted solid numbers in his first 2 seasons. Ronnie Johnstone has the stuff (right at a strikeout an inning), but needs to tame the walks (one every other inning). Look for a move up this year.

Nashville: The Ramblers improved their ERA slightly (4.97) but were still well below the league average at 13th. Remember "Spahn and Sain and pray for rain"? Well, last year's Ramblers mantra was "Harold Bryant and pray for 4 days of rain", as the ROY runnerup with the handlebar moustache posted a 16-13, 3.91 in an impressive 230 innings of work. And despite wholesale changes, it's likely to be a similar mantra this year. The only other particularly promising arm on the staff is 2nd-year man Yorvit Manuel, who gets a shot at the closer job after struggling there last year (.288 OAV). Still, we expect some improvements as Manuel matures and they get a couple of nice surprises from the newcomers.


Jackson had everything go right last year; we see them coming off those 113 wins a bit but still winning the division comfortably.
2. Richmond and Little Rock will battle for 2nd and both top 90 wins again (although I thik both will have to make more moves to get there); right now we see the Poor Men by a whisker.
3. The Pebbles take third in Belle's toughest division.
4. The Ramblers improve on 82 wins - it's not beyond belief that this division could have 4 90-game winners.
5. Rookies to watch: Jackson's LF Carl Serrano, Little Rock's 2B Frank Baker, Richmond's AAA CF Albert Harmon, and Nashville's AAA SS Emil Morales.
6. Big names on the move: if the Pebbles fall behind early, the temptation to get something for Lon Andrews may become overwhelming.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Breaking Down The Megatrade

Two of Belle's top teams, Syracuse and Hartford, have just agreed to the biggest trade in recent memory (maybe in league hitory). Here's how it breaks down:

Syracuse gets:
2B Rafael Brogna: Former MVP and multi-All-Star and Silver Slugger, easily one of the top 5 position players in the league. Salary is $10.7MM, and he can be a free agent after this year, so he's possibly a 1-year rental for Syracuse (only crump knows for sure).

1B Marquis Seo: Lifetime .327 hitter with 257 HR's in 7 complete seasons. Needs to take a few games off every year, but that's a minor flaw. Salary is $6MM and has 3 years to run on his contract.

3B Al Cortes: Not a big power threat but a good contact hitter (.287 over 3 seasons) and a steady glove (Gold Glove at 2B Season 10). This is his first arbitration year.

SP Vance Scutaro: 31-22, 4.65 over 3 seasons for the Katanas. Good control, decent sinker/curveball, just-OK splits. There's surely a place in the Warrior rotation for him, I'm just not sure he'll help much. 1st arbitration year.

SP Rob Jenkins: Found it in Season 11 with 16 wins/4.38 ERA, but lost it big-time last year with a 6.30 ERA (and 61 BB's in 110 IP). His stuff is plenty good to be effective, but erratic control makes him unpredictable. 1st arbitration year.

SP Bailey Anderson (AAA): Pretty good stuff but he's always going to struggle against righties. If he's in the majors with Syracuse they're in trouble.

Hartford gets:
1B Luke Joyner: Season 11 ROY with .307/42/125, followed up with .318/45/125 last year. One of the league's premier hitters. Still a year away from arbitration.

OF John Tamura: .314/33/109 in his first full season last year. May not win a batting title, but I bet he gets close. Can credibly field 5 positions. A year away from arbitration.

2B/3B William Pierce: Power-hitting IF with a trunk-full of Silver Sluggers and All-Star appearances. Drove in 140 runs in Season 9 for Columbus. Big price tag at $11.125 MM, with 4 years left on the contract.

SP Luis Gabriel: Nice rookie season in Chicago but struggled last year. Fair control, good 4-seam fastball and he's tough on righties. Gives up a lot of flyballs - not the recipe for Hartford. 2 years before arbitration.

RP Felipe Seneca (AAA): Good-looking short relief prospect with that exploding slider and a very good change. His splits aren't great, but with pitches like that I think he'll be pretty good. Hartford's pen will be tough to crack, but I'm betting he gets a shot.

Salary difference this year: Syracuse adds $8.3MM

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

AL West Season 13 Preview

Last year was a definite downer for the AL West (40 fewer wins than Sea 11), with Boise the only team at .500. San Diego regressed a little after a 3-year improvement, San Fran (now Tucson) stumbled badly and Portland launched an all-out rebuilding program. How does the the division look for this year?


Boise: The Posse had excellent power production (3rd in HR's) last year, but lacked the table-setters (12th in OBP, 1st in strikeouts) to capitalize (8th in runs scored). 2B Mariano Pulido and LF Robinson Bird had career years; some falloff likely there. With no new blood other than 2B Rob Stein, it's hard to see how the Posse will match last year's production. Not that it's an offensive subject, but Boise hasn't addressed the defensively offensive 70 errors at SS last season.

San Diego: The Surf Babies finished 14th in runs scored last year, and even though that's somewhat a function of Petco, they need an offense infusion to improve from 70 wins. They traded for CF Alex Calvo after losing Vic Pascual to FA; Calvo OPS'd .784 last year, so he should be an adequate replacement on offense. They also signed C Abdul Gload (lifetime .296 BA) and 3B Luis Piedra (.335/34/114 for Hartford last year), who should be significant upgrades. They join RF Ray Henley (.265/31/112) as the primary run producers. I'm predicting a move up to 10th for the Babies.

Tucson: Nowhere to go but up as the Sidewinders could only push across 672 runs (16th) last year. The good news is that new management has come up with probably the most-revised offense in Belle, starting with the ballpark. AT&T was a flyball-killer; Tucson Electric is a hitter-friendly bandbox, a plus for both power hitters like C Brad Anderson and contact guys like RF Jeff Ennis. New faces include headline FA signing Alan Leach (307 career HR's), LF Alex Paniagua (trade), and rookies Leonardo Hardy (2B), Ray Krause (RF/DH) and ROY candidate Carlos Escuela (3B).
I don't know how many more runs they'll score, but it'll be entertaining. In that park, I'm saying 880 runs and a 5th-place offense.

Portland: Will probably struggle again (15th last season) as the rebuilding continues. C William Katou remains one of the top receivers in the league, and could very well become a big trade deadline chip. The league still awaits a monster breakout year by 1B Brant Cooney. Even with the ballpark working against him, I have a feeling this is the year. Frank Suzuki makes his ML debut this season (although his position is unclear) and could be another AL West ROY contender. Look for a mild improvement.


Boise: The Posse fell from 4th to 9th in team ERA last year (and still won 4 more games). FA brought in LR Jimmie Navarro and said goodbye to a handful of anonymous (and relatively ineffective) LR's (replaced by cheaper ones, at least). The starters come back intact, lead by Milton Starr (10-11, 3.96), and need to step it up a notch. Crash Carter slipped last year as the primary setup man, and need to return to his rookie form. P.T. Navarro hasn't lived up to his vast potential yet; I'm betting he enters the ranks of elite closers this year. The division will be improved this year; the Posse will have to bolster the staff to stay in the race.

San Diego: The Surf Babies improved slightly to 7th last season. Their quartet of Ordaz, Padilla, Speier and Thomas was one of the best late-inning groups in the league last year. The starters are a collection of #3's who could really suck or be pretty good - with the improved offense they might be good enough. Another team that will likely look to add starting pitching if they find themselves in the race.

Tucson: got their ERA under 5 last year (4.87 - 11th), so that's at least some improvement. They lost Carlos Vizquel (32 starts, 4.62 ERA) to free agency and added 3 LR's, most notably Daryle McCartney (1.93 in 65 IP for Charleston). The big problem here is the thing that will pump up their offense (the park) is also going to pump up the pitching numbers - guys who were OK in SF could be awful in Tucson. Still, there's some young talent: Rudy Merrit (12-10, 3.51) had a nice rookie year, and Theodore Fox and Al Taylor have the stuff to put up decent numbers. Tough one to predict, but you have to think their pitching is going to slide a little.

Portland: with the departure of 4/5ths of their starting staff to free agency (most notably Frank Huff's $90MM deal with Burlington), the Bar & Grillers elected to start rebuilding form the ground up. And their 16th-place ERA showed it. It will keep showing it this year, too, as the staff is mostly minor-leaguers and waiver wire guys, none of whom (except possibly Nick Rando) will be around when this team starts to make a move. My prediction that they finish 16th in ERA again is the only one I would bet anything on.


1. Boise is probably a better pick, but I see San Diego squeaking by them to win the division.
2. The Posse comes in 2nd, but misses a wildcard.
3. Tucson improves by 10-12 games to get within hailing distance of the division leaders.
4. Portland's offense will be better - they'll win a few more but are in full-on rebuild mode.
5. This is the year William Katou moves to a contender; he's 31 and two seasons from free agency - he'll never be worth more than he is now.
6. Rookies Frank Suzuki (POR) and Carlos Escuela (TUC) have big seasons in the chase for AL ROY. I say Escuela wins it.

Monday, September 7, 2009

First IFA

Willie Duran became the first International Free Agent to sign in Season 13, inking a minor league contract ($6.3MM bonus) with the Pittsburgh Alleghenys. Duran projects to be a strong-armed third baseman with moderate offensive upside. He starts his HBD career in AA.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Winter Meetings Conclude

Early AM in the Grand Ballroom of Harrah's - Shreveport, the day after the Rule 5 Draft. Empty save for the lone cleaning crew gradually eroding the tide of Joey Belle detritus - Yoo-Hoo and Cutty Sark bottles, Domino's boxes, and McDonald's cheeseburger wrappers. 27 trades and 15 A/B free agent signings after beginning, the Joey Belle Winter Meetings conclude. The final Winter Meeting trades and A/B signings:


gets: RP Oswaldo Borbon and SP Peter Bolton
gets: 1B Willie Magadan
The league's trend of dumping the contracts of aging stars for not much continues, as the Ramblers get a couple of minor league pitchers (OK they could get a few innings for a rebuilding team). The surprise here is Magadan's destination, as the Chaloupas are still rebuilding and are also set at 1B with All-Star Marty Daly.

Madison gets: SP Trent Lewis
San Diego gets: SP Jeromy Gordon and utility Pascual Castro
The Badgers were looking for one more inexpensive SP/LR and found one for a couple of minor leaguers. Lewis has nice pitches and good sinking action, but poor control and has trouble with righties. Looks like he'll still get a chance to stick with the Big Club though. Gordon and Castro are both 2-3 years from ML action and project to be somewhere between fringe major-leaguers and "useful as long as they're cheap".

Hartford gets SP Edwin Hill, SS Alfredo Lopez and 2B Duke Stuart
Nashville gets DH Tom Speier, RP Otto Lieberthal and LR Cyrus Lee
The Ramblers dump Hill's contract, and get a hitter who can help in Speier. Hill probably won't make Hartford's sinkerball-oriented rotation, but could help in long relief. The Katanas also nab a couple of potentially useful prospects: Lopez has some potetntial as a 2B/3B utility man, and Stuart's excellent contact skills, especially against righties, should eventually land him a platoon role.

A/B Free Agents

Kevin Brooks SP - Rochester, 2 years/$4.6MM. Brooks is a hard-throwing sinker/slider pitcher who has to stay low to be effective. He's tough on righties but put him away against lefty-heavy lineups. He had his best season in a big ballpark in Toledo in Season 10; the Phantoms are hoping this budget signee can recapture that magic. Grade B.

Jose Vargas DH - Austin, 4 years/$21.2MM. Vargas is a monster bat with stone hands and no range, meaning he's made to DH. I don't really know why I signed this guy, except I just couldn't pass on that bat for the price. Early rumors have him as part of a "Manny platoon" in LF with Willie Magadan. Grade C.

Cesar Figueroa 3B - Oakland, 1 year/$2.815MM. The versatile Figueroa can back up at 1B, 2B, 3B, LF and RF. He's not going to be an offensive force, but he is a lifetime .274 hitter and can draw a walk. Nice addition for a 1-year contract. Grade A.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Rule 5 Top 5

The pickin's were slim in the Rule 5 this year (a good thing); still, some talent always slips through and there are the inevitable surprises. Here are our top 5 picks in the Rule 5 this year:

#1 - Indianapolis, Dan McCartin LF - a .329 hitter in 4 minor league seasons, he's best suited for 1B or LF. Not great at making contact, but adequate power, splits and eye. He could help Indy this year, but the Sluggers have enough 1B and COF types - McCartin may end up as part of a deal for a CF or 3B.

#2 - Jacksonville, Everett Remilinger SS - also a 4-year minor leaguer (but none above HiA), he'll be an all-over utility man for the Jokers. His bat will be good enough against lefties for a year or two, and his defense will be excellent everywhere but SS and CF (and good enough there).

#3 - Pittsburgh, Matthew Haas LR - Haas was a first-round pick in Season 9 (#28) who has had decent success in the minors, but hasn't pitched enough to fully develop. His command of 4 pitches has always been the intrigue - the question is whether that's enough to overcome those 50's splits. We'll see this year...he's getting a shot with the Allegheny's.

#4 - Tucson, Glenn Moore RP - has midling-good splits, 2 very good pitches, and keeps the ball down. The biggest knock on him is his control, but I think it'll be OK. Probably the Rule 5 pick with the best shot at having a good ML season.

#5 - Tacoma, Alfredo Everett OF/1B - 2nd-best pick in the Rule 5. His splits and eye aren't great, but he'll make decent contact and has some power. Tacoma's position players are much improved this year, so he may have a hard time getting PT; when he does he could see action at 1B, LF, and (in a pinch) 2B.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

NL West Season 13 Preview

The NL West was the best race in Belle last year, with Oakland, San Jose and Las Vegas battling until the last week and all three winning 90+ games. An infusion of young talent propelled the division to 26 more wins last year; can they repeat that performance? Who'll come out on top?


Oakland: The Surenos improved by over 100 runs (5th in league) thanks to excellent rookie campaigns by rookies J.T. Burns (.279/41/98) and Erubiel Maduro (.256/39/88); Wilfredo Feliz' best season yet (.318/30/100, plus 54 SB); and big years from Zhang (.313/27/98), Rivera (55 HR's) and Kwon (9th straight season of 20+ HR at SS). No off-season losses of note, and they added Valerio Bonilla as a backup and Al Trinidad (23 HR in part-time duty last year) as a backup C/pinch hitter. It would be easy to predict a little falloff this year, but they're young and still improving. I see 950 runs and possibly the league's best offense.

San Jose: The Bees improved even more (by 120 runs to 850 - 6th), due to a monster ROY campaign by Derek Walker (.302/46/116), a bunch of small improvements by familiar faces (York Wilson up 100 OPS points, Tim Murray up 75, Patrick Bell up 80, Emil Guerrero up 115 points), and nice contributions by budget free agents Frank Nicholson (.274/15/69) and Bart Hall (.261/17/47). I love how they did it last year...just call me a little skeptical that they can do it again. Watch for a falloff to 830 runs this year.

Las Vegas: The 69'ers were 4th in runs last year (894) and return pretty much intact. They lost part-time C Al Trinidad to free agency; Brendan Keeler was the primary catcher and he'll get help from rookie Bill Wengert, a 2nd-round pick in the Season 9 "Mother of all drafts". SS Magglio Pineda is also gone, although his .968 fielding percentage and 9 "-" plays didn't recommend him much. Aurelio Ortiz won't be much better, but AAA SS Tony Garces could help defensively. COF's John Li (.322/32/115) and Hughie Bruskie (.300/48/132) remain the prime run producers. Look for them to be right around 894 again this year.

Tacoma: The TIE Fighters brought up the rear with 588 runs last year, but things are looking up with a slew of promising young players. Free agency yielded perhaps the league's best defensive CF (and 30-HR man) Vic Pascual and SS Tony Soriano (an upgrade both on offense and defense. They'll also showcase the best rookie crop in the division, with C Jacob Nomura, 1B Sammy Gonzalez, RF Ernest Farr and possibly 2B Cookie Corder ready to make the jump. Some growing pains still to come, but I'll say 735 runs.


Oakland: The Surenos were 4th in ERA last year at 3.96 and have concentrated on rebuilding their pen after the FA defections of Grace, Martin and Parnell - Patsy White, Russell Forest and Clyde Jackson should be a slight improvement but won't replace all the innings. Joe Hodges kicked around for 5 years before finding it in Oakland - last year was his best yet with 17 wins and a sterling 2.66 ERA. Andy Wilson remains a top closer, but the rest of the starting roles are up in the air. Hard to see a repeat of last year.

San Jose: The Bees jumped from 6th to 3rd last season with a 3.87 ERA. Midre Estrade (16-8, 3.12) heads a solid staff that's joined by Bernie Tejada (12-11, 4.49). Deion Corbin heads the closer committee that soread saves around to 8 pitchers last year. Watch for rookie Craig Hague to make a big impact when he comes up from AAA.

Las Vegas: Vegas stayed in the race last year despite its 4.54 ERA (1oth) and needs a boost from somewhere. So far they're sticking with last year's plan: start ace Adrian Jensen as many times as they can and somehow get it to late-inning guys Al Borges and Juan Gomez with a lead. Gomez was terrific as a rookie and has all the signs of a truly dominating closer. Their key to the season may be recoveries from off years by SP's Yamamoto and Miyakzi.

Tacoma: Tacoma trotted out a respectable staff (4.28 ERA - 8th) and needs repeat performances from (especially) 2nd-year SP Dale Barker (32 starts, 2.96) and veterna lefty Barry Carew. While some pundits question a 61-win team signing the 36 year-old Rafael James, he should provide some short-term help. Mike Simpson is a solid closer and is capably set up by Richard Mayne and Brett Holmes. Their rookie arms don'tmatch the rookie bats, but Javier Batista could see action with the big club this year.


1. Another 3-way race coming down to the last week: for no great reason, I'm gonna pick Vegas.
2. Oakland's offense carries them to 2nd place and a wild card.
3. San Jose will be in it all year, but they miss the 2nd wildcard by a whisker.
4. Tacoma's rookies get them over 70 wins.
5. Rookies to watch: Hague (San Jose), Wengert (LV), and Nomura (Tacoma)
6. Deadline sellers take note: all 3 contenders will be scrambling for pitching after the break.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Winter Meetings Winding Down

Approaching the end of the Winter Meetings, trades and free agent signings have slowed considerably, but we still have a few notable transactions to report.

3 more Type A/B free agents have signed:

William Kondou SP - San Diego, 2 years/$9MM. The Surf Babies continue their aggressive acquisition program. Kondou features very good control and a tough sinker, although it's much more effective against righties. Originally an Int'l Free Agent signed by Jackson, he has 58 wins and a 4.95 ERA over 8 seasons. He'll compete for a starting job, although his limited number of quality pitches and his best season (10, mostly used in relief) suggest he's best out of the pen. Grade: B

Daniel McDowell SS - Richmond, 3 years/$16.2MM. Richmond fans, say "hi" to Alan Leach's replacement. He won't hit like Leach, although he should be adequate for a SS, and should be about as the same defensively. With Harry Adams to give McDowell an occasional day off and be a defensive replacement, SS will still be well-patrolled for the Poor Men. Given the economical price tag, this is Grade A.

Alan Leach SS - Tucson, 4 years/$$54MM. Leach is arguably the "other" superstar in this year's FA class. He's among the 3 or 4 best offensive SS's in the league - still capable of 35+ HR's (as last year's 38 attests) and maybe 40+ in the Tucson Electric bandbox. It's perhaps a mild surprise that he signed with Tucson, but I like the signing. Rochester improved by 23 wins last year: if Tucson matches that and gets to 81 wins, who knows? And with rookies Leonardo Hardy and Carlos Escuela taking over 2B abd 3B, Tucson suddenly looks a lot better. Grade A.

And we've 3 more trades of late:

Augusta gets: SP Carter Jefferson
El Paso gets: C Vladimir Ordonez and SP Alan Bigley
The Polar Bears get a back-of-rotation guy for a reasonable price. It'll be 2 or 3 years before we know if Bigley will have a ML career, but it's plausible. Crystal Ball says: pretty much a no-risk move for Augusta; El Paso's potential benefits are years away.

Nashville gets: RP Charlie Hernandez
Richmond gets: RP Haywood Cox
Having shored up their pen, the Poor Men ship out a reliever looking for a shot this year for a similar (lively arm, wild) prospect. Hernandez gets excellent, late movement on his sinker/slider/circle change assortment but has chronic control trouble. Cox is a similar pitcher, ut has a few more years to try to develop his control. Crystal Ball says: Ramblers give Hernandez a shot this year, but he flops.

Syracuse gets: C Lonny Campbell
Little Rock gets: C Patrick Herman
Exchange of pitch-calling, defensive savant catchers. Both could hang around the AAA-to-backup ML'er gravy train for awhile. Herman is a bit better hitter so more likley to have any impact this year. Crystal Ball says: gimme a blockbuster to say something about.