Thursday, January 28, 2010

Summary of the Upcoming Update

For those of you who didn't read about it on the HBD Forum, there's a pretty significant update coming next week. Here are the high points:

1) Hall of Fame: worlds will now be able to start electing retired players to their (the world's) HOF. Players will be automatically nominated if they've hit certain (very lofty) career numbers, and owners will also be able to nominate other players. The nominations and voting will take place during Spring Training each year, which to me is the biggest plus of the whole thing.

As a world that will be starting its 15th season next year when we have our first HOF nominations, we're likely to have some inductees. Should make the chat a lot more lively during ST.

2) 40-Man Roster Update: pretty big change here - up until now, we could remove players with options from the 40-man roster at will. No we'll have to expose ANY player to waivers to remove from the 40-man roster. All kinds of minor impacts here: teams will probably think twice about giving ML contracts to desirable IFA's; more fringe minor-leaguers will probably show up on waivers instead of hanging out on 40-man rosters until they're 34; more, for a couple.

3) HR update: WIS says they over-corrected with the HR update and will (try to) adjust so HR's go up again. HR's/game were 2.8 before the last update, and have fallen to 2.00 after. They say they're shooting for 2.4.

4) Prospect Budgets: There was a lot of talk in recent weeks about capping the amount of $$ teams could spend from prospect budget to $30MM. Even though the forum chat was close to unanimous in favor of the move, WIS pulled this change with no explanation.

Monday, January 18, 2010

NL At the Half

Hard to believe another half season has flown by. Here's how things stand in the AL.

Syracuse has been cruising in first all season, enjoying a world-best 2.70 ERA. Sioux Falls would be leading 4 other divisions and currently sits in the first wildcard spot. Outstanding Position Player: Marquis Seo, Syracuse. Outstanding Pitcher: Brian Nakajima, Syracuse. Outstanding Rookie: Jim Olson, Sioux Falls


Burlington is on the way to its 3rd straight NL East crown. The rest of the division remains in rebuilding mode. Outstanding Player: Gary Goodwin, Toledo. Outstanding Pitcher: Don Young, Jacksonville. Outstanding Rookie: Joshua Simon, Indianapolis.

Austin has opened up a 10-game lead over Mexico City. The Desperadoes have some work to do to make the playoffs for hte 7th straight year - they're 8 back of Vegas for the 2nd wildcard. Outstanding Player: Kevin Grabowski, Austin. Outstanding Pitcher: Woody Blair, Austin. Outstanding Rookie: Dan Lowery, El Paso.

Oakland has been nothing short of the most dominant NL team since Season 7's 122-game winning Charleston Apologists. Las Vegas is winning at an outstanding .609 clip and has an 8-game cushion for the 2nd wildcard. Outstanding Player: Joe Rivera, Oakland. Outstanding Pitcher: Gary Ramsay, Oakland. Outstanding Rookie: Craig Hague, San Jose.

JBT Official Predictions
North - Syracuse, although not a runaway (#2 seed)
East - Burlington gets 3rd straight (#4 seed)
South - Austin makes 1st playoff appearance in 11 seasons (#3 seed)
West - Oakland coasts (#1 seed)
1st Wildcard - Las Vegas (#5 seed)
2nd Wildcard - Sioux Falls (#6 seed)

Division Play-In's: 2 more wildcard winners: Vegas over Burlington and Sioux Falls over Austin (easy call, I'm playoff-snakebit)

Division Round: Syracuse knocks of Sioux Falls; Oakland over Las Vegas.

ALCS: The rematch of lat year's team's has a different result: Oakland advances to its 2nd WS.

AL At The Half

Hard to believe another half season has flown by. Here's how things stand in the AL.

Madison's recent hot streak has gotten them back into the race, 3 games back of the Waste Managers, and 6 back in the wildcard. Outstanding Position Player: Jose Polanco, Madison. Outstanding Pitcher: Cesar Velazquez, Cincinnati. Outstanding Rookie: Martin Munro, Cincinnati.


Cleveland is "only" on a 108-win pace, and so far, D.C. has been able to keep up (2 games back). Rochester's improved pitching has them 1-game out of the wildcard. Pittsburgh's free agent signees have sparked the offense; their young pitchers aren't quite there yet. Outstanding Player: (tie) Victor Morales, D.C., and Jacque Fitzgerald, Cleveland. Outstanding Pitcher: Rob Workman, D.C. Outstanding Rookie: Rob Workman, D.C.

Jackson has the league's best record and a 6-game lead over Little Rock. Outstanding Player: Wilson Costello, Jackson. Outstanding Pitcher: Geoff Sosa, Little Rock. Outstanding Rookie: D'Angelo Cerda, Pittsburgh.

Portland and Boise are locked in a tight race, with San Diego just 5 back. If Tucson could get their pitching staff up to just mediocre, it's not hard to imagine a 4-team race. Outstanding Player: (tie) Jose Vargas, Tucson and Brant Cooney, Portland. Outstanding Pitcher: P.T. Navarro, Boise. Outstanding Rookie: Groucho Priest, Portland

JBT Official Predictions
North - I liked Cincy last year, they'll win it this year
East - D.C. overhauls Cleveland in my upset special
South - Jackson's too tough
West - Tossup: Coin flip says Boise
1st Wildcard - Cleveland
2nd Wildcard - Little Rock holds off Nashville and Madison

Division Play-In's: 2 wildcard winners: Cleveland tops Boise and Little Rock over Cincinnati

Division Round: D.C. takes out Little Rock; another classic CLE/JAC series, this team CLE wins

ALCS: The Revenge make theri first trip to the WS since the glory days of Season 1

Saturday, January 16, 2010

HBD Tips 9 and 10: trade opportunities and player evaluation

(thanks to rugby1 for these tips)

I frequently read the DL to see what trade opportunities will arise.

I may put too much importance on the character rating but I like the combination of high character and high health ratings. Keeps the DL trips down and lessens the amount needed to be alloted to med expenses.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Recent Trades Report

Trading has been in its usual start-of-season to All-Star break lull, but there have been a few notable deals as contenders tried to get a jump on the deadline.

Nashville Gets: ML 2B/OF Vance Carter
HiA C Jay Timmons
AAA SP Dennys Williams
Ottawa Gets:
ML RF Ray Henley
Low A C Rafael Gonzalez
The Ice add another piece to one of the NL's up-and-coming lineups. Nashville had been shopping Henley, presumably for pitching. They get Carter, who has had a couple of good seasons but is best-suited for a utility role; Timmons, who seems destined to top out at AAA, and Williams, who has a couple of nice pitches but also a host of control problems.

Columbus Gets: AAA 1B/LF Andrew Davis
AAA RP Buzz Lindsey
Austin Gets: ML SP Fred West
No secret the Chaloupas were after another starter; once the Criminals relented on including Tommy Lloyd, Austin bit. West has always had a high-voltage arm and rare fits of control. He's off to his best start ever; naturally the Austin debut was Laloosh-like: new league records for walks, hit mascots, etc. in a 3-inning stint. Davis is exactly the kind of player who becomes a mystery under the new update: devastating power but middling-to-mediocre everywhere else. He'll likely make his ML debut next year. Lindsey isn't a FOY candidate but will likely have a long and pretty successful setup career.

Oakland Gets: ML RP Pedro Fernandez
Nashville Gets: AAA RP Del Tracy
AAA RP Michael Burnitz
HiA 1B Daryl DaVanon
Fernandez joins a cast of thousands (most of whom are pitching lights-out) in the Oakland pen; he may have been brought in as injury insurance. Tracy and Burnitz could see ML action until they hit arb...probably not much longer. DaVanon is stricly minors filler.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Effects Of The "Deadball Era"

Well, our latest poll gave us a few ideas of what the deadball era means in terms of player values.

All the voters seemed to agree that defense and pitching have become more valuable; the mystery seems to be what the new reality means to power hitters.

3 voters said the changes mean power is worth less. But 4 voters said power is now worth more because it's a scarcer commodity (presumably the same voters said pitching and defense were worth more, too).

One thing's for sure: don't base your trade, draft and FA decisions on a blog poll that had 8 or 9 respondents.

But I can tell you I'm rethinking where the value is. We're late in the season in Double Mendoza. I've got a comfy lead in the division and a first round bye locked. Been talking with another team about trading for his stud 1B at the beginning of next season, and he wants a CF prospect I picked up as an IFA in the current season.

Now this 1B is maybe the best hitter in the league - hitting ratings 86/96/73/95/81. Only 27 at the beginning of next season, 3 years left on a contract at $7.6 per. And with patience of 70, decent chance he would re-sign at the end of that one.

The CF prospect will probably end up with hitting ratings around 50/80/64/80/90, range 88, glove 90+.

Before the update, I'd do the trade for the 1B no question. Now I'm wondering if the CF isn't the more valuable piece.

And I'm one of the guys who said power is more valuable now because it's rarer.

AL West Season 14 Preview

Tucson improved by a Belle-best 31 games last year and ran away with the AL West. Portland improved by 16 games while rebuilding, and Boise and San Diego both dropped 8 off their Season 12 totals.


: While just about every team's scoring is down, the Posse seems to be in a particularly bad collective slump (7th in runs last year, 13th this year). LF Gil Chang (.296/10/31) and CF Rick Clontz (.295/4/35) are the only starters measuring up to last year's numbers. Robinson Bird (30 HR's last year, 3 this year), Bucky Gordon (41 HR's last year, 7 this year), Pep Stevenson (29 HR's last year, 3 this year) and Chin-Hui Song (29 HR's last year, 5 this year) are experiencing major power outages and need to turn it around. Trend (-)

San Diego
: The Surf Babies were last in runs last season, and remain there in a rebuilding year. They're starting a number of rookies, some of whom probably came up too early, and they're all struggling. Add in down seasons from vets Abdul Gload, Diego Coronado, and Luis Piedra, and you've got a real scoring shortage. Trend (-)

Another team that's backed up, falling from 2nd in runs last year to 7th this season. The power numbers are actually holding up (4th in HR's) - Vargas, Leach, Escuela, Paniagua and Anderson all have 10+ longballs; but they've dropped from 4th all the way to 11th in OBP. Too late for a turnaround? Not in the AL West. Trend (-)

Portland: As of this writing the Bar & Grillers have taken over the Al West lead, but not because of their offense - 14th in runs, 15th in OBP, 14th in slugging. There are bright spots: 1B Brant Cooney is following up last year's monster with a sold campaign (.296/15/53), rookie LF Groucho Priest (.291/7/22) has been a pleasant surprise, and RF Miguel Camacho (.262/12/39) has been an unexpected power source. If Suzuki and Katou can get on track the Grillers might run away with the West. Trend (even)


Boise: More evidence of the dawn of the "dead ball era": the Posse's team ERA is lowet by .73 runs per game this year, and they've moved up 1 spot in the pitching rankings. P.T. Navarro (6-2, 2.81) leads the staff, and he's getting excellent bullpen support from Eric Dickerson (2.31), Dennis Delaney (2.70) and Barney Jacquez (2.80). Orber Carrasco (3-8 5.32) is struggling: they need him to find it if they're going to stay in the race. Trend (+)

San Diego: 9th in ERA last year, a little above the league average, the Surfers have dropped to 10th. The good news: Kyle Neal, Sal Speier, and Horacio Valdes have thrown a ton of quality relief innings (all with ERA's under 2.60); and starters Andres Padilla (5-4, 2.91), Fernando Nieto (4-4, 4.15), and Mike Bass (4-5, 4.23) have been solid. There's help on the farm in Javier Benitez and Desi Zurburan; let's hope the Babies don't get too impatient with them. Trend (+)

: The Sidewinders' staff has completely imploded. In a season where scoring is down 7%, Tucson's ERA has gone from 5.19 to 8.00...EIGHT! Last year's 21-game loser, Rudy Merritt, has been their best pitcher (3-7, 4.06) and the only one worthy of mention. About the best we can say at this point is there's no way these guys can be this bad in the second half. Trend (-)

Portland: The Grillers' rise in the standings is directly related to their improved pitching. Portland is this year's poster child for savvy free agent spending: Rudy Knorr (6-5, 3.53) is a modest $5.8MM, Vance Scutaro (6-4, 3.86) an even less extravagent $5.2MM, and Jacob Martin (a hard-luck 2-9, 3.97) is still a bargain at $6.75MM. Trend (+)


1. I'll say Portland takes the division by a nose
2. Boise a close second
3. Can't believe Tucson stays this bad...they rally for 3rd
4. The team I picked to win the division last year (SD)...well, at least they're rebuilding in earnest now.
5. Rookie Watch: Portland's Groucho Priest
6. Vets on the move: It's probably San Diego's last chance to get something for Luis Piedra and Abdul Gload

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

NL West Season 14 Preview

Oakland improved 12 games to an NL-best 107 wins, while their Season 12 close pursuers, San Jose and Las Vegas, both fell back. Fresno improved 8 games and has new management and young talent. The Surenos are probably the favorites at the start of the season, but the Bees and 69ers both have a lot of talent and could make it close.


Oakland: Led the league in almost every offensive category last year, and there's no reason to think that will change in Season 14. There's power at every spot in the lineup (3B Willie Uribe was low among starters with 18 HR's) and plenty of speed, too (124 steals). With the "steroid era" over, I don't think Joe Rivera will hit 65 HR's again (but as I write this he's hit 5 HR's and driven in 16 in his last 2 games), but he'll still be a preeminent power hitter. J.T Burns (C), Wilfredo Feliz (LF), William Kwon (SS), Erubiel Maduro (1B) and Vinny Zhang (RF) are all among the best hitters in the league at their postions. Trend (even)

San Jose
: 12th with 700 runs last year. Derek Walker fell off quite a bit from his ROY season; the Bees need a comeback from him. 2B Tim Murray and 3B Patrick Bell are solid hitters - they typify the San Jose lineup (at least last year) where nothing was either terrible or extraordinary. AAA 1B Mickey Maxwell looks like more of the same but might help this year. Trend (even)

Las Vegas: 8th with 746 runs last year. The 69ers add a nice group of rookies to an already-decent attack this year. Bill Wengert joins Brendan Keeler to form probably the best catcher platoon in the league. 2B Ken Morris has started strong (.365 OBP) and Walter Turner takes over at 1B. John Li is a top LF and has also started hot. AAA SS Lance Belitz could add some punch later this year. Trend (+)

: 14th with 689 runs last year, up to 11th so far this year. Last year's ROY, Ernest Farr (.318/9/38), has picked up where he left off last year, and Rule 5 pickup David Whitehead leads the team with 40 RBI. One would think Jacob Nomura (.373 in only 51 AB's) is due to take over as the fulltime C anyday now from Chick Holdridge (.220 in 205 AB's). Trend (+)


Oakland: 5th last year, the Surenos have moved right to the top of the pitching rankings with a sterling 2.59 ERA. Not unexpectedly, Gary Ramsay is having his best season ever with a microscopic 0.97 ERA and 14 wins already. He's getting plenty of help - 3 relievers have sub - 2.00 ERA's, #2 starter Kyle Bradshaw is 8-2, 2.89, and closer Andy Wilson is 20-for-21 in save opportunities. Trend (+)

San Jose: 8th last year, 7th so far this year. Say hello to Craig Hague. The Season 9 first-rounder has an OPS against of .506 (better even than Gary Ramsay's .559). 5 relievers have ERA's under 3.20, and Bernie Tejada and Midre Estrada have each won 7. Trend (+)

Las Vegas: Currently running 3rd in team ERA (same as last year). When the worst ERA on your team is 4.44 (Bartolo Velazquez), you know you're doing something right. Juan Gomez (20 of 24 saves, 2.61) is making a FOY bid and all 5 starters have ERA's under 3.65. Good playoff formula. Trend (+)

: Still undergoing rebuilding pains, the Grizzlies are one of the few teams with a higher team ERA this year than last. Some of the youngsters are giving reasons for hope: 2nd-year man Javier Batista has a 2.97 ERA and rookie John Tomko has a 3.71 ERA. One of the best arms to come out of the draft (Season 11 #4) in recent years, Kenny Frascatore, is ML-ready but will probably finish the year in the minors. Trend (+)

1. Oakland
2. Las Vegas
3. San Jose
4. Fresno
5. Rookie watch: San Jose's Craig Hague and Las Vegas' Bill Wengert
6. Vets on the move: Fresno's CF Vic Pascual could make a pennant race impact, and he'd probably get a better prospect than any of the Grizzlies' pitchers.

Friday, January 1, 2010

NL At (a little over) 40 Games

NL runs are down 4.76% and home runs are down a whopping 33% from last year.

Syracuse is looking very impressive, going 27-6 since opening with 2 series losses. Their 2.43 ERA leads the league - Felix Woodward (7-1, 1.00) has been nearly unhittable so far. Inspired by rookie SS Jim Olson (.324/9/40), Sioux Falls is just 4 back with the league's 4th best record. Ottawa is getting some nice pitching (Humberto Urbina - 5-0, 3.00) and balanced hitting (Brandon O'Halloran - .353/4/38), but despite playing .550 fake baseball, has fallen 8 back. Trenton looks to rebuild but may have gotten unlucky: their glut of high-power, low-split hitters appears to have been hit hard by the end of the steroid era.

Burlington is threatening to run and hide from the rest of the East. 5th in offense, 6th in pitching, 2nd in defense - nice balance. Everybody else is rebuilding, so the question here is whether the Lake Monsters can advance in the playoffs. Among East hitters, the Burlington trio of McDowell (.340/4/32), Beckett (.318/7/47) and Kobayashi (.312/7/26) the Indianapolis threesome of Matt Flores (.312/5/32), Dwight Adams (.317/6/19) are among the OPS leaders. Jacksonville's Don Young (3-2, 2.47), and Hector Reyes (1-4, 3.13), Burlington's Teddy Nelson (4-2, 2.60) and Indy's Enrique Velazquez (2-4, 2.87) are among the ERA leaders.

Austin's moves have propelled them to the top of the South, for now. Kevin Grabowski (.344/16/51) lead the league in HR and RBI and is getting ample help from Shelley, Selby and Myatt. Their home-grown SP's (Trent Diaz 6-2, 2.77) the expensive FA's. Mexico City was hit hard by free agency but is hanging in; 3B Aramis Expinoza (.358/9/41), C Alex Nunez (.355/4/10), and SP's Cory Mitchell (2-3, 2.07) and Cesar Morales (5-1, 2.58) have come up big. Memphis has shifted into rebuilding mode; El Paso is still there.

Since losing 3 straight to Fresno and Sioux Falls, Oakland has ripped off an incredible 26-2 run. As expected, they lead in offense (Rivera - .348/11/49, Zhang - .318/5/31, Feliz - .324/7/29) and their pitching has been outstanding - Gary Ramsay (7-1, 1.27) joins Woodward as 1 of the 2 Cy Young leaders. Las Vegas has the league's 3rd best record - they're 3rd in hitting and 2nd in pitching (all 5 starters are 2.70 ERA or better, and the bullpen is cloose to that). San Jose and Fresno have dropped off the torid pace of the leaders and could become sellers soon. The Grizzlies' Ernest Farr (.312/6/21) has continued his rookie season's hot hitting, and the Bees' rookie Craig Hague (2-0. 1.28) has made an impressive debut.

AL At the Quarter Pole

At 4o games there's certainly nothing decided, but we're starting to see a few trends. Nobody's out of contention for anything, but Columbus and anyone not named "Jackson" in the South might be thinking of shedding some veteran salaries. As expected, runs are DOWN (-8.6%) and home runs are WAY down (-27%).

has opened a 3-game lead thanks to the best pitching in the AL. The rotation has been solid, with 4 of 5 starters posting ERA's under 4. But the bullpen has been lights-out: LR Cesar Velazquez - 1.80 ERA, closer Edgar Perez - 11 for 11 saves and 2.53 ERA, Wilton Ashley - 0.44 ERA! Everyone else is under .500 - defending champ Augusta's pitching has completely exploded (6.19 ERA). Among the rookies, Cincy's DH Martin Munro stands out - .310/7/26.

haping up as a brutally competitive race, with all 4 teams at .538 or better. Cleveland's pitching has fallen off (relatively) to 6th in ERA - that's one factor keeping things close. East players occupy the top 6 spots in OPS: William Pierce and D.C.'s Victor Morales lead at 1.118, Cleveland's Jacque Fitzgerald (1.070), D.C.'s Eric Brantley (1.027), and Pittsburgh's FA's Brogna (.990) and Cota (.976). Little Rock's pitching (3.55 ERA) is keeping them in the race again. D.C. boasts both rookie standouts so far - SP Rob Workman (5-1, 2.93) and DH Hooks Allen (.309/5/35) - but keep an eye on the Alleghenys' D'Angelo Cerda (1-0, 3.15 in just 3 starts so far).

Jackson has parlayed excellent pitching (McCorley - 4-0, 2.03; Diaz - 11 of 11 saves, 3.21) and adequate hitting (Manzanillo - .358/10/36) to open up a 6-game lead. Richmond's Charlie Cosby (7-1, 1.91) is off to a Cy Young start...Little Rock's Vin Amaro (6-1, 2.70) isn't far behind. Nashville's Ray Henley is looking like an even jucier trade chip, with a .934 OPS. No rookie performances jumping out yet.

What has happened to Tucson? For starters, they've fallen from 2nd last year to 8th in offense, with an OPS that's down nearly 100 points. Brad Anderson and Carlos Escuela have had particularly nasty starts and need to kick it in. And the pitching has faltered, ranking 15th in the league. That's left the division wide-open, and Boise has taken a 3 game-lead. Among the division's hitters, only Jose Vargas (.911) ranks in the top 25 in OPS; Portland's Rudy Knorr (2.76)and Nick Rando (3.40), Tucson's Rudy Merritt (3.33), and Boise's Darryl Kent (3.40) and P.T. Navarro (3.77) are among the league's ERA leaders.