Thursday, January 23, 2014

Season 25 Quick Recap

Since the blog was inactive for all of Season 25, here's a quick look back at the season's big stories.

FREE AGENT FRENZY
Season 25 started off with a bang as a strong class of free agents moved around the league. Scranton, as usual, ended up with the big prize: 29-year-old former Montgomery pitcher Allen Shaw took a 5-year, $110M deal to become Big Blue's newest ace. The top position player on the market made a much more surprising move, however - infielder Pedro Fernandez, late of the Zephyrs, went to Iowa for 5 years and nearly $100M.

HALL INDUCTS THREE
After a long and spirited debate over the merits of a number of different candidates, three players joined the Minor Leagues Hall of Fame in Season 25: Pitchers Reid Monroe (19 votes) and Albie Marrero (18), and DH Adam Carter (24). Pitcher Pedro Arroyo just missed with 13 votes. Even with those three voted in, the ballot is likely to get quite crowded in the next few seasons, with the legendary Julio Rincon having already retired and other luminaries such as Marcus Walker and Henry McFeely likely to follow him very soon.

TRADING PLACES
Mid-season was dominated by one of the craziest trade markets I've ever seen in HBD. When longtime playoff contenders Omaha and Buffalo both got off to poor starts, they started selling off veterans left and right, including many of their biggest stars. Buffalo sent Ernest Adkins to Norfolk, Howie Donovan and Tony Viriato to Jackson, and Tori Belitz and J.J. Spoljaric to New Britain; Omaha moved Neil Bottenfield to Norfolk, Fernando Trevino to Richmond, Harvey Charles to Syracuse, Max Ordaz to Memphis, Wilton Beck to Salt Lake City, and Raul Benitez to Toledo. Also on the move during the regular season was Trenton's 2-time defending MVP Orlando Canseco, who was traded to division rival Salt Lake City. That's quite a frenzy of activity for a single season!

FEELING A DRAFT
With the top overall pick in the season 25 amateur draft, Burlington took high school pitcher Alex Berroa. A flamethrower with precision control and killer splits, Berroa lacks the stamina of a truly elite starting pitcher, but still clearly has the potential to be a real monster of a player down the road. Gary Craig, the top pitcher from the college ranks, went #2 overall to El Paso. Other draft highlights include outfielder Jerrod Higginson (4th overall, Jacksonville), the draft's best hitter; pitcher Malcolm Brooks (6th overall, Pawtucket), who was neck-and-neck with Berroa and Craig as the draft's best pitching prospect; and 2B Vin Huson (17th overall, Albuquerque), a top-10 caliber prospect whose inexplicable slide to the middle of round one may have made him the biggest steal of the draft.

DOWN THE STRETCH THEY COME
Season 25 featured two memorable Wild-Card playoff races. In the NL, Iowa capped a surprising season with their first playoff berth since season 18, and were nearly joined by Toledo, whose playoff drought has lasted just as long. But a diastrous 3-9 mark to close out the season left the Mud Hens just out of the postseason picture, as the Jackson Generals captured their second Wild Card in three years. Meanwhile in the AL, the race for the sixth and final playoff spot came down to the season's last day, with Memphis' win clinching their place in the postseason, just one game ahead of the underdog Trenton Thunder.

A POSTSEASON FOR THE AGES
The Vancouver Canadians were the 800-pound gorilla of Minor Leagues this season, easily cruising to a 108-54 record and crushing Iowa in the Division Series. But in a shocking turn of events, they were undone by New Orleans in the NLCS, a classic 7-game affair that turned on the Zephyrs' dramatic one-run, extra-inning win in Game 6. The ALCS, too, went to 7 games, with division rivals Dover and Richmond duking it out until the bitter end. Richmond won game 7 at home to take the series, and then went on to pound New Orleans, 4 games to 1, for their third World Series title and first since season 11.

AWARDS SEASON
Unlike recent seasons, Season 25 had plenty of clear-cut winners for the league's major hardware. Dover slugger Joseph Chong easily took the AL MVP Award with his great .309/.368/.665 batting line and 64 homers, while Zephyrs outfielder (and free agent-to-be) Angel Molina took home his second MVP award with an even more remarkable .339/.416/.665 slash line, 43 home runs, and 40 steals. The Cy Young Awards were easy to hand out, too - Salem's Jacob Vaughn won his third in the AL with a career-best 2.18 ERA and 0.95 WHIP, while in the NL, Vancouver's Markus Taft took his second Cy in a row thanks to his ML-leading 1.81 ERA and .195 OAV. As for Rookie of the Year honors, it was a no-brainer in the NL (Toledo outfielder Glenn Teixeira), but the AL proved a bit more difficult. 21-year-old Dover ace Luis Garza took home the hardware, but Pawtucket slugger Victor Bush came very close, falling just 2 votes shy of Garza's total.

The Blog is Back! (Ch-ch-ch-changes...)

I am happy to announce that, after a brief hiatus, the Minor Leagues HBD blog has returned! I'll be posting a Season 25 Recap soon, but before that, there are a couple of administrative notes...

First, a bit of sad news: El Paso Diablos owner firesign34, the longtime primary contributor to this blog, will not be returning to the league for Season 26. I will try to fill the gap with a post every now and then, but I welcome help from any other Minor Leagues owners who wish to join in. Anybody interested should contact wholck to be added to the contributors list.

Second, and more importantly, Scranton Yankees owner brianj000013 recently stepped down after several seasons as Minor Leagues world commissioner. I will try my best to take over that role as well, but it won't be easy - through Brian's tireless efforts, Minor Leagues has remained one of the best private worlds in all of Hardball Dynasty. I think I speak for the entire league when I say THANK YOU for everything he's done.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Flirty Forty

So if your 40 and single with a good job the young sexy chicks at the bar might be checking you out. Oh wait, in your dreams.  Umm, yeah this is about the last forty games of the season especially those that have a shot at the playoffs.  For some that is still a dream.

AL North

Salt Lake looks to have a handle on things with a 10 game lead.

AL East

New Britain also has a 10 game lead and looks to go unhindered into the playoffs.

AL South

Is this division as inept as their records indicate?  Looks can be deceiving sometimes but the title is still up for grabs as the Biscuits have faltered and the Braves have picked up ground albeit slowly.

AL West

Salem has a 22 game lead and looks primed to take the #1 seed though they still need to shake loose from New Britain's prying eyes.

The Wild Card race might wind up to be a free-for-all before the season ends. Dover stands atop the fold here with Fargo holding onto the second slot.  Neither one can get too complacent as there are seven other teams that could get hot and make a run at them.

NL North

Stands to reason that Buffalo and Scranton are having their seemingly annual tiff.

NL East

The Bats got pissed at me at the beginning of the season and decided to really prove they are the team to beat.

NL South

Maybe it is pick on the South teams this season. New Orleans is atop but everybody is still in the race for the title

NL West

Vancouver holds the lead and a slim run for the #1 seed at the moment. Those pesky Wranglers are getting ready for another round up so things aren't that definitive. 

Las Vegas and Scranton hold the Wild Card slots at the moment.  Truth be told, unless something drastic happens not much of a race here.

I have seen some odd seasons but this one seems to take the cake.  First the draft may have been deep but in all reality I didn't see any real stars to be all that thrilled about. The International Market has been a crap shoot with too many broken porcelain thrones. Eight teams in the South division and only one with a winning record at the moment. That may not seem odd except last year the worst of these teams had 69 wins and 5 of them were in the playoffs. 


Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Butch News

Mal asked an interesting question about Butch Stewart that I just had to go snooping and finger out the situation. Two of the ten errors were dropped foul balls. Don't ask me how this is possible because it is one of those errors you hardly ever see. Since his glove and range is phenominal it doesn't seem realistic to this game but it might be that he is trying too hard. In a nutshell, he gets to the impossible catch and drops it, more than likely, can't hold on. All the others have been throwing errors. Even with a pretty good arm, shit happens. The shit in this case is a 1B that isn't all that defensive minded and should be left out of the pick off attempt equation. Further enhancing the trouble is a 2B that isn't great at covering the bag on steals, getting there or catching it if he does. The SS can get to the bag on a steal, catching it might be a tricky situation at times. We certainly can't pin the problem on the Fielding Instructor.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Little News

I have to applaud my Low A Diablos, 24 wins in a row is a nice streak you don't see very often. You would think they would be in first place but they barely gained 5 games on the front running Braves. I have seen a 22 win streak by a ML team but I tell you that is very rare.

The International Market has taken a beating this season. Anybody with a decent pulse is getting some money though it isn't the big bills.

Alving Megias got $1.2M from Charleston. Looks decent for a lefty but his pitches ain't all that sophisticated.

Javier Unamuno picked up a $2.2M payday from Oklahoma City. Touted as a 3B but we have a hard time believing he can play above the 1B position.  Seems to strike out a lot but does connect for home runs.

Oklahoma City also signed  Albert Suarez for $1.4M.  Another project player that just doesn't have the splits.

El Paso went hog wild over Yadier Espinoza with a $13M payday.  Diablos think he is better than what the scouts are seeing. I kinda doubt it really but was the best prospect I have seen all season.

Tomas Samuel got $1.2M from Salt Lake.  If his splits get better than what we see then there is a good chance. Still worth the money the way I see it.

Pawtucket made head-lines signing James Gao for $16M.  Many teams got out early as he isn't the greatest hitter with cataracts. Still, how can you pass up on what could turn out to be a GG SS that has decent power, contact and splits?


Saturday, September 14, 2013

DITR's

The DITR function is totally random as far as I can tell.  I have seen an already elite player get the advantage but it is very rare. Just as rare is the increase actually makes the player viable for the ML. Normally teams that are bad, like the Diablos get four of them in a season like this year. Normal range for that is zero to four btw, don't think I have ever seen anyone get more than four. . Of course it didn't help all that much, just longer careers in the  minors maybe which is a bit helpful. I normally hope my DITR's are catchers as they can turn out to be fringe players if their PC gets up to the upper end. I actually got two short relievers which is normal and two starters which is unusual. Still, none of them I consider even fringe players but can be very helpful in the development process of other players and getting the minor league team to the playoffs. One thing to note, DITR's have a tendency to develop differently, especially if they are young. They tend to develop more after the first three years than normal players to reach their potential.

There is the initial DITR jump I like also but you don't get to see it if it was from a just drafted player. One of mine was an International that was signed at the end of last year.  I must have thought he had enough potential for the low minors then (and spend spare cash on)  but now can possibly make it to AAA. Three were actually minor league vets and that is all they ever will be which happens quite often.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

International News

With all the hype being on the draft I almost over looked something exciting. No! It wasn't the fact the Diablos finally ended their 11 game losing streak which I don't understand as I think we are much better than our record indicates.

Arodys Gonzalez signed a $15.5M deal with the Norfolk Tides. If things go well, even if I don't like them being over the age of 18, he could be ready for ML action in a season and a half easily enough. He has the potential to be a very good long reliever or maybe a solid 5 inning starter.  A decent buy for the money if things work out well.

Grade: A-