Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tampa Takes A Thriller

The Typhoon rallied from a 3-1 deficit to take the 12th Greenberg World Series, becoming the 11th franchise in the world to win it all. Here's how it unfolded:

Game 1: Eric Belle pops an opposite-field solo shot in top 9; Zambrano closes out a 3-2 win for Tampa. Tampa up 1-0.

Game 2: The Bon Temps put up 5 early and the 'pen makes it stick; Montreal beats Flores and Javier 5-3. Series tied 1-1.

Game 3: Al Perez and relievers outduel Clayton Edwards & co 2-1. Montreal leads 2-1.

Game 4: Up 1-0, Montreal scores 3 on a double, a single, a dropped flyball and a triple in the 6th. The Typhoon answer with 2, but the Bob Temps get 2 more in top 7 with a pair of singles, a run-scoring DP and a Boucher solo homer. Tampa counters again with a Gustavo Vega (AL ROY) 2-run double. But then the Bob Temps relievers take over with 2 scoreless innings. Montreal wins 7-4 and goes up 3 games to 1.

Game 5: Raul Flores goes 7 strong innings and Zambrano gets a 2-inning save as Tampa staves off the first match point. Montreal leads 3 games to 2.

Game 6: Edwards strikes out 13 in 8 scoreless innings for Tampa's second straight super-clutch pitching performance. Gustavo Vega drives in 5 in a 9-0 Typhoon win. Series tied 3-3.

Game 7: Tied 4-4 in top 9, Gustavo Vega drives in the go-ahead run (24th post-season RBI). Bottom 9, Zambrano gives up a leadoff single. He fans CRuz for the first out, then gets PH Hitchcock to ground into a 4-6-3 DP. Tampa wins 5-4 and takes the series.

Great season everyone...see you after roll.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How The Seeds Sort Out...

One game to go and the teams are set, but there's still a number of seeding permutations that can come down. Let's start in the NL.

Montreal and Portland head into the last game tied at 100-61. The Bon Temps can wrap up the #1 seed with a win at Burlington, as they hold the tiebreak over the Microbrews.

Should Montreal lose to the Beanthrowers, Portland takes the #1 seed by beating Albuquerque.

If Montreal and Portland both lose, and Richmond wins over Cincy to create a 3-way tie at 100-62, Montreal gets the #1 seed (first tiebreak over Portland, and second tiebreak, division record, over Richmond), the Elite Ducks take the #2 seed (1st tiebreaker over Portland), and Portland gets the 3 seed.

Got all that? The rest is easy. Monterrey's in as the #4 seed, and Cincinnati and Scottsdale are the wildcards. Congrats to all the NL playoff teams - well done.

The AL is clearer, with only the wild card order in question.

Trenton and Vancouver are set as #'s 1 and 2 and first-round bye's.

Tampa Bay has won the AL South even if Houston pulls into a tie - the Typhoon dominated the season series to win the tiebreaker.

Chicago has the #4 seed and awaits a first-round series with either Salem or Houston.

Salem leads Houston by a game for the #5 seed. Should they tie, Houston gets the #5 seed by winning the season series tiebreaker.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Pennant Races With 14 To Go

NL North: Montreal has it on cruise control for the division - still playing for the first-round bye.

NL East: Cincy and Richmond are in a dead heat at 92-56 and wrap up the season with a 3-game series - who wins...the Great Americans' pitching or the EliteDucks' hitting? Richmond leads the season series 4-3. Columbus isn't out of the 2nd wildcard but will frankly need a miracle.

NL South: Monterrey seems certain to nail down its 6th straight division crown. Nashville sits 2 games back of Scottsdale for the 2nd wildcard - with a series against Richmond, the Cannonballs appear to have the tougher remaining schedule.

NL West: Portland's in control, with the Skull Crushers 7 back. The Microbrews host Montreal for a 4-game set starting today - if Portland splits, the race is over. Scottsdalehas a 2-game lead on Nashville for #2 wildcard and doesn't have a winning team left on the schedule.

Wildcards: loser of the Cincy-Richmond fracas gets the #1, Scottsdale & Nashville battling for #2, with St. Louis and Columbus only in hail-mary range.

AL North: Chicago has nearly clinched for 2 in a rowl Fargo's 13-game losing streak starting 6/25 all but did them in for both the division and a wildcard.

AL East: The Trenton juggernaut roles on to its 7th straight division title. The only question is whether the Mules will get the #1 or #2 seed - the series with Vancouver will likely answer that one. Charlotte has staged an impressive turnaround this year (from 3 straight sub 60-win years to 77-71), but looks like they'll niss the wildcard by a few games.

AL South: Houston has a 2-game lead on Tampa Bay, with a 3-game series between them remaining. The High Rollers have already won the season series, so a tie goes to them. If they hang on it will be their first division championship since season 1 and the first for long-time owner mrshadow1969.

AL West: Salem and Vancouver have traded the lead several times this year, but the Razers' recent 2-13 skid, plus the Vanquishers' 32-10 since the trade deadline, mean a 7-game cushion for Vancouver. It could still get interesting, as Vancouver still has to play Trenton 4 times (and just dropeed game 1).

Wilcard: Right now the #2 teams from the South and West are locked in; hard to see that changing with Charlotte 9 back.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Around the League at 100 Games (OK, 102)

AL North

After a slow start, the GoCubsGo has surged into the lead, but the Bombers are just 4 back. Chicago's Pedro Urbina (52) and Fargo's Tim McDonald (45) are making a run at the single-season HR record (along with Salem's Max Merced): Urbina is on pace for 83; McDonald 71.

AL East

Trenton's blazing start has cooled, but they still have the best record in the league and will cruise to their 7th straight division title. Charlotte is gunning for an impressive 40-win improvement over last year.

AL South

Houston clings to a 2-game lead over Tampa and its league-leading 4.13 ERA. Mexico City had a 12-game winning streak early in the season but has been inconsistent since; they're hanging in at 7 games back.

AL West

Could be a Salem's youngsters vs. Vancouvers old codgers seasaw for hte rest of the year. Salem had opened up a 5-game cushion before dropping 2 of 3 to the Vanquishers.

Award Races

MVP: Urbina's the odds-on favorite at this point
Cy Young: No super-dominant starters in the AL this year, although Tampa's Donne Taylor, Houston's Angel Skinner and Trenton's lead the way in ERA and all have 10+ wins. Could a closer win it this year? 4 with sub-3 ERA's...naaahhhh.
Rookie: Looks like a 3-horse race between Charlotte's Eduardo Aguilera, Salem's Jolbert Moreno, and Pittsburgh's Jose Santiago.

NL North

Last year's tight race has turned into a snoozer, with Montreal forging a 17-game lead. The Bon Temps' Robert Huff leads the league with 125 RBI.

NL East

The Cincinnati Great Americans have built Greenberg's best record on a pitching staff that has been rock-solid from top to bottom (world-leading team Whip/ERA of 1.16/3.58). Rookie SP Jude McDowell is 15-2, 2.85 ERA, while 38 year-old leader-of-the-closer-committee Rodney Cunningham is 16-of-17 saves with a nifty 0.74 ERA. Richmond is giving chase with a sporty 63-39 record and the league's best offense.

NL South

Monterrey occupies its customary place atop the division, although the much-improved Nashville is making a race of it. Special shout-out to our emergency fill-in skipper rbedwell, who has St. Louis above .500.

NL West

Portland was on a 12-of-13 streak until Scottsdale won 2 of 3; the Skull Crushers had a 13-of-14 streak earlier in the season but have fallen 8 back.

Award Races

MVP: probably have to go with Montreal's Huff right now, although the Richmond trio (Karim Gomez - .331/46HR/107 , Don Tanaka - .319/35/101, and Tony Ortiz - .372/21/58) are in the running along with Cincy's Diego Sanchez (.299/37/106 but slightly uneven play at 2B).
Cy Young - Montreal's Miguel Vega and David Morales, Cincy's Jude McDowell, Monterrey's Jeremy Tracy, and Little Rock's Frank Sobkowiak all have sub-3.20 ERA's and 10+ wins.
Rookie: Could be between Great American teammates McDowell and Sanchez, although the Nashville duo of Edgar Gonzales and Danys Delgado are having terrific rookie campaigns.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Playoff Predictions

OK, so it's 40 games in. Doubt it'll make my predictions more accurate though. Here we go:

AL

1. Trenton
2. Tampa Bay
3. Chicago
4. Salem
5. Houston
6. Vancouver

Round 1


Chicago over Vancouver
Salem over Houston

Division Series

Tampa Bay over Chicago
Trenton over Salem

ALCS

Tampa Bay over Trenton

NL

1. Portland
2. Nashville
3. Cincinnati
4. Montreal
5. Richmond
6. Monterrey

Round 1

Monterrey over Cincinnati
Richmond over Montreal

Division Series

Nashville over Monterrey
Richmond over Portland

NLCS

Nashville over Richmond

World Series

Tampa Bay over Nashville





Saturday, May 30, 2009

Around the League at 33 Games

Just over 20% of the season's done. Time to start shoring up the pitching staff or rounding up that lefty bat. What's up around the league?

NL - Who's Hot?

Columbus is on a 13-1 run - 8 players with 5+ HR's as the Clips pace the NL with 64 longballs.

Cincy is 8-2 in their last 10. It's all about pitching - 3.57 leads the world by a wide margin.

Frank Perez, Nashville - 5-0, 1.53 ERA. Only 3 runs below his career ERA.

Rodney Cunningham, Cincinnati and Mark Borbon, St. Louis - both 7-for-7 saves and 0.00 ERA.

Danys Delgado, Nashville - leads the league in RBI (42), 2nd in HR (15), 3rd in OPS (1.136). Early leader for ROY.

NL - Who's Not?

Burlington's
pitching, with a 9.22 ERA. 'Course, 0 fatigue will do that.

Albuquerque - followed a 6-2 start with a 7-18 streak. Worst run going by an NL team trying to win.

Last year's Major Award winners: MVP Robert Huff is hitting .244 (the power's still there, though), and Cy Young Albert Acosta is 1-1, 4.39 in 7 starts.

AL - Who's Hot?

Vancouver -
19-4 since being swept by Louisville. League-leading 4.05 ERA.

Mexico City - 11-4 since losing 3 of 4 to Anaheim. Hitters starting to wake up.

Max Merced, Salem, and Bernie Granados, Pittsburgh - tied at 1.221 OPS.

Rigo Guerrero, Salem - leading the league with 2.41 ERA.

Elroy Stevens, Trenton - 14 games, 14 saves, 1.29 ERA.

AL - Who's Not?

Chicago -
6-11 in last 17. What's up with the GoCubsG0? 7.47 Team ERA.

Salem - 8 straight losses if you throw out the Boston series.

Raul Flores (Salem) - last year's Cy Young and ROY is 2-2, 7.61 in 8 starts.




Monday, May 25, 2009

Season 12 Previews - AL West

The AL South should be ultra-competitive this year, with Kansas City improving, Salem bringing up even more talented prospects, Anaheim reloading around their stars and Vancouver spending like my ex-wife.

Offense

Vancouver adds Rodney Franklin, Esteban Tarraga and Max Guzman to last year's average offense. Should translate to a nice improvement, but the real question is how long these old guys can keep producing. Can Jerry Koch, coming off career highs in HR's and RBI's, approach those levels again? Can Dmitri Duncan ever realize his potential?

Salem scored a respectable 959 runs last season and adds rookie 1B Jolbert Moreno. LF Jason Burroughs, CF Vicente Seguignol and DH Max Merced are all 55-HR threats and 3B Carlos Olivares is still improving. Look for 1000+ runs this year.

Anaheim was well under the league average with 836 runs scored last year and needs to add some punch. Looks like they've found it with rookie DH Douglas Downing and new 3B Jolbert Cornejo, who has bounced between AAA and the majors for the last few years. They join 1B Lonnie Leyritz and LF Craig Brown as the primary power threats, while CF Enrique Cairo and the 2B platoon of Jones and Rossy provide the top-of-the-order on-base skills.

Kansas City also needs an offense transfusion. Unfortunately, they're going to trot out mostly the asme group as last year. Dingo Osik has posted 3 straight .300 seasons, and 2B Osvaldo Pineda showed promise last year. Bo Robinson is the Ramblers' best power source and will split time between DH and 3B.

Pitching

Vancouver's staff was lights out in the first half last year, but faded down the stretch. Borbon, Pascual and Franco return as SP's 1-3, with pricey free agent Fergie Schmidt at #4. George Jarvis and Kevin Walalce will probably both see time as the #5. Closer Al Rios shows no signs of slowing down, and Shannon Connelly solidifies the LR/MR bullpen spot that was vulnerable last year.

Salem's staff is perhaps overshadowed by its gaudy offense, but is solid and improving. Jayson Donovan could step right to the head of the rotation as a rookie; if he can tame the walk totals he'll be very good. Closer Harold Hoffman has improved dramatically the last 2 years and could be moving into Fireman of the Year territory.

3-time Cy Young winner Matt Moore heads the excellent Anaheim pitching corps. Trachsel @ #2, Gabriel @ #3 and Lecuona @ #4 are solid, but #5 Ruben Arroyo is showing signs of decline. Gerald Cedeno was a big boost to middle relief last season and is still improving. Closer Rick Carpenter is money but can't throw every night.

Kansas City's Casey Black struggled last year after seasons of 10 and 12 wins; a rebound is likely. Al Randall and Norm Ross appear set to share closer duties and should be competent, but the rest of the staff is undistinguished. They should come in somewhere around last year's 14th spot in team ERA.

Predictions

1. Salem pulls away late for their first division title since Season 2.
2. Vancouver, Anaheim, K.C finish 2,3,4
3. Veteran on the move: none other than Matt Moore
4. Rookie watch: Anaheim's Douglas Downing