Monday, September 29, 2008

Powerloons Prospectus : A view from the Nest;

The Minnesota Powerloons are in the midst of their 6th season of current management. What follows is a “state of the union” view.

The team has been arranged in the mindset that there should be a decent mix of youth and experience. No player has the “skill ratings” that blow you off your seat, but all have been installed with the expectations that they will create a tough lineup from 1-8.

Through 72 games Billy Rivers and Patrick Stockton have handled catching duties well (.302-7-39) and they are holding their own at the plate. Losing Geronimo Mercedes to the rival Montreal squad was frustrating. Shows I didn’t do my homework. Robert McGee (.272-16-45) has done well at 1st, but has never gotten back to his pre-injury form. There are players waiting in the wings putting pressure on him. The combo of Flash Lane and Tony Soto (.284-16-49) have done well at 2B, but someone needs to step up and take charge. Management would like a fixture in this spot, but each time either one is given the chance, they fold like a cheap deck of cards. Clayton Koehlert (.303-7-38) has done what was expected and looks to be here a while. His combination of good defense and offense will be rewarded come contract time. Rounding out the infield is Vernon Hunter at SS. Vernon (.298-13-53) has a strangle hold on the position. The only thing that could shorten his future is his age. At 33, he is the oldest position player on the team and by the time his contract expires, Soto could be his replacement.

In the Loons’ inaugural season, the outfield was the strength of this team. It has slid a little since then, but LF Wesley Cook (.284-17-57) was brought in to solidify the line-up and add power. He has done both and currently leads the team in HR’s and RBI’s. CF Vic Cummings (.240-12-37) has had a disappointing season. A .300 hitter his 1st 3 ML seasons, Vic had promise. As much as the management would like to see him turn it around, this could be his last season as a Loon. In RF, Pablo Guzman (.279-14-48) is being pressed for playing time by Lance Hancock. Pablo had a big year in season 3 hitting .320-28-110 but has struggled to get back to that form since.

Pitching has been a problems for the loons from the start. Having an ERA between 4.75-5.13 in each of the first 5 years has left this team struggling to win games. This season, the staff has compiled an ERA of 4.30 and is holding the opponents batting average to .264. Trading away pitching prospects like Josias Guerrero, Clarence Jacquez and Alex Cambell have not done this franchise many favors. But young talent like William Cho, Angel Acosta and Russ Adkinson have proven worthy so far this season. At 45-34, we are pleased to be only 3 games out of the division lead.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Best of: Hot Corner Edition

So throughout the season I will review the various positions in World Feller and give my take on who the best 5 are at their respective positions. The way I’ll rank these guys is simply my opinion, if you disagree – no problem, throw your two cents in and comment on it. All my rankings are based on the current ratings and statistics (adjusted for park effects) of Major League players listed at that position at the time of review.

Benji Olivo
San Antonio
Immortal 32
Age: 28B/T: R/R
Born: Palenque, DO
Position(s): 3B
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5. Benji Oliva – His defense and 2 gold gloves speak for themselves. His offense is disemboweled by San Antonio’s ballpark and on top of it he has gotten off to a slow start. He did play in Texas prior to this season and didn’t put up numbers that would blow you away in a hitter’s park, but still drove the ball well and got on base. With his high contact and speed he would be an asset to a lot of teams. The reason he makes the “best of” though is for his glove and his career .985 fielding percentage, there aren’t many better.

Catfish Larkin
Las Vegas
Splittin' Aces
Age: 25B/T: R/R
Born: Clarion, IA
Position(s): 3B
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4. Catfish Larkin is coming into his own offensively this season. He plays in tough park so his career offensive numbers are slightly less then they would be elsewhere. Thus far this season he is off to a great start, hitting .323 with an OBP and SLG of .393 and .558 respectively. At the hot corner he has a good enough range and glove to go with his great arm. All this and a name like Catfish, how could you not like him?

Juan Rodriguez
Age: 33B/T: R/R
Born: Elias Pina, DO
Position(s): 3B/C/MIF/OF
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3. Juan Rodriguez is a great all around third baseman. He has great contact, above average power, good splits. His batting eye is not spectacular but his contact rating in combination with his splits is what gets him on base. Now that he plays in a neutral park you should see his career numbers improve. What puts Rodriguez on this list though is his defense, with a career .992 fielding percentage and 2.31 range factor at third base. Hopefully Trenton can keep him healthy.

Bonk Hurst
Washington D.C.
Age: 25B/T: R/R
Born: Lakeville, MN
Position(s): 3B/1B/2B/OF/DH
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2. Bonk Hurst – So anytime you have a superstar third baseman on your team it is great, well how about having three of them like Washington does (Bonk Hurst, James Langston, Dingo Banks ). Washington gets all of them at-bats through playing them at DH, First Base and RF. Bonk Hurst has monstrous power. In a home park that is tough to hit homers in, he has crushed 50+ homeruns in his last 3 seasons. To go with his offense is solid range and a great arm for third base play.

Charles Perry
Latchkey Monkeys
Age: 26B/T: S/R
Born: Baxley, GA
Position(s): 3B/1B/COF/DH
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1. Charles Perry – I could have flipped a coin between Bonk Hurst and this guy. Both are awesome third baseman any team would want to have in their lineup. I gave the nod to Perry as he is slightly better rounded offensively then Hurst. Perry's great power, L/R/ splits and a good eye all lead to a .969 OPS thus far this season and a career OPS of .934. He has a great glove and arm for third base as well.

Honorable Mention: Nap Welch (PAW), James Langston (WAS), Sammy Harris (NO)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Benchwarmer: Cleveland Edition

The Benchwarmer Post is dedicated to that special player who is grossly under performing their career statistics. If it weren't for a players underlying ratings he'd be riding the pine like Eric Byrnes with an alleged hamstring tear. We all have one of these guys, or in my case a few of these guys... Most of the time a player gets off to a slow start and his numbers look bad. Other times the only explanation is bad luck. I'll try to do a few of these throughout the course of the season.

Dennis Pratt
Cans of Corn
Age: 27B/T: S/R
Born: Mt Blanchard, OH
Position(s): 1B/RF/DH
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Three time AL MVP Dennis Pratt is having a tough time batting his weight this season. He is currently batting an awful .220 and OPS'ing, an average by Pratt's standards, .831. The sample size is quite large for this anomaly as Pratt has 264 at bats thus far. With a career batting average of .297 and a .609 slugging percentage, Cans of Corn has no choice but to keep trotting their star out there. I wouldn't worry much about Pratt though odds are he'll get hot and finish with a batting average around .285 and 150 RBIs.