Welcome to the Season 17 of the USMLB.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


TUCSON XPRESS – powercats22
Team records
ML: 51-66
AAA: 54-63
AA: 67-50
HiA: 78-39
LowA: 57-60
Rookie: 24-29


ML team: D The Xpress find themselves struggling this season, as many youngsters are acquiring ML experience. The good news – they are on pace for a top 10 draft pick next season.
Minors: B+ The HiA and AA Xpress teams are playoff locks, and the HiA team has a chance to go deep in the playoffs. Teams at other levels have been mediocre this season.
Trades: B+ Tucson has been almost a daytrader this season with 8 trades and more than 20 players moving around. Christopher Newhan acquired from Toledo is the headliner of this group, and projects to become a dominant future closer. Newcomer pitchers Josh Romano, Eddie Henderson, and Jim Wells also figure to be important pieces of the Xpress staff - at least until they get traded again. Erubiel Sanchez can become an all-star RF in the future. Among those leaving, closer prospect Lonnie Rizzo, veteran SS Cy Ryan, and SS prospect Julio Rincon will be missed. The Xpress also perfected trading for money this season, and brought in $10 million dollars with trades, few of which involved taking on salary.
Player acquisitions: B- Del Lee is the headliner of the group as one of the top international signees of the season. Lee has the potential to be an ace and at 18 has quickly made it to AAA, and is holding his own there. Veteran 3B Dave Roberts was claimed off of waivers along with his $6 million salary over the next 3 years. Roberts is a serviceable player, but that’s a lot of salary to assume for a serviceable 30 year old. Brandon Blanton is a decent pitching prospect taken by Tucson in the Rule 5 draft and later traded away.
Player development: C- In his 3rd season in the big leagues, top starter Esteban Fernandez hasn’t yet lived up to the promise that Xpress fans have hoped for. He has great stuff, but hasn’t yet figured out all the nuances of being a great pitcher. The good news – he’s only 25 and has his best days ahead. Victor Sojo and Jeff Shourek are following in the shoes of Fernandez with a mix of good outings and poor ones. If they can each get their act together, these three youngsters can form a great nucleus for the pitching staff for many years to come.
Record compared to talent: D+ While certainly not the most talented team in the league, the ML Xpress team is not at the bottom of the league in talent either. Several young players have experienced growing pains this season. Xpress management told us that they expect that this year will be a learning experience to propel the youngsters to better things in the future. With an $80 million payroll and almost $14 million in their coaching staff, Xpress fans were hoping for the playoffs. Instead, after three losing seasons, fans are beginning to wonder if there will come a time when they won’t be rebuilding.
Coach hot seat ranking: Yellow

SAN JOSE SABERCATS – texanboiler
Team records
ML: 59-58
AAA: 55-62
AA: 53-64
HiA: 66-51
LowA: 68-49
Rookie: 19-34


ML team: C The Sabercats are in the middle of the pack in the AL. They still have an outside shot at the playoffs, but it will be an uphill climb to get there. Veteran starter Tito Ramirez is having another very solid season in the final year of his contract, and will leave a difficult decision for management when contract negotiations come.
Minors: B- The HiA and LowA SaberCats teams are playoff locks, and each have a chance to make some noise. Teams at other levels have been mediocre at best. The rookie coaches should consider different careers after this season.
Trades: D+ None
Player acquisitions: A- The SaberCats have only added a few players this season, but international signee Max Moreno is a huge addition. He projects as an all-star pitcher, and will be a big part of future plans in San Jose.
Player development: B- Stud closer Shane Haad has picked up where he left off last season and has been flat out dealing with more than a strikeout an inning. At 23, the future for Haad is bright. In the field Jose Espinoza, Marvin Stark, and Glen Lewis are each approaching their prime, and the trio have put together solid campaigns this season in such a pitcher-friendly ballpark. Still, SaberCat fans have higher hopes for 3B Espinoza in particular, and still wait for him to put together a All-Star season. He may be pushed into competition to do so, as top prospect 3B David Taylor is tearing up AAA, and looks to make his ML debut next season. With another solid season, team officials are also very high on AAA starter Chet Kingland, and think he has the makings of a future top starter.
Record compared to talent: B ML Franchise rankings put the SaberCats right at the bottom of the American league. With a $55.5 million payroll, San Jose has exceeded expectations this season. Many youngsters are nearing their prime. If management can add a solid pitcher or two, the franchise looks to be a solid competitor in the West for many years to come.
Coach hot seat ranking: Yellow


Team records
ML: 56-61
AAA: 39-78
AA: 49-68
HiA: 51-66
LowA: 55-62
Rookie: 29-23


ML team: C- Cheyenne is a very veteran team this season, but has been hit hard with injuries. They are a longshot to make the playoffs. 27 year old SP Edgar Perez is having the best season of his career, and is among the top 10 in the AL for E.R.A.
Minors: D Outside of a solid rookie team, the Featherwound teams are struggling everywhere. AAA coaches are clearly over their heads with a dismal campaign.
Trades: C Cheyenne traded pitching prospects with Tacoma for their only trade of the season.
Player acquisitions: C Cheyenne signed veterans Cliff Adkinsson, Anthony Jacobs, and Ben Ward to moderate free agent contracts this season, and has added 3 international signees. While all look to be serviceable players, none in the group is a difference maker.
Player development: B- CF Lewis Shouse has had a solid ML debut this season. LF Carmen Garcia missed some games this season with a lengthy DL trip, but Featherwood fans have high expectations that Garcia will become one of the game’s best sluggers. 26 year old DH Adrian Duncan is having a very solid year at the plate this season, and projects to be a force in the middle of the Featherwood lineup for many years to come.
Record compared to talent: D With a $105 million payroll and an aging team, the Featherwood look likely to miss the playoffs this season. Next season is critical for Cheyenne. If the veterans can’t get it done, a new supply of young talent may be needed for the franchise.
Coach hot seat ranking: Yellow

Team records
ML: 70-47
AAA: 68-49
AA: 58-59
HiA: 61-56
LowA: 57-60
Rookie: 12-41 (worst Rookie record)


ML team: A- Anaheim should win the AL West. They are a team bound for the playoffs, and will fight for a first round bye. Veteran closer Hank Epstein continues to blow hitters away, and is tied for the AL lead with 33 saves.
Minors: B The minor league teams for Anaheim are having solid years. Their AAA team is a lock for playoffs, while solid teams at LowA, HiA, and AA are in position to make runs at postseason berths. Division managers have to love playing against Anaheim’s rookie team, seeing mostly DH-type players, with only a few position guys and 5 healthy pitchers.
Trades: A Anaheim was one of the more active traders this season, and came out on the positive end of many moves. Young SP Herbert Brandt is a huge acquisition for Anaheim, and is the current E.R.A. leader in the A.L. Anaheim also hit the jackpot bringing in SP Gil Ventura. SS Juan Amaro, RP Carson Shaw, and RP Lyle Myatt are very nice additions. Anaheim will miss DH Kenneth Bryant, 1B Erubiel Sanchez, SP Bernie Castillo, and 3B AJ West.
Player acquisitions: B RP Darryl Schmidt is a solid pick up for the Beefpound in the Rule 5 draft. Free agent signee Francisco Manto is having a great season. Signee Harold Morton is having a disappointing season, but comes off the books after this year. Anaheim also nabbed international free agent SP John Wang. Wang looks to have great splits and average pitches.
Player development: C+ The Anaheim franchise is loaded with young talent. While slumping a bit this season, RF/1B Vin Cordero is a future superstar. Similarly, SP Miguel Martinez has yet to live up to his potential, but huge things are expected for the hurler. Young SS Junior Lui is having a very solid season, and big things are expected ahead. At 12-1, SP Delino Maduro is a Cy Young candidate this year, and Beefpound fans hope this season will be the start of a long successful career.
Record compared to talent: B+ Anaheim has one of the most talented teams in the majors, and along with it, has one of the top records in the game as well. The biggest challenge for Anaheim in the future will be making wise economic decisions with their young talent in arbitration and free agency.
Coach hot seat ranking: Green