Welcome to the Season 17 of the USMLB.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Fargo Woodchippers (calolson)
The Woodchippers couldn’t repeat as the National League North champions again finishing in second place. The team hasn’t been worse then second place for the last four seasons. The Woodchippers had one of the biggest runs scored to runs allowed differential in the league but that still couldn’t get them more victories. The strength of this team has always been there pitching and defensive with nothing changing this season with that but I believe the offensive will be about the same last season which isn’t a bad thing unless you count losing Philip Dunn a bad thing. The Woodchippers will once again find themselves in the middle of a very tight race for control over the National League North this season. The team only lost Harry Beltran (P) (8-3, 3.87ERA, 2SV), John Cho (P) (14-9, 4.13ERA, 181IP), Nicky Duran (1B) (.299, 30, 106), Ricky Gibbons (C) (.275, 10, 57) and Philip Dunn (C) (.231, 10, 32) to free agency. The team signed Raymond Gray (1B) (Minor League) to a 2yrs/5.2mil, Fergie O'Shea (C) (.182, 0, 0) to a for 5yrs/52.5mil, Dicky Munro (C) (.271, 2, 12) to a 2yrs/4.4mil and Adam Warner (P) (0-1, 3.23ERA, 1SV) to a 2yrs/5.4mil. The team sent Rico Martin to the Boise Hurricanes for Neifi Tavarez.
Off-Season Grade: D+
I think signing O’Shea to a big contract could bit this team in the future as O’Shea is a solid playing looking to final make it on a major league roster but I don’t believe that he’s worth the 10mil they will be paying a year. Losing Philip Dunn could really hurt this team as the coach is planning on platooning the first base position this year and I believe that they still won’t come near the number that Dunn put up last season.

Projected Lineup
Jaime Basile 2B (.307, 13, 76) AllStar
Tommie Romero SS (.287, 6, 64) AllStar
Nick Ball 3B (.293, 44, 140) AllStar
Raymond Gray 1B (AAA)
Brian Creek CF (.286, 26, 90)
Fergie O'Shea C (.182, 0, 0)
A.J. Balfour RF (.298, 27, 105)
Manny Vanguri LF (Rule 5)

The top three batters will be hard to get out for this team but the rest of the players behind them aren’t any slackers when it comes to hitting either. This team should once again provide a lot of runs for this team this season. The Woodchippers looks to have the second best offensive in the National League North this season.

Brendan Cora (15-12, 3.19ERA, 1SHO)
Jim Little (13-12, 3.61ERA, 197IP)
Ugueth Estrada (6-4, 4.11ERA, 2SV)
Sammy Goya (7-7, 4.86ERA, 103.2IP)
Mike Scanlan (0-3, 4.80ERA, 1SV)
Frank Nakamura (5-3, 2.43ERA, 5SV)

The pitching is the strength of the team this season and one of the best in the National League. Cora is there star pitcher and this team won’t go anywhere if Cora isn’t in top form all season long. The bullpen has to be one of the best in the whole league as it looks like any led this team is able to muster up should be safe in the hands of the bullpen. The Woodchippers look to the best pitching staff in the National League North.

Top Ten Prospects
1. Mikey Frey
2. Vladimir Arias
3. Rich Washburn
4. Sidney Kolb
5. Jason Dixon
6. Carl Clemens
7. Antone Johnstone
8. Lenny Walker
9. Patrick Barker
10. James Cummings

Owner Notes:
The team went into the FA market this offseason after missing out on the playoffs last season. Our big signing was 24 year old catcher Fergie O'Shea. We probably overpaid for him, as he is solid but probably not a superstar, but it's nice to have the position locked down for years to come. We let 1B Nicky Duran go in FA, and will fill the spot by platooning Raymond Gray and Pablo Mesa. As always, our team is led by Nick Ball and Brendan Cora

Projected Record – 89-73

New Britain Fisher Cats (jway11)
The Fisher Cats saw themselves once again improve and got the National League North crown and made it to the playoffs for the first time in team history. Even though they didn’t make very far in the playoffs last season, the experience for the team and there fans makes this season really exciting. Will this team go back this season? Well the only thing we know is that there going to be in the hunt once again this season. One of the big reason’s why this team was able to win the National League North is that they went 22-8 within the division which was the best divisional record in the National League. The big test for this team is can they adjust to being the hunted instead of hunter this season. The team only lost AllStar Cameron Holt (P) (1-4, 3.55ERA, 34SV) and Adam Warner (P) (0-1, 3.23ERA, 1SV). The team signed didn’t sign any from the free agent market for the second straight year. The team sent Gene DeJean and Robinson Buckley to the Portland Landports for Raymond Pavlov.
Off-Season Grade: C
Once again this team didn’t sign anyone from the free-agent market but this team doesn’t really need to. Losing AllStar Cameron Holt I think will affect this team more then they really want to admit, as Cameron has been a good solid closer for the last four seasons. This team really did need to get a veteran number one starter and that’s what they went out and did which I think was a great move.

Projected Lineup
Dennis Johnson LF (.306, 6, 42)
Nicholas Herndon CF (.287, 2, 50)
Erik West C (.304, 49, 131) Silver Slugger (C)/ Gold Glove (C)
Hoss Boone 1B (.334, 40, 129) AllStar/ Silver Slugger (1B)/ Gold Glove (1B)
Lonnie Grove 2B (.275, 28, 73)
Pedro Javier 3B (.267, 11, 73)
Santiago Alfonzo RF (.340, 9, 46)
Kennie Sexson SS (.223, 12, 58) Gold Glove (SS)

Any lineup that has West and Boone is a lineup to fear and it still amazing me how West didn’t make the AllStar team last season. This team will produce some good offensive numbers this season but will this team rely too much on West and Boone to provide the big numbers that this team needs this season. The Fisher Cats have the best offensive in the National League North.

Raymond Pavlov (11-9, 3.72ERA, 200.2IP)
Horacio Segui (10-9, 4.71ERA, 154.2IP)
Esteban Polanco (13-8, 3.67ERA, 2CG)
Carlos Pujols (16-10, 4.17ERA, 3CG)
Jerry Franco (19-8, 4.46ERA, 212IP)

The starters will have to pitch a lot of innings this season if they want to have a chance to make it back to the playoffs as it looks like the bullpen could really struggle this season. The lose of Cameron will make the late innings very exciting in New Britain, as I hope that the fans and coaches have a lot of rolands stored away because there going to need it. The Fisher Cats have the worst pitching staff in the National League North.

Top Ten Prospects
1. Damaso Seneca
2. Bono Barr
3. Sammy Guerrero
4. Tony Padden
5. Ned Franco
6. Jeff Bailey
7. Jimmie Amezaga
8. Shane Clayton
9. Phil Perry
10. Boomer Redmond

Owner Notes:
The Fisher Cats will be giving away free rolands during every home game this season. The team will be asking fans to only use these once any one from the bullpen enters the game. Hope all fans will enjoy the late innings this season.
Team Owner jway11

Projected Record – 84-78

Burlington Ice Storm (tbarden)
This once proud franchise has seen some rough days the last couple of years. It seems like it’s been forever when they won the World Series instead of a couple seasons ago. Last season this team moved to Hartford which turned out to be a horrible move. There rotation got exposed with the shorter park then what they had in Detroit, now with a new owner aboard and a new location which is a little bit more pitcher friendly the hope is that it will bring this team back to the top of the National League North this season. This team had some choices to make this off-season, as if they should start to rebuild this team for the future or should they once again try to compete in the National League North. Well they choose to try to compete with mix results. The team only lost Scott Coffie (SS) (.288, 2, 23) and Cookie Valdes (1B) (.318, 15, 64). The team signed Denny Ishida (LF) (.310, 11, 41) to a 4yrs/21.6mil, Bruce Lewis (3B) (Minor Leagues) to a minor league deal and Russell Swisher (1B) (Minor Leagues) to a minor league deal. The team sent Ralph Middlebrook to the Cincinnati Highlanders for Pedro Alvarez and Jose Toca and sent Ken Lincoln to the Honolulu Honus for Khoury Glass.
Off-Season Grade: C-
Every one knows that this team needed to get some offensive to help out the pitching staff but with some of these free agent pickups it looks as if they really didn’t do anything to improve the offensive. The lost of Valdes will hurt as he’s good hitting first basemen with some pop in his bat but with the signing of Ishida, it was a good swap for offensive ability.

Projected Lineup
Khoury Glass CF (.271, 11, 46)
Matt Corey 2B (.282, 9, 48)
Russell Swisher 1B (minor league)
Sam Wyatt RF (Rule 5)
Denny Ishida LF (.310, 11, 41)
Nomar Kirby SS (.242, 6, 41)
Willie Blalock 3B (.308, 11, 60)
Endy Hemingway C (.259, 3, 42)

It could be a long season for this offensive as it has many people wondering where the offensive will come from. I wouldn’t be surprised if you see this team with a lot of 1 or 2 run games this season. The offensive is going to put a lot of strain on the pitching staff this season. The Ice Storm has the worse offensive team in the National League North.

Michael Dickey (5-13, 5.49ERA, 136IP)
Dickie Wells (3-4, 5.68ERA, 1CG)
Carson Minor (8-13, 4.81ERA, 191IP)
Gerald Wallace (3-6, 5.05ERA, 103.1IP)
Artie Holmes (6-6, 4.37ERA, 113.1IP)
Roger Newfield (0-5, 4.71ERA, 34SV)

With the move to Hartford last season saw one of the best pitching staff to one of the worst in the National League last season. With a lot of the staff being traded away at the end of season last year, what’s left is a young group that is hungry to prove that this team can once again be one of the best pitching staffs in the league. Newfield will need to watch out this season as Rich Ford could be looking to take his closer spot this season. The Ice Storm has the third best pitching staff in the National League North.

Top Ten Prospects
1. Philip Pritchett
2. Curtis Palmer
3. Al McKinley
4. Patrick Cheney
5. Mark Rapp
6. Gus Abe
7. Omar Owen
8. John Giambi
9. Harry Cubillan
10. Dario Nomura

Owner Notes:
I would like to announce that the Smith family right here in Burlington had won the naming contest for the Ice Storm had will be receiving four life-time tickets for how ever long the Ice Storm remain in Burlington. These are some good seats right behind the home dugout. They will also be receiving a signed baseball from the whole team and a picture in the first program for opening day. Also Olympic gold medalist Ross Powers will be throwing the first pitch on opening night with the band Phish performing after the game. Hope everyone comes out to the ballpark.
Team Owner tbarden

Projected Record – 78-84

Milwaukee Bucks (waydogg5)
The Bucks are looking to finally work there way out of there the National League cellar this season as it looks like this team is ready to make a jump into contention. A lot of people in Milwaukee are really getting excited about the future of this team and the way the owner has changed this team for the better after only one season at the helm. All the major offensive fire power will come back but offensive wasn’t the problem for this team last season even they had trouble scoring outside of the homerun, the pitching staff is what really hurt them. The bullpen looks to be getting a slight overall with some players being let go and some young players taking over there spots. Now can the pitching staff become what everyone expects for them to become are will they underachieve again like last season. The team only lost Felipe Alvarez (SS) (.264, 12, 51), Pepper Eldred (P) (5-6, 6.37ERA, 27SV), Lyle Taft (P) (5-9, 4.38ERA, 1SV) and Eugene Brooks (1B) (.270, 14, 37). The team signed Emmanuel Navarro (P) (7-5, 5.76ERA, 1SV) to a 4yrs/18.4mil. The team didn’t make any trades during the off-season this season.
Off-Season Grade: C
Well this team good job of keeping a good offensive group together and letting go some relievers that weren’t doing good for this team in the bullpen. The signing of Navarro people will look at as a bad trade with his numbers from last season but I expect this team might be surprised but what he can do as a starter this season.

Projected Lineup
Mitchell Pickett SS (.286, 14, 46)
Tomas Olivares CF (.289, 13, 66)
Danny Harding LF (.244, 35, 89)
Wesley Stanley 3B (.294, 39, 96)
Julian Hartley 1B (.260, 32, 96)
Ronn Franco RF (.263, 30, 90)
Chris Bellhorn C (.276, 23, 99)
Hi Stoops 2B (.238, 16, 68)

Expect this team to put a lot of balls in the stands this season once again, but with very little people getting on base in front of the power hitters this team will see a lot of solo homeruns again. The Bucks have the third best offensive in the National League North.

Emmanuel Navarro (7-5, 5.76ERA, 1SV)
Jim Nathan (Rule 5)
Raymond Walton (10-12, 5.42ERA, 1CG)
Ernie Garcia (Claimed off waivers)
Mike Vander Wal (2-3, 4.50ERA, 1SV)
Vernon Bolton (0-0, 2.08ERA, 6SV)

Most teams have a closer by community but it looks like this team will throw everyone into the starting rotation and see which ones come out to be the best five at the end of the year. With Bolton back for a full healthy season the bullpen will be much better this season and very dangerous towards the end of the games this season. The Bucks have the second best pitching staff in the National League North.

Top Ten Prospects
1. Orber Sierra
2. Sal Moore
3. Jay Phillips
4. Pedro Azocar
5. Tony Butler
6. Nicholas Lowe
7. Jamie Suzuki
8. Tony Howell
9. Jonathan Duran
10. Jolbert Alomar

Owner Notes:
The Bucks are ready to win the National League North this season so I hope that we don’t surprise anyone when we do it this season

Projected Record – 85-77