Sunday, October 7, 2007

A Shift at Shortstop in Baltimore Provides a Spark

Roger Miller knew that the Baltimore front officer considered him their shortstop of the future. He just didn't realize how quickly the future could become today.

Miller, acquired from Colorado before season four for prospects, started the year out as an athletic center fielder with a lively, albeit streaky and impatient, bat. Though he doesn't walk much, he has a knack for driving in runs and has some pop in his bat, after sending 30 balls out of the park in his first season with Baltimore. He'd begun to develop a reputation as the type of outfielder that could gun an ambitious runner out. He'd amassed 10 outfield assists in 140 games in season four and already had 9 outfield assists in 98 games in season 5.

None of this comes as any surprise to those who have followed Miller. Many of his closest observers will quickly tell you he's a natural. Unlike most young players, Miller needed little pampering that comes with the often sheltered life of a prized prospect in the minor league systems. Miller made his major league debut as a 21 year old and has been an everyday player since that first step onto major league grass.

But none of that meant anyone, even his biggest proponents, thought he was ready to play shortstop this year. In fact, many had begun to think, if not outright advocate, that he remain in center field for as long as possible based on his sterling defensive play. Furthermore, Baltimore had an all-star at shortstop, the steady, dependable Gary Ohman, who'd been selected to the all-star squad for the first time in season five as a 31 year old.

However, Ohman suffered from one of the cardinal athletic sins: he's injury prone. That, combined with Baltimore's early season offensive woes, would lead to Miller's insertion at shortstop after Ohman went on the DL for the second time in as many weeks after the all-star break.

Many were concerned with Miller's being able to make the transition defensively from Center field to shortstop, the most important defensive position on the field. Yet Miller hasn't missed a beat, having committed only five errors to this point in 38 games for a .978 fielding percentage. More importantly, Miller's move from Center to short has allowed room in the order for Vladimir Estrella, the rejuvenated former star from San Fran, as well as boosting significantly the offensive production at shortstop.

"No, I didn't think it would happen this soon", Miller says, "but, you know, I'm happy it did. The team seems to be responding and we're winning more now than we did earlier in the season when we were struggling."

When asked about Ohman, who isn't even on the playoff roster now, Miller responds, "Yea, it's hard for him, he told me so himself. And I think he's having a tough time with it. He's a competitive guy. But we can't dwell on that. It's not about one guy, it's about winning. If the guys in the front officer and the coaching staff feel like we have a better chance to win with me at short and Vlad in the lineup then that's what we've got to go with. It's working so far."

Baltimore's hopes for a deep playoff run this season and in future seasons will hinge on it working well into the future.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

An Underachiever No More

“He just never produced for me.”
--rough quote of a GM trying to reacquire Adrian Linton

Adrian Linton has been traded twice in his career. He’d been labeled an underachiever until he came to Baltimore. No longer. His first full season with Baltimore rightly could be considered the breakout year. But his second full year with Baltimore, still in progress, is what everyone is going to remember.

No slouch before his filling the Sandinistas uniform, Linton accumulated 123 runs, 44 homeruns and 143 RBI in 187 games, he has launched himself into the stratosphere of superstardom since. In 98 games this year, Linton has 76 runs, 30 Hrs, 100 RBI and a .319 BA. Plus he made an appearance in LF in a little game called the midsummer classic.

Baltimore needed Linton to fulfill the potential he’d been widely regarded of having, but never tapping, this year after having the chutzpah to let Woody Gaillard walk after having a career year. Linton has ably filled whatever offensive void Gaillard left. Gaillard has produced this year, on his new team, when in the lineup and not hobbled by injuries. But nobody in Baltimore really cares, thanks, in large part, to Linton.

Linton credits his reaching the summit of his potential to the Baltimore organization. "Look, everyone knew I always had the talent, especially me," Linton explains, "But, you know, I was young. The motivation wasn't there to be great. I thought I could make money, have a good time and play ball. Coming to Baltimore really changed that. I was on a winner for the first time. This organization is serious man, you gotta play when you're here. It woke me up."

Linton’s last two teams regret having traded him more with every passing game.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Revolutionary Offseason

Santiago Arrojo is a strange man with strange ideas. A devout Marxist who allegedly funnels the bulk of his 9.8 million dollar a year earnings to the Cuban government and describes as his hobby in the Baltimore media guide, “copying passages from Das Capital to experience writing profound words”, Arrojo’s views on baseball are understandably overshadowed at times. They wouldn’t be if he weren’t such a weirdo. Arrojo sneers at the notion that a pitcher ought to aim for spots or even know where he’s going to throw the ball. Instead Arrojo subscribes to the original idea that a pitcher should operate on “feel”. “Baseball is not an intellectual game, that is a distortion”, claims Arrojo, “propagated by the capitalist media.” A relevant question at this point would be, how did this man get a big league contract? We don’t know either, but Baltimore is ruing the day they handed him the big bucks. They even went so far as to waive him this off-season, but, for some reason, there wasn’t any interest.

However, there was more to the Baltimore off-season than trying to shed the revolutionary wing of the team. Remember our earlier column describing the rush to the end of the track by the aging Baltimore roster, along with the prediction that the Einstein heirs in the front office would pull a rabbit or two from their collective fedora? Well, there weren’t any literal rabbits, but two young stars have suddenly appeared on the Baltimore roster, that, no matter how high and low we search, don’t appear to have been there before.

Roger Miller is a 23 year old jack of all trades. He can play virtually any position on the field (excepting flamethrower and backstop), and hit 29 home-runs to go along with 92 RBIs as a 22 year old last season on the worst team in the history of organized sport, the Colorado something or others. We’re trying to forget that they ever existed. He’ll start the season in center, but projects, long-term, as Baltimore’s shortstop of the future, the heir to the throne once it’s vacated by living legend and all-around demi-god John Witt. Davey Blanco, the other young stud picked from the pocket of a wannabe rival, projects as a Pedro Martinez like ace. Expected to start the season in AAA until, at the latest, September call-ups, Blanco is projected by the Baltimore scouting department (top 2 in the league) to have five (5!) viable pitches, be equally devastating against right and left handers, and to be feared and resented by the league quite akin to the manner in which the world once cowered before the Mongol hordes.

Life once again flows through the Baltimore roster, and it is expected to last well beyond this season.

Scottsdale Elitists Aiming For The Stars

After averaging 99 victories the last 3 seasons, Scottsdale Elitists bench coach Wesley Carver decided it was time for a change. Scottsdale's offense had been the top offense of each of the last three seasons, however, their pitching was painfully average, and they never moved past the second round of the playoffs.

"It was painfully obvious that we needed to acquire some top end pitching talent," stated Carver, "We would rather have 5-1 games than 8-6 games night after night." What Carver did next was suggested to owner Leppy Kahn that they acquire three talented starting pitchers, at any price. Kahn approved the signing of Jon Jacobs, Oswaldo Osuna, and Elvis Russell.

Corey Pote was traded, and then refused the trade saying "I want to be an Elitist until I die," Pote was promptly waived by the franchise. "It was either that or shoot him," Carver noted, "As far as I'm concerned, he's dead to the Elitists. Corey, have you ever seen Logan's Run?" Also gone is 52 HR/183 RBI 1B Glen Cedeno. The team even considered moving hitting phenom William Cho, who is widely considered to be a hall of fame caliber player, even though he's only 22. The Elitists replaced the veterans Pote and Cedeno with big bat Denny Lloyd and promoted another big bat to play 1st, Pascual Romero . The move of Pote allows the Elitists to finally move 22 year old phenom Fransisco Mercado from LF to 2B. Also switching positions is Earl Hardy. Hardy moves to SS, after playing 3B, RF, 3B in the previous 3 seasons. "I'll do whatever it takes to help the team win," says Hardy. His team first attitude will be helpful with the loss of other veteran leadership on the team... Veteran leadership whose departure leaves about $15M in cap space for the Elitists. "We'll be looking to make a deal," says owner Kahn, " It's pennant season in Scottsdale. We expect a lot from the Elitists. " Indeed.

The Elitists think rather highly of themselves. This reporter however, does not.
Projection - 70-91, 4th in the AL West.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

New York Carloses Offseason

The New York Carloses made the playoffs for the third year in a row, and management seems content to roll the dice on the same core of players for Season 4. The only notable departure from the team is Jose Gonzales who played admirably last season, in what looks to be his last. He is being replaced with veteran Art Long, who is being asked to take on a utility role for the first time in his career.

The Carloses still return with veterans allstars at catcher, first base and center - but the rest of the offense is young and there are only 3 true veterans on the pitching staff.

That said, the youth has been maturing well and the team should be entering its prime, with 15 players on their active roster who are under 27. The Carloses are gambling on their few veterans being able to act as a bridge until the future stars of Beamon, Singleton, Keller and Fernandez are prepared to take over - this transition season will be interesting to watch.

Las Vegas Mets

Spring training is here and the Mets have been busy. We made an offer for free agent Gerald Ono, but he decided to go elsewhere. Decided to give 2nd baseman Placido Guitirrez an extension for 4 years and $32.30 million. As a replacement for Ono, we signed Javier Garrido who's 4 years younger has a great glove and speed to patrol the outfield, get on base and steal a few. Since you can never have enough pitching, we signed free agent Earl Buckley for 3 years and 21 million. He can give us over 200 innings, and able to induce many groundballs. Only the season will tell if we've made the right decisions. Las Vegas is rooting and watching and they expect at least a playoff entry this year.

Monday, April 30, 2007

What Happens When You Die?

Despite what your Holy Book of choice tells you, we really don't have any empirical evidence filling us in on what happens when we come unstuck from time (RIP). If it's anything like the decline of a pro-sports team, we ought to consider ourselves lucky that we're kept in the dark.

The Death of a Franchise can come in several forms. Depending on which course is chosen, recovery and resurrection can either come very quickly, or, seemingly, not at all. And there's always suicide (we're looking at you Wayne Huizenga). A sports franchise which doesn't plan ahead for the inevitable, and it is inevitable, sports are cyclical, how quickly you rotate is up to you, is doomed to sport purgatory, endless mediocrity, no championships, cynical fans, all bad for business. The modern day sports franchise has to be ready to pull itself out of the hole once it gets buried.

The Baltimore Sandinistas are coming to the proverbial fork in the road. Many of the clubs star veterans are over 30. The starting pitching staff boasts two starters under 30, but barely, and questions surround the future of Al Maxwell in Baltimore, after one and a half disappointing seasons following his acquisition from Buffalo after looking like a world beater during Buffalo's run to the World Series in season one, when he went 4-0 in the playoffs. Baltimore management had him pegged as the perfect fifth starter and clutch playoff performer, a rise to the occasion type of guy with that extra gear for the frosty months. It didn't work out.

Santiago Concepcion, an Ace if the word has any meaning, went 22-3 this past season, but slowed down in the playoffs. Many are comparing his playoff appearances to Sonny Liston when, in his fights against a young Cassius Clay, he seemed to age before the eyes of the fighting audience. Luckily, help is on the way. Baltimore's farm system, in addition to having super-stud Stephen O'Connor, boasts four other major league projected starting pitchers.

The lineup is in better shape. Several stars are 30+ or approaching 30 fast, and heavy-weight salaries may not be tenable for all. However, of more concern is the fact that help isn't on the way. Aside from young 2B Dustin Burns, a hotshot prospect with an inflated ego and confidence to spare (he demanded mucho dinero upon being drafted, far above what he was slotted for) and workman-like hitting machine 1B Bret Jensen, the farm system might as well be experiencing a famine, plague, and termite infestation all while floating in the middle of the ocean on the last plank of a capsized ship.

Baltimore management find themselves in an odd position. The end is in sight, but it's still a season or two away. There's a clear choice here, make that last push, selling the future for one last roll of the dice or start hedging bets. Don't splurge on player salary, ship a veteran, get a prospect, diminish World Series hopes...but fight another day.

We have to remember that we're talking about Baltimore though. This franchise probably has the sharpest brain trust in the big leagues steering the rig. Knowing them, they probably plan on cheating death a few more times before the curtain drops.

World Series Champions

This comes as shocking news to baseball fans around the world. The Montreal Expos have won the World Series. No one even predicted they'd make the playoffs after a very slow start to the season when the team went 10-13 in their first 23 games. With the loss of veteran starter Mike Simmons for the first 2 months, fans were extremely pessimistic about the teams chances, especially with Syracuse and Philadelphia's explosive start to the year.

The Expos eventually picked it up and went on an amazing run going 30-12 in the following games, looking like last years team (108-54). The most important factor was the offense. Eugene Harris (.290, 52 HR, 176 RbI's), Hector Mareina (.313, 26 HR, 99 RBI's), and Timothy Black(.299, 34 HR, 99 RBI's) were no surprises. Don Takada and Matt Lee, on the other hand, were huge surprises. They both had a career numbers. Takada (.314, 45 HR, 164 RBI's) and Lee (.331, 20 HR and 97 RBI's). They were criticized for not playing at their potential and the media wasn't shy to show it after an early departure from the playoffs last season. Other notable offensive player was Jesse Bagley. He was also an important addition to the first team in the regular season and in the playoffs, replacing injured Hector Mareina.

Last Years CY Young winner, Dario Christensen, had a very disappointing season with numbers nowhere close to the award, where he finished with a 12-10 record and a 5.05 Era. Ask any veteran players and they will tell you that clinching a playoff spot is like the re-birth of a season, and that's exactly how Christensen felt as he posted a 4-0 record with a 3.70 Era. Throughout the history of baseball, not a lot of players have come back from an injury to then put up the best numbers of their careers. Just ask Mike Simmons. He went 11-6 in the season with 3.31 ERA but was clearly the reason why the Montreal Expos won the WS, beating the toughest offensive teams. Two of those wins came vs the heavily favorite Jackson BK in the finals. The 4-1 and 1.88 ERA (averaging 6 2/3 innings a start) that Simmons posted are numbers that legends produce.

Now the Expos will try to build on this WS title as the competition will get tougher and tougher every year. This just shows you that any team that makes the post season, even a 2nd seated wild card team, can win the glorious award.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


Have a good one, that's ready for the big time. Carlos Galarraga has earned a right to come up and play with the big boys. In 3 minor league seasons, he's managed 49 hrs, 314 rbi's, 112 stolen bases. Has a 98-100 speed with a great batting eye. Plays the corner outfields and 1st base. He can be a great leadoff hitter than can steal a base. Has been seen on the Vegas scene trying to soak up the local flavor. Like all MLB players, especially in Vegas, management strongly prohibits betting of any kind. Can Carlos stay away from trouble and concentrate on being the great ballplayer he can be? With no other major league team in the city, Las Vegas will be watching closely.

The Coil

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride - that best describes the Burlington Squirming Coil. 100+ wins in each of three HBD seasons in Bo Jax, cruising to division titles in the A.L. East each year. An MVP, a Cy Young winner, multiple all-stars, silver sluggers, golden glovers, and some rookie of the year votes along the way. Playing in one of the least friendly ballparks for hitters - with outfield walls stretching nearly across Lake Champlain, the team's strength has always been pitching, a mix of seasoned vets and young bucks on the way up. This year the Coil lost decidedly to Jackson in the ALCS, and even though they won 108 games and will be bringing back virtually the same team next year, there's a definite feeling that they are not getting any younger and their time as an elite franchise will soon be a thing of the past. The pressure's on for a ring.

The offense is a balanced attack focusing on contact, speed, and the occasional 3 run homer. Led by the dynamic IF duo of 2B Eddie Hawkins and SS Jimmy Christensen, the Coil will steal bases, move runners, and present difficulty almost to the bottom of the order. LF Wally McCrae is ready for a breakout year, and will likely bat leadoff. CF Johnny Witt, after a disappointing year 2 season, bounced back last year and hopes to add to his already impressive catch of 2 gold gloves in the year ahead. The team will be looking for a solid DH in his prime after declining the option on 37 year old Christopher Springer. They've got some money to spend, but with McCrae and young C Luis Alvarez up for arbitration and looking for a long-term contract, the priority in Burlington is to tie up those young players for years to come. Lefty Courtney Buck, acquired in a trade last season, enters year 4 as a possible rookie of the year candidate, especially if he can keep his whip totals down and rely on the Coil's impressive defense.

The Beautiful Ones

Today we’d like to discuss phenoms. Phenoms capture the imaginations of those within and without the fields they operate. The excitement they generate brings new followers and, can, rejuvenate a field, an organization, a franchise, so great is the magnetic character of their talent. Tiger Woods has carried the sport of golf on his back, earning the label “The Only Golfer That Matters”, should anyone wish to bestow it on him. LeBron James has brought the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball franchise back from a forsaken NBA purgatory. For many sports fans, phenoms, those with unexplainable and unimaginable talent, are the reason they watch sports. Phenoms represent the pinnacle of athletic talent and achievement.

Baseball phenoms are a bit different. Often, in their younger years, they fly under the radar of all but the most hard-core baseball fans or the hometown fans. The casual fan doesn’t know about the young baseball phenom until he seemingly bursts onto the scene out of thin air, in a reverse version of spontaneous combustion. Boston fans certainly knew about Jonathan Papelbon, but the nation didn’t learn his name until he posted some of the most filthy pitching numbers in the history of closing baseball games…as a rookie.

Stephen O’Connor is still under the radar. His statistics tell the story, he is clearly an emerging phenom. O’Connor, a 22 year old pitcher at AAA, is 37-4, with a 2.38 ERA, .228 OAV, .280 OBP, and 394 strike outs in 405 IP, for his minor league career. Last season, at the AA level, he posted his most impressive numbers, going 17-1.

The upside of the phenom designation is only one half of the equation. For many young athletes standing on the edge of superstardom the pressures can be too much, the accolades can come too soon, and the hurdles of life may be too high. Todd Van Poppel and Dwight Gooden are two examples that spring readily to mind.

Whether O’Connor lives up to the promise he has displayed thus far, or succumbs to the accompanying pressure, will be a question on the minds of everyone who follows the Baltimore Sandinistas. Ultimately, only time will tell.

A Couple Notes

1) Please use as many labels as possible with your posts as this will enable us to more easily navigate the archives in the future

2) If you'd like to put images in your posts, they are as follows, simply cut and paste the text and insert the proper fields:

< img src=" CITY NAME.jpg" width="148" height="73"/ >

For instance, my franchise name reads NewYork_2.jpg. So:
< img src="" width="148" height="73"/ >


If that sounds complicated, head shots are even more so.

Greg Sherman, SP, New York Carloses

Greg Sherman has been a revelation to the Carloses.

Going into Season 2, Sherman was an afterthought, making the bullpen as the Mop-Up pitcher. His efforts didn't go unnoticed, and he was soon moved into long relief, posting an ERA under 3 in relief. There his dominance continued, and he moved into the rotation about 50 games in to Season 2, never to look back.

It is safe to say that Sherman is on the brink of stardom, and if not for his low stamina, would already be there. The Carloses are envisioning him as their future ace, which says a lot in light of Pete Hayes and Ismael Herrera at the front of the rotation.

Season 3: W - 14, L - 6, IP- 205, SO -138, WHIP - 1.27, ERA - 2.98
Career: W - 24, L - 10, IP - 381.1, SO - 279, WHIP - 1.27, ERA - 3.19

Las Vegas Mets

The Las Vegas Mets have been improving every year. After 2 last place finish 64.98 (1), 72-90(2), we finally arrived as a .500 team 81-81 to finish 2nd. Things are looking up in the desert. Anchored by Catfish Hutton acquired in Season 2, has become the ace of the staff, with a 16-5 record, 3.10 era and a whip of 1.10. Pitching a no hitter on April Fools Day against the Florida Juicers. Leading in the bullpen is Damaso Seanez 24 year old closer, who saved 31 out of 32, with 1.96 era and a whip of 0.92. and has been compared to Mariano Rivera in the local paper. These 2 guys helped the Mets to a 21-3 run. Solid at 1st base with 24 year old Stubby Paige, had a great year with 36 HRs and 128 rbi's and .317 avg, played in all 162 games. Geronimo Posada also very solid at short, 29,110 .313. Leading in the outfield is Andres Benitez with a great year as well 34, 123, .245. After acquiring Placido Gutierrez in a trade during season 1, he has been a disaster. Been on the disabled list every year for extended period. His 6 million contract makes him hard to move as well. I will be looking to acquire more pitching as well as a catcher and an outfielder. Gerald Ono is 32 and is making 7.5 million, not sure how much he still has in the tank. Greetings from Vegas, until next time.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Olmedo Gonzalez, 1B, NY Carloses

Olmedo Gonzalez is undoubtedly the stud in the New York Carloses lineup.

Prior to Season 3, the Carloses signed Gonzalez to a 3-year contract extension at a discount. Observers justified the bargain price ($6.1 million per year for the lifetime 1.100 OPS slugger) by citing his declining skills (with his overall rating dropping from 78 to 74 in two seasons), yet 'Made' (as he is known by teammates) was undaunted.

Made proceeded to put up monster numbers in the first half of the season and, despite a real fall-off in the second half, he managed to lead the league in HRs (61) and RBIs (192). He also set personal highs in average and slugging, while improving his discipline on the basepaths by dropping his caught stealing from 10 in Season 1 to 1 in Season 3 (one might question why he ever runs considering that he has NEVER STOLEN A BASE!!!).

Looking to Season 4 is difficult to predict.

Is the decline of the 2nd half due to a real collapse in ability?

Or is it due to overusage, a problem that the front office has identified and plans to manage better next year?

This much is clear though, the Season 1 MVP must come through if the Carloses intend to make the playoffs for the 4th year in a row.

This observer, for one, is excited to see whether the legendary slugger will continue to blend in with all the young players that NYThrill has surrounded him with!


Season 3: BA - .350, HR - 61, RBI - 192 OBP - .426, SLG - .733, OPS - 1.159
Career: BA - .344, HR - 166, RBI - 532, OBP - .428, SLG - .689, OPS - 1.117

Welcome - Overview

Hey all - welcome to the HBD Bo Jackson League Blog. This blog is devoted to trying to make our league seem as real as possible.

While you're free to use this space for whatever you'd like to discuss about the league, my hope is that this blog allows us to find out more about other teams, other stars and exciting games.

My suggestion is that we use the labels for the post to label with team names, player names and categories, such as Prospects, Teams, On The Block, Recaps and Stars. This way, the blog's archives can be used to scout other teams and look for trading options.

I imagine most of us will only write about our teams, but we should be able to learn from each other.

In the next day or two, I will post about my top player, top pitcher, top prospects and (hopefully) a team overview. If anyone else wants to get involved with posting, send me a request with your email address (whichever email you use for google is preferrable) and I will invite you and grant posting duties - two rules: no profanity directed at someone else (you can curse at the players, not the owners), and no personal attacks of any nature.

Have fun, please feel free to use this thread to discuss your ideas for this blog.