Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Offseason Movers and Shakers

The major leagues saw a plethora of ownership changes in the offseason, and as the new owners overhaul their various franchises, they are not the only ones with new zip codes.  A full eleven Type A free agents have moved into fresh digs for Season 4, and their impact will be felt across the majors. Helena, D.C., and Portland were the major players, signing two Type As each during the active signing period.

What follows is a two-part recap of the Elite 11. Part 1 will review the signings made by the most aggressive ballclubs:

Portland Powers
The Powers blew 15 saves as a team in Season 3, and set out in free agency to remedy the situation by throwing some cash at it.

Richard Davis
Age: 29B/T: S/R
Born: Pelham, AL
Position(s): P (ClA)
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The club handed the closer job to Richard Davis, he of the 1.01 career WHIP and 97 saves in the prior three seasons. Awarding him a 5-year contract, the club clearly has confidence that the 29-year old will be their closer for the foreseeable future.

Michael Eiland
Age: 32B/T: R/R
Born: Columbus, OH
Position(s): P (SuA)
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With terrifyingly named Rocky Holder inspiring no confidence, the club also went out and got setup man Michael Eiland to fortify the bullpen and get the ball to their new closer. Eiland has shown remarkable durability, throwing more than 120 innings during both Season 1 and Season 3 as a reliever. If he can continue to take the mound with that kind of regularity, he will more than earn the $3.2 million he got this offseason.

Washington D.C. bulletts: 
With a core of sluggers in their prime, bulletts management clearly knows that the time for action is now. This team is built to win today, and it added two more pieces to that construction during the offseason.

Eric Harriger
Washington D.C.
Age: 27B/T: R/R
Born: Wolf Point, MT
Position(s): RF/CIF/LF/DH
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Harringer has posted a career .920 OPS and 91 home runs during the last three seasons. That would be outstanding for a veteran of ten years, but at age 27, this star RF is barely entering his prime! Now a fixture in our nation's capital alongside other premier sluggers, watch for Harringer to show fans what $61.5 million looks like in person.

Gene Wright
Washington D.C.
Age: 30B/T: S/R
Born: Kiel, WI
Position(s): 2B/CIF/OF/DH
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A skilled defender, veteran presence, and excellent contact hitter, Wright is expected to get on base ahead of the mashers at the center of the D.C. lineup, as well as act as a utility defender at several spots on the diamond. A key role player for a bargain price, this was a shrewd signing by the front office.

Only three years removed from a World Series championship, the Helena franchise has seen much of the talent from that Season 1 juggernaut depart or diminish. These two provided an injection of fresh ability:

Hank Chase
Warrior Princesses
Age: 31B/T: R/R
Born: Sterling Heights, MI
Position(s): 2B/3B/SS
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Chase brings his 157 career HRs to Helena, where they hope he will replace the declining and departed middle infield production of Timo Diaz.

Archie Spurgeon
Warrior Princesses
Age: 30B/T: R/R
Born: Richland Center, WI
Position(s): 3B
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Alongside Chase, new 3B Spurgeon will look to add enough pop to the Helena lineup to bring about an offensive eruption. If he can match or raise his career .905 OPS, the club will reap the benefits of its 3-year, $24 million investment.

Keep an eye out for part 2, where we will break down the rest of the cream of the free agent crop!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Season 3 Recap

The regular season of Season 3 saw the defending World Series Champion Philadelphia Slayers from the powerhouse NL East win an impressive 99 games. That, however, was good enough for only third in their own division.  Entering the playoffs as a wild card and sixth seed for the second year in a row, they were pushed to the brink in the first round by the Durham Jedi Knights (now the Louisville Colonels) before hitting their stride. In their three subsequent playoff series, including the World Series, they lost only one game in each round, validating the claims of many pundits that the NL East is far and away the elite division in major league baseball.

That is all in the past.  A tumultuous offseason saw ownership changes in nearly half of all major league cities, including two of the NL East franchises.  Will new philosophies bring balance to MLB, or will the amassed talent in Syracuse, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC, continue to tip the scales dramatically in favor of the juggernaut division that boasts a staggering six (!) playoff teams in the last two seasons?  

Stay tuned.