Saturday, April 30, 2011

Welcome to Season 14!

After an exciting season capped off by a World Series battle between the unlikely Austin Bears and the San Francisco Sea Lines, World WIB returns for it's 14th season of exciting matchups.

With the entire AL returning and only two different owners in the NL, this season promises to be chock full of rematches, bad blood, and inside jokes between shucky, victorzhao, and bullfrog.

With all of that said, welcome to season 14!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

NL East Season Preview

Norfolk Admirals
Owner: optistrat
Previous Season Record: 85-77
Best Player: Cedrick Charleston
Key signing/loss: Jackson Staley
Random Trivia: With the result they had last season, clearly Jesus himself is the captain of this ship....

Coming off of a World Series season that neither optistrat thought possible nor Nostradamus could've foretold, Norfolk looks to repeat their improbable run to immortality in Season 13.

With very few changes to a lineup that actually finished at or below league average in almost all major statistical categories, the Admirals obviously believe in what they've already got. With the resigning of veteran slobberknockin' catcher Jackson Staley, the Admirals return all but one player from the lineup from Season 12.

As much as the Admirals hold serve with their lineup, they do precisely the same thing with their rotation as well--the only change in their staff is a homegrown change, which is moving Al Martinez out of the bullpen and into the rotation. Again, finishing only slightly above league average a 4.32 team ERA, the Admirals are obviously hoping for another miraculous occurrence with their performance this season.

Predicted record: 83-79

C Jackson Staley
1B Javier Morales
2B Carlos Merced
3B Gregg Munson
SS Matt Sizemore
LF Benito Marquez
CF Cedrick Charleston
RF Rey Ray

Napoleon Aven
Dorian Wells
Al Martinez
Boots Thomas
Juan Galarraga

Brandon Barnes

Rochester Red Wings
Owner: shesaid
Previous Season Record: 79-83
Best Player: Wayne Alexander
Key signing/loss: None
Random Trivia: The Red Wings are named after a team they compare favorably in talent to---the Rochester Red Wings, AAA affiliate of the Minnesota Twins....

With a starting third baseman coming off the waiver wire and hitting 3rd, a Rule 5 selection at the #3 spot in the rotation, and nary a free agent signing in sight, the Red Wings subscribe to the "less is more" theory when it comes to roster additions.

With the one meager addition to a  lineup that finished well below league average last season, it will be interesting to see what happens with the Red Wings offense this season. Will Newston be able to boost them into the top half of the league?

While the original plan was to add Rule 5 selection Augie Romero to the starting staff, the Red Wings quickly reversed course and slotted him into the bullpen. With every starter in the rotation starting at least 12 games last season, this is unquestionably the most stable pitching staff in all of WIB, and in this case, that's not a bad thing. With a 4.22 team ERA last season, the Red Wings finished above the NL average, and they look to improve on that this season.

Predicted record: 78-84

LF Bob Harrison
1B Tomas Chavez
3B Preston Newston
CF Wayne Alexander
RF Greg Keats
2B R. A. Pose
C Jose Domingo
SS Morgan Randall

Derrek Kimbrel
Robin Roth
Luther Wagner
Philip Jones
Jeremy Lee

Al Sierra

Hartford Aristocrats
Owner: ck1909
Previous Season Record: 78-84
Best Player: Sven Cerda
Key signing/loss: Losing Raul Diaz to free agency
Random Trivia: Much like how The Hangover's Alan isn't allowed in Chuck-E-Cheese anymore, ck1909 isn't allowed to trade with newbies....

Getting away from their steroid-induced ways of the past, these Aristocrats are a shell of their former selves. After systematically breaking down and trading away as many pieces as they possibly could, the Aristocrats seemingly made few changes from last season to this, and despite playing in a park that would make Coors Field blush at the offensive production it allows, finished barely above league average in most major offensive categories last season. Combined with a below-average ERA (again, not surprising due to the tee-ball field they play in), the Aristocrats finished below .500 for the first time in the existence of the franchise.

Sadly, continuity seems to be king in Hartford, and another sub-.500 season looms large. With few changes in the entire franchise from top to bottom, the chances of a higher finish this season are slim and slimmer.

Predicted Record: 72-90

C Ramiro Torres
1B Alex Eusebio
2B Tanner Gragg
3B Scott Sowders
SS Donte Seneca
LF Armando Rosado
CF Fausto Seguinol
RF Ricardo Aguilera

Sven Cerda
Achilles Hamilton
Antonio May
Carlos Seanez
Lewis Torres

Duke Weaver

Burlington Benjamins
Owner: stymietime23
Previous Season Record: 73-89
Best Player: Richard Matsuzaka
Key signing/loss: Signing Aurelio Flores
Random Trivia: After his firing from ESPN, Harold Reynolds is now sexually harassing the outfield fans at Mustain Stadium.

In what appears to be an attempt at a return to relevance in the NL East, the Benjamins made a few moves to bolster a lineup that finished near last in team OPS last season. While not surprising considering that Burlington plays in the least offensive park known to man, a .685 team OPS makes even Mario Mendoza cry on the inside.

While the signing of Aurelio Flores adds a solid bat to a struggling lineup and defensive 3B Dweezil Johnson will attempt to improve an already above-average defense, Burlington actually stays very consistent in the pitching staff. Every starter had at least 23 starts last season, so clearly the Benjamins are praying that experience means something in this game.

Predicted record: 75-87

C Jay Bold
1B Jeff Stone
2B Aurelio Flores
3B Dweezil Johnson
SS Isaac Upshaw
LF Richard Matsuzaka
CF Harold Reynolds
RF Hector Cruz

Magglio Tatis
Jaime Cohen
Brent Stanley
Eli Soriano
Terry Mercedes

Cameron Hogan

Sunday, January 23, 2011

AL South Season Preview

Atlanta Gold Club
Owner: bjb2378
Previous Season Record: 95-67
Best Player: Gene Sirotka
Key signing/loss: None
Random Trivia: "Ninety percent I'll spend on good times, women, and irish whiskey. The other ten percent I'll probably waste." -- Tug McGraw

After eight consecutive seasons of incompetence and frustration, all while stockpiling international free agents and draft picks, the Gold Club emerged into relevance in Season 11 with a 24-game improvement, taking a wild card spot. Improving on that previous season, the Gold Club won 95 games and took the AL South in Season 12, but the onslaught is nowhere near over. With two players out of their nine position players on the Season 13 roster from outside his organization's farm system, the Gold Club have perhaps the world's most home-grown roster from top to bottom.

While the Gold Club didn't have any major signings or losses this season, they do call up three farm system players to add their top-quartile lineup from last season. The addition of sluggers Davey Arrojo and Stan Horton, along with slick-fielding Davey Frias, makes this already dangerous lineup flat-out scary.

Making no changes to a rotation that was also in the top-quartile of the world last season, the Gold Club are clearly looking to establish dominance in the AL South.

Predicted Record: 104-58

CF Benito Hernandez
2B Rob Nicholson
DH Davey Arrojo
RF Stan Horton
1B Gene Sirotka
3B Wolf Kingman
LF Vinny Whiten
SS Davey Frias
C Gary Willoughby

Jim Wright
Pat Chang
Ron Long
Shane Hutch
Dan Montgomery

Cameron Perez

Austin Bears
Owner: rebelt
Previous Season Record: 90-72
Best Player: Vin Polonia
Key acquisition/loss: Trading for Phil Norton
Random Trivia: Wilt Kydd wears Vin Polonia underoos.

Picking up DH Phil Norton and right-handed hitting C Tomas Samuel, the Bears look to bolster a lineup that finished 2nd in the AL South last season and clinched the 2nd wildcard spot. Also calling up speedy 1B Alex Leon, the Bears hope to improve on the top-quartile offensive production they posted last season.

Also adding durable RP Shane Martin to a low-stamina staff including budding superstar Vin Polonia and overpaid veteran Joaquin Mendez, the Bears look to improve on their below-average 4.40 ERA from last season.

Predicted record: 94-68

C Tomas Samuel
1B Alex Leon
 DH Phil Norton
LF Douglas MacRae
CF Mendy Crosby
3B Luther Pearson
RF Esmailyn Lopez
SS Donzell Redman
2B Milton Heredia

Vin Polonia
Joaquin Mendez
Alexei Canseco
Bucky Varitek
Randy Buford

Bartolo Bournigal

Texas Primetimers
Owner: Primetime17
Previous Season Record: 86-76
Best Player: Jon Caufield
Key signing/loss: Vladimir Diaz
Random Trivia: The only thing higher than the number of times Texas has been to the playoffs is the number of times their owner has been banned from the WifS forums.

As a long-time owner who has more HBD teams than Hugh Hefner has STD's, timeprime's consistently competitive WIB squad looks to improve on last season's 86-win campaign, the first time the squad has missed the playoffs since way back in Season 6.

Other than signing Vladimir Diaz to shore up an aging 3B position and acquiring DH Andy Evans in a trade, the Primetimers run out virtually the same lineup as they did last season. Led by LF Jon Caufield, the powerful offense of the Primetimers is on the bottom third of the world in average, but in the top third in OPS and runs scored.

The signing of veteran lefty Pascaul Contreras allows 5.54 ERA Alex Ferrer to move to the bullpen in attempt to improve on the 27th-ranked pitching staff from last season.

Predicted record: 82-80

1B Garrett Locke
3B Vladimir Diaz
LF Jon Caufield
2B Merv Parris
RF Cal Collins
DH Andy Evans
SS Ted Lennon
C Oswaldo Sivilla
CF Eric Sanford

Carmen Gryboski
Valerio Benitez
Rickey Grace
Pascual Contreras

Jesus Tavarez

Michael Throneberry

Santa Fe Fireballs
Owner: opie5
Previous Season Record: 78-84
Best Player: Darrell Parrish
Key signing/loss: Signing Darrell Parrish
Random Trivia: Many owners in WIB would like to fire the balls of lesliechow...

After a tumultuous offseason including an ownership change, a move to a new city, then another ownership change once the season was underway, fans of the Fireballs are just looking for some stability in this cold, cruel world. The comedy of errors that occurred in the offseason, however, makes lesliechow look like reigny. Between a $20M coaches budget, a grossly offensively-geared stadium, and misuse of prospects, lesliechow is now officially "persona non grata" in WIB.

Moving on, in what was perhaps one of the biggest signings of the offseason, new owner opie5 immediately looked at add some talent to the Fireballs with the signing of stud left-hander Darrell Parrish. That being said, something clearly had to be done with a bottom-quartile staff that has been moved to the biggest bandbox in all of WIB in Sante Fe. Don't expect much out of these guys this season.

In attempt to add some pop to a lifeless lineup, the Fireballs also added DH Brent Houston and 1B Harry Acosta, but it appears as though it will be a long season for this group as well.

Predicted Record: 71-91

RF Nap Roberts
SS Kirt Taylor
1B Harry Acosta
3B Willie Cruz
LF Einar Lee
DH Brent Houston
C Miguel Chavez
CF Raymond Hairston
2B Alvin Murphy

Darrell Parrish
Grant Mench
Mule Reynolds
Miguel Oliveras
Tori Mayne

Craig Hall

Thursday, January 20, 2011

AL West Season Preview

Albuquerque Banana Slugs
Owner: ****ky
Previous Season Record: 44-100
Best Player: Ching-Lung Huang
Key signing/loss: 
Random Trivia: The banana slug comes from the genus Ariolimax, which comes from the root, areola---this is a clear indication the owner intends to, as they say, "suck hind teat."

Ah, the Banana Slugs--an accurate name for the consistent performance these tankers continually put up. Finishing at the bottom of their division with an abysmal 44-100 record, not to mention the 3rd-worst pitching performance in all the land with a putrid 7.31 ERA, all of Albuquerque and WIB grow tired of the lack of effort in trying to win that this franchise shows.

The returning roster for these bottom feeders leaves little doubt that they will continue their putrid trend, leaving everyone wondering why the owner, he who shall not be named, ****ky, even bothers.

Predicted lineup: 48-96

LF Jose Tavarez
3B Ching-Lung Huang
2B Skeeter Rauch
SS Carlos Rivera
CF Ken Terrell
RF Ernie McCartney
1B Livan Vincente
C Danny Darwin
DH Alvin Carey

Rondell Peters
Norm Coles
Paul Hogan
Al Jose
Sam Velandia

Glen Francona

Salt Lake City Osmonds
Owner: bobkordecki
Previous Season Record: 73-89
Best Player: Davey Caballero
Key signing/loss: Signing Miguel Armas
Random Trivia: The city of Salt Lake celebrated the arrival of the Osmonds with nice, big, ice cold pitchers of....milk.

While new to WIB, veteran HBD'er bobkordecki immediately makes a move out of the cavernous confines of San Diego and into a more offensive-friendly Salt Lake City. Making one of the bigger splashes in this year's free agency, however, the Osmonds were most focused on pitching than offense with the addition of soft-armed Miguel Armas, opting to use him in a setup/closer role. The addition of Armas to a fantastic rotation including youngsters Felix Rothschild, Stuart Tracy, and Eddie Griffith, plus flamethrowing right-hander Aramas Benitez and newly-signed free agent Brutus Wright shows that the Osmonds are working to improve on a Season 12 pitching performance that was only marginally above league average, despite playing in San Diego.

The big question for the Osmonds will be how they respond to an offensive performance from Season 12 that puts them at or near the bottom of virtually every major statistical category. The departure of slobberknocker Phil Norton was mitigated somewhat by the arrival of budding star Paul McCorley, as McCorley will provide a noticeable upgrade behind the dish. The addition of Andre Fabregas and Branch Clayton also attempt to bolster a lineup, and should provide noticeable upgrades over their replacements from last year as well. These additions, along with the move to a new park, should provide a spark for the Joseph Smith-inspired Osmonds.

Predicted record: 82-80

DH Branch Clayton
RF Rich McMahon
1B Davey Caballero
LF Andre Fabregas
2B Stewart Guthrie
CF Brutus Moreno
SS Rick Freeman
C Paul McCorley
3B Allen Combs

Felix Rothschild
Stuart Tracy
Aramis Benitez
Brutus Wright
Eddie Griffith

Miguel Armas

Honolulu Sea Warriors
Owner: jmaese
Previous Season Record: 71-91
Best Player: Thom Donnells
Key acquisition/loss: Darrell Parrish (Left via FA)
Random Trivia: Honolulu tried for the more-fitting name "Rainbow Warriors," but found out that it had already been used.

Normally when you talk about a team's best player being the closer, that's not a good thing. Sadly, this is a normal case. With ace Darrell Parrish leaving the tropical paradise of the newly renamed Sea Warriors for the desert in Santa Fe, that leaves Honolulu with a gaping hole in an already questionable rotation. With a big league lineup containing aging stars Rickey DePaula, Leonardo Rauch, and Jim Pulpisher, the outlook here is equally as questionable.

The big questions for Honolulu: 1.)  Can Armando Molina assume the role of ace effectively? 2.) Can newly-signed veteran Dale Lombard bolster a rotation that was a combined 33-38 last season? 3.) Can young star Garrett Liverman build on last season's breakout performance (.293/.393/.525 with 25 home runs) and bolster the lineup?

Predicted record: 68-94

CF Sid Walton
2B Kelly Brow
1B Garrett Liverman
3B Rickey DePaula
C Nick Wilson
DH Leonardo Rauch
RF Diego Chavez
LF Jim Pulpisher
SS Pascual Gil

Armando Molina
Dale Lombard
Bennie Ventura
Al Marichal
Alton Price

Thom Donnells

Seattle Rainouts
Owner: farren83
Previous Season Record: 46-116
Best Player: William Maier
Key signing/loss: William Maier
Random Trivia: The inspirations for Seattle's team name include rapper T.I. and the similarities between Seattle weather and the franchise's recent performance.

In what is quite possibly a first in WIB history, a player taken in the Rule 5 draft immediately becomes the best player on the team. While it doesn't take much to be the best player on this team, that is actually not an indictment of the pick, slobberknocker William Maier. After being left inexplicably unprotected by Anaheim, Maier goes first in the Rule 5 draft and changes the outlook for the hopeful Rainouts....but not much.

While it is clear that Seattle is looking to improve from their WIB-low 46-win season under new owner farren83, there aren't many signs pointing to a miraculous run to a wild-card for this squad.

Predicted record: 63-99

RF Dan Martin
3B Diego Santana
1B William Maier
C Norberto Infante
LF Billy Strange
DH Junior Howard
SS Andrew Drew
2B Spud Malone
CF Vinny Wise

Tomas Prieto
Lewis Scott
John Kondou
Courtney Moore
Raymond Choate

Gary Walker

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

AL North Season Preview

Here it is at long last---our first divisional preview for Season 13!

We're starting with the AL North---the bunch that is more likely to excel at hockey than they are baseball, but that always seems to produce heavy competition near the top.


Buffalo Sunshine
Owner: frp1981
Previous Season Record: 91-71
Best Player: Cy Cashman
Key acquisition/loss: Traded for Kent Gipson
Random Trivia: The average temperature in Buffalo is 47. Apparently Buffalo likes wishful thinking in their nomenclature.

Taking over the banner franchise for the AL North, new owner frp1981 apparently has his sights set on something the previous owner hasn't done since way back in Season 8---having a payroll below $100M. By allowing some high-priced free agents to hit the road and having a relatively tame free agency themselves, the Sunshine are looking to do it on the cheap this year.

Just because the budget is nice and shiny doesn't mean the outlook is not---making a huge splash early on in the trade market and bringing in masher Kent Gipson and "Comeback Player of the Year" hopeful Kiki Jose (who posted a .711 OPS, a whopping .172 points lower than his career average), the Sunshine are going to be looking to make it rain on AL North pitching this season.

While the lineup blossoms, however, the rotation wilts a bit from last season. While they posted a virtual league-average 4.37 ERA last season, the Season 13 version of this luminous team gives up 13-game winner Cristobal Cruz, but restructures the staff to keep all the faces familiar---every pitcher in the rotation this season started at least 15 games last season. The question is whether this staff will gel together to produce the same results as last season. All I know is....everybody needs to put on their sunglasses, because the outlook for this team is bright.

Predicted record: 95-67

3B Raphael Moreno
LF Deivi Guerrero
1B Kenny Byrne
RF Kent Gipson
C Yeico Izquierdo
2B Kiki Jose
DH Antonio Duran
SS Zach Bonds
CF Ben O'Malley

Cy Cashman
Bruce Collier
Justin Washington
Matty Santana
Lon Venafro

Sean Taylor

New York Blue Devils
Owner: dukediggler5
Previous Season Record: 87-75
Best Player: Andy Taylor
Key acquisition/loss: Ricardo Johnson
Random Trivia: The Blue Devils are jumping feet-first into the AL North race. Wait...better not say anything about "feet" too loud---Rex Ryan lives in New York too.

With an extremely active free agency, spending a little bit over $25.1M, the Blue Devils are looking to make a run in the AL North this season. Although they lost righty stud John Payton to free agency, they did manage to resign Raul Osuna, and with the call up of young flamethrower Frank Fonville, the rotation anchored by Andy Taylor should maintain their Top-5 standing in team ERA this season.

The signing of slugger Ricardo Johnson looks to bolster a lineup that finished in the bottom 1/3 of the league last season, while the callup of speedy young center fielder Max Rollins, moving Sid Bynum to right field, looks to be an effort to improve an already fantastic defense (88 plus plays, 17 minus plays last season).

The Blue Devils are clearly gearing up to make a run, but will they have a prayer against the shining force in the AL North?

Predicted record: 95-67

LF Mark Sanders
2B Neifi Tejada
3B John Leonard
C Jaime Shea
DH Ricardo Johnson
1B Charlie Graves
RF Sid Bynum
CF Max Rollins
SS Tony Fernandez

Andy Taylor
Raul Osuna
Jose Duran
Frank Fonville
Josias Julio

Wolf Guerrero

Chicago Mutant Mules
Owner: kelly_mccann
Previous Season Record: 69-93
Best Player: Stephen Newman
Key acquisition/loss: Trading for Derrik Sierra
Random Trivia: The Mules aren't the only thing that mutated in Chicago. Have you seen the Bears? They turned into a real football team!

In what is clearly an effort to improve a bottom-quartile offense last season, the Mutant Mules went on a youth movement and snatched up speedy 2B Derrik Sierra and CF Tony Arias. Added to an already potent lineup including young star Stephen Newman and young DH Curtis Crandall, this youth movement looks to inflict some damage on what appears to be a stacked AL North.

With a league-average pitching staff last season that adds finesse aging righties Malachi Plant and Alberto Dominguez to the rotation, the Mutant Mules clearly don't believe in the same youth movement with their pitchers as they do with their position players.

Predicted Record: 81-81


Ken Wood

Toledo Tigers
Owner: lcarmona76
Previous Season Record: 57-105
Best Player: Rich Jefferies
Key acquisition/loss: Signing Raul Diaz
Random Trivia: "Spud" is the favorite name in Toledo

With a team that is much more suited to Boise than Toledo, the bi-Spudal Tigers look to rebound from a 57-105 campaign in Season 12.

The problem is, they just don't have the taters to do it.

With 0-9, 6.90 ERA Alex Guerrero being the only pitcher in the starting rotation back from the Tiger's Season 12 campaign, the addition of Paxton Garcia and Raul Diaz looks to patch up a staff that hemorrhaged runs for the entire season.

Coming off of a Season 12 lineup that produced 300 fewer runs than their pitching staff gave up, the Tigers add Rule 5 pick and the king of redundancy king, Stewart Stewart---and not much else. There are no "new" faces in the starting 9, only guys who will be increasing their role in the upcoming season.

Predicted record: 51-111

C Trevor Bowles
1B Patrick Blume
2B Spud Abbey
3B Rich Jefferies
SS Al Sanchez
LF C.C. Webster
CF Don Elarton
RF Stewart Stewart
DH Bo Conroy

Paxton Garcia
Raul Diaz
Dan Kirby
Alex Guerrero

Spud Olerud

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Welcome to the new WIB blog!

I'm just getting things ramped up here so it'll be a little sparse for the first few days, but there'll be plenty here in no time.

First thing I'm going to do is start off with season previews for each team that will be published immediately after the winter meetings conclude. Once all FA signings are in, I'll do previews broken down by division.

If anyone else has anything they'd like to add or something they'd like me to do, feel free to let me know.