Blackhawk 2016 Season Update

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Blackhawks Regular Season Report Card
Playoff Appearance a Huge Surprise

by Caitlen Sullivan
Chicago Tribune Sports
September 7, 2016


The expectations in the Chicago front office were low – a .500 season would have been deemed an optimistic outlook. But the Blackhawk players had other ideas. They finished the regular season with a third place finish, 45-39, and now face the St. Louis Blues in the playoffs for a chance to get to the championship round and be promoted to the Silver League. Here’s a report card on how players did this year.

First Base

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Alfredo Rodriguez, pictured above, missed four weeks of the season, his first ever injury and the first time he missed any Blackhawk games. After coming back, he hit very well, ending up at .301 although he hardly showed the power he used to exhibit. Bucky was used as the DH for most of the last half of the season. Grade: B+.

John Dingle was horrible with New York last year. He signed a free agent contract and upped his average by 75 points. His 52 RBIs led the team, and he plays a solid 1B. Will he sign an extension? Grade: B+

Second Base

Newcomer free agent Pat Wagner didn’t hit nearly as well as hoped, but he played a solid second base and stole 9 bases in 11 attempts. Grade: C+

Holdover Chris Brewer had a brief try at the 2B job, but his anemic bat couldn’t keep him in the lineup. He does provide solid defense at 2B, SS, and 3B as a utility guy. Grade: C.

Third Base

Erwin Hurst missed only two games and upped his average 25 points to .267. He’s a brilliant fielder anywhere in the infield. Grade: B

Shortstop

Bob King was frequently sought after by other teams, but the veteran is highly valued in Chicago for his glove and his bat. He hit a solid .283, stole 11 bases in 14 tries, and knocked in 42 runs. His glove at the critical shortstop position anchors one of the best defensive infields in baseball. Grade: B+

Left Field

35-year-old former LA King Eric Richardson has no power (he hit just one HR), but his .311 average make him a critical part of the offense, often hitting in the critical fifth spot in the batting order. He missed five weeks with a finger injury. Grade A-

Earl Waller is just 25 and held the starting job last season. He was supplanted by Richardson’s bat but often takes over in the late innings for defensive reasons. Grade C+

Center Field
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Jean Sanchez, pictured above, (age 35) re-signed as a Blackhawk after testing the FA market. He had his best year ever as the lead off hitter, hitting .322 and stealing 19 bases in 20 attempts. He’s a better corner outfielder forced by circumstances to patrol; center field. Grade A-

Young Phil Perkins started the year in AAA but was promoted to shore up the outfield. He’s a brilliant defender and takes over in CF in the late innings. Grade C

Right Field

Logan Ballard, the team’s number one draft pick last season, was expected to spend the year developing at AAA, but he was called up when Richardson was injured. While he still needs to improve his contact skills, he showed tremendous power, hitting 17 HRs in 69 games. His defense in right field is faultless. He had seven assists with his cannon arm. Grade: B

Catcher

Alex Campbell is another guy who left for free agency but eventually re-signed a Blackhawk contract. He’s a solid defender behind the plate. The number nine hitter, he’s never going to be considered a threat at the plate. Grade C-

Ex-Bruin Tom Symons has just enough offensive and defensive skill to keep his job as backup receiver. Grade: D+

Rotation

John Wilson (age 35) hardly looked like he was worth his $600K FA salary at the start of the season. On July 16th he was 1-6 with an ERA of 7.86. But he was 7-4 from that point on and got his ERA down to 5.08. He has extended at a discount for two more years. Grade C

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Luciano Henriques, pictured above, was little short of brilliant, dropping his ERA from 5.47 to 3.43 while winning 12 of 15 decisions. He led the team in innings pitched. Grade: A

Tim Ricks was 0-9 last year. The transformation was dramatic as he finished at 10-4 with a 2.80 ERA. Somehow he overcomes walking more than he strikes out. Grade: A

António Rodríguez was the fourth starter for most of the year, ending up with a 2-7 mark and an ERA of 5.69. Grade: D

Bullpen

At age 37 Mike Stewart joined the team as the closer. With enough pitch selection to be a starter, he used them to good advantage in relief, saving 24 games in 27 opportunities. He had an ERA of 3.35 and a WHIP of 1.00. Grade: A-

Mathieu Lefranc had a brief and unsuccessful fling in the rotation, but he was much more successful coming out of the pen where his ERA was under 4.00. Grade: C.

Francisco Huerta finished up with an impressive 1.80 ERA out of the bullpen. Late in the season he moved into the rotation and won his only start 8-2 in a complete game effort despite giving up 13 hits. Grade: A

Patrick Reid struggled for three years with Anaheim, but he proved to be a capable middle reliever, ending up with an 3.86 ERA. Grade: B-

Pepe Valenzuela is still only 21. His has brilliant stuff, but his control and his tendency to throw home run balls continually do him in. He was lacking both as a starter and a reliever. Grade: D-

Bill Henneberry will retire when the season is over. He appeared in just 16 games, mostly in mop-up duty, but he showed he still has some skills. Grade: C-

 

Philadelphia - Mid Season Update

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Youthful Ignorance

When Jesus Martinez fills out his lineup card every night, he is penciling in 4 rookies. Nearly half of his lineup has less than 2 months of experience in The Show, but that hasn't stopped the Flyers from taking a 1 game lead in the final playoff spot in the Silver. For good measure, he's handing the ball to a rookie every 4th day, and his best reliever has only received 4 major league checks.

"Enthusiasm is contagious. These guys don't know even know they aren't supposed to be winning." said Martinez after Tuesday's 5-3 win over Calgary, a win that brought them within a game of 3rd place.

July's shakeup, after the appointment of a new general manager, saw the departure of several long-time Flyer's that helped the team secure the playoffs in the past. Weldon Davey, Rob Cummings, and Javier Munoz were traded and vereran DH Peter O'Herily was first waived and then shipped to AAA Allentown. In return the Flyers received Nicolas Simon and Anibal Padilla and about 2 million dollars cleared off the 2017 payroll.

The Flyers have the worst offense in baseball, however, they have improved from their historically bad efforts early in the season. A trio of rookies are leading the offense, Mark Alston, Rus Goodman and Chris Howard are batting 3-4-5 in the lineup. Combined with rookie SP Les Williams they have the top 4 rookies in WAR.

"It's going to be a dog-fight from here on out," said Martinez "We have 5 teams within 3 games of 2 spot with 30 games to go. I hope these kids are ready for it."

Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 August 2014 09:26
 

Chicago Team Preview

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Chicago Blackhawks Ready for Season
Fan Interest Up But Expectations Low

by Caitlen Sullivan
Chicago Tribune Sports
June 1, 2016


The Blackhawks are under new management, and fan interest seems up a bit. But expectations remain pretty low even though the team produced an unexpected 13-11 record during Spring Training. Here’s a look at the team for Opening Day, position by position:

First Base
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Alfredo Rodriguez (pictured) is the only player on the team that could be ranked as a superstar. Bucky has never missed a Blackhawk game, and he won the Triple Crown back in the league’s inaugural season (2013). But he’s coming off a subpar year that saw his average drop to .253 and his homer count to 17. Still, he’s the face of the franchise, and a rebound is essential if this team is to exceed muted expectations. He recently signed a three year extension with a fourth team option year. Bucky’s backup will be John Dingle who joins the team as a free agent. He couldn’t hit with Ottawa back in 2011 and did poorly with New York last year.

Second Base
Pat Wagner joins the team for the first time with a two-year guaranteed contract and a team option third year. He played well for Detroit in 2014 but spent most of last season in the minor leagues. If he can match his .290 average from 2014, he’ll be a key to the offense. He has good speed on the bases, and he is a fine fielder at 2B, 3B and SS. He lacks home run power. Holdover Chris Brewer slumped badly last year after a decent 2014. Wagner won the starting job with an outstanding Spring, so Brewer will probably become the team’s prime utility infielder. He can play 2B, 3B, and SS with equal skill. He will be eligible for arbitration ay year-end.

Third Base
Erwin Hurst has been with the Hawks since day one. He’s a superb infielder at all four sports. After two years hitting over .300, his average mysteriously dropped to .242 last season, so again a rebound is crucial to team success. He too lacks home run power. He just signed a two-year extension.

Shortstop
Bob King has been the Blackhawk shortstop since Opening Day 2013, missing only two games in three seasons. He’s a solid hitter and excellent defensive player. Unfortunately he too lacks home run power. He has just signed on for three more seasons as a Blackhawk.

Left Field
Earl Waller is another holdover from last season. He improved dramatically last year over the previous season, and the club is hopeful he will once again show improvement at the plate. If he does, he could become a solid major league outfielder. Management loves his defensive skill in left field. Ron Robinson is around to backup. He’s a decent defender, good baser runner, and has done OK at the plate in limited big league action.

Center Field
At age 34 Jean Sanchez decided to try the free agent market after three years in Chicago. Like catcher Campbell, the offers weren’t flowing in and eventually he decided to re-up as a Blackhawk for this year and next. He’s a good base stealer and a decent enough corner outfielder, but he’ll be playing out of position in center field. Roy Parrish lacks offensive skills but is a talented outfielder who will spend significant time in center as a late inning defensive replacement.

Right Field
Eric Richardson may hit .300 as he did the last two years with Los Angeles, but he lacks defensive skill and he’s getting up there in age (35). If he performs well, the team has an option to keep him in uniform next year. He lacks power at a position where the team desperately needs it. Glenn Lahoda is highly (over)paid and has excellent power, a skill the team lacks, but failing contact skills may see his career come to a premature close.

Catcher
Alex Campbell was a Blackhawk for the last three years before becoming a free agent after last season. After considering limited other options, he and Chicago management agreed to a new contract good through next season. He’s solid enough defensively, but he lacks good contact skills at the plate. Tom Symons was released by Boston at the end of last year and eventually agreed to a minor league deal with the Blackhawks for this year. He played well enough during the Spring to win the backup job at a position where the Blackhawks seem to seriously next an upgrade. Elroy Corkum will be the mergency call-up from Rockford is someone gets hurt.

Rotation

  • John Wilson was acquired in a trade to shore up a weak starting staff. He’s 35 with a significant contract, buit he has already agreed to a two-year extension at half of his present salary. He’ll be the ace assuming he returns to his form of two years back.
  • Luciano Henriques is back after 14 starts last year. He needs to significantly improve to be a positive factor.
  • Tim Ricks was a discouraging 0-9 last season, but at age 24 he is still improving. He needs to step up big time to make Chicago successful this year.
  • Pepe Valenzuela is only 21 and has definite control problems, but he has electric stuff and a bright future if he can get the ball over the plate.
  • António Rodríguez pitched very well in AAA over the second half of last season. He’ll be a spot starter for the time being while also providing some long relief.

 

Bullpen

  • Mike Stewart is 37 years old, but he still managed 17 saves last season with Vancouver after two good middle relief seasons with Edmonton. He’ll be the closer.
  • Mathieu Lefranc came over in the Wilson trade to shore up the bullpen. He did reasonably well two years back but struggled last season.
  • Francisco Huerta begins his fourth season with the Blackhawks and is usually dependable in middle relief.
  • Patrick Reid has struggled for three years in the major leagues, but Chicago is hoping he can provide some adequate middle inning relief.
  • Bill Henneberry is 36 now, starting his fourth year as a Blackhawk. He has gotten better each year and provided quality innings last season.

 

SUMMARY

  • Good contact hitters with little power other than from Rodriguez.
  • Pitching looks to be a major problem.
  • Small ball offense is going to have to deliver a lot of runs to make this team successful.
  • Base running and overall defense look to be strong points.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 August 2014 09:26
 

Avs Preview

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Avs Looking for Title Run

By Bill Little, Colorado Avs News

When PBDL newcomer Scott Keys was hired as the general manager of the Colorado Avalanche this offseason, he quickly set two standards for the franchise: Compete for a Gold Division championship every year and build a sustainable farm system that could be counted on each season to supplement the big club.
He walked into a perfect situation to meet the first goal.

And he has a long way to go to meet the second.

The Avs have been a perennial power in the three years of PBDL, making the playoffs each season and winning two championships. With a historically strong pitching staff and some exciting young players ready to augment a solid veteran roster in the field, the Avs certainly have their eyes set on another playoff run in 2016.

“Our entire management team is so excited about out club this year,” Keys said on the eve of the 2016 season. “Guys like Bob Williamson, Oscar Wallace. Zak Benjamin and Gary Hurley are so outstanding, both in the field and in the clubhouse. They’ve been through the PBDL wars and know what it takes to compete in the Gold Division. And that experience can only help with the young guys ready to make their mark.”

While the Avs roster has a very veteran look, the team is certainly counting on a youth infusion carrying the offense this season. Four players age 26 or under are slated to open the season as starters for the club, including rookies Ryan Strickland and 23-year-old shortstop phenom Paul Christian.

“In this game, you can’t just stack a team with superstars,” Keys said. “Finances won’t allow it - and neither will the other teams in the league. You have to be able to continually build and change over your roster. Players leave - some for more money and some for a different opportunity. It is the nature of the game. So you need a talented and well-stocked farm system to keep your team competitive - or the relegation monster will quickly eat you alive.”

And that is where Keys finds himself in a pickle. To say the farm system is bare would be the understatement of understatements.

“Yeah, we were shocked,” Keys said of his management team’s thoughts when they got a first-hand look at the Avs farm system. “Some here wanted to leave Ryan (Strickland) and Paul (Christian) down (in the minors) just so we could say we have some prospects,” (the GM laughed at this remark, but with a hint of seriousness).

It is fair to say that the previous Colorado regime paid little attention to the Avs farm. When Keys took control of the squad, most of the teams in the minors weren’t even fully stocked. It is the tsunami of disasters.

“It is a challenge, for sure. It will take several strong drafts and smart maneuvers to build this system back up. But that’s why we are here,” Keys added.

While the farm may languish, the big club looks as solid as ever:

1B: The Avs best power source, Tom Cramer will again man first for the Avs. While his last two seasons have fallen far short of his outstanding 2013 campaign, Cramer was second on the team in homers with 15 in 2015 and figures to man the cleanup spot in manager Dan Stevenson’s lineup most every day.

2B: Ray Haley had a breakout year in 2015, his first as a full-time starter in the PBDL. The 24-year-old hit .278 with a .344 OBP for the Avs. “Ray is a good kid and his teammates love him and the effort he gives every day. He has work to do to reach the level we think he can attain, but he’ll get there,” Keys said.

3B: At 32 years of age, Gary Hurley is one of the “old men” of the club. But the Canada native has plenty of gas left in the tank to improve on his strong 2015 campaign. Hurley, who will man third base on a full-time basis this season, hit .286 with a .369 OBP last season, but he was far from satisfied. “Last year’s numbers simply weren’t good enough,” he said. “I need better power numbers and I need to drive in more runs. That is what this team expects of me and that is what I expect of myself. We’ve got a great bunch of guys here in Colorado. Hopefully the nagging injuries that bothered me last year are gone and I can put up the numbers we need.”

SS: One of the first things Keys did when he took charge of the club was champion the promotion of shortstop Paul Christian, whose defensive prowess should have him challenging for Gold Gloves early in his career. “Defensively, Paul is ready to play at this level. There is no doubt about that,” Keys said. “Last year he struggled in the minors, but he had great success in 2014 and we think he can again - even on the bigger stage. I am incredibly excited about Paul holding down our shortstop spot for years to come.”

OF: If the Avs have a superstar among the position players, it would have to be 30-year-old outfielder Bob Williamson. Williamson, who will man center on most nights this season, hit .290 last year and led the Avs in home runs with 18. He has 43 home runs and 161 RBI over the last three seasons and is the unquestioned field general in Colorado. Twenty-six-year-old Ed Welch is in his second full season in the PBDL, after posting a respectable .241/.441/.733 slash line last season. Welch is an outstanding defensive presence in left field for the Avs and the club plans to use his speed on the base paths to its advantage this season. Highly-ranked rookie Ryan Strickland will get his chance to lay claim to right field this season, even though he disappointed the big club with an often lazy effort last year in the minors. “Ryan has all the talent in the world - we are hoping the challenge of playing in the big leagues will drive him to be better,” Keys said. With the trio of Welch, Williamson and Strickland on the field, the Avs should have one of the best defensive outfields in the league. Not to be forgotten is Lucio Sanchez, who will back up both corner outfield spots and be the team’s primary DH this season.

SP: If the Avs are going to make a run at the Gold Division title, it will come on the back of its starting rotation, consistently ranked as one of the best in the PBDL. Ace Oscar Wallace and the improving Ed Wolf top the rotation, followed by veteran stalwart Zak Benjamin (13-4, 2.75 ERA in 2014) to form an imposing rotation. Christian Hunter, who pitched in the bullpen last year, will get first shot at the 4th spot in the rotation.

Bullpen: Twenty-five-year-old Ed Allen from New Braunfels, Texas has put together seasons of 29, 24 and 22 saves with a sub 2.80 ERA in his three seasons in Colorado to lead a sometimes dominant back end of the bullpen. Setting up for Allen will be righties Walt Brown and Tu-an Loh, with Jesus Lopez, Larry Keller and newcomer Gerald Rainey rounding out the bullpen corps.

 

2015 Races

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2015 Races

Author: Jason Lortie

 

With the midpoint and trade deadline of the 2015 season behind us, I though I would go ahead and start following the races that are shaping up in the leagues for champion, play-offs and relegation.

Currently there are 30 games remaining in the season (36%).

Gold
Championship Race
Currently Tampa Bay is leading the Gold with a 33-21 record. They are 8-2 in their last 10 played, and currently are on a 6 game winning streak. Their magic number is still a 28, so plenty of time for other teams to catch up. Ottawa is 3 games back while San Jose and Dallas are both 5 games back.

Tampa is currently being led by Richard Smith with 18 home runs. But more impressively, they are 5-0 in extra innings, and 7-1 in 1 run games. Better than any other team in the gold. Realistically, I think this is a two horse race, with Ottawa under performing right now. With Oudekirk and Chevalier to both return in the next two weeks, they should be back to form in order to race down Tampa. Prediction: Ottawa by a game

Playoffs
Tamp and Ottawa are locks fro the top 2. However, the 3rd and 4th spots are certainly up for grabs between SJ, DAL, COL, and possibly PHI. Philly would need to really start getting production from their bats (which I do not see happening, right now there top 3 SPs are keeping them out of relegation). So in reality, it is a three horse race. SJ is getting decent production from their bats, and their SPs and relief are quite strong, I think they are a lock as well. DAL gets Dalton back in their outfield off or IR this sim, and are guaranteed a win every time Sicard starts a game. They also have had great hitting. While COL is having a decent .500 season, I just do not see that as being good enough to overtake either SJ or DAL. Prediction: DAL leaps SJ by 2 games, COL finishes a game outside looking in

Relegation
This is tight between the bottom three right now. MIN has half a team in my opinion. Half of their pitchers and batters are great, the other half would have a hard time in SIL or BRZ. Not to mention SP Page is out for the rest of the season. I just do not see them being as balanced as NJ and PHI who are both injury free. With NJ getting Adams back from injury, it is really going to be tight. Prediction: NJ fights off relegation by 2 games

Silver
Championship Race
It is very tight between BOS, NYR, and DET for the top spot with DET and NYR both being only a game behind right now. All of these teams are very balanced, however, it looks like DET is lacking a third SP that BOS and NYR both have (Cabrera is on IR for 2-3 months, and Darrah and McCullough are not cutting it as a #3). BOS will get Snow and Laval back for this coming sim, therefore, I see them holding off NYR who will finish a close 2nd. Prediction: BOS, followed by NYR 2 games back, followed by DET 4 games back

Playoffs
This will be close as NYI, ANA, TOR, and CAL are all still alive for the 4th spot in SIL. ANA has fallen quite a bit posting a 2-8 in their last 10. However, it looks like .500 play will be good enough for the 4th spot with the top three teams being so far ahead right now. ANA has the bats, but is lacking in pitching. Same as NYI and TOR who really only have 1 or 2 quality SPs right now. While CAL has better pitching, their bats have been lacking. This is shaping up to be a very close race! Prediction: NYI and CAL tie for 4th, with ANA a game back and TOR 2 games back

Relegation
WAS has not been able to find any dominant SPs this year, and the bats have been mediocre (The only team in SIL without a single batter over 10 VORP right now). Based on the playoff race TOR rounds out the bottom 2. Prediction: TOR a game behind ANA in the relegation race, with WAS 4 games out

Bronze
Championship Race
PIT has had a great year so far with Olivarez going a perfect 12-0 in 12 starts. the bullpen has also played great, and the bats have been lighting it up. This is all while Gonzales and Simmons will both be off the IR in the next two weeks. With a 7 game cushion over STL and a combined 13-2 record in extra inning and 1 run games, PIT looks to be a lock with the lowest magic number of all three leagues (24). Prediction: PIT by 9 games

Playoffs
The bronze is pretty cut and dry here as well. BUF is currently 7 games behind VAN for the 4th spot while CHI is 11 games out. While BUF currently has 3 on the IR, only Lee will be coming back before the end of the season to make any type of impact. The pitching just does not seem to be there, and Montoya and Roorback are the only bats carrying the team right now. With VAN and LA both getting mediocre help off the IR soon, it doesnt look like BUF will be able to close the gap. CHI is 1-9 in the last 10, they are not going anywhere near the 4th spot either.Prediction: BUF finishes 5 games behind LA for the final spot, VAN moves up to 3rd.

Last Updated on Monday, 28 January 2013 14:54
 


Page 5 of 6

Poll 1

Who will win the 2026 Gold League Championship
 

Poll 2

Who will win the 2026 Silver League Championship
 

Poll 3

Who will win the 2026 Bronze League Championship