10 Things for 2015

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As opening day in the PBDL’s third season rapidly approaches, I’ve decided to take the opportunity to post some random musings, prescient predictions and off the wall commentary. So without further ado, here are the “10 Things” for 2015.

1. The playoff teams in Gold will be: Tampa Bay Lightning, New Jersey Devils, Minnesota Wild and Colorado. The relegated teams will be San Jose and Philadelphia. Don’t shoot the messenger, but you heard it here first.

2. Every trade in the PBDL should be like the Minnesota/New York trade completed the other day. I love the trade from the Islanders viewpoint as it provides them an infusion of depth and youth that will provide them several cheap years of service which will be important for the Islanders as they work to restore their fiscal health while also moving a significant contract off the books. Given that the Islanders were most likely not going to be fighting for promotion in 2015 and S. James was already 30 years old, this trade is a winner for them. For Minnesota , this instantly upgrades their offense in what will once again be a highly competitive gold division and they did it without giving up any of their top prospects. Best/fairest trade in the PBDL to date?…Yes!

3. The Blues threw caution to the wind in a strong willed attempt to launch themselves out of bronze. Payroll has moved up over 50% from 2014 and they may not even be done yet. But they also lost a lot of players to free agency last year and had to pay a hefty price for some of their free agent signings, net-net, I’m not sure how it will all shake out but it should be interesting to watch.

4. Some of the best off-season signings:
-Toronto - Andrew Patrick (1 year, $268K)
-Pittsburgh - Carl Dunne (3 years, $640K per) 26 yo phenom closer, what a steal!

5. How many home runs will the greatest player in the PBDL hit this year? 25!

6. Will Vancouver move Vince Garrett at the deadline again this year or will team loyalty finally mean something? No clue on either account.

7. What happens to the highest paid player in the PBDL after 2015? With his contract set to expire, S. White will have some big decisions to make. He certainly isn't worth that much, but will his loyalty keep him in a Stars uniform in 2016 and beyond? Do the Stars even want him? For the right price, the guy has some value, but its FAR less than the $1.8 million he's making now.

8. Will Bucky bounce back? We all loved watching Alfredo's triple crown run in 2013, but 2014 was far less flashy. Chicago will need him performing at his peak again to have a shot at the playoffs in 2015.

9. Will the TB Lightning GM ever return? Rumor has it that ever since pulling off the trade of a lifetime, he's been on an exotic island with several attractive women and has left day to day management of the team to his assistants. If he returns, they've got a shot at a gold championship, but an assistant run team could never win it all, right? Actually, the Rangers sort of did in 2013...

10. Will Colorado's pitching staff lead them to a consecutive gold championship. Negative, gold is getting pretty well clustered with top end talent and repeating in that division will likely be tough for the foreseeable future...but that rotation always gives them a fighting chance. The Devils should be pushing hard as their window to win it all may expire soon.

 

2014 Championship Round Preview

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Gold:
I don’t think anyone pegged this matchup when the playoffs started, but here we are with the Sharks versus the Avalanche. The Avalanche are certainly less of a surprise as the Sharks had to upset the top seeded Lightning to make it to the finals. The Avalanche have arguably the best starting rotation in the entire PBDL, but their team isn’t without its flaws. The team ranked 6th in overall offense this year and only managed a .239 team batting average. Combine that with a merely average bullpen and the team could be prone to losing some close games when the starting pitching has to come out early. But if the pitching can make it 7, or more precisely 8 innings, then Ed Allen – who is a very capable closer – can come in and close it out.

The Sharks will be getting back Jim Landers for the finals who was first in Gold with an OPS of 1.086 during the season. The fact that he was out for the first round makes their advancement even more puzzling, but his return will certainly be a sizeable boost for an offense that was certainly run starved during the year. On paper, the Avalanche have the much better rotation, but the Sharks have a superb defense…in fact they led the league with 74 double plays turned during the season. After those starters come out though, the bullpen depth is horrid, even worse than the Avalanche so starting pitching going deep in games will be key for both teams.

Prediction: Avalanche 5-4 (we are sticking with our preseason call and going with the Avalanche in a down to the wire series, this one will be fun to watch!)

Silver:
It’s the Yankees versus the Athletics, PBDL style. Well not quite that extreme, but the Wild have built a low budget team with several talented youth coming up through the ranks and still under team control. The Stars on the other hand have an $11.2 million payroll (~$4 million more than the Wild) and have several big name, big budget players such as Steve White, Javier Alvarado, Hector Romero and Angel Feliciano. In fact, those four names get fairly close to the Wild’s entire payroll. But enough about money, the Stars boast a solid defense, an above average rotation, and a door slamming bullpen. The clear edge in pitching and defense goes to the Stars. That’s not to say the Wild are slouches in this department. In fact, one could easily argue that the Wild have the better rotation. But in terms of overall run prevention, Dallas’s bullpen plus superior defense gives them the edge.

Regarding run production, the Wild are built around extra bases. They led the league in both extra base hits and home runs while coming in 6th in terms of batting average. Nevertheless, their league leading slugging % was good enough to lead them to first in overall run production during the regular season. Dallas was second in run production, but by a decent margin (431 versus 401). For the Wild to win this series, guys like 2B Tommy Drake and LF Antonio Contreras are going to have to have huge series.

In the end, the Wild are young and inexperienced while the Stars have the "been there, done that" bravado after winning last year’s bronze championship. Add in the old mantra about pitching and defense winning championships, and we think the Stars will simply be too much to handle for the upstart Wild.

Prediction: Stars win series 5-1.

Bronze:
Wait what, the Ducks are in the finals? Yup, that’s right folks, and they made it in glorious fashion by completing the first postseason sweep in PBDL history against the Blues in the first round. After finishing in eighth last year in Bronze, the Ducks conducted an aggressive offseason with several pivotal signings that have paid off for the team. It was a bold move that could’ve bankrupted the team if success didn’t quickly follow, but GM Chris Duda’s work has been vindicated at least for the time being. The team on paper, is outmatched by Toronto in nearly every way. The Ducks are built on speed with 82 stolen bases during the year (good for first and well ahead of Toronto’s 27)…this speed could allow them to “generate” some run production and eek out some wins against what is a very solid offensive team in Toronto. To equalize this gap, Juan Silva is going to have to have the series of a lifetime and both Bob Brown & Billy Byrd are going to have a monster series.

But the game isn’t played on paper after all, its played on the field. And the Ducks have managed to find ways to win games all season long. They beat out their Pyt record by 5 games during the season, then managed to beat out a very good St. Louis Blues team in five games. Sometimes destiny is simply on your side and that’s how this series feels. Juan Silva (who was signed to a 5 year deal earlier this year) has been very vocal in the clubhouse all season long and several teammates have commented on the leadership void that his signing helped fill. Sometimes it’s the intangibles that win ballgames, should be a fun series.

Prediction: Ducks win series 5-3

Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 August 2014 09:26
 

Exciting Regular Season Finish

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You couldn’t have scripted the last week of the regular season much better as there were tons of extremely meaningful games played across all three leagues.  Let’s recap some of the exciting action that occurred over the final week of the inaugural PBDL season:

Bronze League

Heading into the final game of the regular season, St. Louis’s playoff chances were narrowing as they found themselves one game back, but there was still hope.  The Red Wings beat Chicago, putting destiny in St. Louis’s hands and all they needed was to beat the last place Ducks to force a tiebreaker game.  But alas, the Ducks played the spoiler role perfectly with a 7-4 win over the Blues.  As a consolation prize, the Blues will be in fairly good shape in the draft lottery.

The Kings finished the season with an 8-2 record over their last 10 games and soared into the 3rd seed in the final week of the season.  Pitching was the mantra in the final games as the team squeaked out victories in several low scoring affairs.

As a result, the playoffs shape up as follows:

  • Detroit Red Wings versus Chicago Blackhawks
  • Dallas Stars versus Los Angeles Kings

 

Silver League

The standings in Silver did not change as drastically in the final week as they did in the two other leagues.  Colorado has basically been a lock for first for several weeks now and most predicted that there wasn’t much Toronto or Pittsburgh could do to avoid relegation.

Buffalo mounted a valiant effort to reach the postseason by winning their final six games including an impressive sweep against the Flyers, but it was too little too late.

The Silver League playoffs will shape up as follows:

  • Colorado Avalanche versus Calgary Flames
  • Philadelphia Flyers versus New York Islanders

 

Gold League

Gold was where most of the action was at with plenty of monumental shifts in momentum and in the standings.

The Oilers and Wild both had subpar final weeks going 2-4 and 1-5 respectively.  This opened the door for Washington to make a move, on the back of a devastatingly good final week from Raúl Cuevas.  The Capitals were able to win their final four games and moved from 8th place to 6th place in the final week.  Not only do they avoid relegation, but they have improved their potential draft positioning as well.  The Oilers and Wild, meanwhile, will need to regroup in Silver.

Ottawa, Tampa Bay and San Jose all entered the final day of the regular season tied for the final two playoff spots with 42-41 records.  San Jose beat Tampa Bay and Ottawa lost as well in their game against the Rangers which resulted in the need for a tiebreaking game between the Lightning and the Senators.  Tampa Bay sent Spike McCoy to the mound who proceeded to pitch nine solid innings, giving up 6 hits and 3 runs with 8 K’s in a 7-3 victory.  Unfortunately, they’ll be facing the red hot Devils in the first round, who enter the postseason on an 8 game winning streak and recently swept the Lightning in the last week of the regular season.

The Gold League playoffs will shape up as follows:

  • New Jersey Devils versus Tampa Bay Lightning
  • New York Rangers versus San Jose Sharks
Last Updated on Friday, 12 October 2012 10:18
 

2014 Season Preview

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Much has changed since the end of 2013 with teams shuffling players around a deck of cards in Vegas.  Bronze teams, which generally had ample cash, were particularly active with teams like Anaheim, Vancouver and Toronto making big splashes in free agency.  How the Bronze standings end up is truly anyone’s guess.  Nashville was the least active of the group due to financial constraints and thus will likely remain in the bottom half of the standings for 2014, but outside of that, first place could literally go to a half dozen teams.  Gun to my head, I think Anaheim takes the championship.  Many of their young players continued to develop over the past year, they made several aggressive signings and added through trade one of the better first basemen in the game (Bob Brown) dealing from their strength in the outfield to acquire him.  The Ducks truly took a win now approach this off-season, and while some question the size and length of some of the contracts handed out, success in 2014, with a corresponding revenue boost, could mean that Ducks GM Chris Duda has the last laugh after the dust settles.

The picture in Silver is perhaps a little clearer.  Dallas should be the clear favorite with a dangerous rotation and infield and the same core from their 2013 Bronze Championship.  A high payroll, second highest in the league, is a legit concern, but for now, they are a force to be reckoned with.  Overall, silver teams weren’t too terribly active this off-season.  In an effort to get back into the green, Minnesota made a couple of trades that saw them shed over a half a million in salary.  New leadership in Long Island is still working on figuring out which direction to take the team. The Oilers remain hampered by their financial situation, but with only $5.1 million committed in 2015, the Oilers GM will be able to dramatically reshape the team to his liking over the next couple of seasons.

Similar to Bronze, pundits expect Gold will be extremely competitive with most of the teams having a shot at all the glory.  It will be interesting to see how recently promoted Colorado and Philadelphia adjust to life in the top tier.  I suspect Colorado’s pitching staff, which is likely the best in the league, will at least carry them to a playoff birth if not more.  After finishing first in gold last season, the Devils return with largely the same group of players…starting pitching on the Devils is the team’s primary weakness so it will be interesting to see if the offense can carry them to success again.  Tampa Bay’s GM is always looking for a blockbuster deal so you know his team will evolve throughout the season if needed.  My gut says pitching and defense rule the day with Colorado becoming the 2014 Gold League champion…

 

Opening Day Arrives

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Opening Day has arrived at last and the buzz around the ballparks is electric.  Players are excited to play ball and the GM’s are eagerly awaiting to find out how all the behind the scenes efforts will ultimately come together on the field.

While the free agent pool was relatively light on talent, there have been several under the radar signings that should be meaningful contributors in the coming season.  The Red Wings signed 2B Jim Juneau, upgrading what was a very weak middle infield.  Meanwhile, the Lightning signed a versatile player in Doug Wells who can effectively field all the infield positions and is signed to a very attractive contract through 2016.  The Flames were very busy and one of the most active teams in free agency, making several nice depth signings including SP Tommy Coleman, MR Ivan Juarhe, and CF Martin Negron, among others.  Individually, none of these signings for the Flames are game changing, but together, they provide significant depth and should improve the Flames playoff chances this season.

Trading has been relatively light in the early going, which is not unexpected at all given the relatively unknown players and the time it takes for new GM’s to figure out exactly where their teams stand.  Nevertheless, there have been 3 trades made thus far, with the Tampa Bay Lightning having their fingers in all of them.  GM Zach Rowe has been shown to be an active, aggressive and shrewd trade negotiator in the early going.  His acquisition of the young 23 year old SP Bintang Djojohadiksumo is a very nice pickup despite the inability of anyone on Tampa’s roster to actually pronounce the name.  We truly feel sorry for the Tampa Bay announcers in particular.  Still under team control for another four years and with expected further upside, Bintang should not only contribute in the future, but may very well slot into the #4 slot in the rotation to start off the season.

Most teams made it through spring training without losing any significant players to long term injury, but Jon Taylor’s injury (out for the rest of the season) is a significant one as the Canucks were already a little thin on starting talent.  Vancouver’s GM stated that the team will promote Pat Wagner from AAA to play shortstop and then shift the existing lineup around to fill the hole at third  base.

 


Page 6 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