Friday, February 20, 2009

Cup of Joe, Sanka Edition: 2008 Mock Draft

We are featuring a new entry in what will hopefully become a new semi-regular Canyon League Blog column: the Sanka Edition of the Cup of Joe (aka Joe English). Today, we have the Mad Englishman's take on the 1st Round Rookie Draft...keep in mind that these opinions may be intentionally distorted in a subtle attempt to alter the draft for nefarious purposes. Without further adieu, take it away Joe #2:

Canyon League Mock Draft 1.0

It is less than six weeks until the much anticipated Canyon League Selection Meeting. It is rumored that teams are heavy negotiations as they jockey for position to improve their organizations. Some GMs will be looking to improve their teams for the immediate future, looking to win the Canyon League World Series, while some have already conceded that 2008 will be merely a step on the way to future glory.

I have not spoken to any of the 11 other GMs in advance of this story…I have no sources…no proof…so I’ll be submitting this story to the New York Post…I figure that they’ll have plenty of room if there is no teacher sleeping with her 13 year old student or a governor sleeping with a hooker (and since New York Governor David Paterson is legally blind and has been since the age of 3 months he would not know what he’s missing anyhow) to splash on the front page!

I’ve tried to analyze each roster in an attempt to successfully estimate each team’s chances in 2008 and how those chances will affect their draft selections. Here are my prognostications on how the first round of the rookie picks will shake out.

1 – Houston Seraphs

Houston Seraphs general manager Joe Emmert has made it no secret that he is in the middle of his rebuilding his organization in search of 8th CLWS title. The cupboard is not completely bare. There are some young players who are proven at the major league level; but there is just not enough depth to be a major player in 2008. Emmert will select Giants LHP Madison Bumgarner, who is rated as the second best pitching prospect in all of baseball at age 19, after Rays phenom David Price. Adding Bumgarner to recent selections Jake McGee and Wade Davis of the Rays, and Gio Gonzalez of the Athletics and current staff ace Roy Oswalt and you could be looking at a deep and balanced staff in the not too distant future.

2 – California Cannons

This may be the season that the Cannons put it all together. The Cannons have a very good pitching staff heading into the 2008 season. GM Colby Spere knows he is four or five deep in the rotation and solid at the end with two of the games best closers. The Cannons may have a concern or two on offense. The limit of ABs for 2B Orlando Hudson and C Jorge Posada ABs and the lack of offense from the centerfielders are sore spots. Spere will select White Sox 2B/OF Alexei Ramirez to help at 2B and in CF and might look to ease his catching concerns during the free agent round or later in the rookie draft.

3 – San Diego Gulls

The Gulls come off winning the western division in 2007 and pick this high thanks to a trade with San Francisco. The Gulls boast a solid lineup and pitching staff. GM Nelson Somers knows his rotation is deep and his relief corps is solid. His options at 1B might be of a bit concern, but he has enough pop elsewhere to offset any problem, which could be considered minimal at its worst. The thought here is that there may be an advantage to taking Giants C Buster Posey who will turn 22 the day before the draft and is the top rated prospect at his position behind only Orioles stud Matt Wieters. The alternative is that he could also add another stud pitching prospect.

4 – Seattle Sea Bees

It would seem that Sea Bees GM Greg Weidemann would be trying to rebuild with his 2008 draft. He does have some good parts to work with, and his defense up the middle should be fantastic, but there may be holes at the hot corner and behind the dish. Posey would be the ideal catcher of the future. If Posey is off the board and because there are no 3B prospects worthy of a pick this high, Weidemann will select Rangers RHP Neftali Feliz, the highly regarded 20 year old fireballer.

5 – Baltimore Colt 45s

The Colt 45s finished last in the eastern division in 2007, but their record was respectable, finishing at 25-31. They have some good young talent and enough young arms that they could be on the verge of some good things in 2009 and 2010. This looks like a rebuilding team in terms of their draft approach. They have a replacement for the recently traded Derek Jeter in Yunel Escobar, but beyond Escobar and Alberto Callaspo, the talent is thin. GM Loren Nodolf will select Rays SS Tim Beckham, the number 1 overall draft pick in 2008. Nodolf can address other issues later in the rookie portion or in the free agent round of this draft with his other 7 choices.

6 – New York Knights

The Knights finished just one game below .500 last year and they have procured 8 total picks in an effort to help rebuild the franchise. Things are looking up in NY for GM David Moxness in his 3rd year at the helm. He has two of the top starters in the league and what seems like a sure thing in Rays LHP David Price and some young starters who could easily fill the four and five spots to Moxness’ satisfaction. The Knights are a bit more challenged offensively with little in the way of depth. It looks as if the most need is in the infield and it may turn out that Moxness’ choice of White Sox SS Gordon Beckham may play a position besides shortstop on the big league level as some scouts believe he might be switched to 2B or 3B in the future; apparently he has the power to make that transition work, how well he would adjust defensively remains a mystery.

7 – Boston Blue Sox

While in contention for awhile, the Blue Sox faded in the second half of 2007 despite what GM Joe English deemed as a ‘favorable’ schedule. The Sox have young talent offensively, which allowed English to trade long time LF Carlos Lee this offseason for a pick later in this draft. The Sox staff is at best serviceable but the staff is still young and English expects improvement over time. The bullpen is below average and needs to be given some serious attention. The run of shortstops could continue at this spot due to the fact that the Rangers expect Michael Young to pay 3B this season and since Omar Vizquel is at best a defensive replacement at this point in his career. The inside scoop is that the Sox expect to contend in 2008 and the selection of Angels RHP Jose Arredondo fills a need in the bullpen and that the selection of a future SS will wait until later in the draft or next off-season. It has also been suggested that this pick might be available for trade…take that for what it’s worth.

8 – Detroit Scouts

The Scouts made a run late in 2007 only to fall short in the season’s final rounds. Scouts GM Erin Weidemann has a solid offense consisting of a mix of veterans and young stars who are game changers while still not quite in their prime athletically. The starting rotation is not as solid as in past years and injuries will force her to explore other options at points during the 2008 season; the bullpen remains solid. The Scouts could go in many directions here but my guess is that they go the prospect route and tab Braves RHP Tommy Hanson given that he is almost ready to contribute at the major league level.

9 – Cincinnati Zouaves

The Zouaves joy over winning the central division in 2007 was short lived as they failed to make the Canyon League World Series. GM Tully Moxness was unavailable to return calls when contacted about his team’s disappointing playoff performance. The Zouaves should contend again in ’08. The lineup boasts plenty of speed and power at the top and should be formidable once again. The only area of concern might be outfield depth as it seems injuries have haunted GM Moxness and his options there are limited past the scheduled starters. The pitching staff should be fine and the bullpen has many available options that could be effective. The feeling here is that another bullpen arm is the target and Moxness selects Dodgers RHP Corey Wade to help get him bridge the gap from the starters to his closer.
MOXNESS'S REBUTTAL: I can tolerate one Dodger reliever but no way will I have two of these guys. I'd actually have to root for the Dodgers to win games. Blech!

10 – San Diego Gulls

The Gulls will use the second first round pick to grab another stud pitching prospect using this pick to choose Orioles LHP Brian Matusz, the 20 year old who pitched locally in college for the University of San Diego Terreros.

11 – New York Knights

The Knights use their second first round selection to add Rockier OF Dexter Fowler who is a five tool player who appeared briefly with the Rockies last season. He projects to be future star outfielder for the Knights.

12 – Detroit Scouts

The Scouts acquired their second first round pick from the eventual Canyon League Champion Cleveland Thunder in exchange for RHP Javier Vazquez. As previously noted, the Scouts have many options in the first round due to the organizations depth. The guess here is that the choice is Diamondbacks RHP Max Scherzer who has top of the rotation ability and should reach that goal if he can locate better than he did in he brief major league appearance last season.

There it is folks. The first 2008 mock draft is complete. It is possible that more trades will come down and this will change. But as it stands on Friday, February 19, 2009, this is my prognostication…this is all for fun and not intended for wagering purposes!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Constitutional Question

Oh, how I hate these little issues, but several people have been bugging me about a rule that isn't clarified in the Constitution; even I'm not 100% sure of the correct rule here.

We've had a long standing rule that you have to carry two players at each defensive position on your roster, and you can only start a player at each position who is carded for it. Thus, Jose Canseco can not start at 2nd base, even though he played there in high school, because it's not on his card. The only exception is that a corner outfielder can play either LF or RF. The issue is Centerfield. I was under the impression that you could only start a player in CF if he has a card at that position. A couple of people have mentioned that Shannon is starting Barry Bonds in CF, even though he is only carded for LF and asked for clarification Does anyone else have any insight into whether this is following established rules? If not, we should add an addendum to the Constitution regarding this, one way or the other.

My vote is that if we've been allowing uncarded players to start in CF without an argument, then we should continue through the next season. However, starting next season, only players with CF on their card should be allowed to start in this position.

What say you all?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

San Diego Free Agent Proposal

San Diego GM Nelson Somers has proposed the following amendment to the league constitution. If approved, this will take effect for the 2008 Draft (held in Spring '09).

"How about if the four playoff teams pick last, but are allowed 1 additional free agent pick at the end of the draft.I do believe that teams that make the playoffs, are a more astrictive team to the free agent market.That will also stop teams that know they have no chance of winning it all, from dropping out of the playoff race intentionally. Thanks SD "

Please vote in the comments section below. Thanks Cin.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Round 13 Status

Well, there's really not much of a need for this except to say good job on finishing the round on time. The sole remaining series is San Diego vs. Seattle, which is tentatively scheduled for tonight. Kudos should also go to the Eastern Division, which is completely finished for the 2006 season (thanks to Loren's aggressive pursuit of a finished season before his departure to a place that doesn't even exist on Google Earth). I'll try to post a Round 14 preview, since I couldn't get the Central and Western division previews done after the Eastern one. Good luck everybody - this season is turning into one just as good as the real 2007 MLB we just experienced. I hope I'm the Rockies and not the Mets!

The Official League Constitution Blog Entry

Here is the promised constitution entry. Please take some time to look over the Constitution, and let's essentially playtest our system. Let's try to come up with scenarios for anything and everything that aren't covered by the constitution, and then comment about them. We'll put the ideas up for league-wide votes by the beginning of December and then send out a rough final draft once that's done. We've set the deadline for a finalized document of January 31, 2008. If you want your voice to be heard regarding the way the league is structured, this is the place to do it. The more we participate as individuals, the better the league is going to be!

At Long Last, The League Meeting Summary

It's been almost a month since my last blog entry, and I apologize for the lenthy hiatus. I will try to avoid these, but my brain has been fried by a payroll software conversion. On the bright side, I am now a master of ADP's PayExpert product! Anyway, here's the recap of the 9/23, which was filled with much love, laughter, tears and profanity:

1) Joe Emmert's long reign as the league commissioner is officially over after this season, and the office will die will him. He will now be known as Honorary Commissioner & Founder Emeritus. His sole remaining duty will be to maintain the league's history and statistical archives, which I think we can agree is a task that none of us has the mental strength or free county worktime to perform. It was agreed that a majority vote of the three-member Council will now be the final word on deadlocked league matters. Ongoing, any changes to the league structure, operations and constitution will be decided by a majority vote by league members; the council will make the final decision in case of ties. Since the council has now increased in importance, we decided to recall the current membership and put it to a new vote. We need to vote for three people this time, since we're electing a completely new council. We mentioned a two-week window for a vote, but since it's been in limbo, why don't we just make the voting deadline two weeks from this Sunday (October 28th)? Joe English is the only person to officially announce his candidacy, although I did establish an exploratory committee for the purpose of receiving federal election funds. I'll follow Joe's example and throw my hat into the ring. All others who want to run should e-mail the league as soon as possible, and as a parting gesture, let's have the soon to be former Commish tabulate the votes. Farewell Joseph, We Hardly Knew Ye!

2) The Constitution: Christian's first draft was a good jumping off point, but we agreed that the league needs to finalize and ratify an official draft. The next blog entry will be regarding ideas for the Constitution, so if you have any thoughts, you need to post them there. Sometime in November or early December, we'll take a vote on every section/new idea and then we'll post a preliminary "final" draft. The deadline/final voting for this was established as January 31st, 2008; once the final vote has occurred and any changes are made, we will post the final document on the website.

3) Minor Leagues: Christian referred to this idea as a "pussy way to go", and the majority of the league agreed. As it stands, there will be no minor league system.

4) Respect for Fellow GMs: It was agreed that this should be done without having to create any rules and regulations. Since earlier this year, we've had good league relations and no hurt feelings, other than a little violin-playing pantomime that set off yours truly at the league meeting. We agreed to tone down the attack e-mails and phone calls after GM decisions that we don't particularly like, and we'll create a media section on the website. I'll add a link, and if anybody wants to write a column, either infrequent or on a regular basis, send it to me and I'll post it up. The idea is to keep it tongue and cheek and not be rude.

5) League File: One computer should be the official league system, and Christian agreed to maintain this. After each round, an .lzp file with just that round's games will be sent out and posted on the website. We'll maintain an archive for the entire season's rounds on the website as well.

6) Missing Series Deadlines: We agreed to hold back on establishing a system of penalties for missing games, but we did see this as an ongoing problem. The view of the league was that we're all big kids and that we don't need a parental figure telling us to get things done. As a compromise, we agreed that league members will e-mail me midway through the round to update the status of unplayed series; I will write a blog entry for the round letting everybody know what's happening. As a sidenote, we've been doing a good job of getting games in since the league meeting.

7) Redrawing Divisions: Nobody saw the value in this, so for at least another year, the divisions will stay the same.

8) DH Rule: Even Loren, the guy who proposed this idea, felt this was a bad idea. No DH!

9) E-mailing Series Results: Starting next season, we agreed to start sending out the game results in a .ZIP archive rather than as individual files. I will post a blog entry that explains how to use .ZIP files so that we can all practice this before the start of the '07 games. Also, we will make sure to check off the standard subsets for each game, and the box score and play by play files should be sent along with the game files. Can someone explain how we get these files to come up? I know it's a game option, but I honestly don't know how to do it either. Prior to next season, we'll post a "How to" for each of these tasks.

10) 25 Man Rosters: Starting next year, we agreed that prior to roster expansion, all series will be played with the same 25 man roster from start to finish, with the exception of injury replacements and players returning from injuries.

11) Waiver Pool: It was agreed that a team's day in the waiver pool rotation is a commodity that has to be treated like a player. If a team wishes to trade their spot to another team, they must at a minimum trade the pick for another asset of value (player, draft pick, another waiver pool day in the current or subsequent season).

12) Trade Deadline: We agreed that the current system works fine. In order for a traded player to be eligible for the postseason, they must be traded prior to the trade deadline. Players can be traded after the deadline, but they will not be eligible for postseason play with their new team.

13) Post-Season Rosters: We agreed that rosters for each series should be handled individually. No changes can occur to a roster during a series, except in case of injury, but the rosters can be changed between one round to the next.

14) Injuries: Other than the "Great Lockout" in the mid-90s, this is the single most contentious issue in the history of the league. After much arguing, shedding of tears and a spontaneous performance of Weideman's 3rd Violin Concerto, we came to a tenuous agreement to change the schedule format, beginning next season. To limit the importance of injuries, there will be three days off between each series. This will be an experimental format that will be revisited after the 2007 season. I can't wait for the next league meeting!

I think that covers everything from the meeting, but if I missed anything, please comment. It was great to get everyone together, even if we were a little heated at times. I can't remember the last time we had 10 of 12 managers together in one place (although I'm pretty sure that Loren's house will now be unavailable for future league meetings!). Hopefully, we can get back to some of our annual traditions next season, like the All-Star game, league barbeques, and boxing matches!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

An Inspirational Story

I found this story/blog entry on Baseball America; it's a regular feature by a guy who will most likely be a permanent minor league pitcher, maybe someone who'll get a couple of cups of coffee at the most. Anyway, it really says a lot about the role sports plays in our lives and that, while they may seem like meaningless games or a way to make a living to the guys playing them, they're a lot more important to other people. Baseball has been more than just a game to me; ask my dad what baseball meant for me the week that my brother died. The Reds were playing in the World Series, and I drove up to Oakland with my dad and saw them win the whole thing. It was a catharsis that helped me cope with my grief, pain and loss, and even though Chris Sabo and Rob Dibble may have been just 'playing a game', one person in rightfield was getting a whole lot more from their efforts than that.

I hope this moves you as much as it did me:

Dirk Hayhurst is a 26-year-old righthanded reliever in the Padres system who has spent parts of three seasons at high Class A Lake Elsinore.

Though he made it all the way to Triple-A Portland last season, Hayhurst began this year back with the Storm, officially making him a California League veteran.But after going 0-1, 1.80 at the Lake, Hayhurst was promoted to Double-A San Antonio in early May, and made two appearances at Triple-A Portland before settling into the Missions' bullpen. Currently, Hayhurst is 3-1, 3.77 in 45 innings in the Texas League.The 2003 eighth-round pick out of Kent State is writing a diary for Baseball America this season, delving into the side of the minor leagues fans seldom see.

A mother brought her son past the bullpen a few days back. As they approached, we instinctively acted as if our attention was wrapped up in the game; looking away from them, avoiding eye contact.

They made their way directly to us, eyes trained on us, hoping to catch our attention. Soon they had closed the distance and were standing right in front of us, staring expectantly through the fencing with wide eyes and nervous smiles.

"Hello," said the mother. We said nothing in return and continued to act as if we couldn't see or hear her. She stumbled at our coldness, and cast hear eyes around sadly. She looked at her son, who never took his eyes off us, smiled, and then mustered enough courage to try again.

I can't explain to you what its like to avoid someone on purpose. When I write about the concept it just seems too rude and heartless. Maybe it is, but I still do it all the time. In my line of work, sometimes you have to ignore people. You have to tune out the noise of the game. There is no shortage of kids who want balls just because some other kid got one. No shortage of folks who want scraps signed with illegible autographs because everyone else is doing it. No shortage of begging, and pleading for stuff they don't really need, just want because someone else has.

Besides, my signature is just that: words written across something to spell my name. And my name is not important (hence, non-prospect diaries!). Yet to baseball fans, signatures are very important. They're so important in fact, even the mascot signs balls. It doesn't even have to be my name, or a name at all, just the fact we players scribbled on a scrap for fan is enough. Its all about the context.

For me, it's a dead ritual, and doesn't make sense. Maybe this is because I know who I am. Because everyday I see the mistakes and shortcomings I deal with that humanize me. I disagree that I am somehow more valuable because I do this job. Fans however, see my clean uniform and their boyhood dreams incarnate. When my hand presses a pen to paper, they find it magical. I don't understand why this works the way it does, but its lack of logic in no way negates the reality of it.

"My son," said the mother as she looked at her boy, "would really like to meet you."Again, she smiled nervously and again she was met with silence.After a moment I broke and said hello to the young boy. He smiled and tried to hide behind his mom like young kids do when they are nervous. Mom asked him if he could be a big boy and say hello in return? He did, in a mute voice, then ducked behind his mother again. I bent down at the fence to get on the boy's level, steadying myself with one hand on the links. As I did this, the mother knelt down quickly and put her hand on mine. My comfort zone was just violated, but before I could say anything, she spoke, in a soft and sad voice saying, "My son has liver cancer. It's terminal. He really wanted to do this before . . . um, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with him."

I was silent again, but this time for a different reason. I stared at the young boy, then at his mother whose face was serious and stalwart. The fellas around me had started talking with the young boy where I left off, though they were unaware of his condition. I walked away from the scene and over the some of the guys and whispered what I was just told. We looked at each other and, without a word of discussion, scooped up the youngster and placed him the pen with us.

We sat him down in one of our chairs and took seats around him. There he sat while we lavished him with attention. We asked him about everything a young boy loves to talk about: toys, baseball, candy, parks, games . . . We acted amazed at his stories and affirmed how he would become a big leaguer someday. We made him feel special, because he is. Finally, when our time was up and he had to go, without request or prompting, we produced a baseball and signed it for him.

When we gave the boy that ball, there was no dead ritual involved. Our names were no longer scribbles to be collected, and the ball was no longer a souvenir. That baseball was now a letter, and each signature was a testament of hope, encouragement, and joy. I can't explain to you how much happiness it gave that mother and her son to share those moments with us.I still can't explain why people treat us so special for putting on a baseball uniform. But in those few moments together, it didn't really matter--in those few moments, baseball made perfect sense.

You can reach Dirk at