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2005 Preview
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Friday, March 25, 2005
Season Preview - Relievers
Topic: 2005 Preview
When you have four of the best five right-handed starters in the league in your rotation, the bullpen tends to become an afterthought. In Spanish Harlem?s case, that might not be such a bad thing. Owner/Manager/GM Jack Flynn will have to rely on a few select firemen to carry an otherwise mediocre crop of late-inning hurlers.

The relief corps is at its thinnest in years and the Heat will be expecting Kiko Calero to be a workhorse throughout the season. Calero (14/8) has excellent numbers but a problem with serving up home runs against left handed batters. Don?t be surprised if he eats up 50 to 60 percent of all relief innings this season. Greg Aquino (19/19) has solid numbers, but a problem similar to Calero?s ? a tendency toward the long ball, albeit against righties. Dave Williams (29/15) is the top lefty in the pen, but his unorthodox card will limit him to extended use only in specific situations.

Three average righties ? Ricky Bottalico, Francisco Cordero and Brian Meadows ? will battle for two spots in the pen. Bottalico (23/22) has a nice card and gives up very little power but has a (+5) hold. There?s even less power on Cordero?s card (25/25), but his numbers are a little high to make him reliable in high-pressure situations. Meadows (17/26) will be more effective against lefty-laden lineups. Damaso Marte (15/33) brings up the rear, but he may be bumped out of the lefty specialist?s role by Brian Shouse (9/37) on a waiver technicality.

The mid-February trade that imported Jason Schmidt and Roger Clemens takes on even greater import when looking at the shallow pool of talent in the pen. Don?t be surprised if the Heat swing a deal for a reliever at some point in the season, perhaps using Frank Thomas as trade bait. It is believed Thomas could be had for a solid DH and a better than average right-handed reliever. Royce Clayton, who right now is buried in Spanish Harlem?s minor league system but would be a valuable backup on some teams and a starter on a few others, might also be of use in any efforts to bolster the pen.

Bandits and Crackheads Finally Swing Deal

After a delay of nearly two weeks held up proceedings, the New Jersey Bandits finally completed their second trade of the season on February 27, sending Johnny Damon and Ramon Hernandez to the Floral Park Crackheads in exchange for Jason Kendall and Kevin Brown.

Posted by Jack at 11:28 PM EST
Updated: Friday, March 25, 2005 11:36 PM EST
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Thursday, February 24, 2005
Heat Adds Two New Aces
Topic: Spanish Harlem Trades
Flowers and chocolate are always nice, but Spanish Harlem received an extra-special Valentine's Day gift on Monday - two dominating right-handed starters. Jason Schmidt and Roger Clemens were acquired from the New Jersey Bandits in exchange for four players, including first overall pick Adrian Beltre, and the Heat will be counting on the two fire-ballers to complete the most dominating rotation in the league.

Beltre, Jake Westbrook, Ted Lilly and Ryan Madson were all shipped to New Jersey to complete the trade, which also imported shortstop Rafael Furcal to Spanish Harlem.

Schmidt and Clemens can't hold runners on base, but that might be their only limitations. Schmidt (14/19) steps in as the #1 starter and drops perpetual ace Curt Schilling down to the #2 slot. His +7 hold is problematic, but Schmidt has the ability to dominate every time he steps on the mound. He is generally considered the second-best right hander in the league, on a par with Midville's Ben Sheets. Clemens (22/22) could make a strong case for being the third best right-handed starter. He has a +5 hold to contend with, but strikes out a ton of batters and generally avoids extra base hits. Clemens was the ace of several of Owner/GM/Manager Jack Flynn's teams in the early 1990s and although it's common knowledge Flynn has detested Clemens since his altercations with Mike Piazza in 2000, Roger will likely spend the season in the #3 slot in the rotation.

The loss of Beltre will have a significant impact on the Heat's offense, but it's clear that pitching will have to carry Spanish Harlem this season. The loss of Madson thins out the bullpen somewhat, but with four great starters in tow Spanish Harlem won't be going to substitute hurlers on a regular basis. Furcal, meanwhile, will back up Alex Rodriguez at shortstop and will get the occasional start against right-handers who have difficulty getting out lefties.

Heat Flashes: Furcal's acquisition means that Spanish Harlem now boasts five slick-fielding shortstops in the system, all of them 2s. Royce Clayton, Jack Wilson and Bobby Crosby (the near-unanimous American League Rookie of the Year this year) are all ideal backups and are all available. Spanish Harlem is looking for a spare reliever or outfielder in return.

Posted by Jack at 10:12 PM EST
Updated: Friday, March 25, 2005 11:37 PM EST
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Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Season Preview - Starters
Topic: 2005 Preview
A starting rotation featuring two former Yankee prospects is always a cause for concern, but Spanish Harlem is banking on two new additions to bring stability to a staff that was arguably the best in the league last season. If Jake Westbrook and Ted Lilly falter in the third and fourth spots, respectively, a shaky bullpen will be forced to take a larger role that Owner/GM/Manager Jack Flynn is hoping for them.

Luckily, Westbrook and Lilly should be able to deliver the goods. Both had breakout seasons in 2004 and ranked among the group just below Oliver Perez in the crop of available free agent pitchers this year. Westbrook (32/22) may function as a bit of a swingman, as he has a (7) as a starter and a (4) as a reliever. He compares well with Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright and will be helped out by Spanish Harlem's ballpark dimensions. His low power numbers and excellent hold (-4) are an added bonus. Lilly (26/26) might have been the second best lefty available and will keep the Heat in games against teams who don't destroy lefties.

They will join holdovers Curt Schilling and Carlos Zambrano, who occupy the top two slots in the rotation. Schilling (17/22) holds several Spanish Harlem records and should have one more great season for the Heat before next year's league reorganization. He will have some trouble on the road with a ballpark HR on a 6-7, but it's one of the few places where Schilling's card will hurt the Heat. It's highly unlikely that he will be among the five players protected when Spanish Harlem folds and St. Jack's is born, but you can bet Jack Flynn will make it a priority to try and bring his old friend back to tutor the new generation of flamethrowers. One of those flamethrowers will likely be Zambrano (25/22), who may turn out to be the best of the Cubs' heralded young hurlers. If Carlos continues cutting down on his walk rate, St. Jack's will have an ace for the long-term future. He's already overmatching hitters and has some of the lowest hit and extra-base hit numbers of any starting pitcher in the league.
Spanish Harlem has three very interesting young hurlers in the minor leagues, at least one of which should make the transition to St. Jack's next season. Rich Harden (31/27) would already be a number #4 starter on several teams in the league and, if Lilly finds it tough succeeding in a lefty-killing league, may well slide into that role. Zack Greinke (22/28) cannot pitch this year due to astronomical home run totals against righties, but he and Harden are generally considered the two best right-handed pitching prospects in baseball with only one full season under their belt. There is a very good chance that those two could join Zambrano next season with St. Jack's to form the league's best rotation for the next decade. It speaks volumes about the pitching depth when Mark Mulder (35/32) is Spanish Harlem's seventh starter, but he might make someone very happy at the trade deadline if he has the kind of bounce-back year most people expect him to.

Posted by Jack at 1:06 AM EST
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Friday, February 11, 2005
Adrian Beltre First Overall Pick As Heat Fill Out Roster
Topic: Latest News
It was a wild Draft Day in Middle Village on Sunday, as Spanish Harlem wheeled and dealed its way to a few extra picks while filling out the roster. There was some surprise when Spanish Harlem announced Adrian Beltre as the first overall pick in the draft and even more when the sixth overall pick was dealt to Lindenhurst for a second and a third-round pick. The gamble worked out well as the Heat were still able to get ace reliever Kiko Calero with that second rounder.

A full list of Spanish Harlem draftees will be available late tonight or tomorrow. In the meantime, Beltre (44/54) will man third base for the Heat, Calero will play the Rafael Soriano role for this year's team and right fielder Dustan Mohr (38/58) will help off-set the loss of Brian Giles.

All in all, I thought the draft went well. There were only two or three players I targeted that I wasn't able to get and a number of prospects like Bobby Crosby and Zack Greinke dropped a lot further than I expected. I still have a ways to go before this team can be considered among the elite of the league, but I consider it a playoff team right now with some room to grow.

Check out the new picture page (titled 2005 Draft) to get a feel for the day!

Heat Flashes: Spanish Harlem made one other trade on Sunday, shipping recently acquired Keith Ginter to New Jersey for reliever Francisco Cordero. Cordero (25/25) should have a home in the Heat bullpen this season.

Posted by Jack at 12:36 PM EST
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Sunday, January 30, 2005
Giles Gone! Lowell Finds Home In Spanish Harlem
Topic: Spanish Harlem Trades
As the hours before the 2005 Draft continue winding down, Spanish Harlem made its second move in as many days late Saturday night, sending Brian Giles to West Babylon in exchange for Mike Lowell and a fourth-round pick. The remodeling continues, as Lowell ostensibly steps into the starting role at third and leaves the future of just-acquired Keith Ginter in serious doubt.

With just nine hours to go before the draft, I have decided on who I'll be taking with both picks in the first round. After that, it's all going to be a blur. Ginter is certainly available for a team that needs a third baseman or a DH against lefties - I would love to get a backup right fielder or a back-of-the-bullpen reliever in exchange. It's going to be a very fun day tomorrow; you can expect a draft recap late tomorrow night.

Posted by Jack at 7:06 PM EST
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Blockbuster Bonanza Prelude to Bringing Back Beltre?
Topic: Latest News
Spanish Harlem traded three players last night in a bid to move up the draft board for an impact player, sending Livan Hernandez, Gary Sheffield, Corey Koskie and a fourth-round pick to Midville for the first overall pick in the 2005 draft and Keith Ginter. The blockbuster trade now opens up the possibility of adding a top free agent, such as Oliver Perez, Adrian Beltre or Travis Hafner.

I've been getting a number of inquiries about who I plan on selecting with the pick, but I'm playing it close to the vest for now. For one thing, I'm honestly still undecided about who I'm going to pick in the slot. Perez, Beltre and Hafner all have unique benefits and detriments and I still haven't figured out which one will have the most impact. Secondly, I'm still fielding trade offers from a number of different teams - including for the just-acquired first overall pick - everything is still very fluid. The trades I may or may not be making in the final 60 hours before the draft will ultimately determine what I will be doing. Now that the first shoe has dropped, the transactions could start coming fast and furious!

League Wire: The Floral Park Crackheads have sent their first and fifth-round picks over to the Long Island Fours for their new cleanup hitter David Ortiz. Also coming over in the deal will be swift-footed Dave Roberts, who will undoubtedly replace Juan Pierre as the number one pinch-running threat in the league. Pierre, excited about his promotion to the starting lineup, will inspire fear in opposing pitchers and catchers while sitting atop the Crackhead lineup. New Crackhead manager Steve Howe, fresh out of rehab, will lead a fresh crop of hard-throwing young pitchers in to a new era of Crackhead baseball. - Jason Varvaro

The Long Island Fours traded Ryan Klesko to Midville for a seventh-round pick. This is the seventh round pick originally held by the Fours that was traded to the Marauders last season for Mike Koplove. - Kevin Baumbach

Posted by Jack at 1:19 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, January 30, 2005 1:31 AM EST
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Friday, January 28, 2005
Spanish Harlem Announces Protected List
Topic: Latest News
The Spanish Harlem Heat announced its protected list on Saturday evening and will be returning 26 of the 40 players responsible for bringing the team to the brink of a league championship in 2004.

Most of the usual suspects will be returning, including starters Curt Schilling and Carlos Zambrano, as well as mainstays like Jorge Posada and Carlos Beltran. The biggest change will undoubtedly be in the bullpen, where only Mike Timlin and Damaso Marte will be returning from last year.

The 2005 draft is scheduled for January 30 in Middle Village. The full list of returning players can be found in the roster section.

Posted by Jack at 12:54 AM EST
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