No feelings were meant to be hurt in the writing of this article. Except Gary’s.
Justin started this offseason off with three big trades, trading away young players for older talent, then trading again to get youth. He was trying to both build to win now, and contend in the future. Then he went all the way in when he traded Mike Piper to get a haul in return, with a combination of pitchers and hitters to help win now, and the #5 overall prospect. It still seemed a mind-boggling trade, but the trades worked out… At least to start the season. On July 1st, they finally went into sell mode, already 9 1/2 back, and clearly a step behind Dayton, Syracuse and Mahoning Valley, and Altoona was only getting older. Now with Wily Peralta, Chris Sale and Joey Gallo all gone, this is a team in a full rebuild. If he sticks to it, this team could be scary, especially if he finds a way to secure a front line starter. If you look at it as a whole, it’s been a season of questionable moves, but he’s finally committed one way, and has made solid trades to look good for the future.
Trey makes the playoffs every other year, so he’s supposed to miss this season. But he won’t. With super prospect 2B Steve MacKinney coming up and dominating, and the rest of his core still there, Trey has Austin looking as a lock for the division title. He quietly added bullpen help in Andrew Cashner for a bag of old baseballs and added catching wiz Jorge Alfaro for a mediocre utility player and a now-retired starting pitcher. He was also able to move shortstop J.P. Crawford for slugging shortstop prospect Cesar Alvarez, and did not drop off much, as he has plenty of depth. The only move that could be questioned is that of starting Luis Torrens at 3B, instead of his natural catching position. But the team has still been successful, so who is to question him.
This has been an odd one, as David Jones left the team after taking them to the finals, and putting up a fight there. Kevin took over shortly after and traded away starting 3B Pablo Sandoval, with no obvious choice to take over, and right before the season traded two of their better middle relievers, followed by arguably their top starter being shipped within the division, and then made a deadline deal to send yet another reliever. Despite all of this, they are in the lead for the first wild card, and sit just 2.5 games back in the division. Strong play from unexpected force Pedro Perez has helped carry them, let’s see if it pans out.
Erik took over the team midseason, returning to the league after a short time away. Taking over arguably the team with the least talent, with very little farm, he’s made some solid moves. Starting with getting Matt Garza for free, getting young starting pitcher J.J. Abiram, and a package for Luke Maile and Shawn Tolleson. In all he’s added three young high upside starting pitchers, added the number 1 and number 2 overall picks, and got another young superstar hitter, who could be as good as Maile.
Matt made some questionable trades in the offseason, especially trading away slugger Miguel Sano and budding superstar centerfielder David Dahl, and going with a rule 5 pick as his starting third baseman. But in the process, he has built what is now the number 1 rated farm system, and it seems clear the goal is for the future, without going full rebuild. Adding top starting pitchers Chris Sale and Randall Delgado were solid moves, but the team is currently on the outside looking in.
Brandon has sat on top prospect Jim ‘Village Idiot’ Clarridge, which was the right move. While he may not have the other pieces there yet, Clarridge is already a stud, averaging over 10 K/9. He was able to sell high on underperforming reliever Justin Smith, getting three solid players in the process, and recently got several young starting pitchers in return for the disappointing first overall pick, Jerry Stollings. And as this article was posted, they managed to get Jorge Estrada, an ace in the making, and two other players for two aging players, a solid move for the future.
Dallis took control of an expansion team, one of the toughest things to do. All the leftover unwanted pieces of other teams compiled on one team, but no youngsters either, everyone already several years into their careers, so teams have a good idea of their talent level. But Dallis did a good job, acquiring Joe Donaldson in a trade. Well on their way towards a top 3 pick, and quite possibly #1 overall, they will add a top prospect as this next draft class is seen as loaded.
#2… Quickly moving towards #3. Mike still has a rock solid team, led by stud Brady Aiken, but he identified that with both Mike Trout and Jason Heyward both going down with career ending injuries in the last two seasons, he was struggling to stay elite. So he shipped out Kodi Medeiros, Scooter Gennett and Jacob Gatewood and in return got back three of the best hitting prospects, and he also got other pieces, one of whom, Jorge Estrada he traded in a deadline deal for depth at the CBL level in the form of Dwight Smith Jr. and Joe Wendle. He still looks to make the playoffs, and with Luke Maile, Jon Denney and Sakutaro Masuda in the lineup, and Aiken, Gerrit Cole, Noah Syndergaard and Jordan Zimmermann on the bump, anything can happen there.
Kyle took over a team with Mike Wheeler and Mike Piper, and a lot of holes. Although he traded Piper away, he then traded to get him back, and now has one of the deadliest starting rotations, with 5 players seen as aces or potential aces, all 24 or younger, and has another top pitcher in Wily Peralta. Through tons of wheeling and dealing, Kyle has amassed a talented young squad, making savvy trades for players like Dalton Duty and smart free agent pickups like John Axford.
Starting with a trade of superstar of Bryce Harper, the deals Doug has made have just not seemed to work out this year. An injury to big acquisition Ryan Castellani didn’t help, but each trade seems to go back and forth, never truly deciding whether to rebuild or to attempt to win now. Some of his trades have gotten back nice returns, like that for Trace Loehr, other times he has grasped for an underperforming superstar, like Joey Gallo or Freddie Freeman. After getting a fantastic hitting prospect Steve Carlton, Doug immediately turned and traded him and Juan Viera, a budding ace for strikeout king Joey Gallo.
Peezy has done a great job sitting on building for the win now. When Jameson Taillon came back with reduced stamina, he made him the closer, where he dominated before another injury. Then trading for Scooter Gennett and getting Seth Beer, a top hitting prospect, along with Jose Berrios who is as good as Artie ‘Boo’ Lawrence, at least this season.
Phil had the number one system, and continued to upgrade it. With top prospects John Aiello, Ken Holman and Jimmy Goodwin all up, they already look better. Then came the big move, the one to acquire Jacob Gatewood, but giving up 2 top prospects. It was a bold move, but to get an established player may have been a good idea, as Gatewood is still young regardless, and has playoff experience to help this team should they make it. Phil has been solid to wait for players to come up rather than going for a quick (unsuccessful) fix.
Imran made big acquisitions in the offseason, adding slugger Miguel Sano and outfielder Bryce Harper. But the team is -11 difference from what they were predicted to win up to this point. This can be attributed to their 8-22 record in 1 run games, despite having the 3rd best bullpen ERA in the Heartland League. The only real addition he’s made in season is adding reliever Shawn Tolleson, who has been fantastic, but the back-to-back champion did not panic at the deadline, electing to sit pat on his talented roster and hope things turn around in the second half.
Tim pulled off two steals in trades, getting SP Michael Wacha for next to nothing, and while he did give away some starting pitching, he got back budding young superstar David Dahl. To go along with Chase Vallot and José Arvizu, Tim has amassed a load of young hitting talent. Sadly, his pitching help is still a few years off, but he has gotten the most out of every deal he’s made.
David left Calgary after a cup run, and took over one of the teams with the least talent, both CBL talent, and minors. It certainly was a challenge, but David was ready. Making only small moves, he was able able to get ace hopeful Randall Delgado and flip him for better prospects. Playing in a crazy hitters park, made for right handed batters to love, he’s got one player built for the park, and should continue to work with the set up. He’s doing his best with a limited team.
The best GM is CBL history… Who has also yet to win a Cup. Could this be Gary’s year? He certainly seems to think so, although he has made no major moves to add to his roster. He made moves for young utility guys in Cavan Biggio and Montrell Marshall, and added back starting pitcher Sonny Gray. He also made a move to solidify his bullpen by adding Jordan Walden. Currently he sits a half game back in the division, something he’s not used to seeing this late in the season. With the top half of that rotation he will be a threat in the playoffs.
Scott is very hands off with his team, but he has no reason not to be, as they are running away with the Frontier League. Making zero trades this [off]season and making no major free agent signings, actually letting several players walk. He’s got little depth chart, causing his players to exhaust quickly, possibly why he seems to be plagued with injury. But his talent is so deep, it simply does not matter.
What is Ace expected to do with one of the two most recent expansion teams? He has little talent, and not enough prospects to make any moves. He’s playing the waiting game right now. He acquired some lottery ticket type players in trades, but nothing major. More trades like this, someone is bound to develop into a star, helping him boost his rebuild.
Kevin took over the Admirals and made a move to get a budding young ace in Trent Johnson and added another young pitcher in Bob Nelson recently. They look to be set for a playoff run, and while they made no major moves, they sat tight on a talented young roster, and didn’t move any of the few prospects they have left in a desperate move to upgrade.
Dan has not made a single trade to bolster the CBL roster, nor has he sold any pieces for prospects. But why should he? His team is cruising to the division title, and he’s got a dominant pitching staff that can carry him in the playoffs. The only spot he may have looked at improving is center field, where he’s playing a struggling rookie. Other than that, this team looks just as talented as any other.