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Hot Stove Update
There has been enough truth, rumors and transactions to warrant a whole new article, with multiple contributors. Thanks to Peeks, Shirls, Westy, Larry, 911, Hendi, Joe, Sanchez, Rocket and Truck for the scoops.  The first HRLTC Hot Stove season is in FULL SWING, baby!

Phillies make history with two moves!
Source: Peeks
In an unprecedented move late last night (Tuesday 10/26), the HRL:TC Phillies have secured not one, but two sacred places in the HRL:TC history books. Why this is unprecedented is still under investigation.

Within the Phillies' undisclosed hideout known only as "Shirlshouse", the Phillies first order of business last night was a reshaping of the team's attitude and strategy. Hours in talks between Phillies' skipper Bryan "Shirls" Shirley, BB Coach John "Nine" Tillander, the Brian with an "i" not a "y" Brian "Pelota" Pace, and First/Third base coach Kelly "Peeks" Pieklo resulted in a bold solution that will address both of the above named issues: name change! The Phillies have thusly released the name "Phillies" and will now answer to and only to the team name of "Padres", resulting in the first team name change in the league. When asked about the changing of the team name and identity, Cap'n Shirls offered this response:

Phillies no more...  call ‘em the Padres!
Phillies no more...  call 'em the Padres!

"This first season allowed us to really explore our strengths and weaknesses as a team. We felt good as the Phillies - but we feel that we might feel better about feeling stronger in feelings as the Padres. That, and it was our first choice last year, but LIDZ at the MOA were out of Padres gear." Peeks chimed in, "And I'm having a kid in December, so I'll REALLY be a Padre! Get it?! HA!" What an idiot.

Another emboldening decision was made in the wee hours of the morning. Well more like around 9:05PM, but that's wee hours for us old dudes. At approximately 9:10PM last night, the call was put in - the Phillies cum Padres (ew!) made the first ever official HRL:TC offer to sign a free agent. After hours of deliberations, some Ray's pizza, a few Amstel Lights, a Kahlúa B-52 for dessert, and printing out multiple stat sheets so that each of the Phildres had their own copies to look at, the decision was made to make an offer to one of the many free agents in the league this year. James West be thy name. The Padlies gave Jim until Friday at noon EST, that's Eastern Standard Time motherchickens, to accept or decline the offer. With that, the Padres called it a night, electing to go their separate ways like Journey for the evening, furiously biting their collective nails, awaiting the decision of Westy. But alas! At

Phillies no more...  call ‘em the Padres!
Westy:
signed by the Pads!

9:23PM on the nose, Peeks received the call from the good Admiral Shirley. Giddy with anticipation, Westy could not hold it in - OFFER ACCEPTED! Terms of the agreement were not shared, but sources do tell us that one of the holdups might be the existing Padres expressing displeasure with Westy's noisy-ass pants that he wears to the games. Swit-swat-swit-swat-swit-swat.

Not only will this addition to the team seriously affect both the offensive and defensive strategies for the Padres, but will also put ANOTHER notch in the Padres' "Prettiest Team In The HRL:TC" belt. Some of Westy's thoughts on the move:

OPENING STATEMENT
"I have been dreaming about this day since I was a boy, I always wanted to play for the Padres and now I finally get my chance. I enjoyed my time with the Brewers, but this is where I belong.

ABOUT CHOICES OF AVAILABLE TEAMS
I wanted to go someplace where my skills will be appreciated. Shirls, Peeks, Pace, and Nine are all damn fine ballplayers (can I say damn?) and it will be an honor to bring my wiffleball knowledge and on-the-field antics to the Padre organization.

THE PADRES CHANCES
When looking at the off-season choices, I wanted to go to a contender. I don't have many more years left, and I'll be honest, I think the Padres will be knocking on the door next year. We'll get it done. With the A's losing 911, I don't see any reason the Padres won't be in the series.

ABOUT SHIRLS RIVALRY
Like I said before, I have no hard feeling against Shirls for giving me the loss in the
15-14 extra inning battle back on July 8th. After the sting of losing my consecutive save streak ended, I realized I had a lot of respect for this organization and particularly Shirls. They are truly men in a league of boys.

PLAYING ON A TEAM WITH 5 PLAYERS
Yes, playing on a team with 5 players will be a change of pace but these old legs were wearing down. I am almost 30 you know. I am looking for some well needed games of DHing. Decreased playing time was definitely not a factor in my decision.

ABOUT HAVING A 3rd BASE COACH
I am really looking forward to having some coaching on the basepaths. As a Brewer, I got on base repeatedly only to be thrown out at the plate when I was (incorrectly) told to run. It will be nice to have some experience out there guiding me. Look at me to score even more runs next year!

ABOUT THE PITCHING SITUATION
I am entering a team with new chemistry and new egos to contend with. I am not going to come in here and tell them how to run their team. No, I do not want to be the 5th starter. I am at my best as a change of pace middle reliever/setup man or as the closer. I can spot start at necessary, but I belong in the bullpen.

ABOUT THE 2nd STARTER
It is nice to join a team where the ace is well defined. Don't even get me started about the egos and the jockeying for positions that goes on in the Braves organization. I think Nine has a good shot and claiming the #2 slot. He looked very strong at the end of the year and he has started lifting in the offseason to put some MPH on his fastball.

ABOUT RIVALRIES
Yes, I bring some rivalries with me. Mike P, Cota, and 911 seem to like to beat the teams I am on more then the rest. That is all I am going to say about that. I feel like the Padres have my back.

LARRY
I would have liked to play with my wingman Larry, yeah sure, I am disappointed about that. Hopefully, we will end up on the same team at some point in our careers.

ABOUT THE BREW CREW
I will miss some of my old teammates. We had a good thing going there. I wish them the best of luck next year.

Phillies no more...  call ‘em the Padres!
GM Shirls:
Bold move.

Shirls: I'd like to officially comment on the bold move. We are exremely excited about adding Westy to the Padre fold. While we were strongly considering other options - we felt like Westy was the best fit. He will be counted on to pitch and he most likely will be paired with our other OBP whiz at the top of the order. We are really excited about the run production that is now possible. Can't wait for spring!

Of course, the Brewers, having just lost a teammate, would not go quietly into the night. After Pads' GM Shirls answered to charged of tampering, Brewers' GM Joe Lawrence, went OFF:

Shirls: There was no tampering.

Phillies no more...  call ‘em the Padres!
GM Joe:
Everlasting  Lost-stopper

Joe: It was not solely your error, but you are still in the wrong, sir. Under section 37B of the contract signed by him, it states quite clearly that all benefits shall become null and void if - and you can read it for yourself here in our photo static copy - "I, the undersigned, shall forfeit all rights, privileges, and licenses herein and herein contained," et cetera, et cetera..."Fax mentis incendium gloria cultum," et cetera, et cetera..."Memo bis punitor delicatum!!".

It's all there, black and white, clear as crystal!! West's contract had NOT expired prior to your teams' courting and his signing with the aforementioned Phildres, he therefore is in violation of all that is held holy by the Brewers and we expect full reconciliation of his debts to be paid to us, by you, his new employer. You lose, sir! You LOSE! Good day, sir!

(By the way, we are demanding one case (24 12-oz cans, not 18) of ICEHOUSE (5.5% alcohol, not that wussy 5.0% stuff) beer to be delivered to the Brewers organization prior to the first pitch thrown during every Brewers and Padres match-up in 2005. Accept these terms, or we will see you in court…Let it be known that our organization does not take kindly to contract breechers, or pretty boys who lure our players away with their debonair lifestyle and dashing good looks.)


Another big story was the official move that 911 was leaving the A's and forming his own team. Despite the success of the team in getting within one win of the HRLTC Championship, it was clear that 911 and The Pirate's clashes were too much, and 911 took the initiative.  Here is the official press release:

Source: 911
Ladies (Westy) and persons of all other gender classes. The League Office has just approved this message.

Phillies no more...  call ‘em the Padres!
Senators:  HRLTC's ninth club!

I hereby denounce my free agency... (gasp) I am now the proud Owner and General Manager of the Eagan based Senators.

Phillies no more...  call ‘em the Padres!
911: rebel without a roster

This new team will be a haven for new and old unwanted players. Much like the A's of last year, I will take on those who do not already have a group to play with. I will also be looking for those unwanted pitchers and batters who played this year -- but want a fresh start with a fresh team... if you are interested contact me... I want to put a fun crew on the field-- but also a winning team out there--

G.M. 911 out! thank you!

With the Hot Stove getting hotter by the second, the action was getting to be too much for Sanchez:

Sanchez: Everything is happening soooo quickly. How does one keep up with all of this? I might have to call in sick to work tonight so I can sit around and make some phone calls to free agents and team officials. There is so much work to do.....

As for other teams, here is the latest dirt on the Yankees, whom many thought would be no more after their silent exit after Wifflestock:

Hendi: I know Cota, Scott and Gus are still playing....there was a little conversation of a Joe (Brewers), Paul (Brewers), Cota (Yankees), Gus (Yankees), and Scott (Yankees) merge if Ted was leaving the Brewers, but it sounds like he's staying so the merge isn't necessary.

Phillies no more...  call ‘em the Padres! 
Cota:  Yanks will return
Willie:  Yankee or FA?

Rocket: Hey fellows, I have spoken with Willie and he is down to play next year. The only thing is he doesn't know what's going on with the Yankees since Cota has gone M.I.A.. So if Cota is playing he will [probably] stay with the Yanks, If not he'll be a Free Agent.  Might want to talk to Cota about having everyone back cause if not Willie is down for Free Agency if they don't want him back.

As for the Royals:

Truck: I've yet to confer with the guys, but my plan is to keep us together. I've given it alot of thought and decided that Me, Mikey P and Old Man Dave make a good nucleus.

Phillies no more...  call ‘em the Padres! 
Andy:  FA for Hopkins
The Rick:  FA for Eagan?

Andy will be "released" & picked up by a Hopkins/West team. He lives in Minnetonka anyway, so it's more convenient for him. The Rick is a mystery. I will contact him soon, but he was injured and I don't know if he'll be back next year. Even if he does play, his strength was pitching. We are ok in the pitching department. We need a bat.  Very likely The Rick will be released as well.

We are going to scour the free agent/newbie market for a good hitter or two. Our wish list starts with Mr. Polseno of the Braves, not knowing what his situation will be, (re: Braves team and his ride scenario) but we like his hitting ability and unbridled stoicism...

That is the latest from the Royals' war room.

We do need a bat... would consider Willie if Polseno is not available... Tom's just a better hitter all around. Willie can mash, but we already got one guy who mashes AND strikes out alot. Sorry, Mikey.

Also, in regard to Polseno, Shirls writes: I think Polseno is out for next year - I think he is taking the bar exam in a different state which means he is moving away from Minnesota.

With the departure of 911, a lot of folks are wondering if the A's will survive the offseason. Larry the GM speaks on their behalf:

Phillies no more...  call ‘em the Padres!
Larry: To A or not to A?

Larry: I'm interested too but don't have a whole lot concrete to report just yet. Regardless, I'm always one to ramble so here goes what I gots ...

Obviously, 911 went AWOL at year's end and now has become a team unto himself; I hear he's even franchising and selling novelty toys. He's done with the A's.

I still plan to play next season and am certainly "in play" for interested free agents or for teams seeking free agents.

Mathis was undecided when we last spoke. He didn't say he wouldn't play but he also was unwilling to say he's totally in. I do know he repeatedly talked about playing with some other dudes who are likely as gifted as he is. Perhaps he'll return with a Super Friends type Super Team next year.

During the Braves' regular-season game that was my personal Most Painful Game of the Year (great games against a great team but the 911/Greg tension intruded a bit on the fun) Greg said he wanted to be on a different team next year. But that could have been the heroin talking, who knows?

Tim is obviously a gamer but was more of a mercenary.

I've got some feelers out with the current A's and will provide more updates soon. Until then, the A's persist ...

As of right now, the Braves, Expos and the reigning champion Twins look to be pretty solid and will likely not see any major roster changes.  As always, we'll keep our wiffle-hungry public in the loop when more news arises!!

Posted in: HRL, Hot Stove

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