Friday, February 15, 2008

State of the GB Yoopers

State of the Yoopers:
The Yoopers look like they will be making their first playoff appearance this season. It is my hope that we can improve on that and be a serious contender next season. We are in good financial shape and have added a few pieces in the Buchholz trade. We go into the off season looking to fill a few needs however.
PITCHING: My top our are Carmona, Oswalt, Schilling, and Guthrie (a 7th round pick that had a good year). Sean Marshall will have to make some starts for Guthrie and Schilling. I may be looking at upgrading my 5th starter, it is either Fogg or Woody Williams right now. I can address that either through draft, trade or FA.
My bullpen looks to be strong, as I mentioned in my other blog. K-Rod, Jenks, Qualls, Embry, 32 innings from Otsuka. Chad Cordero looks to be the odd man out. Yates and Thornton can provide mop up innings.
CATCHER: My third round pick from a few years ago, McCann, is a cornerstone of my team. I have a solid backup in Valentine.
INFIELD. 3B-Beltre, SS/2B Theriot (late round pick in 2006), 1B Berkman. Looks good. I will be looking for a middle infielder to team with Theriot as a starter. Punto is my only backup at this point.
OF: CF-Hunter. Another cornerstone. Corner OF- Matt Diaz can play about half the games, and had a very good year. Jaque Jones and Matt Murton are players that will get Abs. The disappointing Bill Hall is also there. This is an area I hope to add my other big bat to in FA.
DH. If I add two bats this off season, this will be the other spot, along with OF.
It is my hope I can get two more bats, a 2B, and a 5th starter without doing too much damage to my good money situation . I should have a team that will be in the hunt. There are some fine managers and a few elite teams in the league, and overhauling them will not be easy.
I hope everyone has a great and fun off season.

My Buchholz trade

I know an invitation was extended to Brass members to share their thoughts on trades in this blog. I just completed a big trade. I (Green Bay Yoopers) dealt top prospect Clay Buchholz and my number one pick for Lance Berkman and Francisco Rodriguez (K-Rod.)
I believe my team is ready to compete next season, which was why I was willing to deal a top prospect and pick. In getting k-Rod, I now have an 8th inning shutdown guy in Krod, and a 9th inning closer in Jenks. Add to that good 7th inning guys like Alan Embry and Chad Qualls, not to mention 32 good innings from Otsuka, I have the makings of a top bullpen. That will correspond nicely with my top four starters of Carmona, Oswalt, Guthrie, and Schilling.
By acquiring Berkman, I get a big bat I needed. To contend, I felt I had to do better at 1B than a platoon of Dan Johnson (now available) and Millar. And both Berkman and K-Rod are under contract for a few more years.
Buchholz, surprisingly, was my 2nd round pick last year (not a first). I hope he has a great career for Vaughn. I view drafting in one of two ways. Build the team through the draft, or do a great job drafting and then trade the prospects for proven players. Last year I traded Adam Miller and Reid Briegnac in the Bill Hall trade. Hall slumped this year, but his bat for the season we are playing is a part of the puzzle that will allow me to make my first playoff appearance in franchise history (it looks like I will make it anyway, barring a great run by one of my competitors).
I hope the trade works for both of us.

History of a San Jose StratHead & Where the Scorpions Franchise is Headed

It always starts with a flurry of deals. And it seems I can ONLY do deals in this league in bunches. I make one deal, which leads to another, which creates another opportunity, etc etc. Who says the domino effect isn’t real?

I had about 6 trades happen pretty quickly when I first took over this franchise, and now, approaching free agency, I find myself committing to a direction that will have me compete next year via another series of deals. As you will come to know, I am one of those owners where the trading is half the fun for me. So hopefully without boring everyone to tears, now I’ll write a bit about my history in SOM, my management style, and where all these deals fit in.

I cut my teeth in simulation baseball not with SOM at all, but with Pursue the Pennant, the forerunner to Diamond Mind, in the early 90s. The Sporting News launched their SOM online leagues in 2001, and it was very similar to PTP (which I played as a board & dice game). So relative to many here, I’m probably a newbie at SOM.

In TSN’s version, the leagues have a salary cap and all SOM players with cards are assigned a cap value. For those of you interested in a different, lighter SOM experience, I can highly recommend TSN to you – they are offering a completely free trial of a full 162-gm season of their upcoming 1986 replay release. Some of the leagues will be managed by celebrity SOM heads like Doug Glanville & Curt Schilling, who I guess will have a lot of time on his hands now.... TSN’s game is less hands-on as all games are autoplayed (3 games per night), but very strategic in terms of roster building and cap management.

So I won my first league in TSN in 2001, and like a pinball game, the high score (winning a title) earns you 2 free games, so I was hooked after that. At that time leagues were limited to 12 teams but this year’s version will offer flexible league sizes. That first team (link below for those interested) was built on LH & SW hitters (Thome, Tino Martinez, Chipper Jones, Robbie Alomar, Beltran), very solid D, and pitching that was good enough but not great. I housed it in a park that took advantage of the cards I had and in this case, masked an average bullpen.

This LH park & team approach become kind of a signature for me. I made the playoffs about 70% of the time, and won titles about a third of the time. So for the next 4 years I spent a lot of time honing the lefty approach, and hanging out on SOM boards, giving advice to newbies who wanted to build lefty teams that could win. After 2005 my attention turned to pre-card leagues (get out your crystal balls everyone), then keeper leagues, then in the last 2 years, dynasty leagues with 40-man rosters similar to BRASS & BLOC, and now I do very few leagues other than dynasty style.

Now I am entering into a new fun SOM phase with BRASS and BLOC, and one of the challenges I will have is seeing whether a lefty approach can translate to this format. I have heard from many naysayers on this approach, who believe it will be tough to win in this way in large leagues with no salary cap, but being a little bit stubborn at times as I can be, I’m going to give it a real shot.

In BRASS, the first set of deals I made (which Tim documented and analyzed pretty handily) landed me several good LHs, among them Pena, Hamilton, Ellsbury, and Zito, to complement existing players like Sizemore and Rollins. With free agency coming and a bit of money and some trade parts on hand, I turned my focus to acquiring pieces to fit around Pena & Rollins. I couldn’t ignore their career years, and I decided I had to go for it now. So in come Ellis for his D & nice bat against LHP to balance out my lineup, and the rights to Marlon Byrd, to give me a RH bat that hits RH ok (N power required) but is not BP HR dependent. I swung another deal to get the rights to Hafner, a DH favorite of mine, followed by another deal which gave me Sherrill + the rights to E Chavez as a possible fill-in at 3B (even if his body is held together with duct tape at this point), and Werth, a nice OF piece similar to Byrd – not a lot of power but solid D and good BA/OBP.

The big move I needed to really allow my approach a chance to work this year was to move out of DET. I was pretty disappointed when Comerica came out as a completely neutral park this year, so the final move in this flurry was to get the best lefty-tilted park I could find, PNC. Its dimensions should keep it lefty-friendly, so I expect to be here for years to come, and especially this year, with pitchers like D Bush and K Gregg, who will give up some BP HR to RHs, the park will add a lot of value to their cards.

Coming up to free agency, I enter the bidding with my bullpen pretty set at 480 innings, most of them good quality, my SPs in decent shape with 900 innings, and needing just a few position players to round out the squad. I will probably not go hog-wild in FA (like I did in BLOC) as I have several players who will be Y3s this year who will need long-term deals or extensions: Sizemore, Dave Bush, Correia (who I picked up not only for his SP/RP card now, but as the frontrunner for the Giants’ 5th SP role), and Snyder.

So our short-term goals are to be a playoff team in 2008 with probably a longshot at the title as things stand. Looking forward, maybe we can become a more serious contender in 2009 if our youngsters Ellsbury and Hamilton develop as hoped and we pick up one or two pieces in the draft.

BRASS has been a blast for me so far & I’m looking forward to more of the same - thanks all for the warm welcome!

Dave/San Jose

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Phase Out Uncarded Players

Since Mark has posted his change proposals, I'd like to add one of my own. Last year we lowered from five to three the number of uncarded players each team is allowed to keep. I'd like to make that the first step in a process of phasing out uncarded players entirely. We discussed last year the reasons why allowing uncarded players has proven to be a drawback: mainly, the draft is less fun when there are hardly any players in it who can have an immediate impact on your team.

Therefore, I propose that starting in 2009, no team may keep more than one uncarded player on its roster. If that is approved, a year from now I'll propose that uncarded players be eliminated entirely starting in 2010.

Four Proposals for BRASS

It is nearing that time when we ponder making changes to BRASS. Here are four changes I intend to present to the membership for approval:

1. Remove the Home/Road Discrepancy Program

This anachronism has lingered well into the CM-only BRASS experience we enjoy currently. The rule was designed when we all exchanged written instructions for teams and home managers could spend their game playing time exhausting loopholes in their opponents instructions to jack up their home wins rather than engaging in a baseball game. True, HAL has his blind spots as well, but he suffers from the same blindness in all BRASS parks. Time for this one to go, guys.

2. No Trade Contracts

This is one I continually harp on and I will again this offseason. It is completely illogical that a team can ink a player to a NT contract and then leave him unprotected for the draft. If selected, the player suffers the same result of being traded yet the team who loses the player doesn't have to pay the NT penalty! Let us make it a stipulation of the NT contract that the player MUST be on the 30-man protected roster a team submits to the draft co-ordinator.

3. Drafted Veterans

I would like to suggest that any veteran taken in the BRASS draft be subject immediately to signing a U contract and not a Y contract. Last year I drafted Eric Hinske. He's on a Y contract for me. I say we give our drafted vets a little extra for having been around the BRASS block already. Therefore, I propose that if a draftee, in a prior MLB season, had surpassed the threshold in which a player advances from MO to Y1 status, that said player can only be signed to a U contract. Give teams seven days from the declared end of the draft to determine how long of a U contract they wish to offer to the draftee.

4. Lower the Y1 Threshold

These are too high. BRASS sets the threshold at 130 PA and 40 IP. In BRASSWORLD we use 100 PA and 30 IP. I created these limits along with Corey for BW. The idea was that the number should be an amount that a player could reasonably accrue with full-time play in one month. [Frankly, I also think there should be a caveat for 'relief-only' pitchers and that number to fall to 25 for them, but for simplicity will advocate the current BW threshold.] For example: I have Tyler Johnson. Last year Tyler Johnson threw 35 innings. This past MLB season he made it up to 38. As we all know, he's a young LOOGY. I could easily use a LOOGY's innings over more months than just one in BRASS. I propose we drop these numbers down and/or allow managers to voluntarily move a player to Y status so we can use them.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Eat Your Hearts Out

Some pics of my little baby girl, Quin. The occasion: a celebration of becoming a one-year old.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Beyond 85-77

Like Lenny and Daniel further down the page, it is that time of the Strat year when a manager can't help but get overly excited about the upcoming season. True, as a frigid winter league we won't start up again till September, but with Lenny's UPS compatriots delivering cards and disks to the Strat playing nation, how can one not get fired up for the next campaign?

So fresh off my unexpected season I thought I'd share as well my prospects for the immediate future.


The strength of the Challengers figures to get even better in 08-09. Prince and Hanley suffered no downturn in their sophomore seasons. Curtis Granderson has became a mesmerizing player who is also thoughtfully well-spoken. Matt Kemp is itching to break out, but 08-09 should provide a glimpse of what he will become for the Challenger faithful down the road. Steady Austin Kearns will return for the last year of his A contract. Never the superstar we hoped for- just reliable production from a perfect #6 hitter with stellar RF defense. Rounding out the attack will be Jose Bautista and Jason Kubel- both of whom started to perform better during the 2007 MLB season.


Any BRASS manager knows you have to have the arms to get that elusive Bucket. Someday I'll make that Bucket mine and the groundwork is hopefully being laid with the 08-09 moundsmen. Tom Gorzelanny and James Shields are young, cheap and above average pitchers who only figure to get better. Joining them will be Yovanni Gallardo, a prospect Challenger management has dug on for a few years now. No secret that Challenger management root, root, roots for the Brewers makes Yo's ascension to the Big Club all the sweeter. Unfortunately, the successes are balanced by the setbacks (Francisco Liriano & Cliff Lee) and the stalled (Anthony Reyes). Still, the bullpen is equally youth-laden and founded on the power arms of Jason Frasor, Manny Corpas, Tony Pena & Tyler Johnson.


As Daniel mentions below, with the rule change comes a different BRASS draft. The Challengers will be retaining two youngsters- Adam Miller and Reid Brignac. Both have solid shots to graduate to the ML level in 2008. With a 1st and 2nd round pick the Challengers will be in good position to add some more talent to the club.

With no integral cog of the Challenger machine advanced beyond the ripe-old age of 26, the Bucket-chasing prospects of the club remains bright.


The Challenger season is now in the books after a 5-3 series win over our hated crosstown rivals, the Andover Cougars. 85-77 might not seem like much but for a band of youthful misfits it was quite a fun season.

But how did it happen? How did a team that lost 100 games last season and entered and exited the 2007-08 season with little pitching (team ERA of 4.99) wind up on the cusp of a BRASS playoff spot?

There were three elements that got the Challengers situated for an engaging 2007-08 season.

1. The Trade

Near the end of last season, Challenger management pulled the trigger and sent Albert Pujols away- the finest draft pick I've ever made. But in return came back Prince Fielder and Hanley Ramirez. These two precocious infielders proceeded to have great freshman seasons that easily made up for Albert's departure.

Hanley: .294 BA, 17 HR, 88 RBI, 36 SB, 826 OPS
Prince: .288 BA, 52 2B, 24 HR, 96 RBI, 879 OPS

2. The Ballpark

I had come to hate Yankee Stadium. Every year I looked at the same staid graphic to play my games. Every year, practically 1-10 for every thing. Whoopty-do! It was becoming quite monotonous. I wanted a new ballpark. ANY ballpark. So Kevin and I swapped parks. My new home was the corporate home of the ChiSox that at least sounds respectable enough when shortened- The Cell. I've played Strat for over 20 years now, but it had been a long time since a ballpark had such a dramatic effect on my club. The Challengers responded and deposited 140 souvenirs for the fans in the bleachers. [Truth be told, our opponents kicked in 143 souvenirs.] The cheap long balls aided the Challengers in reaching a 46-35 home mark. It also helped make stars out of Chris Shelton (23 HR, 19 at home) and Mike Lieberthal (20 HR, 18 at home). The pitchers have complained about the new digs, but when I get my $4,000,000 check for almost mking the playoffs, they'll be happy to see the extra dinero around. Which leads me into point three...

3. The Rule Change

I have to admit- it was a sweeping, novel idea that came to BRASS last offseason: Paying clubs extra for angling toward the playoffs rather than being content to make the season a 100+ loss mockery. I've done the latter more often than I'd care to admit and losing becomes quite distasteful. So with the new rule in place I set about in the draft with a peculiar and definite strategy to get me some of that cash come the end of 2007-08. So, during the draft, I went after cheap unprotected players to augment my roster. Added were Tony Graffanino (.269 BA, 32 2B, only 7 E) and the aforementioned Mike Lieberthal. And further to that end I grabbed a solid lefty bat in the form of Eric Hinske (884 ops in 298 PA) for a paltry $200,000.

In conclusion, the 2007-08 season was a refreshing change for a club that is still admittedly focused on the future. But at least my campaign was a little proof that the path toward promise needn't be pockmarked with woeful losses.