Saturday, February 23, 2008

2008 BRASS Draft Lottery results

Maybe Paul should have stuck around a while longer? :)

The vacant Happy Valley franchise has secured the 2008 #1 overall Draft pick by winning the BRASS Draft Lottery. The order of selection for the first seven picks in each round is shown in the results report below. The public draft lottery process this year involved the calculation of the sum of random one-digit numbers generated by the shooting percentage results of NBA games.

The method is explained in detail further below the results report that follows.

1. Happy Valley - 171 points
2/20: Cleveland @ Indiana
4+8+1+4+7+6+6+6+7+4+3+8+3+7+5+9+0+0 = 88
2/22: Atlanta @ Golden State
4+6+7+4+3+5+8+5+2+4+7+9+2+3+1+7+0+6 = 83

2. Olympia - 170 points
2/20: Chicago @ New Jersey
3+8+1+2+8+6+7+5+0+4+2+9+5+2+6+7+7+8 = 90
2/22: Milwaukee @ Detroit
5+0+0+4+0+0+6+6+7+5+1+7+3+6+8+7+7+8 = 80

3. Meridian - 154 points
2/20: Atlanta @ Sacramento
4+9+3+5+0+0+7+2+7+4+6+5+5+2+6+8+0+6 = 79
2/22: Sacramento @ Charlotte
4+5+5+5+2+9+7+5+0+4+3+9+4+4+0+7+1+1 = 75

4. Cream City - 153 points
2/20: Dallas @ New Orleans
4+5+2+2+6+7+8+5+2+4+6+7+5+2+6+7+5+0 = 83
2/22: Denver @ Chicago
4+8+3+3+5+7+7+8+1+5+7+1+5+0+0+6+0+0 = 70

5. Sugar Creek - 145 points
2/20: New York @ Philadelphia
4+5+9+2+2+7+7+3+3+5+7+0+5+0+0+7+3+1 = 70
2/22: Houston @ New Orleans
4+9+4+3+1+6+7+6+9+4+0+0+1+8+2+5+6+0 = 75

6. Montgomery County - 143 points
2/20: Orlando @ Toronto
4+5+2+3+2+1+7+8+1+5+8+8+5+5+0+8+8+0 = 80
2/22: Philadelphia @ Orlando
4+5+6+2+3+1+7+5+0+5+1+2+4+5+5+8+0+0 = 63

7. Hoth - 141 points
2/20: Memphis @ LA Clippers
3+6+4+3+0+0+7+5+0+4+5+0+5+0+0+7+5+9 = 63
2/22: Portland @ Seattle
3+7+2+2+2+2+8+3+3+4+6+2+6+2+5+7+8+6 = 78

2008 Draft Lottery method:

To come up with a "game sum" for the randomly assigned NBA games, you add together the individual digits of the six shooting percentage totals for the game.

Let's say the percentages for a sample game were as follows:

Team #1 Field Goal Pct: .423
Team #1 Point Field Goal Pct: .250
Team #1 Free Throw Pct: .734
Team #2 Field Goal Pct: .430
Team #2 3 Point Field Goal Pct: .290
Team #2 Free Throw Pct: .808

In this case, the sample game shooting would yield the following sum:

4+2+3+2+5+0+7+3+4+4+3+0+2+9+0+8+0+8 = 64

The team who was assigned this game would get 64 points, generated from the sum of 18 randomly occurring numbers at this public event.

To determine the lottery winner you add up the game sums of the two games each team was randomly assigned and the team with the highest combined total gets the overall #1 pick. The tam with the second-highest total picks 2nd, on down to the 7th highest total who selects in the #7 position. This draft order holds true for each round of the 2008 Draft.

The tie-breaker is the team having the game with the best 3-point percentage by any team in either of the two games. If still tied, we use free throw percentage and then overall field goal percentage.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The state of the Iron Division: The Southtown Misers

When Henry Vance took over the Syracuse franchise four years ago, the team was in complete shambles: there were no good players, young or veteran, not much in terms of draft picks, and virtually no money in the bank. Since then, Henry has led his Southtown Misers to two playoff berths, including one this year - narrowly squeaking by thanks to the undeniable virtues of home cooked meals.

Now, it’s back to square one. Well, not exactly. At least the roster has a few interesting trading chips that the Misers can turn into valuable commodities for the future. The rebuilding process is already underway in Southtown, with Roy Halladay having been sent to Meridian (who in turn shipped him to Plainsfield). For a first draft pick and a promising slugger. More trades are sure to follow in the next few weeks.

The present

On offense

The core players here are Victor Martinez, one of the better catchers (offensively at least - .892 OPS) in Brass, 2Bman Ian Kinsler (.796 OPS), 3Bman Troy Glaus (.839), the ageless ex-Expo Moises Alou (.916 OPS, although in only 355 plates appearances), and probably the most valuable player of all the current Misers, Placido Polanco, with a .341/.388/.458 to go along with a mind-boggling 2e0 rating at second base. Ryan Church also brings something to the table with an .813 OPS, .866 against right-handed pitchers. Finally, Scott Hairston will be useful with his .801 OPS versus RHP (although his. 689 OPS vs lefties is weak).

Unfortunately, two key and expensive players had horrible 2007 seasons: Andrew Jones (.726 OPS) and Vernon Wells (.706), although they redeem themselves a little with their Gold Glove caliber defense.

The pitching

Basically, it comes down to Joe Blanton and Noah Lowry on the starting front, and Juan Cruz and Manny Delcarmen in the pen. That’s it. However, all but Cruz are still on Y-contracts.

The future

The future of the Misers will all depend of the return they get from their upcoming trades. The core of tradable players may just bring in enough future talent to make the rebuilding process a successful one. In addition, Stephen Drew is still a promising middle infielder, and Felipe Lopez, disappointing the last two years after an All-Star season with the Reds, is still young and could return to form, especially now that he doesn’t have to play such a demanding position as shortstop anymore.
Finally, the team has at least three promising youngsters in Scott Elbert, Angel Villalona, acquired in the Halladay trade, and Eric Hurley, even if they are a few years away.


This is an area where the franchise needs to improve dramatically. Financially, the team only has $621, 176 in the bank, and, now with the trade of Halladay, $21, 595, 332 committed next year, including the “bad” contracts (things happen) to Randy Johnson $3.5M), Sidney Ponson ($2.05M), and Cliff Politte ($1.55M).
Moreover, the Misers have traded most of their early picks in an attempt to field competitive teams the last two years: their #1, 2, 4, 5 in 2008, and their #2, 3 in 2009. They did get Meridians’s 2008 #1 pick in the aforementioned trade.

In conclusion, all is not lost for Southtown, but Henry will have to be shrewd with his next moves, both personnel-wise and money-wise.

Rally Killer!

Well, I've read Vaughn's two recent posts and, unfortunately, both apply to me...

First, it's nice to get some kudos for making the playoffs but I really only made a couple of moves. The core of the Phoenix (Ryan Howard, Carlos Guillen, Carlos Lee, Brandon Webb) were here when I arrived. I did add a couple of pieces to the team on the field now, but I certainly didn't build the entire franchise.

Next step, ruin the franchise...

After the modest success to this point of the season, I managed to cripple the franchise by racking up millions in fines by mismanaging player usage. I did get the "benefit", I guess, of squeezing a few more innings out of Danys Baez. Danys Baez? Why did he get any use at all, let alone excessive use? Dumb. And, lesson learned...I hope...

So, after knowing at the end of January that I had made a mistake with Baez, I went ahead and allowed a couple of other players to get overused as well. If I recall correctly, I managed to drop $6 million on absolutely nothing. $6 million, I might add, from a bank account that was below the poverty line to begin with.

Now that the regular season is over, we'll if Vaughn's kind words hit home. Am I really a quality owner capable of building a contender? Or am I, as this season's moves might suggest, simply a world class Rally Killer...

How's the view from the top, guys?

I wanted to take a moment to congratulate Dave Berks (East Lyme), Mike Swanson (Duluth-Superior), Bob Lord (Green Bay), Robert Smith (Great Kills), Jason South (Phoenix) and Henry Vance (Southtown) for showing us all how to climb from the valleys to the mountaintop.

Any of these six teams will be my sentimental favorite to take the 18th BRASS crown this year and bring the coveted Old BRASS Bucket back to their respective homes. Why? All of these gentlemen are keeping the league strong and competitive by doing just what we hoped when we welcomed them into our enterprise: working to build a competitive franchise.

For those of you who have recently joined BRASS and are building your own squads in your image, new colleagues like Kai Neizman, Dave Silverberg, Sean Crawford, Rob Hamilton, Dave Dick and whomever is lucky enough to become our 24th owner, do yourself a favor and contact one of these guys and ask them how they did it because they are each very good at it!

How good?

Let's take a look...

Dave Berks inherited a team that averaged 107 losses per season in the two years before he took over. The squad continued to struggle on the field as Dave was building, losing an average of 103 per season in the first two years Dave had the team. This year? A fifty game improvement and the first division title in five years for the franchise!

Mike Swanson's squad averaged 98 losses for the three seasons prior to his acceptance into BRASS and the squad he inherited struggled even more during his first two seasons at the helm. As Mike tried to dig out of the mess, he had two seasons in a row where he lost 119 games and then 120. Ouch! But then Mike authored a 69 game turnaround last season and a division title. He followed up his 112-win season last year with a 106-win season and a repeat division crown.

Bob Lord inherited the one franchise in BRASS that had not been in the post-season in its history. Bob inherited a squad that posted a 104-loss season the year before he joined and as he tried to deal with the mess, posted another 104-loss campaign in his first year. Bob improved the record to 69 wins the next season, then 71 wins before breaking through this season with a division title, a franchise record 93 wins and the first post-season berth in the history of the franchise.

Robert Smith took over a team in mid-season that had bottomed out and had gone through 3 owners already in that year. Robert guided the squad in that season to a 68-94 record and then paid a 111-loss price for the ownership chaos the next season, his first full season, as he was rebuilding. Robert vaulted from the 111-loss season to the playoffs this year with a 37-game improvement. The playoff berth Robert engineered was the first in ten seasons for the squad.

Jason South took over a franchise that hadn't made the post-season in 15 seasons, when they were a division winner with a modest .500 record. This was the only post-season appearance for the franchise in its history. The five seasons prior to Jason's tenure this year were especially bad. The squad averaged 97 losses per season for the five years prior to Jason arriving on the scene. In just one season, the team landed itself in the playoffs, breaking the fifteen season drought!

Henry Vance's team, like Mike Swanson's actually broke through last season and is building on its success. Henry broke a fourteen season playoff drought last year and surfaced the franchise from years of losing with an incredible 75-game improvement from 2005-06 to 2006-07. In the eight seasons prior to last year's breakthrough, the franchise averaged a miserable 103 losses per year. Now, they are back in the post-season for consecutive years for the first time in 15 years!

Each of these gentleman has showed us all exactly how it is done and I salute them. We've had some struggling franchises in BRASS history and it is very clear that some of the league's least-heard-from franchises are now in great hands. BRASS is as strong as it has ever been, thanks in part to a great influx of high caliber new owners in the 2003-06 era.

Of course winning seasons and playoff berths are not the only want to measure how good an owner you are. Not by a long shot. But it sure helps make the experience more fun, eh guys!?

Thanks for being an inspiration to all and here's hoping Dave S. and Dave D. and Sean and Rob and Kai all have similar success when they finish putting their own personal stamps on their own inherited franchises!

Proposal for Changing Overusage Penalties

by Vaughn Nuest

I will be proposing that we make some modifications to the player overusage penalty system this off-season. I believe our system carried too heavy a fine for the cases of modest overuse of medicore players and is about right for the gross, negligent (intentional?) overuse of players by dozens of PA or IP.

I will propose that we continue to fine the gross overuse at a rate that is consistent with the BRASS tradition in order to preserve the disincentive we now employ to discourage this practice. We want to continue to make it unattractive for someone to pay a small fine for overusing players by say 100 PA each in order to avoid the costs of assembling enough players to fill their full roster of needs.

My proposal will focus on the smaller-scale overuse and adjusting those fines so that the penalty more closely fits the relatively small rules infraction.

I'd preserve the 10 PA and 5 IP usage buffer, designed to cover us from unexpected events or small calculation errors. After these buffers, the responsibility is all on us, as it should be.

I'll be proposing a graduated, increasing scale that fines overuse as follows:

Position Players:
11-15 PA over the limit: $500,000
16-20 PA over the limit: $1,000,000
21-25 PA over the limit: $1,500,000
26-30 PA over the limit: $2,000,000
31+ PA over the limt: $2,500,000

6-9 IP over the limit: $500,000
10-12 IP over the limit: $1,000,000
13-15 IP over the limit: $1,500,000
16-18 IP over the limit: $2,000,000
19+ IP over the limit: $2,500,000

Here are some examples of how this year's overuse fines would have been affected with this new system. As you can see, the graduated scale preserves traditional penalties for gross overuse and adjusts downward the penalties for small-scale overuse to where they are about half or one fourth of the old amounts. The message here is that small scale mis-steps now are met with small scale penalties. Large-scale overuse is not encouraged by reducing the fine for it. Those fines are preserved.

Belfast: Currently fined $12,000,000, would be penalized $12,500,000 mostly because overusage was extreme.

East Lyme: Currently fined $2,000,000, would be penalized $1,000,000 under the proposed change.

Hoth: Currently fined $2,000,000, would be penalized $500,000 under proposed change.

I would leave untouched the text in the constitution that provides for replays for overuse of star players in order to gain post-season advantage. We still need to have a provision that allows us to overturn any intentional strategy to overuse say a Barry Bonds style card by 100 or 150 PA and just accept the fine. The fine should still be assessed and the damage of the unscrupulous overuse should be undone so no benefit is ever gained.I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on these ideas.

Thanks! Vaughn

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sugar Creek Looks Ahead

It's great to be able to look back at the long history of BRASS and see how franchises have fared through the years. Unfortunately, management of Sugar Creek (a franchise that has gone through seven other reincarnations during its 17 season BRASS tenure) has little fondness for the past. Only a pair of wild card berths, the last one in 2001, are the extent of post season experience for the team. This recently completed campaign was the sixth straight losing record.

New Name, Same Result: GM Sean Crawford took over the Washington Senators in early 2007 and renamed the team. He relocated to an area in central Illinois known as Sugar Creek, site of an early pioneer settlement. He chose the name Settlers because, like those who came before to the region, he also faced long odds and few resources. The team was low on cash yet also lacked a lot of big impact players. Previous ownership had done a good job scouting, with players like Melky Cabrera, Robinson Cano, Phillip Hughes and Cameron Maybin. Crawford decided it would be best to keep the young nucleus and weather the financial storm, signing cheaper veteran help.

Going Forward: Some of the free agent signees (Shawn Green, So Taguchi, Mike Timlin, Kyle Lohse and others) should do more than fill the roster when the 2008 season gets underway. At this point, only one player, Mark Buerhle, is signed beyond the upcoming year. That should allow for more flexibility as the team moves along. Buerhle, Aaron Cook, Derek Lowe, Phillip Hughes, Kyle Lohse and Jon Lester figure in the rotation as of now. Matt Belisle and Steve Trachsel could also make an appearance. An improved bullpen led by Scott Downs and Matt Guerrier should also put up better numbers.
On offense, Carlos Delgado is in the final year of his deal and while he still provides some pop, it remains to be seen if his best days are behind him. With a hefty contract and lackluster numbers, it's likely he'll remain a Settler in the coming year. Cano will handle 2b, Iwamura 3b and Alex Gonzalez at SS, although he's a free agent. Esteban German will also get some playing time on the infield.
Outfielders are set with Mike Cameron in CF, Melky Cabrera in LF and Shawn Green in RF. So Taguchi and Cliff Floyd will also see action.
The backstops are Gerald Laird and Bengie Molina. Laird is stronger on defense, but Molina adds more at the plate.

Outlook: In a strong division led by perennial power Diamond, Sugar Creek won't contend for the title. But it's possible with some solid moves in the draft, free agency and a trade or two that the Settlers could hang around the race for a wild card. The goal of course, keep moving in a positive direction and give long suffering fans of this franchise something to cheer about!

Cream City Outlook for 2008-09

Having won their first BRASS League title in 2006-07 with a convincing 4 game to 1 series victory over the game Andover Cougars, the Cream City Pirates management team took one look at the team and realized the $2,000,000 in the bank (after salary payment) would not fill the numerous holes on the roster. The holes were caused by injuries to key players like Hideki Matsui and Mike Matheny along with some departures. With little money remaining to pay for replacements, and to fill in a few other areas, the Pirates decided to try an accelerated rebuild. The plan was to contend again after suffering through a one-year hiatus. The plan has largely succeeded.

As of this article (and including the February 26 infusion of cash into Pirate coffers) the bank account now stands at $29,002,030. Most impressive about this number is that every position is filled on the team and this total is accurate AFTER all salaries are paid for the coming year. The Pirates are building for the long-term. It is the goal of management to be on par with those exemplary Diamond Gem and Plainsfield Hitmen franchises, each of which has won 14 division titles. In the Pirates short time, they have managed to win three division titles and one BRASS championship. They want to take the next step.

Pitching Staff -Rotation
The Pirates have put together a young and talented pitching staff that was augmented recently by the acquisition of A.J. Burnett. The oft-injured Burnett had ace-quality numbers this past year in 165 innings of work. His salary of $3,450,000 was the only instance in which Pirate management succumbed to bringing in a player somewhat overpriced. He's overpriced because of his propensity for injury, but if he stays healthy, a big “if”, he will be a more than adequate top of the rotation stalwart.

The number two through four starters are Rich Hill, Ian Snell and Jeff Francis. Hill had a spectacular first full season in the majors. His WHIP was a microscopic 1.19 and he held opposing hitters to a .235 BA. With a year of experience under his belt, he might make a run at 200 strikeouts.

Snell's sophomore year was also a success. He had an excellent 2.7/1 strikeout-walk ratio and looks ready to take the next step toward elite pitcher status.

Meanwhile, despite pitching in Colorado, Francis took another step toward becoming listed with the top pitchers in the game. His strikeout-walk ration was only slightly less than Snell's, and his ERA was actually lower at home than on the road. I know that ERA is an overblown stat, especially for Strat fans, but it is still indicative of a pitcher not afraid of the Coors Field effect.

The number five spot in the rotation is held by the erratic, but still promising Daniel Cabrera. Pirates management hopes that like Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson's, all who were just a bit wild early in their careers, Cabrera will harness his talent. He could become the ace of the group.

Rounding out the rotation is spot starter, Joe Saunders. This coming year is important for Saunders. With the unfortunate injury to Kelvim Escobar, Saunders is being thrust into the rotation. We shall see.

On a final note regarding the Pirates rotation ... did I mention that other than Burnett, none of the others is more than 28 years old, and future salary considerations have already been built in. They're going to be around for awhile.

Pitching Staff – Bullpen
Heading the Pirates' bullpen this is primary closer Jose Valverde. He compiled a 1.12 WHIP last year. However, the load of closing is not primarily on his shoulders. He'll be ably backed up by hard-throwing lefty, Billy Wagner, and death-on-lefties righty, Jeremy Accardo. The setup men are impressive, too. Russ Springer and Justin Speier both bring nastiness to their encounters with right-handed batters, while Reynel Pinto will bring it with an attitude versus lefties. Kyle Farnsworth provides junk innings and mop-up.

1st Base: One of the Pirates most recent acquisitions came at the cost of yielding young star outfielder, Chris Young. However, given that the Pirates outfield is loaded, sending away Young in exchange for slugging first baseman Mark Teixeira was a no-brainer. And given the Pirates tradition of stellar defense, Teixeira's gold-glove caliber fielding fits in nicely. He's priced reasonably for another three years at $2,333,333 per year. Aubrey Huff will back up Teixeira.

2nd Base: Brian Roberts returns to reprise his role at second base. He brings a near .300 batting average, high OBA and 50 steals in addition to excellent defense as evidenced by the 2e8 rating he received from Strat. He will be the primary lead off hitter for the Pirates.

Shortstop: JJ Hardy came into his own last year. Probably occupying the number 8 spot in the Pirates' lineup (yeah it's that good), Hardy brings 26 home runs and a low strikeout rate in addition to his 2e14 excellent shortstop rating. Shortstop and second base are high on the X-result list for chances and the Pirates are fortunate to be strong in the middle infield.

3rd Base: Brandon Inge and Aubrey Huff are slated to split third base duty this year ... Inge facing lefties and Huff the rest. Inge's defense (2e20) will see him coming in to replace Huff near the end of games. The two of them banged nearly 30 home runs last year. Any sort of production close to that will be fine.

Catcher: Johnny Estrada holds down the catching position, but Pirates management would be remiss if it wasn't said that some improvement is bing looked at, possibly in free agency. Estrada's +2 arm is not satisfactory, not is his plodding speed and low OBA. He was not one of our better acquisitions, especially now that he is a backup for the Mets, thereby not justifying his $1.6M salary with the Pirates. A backup catcher also needs to be found.

Outfield: Here is where the young Pirates shine. BJ Upton (.300 BA 20-20 man), Jeremy Hermida (second half .339 BA), Corey Hart (.295 BA, 33-9-24 and 20+ steals) and recently acquired Shane Victorino (1e5[-3] RF defense and 37 steals) bring combinations of youth, power and speed to the outfield positions. And, Aaron Rowand (.300+ BA, 45-0-27 and 1e2[0] defense) brings stability along with stellar defense in center field.

Pirates' management is very excited about the future of the franchise. With the bank account stabilized and salary extensions accounted for the next 4-5 years, this team could see, with some luck, a couple more championship banners joining the one earned last year.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The state of the Iron Division: The Dayton Dragons

The present

When I joined BRASS six years ago, Meridian and Dayton were, and would be for the subsequent three years, in a constant battle for Iron Division supremacy, putting together several 100+ win seasons between them.

Now, like Meridian, the Dragons have been in rebuilding mode for the last few years. But it looks as though the rivalry of a few years ago is about to be rekindled.

Like the Trojans, Dayton has a few promising or established young players, and a couple of budding superstars. In the first category, Montrealer Russ Martin is already one of the best catchers in MLB, even adding speed to his well-rounded set of skills. Justin Verlander ranks among the better pitchers in the major, and will only get better with time. Jeff Francoeur is solid in right field and could become a perennial 30-HR hitter, and Edwin Encarnacion is solid at the hot corner and should improve over the next few years. Plus, Zach Greinke seems to have rebounded from his off-the-fields problems.

Dontrelle Willis had a subpar 2007, but he is too talented not to rebound at least some, and Mike Pelfrey, acquired from Montreal in the John Smoltz trade, is a highly touted right-handed starting pitcher, as is Andrew Miller from the left side. Add to this the upcoming superstars Jay Bruce and Evan Longoria, and solid prospects like Ian Stewart and Jeff Niemann and you have the makings of a very good team for a long time.

In addition to all the talent, Dayton has a solid bank account of $19, 442, 523, and has wisely kept all of its picks (except its 2008 third rounder) for the next two years, while adding Montreal’s 2008 second and fifth round picks.

Aside from the bright future, to me one of the most impressive things about Dayton is that, despite the rebuilding, they have managed to field very competitive teams the last two or three years. And next year should be no exception.

Looking at 2008-09

The pitching

Other than Willis and Verlander, no starting pitcher really stands out on the Dragon’s current roster, except maybe for Greinke (3.29, 1.29 WHIP in 122 IPs). Paul Maholm pitched 177 innings, but had a WHIP of 1.42. He can gets lefties out, though, as shown by his .630 OPS against versus LHB. So either the draft, or free agency and trades, will have to help here..

The bullpen has a couple of nice pieces with Brad Lidge (67 IPs, 3.36 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 19 saves), Scott Linebrink (70 IPs/3.71/1.32). Todd Jones had 38 saves, which should give him a nice closer rating, but had a 4.26 ERA and 1.41 WHIP. JC Romero had a poor WHIP (1.40), mostly due to his giving up 40 bases on balls in 56 innings, but his OPS vs LHB and RHB is solid (.645 and .677, respectively).

Position players

There is a nice nucleus here with Martin behind the plate (.843 OPS and 21 steals in 30 attempts), Francoeur (.782 and Gold Glove defense, not to mention a cannon for an arm), Encarnacion (.794 OPS), Jeff Kent (.875 OPS), Frank Thomas (.277/.377/.480), and the stellar defense of shortstop Adam Everett. Melvin Mora is still capable at 3b with a 3e14 rating and a .762 OPS.

There are some very nice platoon players on the roster, too. Scott Spiezio had an .832 OPS versus lefties, while Reed Johnson managed an outstanding .913 against southpaws. On defense, Speizio also qualifies at very infield position except shortstop, as well as in the outfield, and Johnson is more than solid in the outfield with ratings of lf-2(-1)e1, rf-3e1, and cf-3e1. Jay Payton can be useful versus LHP (.285/.353/.423), while Daryle Ward will have a monster card against RHP (.333/.439/.539), although his playing time will be limited (133 PAs).

Then, there are Brady Clark whose .OPS versus LHP was .822, including a .386 OBP, and Lew Ford (.256/.347/.419 vs LHP, and good defense - lf-2(-1)e5, cf-3e5, and rf-3e5).

Finally, Mike Scutaro and Jason Smith are versatile utility players, although their bats are a little weak, especially in Smith’s case, and Mike Piazza will be an adequate backup for Martin.

In conclusion, while the Dragons are not yet ready for prime time, they should be formidable opponents to their divisional rivals, especially Meridian, in a very short period of time.

Projected lineup for now

C Martin/Piazza
1B Ward/Spiezio
2B Kent
3B Mora/Encarnacion
SS Everett
OF Johnson
OF Francoeur
OF Clark
OF Payton
OF Ford
DH Thomas
SP Verlander
SP Willis
SP Maholm
RP Lidge
RP Linebrink
RP Jones
RP Romero
RP Gobble