Thursday, December 10, 2009

Goldens Spot Pirates 9-Run Lead and Complete Comeback with Slam in Bottom of the 9th

The Sierra Nevada Goldens’ fans left Great American Ballpark in a raucous frenzy as they witnessed the greatest comeback of the Goldens’ season to date. After 4 ½ innings of play, the Goldens were waving the white flag as the red-hot Cream City Pirates jumped out to a 9-0 lead. Sierra’s Kyle Kendrick was completely ineffective giving up 8 hits, including 2 HR’s and 7 earned runs in only 1 1/3 innings of work. In the 2nd Inning, Kendrick gave up a 3-run bomb to B.J. Upton & a 2-run shot to All-Star hopeful Mark Teixeira leading the way to a 6-run inning, extending the early lead to 7-0. The Goldens’ Matt Albers held his own giving up 2 runs over 4 innings, but things looked hopeless as the Goldens came to bat in the bottom of the 5th staring at a monstrous 9-run deficit.

With 1-out in the bottom of the 5th, first baseman Jason Giambi ripped a single off Pirates starter Daniel Cabrera who had thrown up a string of zeros for the first 4 innings. Staring at an enormous mountain to climb, the Goldens’ manager elected to remove defensive shortstop Jack Wilson in an effort to offer some much needed rest for the duration of the blowout. The decision seemed to ignite the Goldens’ bench as switch-hitting replacement Aaron Miles stepped to the plate and laced another single to right moving Giambi to second base. The next batter was back-up catcher David Ross who was giving star catcher Yadier Molina a day off. Ross seized the moment and smashed a 3-run dinger, cutting the lead to 9-3. Adam Dunn and Jody Gerut promptly grounded out to end the inning, but the home town players seemed to gain a bounce in their steps.

While the Goldens’ bullpen went to work holding the Pirates scoreless in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings, the Sierra Nevada bats continued to heat up. Dan Uggla blasted a solo shot in the 6th, cutting the lead to 9-4. In the bottom of the 7th, consecutive 2-out singles by Adam Dunn, Jody Gerut, & Jermaine Dye plated another run off starter Daniel Cabrera giving way to reliever Russ Springer. With two runners on and now trailing 9-5, star second baseman Dan Uggla hit his 2nd homerun in as many innings (his 28th of the season), this time a 3-run cruise missile cutting the lead to 9-8!

The Goldens nearly tied the game at nine in the bottom of the 8th as Mike Lowell and Jason Giambi reached base to start the inning, however Miles, Ross, & Dunn stranded the tying run at 3rd base. After 2 shut-out innings of work from Sierra’s Heath Bell, Adrian Beltre seemed to deliver the death blow with a solo shot to lead off the 9th. Bell held the Pirates to the solo run and sent his team to bat with one last chance to complete the comeback staring at a 10-8 deficit.

After squashing the Goldens’ rally in the bottom of the 8th, the Pirates’ Yasuhiko Yabuta came out to start the 9th. Sierra’s Jody Gerut wasted no time as he smoked his 7th homer of the season and the stadium went crazy as the Goldens were once again within a run of catching the mighty Pirates! With the heart of the Goldens’ order due up, the stage was set for an amazing finish. Team MVP Jermaine Dye greeted Pirates closer Jose Valverde rudely as he ripped a double into the left field gap putting the tying run in scoring position. After homering in his previous 2 at-bats Dan Uggla worked a walk. The next batter, left fielder David Murphy was unable to move the runners over as he struck out. Next, the Sierra manager brought Yadier Molina off the bench to pinch hit and sure enough he singled to left fielder Upton. With Giambi on deck, the 3rd base coach elected to hold Dye at 3rd rather than test Upton’s strong arm. With the bases juiced and Giambi looking for his 24th homer of the season, Valverde toughened up and got him to line out causing no damage. With 2-out and the Goldens looking at the prospect of stranding the tying run at 3rd for the 2nd consecutive inning, Aaron Miles came to the plate with his chance to shine. Ironically, he was the one who entered the game for Wilson in the 5th when the game seemed completely of reach and most had all but given up hope. Miles was up to the task and Valverde challenged him with a heater down the heart of the plate, daring him to catch up to his 97 MPH gas. Miles delivered a mighty swing and sent the fastball soaring into the right field bleachers giving him a GRAND SLAM and his 1st tater of the season!!! Miles was mobbed at home plate and the fans were delirious in celebration of the Goldens’ 13-10 shocker of a win lifting their record to 60-35 overall and 37-12 at home. Heath Bell got credit for the win providing 3 solid innings to close out the game while Uggla and Miles accounted for 8 RBI’s in the final 3 innings while Dye got the other. It sure seems that the Goldens may quite possibly be a team of destiny this season as no game is ever out of reach.

Pirates......... 1 6 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 - 10 15 0
Goldens......... 0 0 0 0 3 1 4 0 5 - 13 16 0

ATTENDANCE- 48,475 DATE- Tuesday, July 15th 2090 TIME- Night WEATHER- Good
UMPIRES- Scott Higgins, Kerwin Danley, Angel Hernandez, Andrew Fletcher
T- 3:55
LEFT ON BASE- Pirates: 6 Goldens: 5
DOUBLE PLAYS- Pirates: 0 Goldens: 0
DOUBLES- B.Upton(22nd), B.Roberts(22nd), M.Teixeira(21st), J.Dye(24th)
HOME RUNS- B.Upton(4th), M.Teixeira(20th), A.Beltre(4th), S.Victorino(9th), J.Gerut(7th), D.Uggla-2(28th), A.Miles(1st), D.Ross(6th)
STOLEN BASES- B.Roberts(18th), D.Roberts(2nd)
WALKS- M.Teixeira, T.Hunter, D.Uggla
STRIKE OUTS- B.Upton, A.Huff, J.Hardy, S.Victorino-2, A.Pierzynski, D.Murphy, J.Giambi

Monday, November 30, 2009

Walk-Off by Adam Dunn in the Bottom of the 9th Stuns Gems and Preserves Series Win for Goldens!

Adam Dunn proved to be the hero in the rubber match of the Diamond Gems annual visit to the Great American Ballpark of the Sierra Nevada Goldens. Dunn completely spoiled the sensational start of Adam Wainright in one thunderous crack of the bat. The home fans went into a frenzy as Dunn lofted a LONG blast into the night air as the ball splashed into the Ohio River once again off the bat of Adam Dunn. This time it was after a heated pitchers duel between the Gems' Adam Wainright and the Goldens' Mark Buehrle in a potential World Series match-up.

The Gems, a Platinum Division leading (40-16) entering the series squared off against the hosting Sierra Nevada Goldens with a Copper Division leading (44-19) record. The defending BRASS champion Gems showed who was boss in the first game of the series in a blowout of the Goldens defeating the staff ace Josh Beckett. He was lit up spoiling his early (9-1) record in a blowout 13-4 loss. Uncharacteristically, Beckett was scorched like never before this season as he gave up 7 earned runs in 5 2/3 innings giving up 6 walks. The Diamond’s John Danks was up to the task earning the win bringing his record to (8-2) while pitching a strong 7 innings with the run support of star 3rd basemen Alex Rodriguez who broke open the game in the 6th with a 1-run double and finished the game off with a 2-run bomb in the 9th.

The 2nd game of the series featured a pitchers duel between the Gems’ Ervin Santana who was (10-1) entering the game against the Goldens staff work –horse, Gil Meche, who entered the game with a respectable (7-4) record. Each starter gave up five hits in a solid 7 innings of work, but the damage was done n the bottom of the 3rd as the Goldens’ Josh Anderson and Dan Uggla launched back-to-back jacks en route to a Goldens 3-1 victory. Brian Fuentes finished off the game with his 18th save in 1 1/3 innings of work.

In the finale, the Gems’ Adam Wainright went toe-to-toe with the Goldens’ Mark Buehrle. Today, Wainright stole the show allowing only 1 hit in 7 innings of baseball. He allowed 2 walks and struck out 5, and allowed only one hit as the Goldens’ squad was held scoreless through his 7 innings of work. The Gems staked Wainright to a 1-0 lead in the top of the 5th as Franklin Gutierrez singled in Geovani Soto for the 1st run of the game. The game got dicey for Wainright in the rubber match of the series as he beaned Mike Lowell with 2-out in the 6th. On the next pitch, Jason Giambi doubled off the wall, but the Goldens’ 3rd base coach elected to hold Lowell at 3rd. Wainright’s manager Vaughn Nuest then decided next to intentionally walk CF Josh Anderson to load the bases for slugger Dan Uggla who whiffed after hitting the game winner the day before. Wainright and Vaughn were out of the jam.

Giambi’s double proved to be the only Goldens hit of the night until there were 2 quick outs in the 9th. The Gems’ J.J. Putz came in to save the game for Adam Wainright and quickly struck out the Goldens’ Jason Giambi and Josh Anderson on 6 pitches. After mustering only 1 hit all day, the Goldens got the glimmer of hope they were looking for with 2 down in the 9th. Putz glared in at the Goldens’ Dan Uggla who is among the league leaders in home runs with 22 and plunked him right in the ribs. Uggla refused to even acknowledge any pain and ran to first as big Adam Dunn entered the batters box with the game on the line. On the first pitch, Adam Dunn launched a missile into the Ohio River giving the Goldens the rubber-match victory on only their 2nd hit of the night in a 2-1 walk-off win. The entire Goldens team bounced around home plate as the Goldens improved their record to (46-20) as they won another series.

While Wainright allowed only 1-hit in 7 innings, the Goldens’ Mark Buehrle manned up and pitched 8 1/3 while giving up only 1 run and striking out 7 Gems. Carlos Marmol (7-1) pitched 2/3 IP for the win in support of Dunn’s dramatics. Adam Dunn now has 26 HR’s on the season with 52 RBI’s in 76 games, on pace for 54 HR’s this season, a serious candidate for at least an All-Star bid and possibly MVP. Tonight the thunderous bat of Adam Dunn preserved the win for the Goldens, and we will have to wait till October to see if he can bring a BRASS World Series crown to Sierra Nevada.

Gems............ 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 - 1 6 1
Goldens......... 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 - 2 2 0

A.Wainwright 7 1 0 0 2 5 0 93 4.93 A1 C6
B.Ziegler HOLD(8th) 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 11 2.05 C7 C9
J.Putz LOSS(0-1) BS(1st) 0 2/3 1 2 2 0 2 1 12 2.45 D1
[1]Totals 8 2/3 2 2 2 2 7 1

M.Buehrle 8 1/3 6 1 1 0 7 0 113 3.89 A1 D2
C.Marmol WIN(7-1) 0 2/3 0 0 0 1 1 0 11 2.32 D3
Totals 9 6 1 1 1 8 0

ATTENDANCE- 16,934 DATE- Wednesday, June 11th 2090 TIME- Day WEATHER- Bad
UMPIRES- Mark Hirschbeck, Wally Bell, Brian O'Nora, Dan Iassogna
T- 2:12
LEFT ON BASE- Gems: 4 Goldens: 3
DOUBLE PLAYS- Gems: 2 Goldens: 0
ERRORS- H.Ramirez
DOUBLES- J.Giambi(18th)
HOME RUNS- A.Dunn(25th)
STOLEN BASES- H.Ramirez(24th)
CAUGHT STEALING- A.Rodriguez, F.Gutierrez
WALKS- M.Reynolds, J.Anderson, A.Dunn
HIT BY PITCH- D.Uggla, M.Lowell
STRIKE OUTS- I.Suzuki, H.Ramirez-2, A.Soriano-2, M.Reynolds-2, P.Fielder,
J.Giambi-2, J.Anderson-2, D.Uggla-2, A.DunnGIDP- D.Murphy, M.Lowell

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sierra Nevada Goldens Jump Out to Quick Start; Make Deal to Solidify Rotation

The Sierra Nevada Goldens have experienced a very promising start to the 2090 BRASS season, as they have their best record at any time during their young 1+ year franchise history. They finished the May Schedule 22 Games over .500 with a 39-17 record having held at least a tie for 1st place since April 15th and currently have a 5 game edge over the rival SoCal Knights. The hometown fans have been treated to exciting games at home while watching their club win 75% of their games at Great American Ballpark, good enough for a tie with Meridian Trojans for the 2nd best home record in the BRASS league behind the Plainsfield Hitmen. The long ball has been the name of the game for the Goldens as balls have been dumping into the Ohio River off the bat of early Silver League MVP candidate, Adam Dunn, who has 19 dingers trailing only Washington Crossing’s Ryan Braun who has 21 of his own in the early going. The Goldens home run total thus far is staggering as they have already launched 101 bombs, which are 18 more than the Meridian Trojans! The home park obviously has a lot to do with this as they have hit 66 homers at home and 35 on the road, but opposing teams have not taken advantage of the long ball at Great American as they have only hit 28 homers on the Goldens’ field. Dunn surely hasn’t been alone hitting bombs in the early going as Goldens players make up 3 of the top 5 league leaders in TOTAVG. Dan Uggla has jumped out of the gate 3rd in the league with a 1.177 TOTAVG followed by Dunn at 1.164, & Jason Giambi at 1.090. The Goldens have 4 players with double figure home run totals with Dunn at 19, Uggla with 15, Giambi with 13, & Jermaine Dye with 12. Dye is also 9th in BRASS with 121 total bases.

To compliment the power surge, the Goldens’ high-priced top of the rotation has been doing its job as well. Leading Silver League Cy Young candidate Josh Beckett has been dazzling with an 8-0 record in 11 starts with a 3.71 ERA. He’s been devastating to opponents striking out 73 and walking only 18 batters in 77 innings. Gil Meche is 7-3 with a 3.43 ERA as the staff workhorse, and Mark Buehrle is 9-2 with a 4.11 ERA. It will be interesting to see if these 3 starters can keep up the torrid pace and win 20 games apiece and try to keep their ERA’s under 4.00. Relief pitching has been solid as well with Brian Fuentes closing the door at the end of games having saved 14 contests in 15 opportunities with a 1.27 ERA, while Carlos Marmol has been keeping the 8th under control with a 5-1 record, 2.66 ERA, while picking up 4 saves of his own. Management has been pleasantly surprised with a staff ERA of 3.88 thus far.

While the Goldens have got off to a great start, the competition in the Silver League is fierce and the schedule should keep getting tougher as we enter the dog days. Five other teams in the Silver have a winning percentage of .607 or better and only 5 games separate the Silver League leader and missing the wild card altogether! Some areas of concern for the Goldens after the first two months are the team’s overall defense, the lack of a true lead-off hitter who can steal bases and maintain a high OBP, depth in center field, and the #4 & #5 starters. It would be nice if the Goldens could improve the platoon situation at shortstop of Edgar Renteria & Jack Wilson with a true everyday leadoff man, but the current state is tolerable. Left field is also a platoon with Jose Guillen, David Murphy, & Conor Jackson, but it is going to be hard to move either Guillen or Jackson due to poor performances in MLB 2009. The key to the team’s defense to this point has been All-Star candidate Yadier Molina behind the plate. With cat-like reflexes and cannon for an arm behind the plate opponents have stolen only 9 bases in 14 attempts! With the help of Buehrle, Meche, and Beckett holding on runners, the Goldens have been able to keep big innings by opponents to a minimum and have kept the double play ball in tact snuffing out rallies.

Following the month of May, the Goldens addressed the #4 starting pitcher slot and CF depth as a deal was consummated with the league leading Plainsfield Hitmen. The Goldens traded utility infielder Ramon Santiago, middle reliever Chad Bradford, and starting pitcher Scott Feldman for defensive center fielder Brian Anderson and starter Jamie Moyer. While Moyer was brought in to improve the #4 spot in the rotation, he could conceivably battle Beckett and Buehrle for the #2 & #3 spot as he comes to town with an 8-1 record and 3.10 ERA in 11 starts with his former club. The month of June will be fun to watch as Moyer makes his Goldens debut and 3B Mike Lowell makes his season debut after sitting out the 1st two months with an injury. The series to watch this month will be against the Platinum Division leading Diamond Gems who have a 40-16 record. The series figures to be home run derby as the venues will both be dinger friendly at Coors Field & Great American Ballpark.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pitchers Hitting

If you open this up it is going to lead to stratball. The retro leagues I run, the pitchers have to bat in the 9th spot and they cannot PH unless it is for another pitcher and there are not any more hitters available. Yes, I know Larussa is sometimes batting a pitcher 8th, and over the years occasionally a pitcher has PH'd for a postion player, but 99.99% of the games in the last 30 years the pitcher bats 9th (in the NL games) and does not PH for a position player. Open this up and it will be abused.

On the topic, in my leagues that have the pitchers bat, because this is a pretty significant advantage to the manager actually playing the game instead of HAL managing the game, we have teams play their road games and turn on Home Field Advantage. This helps offset some of the advantage of making your pitching moves while you watch the game unfold.

My .02

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pitchers Hitting

We voted some time ago to abolish the DH after the upcoming season, but we never decided exactly how we would change the rules to implement this. There's a rule in our constitution which prohibits pitchers from batting; obviously that will have to be removed, but what will go in its place? I'd like to lay out the possibilities and get a discussion going, so that when the time comes to vote on something we can do so with informed opinions.

The first question is, will we allow pitchers to pinch-hit? The answer to this drives the rest of the discussion. The simplest course would be to say that pitchers cannot pinch hit, that they may only bat if they are in the game when their turn at the plate comes. With that rule, we wouldn't need any other limits on pitcher batting. (You could abuse the system to a slight extent by bringing in a good-hitting reliever with two out the inning before the pitcher's spot is due to bat, but I don't think there's a way to rule this out short of bending the game completely out of shape.)

On the other hand, the case for allowing pitchers to pinch hit is that we're playing National League rules, and in the NL pitchers can and do pinch-hit. Teams with good-hitting pitchers are, I'm sure, looking forward to taking advantage of them. (Full disclosure: Micah Owings is on my roster.) And there may not be a way of preventing the CM from pinch-hitting with a pitcher; I've never played a game on the computer without the DH rule, so I don't know how the CM functions under that condition.

If we do allow this, we absolutely need limits on the number of times each pitcher can bat; otherwise every pitcher with a #3 rating or better will be trotted off the bench 130 times a year. We can't base the limit on real-life at-bats; an American League starter will blow by his actual total his first month in a BRASS rotation. Maybe someone has another idea, but I see only two alternatives: a flat limit for any pitcher (say, 80 PA for starters, 15 for relievers) or a limit based on innings (perhaps 1/3 of a pitcher's IP; it would have to be at least that, or some starters might be forced to leave games late in the season because they were running out of PA's).

And this leads to something which might not have occured to everyone. Any reasonable limit rules will leave a team with some 200-odd available pitcher PA's more than are needed for the normal in-game situations where pitchers bat for themselves. A team with position-player shortages will be able to pinch-hit for position players with pitchers just to save at-bats for the position players. You may consider this a welcome addition to the toolbox or you may think it's an abuse, but it's something to keep in mind.

If you do consider it an abuse, you might want a rule which forbids pitchers to bat for position players, while still allowing them to hit for other pitchers.

I think that lays out the issues we need to consider. Now let's see some comments.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Dharma Strat-o-Matic

Fun piece in the NY Times today. Apparently Jack Kerouac was a big fantasy baseball fan. So big and so mysterious about it that even his closest friends like Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs had no clue.

Kerouac created his own game with imaginary teams and players, collected their stats, analyzed their performance and even had contract disputes.

... Kerouac played an early version of the baseball game in his backyard in Lowell, Mass., hitting a marble with a nail, or possibly a toothpick, and noting where it landed. By 1946, when Kerouac was 24, he had devised a set of cards with precise verbal descriptions of various outcomes (“slow roller to ss,” for example), depending on the skill levels of the pitcher and batter. The game could be played using cards alone, but Mr. Gewirtz thinks that more often Kerouac determined the result of a pitch by tossing some sort of projectile at a diagramed chart on the wall. In 1956 he switched to a new set of cards, which used hieroglyphic symbols instead of descriptions. Carefully preserved inside plastic folders at the library, they now look as mysterious as runes.
Very cool. I made up my own game when I was a kid using simple die throws, too. For example, two 3s thrown in succession would result in a home run. I don't remember many of the other combos, but I do recall keeping copious stats. Interestingly enough, home run hitters like Hank Aaron tended to hit more in my game. Other player performances would be similar to real life.

To this day, since I was absent a calculator, I can add and subtract numbers in my head rapidly -- all because of the dice game.

I'll bet Kerouac would have been a hell of a Strat-o-Matic player.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Draft Review

This year I thought I'd start a new annual tradition and review the BRASS rookie draft. I've been doing this for my summer Strat league forever; don't know why I waited so long to start it here. My standard format is to say something about each of the first-round picks, in the order they were taken. Then, for each team, I list everyone they chose after the first round, and say something that's at least vaguely related to one or more of them. It won't always be kind, so I hope no one takes anything I say personally. I also hope no one thinks I'm some sort of expert; if I was the world's greatest judge of young talent, would my team have been in the draft lottery this year?

Speaking of the lottery, my strongest overall impression of this draft is that if you weren't in the lottery, it was barely worth having a first-round pick at all. The pool of available talent was the shallowest I can remember. Even though we've cut down on AMs, past ones have seriously drained the pool. It's not going to get much better until we finish phasing out AMs and the existing ones graduate to having cards.

My other overall impression is that some managers haven't adjusted their thinking to the current contract rules. I see quite a few U contracts (minimum value $1.2M) given to drafted players who would never have drawn bids that high in free agency, let alone secondary free agency (which is where they'd be if they'd gone undrafted).

The first-rounders:

1. Chris Davis, Duluth-Superior - He's got a nice power card, he's got serious 40-HR potential, he's only 23, and he's playing regularly. No one else in this draft has all those markers; not many can claim even two of them. That said, there are negatives. A year ago, when Davis was eligible for the Top 100 prospect lists, he was only #65 at Baseball America and #74 at Baseball Prospectus. (Of course, if he'd been much higher, he wouldn't be in this draft pool, because someone would have taken him as an AM.) His walk rate is terrible, and if he doesn't fix that you can forget 40 homers--he won't see 40 hittable pitches all season. And there's a limit to the value of a player whose only position is first base, especially after we dump the DH next year.

2. Stephen Strasburg, SoCal - Yeah, I know--he's the B*E*S*T P*I*T*C*H*I*N*G P*R*O*S*P*E*C*T E*V*E*R!! It's still a big risk to use this high a pick on someone who's never pitched an inning in the pros. Just too much can go wrong between now and a major league career, including the possibility that the Gnats bring him up as soon as they sign him. Bad teams have done that before with young pitchers, and it rarely ends well.

3. Trevor Cahill, Chuckanut Bay - Not believed to have Strasburg's upside, or Hanson's for that matter, but he's in a major-league rotation, which greatly reduces the risk that the pick will turn out to be worthless. His control has been awful so far this year, but it's early, and his record doesn't suggest a real problem in that area.

4. Alcides Escobar, Colorado - The difference between his ranking on the Baseball America list of prospects and the Baseball Prospectus list was over 30 spots, because no one knows for sure if he's going to hit. Everyone agrees the glove is something special. If he turns out to be the next Omar Vizquel, this was a great pick. If he's the next Adam Everett. . . not so much.

5. Denard Span, Andover - Had the draft been held a month earlier, Span probably would have gone a lot lower, because it wasn't clear at that time that he'd remain a regular. But now he seems to have settled in as a player whose leadoff skills and defense more than compensate for his total lack of power. If you pencil him in for about half of Richie Ashburn's career, you shouldn't have to worry about keeping the eraser clean. There will be players picked after him who will return more value than that, but I don't have the balls (crystal, that is) to tell you which ones.

6. Tommy Hanson, Inyo - One observer told me he'd have taken Hanson #1 overall. Myself, I'm nervous about picking him even this high when he hasn't pitched in the majors yet. At least he's almost ready; rumor has it that the Braves are just trying to manage his service clock and delay arb-eligibility as long as possible.

7. Jordan Schafer, Phoenix - Will probably outdo Span over his career; he's two and a half years younger and has some power.

8. Mat Gamel, Colorado - The anti-Escobar: possibly the best bat in this draft pool, but doesn't have a position he can play. Since the Brewers are in the National League and already have Ryan Braun, it may take a trade to get Gamel to the majors. And this type of player doesn't always make it--remember Sam Horn?

I would say that the above players are the ones who someone might have gone into the draft hoping to get. Everyone else is basically what you settle for.

9. Cory Wade, Dayton - Lights-out card, plenty of innings, and he's doing OK so far this year. But when a reliever goes in the upper half of the first round, the pickings are slim.

10. John Baker, San Jose - And when a 28-year-old batter with less than half a season's playing time goes this high, the pickings are pathetic.

11. Jose Arredondo, Hoth - See Wade, Cory. He's pitched more than Wade so far this year; the ERA isn't good, but the K/W ratio is excellent.

12. Matt Joyce, Phoenix - Nice part-time card, and he's still in the majors, but he's not playing much and doesn't ever figure to be much more than a good fourth outfielder.

13. Daniel Murphy, Colorado - Probably should have gone before Joyce; he's playing every day, has a great OBP, and might approach 20 HR. His defense sucks from all reports, but you can live with that in left field.

14. Jody Gerut, Sierra Nevada - Probably the most useful card in the draft with the possible exception of Span, but he's 31 and off to a mediocre start this year. Plus he's a U player, so you don't even get a cheap Y1 year out of him.

15. Lou Marson, Colorado - Probably a better catching prospect in the long run than Nick Hundley, although the Phils seem all too willing to let Carlos Ruiz and Chris Coste block him as long as they're healthy.

16. James McDonald, Meridian - The Dodgers are the closest thing I have to a local team (or maybe the Angels are; I'm not really sure which one is closer), but I honestly didn't know who this guy was when his name came up. I saw "J. McDonald" and thought, no, it can't be that no-hit shortstop the Jays have. All you need to know about him is that according to his ESPN web page, Jeff Weaver is about to take his spot in the rotation.

17. Greg Smith, Chuckanut Bay - Smith has by far the most innings of any pitcher in the draft--yet another indication that we need to finish the process of phasing out AMs. Pretty nice card, too, as long as his opponent doesn't stack too many righthanders against him. But what you see is probably all you're ever going to get. He's a curveballing lefty now pitching in Colorado, or rather not pitching.

18. Grant Balfour, SoCal - Probably the most dominating card in the set, but he's 31 and getting the snot beat out of him so far this year. If Scott isn't contending this year, he really needs to flip Balfour to someone who is.

19. Madison Bumgarner, San Jose - This is about where a pitching prospect like this should go; the risk is worth the upside at this point. Between Bumgarner and Hanson, it's a total crapshoot at this point who winds up with a better career.

20. Jordan Zimmerman, Green Bay - And Zimmerman could be better than either one. Like Cahill, he has the advantage of being in a major league rotation right now, and he's pitching better than Cahill

21. Brad Ziegler, Diamond - Not nearly as dominating as his ERA or his scoreless-innings string would suggest, and no spring chicken at 29, but he's doing better this year than any of the relievers taken earlier. But not as well as some taken later--see below.

22. Nick Hundley, Green Bay - I guess he'll have a job for awhile, since the Padres don't seem to have anyone pushing him. But for the production he'll give you, you might as well take a couple of second-string types in the back end of the draft every year. Mike Redmond and Javier Valentin didn't go until the 10th and 14th rounds, and I'd rather have them out there for me than Hundley. They won't be there next year, but someone else just as good will be.

23. Chris Dickerson, SoCal - When I did the draft review for my summer Strat league, my comment on Dickerson was that he was "so far over his head he risked being sucked into the engine of a passing jet." His play so far this year bears this out. Like Balfour, he belongs on a contender.

24. Jesse Carlson, Cream City - I look at their cards, their ages and how each of them is doing this year, and I don't see any reason Carlson shouldn't have been taken ahead of Brad Ziegler unless you just really need a righty instead of a lefty.

After the first round, by team:

Andover (Chris Getz, Mike Stanton, Matt Harrison, Edgar Gonzalez [the infielder], Roy Corcoran, Mike Hinckley, Clayton Richard, Burke Badenhop) - The Cougars drafted just ahead of me, and they did it to me twice. I wanted Getz in the second round; I really thought he'd go much earlier, but it was heartbreaking that he lasted until just ahead of me and then got taken. Then, early in round 6, I noticed that Clayton Richard was still on the board, and thought he'd be worth a flier at that point. I changed my list to put him at the top, only to see him go to Andover.

I'm skeptical of Harrison as a second-round pick, simply because he's a Ranger. Much-hyped Texas prospects like Volquez and Danks never amounted to a bucket of warm spit until they went somewhere else. I'm not sure I'd want a Rangers pitching prospect if he was cloned from Roger Clemens' DNA.

Ashland (Ramon Ramirez, Joe Inglett, Mike Hampton, Greg Norton, Omar Quintanilla, Eric Bruntlett, Kason Gabbard, Mike Redmond) - Nothing but U contracts and free agent claims, but still the Penguins netted more money than anyone else because three of their own free agents were claimed. Inglett, Quintanilla and Bruntlett would seem to do no more than replace a year of Placido Polanco, which begs the question of why Polanco was left unprotected in the first place. And why pay $1.2M for Kason Gabbard's 56 crappy innings when Tom Glavine's 68 innings--a little crappier but not much--will be available in secondary free agency for a fraction of that?

Speaking of Gabbard, his case illustrates an anomaly created by the relatively new rule that a drafted player must be signed to a U contract if he ever before had a BRASS major-league deal. Gabbard last year was a Y1 player; if he'd been kept by his old team, he'd be a Y2 this year. Instead he was released, presumeably because he wasn't deemed worth a Y2 deal--so now if he's drafted, he has to be signed for twice that? I think the rule should be amended such that if a drafted player's last contract was a Y, he must be signed to whatever contract he would have rated if his last team had kept him.

Chuckanut Bay (Max Ramirez, Chris Perez, Aaron Cunningham, Josh Outman, Miguel Batista, Shawn Chacon, Patrick Misch, Denny Bautista, Nelson Figueroa, Mark Redman, Brett Wallace) - When Dave took this franchise over, he was its fifth manager in two years. I don't know who among the other four gets the blame, but the team was desperately short of pitching, and it was left to Dave to apply spackling compound to the bomb crater. He did that here while still picking up at least five serious prospects, but with two free agent claims and four U contracts, it's going to cost him.

Colorado (Jose Mijares, Ryan Tucker, Mike Gonzalez, Phil Coke) - These guys are basically afterthoughts compared to the Challengers' four 1st-round picks, but the law of averages says one of them should settle in at some point for a few years of solid relief work. It won't be Gonzalez, though; he was signed to a U2 contract, which will return one good year if he keeps up his good start, and basically nothing for the $3M if he blows up this year.

Cream City (Wesley Wright, Keichi Yabu, J.P. Arencibia, Carlos Santana) - Arencibia and Santana are good prospects--there's really no such thing as a bad AM prospect when the league as a whole can only have 48 of them--but Yabu looks like one year and out, and Wright will be a generic middle reliever in the very best case (and even that looks unlikely the way he's started out this year).

Dayton (Placido Polanco, Craig Breslow, Arthur Rhodes, Ryan Hanigan, Yonder Alonso, Daniel Herrera, Scott Lewis, Paul Janish, Logan Morrison, Laynce Nix, Cliff Pennington, Eddie Kunz) - Polanco was easily the best value among the unprotected players, and John did well to jump on him early. I guarantee he wouldn't have lasted another round. Who knows what will happen with the rest of these guys, although several of them have started this year well. Foremost among these, to my amazement, is Nix.

Diamond (Jason Motte, Steven Shell, Jose Veras, Chris Tillman, Scott Schoenweiss, Billy Sadler, Jesse Chavez, Jonathan Meloan, Michael Aubrey, Jolbert Cabrera, Kurt Birkins, Jonathan Albaladejo) - There's a bullpen in here somewhere. With pitchers--especially relievers--throwing a bunch of them against a wall to see who sticks is a better approach than trying to identify one guy.

Duluth-Superior (Colin Balester, Charlie Morton, Sidney Ponson, Glendon Rusch, Lance Cormier, Luis Rivas, Rob Johnson, Franquelis Osoria, Juan Rincon) - Who is hoarding all the innings in this league? (Besides me, I mean.) There are 30 MLB teams feeding 24 of ours, but still we have teams like the Tubas (covered above), Hoth (who was willing to pay five and a half mil and use a bonus round pick to take Joel Pineiro off my hands) and the Dukes, who need innings badly enough to give U contracts to Ponson, Rusch, Cormier and Rincon. (OK, Rusch has perhaps the best card I've ever seen on a pitcher with an ERA over 5, but still.)

Great Kills (Ricky Romero, Kory Casto, Chris Waters, Guillermo Quiroz, Bryan LaHair, Paul McAnulty, T.J. Beam) - Romero didn't exactly come out of nowhere, but he wasn't on any top-prospect lists (except for being eighth on BA's list of Toronto prospects) going into spring training. Do you use your only AM pick on someone like that who's off to a hot start, or on a higher-rated prospect who maybe is still in the minors? Always a tough decision, especially now that we draft a couple of weeks earlier than we used to.

Green Bay (Brett Gardner, Shairon Martis, Angel Salome, Brian Bixler, Mitchell Boggs, Will Venable, Jeremy Reed, Eric Stults, John Bowker, Ryan Raburn, Freddy Dolsi) - Gardner was worth a flyer; he was going to get every chance because of his speed, and once in awhile this type of player learns to hit. Not this time, it seems. Martis is in a rotation and winning, if not impressively. I was surprised to have Raburn claimed, but he's back in the majors and has a platoon role.

Hoth (Blake DeWitt, Travis Ishikawa, Joel Pineiro, Joe Thurston, Gaby Sanchez, Mark DiFelice, Adam Rosales) - DeWitt probably would have been a first-round pick if the Dodgers hadn't signed Orlando Hudson. Gaby Sanchez was a very nice gamble in the fourth round; if the Marlins clear the logjam ahead of him, he'll probably have a better career than Ishikawa, at the very least. But the question all America should be asking is, who is this guy playing second base for the Cardinals and what has he done with the real Joe Thurston? The real Thurston is 29 years old, seven years removed from being a failed Dodgers prospect and has had five cups of coffee for a total of 66 at-bats during that time. The impostor has more at-bats than that a month into the season, and an OPS some 200 points higher than what Thurston managed over his "career".

Inyo (J.A. Happ, Ben Zobrist, Ramon Troncoso, Anderson Hernandez, Paul Lo Duca, Francisco Cervelli, Koyie Hill, Mike Hessman, Justin Smoak) - Zobrist is a similar case to Gabbard, mentioned above; if I'd kept him continuously instead of cutting him after he cratered in 2007, he'd be getting a Y2 contract instead of a U3 this year. Hill is almost as surprising as Thurston; I'd have sworn there was a fork sticking out of him three or four years ago.

Meridian (David Purcey, Scott Proctor, Brendan Ryan, Dusty Ryan, Nick Evans, Josh Banks, Ramon A. Ramirez, WIll Nieves, Toby Hall) - Oh, great! Two pitchers with the same name, both righthanded, a year apart in age. Let's hope this one either makes the starting rotation or washes out completely so we have some way of telling them apart.

Montgomery County (Wilson Betemit, Lou Montanez, Alberto Gonzalez, Darren O'Day, Zach Jackson, Clete Thomas, Scott Holm, Matt Tolbert, James Parr) - Gonzalez would be a very useful backup--great shortstop defense, nice batting card with some pop against righties--except that our contract rules keep him from playing in any month with 30 days.

Montreal (Derek Holland, Jesse Crain, Doug Waechter, Carlos Rosa, Jose Ascanio, Matt Tuiasosopo, Jeremy Blevins, Kevin Cash) - Holland was BA's #31 prospect in their Top 100 issue a couple of months ago, and he was taken in the second round, #42 overall. Justin Smoak was #23, and I got him over 180 picks later. Granted, Holland is pitching in the majors now, but he's also in Texas. I'm just sayin'. . .

Olympia (Micah Hoffpauir, Brian Bass, Brandon Boggs, Garrett Mock, Jarrod Washburn, Adam Eaton, Angel Berroa, Clayton Mortensen, Vince Mazzaro, Mike Lamb, Chris Burke, Andy Marte) - Hoffpauir's awfully old for a rookie, but it looks like he'll turn out real well if the Cubs ever decide to focus on what he can do in the future rather than what Derrek Lee has done in the past. Mortensen and Mazzaro are AMs, and Kai must have some deep inside information on them. I don't see either one on a top prospect list or a major league roster.

Phoenix (Emmanuel Burriss, Gregor Blanco, Darrel Rasner, Tony Pena Jr., German Duran, Humberto Quintero, Masa Kobayashi, Chris Carter, Jeff Salazar, Alex Romero, Ivan Ochoa, Cesar Jimenez) - Burriss has a nice card and a job, and if he turns it around and hits well enough to keep that job, this was a great pick. So far, no. Blanco would be Denard Span Lite if Jordan Schafer hadn't sent him back to the minors; as it is, he's good insurance for the team that drafted Schafer. Chris Carter is. . . the wrong Chris Carter.

Plainsfield (Mike Aviles, Buster Posey, Brian Anderson, Sean Rodriguez, Matt Antonelli, Kila Ka'Aihue, Craig Monroe, Greg Golson, Logan Kensing, Sergio Romo, Josh Roenicke, Tommy Hunter, Jayson Nix) - On the one hand, Aviles should have gone earlier in this draft pool, even the way he's (not) hitting this year. On the other hand, for Plainsfield he's an overqualified utility infielder. Monroe seems overpriced, especially at the cost of the U2 contract he was signed to, but he does give the Hitmen a go-to guy off the bench if they need a homer off a right-hander.

San Jose (Felipe Paulino, Brian Barden, Bobby Parnell, Conor Gillaspie, D.J. Carrasco, Richie Sexson, Dan Meyer) - Sharp of Dave to notice that Paulino was in Houston's rotation and doing well (although since the draft he seems to have gone to the pen). Chuckanut Bay, with its pitching shortage, could ill afford to lose him. Fitting that this team got Gillaspie, as Dave gets to watch him right there in San Jose. Sexson seems like an overpriced FA claim, but he's devastating in a strict platoon role.

Sierra Nevada (Luis Valbuena, Fernando Rodney, Fernando Perez, Alfredo Aceves, Josh Geer, Kevin Jepsen, Kam Mickolio, Clint Sammons) - All through the draft, I had a feeling that I should move Aceves up on my lists, that I'd regret it if I missed out on him. The Yankees just brought him up, so we'll see. Mickolio is on the Orioles' list of top prospects, which isn't saying a whole lot but is good for the 199th pick.

SoCal (Jonathan Niese, Jim Thome, Mike Adams, Brian Bruney, Dan Giese, Joaquin Arias, Matt Brown, Joe Mather) - Several players here who at one time seemed to be good bets to come through, but none seems to have so far except maybe Giese. Thome begs two questions: 1)Why did Ashland give him a two-year free-agent contract knowing that next year we dump the DH, and 2)Why was SoCal willing to assume that contract?

Southtown (Rafael Soriano, Sean Burnett, Emil Brown) - The biggest cash gainer of the draft next to Ashland, as the aptly named Misers had nearly $9M worth of free agents claimed away. As for draft picks. . . in my summer Strat league, there used to be a guy named John Sokol who every year would trade away all his choices and sit out the draft. Since he left, every year we award the John Sokol Trophy to whoever comes closest to emulating him. This year in BRASS, that would be Henry.

Sugar Creek (Kyle McClellan, Fernando Tatis, Mike Lincoln, Juan Rivera, Andrew Carpenter, Justin Speier, Michael Wuertz, Brian Stokes, Shawn Camp, Juan Castro, Angel Guzman, Javier Valentin, Claudio Vargas) - Wow. 13 players, and only two of them (McClellan and Carpenter) won't be unrestricted free agents after the upcoming season. I really, really don't understand why Guzman was signed to a U1 contract, as his card has only 10 innings.

Washington Crossing (Joe Nelson, Gabe Kapler, Gordon Beckham, Eddie Guardado, Aquilino Lopez, Reggie Willits, Jeff Larish, Bryan Corey, Mitch Maier) - It pays to study the cards. I looked at Reggie Willits' stat line and saw a .194 BA and a .552 OPS, and assumed he'd be on the SFA scrap heap at the end of the draft. Dave looked at his card and saw a 46% on-base chance against lefties, and of course he can fly once he gets there.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Scouting Report: the San Jose Giants

The team that started the season with the Giants’ A-level affiliate in San Jose may be broken up via roster moves & promotions at any time, but man, has it been sweet so far. There are two probable and five possible future MLB All-Stars on this squad, and as many as 8 likely ML regulars. Keith Law from ESPN did a recent write-up on San Jose’s *opposition* after a recent visit (ouch, that hurt Keith!) but practically every serious reporting organization (Baseball Prospectus, Baseball America, etc etc) has written jaw-dropping praise for the recent drafting & international signings done by the much-maligned San Francisco front office, as evidenced by their high A-club. Given that it’s only 10 minutes’ drive from my house & general admission = $10, I figured I’d offer a firsthand take after seeing them Sunday May 3rd & Monday May 4th

When I went to see them on Monday night, a night when San Jose will normally draw 500-1000 fans, I arrived a bit late, after the 1st half-inning, and decided to splurge $15 for a box seat instead of the $10 general admission ticket. Good choice. The stadium seats around 4000, and it was about ¾ full on a Monday night, with rain clouds in the offing. I ended up with really the best seat in the house to watch a lefty pitcher – just to the right of home plate, 5 rows back from the field. And that set the stage for…

…The Lefty
The talk this spring has been all about Madison Bumgarner, who has rocketed up the prospect charts after showing quick improvement in a slider that looks like a future out-pitch at the ML level. The fastball is fierce, reportedly at a David Price-like 94-96 mph. If MadBum’s change (he is working on it now) becomes a plus pitch, he should join Price as one of the best young LHs in years and a #1 starter.

When I saw him, the fastball sat at 93-94 and touched 97 at times. I have read that he displays “easy” velocity, and can confirm that assessment. The arm slot is around ¾ but there is a not a lot of effort in the delivery, which he repeated fairly well most of the night. The changeup was on display vs. RH on several occasions and was usually taken for a strike or called for a ball just off the plate outside/high, and came in at 77-81 mph. The concern there is that he’ll need to start it lower in the zone vs. top-level hitters or they’ll make him pay. At the A-level, when the batters were looking for a heater or maybe the slider, they were caught off guard by the changeup. He used it on at least three occasions when he was ahead in the count, 1-2 or 2-2. The slider he had working was a touch faster than the changeup at 81-83 mph. Against RHs it mostly started belt-high in the middle/outside portion of the plate, and breaks in to the batter’s back foot with good tilt. He got several swinging strikes with this pitch. He also displayed some of the toughness that has been mentioned about him, coming high & inside on an 0-2 pitch that hit the batter on the arm. This was definitely a message pitch, intended to try to get the batter off the plate so that the pitcher could own the outside on a 1-2 count. Unfortunately it backfired as the hit batsman came around to score on a SB, error on the throw (catch actually, the throw was perfect), and a sac fly, but the concept was good even if the execution was a bit lacking. I would give his control pretty high marks at this stage though command was average and needs work.

Physically MadBum looks like he can hold up well over a long season. He’s not tall, but has noticeably thick thighs that support him well on the mound. Given the relative ease of the delivery he’s probably got as good a shot at staying healthy as any young pitcher especially if he can avoid over-reliance on the slider in favor of the change.

The Righty
With all the focus on MadBum, we have to add 6’6” RH Tim Alderson to the mix as well when we talk about high-ceiling prospects on this team. He’s mainly a FB/curve pitcher though is adding a changeup as well. When I saw him, the FB was slower than it has been in the past, sitting at 89 and ranging from 88-91. Most scouting reports have it sitting at 91-92, and not having all of his velo on the FB would explain his slow start to the year. That said, the curveball he showed was outstanding all day. He seemed completely comfortable throwing the pitch in any count and broke it off on both sides of the plate at 71-74 mph, generating both called strikes & plenty of swings & misses. If the FB comes back to 91-92, we’re talking about a #2 or #3 SP, and if the changeup comes along, he could even reach #1 status. With his height, I think it’s reasonable to assume he gets 1-2 more mph in the FB as he fills out, and his command is excellent.

Great sequence to illustrate this in the 6th inning as Alderson had a 2-2 count on the batter and broke off a curve that may have missed, but if so it was by just an inch or two. Alderson was visibly upset that he didn’t get the call, to the point where I thought “Ok, he’s flustered here”. But he went right back to the pitch for a called strike three, something the batter clearly wasn’t ready for on a 3-2 count. Amazing confidence in the pitch, signaled to him by…

…The All-American, and everyone’s future All-Star backstop Buster Posey. Posey put up an OPS of over 1.000 in April, and the Florida State alum really looks the part. For a RH his swing is very smooth, and though he went 1 for 4 and 0 for 4 on the 2 days I was there, he made up for an off day at the plate by nailing a runner going to 2b on a steal attempt on day 1, and making a perfect throw on day 2 that was alligator-armed by the SS. Every throw down to 2b looked smooth and easy, no effort at all, but the ball arrived with plenty of zip. I can see him as a 2eX -2 or -3 type C, and most reports put his power in the 18-20 HR range, with a very high BA and OBP. I saw nothing to discourage that opinion. He’ll be ready for prime time very soon, a RH version of Joe Mauer, and like Mauer also a multi-sport star in HS. High ceiling but also a pretty high probability of reaching that ceiling.

The Cowboy
Providing lineup protection for Posey in the San Jose order I was surprised to find Wichita State product Conor Gillaspie. Wasn’t hard to know when he was batting though – the intro song he chose is pure Country, some cowboy song whose name I’m sure I should know but have no clue about, an affectation stemming from his alma mater no doubt. But what was interesting was to see him batting 5th when original reports on him had him as a high-average, moderate-power, use-all-fields type of hitter, a #2 guy. I heard David Bell or Bill Mueller comparisons when he was drafted, and thought “Ok, Giants can do worse”. That said, he’s a pure LH, not a SW like Mueller, and the swing & body type I saw (listed at 6’1”, 200) project to more power than I remember those two guys having. In one AB Gillaspie went down the 3B line for an IF single, showing a good ability to go with a pitch on the outside and decent speed (he forced an error on the play), and followed that up with a long RBI double off the wall in straightaway CF. In San Jose the CF sign is at 390 feet, and it was a rainy day with a breeze blowing in at 10 mph & knocking balls down. I think in most ML parks that ball has a good chance to go for a HR, and he hit it well but didn’t quite get all of it. He hit almost exactly the same ball into a much stronger wind on Day 2 of my visit and it died at the track in front of the 390 sign. From what I saw it was crushed, better contact than the double on Day 1, just hit to the wrong place at the wrong time. He has no HRs to date this year, but the park in San Jose was really favoring pitchers on this homestand. I think we’ll see a 2-range 3B with 15-20 HR power there and a chance for more if he fills out & if he learns what pitches he should pull vs. staying back on and driving to LF/CF.

The Kid
After Posey, the hitter who gets the most attention on this team is teenage 1B Angel Villalona. One look at him will tell you why he got moved off 3B. He’s huge in the midsection, from chest/belly through thighs, a miniature (and RH) version of Boog Powell, as the calves seem small by comparison. He competes well for an 18-year old in high A, and was never close to being overpowered at the plate, but like many young Latino hitters with power, it doesn’t seem plate discipline has been a part of his baseball upbringing. He’s athletic enough to stay in the field for the bulk of his career, but projects to average range at best. The power that should come will be substantial. Lots of torque in the swing, and he has the natural hand-eye coordination to make pitchers pay for mistakes.

The Longshot
Brandon Crawford was pretty much a no-name when it came to prospect reports. That is, until he played in April. Putting up an OPS of 1.053 in your 1st month of pro ball will get you noticed. The UCLA product plays SS and stands 6’1”, and hits from the left side. The knock on him is that’s he’ll swing at anything, but as long as he hits it, who are we to criticize? He got 2 hits each day I saw him, and the glove was not bad to the 2B side, though I didn’t see him tested by any balls deep in the SS/3B hole. He did short-arm the throw in to the bag from Posey that I mentioned above, but he’s a guy to keep your eye on.

The Sleeper
2B Nick Noonan got on some radar screens as a 1st round pick in the 2007 draft, but had a quiet first full year in the pros in low-A. This season in high-A he continues to build his resume. He has good speed and baserunning ability, and combines those with good bat control though less than ideal OBP so far. He looks like a #7-8 hitter in the bigs, can play SS as well as 2B, and could also eventually see some PT in the outfield. However, if the plate discipline develops, we could see a reasonable top-of-the order bat here. He should be an average to above-average defender at 2B as well.

The Nephew
Some of you may remember the occasional 2-way card, where a pitcher is used as position player on occasion, enough to receive a rating in the field. The last such guy was Brooks Kieschnick, if memory serves. Well, meet his nephew Roger. Roger is a 6’ 3” OF with a bit of power potential. He’s athletic and a decent runner, but still best suited for corner OF. His OPS is .823 so far in his 1st pro season out of Texas Tech, and he’s not young for A ball at 22, but with 3 HRs in the early going, a good summer and continued production could put him on the list for a tryout at the pro level late this year or maybe a 2010 spring training invite. He reminds me of a Travis Buck type and is likely headed for a platoon/4th OF role at the ML level unless the power really ramps up.

Right now I am just hoping the Giants decide to keep this crew together another couple of months. There is no better value in the game today than $10 or $15 to see a group of youngsters with this much promise. Great beer selection too! I definitely recommend any of the BRASS SoCal contingent to go see these guys when they're in town.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Yoopers-going forward

Like our country and many industries and people, the Yoopers currently have money woes. It seems we made a few miscalculations on our way to enjoying some wealth, and now it is time for a payback. Sound familiar? Part of the organization is holding out hope for a bailout, or a stimulus bonus. But business goes on.

The Yoopers are coming off a very strong 109-53 regular season. This was the I build for, putting many of our eggs in one basket (it is close to Easter). However, Murphy’s Law and a very strong Diamond team visited us in the playoffs, and we meekly bowed out 4-1, and were not even competitive in the losses. So it is back to the drawing board in some ways, but also the same as usual as we have some very big contracts.

Of immediate concern is having operating cash for the upcoming season. That problem has been solved by a trade that will be announced. Of a greater concern to me is the following off season. I have Sean Marshall, Fausto Carmona, Bobby Jenks, and Ryan Theriot all on A3 contracts this year. It is doubtful I will be able to sign them all in the way I want. I already had to Give McCann an A3 contract instead of an A5 that I would have liked. It is my hope that I will move one of my big money guys next off season.

The key to our continued success will be to continue to draft well. I have used prospects like Briednac, Buchholz, and Adam Miller (there are more, this is off the top of my head) to acquire veteran help. The focus will now shift to maintaining more of our prospects. The only amateur I currently have is Nolan Reimold, who I hope will graduate this season. My other amateur, Jaime Garcia, graduated, but now faces Tommy John surgery. But I also need some Y1 and Y2 guys to step up. Luckily, my favorite part of strat leagues (I am in two) is drafting and following how young players are doing. So I am excited to try to rebuild thru the draft.

I anticipate being a playoff contender for the upcoming season. I am strong in the infield with Beltre, Theriot, and Berkman all coming off good years. I will have to get more Abs at 2B, where I have Bonifacio and Punto. But Punto will probably also be a backup SS. Burrell will be my DH. And McCann is coming off a very good year, although I will need to draft a back up catcher.
My outfield is more of a concern. Crawford is coming off a down year, and will have to miss about two months. The only back up I currently have is Barton. Although I could put Burrell out there and DH Buscher. CF is great with Tori Hunter. But I have no other rated CF on the roster, so I need a backup. RF is a hole, I have nobody currently. It is a high priority in either the draft or trade.

I should be solid at the top of the rotation with Guthrie, Oswalt, and Lannon. Currently the 4-5 spots will be filled in my the disappointing Carmona, Sowers, Laffey, and maybe Dumatrait and JoJO Reyes. It is my hope to use Marshall’s innings in the bullpen. I hope for one starter in the draft as well.

I will also have to fill in my pen. I have a closer in Jenks. A good lefty set up guy in Thornton, and another lefty in Marshall. But I will need RH relievers.

In short, we have our work cut out for us. But I look forward to it. When I joined the league, my franchise had never been to the playoffs (we have been in the last two years) and was among the dregs of the league, with cap problems We have transformed our selves into a solid contending franchise, and I hope to continue those ways. And all, start saving those pennies, as a big name guy will be available next offseason. LOL. Best of luck to everyone this offseason.
Bob-GB Yoopers

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

San Jose = Cinderella?

It's an age-old story, and one with even more meaning this time of year, with the NCAA tourney grabbing headlines. After a miserable start, the Scorpions are now window shopping for glass slippers and are one step away from the title.

It's been a long haul for the squad, through the winding path of all wild card teams with big dreams. This was a team that almost punted after losing its first ten games of the season, and going 13-14 in April. Rumors had team star Carlos Pena on the trade blocks, but instead management saw opportunity despite the sluggish start to the year, and managed to trade for Mark DeRosa and Brandon Webb in order to make a stretch run. Webb went 7-2 after the trade, and carried the team to the playoffs while helping to save a somewhat beleaguered bullpen.

In the WC round, the Scorpions matched up against a tough Meridian squad with a similar regular season record. In a seesaw game 1, Ryan Doumit came on against Meridian closer Matt Capps with San Jose down a run 6-5 and down to their last out with a man on base. Doumit came through in the clutch with a 2-run jack that sent the home fans into a frenzy. Game 2 saw Doumit continue his torrid regular season (1.053 OPS) by going 3 for 3 and DeRosa go 3 for 4 with 3 RBI to lead San Jose to a 2-0 series edge with a 6-3 win. After a Game 3 loss on the road where Vlad Guerrero smashed 2 homers for the Trojans, Roger "The Pincushion" Clemens tossed a complete game shutout and Josh Bard hit a PH 3-run homer to close out the series and advance San Jose to the Silver LDS round.

In the LDS, San Jose squared off against a Montreal squad that finished a scant 1 game behind the Scorpions in the regular season. The Sunsets took game 1 in spectacular fashion, scoring 3 runs to erase a 5-3 deficit in the top of the 9th inning. Moises Alou went 2 for 3 with a HR and 3 RBI to lead the way, and the heretofore untouchable Manny Delcarmen took the loss. Game 2 saw the home team mount a furious rally in the bottom of the 9th, down 4-1, but we came up just short for a 4-3 final. Derek Lowe notched the “W” with 7 strong innings of work.

The Scorpions then donned their road jerseys and made the trek to Montreal to try stop the Sunset steamroller. Game 3 featured a pitcher’s duel with Joe Blanton and Daisuke “Dice-K” Matsuzaka going toe to toe with neither starter giving an inch. In the top of the 9th, San Jose managed to eke out a run off the Montreal bullpen as pinch hitter Jayson Werth singled home the only score of the ballgame. Blanton lasted 8 innings and gave up just 5 hits and no walks. Delcarmen was back in form to close Montreal out in the 9th. In Game 4, the San Jose bats came to life in the 4th inning, putting up 6 runs against Sunsets starter Carlos Zambrano, and the team held on for a 7-3 victory. Webb went the distance in the win, and just like that, the series was even at two games apiece. In Game 5, the Sunsets took a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the 7th and held on for a 6-2 win, with Lowe once again providing 7 strong innings of work. DH Jonny Gomes drove in 3 runs on 2 hits to help the Montreal cause.

With a 3-2 lead in games, the series went back to San Jose and the tension was palpable. In games 3 & 4 in Montreal, San Jose sparkplug Reggie Willits had been beaned in the 1st inning in each game and knocked out each time, and the Scorpions crowd was calling for retaliation on their home turf. That set the stage for an ugly game in every sense of the word. Sunset had struck first blood, and San Jose was down 5-1 in the 5th inning when Country Joe Blanton came high and tight to Macier Izturis, who couldn’t avoid the 91-mph heater and went down hard after it caught him on the earflap. The dugouts exchanged angry words and but Blanton managed to settle down and retire the side. In the bottom half of the inning, Chris Snyder was at the plate for San Jose with two men on when Chad Billingsley cut loose a fastball that hit Snyder square in the back. Both dugouts emptied, but after a huddle the umpiring crew determined that there could be no intent on Billingsley’s part to hit Snyder and therefore load the bases. A couple of singles cut the lead to 5-4 and chased Billingsley from the game, accompanied by catcalls from the partisan crowd. In the 6th inning, the Scorpions rallied for 4 runs on a gland slam by Carlos Pena to grab a 8-5 lead. San Jose would add 2 more in the 7th for a seemingly commanding 5-run margin at 10-5, but the bullpen almost gave the game away in the 9th as Montreal pushed 4 runs across the board before Delcarmen came in to put out the flames, and San Jose hung on for a 10-9 win to force a game 7.

After the huge buildup, Game 7 turned into a laugher quickly as the home team scored almost at will against Dice K, putting up 9 runs in the 1st 4 innings of play. Pena, completely quiet in the series until his clout in Game 6, confirmed that he had found his power stroke by sending two more balls over the wall, good for 4 RBI on the day. Webb absolutely dominated from the mound, tossing a complete game shutout on 125 pitches, striking out 10 in the process & giving up just 4 hits & a walk, and San Jose moved on to the LCS with a convincing 12-0 win.

In the LCS, San Jose was matched up against a Duluth-Superior squad that it had dominated during the regular season, winning all 7 games. But in the LCS, fond San Jose memories of the season sweep were quickly erased as the Dukes took the 1st two in San Jose. Albert Pujols and Erik Bedard starred for D-S in Game 1, a 6-2 win, and in Game 2 the Dukes scratched out a 3-2 win behind 3 innings and 6 Ks from their 2-headed bullpen monster of Joe Nathan and Mariano Rivera.

Once again, the Scorpions needed some magic on the road, and Game 3 did not disappoint as WC hero Doumit and LDS hero Webb contributed epic performances. Doumit set the tone with a Grand Slam in the 1st, and he went on to pound the Dukes pitching for 3 hits, 2 dingers, and a jaw-dropping 7 RBI. Webb once again went the full distance, this time needing just 120 pitches, giving up 1 earned run and 7 hits on the day against 7 Ks. Game 4 was a back-and-forth battle that went to extra innings. In the 10th, pinch hitter Josh Hamilton hit an RBI single with the bases jammed that held up. Ryan Franklin got the win with 3 scoreless relief innings, and the series was tied at 2 games each. Game 5 was over quickly, as the Scorpions erupted for 5 runs in the 3rd and cruised to an easy 14-3 win. Mark Ellis was 3 for 3 with a Grand Slam and 5 RBI to lead the way for San Jose, and Blanton needed just 112 pitches to nail down the victory in a complete game effort.

Game 6 was close throughout, and after Webb went 7+ strong innings, the San Jose bullpen came on to preserve a 5-3 win. Ellis and Hamilton chipped in 2 RBI each to lead the way for the home team, and the San Jose fans held a raucous postgame celebration on the field with their team as they completed the comeback series victory and claimed the Silver League crown. Now we await the outcome of the Gold League to see if the glass slipper might actually fit...

Duluth-Superior Dukes Postseason Recap

The Dukes first opponent was the Cream City Pirates. The Dukes got off to a fast start in Game 1 scoring 5 runs in the first three innings. Alex Rodriguez had a 2-run homer in the first to keep the home town crowd quiet for the rest of the game. Five pitchers combined to beat the Pirates with Nathan finishing the job and a 5-2 victory and Duluth-Superior taking a 1 game to none lead.

Game 2 the Cream City Pirates dominated all game and whipped the Dukes 7-0. Shane Victorino was the star of the game as he went 3-4 and scoring 2 runs and knocking in one. Four Pirate pitchers combined for the shutout and Cream City and Duluth-Superior are tied at 1 game apiece.

With the series ties 1-1, the Dukes were feeling pretty good playing the next three at home. Game 3 saw the Dukes start right away scoring 3 runs in the first. Alex Rodriguez went 3-5 and was one of three Dukes to drive in two runs. The others were Justin Morneau and Albert Pujols. Chris Young pitched a gem going 6 innings while only giving up one earned run. The big three Rodriguez, Morneau and Pujols each homered in the game. The Dukes won 6-5.

Game 4 went to the Dukes to take a commanding 3 games to one lead in the series. Pirate pitcher Jeff Francis gave up seven walks in 3 and 2/3 innings pitched. Offensively, Michael Cuddyer came through with a bases clearing triple.

Game 5 saw a low scoring 3-2 11 inning Pirate win, each starting pitcher went 7 2/3 innings. Dukes pitcher Eric Bedard struck out 11 batters while walking only one. Alex Rodriguez hit his 3rd homerun of the series. B.J. Upton was the difference as he hit a game winning homer in the top of the 11th, his second of the series.

Game 6 in Cream City was another nail biter. The pitching matchup pitted Javier Vazquez and Rich Hill. Vazquez pitched in to the 8th on a two-hitter and striking out nine Cream City Batters. Rich Hill walked seven batters and was tagged with the loss. The Dukes went on to win game 6 and the series with a 2-1 score. Millar homered for the Dukes.

The Dukes were on to meet up with the San Jose Scorpions. The Dukes were on the road again for games 1 and 2.

Game 1 matched Eric Bedard and Barry Zito. Bedard pitched 6 strong innings striking out five batters. Bedard would be the winning pitcher as the Dukes outscored the Scorpions 4-2. Offensively the Dukes got big hits from Albert Pujols (2-4) knocking in three of the four runs scored. Scorpions’ Jimmy Rollins went 3-3 and two runs scored.

In game 2, Javier Vazquez kept his strong postseason going, getting seven strikeouts and allowing only one earned run. Joe Blanton also pitched well for San Jose going six innings. The winning run was scored in the 7th inning as Rafael Furcal doubled and stole third. With Furcal on third, Juan Pierre delivered the game winning RBI single. The Dukes won game 2 by a score of 3-2 and had a commanding 2 games to none lead in the series with the series coming to Duluth-Superior for the next three games…..How could we lose?

Game 3 saw the start of the Dukes bats go silent as the Dukes would only score 11 runs in the last four games. The Scorpions won game 3 by a score of 9-2. San Jose’s big hitter was Ryan Doumit hitting two homeruns, going 3-5 with 7 RBI. Others hitting homeruns were Willie Harris and Nate McLouth.

Game 4 was a little closer but same result, San Jose wins outscoring Duluth-Superior 4-3 in 10 innings. Travis Hafner hit his first homerun of the series. In the top of the 10th, Carlos Pena walked, Hafner doubled him to third. Jimmy Rollins was intentionally walked to load up the bases. Josh Hamilton the singled in the eventual game winner. With the series now tied at two, the Dukes were feeling pretty down.

Game 5 was a laugher and the San Jose bats really woke up torturing the Dukes inning after inning totaling 15 runs on 12 hits. Dukes pitchers allowed 8 walks and four hit batters. Joe Blanton went the distance for the Scorpions allowing only five hits while striking out six batters. Mark Ellis had a grand slam homerun to start off the slug fest.

Game six capped off San Jose’s four game streak and end the series. San Jose won 5-3. The key at-bat was Josh Hamilton’s double in the fourth innings plating two runners. Winning pitcher Brandon Webb won his fourth game of the postseason. Webb finished the series with a 2.19 ERA.

Some notable Dukes stats:

Team Batting Average: .213
Homeruns (12 games): 10
Opp. Homeruns: 14
Stolen Bases: 14
Dukes batters hitting above .250: ONE-Alex Rodriguez
Dukes batters K’s: 78
Dukes pitchers K’s: 113

Dukes' Dominance

The Duluth-Superior Dukes find themselves in quite a quandary. A rough season or two may be in their future.

After seasons of 112-50 in 2006-07 and 106-56 in 2007-2008, the Dukes were picked as preseason favorites to come out of the Silver League to challenge the Plainsfield team. The Dukes did win the Copper division but with only a 95-67 record.

Consider the years their players have had in the “real” major leagues.

We aren’t talking just run of the mill players but high dollar contract players saw a lot of time on the disabled list.

Take a look.

Tim Hudson, $12.1M, pitched only 142 innings. Not all that bad one might say. The problem….of the four remaining starters totaling a little more than $28M, he has the most innings pitched.

Chris Young, $1.2M, was signed to a U1 contract this year mainly because he is so injury prone, a broken nose, strained arm. He amassed a total of 102 innings.

Brad Penny, $10M, he had to have pitched hurt all year. Penny pitched only 95 innings and his stats were horrible. 6.27 ERA and a 1.63 WHIP, striking out only 51 batters in those 95 innings.

And then there is Erik Bedard, the one my real favorite team (Seattle Mariners) just had to trade for. His contract is $4.8M and I am going to get a whopping 81 innings out of him. He did strike out 72 batters though, so hopefully I will get quality there.

Rafael Soriano was hurt most of the season too. Soriano was a huge part of the Duke bullpen this last year. One of the strong areas the Dukes have is their bullpen. “I knew if we had the lead after 6 innings and we turned it over to the bullpen, I knew we had the win,” manager Mike Swanson said. Soriano totaled 14 innings last year for the Braves.

My injury bug does not stop there though. My offense was hit as well too.

Rafael Furcal was able to get in 163 plate appearances before his season was done. My cost: $10.8M. He did hit well before the injury. His batting average is equal to that of his Dukes teammate (well teammate for now) .357.

Another Duke to get injured was Mike Cuddyer. Cuddyer was released from his contract with the Dukes because of the shortage of money. Cuddyer was able to get 274 PA’s last year but not enough to warrant a long term contract from the Dukes.

Other players that saw reduced playing time was Juan Pierre $10.5M. In his limited 397 PA’s he was able to steal 40 bases and still was unable to become a fulltime outfielder for the Dodgers.

Tadahito Iguchi saw a reduction in playing time as well, which forced the Dukes to release him.
The Dukes have only 20 players under contract before the free agency period and have only $2.7M to spend.

Players like Justin Morneau, Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez may have to be traded to keep this team afloat.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Face: Looking Up

A year ago in this space, I painted a very bleak picture of the prospects for the Inyo Face. The season bore me out, as we finished with 95 losses and an entry in the draft lottery. But a number of developments have brightened the picture considerably:

- Last year I handed out a number of inexpensive two- and three-year contracts to free agents to provide respectable roster fill. These players have almost all held their value, providing me a base from which to build. The only major exception is Tom Glavine, who went from ace of the staff to most likely to have his contract on the cafeteria menu.

- Pitchers blossomed all over the place. Chris Volstad came up from the AM ranks to take the quality part-time rotation role held by Ubaldo Jimenez last year. Jimenez, meanwhile, graduated to staff ace. Nick Blackburn takes a full-time rotation slot right behind Jimenez. Seemingly failed prospects Seth McClung and J.P. Howell had their best MLB seasons ever. Chan Ho Park, who provided nothing at all in the second year of a three-year contract, is back as a solid swingman in his walk year.

- Dioner Navarro's breakout happened on schedule, allowing me to trade Mike Napoli (who has a fine card himself, albeit with limited usage). Milton Bradley, an RFA re-signed for a bargain price, put up one of the best cards ever seen. He was included in the Napoli trade (more accurately, Napoli was included in the Bradley trade) to net two very promising youngsters.

- Jorge Cantu came back from a wasted year to take over as the full-time third baseman. He's also the team's best power hitter, which points up our main weakness.

Contention might be out of reach with Plainsfield in our division, but the Face should be able to manage a .500 record and avoid another draft lottery.


On a different subject, you've got to take a look at the Dayton Dragons. The talent they have on Y contracts is absolutely jaw-dropping. This was foreshadowed in the financial review and the minor league review, but it's still amazing to see it take shape.

Despite ranking the Dragons #1 in my minor league review, I didn't really do them justice, because I somehow overlooked Jay Bruce. I wrote that the talent behind Evan Longoria was such that they'd rate in the upper half of the rankings even without him. What I should have said was that they'd be #1 even without Longoria, assuming Longoria didn't go to anyone else.

In my other Strat league, which only uses carded players, Longoria and Bruce went 1-2 in the rookie draft this year, and the consensus was that there was a big gap between #2 and #3. Here in BRASS, the same team has them both, along with other cheap stars and the most financial muscle in the league. I've always felt sorry for myself for being in Plainsfield's division, but I'd sure rather have to deal with them than with Dayton over the next five years.

A re-introduction

I remember when I joined Brass five years ago, I wrote an introduction of myself. Five years later, there are still many of the same managers in this very stable league. But there are also some new managers, and I wanted to re-introduce myself to them. It has always been a penchant of mine to put a personal touch on things.

I grew up in Menominee, Michigan, an hour from Lambeau Field. So technically, I am a Yooper, but was right on the Wisconsin border. I graduated form Northern Michigan, in Marquette. So I spent four years on the shores of Lake Superior. Eventually I settled into a teaching position in Wautoma, Wisconsin. I taught 5th grade, and did some coaching.

In fact, I have head varsity football experience (one interim year), and head freshman experience. I also served as a varsity assistant some years, and ran the middle school program others. I coached football for a total of 15 years. I also coached 7th grade boys and girls basketball for a combined 12 seasons.

In 1989, I was diagnosed with a neuromuscular condition called Myasthenia Gravis (it causes weakness and fatigue).. I worked with the condition as long as I could. But as I pushed past 40 years old, it became more and more difficult to teach full time with it. In 2000, I applied for, and got, disability.

Upon going on disability, I moved to Green Bay, for girlfriend and family reasons (hence the name Green Bay Yoopers). I bought a condo in 2002, and have been here since. When I first moved here, I coached the 8th graders in football at De Pere, for something to do. I did that for four seasons. But even that got to be a little much, so I gave it up.

So now I spend lots of time with friends and family, as well as Nancy and her family. I am in two Brass leagues. I go to the Y almost daily. In fact, while teaching, I weighed in the 240s and wore a size 42 waist. Now I weigh 190 and have a size 36 waist. I pride myself as being a good race handicapper, and go to the OTB room at the local casino about three times a week (I bought this computer out of profits lol). I am a crossword person as well. About 18 months ago, I started a message board for Packer fans . It is going well, and even in the off season we get as many as over a hundred posts like last Thursday. It is at:
If you would like to check it out. I am DTB on the board. (it stands for Dog Track Bob, as a few of my friends like to call me)

I have a few of you as friends at Facebook. If anyone else has a page and would like to add me, please feel free.

So that’s me. I enjoy the Brass league and have every intention of seeing my team through the salary cap mess I created. I did drag my team out of despair once, and can also deal with this. LOL.

Coming in about a week: The state of the Green Bay Yoopers!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Best Seasons in BRASS History

After the depressing chore of cataloging the worst seasons in league history, I thought I should balance it out by posting the best seasons (defined as 115 or more wins)...

135-27: 1995-1996 Diamond Gems
133-29: 1998-1999 Diamond Gems
133-29: 2000-2001 SoCal Knights
132-30: 2004-2005 Plainsfield Hitmen
129-33: 1994-1995 Diamond Gems
127-35: 1999-2000 Plainsfield Hitmen
126-36: 1999-2000 Diamond Gems
126-36: 2008-2009 Plainsfield Hitmen
125-37: 1994-1995 Plainsfield Hitmen
122-40: 1998-1999 Long Island Knights
122-40: 2001-2002 Diamond Gems
121-41: 1996-1997 Meridian Trojans
121-41: 2003-2004 Iowa Roscos
120-42: 2002-2003 Diamond Gems
120-42: 2007-2008 Diamond Gems
119-43: 1997-1998 Plainsfield Hitmen
119-43: 1999-2000 Long Island Knights
119-43: 2002-2003 Plainsfield Hitmen
119-43: 2007-2008 Plainsfield Hitmen
118-44: 2000-2001 Washington Huskies
118-44: 2006-2007 Cream City Pirates
117-45: 2002-2003 Andover Cougars
117-45: 2003-2004 Plainsfield Hitmen
116-46: 1995-1996 Plainsfield Hitmen
116-46: 2001-2002 Plainsfield Hitmen
116-46: 2003-2004 Dayton Dragons
116-46: 2006-2007 Montreal Sunsets
115-47: 1999-2000 SoCal Knights

The Plainsfield Hitmen this year tied for the 7th best record of all-time. Way to go Kevin Kolb!

Worst Seasons in BRASS History

Given my team's poor performance this year, I thought it would be fun to post the worst seasons in BRASS history (worst defined as less than 50 wins)....

27-135: 2001-2002 Iowa Roscos
30-132: 1996-1997 Petoskey Stones
31-131: 2000-2001 Andover Cougars
32-130: 2002-2003 Iowa Roscos
36-126: 1998-1999 California Bums
36-126: 1999-2000 Happy Valley Heroes
37-125: 2005-2006 Southtown Misers
38-124: 1993-1994 Midland Canucks
38-124: 1997-1998 California Bums
39-123: 1994-1995 Santa Monica Sharks
39-123: 1999-2000 Andover Cougars
40-122: 2002-2003 Montreal Sunsets
42-120: 2008-2009 Olympia Seariders
42-120: 2004-2005 Duluth-Superior Dukes
43-119: 2002-2003 Leesburg Spartans
43-119: 2005-2006 Duluth-Superior Dukes
43-119: 2008-2009 Chuckanut Bay Tubas
44-116: 1992-1993 Crystal City Cherokees
45-117: 2000-2001 Meridian Trojans
45-117: 2004-2005 Meridian Trojans
46-116: 1993-1994 Long Island Knights
46-116: 1996-1997 Berkeley Hippos
46-116: 2001-2002 Twin Cities Challengers
47-115: 1996-1997 Racine Regals
47-115: 1998-1999 Happy Valley Heroes
47-115: 1999-2000 Washington Huskies
47-115: 2008-2009 Phoenix Phoenix
48-114: 1995-1996 Avenel Raptors
48-114: 2001-2002 Andover Cougars
48-114: 2006-2007 Meridian Trojans
49-113: 1996-1997 Kalamazoo Koszmics
49-113: 1997-1998 Hoth Rebels
49-113: 1999-2000 Meridian Trojans
49-113: 2003-2004 Milwaukee Magicians
49-113: 2004-2005 SoCal Knights

Whaddya know, I'm barely in the top 20. :-)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sierra Nevada Goldens Finish Home Schedule Strongly by Going 9-2 vs. Division Foes for Best Home Month of 2089 Season

The Sierra Nevada Goldens entered the final month of the 2089 Brass season trailing their Copper Division rival Duluth-Superior Dukes by 2 games and the Iron Division’s Montreal Sunsets by 7 Games for the Silver League’s final wildcard slot. The September schedule saw the SoCal Knights come to town for 4 games, the Duluth-Superior Dukes for 3 games, and the Phoenix Phoenix finished the homestand with a 4-game set.

Goldens Sweep SoCal Knights 4-0 with Four Comeback Victories

The series against the Knights was a wild one. In all four contests, SoCal jumped out to an early lead and each time, the Goldens stormed back like a team surging to win the Copper Division title and enter post-season play.

Game 1:
The Knights jumped out to a 5-2 lead in the 3rd inning off of the Goldens #5 starter, Kyle Kendrick who gave up 3 HR’s in the early going to Kelly Johnson, rookie Joey Votto, & Gabe Gross. Kendrick hung in there though and he didn’t allow any more runs and left the game tied after 5 1/3 innings. The Goldens smashed 3 HR’s of their own, the last two coming in the bottom of the 7th by Jim Thome & Dan Uggla giving the Goldens all they would need for the 8-6 victory. Thome was 3 for 4 with 3 RBI’s & rookie CF Josh Anderson was 2 for 3, got beaned twice, and scored 3 times as the lead-off man. Andy Sonnanstine took the loss giving up 11 Hits, 2 Walks, & 2 HR’s in 6 1/3 innings of work.

Knights: 1 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 - 6 10 0
Goldens: 2 0 1 1 1 0 3 0 X - 8 13 1

W: Brian Fuentes
L: Andy Sonnanstine
S: Francisco Cordero

Game 2:
The 2nd game of the series was expected to be quite a pitching matchup featuring Jeremy Bonderman for the Knights vs. Mark Buehrle of the Goldens. To the contrary, both starters were roughed up severely and neither figured in the decision in what was the wildest game of the homestand. The Knights exploded early with 3 runs in the 1st, 1 in the 2nd, and a whopping 7 runs in the 4th to knock out Mark Buehrle who gave up a total of 11 runs (9 earned) on 11 hits & 3 walks. He left the game losing 9-3 after letting 7 consecutive Knights batters reach base in the top of the 4th without recording an out. Amazingly, once rookie sensation Kevin Hart entered the game relieving Buehrle, the Knights did not get another hit until the 8th inning. On the other side, as soon as the Knights went ice cold, the Goldens went to work to erase the 8-run deficit by scoring 17 consecutive runs from the 4th inning on. The Goldens sent 11 men to the plate in the bottom of the 5th to score 7 runs of their own off Bonderman and Chad Durbin in relief, and they never looked back as they scored 3 more in the 6th, 2 in the 7th, and 4 in the 8th. Sierra Nevada had a season high 20 runs on 23 hits & scored in every inning except the 2nd, the only 1-2-3 inning. Kevin Hart was excellent in relief of Buehrle, going 4 innings with 4 walks and 4 K’s to earn the win. For the 2nd straight game, Josh Anderson had a big night. Today he was 5 for 6 with 4 runs & 2 RBI’s. Jermaine Dye had a solid game going 2 for 4 with a walk, a double, a homerun, and 4 RBI’s. DH Adam Dunn was 3 for 4 with 2 doubles & 2 RBI’s. Bengie Molina went 4 for 6 with 4 runs, a homerun, and 2 RBI’s. Every starter for the Goldens had at least 1 hit.

Knights: 3 1 0 7 0 0 0 0 0 - 11 14 1
Goldens: 1 0 2 1 7 3 2 4 X - 20 23 3

W: Kevin Hart
L: Chad Durbin

Game 3:
This matchup proved to be the closest of the series, but the Goldens overcame an early & a late lead to win 5-4 in their 3rd come-from-behind win of the series. The Knights’ Jered Weaver started against the Goldens’ Aaron Harang & both made it into the 7th inning before departing. Weaver left the game leading 4-3 and was stingy giving up only single runs in the 1st, 2nd, & 5th innings on 9 hits and 7 strikeouts. He walked 1 and did not allow a homer. Harang battled him tough giving up 4 earned runs on 6 hits and a walk thru 6+ innings.

The Knights started quickly once again as the first three batters of the game got hits and two of them scored. Coco Crisp led off the 2nd inning with a triple and scored on the Knights’ 2nd sac fly in as many innings jumping out to a 3-1 early lead. The Goldens tied the game at 3 in the 5th as Aaron Miles, Josh Anderson, & rookie David Murphy hit 3 consecutive singles off Weaver. In the 7th, the Knights took a 4-3 lead with a double from Eric Chavez off starter Aaron Harang followed by a single from Adam Lind two outs later off of young phenom Carlos Marmol. The Goldens completed their thrilling 5-4 comeback with 2 runs in the bottom of the 8th when Edgar Renteria led off the inning with a pinch-hit single off Ron Flores, stole 2nd, & scored on a double by Dan Uggla. Matt Herges then came in to relieve Flores and was greeted with the game-winning pinch-hit double by Hank Blalock. Francisco Cordero saved the game after loading up the bases on a single and 2 walks in the top of the ninth. Rookies Josh Anderson and David Murphy each had 2 hits and an RBI at the top of the lineup for the Goldens.

Knights: 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 - 4 10 0
Goldens: 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 2 X - 5 12 0

W: Kevin Hart
L: Ron Flores
S: Francisco Cordero

Game 4:
The series finale featured the SoCal Knights’ Shaun Marcum against the Sierra Nevada Goldens’ Gil Meche. The Knights scored in the 1st inning for the 4th straight game, this time on a grand slam from rookie catcher J.R. Towles, his first career homer. The Goldens cut the lead in half with a 2-run homerun by Adam Dunn in the 3rd, but Meche gave up a solo shot to Adam Lind in the 4th knocking him out of the game losing 5-2 on 8 hits in 4 1/3 innings for another ineffective Goldens start. The Knights extended the lead to 7-2 in the 6th when Brian Fuentes surrendered a 2-run double to Michael Young.

Entering the bottom of the 6th, it appeared that the Knights would finally be safe with a 5-run lead, but Jermaine Dye crushed a 2-run homer in the bottom of the 6th off Marcum and he left with a now 7-4 lead. In the 7th, pinch hitter Conor Jackson touched up reliever Chad Durbin with a double with two men on and scored when right fielder Andre Ethier misplayed his ball into a two-base error to tie the game! The Goldens scored 3 runs in the bottom of the 8th to give them their 1st lead of the game and the margin of victory on an error by Knights shortstop Michael Young & a clutch 2-run double by Goldens rookie first baseman, Joe Koshansky. It was his first hit in his first major league at bat. Francisco Cordero earned his 3rd save of the series with Kendry Morales representing the tying run at the plate in the 9th.

Knights: 4 0 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 - 7 14 2
Goldens: 0 0 2 0 0 2 3 3 X - 10 14 1

W: Carlos Marmol
L: Chad Durbin
S: Francisco Cordero

Goldens Win 2 of 3 vs. Duluth-Superior in Fight for Division Crown

Game 1:
The series opener gave the Goldens their 5th consecutive comeback victory in as many games on the current homestand. This time is was the Dukes who took the brunt of the Goldens opportunistic ways as they overcame a 2-run lead in the bottom of the 8th and a 1-run lead in the 12th to win the game. The game featured Dukes’ starter Erik Bedard against the Goldens’ Josh Beckett. Each starter allowed a solo homerun. Bedard allowed 2 earned runs in 5 innings while striking out 6 and left the game winning 2-1. Beckett had it a little tougher as he battled through 6 1/3 innings, allowing 8 hits while fanning 2 batters. The heroes of the day started to appear in the bottom of the 8th as the Goldens overcame a 2-run deficit with solo blasts from Jose Guillen & Dan Uggla (his 2nd of the day) which led to extra innings. In the top of the 12th, it appeared the Dukes scored the eventual winning run when Jamey Carroll hit a 1-out triple and scored on a Heath Bell wild pitch. But in the bottom half trailing 5-4, the Goldens rallied back with leadoff pinch-hit double by Carlos Beltran. Josh Anderson then singled Beltran to 3rd & then Adam Dunn walked to load the bases. Pinch-hitter Hank Blalock then hit a sac fly to tie it at 5. Aaron Miles then came in to pinch-hit for Jermaine Dye and won the game on a single for a thrilling victory.

Dukes: 0 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 - 5 11 0
Goldens: 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 2 - 6 14 1

W: Heath Bell
L: Joe Nathan

Game 2:
The Goldens won their 2nd game in as many nights as the race for the Copper Division crown got even tighter. Sierra Nevada knocked Duluth-Superior starter Brad Penny out of the game after only 2 2/3 innings who gave up 5 runs on 5 hits with 3 walks. The big blow came in the bottom of the 3rd as Penny surrendered 4 runs on 3 RBI doubles to David Murphy, Adam Dunn, & Dan Uggla and a bases loaded walk to Bengie Molina. Mark Buehrle pitched a strong 6 2/3 innings for the Goldens and left the game with a sizable 8-3 lead. The Goldens bullpen was good enough behind the arms of Heath Bell & Carlos Marmol and won the game easily 11-6. Bengie Molina had a big day for Sierra Nevada going 2 for 3 with a double, a homerun, and 3 RBI’s. Conor Jackson also chipped in with 3 RBI’s on a bases loaded triple in the bottom of the 7th with 2 outs to put the game out of reach.

Dukes: 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 3 - 6 10 0
Goldens: 0 1 4 1 2 0 3 0 X - 11 12 1

W: Mark Buehrle
L: Brad Penny

Game 3:
The Duluth-Superior Dukes avoided the series sweep with an amazing pitching performance where the Goldens barely made a whimper in a 15-0 shutout. The game featured the Dukes’ Chris Young against the Goldens’ Aaron Harang. Young earned the win on the day and gave up only 3 hits and 4 walks in 5 1/3 while striking out 4. The shut out was carried to the end with solid relief performances by Wes Littleton and Jon Rauch. On the other side, Aaron Harang was torched as he gave up 8 runs on 7 hits & 3 walks in only 3 1/3 innings of work. The finishing blow was a big 3-run homer by Alex Rodriguez in the 4th, an inning where the Dukes piled on 6 runs for a 9-0 lead. The Dukes finished with 15 hits on the day. Alex Rodriguez went 2 for 5 with 4 RBI’s with a double and a homerun. Leadoff man Juan Pierre was 3 for 6 with a double and scored 3 times. Michael Cuddyer also had a big game for the Dukes as he was 2 for 3 with 3 RBI with a double and a homerun.

Dukes: 0 2 1 6 0 3 1 0 2 - 15 15 1
Goldens: 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 0 5 2

W: Chris Young
L: Aaron Harang

Sierra Nevada concludes 2089 Home Schedule Taking 3 of 4 Versus Last Place Phoenix

Game 1:
The Goldens suffered their 2nd consecutive shutout on the homestand, this time to the Phoenix Phoenix in the series opener. Phoenix’s Josh Fogg went the distance in a complete game as he gave up only 4 hits and 3 walks while striking out 8 in a 5-0 victory. Sierra Nevada’s Gil Meche was roughed up for 5 runs on 9 hits in 6 innings of work. The Phoenix had a balanced attack with 10 his. Kenny Lofton had 2 hits, including a triple, 1-run, and an RBI.

Phoenix: 1 0 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 - 5 10 0
Goldens: 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 0 4 0

W: Josh Fogg
L: Gil Meche

Game 2:
The Goldens jumped over Phoenix starter Jason Schmidt early en route to an easy 8-2 victory behind the arm of Orlando Hernandez who pitched a solid 5 innings for the win. Schmidt’s demise came in the 4th as the Goldens pounded out two singles and two doubles and two stolen bases in the 5-run inning. Schmidt left the game after 3 1/3 and was charged with 6 runs on 8 hits and walked 4. The Goldens pitching was solid behind Hernandez, Brian Fuentes, and Heath Bell, giving up only 2 solo homers to Kenny Lofton & Garret Anderson in the 6th. For the Goldens, Conor Jackson led the charge going 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI & scored twice. David Murphy & Jermaine Dye also produced with a double apiece and 2 RBI’s each. The game was never in doubt after the Goldens led 7-0 after 4 innings.

Phoenix: 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 - 2 4 2
Goldens: 1 1 0 5 0 0 0 1 X - 8 11 0

W: Orlando Hernandez
L: Jason Schmidt

Game 3:
For the second straight game, the Goldens jumped out to an early lead as Aaron Harang pitched a gutsy 10-4 complete game victory. Matt Chico took the loss for the Phoenix as he gave up 9 runs on 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings of work. The Goldens scored 4 in the first inning on 3 singles from the top of the lineup, followed by a 2-run homer by Dan Uggla who finished with 3 RBI’s on the day. Rookie David Murphy had a big day going 4 for 5 with a double, a triple, and an RBI & scored 4 times! Jermaine Dye had his second straight big game going 3 for 3 with a homerun, 2 RBI’s, and scored twice. Harang struck out 12 for the Goldens in the 9 innings as he walked only 1 batter and spread out 9 hits. The only Phoenix threats came in the 2nd and 4th innings as they scored 2 runs in each frame to keep the game close until the Goldens broke the game open in the 5th with a pair of runs for an 8-4 lead.

Phoenix: 0 2 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 - 4 9 2
Goldens: 4 0 2 0 2 1 1 0 X - 10 12 0

W: Aaron Harang
L: Matt Chico

Game 4:
The Goldens defeated the Phoenix Phoenix for the 3rd straight game to win the series 4-1. Today’s game saw a matchup of Phoenix’s Josh Towers against Goldens’ rookie Juan Gutierrez, making his 1st big league start. Gutierrez was very impressive pitching 7+ innings while striking out 5 in hitter friendly Great American Ballpark. Gutierrez pitched 7 innings of 3-hit ball until he gave up a solo shot to Jason Smith to lead off the 8th. Fuentes preserved the victory for the youngster with 2 perfect innings while striking out 3. Sierra Nevada jumped out to a 1st inning lead for the 3rd straight game as rookie David Murphy remained hot with a 2-run bomb and finished 3 for 4 with 3 RBI’s and added a double. Jim Thome and Jermaine Dye also added a homerun each in the 7-1 victory.

Phoenix: 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 - 1 4 0
Goldens: 2 0 0 1 0 1 1 2 X - 7 11 0

W: Juan Gutierrez
L: Josh Towers

The Goldens completed their best homestand of the year going 9-2. The upcoming road trip figures to be very exciting as they continue to hunt down the division leading Dukes. The division figures to be settled during a 4-game set at Duluth-Superior in the middle of the trip.