Thursday, December 09, 2010

Sierra Nevada Goldens Jump Out to Copper Division Lead

After winning the BRASS Copper Division crown in 2090, the Sierra Nevada Goldens are on their way to repeat as division champs in 2101. At the season’s midway point, and three winning months in the books, Sierra Nevada has a (46-38) record and holds an 8-game lead over the rival SoCal Knights (38-46) and a 9-game lead over the 3rd place Duluth-Superior Dukes (37-47). The Goldens are not on pace to match the magical 102-win season of 2090, but they have been pretty competitive to this point earning a series win in 8 of 12 chances versus the Gold League. The Goldens have held at least a tie for 1st in the Copper for all but 3 days since May 1st.

Sierra Nevada lost some key players from the 2090 roster as long-in-the-tooth veterans Jermaine Dye, Jason Giambi, and Edgar Renteria were bid farewell. Along with current infielders Adam Dunn and Dan Uggla, this core took the powerhouse San Jose Scorpions to 7-Games in last year’s Divisional Playoff Series. Looking to avenge last season’s heartbreaking playoff series after taking a 3-Games to None lead, the Goldens have gotten a bit younger and speedier. Rookie of the Year candidate Elvis Andrus is having an outstanding start to the season batting 2nd in the lineup. In 75 games, he is hitting .298 to lead the team, has scored 41 runs, and stolen 20 of 27 bases while exhibiting great range at 2B. The Goldens filled a lingering hole in CF with an off-season trade when they acquired Curtis Granderson. While leading off, Granderson is having a great season to date. From the leadoff spot, he has a respectable .371 OBP with 46 Runs and .290 BA, 11 HR, 31 RBI. After a slow start to the season, Adam Dunn & Dan Uggla heated up a bit in June in the #3 & #4 spots in the order. With a combined 40-Doubles, 29 HR’s, and 100 RBI thus far, the manager expects them to start thumping homers at a higher clip as the season enters the dog days. Perhaps the MVP of the team so far is another player acquired via off-season trade, J.D. Drew. The right fielder has batted in the 5-hole all season and has produced with some nice numbers, .287 BA, 15 HR, 52 RBI. The trio of Dunn, Uggla, and Drew figure to be a formidable bunch in the heart of the order for the rest of the season and it will be fun to see of any of them can reach 35-40 HR’s by the end of the season. Another key offensive contributor had been youngster David Murphy who has had a breakout season in the outfield with a .289 BA, 13 HR, 38 RBI.

The Goldens have had a pretty successful season so far with the bat, scoring just enough to win close games. While they have only been shutout twice and scored only 1 run on three occasions, most games have been very tight with 4, 5, or 6 runs being scored from each side. Sierra Nevada is 14-5 in one-run games and 9-1 in extra-innings in 2101. With both the starters and bullpen both putting up nearly identical ERA’s of about 4.17, the late-inning guys have been getting the job done most consistently. Heath Bell 2-0, 8 SV, 1.91 ERA and Carlos Marmol 3-1, 10 SV, 3.66 ERA have been slamming the door closed on the opposition with the game on the line. As for the starters, Josh Beckett leads the staff with 8 Wins thanks to the best run support of all the starters, but a disappointing 4.78 ERA, 4 losses, and a whopping 19 HR’s allowed. Offseason trade acquisition Jason Marquis has been even better than his 7-3 record would indicate with a 2.40 ERA despite calling Great American Ballpark home. Young lefty Brian Anderson may also be earning some attention in the Rookie of the Year chase while he sports a 7-5 record with a 3.51 ERA in his 17 starts.

The Sierra Nevada Goldens will be looking for some improvement offensively from the likes of Yadier Molina, Mike Lowell, and Ryan Theriot as the season goes on. If they can heat up, along with Dunn and Uggla, Sierra Nevada should be hoisting its 2nd Copper Division Championship in as many seasons in a few short months.

Monday, June 21, 2010

2010 Draft Review

Here's my second annual draft review. Like last year, I'll say something about each first-round pick separately, followed by a synopsis of each team's draft in the second round and later. Like last year, I won't always be kind, but I also won't hold myself out as any kind of expert.

I'd say this year's talent pool was more than a little better than last year's. That's partly hindsight; a year from now, I'm sure some of this year's first-rounders will look as bad as Jordan Schafer, Jose Arredondo, Jody Gerut, Lou Marson, Greg Smith, and some other firsts from last year do now. But also, one of my beliefs about drafting is that you don't take a relief pitcher early unless he's just absolutely lights-out, is expected to develop into a starter, or there just aren't any decent position prospects available. This year there was just one pure reliever taken in the first round, Andrew Bailey. (Jennry Mejia hasn't started yet in the majors, but he's expected to eventually.) Last year there were five.

The first-rounders:

1. Everth Cabrera, Sarasota - I hate to start on such a negative note, but this has to be the worst choice I've ever seen for a #1 overall pick. He's a Rule 5 pick who was playing over his head last year and has come down to Earth with a resounding thud. Granted, he's got the best shortstop card in the pool, the Gators needed a shortstop (Jack Wilson can't do it alone) and with no more picks until the fourth round they'd lose Cabrera if they waited. But the #1 pick in the draft could have been traded for a better shortstop than this, or traded down to a middle-to-late first-round pick which would still have gotten him.

2. Desmond Jennings, Hoth - Certainly has to be in the discussion of who would have been the best choice for the first pick. Jennings was second to the top position player on Baseball America's top 100 prospects list not already owned by a BRASS team (behind Jesus Montero, but a catching prospect comes with a bit more downside), and position players are less risky than pitchers.

3. Mat Latos, Chuckanut Bay - This would have been my choice for #1. He's a pitcher, but the risk is much mitigated by the fact that he's in a major league rotation and pitching very well. And he doesn't tie up an AM spot like Jennings does.

4. Dustin Ackley, Duluth-Superior - Mike's comment with this pick was, "Seriously, did you think I'd take anyone else?" I won't say this is a bad pick, but seriously, I'd have gone for Montero or Starlin Castro instead. If Ackley doesn't stick at another position and has to come to the majors as a first baseman, his value is much diminished in BRASS.

5. Casey McGehee, Sugar Creek - Could have been picked first without raising my eyebrows. He's older than you'd like, and wasn't highly rated when he came up, but he's got the best card in the pool with the possible exception of Garrett Jones, and is following it up with an even better year so far. It would be nice if the Brewers would restore his positional flexibility instead of confining him to 3B as they have so far this year.

6. Starlin Castro, Plainsfield - Behind Jennings, Ackley and Montero on the BA list, but the fact that he's up and hitting major league pitching at age 20 pushes him ahead of all of them in my opinion. And Kevin's track record suggests that you disagree with his evaluations at your peril.

7. Brian Matusz, Andover - Not a lot to choose between him and Latos--except that Matusz is lefthanded and has been getting hammered lately.

8. Andrew Bailey, Great Kills - You normally wouldn't want to take a reliever this soon, but what a card! And he's doing it again this year.

9. Ike Davis, Green Bay - I don't think I'd have taken him this high. Granted he's a major-league regular and hitting well, but first basemen are greatly devalued in a non-DH league.

10. Domonic Brown, Colorado - This is the pick I traded to get Yunel Escobar. If I'd kept it, I'd probably have gone for Montero, but Brown's a close second. They're the top two on the BA list at this point.

11. Aroldis Chapman, Diamond - His ceiling might be higher than anyone else in this draft; as a triple-digits lefty, he could be the next Randy Johnson. He could also be the next Steve Dalkowski, though that's less likely.

12. Daniel Hudson, Meridian - Way down (#66) on the BA list, and hasn't pitched in the majors yet this year. But everyone higher on the list who was still available would use up an AM slot. I suppose he's not a terrible choice if you're determined to take a flyer on a pitcher, but I'd have gone for Randy Wells, who has a good year in the bank and has a pretty good lock on a rotation spot, even though he's hit a bad patch of late.

13. Jesus Montero, Washington Crossing - As I've already suggested, I think he should have gone sooner. The only downside is that if he can't stay behind the plate he becomes another 1B-DH type, and thus a drug on the market in BRASS. (Well, that and the fact that he's off to a terrible start this year.) But if he can catch half a dozen games a year for the Yankees while smoking the ball at 1B and DH the rest of the time, he becomes an All-Star catcher in BRASS, playing 150 games a year at the position.

14. Martin Perez, Diamond - The top name on the BA list at this point, but that list was made before Mike Leake came up and dominated. I think if you're going to take an AM pitcher here, it's got to be Leake.

15. Randy Wells, Ashland - A young pitcher with a good card, enough innings for 25 starts, and a rotation job? In a BRASS draft pool? Damn right you take him here, and give thanks to all the baseball gods that he fell this far.

16. Jhoulys Chacin, SoCal - Only #71 on the BA list, but I think he was the highest rated player at this point who was carded, and Scott didn't want another AM pitcher. Can't give you a real reason why, but I have a "next Ubaldo" feeling about him.

17. Kris Medlen, Columbia - Might turn out to be a real good sleeper pick and make up for missing out on Chacin. He's in the rotation and pitching real well, with K/BB rates which suggest it's sustainable. If he goes back to the bullpen, though, it's kind of a waste. Interestingly, he had a strong reverse platoon split last year, and so far is keeping it up.

18. Doug Fister, Sugar Creek - Like Medlen, except that Fister's K rate doesn't bode well for success going forward. On the other hand, he seems a lock to stay in the rotation all year (barring injury, of course).

19. Mike Leake, Great Kills - Love this pick. The season's young, and the NL could catch up with Leake and turn it into a waste, but so far so great. And even if he posted, say, a 5.00 ERA the rest of the way, his season line would still be right around 4. His strikeout and walk rates aren't all that, but they're not bad either.

20. Kyle Drabek, Montgomery County - Not the top BA prospect available at this point, but very close, and much closer to being ready than those above him. That's important. This is actually the second time Rob drafted Drabek.

21. Bryce Harper, Chuckanut Bay - Not on the BA list--not even drafted as I write this--but the potential is obvious. Tony actually thought about taking Harper with the #2 pick instead of Jennings, and somebody was going to take a first-round flyer. The only thing is, even if nothing happens to derail his career, he's going to tie up an AM slot for years.

22. Ian Desmond, Duluth-Superior - Probably won't ever be an All-Star, unless Strasburg is hurt one year and they need somebody to fill the Nationals' quota. But nobody else available at this point is an established major-league shortstop. And the high-upside longshot bin has been pretty well picked over.

23. Garrett Jones, Ashland - Carded players of this quality usually go much higher in a BRASS draft than in my summer league, because in that league the pool hasn't been diluted by removing previous years' uncardeds. (19 of the 24 players in that league's 2010 first round were already owned by BRASS teams.) But Jones went 20th, three slots higher than here. I believe this is explained by the DH rule; in BRASS, there are 24 fewer lineup slots available for a player like this.

24. Jenry Mejia, Montreal - We're getting to the point where no player clearly stands out, and an argument can be made for any of several, but I'm having a hard time seeing it for this one. Sure, he was the Mets' top prospect going into the season, but isn't that kind of like being the smartest kid on the short bus? He's well down the overall BA list, he's not pitching all that well or much, and it'll take a lot of minor-league seasoning before he's a useful starter--and if he's not that, he's not worth a first-round pick. At least he'll be carded next year, so he won't tie up an AM slot.

The rest of the draft, by team:

Andover (Bernadina, Carillo, D. Gordon, Hayhurst, D. McCutchen, R. Perry, Runzler, Saunders; reclaimed Milledge and Thames) - Past the first round, you can get guys who are moderately useful now, or who have a chance to be somewhat more so later. Andover went for the future straight down the line. Bernardina's ceiling is probably somewhere between fourth outfielder and platoon stopgap, but Saunders is supposed to become a regular. Gordon (AM) rates behind several other position players who weren't taken, but he's a shortstop, which is a consideration for a team which will need one pretty soon. The pitchers. . . well, they're pitchers. Law of averages says one or two of them will stick around long enough to get a U contract.

Ashland (O'Flaherty, Pagan, Scheppers, Storen, S. White; reclaimed Garciaparra, K. Greene, Hampton, Loretta, K. Wood) - Ashland, having gotten two first-rounders who are useful now, went for more of the same, except of course for the AMs. Even those are in the majors now, so their slots will be cleared for action next year. With their extra picks, the Penguins were all done by round 4 except for reclaiming free agents.

Chuckanut Bay (Avila, Blanks, J. Francisco, N. Green, Maloney, Reddick; reclaimed Batista, Burrell and Lugo) - On top of their two first-rounders, the Tubas got some serious upside potential here. Blanks would have been a first-rounder if he'd gotten off to any kind of start this year, Avila quite possibly the same, and I've got a Mike Greenwell feeling about Reddick. Lugo. . . I look at his contract and wonder: was there really a moment in history when it seemed sane to give him five years and $36 million? That didn't happen on Dave's watch; it was either Ben Gauthier or one of the revolving-door cast who played hot potato with the franchise until Dave came along.

Columbia (Axford, Buckner, Coghlan, A. Huff, Kearns, West; reclaimed Atkins, O. Perez, Wang) - Like Blanks, Coghlan's poor MLB start cost him a first-round position. The 2B rating Strat gave him, despite only one game there, saved him from dropping much farther, because without it he'd be a DH in a non-DH league. Kearns could be a real find if he's actually come out of his three-year funk. Problem is, you have to get your bet down (in the form of a multi-year contract) before you know how long this phase of his career will last. And the upside limit is two full good years (plus his current card, which is nothing special) before he becomes a URFA, unless you give him an A contract.

Cream City (D. Bush, Carp, Coste, M. Downs, Fisher, C. Guzman, Jacobs, Keppel, Nieve, O'Sullivan, M. Palmer, Parra, Petit, Scales, C. Sullivan, M. Valdez, V. Vazquez) - The Pirates came into the draft with lots of holes, no picks in the first two rounds, and no manager. Vaughn drafted for them, and seemed to go mostly for stopgaps to allow a team to be fielded for 162 games. I think he went a little overboard on pitchers; they ended the draft with 24 of them, with over 1800 innings among them. At the end, when I was drafting for them, I took Scales and Sullivan because they only had three other guys with an OF rating.
Dayton (Norris, H. Rodriguez, Sipp, Thole, N. Walker; reclaimed Delgado, Kuroda, C. Wade) - Holding our draft a month later than we did last year made a big difference to some players. I've already mentioned some who fell because of poor starts, but there were also those whose stock rose considerably. Perhaps none more so than Walker, a bonus round pick who a month earlier would have been taken near the end, if at all. In my summer league draft (held in February) I got him in the ninth round.

Diamond (Belisario, Bulger, Clippard, Colvin, Gregerson, Hawksworth, Medders, A. Ojeda, Thatcher, E. Vazquez) - This draft was all about pitching for Vaughn no matter what team he was picking for. Note that both his first-round picks were AM pitchers. If you want to know where all the innings are this year, look no further than Diamond and Cream CIty. Vaughn had the only compensation pick this year; I forget who he lost to get it, but Gregerson is making it look like a great deal.

Duluth-Superior (Alfonzo, Geer, Griffey, D, Huff, A. Moore, Morse, C. Patterson, Stammen, Stokes, Sutton, J. Vargas, R. Vazquez, R. Webb, Jo. Wilson, Delwyn Young) - The early picks all aimed at improving the starting rotation, with mixed results: Vargas is doing well, Huff is still in a rotation but doing poorly, and Stammen just got sent down to make room for Strasburg. Moore has as good a shot as anyone to be the Mariners' catcher for awhile down the road, and meanwhile Alfonzo has his spot.

Great Kills (Bergmann, B. Carroll, J. Castro, Dickey, C. Duncan, French, D. Hernandez, Jaramillo, Kendrick; reclaimed DeJesus, W. Harris, Madson, Sowers, N. Robertson, B. Webb) - Nothing in the second or third round, and flotsam after that. A real shame about Webb--a year and a half already down the drain, at $20 mil a year.

Green Bay (Bergesen, Duensing, Hu, Lawrie, Manzella, Meek, Jo. Morales, Mujica, L. Powell, Sampson, Stavinoha) - A good balance of future and present value, which was Bob's plan. Bergesen isn't doing as well as one would hope for this year, but Duensing is doing much better. I think Powell is established as a backup catcher; once he runs out of options, the A's will stop jerking him around like they are this year. Manzella and/or Hu might develop at the plate enough to have an Adam Everett career; stranger things have happened. Lawrie (AM) probably could have been had later than the third round, but Bob wanted to make sure he got him for his Brewers connection. There are worse reasons.

Hoth (J. Fox, LeBlanc, Matzek, Narveson; reclaimed Garko, J. Hairston, Lidge, P. Martinez, Villanueva, C. Young, Zambrano) - The Rebs certainly had quantity going into the draft--they protected their full quota of 30 and still had 8 left over. So after grabbing three cards and their second AM, it was all reclaims. Any or all of the carded guys could stick around long enough to get U contracts, though only LeBlanc is distinguishing himself this year. Matzek (AM) was close to the top player available on the BA list at the time, but Tony might have been better advised to drop down to someone closer to being ready.

Inyo (T. Abreu, M. Adams, Fulchino, Hicks, Kilby, Ni, D. Ross, Ryal, Schlereth, A. Torres, Westmoreland) - I had no picks until late in round 2; they were dealt to bolster my upcoming pennant run. (After what I gave up, and the money I spent in free agency, anything less than a division title will be a severe disappointment.) Torres, Adams, Ross and Fulchino were drafted for the same purpose; the fact that Torres and Adams are kicking butt this year is a bonus. I wonder if the league knows something about Hicks (AM) that I don't; he was out there for a long time as the top player available on the BA list. Westmoreland was tops on that list when I finally got around to filling my other AM slot, but I probably should have taken the same advice I just gave Tony. Right now I'm kicking myself for not using the spot on John Jaso. Ni is a sentimental pick; his surname is the same as that of an ex-girlfriend I remember fondly.

Meridian (Allen, Cecil, F. Garcia, Gwynn, D. McDonald, R. Pena, Santos, Simon, Takahashi, M. Taylor) - Cecil's looking good, and Taylor is as good a bet as any AM past the first round. Quite a few analysts thought the Padres got hosed when they traded Jody Gerut for Gwynn, but even as poorly as Gwynn is doing this year, he's still miles ahead of Gerut. McDonald's no prospect, but it looks like he'll provide more than the moderately useful platoon card he has this year.

Montgomery County (A. Arias, J. Arias, R. Castro, Evans, E. Gonzalez, Inge, J. Johnson, Marte, B. Pena; reclaimed Kazmir, F. Rodriguez) - Another team with a big gap between the first round and the rest. These were used to fill a couple of holes, take a flyer on a few longshots, and pull back the albatross contracts that nobody would take off their hands.

Montreal (J. Flores, Litsch, Melancon, Poreda, Tazawa, Veal) - Yet another thin draft, with no second-round or bonus pick. Dan took all pitchers except for Flores (a catcher), so it's a crapshoot. None of these guys is exactly setting the world on fire this year so far.

Phoenix (J. Anderson, L. Cruz, Freeman, Giminez, T. Greene, Hart, Di. Hernandez, Mi. Hernandez, S. Jackson, Loux, MacDougal, A. Romero, L. Rosales, C. Smith, Stubbs) - I'm rooting for Smith; not only do I have him on my other Strat team, but he comes from Apple Valley CA, which is just down the hill from where I live. Stubbs is a regular, if not exactly a star. Freeman was a strange pick; if you're going to take an AM first baseman, why not Chris Carter?

Plainsfield (Bastardo, Belisle, T. Bell, Frieri, Joaquin, C. Johnson, Kottaras, B. Mills, Montgonery, W. Ramirez, D. Robertson, E. Rogers, Stauffer, Stevens, R. Tejeda, Zavada) - Stauffer was lights-out when picked, but has since been hurt. Even when he comes back, his track record makes him a prime candidate to regress. The rest of these guys, picked in the fourth and later rounds, represent the spaghetti approach to building a pitching staff: throw a plateful at the wall and hope a few strands stick.

San Jose (Cashner, S. Casilla, Condrey, Hacker, Heisey, D. Mathis, E. Patterson, R. Roberts, R. Ruiz, Rzepczynski; reclaimed R. Johnson, Hafner, Westbrook) - Good call on Cashner; he hadn't been called up yet when the pick was made, but has been lights-out since (admittedly in a very limited sample). We really need Rzepczynski to make it back, now that it looks like Jeff Samardzija has washed out. With Ruiz gone to Japan, it's a shame that all our rules allow him is an M0 contract and one month's play. The Scorps ought to be able to at least switch him to MTM.

Sarasota (G. Brown, R. Diaz, Durango, F. Guzman, B. Hayes, Hester, J. Molina, Putz, Rios, Teheran, Wise) - I really don't understand the Gary Brown pick. When you only have two AM slots, why use one of them on a guy who hasn't played an inning of pro ball unless he's a totally outsized talent like Strasburg or Harper? In the MLB draft, 22 players besides Harper were chosen ahead of Brown; you do the math. If Rios keeps hitting the way he is this year, he'll probably turn out to be the best value for the money the Gators got in this draft, even with the $10 mil they have to pay for this year's useless card.

Sierra Nevada (Aubrey, Bonine, Crowe, Ely, Everidge, Fuld, Gervacio, K. Gibson, Jakubauskas, D. Richardson, Uehara, Whiteside) - Another team which traded its first round pick and others for more immediate help, but at least they had two seconds. With these they took a couple of AM pitchers, Gibson and Ely, who figure to bolster the rotation sooner than later. Crowe, the third-round pick, was what they had to settle for in CF, as the better prospects were gone. The rest will either fill small roles this year or provide some small hope for the future. Bonine is doing amazingly well in MLB for a 12th-round pick, but his K rate and past scouting reports say he'll turn back into a pumpkin.

SoCal (Barden, A. Blanco, Bruntlett, Z. Cox, Frandsen, Karstens, Lehr, Mitre, W. Nieves, Paul, Thurston) - As mentioned earlier, Scott didn't want another AM pitcher. Since the top hitting prospects were gone by the time his next pick came around, he decided to take a flyer on the best available bat in the MLB draft class, which he figured was Cox. MLB teams, however, didn't seem to agree, taking 11 position players (not counting Harper and Gary Brown) ahead of Cox. Frandsen seems headed for one of those freak years bench players sometimes have, where they go on a 100-AB hot streak which constitutes their whole season. The rest of these guys were picked to fill usage holes.

Southtown (Albers, Bard, Berken, Borbon, Chen, E. Gonzalez, Hanrahan, C. Kelly, J.D. Martin, J. McDonald; reclaimed Bako, Colon, Cruz, A. Jones, C. Lee, J.C. Romero) - No first-round pick, but Bard is likely to turn in a better career than many of those who were taken there. Borbon probably would have gone earlier than round 3 if the draft had been held in April, or if it were held now. Carlos Lee was passed around like a hot potato in pre-draft trades; two different teams offered him to me. Between his fielding rating, his contract and no DH, he's a liability.

Sugar Creek (M. Boggs, Brantley, R. Chavez, Daley, Freese, Gload, J. Jennings, Kelley, Lillibridge, Perdomo, Mi. Sweeney, C. Tracy, P.J. Walters, Young Jr.) - Freese and the two first-round picks should really pay off next year. Age and other factors don't bode well for much beyond that, but Brantley and Young could help in that department.

Washington Crossing (Andino, Si. Castro, Crain, Flowers, D. Reyes, O. Salazar, Sanches, Silva; reclaimed D. Marte, J. Miller, Wigginton) - If he doesn't collapse, Silva is a great value even for a U contract, and Salazar is about the best platoon partner you could imagine for Lance Berkman. Down the road, I don't see much coming out of this draft except Flowers.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Sierra Nevada Goldens Draft Review

Sierra Nevada really went for it in 2090 and was left without a 1st Round, a Bonus Round, a 4th Round, or a 7th Round pick in the 2101 Draft. We had 2 empty AM slots as well, since we graduated Elvis Andrus and Brett Anderson this year. Going into the 2101 season, we were in the need of CF depth, 1B depth, and needed to fill in about 150+ innings in the middle of the rotation to follow Beckett and Anderson . Looking forward to the 2112 season based on 2010 MLB performances thus far, we can determine that SP is our BIGGEST need with Beckett having a miserable start and Anderson on the DL early. The philosophy going in was to select 2 AM pitchers in the 2nd round that could make the rotation sometime between 2112 & 2123.

Pick 1, Round 2: Kyle Gibson (SP/AM) - We are THRILLED with this pick and both happy and surprised he dropped to us. A true, groundball pitcher is exactly what we need, playing in Great American Ballpark. He figures to put up good numbers in pitcher friendly Target Field once he reaches the Twins. Also, he is dominating AA ball as we speak. He has a 1.68 ERA in the minors this season, with a .211 BAA in 69 IP. His GO/AO ratio in currently 3.48. Many had him as the best pitcher in the MLB draft behind Strasburg.

Pick 2, Round 2: John Ely (SP/AM) - This pick made sense for us because he is already contributing to the Dodgers starting rotation and will help the Goldens in 2112. While I think we may have been able to get him in a later round, we did not want to risk seeing him go to another club, especially in our own division. While Ely may be obscure to many around the country, living in Los Angeles & watching Dodger Games every night, I see this guy pitch and he is SOLID! I know my rivals, the SoCal Knights & Phoenix Phoenix, get a lot of visibility to him, and it seems Duluth-Superior gets his share of Dodgers players as well. While watching him pitch thus far, he is very composed and really locates and hits his spots well and is holding an ERA at 2.54 and a WHIP of .91 thru 7 starts. His ceiling may not be top of the rotation SP, but he looks to me like a Greg Maddux the way he can hit spots, change speeds, and not walk batters. Plus he pitches at friendly Dodger Stadium which will help us out when he plays for the Goldens at Great American.

Pick 3, Round 3: Trevor Crowe (CF) - At this point, we were looking to do SOMETHING in CF. We were a little disappointed to see Borbon, Gwynn, & Brantley get picked ahead of us, so we made the best of the situation. With Borbon and Gwynn struggling an in CF in 2010 so far, maybe we will end up with the right guy in Crowe anyway. Crowe is struggling himself, but at least he's leading off and playing a regular CF with Sizemore on the shelf. Plus, Sizemore could get traded, leaving an opportunity for Crowe if he can seize it. We like that he switch hits, too.

Pick 4, Round 5: Koji Uehara (SP) - He gives us a solid 67 IP to help fill the #3 slot in the rotation in 2101. He's aged and has injury issues, so he is pretty much a stop gap for this particular season.

Pick 5, Round 6: Chris Jakubauskas (SP) - While is ERA in 2009 was 5.32, his BAA of .254 & WHIP of 1.27 are respectable and his 93 IP will help fill the #3-#4 slots in our rotation in 2101. He's a late bloomer, so I'm not sure we expect much from him long-term. Like Uehara, he's filling innings and anything productive long-term would be a bonus. To be honest, we are much happier we got Uehara & CJ than to have picked Josh Geer or Dave Bush who were both picked well ahead of this pair.

Pick 6, Round 8: Sammy Gervacio (RP) - We are happy to get this potential future closer for the Astros. He's ranked #4 in BA for Houston & he will be handy for a September call-up this season, too. He seemed like a good value here. We were a little frustrated at this point as we were going to select a LH Reliever with this pick like, Schlereth or Ni, but they both got nabbed ahead of us. No lefties remaining really caught my eye.

Pick 7, Round 9 & Pick 8, Round 10: Michael Aubrey (1B) & Tommy Everidge (1B) - With Aubrey being LH and Everidge RH, this will be a nice tandum this year to sub for Dunn. Aubrey brings good Range-2 DEF and will kill RH Pitchers in Great American. While neither is getting his shot in the bigs right now, they will provide useful cards in 2101. I have read rumors that Aubrey could get a shot in Baltimore, so we are crossing our fingers. We were a little shocked to get both of these useful bats so late in the draft.

Pick 9, Round 11: Eli Whitside (C) - Simply a backup to Yadier. We really had our eye on Jose Molina, but he got snagged.

Pick 10, Round 12: Eddie Bonine (RP) - SHOCKED he was still here! While his 2009 card is not so hot, the knuckleballer is quietly doing a great job for the Tigers in 2010 posting a 1.79 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, in 25 IP. He should be handy in 2112.

Pick 11, Round 13: Sam Fuld (OF) - Kind of surprised he was sitting here to pick, too. While he will probably never be more than a 4th OF for the Cubs, he has a useful LH vs LH card in 2101. He can play CF, and we needed help there.

Pick 12, Round 14: Dustin Richardson (RP) - It's funny, we had our sights in Trevor Bell of the Angels with this pick, but he got snagged by Plainsfield a few picks prior. Richardson is a lefty and has been doing very well at AAA in 2010 for Pawtucket. Maybe he will be a callup for the Red Sox sometime this year and we will strike gold with our last pick of the draft. He's the Red Sox #27 ranked prospect in BA, and currently has 38 K's in 29 IP and holding opponents to a .158 BAA.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Goldens Clinch Copper Division; Will Face San Jose or Dayton in Divisional Round

After going a perfect (11-0) at home during the month of September, the Sierra Nevada Goldens went (5-6) on the final road-trip, playing just well enough to clinch the Copper Division Crown with a final record of (102-60). The SoCal Knights finished only two games back of the Goldens with a final record of (100-62). After sweeping the September home series vs. SoCal at Great American Ballpark, the Knights looked to return the favor as the Goldens traveled to Nationals Park. Sierra Nevada’s Mark Buehrle made sure that would not happen as he outpitched the Knights’ Clayton Kershaw for the 2nd time in the 8-Game series, this time earning a 3-2 victory. Buehrle battled through the first 5 2/3 innings giving up 2 runs on 6 hits. The Goldens’ hurler got the run support he needed in the top of the 6th when Mike Lowell doubled in two off Kershaw and then Yadier Molina knocked in Lowell during the next at bat. Buchholz, who was acquired at the August trade deadline, did what he was brought in to do as he held the Knights from getting anything going for the next 2 2/3 innings, setting up the save for Brian Fuentes. The win was pivotal for the Goldens as they lost the next three games to the Knights, but won the season series going (5-3) against the division rival. The Knights went on to go (12-2) in the remaining September schedule, while the Goldens went (11-3).
Had the Knights swept Sierra Nevada at home, the teams would have been deadlocked with 101 wins & would have had a series split, causing a 1-game playoff for the division title. But, it was not to be as the Goldens rolled on with their 2nd highest win total in the 19-year franchise history; only the 2056 Happy Valley Heroes were better, going (108-54). The 2056 Happy Valley team was the last to finish atop the Copper Division and was the 3rd Heroes team in 4 seasons to do it, but failed to make it to the BRASS World Series. The Sierra Nevada Goldens finished (92-70) in their inaugural 2089 season, but completed the season 3-games back of the Duluth-Superior Dukes and missed the playoffs. The 2090 season marks only the 4th playoff appearance for the franchise, all of them by way of division title. Between the 1991-1992 and the 2001-2002 seasons, none of the Crescent Hill Cubs (1991-1994), Racine Regals (1995-1996), or Happy Valley Heroes (1997-2007) teams in the franchise’s history were able to make a post-season appearance. But, starting with the 2002-2003 Happy Valley Heroes team, the franchise has won the Copper Division 4 of the past 8 seasons, starting a much better trend while finishing with 93 wins or better 5 times. With the newly found divisional success, the franchise has yet to make the World Series representing the Silver League.
The 2090 Sierra Nevada Goldens team hopes that this will be the first time the franchise gets put on the map and can make it to the BRASS World Series. The team is packed with power throughout the lineup and plays well in their home field, Great American Ballpark, where they set a franchise record for home wins in 2090 with a (60-21) record. The Goldens line-up features a quartet of home-run hitters who combined for 171 bombs in 2090. Silver League MVP candidate Dan Uggla had 48 dingers to go with his .305 batting average and 101 RBI’s. Another MVP candidate, Jermaine Dye hit 38 HR’s, led the team with 113 RBI’s and finished with 39 doubles and a .314 batting average. The two right-handed sluggers are flanked by two big lefty sticks. Adam Dunn slugged 45 homers with 99 RBI’s and walked a whopping 126 times. Veteran Jason Giambi launched 40 HR’s and was 2nd on the Goldens with 106 RBI’s. It was an amazing season to watch three guys top 40 homers in 2090 and Dye just came up two homers short of making it a quartet.
The starting pitching staff of Sierra Nevada is led by veteran left-hander Bark Buehrle who finished the year with a (19-12) record and a 4.60 ERA. Buehrle carried the team at times posting 9 wins and a no-decision from May 2nd thru June 16th and also earned wins in 5 straight appearances in the stretch run from August 27th to September 18th! Josh Beckett, (15-6) with a 4.18 ERA, was equally as dominant at times. Beckett started the season (8-0) with a 3.83 ERA in his first 12 starts and didn’t lose until June 9th against the Platinum Division champion, Diamond Gems (119-43). Gil Meche was a workhorse for the Goldens going (13-9) with a 4.37 ERA in 204 IP. He notably gave left-handed hitters a hard time, holding them to a .238 BA and striking out over 25 percent of the lefties he faced. Meche was up-and down, but down the stretch he was solid, posting a (4-1) record with 3 no-decisions in which the Goldens ultimately won, between August 14th and the end of the season. Meche led the team in complete games with 4 and shut-outs with 2, and his best game may have come in his last start of the season when he threw 10 2/3 innings on 9/22 @ Phoenix as he struck-out 11 batters. He left the game tied and 3 and the Goldens eventually won in 17-Innings as the Sierra Nevada team was still trying to secure the Copper Division title. The 4th pitcher in the playoff rotation will be southpaw, Jamie Moyer. The lefty came over in a trade with the Plainsfield Hitmen at the end of May. Moyer, who came over to the Goldens with a (8-1) record and a 3.10 ERA at the time of the trade, struggled early with his new team. He got injured on a base hit against the 1st batter he faced as a Golden, and went (0-1) with 5 no-decisions breaking in and saw his ERA climb to 4.02 before finally pitching to victory in a 9-2 game vs. Olympia and pitched 8 1/3 innings. Moyer ended up with a (8-6) record as a Golden and posted 5 of those wins between 8/22 and the end of the season. His victory on 9/7 at home vs. SoCal was the highlight of the season and made the trade completely worthwhile. Moyer tossed 8 Innings of 3-hit ball while striking out 4 Knights before turning over the ball to Taylor Buchholz to close the game down.
The Bullpen was the glue that held things together for the Goldens in 2090. As a collective group, the pen posted a (34-12) record with a 2.61 ERA. Opposing hitters only batted .207 against the pen and they struck out nearly 28% of the time. Brian Fuentes earned rock-star status coming in to close games, finishing the season with 33 Saves and a miniscule 1.17 ERA while striking out 71 batters in 61 innings. Fuentes did not earn a loss from June 29th until the end of the season and has a good shot to earn a Fireman of the Year or Cy Young award this year. Taylor Buchholz came over in a trade with the Meridian Trojans at the August 31st trade deadline. Buchholz was amazing in the pennant drive posting a 0.86 ERA in 21 IP & 20 K’s in the final month, including 5 appearances against SoCal totaling 9 2/3 IP in which he did not give up a single run and earned a save in the final game against the Knights. The other three big arms in the Goldens bullpen are Carlos Marmol, Heath Bell, and Jared Burton. Marmol, (7-1) with a 2.14 ERA and 7 Saves, blew away opposing batters with 126 K’s in 88 1/3 IP! Heath Bell (8-3) was solid with a 3.62 ERA in 79 2/3 IP and struck out a batter per inning. Jared Burton was acquired from San Jose prior to the season for Willie Bloomquist, and turned out to be a nice surprise as he finished (5-0) with a 2.11 ERA in 55.1 IP.
The Sierra Nevada Goldens are chomping at the bit to get the playoffs rolling, but the competition will be fierce in the Divisional series whether they play Dayton or San Jose. The opponent will be determined on the Dayton / SoCal Wildcard series. It looks like the playoffs will be about matchups for the Goldens. Mark Buehrle had a tough time vs. San Jose’s left-hand heavy lineup and may become neutralized if they face the Scorpions. The Goldens may need to lean more heavily on Gil Meche, Josh Beckett, and Jamie Moyer who handle lefty hitters much better. The Dayton Dragons gave the Goldens a very tough time as Sierra Nevada went (2-5) against them and the starters were knocked around quite a bit. It looks like the Goldens will need to try to shorten games in order to get past either of these mighty lineups. If the starters can get 5 or 6 solid innings and exit with a lead, it looks like the bullpen will have the best chance of taking the game home. With Buchholz, Marmol, Bell, Burton, and Fuentes available to close things out, each game figures to be a nail-biter, especially in Dayton’s and San Jose’s pitcher friendly parks. Against either opponent, the Sierra Nevada Goldens are ready to try and climb to heights of the Silver League LCS.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sierra Nevada Goldens Set Franchise Home Record after Perfect September Homestand; Sweep SoCal in Fight for Copper Division Supremacy

The Sierra Nevada Goldens entered the month of September riding the wave of a 6-Game home winning streak at Great American Ballpark and with a 1-Game lead over the rival SoCal Knights as they awaited their divisional nemesis as their 1st opponent on the home schedule of the BRASS League’s final month.

The 1st game of the 4-Game set versus the Knights featured Sierra Nevada’s Gil Meche against SoCal’s Mike Mussina. First Baseman Joey Votto got things going for SoCal with a 2-Run bomb in the top of the 2nd. The Goldens then bounced right back, a common theme in the series, as Dan Uggla doubled and Jack Wilson singled him in. Both Meche and Mussina cruised along through the 3rd and 4th innings until Mussina lost his control in the bottom of the 5th, leaving pitches over the plate. With two outs, David Ross doubled, Conor Jackson singled, and Jermaine Dye Doubled consecutively giving the Goldens a 3-2 lead. In the top of the 7th, the Golden’s defense gave the lead back to the Knights as second baseman Dan Uggla committed a 2-base error off the bat of Bengie Molina, giving the Knights a 4-3 lead and blowing the chance of a win for Meche. The Goldens didn’t hang their heads however. Adam Dunn stroked a “no doubt about it” shot off reliever Mike Adams in the bottom of the 8th tying the game at 4 apiece. The Goldens completed the comeback in the bottom of the 9th when Mike Lowell drew a 1-out walk and gave way to speedster, Fernando Perez, making his MLB debut following a September call-up. Pinch hitter Jason Giambi then stepped to the plate and clubbed a double to center scoring Perez all the way from 1st, giving the Goldens the series opener 5-4 and a 2-game lead in the standings.

In Game-2, SoCal’s Clayton Kershaw faced Mark Buehrle of the Goldens. Kershaw got an early 1-0 lead in the 2nd, but the Goldens line-up bounced back with 2 in the bottom of the 2nd and 4 in the 3rd, knocking the young lefty out of the game early. Left fielder, Jose Guillen, did the damage hitting a 3-run homer and finished 3 for 4 with 4 RBI’s in the 6-3 Goldens victory, giving Buehrle his 16th win of the season.

Game-3 was a hard-fought contest with veteran Jamie Moyer on the hill for Sierra Nevada and Shaun Marcum throwing for the Knights. Moyer was brilliant giving up only 1 run on 3 hits over 8 innings as the SoCal bats struggled against a lefty starter for the 2nd day in a row. Marcum was just as effective while pitching a shut-out thru 6, but Dan Uggla popped his 39th HR of the season in the 7th, tying the game at one apiece. In the bottom of the 8th, Marcum walked pinch hitter Jason Giambi to lead off the inning. An out later, big Adam Dunn stepped up and clouted a 2-run shot, his 42nd of the year, and gave the Goldens a 3-1 victory.

The Goldens sent Josh Beckett to the mound in search of the series sweep against Jesse Litsch. Beckett gave up 3 earned runs and struck out 7 thru 7 1/3 Innings while Litsch gave up 4 earned runs thru 6 1/3 innings. Each pitcher gave up 7 hits, but the big hit came with 2-outs in the 6th when Goldens’ catcher Yadier Molina singled in Jermaine Dye giving the Goldens the 4-3 lead. Closer, Brian Fuentes, earned his 32nd save and preserved Beckett’s 14th win, the 4-game sweep, and gave Sierra Nevada a 5-game lead in the Copper Division standings. The Knights had early leads in all four contests, but the Goldens were able to come from behind each time. Adam Dunn was the series MVP slugging 2 late-inning HR’s, but the Goldens starters deserve credit as Buehrle, Moyer, & Beckett all earned victories. Closer, Brian Fuentes also earned a win and 2 saves in the series.

The Goldens continued the homestand by sweeping 4 games against the Duluth-Superior Dukes & 3 games against the Phoenix Phoenix. Games 1 & 3 against the Dukes were tough, extra-inning victories for the Goldens but overall, Sierra Nevada outscored their opponents 53-20 in the 7 games. During the 7 games, Dan Uggla hit 4 HR’s giving him 43 on the season, tied with Adam Dunn for most on the team. Mark Buehrle earned his 17th win and Beckett earned his 15th.

The historic 11-0 homestand gave the Goldens their best season home record in franchise history at 60-21, topping the 2005-06 Happy Valley Heroes mark of 57-24. The Goldens finished off the home schedule by winning 17 straight and 19 of 21. Sierra Nevada has now cut the magic number to 4 over the Cream City Pirates for the wild-card, so barring a miracle; the Goldens will be heading to the playoffs. The Goldens will see if they can clinch their 1st Copper Division title on the upcoming 11-game road trip to finish off the season. The magic number to clinch the division over SoCal is 7, but the Knights will be chomping at the bit to redeem themselves and take back control of the division as the two teams square off for 4 games.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Sierra Nevada Goldens Enter Final Month with Playoff Aspirations and Copper Division Title Within Reach After Wild Month of August

The month of August started out very humbling for the Sierra Nevada franchise as they entered the month in a 1st place deadlock with the SoCal Knights. Sierra Nevada had stood alone in 1st from April 24, 2090 until July 30th when SoCal joined them atop the Copper Division and shared the division lead at month’s end. Two weeks into August, the Goldens suddenly found themselves 4 games behind the Knights as management wondered if the storm was ever going to subside. The swoon began on July 22nd when Sierra Nevada lost the final two home games against the feisty Washington Crossing Generals and it carried on against the Zinc Division leading, San Jose Scorpions as the Goldens lost 6 of the final 9 games of July. August started out even worse as the Montreal Sunsets & Dayton Dragons, the top dogs in the Iron Division, battered Goldens’ pitching winning 10 of 14 and outscoring them 92-74. The bad stretch included a 7 game losing streak and losses in 9 of 10. For that 3-week stretch, the clouds over Sierra Nevada were extremely ominous and management was feeling perplexed as a run into the playoffs that had once appeared to be a sure thing had now become questionable.

Fortunes soon changed for the Goldens when the skies parted as the Goldens looked up at the 1st place SoCal Knights, suddenly 3-Games back following the thrashing by the Dayton Dragons. After losing the series opener at the Meridian Trojans, the Goldens went on a roll by winning 5 of the next 6 versus Meridian and by piling up a 7-Game sweep of the cellar dwelling Southtown Misers. The stretch included a 9-Game win streak and the Goldens won 12 of the final 13 games of August and it launched them back into 1st, a game up on the 2nd place SoCal Knights! The bats had reawakened and the pitching gelled again as the Goldens outscored Meridian and Southtown 102-39!

The down-and-up month pointed out a couple of interesting facts for Sierra Nevada. It has become clear that the Goldens struggle against teams .500 and above while they demolish teams below .500. As of the end of August, the Goldens are 54-16 (.771) against teams with losing records, while they are 32-38 (.457) against teams .500 and above. The Goldens also handle their business quite well at home as they are 49-21 (.700) in the comfortable setting of Great American Ballpark, but they are also respectable on the road with a winning record of 37-33 (.529). The facts stated above suggest the importance of the Goldens winning the Copper Division crown. It appears clear that the 2nd place finisher of the Iron Division will be the top wild-card entry, either Montreal (96-44) or Dayton (93-47), while the 2nd place finisher of the Copper Division, either Sierra Nevada (86-54) or SoCal (85-55), will be the 2nd wild-card entry. The Goldens’ World Series dreams could rest on avoiding a wild-card matchup against Montreal or Dayton since they were (2-5) against each opponent and a division crown would secure a 1st round bye.

The other observation for the Goldens is that the starting pitching is less than dominating, especially against top clubs. Meanwhile, the bullpen has been especially solid all season long and it appears that Sierra Nevada has some advantages as the game reaches the final innings. Starters Josh Beckett, Gil Meche, Scott Feldman, Mark Buehrle, Jeff Karstens, Jamie Moyer, & Kyle Kendrick have combined for a record of 56-42 while the bullpen has a combined record of 30-12. The early season trade of Scott Feldman to the Plainsfield Hitmen for veteran lefty starter Jamie Moyer hasn’t exactly panned out as he is only 5-5 with a 6.00 era since the trade. Since the starting rotation is a little soft, management acquired some more relief pitching as the Goldens try and shorten games and leave it up to the bullpen. Taylor Buchholz was acquired from the Meridian Trojans and comes to the Goldens with a 6-1 record and a miniscule 1.45 ERA. He will fit in nicely with the other bullpen arms who are having outstanding years. Closer Brian Fuentes is 2-4 with a 1.34 ERA and 30 Saves, Jared Burton is 5-0 with a 1.88 ERA, & Carlos Marmol is 7-1 with a 2.23 ERA and 7 Saves. Heath Bell has been formidable versus lefty hitters, holding them to a .228 BA.

All in all, the success of the Goldens this fall will lie at the feet of the big boppers throughout the Sierra Nevada lineup. The quartet of Adam Dunn (.243, 40 HR, 87 RBI), Jason Giambi (.271, 40 HR, 105 RBI), Jermaine Dye (.321, 38 HR, 36 2B, 110 RBI), & Dan Uggla (.301, 38 HR, 82 RBI) have been devastating and have been terrorizing opponent’s pitching, especially at Great American Ballpark. Mike Lowell missed time in the opening two months of the season, but he too has enhanced the power numbers with his (.305, 15 HR, 21 2B, 47 RBI) in 84 games. As a team, the Goldens have walloped a league leading 260 HR’s. The home park has assisted in these numbers, but the pitching staff has managed to hold its own while limiting the opposition to 146 HR’s. Sierra Nevada ranks 6th in team batting average at .284, and ranks 7th in team ERA at 4.27.

The month of September will start off with a bang as Sierra Nevada and SoCal square off for 8 games as they try and gain superiority over one another, separated by only a game going in. Both figure to beat up on the other two division rivals Phoenix Phoenix (57-83) and Duluth-Superior Dukes (53-87), but anything can happen when September call-ups come into play in the final month and while managers are resting overused players. It will be a true test for the Goldens to see if they can continue their torrid power numbers against a tough SoCal pitching staff (3.61 Team ERA) while continuing to lean on Fuentes, Marmol, & Buccholz to close out games. The x-factor will be whether Beckett, Buehrle, and Meche, & Moyer can keep the Goldens in games during the early innings.

The Silver League playoff spots seem set, unless the Cream City Pirates (78-62) make a last minute surge. With the San Jose Scorpions (97-43) about to clinch the Zinc Division and either Montreal or Dayton winning the Iron, Sierra Nevada and SoCal will be fighting for that Copper Division title as they desperately fight for the 1st round bye and avoid the mighty Sunsets and Dragons.