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Old 05-05-2017, 10:16 PM   #21
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June 2036

You know what's really nice about a good start? Besides the obvious. You can go 17-11 in a month and still feel good about a .607 winning percentage being your 'worst' of the season. End of June, and we're still 54-24, 12 games up on Oakland, 13.5 over Texas. Angels, Astros, and Mariners after that. Our hitting kept rolling on, as we scored 153 runs (5.5/game); but we gave up 139 (5.0/game). We had a rough start to the month, 3-5, until we swept the Angels. We also had a good run in interleague play, going 6-3 against the Central division's top three teams.

Series records for the month:
BOS 0-1 / TOR 1-2 / SEA 2-2 / LAA 3-0 / TEX 2-2 / MTL 2-1 / CIN 2-1 / PIT 2-1 / LAA 3-1

Six regulars hit over .300 this month, led by Dunklee at .386, Collins at .361, and Drayton at .356. Hebert would make seven, but was injured on the 8th. We clouted 46 home runs, with Drayton and McArthur hitting 10 each. McArthur had a fun stat line, with those 10 HR being his only XBH. Austin Collins gets special notice for a 37-game hitting streak, which ended on the 21st. Dunklee put together his own 21-game streak, ending on the 12th.

Injuries also starting biting us this month. Hebert went out for nearly a month, so I called up last year's #1 Adam Groff to get his first shot in the bigs. He hit a HR on his first at bat, and then got hurt the next day, with a month-long day-to-day injury. I played him for a few games, watched him struggle, then sent him back down to the farm. Eddie Aguilera gets the next shot, then suffers his own dtd injury late in the month. With Miranda playing well, I'll keep Aguilera up until Hebert comes back in early July. Groff will stay in KC and hopefully not suffer any further injury.

Well, this sounds familiar: pitching was not our strong suit this month. Unlike last year, tho, at least this time we get a few good performances. Clark and Anderson lead the way, and Bobby Little finally comes around as probably the best of the starters. Brock and Wunderlich: meh. Unfortunately, the bullpen finally cracks some, especially with a fairly crappy month from closer Yates. Ixcoy's horribleness earns him a trip to KC mid-month. We call up Evan Larkins, who was lights-out in KC (0.49 ERA in 31 IP), but he doesn't see any action for us yet. Alex Lopez is definitely earning his expensive (3.2M per) keep, only giving up his first run of the season.

Around the league...
Miami went crazy this month, 21-8, and moved from 3 games under .500 to a share of first place in the AL East. They're a game ahead of the Blue Jays. No other changes on the leaderboards, at the top at least. Colorado's leadership changes didn't take, as they've slumped to the worst record in the league, at 29-49....Twins 3B Paul Foster is AL player of the month (.356, 15 HR), while Philly 1B Nate Rogers (.365, 9 HR) gets the NL nod. Bill Casas (Oakland, 4-1, 1.27 ERA) and Mike Gardner (Padres, 5-1, 2.01 ERA) get the pitching honors....Our Austin Collins leads the AL hit parade at .365, and Pittsburgh's 21-year-old super stud Danny Diaz went .400/.440/.718, leading the NL in hitting (.384) and home runs (25). Dunklee leads the AL in HR (23), RBI (76), and OPS (1.125). Highest WAR too, so he could be working on an MVP season....Milestone watch: Angels 2B Macario Fiel reaches 1500 career RBI. He's 37, 2022 AL MVP with Texas, has 518 HR, over 2300 hits, and 79 WAR. He could be the first Brazilian to make the HoF one day. And Cleveland LF Chase Strumpf gets his 2500th hit. He's had a pretty nondescript career, mostly with Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. 60 WAR, 230 HR, firmly into the Hall of Pretty Good one day.

Next up: June Amateur Draft Report
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Old 05-06-2017, 03:11 PM   #22
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2036 Draft Review...And More

This was not the deepest draft. Or rather, the talent at the top end did not compare to that at the last two drafts, the ones since the Islanders joined the league. I had hoped to grab an SP I wanted, Erik Holgate, but he went #5 to the Yankees. (Ed. note: Holgate failed to sign with New York, and reenters the draft for 2037.) Seeing no others I liked as well, I went for a position player for my first rounder, then took a pitcher in the second. Oddly enough, four of the next six picks were pitchers. Let's hope my scouts know best.

Round 1, 6th Overall
OF Ian McGowan, 19, high school. I think McGowan compares favorably to the four position players taken above him. He is solid across all batting ratings, best in contact and gap power. Has some nice pop too. Strong work ethic, which has to help his development. Great range in the field, average arm; could make it in center or left field. Starting in Boone (R).

Round 2, 53rd Overall
SP Ian Albring, 23, Fresno State. Older, and farther along in his development. Ceiling is not that high, however. Could feature as 4/5 starter, with four pitches. Fastball (96 mph) is best right now, but changeup should become better. Also rates well at the plate, with average ratings; speedy, and good ratings at 3B and OF. Probably best to remain a pitcher, however. Poughkeepsie (S A).

Round 3, 86th Overall
P Ronnie Corgan, 19, high school. Our first non-Ian pick. Strictly bullpen for now, with only one average pitch. Two others should come along, and his ratings potential looks slightly better than Albring's. Also has quite a good bat, like Albring, only better. Middling fielding tho, which probably will keep him on the mound. Maybe he'll make it as an SP and a pinch hitter! To Poughkeepsie (S A).

Round 4, 126th Overall
SS John Canning, 19, high school. Good contact, gap, won't strike out. Zero power, and below average eye. High quality fielder, tho. Good enough range for short and arm for third. Also strong outfielder. If his bat develops at all, he'll at least be a very nice utility guy. Was a 6th rounder for Detroit last year, but didn't sign. Will start in Athens (R).

Round 5, 161st Overall
1B Tyler Dion, 18, high school. Lots of high school kids this draft, noticing now. Pretty average ratings, really. Contact and gap rate as slightly over average, eye and avoid k's below. Not a good fielder. Home town kid, our first Hawaiian draft pick. A project. Going to Boone (R).

Round 5, 167th Overall
RP Jordan Woods, 19, high school. Pure reliever, as only has the two pitches--fastball and curve, and the latter needs a lot of work. Should have good stuff and decent movement, with ok control. That one--control--has a long way to go, however. Also has some nice potential at the plate, but not in the field. Will also start in Boone (R).

Round 6, 197th Overall
C Billy Ashe, 20, BYU. Needed some more catching prospects in the system, not that Ashe will set the world on fire tho. Ok contact, good gap and avoid k's, limited power. Mediocre behind the plate. Line drive hitter, switch hitter. In Boone (R).

Round 7, 233rd Overall
3B Chris Kennedy, 21, Georgia Tech. Another decision for me to make: pretty average hitting potential, but a decent fielder with a cannon arm. Could also play in the outfield. Is also an intriguing pitching prospect. Has fantastic stuff potential, but only average movement and control. Scouts say he'll develop a second pitch, but only has a fastball right now, and that so-called second pitch is currently useless. So do I pitch him, or play him at third? Work ethic is a concern, which may end up making my decision for me (would make me lean towards keeping him at 3B, given how much development he needs on the mound). Off to Boone (R), like almost everyone else.

Round 8, 269th Overall
3B Matt Howard, 17, high school. Really a better fit at second and/or first, as his arm and glove are only average. No ratings stand out, so he'll either surprise one day and make it to the bigs, or max out at AAA. Also off to Boone (R).

Round 9, 305th Overall
1B Justin Tapley, 18, high school. Another guy with average potential (all ratings from 9 to 11, out of 20), but very high work ethic may push him higher. Not surprisingly, a bad fielder. Seems hard to find good fielding first basemen in the draft. Another Boonie (R).


Last Year's Top Five

1st, Adam Groff, 22, IF. Having a strong year in KC, and got 34 PA in Hawaii in June. Hit just .219 with 1 HR. Only one walk in MLB, showing he needs to work on his patience at the plate. Still, most of his ratings are good enough for the majors right now, including his defense. Can play short and third, and is at short in AAA. Might be best suited for third eventually, as he's not the greatest at turning the DP. Future is still very bright and he's still slated as one of our cornerstone players.
2nd, Dave Seaman, 22, RP. Currently in Eureka (A). Pitched well in R ball last year, but struggling (ERA over 5, 1:1 K:BB ratio) right now. Control may end up holding him back. Good fastball (97 mph) already, but needs to develop that second pitch to sniff another promotion.
3rd, Dave DeLong, 23, RP. Also in Eureka. Pitching well, in pen and as spot starter. Not the highest ceilings, and already 23, so I'm not sure how much more he'll come along. Control needs a little work. Has three pitches, working on a fourth. Lefty, so will get a long look.
4th, Steve Douglas, 19, 3B. Spending his second campaign in rookie ball at Boone. A line drive hitter with good gap power but no HR power. Stats reflect this. Needs tons of work on his plate discipline.
5th, Eric Antoniuk, 22, SS. Has leadership in spades, great fielder, and quite fast. His batting....well, he does bat. Just not well. In his second year in S A ball at Poughkeepsie, and hasn't yet cracked the Mendoza line. Average and OBP have gone up tho, but SLG is way, way down (only 2 doubles). Unless his batting turns the corner, is probably looking at an early start to his coaching career.

Others of note:

SP Bobby Little, currently in Hawaii due to injuries on the starting staff. Pitched just OK in KC, but needed him on the big team. Has been just ok there too. Stuff (and pitches) needs work if he's going to stick for good. I'm hopeful. Our only lefty at this level.
SP Rob Hart, still in A ball, but his stats have improved so he's probably going to get a look at AA sooner than later. Our scouts keep inching his potential up, and OSA just loves him. He's still just 19, so no need to rush him. Right now projects as future 2/3 starter.
OF Mel Carillo, international FA signing from 2034. Now in A ball, and hitting well (.278/.337/.454). It's early days yet (he's a few weeks from turning 19), but his potential ratings haven't dropped any; most of the disappointments in the International Complex start dropping by now, so I'm very hopeful he's going to pan out. OSA is not as high on him as my guys are, however. Like Hart, still very young, so we don't need to hurry things along.
RP Travis Kelley, now in AAA. Once his control and curveball get past the average level, he'll be in the bigs. Pitching very well for KC, but not striking out a lot of guys. So, not a closer. Is also the best hitting pitcher in our system: could probably start for some big league teams, if he could find a position. Maybe I'll DH him some one day!
1B Nate Hullinger, in AAA. Was a reliever for us for two seasons, then re-signed to a minor league deal when I saw his batting ratings were already major-league worthy: 13 contact and gap, 17 power. Behind a logjam at 1B/DH, so stuck in KC for now. Already has 15 HR and is hitting .350 there. Fielding is subpar, but he's still got a future (probably very soon too) for us as another LH power bat.

Minor League System Overview (records as of end of July)

AAA - Kansas City T-Bones: 61-43, tied for 1st
AA - Lewiston Millers: 40-61, 6th place (note that they had just 38 wins all of last year)
A - Eureka Aces: 50-54, 3rd place
S A - Poughkeepsie Tanks: 21-14 2nd place
R - Athens Warriors: 19-14, 2nd place
R - Boone Mountain Cats: 9-24, 8th place (my rookie ball curse continues)


Other Odds and Ends

Trade! Jason Albritton, our third pick in 2034 had been relegated to being a lefty specialist in AA, pitching 7 innings in 35 (!) games. He had given up 15 hits, 10 runs, and 10 walks in those scant innings. And he hated his coach. From my GM perch, his failure to develop his control and a second pitch, combined with his poor stats, told me it was time for him to go. So we sent him to Colorado for minor league reliever Jeremiah Toler, a former 2nd round pick who also looks something like a bust. His ceiling looks like AA-AAA to me, but I'll take him, as injuries are always taking their toll on the farm system by mid-summer. Toler goes to Lewiston (AA); Colorado sends Albritton to R ball!

FA Signings. The month following the draft is a good time to scour the free agents boards for youngsters getting dumped by their teams. You rarely find a future star, but can definitely find platoon guys and role players. This time, we sign four guys, who'll go to various levels in our system, but one guys stands out as a future big leaguer. Matt Harris has been a reliever for 2 1/2 seasons in rookie ball, until getting released by the Cardinals in June. His release comes as no wonder, since his ratings are below average and R ball might be his ceiling. As a pitcher. As a batter, however, his potential is good to very good in all ratings. And he's got ratings in the outfield as well, so he's not without a position. No more pitching for you, Matt. He's got a ways to go, but I think he can be a useful utility outfielder for Hawaii in a couple of years. Nice.

International Free Agents. We sign three guys, for a total of just over $4M. First is 1B Pablo Mora, out of Venezuela. Above average ratings potential, and a smart guy. Next is CF Felipe Miranda, from the Dominican Republic. Rated similarly to Mora, with nothing that stands out. Average fielder. Finally, we land SP Omar Morales, from Nicaragua. Another guy with potential ceilings just above average, but he's smart and a hard worker, so I like his chances. Has four pitches, but only three figure to be any good. The White Sox were the biggest spenders, dropping 7.2M on Venezuelan CF Jon Acosta. He's got big power potential, but poor discipline and average contact. Not a good fielder. Sounds like another Dave Kingman to me. Arizona threw 4M at Dominican pitcher Jose Chapa, who has decent projections, but not four million bucks worth. Plus, his third pitch, which projects to be world class, is currently a '1' and not likely, in my mind, to develop.


Next up: July 2036
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Old 05-07-2017, 09:50 PM   #23
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July 2036

Results from July:

OAK 2-1 / TB 3-0 / BAL 3-0 / MIA 3-0 / CLE 0-3 / KC 2-1 / CHW 2-1 / HOU 2-1 / TEX 1-0

July was schizophrenic: a 10-game winning streak before the All-Star break, then a four-game losing streak and 7-6 post-break. Overall, a good month, as we went 18-7 (.720), and extended our lead--now over Los Angeles--to 18.5 games. We scored 136 runs (5.4 per) and gave up 82 (3.3). Team Historical Moment: our 13-8 win over Texas on the 31st was our 72nd victory of the year, giving us one more than last year. Team record! It's all coasting from here, baby!

Owner Alexis Pagan sends me a note later that night, congratulating me. Okay, not really. It's a note from accounting, reminding me to turn in my travel receipts within two weeks or they're null. I buy my own champagne, and keep the receipt.

Lineup stability was the name of the game in July. Seven of our starters played every game. I'll want to monitor that, however, going through the summer so we don't lose any players to exhaustion or overwork. Our backup outfielders got just four at bats this month; they'll need more work. Only 3B Hebert missed any playing time, recovering from the hamstring injury he suffered in June. Ervin Miranda played well enough in his stead. Eddie Aguilera was sent back to KC upon Hebert's return. Austin Collins appears to be completely recovered from his 37-game hitting streak in May/June, batting about a hundred points below his incoming average. Chris Wiggins leads the league now with 14 triples, 7 just this month.

A good month for our starting pitchers. Ken Clark in particular blew through his five starts. Bobby Little started the month in Hawaii, but was sent down after a bad start and the return of Rich Rivera from his rehab stint in KC. Rivera looks good so far: three quality starts out of four. The bad news is Bobby Anderson goes on the DL for two months on the 19th with elbow soreness; he's been sharp all season and will be missed. Little comes back up to replace him, and has two good starts. We get more bad news on the 20th, when RP Alex Lopez tears his labrum; he'll be out for nearly a year. Too bad, since he was making quite a comeback (0.66 ERA, 1.1 WAR in 41 IP) from his 7.71 ERA last year. Evan Larkins gets the call up.

Trading Deadline comes up, and we haven't made any deals. Lopez' injury means I might take a look at bringing in a lefty middle reliever, perhaps a backup outfielder. I've got more farm depth in the outfield than I do in the pen, however, so I'm more likely to consider the former than the latter. We're likely to have some money troubles this off-season, so anyone I bring in will definitely have to be cheap. I'll be posting soon about our upcoming financial issues.


Around the league...
Toronto inches back ahead of Miami, Kansas City has a good month and is tied with Minnesota. Richmond, Pittsburgh, and Los Angeles put a little more ground between their pursuers. Colorado, St Louis, and the Yankees are bringing up the rear....There are about 20 trades before the deadline, few involving decent players. A lot of relievers changing teams. The only curious one involves division rivals Pittsburgh and Montreal: the Pirates send utility infielder Jaylen Lebon to the Expos for a top notch reliever, lefty Gilberto Camacho. The Pirates immediately make him their closer, their achilles heel this year with Braxton Carll (46 saves last year) on the DL all season. Not sure why the Expos would give their chief rival a shiny new closer for the playoff run.

Next up: August
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Old 05-09-2017, 09:51 PM   #24
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August 2036

The trade deadline came and went without us making any deals. I did look around for some bullpen help, particular left-handed, but didn't pull the trigger. Several teams dangled players within my parameters--young (under 27), cheap (under $1M, preferably minimum), lefty, and team controlled for another couple years--but all either wanted too much or responded with "No thanks!" to my inquiries. No team in a pennant race is going to trade one of their top relievers, just to make me happy. But two struggling teams, Texas and San Francisco, stayed in the chase, offering 23-year-old Elias Morales or 27-year-old Jonathan Rideaux, respectively. Both would help my pen; both are borderline starters; both have arbitration estimates under $1M for the next 3 years, at least. But...both teams wanted either a regular from my lineup, or a top prospect slated for the majors either this September or next year. So in the end, we did nothing, deciding to trust our bullpen and hope to avoid any major injuries the rest of the season. Having an 18-game division lead made the decision easier, but at this point in the season we're looking beyond September, into October and the post-season. Anyway, moving on.

We're getting into the nitty gritty of the season now, so I'm going to change up the format for the next couple of (game) months. No daily updates, but with more detail than the monthly reports I've been giving so far.

...8/1...Player Development Update. Let's start with the bad news. AAA closer Travis Kelley lost 2 points off his current and potential stuff, and also lost velocity, which is more worrying. He's pitching well, but bears watching closely and is no longer #1 on the injury call up list. The good news: SP Bobby Little, currently in Hawaii due to injuries, gained in several categories; last year's #1 overall Adam Groff gained in contact and power, substantially in both. He really needs to grow in eye and avoid k's tho; 1B Carlos Quintero, also at AAA, has now become a useful part, gaining across the board.
...8/2...We signed two minor league free agent pitchers, Jonathan Short and Jon Arnold. Short just finished his season in the IBL, and has excellent stuff and control, but average movement. Arnold was just released by New Orleans, has decent stuff and movement, and is a fringe starter. Both could be September call-ups. Short goes to AA, Arnold to AAA.
...8/3...Wrap up our series with TEX by winning 2 out of 3. Average attendance just below 50K per game.
...8/4...Closer Jay Yates is dtd for a week with back spasms. He's too valuable to lose for the season, so onto the 7-day DL he goes.
...8/6...DH Erik Hodge hits his 22nd double and 22nd HR in our win over Seattle, then suffers an injury on the bases. Awaiting diagnosis.
...8/7...We finish a four-game road sweep of the hapless Mariners (44-65). OAK has now won 8 in a row, putting themselves into the wild card hunt.
...8/8...Good news: Hodge's injury is dtd. Bad news: it's for five months, and is a torn meniscus. Minimal effect on hitting, moderate on running. Sigh. I may keep playing him.
...8/10...MIN takes two out of three from us. Hodge went 0-for-8 with 4 Ks. I'll re-evaluate on our next day off, after our upcoming series in Detroit. PIT LF Mike Blough won POM in July, and is still destroying NL hitting: he's the first in all of MLB to reach 100 RBI. The Pirates have a killer lineup; whey they haven't won 3 titles in a row is beyond me.
...8/13...Swept the Tigers; Clark takes the third with a four-hit shutout. Won yesterday's game 16-6 with a 10-run 6th inning. We're firing on all cylinders now...at least against these last place teams. Dunklee now leading the AL with 33 HR, 102 RBI, and fifth in BA at .343.
...8/14...I put Erik Hodge on the 7-day DL, and will reactivate him before September so he'll be on the playoff roster. Adam Groff gets called up.
...8/17...lost 2 of 3 to the Brewers.
...8/20...We take two of three from the division-leading Blue Jays. Bullpen giving up a run per inning the last two series, until today's game: 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 6 K, 1 BB. Bobby Little strains a muscle, but shouldn't miss a start.
...8/24...The feuding Red Sox come to town and take 2 out of 3. We give up 10 HR in the series. Pitching looked wobbly.
...8/28...We sweep the Yankees on the road, beating them like the dogs they are. Thirty runs in the three games. Hodge back off the DL, Groff down to AAA. Josh Drayton injures his knee and is dtd for a week, Ryan Hebert does the same and is dtd for 1-2 weeks.
...8/31...Sweep HOU, ending the month on a six-game winning streak.

We go 20-8 for August, extending our division lead over OAK to 20 games. Our magic number is down to 13. For the season we're 92-39; 49-23 at home, 43-16 on the road. Nine of our remaining 31 games will be on the road, and we'll end the season on a ten-game road trip.

Heads up for 2037: a little bird in the accounting office tells me that they're formulating next year's balance sheets with a team budget of $104M. That would be a $9M increase from last year. Given that, as things currently stand, our salaries will be going up by $12M next year but without counting the four relievers going FA, that raise comes as something of a relief. No pun intended. Thing is...our owner likes yachts. So as Yogi would say, I'll believe it when I believe it.

Batting stats for August. Everybody continues to rake; it's amazing. Adam Groff showed he's ready for the majors next year. Dunklee is in the running for the Triple Crown: first in HR, RBI, and 2nd in BA.

Pitching stats for August. Starters were generally good, excepting Wunderlich. Yates struggled again this month, and the back end of the pen--Larkins and Castillo--were garbage.


Around the league...
Toronto has pulled away from Miami (9.5 back) and Baltimore (10). Kansas City had a strong month, and is now 1.5 games ahead of the Twins. The Indians are 13 back. We're 20 up on the A's. Minnesota and Oakland are currently the wild card teams, with Cleveland a further 3 back, Miami 5, and Baltimore 5.5. There's separation in the NL now as well. Richmond is up on Philly by 8, Pittsburgh by 6 over Montreal, and LA by 8.5 over San Diego. Arizona is a game behind the Padres. Montreal has a pretty good lead for the first wild card spot, 7.5 up on the Phils. Cincinnati is a game behind them, then Brooklyn (3), Washington (4), and San Diego (5).

As good as our offensive season has been, the Pirates have been at least as good. With 32 games left, they've already hit 257 HR, setting a new NL record. They now have the 1st, 3rd, and 4th best all-time HR seasons in the NL. Their team triple slash reads .294/.356/.525 and they're scoring nearly six runs a game. Compare that to San Francisco, at the other end: .247/.304/.365, with 79 HR and just 3.2 runs/game. Pittsburgh is lead by a dynamic trio: SS Danny Diaz (.370/.407/.660, 37 HR, 89 RBI, 8.9 WAR), CF Brendan Glenn (.353/.427/.667, 34, 84, 8.4), and RF Mike Blough (.316/.353/.586, 34, 109, 6.2). Blough is the oldest at 25; Glenn is 24, Diaz 21. Throw in a top-five pitching staff, and you've got a team built to win now.

Next up: End of Regular Season
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Old 05-12-2017, 09:10 PM   #25
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End of Regular Season 2036

Due to an unforeseen time perturbation, the last three days of August had to be replayed. Instead of sweeping Houston, we lost 2 of 3, and finished the month 90-41. At least no one got hurt. Not yet.

September roster expansion: I don't want to call up too many, since KC is fighting for their division, and will make the International League playoffs. I will replace some of my call-ups with AA players, since Lewiston did not make the post-season. For us, I call up the following: RP Sonny Balderston, RP Vicente Ixcoy, C Jim Yancy, 1B Nate Hullinger, OF Allen Hernandez. RP Evan Larkins goes back to AAA, taking his bad pitching with him, I hope. Finally, I sign free agent IF Cesar Alvarez to finish out his career this September. Alvarez is now 38, and had a long, happy stint for me in Richmond. He was a free agent undrafted pitcher languishing in some beer league in 2019 when I noticed he had pretty nice batting potential and signed him. By 2021 he was my regular SS, switching to 3B in 2027 when his range diminished (he's 6'6", so it's saying something that he had range at short to begin with). He struck out a lot, but in his good years he was very, very good, hitting .300 five times, and averaging 4.8 WAR over an eight-year period. Minnesota released him last year just two hits short of 2000 for his career. Basically, I signed him to get 2000 hits. It's nice to have such a luxury.

Our minor league teams ended their seasons early in September. Here's the rundown:
AAA -- Kansas City 84-60, 2nd, 1 GB ... playoffs vs. Charlotte Knights
AA -- Lewiston 62-80, 5th, 24 GB ... major improvement over last year's 34 wins
A -- Eureka 69-71, 3rd, 24 GB
SA -- Poughkeepsie 42-28, 1st, -- ... playoffs vs. Staten Island Yankees
R -- Athens 35-33, 4th, 4 GB
R -- Boone Mountain 18-50, 8th, 21 GB ... there always has to be one truly awful team in the system

Now to finish the regular season.

...9/1...Josh Drayton is named August POM, after going .340/.402/.640, with 8 HR, 21 RBI, 24 R, and 7 SB
...9/2...two-game sweep by the Angels, outscored 18-8. Ryan Hebert tears a thumb ligament and is out for two weeks.
...9/7...we lose three of four to Oakland, giving up 28 runs in the three losses. Jim Mullen suffers a dtd injury, but will stay in the lineup.
...9/11...finally playing a little better, taking 2 of 3 from Miami. However, Adam Groff suffers a dtd injury, and then a 'real' one, which lands him on the DL for three weeks on the 11th. Vicente Ixcoy marks his triumphant return to the majors by giving up 3 runs in 1.1 innings, then getting into a fight and receiving a six-game suspension. Two days later, he comes down with the flu. He's definitely not making a case for a new contract.
...9/14...we again go 2-out-of-3, this time against Baltimore. Jim Mullen suffers his second dtd injury; both are leg injuries. Maybe it's time to sit him for a while.
...9/15...mid-month Pennant Chase! Both Central divisions have the closest races for top spot. Minnesota is consistently maintaining a lead of one to three games over the Royals. Both teams will make the playoffs. In the NL, Pittsburgh slumped early in September, allowing Montreal to take the division lead. They've since bounced back, and today have a 1/2 game lead. They split four games at the start of the month, and end the season with three games in PNC Park. One to watch. Elsewhere, it's Toronto by 13, Hawaii by 15.5, Richmond by 6, and the Dodgers by 4.5. KC has a 6.5 game lead for the first AL wild card, with Oakland in second by three games over Cleveland. Montreal is 10 up on Philadelphia for the top NL wild card. Washington is half a game behind the Phils, with Cincinnati 3 games back. Colorado, New Orleans, and the Yankees have been eliminated, in that order.
...9/18...a pattern: win one of three again, at Tampa Bay this time. Ken Clark wins his 17th, keeping us from an ugly sweep. Our magic number to win the division is now at 3. Minnesota has a 1/2 game lead over the Royals; ditto Pittsburgh over Montreal. Philly and Washington are tied for the second NL wild card, Cincy one game back.
...9/19...we're the first team to clinch a post-season berth! Wow. From 91 losses to (right now) 96 wins. On the bad news front, Adam Groff has a setback in his recovery, and now will miss the rest of the season instead of coming back in a week. Minor leagues: KC sweeps Charlotte in three, but Poughkeepsie bows out in five to Staten Island. Today we begin our final homestand of the season, hosting Seattle then Oakland.
...9/21...we take two of three from Seattle, ending their scant playoff dreams. Alvarez collects his 2000th hit. I'm so proud. Our magic number is now down to one, because Oakland keeps winning (five in a row, 14-5 this month), making a strong push for a wild card spot. In AAA, Columbus wins their series and will face KC for the league crown.
...9/24...took two out of three over the A's, and clinched the division! Toronto also clinched the AL East, and Pittsburgh clinched a playoff spot. They're 2 up on the Expos, and Minnesota is still 1.5 up on the Royals. Austin Collins took a pitch to the ankle and is dtd for 5 days. Ten games to go now, all on the road.
...9/27...split four with Houston. No injuries to report, how about that. Dunklee up to 42 HR, Drayton 40. Drayton has also taken the lead in the all-important WAR category, by which OOTP pretty much selects its MVP.
...9/28...the KC T-Bones beat Columbus in 5 games to win the International League crown. Pretty good, considering I tried not to raid half their lineup...and ended up raiding half their lineup. Game 5 was a 1-0 pitcher's duel, with Angelo Partida outdoing Dutchman Ray Aarts.
...9/29...AL pennant watch: Minnesota is 1.5 up on KC, and has a game in hand (155 to 156). The Royals have won three in a row. Oakland is maintaining a three-game lead over Cleveland for the second wild card. NL: Pittsburgh has lost 2 in a row and is now just one up on Montreal. LA is half a game up on Arizona, with San Diego and San Fran each 2.5 back of the Dodgers.
...9/30...PIT wins, MTL loses; 2 game lead for Pirates. LAD, ARI, and SD lose, SF wins. 2.5 games separate those four. MIN 2.5 up on KC now.

...10/1...took 2 out of 3 from Texas, up to 104 wins. MIN and KC won, no change there. PIT and MTL lost. LA lost third in a row, now a half game in back of ARI. SF and SD fading. PHI 2 up on WSH, 3 on CIN for wild card. OAK 3 up on CLE.
...10/2...PIT and MTL lost again, PIT still 2 up. BUT...the Pirates lost their starting 1B and 2B for the season and playoffs. Ouch. ARI won, LAD were off, so the D'backs now have a 1 game lead. And MIN and KC both lost, so it's still a 2.5 game lead for the Twins. How fitting that these three close races will be matched by the teams in them playing each other in the final series of the regular season. What a coincidence.
...10/3...KC wins the first game, now just 1.5 back of the Twins. ARI shuts out LA, now 2 up. PIT beats MTL to clinch the division. Now they need to not lose anyone else these last two games. CLE one back of OAK for second AL wild card; PHI one up on WSH, two on CIN.
...10/4...KC beats MIN again, now just .5 games back. (MIN has a make-up game vs TEX after this series.) LA comes back on ARI, and is now one game back. PHI and WSH are tied for the last NL wild card, while CIN was eliminated.
...10/5...swept by the Angels. Ugh. We stopped hitting and pitching, and went 4-6 over our last ten games. I'm not sure who my third playoff starting pitcher is going to be (more on that later), and I may just replace the entire bullpen in the off-season.
...10/5...KC swept MIN and is now on top of the Central by half a game. LAD beat ARI and are headed to a one-game playoff for the division. PHI won, WSH lost, so the Phils are your second NL wild card team. And CLE won while OAK lost their sixth in a row, meaning they're now tied. More baseball is better.
...10/6...TEX beat MIN, making KC the division winner. Minny lost their last five games.
...10/7...OAK snaps out of its funk and beats CLE to make the playoffs. The Indians go home with 88 wins. ARI tops the Dodgers to win the NL West. Final record: 82-81.


We finished the season on a down note, going 14-17 over Sept/Oct. Marginal hitting from half the lineup, most notably the once-hot Austin Collins, now ice cold and below the Mendoza line for the month. Josh Drayton was our hitter of the month. September call-up Nate Hullinger showed some real pop, with 5 HR in 32 AB. He's too good for the farm, but do I really need three 1B/DH?

Ken Clark had another fantastic month; he really lived up to his billing as our #1 starter this year. Rich Rivera pitched well but walked too many. Brock was okay, Little less so, and Wunderlich just B.A.D. Jay Yates continued his on-again/off-again year, with another bad month. Shewmake was lights out. A lot of uncertainty here going into the playoffs.

Next up: Playoffs? Playoffs!
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Old 05-12-2017, 10:35 PM   #26
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Wild Card: Form holds, with both #1 teams winning. Montreal takes a close 2-0 pitcher's duel over Philadelphia, and Minnesota holds off Oakland 6-5, getting AL MVP candidate Vinny Vargas to ground out with runners on 2nd and 3rd in the top of the ninth. Montreal now faces division rival Pittsburgh, while Minnesota gets us.

Decisions, decisions. Our batters are pretty healthy, with only Erik Hodge suffering an ongoing injury. But as he's a DH, and his batting doesn't seem to be affected, he should be okay. Pitching, now...With both Angelo Partida and Bobby Anderson back from injury, I put them on the playoff roster, even though both are starters. I leave RP Adrian Bolin off; he was okay this season, but didn't pitch much and was kind of an afterthought all year. The playoff rotation seems set--Clark, Brock, and Little--right up until the end of the season. Little suffers a dtd injury during his last start, putting him down for five days. And then....two days before the start of our series, #1 starter Ken Clark suffers an "allergic reaction" and is just out, not dtd, for four days. So Steve Brock gets the nod for game one now; his knuckle curve will be under a lot of pressure. Bobby Little is moved up to #2, but if he isn't 100%, I'll throw in either Partida or Anderson. Clark should be good for game 3. Now, let's get started...


Divisional Series, Game One: 10/12/2036, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu.
Minnesota takes the early lead with 2 runs in the first, but we get one back on our turn with a Dunklee sac fly. Three more hits for the Twins in the second generates another run, and we can't do anything with two walks in the bottom of the second. The Twins strand two of their own in the top of the third, and then Dunklee and McArthur smack solo home runs to knot the score at three after three. No one scores in the fourth, but then the Twins retake the lead on a Randy Kelly sac fly in the fifth. It's a two-run lead after Bryson Reavis swats a solo HR in the sixth. Minny 5-3 after six. Ryan Key is our new pitcher in the seventh, and it goes thus: walk, sac bunt with runner safe, walk, Bryson Reavis grand slam. That's ball game. Minnesota 9, Hawaii 3. Minnesota leads series 1-0.
Elsewhere: Pittsburgh 4, Montreal 0 (PIT 1-0) / Richmond 5, Arizona 2 (RIC 1-0) / Toronto 6, Kansas City 3 (TOR 1-0)

Divisional Series, Game Two: 10/13/2036, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu.
Neither Clark nor Little can go, so Bobby Anderson gets the nod. Minnesota jumps out fast again, thanks to a Paul Foster two-run HR. Sigh. Three singles and a wild pitch in the second bring home two more Twins, and it's 4-0 after an inning and a half. Erik Hodge gets one back in the second with a solo shot. Finally, we hold the Twins off the scoreboard in the third, and get two back in our half, after two hits, a walk, a run-scoring GIDP, and a wild pitch. Minnesota adds one in the fifth, making it 5-3. We're getting zero pitching. Bottom of fifth, Travis McArthur connects again, another solo effort, and we're down by just one. Sixth inning, and our bullpen records only our second 1-2-3 inning of the playoffs. The fans finally have something to cheer in the bottom of the inning, with a Drayton double and a Dunklee two-run shot, giving us the lead, 6-5. A couple of harrowing innings later, we turn things over to CL Jay Yates, who sets the Twins down in order, giving us the win. Hawaii 6, Minnesota 5. Series tied 1-1.
Elsewhere: Pittsburgh 3, Montreal 1 (PIT 2-0) / Richmond 9, Arizona 1 (RIC 2-0) / Toronto 7, Kansas City 4 (TOR 2-0)

Divisional Series, Game Three: 10/15/2036, Target Field, Minneapolis.
Ken Clark finally gets his playoff start. It's our turn to start fast, with three hits and two runs in the first. Minnesota matches with three hits, but just one run in their half. No runs in the second. In the third, a Dunklee double brings home Hebert and Drayton, making it 4-1 good guys. Paul Foster hits a two-run shot in the bottom of the third; now 4-3 Hawaii. Hebert triples home a run in the fourth, giving us a two-run lead. Nobody scores in the fifth and sixth, and then Dunklee hits a massive solo shot in the seventh, making it 6-3. We add another one in the top of the ninth, handing a four-run lead to our estimable closer, Jay Yates. And then....two infield grounders and a bloop to right load the bases. Sigh. For some reason I leave Yates in the game. And for some other reason Twins star Randy Kelly strikes out looking. Then Jerry Dail strikes out looking. And then Luis Gutierrez hits a slow bouncer to third, game over. Whew. Hawaii 7, Minnesota 3. Hawaii leads 2-1.
Elsewhere: Pittsburgh 11, Montreal 3 (PIT WINS 3-0) / Richmond 3, Arizona 2 (RIC WINS 3-0) / Kansas City 11, Toronto 8 (TOR 2-1)

Divisional Series, Game Four: 10/16/2036, Target Field, Minneapolis.
After Brock's bad Game One start (and him not being back to 100%), I decide to bring Angelo Partida out of long relief and give him the start. Someone has to give me a good start, right? You would think that, but you'd be wrong. The less said about this game, the better. Two runs in the third, another in the sixth, and then a Paul Foster grand slam, and it's good night Islanders. Minnesota 7, Hawaii 0. Series tied 2-2.
Elsewhere: Kansas City 5, Toronto 4 (TIED 2-2)

Divisional Series, Game Five: 10/18/2036, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu.
I hold my nose and start Steve Brock. COME ON STEVE, DON'T MAKE ME KILL YOU. Okay, here goes...Brock starts well, giving up just one hit and one walk through three. In the bottom of the third, Austin Collins singles, goes to second on a wild pitch, then to third on a Phil Clarke single. Then we actually try a suicide squeeze! It doesn't work: Collins is out, but Clarke goes to second, Mullen safe at first. Chris Wiggins then drives a ball into left, and Clarke manages to beat the throw: Safe! We lead 1-0. We threaten again in the fourth, but Dunklee gets thrown out at third trying to stretch for a base, ending the inning. Nobody scores in the fifth. Minnesota gets a double and a single in the sixth, scoring one and tying the game. No runs in the seventh. No runs in the eighth. Jay Yates comes into the ninth, and manages to set them down 1-2-3. Bottom of the ninth now. Minnesota has 6'5" closer Isaiah Barkins on the mound. We have left-handed triple machine Chris Wiggins at the plate. First pitch, low, ball one. Second pitch: CRACK! Line drive, Reavis goes back, at the wall, he won't get it! Wiggins ends it with a walk-off home run! Brock gave us seven innings of five-hit ball. Finally! Jeremy Dunklee is series MVP. Hawaii 2, Minnesota 1. Hawaii WINS 3-2
Elsewhere: Toronto 4, Kansas City 1 (TOR WINS 3-2)

Next up: More Playoffs!
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Old 05-13-2017, 02:43 PM   #27
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More Playoffs!

Our opponent for the league championship series is Toronto. The Blue Jays won the East with a 98-64 record, finishing 15 games ahead of the Marlins. They scored 828 runs and gave up 673. (For comparison, our numbers were 847 and 668.) We split six games during the regular season. The Jays had the second best offense overall in the AL, behind us. Likewise, their overall pitching stats put them just behind us. They did lead the league in home runs with 253. They're led by 1B (and 2035 AL MVP) Preston Sorensen, who had another good year (.281/.393/.544, 36 HR, 6.1 WAR), and two-time MVP C Devlin Ransberger, who played just 91 games. Three starters topped .300 -- including former Islander Tony Castro who hit .340 -- and four topped 25 HR. On the mound, they're led by 2035 Cy Young winner Dave Henderson, who had a better statistical year this year, leading the league in ERA (2.81) and WAR (7.3). Tyson Murphy (17-6, 3.58 ERA, 210 K) will be their Game 1 starter.

In the NL, Pittsburgh (97-65) takes on Richmond (94-68). My money's on Pittsburgh, although my heart is still with Richmond.

League Series, Game One: 10/20/2036, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu.
Unsteady start for Clark, giving up three hits, a walk and a run in the first. Chris Wiggins starts our inning with a lead-off home run, right after his series ending walk-off dinger against the Twins. A triple, two singles, and a three-run homer (Austin Collins) later, and we're up 5-1. We add another in the third, then give up a solo shot to Franklin Espinal in the fourth, and another run in the eighth. But that's all, giving us the win 6-3. A 91-minute rain delay in the fifth chases Clark; Bobby Little goes three strong innings to get the win. Hawaii 6, Toronto 3. Hawaii leads series 1-0.

NL Game One -- Pittsburgh pounds Richmond 8-1. Twelve hits, three home runs.

League Series, Game Two: 10/21/2036, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu.
Steve Brock on the mound for us, Curtis Thames (6-9, 4.50) for the Jays. Toronto gets on the board right away, with two singles and a run in the first. We put two on in the bottom of the inning, but can't score. In the second, we load the bases with two outs, but again can't score. Two innings later the Jays widen their lead with a single, a HPB, and a three-run homer: 4-0 Jays, and the game is effectively over. We mount a brief rally in the seventh, with a couple of hits but only one run. McArthur adds a solo shot in the eighth, but we get no closer. Toronto 4, Hawaii 2. Series tied 1-1.

NL Game Two -- Pittsburgh raises the level of pounding in a 10-0 win. Ian Davidson throws a two-hitter.

League Series, Game Three: 10/23/2036, Rogers Centre, Toronto.
Pitching is just killing us. There: I didn't bury the lede. Down 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth, we give up five runs on five hits, including a three-run shot. We get two back in the fifth, then tie it up with a five-hit sixth, including a two-run homer from Jim Mullen. Sadly, Bobby Little gives up a solo shot to Donnie Reisert in the sixth, and that's all she wrote. We did put two on the ninth, but couldn't get anyone past second. We're down 2-1, and facing two more games in Toronto. Toronto 8, Hawaii 7. Toronto leads 2-1.

NL Game Three -- Tighter game, but again it's the Pirates winning, 4-1. One game from a sweep.

League Series, Game Four: 10/24/2036, Rogers Centre, Toronto.
Ken Clark goes on short rest, because everyone else blows. Desperation? Maybe. Anyway...Josh Drayton hits a solo homer in the third, giving us a lead for once. Danny Rivera ties it with his own solo blast in the fourth. In the sixth, our big guy shows up in the clutch: Dunklee works a full count with a gaggle of foul balls, then puts one into the cheap seats in left field, bringing home Ryan Hebert. That's it for the scoring, as we get a strong pitching performance from three guys and tie the series. Clark goes five innings, giving up just the solo home run. Castillo and Yates bring it home, yielding only three walks over the last four innings. Hawaii 3, Toronto 1. Series tied 2-2.

NL Game Four -- Two runs in the top of the ninth, and it's a sweep for Pittsburgh, 5-4. Third World Series trip in four years.

League Series, Game Five: 10/25/2036, Rogers Centre, Toronto.
The rotating starter-of-the-moment for today's game is Rich Rivera. Well, that was a mistake. Preston Sorensen hits a three-run shot in the third, and a two-run blast in the fourth, and we're down 6-0. In the sixth, we manage five consecutive hits and get four runs out of it, but can't get any closer. One game away now, in a bad way. Toronto 7, Hawaii 4. Toronto leads 3-2.

League Series, Game Six: 10/25/2036, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu.
Steve Brock gets the call to keep our season alive. For once, we hold a team scoreless in the first. But...not in the second. Back-to-back solo dingers by Dan Munoz and Danny Rivera put us in a 2-0 hole, and Brock is pulled with an injury. Partida comes in for us, and keeps things nailed down until the fifth when he gives up three hits and two more runs. Down 4-0 now, feeling desperate. Bottom of the eighth, and Mullen scores from second on Hebert's single, then Drayton hits a two-run bullet to bring us to one back, 4-3. Dunklee walks, Hodge singles, and McArthur takes one in the ribs, loading the bases with two outs. Up strolls Austin Collins, owner of a 37-game hitting streak during the season...and a .077 post-season batting average. His at bat goes thus: strike, strike, ball, foul, foul, ball, foul...strike out looking. Oh man. Really. You can't even swing the bat. Sigh. We go meekly in the ninth, and the season is over. Toronto 4, Hawaii 3. Toronto wins series 4-2.


For me, the World Series is just an afterthought. Toronto vs. Pittsburgh, a rematch of last year's final. This was indeed a Fall Classic, going seven games. The home team won the first six games, but the visitor's got the ultimate prize when the Pirates scored six in the ninth to salt away a blowout game seven, winning 11-1 to nail down their seventh World Series title in history, and their second in four seasons. Congrats, Pittsburgh! Thank you for beating those damn Jays.

Next up: Wake and Season Recap
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Old 05-14-2017, 02:01 PM   #28
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Season Recap

Despite the ultimate disappointment, 2036 was a helluva ride. From 71 wins to 105, a 34-game improvement! We were predicted to win 98, and I didn't even believe that. Shows what I know. Leading the way was a pretty stunning offensive performance. We led the league in runs, hits, average, slugging, OPS, and fewest strikeouts. Also, second in doubles (in a poor ballpark for doubles), third in home runs, and third in OBP. We were only 14th in walks, leading to that slightly lower result in OBP. I'd like to see us draw more walks, but if being a free-swinging team leads to all those runs (and few strikeouts, to boot), I'll take what we have. We also had the best defensive efficiency, at .707, and the 2nd best combined ZR, +39.5. Plus, we pulled off one of two triple plays, but since I don't sim the games, I have no idea when it happened.

Looking at the individual statistics, what stands out right away is the lineup stability we maintained. We only used nineteen position players, three of whom were September call ups. Only two regulars had fewer than 500 at bats, and one (Collins) was due to being substituted out in late innings for defensive reasons. Every regular but one had double figure in home runs, and six hit over .300. Dunklee and Drayton had monster seasons, and based on WAR alone, should both be MVP candidates. Dunklee had the stronger numbers, but Drayton earned more WAR in the field (with a +11.3 ZR in center). Drayton was a steal this year at $3.5M; he goes up to 6M next year, and 13M after that. Wiggins and McArthur were no slouches either, at the plate and in the field, giving us a heck of an outfield. The infield was solid as well, although Clarke will get a look in the off-season since he makes 12M and I have to find room for super prospect Adam Groff. And Collins was good at the plate, and a little below average behind it. He slumped badly down the stretch, tho. There wasn't much production from the bench, although Miranda did more work with his glove, and Hullinger looked good in his September appearance.

Our pitching, while greatly improved from 2034, still gave me fits at times this season. Overall numbers looked okay: sixth in runs, seventh in ERA, fifth in walks allowed, 2nd in WHIP, and tied for first in OAVG and BABIP. We did give up buckets of home runs, third overall, which is unsurprising as we play in a high home run ballpark. Our $15M bullpen was the source of most of the discomfort, finishing in the bottom half of most stats, and dead last in HR/IP. In the rotation, Ken Clark became the first Islander starter to register a season ERA under 3. Brock was a good complementary starter, as was Little, if a little less so. Anderson pitched well, but once again couldn't stay healthy. Rivera walked too many to be truly effective, and Wunderlich was terrible. In the pen...so-so team stats devolved into some mediocre to poor-looking individual stats. Closer Yates started off well, but closed (pun!) poorly. Only Shewmake (great) and Key (okay) stood out, although special notice goes to Lopez, who put up good numbers until his arm fell off. His $3M salary probably won't be back, especially as he's 31 and injured until summer. Once again the pitching staff will receive the most attention this off-season.


Overall, what's not to like? Well, that bullpen for one. And a stronger bench would be nice. But at least we're entering the off-season needing tweaks rather than overhauling. How much we can do, well that will depend on our budget, whether we can hunt for some quality affordable free agents, or depend on waiting until February to see who's still around and willing to sign for peanuts.

Next up: Get the Off-Season Going
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Old 05-14-2017, 09:47 PM   #29
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Off-Season Sidebar

Before getting into the off-season funsies, for kicks let's take a look around at some recent retirements, as well as the upcoming Hall of Fame voting. Lots of visual stimulation upcoming...

Say goodbye to...
...P Orlando Ramos. Signed out of Venezuela by the Pirates in 2014; traded to BOS in 2017 for a non-entity reliever; he was the premier power pitcher in the '20s, with decent control to boot; 2022 Cy Young winner; gave up single-season record 55 HR in 2032; retired 5th overall in strikeouts. HoF? Maybe. Tons of Ks not as impressive in this era. Still, it is a lot of strikeouts.

...P Cobi Johnson. 1st round pick by STL in 2014; iron man with seventeen straight seasons of 30+ starts; built up nice career numbers by just staying healthy; 10th all-time in Ks; got his Cy Young in 2029 with LA. HoF? Career numbers say probably, Hall metrics say probably not.

...1B Colin Moran. 1st round pick by MIA in 2013; another iron man, just never got hurt while playing for great RIC teams; also very well-fed; was a doubles machine, retiring 6th all-time with 675; also 20th in career hits with 3074. HoF? Most likely, due at least to 3000 hits, even though Bill James would probably call those "hang-around" numbers.

...3B Mason Templet. 1st rounder by MIN in 2016, but failed to sign and taken 1st by TOR in 2017; traded to BAL for Manny Machado; solid, consistent, less power than ideal for a 3B; great glove too; good teammate. HoF? Not likely, but will probably garner some Veteran's Committee support twenty years from now. Is 51st in career batter WAR.

...C Chris Cullen. Another 1st rounder, by CHW in 2015; powerful slugger, with all-time great power for a catcher; so-so as a receiver; never got a shot at a title; only catcher with more than 400 career HR. HoF? Hmmm...probably. Looks similar to Mike Piazza, and he's in.

...2B Brendan Rodgers. 2015 1st rounder by HOU; piled up a lot of hits and SB, and a lot of WAR with help from a good glove; MVP in 2024, World Series in 2034 with SF; popular, but widely regarded as selfish. HoF? Based on 1st half of career, yes. But became an average player after age 31. Still, good numbers for a 2B, and generally made bad teams competitive (looking at you, HOU).

Upcoming HoF vote.
No one made it in last year. Lewis Thorpe came closest, getting 70.3% of the vote, followed by Giancarlo Stanton at 52.7. In this dynasty, no one getting 50% of the vote in one year has failed to eventually get in...but Stanton may break the chain. Stanton was pretty much a low-average power hitter, although a good one, who just doesn't have the career numbers to get in. Likewise, I don't see the hype behind Thorpe either. He was a good, but not dominant, starter for a dozen years. He did win a Cy Young, but wasn't someone you thought of when listing the best pitchers of the era. I didn't vote for either one.

This year's new crop includes one sure-fire entrant, and a couple of maybes. Mike Trout makes his first appearance, and is a shoo-in. Injuries kept him from putting up elite all-time numbers, but was so productive when healthy that he won five consecutive MVP awards. No other new batter deserves votes, but two deserve special mention. First is OF Justin Williams, if only for his monster MVP and triple crown season in 2021, hitting .325-51-150. One-fifth of his career HR and RBI came in that season, and 8.6 WAR of his 33.2 career total. Then there's C Natsume Matsu****a, who had a 12-year career with the Brewers (starting six years), with good power numbers. He gets a nod due to his size: 5'6", 320 pounds upon retirement. No truth to the rumors that he's in sumo training right now. (EDIT: LOL at the boards ex-ing out Natsume's last name.)

The crop of pitchers is a little more iffy. There's Paco Rodriguez, a long-time closer who's career WAR and Hall metrics suggest he's in. He also won the 2029 Hoyt Wilhelm award, during his last year as a closer. Finally, there are two former RIC standouts. Starter Michael Samuels was dominant when healthy, winning three Cy Youngs and a fantastic W%, but how much were his stats boosted by great teams? Did he do enough on his own to get in? Closer Nabil Crismatt put up some great total saves, but had oddly low WAR numbers. He's got good Hall metrics, but are his numbers also inflated by playing for those great RIC teams?

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Old 05-16-2017, 10:28 PM   #30
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Off-Season, Part 1

Let's get it started...

...Seattle fired Joe Quinn, who won 105 games in 2035, but only 74 last year. He's replaced by Kevin Boggan, coming off two years in Mexico.
...Detroit fires manager Luis Rojas, replacing him with Italian Francesco Miani. Miani has no experience anywhere on the books. He must have incriminating photos somewhere.
...The Yankees fire Tony Diaz after two bad seasons; hire Miguel Rodriguez, who's spent two years as bench coach sitting right next to Diaz.
...Seattle fired Kevin Boggan, with his 0-0 record after three weeks on the job. Wth, Mariners. Maybe they'll go with no manager next year.
...Three teams were sold: Toronto, Brooklyn, and the White Sox. The Jays are now owned by Jody Patterson, a guy who wants EXTREME PROFIT! above all else, so I'm curious to see how soon they start selling off expensive parts. Brooklyn's new owner, Jordan Bratcher, becomes the only African-American owner in MLB. The Reinsdorf family sold the Sox to Andy Johnston, a meddling economizer who wants money, money, money. They were an awful team (66 wins) last year that made $16M, so my thoughts are with you, Sox fans.

In early November, I received a postcard from the Caymans from our owner, Alexis Pagan. "Congrats! I have given you a score of 857 for the past season!" Um, what? "I am delighted with your performance in accomplishing all your goals. Next year is new, however, so you must keep working hard! Here is what I want: a title by 2041. Good luck! And remember to submit all receipts, and keep to your $50 food and beverage per diem." On the less bizarre side, he also raised the team budget to $104M, suggesting I spend no more than 80 mill on players. I'm thinking about installing a wet bar in my office.

MLB announces the disabled list minimum stay is now 11 days, up from 7. Why.

Back to the budget...Last year's player salaries totaled 78 mill. The Pagan has decreed I spend no more than 80 mill for 2037. You would think then that I only have 2 mill to spend on new players, but I've got more movement in mind, and hope that I can come in around 75 mill or so by Opening Day, giving some flexibility for moves during the season. Let's start with the arbitration period and our upcoming free agents. The latter first: three relievers, Key, Lopez, and McAdam will go UFA without new deals. These three made 6.7 million last year, and re-signing all three would cost me over 8 mill. I decline on all three, and will not submit the ridiculous 13 mill qualifying offer. I might try to re-sign Key during free agency, as he was at least decent. Lopez was great, but will be injured until summer, and will be 32, so I might be able to lowball him during the season. I'm fine with losing all three.

Every other end-of-season reliever on my team needs an arbitration offer: Balderston, Bolin, Shewmake, and Yates. Balderston wants over 1 mill; no thanks. Bolin I offer 700k. Shewmake made 2.75 mill, and I offer 3.1. Yates made 3.75, and wants 4.5. I decline to offer him anything, and wish him well. My intention is to make Shewmake my new closer, and keep Bolin on the cheap. That's two pitchers, plus two more on the farm that are good enough for the majors (more on them later), making four relievers. I want to go to camp with nine or ten MLB-ready relief pitchers on the roster, so I've got to do some scouring and deciding over these next few months. And I want to spend less than the nearly 15 million I paid out to eight guys in a fairly mediocre crew last year. Way less. My owner is making me a cheapskate. Let's hope it doesn't come back to bite me.

Seven batters need offers. The only one I decline is backup catcher Willie Zamorano. I make offers to four players for under a million each: 3B Ryan Hebert, backup IF Ervin Miranda, and backup OFs Marc Ferenczi and Kelvin Moreno. Starting SS Jim Mullen gets an offer for 2.5 mill (up from minimum), and RF Chris Wiggins 2.75 mill (also up from minimum). You can see why I want to cut beaucoups salary from the bullpen.

As we begin the off-season, let's take a look at the team makup at present. Austin Collins will be back at catcher. I need a backup, and September call up Jim Yancy will get a shot. He doesn't hit, but is good defensively. There's little else in the system, so I'll be looking to see if any affordable guys, with good defense and at least passable offense, come up in free agency. The outfield is set, with McArthur, Drayton, and Wiggins locked in place. I'd like some better play from the reserves, and despite brining back last year's bench (Ferenczi and Moreno) for now, I'm open to more competition there. I've got a few guys in AAA/AA who could figure in camp, but no one who I'd be okay with should one of the starters get injured long-term. That is a concern.

The infield may get shuffled around. Dunklee is set at first, no question. Clarke put up good numbers, but I'd like better from someone making 12 mill (most on the team). Mullen got little attention all season, but put up 4.7 WAR, including 46 doubles (in a bad doubles park), and decent defense. Hebert, at third, had another high BA, and put up more WAR this year in 200 fewer AB (2.4 vs 1.3). Like Mullen, he played acceptable defense. The wrench in the system in 2035 #1 overall Adam Groff, who's ready for the big time, and can play third and short. His arm is good enough for both positions, and is better than Mullen's, but Mullen has the better range and DP capability. Hebert has the slightly better glove than Groff at third (15 to 14), but less arm and less range. He's also better than Groff at DP (15 to 11). And Hebert can play 2B, hmm... My current thinking is to set the field like this: 1B Dunklee, 2B Hebert, 3B Groff, SS Mullen. For the bench, Ervin Miranda is solid at the three skill IF positions, and I want to give prospect 2B Josh Robertson a chance as well. He's very similar to Hebert: high contact and gap, no power, suspect plate discipline. Good fielder around the infield too, but his arm is not quite up to my standards for third or short. That looks like Clarke is out. The fans won't like it, but my budget will, especially as he jumps up to 22 mill for 2038 and 2039.

Finally, at DH, Erik Hodge was adequate last year, with 23 HR and a slash of .282/.306/.484 in 555 PA. But I like late season call up Nate Hullinger (6 HR in 42 PA). His contact and gap are slightly worse than Hodge's, but his power is much better. Discipline and avoid K's are a wash. Neither is great shakes with the glove, but Hullinger is noticeably better. Both are limited to DH or 1B. Both are left-handed, but Hullinger has much better L/R split ratings. Hodge is 25 (Hullinger 26), and cheap, so I think he'll be attractive trade bait.

Pitching. Let's start with the pen, adding to what's been written above. Shewmake will be back, and will make a lights-out closer, I think. Bolin is cheap, and coming back. On the farm, Evan Larkins pitched well in AAA, but has done poorly for us in his two shots in '35 and '36. He'll get one more chance. Bryan Hardin has been a AAA starter, and MLB reliever in two short stints with Colorado. He's got ratings and pitches enough to start, but no stamina. I think he'll be a passable middle reliever and emergency starter. From the earlier paragraph, Balderston, Key, McAdam, and Yates are gone. Vicente Ixcoy, who my scouts love, but who became a BP-tossing, flu-ridden, brawl-starting disaster by the end of the season, will also not be back. There are four other guys in the system--Travis Kelley, Pat Stanley, Steve Cenci, and Salvador de la Cruz--who are marginal big leaguers at this point, and will need some off-season growth to figure any larger in our future plans. This is clearly our area of biggest need, and I may take the MLB route and just bring in a ton of barely-good-enough guys and rotate them in and out of the pen during the season. Can we win with a star closer and a bunch of nobodies? Ugh.

The rotation is a little more settled, but still needs attention. Ken Clark established himself as our #1, having a season that may merit some Cy Young attention. Steve Brock was a good #2, and will be back. Bobby Little is our only lefty, and still has some growth left according to my scouts. He's just 24, and had enough good outings last year to make me pencil him into next year's rotation already. Bobby Anderson pitched well, but got hurt for the second straight season, making only 17 starts. His stuff is not overwhelming (5.2 K/9), and none of his ratings impress. He made 8.5 mill last year, which will shoot up to 13.3 next year. Like 2B Josh Clarke, I'd like more production out of someone making over 10 mill, so he's a trade candidate. Rich Rivera is an original Islander, missed half the season (16 starts), and didn't produce much when he did start (4.11 ERA, 85 IP, 60 BB, -0.1 WAR). His arbitration estimate is 4.6 mill, so he won't be back. Jimmy Wunderlich has been a disappointment: two seasons with an ERA over 5, 424 hits in 357 IP, and a K/BB ratio less than two. And he's a groundballer who gave up 30 HR last year. His salary will jump from 5.5 to 6.5 mill next year. He's got quality ratings, however, and my scouts want me to keep him. Despite the evidence, I'm inclined to keep him for now. Finally, there's Angelo Partida. Good ratings, high velo (tops out at 100), keeps the ball down. But he missed a month in 2035 after we traded for him, and made only 6 starts last year between MLB and AAA. It's way too early to give up on him, but if he can't stay healthy, he won't stay in Hawaii. So we're looking at Clark, Brock, Little, Wunderlich, and Partida as the rotation at present, and looking to trade Anderson.

To summarize, my early thinking for our off-season looks like this:
...acquire a backup defensive catcher
...trade 2B Phil Clarke for pitching
...trade SP Bobby Anderson for ???
...bring in 4-6 bullpen arms to compete in camp
...keep player budget to under 80 million

Simple, right?
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Old 05-21-2017, 07:03 PM   #31
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Off-Season Part 2

More fun, off-season style

(New additions will be underlined.)

...The Islanders off-season hits the ground running, as we claim three players off waivers on one day. First, we nab OF Adam Dann from San Diego. Took a flyer on Dann, as he's 28 with only seven MLB at bats (one hit). Those are his only plate appearances above AA. He has little power, and won't hit much else besides, but is dynamic in the field. He rates at all three positions, has a great arm, great glove, and great range. Great! And yet, due to his weak bat he may still end up in AAA, if I can sneak him through waivers at the end of camp. No risk attached, though.

After Dann, we grab two relievers, trying to address that shortcoming I'm sure you're tired of hearing me whine about. We get 25-year-old lefty Aaron Glass from Seattle, and 26-year-old righty Chris Mayer from Richmond. Glass is all power, with a 99 MPH fastball and an even better curve. His control is average, but if he can keep the ball down, our infield defense should help make up for that. He had a combined 3.16 ERA in 71 IP for Philly and Seattle. Mayer has little big league experience (6 GP in two seasons), but is well-rated across the board, and combines a great slider with a good cutter. He's at least another decent-enough body to help plug the gap. Both will make minimum next year.

...To make room for more off-season moves, I waive backup C Willie Zamorano. He was an above-average platoon catcher for two seasons, but last year was slumpy and cranky, and is due a raise. He's claimed by the Angels.

...AWARD TIME: Travis McArthur wins the Gold Glove in LF. He started 154 games, made 1 error, had 19 assists, and a +10.7 ZR. Jack Shewmake, now our closer but a setup man last year, wins the AL Hoyt Wilhelm award. Silver Sluggers went to 1B Jeremy Dunklee and CF Josh Drayton. Ken Clark finished second in AL Cy Young voting (Toronto's Dave Henderson won his second consecutive award). AND....Dunklee wins the AL MVP award; Drayton finished third.

...ARBITRATIONS: As usual, we won the cheap ones, and lost the expensive ones. Moreno, Ferenczi, Miranda, Hebert, and Bolin will all make 800 or 750K. Wiggins will now make 4M, Shewmake 4.25, and Mullen 3.36. All raises have been budgeted for, so these aren't out of line.

...LET'S MAKE A DEAL: November ends with two trades. First, we send DH Erik Hodge and OF Marc Ferenczi to the Mets, getting CF Jason Raymer and RP Vinny Cruz. Raymer is similar to Dann, above, but a slightly better hitter and better baserunner. Cruz is a righty, solid in all areas, has three pitches, and stamina enough to be a spot starter for us. Raymer makes minimum, Cruz 980K.

Deal #2 is a lot bigger. We send 2B Phil Clarke and SP Bobby Anderson, along with prospects Aldo Gouweleeuw and Lawrence Teklu (both pitchers), to Minnesota for SP Tom DiFranco and RP Bryan Dever. Clarke was solid in his single year for us, but his escalating salary and rising prospects made him expendable; like Clarke, Anderson's salary had me looking to deal him. Aldo and Teklu are decent, but were well down the line on our prospect list. DiFranco, a 31-year-old lefty, has been a 3-4 WAR pitcher his career. He has four pitches, is a groundballer, and has better stuff and movement than Anderson, although lower control. He's only signed through next year however, so we'll have to reassess his future after the season. Dever's a high-stuff, high-movement guy, with good control. We're piling up relievers now.

...Rule 5 Draft comes and goes....and we add two more players. (Where will they all go?) OF Ernesto Martinez is our first pick, from Cincinnati. Good hitter with power, good fielder with a great arm, and is left-handed. Will absolutely not hit against lefty pitching, though. Next, we take C Jon Hudson from Atlanta. Decent contact and gap, won't strike out much, below average power and eye. Good fielder, and is "captain material." Both are on minor league deals.

...We finally dip into free agency with the signing of C Orlando Villanueva. He's 24, left-handed, with pronounced L/R splits. He's a decent enough hitter, but with a poor eye. He'll compete with Hudson to be the backup catcher we need. He had 8 at bats with Philly, with 3 hits, but hit poorly in AAA. He's a great clubhouse guy, and agrees to a minor league contract.

...We beef up our rotation a little more by signing free agent Brady Dunne. He's a righty, and is 35, but has been remarkably durable. He's been a 4-5 WAR guy most of his career, with a 98-MPH fastball coupled with a top changeup and good slider. His control is also remarkable, walking less than 2 men per game, and also keeps the ball down. He wasn't cheap, signing for $14M per for two years. But I had him pegged as the #2 free agent starter this fall, behind former Expo Bill Salazar, who is a year-in, year-out Cy Young candidate. Milwaukee got him for 19M per for the next 8 years. Dunne spent 2036 with the Dodgers.

...Yes, another reliever: Righty Steve Miller signs for 1.2M. Big time stuff, with a fastball that hits 101. Also has good movement and control. I think he can be a quality set up guy for us. He made 21 starts for Baltimore last year, but doesn't have the third pitch for the rotation. He's popular, and the fans go wild (!) after his signing.

...One more: we re-sign Ryan Key to a three-year deal, once he decided to stop asking for 2M per year. Very similar to Miller, above, but with less velo. Split between middle relief and a setup role last year.

...To make room for the recent signings, I place several marginal players on waivers, pending reassignment. We do lose one, however: original Islander draft pick OF Tred Winchester gets claimed by Washington. He had 8.5 WAR in AAA last year, which was by far his career highlight.

The big free agent signings this off-season are:
...LAD signs P Andy Fisher, 2 yrs 31.3M. Premiere SP numbers, but only a 7 stamina. They want him to close. Lot of money for a closer.
...RIC brings IF Ty Cobb (yep) back home, after four years in Detroit. He'll get 8.6 per for 2 years. A truly amazing contact hitter, his 14-year slash line is .355/.451/.420. He's hit 12 HR in those 14 years.
...RIC adds SP Gabe Pamperin, 4 yrs 58M. Was 12-12, 3.00 ERA, 6.3 WAR for Boston.
...KC adds the only international FA worth mentioning, RF Hakaru Watanabe. He'll hit highlight reel HRs, will probably bat .250, and strike out at least once per game. He signs for 9.4M per for 2 yrs.
...LAD gets 3B Josh Sikes for 83.7M over 6 yrs. That's a lot of green for a guy who's only topped 4 WAR once, averages 190 K's per season, and a career slash of .216/.306/.406.
...KC signs SP Daryll Evans for 18.1M for 2 yrs. Maybe we got Dunne on the cheap after all. He's a 5 WAR guy, but is now 32. That much cash ought to get you an ace, not a #3 guy.
...PHI signs SP Drew Warren for 10.4 per, and SP Tom Sloan for 13M per. They already have two other guys making over 13M, meaning they'll have nearly 60M invested in their rotation for 2037. Bears watching.
...CIN signs P Alex Lopez for 5.5M for 3 yrs. Too bad; he pitched for us last year, and will be on the DL until mid-summer, meaning I'd hoped other teams would avoid him and I could try signing him on the cheap while rehabbing him for 2038.
...MIL signs SP Bill Salazar away from the Expos, for 152M over 8 yrs. Team captain, solid ace material. Did miss 1/2 the season last year. (See also: Brady Dunne note, above.)
...MTL may have lost in pitching, but gained CF Andy Sanchez, who'll make 41.9M over 4 yrs. A fan favorite known for his highlight-reel plays in center, he might also compete for the NL batting crown.
...LAD overpay for RP Erik Davis, getting him at 8.1M per for 3 yrs. He's decent enough, but I signed better for 1.2M and under. The Dodgers have way more money than sense.
...CHW gives CL Casee Sutherland 12.6M for next season. Last year's NL Wilhelm Award winner had 110 K in 84 IP for Washington, but twelve million bucks from a last place team?
...starting pitching was all the rage this FA season. Also signed were: Erik McKay (RIC, 22.4M, 2 yrs); Ian Davidson (TEX, 48.4M, 4 yrs); Mike Gardner (CHC, 74.3M, 5 yrs)

Hall voters put three players in this year: OF Mike Trout (98.7%), CL Paco Rodriguez (92.3), and SP Michael Samuels (85.5). I'm not surprised these three got in, but I am a little surprised that Rodriguez and Samuels made it their first year on the ballot. Lewis Thorpe (71.4) gained a percent, and Nabil Crismatt got 64.6 percent; no one else received more than 50 percent of the vote. There were no veteran's committee additions this year. (See also the HoF post, above.)

The Colorado Rockies are no more. Despite (or maybe due to) being a Colorado native, owner Charlie Monfort has moved the team to Austin, Texas, where they will become the Outlaws. Monfort cited "lack of fan support" as a critical reason for the move. In their 43-year history, the Rockies only made the playoffs four times, with no division titles and zero championships. They had not made the playoffs since 2021, and had only one winning season since 2027. They won 61 games in 2036, and there's little hope that they'll win more in 2037. The team has been exceptionally quiet this off-season, making eight waiver claims and only one minor trade with Richmond. They'll play in 45,500 seat Clark Field, a hitter's ballpark that favors right handed batters.

Next up: Spring Training and all that jazz
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Old 05-26-2017, 10:52 PM   #32
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Spring Training

We won 19 games, new players looked good, and (in general) I like our lineup. However...this Spring Training was a major bummer.

First, the good. It's Spring Training, so the games don't count, but wins any time are better than losses. Our new DH, Nate Hullinger, hit 7 HR, a good start; 3B Adam Groff hit the cover off the ball; all of our possible backup OF hit well, giving me a difficult decision for final lineup positions; Orlando Villanueva looks good as our new backup catcher.

Now, the bad: Injuries. We suffered major setbacks in two critical positions, and a third to a top regular. First, and least critical, LF Travis McArthur will miss a month, but we're covered with adequate replacement while we wait for him to come back. Now the worse news... Closer Jack Shewmake will miss three months, throwing my bullpen into disarray. And...our new FA jewel Brady Dunne, having a perfect ST through three starts, blew out his elbow and will be out for over a year. Fourteen months, to be exact. His signing cost us our next first round pick, and now we won't even have him for this season, and likely half of next year.

The Lineup
For now, Steve Miller will be our closer. Miller's got good stuff, hits 101 MPH, and keeps the ball down. If he falters, we'll move Ryan Key from setup. I like our bullpen, but was counting on Shewmake being our lights-out closer. So his loss sets us back, but we have options. Five of our current seven relievers (not counting Shewmake) are new to us, so I expect some shaking out of responsibilities. But the talent is there. Newbie Bryan Dever is our other setup man, with Adrian Bolin, Vinny Cruz, and Chris Mayer in middle relief. Aaron Glass is the LOOGY. Cruz is also our emergency starter.

Dunne's loss hurts my pride, but I still like our rotation. Ken Clark, Steve Brock, and Bobby Little return to anchor things. Tom DiFranco came over from Minnesota and had a bad spring, but for now he's our #2 starter. Dunne's injury meant good news for Jimmy Wunderlich: he's had two bad seasons for us, but was unhittable in three spring starts. Keep that momentum up, Jimmy!

McArthur's injury means Rule 5 pickup Ernesto Martinez gets a month in LF to show his stuff. Holdover Kelvin Moreno and newbie Jason Raymer are the backups. Josh Drayton and Chris Wiggins are the other two starters. In the infield, we're looking forward to a strong season from super rookie Adam Groff. Ryan Hebert moves from third to second to make room for him. Jeremy Dunklee is back at first, as is Jim Mullen at short. Super sub Ervin Miranda backs them all up.

Austin Collins had a strong spring, and there was a clear winner for the role as his backup. Rule 5 draftee Jon Hudson went hitless in the spring, so he'll probably be released. Villanueva hit well to win the role, and holdover Jim Yancy will go to AAA and be the first callup.

Nate Hullinger is a solid power bat at DH.

Player Development Snapshot
We were a top five system last year, but most of our top prospects spent the season in the majors, so they no longer count. As a result, we've dropped to thirtieth (of 36 teams). SP Rob Hart is our top prospect, rating 49th in MLB. If his control develops, he's a #2 or #3 starter. He's 20 and still developing. Our only other rated prospect is 19-year-old OF Mel Carillo, ranked 166th. My scouts still swear he's got potential to be a top of the lineup hitter with 20-25 HR power. Both guys will start the season in AA. A more detailed look at the system will come after the June draft.

Season Predictions
MLB does not like us this year. The league says we'll win 83 games and miss the playoffs. We'll have a terrible offense and hit few homers. They do say we'll have the second best pitching in the AL, so that's something. Toronto, Cleveland, and Oakland will win their divisions, with Boston and Seattle as the wild card teams. In the NL, the Mets are predicted to win their first division title since 2006, with Pittsburgh and the Dodgers also topping their divisions. Cincinnati and Montreal are the wildcards. Four guys are predicted to hit 50 HR, with Pittsburgh's Brendan Glenn in line for a triple crown.

Frankly, this is crap. On paper, our hitting surpasses our pitching, even if we don't live up to last year's numbers. I think we've got the talent to win at least 90 games, given that we won 104 last year with largely the same lineup. A 21-game decline doesn't seem likely, barring extreme circumstances. Plus, we were #5 in off-season WAR gained, at 6.5...even if we did lose half of that with Dunne's injury. No, we'll be better than 83 wins.

As an aside, the Yankees gained the most WAR this off-season: 11.5. They remade their bullpen, and gained a #1 SP. They still stink, however. The Phillies, Rangers, and Dodgers are next in line, with us at #5. At the bottom, Portland lost 11.3 WAR, losing their top SP, their CF, and their 1B platoon. Pittsburgh is next, having lost two top SP and their #1 catcher. Their lineup is still potent, though they may give up a lot more runs this season.

We'll see. I'm still optimistic we'll make the playoffs again.

Next up: Start of season!
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Old 05-28-2017, 05:57 PM   #33
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2037 Opening Homestand

PSYCH! MLB released the wrong data to teams regarding their season predictions. I'm informed that the responsible parties have been sacked. This time, we're predicted to tie with Oakland for our division title, with 95 wins. Toronto wins the East, and KC in the tough Central by one game over Milwaukee and Chicago, and Cleveland one more back. We'll be top five in hitting and pitching in the AL, and Groff, Dunklee, and Drayton will be top ten hitters. Clark and Miller will have great seasons on the mound. That's more like it.

In the Senior Circuit, Pittsburgh will be the class of baseball with 106 wins, the Mets will win the East, and the Giants and Dodgers will tie out West. Pittsburgh has five batters in the top ten list, and two pitchers.

Washington, Houston, and the Yankees will vie for the #1 overall pick.

Btw, remember Bill Salazar? He's the free agent SP we wanted, but got outbid for by Milwaukee, forcing us to settle for the now-armless Dunne. A true ace, #1 starter. His elbow blew out in the spring, and he's done for 13 months. Sound familiar? The curse is on.

Now, on to the season...

Opening Day and Nine-Game Homestand
MLB 2037 kicks off on Monday, April 6 with eleven games. Our season opens with three series against the Tigers, White Sox, and Twins. We are still playing in the cavernous and HR-friendly Aloha Stadium, which seats 50.5K. Our opening day starter will be our ace, Ken Clark.

April 6-8 vs. DETROIT
The Tigers are predicted to finish last in the Central with 76 wins. They're managed by Francesco Miani, the only Italian manager in MLB. He went 2-0 at the end of 2036, so he's undefeated in MLB! Since 2014, they have 11 division titles, 11 playoff appearances, and 0 World Series.

#1: LOSS 8-10...a five-run eighth (all unearned) dooms us...teams combine for 7 HR
#2: LOSS 0-4...held to three hits...Tom DiFranco gives up 11 hits in 6 innings
#3: LOSS 7-17...wow, we gave up 8 HR...best ERA of today's pitchers is 10.80...Tigers manager Miani is still undefeated

Starting the season 0-3 against a (predicted-to-be) bad team. Not the best way to begin. We gave up 12 HR and 31 runs. Move along, nothing to see here.

April 10-12 vs. CHICAGO
The Sox have won less than 70 games three of the last four seasons. They're predicted to vie for the Central crown this year, with 86 wins. Since 2014, they have 3 division titles, 8 playoff appearances, and a World Series in 2021. They're led by former MLB OF Jose Ortiz, starting his third full season with the team.

#4: WIN 6-3...finally...Bobby Little strikes out 7 in 7 IP for the win...Dunklee gets three hits and two RBI
#5: LOSS 6-7...gave up 2 in the ninth to drop the game...Wunderlich gives up 5 in 7 IP...Groff with 2 HR
#6: WIN 14-6...Clark gets battered but we pound 5 HR to take the game anyway...positions 3-6 in the order are hitting over .300

We're 2-4, not getting hits (.250), but getting on base (.378 OBP) and have hit 14 HR. Unfortunately, we've given up 18 HR and have the worst pitching in the league. 41 runs for, 47 runs against. It's only six games; no time for panic.

April 13-15 vs. MINNESOTA
The Twins are coming off four straight 90+ win seasons, but are predicted to wind up with only 81 this year. They have 5 division titles and 9 playoff appearances. Jose Mateo is their manager, entering his 13th year with the club.

#7: WIN 6-0...DiFranco tosses a one-hitter...attendance below 30K for first time in over a year
#8: LOSS 1-2...Dunklee and Groff two hits apiece...Brock gives up 2 runs in 5 IP, ERA still over 10...first game of double header
#9: WIN 2-1...Little gives up 1 run in 7 IP, now 2-0...Drayton hit HR in both games of twinbill

Finally a winning series. And some good pitching. Attendance has dropped off the table, though, so we've got to start winning games to get the fans in the seats. I need the cash.

Next up: Road Trip!
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Old 05-28-2017, 06:21 PM   #34
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April Road Trip!

Heading into our first road trip of the season, we're 4-5, fifth place, two games back of Oakland. Elsewhere, Atlanta and Montreal have started 8-1, and the Giants are 1-7. Our roadie is ten games: four at Oakland, three at Houston, and three in Cleveland.

April 16-19 @ OAKLAND
Predicted to win 95 games, the A's are off to a good start at 6-3. They're managed by Robert Woodard, in his sixth season with the team. They're led by All-Star C Vinny Vargas, last year's batting champ and MVP runner up. He's hitting .519 thus far.

#10: WIN 7-3...Groff hits his 5th...Wunderlich remembers he gets paid to get guys out, yielding just five hits and one run over seven innings
#11: WIN 7-3...Clark is player of game, giving up 2 runs in 6 innings
#12: WIN 4-1...Groff parks #6...DiFranco goes 7, gives up 6 hits, 1 run
#13: WIN 4-3...Drayton hits his 6th HR...Brock also finally comes around, giving up no ER in 5.1 IP...SWEEP!

A four game sweep, just what the doctor ordered. This is the pitching staff I thought I'd built during the off-season....I know, I know: it's early yet. We're now 8-5, 1/2 game behind Houston, where we head next.

April 20-22 @ HOUSTON
Long-time afterthoughts, the Astros were predicted to finish dead last in our division, but are off to a decent start. One division title and one playoff appearance in over 30 years. Managed by Valerio de los Santos, in his third year. This year, their pitching staff is what's keeping them afloat: they're near the bottom in almost every offensive category, and have three OF currently on the DL.

#14: LOSS 3-4...16 innings...Little pitches 8 strong innings, Dever 5.2 in relief, but takes the loss...why did he pitch so long?
#15: LOSS 4-8...Wunderlich pitches depressingly poorly again...Groff strains a hammy, is dtd for 2-3 weeks...sigh...from sweep to swept?
#16: WIN 8-5...a salvage win...four HR...Clark gets banged around but we hit our way to the win

More back-and-forth nonsense. Poor pitching and spotty hitting. We're relying too much on the 3-run HR, a la Earl Weaver. We're 2nd in HR, 3rd in runs scored, but only 12th in AVG and 9th in OBP.

Off day on the 23rd, and I place Adam Groff on the 11-day DL. It's early days, so I can afford this right now. Eddie Aguilera is called up; he'll start at 3B against lefties, with supersub Ervin Miranda going against righties.

April 24-26 @ CLEVELAND
A continuing portrait of mediocrity these recent decades, the Indians have been to the playoffs just once (2035) and have no division titles. They've rarely been truly bad either, with only a handful of 60-win seasons. They're managed by former minor league catcher Jose Jimenez, in his first year as a manager or coach anywhere. Pitching is struggling, with four relievers on the shelf. Hitting is decent, and led by Tornado Tackett, a dynamic hitting CF who should really be in left or at DH. 1B Justin Wright and Curaçaon catcher Robert van Wijk also figure.

#17: LOSS 4-9...DiFranco's up-and-down season continues as he's knocked out after 4 innings
#18: WIN 8-4...15 hits, 6 walks, but our guys combine to leave 36 runners on base...and we still scored 8 times?
#19: WIN 3-1...Little goes 5 IP (rain delay), but gets the win to go to 3-0

Might things be stabilizing finally? I don't expect us to win every game (well...) but this schizophrenic pitching is starting to get to me. And before you ask: our pen is outpitching our starters, so piling up on cheap relievers hasn't hurt us...yet.

Speaking of relief, closer Jack Shewmake is now 2 months away from returning. I'll give him some rehab time in KC when he activates. And LF Travis McArthur is just 2 days away. He'll come straight back to the big team, since we're getting zero production (Martinez and Raymer are 8-for-52 with no HR) in left so far. A rusty McArthur has to be better than that, right?

Next up: End of April and Monthly Report
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Old 05-29-2017, 07:40 PM   #35
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End of April

Let's finish up the month.

April 28-30 vs. KANSAS CITY
The first place (13-6) Royals come to town to wrap up April. KC's been on quite a roll lately, making the post-season 9 of the past 11 seasons, and making the Series in 2027 (they lost). They've got strong pitching and hitting, and rank no lower than 8th in any of the major stats so far this season. They've hit the most HR in the AL, with 32-year-old rookie Hakaru Watanabe leading the way with 10. Manager Eli Guy is in his 16th season at the helm, and it's interesting to note that his "Outstanding" reputation doesn't mean that his players like him. Quite the opposite.

#20: WIN 5-4...Steve Miller Band tried to give this away with 2 runs in the ninth, but we rallied...Wunderlich was wunderbar, with 10 Ks
#21: LOSS 4-5...Watanabe HR in the 13th was the difference...bullpen pitched well, six runners in six innings...SS Mullen injured, pending
#22: WIN 8-2...Dunklee grand slam in the 5th, only his 3rd HR...DiFranco complete game, 7 hits, 6 K

Two wins out of three against a very good opponent, nice. It's very easy to get wrapped up in the ups and downs of each series, but taking a step back and I can see that we're starting to trend upward. We're tied for first with Oakland, our pitching has come around, the bullpen looks solid so far, and we're finally hitting more. Fingers crossed for Mullen's injury; he's hit .362 with 4 HR this month, and is a solid fielder. Losing him long-term will really sting.

(See stats below.) Batting: Wiggins, Drayton, Hebert, and Collins were all on fire this time last year. At least all but Drayton are coming around, having raised their averages by 20-40 points the past ten games or so. Drayton was an MVP candidate last season; he's hitting bombs but doing little else right now...Mullen had 14 BB in 549 PA last year, so 5 walks this month is stupendous for him...Rookie Adam Groff has been outstanding; he comes off the DL in a week, good news especially if Mullen is out for a while. Pitching: Clark needs to keep the ball in the yard, simple as that...Brock is looking at a demotion, especially as we have a number of guys in KC pitching very well right now...Our new pen (only Key and Boldin are holdovers) has shaped up lately, and looks sharp right now...But man, what do I have against Bolin? He made 14 appearances last year despite being on the roster all season, and he's got only the one so far this year. (And what a crapfest that was.)

Looking around at the league (see standings, below), there are few surprises. Detroit is surpassing expectations, New Orleans and St Louis living down to theirs. (NO lost 12 in a row at one point.)...There's parity in the AL East, although I'll be surprised if Toronto doesn't open up a nice lead by, say, the All-Star break...Pittsburgh is playing through a lot of pain right now: two all-star regulars are out, one for the season; and two of their starting pitchers are gone. They've had to move knuckleballer Jeremy Gearhart (with his 10 stuff and 9 control) into the rotation, where he threw a one-hitter his first outing...KC has 38 HR in 22 games, Miami 37 in 21.
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May, part 1

It's the merry month of May. We've got 29 games in 31 days, including nine interleague games. Let's get started with the first half of the month.

May 1-3 vs. MILWAUKEE
Another franchise that's become an afterthought every season. Just four playoff appearances, three division titles. MLB predicted them to vie for the Central title this year; so far they're 10-11. Pitching has been their undoing, ranking in the bottom quarter stat-wise across the board. Hitting has been decent, first in BA, 2nd in OBP, 6th in runs. Managed by Tommy Everidge, in his fourth year, after four years as their batting coach. In his 23 year career, he's never managed a team to the playoffs. They do have a happy owner, loyal fans, and a good (ranked 6th) farm system. They're led by two good young outfielders, Jesus Esparsa and Darius Arrington, and have former MVP Tyler Markey behind the plate. Injuries have hurt, losing SS Tyler Peek and 1B Doofus Hernandez for months, as well as big splash FA signee pitcher Bill Salazar for the season. And their pitching...only two pitchers on the current staff have an ERA below 4.50.

#23: WIN 7-2...Dunklee 3 hits, including 2B and HR...Brock pitches well, Dever gets the win after a 5-run 8th inning...42K attendance
#24: WIN 6-0...Little goes the distance, 5 hits, 7 K...Dunklee strains a hammy, is dtd for 1-2 weeks; probably won't DL him...42K again
#25: LOSS 4-9...Wunderlich was awful: 0K, 8 H, 7 ER, 5.2 IP...43K showed up, so that's good

Was hoping for a sweep, but oh well. Was also hoping that Wunderlich wouldn't continue his one-step-forward-one-step-back routine, but again...oh well. Dunklee's injury is a concern, but we need his big bat, and his swing isn't affected. Plus, he doesn't run anyway.

May 4-6 @ TEXAS
Currently at 14-12, in fourth, 1.5 games back. Managed by Drew Saylor, in his fifth year at the helm (plus two as BC). Rangers aren't doing anything particularly well so far, except hitting home runs (39 in 26 GP). 1B Raul Molina leads the team in hitting, but he'll miss the first two games with a hand injury. RF Sean Holliday (2034 AL ROY) is also solid, as is power pitcher deluxe Mike Rath (though struggling with a K/9 under 10 for the first time). We'll see him in game #3.

Trainer Jordan Villalobos informs me on the 4th that Mullen will be out for 2-3 weeks with a torn quad. You'd think that would be worse than a 2-3 week injury...We call up 2034 2nd rounder Josh Robertson for his first stint in the bigs.

#26: LOSS 1-2...Clark gives up 3 hits in 8 IP, but a 2-run HR...we load the bases in the 9th but can't score
#27: WIN 11-7...DiFranco has a bad, bad outing...Miranda's bases loaded triple in the 9th was the difference
#28: WIN 3-1...Edgar Martinez 2-run HR in the 10th wins the game...Brock pitches well, bullpen yields just 2 hits in 4 IP

Overall, a pretty good series. We lost our best-pitched game. Robertson went 0-for-9. Groff comes back tomorrow, so JR will return to AAA.

May 7-10 vs. SEATTLE
The Mariners are 15-13, third place, 2 games back. Justin Gernoll is their manager, an MLB rookie. According to MLB, they have the #1 LF in Jose Basulto, and #2 CF in Mike Wapner. Sadly (for them), both are out for this series. That's probably why they have one of the worst offenses in the AL right now. Pitching is currently league best, giving up the fewest runs, despite missing 2 starters and 2 relievers with injuries. We'll get to see former Cy Young winner Mike Shilvock in game 2, and current ace Aaron Myers in game 1. Neither are overpowering, but still dominate.

#29: WIN 5-4...Little goes 7 strong innings, is now 5-0...Drayton gets the GW hit in the 7th
#30: LOSS 3-4...Wunderlich throws a strong game, but our pen blows it in the 9th...Dunklee's injury is worse, his return to full strength now listed as "unknown"
#31: WIN 8-3...A four-run first is all we need, but we add more for good measure...Clark goes 7 strong innings
#32: LOSS 1-3...DiFranco outdueled by George McVay...Groff hits his 8th HR

We're now 19-13, one game behind Oakland. Four of our five starting pitchers have ERA over 4, and yet we're 3rd in the AL in starters ERA. As I said above, Dunklee's injury time is now listed as "unknown." Yet he's still hitting the tar out of everything (HR are down though), so I'm reluctant to put him on the DL. I hope this doesn't come back to bite me.

May 11-14 @ LA ANGELS
LA is 7-3 in their last 10, bringing their record up to 15-17, five games back. Average offense, no home runs, and subpar pitching, especially their bullpen. Near-bottom defensive efficiency as well. Three-time MVP and likely future Hall of Fame catcher Jarod Grose is the leading hitter; Erik (not Elvis) Presley is pitching well (5-1, 2.74). Former career minor league OF Reggie Pruitt is the manager, in his first full season (he went 42-43 last year).

#33: LOSS 2-5...Brock struggles again; I need to do something about this staff soon...Miranda goes down for a week with an arm injury
#34: WIN 2-0...Little dominates again, over 7.2 innings...Collins hits a 2-run GW shot in the 10th to send everyone home
#35: WIN 10-6...I moved Groff back up to #2 and he hits a double and a homer...we get 19 hits...Wunderlich is fair, but good enough
#36: LOSS 1-2...Clark is unlucky again, pitching 6 strong innings but getting the loss...LA gets just 3 hits

We're 21-15, still one game back of Oakland; 6-4 in the last ten games. Our team stats are pretty good, with only stolen bases lagging behind (big deal). And yet...I'm dissatisfied with our rotation, as I think Bobby Little (1.42 ERA) is carrying the other four. As long as we keep hitting, I'll give them a little more time to figure things out. But by the end of the month...things could change. Run differential is now +33.

INJURY update: IF Ervin Miranda will be back in four days; SS Jim Mullen in a week; CL Jack Shewmake has less than two months now, but he'll need rehab so it'll be July before he returns. SP Brady Dunne still has a year to go.

Next up: May, Part 2
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Old 06-03-2017, 08:53 PM   #37
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May, part 2

We have 15 games over the final 17 days of May: three series of interleague play, then two versus Eastern division opponents. Three of the five series are at home.

May 15-17 vs. MONTREAL
Montreal comes in with the best record in baseball, 23-12, and 1.5 games up on the Pirates. (And despite having six players on the DL.) 3B Matt Anderson is having a great start to his season, leading the NL in HR, RBI, OPS, and WAR. LHP D.J. Breland leads the league in strikeouts, and is 5-1 with a 1.88 ERA. We'll see him in game 3. Overall, they're first in runs scored, and 2nd in fewest runs given up.

The Expos are in the 15th year of their revival and have recently been among the cream of the league. Coming off three seasons of 90+ wins, the only reason they haven't made more noise is that they're stuck behind the dynasty in Pittsburgh. (They've finished 2nd in the Central 7 of the last 8 years.) They're managed by Michael Ryan, in his fifth season since being cast off by the Pirates (after winning 108 games in 2032).

#37: WIN 10-7...14 hits, Drayton with 2 HR, 5 RBI...DiFranco meh, but gets the win...Miller 12th save...45K attendance
#38: LOSS 2-3...Brock throws 6 strong innings, but Glass blows it in the 8th
#39: WIN 3-1...Little wins again, now 6-0, 1.40 ERA...Dunklee hits his 5th

Good results, I'll take it. We're still 1.5 behind Oakland, and now Seattle has won four in a row and is a game behind us.

May 19-21 vs. CINCINNATI
Cincy comes in at 18-21, fourth place in the NL Central. It's been a rough start, given that they were predicted to win 88 games. Pitching has been letting them down, as they're in the bottom quarter in runs against. Manager Dan Remenowsky is in his 8th season with the club, but has managed only two winning seasons. 3B Mike Thatcher has been their best player this year, going .317/.401/.545 with 8 HR. The Reds are also third in the NL in runs scored and average.

#40: LOSS 0-5...Wunderlich gives up 3 HR, and we manage only 5 hits
#41: WIN 6-4...We go up 5-0 after four then hold on for the win...Clark hits 2 batters in 5 innings, including the above mentioned Thatcher...only 35K showed up
#42: WIN 5-1...McArthur 3-for-4 with a 2B, HR, and 4 RBI...DiFranco throws a complete game 5-hitter

I'll take 2-1 for every series from here on out. We're not hitting HR at anything near the rate we did last year, but our pitching and defense are at or near the top of the AL. Still a game behind the A's, Mariners still a game behind us. Tight.

May 22-24 @ CHICAGO CUBS
The Cubs are 24-17 (one less win than us), third place in the tough NL Central. Statistically, they're middle of the pack in most fields, but they do lead the league in stolen bases. Doug Mientkiewicz is their manager, in his third season. Nearly all his players love him. Jonathan Hardy is a dream owner (Understanding/Charitable/Hands-Off/Winning).

#43: LOSS 5-7...four runs in the 8th seal our fate, blown by Dever (4 ER in .2 IP)...Groff hits his 10th HR
#44: WIN 6-4...Groff parks two more, gets 3 of our 6 hits...Little now 7-0...Adrian Bolin makes his 2nd appearance of the season, gives up a run
#45: WIN 3-2...Groff 2 more hits, another HR...Wunderlich goes 7.2, gets the win...Wiggins suffers a 2-week dtd injury

Wiggins will probably go on the DL, since I have outfielders enough on the farm, and would rather he not injure himself worse.

In league news, Tampa Bay (16-23 at the time) fired their manager and GM. Their new manager is the second Italian in the league now, Giovanni Bottaro, who managed the Indians to 88 wins last year then got let go. Half of his players already dislike him. Mike Massey, 42 years old and with zero experience anywhere, is the new GM.

May 26-28 vs. TORONTO
The last time we saw the Jays they were sending us home in the ALCS, dammit. Currently they're 24-21, 3.5 in back of the Marlins. Although this is a team with a lot of depth, they're being carried by two players: 1B Preston Sorensen (.391/.480/.746, 15 HR) and SP Curtis Thames (2.98 ERA, 83 K, 63 IP). Did I mention they've got seven players, all regulars, on the DL right now? Stats-wise, they're a top-six team pretty much everywhere, except the bullpen, which is struggling with a rash of subpar performances. Manager is Mike Johns, a long-time (17 seasons) batting coach who is now in his sixth year as the top guy with the Jays. He won the Series in 2035, and is a two-time Manager of the Year winner. Toronto is also working on a six-year run of playoff appearances, and four straight division titles.

#46: LOSS 2-5...Clark gives just the one HR, but we can only muster 5 hits vs. Thames...former Islander Tony Castro gets three hits
#47: WIN 4-2...DiFranco scatters 11 hits, including 2 solo HR, but also fans 11...Miller gets his 17th save
#48: LOSS 2-6...ugh...Miller blows it with an ugly 10th inning...bench-clearing brawl tho, resulting in a 5-game suspension for RP Bolin (who?)

Outhit in every game, and can only scrape up 2 hits and 1 run against their sad bullpen. Fewer than 40K coming to the park as well. What else could people in Hawaii be doing in the summer? At least we didn't lose ground to the A's: still just a game back. And Adrian Bolin...he's making his mark when he plays, which is almost never: 3 games, roughed up twice (17.18 ERA), and now he throws three pitches and sparks a brawl. Way to get noticed.

May 29-31 @ MIAMI
Predicted to miss the playoffs with 85 wins, the Marlins have been a surprise thus far, with a 28-18 record, half a game up on the Red Sox. They had a fun ride last year too, challenging the Jays through most of the summer before fading, finishing 15 games back with 83 wins. They're riding a hot offense right now, rating first in runs, average, and HR, and 2nd in OBP. Pitching has been average, defense subpar. 1B Carlos Valencia and 3B Sergio Torres are tied for the league lead (with Jays P. Sorensen) in HR at 17, and Torres is blazing with a .341 average. Their only notable injury is SP Dean Jernigan, who rode a sub-2.00 ERA through April before going down for the season. They're also very young, with only two starters over the age of 26. Salvador Maes has been the manager since 2023.

#49: LOSS 7-8...exploded for 14 hits but stranded 10...Little gave up four HR, got his first loss (now 7-1)
#50: WIN 9-4...moved Hebert to lead off and he responded with 5 hits...Drayton hits 2 HR...Wunderlich gets win despite 4 ER and 6 BB in 5 IP
#51: WIN 6-2...Clark gives up 2 solo shots, but only 2 other hits in 7 IP...Drayton, Groff, Mullen homer

Some salvage here, picking up 40 hits in the series. And still...we're one game behind Oakland, one ahead of Seattle. Been that way for how many weeks now? On the injury front, Chris Wiggins will be back in a week, and Jack Shewmake can likely begin his rehab stint in a month. That means he should be back for late-season hijinks.

We went 17-12, and now sit at 30-21, one game in back of Oakland. (Forever.) Our batting is slightly above average in most categories, except for XBH (4th), walks (12th), and steals (12th). Pitching looks good, sitting third or fourth in most categories, except for the glaring stat of yielding the 8th most HR in the league. 3B Groff is having our best season at the plate, in the top five in OBP, SLG, OPS, WAR, wOBA, and ISO. 1B Dunklee is hitting .322, but has only 5 HR (after 42 last year). Hebert and Drayton hit well this month, raising their AVGs above .250 finally, but Hullinger slumped, and is in danger of being replace or platooned. SP Little had another good month, and SP Brock was a bit unlucky to go 0-1 over six starts, but sport the best WAR of the month (still just 0.8 though). Miller leads the AL with 18 saves.

Around the league....Boston went 21-8 and moved into 1st in the East. Pittsburgh won 18 and took over their division. Team chemistry fun: NY Mets, Miami, Cleveland, and Oakland are all at/near the top os their divisions, and yet are unhappy campers; Tampa Bay, Detroit, Houston, and Washington are losing but happy. Go figure.
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Old 06-07-2017, 11:51 PM   #38
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2037 Draft and System Review

We interrupt regular programming to bring you our annual draft review and minor league system report.

Signing the now-zombified Brady Dunne cost us our first round pick, so no superstars for us this year. With our league-best record last year, and seventeen (!) supplementary picks after Round 1, we won't pick until #76. Not an exceptionally deep draft again this year.

Round 2, 76th Overall
SS Mike Hunter, 22, East Carolina. High contact, line drive hitter. No power, so-so discipline, but won't strike out. Great fielder, a quality fit at second, third, or short. Also rates well in the outfield, but has no range there. Probably will start in A ball already.

Round 3, 114th Overall
RF Jesse Henkel, 19, high school. First of many high INT/WE players we took this year. Projects as a solid hitter all-around, upwards of 20-25 HR with good average. Intangibles could lead to better things for him, too. Average fielder, bad arm, which is a bummer.

Round 4, 150th Overall
RP Jason Barth, 20, St. John's. Smart kid. Good stuff, decent movement, control needs work. Fastball hits 96, quality curve as well. Wants to be a closer, but probably better suited for setup, or lefty specialist.

Round 5, 186th Overall
OF Dave White, 21, New Mexico. Another INT/WE guy who could prove better than he currently rates. Projects average to above average across the board, best at gap and HR power. Average glove, but rifle arm. LH batter, so could at least figure as a good bench bat.

Round 6, 222nd Overall
RP Jim Blair, 20, Georgia. Similar to Barth, above, with less stuff but better control. Good fastball and slider, hits 98 MPH already. Smart kid, good leader.

Round 7, 258th Overall
1B Andy Amiot, 20, Western Carolina. Thoroughly average, but has killer intangibles. High INT, WE, LE. Poor defense will keep him at first or as DH.

Round 8, 294th Overall
2B Scott Bachant, 18, high school. Projects as a good hitter, but with zero power. Bad eye, doesn't strike out. Defense doesn't stand out, but has decent range, no arm. Also rates as an above average reliever. High work ethic.

Round 9, 330th Overall
SP Chris Herman, 18, high school. Impossible signability, and wants over $2M. See you later, Chris.

Round 10, 366th Overall
OF Caleb Davis, 19, high school. Good fielder, average hitter with...wait for it...no power. Good but not great arm probably keeps him from RF. Decent pitching prospect as well. Went unsigned after being taken in the 20th round by Oakland last year, so he's moving up in the world.

Many, many rounds of "Who's this guy, again?"

Round 30, 1086th Overall
2B Dave Vincent, 23, East Aurora. Mr. Irrelevant, getting his 15 seconds of fame here. Went undrafted five times. We only took him because what do you expect in the 30th round? Good fielder, good runner. That's it.


Last Year's Top Five

1st, Ian McGowan, 20, OF. Hit just .192 in rookie ball, will probably start there again this year. Worryingly, his potential has dropped. Still projects well, but looking more like a solid bench player than what you'd hope for with the sixth overall pick. There's time, however.
2nd, Ian Albring, 24, RP. Dominated in short A last year, still pitching great in A ball this year. Doesn't have overwhelming stuff, so will need a little nudge to become a solid big league reliever. If his contact was a little (okay, a lot) better, he'd be a quality hitting prospect as well. Should get to AA later this season.
3rd, Ronnie Corgan, 20, RP. Still on track in his development. Pitched well in S A, still there this summer, but will get the call to A soon. Developing three pitches, but stamina not good enough for starter's role.
4th, John Canning, 20, SS. Only hit .227 in rookie ball, but is showing positive signs elsewhere. Strong baserunning, great fielding, and developing as a leader. Low DP ability might shift him to third, or maybe outfield, given his exceptional ratings there as well. I still like his versatility, and hope his hitting develops to at least an average level.
5th, Tyler Dion, 19, 1B. Right now is looking like a reach as a fifth rounder. Was taken as a project, and has lost ground in just one year. Hawaiian kid; was really hoping he'd pan out.

Best in the System

SP Rob Hart, started season in AA, now in AAA. His combined ERA in 11 starts is under 2. Has been great in four AAA starts. Except for his control (a familiar refrain), he's big league ready. Pitches and stuff (and control) have some room to grow, but he's just 20, and well beyond what you'd expect from a 9th rounder.
OF Mel Carillo, hitting .293 in AA, but down 20 points from a month ago. Still has a lot of room to grow, especially his contact, power, and K avoidance, but is putting up good numbers wherever he plays. Over 10% of his pro at bats have gone for doubles, for example. He's striking out a lot, but taking walks and getting on base. His fielding isn't great, but his stats look are good. Is still just 19 too. I will be extremely disappointed if he eventually tanks.
SP Mark Phillips, got off to a great start in AAA, but blew out his elbow and will be done until next April. Has killer stuff, already fully developed (20), and an elite curve with three other solid pitches. Stamina is okay (12), but movement is a problem (maxed out at 11). He's also a flyball pitcher, and Hawaii's park is an HR bandbox, so...if he comes back from his injury without losing anything, will probably be prime trade bait. As we signed him as a free agent after the Royals released him, he cost us nothing. So any return--should we go that route--would be a bonus.
IF Danny Holguin, was a 12th round pick in 2034 who's come on strong lately. At least, his ratings have jumped, even if his stats don't stand out in any way. A quality defensive player at all three 'skill' infield positions, he's got above average contact, won't strike out, and is speedy on the bases. Sounds like a perfect utility infielder to me. Won't get many extra base hits, but doesn't embarrass himself at the plate either.
SP Eric Jones, was taken in the 21st round in 2034, and has just shot up the charts. He jumped from A last year to AAA this year, and has been adequate to good so far. The one area he needs to work on is the usual bane of young pitchers: control. My scouts have him sitting at 7 (of 13) right now, which just won't get it done in the majors. As expected, his walks have gone up in AAA, to 5.4 per 9 IP. He's only 20, so I'm still hopeful he can get that under control (ha!) and get to the bigs. (Ed. note: for all the angst one feels about high draft picks that don't pan out--and there are plenty of those--I just love it when lower picks like Holguin and Jones look like future big leaguers, out of nowhere. Thank you OOTP!)

Minor League System Overview (records as of June 6th)
AAA - Kansas City T-Bones: 26-26, 3rd place, 5.5 back
AA - Lewiston Millers: 21-33, 6th place, 12.5 back
A - Eureka Aces: 29-24, 3rd place, 9.5 back
S A, both R teams: starting later in June


Odds and Ends
...All-Star voting update: 1B Dunklee, 3B Groff, CF Drayton are second in voting, and LF McArthur is third, at their respective positions. CL Shewmake is fourth, which is fun since he hasn't played a game yet this season.
...A ball 1B Marty Wood suffered an undisclosed injury back in April, and will miss the entire season. His ceiling is low, but he did hit well in Eureka last year (.293/.386/.431) off the bench. Rumors are swirling in the coastal California city about the true nature of Wood's health issues, but the team is not commenting except to say that the player is still a part of the team and is expected to return to the lineup in 2038.
...My source in accounting says they're crunching numbers with an expected budget of $116M next year, and $122M in 2039 (up from $104M this year). Hmm, we'll see. The Pagan is all about the profit, says my internal monologue (and his fleet of yachts and supermodels), so I won't start spending anything yet.
...SP Tom DiFranco says he wants to stay in Hawaii after this year. He's 31 and making $12M. Sources say he's looking for $126M over 8 years. Ha ha ha! Pull the other one, Tom!
...My new favorite no-hoper prospect is Poughkeepsie reliever Heui-Seong Watkins. He's 25 and coming off two bad seasons in rookie ball, but I can't bring myself to cut him. Yet.

Next up: June, Part One
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June, Part One

We have 28 games over the next 30 days; 17 on the road, 11 at home. Nine more games--three series--against NL teams, to finish up interleague play. We start the month with a nine-game, ten-day road trip. Fifteen games against division opponents. Schedule getting real now, summer heating up.

June 1-3 @ BALTIMORE
Fifth place, 24-26, 7 games back. Hitting a lot of home runs, but not hitting well overall. Pitching is pretty good, starters better than bullpen, although closer Rogelio Crespin is sporting an ERA below 1. Nestor Corredor is in his second year as manager, and was batting coach for two years before that.

#52: WIN 13-0...21 hits, McArthur 2 HR, Groff his 15th...DiFranco 5-hitter, 12 K, complete game...everyone got a hit, six guys got 3 each
#53: WIN 4-2...McArthur another HR...Brock 7 strong innings...solo HR in 7th and 8th make the difference
#54: WIN 2-1...Martinez 2-run HR is the game winner...Little (8-1) seven innings, five hits

Sweep! And five wins in a row. Oakland is still winning, but now we're tied for first. Hebert's BA has gone up 30 points the last two weeks, and replacement RF Ernesto Martinez (in for Wiggins) has gone up 40 points, plus 4 HR. One third of the way through the season, and we're on pace for 99 wins. I'll take it.

June 4-7 @ TEXAS
Our second go-round with the Rangers; we won 2 of 3 in May. Texas is 26-29, fourth place and 7.5 games back. They're 3-7 in their last ten, and have lost the last four. Pitching and defense are near the bottom in the AL, and batting has been subpar, aside from their 75 HR (5th). RF Sean Holliday and 1B Raul Molina have 15 HR each, and Holliday is also hitting .311.

#55: WIN 7-4...Dunklee and Mullen three hits apiece...Wunderlich 7 innings, is not horrible
#56: LOSS 3-4...Clark 6 IP, 2 more HR given up...Hebert 2 more hits, has been stout in his new leadoff role
#57: WIN 7-2...Groff 3 hits, 16th HR...DiFranco 8.1 IP, 2 runs
#58: WIN 12-5...12 runs on 13 hits, HR for Dunklee (6) and Collins (7)...3 more hits for Hebert

Not a sweep, but the next best thing, as we repeatedly batter Rangers pitching. We remain tied with Oakland, at 36-22, three games up on Seattle. So...I am now waiting for the other shoe to drop.

June 9-10 @ HOUSTON
Our second series against the Astros, and first of two this month. We took one of three from them in April. Since then, they've slipped to last in the division, sporting a 24-33 record, half a game behind the equally struggling Angels. Team stats are near the bottom in every category, including a league worst OBP. CF Joe Osmun is having a great year, sitting at third in average at .352, and SS Sean Boothe is hitting .320 and is third in stolen bases. Everyone else is struggling, and having six players on the DL is not helping. Let's see if we can keep them under water. Fun fact: one of their top prospects is Butch 'Pop' Santos. ("So...your real name is Butch?")

#59: LOSS 0-4...Little has one bad inning (a four-run 3rd), but our hitters have nine bad ones...Ugh.
#60: LOSS 2-3...What joy, swept by the worst team in the division. Move along, nothing good to see here.

We left our bats in Arlington, apparently. Sigh. Okay, get over it and move along. Big series up next.

June 11-14 vs. OAKLAND
We took four in a row from them in April. They've lost 3 in a row now, allowing us a slim half game lead. Vinny Vargas has 'slumped' to just .331, and leadoff hitter Kevin Beasley is hitting a comical .154, but recent callup OF Ben Hild has been crushing it, hitting .384 in 20 games. Hitting has been average, but they hit a lot of HR (bad for us), and thus are 3rd in runs. Bullpen has been subpar (good for us), so maybe we can take advantage. Let's hope our bats went straight from Arlington to Honolulu, and we can just forget about those last two games.

#61: LOSS 4-7...Surprise! Clark gives up three more HR. Our staff ace, everybody
#62: WIN 12-2...Our turn: we hit 5 HR, Groff with two (18 now)...DiFranco 8.2 IP, 9 K, 1 ER...Groff is Player of Day with 4-for-4, 5 RBI
#63: LOSS 3-8...Screw you and your 2 HR, Ben Hild...three more hits for Groff...Brock getting lit up more frequently (3 of last 5 starts now)
#64: WIN 7-1...Our ace (Little, 9-2) beat their ace (Ricky Hose, 7-3)...this could be our first home game where we didn't give up a HR

A 2-2 split is okay, considering. We outhit them every game, so the results could be directly attributed to our starting pitching. Eh, maybe I'm overthinking this. On a side note, they did lose their starting CF Tim Manske (he's very, very good) for the season. That's gotta be good for us, right? Oh, and the fans finally turned out for this series: over 48K every game. Season attendance is still below 40K, but our fan interest is up to 86. Let's see what that means next time the White Sox roll into town for a midweek series.

Heading into three series of interleague play, we're 38-26, half a game up on the A's. Seattle is 36-28, two games back. Fun fact: Oakland gets nine games against the three best teams in the NL (Chicago, Pittsburgh, Montreal), whereas we get six against the two worst (St Louis, New Orleans), and three against the Pirates. I've just cursed us, haven't I.

Next up: June, part two
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Rest of June...and a bit of July

June 15-17 @ ST LOUIS
The Cardinals are terrible (19-46) and have been terrible for years. They were good in the teens, and they had a good run in the late 20s, winning the division twice and last making the playoffs with a 90-win season in 2029. Since then it's been a high of 76 wins, and a low of 53 wins. This year, nothing is working: bottom tier pitching (but decent bullpen ERA), bottom tier hitting (but not striking out much), and bottom tier fielding (but...nothing). Only two batters are hitting over .250, and three of their starting pitchers have a combined record of 1-21. Claudio Madrid, who never showed any flash in twenty years in Cuba, is their third-year manager. The players are feuding, and fan interest has dropped to a 52.

#65: WIN 3-2...Player of the Week Adam Groff hits a 3-run HR...Wunderlich scatters 5 hits, but a 1:4 K:BB ratio...Hebert injured dtd for 3 weeks
#66: WIN 6-2...Drayton and Collins 3 hits each...Clark Ks 13 in seven innings...OF Martinez out for a week after getting hit on the shoulder
#67: LOSS 4-5...Crap, really wanted the sweep...DiFranco yields a 3-run HR in the second, and we strand runners in every inning

Stupid loss in that last game. Ah well. We're still one up on Oakland, two on Seattle. We also made a roster move, signing 39-year-old 1B Cisco Videira to a one-year deal. Nate Hullinger has been our DH all season, and has slumped to .203 with only 5 HR. So Videira will play there, and spell Dunklee at first as well. Cisco's got 2838 career hits; he'll have to go absolutely friggin nuts to reach 3000 with us. He does still have good contact, gap, and power, and won't strike out a ton. His fielding makes him a perfect DH. We send down RP Adrian Bolin (he of three appearances this season) and will go with 11 pitchers for the time being.

June 19-21 @ NEW ORLEANS
The Zephs are in their fourth year of existence, and have hit 63, 49, and 66 wins. They're currently 25-41, with terrible hitting but average pitching. None of their players stand out, but closer Sam Berisford has wicked stuff (but with no fastball). MLB has him as the 22nd in the league, the best rank on the team. Manager CJ Wu is in his second year, after decades in Korea and Mexico. He too doesn't stand out. The fans have not yet taken to this team, and attendance is below 20K per game (but better than the Cards).

#68: WIN 5-2...strong 8 innings from Brock, 5 hits and 7 K...four singles and 2 RBI for Collins
#69: WIN 8-0...15 hits, including Groff's 20th dinger...90-minute rain delay ends Little's night after 2.2 innings...bullpen 2 H, 1 BB in 6.1 IP
#70: WIN 4-0...Wunderlich goes the distance, gives up just 3 hits...gets 2 hits of his own too, and an RBI

I know, it's only New Orleans, but a sweep is a sweep. Oakland got pushed around by the Pirates and Expos and is now in third place, 3.5 games back (half game behind Seattle). We're now 43-27, half a game up on Boston, and one up on Pittsburgh, for best in baseball. Now we're off to play those Pirates and finish up interleague play for the year.

June 22-24 vs PITTSBURGH
Both of you regular readers know that the Pirates have been the cream of the league for five years now. They've been able to pair a murderer's row lineup with top rank pitching to dominate the NL and go to three World Series in four years. This year, the batting is still there: first in runs, BA, OBP, and second in HR. But with three starting pitchers on the DL, it's no surprise their starter's ERA ranks 15th, and they're 14th in runs against. The pen has been stout, as well as their defense. In my fevered brain this is a World Series preview...

Peng-Fei Tu is in his fifth season as manager, with two championships and three Manager of the Year awards under his belt. His players like him, and he's an excellent developer of talent. It's no wonder that they've consistently been able to quickly bring along their young stars, and now feature a lineup where the top players run in age from 27 to 21.

#71: LOSS 6-7...lost in the 14th...all six relievers went today, as Clark only made it 4 innings due to rain...Groff four more hits
#72: WIN 1-0...third shutout in four games!...Dunklee's solo shot makes the difference...three hits for Videira...8 IP for DiFranco, 10th win
#73: LOSS 3-5...we give up 4 more HR...definitely need a new ballpark...Groff tho, with another HR

Well, that was disappointing, but at least we played them tight every game. We're nearing the end of June, and I continue to be encouraged by our overall high quality pitching and hitting. If only we could keep the opponent's ball in the yard. Yes, I want us to hit 4 a game, but to not give up any. Not too idealistic, is it?

June 25-28 vs. HOUSTON
These guys again. We are 1-4 against the Astros, who come into this series in fifth place, 33-39, 10.5 games back. And a week ago they traded their best player this year (CF Joe Osmun, hitting .337) AND a prospect catcher for a one-pitch-having, 33-year-old starting pitcher. Smrt.

#74: WIN 8-6...a home run park + 12 MPH wind blowing out = 8 home runs combined...Little goes 5 poor innings and hurts his wrist...bullpen mops up, 4 IP, 2 H, 1 ER
#75: LOSS 2-3...we have 30 losses, and I bet we've outhit our opponents in, oh, 25 of those games
#76: WIN 4-3...Moreno pinch hit 2-run HR in bottom of ninth wins it...Clark gets 11 K in 7 IP
#77: WIN 4-2...DiFranco 7 strong innings, Miller gets his 26th save

Finally we beat these little b*stards. In injury news, Shewmake comes off the DL and begins his rehab stint in KC. 2B Hebert gets another, more serious, dtd injury, so I put him on the 11-day DL. Josh Robertson gets his second bite at the apple, will platoon with Ervin Miranda.

June 29-30, July 1-2 @ SEATTLE
Split our first four-game series back in May. The Mariners are 43-33, 3.5 games behind us. They're doing it all on the strength of their pitching, as they're last in BA and HR, and in the bottom quarter in everything else but stolen bases. Pitching, however, is top-five. Best hitter is LF Jose Basulto, a five-tool .300 hitter...but he's out for this series.

#78: WIN 4-3...Collins 2-run double puts us up...Brock 6.2 good innings
#79: WIN 11-4...Little a complete game, now 11-2...three HR, including Groff's 25th...every starter gets a hit
#80: WIN 4-3...Dunklee solo HR in ninth, RBI single in 10th...Wunderlich 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER
#81: LOSS 4-5...Clark gives up 5 ER in 6 IP, including 2 more HR...Drayton hurts his back ("substantial") and is dtd (ie, out) for 5 days

Aw, no sweep. Still outhitting opponents every game. Pitching looks good, but Clark is a continued concern. He's got the worst ERA on the entire staff, and his year-end projections show him with a WAR under one, and giving up 50 home runs. Fifty! He's at the end of his deal too, making 3.5M. For his next contract he wants boosts to 4.4, 8.1, 11.6, then 7 years at 15.1 each, but with an opt out after year three. I might just give it to him, and figure I can trade him (he's just 27 currently) if his production doesn't match his cost.

At the other end of the spectrum, whipping boy Wunderlich has been on a roll of late, dropping his ERA nearly a point in his last six starts. He's projected to have his best year as a pro, too. Contract is up after 2039 (making 6.5M per), which to me is high for my #5 starter. I dunno...I'm not going to complain about my pitching right now, seeing as things are going well (for now), but I've got some interesting decisions to make this fall.

Next up: A look back at June, the start of the International FA period, and a look around the league at the halfway mark.
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