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Old 04-24-2019, 07:05 PM   #221
Bub13
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July 1 vs CLEVELAND
Wrapping up a three-game homestand.

HAW pitcher: Khalil Palmer (8-2, 4.12)
CLE pitcher: Matt Grigg (4-3, 2.54)

#82: WIN 8-2 ... Masuda and Davila each hit one out tonight...16 hits for us, 3 each for Groff and Simmons...Palmer is sharp through 7, and fans 8

No complaints here.... We've now faced four lefties in a row, and our next opponents may also run out three straight southpaws.... #1 prospect Dante Padilla keeps hitting in AAA, now up to .409 with 9 HR, in 88 AB.... ELSEWHERE: International amateur free agents are out, and it's a largely underwhelming bunch. None of the just three listed pitchers look any good; in fact, the only guys with any decent pitching ceilings are listed at C and 2B, and even they don't look so hot.... Several hitters are worth a look, but only two rate as "sure things" right now--and they'll probably not quite make it, as usual.... Four of six divisional races are 2.5 games apart or closer.


July 3-5 vs KANSAS CITY
Shuffling along at 40-40, 8.5 games out of first. Only 12th in runs, but 7th in pitching, for a -17 run diff. CF Luis Mendez has only played 33 games this year, but he's hitting .320/12/38, so making up for lost time. 3B Juan Garcia is batting .298, but the usually reliable-for-25-HR guy only has 4 this year. Former Isle great Jeremy Dunklee, at 36, may finally be feeling the effects of time, batting only .272 with 7 HR. Pitching has held strong despite having three starters on the DL. But the bullpen having the 17th--second worst--ERA in the AL. And doesn't their defense always lead the AL in efficiency? They are again this year. Manager: Andy Raaff, 3rd season (after 14 years in Philly, Austin, and LAA). Owner: J.J. Glass, Jr, a tolerant sort who is really happy with a $27M projected profit. System review: 26th, with only pitcher Ryan Curtis (#28) in the top 100. Curtis is already in the rotation, and while he hasn't set the world on fire, he has promise.

HAW pitchers: Tim Pinksen (7-2, 4.59) / Eric Jones (10-1, 3.59) / Ryan Ratliff (7-1, 3.00)
KCR pitchers: Adam Oeltjenbruns (2-5, 4.32) / Ron Curtis (6-5, 5.08) / Alex Longoria (5-5, 3.94)

#83: LOSS 4-5 ... tough loss, on a pair of singles and a sacrifice in the 12th...Pinksen gives up 10 H in 5.1 IP...Sanborn with 3 H and 3 RBI, and a HR for Masuda
#84: WIN 3-2 ... 8 innings of 4-hit ball for Jones...Groff reaches 20 HR, and Simmons goes 2-for-2 with a run, a walk, and a steal
#85: LOSS 3-5 ... Ratliff fans 10 but still takes the loss...2 hits for Groff...we only strike out once, but add no walks

Well, that's not great, but no need for worry. We're still 11 up on Seattle, and at least got good pitching this series. When we hit, we generally win; and we just didn't hit much here.... We make our first international signing: Venezuelan OF Frank Ruvalcaba, for 750K. A mobile but noodle-armed OF, fine runner and bunter, and decent contact/gap/eye ceilings. Great intangibles, so maybe he'll turn out okay in the end.... ELSEWHERE: Boston is now 43-42, and 20-12 since June 1. And yet, everyone is still unhappy.... Texas finally hit the 30-win mark, the last team to do so.... Seattle pitcher Carlos Zenon's first inning against Cleveland went thus: HR-K-K-HR-HPB. That last one brought Sean Kropp out to the mound with fists a-flyin', and resulted in both Zenon and Kropp getting suspensions. We need video!


July 6-8 @ MINNESOTA
The final series before the All-Star break. The Twins have been spinning their wheels all year, and are just 38-45 and likely done already. Only 11th in runs, despite being 7th in AVG and 2nd in OBP. And dead last in HR. Pitching is okay, at 9th in runs, and they have a -24 run diff. Star LF Brendan Glenn is due off the DL any day, but is still hurting; and new addition Vinny Vargas was batting just .274 (about 60 points below his career rate) before going on the DL last month. He's out for 7 more weeks. 31-year-old rookie Josh Hibbs has been a nice addition, swinging for .290/15/49. Manager: Ruben Vasquez, in his 5th year. Owner: Adam Thompson, who understands, and is charitable, but is also worried that his team is losing games and money. System review: 17th, with 2 top 100. OF Josh Jacobson (#15) looks really, really good, and could be the next big AL power hitting monster.

HAW pitchers: Rob Hart (0-3, 9.00) / Taylor Barnett (7-5, 4.11) / Khalil Palmer (9-2, 3.93)
MIN pitchers: Lawrence Teklu (2-2, 2.42) / Scott Kopetsky (6-4, 3.89) / Tony Salgado (2-7, 5.00)

#86: WIN 3-1 ... Hart goes a glorious 8 IP, fanning 7 and yielding just 4 hits. Also, walks 6...still, we only win b/c of Sanborn's 9th inning 2-run HR and a Simmons RBI single
#87: LOSS 0-5 ... bad guy David Holbrook knocks in 4 runs by himself...we outhit the Twins 8-6...Stanley has a rough go: 0.2 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 3 ER/R
#88: WIN 10-0 ... what was a nice, quiet 2-0 game gets blown apart in the last two innings...Heath gets his first career GRAND SLAM...Palmer pulled with 2 outs in the 9th, lol

Nice start for Hart, finally, but he's still extremely wild, walking 27 in 44 IP. Last time he had at least 3 BB/9 was in 2041.... Adam Groff (3B) and Rich Stoneback (SS) are voted in as All-Star starters, and closer Dan Brown is chosen as well.... Speaking of Brown, he's only been closer again for a short while but is already tied for the AL lead at 23 saves. Yes, winning a lot of games helps with that, I know.... ELSEWHERE: Tampa's Chris Goldthwait is still leading all of the Triple Crown categories, and leads MLB with 6.0 WAR. Cincy's Jose Tavares is getting closer to his own Triple Crown lead as well.... Milwaukee's Jay Russo is now the only starter with a sub-2.00 ERA; he's at 1.75 and will be the AL All-Star game starter.... Former Islander catcher (and MVP winner) Alexis Mercedes was having a nice comeback season of .298/23/79, but will miss the rest of the year with a torn labrum. Still might qualify for Comeback Player. Tampa's hot lately, but just lost closer-turned-starter Nick Scott (23 SV, 2.36 ERA) for the year too.

......

The NL comes back from a 5-2 deficit to claim a late All-Star game victory, 8-5. Washington 1B Pat Gayer, just named NL Player of the Week, wins the game MVP honor, finishing 2-for-3 with a 3-run HR. Baltimore closer Curt Paddock--who's given up just 9 runs all season--takes the loss after giving up 6 runs in the final 2 innings. Adam Groff went 1-for-3 with a HR; Rich Stoneback went 0-for-2 and an error; Dan Brown gave up an unearned run in one inning of work (and also made an error).

......

July 13-15 vs NY YANKEES
Sitting at 44-44, which I'm guessing is the latest they've been at or near .500 this late in a season since their last winning year, 2039. They spent like the Yankees of old this off-season, and have six regulars who weren't with the team last year. It shows, too. Sixth in runs, while 4th in AVG, and 2nd in OBP and HR. LF Oscar Sandoval came over from the Cubs and while he's batting just .249, his 29 HR are one away from matching his career best. Holdover RF Tony Flores has 23 HR and new DH Tony Zapata is going at .302/17/40. They did just lose 2B Jon Diaz (.252/19/52) for the season, however. Pitching is 9th best, but the bullpen is a dumpster fire, with the second-worse ERA in the AL. Former Isle Jim Kieffer is clearly in the "on" portion of his on-again-off-again career path. System review: 16th, and featuring a couple of recent top-5 picks who look like near clones: low contact, high power and eye, good fielders with one serious flaw. Top pitching prospect is 25-year-old Chris Williams (in AAA), who has a long injury history already and is on the DL for the year again. I'm partial to RF Monte Reyna, who won't walk much or hit for power, but looks like a solid .300 (at worst) hitter with speed and a big arm.

HAW pitchers: Eric Jones (11-1, 3.50) / Ryan Ratliff (7-2, 3.11) / Rob Hart (1-3, 7.57)
NYY pitchers: Jim Kieffer (5-5, 3.76) / Phil Avery (4-5, 4.53) / Yo****oki Oh (2-5, 5.37)

#89: WIN 7-3 ... down 3-2 in the 8th, JHart's GRAND SLAM turns the tide...Davila goes 3-for-3 with a HR...Jones lasts 8, fans 6, yields just 5 hits
#90: WIN 7-1 ... 12-K, 6-H, complete game for Ratliff...two hits apiece for Stoneback, Sanborn, and Simmons, and 3 RBI for Simmons
#91: WIN 5-3 ... RHart is solid again: 8.1 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 2 R, 9 K, 2 BB...Sanborn solid too, 3-for-4, HR, 3 RBI...closer Dan Brown hurt tho

Kinda surprised by this, as the Yanks have been playing much better of late. Not complaining.... Second good start for Rob Hart, so maybe he's rounding into shape after a really rough ride all Spring Training and season.... Closer Dan Brown's diagnosis is pending. If he's out for some time, I'm not sure who will move into the closer spot. Ramirez? He's been fluorishing in a pressure-free zone. Nate Moore? Good numbers, but hasn't done well in his limited time at closer. Pat Stanley? He's been bad all season, so just no. Anyway, we'll see if I need to worry about it or not.... ELSEWHERE: KC is on a 9-1 run, moving them to 48-41 and just 6.5 games out of first in the Central. Portland has flattened a bit, but are still at 53-37 and 4.5 games up on the Padres.... And at the "good teams that are not doing it this year" end of the spectrum, there's Oakland dragging along at 43-50 (and a 4 game losing streak), and the Dodgers floudering a bit at 45-46, 8.5 games out. Biggest payroll (LAD), but not much bang for those mega-millions yet.


July 16-18 vs TAMPA BAY
Only 4-6 this month, but still at 53-40 and a game out of first. (Plus they just reached franchise win #3900. Congrats.) Second in runs scored, and 9th in runs against, for a +38 run differential. Stats across the board are generally good, except for a 16th-ranked rotation ERA. Only Tony Zuniga has an ERA better than league average. Just one batter, DH Frank Acevedo (at .226), isn't hitting for average, but he at least has 17 HR. And 1B Chris Goldthwait is working on an MVP-type season; at .355/32/78 he's in the running for a Triple Crown. Also, for some reason, RF Vance Wise (.301/21/59) is now listed as a setup reliever, despite not having thrown a pitch in over three seasons. System review: ranked 14th, with an astounding six players in the top 100. Best is #18 pitcher Greg Drake, who's 23 and still in short A, and looks like a low-movement but talented guy who will give up 40+ HR a season one day. #2 guy Orlando Navarro is already the starting 3B for the Rays, and while he won't hit for much power, when fully developed he'll get on base at a .400+ clip, easily. Finally, 1B Edgar Aranceta is only 17 but has sky-high potential. Keep an eye out for him one day.

HAW pitchers: Taylor Barnett (7-6, 4.05) / Khalil Palmer (10-2, 3.63) / Eric Jones (12-1, 3.43)
TBR pitchers: Jimmy Dalaba (8-7, 4.72) / Tony Zuniga (5-1, 2.89) / Gabe Ray (2-7, 5.74)

#92: LOSS 3-7 ... Brown's loss is already felt, as Ramirez blows up for 3 runs in the 9th...Groff gets two of our six hits, including his 30th double
#93: LOSS 2-7 ... a 5-run 4th dooms us tonight...Klump comes off the DL and gets 2 hits, but again we manage just 6...Stanley is good over 4 IP, fanning 7
#94: WIN 10-2 ... 2-run HR (and a 5-RBI night) for Sanborn, and Flygare hits his 1st HR this season, off the bench...complete game 5-hitter for Jones, with 5 K and zero BB

No hitting for two games, then we make up for it in the last one.... Brown's diagnosis is a relief: sore hamstring, dtd for five days. Phew.... With Klump back off the DL, I send down OF Glenn Heath, despite him hitting .270 with 5 HR off the bench. I have three 1B/DH types on the roster right now, so something will have to give this off-season, assuming I don't send one of them away before the deadline (hint: not likely). Sanborn would've gone back down instead of Heath but he's hitting .319/15/48 in 232 AB.... 3B Dante Padilla is still getting it done in AAA, batting .373 with 11 HR (142 AB).... ELSEWHERE: Tampa Bay is now in 1st in the AL East, half a game over the Orioles.... New Orleans is just 48-47, but are on a 12 game winning streak. The Mets, on the other hand, have lost 9 of 10, and have fallen away from the NL East race for the moment.... Yankees OF and broken-body-possessor Daizo Yonamine is injured again, with an uncertain return date. He's been on the roster for four seasons now, playing in just 62, 108, 55, and currently 47 games.... Milwaukee's Jay Russo is still rocking a 1.64 ERA, and has 167 K in 126 IP.

......

TL;DR Version: A bit of a see-saw ride this stretch, at 8-5. Still, we're comfortably ahead--12.5 games over Seattle--in the division. Once Brown's injury is done, we'll have zero players on the DL, if you can believe that. Did I just curse myself? Probably. And right now we've got the best team defense in the AL. Can't remember the last time we had that. Some individual stats of note: Groff is second in AL batting (.350), third in OPS (1.047), and second in batter WAR (5.4). He's also first in hits, runs, doubles, and XBH. Eric Jones leads with 13 wins and 5 complete games, and Dan Brown--injury and all--is tied for first with 23 saves.
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Old 04-28-2019, 05:41 PM   #222
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July 20-22 @ BALTIMORE
Sliding in July, with a 4-10 record, which has dropped them a half game behind Tampa in the East. Eighth in runs, and 7th in pitching, for a +16 run diff. Sixth in home runs, but three regulars have already topped 20, including reigning MVP Cesar Alvarenga (.341/28/52) and 25-year-old rookie Justin Singleton (.268/22/70). 2B Jason Powell is hitting .341 but has just been relegated to the bench in favor of .237-hitting J.R. Evans. Oh, okay. Closer Curt Paddock blew up at the all-star game, but otherwise he's been just fine, with 19 saves and a 2.23 ERA. We dropped 2 of 3 against these guys to open the season. System review: ranked 22nd, with three in the top 100. RP Cameron Harris is the top dog, at #33: he looks to be a decent-enough MR one day. Ten of their next 11 prospects are listed as SP, but none look like great shakes to me right now.

HAW pitchers: Ryan Ratliff (8-2, 2.90) / Rob Hart (2-3, 6.88) / Taylor Barnett (7-7, 4.14)
BAL pitchers: Jonathan Bell (8-6, 3.79) / Pablo Aguero (1-3, 7.77) / Ken Newman (2-5, 6.02)

#95: WIN 8-6 ... a 4-run 9th wins this one, sparked by Klein's 2-run triple and Flygare's 2-run single...Ratliff struggles, is lifted after 5, but the pen tosses 4 IP of no-hit relief
#96: WIN 8-7 ... another late comeback, this time 5 runs in the 9th...Hart is pretty terrible today, walking 6 in just 4.1 IP, giving up 6 runs too
#97: LOSS 2-6 ... no late heroics here, despite outhitting the O's 10-9...Barnett is lifted in the 4th, yielding 3 HR and all the runs (and hits) in that span

We only won those two games b/c of timely and powerful hitting. Pitching in this series was pretty forgettable. We did, however, put two Baltimore pitchers on the DL.... Ramon Davila hurt his shoulder in the last TB game, and is dtd for a few days. Flygare starts in his stead for two games, going 2-for-7 with a walk and a pair of doubles.... Second game was rained out, so we played a double-header; pretty entertaining, for the fans at least. Not for my ulcers.... ELSEWHERE: Baltimore trades the above-mentioned Singleton to New Orleans (along with a mediocre prospect) for OF Terry Bishop. Bishop moves right into the starting lineup and goes 2-for-7 with a double. Singleton? He's sitting on the bench, behind a guy (vet Jonathan Emilien) with a .198/6/15 line. Really.... And Milwaukee's Jay Russo, owner of a dandy 1.60 ERA and current top AL Cy Young candidate? Done for the season (and beyond) with a torn UCL. Harsh.... Fifteen straight wins now for New Orleans, so maybe they're okay sitting Singleton, despite his hot hitting.


July 23-25 @ SEATTLE
Currently 51-48, a half game up on Houston for 2nd place in the division. Hitting is okay, 8th in runs, while 4th in AVG, but just 12th in OBP. Most steals in the AL, tho. Pitching has really hurt them, at 14th in runs against, for a -7 run diff. Worst team defense too. Individually, the lineup looks good: three guys over .300, with two more close; seven guys in double figures in HR; even #9 batter 3B Luis Cantu is batting .293 with 19 HR. Ace Miguel Moreno has been sharp, but most of the rotation has been subpar. Two-way guy Steve Mellon has been moved out of the rotation in middle relief, and is also batting .288 as DH. System review: 31st overall, with only SP Jesus Aguilar (#58) in the top 100. Aguilar, frankly, is overrated, as he looks like a straight-throwing flyball pitcher--not a lovely combo. Probably their best prospects are in the outfield: #3 Aaron Lenhard and #4 Josh Hagaman look like starters in a year or so.

HAW pitchers: Khalil Palmer (10-3, 3.86) / Eric Jones (13-1, 3.33) / Ryan Ratliff (8-2, 3.31)
SEA pitchers: Brett McGee (4-9, 6.16) / Miguel Moreno (8-3, 2.61) / Jimmy Porreca (4-9, 5.79)

#98: LOSS 4-6 ... Groff whacks a 2-run HR to keep us in it early, but Palmer is loose all night and is done after 5...we outhit them 12-9, but give up three critical HR
#99: WIN 11-1 ... 2 HR and 5 RBI for Masuda, and McCollum gets 4 hits and 3 RBI...7 solid IP for Jones, and Stanley finishes with a quiet 2 IP
#100: WIN 9-8 ... this one's 9-6 after 4, and we hold on late...2 HR and 5 RBI for Groff, while Klein, Stoneback, and Simmons each add 3 H...nobody pitches well tonight

Pitching is still leaky (rotation ERA now 10th), but we are cranking out the hits and runs with regularity.... Groff's second HR in that last game was his 1700th career hit.... In the rotation, Palmer and Barnett have been very shaky lately, and Pinksen has been better in long relief. A couple of guys in AAA have been pretty good too, but I'm not sure if they're ready for a callup. Not saying I'll make a change in the rotation imminently, but it bears watching.... ELSEWHERE: A 17-2 run in July for New Orleans has them at 53-48, now 4 games out of first.... The Dodgers and Yankees made a trade, with LA sending disgruntled 1B Matt Anderson (reigning AL batting champ, who had just 63 AB this year) to the Bombers for 1B Corey Jarell and oft-injured OF Daizo Yonamine. LA also sends OF Jim Hudson, a useful utility guy and spot starter. Anderson is signed through next year, and despite being 38, still looks like a premier hitter. He's gone 4-for-8 with a HR in his first two games in NY. He's closing in on 2500 hits, and looks like a sure-thing Hall of Famer.


July 26-29 vs TEXAS
Dead last in MLB with 37 wins, one of three teams (LAA and ARI) under 40 wins. Last in runs, and next-to-last in pitching, with a -138 run differential. Bright spots? SP Mike Messinger has pitched well, and 1B Manuel Cervantes has hit .267/23/63. Cervantes, however, is not a long-term solution. Only three batters on the roster are 26 or under, and all will be free agents this fall. Messinger and rookie Greg Buchanan look like building blocks for a rotation, and two young relievers look pretty good too. But it's hard to see a plan for the future here. The budget is 30th in baseball, player payroll 33rd. Season tickets and attendance are down, but the fans still seem loyal, and the market is big. Can they build something, and soon? Eh, there's not much from within, to be honest, so we'll see...

HAW pitchers: Rob Hart (2-3, 7.31) / Taylor Barnett (7-8, 4.46) / Khalil Palmer (10-3, 3.99) / Eric Jones (14-1, 3.24)
TEX pitchers: Greg Buchanan (2-5, 5.10) / Lorenzo Rangel (5-10, 5.80) / Luis Otero (4-9, 5.75) / Mike Messinger (9-8, 3.50)

#101: WIN 9-6 ... 4-for-4 with 2 HR for Davila...HR also for Masuda and Stoneback...RHart struggles again, 5 R and 3 BB in 5 IP
#102: WIN 3-2 ... Texas ties it up in the 8th, then Groff wins it with an RBI double in the bottom half...7 hits for each team, and we survive putting on 6 runners in the last two innings
#103: WIN 7-2 ... Stoneback's 6th inning GRAND SLAM is the key today...he adds 2 more RBI, while Simmons goes 3-for-3 and scores twice...Palmer walks 5, but is otherwise okay
#104: WIN 1-0 ... a Klein triple followed by a Stoneback's single is all we need...each pitcher yields just 4 hits, and Jones' win gives him 15 on the season

Finally a good series for the rotation, outside of Hart's troubles.... Brown now has 29 saves, tops in the AL.... We're the first to 70 wins, and now sport a 16 game lead over Seattle.... With two days left until the trade deadline, frankly I'm not looking to make any deals. We've received a number of offers, most including top prospect Dante Padilla, all of which I've turned down. No, we don't need a 30something RP or a mediocre catcher for promising prospects.... ELSEWHERE: New Orleans is now 20-2 in July, and with the Cubs winners of 5 straight, there is now a four team race for the NL Central crown, including Cincy and Pittsburgh.... Despite losing ace SP Jay Russo for the season, the Brewers are hanging tough, still in first in the AL Central, 3.5 up on KC.... Tampa's Chris Goldthwait (.351/38/97) is still in line for the AL Triple Crown.


July 30-31 vs HOUSTON
First two of a four-game set. They've dropped off after a solid April, to 53-53 currently. Which is, frankly, a step up from where they usually are by late July. Despite sitting 4th in AVG, they're only 11th in runs. Likewise, the rotation ERA is 6th but they're 15th in runs against, with a -31 run diff. Six players are on the DL, including future star Alejandro Gonzales (season). Young SP Chris Harris has been solid, and will make a solid 1-2 punch once Gonzales is back. Second-year RF Hughie Noonan is another building block, batting .301/21/62. With baseball's smallest budget and next-to-last payroll, they're not exactly paying for success right now. However, season tix and attendance are way up, and profit is being generated. Will that bring the fans back? Wins would help most; they're coming too, albeit slowly.

HAW pitchers: Ryan Ratliff (9-2, 3.67) / Rob Hart (3-3, 7.44)
HOU pitchers: Chris Driscoll (5-7, 5.24) / Chris Harris (9-4, 3.20)

#105: WIN 8-3 ... Rich wakes up with 3 hits and 3 RBI, and Klein adds a 3-run HR...but victory comes at a cost: Stoneback tears ankle ligaments and is out for six weeks
#106: LOSS 2-7 ... RHart takes the loss, but throws better: 7.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 7 K...but he walks 6 again...we get more hits (11-10), but allow 7 walks; just too many runners

Stoneback's injury is no good, but hopefully having built up a 17-game lead over Seattle, we'll be okay. Manny Rangel moves back into the lineup at 2B, with Simmons sliding over to short. OF Glenn Heath comes back up from AAA.... Rays 1B Goldthwait leads in most offensive categories, but Groff is first in hits (143) and tied for first in XBH (61).... I'm on the verge of moving Rob Hart back to the bullpen and giving Pinksen another shot. He's giving up 1 run in 14.1 relief innings. Hmm, maybe I'll keep him there.... ELSEWHERE: New Orleans ends the month with a 22-3 record, while the Cubs finish 18-7. They're tied, at just a game behind the Reds in the Central.... NYY's Tony Flores bashes 3 HR on the last day of the month, to reach 31 on the season, making his 7th straight year of 30+ dingers. He just passed Yogi Berra to move into 5th all-time in franchise home runs.

......

TL;DR Version: 9-3 to finish the month, and 17-8 overall. Odd news: Eric Jones is named AL Pitcher of the Month, going 5-0 in 5 starts, with a 1.55 ERA. He just keeps rolling along somehow. Stoneback's injury will hurt, but we'll manage. He's been good again (.302/17/58), despite not coming near the 42 HR and .559 SLG from last year. We'll miss his defense too, but Simmons is a Gold Glove-level fielder. Rangel isn't quite as good at second, but he's no slouch.
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Old 04-30-2019, 06:49 PM   #223
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There were over a dozen trades in the week leading up to the trade deadline, but no big ones, other than those pointed out last post. Relief pitchers are, again, overvalued here, as several teams send decent-enough MR for (frankly better) prospect or prospects. Good for them, I suppose. We made no trades, as I'm going to go with what brung us this far. Let's hope it's the right decision.

The August schedule is...weird. We'll play 28 games; guess how many at home? 25. First we'll finish up with two games against Houston, then travel to Boston for three, then spend the rest of the month at home. Nice, huh? (September will get us back: we'll finish the season on a 14-game road trip.)

......

August 1-2 vs HOUSTON
Final two games of a four-game set against the Astros. Momentum, guys!

HAW pitchers: Taylor Barnett (7-8, 4.29) / Khalil Palmer (11-3, 3.92)
HOU pitchers: Dustin Springer (5-12, 4.22) / Mike Huddleston (5-6, 5.66)

#107: LOSS 3-4 ... Springer outpitches Barnett, as we manage just 5 hits...Moore puts five runners on in the 8th and takes the loss...2 hits for Rich, but still no HR for him
#108: WIN 9-5 ... HR for Rich! I wish it was always that easy...Palmer lasts just 4.1 IP, gives up 10 H and 5 R...Stanley goes the rest of the way, yields just 1 hit

Rich finally pops his first homer, leaving just Simmons as the only guy without one. He also didn't hit one out last year.... Masuda hit two out this series, and has brought his average up about 20 points since coming off the DL. Klump, however, is slumping and has dropped about 20 points.... ELSEWHERE: The Cubs have now won 9 in a row, and are a game up on the Reds. And New Orleans, and Pittsburgh. Quite a race here.... At the dull end of the stick, Texas has still not won 40 games yet (39-69).... After 13 years in the AL, Dodgers pitcher Eddy Llamas is enjoying his first season in the NL: 13-4, 2.45 ERA, 6.0 WAR. The 35-year-old is signed through 2049, and really needs all of those years to be good ones if he's going to have a chance at any Hall votes (55 career WAR, 170 wins, 2934 K, as of today).


August 3-5 @ BOSTON
At 54-54, tied for third with New York, 9 games behind Tampa. A sluggish (12-13) July didn't help their playoff chances. They don't hit for much--14th in AVG, 12th in HR--but have the 4th most runs in the AL. Pitching has not been good, at 15th in runs against. Their odd lineup means the 4 through 7 hitters are batting a combined .227, and too many guys are hitting a good 20 to 30 points below their career averages. Somehow they just swindled closer Tim Wormald away from the hot Cubs: he had a 1.34 ERA with Chicago, but has a 4.76 with the Sox so far. System review: 20th ranked, with four in the top 100. All are pitchers, with two--Jonathan Esquivel and John Sutton--already with the big club. Their best batter is probably 2B Ger Van Mourik, who should hit well and with power, but is definitely not the type to run any bases or field a ball.

HAW pitchers: Eric Jones (15-1, 3.06) / Ryan Ratliff (9-2, 3.72) / Rob "Fingers Crossed" Hart (3-4, 7.04)
BOS pitchers: Jonathan Esquivel (3-2, 3.34) / Fernando Alameda (8-4, 4.17) / Wally McDermott (4-6, 6.43)

#109: LOSS 0-5 ... first loss in some time for Jones, who lasts just 5.2 innings...we manage only 5 hits, all singles
#110: LOSS 5-6 ... we get a few more hits this time, including two HR, but it's not enough...Ramirez takes the loss with a shabby 7th inning, putting 5 runners on
#111: WIN 7-5 ... RHart is blah again (6 IP, 11 H, 5 R, 4 BB) but we pound out 12 hits, led by Masuda's 2-run GW HR...Rangel goes 2-for-3 with 2 RBI

The rotation is looking a bit out of sorts again, and even Jones can't save us. Hart is still not getting it done, sadly.... Our outfielders have made six errors this year, all by center fielders.... Rangel moves into the #2 slot in the lineup for now, as JHart is in a bit of a slump and not hitting for any power of late.... ELSEWHERE: The injury hammer fell hard this week: Milwaukee closer Edgar Tinajero is done for the season; so is Dodgers SP Eddy Llamas (see above, poor sod) strained his hamstring so hard that he's done for three months; and Detroit SS Dan Munoz will also be shut down for the year. With Llamas out, following Brewers ace Jay Russo, that's both league's leading Cy Young candidates done for the year.... NYY has won three straight, closing to 6.5 games out of first. And newly acquired Matt Anderson is .306/4/11 in 10 games.


August 7-9 vs MIAMI
Was it really four years ago that this team made the World Series and looked like it had a bright future? Yeah, it was. Sadly, they've been in sharp decline since, and are currently last in the East with a 47-64 mark. Hitting is 13th or thereabouts, right across the board. Pitching is wild: dead last rotation ERA, first place bullpen ERA, for the 8th ranked staff overall. Run diff is -41. RF Nick Meehan (.304/23/86) and LF Ricky Beard (.266/22/69) are the only offensive stars of note. Pitching should get better now that #1 starter Matt Rubin is off the DL. They also just traded 1/2 of a long-term (as in 7 years long) 2B platoon, George Bradshaw, to Minny. (Bradshaw is a .300 hitter with zero power and an inability to hit lefties, so of course MIN just threw $70M at him.) This is a team that needs a serious overhaul and rejuvanation. System review: 15th, with three top 100ers. Top guy Chris Milano has big-time stuff, but movement and control will keep him from being a star. SS Mario Rivera looks like a nice hitter, but will be better off at second. And their other high-rated pitchers--Jose Jimenez, Adam Parker, and Tim Bruns, all suffer from a lack of movement to their pitches that has me questioning the vision of their scouting department.

HAW pitchers: Taylor Barnett (7-8, 4.20) / Khalil Palmer (11-3, 4.12) / Eric Jones (15-2, 3.17)
MIA pitchers: Levi Brady (7-8, 5.87) / Tim Bruns (1-2, 5.13) / Matt Rubin (4-4, 3.44)

#112: LOSS 4-5 ... uuuunnnngh...JHart smacks a HR and Rangel gets 3 hits, but Barnett is left in too long and fades hard and fast in the 7th
#113: LOSS 4-8 ... a nice, quiet 4-1 win is lost to the winds after we give up 7 late runs...Palmer struggles again, and Pinksen explodes on the mound...I really traded for these guys?
#114: WIN 5-4 ... after another late-inning pitching collapse, ingominy is spared thanks to a 2-run 9th, with Masuda and JHart driving in runs...Jones is solid, Moore earns a BS for his paltry efforts

Very nearly swept by a last-place team coming off their own sweep at the hands of the Rangers. The RANGERS. Sheesh.... Okay, relax. We're still way up on the Mariners, and will very likely win the division. But I can see I'm going to have to do some maneuvering with the pitching staff to see who's got what going for them down the stretch. To that end, I send down the now-struggling Nate Moore to reclaim his mojo, and bring up Ben Willard. Willard did not do much for us earlier this season, but he's been great in AAA (with a nifty 38-to-4 K-BB ratio), so go to it, big guy.... I also move Rick Ramirez back into a setup role. He's been much better since I kicked him out of the closer role, and frankly needs to prove that he's worth the $4M or so he wants as a raise for next year.... ELSEWHERE: So the Dodgers have won 7 out of 10, heating up for a late run. Sure, they're still 9 games back, but I can see them winning 70% of their games from here on out and sneaking into the post-season. Jerks.... Speaking of the Rangers, they're no longer in last place, as the Angels are playing worse of all right now.... Washington's Pat Gayer is the first in the NL to reach 30 HR. The career .240 hitter is having a career season, batting .310/30/70.


August 10-12 vs TORONTO
It's now the Jays' turn to live in the AL East basement. Dead last in batting, and 16th in runs scored. Pitching is 12th, with the 16th-ranked rotation ERA. So, not a lot of good things happening here. Only 3B Paul Foster--who I wanted to sign last winter--(.293/23/48) is hitting well, and he's 34 and not a long-term solution. (No starters are under 27, fyi.) Oh, and the legendary Jordan Cruz is back to batting 9th, and is ripping it up with a .165 average and 158 K in 363 AB. Good thing he's signed for two more seasons. System review: 19th, with 3 in the top 100. SS Sam Moore (#21) is in AA and is already WAY better than the above-mentioned Cruz. After him, and the capable-looking OF Trevor Evans, there's not much...

HAW pitchers: Ryan Ratliff (9-2, 3.83) / Rob Hart (4-4, 7.08) / Taylor Barnett (7-9, 4.32)
TOR pitchers: Daniel Becker (9-7, 4.21) / Luke Weaver (10-6, 3.70) / Phil Eckert (6-10, 5.97)

#115: WIN 6-3 ... Sanborn's 2-run HR keys the offense, and Simmons doubles home the GW run...Ratliff fans 11 through 7.1 innings, although Ramirez nearly chokes on his first game back in a setup role
#116: LOSS 3-7 ... Masuda hits his 20th HR, but RHart is again completely ineffective, pulled in the 5th after allowing 11 hits and 6 runs. Sigh
#117: LOSS 6-10 ... six late runs kills any good vibes...Barnett is no good tonight, and we walk a combined 9 batters

We can afford to lose games, standings-wise, but any confidence in my pitching staff is fast floating away.... So I make a couple more changes: Barnett and RP Ben Willard go down, and Rob Hart moves to the pen. Coming up from Santa Barbara are Shamar Jackson and Ben Germann. Both were also up earlier this season, and neither impressed. But both are decent-looking prospects, and deserve longer looks sooner than later.... ELSEWHERE: NL Central race is still tight, with Chicago 2 up on Cincy, over Pittsburgh by 2.5, New Orleans by 3, and St Louis by 7.... Hawaii still has the best record in MLB, at 75-42, but Milwaukee is catching up, at 72-46. No other teams have reached 70 wins.... Cincy catcher Antonio Chamorro has 23 HR, but also owns an amazing slash of .189/.232/.408, and has struck out 155 times in 360 AB, with only 18 walks. Add to that a reputation for dogging it, and you wonder how he stays employed.


August 13-15 vs DETROIT
They don't hit quite like they have in recent years (15th AVG), but are 5th in runs, mostly due to ranking 4th in HR. Four batters have passed 20 HR, led by 2B Sean West with 33. Pitching is still strong: 2nd in runs, with the 3rd best rotation ERA. Ace Raul Bravo has an ERA a run and a half better than last year, and more wins already too. At 9 games behind division-leading Milwaukee, they look more like a wildcard possibility than a division winner; but anything can still happen. System review: 33rd. Top prospect 1B Andy Howard is already in the bigs, and has 11 HR in 244 AB. He is a big-time power bat, perfect for this team. OF Jesus Villegas looks like another typical Tigers-type power bat; but there's little quality pitching in the pipeline, outside of SP Ian Cochran, a #3/#4 starter at best.

HAW pitchers: Khalil Palmer (11-4, 4.19) / Eric Jones (15-2, 3.09) / Ryan Ratliff (10-2, 3.75)
DET pitchers: Raul Bravo (9-5, 3.61) / T.J. Bohanan (3-2, 4.50) / Mike Cote (8-9, 4.34)

#118: WIN 6-1 ... complete game 5-hitter for Palmer...Rangel gets 3 hits, 2 RBI, with 2 doubles, and Groff triples home another 2 runs
#119: WIN 8-5 ... 2 H and 4 RBI--including a bases-clearing double--for Simmons...3 H and 3 RBI for Sanborn...Jones is off tonight, but picks up the win
#120: WIN 4-3 ... Klein and Sanborn homer, and Groff and Simmons get multiple hits...Ratliff goes 8 IP, yields just 5 hits...Brown gets the save but gets hurt

Well, that's a surprise sweep. Good hitting, good pitching. Next series, let's see what the new mound callups can do.... Brown's diagnosis is pending, so fingers crossed that he won't be out long.... Ratliff leads the team with 128 K, a big comedown from recent years with Hart and Messinger racking up 250+ whiffs.... ELSEWHERE: Tampa's Chris Goldthwait reaches 7 WAR, the first player to do so. The pitchers leading in WAR in both leagues are both out for the season--Jay Russo and Eddy Llamas--and yet may not give up those leads until September. Cy Young voting should be interesting this fall.... Portland's cooling off, allowing San Diego (1 GB) and LA (5 GB) back into the division race.

......

TL;DR Version: That last sweep salvages a 7-7 run through the first half of August. Still, we're 78-42 and own the best record in baseball. But of course I fret. What else am I supposed to do? Gloat? (Well, sometimes...) Anyway, while our hitting is still league best, our pitching is showing some cracks. Rotation ERA is now 9th (4.48) while the bullpen has dropped a bit, to 6th (4.09). We're about to run out two recent call-ups in our next two games, guys who struggled mightily back in April, but have been pitching well in AAA. I want to get a look at them a bit before spring training (never too early to think about next year), since both will have a serious shot at cracking the rotation for 2047. Only one player is on the DL at the moment: SS Rich Stoneback, due to return in 3-4 weeks.
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Old 05-02-2019, 07:08 PM   #224
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August 17-19 vs CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Do fans there chant "Sox Sux?" Because they probably should, especially in view of a franchise that hasn't seen the post-season since 2030, and has only three winning seasons since. Every year they sign a couple of guys, their prospects look, um, promising, and then they fizzle out. This year is no different: 55-64, last in the Central. Next-to-last batting, even coupled with some decent pitching (6th in runs against), has still produced a losing team and a -69 run diff. No batters are really doing much, although Jim Timmer and Dan Starr have 23 and 22 HR, respectively. (Remember that Starr also makes $37M a year to bat .268.) Leadoff guy Steve Richards is batting .198, and #2 man Andres Diaz really moves him along with a brisk .202 average. The rotation has been decent, but the best guys this year are old, and the young guys have big holes in their games. The best player is probably 24-year-old closer Luis Andino (29 SV, 2.08 ERA), but can you build a franchise around a closer? System review: they rank #1, with 7 players in the top 100. P Burton Dick will be an ace one day, but he's coming along pretty slowly; he's pitching well in A ball, and should probably be getting more of a challenge in AA. Danel Hampton and Duncan Stark look like two more decent SP. They've got some hitters too: RF Andy Barenberg, SS Chris Rock (already in MLB, and comparable to our JJ Simmons), and 3B Alan Wilson are solid pieces to build on. And some names: Dan "I'm A Star!" Starr, Lawrence "Lawrence" Lawrence, and Jim "Chim Chim Cheroo" Timmer.

HAW pitchers: Shamar Jackson (0-1, 7.98) / Ben Germann (1-1, 7.88) / Khalil Palmer (12-4, 4.00)
CHW pitchers: Chris Wead (6-10, 4.04) / David Wick (3-2, 3.50) / Bryan Crider (6-12, 5.16)

#121: WIN 6-3 ... Jackson shows some knuckly flash with 8 solid innings (despite 4 BB and 10 H)...Groff and Rich get 3 hits each, with Groff knocking a 2-run HR as well
#122: WIN 6-5 ... up 4-0 after one, we blow that but score in the 9th and 10th for the win...both runs on solo HR, by Klump and Sanborn...Germann is not so hot: 5 IP, 9 H, 5 R
#123: LOSS 3-6 ... 2 more HR (8 for the series), but we're outhit and can't convert the guys we do get on base...two injuries this game too

Lots to take away from this series.... New pitchers: Jackson looked okay, Germann did not. They'll both get one more go, at least.... Lots of HR and XBH, which is always good. Groff looks to be heating up, and the Sanborn/Klump battle for 1B is also heating up.... Injuries, tho: Davila gets nicked, but just a 2-day dtd thing; Simmons has a 1-week dtd injury, so I might put him on backup duty for the next couple of series; Pinksen tweaks his shoulder, and while it's just dtd, it's for two weeks, so he'll go on the DL. I'll bring back up Taylor Barnett, and slide him into the pen until I decide how the Jackson/Germann experiment has played out.... Rob Hart three 3 innings of scoreless relief, so good for him. Still walked 3 batters, so his control seems to be effectively gone at this point.... ELSEWHERE: Tampa's Chris Goldthwait once had comfortable leads in the three Triple Crown batting categories. While he still leads LA's Tony Mendoza in RBI by 110-92, he's only 3 HR ahead of Baltimore's Cesar Alvarenga, and has dropped to third in batting, behind Adam Groff (HAW) and Jason Powell (BAL). Woe is he.... LA and TEX remain the only AL teams without 50 wins, while Arizona is the only NL team with that lovely distinction.... Brooklyn OF Mike Blough -- who's gone from "feared slugging 7-8 WAR Pirate" to "useful 4 WAR elder statesman" -- is the first NLer to reach 100 RBI.


August 20-22 @ MILWAUKEE
First in the Central at 76-48, 2nd best overall record in MLB. Despite ranking 17th in AVG and OBP, they're 3rd in runs, and 1st in HR. Every starter has hit at least 12 HR, four have topped 20. Second-year LF Kaz Kawakami is batting just .226, but has 32 HR; likewise, RF Chris O'Brien, at .234 and 29; and 1B (and former Isle) Justin Wright, .249 and 28. Pitching and defense rank first, with the best rotation and 3rd-ranked bullpen. They've taken some blows, however, with ace Jay Russo (8-2, 1.60) and closer Edgar Tinajero (22 SV, 3.62) out for the season. This is the avatar team for our era: lots of strikeouts (pitching and batting) and lots of home runs. System review: 6th, with two in the top 100. CF Oscar Espinosa (#5 overall) looks like a star-in-the-making, and SP Justin English will be solid once he develops a quality third pitch. But I'm holding out for the development of P Nick "Biff" Quick, who has crazy eyes and a wicked forkball. And he's 'Angry' for some unknown reason.

HAW pitchers: Eric Jones (16-2, 3.16) / Ryan Ratliff (11-2, 3.73) / Shamar Jackson (1-1, 6.35)
MIL pitchers: Jim Gilbert (13-7, 4.15) / Nathaniel Cole (1-5, 5.72) / Oscar Maldonado (7-0, 4.42)

#124: WIN 3-2 ... Jones is quietly baffling again (8 IP, 6 H, 2 K), and the teams combine for 3 solo HR...two hits for Klein, who may be coming around after falling below .300
#125: WIN 12-9 ... pitching takes a holiday, with 29 combined hits, including 9 XBH...Ratliff gets hurt and leaves after 2, and the bullpen looks amateurish after him (6 IP, 9 R)
#126: WIN 9-3 ... Jackson goes the distance (!) and everyone gets a hit tonight...solo HR for Davila (plus 4 RBI) and Klump, and 3 hits for Klein

Well, that's a surprise. Sure, lots of HR (like, 12 combined, I think), but timely hitting and some solid pitching did us proud.... Shamar Jackson earned a third start, but Ben Germann is likely headed back down, even if he throws well in his next start. I want to get at least one of relievers Nick Kramer, Nate Moore, or Ben Willard back to a functioning big leaguer before the playoffs. Not too much to ask, no?... Adam Groff was named Player of the Week for a 13-for-23 stretch, with 2 HR and 4 RBI.... ELSEWHERE: San Diego and LA continue inching closer to Portland, now just 2.5 and 5.5 games back. I still think the spendthrift Dodgers have an edge coming down the stretch.... In the NL Central, five teams are within 4 games of each other, making for some very exciting viewing. I know I'm hooked.... Two-time Cy Young (and MVP) winner Rafael Maldonado is having a bit of a comedown year for a disappointing Richmond club: just 3.4 WAR (he's AVERAGED more than 8.0 for the last six years), and an ERA over 3 for only the second time in the last nine seasons. Still, he owns a gaudy K-BB ratio of 10.0-to-1.3, and has fanned 198 in 177 IP. He'll be a free agent this fall, too. Hmmm....


August 24-26 vs SEATTLE
Their 65-63 mark might be viewed a little more charitably if we hadn't taken off a couple months ago and built our current 19-game lead. Tenth in runs for, and 11th in runs against, for a below-average -11 run diff. Hitting has disappointed, given the winter addition of stars Mike Wapner (.292/23/66) and Juan Rodriquez (.313/22/83), and returning-to-health CF Aaron Harrison (.270/23/62). 1B Adam Guidry has had a nice breakout season, at .272/21/69, and 3B Luis Cantu (.270/21/47) was an unheralded free agent signing who has contributed nicely. So yes, they hit a lot of HR, but don't score like the Brewers, for some reason. Pitching has been fair, and now ace Miguel Moreno (11-5, 2.73) is on the DL. Youngster Carlos Zenon (24) has established himself, but they'd be better off having two-way (P/DH) player Steve Mellon focus on pitching, where he looks much better. Former Isle RP Jin-Song Yee (20 SV, 2.02) was surprisingly effective as closer early on, but then got pushed aside for Daryl Kennedy, who's been even better (20 GP, 10 SV, 0.86 ERA). System review: just 31st, with only one ranked player. That's #58 Jesus Aguilar, who's a no-movement flyball pitcher. No thanks. I'd put my money on OF Aaron Lenhard, who's starting to hit some in his rookie MLB season.

HAW pitchers: Ben Germann (1-1, 7.90) / Khalil Palmer (12-5, 4.10) / Eric Jones (17-2, 3.12)
SEA pitchers: Carlos Zenon (11-7, 3.56) / Steve Mellon (3-3, 4.08) / Brett McGee (5-14, 6.27)

#127: LOSS 0-5 ... Germann looks better: 7 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 11 K...it's not his fault we scratch out just 6 singles and no one gets past second base (hey now)
#128: LOSS 7-12 ... oof...hits are about equal, but we give up 4 HR and no one pitches well at all...Groff tweaks something, is dtd for 5 days
#129: LOSS 6-12 ... wow...three hits for Canning, and a shutout inning of relief for Stanley, that's all the good news from today

Sure: sweep an excellent Milwaukee team, get swept by a so-so Seattle team. Baseball is a stupid game.... Terrible, terrible pitching, outside of Germann's fair start.... Simmons will be 100% for the next series, but Groff might sit a bit, and Ratliff may miss his start, or get pushed back a day. Pinksen has 5 days left on the DL, Stoneback 2 weeks.... Joseph Hart is batting just .190 this month, and .255 on the season. Gonna work in Glenn Heath (.281, 4 HR in 89 AB) for a bit to see what he can do.... Seattle cuts our lead to 16 games, the horror.... ELSEWHERE: Toronto may be last in the East (55 wins) but they've tossed four shutouts in their last five games.... Don't look now, but CIN's Jose Tavares is batting .370 this month to creep back into the NL batting race, and lurks just 2 HR and 2 RBI behind in those races.... San Diego is 1.5 in back of the slumping Pioneers now.... Philly is holding to a 4.5 game lead over Atlanta, and once again features the NL's best offense.


August 27-29 vs OAKLAND
They've righted the ship after a bad start to the season, going 11 games over .500 since June 1, to a record of 66-64 and an outside shot at a wild card slot. Batting hasn't come around too much, only 10th in runs and AVG, but they are 4th in OBP. 3B Ryan Walton is having a big year, with 38 HR and 88 RBI. Pitching is 2nd in runs, with a solid rotation and bullpen. Jim Schwartz, at 25, is breaking out (12-4, 2.84), and there are a lot of big-stuff relievers in the pen, led by closer Justin Crowley and setup man (and 2-time Wilhelm trophy winner) Bill Brunson. Bucks and stuff: attendance is down slightly (to 32.5K from 32.9), but ticket sales are up; still they'll struggle to turn a profit, and have a dozen roster players currently without contracts for 2047 (and five more heading to arbitration). I'm not sure if they'll be able to shell out money for anyone over the winter, which seems odd since their highest contract is Mike Wiater's $14M per.

HAW pitchers: Shamar Jackson (2-1, 5.12) / Ryan Ratliff (11-2, 3.65) / Taylor Barnett (7-10, 4.61)
OAK pitchers: Jaysen Moss (2-2, 6.52) / Francisco Pantaleon (10-13, 4.03) / Jim Schwartz (12-4, 2.84)

#130: LOSS 2-7 ... scored on early, and scored on late...Jackson struggles, and Brown does too in the 9th...can't buy a win atm
#131: WIN 6-2 ... Ratliff, tweaked back and all, goes 8.1 solid innings, and Hart (!!!) closes it out...4 doubles and a HR out of 13 hits...no injuries tonight!
#132: LOSS 3-5 ... closer Brown blows up for 3 runs in the 9th to lose this one...3 hits for Groff, staying red hot...nice start for Barnett, too bad about the ending tho

Ungh, another sloppy series. Pitching is looking more patchwork than ever right now, tbh, and Dan Brown going through a rough patch is. not. helping.... #1 prospect Dante Padilla gets a brief pre-September callup, should get into a game or two against lefties before heading back out.... Groff continues to lead AL batters with a .352 average. Lots of baseball left, but I would love to see him win his 5th batting title.... ELSEWHERE: Atlanta's Jose Gutierrez tosses a no-hitter against the Robins, fanning 10 and walking zero. The only runner was on an error, so you know that guy feels bad. This is the first no-hitter of the season (there were five last season).... New Orleans is hot again, and has passed the Cubs (1 back) for 1st in the Central. Cincy is 2 games back, Pittsburgh 4.5, and St Louis 5.... Toronto SS Jordan Cruz is on pace to win his 11th strikeout title. He's the Nolan Ryan of batters.


August 30-31 vs LA ANGELS
At some point you run out of things to say about bad teams. What's left to talk about here? That a 12-13 mark in August is their best monthly record this year? That former ROY Tony Mendoza has thrived without former infield mate Juan Rodriquez, to the tune of .303/38/101? That thanks to slashing their payroll from $106M to $69M, they'll probably make over $25M? That fan loyalty is still 'GREAT' even after 11 seasons of "rebuilding"? The only other thing of interest here is their #2 hitter: OF Travis McArthur, aka Our First Ever Draft Pick. He's hit for a bit of power (12 HR), and plays a decent, if slow-moving, right field, but is hitting just .254 and striking out nearly a quarter of his at bats. I still get booed for not re-signing him last winter.

HAW pitchers: Khalil Palmer (12-6, 4.31) / Eric Jones (17-3, 3.24)
LAA pitchers: Noah Sims (8-10, 4.82) / Joe Payne (12-9, 3.94)

#133: LOSS 2-8 ... hoo boy, good times continue...Padilla goes 2-for-3 in his MLB debut, and Klein raps 3 doubles...RHart and Stanley are terrible, after Palmer leaves with injury in the 1st
#134: WIN 7-6 ... we're outhit 15-7, but win it in 11 thanks to Heath's walk-off solo HR...Rangel goes 2-for-3 with 4 RBI...Jones still stuck on 17 wins

Pitching pitching pitching. As in, who's going to give us good pitching this last month and the post-season? Jones is okay, but will probably limp his way through September without reaching 20 wins, dangit.... Pinksen has a mild setback, and will be out for five additional days now. Palmer's injury is short, he'll miss just four days.... We'll play two more games in this series to start September.... ELSEWHERE: Milwaukee has dropped 5 straight, and KC has closed the gap to just 4 games, with Detroit another game behind them.... Portland has stabilized a bit, and still holds a 2.5 game lead over San Diego.... SF's Dillon Ritter just had a 23-game hit streak ended. We traded Ritter to the Giants a couple years ago, and he's developed into a nice hitter, despite having little power and an unwillingness to take a walk. He's batted over .300 each of his two seasons with the Giants, and led the NL with 52 doubles last year (is on pace to hit 44 this year).

......

TL;DR Version: Another meh stretch, 7-7 here, and 14-14 for the month. The hits keep coming, as we're still 1st in most offensive categories (except just 11th in HR). Manny Rangel has filled in capably since Stoneback's injury, hitting .321 with 13 doubles this month, and providing solid defense at second. Joseph Hart has been the only hitter to struggle, managing just .182 in August. We're still 5th in runs against, with the rotation ERA coming in at 8th, and bullpen at 9th. Hopefully, we'll be able to scrape together four competent to semi-competent starters for the playoffs. Btw, our Magic Number is now 13.
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Old 05-05-2019, 11:50 AM   #225
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Rosters are expanding like Thanksgiving waistbands. For once we call up a bevy of players: OF Kenny Welch (.431 in 16 AB earlier this summer), OF Cameron Daley (debut), RP Nate Moore (5.04 ERA in 25 IP), RP Ben Willard (8.59 in 14.2 IP), and P/OF Phil Lasky (debut). Plus we called up 3B Dante Padilla last week.

Twenty-eight games this month, to finish the regular season. Twenty road games, eight at home, kind of the reverse of last month.

September 1-2 vs LA ANGELS
Final two games of a four-game set, in which we Try To Set Things Right And Start Playing Like A First-Place Team Again.

HAW pitchers: Shamar Jackson (2-2, 5.40) / Ryan Ratliff (12-2, 3.57)
LAA pitchers: Jon Carlsen (10-8, 3.83) / Arturo Sosa (6-10, 5.82)

#135: WIN 5-3 ... Jackson goes 8 innings, gives up 10 H, but gets the win...3 hits and 2 RBI for Simmons, 2 and 2 for Groff
#136: LOSS 3-5 ... we score 3 in the first, then go quiet...Ratliff and Willard pitch well, but an error costs us 2 unearned runs and the loss

Still .500 since August 1. Okay.... Stoneback comes off the DL in 4 days, Pinksen in 3.... Dan Brown still leads the AL with 35 saves; Groff tops the batting register at .354.... ELSEWHERE: The NL Central race is still tight: New Orleans --, Cincinnati .5, Chicago 1.5, Pittsburgh 3.5, St Louis 7.5.... Tampa has won 8 of 10, opening an 8.5 game lead over Baltimore, while Milwaukee finally won a game, and is holding on by 4 over KC and Detroit.... KC's Jeremy Dunklee--an all-time Islander as well--just reached 2000 career hits. He's not hitting like he used to, with just 15 HR and a .278 AVG, but leads baseball with 112 walks.... Seattle pitcher Brett McGee has given up 45 HR, and with a bad September can take a run at Pedro Cabrera's record of 56, set in 2042 with Toronto (Cabrera is amazing, having seasons of allowing 56, 55, and 53 homers).


September 33-5 vs MINNESOTA
Oddly, 11th in runs despite being 4th in AVG and 2nd in OBP. That, and a wonky bullpen probably accounts for their disappointing 65-69 record. Fun fact: Josh Hibbs, who leads all MIN batters in AVG, HR, and RBI, was traded to Pittsburgh over a month ago. At least plum free agent signee Vinny Vargas is off the DL; but he's having his worst year as a pro, batting just .288 (about 50 points below his career average). I also still can barely believe that just over a decade ago, they had a three year stretch where they lost 25, 63, and 58 million bucks. Wow.

HAW pitchers: Taylor Barnett (7-10, 4.49) / Phil Lasky (debut) / Eric Jones (17-3, 3.34)
MIN pitchers: Tony Salgado (5-12, 4.60) / Scott Kopetsky (7-9, 4.40) / Hugo Blerra (14-9, 3.39)

#137: LOSS 1-12 ... move along, show's over, nothing to see here
#138: WIN 4-3 ... two late runs salvage this one...Padilla smacks his first MLB home run, congrats!...Lasky has a rough debut, but Stanley (huh?) tosses 3 shutout innings to keep us in it
#139: WIN 7-0 ... 5-K shutout for Jones, 4 hitter...Klump and Heath knock in runs in the 1st and we don't look back

Well, that's better. Magic Number is down to 9.... Groff is now 4 RBI away from 1000 for his career.... Klein has 566 AB, second in the AL. He's also 2nd in hits, with 175.... ELSEWHERE: Oakland is making a late playoff push, having won 5 straight, and 8 of 10. With 73 wins, they're still outside the wild card picture, but only by a few games.... Detroit and KC are now just 1 and 2 games behind Milwaukee, who are finally feeling the pinch of all those injuries.... In other divisions, Tampa is 9.5 up on Baltimore and NY; Philly by 6 over Atlanta; Chicago and Cincy are tied, with New Orleans a half game back; and Portland is 3.5 ahead of San Diego.


September 7-9 @ KANSAS CITY
At 76-61, they're 2 games behind the slumping Brewers, and just one behind the second-place Tigers. Fourth in runs, and 4th in runs against, for a +59 run differential. Like us, they hit well and get on base, but don't hit a lot of home runs. Cleanup hitter Luis Mendez is still productive at 35, hitting .301/28/91. 3B Juan Garcia is having his usual strong season, batting .310. System review: 26th, with only SP Ron Curtis (#28) in the top 100. Curtis is already in the bigs, having a decent rookie season. He looks like a decent middle-of-the-rotation guy. Former Isle prospect Jayden Grant has had an okay year in the pen, and would be a promising starting pitcher if he could ever develop a third pitch.

HAW pitchers: Shamar Jackson (3-2, 5.05) / Ryan Ratliff (12-3, 3.54) / Taylor Barnett (7-11, 4.63)
KCR pitchers: Marcus Richardson (10-7, 3.88) / Alex Longoria (10-6, 3.91) / Ron Curtis (10-7, 4.86)

#140: WIN 6-4 ... Groff's 3-run HR in the 1st that we don't relinquish...Daley gets his first MLB hit and RBI as a pinch hitter...Jackson walks 6, but is just good enough for the win
#141: WIN 13-0 ... complete game 5-hitter for Ratliff...Stoneback goes 3-for-5 with a HR and 5 RBI, while Groff gets 2 hits and 6 RBI, with a triple and his 30th HR
#142: WIN 7-3 ... 3 hits, 2 HR, and 3 RBI for Groff, getting fat on KC pitching...7 IP for Barnett, 5 K and 4 BB, and the win

Nice series for us, and for Groff in particular. He reaches 1000 career RBI, and also 30 HR for the 7th time.... RPs Moore and Willard, both recent callups, haven't gotten it done since their recall. And Rob Hart isn't either, so...they have a few weeks to get on track, and give us more than 2 or 3 decent relievers going into the post-season.... ELSEWHERE: Adam Groff now leads MLB with 7.6 WAR, and the AL batting race by 26 points.... Cincy's Jose Tavares is the first in the NL to reach 40 HR, and is 2nd with 115 RBI.... No surprise, but Texas and the Angels are the first teams officially eliminated from the post-season.... Atlanta's Jose Gutierrez has the only no-hitter of the season, and may pick up a Cy Young trophy soon, as he's 2nd in ERA, 1st in strikeouts and pitcher WAR.


September 11-13 @ CLEVELAND
Winners of 92 games this year, they'll come closer to losing 92 this year (66-76). Twelfth in both runs for and against, with a -53 run differential. It's hard to see where things have gone wrong, tbh. They lost Coby Sandu's 45 HR, but he didn't bring much else to the game, and was replaced by David Von Eschen, who's gone from 14 HR last year to 40 so far this year. Batting averages looked depressed across the board, and pitching looks about like last year (although rookie closer Tim Stoner has been a good addition). Attendance has dropped 30% this year, payroll and budget are near-bottom, and the prospect pool is subpar. Don't know what the near future holds for this team, but it doesn't look promising.

HAW pitchers: Phil Lasky (0-0, 5.40) / Eric Jones (18-3, 3.19) / Shamar Jackson (4-2, 4.89)
CLE pitchers: Michael Bartlow (8-12, 5.67) / Bryan Altier (7-10, 5.19) / Zach Gioeli (13-12, 4.51)

#143: WIN 10-7 ... we go up 8-3 early and hang on for dear life late...Groff passes 100 RBI on the season...Lasky really struggles again
#144: LOSS 4-7 ... only six hits for us tonight, 2 from Simmons (with 3 RBI), and 2 for Klein...Jones only gives up two runs (through 5), but walks 5
#145: LOSS 0-9 ... we're held to 3 hits by the sudden appearance of the 2044 Cy Young version of Gioeli, rather than the 2046 model

Ick, some pretty rancid pitching, to be frank.... Lasky goes back down after the series, and I bring up Angel Cordova, whom we somehow dug up as a minor league FA, and looks like a potential guy for the 4 or 5 slot.... Groff reaches 100 RBI for the seventh time in his career, and is now 3 hits away from reaching 200 for the third time. Klein has 184 hits, and is on pace to reach 200 for the first time.... ELSEWHERE: Baltimore has lost 9 of 10 to effectively drop out of the playoff race (now 71-73). Likewise, St Louis has slumped out of contention in the otherwise tight NL Central.... SF and Toronto join Texas and LAA in being officially eliminated. None of those teams have yet won 60 games.... Detroit 3B Sean West has surged to the AL lead with 46 HR, his third season over 40. He was the 2042 NL MVP and has put himself into that conversation this year.


September 14-16 vs HOUSTON
Early season promise gave way to late season mediocrity and a current 71-75 record. Still, an improvement over recent decades. Having their 1B, 2B, RF, and three regular pitchers on the DL hasn't helped a bit. Hitting has suffered, to 15th in runs; pitching is 12th. Dan Phoenix (.301/7/40) and Hughie Noonan (.297/25/77) have been the best hitters, but both are injured. #2 SP Alejandro Gonzalez (8-5, 3.00) is also out. They did just get SP Tony Arballo back from a long-term injury: he's been good in his two starts, but he's too little, too late. SP Chris Harris is the other half of the rotation's 1-2 punch (with Gonzales), and he's been solid. There are some blocks to build on here; let's see how they handle it.

HAW pitchers: Ryan Ratliff (13-3, 3.34) / Taylor Barnett (8-11, 4.55) / Angel Cordova (debut)
HOU pitchers: Chris Harris (11-6, 2.90) / Tony Araballo (1-1, 2.40) / Dustin Springer (9-14, 3.65)

#146: LOSS 7-9 ... we can't make a 5-0 lead stick...more bad pitching, from Ratliff to the bullpen, again...3 hits for Klein, 2 H and 3 RBI for Masuda
#147: LOSS 4-7 ... 3 more hits for Masuda, but everyone else takes the night off...RHart just looks completely cooked, which is really sad
#148: WIN 6-2 ... Stoneback homers and goes 4-for-4, and Groff hits his 40th double, knocking in 2 runs...Cordova looks okay: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 5 K, 4 BB

Well, we salvaged one game from an otherwise poor series. Pitching is the main culprit, but we're also not hitting home runs at the same pace--which, granted, was not a big strength for us--and not getting easy runs.... In short, our pitching is kind of a mess right now, and our hitting is off-and-on.... Stoneback, at least, seems to be heating up, getting his average up to .300.... Oh, and we *finally* clinched the division. Whee! ELSEWHERE: Atlanta has won 8 straight and is now just one game behind Philly in the NL East. Both look like shoo-ins for playoff spots right now.... Sean West has been joined at the top of the HR pile (with 46) by Baltimore's Cesar Alvarenga and Tampa's Chris Goldthwait. Goldy hasn't hit with the same perfection as he did before the all-star break, but at .330/46/126 he's still the top candidate for AL MVP, to me at least.... The Yankees are less than 5 games out of a wild card spot for the first time in over a decade, thanks in no small part to the late-season acquisition of DH Matt Anderson, who in 41 games has hit .316/12/35. Getting 42 HR each from Tony Flores and Oscar Sandoval hasn't hurt, either.

......

TL;DR Version: We started September 7-6, which is actually a slight improvement over August. There are still good things to point out: best record in baseball, AL best offense, some nice individual performances. But I have to point out the other stuff too, in particular a fragile pitching staff, especially the rotation. Jones is at 18 wins right now, and running out of chances to reach 20. He may have three more starts this season, so my fingers are crossed. Funny thing: we keep getting trade offers for aging, over-the-hill pitchers, even in September. For top prospects. Sure.
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Old 05-06-2019, 12:20 AM   #226
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Just read through the entire thread, great work. How do you go through your draft process? I'd love to do a thread like this but I never stay motivated enough to keep writing.
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Old 05-06-2019, 10:10 AM   #227
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nymetsfan5 View Post
Just read through the entire thread, great work. How do you go through your draft process? I'd love to do a thread like this but I never stay motivated enough to keep writing.
Thanks! Do you mean the MLB Draft, or writing out drafts of copy?

As for motivation -- oddly, writing this helps keep me focused and wanting to see what happens next. Plus, I get to unload sarcastic punnery here rather than on my long-suffering wife.
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Old 05-06-2019, 06:20 PM   #228
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Haha sorry, didn't realize how confusing that statement was. I meant the MLB draft.

Thats a good outlook on writing, I will give it another shot after my current GM finishes.
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Old 05-07-2019, 09:51 AM   #229
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nymetsfan5 View Post
Haha sorry, didn't realize how confusing that statement was. I meant the MLB draft.

Thats a good outlook on writing, I will give it another shot after my current GM finishes.
Ah, okay, got it.

I don't really have anything special I do for drafts, nor do I target specific positions while drafting, at least early on. Since this team has been drafting at the bottom of the 1st for so long, I don't spend a lot of time looking at the top of the charts, except to look for something that might jump out for dynasty-writing purposes. So I usually wait until it's my pick and then take a deeper look at who's available. I always take BPA early on, with any 1st round and Supplemental picks. Pretty much the same for the next few rounds. Typically, once you get past the 5th round or so, decent-looking prospects are really thin on the ground, so I'll start going for intangibles over anything else. (High INT, WE, maybe LE.)

Otherwise....
...I stay away from high-end prospects with bad attitudes or bad INT/WE. Some of them do actually become stars for other teams, but I'm not interested in having one cranky star bringing everyone down. YMMV.
...I look for guys who are good across the board, rather than having one standout rating and a hope that something else will develop. Especially pitchers.
...I'll let my scout choose picks after the 20th round. Although quite often, I've traded away those low picks, as throw-ins, b/c by then in the draft I'm ready for it to be over.
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Old 05-08-2019, 07:40 PM   #230
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September 17-19 @ LA ANGELS
These guys again. Whatever. At 61-88, LA is way down in the standings and looking at a top 5 pick next June...again. Hitting has been subpar, pitching near-bottom. To focus on the good for a moment: Tony Mendoza has gone .300/43/114, and Jason Eastep .291/37/100. Build on that, and a couple of promising pitchers, and get back to the once-dominant position you held in the 20s and most of the 30s. Or not. Doesn't matter. Moneyball, etc: Hard to remember that these guys used to spend nearly as much as the Dodgers, since they now have the 25th ranked budget and a payroll just north of $88M (30th).

HAW pitchers: Eric Jones (18-3, 3.19) / Shamar Jackson (4-3, 5.81) / Ryan Ratliff (13-3, 3.51)
LAA pitchers: Bret Roemke (2-8, 2.99) / Jon Carlsen (10-9, 4.19) / Arturo Sosa (8-11, 5.81)

#149: WIN 6-4 ... a 4-run 4th, led by Masuda's 2-run single and Stoneback's RBI walk, is the difference...Jones gets win #19...3 hits for Rich, 2 for Simmons
#150: WIN 14-5 ... a 5-3-4-3 line for Groff with a HR and 2B...3-run HR for Masuda, and 5 combined hits from Simmons and Rich
#151: LOSS 1-3 ... Ratliff is strong through 5, then leaves with an injury...Stanley gives up 2 runs to draw the loss...Simmons tweaks his back too

Simmons is dtd for a week, so Rangel will get some shifts at second so we can keep JJ healthy for the post-season.... Gonna try to get Palmer a couple of looks back in the rotation, since we'll need to find four decent starters if we want to actually win anything in October.... Ratliff's diagnosis is pending; we can't afford to lose him long-term. Period.... ELSEWHERE: LA has crept up to just 2 behind Portland, like I said they would. San Diego has dropped back some.... Tampa's Magic Number is 3.... Atlanta's John Arrington is looking good for his 2nd batting title (in just his 4th season), hitting .358, 14 points above Brooklyn's Chris White. With 35 HR, 100 RBI, and a 7.4 WAR, he's also in the running for MVP.


September 20-23 @ SEATTLE
At 81-71 and vying for a wild card spot; they're 2.5 games out of the 2nd slot. Ninth in runs for, 7th in runs against, for a +22 differential. Every regular has double figures in HR, with five over 20 (although none have yet reached 30). Juan Rodriquez (.324/28/105) has performed as advertised, although he's one of a solid cadre who do not get along with manager Jose Jimenez. Two-time Cy Young winner Miguel Moreno has only 12 wins, but may figure in the running for his third trophy. And after losing closer Brendan Gallo for the season, second-year pitcher Darryl Kennedy has stepped in big time: 31 GP, 18 SV, 1.11 ERA.

HAW pitchers: Taylor Barnett (13-4, 3.46) / Angel Cordova (0-0, 3.00) / Eric Jones (19-3, 3.20) / Khalil Palmer (12-6, 4.30)
SEA pitchers: Carlos Zenon (16-7, 3.08) / Steve Maki (10-8, 4.75) / Miguel Moreno (12-6, 2.89) / Brett McGee (9-15, 5.79)

#152: WIN 11-2 ... pitching! Complete game, 6-hitter for Barnett, with 9 K...Rangel goes 3-for-5 with 3 RBI...2 hits for Klein, pushing him closer to 200
#153: LOSS 1-5 ... we only allow 7 hits, but 3 are HR...3 hits for Groff, 2 for Davila, who's been pretty silent lately
#154: LOSS 7-8 ... 7-5 lead in the bottom of the 9th vanishes after a pair of home runs, the second a walk-off solo shot, off of Brown...Sanborn hits his 20th, and Groff gets hurt
#155: WIN 7-6 ... wooo, runs in bunches...Welch's solo HR in the 5th is the GW run, and last of the game, believe it...Padilla cranks 2 HR of his own...Palmer stinks in his return to the rotation

We may not be able to get anybody out right now, but man are we still scoring. Half a loaf, eh?... We dodged a couple of injury bullets: Ratliff is just dtd for a few games, and won't miss a start; Groff is dtd for five days, so will sit some, giving a few more looks to Padilla.... Speaking of Dante, he drills two homers in that last game. Making a case for his 2047 roster spot a bit early, but I'll take it.... ELSEWHERE: Tampa has clinched the AL East, and Philly secures a playoff spot in the NL.... The AL Central is close: Milwaukee by 2 over KC, and 4 over Detroit.... In the NL, Philly is up by 2 over Atlanta; New Orleans has regained momentum and is a half game up on Cincinnati, and 2 over the slumping Cubs; Portland is beset by injuries but so far holding off the Dodgers, maintaining a four game lead.... The Yankees are playing well, but at 80-76 and 5.5 games out of a wild card spot, will come up just short.... Adam Groff is the first in MLB to reach 8 WAR. I would love to see him win the MVP, but despite his forthcoming batting title, I don't think he quite has the power numbers (33 HR and 108 RBI aren't bad tho) to impress voters.


September 24-27 @ TEXAS
Mired in last with a 61-94 record, so they won't match their 77-win mark from last year, and the optimism from that campaign will have all but dissipated. What about next year? DH Manuel Cervantes (.263/32/94) was a good, if selfish, addition; FA addition Wil Almodovar added 31 HR, but a .211 average and just 10 doubles; 2B Alvin Phillips (.284/13/65) is a quality 2nd-tier player; and RF Mike Potter and SS Oscar Lara are decent contributors. But no one on offense really moves the needle. On the mound, Mike Messinger (dammit) has been a solid addition at the #1 spot; but Thomas Cannaday has never delivered what he promises on paper, and it's time to move on from journeyman starters Luis Otero, Lorenzo Rangel, and Roberto Castaneda. They got very little production from the bullpen (18th--last--in ERA), but do have a couple of guys who could be built around. If this team is willing to spend on a couple of quality free agents, and they stay healthier next year, they could surprise. Honestly.

HAW pitchers: Ryan Ratliff (13-4, 3.46) / Taylor Barnett (9-12, 4.54) / Angel Cordova (0-1, 4.91) / Eric Jones (19-3, 3.29)
TEX pitchers: Thomas Cannaday (6-16, 4.84) / Luis Otero (9-15, 5.64) / Roberto Castaneda (0-1, 3.91) / Mike Messinger (15-10, 3.67)

#156: WIN 5-3 ... 2 hits for Flygare in a rare start, 3 for Rich, and HR for Groff and Masuda...7.2 IP for Ratliff, with 6 K and zero BB, and save #39 for Brown
Races: Detroit beats KC, but Milwaukee wins, clinching a spot; Atlanta tops Philly, also clinches; LA beats Portland, now 3 back; NO clings to 1 game lead over Cincy, 2 over Chicago
#157: WIN 9-4 ... Welch, Padilla, and Masuda homer, and Padilla adds three other hits and 3 RBI...Barnett is just okay enough to get his 10th win
Races: Detroit wins again, as does Seattle, tightening the wild card race; Atlanta wins, tied with Philly for 1st now; NO and CIN win, CHC loses; Portland tops LA, now up by 4
#158: WIN 9-4 ... Klein finally reaches 200 hits...Rangel and Rich each get 3 hits, with Rangs adding 4 RBI...Cordova looks okay: 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 3 K, 3 BB, gets his first win
Races: KC (88 wins) tops DET (87), SEA (85) loses; ATL beats PHI to move into 1st; POR kayos LA to clinch the division; NO (86 wins) loses, CIN (86) wins, Cubs (83) lose again
#159: LOSS 2-5 ... no 20th win for Jones, thanks to Nate Moore giving up a 3-run HR to cousin Ben Moore in the 8th...tragic
Races: KC clinches a wild card with a win over DET; SEA idle, still has a chance; PHI beats ATL, tied at the top again; NO, CIN, and CHC all lose, all still alive

Tough break for Jones, whom I was hoping would become our second ever 20-game winner (Leon Casillas won 22 in '39). This will be Jones' second 19-win season.... Despite ranking 12th in home runs, with a mere ten (ha!) in our final series we could reach 200 dingers on the season. To quote Judy Tenuta, "It could happen.".... Four players have reached 20 HR, with Stoneback lurking with 19, and Joseph Hart with 17.... ELSEWHERE: Some races, huh? Detroit and KC beat up on each other, allowing Milwaukee to clinch. Seattle is hanging on in the wild card race, two games behind the Tigers. KC has clinched a spot already.... In the NL, the Cubs got swept by the lowly Expos, and need to win out (with either CIN or NO getting swept) to avoid a September collapse.... PHI and ATL staged an epic series, and are tied for first going into the final weekend of the season. Too bad they're not playing each other again.... Detroit's Sean West had a big series and has 51 HR on the season, the only player to reach the half-century mark.


September 28-30 @ OAKLAND
Most other years this could be a division-title faceoff. Oakland, now 83-76, played steadily better after finishing May nine games under .500. Hitting has ticked up a bit, to 10th in runs, and 5th in OBP. Pitching has been solid all season, 2nd in runs against, with strong performances from the rotation and the pen. 3B Ryan Walton (.264/46/107) made some (fools) forget about Vinny Vargas, and four other regulars popped over 20 HR. Top starters Wiater and Schwartz will be back next year, but the jury is still out on Pantaleon and the other three starters they've used. Still, the fans are turning out, they're making a profit for the first time in years, and if they can rustle up a couple of bats in the off-season, they'll be back challenging for the division--and possibly more--next year.

HAW pitchers: Shamar Jackson (5-3, 5.82) / Ryan Ratliff (14-4, 3.36) / Taylor Barnett (10-12, 4.56)
OAK pitchers: Mike Wiater (13-11, 3.62) / Jaysen Moss (4-3, 6.08) / Francisco Pantaleon (13-15, 4.02)

#160: WIN 12-1 ... a 4-hit 9-K complete game gem for Jackson...3 hits and 4 RBI for Sanborn, 21st HR...Rich with 2 hits, tops .300 for first time all year
Races: DET and SEA lose, Tigers still 2 up for final wild card; ATL wins, PHI loses, Braves 1 up for division; CIN, NO lose, CHC wins, Cubs still have hope...
#161: LOSS 2-7 ... two big innings for the A's sink us...40th double for Simmons is pretty much our only highlight
Races: SEA loses, handing DET the 2nd AL wild card; ATL and PHI win, so it comes down to final game, sort of; CIN and NO win, eliminating the Cubs and clinching playoffs for both
#162: WIN 22-6 ... not a typo...21 hits, 4 HR (2 for Groff), 5 RBI for Masuda...Rich goes 4-for-5, 3 RBI...Barnett pulled after 4 with back tightness...Pinksen also hurt
Races: ATL wins NL East by a game over PHI; CIN loses, but NO game is rained out, giving us another day to heal some. NO then loses make-up game, so we'll have a playoff for the division title.

Hahaha, 22 runs. Wow.... Two pitcher injuries in that last game, but neither is serious: Barnett is dtd for 2 weeks, but with no effect on pitching. Good! Pinksen is dtd for 5 days, so he'll be available for the pen.... Groff wins his Player of the Month for September, finishing with a .424/8/27 September.... Padilla certainly impressed, going .400/4/8 in 30 AB. Small sample size, yes, but better than the alternative.... ELSEWHERE: Cincinnati wins the one-game playoff over New Orleans, takes the division. So the Wild Card games will be KC vs DET in the AL, and PHI vs NO in the NL. Philadelphia is the defending World Series champion.... The Cubs dragged home with a 12-15 finish, allowing Cincy and NO to pass them and push them out of the playoffs.... Adam Groff (HAW) wins the AL batting crown at .361, and ATL's John Arrington (who hit .467 in Sept) wins the NL title, batting .365. Both Groff and Arrington have to be leading candidates for their respective MVP awards too.

......

TL;DR Version: A much better finish, 9-5, to wrap up the season with 102 wins. We led the AL in Runs, AVG, OBP, SLG, OPS, 2nd in XBH, and had the fewest strikeouts. On the mound, we were 4th in runs against, 6th in ERA and starter's ERA, and 2nd in hits allowed. Losing Messinger and then Hart's outright collapse dropped us to 10th in strikeouts. We were fourth in team defensive efficiency, and tied for 6th in fewest errors committed. Individually, Groff led the AL in AVG, WAR, hits, runs, TB, and SF, and tied for 1st in XBH. Quite a year. Jones led the AL in wins, win pct, and BABIP, and Ratliff led with 1.9 BB/9. Dan Brown tied for first with 39 saves. On the farm, S A Poughkeepsie lost the NY-Penn League final to Staten Island, while AAA Santa Barbara is about to begin their championship series versus Oxnard (BKN).

On to the playoffs!
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Old 05-11-2019, 09:50 AM   #231
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PLAYOFFS 2046

NL Wildcard -- New Orleans takes a 5-4 lead in the top of the ninth thanks to a walk, single, and sac fly. Philly, however, ties it up on a sac fly of their own, and we're off to extras. In the 10th, NO goes down on just four pitches, and the Phils produce the following in their half: BB, BB, HPB, F8 (runners hold), WP = win! Philly is off to the league semis, to face division foes Atlanta.

AL Wildcard -- KC vs DET was much less thrilling, tbh. After taking an early 2-1 lead, KC hands it right back thanks to a Sean West (AL HR King) 3-run blast. The Tigers add one more, while holding the Royals to just four hits, and fairly well coast to a 5-2 win. Off to the next round, where they'll face...Hawaii! I swear, it's either Oakland or Detroit for us. Every. Single. Year.


DIVISIONAL ROUNDS
Doesn't it seem like we play Detroit every year? Did I just say that? Let's see...beat them in the ALCS 4-3 in 2045...they beat us in the ALCS 4-3 in 2041...ditto, but 4-1 in 2040...and that's it. Huh. It seems like more. Maybe it's those two hard losses, especially in '41, when we were so, so good and then the bullpen kept pressing the EJECT button in that 7th game. Unnnngh. Okay, we've got a chance to even the score. At least we've got three titles to their, um...none, in recent years.

Having said all that, for an 87-win team, the Tigers look super scary. Offense was a bit spotty, but with characteristic power: 13th in AVG, but 4th in runs and OBP, and 2nd in HR. Ten batters on the playoff roster hit double figures in HR, with Sean West (52), John Sheets (41), and old man CJ Lee (37) leading the way. Pitching was uniformly strong, 3rd in runs, with the 5th-rated rotation and bullpen. Raul Bravo was the ace, but Mike Cote and Jeffrey Foley were better than league average. Closer Alex Castaneda recorded 39 saves and is looking for his 2nd Wilhelm trophy. Although I'm not sure why T.J. Carroll (14-8, 4.39) is in the pen in favor of putting T.J. Bohanan (7-5, 6.02) into the rotation. Injuries: four players are on the DL, but none were prominent during the season, so they're healthy. CJ Lee has a nagging dtd injury, but it shouldn't hamper his batting.

For us, we make just a couple of decisions regarding the playoff roster. Backup OF Nate Flygare, who hit .310 in just 58 AB, is left off in favor of hot rookie Dante Padilla (.400 in 30 AB). We'll roll with four OF, with Glenn Heath (.281 in 32 AB) getting the nod. And, sadly, Rob Hart is left off of the pitching staff, in favor of swingmen Khalil Palmer and Tim Pinksen. Neither of those two were exactly world beaters this year, but Pinks has had some success in the pen of late, and Palmer looks like he's a good choice for LR. Hart had a few promising starts, but never gelled and finished the year with a 7.24 ERA and 64 walks in 98.2 IP. It's a sad day for me, but a necessary one. Sigh. Otherwise, we're healthy save for Taylor Barnett's dtd back injury, which my trainers tell me won't affect his pitching at all. Well okay then.

Game One, Sunday, October 7: Detroit (Mike Cote, 12-12 4.27) @ Hawaii (Eric Jones, 19-3 3.28). We're outhit 9-5, not a great sign for the rest of the series. CJ Lee hits a line drive HR in the 2nd, but we tie it up on a couple of walks and hits in the bottom half. Detroit adds another one right away, tho, with Sean West driving in the go-ahead run. Bottom of the 8th now, same score: runners on 1st and 3rd, and Chris Sanborn is the first playoff hero of 2046 thanks to his smash double into the RF gap, bringing home both runners. Jones goes 6.1 innings, and while not great (8 H, 4 BB), he keeps runs off the board for the most part. Then Stanley (!) and Brown shut things down, with the latter fanning two Tigers in the 9th to end it. Hawaii 3, Detroit 2. HAW leads 1-0

ELSEWHERE: Atlanta takes 13 innings to dink out 5 hits and grind out a 3-2 game one over Philly. Likewise, Portland rides six hits to a slightly easier 3-1 victory over Cincy. The next day, Atlanta bats wake up to the tune of an 11-4 win, taking a 2-0 series lead. Cincy, however, evens their series with a 5-3 win over the Pioneers, paced by a pair of HR and two crucial Portland errors. In the other AL matchup, Milwaukee holds Tampa to four hits, while powering out four HR of their own, to take the first game 7-1.

Game Two, Monday, October 8: Detroit (Jeffrey Foley, 9-9 3.91) @ Hawaii (Ryan Ratliff, 14-5 3.52). CJ Lee starts the scoring AGAIN, with another solo HR, but we break the ice with four in the bottom half, thanks to RBI hits from the bottom four in the lineup. But again, we're outhit, and this time...it costs us. Up 4-2 in the top of the 8th, Rick Ramirez walks a batter then gives up two singles--and IS NOT PULLED--and then a 3-run blast from John Sheets, and it's 5-4 bad guys. Jesus Villalobos adds a solo dinger in the 9th, just to rub it in, and we're all tied. Dang. Detroit 6, Hawaii 4. Series tied 1-1.

ELSEWHERE: Milwaukee's Seth King, an August call-up with zero HR in 2046, becomes a hero in Wisconsin with one 9th-inning swing, putting the Brewers up 2-0. They won this game 8-7, and it's good to see that at least one series is showing some offense. Oh, and in non-MLB news: our AAA affiliate, Santa Barbara, swept the Oxnard Strawberries (BKN) in four to take that championship series. Congrats, guys!

Game Three, Wednesday, October 10: Hawaii (Taylor Barnett, 10-12 4.56) @ Detroit (Raul Bravo, 11-8 3.93). Well, at least CJ Lee didn't hit another homer. But this time Sean West did, a 2-run shot in the 1st. In our half of the third, Masuda finally woke up and smacked his own 2-run blast, but the Tigers dink out another run in their half, and it's 3-2 Detroit after three. Groff puts us back on top in the 5th, with another 2-run homer, but again the other guys scratch out a single run, and tie it up. No one scores in the 6th and 7th, and we can't plate a runner in the 8th. And then that b*st*rd Sean West juuuust gets enough on a line drive for his second HR of the game, this time a solo shot. Down 5-4, we put two runners on in the 9th but can't bring either home, and we're a game away from heartbreak. AGAIN. TO THESE GUYS. Detroit 5, Hawaii 4. Detroit leads 2-1.

ELSEWHERE: Only 8 total hits were recorded in the ATL-PHI game, with Philly turning two late-inning hits and a walk into single runs in the 8th and 9th to take game three 2-1, and stay alive in the series. Meanwhile, Cincy bats finally wake up and pound Portland pitching for 12 hits and 9 runs, to take their game three 9-4. Reds catcher Antonio Chamorro hit two HR, giving him four in the series. Reds up, 2-1. In the AL, Tampa fights back with a big 5-run 4th to avoid the sweep with a 6-3 victory over Milwaukee.

Game Four, Thursday, October 11: Hawaii (Shamar Jackson, 6-3 5.23) @ Detroit (T.J. Bohanan, 7-5 6.02). Here it is, to stay alive. And yes, we're counting on a rookie pitcher to get it done. I can't look... Well, it was scoreless through four. And then with a run already in, Stoneback hits a 3-run blast, followed by a Masuda 2-run shot, and we're up 6-0 just like that. We cobble together another one in the 6th, but leave two runners on. Will that hurt later? Well, maybe, as Detroit yawns, stretches, then plates FIVE in their 6th, thanks mostly to a 3-run HR from that jerk Sean West, and suddenly it's close again, 7-5. We string together several singles in the 7th to bring another run home, but again leave runners in scoring position. And then...it's 2041 all over again. Yep. With two outs--TWO OUTS--in the bottom of the 8th, my former-awesome-closer-to-be Rick Ramirez gives up a single, single, single, walk, WP, and another single to allow FOUR runs and put us in a 9-8 hole. AGAIN. THE BULLPEN. AGAIN. But wait, we're still alive, right? Ninth inning: Sanborn grounds out. Klump walks, but is erased in a Joseph Hart fielder's choice. JJ Simmons comes up, nearly muscles one into a gap, but ends up lining right to third for the final out. That 3B? Why, Sean West, of course. And poof, it's over. Asdf;lkewklkef$%$@%. (A more detailed breakdown of the season is to come. But first, the heavy drinking.) Detroit 9, Hawaii 8. Detroit WINS series 3-1.

ELSEWHERE: The Brewers hold a stout Tampa offense to just four hits, and win in a romp, 8-0, to take the series and get one step closer to their first World Series trip since the Cenozoic Era. In the NL, it's over: Atlanta rode two John Arrington HR to beat Philly 5-2 and take the series 3-1. Meanwhile, Cincy managed just six hits, but got two in the 9th to score the winning run and knock out Portland, 3-2 (also winning the series 3-1).

......

Should be two interesting and entertaining league series. Detroit went to the WS in 2040 and 2041, losing both to expansion teams (first New Orleans, then to Brooklyn). They also lost in 2031, to Richmond. I was a little rough on Milwaukee up there, as they did go to a Series in 2025, also losing to Richmond. So Detroit's last title was 1984, while Milwaukee has zero. In the NL, Atlanta has had recent-ish success: winning titles in 2026, 2030, and 2037. Cincinnati looked like a sure thing in 2042 before losing a heartbreaking series to that year's champion, LA. Their last Series visit came in 1990. So for the newness of it all, I'm pulling for the Brewers and the Reds. Which means the Tigers will win it all.

Game One, NL: ATL 3B Nate Vawdrey's 2-run HR is the key, along with Jose Gutierrez tossing seven 7-hit innings. Atlanta takes the game 4-1.
Game Two, NL: ATL turns 3 8th-inning singles and a walk into two runs to squeeze out this tight affair, 4-2. Atlanta now up two games to none.
Game Three, NL: Down 5-3, Cincy scores in the 8th, 9th, and 10th--on 3 solo HR!--to get on the series board. A 6-5 win, and Atlanta up 2 games to 1.
Game Four, NL: Tight game, with just 12 combined hits, no HR. Cincy uses a pair of singles and a WP to score the winning run in the 6th, for a 2-1 win. Series tied!
Game Five, NL: Despite the home cooking, Cincy manages just five hits and can't hold off two late rallies, as the Braves take it 4-2. Atlanta now just a game away, and heading home.
Game Six, NL: Former Isle (why did I ever trade him?) Ryuma Sato tosses a 6-hit CG for a 3-0 shutout. 13 K for ATL starter Joel Heller in a losing effort. Game Seven incoming!
Game Seven, NL: It's 2-2 in the 7th, when NL hit king John Arrington hits a solo HR, and then ATL adds another one in the 8th. Cincy goes 1-2-3 in the 9th, coming oh so close again. ATL wins!

Game One, AL: Sean West hits ANOTHER homer for the Tigers but they only manage one other hit, while the Brewers turn just four hits into two runs. Game one, Milwaukee, 2-1.
Game Two, AL: Just two hits again for the Tigers, while the Brewers bang five HR and romp to a 12-0 pasting.
Game Three, AL: MIL keeps doing what we couldn't: hit AND pitch, holding off various late Tiger rallies to push this one to the brink, an 8-5 win.
Game Four, AL: Roberto Rivera comes off the bench for a super-clutch 9th-inning 2-run HR to keep the Tigers alive, winning 4-3. Milwaukee still a game away...
Game Five, AL: Suck it Detroit! Mario Soto hits his 5th playoff HR, a 2-run shot in the 9th, to stun the Tigers 6-5 and send them packing. The Brewers are going to the Series!!!

......

The 2046 World Series features Atlanta vs Milwaukee, or New Braves vs Old Braves. Or something like that. Both teams won 95 games, and this looks like an interesting match-up. Atlanta's offense was 2nd in the NL; Milwaukee features the AL's best pitching and defense. Atlanta's pitching was not bad, 7th in the NL, but features the probable NL Cy Young winner in Jose Gutierrez. Milwaukee's offense was 6th in runs, but only 17th in AVG and OBP. They were 1st in HR, however, so they get a lot of easy, quick runs. The Brewers have gotten this far despite losing ace SP Jay Russo (8-2, 1.60) back in July, #4 starter Jim Gilbert in September, and closer Edgar Tinajero in August. Milwaukee's top qualified hitter was SS J.J. Dean, at just .255 (although 2B Alan Branham hit .279 and 3B Josh Toombs .285, in many fewer AB). Everybody hits home runs, and three guys topped 30. Atlanta's explosive offense features AL batting champ John Arrington (.365/41/112), and catcher Ken Carter (.291/37/113). Leadoff batter Aaron Blocker went a tidy .312/31/90, and deadline-acquisition 2B Travis Tanner finished at .332. Ace SP Gutierrez is the key to the pitching staff, although the bullpen looks like it can be exploited, with closers Bobby Bustos (22 SV, 5.05 ERA) and Jason McCully (14, 4.40) failing to dominate in that role. My pick: whoever gets the timeliest hits will win. I think Milwaukee's power will sway in the end. Brewers in 7.

GAME ONE: MIL gets a 3-run home run, but just three other hits, as Gutierrez does his job. ATL rides 9 hits and a pair of 2-run HR to take this one, 5-3. ATL 1 MIL 0
GAME TWO: More pitching! Only 13 combined hits, but this time MIL gets two HR, and ATL can't get anyone past second. Shutout, Milwaukee, 4-0. ATL 1 MIL 1
GAME THREE: ATL outhits MIL 10 to 6, but all six Brewer hits go for extras and they knock out the Braves SP in the 4th. A solid 6-2 win for the Brewers here. ATL 1 MIL 2
GAME FOUR: The offenses wake up, with 25 combined hits. ATL scores all its runs in the 6th and 7th, and limits the damage done by multiple MIL rallies, to win 9-6. ATL 2 MIL 2
GAME FIVE: ATL hits for the cycle in the 1st, scoring 4 times, then holds on late to take this one 6-4. Four of MIL six hits go for extras, but they need more runners! ATL 3 MIL 2
GAME SIX: ATL scores early and often, including 2 Arrington HR, and Matt Young tosses a 5-hit complete game, for a cakewalk 9-0 win. MIL just couldn't hit after all. ATL 4 MIL 2

The Atlanta Braves are your 2046 World Series champions! This is the 7th title in franchise history, the last coming in 2036. They're now 4-1 in the WS in this dynasty (since 2014). It's possible they could get a fun Triple Crown: World Series Champs, NL MVP, and NL Cy Young winner.

Oh well, to the off-season now.
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Old 05-12-2019, 06:17 PM   #232
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2046-47 Off-Season, part 1

Let's talk about the disappointment of the playoffs, and then leave it behind. Yes, we won a league-best 102 games, once again had the top offense in baseball, and for most of the season at least, top-five pitching and defense. But you could see the trouble coming: we went 31-25 through August and September, stopped hitting home runs (or at least dropped to 12th from about 7th), and while our pitching ended up 4th in runs against, both the rotation and bullpen ERA dropped out of the top five. Are these first world problems? Our hitting held up, and I have few complaints and will probably make only a few tweaks to that end of the roster. But the rotation was largely propped up by quality seasons from Eric Jones and Ryan Ratliff, with very little behind them. Rob Hart lost all his effectiveness following last year's injury (more on him later); Taylor Barnett was back-and-forth; Tim Pinksen started hot and faded badly; likewise in-season acquisition Khalil Palmer ran colder as the season wore on. And the bullpen, while sporting some decent overall numbers, went ice cold during the season's third quarter, got better through September, but was a major letdown in our brief playoff appearance.

So...first world problems? Maybe, but what of it. With this core, we expect to win every year. And with a top-five budget, we have money to spend on quality...maybe more money this year than in recent ones. Owner Pagan has raised the budget for 2047 by $10M, to $194M. He tells me I can spend 180M on player salaries, which of course makes no sense at all if I'm going to have any money for useful things like, say, coaches, scouts, trainers, sandwiches, beer, etc. In 2046, we spent 152.4M on player salaries, and currently have 131.4M on the books for '47. This includes arbitration estimates (more on them below) for eleven players. It also includes 6M in retained salary for Ken Clark (traded to STL in '39), who is now 37 and pretty useless, but of course used his player option to squeeze out one more year of unearned salary. [PRO TIP: player options always work this way -- players decline them when you wish they would use them, and use them when you wish they would decline them.] It does not include the following six players who were on salary in '46: Rob Hart, Sen Masuda, Tim Pinksen, John Canning, Khalil Palmer, and Cory Vannoy.

Masuda has been our 1B for five years now, but is currently one of three one-dimensional power-hitting 1B/DH-types on the roster. Which is one (or two) too many. He made $10.6M, wants about $12M to renew, but at 32, I'm not sure I want him back. (His ratings are starting to decline.) I may offer him the $13M qualifying offer (an odd thing to do, I know), which he'll likely decline, in order to hope for a free supplemental pick when he signs elsewhere. If he accepts, well...we'll cross that bridge later. He's still useful, but I think it's time to move on for someone similar but cheaper. Pinksen and Palmer have been stop-gap acquisitions for the rotation, and neither impressed. With Pinksen at 6.7M (Palmer was cheap at least, at 900K), it's easy enough to move on. Canning was a fine backup IF/OF (making just 1.2M), who hit .302 and played solid defense, and I would consider looking at him again this fall, especially as we don't have a lot of ready-for-prime-time IF in the system. But I'll wait on that. Vannoy was a former backup C who's been in AAA the past couple seasons, hasn't played particularly well, and is starting to decline.

Hart, however, is the sad part of the equation. He's been a part of the rotation for nearly a decade now, and in fact was a 9th round pick in our very first draft back in 2034. He made 232 starts for us, and was having a career year in '45 when he got hurt. Coming back from injury, he struggled in camp, got hurt again, and was never effective (outside of one or two starts) the rest of the season. On paper, my scouts say his ratings (20 scale) have declined from 21/13/12 to 18/12/10. Which still looks okay enough, maybe for a #5 starter, but given that his K/9 decreased by three, his BB/9 doubled, and his starting ERA was near 8.00, how can I trust that he'll ever be useful again? He had a team option at $16M for '47, which would have also kept him around through '48, which I just couldn't do. If he's super-cheap in free agency, I might take a flyer on him. But I suspect someone will grab him at somewhere around 6 to 8 million--and for 2-3 years--which is just too risky for me right now.

......

Before I get into the arbitration cases, let's look at some more possible roster adjustments.

In the field, RF Joseph Hart had a down year, at .255/17/71, earning just 2.3 WAR. He also stole just 6 bases, not good for someone with speed who usually gets about 20 a year. He gets on base a lot (OBP about 100 points higher than his AVG), and plays decent defense. He also makes 6.9M and is due for an arbitration raise. With three nice-looking OF prospects pushing up from AAA, I think it may be time to move on from the 27-year-old while I can still get something for him.

As I mentioned above, I also have two other 1B/DH types who's futures need considering. Jonathan Klump started '46 as the regular DH, but got hurt and lost his regular role to Chris Sanborn, the third member of this little triumvirate. Klump hit .306 with 26 HR in '45, but declined to .252 with 13 HR last year (albeit with 128 fewer PA). He's cheap, making league minimum, and his arb estimate is pretty low. He's a lefty, and does not hit LHP well at all. He is popular, a fan favorite. Sanborn, also making minimum (and also with a cheap arb estimate), batted .292 with 21 HR in 428 AB. He too is a lefty and doesn't hit LHP well, but is better than Klump at it. Klump, however, is better against RHP. So do I keep both? The situation is complicated by the development (and nice September callup) of 3B prospect Dante Padilla, along with the declining range (and defensive stats) of longtime 3B Adam Groff. Groff could easily slide over to first, where he'd be a dramatic defensive step up from Masuda/Klump/Sanborn, with 2B JJ Simmons moving to third, and up-and-comer Manny Rangel taking over at second. I admit to being attracted to that infield. If I do that, do I keep both Klump and Sanborn? Do I keep Sanborn b/c he hit better than Klump last year, or is that just recency bias? Do I keep Klump b/c he's a bit better against RHP than Sanborn, and try to find a decent right handed-hitting power bat to platoon with him? Or do I keep both and let them fight it out in camp? Since I'm looking at pitching as my primary focus this off-season, do I consider packaging J Hart with one of Klump/Sanborn (and maybe a prospect or two) and go after a quality #1 or #2 SP in a trade? SO MANY CHOICES.

On the mound, most everyone can come back. (Outside of the aforementioned Hart, Pinksen, Palmer, and also recent former SP Jonathan Murray, who was DFA'd over the summer and spent most of 2046 sulking in AAA.) Several from the bullpen are due arbitration raises, but outside of closer Dan Brown, I don't think they'll cost me much. Right now I've got eleven RP who spent time on the big club last year available for camp, with another two prospects who will get looks. So while I'll keep my eyes on the waiver wire this fall, I may try to save a few bucks and not go after any free agent relievers. I'll leave the pricey ones to the Dodgers, as usual.

......

Eleven guys are due for arbitration, and only ten will get offers. Jonathan Murray, noted above, won't be tendered and can take his chances on the open market. The rest will get offers, as seen below. Of those ten, most will definitely be back next year. Possible exceptions include Joseph Hart (see above) and Nate Flygare. The latter hit .310 as a backup OF, but with only 58 AB all season, you can tell he's not exactly high in my esteem. Good contact hitter, but no power, and decent-enough but not great defense. I'd rather have more multi-dimensional players as backup OF.

If these estimates come in exactly as predicted (hint: they won't), we'll be $21M beneath last year's salaries. If we traded Joseph Hart, one of Klump/Sanborn, and maybe Flygare, that's another 10M or so. That makes $41M (less, really, once the actual arb settlements come in) to go after a starting pitcher (or maybe two?) and a backup infielder. Or to have room for anyone we might acquire in said trade.

And replacements from within? Three outfielders were solid in AAA this year, and all got looks on the island: Kenny Welch, Glenn Heath, and Cameron Daley. What do they bring? Welch looks like the best all-around hitter, and is a righty with no discernable L/R split. He has no range in the field, but has a big arm. Heath is the best all-around fielder, capable of playing anywhere, although he's not quite well-suited for center. A decent-enough hitter, but with low contact, and is a lefty who won't hit lefties. Daley could develop into a nice #2 hitter, with contact, gap, a touch of power, and won't strike out. Nice speed, but his range and arm will limit him to left. In an ideal world, Daley would become our new LF, Heath the RH-half of a DH platoon, and Welch either the backup option or trade bait. That scenario would move current LF Ramon Davila over to RF...except that his arm is pretty noodly as well. But wait! Joseph Hart has a better arm, and was this season's RF. He could stay! So you see the possible options...

Possible OF:
LF Cameron Daley
CF Jim Klein
RF Ramon Davila or Joseph Hart
OF Glenn Heath
OF ???

In the infield, there are no guys in AAA who are ready for the bigs. That's discounting 3B Dante Padilla, who went from AA to MLB and hit better at each level. His only drawback is an iron glove (but has range, arm, and DP ability) and a lack of gap power. But he already looks like a power bat that will be hard to keep out of the lineup. I'm about 75% of the way to letting him play his way out of the 3B spot in camp next spring. The only other non-1B/DH guy anywhere close is AA 2B Jorge Canales. He hit .275 with 13 HR in Lewiston, and his bat is about 80% developed, scouts say. He runs well, is great in the clubhouse, and is solid in the field--if a bit lacking in double play ability. There's also 2046 1st rounder 2B Josh Matson, who spent the post-draft period in A ball; he looks like potential starting material, but is at least two/three years away.

Possible IF:
1B Adam Groff
2B Manny Rangel
3B JJ Simmons
SS Steve Stoneback
IF Dante Padilla
IF ???
DH Chris Sanborn or Jonathan Klump (vs RH) / Heath or Padilla (vs LH)

There are no catchers of note in the system, outside of the outspoken Justin Cecil. He'll be in AAA this year, but has holes in his swing and isn't the best receiver around. Also, he's mouthy and disloyal, a great combination. I don't foresee any changes behind the plate this year.

Possible (ok, near-lock) backstops:
C Rob Rich
C Dave McCollum

Pitchers? The AAA/MLB trio of Nate Moore, Nick Kramer, and Ben Willard look great on paper, but all struggled in the bigs. They'll get shots in camp, of course. Two RP who didn't see any MLB time--John Russell and Walt Thompson--will also get looks, but they're a bit underdeveloped at the moment. Prospect starters Shamar Jackson, Shaun Gates, Andy Nowak, and Angel Cordova will get looks as well. Jackson got 11 starts late in the season and made the post-season roster, so he's got the inside track. Finally, there's OF/P Phil Lasky (card below) who needs to find a spot somewhere. What the player card below doesn't show is a gap power rating of 15 and avoid K's of 16. Also, decent R/L splits and OF defense of 14/12/16. He was ineffective in two starts in Hawaii, and had zero at bats. Still worth a long look. Then there's swingman Ben Germann, who has big-time stuff and nice movement, but below average control. He made 2 starts and 6 relief appearances with Hawaii, neither terribly impressive. One last thing of interest: catcher Rob Rich has seen his putouts decline precipitously over the last two seasons, from 1115 to 980 to just 802. Why? Strikeouts. The loss of Messinger to free agency, and then Rob Hart's fall off the map left us with no power pitchers in the rotation. Not that a 250+ K guy is the final answer to everything, but those are a lot of "free" outs we're not getting. None of the internal prospects, outside of Germann, are "big stuff" guys, so...who knows.

Possible staff:
SP Eric Jones
SP Ryan Ratliff
SP Shamar Jackson
SP ???
SP ???

(internal competition: Germann, Gates, Nowak, Cordova, Lasky)

CL Dan Brown
SU Rick Ramirez
MR Pat Stanley
MR Steve Dickerson
MR ???
MR ???

(internal competition: Moore, Willard, Kramer, Germann, Russell, Thompson, J. Esquivel, A. Salazar)

Arbitrations are shown below. I'm guessing that the pricey ones will cost me more money than I want, but I'll win all the cheap ones (oh joy).
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Old 05-15-2019, 10:05 PM   #233
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2046-47 Off-Season, part 2

[Remember back in off-season post #1, where I said I wouldn't tinker with the lineup too much, and definitely wouldn't go after relievers? Yeah, I never said that.]

Away from the personal navel-gazing for a moment.... San Francisco fired manager David Baker, after three seasons of 75, 57, and 62 wins. No replacement yet. Also, rather less dramatically, a number of managers "were not renewed," or retired, following the season, for the following teams: Arizona, Baltimore, LA Angels, LA Dodgers, Miami, Pittsburgh, Portland, Seattle, Toronto, and Washington. Counting SF, that's eleven teams! Most surprising was Portland letting go of Kody Kirkland after making the playoffs. Baltimore released Nestor Corredor after 11 seasons, and LAD's 11-year skipper, Gabriel Alfaro, retired. Alfaro was twice manager of the year, and won titles in 2038 and 2042. Back to us, four managers/coaches (from A ball and lower) were not re-signed. I'll start searches to fill those positions after the season-end changeover.

Awards Season is here:
...AL Gold Gloves: [b]Rich Stoneback[/u] wins his 3rd award at SS; Paul Foster wins his 9th at 3B, his first with Toronto; the rest were with Minnesota; three other players won their second trophies
...NL Gold Gloves: Philly's Alex Castillo wins his 7th trophy at short; teammate Danny Baca wins his 4th, at first base; 2B Danny Diaz, LAD, wins his 4th; two others won their second awards
...AL Hoyt Wilhelm: odd winner, in that Milwaukee's H.O. Kara won despite finishing with only 17 saves and a 2.56 ERA. I guess 1.7 WAR was the clincher; our own Dan Brown finished sixth
...NL Hoyt Wilhelm: Richmond's Jay Debus recorded 46 saves, with a 1.70 ERA, and earned 3.4 WAR (more than most regular SP, frankly)
...AL Silver Sluggers: 3B Adam Groff wins his 7th, and DH Sen Masuda his first. Congrats! All but one winner were repeaters, with KC CF Luis Mendez nabbing his 5th, and BAL RF Cesar Alvarenga taking home his third straight
...NL Silver Sluggers: Brooklyn's 3B Chris White received his 6th trophy, at his third position (has 3 at SS, and 2 at 2B); Austin RF Phil Imel won his third straight, as did New Orleans 2B Jose Rodriguez (although his first two were at SS)
...AL Rookie of the Year: well, color me surprised, as 1B Chris Sanborn takes home the award, beating out White Sox SS Chris Rock by 5 points. Sanborn (.292/21/78, 2.2 WAR) probably won thanks to his power numbers, as Rock--who batted .313 with 3.9 WAR--hit just 5 dingers; how do I trade Sanborn now?
...NL Rookie of the Year: Padres CF Mike Israel received 26 first place votes to take home the trophy, after a .274/24/90 season, with 4.0 WAR
...AL Manager of the Year: you might think winning 102 games would be good enough for our Matt Sargent to take the award, but no; Milwaukee's Seon-gwon Che gets the nod, after a 95-win season. Granted, they did improve by 18 games and made the post-season for the first time in 6 seasons
...NL Manager of the Year: no surprise, as Atlanta's Dario Agrazal wins the NL trophy, to cap off a division win and a World Series title
...AL Cy Young: injuries ruined the season of Milwaukee's Jay Russo, the front-runner until hurt, but he still finished third in the voting; the winner was Houston's Chris Harris, who at least topped the AL with 6.0 WAR (I hear it's a useless stat?); he had a 12-8, 3.05 ERA season, with 229 K in 203.2 IP
...NL Cy Young: no shock here, as Atlanta's Jose Gutierrez (2.14, 14-4, 8.6 WAR, 279 K) was the unanimous choice; this is his second consecutive Cy Young win; the last time that happened in the NL was Gary Florence's magic run in 2039 and 2040
...AL MVP: YES, Adam Groff wins his third MVP award, getting 32 of 36 first place votes; he also won in 2039 and 2042; I mean, he DID win his 5th batting title and led MLB with 8.9 WAR
...NL MVP: a closer vote here, as Atlanta's John Arrington receives 23 first place votes to add to his season hardware (all-star nod, Silver Slugger, MVP, and World Series ring); if he can stay healthy, he'll have a Hall of Fame career [ED. note: three days after writing this, he fell at an awards ceremony and scabbed his knee. Not a serious injury, but an omen...?)

......

League news:
...not only did an elbow injury end Jay Russo's season and kill his sure-thing Cy Young win, but now a setback will cost him the 2047 season. It's hard to see how the 35-year-old comes back from this to have any kind of efficiency, to be honest.
...Tampa owner Stuart Sternberg has passed away. He'll be replaced by...his son, Stuart Sternberg, Jr., who is said to be a lenient economizer.
...Arbitration hearings are here, and I await breathlessly...

...and we came out okay, surprisingly. Rick Ramirez won his, and will get 3.395M (we offered 2.8); Ryan Ratliff won a 2.31M decision (2.0 from us); and oddly Ben Germann gets 1.1M (850K offer). All the others? We won, including Joseph Hart (he'll get 7.5M instead of the 10M he wanted) and Dan Brown (8.5M instead of 10M). All the other wins were low-salary guys who wouldn't have broken the bank either way. Also, Sen Masuda declined our 13M qualifying offer, and will hit the open market. (Friendly advice, big guy: you're not getting that much from anyone, sorry to say.)

......

Free Agents file! Time for us to come out swinging! Let's look at the top starting pitchers available, and see who we might consider as we rebuild our rotation... Here's Rafael Maldonado, 31, a two-time Cy Young/MVP winner. Excellent stuff, solid movement, great control. Groundballer. But--his third pitch, a curveball, has all but vanished. Ok. Plus, he's lazy and greedy. Umm. His WAR has dropped from 11.3 to 8.3 to 4.8. He also wants $21.5 per for 6 years. That's a contract that WILL bite someone on the ass. But not me. PASS.... How about longtime A's starter Francisco Pantaleon? He's 28, and with great stuff and good movement, but not nearly the control of Maldonado; still looks okay, tho. He's got five pitches, but only two are above average. He's been healthy so far over his five-year career. All good, but he wants $15.9M over 9 years, with the money escalating to boot. Nine years? Maaayyybe, but...nah. I've been burned before by paying for pitchers into their mid-30s.... So what about door #3, former Cubs vet John Baldwin? Excellent stuff, so-so movement, good control. Three good pitches, no fastball. Smart guy, but greedy and selfish. He's a lefty sidearmer, and doesn't fare so well against RHB. (Otherwise known as nearly 75% of MLB hitters, those pesky righties.) He's 31, and wants $14.4M per over 5 years. Eh, doubtful. Again, would rather not pa a pitcher big money up to age 36.... All three of these guys already have suitors, so the rumors say.... Interestingly, in the next tier down are two recent Hawaii castoffs: Rob Hart and Tim Pinksen. Supposedly the Cubs are sniffing around Hart, but I think he's toast. Oakland is looking at Pinksen, but he's a back-end guy, past 30, and not in my plans. Both are asking for less than $10M, which seems reasonable, but fool me once...

So what then? Why, I'm glad you asked!

OPERATION ROTATION RECLAMATION, PART ONE: We sniff around for teams that might have some pitching to burn but couldn't hit a lick last year, as we have young hitters to dangle. And hey presto! Boston comes to call, and we quickly agree to the following deal: we get SP Joe Koval (30, RH) and OF Jorge Sanchez (23, RH), in exchange for 1B/DH Chris Sanborn and OF Glenn Heath. Yes, that's right: we traded the AL Rookie of the Year and a 24-year-old top OF prospect. And what of it? We have plenty (I mean plenty) of OF, and with Groff moving to 1B, someone in that corner had to go. In exchange we get Koval, a six-year vet with excellent ratings across the board and four quality pitches. He's been a 4-to-5 WAR guy every season, and is a groundballer who's given up 0.6 HR/9 in his 937-inning big league career. In Sanchez we get a promising prospect who is an excellent fielder and good runner, has great intangibles, and will be at least a #4 OF if he hits his modest hitting ceilings; if he passes them, he'll be gold. Since we're giving up two younger players, I wanted a more sure-thing prospect (along with Koval) rather than a draft pick, even though Boston was willing to part with their second round pick. But wait, there's more...

OPERATION ROTATION RECLAMATION, PART TWO: OF Ramon Davila was our free agent find from last winter. His time in Hawaii turned out to be short, as we sent him, two others, and a pick, to the Mets for pitcher Dennis Perry (27, RH) and a first round pick. Why? Again: so many outfielders, so little space. Davila, 28, hit 25 HR but batted just .260, which was nearly a career best. I believe I have better-than-that coming up this year. We also sent sad-face backup OF Nate Flygare (he of the 156 combined AB over the last two seasons), who can get on base and run, but isn't as dynamic a hitter as we have--repeat after me--coming up from the farm. We also send 24-year-old pitcher Cory Bickett, who has promise but is coming along slowly, and was mired in AA last season. In exchange, I love the pick. I also like our new pitcher: Perry is a power pitcher who keeps the ball down, has three very nice pitches, and still has room to grow stuff- and control-wise. He's a bit unproven, as he only has 20 relief appearances under his big league belt and did struggle with control last year. But I'm taking the chance because he looks like a solid middle-rotation guy to me, and seems ready to take a spot.

We also trade minor league 1B Kevin Jacobson to St Louis for minor league 3B Jason Mickelson, but this is just a AAA roster move, to free up room for some 1B prospects, while shoring up an infield hole in the Santa Barbara gang.

......

Some big signings took place while we were welcoming our new guys to the islands...

...the Dodgers land a big fish who isn't a former closer, inking 1B Vinny Vargas to a 5-year, $129M deal. Vargas was a .340-hitting, 40-HR smashing terror over 11 years with Oakland. He was a free agent bust for Minny last year, tho, missing nearly half the season and slumping to just .276, his lowest full-season average (by 30 points) in his career. He'll help revive a Dodger attack that could only muster a .237 average last season.
...the Cubs double-dipped, landing the aforementioned SP Rafael Maldonado (5 yrs, $107M) and 3B Josh Toombs (5 yrs, $94M). Maldonado I've already talked about; he'll be good for another year, maybe two, then decline to become a cash-draining vampire. Toombs is a nice power hitter, who's turned in a few good seasons (and earned two Gold Gloves) with Milwaukee. Oddly, tho, at 30 it looks like he may have already lost a bit of contact, power, and discipline from his swing. Interesting.
...San Fran took a 3 year, $48.8M gamble on the always-injured Greg Tackett. "Tornado" should be in the Hall conversation, but injuries have cost him the equivalent of 3-4 seasons. When he's healthy, he's a do-everything hitter and outfielder. He's 35, which is not good, but has played 140+ games in four of the last five seasons; so maybe he's past the worst of his pains. But then again: he's 35.
...Toronto offered us a 30-HR hitting, 4-5 WAR earning, $16M catcher named Roger Morales. Lots of HR, but a career .245 average; and subpar defense. What do they want? My #1 prospect, my #3 prospect, and three other good-to-fair prospects. GET OUT. GET OUT NOW AND NEVER CALL ME AGAIN.
...Texas adds another quality SP--two in two years now--in the also-aforementioned Francisco Pantaleon. He's signed on for $98.2M over 7 years. Nice get for the Rangers, even if it does keep him in the division (comes over from Oakland). The A's may be pretty terrible this year.
...the Dodgers add another non-reliever (what?), signing the #1 catch in the market: 2B Juan Rodriquez, for 8 years, $177M. Just 27, and with 7 years of MLB experience, J-Rod can deliver 40 HR and a .340 AVG every year. When he wants to. Now, he probably won't do that in pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium, but he'll be just fine. He doesn't walk, and doesn't have the range for second (he really should move to third, with his sub-standard movement). At least he's out of the AL, finally.
...We tried trading for Brooklyn pitcher Jose Orozco, who rates better than the guys we did acquire; but he was too pricey. Ironic then, that the 32-year-old just declared bankruptcy, as his chain of vegan BBQ restaurants failed. Hard to believe, I know.
...Cleveland lands OF Mike Blough, a former member of the Pirates dynasty from the '30s. The 35-year-old still has it, coming off a 43-HR campaign with Brooklyn. He'll make $29M over the next 3 seasons.
...the Cubs have once again said "Enough!" to another late-season collapse, as they just inked OF Walt DiDio, 34, to a 4 year deal worth $50M. DiDio has lost a bit off his swing, but can still run and field with the best of them. He's an upgrade.
...Phillies OF Steve Dyer (who?) opened his own restaurant chain, featuring ballpark food and pub grub. "No vegan BBQ here," said the 27-year-old.

...Winter Meetings started on December 10th, with a flurry of minor signings (although Philly bolstered their already-strong bullpen with two more nice-looking veteran RP) and small trades. Although one of those trades saw a 35-year-old good-not-great relief pitcher go to Tampa for three decent-looking prospects. Who knows anymore...
...Day Two of the Meetings brings trades involving two former Islanders: San Diego moved out slugging old OF John Cannon for slugging not-so-old 1B Craig Long; while the Dodgers moved IF/OF backup extraordinaire Edward Ospina to the Giants. Neither Cannon (.218) nor Ospina (.188) hit their weight last year. Also, Seattle sent legit two-way player Steve Mellon to Miami. No word on where he'll fit with the Marlins.
...SF also picked up an under-the-radar player: IF Jared Russell, late of New Orleans. He can run, is one of the best fielders out there, and hits well enough to average .285 for his career. Not much power, but a complementary player the Giants haven't had in some time.
...Miami has offered us pitcher Corey Downes in three separate deals over the last two days. Downes is a free agent this fall, doesn't have the stuff or movement I want in a starter, and is a side-armer with bad L/R splits. NO NO NO.
...Two more big signings on Day Three: San Diego keeps up with LA by adding OF Bill Duce (who last played for...LA), for $46M over 3 years. The 2035 NL MVP can still hit, but is fairly immobile in the field these days. Meanwhile, the Yankees make their first big splash by getting former Philly SS Alex Castillo, for $96M and 6 years. The seven-time Gold Glove (5 at SS, 2 at 3B) winner can hit for power and gets on base, but is at best a .260 hitter. (He's still an upgrade over Brian Martin, who hit .297 but with just 15 walks, no power, and some pretty weak defense at a major position.)
...Boston made up for losing Koval to us by signing the top SP left on the board: John Baldwin inks for $53M over 4 seasons. He's been a pretty consistent 200-K guy for his five-year career (since coming over from Japan), but at 31, he could be on the verge of losing what little movement and control he has left.
...The Sox then go and add former Isle Tim Pinksen, at the cut rate of $9.7M over two seasons. Good on ya, Tim; just don't pitch well against us, and we're okay.

...Rule 5 Draft came and went without us making a claim. We did lose a player, however, in SP Andy Nowak. He came over from Cincy in the Hisami Masuda trade, and pitched well in AA before tearing his elbow ligament. He's still out for six more months. Although he's got some promise, at 26 and coming off a major injury, I took a chance that no one would claim him. Lost that one. But he's not a system-breaker.

...We make one more move before the New Year, signing stud reliever Ramon Sanabria to a 3-year, $15.3M deal (third year is a player option). He made a splash in his rookie season of 2040, saving 50 games with Detroit and winning the AL Hoyt Wilhelm trophy. He won the World Series (against us!) with Philly in 2045, and also pitched for the Phils last year. He's 30, a righty, and coming off a 57 IP, 2.67 ERA season where he also earned 1.0 WAR. Given how Pat Stanley and Rick Ramirez struggled in the setup role last year, and that the upcoming trio of Willard/Moore/Kramer is still no guarantee, I decided it was worth shoring up the bullpen with Sanabria. The fans, however, take no notice.
...Finally, Houston adds our former 1B Sen Masuda for a 5 year, $49.9M deal. Five years! He'll hit many home runs against us, I'm sure. But with his declining contact will probably bat .220 in another year or so. And, oh, the fans certainly took notice of this. SHUT UP FANS TRUST ME.

......

Time for a nap, as we change over from 2046 to 2047. What will the new year bring us? Probably a hangover, for a start.
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Old 05-18-2019, 05:16 PM   #234
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2046-67 OFF-SEASON PART THREE

Welcome to 2047! We start things off with the annual Hall of Fame announcement. This year only one player gets in, Orioles/Blue Jays catcher Devlin Ransberger. He didn't quite reach 2000 hits during his 15-year career, but during his prime was so productive (earning 82.4 WAR) that he is probably the most offensively-gifted catcher in MLB history. He finished with 490 HR and a .280 AVG, winning two MVP titles, a Gold Glove, 8 All-Star nods, and won three World Series titles. He got 98.1% of the votes, because even in the 2040s there are "Dimaggio wasn't a first ballot guy" voters. (Even Stephen Strasburg, whose career was outrageously good, earned "only" 99.3% of the votes in his election year.) OF Kelvin Robinson (70.2) fell just short, losing a few % points from last year. Second-year-eligible catcher Tyler Markey was the only other player over fifty, at 52.7. Both of those guys should definitely get in one day.

The Veteran's Committee declined to elect anyone, although 71-year-old David Ortiz keeps showing up at the meetings...

......

More off-season thrills and spills:
...I forgot to mention that the Masuda signing by the Astros brings us a Supplemental 1st round pick. We've still got two offers pending on guys right now; I'm not real sure about either one, but with some spare change still hanging around, I thought I'd take a chance... More to come on this.
...Miami signed 1B/3B/DH Matt Anderson to a $38.4M, 3-year deal. He entered 2046 as the reigning AL batting champ, still capable of putting up big numbers, and signed a one-year deal with the Dodgers...who promptly nailed him to the bench until trading him to the Yankees in July. He's 38 but still looks good at the plate (but not in the field, yikes), and should revive a moribund offense for the Marlins. A good year should see him reach 2700 hits and 500 HR.
...the Dodgers make more non-RP news by signing former AL home run king Coby Sandu on the cheap: $8.3M over 2 years. Sandu has reached 40+ HR four times, but doesn't do much else either at the plate or on the field. He should probably DH somewhere, but maybe the Dodgers need another power bat to sit on the bench this year, a la Anderson last year.
...a lot of junky little signings happening now (early January), but Philly makes a splash by inking former Nationals closer Roger Estrada for $15.9M over 3 years. They're turning into the Dodgers of the east coast, with three big closers in the bullpen: Sam Berisford (379 saves), Tim Friddle (371), and now Estrada (175 in 5 seasons). Plus 34-year-old former Isle Jeff Tanner, who has 252 saves of his own.
...you wouldn't think a last-place team would be interested in a 36-year-old injury-prone 2B for $9M. But then you don't run the White Sox, do you. Cuban Tony Zapata, who has shown some power and average since coming to the US six years ago, is clearly in decline and maybe is not the guy who's going to put your 70-win team over the top. Prove me wrong, guys. Remember, tho, that this is the team that signed their catcher to a $37M per year deal, then next summer went and grabbed an international slugging catcher for another $15M per season.
...the Yankees upgraded big time at catcher, inking Gabe Lafferty for $51.3M over 5 years. A five-year starter in Houston, Lafferty is good for about .280 and 20+ HR per year; not an all-star, but definitely the best catcher they've had in over a decade.
...Cubs owner and billionaire capitalist David Wronski has died. Rumor has it that they have managed to rustle up another billionaire capitalist--son Matthew Wronski--to replace him. Amazing how these billionaire businessmen somehow beget billionaire sons. (But not daughters?)
...somehow the Indians have managed to flout league salary rules by signing RP Eddie Salinas to a one-year, 292K deal. As league minimum is still 500K, I guess they're getting around this by claming Salinas will make up the difference in tips.

......

Pitchers and catchers have reported! And there'll be one more addition to those guys already getting spring training started:

...HAW signs P Dave Henderson to a one-year, $3.35M deal. Henderson, 39, is not nearly the same pitcher who won four Cy Young awards (including three in a row from '34 to '36) over a 17-year career. He was looking like a potential Hall of Famer after winning his 4th trophy in 2040, but injuries have killed the latter part of his career: in only two of the last six seasons has he made over 20 starts. He's lost a lot of his stuff and control--which do remain decent--but still has wicked movement. He's a groundballer, still with three good pitches and strong stamina. If he stays healthy, I think he'll be a capable 4 or 5 starter, or long relief at worst. He probably won't stay healthy, but he's worth the risk.
...we also add the backup middle infielder I was looking for, by re-signing last year's backup-of-all-trades, John Canning. He has no power, and doesn't walk much, but is a decent contact guy and also won't strike out. Best of all, he's a whiz in the field, rating well across the infield and the outfield. He'll make $1.21M, with a team option for $1.5M for 2048. Welcome back, John!
...Philly continues to become the "Dodgers of the East" by signing four more relievers (all for at least $2M per season) over the last week.
...KC keeps acquiring former Islanders, signing our old 2B Josh Robertson for two years. Major injuries have ruined his last two seasons, but he can still hit, although he's gotten somewhat immobile in the field. He joines 1B Jeremy Dunklee, OF Andy Sanchez, RP YT Yaung, P Jayden Grant, and Original Islander(tm) RP Raleigh Vance. Quite a group.
...We're at it again, adding another pitcher. This time, it's reliever Justin Crowley, 4 years for $7.9M (he'll start at 1.6 in '47, and escalate by 300K each year, with a player option for 2050). The fans love this signing, as he's described as a "Fan Fav!" by our scouting department. Crowley has been Oakland's closer for the past five years, racking up 149 saves over the time, with an 11.5 K/9 and less than 1 HR/9. He had a bad ERA last year--4.56 in 71 IP--so we're hoping for a bounce-back this year. He's 28, with great stuff, good movement, and good-enough control. Good clubhouse guy too. He looks good enough on paper that his contract seems super-cheap. That can't be a bad sign, can it?
...Detroit signed one of last year's rotation-disappointments, Khalil Palmer, to a one-year $2.52M deal. I swear, if he wins a game 7 from us in October, I'm gonna...
...of course SF signs a power-hitting 1B named Willie. This time, it's Willie Jaramillo, with 412 HR to his credit over a 13-year career. Also: 2540 strikeouts. Sweet.
...Detroit added another fomer Islander who will probably rise up and kill us in the playoffs: OF Travis McArthur, aka "my first ever draft pick." He hit .271/17/62 with the Angels last year, and signed for a (too high) $2.64M deal. Might make a serviceable DH, but he's really not fit for the outfield anymore.
...and another long-time Islander is gone: Brooklyn inks pitcher Rob Hart to a 2-year, $13.2M deal, hoping that his horrible 2046 was just an aberration. Hey, good for him if he's got anything left, but I'd be surprised if he does. For me, the most telling stat was the twofold jump in his BB/9, while his K/9 dropped by about a third. He's lost a lot of speed and movement on his pitches...but who knows, maybe my scouts are all wrong. Our fans are mildly upset about this, but them's the breaks, kids.

......

And with that, we're into Spring Training. The things I'll be watching in March for us are, in no particular order:
...how will we hit? Dropping power hitters Masuda, Sanborn, and Davila, and more or less assigning roster spots to 3 or 4 rookies, could end up being a case of "too much, too soon."
...how will those rookies perform? Kenny Welch, Dante Padilla, Cameron Daley, Phil Lasky, Josh Frederick, Jerry Cappuccilli, and Jorge Canales will all get long looks in camp. And those are just the batters. Holdover pitchers Ben Germann, Ben Willard, Nick Kramer, and Nate Moore, as well as youngsters Shamar Jackson, Shaun Gates, Walt Thompson, and Phil Lasky (yes, him again) could all make the squad.
...new veteran pitchers: SP Joe Koval, Dennis Perry, and Dave Henderson; RP Ramon Sanabria and Justin Crowley. I want all five to be there on opening day. That's 5 out of 11 (or 12) pitchers, quite a turnover.
...new positions: Adam Groff moves from 3B to 1B; JJ Simmons from 2B to 3B. Both should be fine...but you never know.

Next up: Season and Team Preview
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Old 05-21-2019, 07:11 PM   #235
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SPRING TRAINING RECAP AND SEASON PREVIEW

We finished March 16-14, which isn't so bad except that we dropped seven of our last nine. Our biggest problem--and not just over those last nine games, tbh--was hitting. Nobody hit .300, with six opening day regulars batting below .250. We also averaged a HR every other game; that just will not cut it in today's MLB. Pitching was stout, which makes me feel a bit better. Newbie Joe Koval impressed early but slumped late, while other-newbie Dennis Perry was wicked all of spring training. The bullpen was quite good, although I was disappointed that a couple guys did not make most of their second ST opportunities (the Bens, Germann and Willard).

So while I'm not worried (we went 15-15 last spring training, and I'm pretty sure the regular season turned out okay), I am a tad concerned. Can we start hitting? Do I have too many rookies? Will we hit any home runs? Only one way to find out. Without further ado, then, here are your 2047 Hawaii Islanders:

Batters:
(position, player name and info, 2046 stats; starters in bold)

C Rob Rich, 26 LH, $4.4M thru '51, .306/.343/.393 1.8 WAR. Batted .300, but his power numbers and WAR dropped noticeably. Solid fielder, good with the pitching staff too. My owner always wants me to upgrade here, but Rich is affordable and hits well enough to more than earn his keep. Doesn't hit lefties, so platoons with...

C Dave McCollum, 26 RH, 750K thru '47 (arb), .263/.310/.438 1.1 WAR. Team captain, and the starter against LHP. Just so-so in the field, but hit with more power than Rich, and was generally better than his .263 average says. Only walked 8 times in 224 AB however. I keep getting trade offers for him, which must mean something.

1B Adam Groff, 33 LH, $37.5M thru '53, .361/.429/.630 36 HR 112 RBI 8.4 WAR, AL MVP and batting champ. Moving across the infield for '47, thanks largely to his increasing immobility at third. Has just 2 career starts at first, but played well in the spring. Career leader in most every Islander offensive stat, and should reach 2000 career hits this year.

DH/1B Jonathan Klump, 26 LH, $825K thru '47 (arb), .252/.320/.420 13 HR 0.3 WAR. Slumped badly from his .306/26/90 line in '45; getting injured for a couple months didn't help. Is okay in the field, but will only get emergency starts at first this year. Not terrible against lefties, but will probably get platooned with the right-handed Padilla. Extremely popular locally.

2B Manny Rangel, 26 RH, $900K thru '47 (arb), .279/.352/.422 1.7 WAR in 244 AB. Made 57 starts last year thanks to injuries to Simmons and Stoneback, and looked pretty good. So here he is, having 2B handed to him. Doesn't have great ratings in any single offensive category, but is good across the board. Very solid defensively, with the usual weak arm that makes a second baseman.

IF John Canning, 30 RH, $1.21M thru '48, .302/.323/.490 0.4 WAR in 96 AB. I let him go UFA after last season, then took a look at all the backup-type middle infielders who could play all three 'skill' positions and also hit at least a little. He was the only candidate. Best attributes are a rocket arm, a good eye, and a great attitude.

3B/1B/DH Dante Padilla, 23 RH, $500K thru '47, .400 4 HR 8 RBI in 30 AB (.330 20 HR 58 RBI in 273 AAA at bats). Still developing, and my scouts say his power stroke looks elite. Won't strike out, has a good eye, and should develop into a .270+ hitter. Chief drawback is a tin glove, but otherwise he's decent in the field. He'll get looks at DH against LHP, and spell Simmons at third and Groff at first.

3B J.J. Simmons, 24 RH, $8.0M thru '56, .318/.401/.417 72 RBI 27 SB 29/70 K/BB ratio. The '44 ROY and AL batting champ, he's settled into a .310ish hitter these last two seasons. Also has zero HR over that time. Great fielder, excellent on the bases, and solid contact and bat control. Should be an excellent leadoff hitter, but averages about 50 points lower there than he does when batting 7th or 8th.

SS Rich Stoneback, 29 RH, $16.5M thru '55, .294/.372/.471 19 HR 77 RBI 4.8 WAR, Gold Glove. Came back to earth from his 42 HR and 8.7 WAR '45 season. Since he seems to turn it on every other year, I expect he'll be fine again this season. Injuries limited him to 113 starts; we'll need him to stay healthy, for sure.

LF Kenny Welch, 24 RH, $500K thru '47, .333 2 HR in 45 AB (.322 23 HR 84 RBI at AAA). Will likely platoon with Daley, and may get moved to RF occasionally thanks to his booming arm. Not a runner, on the bases and in the field. Has hit a lot of HR in AAA for two seasons, and needs to do the same for us this year. I want to see at least 20 dingers from Welch. Good L/R splits, so should be able to handle full-time duty too.

OF Cameron Daley, 23 RH, $500K thru '47, .345 14 HR 58 RBI 23 SB in AAA (2-for-5 with Hawaii in September). Still growing, and could easily start given his current ratings. Hits for contact and gap power, could develop 15-20 HR power, doesn't strike out, and can run. Range and arm just okay, but glove is excellent.

CF Jim Klein, 27 RH, $4.2M thru '51, .312/.359/.415 70 RBI 24 SB 3.1 WAR. Mr. Dependable, just shows up and goes to work. Had 205 hits last year, made 156 starts. Doesn't hit for power (tho did hit 8 HR), but is good for 40 doubles and enough walks to be our leadoff guy. Not a gold glove candidate, but range and arm are more than adequate.

OF/P Phil Lasky, 25 LH, $500K thru '47, .307 9 HR and 27 GS 14-5 W-L 147 IP 4.66 ERA in AAA. Solid-looking two-way guy, whom I've decided to put in the OF while letting him get some mop up duty in the bullpen. He wants to be in the starting rotation, but I think he's just a shade below what I want there; is a solid fielder, and his bat makes him a near-starter in the field. Is good enough--but not excellent--so that I'm still not quite sure where he'll wind up eventually.

RF Joseph Hart, 27 LH, $7.5M thru '47, .255/.351/.433 17 HR 1.9 WAR. Offensive numbers have dropped over the last two seasons. Almost got traded this winter, but his defense and OBP kept him around. Might get platooned a bit against LHP, especially if his hitting doesn't pick up early on. Capable of 20+ HR power, but hasn't delivered that since '44.

......

Pitchers:

SP Eric Jones, 30 LH, $11.0M thru '48, 19-3 3.28 225 IP 130 K 4.2 WAR. Every year I get on his case because on paper he doesn't look like much: a low-stuff junkballer who fans just 5 per 9 IP and struggles some nearly every other year (uh oh). But he keeps showing up and doing his job, and really saved our rotation last year. Needs to keep the ball down to be successful, and gave up just 16 HR in '46. Won't ever show up on any "best of" lists, but I have a feeling I'll miss his quiet efficiency when he's gone. Will be the opening day starter, as a reward for last season.

SP Ryan Ratliff, 26 RH, $2.31M thru '47 (arb), 14-5 3.52 179 IP 169 K 2.9 WAR. Went from a bottom-end starter to our clear #2 guy by the end of the season. Listed as a power pitcher, but doesn't overwhelm, fanning just 8.5 per 9. Has become quite popular locally, and with a good '47 will earn a nice payday.

SP Joe Koval, 30 RH, $13.8M thru '49, 11-6 3.78 157 IP 141 K 4.5 WAR (with BOS). Traded a couple of good young hitters for him, in an effort to rebuild our rotation. Has been healthy for the most part, but did miss a few weeks last year. Groundballer, with four sharp pitches and excellent control. I hope all that, plus our quality infield, will equal some good numbers for him. It better.

SP Dennis Perry, 25 RH, $500K thru '47 (arb), 20 GP 4.13 28 IP 31 K (with NYM). Off-season acquisition, getting his first look as a big league starter. Struggled with control during his brief 20-inning debut with the Mets, but should be better than his 20 walks showed. Keeps the ball down in the dirt, which I love. He's unhappy right now, for some reason; but he's Canadian, so I'm not worried about him.

SP Shamar Jackson, 24 RH, $500K thru '47, 11 GS 6-3 5.23 74 IP 67 K (9-4 in 19 GS 3.48 2.6 WAR in AAA). Was on-again off-again in camp--just like he was during his late-season call up last year. Knuckleballer; if he gets a handle on his control, should easily hold onto the #5 slot. Has two other good pitches, so he's got some adaptability.

CL Dan Brown, 26 RH, $8.4M thru '47, 71 GP 39 SV 75 IP 87 K -0.2 WAR. The 2045 Hoyt Wilhelm trophy winner struggled at times last year, but gets one more season to prove that award was no fluke. Has all the hallmarks of a proper closer, and keeps the ball down. Still, he was flaky enough last year to yield 16 HR, which is just not good. He'll get pushed by our two new acquisitions, as well as the fact that his high salary demands don't sit all that well with me.

SU Ramon Sanabria, 31 RH, $5.0M thru '49, 59 GP 2.67 57 IP 59 K 1.0 WAR (with PHI). The 2040 AL Wilhelm winner with Detroit, he's spent the last two seasons in the NL. Looks very similar to Brown, and will get a quick bump up to closer if Danny Boy falters. Plus, he's signed at a good value for the next three seasons.

SU Rick Ramirez, 27 RH, $3.4M thru '47 (arb), 51 GP 4.37 70 IP 87 K 1.1 WAR. This guy has "premier closer" written all over him, and yet he can't hold down the job. Had 20 saves in '45, starting the year as closer, but blew up enough to lose the job to Brown. Struggled during his month or so in the spot last year, too. He's up for arbitration again this fall, so this will be a big year for him, as regards his future with Hawaii.

MR Nick Kramer, 24 RH, $500K thru '47, 48 GP 9 SV 2.05 53 IP 64 K in AAA (9.00 ERA in 3 IP with Hawaii). Was good during a brief call-up in '45, and was terrible last year. Third time lucky? Excellent fastball, and should be a regular for years; but needs to not walk 6 in 3 IP like he did last season.

MR Nate Moore, 24 LH, $500K thru '47 (arb), 30 GP 6.03 34 IP 31 K (3.57 6 SV in 15 GP at AAA). Like Kramer, really struggled with control during his time in Hawaii last year (plus gave up 6 HR). Had a 30-to-4 K/BB ratio in 30 IP for us in '45; that's the Nate Moore I want to see. Well, duh.

MR Pat Stanley, 33 LH, $3.1M thru '47, 43 GP 4.78 87 IP 83 K 1.1 WAR. Blossomed into a stud MR for a few years, then regressed hard last season. Regularly pitches 90-100 IP every year too. Extreme groundballer, but gave up 11 HR last year, contributing to his struggles. Frankly, is looking at his last season in an Islander uniform, unless he does something special.

LR Dave Henderson, 39 RH, $3.35M thru '47, 2 starts, 13 IP 17 K (with PHI). Got injured early, missed almost the entire season last year. For now, will get the long inning mop up duty from the pen, but will get pushed into the rotation if anyone struggles or gets hurt. Four-time Cy Young winner, is nowhere near that guy anymore; but still looks competent.

Also: Phil Lasky: backup OF will get some spot MR/LR duty as needed.

Injured list: 2B J.R. Thompson (AAA filler, out for a month); MR/SU Justin Crowley (free agent from OAK; excellent former closer who had a bad '46; fans 11-12 per 9 IP; out for 2-3 months sadly)

Next men up: SP Shaun Gates and Ben Germann; RP Ben Willard, Walt Thompson, and Jose Esquivel; 2B Jorge Canales; OF Josh Frederick and Jerry Cappuccilli

......

Around the league, the Mets, Reds, and Royals won 21 games; Oakland brought up the rear with just 10 wins. Padres 3B Greg Arcand drove in 26 runs, nearly matching the 36 he had all of last season. Our own RP Rick Ramirez led everyone with 33 K, and Cincy superstar Jose Tavares looks primed for another big year after batting .400 with 7 HR. On the bad news front, Milwaukee and Cincy--both looking to repeat their division titles from last year--each lost their ace starter for the season (Robbie Collier and Juan Valdez, respectively. Plus, Milwaukee #2 Jay Russo is also done for the year.). Detroit's top two relievers are done for 2047, and Brooklyn has five MLB-quality pitchers out for between five weeks and eight months.

MLB has called the Chicago Cubs the "off-season winners" after they added 10.6 WAR to their roster. Adding an SP, 3B, CF, and two quality RP, while losing just SP John Baldwin looks good to me too. Houston is next at +8.7 WAR, probably for the first time ever. They lost no one of significance, and added a 1B (our own Sen Masuda), backup C, and four good pitchers. Nice haul. At the opposite end, the Mets lost 10.8 WAR, and that includes adding nearly 8 WAR of new blood. They said goodbye to their C, 2B, 3B, LF, 2 SP, and a host of backups. We ranked 29th, dropping 5.2 WAR. Although I'd argue that we'll add more than that in rookie talent. Take that, MLB.

......

BNN season predictions are out, and I think they're just nuts. We're picked to win 109 games, for one. I just do not see that. They say we'll have the best offense (although 17th-ranked HR, which I predict too), and the best pitching--by far--in the AL. In fact, they say our pitching could be top five in MLB, which is unheard of for an AL team. Do I think we'll have a top-flight staff, if we stay healthy? Yes. Will we be one of the best in baseball? Probably not. But I'll take #1 in the AL, any day. BNN picks Groff and Stoneback to have big seasons, but didn't feature anyone else, batter or pitcher, so all the others are a mystery.

Elsewhere, division winners look to be: AL, Tampa Bay, Kansas City, and Hawaii. NL are Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles. LA's offense looks to be greatly helped by their two solid free agent additions, 1B Vinny Vargas and 2B Juan Rodriquez. Several long-term losers look to have seasons that could see them playing into October: Washington, San Francisco, Miami, and Toronto. Milwaukee, Seattle, and Cincy look to drop at least ten games off of last year's records, while Montreal, Boston, and Austin are picked to be the bottom of the barrel. And take heart, Cubs fans: your lovable losers are picked to be the cream of the NL Central, although still lagging behind the elite Phillies and Dodgers. Based on predicted records, in fact, the League Championships figure to be KC vs HAW and PHI vs LAD. Wouldn't shock me in the least. As long as we don't face Detroit.

One more thing: prospect system rankings. The White Sox take the top spot, and have the unusual honor of also having the top three prospects in the game. Two are excellent-looking starting pitchers (Burton Dick and Ben O'Neal) and the other is OF Andy Barenberg. Next in line are Brooklyn, the Cubs, Minnesota, Texas, and then us in sixth place. Four of our top nine will start in the bigs (and three others are in AAA), so we may not be in the top ten for much longer. The one new addition to the list--at #3--is 16-year-old 1B Jules Medici, an Italian ranked #70 overall. He's got lots of time for his potential to come back to earth, but right now he's got hitting ceilings to die for.

Next up: PLAY BALL!
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Old 05-22-2019, 03:00 PM   #236
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The youth movement begins... good stuff, man. One of my faves.
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Old 05-23-2019, 03:57 PM   #237
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pauwoo View Post
The youth movement begins... good stuff, man. One of my faves.
All those young guys plus three 30+ pitchers (one is 39!). Feels like it all balances out...

......

2047 SEASON OPENER

Here we go again. 2047 will be our 14th season in MLB, and we'll be looking for our 11th division title and our 4th championship. If we match MLB's prediction of 109 wins, that will be our 2nd best season all-time: the 2044 champs won 114, with attendance topping 4 million. Not too shabby, eh? You'd think that with all our success, the fans would be busting down the doors; and yet, our Fan Interest meter is at 89, and we failed to meet our goal of 21,000 season tickets (reaching 19,918 by opening day). Anyway, here is our projected regular lineup, with platoons indicated:

CF Jim Klein
SS Rich Stoneback
1B Adam Groff
DH Jonathan Klump (vs LHP: Dante Padilla)
RF Joseph Hart
LF Kenny Welch (vs LHP: Cameron Daley)
2B Manny Rangel
3B J.J. Simmons
C Rob Rich (vs LHP: Dave McCollum)

I should also note that MLB has bumped up big league rosters to 26 players. That has allowed me to keep Phil Lasky with the big club, as he'll be a backup outfielder and will also get some innings in the bullpen. As I said above, this is our 14th season; for next year, we'll probably roll out some new unis and a new logo, just for kicks.

......

April 1-3 vs CLEVELAND
Winners of 75 games last year, they've made just four playoff appearances in this dynasty, all within the last 11 seasons. They didn't add much this off-season, and figure to have just an outside chance of contending. Leadoff hitter DJ Grace, at 24, is an excellent 2B and team captain. The middle of the lineup--newbie Mike Blough, and holdovers David Van Eschen and Eddie Hummel--could each hit 40 HR, seriously. After that, it drops off. DH Sean Kropp is also the #5 starting pitcher, and batted just .215 last year; CF Pat Daniels has power but nothing else; 3B Jon Robertson is an average-looking rookie; and C Austin Collins (former Isle) is 37 and over the hill. The rotation looks just okay, although former ace Zach Gioeli looks cooked at just 29. Closer Tim Stoner isn't scary, and setup man Bryan Altier was a starter last year and is NOT happy about his current move. The bullpen has some depth to it, however. The prospects rank #22, although there are some nice-looking hitters at the top; but they're all at least a couple years away. GM is Geison Aguasviva, and manager is Jose Ariza; both are in their 7th seasons. Gotta hope one day we see more of pitching coach F­rat Rahim, tho. Budget and payroll are 33rd, and fan interest is at 55 (although attendance is predicted to rise by 28%).

HAW pitchers: LH Eric Jones (19-3, 3.28) / RH Ryan Ratliff (14-5, 3.52) / RH Joe Koval (11-6, 3.78)
CLE pitchers: LH Roberto Maldonado (7-12, 4.58) / LH Zach Gioeli (14-14, 4.63) / LH Matt Grigg (11-11, 4.03)

#1: WIN 7-5 ... Blough gets his 2000th hit, but we come back from a 5-0 deficit...Jones struggles, but the pen comes through...Groff hurt already, because why not
#2: WIN 9-4 ... outhit again, we somehow turn 7 hits into 9 runs...Klein triples and homers for 7 RBI...we only draw 31K to this one--what the hell?!?
#3: WIN 7-1 ... four HR for the good guys, and 7.2 IP in Koval's debut...35K attend this one, the fickle jerks

We get outhit twice, but still manage a sweep. Nine walks in that second game helped some.... Bullpen weirdness: two LR and Pat Stanley have been used, as well as closer Brown getting a save. But our four other top RP were kept nailed to the bench for the series.... Groff's injury is minimal, but is for two weeks. I'll probably spell him occasionally, although I'm sorely tempted not to.... Now we get a day off, because we're exhausted after [checks notes] just three games.... ELSEWHERE: Boston's Andrew Taylor entered the season with a 27-game hitting streak; after opening day, however, he is now on a zero-game hitting streak.... I love stats after the opening series: like Seattle's Luis Cantu leading everyone with a perfectly sustainable 2.102 OPS, and Austin slugger Roberto Miranda batting .750.... And one-time Islander pitching prospect Angelo Partida has retired, after attempting yet another rehab stint. He made 25 starts over three seasons ('35 thru '37) for us, and looked like a sure-thing mid-rotation guy, but just couldn't stay healthy. We traded him to STL in the ill-considered Ken Clark trade (OY!), and injuries continued to plague him. He pitched parts of seven more seasons, with five teams, but only once threw even close to 100 innings, making just 13 starts over that span. I hear he's going to have his arm amputated at the neck. Maybe he can get a robot replacement.


April 5-7 vs MINNESOTA
More Central Division fun, this time against the Twins, another team that looks like a middling bunch. What an odd lineup: their contact hitters have no power, and their power hitters have no contact. The one exception is Brendan Glenn, a two-time MVP with the Pirates, who is 34 and could have 500 career HR if he could've just stayed healthy. Anyway, they rebuilt the top end of the lineup by adding Max Mangini, a .250 hitter who likes to walk; Kyle Crowl, a former Hawaii-reject who looks about done; and cleanup hitter Jake Laufer, a career .215 batter. I do like their rotation, although at 36, #2 guy Scott Kopetsky is getting by on spit and guile. Closer Rogelio Ramirez comes over from Cleveland, but is unproven in the role. Prospects rank 4th, and there is no reason why #5-in-MLB guy Josh Jacobson isn't batting cleanup RIGHT NOW, other than rank stupidity or cupidity. GM is Richie Lentz, who's been in the chair since 2029; manager is Ruben Vasquez, now in his 6th year. Budget ranks 8th, payroll 15th; fan interest is at 88, although attendance looks to fall a bit this year.

HAW pitchers: RH Dennis Perry (0-0, 4.13) / RH Shamar Jackson (6-3, 5.23) / LH Eric Jones (2047: 0-0, 9.00)
MIN pitchers: RH Lawrence Teklu (6-5, 4.22) / LH Manny Casillas (12-15, 5.16) / LH Jonathan Esparza (13-11, 4.80)

#4: WIN 10-6 ... four more HR come from nowhere, with Welch hitting two...Perry is not good, but Lasky goes again (!), fanning six in 3.2 IP for the win
#5: WIN 14-1 ... 3rd HR for Groff, and 2 hits each for Padilla, Rangel, and Simmons...Jackson fans 11 over 8.2 IP, getting lifted for that crucial final out in the ninth
#6: WIN 10-1 ... 3 hits and a 2-run HR for Hart, and two more hits for Groff, now at .684...the old Eric Jones shows up, tossing a complete game but with zero strikeouts

Well what can I say? Suddenly the bats come alive, the pitching shows up, and this after I said nice things about the Twins pitching staff.... Notice that five of our six games have been against LH pitching; we'll see two righties next series.... Some bad news: our #2 SP prospect, Jonathan Ashton (with A ball Eureka), was in the 6th inning of what would be a shutout win when he left the game with a sore elbow. Sadly, he'll need surgery to remove bone chips and will miss the rest of the season. He's just 19, so he's not up against the aging curve; but he'd been progressing pretty quickly, and this will definitely be a setback. How much of one is yet to be determined, of course.... ELSEWHERE: What is the first thing you expect to see four games into a season? Why, clubhouse fights, of course. Houston lost three straight, which was just ONE TOO MANY for pitcher Joe Jones, who went off at teammate Doug Apostolidis. "When we lose, it's his fault," said the entirely-rational-sounding pitcher. And Jones, of course, knows about losing, having personally dropped 21 games for the perennial sad sack Diamondbacks in '44. Manager Dylan Barrow, showing some great parenting skills, said only "Boys will be boys.".... Washington has won four in a row, giving up 0, 1, 0, and 0 runs. Maybe they're finally good?.... Detroit is also 6-0, and no one (womp womp) is winless.


April 8-10 vs MILWAUKEE
Last year's division champs are predicted to fall hard by MLB this year. But they're holding tight at 3-3 so far. Four players are already on the DL, including their #1 and #2 SP. This team bashed tons of HR last year, but has only 2 this year. And, like last year, they're scoring runs (6th) while not hitting well (13th). Despite the injuries, pitching ranks 3rd in runs, with new additions Marcus Richardson and Luis Munoz off to solid starts. Closer Hyun-ook Kara won the '46 Hoy Wilhelm award for some stupid reason (17 saves? 1.7 WAR? Dunno.), and is 1-for-1 in save opps this year. New regulars 3B Bill Callahan and 1B John Lessman don't add much hitting to the lineup, and while newbie 2B Sean Young does, he's more of a defense-first singles hitter. Prospects rank 8th, with #4 Oscar Espinosa a can't-miss slugger, and SP Ryan Shaheen cranky that he's not on the big club already. GM is young (35) Rich Vincent, in his 2nd season; manager Seon-gwon Che is also in his 2nd, and won AL Manager of the Year last season, which was just wrong. Budget and payroll rank 7th, and fan interest is a healthy 93. Despite that, attendance estimates are down about 2K per game, although revenue looks to be higher.

HAW pitchers: RH Ryan Ratliff (1-0, 2.57) / RH Joe Koval (1-0, 1.17) / RH Dennis Perry (0-0, 10.38)
MIL pitchers: LH Jim Gilbert (0-1, 6.43) / RH Marcus Richardson (1-0, 2.57) / RH Luis Munoz (1-0, 1.29)

#7: WIN 10-5 ... our 4th straight game in double figures...3 hits each for Groff and McCollum, and 4 RBI for Padilla...Ratliff goes 7 for the win
#8: WIN 6-1 ... Koval is gold, fanning 10 and yielding just 2 hits over 8 IP...Groff gets 2 more hits then sprains his knee, is dtd, will sit tomorrow
#9: LOSS 4-5 ... awww, dang...we score 4 in the 9th, but can't complete the comeback...3 hits for Rangel, and a 3-run HR for Stoneback...Perry is bad again

Well, shoot, I guess it had to end sometime.... Klein has scored a run in all nine games.... Groff hurts his knee, and while it's just a 4-day dtd injury, he'll sit some to get it healed up properly.... Two relievers have still not pitched, and two others have combined for 1.1 innings. Sigh.... SP Dennis Perry is really fighting it, after tearing it up in spring training.... OF Kenny Welch also gets hurt, diagnosis pending.... ELSEWHERE: Detroit is mirroring us at 8-1, while the Mets are trailing everyone at 2-7. They've lost six in a row.... STL closer Frank Casper has saved all five Cards wins; ditto for Richmond closer Jay Debus (4 wins = 4 saves).... HAW Adam Groff and CIN Jose Tavares took home the first player of the week awards.

......

TL;DR Version: Can't complain at all about an 8-1 start. Now if we can only keep this train rolling. We have scored 77 runs while giving up just 29. Some minor grievances, tho: SP Dennis Perry is ice cold, and manager Matt Sargent must be saving our better RP for mid-summer, seeing as two of our top four guys haven't even thrown a ball yet. Next we're off on a ten-game road trip, where we'll see division rivals Oakland and Houston, then to Kansas City. We'll finish the month with home series against Detroit and Chicago, then start another road trip against Seattle. Onward!
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Old 05-25-2019, 04:25 PM   #238
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April 11-14 @ OAKLAND
Off to a 5-3 start, 4th in runs for and 8th in runs against. The bullpen is struggling, tho, thanks in no small part to the season-ending injury to closer Bill Brunson in the spring. They did sign a bunch of free agents this winter, most of whom won't move the needle much. Catcher Peanuts Carter is hopeless behind the plate these days, but can still hit; DH Andrew Hale, however, has earned 3 WAR over his six year career, and isn't likely to break out by now. SP Greg Langworthy and Luis Otero, tho, are decent additions to the rotation, and are good second-tier guys behind Mike Wiater and Jim Schwartz. They also added former Isle RP Jin-song Yee, who's 39 now and looks to have lost a lot of his oomph over the winter. Prospects rank just 27th, and my favorite is probably Miguel "Not Tejada" Tejeda, who's 19 and should be batting cleanup in the bigs in another year or so. But put him at DH, as he's got no skills in the field at all. GM is Chris Bolger, in his 6th season; manager Robert Woodard has been here since 2032, making the playoffs seven times and earning manager of the year in 2044. Budget is 13th, while payroll is just 25th. Fan interest is at 89, and they figure to slightly outdraw last season. They've got a lot of money for free agents available, and really should be a bigger player than they have been lately.

HAW pitchers: RH Shamar Jackson (1-0, 1.04) / LH Eric Jones (1-0, 3.86) / RH Ryan Ratliff (2-0, 3.86) / RH Joe Koval (2-0, 1.15)
OAK pitchers: LH Luis Otero (1-0, 0.00) / LH Miguel Valencia (1-0, 1.13) / RH Mike Wiater (2-0, 2.40) / RH Jim Schwartz (0-1, 13.50)

#10: WIN 11-2 ... Stoneback and Daley get RBI in the 1st, and we score early and late to win in a breeze...complete game 7-hitter for Jackson
#11: LOSS 4-5 ... we almost come back from a 5-0 deficit, but the game gets called in the 6th due to soggy, worried A's fans...Jones struggles, hasn't gotten on track yet
#12: LOSS 2-3 ... just 5 hits, although 3 are doubles...6 good innings for Ratliff, but he's outpitched by Wiater...Klump (0-for-3) now batting .083
#13: WIN 6-3 ... 4 hits and runs for Groff, and a 2-run double for Daley...7 innings for Koval, fans 7

Our first failed series! Ok, not really, but now that the high of the winning streak is over, it's time to get serious.... Groff is now healthy, but Kenny Welch sprains his ankle and will be out for two weeks. He hasn't played as much as he might, since we've faced so many LHP, but he's gone 4-for-8 with 3 HR. Pretty good ratio. We call up Josh Frederick for his first taste of MLB, and move Cameron Daley into full-time LF duty for now.... ELSEWHERE: Detroit (with Hawaii) tops everyone at 10-3, with Philly at 9-4. The Mets are 3-10, and the Twins 2-9.... STL starter Tim Ost hasn't given up a run in his two starts.... Washington has 8 wins on the season, 5 of them have been shutouts.


April 15-17 @ HOUSTON
Struggling so far, at 5-7, and 13th in runs while 15th in pitching, for a -17 run differential. They've only hit 5 HR this season, with the 3-6 hitters having hit just one. New 1B--and former Isle--Sen Masuda is batting just .200 with no HR; their two new SP, Brett McGee and Joe Jones, are 0-4, although at least McGee isn't (yet) on track to give up 50 HR, like he did last year. Prospects rank 24th, although 19-year-old 1B Jose Renteria looks like a future HR king. GM David Nelson--from Hawaii!--is in his third year, and hasn't done much, really; likewise, manager Dylan Barrow is in year #3, and already has an unhappy clubhouse (with one fight already on the books). Budget is small, 35th, with payroll at 33rd. Their market is huge, but fan loyalty is 'pathetic' and interest is at 46. They draw 23K per game, not great but 20% better than last season.

HAW pitchers: RH Dennis Perry (0-1, 10.00) / RH Shamar Jackson (2-0, 1.53) / LH Eric Jones (1-1, 4.74)
HOU pitchers: RH Dustin Springer (0-0, 5.40) / LH Brett McGee (0-2, 6.23) / LH Joe Jones (0-2, 6.59)

#14: LOSS 2-4 ... Perry is better but we can't score for him...worse: Groff gets hurt again, this time seriously, for 4-5 weeks
#15: WIN 4-3 ... we rack up 14 hits, with six guys getting 2 hits each...Jackson: 8 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 7 K, 1 BB
#16: LOSS 6-7 ... Jones still can't get anyone out, and Stanley blows up in relief, losing it in the 9th...Frederick gets 2 doubles, 2 RBI in his debut

Ick. Yeah, we're still just 16 games into the season, but losing two to a struggling team--in our division, no less--is always no good.... Groff's loss hurts, as he was hitting .531. He'll miss just over a month. We call up IF Cam Mitchell, who's fairly useless, actually.... Three-fifths of the rotation is throwing well, but Jones and Perry aren't. Perry was good in his last start, at least.... ELSEWHERE: Philly is now tops, at 12-4, with Hawaii and Detroit at 11-5.... Detroit's Luis Acevedo is the first to ten HR.... Miami's Antonio Amezcua has won his three starts, with a 0.37 ERA.... Jordan Cruz Update: The Strikeout King has been on a AAA rehab stint, where he's gone 2-for-14 with 6 K. I look forward to having him back in the bigs soon.


April 19-21 @ KANSAS CITY
At 7-7 and getting their usual solid pitching (5th) and defense (3rd), but subpar hitting (11th). They are 5th with 21 HR however. Somehow I missd that they signed catcher Adam Behling as a UFA last year: he's not an all-time great, but is a solid hitter who suffered for 8 years with awful Giants teams. I sniffed around him a few years back but SF wanted a top player and a top prospect for him. KC got him for $24M. This year, they've added SP Phil Eckert, who is probably underrated (and cheap, at $850K) as their #4 in a solid rotation. I'm less sure about (former--and original--Isle) Raleigh Vance as closer, since he hasn't been good in over five years. Prospects rank a lowly 34th, with a 16-year-old SS ranked first. Yes, he looks good, but those kids have a way of disappearing fast... GM Pete Ciofrone is in his third year, while manager Andy Raaff is beginning his fourth. Budget is 16th, and payroll is 8th. Despite that disparity, the fans are all over this team (interest = 100) and they've got tons of cash in the bank.

HAW pitchers: RH Ryan Ratliff (2-1, 4.05) / RH Joe Koval (3-0, 1.19) / RH Dennis Perry (0-2, 7.31)
KCR pitchers: LH Chris Larimer (2-1 3.38) / RH Gabe Delfin (debut) / RH Ron Curtis (2-1, 3.10)

#17: LOSS 2-4 ... uuuuggh...only five hits tonight, and now we're 3-6 since our undefeated start...Ratliff is subpar, but our hitting just did us in
#18: WIN 4-3 ... Koval does just enough through 7, and we win with 2 runs in the 9th...Lasky fills in for an injured Klein and goes 3-for-4
#19: WIN 6-4 ... up 5-0, with give up 4 in the 8th, but add one in the final frame to clinch it...2 doubles and 3 RBI for Rich...Perry goes 3 innings, gets hurt

Nice cap to the series, managing to keep some momentum after stumbling for a couple of series.... Injuries are starting to pile up, tho: Klein gets a 2-week dtd injury diving for a ball, but he can still play. Now, Perry has a diagnosis pending; he threw 3 shutout innings before leaving that last game.... MR Ramon Sanabria still has yet to pitch an inning. What the hell.... ELSEWHERE: Six straight wins for Pittsburgh, moving them to the top of the NL Central. But a 1-9 stretch for Brooklyn has them near the bottom of the NL East, just above the 6-14 Mets.... Steals are up across both leagues this year; in the NL, Walt DiDio (CHC) and Jose Mendoza (MTL) lead with 10 swipes already. Mendoza led the NL with 32 last season.... White Sox starter Joe Ingram is a strange pitcher. To wit: in 26 IP, he's given up 8 HR, meaning he's on pace for an outrageous 72 this season. But he also has 43 strikeouts versus just 2 walks. His ratings? On a 20 scale: 26/3/17. Not kidding.


April 23-25 vs DETROIT
A battle of twins--no, not the Twins--as both teams are 13-6. The Tigers are 3rd in runs and--duh--1st in home runs. They're also 2nd in runs against, which is a big step up from recent years. LF Luis Acevedo already has 10 HR, while 3B Sean West has 8. Even the guys who aren't hitting for average are hitting home runs. Is something in the water? Is it the pizza pizza? On the mound, ace Raul Bravo has been joined by newbies Jimmy Porreca and Khalil Palmer (remember him?), while Jeffrey Foley has been splendid in his three starts, showing what may--finally, given his ratings--be elite form. Closer Alex Castaneda is done for the year, but the rest of the pen has stepped up so far. They also signed lifetime OF (and former Islander biggie) Travis McArthur this off-season, with the hopes of turning the 34-year-old into their new third baseman. As a pile of cinderblocks would make a better fielder, it's probably for the best that he's hurt for the next three months. Prospects rank 19th, with SP Ian Cochran and CF Luis Rodela looking like sure-fire regulars, probably by next year. GM Jin-woo Lim is in his 14th year, fourth with the Tigers (previously was in Pittsburgh). Ethan Larrison is the 2nd year manager, and has managed to make a winning clubhouse dislike him. Budget and payroll rank 3rd, and their fan numbers are maxed out. This is what a successful franchise looks like, folks.

HAW pitchers: RH Shamar Jackson (3-0, 1.75) / LH Eric Jones (1-1, 5.25) / RH Ryan Ratliff (2-2, 4.44)
DET pitchers: RH Raul Bravo (2-1, 4.74) / RH Jimmy Porreca (1-0, 9.00) / RH Mike Cote (3-0, 2.78)

#20: LOSS 1-7 ... outhit them 11-8 tho...3 hits for Lasky, 2 for Simmons, but meh...only 37K came out today, unless 12K showed up dressed as empty seats
#21: LOSS 5-6 ... Jones gives up 5 runs, but 4 are unearned thanks to 3 errors...we outhit them again, which yeah sure means nothing, I know
#22: WIN 7-1 ... salvage! Some lineup tweaks make me look genius, even if other guys actually won the game...3-run HR for Stoneback and Klump make the difference

At least we managed one win here. We're now 14-8, with Texas just 2 games back, and even bottom-dwelling LA is only 3.5 out.... Dennis Perry has a 'dead arm,' which is being voodoo-ed back to life as I write this. He won't miss a start.... Ramon Sanabria watch: still hasn't pitched an inning. Is he actually in the bullpen? If I go down there will I find he's just a straw man wearing a uniform? "Yeah, Ramon needed some personal time and we didn't think you'd notice".... ELSEWHERE: Philly leads everyone at 16-6, but pay attention to Washington. They're just 12-9, but if they could hit they'd be dangerous. They're pitchers are tossing a shutout every series right now.... Philly George Livezey is the first in the NL to crack the 10 HR mark; he has some of the best ratings this side of Babe Ruth, but has the work ethic of a dead man. Plus, he's never played more than 90 games, either b/c of injuries or general slackness.... Remember Milwaukee making the World Series last year? I do. I also remember that they're currently 7-15, worst in baseball.


April 26-28 vs CHICAGO WHITE SOX
These guys were among the cream of the AL in the '20s. Unfortunately, the calendar flipped, and 2030 was the last time they sniffed a) 90 wins, and b) the post-season. Possessing decent pitching (7th in runs, and including the above-mentioned Joe Ingram), but also burdened with the AL's worst offense, the Sox are like half a team. Table-setters Chris Rock and Justin Haynes are each batting .280 and getting on base, but the power guys in the middle are not hitting at all. Plus, regular cleanup man Dan Starr is on the shelf for another 3 weeks. They have a veteran staff which has seen better days, but is currently holding its own, for the most part (with Ingram coming off a 12-K shutout). Closer Luis Andino should be a Wilhelm trophy winner one of these days too. Prospects rank #1, although the pitchers are developing very slowly. Future ace Ben O'Neal is 23 and in R ball; future #2 SP Burton Dick, 22 and in A. But the OF trio of Andy Barenburg (MLB), Ezequiel de la Rosa (A), and Mike Embry (A) will all be legit regulars. Even #6 guy P Duncan Stark looks like a #1/#2 guy one day. Brian Davidson--who only retired from playing in '39--is the 3rd-year GM, and manager Taylor Black is in his 2nd. Budget and payroll are 23rd. Fan interest (58) isn't there yet, but attendance is slowly creeping up, and this could be a forceful team in, say three years.

HAW pitchers: RH Joe Koval (3-0, 1.82) / RH Dennis Perry (0-2, 6.16) / RH Shamar Jackson (3-1, 2.83)
CHW pitchers: RH Pedro Cabrera (0-2, 10.93) / RH Chris Wead (1-2, 5.85) / RH Jake Davidson (2-2, 0.84)

#23: LOSS 0-1 ... yes yes yes, we keep outhitting opponents, but what of it?...Koval gives up a 1st inning HR and just three other hits
#24: WIN 3-2 ... HR for Stoneback and 3 hits for Daley...seven largely-competent innings from Perry, who walks 5 but fans 8, gives up just 4 hits
#25: LOSS 1-4 ... we get 9 baserunners vs 10 for the Sox, but can only plate the one...hitting looked discombobulated this series

So we're now 7-10 after our hotshot 8-0 start. At least no one else has seized any momentum, so we're still in first place. For now.... Welch comes off the DL and goes 0-for-9 with 4 Ks.... Groff is still out for three weeks, and our offense has started to look a little thin without him.... Pitching looked pretty decent this series, and we're now 2nd in runs allowed.... ELSEWHERE: Five of the six AL West teams are over .500.... Chad Rivers (WSH) leads all of baseball with a 0.57 ERA.... Pittsburgh CF C.J. Howard leads the NL with a .413 average. The 26-year-old has been traded twice in his career, both times for low-average power hitters who did very little for their new teams. Each time he was also packaged with a reliever who proved to be even better than the power guy the original team(s) wanted.


April 29-30 @ SEATTLE
Back on the road, closing out the month against the 14-12 Mariners. They've become the opposite of what they once were: good hitting (6th) backed with subpar (13th) pitching. The top half of the lineup is about as dynamic as you can get in MLB; the bottom half, a little sketchy. CF Aaron Harrison, when healthy, is one of the best in the game; SS Enrique Antunez is right there with him. The latter will be a UFA this fall, just an fyi. #1 SP Miguel Moreno has been money for about five years now, but is really struggling right now: 8.44 ERA, 1.88 WHIP, a 5.7/4.7 K/BB ratio. Closer Daryl Kennedy leads the AL with 9 saves. Prospects rank 29th, with their top twelve guys being pitchers: none of whom look like #1 or #2 starters. The top batter is OF Bill Dennis, who brings very little outside of great range. GM Justin Ditter is in his first year, and that he's been called a "warm body" by the local press probably doesn't say good things about the future. Manager Jacob DeGrom is also in his first season. Budget is 16th, payroll 19th. Fan interest is at 85, although attendance and profit have been declining a bit over the last few seasons.

HAW pitchers: LH Eric Jones (1-1, 4.50) / RH Ryan Ratliff (3-2, 3.90)
SEA pitchers: LH Miguel Moreno (1-2, 8.44) / RH Mark Guest (3-2, 3.41)

#26: WIN 4-1 ... there's the Jones we know and love: 8.1 IP, 6 H, 7 K, 0 BB...Daley's 2-run single late clinches it, with Simmons and McCollum also getting RBI
#27: WIN 4-2 ... Daley stays hot, with a solo HR and another hit, while Klump adds a 2-run HR...Ratliff only lasts 5.1, but still pitches well

Still no Sanabria from the pen; although Old Man Henderson keeps putting up zeroes, fanning 6 in 2.2 innings in that second game.... We finish the month 2nd in runs with 149, and 2nd in runs against with 91. Bullpen ERA is #1, as is AVG, OBP, and batting WAR.... Two weeks until The Return of Groff.... Dante Padilla might need to go down for some more seasoning, as he's batting just .179 now.... ELSEWHERE: there were four shutouts on the last day of the month, paced by KC's Chris Larimer tossing a NO-HITTER in a 1-0 win over the Twins. He walked three and fanned ten.... Washington's Chad Rivers tossed another shutout (and teammate Jesse Erickson tossed one of the four on the 30th), pushing his MLB-best ERA down to 0.44.... Reds 2B Marcus Dotson made 3 errors in his last game, surpassing the 2 he'd made in his previous 71 games at second for Cincy.... Pittsburgh has gotten hot, and at 18-8 only trail Philly (19-8) for 1st overall by a half game.

......

TL;DR Version: Those wins over Seattle salvaged a 9-9 stretch, a little disappointing after our hot start. We're still 2.5 up on Oakland and Houston, but the whole division is tight and one hot team could start opening up some distance in May. We're still hitting, but with little power, and we're not scoring runs at our earlier clip. Solid pitching has kept us very competitive, however. This is as I said it would probably go. We've really missed Groff, although I'm sure when he comes back he won't match his .531 start at the plate. Would be fun if he did though.
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Old 05-28-2019, 06:28 PM   #239
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A busy 29-game schedule for May, with just 13 at home. We start Interleague Play too, always a fun time of year. And Cameron Daley was named AL Rookie of the Month for April, going .361 with 2 HR and 20 RBI. Guess he's staying in the lineup for now.

May 1 @ SEATTLE
Wrapping up the last of a three-game stint.

HAW pitcher: RH Joe Koval (3-1, 1.67)
SEA pitcher: RH Steve Maki (0-1, 5.63)

#28: LOSS 2-4 ... nobody hit much tonight, and although we added six walks, we stranded 9 players, to the M's 1...two errors hurt too, as Koval allows all four runs, none earned


May 2-5 vs TEXAS
Every team is playing at least okay in the AL West (what a glowing compliment), including Texas at 14-14. They've scored 146 runs in those games, good for 3rd in the AL; pitching is lagging, tho, at 15th. Cleanup hitter Manuel Cervantes is continuing his late-career Renaissance, batting .309/9/21, while 3B Bobby Everding has taken over for an injured Corey Turner and is batting .395. The rotation is struggling, but 3/5 of those guys are too good to have a combined ERA near 5. Prospects rank 5th; and while #2 guy 1B William Swanson is in Texas (and batting just .189), I really like #1 Bobby Daniel, the rare pitching prospect who isn't lacking in any department. Dane Stone is the rookie GM (and someone I cut from the farm back in 2014), and our former manager Pat Wilson is in his third season. Budget is 30th, payroll is 35th, so they're not yet running with the big boys. Fan interest is at 53, but attendance--thanks to winning some games!--is up to 29K (from 19.5K last year).

HAW pitchers: RH Dennis Perry (0-2, 5.19) / RH Shamar Jackson (3-2, 3.16) / LH Eric Jones (2-1, 3.76) / RH Ryan Ratliff (3-2, 3.82)
TEX pitchers: RH Greg Buchanan (1-1, 5.52) / LH Carlton Saunders (1-0, 7.47) / RH Mike Messinger (2-2, 4.79) / LH Scott Schiavone (0-4, 3.82)

#29: WIN 3-1 ... Daley goes 3-for-4 with a HR, Hart homers, and Rangel doubles another run home...8 solid and quiet innings for Perry
#30: WIN 4-3 ... Rangel is huge, going 2-for-3 with the walk-off GW HR in the 9th...complete game, 5-hitter for Jackson
#31: WIN 6-5 ... more late-innings heroics, with Rich doubling home a run in the 8th, and Klein winning it in the 10th on a single...and Sanabria pitches!
#32: WIN 7-1 ... Padilla breaks a slump with a 2-run HR, and Simmons goes 3-for-4...Ratliff goes 8.2 IP, fans 12 and yields just 2 hits

Well that went about as well as it could have. The only scuff mark is a 2-week dtd back injury to closer Dan Brown. But Villalobos tells me it won't affect his pitching.... Since Ramon Sanabria is, in fact, alive and well, I move him up to closer and put Brown in Sanabria's apparently-invisible setup role.... We're now 2nd in runs scored, the first time we've been out of first in what feels like forever. We have 171 runs, but Tampa has been blowing the doors off everyone lately, and has scored 186 times.... ELSEWHERE: I thought the Yankees would be good this year; but the entire lineup is boycotting hitting, with just a .235 average. So even with good pitching, they're last in the AL at 11-18.... Washington is still going strong, at 18-12, and their top four starting pitchers have these ERA: 0.74, 1.84, 2.70, 2.96. No complaints there.... Mike Fields (SF) and Chad Rivers (WSH) continue to have blazing ERA: 0.72 and 0.74, respectively.... And I'm sorry to say, but not surprised, that BKN's Rob Hart (former Isle ace) has been demoted from the rotation, into the pen. Despite just throwing 8 innings and giving up only 3 runs in his last start, his season ERA is 5.91, and he's 0-5 in five starts. Although given that just-off-rehab veteran Joey Muhlemkamp has a pending injury (after lasting just 0.2 IP in his comeback start), Hart could be back in the rotation in a day or so.


May 6-9 @ LA ANGELS
At 14-17, fifth in the division and 6.5 games behind us. Hitting has not come around, at 17th in runs and average. The #8 and #9 batters are hitting .274 and .275, but no one else is even close to that. Although, to be fair, three regulars are on the DL, and all are solid hitters. Pitching is much better, at 3rd in runs against, for a -2 run differential. Only #4 SP Bob Tranchida is having a rough start, but he's too good to stay down for long. Closer Chris Brown has been money: 7 saves, 1.32 ERA. If they can get healthy and start hitting, they should get their season back on track. Prospects rank 28th; #1 guy, SP Justin Allred, is already in the bigs. The next two are OFs Jake Glowski and Mario Hopkins, and both should be solid contributors soon. GM Andres Edwards Perez is in his first year, after five years of less-than-stellar results in Richmond. Manager Brad Davis is also in his first year, and also had middling results in his last job (four seasons with Arizona). Budget is 23rd, payroll 30th, so there's room to spend should they go that route (they should). Fans are still loyal, but years of losing have eroded their interest (down to 64), although attendance is up this year.

HAW pitchers: RH Joe Koval (3-2, 1.44) / RH Dennis Perry (1-2, 4.24) / RH Shamar Jackson (4-2, 3.13) / LH Eric Jones (2-1, 3.77)
LAA pitchers: RH Arturo Sosa (5-1, 1.89) / RH Bob Tranchida (2-4, 6.44) / LH Noah Sims (2-2, 3.27) / RH Jon Carlsen (1-3, 3.53)

#33: WIN 3-1 ... Two solo HR (Hart and Rangel) and 8 IP of 5 hit ball from Koval (with 7 K and 0 BB)...we also take seven walks
#34: LOSS 6-7 ... Perry is lifted after two terrible innings, and Stanley goes 5 IP, gives up just one run, but takes the loss...we outhit them 12-8
#35: WIN 10-5 ... an 8-run 5th--sparked by 2 doubles and 2 HR--wins this one...Lasky hits his first MLB home run...Jackson is not good tonight, and Henderson gets hurt
#36: WIN 9-1 ... Jones goes the distance, and we break open a 2-1 game with big 7th and 8th innings...three more HR tonight

Pretty strong series, as we get ready to head off into Interleague Play. We're now 24-12, 3.5 games up on Seattle.... Injuries are cropping up again: Henderson's diagnosis is pending, and with his recent history I'm not hopeful; Dan Brown's dtd has been given an "unknown" end date, so I might move him to the DL. Our bullpen is #1 in the AL currently, so losing two regulars won't be good, but I think we'll have to do it.... Adam Groff is a week away now.... ELSEWHERE: MIN's William Antonio leads MLB in hitting at .417, the last guy remaining above the magic .400 mark.... Pittsburgh's C.J. Howard tops the NL at .381, and leads MLB with 3.0 WAR.... Adulting Tip, kids: be wary of marrying young. Philly prospect Clyde Craig, just 16, broke his kneecap in a fight and will be out of action for six months. Who did he fight? His father-in-law.... The Yankees have signed a healthy, 1980s-Steinbrennerian-level of free agents over the last two winters, and what has it got them? A 12-21 record, currently worst in baseball.


May 10-12 vs NEW ORLEANS
We're off on the first nine-game set against the NL Central. The Zephs are 18-18, tied for 2nd and 6.5 games behind Pittsburgh. Third in runs, although just 11th in average and 9th in OBP. 2B Joe Rodriguez has been solid, tho, leading the team across the board, at .298/8/25. Pitching is 6th in runs, with a struggling rotation but a very good bullpen to this point. Two SP have been solid--Moore and Jenson--but the others not so good; while four RP have ERA under 2. Prospects are 21st. OF Rodolfo Cerda has great ceilings, but is 25 and hasn't developed them fully, and may never. Pitchers John Sanders, Mike Herington, and Joe Dawson all look like solid future starters. GM Cole Rohrbough is in his third year, and the team has regressed each season despite making the playoffs each time. Manager Clarence Whitney is in his second season, after being our bench coach for four seasons and manager for one (remember I fired him after the '45 World Series. Good times.). Budget is 20th, payroll is 12th, and they'll need the playoffs to make a profit. Fan interest is 81, and owner Corey LaHood is unhappy, for what all that's worth.

HAW pitchers: RH Ryan Ratliff (4-2, 3.30) / RH Joe Koval (4-2, 1.22) / RH Dennis Perry (1-2, 5.50)
NOZ pitchers: RH Justin Moore (2-0, 1.07) / RH Steve Jenson (1-1, 1.88) / RH Justin Ross (2-3, 6.22)

#37: LOSS 2-6 ... 3 empty hits for Rangel, and 2 RBI for Welch...Ratliff is just okay, but gives up the GW 3-run HR
#38: WIN 5-4 ... Stoneback homers, and adds 2 other hits and 3 RBI...2 more RBI for Welch...Koval struggles a bit, but Ramirez and Sanabria shut things down over the last 2 innings
#39: WIN 4-2 ... Perry is on tonight, with a strong 8 innings...only seven hits, and Canning drives in 2 with a single and a sac fly

We get the injury report on Henderson: 4-5 weeks with elbow inflammation. He goes on the DL. Dan Brown goes as well, so he can fully rest up. We call up Steve Dickerson and Ben Germann to take their places. Dickerson spent last year with us, tossing 58 innings with a 3.88 ERA, but also walked 35. Germann threw 20.2 innings with us last year but didn't impress. He's been a solid starter in AAA this year, but will hit the pen for us this recall.... No batter is having a truly top-flight year (other than Groff, but he's missed too much time to be anywhere near any leaderboard). Cam Daley is hitting .321, but has cooled off after a hot start. Stoneback is going at .319/8/24, but it's been a quiet season.... ELSEWHERE: White Sox pitcher Joe Ingram fanned 17 Nats batters during a 10-1 win, but that's not his best result this season: he struck out 18 A's in April. He's got some odd stats too: 88 K (in 56.2 IP) with just 3 walks; but also 15 HR, which is on pace for 66.... Very disappointed to report to you that Toronto SS Jordan Cruz is on the bench, having appeared in just 12 games (all starts), with 45 AB. And 16 K, bringing him close to 3200 for his career.


May 14-16 vs ST LOUIS
Currently 17-22, last in the division. Hitting and pitching rank 17th. These guys won 97 games three years ago. What happened? Bad upper management, letting old guys age and then walk and not having viable replacements ready. Look: C Alexis Mercedes was on a 45-HR pace until injury last year; he's back, but looks depleted at 34. 1B Carlos Saldua was a Rule 5 pickup from Oakland, made 39 starts and was waived (yesterday) back to the A's. 2B Tim Ost is a capable hitter but should be batting 8th, not 2nd. SS Xiu-tou Fa leads the team at .283, but is really a "top player only on bad teams" kind of guy. 3B Dennis Gaetano has been a solid utility IF his career, but cannot hit. And OF Marcos Zuniga, Tony Acevedo, and Jason McColl are good-but-not-real-good and are all underperforming anyway. Plus superstar-to-be (and former #1 overall pick) Steve Rutledge never truly developed, becoming a .235 hitter who now sits and sulks most days. Only SP DeMedeiros (see below) and RP Frank Casper (10 SV, 1.37) and Curt Nichols (0.71) are throwing well. So we'll probably get swept, is what I'm saying... GM Carlos Castaneda has been here for nine seasons, and should just admit that they're rebuilding, fan service be damned. Manager Chad Kerfoot is in his 2nd year, and his entire pitching staff dislikes him. Prospects rank 35th, which is...not good. Top guy is pitcher Freddy Trujillo, whom nobody likes (which is okay, b/c he doesn't like them either). Catcher Riley King looks solid, and there's still hope that the Caseys--Richmond and Van Dorn--will become quality OF one day. Fan interest is just 77, quite a comedown for the "best fans in baseball."

HAW pitchers: RH Shamar Jackson (5-2, 3.61) / LH Eric Jones (3-1, 3.31) / RH Ryan Ratliff (4-3, 3.44)
STL pitchers: RH Jeremy DeMedeiros (4-1, 2.01) / RH Mike Silvers (2-1, 5.40) / RH Emanuel Vasquez (1-6, 5.10)

#40: WIN 6-1 ... complete game 4-hitter for Jackson, with 8 K, walking one...Rich's base-clearing double in the 2nd was all we needed...we add 8 walks just for fun, too
#41: WIN 7-6 ... a Simmons triple in the 10th is the GW tonight...Rangel RBIs 4, helped by a 3-run HR in the 8th. Also, gets ejected for arguing with an ump
#42: LOSS 4-5 ... bullpen loses this one, Sanabria giving up four hits and two runs in the 9th...Klump hits his 2nd HR of the series

Hate that last loss.... Rangel also earns a 3-game suspension for yelling at the umpire and then kicking his helmet back to the dugout. Showed a good leg, and I hear the Bears are still looking for a kicker.... Groff comes back tomorrow, so I'll probably send IF J.R. Thompson (1-for-8) back to AAA.... Stoneback sat out (PH twice) much of this series with the flu.... Dan Brown's stint on the DL will also end, but Villalobos hasn't given him the thumbs up to start pitching again.... ELSEWHERE: Atlanta is heating up, now just 1/2 a game behind Philly. And watch out: Seattle and Oakland have won 5 and 6 straight, putting them 2.5 and 5.5 games behind us.... Home runs appear down this year, with the league leaders stuck at 14 (someone is usually pushing 20 by now, tbh). I checked some stats, and see that while averages are down just a tick--about 3 points--league ERA are down about 30 points. Not sure why; perhaps just natural evolution, or only a two-month blip.

......

TL;DR Version: A pretty nice 11-3 run here, which is good since the M's and A's are playing better than we are right now, closing to 2.5 and 5.5 games out. The whole division is doing okay, with even the terrible Angels not truly-terrible, at 19-22. Our hitting is not carrying us right now: while we're still batting .293 (1st) and getting on at a lovely .371 (1st) clip, we sit 3rd in runs and 13th in HR. I knew we'd struggle for power this year, but our scoring woes have surprised me. Getting Groff back should help; he'll move Klump back to DH, and I'll let Welch (.234) and Hart (.230) slug (or fail-to-slug, as the case may be) it out for the RF spot. I'd also like to get Dante Padilla (.198) back on track. No complaints about pitching yet, however. Although Sanabria has been a bit...brittle...in his first few stints as closer. Honestly, I hope he gets it together, b/c with Brown likely wanting north of $10M next year, and Sanabria already inked for $5M, you can guess who I'd like to see in that slot come next April...
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Old 05-31-2019, 08:28 PM   #240
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May 17-19 @ MONTREAL
Weird series: one game on the 17th, then a day off, then a double header on the 19th. What's also weird is a team (at 21-21 so far) that is 15th in AVG, 12th in OBP, and last in HR is....6th in runs. They're also 17th in runs against, with most of their staff really off the rails at the moment. Batting tho: Toshi Hasegawa, at .270/5/19 is the hitting star, and #8 batter Alan Branham, at .358, is hitting 80 points over his career mark. 23-year-old pitcher Elijah Bragg is having a breakout year, at 3.06 and 4-2, while closer Jason Faries hasn't been scored on in his 19.1 innings this year. GM David Bill is in his fourth year, and this stretch--plus four years in SF--has not revealed him to be...let's say...capable. Manager Andres Reyna is also in his fourth year. Prospects rank 26th, with #1 John Weston looking like a solid SP; except that he's 24 and needs to develop fast. 3B Tim Bell, 19, also looks really good. Budget and payroll are dead last, 36th. Fan interest is 55. If I were looking for a new job, this would be a good place to build up from nothing, tbh.

HAW pitchers: RH Joe Koval (5-2, 1.69) / RH Dennis Perry (2-2, 4.91) / RH Shamar Jackson (6-2, 3.23)
MTL pitchers: RH Matt Sheil (2-3, 5.14) / RH Marty Armstrong (1-1, 2.76) / Bob Garner (3-3, 7.97)

#43: WIN 1-0 ... we only manage 7 hits--2 plus the GWRBI for Canning--but Koval holds the Expos to just 3 hits, fanning 12...Canning's hit came in the 9th inning
#44: WIN 2-0 ... they double their hits to six this time, but still no runs...Perry goes 8, save for Sanabria...3 hits and and RBI for Canning, solo HR for Stoneback
#45: WIN 8-5 ... all our offense comes from the top 5 in the order, and Jackson goes 7...we're up 7-0 before MTL gets on the board, and hold on despite shaky relief pitching

Nice sweep, and some especially fine starting pitching. We should play these guys more often.... Groff and Brown come off the DL, so I send down JR Thompson and Steve Dickerson (no appearances). Groff goes 4-for-9 in his return.... Rangel will be back from his 3-game suspension next series.... ELSEWHERE: The Yankees continue to struggle, at 14-28 and with an AL-worst offense.... Washington has slipped this month (5-11) after a solid April, but their pitching is holding up, at 2nd in the NL. Worst offense in the NL however.... White Sox starter Pedro Cabrera continues to hold his title as the worst SP in baseball currently. His '47 numbers are 1-5, 7.63, 18 HR in 41.1 IP, -1.3 WAR. Over his 802 inning career, he sports a 6.61 ERA and has given up 245 HR. Seems like a nice guy, but is not exactly fitted to be a big league pitcher.


May 21-23 vs TAMPA BAY
Tied for first in the East, at 26-19. First in runs (not us!), while 6th in batting and 2nd in OBP. 1B Chris Goldthwait--who was far and away the best batter in the AL over the first half of '46--leads the way at .313/13/36, while cleanup batter Vance Wise is .319/9/39. Wise is also listed as a setup RP, although he hasn't pitched any innings. Pitching, by the way, ranks 11th, with nobody really standing out, for good or ill. GM John Lee is in his 8th year, and the team has generally gotten better each of those years, making the playoffs three of the last four seasons. Manager Tony Bajoczky is in his 5th season, and the clubhouse is happy, although his pitching staff doesn't like him. Prospects rank 9th, with a nice handful of kids who look really promising. Budget ranks 21st, payroll 32nd. They've got a lot of guys who are unsigned for next year, but most are older players who can be more easily replaced. The future looks pretty good for these guys, I'd say.

HAW pitchers: LH Eric Jones (3-1, 3.75) / RH Ryan Ratliff (4-3, 3.49) / RH Joe Koval (6-2, 1.46)
TBR pitchers: RH Toichi Kaneko (3-3, 3.41) / RH Jon Yazzie (3-1, 1.88) / RH Jaysen Moss (2-3, 5.65)

#46: WIN 8-3 ... 3 doubles and 2 RBI for Hart, and 2 more hits each for Groff, Daley, and Simmons...7 of our hits are doubles...Jones goes 7.1 IP, gives up 10 hits, but wins
#47: LOSS 5-6 ... Daley and Stoneback 2-run HR put us up early, but we can't hang on...Ratliff is chased during a 4-run 6th
#48: LOSS 7-11 ... Groff's 2-run HR is our only highlight...lots of bad pitching tonight, and we give up 5 HR

Well, not so much good pitching in this series.... Seattle has gotten hot, and is now just 2.5 games behind us.... Funny how to me the offense feels kind of static right now, despite us leading the AL in AVG/OBP and with five regulars batting over .300.... ELSEWHERE: Detroit has gone 9-1 of late, and has surged to the top of the charts at 33-15. No surprise they're also 1st in HR, with 76.... The draft pool is out, and there is a pretty big crop of really solid hitters at the top of the charts. Current #2 ranked guy, OF Jose Moreno, really looks like a guy who could be a career .340/.350 hitter, lacking only in power. I also like OF Junjiro McDonnell, who can't play defense but looks like a solid power hitter and could possibly fall to us...


May 24-26 @ BALTIMORE
At 22-25, the O's are the only sub-.500 team we play (counting our previous series as well) until June. Solidly average-to-below-average across the board, 12th in runs and 10th in runs against, for a -22 differential. Cesar Alvarenga has been his usual studly self, at .277/12/31, although that average is quite low for him. Ace Brian Simon is only recently off the DL, and has been solid, while the rest of the rotation has struggled. Closer Curt Paddock is still one of the best around, with 14 saves and a 1.82 ERA. GM Mike Hart is in his sixth season, after winning six honkin' titles with the Amsterdam Honkballers. Manager Greg Valles is in his first year, after two seasons as bench coach. Prospects rank just 30th, and while five of their top six guys are projected as SP, only one looks of any value to me. Budget sits at 31st, payroll 27th. Hopefully they'll be better off next year when they don't re-sign overpaid ($19M) catcher Arturo Sena, who hits 30-35 HR but bats .220 and has the arm of a five-year-old.

HAW pitchers: RH Dennis Perry (3-2, 4.15) / RH Shamar Jackson (7-2, 3.16) / LH Eric Jones (4-1, 3.74)
BAL pitchers: LH Jeremy Stines (2-3, 4.68) / LH Jonathan Bell (1-5 6.54) / RH Brian Simon (2-0, 2.76)

#49: WIN 12-9 ... Padilla and Rangel go 3-for-5, with Dante adding a triple and HR...Perry really struggles, but Stanley's decent 4 IP in relief save the day
#50: WIN 12-3 ... Jackson continues to shine, with a 4-hit, 11-K complete game...everyone gets a hit, including 3 HR (Stoneback, Welch, McCollum)
#51: LOSS 3-5 ... Groff stays hot, going 2-for-4 with a 3-run HR...we only muster one other hit, tho...Jones gives up 5 in the 1st, but helps the pen by staying in for 4 more innings

Some sweet hitting until that last, quiet game. Plus, a pile of HR, proving we can still hit one out every now and then.... I know he's missed half the season so far, but it's still pretty nice to see Groff batting .500 (80 AB) at the end of May.... Not getting much production out of my RF platoon: Joseph Hart (LH) at .245/6/21, while Kenny Welch (RH) is .243/4/18. Leadoff batter Klein is also a bit cold, batting just .269 with a .313 OBP, both far below his normal numbers.... ELSEWHERE: Cubs ace Rafael Maldonado is trying to put to rest rumors of his pending demise, as he leads all pitchers with 3.1 WAR (and is 5-2, 2.18 ERA, and 81 K in 66 IP). At $19M per season, he ought to be that good.... Pittsburgh has opened up the largest divisional lead, at 8 games over New Orleans and Chicago. The NL West is the tighest, with San Fran (wha...?) clinging to a 1/2 game advantage over SD and 1 1/2 over LA and ARI.... Minny's William Antonio has gotten hot again, and is batting .408 to lead the majors. He had dropped down about 20 points below that in recent weeks.


May 27-29 @ MIAMI
Leading the East at 29-20, with the 6th best offense and 4th best pitching in the AL. DH Matt Anderson may be 38, but he may have found his forever home, and is plowing along at .358/13/36, all team highs. Longtime Marlin Ricky Beard isn't hitting for power (just 6 HR as opposed to 37 last year), but is batting .342. Closer Chris Milano has 15 saves, and 30-year-old first-time SP Antonio Amezcua is loving his new role (we'll face him, of course). GM Chris Wade is in his 2nd year, likewise for manager Ruben Medina. Prospects rank 14th, and feature an interesting mix of power pitchers and power hitters. Not a lot of high averages are coming out of these batter's boxes, however. Budget is 14th, payroll 17th. Fan interest is a stout 93, and attendance is up 20%, to 40K per game. [How many months does it take the real-life Marlins to hit 40K?]

HAW pitchers: RH Ryan Ratliff (4-4, 3.90) / RH Joe Koval (6-3, 2.13) / RH Dennis Perry (3-2, 4.79)
MIA pitchers: RH Antonio Amezcua (6-1, 2.42) / RH Matt Rubin (2-6, 4.48) / LH Jason Mangiaracina (5-2, 3.77)

#52: WIN 1-0 ... just five hits combined...we only get two, but add in six walks and score in the 9th to win...Ratliff goes the distance, fans 6...Simmons hurt dtd
#53: WIN 6-2 ... we're outhit again, but drop a 5-run 3rd inning (with 2 doubles and a triple)...Koval is back on form, yielding just 1 run in 6 IP...Simmons hurt again
#54: WIN 11-5 ... no doubt tonight, with 15 hits...4 for Klein, 3 for Daley, and we add 7 walks...Perry is good, but Germann walks 5 (with 2 runs) in his 2 IP

I'll take it! Although it does cost a bit: Simmons tweaks, then outright hurts, his back, and will miss 3 weeks with a bad disc. We recall JR Thompson, and move Dante Padilla back into the lineup at third. Padilla is batting just .205, but hopefully being in the 7th spot will be easier on him than trying him at #5 has.... AAA Santa Barbara has been subpar this month, slipping to 22-18, while AA Lewiston is just struggling, at 15-29.... ELSEWHERE: Detroit still paces everyone, at 39-15.... San Fran has won 70 games just once in the last seven seasons, but is still leading the NL West at 30-24. They also have five or six really, really top-notch hitting prospects in the pipeline.... Portland has dropped ten in a row, with the worst pitching in the NL.


May 30-31 @ SEATTLE
They're keeping up with us (ha!) at 32-23, now 5.5 behind. This will be a big four-game stint. Sixth in runs scored, 5th in runs against, for a +25 differential. SS Enrique Antunez is .352/8/25, while #9 batter Luis Cantu leads the team with 10 HR. Three other batters also have 8 HR, for quite a balanced attack. Ace Miguel Moreno has been really off-track, but the rest of the rotation has been solid, and the bullpen currently ranks #1 in the AL. Closer Daryl Kennedy leads MLB with 21 saves. Rookies GM Justin "Warm Body" Ditter and Manager Jacob deGrom have things running smoothly so far. Prospects rank 29th, with a few nice-looking pitchers, but really no batters worth mentioning at all. Budget ranks 16th, payroll 19th. The above-mentioned Antunez will go UFA (most likely), as will five other regulars. So this year may be their one shot.

HAW pitchers: RH Shamar Jackson (8-2, 3.14) / LH Eric Jones (4-2, 3.86) / RH Ryan Ratliff (5-4, 3.42)
SEA pitchers: LH Edwin Romero (debut) / LH Miguel Moreno (2-6, 6.55) / RH Mark Guest (6-3, 3.71)

#55: LOSS 3-4 ... Jackson fans 9 and yields just 6 hits, but a 3-run HR dooms him...3 hits and HR for Stoneback, otherwise a pretty quiet game
#56: WIN 4-2 ... Rich's 2-run double in the 11th wins it...Klump hits a HR, and Rangel adds 3 hits...Jones is good through 8, and while Sanabria blows the save, Ramirez shuts it down to end it

Fun play in that last game: Luis Cantu challenged Hart's arm in right, scoring in the 4th; he tried it again in the 10th but got nailed at the plate to end the game, and also got hurt.... Hart, tho, is now batting just .237, which is not helping his "Extend Me Mr. GM plz" cause.... ELSEWHERE: St Louis was expected to win just 74 games this year. At 23-33 so far, I guess owner Joe Dewitt, Jr, had had enough, firing both GM Carlos Castaneda and Manager Chad Kerfoot. DeWitt, described as "delighted" by staffers, could not be reached for comment. No word yet on any replacements.... Detroit is still stuck at 39 wins, with Philly and Hawaii at 38. The Yanks (16 wins) are the only team under 20, and have lost 9 of 10 to boot.... TB's Chris Goldthwait is surging again, leading baseball with 16 HR, and tied for 2nd (with teammate Vance Wise) at 49 RBI. Cleveland's Mike Blough has 50 RBI, passing 1200 for his career and placing him 6th among active players (MIA Matt Anderson leads with 1493). LAD's Vinny Vargas (.280/8/31) needs one more hit to reach 2000. Teammate Eddy Llamas topped 3000 K for his career, while Cubs ace Rafael Maldonado is just 27 away from that achievement.

......

TL;DR Version: A solid 10-4 stretch has kept us ahead of the Mariners (38-18 vs 33-24), and we finished 21-8 overall for May. We're 3rd in runs, which is unusual for us (we usually run away with that, ho ho), but still 1st in AVG and OBP. Only 14th in HR, which is still in line with my pre-season prediction. Pitching is 1st overall, with only the bullpen (2nd in ERA) marring a perfect set. Kenny Welch (.266) and Phil Lasky (.402 in just 52 AB) are getting more time than the slumping Joseph Hart (.237), and Hart may actually be playing himself out of a roster slot, especially with the continuing development in AAA of #2 prospect Josh Frederick. Freds is a lefty, like Hart, and right now my scouts are saying he rates as a better hitter than the veteran. Hmm.... Also on the disappointment front, prospects Olimpio le Coq (SP) and Jules Medici (1B) took steps backward in the latest scouting report. Le Sigh.
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