Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Part 1 - Griz History of +/-

Whats Gone Wrong in Bear Land
How Many Bad Decisions Can One GM Make
(a.k.a. How Stupid Am I)

Part 1

The Grundy County Grizzlies joined the NASBL during the 2001 season. The first GM mistake I made was allowing Vermont to claim Sammy Sosa. Sammy was his first steroid blue chip contributor of the Fighting Sioux. I did end up with Brad Radke who led the Griz with 8 Wins in its inaugural season. The Griz completed the season 48-114 and in the NASBL basement, a location we have occupied way too often.

Grundy County played lets Make a Deal with the first pick in the 2002 draft. Vermont was happy to pass on Jermaine Dye and the 5th overall pick to get a gangly hitter without a position named Alex Pujols. (Mr. Beard you once asked who the first pick in the 2002 – theres your answer) I had boldly predicted the 1st round of the draft figuring Jimmy Rollins, Roy Oswalt, and Adam Dunn would be available when my turn came up at 5. I wanted Dunn and lost him when the York Town Schooners took him at #3. [I was unable to determine who the Kansas City Cannibals took with the 2nd pick or who the New York Knights took with the 4th pick.] I choose Oswalt in the fifth spot and when Rollins was available at pick 13. I traded Radke and others to acquire the pick and take Rollins as my regular SS for the next few years.

Looking back it would have been nice to have kept the pick and take Pujols but I got good results from Dye (BAvg. .299, 24 Dingers, and 92 RBIs [holding the single season Griz RBI record of 92 until Ryan Howard broke that record with 103 this year]) and Oswalt (7 Wins [tie for team high in 2002] and second in ERA at 4.76). Rollins batted .225 with 11 jacks and 46 stolen bases [second on the team to Juan Pierre who set the NASBL stolen base record at 130]. The Griz had a great draft – even if results did not support that hypothesis. 1st round picks Oswalt and Rollins, 2nd rounder Ben Sheets, and Billy Wagner and Jon Garland, all provided hope and several seasons of play. After the 2006 season the Griz traded Oswalt and Pat “the Bat” Burrell for Miguel Cabrera and Mark Buehrle. Billy Wagner was traded to the Fighting Sioux after he 2004 season; do not remember what our return was. Rollins was traded following the 2005 season to the Roadkill for a prospect named Justin Morneau who had not panned out yet after being drafted in 2005. So what went wrong – well among other things, I cut Dye and Buehrle when they had off years and/or injuries.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Haymakers looking to next year (again)

TROY: After a second straight sub-.500 season and third straight season of missing the playoffs, the Haymakers are looking next season as a time to rebound. The team hit .257 in 2009, the second worst team BA in the league to go along with a 4th worst team ERA of 4.85, making any sort of playoff possibility a distant memory.

There again seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel next season as a few players may make the Haymakers 2010 playoff push an interesting one.

Mark (Hamil) Reynolds: After hitting a respectable .278 with 21 homers as a part time player in 2009, Reynolds blasted 44 homers and stole 24 bases with a farm team in Arizona and should fill in nicely as the everyday middle of the order hitter for the Haymakers in 2010. His defense at 3B is a liability, so expect Reynolds to don his 1B glove or DH for most of the season.

Jason Bartlett: Picked up from New Jersey as a platoon/defensive replacement player; Bartlett did nicely in 2009 hitting .340 with 16 SB's for Troy but had a breakout season with the bat on the farm, hitting .320 with 30 SB's in an everyday role. He also grew into himself, hitting a record 14 homers, while never hitting more than 5 in any season. There is some question about his glove at SS for the long term, but expect to see Bartlett manning the gap for the Haymakers in 2010.

Andre Ethier: Ethier had sub-par season as the 2009 cleanup hitter in Troy, hitting only .260 with 14 homers and 66 RBI's, but he should rebound nicely as he finally flashed his potential with 31 homers and over 100 RBI's for the fall league team in LA. His lefty bat should be a nice complement to Reynolds right hand slugging ability.

Brandon Phillips: The excitement of having a gold glove secondbaseman with 30-30 potential was too impossible to hid at Troy's front office when they picked up Phillips in the blockbuster Matt Holliday trade. Although Phillips had his expected down season with the bat, hitting almost zero against righties, he still posted 18 homers, 60 RBI's, and stole 28 bases all while batting at the bottom of Troy's lineup. Not to mention the great gold-glove caliber defense. Expect more of the same from Phillips in 2010, albeit with a higher BA and a little more run production.

Hunter Pence: Although Pence started the 2009 season on the bench, playing requirements forced him into the OF for 107 games. He didn't impress with the bat as a corner outfielder for this league, but he is an above average defender with a superb arm. It's debatable whether or not he posses a bat strong enough for the NASBL, even though he is one of the GM's "Ken's guys". Expect him to man RF in 2010 as a 6th or 7th place hitter.

Billy Butler: Picked up from Illinois in the 2008 offseason for Aubrey Huff, Butler looks to be the star hitter he is expected to be. Only 23, Butler hit .301 with 51 doubles and 21 homeruns for the KC farm team and he is still getting better. He was also given a chance to play 1B everyday and did not embarrass himself, but it's still up in the air whether his glove is good enough to play there everyday. The future is bright here.

Those are some impressive players to look forward to for the 2010 season, but don't let us forget about the busts. 1st round pick Geovanny Soto turned out to be a major bust behind the plate and Rick Ankiel was drafted in the second round of the spring draft but may not make the team. Another one of "Ken's guys", Conor Jackson, may finally get the boot after a few sub-par seasons with the Haymakers and a myriad of injuries for 2010.

Here's a quick look at the expected 2010 lineup for the Haymakers:

Jason Bartlett, SS
Brandon Phillips, 2B
Billy Butler, 1B
Mark Reynolds, 3B
Andre Ethier, LF
Hunter Pence, RF
Cody Ross, CF
Elijah Dukes, DH(?)
Geovanny Soto, C

There are some holes here, but it's looking a lot better than last seasons opening day lineup.

Later a look at the 2010 pitching staff of the Haymakers.

Votto, NJT Punch Ticket to LCS!

New Jersey Trash Heap Rookie of the Year candidate Joey Votto (.298/25/98) not only survived his grueling 1st year of NASBL play, he also had enough left in the tank at the end of the season to power NJT to a hard-fought victory over Doug Sherlag's perennial powerhouse Springfield Isotopes. The young Canadian-born slugger led his team in virtually every offensive category: 5 hr, 10 rbi, 7 runs scored, and 8 base hits. His left-handed fireworks were complemented from the right side by those of 2nd year man Chris Iannetta, whose 4 hr and 9 rbi gave the Heap a difficult to control lefty-righty dynamic duo.

While he struggled in games 1 and 4, allowing 6 runs in each outing, franchise pitcher Tim Lincecum showed why he is the New Jersey ace in game 7. The youngster went 6.2 IP, striking out 12 and outdueling Springfield #1 C.C. Sabathia in the deciding game.

New Jersey will now advance to face Mark Hildebrandt's Outlaw Josey Wales, a squad which the Heap has traditionally struggled against. 2009 was no exception, as NJT posted a 5-9 regular season mark against the pitching-tough Outlaw squad (.232 opponent's batting average, lowest in the league).

Thursday, November 5, 2009

IronPig 2009 Draft Review

Iron Pig 2009 Draft Review. This year’s draft class focused primarily on hitters. We were pleased to add three blue chip hitters (Longoria, Upton, Lind), but our fan base dreams longingly of having a pitcher or two that they can root for. Sadly, it doesn’t look like there are any to choose from at this point.

Round 1 (pick 3) – Evan (don’t call me Eva) Longoria – Evan lived up to expectations this past season. We believe that he will hit for more power and continue to play excellent defense at the hot corner for many years to come.
Status: Keeper. His bronze statue is being made as we speak.
Round 1 (trade) – Justin Upton – Justin looks to be a fixture in the Lehigh Valley lineup for the coming season. It remains to be seen whether he will have the defensive skills necessary to play the demanding right field position, or whether he will be relegated to his more natural defensive position of designated hitter. We continue to look for great things from him.
Status: Keeper.
Round 2 – Kevin Slowey – Kevin had an up and down year. We would like him to continue to pitch to contact and rely on his fielders rather than trying to strike everyone out. He is young and the season seemed to wear on him. He was complaining about shoulder fatigue and that may come into play next season. The situation will have to be monitored closely.
Status: Keeper.
Round 2 – Johnny Cueto – At this point, the jury is still out on Cueto. He is still young and showed flashes of brilliance, but he must learn to harness himself and exert all of his energy on his pitching. He is a keeper, but we would like him to develop a bit more consistency.
Status: Keeper.
Round 7 – Travis Hafner – Travis posted some good numbers vs. rhp and he will likely be retained for the upcoming season.
Status: Probable keeper.
Round 7 – Sean Gallagher – Brutal season and will be dropped.
Status: Should be taken behind the woodshed and beaten silly.
Round 7 – Chase Headley – Headley had a decent season posting respectable numbers vs RH pitching. He is young and we would like to give him another shot to see how he does next season. Our outfield is crowded, but we would like to hang onto him never the less.
Status: Probable keeper.
Round 9 – Alexi Casilla – Brutal season and will be dropped.
Status: Recommend group therapy and batting lessons.
Round 9 – J Sowers – He hid his talent well and will not be retained for the coming season.
Status: Recommend that he goes back to selling used cars.
Round 10 – J Garland – He had a mediocre season at best. Unfortunately, with the dearth of starting pitching on our team, he will likely be retained for next season.
Status: Probable keeper.
Round 11 – Louis Castillo - Luis had an incredible bounceback season posting a .319/.411/.345 line vs RHP. He is someone that a playoff team might like to have for the coming season and is available for trade.
Status: Keeper.
Round 12 – Adam Lind – One of the steals of the draft. The left handed batter posted a line of .317/.389/.602 vs RHP. Wow. Not bad for a 12th round pick.
Status: Keeper, but could be traded.
Round 13 – Jensen Lewis – All around awful season. Nice strikeout numbers, but nothing else. He is your guy if you would like a strikeout, but can also afford 2 walks and a single while waiting for it.
Status – Not a keeper.
Round 14 – Glen Perkins – Abysmal would not be an overstatement for his season.
Status – Recommend sex change and career as exotic dancer.
Round 15 – J Mathis – Reverted to career norms. About the only good thing that can be said for him is that he had more homeruns than Barry Bonds last season.
Status: Not a keeper.