Monday, November 21, 2011

2011 Iron Pigs Team Grades

Starting Pitching:
The starting pitchers included two individual performances that are in the top 6 all time ERA's. New IronPig Josh Johnson had the 6th best individual performance at 2.51 and rookie Clay Buchholtz secured the lowest individual season ERA at 1.77. These two backstopped the IronPig starting pitchers which had a season ERA of 2.95 and a record of 80-39.
Grade: A+

Relief Pitching:
Not to be outdone by their stamina endowed brethren, the relief pitchers did an even better job of shutting down the opposition and held opponents to an ERA of 2.08 and had 43 saves to go along with a 27-14 record. Leading the way were Joakim Benoit (5-1, 4 sv, 0.94 ERA), Billy Wagner (1-0, 8 sv, 0.41 ERA) and rookie closer Neftali Feliz (4-4, 26 sv, 2.03 ERA).
Grade: A+

Team Defense:
The pitchers benefited from very good team defense. Groundball specialist Clay Buchholtz in particular was happy with the infield defense. Only Hanley Ramirez (natural position is DH) was a liability. All other infield positions were manned by 1e somethings. The outfield featured a 1 in CF and 2's (with - arms) at the corner spots. Combine that defense with the pitchers ballpark and you have a recipe for success.
Grade B+

The offense performed well despite playing half of their games in the pitcher friendly PigPen. The offense was good enough for 5th in NASBL in 2011. The team was loaded with doubles hitters (2nd only to powerhouse TRY) and had good team speed (144 sb, 3rd in NASBL). Surprisingly, HR's were not a weakness as the team hit 179 which was good for 6th place in NASBL. The offense played well enough to win and carried the pitchers in a couple of playoff games against very strong offenses (OJW and TRY).
Grade: B-

General Manager:
As mentioned in a previous article, the front office sold out for success this season at the expense of future seasons. Time will tell how much damage was done to the upcoming seasons, but with the playoff success realized this year, the GM is not taking the heat that he probably should be.
Grade: C

2011 Iron Pigs Notables

2011 was a memorable season for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. It marked several team firsts or records.
  1. Highest regular season win total (109)
  2. Lowest NASBL individual ERA (Buchholtz 1.77)
  3. First playoff game victory (4-1 vs. OJW)
  4. First playoff series victory (4-3 vs. OJW)
  5. First World Series appearance
  6. First World Series game victory (9-7 vs. TRY)
  7. First World Series victory (4-2 vs. TRY)
  8. Lowest team ERA in NASBL history (2.79)

How did the magic happen? Cynics would say that it happened because GM Burns sold out the future and went "all-in" for this playoff run. The team had been successful, but mid season trades to bolster the offense and bullpen proved to be key in making the playoffs and enjoying success in the playoffs.

The trade ledger sheet shows that LVI gave up Papelbon, Reyes, Jay, Storen, Hafner, 1st round, 2nd round and 4th round in exchange for Hanley Ramirez, Jason Werth, Michael Morse, Brett Anderson, Rafael Soriano, and Billy Wagner.

The price was steep in future value, but in the end, it was worth it. At present, due to injuries and lack of high picks, 2012 looks to be a mediocre season at best , but as Outlaw proved this season, having low expectations can cause your players to overperform. Hopefully the IronPigs will have the same results that Mark's team had in 2011. Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Outlaw 2011 Report Card

How did the Outlaw Josey Wales fare in 2011?

Overall: Not much was expected this year with only one quality starting pitcher (Hudson), several average-challenged batters (Kemp, Napoli, Barajas, Bay), and big injuries to key players (Pedroia, Ramirez, Cruz, Bay, Peavy). But a funny thing happened on the team's trip to mediocracy. Cranking 247 HR (2nd to LCC) and running up a .593 winning percentage on the road, Outlaw won a team record 102 games, beat the 100+ win Isotopes in the playoffs, and came within two outs of winning the Tastes great pennant against the eventual World Series champion Iron Pigs. Grade: A-

HAL: Winning half of your games on the road in NASBL is really tough. Team road manager HAL won 48 games on the NASBL road trail. Managing a .593 winning percentage on the road despite being saddled with injury-depleted starting lineups gets you a Grade: A

Draft & Pre-Season Trades:
Matt Kemp (trade for 1st rounder), Jonny Venters (2nd) round), Justin Masterson (6th round), Grade: A

Adrian Gonzalez: .290 BA, 29 HR and 111 RBI playing on a home field that is more than hostile to left-handed batters. Grade: A

Tim Hudson:
First the bad news. He didn't hit any homeruns this year. But putting up a 17-13 record with a 3.02 ERA when you are deliberately scheduled to pitch against the cream of the Tastes Great League as often as possible earns you a Grade: A

Omar Vizquel: .298 BA, 39 runs and 17 SB in 255 AB from a 43 year-old with a glove that puts the kids to shame! Grade: A

Jake Peavy: 12-3 with a 3.14 ERA and 126 K in 120 IP. Serious injuries prevented what could have been a great season. Grade: A-

David "Big Papi" Ortiz:
35 HR and 93 RBI in 436 AB, but batted only .261 and limited to platoon duty against righties. Grade: A-

Dustin Pedroia:
18 HR and 71 RBI in only 293 AB plus a world-class glove at second. Too bad he got hurt. Grade: B

Jake Westbrook and Ryan Dempster:
34-14, 442 IP, and a 4.13 ERA between them. Life is tough for starting pitchers on a team with an all-1 infield that hits 247 HR and plays in a cavernous ballpark. Grade: B

Mike Napoli:
22 HR and 60 RBI in only 329 AB. Pedroiaesque stats minus the defense and batting average. Grade: B-

Matt Kemp:
25 HR, 86 runs and 73 RBI from the bottom of the lineup but with a sub-par .253 BA and average defense. We're waiting for next year. Grade: C+

Adrian Beltre:
.281, 27 HR and a stellar glove, but 75 RBI from the middle of this lineup is not enough. Grade: C

Manny Ramirez:
He hit .302, but age and injuries caught up with Mannywood. Only 10 HR, and 29 RBI in 252 AB, but his high OBA had him leading off later in the season and scoring 40 runs. Is this the end of an era? Grade: C

Jonny Venters:
2.76 ERA amd 14 saves is good for a rookie season, but 10 losses is too many for a short reliever. More was expected. Grade: C

Elvis Andrus:
A .246 BA limited our leadoff batter to 95 runs scored from the leadoff spot which isn't really that great on a team with Outlaw's offense. Grade: C

Nellie Cruz:
Injuries limited him to 395 AB, 13 HR, 59 runs scored and 58 RBI. Grade: C

Jutin Masterson:
8-5, 3.95. Better than expected in limited duty in his rookie campaign. Grade: C-

Joakim Soria:
31 saves, but a 3.62 ERA and a .795 save % are sub-par for the Mexicutioner and blowing a save in the potentially decisive game 6 of the LCS doesn't help. Grade: C-

Jason Bay:
Age, injuries, and a cavernous ballpark are not a good combination for an ex-slugger. Will he be back? Grade:D

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

One year removed from only being able to muster 61 victories, the 2011 report card is out on DFW season. Good news- DFW won 17 more games and went from 61 wins to 78 wins Bad news- DFW only won 78 games. Good news- DFW finished 2nd in the West. Bad news- They finished 32 behind. Good news- DFW took a full run off its team era. Bad news- DFW still gave up 182 dingers. Good news- DFW raised its road record to 39-42. Bad news news- DFW home record was 39-42. Question- What is the definition of home field advantage? Good news- DFW will protect 4 of the 5 rookies they drafted in 2011 Bad news- Will the rookies suffer a sophomore slump? The answer is not 'maybe' it will be a definite 'yes & when'!

I want to say 'Congrats' to the NASBL Champ LVI who defeated TRY. Thanks to manager Ken Anderson Jr. who is building TRY into a winner like his Uncle Bill did when he took over PCM. Now the NASBL has another Mr. Anderson to worry about. Now I hear "'Mr. Anderson'....'Mr. Anderson' in my head and I wake up saying, 'my name isn't 'Neo'." Thanks guys I appreciate that!

One last thing- it looks like 'My 2 Cents' will be back in print after Thanksgiving!

Chows trade 2 for 1 and bolster Rotation

Illinois Times -- In another signal the Chows are going for it this season, Illinois made a trade for Jason Vargas. Illinois dealt Max Scherzer and Jonathan Lucroy in the deal.

"Jason is a solid SP that can eat some innings for us. He has good splits vs. both sides which make him a better option next year than Scherzer. With Suzuki and Lucroy we had extra depth behind the plate. We still like Suzuki and it might not have made sense to keep both guys. This gives us a little more flexibility in the draft needing one less SP. We really didn't think Scherzer was ready to pitch for a contender, but could not see giving up on him without getting a return."

In 2011 Scherzer set the Chows franchise record for strikeouts with 240 but also tied the team record loss total with 18.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Outlaw All-Time RBI Leaders

Twenty-one years of Outlaw All-Time RBI leaders, from 1991 to 2011 including the predecessor NASBL Cleveland Indians and San Diego Padres:
  1. 1604, Manny Ramirez, 1995-2011
  2. 1156, Albert Belle, 1992-2001
  3. 634, Omar Vizquel, 1996-2011
  4. 553, Kenny Lofton, 1993-2001
  5. 526, Tony Gwynn, 1994-2000

Friday, November 11, 2011

A New NASBL World Champion is Crowned!!!

Troy, NY: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." Charles Dickens couldn't have said it any better. After a trilling and exciting 110 win season, the Troy Haymakers could not stop the powerful Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, who win the NASBL World Series in 6 games. It was a great series, set up by an epic game 1 that set the tone for the rest of the games.

Game 1: Josh Johnson vs Brett Myers. Troy started the series off with Joey Bats belting a 3-run homer in the bottom of the first. The Iron Pigs hit 3 solo shots off Myers to tie the game by the third inning and jumped ahead by the 6th by a score of 7-5. Troy valiantly battled back in the 7th and 8th to tie the game at 7. In the 10th inning, Jason Werth hit a 2-run blast off Huston Street to take the lead and Wagner held on in the bottom of the 10th to pick up the victory. Werth, who hit .230 with 6 homeruns for Lehigh Valley as a mid season pickup, shows his worth by belting 2 homeruns in the game.

Game 2: Clay Buchholz vs Francisco Liriano. The Iron Pigs jump to an early 4-0 lead, but the Haymakers battle back and take the lead thanks to some well placed hits by David Murphy. Troy takes the lead in the 5th and holds on for a 6-4 victory.

Game 3: Chris Carpenter vs John Lester. The series moves to Lehigh Valley where the Iron Pigs jump out again to an early 3-0 lead. They would add another run in the 4th off Carpenter, and it was enough to hold on to the victory. Lester scatters 4 hits and 5 walks over 6 and a third and the bullpen closed the door on Troy. David Murphy came up big with a pinch hit 2 RBI single in the seventh, but it wasn't enough as Lehigh Valley wins 4-3 and takes a 2-1 series lead.

Game 4: John Garland vs Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda and the Iron Pigs bullpen throw a gem of a game, scattering 6 hits and only giving up 1 run as Lehigh Valley coasts to a 4-1 victory. Jason Werth hits a big 2-run homer early in the game to set the pace.

Game 5: Madison Bumgarner vs Josh Johnson. The Iron Pigs fans smell blood as they hope their team can win on their home turf, but young phenom and emergency starter Madison Bumgarner baffle the Lehigh Valley bats. Bumgarner and Guerrier combine for a 9 hit shutout as the Haymaker bats score 4 in the 5th and 5 in the 8th to force the series back to Troy.

Game 6: Clay Buchholz vs Francisco Liriano. The excited Haymaker fans were quickly quieted in the second inning when the Iron Pigs plated 4 runs. It proved to be all Buchholz would need as he and Soriano combine for a 6 hit shutout; and send over 50,000 fans to their local watering holes to cry in their beers and exclaim, "Wait 'til next year!"

Congrats to Kevin and his great team on winning the NASBL World Series!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

TG Division Series Game 7

The network sponsors were thrilled that this series went 7 games. Oh the drama, the building excitement, the marketing possibilities....

All of their hopes were dashed with a game 7 blowout. Outlaw could not muster any offense against IronPig starter Clay Buchholtz who pitched a complete game 4 hit shutout in the deciding game of the series.

Evan Longoria collected 2 extra-base hits and had 3 RBI as the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, running on all cylinders, ripped the Outlaw Josey Wales by a large 10 to 0 margin.

After the game, Outlaw manager Mark Hildebrant was proud of the accomplishments of his team in 2011. They exceeded expectations and were 2 outs away from a World Series appearance. They set team records for wins and were a joy to manage. They are looking forward to next season and will continue to be a force to be reckoned with.

Best wishes to the IronPigs in the NASBL World Series against the powerful Troy Haymakers. Las Vegas oddsmakers have Troy listed as prohibitive favorites in the series. Stay tuned (or the network execs will send telemarketers after you).

TG Division Series Game 6

The IronPigs salvaged their season with a 9th inning rally against Outlaw closer Joakim Soria. The IronPigs entered the 9th trailing by a score of 4-3.

Robinson Cano lead off the 9th with a single and Chris Heisey singled him to third. 3b Evan Longoria (no relation to Eva) grounded out and advanced Heisey to second. The situation was 1 out, man on 2nd and 3rd trailing by one run in the elimination game (the network sponsors were pleased). Pinch hitter Jonathan Herrera stepped to the plate and delivered the hit that sent the PigPen into a frenzy.

Rafael Soriano picked up the victory, allowing no runs in 2 innings. Joakim Soria was the losing pitcher in relief.

The IronPigs manager was asked after the game, why he picked Herrera, a benchwarmer, to bat in that situation. He shrugged his shoulders and said, "it was just a hunch".

A dejected Mark Hildebrant was heard to say after the game, "I have a bad feeling about game 7. Their bats are due to come alive".

TG Division Series Game 5

Outlaw Josey Wales took a 3-2 series lead behind a strong relief effort by Jonny Venters. The lefthander pitched a strong 4-1/3 innings giving up a single, unearned run and gathered the win.

Third baseman Adrian Beltre blasted a homerun and had 3 RBI at Wreckin' So Field as the Outlaw Josey Wales beat the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs by the count of 4 to 3.

Outlaw drew first blood jumping out to an early lead in the first inning when they tallied 2 runs on 2 hits. The key at-bat was by Beltre who made the crowd happy when he lifted one out of the park for a two run home run.

Network executives were satisfied that the underdog was now leading the series which should lead to better viewing in game 6.

TG Division Series Game 4

Outlaw bats came alive in game 4 and scored enough runs to support started Tim Hudson to even the series at 2 games apiece.

Elvis Andrus had 2 base hits as the Outlaw Josey Wales defeated the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs by the score of 4 to 2 at Wreckin' So Field.

Tim Hudson atoned for game 1 and gave Outlaw a solid outing. He went 8 and 2/3 innings surrendering 5 hits and 2 walks. Lehigh Valley had a chance to come back in the 9th but they came up short. 2b Robinson Cano went deep in the 9th to make the game cosmetically close, but the network executives were still not satisfied.

TG Division Series Game 3

In a lop-sided win the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs ripped the Outlaw Josey Wales by a 7 to 2 count to take a 2-1 series lead. IronPig rookie starter Clay Buchholtz was dominant giving up a single run in 6-2/3 innings of work.

Outfielder Chris Heisey had a big evening at the plate. He lofted a three-run bomb in the 1st inning, doubled in the 3rd inning and laced a base-hit in the 5th inning. Both teams ended up with 9 hits on the night.

Network executives were disappointed with the lopsided victory. They requested that the series become more compelling. Stay tuned....