Thursday, December 31, 2015

Gearing Up for 2016

Thanks to all my readers for all of your wonderful support. It's been awhile since my last blog piece, due to the wife & I, moving into our new place. The new apartment is great by the way, spacious & beautiful, we honestly feel like we are being spoiled.

God has been too good to us, believe me, I am not complaining... but definitely feeling blessed. About three weeks ago, we were not sure if we would have a place to live, we (Becky & I) have always been solid together, but we all have to lean on the Lord from time to time, and he definitely heard our prayers.

So much to look forward in this upcoming year of 2016 -- from APBA projects to upcoming tournaments, and finally meeting some of my APBA friends face-to-face at these upcoming tournaments are definitely part of the highlights to come. Feeling truly blessed, to have such wonderful friends through the wonderful games of baseball & APBA, and to read about their APBA passions as well, is definitely an awesome experience to see day-to-day on Facebook.

My friends - Doug Schuyler, Rich Zawadzki & myself in Woodstock (Chicago). 
A few years ago, I was so happy to know that I wasn't the only one that is so geeked out on APBA!
Many of us have become close, despite where we live or where we come from, we have a lot of respect for one another, and we have each others backs... Many of my APBA friends have lent their emotional support on deep personal matters, and that means the world to me.

Sure... we can have our debates, but that's because we are like brothers, we are all part of one gigantic APBA family, and our APBA blood runs thick.

Group photo of everyone at the GMABT (Jackson, MI).

I had the wonderful privilege of going to a Greater Michigan APBA Baseball Tournament in Jackson, MI, with my biological brother Christopher. My 1917 Chicago White Sox did not do so good, Chris on the other hand took the 2006 Detroit Tigers to the championship game, where they lost to the 1937 New York Yankees.

I will be returning to Jackson in March this upcoming year, in which I will be bringing the 1993 Atlanta Braves, my favorite Braves team of the bunch. I will also be returning to the Chicago area for the Summer Fantasy World Series in July -- In this tournament, you get to pick a team, and then add any player from that franchise's history to be a guest star on the team, so I am going with the 1987 Detroit Tigers, featuring Magglio Ordonez's 2007 season card. Both tournaments should be lots of fun!

I plan to make my rounds eventually to all of the wonderful tournaments sprouting up, I wish my APBA friends safe tournament travels this upcoming year....

and a Happy New Years!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Coming to a Galaxy Near You...



Plenty going on as of late, the wife and I have excellent news...

We will have a roof over our heads, and it will be in the new apartment complex that has finally opened, we signed our lease back on Monday. With all the arrangements towards moving, and preparing for it, you will not see much action on this blog site.

Be patient, let your feelings go, feel the flow of the force through you, and the blog will return with new articles in a galaxy near you.

For now, enjoy all these Star Wars pics, now that the new movie is around the corner.

My custom-made Han Solo card that I created a couple years ago.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Alternate 1993 at AS Break

Clemens has been grounded for most part in 93' -- until departing for more pleasant scenery at break.

The Alternate 1993 Project continues on...

To give you an idea of the pennant races, I will add pics of the standings as the season went on.



In early June (above), you can see that even the 5th place Boston Red Sox were playing pretty well at a .566 clip, while four teams were over .600. The American League West of course, was more deluded with Chicago leading the division at around 42 wins at this time.

Then came June 25th, and the Cleveland Indians started rolling, while the Tigers started sliding. The Tigers would eventually lose 8 straight here.


At the All-Star Break, this is where both leagues stand....



The Chicago White Sox start to stretch that division lead, breaking away from the Kansas City Royals. The Texas Rangers have dealt with injuries to their rotation, otherwise they would be more of a factor -- They picked up Armando Reynoso prior to the season (due to the Colorado Rockies not existing) and he made the rotation more stable, but have since traded him at the All-Star break to the Cleveland Indians.

The Indians suddenly buyers, acquired Cal Eldred from the low-functioning Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers also traded Jesse Orosco away for P-Allen Watson & a 3rd Round Draft Selection. Milwaukee added Mark Clark, a couple vets & a 1st Round Draft Selection, not to mention the fact that the Brewers are in for a solid pick at the end of the season.

The way the draft works is that it will have the players from the expansion teams (Colorado & Florida) and the players cut from other rosters, basically a free agent draft. Now, players such as Jeff Conine (who's with the Tigers) & Joe Girardi (Braves) will stay with those teams until their actual expansion team stints end, I want to say Conine's contract is through 1998 & Joe Girardi's is through the end of 1995.. Once those stints end, they go to the actual team they were with that year, so Girardi will be joining the New York Yankees in 1996.

The expansion team players in the 1994 free agent draft is new players that were not drafted from the 1994 teams, for example 1995 will be a big draft with Larry Walker (who joined Colorado in 1995) will be a free agent & probably the top selection -- which means early teams with a shot at him, would most likely be teams such as the Pittsburgh Pirates, Milwaukee Brewers, and San Diego Padres.

Here is the mid-season trades that went down, with one major blockbuster. I will explain these trades in more depth afterwards, keep in mind, that I tried for most part to trade as if I don't know what will happen in future on some of these. Some people would argue that the Brewers would get more for Jesse Orosco....

A) Orosco actually only has about 20 quality innings left for the season, so his worth to the Cards is not as big as it seems, he is also only under contract through 1994, then he would join his actual club in Baltimore in 1995.

B) Allen Watson, who the Brewers acquired will give the Brewers, who are in need of rotation pitchers some innings the next few years. Plus Milwaukee gets a 3rd Round draft selection, basically a prospect or vet signing to the mix.

The Cardinals only made the Orosco deal, which is strange considering they are on the Philadelphia Phillies' tail. The Cards have an excellent future, and don't want to break the bank, they just called up reliever Paul Kilgus, who is a grade 24*-X and has 28.2 innings or more to use. They flirted with the idea of making a deal for Gary Sheffield of the Los Angeles Dodgers, which Bernard Gilkey & possibly Ray Lankford were both involved, but they have Lankford through almost 2000, and the combination of those two players with Gregg Jefferies (currently batting .402) and Todd Zeile have the Cardinals wanting to stay put. Their starting pitching isn't great, they added Pat Rapp prior to the season, who's only perk was innings. St. Louis might make a small deal later....

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Phillies, since they had a rough 1992, picked a valuable Bryan Harvey up for the season. Harvey was made closer, at first I thought of using him as a great set-up man for Mitch Williams... then realized that Harvey should be closer, this left Mitch even out of a set-up role, due to David West's strong 1993 season. Mitch has been in limbo, and as the All-Star break approached and as the Phillies watched some pennant chasers pick up some starting pitching, the Phillies called Houston & made a deal for Mark Portugal, who hits the free agent market at season's end. Houston gets Mitch Williams, along with Ben Rivera & infielder Alex Arias, who will be under contract through 1997 -- he provides good infield depth; Mitch ends up with Astros in 1994 anyways, so now he's under contract through 1994. The Astros would also deal reliever Xavier Hernandez for OF momentarily bench help in Bob Zupcic & a 3rd Round Draft selection,

TRANSACTIONS

  • The Milwaukee Brewers trade RP-Jesse Orosco to the St.Louis Cardinals in exchange for P-Allen Watson & 3rd Round Draft Selection.
  • The Cleveland Indians trade 2B-Jeff Treadway, RP-Heathcliff Slocumb, SP-Mark Clark & a 1st Round Draft Selection & 3rd Round Draft Selection to the Milwaukee Brewers for SP-Cal Eldred.
  • The Toronto Blue Jays trade RP-Mike Timlin, P-Woody Williams & their 1st Round Draft Selection to the Los Angeles Dodgers for SP-Tom Candiotti & their 3rd Round Draft Selection.
  • The Baltimore Orioles trade 3B-Leo Gomez, OF-Sherman Obando & IF-Manny Alexander to the San Francisco Giants for OF-Darren Lewis.
  • The Detroit Tigers trade SP-John Doherty, OF-Danny Bautista, P-Mike Gardiner, RP-Buddy Groom & their 1st Round Draft Selection to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for SP-Frank Viola.
  • The Philadelphia Phillies trade RP-Mitch Williams, SP-Ben Rivera & IF-Alex Arias to the Houston Astros in exchange for SP-Mark Portugal.
  • The Boston Red Sox trade RP-Jeff Russell to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for RP-Mike Stanton, C-Greg Olson & Atlanta's 2nd Round Draft Selection.
  • The Chicago White Sox trade RP-Scott Radinsky to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for RP-Carl Willis.
  • The Houston Astros trade RP-Xavier Hernandez to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for OF-Bob Zupcic & Boston's 3rd Round Draft Selection. 
  • The Cleveland Indians trade 1B/DH-Paul Sorrento to the Texas Rangers in exchange for SP-Armando Reynoso, RP-Gene Nelson & P-Brian Bohanon.
  • The Boston Red Sox trade SP-Roger Clemens, 1B-Mo Vaughn & Boston's 1st Round Draft Selection (for 1995 Draft) to the California Angels in exchange for SP-Chuck Finley, SP-Mark Langston & 1B-J.T. Snow.
  • The Atlanta Braves trade OF-Deion Sanders to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for OF-Roberto Kelly.
Now let's go to all the Boston Red Sox activity, the Red Sox headed into the break as sellers, but ended up as buyers with some excellent retooling for the future.

As I started the 1993 season, I looked over at the Boston roster, and went ughhhh...

Nothing exciting, Andre Dawson looks confused in an American League outfield, while Rob Deer is well-beyond his better Brewers years, plus Frank Viola is aging. So when the free agent draft came about they got speedster Eric Young and added vet Daryl Boston for pop & depth to the roster. Boston during the season got with 6 games of division lead, and now fell back to 12 games back... 

Boston's projected lineup prior to alternate 1993 season.
Boston's bench, rotation & bullpen.

The Detroit Tigers gave them two bullpen arms for next year (Buddy Groom and Mark Gardiner) and rotation help for this season at least in John Doherty (nothing special), but landed a 1st Round Draft Selection which will help, along with outfielder Danny Bautista, all for starting pitcher Frank Viola. 

The Atlanta Braves meanwhile, could use another bullpen arm, end up inquiring about closer Jeff Russell, who is under contract with Boston through 1994, but his only worth is the 93' season (since he is so-so in 1994). Boston has only Tony Pena behind the plate, and the Braves are not currently using Greg Olson, due to the addition of Joe Girardi before the season to go along with Damon Berryhill. Even though, Olson is done after 1993, he is productive enough to help with catching duties, definitely a step up from current backup -- Plus, Boston adds reliever Mike Stanton and another draft selection (Atlanta's 2nd Round Draft Selection) -- Boston would turn around and acquire Xavier Hernandez from Houston for cheap, who has same relief grade as Russell. 

Then things got really interesting, I looked at Roger Clemens with his Grade 6-X (worst in his career, or at least for sure at this point), and I started thinking about how Dan Duquette was probably festering over there in the corner & the fact that him & Roger hated each other. I looked at Boston's roster and thought... who can I package with Clemens that would bring in quite a bit, and at the same time make Boston not selling, but retooling with a shot at this season still?

I then fell onto the California Angels, what if Boston can land two big starting pitchers, and have them under contract for some time. Enter Chuck Finley & Mark Langston, Finley will be under contract through 1999, then I believe he joins Cleveland in 2000... while Langston will be under contract through 1997. 

It's a gutsy move, especially since Mo Vaughn is the other piece being sent to California. As we all know, California had Finley, Langston & later Ken Hill, but not much else in rotation for the rest of the decade -- but now they have value to trade down the road to get the pitching back & more. The Angels will have almost all of Mo Vaughn's great part of his early career (this time). Prior to the season they also signed Vinny Castilla, so his value only will go up.  Plus adding Mo Vaughn & Castilla to a lineup that will feature Tim Salmon, Darin Erstad, Garret Anderson, Jim Edmonds, among others... Yowzers!

Sure, Clemens is only under contract through end of 1996, and they will be better years than 1993, but still on the downside 94'-96'; By the way, teams can bid for the players to resign with their team, if they trade players of that new team's liking -- For example, if the Angels can package some players or make the deal sweet for the Blue Jays in 1997, Clemens could stay in Anaheim; The Angels due to this trade, now have plenty of flexibility from now until then. 

The Red Sox and Angels swap first basemen in Vaughn and J.T. Snow. Snow brings glove to first for Boston, they will focus to make the team built on defense & pitching. Their starting pitchers for remainder of season will be Finley, Langston & Danny Darwin, plus a little left in the tank for Aaron Sele to make a push late in this season actually, while retooling the future. Eventually John Valentin & Nomar Garciaparra will blossom, and make this incarnation of Boston very interesting, and definitely more pleasant to watch.

Plus how does this trade look, involving WAR?

BOSTON
SP- Chuck Finley (through 1999) - 27.2
SP- Mark Langston (through 1997) - 9.8
1B- J.T. Snow (through 1996) - (neg 1.0)

CALIFORNIA
SP- Roger Clemens (through 1996) - 16.9
1B/DH- Mo Vaughn (through 2000) - 23.7
*Boston sends 1st Round Draft Selection for 1995 Draft

Boston's package is worth 40.6 WAR to California's 36.9; Boston gets more of the impact up front adding two B-Starters for this season to a pennant race, and the long contracts for Finley & Langston. Angels have a void in pitching for rest of decade, so that's where Boston throws in 1995's 1st Round Selection. Angels have plenty of time to acquire pitching to make the deal worth it, while Boston holds onto their 1st Round for 1994, plus the one that they acquired from Detroit, along with two 2nd Round selections (theirs & Atlanta's). 

So for Boston....

OUT
SP- Roger Clemens
SP- Frank Viola
1B/DH- Mo Vaughn
RP- Jeff Russell
OF-Bob Zupcic
1st Round Draft Selection (1995)
3rd Round Draft Selection (1994)


IN
SP- Chuck Finley
SP- Mark Langston
1B- J.T. Snow
RP- Xavier Hernandez
RP- Mike Stanton
SP- John Doherty
C- Greg Olson
OF- Danny Bautista
RP- Buddy Groom
RP- Mark Gardiner
1st Round Draft Selection (Detroit - 1994)
2nd Round Draft Selection (Atlanta - 1994)

The future looks better for both franchises in the aftermath.

Now back to the last couple of deals...

Atlanta trades Deion Sanders to the Cincinnati Reds for Roberto Kelly. Getting a case of deja vu? Indeed, this actual deal would go down in late May 1994 between the two franchises. The other trade may make Giants fans scratch their head, Darren Lewis was traded to Baltimore for Leo Gomez, Sherman Obando & Manny Alexander. The thing is Darren Lewis was sitting on bench & minors due to the Giants pickup of Chuck Carr prior to the season -- it was not a move to help the Giants now, but gives them flexibility in the future -- having Leo Gomez playing third (15 HR & .868 OPS in 1994 / 17 HR & .775 OPS in 1996), in case the Giants want to unload Matt Williams early, who is only under contract with Giants through 1996.

Tom Candiotti, returns to the Toronto Blue Jays in a trade that sent reliever Mike Timlin and pitcher Woody Williams to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Candiotti will help head the rotation this season, while stabilizing it the next few seasons; The Dodgers add bulk to the bullpen for a few years, plus a starter at end of the contract in Williams. 

... and that is all for now.

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Big, Bad East (BoS Update)

My team logo for the Panthers.
I have not done a post on my Boys of Summer APBA Baseball League for some time, and here is the latest. We enter this weekend, a game up on Thomas Nelshoppen's Urbana Locomotives, and about 5 games up on the Steve Ruder's Holland Hitchhikers; All three teams have high playoff hopes, the fact of the matter only two will advance into the postseason.

Not to toot my own horn, but entering the season I believe that with my acquisition of Miguel Cabrera and the fact that my pitching staff, lineup & bullpen was pretty solid, I would say that others believed we were division favorites as well. I knew I put together a good team, and know that if I want to win it all, I need to put a team together to battle back-to-back National League Champions - Portland Microbrewers, and be able to hang defeat the American League powers to be, in case I get that far, to the World Series.

What I did not know is that the division race was going to be this tough, I kind of knew that I would have to worry about Holland, but maybe I & the entire league underestimated Urbana. Urbana really has that 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers thing going on, they do have the pitching, but their team is only batting .216, but Tom has his team playing great baseball and that's where it counts.

That is what's great about APBA Baseball and baseball in general, anything is possible, and what Urbana is doing is really not the impossible. I really did think that this year would be very close among the whole league, maybe 2 bad teams, and 2-3 stellar teams, but the middle not too far behind the top, or too far ahead the bottom -- lots of parity I expected.

This league has watched teams go through phases this season, losing & winning, and even though there is 3, maybe 4 teams pulling away from the pack, that top echelon has not been perfect. For the most part the same three teams have been at the top of the BoS Power Rankings- Portland, Chicago & Traverse City.

Now I hope people are not offended in my league with me doing a article at where my team is sitting, this is my APBA blog though, and this blog reports on my APBA activity; Being the commissioner, I feel guilty at times for writing such a post, but I'm doing this post more as a competitive team owner or manager, who believes in his team, so I guess I'm giving this article in that perspective.

My upcoming series are as follows:
vs SAN DIEGO (6 games)
at Kingsley (5 games, who are 8-7 against me for the season)
at Urbana (5 games)
vs URBANA (6 games)
at Holland (5 games)

First up in this stretch is against my brother Christopher's team in the San Diego Heroes, who acquired Yasiel Puig, the player I drafted 1st overall in the 2014 Annual BoS Draft. Puig won N.L. Rookie of the Year for my Panthers, and helped us make the playoffs for the very first time. He was then traded just before the 2015 BoS Draft in the trade that brought Miguel Cabrera over from Chicago.

Game 1

Adam Wainwright pitched a two-hit shutout in Game 1, to defeat San Diego 2-0. Giancarlo Stanton's solo HR (his 28th HR of the season) in the bottom of the 8th, gave the Panthers more breathing room.

Game 2

The Panthers scored 2 runs on 2 errors by the San Diego Heroes in the first, but San Diego bounces back with the long-ball -- Julio Teheran gives up 4 long balls and surrenders 7 runs inside 4 innings. The Heroes put on a 10-5 whooping; Dalton Pompey (Panthers prospect) hits two-run pinch-hit HR in the 9th in his very first at-bat of his BoS career. San Diego's Dioner Navarro went 3-for-4, with 3 RBI & 2 HR's. 

Game 3

After 3 innings of quiet offense by either team, Nelson Cruz breaks the game open a bit with two HRs (both off Henderson Alvarez) in between the 4th & 6th innings to give San Diego a 4-0 lead. 

During the bottom of the 6th, Panthers would load the bases with no outs, but then would fail to score anyone in. The frustrating Alex Cobb came into relief & gave up his 23rd HR of the season (Lucas Duda's 9th HR of the season); Cobb in real life gave up 11 HR in 166+ innings -- For me, he gave up 23 HR's now in only 112 innings! Cobb's ERA sits at 5.54.

San Diego wins. 6-1

Game 4

The Panthers were holding a 3-2 lead until Nelson Cruz struck again, with a two-run off blast off of reliever Tyler Clippard. The Panthers would tie the game with an RBI pinch-hit double by Wilmer Flores, scoring in pinch-runner Adam Rosales, at 4-4 in the 7th. 

With runners on 1st & 2nd, in the bottom of the 9th, Miguel Cabrera delivers a walk-off three-run HR off of reliever Hector Rondon -- Panthers win! Series now tied 2-2; Panthers want to win the last two games & give themselves an extra game over Urbana (Urbana and Portland's series results are in, and both split 3-3).

Game 5

Panthers getting frustrated trying to find answers as Corey Kluber for the second start in a row, fails at reaching his 20th win & has lost his second straight outing (19-4 now). Wade Davis even gets roughed up in a non-save situation, as the team loses 7-2.

Game 6

Adam Wainwright allowed a two-run HR to Edwin Encarnacion, as the Panthers found themselves down, 2-0 after the top of the 4th. Traverse City grinds back, led by Miguel Cabrera's three hits (RBI) & two-run single by Jason Castro. Wade Davis is a bit sloppy, but holds on for his 36th save of the season.

*** By the way, another league note, the Corktown Tamales' rookie Jose Abreu currently leads all three triple crown categories: .312 batting average, 36 HR & 90 RBI with 27 games remaining. ***

Abreu's 2015 BoS Baseball card.




Thursday, December 3, 2015

2007 ALCS (Games 1 & 2)

The Detroit Tigers came back from a 0-2 series deficit to overtake the Los Angeles Angels. Now they will have to face a tougher ballclub in the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox made quick work of the New York Yankees, by sweeping them 3-0 in the ALDS.

GAME 1 - ALCS
Detroit at Boston

The Detroit Tigers will send out young ace Justin Verlander (B-X / 16-8, 3.61 ERA & 208 K's) to face off against Boston's Josh Beckett (B-XZ / 20-7, 3.27 ERA & 194 K's). Both pitchers are coming off shutouts in the Divisional Series.

The Tigers strike first, after a two-out, walk to Magglio Ordonez in the first, Gary Sheffield hits a single to right, advancing Ordonez to third; Sheffield steals second. With runners on second & third, Placido Polanco scores both runners in on a single. Tigers lead 2-0.

J.D. Drew celebrating his home run in the 5th.

Bottom of the 2nd - Kevin Youkilis continues his great post-season with a lead-off double; Mike Lowell would score in Youkilis for Boston's first run, with a single to left. J.D. Drew's double moves Lowell to third base, while Julio Lugo hits a sac fly to tie the game at 2-2. Dustin Pedroia's RBI single, scoring in Drew, gives Boston a 3-2 lead.

Boston adds to their lead, with a RBI double by Youkilis in the 4th, and a solo HR by Drew in the 5th -- giving the Red Sox a 5-2 lead.

The Tigers could only manage 5 hits against Beckett; 3 of those 5 hits from Placido Polanco (all singles). The Tigers threaten in the 9th, with bases loaded & one out -- but Jonathan Papelbon (in a non-save situation) makes sure that the Red Sox walk away with the victory.

Beckett delivers another great outing, going 8.1 innings, allowing only 4 hits and 2 runs, with 7 K's and 3 walks. Verlander, on the other hand, allows 7 hits & 5 runs with 6 walks in only 4.2 innings, with 7 K's.

BOSTON RED SOX 6
DETROIT TIGERS 2

Boston's 5 thru 7 hitters in the lineup collect 6 of their 10 hits.

GAME 2 - ALCS
Detroit at Boston

The Detroit Tigers go with Nate Robertson for Game 2, saving Jeremy Bonderman for Games 3 & 6, if necessary; Plus Bonderman pitched in recent Game 5 of ALDS. Robertson (C / 12-12, 4.84 ERA & 104 K's) will match up against Japanese import Daisuke Matsuzaka (C-X / 15-12, 4.40 ERA & 201 K's).

The Tigers once again score first, this time in the 2nd Inning on a RBI single by Sean Casey; Carlos Guillen (double) scores from second.

Man on Fire: Youkilis has shown no signs of cooling off anytime soon.

The Red Sox put together another three-spot, this time in the bottom of the 3rd, with a three-run homer by Kevin Youkilis, who already had a double this game. Youklis, is currently batting .571 this post-season (8-for-14, with 5 doubles, HR & 8 RBI) -- he would go hitless in last two at-bats of this game; Great numbers in just four games.

The Tigers down 4-1, threaten in the 9th once again, with RBI double by Ramon Santiago; Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon locks down the save for the Red Sox victory. Another good outing by a Red Sox starting pitcher in Matsuzaka: 6 innings, 5 hits, 1 ER, 5 K & BB.

BOSTON RED SOX 4
DETROIT TIGERS 2

The Tigers once again find it difficult to score runs, as they have failed to score in 15 of the 18 innings, during these first two games.

Happy Holidays!

I have plenty of posts coming your way, Boys of Summer fans on all my latest APBA projects, plus the latest Major League Baseball news with the recent big signings.

May your family have the best & safest holiday season -- from my family to yours. We may not have snow here, but I am keeping myself warm rollin' 66's.



Happy Holidays!
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