Sunday, December 31, 2017

81' Tigers Keep Rolling in May

Tigers' closer has 9 Saves through 40 games.

My 1981 Detroit Tigers keep rolling through the month of May, as they are now 28-12 through their first 40 games of the season -- 16-5 during the month of May.

The Tigers just got done splitting a four-game series with the Baltimore Orioles, meaning the Orioles could not gain any ground on the first-place Tigers.

Here's a look at the A.L. East Standings...

  • Detroit Tigers (28-12) - Won 1, +82 scoring differential.
  • Baltimore Orioles (24-14), 3 GB - Lost 1, +38 scoring differential.
  • Cleveland Indians (21-13), 4 GB - +17 scoring differential.
  • Milwaukee Brewers (22-17), 5.5 GB, +18 scoring differential.
  • Boston Red Sox (22-18), 6 GB, -2 scoring differential.
  • New York Yankees (19-20), 8.5 GB, + 6 scoring differential.
  • Toronto Blue Jays (12-30), 17 GB, -48 scoring differential.
and the A.L. West Standings...
  • Oakland Athletics (28-17)
  • Texas Rangers (21-17), 3.5 GB
  • Chicago White Sox (20-17), 4 GB
  • California Angels (20-24), 7.5 GB
  • Kansas City Royals (12-21), 10 GB
  • Seattle Mariners (13-27), 12.5 GB
  • Minnesota Twins (12-27), 13 GB
The Tigers just finished a 12-game home stretch & now will start their road trip with a 4-game series in Milwaukee; The Brewers will be a tough match-up, and are looking to climb the division standings.

Due to the recent double-header against the Baltimore Orioles, the Tigers have to do an emergency start with Aurelio Lopez against Milwaukee's Jim Slaton; Lopez has a perfect ERA in 22.1 scoreless innings.

The Detroit Tigers' bullpen has been stellar, allowing a combined 13 earned runs in 86.1 innings this season, making a lean 1.36 ERA.
  • Kevin Saucier: 3-0, 2.08 ERA, 9 SV, 19 K, 7 BB & .692 WHIP in 26 innings.
  • Dave Tobik: 3-2, 1.66 ERA, 1 SV, 9 K, 9 BB & .816 WHIP in 38 innings.
  • Aurelio Lopez: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 16 K, 6 BB & .627 WHIP in 22.1 innings.
The lineup slumped as of recent, with their team batting average dropping from .273 to .267, but that has not stopped Lance Parrish's powerful bat, as he has clobbered 15 HR & 33 RBI during his first 40 games. 

The team is rolling in all areas, as their team pitching ERA is only 2.47 to go along with their respectable hitting.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Tigers off to 24-10 start (1981 Tigers Replay)

Tom Brookens playing the Hot Corner for Detroit.
My Detroit Tigers are off to an excellent start during our 1981 Detroit Tigers Season Replay (24-10) compared to real-life 16-18 start.

The team is doing well with the bat (.273 batting average) and on the mound (2.35 ERA). The top five hitters in our lineup (Whitaker, Trammell, Kemp, Parrish & Gibson) are strong, especially Steve Kemp (.338 BA, 2 HR & 21 RBI) who has an amazing .443 On-Base Percentage (.924 OPS). Lance Parrish led the Tigers with 10 HR in 1981 through 109 games, he already has 13 HR for me, through only 34 games (which leads the team as well).

The biggest surprise on offense may be Tom Brookens, who already has 21 RBI for the Tigers (tied for 2nd on the team with Gibson); Brookens in real-life only had 25 RBI in all of 1981.

On the pitching side, Dan Petry finally lost his first game, as his record is now 6-1, with a 1.96 ERA with 45 strikeouts in 69 innings. Newly-named Hall of Famer Jack Morris (4-2, 2.41 ERA) has really settled down, while Milt Wilcox has now strung together a few wins to even up his record (4-4, 2.79 ERA). Dave Rozema (5-1, 3.65 ERA) has not pitched like a 'D' starter in APBA. 

The closer Kevin Saucier (2.49 ERA) leads the team with 8 Saves, while Aurelio Lopez (Grade C-Y in relief) has not allowed a single run in 21.1 innings yet.

The Tigers have won 8 of their last 10 games & has won 11 of their last 14 games, which included a season-high 6-game winning streak. The team is currently playing the Texas Rangers.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Happy Holidays!

I hope everyone's holidays will be a good one, although this time of year can be a great time for many families, it can also be a hectic one with emotions & stress levels on high. I hope this is not the case for many of my readers.

I have finally started rolling dice again (for APBA) -- the first time in at least three months. I rolled about 5-6 games the last two days, and have been continuing my 1981 Detroit Tigers project, we are 24-10 through 34 games... in comparison, the real Tigers were only 16-18 at this point.

There will be more about this project in the next week or so, until then....

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!


Not my home... LOL!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

2014 Detroit Tigers Preview (Out of the Park)

Scherzer to stay with Tigers through 2018 at least. 
So one of my few Out of the Park Developments projects, was trying to take the 2012 Detroit Tigers and the teams that followed to World Championship success.

2012 was safe to say, a disaster, I made all the moves necessary (featured in Daddy's Got a New Ride & Tigers Off to a Solid Start) for the 2013 season, and felt we made the right moves after rolling to a solid start, the first two months, but then the team slid to a 81-81 finish, falling a game short to the division champion Chicago White Sox (82-80).

So it was back to the drawing board, we started by making Max Scherzer, priority number one, for obvious reasons. I did not want to repeat the real Tigers mistakes, although in all fairness I have missed getting them to the playoffs completely, while the real-life Tigers made the playoffs from 2011-2014.

Scherzer, who was due for a raise via arbitration, I decided to jump quickly and extend his contract. Scherzer's camp came back wanting a 10-year deal worth $171,210,000 -- which was a no-brainer, getting Scherzer and his talent for $17.12 million per year is quite a deal, considering what other pitchers are making with less talent; He does have a player option, and could use that after the 2017 MLB Season. We have Max for 4 more seasons at least, and that makes me very happy.

Bullpen has been our serious problem (what a surprise), and we made all the steps necessary to correct that problem. We re-signed Jesse Crain, who did well for us in 2013, to a 2-yr deal worth a total of $5.2 million. Dellin Betances and Brandon Kintzler, are 2013 Rule 5 Picks are now full-time Detroit Tigers, and will only get better after awful 2013 seasons for us.

One of our biggest signings is bringing back Andrew Miller to the Tigers. Miller was drafted by the Tigers 6th overall in the 2006 MLB Amateur Draft, and was a huge trade piece to the Florida Marlins to acquire Miguel Cabrera; His first time in Detroit was an overall disappointment. He would become one of the game's absolute best relievers, so when I saw his relatively cheap price tag, I had to go for him -- We would land him for 5 years / $12.8 million ($2.56 million per year).

Back in the D: Andrew Miller returns to the Tigers for better time around.
We also brought back Joaquin Benoit, a move I thought I would not be able to do, I found that he was actually affordable at $6.7 million (over two seasons)... I also made this move due to bringing back a legit reliever, Betances is not quite ready (but likely will be next season) to become the closer, and I like Miller in the setup role, and plan to use him much in the way that the Cleveland Indians used him during the 2016 season.

This is how the bullpen plans to be played out...

  • Closer - Joaquin Benoit
  • Setup - Dellin Betances (8th inning)
  • Setup - Andrew Miller (7th or later)
  • Setup - Jesse Crain (6th Inning)
  • Brandon Kintzler (Middle Relief)
  • Al Alburquerque (Middle Relief)
  • Phil Coke (Left Hand Specialist)
  • RP - Luis Marte (Relief depth)
Before we get onto the other signings, I must mention some of the deals to help shed some payroll, starting with Jhonny Peralta; We traded Peralta ($17.2 million) to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for SS-Zack Cozart ($820,000) & a minor league reliever Tyler Burgoon

We knew we were going to sign a starting pitcher a bit cheaper than Doug Fister, and we felt we had a deal lined up that will save a little money while landing a prospect. I traded Fister to the Houston Astros, along with minor league RP-Ryan Woolley in exchange for Lance McCullers Jr. 

We decided to go for starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo, signing him to a 7-year deal worth $48.02 million ($6.86 million per year), hoping that he may take the player option after the 2016 MLB Season.

Gallardo joins the Tigers' rotation as the #3 starter. 
With this signing our rotation looks like this...
  • Max Scherzer 
  • Justin Verlander
  • Yovani Gallardo
  • Rick Porcello
  • Drew Smyly
Drew Smyly is likely the 5th starter, with Taylor Jungmann waiting in Toledo (Triple-A) possibly, I sometimes think Smyly may serve me better out of the pen, but the new bullpen makeover, I am not sure if I have room for him there. 

Moving Justin Verlander down to the #2 slot, might better my chances in match-ups, Scherzer is the better pitcher now, and should be the one facing other #1 aces.

I made some minor deals, starting with the one which involved all minor leaguers, sending OF-Steven Moya and RP-Jose Alvarez to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for OF-Mitch Haniger and RP-Nick Bucci. The other deal was with the Boston Red Sox in which we sent P-Drew VerHagen & minor league OF-Zack Kirksey in exchange for RP-Drake Britton.

I was almost done with free agency, until I glanced at my lineup....
  • 1. Devon Travis - 2B
  • 2. Nicholas Castellanos - 3B
  • 3. Miguel Cabrera - 1B
  • 4. Justin Upton - LF
  • 5. Kole Calhoun - RF
  • 6. Austin Jackson - CF
  • 7. Andy Dirks / Brennan Boesch - DH
  • 8. Zack Cozart - SS
  • 9. James McCann - C
In real-life Andy Dirks last played in MLB was during the 2013 MLB Season (due to back issues), with Out of the Park games, the computer can generate an alter reality, where a player may stick around longer, but his performance is still likely to decrease. I also had Brennan Boesch who was splitting time with Dirks as the designated hitter for Detroit, Boesch has stuck around longer (2015), but has not played full-time since 2012.

I felt that traded Peralta also has given my team one less power bat, my real bulk only being my 3-through-5 hitters in Miguel Cabrera, Justin Upton & Kole Calhoun (who just won the 2013 A.L. Rookie-of-the-Year Award for Detroit).

So I decided to go for Albert Pujols...

Albert Pujols
He may not be the powerful bat that he was with the St. Louis Cardinals, but he still provides a lot of bang at 33 years of age. He batted .280 with 31 home runs & 99 RBI for the 2013 World Champion Los Angeles Angels (who defeated the Washington Nationals, by the way), while him & his agent were demanding too much. We would sign him to a four-year contract worth $20.6 million ($5.15 million per year). 

So yes I did add some money back on the books, but I think it was well thought-out, I distributed the money in different areas that best fit the team. Extending Scherzer was a must, while trading away about $20 million in two players, while landing about 5 players for a bit more than that $20 million per year in Andrew Miller, Joaquin Benoit, Yovani Gallardo, Albert Pujols & Zack Cosart.

Our success didn't stop during free agency or with our trades, we did really well in the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft, by drafting pitcher Aaron Nola (1st Rd / 19th overall), shortstop Ozzie Albies (2nd Rd / 52nd), third baseman Rafael Devers (3rd Rd / 83rd), pitcher Brent Honeywell (4th Rd / 117th), pitcher Michael Kopech (5th Rd / 148th), outfielder Eloy Jimenez (6th Rd / 178th) & Michael Chavis (7th Rd / 208th). 

Monday, December 11, 2017

BoS Regular Season Comes to Wild End!

The 5th season of the Boys of Summer APBA Baseball League (BoS) came to a wild end, as we had our league's first tie-breaking Game #163. The King Road Kings forced a 163rd game, by winning their last game at home against the Seattle Rainiers, and had to play those same Rainiers for sole victory of the N.L. West Division; Both teams are going to continue in the postseason regardless of who wins.

Winning the game is a big deal though... not only a Division Championship is at stake, but a first-round bye... Whoever loses will have to play the N.L. East Division Winner (who happened to be the Traverse City Panthers at 82-80). Traverse City was a combined 8-16 against Seattle & King Road (5 of those from Seattle).

King Road had to play game #163 on the road, due to Seattle having more Home victories for the season; Both King Road and Seattle have 101 wins for the season.

Game #163 & N.L. Setup

King Road's J.A. Happ would get his 20th win of the season, by helping the Kings defeat the Rainiers, 6-1 in Seattle. Chase Headley was huge with a three-run HR during the top of the 1st off of Masahiro Tanaka. Justin Smoak (Kings) also had a home run, while Seattle could only muster up 5 hits against the Kings' great pitching.

King Road will have a 1st Round-bye, while Seattle will play the Panthers, while Panthers will host the first two games of the series at home.

American League Playoff Setup

Meanwhile, over in the American League, the South Side Spartans won the A.L. East Division with a 103-59 record, while the Fairgrove Tigers (93-69), the defending World Champions won the A.L. West Division; The two-time champion Tigers have shown vulnerabilities of late, after a strong start to the season. The Corktown Tamales (94-68) will play Fairgrove in a best-of-five, with Fairgrove (division champs always own home field-advantage, despite records).

Season Statistics

Panthers' Prowl

The Traverse City Panthers' offense is what carried them to the postseason, as they led both leagues in team Batting Average (.267), On-Base Percentage (tied at .326 with Vancouver), Slugging (.474), OPS (.800), Hits (1,524), Home Runs (253), Runs (846 / 5.2 RPG), while being effective stealing bases (82.4% - 2nd in N.L.).

Their pitching on the other hand, 2nd to last in the National League (4.70 ERA) while teams batted .262 against them, while their defense (.979 fielding pct) was in the bottom three of the BoS; They allowed 830 runs, while only having a run differential of +16 for the season, which resulted in 82 wins.

All Roads Lead through King Road?

King Road Kings topped the entire BoS in pitching (3.05 ERA) with their remarkable pitching staff (107 Quality Starts & 1,545 strikeouts), led by J.A. Happ (20-8, 3.23 ERA & 171 K) & Chris Sale (15-9, 3.17 ERA & 237 K)... Along with top rookie & 2017 1st Overall draft pick Michael Fulmer (17-6, 2.58 ERA & 148 K), Ervin Santana (11-12, 3.47 ERA & 184 K), while Rich Hill (8-6, 2.98 ERA & 152 K) & Clayton Kershaw (11-3, 2.95 ERA & 162 K) were both stellar in limited play this season.

The Kings held opponents to an impressively low .207 batting average... that's insane!

Some questioned if they should trade some pitching for offense, but their offense did just fine, ranking 2nd in the BoS in Batting Average (.266), while their 4.6 runs per game outranked 10 other teams.

If the team has a weakness, it would be their fielding (.981) which ranked 11th in the BoS, while it ranks the worst among playoff contenders, but with that stellar pitching & good offense, that may be all they need, as they plan to make a serious run for the BoS World Title.

The Legion of Boom

The Seattle Rainiers are no slouches, they lost Game #163, to finish 101-62. They were tied for 4th in Batting Average (.255) while their 237 HR & 835 Runs only trailed the Panthers in the BoS. They also were among the top in pitching (5th / 3.56 ERA), fielding (.985 - Tops among N.L. Playoff teams) & have a tough bullpen led by their closer Kenley Jansen (31 SV, 2.52 ERA)... They are pretty solid all across the board.

The team was once again led by their team leader Jose Altuve (.315, 22 HR, 94 RBI, 115 runs & 39 steals), with big help from Nelson Cruz (.247, 49 HR & 129 RBI); Cruz's 49 homers was tops in National League, as he spoiled Miguel Cabrera's Triple Crown bid.

Wil Myers also had a big year for Seattle, as he batted .283, 29 HR, 95 RBI with 23 steals -- while Kyle Hendricks (16-10, 3.39 ERA & 164 K) was pretty much the ace of the club.

The National League feels it might be their year to land a title, they have only one World Championship in the Portland Microbrewers.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Rough Flight: Year Two Mid-Season (Charlotte Aviators)

New Flight, Jones signs with Aviators.
After we narrowly avoided 100 wins during our expansion year (2018), I made the moves that I felt were necessary to move us in the right direction... or so I thought.

We only had room for $24 million in our budget for this upcoming 2019 season, so automatically we can forget going for the likes of a Clayton Kershaw and Paul Goldschmidt.

Instead we made four offers, and none of the signings were that of a superstar... Here was the following signings...
  • CF - Adam Jones - 2 yrs / $14 million ($7 m annually)
  • SP - Jason Hammel - 3 yrs / $13.2 million ($4.4 m annually) - with vesting option on his 3rd season (2021).
  • RP - Justin Wilson - 2 yrs / $14 million - $6 m for 1st season, with a player option on his 2020 Season ($8 million). 
  • 2B - DJ LeMahieu - 3 yrs / $17 million ($5 m / $6 m / $6 million player option in 2021). 
It's been no secret that Adam Jones has been declining in performance, but we felt signing him would bring a much-needed veteran presence with the young Aviators, he also still has a cannon of an arm (70 out of 80), I felt this was a much-needed upgrade from Tyler Collins & Jake Smolinski splitting time in center. I moved Taylor Motter to full-time rightfielder, so that we can get some playing time at third base for Michael Chavis (who I acquired in the 2017 Rule 5 Draft in December 2017) -- in which he will be platooning with Yadiel Rivera

Jones from the get-go, proved to worth the signing, I was a little bummed that I found Charlie Blackmon signing (with the Pittsburgh Pirates) for much cheaper than he originally demanded.. he was the other option for potential CF. 

Jones is currently hitting .300 with 22 HR & 57 RBI through 82 games, while on pace for 42 HR this season, while producing a .895 OPS, his best season since 2013 so safe to say, he's actually been a steal for us... Meanwhile, Blackmon (for Pittsburgh) is only batting .229 with 11 HR & 27 RBI (.726 OPS). 

Jason Hammel is a cheap option to add to the rotation, so adding him him may not be someone spectacular, at the same time for $4.4 million, is not horrible either... or so I thought. Sure he's eating up 6-7 innings per game, and has stayed healthy, but while sporting a 5.84 ERA & 1.51 WHIP.

Tropeano was a 2018 A.L. All-Star with 16 wins for the Los Angeles Angels.
We traded for Nick Tropeano of the Los Angeles Angels, who was coming off a 16-5 season with a 3.13 ERA & 144 K (1.24 WHIP) in 175.1 innings -- in which we shipped SP-Nick Kingham, SS-Daniel Robertson, RP-Brad Peacock & catching prospect Ihan Bernal. Tropeano had a few great starts for us, then went on the disabled list for a couple weeks, and has been not as good, as he currently has a 2-6 record, 4.50 ERA, 62 K & 1.36 WHIP through 72 innings & 13 starts.

We can't seem to catch a break, our stud of a leftfielder in Koson Yamauchi (.305, 4 HR & 10 RBI in 22 games) has been out for about 2+ months, due to bone chips in his elbow, and is finally returning in a week or so, when suddenly Mike Clevinger (0-5, 3.32 ERA) will be out for 6 weeks due to shoulder inflammation. We sent down Adam Plutko to the minors, hoping that Brady Rodgers (2-4, 6.14 ERA) may do something different in his rotation spot.... nope! Cody Anderson is the team's all-time wins leader so far, with 13 wins in 1.5 seasons, while he posted a 5.32 ERA last season & is doing even worse with a 5.76 ERA.

Chrinos looked lost before his demotion to the minors.
One of our only rays of hope in 2018 in pitcher Yonny Chirinos, was a total disappointment through his first 19.1 innings of relief work (6.05 ERA) -- We just called him up (July 4th) after he has done well at Triple-A for the Montesano Ocelots (6-2, 1.81 ERA in 49.2 innings). 

We thought after drafting three Rule 5 Draftees in December 2017, that in 2018 we would go much lighter, but we decided to sign two more Rule 5 Draft Picks in Hunter Strickland and J.B. Wendelken... Hunter has done well, J.B. so far, no good. I would like to keep Wendelken, but we'll see how long he can test my patience, plenty of upside, but to keep a guy on the big league roster all season long with a 7.30 ERA may be stretching it. 

By the way, our 2018 stud in designated hitter Renato Nunez, who hit .286 with 37 HR & 124 RBI last season, is nowhere to be found with his .216, 14 HR & 34 RBI. Shortstop Abiatal Avelino has been going in the wrong direction, after what looked like a breakout year in 2018, while my third base combo is roughly batting .200 this season.

Problems everywhere!

The team was projected to win 77 games this season, improving 14 games from 63-99... instead, we are going almost 14 games in the opposite direction with a 26-59 record (.306 winning pct) on pace for 50 wins total, which my owner is not happy as it is.

Coming up.... Switching gears with latest BoS News, APBA face-to-face tournaments & other OOTP projects.

Friday, December 1, 2017

End of 2018 Regular Season (Aviators)

I'm proud to say that my Charlotte Aviators avoided 100 losses during their expansion season, finishing 63-99. They finished the season strong 18-19 during the last two months, after a horrible July that witnessed the Aviators going 4-22.

Koson Yamauchi, the big Japanese free agent ($20.7 million per year) finished strong by hitting .282, 32 HR & 88 RBI, while the team's lone All-Star Renato Nunez hit .286, 37 HR & 124 RBI; From what I can find his 124 RBI is likely a record for an expansion team player.

The future looks bright for second baseman Abiatal Avelino, a Rule 5 Draft Pick that I snagged from the New York Yankees; He led the team with a .295 batting average, while collecting 147 hits, with a 2.6 WAR & .762 OPS. 

Rowdy Tellez & Yamauchi started the season sluggish, but Tellez put it together as well, hitting .276, 21 HR & 80 RBI for the Aviators.

The Aviators' pitching needs more improvement & consistency, as Charlotte plans to upgrade this area in the off-season.

Around the League....

The Boston Red Sox' killer 'B's (Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts & Xander Bogaerts) each had a huge season, while their teammate Rafael Devers emerged by winning the RBI title (141). Each of the 'B's ranked 1, 2 & 3 in batting average & runs batted in...

Here is their rankings & other stats...
  • Xander Bogaerts: .353 batting average (A.L Batting Title), while hitting 28 HR & 126 RBI (3rd), 225 hits (1st), with 134 runs (2nd) -- while leading WAR (8.9) & ranking 3rd in OPS (.984).
  • Andrew Benintendi: .337 AVG (2nd), while hitting 32 HR & 134 RBI (2nd), 195 hits (5th), while leading the league in OPS (1.026) & Slugging pct (.613) -- ranked 4th in WAR (6.7).
  • Mookie Betts: Ranked 3rd in batting average (.328), with 23 HR & 100 RBI, 214 hits (2nd), while leading the league in runs (139) & ranking 3rd in WAR (6.8).
The Red Sox won the A.L. East with a 110-52 record, and have the #1 seed in the American League playoffs, and await the winner of the three-game series between the New York Yankees (A.L. Wild Card & Milwaukee Brewers (86-76 / A.L. Great Lakes Division Champs). The Houston Astros (97-65) who are trying to get back to the World Series (losing to the Chicago Cubs), are the #2 seed, and are waiting to see who wins between the Seattle Mariners (85-77 / A.L. Wild Card) & the Los Angeles Angels (92-70 / A.L. West Division Champions).

deGrom won the N.L. triple crown for pitchers.
The Philadelphia Phillies (87-75 / N.L. Wild Card) will play the Atlanta Braves (88-74 / N.L. South Division Champions) -- while the winner of that series will have to deal with the top-seeded Los Angeles Dodgers (105-57 / N.L. West Division Champions). The back-to-back defending World Champion Chicago Cubs (92-70 / #2 seed) awaits the winner The Arizona Diamondbacks (87-75 / N.L. Wild Card) & New York Mets (90-72 / N.L. East Division Champions).

Gregory Polanco won the N.L. Batting Title (.326) for the disappointing Pittsburgh Pirates (78-84), while ex-Pirate Andrew McCutchen had a strong season (.311, 42 HR & 158 RBI) with the Washington Nationals; His 158 ribbies was tops in the N.L.

Joey Gallo (Texas Rangers) led the National League & Major League Baseball with 51 home runs, while his team was getting adapted to switching leagues, and being part of the N.L. South; His teammate Cameron Maybin was a big surprise, as he ranked 3rd in hits (201) & runs (124).

The New York Mets' Jacob deGrom won the N.L. pitching Triple Crown by leading the league in wins (17 / tied), strikeouts (249) & Earned Run Average (3.14) -- He also led N.L. pitchers with a 7.4 WAR.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

First First-Year Player Draft for Charlotte

Charlotte takes Denholm 1st Overall.
The 2018 First Year Player Draft is among us, and it's a very exciting time for the Charlotte Aviators, because it is their first & they have the 1st Overall pick.

We decided to draft starting pitcher 18 year-old Trenton Denholm out of Oak Ridge High School (Stockton, California)...

He is not made-up, he's a real person, that's the amazing thing about Out of the Park Baseball, it's light years ahead of the crap that you would get with MLB The Show (Playstation), where there is just the 40-man roster, and then a bunch of made-up players to fill the remainder of the farm at only two levels.

Denholm projects to be a top-of-the rotation starter, with plus stuff that projects to a lot of strikeouts, with 91-93 mph fastball which he can spot it where he wants it. He also has great personality makeup in which he is quietly goes about business on & off the field, which was all music to my ears.

The Oklahoma City Barons took RF-Seth Beer (21 years old) out of Clemson University. Beer is the type of player to build a franchise around, with tons of power, while showing the ability to work counts. His fielding and contact could need some improving, but the sky should be the limit when it comes to his power.

Seth Beer will be playing for Oklahoma City organization.

The San Diego Padres drafted SS-Royce Lewis at 3rd overall (Atlanta failed to sign him after the 2017 MLB Draft)... In real-life he was drafted 1st Overall (2017) by the Minnesota Twins.

The remainder of the 1st Round went as follows....

  • Pick 4 - SS- Nick Allen (Athletics)
  • Pick 5 - 1B- Keston Hiura (White Sox)
  • Pick 6 - CF- Cole Brannen (Braves)
  • Pick 7 - P- Kumar Rocker (Royals)
  • Pick 8 - LF- Calvin Mitchell (Diamondbacks)
  • Pick 9 - RF - Jarred Kelenic (Braves)
  • Pick 10 - RF - Ruben Cardenas (Cardinals)
  • Pick 11 - P- Grayson Rodriguez (Angels)
  • Pick 12 - P - Jonathan Hughes (Rangers)
  • Pick 13 - P - Levi Kelly (Pirates)
  • Pick 14 - P - Cole Sands (Twins)
  • Pick 15 - P - Cole McKay (Marlins)
  • Pick 16 - 3B- Brendan Donovan (Orioles)
  • Pick 17 - P- Jordan O'Dell (Expos)
  • Pick 18 - SS- Ricardo De La Torre (Diamondbacks)
  • Pick 19 - P - Trey Cumbie (Yankees)
  • Pick 20 - P - Brady Singer (Giants)
  • Pick 21 - SS - Shane Benes (Reds)
  • Pick 22 - P - Randy Abisher (Blue Jays)
  • Pick 23 - 2B - Alec Sanchez (Rockies)
  • Pick 24 - P - Colton Eastman (Mariners)
  • Pick 25 - SS - Michael Perez (Astros)
  • Pick 26 - P - Joe Perez (Indians)
Supplemental (Round 1)
  • Pick 27 - CF - Tristan Pompey (Expos)
  • Pick 28 - SS - Kendall Simmons (Astros)
  • Pick 29 - SS - Jordan Groshans (Yankees)
  • Pick 30 - P - Jordan Pearce (Giants)
  • Pick 31 - 3B - Hunter Watson (Rockies)
  • Pick 32 - 2B - Tim Borden (Red Sox)
  • Pick 33 - P - Jared Padgett (Dodgers)
  • Pick 34 - RF - Jackson Lueck (Cubs)
  • Pick 35 - C - Chris Troye (Yankees)
  • Pick 36 - RF - Jimmy Herron (Diamondbacks)
  • Pick 37 - P - Keaton McKinney (Pirates)
  • Pick 38 - C - Chris Cullen (Rockies)
  • Pick 39 - P - Trevor Stephan (Indians)
  • Pick 40 - C - Elih Marrero (Cubs)

Sunday, November 26, 2017

May-Day! (Aviators - May Report)

Taking Flight: Renato Nunez has been impressive the first two months.
The Charlotte Aviators are showing the growing pains of an expansion team, as we have slid to a . We have also lost 6 straight at one point, while our division rival Atlanta Braves owns us with a 6-1 record.

Our rising superstar appears to be our designated hitter Renato Nunez, while in real-life is the #22 Prospect in the Oakland Athletics' organization; The young Venezuelan native Nunez has plus raw power, but has regressed from his projected potential. For the alternative timeline, and while wearing a Charlotte Aviator uniform, he just won N.L. Rookie of the Month for May.

He currently leads the Aviators with a .303 batting average, 11 home runs & 29 ribbies; He currently has a .916 OPS & .352 on-base percentage, while generating a 140 OPS+ & 1.1 WAR. His fielding has never been one to marvel at, that's why he's at DH, and even for Out of the Park standards, his bat appears to be ahead of schedule, but we'll take it.

Our big international signing of Koson Yamauchi has been overall a slight disappointment for the price tag ($20.47 million per year / four year deal). A sprained ankle certainly slowed Yamauchi down in April, but I am starting to wonder when the 80/80 power scale is going to start playing out, especially since his contact scale is at 70/80; Yamauchi currently is only batting .234 with 5 HR & a .733 OPS for the season, while his -0.6 WAR is further proof he has been a non-factor.

I am also currently splitting time between four positions at the moment, full-time preseason starters 1B-Rowdy Tellez, 2B-Ronald Torreyes & RF-Oswaldo Arcia now find themselves splitting time with 1B/3B-Patrick Kivlehan, 2B-Abiatal Avelino & RF-Jake Smolinski; Arcia and Torreyes have been non-existent versus left-handed pitching.

Steady, strong arm: Chrinos has logged many innings.
Our bullpen which was strong in April, has cooled down a bit with Earned Run Averages rising for Tim Cooney, Yonny Chirinos, Corey Knebel & especially Brad Peacock.

Chirinos has been logging tons of innings for a reliever, and may be tiring down. I have changed my specifications to put him as a 7th inning setup man, to help take off some of the multi-innings work load; Chirinos has already logged 52 innings & would be on pace for 164 innings. By next spring, we may give him a shot at the back end of the rotation.

The rotation has been nothing special.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Roy 'Doc' Holladay (1977 - 2017)

The baseball world is in mourning, as Roy Halladay perished in a plane crash at age 40.

Halladay was a bit old school compared to the other pitchers in the game during his time, pitching 67 complete games during his career... to put it in perspective, the leading active pitcher in complete games is CC Sabathia with 38, while pitchers like Felix Hernandez (25 CG), Clayton Kershaw (25) & Justin Verlander (23) all further behind.

Many of these above pitchers have a legit argument for their place at Cooperstown, much can be said in the case for Halladay.

He won two Cy Young Awards, one with the Toronto Blue Jays (2003) and later on the National League side with the Philadelphia Phillies (2011). He finished with 203 wins, while winning 20+ games in a single-season, three times... plus a career 64.7 WAR.

To put his 64.7 career WAR in perspective, it's higher than Bob Feller (63.6, granted he had some years serving our country), Vic Willis (63.5), Juan Marichal (63.1), Mickey Welch (63.1), Hal Newhouser (63.0), Clark Griffith (61.8), Early Wynn (61.3), Stan Coveleski (60.2), Dazzy Vance (59.9), Jim Bunning (59.4), Al Spalding (59.0) & Rube Waddell (58.6) who are all Hall of Famers to go along with a small handful of other Hall of Fame pitchers not named ranking below this bunch.

He had a 3.38 career ERA with a very respectable 1.178 WHIP, finishing with 2,117 strikeouts... his strikeout rates was much higher in the later part of his career, as he recorded 200+ strikeouts for four consecutive seasons (2008-2011).

He may have been the best pitcher in all of baseball during his 2008-2011 stretch, which he went 77-37 (.675 winning pct), 2.59 ERA, with 853 K's in 969.1 innings (7.9 K / 1.3 BB per 9 innings). During this stretch, he logged 35 complete games with a 1.065 WHIP, while his ERA+ stood at 160.

In the history of Major League Baseball, there are not much better four-year periods than this, add this to his already impressive accomplishments, we should see him in Cooperstown someday... the sad part is that he won't be able to enjoy this accomplishment down here with the rest of us.

Just recently, my friend Rich Zawadzki won the 2017 Fall/Winter edition of the Chicagoland APBA Baseball Tournament with the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies, a strong 102-win team that in reality probably should have won the World Series (knocked out by St. Louis in LDS), in which Halladay would have gotten his first & only World Series ring.... but a Chicagoland Championship will have to do for the Doc.

It's great when APBA Baseball imitates life, as Halladay went 3-1, with a 2.05 ERA in regular bracket, while he had 0.50 ERA in 2 playoff games.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Charlotte Aviators (April Breakdown)

Chavis (Rule 5 Pick) joins the Aviators.
The expansion Charlotte Aviators picked up 3 new pieces from the Rule 5 Draft in catcher Nick Ciuffo, third baseman Michael Chavis & second base/shortstop Abiatal Avelino -- who all have some good upside, and didn't cost us anything to pick these three players up. Rule 5 Players (for those that may not know) have to stay on the big league roster all season long.

I like the versatility I have on this team and can see this team competing sooner than later, we started the season 3-1, but have recently slid to 10-13, 3 games out & 3rd Place in the National League South; The Atlanta Braves currently are in 1st place.

Our four best, consistent hitters are 3B/OF-Taylor Motter (.301, 1 HR, 10), DH/3B-Renato Nunez (.271, HR & 3 RBI), SS-Richard Urena (.242, 3 HR & 14 RBI) & LF-Koson Yamauchi (.220, 2 HR & 7 RBI); Yamauchi's average has dropped during the month, while nursing a sprained ankle.

Tyler Collins & Rowdy Tellez's bats cooled off as the month went on.

Mike Clevenger was the opening day starter due to the injury to Drew Pomeranz (torn rotator cuff), struck out 10 batters, and would go on to start the season, 0-1, 2.77 ERA with 15 K in 13 innings, but has allowed 14 ER & 10 walks in 12.2 innings. Same deal for Cody Anderson, started off 2-0, 1.47 ERA & 15 K in 18.1 innings, but has allowed 5 HR & 11 ER in 9 innings since.

Clevenger was forced into ace role.
The two starting pitchers, Adam Plutko (2-2, 2.89 ERA) & Nick Kingham (1-2, 3.75 ERA) are currently doing the best among the rotation, but Plutko has faded since his hot start, allowed 1 ER in 15 innings.

Our bullpen has done pretty solid...
  • Corey Knebel (2 SV, 1.42 ERA, 20 K & 1.026 WHIP in 12.2 IP)
  • Trevor May (1 SV, 0.00 ERA, 13 K & 1.258 WHIP in 10.1 IP)
  • Yonny Chirinos (1-1, 1 SV, 2.39 ERA, 26 K & 1.025 WHIP in 26.1 IP)
  • Tim Clooney (1-0, 1 SV, 2.20 ERA, 16 K & 1.279 WHIP in 20.1 IP)
Plus Brad Peacock just returned from the disabled list.

More to come, we started off good for a minute, but now losing, which is all expected of an expansion team.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Entering a New Frontier

As you may know from one of my previous posts 2017 Updated Rosters Project, I decided to shake things up & bring in expansion. I have since stepped down from the Detroit Tigers (73-89 in my alternate 2017) while taking over one of the new expansion teams, in the Charlotte Aviators.

The Charlotte Aviators will be playing in the National League South Division, while their division rivals will be the Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins & Texas Rangers. If you are late to the dance, I would suggest that you read the post highlighted above, if you do know what's going on, here is the latest...

The Aviators might be able to compete sooner than later, as the other three teams had losing seasons in 2017, with the best team being the Marlins at 76-86.

Before I move on to my roster, here is a look at our farm teams' names.

  • Montesano Ocelots (International League / AAA, North Division) - Montesano, Washington.
  • New Jersey Outlaws (Eastern League / AA, North Division) - Jersey City, New Jersey.
  • Fremont Titans (California League / A+, North Division) - Fremont, California.
  • Virginia Beach Sharks (New York-Penn League / A-, McNamara Division) - Virginia Beach, Virginia.
  • Westchester Bobcats (New York-Penn League / A-, McNamara Division) - Westchester, NY.
  • Denmark Nighthawks (Appalachian League / R, East) - Denmark, New Hampshire.
  • Woodbourne Warriors (Appalachian League / R, East) - Woodbourne, Pennsylvania.
Our projected lineup is as follows for the Aviators...
  • 1. Taylor Motter - 3B
  • 2. Ronald Torreyes - 2B
  • 3. Oswaldo Arcia - RF
  • 4. Rowdy Tellez - 1B
  • 5. Pat Valaika - SS
  • 6. Tyler Collins - LF
  • 7. Jake Smolinski - CF
  • 8. Daniel Robertson - DH
  • 9. Jett Bandy - C
I had no say in the drafting, because at the time I was still the Detroit Tigers' General Manager, but I watched the draft which was really fascinating. 

The leader in home runs from this bunch in alternate 2017 was actually my 9th hitter in Jett Bandy (18 HR); My most seasoned hitter (sad to say) is a familiar face in Tyler Collins (.287, 12 HR & 51 RBI), who played for my Tigers last season. My other best two power options will come from either Oswaldo Arcia & Rowdy Tellez

The projected rotation at the moment...
  • 1. Drew Pomeranz 
  • 2. Mike Clevenger
  • 3. Cody Anderson
  • 4. Adam Plutko
  • 5. Brady Rodgers
Three of the five starters happened to play for the Cleveland Indians in the previous seasons, while Drew Pomeranz (Boston) finds himself as the ace of the Aviators. Brady Rodgers was a 3rd Round Draft Pick for the Houston Astros in 2012, the one thing that Rodgers has going for him is he has good control, but he doesn't have excellent stuff, while he's average-to-slightly above average with his four pitches, while having a tendency to give up the long ball. It's too bad this game isn't out a year later, Mike Clevenger would maybe get a little more love with his ratings after his real-life second-half emergence for the tribe.

The bullpen....
  • Closer - Corey Knebel
  • Setup - Trevor May
  • RP - Yonny Chirinos
  • RP - Tim Clooney
  • RP - Brad Peacock
I love that Charlotte got Corey Knebel, I am not sure why Milwaukee did not protect him, but their loss.  Brad Peacock (like Clevenger above) would have benefited with this game being released a year later. Trevor May and Tim Clooney bring slight depth, while the 23 year-old Yonny Chirinos will make his MLB debut, while his previous highest level was Double-A; Pitched in the 2017 Southern League All-Star Game in the minors. 

My bench is interesting, I have Patrick Kivlehan (.343, 3 HR & 10 RBI / .949 OPS in 67 at-bats), he will get some playing time at first base (when Tellez needs a day off), while he can man third with a weak glove, moving Taylor Motter over to short or even the outfield occasionally. Ildemaro Vargas will get some work at short, while backing up second; Vargas is good at not striking out, while very effective stealing a base, despite not having flashy speed... plus great at bunting someone over. 

Our biggest prospect is Renato Nunez, who will likely play at third base, bumping Motter to the outfield, we plan to possibly get him just a bit more seasoning at Triple-A, but probably won't stay there for long. 

Just found out we signed our Japanese international star in Koson Yamauchi, a left fielder with tons of power; During negotiations I didn't realize I accepted his counter-offer for $81.88 million over 4 seasons, at $20.47 million per season. That will bring some much-needed pop to a lineup without pop.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Braves vs Expos (NLCS Rematch / 1993 Playoffs)

The Atlanta Braves and Montreal Expos will be playing in a National League Championship rematch in my 1992 No Expansion project for Out of the Park Baseball 2018. I am currently the General Manager of the Braves, and we narrowly won the 1993 N.L. West Division Championship over the Houston Astros (100-62) with 102 wins.

The Expos (108-54) are led by MVP candidate Larry Walker (.340, 38 HR & 115 RBI) and free agent acquisitions Andres Galarraga (.291, 39 HR & 108 RBI) & Mickey Tettleton (.250, 23 HR & 72 RBI); Delino DeShields (.299, 10 HR, 86 RBI & 56 SB) & Marquis Grissom (.297, 19 HR, 86 RBI & 65 SB) have also been tough outs in their lineup.

They are also tough in the pitching department with a rotation led by N.L. Cy Young hopeful, Dennis Martinez (25-7, 2.41 ERA, 144 K & 1.15 WHIP in 36 starts / 254 Innings); Ken Hill (14-9, 3.90 ERA), Jamie Moyer (12-12, 3.75 ERA) & Chris Nabholz (14-7, 4.30 ERA) have  all been a huge part of the team's success, along with their stellar bullpen: Mel Rojas (3 SV, 1.53 ERA), Jeff Fassero (10-3, 4 SV, 2.45 ERA, 1.24 WHIP), Shane Reynolds (7-2, 3.54 ERA, 0.97 WHIP) & Rob Murphy (4-2, 1 SV, 2.44 ERA & 1.09 WHIP).

The Braves may have won 102 games, but they didn't come easy. The team started off red-hot with a 33-10 start, but then hit a 26-28 swoon in June & July, the team got back on track by winning 43 of their last 65 games, after acquiring some bullpen help in acquiring Roberto Hernandez (from White Sox), Mike Maddux (Royals) & John Kelly (Cardinals).

The week of August 21-27th, the bullpen suffered some problems since with injuries to Kent Mercker (torn miniscus / Out for the rest of the season) & Roberto Hernandez (herniated disc [neck] / Out 1-2 weeks) -- which will certainly play a factor in this upcoming series; Montreal has its own problems with John Wetteland out for the remainder of the playoffs due to a hamstring strain.

Atlanta would lose Game 1 due to great pitching by Dennis Martinez, pitching 7 strong innings while only allowing 2 hits; Mel Rojas came in for the two-inning save. Mickey Tettleton went 2-for-3 with a walk, while Andres Galarraga and Bill Masse each contributed an RBI.

Both teams combined for 10 hits (Atlanta - 4)

Unlikely Hero: Blankenship.
Meanwhile, the Oakland Athletics leads their series 2-0 over the Toronto Blue Jays, who are still trying to get to their first World Series; Last year (1992), the Minnesota Twins knocked off Toronto, as Minnesota went on to defeat the Atlanta Braves again, in a repeat during their repeat match-up.

The Athletics have won the two games in Toronto, by a combined score of 11-3, while unlikely heroes in Troy Neel and Lance Blankenship hit home runs in Game 2 -- both with 2 outs. Mark Langston pitched a strong Game 1, allowing only 1 run & 4 hits in 7 innings with 4 strikeouts.

The Braves would get nothing going, as they would end up getting swept by the Expos... To put it in perspective, Otis Nixon led the team in hitting, by batting .214 in the series.

The Athletics would dash the Jays' dreams of winning their pennants, as they lost the series, 4-2 to Oakland; The Athletics were led by the 1-2 pitching combo of Mark Langston (2-0, 1.88 ERA, 8 K) & Kevin Brown (2-0, 1.69 ERA, 8 K), while Lance Blankenship batted .294 with 2 HR & 5 RBI in the series.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

1993 All-Star Break & Trading Deadline

Atlanta's new closer: Roberto Hernandez
For this 1993 Alternate Season (No Expansion), I have been the General Manager for the Atlanta Braves, we have been to the last two World Series (losing both to the Minnesota Twins), and sit on top of the N.L. West Division with a slim four-game lead over the Houston Astros right now.

The Braves (55-32) started off hot (33-10), but we are playing only .500 ball since then that start, our bullpen has been sliding, while we need some infield depth that can play defense.

We made a small trade to acquire Kansas City's backup third baseman Kelly Gruber, in exchange for pitcher Mike Hostetler & minor league second baseman Nelson Paulino, to help in the defense department. We tried to acquire 3B/2B prospect Jeff Cirillo from Milwaukee with no success.

The last night of the deadline, we sat at 26-27 since our 33-10 start, only 1.5 games up on Houston, We started by trading prospects 1B-Jeff Manto & 3B-Israel Alcantra for a Cardinals reliever with some upside, named John Kelly.

We decided to trade RF-Melvin Nieves straight up for RP-Mike Maddux of the Kansas City Royals, uniting the Maddux brothers in Atlanta.

Roger McDowell (5.04 ERA) & Greg McMichael (5.68 ERA) were disappointing as setup men for Atlanta, and something needed to be done. We are keeping McDowell, but decided to package McMichael with prospects SP-Darrell May and 3B-Grant Brittain with $600,000 to the Chicago White Sox for closer Roberto Hernandez.

Mike Stanton (5-5, 3.19 ERA & 25 Saves) has been my closer, and will slide down to be the 8th Inning setup man, while Mike Maddux will take the 7th. Mark Wohlers will get a shot at being the 6th inning setup for the Braves, if he fails, he'll either go to middle relief work, or get more seasoning in the minors. Kent Mercker is the left-handed specialist & could be a 6th inning or later guy as well.

Alejandro Pena (4.76 ERA) was waived & designated for assignment, he is currently making $1.72 million this season & will be a free agent at the end of the season.

Atlanta will be quiet come free agency, and are setup pretty solid for the next two seasons, as they will try to rebuild their farm system.

We'll see how these moves all play out.

Other MLB Trades....

  • Chicago Cubs trade SS-Alex Arias & minor leaguer RHP-Ryan Hawblitzel to the Texas Rangers, in exchange for Greg Swindell; Swindell signed a 6-year deal worth $22.16 million with the Rangers prior to the season.
  • Detroit Tigers traded Gregg Olson, who signed a 2-year/$1.76 million deal with the Tigers prior to the season, was traded to the Seattle Mariners for SS-Ruben Santana; Olson led the Tigers with 18 Saves, while posting a 3.70 ERA.
  • The Pittsburgh Pirates traded Sid Bream (.315, 4 HR & 18 RBI) to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for Tim Belcher (9-7, 5.18 ERA) & minor league reliever Ricky Bottalico (A). 
  • The New York Yankees traded 2B-Randy Velarde to the Chicago Cubs for 33-year old Mike Morgan, retaining 30% & minor league closer Ben Burlingame.
  • The Minnesota Twins traded C-Ron Karkovice to the Toronto Blue Jays, while acquiring Tom Henke, retaining 60% & minor league Aaron Jersild
  • The Milwaukee Brewers traded Cal Eldred to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for minor league outfielders Rod Myers & Eric Walls.
  • The Philadelphia Phillies traded SP-Andy Ashby to the Chicago Cubs, in exchange for minor league OF-Pedro Valdes.
  • One of the biggest trades may be the New York Yankees trading J.T. Snow to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for reliever Mark Guthrie & minor league SP-Brett Roberts.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

End of June (1993 No Expansion)

Lankford & the young Cardinals.
The end of June came, with John Smoltz seems to be getting back on track, after a slow first two months, improving to 7-2 with a 3.69 ERA & 65 strikeouts in 75.2 innings -- which is good news for Atlanta.

Meanwhile, the Toronto Blue Jays (42-31) got bad news with Rickey Henderson missing up to 7 weeks, due to injuring his shoulder on a diving catch; Henderson is currently batting .280 with 7 HR & 25 RBI for the season, while swiping 23 bases.

Toronto still trail the Baltimore Orioles (57-17) by 14.5 games; The Orioles are currently on a 9 game-winning streak.

The Chicago White Sox (40-33) seem to be slowly climbing in the A.L. West, as they trail the division-leading Oakland Athletics by 4 games; The White Sox in real-life 1993 won the A.L. West with stellar pitching, which with their bullpen, seems to be the alternate's strength as well. Frank Thomas is leading all American League first basemen in the All-Star voting, while batting .362, with 22 HR & 62 RBI (1.152 OPS) in 268 at-bats (73 games) this season.

The Montreal Expos (50-23) better keep an eye on the emerging St. Louis Cardinals (42-34), whose youth is starting to shine Cardinal red; Ray Lankford (.294, 14 HR, 50 RBI & 13 SB), Brian Jordan (.298, 10 HR & 44 RBI), Todd Zeile (.287, 10 HR, 39 RBI) & pitcher Rene Arocha (7-4, 3.38 ERA) all seem to be leading the charge. The Cardinals have slowly ate out of Montreal's advantage, by getting the division lead down to single digits.

The Atlanta Braves' month of June, despite Smoltz's recent improvement, was a so-so month for them, as they went 15-12 (.556 pct), after going 33-10 (.767 pct) during the first two months; Meanwhile, the Houston Astros (45-29) have chipped away at the Braves' lead, going 19-7 (.731 pct) during June.

The Astros are led by N.L. MVP candidate Moises Alou (.333, 12 HR & 55 RBI), while getting support from Jeff Bagwell (.305, 15 HR & 47 RBI), Eric Anthony (.270, 21 HR & 60 RBI) & pitcher Darryl Kile (9-3, 2.34 ERA); Houston trails Atlanta by only 5 games.

Monday, November 13, 2017

End of May (1993 No Expansion)

Bichette has been a big deal for Baltimore.
The Baltimore Orioles continue to roll, as they have the best record in all of baseball at 36-8 (.818 winning pct), making fans think of the "Bless You Boys" Detroit Tigers of 1984... at this rate, the O's are on pace for 133 wins, granted things will certainly slow down.

They acquired Dante Bichette prior to the season from the Minnesota Twins, in exchange for RP-Anthony Telford & LF-Alex Ochoa. His great play, so far (.318, 9 HR & 31 RBI) just landed him an 4-year extension on May 24th, for $8.76 million ($2.19 m per year), while his teammate Chris Hoiles (.290, 13 HR & 32 RBI) continues to play like a strong MVP candidate.

The lineup also features team captain Cal Ripken, Jr, Brady Anderson & Jay Buhner (who bats 6th as the designated hitter).

The rotation has took hits of late, with Tim Belcher & Arthur Lee Rhodes' stats going south, while Mike Mussina (3-1, 2.63 ERA), Ben McDonald (8-0, 2.10 ERA) & Jose Mesa (5-0, 2.48 ERA) continue to dazzle. The Orioles' bullpen is led by 4 veterans who are all having superb seasons, led by their closer Steve Farr (12 Saves, 2.81 ERA), along with Mike Fetters (2-0, 1.35 ERA), Storm Davis (2-0, 1.59 ERA) & Steve Bedrosian (3-0, 0.59 ERA).

The Toronto Blue Jays (second place / 6.5 GB) are having a tough time catching Baltimore; The Jays won their 5th straight, only problem Baltimore is currently on a 6-game winning streak.

The A.L. West meanwhile has 5 teams all within 2.5 games of each other, with the Oakland Athletics currently leading with a 24-18 record. Oakland is led by a healthy Mark McGwire, who is batting .291 with 14 HR & 40 RBI, with his numbers up -- while coming off a 1992 OOTP Season, which he hit 26 HR & 80 RBI (compared to real-life's 42 HR & 104 RBI).

The Montreal Expos are 34-11 (.756 pct) while they are ahead with a very comfortable 12-game lead entering June; The team signed free agents Andres Galarraga & Mickey Tettleton (just days prior to the beginning of the regular season), as they are the meat in the center of this lineup. Eric Karros is a bench-player now due to signing of Galarraga & could be trade bait down the line; The player traded for Karros, Mark Gardner, just got hurt & will likely miss the remainder of the season.

In some bizzare Expos news, their starting left fielder Bill Masse (.343, 4 HR, 8 RBI & 1.192 OPS in 35 at-bats) never played in the majors, he got his chance due to the struggling Ivan Calderon; Masse was acquired with a certain-Panama born reliever (Mariano Rivera) in exchange for SS-Spike Owen & $205,000 in cash.

That above, is one of the reasons that I love this game, how moves elsewhere, may effect teams to do acquisitions that will pave new alternate paths for those like Rivera.

My Atlanta Braves are 33-10, with an 8.5 game lead over the Cincinnati Reds, while Houston is in third place, 9 games back. Fred McGriff, two months in, leads all three Triple Crown categories, batting .414 with 19 HR & 56 runs batted in (1.291 OPS is tops)... while his teammate Ron Gant (.341 AVG, 15 HR, 36 RBI & 1.116 OPS with 11 steals) has been excellent as well.

Steve Avery (6-1, 2.10 ERA) & Greg Maddux (6-0, 2.15 ERA) have a combined WAR of 5.1 at the moment, while they are waiting on Tom Glavine & John Smoltz to heat up. Maddux, by the way, pitched a no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 14th.

That pretty much wraps up the May report.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

End of April 1993 (No Expansion)

As you all know I am playing Out of the Park Baseball 2018, and have been loving it. I have numerous seasons going on from the 2012 Detroit Tigers project (trying to win the big one), the Alternate Timeline (where I am playing now with the 1902 Pirates), to the one that I am going to report in this post, my 1992 No Expansion Season....

It's now 1993, there are no Colorado Rockies and no Florida Marlins, while in a couple years there also won't be no Arizona Diamondbacks & Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays. My goal is to see if I can get Atlanta a few more titles than their lone 1995 title during an impressive straight 14 division titles.

We lost a 1991 World Series rematch with the Minnesota Twins, during the 1992 Fall Classic, we dedicated our off-season by trading for ace Greg Maddux (whose contract was actually extended by the Chicago Cubs), while signing first baseman Fred McGriff & starting pitcher Bob Tewksbury. Chipper Jones progressed quicker than expected last season, and my Braves decided to depart with Terry Pendleton early, by trading him for reliever Roger McDowell.

Prior to the season, we were predicted to win the division a few games over the Houston Astros, while our 1992 NLCS counterparts, the Montreal Expos, are predicted to win their division over the Pittsburgh Pirates, who by the way still have Barry Bonds (apparently he still owns a soul in this game).

So the end of April, the Atlanta Braves are where they expected to be, first place with a 13-4 record, 2 games up on the Cincinnati Reds (the same team that finished 2nd, last season). Montreal is 12-5 in 1st place in the N.L. East.

The league's biggest surprise might be the Baltimore Orioles, who went a perfect 18-0!

The Orioles were predicted to do well, 2nd place for 95 wins, but to lose the division to the Toronto Blue Jays; Toronto is currently in third with a 9-6 record (7.5 games out). Chris Hoiles, meanwhile is tops on most of the A.L. charts... Leading the league with 8 HR, 20 RBI & 20 runs, plus tops in On-Base Pct, Slugging, OPS & Wars Above Replacement (1.9)

The O's also have got it done through pitching, led by Mike Mussina (2-0, 0.78 ERA, 0.70 WHIP & 14 K in 23 IP) & Ben McDonald (3-0, 1.27 ERA, 1.17 WHIP & 18 K in 28.1 IP), while Tim Belcher (2-0, 3.65 ERA), Jose Mesa (2-0, 2.92) & Arthur Lee Rhodes (1-0, 2.45 ERA) have not been too shabby as well; Steve Farr (1.42 ERA) currently leads A.L with 7 Saves.

The California Angels lead the A.L. West with a 11-7 record, and the new additions. Wally Joyner returned after one-year away in Kansas City, while they added Bobby Bonilla, Gregg Jefferies, Charlie Leibrandt & Doug Jones to go along with 2nd-year Tim Salmon & rookie Jim Edmonds.

The team predicted to win the A.L. West, the Texas Rangers have been a bit sluggish... That's not the case for free agent Tom Candiotti (3-0, 0.56 ERA, 25 K, 1.02 WHIP & 1.2 WAR in 32.1 innings) who has been excellent.

Now over to the Braves...

The Atlanta offensive trio of Ron Gant, Fred McGriff & Dave Justice are on most of the offensive leaders boards....

  • Gant leads the N.L. in HR (7), OPS (1.235) & OBP (.514), while 2nd in Batting Average (.410) & WAR (1.4).
  • McGriff leads the N.L. with 23 RBI, while 2nd in .723 SLG, 1.139 WHIP, Extra Base Hits (11) & Total Bases (47).
  • Justice is batting .323, 3 HR & 14 RBI, 12 BB in 17 games, that includes a 1.1 WAR.
The Braves rotation has not got rolling yet, but do have Steve Avery leading the way at 3-0, 2.03 ERA with 28 K / 5 BB, 0.94 WHIP, while leading the N.L. pitchers with a 1.3 WAR. John Smoltz (6.35 ERA) & Tom Glavine (8.31 ERA) have been rocked, while Greg Maddux (2-0, 3.18 ERA) & Bob Tewksbury (1-1, 3.05 ERA) have been respectable.

Mike Stanton leads the Braves with 7 Saves, while not allowing a run in 7.2 IP (8 K).

I believe that Atlanta will be unstoppable once Smoltz & Glavine get going, it's going to be hard to doubt such a talented rotation that has Tewksbury as their #5 starter.

That does it for the April report of the current 1993 season.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Post 1992 Off-Season (OOTP)

The Braves' trio of Glavine, Smoltz & Maddux.

The off-season following the wild ending to the 1992 MLB Season, was a very busy one, with big market names bouncing around everywhere.

Starting with my Atlanta Braves, who stumbled hard in the 1992 World Series to the Minnesota Twins. I started the off-season by extending Ron Gant's contract for 5 more years / $21.4 million ($4.28 per year). Gant has the option to opt out after the 1994 season, while the Braves have a team option to buy out the 1997 season segment of the contract. I felt resigning Gant was necessary since he has averaged a 30/30 season since 1990 for Atlanta.

The Three Musketeers

I was waiting to see Greg Maddux and Barry Bonds' names among the free agent pile, but was shocked to see neither of them. They both apparently extended contracts with their ball clubs, which is humorous when you think of Bonds actually sticking around in Pittsburgh. Bonds sticking around in Pittsburgh is a sight that I can deal with in this alternate reality, a sight I cannot deal with however is the thought of the Hall of Fame trio of John Smoltz, Tom Glavine & Greg Maddux being broken up before it even started.
Castilla is traded to the Cubs.

Lucky for me, the Braves are loaded with prospects, so I sent starting pitcher Jason Schmidt (who was in A Ball), SS/3B-Vinny Castilla, RP-Brad Clontz & 1B-Mike A Bell to the Chicago Cubs to acquire Maddux. For a tad bit, I was daydreaming about Castilla becoming a star in Atlanta, but I knew I had to throw at least two big players in the deal.. Plus if I kept Vinny, he would have to play third, while Chipper Jones would have to stay at short, which really hurt our defensive setup, plus I still have Jeff Blauser under contract.

My new problem now is, with the emergence of Chipper (already) to play everyday in my 1993 starting lineup, and with Blauser returning from an injury... this now squeezes out my Gold Glove third baseman Terry Pendleton; Pendleton just won his 3rd Gold Glove (1987, 1989 & 1992). I have placed him on the trading block and have yet to hear any good offers, I am thinking about getting some bullpen help, in exchange for him.

An Embarrassment of the Riches

I increased my free agency budget up to $12,000,000, while I am aware that I may go over a bit, sacrificing a 1st Round Draft Pick in the process. Two players' names popped out at me, Fred McGriff and Bob Tewksbury. I really liked Tewksbury back then, he was a solid pitcher on my high school APBA team back in the early nineties.

Tewksbury: Atlanta's 5th starter.
McGriff, I wanted for obvious reasons, he actually played for my Atlanta Braves from mid-1993 through 1997... I even had a McGriff T-Shirt back in the day. McGriff must have opted out of his contract with the Padres, because he's a free agent a tad early.

I made an offer for both players with McGriff being the priority, and if I can snag Tewksbury to be my 5th starting pitcher, that would only be bonus. Early in negotiations, Tewksbury looked to be a shoe-in for signing, while McGriff was weighing his options, with Pittsburgh, Baltimore & St. Louis trying to woo him.

Tewksbury was the first to sign, signing a 6-year deal for $18 million, while he was announced to the press on November 28th -- while the very next day, the Braves were announcing the signing of McGriff to a 6-year deal / $25.2 million ($4.2 m per year). Tewksbury's deal has the necessary options on both ends, while McGriff can opt out after the 1996 MLB Season.

The Braves' rotation (with 1992 Season numbers):

  • Greg Maddux (12-12, 3.02 ERA, 170 K, 1.21 WHIP in 256 innings)
  • Tom Glavine (15-8, 2.81 ERA, 164 K, 1.23 WHIP in 237.1 innings)
  • John Smoltz (17-9, 2.72 ERA, 218 K, 1.19 WHIP in 261 innings)
  • Steve Avery (19-9, 2.76 ERA, 147 K, 1.17 WHIP in 225 innings)
  • Bob Tewksbury (10-13, 2.79 ERA, 103 K, 1.07 WHIP in 264.1 innings)
John Smoltz, by the way, was just named the 1992 N.L. Cy Young Award winner. League leaders in bold green (above), while Tewksbury & Smoltz tied for 36 starts last year.

The Braves had a busy off-season, highlighted by the Maddux acquisition.

Reshuffling the Decks

Plenty of changes around the league as evident in teams like the Toronto Blue Jays, Oakland Athletics, California Angels & others.

Matt Williams signs with Blue Jays.
The Toronto Blue Jays have loaded up in a big way, after they fell short in the 1992 American League Championship to the Minnesota Twins. They had huge signings in LF-Rickey Henderson (2 yrs/$4.4 million), 3B-Matt Williams (6 yrs/$22.4 million), and the reigning A.L. Cy Young Award winner in John Smiley (7 yrs/$26.32 million). The Smiley deal will be one to watch, since all that money is guaranteed, with no incentives or clauses, so the Jays better hope that history doesn't repeat itself. 

Toronto's lineup is ridiculous with the addition of Williams...
  • LF - Rickey Henderson
  • 2B - Roberto Alomar
  • 1B - John Olerud
  • 3B - Matt Williams
  • CF - Devon White
  • SS - Jeff Kent
  • RF - Joe Carter
  • DH - Derek Bell
  • C - Pat Borders
Right before the end of the season, they started using Jack Morris in a setup role in the bullpen, he seemed to excel at it, while John Smiley fits into the 4th slot, behind Jimmy Key, Juan Guzman & David Wells in the rotation. 

Oakland has been opening up their pocket books.
A surprise team may come out the A.L. West in the Oakland Athletics, who want to return to the playoffs after a two-year absence. The Athletics kicked off their off-season by acquiring starting pitcher Tommy Greene in a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies, which Oakland sent shortstops Tony Batista & Craig Paquette to Philly. They made their next splash by signing Mark Langston to a 2-year deal worth $6,440,000... They didn't stop there, after they resigned Dennis Eckersley (2 yrs/$5.36 million), they signed Kevin Brown (3 yrs/$6.3 million), Mike Stanley (coming off a 35 HR season for the Yankees) for 5 yrs/$16.68 million & an additional bullpen arm in John Habyan for 3 years ($2.26 million).

Oakland's rotation looks like this now (1992 numbers):
  • Mark Langston (14-13, 2.32 ERA, 177 K, 1.27 WHIP in 241 innings)
  • Kevin Brown (13-11, 3.93 ERA, 131 K, 1.39 WHIP in 245.1 innings)
  • Tommy Greene (9-14, 3.08 ERA, 173 K, 1.25 WHIP in 216.1 innings)
  • Ron Darling (12-16, 4.23 ERA, 130 K, 1.44 WHIP in 238.1 innings)
  • Mike Moore (11-13, 3.97 ERA, 119 K, 1.40 WHIP in 247.1 innings)
If Oakland can add some more bullpen to help get the ball to Habyan & Eckersley, these acquisitions could pave the way for a division title & playoff berth.

The Texas Rangers are a curious case at the very least, they still have Ivan Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez & Dean Palmer in their lineup. They made a early off-season deal, by trading Kevin Reimer to the Angels in exchange for Mike Gallego at shortstop, and now have landed Lou Whitaker (.264, 17 HR & 73 RBI / .804 OPS) through free agency. They landed two dependable starting pitchers in Tom Candiotti & Greg Swindell to head their rotation. They lost Kevin Brown & Bobby Witt through free agency, but still have Jose Guzman, Kenny Rogers & Rick Helling in the 5th slot.

Jefferies signs with California.
The California Angels added 1B-Gregg Jefferies (7 yrs/$13.72 million), 3B-Bobby Bonilla (6 yrs/$8.6 million), SP-Charlie Leibrandt (2 yrs/$2.76 million), RP-Doug Jones (2 yrs/$2.56 million) & Bruce Hurst (1 yr/$442 K) through deals, landed Kevin Reimer & Matt Nokes in trades, while the lineup will have 2nd-year stud Tim Salmon & Jim Edmonds, who is about to make his MLB debut. The bullpen still has Bryan Harvey as the closer, while Jones will be used as a setup man, along with Mark Eichhorn

The Montreal Expos appeared to be primed up for another N.L. East Division title, with the addition of Eric Karros at first base (traded for pitcher Mark Gardner). The Expos knew what they were doing, since they plugged the holes in their rotation with the addition of vet Jamie Moyer, while Shane Reynolds will fight for the 5th slot of the rotation or be used in the pen. The team also has plenty of prospects in Cliff Floyd, Rondell White, Jose Vidro & Mike Lansing.

Hall of Fame Inductees

I was shocked to see Pete Rose on the ballot, and was even more shocked to see the impossible happen, Rose to be inducted in 1993, along with Reggie Jackson, Phil Niekro & Tom Seaver.

Mainstays in Strange Places

Some of the weirdest deals that took place, other than Lou Whitaker departing for Texas, was Alan Trammell signing a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers; Trammell still wants to play, I get it, but maybe have the San Diego native sign with the Padres. Another is a big-in, which was Tony Gwynn signing with the Detroit Tigers... Let it be noted, if it does not involve the Braves, these are all deals done by the computer. 

Meanwhile there are plenty of free agents out there, I will fill you in on further details when that time comes, we are on January 20th, 1993 on the schedule, so much can happen from now & spring.

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