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.

Monday, November 6, 2017

1992 Alternate Season - World Series Conclusion (OOTP)

John Smoltz of the Atlanta Braves.
GAME 6 (at Minnesota)

The Braves' John Smoltz faces off against the Twins' Kevin Tapani. The game has not started as like Smoltz has planned, loading up the bases with runners Chuck Knoblauch (walk), Marty Cordova (hit by pitch) and Chili Davis (single to right) for their star player Kirby Puckett. Puckett hits one to the third baseman Terry Pendleton, who makes a diving stop, but is not able to make a play anywhere as Knoblauch scores & gives Minnesota a 1-0 lead. Smoltz continues his 1st inning slide, by walking Kent Hrbek, another run crosses the plate & his pitch count is already at 25 pitches with no outs. Brian Harper narrowly beats out the double play bid, as Hrbek is out at second, Davis crosses the plate to give Minnesota, a 3-0 lead.

Bobby Cox visits mound early, and chats with Smoltz, hopefully he can settle down & not let this game get away in a hurry. Smoltz against Greg Gagne, throws a wild pitch as Puckett scores from third. Smoltz would momentarily find a groove as he strikes out both Gagne & Pedro Munoz to get out of the 1st inning... but not before the Twins put a four-spot on the scoreboard.

Smoltz would settle down the next two innings, but after giving up two walks in the bottom of the 4th to Greg Gagne & Pedro Munoz, the Braves decided to go to the pen in favor of Charlie Leibrandt. Smoltz pitches 3.2 innings, while throwing 84 pitches in such a short ugly stretch, allowing an uncharacteristic 5 walk. Chuck Knoblauch scores in two (off of Leibrandt) with a triple, with the Twins making this game pretty lopsided early on, 6-0. Marty Cordova would make it back-to-back triples as the Braves are down, 7-0.

A solo HR by Sid Bream & RBI single by Terry Pendleton, puts a small chink into the Twins' armor during the top of the 5th.

The Braves just couldn't keep up, down 12-3 during the top of the 9th, with two outs, and Otis Nixon at the plate against Willie Banks, the game would end on a 5-4 force at second...

The Minnesota Twins complete the repeat! 

This series will look back at the Game 2 meltdown, which witnessed the Twins coming back from a Major League World Series record of 8 runs down in the bottom of the 9th, to win Game 2, with the score of 10-9. The Braves were up 7-0 after 4 innings in that game. The Braves' bullpen in Games 2 & 3 combined, allowed 15 runs during the 8th & 9th innings alone... which makes Braves fans sick to their stomachs.

Brian Harper was named the 1992 World Series Most Valuable Player, while batting .417 (10-for-24), .986 OPS with 5 RBI in the series, while Marty Cordova (.348, HR & 5 RBI / 1.009 OPS) & Chuck Knoblauch (.375, 4 RBI & 1.006 OPS) both had great series as well; They did all without Kirby Puckett's bat (.208 AVG, 5 RBI).

Off to the off-season....

Saturday, November 4, 2017

1992 Alternate Season: Down to Atlanta (OOTP18)

The 1992 World Series travels down to Atlanta, as the Atlanta Braves look to rebound from a Game 2 that at one point looked like a sure win (7 innings in) that transformed into a total collapse; The pen allowed 9 hits & 9 runs in the last 2 innings. The game's collapse also ruined an excellent performance by veteran Charlie Leibrandt, who allowed only 3 hits through 7 innings of work.

GAME 3 (at Atlanta)

Smiley: 42 wins, past two seasons.
Tonight's Game 3 match-up is between Atlanta's John Smoltz (17-9, 2.72 ERA & 218 K) and Minnesota's John Smiley (22-4, 2.73 ERA, 193 K & 7.1 WAR); Smoltz was 3rd in wins & strikeouts, while Smiley has now accumulated 42 wins the last two seasons, leading the N.L. in 1991 for the Pirates & leading the A.L. this season for the Twins.

Otis Nixon got things started early for the Braves with a lead-off triple during the bottom of the 1st, he would score a few batters later, as Terry Pendleton grounded to second, thrown out at first. During the second inning, the Braves would leave the bases loaded, runs are going to be hard to come by, with Smiley & Smoltz on the mound in this one.

Still clinging onto a 1-0 lead during the bottom of the 7th, the Braves decide to pinch-hit Lonnie Smith for John Smoltz; Smoltz had 93 pitches & was tired at this point, he possibly could have gone one more inning for me, but I chose to go with Lonnie at the plate. Smith would collect his 8th hit in 16 at-bats this postseason, while he also has 1 HR & 6 RBI as well.

I decide to go with Charlie Leibrandt in the 8th inning, and he surrenders two quick singles to pinch-hitter Matt Lawton & second baseman Chuck Knoblauch. I quickly made another pitching change, and went with Greg McMicheal to face Kirby Puckett -- Puckett makes him pay, with a two-run double to the left-center gap. Twins now lead, 2-1, with no outs.

The bullpen's execution in both Games 2 & 3 for the Braves have been awful!

McMichael would continue to walk Kent Hrbek, and then would allow a single to the Game 2 walk-off hero, Brian Harper... Bases loaded, no outs. I decided to still with McMicheal, since his postseason numbers have been great, and he walks Marty Cordova, walking in the run. I go to the pen again & call on Mike Stanton to face Chili Davis, Stanton rewards me with that move, by also walking in a run. The Braves would finally record an out, as Pedro Munoz grounded to third, and was thrown out at first, but another run scores, making it 4-1, with runners on 2nd & 3rd. Dante Bichette would hit a sac fly to right, scoring in another run. Stanton would end the bleeding, by striking out Matt Lawton, who kicked off this inning.

What a nightmare!

John Smiley is done for the day, going 7 strong innings, with 4 K, while allowing 6 hits & a walk... Gary Wayne comes in and shuts the door on the Braves with 2 strong innings of relief.

The Braves now trail the series, when it really should be 2-1 in Braves favor, the Braves have to be kicking themselves right now.

Another quick note on Smiley, his 1992 postseason record is 3-0, with a 1.66 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, with 11 K in 21.2 innings (3 starts).

GAME 4 (at Atlanta)

The Braves send their southpaw Tom Glavine (15-8, 2.81 ERA) against the surprising Twins rookie Brad Radke (12-9, 3.30) -- Will he continue to surprise, or will his inexperience show against these Braves? The Braves will need every break they can get at this point, after two bad performances by their bullpen.

Things start off sloppy for the Braves, as Tom Glavine surrenders a lead-off double to Chuck Knoblauch. In his match-up against Kirby Puckett, he would throw a wild pitch, that would advance Knoblauch to third -- with Puckett eventually drawing a walk. Two batters later, Brian Harper would knock in Knoblauch, while Puckett advances to second on Harper's RBI single. Kent Hrbek and Greg Gagne would collect RBI singles, to make it, 3-0 Twins after the top of the 1st.

Terry Pendleton's RBI single in the bottom of the 1st, helps keep the Braves within reach.

Bottom of the 2nd, Mark Lemke leads off with a double, followed by a walk to Dave Valle. The Braves' starting pitcher Tom Glavine helps his own cause with an RBI double into the right-center gap, as Valle holds at third; Braves trail 3-2, with runners on 2nd & 3rd with no outs. Brad Radke gets a much-needed strike out against Otis Nixon, while Chipper Jones flies to center, with Valle taking no chance on Kirby Puckett's arm. Batting .280 with runners in scoring position, Terry Pendleton knocks in Valle on a single to right, tying the game at 3-3. Radke gets Dave Justice to fly to right to finish the inning.

Top of the 3rd - Brian Harper leads off the inning with a double, he would eventually score on a Pedro Munoz sac fly to right, giving back the lead to Minnesota, 4-3.

Bottom of the 3rd - Brad Radke strikes out the side in Sid Bream, Deion Sanders & Mark Lemke, as he appears to be settling in.

Bichette delivers lethal hit against Atlanta.
Innings later, top of the 7th, Braves' reliever Juan Berenguer plunks Brian Harper with a pitch, walks Kent Hrbek. With one out, the Twins call on lefty Matt Lawton to pinch-hit, the Braves counter with a southpaw in Kent Mercker; Lawton flies to right for the 2nd out. Mercker walks Pedro Munoz to load the bases, as the Twins send up Dante Bichette; Bichette makes Mercker pay with bases-clearing triple, to give the Twins a comfortable 7-3 lead.

Dave Justice tries to keep the Braves' hopes alive with solo HR off of Twins' reliever Bill Krueger during the bottom of the 7th.

Bottom of the 9th, Twins call on their closer Rick Aguilera. Chipper Jones leads off with a single to right. Thought about hit & run, and swung away with Terry Pendleton as he hits it to the second baseman & gets the force at second, if I did hit & run, I would probably have a runner at second in Jones, instead of a runner at first in Pendleton, with one out. Aguilera would get Justice to fly out & Bream to ground out, as the Twins now own a 3-1 lead, with the Braves on the brink of elimination.

GAME 5 (at Atlanta)

Steve Avery with Bobby Cox prior to start.
Desperation is in the air for the Braves, as they decide to bench struggling Sid Bream (.205 AVG & .250 OBP) in favor to get Lonnie Smith's bat into the lineup, with Lonnie playing first. Deion Sanders' bat has been hot the last few games, and he will stay in left. Lonnie is batting .500 with a HR & 6 RBI in 18 at-bats this postseason, as his career postseason numbers have him batting .302, 4 HR & 17 RBI with a .801 OPS in 205 at-bats -- He has played 42 playoff games for the Phillies, Cardinals, Royals & Braves.

The pitching match-up is between playoff stud Steve Avery of the Braves & Twins' Scott Erickson, who has not been great in the playoffs (Career: 0-2 with 4.62 ERA). The Braves' goal is to provide offense to keep Avery out there, and to keep the pen sitting.

Brian Harper's RBI double during the top of the 3rd broke the game's short scoring drought, to give the Twinkies a 1-0 lead... while the Braves answered back with a RBI sac fly by Dave Justice, tying the game up.

Greg Gagne led off 4th inning with a triple & would score on Dante Bichette's sac fly. Once again, Atlanta literally matches Minnesota with lead-off triple by Deion Sanders, who scores on a sac fly by Dave Valle.

With a 2-2 tie entering the 5th, the game has not gone exactly great for Steve Avery so far, who has shown that he's human in this one, allowing 7 hits & a walk, the first 4 innings.

The Twins' starter Scott Erickson did his part by allowing only 2 runs, 6 hits & 2 walks, with 3 strikeouts in 6 innings of work; Gary Wayne comes in to take over during the bottom of the 7th.

Chipper: The kid delivers huge two-run single.
Wayne would allow a lead-off single to Mark Lemke, while the Braves decide to keep Steve Avery (who has settled down the last 3 innings) in the game, as he successfully lays down a sacrifice bunt to move Lemke over to second. Otis Nixon draws the one-out walk, putting runners on both 1st & 2nd for Chipper Jones at the plate; A wild pitch by Wayne during the at-bat, advances the runners to 2nd & 3rd. Jones hits two-run single to left, Braves take 4-2 lead.

That would be it for Wayne, as reliever Mark Guthrie comes in to face Terry Pendleton; Pendleton delivers single to left, runners on 1st & 2nd, still one out. Guthrie strikes out Dave Justice for out number two, with Lonnie Smith nearly knocking one out to deep center, but Kirby Puckett was at the warning track to end the inning.

Top of the 8th, after lead-off single to Kirby Puckett, Deion Sanders makes diving catch in foul territory on a ball hit by Marty Cordova; Sanders is injured in the process, as Lonnie Smith will move to his natural position of left field to take Sanders' spot, and Sid Bream will come in to play first. Brian Harper hits into a 6-4-3 double play and ends the inning.

Bottom of the 8th - Dave Valle hits one-out single to right, Mark Lemke bunts Valle over to second, for the 2nd out. Braves make tough decision and pinch-hit for Steve Avery, who only had 82 pitches under his belt (but his health meter in Out of the Park had him in the red / really tired) -- So Braves will call on Ryan Klesko, so far, 0-for-5 this postseason (5-for-9 during the season) in pinch-hitting duty. Klesko grounds out to finish the inning.

The Braves will call on southpaw Mike Stanton, who has fared better than some of the other Atlanta relievers of late, as he will face lefty Kent Hrbek; Hrbek draws a lead-off walk. Greg Gagne strikes out for the 1st out. Stanton walks the tying run with Pedro Munoz on 1st, while Bobby Cox goes out to the mound & calls on Greg McMicheal, the Braves only need two outs, a double play would get them out of this inning & secure a much-needed win. Chili Davis flies to right, with the runners staying put. It all comes down to Matt Lawton, he lines it to Terry Pendleton who makes a diving catch on the third base line, a few inches further to his left, and that ball was going to the left field corner.

Braves win, and will live to play another day! This series goes back to Minnesota. The Game 6 starters will be John Smoltz (Braves) & Kevin Tapani (Twins).

Thursday, November 2, 2017

2017 Updated Project, Expansion & Setup (OOTP 18)

Oakland's new digs (Just imagine its in Portland over this San Jose projection).

In my 2017 Updated Rosters Project, I managed the 2017 Detroit Tigers to a 73-89 record. With all the talk of expansion, and my curiosity of how expansion works on Out of the Park 2018, I decided to jump the gun & have 2018 be the season to welcome two new expansion teams. I also decided to relocate two MLB franchises, in much need for a change of scenery.

The Oakland Athletics have been in dire need for a new stadium for some time, with the city of Oakland not wanting to build a new stadium, it was a no-brainer for the franchise to move to a city that has been wanting baseball in the city of Portland, Oregon. The Athletics have made their 3rd move now in franchise history.

  • Philadelphia Athletics (1860-1875, 1901-1954)
  • Kansas City Athletics (1955-1967)
  • Oakland Athletics (1968-2017)
  • Portland Athletics (2018-)
It would be more realistic of the Athletics moving as early as 2020, but I couldn't control myself.

Another relocation will be the Tampa Bay Rays moving to Canada & becoming the 2nd come-around for the Montreal Expos; One play won't even notice that they left, while the other team will welcome it in open arms. 

The two new expansion teams will be the Charlotte Aviators and the Oklahoma City Barons. This made the league a total 32 teams, which I came up with the concept in my two expansion posts a ways back in the following blog pieces...
Part II featured the following set-up that I decided to go with below...

Baltimore Orioles
Boston Red Sox
New York Yankees
Toronto Blue Jays

Nothing really changes, besides the Tampa Bay Rays leaving their tomb in St.Petersburg to become the Montreal Expos in the N.L. East.

Chicago White Sox
Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Milwaukee Brewers

This was a tough one, I know Milwaukee Brewers fans would start getting a headache (if they haven't had one already) with this move. I grew up on Baseball in the late 70's & 80's, and there was always something special with my Tigers playing these three other Great Lakes located teams... all blue collar cities. I didn't want to move Houston back so soon, and I like the idea of these rivalries to start again.

Houston Astros
Kansas City Royals
Minnesota Twins
Oklahoma City Barons

The Houston Astros and Kansas City Royals would become division rivals which I feel will be exciting especially since its not been that long ago that the two teams played in an exciting 2015 A.L. Divisional Series. Throw in the Minnesota Twins & the new expansion Oklahoma City Barons, and you got a fun division.

Colorado Rockies
Los Angeles Angels
Portland Athletics
Seattle Mariners

I can hear the moans already, but hear me out! I felt that the two Texas teams, plus Oklahoma City all being in one league -- needed more balance with the fan bases, so I separated the two Texas teams, the Texas Rangers move to the National League, while the Colorado Rockies move over to the American League... Also another reason I went with OKC over San Antonio (another city heavy in the expansion talk).

Now over to the National League...

New York Mets
Philadelphia Phillies
Montreal Expos
Washington Nationals

The thought of Montreal & Washington being division rivals is a bit weird, but who can argue against having the Montreal Expos back?! Plus seeing Chris Archer & Evan Longoria wearing Expos jerseys is certainly a treat.

Chicago Cubs
Cincinnati Reds
Pittsburgh Pirates
St. Louis Cardinals

It's the current setup, minus the Milwaukee Brewers.

Atlanta Braves
Charlotte Aviators
Miami Marlins
Texas Rangers

The Atlanta Braves, Charlotte Aviators & Miami Marlins will have a strong southeast deal going on, while the Texas Rangers are just tad further west. 

Arizona Diamondbacks
Los Angeles Dodgers
San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants

The same old N.L. West without Colorado. The Dodgers' Triple-A team had to relocate to Mesa, Arizona (Mesa Dodgers) from Oklahoma City, as the Barons take over their stadium digs.

Also I decided on All-DH while the league is still inter-league, if more teams join in the future, we may have to do away with inter-league, and revisit the pitchers batting deal.... That's for the owners & players to discuss at their next labor negotiations.

I am doing 6 playoff teams each league, 4 division winners, 2 wild cards, with 2 'byes' per league. The #4 vs #5 ranked and #6 vs #3 teams will play a best-of-three (home-field for last 2 games). I thought 8 teams going to playoffs from a 16-team league seemed too much, but that could change if I find the current playoff race not interesting & in a desperate need of a spark.

I have also decided all playoff games start no later than 6 p.m. Eastern Time... hahahaha, I wish I had the power with that move, just thought I would throw my two cents in with that department.

Coming up soon.... 
The Expansion Teams themselves...

Oh by the way, I stepped down from being the General Manager of the Tigers, and will be running the baseball operations for the Charlotte Aviators!

Woo Hoo! Time to climb from the bottom!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...