Friday, March 30, 2018

My Quick A.L. Central Preview


The Cleveland Indians' amazing run came to an end when they ran into the Baby Bombers in the American League Division Series last season. They will have to clean the slate, while they make another strong attempt at a world championship.

For the most part, much of their roster is returning, they did lose a few bullpen arms, but still should be among the league's best in that department... while the team said goodbye to team staple Carlos Santana (who signed with the Phillies). The Indians would sign 1B-Yonder Alonso to take the place of Santana.

Cleveland needs Trevor Bauer to step up (it's a make-or-break season for him), while they need Danny Salazar to stay healthy. With the emergence of Mike Clevinger last season, I would put Clevinger in the rotation, and take advantage of Salazar's power arm in the bullpen... that would be a nasty weapon coming out of the pen to go along with Cody Allen, Andrew Miller, Dan Otero, Zack McAllister, Nick Goody & Tyler Olson.

Jason Kipnis had an excellent spring, if he can play closer to his All-Star years rather than last year, it will make Cleveland's situation as a championship contender so much better... So for now, he stays at second while Jose Ramirez remains at third. Ramirez stepped up to another level last year, as he fell short in the A.L. MVP race.... he is personally one of my favorite players to watch.

I am not sure about their outfield situation overall, you have Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall, who both have a difficult time staying healthy, while rising star Bradley Zimmer will be solid in center. I question if they should have added or found a healthy, outfielder with power.... we'll have to wait and see if this will be a area that they will upgrade once the trade deadline comes.

The Tribe really have no overall holes, but I feel that overall they are not as solid as the Yankees.

The Minnesota Twins plan to take that next step this season, they made the moves to make this progression & should have no problem making the post-season. True, they won't catch anyone by surprise this season, but they have a strong young core of players led by a few veterans to make them competitive enough to play with the big boys this fall.

Ervin Santana may have a hard time duplicating last season, but should still have a strong season... Jose Berrios is developing nicely, and is getting closer to being ace material.  Adding Lance Lynn was a nice touch, giving the rotation more stability with adding another veteran... but don't expect him to be as good as he was during his peak in St. Louis. The team also acquired starter Jake Odorizzi from Tampa Bay.

The bullpen added vets in Fernando Rodney and Addison Reed, to go along with youngsters Taylor Rogers and Trevor Hildenberger.

The team has solid depth on the bench, while also having their best pitching staff in quite some time.

The Chicago White Sox may not look like much right now, but with the army of prospects and rising stars, this team is a quiet storm a brewing. Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Carlos RodonMichael Kopech, Carson Fulmer, Dylan Cease, Reynaldo LopezEloy Jimenez among others, are going to change the losing atmosphere in Chicago, but will have to take their lumps for now.

They did add veteran catcher Welington Castillo to help anchor the young rotation.

The bullpen could definitely use some arms, I would say this is their obvious weakness, while other areas are starting shed some light & hope. One things for sure, plenty of players will get plenty of opportunities.

The Detroit Tigers traded away fan favorites Justin Verlander, J.D. Martinez, Justin Upton, Alex Avila and Justin Wilson last season, for the most part, those deals brought plenty of prospects back in return. One of those prospects was Jeimer Candelario who is already winning many Tiger fans' hearts, he will be fun to watch growing.

Good news, we still have Miguel Cabrera, he should bounce back a bit, but his dominant days may be over.

Their off-season additions however are nothing to rave about. Spending $1.5 million on Leonys Martin was a head-scratcher, when he could have easily landed with us, under a minor league contract / non-roster invitee deal. Adding Mike Fiers was nothing more than adding a veteran arm to the rotation, it'll be extra insurance in case Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd falter again... both showed some hope in late 2017, so there is reason to be optimistic.

Detroit needs help everywhere, but most notably the bullpen, there is Shane Greene, Joe Jimenez and practically nothing else.

I wrote a past article a few months ago, that the Tigers would be "historically bad", but I forgot to calculate the wins they would get against Kansas City & Chicago... Those three teams will beat up on each other. For now, players like Mikie Mahtook, John Hicks, Niko Goodrum & Victor Reyes all get to place house for a bit.

The Kansas City Royals are back in the cellar after an amazing short run, they said goodbye to Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain, while a bizarre, slow market helped the team luck out by resigning Mike Moustakas. Adding Lucas Duda and Jon Jay are productive moves, while they can hope for the good, old Alex Gordon makes a return of sorts.

They also seem to be having bad luck with Jorge Bonifacio popped for 80-game suspension (drug use), while Salvador Perez fell down his stairs at home.

Jorge Soler will get his at-bats this season, so it's time for this underachieving talent to finally perform or shut up.

1. Cleveland
2. Minnesota*
3. Chicago (A)
4/5 - Detroit or Kansas City
All three teams can really be interchangeable when you think about it.

*-Wild Card

Thursday, March 29, 2018

My Quick A.L. East Preview

With a lot of time going to other projects such as my own 2017 APBA Season, and projects for the Boys of Summer APBA Baseball League, I have limited time dedicated for anything else...

So here is my quick A.L. Preview


The New York Yankees made an impressive splash in 2017, their quest to once again dominate Major League Baseball came a bit early last year... or was it? Their Pythagorean record had them closer to 99 wins than the 91 wins that they generated... now add Giancarlo Stanton to the equation, plus two more later March pickups in Brandon Drury and Neil Walker, and the team is now ready to go.

The team's lineup is an opposing nightmare to all pitchers, while their bullpen is absolutely tops, with really no weakness. Their rotation is more formidable than it has been in years, with Luis Severino emerging as an ace, while Sonny Gray will be more comfortable in the Bronx, now that he has had a chance to settle in.

This team also has prospects coming in Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres, while you can expect them to possibly land someone like Manny Machado during next off-season. For Yankee haters, you better buckle up, it's going to be a long ride.

The Boston Red Sox seem to be an enigma each off-season, which direction are they heading, up or down? It really all comes down to health with them, and all those answers rely on players like Dustin Pedroia, David Price, Drew Pomeranz, Chris Sale & J.D. Martinez.

Pedroia in many ways is still the team captain, but its hard to do anything with that role, if you are never on the field. Boston would love to get Price back to his Cy Young-caliber seasons, while hoping that Sale doesn't tired down as he did last year. J.D. seem destined to land with Boston the moment he hit the free agent market, was there really any doubt? The new question is will his contract payoff? The talent is there for sure, but he has only played a full healthy season in 2015, while he averages 130 games & 482 at-bats per season since his first full season with the Tigers back in 2014.

You gotta love the trio of outfielders of Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr & Andrew Benintendi, plus the rising star at third in Rafael Devers. Mookie had a bit of a down year, and should bounce back into the A.L. MVP talks, while Boston needs Benintendi not to be so streaky, he's capable of being more consistent & is capable of winning a future batting title.

They should still make it as a wild card, all depending on how serious the L.A. Angels actually are.

The Toronto Blue Jays, I believe is heading the opposite direction, they don't look better than a third place team to me. I think adding Randall Grichuk is good move, but their rotation has always been a question mark, they seem to underachieve each season, while Marcus Stroman would look dominate one day and then so-so his next outing, you expect more from an ace. If Josh Donaldson can shake off the D.L. bug, I believe he could have another legit MVP season. A lot also depends on the health of starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez.

Buck Showalter always seems to get the best out of his Baltimore Orioles, much of their success happened without having a legit rotation, while depending strongly on their bullpen. The bullpen will start season with some hiccups with Zach Britton on the disabled list until June... They will have to depend on Brad Brach to be their closer for now.

Adding Alex Cobb and Andrew Cashner were good signings, Cobb has always been a consistent, solid control pitcher with low ERA and good WHIP, his problem has always been his health. Cashner had a good bounce-back year in lonesome Texas, and although asking for a repeat performance may be much, it's still better than what the O's have been plugging in there (the lower parts of the rotation).

I do question the move of Manny Machado to short, with Tim Beckham moving over to third. This move seemed to have been made, due to Beckham's defense. While playing APBA for my 2017 season with 2018 acquisitions updated, through Optional Fielding, and with Machado over at short, and Beckham at third, I have already noticed that their defense is shedding runs for the opposition. 

Seven games in, and there has already been plenty of times, that Machado would have made that double play (runners on 1st & 2nd) on dice roll 16-28... or getting that force (runners on first) at second, rather than settling on a 5-3 ground out, putting a runner at second... those situations add up to plenty of runs for the opposition. 

I get that putting Jonathan Schoop and Machado together makes a stronger middle infield, but with more balls naturally hit to the left side and at third, you have a weaker defender at the hot corner... I think it was better the way it was, plus the pitchers need all the help they can get on defense.

The Tampa Bay Rays made plenty of moves this off-season...for the better? Now that's the real question, I don't knock them trading Evan Longoria, but I do have to question them basically giving away Corey Dickerson for free to Pittsburgh. The move made plenty in the clubhouse, Kevin Kiermaier most noticeably, question their upper management. Trading Jake Odorizzi seemed to be good payroll-shedding trade, but then some of their depth in Jose DeLeon and Brent Honeywell fell victim to Tommy John, while Nathan Eovaldi (victim of two Tommy John injuries) will have surgery and won't be part of the rotation for at least 8 weeks from what I am reading. Their four-man rotation at the moment appears to be Chris Archer, Jake Faria, Blake Snell and Austin Pruitt; They did acquire Anthony Banda in the three-team trade that sent Steven Souza packing his bags for Arizona... so Banda could be an option.

This team is going nowhere in 2018, but have plenty to be excited about with prospects like Willy Adames and Jake Bauers.

1. New York (A)
2. Boston*
3. Toronto
4. Baltimore
5. Tampa Bay

*-Wild Card

Saturday, March 24, 2018

100 Games in 2 Weeks

So I just purchased the 2017 APBA Baseball Set, and merged it with some of my 2018 Projections cards (that I created), which features predicted projections from bounce-back guys and prospects. For example, I created cards for pitcher Shohei Ohtani (Los Angeles Angels) and outfielder Ronald Acuna (Atlanta Braves). I also updated all the major trades, while using real-life injuries effecting the rosters as well.

I started playing the season, March 10th (Saturday), two weeks ago...
I have played 100 games since.

Yes, you have read that correctly.

To also put this accomplishment into stronger perspective, the following things have also happened during the last two weeks...

  • I still slept, eat, and used the restroom facilities. 
  • I went to work 5 days a week.

  • I participated in an online draft for our Boys of Summer APBA Baseball (Computer) League Draft, which took somewhere between 5 & 6 hours, with 12 rounds.
  • I went to my folks' house to celebrate my father's 61st birthday.
  • Watched about 8 hours of 'Elementary' with the wife. 
  • The wife and I, had a celebration dinner another night.
  • Plus we were intimate 5 times as well.

So yes.... I did have time for other things as well, plus a two blog pieces.

I will tell you more about the project in another post to come.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

The 1940 Detroit Tigers (My GMABT V Selection)

As my readers will know, I recently missed my first Greater Michigan APBA Baseball Tournament this year, something that I thought would never happen...

But there will be no missing next March's 5th edition of the tournament, as next year's theme will be any team in either league between 1940-1968 (pitchers will hit). Once I found out the theme, I glanced over the APBA teams that I own from that period, which is really not many for me, but probably more than other APBA owners.

Here is a list of those teams...
  • 1940 Detroit Tigers
  • 1940 Cincinnati Reds
  • 1942 St. Louis Cardinals
  • 1944 St. Louis Browns
  • 1946 Boston Red Sox
  • 1948 Cleveland Indians
  • 1948 Boston Braves
  • 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers
  • 1953 New York Yankees
  • 1954 Cleveland Indians
  • 1957 Milwaukee Braves
  • 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates
  • 1962 Los Angeles Dodgers
  • 1962 San Francisco Giants
  • 1963 Los Angeles Dodgers
I have created the following teams via Baseball for Windows, although legit card numbers & information on the cards, the teams at certain tournaments may or may not be accepted...
  • 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers
  • 1965 Minnesota Twins
  • 1966 Baltimore Orioles
When I first found out the theme, my first two thoughts were the 1946 Boston Red Sox (that I play really well with & were Runners-Up during my Tournament II / 64 teams) and the 1957 Milwaukee Braves... both were taken. I thought really hard about the 1948 Boston Braves, who were available at the time, but was undecided while trying to pick between them and the 1940 Detroit Tigers.

I eventually chose the Tigers, and quickly... because it is a Michigan tournament, and the guys (like myself) love the Tigers, so within 10 minutes of learning the theme, I messaged Rich, and the 1940 Tigers became my official selection.

The Detroit Tigers have a strong lineup led by Hank Greenberg, Charlie Gehringer, Rudy York & Barney McCosky. I believe the team's On-Base + Slugging [OPS] was .806, which is excellent. I decided I will take an APBA-ball approach by moving Dick Bartell out of the lead-off spot to 9th, with his low .665 OPS.

The lineup will be as follows...
  1. Barney McCosky - CF     (.340 BA, 4 HR, 57 RBI & 13 SB / .899 OPS)
  2. Charlie Gehringer - 2B     (.313 BA, 10 HR, 81 RBI & 10 SB / .875 OPS)
  3. Hank Greenberg - LF     (.340 BA, 41 HR, 150 RBI / 1.103 OPS)
  4. Rudy York - 1B     (.316 BA, 33 HR, 134 RBI / .993 OPS)
  5. Billy Sullivan - C     (.309 BA, 3 HR, 41 RBI / .849 OPS)
  6. Bruce Campbell - RF     (.283 BA, 8 HR, 44 RBI / .829 OPS)
  7. Pinky Higgins - 3B     (.271 BA, 13 HR, 76 RBI / .771 OPS)
  8. Dick Bartell - SS     (.233 BA, 7 HR, 53 RBI & 12 SB / .665 OPS)
  9. (Pitcher)
Schoolboy Rowe will bat 8th, when he pitches... He batted .269 with a HR & 18 RBI in 67 at-bats.

I decided to bat Billy Sullivan 5th over Bruce Campbell (although Campbell has more power), due to better batting average & the fact that Campbell hits into much more double plays. I also like the idea of guaranteeing Greenberg a 1st inning appearance.

McCosky is a triples machine (19), and that sets up Greenberg nicely, in case Gehringer strikes out or doesn't advance the runner... all Greenberg would have to roll is a 11, 22, 33, 44 & 66 to send it over the fence.

I have an excellent top 4 hitters up at the top, with 2 other players over .800 OPS, while at the same time my bottom three hitters drop off, so I have to make sure I continue to roll hot with the top 4-6 hitters. I will not be doing any pinch-hitting for the most part, because I will simply not want to go to my pen, which is awful for the most part. I will have to rely heavily on my 1-2-3 B-Rotation, roll hot, and stick with a consistent lineup.

I am also playing APBA-Ball (as some call it) where you go with the best hitters at top regardless of where they actually hit; Dick Bartell was the actual lead-off hitter for the 1940 Tigers, but I am going with Barney McCosky instead.

I won the 2nd Greater Michigan APBA Baseball Tournament by sticking with a consistent lineup, all B-Rotation & strong pen. I did lousy my 1st GMABT with the 1917 Chicago White Sox by juggling the lineup too often.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

GMABT IV: Nice Guys Finish First (Spatz & Zawadzki)

Pastor Rich (left) with Rob Spatz.
Green Day may have got it all wrong with their song "Nice Guys Finish Last", because from where I stand the nice guys seem to be finishing first.

This past weekend was bittersweet for me, I unfortunately had to miss my very first Greater Michigan APBA Baseball Tournament (cancelling a few months ago) due to financial reasons (saving up for my sister's wedding). The payoff would be reading the results & seeing pictures of my friend Rob Spatz winning the trophy.

I was also looking forward to congratulating another good friend, Rich Zawadzki in person, for his recent APBA championship, as he won the 2017 Chicagoland (Fall Edition) APBA Tournament. Pastor Rich, year-after-year (since 2015) has hosted the Greater Michigan APBA Baseball Tournament, as he always puts on a top-notch tournament that is well-executed & well-organized. From what I gathered through the years, Rich may be the very best APBA tourney host out there... I mean, there is no holes in his swing.

It was fitting to see him win the tournament in Chicago (which is hosted by Rob Spatz), and then to watch Rob win the Greater Michigan (hosted by Rich).... Only in the APBA universe this can only happen... seriously, who writes this stuff?!

It was great to see all the pictures & videos of the event, those made me feel a tad bit better, but nothing beats seeing all these wonderful faces in person....

Knowing my luck, I would have been in the Hal McRae Division, with my 1997 Baltimore Orioles facing Ron Emch's 1982 Milwaukee Brewers... Why would I assume that? Well.. Each of my first three tournaments, I always had my friend Ron to face in my division.

Sorry, that I had to break our streak Ron.

I cringe at the thought that I will forever be guessing my chances with such a underrated gem in the 97' Orioles, wondering how they would have performed... I do plan to use this team in a future tournament somewhere, I owe the team that.

But the reality is that I was not there, I was not 1 of 17 attendees that made it to all four Greater Michigan Tournaments, there are 16 members to accomplish that feat. I will say, I do not plan to miss another Michigan tourney.

The scene at the Greater Michigan APBA Baseball Tournament IV.
It is our love that keeps bringing us back to this wonderful tournament, and the friendships that we have made along the way.

The size of the tournament has been steadily increasing through the years...

  • 2015 (31 Managers)
  • 2016 (35 Managers)
  • 2017 (39 Managers)
  • 2018 (48 Managers)
Next March's tournament has already 48 managers signed up.

I think it was a good move decreasing the opening bracket games from 10 to 8, entering 2017's tournament. 10 games was a lot, which was the case in 2016, when my 1993 Atlanta Braves went 8-2 in the opening bracket, and then sweeping the 3 playoff games (11-2) to win the GMABT II.

Another thing that is quite noticeable is how much the family dynamic has increased since the first tournament, more families are involved, which is a great thing, passing this wonderful game down from generation to generation. 

Rich mentions the family dynamic in the following Thank-you Facebook post below...

Speaking of family, all of these wonderful people that we have become friends with due to all these tournaments has made us one complete APBA family. It is good to know that we can find healthy escapes like APBA, in which for a day or a couple days of the year, we can go manage a team, relive our childhood, in an attempt to lead our team to the championship.

*** More Results, News & Photos of the GMABT IV to come... ***

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