Monday, July 29, 2019

1998 Off-Season (No Expansion / OOTP)

Pictured above: Belle, Walker, Milliams, Boone, R.Johnson, Boggs, Clemens, Vaughn & Leiter.

A Brave New World

The off-season kicked off with the Atlanta Braves signing both Johnny Damon (9 years/$74.5 million) and Jason Giambi (8 years/$54 million) to contract extensions that will keep them wearing tomahawks on the front of their jerseys for years and years...

Damon, 24, is coming off a career year in which he won the N.L. Batting Title (.338), while also leading the league in hits (220), runs (142) & triples (11). Damon hit 22 HR, 90 RBI, while stealing 32 bases -- plus he won his 3rd Gold Glove, while winning a Platinum Slugger Award.

Giambi, 26, is coming off back-to-back solid seasons for the Bravos. Giambi hit .302, 33 HR & 97 RBI during the 1996 MLB Season, while he followed that with a .314, 27 HR & 117 RBI tag line. Giambi had a .894 OPS in each of those seasons, while collecting at least 200 hits in each, with a combined 9.9 WAR during the two-year period.

The Braves saw a great opportunity in building a offensive nucleus that will go along with Chipper Jones, who is signed through the 2004 season.

The Braves are one of the most, if not most successful franchise of the 1990's, as their winning percentage has ranged from no lower than .580 (1991) to as high as .654 (1996).

1997 Award Winners

The Toronto Blue Jays' Larry Walker has won his 3rd Most Valuable Player of the Year Award, all of them while playing north of the border in his native Canada. Walker, previously won the 1992 & 1994 N.L. MVP Awards while playing for the Expos, while this season he won his 1st A.L. version of the award, while playing for the Jays.

Walker batted .359 with 40 HR & 119 RBI, while leading the A.L. with a 1.092 OPS & .651 slugging (.441 on-base percentage) -- All except for the homers & ribbies, were career bests.

Toronto acquired Walker, prior to the season from the Oakland Athletics, in exchange for star second baseman Roberto Alomar and pitcher Derek Lowe. Walker signed a 8-year, $48.7 million deal with Oakland back in December 1994, and is signed through the 2002 season.

The N.L. MVP Award was won by the Pittsburgh Pirates' Ken Griffey, Jr., in his very first year with the team. It was definitely different to see him playing anywhere but Seattle, as he signed a 7-year deal worth $52.4 million, back in November 1996.

Griffey led the N.L. with 55 HR, 147 RBI, .614 slugging & .984 OPS. It was Junior's 2nd straight year of topping the half-century mark in homers, while he has compiled 305 RBI over that period as well. Griffey was the significant reason that the Pirates surprised everyone, by winning the N.L. East last season.

The Rookies of the Year were both outfielders in Mark Kotsay (Baltimore / A.L.) and J.D. Drew (San Francisco / N.L.). Drew hit 26 HR & 99 RBI for the Giants, while Kotsay batted .291 with 11 HR for the Orioles.

Pedro Martinez won his very first N.L. Cy Young Award, which may become the first of many, as he went 20-5 with a league-best 2.29 ERA, 272 strikeouts & 10.2 WAR for the Dodgers in 1997. Pedro's career consists of a 67-30 record, 2.84 ERA & 1,089 strikeouts through 942.2 innings.

Pedro watched his 1997 salary of $3.2 million jump to $5.6 million (thanks to arbitration), while he is signed through the 1998 MLB Season.

The Yankees' Sterling Hitchcock had an excellent year, posting a 17-7 record & league-leading 2.54 ERA, on his way to winning the A.L. Cy Young Award. Hitchcock logged 172 strikeouts, 1.09 WHIP & 4.7 WAR, while helping the Yankees win the A.L. Pennant.

New Faces in New Places 

Last season was just the beginning for the Pittsburgh Pirates (landing Griffey) as they just inked a 4-year deal with Albert Belle worth $37.6 million ($9.4 million per year). The two players may be stark in difference when it comes to personality, but both combined are likely to give N.L. pitchers nightmares on a nightly basis.

The defending World Champs made a huge splash in signing Randy Johnson to a 4-year deal worth $34.4 million. The signing will give the Dodgers a two-headed monster at the top of that rotation in Johnson & Pedro. Late January, Al Leiter signed a 5-year deal with the Dodgers.

Roger Clemens, 35, changed Sox, by signing with the Chicago White Sox, which he signed a 3-year deal worth $17.1 million. Clemens has not logged a season with double-digit wins since his 1993 campaign, and has a 31-48 record during the past 4 seasons.

The lifelong Twins starting pitcher Scott Erickson, will be wearing a different uniform for a change, this time in kelly green. The Athletics netted the star for 5 years, $21.4 million.

The World Champion Dodgers' rotation took a little hit (little since they landed the "Big Unit"), as Pedro Astacio signed a 5-year deal for $33.5 million with the Cincinnati Reds. Astacio has a 74-51 career record with a 3.25 ERA.

The Minnesota Twins land 3B-Matt Williams to a 6-year deal with an annual salary of $6.8 million. Williams spent the past 5 seasons with the Blue Jays. Matty also has 324 career home runs, while hitting 40+ HR for 4 straight years from 1992-1995.

The Pirates continued to show that they are serious about contending, by acquiring some pitching in starter Alex Fernandez ($30 million over 4 years) and reliever Tom Gordon (3-yr deal for annual salary of $1.58 m).

The Seattle Mariners land John Burkett to a 5-year deal worth $28.5 million. Burkett is just two years removed from his 20-win season for the Angels.

Todd Stottlemyre settled on a 5-year deal worth $38.4 million ($7.68 m/per yr) with the Rangers. The Rangers want to make it back to the playoffs, after being within one game of their first World Series appearance.

Brady Anderson lands on his 4th team since departing Baltimore in February of 1994. Brady signed a 5-year deal worth $31 million ($6.2 m/per year).

Lifelong Giants star, Will Clark, signs a 4-year deal with the Twins worth $15.36 million.

Andy Benes signed a 2-year deal worth $6.48 million with the Giants. Benes spent most of his career with the Padres, until being acquired in a deal with the Braves last season. With the Braves, Benes struggled with 6-7 record & 5.17 ERA over 17 starts.

Doug Jones, 40, coming off a season where he led the A.L. in Saves (40) as a Royal, will take his 258 career saves with him to the Texas Rangers, in a 2-year deal worth $2.28 million. The Royals answered back by signing Jose Mesa to a 3-year deal for a total of $4.08 million, which promises Mesa the closing role.

The Dodgers land RP-Heathcliff Slocumb to a 1-year deal worth $1.24 million. Slocumb has quietly compiled 118 saves over the last 4 years with the Cubs. The Dodgers also traded OF-Henry Rodriguez to the Giants, in exchange for SS-Royce Clayton; Clayton will be a step-up from Dave Berg last season.

Chris Hoiles, after an off-year in Cincinnati, signed a 3-year deal with the Minnesota Twins for $8.28 million. Hoiles failed to hit 20 home runs for the first time in 6 years.

The Twins also added SP-Jaime Moyer to a possible 3-year deal that could net $18 million.

The Kansas City Royals acquired 2B-Mickey Morandini from Seattle, in exchange for prospects SP-Gil Meche, SS-Sean Hagen & LF-Justin Bowles.

The Detroit Tigers apparently see something in veteran RP-Anthony Telford, so much that they traded C-Bobby Estalella, SP-Ryan Glynn, 3B-Gabe Alvarez & $50,000 in cash to the Giants in exchange for his talents. The Tigers also landed veteran John Franco in a one-year deal worth $1.1 million; Franco owns 288 career saves.

Staying Put

Barry Larkin signed a 5-year extension to stay put in Texas, for $51.2 million. Larkin is a 9-time All-Star, with 8 Platinum Slugger Awards.

Mark McGwire signed a 4-year extension with the Oakland Athletics, at a rate of $11.6 million per year, while he closes in on career #500 in the home run department (currently sits at 447).

Brave Additions

The Atlanta Braves acquired the following...
  • SP-Steve Trachsel to a 6-year deal worth $11.3 million.
  • 2B-Bret Boone to a 2-year deal worth $2 million.
  • SS-Mike Bordick to a 1-year deal worth $600,000.
  • SP-Rick Ankiel (1998 1st Round Draft Pick - 27th Overall) to a minor league contract & $630,000 signing bonus.
  • Drafted OF-Jeff Abbott (Rule 5), promoting him to the big league roster.
  • Traded SS-Jeff Blauser to the Houston Astros in exchange for C-Benito Santiago.
  • Traded OF-Ruben Rivera (while retaining $1.3 million of his 1998 salary) & RP-Scott Schoeneweis to the Cincinnati Reds for prospects IF-Mike Caruso, RP-Corey Ehlers & SP-Adam Virchis.
  • Signed IF-Mike Benjamin to a minor league deal.
  • Trades SP-Alan Benes in a salary-cut move to the Houston Astros, in exchange for P-Cory Lidle, RP-Lorenzo Barcelo, and minor league IF-Ramon Martinez & RF-Chris Bryant. Benes won 16 games for Atlanta last season.
  • Signed RP-Dennis Cook to a 2-year deal worth $3.19 million.
  • Signed backup 3B-Charlie Hayes for $700,000.
  • Extended SP-Tom Glavine's contract for 7 more years, $42 million. This will keep the trio of Maddux, Glavine & Smoltz together, through at least 2002. 
  • Traded 2B-Joey Cora to the Houston Astros in exchange for SP-Darryl Kile.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Braves' Encore (1997 MLB Season / OOTP 20)

Where we last left off the Atlanta Braves finally won the World Series by defeating the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1996 World Series, becoming the first franchise to win a world title in three different cities (Boston, Milwaukee & Atlanta).

The Braves will have a hard time trying to repeat with the Los Angeles Dodgers looking really good. The rotation is anchored by Pedro Martinez, followed by 1996 N.L. Cy Young Winner Jeff Fassero, Pedro Astacio, Bret Saberhagen and a young Chris Carpenter. The Dodgers' lineup is just as scary, led by Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio, Raul Mondesi & John Olerud.

Mid-Season Blues

The Braves were playing pretty solid ball in the first two months, but the team hit a snag in June, while the Dodgers blazed past them at a .726 clip. The Dodgers a few times throughout the season would put a 10-game lead on Atlanta.

The Braves tried to build their team better in July, first by acquiring Andy Benes from the San Diego Padres. Andy now joins his brother, Alan in the Braves rotation. The Braves sent SP-Scott Elarton, RP-Rudy Hernandez, P-Matt Kinney, 2B-Marlon Anderson & C-Ben Davis in the deal.

The Braves traded struggling starting pitcher Doug Drabek to the Kansas City Royals, who at the time were challenging for the A.L. West. The deal didn't cost K.C. much, with Atlanta eating the entire $4.0 million in Drabek's contract, while acquiring minor prospects in OF-Rod Bair & 1B-Danny Buxbaum.

The Braves needed to add another bullpen arm after the injury to Dan Plesac, so they traded top team prospect C/1B-Craig A. Wilson to the Philadelphia Phillies for RP-Jay Powell.

Of course, a day after the last deal (July 30th), the Braves lost their ace Greg Maddux, who was 12-2 with a 1.75 ERA, for 5 weeks due to bone spurs. A week after that, the Braves lost their center fielder Steve Finley for 3 weeks, due to hamstring issues.

Key Game at Dodger Stadium

On September 10th, the Braves got within 6 games, and were playing the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. The game was Pedro Martinez vs. Tom Glavine, and both pitched extremely well, but the game would go to extras. The Braves' Marty Malloy, in his first at-bat of the season, tied the game in the 8th inning, with a RBI single to right off of reliever Mark Guthrie. The Braves would eventually take a 4-2 lead, with back-to-back RBI singles by Jason Giambi and Ryan Klesko.

The Braves held onto their closer, Mark Wohlers, for the Top of the 11th, hoping to close the door on the Dodgers during this extra-inning thriller, and dwindle the division lead down to 4 games.

The only problem is that Wohlers has been anything but automatic during his 1997 season. During the Braves' 1996 World Championship season, Wohlers was lights out, sporting a 2.00 ERA, 33 Saves with a 1.00 WHIP in the process... This Season? Wohlers' ERA ballooned to 4.22, while his WHIP went up to ugly 1.63. The problem was his control, walking 6.2 batters per 9 innings (nearly three times higher than his 2.1 average a season before).

Wohlers was up against the Dodgers' heart of the lineup in Piazza, Mondesi & Olerud. Wohlers managed to strike out Piazza & get Mondesi to fly to center... but then came the Valverde-esque control issues, walking both Olerud & Kevin Orie (of all people). Bobby Cox visited the mound, in which Wohlers said he had no more in the tank.

The Braves called on starting pitcher Alan Benes to come out to the mound. Alan, was used much in the same way as the 2017 Houston Astros used Lance McCullers Jr during the final World Series game -- coming in for a rare save in the clutch. This time it didn't work, as Benes would allow a RBI single & then walk in the tying-run. He would lose the game, with a walk-off RBI single by pinch-hitter Dan Rohrmeier, as his Cinderella story continues.

Rohrmeier won the Dodgers' third base job at the beginning of the season, while going on to bat .282 with 19 HR & 76 RBI (.911 OPS & 2.6 WAR) for the Dodgers. Pretty damn good for someone who barely got a taste of the real thing for the Seattle Mariners in 1997, batting 3-for-9, with 2 RBI & 2 BB during 7 games (1 start).

Braves Eliminated

The Braves finished with 102 wins, but failed to win the division, finishing 8 games behind the Dodgers, who finished a stellar 110-52.

The Dodgers made quick work of Ken Griffey Jr & the 89-win Pittsburgh Pirates, by winning a lopsided 4-1 National League Championship Series. Meanwhile in the American League, the New York Yankees edged the Texas Rangers, 4-3.

After a 2-0 Dodgers series lead to the World Series, the Yankees would fight back to tie the series, 3-3, but the Dodgers, fittingly, prevail, thanks to World Series MVP Roberto Kelly, who hit 3 HR & 10 RBI.

Salary Arbitration

The Braves' Mark Wohlers was up for salary arbitration, and according to club officials, they felt he was due for a $460,000 raise. I felt otherwise, and withdrew his offer altogether, which would save about $2.2 million in annual salary. I feel the bullpen arms in Roberto Hernandez, Mike Timlin, Dan Plesac, Paul Qunatrill & Jay Powell are more than enough to power us through, while we should continue to be one of the best bullpens in all of baseball.

Johnny Damon will get a well-deserved raise as he should see his annual contract of $273,000 go up from anywhere from $3 million to $4 million per year.

I'm on the fence with outfielder Ruben Rivera, who appears to be in the neighborhood of getting close to $0.5 million from his current $1.76 million contract. I feel at the moment he's overpaid as it is, especially since he will be nothing more than a 4th outfielder for me. Sure Ryan Klesko's defense in left kills me, and I have no room for Klesko at first base with Jason Giambi there... but I am not ready to get rid of that powerful bat that sits nicely with Chipper Jones, Giambi & Javy Lopez.

This upcoming off-season will be interesting, one part of me is wanting to cut some salary, while I don't want to be in a situation where I cut a player, but end up with nothing to fill in that player's place.

Decisions, decisions...

Friday, July 19, 2019

Early Breakdown of Each Franchise in 1978 A.L. Replay

Here is a early report on each franchise's early 1978 storylines through April 21st / 22nd of the season.

Baltimore Orioles (6-7 / A.L. East)

The Orioles have yet to string together two consecutive victories at any point in the season, while their biggest losing streak has only been two straight losses. The O's are only batting .212 as a collective. Their pitching strength is their starting pitching, while their bullpen has been horrendous.

  • Eddie Murray had a good start to the season, but cooled off for a good stretch, but recently has gone 3-for-9 to lift his average up to .269 with 2 HR & 9 RBI (.771 OPS). 
  • Lee May has been the O's better hitter of late, after a sluggish start (6-for-29 with no HR), in which a double header got May jump-started. May hit a walk-off homer in Game 1 of the double-header, while hitting another home run in the 2nd game; May has batted 6-for-18 (.333 with 2 HR) since sluggish start, lifting his batting average (to .255) & his OPS (to .753).
  • Mike Flanagan, coming off a shutout, leads the Orioles with a 2.05 ERA, sporting a 2-0 record, while not allowing a home run through 26.1 innings. Flanagan has allowed 14 walks though.
  • Other starting pitchers over 16 IP: Jim Palmer (2.16 ERA), Scott McGregor (3.18 ERA, plus 2 saves) & Dennis Martinez (2-1, 3.47 ERA & 19 K).
  • Bullpen trio of Don Stanhouse, Tippy Martinez & Joe Kerrigan: Combined for 2-3 record, 2 blown saves & 1 SV through 16 ER (8.31 ERA) allowed through 17.1 innings.

Boston Red Sox (8-5 / A.L. East)

For all the offense loaded into Boston's lineup, the team has under-performed for the majority of the month, but has been starting to wake up. The Red Sox' good timely pitching has been the major reason for the team's success so far (2.59 Team ERA), with 3 complete games & 2 shutouts.
  • Mike Torrez (Grade C-Y) has been pitching like a solid Grade A&C, with a 3-0 record, microscopic 0.88 ERA, 2 shutouts & 12 K through 30.2 innings.
  • Jim Rice was quiet through Boston's first 10 games, with no home runs. Rice woke up with a 3 home runs, 6 hits & 8 RBI during a two-game period (Apr 20th-21st) -- Now sporting .289, 3 HR & 13 RBI (.780 OPS) numbers for the season.
  • Jerry Remy was Boston's top hitter, leading the league in hitting (.448) through April 15th, while still leading the team with a .333 batting average, while getting on base at a .407 clip.
  • Dennis Eckersley (Grade A-YZ) has been victim of the bad luck bug, with a 0-3 record & 4.91 ERA through 22 innings of work.

California Angels (9-4 / A.L. West)

The Halos were the talk of all of baseball during the first week of the season, jumping off to a 7-0 record, but has cooled off since, losing 4 of 6 games, which included a 2-1 series loss to the 2nd year Mariners. The batters have cooled off of late, while the pitchers have been dinged up of late, but their overall numbers (.262 batting average & 2.84 team ERA) have been overall good.
  • Don Baylor (1.121 OPS) has been solid, hitting .404, 3 HR & 14 RBI with 21 hits & 6 BB, which have contributed to his exceptional .467 on-base percentage.
  • Bobby Grich, another Angel with an 1.000 OPS, has been quiet of late, but still is batting .360 with 1 HR & 9 RBI, with 13 bases on balls.
  • Nolan Ryan (2-0) is everything you expect from Nolan -- Leading the team with 30 strikeouts, while sporting a 2.31 ERA and not allowing a HR as of yet through 23.1 innings.
  • Frank Tanana (2-1) is 2nd on the team in ERA (2.38), and is one of three starters who each have a shutout (Ryan & Knapp are the other two).
  • Chris Knapp (1-1) has 21 strikeouts, while only allowing 1 walk through 21.1 innings, while leading Angels starting pitchers with a .891 WHIP. 

Cleveland Indians (1-9 / A.L. East)

The Tribe's hitters (.188 AVG) have not showed up at any point during the first three weeks of this season, while the pitching showed up early in the season has faltered since -- faltering to a 5.12 ERA. 
  • Don Hood has a 2.40 ERA through 3 games, 2 GS & 15 innings, with 9 strikeouts and a 1.000 WHIP for the season. Hood had a no-hitter broken up by Jim Rice on his April 10th outing, in which he allowed 1 hit in 9 innings of work, while striking out 7 Red Sox & walking 1 -- while the Indians' bullpen couldn't prevent Boston from winning in extras, 2-1.
  • Mike Paxton has pitched 2 games of long relief, posting a 1.13 ERA with 5 K through 8 IP.

Chicago White Sox (3-7 / A.L. West)

The White Sox are currently in the midst of a 5-game losing streak, and have had very little to cheer about. Their highlight of the young season would be the team rallying from a 5-1, 7th inning deficit, in which the team scored 5 runs during the last three innings, as Bobby Bonds delivered a walk-off 9th inning home run to defeat the Blue Jays. 

The White Sox, three days later, showed what their offense is capable of again, with a 4-run 9th inning late rally in a game that the Yankees' Ron Guidry dominated in (the previous 8 innings), only to fall short in a 6-5 loss. 

The White Sox are only batting .198 for the season.
  • Lamar Johnson leads the Chisox in hits (11) & batting average (.297). The team's next best hitters are Soderholm (.250) and Chet Lemon (.231).
  • Bobby Bonds and Eric Soderholm each lead the team with 3 HR, while Lemon has the team's other 2 HR. The rest of the team has yet to hit a long ball.

Detroit Tigers (7-3 / A.L. East)

The Tigers sit tied in first with the Milwaukee Brewers (9-5), in which the real-life 1978 Tigers were in first place the majority of the time in the A.L. East from the beginning of the season through May 21st. Many people probably don't remember that, while they would go on to finish in 5th place, but with a 86-76 record.

Their APBA counterparts are doing it at both ends of the baseball spectrum in batting and pitching. They are currently leading the league, batting .294 with a .762 OPS, while also leading the league in ERA (2.30), although they are not whiffing many opponents with their arms (22 K in 10 games, with more walks allowed at 29).

  • Ron LeFlore leads the team in hits (19), batting average (.422) & stolen bases (7), while ranking 3rd in RBI (7).
  • Rusty Staub "Le Grand Orange" had 4 consecutive games with a home run, between April 11th-15th. 
  • Mark "The Bird" Fidrych, done for the season, pitched incredibly during his three 1978 Replay starts: 3-0, 1.64 ERA, 22 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 2 HR, 6 BB, 8 K & 0.682 WHIP.
  • John Hiller has been a perfect 4-for-4 in Save opportunities, allowing only 1 hit & no runs through 5 innings.
  • Rookies Alan Trammell (.455) and Lou Whitaker (.375) are batting a combined .407 this season (22-for-54), with 15 RBI & 15 runs scored.

Kansas City Royals (9-2 / A.L. West) 

The Royals just had their 7-game winning streak snapped, while they are doing it on both sides of the ball. A well-rounded team that is so good, that you can see exactly why they went to a third straight American League Championship Series during 1978.

The team is currently batting .261, while their pitching has a 2.51 team ERA.
  • George Brett is batting .360 with 8 RBI, 18 hits, 10 runs, 3 SB & .867 OPS -- Doing really great for what was a bit of a down-year for Brett in 78' (.294 AVG, 9 HR & .806 OPS).
  • Amos Otis was the team's offensive MVP in 78', and his APBA card is definitely illustrating that success, with a hot start: .412 AVG, 2 HR, 14 RBI & 11 BB (1.212 OPS & .565 OBP). 
  • The workhorse Dennis Leonard is 2-0 with a 1.06 ERA & 27 strikeouts through 34 innings & 4 starts this season.

Milwaukee Brewers (9-5 / A.L. East)

1978 was the season that the Milwaukee Brewers finally broke through to the winning side, with their franchise's 1st winning season at 93-69. The Brewers finished 3rd, but their Pythagorean Record has them as a 97-win team. I expect Brewers to definitely be in the mix for the division title by the end of the season, if not, it would be a huge disappointment to their fans.

The Brewers' lineup is strong from top to bottom, although they may be underachieving at the moment (their .721 OPS definitely could be higher). Milwaukee also has a strong bench. Their pitching (2.62 ERA) has allowed the 5th fewest runs (39) in the American League, at 2.8 runs per game.
  • Mike Caldwell pitched a no-hitter against the New York Yankees (Game #88 / April 22nd), which followed a three-inning relief win against New York about 10 days before that. Caldwell, in real-life was a bit of a Yankees killer, with a 3.05 career ERA against Yankees (3.81 Career ERA) & 2.54 ERA at Yankee Stadium.
  • Larry Hisle is batting .327 with 5 HR & 12 RBI, while drawing 7 walks & scoring 11 times; Season's OPS sits at 1.021, while he has a .403 On-Base Percentage.
  • Moose Haas has been outstanding considering his Grade D-KZ card. Haas has a 3.24 ERA & 1.160 WHIP with 29 strikeouts through 25 innings & 4 starts. Haas has been unlikely though when it comes down to his win-loss record, which sits at 1-3.
  • Paul Molitor has struggled big time early on, batting only .152 (7-for-46) with only 2 RBI -- while he sports a lousy .496 OPS.

Minnesota Twins (8-9 / A.L. West)

The Twins were nothing special in 1978. Their pitching ranked 10th in the A.L., while they had a few brights spots such as Dave Goltz, Geoff Zahn & Mike Marshall. The team's batting was 4th that season, although I would never consider their lineup anywhere near the top four.

The team only won 73 games in 1978, but their Pythagorean says they dropped the ball, and should have been more of a 80-82 team. I have the Twins playing better at this part of the schedule at 8-9, when they were 6-11 at this point.

  • Dan Ford has been playing really well (then again this also involves 9 games against the Mariners) . Ford is batting .352 with 16 RBI, and leads the team in hits (25), which is even more than Carew's 23. 
  • Although Rod Carew is batting .315, it has been a quiet .315, with an underachieving .729 OPS (compared to his real-life .853 OPS)... so it's good to know that he can only improve from here on out.
  • Dave Goltz has been excellent, showing off a 3-0 record and 1.39 ERA to boot. Goltz also has a outstanding 0.742 WHIP, despite 10 walks. Goltz' ERA has not been effected too much by the 4 long balls he has allowed in 4 starts. Goltz has 2 complete games & a shutout, while logging 32.1 innings.

New York Yankees (7-6 / A.L. East)

During 1978, the Yankees won their first back-to-back World Series in 16 years (their last being 1961-1962). The Yankees would go on to win 100 games, catching the Boston Red Sox for the A.L. East Division Title (thanks to Bucky Dent). 

The Yankees may only be 7-6 at the moment, while just coming off a performance where they were no-hit by Milwaukee's Caldwell... but they are at least 1 game better than where their MLB counterparts sat at this point. 

Although the team has lost 3 of their last 5 games, the Yankees should be a championship contending team all year around, even without Billy [Martin], who will be fired by the end of July 27th.

The team's offense (.247 BA & .647 OPS) has been subdued, and will likely break out of its shell soon, while the team's ERA (3.18) is equaled to it's real-life season total. 
  • Graig Nettles is the only offensive star even worth reporting at this moment -- batting .325 (which leads the team), with 13 hits, 4 RBI & a team-best .828 OPS.
  • Ron Guidry (Grade A&C-KZ) was amazing in 1978, and his APBA card has been showing that as well. Guidry is currently 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA, 30 K, 13 BB & 0.825 WHIP through 26.2 innings.
  • Not to be outdone by Guidry is Ed Figueroa (Grade A-Z), who is 2-0 with a 1.96 ERA & a 0.826 WHIP through 23 innings.
  • The Yankees bullpen (1.95 ERA) has allowed only 6 earned runs through 27.2 innings. Rich Gossage is 0-1, 1.13 ERA, with 7 K, 7 BB & a Save through 8 innings.

Oakland Athletics (6-7 / A.L. West)

The Athletics jumped out to a surprise 14-3 start in the real deal 1978 season. I have the team with 4 more losses through 13 games, which is more accurate in repeating the team's season fate.

The A's have been hitting really well (.289 AVG, 2nd only to Detroit), but will likely fall back to earth, since their .245 batting average in 1978 was an American League worst.

  • Gary Alexander has 8 HR already this season through 13 games. He only hit 10 for the Athletics, until being traded to the Cleveland Indians, in which he would end the season with 27 home runs. Alexander also happens to be hitting .372 with 16 RBI & 1.438 OPS for the 78' A.L. Replay.
  • Gary Thomasson's card is also outplaying his MLB counterpart -- batting .373 with 2 HR & 7 ribbies.
  • The theme of overachieving continues... Miguel Dilone leads the team in hitting (.417), hits (20) and stolen bases (10).
  • The Athletics' rotation combination of Rick Langford, Matt Keough, John Henry Johnson & Alan Wirth, are 6-3 with a 3.13 ERA & 42 strikeouts through 72 innings.

Seattle Mariners (7-11 / A.L. West)

The Mariners entered their 2nd season of existence during the 78' season, while they will go on to only two winning seasons (1991 & 1993) prior to 1995. The 1995 MLB Season would prove to be pivotal in the fate of the Mariners franchise in Seattle, as they won the A.L. West in a one-game playoff vs. California, then went on to win the ALDS against the Yankees -- which would save baseball in Seattle.

The Mariners have won 4 of their last 6 games during the replay.
  • Bruce Bochte has been the M's offensive MVP, batting .366 with 3 HR, 18 RBI, 26 hits, 10 runs & 9 doubles to go along with a 1.038 OPS (.418 OBP).
  • Rupert Jones is batting .324 (22 hits) with 1 HR, 10 RBI & 10 BB (.410 OBP).
  • Dick Pole (Grade D) has been a surprise so far -- 2-1, 2.38 ERA, 14 K / 6 BB & 1.235 WHIP through 22.2 innings & 4 starts.

Texas Rangers (4-6 / A.L. West)

The Rangers are not currently playing like a Rangers team that is coming off a 94-win season in 1977 or the 1978 season, in which they would go on to finish in 2nd place (tied with California, 5 games back) at 87-75. 

The Rangers' bats have struggled so far, as the team's .185 batting average hangs below the Mendoza Line. Things may get better, once they start playing weaker competition, they have had challenging opponents so far in the Yankees, Red Sox & Tigers.
  • Richie Zisk has overall been their lone star, leading the team in hitting (.314), hits (11), home runs (4), while tied with Al Oliver for team lead in RBI with 7.
  • Bert Campaneris has been playing above par, batting .276 with a HR, 6 steals, while tied for 2nd in hits (8).
  • Jon Matlack (Grade A-YZ) has been solid as expected: 1-2, 2.03 ERA, 20 K / 7 BB, 0.713 WHIP & complete game in 3 starts / 26.2 innings.

Toronto Blue Jays (5-8 / A.L. East)

The 2nd year Blue Jays would finish 7th in 1978, 10 games behind Cleveland, and would not experience a postseason berth until 1985 -- although 10 years ahead of Seattle, their 1977 expansion brother.

The Jays are not doing much on either side of the ball, batting only .218, while posting an American League worst 4.71.
  • Roy Howell currently leads the Jays in hitting (.320), hits (16), while tied with 3 other teammates in home runs (2). Howell also has a team-leading .882 OPS & .382 OBP.
  • John Mayberry trails just behind Howell in overall production -- batting .273 with 2 HR & 6 RBI, which includes a .873 OPS & .373 OBP.
  • Reliever Tom Murphy (Grade C*-Z) has been a tough match-up for opposing batters so far. Murphy is 2-0 with a 0.77 ERA & 0.943 WHIP through 11.2 innings / 8 game appearances.

Monday, July 15, 2019

A Fighting Chance for the Future (Latest on T.C. Fighting Tigers / UAL)

It's the UAL Offseason, and we are in the middle of the 2019 UAL Draft, which involves 2018 MLB Season APBA cards.

There is plenty of changes coming my way for the Traverse City Fighting Tigers. We entered the off-season knowing we had to shred about $40 million off our payroll.

This draft started off really well for me, I drafted Cardinals' starting pitcher Jack Flaherty 16th overall, I was hoping for either him or Shane Bieber, but was nervous that I would not get a chance at either, but it all worked out. Flaherty at 16th overall was a steal.

I love my APBA bud, Ken Schulz (who I happened to acquire this team from), he made the deals possible that would result in my playoff berth and 102 win season, but the deals meant a lot of draft picks from the 2018 UAL Draft (I didn't pick until 8th Rd in that draft), while lacking a 2nd Rd & 4th Rd pick in this draft.

So after Flaherty, came my 3rd Rd pick, I was on the fence in picking between a few players ranging from 1B-Rowdy Tellez to some high end relievers, but wasn't comfortable with any of my choices. The Ohio Cougars came a calling for the pick, and in return I got a 2020 2nd Rd pick, a 5th Rd 2019 pick (#99 overall) and scrap-heap utility player Kelby Tomlinson (for position coverage). He got his reliever in the Angels' Felix Pena, who by the way, was just recently was part of that emotional combined no-hitter for the Angels, on the day they happened to be honoring the late Tyler Skaggs.

I put shortstop Freddy Galvis and reliever Bud Norris up on the trade block, and started getting hit with offers for each or them, and for both of them together. I got two good offers, and was worried for a little bit that I would lose out on both. I made an offer to the Sumner County Sounds for IF-Yairo Munoz, offering both Galvis and Norris. I missed out on drafting Munoz, hoping that he would to fall to the late 3rd Rd for me, but he was taken in the late 2nd round instead -- So I thought maybe, I could acquire him still.

Meanwhile, another team the Seven Cities Yard Goats, made an offer for Freddy Galvis, a 2nd Rd 2020 pick. The league has 24 teams, and we don't cut players prior to the draft, so a 2nd round in normal drafts may seem to be a lot for Galvis... but not in the UAL Draft. I have found that after two UAL Drafts, that the talent drops off significantly after the 2nd Round. So the chance of getting a 2nd Rd for Galvis would be a great chance towards improving the future. Galvis is currently having a career year in the Majors, but has no place at shortstop with Jean Segura owning the starting job.

It should be noted that my offer for Munoz was actually a counter-offer on my part, his offer was a good one which involved a 2020 3rd Rd & 6th Rd picks with either Chris Owings or Lucas Duda -- Owings and Duda, obviously throw-ins. Owings would have definitely helped in position coverage, but definitely not in the production area. Munoz didn't fall through though, and I don't blame him, especially since the Sumner County owner also happens to be a Cardinals fan.

The next morning, I acquired the 2nd Rd 2020 pick from Seven Cities, not wanting to hesitate another moment and lose the possibility of owning three 2nd Rd 2020 picks.

This still left Norris seeking a team. Once again, Sumner County offered a 2020 5th Rd pick for Norris, but I already had two previous 5th Rd offers by two other teams in acquiring him as well, and both teams would likely do worse than his team, so they had the advantage there.

I eventually traded Norris (Grade B*-X) to the Ephrata Diamond Dogs, my division rival, who is likely to compete for the postseason again. Norris would serve good for a contending now team, because Norris has yet to appear during the 2019 MLB Season. Along with the acquired 2020 5th Rd pick, I acquired NC' [No-Card 2018] starting pitcher Aaron Brooks.

I now own three 2020 2nd Rd picks, along with my 1st Rd 2020 pick, which will likely fall in place of being a top 5 pick, since my team should be among the worse. The team could see a 50-win decrease, with most of my 2018 roster having down years.

Two of my starting pitchers, Jimmy Nelson and Taijuan Walker were lost for the season, due to arm injuries, while Jeff Samardzija and Josh Tomlin fall to Grade D status. Rich Hill decreases from a Grade B-XY to a C-XZ.

The pitching is not the only area that got hit...

Marwin Gonzalez falls back down to earth from his outlier 2017 season to his career on-par 2018 -- Although I never benefited from his 2017 MLB Season, with Marwin batting around his career averages in most categories for me.

Domingo Santana will suffer a power outage as well, with a down year in 2018, to go along with reduced playing time. Santana was clutch for me last season, plus he out-homered his card with 35 home runs (leading the team) last season. Domingo is having a solid bounce-back in 2019, but I could do without his league-leading 121 strikeouts.

I was never a huge fan of Justin Bour, but he happened to have a good card for my UAL team last season, after hitting .289 with 25 HR for the Marlins in 2017. Then came a dramatic drop off in 2018, with a career-low .227 batting average, while playing for both Miami and the Phillies. I questioned Bour signing with the Angels, despite the fact that they had Albert Pujols and Kendrys Morales already taking up the DH and 1B slots along with another teammate -- crowded players at positions, which of course resulted in limited & unsuccessful playing time (currently hitting .183 over 45 games). So first base is quickly becoming a team need, I thankfully can plug Buster Posey and Marwin for now, but that need will have to be addressed. I will likely be in the Pete Alonso sweepstakes... just saying.

Third Base is also a place of concern, considering the future.

Next year's draft will be the telling point, and I feel I am in control of my team's destiny more by that team. Having 4 draft picks inside the top 48 picks, gives the team much flexibility. I can have the option of trading 2 of those 3 2nd Round picks up for another 1st round pick, I can use all three picks on players, or be able to package those picks in a trade or two as well.

Only time will tell how it all plays out.

Friday, July 12, 2019

2018-19 UAL Fighting Tigers Stats Breakdown

My Traverse City Fighting Tigers finished 101-59. The Fighting Tigers lost their 1st Round UAL Playoff Series to the Crooked River Carp. We were playing the 2017 MLB Season cards via APBA for the Ultimate APBA League (UAL), as the season goes from October to March, playoffs in April.
We are currently drafting for the 2018 MLB Season APBA cards in the 2019 UAL Draft.

My team will definitely be much different in performance this upcoming next season, since many of my up-players from 2017, will take a downward turn in 2018 (2019-2020 UAL Season). We use a salary system with the real players' salaries, and I will also need to cut an additional $30 million of its payroll from my calculations.

Here is the player by player comparison of their UAL stats compared to their real-life MLB stats.

Position Players


More to come, on player moves, with the UAL Draft currently taking place.

Friday, July 5, 2019

3 Weeks Later

I have been very busy of late, but things are finally starting to slow down. It was probably the first time in a long time (or first time ever), that I only put out two posts for a single month. I still have many of the posts that I plan to do, as mentioned in my June 7th post.

I have not rolled any games via APBA in some time, I actually had a great jump start on the 1978 A.L. Replay, in which I got so far ahead that I was using a Microsoft Word file as a write-up queue. I was trying not to get ahead of my brother Chris on the National League side of the 78' MLB Replay. Now I only have a few write-ups in the queue, while he has passed me on games played, while he is almost two days ahead of me. It should be noted that the National League have two fewer teams, and that will mean less games overall for him to play.

My pace has slowed down incredibly from the rate I was playing at. As noted in my May 9th post (1978 Brothers In Dice: Out of the Gate), I rolled 47 games, including write-ups and stat-keeping between Easter (4/20) and May 9th. I have since rolled 41 games, have all the stats caught up, while needing to write about 5 write-ups. I have probably not rolled any games in almost three weeks, as well as not writing any blog pieces in that time as well.

The reason was the wear-and-tear of regular life, working 6 day weeks (which just got cut back down to 5 day weeks).

Also the fact that summer is starting to feel like summer, which means going out with the wife a little more to take advantage of the weather.

I have not been able to do anything with my Boys of Summer APBA Baseball League site (Wix site) since the season basically started, while just going through the motions by sending out C-Files and receiving F-Files -- without any special write-ups or sprucing up the league. I really hit the wall with that league, and had the commissioner keys dropped back into my lap, with no time on my hands.

Plenty to come, but it definitely should not be another three weeks until you hear from me again.

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