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Old 03-23-2019, 08:30 AM   #1
so49as
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Webrian's Dick Howser Challenge

http://www.ootpdevelopments.com/boar...d.php?t=297780

Run the 1985 Kansas City Royals to the World Series. Sounded like a fun challenge.

I'm running in Challenge Mode and am using as close to the opening day roster as I could (Lynn Jones was injured in Spring Training - back around the end of April). I forced Dennis Leonard down to AAA since he was injured most of the year.

Rotation:
1. Buddy Black
2. Bret Saberhagen
3. Charlie Leibrandt
4. Mark Gubicza
5. Danny Jackson (Not using a strict rotation,so Jackson will be in the bullpen when available)

Stopper
Dan Quisenberry

Middle Relievers
L - Larry Gura; Mike Jones
R - Joe Beckwith; Mike LaCoss

They had a combined Spring Training ERA of 7.01 so I'll just avoid them when possible.

Lineup:
1. Willie Wilson - CF
2. Frank White - 2B
3. George Brett - 3B
4. Steve Balboni - 1B
5. Darryl Motley - LF
6. Jim Sundberg - C
7. Jorge Orta/Hal McRae - DH
8. Pat Sheridan - RF
9. Onix Concepcion - SS

Bench:
C - John Wathan
IF - Buddy Biancalana; Greg Pryor
OF - Dane Irog; Butch Davis


I'm looking at this as not as a one year challenge, but as an ongoing league. I'm not going to sacrifice the farm to win the challenge.

Owners Goals:
Upgrade at SS
Extend George Brett
Acquire a Nationally Popular player
Make the playoffs, and win the WS by 1987

I also play out every game, so this might take a couple months...
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Old 03-23-2019, 09:03 AM   #2
so49as
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Game 1
5 - Blue Jays
4 - Royals
WP – Dennis Lamp (1-0)
LP – Mike Jones (0-1)

Back to back home runs by White and Brett, Black struck out 9, but Quisenberry 2 runs score in the 9th. Mike Jones picked up the loss in the 11th.

Game 2
7 - Blue Jays
6 - Royals
WP – Dave Stieb (1-0)
LP – Bret Saberhagen (0-1)
SV – Dennis Lamp (1)

Wasted 2 home runs by Sundberg and another by Brett. Danny Jackson gave up 2 walks and a run in the ninth in 2 innings of relief. Saberhagen 6 runs in 7 innings.

Game 3
1 – Blue Jays
0 – Royals
WP – Jimmy Key (1-0)
LP – Charlie Leibrandt (0-1)
SV – Dennis Lamp (2)

Key outduelled Leibrandt and Frank White popped out with the bases loaded in the ninth.

-
I extended Brett through 1993 at $1.4m a year. Face of the franchise who won't play for another team. Over $11m for 8 seasons.

Larry Gura announced his retirement at the end of the season.
-
My record: 0-3
Real Life: 1-2
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Old 03-23-2019, 12:26 PM   #3
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Game 4
2 - Detroit
5 – Royals

WP – Mark Gubicza (1-0)
LP – Walt Terrell (1-1)
SV – Quisenberry (1)

Finally got the first win. Jorge Orta went 3-4 with 2 doubles and 2 RBIs. Gubicza struck out 6.



Game 5
2 – Detroit
13 – Royals

WP – Buddy Black (1-0)
LP – Juan Berenguer (0-1)

Darrell Evans hit a first inning home run, but we knocked Berenguer out in the 2nd inning. 5 home runs. 8 starters got a hit, 7 had an RBI, 7 scored a run. Black struck out 6 in 8 innings.



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Brett finishes the first week hitting .471 with 3 home runs and 5 RBIs, and an OPS of 1.709


-
My record 2-3; 5th; 1.5 games behind California
Real Life: 1-4; 6th; 4.5 games behind Seattle
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Old 03-23-2019, 01:14 PM   #4
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Game 6
2 - Boston
6 – Royals

WP – Bret Saberhagen (1-1)
LP – Roger Clemens (0-2)
SV – Gura (1)

Scattered 10 hits and scored 6 runs. 7 starters got a hit and 7 got an RBI. Gura entered in the 8th to face Boggs with a 3-run lead and men on. We added an insurance run in the bottom of the 8th, so I left Gura in and he collects his first save since 1977.



Game 7
4 – Boston
7 – Royals

WP – Charlie Leibrandt (1-1)
LP – Bruce Kison (0-1)

Sundberg went 3-4 with a HR. Leibrandt tossed 8 shutout innings, but gave up 4 in the ninth. Quisenberry finished off the game in a non-save situation. Willie Wilson went 2-4 with 3 RBIs. He has 8 on the season from the leadoff spot.



Game 8
4 – Boston
2 – Royals

WP – Mark Clear (1-0)
LP – Mike Jones (0-2)

Goose-eggs through 9. Hitting went cold with only 2 hits through those 9. Sundberg went 0-6 with 2 K's. Gubicza struck out 6 through his scoreless 9 innings. Quisenberry gave up 2 in the 10th but we tied. Boggs plated 2 on a bases loaded single in the 14th against Jones.



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First home stand finished at .500. Concepcion and Motley finish beneath the Mendoza line. Brett and Orta are over .300. Wilson leadswith 8 RBI's. Sunberg and Brett have 3 home runs.

Gubicza and Black both have ERAs under 2 in 2 starts. Black is second in the AL with 15 strikeouts.

The Blue Jays are 9-0. Dennis Lamp has 5 saves.


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My record 4-4; 3rd; .5 game behind Minnesota and Oakland
Real Life: 3-5; 5th; 2.5 games behind Seattle
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Old 03-23-2019, 02:06 PM   #5
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Game 9
2 - Royals
6 – Detroit

WP – Walt Terrell (2-1)
LP – Buddy Black (1-1)
SV – Willie Hernandez (3)

Black was shelled for 11 hits, including a 2-run home run by Chet Lemon. Terrell and Hernandez scattered 8 Royal hits.



Game 10
4 – Royals
9 – Detroit

WP – Juan Berenguer (1-1)
LP – Danny Jackson (0-1)

Jackson was tagged for 6 runs in 6 innings, and walked 6. Motley went 3-4 with 2 RBIs and a solo HR for his best game of the season. The first 5 in the Tigers lineup went 12-20 with 9 RBI.



Game 11
8 – Royals
2 – Detroit

WP – Bret Saberhagen (2-1)
LP – Jack Morris (1-1)

Most everyone hit again with 8 starters collecting a hit. Frank White hit a solo shot in the 8th. Wilson knocked in 2 for his 10th and 11th RBIs. He's also hit safely in all 11 games. Saberhagen cruised through 7 before giving up 2 in the 8th. LaCoss pitched the 9th.



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Two weeks completed. Brett has cooled down to .310. Orta still at .349. He's essentially in a L/R platoon with McRae at DH, but we've only faced 1 lefty starter so far.

Lynn Jones should be back before the end of April.

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My record 5-6; 5th; 1.5 game behind Oakland
Real Life: 5-6; 5th; 1.5 games behind California, Oakland, and Seattle
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Old 03-23-2019, 05:05 PM   #6
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I am so happy to see someone taking this on.

Tthe 1985 Royals drew such a tough early schedule. Toronto was stacked. Detroit was coming off dominating the 1984 World Series. Boston was a year away from winning the pennant. The Yankees were strong, just never quite strong enough in a tough AL East. Kansas City gets a long, early-season look at all of them, making it easy to get discouraged.

I like what you did with the lineup. I hope Balboni works out at cleanup. Every time I put him there, he just struck out too much. I like Frank White in the No. 2 hole and Sheridan near the bottom of the lineup, where he actually belongs.

I'll be checking in. I'm rooting for you!
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Old 03-23-2019, 08:27 PM   #7
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I carefully considered the lineup. I really only watched the Royals for 7 games that year, and was more focused on the team about 3 hours east on I-70 (cough). So I don't have many pre-conceived notions of who should be batting where.

I play with hitting and pitching ratings off, and try and use stats as much as possible.

White was kind of a whim in the 2 hole. Balboni hit .325 with 7 home runs in Spring Training. I debated back and forth about Sheridan in the 8th or 9th spot and settled on the 8th because while Concepcion hit .300 in spring, I wasn't holding out a lot of hope he'll repeat. I'll be looking to him to sacrifice Sheridan over if he gets on.

I've only had 3 games where I scored less than 3 so it's at least working right now. Although Balboni and Concepcion have the 2 worst OPS+ on the team right now.
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Old 03-23-2019, 08:59 PM   #8
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Game 12
2 – Royals
5 – Toronto

WP – Doyle Alexander (2-0)
LP – Charlie Leibrandt (1-2)
SV – Jim Acker (1)

Toronto scored 3 in the second on a bases loaded double by Willie Upshaw. Leibrandt gave up 5 in 7 with 4 walks against 3 strikeouts.

After the game, Toronto proposed a trade, sending me a light hitting minor league short stop, Bernie Tatis, for Steve Farr. Farr wasn't signed in real life until early May, so I'm leaving him where he is for now. But, I think I could do better than Tatis for return.



Game 13
4 – Royals
5 – Toronto

WP – Dave Stieb (3-0)
LP – Joe Beckwith (0-1)

Nearly came back, Toronto was cruising 3-0 in the 7th when Darryl Motley hit a 3-run homer to tie it. But in the 8th, Beckwith allowed Bell on with a single, and then Gura, to face the lefties Mulliniks and Upshaw, gave a 2-run homer to Mulliniks. Balboni hit a solo shot in the 9th, but Iorg stranded 2 to close out the game.



Game 14
0 – Royals
5 – Toronto

WP – Tim Englund (2-0)
LP – Buddy Black (1-2)
SV – Tom Henke (2)

Bats went cold again, with only 4 hits. Balboni had 2. We struck out 11 times, with 7 going to Wilson, White and Brett. Brett has gone cold going 2 for 24 in his last 6 games with only 1 walk and 1 double. No runs or RBIs.




-
Lynn Jones will be out longer than anticipated. Not sure when he'll return.
Toronto is now 14-1. Happy to be leaving Canada.
Buddy Black is tied for the American League Strikeout lead.


-
My record 5-9; 7th; 3 games behind Minnesota
Real Life: 7-7; 5th; 1.5 games behind Oakland
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Old 03-23-2019, 09:11 PM   #9
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I didn't even know it was possible to turn ratings off.

It's an interesting approach. Maybe if I turned ratings off, I wouldn't be so scared to put Mike Jones on the mound late in a tie game with runners on base. Except now I have the memories, the awful flashbacks.

I like White in the No. 2 hole just because it eliminates the automatic out of trying to put any outfielder not named Willie Wilson there. Darryl Motley has some power, but he's not a reliable contact hitter. Heck, neither is White or anybody else not named Brett.

The RL Royals liked White in the middle of the lineup, and he was respectable there, but not exactly inspiring.

Balboni is streaky. He'll go cold for 7 to 10 games at a time, then go on a HR binge for a stretch of three or four games, then right back in the freezer again.

Just wait till those games against Cleveland, Texas, Chicago and Milwaukee come around. Any ground the Royals lose against the AL Beasts, they'll (hopefully) get back against that lot.
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Old 03-24-2019, 06:27 AM   #10
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Old 03-24-2019, 07:09 AM   #11
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Game 15
6 – Royals
9 – Boston

WP – Jeff Sellers (1-0)
LP – Bret Saberhagen (2-2)
SV – Steve Crawford (1)

6 runs on 12 hits, but Saberhagen gave up 8 in 5 innings. Brett warmed up a touch going 2-5 with a run and RBI. Orta hit his 2nd home Run of the year and his hitting .364.



Game 16
9 – Royals
2 – Boston

WP – Charlie Leibrandt (2-2)
LP – Al Nipper (0-2)

Broke a 4-game losing streak. When the offense works, it works. 8 starters collected a hit, with Frank White the only player to not to. Sundberg ended a home run short of hitting for the cycle. Balboni and Orta were both 2-5 with 2 runs and 2 RBIs. Concepcion even went 3-4 with a sacrifice. Leibrandt threw 100 pitches to pick up the complete game.



Game 17
8 – Royals
11 – Boston

WP – Oil Can Boyd (2-2)
LP – Mark Gubicza (1-1)

I sometimes leave a starting pitcher in for too long, and maybe that happened again with Gubicza giving up 9 in 3 innings. But the bullpen ERA sits at 5.29, 11th in the AL.



-
Athletic's centerfielder Dwayne Murphy is on the trade block, but I think the price is too high for him. At this point though, my OF is like this:

Darryl Motley - .303/.314/.545/.860
Willie Wilson - .263/.298/.388/.685
Pat Sheridan - .241/.371/.328/.699

Dane Iorg has been a bench disappointment, current 1-13 including 0-9 as a pinch hitter. He could be the odd man out when Jones returns from the IL.

-
My record 6-11; 7th; 4 games behind Seattle
Real Life: 9-8; 3rd; 2 games behind California
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Old 03-24-2019, 03:21 PM   #12
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Game 18
5 – Cleveland
6 - Royals

WP – Dan Quisenberry (1-0)
LP – Doug Jones (0-1)

Black was a little cold to start the game giving up 4 in the first two innings. We kept pace by bringing all 9 batters up in the first inning. Pat Sheridan had a bases loaded double to cap the inning. Cleveland pushed ahead in the 7th. I brought Quisenberry in in the 8th with the score close, and he kept them scoreless for his first win of the season. Brett and Balboni hit back to back home runs in the 8th to go ahead for good.

The downside of throwing Quisenberry for 2 innings is that he's unavailable for game 2.



Game 19
6 – Cleveland
4 – Royals


WP – Vern Ruhle (3-2)
LP – Larry Gura (0-1)
SV – Tom Waddell (3)

Top of the 10th, Gura gave up a 3-run home run to Joe Carter. Jackson pitched 8 strong innings. McRae was 3-3 in a start against Bill Krueger. Motley homered in the bottom of the 10th, but was too little.




Game 20
4 – Cleveland
3 - Royals

WP – Bert Blyleven (3-0)
LP – Bret Saberhagen (2-3)
SV – Tom Waddell (4)

Loaded the bases in the ninth, scored twice, but couldn't plate the tying run. Saberhagen gave up 4 in 8.


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Melido Perez was the April Pitcher of the Month for the Florida State League. 4-0 with a 1.77 ERA.


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My record 7-13; 7th; 4 games behind Chicago, Texas, and Seattle
Real Life: 11-9; 3rd; 2 games behind California

Real life Royals had allowed only 63 runs, best in the American League. I've given up 95.

OOTP's (random?) player morale setup has given the team, no Captain, no Leader, and no Sparkplug. Nothing in the minors to help that until September when Dennis Leonard returns. Not sure how much to expect from him either.

Balboni, White, and Motley are 'Outspoken', and Beckwith is disruptive. Iorg is Selfish, and that might seal his release when Jones returns from the IL.
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Old 03-24-2019, 04:53 PM   #13
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Game 21
4 – Royals
5 – New York

WP – Ron Guidry (5-1)
LP – Charlie Leibrandt (2-3)
SV – Dave Righetti (5)

Balboni hit a 3-run home run for his 6th of the year, and Sundberg follwed up with his 4th, but errors by Brett, Concepcion, and Motley led to 4 unearned runs.


Game 22
3 – Royals
4 – New York

WP – Dave Righetti (1-0)
LP – Dan Quisenberry (1-1)

Can't really think of another reliever in my pen I'd rather have with the game on the line. Quisenberry is it, win or lose.


Game 23
7 – Royals
3 – New York

WP – Mark Gubicza (2-1)
LP – Dennis Rasmussen (4-1)
SV – Danny Jackson (1)

Save opportunities have been few and Quiz will get them, but he was unavailable. With Griffey, Henderson and Mattingly in the Yankees lineup, Jackson pitched a 2 1/3 inning save. Gubicza gave up 3 runs in 6.2 innings. Sundberg and Balboni homered. Greg Pryor played third, with Brett DH'ing. Pryor was the only Royal to not get a hit. Biancalana was 2-4 starting at short.

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Losing each series 1-2 will not get me into the playoffs, although the real life Royals were swept by the Yankees.

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My record 8-15; 6th; 6 games behind Texas
Real Life: 11-12; 3rd; 4.5 games behind California
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Old 03-24-2019, 04:57 PM   #14
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Old 03-25-2019, 06:44 AM   #15
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Game 24
9 – Baltimore
2 – Royals

WP – Mike Boddicker (3-2)
LP – Danny Jackson (0-2)

It's a relief watching Saberhagen strike out Ripken with the bases loaded. But fielding and bullpen inconsistencies struck with 2 bad innings. With the score tied at 1, Danny Jackson pitched the 8th. He'd pitched well last time, but was tagged with doubles by Mike Young and Floyd Rayford to plate 3. I added a run in the bottom of the frame, so with the game close, 4-2, I brought Quisenberry in to keep it close. But a George Brett error led to 5 unearned runs, capped off with a 3-run homer by Fred Lynn.



Game 25
6 – Baltimore
2 – Royals

WP – Dave Righetti (1-0)
LP – Dan Quisenberry (1-1)

The only Royal highlight was a George Brett solo home run. Orta and McRae tried to bring us back in the 9th, but we couldn't muster much more than a run.




-
Made my first trade and it's a reunion of sorts. Dane Iorg was 1-15, including 0-11 as a pinch hitter. So I shipped him up to Seattle for Al Cowens, a fixture in right field for Whitey Herzog's playoff teams of the late 70s.

He'll start on the bench, getting corner outfield starts a few times a week. But he brings a leadership presence to the club that was sorely lacking.

I'll be looking to a add a bullpen piece this coming week as well.

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My record 8-17; 7th; 7 games behind Texas
Real Life: 12-13; 4th; 3.5 games behind California
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Old 03-25-2019, 06:44 AM   #16
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Lineups vsR and vs L

White is hitting .222 with 3 HRs and 10 RBIs. Even worse, he's hitting .196 against Righties.

Orta is 4th in the AL in hitting at .368
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Old 03-25-2019, 03:46 PM   #17
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This is usually the point in the season when I start to seriously wonder how in the world this team even won its division, much less the World Series.

But then I consider three truths:

1. The early schedule is pure hell. The 1985 Royals playing the AL Beasts (Toronto, New York, Detroit, Boston & even Baltimore) for most of the first 4-6 weeks is like a D-II college football team scheduling D-I teams the first 3 or 4 games to toughen up before hitting its conference schedule. The 1985 Royals had more grit than talent, and I think it came from being a veteran club that had played a tough early schedule. It's the reason the RL Royals were able to beat the Angels every time they had to during the home stretch in September, even on the road. It's also the reason they were able to rally from 3-1 deficits in the playoffs and World Series (ok, Denkinger helped a bit, but the Cardinals didn't have to implode in Game 7 ..). Problem is, I don't think the OOTP engines can account for this thing called grit.

2. The Royals of the George Brett era went as Brett went and he was famous for not "heating up" until around Memorial Day each year -- at least during his prime. In 1985 (and in my OOTP replays) that coincided perfectly with the schedule getting just a bit softer and the weather getting warmer. In one of the two sims I ran last year, my Royals finished April six games under .500 and were still two games underwater at the start of June. But then we won 12 out of 14 and were looking good -- until Challenge Mode's injury devils took Bret Saberhagen, Jim Sundberg and then George Brett all in the same week. Sundberg was lost for the season. Saberhagen and Brett each missed around two months, and we just weren't able to deal with that. Ended up at 78-84 after going into a big swoon in July and August.

3. The rest of the AL West has to deal with the AL Beasts too, and none of those teams are any better than the Royals. Some are considerably worse.

You're getting amazing production so far from Steve Balboni, Jorge Orta and Pat Sheridan. It's revealing that Sheridan currently leads your Royals in walks -- maybe that's why he often batted 2nd before they got Lonnie Smith. But you've got Orta smoking the ball from the No. 2 slot, which kinda shames me -- I always picked Hal McRae over Orta, regardless of matchups, and preferred to bring Orta in for key pinch-hitting situations. In the game, I'd get letters from Orta demanding to be traded, insisting he's an everyday player, blah blah blah. Maybe I should have listened.

Brilliant move shipping Iorg off to Seattle to get Al Cowens back. He just might be the spark the team needs, if not at the plate then in the dugout.

If you stay healthy, there's still every chance to rally back and take the division. But the injury devils are lurking. They're gonna get somebody. Just pray it's someone you can afford to lose, because the bench is thin and there's not a lot of good trade options without mortgaging the future.

Hang in there!
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Old 03-25-2019, 04:37 PM   #18
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Sheridan is benefiting from the AI wanting to pitch to Concepcion, but doing the math I see he still leads in non-intentional walks.

I just assumed Orta and McRae formed a platoon, and went with that! There haven't been too many lefty starting pitchers so McRae hasn't played much. Even one of those lefty starts, I had Brett as the DH to give him a 'rest' day.

The game is definitely enjoyable. Injuries would be a good challenge. I usually turn them up for historical. I think if I lost a starter, I'd drop to a 4-man, or see if Gura could still manage 5 innings.

Farr will be available soon (I'm keeping him in the minors until at least the day he signed in real life), and Beckwith will be shopped, probably tonight.
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Old 03-25-2019, 08:23 PM   #19
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Traded Beckwith to Philadelphia. Sent along 1B/LF Chito Martinez. The 19 year old was hitting .317 in Fort Myers, but the reality is that his poor defense makes him a better fit as a Designated Hitter.

In return, I pick up 19 y/o LHP prospect Wally Ritchie. He's pitched 7 innings in A-ball and not given up a run.

The prime return is Al Holland. 0-2 with a 3.55 ERA. He saved 54 games in 83 and 84. He wants to close, but won't supplant Quisenberry.

And the best part of the trade:
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Old 03-25-2019, 08:37 PM   #20
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Game 26
8 – New York
3 – Royals

WP – Phil Niekro (3-2)
LP – Buddy Black (1-3)

LaCoss gave up 6 after coming in for an injured Black. Pecked away in the 7th and 8th, and loaded the bases in the 9th, but came up empty.

Black tweaked his ankle and will miss a start.


Game 27
9 – New York
3 – Royals

WP – Dennis Rasmussen (5-1)
LP – Mark Gubicza (2-2)

Oof. 4 errors. Wilson, White and 2 by Balboni, although only 1 of the runs were unearned. Motley hit his 6th home run of the year.


Game 28
6 – New York
3 – Royals

3 more errors. This time by Motley and 2 by Saberhagen. 3 of the 6 runs were unearned. I looked at the top of the Yankee lineup (Meachen; Griffey; Henderson; Mattingly – 2 lefties, a righty and a switch) and considered starting Holland. Balboni (8th) and White (4th) hit homers to drive in all 3 runs.

Holland made his first Royals appearance and tossed 2 scoreless innings.


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Orta went 1-9 in the 2-hole. I'll give it a couple series to see if he takes to it.

26th in the power rankings.

-
My record 8-20; 7th; 8 games behind Texas
Real Life: 13-15; 4th; 4.5 games behind California
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