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Old 01-04-2019, 03:34 PM   #61
WeagleWeagle
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Meet the Team: Louisville Redbirds


LOUISVILLE REDBIRDS
Owner: Danny Gonzalez (1998 - present)
Overall Record: 503-610 (.452)
General Managers: Jeff Kozack (1998-2001), Justin McManus (2002), Nick De Jager (2003 - present)
Managers: Ethan Bloom (1998-2000), Casey Miranda (2001), Ramiro Gamiz (2002 - present)
Ballpark: The Nest
Playoffs: 2000 (WC)
Championships: N/A

Summary

For Louisville fans, the first three years of their franchise's existence it felt like they could be competetitve. Sure back to back 71-79 seasons aren't exactly things to get SUPER excited about but they sat in the middle of the pack and it felt like if things could just click maybe they could make it to the playoffs.

Things did click in 2000 when Louisville led the Eastern League for most of the year before having to hang onto a Wildcard spot late in August. But they did it and made it to postseason for the first time ever to challenge the Racers. They were swept thanks to Dave Cruz smashing 4 HRs for Indianapolis and have not sniffed the playoffs since.

The star of that squad was Juan Nunez who looked poised to be a superstar. But after a 6.4 WAR year in 2000, his numbers cratered and he retired last season after a bad year in Santa Fe at only the age of 35. Gerardo Patrocnio was the other major slugger on that team leading the EL in HRs in 2000 with 50. He put together a strong 2001 campaign before things began to slide in 2002 and was traded to the Racers in 2003. He's not done a ton since.

That's kinda been the story for this franchise. Lots of hard luck and the inability to keep their stars around mostly due to them peaking and never returning to top form after a single monster year. Since that 2000 playoff appearance the Redbirds have finished last place three times and 7th the one other year. It's been a rough ride in Kentucky since that glorious 2000 campaign.



Best Hitter

Gerardo Patrocnio looked like the EL's challenger to the WL's Adam Parlier in 2000. As Parlier crushed his way to a record setting campaign, the Redbird Patrocnio smashed 50 HRs himself and slashed .325/.386/.618. At age 29, it seemed his best ball was still ahead of him. But he's never broken the 50 HR barrier again in his career. Instead he's been trending down with his HR totals going down all but one year in 2004.

It was devastating still to Redbirds fans when it was announced EL rival Indianapolis had acquired their star in a deal that sent back prospects SS Rob Koop and C Mike Cook. Both are on the Louisville active roster now and Koop appears to a potential long term answer at 2B. But neither have come close to having any of the same production Patrocnio had.

The Venezuelan native is now 34 years old and riding the bench in Indy. The 4x All-Star and the EL's Best Player of the Year in 2000 appears at the tail end of his career. His star shown bright for those first few years but it burned out just as fast.



Best Pitcher

If the National Baseball League had started 10 years earlier there's a chance Aaron Fern would be one of it's greatest pitchers. At the age of 32 in the 1998 debut of the NBL, Fern announced his presence by leading the EL in BB/9 at 1.2. He would do that for the first three years of his career before injuries would eventually lead to his retirement in 2004.

Fern never won any awards or received a ton of accolades but he was a crucial piece to Louisville's early success. He led the EL in wins in their playoff year of 2000 at 17 and had an FIP under 4 all but his final year of baseball.

His WAR of 12.3 is the current leader in Louisville pitching history and considering the next closest by an active Redbirds pitcher is 32 year old Jason Merrill who is at 4.6, you can bet that stands for awhile. Which is probably not a great sign for the franchise.

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Old 01-07-2019, 12:47 AM   #62
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Series 14 - San Jose Sea Dogs

Preview

Unsurprisingly San Jose sits #7 in the rankings, our constant companions at the bottom. However, there’s a 9 game gap between us and them plus they are actually tied with Las Vegas at that spot. So it’s kinda been a step up for them this year.

Injuries have been tough. Both Chris Malloy & Brandon Bonds are out, two guys that usually are at the top of their rotation. Veteran 2B Ernesto Gallagas is on the DL as well while 39 year old 3B Carlos Aldaz is day to day with a sore elbow. He leads the Sea Dogs in HRs & RBIs so his health is a big deal.

As for who will suit up, 30 year old RF Gus Maiz is a guy to watch. Hitting .294 with 5 HRs & 18 RBIs, Maiz is turning in a solid year in 2005. He’s put up 3+ WAR in all but one season (that one coming last year) and has been one of the few steady pieces to this franchise in the past few seasons.

With us finishing up with the two other really bad teams in the WL in San Jose & Las Vegas, it would be nice to take one of these series….



Game 66



Well Harden went out with a shoulder injury in the 5th which is obviously a concern. Should hopefully know more in the next day or 2. Besides Chris Oswald’s terrible inning, everyone in the pen actually held up well. Offensively, strong day for Mendoza and Alpizar got his 15th dinger of the year.

Game 67



FUUUUUCKKKKKK…. Nothing to do with this game obviously as we won again but just found out that David Harden is out for the year with a torn rotator cuff. So no trade asset if we wanted to move him and we also now don’t have our best pitcher. He finished year with a 4-6 record but threw 73.1 innings and posted a 3.19 ERA. He was #6 in the WL in strikeouts. Just damn… We recalled Nick Treleven who I expect will continue to suck horribly

Game 68



Well what do you know! Jim Vernon spun a gem and got a much deserved W while Marco Mendoza continues to make Jody look like a savant. He now leads the team in batting average

Game 69



Not sure who this pitching staff is but I love them all of a sudden. This time it was Sam Goodwin looking like a boss on the mound. The slumping Ryan Michael even got in the action with a 3 RBI day thanks a long bomb. Lopez with 4 hits and Aaron Ash got the start to rest Mendoza and went 2-5. Not bad at all…

Game 70



LOLOLOLOL San Jose! That massive 9 game distance between us & the Sea Dogs is now a much smaller 4. Mendoza keeps raking and Chad Owens threw a marvelous 8.1innings of shutout ball. So damn happy right now folks….

Around the NBL
  • Oklahoma City won 10 straight before dropping their final game of the series with Las Vegas. That win streak did include whooping up on us and really bad Las Vegas but hey, winning is winning
  • Strong performance from New Orleans rookie Mario Burgos on Monday as he shutout the Racers in a 5-0 win. At 6'7" 240 lbs, Burgos cuts an imposing figure on the bump
  • Pretty cool story, San Antonio's Felipe Morales will be flying back to offer support for his native Dominican Republic after a nasty hurricane ripped through the area. The reliever has been decent for the Silver Stars this year but that obviously pales to his philanthropic efforts

Portland is still clinging to a lead in the WL despite going 4-6 in their last 10. Sante Fe is unsurprisingly on the move again and threatning to take the top spot. There is a gigantic gap between teams 1-5 and 6-8 in the WL. Out in the east, Charlotte still firmly in control with Indianapolis and Chattanooga chasing. It's pretty bunched up in the EL with no easy gimmes in that league.



Thoughts

Well our sweep of San Jose let us not think about Harden's injury too much but that's a HUGE blow moving forward. Was planning on keeping him but probably could have been convinced to make a deal for right price. That's ain't happening now. But more importantly he was dang fun to watch. We are supposed to be bad but he provided a little hope every five days. And even more concerning is the future. Hopefully he makes a full recovery but that's never certain

As for happier news, this offense sure was clicking this week and pitching was much stronger. Marco Mendoza continues to tear the cover off the ball and is actually in wRC+ at 137. I thought Ash was the guy of the future but now I'm not sure. Him sitting on bench probably isn't great for his development either so some decisions need to be made there.

Justin Laskwoski started the year slow but now he's gotten hot slashing .300/.351/.456 on the year with a 122 wRC+. His defense is horrible but he's trying to show he's more than a 4th OF which I have him pegged for the future. We have a surplus of outfielders we have to figure out what to do with very soon....

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Old 01-09-2019, 12:34 AM   #63
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Series 15 - Las Vegas Gamblers

This is an unusual place for the Gamblers. In their 7 year existence, Las Vegas has finished 3rd or better 5 times resulting in 3 postseason trips (all as the Wildcard team). That looks very unlikely in 2005. They lost stud cleanup hitter Cory Short to free agency this past season and have struggled with the general roster turnover of the past two seasons.

The star of the squad is now 28 year old CF Ben Squire. An elite fielder and hitter, Squire has slashed .365/.450/.596 in 28 games of action this season. A herniated disc in his back stole 6 weeks of his 2005 campaign but he’s been on fire since his return. The former 4th round pick is also joined by fellow 28 year old C Jaden Bell as the future of the franchise. Bell is on pace for a career year at the plate which is saying a TON with a .264 batting average but his ability behind the plate makes him immensely valuable.

As for this pitching staff, Dave Serrano is the ace and made major news when he tossed a no hitter two weeks ago against New Orleans. A groundball pitcher with a 97 mph fastball, the man they call “Butterball” has become one of the steady performers of this squad this season. The bullpen though has been a major struggle ranking 7th in the WL in ERA. I think Las Vegas takes the series but maybe we can get 2 games.



Game 71



Well the win streak is over. Wasn’t even certain that Shoin Fujimoto would even play in this game with a strained hamstring and he goes out there and smashes 2 HRs…. Also Treleven is really bad still

Game 72



Bad Joe Smart error allowed the big early inning from Las Vegas but guys found a way to battle back. Good day for struggling Ryan Michael driving in 2 runs and getting 2 hits

Game 73



These losses always the toughest. Make great late rally to tie game then give lead right back the following half inning. Jim Vernon an impressive 3-12 on the year but he’s been better than that record reflects

Game 74



HUGE day for Alpizar who smashed his 17th HR on the year & drove in 2 runs. Rough day for Aaron Ash who got the start and went 0-5. Can we go into All-Star break with back to back series wins?

Game 75



Heck of a way to close out the first half of season. The youth movement has started & good things are starting to happen

Around the NBL
  • Indianapolis rookie James Armstrong became the 2nd player in NBL history to throw a perfect game joining the legendary Doug Fetherolf. Even more impressive, it came against arguably the best team in baseball in Charlotte. Armstrong only struck out 3 batters but kept hitters off balanced all day. Impressive accomplishment for the 23 year old out of Rose Hill, KS
  • Impressive 6 hit performance from Jacksonville 2B Josh James on Thursday against Rochester. That’s only the 5th time it’s happened in NBL history
  • Tough news for Columbus on Monday as they learned SP Richard Gold is done for year with a torn flexor tendon in his elbow. Was having an awesome year with a 6-2 record & a 2.40 ERA in his first full appearance in the NBL

Santa Fe took 3 of 2 from Portland to close out the first half of the season and as a result sit tied atop the standings with the Pioneers. Doug Fetherolf is having an absolutely absurd year with a 1.50 ERA. Injuries are hounding Portland but that offense is still deadly especially with Oliver Swartz morphing into a super human. He's up to 27 HRs on the year. Omaha & OKC lurking not far behind the top two teams.

Out east, for the first time in forever Charlotte is not the top team. Losing 6 straight will do that to you. The Racers have finally rebuilt & assumed the top spot in the EL. Led by an elite pitching staff and a good enough offense, Indianapolis has once again become relevant in the Eastern League. Chattanooga still very much a postseason threat.



Thoughts

Well we beat up on the other two bad teams in the Western League which is saying something. Dan Lopez is on fire hitting .451 in his last 27 ABs. Marco Mendoza, Justin Laskwoski and Lorenzo Alpizar all continue to perform at a high level as well at the plate. Pitching staff is definitely missing Harden but really liking what Owens is doing

Good chance some more callups coming. Plan to use this All-Star break to plan out strategy for trade deadline and figure out who is ready to cut their teeth in the NBL. The old man is giddy right now after these past 2 series but I have to keep reminding him we are supposed to suck this year again so we can get another #1 overall but I won't lie, I enjoyed these last two weeks too....

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Old 01-09-2019, 11:09 AM   #64
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Introducing the 2005 Western League All-Stars

The WL won the first six All-Star Game matchups over the Eastern League before losing for the first time last season. They are hoping to reclaim their crown as the best league in the National Baseball League with an All-Star victory this weekend. Today, the NBL officially announced this year's 2005 WL All-Star roster

Top Player



It's not easy replacing a legend but Kyunt-Tae Kim has done as good a job as any could have imagined for the Omaha Storm. Arriving in the NBL from South Korea in 2002, he was signed by the Storm to replace NBL's most prolific HR hitter Adam Parlier. He got off to a strong start though his 6.4 WAR felt small compared to the 9+ Parlier was putting up on a regular basis.

The man they call "Catfish" had a breakout year in 2003 though ending all thoughts that maybe this decision had been a bad idea. For the past 3 seasons he's arguably been the best 1B in the Western League and might push for the NBL crown. He received the most All-Star votes this season at 2.3 million. He becomes the 3rd player ever to receive the Top Player honor. From 1998-2002, it was the before mentioned Adam Parlier and the past two years it has been Portland's CF Jaime Ryan. Kim surprisingly edged out Portland's blossoming LF Oliver Swartz for this honor.

Pitching Staff



SP Pat DeBolt (POR) | 9-2 | 2.87 ERA | 94.0 IP | 1.7 WAR | 1x
SP Doug Fetherolf (SF) | 8-3 | 1.50 ERA | 114.0 IP | 4.0 WAR | 8x
SP Luke Marsik (OM) | 5-5 | 3.05 ERA | 82.2 IP | 2.1 WAR | 6x
SP Toshiro Oka (POR) | 8-1 | 2.45 ERA | 99.1 IP | 2.4 WAR | 3x
SP Josh Rieger (OM) | 8-2 | 2.98 ERA | 99.2 IP | 1.9 WAR | 5x
SP Masaaki Sakumoto (SF) | 7-4 | 2.99 ERA | 99.1 IP | 1.3 WAR | 1x
SP David Sternberg (OM) | 10-3 | 2.15 ERA | 100.2 IP | 2.0 WAR | 1x
SP Keith Stoops (SA) | 8-4 | 2.09 ERA | 99.0 IP | 3.1 WAR | 5x

Unsurprisingly, the teams at the top of the WL standings put in the most starters on the All-Star team. Lots of familiar names with The Wolf earning his 8th straight All-Star bid. He continues to cement himself as the greatest pitcher in NBL history and is going to make it hard for anyone to knock him from that mantle.

Debolt, Sakumoto and Sternberg are all making their first appearances in the game. All three are important breakout players for their organization's staffs and big reasons their teams are in the playoff hunt.

Bullpen



RP Mike Mellen (OM) | 0-3 | 4 SV | 2.36 ERA | 34.1 IP | 0.8 WAR | 2x
RP Juan Montesino (SA) | 3-1 | 2.53 ERA | 32.0 IP | 0.8 WAR | 1x
RP Daniel Richardson (OKC) | 2-1 | 1.29 ERA | 28.0 IP | 0.7 WAR | 1x
CL Tomas Alejandre (OKC) | 3-1 | 15 SV | 2.51 ERA | 32.1 IP | 0.9 WAR | 6x
CL Mitch Kruck (SJ) | 2-0 | 19 SV | 0.86 ERA | 31.1 IP | 1.0 WAR | 2x
CL Lance Nansel (OM) | 1-2 | 21 SV | 3.14 ERA | 28.2 IP | 0.2 WAR | 1x

Lots of news faces in the bullpen this year. Alejandre is the veteran of the bunch and continues to be one of the best closers in the league.

Infield



C Jaden Bell (LV) | .271/.345/.483 | 10 HR | 133 wRC+ | 2.2 WAR | 1x
C Carlos Garza (POR) | .277/.321/.372 | 2 HR | 92 wRC+ | 1.3 WAR | 6x
C Mike Meyers (SA) | .314/.365/.438 | 3 HR | 130 wRC+ | 2.3 WAR | 3x
1B Fernando Andrade (POR) | .333/.397.489 | 8 HR | 148 wRC+ | 2.4 WAR | 2x
1B Kyung-Tae Kim (OM) | .336/.432/576 | 16 HR | 178 wRC+ | 3.2 WAR | 3x
1B Adam Parlier (SA) | .321/.399/.585 | 14 HR | 176 wRC+ | 2.7 WAR | 8x
2B Nate Davidson (OM) | .284/.342/.418 | 5 HR | 115 wRC+ | 1.1 WAR | 2x
2B Shoin Fujimoto (LV) | .259/.328/.400 | 9 HR | 105 wRC+ | 1.0 WAR | 2x | HURT
2B Jimmy Reyes (SA) | .341/.377/.449 | 133 wRC+ | 1.1 WAR | 2x
3B Anier Moser (SF) | .264/.348/.461 | 13 HR | 127 wRC+ | 2.3 WAR | 7x
3B James Olson (POR) | .267/.340/.495 | 16 HR | 132 wRC+ | 2.3 WAR | 3x
SS Steve Lewis (POR) | .262/.340/.401 | 5 HR | 102 wRC+ | 1.6 WAR | 1x
SS Roberto Solares (SF) | .301/.348/.441 | 8 HR | 121 wRC+ 2.4 WAR | 7x

Adam Parlier joins Fetherolf as an 8 year All-Star. The Titan isn't dominating all the statistics anymore but he's still a dang good player at the age of 37. Andrande continues to be one of the best stories in the NBL. Waived by Rochester, the Pioneers saw something in the young man and snatched him up. Under their tutelage he's morphed into one of the best 1B in the league. Portland is as good at any at developing talent in the league.

Santa Fe always relies on some veteran bats in the lineup and this year is no different. Anier Moser and Roberto Solares have played a lot of baseball in their careers and continue to produce. There's a reason the Bandits are always in the postseason

Outfield



LF Lorenzo Alpizar (BIL) | .267/.325/.509 17 HR | 125 wRC+ | 2.2 WAR | 1x
LF Jim Grimm (OKC) | .299/.377/.472 | 7 HR | 138 wRC+ | 2.1 WAR | 1x
LF Oliver Swartz (POR) | .359/.402/.752 | 26 HR | 219 wRC+ | 6.2 WAR | 3x
CF Jaime Ryan (POR) | .271/.401/.518 | 15 HR | 155 wRC+ | 1.8 WAR | 8x
CF Ben Squire (LV) | .351/.436/.570 | 5 HR | 186 wRC+ | 2.3 WAR | 1x
RF Mark Davis (OM) | .266/.303/.509 | 13 HR | 121 wRC+ | 2.1 WAR | 1x
RF Alex Varela (SF) | .288/.325/.464 | 6 HR | 121 wRC+ | 1.5 WAR | 3x

Feels like there is a changing of the guard happening in the outfield in the Western League. Alpizar, Grimm, Squire and Davis all earned their first All-Star bids and seems likely it won't be the last for any in that group.

Jaime Ryan FINALLY became THE GUY in the WL last season. It appears that will last exactly one year as teammate Oliver Swartz is putting together an incredible 2005 campaign. That's a scary looking lineup up in Washington feature Andrade, Olson, Ryan and Swartz
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Old 01-10-2019, 11:13 AM   #65
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Introducing the 2005 Eastern League All-Stars

The EL is looking to start a streak of their own this year after capturing their first ever All-Star crown last season. Today, the NBL officially announced this year's 2005 EL All-Star roster

Top Player



The former #8 overall pick in the 1998 draft has officially become a superstar in the National Baseball League. Jon Santos made his debut in 2002 and earned a Newcomer of the Year award for his performance. Since then he's only gotten better being named the 2004 EL's Best Player of the Year. Now he's the top vote getter in the Eastern League with almost 2.3 million votes. Santos has led the EL in HRs the last two seasons and is on track to do it for a 3rd time in 2005. He's one of the best sluggers in the game right now.

Pitching Staff



SP Dennis Albright (NO) | 7-3 | 2.52 ERA | 82.0 IP | 1.3 WAR | 2x
SP Angel Aybar (JAC) | 6-5 | 3.28 ERA | 93.1 IP | 2.2 WAR | 2x
SP Travis Boeke (CHA) | 8-4 | 3.17 ERA | 88.0 IP | 2.3 WAR | 3x
SP Min-soo Kim (CHA) | 5-2 | 1.93 ERA | 79.1 IP | 1.7 WAR | 1x
SP Brad Redden (CHT) | 6-5 | 3.28 ERA | 104.1 IP | 2.4 WAR | 2x
SP Jorge Reyes (IND) | 8-2 | 2.55 ERA | 81.1 IP | 1.0 WAR | 4x
SP Raul Valadez (CHA) | 8-3 | 2.82 ERA | 108.2 IP | 2.5 WAR | 8x
SP Cody Wappelhorst (CHA) | 6-4 | 3.00 ERA | 108.2 IP | 2.5 WAR | 2x

The NBL has been an offensive oriented league for its entire existence but that seems to be changing. A big reason why is the amount of young arms that have arrived in the league the past few seasons. All but Reyes and Valadez above are under the age of 30. The ringleader is undoubtedly Charlotte's Wappelhorst who is quickly becoming one of the dominant aces of the NBL. The Devils staff overall is scary good landing four All-Stars on this list. Both Boeke and Wappelhorst were draft picks while Kim was signed this past offseason from South Korea. The WL has a loaded lineup but will facing some top arms.

Bullpen



RP Jay Dorado (COL) | 4-1 | 1.34 ERA | 33.2 IP | 0.8 WAR | 1x
RP Rick Marshall (LOU) | 3-1 | 3 SV | 0.70 ERA | 25.2 IP | 1.1 WAR | 1x
RP Joe Morris (CHT) | 1-0 | 0.71 ERA | 25.1 IP | 0.3 WAR | 1x
CL David Capablanca (LOU) | 4-0 | 14 SV | 1.09 ERA | 33.0 IP | 1.1 WAR | 5x
CL Salvador Martinez (CHT) | 1-1 | 19 SV | 37.2 IP | 1.6 WAR | 8x
CL John Strader (IND) | 1-1 | 27 SV | 0.23 ERA | 38.2 IP | 1.6 WAR | 8x

Some fresh blood at reliever and some very familiar names at closer in the EL bullpen. It's hard to be better than Salvador Martinez but 33 year old John Strader is putting together a career year which is saying something given his impressive performances to date in the NBL. If EL can get to the final innings with a lead, they got a murder's row of shutdown arms they can trot out there in the final 3 innings.

Infield



C Butch Knittel (CHA) | .239/.313/.416 | 9 HR | 98 wRC+ | 1.0 WAR | 3x
C Tim Spurlock (JAC) | .256/.344/.475 | 12 HR | 125 wRC+ | 2.1 WAR | 5x
C Justin Weaver (ROC) | .270/.350/.393 | 3 HR | 105 wRC+ | 1.3 WAR | 7x
1B Francisquo Fariseau (CHA) | .291/.433/.602 | 24 HR | 181 wRC+ | 3.7 WAR | 8x
1B Jon Santos (ROC | .335/.420/.629 | 22 HR | 190 wRC+ | 4.0 WAR | 3x
2B Bryce Abston (CHA) | .268/.322/.487 | 15 HR | 125 wRC+ | 2.0 WAR | 1x
2B John Kohn (CHA) | .338/.378/.488 | 6 HR | 141 wRC+ | 2.7 WAR | 1x
2B Francis Martin (IND) | .313/.354/.474 | 5 HR | 136 wRC+ | 2.6 WAR | 1x
2B Eddie Munoz (NO) | .268/.405/.472 | 11 HR | 146 wRC+ | 3.0 WAR | 2x
3B Matt Fishman (ROC) | .297/.387/.541 | 16 HR | 158 wRC+ | 2.8 WAR | 2x
3B Tony Herrera (CHA) | .312/.341/.534 | 17 HR | 143 wRC+ | 2.6 WAR | 4x
3B Gary Wentzell (CHT) | .261/.356/.456 | 13 HR | 122 wRC+ | 2.1 WAR | 1x

Some of the early NBL superstars are starting to grow a bit long in the tooth but guys like Francisquo Fariseau are still raking at the plate. The now 35 year old was the most dominant player in the Eastern League for much of the NBL's early existence and is still a guy that makes you nervous when he gets to the plate.

Unsurprisingly, the Devils have stacked the EL roster though the power will come from Baby Boomers Santos, Fishman and Weaver. The EL has probably a better defensive roster and pitching staff but the WL carries a lot more pop.

Outfield



LF John Christie (ROC) | .324/.398/.702 | 31 HR | 199 wRC+ | 4.7 WAR | 1x
LF Wade Jacobsen (IND) | .280/.326/.457 | 8 HR | 117 wRC+ | 1.4 WAR | 1x
CF Ryan McCulloch (ROC) | .328/.419/.553 | 13 HR | 172 wRC+ | 4.4 WAR | 5x
CF Freddy Sharp (JAC) | .321/.392/.504 | 10 HR | 152 wRC+ | 2.9 WAR | 3x
RF Dennis Campbell (IND) | .333/.394/.568 | 10 HR | 174 wRC+ | 3.7 WAR | 1x
RF Chris Lewis (ROC) | .324/.423/.496 | 13 HR | 157 wRC+ | 2.1 WAR | 1x
RF Hiroharu Yamaguchi (CHT) | .357/.443/.631 | 207 wRC+ | 2.5 WAR | 1x

Seems pretty clear who will be the EL Newcomer of the Year in 2005. Rochester's John Christie has come flying out the gates in his debut and is on pace for an almost 10 WAR season and 60+ HRs. Portland undoubtedly has the best OF in baseball but Rochester is a close 2nd with Christie, McCulloch and Lewis. It's a pity the Flames can't seem to pair this explosive lineup with a functioning pitching staff.
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Old 01-15-2019, 11:28 PM   #66
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Dark Thoughts

Rip wasn't sure how long he had been staring at his ceiling but the clock on the wall said it was 4:45 AM so chances were pretty good it had been awhile.

Probably shouldn't have used Jack Daniels to chase the Percocet

These days the only way to get his mind to stop running a 1000 miles an hour so he could sleep involved either alcohol, Percocet or both. He was supposed to have been off the pain meds a few weeks ago following his elbow surgery but had coaxed another bottle from the doc. Unfortunately, the potentially deadly cocktail did not tonight have the desired affect of sweet sleep. Instead, his mind raced through hundreds of possible moves that could potentially be made in the coming weeks.

**** I'm tired of losing...

Rip put on a cocky bravado inside the Sky Center but truth was this new gig was stressing him the hell out. It had been so much easier to bitch over a beer to a fellow scout in some god forsaken city about how dumb front offices in baseball were than it was to actually, you know, work in the front office.

You stupid ****ing cocksucker

That's not to say Rip didn't believe in his plan. He absolutely did. But talking about tanking and watching it unfold was very different. Rip hated losing. It gnawed at him even though he knew they were losing with a purpose. He was constantly having to remind folks in his office that another #1 pick will come in handy next year when the youth movement would fully begin to take over. None of that changed how ****ty losing felt though....

But what really stressed Rip out at the moment was envisioning his next moves. The trade deadline was fast approaching and if Rip planned on being competitive in 2007 like he has been telling anyone with ears over the past few months then decisions made in the coming weeks could prove critical to making him look either extremely dumb or extremely smart in a couple of years.

The big question he faced right now was what to do with his plethora of young outfield talent. Lorenzo Alpizar and Dan Lopez were no gos. They were expected to be the anchor of this team for the foreseeable future. Justin Laskowski was putting together another outstanding campaign in RF with his .302 average and 40 RBIs. Lurking in Boise though were two legit OF prospects ready to make the jump any day. Francisco Castro and Lorenzo Navarro were both guys with outstanding ceilings. Castro was having a huge year at the plate leading the Broncos with a .335 average while Navarro was #2 batting .320 and tied for the HR lead at 5. Navarro was also proving to be an elite defender.

Navarro had consistently put up the better numbers of the two in the minors and was a strong defender. But he was ANOTHER lefty and the Sky outfield was litterred with them. Castro, on the other hand, was a switch hitter with pretty even splits against righties and lefties. Go Navarro who is a bit more proven but opens the lineup even more to dominant lefty arms or pick Castro who might not be as impactful but gives Billings a strong option on both sides of the plate?

That's not all either. Zach Della Penna was the #2 overall pick in the 2003 draft but had seen his projection drop some both in Billings's scout's eyes and in OSA's. He was a limited defender with the potential for plus power all from the right side. Do you move him for more pieces instead of the AAA guys?

But who to pursue? That was also a question Rip wrestled with daily. Catcher Scott Bartels and 3B Phil McDonald were still two clear targets but neither would be easy pulls. Bartels especially so since he played a position so limited in options in the NBL right now that it might be impossible to snatch him away from Louisville without moving one of Lopez/Alpizar. That was a non starter. McDonald was maybe an easier option but then what about John Sainsbury whom Rip had landed this offseason? He had made the jump to Boise recently and was acquitting himself fairly well. Maybe he already had his 3B of the future?

Rip had also considered seeing if he could coax 3B Manny Andrew away from Portland. He had made his NBL debut in 2003 with ok success but the former #5 overall pick in the 2002 draft was having a hard time finding his way on the field with James Olson and Fernando Andrade holding things down on the corners. Could maybe Gabe Johnson be persuaded to part with the talented youngster?

There were also the continued effort to stockpile arms to consider as well. Richard Turnipseed and Jason James were probably not ready for real NBL action until later next season. They would undoubtedly get a chance before then but Rip didn't expect they would start excelling until that point. With Harden's return in 2006 along with impressive work by Chad Owens so far in his limited NBL action, did a rotation of Harden/Turnpiseed/Owens/James/Bacher seem like a possible playoff rotation to anyone? Again, Rip wasn't sure...

What Rip was sure of was that he should probably stop this pill popping but damnit it felt good. All day he was harassed with questions, complaints and worries from every goddamned person in Montana it felt like. So it was nice to come home and just shut **** down for awhile. But maybe this was a poor way of going about that task...

What would really help me sleep is some ****ing wins

The upcoming weeks were huge for Rip's hopefully long tenure at the Sky. The Wild Man felt he was up for the challenge but couldn't fully push away that nagging doubt in the back of his mind. Did he really know what the hell he was doing? Could he really pull this rebuild off in just a few short years? Could he really handle this grind every single day for the foreseeable future?

His alarm blared. It was 5:00 AM.

Time to get back to work
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Old 01-16-2019, 10:05 AM   #67
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2005 All-Star Game



Lorenzo Alpizar went 0/2 including grounding out with a runner on 1st for the final play of the game
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Old 01-17-2019, 12:47 AM   #68
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Series 16 - Columbus Giants

Preview

With the All-Star break behind us it was time to slog through the 2nd half of the schedule. We opened the year dropping a tough series with Columbus on the road and now welcomed those damn Giants to Big Sky Ballpark. Columbus did own a winning record at 39-36 but sat 8 games behind EL leader Indianapolis.

The Giants featurs one of the best pitching staffs in the EL and the #1 ranked defense. Thankfully, our old friend Kevin Borst was not a big reason why. A ghastly 5.48 ERA along with a ridiculous 4.2 BB/9 sure doesn't generate any feelings of buyer's remorse. However, the rest of the staff boasts sub 3.8 ERAs with ace Sam Liechti sitting at an impressive 2.85. If you couldn't get anything off the starters it didn't get any easier on the backend. Jay Dorado and Randy Stevens are as good as any middle relievers as we will see this year. Bottom line, runs will be hard to come by.

It's offense that has been letting this squad down. Columbus ranks either last or 2nd to last in any meaningful offensive category. Only one bat in the lineup, 1B Andy Kinsey, is currently hitting over .300 and he's barely doing so at .304. There's very little pop in this lineup with disgruntled veteran 3B Jerry Mosquera leading the team with 7 long balls. The big hope though is that recently promoted super stud prospect CF Marcus Simms will one day provide the offensive energy. He's not there yet but his future is scary bright.

Maybe we could win three series in a row? Eh... Dave Martinez was done with his rehab assignment so we reactivated him. To open a spot Iwaived and designated backup IF Luke Gruen for assignment. The 28 year old was a decent backup glove at 2B and that was it. A -1.1 WAR career in the NBL gets you sent to the waivers I'm afraid....



Game 76



Jim Vernon left after throwing only 3 pitches with some sort of injury that we will need to hear about. In his stead, the bullpen performed admirably with Chris Oswald eating 3 innings and Ramiro Medrano chewing up 3 more. Unfortunately, Medrano surrendered a game tying HR in the 8th but Justin Kroemer took over and handled business from there. Nate Allen sent us home happy with a 3 run walk off HR. Needless to say, celebrations went late into the night in the Sky Center....

Game 77



That was ugly.. Scott Bacher entered this contest as one of our hottest pitchers then surrendered 7 runs... Justin Laskowski did have 4 hits which is kinda cool I guess...

Found out from that annoying ass doctor that Vernon will miss at least two weeks with a sore elbow. Sent him to the 10 day DL and recalled Jacob Conner. Not expecting much for him but not ready to debut Jason James or Richard Turnipseed just yet.

Also the International Free Agency period started today. We have our eyes on a few folks...

Game 78



This game was wild and ended with another walk off from Nate Allen though in the less awesome but equally effective sac fly fashion. Kroemer gets the save but he was terrible in the top of the 9th allowing 3 hits and surrendering 2 runs.

Game 79



Another big day for Laskowski going 4/4 at the plate with 2 RBIs. Alpizar smashed his 18th HR as well.

Game 80



Well, well, well... Look who has won three straight series now? It was the misfits that got the job done with Ryan Michael, Joe Smart and Juan Sanchez all having big days at the plate. Jacob Conner picked up his 1st win of the year.

Around the League

HOLY **** WE AREN'T LAST ANYMORE!!!!

Actually is that a good thing? We are supposed to suck this season...

Injuries are mounting for Portland and it's having an effect. Five teams have legitimate shots at the post season right now in the Western League and unsurprisingly the always consistent Bandits now lead the league. In the east, the Racers cling to a one game lead with Charlotte and Chattanooga hot on their heels. Interested to see if the Redbirds can make the Wild Card even more interesting moving forward



Thoughts

Some well earned awards for some folks this week. First, Marco Mendoza continues to prove Jody a genius and me a dumbass. I traded for Aaron Ash to be our future first baseman then called him up to take over. Jody refused and wanted to stick with Marco. Well now Marco is the Western League Newcomer of the Month after hitting .348, smashing 3 HRs and driving in 12 runs. His BABIP is a tad inflated but not enough to make you think his production will soon crater. Got some tough decisions to make...

The 2nd piece of hardware was for Justin Laskowski who won WL's Player of the Week for the damage he did against the Giants. I got two studs waiting for a shot at the NBL but I got a fully loaded OF currently in the majors....

Nice week for Ryan Michael as he continues to figure things out at this level. A .237 BABIP tells me that he's due some positive regression in the future. The big surprise though might be Juan Sanchez who is actually 4th on the team in WAR so far this year. Not a guy I expected much from but he's producing at 2B so far.

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Old 01-17-2019, 11:58 AM   #69
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Meet the Team: New Orleans Weird


NEW ORLEANS WEIRD
Owner: Dustin Raeburn (1998 - 1999), Tom Cooper (2000 - present)
Overall Record: 514-616 (.455)
General Managers: Nick De Jager (1998-1999), Tom O'Kelley (2000 - 2003), Justin McManus (2004 - present)
Managers: David Eichel (1998 - 1999), Matt Velichko (2000 - 2001), Casey Miranda (2002), Adam Monaco (2003 - present)
Ballpark: Big Easy Ballpark
Playoffs: N/A
Championships: N/A

Summary

It's not been easy being a Weird fan. In fact, even though other organizations have worse winning percentages, they've at least have had moments of hope. Not the case for New Orleans who has finished consistently 6th in their short history. That sort of hopelessness has lead to one of the most disengaged fanbases in the NBL which is sad considering the great potential people saw in the city of New Orleans as a fun place to play baseball.

It hasn't mattered the ownership or front office, NO is stuck in that bottom third of the Eastern League and can't seem to claw their way out. Injuries, poor roster moves and draft busts have plagued this franchise for its entire existence. Fan interest, attendance and loyalty are all dreadfully low. San Jose, Billings, Columbus and Louisville are all bad baseball franchises but yet their fans are still firmly behind the team despite all the heartbreak. In Louisiana, it's going to take some big time seasons to get that ballpark full again. You can't help but wonder if the existence of this franchise is in jeopardy....



Best Hitter

Despite the W/L struggles, New Orleans has always featured a superstar in their lineup. Jorge Molina lit the world on fire during his 5 seasons while current CF Jonathan Shulz has consistently produced and finds himself climbing the WAR ladder. But no one has come close to eclipsing the great Ryuma Mizukami.

Born in Japan, Mizukami arrived in the NBL in 1999 as really the first big time international prospect. He signed a 4 year $14.08 million deal and immediately became a star in the league. At the age of 33, it was expected that his star would not shine long but he made the most of his mid thirties stringing together years of 5.1, 5.6, 8.8 and 4.7 WAR years for the Weird. That 2001 season still stands as one of the greatest ever for a hitter in the National Baseball League. Mizukami led the league in hits, RBIs, batting average, slugging percentage, OPS and came oh so close to Adam Parlier's 75 HR record with 69 of his own. His efforts that year earned him the EL Best Player of the Year award and he's still only one of four players to ever earn a Triple Crown at the plate. His 69 HRs is still #2 in the HR list and his 166 RBIs is #3 both only trailing the legendary Adam Parlier.

Mizukami is still playing though it's for Columbus's AAA affiliate. It's clear that the end is near for Mizukami but no one, especially anyone in Louisiana, will forget his impact in the early years of the NBL and how his performances helped pave the way for more talented Asian players to find their way into the league.



Best Pitcher

Sometimes it's not about being a superstar, it's about being consistent. Someone everyone knows will go out there week after week and do their job. No one probably fits that bill better than Mike Allen. The Jersey City native played his first five seasons with New Orleans where he pitched at least 200+ innings three times and never pitched less than 150. He put up 3+ WAR all five years including a strong 2002 campaign that saw him lead the league in starts and innings pitched. Allen is only a 2x All-Star and has never been a flashy arm but his career 3.89 ERA ain't something to sniff at given this offensively powered league.

Allen signed a monster 4 year deal with Omaha in December 2002. The now 32 year old has lost a little of his steadiness due to a torn UCL in 2004 but he's still a productive member of the Storm pitching staff. While not necessarily as beloved as Mizukami in the Big Easy, he's still highly respected by that fanbase.

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Old 01-19-2019, 03:33 PM   #70
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Rip's Notes - IFA Preview

One of my favorite times of year is here with the International Amateur Free Agency underway. We've already lost out on arguably the top guy but I didn't wanna go over budget anyway though I think he's a stud.

The focus instead is on hombres:

CF Antonio Santiago (DOM)
SS Bungay Deatras (PHI)
3B Pedro Blanco (COL)

With Jacksonville already signing CF Roberto Juarez, Santiago is now the top guy everybody wants. Potentially a top end 5 tool player, Santiago could honestly end up playing anywhere on the diamond sans catcher or pitcher. At the plate, he loves yanking meatballs over the LF line but also does a good job putting the ball in play and should have fairly decent K numbers for a guy with his power potential. OSA isn't as high on him as we are but even they see a solid do it all utility guy with the potential to smack 30 HRs a year.



First off, besides having a badass name, Bungay is also an elite MIF prospect with a chance to be a top of the order type of hitter. More of a gap hitter, Bungay still has some pop to his bat but with his speed and propensity to put the ball in play, will probably end up a 1 hole hitter that plays 2B or SS. Guy that could quickly see action in Bismark if we land him.



The final option is purely a wild bet. Pedro Blanco is an all or nothing option. He can't play much defense, struggles with contact but when he does get a piece of the ball it's probably heading out of the park. That's intriguing to me. Doubt he ever morphs into much but never hurts to gamble on a plus power kid with leadership potential.

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Old 01-20-2019, 12:57 AM   #71
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Series 17 - Rochester Flames

In our first meeting with the Flames, we snatched the first 2 games of the series which gave us all the false hope that life was not meaningless and you can believe in the goodness of your own heart. Then Jon Santos ****ed us over and over again over the final 3 games to make you want end any thoughts of there ever being happiness again….

Rochester is by far the most hilarious team in baseball. They are living up to their “Baby Boomers” moniker leading the NBL, not just the Eastern League, in every single offensive category you can imagine. The Flames have smashed 126 HRs (no one else has triple digit dingers) this year while batting .452. However, they feature the worst pitching of any team in the NBL surrendering 448 runs so far this year and both their bullpen and starters ERA is hovering above 5.30. Absolute insanity.

While Santos did most of the damage the first time around to our woeful pitching staff it’s John Christie who has put together the more powerful 2005 to date. The likely EL Newcomer of the Year has smashed 33 HRs which leads all of baseball. He’s on pace to challenge Adam Parlier’s 75 mark in 2000 though probably won’t eclipse it. This is a scary lineup without a single weak spot so you gotta be able to keep up offensively to beat this group especially in that home park of theirs where ball fly out.

We are also trying something interesting this series. I wanna get Aaron Ash more reps but can’t justify ending Marco Mendoza to the bench. So I pitched the idea of working Mendoza at 3B this series. He’s gonna suck defensively but considering Smart is our worst fielder anyways so Jody said sure what the hell. Mendoza is the better athlete too which is why it sorta makes sense. Interested to see how this goes….



Game 81



Due to the sad state of our pitching staff, Chris Oswald is now in the rotation. Honestly, he did better than I expected but it still wasn’t great. We actually did a good job keeping the ball in ballpark but our left handed heavy lineup had no answer for Mario Berumen who continues to lead the EL in wins with now 11

Game 82



Justin Kroemer sucks… Seriously for a guy that’s been a multi time All-Star & won 2 Reliever of the Year he sure loves blowing saves… He’s now up to 4. Alpizar launched his 20th HR of the year which is cool I guess

Did get some good news in the form of IFA CF Antonio Santiago signing. Dunn thinks he’s got a chance to be special but he’s only 16 so its gonna be awhile

Also sadly the bidding for Pedro Blanco got too high. If we offer it will put us over the IFA cap & he’s not worth the financial penalties

Game 83



I think we got something in Chad Owens. Continues to get better every performance. He walked 5 today which ain’t good but did a good job limiting the damage. That’s 3 wins in 4 appearances for the 23 year old.

The Aaron Ash experiment is not going well this series… Also that damned doctor just told me he has no idea when Jim Vernon will be back in the rotation. I mean he’s 3-12 with a 4.64 ERA but the man eats innings which is nice

Game 84



Dan Lopez is starting to get REALLY good at hitting a baseball. Back to back 3 hit games for him. Incredibly impressed with our pitching staffs ability to limit this explosive offense so far. Can we do it one more time and get a 4th straight series win?

More IFA good news. While we won’t get Blanco we did land SS Bungay Deatras today. He will start in Bismark next year. Solid middle infield prospect

Game 85



You knew it was coming at some point… John Christie had 0 HRs so far this series but quickly changed that today smashing 2 out of the park & driving in all 5 runs. Frustratingly, we kept getting guys on base just couldn’t get em home. After going hitless through first 4 games, Ash finally decided to wake up and give me something with a 2-4 day and 2 RBIs.

Around the League

Back at the bottom of the Western League. #SadFace….

Omaha has surged ahead out west thanks to coming out the gates fast in the 2nd half of the season. It’s still a super tight battle up there with Santa Fe, Portland and Oklahoma City all VERY much still in the race. Given fact the Storm have New Orleans up next wouldn’t be surprised if this hot start continues into next week.

In the Eastern League, it continues to clearly be a three team battle. The Racers are clinging to a one game lead over Charlotte while Chattanooga lurks in the background. Indy faces Santa Fe this week in a big time showdown while Charlotte hosts Portland. Two big series for those 4 squads.

There’s a chance Doug Fetherolf doesn’t run away with the Pitcher of the Year Award in 2005. Rookie Min-Soo Kim for the Devils has been amazing posting a 1.57 ERA this season. He doesn’t log as many innings as the Wolf but he’s arguably been more effective in his limited time. Still, Fetherolf leads in total WAR at 4.1



Thoughts

The Aaron Ash experiment went rather poorly. Obviously judging someone on only 5 games is asinine but I think I’m gonna open Mendoza back up to move to 1B. His offense seemed to struggle with the defensive change as well. Ash seems happy in his current role so we will reasses moving forward. Will probably play around with some of that some more down the line too.

About time to start making some moves here in near future. Working on assembling trade targets now and plan to get really aggressive after this next series. Told the old man probably gonna see if we can find another arm ready for next year and hopefully a catcher but we will see. Also still need to decide what the hell to do in the outfield….

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Old 01-20-2019, 03:21 PM   #72
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Series 18 - Jacksonville Sharks

Jacksonville took 4 of 5 from us to start the season but things have gone downhill for them since. They sit way back in 7th place in the EL trailing Indy by 11 games and looking very unlikely to compete for a postseason spot. Injuries sure haven’t helped as have lost their starting LF Jeremy Jacobs (who is expected back mid series), starting 2B Brian Sarka and starting RF Brian Fisher for much of the season.

As for who is still in the lineup, their stars are still for the most part in place. Freddy Sharp continues to be one of the best center fielders in the land while Tim Spurlock is locking down that 2nd best catcher in NBL history title behind Portland’s Garza. Mike Frey is having a bit of a down year but is still a danger in that 4 hole. This lineup isn’t necessarily elite but its talented especially at the top of the order.

Pitching has been a struggle, especially in the bullpen. Hale’s old fav Ramon Bracamontes has been solid for the Sharks in the 9th but that’s really it. The Sharks have a solid 1-2 punch at top of the rotation in Angelo Aybar and Tony Santiago, both sporting sub 3.3 ERAs but the back of the rotation has been hit or miss. But they dominated us last go around so ain’t exactly entering this with a lot of hope especially considering we have to travel to that damned Shark Tank of theirs where they WAY oversell their mascot. We get it, you like ****ing sharks but damnit please stop playing the Jaws theme song every time you get an out….



Game 86



Well that was an ass kicking… Oswald wasn’t great but he wasn’t horrible either. Ramiro Medrano on the other hand was vomit inducing bad. But really didn’t matter because we can’t hit lefties…

Waiver pickup Jason Goodberlet went down with an injury as well. Waiting to see the diagnosis before making a roster move

Game 87



Nothing like losing the game to a pair of solo HRs from what ****ing dude…

Learned that Goodberlet will be down for 2 weeks with a herniated disc in his back. Sent him to the 10-day DL and recalled Jacob Conner once again so he can suck some more

Game 88



Dan Lopez continues to morph into a superstar while Chad Owens continues to show he might be our best arm on the ML roster at this point. Huge days from both. Every starter sans Nate Allen had a hit today which is always fun

Game 89



Outside of an Alpizar blast that game wasn’t much fun to watch… Good ole Jacob Conner with the blown save

Game 90



Sharks go 8-2 against us this year so I bet that’s a ton of fun for them… Our ability to lose in extra innings is impressive. Big day for Marco Mendoza who has been trending down in recent weeks. 1st inning 3 run HR gave us some false hope early

Around the League
  • Interesting move announced on Monday. Rochester agreed to send Portland their talented but struggling closer Miguel Camarena (0-3, 20 SV, 5.20 ERA) for an alright prospect in 19 year old 3B Kyle Holder. I get flipping a closer for some prospects but not sure the return all that great though Camarena probably isn’t commanding a king’s ransom right now
  • Brawl between former international free agents Yong-jik Yang (Santa Fe) and Koushuu Iwasaki (Indianpolis). Not often you see a starting pitcher try to fight a reliever after getting plunked at the plate….
  • ****ing lol… Mr. Kevin ****ing Borst who I traded away before the season to Columbus in the mega deal pitching a ****ing PERFECT GAME Tuesday against San Jose. He’s been ok this year but of course he pulls that off and Hale made sure to let me know of the news...
  • Once the #4 overall pick in the 1998 draft, Brandon Bonds’s career has not turned out the way anyone had hoped. The former Louisville prospect is now the “ace” of the San Jose staff but suffered a torn flexor tendon which will effectively end both this season and maybe next year. Bonds was a fireballer coming out of the University of Nebraska and debuted as the #7 prospect in the NBL. Injuries have ravaged the right hander and he’s never reached the potential dreamed of when he was drafted. Tough career for the young man
  • It’s supposedly minor but something to watch. The likely Western League Best Player of the Year winner Portland’s LF Oliver Swartz left Wednesday’s contest with Charlotte with a rib injury. Pioneers think he will be back in full force in two week’s time but given that close race at top of standings, even that little of time could prove huge.

We once again share the bottom of the standings with San Jose as they are on an impressive 6 game losing streak. At the top of the league, people are getting nervous in Portland. They dropped 4 straight to Charlotte before salvaging game 5 and avoiding the sweep. But with Swartz not 100% for next 2 weeks they are in the danger zone. Same for Santa Fe who had the same results as Portland against a top EL foe in Indianapolis except they won the first game before dropping 4 straight. Omaha, meanwhile, continues to build momentum and slowly take control of the WL. The Storm have not been back to the postseason since Adam Parlier’s departure following the 2001 season. OKC and San Antonio have a chance in the next couple of weeks to make a move. Unsurprisingly, the afore mentioned Parlier is playing a big role in that for the Silver Stars.

Meanwhile in the Eastern League, the top 3 teams continue to impress. Indy, Charlotte and Chattanooga combined to go 12-3 against three of the top WL teams. I still think the Devils are probably the best team of the bunch but credit the Racers for their consistency. The Choo Choos are scrapping to stay in this hunt. Poor Columbus. If they were in the WL they might have a legitimate chance at the Wildcard spot



Thoughts

Well that wasn’t pleasant was it? Pitching staff continues to take hits as Nick Treleven is battling back stiffness as well and had to go on the DL. Means we are down 3 starting pitchers and I’m not ready yet to turn loose Jason James or Richard Turnipseed (waiting for roster expansion in August). So called up 26 year old Mike Rubin who is more of a long relief guy than a starter. But kinda where we are at right now.

Both Ash and Mendoza are struggling at the plate right. Upcoming series Jody agreed to let Ash get the starts over Mendoza but right now neither are the clear option at that spot. At some point we have to make a decision and commit. I’m still team Ash but Jody is all Mendoza. This is probably gonna end in a shouting match…

Trade deadline is merely 16 days away. Been working the phones looking for some pitching help and maybe a big time 3B. Nothing so far but some interesting possibilities…

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Old 01-24-2019, 12:41 AM   #73
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An Unexpected Call

“MRS. LIIIIIIIGGGGHHHHTTTTFOOOOOTTTT???!!!” Rip roared from his office.

The very irritated 60 year old secretary came to his door.

“What is it Mr. Bucknor?” she said in her “you are a child” voice.

“Why doesn’t anyone like me?”

It had been a tough few days for Rip working the phones trying to find some real talent to add to this sad and pathetic roster. He had decided to set his sights on adding a power hitting right handed 3B if he could find one and any starting pitching talent he could get his hands on. So far, his conversations had ended with a lot of vulgarities and alcohol but no deals.

“It could possibly be because you are a narcissistic, vulgar, irritating man who throws a tantrum every time you don’t get what you want.”

“Nah that can’t be it.”

****, that’s totally it.

Rip had spent a lot of time chatting with Portland’s GM Gabe Johnson. The Pioneers had the disgusting problem of having too much talent on their NBL roster and seemed like a clear trade partner. Rip would send over some prospects and Johnson would kindly return 3B Manny Andrew. The 24 year old former #5 overall pick was wasting away on Portland’s bench behind one of the best 3B in the game in James Olson. But while Andrew hadn’t exactly shined in his limited NBL action to date, it was pretty easy to see the talent oozing off this kid. Johnson wasn’t a fool either and was making it very difficult for Rip to pry away the young talent.



The rest of his conversations were around starting pitching. Turns out lots of organizations would love to move the star arm of their system for the cheap price of, oh say, Lorenzo Alpizar? Rip had spent much of this week bellowing “NO YOU DAMNED IDIOT, WE AREN’T TRADING ALPIZAR!”

Seriously confused why people won’t make a deal with me….

Rip looked at the clock. It was almost 6:00 PM which meant it was time for Mrs. Lightfoot to make her way home. As if summoned by Rip’s thoughts, she was back at his door with her massive purse in hand.

“Is there anything you need before I nod off Mr. Bucknor?”

“You got any right handed power hitting 3B in that man sized satchel there?”

Mrs. Lightfoot shook her head and replied, “I’m sorry sir, I don’t.” Then with a wink she added, “And if I did not sure I would have my own plans for him.”

And with that she trotted off.

I think I am corrupting that woman.

The thought made him smile.

RING

Rip’s phone’s shrill stopped any further fun thoughts about a vulgar form of Mrs. Lightfoot. Rip snatched up the phone.

“Howdy Rip!”

Rip almost slammed the receiver down immediately upon hearing that hokey accent. Jeff Kozack was one of the most infuriating human beings on the planet but also happened to be the general manager of the San Antonio Silver Stars. For whatever reason, being the GM for a team in Texas going on 4 years had resulted in the Virginia native trying to talk like a cowboy. How a real life cowboy hadn’t already shoved a cattle prod through Kozack’s eye, Rip wasn’t sure but he did his best to resist the urge to swear the man off the line.

“Evening, Jeff.” Rip muttered through clenched teeth. “What can I do for you?”

“I hear you need starting pitching and I got the man just for you.”

A little intrigued, Rip sat up.

“You heard right. Who you got?”

“Chris Conroy”

Huh...

Conroy was a 2nd round pick back in the 1999 draft before climbing steadily up the prospect rankings. He peaked in 2002 when BBN named him the #4 prospect in the country. After a lukewarm NBL debut in that same year, the now 24 year old righty put together back to back outstanding campaigns in 2003 and 2004. While he had a better record and a slightly better ERA in 2003, it was 2004 when he earned an All-Star bid and took a huge step towards becoming one of the best arms in the league. A 3.03 FIP paired with a Western League best 0.3 HR/9 resulted in a 5.3 WAR season. His numbers weren’t as great this year, specifically that HR/9 but he was still really good.



“Ok, you have my attention.” Rip said begrudgingly.

“Aight fella, I’ve also heard you ain’t movin Alpizar or Lopez which I get but I need OF help and you got OFers galore. Gimme something that’ll make us both happy.”

San Antonio did need OF help in a bad way. Their outstanding CF Dario Cardone was out for the year with a broken kneecap while former Billings OFer Victor Rodriguez was missing time with a bad back. They weren’t exactly trotting out the strongest OF in the league and with a chance to compete for a playoff spot the move made sense. Especially considering Conroy was absurdly the #5 arm in the rotation. That’s what happens when you have three former 1st rounders make it to the big leagues.

But as for whom to move that was tough. He still hadn’t settled on either Francisco Castro or Lorenzo Navarro for the future. Zach Della Pena was a touchy subject as he would be another 1st rounder Rip would trade away plus he was a right hander with some power. The one thing he wanted.

Damnit I wasn’t ready for this…

A thought struck him in an instant and Rip went for it.

“What about Laskowski?”

“Seriously? You would move him? I was told that OF was untouchable.”

Justin was having another strong year for Billings and actually led the team in batting average. But the ceiling was clear. The switch hitter could hit doubles, be a solid leadoff man but had limited big time power and was a liability on defense. With the talent in the org, why not see if he could prolong choosing between his prospects and move the guy most likely to not be apart of the vision longterm?



“I love Justin. Everyone knows that but I need pitching help if we are gonna pull this franchise out of the pits. Laskwoski for Conroy straight up. What ya think?

Kozack considered it.

“Don’t think I can do straight up Rip though I like where this is headed. I need some prospects though, at least one mid level guy to make this fair value. Conroy is a proven, young, controllable arm in this league. Laskowski is a proven, average, young bat in this league. Gimme a little more and I can sign off.”

**** he is right.

“Is there a position specifically you want? I gotta think you didn’t call me hoping I would randomly pull someone outta my ass that you would love.”

The veteran GM chuckled.

“Fair enough. Talk to me about Jake Gowens?”

What a dumbass….

Gowens was drafted out of high school in the 4th round back in 2000. The right handed catcher was a decent defender with a weak arm behind the plate. His bat was pretty limited and outside of one strong year in Bismark last season, the 24 year old hadn’t done much to show he was a legit future NBL talent.



“Done but only if you give me Mendoza.”

“Seriously?”

“Cmon, cowboy.”

Rip was getting a bit greedy but could feel Kozack ready to end this deal. He hoped to sneak a little more out of him before that. Dave Mendoza could be the closer of the future for Billings. He possessed only two pitches in a sick cutter and a hard breaking curveball. Both were insanely effective, the main issue was on one pitch the curve would take a wicked break and undress the poor batter in the box. The next time it would ding him in the head. But Rip loved the upside and wanted him.



“Hmmm….” Kozack rumbled into the phone as he considered the move. “Conroy and Mendoza for Laskowski and Gowens then? Eh… I think I’m gonna need another prospect for that to happen. Preferably a middle infielder.”

“T.J Young.” Rip quickly answered. He had it on good authority that Kozack’s dumbass head scout was all hot & bothered for the clearly pointless 23 year old second basemen.”



“That might actually do it….”

There was a long pause before Kozack finished his thought.

“Alright there bucko. I think we can live with a move that send you Chris Conroy and Dave Mendoza for the services of Justin Laskowski, Jake Gowens and T.J Young. Sound good?”

Rip smiled. He had finally made a ****ing move.
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Old 01-24-2019, 11:08 AM   #74
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A Controversial Move

“I think you could have gotten more.” Blake whined from the corner of Hale’s office.

Rip sat in the same chair he had disbelievingly learned that he was wanted as Billings new general manager. Hale sat in the same leather back chair he had when he propositioned Rip staring out his window seeming to contemplate the recent news. Rip’s always worried assistant GM, Blake Madson, for some reason stood nervously in the corner while he berated Rip for another bad move.

“I think you really undervalued Laskowski and honestly, Gowens is one of the best catcher prospects we got! Don’t know how you can complain about our catcher depth only to then ship one of the few we got for a bullpen arm and a #5 starter.”

Rip snorted. “Conroy might be the #5 arm in San Antonio but he’s an ace here. At worst he ends up in the middle of the rotation but you have loss your stupid little mind if you think he’s not worth acquiring. Also had no idea you had such a hard on for Gowens. Into thick legged men are we?”

“RIP!” Hale snapped. “None of that please. Deliver your points without insult. That shouldn’t be too hard to ask.”

“Yes pastor.”

Rip and Blake continued to glare at one another. The news of Rip’s deal had been met by mixed reviews from his supposed “brain trust”. Unsurprisingly, Blake thought it was a bad deal. Also unsurprisingly, Hale was noncommittal. The old man seemed to think you could just conjure great players out of thin air without giving up any yourself.

If they are concerned about this move then they might lose their minds when they hear about the other deal that is about to be completed….

“Look gentlemen,” Rip said in an attempt to be cordial. “I liked Justin. He’s a damn good player. And yes Blake you do have a point that Jake is a solid catcher prospect. But I also think you guys are too focused on how they match up to our current roster. Laskowski is currently a top 4 player for us and Gowens might be our 2nd best catcher prospect. That’s more a statement on where we sit now than anything. My goal is to make both irrelevant in the near future. Conroy is a proven, cheap, commodity who can provide some mentoring to these young guys we got while throwing 180+ quality innings a year. Imagine him and Harden at the top of the rotation next season with some group of Chad Owens, Scott Bacher, Richard Turnipseed or Jason James behind. All of a sudden we actually have a competent NBL pitching rotation. Something this organization has NEVER had before.”

Hale sighed.

“You are right Rip. Plus I guess this means we can give one of Castro or Navarro a shot. Who are you thinking?

“Castro. Switch hitter like Justin but can play better defense anywhere. Talked with Jody and he liked idea of moving Alpizar to RF and letting Castro test the waters at his most comfortable position. Plus long term, might make more sense for Alpizar to be out in right.”

Plus we are about to lose our top RF prospect…

“Fair enough.” Hale answered. “Alright, well the deal is done and I think I’m ok with it. Is there anything else we need to discuss?”

Rip hesitated.

“There might be….” He offered. “But I’m waiting on final confirmation.”

“Confirmation on what?” A concerned Blake quickly asked.

Rip let out a slow breath. “Wanted to wait to tell ya’ll this once it was official but whatever, I’ll give it a go. I’m trading Della Penna.”

Blake winced as if punched while Hale let out another sigh.

“WHAT THE HECK RIP?!” Blake roared while charging up to Hale’s desk. “HOW THE DOGGONE HECK YOU GONNA MAKE THAT MOVE WITHOUT TALKING TO US?!”

“You not gonna call him out for those vulgarities John?”

“Now’s not the time for humor Rip.” Hale answered sternly. “I had no idea Della Penna was on the table. I thought the focus was deciding between Castro and Navarro.”

Rip cracked his knuckles and leaned forward while giving Blake a smile, “He wasn’t until he was.”

Zach Della Penna was Billings’ #2 overall pick in the 2003 draft. The right hander out of Newport Beach, California was ranked the #38 prospect in baseball and looked to be the Sky’s future right fielder. He had a huge year in Bismark in 2004 when he smacked 11 HRs, drove in 81 runners and put up a 121 OPS+ campaign good for 3.7 WAR. His numbers had understandably dipped a bit at AA Cheyenne but he was still on pace to be one of the top performers in the system in 2005.



But Rip had his eye on something better.

“Obviously this wasn’t an easy decision. Della Penna is a guy I planned to keep until I talked to Tillley out in San Jose. He wanted an OF bat, specifically Alpizar for their #2 overall pick in 2001, Eric Jones.”

Jones was a monster at Georgia Tech before being picked 2nd overall by the Sea Dogs. His minor league career hadn’t been anything to get all that excited about but had quickly worked his way into San Jose’s bullpen. In 127.1 innings of work the early numbers were ok, not great. A 6-7 record with a 4.31 ERA, a BB/9 north of 4, scary 4.95 FIP and -0.6 WAR. Not really the type of production you trade a prospect to acquire.

But dear lord the upside. Jones consistently sat between 97 and 99 mph. He possessed a filthy 5 pitch repertoire that included a powerful heater, quick moving slider, deadly effective changeup, groundball inducing splitter and a potentially K producing knuckle curve. Jones problem at the moment was his inability to consistently locate those pitches with the his velocity. But he was young at 24 and Rip felt that he just needed a chance to thrive.



“So you traded our #2 overall pick from 2003 for San Jose’s in 2001?” Hale asked. “Does that mean you trust Sean Doiron’s evaluations more than X’s?”

Interesting question…

“Doiron is a dumbass so no.” Rip answered. “It’s pretty simple though. We got outfielders to burn but desperately in need of rotation help. Jones is another ace potential. There could be a world where we trot out 2-3 ace arms a week. Pair that with a lineup that’s gonna have some contact guys and enough power, all of a sudden we are talking playoffs.”

“I don’t like it all!” Blake predictably moaned. “You’ve been complaining about no right handed hitters with power in our lineup then trade the one guy closest to being ready? I don’t understand you Rip…. Plus how many starting pitchers are you gonna acquire?”

“As many as it takes Blake. I think the era of the longball might soon be approaching the end. I want to be ready. We are gonna have the best pitching staff in the country and an offense that makes the opponent get them out. It’s gonna be fun baseball that leads to big attendance number but more importantly, wins.”

Blake just shook his head in response. Hale was back to staring out the window. This whole routine was getting ****ing old.

“It’s pretty simple folks.” Rip said as he stood up. “You either trust me or you don’t. If you don’t, then ****ing fire me and let me go back to finding talent in nowhere places in South America. If you do, then stop bitching and let me do my ****ing job.”

“Fine Rip.” Hale responded. “But no more surprises, I wanna know when these moves are happening.”

“Sir? Sorry to interrupt.” Mrs Lightfoot was at the door.

“What is it m’lady?” Rip answered with a smile.

“They’ve agreed. The deal is final.”

The Wild Man turned to Hale.

“Where there ya go sir.” Rip said with an impish grin. “You’ve been made aware that it’s happening.”
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Old 01-24-2019, 10:51 PM   #75
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Rip's Notes - 7/16

One of the big goals when I got this gig was to rebuild this pitching staff. Between Chris Conroy, Eric Jones, Richard Turnipseed, Chad Owens, Jason James and Austin Modderman, I'm feeling good about where we sit there. With that group added to David Harden, Scott Bacher and Danny Rivera, feel like should be able to put together a top half pitching staff in the Western League. For the time being though, Jody is rolling this staff out for rest of year

RHP Chris Conroy | 24 | 7-7 | 116.1 IP | 4.49 ERA
LHP Scott Bacher | 25 | 2-4 | 57.0 IP | 4.11 ERA
RHP Chad Owens | 23 | 6-5 | 106.0 IP | 3.31 ERA
RHP Eric Jones | 24 | 4-5 | 64.0 IP | 4.36 ERA
LHP Sam Goodwin | 5-9 | 94.2 IP | 5.61 ERA

When the rosters expand next month Turnipseed and James should get an opportunity to show what they got.

Now the focus turns to offense. Francisco Castro will replace Laskowski at the top of the order and will slide into left field. That bumps Alpizar to right which might be better for him long term. Navarro should get a call up soon in August so good chance to see all these young OF prospects.

The big issue is finding some right handed hitting power. Jonah Williams and John Sainsbury both are expected to IF pieces for the future but have no power. I'm gonna continue to go after Manny Andrew but it's looking unlikely. Opening a wider search to see if can find anything else out there. Wouldn't mind it coming from the catcher spot but I will take any of the IF really.

Hoping for some better baseball moving forward. Not expecting some improbable run to the the WL title but maybe, just maybe we can inject some hope into this fanbase before it's all said and done....
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Old 01-25-2019, 12:13 AM   #76
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Series 19 - Chattanooga Choo Choos

It was time to hit the road and head southeast to Tennessee where we will meet the Eastern League’s 3rd best squad in Chattanooga. The Choo Choos are battling at the top of a tight Eastern League race with Charlotte and Indy. Right now they are the odd man out but only by a game & half.

They recently had some bad news when ace Brad Redden went down with a strained abdominal muscle. He might be able to pitch but it’s gonna be 3-4 weeks before he’s fully healthy again. This Choo Choo staff is solid but it’s the bullpen that’s scary. Ranked 2nd in ERA, this bullpen is loaded with big time arms none bigger than NBL’s best closer Salvador Martinez. He and Vinny Gonzalez are a deadly 1-2 punch.

Offensively, this team isn’t as explosive as you would expect. Gary Wentzall is the anchor leading the team with 14 HRs but offseason addition Hiroharu Yamaguchi is right behind him with 13 and leads the team with .341 batting average. Chattanooga actually starts 3 former foreign free agents, the most in the NBL.

We took 2 of 5 from home last go around. I’m hoping for about the same result. Would be nice for Conroy to have a huge opening performance….

Game 91



What an absolutely ****ing absurd game of baseball… Chris Conroy was brilliant, carrying a no hitter into the 5th before giving up a hit with 2 outs. He only surrendered one run but it looked like Lorenzo Alpizar’s 3 run HR in the 7th would get him the W. But then we attempted to **** ourselves and two errors (Smart & Ash) resulted in Chattanooga taking a 4-3 lead into the 9th. That meant we had to find a way to score on the NBL’s best closer of all time. WELL LORENZO ALPIZAR DOES NOT GIVE A ****

Game 92



Damn good baseball game, they were just better. Lopez is hot as hell at the plate right now including slugging a 2 run jack today. Francisco Castro is 0-5 with 3 Ks in his first NBL ABs. Yikes….

Game 93



Owens was far from perfect but left it a 1-1 game only for Chris Gutierrez to make a mess of it… Castro now 0-12 with 4 Ks but did reach on an error

Game 94



First Martinez and then Gonzalez? What is this world? Jones was great through the first 4 before falling apart in the 5th but this offense kept battling. Dan Lopez is unstoppable right now going 4-5 while Mendoza delivered the killing blow in the top of the 8th. Starting to think I didn’t need to trade for Ash…. Oh and Castro finally broke through! 2-5 with an RBI.

Justin Burke’s terrible year ended in a terrible way with a torn rotator cuff. Sent him to the DL and recalled Mick Rubin who was with the team for a day before made deal for Eric Jones. Will now actually get a chance to prove himself after a strong year in Boise





Game 95



WOWOWOW! We take the series from Chattanooga in Lookout Stadium on the back of a huge performance by Juan Sanchez. Sam Goodwin was not great but it proved to not matter. Huge series win for our organization

Around the League
  • Charlotte ace Cody Wapplehorst is fighting a bad elbow that isn’t supposed to force him to miss more than maybe 2 starts but its definitely something to keep an eye on. He’s 9-4 this year with a 2.47 ERA
  • Portland is looking for some bullpen help and acquired 34 year old RHP Luis Jimenez from New Orleans for two prospects. Jimenez is sporting an ERA north of 6 though so not sure how much help he’s gonna be...

San Jose took the series with Rochester so we both stayed tied at the bottom of the standings. Meanwhile, up top things continue to get interesting. Five teams have a legit shot at the pennant with San Antonio arguably playing the best of the bunch. They took 4 of 5 from Indy this past week. Omaha still hanging onto that top spot.

Out east there was a shakeup. Chattanooga and Indianapolis’s struggles opened the door for the always dangerous Devils. Charlotte won all but one matchup with Omaha this past week. Despite currently being down Wappelhorst, Poczatek and Mestas, this team is still scary good.



Thoughts

Awesome series this week. Conroy had an outstanding debut while Jones showed for 4 innings why fans should be excited before imploding. Dan Lopez and Lorenzo Alpizar are blossoming into the super stars we hoped they would. Still trying to figure out how to fit the pieces around them but that’s a hell of a starting point. Can we put together a winning month? Have to have big series against Santa Fe and Portland to pull it off….

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Old 01-25-2019, 10:57 AM   #77
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Series 20 - Santa Fe Bandits

The Bandits travel to Big Sky Ballpark this week as they fight for a playoff spot in a hotly contested Western League race. With them they bring the best damn pitcher in baseball in ace Doug “Wolf” Fetherolf who is having another insane year leading the National Baseball League in ERA at 1.96. Pitching is where the Bandits excel, having the Wolf helps for sure but Masaaki Sakumoto and J.D. Westrick have been pretty dang good too.

As for offense, that’s where the SF struggles. They don’t have a ton of power, sitting 7th in the WL in HRs. Most of power come from 3 & 4 hole hitters Roberto Solares (10) and Anier Moser (13). Lots of good contact hitters though gotta bring our gloves.

In the Thieves Den they took the first 4 games before we stole game 5 to stave off the sweep. Feeling a little optimistic given this past series but goal is probably take 2 games this week.



Game 91



Awesome win with Francisco Castro earning his first ever walkoff but Chris Conroy left in the 3rd with a tender shoulder. Expected to miss maybe one start. Impressive work by the pen

Game 92



This is getting stupid… Scott Bacher left with an injury and we are waiting on the diagnosis. That makes 5 starting pitchers with injuries…. Though Jim Vernon is able to come off the DL and start his rehab assignment in Boise

Game 93



Owens was good, just not good enough. Good news is Castro is looking more comfortable. Already has that average up to .276 after that terrible start

Game 94



Incredible performance from Jones going 8.1 innings. Aaron Ash delivered the clutch hit to tie the game in the bottom of the 7th but no more of those would come. Instead, the Bandits destroyed Bill Silander to take the series…

We got some REALLY bad news after the game. Apparently our top pitching prospect Richard Turnipseed is done of the year with a torn rotator cuff. He’s out 9 months it seems extremely unlikely he will be a factor in next year’s rotation which is incredibly disappointing. Hopefully he bounced back strong otherwise my hunt for elite starting pitching might not yet be over….

Game 95



Alfredo Herrera is very good at baseball and reminded us of that fact very harshly today. Sam Goodwin continues to be a terrible pitcher but considering everyone is on the DL he’s just gonna have to keep sucking

Around the League
  • The Titan continues to build his already impressive legacy. Adam Parlier became the first player in NBL history to hit 400 HRs in a career. The 37 year old is having somewhat of a renaissance this season just 3 long balls shy of his 29 HRs from last year. He’s batting .338 as well. He’s a big reason why San Antonio is on this hot streak
  • Speaking of San Antonio, they made a move as well acquiring 34 year old SS Andrew Cooper from Louisville in exchange for young reliever Jose Garcia and a prospect. Cooper is hitting .240 this year with only 1 HR but the Silver Stars are dealing a slew of injuries right now and need IF help if they wanna finish this push for the playoffs
  • Indianapolis’s CL John Strader recorded his 300th save vs Jacksonville on Sunday, becoming the first reliever to reach that mark. Among closers, Strader’s 24.4 WAR trails only Chattanooga’s Salvador Martinez. The 33 year old holds a winning record of 40-29 in his career over 553.0 innings pitched with an outstanding FIP of 2.16 and a dominant 12.2 K/9. He’s one of the best 9th inning arms in the game
  • The Choo Choos took a blow this week losing starting 2B Jordan McKinney for the year to a ruptured finger tendon. On the season the switch hitter was batting .276 with a .317 OBP, 3 home runs and 31 runs driven in.
  • More deals going down as the trade deadline approaches. In an effort to improve their battery, Santa Fe traded for one of the best defensive catchers in the game in Kyle McCloskey. In exchange, they sent Jacksonville talented 31 year old reliever Jose Arce and a pitching prospect. McCloskey won’t provide much at the plate (he’s hitting .134) but the 3x Gold Glove winner will be a tremendous defensive upgrade behind the plate.
  • The other big move was between EL foes. Charlotte is down two OFers so they struck a deal with Louisville to acquire 30 year old LF Ray Hambrick who is hitting .262 on the year with 8 HRs. They also added a nice young 2B in Jerome Amos. In return, the Redbirds received 28 year old reliever Pete Hendrickson to beef up their bullpen. He’s sporting a 1.26 ERA and a 2-1 record. Louisville also received a nice young pitching prospect in the form of Larry Griffith
  • On Monday, Las Vegas’s 1B Justin Goodrich became the 14th player in NBL history to hit for the cycle in a routing of Portland.
  • Longtime reliever Roberto Reyes who is currently in Louisville's bullpen announced he plans to retire at season end. The 36 year old has had a solid career with a 41-45 record and 6 saves in 767 innings pitched while putting up a 4.55 ERA

Santa Fe’s strong showing in Big Sky Ballpark moved them into 2nd place by their lonesome. Omaha is still clinging to a 1 game lead in the Western League but not necessarily playing their best baseball. Portland, OKC and San Antonio are all still in the thick of the race.

Out east, Charlotte maintains their grip on the EL pennant but barely so. Indianapolis is a single game behind after taking 4 of 5 from Rochester. That race appears to clearly be between three teams though with a strong push Columbus could make things interesting.

A quick look at the Best Player of the Year and the Pitcher of the Year races. For much of this season it’s seemed like Portland’s Oliver Swartz was the shoe in to win the WL BPOTY but Omaha’s 1B Kyung-Tae Kim is making it a battle. Swartz is still the favorite with his WL leading 30 HRs and 93 RBIs but Kim leads the WL in batting average at .360 and OBP at 1.108. Adam Parllier is also lurking in that race. As for the EL BPOTY, despite no chance of the playoffs it will probably be one of the Baby Boomers. The Flames lineup is insanely good and RF Chris Lewis (.340 / 19 / 65), LF John Christie (.320 / 39 / 99) and 1B Jon Santos (.334 / 27 / 66 RBI) are all firmly in the race. The one man that could ensure the award doesn’t head to New York is the 3x winner 1B Francisquo Fariseu of Charlotte. He leads the EL in OBP and OPS along with being 2nd in the league in HRs at 32.

The Pitcher of the Year battle is probably gonna be 4x winner Dough Fetherolf who has compiled a league best 4.7 WAR so far this season thanks to a 2.13 ERA, 148.0 IP, 133 strikeouts and a 11-4 record. However, keep an eye on San Antonio’s top of the rotation. Both Keith Stoops (9-5 / 2.37) and Cory Bolton (6-5 / 3.10) could make strong cases as well. There’s also Omaha’s David Sternberg who leads the WL in ERA at 2.03 and wins thanks to a 14-3 record. In the EL, Min-Soo Kim of Charlotte continues to lead the league in ERA at 2.30 but struggles to go very deep in games. That might be the reason his teammate Cody Wappelhorst gets the nod. He’s the current WAR leader at 3.4 but a lot will depend on his health moving forward



Thoughts

Well the good vibes of that Chattanooga series are very gone. The Turnipseed news was a gut punch as we were gonna call him up when rosters expand to give him a chance to prove he should be on Opening Day roster. Even worse, you have to worry if this injury takes a little of his velocity away and thus some of his value. Need him to come back strong.

Still hunting for some deals looking for some right handed hitters. Have had a lot of really bad requests sent my way and nothing close to coming to fruition. Also looking to shop some guys around like Justin Kroemer to see if any playoff contenders want some bullpen help. So far not much nibbles. We might be done making moves but we will see….

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Old 01-25-2019, 11:49 PM   #78
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Meet the Team: Portland Pioneers


PORTLAND PIONEERS
Owner: Dan Eison (1998 - present)
Overall Record: 557-593 (.484)
General Managers: Gabe Johnson (1998 - present)
Managers: Wilson Yoshida
Ballpark: The Frontier
Playoffs: 2004 (WC)
Championships: 2004

Summary

Early in the 1998 season, when Portland was by far the worst baseball team in the National Baseball League, manager Wilson Yoshida unleashed a tirade of abuse onto the media in attendance in a press conference. Why? Because he was angry about the coverage of the team and the repeated calls for his job. "CAN'T YOU SEE WHAT WE ARE BUILDING YOU DUMBASSES!" Yoshida had belted in what at the time seemed like a man trying to cling onto a job that wouldn't last.

Last year, after Portland claimed the NCS crown, Yoshida entered the press room following the celebration and stated "See I told ya."

Give this Portland organization credit. They had a longterm vision of what success could look like for their somewhat small market team and were patient in its execution. The Pioneers were absolutely miserable in their debut year going an NBL worst 58-92 that season. They would never again stoop that low but never really threatened relevance until around 2001.

Through that time period, general manager Gabe Johnson did an incredible job of acquiring elite talent through the draft. Toshida Oka and Oliver Swartz were his two first round picks in 1998 and 1999. Now Oka is the ace of the staff and Swartz is on pace to win a BPOTY. But even his picks that didn't reach his own NBL roster have made waves elsewhere. Guys like Justin Laskowski (5th round), Butch Knittel (2nd round) and Gary Wentzall (1st round) are all currently starting and producing for other NBL teams.

He then made important free agent signings such as extending Jaime Ryan and nifty waiver pickups like Fernando Andrade to support his drafted talent. That all culminated in their first ever playoff appearance in 2004 and ended in a title. They are firmly in the think of the WL race again as they attempt to defend their title.

News coverage is much better these days



Best Hitter

No one in the history of the National Baseball League has accumulated as much WAR as Jaime Ryan. His 74.1 career mark beats even the Titan himself and Fariseau. While both might best him specific categories (Parlier in HRs, Fariseau in OBP) none are as well rounded a ballplayer as Ryan.

The Iowan native was apart of Portland's inaugural roster in 1998. He's been outstanding every year since putting up double digit WAR years in 1999 (11.5), 2000 (12.4), 2002 (10.0), 10.8 (2003) and 10.9 (2004). He's hit 60+ home runs three times in his career and has led the Western League in walks in all but one campaign. Ryan is a 8x All-Star, 6x Best Bat winner, 2004 WL BPOTY, 2004 WL Championship Series MVP and 2004 NCS Champion. If not for the raw power of Adam Parlier, Ryan would probably be the undisputed king of the National Baseball League. Even so, he's undoubtedly the king of Portland though that reign may soon be ending for the 35 year old with the emergence of Oliver Swartz. But for now, he's still the top selling jersey in town.



Best Pitcher

Being the first ever #1 overall pick in a professional amateur draft applies even more pressure than your typical #1 overall selection. That's why despite being an outstanding pitcher for the Pioneers, there's still a feeling of disappointment about the first generation American's career to date.

Oka was drafted in 1998 and made his NBL debut in 2000. While not a superstar in the league, he's consistently put together strong campaigns for the Pioneers. A career ERA mark of 3.71 over 1010.1 IP and an impressive 7.6 K/9 rate has lead to a career WAR of 22.0, Oka has been more than effective as the ace of the Portland staff. He has two of the best strikeout pitches in the game with his freaky curveball and unconventional forkball. Those pitches play foil to his 96 mph fastball that he can put about anywhere he wants. His long wind up makes him even more entertaining to watch as you can't help but wonder when that big swooping curveball is gonna appear.

He may not go down as the greatest pitcher in NBL history but Oka has been an outstanding arm for the Portland organization. Barring an announcement in the coming months, he will hit free agency at the age of 27 and command quite the salary demand. There's a very good chance he's only just getting started.

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Old 02-03-2019, 10:43 PM   #79
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Series 21 - Portland Pioneers

Preview

We travel west to take on the hated Pioneers this week who are “tragically” slipping down the standings. Injuries have ravaged last year’s champs but outside of closer Jon Mossman, the bug has avoided Portland’s stars.

This is the best offense in the Western League, second only in the NBL to the monstrosity in Rochester. Oliver Swartz (.336 / 30 / 93), Jaime Ryan (.272 / 22 / 74), James Olson (.242 / 22 / 60) and Fernando Andrade (.323 / 15 / 60) are a murderer’s row to contend with and a big reason why the Mean Green lead the WL in every meaningful offensive category.

Pitching has been the pain point. Ace Toshida Oka is having a bit of a down year but is still effective while Pat DeBolt (11-2 / 3.16) just wins games. But it’s a crapshoot following those two and this is where the litany of injuries have really hurt Portland. The bullpen has been solid though so the key is to touch up the starters and hope it’s enough to withstand any late offensive push.

Maybe while we are out here I can finally get Gabe to relent and gimme Manny Andrew….



Game 96



The Conroy Experience continues to be awesome. He only went 5 innings but kept this Portland offense in check. The bullpen was outstanding while Lorenzo Alpizar and Dan Lopez put on shows at the plate.

Game 97



You knew it would happen… Portland went deep 4 times and poor Scott Bacher gave up all 10 runs. Sadly Mike Rubin left with an injury so we will see how bad that might be…

Game 98



When Toshida Oka is on it is quite scary

Game 99



Eric Jones was absolutely terrible in the 1st inning but he regrouped and shut things down from the 2nd inning on. Offensively, we just stayed after it and it was actually Joe Bickings with the game winning 2 run triple in the top of the 8th. What a game…

Also learned Mike Rubin will be out 5 weeks so that stinks. We recalled Jason Goodberlett from Boise

Game 100



Despite walking six, Sam Goodwin somehow only gave up 2 runs. Unfortunately, our offense left 22 runners on base….

Around the League
  • Santa Fe needs offensive help and Rochester needs anybody that can consistently throw strikes. So a deal between the two makes a ton of sense. The Flames sent slugging 1B Zach Voight (.275 / 4 / 18) along with hard hitting 1B prospect Keith Kooiker west to the Bandits in return for 32 year old reliever Bobby Stark (4-1 / 2 / 3.66) and BBN’s #89 prospect LHP Dory Weiss. Solid dela for both sides.
  • Huge blow to Chattanooga as they lose stud catcher Ta-kai Zhou for the rest of the year to a torn ACL. Zhou was batting .248 with 7 HRs and 33 RBIs but his defense is more what they will miss over these final months
  • Charlotte’s ace Cody Wappelhorst continues to struggle with some nagging arm injuries. Now it’s a sore elbow that could keep him out of at least 2 starts
  • Lots of moves on the day of the Trading Deadline. First, there was Louisville shipping veteran slugger 1B Humberto Martinez to New Orleans in exchange for young utility man Jeremy Rakita. Not a lot to say about this trade besides the Weird get a guy that might put a few more butts in seats and the Redbirds get a bench hand
  • Second big deal of the day came from Omaha and Rochester. The Flames sent some serious bullpen help to the Storm in the form of outstanding RHP Kuang Yang (6-6 / 29 / 3.11) receiving 2B Taylor Baumgartner (.222 / 1 / 22) in return. Rochester clearly wanted something for Yang before he went to free agency while the Storm are gearing up for a playoff push

Santa Fe ended July by taking 4 of 5 from their rival Las Vegas. Meanwhile, Omaha dropped their series with OKC and in turn lost their lead in the WL. They better be careful because San Antonio's summer push continues as they swept a bad San Jose team to climb just 1 & half games behind the Bandits. It's gonna be a wild race to the finish considering the 5th place team in the West right now is Portland and they are only 3 games back. Got a feeling we might see some separation over the month of August.

In the East, the same storylines continue to play out. Charlotte hanging on to a narrow lead over Indianapolis while Chattanooga continues to lurk just a game & half back. The Choo Choos will face the Devils and Racers in back to back series over the next 2 weeks. Huge chance for them to make a move. The last week of the year will be when Charlotte and Indy face off for the final time. It could decide the pennant.



Thoughts

Still far from being a good team but we are improving at not being a bad team. Liked out performance this past week and with rosters now expanding should be a good chance for youngsters to possibly give us a shot of energy. But before that happens, might have time for one more trade....
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Old 02-09-2019, 09:31 AM   #80
BigRed75
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Really enjoying this dynasty. I love reading dynasties with backstories. It's something I try to do myself but I'm never as good as the masters like reds1 and Big Six. Your Rip Bucknor character is a real character, if you get my drift. And the idea of him blowing out his UCL throwing the ceremonial first pitch was genius. Who ever heard of a GM needing Tommy John surgery!

Keep it up!
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