Friday, March 27, 2015

Season 30 Preview - NL East by blanch13

It’s been Season 24 since anyone but the Phillies and Mets finished 1st or 2nd in the East, and NY and Philly have both made the playoffs 5 times in those 6 seasons. Can D.C. or Pittsburgh break the stranglehold this year?

Washington D.C. Nationals (rigbystarr - 16th season)
Season 29: 56-106, 4th in East
Offense: 591 runs (14th)
Defense: 782 runs allowed (15th)

The Nats have been building the farm system for a few seasons now, and it started to pay off last year. The contributions of rookies Erubiel Calderone (30 HR’s) and Danny Cairncross (4 wins, 3.05 ERA in 100 IP) probably pushed them over the MWR (although just barely).

They’ll get more help from rookies this year. Season 25 IFA ($1.5MM) Yordano Gonzalez starts the season on the staff; he’ll likely be joined soon by Season 27’s #8 pick, SP Sid Miller, and Season 26 IFA ($6.1MM), SP Nigel Kuroda. They’ll form the backbone of what should be an improved staff, along with 3rd-year SP Brian Ray (7 wins, 4.13). 

The offense looks like it’s still going to struggle, although FA 2B Bryan Cambridge should be a decent upgrade from the departed Ed Sierra.

They have 2 more excellent prospects at AAA: Manuel Guerrero (9th pick,Season 29) looks like he could become a game-changing defender at either 2B or CF who also hits for power, and SP Joba May (#2 overall Season 28), who is the future ace of the staff.

D.C. will see a good improvement this year (maybe 65 wins) just based on the young arms. They’ll really get interesting when we see Guerrero and May with the big club in a season or 2 - they’ll have a very young, cheap talented roster and cap room to make a big splash in free agency.

Pittsburgh Pirates (jthornton75 - 5th season)
Season 29: 77-85, 3rd in East
Offense: 636 runs (9th)
Defense: 688 runs allowed (9th)

The Buccos orchestrated a major CF upgrade with he signing of Bryan Mordecai. The 11-year vet has exceptional range in CF (although he’ll boot the occasional routine play) and adds 20-25 HR’s to a lineup that could certainly use more power (185 HR’s last season). The attack still suffers from a dearth of baserunners (.306 OBP Season 29), but could jump to 650-660 runs this year.

Len Reith (10-13, 3.28), Adam Strange (9-7, 3.16) and Brett Hamilton (10-3, 3.16) give Pitt a potent front three on the rotation, while quality relievers Nick Terrell (12 saves, 2.55), Santiago Sardinha (6-1, 2.74) and Eugene Bell (14 saves, 3.76) hold down the late innings. A little improvement from the 4th and 5th starters (a distinct possibility - both Kingsale and Sogard were well above their career ERA norms last season) would go a long way toward putting this staff in the top half of the NL.

The Pirates vastly improved their farm system last year. They added pitchers Banjo LaRocca (#19) and Buster Minor (#13) in the draft, and infielders Rodrigo Alberro and Cesar Andino in int’l free agency. All will be ML contributors, but not before Season 32.

I like Pitt’s chances to hit .500 - that probably won’t overhaul the Phillies or Mets, but they’re closing.

Philadelphia Phillies (dillontt - 13th season)
Season 29: 89-73 (2nd in East)
Offense: 790 runs (2nd)
Defense: 709 runs allowed (11th)

The Phils missed the playoffs for the first time since Season 21 last year (although by just a game. They sported their usual potent offense (#2 in the NL), but the pitching fell off a little (not dramatically - they allowed just 5 more runs in a year when scoring was down - but enough to drop by 3 wins).

They didn’t take it sitting down. They scored one of the offseason’s biggest trades, getting former ROY and 2-time All-Star SP Rich George (14-10, 4.14) from Cleveland for C Dennis Drese (.282/30/78) and prospects Sam Baker and Will Stein. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Phils’ entire starting rotation (George, Freddy Hughes, Al Jeanmar, Saul Romano and Francisco Morales) all posted ERA’s in the 3’s this season.

They improved the staff further by signing RP Rick Dalesandro, a career 3.66 setup man who tossed 102 innings for the Angels and Giants in Season 29 (5 wins, 4 saves, 3.34). And they put a bow on top of all of it by re-signing closer Brandon Ross to a team-friendly 2-year deal ($5.6MM per).

Offensively, the weapon of choice for this team is the longball - 251 last year (2nd in NL). 1B Luis Baez leads the charge (58 taters last season), with compliments from another 8 players last year in double figures. They may miss catcher Drese in this department, although Season 24’s #1 pick (Dan Blair - #20 overall) looks ready to step into, if not completely fill, his shoes.

On the farm, the Phils have a few prospects, but the only significant help coming anytime soon will be the aforementioned C Blair.

I think Philadelphia will win 95-97 this year, and will certainly challenge the Mets.

New York Mets (blanch13 - 9th season)
Season 29: 95-67, 1st in NL East, lost in the playoffs in Round 1
Offense: 781 runs (4th)
Defense: 645 runs allowed (4th)

Coming off a World Series win in Season 28, the Mets had high hopes for Season 29. It wasn’t exactly a bad season, but a first-round playoff exit sparked a wholesale housecleaning.

It started when management let RF Karim Saenz, OF David Newson, backup SS Pedro Lopez, MR Javy Gomez, and 2B Glenallen Richard all walk in free agency. 

It gathered steam with the trade of productive (and expensive) frontliners Alex Walden (.285/35/89) and Danny Thompson (13-12, 4.19 in 236 IP) to the White Sox for 1B Lawrence Urich (.302/29/73). 

It really got rolling with the trade of 1B Tony Ramirez (.248/47/107) and RP Keith Owen (19 saves, 3.70) to the Giants for 3B Hack Hampton (Season 26 #11), 2B Harry Tapies (.209/16//64) and RP Lenny Kroeger (12 saves, 3.78).

Somewhere in between, the Mets got lucky and had free agent ace Deleanor Johnstone fall into their laps for $8.55MM a year as a free agent.

It will take full shape with the Opening Day or early-season promotions of 3B Hampton, super-utilityman Terry Spencer, and DH-impersonating-a-RF Neill Hill.

All-in-all, they have significantly less power, but are more left-handed, better at reaching base and a grade higher defensively. Are they a better regular-season team? I don’t know. But with a 3-man rotation of Johnstone, Sammy Quinones and Rico Marrero, they are a better playoff team.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Veteran's Committee Approved Hall of Fame Ballot for Season 30

In order to streamline our Hall of Fame voting and help to ensure that the maximum amount of worthy candidates are inducted, I conducted a poll of our long standing owners with 20 or more seasons in the league (13 of us).  They were asked to say whether or not a list 30 top players from the list of Hall nominees were Hall worthy or not.  The intent was to both pare down future lists of folks to consider for Hall induction and to determine this season's 5 top nominees. The top 5 vote getters (who appear on the official ballot) will be are official list for this season. Anyone not getting over 50% of the committee vote will be dropped from consideration for future Hall discussions. Here are the results of that vote (9 people participated):

Hall Worthy
9 - Vic GonzalesJavier GonzalezKent Crawford
7 - Brandon SuttonJames HunterEnrique Cordero
6 - Bernard SpringerHiram AbbottPlacido Santana
5 - Virgil Manning

Dropped from Future Consideration
4 - Alan LongHoward Sweeney
3 - Bruce LewisJuan MiroArmando Taveras
2 - Bing MilesJavier ValdesAlfonso TrajanoKordell BeckerRyuu ChoiWes Roosevelt
1 - Clyde RedmondPascual MartinAlejandro VazquezCarson Graves, Donatello BolleaTodd O'SullivanVictor Lima
0 - Cliff RiversEnrique Gonzales

For this years ballot, we had two folks at the top, Crawford and Cordero, who were not nominated and so cannot be official candidates this season.  So besides Gonzales, Gonzalez, Sutton, and Hunter, one person needed to be chosen from those with 6 votes to be our 5th selection.  The results of the run-off election were as follows (7 voters):
3 - Springer
2 - Abbott, Santana

So our official Season 30 HOF ballot is as follows:
Vic Gonzales
Age: 40B/T: R/R
Born: Monte Cristi, DO
Position(s): DH
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

Javier Gonzalez
Age: 42B/T: R/R
Born: Jicome Esperanza, DO
Position(s): P (SP2)
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

James Hunter
Age: 41B/T: R/R
Born: Pearl City, IL
Position(s): DH/1B
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

Bernard Springer
Age: 38B/T: R/R
Born: Sturgis, SD
Position(s): DH
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

Brandon Sutton
Age: 39B/T: L/L
Born: Oskaloosa, KS
Position(s): DH/1B
View Hardball Dynasty Profile

Friday, March 13, 2015

Season 30 League Makeup

As we head into Season 30, I was curious about the makeup of our league in terms of how long everyone has been here, how much experience they have overall, and how much success they have. Here is what I found:

Kinsella's Average GM:  15.1 seasons in Kinsella, 78.8 seasons of experience, 35.4 playoff appearances, and 3.0 WS titles

The AL is a bit more tenured and experienced than the NL.

Average AL GM:  16.9 seasons in Kinsella, 85.6 seasons of experience, 39.3 playoff appearances, and 3.3 WS titles

Average NL GM:  13.3 seasons in Kinsella, 71.9 seasons of experience, 31.6 playoff appearances, and 2.7 WS titles

Here are the highs and lows by division:

Tenured High:  110 - AL East (all other divisions between 45-64)
Tenured Low:  45 - NL North

Experienced High:  455 - AL East
Experienced Low:  220 - NL West

Playoffs High:  222 - AL East
Playoffs Rate:  58.7% - NL South

WS Titles:  19 - AL West
WS Title Rate:  5.5% - AL West

For individual GMs, here are the highs and lows:

Tenured High:  30 - 5 GMs
Tenured Low:  1 - olemiss33 and hopkinsheel

Experience High:  165 - tk21772
Experience Low:  8 - jdavidson1

Playoffs:  82 - hopkinsheel
Playoffs Rate: 75.2% - hopkinsheel 

WS Titles:  13 - blanch13
WS Title Rate:  11.8% - blanch13

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

"Get to Know a GM" Volume #2 - blanch13

The first to reply to my query is the current GM of the World Series Champion New York Mets. blanch13 originally joined Kinsella as the GM of the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays back in Season 5. The team had been completely gutted by previous management and he took the team from the depths to be a powerhouse in the AL, but unfortunately our version of the Buffalo Bills as they lost 3 straight WS. He left the Rays at the top of their game for a 7 season sabbatical until returning to take over a hapless Mets team. The Mets fortunes quickly improved and he now sits atop the league as the defending champion.

Kinsella Blog (KB):  Who is blanch13?

blanch13 (b13):  Soon-to-be 60 yo divorced guy, 1 daughter aged 25 in Madison WI. I've lived in Austin for 7 years now. I run a business coaching practice an internet marketing agency.

KB:  Where does your username come from?

b13:  Partly from my last name - Blanchard - and partly from the number I wore in high school sports - 13.

KB:  Besides sports, what are some of your other interests and hobbies?

b13:  Who are your favorite players of all-time (any sport)?

Basketball - Havlicek
Baseball - The Mick
Football - Joe Willie and Snake Stabler

KB:  Which are your favorite teams?

b13:  The LSU Tigers

KB:  Did you play sports growing up?

b13:  All growing up, baseball and football in HS, a bit of rugby in college.

KB:  What is the top sports related thing you want to do in life that you have not yet done?

b13:  Hike the Milford Track  (KB:  Had to google this. FYI it is a famous hiking trail in New Zealand.)

KB:  What would you consider your greatest WIFS accomplishment?

b13:  Had some good ones, but improving the Mets for 7 straight years and finally winning the WS right here in Kinsella is probably tops 

KB:  Do you have any favorite players from any of your HBD teams?

b13:  The best player I've ever had has been Oscar Young, a power-hitting IF who has won 6 MVP's in 10 seasons in Summer of '49. Unfortunately, he's leaving me for greener pastures after this season.

KB:  What is your favorite aspect of HBD?

b13:  The overall depth and complexity of the sim.

KB:  What is your least favorite aspect of Hardball Dynasty?

b13:  The predictability/linearity of the ratings/development system.

KB:  If you were in HBD, what position would you play? And, what would you be rated?

b13:  I'd be what I was as a high-school baseball player - a power-hitting, strong-armed, bad-fielding SS. Something like con-pwr-vL-vR-eye of 56-99-60-70-90 and range-glv-armS-ArmA of 87-79-99-88

Thursday, December 25, 2014

"Get to Know a GM" Volume #1 - overeasy

I am reviving a blog series that I started doing years ago, but unfortunately only went out a few times. Over the course of this season, the plan is to publish these fairly regularly so that very quickly we will know a bit about the folks who have been sharing this obsession with us for a few years now. I couldn't start this up without re-doing it myself, so here you are as the first in the series it is a self interview in our first entry in the "Get to Know a GM" with your league founder and commissioner.

Kinsella Blog (KB):  Tell us a little about yourself

overeasy (OE):  I'm a 40 year old married father of 3 young boys (8, 6, and 4). I've been with my college sweetheart since I was an 18 year old freshman at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA. We currently reside in Spokane, WA where I work as an electrical engineer for a small consulting firm.

KB:  Where does your username come from?

OE:  It is how I like my eggs. Every morning (and I mean EVERY morning) I get woken up by the boys by 5:30 am and start cooking breakfast. I make eggs for all 5 of us every morning which is sometimes complimented with oatmeal and/or sausage.

KB:  Besides sports, what are some of your other interests and hobbies?

OE:  Most days it pretty much feels like all I do is work at home to help keep our household going, work at work to make the money, and sleep. When I do try to make time for something else, I like to play tournament style Texas Hold'Em poker. I feel like I am good for a hobbyist player and have a lifetime net positive over $1000, nice since I've never played with a buy-in over $50. 

KB:  Which are your favorite teams?

OE:  Baseball - Despite having grown up in northern CA where almost everyone was a Giants or A's fan, I am an Atlanta Braves fan. It happened because the first two little league teams I was on were both called the Braves and since every Braves game was shown on WTBS I was able to see them even more than the local teams.

Football - It was impossible not to be a 49er fan growing up within walking distance of the park where they had their in-season practice camp and having my first season paying attention to the sport be the year of their first Super Bowl title.

Basketball - Growing up in the 80s, I am fairly certain that everyone in the state of CA was a Laker fan, but after the Magic era ended they pretty much lost all appeal. While I pay attention to the sport, I am not a big fan of the style of play that came into vogue from the Jordan era and like watching March Madness more than the NBA.

Hockey - ?  I grew up in Northern CA years before the San Jose Sharks came around and hockey was not on the radar. I never learned much about it until my sophomore year of college when the floor of my dorm did a league of NHL '94 on Sega Genesis.

KB:  Who are your favorite players of all-time (any sport)?

OE:  Baseball - Dale Murphy as he was the best player for my team during some very lean years. It is a shame that he is not in the Hall of Fame. So what if his career practically dropped off a cliff in his early thirties, anyone who is ever in the conversation as best player in the game for about a decade deserves to be in. If he had tragically died in an accident in the late 80s, he would have been voted in. So why do his horrid years cancel out the greatness of his first decade?

KB:  Did you play sports growing up?

OE:  I played baseball and basketball growing up. In baseball, my best skill was fielding ground balls as a second baseman. I think my problem at the plate was all mental as I over thought everything. My best ever hitting game was one where our regular SS was missing and they moved me there. I was so freaked out playing SS that I proceeded to make 3 errors in the field while going 4 for 4 at the plate. My baseball playing days ended with Colt league in 9th or 10th grade.
Playing basketball, I had a decent outside shot and did my best to hustle and play as fundamentally sound as I could. My lack of height (5'11") and speed ended my basketball career with the high school freshman team.
Needing something to do athletically, I picked up tennis as a sophomore and earned a varsity letter as a junior and senior. One interesting fact of this is that my doubles partner my senior year was Adam Carson, the drummer for the band A.F.I. (If you haven't heard of them, ask a teenager. They actually appeared on Saturday Night Live and won an MTV VMA.)

KB:  What is the top sports related thing you want to do in life that you have not yet done?

OE:  I have no aspirations for any physical events, but if poker is considered a sport I would someday like to play at the World Series in Vegas.  I would love to visit the Field of Dreams in Iowa and the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

KB:  What would you consider your greatest WIFS accomplishment?

OE:  The individual success has been fun, with my happiest moment being in HD when I led my alma mater, the Pacific Tigers, to the NCAA title game. But my greatest WIFS accomplishment has been starting and maintaining this league as one of the top tier leagues of HBD.

KB:  Do you have any favorite players from any of your HBD teams?

OE:  I'll stay with talking about Kinsella for this one. My favorite player is still Brandon Sutton. The guy was huge for our first run of success. It drives me a bit crazy that his two teammates of that era were able to get elected to the Hall and he is still waiting. He was the guy who kept being league MVP runner-up year after year and was the best of the three. Part of it was my own fault, since most of those seasons we clinched the division and bye very early and I just benched him to make sure he was healthy for the playoffs, being scared of an injury to my most important offensive player. So I probably shorted him close to 150 games for his career, costing him the opportunity for 3000 hits and 500 home runs. At the same time, I also played him at DH to save on fatigue even though he was fine at 1B, better than most of the other current HOF candidates who spent more time there.

KB:  What is your favorite aspect of HBD?

OE:  As a kid who used to use his baseball cards to create fictional seasons, even tracking the statistics of the players, HBD is basically a dream come true. Back then, I many times ignored the real life capability of the players and gave them their attributes based on how they looked in their baseball card picture. Dave Stewart was actually a multiple Cy Young winner in my imaginary world when he looked like a bad ass on his Rangers baseball card and Glenn Bragg was a monster slugger for the Reds.

KB:  What is your least favorite aspect of Hardball Dynasty?

OE:  This used to be coach hiring, but I suppose by now I've grown accustomed to the lameness. My least favorite thing now is when people decide to leave this league as finding good folks to replace them has become more challenging as the popularity of the game has waned.  The whole HBD maintenance activity to change the game to a new server has provided a glimmer of hope that there might be something happening again to renew interest. My stronger belief though is that they changed the server to get things more consolidated and save money on their data center expenses.

KB:  If you were in HBD, what position would you play? And, what would you be rated?

OE:  In my younger days, I would have been a mediocre range and arm, high glove 2nd baseman with a bat made for the tryout camp.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Hall of Fame Polling Results

Season 29 Hall of Fame Official Candidates:
Vic Gonzales - 10
Diego Wilfredo - 9
Damian Brantley - 8
Hiram Abbott - 6
Fred Lewis - 6

Wait Until Next Year:
James Hunter - 5
Bernard Springer - 5
Brandon Sutton - 4
Hersh Taylor - 4
Juan Miro - 3

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Season 27 Hall of Fame Candidates - The Frontrunners

Hersh Taylor, 1B:  4 AS, 1 MVP, 3 SS (1 1B, 1 LF, 1 DH)
              Hersh spent all but his final season in the homer suppressing Kauffman Stadium with the KC Royals.  While better suited for DH, he spent most of his seasons attempting to field at 1B. Hersh earned all of his paychecks at the plate where he was a home run and RBI machine. Despite his home ball park, Hersh finished his career with over 500 homers, almost 1700 RBI, and a 0.900 OPS.  The stars aligned for him perfectly in Season 17 when he set career marks in almost every category (114 runs, 222 hits, 55 homers, .350 BA, 1.080 OPS) on his way to his only MVP award. He had many other fine seasons, but never anything else close to the magic of Season 17.

Hiram Abbott, 1B:  1 AS, 1 MVP, 5 SS (4 1B, 1 LF)
              Like Hersh, Hiram was another player at 1B who was best suited for DH and earned everything he got with his work at the plate. Since Hiram spent the bulk of his career in the NL, he had to play somewhere. He also had the disadvantage of playing in pitcher friendly home parks during his prime years in Shea and Dodger Stadium. He was a bit overshadowed early in his career playing 1B in the NL along with Hall of Fame Legends Dee Dee Hutton and Kevin Marte as well as the great Pedro Garrido and Pascual Martin. Not quite a slugger like the other 1B/DH types on the ballot, Hiram still slugged quite well with 384 homers and a great 0.933 OPS, but his forte was getting on base and had a career .410 OBP (5th all-time). He had a huge season back in 13, bringing in his only MVP award.  His other MVP worthy season in Season 8 was in a league dominated by Hutton and Marte.

James Hunter, DH:  2 AS, 2 SS
              Of anyone on this list, James had the biggest disadvantage from his home ballpark, playing his entire career in Seattle’s pitching paradise, Safeco Field. Unlike the previous folks, he was able to avoid the embarrassment of looking foolish in the field for all but one season playing at his natural DH position. Other than a couple of big seasons where he OPS’d over 1, his annual numbers don’t look that impressive on the surface, but for those of you who have ever fielded a team in a pitching park, they look very impressive.  While his career was probably drug out a bit too long by a sentimental ownership group, averaging over 30 homers a season with an over 0.900 OPS for the first 15 years of his career was a Hall worthy feat.  Throw in the fact that he was #4 all-time in runs created and he feels like a lock.

Bingo Miller, 2B-LF:  8 AS, 2 SS (1 2B, 1 LF), 1 GG (LF), 3 WS Rings
              While he did not have quite the offensive prowess of Earl Jacobsen or Lorenzo Manto, Bingo is arguably the best all-around 2B in history combining offense and defense. While he wasn’t anywhere near GG level either, he covered the position well and gave a great boost at the plate providing offense from a key defensive position. With almost 400 doubles, over 300 homers, and a solid .384 career OBP, Bingo was a brilliant 2-hole hitter on some great Yankee and Marlins squads. He was also a major contributor to 3 championship teams.

Bernard Springer, C:  7 AS, 2 SS
              Bernard Springer is possibly the greatest right-handed hitter in league history, prior to the arrival of Ted Simpson. The only knocks on him are low durability and mediocre defense, which have been his greatest obstacles to easy induction.  Until Mr. Simpson, no right handed batter could touch his production in Season 1-6. Then in Season 7-8, OPSing almost .900 while playing in Petco is just as impressive.  Even with his lackluster defense, Springer is still probably the 2nd best all-around catcher in league history, because his bat was that good.

Brandon Sutton, DH-1B:  4 AS, 4 SS, 1 WS Ring
              Primarily used as a DH in his career, he was actually a better fielder than the two 1B at the top of this list. But mediocre durability pushed him into his role at DH so his big bat could be in the lineup as much as possible. Brandon was the best hitter of a trio of Yankees (HOFers Cunningham and Guillen) that dominated the AL East for over a decade. The primary story of his individual career was of Sutton always being a bridesmaid and never a bride. He was a 7 time MVP candidate, which included 5 second place finishes. He is #5 all-time in runs created with great career averages. (.316 BA, .398 OBP, .930 OPS)