Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Where am I? How did I get here? Houston Lone Stars edition

Another franchise with with a new owner this season. This franchise has traditionally stayed out of the international market, but their drafts have yielded a number of big league contributors.
Top 10 Draft Picks:
10. Stephen Russ. S9, R1-#25. Had a productive Season 13. Had 27+ plays at 1B in Season 13 after 11- plays at SS the season before. Maybe he was best suited for somewhere in between.
9. Benito Beltran. S8, R1-#26. He has spent most of his career as a trusted setup man. Given the chance to close in Season 15, he recorded 28 saves.
8. Rob Borders. S2, R1-#40. He was a solid major league starter for three seasons (S8 to S10).
7. Nash Garcia. S7, R1-#22. He currently has a streak of 7 consecutive seasons with 30+ home runs.
6. Josh Jacome. S7, R1-#36. 1 All-star appearance. He's been a steady reliever his entire career.
5. Gus McDonald. S1, R1-#15. 1 Gold Glove. He had offensive production while playing a solid CF in S11.
4. Stevie Huff. S10, R1-#9. He has 7 seasons with over 200 innings pitched. In Season 16, he had an excellent ERA of 3.18.
3. Alex Wang. S5, R1-#14. 1 All-star appearance, 1 Fireman Award. Fabulous career WHIP of 1.05 for this reliever. He also has a sparkling 0.88 WHIP in 31.2 IP in the postseason.
2. Freddie Hunter. S4, R1-#14. 2 All-star appearances, 1 Silver Slugger, 2 Gold Gloves, 2 World Series rings. His nearly identical production in Seasons 16 and 18 are probably his best. He ha played 7 positions in his career, waiting to get behind the plate and on the mound.
1. Walter Evans. S3, R1-#20. He was a starter that could just barely get into the sixth inning, but he managed double digit win totals in 3 seasons thanks to sub 1.30 WHIPs, including 1.07 in S11.
Top 5 International Signings:
5. Benny Duran. S6-$4.9M. Who wouldn't be thrilled to get 73 at bats in the Majors?
4. Juan Sanchez. S17-$13.0M. A good rookie season in S18. His lack of power is a concern as a 1B.
3. Humberto Gomez. S14-$5.7M. Nice rookie season in Texas in S18. He hasn't translated too well to Augusta.
2. Julio Cora. S4-$11.8M. 4 time All-star. 51 saves in Season 16 is the single season record for Feller. He has 3 other seasons with 40+ saves.
1. Deivi Bennett. S2-$7.4M. 1 time All-star. In part time duty, he batted .309, .334, and .311 in his last 3 seasons. His 531 career stolen bases rank 7th in Feller history.

Next up: Charleston Soggy Dogs

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Where am I? How did I get here? Louisville Sluggerz edition

Moving to the American League South...Louisville captured the AL South title for 4 straight seasons in S9 through S12.
Top 10 Draft Picks:
10. Buster Long. S13, R1-#31. He flashed the type of ability he had with a no-hitter in Season 18. At 24, there's time for him to establish a pattern of success (or that one day will be the day the planets aligned for him).
9. Carson Shelby. S8, R1-#21. Posted 16 wins in Season 15. Since then, he has shuffled between the rotation and the bullpen.
8. Rex Brantley. S4, R1-#5. 1 Silver Slugger. Season 14 was the best year for Rex with .288/.331/.506.
7. Billy Diaz. S5, R2-#53. Season 14 was his career highlight with .875 OPS.
6. Will Benard. S1, R1-#23. In an otherwise very average career, Season 12 stands out.
5. Seth Sheehan. S7, R1-#11. 3 time All-star, 1 Fireman Award, 2 World Series rings. His 86.8% success rate in converting save opportunities ranks 8th for pitchers with at least 200 saves.
4. Nate Ratliff. S6, R1-#10. 1 time All-star. Career .300 hitter with .375 OBP.
3. Torey Thomson. S2, R1-#25. Seasons 8 & 9 made it appear Torey was headed for stardom. He had a decent career, but never approached his early success.
2. Russell Hutch. S4, R1-#19. S9 Rookie of the Year. 1300 career hits, 350 home runs. His career totals are impressive, but he has never played 150 games in a season. In S15, he slugged 52 homers in 120 games played.
1. Frank Rogers. S5, R1-#2. 2 All-star appearances, 3 Silver Sluggers, 3 Gold Gloves, 1 World Series ring. Rogers can do it all. Hit? Lifetime .285 average. Hit for power? 300 career homers with two seasons of at least 40. Field? Those 3 Gold Gloves are the answer.
Top 10 International Signings:
10. Hideo Tamura. S6-$2.9M. Career back up managed to play parts of 8 seasons.
9. Arlie Hermansen. S8-$8.0M. First basemen without power need to have a higher batting average than .284.
8. Harry Aguilera. S9-$261K. His S19 salary is almost 5 times his signing bonus. Not bad.
7. Pedro Telemaco. S10-$12.9M. Seasons 15 & 18 were his offensive peaks, still waiting for his defensive peak at SS.
6. Omar Seguignol. S6-$6.2M. Provided some nice bullpen work for a few seasons.
5. Orlando Padilla. S7-$10.3M. Season 14 was his best showing in the big leagues.
4. Valerio Martin. S4-$5.0M. Solid career ad a backup catcher.
3. Vic Park. S4-$15.0M. 1 All-star appearance. Tremendous in his All-star Season 10 with 44 homers and a .933 OPS. Followed S10 with 2 more strong seasons.
2. Roberto Valdez. S5-$16.3M. He did his job in Season 15 throwing 200+ innings with 3.51 ERA.
1. Donald Yang. S7-$9.1M. 1 All-star appearance, 1 Gold Glove. Batted over .300 in his superb S15 that included 15+ plays in CF. For his career, he's 66/2 +/- in center.

Next up: Houston Lone Stars

Friday, February 3, 2012

Where am I? How did I get here? Tacoma Explorers edition

Okay, back to the Northwest. Right now the AL North is two Ohio teams, and two Washington teams. A new owner in Tacoma has no part in any of the acquisition of these players. Hopefully, their additions will fill this list in a few seasons.
Top 10 Draft Picks:
10. Patrick Gwynn. S9, R1-#7. Can we just mark down his 20 homers and 80 RBIs for the next few seasons?
9. Trent Wolf. S5, R1-#43. Hey, somebody has to be 9th.
8. Rudy Fassero. S7, R1-#13. Has played very good defense at 2B and 3B in his career.
7. Kiko Jackson. S7, R3-#86. 1 Gold Glove. Lifetime batting average around .270 as a catcher.
6. Zip Morris. Has had a number of stellar seasons out of the bullpen.
5. Julio Rijo. S6, R1-#5. Awesome in S14 with a 1.08 WHIP.
4. Paul Benjamin. S7, R2-#54. 1 time All-star. 7 seasons with over 40 homers. Has around 300 career home runs.
3. Alan Sowders. S2, R1-#18. A number of very nice seasons including S9, S12, S13, and S16.
2. Gabby Williamson. S5, R1-#7. 2 time All-star. Lifetime ERA under 3.00 as a very effective bullpen arm.
1. Olmedo Hernandez. S4, R1-#4. 4 time All-star, 4 Silver Sluggers. Tremendous career with lifetime batting average over .300 and OBP in the upper .380s.
Top 10 International Signings:
10. John Dong. S6-$4.1M. I think we'll just walk away from this.
9. Sammy Maranon. S8-$5.4M. Has been a fairly productive part time player in his career.
8. Enrique Ibarra. S12-$2.4M. He's trying to establish himself as a useful bullpen piece in the majors.
7. Carlos Cordero. S10-$13.2M. Another setup guy with limited success. Great.
6. Alejandro Romano. S8-$3.4M. Nice season in S15 with a 3.13 ERA.
5. Vladimir Benitez. S6-$5.1M. Put up some nice numbers in S17.
4. Benji Veras. S7-$3.9M. Has dine some nice work out of the bullpen in a few seasons.
3. Ivan Mieses. S2-$7.5M. 1 time All-star. Had back to back nice seasons in S6 and S7 with a .300 batting average.
2. Ivan Padilla. S6-$4.5M. Seasons 14 and 17 have been the bright spots thus far.
1. Pedro Alou. S8-$2.3M. In a platoon role, his S18 numbers provide a guide as to how to get the best production from this player.

Next up: Louisville Sluggerz

Where am I? How did I get here? Cleveland Cans of Corn edition

Since this is the author's team, let's just get to the results.
Top 10 Draft Picks:
10. Dee Norton. S3, R1-#25. 1 time All-star, 1 Gold Glove, 3 World Series rings.
9. Morris Schmidt. S2, R1-#39. Back to back seasons with over 20 saves in S14 & S15.
8. Denny Schlehuber. S8, R1-#44. 1 time All-star, 1 World Series ring. Lifetime WHIP around 1.31.
7. Sal Allen. S2, R2-#53. 1 time All-star, 1 World Series ring. Lifetime WHIP around 1.30.
6. Paulie Mayne. S1, R1-#2. 1 time All-star, 2 World Series rings. His best season came in S11 with 230 IP and a 3.71 ERA.
5. Chris Hanson. S1, R2-#52. In S13, he pitched 195 innings with a 3.82 ERA.
4. Kennie Myers. S9, R1-#29. 2 time All-star, 1 World Series ring. For his career, the 28 year old has a WHIP around 1.20 and an ERA around 3.40.
3. Nick Jackson. S5, R1-#27. Over 400 career homers and 1000 RBIs.
2. Alvin Kohlmeier. S7, R1-#28. 1 time All-star, 1 World Series ring. 17-8 with a 3.30 ERA in S14.
1. Cecil Lieber. S2, R1-#6. 1 time All-star, 1 World Series ring. Went 16-5 in S14 with 2.47 ERA.
Top 10 International Signings:
10. Willie Veras. S13-$15.6M. 1 season in the majors.
9. Joakim Sanchez. S14-$12.1M. 1 time All-star. 2 seasons in the majors.
8. Roberto Beltre. S10-$19.3M. S14 Rookie of the Year, 2 time All-star, 2 Silver Sluggers, 1 World Series ring.
7. Carlos Trinidad. S8-$13.9M. 2 time All-star, 3 Gold Gloves, 1 World Series ring.
6. David Julio. S7-$6.8M. Lifetime WHIP near 1.30.
5. Damaso Fernandez. S6-$10.8M. 1 time All-star, 2 World Series rings. 18 game winner in S13.
4. Placido Lee. S4-$12.8M. 5 time All-star, 1 Silver Slugger, 1 Gold Glove, 3 World Series rings. Over 440 career homers.
3. Santos Mercedes. S5-$9.8M. 4 time All-star, 4 Silver Sluggers, 1 Gold Glove, 2 World Series rings. Lifetime batting average around .280 with .371 OBP.
2. Jackson Christians. S3-$13.8M. 1 time All-star, 2 World Series rings. S9 went 18-3 with 1.12 WHIP and 2.93 ERA. His S13 postseason performance was incredible.
1. Ramiro Otanez. S1-$8.6M. 3 time All-star, 4 World Series rings. Currently has most wins in Feller history with a chance to become the first to reach 300. Currently has most playoff wins in Feller history. 14 seasons with over 200 IP. His postseason performances in S6 and S13 rank among the best.

Next up: Tacoma Explorers

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Where am I? How did I get here? Seattle Suckerfish edition

Next up in this series is a look back at the Seattle Suckerfish. Current ownership is in their fifth season right now, so all of these players were acquired under previous regimes. Hopefully mccleak's players will start to make moves on this list in the next few seasons.
Top 10 Draft Picks:
10. Alving Gonzalez. S6, R3-#73. A Gold Glove in Season 13 is the highlight of his career.
9. Shawn Osbourne. S9, R1-#49. 11-9 in Season 16 with a 3.53 ERA.
8. Juan De La Vega. S1, R1-#4. 7 seasons of over 190 innings pitched.
7. Ted Jacome. S7, R2-#43. Had a nice season as a reliever in S15 after a useful S13 as a starter.
6. Randy Parker. S10, R1-#7. 2 All-star appearances for this reliever.
5. Keith Myers. S4, R1-#21. Solid career for this 2B with some offensive punch in Season 10.
4. Butch Gibson. S8, R1-#2. Seasons 15 & 17 stand out with 1.20 WHIP and ERAs of around 3.00 with 200 IP.
3. Clay Young. S9, R1-#1. All-star seasons in S13 & S17.
2. Yamid Perez. S11, R1-#7. Currently only 26 years old, Perez already has 5 seasons with 200+ innings pitched. As he enters his prime surrounded by improving teammates, expect his numbers to look stronger.
1. Gerald Suzuki. S6, R1-#1. 5 All-star appearances, 4 Silver Sluggers, and a World Series ring for the former overall #1 pick. A lifetime OPS over .800 for the mostly 3B to go along with close to 2000 career hits.
Top 5 International Signings:
5. Gio Tabaka. S14-$18.0M. Now 25 years old, hopefully his offensive numbers continue to ramp up.
4. Geraldo Batista. S9-$2.3M. Hey, he played a few years in the majors.
3. Brian Cheung. S10-$4.6M. He slugged 48 HRs in Season 17.
2. Michel Moreno. S13-$19.8M. Another player with limited big league experience. Hoping to build on his good Season 18.
1. Max Arias. S13-$16.4M. Following the theme, Arias is only 24 years old and has put up solid numbers thus far.

Next up: Cleveland Cans of Corn

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Where am I? How did I get here? Columbus Clippers edition

Hopefully, this will be the first in a series looking back at each franchise's drafts and international free agent signings. A few notes about this series. It's not meant to judge if a team used their draft picks or prospect money wisely. We have no way o knowing which players any team did, or did not, see. The ratings are based on ML production. It's not based on projection. So even though you have Bryce Harper in your minors, he'll have to produce in the majors to make this list. Your recent 20 million dollar international signing isn't on this list. Yu will have to look elsewhere.
First up, the Columbus Clippers.
Top 10 draft picks:
10. Todd Torrealba. Drafted S2, R1-#42. He put up nice offensive numbers in his brief big league career. Probably lacked the defense to stick as a full time catcher.
9. Alex Price. Drafted S4, R3-#109. Posted 11 wins as a reliever in season 13. His best seasons were seasons 14 & 16.
8. Andrea McClellan. S8, R1-#27. Had a nice season in Honolulu in season 18. At 29, he has a chance to move up this list.
7. Donovan Watson. S6, R2-#68. Had a tremendous season in Season 14 with a 2.99 ERA.
6. Red Rivera. S7, R1-#27. Has had a very nice career in Columbus as a key setup pitcher.
5. Jose Andujar. S2, R1-#21. All-star in Season 7. He played 162 games in 7 seasons.
4. Douglas Collins. S4, R2-#77. Over 200 career home runs. Made an All-star team in Season 18.
3. Clay Jacquez. S1, R1-#16. Highest draft pick Columbus has ever had. Has 391 career homers. In Season 12, he batted .342 with .986 OPS.
2. Jesse Penny. S1, R2-#66. Rookie of the Year in Season 7 with a 1.21 WHIP and 3.32 ERA.
1. Bryant Sedlacek. S4, R1-#28. 3 World Series rings, 2 time All-star, Cy Young Award winner. He's been a key starting pitcher for Columbus his entire career.
Top 10 International Free Agent Signings
10. Al Machado. S10-$1.9M. Lifetime WHIP of 1.20 in 266 innings.
9. Shigetoshi Chong. S2-$2.3M. He won a Gold Glove in Season 12.
8. Fernando Santana. S3-$9.0M. Won two World Series rings with Columbus.
7. Jose Romero. S4-$8.6M. I can't find anything interesting about this guy. Let's move on.
6. Tony Tanaka. S1-$12.5M. All-star in Season 8, although I think Season 9 was his best year.
5. Giomar Castro. S11-$10.3M. At only age 26, he already has an All-star appearance. He might not be able to move up this list, since we're now about to get to the superstar portion.
4. Jose Rios. S9-$21.0M. 6 time All-star, 4 Silver Sluggers, 3 World Series rings, and 1 MVP by the age of 28!! He already has over 400 homers, a career OPS over 1.000, and the second most career post season HRs and RBIs. His Season 14 performance is superhuman.
3. Magglio Trajano. S5-$15.6M. 7 time All-star, 5 Silver Sluggers, 3 World Series rings, all while playing most of his career in centerfield.
2. Matty Nunez. S4-$7.7M. 3 time All-star, 6 Silver Sluggers, 3 World Series rings, and 1 MVP make his closet pretty crowded. His career OBP of .425 is remarkable, and with that he currently has close to 400 homers.
1. Juan Aramboles. S7-$15.7M. 6 time All-star, 4 Cy Young Awards, and 3 World Series rings. We can pick a random number between 10 and 18, and this guy had a fantastic season in that year.

Next up: Seattle Suckerfish

That What Ifs of WhatIfSports

One of the great things about WIS is the personal experience it creates with each owner. It doesn't take long for owners and coaches to develop individual mythologies. We remember our favorite players and triumphs with nerdy nostalgia, and our mistakes and losses with wistful regret. The difference with WIS is these incidents aren't shared with a broader fan base the way they are in real sports.

Mostly, my HD experience leans toward the wistful regret. I made so many mistakes early on simply because I didn't understand the game. That's part of the fun, I guess, and it makes success sweeter, but I still think back and cringe sometimes.

The incident I wanted to write about today wasn't exactly disastrous, but it certainly made me cringe when it happened, and I still wonder what could've been.

Here's what happened: I had the 5th pick in the Season 9 amateur draft. It was easily the highest pick I'd had to that point, and since I was in the throes of rebuilding, I knew I needed to make it count. I had a decent collection of quality prospects, but I didn't have a star, and with high scouting budgets, I felt I had a good shot at getting one.

Season 9 was a quality draft at the top. As I saw it, there were four prospects on the list I would've been happy with, and I thought I stood a good shot at getting one of them. (Clay Young, who went 1st overall, was fine, but I already had a shortstop.) I set about putting my list in order.

I knew I needed an ace, and they're hard to come by outside of the draft unless you're willing to pay out the ass, so I ranked Vic Spehr first even if his durability and health bothered me. Howie Vosberg was second, since that's a pretty great bat to have at 2B or CF.

After that, it was between Felix Crosby (who was rated as a DH, but had enough pitch-calling ability to work behind the plate) and Footsie Sanders. As I said, I needed a pitcher, and I'd grabbed a pretty decent catching prospect a few seasons before. Still, Crosby's hitting ability was unbelievable. He had the potential to be the best-hitting catcher in Feller history, better even than Rock Moore. I had some decent hitters, but no one near as good as Crosby. In the end, I ranked him third, and Footsie fourth.

So the day of the draft comes, and I see the picks I made, and I'm moderately satisfied at getting Sanders with the 5th pick. I knew Vosberg and Spehr would likely go early, but at least I had a guy who could be an ace.

Then I looked at the draft as a whole and I saw Felix Crosby was picked sixth by Charlotte, one pick after mine. I'd missed a once-in-a-lifetime hitter in favor of a very good starter. My heart sank. At first, I wondered if I'd somehow screwed up the order, but then I realized what happened.

Since I was in the National League, I'd set my DH picks at 0, and since Felix Crosby was listed as a DH, I passed over him to the next pick. On the plus side, as an ardent fan of the Portland Trail Blazers, I'm used to coping with franchise-shattering draft mistakes.

I trade chatted Charlotte owner joemac55, "You didn't want Footsie Sanders over Felix Crosby, did you? I accidentally picked the wrong guy."

"No," he replied.

Fortunately for me, Footsie Sanders won the NL ROY and the Cy Young in Season 13, the first player in Feller history to do so. He's been an ace pitcher in four World Series, a four-time All-Star, has the the single-season record for strikeouts, and might one day be the all-time strikeout leader if his career lasts long enough.

Fortunately for joemac55, Felix Crosby won the AL ROY and the MVP in Season 13. He has four All-Star appearances, five Silver Slugger awards, and a career OPS of 1.022.

Ten seasons after they were drafted, it's difficult to say whether my screw-up turned out for the better or not. On one hand, Footsie Sanders is on track for a Hall of Fame career, and I doubt I would've won two championships without him. On the other, a freaking 1.022 career OPS.

I think it worked out well for joemac55, because his staff is just fine. I'm still open to a trade, though, joe.

Most Expensive International Free Agents

I'm not sure how it is in other worlds, but the international free agent market in Feller seems competitive. High quality IFAs rarely sign for anything under $15m, and regularly go over $20m.

Part of this is due to budgeting and lack of carryover. If you don't use your prospect budget, it's lost, so owners often hold out hope a future all-star will pop up late in the season and there's usually a scramble at the very end to grab whatever's left. Compared to the amateur draft, international free agency is a gamble, but the rewards can be worth the risk.

It's also essentially the only method outside of trading for successful teams to grab high-level prospects. Glancing over the past 10 seasons of signings, you'll see a lot of the best organizations highly active on the IFA market, from long-standing dynasties (Cleveland, Columbus, Washington DC) to the teams on the rise (Seattle, Toledo and San Francisco).

The following is a list of the five most expensive IFAs in Feller history, and my prediction as to whether they'll be worth the cost. Of course, "worth the cost" is a relative statement, since market demands and talent levels per class vary. In an ideal world, though, $20m should net an All-Star.

1. Carlos Rosa (3B) - $25.2m by Toledo Muddy Webfoots in Season 14

Will he be worth it? Yes. He's 25 now, and has three seasons in the bigs with a .879 career OPS. His makeup, endurance, and health indicate he'll have a long career. He's a great fielder at 3B, blazing fast, and a very good hitter. Awards haven't happened yet (outside of the two times he's hit for cycle), but they will. He should have a number of All-Star appearances in his future.

2. Luis Almonte (CF) - $24.5 by Seattle Suckerfish in Season 17

Will he be worth it? Maybe. Only 20 years old, but he's an ideal leadoff hitter in CF. He lacks power, but he's got great speed and and a terrific batting eye. With a 64 Makeup rating, reaching his full potential will be a concern. He may not be an MVP, but he'll be a very good roleplayer for a young, dangerous Seattle squad.

3. Orber Martin (SP) - $23.2m by Charlotte Sturgeon in Season 13

Will he be worth it? Maybe. Martin has the potential to be a very good ML starter, a 4th or 5th option on Charlotte's incredible staff. So far, he's been mediocre, with a 4.45 ERA and 1.43 WHIP. His main concern is control; he'll be lucky to top out over 70 in that rating.

4. Eduardo De La Rosa (3B/2B) - $22.9 by Portland Timbers in Season 11

Will he be worth it? Probably not. While a great defensive asset at 3B, a career OPS of .737 over his first five seasons isn't great. Since I signed him, I know this was one of those desperate end-of-the-season grabs, though the field that season wasn't much better. Except for MVP candidate Geraldo Marichal, I mean, who signed for $5.2m that year. The money clearly could've been better spent.

5. Naoto Suzuki (C) - $22.4 by Baltimore Blast (now Syracuse Excuse) in Season 13

Will he be worth it? Probably. His defense is serviceable enough to get by behind the plate, and his 72 Durability means he'll need a decent backup, but his 88 Power and 95/93 splits are beast-like. On the day this post was written, Suzuki ripped off 4 home runs and 9 RBIs in one game. His career OPS in the bigs is .912. Maybe he won't play everyday, but he's got the kind of bat that changes a game. Season 13 featured a number of quality IFAs (from the aforementioned Orber Martin to Max Arias), but Suzuki could end up being the best, at least when he's on the field.