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Old 11-11-2018, 11:07 AM   #1
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Billings Sky

“Send em in Becky”

John Hale sighed as he sat down in his leather back chair for a meeting he really didn’t want to have but knew was needed. The 66-year-old owner of the Billings Sky had just finished watching hated rival Portland capture their first ever National Championship Series. Meanwhile, Hale’s club had suffered through six straight losing seasons with 2004 being their worst ever.

It was time to make a change.

General Manager Xavier Robinson and Manager Hugh Daly entered chatting away.

“Incredible really.” Daly was saying to Robinson. “Just a great blueprint for what we need to do here. Hate to see them get there first but it’s positive proof we can win.”

The two men sat down, ready to discuss the upcoming offseason per their usual tradition. After the final out of the NCS series, Hale’s top two generals would assemble in his office to begin discussions about the upcoming season. It had been that way for 7 years.

It was about to change.

“Exactly!” Robinson said. Turning to Hale he stated “Let’s talk arbitration first we got some tough decisions to make starting with David Harden. Now I thi-”

He cut off as Hale signaled him to stop.

“My apologies Xavier but there is something else I want to discuss first.” He sighed, “Fellas, I appreciate all the hard work you put in the past 7 seasons. I saw the blood, sweat and tears you poured into this franchise.”

Robinson shifted nervously in his seat, Daly’s face appeared to be taking on a strong shade of red.

“But I think the time has come for some changes. After seven years, it’s clear this strategy isn’t working and we need to move on.”

“What are you saying exactly, John?” Robinson asked, his voice much quieter than before. “Are you… firing us?

Hale sighed again.

“Yes, Xavier I am.”

Daly exploded out of his chair.


“I know you are upset Hugh but please si-”


“Hugh please, language”

“**** YOUR LANGUAGE!” This was what Hale had feared. Daly had always been a “firecracker” but had typically been on his best behavior in front of Hale. That appeared to have changed. “SANTA FE HAS EIGHT TIMES OUR PAYROLL! EIGHT TIMES! HELL LOUISVILLE HAS TWICE WHAT WE HAVE! YOU DON’T GIVE US ANYTHING TO OPERATE WITH THEN FIRE US? HORSE****!”

“Though I don’t necessarily agree with Hugh's presentation.” Robinson quickly added, “I do support the sentiment. It’s very frustrating to deal with the smallest budget in the NBL and then be punished for it.”

Hale’s tone grew stern.

“You guys knew the situation when you signed on. We just don’t have the same resources as everybody else. If I recall that excited both of you when I offered you these jobs.” Hale sighed again trying to reign in his own anger. “It’s clear though that the strategy we are using isn’t working. I’m not saying either of you is terrible at your jobs nor am I saying that my inability to fund a larger payroll isn’t the main cause of our struggles. I am saying that after seven years it’s clear the way this franchise is operating isn’t working. It seems obvious to me we all need a change in scenery.”

Daly pointed at Hale. “You are gonna regret this old man. When I’m winning titles elsewhere and whooping up on your cheap ass you are gonna remember how stupid you were.”

“Maybe I will Hugh but I highly doubt it”

With one final snarl, Hugh Daly stormed out of Hale’s office. No doubt on the warpath for revenge.

Robinson lingered.

“Well we always knew Hugh was a bit wild,” he said with a laugh.

Hale nodded in agreement. “I was hoping he would take it a bit better but alas….” He leaned forward. “Look, Xavier, I really respect you. I will do whatever it takes to help you land on your feet but I think you have to agree with me. It’s just not working and it’s time we all move on with our lives.

It was Robinson’s turn to sigh.

“I know John. It just stinks but I understand the decision.”

He rose slowly and offered a handshake that Hale gladly accepted.

“Best of luck to you old man. I hope that you guys can find success one day.”

“You too X. It was fun these past 7 years.”

Robinson nodded then made his way for the door but paused.

“Do you have any idea who you plan on hiring as our replacements? I get it if you won’t tell me but I can’t help but be curious.

John smiled. “I have an idea though I speculate it won’t make many people happy.”

“Well good luck to whomever. This ain’t an easy job John.”

“I know X. Best of luck to you.”

With that, Robinson left Hale’s office.

The Billings owner sat back down exhausted and stared off for a period of time lost in thought. Then he sat up and called out to his assistant.

“Becky, call Rip Bucknor. We have some things to discuss”.

Last edited by WeagleWeagle; 11-11-2018 at 11:15 AM.
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Old 11-11-2018, 11:26 AM   #2
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Rip Bucknor


The next morning, a long-haired not at all well-dressed man smelling a bit like booze sat in the same seat Xavier Robinson had occupied the night before.


“Language please Rip.”

Rip Bucknor was not the type of man you would typically want running a multi-million dollar operation. He was loud, rude and insubordinate. He drank WAY too much and listened too little. His temper was even worse than Hugh Daly’s and John wasn’t sure the man owned a suit or knew how to hold a conversation without making a crude remark

But he also possessed the best baseball mind of any person John knew.

“I forget your sensitivities to vulgarity pastor.” Rip said in his best “I’m totally behaving myself” voice. “Would you please state once again your request for my services as the first time I heard it I contracted the inability to think and the instant desire to jump through your window.”

Hale chuckled.

“I want you to become my next general manager”

Rip roared with laughter.

“That’s the best damn joke I’ve heard this year.”

John had met Rip long ago when Rip was an up and coming fireball pitcher out of Texas. At the time, the NBL was just an idea but nowhere close to a reality. Professional baseball was far less organized but clubs still existed all over the country and Hale was on a visit to see Rip throw. He was thinking of adding him to his club up in Montana.

But injury had stolen Rip’s career. A shoulder injury that just never seemed to heal right after a brutal car crash drove Rip out of baseball for years and into the bottle. He dropped out of college and Hale didn’t hear anything about him until 8 years ago when the NBL was in the early stages of being launched.

Hale was putting together his scouting team when he saw Rip’s resume come across his desk. By resume, it was literally just a letter where Rip boldly stated: “Hire me because I know a **** ton about baseball”. So Hale did and it had surprisingly worked out pretty well.

Rip had turned into one of his best scouts. Constantly on the hunt for talent, Rip was barely in the office but his work lead to signings such as Jesus Rodriguez, Ramon Bracamontes, and Lorenzo Alpizar. The man knew talent when he saw it and he understood baseball. He could talk about the specific irregularities of a pitcher’s wind up one minute then easily pivot to discussing national wide trends in the game at large. Hale loved sitting and chatting with the wild man about anything and everything.

It was clear Billings needed a visionary and someone who didn’t necessarily think as everyone else did. Someone who could make the most out of every single dollar Hale could afford to spend. He needed Rip Bucknor.

“It’s not a joke Rip. It’s clear that winning here won’t be done the conventional way. I just don’t have the money or resources to provide it.” Hale stated. “Instead, we need to think outside the box. We need someone who isn’t afraid to be a bit cutthroat when we need it. Someone who knows when to push the chips all in. Someone who doesn’t think as the rest of front offices do. We need you.”

Rip shook his head in astonishment.

“John, I am a 33-year-old college dropout who spends all of his time drinking and watching baseball players in Latin American countries. Ain’t no other GMs or frankly, manager gonna take me seriously. They will laugh me off the phone or out the room. It’s just not a smart move.”

“I’m not really looking to be smart. I’m looking to be bold”

That drew a laugh from Rip. John folded his arms.

“Let’s say you accepted. What would you do? How would you fix this team?"

Rip paused to consider the question.

“IF and this is not me saying yes but IF I were to be the guy, I’d start by selling anything worth selling. I’d probably start with the pitching staff and see if I could get some schmucks to take Kevin Borst and David Harden in exchange for some younger arms.”

“I thought you liked Borst?”

Rip waved away the comment. “I like him good enough. If I were looking for a #4 man in a playoff contending rotation you bet you're a--, sorry, your rump that I would slot him in but not a top of the rotation arm. He ain’t that.”

Hale nodded. “Ok, what else?”

“A heck of a lot more offense. I think we will see offensive #’s go down in a few seasons but bats are still king of the NBL right now. You ain’t got many on this roster. You know I love Lopez and Alpizar but ya’ll rushed them through. They ain’t ready yet plus they need help.”

Rip popped up out of his chair, obviously feeling a bit energized by the subject.

“I’d find a way to go get Aaron Ash from Portland. Strong left-handed bat, overlooked kid in their system. They got a lot of power on that team already and with a ring on his finger, Gabe’s gonna get greedy. Throw a half decent arm his way he will pounce.”

Rip snatched the commemorative baseball off Hale’s desk. It was from the first pitch he threw on Billings’ first-ever home game. Rip didn’t seem to notice Hale’s silent protest.

“Also I’ve heard rumblings that Columbus ain't super high on their recent 1st round pick Richard Turnipseed. Besides having a kickass name that dude is going to be electric. If they are dumb enough to sell him to us let’s take him.”

He tossed the ball absentmindedly in the air.

“I like Laskowski. Had some productive years in minors and although he’s probably a 4th OF bat, not a bad dude to have in the lineup though if someone is willing to ship us someone better. I will take em. But oh man do we need infield help. I’m not sure where exactly we will get it but I’ll find it. Probably pick some scraps off the heap and hope they can keep it together until reinforcements arrive. Don’t worry about the bullpen, you can sign a top reliever pretty easily.”

Snatching the ball out of the air, Rip turned quickly to Hale.

“Damn you old man. I see what you are doing. Getting me all hot and bothered thinking about what I could or couldn’t do with this team. I ain’t falling for it. It would be dumb to hire me and I won’t let ya do it.”

Much to Hale’s relief, he slammed the ball back down on the desk.

Hale took a deep breath

“I’ve known you for a while now Rip. I know you are far from a perfect human being and I know that at some point I’m going to have to apologize to the press on your behalf for some dumb thing you said or did.” Hale’s expression grew serious. “But this is not a joke. I want you to be the man. I will give you full control over the decision-making process and give you how ever long you think it will take. It won’t be easy, chances are pretty good this will fail spectacularly but it’s worth a shot. Don’t ya think? A chance for ya to put into action all those things you’ve talked about over the years.”

Rubbing his eyes, Rip sat down and leaned back in the chair. He stared up at the ceiling for what seemed like forever.

“What the hell!” He finally shouted, causing Hale to jump in his seat. “If you are dumb enough to offer me this gig then I’m dumb enough to accept! Just know that if we do this, we do it my way. No looking over my shoulder. No subtle suggestions or critiques. When I say trade that guy, trade em. When I say sign that guy, sign em. When I come to you and explain how this small terrier is going to win the NCS for us or how switching from Pepsi products is the only way to win, you tell me the dog’s cute and Coke will be in stock tomorrow, capiche?”

Hale considered then stood up and offered his hand.


Rip roared with laughter.

“Holy **** you are serious?! Well, let’s burn this place down together old man.”

The two shook hands and Rip hurried out of office ready to put his master plan into motion. The Sky owner sat back down and turned toward the window. Things were about to get a lot weirder and unpredictable but he couldn’t help but smile because he had a feeling things were about to get a lot more fun too.
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Old 11-11-2018, 11:38 AM   #3
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Hey there!

Longtime lurker, often failed dynasty writer back for another attempt! A few weeks ago I fired up a fictional league and have already fallen in love. I slowly simmed through the first 7 seasons but when I saw this GM position open up I decided to jump in and try to fix this poor Billings franchise myself

I wanted this report to be more than just a stat dump. I figured maybe making it a little more narrative might make me more likely to stick to it and more fun to read. We'll see how it goes.

As for the league itself, no awesome in depth backstory or creative history. It's just a random fictional league that exists. There are no other leagues in this world just the simply named National Baseball League

I plan to slowly reveal the league and all the major names to know in coming reports but a basic breakdown is that the NBL is a 16 team league split into two leagues: Eastern & Western.

Western League
Billings Sky
Las Vegas Gamblers
Oklahoma City Drillers
Omaha Storm
Portland Pioneers
San Antonio Silver Stars
San Jose Sea Dogs
Santa Fe Bandits

Eastern League
Charlotte Devils
Chattanooga Choo Choos
Columbus Giants
Indianapolis Racers
Jacksonville Sharks
Louisville Redbirds
New Orleans Weird
Rochester Flames

I did my best to put teams in cities that don't have a real life MLB team just to kind of mix things up a bit. Each team has 3 minor league affiliates as well (AAA, AA, A). No DH in this league

Also shout out to the incredible mod community here at OOTP. All the logos and jerseys you will see were stolen from their hardwork. I stupidly didn't record where I got em so can't give proper credit but if you see your stuff in here just wanted to say THANKS!!!

Here's the basic league history & league leaders. As you can see, it's been offensive heavy early but hoping to get that to even out some in coming seasons
Attached Images
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Old 11-11-2018, 12:19 PM   #4
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Meet the Team: Billings Sky

Owner: John Hale (1998 - present)
Overall Record: 428-622 (.408)
General Managers: Xavier Robinson (1998-2004)
Managers: Hugh Daly (1998-2004)
Ballpark: Big Sky Ballpark
Playoffs: N/A
Championships: N/A


Billings is the smallest market team in the NBL by A LOT. For example, in the 2004 season, the Portland Pioneers won the NCS despite having the 10th largest payroll which came in at $38,360,000. Santa Fe ranked #1 in the NBL with an $86,108,000 payroll. Billings? $11,474,000!!!

The 15th highest payroll is Louisville and it's more than twice Billings' #'s. That makes life tough up north. The Sky have a ton of turnover, always trying to flip top guys before their arbitration is up and for top prospects but it's lead to little success. Billings has had exactly one winning season in 7 years of existence with that 1 year being their inaugural 1998 campaign.

Best Hitter

Chances are good that if you spend anytime in Big Sky Country you will very quickly see a #43 jersey somewhere in your travels. Shane Ritter's career was not very long as the NBL launched when he was in his mid thirties but he made a major impact in his short time. His first 2 seasons for the Sky were incredible. He slashed .334/.443/.613 in 1998 with 40 HRs & 121 RBIs. That helped lead to a Billings single-season record WAR of 7.6. The next year his power #'s dropped a bit but he lead the EL in OBP at .472. Those two seasons lead to All-Star nods and cemented himself as one of Billings' early heroes.

However, that 1999 season ended painfully as the big fella broke his kneecap in late August. He would miss 4 months then another 9 after setbacks in his recovery. That basically stole his whole 2000 campaign. Injuries would ravage him from then on as he attempted to bounce back in 2001 with a decent season that saw him slug 34 HRs and win his only Gold Glove.

But that would be his last year in a Billings uniform. Between his age, upcoming salary demands and Billings lack of funds, then GM Xavier Robinson elected to move the big fella before the 2002 season. He was traded to Chattanooga with a prospect in exchange for a trio of prospects who have done nothing for the Sky since. Ritter had a solid 2002 campaign for the Choo Choos but would hit the free agency market. He signed with Indianapolis but a day after signing a 2 year $12.6 million deal the former Sky slugger had a change of heart. Ritter decided that he just couldn't handle the 150 game grind and so elected to retire which lead to some obvious outrage from the Racer front office.

The only player to have come close to Ritter's production in a Billings uniform is Jesus Rodriguez. However, Rodriguez was flipped this past July to the New Orleans Werid for some minor prospects so Ritter still stands as the career WAR leader for the Sky.

Best Pitcher

When informed he was Billings career leader in pitching WAR, Tim Chastain responded, "That's kinda sad...". He's not wrong.

Chastain has been with Billings for all 7 years of it's existence and has been a decent arm in the rotation. But someone with a career ERA of 5.27 leading your franchise history in WAR for pitchers ain't a good thing. Chastain's best season was probably in 1999 when he went 8-15 but posted an FIP of 4.63 and had 2.9 rWAR year. Since then it's been all kind of mediocre, including leading the EL in walks surrendered the past 3 seasons

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Old 11-11-2018, 12:22 PM   #5
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Wow that was some opening! Got my attention. Can't wait for the next post.
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Old 11-11-2018, 08:57 PM   #6
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Rip’s Notes - 10/6/2004

This roster is really bad…. There are two pieces to build around in 21-year-old Lorenzo Alpizar and 21-year-old Dan "Heartthrob" Lopez. Both were rushed through the system WAY too quickly but they are the best hopes at being stars for this squad. Lopez was the #1 OVR pick in 2001 while Alpizar was an IFA signee in 1999. I still remember the first time I heard Alpizar make contact at some training camp in the Dominican Republic. Dude has a chance to be special if we don't screw him up first... Both are lefties so that's something to consider as well.

After that there’s really nothing else to get excited about except for closer Ramon Bracamontes. The former #3 OVR pick is going to be one of the best closers in baseball. He sits between 97 & 99 with a nasty slider to complement his fastball. He saw NBL action soon after he was drafted & over 5 years has compiled a miserable 8-23 record but has posted 85 saves, 3.24 ERA, 3.26 FIP, 9.3 K/9 which is good for a total WAR of 6.4. He has two more years of arbitration. More than likely he’s going to be trade bait because you don’t really need a lights out closer if you suck at winning baseball games.

The top two arms in the starting rotation are Kevin Borst & David Harden. Harden might be a bit more difficult to move. He's got a solid 3 pitch repertoire featuring a nasty fastball, curveball, and a perfect changeup. Problem is he has to rely on his velocity as there's very little movement to anything he throws. He was an All-Star in 2002 but last few seasons his numbers have started to decline. Teams have taken notice and I'm not sure how much we can actually get for him.

Borst, on the other hand, should be easier to move. He's coming off a fantastic 2003 campaign where he threw a career-high 160.2 innings, put up a 3.47 ERA and fell just shy of a 4 WAR year. At 23 years old, he's a guy contending teams would love to add to the back of their rotation. I suspect we can get some nibbles. I like the dude but I like what he can probably get me more than his actual skill.

The truth is there are so many holes & very few people to fill them that’s it’s hard to really formulate a plan so I think what I’m gonna do is work backward. Who is it that I want to acquire and what will it take to get them? That’s easy, I already told the old man two names I wanna go get. Richard Turnipseed and Aaron Ash. Probably also need to go find a right-handed bat of the future to stick in the middle of this lineup, preferably an infielder.

Now let’s see if despite not yet having an assistant GM anyone knows or a manager that people trust if other front offices are willing to work with me….
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Old 11-11-2018, 10:31 PM   #7
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I'm on board, Weagle, looking good!
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Old 11-13-2018, 10:41 AM   #8
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Making Moves

Two days after being hired as Billings new general manager, Rip Bucknor walked into the Sky Center ready to make some mother ****ing deals.

Hale had cautioned Rip to maybe take it slow early as they filled out the rest of the staff. Rip still needed to hire a manager and bring in an assistant GM.

“Maybe wait until we have some more seasoned folks on staff before making any major personnel moves.” Hale had suggested. “That way it’s hopefully easier to make early introductions. A lot of these GMs won’t know you and might be more open to deal making after hearing a familiar voice on the other line.”

**** caution.

Nothing about Rip’s life could be described as cautious. That’s why he had made it where he was today. Sure, a little more forethought might have prevented an abrupt ending to his baseball career but that same spirit is what drove him to send the shortest resume ever to Hale in the first place and land his first job as a scout. It’s what had led him to agree to the insane idea to become the general manager of a multi-million dollar baseball franchise.

No Rip had no intention of stepping softly.

As he approached his office, he was greeted by Margaret Lightfoot. The almost 60-year-old woman had been tabbed as his secretary assistant. She had long worked for Hale, first as his own personal assistant back at his company Hale Enterprises and then as office manager here for the Sky. Rip suspected that it wasn’t a coincidence Hale had placed her under Rip’s charge (or really the other way around). She was the ultimate rule enforcer and a big believer that people are supposed to act a certain way in a professional setting. She had spent most of yesterday scolding Rip’s fashion choices, his language, his posture and pretty much everything he did or said.

Rip loved her immediately.

“What’s going on M-Baby?” Rip warmly greeted her.

“Don’t ever call me that again.” She answered sternly. The now glaring assistant handed him his itinerary for the day. “Now Mr. Bucknor you have quite a full day. First you-”

He cut her off.

“Sorry, L-Train but go ahead and cancel everything you have listed this morning and get me the Columbus office on the phone.”

“Mr. Hale specifically stated that you should take some time to get to know the organization and community before making any rash moves.” Mrs. Lightfoot scolded. “These morning meetings are opportunities to meet with key stakeholders in the franchise along with some important people in the Billings community. I highly suggest following Mr. Hale’s instructions.”

Rip smiled.

“I think the old man has some wonderful advice. I have taken note of it and thought all night about it. Like a monk, I meditated on his words, focusing on each one and chasing its existence in my mind.” He pointed at Mrs. Lightfoot. “Do you wanna know what great discovery I came too after said musings?”

“I don’t think I want to know.”

“I decided to completely ignore all his advice and do it the Rip way!” He shouted. “Now please my motherly matron, would you make a call to the Columbus office? It’s time to make some mother ****ing deals!”

“Language Mr. Bucknor.”

“My bad M-Bop!” He shouted over his shoulder as he entered his office.

The previous gentleman to man Rip’s post had apparently put a lot of thought into how an office should be laid out. You could tell the man was very respectful of the space and had a particular place for everything. There were bookshelves that Rip was sure were once lined with important works of literature to help guide the man’s decision making. The desk itself was antique with ornate carvings and had the feel of something old and sturdy. The chair might have been the nicest chair Rip had ever seen in his life. It was clear a lot of money had gone into this space and that the man people around the Center fondly called “X” had made sure to craft a very specific type of setting meant to evoke certain feelings from visitors.

Too bad he didn’t put the same thought into his ****ty baseball deals.

Rip sat down on top of the desk waiting for the call to be patched through.

“Jim Dimich is on line one Mr. Bucknor.”

****. I’m not really sure how this whole make a trade thing actually works.

Oh well…

Rip picked up the phone, “Jimmy boy! How’s it going?”


Jim Dimich was the only general manager the Columbus Giants had known. The 47-year-old out of Metairie, LA had been in charge of the Giants' front office since day 1. He also sadly did not possess a Cajun accent as Rip had hoped. The best Columbus had finished in their 7-year history was 5th which came during their first year of existence in 1998. Since then, the Giants had either finished last or 2nd to last every season. Rip was honestly astonished the man still had a job.

“My name’s Rip Bucknor, Mr. Dimich sir and I am the new GM of Billings.”

“Yes, I have seen the news. It’s pleasure meeting you Rip. What may I do for you?”

God this man was boring Rip already. Time to see if he was as dumb as Rip always believed him to be.

“I’ll get straight to the point Mr. Dimich sir as I know you are a busy man. My understanding is that your Giants club is looking to make a serious run at the EL title this year?”

I’m sure they thought they were but they had no chance. Still, let this dumbass believe he had a title contending team.

“But I also know you got some concerns about that rotation. 5th in the EL last year right? Well, I got just the fix for your ailment and it’s called 2 tablespoons of Kevin Borst.”

Rip had promised the old man two names when he had “interviewed” for the job. He intended on fulfilling those promises immediately.

Borst was a 6’6” 215 lb fireball pitcher out of Balch Springs, TX. San Jose had drafted him back in 1999 in the 5th round but the two sides had not been able to see eye to eye on compensation. Borst decided to take his chances again next season and went to junior college at Dallas Baptist. The following year he had been selected with the 21st overall pick by the Sky and after some more haggling had finally agreed to join the ball club.

He had a rough debut season in 2000 at Billings' Single-A affiliate Bismark. He threw 68.1 innings but posted an abysmal 5.83 ERA while walking almost 5 batters every 9 innings. Still, the upside was clearly there and he debuted at #60 on the NBL’s top prospect list in 2001. He had a much stronger sophomore campaign, throwing 133.2 innings in 2001 and putting up a 4.39 FIP. Walks were still high and K’s were still low but you could see the potential.

From there, he began his climb up the minors. He finished 2001 in Cheyenne (AA) and started there the next season. Halfway through 2002, he headed west to Boise (AAA) where he had a solid debut going 7-5 with a 3.47 ERA. When the roster expanded in August, he got his first NBL action and performed admirably. He only threw 14 innings but put up a 2.80 FIP. He started 2003 back in Boise but quickly got the call-up and his rookie campaign was solid in 2003. Borst went 7-7 with a 4.39 ERA while seeing his BB/9 drop to 3.1 and his K/9 rise to 5.2. Last year was even better. A 3.2 WAR campaign that included a career-high K/9 number (5.6), 160.2 IP and a respectable 3.83 FIP. All that potential was beginning to take hold.

But while Rip liked Borst he didn’t love him. He still walked too many people and struck out too few. His minor league #’s had just been ok and while his early debut in the NBL had been strong, Rip wasn’t completely confident it would stay the way. So he was going to strike while the iron was hot.

“That’s an interesting opening Rip.” Dimich answered. “We obviously would be very interested in Kevin Borst but I shudder to think what the asking price would be.”

“Good thing for you is that I am a reasonable man Mr. Dimich sir.” Rip responded. “All I would ask in return is for young Mr. Turnipseed sir.”


Richard Turnipseed was the #4 overall pick in last year’s NBL amateur draft. The 6’1” 195 lb North Carolina native was not the imposing figure on the mound that Borst was but instead relied on a strong 4 pitch arsenal. He had only spent one game in Single-A before being sent to Akron (Columbus’s AA affiliate) where he had been outstanding in his professional debut. Turnipseed had gone 9-3 with a 3.84 ERA. His walks & K numbers weren’t great but he kept the ball in the ballpark (0.5 HR/9). In Rip’s opinion, he had ace potential.

“You simply want my 1st round pick from last season huh?”

“I simply want an unproven arm to stow away as my club rebuilds while giving you a proven weapon to trot out there on your EL contending NBL club my good man.”

Dimich was still chuckling but Rip suspected he was considering the move. Being a scout and working all over the world hunting for prospects meant that Rip got a chance to bump into all sorts of different people, including fellow scouts. He knew after one late evening in a cantina outside of Mexico City with one of Columbus’s top scouts that Turnipseed had been a controversial pick in the Columbus front office. Head scout David Miller had been all for it and pushed it through. Dimich apparently didn’t believe the 21-year-old was a bonafide ace and was concerned using a pick that high on such a prospect. Rip was going to give the man a chance to rid himself of that concern.

“Look, Rip.” Dimich slowly stated. “We like Borst a lot but we like Turnipseed more. I absolutely cannot justify that type of move.”

“Well, my good sir. What WOULD justify such a move?” Rip hopped down off the desk, excitement building. He could tell the Giants’ GM liked the thought of landing a proven NBL arm while ridding himself of a divisive draft pick. “Speak what names would free the Turnipseed from your clutches.”

Whoops, probably a bit too dramatic.

“Well, we are very high on Dan Lopez over here.”

Rip tried his hardest not to laugh. “Ain’t happening, my friend. Lopez and Alpizar are basically all we got over here in the form of a future. Can’t move em.”

“I suspected so,” Dimich replied. “But what of Jim Frieze?”

Huh… That had not been a name he had expected to hear in response.

Frieze had initially been selected by the Charlotte Devils back in 1999 in the 5th round. However, the 6’2” 195 lb outfielder had thought his ceiling was higher so he turned down the Devils offer and instead went to Long Beach State. His collegiate numbers weren’t great but they were apparently impressive enough for Mr. Xavier Robinson who took him in the 3rd round a couple of years later in 2002.

So far it was looking like Frieze might have been a genius pick by X. At Bismark, he combined to slash .304/.359/.414 with 8 HRs & 80 RBIs over 599 ABs in 2 seasons. Last year he took the AA by storm earning an All-Star bid and putting up a 3.2 WAR year thanks to a line of .332/.403/.460. Frieze had the potential to be a Gold Glove caliber outfielder and was showing some promise at the plate.

Rip would sell him in a heartbeat.

“Frieze eh?” Rip tried his best to keep his composure. “I gotta say that might be a tough one. He’s turning into quite the stud what with that killer year in Cheyenne and all last year. I can see why you might be high on such a man. But I’m not sure I can give him AND Borst up only for talented Mr. Turnipseed.”

“Oh really?” a bemused Dimich responded. “You don’t think that’s a fair deal?”

“I would say it's ever so slightly weighted toward your fine establishment. In order to tip said scales of justice to even, I think it would be fair to include young Mr. Jason James.”

Rip was getting maybe too ambitious but it was worth a shot.

James was another 1st round pick. Selected out of Miami in 2003 as the 6th overall pick, James had stumbled out the gates in A before putting together a monster 2004 year in both AA & AAA. He had a 3 pitch arsenal that included a filthy splitter he could throw anywhere he wanted. James could bring the heat at 97 but it was his ability to throw at that velocity with accuracy that made him so intriguing to Rip. He looked like a solid mid-rotational piece.

Rip expected to get laughed off the line but instead heard a very serious response.

“I could see us parting with both Turnipseed and James only if Ben Watson is included in the deal. I think it’s important if we ship away two starting pitchers of the future we receive two in return.”

Rip almost dropped the receiver. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. The veteran GM was willing to part with his two most recent 1st round draft picks for a decent mid-rotation arm, an average OF prospect and Ben ****ing Watson?

Watson was selected in the 7th round by Santa Fe in 2001 but elected to attend Oregon State. Billings then selected him in the 4th round last year. He had been ok at Bismark but there were serious concerns about his ability to stay healthy over the long term. Rip knew there were some higher on Watson than him (such as OSA) but he had not expected anyone this high on him.

“Now that’s an intriguing move.” Rip honestly considered. “Watson has some big time potential though so before I sign off give me a moment to consider.”

In truth, Rip liked the deal already but the wild man inside of him couldn’t make himself pull the trigger just yet. Could he possibly get one more arm out of this dumbass exec?

“Ok how about this Jimmy man.” Rip said after taking a few moments to ponder his final move. “We send you the stud Kevin Borst, rising Gold Glover Jim Frieze and future do it all rotational piece Ben Watson in exchange for the young arms Richard Turnipseed, Jason James, and Chad Owens. How does that taste?”

Silence greeted the offer.

Damn I pushed too hard.

Owens was a 3rd round pick out of Vanderbilt back in 2003. He had moved quickly through the minors the next three years and made his NBL debut in 2004. The Giants liked him as a relief pitcher while Rip could see some spot starting potential as well. Turnipseed and James were the real prizes but Owens could be an immediate usable arm to help the rotation or bullpen out in 2005.

“Let’s do it.”

Rip almost **** himself in shock.

“We will draw up the paperwork and fax it over to your office ASAP.” Dimich continued. “It was a pleasure doing business with you, Mr. Bucknor. I hope that we have similar productive conversations in the coming years.”

“The pleasure was seriously all mine.”

When he heard Dimich hang up the phone, Rip let out a roar. He leaped on top of his desk and started shadow boxing the air.

Mrs. Lightfoot rushed into the office.

“Mr. Bucknor? What on God’s wonderful earth is going on in here?”

Rip hopped down and planted a kiss right on the shocked Mrs. Lightfoot's lips.

“What’s going on my wonderful Margaret dear is that I just ****ing kicked some serious ass!”

“MR. BUCKNOR!” Mrs. Lightfoot shouted breathlessly with a mix of horror, shock and confusion.

“My apologies mother! I forgot myself! Report me to HR if you must but before that please see if we have received a fax, I believe there will be some important paperwork arriving soon!”

“What kind of paperwork?”

Rip paused.

“Ya know, I don’t really know what but if it has the names Richard Turnipseed, Jason James and Chad Owens then get whomever needs to sign whereever to do so posthaste!”
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Old 11-13-2018, 11:12 AM   #9
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In case that absurd bunch of words above didn't make much sense here's the first deal of the Rip Bucknor era.


Billings gets:
SP Richard Turnipseed
SP Jason James
SP Chad Owens

Columbus gets
SP Kevin Borst
LF Jim Frieze
SP Ben Watson

I'm taking a bit of a risk moving Borst as his early numbers are solid. In 3 years as a big leaguer, he’s compiled 308.0 IP put up a 3.83 ERA, 3.95 FIP, 5.5 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 & total of 5.2 WAR. Great #’s but where this team is positioned right now he’s very expendable. Both Frieze & Watson are viewed as fringe prospects by both us and OSA tho Frieze is listed as the #226 prospect in the country and is coming off a strong AA performance.

But we get some studs back. First, there's last year’s #4 OVR pick in Richard Turnipseed. He was solid in AA last season putting up a 3.84 ERA in 96.0 IP. Will need a full season in AAA before considering bringing him up but his ceiling is sky high (see what I did there?). He sits in the 94-96 range with four pitches. An outstanding fastball, a nasty slider, a needs improving change up & an interesting forkball. Control is a big concern right now but he’s got the skills to get there. He should be our ace when we make a push.

Jason James was the #6 OVR pick in the 2003 draft by Columbus & was OSA’s #11 OVR prospect in 2004. He was pretty good in AAA in his brief appearance there but was dominant in AA posting a 12-7 record with a 3.62 ERA & a 3.2 WAR. He looks like a 2 or 3 guy in the rotation very soon.

Finally, there’s Chad Owens. OSA’s #85 prospect last season, Owens got some work in Columbus’s bullpen last season but he will be in our rotation. Backend guy but with an intriguing 3 pitch arsenal of fastball, slider & changeup that he all throws well. Will probably slot in near the top of the rotation in 2005 just because of need.

This deal might stretch believability a bit considering it contains two 1st round draft picks but I suspect Columbus has higher ratings for both Borst & Frieze than we do. Interested to see how it shakes out between Borst/Turnipseed in the next few years
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Old 11-15-2018, 09:11 AM   #10
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An Ashy Situation

Fueled by the adrenaline from his trade with Columbus, Rip paced his office thinking of his next move. He had told Hale that Richard Turnipseed and Aaron Ash would be two of his first targets. With his success landing Turnipseed, it made sense then to turn his eyes towards Ash.

Ash is a 23-year-old first baseman currently stuck in the Portland Pioneers’ minor league system. The 27-year-old phenom James Olson had been the original blocker but then the Pioneers picked up 30-year-old Fernando Andrade off waivers from Rochester last April resulting in Olson moving to 3B. Andrade had bounced up and down from Rochester to their AAA affiliate over three years before finally being waived. The Pioneers apparently saw something in the Dominican and claimed him.

It proved a brilliant move.

Andrade slashed .309/.346/.485 in 2004, slugged 18 HRs and drove in 98 RBIs in his official rookie year in 2004. He also led the Western League in both hits at 181 and doubles with 49. He’s a top contender to win the WL Newcomer of the Year award.

To put it simply, between Olson and Andrade there was no room for Ash.

Ash was the 9th overall pick in the 2003 NBL Amateur draft. He came out the gates hot in 2003 slashing .305/.364/.418 while driving in 52 runs in his professional debut. Last season he was even better. Having been promoted to Portland's AA affiliate Eugene, Ash put together a 4.2 WAR season thanks to 17 home runs, 76 RBIs and a .373/.426/.586 line. In late August and all of September, they gave him a brief look in AAA where he continued to hit the ball well.

Here was a kid with a big bat but nowhere to play. Rip hoped to fix that.

Rip’s main issue right now, however, was that his lovely assistant had left to retrieve Hale’s signature on the trade he had just made. That meant Rip had no way of contacting Portland.

He had an idea.

Giggling to himself as he dialed “*69” on his office phone, Rip waited for the other side to pick up.

“Hello, you have reached the offices of the Columbus Giants.” Said a bubbly voice on the other end of the line. “How might I help you?”

“Hi yes, I was calling about a very specific problem that I hope you might fix for me.”

“Absolutely sir, how might we help?”

“Can you give me the Portland Pioneers' front office number?”

Silence greeted him on the other line.

“I’m sorry sir, you want what?”

“I know it’s a bit odd but you see I’m a…” Rip hesitated, guessing stating his real identity might not be the brightest idea. “Sorry, I’m a news reporter looking to hunt down a hot scoop but I am having trouble tracking down Portland’s front office number. Is there any way you could help?”

Another pause.

“Sir, we have caller ID. It clearly states that this call is coming from Billings front office.”


“Excellent deduction on your part young lady!” Rip exclaimed attempting to change tactics. “This was a test of our secur-”

“Mr. Bucknor I can just give you the number.”

Ah, it appears the jig is up....

“That would be absolutely delightful my dear!”

While not necessarily how he imagined it going down, his masterful plan worked anyway. The pleasant young lady on the other line gave him Portland’s numbers then wished him a good rest of the day but not before very pointedly stating, “You should really have the numbers to the other front offices yourself sir. You probably will need to call them in the future.”

“I will get right on that my dear!”


With the correct contact info in hand and a stern warning to himself not to greet Portland’s GM as “Gabey Baby”, Rip dialed out.

“Hello! You’ve reached the home of the 2004 NCS Champion Portland Pioneers! Yee-haw! How might I direct your call?”

Holy **** we have to destroy this team.

“Yee-haw indeed. My name is Rip Bucknor and I am the general manager for Billings. I was wondering if I might speak with Gabe Johnson.”

“Why of course Mr. Bucknor! Though where is Margaret? She usually sets these calls up and I haven’t spoken with her in ages. How are her grandkids?”

“I’m sure they are swell. I apologize for interrupting whatever thing it is ya’ll do on these type of calls but I just really need to speak with Mr. Johnson”

Rip’s patience was sort of running thin at this point and he just needed to make a deal before his head exploded.

“Very well.” Portland’s receptionist answered stiffly. “I will patch you through.”

“Thank you m--”

She was already off the line.

Don’t say Gabey Baby. Don’t say Gabey Baby. Don’t say Gabey Baby.


“Good morrow sir Johnson!”

Nailed it.

“My name’s Rip Bucknor and I am the new general manager here at Billings. I was wondering if I could have a moment of your time to talk business.”

Gabe Johnson had climbed the mountain at Portland. The Pioneers began their NBL existence as arguably the worst team in the league. But each season saw steady improvement. Johnson nailed draft pick after draft pick and pulled off savvy moves like picking up a prospect no one thought was any good off the waiver wire only to see him become a Newcomer of the Year candidate. All that work paid off as this past season the Pioneers had downed the two-time defending champion Charlotte to capture their first ever NCS title. As much as it frustrated Rip, he had a ton of respect for the Portland exec.

“Uh… sure?” Gabe answered, audibly puzzled by Rip’s opening. "What type of business is it you wish to discuss?”

“An Ashy sort.” Rip couldn’t help himself. “Meaning, of course, your outstanding 1B prospect Aaron Ash. Seeing as you have a plethora of corner studs in your system while my fine establishment has nary a soul, I thought we might be able to come to some sort of arrangement.”

“First off,” Gabe responded sternly. “Stop talking like a moron. Second, Ash is a key piece of our future. We are not looking to move him.”

Someone appears a bit grumpy today eh?

“My apologies if my strange way of speaking bothers you, sir.” Rip answered. “But excuse me for saying, bull**** to Ash having any sort of role in your system moving forward.”

If the man wanted to shoot it straight then Rip was more than happy to oblige.

“You got James ****ing Olson at third base raking like a Grecian god. You somehow found Andrade off the trash heap only to turn him into the Newcomer of the god damn Year. You got one of the best prospects in all of the NBL sitting in your international complex in Joey Bergonia who happens to play first base AND you got an under the radar stud in Mike Balester sitting in Single A. So stop shoveling me **** and let’s talk how we can make something happen.”

Gabe paused before responding.

“Ok… What is it exactly you think you can offer?”

“Pretty simple. You need pitching. I know you got a big ass ring on your hand now after this season but you ain’t getting any more until you improve that rotation. I can send you Dave Harden for Ash straight up and we both come out smelling like roses.”

“Not happening.” Johnson quickly answered. “I don’t want Dave Harden.”


“That’s surprising to hear.”

“But you are correct in that we are looking for pitching. I prefer to develop our talent myself which means I don’t like trading for NBL guys now. More than likely you guys have ****ed them up already.”

Well ok then…

“So it’s a prospect you want?”

“It’s Kurt Merritt I want.”

The hell?

For the 2nd time today, Rip was surprised to hear who his opponent actually wanted.

Kurt was ranked the #151 prospect in the NBL but so far had a very pedestrian professional career. Billings drafted the Arizona native out of high school in 2003 in the 4th round. He spent 2003 and part of 2004 in Bismark (A) where he was honestly pretty meh. Between the two years, he threw 96 innings and posted a horrendous 5.53 ERA while walking more than he struck out. His numbers did improve in 2004 which lead to his promotion to AA in Cheyenne to close out last season. There he was not all that better. He compiled a 6-12 record over 122.2 innings but put up a vomit inducing 6.46 ERA. FIP (4.71) says that was a bit of a fluke due to a high BABIP but he’s still walking twice as many as he strikes out.

He’s got an effective cutter, decent curve, and a good enough slider but overall Rip had never been that impressed with the youngster. Sure he looked pretty up there on the mound at 6’3” 200 lbs but that was about it.

However, Johnson wanting Merritt did make Rip pause. Maybe he was missing something? Was there some secret piece to his #’s that Rip had failed to notice?

Ah **** it. If he wants him, he can have em.

“That sounds like an intriguing deal.” Rip finally answered. “So Kurt Merritt for Aaron Ash straight up?”

“Straight up.”

“Well then Mr. Johnson sir, you don’t have to listen to my funny talking anymore because we got a deal!” Rip fist-pumped as he attempted to leave the call. “I will have the paperwork drawn up and sent over from my office as soon as possible.”

“Sounds good Rip.” Johnson paused. “I gotta say this is one of the more bizarre conversations I’ve had on this job.”

“It’s gonna be even more bizarre when I beat your ass in a few years.”

Rip hung up and let out another howl.

“MR. BUCKNOR!” Mrs. Lightfoot was apparently back. “Could you please attempt to act civilized?”

“I would never Foot of Light!” He bounded over to his secretary who was holding a stack of papers while glaring at him. “Those the Columbus trade stuff?”

“They are indeed. Mr. Hale was surprised to hear you had made a deal before finishing your staff like he had asked but seemed overall happy with the move.”

Mrs. Lightfoot did not seem to share the sentiment.

“Awesome! Well, I got another task for ya already!” Rip led his assistant out of his office. “I need you to draw up some paperwork to complete a deal I just made with Portland. We are sending them Kurt ****ing Merritt for Aaron ****ing Ash! Can you believe it?”

“Language sir!” Mrs. Lightfood sighed. “So you made another deal Mr. Bucknor?”

Pretending to smoke a pipe Rip replied, “I did indeed m’lady.”

“Well sir that’s wonderful, I guess, but I do have to ask when you plan on actually hiring someone to manage the team and help you here in the front office.”

“Funny you should say that Maggie.” Rip said with a smile. “I plan on correcting at least one of those issues in the very near future! But to do so, I will need Mr. Hale’s jet!”

“Where exactly are you going, Mr. Bucknor?”

Rip began making his way towards the elevators. He called over his shoulder, “To Omaha my dear lady! To Omaha!”
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Old 11-15-2018, 09:13 AM   #11
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Billings gets:
1B Aaron Ash

Portland gets:
SP Kurt Merritt

I’m looking for some power to add to the system & Ash fits the bill. At 23 years old, he’s a more developed prospect who could soon see time in the NBL. He had a monster AA season last year where he slashed .373/.426/.586 with 17 HRs & 76 RBIs. His defense ain’t great but I can live with it if he can give me 25+ HRs a year. The only big issue is he’s left-handed which means that the 3 guys that are expected to be the core of this lineup for foreseeable future (Lopez, Alpizar, Ash) all bat from the left side. Need to go find some right-handed bats preferably bats that also play in the infield.
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Old 11-15-2018, 09:58 AM   #12
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I interrupt these silly stories for some actual reporting. Here's a look at who won what in the 2004 campaign

Best Player of the Year

Western League

CF Jaime Ryan (POR) - .326/.459/.791/1.250 68 HR 152 RBI 14 SB 218 OPS+ 10.6 WAR

Jamie Ryan has consistently crushed the baseball since 1998. His biggest issue has been that he’s shared the league with super star slugger Adam Parlier. But in 2004 he finally got the best of him. Ryan earned his first BPOTY honor after a 2004 campaign that saw him carry his Portland squad to their first ever NCS title. His performance in the WLCS lead to MVP honors and an NCS berth where the Pioneers were able to knock off two time defending champion Charlotte. Ironically, this isn’t even Ryan’s best season. In 2000, he put up a 12.4 WAR year where he slashed .341/.486/.809 with 60 HRs and 145 RBIs. But that was also Parlier’s incredible 75 HR campaign. This year though there would be no denying Ryan as he completed what will undoubtedly be one of his favorite NBL seasons of all time.

Eastern League

1B Jon Santos (ROC) - .380/.467/.733/1.200 51 HR 130 RBI 23 SB 194 OPS+ 9.0 WAR

The Baby Boomers didn’t make it to the playoffs in 2004 but one of their number did earn some serious hardware. Santos was Rochester’s first ever draft pick back in 1998, selected #8 overall. He’s slowly worked his way up the system before earning Newcomer of the Year honors in 2002 in his NBL debut season. He’s only gotten better with 2004 being his star performance. He beat out fellow boomer 3B Luis Quintanilla for the award.

Pitcher of the Year

Western League

SP Doug Fetherolf (SF) - 16-6 2.49 ERA 206.0 IP 241 K 0.90 WHIP 0.7 HR/9 1.2 BB/9 10.5 K/9 171 ERA+ 9.2 WAR

The Wolf has done it again. The undisputed ace of the NBL, Doug Fetherolf captured his 4th Pitcher of the Year award after another stellar season in Santa Fe. The Bandits ace has won 4 of the last 5 POTY awards in the WL with his lone miss in 2002 when Ivan Ortiz went 21-2 for the Las Vegas Gamblers. Fetherolf finished 2nd that season. For the most part, the NBL has been an offense-oriented league but it’s no coincidence that the franchise that has found their way to the playoffs most often is the team employing the best pitcher in the NBL. Scarily, Fetherolf is only 28 meaning he still probably has at least 5-6 more years of dominance left in that arm.

Eastern League

SP Cody Wappelhorst (CHA) - 16-4 2.37 ERA 182.0 IP 238 K 0.81 WHIP 0.8 HR/9 1.8 BB/9 11.8 K/9 183 ERA+ 7.2 WAR

Fetherolf is the undisputed top pitcher in the NBL but he’s about to face some stiff competition in the coming years. Selected in the 8th round back in 2000 by the Charlotte Devils, Wappelhorst was never expected to be more than a minor league arm. But in 2001 something clicked for the 6’7” 220 lb sidewinder. He dominated the AA, moved to AAA where he showed some decent potential then took the NBL by storm in 2002. His arrival also coincided with the Devils rise to dominance. Wappelhorst has played 3 seasons of NBL and has made it to the NCS all 3 seasons with last year being the only time he didn’t come home with a ring. At the age of 23, the San Jose native is only just now tapping into his potential. It appears the Devils have found their stud ace of the future.

Manager of the Year

Western League

Wilson Yoshida - Portland (7th season)

Eastern League

Jim Ecker - Chattanooga (1st season)

Newcomer of the Year

Western League

2B Shoin Fujimoto (LV) - .316/.408/.572/.980 32 HR 101 RBI SB 160 OPS+ 6.4 WAR

Eastern League

LF Donovan Pelzer (NO) - .283/.389/.442/.830 16 HR 87 RBI 122 OPS+ 3.4 WAR

Best Bat

Western League

P - Sean Shatzer (OKC) .235/.250/.294 51 AB 25 wRC+ -0.3 WAR
C - Carlos Garza (POR) .350/.383/.457 503 AB 7 HR 5 SB 129 wRC+ 4.5 WAR (x5)
1B - Kyung-tae Kim (OM) .348/.468/.729 520 AB 55 HR 3 SB 121 R 116 RBI 9.6 WAR (x2)
2B - Shoin Fujimoto (LV) .316/.408/.572 509 AB 32 HR SB 101 RBI 6.4 WAR
3B - James Olson (POR) .293/.385/.627 557 AB 51 HR 109 R 144 RBI 7.5 WAR
SS - Roberto Solares (SF) .262/.333/.451 539 AB 24 HR 8 SB 114 wRC+ 4.3 WAR
LF - Oliver Swartz (POR) .292/.357/.548 504 AB 27 HR 15 SB 107 R 138 wRC+ 4.9 WAR
CF - Jaime Ryan (POR) .326/.459/.791 522 AB 68 HR 14 SB 152 R 152 RBI 10.6 WAR (x6)
RF - Tim Linden (LV) .295/.354/.533 542 AB 32 HR SB 141 wRC+ 4.4 WAR

Eastern League

P - Jason Butler (IND) .333/.344/.600 60 AB 3 HR 114 wRC+ 0.5 WAR
C - Butch Knittel (CHA) .297/.366/.511 448 AB 17 HR 126 wRC+ 4.3 WAR
1B - Jon Santos (ROC) .380/.467/.733 539 AB 51 HR 23 SB 137 R 130 RBI 9.0 WAR (x3)
2B - Eddie Munoz (NO) .299/.391/.509 546 AB 20 HR 4 SB 145 wRC+ 5.6 WAR
3B - Luis Quintanilla (ROC) .323/.400/.623 575 AB 48 HR 2 SB 117 R 153 RBI 8.1 WAR
SS - Dustin Schoenhofen (ROC) .304/.377/.435 504 AB 9 HR SB 118 wRC+ 3.2 WAR
LF - Donovan Pelzer (NO) .313/.389/.561 585 AB 40 HR 4 SB 105 R 116 RBI 4.9 WAR
CF - Ryan McCulloch (ROC) .286/.387/.530 594 AB 34 HR 27 SB 140 R 105 RBI 6.3 WAR (x3)
RF - Aidan Campbell (CHA) .338/.403/.600 557 AB 29 HR 13 SB 115 R 124 RBI 6.7 WAR

Reliever of the Year

Western League

CL John Strader (SF) 6-4 36 SV 2.15 ERA 67.0 IP 93 K 1.13 WHIP 1.1 HR/9 3.8 BB/9 12.5 K/9 199 ERA+ 1.9 WAR

Straders has been all over the NBL. His career started in Omaha before four straight years at a different club going from Oklahoma City to Indianapolis to Santa Fe and finally to Charlotte. This past year he returned to Santa Fe where he captured his 4th Reliever of the Year crown. The only time Martinez (discussed below) did NOT win the EL ROTY came in 2001 when Strader snagged the award in his one season in the EL. The 33-year-old doesn’t care what jersey he’s wearing, he plans on going out there and getting 3 outs no matter what.

Eastern League

CL Salvador Martinez (CHT) 10-2 39 SV 1.76 ERA 71.2 IP 107 K 1.06 WHIP 0.3 HR/9 4.6 BB/9 13.4 K/9 242 ERA+ 3.6 WAR

For the 6th time in 7 seasons, Martinez brings home the EL Reliever of the Year. There is no debate who is the king of the 9th inning. When Lookout Stadium grows quiet and the steady chiming of the Lookout Bell rings out over the stadium, it’s hard not to feel a bit intimidated. Because you know in just moments #79 is about to burst forth, sprinting full speed to the mound as the crowd goes absolutely nuts. Martinez has been the most dominant relief man in the NBL in its short 7-year history and that doesn’t look like it’s changing anytime soon.

Best Glove

Western League

P - Jared Gittens (SF)
C - Kyle McCloskey (SJ) (x3)
1B - Justin Goodrich (LV) (x2)
2B - Alfredo Herrera (SF)
3B - Josh Lamb (SA)
SS - Rick Spekiechler (SA)
LF - Oliver Swartz (POR) (x5)
CF - Dario Cardone (SA) (x2)
RF - Kevin Haislip (OKC)

Eastern League

P - Cody Wappelhorst (CHA)
C - Butch Knittel (CHA)
1B - Mike Frey (JAC) (x2)
2B - John Kohn (CHA) (x3)
3B - Tony Herrera (CHA)
SS - Kieran Monroe (COL)
LF - Jeremy Jacobs (JAC) (x4)
CF - Masafumi Tsutsui (CHT)
RF - Jason Williamson (JAC)
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Old 11-17-2018, 09:37 PM   #13
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Jody Moncrief

Every Tuesday morning at 6:00 AM, Jody Moncrief stops at Midtown Bakery in Omaha, Nebraska for a cinnamon roll and a coffee. He spends the next 30 minutes sitting in the corner booth reading his newspaper and signing the occasional autograph. Well that’s at least what Rip’s hired private eye told him about Moncrief when Rip first arrived in Omaha.

That’s what happens when you give me a 6 figure salary.

Moncrief is one of the best managers in the National Baseball League. For the past 7 seasons, he’d led the Omaha Storm to a 597-493 record, three playoff appearances, two Western League pennants, and two NCS titles. The 61-year-old baseball veteran out of New Orleans, LA was known for his calm, measured personality that allowed him to get the best out of young ballplayers.

However, the last two seasons things had begun to sour between him and Omaha’s owner Larry Jacovino. With superstar Adam Parlier now in San Antonio along with other key pieces off those 1999 and 2000 championship teams gone, the Storm had begun to slip in the WL. In 2002, Omaha stayed above .500 at 83-67 but finished a somewhat distant 4th. In 2003, that record slid to 79-71 and last year, for the first time ever, Omaha had posted a losing record.

There were many in the Omaha community that believed the ole wily vet had lost his touch. Omaha had elected not to renew his or general manager’s Steve Ellis’s contract. Ironically, it had just been announced that former Sky GM Xavier Robinson had taken the Storm post.

Rip thought Omaha was crazy.

When it came to managing a team, Rip wasn’t sure there was anyone better in the NBL. The fact that the Storm had just let him walk away was too good an opportunity to pass up. If he was going to build something special up in Montana, he needed a manager that players would trust. Someone who would get the most out of all the young talent Rip planned to acquire.

So he had flown out to Omaha to surprise the two-time champion and see if he could charm Moncrief into a job he probably shouldn’t take. Rumors were the Charlotte Devils were considering making a run for Moncrief and considering the budget differences between the Sky and Devils, Rip figured his best chance was a blitzkrieg-like attack that would hopefully shock the man into just agreeing to whatever terms Rip could come up with.

Let’s convince this man to make a terrible mistake.

Rip sat in his rental car outside of the bakery in a pair of Aviator shades like any great stakeout detective might do. Sure enough, right around 6:00 AM, Moncrief came strolling up the street and into the bakery. He quickly sat down in his corner booth and a cinnamon roll, coffee and newspaper were delivered immediately by the staff.

Damn, I wanna do something like that.

Rip made his way into the bakery. He walked right up to Moncrief’s booth and sat down across from the 7-year NBL vet.

“Uh, can I help you?” A very puzzled Jody Moncrief asked.

“Absolutely you can!” Rip eagerly answered. “You can help me by agreeing to become the new Billings Sky manager!”

It was clear Moncrief was confused.

“Uh, I don’t remember contacting Billings about their open position?”

“No need! That’s why I’m here!”

The former Storm manager frowned in response.

“Who the hell are you?”

“Another great question!” A smiling Rip answered. “My name’s Rip Bucknor and I am the new general manager at Billings. I’m here today to offer you a job as the manager for the Sky.”

“This is not typically how these things work.”

“To hell with how things work!” Rip roared in response. “I care nothing for how things are supposed to work. What I care about is winning. Billings hasn’t ever really done that and I’m here to change it. But to do so, I need one of the best minds in baseball directing the ship. I’m gonna go get a ****load of talent but it doesn’t matter if the man doing the grind day to day ain’t worth a ****.”

Moncrief leaned back in his seat, appearing to consider the suprising situation that had unfolded in front of him.

“So let me get this straight,” he said. “You flew all the way out here to Omaha, waited for me to show up at my usual Tuesday breakfast joint and surprised me at my booth to tell me you have a job that I haven’t even asked for waiting for me? How in the hell is that supposed to convince me this is a good idea?”

“It shows initiative!”

Moncrief barked a laugh in response.

“It shows me lunacy. I’ve heard about you,” he said pointing at Rip. “They call you `Wild Man`. That’s not exactly the type of situation that screams stability. That’s what I want. Stability.”

“Like hell you want stability,” Rip replied. “You want victory! You want that ecstasy of going into battle once again, facing odds you aren’t supposed to beat. You want that feeling of victory holding up the NCS Crown one more time. You want to show those dumbasses in the Omaha front office how stupid they are for letting you go. You wanna win some god damn baseball games and you wanna kick some ass while doing it.”

Rip leaned in.

“Look, I’m crazy. I won’t fight that `Wild Man` label. I am gonna do and say dumb **** but I want you to understand something. I WANT this BADLY. I want to prove to this dumb ole league that it’s not endless money that wins you championships, its ****ing great baseball that does. I wanna flip the table upside down and have all the fat cats scrambling to figure out what the hell is going on. I think you want it too.”

Rip sat back awaiting Moncrief’s response. The 61-year-old Louisiana native sat there considering Rip’s words. The two sat in silence for what may have been five minutes or so, eyes locked.

Finally, Moncrief barked out a laugh again.

“Oh what the hell! I am pretty pissed about this whole getting sacked thing and tired of all these other front offices playing the dumb manager hiring games teams play.” He stuck his hand out to Rip. “Let’s go **** some **** up why don’t we?”

I think I’m in love.

Last edited by WeagleWeagle; 11-17-2018 at 09:57 PM.
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Old 11-17-2018, 09:48 PM   #14
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Free Agency Preview

Today marks the beginning of the free agency period as players and teams alike will look to find the best match for the upcoming season. This year’s free agent crop doesn’t necessarily have the same star power as the last couple of offseasons but there are still some big names available for signing. We here at the NBL Hot Stove took the time to sit down, crunch some numbers and evaluate the market to put together a list of the top 6 free agents this offseason.

The key for how we list players looks like this
POS Name | Age | B | T | HT | WT | OSA OVR/POT
Career #’s

RF Aidan Campbell | 29 | R | R | 6’0” | 190 | 65/65
.303/.365/.520/.886 96 HR 405 RBI 133 OPS+ 15.5 WAR

Campbell was the #3 OVR pick in the 1998 NBL Amateur Draft by the Las Vegas Gamblers. They immediately added him to their active roster and he’s been in the NBL ever since. His time with the Gamblers was pretty unremarkable which is why it didn’t turn too many heads when Las Vegas shipped him over to Charlotte midseason in 2002. Turns out he just needed to return to the East Coast.

The DeLand, FL native had a breakout season in 2003 for Charlotte slashing .316/.373/.558 while smacking a career-high 30 HRs and driving in 112 RBIs. His shining moment came in the ELCS against Rochester. The then 27-year-old hit the game-winning HR in Game 5 to give the Devils the victory and send them to the NCS for the 2nd consecutive year where they would capture their 2nd consecutive NCS title. After another strong campaign in 2004, the now 29-year-old is hitting free agency at the exact right time. You have to think teams like Indianapolis and Santa Fe with monster budgets are gonna be willing to pony up whatever it takes to add the young stud to their roster. Campbell appears to just now be reaching the peak part of his career.

LF Cory Short | 29 | L | L | 6’2” | 240 | 55/55
.353/.381/.538/.919 112 HR 575 RBI 148 OPS+ 29.1 WAR

It might seem weird to have Campbell ranked ahead of Short considering one is a 6x All-Star, 3x Best Bat winner with five 4+ WAR seasons under his belt. But this ranking is more looking towards the future and right now these two seem on different trajectories.

Once teammates in Las Vegas, Short out shown Campbell and has been the star of the Gamblers squad since it’s founding in 1998. After an ok 1998 season, he broke out in 1999 hitting .362 with 16 HRs and 105 RBIs. He led the Western League in batting average in 2002, doubles in 2003 and hits in 1999 and 2000. He’s been one of the most consistent forces in the WL over the past seven years.

But last season has people concerned. Short saw his home run total drop to it’s lowest since 1998. While a slash line of .334/.354/.495 is plenty good it’s a step below what he’s done the previous 5 seasons. More than likely these numbers are just a blip on the radar but given Campbell’s rising tide and Short’s slight dip, we gave the nod to Campbell in these rankings. Still, there will be plenty of suitors for the stud left fielder out of Alum Rock, CA

SP Jared Gittens | 28 | L | L | 5’10” | 190 | 45/45
62-70 4.01 ERA 1217.1 IP 1.34 WHIP 0.8 HR/9 3.5 BB/9 6.4 K/9 113 ERA+ 19.9 WAR

This free agent class isn’t all that deep with starting pitching. The few big names there are have major injury concerns (Eli Durgen). Gittens is the youngest of the group, still possesses a clean bill of health and while has struggled some in recent years can point to solid past seasons as proof he can be a top of the rotation arm.

Gittens was one of Columbus’s first star players. He played with the Giants from 1998-2003 before being traded around in the middle of 03. His first 5 years were outstanding posting WARs of 3.1, 3.2, 4.3, 2.2 and 4.4. The lefty is known for his slick moving cutter that generates a career GO% of 54% which is 4th in NBL history among pitchers that have thrown 1,000+ innings. The past couple of seasons have been tough though. Gittens struggled in Portland for the 2nd half of the 2003 campaign and was ok at both Louisville and Santa Fe in 2004. He appears to be heading down the wrong side of the hill but only at the age 28, there’s maybe a chance for revival. There isn’t a true ace in this FA class but Gittens looks like the best option for any contenders looking for a strong arm to add to their rotation for the next 3-4 seasons.

3B Justin Davis | 31 | R | R | 6’2” | 215 | 55/55
.251/.325/.395/.719 78 HRs 340 RBI 90 OPS+ 7.8 WAR

Davis is an intriguing name to have #3 on our list. He doesn’t possess the best bat in the world but despite 0 Gold Gloves, he’s one of the best defensive corner infielders in the game. The NBL is pretty loaded with elite outfielders and power-hitting first basemen, but solid defense at the hot corner with an average bat is surprisingly hard to find. Davis is listed here because of value. While there are probably some better bats you can add to your lineup, Davis would give a team one of the few above average 3B in the NBL. He’s also coming off a career year in, you guessed it, Las Vegas where he slashed .281/.378/.445/.823 and put up a career high 121 OPS+ and 2.8 WAR.

SP/RP Min-Soo Kim | 27 | L | R | 6’6” | 235 | 55/55

Min-Soo will be the 6th South Korean import to join the NBL. He has some high expectations to live up too. Omaha’s Kyung-Tae Kim is a blossoming superstar who led the NBL in batting average in 2003 and smashed a career-high 55 Home Runs last year. Dong-hyun Oh was the first Korean national to enter the NBL and he’s had a tremendous career in Chattanooga where he’s slashed .308/.377/.480 and just signed a 3 year extension. Yong-jik Yang looks like a future ace for Santa Fe (though as long as long the Wolf is there won’t be) putting up a career-high 2.62 ERA last year and has already thrown almost 800 innings in 4 years of action.

The success of those stars will make Min-Soo quite enticing to a number of franchises. He’s listed as a relief pitcher but possesses the stamina to slide into the rotation if needed. He looks the imposing figure on the mound at 6’6” 235 lbs and being only 27 years old, teams are gonna wanna add a talent with his upside to their roster this offseason.

CL John Strader | 33 | R | R | 6’0” | 205 | 80/80
38-27 169 S 1.99 ERA 502.1 IP 1.01 WHIP 0.6 HR/9 2.9 BB/9 12.2 K/9 258 ERA+ 22.2 WAR

It’s become an annual offseason tradition. 7x All-Star, 4x Reliever of the Year and 2x NCS winner, John Strader is back on the market. He’s pitched for 5 different teams in 7 seasons but only for consecutive seasons once in 1998 and 1999 for Omaha. Strader is a sidearmer who relies on two pitches - a cutter and a slider to dominate hitters. The “Knight” will undoubtedly demand a Knight’s ransom from whomever wishes to employ his services and undoubtedly they will be rewarded with one of the best shut down closers in the game. And undoubtedly he will be available once again next offseason.
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Old 11-17-2018, 09:50 PM   #15
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"I think I'm in love."

That's how I feel reading this crazy tale!

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Old 11-17-2018, 09:56 PM   #16
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Rip’s Notes - 10/21/2004

The staff is officially put together with Jody on board and the old man having hired ****ing Blake Madson as assistant GM. Blake was a decent enough GM at Oklahoma City for 5 years but dude is boring as hell and has to lead every sentence with “back in OKC we used to…”

If he says it one more time, I just might put a pen through his eye….

Anyways…. Free agency has arrived and now it’s time to figure out what the hell I wanna do this offseason. Made two moves I like already but I wanna take a step back, evaluate what we got, what’s out there and come up with some objectives.

You know like some serious business school ****. Blake will love it.

We aren’t worried about next season or really even 2006. Our goal is to be competitive in 2007 and be in the playoffs in 2008. I think that’s realistic but that means looking at things in a 4-year window which can be tough to do. If you look at our current salaries, the only money really tied up right now is with Victor Rodriguez. X signed Victory last offseason to a 3-year deal worth $2.16 million a year. It’s not crippling which is good but Victor is also hot garbage. He was a 2 time All-Star for New Orleans but went .259/.304/.422 in 2004. He did hit 10 HRs which is nice but given how left-hand heavy we already are and the fact we have two stud prospects taking over plus rights to Laskowski until 2009, I think we might see if we can move Victor. At a minimum, he comes off the books when we wanna start being competitive after 2006.

This league and our system is outfield heavy. There’s no way we will be able to have use of Lopez, Alpizar, Laskowski, Dell Penna, Navarro, Castro AND Garcellano in the next 2-3 years. The infield is a mess not only on our team but in the NBL as a whole, especially up the middle. Roberto Solares had the highest WAR of any SS in 2004 at 4.3. There are plenty of slugging 1B & 3B but very few in the middle IF. That’s where we need to attack with some of this OF overflow. There are 5 main targets I have right now:

Ryan Michael (Jacksonville)
Pedro Quintanilla (Oklahoma City)
Hector Garcia (San Antonio)
Jonah Williams (Las Vegas)
Javier Castillo (Santa Fe)

I’m leaning Michael at the moment. He’s coming off an insane year at AA and is a plus-plus defender at a position that needs it. He would more than likely spend 2005 in AAA and have a chance to make the squad in 2006. Garcia though is very intriguing as well and is considered the #58 best prospect in the NBL He’s already in AAA but will definitely need another year there to be ready for the show. Castillo is the biggest wildcard but possibly highest upside. Has potential to be a superstar that jacks HRs but Santa Fe won’t give him up for much considering he’s the #6 prospect in the NBL. Considering he’s also 18 and has been their international complex since 2002, I would be taking a major risk giving up a lot for a prospect that might flame out.

Right now, I think I might pick between Michael and Garcia but we will see.

So let’s say we get one of those guys, that gives us a SS to go with a 1B of future (Ashe) and our OF. What about 3B & C? Jake Gowens is our best prospect at C and is coming off a strong A season. He’s bounced up to the AA a few times and never stuck which makes me nervous. On the current active roster, Nate Allen made his debut in 2003 but has been pretty meh since. I really think we need to explore the market for catchers.

As for 3B, Mike Daly is an elite defensive prospect but can’t hit for crap. I can see him developing into a utility man but not a guy I necessary want to start 140+ games a year at the hot corner. I am intrigued about offering Justin Davis in free agency. He appears to only want a 4-year deal which would have him done by 35. He’s asking for $3.6M but I bet we could sign him closer to $3M maybe. Can play all over the diamond and be useful at the plate. We ain’t gonna be scared of signing free agents if it makes sense.

We will talk with Min-Soo Kim too and see if we can sign him to a low-cost, long-term deal to add to our rotation. I think he’s mislabeled as a relief pitcher and paired with Turnipseed, James and hopefully another strong arm we trade for could make a solid rotation.

A lot of big decisions to make. I think the focus right now will be on landing one of those MIF targets. We will see what Castillo costs then go from there.

Let’s see what the ole Wild Man can cook up….
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Old 11-18-2018, 02:19 PM   #17
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A Tense Meeting

“This seems bold, even for you Rip.”

Rip Bucknor was back in John Hale’s office, this time with new manager Jody Moncrief and new assistant GM Blake Madson. The meeting had quickly been called when Rip had promptly marched into Hale’s office and informed the old man that he planned on trading fan favorite and shut down closer Ramon Bracamontes.

Hale continued, “I mean I think I get what you are going after here but is there any way we could do it without including Ramon?”

Like most days in Rip’s life, things had started innocent enough. Rip had already pulled the trigger on a small deal that would send a beat up Curt Phelps to Las Vegas in exchange for a solid middle infield prospect in Jonah Williams. Rip was working on finding some pieces for the long-term future of Billings up the middle and Williams had been a guy he had targeted from the get-go. It turned out to be pretty trivial to trade for the young man.

His next call had been to Jacksonville which is when things had escalated in a hurry. The call had started with Rip inquiring after Ryan Michael and had ended with him and the Sharks GM John Farrell verbally agreeing on a 6 man deal that included Bracamontes. It was a move that Rip really believed in but knew he couldn’t make until he got the old man’s approval. After all, not only was Bracamontes a fan favorite, he was Hale’s favorite as well.

“Back in Oklahoma City,” Madson began. “Whenever we approached a major deal like this one, we would give ourselves 24 hours to consider the move before giving it an official thumbs up or thumbs down.”

“How bout I shove my thumb up your ass?” Rip snarled.

That drew a laugh from Moncrief but a scold from Hale.

“Language Rip! I actually think Blake makes a very good point. You are asking me to sign off on a move that would not only send the one player that is most adored by the Sky fanbase but last year’s #1 overall pick Nate Morgan and a solid arm in Andy Rowe. That’s not a small ask.”

The deal that Harrell and Rip had informally agreed to would send stud closer Ramon Bracamontes, 2004 #1 overall pick Nate Morgan and minor league arm Andy Rowe to Jacksonville in exchange for the 2004 #15 overall pick Austin Modderman, #127 prospect SS Ryan Michael and #176 prospect CL Mitch Robbins. There was no question this was no small ask.

Who the **** wants to go small.

“I don’t much believe in the 24-hour rule as you well know. Hell, I don’t believe in the 1-hour rule. I find that sitting around pretending like you are in deep contemplation over a decision is dumb when really you made your mind up within 5 minutes of hearing the offer.”

Madson jumped back in.

“If I may? I can see that you are eager to make this deal Rip and I get it. The adrenaline is pumping, you’re dreaming of the headlines in the morning and I know you want to make your mark on this franchise.” He folded his hands together like a ****ing priest before continuing. “But these decisions have ramifications. Just because it FEELS right doesn’t mean it is right. I think it makes a lot of sense for everyone to take the next day, think on the offer and come back tomorrow ready to present their ideas.”

Goddamnit has a more infuriating human being ever existed?

Mimicking Madson, Rip folded his hands as well before responding.

“I understand Blake that to your feeble mind creating a ****ing powerpoint seems like a good idea. But I would prefer to actually get **** done and win ball games which is why we need to make this happen RIGHT ****ING NOW!”

“RIP! I won’t warn you again. I will tolerate zero obscene language inside my office.”

“FINE! But for all that is holy, please tell your barking dog to stop barking at me.” He said while pointing at Madson.

Jody Moncrief finally spoke up.

“Rip, why don’t you just walk us through why you think this deal makes so much sense. I think I might agree with you but it’s hard for us to follow your thought track right now.”

Fair enough.

Sighing, Rip sat down in one of the chairs across from Hale’s desk.

“Here’s what I like about this move. First off, X sucked at drafting. You all in this room know that and he blew it again the last draft with Morgan. Maybe the kid would have been decent but he blew his elbow out and it’s gonna take some time coming back from that. Rowe is a throwaway. He’s a decent enough person with decent enough tools but decent doesn’t win you shi-, I mean dog poo.” Rip said quickly stopping himself from dropping another obscenity in front of Hale. “As for Ramon, I love the man too, heck I’m the guy that initially found him and wrote that brilliant scouting report that convinced ya’ll to draft him. Remember? But what’s the point in having an elite closer if there are no games to close? Also, the market is over saturated with top end relief arms. When we need to compete we can easily grab one AND this deal sends us a good place to start with Robbins.”

Rip made eye contact with Hale.

“The prize of this deal is Austin Modderman. He’s gonna be an ace one day with Turnipseed. 6’7” 215 lbs with a dynamite cutter that leaves the bat stinging in hitters hands. At worst, he provides a backup option if Turnipseed flames out. At best, we have one of the top 1-2 punches in the NBL. Michael was the goal of this trade. He’s a plus-plus defensive shortstop with the upside to become a solid bat in the lineup as well. Has had an OPS+ of at least 100 the last 3 seasons. Finally, you got Mitch Robbins who is a hard-throwing lefty that can at least be our LOOGY down the road but could be a replacement for Ramon at closer. Bottom line, this move gives us 3 high-end prospects while getting us something for a talented closer we weren’t gonna keep in first place and dumps two mediocre arms out of the system.”

He looked around trying to read the faces of the other men in the room. After a moment of consideration, Moncrief answered.

“I’m in.” He looked at Hale. “It sucks getting rid of guys you like but that’s the business. I think Rip has it straight. Let’s get some good value out of a talented kid while we can and fill some holes for the future.”

Hale sighed. “What do you think Blake?”

The 45-year-old former OKC general manager took a moment to answer.

“I would prefer to take some more time,” he said glaring at Rip. “BUT if you want to know my immediate thoughts, I think it makes sense. I really like Modderman so he makes the deal almost worth it himself. Throw in Michael and it’s hard to pass up.”

“So it’s decided then,” Hale conceded. “While I hate to see him go, I do see your point Rip. Call, John back up. Let him know that we are ready to move forward with the deal.”

“Thank you, John.”

The group slowly made their way out of the office. When Rip stepped just outside the door he shouted, “**** YA!”

Hale stood up and roared, “RIP!”

Rip smiled mischievously, “As you can see dear sir, I am most definitely not still in your office!”

Then he sprinted away back towards his office to complete the deal, leaving the Billings owner both frustrated and amused behind.
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Old 11-18-2018, 02:25 PM   #18
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Trade 1 Recap

Ok so a quick look at those deals made starting first with the minor one.

Billings gets:
2B Jonah Williams

Las Vegas gets:
SP Curt Phelps

The first move of the day was a simple one. Williams is a solid 2B prospect out of Las Vegas’s system. He was a former 20th overall pick out of the supplemental round last season. He had a decent debut in Bakersville but we are hoping for a bit more out of his bat moving forward. We will probably start him off in Bismark (A) then hopefully midseason give him the bump to Cheyenne (AA). Hoping he can be on the opening day roster by 2007 but if he could make the jump in 2006 that would be awesome. He can play either 2B or SS and at worst would be a solid IF backup.

Phelps has the potential to be outstanding but injuries could steal it away. The former 2nd round pick has missed significant time in the past due to a fractured elbow and two years ago suffered a torn labrum he’s still recovering from. The Gamblers taking a bit of gamble hoping that they can get him healthy again and he reaches his possible solid back-end rotation potential.
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Old 11-18-2018, 03:15 PM   #19
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Trade 2 Recap

This was the big one that I debated for quite awhile on before pulling the trigger. It all started because Jacksonville was willing to trade me Michael straight up for Bracamontes but I felt I needed a bit more to justify the move. It then turned into this....

Billings gets:
SS Ryan Michael
SP Austin Modderman
CL Mitch Robbins

Jacksonville gets:
CL Ramon Bracamontes
SP Nate Morgan
SP Andy Rowe

With Jonah Williams and Ryan Michael, I think we have a solid middle infield pair of the future. They probably won't play together full time until 2007 but at least now have clear options there. Modderman ended up the prize of the deal. He's still pretty young and probably 3-4 years away from the major leagues but once he gets there should make a nice pair with Turnipseed. Robbins was a throw in to make #'s a bit more even

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Old 11-18-2018, 06:17 PM   #20
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Rip’s Notes - 10/25

Got an interesting phone call early this morning. Oklahoma City GM Chris Jones sent me an absolutely absurd trade proposal that involved us sending over OF Lorenzo Navarro and OF Zach Della Penna for their solid closer Ted Shy. While Shy is a half decent arm, he’s not a “give up two of our best prospects” type of arm.

But that got us talking and we ended up in a place where we both would consider a move that sends Navarro and SP Myles Thaxter to OKC in exchange for their outstanding 2-way player Ivan Noyola. He’s listed as a 2B but we project him at 3B. He would give us that power right-hand bat from 3B along with some decent defense. Plus, he’s very solid on the mound.

But I am not sure if he’s equal value to giving away Navarro. I like Navarro A LOT and only wanna move him for another elite prospect. Scouts don’t project him to be more than a standard starter but he’s been raking in the minors. We have to move some of these OFers to fill holes elsewhere but I wanna be smart about it.

Painfully I am gonna take Blake’s advice and use his dumbass 24-hour rule to think it over. Might see what else we could get for Navarro. A 3B would be a good pull plus he could help us now. Some tough decisions have to be made…..
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