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Old 04-01-2016, 11:06 AM   #1781
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Yes! Good luck in the World Series... *cuddling his own stuffed animal raccoon*
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Westheim (04-01-2016)
Old 04-01-2016, 12:29 PM   #1782
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2010 WORLD SERIES
Portland Raccoons (96-66) @ Cincinnati Cyclones (96-66)


The big stage! We’re there! It is exciting!

The Raccoons were entering the series in a good spot in terms of their roster. Jon Merritt came off the DL to join the team in time for the series, greatly improving the lineup – hopefully. Neither Santiago Trevino nor Walt Canning were removed from the playoff roster. Instead Conceicao Guerin was. He had batted .228 since coming over from the Scorpions and hadn’t really gotten past Rob Howell on our shortstop rankings. But truth be told, Walt Canning was probably going to start all games at short.

Since the CLCS had started a day earlier than the FLCS, the Raccoons as a whole had three days off before the World Series started, compared to one day for the Cyclones. It also enabled us to go the top of our rotation, Nick Brown starting Game 1 on five days’ rest, with Jong-hoo Umberger up to pitch on regular rest in Game 2.

Gil McDonald meanwhile was going to pitch Game 4 despite a strong performance in the CLCS by Colin Baldwin. While the Thunder had fielded a lineup consisting almost exclusively containing left-handed batters, much the opposite was true for the Cyclones, who had the terrible misfortune to have two of their best batters on the disabled list, with Will Bailey (.383, 20 HR, 94 RBI) and Sonny Reece (.338, 10 HR, 89 RBI) locked away on the DL as well as Marc Williams (.255, 3 HR, 35 RBI), the latter two being ex-Crusaders.

They did have their best pitching with a fulminant 1-2 pairing containing 2010 Triple Crown winner Tony Hamlyn (23-5, 2.00 ERA) and Nathan O’Herlihy (17-8, 2.83 ERA). While Hamlyn was the only left-handed starter, they had a generous complement of left-handed relievers including veterans Iemitsu Rin (all those Crusaders…), Ian Johnson and Ray Hoskins, as well as washed up Jason O’Halloran in long relief.

The Cyclones had scored 806 runs in the regular season and hadn’t been shy about scoring in the FLCS either, with the home run being a beloved tool for them, having hit 124 of those in the regular season. They were poor at base stealing, though, having gobbled up even less bags than the Raccoons in the regular season with only 35. The running game – with Tomas Castro on the DL especially – was probably not going to be a factor.

However, the series pitted a top 2 pitching staff from either league against another, but the second-best FL offense against the fifth-best (so, mostly average) offense from the CL, and that fifth-best offense from the lesser scoring league was still cold as ice. The Raccoons had logged only 45 hits, including 39 singles and six doubles, and nothing more sizeable, in the CLCS. “Paltry” would be too kind a word to describe their production.

With that in mind, despite the Cyclones having lost a few teeth, they still retained lots of them like ex-Coon César Gonzalez (.293, 25 HR, 95 RBI), Bob Hall (.276, 18 HR, 106 RBI) and Jose Silva (.275, 16 HR, 94 RBI), while the Coons had been limited to soup for a month, and the Cyclones entered the series as odds-on favorites, likely to win in five or six games.

2010 WORLD SERIES
Portland Raccoons (96-66) @ Cincinnati Cyclones (96-66)


Game 1 – Nick Brown (20-6, 2.70 ERA) vs. Nathan O’Herlihy (17-8, 2.83 ERA)

The 30-year old O’Herlihy had at least as good stuff as Nick Brown, striking out 234 batters or more for five straight years, despite only making 29 starts in one of those years. He was however home run prone. But… we’re talking about the Raccoons…

POR: 3B Merritt – 2B Nomura – RF Alston – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – SS Canning – C Bowen – CF White – P Brown
CIN: 3B Banda – 1B C. Gonzalez – 2B Spinu – RF J. Silva – SS Hall – LF P. Estrada – CF Blackburn – C F. Hernandez – P O’Herlihy

Matt Pruitt drove a ball to deep left in the first inning, already displaying that if you got a straight fastball from O’Herlihy, you could indeed to damage – but not this time. Pruitt fell well short ultimately, with Pedro Estrada catching the ball in front of the warning track. Nick Brown whiffed two in a perfect first before Adrian Quebell opened the second inning with a jack to right – hey, the Raccoons can still hit homers! Awesome!

Despite a Jose Silva single, Nick Brown faced the minimum through three innings, and also had a single to start the top 3rd, but didn’t progress further than second base. Bowen had a single in the fourth, and nothing came of that, either. Brownie then started the bottom of the inning with a 3-0 count on Alfredo Banda, which was probably nothing that was required for the Coons to win. Or desired. Or allowed. But Banda poked at 3-0 and grounded out to Yoshi, which spared the Coons a run in the inning – but Brown still allowed two. With two outs, Georg Spinu singled, Jose Silva doubled to plate Spinu, and then scored on Bob Hall’s single. None of the three hits were particularly soft.

A chance to come back from the 2-1 deficit developed soon when Brown led off the top 5th and reached on a Spinu error. After Merritt struck out (his third in three attempts to see O’Herlihy’s stuff), Yoshi walked and Ron Alston singled softly to center. The bases were loaded with one out for Matt Pruitt, who rolled the perfect grounder to Spinu, who would have turned the double play if Ron Alston hadn’t taken out Bob Hall with a slide. The run scored, the game was tied, but Quebell popped out to strand a pair.

Brownie had struck out eight through five innings, but ran into trouble with the middle of the lineup again in the bottom of the sixth. Cesar Gonzalez made a hard out to start the inning. Spinu bounced back to Brown for the second out, but Silva hit a 2-2 pitch to deep left for a double. Bob Hall also ran the count to 2-2 when Brown threw him a screw that completely screwed Hall as he knotted himself up trying to jab it away. Strikeout swinging, game tied 2-2 through six.

The top 7th opened with Merritt, who was handed the golden sombrero by O’Herlihy, who was reaching 120 pitches by now, having whiffed eight. Nomura grounded out, but Alston singled to left, which was the sign for the Cyclones to make a move to the pen. But with all the left-handers available, they brought in right-hander Ron Funderburk to face Matt Pruitt, who walked, and then Quebell hit with two on, lined a ball up the rightfield line, it bounced just fair and all the way to the corner, with Silva scurrying after it. Alston scored, Pruitt scored, Quebell slid in with a 2-run triple! A triple! Quebell!!

Brown also didn’t finish the seventh. After striking out ten, including Shawn Blackburn for the second out in the seventh, he walked Felix Hernandez and looked a bit out of shape. When the Cyclones sent a right-hander to bat for the successless Funderburk, Raúl Hernandez, Ray Kelley was tasked with his removal, gave up a first-pitch double, then had to face Banda, who tried to hold his swing on a low 1-2 pitch. Bowen shot up to get an opinion from the third base umpire, who empathically fisted out Banda and the inning ended with the tying runners in scoring position!

Pat White’s infield single in the eighth didn’t amount to much, but Ron Alston would make a strong catch on a Spinu liner in the bottom of the inning to prevent Law Rockburn to have a man on with one out. Angel Casas was set up to protect a 4-2 lead against Bob Hall, Pedro Estrada, and Shawn Blackburn. He struck out Hall, but Estrada doubled over Quebell into right, and the tying run came to bat, but the Cyclones didn’t have much in terms of power in the bottom of their order. But Angel walking Blackburn in a full count was not really advancing our cause. Yet, Felix Hernandez went down flailing, but now Dan Morris batted for reliever Iemitsu Rin, and Morris was known to pack a punch. Oh, merely 407 career home runs. He was, however, also 39 years old, and you slow down when you get older. Slowing down was a bad idea when facing Angel Casas, because Angel Casas was not going to adjust for you. Morris couldn’t adjust however, and struck out to hand the opener to the Coons!

4-2 Raccoons (POR lead 1-0); Alston 2-3, 2 BB; Quebell 2-5, HR, 3B, 3 RBI; Bowen 2-4, 2B; Brown 6.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 10 K, W (1-2) and 1-3;

The Cyclones struck out 15 times in this game, while Merritt had almost half of the Coons’ nine whiffs.

Game 2 – Jong-hoo Umberger (18-8, 3.28 ERA) vs. Juan Garcia (11-12, 4.66 ERA)

Tony Hamlyn had pitched in Game 7 and just wasn’t available yet, so the Cyclones had to resort to the at-best-middling Juan Garcia. Just a few years earlier, Garcia had achieved a unique performance in the ABL however: in 2008 he pitched the so far only perfect game, against the Buffaloes.

POR: 3B Merritt – 2B Nomura – RF Alston – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – SS Canning – C Bowen – CF White – P Umberger
CIN: 1B C. Gonzalez – LF D. Morris – 2B Spinu – RF J. Silva – SS Hall – CF P. Estrada – 3B Banda – C F. Hernandez – P J. Garcia

The Coons wasted a good chance in the top of the first, when they put three men on, but didn’t score. Merritt hit a leadoff single to try to get over his 0-5, 4 K performance in Game 1, but Yoshi hit into a double play. Alston and Pruitt reached in succession, but Quebell popped out foul.

Umberger sat down the first eight batters before inexplicably walking the pitcher Garcia. César Gonzalez grounded out in a full count, thankfully, to not let something ugly develop. Umberger wouldn’t allow a hit until with two outs in the fourth, when Silva and Hall hit singles in succession to go to the corners, but the situation was diffused when Quebell made a headlong catch on a foul pop off Pedro Estrada’s bat.

The Raccoons struggled to get sound contact off Garcia, mostly hitting groundballs. Merritt hit a 2-out single, a roller between Banda and Hall, in the fifth inning, but Nomura grounded out after that.

Issues arose in the bottom of the sixth, when César Gonzalez reached second base leading off in the scoreless contest after Yoshi Nomura threw away his groundball. Umberger struck out Morris before he just lost it and walked three batters in a row. Law Rockburn replaced Umberger, but did nothing to relief the situation. Estrada hit a fly to center that White caught, but couldn’t get Spinu at home, with the Cyclones going up 2-0. But things were already well out of control. Rockburn allowed singles to Banda and Hernandez and the Cyclones put up a 5-spot in the inning, all but defeating the Raccoons and equalizing the series.

But, TECHNICALLY there were still three innings in which the Cyclones had to log outs, and Craig Bowen opened the seventh with a double to right. Howell batted for Rockburn and singled and Merritt wrestled a walk from Garcia, loading the sacks with one out. If we could get a big hit or two, that would be fantastic. Nomura struck out before Alston worked a walk, pushing in the Coons’ first run and bringing up Pruitt as the tying run.

The Cyclones didn’t look willing to replace Garcia in this situation, trusting his perfect game stuff that had issued six strikeouts and four walks so far in the game. Pruitt didn’t let it get that for and cracked a 1-1 pitch to deep center. It wasn’t going to leave, but Estrada wasn’t going to catch it either. It was in there, and went to the wall, as Pruitt emptied the bases with a 3-run double!

Quebell grounded out, sending the game to the bottom 7th, where Thrasher started with a 3-2 single hit by César Gonzalez, and when Raúl Hernandez hit for Dan Morris we moved on to Ray Kelley, who also struggled to throw strikes, but somehow made it through the inning. The Coons were still down 5-4.

But they had the tying run on base with a Canning single to start the eighth inning, now facing Iemitsu Rin. Unfortunately Bowen found it necessary to hit into a double play, killing the chance.

It would have to be against left-handed closer Ian Johnson in the ninth inning. Keith Ayers led off, batting for Kelley, who had pitched two innings. Ayers struck out, and when Johnson also blasted his way through Merritt with another strikeout, the odds for the Coons trended against zero. And there Yoshi was already done striking out.

5-4 Cyclones (series tied 1-1); Merritt 2-4, BB; Pruitt 3-3, BB, 2B, 3 RBI; Howell (PH) 1-1; Kelley 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K;

The offense just isn’t working. But if it hadn’t been for that complete blowup between Umberger and Rockburn, we even might have squeezed through with a 2-0 lead on the way to Portland.

But it ain’t so. Series tied, see you in two days in Portland.
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Old 04-01-2016, 02:06 PM   #1783
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2010 WORLD SERIES
Portland Raccoons (96-66) vs. Cincinnati Cyclones (96-66)


Game 3 – Javier Cruz (15-10, 3.38 ERA) vs. Tony Hamlyn (23-5, 2.00 ERA)

Y’know, with Hamlyn in Game 3, it dawns on me that we might want to try and win in six games… because I would hate to face him in Game 7. Oh, oh, I fear the worst for our lineup in this game.

CIN: 1B C. Gonzalez – LF D. Morris – 2B Spinu – RF J. Silva – SS B. Hall – CF P. Estrada – 3B Banda – C F. Hernandez – P Hamlyn
POR: 3B Merritt – CF White – LF Alston – RF Ayers – 1B Pruitt – SS Canning – C Bowen – 2B Nomura – P Cruz

Javier Cruz had gotten clobbered in his start in the CLCS and the Cyclones didn’t take long to get a run off him. In the second inning it was Silva with a single before Bob Hall also walked. A 2 on, 0 outs situation was really not desired at this point, and while the Cyclones’ Estrada and Banda both grounded out that still scored the first run of the game.

Hamlyn sat down the Coons in order in the first two innings, then chipped a single off Cruz to start the third inning. Oh, this one was trouble. Cruz was a mess, walked Gonzalez and Morris, and the bases were loaded with no outs. He threw a wild pitch in the course of walking Georg Spinu, and after two plus innings was yanked. Ray Kelley got out of the inning with only one additional run scoring, but come on, with Hamlyn pitching and a 3-0 deficit this game was about over.

While the Raccoons moved on to log five outs with Beltran and four with Ted Reese without the Cyclones getting something countable, the Raccoons had Bowen and Merritt on base in the bottom 3rd before Pat White grounded out, then had White on base with a 1-out single in the bottom 6th before Ron Alston hit into a double play.

Colin Baldwin was in to pitch the last three innings in this depressing contest and had a clean seventh. Hamlyn had not been in danger for a long, long time (the entire game?), so when Matt Pruitt hit a 1-out double in the seventh, the Cyclones weren’t necessarily concerned. Canning grounded out before Bowen lined a pitch hard past César Gonzalez, whose glove swipe was well late on this rocket. The ball raced to the wall, which it hit at an odd angle and dropped dead right in front of it. By the time Jose Silva was getting it back in, Pruitt had long scored and had had a cold one, and Craig Bowen was at third base. If Yoshi now could - … no, he struck out.

Down 3-1, Baldwin plunked a batter in the eighth but wasn’t booked for it. The bottom of the inning he was sent batting because Hamlyn was completely locked in and undefeatable. Baldwin grounded out, Merritt grounded out, White popped behind the second base bag, but Bob Hall lost it somewhere and the ball fell in for a single. That won’t be something that will faze Hamlyn. And Alston hadn’t done damage in a good long while, either. Alston grounded shyly to the right side of the mound, but Hamlyn couldn’t grab it as it bobbled past him, and Gonzalez was slow to come in on those 37-year old legs and nobody had a play – safe at first!

And now Keith Ayers was batting, 1-for-17 in the playoffs. Yet, Quebell was on the bench, and the Raccoons made the highly shrewd move to hit a left-hander for a right-hander against a left-handed ace. Call it desperation. The count ran full in an 8-pitch battle until Quebell lined a ball over Bob Hall, and it dropped in for a single! White scored, and Alston went to third! Tying run on third base for Pruitt with two outs! Hamlyn vs. Pruitt, and Pruitt popped out on the first pitch……

Baldwin put two on in the ninth but then faced the top of the order, struck out switch-hitter Gonzalez for the second out, but then Dan Morris drove a ball to deep right center. Pat White scurrying after it, was it going to? Was it …? No, it’s caught on the track! Inning over, and the Coons now faced Ian Johnson again.

How do you make up a run against Ian Johnson, who was unscored upon in the playoffs? He had struck out 110 batters in the regular season in just over 70 innings. You weren’t going to like your chances, especially with the 6-7-8 batters up. Just like that Johnson threw four balls to Canning. But Bowen struck out, and when Nomura hit a ball high to left center, it was too high and not far enough, and easily caught out there. Travis Owens batted for Baldwin, hit the first pitch up the middle, and it went through for a single. In theory, the winning runs were on base for Jon Merritt. You know what we could really use right now? A triple.

The Cyclones were not the Make A Request Foundation, though. So when Jon Merritt hit the first pitch he saw through Alfredo Banda and up the line, even the wobbly Dan Morris managed to cut it off before it reached the wall. However! Canning was in to score, and Owens was at third base! Come on! Pat! White! Pat! White! Pat! White! Grounded out to Banda – extra innings.

And then it all went rather quickly. Angel Casas was in for the tenth inning, but allowed a leadoff single to Georg Spinu, and threw a wild pitch after striking out Silva and Hall. Pedro Estrada battled off three 2-2 pitches before sneaking a grounder past Canning to plate Spinu from third base. Ian Johnson erased Alston, Quebell, and Pruitt in the bottom of the inning rather effortlessly.

4-3 Cyclones (CIN leads 2-1); Merritt 2-5, 2B, RBI; White 2-5; Quebell (PH) 1-2, RBI; Bowen 2-4, 3B, RBI; Owens (PH) 1-1; Beltran 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K; Reese 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K; Baldwin 3.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K;

Well. ****.

Game 4 – Gil McDonald (8-3, 3.07 ERA) vs. Jeremiah Bowman (11-13, 3.66 ERA)

Tony Hamlyn would return in Cincinnati, so the Raccoons had no choice: they had to win the last two games at home. There was no option, and no “perhaps”. They were still scoring only three runs flat per playoff game. And they certainly had had enough chances in Game 3. Suckage had to stop right now.

CIN: 1B C. Gonzalez – LF D. Morris – 2B Spinu – RF J. Silva – SS Hall – CF P. Estrada – 3B Banda – C F. Hernandez – P Bowman
POR: 3B Merritt – 2B Nomura – RF Alston – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – SS Canning – C Bowen – CF White – P McDonald

The battlecry of “Suckage stops here” was dashed on the first pitch of the game, with César Gonzalez homering to dead center. The Raccoons responded with Nomura walking and Alston singling in the bottom of the inning before Pruitt and Quebell both popped out over the infield.

Where Javier Cruz had pitched two innings before blowing Game 3, McDonald didn’t even make it as far. Alfredo Banda’s solo job got the Cyclones to 2-0 in the second, but the inning was far from over. Felix Hernandez singled, and then McDonald drilled Jeremiah Bowman with the first pitch. César Gonzalez took exception to that and crashed a 3-run homer that completely silenced the park.

At that point it hardly mattered. 5-0 in the second inning, but there wasn’t enough bullpen available to get through this game as it was right now. We tried to get at least a few more frames off McDonald, but the experiment ended with Banda’s 2-out, 2-run double in the third inning. Josh Gibson, who had only pitched two thirds of an inning in the CLCS and squid in the World Series, was placed in the 7-0 blowout. There’s that ball, Josh. It’s all yours.

By the middle innings, the commentators on national television were discussing their Thanksgiving plans. There really is only so much suspense that can be created when the team that trails by seven runs isn’t even getting a runner into scoring position. After each leadoff double (or heck, single) you can raise your voice and declare, oh, but NOW they’re about to mount a comeback. The Raccoons did not appear to do anything like that. The Raccoons appeared to lay down and die.

Oh wait! Movement! Because nobody cared, Gibson batted leading off the bottom 5th, and singled. Merritt reached base, and then Ron Alston hit an RBI double. Now, the tying run was somewhere in the tunnel, but perhaps they could for once just keep that old line moving. Matt Pruitt batted with one out and two runs in scoring position. Bowman came pretty fat down the middle, Pruitt’s whiskers twitched and he liked that one. A shot to right! Gone and done!! A 7-0 deficit hacked to 7-4, that was good start for sure!

Gibson conceded a run in the sixth after a leadoff double by Banda, but Bowen hit a leadoff single in the bottom 6th. White popped out, and Gutierrez batted for Gibson and dinked a single into center. Jon Merritt came up and lined a pitch to left and well past the range of Dan Morris, who still got a favorable bounce off the wall, holding Merritt to an RBI double. But! 8-5 Cyclones, true, but the tying run was on base and the big bats were going to come up (with the Cyclones getting their pen moving). But who needs a pen? Nomura popped out and Alston grounded out, and the runners were stuck in scoring position.

The Cyclones got a run off Ted Reese in the eighth inning, with the Raccoons silent until the bottom of the ninth. Trailing by four runs, Jon Merritt drew a leadoff walk against Iemitsu Rin. When Howell hit a pinch-hit single in Nomura’s place, the tying run was in the on-deck circle, and the Cyclones moved on to Ian Johnson again. And we just couldn’t bat for our left-handed heart of the lineup. They had to get it done against the left-hander! They had to! They didn’t. Alston hit into a double play. Nobody cared much for Pruitt’s RBI single. Quebell struck out.

9-6 Cyclones (CIN lead 3-1); Merritt 2-4, BB, 2B, RBI; Howell (PH) 1-1; Alston 3-5, RBI; Pruitt 2-5, HR, 4 RBI; Canning 2-4; Gutierrez (PH) 1-1;

If nothing else, I have something I can scribble down in my tiny black book of game strategies. 34 years into a job, you still learn new things. (scribbles) “****ty starting pitching and ****ty offense don’t match well.”

Game 5 – Nick Brown (20-6, 2.70 ERA) vs. Nathan O’Herlihy (17-8, 2.83 ERA)

Nick Brown faced elimination, and if we look at his previous history in do-or-die games against the Crusaders, this is not something that will get him more focused. Perhaps it will get him undone early.

CIN: 3B Banda – 1B C. Gonzalez – 2B Spinu – RF Silva – SS Hall – LF P. Estrada – CF Blackburn – C F. Hernandez – P O’Herlihy
POR: 3B Merritt – 2B Nomura – RF Alston – LF Pruitt – 1B Quebell – C Bowen – CF White – SS Howell – P Brown

At least the Raccoons wouldn’t go down without some noise. Brown’s scoreless first was followed by Nomura getting on against O’Herlihy, and then a colossal homer by Ron Alston. The Cyclones would concede another run after a César Gonzalez error in the inning, and the Raccoons held a 3-0 lead early on. Now they just had to have some ace in Brownie to make another trip to Cincy.

Bob Hall led off the second inning with a single to shallow left that he thought would for sure get past Pruitt, but very wasn’t. Hall found himself narrowly tagged out at second base. While the Cyclones couldn’t hurt Brownie early, O’Herlihy was in a boat load of trouble in the bottom of the second. Merritt drew a 1-out walk, and then Yoshi and Alston singled to load them up. Yet, Pruitt popped out and Quebell whiffed, and the score remained 3-0.

Not that that solved O’Herlihy’s pain. Bottom 3rd, Bowen got on, White got on, and Howell got on. Bases loaded, no outs, Brownie batting. O’Herlihy struck out Brown and Merritt before Yoshi drew a bases-loaded walk. Alston lifted out to center. Oh, if that wasn’t going to hurt rather soon.

The Cyclones first threatened really badly in the fifth inning, when Estrada and Blackburn appeared on base with a single and walk and nobody out. Hernandez struck out and the Cyclones retained a beaten up O’Herlihy to bunt them into scoring position. Alfredo Banda had 11 RBI in the postseason and Brown had to stop from adding to that, and got Banda to rip over a 2-2 screw to end the inning.

While O’Herlihy was gone halfway through the fifth inning, the Raccoons couldn’t get to reliever Kyle Mullins in the fifth or the sixth. Brown got stuck in the top 7th however, in which Estrada singled and Hernandez drew a 1-out walk. When right-hander Salvadaro Lourine hit for Mullins, we moved to Law Rockburn. One out, two on, there’s no room for bad stuff here!

But seemingly for errors. Lourine hit a grounder to Yoshi, whose throw to Howell was wide and into leftfield. The Cyclones had the bases loaded with the top of the order coming up. Alfredo Banda hit a clean RBI single into center, and another run scored on Gonzalez’ groundout. The Cyclones had just chipped off half of our can’t-give-away lead, which could have been so much bigger.

Bowen’s drive to center off Ron Funderburk was caught by Shawn Blackburn, which was all the Coons did in the seventh, and Blackburn was batting as the tying run in the top 8th with Bob Hall on second and two outs. Rockburn was replaced by Thrasher to face the left-handed Blackburn, with Thrasher’s 1-1 pitch driven deep to left by Blackburn. Pruitt was hustling after it and made the catch over his shoulder!

Angel Casas inherited the 4-2 lead in the ninth. Felix Hernandez started the inning, and struck out. Dan Morris struck out. Banda hit a bouncer to the left of the mound, and Angel Casas played it himself and threw a strike to first to end the game.

4-2 Raccoons (CIN lead 3-2); Nomura 2-4, BB, RBI; Alston 2-4, BB, HR, 2 RBI; White 2-4, RBI; Canning (PH) 1-1; Brown 6.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, W (2-2);

See ya in Cincy.
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1983 * 1989 * 1991 * 1992 * 1993 * 1995 * 1996 * 2010 * 2017 * 2018 * 2019 * 2026 * 2028
1 OSANAI
: 2 POWELL : 8 REECE : 10 BROWN : 15 HALL : 28 CASAS : 32 WEST : 46 SAITO

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Old 04-01-2016, 02:46 PM   #1784
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2010 WORLD SERIES
Portland Raccoons (96-66) @ Cincinnati Cyclones (96-66)


Game 6 – Jong-hoo Umberger (18-8, 3.28 ERA) vs. Tony Hamlyn (23-5, 2.00 ERA)

The Cyclones announced on the travel day that Georg Spinu had hurt his elbow on a defensive play in Game 5 and that he was unavailable for the rest of the series. Spinu at the keystone or rather not, the Cyclones declared Game 6 to be Go Time, and Tony Hamlyn would start on short rest to erase the Raccoons before they could make a mess of Cincinnati’s well groomed trash cans.

Adrian Quebell was batting .140 in the playoffs, and while Keith Ayers’ .056 was horrible as well, at least he was a right-hander. He wouldn’t bat cleanup, though. For the heck, why shouldn’t Alston and Pruitt bat back-to-back?

POR: 3B Merritt – CF White – LF Alston – 1B Pruitt – C Bowen – RF Ayers – SS Howell – 2B Nomura – P Umberger
CIN: LF D. Morris – CF P. Estrada – RF J. Silva – 1B C. Gonzalez – SS Hall – 2B D. Fletcher – 3B Banda – C F. Hernandez – P Hamlyn

Both teams had a deep drive in the first that ended up caught, Merritt for the Coons, and Estrada for the Cyclones.

Neither team had a runner until Nomura hit a 1-out single in the third inning, but after Umberger’s bunt Jon Merritt couldn’t come up with anything and Yoshi was left on second base. Pruitt had a single in the fourth, which didn’t lead to anything, either, but Umberger remained untouched through four frames.

This game developed into a really exciting pitching duel. The Cyclones remained turned down through five, and Hamlyn got Umberger and Merritt to start the top of the sixth before Pat White scratched out a walk, only the third runner in the entire game. Maybe this was it. Ron Alston had hit a ball pretty well, yet into an out, in his previous attempt. Maybe Alston … would strike out.

The Cyclones finally materialized on base in the bottom of the sixth. Alfredo Banda hit a leadoff single, but got forced out by Felix Hernandez, who in turn was thrown out by Umberger on a poor bunt by Hamlyn, and Dan Morris struck out to end the inning.

After Tony Hamlyn struck out Pruitt and Bowen in the top 7th, Ayers hit a liner to the right side, only for Dave Fletcher to lunge and grab it. Umberger removed Estrada to start the bottom of the inning before Jose Silva’s grounder was thrown away by Jon Merritt. Oh … craps…

The World Series-winning run was on second base with one out, and Umberger gave his all, striking out César Gonzalez before his count with Bob Hall ran full. Hall grounded a ball hard to left, Howell didn’t get it, and by the time Alston could throw home, Silva had already scored. Fletcher grounded out, but the damage had been done, and the writing was on the wall. Portland 0, Cincinnati 1. And there were only six outs left to mount something for the team that hadn’t reached third base against Hamlyn the entire game. And it wasn’t like Hamlyn’s pitch count was up. He entered the eighth on 84 pitches and faced the bottom of the order.

The unthinkable happened: the Raccoons stood up on their hind paws, showed their teeth and hissed as Rob Howell hit a leadoff double to left in the eighth. What now? Play for one run? Yoshi was a poor bunter, but Umberger was an even worse hitter, and it wasn’t like Jon Merritt (.250) was a hit waiting to fall in. Most singles would do to stave off elimination for now. No, Yoshi would bat like a man here. He drove a pitch to right, Silva caught it, but at least Howell moved to third base. We HAD to bat for Umberger. Walt Canning grabbed a bat, but his poor out kept Howell on third. Jon Merritt batted with two strikes on him virtually instantly, but the count ran full before Hamlyn surrendered a liner to shallow right. THAT’S IN!! THAT’S IN AND IT COUNTS!! Tied game!!

White flew out. For the bottom 8th, Ray Kelley was in for exactly one batter, Banda, before Ron Thrasher would see the switch-hitting Hernandez and the left-handers Blackburn and Morris. Preferably one less, though. Kelley through only one pitch, which Banda singled on, and we had a mess on our paws. Felix Hernandez bunted over the runner before Raúl Hernandez, a right-hander, hit for Blackburn, who had just entered in the double switch that removed Hamlyn. No, we really wanted Thrasher to face Morris. No, he’d face Hernandez. He’s a utility player for a reason, yet he singled real hard to left. TOO hard even: Banda had to hold at third base because the ball was already with Alston before he had made it to third base.

Thrasher struck out Morris before right-hander Salvadaro Lourine appeared to hit for Rin in the #2 hole.

(calmly shoves all chips into the middle of the table)

Angel Casas came in right now. That run must not score. That run must absolutely not score! Angel whiffed Lourine, and the game remained tied.

Top 9th, it was Johnson (…!) facing Alston, Pruitt, and Bowen. I’d give an arm and a leg for a homer right now. Once Alston was done wasting a 3-1 count with a grounder to first, Pruitt singled up the middle. Bowen was a living strikeout, but Ayers was batting .048! Whom were we even counting on to score a run here!? But Bowen chose a good strategy. Don’t look at strikes until you’re done! Rip right away! He ripped right away, a shot to center, ramming hard off the centerfield wall, and the Raccoons had runners on second and third with one out! We weren’t going to Quebell right now. At some point Keith Ayers had to hit a ball and somehow he had to find a way to be out at home. He was out at home, kinda, striking out, and Howell popped out on the first pitch. Nobody scored, the winning runs were left in scoring position.

César Gonzalez (…!!!) hit a 1-out double off Angel in the bottom of the ninth, and a groundout by Bob Hall later, the rookie Dave Fletcher was batting against Angel Casas with the title run at third base. Fletcher didn’t wait around forever, either, and raked after Angel’s first pitch, driving it to right. Ayers dashed after that ball, which kept growing longer and longer and longer, and finally vanished behind the wall.

3-1 Cyclones (CIN wins 4-2); Pruitt 2-4; Umberger 7.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K;
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Old 04-01-2016, 08:07 PM   #1785
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Ouch, Portland kicked in the small, furry testicles again, losing the World Series in the worst possible way.

On the biggest stage, the team "reverted" to the Portland team of old, with Nick Brown carrying a sub-par team to mediocrity. Portland won both Brownie starts, and lost the other four games -- and with momentum in their favor and Brown taking the mound, they probably would have took the series if it went to 7 games.

But, after the Cincinatti Rookie Fletcher took the ball over the fence, it was not to be.

And at the end of the day, Portland hung Brown out to dry [again] on the biggest stage. Given his recent fortunes, it wouldn't be surprising to see Brown in the scrap heap soon, having expended a great career for a small-minded owner team that wasn't willing to spend to make the playoffs.
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Old 04-01-2016, 08:12 PM   #1786
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Thanks to the Coons, I broke my sobriety streak of a whopping four days. Then again as a Cubbies fan I am used to saying wait until next year.
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Old 04-01-2016, 09:48 PM   #1787
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Ouch. Gut-wrenching.
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Old 04-02-2016, 03:52 AM   #1788
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Final roundup of 2010. Not much to say in general, except...

2010 WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS
CINCINNATI CYCLONES

(2nd title)

Brownie would not have started Game 7 on two days' rest, but he damn sure would have sat available in the pen. I had already made up my mind for Colin Baldwin to start the game. But well, the point is moot. Runners on second and third and one out had been the bane of this team all year long.

And looking at how close the Thunder were to extinguishing us in the first place... the Raccoons wiggled out of some insane spots in the CLCS.

Ah...

I'd say we trade for Fletcher, then DFA him, just for the mindspins.
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Old 04-02-2016, 09:01 AM   #1789
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that was a fun run... even though it didnt lead to the ultimate prize. it was still a memorable season for me... i love how the game creates its own stories. fletcher was the top pick in the draft a few seasons ago, n up until this point it didnt look like he was going to amount to much, interesting to see what this does for him. im sure u could care less about the former number 1 pick, but still interesting never the less... cant wait for next season. what do u feel the biggest needs are for the coons?
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Old 04-02-2016, 09:38 AM   #1790
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I have to correct you there, but Fletcher was the #13 pick in the 2004 draft. (The way I set up the window for OOTP that makes it work for me cuts of the line at a very inconvenient point, true…) Not that it matters all that much. The #13 pick in ’04 beat the #7 pick in ’03. There are tears, but they will dry eventually.

Detailed findings later, but apart from Alston we have a few more departures, and we face a hefty bill to retain Jong-hoo Umberger, who is 32, but will be under team control until he’s 35 since he was signed out of Japan. His 3-yr, $3M deal from February 2008 expires now.

I don’t think a breakup is called for right now. Ron Alston was pedestrian in 2010, and most other key personnel will stick around. I can’t say a lot about what our future rightfield plans are right now, because so far I don’t have any. Right and short are really the only positions where we aren’t set going into next season. Quebell will be a free agent after 2011. That’s gonna be fun.

LVA Ricardo Garcia, who hit 28 homers this year, is a free agent this season. In total he had almost 90 extra base hits. His RF defense is average at best, but Alston’s wasn’t that good either. He bats right-handed, which would balance the lineup… He steals about 10 bags a year, but he’s a living strikeout. I don’t know.

Much depends on how far Carlosito will open his wallet anyway. No I haven’t checked yet.
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Old 04-02-2016, 10:05 PM   #1791
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Westheim;4013653

Much depends on how far Carlosito will open his wallet anyway. [i
No I haven’t checked yet.[/i]
In that case, I guess you're prepping for the rebuild as we speak? Who's getting shipped out first?
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Old 04-04-2016, 09:33 AM   #1792
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Our very own crossbreed between Uncle Scrooge and Cthulhu was not amused after the 2010 season. Not only that the Raccoons hadn’t grasped the opportunity and had lost the World Series, no, Carlosito was still substantially unhappy over the loss of Luke Black (.245, 11 HR, 53 RBI in 2010), and that we weren’t stealing bases (ranked 9th in the CL), which clearly had been the way of winning games since times immemorial.

The very generous spender that he was, he granted the Raccoons a budget raise from $22.8M to $24.2M, albeit highly reluctantly.

You can say what you want, but at last the Raccoons will thus be average in money available, sitting t-12th with the Capitals at $24.2M and thus right at the median. The average budget will be $24.55M. The biggest discrepancies continue to be seen in the CL North, with the Crusaders able to blow $35.5M, the Titans just behind that at $31.5M (3rd overall), the Canadiens and Indians at the end of the top 10, and the Loggers dead last – DEAD last – with $15.4M. The Top 5 were completed by the 2nd place Cyclones ($35M), 4th Thunder ($29.6M), and 5th Miners ($29M). The Condors head the bottom 5 with a $20M budget, with the Rebels, Wolves, and Aces all between $18M and $19M. And well, then the Loggers.



The raise in money is of course bound to signing Ron Alston to an extension. Well, yeah. That’s not going to work out.

Ron Alston was an absolute steal for $1.94M a year so far. He might easily rake double that on the market now, despite coming off his worst season in ten years. Despite the additional $1.4M in terms of budget, the Raccoons weren’t going to be big spenders on the free agent market, because we already had a good chunk of seven-digit earners.

For 2011, we already had five and a half of those on the roster. Huh? Yes. We have the following 7-figure deals on the books for 2011 and beyond:

Nick Brown - $2.2M (thru 2014)
Craig Bowen - $1.9M (thru 2015)
Jon Merritt - $1.25M (thru 2014)
Angel Casas - $1.25M (rising to $1.45M thru 2013)
Tomas Castro - $1M (rising to $1.2M thru 2012)

Add to that Jong-hoo Umberger, who will be arbitration available for the first time and has a $1.5M estimate. Plus Adrian Quebell’s $920k arbitration estimate, and Yoshi Nomura’s $550k, and well, there are very few guaranteed contracts after that, but almost $12M of the budget was already bundled up for 11 players.

Which brings us nicely to the salary arbitration and free agency round of 2010. Below are first our arbitration eligible players with service time, 2010 production, 2010 salary, and 2011 estimate, and then our free agents.

SP Colin Baldwin – 3.029 – (8-7, 3.83 ERA) - minimum - $360k
SP Jong-hoo Umberger – 3.000 – (18-8, 3.28 ERA) - $1M - $1.5M
SP Kenichi Watanabe – 3.117 – (3-6, 4.93 ERA) - $250k - $280k
1B Adrian Quebell – 5.027 – (.325, 14 HR, 82 RBI) - $680k - $920k
INF Manuel Gutierrez – 4.004 – (.225, 0 HR, 8 RBI) - $230k - $260k
SS Rob Howell – 4.090 – (.237, 2 HR, 26 RBI) - $360k - $400k
LF/1B Matt Pruitt – 3.167 – (.317, 10 HR, 75 RBI) - $333k - $410k
CF Santiago Trevino – 4.002 – (.225, 2 HR, 18 RBI) - $230k - $260k
RF/LF Keith Ayers – 3.028 – (.255, 9 HR, 42 RBI) - minimum - $230k

LF/RF Ron Alston – (.286, 22 HR, 85 RBI) - $1.94M - type A free agent
SP Javier Cruz – (15-10, 3.38 ERA) - $1M - type B free agent
MR Ray Kelley – (4-7, 2.99 ERA) - $390k - type B free agent
SS Conceicao Guerin – (.240, 1 HR, 10 RBI) - $264k - no compensation



Well, for starters, we’re short on starting pitching. We have Brownie, Baldwin, and Umberger – who should really be signed to a team-friendly 4-year deal at age 32 – aboard, plus we seemingly still have control over Watanabe, to everybody’s thrill, but beyond that it gets rather thin. We know what to think of Watanabe, we know that the big hope Hector Santos will miss most, if not all, of 2011 after Tommy John surgery, and we damn sure know that Brendan Teasdale is no help dead or alive. Which brings us back to the plan from 12 months ago when we tried to get another year from Javier Cruz at a reduced rate, only to pay a $300k increase from his $700k salary. His despicable performance in the postseason aside, we really needed a warm body to eat up innings at the back of the rotation, and right now that still leaves the fifth spot wide open.

Well, there are a few good news about the 2011 roster, too. The bullpen looks good enough, even though I would like to keep Ray Kelley around. Having Ted Reese as the second-most senior right-hander (excluding Angel Casas here) was not entirely happy-making. But Kelley might cost half a million, AND he’s compensation eligible, all of which is working against continued employment. Plus, Pat Slayton will be back. It should be possible to find a serviceable seventh inning right-hander at less than Kelley’s 2010 salary.

Four positions around the infield are set with Bowen behind the dish, plus Quebell, Nomura, and Merritt. At shortstop however, we have a bit of a jigsaw puzzle on our hands, with some of the pieces duplicated, but all the corners missing. Between Walt Canning, Rob Howell, and Concie Guerin’s second tour of duty in Portland, we harvested substantially below-league-average production at the position. An upgrade might be financially prohibitive, though, since we have a gaping hole in rightfield.

Ron Alston can’t be resigned, since he’s asking for $4M and up, and the Raccoons at best have $2.6M to play with (and that is before Javier Cruz would be extended). We have Pruitt in left, and Castro in center (whenever he feels like he’s well enough to play), and Pat White is still around as a backup. There’s Keith Ayers with his mixed success (like being out at home, which I’m still not over), and Trevino, who really shouldn’t be on any major league roster.

There are two possible solutions to the rightfield issue. We either find a left-handed batter with so-so credentials to platoon Ayers with, or we blow some money on a free agent. Like I said Ricardo Garcia of the Aces and also Jose Morales of the Knights are free agents this season.

Yet, there are caveats here. First, Ayers’ .736 OPS in 2010 was primarily achieved against left-handed pitching in the first place, so it’s not like he’s gonna get much better. Second, it’s not like Garcia and Morales aren’t going to look for the same money that Alston is asking for. They are also both free agents, and while Garcia is raking it, he also runs up 150 strikeouts routinely each year, and Jose Morales is phenomenally gifted as a batter, putting up OPS values of 1.000 or better in each of the last four years, but he also only played in 123 games on average in those four years, being the same fragile crystal bowl that Castro is.
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Old 04-04-2016, 10:37 AM   #1793
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Well, I tried, but the baseball gods said no, as did Jong-hoo Umberger. Despite being at a position in his career where you normally would want to secure as many dollars as possible, Umberger wasn’t going to sign the 4-year deal I had envisioned, ignoring all my best efforts and all the sugary incentives I had offered him. He really wanted only a 1-year deal for 2011 which I found rather meh.

But at least we were able to settle most arbitration cases well before the arbitration date and avoid the aggravating process altogether. A whole flock of players signed 1-year deals by the start of November, Colin Baldwin settling for $350k, Matt Pruitt for $400k, Keith Ayers for $230k, Rob Howell for $390k, and even Jong-hoo for $1.45M.

A bit later we also came to terms with Santiago Trevino ($252k), Manuel Gutierrez ($250k), and Kenichi Watanabe ($270k).

Adrian Quebell was not exactly alienated by signing a big deal for many millions, though. He was quite happy to explain to me why he should be making $14M total through 2018.

Fffff, this was a tough one.

While he had his upsides (Gold Glove defense, led the CL in doubles in 2010, quite insane OBP for a first baseman), he lacked in the one area I cherished most, home runs. Especially in this park! His career slash was .299/.381/.442 with 829 hits, of which 167 had been doubles, but only 69 home runs. I guess not everybody can hit 30 dingers (not even Alston could in 2010…), but $1.87M per year starting in 2012 sounded quite steep for what he brought to the table.

So the back-and-forth began. First, I wanted no 8-year deal. These are reserved for the Daniel Halls of my heart, and he wasn’t one. Then he started to bitch for a while and didn’t want to sign any long-term deal, and finally we settled at six years.

To be precise, Adrian Quebell signed a 6-yr, $8.88M contract, which pays him $830k in 2011, and then $1.61M every year from 2012 through 2016, the last year being a team option, with incentives on top of that.

While we will worry how to pay him down the road at a later date, this saves us about a hundred grand in 2010, and together with all the other players I skimmed for a few thousand bucks, squeezed out just a little bit more in budget space.

And for the first time EVER, the Raccoons didn’t take any players under team control to arbitration, all accounts settled beforehand.

This didn’t mean we weren’t going to offer salary arbitration to Ron Alston, Javier Cruz, and Ray Kelley, our compensation-eligible free agents. I even talked to Javier Cruz about an extension, albeit very briefly. He wanted a 4-year deal. To be clear, he’s almost 38, and he ran up a double-digit ERA in the playoffs, well contributing to our shortfall in the World Series. Um, no. But by now I was pretty darn sure that he would really take us to arbitration, and receive another raise.

That actually didn’t happen. Our three compensation-eligible players turned down the offer and became free agents.

With that, this is our shopping list for the offseason:
• Slugging rightfielder, first target being ex-LVA Ricardo Garcia
• #4 starting pitcher (preferably right-handed), assuming that we continue to use Gil McDonald as #5
• right-handed reliever for the 6th/7th inning
• upgrade at shortstop (if the opportunity would present itself)
• upgrade for backup infielder (should play all positions)

Why are we targeting Garcia (150 K per year) over Morales? I still prefer the daily strikeout over the annual leg in plaster cast. We already have a chronically injured and slightly expensive outfielder in Tomas Castro.



October 30 – The Cyclones deal 27-year old 1B/3B Marc Williams (.264, 18 HR, 91 RBI) and 24-year old OF/3B Dave Carter (.154, 0 HR, 0 RBI in 28 AB) to the Miners for 25-yr old C Jayden Jolley (.272, 13 HR, 71 RBI).
October 30 – The Miners also pick up SP Micah McIntyre (6-9, 4.27 ERA) from the Wolves for a pair of unranked prospects.



2010 AWARD OVERVIEW

Player of the Year: CIN Tony Hamlyn (23-5, 2.00 ERA) and OCT Antonio Donis (21-6, 2.38 ERA)
Hitter of the Year: CIN RF/LF/1B Will Bailey (.383, 20 HR, 94 RBI) and ATL OF Jose Morales (.375, 24 HR, 90 RBI)
Rookie of the Year: SFW LF/1B Gil Gross (.270, 15 HR, 57 RBI) and ATL OF Marty Reyes (.294, 7 HR, 34 RBI).
Reliever of the Year: WAS CL Tommy Wooldridge (6-4, 1.31 ERA, 40 SV) and CHA CL Luis Hernandez (5-1, 0.56 ERA, 38 SV)
Platinum Sticks (FL): P DAL Jose Flores, C DEN Eugene Carter, 1B PIT Steve Butler, 2B DAL Hector Garcia, 3B LAP Jens Carroll, SS CIN Bob Hall, LF DEN Victorino Sanchez, CF DEN Lionnel Perri, RF CIN Will Bailey
Platinum Sticks (CL): P LVA Juan Valdevez, C IND Jose Paraz, 1B NYC B.J. Manfull, 2B OCT Marcos Garza, 3B VAN Mitsuhide Suzuki, SS CHA Jesus Amador, LF ATL Jose Morales, CF CHA Jimmy DeBoer, RF LVA Ricardo Garcia
Gold Gloves (FL): P NAS Toshiro Uenohara, C CIN Felix Hernandez, 1B SFW Raúl Bovane, 2B LAP Victor Flores, 3B NAS Antonio Esquivel, SS DAL Armando Rodriguez, LF LAP Manny Perez, CF RIC Victor Enriquez, RF RIC Winston Jones
Gold Gloves (CL): P VAN Rod Taylor, C VAN Julio Mata, 1B OCT Tomas Cardenas, 2B ATL Julio Hernandez, 3B TIJ Dan Jones, SS LVA Tom Dahlke, LF NYC Martin Ortíz, CF NYC Roberto Pena, RF NYC Stanton Martin

Looks like that Dave Fletcher homer cost Angel Casas, who wasn’t even in the top 3 of CL relievers. Actually, the only Raccoon to finish top 3 in the top 4 categories was out-of-nowhere SP Gil McDonald, who was third in the ROTY voting (after ANOTHER Knight in Devin Hibbard).

While the team’s award harvest was rather barren, some mook handed me the Manager of the Year award for the first time since … I can’t even remember.
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Old 04-04-2016, 04:25 PM   #1794
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Here is the 2011 Hall of Fame ballot, which includes a number of familiar faces, but none of which will ever see induction as Raccoons. Also, Dale Wales, a damn sure first ballot Hall of Famer, if there ever was one.

Yet somehow Neil Reece racked up more WAR in a shorter career than Dale Wales. Another stab in the WAR's back. It's a useless stat.

Another update on the offseason following shortly.
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Old 04-04-2016, 04:50 PM   #1795
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Ricardo Garcia, right-handed batting former Aces outfielder, was the declared #1 goal inside our clubhouse. Unfortunately the first round of talks with him a few days after he became a free agent were just really fruitless. BNN had rumored it that he sought a 9-year deal in the $30M area. Well, BNN writes a lot of stuff if the day is long enough for it, but in this case they were actually right. Garcia was looking for 9-yr, $3.4M, and that was well out of our ballpark.

In my keenest dreams I had imagined I could get him for 6-yr, $15M, which would still eat up the very most part of our available money, and would also put him even ahead of Brownie into the top earner’s spot on the roster. Garcia, however, had none of merely the title of being the least ragged of the Portland Paupers, and respectfully declined. He kept declining until we gave up after a 7-yr, $18.7M offer.

So, that was a great start to our winter! The only hope now was that Garcia would remain on the market until the new year, but that seemed … unlikely.

So what was Plan B? Jose Morales was not an option, for a) he was fragile, and b) he demanded even more money. Never mind that he’s the better batter among the two. Keith Ayers as the starter was a pretty poor Plan B.

No, we had to look for something else. The rest of the rightfield free agent class was not all that great. The entire second level beneath the Alstons, Moraleses and Garcias was basically not represented. We had to look for a trade. In that pursuit, I quickly stumbled upon the panically rebuilding Aces.



November 21 – The Raccoons trade 24-yr old 3B Ricardo Martinez (.260, 18 HR, 99 RBI) to the Rebels for 25-yr old SP Bill Conway (10-19, 4.40 ERA, 2 SV).
November 21 – 31-year old SS Dave Hutchinson (.303, 107 HR, 856 RBI), who was with the Gold Sox becoming a free agent, announces his retirement. Hutchinson had torn his labrum in August, and despite having it repaired surgically will not be able to play baseball anymore.
November 23 – A deal is made between the Raccoons and the Aces, in which 32-yr old LF/RF Logan Taylor (.302, 80 HR, 410 RBI) is sent to Portland for 28-yr old 1B Ralph Myers (.331, 7 HR, 31 RBI) and a pair of 23-yr old AAA relievers, Willie Navarete and Chris Roberts.
November 26 – The Buffaloes pick up ex-SAL CL Kevin Johnston (23-25, 2.76 ERA, 53 SV) for 3-yr, $3.66M.
November 26 – The Canadiens sign 29-yr old ex-OCT C Robert Rucker (.297, 16 HR, 195 RBI) for 1-yr, $510k.
November 27 – The offseason has barely started, and the first really big free agent is already off the table as the Titans scoop up 35-year old ex-CIN SP Tony Hamlyn (223-127, 2.56 ERA) for 3-yr, $9.72M!
November 29 – The Gold Sox come to terms with ex-CHA CL Luis Hernandez (40-35, 1.84 ERA, 279 SV), signing him to a 3-yr, $4.56M contract.
December 1 – The Bayhawks sign ex-POR LF/RF Ron Alston (.292, 298 HR, 954 RBI) to a 6-yr, $11.92M contract. The Raccoons receive the Bayhawks’ first round pick and a supplemental round pick in compensation.
December 1 – Rule 5 draft: nine players are selected in a single round. The Raccoons are not affected.

December 1 – Longtime Titans reliever Ramiro Román (67-39, 2.81 ERA, 82 SV), who spent his entire 13-year career in the Titans’ pen, signs a 2-yr, $1.26M contract with the Thunder.
December 1 – The Thunder also reunite with INF Takahashi Higashi (.266, 185 HR, 979 RBI), paying him $3.44M over two years. Higashi, 36 and the 1999 CL ROTY, spent the first nine years of his career with the Thunder before traveling through Nashville, Boston, and Washington.
December 2 – The Indians sign 33-yr old ex-NAS RF Juan Ortíz (.270, 233 HR, 1,031 RBI) for 4-yr, $9.6M.
December 2 – The Rebels send SP Bartolo Ortíz (58-80, 4.53 ERA) to the Warriors, receiving two prospects in return.
December 3 – Ex-OCT INF Marcos Garza (.285, 50 HR, 395 RBI) agrees to a 7-yr, $13.44M deal with the Blue Sox.
December 3 – The Loggers pick up 25-year old, but well-travelled C Raúl Hernandez (.269, 2 HR, 27 RBI), sending the Cyclones 30-year old MR Scott Boone (8-8, 3.93 ERA, 3 SV) and #49 prospect SS Ronnie McKnight – a puzzling trade, to say the least, from the Loggers’ point of view.
December 3 – Veteran SP Dave Crawford (171-169, 3.91 ERA), last with the Canadiens, signs a 2-yr, $1.76M contract with the Thunder.
December 3 – The Bayhawks keep adding, signing INF Kunimatsu Sato (.278, 4 HR, 31 RBI) to a 1-yr, $690k contract.
December 4 – The Cyclones sign ex-POR SP Javier Cruz (235-151, 3.68 ERA) to a 1-yr, $1.04M contract. The Raccoons receive a supplemental round pick for the loss of the 38-year old veteran.
December 7 – Another addition for the Thunder, who pick up 29-yr old 1B/2B/LF Dave McCormick (.308, 92 HR, 444 RBI), who spent his time with the Scorpions so far, on a 7-yr, $10.92M contract.



That’s what I needed: Tony Hamlyn to get five or six starts against the Critters after choking them in the World Series…

Also, Scott Boone (who was a Coon way back in the Dark Days) was due to make six bucks per day over the league minimum, so the Loggers frantically traded him. That franchise is truly in the gutter…

But the rage of the day is of course the fact that Ron Alston had the balls to demand over $4M per year from the Raccoons, and then went on to sign for just over $2M per season with the Bayhawks. I am quite simply stunned by such treachery! How dare he!!

This is just outrageous. Seems like he really didn’t like it in Portland and intentionally sabotaged our World Series efforts. Yes, that will be the narrative from here on forth! Henceforth, Ron Alston shall we known as “Monti” Alston, after Martin James Monti. This Second Lieutenant defected from his unit in 1944, stole a P-38 Lightning and handed the plane over to the Germans, and joined the SS. Yeah, this is a splendid fit!



Ricardo Martinez was obviously done in Portland. His splash debut in 2008 was fun, cringing defense here or there, but apparently every rock thrown into a river splashes only once. Since then the Raccoons spent over $6M on Jon Merritt, and Martinez has no other position and we don’t feel like having him learn one forever.

Bill Conway might be the #4 starter, or he might not. He has two options, so he could just as well form part of our AAA reserve. His control isn’t the best, and he walked 86 in 2010, so roughly as many as Brownie, while striking out about half as many as Brown. But he has a splitter that keeps the ball on the ground and isn’t very home run prone, which is always a goody in Portland. The trade is also salary neutral, as Conway won’t be arbitration eligible until next fall.

Originally I tried to send them Ralph Myers for Conway, but the Rebels had none of that. They did like something (SOMETHING) about Martinez, though. Now watch him hit 30 homers in 2011… Ralph Myers continues to be expendable, even more so with Adrian Quebell locked up. All pure first basemen can happily go their way now.

Fun fact about Conway: he was the #4 pick in the 2006 draft, picked one spot behind somebody we have talked about at length, Jimmy Oatmeal. No, he’s still not managing to bat .200 in AA.

The Myers case was resolved in the Logan Taylor trade. Taylor costs $1M in 2011, and $1.28M in 2012, after which he will be a free agent. He is certainly no Ron Alston, but he should be a good notch better than Keith Ayers. However, he’s a left-hander, and part of Ricardo Garcia’s appeal was that he was batting right-handed, helping us a bit to balance the lineup. That won’t happen, but at least we still have Ayers around to replace either Pruitt or Taylor against a left-handed pitcher.



I might have said this before, or maybe not. The trade AI in 16 is a joke (I know I said that). I’m using a mixed easy/average trade mode, where I use easy to identify potential trades (like the Aces offering Logan Taylor for Ralph Myers, a ridiculous steal on easy), but the actual trades are done virtually always on average, at least until the Raccoons will eventually rebuild again, when I will go back to easy to even allow for a rebuild. The Ai won’t give up any prospects on average. So the Logan Taylor trade looks like a steal, but the Aces are really desperate to get rid of any big contract and want to pick up prospects, no matter how dire the outlook on them might be.

I even would have been able to get Logan Taylor for JUST Myers and either Navarete or Roberts – on normal! They are really throwing out all the silverware…
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Old 04-05-2016, 08:24 AM   #1796
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Westheim View Post

The very generous spender that he was, he granted the Raccoons a budget raise from $22.8M to $24.2M, albeit highly reluctantly.



The raise in money is of course bound to signing Ron Alston to an extension. Well, yeah. That’s not going to work out.
Are you absolutely certain the Portland Racoons aren't being run by Rachel Phelps? I mean, you guys don't seem to draw, Portland is a small-market town and it rains a lot. There are a lot of things in common.

And I'm fairly certain some of the guys you acquired may be deceased.



I can imagine her stroking a small puppy, frowning... "at this rate, I'm going to have to start feeding Nick Brown regular dog food".

We might need to take drastic measures to turn things around in Portland.



You might want to get the team mascot to prepare the poster board.
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Old 04-06-2016, 03:07 PM   #1797
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I must admit I have NO clue what Mr. Cuban is talking about.

Also, yesterday's update was washed out when I was battling with the MLB.tv man-bots to get tech support, which I didn't. Then I went to bed.


---

As the Winter Meetings began, the Raccoons had already done something for two of their needs, adding a rightfielder and a bottom-end starting pitcher in trades, while sending away player they couldn’t use anyway, so until now – apart from the “Monti” Alston disaster – this had been a productive offseason, and there were still about $2.6M in the coffers.

This was begging for a hefty upgrade somewhere, but probably not in the bullpen area, where I was happy with the top end consisting of Angel Casas, Law Rockburn, and Ron Thrasher, though Casas was princely paid even for a closer, at $1.25M in 2011 and only going up from there. Luckily, Law Rockburn was the only other reliever currently on the roster that was making more than the minimum ($375k), keeping the overall pen cost down, although I was in the process of changing that. There was an offer out to a veteran right-hander we know very well, who should be the perfect 7th inning solution for us. If he signed, we’d pay about $2.66M for our entire bullpen, which was expensive enough.

There was still the glaring hole at shortstop, and who said that Bill Conway was going to be the final solution for the rotation? At $2.6M left over, you might be able to make a significant upgrade, although a slugging shortstop would probably a better fit for the team.

Okay, as the meetings start, let’s look at slugging shortstops that are currently free agents!

There were none.

Well, the highest slugging mark for any qualifying shortstop in 2010 was put up by Cincinnati’s Bob Hall and Pittsburgh’s Tom McWhorter, both tied at .458; next, Ryan Miller at .444 for Indy. Oh well.

There was one interesting option, 29-year old Ken Rodgers, with the Titans in 2010 and the Elks for a lot of years before that. He hit only .243 in ’10, but had 28 doubles and 10 homers, although you shouldn’t bank on the latter. He plays very well all around the infield, but can’t steal bases. But he’s left-handed, and we already have A LOT of left-handed batters. Look what Tony Hamlyn did to us in the World Series. (Good news: he won’t pitch against us in the 2011, 2012, or 2013 World Series)

Well, what’s our situation at short right now. We basically have Walt Canning and Rob Howell vying for the spot. They are both good defenders, with Canning having the edge there, and both are right-handed batters. While Canning had a .696 OPS in about a quarter season’s worth of at-bats, Howell sucked his way to a .620 mark, only starting half the games (79) despite not being injured, other than 2009, when he missed four weeks in his rookie season, appeared in 129 games, started 115 and hit .266/.348/.384 with eight dingers, making us believe he might be able to pull off a good run at short. No Jorge Salazar, no Victor Flores, but perhaps consistent production at least until he hits free agency (which will be after the 2012 season, unless he gets shafted before that).

Manuel Gutierrez’ sorry eyes demand me mentioning that he’s still around, too, a 30-year old career .258/.301/.344 batter. Gutierrez might well be around on Opening Day. He covers all four infield spots defensively, and there is value in that, but we really don’t have a lot of use for him otherwise. Him as starting shortstop – that sounds like the 2001 Coons, not the 2011 Coons. (Actually, Concie Guerin was the starting shortstop for the 2001 Coons, and put up a .711 OPS, his third-best single season OPS mark)

Concie also took 33 bases in 2011, and there would be value in a player like that, too. Technically, that’s Castro, but when is he ever playing… But to finish the other thought, there isn’t really any depth in our system regarding a shortstop, so we’re really down to Howell, Canning, and Gutierrez.

There is some appeal to the thought of having all three of them on the roster. That would leave us with a bat from each side off the bench among infielders, and right now our bench is completed with Owens (R), White (S), and Ayers (R), who’s always out at home.

Alright, the situation still qualifies as having a need. Now let’s look at the rotation:

Nick Brown – some red hot love there
Jong-hoo Umberger – former ROTY, low 3s ERA, all numbers good, no issues
Colin Baldwin – the issues definitely start here, K/BB barely over 1.5 in ’10, tends to blowouts
Bill Conway – another unhealthy K/BB, pretty high WHIP
Gil McDonald – went from a 4.93 ERA in AAA at age 26 to a 3.30 ERA between AAA and the bigs at age 27; sounds like a Disney movie, and too sweet overall

In terms of “depth”, Hector Santos was ravaged for a 6+ ERA before getting himself a Tommy John surgery and might miss the entire season, Brendan Teasdale hasn’t won a start in 10 attempts and also has a 6+ ERA (and is going to rehab a torn rotator cuff until at least March), and then there’s Kenichi Watanabe… Other AAA ERA’s in 2010: Greg Dodson – 4.02; Marco Gomez – 4.38; Ron Melchin – 5.55; There IS Rich Hood in AAA, who pitched there to a 3.33 ERA in 19 starts, but our 2009 first-rounder had a pretty bad K/BB at under 1.3 … We *are* liking what we are seeing, but I wouldn’t expect him to ripen for more than a September audition at best.

Of course, injuries can make the best intentions moot sometimes.

Melchin by the way was our 2005 11th-rounder, ten years after Nick Brown, but this lefty with a slider doesn’t look like he’s gonna cut it. He always pitched to stark ERA’s at all levels, but usually with quite crummy BABIP’s to have an excuse, but he wasn’t buried by the defense last year. He achieved that 5.55 ERA mostly on his own. I would have loved for him to go after batters with his flashy red beard…

While there were on slugging shortstops available, there were some fine starting pitchers on the market for sure. I took a keen interest in Takeru Sato, who handed Nick Brown two losses in the CLCS. Sato was 38, and had pitched to merely average ERA’s for years now, but this was with horrendous BABIP’s as well. He hadn’t gotten better support than a .317 BABIP since *2004*! This includes a 2005 season he split between Sacramento and Cincinnati in which neither team did him better than a .371 BABIP! Since his flashy stuff left him around age 31, he was hurt all the more by shoddy defense. But after 2,800 innings pitched in the majors, he has allowed only 99 home runs, so there would be some benefits to him.

He was also not a type A free agent, but only a type B, which wasn’t going to faze me.
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Old 04-06-2016, 05:15 PM   #1798
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December 8 – The Scorpions spend $4.04M for four years of services from almost 34 years old ex-IND LF/RF Al Graves (.268, 25 HR, 210 RBI).
December 10 – The Wolves deal 28-yr old left-handed MR Dan Parker (7-4, 4.86 ERA, 2 SV) to the Titans for two 24-yr old OF Jaime Crawford (.000 in 7 AB) and another prospect.
December 11 – The Titans send 3B Pedro Cruz (.215, 2 HR, 24 RBI) to the Buffaloes, netting MR Bill Dean (2-7, 3.71 ERA, 1 SV) and #47 prospect SP Jim Fortman in return.
December 11 – The Stars deal veteran reliever Kevin Wanless (37-24, 2.84 ERA, 71 SV) to the Miners for promising C Dylan Alexander (.100 in 20 AB).
December 11 – 27-year old SP Pedro Vargas (35-22, 3.84 ERA) is sent from the Falcons to the Miners, who complete the trade by sending 26-year old 3B Wes Ladd (.261, 22 HR, 197 RBI) and a prospect.
December 11 – The Thunder flip 35-yr old 1B/3B Ignacio Arreola (.243, 24 HR, 172 RBI) to the Bayhawks to get 27-yr old MR Tommy Costello (8-6, 3.50 ERA) and 2009 supplemental round pick CL Logan Sloan.
December 12 – The Crusaders acquire 28-yr old SP Ed Winn (17-18, 4.81 ERA) from the Scorpions in exchange for a second-rate prospect.
December 19 – Former Buffaloes catcher Antonio Ramirez (.241, 40 HR, 414 RBI) becomes a Bayhawk after signing a 2-yr, $1.86M contract.
December 20 – 28-year old top ranked RF/LF Ricardo Garcia (.273, 96 HR, 481 RBI) signs a 7-yr, $20.44M contract with the Titans. Garcia spent his time with the Aces so far.
December 20 – Travelling INF Nelson Chavez (.269, 59 HR, 401 RBI) hooks up with the Falcons. The 34-year old will make $580k in 2011.
December 21 – 28-year old ex-OCT LF/RF Apasyu Britton (.289, 24 HR, 323 RBI) signs a 4-yr, $3.68M deal with the Buffaloes.
December 23 – Ex-SAC SP Carlos Castro (95-107, 3.78 ERA) signs a 2-yr, $4.48M deal with the Thunder. The 33-year old right-hander is considered fragile, and also has never received a lot of run support in his career…
December 23 – The Bayhawks pick up 1B/3B Yuji Hashimoto (.296, 56 HR, 351 RBI) from the Gold Sox, parting with 2B Maxime Da Silva (.214, 8 HR, 60 RBI) and #58 prospect right-hander Gavin French.
December 26 – A long-time Logger, but most recently a Wolf, 37-year old RF/LF Bakile Hiwalani (.272, 311 HR, 1,558 RBI) signs a 2-yr, $1.66M pact with the Cyclones.
January 1 – The Cyclones merrily keep adding, signing 35-yr old 2B/SS Bartolo Hernandez (.308, 60 HR, 863 RBI) to a 1-yr, $670k contract. Hernandez was with the Bayhawks in 2010.



Well, we weren’t quite in the market for Ricardo Garcia it seems. The worst part for the Aces is that not only will they sink further into obscurity, but they also only get a measly third-round pick for their loss, since the Titans had already blown their second-round pick for signing Tony Hamlyn. They are definitely loading up, and when I look at their roster, while they have lost most of their bullpen, the only significant other departures are infielders Mark Austin and Ken Rodgers. They are perhaps another one or two strong pieces away from being a hot bet for the division again!

Alas, they’re out of money. They are paying a broken Jorge Chapa $3.2M to pitch long relief once more in 2011. That’s more than the entire Coons bullpen will earn, and only about $1.15M less than the Raccoons’ entire rotation.

The Raccoons still stand to have two first-round picks, two supplemental round picks, and have an option for another supplemental round pick if someone picks up Ray Kelley.

Meanwhile the Takeru Sato negotiations go really poorly. We started with a 2-yr, $2.12M offer, the last year always a vesting options in the negotiations, hanging on him delivering 180 innings in 2011. The Crusaders were bidding along however, and the Thunder did for a while as well. The price is going up and up and is almost at $2.5M now.

The Thunder eventually re-signed Antonio Donis, the 2010 Pitcher of the Year, to a 2-yr, $6.32M deal. That one is interesting. First, it’s guaranteed, and second, Donis, who was short of breath even in his youth, will be 39 next June. Although, if he could win a POTY at 38, he can’t be that worn out….

I’m also working on a deal with an FL West team for a shortstop. They are rebuilding, and while the guy in question isn’t necessarily a big earner, he’s worth a promising youngster or two. My main task here is to stay out of dealing Rich Hood, really.



And finally, David Brewer made the Hall of Fame … as an Elk. Royce Green didn’t even make another ballot, but Neil Reece will be back.
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Old 04-06-2016, 06:40 PM   #1799
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it looks like the titans are ready to compete, and with the big money crusaders always lurking, the division looks like its gonna b a dog fight.
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Old 04-07-2016, 01:48 AM   #1800
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January 4 – The Portland Raccoons acquire 28-yr old INF Michael Palmer (.299, 15 HR, 171 RBI) from the Scorpions. In exchange, the Scorpions receive 34-yr old AAA SP Kenichi Watanabe (22-43, 3.91 ERA), 27-yr old C Ximenes Lopes (.096, 1 HR, 4 RBI), 20-yr old AA SS/2B Alex Arias, and 24-yr old AA OF Geoff Allen.
January 5 – The Condors trade SP Ian Ward (8-16, 4.24 ERA) to the Warriors, receiving two prospects including #144 SP T.J. Winstead.
January 6 – The Knights acquire left-hander MR Ed Bryan (22-12, 3.26 ERA, 6 SV) from the Rebels, sending them #21 prospect SS Pat Coykendall.
January 7 – The Portland Raccoons announce that they have signed veteran MR Ricardo Huerta (42-36, 3.21 ERA, 44 SV) to a 1-yr, $400k contract.



Palmer has been a starter for only three years, starting in 2008, his last season in the Elks organization. His defense up the middle is strong, but he has almost no experience at third base. He is the definition of singles slapper. In 2009, he had 190 hits, of which 168 were singles. So he isn’t the slugging shortstop we were looking for – at all. But there was just no option to bring in a slugging shortstop this winter, so we console ourselves with Palmer.

It looks slightly dubious whether Palmer is actually an upgrade over our existing shortstops, but for what it’s worth he has yet to fail to OPS under .700 in a full season. (But we all know what Portland does to batting stats…)

The plan for Howell and Canning now is to potentially trade one of them, depending on what other players we can identify that we would like to bring in. If everything else fails (which is the case so often), Walt Canning has another option left, but Rob Howell doesn’t.

The Palmer trade originally started by shopping Ximenes Lopes for a bag of baseballs. The Scorpions really lack a lot of things right now, and pathetically it seems like they can actually use Ximenes Lopes. We deal a significant part of our starting pitching reserve by parting with “Winless” Watanabe, but the main price in the deal is Alex Arias, who is a really promising middle infielder and was half of the pair of international signing infielders I mentioned about a year ago. Ricky Moya is the other, and remains in the organization. The Raccoons are rather high on him, but the Scorpions preferred Arias.

Ricardo Huerta becomes the second Raccoon with three distinct stints with the Critters, after the virtually omnipresent Daniel Sharp (who’s a free agent!). We took Huerta for the first time in the rule 5 draft before the 2002 season and he did a splendid job for the next four years. The second time he was acquired just before the deadling in 2009 in the complete bananas trade with the Canadiens, in which we did not only take Huerta, but also Ron Thrasher(!) AND half a million bucks(!!), for merely backup catcher Sergio Esquivel.

Unfortunately it looks a lot like we’re not going to get Takeru Sato. We keep getting outbidden and I wonder whether the increasing price is really worth for a 39-year old who doubtlessly has angered some ancient Japanese God of Nature with the horrendous BABIP’s he’s had for six years. Of course by now the free agent market has been picked thin, so if we want to acquire another quality starting pitcher, we need to look for a rebuilding team and saddle up in terms of prospects.
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