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Old 05-13-2019, 01:37 AM   #181
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Offseason

Bird, don't ever feel like you need to rush through any segment of the season. Especially the offseason. There is SO much potentially great content to be mined and reported on that it would almost be criminal to speed through.

Keep up the great work!
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Old 05-13-2019, 12:27 PM   #182
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Some end of season observations

The 1972 regular season has come to an end- I will report on the Brewers last series, against the MGL champs Charlotte, later- and the Brewers did finish in 2nd place in the MGL with a respectable, but somewhat disappointing, 94 wins. (The Brewers finished the season with the best run differential in the MGL, while the Jacksonville Wolf Pack of the SJL finished with the best run differential in all of the WPK and also finished in 2nd place.)

The Brewers played well down the stretch and perhaps most encouraging was the play of several of their younger players.
(I'm not in front of the game as I type this so there will be few details and many generalities.)

In spite of finishing with a low batting average (.227, IIRC) and far too many strikeouts, center fielder Joe McPhillips gave plenty of evidence of his vast potential, finishing with an on base percentage approximately 100 points higher than his batting average and a nice little collection of extra base hits and stolen bases. With his great defensive skills added in he finished with one of the better WAR numbers on the team. The October 1st scouting report indicates that he projects to cut down on his strikeouts while maintaining great OBP skills and an above average contact projection. He also now projects to hit at least an above average number of HR's. The Brewers scouting staff sees him as an elite center fielder in the making (4 stars overall/5 stars potential.)

Josh Schaeffer, who made a real splash in the last few weeks of the season, is now seen as profiling as a valuable right field starter on a contending team. He has an elite eye at the plate, great speed, good contact skills, and well above average defensive skills in right field.

Jonathan Koch had some good moments offensively during the 1972 season but in the end finished with very poor numbers. But he is already displaying elite defense at second base and the scouting staff sees him as developing fine hit skills with very decent power for his position. Ian Dube was a surprise in his time at the big league level, finishing with really good offensive numbers and playing solid defense, but profiles as a back-up at best. Still, he's made his case for future consideration should Koch falter.

Mike Foster, as has been amply reported, was a very pleasant surprise this season. He had a good year at the plate, though it would be nice if his on-base skills were a bit stronger, and although he is unlikely to ever win a gold glove at third base he does have a very strong arm and is a more than adequate defender. The most recent scouting report shows him taking steps forward in his HR power skills, which should be above average, and he now projects as a solid starter on a contending team.

Among the more established younger Brewer players, Chad Brown finished the season in a bit of slump at the plate and committed a small rash of errors in the last two weeks of the season, but still led the team in WAR among position players and had a fine season at the plate, in the field, and on the base paths. His 21 errors was an improvement upon past performance and the most recent scouting report indicates that at the age of 26 Brown's defense at short may still be improving.

Bobby Erbakan did not take the step forward offensively that was hoped for him this season but he did have a fine season and continues to display potential to be a superstar in the league. His HR total was down from 21 in 1971 to 11 in 1972, but he still profiles as an above average power hitter. Defensively there is no doubt that he is by far the best first baseman in the league. There is really no question about him capturing his 4th Gold Glove award.

Kevin Curtis was Kevin Curtis. Low batting average, decent OBP, a nice little collection of doubles, and Gold Glove defense. He is our starting catcher for the foreseeable future and a real fan favorite.

Andrew Kennedy is arguably the best pure hitter on the team. He combines great contact skills with fine gap power and just a smidgen of occasional over the fence power. He isn't fast but he's a smart base runner. He isn't a great defender but he will rarely hurt you too much at left field or first base and in a pinch he can play right field too. And he's one of the best leaders in the clubhouse.

Among the more veteran players on the team, Antonio Puente continues his descent into offensive mediocrity, hitting far too few HR's for a supposed power hitter, striking out way too often and walking less and less. On the other hand, in his first full season as a starting right fielder Puente looks to be the odds on favorite to win the Gold Glove, which would be the first of his career. Likely he and that Gold Glove will be shipped off to another team in the off-season.

Veteran superstar left fielder Ryan Rodgers put up great numbers at the plate this season and remains an elite defensive outfielder in left field and still a solid occasional option in center, where he has previously won Gold Gloves. Problem is, he was out with a pair of injuries for much of the season. We will hope for better health for this previously iron man player in the coming season.

Pat Rondeau, who will be a free agent at the end of the 1973 season, was a bright spot on the team. He doesn't walk much but he's a speedy contact hitter who also won't strike out much and he provides elite defense in the outfield corners and solid defense, with a strong arm, in center. He is the perfect 4th or 5th outfielder to help bridge the gap until either or both Joe McPhillips and Josh Schaeffer are ready to fly without a net.

As for pitching, the two top WAR scores on the team were recorded by the twin aces, Cheol-han Lee and Erik Sloan. (Though admittedly for Sloan approximately half of his season was spent as a member of the Charlotte Sting.) Lee and Sloan are veterans but are showing few signs of decline at this point. Harry Lyerly continues to be one of the most consistent Brewer starters and at age 24 still has room for growth. In an environment where HR's were down across the league, Lyerly was uncharacteristically stingy in this area and that can't be counted on for the future. But he also was among the best in the league in term of opponents batting average and that is nothing new and a good sign that he should be able to maintain at least solid mid-rotation effectiveness even if the gives up more long balls in the future. He led the league, once again, in K/9 at 9.0, so it certainly helps when the opposition fails to make contact at all. Steve Green puts up very good underlying stats- striking out a lot of batters, walking few, not giving up a lot of hits. Oddly, with a profile that would suggest he should be far less susceptible to the long ball than Lyerly, Green once again was prone to giving them up too often. His final numbers were good, not great. But the most recent scouting report indicates that he is just getting better and should remain a very solid mid-rotation option. Lefty Matt Helm, who has emerged as the team captain in the absence of Abel Pennington (who missed much of the season with a serious arm injury and likely will be non-tendered in the off-season), unfortunately is now also profiling as a fragile pitcher. He has solid skills, put up some fine numbers this season, and will be part of the rotation next year, but with the danger of injury being high pitchers like Eric Johnson and Justin Peacock may end up spending a significant amount of time in the Brewers uni next season.

The bullpen is largely solid with young pitchers like Dave Duncan, Jordan Stephens, and Sam Pruiett having put up good numbers in 1972 and receiving favorable reports from the scouting staff. Veteran closer Jose de los Santos was among the league leaders in saves (21) in 1972 and is still a talented pitcher though there are indications of some inevitable decline. Lefty Liann-wei Hua was mostly terrific and could emerge as the anchor of the bullpen, though good right-handed hitters can cause him some troubles. Veteran Jaden Francis got off to a horrible start in 1972 and had a very strong finish. He is likely a middle reliever, with very high stamina, who can occasionally perform in a set-up role. His position in the bullpen seems assured for now.
Fragile veteran Miguel Solis, the most accomplished reliever in Brewers history, has not been re-signed and is eligible to be a free agent this off-season. With the latest report from the scouting staff showing declines in his abilities (in spite of mostly very good performance in 1972), he will most certainly be allowed to leave. Veteran Eric Singer, a fan favorite and one of the more heralded relievers in WPK history, had probably the worst season of any Brewers reliever in 1972. He has a large contract which the Brewers will attempt to move in the off-season (perhaps in a package with the more affordable Antonio Puente.)


As a whole the Brewers numbers were actually quite good this season. The team finished 2nd in runs scored as well as 2nd in runs allowed. They led the league in batting average, and were near the top in most every other offensive category, except HR's, where after a 1-year aberration in 1971, they returned to the bottom of the pile. (Hopefully, with the power potential of McPhillips, Foster, Koch, and Erbakan we can rise at least to the middle of the pack in 1973. None of them are likely to be premiere power hitters, the way Antonio Puente once was, but if we can combine enough above average HR's hitters along with our many great gap hitters (Kennedy, Brown, McPhillips, Curtis, etc.) that should be enough.)
The Brewers (IIRC) led the league in FIP, and were near the top in many other pitching and defensive categories, including easily leading the league in opponents strikeouts.

In summation, the future looks potentially bright. Granted, we will be relying on some young players taking a real step forward in 1973 in order to re-take the title from Charlotte- in particular Joe McPhillips and Jonathan Koch. We will need Mike Foster to continue his great development of this season. We will count on Bobby Erbakan to up his offensive game another notch. And we will hope that Harry Lyerly and Steve Green continue to develop and stay healthy while aces Cheol-han Lee and Erik Sloan basically maintain their present course. Then, if someone like Josh Shaeffer turns out to be ready to take on a bigger role and he plays at even a fraction of the level he did in his brief late-season audition, this team could be one to be reckoned with going forward.
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Old 05-13-2019, 07:57 PM   #183
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1972 Statistical Leaders, SJL, Batting

Before we move on to the World Series let's take a look at the final statistical leaders in the WPK this season.

Starting with the SJL, let's take a look at a number of offensive categories.

As you can see some names are pretty prominent in many categories: Lazaro Lowndes, Jesus Casiano, Nate Bennett, Larry Glinski, Erik Buonopane, and Bud Lindsay to name a handful.

Lowndes, the 25-year old superstar center fielder for the Washington Night Train, was the Rookie-of-the-Year in 1967, is a 2-time All-Star, has won 1 Gold Glove and 1 Silver Slugger Award. This is the second year in a row that he has led the SJL in hits though it is his first batting title (and first time leading in OBP). He has been the league leader in triples 3 times in his career. In his 7 years in the league (all with Washington) he has a WAR of 37.7. He is considered durable and intelligent and should have a long and successful career ahead of him.

Jesus Casiano, at age 30, is in the midst of transitioning back to first base from third base, where he is a 3-time Gold Glove winner. He did come up as a first baseman originally and also won 2 Gold Gloves at that position earlier in his career. Casiano has played his entire career with the Jacksonville Wolf Pack, was the 1970 MVP of the SJL, is a 6-time All-Star, and a 4-time Silver Slugger award winner. He has led the league in RBI 5 times now, in HR's and doubles twice, in batting average once, and has a career WAR of 51.6.

Slugging first baseman Nate Bennett has been a mainstay of the Boston Berserkers for the team's entire history. Bennett, at age 33, is a defensive liability but still a very potent hitter. He led the league in batting average in 1965 and also led the league in RBI that year. He led the SJL in HR's , with 37, in 1967. He is an 8-time All-Star and 7-time Silver Slugger. His career WAR is 45.3.

The 27-year old Larry Glinski has been much less heralded then those listed above thus far in his WPK career. He is a 1-time All-Star and that was this season. But he's always been a solid defensive second baseman with great speed and good contact hitting abilities and 1972 was something of a break-out season for him. He spent his first 5 1/2 seasons with the Phoenix Speed Devils, was traded to Philadelphia mid-1970, played for the Milwaukee Cadets in 1971, before joining the Columbus Whalers this season. And now he's heading to his first World Series!

If there is a superstar catcher in the WPK, that man is San Antonio's Erik Buonopane. The 25-year old power-hitter is defensively strong and has won 2 Gold Gloves, is a 3-time All-Star, and a 2-time Silver Slugger. 1972 was his 4th big league season, all with the Keys. And he's really just getting started.

The same could absolutely be said of Bud Lindsay. At the tender age of 21, Lindsay is already considered the team captain of the San Antonio Keys. Lindsay is a tremendous defensive shortstop who will likely win his first Gold Glove award this year. He is a speedy runner and should develop into a good base stealer but could use some polishing of his base-running skills. Lindsay has surprising power for his position (and his size- he is 6'0'' and 165 lbs) and is a very good gap hitter. He still needs to improve a bit on his plate discipline and has room for growth as a contact hitter, but if he does reach his full potential the sky is really the limit for young Mr. Lindsay. After all, even with some flaws in his game still he led the SJL in WAR this year at 9.2.
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Old 05-13-2019, 08:34 PM   #184
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1972 Statistical Leaders, SJL, Pitching

In the short history of the WPK thus far there are three staring pitchers who stand out from all the rest. One is Denver's Cheol-han Lee. The other two are featured prominently in the SJL pitching stats leaders for 1972 below.

There is a decent chance that at some point in the future the annual Pitcher of the Year award will be called the Jake Harris Award. Harris, who turned 34 a little over a week ago, is the staff ace for the SJL champion Columbus Whalers. In his 8 seasons in the league, all with the Whalers, has a win-loss record of 144-61 and a microscopic 2.26 ERA. He has led the league in wins 4 times, in ERA twice, and this season, at the age of 33, for the first time he led the league in strikeouts with 241, the 4th best single season total in WPK history. Harris is a 2-time Pitcher of the Year and 7-time All-Star. His 63.4 career WAR is second among WPK pitchers only to Cheol-han Lee, who is at 69.8. (Cheol-han is a few years younger than Harris, so perhaps it will be the Cheol-han Lee Award instead.)

Chris Hernandez, of the San Antonio Keys, has a career WAR of 61.0, third best in WPK history and a full 10 WAR ahead of the next pitcher on the list. Hernandez was the lone 20-game winner in the SJL this season, and indeed in all of the WPK in 1972. Hernandez, in spite of being a fan favorite, is fairly well traveled, being on his 3rd team. He pitched his first 4 seasons in Philadelphia for the Mud Hens, then had 3 seasons with the Washington Night Train. He won the SJL Pitcher of the Year award last season and is a 7-time All-Star. He is a true workhorse and has led the league in games started 4 times and in innings pitched twice. He led the league in ERA in 1971 with a 2.02 mark. He is also incredibly stingy with the long ball and has led the league in HR/9 4 times. He has given up just 53 HR's in just over 2055 innings pitched. Hernandez will be turning 37 in just over a month so it is hard to know how many more seasons like this he has in his future. But for now he remains one of the best in the game.
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Old 05-13-2019, 10:03 PM   #185
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September 30- August 1, 1972, at Charlotte

I got a bit ahead of myself.

Let's wrap up the Brewers regular season with a 3-game series in Charlotte against the MGL's best, the Sting.

And in game 1 the Sting do in fact best the Brewers 2-0. Erik Sloan pitched well enough for a win- 7 IP, 2 R, 6 H, 5 K, 0 BB- but his opposite number, Nick Tolbert, shut down the Brewers pretty completely. Other than Ryan Rodgers (.327/.442/.390), who went 3 for 4 and hit his 2nd triple. Sloan finishes the season 16-8 with a 2.17 ERA.

The Brewers get a narrow win in the second game, 2-1, behind Cheol-han Lee, who allowed 1 run on 5 hits in 7 1/3rd innings. Cheol-han finishes his 1972 season with a 17-8 record and a 2.07 ERA. Jordan Stephens gets his 4th save and improves his ERA to 0.79. Jonathan Koch (.227/.255/.349) was 3 for 4 with 1 RBI.

In the final regular game of the 1972 season, the Brewers lose to Charlotte 4-2. The game was tied 2-2 going into the bottom of the 8th but Dave Duncan had perhaps his worst outing of the season in his very last- giving up 2 runs on 3 hits while getting just 1 batter out in the 8th. He finished the season with a 3-4 record and 5 saves and with a 2.57 ERA. Eric Johnson got the start for Denver and again deserved better as he allowed 2 runs (1 earned) on 9 hits in 6 1/3rd innings pitched, striking out 3 and walking none. In his two WPK starts he finished 0-1 with a 3.18 ERA. Mike Foster (.287/.309/.410) concludes a fine rookie campaign with a 3 for 4 game. Andrew Kennedy (.297/.327/.390) went 2 for 4 with 1 run scored.
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Old 05-13-2019, 11:24 PM   #186
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1972 Statistical Leaders, MGL, Batting

As earlier reported, Brooklyn's fantastic 29-year old center fielder Felix Lopez, had a dominant offensive season in a pitching-rich year.

Lopez not only led the league in batting average, which is the 4th time he has done so in his career, but also in hits, for the 6th time, triples for the 4th time, and on base percentage for the first time. It was the first season of his career where he did not lead the league in stolen bases though he did finish 3rd with 30 stolen bases. (He is the career leader in SB's with 366.) The speedy Lopez is also a fine defender and won a Gold Glove last season. He is an 8-time All-Star and 4-time Silver Slugger. His career slash line is .338/.382/.452. He has put up 65.9 WAR in his 8 WPK seasons. He's a generational talent and a likely future WPK Hall-of-Famer. And he had a very, very good year.

Phoenix's slugging right fielder Ju-ao Ju, in a season when home runs were down in the WPK, easily led both leagues in HR's with 38 and RBI with 111. In his 6 seasons in the WPK he has now led the league in these categories twice each and led in runs scored once. He is a 4-time All-Star and 3-time Silver Slugger. The 30-year old has a reputation of being unmotivated but remains, for now, a force at the plate.

Portland's Chris Tobin, at age 26, is turning into one of the biggest stars in the league as both a plus defender at shortstop and a gifted hitter. He's not the most well-liked teammate (many consider him selfish) but he is known to be a hard worker. And if the Portland Wild Things are to climb out of the cellar soon the 2-time All-Star and 1-time Silver Slugger Tobin, heading into just his 5th big league season, will likely be at the center of their resurgence.

(It should also probably be noted that Jeremy Brigatti's 67 stolen bases is a new single season high in the WPK. The 23 year old Australian somewhat came out of nowhere this season- his second full season in the WPK-as he jumped from a modest 2.1 WAR season in 1971, when he stole 27 bases but was also caught 25 times, to a 6.0 WAR 1972 season with a respectable slash line of .272/.340/.370, 27 doubles and 60 walks to only 40 strikeouts. Brigatti is also fine defensive outfielder, particularly at the corners, though his average arm leaves him best suited to left field. When combined with Felix Lopez, it is easy to see why the Brooklyn club led all of the WPK in stolen bases this season.)
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Old 05-13-2019, 11:53 PM   #187
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1972 Statistical Leaders, MGL, Pitching

If the MGL Pitcher of the Year Award for 1972 doesn't go to one of the Brewers two aces- Cheol-han Lee (who won the award in 1971) or Erik Sloan- then perhaps the mostly likely winner is Brooklyn's Manny Alvarado.
Historically Alvarado's biggest weakness is the long-ball, as he led the league in HR's allowed last season with 32 and also allowed 31 the prior season. His career record, including this year, is 72-66 with a 3.76 ERA. So, obviously, his league best 19 wins (with 8 losses) and his fine 2.49 ERA make this his finest season yet, by far really. The fact that he gave up only 19 HR's for a HR/9 of 0.7 certainly didn't hurt. At age 29, it will be interesting to see if Alvarado has turned the corner or if this year will prove to be simply a fluke in an otherwise mediocre career.

Of course consideration could also be given to Oklahoma City's 30-year old ace, Reece Vaughan. The accomplished Aruban righty went 18-11 with a 2.26 ERA while pitching for a team that finished 15 games under .500 (in 7th place). It was the lowest ERA in Vaughan's largely successful 8 year career and his 2nd best win total (he has won 19 games twice). Vaughan is a 3-time All-Star, has led the league in games started 5 times, and strikeouts once. He has pitched his entire career for the Diamond Kings but is a free agent at the end of next season.

And let's not rule out the most dominant relief pitcher in WPK history, who also happens to be the most hated- Charlotte's Jamel McNeil. McNeil just had another typical year for him, going 13-2 with 27 saves and an ERA of 1.09, hurling 141 innings, all in relief, striking out 178 batters and earning a WAR of 6.2 (as a relief pitcher!). While McNeil is almost a sure thing for another Reliever of the Year award (he has 4 thus far), he is likely to get a least some votes for Pitcher of the Year. Charlotte is the 32-year old's 4th team (he was briefly a Brewer in 1968) and it's somewhat surprising it isn't more than that as he wears out his welcome quickly, being universally loathed and considered a clubhouse cancer. Still, he's the best in the business at what he does, so there is always that. (He's also an 8-time All-Star, so I guess it's true that people just love to have a villain around to hate.)
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Old 05-14-2019, 04:51 PM   #188
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***The View from Outside the Park***

Having wrapped up another regular season and with the WPK universe really starting to take on shape and texture for me, there are a few thoughts I've been having, which I will share here in divinity/gamer perspective.

1) Despite how frustrating it sometimes was, despite the ultimate disappointment, I'm glad the Brewers finished in second place this year and didn't claim a fourth straight MGL pennant. As I've mentioned here before, several times, (and probably will again many, many more times in the future), I would consider it a failure if the Brewers became too dominant. I realize that for many OOTP gamers the point of the game is to build a team into a position of dominance. And I get that. There is a challenge in it and certainly a pay off. (Emotionally, intellectually, etc.) And I've done that before (taking over the Colorado Rockies from inaugural season and turning them into a 125-win season force). But if that ever happened with the Brewers I fear I would lose interest. (Or, more likely, find a way to tear it all down and start again.) I am concerned enough that the Brewers have the best career win-loss record in the MGL and third best in the WPK.

2) I'm thrilled to see the perennial bottom-feeder Charlotte Sting team win the MGL and finish with the most wins in the WPK! Much of what has gone right in this save is that some more dominant teams have emerged (Columbus Whalers, Jacksonville Wolf Pack, especially) and some very weak organizations already developing a reputation for futility have emerged- El Paso Dawgs, Detroit Falcons- I'm looking at you. But it's also great to see that in this league one can move from the latter into the realm of the former. And that is exactly what the Sting did this season.

3) Unlike many who play OOTP in fictional league mode, I did not set up the league and then sim forward a chunk of years to establish a history and let talent distribution sort itself out a bit. I jumped right in with day 1, and I haven't regretted it a bit. And so far (knock on wood) one thing I am happy about is that talent distribution seems very realistic. There is a nice mix of superstars, but nobody that really pushes the envelop of believability. Stars have risen and then subsequently fallen, mediocre players have suddenly produced an All-Star season, solid contributors have put up good numbers year after year, never rising to the level of future HOF's but looking very much like one of those players who will be the source of HOF debates for years to come (think the Al Oliver's or Lou Whitaker's of the WPK). And yes, there are some likely HOF's, but even then well within the parameters of what a baseball universe should look like.

4) Yearly statistical leaders also fall well within expected norms. Maybe a bit too much as there have been few outliers, especially when it comes to offensive production. But we are only 8 seasons in, so that is probably a good thing. Granted, things have been a bit more skewed to pitching and defense thus far, but that is also a product of starting the league in 1965 and mirroring MLB realities of that time period. But even in pitching, no 30-game winners (or 30-game losers), no 300 K in a season pitchers, no 50 save seasons, etc. When the extreme does happen, and I'm sure in time it will, it will have meaning.

5) With the shift to OOTP 20 one thing that has changed is how the minor league teams are populated on the AI-run teams (any team not the Brewers, that is). I have always allowed ghost players for simplicity sake and to avoid having to deal with any shortages of players. And for many seasons now this has practically meant that most AI run minor league teams have far too few actual players on their roster and a whole lotta minor league talent sits around on the free agent list. Meanwhile, I've chosen to always keep my minor leagues fully stocked and more and more I have taken control of those rosters. This imbalance has annoyed me a bit but wasn't a deal breaker. I just accepted it. Then OOTP 20 came along and suddenly every organization is keeping their minor league teams fully stocked. Great! Except suddenly when I need to fill a gap in my organization late in a season by signing a minor league free agent there are almost no players there. Everybody (almost) is playing somewhere. Great for them, not always so great for me. So the next amateur draft has been boosted to 30 rounds (instead of 25) and with enough players for 31 rounds (I forgot to factor in a supplemental first round when I first set up this league.) And I'm seriously thinking about adding a small independent league to give some free agents another place to play.

I guess that's it for now. I really had no idea what I was doing when I first set up this fictional league. When I first started it I was pretty brand new to OOTP and although I had played my Rockies save for a while, this was my first foray into the fictional side of things. And partly because of that I (in hindsight, wisely) kept things pretty simple and mostly went with default settings. Although I slowly add in more as I go along, I am very happy with how this approach has worked out. I love this league more and more and expect to be playing it for many, many years to come.

And I thank you for following along and making it even more interesting for me with your feedback.
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Old 05-14-2019, 08:17 PM   #189
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October 1st Development Report

I alluded earlier to the most recent development reports from our scouting staff, led by head scout Nick Meskill.
Let's look a bit more closely at some of the highlights now.

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As one would expect some young pitchers are seen as developing in a promising direction while some veterans are seen as giving indications of declining skills. Left handed reliever Jeremy Walker was given his first opportunity at the big league level this September and it was really more an opportunity for him to spend some time in the Brewers dugout and rubbing shoulders with more experienced players. He pitched in 3 games and for only 1 full inning pitched altogether and was not very good. But he's considered a durable pitcher, he projects to be great at inducing groundballs (extreme groundballer), has great movement, stuff that is developing towards excellence, and throws a fantastic curveball which he compliments with an above average sinker. Control is still an issue, but as a live-armed lefty he will be given every opportunity to earn a spot in the bullpen in 1973. Eric Johnson, who started 2 games for the Brewers at the end of the season, and wasn't bad at all, increasingly looks like he should be a very good control pitcher. Like Walker his curveball is his best pitch and he also induces groundballs. His stuff is mediocre and his movement poor, but Johnson is smart (if not terribly motivated) and still has a chance to earn a back-end of the rotation role.

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Two other younger pitchers appear to moving in opposite directions. At the beginning of this season Justin Peacock looked like most likely of the Brewers stable of AAA starters with some WPK potential to actually become a 5th starter in the rotation. He spent much of this season back in AAA and then suffered an injury in early September from which he is still recovering. And his stock has fallen just a bit. Meanwhile, Steve LaCoste, who has been the captain of the AAA club for a few seasons now, and he is seen as rising a bit in the estimation of the scouting staff, essentially putting him in a virtual tie with Peacock in terms of potential to succeed at the WPK level. Neither, though, are premium prospects.
A few position players get good grades. Not a big thing, but the perception is that Mike Foster's HR power has developed to a bit above average and this raises his current perceived value. Josh Schaeffer, who as we know tore it up in his short stint with the Brewers this late season, is on the verge of being a valuable starter in the WPK per the scouting staff, who see his contact and power potential being a bit greater than earlier thought.
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20-year old reliever Antonio Nieves, a Mexican scouting discovery signed in 1968, has serious control issues. But if he can make just a bit of improvement in that area, his potential is actually quite good. He has a reputation of being a very smart and hard working young man, so who's betting against him? And while Joe Willemse doesn't have a high ceiling, it is starting to look like he might be ready to step into a utility role as early as mid-season 1973.
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He had a great season, as we've already established, but the scouting staff seems to have soured on David Bennett. Now don't get me wrong, they still see him as a big league worthy second baseman but no longer a possible star, he profiles now more as a second division starter. Similarly, 19-year old center fielder Jorge Gonzalez seems to have taken a step backwards and the feeling is that his well above average power potential projection made earlier might have been a bit unrealistic. Gonzalez is still quite young, has good contact potential and is a plus defender, so there is still time for him to develop into a star. At the very least, he certainly looks like he has the tools to have a role in the bigs.
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And probably the biggest winner in the latest development report is 18-year old starting pitcher Yunus Wiseman. Don't get me wrong, Wiseman is still a long shot for any meaningful big league role. But he's very young, he's a hard worker, profiles as durable, and he's an extreme groundballer who has now added a sinker to his repertoire. Only time will tell, but at least he's moved from being a 16th round afterthought to being someone who will get a bit of attention from management, just in case.

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Old 05-14-2019, 10:22 PM   #190
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Lee Pitcher of Month for September 1972

Part of the strong finish to the season was the wonderful month that Cheol-han Lee had.
Lee earns Pitcher of the Month for September for his efforts.

As the reigning Pitcher of the Year in the MGL, Lee once again has made a case for winning the honor again, having in some ways produced an ever better season then the one that brought him the award for the 1971 season.
Should he win the award for this season it would be the 4th of his illustrious career.
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Old 05-15-2019, 12:38 AM   #191
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1972 WPK World Series Preview

The 1972 WPK World Series begins today at Charlotte's BB&T Ballpark, when the MGL champion Charlotte Sting host the SJL champion Columbus Whalers.

As is well known, the match-up is between a 2-time WPK Champ in the Whalers and a perennial doormat, up until this breathtakingly surprising season, in the Sting.

The Sting finished with by far their best season record, at 101-61 while the Whalers 96-66 record gave them a rather narrow SJL pennant over the Jacksonville Wolf Pack.

But it's a new season now- the post-season. And it's anybody's guess who will prevail in the end.

Here though are some keys to watch for and a bit of a break-down of each teams strengths and weaknesses.

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The Columbus Whalers: The Whalers primary strength, especially in a short series, is their dominant, veteran front end of the pitching rotation. In Jake Harris and Jaime Schardein they have two of the most celebrated pitchers in the game and 27-year old Bobby Garrity is a very strong #3. The rotation gets a bit tentative after that but in a 7-game series it might not matter. And if it does, should some unforeseen tragedy befall one or more of their big three, they do have the luxury of having a veteran former starter, lefty Chris Pollack, and a young Derrick Morant, who would likely be a mid-rotation starter on most teams, lurking in the bullpen. If Harris, Schardein, and Garrity just keep doing what they have did during the regular season, it could be the end of the line for the Sting.
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The Charlotte Sting: The Sting have a solid rotation of their own, though quite a bit younger and less experienced. Jalen Cotton, in particular, had a break-out season this year and if he can carry that into the World Series it could somewhat counteract the Columbus big three advantage. Mike Hiatt, who has hurled two no-hitters in his career, including throwing a perfect game against the Brewers this season, is a bit hit and miss. If he's on, as has been shown, he can be dominating. But on a bad day the Whalers may be able to take advantage and which Hiatt shows up in the series may be the biggest key of all for the Sting's chances of taking home their first championship trophy.


So let's break it down a bit:

Pitching: While the Sting's rotation goes a bit deeper, with #4 starter Nate Tolbert a very solid option (while the Whalers #4 Decheng Lei's more than the most fleeting involvement in the series would probably be a sign of great desperation on Columbus part), the fact is that the starting pitching edge has to go to Columbus.The Sting appear to have the bullpen edge, including having probably the most dominant closer in WPK history in Jamel McNeil. McNeil, who threw 140 innings this season over the course of 77 appearances, can come in often and early if need be, and can pitch multiple innings. If the Sting can get out to early leads, this is real weapon in their arsenal. Columbus' young closer Alvaro Hernandez also had a tremendous season, even if he doesn't have the outrageous talent of a Jamel McNeil. But the Whalers bullpen is a bit weaker on the whole, other than the aforementioned presence of pitchers who would be starters in most rotations in the WPK.
I'm giving the edge to the Whalers, by a slight margin. (Again, Harris and Schardein. Hard to beat that.)

The Lineups: Although Charlotte ended up leading the MGL in batting average (barely beating out Denver, in spite of what I erroneously reported here earlier), neither of these teams is particularly dominant offensively. Columbus' best offensive skill is good power from 4 through 7 in the lineup. Charlotte does a decent job of getting on base, though more through hits than walks, and has one very good power hitter (Cody Kane) and few sluggers they acquired mid-season (Jamison Bash and Jim Decker.) Neither team has much team speed and they both have some weak spots in the lineup. Columbus is without their one true speedster, Leo Gavilla, who suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in March and isn't expected to be able to play again until Spring Training 1973 or later. Gavilla is the team captain of the Whalers and a really fine contact hitter with a bit of power. With Gavilla the edge in this category would go to Columbus. Without him though, I'll call it a draw.

Defense: Neither of these teams is top of the line defensively. But Charlotte does have a great defense up the middle, with shortstop David Flesh and second baseman Matt Sisk forming one of the best keystone combos in the WPK (both Gold Glove winners in the past) and center fielder Bill Adams the winner of the Gold Glove award the last 2 seasons. Charlotte is shaky on the corners (outfield more than infield) and solid but unspectacular behind the plate. Columbus is very decent up the middle, just not to the level of the Sting. Otherwise they are pretty similar to Charlotte. But on the basis of that great up-the-middle defense, I give the edge to Charlotte.

Bench: The Whalers have a young power hitting left fielder in Ricky Oliva and a defensively gifted back-up shortstop in Travis Kibler. Oliva can't field and Kibler can't hit. So depending upon how they are used they could be helpful, but with limitations. Veteran Dan Moore provides them with a speedy, defensively gifted outfielder off the bench. As a hitter he is mediocre, but with their corner outfield defense issues, his role could be an important one.
Charlotte's ace-in-the-hole is Blake Reese. Actually, it is hard to figure how Reese isn't a starter, as he has been, mostly quite successfully, for the past 3 years. At age 25, Reese is a fan favorite who has all the tools. Another 25-year old, Mike Potter, provides insurance in case something happens to David Flesh, as he is also a very fine defensive shortstop, though with fairly limited offensive value, other than good speed on the base paths. Not much for Charlotte beyond that, though former Brewer farmhand Brian Coppola does provide great speed also and is a capable right field back-up.
I'm going to give Charlotte a slight edge in this one just because of Reese.

All-in-all, it seems like a series where the pitching strengths of the two teams might make the biggest difference so I'm going to predict Columbus in 6 games with Harris and Schardein shutting down the Sting.

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Old 05-15-2019, 08:37 PM   #192
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1972 WPK World Series, Game 1 (at Charlotte)

With Columbus' ace Jake Harris on the mound it is not surprising that the Whalers drew first blood in the '72 World Series, albeit in what ended up being a razor close finish.

34,504 fans at Charlotte's BB&T Ballpark saw Sting starting pitcher Adam Getchell get into trouble in the first, allowing one run and wiggling out of a bases loaded jam. Getchell settled down after that until he gave up back-to-back HR's to Columbus center fielder Brad Tesh and first baseman Derrick Turner in the 7th inning. Meanwhile, lefty superstar ace Jake Harris carried a shutout into the 9th inning.
Then things got interesting. Harris gave up a lead-off double to Charlotte slugger Cody Kane, got Jamison Bash to ground out to third, but then saw Jim Decker hit a sharp grounder for a single sending Kane to third. Catcher Gabe Barten then came up with a clutch single, scoring Kane, while Decker moved to second.
At that point Harris day was done and Whalers closer Alvaro Hernandez came in to try to shut down the rally. He induced a groundball off the bat of Bill Adams for a fielder's choice, Decker moving to third. With pinch-hitter Blake Reese up, Alvaro's second pitch to the dangerous lefty seemed to cross up his catcher and went for a passed ball, scoring Decker. On the very next pitch Reese singled, sending Adams to third. So, with runners on the corners and the score now 3-2 with 2 outs, former Brewer Tanner Yurek came in as a pinch-hitter. Yurek was known in his time as a Brewer as a player who often came through in walk-off situations, often with a big home run.
Yurek took the first three pitches, all balls. The Charlotte faithful sensed a big come-from-behind victory about to come to fruition. Yurek took the next pitch. Strike one. He took another. Strike two. No more room for error. If it was anywhere near the strike zone Yurek had to swing at the next pitch. It was. He did. Strike three.

Game over. Columbus sends veteran right hander Jaime Schardein to the mound for tomorrow's game two while Charlotte counters with Mike Hiatt. In other words, the two pitchers who threw the first two perfect games in WPK history this season get to duke it out. Should be fun.
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Old 05-16-2019, 11:00 PM   #193
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1972 WPK World Series, Game 2 (at Charlotte)

In Game 2 of the 1972 WPK World Series it became pretty early on which Mike Hiatt was present, and it was definitely the good one.
While veteran Columbus hurler Jaime Schardein struggled early, giving up 4 runs in the bottom of the 2nd inning and one more in the third, Hiatt didn't give up a hit until the 5th inning and carried a shutout into the 9th. Although he did eventually allow a single run- Larry Glinski led off the inning with a double, moved to third on a ground out to short, and scored on a Hiatt wild pitch- in the end he got the win, 5-1, while allowing just 3 hits.
Charlotte right fielder Jim Decker provided the biggest offensive contributions, going 2 for 4 with 3 RBI including 2 in the second when he took Schardein deep for the only HR of the game.

Charlotte salvages a split of the first two games at home and now travel to Columbus where they need at least one win to bring the series back to Charlotte. Or they could sweep the next three games in Columbus and win the championship on the road. At the very least, with Nick Tolbert scheduled to take the mound for the Sting while inexplicably Decheng Lei is reportedly getting the nod for the Whalers, they have a decent chance of getting a edge with a win in Friday's game 3.
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Old 05-16-2019, 11:38 PM   #194
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1972 WPK World Series, Game 3 (at Columbus)

As it turned out, Charlotte manager Greg Maye and Columbus manager Aaron Toth were engaged in a bit of gamesmanship and subterfuge, as in fact the starters who took the mound for game 3 were Jalen Cotton for the visiting Sting and Bobby Garrity for the home town Whalers.

Though both teams might have been better off going with their previously stated intended starters as neither Cotton or Garrity were as effective as usual. Garrity in particular was a victim of, among other things, his own command struggles. Although he walked only 3 batters in his 5 innings pitched, a pair of two-out walks in the 1st inning led to 2 runs and put the Whalers behind early. He would allow another run in the top of the 3rd but then the home club rallied for 4 in the bottom of the frame to take a 4-3 lead. Having been given a lead Garrity needed to settle down a get a clean frame or two. He didn't. After having allowed 3 more runs in the next 2 innings he gave way to stopper Alvaro Hernandez, who pitched a good inning. The next Whalers reliever to enter the game, 25-year old Carlos Riojas, gave up a solo HR to Cody Kane. Meanwhile, Charlotte's dominant reliever Jamel McNeil took over from Cotton in the 7th inning and over 3 innings was pretty much perfect, allowing no runs, no hits, no walks, while striking out 7.

Charlotte takes the 2-1 advantage in the series with a 7-5 victory in Game 3. (Jim Decker stays hot, going 3 for 4 and hitting a double in the win.)
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Old 05-18-2019, 08:58 AM   #195
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1972 WPK World Series, Game 4 (at Columbus)

With Charlotte now leading the series 2 games to 1, Columbus manager Aaron Toth did in fact send out Taiwanese left-hander Decheng Lei to the mound to start game 4. And Charlotte countered with their 4th starter, Nick Tolbert, also a lefty and a fine groundball specialist.

Tolbert prevailed and the Sting are now one win away from their first WPK Championship.

Charlotte had a 2-1 lead going into the 6th and then things really started to unravel for Lei as he walked lead-off man Jim Decker (who stays hot, going 2 for 4 and has hit .563 so far in the WS), got a pair of relatively harmless outs (one of them moved Decker to second), then intentionally walked the dangerous Matt Sisk. On came pinch-hitter (and former Brewer) Tanner Yurek. Yurek worked a 2-2 count. As we know from his past as a Brewer, Tanner is a pretty good 3 true outcomes guy. In an earlier similar situation in the series the outcome was a strikeout. But he is also pretty good at working a walk. Then again, as a Brewer, he became pretty legendary for his well-timed home runs. And in this game, at a crucial juncture, that is exactly the outcome he produced. Three-run HR, Charlotte now on top 5-1. And it was really never in doubt after that, the Sting winning 7-2.

With one game left in Columbus, the Whalers need a win just to send the series back to Charlotte. And, of course, then need to win the final two games on the road if they are to capture their 3rd WPK championship title. It's a tall order, but with Jake Harris on the mound tomorrow at least they have a chance of staying alive a bit longer.
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Old 05-18-2019, 11:15 AM   #196
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Brewer Player Profile: Jordan Stephens

(I got to thinking about Jordan Stephens this morning while reading Baseball America and drinking my double espresso at my neighborhood coffee shop. Because, yeah, I spend a lot to time thinking about fictional characters in a computer baseball game. That's not odd at all, is it?)
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Jordan Stephens was drafted out of Long Beach State in the 4th round of the 1966 amateur player draft by the Charlotte Sting. While he was primarily a third baseman in college, the Sting saw his tremendous arm and potential as a reliever and converted him to a pitcher. In spite of his tremendous fastball and a curveball that profiles as having the potential to be elite, though it is still a work in progress, Stephens struggled in the Charlotte minor league system but still showed enough promise that he was brought up to the big league club (albeit a club that would finish in 9th place) for a good portion of the 1970 season. He appeared in 27 games for the Sting that season, getting credited with 7 saves though also recording a win-loss record of 1-6 with an ERA of 4.82.
In July of the next season he was traded to the Brewers for catcher Joey Townsend and outfielder Josh Hamm. (Joey spent 20 games in a Sting uniform in 1971 but then played for their AAA affiliate all of 1972. Hamm, at the age of 25, put up tremendous numbers in a limited amount of plate appearances at AA in 1972. He still has some potential for a big league bench role given his decent hit tool and great eye at the plate, but he is a defensive liability and a very slow runner.)

After joining the Brewers organization Jordan pitched for AAA Chester for much of the 1971 season, putting up decent but unspectacular numbers. One good sign though was that his BB/9 was down considerably from his earlier seasons in the minors. He earned a September call-up to the Brewers but pitched in only 4 games, struggling again with command (8.1 BB/9) but showing a good ability to get swings and misses (8.1 K/9) and putting up a 2.70 ERA. Stephens returned to AAA Chester to begin the 1972 season and pitched in 21 games there. His overall numbers weren't great, but he did show some improved command and his K/9 of 8.6 was encouraging.
Having been elevated to the Brewers bullpen at the end of June (he had bounced back a forth a bit between Denver and Chester earlier in the season), Stephens proceeded to have a tremendous season in the 'pen. He went 3-0 with 4 saves and put up an ERA of 0.79. His WHIP was also an impressive 0.91. His walks per 9 innings were down again (2.6) while his strikeouts per 9 innings remained steady (8.5). He didn't give up a single HR. His BABIP was a bit low (.250) but his FIP was an extremely impressive 1.60 with a FIP- of 51. While it can't be expected that Stephens will match those numbers in 1973, it is clear that at this point the plan is for him to be a full-time member of the Brewers bullpen for the foreseeable future.
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But really sets Stephens apart, and makes him so valuable, is that he can still play third base and has the potential to rake at the plate. In an admittedly small sample size, Stephens put up a slash line of .364/.391/.409. His greatest strength, potentially at least, as a batter is his HR power. He provides the team with a right handed power bat off the bench. And he has surprising speed and plus base running abilities for a pitcher/third baseman. (7's all around on a 1-10 scale.) He doesn't possess great range at third but his strong arm makes him a capable fielder at that position. It is also believed that he could be an acceptable corner outfielder if given the chance, though again with limited range.
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One thing that Brewers management places a high value on is versatility. It is largely what has kept the light-hitting Oscar Vargas on the major league roster so long- his ability to play multiple positions and to play them at a high level of skill. In Jordan Stephens management sees so much opportunity for flexibility in their 25-man roster as he gives them another third base backup for Mike Foster, a good bat and speedy runner off the bench, and a solid middle reliever. It gives them the opportunity to carry an extra pitcher during the long stretches of games in the middle of the season, with Stephens providing essentially another position player when he isn't on the mound. He has the potential to become the first true two-way player in Brewers history, though he will likely remain primarily a relief pitcher while providing a utility/pinch-hittting/pinch-running service on the side.
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Old 05-18-2019, 01:16 PM   #197
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1972 WPK World Series, Game 5 (at Columbus)

A couple of decisions made by the opposing managers in this one regarding how long to stick with their starting pitchers could easily have led to a winter's worth of debates, had things not gone as they did.

First of all, with his team trailing 2-1 in what was a possible knock-out game, Columbus manager Aaron Toth pulled his team's ace, Jake Harris, for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the 5th inning. It made some sense, as Columbus was desperate for offense and in fact the pinch-hitter, Mike Richmond, doubled with 2 outs. He was then stranded though when Larry Glinski hit a ground out to second base to end the inning.

Then, with the score still a very narrow 2-1, Charlotte manager Greg Maye opted to leave his starter, Adam Getchell in the game to face the heart of the Columbus order in the bottom of the 9th. Had Getchell faltered surely Maye would have come under intense heat for not bringing in a reliever, with several solid options fully rested. (Though stopper Jamel McNeil was pretty exhausted and likely not available.) Getchell bent a bit- walking Chad Jones with one out recorded, but he did not break- getting the ever dangerous Brad Tesh to hit into a fielder's choice and striking out the slumping Derrick Turner to end the game and the series.

The Charlotte Sting, against all odds, are your 1972 WPK World Champions!

Predictably enough, Jim Decker is named the series MVP in spite of going 0 for 4 in the deciding game.
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Old 05-18-2019, 02:28 PM   #198
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Brewers trade Puente, Singer to San Antonio, get prospects

As was long rumored, the Brewers did in fact trade away two veterans- right fielder Antonio Puente, an original Brewer, and reliever Eric Singer. They were able to swing a six-player deal with the San Antonio Keys which sent the two high priced players, along with a marginal minor league pitcher, Luis Alonzo, in exchange for three moderate prospects.
The Brewers got 23-year old third baseman Jesus Hidalgo, a high character leader with an average hit tool, good eye, and very strong arm, who profiles as having a ceiling of an average big league starter. They also received 23-year old shortstop Luis Hernandez, a defensive specialist who can provide plus defense at second base as well, and in spite of having just average speed is a plus base stealer and base runner. Hernandez is considered a very hard worker but it will likely take more than maximum effort for him to become anything more than a sub-par hitter. And finally, the Brewers got 21-year old catcher Adam Wheeler. Wheeler projects to have an average hit tool with some pop but also a propensity to strike out too often and is slightly above average, at best, behind the plate. He most likely just provides some minor league depth.

But really this trade was less about what the Brewers received and more about unloading some expensive contracts and freeing up space in the outfield and in the bullpen for talented younger players. And even though the Brewers had to retain some of both Singer and Puente's contracts (which run through 1974) to make the deal, they came out far ahead financially and free up a great deal of salary space as a result.
What they might do with it remains to be seen.
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Old 05-18-2019, 02:48 PM   #199
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Six-time All-Star Zacarias retires!

Rumored to have suffered an undisclosed injury recently, 38-year old catcher Rey Zacarias today announced his official retirement from the game. Rumor has it that the very popular Zacarias, considered a leader in the WPK and one of the smarter players in the game, might be looking at getting into politics. Should that not pan out for him it is almost certain that he could have a future in management in the WPK.

Zacarias, who played for two teams in his WPK career, having started with the Philadelphia Mud Hens for his first four seasons, then signing as a free agent with the Washington Night Train for three seasons, only to return to his original team, again via free agency, for the final season of his career. He was a 6-time All-Star, 3-time Silver Slugger, and proud owner of one World Championship ring as a member of the 1971 Washington Night Train.
Although he finishes with numbers well shy of Hall of Fame status, Zacarias leaves baseball as a well-respected, some would even say revered, player. You would be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn't wish the best for him in his future endeavors.
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Old 05-18-2019, 04:18 PM   #200
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1972 Gold Glove Awards

As expected, three Brewers (one now a former Brewer) win Gold Glove awards for the 1972 season.
Catcher Kevin Curtis earns his third straight GG while Bobby Erbakan wins his fourth consecutive. As expected, right fielder Antonio Puente, recently traded to San Antonio, claims the first Gold Glove award of his career at the age of 28.
Among the remainder of the MGL Gold Glove award winners is Charlotte center fielder Bill Adams for the third consecutive year.
All the other MGL winners were first timers.
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In the SJL, Jacksonville's veteran third baseman Jesus Casiano claims his 6th Gold Glove award, his fourth at third base.
24-year old Boston left-fielder Curtis Horah wins his 5th Gold Glove.
Jacksonville right fielder Ricky Salinas and San Antonio catcher Erik Buonopane each get their 3rd GG.
Kevin Poutre, first baseman for Seattle, gets #2.
All of the rest of the SJL GG winners are first timers.
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