69-93 (.426); 3rd place in NL East (as Long Island Tigers)
OF Rusty Greer, DH Brad Fullmer, INF Deivi Cruz, LHP Darren Oliver, OF Daryle Ward, 2B Ron Belliard, INF Mark Loretta, RHP Matt Anderson, C Dan Wilson, OF Wil Cordero
1B John Olerud, 2B Ray Durham, OF B.J. Surhoff, LHP Mike Remlinger, RHP Jason Schmidt, C Brent Mayne, OF Tom Goodwin
In its last season in Long Island, the Tigers were unfortunately anything but ferocious. While its lineup was still dangerous at times (finishing 8th in the league with 823 runs scored), the scars of many battles finally caught up with its veteran pitchers.
Kent Bottenfield (9-16, 6.70 ERA) and Todd Stottlemyre (5-9, 6.91 ERA) are but two examples of the team's struggling pitching staff. Not even the lively arm of 20-year-old Rick Ankiel (6-13, 5.93 ERA), brought up from the minors to provide a youthful spark, was immune to the struggle.
Long Island's best player in 2001 was unquestionably DH Frank Thomas (.317, 45 HR, 140 RBI). Thomas also drew 121 walks, leading the NL in the category. His 45 home runs left him second in the league while his 140 RBIs was good for third. This performance was a relief for Tiger fans, as he rebounded remarkably after a poor 2000 campaign (.263, 15 HR, 74 RBI).
Other bright spots for Long Island were young OF Lance Berkman (.294, 25 HR, 75 RBI), 2B Ray Durham (.299, 103 R, 29 SB) and LHP Mike Remlinger (60 IP, 2.72 ERA, 21 SV).
The Tigers franchise was once a pillar of the league, posting 100+ win seasons in 1995, 1996 and 1998 as well as advancing the BRASSball World Series in each of those same seasons. Ever since the untimely passing of founding owner and BRASSball legend Tom Taormina, however, the Tigers have been looking to reestablish an identity.
Enter new owner Al Telgenhof. Like Taormina, Telgenhof was himself a founding member of the BRASSball league. His original team, the Charleviox Cutters, won 100 games and the NL Central title in 1995 and won 92 games in 1996.
While admitting that nobody can replace the leadership lost with Taormina, Telgenhof has promised to restore the focus that once drove this proud franchise. And as a further tribute to its past, Telgenhof announced that the team (now relocated to Charlevoix) will maintain its famous Tigers nickname.
In a recent interview, Telgenhof explained that his off-season strategy had three main goals: 1) get younger; 2) upgrade the bullpen; and 3) target undervalued free agents.
A big off-season trade addressed the first goal. Shortly after assuming control, Telgenhof traded 1B John Olerud (32 years old) and 2B Ray Durham (29) to Columbus for 2B Ron Belliard (26), OF Daryle Ward (26) and minor league 1B Dernell Stenson (22). While unproven, these young players are talented and should contribute for years to come.
Regarding its second goal to upgrade its bullpen, Charleviox took a major step by acquiring young RHP Matt Anderson (15 IP, 5.40 ERA, 19 K) from Plaza. Anderson is expected to play a major role, perhaps even as closer, for the Tigers in 2002. Also joining the team is talented LHP Dennys Reyes (46 IP, 4.70 ERA, 30 K), still only 24 years old and filled with upside potential.
And for its final goal of signing undervalued free agents, Charleviox successfully inked proven veterans like 1B/DH Brad Fullmer (.305, 23 HR, 78 RBI), OF Rusty Greer (.309, 26 2B, 47 R), OF Wil Cordero (.261, 13 HR, 57 RBI) and C Dan Wilson (.189, 6 HR, 26 RBI). All of these players signed multiyear deals valued at $1 million per season or less.
A rebuilding process is underway, and the Tigers will have to be patient. Given the weak state of the NL East, however, Charlevoix could sneak away with a division title as soon as this season. Even if it does not, though, a plan is in place and the Tigers should soon be clawing their way through the postseason once again.
2B Ron Belliard
LF Rusty Greer
1B Frank Thomas
RF Lance Berkman
DH Brad Fullmer
3B Deivi Cruz/Tyler Houston
CF Ruben Rivera
C Dan Wilson
SS Carlos Guillen
Kent Bottenfield/Brian Bohanon