League News

March 2002

www.brassball.org

 

 

2002 Season Set to Commence

 

With the draft and secondary free agency completed, the eighth BRASSball season is ready to roll.  The Ocala Ocelots are looking to defend their title.  By all accounts they appear ready and very capable to do just that.  By my quick spanning of the rosters I believe I count 15 BRASSball teams that approach Opening Day with a realistic shot at a post-season berth.  As you read further on you will see I predict electric pennant races in both the AL East and NL Central.   Furthermore, 2002 may witness the rebirth of the early BRASSball titan, Bloomington Bees.  Of the 10 teams that made the playoffs last year only Plaza appears in full out rebuilding mode.  Others have noticeable chinks (Santa Barbara, Minnesota, Glen Allen and Toledo).  All this is good news for the fans in Georgia, Moline and Gem City, to name a few.

 

In this pre-season edition of League News you’ll find an extensive draft recap and my own personal take on the division races. Also, please pay particular attention to the tidbits that fall at the end.  There is important info in there.  Good luck to all and let’s have a great season!

 

Draft Recap

 

The 2002 BRASSball rookie draft survived what could have been a calamitous event.  Everyone got on the same page quickly as we became operational in an AOL chat room within a half hour.  Once again, I extend my compliments to all.  The draft concluded at a very reasonable hour.

 

Text Box: Past #1 picks…
1996: Quilvio Veras
1997: Dmitri Young
1998: Rick Reed
1999: Orlando Hernandez
2000: Tim Hudson
2001: Glendon Rusch
Juan Uribe was taken #1 in 2002 by Metropolis.  After the draft, Juan found himself a year older and shipped to Santa Barbara.  Racine followed with the selection of the spunky David Eckstein.  Metropolis also possessed the third pick and nabbed the first amateur of the day, Dennis Tankersley.  Toby Hall then went #4 to Ray’s Mudhens.   Described by Ocelot owner, Corey Weisser as the “next Mike Piazza,” Hall may find he has some advance billing to live up to quickly.  With a title under his belt, who’s to argue with Weisser’s assessment?  With the selection of LHP Carlos Hernandez at #5, Bloomington began an all day marathon of pitcher selections.  11 of the 13 Bees’ picks were used on moundsmen.  At #6 a former BRASSball star, John Smoltz, re-entered the league, this time with North Georgia.  Charlevoix then picked Kazuhisa Ishii, potentially the second in a long line of Japanese imports going early in BRASSball drafts.  The “tradition” was started last year with Ichiro.  Al at #7 was the first new BRASSball face to make a selection.  Other picks by new managers that immediately become answers to trivia questions: Angel Berroa (#9, SPR), Giovanni Cararra (#14, LAC), and Bob File (#18, MOL).  Other first round selections that were solid picks in my humble opinion were, Tim Redding (#11), Gabe Gross (#20), Brandon Lyon (#23) and Joe Mauer (#24).

 

Here is a rough list on my part of “astute” and “steal” picks from the second thru sixth rounds.  I defined “astute” as a player whose talent combined with his draft position demonstrated that the manager was wise to his skills quicker than others quite possibly.  I defined a “steal” pick as a player who seemingly fell to a slot, with little reason, in my estimation anyway.  The lists that follow are all based on my personal conjecture, obviously.  It will be fun for me to revisit in the future.

 

                                    Astute picks                                       Steal picks

Round 2                      Tim Spooneybarger (#35, NG) Craig Wilson (#53, MIN)

                                    John Buck (#58, SPR)                         

Round 3                      Morgan Ensberg (#76, GA)                  Fernando Tatis (#68, CC)

                                    Eric Hinske (#79, PLZ)                        Michael Young (#80, MIN)

Bonus                          Brett Evert (#89, GEO)                        Miguel Cabrera (#92, FLE)

Round 4                      Jorge Julio (#115, FLE)                        Shea Hillenbrand (#102, NG)

                                                                                                Shawn Chacon (#121, OCA)

Round 5                      Mike Rivera (#129, FLE)                     Scott Stewart (#125, GEM)

                                    Luis Vizcaino (#133, GA)

Round 6                      Jose Acevedo (#164, OCA)                 John-Ford Griffin (#152, CHA)

 

I present next the five teams that I thought did pretty darn well with their selections.  That’s not to say that others bumbled and stumbled, but rather that these five stood out more than most.

 

Charlevoix Tigers:  Al followed a productive free agency with a solid draft.  With his eye firmly on the future Al took 5 amateurs with his first five picks: Kaz Ishii, Chris Burke, Bobby Brownlie, Ty Howington and John-Ford Griffin.  Not one there that isn’t highly thought of.  Al did draft in Luis Pineda, though, a player who has since aged 4.5 years J

 

Moline Cutters:  Another new manger made a solid draft debut.  No team in the playoff hunt did a better job of finding players ready to step in and help out in a significant fashion.  Bob File, Ruben Sierra, Norm Charlton and Rock Raines Sr. (don’t laugh, his card is AWESOME) all figure to make the Cutter roster out of spring training.

 

Springfield Isotopes:  Yet another new manager shines in their debut (ed. Beware veteran BRASSballers).  Any of you familiar with Baseball America will understand this:  the Topes did Will Lingo and Jim Callis proud!  Good to see Senor Burns doesn’t scrimp on the scouting budget.  First they landed super shortstop prospect, Angel Berroa.  Young stud arms then came in the form of Brandon Claussen and Rafael Soriano (since traded for fellow prospect, Corwin Malone).  To top it all off the Topes land John Buck, a catcher some scouts have called the best up and comer behind the dish since Johnny Bench.  Whew!

 

Minnesota Mudcats:  Yes, I know…tooting my own here J I rest my assertion on that from the most picks taken of any team (19) my Mudcats managed to have a successful and balanced draft.  10 hitters and 9 pitchers.  A couple youngsters were added who can provide immediate help (Reitsma and Craig Wilson).  Two highly touted hitting prospects were added in Kotchman and Gautreau.  And lastly, the Mudcats hopefully got some young “steals” in Lyle Overbay and Michael Young.

 

Cook County Maulers:  The perennial BRASSball heavyweights added a studly catcher/slugger in the first round with the selection of Josh Phelps.  Then in the additions of Brian Lawrence and Dave Williams, Kevin selected two pitchers who are primed to help now and be integral in future Mauler rotations.  Fernando Tatis, if healthy, could prove to be quite a fortuitous pick.  Lastly the Maulers solidified their pitching depth with their final four selections:  Jesse Foppert, Ricardo Rodriguez, Clint Nageotte and Tony Pluta.  All four come with burgeoning credentials and nasty stuff.

 

Honorable Mention: Bloomington, Metropolis, Ocala and Plaza.

 

Billy Beane, quoted from an article in the February 27th issue of Baseball Weekly in response to his bold and sometimes maverick GM style:

“But hey, you’ve got to take chances.  Sometimes I feel like I’m playing a game of Risk or Strat-O-Matic with my buddies.” 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

SEASON PREVIEW

 

Here is my assessment of how the divisions stack up for the 2002 season.  Most divisions look like they could be real fun to watch.  Only Ocala and Cook County at this time appear to be in rarified air in relation to their division-mates.

 

NL EAST      

 

Text Box: Past NL East Champs
2001: Glen Allen, 78-84
2000: Glen Allen, 92-70
1999: Long Island, 93-69
1998: Long Island, 104-58
1997: Motor City, 103-59
In 2001 the NL East was BRASSball’s weakest division as no squad was able to make it to .500.  I do not predict that to happen again, but I do think it will remain the league’s weakest division for the moment. 

 

Last year’s champ were the Mets from Glen Allen and I peg them to hold onto their title once more.  Their starting rotation is one of the stronger ones in the league as it sets up with Barry Zito, Eric Milton, Todd Ritchie and Steve Trachsel.  The bullpen is average, but capable and is led by Bob Wickman and Mike Venafro.  Rumor out of camp is that Albert Pujols is bursting all over and could be the Mets’ best player ever.  The lineup figures to be overly right-handed which makes successful campaigns for David Segui and Trot Nixon all the more important.  The last two years the Mets have split in the post-season with the Ocelots.  I see another matchup to settle it once and for all.

 

The 2-4 slots in the NL East may be a bit jumbled but I see the Racine Heat as the second best team here.  The rotation is solid, headed by Radke and Mays.  The bullpen is very deep, but is totally right-handed.  The offense will test Fred’s managerial nerve as he’ll need to manufacture runs with a lineup whose biggest bopper is Marty Cordova.

 

The Springfield Isotopes look like team #3 in the NL East.  While the front 3 of the rotation are excellent and young (Mulder, Ramon Ortiz & Washburn) the fourth and fifth slots are not.  Topes have an excellent closer in Billy Wagner back in fine health.  The offense figures to be functional, but like the rotation has noticeable holes at the moment.  Look for Corey Koskie to be on the trade block all-season.  The Topes do feature some of the best minor league talent in BRASSball, however.

 

Bringing up the rear will most likely be the Charlevoix Tigers.  The rotation is heavily left-handed in the likes of Jimmy Anderson, Omar Daal and Darren Oliver.  While young Matt Anderson figure to close games out the rest of the pen is a hodge podge for Al to muddle through.  The offense, though, should be quite enjoyable for Tiger fans.  Lance Berkman is a rising BRASSball stud.  Free-agent acquisition Brad Fullmer could be a very powerful addition.  Add in Daryle Ward and the Tigers have the makings of a fine future heart of the order.

 

NL CENTRAL

 

Text Box: Past NL Central Champs
2001: Stanley, 103-59
2000: Stanley, 92-70
1999: Bloomington, 108-54
1998: Bloomington, 127-35
1997: Bloomington, 128-34
Last year the NL Central was the best division in BRASSball as it sent three teams to the NL playoffs.  While sending three teams to the playoffs may prove difficult the second time around, I do see it as the toughest division in the league to cipher and probably will be the most enthralling all season long.

 

My pick to come out on top in this six-month scrum is the Fleetwood Walkers.  Joal has assembled a starting staff that is both veteran, with the likes of Al Leiter, Steve Sparks and Livan Hernandez and young, AJ Burnett and Brad Penny.  The bullpen is deep and flexible.  The closer position is unclear at the moment but leading up to it will be arms like Ramiro Mendoza, Dan Plesac and Mike DeJean.  Derek Lowe or Esteban Yan figures to close games out.  The lineup is possibly second only to Ocala’s in the NL.  It has all the ingredients.  On Base (Bob Abreu), Power (Jim Edmonds & Paul Konerko) and On Base plus Power (Chipper Jones).  A weakness may lie in Jose Valentin as a full-time SS.  While Jose can hold his own offensively he will need to be solid in the field for the Walkers.  Watch out for Marcus Giles.  Rumor has it he could be a helpful little sparkplug for this squad.

 

While I do project last year’s champ, Stanley, to be unseated I have to admit that it is fully within their power to prove my prognostication wrong.  Randy Johnson is awesome, no doubt.  However, the Sioux’s big free agent acquisition, Kevin Brown has reportedly been “tight” in the spring.  If he’s not ready to contribute for a full season then the Sioux have issues.  The bullpen is very good, but like the Walkers is lacking a truly defined closer.  Antonio Alfonseca appears to be the man at the moment.  The offense would be considered “juggernaut-ish” if not for the left/right imbalance.  Rafael Palmeiro and Bernie Williams will need to produce to keep the opposition honest as Moises Alou, Jeff Kent, Jermaine Dye and Paul LoDuca all swing righty.  Keep an eye on young Joel Pineiro.  Like Giles for the Walkers he could be the spark that helps the Sioux out during the season.

 

A very close third spot I see occupied by the Bloomington Bees.  The starting rotation is the best in the division as it features young horses Mark Buehrle, Chris Carpenter, Jeff Weaver and CC Sabathia.  But holdover, Mike Mussina is the ace and unquestioned leader.  If Moose is stronger than normal and pushes the youngsters to a higher plane, the Bees’ will finish better than advertised.  The Bees have the best closer in the division, Armando Benitez, who was acquired just recently.  That too is a nice plus for the team.  The offense though makes the Bees difficult to figure.  2001trade acquisition, Juan Gonzalez needs to rebound, as does Vinny Castilla.  Gabe Kapler needs to build on his solid rookie campaign.  Rumor has it that Japanese import, Ichiro, is ready to set the league on fire.  We’ll see.

 

The last spot falls to the Buckeyes of Columbus, a 2001 playoff participant.  The main reason for the drop-off comes in the form of an unclear rotation that simply is not as strong as their division mates, on paper.  They do return the NL’s leading rookie in the person of Randy Wolf.  But stellar seasons will be needed from the veterans like Kevin Tapani and Denny Neagle.  The Bucks also lack a true closer down in the pen.  The reason the Bucks will perform well and continue to challenge is a young and impressive lineup that features Carlos Beltran, Jeremy Giambi, Richard Hidalgo, Scott Rolen and Jimmy Rollins.  This is not your ordinary cellar dweller.

 

NL WEST

 

Text Box: Past NL West Champs
2001: Ocala, 113-49
2000: Ocala, 105-57
1999: Ocala, 93-69
1998: Channel Islands, 103-59
1997: Channel Islands, 80-82
The NL West has come to be dominated by the league’s defending champion, Ocala Ocelots.  I see no indication of that trend ending in 2002.  I do, however see the division improving as a whole with Metropolis in particular looking very bright in years to come.

 

 The Ocelots will defend their crown with an offense that is the best in the league.  The free agent signing of Brian Giles gives the Ocelots four murderous left-handed hitters: Giles, JD Drew, Shawn Green and Todd Helton.  Around these thumpers Corey can supplement Derek Jeter, Sammy Sosa and Jason Kendall.  Oh my!  If there is a weakness on the Ocelot team it is that the pitching staff, as a whole, does not match with others in the NL.  Javier Vazquez is obviously very good.  He finished second in CY voting and was the MVP of the World Series.  But right now behind him are Glendon Rusch, Jamey Wright and Blake Stein.  The key to the staff will be to see how Weisser works in talented youngsters like Roy Oswat, Adam Eaton and Shawn Chacon.  The pen should be dependable and features a nasty closer in the person of Troy Percival.

 

One of the teams making the most off-season noise was Gem City.  Dave rocketed through free agency, landing big time players.  He made many trades.  All in the hope of chasing down the Ocelots.  He’s closer, but methinks he positioned himself very well for a playoff spot regardless of the Herculean Ocelots.  The revamped starting rotation is now built around Chan Ho Park and Daryl Kile.  Both of these vets were integral members of playoff squads last year and Dave obviously needs that experience to carry over to 2002.  The pen is deep and flexible enough to be a weapon for the Pack.  Closing games now for the Wolfpack will be free agent signee, Jason Isringhausen.  The offense has on base and the requisite number of thumpers.  The recent trade acquisition of Frank Catalanotto should prove very important.  Dave will also need the old legs of Steve Finley and Rickey Henderson to continue getting on base for his sluggers.  They come in the form of Carlos Delgado, Pudge Rodriguez, Greg Vaughn and free agent steal, Reggie Sanders.

 

At number three is North Georgia.  Tony’s boys look improved.  The starting pitching should be functional behind the likes of Jason Bere, Jon Lieber and Scott Schoeneweis.  The bullpen could be above average has it is deep and talented.  Look for recent first-round draftee, John Smoltz, to close games out in 2002.  The offense lacks pop and in BRASSball that is not good.  Fred McGriff just can’t hit enough dingers for these guys.  If Brian Jordan, Placido Polanco and Edgar Renteria all pick it up I see no reason why the Yellow Jackets can’t get back up to .500

 

Ah, last in BRASSball, but first in Metropolis are the Avengers.  Andy appears just about ready to unleash his barrage of talent- next year.  I have no idea who will pitch month to month for these guys other than Tony Armas.  Same goes for the offense, but Aramis Ramirez could very well become an all-star performer for years to come.  The Avengers mantra continues to be “youth, youth, youth.”  When it’s all finally assembled and rolled out it could be scary for the rest of BRASSball.

 

AL EAST

 

Text Box: Past AL East Champs
2001: Minnesota, 106-56
2000: Minnesota, 100-62
1999: Monroeville, 92-70
1998: St. Lucie, 97-65
1997: St. Lucie, 103-59
The AL East, much like the NL Central, could be an absolute joy to watch.  All four teams are fairly close and there appears to be a good indication that the division could send three teams to the playoffs.  It will be interesting to see if any squad makes a big in-season trade to alter the dynamics.

 

My pick to come out on top in 2002 is Moline.  The Cutters have aggressively been built into a contender all off-season.  The offense sees few equals.  Heading up the show this year will be Barry Bonds.  But the lineup goes nine-deep and features the likes of Luis Gonzalez, Bret Boone, Ellis Burks and Torii Hunter.  The middle of the field defense is the best in BRASSball as it has Omar Vizquel and Bret Boone at short and second, respectively.  Hunter will patrol CF like a gazelle.  While the bullpen is very strong with the likes of Jeff Zimmerman, Bob File and Arthur Rhodes, the starters are the negative on the Cutters.  Curt Schilling is no doubt the anchor.  His contract alone (1 year, 10 plus million dollars) is evidence of strong faith in the abilities of one man to lead others to greater heights.  Right now Elmer Dessens, Ismael Valdes and Kevin Jarvis figure to round out the rotation.  The intriguing aspect of the staff comes in what assignments David decides on for the trio of Rolando Arrojo, Miguel Batista and Kelvim Escobar. 

 

I see two-time defending division champs, Minnesota, slipping to second.  The main reason is an unclear pitching staff and the gaping hole left by the departure of Brian Giles.  The Mudcats appear to have five competent starters, but their health is a question for a few of them.  Matt Morris hasn’t started a game since 1999.  Pedro Astacio is solid, but is having a rough spring.  Chris Reitsma is a rookie.  Mike Hampton will need to continue to be successful and guide this staff.  The bullpen is deep and flexible as it leads up to BRASSball’s all time Saves leader, Trevor Hoffman.  The offense will miss Brian Giles greatly.  Paul O’Neill was brought in as a stopgap till a long term solution is found.  In the end, the offense will depend on the bats of Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi and Sean Casey even more now.

 

The third place predicted Georgia Braves are the team to watch.  Hands down, they have the best pitching staff in the league.  They roll out four young, talented starters: Freddy Garcia, Russ Ortiz, Tim Hudson and Wade Miller.  The bullpen is anchored by Keith Foulke, who is quietly becoming one of BRASSball’s finest closers.  Eric’s setup men are well above average.  But the question, as it has been in past seasons, is whether or not the Braves can score runs to get their pitchers wins.  The power on the team is reasonable, but not near that of some of the elite lineups.  Guys like Mike Cameron, Dmitri Young and Derrek Lee need to bust out for the Braves.  An interesting spring decision comes in the question of “What about Pokey?”  Pokey is signed to a significant contract, but in spring camp he has been challenged successfully by Jose Hernandez and Todd Walker.  Will Pokey take to being a sub?  But make no mistake- this team is still clearly in the hunt for a division title and a playoff spot.

 

The rear is brought up by Hessville.  The Everready’s have tried to make up ground this off season, bringing in Tom Glavine and Shane Reynolds to augment a light staff.  The bullpen is sound and features Flash Gordon, Mark Wohlers and the vastly under appreciated Josias Manzanillo.  The offense is long in the tooth with the likes of Jay Bell, Andres Galarraga, Mark McGwire and BJ Surhoff all figuring to receive significant playing time.  Jose Vidro and Larry Walker are legitimate all-stars, but I think Jim may need to keep nudging players in the dugout to remain “ever ready.”  J

 

AL CENTRAL

 

Text Box: Past AL Central Champs
2001: Cook County, 122-40
2000: Cook County, 107-55
1999: Cook County, 123-39
1998: Cook County, 118-44
1997: Cook County, 117-45

Like Ocala in the NL West, the Maulers have their own little playground and it’s called the AL Central.  An unprecedented sixth division title in a row appears in the offing for Cook County.  While that story remains the same, the rebuilding of Plaza and the emergence of Iowa look to be interesting subplots in 2002.

 

Cook County, it is fair to say, is not really interested in divisional hardware anymore.  For their string of dominance they have only one League Title on their mantle.  Kevin is unabashedly relentless in his desire for another one for Mauler faithful.  This, like any previous season, could be the one.  The pitching staff is stellar and figures to give Georgia a run for the title of “Best BRASSball Staff.”  Big time free agent acquisitions came in the form of Jamie Moyer and Roger Clemens, the latter being an integral member of Ocala’s 2001 championship.  Robert Person and Terry Adams are fine three and four starters.  The remarkable question mark is Pedro Martinez.  The defending AL CY winner has had a difficult spring health wise and Kevin is not sure what to expect from Pedro in 2002.  Thankfully, he prepared a deep staff in advance.  Mariano Rivera continues to anchor the pen.  Jeff Fassero and Steve Kline give the Maulers two of the better lefty relievers in all of BRASSball.  Watch Dave Williams and Brian Lawrence.  Far from assured jobs out of spring these two rooks have performed well and figure to get action during the season.  The offense is once again VERY powerful and VERY good.  Oddly though, it is now VERY right handed.  Granted, the likes of 2-time MVP Vlad Guerrero, Mike Piazza Jeff Bagwell and Troy Glaus are hardly run of the mill, but it may pose some concern in the playoffs against standout righty hurlers.  All the more reason for Ray Lankford and Dave Justice to be ready and productive in 2002.

 

Iowa looks like a solid choice to finish number two behind Cook County.  The starting staff is not magical, but the off season signings of Jason Schmidt and Hideo Nomo did help bump this team up into contender status.  The bullpen is deep and good.  A closer is not clear at the moment.  It figures to be Buddy Groom or Chad Fox.  Scott Sullivan, Rick White and Vlad Nunez will be important members when some of the weaker Rube starters don’t have their best stuff.  The offense should be of the annoyingly effective variety.  It has more speed than most teams in the likes of Jose Cruz, Cristian Guzman, Mark McLemore and Eric Young.  The Rubes also have stellar corner outfielders in the likes of Cliff Floyd and Mags Ordonez.  Nice seasons from Matt Stairs and Tony Clark could prove to be a boon to the playoff fortunes of the Iowa Rubes.

 

Box City is still rebuilding and looks to finish third.  The rotation is of a middling sort.  It will get Lenny through the season.  Parcelmen fans though should be excited about the opportunities to get glimpses of young hurlers like Dave Coggin, Cory Lidle, Brandon Lyon and Dan Wright.  Those guys are the excitable future.  The offense has some nice components to it with Jim Thome at 1B/DH and Miguel Tejada at SS.  Added to the mix now is the club’s big-time free agent pickup, Darin Erstad.

 

Plaza is headed for fourth.  After a solid playoff run and the exodus of talent via free agency and trades, John decided to concentrate on the future.  His fans will need to be patient because not often will they see major leaguers suiting up for the home town team.  But, the young pitching that is surely to be on display from time-to-time during the season will be good viewing for Lion faithful.  A young stable of pitching prospects features Ben Sheets, Nate Cornejo, Nick Bierbrodt, Chad Durbin and Joe Kennedy.  The offense returns sparkplug Luis Castillo.  Watch out for Adam Dunn.  He should quickly make a name for himself in BRASSball.

 

AL WEST

 

In 2001 the AL West was the most competitive division in BRASSball as all four teams finished above .500.  While I can’t say I see that happening again I do think, top to bottom, this division is more closely packed than any other.

 

Text Box: Past AL West Champs
2001: Toledo, 94-68
2000: Santa Barbara, 90-72
1999: Santa Barbara, 104-58
1998: Albany, 108-54
1997: Santa Barbara, 95-67
I predict a “worst to first” scenario unfolding this season in the AL West.  Brooklyn is the most balanced and complete team in the division.  The rotation goes five deep (Appier, Maddux, Pettitte, Dempster & Williams), the pen is average and the lineup is complete and probably better than advertised.  The Bulldogs are noticeably left-handed out of the pen.  The closer is Kaz Sasaki, but three of his better mates in the pen are Randy Choate, Mike Stanton and Mike Myers.  I suspect a trade may be made to alleviate the team of this predicament.  The offense should be robust.  The big stick comes in free agent signee, Phil Nevin.  Bat fourth and provide thunder is his marching orders.  Around him will be Jeff Conine, Tino Martinez and Robby Alomar.  Alomar, along with Alex Gonzalez, is the best DP combo in BRASSball this side of Moline.  Matt Lawton and Juan Pierre will be counted out on to lead the top of the order and provide ample scoring opportunities.

 

Rolling into second I predict La Crosse, but it is virtually too close to call for me.  The Lagers have a respectable rotation (Baldwin, Hermanson, Millwood, Chen).  They have an above average pen in the likes of Octavio Dotel, Scott Strickland, Paul Shuey and Shiggy Hasegawa.  The offense is the team’s strength.  Mike Sweeney, Manny Ramirez and Eric Chavez provide the Lagers with a formidable heart of the order.  Johnny Damon needs to get on base for this club to succeed while Ricky Gutierrez and rook Jerry Hairston need to supply solid middle infield defense.  An interesting side note on the Lagers upcoming 2002 season: both Chavez and Damon are headed towards free agency.  I wonder how that will play with their psyches during the season.

 

Last year’s champs from Toledo I suspect will fall to third, but it is really close to call with La Crosse.  The Mudhens, like La Crosse, have a respectable rotation (Suppan, Burba, Wood and Rapp).  The bullpen is reasonable and has two closers (Roberto Hernandez & Mike Williams), making a deal appear imminent.  Youngsters Bud Smith and Jon Garland figure to make cameos in hopes of impressing for 2003 jobs.  The offense is not bad at all, albeit heavily right handed.  Orlando Cabrera was retained at short and given his contract, is expected to improve and be a team leader.  Mike Lowell is quietly unnoticed at third for this club.  No team in BRASSball will be debuting such fine young catchers in BRASSball as the Mudhens.  Ramon Hernandez was recently inked to a deal and 2002 draftee Toby Hall figures to see action as well.  Oh, and they also sport one of the best hitters of all time in league history, Edgar Martinez.  For all of that though, Richie Sexson is the big addition that all in Toledo will be looking forward to seeing in 2002.

 

Santa Barbara appears headed to the basement, but only because I’m not sure as to who exactly will be playing this year for the Outlaws.  They have solid youngsters at various stages of development, but some may not see major league action in 2002.  Included in this bunch are Juan Uribe, Robert Fick, Roy Halladay and Jacque Jones.  The starting pitching is on the light side and young with Bartolo Colon, Matt Clement and Doug Davis in line for the bulk of the starts.  The team does feature the best reliever trio in BRASSball: Robb Nen, Danny Graves and Byung-Hyun Kim.  Other key offensive members include Aaron Boone and fan faves, Raul Mondesi and Garrett Anderson.  Honestly, the Outlaws could leap a few teams here without much trouble.  Maybe the new ballpark will help that possible scenario unfold.

 

Happy Birthday!

 

In light of the recent revelations that many BRASSballers are not the age that they say they are I thought I would list them here for all to see.  My source was Baseball America.  Listed are the previously reported age and the corrected age as submitted to BRASSball HQ.

 

Player/Team

Old

New

Player/Team

Old

New

Jose Cabrera, Mudcats

29

32

Jesus Colome, Bees

21

24

Bartolo Colon, Outlaws

26

28

Deivi Cruz, Tigers

26

29

Juan Cruz, Avengers

21

23

Octavio Dotel, Lagers

26

28

Rafael Furcal, Avengers

21

23

Rey Ordonez, Wolfpack

29

31

Ramon Ortiz, Isotopes

26

29

Pablo Ozuna, Mudhens

23

26

Neifi Perez, Sioux

26

28

Antonio Perez, Walkers

20

21

Luis Pineda, Tigers

23

27

Ed Rogers, Maulers

20

23

Juan Uribe, Outlaws

21

22

Luis Vizcaino, Mets

24

26

 

In Season Standings Incentive Program

 

Corey and I would like to see the website continue to become an integral part of the BRASSball experience.  To further this end, the website will be updated with the latest, most up-to-date standings we can possibly have.  Thanks to the Internet and e-mail this is very possible.  Also, our progenitor, BRASS, has had a system in place now for two seasons that shows us how it can be done.  Below is the wording I have added to the constitution to reflect this new program:

 

“When a manager completes a HOME series he is to send off an e-mail to Mark which simply states in the Subject line the results of the series.  Example:  OCALA (2) @ MINNESOTA (2).  This is all that is needed.  Please follow that format.

 

A manager will receive $10,000 for each series reported in such manner.  If a manger reports all 23 of the series’ he is responsible for he receives a $70,000 bonus, which results in the equivalent of one newsletter article. 

 

As this is meant to reflect the contribution equivalent of a newsletter article, the same rules apply as outlined in the “Article Incentive Program,” i.e. the maximum allowed articles is twelve, LD’s receive no credit for articles and so forth.”

 

This addition can be found in Article XVIII of the constitution.

 

Other Changes to the Constitution

 

Enclosed in the ZIP archive you will find an updated league constitution.  It not only has the above program added but also has some other changes added, noted here.  First, I clarified the playoffs section to reflect the current practice of only players on ML contracts to be eligible for post-season play.  Also, I changed the wording in the secondary free agency section to reflect the new “U” contracts.  I had missed this when I last updated the document back in December.  Lastly, Corey is dutifully noted as the backup statistician.

 

League History Online

 

As most of you are now aware, Andy, Joal and a friend of theirs completed the great task of not only assembling our league’s statistical history, but also placing it on the net so we can amble around in it and enjoy ourselves.  The league is very grateful for your work on this great addition to BRASSball, guys.  But as you roam around you will notice that there are some statistical holes.  The missing stats come from the 1999 AL teams.  We have half the teams, but need the others.  Kevin has frantically searched every box in his house trying to locate what he had saved.  Also, a few weeks ago I had directly e-mailed those managers whose stats were missing.  I now ask all of you to rummage around through whatever you may have saved from that season and notify me of what you have found.  Your help in this is greatly appreciated.

 

New e-mail address

 

Just a reminder here that my new address is johngalt@tcq.net.  My earthlink account is no longer active.

  

Stats submission

 

Please take a moment to refresh yourselves on the protocols BRASSball observes in sending stats to your opponents and the statisticians.  This can be found at the end of the constitution in Article XXXIII.

 

Monthly Dates Reminders

 

With the season set to begin and a new LD structure in place here is a reminder of important dates.  As always, these are outlined in the constitution for you also.

 

15th of each month your opponents, the Primary Statistician (Dave Little) and the Backup statistician (Corey Weisser) need to receive your results.

 

15th of each month (17th in July and August) all trades need to be reported to Corey.

 

25th of each month all contract signings for the upcoming month of play need to be sent to Corey.

 

25th of each month all pitching rotations need to be sent to Mark.

 

As soon as a series is complete please pass along the quickie e-mail to Mark, which denotes the results (standings incentive program).

 

Trades and Roster Stuff

 

Corey or I will pass these along as a separate e-mail this month shortly.

 

 

Guest Authors

 

Brian, Eric, Jim C. and Jim L. are our contributors this month.  As always these can be found on the league website, usually before they appear here.  They are at the end.

 

Upcoming League Deadlines

 

April 15th      Trade and results deadline.

 

April 25th          Instructions and rotations due out for May.

 

Next Issue of “League News”

 

The season gets underway.