Monday, May 28, 2012

Rebuilding For Success: Benchwarmer Baseball Week 3 & 4

The tough run continued for the Savin Hill Sox in week 3 as they dropped five out of the six games played that week. Starting pitching continued to be an issue, but the offense wasn’t lighting it up either. Having a great bullpen doesn’t do you any good if you can’t get a lead to turn over to them.

Lineup: Murphy 3B – Reimold OF – Iannetta C – Votto 1B – Markakis OF – Kipnis 2B – Aybar SS – Crisp OF – Carroll DH
Bench: Lowrie – Venable – Morel – Revere – Nunez

Jason Kipnis had a huge week at the plate (.417 – 1 3B – 1 HR – 6 RBI – 1 SB) and was joined by Coco Crisp (.308 – 2 SB in 4 games) and Joey Votto (.286 – 1 HR – 6 RBI – 4 R – 1 SB). Other than that, there wasn’t much as far as offensive highlights go and the team only batted .219 for the week.

Rotation: Lester – Dickey – McCarthy – Norris – Karstens
Spot: Paulino – Parker

R.A. Dickey turned in the only strong outing and got the only win of the week (7 IP – 1 ER – 3 H – 7 K – 1 BB). Brandon McCarthy had one quality start, but just barely (6 IP – 2 ER) and picked up two losses for the week. The team’s ERA for the week was 5.03.

Bullpen: Papelbon – Myers – Adams – Bryan Shaw – Robbie Ross

Jonathan Papelbon had a Benchwarmer week for the ages. Now is probably a good time to mention that the bullpen stats given here, unlike the batting and starting stats, aren’t the actual stats put up by these relief pitchers. Here’s the description from the Benchwarmer website:

Bullpen statistics are derived averages, since 11 major league games are used for a 6-game BWB week. Per-game and per-inning averages are multiplied by the number of times his slot was needed in BWB games. The numbers themselves may appear unrealistic, but they attempt to more accurately measure how the pitcher is affecting your outcome.

For the week, Papelbon had stats of 6 IP – 6 Sv – 0 ER – 0 H – 7 K – 1 BB. That was good enough to earn him the Reliever of the Week award. Mike Adams contributed 3 scoreless innings with 3 Ks and Robbie Ross added an inning and two third of scoreless relief. The bullpen ERA for 17.3 innings of work was a tiny 1.04.

Week 1: 3-3
Week 2: 2-4
Week 3: 1-5
Season: 6-12

Week 3 brought on more roster tinkering. I released Kevin Gregg whose ERA at the time was almost 8. I also released Greg Dobbs who was the unfortunate victim of the Jose Reyes signing by the Marlins. Hanley Ramirez moved over the third base and Dobbs lost his starting job. I released Ben Revere when he was struggling and had been sent down to the minors. He’s now back up again and batting .291, but hasn’t done much else so he’s probably not worth a second look. My final release for the week was Brent Morel. Morel was batting under .200 and on the DL so he definitely wasn’t worth a roster spot.

To replace those players, I signed Alex Liddi who was red hot at the time, but has now cooled off a little (.250 – 3 HR – 9 RBI). I also picked up Baltimore starter Jason Hammel who was 3-0 with a sub 2 ERA at the time. He’s now 6-1 with a 2.78 ERA and 1.13 WHIP with 53 K and 17 BB in 55 IP. Hammel is a big reason why the Orioles have spent the majority of the season in first place. Another pickup, since I really needed a backup catcher, was Nick Hundley (.173 – 3 HR – 16 RBI). The final new addition to the team was Gerardo Parra who is a bit of a speed demon for the Diamondbacks (.267 – 2 HR – 14 RBI – 24 R – 10 SB).

One thing that I’ve been more conscientious of this season is the value that I’m getting for the salary paid. If I’m paying a high salary for a guy to hit .250, I can probably drop him to pick up a guy doing the same for the league minimum. From the start of the season, I’ve gone from 27 players with a salary over $250,000 to just 25. I’ve also reduced some salaries that have remained over that $250,000 threshold. It’s important to have that cash on hand to sign free agents and extend the contracts of rookies and players having career years.

Week 4 was the exact opposite of the previous week for the Sox. They started the week with a 5 game winning streak before losing the final game 4-2.

Lineup: Kipnis 2B – Parra OF – Reimold OF – Votto 1B – Liddi DH – Murphy 3B – Markakis OF – Lowrie SS – Iannetta C
Bench: Nunez – Bryce Harper – Venable – Carroll – Hundley

This week marked the much hyped call-up of phenom Bryce Harper. I decided to play it safe and just give him a bench spot for this week. Hopefully he’ll have played his way into the starting lineup by the end of the season.

The offense turned things around this week with a team average of .270. Due to the Reimold injury, Harper ended up playing in all 6 games batting .333 with 5 doubles and a steal of home. Jed Lowrie led the way offensively though. He batted .400 with an .800 slugging percentage. (2 HR – 5 RBI – 6 R) Dan Murphy batted .381 for the week and Votto hit .350 with 4 doubles and 6 walks.

Rotation: Lester – Dickey – McCarthy – Hammel Parker
Spot: Paulino – Norris

Some new blood in the rotation seems to have turned things around. The starting staff turned in six quality starts and got 5 wins with a bullpen loss in Hammel’s second start. The team’s starting ERA was 2.31 with 35 K in 39 IP. Lester led the way with 7 innings of shutout ball and 7 Ks, but Jarrod Parker was right behind him with six and a third and only one run allowed.

Bullpen: Papelbon – Myers – Adams – Shaw – Ross

It’s another solid week for the bullpen who only needed to pitch 14.1 innings in 6 games. Papelbon and Myers were bother credit with 6 saves for the week and neither one gave up a run. Myers gave up two hits and Pap gave up two walks  The bullpen’s ERA for the week was 1.28.

Week 1: 3-3
Week 2: 2-4
Week 3: 1-5
Week 4: 5-1
Season: 11-13

Week 4’s releases included: Erick Aybar (.215), Coco Crisp (.165 and trip to DL), Karstens (0-1 4.50 DL) and Venable (.250 average at the time, upgraded to Cody Ross)

Week 4 signings: Tony Campana (.299 – 13 SB), Joe Saunders (3-3 3.79 ERA – 1.30 WHIP), and Cody Ross (.271 – 8 HR – 28 RBI – 24 R and currently on the DL). More salary reduction and more upgrading. Campana was a huge signing and Ross was red hot right before he broke his foot.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Rebuilding For Success: Benchwarmer Baseball Week 1 & 2

The Savin Hill Sox got off to a hot start for the 2012 season with a three game sweep of the Georgetown Canal Mules. Jon Lester, R.A. Dickey, and Brandon McCarthy got the wins with strong pitching performances. The second half of the week didn’t go so well as the Sox got swept by the Generation of Heroes. Jon Lester picked up a loss to go to 1-1 while the other two losses were credited to the bullpen.

Week 1 Lineup: Coco Crisp OF – Ben Revere OF – Jamey Carroll DH – Joey Votto 1B – Nick Markakis OF – Jason Kipnis 2B – Erick Aybar SS – Brent Morel 3B – Crhis Iannetta C
Bench: Dan Murphy – Will Venable – Jed Lowrie – Nolan Reimold – Eduardo Nunez

The offense was led by Joey Votto (.364 - 3 RBI - 3 2B), Jason Kipnis (.250 - 6 RBI - 5 R - 2 HR – 1 3B), and Chris Iannetta (.176 – 5RBI - 2 HR).

Rotation: Jon Lester – R.A. Dickey – Brandon McCarthy – Bud Norris – Jeffrey Karstens
Spot: Andrew Miller – Felipe Paulino

The starting pitchers had a 2.20 ERA for the week in 6 quality starts and a 3-1 record. Jon Lester was the pitcher of the week with two quality starts including a one-run complete game to kick things off. For the week, he had a record of 1-1 with an ERA of 2.40 and WHIP of 0.933. Lester struck out 10 in 15 innings while walking 5.

Bullpen: Jonathan Papelbon – Brett Myers – Mike Adams – Kevin Gregg – Fernando Salas

Bullpen losses occur in Benchwarmer when your team loses, but your starting pitcher has good numbers. So, the two losses that the bullpen picked up for the week don’t reflect bad real world performances on their part. In fact, only three pitchers were needed out of the bullpen and their combined ERA for the week was 1.38. Brett Myers had 5 saves for the week with an ERA of 0.00 and WHIP of 1.00. Myers struck out an impressive 8 batters in 5 innings proving that Houston was correct in giving the closer job to him (especially with how bad Melancon has been, bet the Red Sox want Lowrie back). Papelbon had 3 saves with an ERA of 2.50. Mike Adams also pitched effectively for this strong bullpen.

Week 1: 3-3
Season: 3-3

Week 2 was a little rougher for the Sox as they were only able to tally two wins. R.A. Dickey picked up his second win of the season with another strong outing. Bud Norris went to 2-0 as well as he pitched just well enough for the offense to power the team to victory as they pounded out 15 hits and scored 7 runs.

Week 2 Lineup: Murphy 3B – Reimold OF – Iannetta C – Votto 1B – Markakis OF – Kipnis 2B – Aybar SS – Crisp OF – Carroll DH
Bench: Lowrie – Venable – Morel – Revere - Nunez

Nolan Reimold only played two games during the week, but he batted .444 with a home run which was the only one that the team hit all week. Dan Murphy, Erick Aybar, and Jason Kipnis all batted over .400 for the week while playing all six games. Kipnis had 3 stolen bases, hit a triple, and scored 5 runs to pace the team in those categories.

Rotation: Lester – Dickey – McCarthy – Norris – Karstens
Spot: Miller – Paulino

In a complete turn-around from the previous week, the team’s ERA for week 2 was 7.36 and the only quality start was turned in by R.A. Dickey in his first start of two on the week. Lester’s 7 runs in 2 innings was the worst of a bad week.

Bullpen: Papelbon – Myers – Adams – Franklin Morales – Salas

The front end of the bullpen had a strong week. Papelbon, Myers and Adams combined for 17 scoreless innings. Papelbon put up 5 saves in six games while striking out 6 in 6 IP. Myers picked up 2 saves in six games while striking out 8 in 6 IP and a WHIP of 0.00. Even with bad performances by Salas and Morales, the bullpen’s combined ERA for the week was 2.57.

Week 2 was the first week where I made any adjustments to my roster. I release Andrew Miller who was injured and down in Pawtucket and Fernando Salas who is a completely different pitcher than last year (currently 0-3 6.32 ERA – 2.04 WHIP and in the minors). To replace them, I picked up some bullpen help in Bryan Shaw (0-2 3.32 ERA – 5 Holds – 1.05 WHIP currently) and Robbie Ross (5-0 1.99 ERA – 0.88 WHIP – Can you say vulture?). The rebuilding continues.

Week 1: 3-3
Week 2: 2-4
Season: 5-7

Friday, May 25, 2012

Rebuilding For Success: Pre-season

Since I haven’t been as interested in sports cards lately, I thought that I might try a little writing about something else sports related that I have benn enjoying lately: fantasy baseball. To be more specific, I’m going to write a little bit about my Benchwarmer Baseball keeper team that is now going into its third season.

Last year, my team had mixed results. While I did finish in first place in my division by 14 games, I did so with a losing record (71-79). I was the best in a division of bad teams. Not only do I want to repeat this season, but I want to do so with a much better record. Last season, I was swept out of the first round of the playoffs and I want to win at least one round this season.

One thing about having a bad team is that you end up with the earliest picks during the year. Due to having a .500 team for my first two seasons, I’ve ended up with some decent draft picks. I entered this season with the last two #1 picks in my minor league roster. Bryce Harper stood poised to make his major league debut this season while Gerrit Cole was a long shot at a possible September call-up.

During the regular season, teams get to maintain a roster of 40 players. You only get to carry over 28 of those player to the next season, so you’ve got to put a lot of thought into who you keep around. Here’s a list of the players who I released from my roster:

  • Mike Adams (high salary)
  • Wade Davis (moved from rotation to bullpen – salary too high)
  • Kevin Correia (1-5 4.50 ERA 16K 15BB so far in 2012)
  • Hideki Matsui (Recently signed minor league deal with Tampa Bay)
  • Tony Sipp (0-2 5.40 ERA 1.53 WHIP)
  • John Buck (.173 4 HR)
  • Roger Bernadina (.224 2 HR – not a starter)
  • Grady Sizemore (Hurt AGAIN)
  • Eric Hinske (.271 1 HR – not a starter)
  • Jordan Lyles (0-1 5.29 ERA 1.53 WHIP in three spot starts)
  • Kaleb Cowart (declining prospect)
  • Luis Exposito (declining, blocked (at the time) prospect – has since been traded to Baltimore, hit .059 sent back to minors)
  • Tony Sanchez (declining prospect)

Who did I pick up in the redistribution draft? You’ll find a list below along with their performance so far this year. Did I improve the team?

  • Chris Iannetta (In desperate need of catchers after Victor Martinez injury - .197 3 HR now on DL)
  • Brandon McCarthy (3-3 2.95 ERA 40K 16BB 1.34 WHIP – now on DL)
  • Erick Aybar (.222)
  • Ben Revere (.244)
  • Felipe Paulino (started season on DL – 2-1 1.42 ERA 29K 7BB 1.14 WHIP since coming off of DL)
  • Nolan Reimold (started off season red hot - .313 5HR 10 RBI 10 R in 16 games, but hasn’t played since April 30)
  • R.A. Dickey (6-1 3.45 51K 16BB 1.17 WHIP)
  • Brent Morel (.177 14 R – now on DL)
  • Mike Adams (0-2 2.20 ERA 13K 2BB .98 WHIP)

Four of these guys are no longer on my roster, but there were some big additions to the team here. I’ll need McCarthy and Reimold to contribute once they come off of the DL. Dickey has been huge and Paulino has been red hot lately.

You can continue to tweak your roster in the weeks leading up to the start of the season. There are trades to be made and free agents to be signed.

In week –6, I signed Franklin Morales (0-1 4.40 ERA 1.67 WHIP 7 Holds)

In week –5, I traded away Ryan Roberts (.238 3 HR 19 RBI 12 R) for Jarrod Parker (1-2 3.37 ERA 1.36 WHIP)

In week –4, I signed away newly released Jose Iglesias (I’m a sucker for Red Sox prospects) along with Tyler Greene (.239 4 HR 6 SB and plays three positions) and Brett Myers (0-1 1.69 ERA 11 SV .81 WHIP)

In week –3, I finalized my roster by signing Will Venable (.273 3 HR 18 R 5 SB) and releasing Sam Fuld (60-day DL and a crowded Rays outfield)

Here’s my opening day roster for the 2012 Savin Hill Sox (keepers in bold):

L1: Coco Crisp
L2: Ben Revere
L3: Jamey Carroll
L4: Joey Votto
L5: Nick Markakis
L6: Jason Kipnis
L7: Erick Aybar
L8: Brent Morel
L9: Chris Iannetta

B1: Dan Murphy – 1B, 2B, 3B
B2: Will Venable – OF
B3: Jed Lowrie – 3B, SS
B4: Nolan Reimold – OF
B5: Eduardo Nunez – 3B, SS, 2B

P1: Jon Lester
P2: R.A. Dickey
P3: Brnadon McCarthy
P4: Bus Norris
P5: Jeffrey Karstens

S1: Andrew Miller
S2: Felipe Paulino

R1: Jonathan Papelbon
R2: Brett Myers
R3: Mike Adams
R4: Kevin Gregg
R5: Fernando Salas

Taxi: Greg Dobbs
T: Franklin Morales

Minors: Alex Cobb
M: Domonic Brown
M: Tyler Greene
M: Yonder Alonso
M: Blake Swihart
M: Zack Wheeler
M: Gerrit Cole
M: Ryan Lavarnway
M: Jose Iglesias
M: Kolbrin Vitek
M: Jarrod Parker
M: Bryce Harper

IR: Victor Martinez

Next up, the first couple of weeks and results. The league is 6 weeks and 7 weeks of transactions old. I just pulled off a big trade where I gave up a lot to improve the one position where I really needed help. What do you think of my off-season moves and Opening Day roster? Should this team improve on the 71-79 record that I had last season? Stay tuned to see how the Sox do.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Gimme an A…and another A.


There’s a decent chuck of time from the late 90s to early 00s where I wasn’t collecting much at all. I’d buy a discount box at Kmart every now and then, but that was about it. It’s a shame because I love a lot of what card companies did during the 90s. A lot of these inserts appeal more to me than my 100th card with a swatch of a player’s jersey in it. In my latest package from CheckOutMyCards, I picked up a few of those inserts.

I actually have a Ken Griffey Jr Spellbound in my collection and while I like Griffey, he’s not a player that would motivate me to go out and collect all of the letters from his name. Mike Piazza, a player that I just happen to collect, is another of the players to have his name spelled out in the Spellbound insert set. These four cards were on COMC at a good price, so I decided that I start on my way.

What’s not to love about these cards? There’s a big picture of the player framed by foil and etched foil. You’ve got different pictures on the front and back which is always a nice touch. Putting this set together is also a very realistic goal since it is only six cards.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Hanx For The Memories


I’m not quite sure what to think of these Razor cards. I finally found this Tom Hanks wardrobe card for a decent price over on and so I decided to take the plunge.

These cards couldn’t be more non-descript. “This card includes an actual piece of clothing worn by Tom Hanks.” While I’d love a piece of the eye-catching suit that Hanks wore in Big, this certainly isn’t a piece of that. It’s blue and corduroy and…well, that’s about it. I can’t think of any specific movie that Mr. Hanks wore this kind of blue corduroy in, but he’s been in a ton of movies at this point. That being said, I doubt that this card is from any movie wardrobe. I know that celebrities often will donate old clothes to be auctioned off for charity and I’m thinking that something like that is more likely the source of this clothing swatch. I’ve been a Tom Hanks fan for most of my life. Heck, I was a fan of his before I even knew who he was. (I loved Bosom Buddies as a kid.) He’s an amazing actor and a class act, which seems to be rare amongst celebrities in this day and age. Tom’s former cords are a quirky addition to my collection.