|2001 Humuhumunukunuku Apua'a Review|
This season had a little of everything. It was strange, interesting, and most of all exciting. Personally, this season, and this year, had a lot of highs and lows. It was a good test of a manager's composure, to see how he handled himself in these situations. Anyways, here is the story of the team's name, for those of you that haven't heard it already. For Christmas my kids got a map of the United States, where you could press buttons, and it would tell you information about that particular state. Well, for Hawaii, it said, "The state fish of Hawaii is the Humuhumunukunuku Apua'a". For weeks my kids were running around the house trying (and eventually succeeding) to say that word. Just to see and hear them doing that was so awesome, I felt I had to name my team after them. Plus I couldn't pass an opportunity to have the longest name ever. To ease the burden on the league, the name was immediately shortened to the "Hummers", which isn't so bad either, as it has some interesting sexual connotations.
Well, we got closer to my ideal draft of doing it all in one day (which I am hoping will happen next year). I believe we got 6 rounds done the first night, and then were done within another 10 days or so. From my perspective, I would have been better off not picking at all that night, but that fact has been well documented. There were a few things that I had identified as things that I wanted going into the draft. I thought the draft was relatively weak at SS, 2B, and CF, of course in addition to pitching. Delgado was the obvious first choice, and he proved his worth all season. When Keith took ARod with the 11th pick, he kind of forced my hand to take Nomar with the 14th pick. That may have been a little early for a J-2 shortstop, but I felt with the weakness at that position, it was something I had to do. And with talking to the other owners, I realize that he would not have made it back to me in the 3rd round. So in the 3rd I got my CF, Hidalgo. He was a 3 defensively with a great arm, and a lot of extra-base hits, so I thought he was the one for my team. But now I needed starters and relievers, and I was in trouble. My next two picks got me Nelson and Myers. Looking back, I could have traded those high grades for Z's (and 50 innings) to get Veres and Foulke, so I may have erred here. Then there was the trade. It was Sosa, Abreu, Lofton and Zito for Alou, Dye, Ausmus, and Finley. In my defense, Sosa, Abreu and Zito were indispensable to the overall makeup of my team. Sosa finished 5th in the league in runs created. Abreu was 27th in on base percentage, but was 3rd in the league in runs scored. And Zito may have been the most valuable pitcher on my team (see sidebar). But Joe got 4 excellent defensive players, and at least 2 invaluable offensive players out of it, so it is hard to say. But imagine my team without Sosa and Abreu, and with me taking 4 starters in rounds 6-9 (perhaps, Clemens, Ankiel, Hudson and Castillo). Looking back, that wouldn't have been too bad, as it would have changed my whole focus from offense to pitching, but who is to say that I would have gotten those guys. Anyways, back to the draft. So by my pick in round 10. I had 5 great offensive players, and two high grade relievers. I believe it was while waiting for my pick that I realized I had to go to an all bullpen team. I thought I drafted well for team speed (all guys were 15 or better except for Delgado and the catchers), outfield arms (35, 36, 37), and catcher (Matheny 9 +6). Poor draft picks? Probably Nelson, Kreuter, and Green. Steals? Velarde (25th), Hernandez (10th), and Sosa (5th) were all guys that looking back proved to be worth their picks. Overall, I thought I had made a lot of good picks for the particular makeup of my team. But I knew the whole year would be an uphill struggle.
The bench featured Paul and Kreuter as my backup catchers, Lofton as pinch-runner/backup outfielder, and Hocking as backup infielder. Not a lot of room for maneuvering, but was the necessary deepness of my bullpen, I had limited roster spots available. If my starting 9 could play 162 games, I feel like it may have been the strongest in the league. But when I had to play Hocking instead of Nomar or Batista, or Lofton instead of any one of the OF/DH, my offense suffered. When Nomar sat, I was 12-21 (and 0-1 in the playoffs). When he started we were 70-59. Of course I knew that when I drafted him. All players come with a price. (You can read more about that in my "Random Notes", scheduled for November publication).
My first 4 starters were indiscriminate 6 and 7 right and lefty Z's, with the fifth starter/pinch-runner being Estes, a lefty 9W. Redman (a lefty 6) was the official Ken stopper, as he went (including playoffs) 3-1 with an ERA of under 2.00. Moehler (a righty 7) threw consecutive shutouts early on, then finished with a very respectable 4.44, plus led my starters in wins, innings, quality starts and shutouts. My bullpen, and their record number of appearances and innings, had some good performers. Seven of the eight guys had records of .500 or better, and seven guys recorded saves. Sullivan set or tied records for appearances, innings, and strikeouts. Myers was second in ERA, and Nelson, if he didn't blow a 5 run lead in the 9th against Ken early on, would have finished under 4.00. Altogether, my pitching staff gelled the second half of the year and finished 4th in ERA.
I really never gave myself much of a chance to win during the regular season, and was quite lucky to make the playoffs. If Steve and I had split our regular season games, we would have been in a very tight race. Well, we were in a tight race, but I won, because I won the late season games against him. I started the year going 16-9, and finished going 15-7. That means the rest of the year I went 51-64. The key was playing well within my own division, and playing even versus Keith and Greg. I was 26-16 in division, and 20-20 vs. the "Big 2". Only Joe and Dave played close to that vs. those two, as they were both 2 games under .500. After that 16-9 start, the bottom dropped, as I went on an 11-24 "run". This, combined with Steve playing well, had me 7 1/2 back after 60 games. Luckily Steve played 21 under .500 the rest of the way. I played .500 for the next 80, before finishing strong. Through those first 60 games, Nomar hit .266, Delgado .296, Hidalgo .236, and Hocking .161. In the next 100, they hit .360, .341, .279, and .256 respectively. That combined with my relatively good pitching in that time, should have had me playing better over that 100 games, but I don't think I was getting a lot of breaks, and lost a lot of close games (15-25 in one-run games for the season). My pythagorean of runs scored also suggests that I was somewhat "unlucky". Hopefully that was due to luck, and not poor managing. I tend to think so, because as I touched on earlier, I was limited in the amount of moves I was able to make during a game, because of my empty bench. But, in the end, it all came down to me beating Steve 9 of 11 at the end of the year, to win by 7 games.
Traditionally, Ken does very well against me, as I usually have poor pitching, and he has strong hitting. This turned out to be true both in the regular season and the playoffs, as I finished a combined 9-16 against him this year, and was easily handled in 5 games in the playoffs. I thought we were evenly matched going in, and I told my brother Matt, it would be a matter of who got the dice rolls in the series. During the season, he was 2 fielding points ahead of me, I was about .30 less than him in ERA, he scored 18 more runs than me, but my OPS was 11 points higher. Well, in that 5 game series, he outscored me 38-17, outhomered me 15-4, and out OPSed me by 450 points. Those numbers made it impossible for me to win.
I finished strong to finish over .500. I won my division. I made the playoffs. If I had to grade myself, I would give me a B- for my draft, and a B+ for managing. The problem was the GM, who got a C for digging the draft hole, and for not pulling the trigger on an in-season trade to strengthen the struggling team. Congratulations go to Ken for pulling that playoff appearance out of his ass, and then romping through the playoff competition, for his first Spit Cup. Note to all though, look out for me next year.
Delgado's season speaks for itself, and he willprobably
finish near the top of the MVP standings. Sosa, too, may be a top 5 or 10
MVP finisher. But does Nomar make a case for himself by the way the team
played with him vs. without him? In just 129 games, he was second in
average and doubles, and third in runs scored. Plus he was possibly the
best second hitter in the league, grounding into just 1 double play, and
not striking out very much. That said, he only played in 80% of the
games, and without a doubt, the MVP was Delgado.
Most Valuable Pitcher? I already said how Moehler was the leader
amongst my starters, but other guys also deserved consideration. Zito
made just 7 starts, had twice as many complete games as any others, and
was second to Moehler in wins, ERA, quality starts and shutouts. Myers
and Hernandez deserved some consideration out of the bullpen. They
prevented 20 and 19 earned runs respectively. Hernandez was 2nd on the
team in relief innings, led the league in inherited runners, and was among
the leaders in W/9. Myers was last on the team in relief innings, but was
among league leaders in ERA, saves, and lowest hits and baserunners/9. A
lot can be said for all four, and I would give them co-Cy Youngs for my
team (which isn't really saying much).
Most Valuable Pitcher? I already said how Moehler was the leader amongst my starters, but other guys also deserved consideration. Zito made just 7 starts, had twice as many complete games as any others, and was second to Moehler in wins, ERA, quality starts and shutouts. Myers and Hernandez deserved some consideration out of the bullpen. They prevented 20 and 19 earned runs respectively. Hernandez was 2nd on the team in relief innings, led the league in inherited runners, and was among the leaders in W/9. Myers was last on the team in relief innings, but was among league leaders in ERA, saves, and lowest hits and baserunners/9. A lot can be said for all four, and I would give them co-Cy Youngs for my team (which isn't really saying much).