Redeemed but Not Yet Glorified:
Shungnak Redemption End of Season Review

by Dave Basler

SL 2003

I finally made it. In my fourth year in the Summer League, I finally qualified for the playoffs. I have to say the experience was somewhat bittersweet, however, due to four factors. First, the end of season ORG snafus made me feel like my record was "tainted." I felt bad for Bob and everyone else who might have been victimized directly or indirectly. Second, I went into the semi-finals in the middle of a fairly bitter feud with Steve, the reasons for which are still not entirely clear to me. Third was the supposed rule break that occurred in game three with Steve's baserunning and the fallout afterwards. It was a very uncomfortable situation to be in, and the fact that we weren't getting along just made things worse. Fourth was the fact that I lost in game seven, with runners on second and third with no outs in the 9th, with the runner on third getting picked off, etc. It was the type of situation where you take scoring at least one run for granted, and maybe even the go ahead run, and getting no runs requires something really strange happening.

So I have some regrets about how last season ended. I am particularly hopeful that Steve and I will be able to make amends soon. If it helps, I want him to know that I drafted a bunch of White Sox or ex-White Sox in 2004 just to make him happy. A little peace offering, to help us get over our Big Hurt, which he may think is just a Wunsch of crap, or he may tell me to Foulke off, but I think Eyre has to be a better answer.

Like I said, my off the field problems did make the season bittersweet, but a lot of things went right in 2003. Let's take a look at some of them:

Throwing the Ball

The 2002 Rainmakers had really bad pitching, causing me to rethink both my drafting priorities and my managing philosophy going in to 2003. I could see as I scouted the league that there was good pitching depth, but I also knew that I couldn't wait and hope that adequate pitchers would slide to me in favor of a more offense-oriented draft. That formula led the 2002 franchise to disaster. So I decided to try and grab value when it was available, rather than wait for roughly the same type of player to come back around. How did I do?

Hudson (8th overall pick, 5th starter taken):  13-12, 4.34 era, 12 complete games, 1.08 HR/9, 3.2 BB/9, 6.0 K/9
Groom (11th overall pick, 2nd reliever taken):  8-6, 15 saves, 1.74 era, 1.06 HR/9, 2.9 BB/9, 6.5 K/9
Holmes (44th overall pick, 10th reliever taken):  8-5, 9 saves, 2.85 era, 1.21 HR/9, 3.2 BB/9, 7.2 K/9
Ohka  (62nd overall pick, 21st starter taken):  9-7, 4.59 era, 6 complete games, 1.19 HR/9, 2.7 BB/9, 4.7 K/9
Witasik  (98th overall pick, 21st reliever taken):  8-7, 0 saves, 2.90 era, .70 HR/9, 2.6 BB/9, 6.2 K/9
Wolf  (101st overall pick, 26th starter taken):  8-8, 3.80 era, 2 complete games, .71 HR/9, 3.3 BB/9, 6.0 K/9

At this point in the draft, I had three starters and three relievers. All Z rated, except for Wolf. All had G home run ratings, except for Ohka and Wolf. The won-loss record of this group turned out to be 54-45. I noted in my 70 Game Review that Wolf had a better ERA than Hudson and Ohka and that I had a couple theories on why that was happening that I would elaborate on after the season. I will now elaborate: I had scouted before the season and seen that a very high percentage of the best hitters in the league were left-handers with a platoon rating of 3 or above. Many of the best right-handers had low platoon ratings. So I felt like lefties would be very valuable, and it looks like I was right. But why I was right is not entirely clear. Wolf gave up more baserunners per 9 than either Hudson or Ohka, but fewer home runs. This doesn't make much sense since Hudson was a G. It may be that I had more confidence in Hudson and Ohka and left them in too long. Having a quicker hook is one of the managing philosophies that I think worked for me in 2003.

The rest of my pitchers looked like this:

Mussina  (137th overall pick, 30th starter taken):  5-12 5.24 era, 3 compete games, 1.41 HR/9, 2.6 BB/9, 7.8 K/9
Guardado  (172nd overall pick, 41st reliever taken):  12-2, 4 saves, 3.16 era, 1.49 HR/9, 2.7 BB/9, 8.3 K/9
Marte  (190th overall pick, 47th reliever taken):  6-4, 5 saves, 4.57 era, 1.59 HR/9, 5.2 BB/9, 8.2 K/9
Smoltz  (193rd overall pick, 48th reliever taken):  6-5, 4 saves, 3.53 era, .88 HR/9, 3.6 BB/9, 7.3 K/9
Reitsma  (227th overall pick, final starter taken):  3-7, 6.44 era, 2 complete games, 2.76 HR/9, 3.0 BB/9, 4.4 K/9

This group was a little more suspect, as one might expect, but the won-loss record of the relievers was 24-11. Reitsma only having ten decisions is a sign that I used him correctly, especially given his whopping 2.76 HR/9. Mussina having 17 decisions is almost inexplicable from a managerial standpoint, as in: "What was I thinking?" Where was the quick hook? He had only twenty fewer innings pitched than Ohka and Wolf.

On the bright side, I ended 2003 with 0 balks. In 2002, my team had 10.

Hitting the Ball

My usual lineup was:

Jeter    .297 OBP, .332 SLG, 89 runs, 35 steals, 140 strikeouts
Alfonzo  .331 OBP, .410 SLG, 79 runs, 18 home runs
Edmonds  .381 OBP, .537 SLG, 102 runs, 26 home runs, 58 doubles, 95 RBI
Sosa     .190 AVG, .282 OBP, .421 SLG, 37 home runs (only 56 total extra base hits), 111 RBI, 175 strikeouts
Delgado  .339 OBP, .505 SLG, 32 home runs, 96 RBI, 20 HBP
Salmon   .317 OBP, .413 SLG, 38 doubles, 18 home runs, 54 RBI
Kielty   .319 OBP, .398 SLG, 14 home runs, 44 RBI
Kennedy  .291 OBP, .398 SLG, 76 runs, 35 doubles, 21 steals, 53 RBI
Kendall  .322 OBP, .369 SLG, 30 runs, 19 doubles, 24 RBI, 4 for 10 stealing (in 79 games)

I cannot emphasize enough how much the trade with Ken helped my catching situation. Prior to the trade, Pierzinski was batting .197 with 38 hits in 58 games. He had 10 extra base hits and 11 RBIs, 27 strikeout and 2 walks. His OBP was .221, and Kendall's was .322. Plus, Kendall was a defensive machine. Opponents stole successfully 76 percent of the time against Pierzynski, and only 65 percent of the time against Kendall.

Two additional guys also played a lot but with very different results:

Loretta .294 AVG, .353 OBP, .444 SLG, 22 doubles, 7 home runs, 40 RBI in 321 plate appearances
Mabry   .224 AVG, .259 OBP, .386 SLG, 19 doubles, 10 home runs, 36 RBI in 317 plate appearances

In real life, Mabry created 6.2 runs per game vs. 6.4 for Loretta. For some reason, however, in the SL Loretta was much better. He ended up at 6.0 runs per game, compared to 3.5 for Mabry and 3.9 for Sammy Sosa.

Catching the Ball

I had a lot of double plays in 2003 and was always close to the top of the league in fielding percentage. My opponents stole bases against me successfully about 68 percent of the time. Outfield secret weapon Tim Salmon had 16 assists, but also had 5 errors. Mondesi had 11 assists in about 1/3 as many innings. He played a lot for me, actually, spending about 420 innings in the outfield, but only getting 161 at bats.

The Playoffs

Once I got to the playoffs, the first thing I did was read all the playoff rules, which had always seemed irrelevant to me before. I must admit that I was nervous about running out of players, steal attempts, etc, but I made it through OK. It was an exciting series. I fell behind 3 games to 1 only to win the next two games against Pedro and Moyer, forcing the deciding game seven. I think Chris will tell you that it was a well-played series, since he was the only witness. Games 6 and 7 were both 2-1 affairs. But I can't think about all that now. I just want to get some Revenge for coming up short when it counted most.

written in January 2004