Woollum Mammoths Season Review

Let me start by saying that in many ways I consider my first season in the Summer League to have been a success. The best part about being in the Summer League was the opportunity to renew my friendships with Chris and Ken and make new friends in Steve, Joe, Bob and Keith. (I think it is accurate to state that in spite of Keith's close relationship with Greg, Keith and I had not spent much time together prior to SL 2000). In addition, any activity that allows me to get together with the boys to drink and talk baseball is guaranteed to be a winner. The only thing the SL seems to be missing is topless waitresses, but Steve seems to be willing to go crotchless when circumstances require it.

That having been said, I am very disturbed to see that I now have the same career winning percentage as a manager as Jim Frank. I entered the season with high hopes, but quickly learned that I was not quite the G.M. I thought I was. I ended up drafting a team that was heavy on OBP but low on SLG, perhaps overcompensating for Doug's low OBP, high SLG team a year ago. I had good baserunners but no base stealers. In addition, I feel that I drafted all of my pitchers (with the exception of Hampton and Johnstone) at least two rounds early. Not that I couldn't have benefited myself by drafting pitchers when I did, I just took the wrong guys. (Daal instead of Benitez is the most obvious example.) Drafting relief pitchers with few games pitched also meant I needed an extra pitcher, depriving me of a much-needed extra bat off the bench.

With respect to managing my team, I expected that to come more slowly. Baseball strategy is not something I was ever taught, and it is something that the casual fan tends to miss. I was 19-29 in one run games and 6-9 in extra innings. Part of that can be attributed to my bullpen, but I also blame myself at a managerial level. Knowing when to run, when to play the infield in, when to issue the IBB--all of those things are things I need to learn. The defensive substitution can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on whether you hold the lead. A lot of times, I took a bat out of the lineup and lived to regret it later. On a positive note, my team did finish 42-39 at home. Guess they liked the happy confines of Tusk Field.

Against Keith and Bob I was 12 games under .500, which is exactly where my team ended up on the year. I played the rest of the league even up. What does this tell us? Not much, I think. My R/G was 5.4, as compared to 5.2 for Keith and 5.0 for Bob. Over the course of the year, I scored over 100 more runs than Bob but gave up 53 more runs. I scored less than 40 runs more than Keith, but only gave up 12 more runs. Another way to look at it is that I was 11 under against the playoff teams. By finishing 1 under against the "weaker" teams in the league, I sealed my position near the bottom of the foam-filled barrel.

I think we have already discussed in passing the reasons my offense failed to win me more games. First in the league in OBP, last in the league in HRs. Last in the league in SB percentage. (At 63.8 percent, I believe Rob Neyer would say that I would have scored more runs had I never attempted a single steal.) I consider Rios and Fernandez to be my offensive bargains of the draft, but maybe they weren't bargains. Rios had limited games, Fernandez was a liability in the field. Bagwell, Garciaparra and Williams were all solid, although I think Garciaparra was a slight disappointment at 7.0 RC/G. Gary Sheffield had a very tough year, as did just about all my role players. Jose Hernandez played in 77 games for me and was downright horrible. He was a total liability at the plate and also at shortstop. The ex-Cub factor haunted Woollum all year long.

As an aside, would Steve pronounce Garciaparra as Garshurupurra?

My pitching staff was the story of the good, the bad, and the ugly. The good were Hampton, Johnstone and Chouinard. The bad were Magnante, Urbina, Garces and Hernandez. The ugly were (especially considering where I drafted them) The Fro, Daal, and Hudson. Nen, Halama and Suppan all get byes, since they were drafted later.

What was up with Tim Hudson? What was up with Daal? What made these guys so much worse than all of Chris's 11s? I don't know, and I doubt Chris is telling. Part of it, I assume, is me leaving guys in too long. I just seemed like all year long my H's were giving up home runs. Platoon ratings seemed to mean nothing. I dunno. At times, I was so frustrated with my pitching staff that I felt like killing someone. Maybe even Neifi Perez, who absolutely killed my pitching staff. I guess I have a few months (at least) to figure it out.

Early in the draft, I took a gamble and lost. In round 4, I passed on a reliever because there were 3 really good ones left and two pretty good ones left. Joe already had Wagner, so I figured he would take a maximum of one reliever before it got back to me. Bob had taken two pitchers already, so I figured he would have to spend one of his picks on offense. Greg taking two relievers is what killed me, but there is no reason I should have been shocked. Then, when Benitez was the only one left, I choked. I kept thinking of Keith's advice to first-year managers: avoid the extremes, such as the W. I choked. Even if he was a slight risk, the upside was too high to pass him up there. The fact that I passed on him for Daal just made everything that much worse. Other draft snafus included taking my catcher at the end of the catcher run and picking Denny Hocking so early. There are lots of Denny Hockings in the world, but only one Matt Stairs.

If Bob really isn't coming back, I want him to know that I will try and pick up next year exactly where he left off: giving Greg and Keith fits and cussing up a blue streak. However, I hope Bob will be back. Every organization needs its Carl Everett, and Bob is ours. His colorful quotes draw the media attention away from the rest of us scrubs.

In retrospect, it was a fun year if not all that successful. And I hope I learned a lot. Having fallen off the horse in '00, I am ready to get right back on. In just a couple days, the final MLB season stats will be out. Let the scouting begin!