I was really looking forward to the season, especially the thought of making the run at the very slippery Spit Cup. After the 2000 loss to Greg in game 7 of the semifinals, I felt somewhat empty ... like I had let as good a chance as any slip away ... like I might never have a chance as good as that ... but also like I should have counted my blessings to have had a shot at the Cup despite a poor first half and meager talent. Regardless of my 2000 feelings, there's always optimism in a new year, and that was no different in January of 2001.
The name Denali ASPs represented who I was at this time ... an ASP programmer. Denali is the National Park in Alaska where Mt. McKinley resides (the mountain itself is called Denali in the native language), but it's significance to ASP is that when the Microsoft people were developing the ASP "language" their code name for the project was Denali. At my job at GEFA PMG, the developers joke about Denali, because the only "technical" question asked during our interviews, if one was asked at all, was, "Do you know Microsoft's code name for ASP?" Also, I had liked the nickname Asps from long ago, mostly from the Raiders of the Lost Ark line, "Asps, very dangerous, . . . you go first," after Indiana ponders why it had to be snakes inhabiting the Well of the Souls.
It may or may not have been apparent, but I put alot of effort into three basic tenants, 1) emulate the best team from the previous year, 2) no one should be better prepared to draft than me, and 3) during the season, "play for the big inning" should be my #1 strategy.
For this last one, this led me to attempt to drafting a powerful team with loads of walks. Unfortunately, this, mixed with other priorities going on during draft day, may have left me with one of the slowest teams that I ever had. And it was disheartening when no less than Bill James, ... BILL JAMES ... , in his Managers book that I read in May, proved that teams playing for one run more often yield higher scoring totals than teams playing for the big inning. Bill had a complex answer for why this was, and his tests were more or less done in a vaccuum, but it still did not bode well for me, I thought. Plus, there were other teams with ALOT more power than the ASPs.
Yes, I scouted a great deal ... some SLers may have scouted more, but I was happy with my effort -- if I lost in 2001, it wouldn't be because I wasn't on top of my game as a scout. Actually evaluating the talent was another story ... if I would've told you how much time I spent thinking about how to go about getting Dave Hansen, Pokey Reese, Mike Lowell and Luis Castillo, a foursome relatively inconsequential to my overall goals, you'd all be amazed. But the good thing was that most of this time was spent at work (thanks, Boog) or on health walks, where the subjects were limited ... believe me, Justin and Fletcher don't enjoy when I let their breakfast or playing take a back seat to Dave Hansen, so their concerns are my concerns when I'm with them, not the concern of when to pull the trigger on acquiring a somewhat versatile pinch hitter.
Regarding the emulation from the previous season, Greg won the previous Spit Cup, but without Pedro available to me, I thought it best to try to emulate Chris's T-Birds. When Chris was drafting his 2000 team, I most liked how he found a way to get himself a deep and talented starting staff without investing as much as I did with the Red Devils. He had a 13 in Cone, an 11Z in Ritchie, an 11 in Colon, an 11 (j-4) in Parris, and an 11W in Ortiz. I think my ASPs staff was nearly as good with a 12, an 11Z, an 11, an 11, and an 8. Chris also did well when he took wings like Jenkins and Burks, solid contributors who came pretty cheap, and mostly overlooked 1B Fred McGriff. I tried to follow suit with wings Justice, Floyd, Hammonds and Drew, and with a great Will Clark, who wasn't a top tier 1B, but still was my second or third best offensive player. Chris also achieved great offensive depth in getting solid offensive players at defensive positions like C, SS, 2B and CF ... which I tried to do. On average though, I think my lineup was well below the T-Birds.
The lineup often was:
1. Posada C
2. Clark 1B
3. ARod SS
4. Berkman DH
5. Justice RF
6. Griffey CF
7. Floyd LF
8. Lowell 3B
9. LCastillo 2B
With a bench of:
Alas, my run production was nowhere near where Chris's T-Birds were in 2000. In fact, I scored 848 runs, the same total that my "underachieving" Red Devils did the year previous. When I realized speed was causing me a great many ills, and that Berkman was not the clean-up man for this team, I moved Drew into the #1 spot and benched Floyd, shuffling Posada into the #2 spot and Clark to clean-up. My % of runs scored to runs created was still pretty atrocious, about 93% for the season (I created 30 more runs than Dave, but he actually scored 30 more runs than I did). It was really a tale of two seasons for the offense, which I'll talk about in greater detail later.
Granted, emulating Chris also meant getting a solid pen to complement the deep rotation, and I think I did that well with this group. I didn't really want to take Nen with my first pick, but I was sure he'd have a greater impact on making my team good vs. Glavine or Maddux. As for the rest of the pen, I wanted it to be strong, and I think I achieved that -- what's the point in taking one good reliever when you could have 3 or 4?
My staff was:
Mussina 11 Z
With a pen of:
Nen 23 Z
GWhite 17 Z
Fyhrie 15 Z w/ limited appearances (~ 32)
Garces 13 Z
Hasegawa 12 Z
Rincon 15 W w/ limited appearances (~ 35) and avail. innings (~ 30)
Carl Pavano, 11, was my 6th starter ... and was awful in 2 starts at the beginning of the season. Steve Sparks (7Z) pitched in place of Mussina for 2 starts at the end of the season (after clinching), and Jamie Moyer (5Z), one of my all-time favorite Summer Leaguers, replaced Castillo for one start. For trivia buffs, it was Moyer that illicited the first four-letter word that Bob directed at me.
I was in the position that I least wanted to be in after the Winter Meeting draws, stuck in the same division as Greg and possessing a late slot in the draft. But I had confidence that I could at least make the playoffs from this scenario. After the draft, I echoed what a lot of other people were saying, that the talent had never been so evenly dispersed in our league. I thought Steve and Chris had obvious pitching issues to address, and I thought Joe lacked a little offense ... but otherwise, it was anyone's season for the taking.
Started off 4-1 with a schlitz of Ken, but then got schlitzed by both Chris and Joe. I was 19-21 after 40 games, and had as many hot streaks as cold streaks the rest of the first half. In this time, I went 7-3 against Bob and Dave at a Dave-o-rama, then took the first two against Joe, only to lose the next 3 then get schlitzed by Ken for a 10-10 record on the day. The next time I played, I faced Steve for 10 and schlitzed him the first 5, while he schlitzed me the other 5. Sandwich these games with a 3-2 win over Greg and Chris schlitzing me, and I ended up a disappointing 38-42 after 80 games.
But I turned that around quickly after the break. I schlitzed Chris, chicoed Bob, then took 3 of 5 from Ken to move to 5 games over .500, and while Joe slumped in the second half, it looked like I was in great position to take the wild card or make a run at Greg. I had some anxious moments late in the season, first when Greg ran away with the division with his successful Greg-o-rama, later as Dave made a late charge and I could only muster a 4-6 record against him in our last 10 ... but by the end of that Dave-o-rama, I had all but clinched the wild card. When I went 9-3 against Greg and Graham in our final intra-divisionals, I had totally rebounded from a questionable start, and while I wasn't feeling all that confident about my chances in the playoffs, I knew that I had lept that first important hurdle ... actually getting to the playoffs.
I was pretty amused when I kept hearing about how I was "the favorite" in the playoffs -- heard that from at several different people. The stats show that I was pretty lucky to win 89 games, and I don't think I had constructed a solid playoff team ... would've been better off with a lot of J-1s in my lineup and with less emphasis on J-1 relievers. Did you know that Attorney General Janet Reno probably cost me a playoff appearancee for Mike Lowell, and in turn altered the way I could use Dave Hansen, Lance Berkman, JD Drew, Jeffrey Hammonds and Cliff Floyd?
Greg and I played a bunch of close games in the semifinals, but he bettered me. And once again, I was disappointed, but maybe less than in year's past, as I realized how fortunate I was to be in the position I was in come playoff time. Hope springs eternal for 2002 ... and just like every other SL GM, I am new convert to the religion of praying to the APBA gods for the 1st pick in the 2002 draft so I can take Barry Bonds and assure myself of success!
All season long, I thought my drafting of Cliff Floyd was dumb ... a nearly identical repeat of my 2000 mistake with Johnny Damon. I took Damon, a 2-30 lefty SA-2 with 17 speed, D33 stealing in the 15th. Not bad, relative to draft position, but not good enough to be a regular 6th hitter, and definitely more suited to regular use off the bench and only spot starting. Floyd was taken in the 14th ... as a 2-30 lefty SA-0 D34 with 12 speed. Here are how their numbers compare:
AVG OBP SLG Damon MLB 99 307 379 477 Floyd MLB 00 300 378 529
In looking at these numbers, Floyd was much better than Damon. Damon also grounded into more DPs and had one less 14 on his APBA card, meaning Floyd's performance in the SL was likely to be better than what Damon did, no matter how else they compared. My main issue with Damon was that he wasn't nearly powerful enough to hit 6th, nor was he as impactful to my lineup as you'd expect a wing OFer to be. But I rarely if ever asked Floyd to hit 6th, just as a 7th hitter, and he was as impactful as just about any other wing OF available in the 14th. And if my "wrong" decision regarding Damon was in part because he had so many steal attempts available and such good speed, Floyd didn't have as many attempts, and he didn't have the speed that Damon did ... and thus was less suited to be a bench player.
In any event, when Floyd slumped for most of the 1st half, I switched him to the bench and, among other things, he raised his average. Floyd's 2nd half performance helped me believe that he truly would have had a good SL 2001 if I had kept him as my regular left fielder, but my team's drastic improvement in the 2nd half also led me to believe that my team was better with Floyd on the bench. Regardless, after fretting over the pick most of the season, I think Floyd was fine going in the 14th, and his pick (and my intended use of him) wasn't a repeat of how I erred with Damon in 2000.
OK, so I perceived a mistake with Floyd that may not have really been a mistake, but what I did not realize throughout the season was the mistake I made with my 5th hitter, a subject I wrote about parallel to my Damon error in my Red Devils season review. In SL 2000, though he couldn't hit for average, I put Rolen in the 5th spot because he had great secondary average numbers. For the ASPs, I did the same, putting Justice in the 5th spot for most of the year. Here are their numbers:
AVG OBP SLG Rolen MLB 99 268 368 525 Justice MLB 00 286 377 584
Justice's OPS was much better than Rolen's, 961 to 893, including an ISO .041 better, so he was pretty solid as a 5th hitter. But my problem with Rolen was that he couldn't hit for a high enough average. Justice repeated this flaw in the 2001 season, as evidenced by his .218 batting average. Justice did get on base at a better clip than Rolen, but whereas Rolen was pretty fast and could occasionally run, Justice was just a 7 speed with no value as a base stealer, so in that respect, Justice was too similar to Rolen. When Rolen did hit for extra-bases, his doubles too often left plodders like McGwire or Jaha on 3rd base ... something Justice did too for plodders Posada and Clark. Fundamentally, Justice wasn't wrong, but practically, for the lineup I put together, maybe he was, in the same fashion that Rolen was for the Red Devils.
Fabregas AVE PA AB H XB HR RRBI BB SB CS 1st Half 444 18 18 8 0 0 2 3 0 1 0 2nd Half 279 47 43 12 2 1 8 6 3 1 0 Hammonds AVE PA AB H XB HR RRBI BB SB CS 1st Half 340 158 144 49 19 9 25 31 13 5 1 2nd Half 263 230 205 54 17 4 27 21 20 4 4 Drew AVE PA AB H XB HR RRBI BB SB CS 1st Half 330 134 112 37 15 7 26 14 21 8 1 2nd Half 267 232 202 54 21 13 44 35 27 10 2 Clark AVE PA AB H XB HR RRBI BB SB CS 1st Half 295 300 268 79 40 16 40 34 29 5 0 2nd Half 284 307 261 74 33 12 37 57 39 5 1 Griffey AVE PA AB H XB HR RRBI BB SB CS 1st Half 287 313 268 77 33 18 53 49 39 4 2 2nd Half 249 312 261 65 41 25 53 53 48 3 6 Boone AVE PA AB H XB HR RRBI BB SB CS 1st Half 260 79 73 19 7 3 15 7 5 3 0 2nd Half 183 94 82 15 10 5 23 13 11 5 3 Castillo AVE PA AB H XB HR RRBI BB SB CS 1st Half 239 270 243 58 9 0 24 19 25 24 11 2nd Half 260 266 223 58 12 0 31 26 37 34 6 Lowell AVE PA AB H XB HR RRBI BB SB CS 1st Half 229 262 240 55 22 5 22 37 14 2 0 2nd Half 235 246 230 54 28 5 20 30 13 4 0 Posada AVE PA AB H XB HR RRBI BB SB CS 1st Half 216 375 306 66 28 14 41 38 68 2 1 2nd Half 261 337 280 73 33 12 45 34 46 1 2 ARod AVE PA AB H XB HR RRBI BB SB CS 1st Half 208 336 293 61 34 12 41 38 42 12 2 2nd Half 266 346 293 78 39 21 58 56 49 13 2 Berkman AVE PA AB H XB HR RRBI BB SB CS 1st Half 201 267 244 49 28 8 27 31 22 3 0 2nd Half 272 228 195 53 27 10 27 36 31 5 4 Floyd AVE PA AB H XB HR RRBI BB SB CS 1st Half 198 195 167 33 18 6 21 20 22 15 2 2nd Half 278 111 97 27 9 5 20 9 12 16 7 Justice AVE PA AB H XB HR RRBI BB SB CS 1st Half 186 317 263 49 29 13 37 41 52 1 2 2nd Half 248 316 282 70 40 16 43 47 29 2 0 Hansen AVE PA AB H XB HR RRBI BB SB CS 1st Half 186 116 97 18 12 6 10 11 19 0 0 2nd Half 210 92 81 17 5 1 3 6 11 0 0 Reese AVE PA AB H XB HR RRBI BB SB CS 1st Half 185 73 65 12 2 0 9 9 4 15 1 2nd Half 211 67 57 12 2 0 15 7 6 23 1
The numbers that jump out at me ... in the 1st half, Clark hit for a slightly better average in a few more at bats, had more XB hits with more Home Runs, but had 23 less RBI than in the 2nd half. Floyd, taken out of the lineup mid-year, had a much better 2nd half (1st Half OPS of 670 vs. 2nd Half of ~832), while his replacements were much worse in the 2nd half (Hammonds, 999 vs. ~724 ... Drew, 1043 vs. ~862). In the 2nd half, Posada walked 22 less times in 38 less PAs, and hit 2 less home runs as he generally moved out of the lead-off spot, but he was able to score 4 more runs. Justice significantly improved in most areas in the 2nd half, but he drew 23 less walks. As expected with his move out of the cleanup (batted cleanup in a lot occasions against lefties in the 2nd half, but almost never against righties), Berkman, despite marked improvement in the 2nd half, did not markedly improve his runs and RBI totals. Hansen, while improving his average by 24 points, hit for less power, drew fewer walks, and had fewer runs and RBI totals in the 2nd half.
My MVP ballot was:
|1. Carlos Delgado||1136||1339||193.3|
|2. Edgardo Alfonzo||1068||1204||171.1|
|3. Todd Helton||1026||1111||162.1|
|4. Barry Bonds||1028||1145||142.6|
|5. Jason Giambi||960||1059||135.0|
|6. Troy Glaus||945||994||136.6|
|7. Sammy Sosa||994||1048||140.7|
|8. Jermaine Dye||920||935||127.0|
|9. Vladimir Guerrero||900||891||119.6|
|10. Jeff Kent||869||863||118.6|
My Cy ballot:
|1. Pedro Martinez||3.72||22-10|
|2. Kevin Brown||3.81||19-10|
|3. Jeff D'Amico||3.68||15-11|
|4. Dave Veres||3.42||21-4|
|5. Derek Lowe||3.36||10-12||13 saves|
My Benevolent Yellow Tumbler (aka MOY) ballot:
|1. Chris Klein|
|2. Steve Swinea|
|3. Greg Nims|
I saved this email from early in the season, and I think it's pretty interesting. After two weeks or so without hearing from Bob about a deal I proposed to him, I am making a last-ditch effort to sell him on a trade. It may be lopsided, but I think I make some compelling arguments. Granted, even with those arguments, I am sure that more compelling arguments were made to Bob by other managers as they tried to pry Vidro and Lowe away from him -- as well as offers with more appealing players. In any case, I think this shows I can sound sincere even as I outdo Swinea in the "let-me-tell-you-why-you-should-make-this-deal" department.
Subject: trade talk Date: Tue, 03 Apr 2001 14:29:04 -0500 From: Keith Klein <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: Bob Taterka <email@example.com> Bob, You may dismiss this message as the delusionary rambling of a wrongly-perceived genius ... but here goes my Swinea-like chatter about the Vidro-Thome-Lowe for Nen-Berkman-LCastillo deal: First, let me say that since I have now hit 40 games, I fully expect you to wait until you at least get to 35 to pull off this deal. But you may rather wait until the 40 game mark to even finish deliberating on the deal, which is fine with me as well. I also fully understand that you don't have easy access to any SL computer, so I do not expect to hear a response to the trade for awhile yet, even if you get to 35 games played. Related to the access issues inherent in your situation, I understand why you would seek advice from someone like Chris. I recently asked him, after I hadn't heard from you for a spell, if he had spoke to you about the offer. He said he did, and he told me his analysis was, among other things, that it did not make your team better. (If you don't want to make the trade, at least have the balls to tell me personally rather than let me hear it through the grapevine -- wait, just kidding!!) I would not fully discount Chris's opinion that the trade would not make your team better, but the basis of this email message is that I perceive his analysis to be wrong and I want to provide you with some further perspective. I am not going to tell you that what I am offering is better than what I would be receiving. I will echo something Chris also said, it's a pretty fair trade. So (1) what's the advantage that you get, (2) would your team actually get better by making a fair trade, and (3) should you make the deal? Answering my question #1, your advantage is that, though the sum of the players are equal, you get the opportunity to change the face of your team, which can be a big positive for you. This trade began in Splinters with you telling me you wanted speed at the beginning of your lineup. Simply put, Luis Castillo gives you that. But he comes at the price of one of your better hitters in Vidro. Castillo offers you better speed, better stealing, a better average and better on-base numbers. Vidro will have decidly better power numbers, and will be able to play a few more games -- advantage Vidro. But consider that if you insert Castillo in the one spot in your lineup, Luis Gonzalez or whoever else you've been leading off can fill the spot in the lineup where Vidro was hitting. If the improvement you get with Castillo's speed and his on-base percentage are as high as you hope, the advantage Vidro has will shrink. I tried to offset any Vidro advantage in the deal by having us swap our best relievers. You and I know that Lowe is not much worse than Nen, as evidenced by their only being taken 11 picks apart from each other, but in getting Nen, you would be getting this year's Billy Wagner -- except that Nen's 23 Z is better than Wagner's 22 non-Z. As someone who constantly told me about how important Wagner was to Corsica's success, I hope you can appreciate how Nen factors into our deal, and I hope you see that getting Nen and his 2 games in relief out of 5 is a huge advantage, especially mixed with Pedro Martinez and his effect on your relief staff. Additionally, the throw-in's of Thome and Berkman are weighted in your favor. Berkman, like Thome, would be your top bat off the bench. But unlike Thome, he has some speed and some ability to steal bases. Berkman also gives you more defensive flexibility, as he can play outfield in addition to first base and dh. Obviously, when you drafted Thome, you envisioned him contributing more than 9 plate appearances (or whatever number he has) in your first 30 games. I think Berkman's mulitple positions, his lower platoon rating (he's a switch-hitter, SA-0 vs. Thome's SA-5 or PR-5), and his better speed and stealing can provide you with a more complete player, one that you can use more often, especially since you are only carrying 4 outfielders. Offensively, he hit for a higher average than Thome, he drew nearly as many bases on balls, provided similar home run numbers and better overall extra-base hit totals. Berkman's OPS (On base percentage Plus Slugging) in 2000 was .949, Thome's was .929. Thome's advanatges are his better defense at first, though it seems with Bagwell and Edgar, you didn't plan on Thome getting too many innings at first, and Thome's games played -- 158 to Berkman's 114. Considering how little you've been able to use Thome because of his limitations, I would estimate that the games played advantage is not nearly as critical to you as it might otherwise be. Those are how I see the advantages -- Vidro a moderate advantage over Luis Castillo, Nen a slight advantage over Lowe, Berkman a slight over Thome. So to answer question #2, how do you improve your team if you give up a moderately better player in Vidro for slightly better players in Nen and Berkman? I point again to how our trade talk began ... you expressed to me that the thing you most wanted to change about your team was adding speed at the top of your lineup. I'll reiterate that with this offer, you will do that. The subject of "some change CAN make a team better" reminds me of your blockbuster trade with Joe last year. After the trade was made, all of us in the league thought hard about who got the better of the deal. We all had differing opinions. Collectively, there was no consensus. But Joe went on a tear that got him within a few games of Chris (before Chris went on his own tear to seal his 2nd President's Cup), and you built enough steam that you rose to within 3 games of your first division title. BOTH of you couldn't have gotten the better of the deal, obviously, but I firmly believe that you both received enough positives that, on the whole, the changes made to the face of both of your teams helped you both improve. Seeing as how your lone negative in our deal (castillo/vidro) is something that you can perceive as possibly having a positive effect (castillo's ability at the beginning of your lineup), I think your making the deal can again improve the face of your team, though the sum of the players involved in the deal is equal. And finally, to question 3, should you make the deal? Only you can decide -- not Chris, not me, and not anyone else. From my perspective regarding if _I_ should make the deal, my feeling is that if you don't accept my offer, I won't be too upset. I am near the top of my division right now, and changing the face of my team may not be my best option. Considering I had a 2-10 stretch earlier in the season and strange 3-person injury that crippled me for a few games, I might be better than my 19-21 record indicates. Maybe the guys that have underperformed to this point will pick it up in the next 122 games and I'll beat Nims & Haas handily. But I made this offer because I had a the opposite opinion of my team that you had for yours -- I thought I was relying much too much on speed. I didn't think I'd be running much this year, and after 40 games (I think) I lead the league with 47 steals. Again, I didn't think the trade offer would improve my team, but I thought I could benefit by changing the face of my team. So that's that. I hope you can play games soon and get to 40 and give this more thought. Thanks for your time. Peace, Keith
. . . especially to you, Mr. Swinea. And we'll see you in 2003. Don't forget to read to Haitham every night. I suggest the Dr. Seuss book Kid, You'll Move Mountains. Peace!