I went into the draft planning to focus much more strongly on pitching & defense, with the belief that there would be enough offense out there to be decent in that area. I decided that if I could get 2 of the very top relievers - grades, innings, games - and 2 strong starters that I could bottom fill nicely from there. There were enough higher graded pitchers available this season that I knew the bottom of the starter pool wasn't going to include any 6Zs or 8LZ like I had with Castillo & Milton last season. And I had learned last year, from those very scrub starters, that even 6s will get hitters out, including an occasional shutout, and even Milton could win 11 games. Going 45 starters deep into this year's pool had 11s and 10s with no control ratings or 8s without negatives, so I was certain that they would pitch better than even Milton & Castillo had, or at least more frequently better. Then my thought process flowed to how 2 innings of a 13GZ and 2 innings of a 15GZ would be a step up over an 11 with no control ratings. So I went to an additional reliever on the final roster, and tried to grab relievers that I specifically targeted (Rhodes's lefty 17GZ and Issy's 16HZ) at a time when I was worried they wouldn't last.
Offensively, I saw a million DHs out there. I had decided fairly early to pick a leadoff man as my first offensive selection, as I didn't see hardly any of them. Indeed, this season Chipper Jones & Todd Helton - not really leadoff men - are the best of the group. Unfortunately, after agonizing over, and then picking Pettitte in the 4th, Bobby Abreu went to Steve in the 5th prior to my selection. Shawn Green with his 42 MLB homers, 388 OBP, 158 games and 3-35 seemed to cover all the areas I wanted to cover so I picked him. I tried to stay in that mode. Palmeiro, HRs, walks, 155 games and a 4 defensively. LuGo was one of my default leadoff men - many walks, low strikeouts, OBP over 400 - that I actually thought would hit second well, lead off in a pinch, and could DH. The other player I really was high on was Alfonzo, despite his 130 games; he was a 5, with high steal percentage, 3 on the hit and run, and a very good OBP. I truly thought he would be there in the 8th or 9th due to his game limitations, although I contemplated choosing him versus Palmeiro in the 7th. Dave grabbed him the 8th just ahead of me, leading to my flip-a-coin selection of Rolen over Chavez as 5s with hitting abilities, and the beginning of a run on 3B. Floyd was a "wow, he's still available, can I get another hitter in my lineup" in the 12th. I didn't notice how left handed the lineup was, or realize what that would cost me, during the building process. Wilkerson & McLemore were high secondary average guys to fill a multitude of spots, but with limitations. I tried to get catchers that could throw, yet add something offensively, but Myers & Miller didn't stretch many games past 162, so I needed a backup. A review of the league looked as though basestealing would not be very prevalent, so Barrett's offense took precedence as a backup.
Started out the year about as good as could be … Padilla & Pettitte with back-to-back shutouts versus Fort Collins. Went 5-5 in the first 10. 10-10 after 20. Offense was disturbingly quiet. Pitching was mostly pretty good. Bench is/was non-existent. I became resigned early to being in 135 close games, as the pitching/defense always seems to keep me in. Struggled versus Graham & Greg as I always do. Dave & I played tight, close games, as we seem to always do. Against Chris & Keith, lost the pivotal rubber game of the series, but was competitive.
Stats through 40:
Team hitting .202. Last in runs. Last in home runs allowed. 2nd in walks. 3rd in walks allowed. Individual Production numbers:
MLB SL Diff Barrett .753 .806 +53 (only 36 PAs) Walker .786 .807 +21 (only versus righties, slugging 40 points higher than MLB) Miller .775 .710 -65 Myers .723 .556 -167 (.306 OBP, 6 hits/9 walks) Gonzalez .900 .732 -168 (.371 OBP, 25 walks) Wilkerson .842 .650 -192 (.309 OBP, 16 hits/18 walks) Drew .781 .579 -202 (33 PAs) Floyd .922 .713 -209 (8 steals) Rolen .862 .645 -214 McLemore .778 .555 -223 Vizquel .764 .540 -224 Palmeiro .966 .719 -247 Lofton .764 .459 -305 Green .946 .620 -326
Not too much good to say about any of them. Club leader in home runs - 6. Club leader in slugging among regulars - .413. Club leader in runs scored - 19. Club leader in hits - 33. A composite of that player would have 24 home runs, 134 hits, 77 runs scored. Not even an average player, unless he caught or played middle infield. Of course, what it could also say is that the bulk of the lineup is not performing to par. If -150 is a decent parameter, the bulk of the Quarrymen are in a season-long slump.
Williams 1-0 2.00 Padilla 3-2 4.27 (5 quality starts, 3.5 sup/9, 2.1 bb/9) Pettitte 3-3 4.41 (4 quality starts, 44 Ks in 49 innings, 2.4 bb/9) Miller 0-3 4.50 Schmidt 0-1 7.11 Lidle 0-5 7.71 Hammond 2-4 3.18 5 sv Isringhausen 1-1 3.28 (0.7 bb/9) Dotel 2-1 3.69 (7.6 br/9, 42 Ks, 9.7 k/9) Rhodes 3-1 4.32 (5 wp, 4.7 bb/9) Bradford 1-0 4.40 (6.3 h/9) Rivera 1-0 4.76 White 0-2 6.92 (2 hr/9, 6.2 bb/9)
Bottom of starting staff not getting enough offense to help them. Final 3 starters have lost all 9 decisions, despite averaging just over 3 innings/start. Pen has swung from stellar into ok. 4.50 staff ERA in the middle of the pack. Last in home runs, though, despite Gs or Hs through much of the staff. Bullpen alone has worked 176 innings at a 3.94 ERA with a 2.7 bb/9 ratio, mostly due to all Zs excepting Hammond.
Padilla & Pettitte, who began like Spahn & Sain through 20, turned into Jessica Hahn & Conrad Bain for their next few starts. Lofton played well in preplays; awful so far as a half-time starter during regular season. Hammond was clobbered and walked a bunch of guys in preplays; regular season, walks manageable, bad timing on some home runs versus his 26H. Dotel & Rhodes each had some really bad moments, blended with good. Bradford & Isringhausen, my two "other" Hs both have pitched well except for 1 appearance each. Palmeiro already has missed his season's allotment of 7 games due to separate injuries. Luis Gonzalez began the season at .111 over the first 10, but then hit .300 with a .454 OBP over the next 30. Todd Walker, my afterthought platoon partner of McLemore at second base, hit .367 in the second 20, only playing versus righties. Woody "super-sub" Williams came in and pitched great twice. Too left handed in the everyday lineup, with too many "out" holes from guys hitting .180. Perhaps the trade will create some cohesive offensive flow, although Sheffield is sitting at -309 in Production versus MLB himself. Hopefully the pitching and defense will be consistent enough to keep me in the wild card race, and the offense will turn around enough to make a surge.