Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Hit Man

Is this the guy that's going to become the first player in Mantle World to reach 2,000 hits?

James Barnes
Mother Canuckers
Age: 31B/T: R/R
Born: Springfield, MO
Position(s): C/DH
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Unless he gets hurt, James Barnes is the guy. If you're like me, you're probably saying to yourself, "Who's James Barnes?" There are a lot of names I recognize in Mantle World for their hitting prowess - Charles Costello, Kevin Mullins, Quentin Keller, J.D. Acosta and the list goes on. These are names you see in box scores and recognize because they are the big bashers. I was certain they were climbing up the home run list and hit list. I expected them to be there, and there they were.

James Barnes, on the other hand, has been playing in near obscurity in the ordinary confines of Frontier Field in Rochester. Tucked away in the city formerly known as the "Flour City" and more recently known as the "Flower City", James Barnes has accumulated 1,813 hits over 10 seasons. He's 187 away from the magic number. That's a lot of hits to get in a season. It's not an easy feat, but if I put Mr. Barnes under a microscope, he'll get there this season provided he remains healthy (and he's never been on the disabled list).

Barnes has played in every single game since Season 7 when he missed only 5 games. He's reached 200 hits in a season 3 times and hasn't had less than 187 hits since Season 7. He's a career .311 hitter who's also sitting on 799 RBIs. These are all great statistics, but I dug a little deeper. This one's the kicker. Barnes is also closing in on another player record and although he's not first on the list now, he most likely will be at season's end. Barnes is currently 2nd all-time in Stolen Base Attempts Against with 964! That's right, runners have tried to steal a base with Barnes behind the plate 964 times! The only player in front of him is Bob Mays (1,002 SBAA) whose days behind the plate should be over. The good news for Barnes is his caught stealing percentage (about 28%) is not bad.

There's more good news for Barnes though. With new ownership in place, he'll be taking his game north of the border as the Rochester Rockets have become the Montreal Mother Canuckers. While Olympic Stadium is one of the least attractive ballparks I've ever seen, it does play well offensively (ballpark effects - 2,2,2,1,1). That news should keep Barnes warm on those cold Canadian nights.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Interview With A Champion

After winning his first Mantle World Series, the Mantle Free Press had a chance to ask the champ some questions regarding HBD as well as a few other topics. Check out the interview below.

MFP (Mantle Free Press): First, let me say congratulations on winning your first World Series title. So, who was your World Series MVP and why?

TB (the Benders): Second baseman George Dunham was named WS MVP, hitting .391 with a.462 OBP, 1.114 OPS and 10 RBI

MFP: Was Dunham your regular season MVP also? If not, who was?

TB: That'd have to be Sammy Shumpert. He's been a force on offense for me. I didn't really think he deserved the AL MVP though. To me, defense is important so a guy who splits time between 1B and DH would have to have offensive numbers far and away better than someone at a key defensive position.
I voted for Tejera.

MFP: Many Mantle owners consider the A.L. North to be the best division in Mantle. Is the division deserving of those accolades?

TB: The AL North is without a doubt the best in Mantle. All four owners have been here since day 1 and have really shown a commitment to fielding quality teams. Some other divisions such as the NL North or AL West have been very good for a stretch of a few seasons, but the AL North has had multiple top teams in each of the 10 seasons of this world's existence. The Bad Seeds have had quite a bit of regular season success, but I think this is the first season in which I wasn't battling for a playoff spot in the final series of the season against the Black Sox.
Of course tecwrg really hasn't been pulling his weight the past few seasons. Aside from the recent embarrassment in Scranton, the other 3 teams have never had a losing record and only have one season out of 30 with less than 87 wins. All four teams have won over 100 games at some point and three of us now have a WS ring.

MFP: What advice would you offer to Mantle HBDers trying to build a championship team?

TB: Don't spend too long rebuilding. Judging by the trading history in Mantle, prospects seem to be way overvalued. By now most owners realize that most prospects don't ever reach their potential, yet I realize it is tempting to go hard after a guy who has great projections. Far too many owners ignore veteran players. I'm continually amazed at how many high quality players are still around near the end of free agency. At that point most will sign a 1-yr deal.

MFP: What's the most important thing you've learned in playing 10 seasons of Mantle HBD?

TB: The playoffs are a crapshoot. I knew this before playing HBD, but it really makes the point clear when you field a team that you think is unstoppable and could barely be improved, only to see them knocked out of the divisional round of the playoffs. I really didn't think this season's Bad Seeds would be a championship contender. I thought my offense was the weakest I've ever had, and I was worried my starting pitchers wouldn't be able to match up with some of the aces that are in the AL. But I managed to avoid crucial injuries (a big concern considering my aging pitching staff), got Rudy Brown back near the end of the ALCS and got just lucky enough to win it all.

MFP: When not setting lineups, deactivating minor leaguers, and scanning the waiver wire, what do you do in your spare time?

TB: I'm big into music and college football. I'm also a huge numbers guy, so occasionally I'll play around with some statistical modeling data from various sports, or more recently election data.

MFP: What's your favorite sports team, player or both?

TB: USC football and Marcus Allen.

TB: Pete Carroll knows how to run a program. The stretch they've had recently is incredible, but it would be more impressive if they had the opportunity to play in a playoff to decide the championship. I'm still hopeful a college football playoff, even if only a plus-one format, will happen in the near future. I got even more optimistic when Obama gave his Monday Night football interview and said that that would be the one thing he would change about sports if he were elected president. I realize he doesn't exactly have the authority to do anything directly, but maybe he can change the minds of the few people getting rich off the current system that are standing in the way of what every college football fan wants to see.

MFP: I'm a big music person. What song was playing in the Bad Seeds clubhouse after the World Series win?

TB: Well, it'd have to be a very Detroit kind of song. Ass-n-Titties maybe? That's probably not appropriate for the clubhouse. Probably Strings of Life by Derrick May or maybe Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground".

MFP: Thanks for your time, and once again, congratulations on your first Mantle World Series.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Season 10 Award Winners

World Series Champions:
Detroit Bad Seeds

National League Owner of the Year:
goodtymes31 (Oakland Polish Hammers)

Oakland Polish Hammers (NL)
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American League Owner of the Year:
the Benders (Detroit Bad Seeds)

Agent of the Year:
Wade Nicholson (2 players drafted/signed out of the Top 10 draft picks)

National League MVP:
Erick Hatcher

Erick Hatcher
Kansas City
Age: 27B/T: L/L
Born: International Falls, MN
Position(s): 1B/LF/DH
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American League MVP:
Sammy Shumpert

Sammy Shumpert
Bad Seeds
Age: 26B/T: S/R
Born: Oakton, VA
Position(s): 1B/DH
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National League Cy Young:
Henry Mateo

Harry Mateo
Age: 34B/T: R/R
Born: Mexicali, MX
Position(s): P (SP1)
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American League Cy Young:
Vitas Henley

Vitas Henley
Age: 28B/T: R/R
Born: St. Peter, MN
Position(s): P (SP1)
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National League Rookie of the Year:
Willis Bonilla

Willis Bonilla
Mighty Men
Age: 23B/T: R/R
Born: Bremen, GA
Position(s): RF/1B/DH
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American League Rookie of the Year:
Jack Abercrombie

Jack Abercrombie
Black Sox
Age: 23B/T: S/R
Born: Lafayette, OH
Position(s): P (SuA)
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National League Fireman of the Year:
George Van Hekken

George Van Hekken
Polish Hammers
Age: 33B/T: L/L
Born: Mcallen, TX
Position(s): P (ClA)
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American League Fireman of the Year:

Dick Orosco

Dick Orosco
Black Sox
Age: 25B/T: R/R
Born: Elizabethtown, PA
Position(s): P (ClA)
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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

HBD Cribs - Episode II

In the second installment of HBD Cribs, I'll take a look at all the players who bring home at least $9 million a year. Are they overpriced, overpaid, or fiscally fine? Let's find out.

The $9 Million Dollar Men

Pablo Ordonez
Age: 26B/T: R/R
Born: Las Matas Cotui, DO
Position(s): SS/IF/OF/DH
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Pablo Ordonez - $9.25 mil (4 yrs/$37 mil) - JUST RIGHT. This is a great deal, keeping Ordonez under contract until he's 29-30 years old. While Season 10 didn't live up to Season 9, Ordonez will be a stud.

Ahmed Sanford
Age: 28B/T: S/L
Born: Conway, SC
Position(s): P (SP3)
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Ahmed Sanford - $9.125 mil (5 yrs/$45.6 mil) - SLIGHTLY UNDERPAID. This is THE GUY! Sanford is the pitcher I hate facing more than anyone. The Ahmed Sanford/Vitas Henley pitching duals are the best. He's under contract through next season so we'll see if he gets any more money when he hits 30 years old.

Willie McCarty
Age: 36B/T: S/R
Born: Foxworth, MS
Position(s): P (ClA)
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Willie McCarty - $9 mil (3 yrs/$28.5 mil) - SLIGHTLY OVERPAID. McCarty's in his last year of his current contract. He's having a very good season as a closer, but I just don't agree with paying a closer or non-starter this kinda money. Or course, that could be part of the reason why welsh5 has all the World Series Championships and I don't!

Ned McInerney
Age: 35B/T: R/R
Born: Mondovi, WI
Position(s): P (SP1)
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Ned McInerney - $9 mil (3 yrs/$27 mil) - UNDERPAID. For what this guy's done during the course of his 3 year deal, he's easily underpaid. 54 wins, 27 complete games, 556 strikeouts, 717 innings pitched, etc. Although his health is exceptional, he is 36 years old so he'll probably get less money next season.

Sherm Roberts
Age: 28B/T: S/L
Born: Cleveland, OH
Position(s): 1B/COF/DH
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Sherm Roberts - $9 mil (4 yrs/$35.6 mil) - JUST RIGHT. For as good as Sherm is (2-time MVP, 5 Silver Slugger Awards, 4-time All-Star), I wouldn't pay him more. Now, if he were a short stop or centerfielder, I might pay him more. Sherm's got 1 more season under his current deal. He's only 28 now so he might get more next year if he files for free agency.

Brian Tamura
Age: 32B/T: R/R
Born: Hyogo, JP
Position(s): SS/IF/OF/DH
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Brian Tamura - $9 mil (2 yrs/$18 mil) - SLIGHTLY OVERPAID. Going into the deal, I would've said overpaid, but Tamura is having a great season (41 HR, 120 RBI). If he can duplicate this season (and maybe gets that OPS over .900 next season), I would change him to a JUST RIGHT.

Julio Valenzuela
Black Sox
Age: 28B/T: L/R
Born: Cambiaso, DO
Position(s): 2B/CIF/OF
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Julio Valenzuela - $9 mil (3 yrs/$27 mil) - EVER SO SLIGHTLY OVERPAID. If I'm paying $9 mil for a guy, I want him to hit .300. That's my only knock on Valenzuela. I love the added bonus that this guy can steal bases and he's got a great batter's eye, but c'mon Julio, hit .300 for me! Oh, and where'd your power go? Get me the number for BALCO!