Through Both Lenses: Because We’re Nerds

Posted: June 14, 2012 by Mauricio Rubio Jr. in Columns, Sports, Through Both Lenses
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

by: Mauricio Rubio Jr.
email: mr@99sportsproblems.com
twitter: @MRubio52

First and foremost, we are nerds. The three OG’s and the new guy running this multimedia sports/lifestyle project are all nerds in something. I think all of us might even be 5 tool nerds. A lot of our tools overlap. Raul is a musical technician, and I mean that in the literal and figurative sense. He literally is a technician, but I haven’t met anyone who knows as much about one thing as Raul knows about music. Well, actually Tony might fit that crown. Tony’s like that guy who can reference everything in the sports realm. In fact I’d be hard pressed to find a baseball sage quite like Tony. I dunno if anyone knows as much about baseball as him. You know though, Andy does know a lot about a wide variety of different sports, which is pretty crazy in it’s own right. I’m pretty sure the first time we met it ended up in a discussion about 3 different sports in under 2 hours.

Where Andy and I overlap is in our affinity for baseball, and our particular fondness for baseball video games. Now, you’re all aware of MLB The Show. Matt McIrish did a pretty good review on the game. Nothing quite summed up the reasons for starting this entire adventure quite like the text message exchange I had with Andy.

Now, I don’t claim to be anything but a fan of baseball. In our little circle, however, I’ve gained two reputations.

  1. “Moe (yeah there’s an e at the end. Moe’s Tavern, that’s where it comes from) never sleeps.” – This one is mostly true. I’m usually awake. I am awake at some pretty odd hours. I don’t quite know how to explain why I’m often awake, just take it as a fact. I do sleep, it does happen, just you know, late at night.
  2. “Moe is THE guy to go to for fantasy baseball advice” – I guess. I dunno, I just pay attention really, that’s it. I read different sources of information, I watch as many games as I can. I use the internet quite a bit to gather information on baseball players, because you know, I think it’s fun. I think I know more than the average bear about MLB, but that’s as far as I would go with it.

How does this all relate to MLB The Show ’12?

You can’t do that to me at 10 pm. I love building franchises in video games. Seriously, more so than playing the actual game, I enjoy building up a team from the ground up. And that’s exactly what Andy was doing, he was restarting with the Royals. Andy was entering a franchise fantasy draft, which is where you empty every single MLB roster and draft players snake style. It’s pretty awesome, one of my favorite modes in baseball games. You have to fill out the minor leagues too, and this is a full on, multi-season mode.

I know what some of you are probably saying seeing that list and seeing me go McCutchen. Let’s look over Andy’s entire roster and see what we were thinking.

Starting Pitchers

Strasburg- We both have an insane man crush on Strasburg. Who wouldn’t? The kid pumps gas at 96+ consistently and has two absolutely nasty offspeed pitches. His change is severely underrated and that slider/slurve…man, that’s just not right coming from a starter. Andy bought high on both he and Gio early. This kinda drives the point home about how talented the Washington Nationals are, if it needed to be driven home some more. Strasburg is the anchor of this particular rotation, and I don’t think any other superlatives need to be thrown his way.

Gio Gonzalez – In 2012 Gio is giving up 5.3 H/9. Let that sink in a bit. Then realize that he has an 11 K/9 rate. Yeah. The Nationals’ one-two punch in real life is what you would draft in a video game. And it’ll work. Gio is a solid #2 pitcher. He’ll never have the control to be an Ace, but that’s perfectly fine. #2’s are really, really good.

R.A. Dickey – Knuckleballers are hard to predict. Dickey is the last of them. There aren’t any Knuckleballers in the minors of note, I kind of think the pitch dies with Dickey. I can’t really say anything with confidence concerning the emerging Met’s Ace, so I’ll concentrate on the discussion surrounding him. I rarely watch PTI, but when I do I seem to catch them at their worst. It’s odd. I heard a snippet where Wilbon said A-Rod’s grand slam total should be taken into context because he played in the steroid era, when offense was really inflated. I would get that if he tied Frank Robinson for the record, he played in the pitching dominant 60’s. Rodriguez, however, tied Gehrig. As in Lou. As in Lou played in arguably the most offensive era in the history of baseball. That’s another discussion for another day. The most recent snippet applies to Dickey and his Cy Young chances. Now, it’s too early to say anything regarding the Cy Young, I get that. Wilbon however, said it’ll be tough for a knuckleballer to win the Cy Young because A. It’s never been done before, and B. Knuckleballers fade away as the season progresses, using Phil Niekro as an example. Now, there is a very real bias against the knuckleball, but it has very little to do with them fading away late in seasons. Niekro, when he was the runner up in 1969, posted a 2.16 ERA and a .92 WHIP in Sept./Oct. In fact, his lowest monthly ERA for his career is in…Sept./Oct. I don’t know where the fade away myth started, but I really think it’s false.

Lance Lynn – I think you’ll notice a theme here with Andy’s team. He likes to go young. Lynn is pitching lights out this year. I don’t look at Pitcher Wins, Lynn’s peripherals are strong this year. Good K/BB rate, solid WHIP, and he is suppressing hits. Lynn is hitting his ceiling now, and in the game I don’t expect him to be anything quite like he is IRL right now, but eventually when his stuff matures, it can be this good consistently.

Aroldis Chapman – Oh fuck yes. He’s built to pitch, long arms, long legs, strong shoulders. It shows with the 100+ fastball too. Velocity is out of this world, and his pitches still maintain decent movement on them. He’s a freak, he shouldn’t be closing games either. He’s a starter.

Dylan Bundy – I regret telling Andy about Bundy. He scooped him up in our keeper league and now he has a giant man crush on him. It’s warranted, he has legit stuff, but it’s pretty far away. Solid stash pick.

Mike Montgomery – This is how you know Andy is a White Sox fan. Mike is a solid Royals prospect, but he hasn’t found the stuff in AAA yet. That level is handing him his ass right now. It’s likely that he never finds it.

Filler

Matt Barnes
John Barbato
Omar Poveda
Zach Cates
Garrett Gould
Michael Ynoa
Shaeffer Hall
Jason Knapp
Jeff Locke

Meh, mainly organizational soldiers.

The Relievers

Joe Nathan – He just keeps on pumpin’ doesn’t he? Nathan, by all accounts, was done in 2011. Fast forward to 2012 and he’s got a .81 WHIP for Texas. Interesting pick for a franchise draft, I don’t see him sticking around too long, but typically what you do to make a closer is get a starter who wasn’t good enough and stick him in the slot. Heath Hembree – Whatever he did at AA Richmond he better start replicating at AAA Fresno. His K rate got slashed during the promotion, and he walks 4 guys per 9. He’s a solid prospect, but he needs to start missing bats again. Danys Baez – The rare reliever that doesn’t strike anyone out, walks people, and gives up tons of hits. He’s meat grinder fodder, likely to be sent down to Andy’s farm system.

Octavio Dotel – You know what Dotel’s business card should be?

That’s everyone he’s pitched for.

That just screams Professional Relief Pitcher.

Antonio Bastardo – His stuff is nasty, and it’s closer worthy. However, I usually don’t bet on guys with huge asses, and this guy has the biggest ass I’ve seen on a skinny guy in a long time. I actually do think he’s Carlos Marmol part duex, meaning that he’ll have high value for a while before all the wheels fall off and he’s done. Nathan-Dotel-Bastardo is a pretty solid end of the bullpen.

Tim Byrdak – Byrdak is another example of how random relief pitchers are. Since 2007 his WHIP has fluctuated wildly while his ERA has remained the same. Usually that means he’s a situational guy who comes in to face a few batters. Over the past two years, however, he’s posted the highest K/9 rates of his life at age 37/38. Random.

Tony Sipp – Sipp is a member of the “Bullpen Mafia” that annoys the shit out of me. Everyone wants to hop on that “WINdians” bandwagon. Fuck the Indians, they play in a wide open division and have a lot of talent, but for some reason they can never close the deal. Will they do it this year? It’s possible but I wouldn’t bet on it. They’re turning into the Royals a bit, where we keep waiting for them to do…something. Win, win the division, don’t choke away 5+ game leads. They were frauds last year and I think they’re big frauds this year. Tony Sipp can kiss my ass.

Louis Coleman – I have a soft spot for pitchers who miss both the bat and the plate. Coleman loves walking guys. He’s a solid option if Dotel should fail this year. The Royals play this game all the time. They tease with solid talent in the rotation, they lead give you hints of competing, then they lose 10 straight home games and fall completely on their face before June. I’m tired of picking anyone other than the Sox/Tigers to win the Central.

Filler

Tony Watson
Coty Woods
Fernando Nieve
Cory Burns
Jeremy Horst
Fernando Cabrera
Ervis Manzanillo
Michael Dunn
Bandon Gomes
J.R. Graham
Nate Jones
Chris Ray

Chris Ray and Nate Jones are interesting, but the attrition rate on RP’s is high…real high.

Outfield

LF:

Raul Ibanez
Brandon Short
Brendan Katin

CF:

McCutchen
Trout (LF)
Ryan LaMarre
Ryan Kalish
Tyson Gillies

RF:

Harper
Domonic Brown
Jarrod Dyson
Brett Carroll
Dave Sappelt
Mike Zuanich
Zoilo Almonte

Alright, we’re going to do this all as one unit because it was built with insane OF defense in mind. I would imagine that the permanent starting rotation of OFers is going to be Trout, McCutchen, and Harper. That’s three plus outfielders with plus speed running down balls that would normally be gappers. If I had it my way, I would start Trout in left, McCutchen in center, and Harper in right.

OF defense is severely misunderstood these days because we grew up in an era that didn’t care about it for so long. Know what made Ichiro’s defense so intriguing? That man could throw. Yeah, we expected the speed, we’ve seen speed throughout the 90’s. But a guy in right that can absolutely gun down suckers trying to go 1st to 3rd on him? It’s been a while. RF is typically where the best arms live. The guys with the best defensive IQ/Range play center, and left is typically where you stick your worst OF. Not on this team. Trouty doesn’t have the defensive IQ to play center yet, and it’s possible he never will. As it stands, however, he can still make up for his lack of know-how with raw speed. It’s sick to see him track down a ball.

That’s what the team is built around really, OF defense. It’s a rare gap-to-gap attack that can run down most anything. Given the flyball tendencies of the staff, I really like the concept. I can talk about how Domonic Brown never lived up to potential, or how Raul Ibanez can handle left while Andy waits for Trout to be ready, but seriously, it’s not necessary.

Infield

C:
Russell Martin
Brayan Pena
George Kottaras
Erik Kratz
Tyler LaTorre
Kevan Smith

1B:

Dunn
Rizzo
Xavier Scruggs
Ronald Guzman

2B:

Beckham
Tyler Bortnick
Tommy LaStella

3B:

Hanley Ramirez
Brett Lawrie
Will Middlebrooks
Ryan Rohlinger
Stepen King

SS:

Renteria
Hak-Ju Lee
Thomas Field
Edwin Maysonet
Pedro Florimon
Jiovanni Mier

The starters for year 1 should be:

C: Martin
1B: Dunn
2B: Beckham
3B: Lawrie
SS: Ramirez

Anthony Rizzo would be a compelling start at first, slotting Donkey to DH, but for now I think that the DH comes from a loaded OF. Will Middlebrooks  is likely to complicate the 3B position because he’s awesome. Legitimate power threat, he can play some OF, but there’s no room for him there. I figure you trade Brett Lawrie instead and roll dice with Middlebrooks. Gordon Beckham can probably go after the season too. His defense is stellar, but his bat is just sad at times.

If I were making the lineup:

  1. Mike Trout – LF – Has the speed to hit leadoff, but if he falls in love with the long ball he’s likely to add mass and thus, lose speed. For now, he’s got the on base skills to hit leadoff.
  2. Andrew McCutchen – CF – He can be anything he wants right now. He has a solid eye, but more importantly he has the power/speed combo that would be killer in the two slot.
  3. Adam Dunn – 1B/DH – Before 2011 he was an OBP/HR machine. He’s back to doing that in 2012, and it should work out well for Andy’s franchise.
  4. Bryce Harper – RF – The power is real, and his contact rate is better thus far than I expected. Kid can hit too. Decent speed, but not good enough to hit 2.
  5. Brett Lawrie – 3B – Lawrie has a lot of power potential, and he’s delivering on it. I love his bat.
  6. Hanley Ramirez – SS – His speed has left him a bit, and he’s starting to try and be a power hitter at the end of his pure athletic peak. Now’s the time to add good power to the repertoire, and I think he’ll like the 6 spot to his liking.
  7. Raul Ibanez – DH/OF- Really, just a place holder for Rizzo. If we assume Rizzo is up with the big club, I put Rizzo in for Ibanez and switch him and Hanley in the order.
  8. Russell Martin – C – Andy needs to upgrade the position. Martin was run into the ground during his LA days and was never the same since. Catcher workloads are already hellish, but they become ungodly when the manager expects you to go out there every day. Your body just can’t survive catching 140+ games.
  9. Gordon Beckham – 2B – Pass.
Advertisements
Comments
  1. Matthew Kohl says:

    I laughed for at least 45 seconds when I saw Dotel’s business card.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s