Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Organizing Minor Leagues during Spring Training

Here is the article jceffali was referring to in chat in regards to Minor Leagues. As always, excellent reads for all newbs (and some vets)!

Here are a few tips for newbies on organizing your minor leagues. Your goal is to have 5 viable teams that don't get overtired, and to develop prospects with potential.

Why is it important? To develop prospects properly you need to give them proper playing time, have them at proper positions, and give them orderly promotions. If they don't play enough or don't get promoted, then they won't develop. If they play too much and tire they are more likely to be injured and if you put them at the wrong position their defensive ratings won't grow properly.

Also, if you ignore your minors, you'll irk your fellow owners because it throws off the realism of the league.

To do list:

#1: Resign all of your minor league free agents. You'll need them and its easier then finding free agents

#2: Identify your key prospects. (The team depth chart under World Office: Reports is handy for this; sort by projected ratings) Who is projected to be major league quality or at least close? For a pitcher they should have a vs. R and control of at least 50, preferably 60. Like MLB, hitters are much more dependent on positions, if someone gets to recommended defensive levels at CF, 2B, SS, C, they can make the majors even with a weaker bat....but everyone else has to hit very well to make it.

#3: Promote key prospects. Development can be stunted by staying at the same level two years in a row, so if you see a potential future major leaguer, be sure he's not at the same level as last year.

#4: Check defensive positions. On your edit rosters page if you click on the defensive position (i.e. "2B") it will show you recommended fielding levels. Hit the "show recs (proj.)" button and save that. If your team wasn't well run, you'll have guys listed as SS and 2B who really have no business playing there. If I was taking on a new team I'd do this for everyone in my system, but at least do it for key prospects.

#5: Assign your "needing assignment" (resigned free agents) guys where it looks like they will be needed. See below for what is needed.

#6: Promote your "non-prospect" prospects a level if you need them at the level above.

#7: Clear out Rookie League if you need them at higher levels. Rookie League doesn't start 'til after the draft so you can empty out your roster down there if you need fillers.

#8: Sign minor league free agents to fill spots.

At the end, your goal should be to have the following:

AAA and AA: 1 per defensive position + 3-5 subs (at least 1 of those needs to be a C and 1 should be able to play SS). 13-15 pitchers, at least 5-6 should have stamina at 65 or so plus so they can start. This many players means you should start with a couple inactive players, who should be the weakest guys.

HiA and LoA: 1 per defensive position + 4-6 subs (especially C and infield). 14-17 pitchers. You should have 2-3 inactive pitchers at all'll need them during the year when your guys tire and get hurt. You need more guys at A ball since stamina is lower and injuries more frequent.

Any questions? Post them on the chat board or ask a veteran.

Spring Training Tips for Newbies

This is the article that jceffali was referring to in the chat. Excellent high-level understanding of how to handle Spring Training!

Spring training is a time to try out some new players, get used to the game, and give your prospects some work. It seems like every experienced owner handles this a bit different, but here is what I do:

Spring Training Roster: Go to Manager's Office: Player Settings: Spring Training Squads. You will automatically have your entire major league roster already. I suggest adding your best prospects (about 15-20 total though can vary) from AAA and AA, and maybe even a top-notch prospect from HiA. I don't tend to use my youngest prospects in ST, but that's just me.

Veteran Players: Apparently there is a penalty of some sort if veterans don't get used enough during spring training, so you want them to get some work. However, there is no benefit to working them full time, as they will tire needlessly and be exposed to injury risk. I usually put my veterans on rest after about 25-30 ABs or 3-5 pitching appearances.

Prospects: Give them as much work as you can, especially the ones with a lot of upside in projections.

Lineup Strategies: There are multiple ways to do this: One is to start with your veterans then put them on rest when they get enough work. Another is to edit manager settings so that it rests starters after 5 or 6 innings. Be sure to set pinch-hitters, defensive replacements, and player rest or it won't work correctly.

Pitching Strategies: Again, there are options. A lot of owners use tandem starters, which allows certainty that those two pitchers get in the game. Another option is to use a standard rotation but put the veterans on rest after they get work in and start prospects later on. In any case, after setting the pitching staff, adjust the player settings for pitch counts.

A Note on Rest: Pitchers get fatigued with every appearance, then gradually work back up to 100%. If your pitch count is above recommended levels they may not be back to 100% for their next start. Batters fatigue cumulatively over the season. If not rested they may stay at 100% for half a season and then start to gradually drop right when the penant race is hot. For that reason, try to give batters occasional rest all through the season. For batters, the durability rating is the driver. If its in the 90s, a player will need very little rest. If its in the 80s, the player may need to rest once a week to stay at 100%. If its in the 70s, even more rest is needed, and a platoon may even be best. Below 70 is certainly a platoon player.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

AL East Season 19 Team Previews

As I embark on this the 9th installment of the AL East Preview, I reflect back on the past seasons and try to remember the good times that has been my tenure in the Jersey League AL East. I have developed good rivalries with 2 of my fellow AL Easterners (larr100 and bball10), as well as a (hopefully) mutual respect for other AL teams (I still hate the AL West, but for respectful reasons). Here are your Season 19 AL East teams at a glance:

Wichita Wolves

Owner: awilley14 (1st Season)

Franchise History: (1,435-1,491, 6 Playoff Appearances, 6 Division Titles, 1 American League Championship)

Season 18 Recap:

Record: 35-127 (4th Place, 62 GB)

BA / OBP / SLG: .267 / .334 / .422

R / HR / RBI / SB: 774 / 176 / 756 / 151

ERA / WHIP / SO: 8.66 / 2.06 / 867

Fld % / CS %: .974 / .256

Napoleon D'Amico, SS (Free Agent from Kansas City)
Johnny McClain, SP (Free Agent from Norfolk)
Ira Harper, CF (Claimed Off Waivers from Trenton)
Rafael Navarro, LF (Claimed Off Waivers from Trenton)
Brent Maurer, C (Free Agent from Syracuse)
Vince Baker, RP (Claimed Off Waivers from Texas)
Eduardo Miranda, 2B (Free Agent from Ottawa)
Don Nady, RP (Rule V from Dover)
Darwin Stynes, RP (Rule V from Tacoma)
Caleb Hoes, 2B (Rule V from Houston)
Alex Johns, C (Claimed off Waivers from St. Louis)

Raymond Reese, RP (Free Agency)
Richard Withem, 1B/DH (Free Agency)
Frank Bates, 2B (Claimed Off Waivers)

UGH! Just 2 seasons ago, this team was a perennial contender for the AL East Crown. I was fortunate (sometimes lucky) to beat them out in the end. A good offensive club that seemed to lack just a piece or 2 on the pitching side, it seemed that it was only a matter of time before this team would be taking its turn in the postseason. But the disappearance of piratestros, plus the non-involvement of theo_epstein, and this team has fallen to the ranks of major rebuild in no time. New owner awilley14 (who isn't really that new, as he was in the league during Seasons 1-2 overseeing the current Norfolk franchise and took over for psanders club last season) has been busy, to say the least. On offense, this team still has some very formidable parts. Dan Blank and Osvaldo Montero return, and have a new supporting cast of support, led by the signing of D'Amico and Harper. On the pitching side, awilley14 made sure to bring back SP J.P. Henriquez in hopes of being competitive in the East. When all is said and done, I have no doubt that Wichita will improve on the 35 wins from last season. And, as active as awilley14 has been (and continues to be), it wouldn't surprise me to see this team back in the division hunt as early as next season.

Philadelphia Phillies

Owner: bball10 (10th Season, 568-890, 0 Playoff Appearances)

Franchise History: (1,207-1,709, 1 Playoff Appearance, 0 Division Titles)

Season 18 Recap:

Record: 58-104 (3rd Place, 39 GB)

BA / OBP / SLG: .260 / .324 / .420

R / HR / RBI / SB: 763 / 219 / 744 / 109

ERA / WHIP / SO: 5.48 / 1.54 / 1,043

Fld % / CS %: .975 / .299

Wayne Doyle, SS (Promoted from AAA)
Lucas Tanner, SP (Promoted from AAA)
Steven Ross, SP (Rule V from Houston)
Julio Matos, 3B (Promoted from AAA)
Julian Domingo, RP (Claimed Off Waivers from Richmond)
Kennie Jenkins, RP (Free Agency from Tucson)
Donn Fuller, RP (Free Agency from Helena)

Lew Runyan, RP (Free Agency)
Edgardo Santana, RP (Released/Retired)

I can see why bball10 was so anxious to see the AL East Preview for this year. The Youth Movement has arrived in Philly! After selling off most of the team the last 2 seasons, we are finally starting to see some of the talented youth that has been claimed via IFA and the draft over the last few seasons from this ball club. This is most noticeable on the offense, where Woody Ganzel is now joined by Matos and Doyle. Team that up with Aaron Dolan, and you have a very solid infield (offensively). On the pitching side, they focused on bullpen help in the free agent market. This team is young, cheap (under $42M with a $67M payroll budgeted, so you can expect another huge IFA signing this season), and the future looks promising for Philly. We will see if the youth movement will be enough to close the 39 game gap between them and Norfolk, but I know it won't make it worse.

Pittsburgh sluggers

Owner: larr100 (12th Season, 834-948, 2 Playoff Appearance, 2 Division Title)

Franchise History: 1,437-1,479, 5 Playoff Appearances, 3 Division Titles)

Season 18 Recap:

Record: 76-86 (2nd Place, 21 GB)

BA / OBP / SLG: .263 / .342 / .430

R / HR / RBI / SB: 833 / 214 / 802 / 114

ERA / WHIP / SO: 4.69 / 1.44 / 1,070

Fld % / CS %: .980 / .339

Alving Vazquez, 3B (Traded from Boise)
Jeromy Olmos, SS (Free Agent from Tampa Bay)
Steve Ruffin, C (Claimed off Waivers from Texas)
Ivy Mullaney, SP (Free Agent from Seattle)
Felipe Montero, CF (Free Agent from Boise)
Terry Perry, RP (Promoted from AAA)

Doc Cox, RP (Released)
Anthony Ducati, 1B (Released)
David Moreno, 3B (Released)
Al Perez, SS (Released)
Ryan Nicholas, C (Released)

I can't put my finger on why this team didn't do better than the record indicates. They still had the same team that won the division in Season 17. Statistically, they were about even (although ERA did jump up a little last season). That's what makes this game so loopy sometimes. You can be better than the season before, and end up lower in the standings. This team still has great pitching, led by All-Star Pedro Tavarez. They did become active on the offensive side, hoping to find the right combination of players to excel this team to the next level. After Tavarez, the pitching needs to step up in order to re-claim the top spot in the AL East.

Norfolk Phanatics

Owner: ratatat72 (12th Season, 908-854, 9 Playoff Appearances, 7 Division Titles)

Franchise History: (1,424-1,492, 11 Playoff Appearances, 9 Division Titles)

Season 18 Recap:

Record: 97-65 (1st Place, Lost to Iowa City in the Division Play-in Series, 3-2)

BA / OBP / SLG: .279 / .346 / .445

R / HR / RBI / SB: 893 / 227 / 869 / 192

ERA / WHIP / SO: 4.26 / 1.39 / 1,021

Fld % / CS %: .986 / .198

Brian Brown, 3B (Promoted from AAA)
Julio Martinez, 2B (Promoted from AAA)
Sam Bishop, RP (Free Agent from Scranton)
Rico Wilfredo, 1B/DH (Free Agent from Tucson)
Tony Alonso, SS (Free Agent from St. Louis)
Danys Veras, RP (Free Agent from St. Louis)

Johnny McClain, RP (Free Agency)
Mateo Flores, 3B (Free Agency)
Derek Hughes, 2B (Free Agency)
Ross Hart, LF (Free Agency)
Nick Shipley, RP (Free Agency)
Felipe Arroyo, RP (Free Agency)
Dion Hundley, 1B (Free Agency)
Gary Garcia, SP (Released)

After breaking a streak of 4 consecutive AL East crowns last season, Norfolk returned to claim the throne outright last season. And, in true fashion, they proceed to get manhandled by yet another AL West foe in the playoffs. After finishing with the best record in the regular season for this franchise, they left the season with a bitter taste in their mouth. The offseason wasn't too kind either, as the Phanatic faithful watched as many regulars had to depart due to contract demands. They got a bigger scare when ace Brett Henry declined his option and tested free agency. ratatat72 made priority #1 be the re-signing of Brett Henry. After that fell into place (a BIG sigh of relief was felt in the Virginia Bay area when that happened), they then turned to addressing other holes needed to be filled. Although no big deal was made (the signing of Wilfredo was the biggest offensive splash they invested), this team continues to plug-and-play in hopes to remain competitive for another season.