2005 Season

 

 

 

   2005 Season

Edition No. 5

April 5, 2005

 

Brethren:

 

          Saturday was another great day in the life of a Hot Stove Leaguer, Draft Day, the funnest day of the year.  For the record, it was the 21st overall HSL draft, and the 13th in our current twelve-team configuration.  It was our 2nd draft in the PHEB Washington Room, and the 19th in one law firm conference room or another.  And it was our first using Jim Edís high-tech, big-screen draft display. 

 

          As is customary with the first post-Draft Day issue of From the Bullpen, I give you now: 

 

Skipperís Annual Picks íN Pans

 

1.  SENATORS

Strength:

Pitching.  If all goes as expected, this is the top starting staff in the league, and if Gagne gets healthy, the top relief corps of all time.

 

Weakness:

Where to start:  Possibly one of the worst HSL outfields of all time, and third base and second base are also glaring weaknesses.

 

Top Pick:

Sosa in the 7th.  If Sammy has any pride at all, getting him this late will prove to be a steal. 

 

Biggest Gaffe: 

Roy Halliday in the 6th was probably about five rounds sooner than I needed to take him. 

 

Skip Sez:

The 2005 Senators do not seem likely to be the first HSL since the 1989 Tigers to repeat -- although with my usual adroit management and a little bit of that olí Itchie magic, anything is possible.  Iíd like to blame my lackluster Draft performance on SloPayís selection of Adam Dunn in the 1st -- which slacked a dozen jaws in the room and pretty much changed everyoneís Draft strategy, if not the course of world events -- but it was probably the pressure of drafting from the No. 1 hole that caused me to spit in my own mess kit.  As U-Bob has observed in the past:  Heavy is the head that wears the crown

 

Predicted

Order of

Finish:

8th. 

 

 

2.  REDBIRDS

Strength:

Outfield.  With Guerrero and Abreu, it is strong, and with Crawford, Crisp and Damon, deep. 

 

Weakness:

Starting pitching.  After Zambrano, lots of question marks. 

 

Top Pick:

Billy Wagner in the 7th.  If heís healthy all year, he could very well be the top closer in the league. 

 

Biggest Gaffe:

Chris Carpenter in the 5th.  Tirebiter loves his Cardinals a bit too much.  Carpenter probably would have lasted until at least the 9th or 10th round. 

 

Skip Sez:

This is a strong and balanced team.  If Greinke and Horatio can deliver as advertised, barring unusual injury problems, this team should be in contention for the title come September.  Could this be the year Tirebiter gets the monkey off his back?   Swami says yes.

 

POF:

1st.

 

 

3.  TIGERS

 

Strength:

Left-handed starting pitching. 

 

 

Weakness:

First base, lack of pitching depth.

 

 

Top Pick:

Alfonso Soriano in the 4th.  With Teixeira and Blalock batting behind him, Soriano should get lots of pitches to hit and score about 140 runs. 

 

 

Biggest Gaffe:

Taking both Santana (1) and Beltre (5) early after career-like years.  Doubtful that both will repeat.

 

 

Skip Sez:

Big Guy has a nice corps of stud starters in Santana, Beltran, Cabrera, Soriano, Beltre and Guillen, but an alarming lack of depth at almost every position.  One also has to wonder about taking Moises, Sweeney and Griffey in three consecutive rounds (10-12).  This could be a very painful trio to manage on the same team and in the same season. 

 

 

POF:

10th. 

 

 

 

 

4.  WAHOOS

 

Strength:

Starting pitching.  If RJ, Schilling and Burnett perform up to expectations, and if Millwood and Clement return to form, Possumís starting staff could be devastatingly good. 

 

 

Weakness:

Outfield.  Wow.  Maybe I didnít pick the worst outfield of all time.

 

 

Top Pick:

Jimenez in the 16th.  I have a feeling this is going to be his bust-out year. 

 

 

Biggest Gaffe:

Jim Thome in the 3rd.  You need to get over your infatuation with this guy, Possum.  Teixeira was the right pick. 

 

 

Skip Sez:

It will take a whole lot of connivery, double-talk, deception and sleight of hand for Possum to manage this drafted group into contention.  Unfortunately for the rest of us, he is just the man for the job. 

 

 

POF:

4th. 

 

 

 

 

5.  SKIPJACKS

 

Strength:

Starting pitching and infield corners. 

 

 

Weakness:

Outfield and middle infield. 

 

 

Top Pick:

Peavey in the 4th.  This guy might win the Cy.

 

 

Biggest Gaffe:

Bonds in the 6th.  But itís all the mediaís fault. 

 

 

Skip Sez:

Though on paper this team looks like the Weak Sisters of the Poor, we can expect Dr. Itchie to dispense enough snake oil to his team members to cure any ailments and invigorate them all to have career years.  With his renowned Itchie magic, you never count a Thielen-drafted team out.  Ever. 

 

 

POF:

3rd.

 

 

 

 

6.  REDS

 

Strength:

Hitting.  This team will score a lot of hitting points, at virtually every position. 

 

 

Weakness:

The quid pro quo of great hitting is usually weak pitching, and Magpieís team is no exception.  Unless Sheets can repeat and Webb and Pineiro can do complete about-faces, the Redsí starting pitching will be their Achillesí heal. 

 

 

Top Pick:

Durazo in the 12th.  This is the year Erubiel finally lives up to his press clippings. 

 

 

Biggest Gaffe:

Edmonds in the 4th.  This is the year that Jimmyís wheels start to fall off. 

 

 

Skip Sez:

Lots to like about this teamís every-day hitters, but probably not enough potential pitching points to get Tricko back up on the medal stand. 

 

 

POF:

5th

 

 

 

 

7.  CHIEFS

 

Strength:

Lots of starting pitchers whose last names begin with the letter M.

 

 

Weakness:

Relief pitching is as weak as B.T.ís late-round puns. 

 

 

Top Pick:

Getting Aramis in the 5th was a steal.

 

 

Biggest Gaffe:

Pedro in the 2nd.  As an overpaid Met, El Cooī-Kay, was not the 19th best player available.  Steinbrenner must have insisted on this one. 

 

 

Skip Sez:

In spite of (or is it ďbecause ofĒ) the combined brainpower of Screech and B.T., this team doesnít look like it has the horsepower to go the distance in 2005.  With some attention to detail on Sunday nights, the team could potentially finish as high as 3rd or 4th, but I think it is more likely that they will barely dip their toes into the Upper Division waters. 

 

 

POF:

6th

 

 

 

 

8.  BOMBERS

 

Strength:

Two top-notch closers and an outfield that is very strong and very deep. 

 

 

Weakness:

The infield is a virtual x-ray negative of the outfield, marginal and razor thin.  Average age of starting pitchers is equivalent to average age of HSL owners. 

 

 

Top Pick:

I love Carlos Lee in the 5th, but if heís healthy, I love Troy Percival in the 15th -- especially pitching for an improved Tiger team in pitcher-friendly Comerica Park -- even more. 

 

 

Biggest Gaffe:

 

 

Skip Sez:

On paper, this is Mouseís best team yet.  If he can make a few decent free agent selections during the year and avoid being hornswaggled by certain of his salivating co-owners, this could be the year that Mouse breaks the curse of the Bomberino.  At a minimum, they should finish in the top three.

 

 

POF:

2nd

 

 

 

 

9.  IRATES

 

Strength:

Infield has fewer holes than usual. 

 

 

Weakness:

Staff aces are Kelvim Escobar, Freddie Garcia, and Daniel Cabrera.  Need I say more? 

 

 

Top Pick:

Bobby Madritsch in the 17th.  He has budding superstar written all over him. 

 

 

Biggest Gaffe:

Kelvim Escobar in the 8th.  Is SloPayís hearing so bad that he thought somebody said it was the 28th round?  My, oh, my. 

 

 

Skip Sez:

As usual, SloPay took the road less traveled on Draft Day, listening to voices that no one else in the room could hear.  His selection of Adam Dunn in the first round threw the entire draft room into a tizzy, but judging by Possumís angry reaction and the fact that Dunn hit two home runs on Opening Day, maybe itís the rest of us who donít get it.  In any event, while SloPay mixed a number of savvy draft selection in with his usual clinkers, it looks like the Irates are heading south of the border for the 2005 season. 

 

 

POF:

12th. 

 

 

 

 

10.  BLUES

 

Strength:

Relief pitchers are an outstanding quartet. 

 

 

Weakness:

Severe power outage in the outfield, and very soft up the middle. 

 

 

Top Pick:

Vernon Wells in the 6th.  VW is poised for a huge comeback year. 

 

 

Biggest Gaffe:

Taking a singles hitter like Ichiro in the 1st over a power hitter or first tier pitcher was questionable, to say the least. 

 

 

Skip Sez:

Of course, I could be wrong -- it happened one other time -- but I donít see a lot of potential upside with this team.  While a finish anywhere in the Lower Division is possible, I think it is most likely that the Blues will be joining the Irate flock and migrating southward. 

 

 

POF:

11th

 

 

 

 

11.  CUBS*

 

Strength:

Rock-solid infield, strong and deep. 

 

 

Weakness:

Every single Cub* outfielder is either as old as Shamu or on at least as many medications. 

 

 

Top Pick:

I like Jeter in the 3rd and Kent in the 8th, but Dontrelle Willis in the 17th may be the best late pick of the Draft. 

 

 

Biggest Gaffe:

Delgado in the 2nd may have been a round or two early, but if he has a big comeback year, who cares? 

 

 

Skip Sez:

Shamu ended up with so many of the players that I wanted (Gonzo, Preston Wilson, Jeter, Huff, Kent, Hafner, Russ Ortiz, Willis) that Iím pretty sure he must have secretly secured a copy of my Draft strategy sheet.  This team has enough pitching, power, balance and experience to make a huge vault to contender status, but for now Iíll temper my prediction by forecasting a mini-vault to the top of the Lower Division. 

 

 

POF:

7th

 

 

 

 

12.  TRIBE

 

Strength:

Starting pitching.  With  Smoltz, Wood, Prior, Lowe, Sabathia, Wells and Lopez, this could be one of the best HSL staffs of all-time, if healthy.  If healthy.  If not, tune in to Paul Harvey for the rest of the story. 

 

 

Weakness:

The septet that makes up U-Bobís outfield may rival that of the Senators in terms of ugliness. 

 

 

Top Pick:

Prior in the 5th, Wood in the 6th.  In terms of bold moves, taking this duo in succession rivals the Bay of Pigs.  Hopefully, it will turn out better for U-Bob than for Kennedyís CIA operatives.  Huge risk, huge potential award.  Even if it doesnít pan out, I say Bully!

 

 

Biggest Gaffe:

See section above.  Just kidding.  Taking Pappy in the 1st round following a career year in which the Red Sox broke the curse simply has to be a bad idea. 

 

 

Skip Sez:

After 17 consecutive years of ignoring pitching, the light bulb over Underbellyís head finally has been energized, as evidenced by his selection of five pitchers in the first ten rounds.  While the 2005 Tribe probably doesnít have enough firepower to break into the ranks of the contenders, itís a good start. 

 

 

POF:

9th. 

 

 

          In summary, then, this is how I see the 2005 season shaking out: 

 

1.

Redbirds

2.

Bombers

3.

Skipjacks

4.

Wahoos

5.

Reds

6.

Chiefs

7.

Cubs*

8.

Senators

9.

Tribe

10.

Tigers

11.

Blues

12

Irates

 

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU

 

          Thank you all very kindly for turning over those beautiful Ben Franklins to me on Draft Day, which I graciously accept as my honorarium for devoting hundreds of hours of blood, sweat and tears to the 2004 campaign.  Of course, most of this goes directly to Art F/X to pay the sweatshop wages of Underbellyís third-shift jacket embroidery crew, but what the heck.  Itís the least I can do to help you all remember that magical 2004 season with me. 

 

          Many, many thanks also to the following individuals who helped make Draft Day 2005 possible: 

 

♦    To Tirebiter, for creating our high-tech Draft program.

♦    To Linda K, for our Draft chart and Draft forms, and everything else she does.

  To B.T., for the great eats from Big Fredís. 

   To Shamu and Stretch, for driving several hours to participate.

   To Big Guy, for keeping us all straight on the rules and the eligible Draft positions.

   To Itchie, for sharing his eminence with us for half a day, in spite of the great demand for his services elsewhere.

   To Possum and Magpie, for sitting next to each other at the Draft and pestering each other but not the rest of us. 

   To U-Bob and SloPay, for finally switching over to their bankís automatic withdrawal feature for their annual $100 contribution to the cause. 

  To Mouse, for skipping his Momís quintuple bypass surgery to make the Draft (April 4).

 

And finally:

 

   To Screech, for doing his best to keep a lid on B.T.ís bad puns. 

 

Seriously, boys, many thanks to each of you for again taking the time to prepare for and participate in this yearís Draft.  Iím truly thankful to be part of such a great group of friends with the strong common bond of baseball.  Muchas gracias, mi amigos. 

 

THE TRIP

 

          In our post-Draft visit to the Icehouse for more baseball talk and liquid refreshments, we discussed the very important topic of our 2005 HSL Trip.  With everyone having such busy summers scheduled already, the consensus seems to be that we should shoot for late August, or possibly even September, for this yearís trip.  It was also the consensus that we should probably settle for a Saturday/Sunday-only trip to Philadelphia, with plans next year to revert to the Friday-Sunday format.  With that in mind, do we have any volunteers to line up this yearís annual event?  Please let me know. 

 

OPENING DAY

 

          Together with my sons Joe and Will, B.T. and I ventured to Denver for an Opening Day game between the youthful Rockies and the up-and-coming Padres.  As usual, I drove and B.T. flew.  Huh? 

 

          The fun began by watching the Yankees-Red Sox game on Sunday at the Wynkoop Sports Bar in LoDo, just a block or two from Coors Field.  On Monday, we hooked up with long-time friend Larry Larson -- who joined us for our 1995 trip to Denver and Coors Field -- and enjoyed a 75į Mile-High day.  The pregame festivities in LoDo were abundant, and the crowd was giddy as it watched the Rockies come back from a 10-8 deficit in the bottom of the 9th against Itchieís star reliever, Trevor Hoffman.

 

          After the Rockies blew leads of 4-0 and 6-3, it appeared that the Rockiesí 2005 season would begin on a sour note.  Then, with two outs and a man on second in the bottom of the 9th, rookie Cory Sullivan made his major league debut (against Hoffman) by hitting an opposite field double that almost was a game-tying home run, bringing the Rockies to within 10-9.  This brought the Coors Field crowd to their feet.  Second-sacker Aaron Miles then got his fifth hit of the game, a single, to score Sullivan and tie the game.  With the crowd now whipped into a lather, rookie Clint Barnes then ripped a screaming, laser home run off Hoffman to give the Rockies a 12-10 victory.  Wow.  Now that was an Opening Day. 

 

          Since I forgot to take my Draft sheets with me to the baseball game, I couldnít remember which HSL team drafted Trevor Hoffman.  Likewise, as B.T. and I watched the scores of other games posted on the scoreboard at Coors Field, with a few exceptions, we werenít sure who was having a good day and who was not.  Naturally, when I saw in the newspaper the next morning that not only did the Skipjacks have Trevor Hoffman on their team but also Javier Vazquez and Livan Hernandez, I was deeply saddened for Brother Itchie, and immediately felt all of his pain.  Interesting that this magical Opening Day pitching trio, who went 0-and-3 and lost a boatload of points for the Skipjacks, were drafted in succession in rounds 8, 9 and 10. 

 

OTHER POST-OPENING DAY RUMINATIONS

 

          u As soon as Tirebiter asked whether Dmitri Young was still available in the 20th round, I knew I had committed a huge oversight.  Somehow, Dmitri did not make it onto any of my lists, but should have.  When healthy, heís a hitting machine, and with a vastly improved Tiger lineup all around him, he was a no-brainer pick.  His 3-bagger on Opening Day demonstrated this in spades.  Tough break about that minor-league status thing.  Youch!

 

          u Thank goodness Edgar Renteria wonít have to bat against the Big Unit more than a few times this season.   Not pretty. 

 

          u Mouse has to feel darned good about his 9th round Draft choice, Mark Buehrle.  After the nice season he had for me last year, I canít imagine why I didnít draft him and get credit for his Opening Day 2-hitter against the Indians. 

 

          u Okay, so maybe Adam Dunn really is a legitimate 1st round Draft choice.  Hitting a 3-run home run off Pedro in the bottom of the 1st and then a 2-run jack off Braden Looper in the bottom of the 9th to win it for Cincinnati is not a bad day at the park. 

 

          u Nice Mets debut by Pedro (12 Ks) and Beltran (3-for-4).  So maybe I was wrong. 

 

          u I knew I should have had that Jeremy Bonderman higher up my list.

 

          u I didnít know until Tuesday night that the powers-that-be at Bill James decided to put Halladay in my minors for his Opening Day start (a 7-inning gem, as you all know), robbing (yes, robbing) me of 215 points.  What is up with that?  My fifth round pick, and these geniuses thought he should be riding pine for the start of the season.  If I lose the championship by 20 points or less, litigation will follow, if not retribution. 

 

EPILOGUE

 

          It is good, oh so good, to have baseball and box scores once again.  With a world so full of uncertainty, itís nice to know what Iíll be doing for the next six months. 

 

          Good luck to all during the 2005 campaign. 

 

 

                                                                   Skipper

 

 

 

 

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