PLAYOFF PREVIEW, MLB
Baltimore and Monterrey face off in the best-of-five game Guinness Cup Series in the Continental League. The winner will face Cleveland of MLB in another best-of-five game series, this time taking place in London, England for the right to play in MLB next year.
Meanwhile, in MLB the playoff matchups are:
San Francisco (92-70) v. New York (110-52)
Los Angeles Angels (92-70) V. Atlanta (96-66)
Pittsburgh (93-69) v. Los Angeles Dodgers (93-69)
Brooklyn (108-54) v. St. Louis (90-73)
If I had to put money on it, I'd bet that MLB is hoping for a rematch of the seven-game thriller between New York Mets and Brooklyn that took place in 1997.
Meanwhile, you can expect that there will be a variety of changes in the Continental League going into next year, with MLB considering shortening the CL regular season and possibly expanding the CL playoffs to encourage more teams to "go for it" later in the season. Low attendance numbers for some teams has discouraged MLB from those cities and you can expect some changes in venue for some teams.
Meanwhile, the rousing success of Monterrey and Baltimore in the CL has MLB desperate to get back into that market. The O's drew over 1 million fans. By comparison, the Indians drew just 1.5 million for the entire major league season, while Monterrey drew just under a million for the year in total.
Ed note: The game has done a great job with modeling the attendance figures for what amounts to a Triple-A league. Teams are still playing in ballparks that befit their size in some cases, while others are still in MLB parks (White Sox, Orioles) and yet, we don't have any CL teams drawing more than MLB team, which is accurate. That said, Baltimore's 1 million would be a Triple-A record. Sacramento and Memphis are the only two real life Triple-A teams that have hit 900k+ in recent years.
BALTIMORE WIN GUINNESS CUP SERIES IN FIVE GAMES
October 1, 2001
Everyone expected a hard-fought series and that's exactly what they got, as the Baltimore Orioles fought off the Monterrey Matadors in five games to win the 2001 Guinness Cup Series.
The Orioles now travel to England to face the Cleveland Indians in the MLB Challenge Series.
"We're pumped," said Orioles Manager Vince Lawson, who is in his first year with the club after managing the Colorado Rockies last year.
The teams say that they're aware the conditions at Lord's are far different than anything in MLB currently, but that doesn't seem to bother O's cleanup hitter and first baseman Gene Holder.
"It doesn't matter. We've got to put up or shutup. This is our chance to prove we belong and we've got to take it."
Meanwhile, the Indians have already discussed with fans of the team who live in Europe, the chance to show up and support the ballclub.
Rookie third baseman Ben Fidge, an Australian who was born in London said that he's sad to be going to his birthplace under such dismal circumstances, but is happy to be playing there.
"I have mates who still live there and so, I can't wait to show off what I do. We're in the majors and they're not. So they have to prove that they want it, because we're not going to give it up easy."
The setup for the games will be Baltimore will be the home team for the first two, with Cleveland being the home team for two others if necessary.
Plans originally called to avoid the double-header format of the series, but in the end, the schedule was set for double-headers on Friday and Saturday, with Game 5 if necessary on Sunday.
"We want to make sure the conditions are fair for the players, but more importantly, we wanted to be sure that fans would come and enjoy the game and we felt doubleheaders were a great way to do that" said an MLB spokesman.
Games 1 & 2 start Friday at 1:15pm local time
MLB CHALLENGE SERIES: TEAMS SPLIT GAMES
October 5, 2001
A near capacity crowd of 29,795 saw the Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Indians split the first two games of the MLB Challenge Series.
The first game, the Orioles won 2-1, but the Indians came back in the 2nd game, mashing 13 hits and winning 9-4 to tie the series. Games 3&4 are tomorrow.
CHALLENGE SERIES GOES TO A DECISIVE GAME FIVE
The Indians won Game 3 of the MLBCS 5-0 on stellar pitching by Norberto Avila, and needed just one more win to retain their spot in MLB. But the Orioles weren't to be thwarted and won 4-1 in Game 4, to force a decisive Game 5 tomorrow here at Lord's.
The scene has been nothing short of spectacular. Fans have been energized and playing at Lord's has been exciting for players too.
"It's like playing at Fenway, but so much cooler. I could do this all the time," said Kiernan Black, pitcher for the Orioles and winner of Game 4.
The fear that there wouldn't be enough offense has been unfounded too, as playing in cricket ovals has resulted in less home run action, but still has produced upwards of 5 hits per team per game.
"I think people are too home run obsessed," said Indians manager Gerald Thompson. "This is baseball the way it's meant to be played. I told the guys that they're closer to the roots of the game now on a field like this, than anything they'd ever seen in the U.S.
Since there are no dugouts at Lord's the teams used makeshift benches taken from a local soccer club. The players were also asked not to spit sunflower seeds on the hallowed grounds at Lord's. The players were glad to oblige.
Game 5 will end this year's Challenge Series, but the excitement of the event overseas means that MLB will probably again look at this as a more permanent fixture for the event. Sunday is an off-day for the MLB playoffs, giving the Challenge Series the entire stage for U.S. fans to tune in to what their game is doing abroad in a place where people understand the concept of bat to ball, but where it takes an entirely different form.
ORIOLES WIN 5-4, MOVE TO THE MAJOR LEAGUES
In an extra inning thriller, the two teams combined for 21 hits and 9 runs, as the Orioles scored 2 runs in the 10th, to win 5-4. The Indians scored a run in the top half of the 10th to break a 3-3 tie that sent the game to extra frames, but in the end, the Orioles wanted it more and as a result, Baltimore is once again a major league city.
"This is great for our fans, they've supported us all year," said Orioles starting pitcher Jermaine West.
MLB announced that this year and in future years, the winner of the MLB Challenge Series will recieve the "Commissioner's Pin", which is quite honestly just a 'pin' that is awarded to the winning manager, who has a meet 'n greet with the winning manager, either to welcome him and his team formally to MLB or simply to congratulate them on another season in the majors and to wish them "good luck" onto a new year.
WORLD SERIES 2001: SUBWAY SERIES II
Last year, we had a hard fought series that saw Pittsburgh knock off Philadelphia in six games to win their first World Series title since 1974.
This year, the Subway Series is back. A rematch of the 1997 instant classic where the Mets won a seven-game battle against the Cyclones and this time, the two teams are back with the Mets having already finished with the best regular season record in history and the Cyclones winning a non-slouchlike 108 games.
In addition to the relegation of the Cleveland Indians to the Continental League, a few other changes will be announced and approved at the MLB owners meeting at the end of the post-season.
*Approval of the move of the Philadelphia Phillies to Montreal, Quebec*Approval of the move of the Boise Hawks to Vancouver, British Columbia
*Approval of the move of the Milwaukee Brewers to New Orleans, Louisiana.
Warm weather cities or domes. Not an accident, either.
MLB SEASON END REPORT
In other news, the New York Mets defeated the Brooklyn Cyclones in seven games to win the 2001 World Series.
YANKEES SEASON RECAP
Winning seasons are enough to get fans at least excited about the product on the field, but not good enough to do much else. Despite having one of the highest values in all of baseball, the team has taken to an approach of chasing after players who fit into the team's plans, rather than trying to build via free agency.
To that end, fans say that they are excited and yet, frustrated about what the team has been doing.
"We're trying to build a winner here and it takes time," said GM D.C. Daly, who is heading into his third year with the club.
He points to a retooled farm system that's the class of baseball and the fact that the team is investing heavily in recruiting players overseas. And Daly says, there is more to come.
The team plans to open a new $15 million baseball facility in the United Kingdom on the heels of a success MLB Challenge Series in that country, as well as the expansion of efforts to develop the game throughout Europe. Daly says, that sticking to the UK is an advantage that other teams have yet to realize.
"There is a culture for the game there. People might know everything about it, but it's a far cry to other countries where they've never seen it and have no links to it at all. We're also looking at other suitable markets around the world and will continue to grow the game and our system to acquire talent wherever it is."
All of this planning, Daly says, costs money.
"Trust me, they're not letting us do it for free."
So initial reports that the team plans not to do much in free agency this off-season were "greatly exaggerated," and Daly says that the Yanks will be an "active player as our fans would expect, to do whatever we can to improve this ballclub. I've been the most critical guy of this team all year, saying what we need to get better," but Boston fans are growing weary as they see a team that has failed to replicate the success of the team's early years when from 196-1976, the team won 3 World Series titles and made seven playoff appearances. Since then, the team's lone playoff appearance in 1995 resulted in a loss in the World Series.
"1995 rings in my ears as if I was here and I wasn't. We want fans to think of the future ahead of us," said Daly.
Rumors that the team is considering replacing hallowed Yankee Field by 2007 is also causing some rumblings, but the team has been mum about its plans to date.
In any case, the question of whether there is a bright future ahead for the Yankees remains to be seen on the field, because as we all know...you can play on paper all you want, but the only way we'll know anything is to see the proof in the pudding.
I think the revelation about how truly young our ballclub is, has sent me scouring the free agency market for players who are veterans.
I'd like to make the playoffs next year and I believe we have the right combination of young talent to do it, but we need guys to come in and help fill spots where necessary.
Looking around, there aren't tons of guys that I'm even interested in. We've made offers for Reginald Baxter (9 HR/102 RBI/.302 last season with Detroit), a 24-year old first baseman and Diego Rojas (.253/19/112 with Angels), a 2nd baseman who I think could help us.
Given the two are the cream of the offensive crop in terms of guys who played in MLB last season, we're likely to get outbid for both of them, as we're not going to get in a bidding war over them.
VORP IS USEFUL
You know, I find that VORP is actually an extremely useful tool in evaluating players statistically. I never imagined it would be and it's nothing I ever used until this season, but, it's extremely handy as ratings tend to correlate, but more important, statistical performance tends to be there. And that's the handiest part of all.
I once heard Joe Morgan (ok, cringe if you hate him..) say on a telecast that he believed that teams had to win within the window that they have and that dealing prospects is part of that. That it'd be nice to watch a guy develop, but sometimes you don't have the luxury of being able to do that.
I look at my current situation and think the same thing. We need proven veterans to help us fill out a roster that won 80+ games with a bunch of kids and with key injuries to guys who are sparkplugs for us.
But I always have a hard time making big deals like that, not so much because I have a hard time dealing with prospects that develop for someone else five years down the line, as much as I always wonder "what if?" and try to hold out with such deals.
But honestly, we've got such a glut of guys right now that I can't even keep all of them if I wanted to, because they'll never play.
It doesn't mean that it's not hard for me to do sometimes.
November 30, 2001
Signed C Manny Lopez to a four-year deal worth $31.9 million. He hit .257 last year with 11 HR and 60 RBI for San Jose and while that amount of money might seem excessive for who should amount to a backup catcher, last season's situation where we essentially got hammered for half the season when our starting catcher went down, we decided that it wasn't worth taking a chance again with a guy who has already proven himself to be more than a little injury prone.
Lorenzo Negron (13-13, 3.60 ERA 193 K in 35 starts with Columbus last year), a 32-year old starting pitcher. We offered him a 4-year deal worth $43.4 million. New York Bombers countered our offer and it doesn't seem likely we'll match. The Bombers signed him to a 4-year deal worth $62.4 million.
Reginald Baxter is a simialr case. We offered him a 4-year deal worth $65.7 million, but a counter offer he received took us out of the mix. The Comets inked him to a 5-year deal worth just over $79 million.
It seems the New York Bombers are responding to the success of the Mets with their own attack to find top talent. They've already signed three top free agents this off-season. "They're really remaking themselves in an already extremely tough division. It'll be intriguing to see what happens to them," said one sportswriter from New York.
But taking a look at the Yankees roster heading into Christmas, the offensive side of the house returns two 30-home guys in catcherVic Ross, who was out for six weeks and outfielder M.A. Charbonneau. So if new acquisition Jae Butler can hold up his end of the bargain upon his return to MLB and first baseman AndreW Cooper is in similar form as last year, but with fewer strikeouts (.256/26 HR/91 RBI/134 strikeouts), the old boys from Boston will be in good shape.
But some Yankees fans are disappointed with the team's approach this off-season.
"It's almost January and our best deal was to get a washed up guy from AAAA and we overpaid for a backup catcher. Is that the best D.C. Daly can do?" was the refrain from a popular sports radio talk show this week.
Daly had no comment, except to say that "we're working hard and the off-season isn't over yet."
With the powers of the Eastern Division already present, it's going to be hard work for the Yankees to break in without making some tough choices regarding who to sign.
LOS ANGELES EMPIRES TO MOVE TO SACRAMENTO
[b]With a MLB team now playing in Riverside, the Los Angeles Empires opted against giving it another go in the LA Metro area and announced the team will be acquired by a Sacramento, CA based group who will relocate the Continental League team for the 2002 season.
From today (12/21/01) on, I've turned off ratings and I'm just using stats, stars and "other ratings" as my evaluation tools. I've never tried it and I think it'll be a nice way to create a "fog of war" without making it completely unenjoyable. So we'll see how it goes.
I've just caught up. Very interesting read. I'll be following along...
Here's our roster as of the end of December, 2001:
Here are the pitching stats from last season:
Here's the stats on Manuel Mateo, a rfghtfielder that we've made an offer on. He'd be our biggest free agent signing of the off-season and likely, the only offer we're intending to make.
We had to counteroffer after the Bombers made an offer and he's yet to get back to us, so we'll see....the salaries are roughly real world in the current universe and so, based on that, I wonder what you'd pay for a guy putting up these kinds of numbers.
Nevermind, we were outbid by a lot. Our last offer was for 6-year/$126 million. No way I would've touched this number.
This is probably the main reason why OOTP2007 was my favorite of the series. It really reminds me of my experiment that I was running in the spring called "the world".
I like the previews to the big games, the newspaper style previews that show top players and pitchers for the series. I find myself gravitating to the Challenge Series much more than the World Series.
The idea of a relegation system for baseball is cool, and you didn't go overboard with it. Enough to talk about it, but not so much that it becomes the focal point of the season.
How are the clubs at the various levels doing financially? And how are you deciding how and when to move teams or to contract them altogether?
Keep it up.
FINANCIAL SYSTEM INFORMATION
As you might have noticed, the promised lower division that would be below the Continental League never materialized. I started to do it and I decided that 32 teams in the majors and 12 in the lower division were enough. I'd be far more inclined to contract from MLB than I would be to add more teams at either level right now.
IN MLB, I have teams making $125m per year in media money. In all of my 07 dynasties, I've modeled the financials in such a way to combined ALL the media money from national tv and radio, internet and other licensing to come up with a number that works for me. In addition, I've taken to give the big city teams a "deep pocketed owner" bonus which rewards them with more cash. It's totally arbitrary with the New York and Dodgers doing better than say, the Angels or the Chicago Comets and the Cubs -- though not owned by Tribune in this dynasty -- getting a bump too because of the power of their brand.
That all being said, the team budgets are pretty close to parity, which I like, without making it like the NFL where talent has little to do with it, but it's plausible that teams can be bad one year and be good in a few more if they play their cards right and it doesn't require overspending.
The Mets have the highest "budget" in MLB at $248 million and the newly promoted Orioles the lowest at $184 million.
In the Continental League, the salary cap was $32.5 million last year and it'll be $35 million this year. There is a cash maximum of $5 million that went to $10 million this year and that keeps things pretty even and mostly it prevents them from going out and signing some guy to ridiculous contracts. The highest paid players in the Continental League are guys who'd probably be 4th or 5th outfielders in MLB. It didn't start that way, but with teams like mine -- and PC teams -- wise enough to know that there is talent down there worth raiding and so, that league turns into a place where teams send not quite ripe prospects to get better.
Meanwhile, there remains a team or two that hold on to veterans that they got in earlier years in an attempt to make it up to the big show. Tampa's a team to watch this year and MLB certainly has the teams that it's sitting on pins and needless to watch, as there are markets that are desirable in that league that would be suitable in the majors, too.
As far as choices to move/contract, the team moves in the Continental League are driven by attendance and market size. You could see a scenario where say, a team in the Continental League with a brand that's got some cache (say, the Chicago White Sox) spend too much time in the CL, could 'sell' their brand and market rights to a team that's promoted.
So for instance, would MLB rather have a third team in Chicago again or one team in Richmond? I have no idea what that determination would be, but I can see that scenario coming down the pipe someday.
I would like to concoct a future where say, a team from Toledo or Rochester or Sarnia could make it from the 4th division to the Major Leagues on pure grit, determination and all of that crap. But....we're not there yet, I don't think. And I'm not 100% sure this dynasty will ever get there.
But it is something I'd like to see maybe.
CONTRACTION COULD BE COMING
February 10, 2002
Major League Baseball officials have been rumbling about an idea that would change the game even more than it's already been changed. Some owners are privately grumbling about the idea that some teams are just taking and taking the revenue checks from the media money that MLB teams get, versus the ones that are actually competing for a championship.
Some owners are pushing for a plan that would demote up to six teams by 2005, based on their win percentage over a three year period starting this year.
That said, no agreement has been reached to make this happen.
"It'd be a radical move, but it would at the same time serve as a mechanism for improving play at the Continental League level," said one baseball observer.
2002 SEASON PREVIEW
The off-season for the Boston Yankees hasn't been as dramatic this year as it's been in past seasons. We're basically bringing back a lot of the same cast of characters going into this year and the reason for it is simple. With such a young team, I need another year (at least) to see how some of these guys break out and how well they respond to being in the majors. As a result, I wanted to just give it a bit of time before going any further with it.
Here are the payroll breakdowns as of March 2002:
Here are the highest paid players in MLB:
Here are the Continental League payroll figures:
Here are the highest paid players in the Continental League:
I made two deals in March and both were a consideration of the fact that 1) they were overpaid and 2) I had guys who I felt would be more productive this year and so, it was a little difficult to do since I just acquired them both last year, but I dealt them in separate trades.
Brennan Atkins, you might remember came over in a deal from the Chicago White Sox last year before they got relegated. We sent him back there for a reliever and a prospect.
Dealing Japanese upstart Toki Endo was a bit more challenging, as we had to eat about $5 million of his salary to get Salt Lake City to take him. Also going in this deal was Andrew Cooper, who is a fan favourite and a player I had high hopes for. But Dan Warren is the same age, hit more homers last year (35) and RBI (109) and has hit .300 in both of his full major league seasons, while Cooper has the potential to do that as a homerun hitter (26 HR/91 RBI last year) but only hit .256 last year and well, given the woeful status of our offense last year, I felt that the guy with the more demonstrated pop might be a better acquisition and so, I pulled the trigger.
Mino Nishikawa starts the year as the full-timer at 2nd base this year after playing in 55 games last year and hitting .271, he had 16 steals in 20 attempts and is the leadoff man to begin the year.
Mike Ryan came over in the deal from the Chicago Comets for Tom Keough and will hopefully provide some pop in the lineup for the Yanks in the #2 hole. He hit 12 HR and 76 RBI last year on .317 average.
Newly acquired first baseman Dan Warren comes to town with high expectations after replacing the popular Andrew Cooper, but with 40 HR potential from his bat, the fans might warm up to him pretty quickly.
M.A. Charbonneau plays from the DH position, where he hopes to improve on 31 HR and 102 RBI last year.
Vic Ross will hope to have a healthier year than last year at the catcher spot. Despite the injury, he hit 34 HR and .313 average in just 352 at-bats.
Jae Butler comes over from the Continental League and is likely the biggest wild card on the ballclub, as many wonder how many of those 26 HR and 102 RBI he hit last year in the CL will translate to the majors. He's the guy we're watching most to see if he can keep his starting position all year.
Miguel Martinez bats eighth and mans right field. He hit .269 with 13 HR and 86 RBI last year for the Yanks.
Batting ninth is Michael Warren is a highly touted 20-year old who already has half a season in the majors under his belt. After hitting just .234 last year in 235 ABs, the Yanks area hoping a whole season at the post will give him the confidence to reach his full potential.
On the pitching side of the house, the Yankees again trot out a gang of youngsters by and large.
The lone veteran of the staff is 31-year old Paul Harden who came over from Durham at mid-season last year and went 6-5, with a 3.94 ERA in 15 starts with the Yanks.
While there is no definitive ace on the squad, the team is hoping that left-handed youngsters Alvaro Vega (8-6, 1.99), Ralph Oliver (15-8, 3.86) and Luis Manuel Morales (11-9, 4.14) can turn the league on its head as they've all had a year of major league experience under their belt. Rounding out the rotation is Jeremy Thompson who went 2-10 with a 6.11 ERA in 19 starts after entering the rotation last year, but the club is hoping he can turn it around this year.
Closer Francisco Ortiz is in the last year of his deal after going 8-7 with 35 saves last year.
The Yanks freed up enough salary in the deals to move Atkins and Endo that if they need to make a deal or two at the deadline, that we can make that happen. We still have ample prospects to do that, too.
Speaking of top prospects, I'll review who we have on the farm next.
Baseball America's list of top Boston Yankees prospects was released. Here are some of the highlights:
SS Vin Reilly
The 18-year old Aussie shortstop was the third round pick of the Yankees in the 2000 draft. He projects as a great fielder with utility potential, who can hit for contact and power. He's the whole package and his teammates have nicknamed him "Vin Diesel." He's still got a few years before he could make an impact at the major league level, though. He's on the major league roster as of this season, but he doesn't fact to get lots of time to show his stuff and will likely go back and forth between minor league Long Beach Island and Boston.
C Chris Elliott
19-year catcher from Georgia was signed a minor league free agent. Has excellent catching skills and has the potential to be a solid hitter at the big league level. Still a few years away. Projected ML Debut: 2005
OF Antonio Medina
Signed as a 15-year old free agent out of Chile, Medina could be the first Chilean to make the majors dsomeday. He's got excellent speed on the basepaths, but still needs to learn how to hit a curveball. Has fantastic upside, though. ML Debut: 2007
Second baseman from Indianapolis is a sure-handed fielder who was picked in the 7th round of the draft. Has the ability to be a solid hitter, but still needs a lot of seasoning before he'll be a factor at Yankee Field. ML Debut: 2006
SP Saku Kawano
Japanese starting pitcher acquired as a free agent. At 17, he's already looking like a complete package, with strong control and effective movement off the plate. This is his first season of ball in the U.S., so it'll be interesting to see how he adjusts. Could be transitioned to the bullpen at some point in his career. ML Debut: 2006
JUNE 1, 2002 STANDINGS
Near mid-season, the relegation zone is full of teams that are playing for their major league lives. Meanwhile, the Yankees lead the Eastern Division and trying to stay atop the division to capture their first Eastern Division title since 1995.
Meanwhile, Tampa is leading the Continental League East, with Cleveland and Durham not too far behind. In the West, Nevada is looking to their first playoff appearance ever, with the entire division less than seven games behind.
YANKS ANNOUNCE PLANS FOR A NEW STADIUM
BOSTON -- Riding the wave of their current first place standing, the Boston Yankees unveiled plans today for a brand new ballpark in South Boston to replace aging Yankee Field at Fenway Park.
The grandstand of the new ballpark will be a modern interpretation of the old South End Grounds (http://www.ballparks.com/baseball/national/sthend.htm)
The new $676 million ballpark on the Boston Harbor will be completed by the 2006 season and will have dimensions that take some of the elements of Fenway (the new park will have a green monster) while incorporating newer features, as well.
The controversy over whether the team should move has been scuttled since the ownership of the Yankees will be footing the bill for the ballpark, with the exception of $120 million in tax abatements given to the team by the city for the land around the harbor, but that will be paid for in taxes by the new hotel and convention center developments that are expected to be built near the ballpark.
The as-of-yet named park will seat an estimated 51000 fans.
WHAT THE DIFFERENCE?
The 2002 Yankees are three seasons removed from the 2000 club that was the worst team in franchise history. What's the difference? Well, it starts with a few distinctions.
First, the team's 3.54 ERA is the best team ERA in baseball and the team is top 5 in most major pitching category, except for home runs allowed (10th in MLB)
On the offensive side, the team has become more electric than ever. The Yanks are 3rd in slugging percentage (.473), 2 in team home runs (98) and 3rd in runs scored (393).
Jeremy Thompson has emerged as the ace of the staff, going 9-2 so far this season with a 2.87, already exceeding his career win total (8) this season. Not to be outdone, Paul Harden and Ralph Oliver are 2nd on the team in wins with 8.
Offensively, Mike Ryan leads the team with a .343 batting average this season. While M.A. Charbonneau leads the team with 23 homers, 2nd most in MLB behind former Yankees slugger Andrew Cooper who is now in Salt Lake City. The guy he was traded for Dan Warren has 17 HR and a team leading 63 RBI this season, just three behind the major league lead.
So the bottom line is, so far it seems that the Yanks are firing on all cylinders and that's helping the team achieve success that it's not seen in recent years.
The question is, can they sustain it for an entire year?
This deal achieved two things for us. It gave us a veteran arm that we could keep around as insurance and it replaced an underperforming player with a guy who is not only a future Hall of Famer, but who is a gamer and a great influence in the clubhouse.
Spencer Jacobs is 36 years old and has spent his whole career in San Francisco. He's got 3,087 career hits, 576 career home runs and a career .313 hitter.
When the deal was announced, Jacobs said it was hard for to make the move, but "I knew in the end that this was better for the Giants, because it gave them some young guys that they could build with.
The three players they got in return, Scott Jacobs is likely to be the team's new shortstop and Jesus Saucedo will go from Boston's bullpen to the Giants rotation, as the team hopes to stave off a trip to the Challenge Series with less than half the season to go.
This deal not only saved us some money (Serrano makes less than Ryan), but Baty was accustomed to starting and wasn't as effective for us in relief for the brief time he was here. Serrano is obviously a huge upgrade at third base offensively and since today was the deadline and he became available to us, I thought it made sense to try to bolster the club heading into the final stretch of the year. We'll see if it pays off...
I was curious what teams in MLB had never made the playoffs or had long World Series droughts.
Here are the results of that 'research'.
* Only three teams have never made the playoffs. Riverside, which joined the league in 2001, Salt Lake City, which was promoted in 2001 and Baltimore, which came from the CL last year.
*Of the founding clubs (1969), the fewest playoff appearance is five. Florida, Texas and the LA Dodgers have this distinction. None of the three have won a World Series.
* The Kansas City Royals and Chicago Cubs have the most playoff appearances at 18 each. The Cubs have 2 World Series titles, the Royals 1.
*San Antonio, which joined MLB in 1980 as an expansion team has 10 playoff appearances and 5 World Series titles, the most titles of any team. The New York Mets have 4 World Series titles, the most of any founding club.
New York Bombers (1992)
San Antonio (1995)
San Diego (1991)
MAJOR LEAGUE STANDINGS
September 1, 2002
CHALLENGE SERIES STANDINGS
September 1, 2002
While not exactly a pennant race by traditional standards, the race for the Continental League playoffs
are heating up and it's the first time that entering September that we haven't seen one team completely
running away with both divisions. In the east, Richmond and Montreal are deadlocked, with Tampa not far behind.
In the West, defending West champs Monterrey are looking for a return trip to the Guinness Cup Series, with the White Sox
battling for a shot to regain their major league glory, sitting 4 games back with less than a month to go.
CONTINENTAL LEAGUE STANDINGS
BERLIN, GERMANY TO HOST 2002 MLB CHALLENGE SERIES
The Berlin Olympiastadion will play host to the 2002 MLB Challenge Series. Last year's was held at historic Lord's Cricket Oval in London, before sellout
crowds each of the three days of the event. This year, the event travels to mainland Europe to a site that's actually played host to baseball before. In 1936 during the Berlin Olympics, the Olympiastadion played host to the largest attended baseball game in history - believed to be over 100,000 fans. While no one is expecting such record crowds for this year's event, the anticipation of baseball's return to Germany excites both Germans and Americans stationed abroad with the U.S. military.
"We're thrilled man. Even if it is a matchup between a team that's bad and another one, it's still baseball," said Capt. John Henry of the U.S. Army. MLB has already announced that it will give away nearly 10,000 tickets over the Series to soliders wanting to attend and their families.
"Some dads stationed there never get a chance to take their sons and daughters to a baseball game. We'd love to be able to do our best to make that experience happen," said MLB spokesman Jacob Mitters.
(As of September 1, 2002)
CONTINENTAL LEAGUE ATTENDANCE
(As of September 1, 2002)
SEEMINGLY SAFE FROM RELEGATION, BEES SEEK TO MOVE
Salt Lake City is a great place to raise a family, says Bees owner R.J. Covenant, it is not however, a lucrative locale for a major league baseball team. Saddled with debts from the team's unlikely ascent from family friendly baseball club in the Continental League to Major League franchise, the Bees have defied the odds and look to be spending another season in the majors despite their 2nd losing season as a major league club. Covenant has placed the ballclub on the market, hoping to cash in on an investment that was just $15 million in 1996 when he became a majority partner in a fledging minor league team that at the time was in a league that MLB had no intention of "promoting" to major league status. Or at least, so he believed.
"I never saw this as a chance to get us into the big leagues. Our guys have just played so well and well, when that happens, history happens and that's why we have a major league team in Salt Lake." But fans of the ballclub have apparently grown weary of the novelty of a major league club or maybe it's just a losing one. In any case, the team plays in the smallest venue in the majors -- Franklin Covey Field -- has a capacity of 29,500 and that's only because the team put bleachers in last year when they moved to the majors, giving them an extra 10,000 seats, but it's not cozy and most players feel the park is woefully minor league. And Covenant has said he's reluctant to pour more money into the club -- despite turning profits of over $100 million last year (due to the windfall of media money he got when the team made the majors) because he doesn't know how long they'll be in the majors.
Several owners have stepped forward and all of them have expressed an interest to move the club elsewhere. Covenant has been hushed as to where these locales might be, but some observers say the team could announce a move as early as the end of the World Series.
"They've got a nice core in place, so it'd be an attractive team for a city without a whole lot of distractions that would support major league baseball. There aren't a ton of those places out there, especially in today's landscape, let alone one with a stadium already ready for a new team, but, crazier things have happened," said A.J. West, of the Denver Chronicle.
OTHER CL NEWS
Meanwhile, the Durham Bulls will be moving to Charlotte next season and will become the Charlotte Knights. Team officials felt the team would do better in a metropolitan area and that with a growing city to draw from, the owners say this is "a move that will ensure that the Carolinas will someday have a team of their own in the majors."
In a surprising move, the New Orleans Zephyrs announced they will leave New Orleans after just one season in the Crescent City. Attendance for the last place Zephyrs wasn't what the team had hoped for when it relocated from Milwaukee last year and the team says it will be relocating to Newark, New Jersey.
The city is just completing a brand new stadium on the Passaic River and the team believes that its proximity to mass transit and being a stone's throw from New York City will be a boon to the fledging franchise. It'll mark the first time the NYC metro area has supported more than three major league teams in the modern era.
MLB ANNOUNCES MAJOR REALIGNMENT IN THE CONTINENTAL LEAGUE
On the eve of the Guinness Cup Series, MLB has decided for the first time to expand its junior circuit by six teams next year. This massive expansion represents a huge shot in the arm for the Continental League, which since its first season in 1996 has provided "a major league experience to cities across America," according to the MLB web site.
No discussion on an alignment for the CL after this year's expansion has been discussed.
The new cities are Nashville, Hartford, Milwaukee, Omaha, Orlando and Albuquerque.
MLB implemented a new rule that can give the league the right to reject the winner of the Challenge Series if that city doesn't have a stadium that meets minimum guidelines set by MLB. This is to prevent a situation like in Salt Lake City when the team was promoted without an "adaquate" facility by MLB and MLBPA approval.
The parameters for how this would happen seem hazy at best, but the rule seems brought on by the worry of the players union that Monterrey might win the Challenge Series and that players would be forced to spend an entire MLB season there.
While there have been no incidents in the city deems Mexico's "safest" since the Matadors arrived in 1996, some are said to be "wary" about having to play there a full year.
No official comments have been made regarding these fear, however.
September 16, 2002
In terms of pennant races worth monitoring, there are only a few left as the season draws to a close with just a week left.
In the Eastern Division, the Boston Yankees and Brooklyn Cyclones are duking it out for supremacy, with the Cyclones losing 2 of three against the Yanks in their four game set this weekend. There is one game left tonight and then the Yankees finish their year against the Toronto Blue Sox. If the Yanks are the #1 seed, they'll face off against the final seed in the playoff race.
That's a battle between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals who are deadlocked at 86-72 with four games to go. If the Yanks are the #5 seed, they'll play the Cincinnati Reds, who clinched the National Division and are 90-68, the worst record of the four division leaders.
Meanwhile in the Continental League, Monterrey has already clinched their 2nd straight West Division title, but in the east, there is a battle between the Richmond Braves and the Montreal Expos. The Braves are a game ahead of the Expos, with three games left in the regular season.
September 17, 2002
With a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Sox, the Boston Yankees clinched their first 100-win season since 1976 when the team won its last World Series.
With the Cyclones 3-1 defeat at the hands of the New York Bombers, the Yankees have a 1 game lead in the Eastern Division with two games to go. If they win today, they'll clinch a tie for the division title and even if they lose the day after, they'll still win the Division Championship because they've won the season series against Brooklyn 10-3.
"It's a nice turn of events," said Yankees GM D.C. Daly, who said he had a vision for the ballclub three years ago when he took over and they had the worst record in baseball. Now, they're preparing to head to their first post-season since 1995 as the #2 seed (Ed note: I misspoke earlier. Chicago is the #1 seed).
The Eastern Division will be home to three of the four wild card teams no matter what happens in the divisional race, as all three New York teams (Bombers, Mets, Cyclones) will advance out of the East, with the battle for the final spot being captured by St. Louis, who edged out the Dodgers by at least 1 game in the end.
FINAL 2002 STANDINGS
WORLD SERIES QUARTERFINALS (BEST-OF-FIVE)
Wow, well this is a far cry from the past few years when I would just sim through the playoffs since my team wasn't involved.
I think I built this team for the playoffs and now, we'll just have to see if the theory I've put together holds up.
We have quite possibly the meanest middle of the order you'd ever hope to see in Ricardo Serrano (37 HR/124 RBI/.340), Dan Warren(.310/47 HR/146 RBI) and Vic Ross (.260/48/113)
When you consider that only Ross was with us last year, it tells me my pursuit to upgrade the roster was a wise one, even if Andrew Cooper (who I dealt to Salt Lake for Warren) led the majors in home runs this year with 54. I submit that wasn't as much about his pure talent, as much as that bandbox they play in Salt Lake City. He hit 31 HRs at home and only 23 on the road and his batting average was about 45 points higher at home than on the road. We'll just say the trade worked out for both teams, we're going to the playoffs and they're not.
But back to the Yanks roster.
In terms of our pitching staff, we've got two 20-game winners in Alvaro Vega (20-9, 3.20) and Jeremy Thompson (21-5, 3.72), Ralph Oliver (19-7, 3.20) and Luis Manuel Morales (15-8, 4.08) weren't slouches either.
Coupled with Franciso Ortiz and his 42 saves this year, I think we're in good shape.
The real question will be whether the guys show up or not. In terms of playoff experience, we have just three pitchers with post-season experience and among them, only late season acquisition Jose Portillo as any real sizable experience. Portillo, 40, played on the bulk of those San Antonio Aviators squads in the 90s that dominated baseball. In 23 playoff starts, he's 9-10 with a 3.32 ERA. Having him on the roster during this time of year should be a boon from a maturity perspective for our young ballclub.
On the offensive side, Spencer Jacobs plays the same role that Portillo does on the defense. In 52 career playoff games, he's got 14 HRs, 49 RBI and is hitting .355. I hope he can be a shell of himself in this playoffs. Ricardo Serrano is another one that came over in the Aviators deal and has a career .373 average in 39 playoff games. Besides that, there are just a few other guys with some sparse at-bats at the postseason level.
So we're not completely devoid of experience, but...it'll be interesting to see how it goes this year.
New York comes to town with a roster the opposite of ours. Experience flows through this ballclub.
They're led by one of my favorite players in the game who doesn't play for me Bobby Stewart. He's a 25-year old lefty who plays right field. 2002 was home to his second straight 40 home run season (40 HR/133 RBI) and he hit .284 for the Bombers. They live and die by him.
First baseman Zi Gui is in his first year in New York after being dealt from the Dodgers in the off-season and he's a star. He hit 22 HR and 114 RBI this season.
One weakness that New York has, it strikes out a lot. Five guys in their lineup struck out 110+ times this year. That's a weakness we hope to exploit.
On the pitching side of the house, their rotation is anchored by free agent signee Lorenzeo Negron who came over from Columbus after signing a four-year deal worth $62 million over the off-season. He's paid off so far, going 21-10 this year with a 3.26 ERA.
He was the only guy they had who won more than 15 games. Dave Watson is a 21-year old hurler from Chicago who is paying dividens for the Bombers despite his youthfulness. He won 15 games this year (15-12, 5.43).
On paper, we should be fine against these guys. We have a lot more strength than they do and even our weaknesses are still stronger than anything they can throw at us.
But in a short series, truly anything can happen. So we want to jump on them early and often.
GUINNESS CUP SERIES
Monterrey is on a mission to become the first Mexican team in the major leagues. They knocked off Richmond 3 games to 1 to capture the 2002 Guinness Cup Series.
They'll now travel to Berlin to face the Minnesota Twins in the best-of-five MLB Challenge Series.
The Matadors are led by 39-year old shortstop [b]Gary Hatchp/B] who channeled his youth this season en route to the team's 2nd straight Western Division title, he notched his first 40+ homer season since 1994 hitting 43 HRs and 117 RBI on .263 average, his highest batting average season since 1996.
The ace of their staff is 36-year old Miguel Hidalgo, who signed with the Matadors in 1996 as a 29-year old rookie. He went 16-8 this year with a 3.92 ERA.
In addition to those veterans, the team's youth movement is led by left fielder John Brandon who at 23, belted 42 home runs and 109 RBI this year, winning the CL's Jack Curry Award as MVP of the Continental League.
The best player on the Twins is 23-year old center fielder Emilio Correa, who hit 32 HR and 101 RBI this year for the underachieving Twins, who are seeking to become the first MLB team to win the Challenge Series and retain their spot in MLB.
Challenge Series stats are no longer considered playoff stats, instead, they're counted as an exhibition.
The team's pitching staff is lean, the ace is 24-year old southpaw Eric Alexander, who in his second ML season went 12-15 with a 4.40 ERA, with 212 Ks
On paper, Monterrey is just significantly more experienced and history has shown that winning has a pretty big impact on a team's success when they reach this level.
But....that's why they play the games.
WORLD SERIES QUARTERFINALS RESULTS
Chicago Comets def. St. Louis 3 games to 0
BOSTON def. New York 3 games to 0
New York Mets def. Los Angeles Dodgers 3 games to 1
Brooklyn def. Cincinnati 3 games to 1
No big surprises in any of these series. The teams from the east, in a division where the 5th place team (Pittsburgh would've come in third in any other division) proved to be a proper proving ground for success as MLB's Final Four is set.
The Comets will take on the Yankees, trying to make it to their first ever World Series while the Yanks look to get back to the Series for the first time since 1995 and to win one for the first time since 1976.
Meanwhile, a rematch of last year's World Series will take place as the Mets and Cyclones get reacquainted again.
The Yankees are riding a nine game winning streak. The won their last six game in the regular season and knocked off the Bombers in three straight games (5-4, 5-2, 7-3) "We've got a hot hand right now. But we're not going to press our luck and get complacent. There is still a lot of baseball left to be played," said Right Fielder Jacob Snow.
MLB CHALLENGE SERIES
@ BERLIN, GERMANY
Get this. Not only were both games played by the same score. But both teams had 9 hits in both games. But in Game 2, the Matadors had to rally back from down 4-2 to score three runs in the bottom of the 9th. They're just a game away from the Commissioner's Pin and MLB status for 2003!
GM 3: Monterrey 4, Minnesota 1
The Matadors were too strong, ultimately. The Twins are headed to the Continental League in 2003, as Miguel Hidalgo pitches a 3-hitter and Mexico has its first major league team.
WORLD SERIES SEMIFINALS
New York 6, Brooklyn 4 (15 innings)
BOSTON 18, Chicago Comets 8
Luis Manuel Morales gave up 5 earned in 5 2/3 innings, but got the win as the Yankees offense was on fire. Ricardo Serrano went deep in the 6th for his 3rd homer of the postseason and [b]Spencer Jacobs[/B hit two jacks, notching 5 RBI on the day as the Yanks went up 1-0 in the Series.
New York 2, Brooklyn 6 (Series tied at 1-1)
BOSTON 0, CHICAGO 4
Chicago Yukichi Iwamoto shut down the Yankee bats yielding just five hits over 7 1/3 innings as the Comets ended the Yanks 10-game win streak that dates back to the end of the regular season. Despite getting guys on base, the Yankees couldn't convert leaving 10 men on. The Series shifts to Boston for the next three games.
Brooklyn 3, New York 2 (10 innings) (Cyclones lead Series 2-1)
Chicago 4, BOSTON 10
(Yanks lead series 2-1)
Marc Charbonneau and Dan Warren both went deep for their 3rd homers of the post-season, as the Yankees bats woke up from the shutout in Game 2. Ralph Oliver gave up 9 hits and 3 earned in 6 1/3, but it didn't matter as the Yankees were determined to take a 2-1 series lead in their first World Series semifinal game at Yankee Field since 1995.
Brooklyn 5, New York 7 (Series tied at 2-2)
Chicago 3, BOSTON 7
Jeremy Thompson is known by his teammates as "The Silencer" for his quiet demeanor, yet his ability to pitch in the clutch. Trying to go up 3-1 in their World Series Semifinal series at home, the Yankees got out to a 3-0 lead, then responded to the Comets 2 runs in the fourth with 2 more in the bottom of the 4th. That was more than enough for Thompson, who pitch 7 2/3 giving up 8 hits and 3 earned. Ricardo Serrano went deep in the 7th, putting the game even further out of reach for the hapless Comets.
The Yanks have a chance to close out the series at home with a win tomorrow night.
Brooklyn 2, New York 0 (Brooklyn leads series 3 to 2)
Chicago 2, Boston 6 (Yankees win Series 4-1)
Alvaro Vega struck out six in 7 2/3 innings and Jacob Snow had a 2 RBI double in the sixth that propelled the Boston Yankees to a 6-2 win at home against the Chicago Comets and more importantly, to their first World Series appearance in seven years.
"It's a heck of a feeling," said catcher Vic Ross, who is hitting .313 in these playoffs. The MVP of these playoffs so far are GM D.C. Daly, whose acquisitions of veterans Ricardo Serrano (.437/4 HR/10 RBI) and Spencer Jacobs (.325/4 hr/11 RBI) have proven to be pivotal moves as these playoffs solider on. And now the team sits on the doorstep of the pinnacle of a successful season - a World Series championship.
2002 WORLD SERIES
BOSTON V. BROOKLYN
The two best teams for most of the year in baseball are now about to face off for the ultimate prize. Boston finished a game ahead in the Eastern Division standings and as a result, will have home field advantage in this World Series.
"Anyone who tells you that it doesn't matter is kidding. Being at home is a huge advantage," said Yankees outfielder Spencer Jacobs who has experience as a member of the San Francisco Giants World Series title team of 1992 and came to Boston in a deadline deal
If you look at the tale of the tape, the Cyclones are the only team that Yanks have faced this postseason that can keep up with us pitching wise.
They were top 3 in most major categories as a team this year in most pitching categories AND boast a 1-2 punch in Oscar Ellis (20-8, 3.32) and Mitsuo Asai (21-7, 2.92) anchor the rotation.
Offensively, the team boasts a bonafide star in Mauro Diaz at catcher. He hit 37 HRs and 137 RBI this past year, hitting .316 at the same time. He also has rare speed for a catcher, he had 40 steals this year.
Actually, that's one thing this team does have that we don't. Amazing team speed. Pretty much every guy in this lineup is a threat to run and they led the majors with 406 stolen bases.
In terms of hot hands, though, it's hard to rival what the Yankees are doing right now. If they keep playing as they have, it'll be hard to stop them and Boston will be rocking like its the bicentennial.
We shall see.
2002 WORLD SERIES
GAME 1: BOSTON 6, BROOKLYN 5
Ralph Oliver gave up 10 hits and 5 earned in seven innings, striking out 4 and walking 2, but an RBI double in the bottom of the sixth by Dan Warren turned out to be the game winning run as the Yankees win Game 1 of the World Series.
GAME 2: BROOKLYN 9, BOSTON 1
Luis Manuel Morales and the entire Yankee staff were shellacked for 9 runs and 12 hits as the Cyclones tied the World Series at 1-1 today at Yankee Field. Cyclones hurler Jose Zaragoza gave up 1 run and just 3 hits in the win, in a game where three different Brooklyn players went deep. The series now shifts to Brooklyn.
GAME 3: BOSTON 17, BROOKLYN 2
Mino Nishikawa and Jacob Snow combined for 10 RBI as the Yankees piled it on in Brooklyn to take a 2-1 lead in the 2002 World Series.
Jeremy Thompson had another strong playoff outing, giving up 2 earned on 3 hits, despite walking 5 batters in 7 innings. Cyclones ace Oscar Ellis lasted only 3 2/3 innings, having given up 7 earned and six hits.
GAME 4: BOSTON 9, BROOKLYN 2
Alvaro Vega pitching a complete game in the Game Four Victory at Hess Field, as the Yankees sit on the doorstep of their first World Series title since 1976. Vega gave up just 2 earned and walked in the victory. Dan Warren came up clutch, notching 4 RBI in the game, capped by a 2-run homer in the top of the 5th off Cyclones pitcher Mitsuo Asai, who struck out five and gave up four over 6 innings.
"We wanted to make a statement and I think we did," said Yankees hitting coach Stan Brown. "These are the kinds of games you need to have at this time in the year. It's exciting for these guys and for all of us."
GAME 5: BOSTON 5, BROOKLYN 8
The Cyclones staved off elimination with a 8-5 victory to force the series back to Boston for Game 6 on Sunday.
Brooklyn hurler Anastasio Lopez pitched 8 innings giving up 4 earned and striking out six. Meanwhile, Luis Morales of the Yankees gave up 3 earned in six innings of work, walking 3 and striking out 3.
Mauro Diaz had 3 RBI in the win for the Cyclones, who proved they weren't quite ready to go home yet.
GAME 6: BROOKLYN 3, BOSTON 2
Ralph Oliver gave up 3 earned and six hits, while striking out 13 in eight innings pitched. But it wasn't enough as the Yankees couldn't give him the usual run support he's used to, forcing a decisive seventh game in the 2002 World Series.
"We're just not swinging the bats like we're capable of," said Spencer Jacobs, who has been playing hurt and left 5 men on base in Game 6.
"We just need to get it together, because we're running out of chances," said Oliver.
Game 7 is tomorrow night at Yankee Field.
You know, I could do a write up for Game 7 of the World Series.
But in all of my OOTP years, I've never experienced a World Series quite like this. Not only was it two ridiculously close teams that battled all year long in the regular season, but they meet again the playoffs only to stage what I could easily call one of the best World Series ever.
Game 7, 15 innings.
And there was a winner.
Read the box score & game log.
Gotta say that a steal of home would have been a very dramatic way to end the series. Leaving Vega in the game that long was quite a gamble as well. Despite all those innings it was only a 4 hour game. Good stuff.
Never occurred to me to steal home, but you're not kidding. :) I usually don't control what they do anyway, I let the computer manager control all of the strategy, the only thing I do is control substitutes. And only in some games, I don't actually play out many. But no way I wanted to let the computer screw up this one, after blowing a 3-1 series lead.
Vega was so f-ing clutch that it's not funny. I mean, I just knew that Thompson was starting to get tired and I didn't want to risk having him give up critical runs. I didn't play Games 4, 5 or 6. But with this one..I knew I had no margin for error, so when they scored in the fifth and then got runners on, I went to the bullpen to see what we had. When I saw Vega was rested, I had no second thoughts.
I did not, however, expect him to go in there and shut the place down. 10 strikeouts, 8 innings in a long game like that? I was just astounded. But that's one thing we had on them, I knew we had more arms I could throw at them that could get the job done. Vega obviously made it SO much easier for me, because I didn't have to hand the ball to some kid who goes in there and chokes.
Needless to say, putting Warren in during the 9th inning will go down as a stroke of brilliance when the Series is looked back on someday, because he wasn't tired as if he'd played the whole game and well... a three-run homer to end it in Game 7? In the bottom of the 15th?
Now admittedly with two on and no one out, you could almost figure that short of someone hitting into a double play, the game was basically ours to lose at that point.
But gotta love the dramatics.
I'm gonna let this one sit for a bit, before I get started again.
CL CANCELLES EXPANSION
Citing the "integrity of the game," MLB officials have cancelled plans to expand the Continental League at this time. MLB decided against the move saying the idea was one that they "couldn't get widespread support for."
Some cite poor pre-ticket sales as the culprit of the failed effort.
MLB WELCOMES MONTERREY
Despite earlier reports that MLB would reject the champion of the Champions League if their stadium wasn't up to snuff, MLB today presented the Commissioner's Pin to the Monterrey Matadors manager Jose Patras. "It's an exciting, historic day for baseball, as it moves into Mexico for the first time in a full-time major league capacity. We look forward to the continued success of the Matadors," said the MLB Commissioner.
BEES FANS IRATE
Salt Lake City fans are wondering what will become of the Bees after the team says it cannot afford to play another major league season at Franklin Covey Field, as it is "woefully small" for their standards, according to the team.
"We're just trying to compete in a major league landscape and doing it in that manner is just too challenging."
No one knows what will happen as free agents prepare to file, but team officials say that they are exploring a "host" of options to determine what to do with the ballclub or more, where to play.
Salt Lake City voters have already rejected a bond issue on a new ballpark for the team that would cost $375 million and the legislature has come out against stadium subsidies for the team, despite the small, but vociferous fan base.
"We're just not in a position to dole out this kind of money for a team. We've offered them other options that we can help with - tax abatements, land and other things - but we just can't levy bonds that our kids will be paying for, for a stadium that'll be antiquated before it gets paid off," said Mitch Gartner (R-Logan) of the Utah Legislature.
OTHER CONTINENTAL LEAGUE CHANGES
Richmond Braves move to Milwaukee (Rationale: MLB doesn't want a team in Richmond if they get promoted, as it's too close to Baltimore and D.C. and a possible team in Charlotte)
New orleans Zephyrs move to New York, N.Y. (MLB didn't like the drop in attendance to the city despite the team's last place finish, they were worried and Zephyr Field was an aging facility when the team got there anyway. The team will move to Renassiance Field in Harlem, New York City.)
Montreal Expos move to Philadelphia, PA. (With the Philadelphia Colonials moving to a new ballpark 50 miles away in suburban Philadelphia, the team decided its one year of playing north of the border was enough and the team is headed back to Philadelphia to fill the vacancy at Aramark Field left by the Colonials.)
The Sacramento Snappers changed their name to the Sacramento River Cats.
32,000 seat CVS Field in Providence, RI will be the new home of the Salt Lake City Bees in 2005. The stadium will be the crowning jewel of a major expansion of the Providence Place mall.
Some legislators have called the project a "veritable traffic nightmare," but urban planners have heralded the design of the new park which will house the new team.
The Bees are exploring playing their home games somewhere else in New England, rather than spending two more lame duck seasons in Salt Lake City, but no deal had yet been reached to make this happen.
"We're confident we can get it worked out," said one team spokesman.
Ed Note: You can decide the size of the new stadium. I have no idea what to do with it, but you can make suggestions (large foul ground/small foul ground, quirky outfield dimensions) and I'll take them into consideration when I do the dimensions the spreadsheet to get the park factors.
BEES TO PLAY IN HARTFORD
The Providence Bees will play their first two seasons at a football stadium. UConn's Rentschler field outside Hartford will be the home to the team. This is in anticipation of their new stadium, CVS Field, to be build at Providence Place by 2005.
The stadium was not built for baseball, it's mainly home to the University of Connecticut football team, but when the Bees came calling, the city and university were more than happy to accomodate, as well as fill an entire slate of summer dates at the field for the next two years.
"We're extremely excited about being in New England," said a team official, who confirmed the team would be named the Providence Bees. Did he worry that fans in Hartford might not want to see a team that's not theirs?
"We see this team as a team for all of Southern New England. Basically there wasn't a team anywhere here between Boston and New York. Anyone who is from here or who has spent significant time here understands that this is a very distinct place from the urban landscapes of Boston or New York and so, we think this fits well and that fans will be receptive to the new ballclub," said a team official regarding the move away from Salt Lake City.
The team is likely trying to capitalize on the excess market capacity created beyond the New York metro area, into Hartford which is its own metro and TV market, as well as Providence, which gives them some penetration into the Boston market.
"If this could create a New York style rivalry in Boston with the Yankees, that might be an intriguing plot for baseball," said Boston Globe writer Dan Schultz.
Meanwhile, others are worried that the increased presence of baseball in the northeast is bad for the sport long term.
We don't have major free agents who'll be coming up this year and so, this off-season's priority for me is again focused on improving the team starting with a veteran arm in the rotation who is maybe battle tested and who has some juice left.
I'll make some deals to trim some of the fat as always. But don't expect us to do anything really bold.
That said, the free agent crop this year is looking pretty bright and so, it'll be interesting to see how guys come out of that and where the numbers fall.
I have a funny feeling that ownership is going to get cheap. It worries me immensely, but it's just a feeling I have. I'll let you know when I have a clearer idea of what's going to happen.
At $69 million in payroll (as of November 8, 2002), the Boston Yankees are currently third in the majors. Ownership has decided that just as it did last year before the regular season started, where the team slashed about $17 million in salary, that with the new ballpark coming in 2005, that the team ought to cut ties now with its last few veterans and go into rebuilding mode.
Here's the basic gist of the conversation I had with Team President Bud "H.G." Wells last week:
"Now, you knew this was coming [a drastic cutback] and this World Series just makes it easier for us to tell our fans that we're trying to preserve our money so we can keep the team healthy when that new stadium comes. Because right now, these kids are going to get to the majors, they're gonna get arbitration and before we know it, we're going to be paying over $100 million a year in payroll. We just can't afford that, D.C."
I tried to tell him that people were going to be more than just irate, they were going to be livid and that to do that to people now when the team has been so successful after going through a huge dead period was just a bad idea.
But I should've known better. Any group of guys that hire a kid who isn't 30 to run their baseball team clearly are looking to work things out on the cheap. I wasn't supposed to come here and win a World Series, so I think the first year of futility they expected, it's the last two years of rebounding and then getting to where we did this year that caught them off-guard. But we've got so many good guys from top to bottom here helping us evaluate talent and everything. They've been with this organization a long time, since the glory years.
They motivated me.
But this is just nuts.
But he went on.
"So, here's the deal. I talked to [the other owners] Mick, George and Davis and here's what they tell me. They want us down to about $40 million. That'd put us in the middle of the league. You've been bragging about this bumper crop of kids for a while. Now's the time to see if they can sink or swim."
"Are you serious?"
"Well, it worked for that first group we had [referring to the 2000 squad that was the worst in franchise history]?"
"Yeah, but that was part of a rebuilding process that we wanted to infuse with veterans to get things good. I thought we were ALL on the same page. I can't believe what I'm hearing."
"Now D.C., you know we're 100% behind you. And think about how nice it'll be when we move into that new stadium. You'll get a bigger office. The kids will be really ready to go then and who knows? Maybe it'll be time for another World Series?"
"Ugh. I think I feel sick."
Here's the PAYROLL for the next few years
NOVEMBER 14, 2002
Don't call it a fire sale.
BOSTON - Word on the street was that Boston's owners wanted to cut $20 million in payroll to start next season. Boy wonder GM D.C. Daly was told to make it happen and not to waste time with the move.
Daly was reported miffed at the insistence of his owners, but apparently, they got their way.
The team dealt star outfielder Mark Charbonneau and three other players and $3 million in cash to Toronto last night.
Charbonneau belted 44 HRs last year on a .329 average and now the native Canadian gets to play before Canadian fans night in and night out and he said he "couldn't be happier about it."
"I wasn't all that jazzed about having to leave here, but if I could go somewhere and play, Toronto would be the place for me. Well, unless MLB wants to put a team in Sarnia."
Along with Charbonneau, the team sent pitcher Jose Portillo, veteran outfielder Spencer Jacobs and prospect outfielder Tetsui Kodo to the Blue Sox.
In return, the Yankees will get 28-year old pitcher Rafeal Souza who went 11-15 last year with the Sox with a 4.89 ERA. Reliever Greg Sheffield, a 22-year old hard throwing hurler who went 7-4 with 1 save with 79 innings pitched last year. 3B Weldon Young is a 22-year old stolen base threat who hit .260 last year and Joe Jones is a 20-year old centerfielder with good contact ability and outstanding speed, as well.
All in all, Daly said that he's happy with the deal.
"You never want to deal guys like Marc [Charbonneau] and I'll never forget how Spencer Jacobs anchored this team. I really grew fond of them as players and as men. It'll be tough to see them on another team as I hoped that we could win more titles together. But there is a business side to all of this and so, we did the best we could to provide maximum value for our club and our fans and I have to say, that I'm happy about the players we're getting back."
The deal saved the Yankees $13 million in salary next season, but Daly flat out told reporters today that, "I know that there is more work to be done and we'll do our diligence and make it happen."
BOSTON CONTINUES TO PURGE SALARIES, DEAL ROSS, PENRICE TO PROVIDENCE
HARTFORD - The Boston Yankees dealt starting catcher Vic Ross and prospect shortstop Alfie Penrice down the road to the newly relocated Providence Bees.
"I hope they don't think we'll be any easier on them when they're playing us," said GM D.C. Daly announcing the team's second trade in less than 48 hours.
In this deal, the team acquired three (1B Roger Schilder & 2B Terry Wilkie) and pitcher Victor Lopez
The deal saved the team over $6.6 million. Daly said the move was propelled by the team's depth at catcher.
"We're pretty happy with the guys we have in the minors, who seemed poised to take over the position and so, we'll give them a shot at it."
In a separate deal announced today, they sent backup catcher Manny Lopez to the Philadelphia Colonials for pitcher Jay Jackson. Jackson, 24, went 12-10 with a 3.82 ERA in 35 starts with the Colonials last year.
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