October 16, 2005


  • In over three years of having this blog, I have realized that very few people care about my fantasy teams. It makes sense, obviously, since I really don't care about anyone else's fantasy teams. But I do care a lot about mine, and this is my website, so that means you're forced to read about it every once in a while.

    Today, I'd like to brag a little bit about one of my Diamond-Mind keeper-league teams. The Minnesota Gophers of the Three Run Homer League -- which includes potentially familiar names like Will Young, Craig Burley, Robert Dudek, Greg Tamer, Bill Liming, Vinay Kumar, Joe Dimino, and Kent Williams -- took home their very first World Series title Saturday.

    The league replays the previous season, which means my team is the 2004 champions. The Gophers advanced to the playoffs as the AL Central winners, going 90-72, and swept the ALDS in four games by a combined score of 40-22. We were matched up against Kumar's powerful club in the ALCS -- his team went 94-68 and featured the 2004 versions of David Ortiz, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, and Eric Chavez -- and advanced to the World Series in six games.

    Once in the World Series the Gophers met up with Tamer's team, which went 97-65 and featured an offensive machine that scored the second-most runs in the entire league behind Barry Bonds, Jim Thome, Vladimir Guerrero, and Mark Kotsay. Sadly, he never got a chance to play me at full strength, as Johan Santana hit Bonds with a pitch in the first inning of Game 1, injuring him for the remainder of the series. With the likes of Tike Redman and Kerry Robinson subbing for Superman, Tamer's team went down without much fight, losing four straight games by the scores of 5-0, 9-2, 9-6, and 7-4.

    For anyone who isn't already bored to death by this recap, here is my team (and their regular-season TRHL numbers):

         HITTERS               G      AVG      OBP      SLG     RUN     RBI
    C Ivan Rodriguez 144 .327 .371 .496 94 75
    1B Justin Morneau 103 .258 .318 .510 50 62
    2B Placido Polanco 154 .275 .317 .394 76 78
    SS Khalil Greene 149 .265 .325 .406 78 64
    3B Mike Lowell 162 .278 .350 .462 90 82
    LF Jason Bay 134 .210 .262 .445 68 89
    CF Carl Crawford 157 .272 .307 .400 72 66
    RF David DeJesus 121 .332 .420 .471 62 49
    DH Shannon Stewart 121 .292 .365 .434 61 56

    Matthew LeCroy 79 .273 .319 .392 20 16
    Joe Mauer 46 .299 .359 .589 20 18
    Chone Figgins 142 .309 .357 .426 84 44
    Brandon Inge 129 .306 .343 .495 52 73
    Marquis Grissom 58 .230 .248 .421 15 26
    Frank Catalanotto 87 .311 .354 .416 23 21

    As you can see, I didn't have a very good offense. In fact, the Gophers ranked just fifth in the 12-team AL with 801 runs scored. The group should have produced more runs, but pretty much everyone but Ivan Rodriguez, David DeJesus, Chone Figgins, and Brandon Inge underperformed from their real-life numbers. Jason Bay's season was particularly brutal -- he hit just .210/.262/.445 after winning the NL Rookie of the Year in real life.

    Thankfully, I had the following pitching staff:

         PITCHERS               IP      W      L      ERA
    SP Johan Santana 242.1 25 6 1.49
    SP Jake Westbrook 243.0 21 9 3.52
    SP Jeff Weaver 223.0 12 14 4.48
    SP Jose Contreras 190.0 16 8 5.07
    SP Cliff Lee 180.2 11 13 5.48

    CL Julian Tavarez 63.0 2 2 2.14
    RP Ricky Bottalico 80.0 1 4 3.38
    RP Travis Harper 80.1 6 9 4.93
    RP Julio Mateo 59.1 1 1 4.70
    RP Steve Kline 56.0 1 3 3.05
    RP Mike Remlinger 39.1 2 2 2.29
    RP Horacio Ramirez 40.1 1 1 4.46

    It was pretty much the Johan Santana Show. Johan went 25-6 with a ridiculous 1.49 ERA in 242.1 innings of work, leading the staff to the second-fewest runs allowed (685) in the AL. I acquired Jake Westbrook midseason and he proved to be a capable #2 starter, going 6-2 with a 3.11 ERA in nine starts after joining the Gophers and 21-9 with a 3.52 ERA overall. Julian Tavarez was the star of the bullpen, posting a 2.14 ERA in 63 innings while saving 38 games.

    And finally, here's my year-by-year record in four TRHL seasons:

    YEAR       W       L     WIN%     POSTSEASON
    2001 84 78 .519 Lost in ALCS
    2002 112 50 .691 Lost in World Series
    2003 100 62 .617 Lost in World Series
    2004 90 72 .556 Won World Series

    Not bad, huh? A combined record of 386-262 (.596) in four seasons, with four AL Central titles, three AL pennants, and one TRHL championship.

  • Speaking of fantasy teams, I have set up the annual fantasy basketball league for readers of this blog. In years past the AG.com fantasy basketball league has been on ESPN.com, which costs money, but this year I've decided to switch to Yahoo.com's free leagues. It's a 12-team, roto-style league using the eight basic scoring categories. The draft is on Sunday, October 30 at 9:45 a.m. CST.

    If you're interested in joining the league, drop me an e-mail. It's always tough to gauge what sort of response there will be for something like this, so the spots will either be awarded first come first serve or I'll have to figure out some way to pick people to join. If you feel like including some information about yourself in the e-mail, feel free. The only real stipulation I have for joining is that you commit to managing your team throughout the season, regardless of its place in the standings.

  • I want to thank all the people who responded to my entry last week about the newspaper business. Entries like that -- full of opinion and personal stuff, without much sports at all -- are often asking for trouble, but the response was fantastic. Not all of you agreed with my points, of course, but even so the dialogue in the comments section was thoughtful, interesting, and peaceful.

    I'd also like to thank everyone who contacted me about the piece outside of the comments, from my friends and family to people in the newspaper business and people who want to be in the newspaper business. Again, not everyone agreed with my sentiments, but that's never my goal here anyway. As for the Minneapolis Star Tribune's re-design, suffice it to say that I've been reading the paper online even less than I was before. It's a mess.

  • Last but not least, congratulations to the White Sox and especially to their fans, who will no doubt be filling my e-mail box and the comments section with all sorts of interesting stuff today. I'd like to point out that while I didn't think the White Sox would win the AL Central or beat the Red Sox in the ALDS, I did correctly predict that they'd advance to the World Series by getting past the Angels.

    Of course, I was rooting against them the entire time. In fact, with the Twins out of it, my entire postseason viewing experience has essentially boiled down to rooting against the White Sox and Yankees. But hey, Chicago is four wins away from their first championship since 1917, the Twins stink, and I'm jealous. Feel free to gloat all you want, because I'm sure I'd be doing the same thing.

  • Today at The Hardball Times:
    - Killer B's: This Time It's Backe (by David Gassko)

    Today's Picks (123-105, +$1,815):
    Indianapolis -13.5 (-110) over St. Louis

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