2017 JLB Midseason Report

 

Preamble

Welcome to the 2017 Midseason report. As the owners of the Alexandria franchise, we are proud of how well our team has done. As usual,we put together a team that we think can compete, not necessarily set the world on fire, but just be in contention and then maybe we could make a stronger push later in the season. Before last year’s disappointing 9th place finish, we had finished in what some would argue as even more disappointing 5th place for four consecutive seasons. And although, “consistently middle of the pack” was a much better descriptor than what was likely used to describe the Reston Roosters, the Alexandria Alleycats ancestor organization, Alexandria has consistently been an afterthought when it comes to being a contending organization or having our votes be counted for anything.

 

Anyway this year could be different, the Alleycats are pretty fucking good:

 

LOL @ this pitching!

Chris Sale, Stephen Strasburg, Jacob deGrom, Alex Wood

There are teams with maybe a better one-two when it comes to starting pitching, but nobody is touching our top 4. And if someone had put together a starting staff with our taxi squad pitchers, Marcus Stroman, Brad Peacock and  Ivan Nova, they would likely have a top 4 staff.

 

LOL @ this bullpen!

Craig Kimbrel

That's it! That's the only bullpen arm we need to mention, our other guys have been great too, but  Kimbrel has been other-worldly.

 

Our hitting hasn't been nearly as good first half, but due to a minor league system filled with late blooming prospects, we’ve been able to put together an offense as dangerous as anyone in contention. We have talent in all 5 categories, and we have depth... We really think we can win this thing…

 

 

Enjoy the report,

Ricky & Joe your soon to be 2017 JLB Champions

 

 

Superlatives

 

Best Trade(s)

 

Trade 1

 

To Falls Church

OF Lewis Brinson

2017 AM 2.4

 

To Alexandria

1B Joey Votto (2017 exp, 5.3m, 2009 debut)

OF Jorge Soler (2020 exp, 1.7m, 2014s debut)

$3 million

 

The Alleycats’ response to the DL trade where Freddie Freeman and Greg Bird were swapped and both promptly got injured.  Needing to maintain pace and fill a hole at first base The Alleycats pursued Votto giving up prized prospect Lewis Brinson and of course a pick.  The picks and young guys involved in the trade are irrelevant at the moment but check out Votto’s numbers before and after the trade: 

 

Before Trade

44 games:

H/AB   R         HR       RBI      SB       AVG

46/157 32        12        38        1          0.293

 

After Trade

44 games:

H/AB   R         HR       RBI      SB       AVG

53/157 33        14        30        2          0.338

 

Very consistent! And we all know about Joey Votto’s second halfs, at least that's what Carlton sold us on.

 

Trade 2

Arsenal get:

Jose Quintana, 2019, $1.9M

Ryan Zimmerman, 2017, $5.3M

 

66ers get:

Best wishes in all of their endeavors

 

Who would have thought Ryan Zimmerman would be having a bounceback year?!  Good for Arsenal.

 

Worst Trade(s)

 

TRADE (12/31/16)

 

To Springfield:

2017 ALX Am 3rd.

 

To Alexandria:

Jeanmar Gomez (600k, 2016 debut)

 

Followed by….

 

TRADE (1/17/17)

To Alexandria:

Nothing

 

To Arlington:

Jeanmar Gomez (600k, 2016 debut)

 

Oops right?!  So The Alleycats made a bit of a mess here after realizing we needed the roster spot to attempt to sign Fernando Rodney.  The Arsenal was gracious enough to take Gomez off our hands so we could do just that.  The Alleycats gave away the pick that turned out to be Bubba Thompson.  Fun fact...Bubba Thompson graduated from the same high school as Jimmy Buffet.  Exciting!  Anyways, we’re  sure he’ll have a great career and the Alleycats are happy with the 22 shaky saves they’ve gotten from Rodney this year.

 

Best Off-Season Free Agent Signings

 

Ivan Nova

Contract:  $1.9 mil;  Signed 2017 1 yr / $1.9 mil. 

Yahoo Rank:  64

Stats:

IP         W         SV       K         ERA    WHIP

120.2   9          0          67        3.21     1.09

 

Andrew McCutchen

Contract:  $4.6 mil;  Signed 2017 4 yr / $3.1 mil. 

Yahoo Rank:  34

Stats:

H/AB   R         HR       RBI      SB       AVG

93/316 55        17        50        6          0.294

 

A couple of nice deals here by The Foxes for fellow Pittsburgh Pirates.  McCutchen isn’t quite back to his MVP form but he’s certainly showing signs of the player from old.  Should be a nice cheap asset for the next few years.  Nova on the other hand is out to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke.  He left the Big Apple and all of a sudden has learned how to pitch.  He can’t really strike anyone out but he’s keeping the hits and runs down.  The Alleycats decided he was worth bringing into the mix to fill out some innings.

 

Craig Kimbrel

Contract:  $10.5 mil;  Signed 2017 2 yr / $10.5 mil.

Yahoo Rank:  16 

Stats: 

IP         W         SV       K         ERA    WHIP

37.2     2          23        68        1.19     0.5

 

Quite the bidding war we had here early in free agency for the top free agent closer.  Eight franchises were in on the bidding and two others decided to comment on the proceedings.  Great drama!  The Alleycats would not be denied on this one and thus far it has paid off as Kimbrel has been worth every dollar spent. 

 

Worst Off-Season Free Agent Signing

 

Carter Capps

 

Contract:  $3.1 mil; Signed 2017 4 yr / $3.1 mil.

Yahoo Rank:  1,438

Stats:  N/A.

 

He hasn’t played at the MLB level since 2015 but Centreville decided to lock him up for 4 years.  Plus his delivery, which was-in part responsible for his dominance, has been outlawed.

 

Best Valued JLB Player

 

Alex Wood

 

Contract:  $720k;  Signed 2016 2 yr / 800k HTD.

Yahoo Rank:  11

Stats: 

 

IP         W         SV       K         ERA    WHIP

80.2     10        0          97        1.67     0.89

 

The Alleycats (Joe) never gave up on this guy.  Back in 2015, Ricky was on a flight to Lisbon, Portugal when Joe asked him if he was fine trading some of our future picks to Great Falls for Wood.  Ricky clearly didn’t respond in time and Joe pulled the trigger.  Two years later after resigning him to a two year hometown discount deal that no one else attempted to match, Joe is getting the last laugh.

 

Worst Valued JLB Player

 

Prince Fielder -

Contract:  $13 mil;  Signed 2013 6 yr / 13 mil. 

Yahoo Rank:  1,399

Stats:  N/A.

 

Too soon?  Yikes!  We completely forgot we were in the bidding war with Arlington on this one. 

 

 

That’s probably not fair so let’s go with a player who is still playing professional baseball:

 

John Lester -

Contract:  $11.97 mil;  Signed 2017 3 yr / 13.3 mil. 

Yahoo Rank:  298

Stats: 

 

IP         W         SV       K         ERA    WHIP

108      5          0          110      4.25     1.34

 

Tough one here for Springfield as they stayed loyal to their late 2016 trade acquisition that helped contribute to the team’s second place finish last year.   He hasn’t been completely terrible as he’s still striking guys out, but that ERA, WHIP, and Win total is not what you’re expecting to see from your team’s ace.  We’re just glad you guys gave us the 2017 JLB Rookie of the Year, Cody Bellinger to get him initially :)

 

First Half Awards

 

MVP

 

Joey Votto (Alexandria)

 

We’ve already discussed his consistent great production throughout the season and he’s the best player on the best team...enough said!

 

Cy Young

 

Alex Wood (Alexandria)

 

I mean he hasn’t lost a game...duh!  He doesn’t have the innings pitched so he’s lacking the strikeouts of some of the other top pitchers, but his rates are great  and with those ratios we’ll give him the top spot.  Kershaw also noted he was the best pitcher in The Dodgers rotation so that should count for something.  

 

Rookie of the Year

 

Cody Bellinger (Alexandria)

 

Here’s an actual gchat conversation between The Alleycats on Tuesday, April 25th:

 

Joseph Gittens

our young niggs are coming up!

Bellinger got called up today

and Arroyo yesterday

lol too bad we dont have enuff money to make ANY moves

not that we need them, but we literally have 120,000 in the bank, we cant do shit

Ricky Mixon

being broke's bad for my health

Joseph Gittens

good news is that all these top 10 prospect lists for fantasy

we usually have 3 guys in the top 5

brinson bellinger and albies

this bellinger kid is supposed to have goldschmidt upside

Ricky Mixon

what team is he on?

Joseph Gittens

so thats exciting...hes with the dodgers so watch out for him when you go

Ricky Mixon

ohhh ok 3 games this weekend hooray

Joseph Gittens

hes a 1b thats athletic enuff to play of

Ricky Mixon

replacing adrian eventually?

Joseph Gittens

Yea

 

Ricky is on top of his JLB team per usual.  Sigh.  Anyways that weekend series against Ned’s Phillies was pretty exciting as Bellinger hit his first two home runs, in the same game with the second being in the 9th of a crazy 4 run 9th inning comeback win.  He hasn’t stopping hitting home runs since and his carrying the Dodgers and the Alleycats. 

Allstars

JLB Allstars were voted on via ballot, ties were decided by the authors, and care was taken to ensure all teams are represented on the team.  Starters are in BOLD.

 

C Salvador Perez, ARL

            Gary Sanchez, CEN

1B Paul Goldschmidt, CLI

Joey Votto, ALX; Ryan Zimmerman, ARL

2B Jose Altuve, MAN

Dee Gordon, ALX; Jose Ramirez, GFG

3B Jake Lamb, ALX

            Travis Shaw, CEN via HER

SS Elvis Andrus, ALX

            Trea Turner, CLI

OF1 George Springer, CEN

OF2 Charlie Blackmon, RES

OF3 Bryce Harper, SPR

OF 4 Mike Trout, MAN

OF 5 Brett Gardner, STR

SP 1 Chris Sale, ALX

SP 2 Max Scherzer, CLI

SP 3 Dallas Keuchel, FFX

SP 4 Alex Wood, ALX

SP 5 Luis Severino, FCF

RP 1 Craig Kimbrel, ALX

RP 2 Kenley Jansen, SPR

RP 3 Roberto Osuna, SPR

RP 4 Greg Holland, FFX

RP 5 Chris Devinski, GFG

Team Reports

 

1.   Alexandria Alleycats (97 points - 41.5 offense - 55.5 pitching)

We gave you a rundown in the Preamble and have/will comment about us throughout the report. A lot of things have gone right and we’ve bolstered this team with some key trades and we have some bullets left in the chamber, if we lose it won't be from lack of trying.

 

2.   Centreville 66ers (95 points - 51.5 offense - 43.5 pitching)

We’re not sure if Centreville was trying to compete for 1st coming into the season. Based on roster construction, it seemed like they were looking to see what happens. Thrilled with a 3rd or 4th place finish, not terribly disappointed with a middle of the pack out of the money finish, and if the season turned out to be a disaster they could maybe look to deviate slightly from the process by trading some young, inexpensive, commitments. But 1st half success obviously has Centerville looking to capitalize on how things have broken right. About a month ago we were asked about a deal to address our “OF weakness” with the help of Yasiel Puig. For that upgrade we would send back Jacob DeGrom. They obviously think we’re idiots, but admittedly, before the season we did ask about an Adam Conley + for Lance McCullers trade, so maybe they were just trying to return serve. Anyway their offseason stud acquisitions coming into the season, Stanton and Springer have worked out beautifully and that core has been supplemented nicely by other acquisitions including Eric Thames, Gary Sanchez and Eduardo Nunez.  Individually, their pre-season arbitration buyouts were all defensible, and some - Nola, Sanchez, and McCullers - are making them look brilliant now; however solidifying 15% of the 2021 roster on a single day in March 2017 was a bit of a headscratcher. The long Kyle Seager contract doesn't look great so far either. Nevertheless, it’s all systems go for Centreville and they have bolstered a nice core with a relief stud in Felipe Rivero, more offensive firepower in Travis Shaw, and they also acquired Eric Hosmer for funsies maybe?.

 

3.   Clifton Clams (87.5 points - 39.5 offense - 48 pitching)

Clifton made no secret about going after it this year. After 3 offseasons of spending on key pieces, Scherzer in 2015, Kershaw in 2016 and Goldschmidt in 2017, The Clams filled pieces around that fantastic core with eyes on an elusive JLB championship. With livewire Trea Turner, opposite of a livewire but still productive Adrian Beltre, and some young arms, the Clams seem(ed) to believe that the sheer brilliance of the Kershaw, Scherzer, Goldschmidt trio would plug any leaks that sprung up. Clifton has been bitten by the injury bug, first in-season acquisition Aroldis Chapman hit the DL for a stint shortly after joining the club, and in a crushing blow, Trea Turner is out indefinitely with a broken wrist. Clams management is probably screaming that Turner does not need a wrist to steal bases (he was on a ridiculous, category winning 70+ steal pace before the injury), but they have a surprisingly capable, yet different replacement at short in Didi Gregorius. Clifton has a disappointing 5 points in saves. After spending money on a struggling and injured Mark Melancon and trading a high pick for Aroldis they have to be really disappointed in their returns thus far. Hilariously, Fernando Rodney could have definitely been a Clam if Jon had just posted 1.4, and he would have gotten MUCH better production from Rodney than Chapman so far. Clifton’s core makes the Clams dangerous and definitely a competitor, but as the roster stands now they don't seem to be as serious a threat to 1st as the other teams in the top five. A significant amount of Clifton’s success came from fast starts by the likes of afterthoughts, Mark Reynolds and Eugenio Suarez’s first month and a half. These are by no means locks for success in the second half.

 

4.   Springfield Spacemen (87 points - 47 offense - 40 pitching)

Is Springfield having another paper dragon year? This team appears stacked - Harper, Correa, Sano, Abreu,Ozuna, Turner, Myers and a ton of solid bullpen arms.  However starting pitching seems to be an issue for them especially with Thor’s injury and leaves them in a disappointing fourth place. Springfield appears to be standing pat so far maybe hoping for struggling players like Jon Lester to turn around, and Syndergaard to get healthy, maybe they feel snake-bitten after giving up GODy Bellinger last year in a deal for Lester in July and finishing second? This team will be competitive talent-wise even despite the indecisiveness of management, a pair that one anonymous owner described as “more concerned with winning trades than winning the league”. Things do seem to be going well with the team as constructed except for in two main categories - stolen bases and wins. Springfield did contact us about Lorenzo Cain for some stolen bases in late April, which seemed a bit disrespectful, as we were maybe two points away from them in the standings, but shrug -  it even took us a while to realize we were serious contenders this year. Springfield’s one trade of note, for Kenley Jansen was fine, but didn't really address the team's needs, shoring up a strength while neglecting an obvious dearth of impact starting pitching. Springfield’s strong ratio bullpen and powerhouse offense will keep them in the top three for sure, but the Spacemen seem to have missed an opportunity to get some premier arms, legs are tougher to acquire, but if they are willing to pay the price there must be steals to be had.

 

5.   Manassas Franchise (73 points - 37 offense - 36 pitching)

About three weeks ago Joe approached Mick via gchat about Wade Davis’ availability.  In a parallel to MLB, The defending JLB champions seemed like they were in a standings no man’s land, hovering in the low sixties. Mick sounded optimistic as hell. “I don't think we’re going to win the league or anything, but we’re poised to make a run! if it fails then we’ll let you know about Wade.” Joe wished Mick a happy 4th of July and rolled his eyes at Mick’s exuberance. A couple days later Joe checked the standings and looked a bit closer at the Manassas roster and said to Ricky “Holyshit, these motherfuckers might just win the league!”. Mike Trout gets back and can singlehandedly turn this squad into a 45 point offense, and with Carrasco in tow, Kluber pitching like a top 5 starter and Greinke having the best peripheral year of his career, sprinkle in a healthy Zach Britton and first hand knowledge of how seriously they take this, and this team has a path to the 90s. Last September at a bachelor party, Mick and Jay were up early on a Saturday morning discussing lineups and moves for the next week, and it didn't seem at all like it was something they were doing because they just happened to be in the same house; it seemed like something they did everyday via WebEx or something; if these guys think they have a chance, its a problem. They have to be stopped. We remember that time Manassas won the 2016 JLB title, it was fun for a little while, but we can’t let it happen again!. Also we really need to vote on these guy’s team nickname, i don't think it’s ever been resolved, keeps getting tabled.

 

6.   Fairfax Firemen (65 points - 30 offense - 35 pitching)

This is a weird one.  The Firemen were on fire and looked to be the clear favorites for the first 2 months of the season. They were well in first until the first week of June and the scary part was that they were doing all of this mostly without Josh Donaldson, Yoenis Cespedes and a Jean Segura DL stint, three fantasy studs. It seems like the collapse to mediocrity came on the heels of these guys’ return to health. Granted, other than Segura, these guys haven't been great. Fast starts by Yasmany Tomas and Joey Gallo types seemed to have been the helium in the Fairfax balloon. So maybe the offensive struggles are due to over-reliance on Donaldson and Cespedes without much contingency for depth. Starting pitcher was never a glaring strength, however the Firemen were clearly relying on Chris Archer on Johnny Cueto to be aces, while Archer has been fine, Cueto has been largely meh.  They do have a certifiable ace in Dallas Keuchel but uneven performance by Danny Duffy and terrible performance by Matt Harvey has left this team scuffling. Andrew Miller seemed like a luxury at the time, and doesn't address the true needs of the Firemen - Runs, RBI and HR.  Regardless, this team shouldn't be as bad as they are, and should not be counted out for the money just yet - offense seems readily available in this fantasy climate. But, one has to wonder if perhaps management may be distracted. Walking to Nationals games you see a huge Juice Laundry sign, which is awesome, it is objectively (and subjectively) a better product than the stuff peddled by ½ of the Alexandria ownership team - Ricky’s juice company “magically” does something to their juice to increase shelf life, but it’s not processing, yea right! if you like juice go to The Juice Laundry.

 

7.   Great Falls Grenades (58 points - 29.5 offense - 28.5 pitching)

Great Falls seemed to have been in “fuck around” mode. Meaning not fully committing to a win the whole damn thing, but blow some money on some minimal commitment to role players to see what happens after a month or so, and then re-evaluate. They put together a pretty solid team on opening day, anchored by the Chicago Cubs corner studs, Bryant and Rizzo as well as an exciting middle infield of Francisco Lindor and Rougned Odor. The Grenades inked two huge one year deals with David Price and Andrew Miller to hopefully add stability to an otherwise young and or unproven pitching staff.  David Price turned out to be as much of a disaster as a one year signing could be and slow starts by Lindor, Odor and Rizzo turned Great Falls into sellers. Our favorite Great Falls move happened in the early offseason when the Grenades finally unloaded Curtis Granderson to Sterling. This stopped the bi-weekly emails and gchats gauging our interest in Curtis Granderson, because Joe is a Mets fan. JD has created an impressive core here, and has enough money in the coffers to go for it again next year and likely for a few years after that. He is hoping for bounceback second halfs from Lindor and Odor so confidence isn't shattered and he’s not second guessing the makeup of the core.

 

8.   Herndon Heroes (57 points - 29 offense - 28 pitching)

Herndon was one of many teams that appeared to be in much better shape than ours going into the season. Arenado, Seager, Betts along with Bumgarner, Tanaka, Chapman and good enough depth and filler everywhere else looked to be extremely formidable.  Buuuuuut, the Heroes didn't anticipate that hicks are gonna hick, and when he wasn't yelling at Dominicans for being too flashy and not taking the game seriously, Madison Bumgarner hopped on an ATV to try some sick jumps and ruined the Giants season - and Herndon’s in the process. It would be tough to pin all of the disappointment on Bumgarner, the entire SP let Danny down here, Tanaka blows, Lackey blows, Porcello blows, and while fortifying a position or two in-season is pretty easy, building an entire staff is difficult. The Heroes remain active, scooping up impact players like Chris Taylor and Jacob Faria off the wire. These guys will contribute to a strengthened 2018 core that will include Aaron Judge.

 

9.   Arlington Arsenal (56 points - 28 offense - 28 pitching)

Much like Alexandria, the Arsenal produce an opening day lineup annually that they are in love with because it’s theirs and they have talked themselves into the best case scenario for everyone - we do the exact same thing.  And for a while this year it looked like everything was breaking right for Arlington. Roleplayers were stepping up and hiding slow starts by the guys like Miguel Cabrera, Todd Frazier and Jose Quintana that were supposed to do the heavy lifting. The Arsenal bolstered their pitching staff with Stephen Strasburg in early May and appeared to be poised for a finish in the money, but have since ran out of gas and became sellers. The Arsenal have unearthed some 2017 gems, like Zack Cozart and Jud Heathcote who they can and have already begun to flip along with other established pieces for potential 2018 impact players. The Arsenal will build another team that has the potential to compete next year, and who knows, maybe they are writing this report next year.

 

10.                Falls Church Foxes (45 points - 15.5 offense - 29.5 pitching)

Something amazing happened this season, brace yourselves…. We completed TWO trades with the Foxes and each one took LESS THAN SIX emails to complete! Not sure if it’s the move to Europe that has Carlton yearning for American brevity and wanting to get to the point quicker, but this type of trade efficiency from the Foxes is unheard of. Roster wise we are a bit perplexed at how this is a 15 point offense. Even without Votto 15 seems too low. The Foxes roster is a toolsy prospect whore’s dream, and there is more in the pipeline, however, Falls Church hasn't been able to figure out the right combination of stud veterans and hyped prospects to take them to the next level. Alex Bregman, Byron Buxton and Manny Margot have been disappointing, while Andrew McCutchen, Matt Kemp and Yu Darvish have all been decent, but not strong enough to make up for the growing pains of the promising young studs.  Falls Church is one of these traditional JLB rebuilders with deep pockets and tons of young assets so things should come together at some point even if it's by accident.  

 

 

11.                Reston Roundabouts (43 points - 30 offense - 13 pitching)

Seeing the Roundabouts this low in the standings is a bit jarring. While the opening day roster seemed slightly weaker than normal, it appeared as though Reston had the horses on offense to compete, and they would figure out pitching later. Alas, the pitching never materialized, Starling Marte got popped 80 games  for PEDs, and Dan became one of the earliest sellers. Reston is one of those franchises that always finds themselves in the mix and we wouldn't be surprised if Dan is trying to figure out how to flip some assets he got in sell mode in May to backdoor a 4th place finish somehow. Ricky has a rule “Don’t Trade with Hausman, he’s too good” that Joe ignores from time to time, but Freddie Freeman seems like it will work out fine, and the “terrible” Trevor Story trade is looking like it is evening out. Charlie Blackmon continues to be a revelation and is putting up fantasy MVP numbers,  Manny Machado’s peripheral numbers are great, but have not materialized into monster numbers yet, so Blackmon, Machado and a returning Starling Marte could really shake up some offensive categories for competitive teams. And that core remains as solid as ever. Look for Reston to move up the standings to the detriment of some teams that are in the contention mix right now.  

-        

12.                Sterling Starfish (16.5 points - 11.5 offense - 5 pitching)

There's not much to say here. The Starfish packed it in for the 2017 season with a firesale, and stripped the team down to a bare minimum and went off to figure out peace in the Middle East. Brett Gardner is singlehandedly keeping the team from a 10 point season. Sterling is facing a hell of a lot of standings fines and maybe some inactivity fines but CMac has done this type of painful rebuild before, and  has put together some dynasties, so things are actually looking good for the Starfish.