2010 JLB Winter Report

By Carlton Davis

GM, Falls Church Foxes

2009-2010 Back to Back JLB Champions

 

The Standings

 

Team                                      Final Points  

Falls Church Foxes*                   90                   

Great Falls Grenades                  83.5                  

Fairfax Firemen                           81.5                      

Clifton Clams                              81.5                  

Reston Roundabouts                  81.5                  

Reston Robots                            71                  

Oakton Outlaws                         70.5                     

Arlington Arsenal                       66                  

Centreville 66ers                         55                  

Herndon Heroes                          40.5                  

Sterling Starfish                           34                  

Reston Roosters                         25                       

 

*Denotes 2009 Champion

 

Season Recap

 

One of the great pleasures in life, along with sipping a fine bottle of Dom Pˇrignon Vintage 1961, enjoying the stunning views on top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and kissing the hottest girl in middle school, is being the champion of Jefferson League Baseball.  As JLB Champion, not only can I walk a little taller and have a bit more spring in my step, but I have earned the right to be called Champion.  I can charge more for appearance fees and autograph sessions.  I get free airline upgrades from Economy to Economy Plus, so I have room to store my trophy under the seat.  I no longer have to pretend to feel guilty about eating non-free range chicken.  I am a Champion.  This means I can do what I want, when I want, and more importantly, say what I want - and you have to listen.  Because I have earned it.

 

The main reason this report is coming to you in early February as opposed to late in December is due to my busy travel schedule.  Much the way the Stanley Cup makes its world tour every summer and fall, so, too, has The Joe traveled around. In mid-October, I was approached in a joint marketing effort by Visa, Gatorade, and Lexus to spend two months traveling the globe.  They wanted me to be a spokesperson not only for their products, but also as a global ambassador for sportsmanship.  People in far away lands had heard about my winning back to back JLB titles and didnÕt believe that such a person could exist.  Thanks to these three companies, those people have had the chance to witness Greatness first hand.

 

Winning back to back titles is difficult.  This is evidenced by the fact that it has only been done twice in the history of JLB.  However, winning back to back titles in the era of free agency was thought to have just been a myth, an impossible feat discussed in the pages of ancient folklore.  Well my friends, no more.  I have achieved the impossible.

 

This achievement, of course, did not come without a lot of hard work on my end.  The summer of 2010 will forever be known as the summer where I did not have a life because I was working so hard.  Not on JLB, of course.  No, no, no.  I was studying for the bar exam and planning a wedding!  Winning JLB just took care of itself.  I hardly paid any attention to JLB after putting my team on auto-pilot in April.  Because I didnÕt need to.

 

The story of the 2010 season began in the spring of 2006, when I took over the floundering Fairfax Faithfuls.  I immediately decided to sell off my biggest assets (at the time these included Michael Young, Ichiro, Matt Holliday, and Troy Glaus) and undergo a multi-year rebuild.  After accumulating top draft picks and finishing in dead last in 2006 and 2007, I emerged from the cellar in 2008.  When my young prospects were finally ready to contribute in 2009, I surrounded them with the best free agent talent available.  In 2010, I hardly signed anybody helpful in the offseason, because my team was already complete.  My roster was deep, and my young, cheap superstars were balanced with older, more expensive veteran talent. 

 

Many GMs before me had attempted to be patient through a multi-year rebuild and do it the right way.  All failed.  Perhaps now, after back to back titles, people will look at the Falls Church franchise as a model franchise, something they aspire to become.

 

Knowing that I had built my team from the bottom up gave me every bit of confidence during the summer of 2010 that, in the end, I would ultimately emerge with The Joe, even during the darkest days of the season.  The Clifton Clams led almost the entirety of the 2010 season.  And not only did they lead, but they were dominating.  Flirting with 100 points and massive double digit leads over the 2nd place team, Clifton had all but sewn up the 2010 JLB Title by Memorial Day.

 

The JLB Season runs not into late May, however, but into early October.  With one week to go, Falls Church passed Clifton in the standings, and the ClamsÕ collapse was complete.  CliftonÕs 5-category studbag Josh Hamilton sat out the last month of the season with injuries, and Clifton was unable to competently replace him in its lineup.  Clifton also sat and watched as it neared its innings maximum and no fewer than four teams passed it in Ks.  Had Clifton had a solid minor league system to fall back on, perhaps they would have become champions.  Instead, Clifton limped to the finish line.

 

Falls Church, meanwhile, was bolstered by its youth.  September call-ups Andrew McCutchen, Drew Stubbs, and David Price, consecutive first round draft picks from 2005, 2006, and 2007, put a jolt of energy into the squad, pushing it to victory.  Falls Church also received strong seasons from other young players.  Uberprospect Jay Bruce finally received his first taste of JLB playing time and did not disappoint, and Carlos Gonzalez ended up as one of the premiere players in all of JLB in just his first arbitration year.  This youth and experience has Falls Church primed for another run in 2011.

 

JLBÕs most consistent recent performer, the Great Falls Grenades, broke out of mediocrity in 2011 and finished the year in 2nd place!  A subpar season from many Grenades and questionable managerial decisions, however, prevented Great Falls from perhaps its first JLB title since the inaugural 2001 season.  Great Falls received another stellar season from Albert Pujols, and its prized pitching free agent signings Cliff Lee and Chris Carpenter lived up to expectations.  Well into the summer, Great Falls had historic pitching stats, with an ERA under 3.00 and a WHIP under 1.15.  The Grenades, however, could not maintain such ratios and its pitching stats plummeted in the standings.

 

Perhaps due to cockiness and overconfidence in its pitching, Great Falls failed to promote Stephen Strasburg and Mat Latos earlier in the year.  This undoubtedly cost the Grenades points in Ks, W, WHIP, and ERA.  Great Falls finished in 2nd by a mere 6.5 points.  There is little doubt that July promotions of Latos and Strasburg would have brought The Joe back to Great Falls, but Great Falls GM JD Moss failed to see the impending collapse of the Clams and instead chose to focus more on the future of the franchise rather than the task at hand – winning it all in 2010.  In late July, the Great Falls hitters went on an absolute tear, hitting an estimate 85 home runs in a single week.  This vaulted the Grenades from 5th to 2nd place, where it remained for the rest of the season. 

 

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the 2010 JLB Season was that, for the first time in JLB history, not only was there a three-way tie, but this tie also came for the final money spots.  Three teams, Clifton, Fairfax, and the Roundabouts, finished two points behind second place Great Falls.  This three way tie occurred on the last day of the season, under super intense circumstances.  Clifton had fallen out of first place the week before, and was struggling to hang onto second from both Great Falls and Fairfax.  Gross mismanagement of the Clifton pitching staff over the last weekend of the season, however, proved fatal. 

 

Entering the final Saturday, Clifton had 16 available innings left to pitch, and only four pitchers in his lineup: Shaun Marcum and Ubaldo Jimenez, who were both starting, and Leo Nunez and Tyler Clippard, both relievers.  Clifton was ahead of the Roundabouts in wins by 1, behind the Foxes by 1, behind the Heroes in saves by 1, and behind both Fairfax and Falls Church in WHIP by 0.01.  These factors all complicated Clifton GM Jon LaskenÕs decision over which pitchers to play that Saturday.

 

Smartly, Lasken played both starters, as Marcum and Jimenez pitched strong games, combining for 15 innings. Unfortunately, Marcum lost his bid for a win with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, costing Clifton valuable standings points.  Perhaps more unfortunate, explicitly poor managing by Clifton left both Nunez and Clippard in the lineup.  Nunez had one save in the previous month, and Clippard had 1 save the entire year!  (Though he did have quite a few relief victories)  As luck would have it, Tyler Clippard pitched one inning that Saturday, putting Clifton at 1250 IP for the year, and rendering the team unable to field any pitchers for the final Sunday.  As such, Tim HudsonÕs final performance of the year was wiped out.  Hudson pitched a strong game, which would have given Clifton an extra point in Wins, and extra 1.5 points in WHIP, and would have guaranteed him a solo second place finish.

 

The Fairfax Firemen also finished in the third-place tie.  Fairfax had a strong season, spending most of it bouncing between second and third place.   Though the Fairfax roster was not particularly deep due to its payroll limitations, GM Mike Keenan made some extremely strategic and smart midseason signings, including John Axford, who finished the year with 22 saves, 8 wins, and stellar ratios.  The Fairfax squad was also relatively healthy, losing only Dustin Pedroia, and to a lesser extent Aramis Ramirez, to injury for a significant amount of time.  At the end of the day, however, Fairfax was unable to draw on its minor league system late in the year to push it into sole possession of third place.

 

The surprise team finishing in the money this year was the Reston Roundabouts.  Not only was this a surprise looking at rosters at the beginning of the year, but also at the beginning of September, and even October.  As a matter of fact, it was not until the very last day of the season that Roundabouts GM Dan Hausman pushed his team into a third place tie with some smart managing.  Even though the offense was built solely around speed, Hausman had a monster pitching staff.  He saved several innings until the final weekend of the season, allowing him to vault past Falls Church (who helped out by resting all his pitchers and finishing under the innings limit) for Ks and catch Clifton for Ws.  This allowed him to gain several points the final weekend of the season, and doing the unthinkable – catching Clifton and Fairfax and creating a three-way tie for third place.

 

Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of HausmanÕs vault into the money was the Arlington franchise.  Though this franchise ultimately finished in 8th place after a season of poor pitching and many injuries to its offense, Arlington made a $1,000 offseason bet with Clifton that it would win more money over the next four years of The League.  All throughout the summer, Clifton looked poised to bring home the $1,920 that the Champion receives.  Once it dropped into second place with a week to go, CliftonÕs winnings looked to be $980.  However, with the three-way tie that Clifton fell into at the end of the season, the teamÕs winnings amounted to only $240.  (The third and fourth place winnings were split three ways amongst the three teams.)  With an Arlington franchise that is somewhat short on cash and prospects, the prospect of a single 4th place finish over the next three years to even up the bet becomes much more realistic than having to win it all. 

 

The sixth place finisher this year was the Reston Robots.  The Robots made it clear during free agency that they were shooting for a 12 in saves, and they achieved that mark.  However, its starting pitching faltered, and save for a couple of elite hitters, the offense was not rounded out well.  Subsequently, the Robots were never in the serious money hunt the second half of the season, finishing 10.5 points out of the money.

 

The Oakton Outlaws led the League for most of April and into May.  However, its annual summer swoon began soon thereafter, leaving Oakton trying to patch together its daily lineup and pitching staff.  As discussed below, Oakton had elite hitters this year, but without a manager overseeing day to day operations, it will be difficult for Oakton to ever pull up out of the doldrums to finish in the money.  This year, Oakton finished in 7th.  Without any effort whatsoever the squad could have had an easy 5 more standings points, and with a concerted effort over a few weeks, probably could have garnered a few more.  This still would have left them short of the 81.5 needed to finish in the money, but we will never know just how great Oakton could have been this year had it had proper day to day oversight.

 

There was a large standings points drop off after ArlingtonÕs 8th place finish, with 11 points separating the Arsenal and the 9th place Centreville squad.  Fresh off several years finishing in the upper half of the money, Centreville owner Debdeep Maji saw several of his star players leave for free agency and opted instead to rebuild.  The 9th place finish was not surprising, and it was only that high because of other historically bad teams. 

 

The Herndon Heroes finished 10th, well behind the 66ers, as it finished in the second half of the standings for only the second time in franchise history.  Herndon knew it would be a tough season as it opted to rebuild after years in the upper half of the standings.  Herndon GM Danny White capitalized on some early season performances by trading some of his top players for future assets, and this helped contribute to HerndonÕs 10th place finish.  Herndon will be back, though, and soon.

 

The Sterling Starfish were unable to complete back to back seasons in the cellar, as Falls Church successfully managed to do in 2006 and 2007.  Is this an ominous sign as Sterling is about to complete its rebuild with stacks of prospects and oodles of cash?  Time will tell.  Sterling entered 2010 with a goal of minimizing its standings points penalties and getting a 12 in stolen bases.  It completed both tasks successfully, and finished the season with 34 points.

 

The last place team in 2010 was the Reston Roosters, finishing 9 points behind the Starfish. 

Compared to the fight for the money spots at the top of the standings, Centreville, Herndon, Sterling, and Reston really did not compete for slots at the bottom of the standings, as each of these teams was separated from each other by an average of 7 points.  The Roosters, JLBÕs only franchise to never have finished in the money, continued its horrid trend this year as it fell to an all-time worst finish of dead last.  Interestingly, however, the Roosters have several studs on their team.  Once GM Dan Fleeter commits himself to selling off these studs for a full rebuild, or surrounding them with decent talent, the League will be able to have another competitive franchise.  Until that day, however, Reston will continue to flop around near the bottom of the standings.

 

Sadly, the 2010 JLB season has marked the end of The Joe as the official trophy for the JLB Champion.  The Joe was hand-sculpted by Barry Bonds himself out of a solid piece of granite.  He used no tools, but only his superhuman arm muscles.  He modeled the trophy after Joe "Little Mac" McEwing as a joke, since he thought no one would ever want a trophy of such a pathetically scrawny human being.  Of course, he was eventually proven wrong.

 

2010 was not only a year where I again dominated JLB, but I was also lucky enough to get married.  After mining through many applications of candidates who coveted the title of Mrs. JLB Champion, I found one who wanted to have the wedding reception at the new Nationals Park. As such, The Joe played an important role at my wedding.  The Joe served as one of the table centerpieces, sitting in the middle of the table for other wedding guests and fellow JLB GMs to stare at, admire its beauty, and dream about the day that they, too, could perhaps become JLB Champion.  (Long after I retire, of course)

 

This, however, was the last known sighting of The Joe.  He simply disappeared after the wedding and has not been seen from since.  Many rumors are floating around about The JoeÕs whereabouts.  One rumor is that The Joe was taken by the Nationals and is behind a glass enclosed case for future patrons of Nationals Park to enjoy.  Another rumor has it that The Joe resides in the NationalsÕ clubhouse, and before taking the field for every game, each Nationals player and coach is required to touch The Joe.  A third rumor that has recently been gathering steam is that The Joe is on his way to Cooperstown.

 

One thing, however, is for certain.  Wherever The Joe may be, he has no doubt touched us all in a special way.  He left us doing the thing he loved the most – being around baseball.  And he left the League in a much stronger and more stable condition than it was when he arrived.  We are all going to miss him.  Though 2011 will bring the advent of a new League trophy, The Joe will continue to live on in all of our hearts.

 

And on that note, on to the yearly awards.

 

 

MVP

 

Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Falls Church Foxes

90 R, 30 HR, 96 RBI, 22 SB, .349 AVG

 

2nd:  Albert Pujols, 1B, Great Falls Grenades

3rd:  Jose Bautista, OF, Great Falls Grenades

 

In his first year playing at the JLB level, Carlos Gonzalez easily won the 2010 JLB MVP.  Gonzalez, initially on the FoxesÕ Opening Day AAA roster, played his way into the lineup by May and never saw the bench again for the rest of the year.  A perennial AA All-Star, Gonzalez impressed the rest of the League with his five-category capabilities, and was the driving force behind Falls ChurchÕs late summer comeback to win the title.

 

Gonzalez was never a top-10 prospect.  There were always knocks on him about his effort and his strikeouts.  I was smart enough to see through these slights, and my very first move as a JLB GM, when I had been in the League less than a week, was to trade for Gonzalez. (This was even before he officially changed his name from Gonzales!)  Further, Gonzalez was dangled in trade talks the past few years, but in the end, there were no takers. I was willing to give up Gonzalez for perennial JLB studs, but other GMs felt I was lowballing them and were not wise enough to see GonzalezÕs true talent.  As such, Gonzalez will be spending the remainder of his JLB career as a Fox.  Such is life for the lazy GMs who rely only on publicized prospect lists and fail to scout these youngsters themselves in person.

 

Coming as no surprise to anybody, Albert Pujols makes his annual appearance in the MVP voting, coming in 2nd this year.  Pujols seems to get better every year, as this year he mashed in Great Falls to the tune of 42 homers, 115 runs, 118 RBI, and 14 SB to go along with a .312 average.  For once, there are no offseason rumors of Pujols demanding a trade since Great Falls finished in the money and promises to field competitive teams for the near future.  Expect Pujols to be near the top of this list again next year.

 

A surprising third place finisher this year for MVP voting was Jose Bautista.  Bautista was signed off the waiver wire by JD Moss on May 24th.  The signing proved to be a very smart move, as Bautista put up 30 homers for Great Falls over the seasonÕs final four months.  Moss was the only GM willing to take a chance on BautistaÕs hot start, considering the 3B/OF had only 59 career MLB over six years home runs coming into the season.  Great Falls recently tendered Bautista a step 6 arbitration contract for the 2011 season.  Will Bautista continue to hit bombs, or, like 1996 Brady Anderson, will he resort back to his usual below average power?  One thing is for certain – Bautista wonÕt sniff any votes for MVP in the 2011 season.

 

Rounding out the MVP voting are some names that will likely see this list again.  Joey Votto had an unbelievable year for the Robots, but questions are emerging whether this elite talent will, like Pujols, waste his career JLB years on a team that appears destined for mediocrity.  Felix Hernandez I will discuss below, but he appears to be happy in his new home in Fairfax.  Josh Hamilton was able to stay clean for an entire year, and even though he put up MVP type numbers hitting a whopping .358 with 32 homers, he sat out the entire month of September for a collapsing Clifton team.  Hanley Ramirez was his usual studly self, and look for him to explode in 2011 as he plays for a new contract as he hits free agency for the first time after the season.  Vlad Guerrero drank from the fountain of youth in the first half of the season as he was one of JLBÕs top hitters, but faded badly after the All Star break.  After a serious bout with alcohol poisoning and domestic abuse late in the 2009 season, Miguel Cabrera laid off the booze for the entire 2010 season and showed JLB that even though he is a seasoned veteran, he is still only 27 and has many extremely productive years left as he hit .328 with 38 homers, 111 runs, and 126 RBI.  Brian McCann earned his first ever MVP vote as he finished the season as one of JLBÕs top ranked catchers.

 

Name                          1st        2nd       3rd       Total

Carlos Gonzalez         6         1         1           34

Albert Pujols               1         3                       14

Jose Bautista               1         1         2           10

Joey Votto                              2         1            7

Felix Hernandez          1                                    5      

Josh Hamilton                         1         2            5

Hanley Ramirez          1                                    5

Vladimir Guerrero                   1                        3

Miguel Cabrera                                   2            2

Brian McCann                                    1            1

 

 

Cy Young

 

Roy Halladay, Reston Roundabouts

250.2 IP, 21 Wins, 219 K, 2.44 ERA, 1.04 WHIP

 

2nd:  Felix Hernandez, Fairfax Firemen

3rd:  Adam Wainwright, Oakton Outlaws

 

This yearÕs Cy Young race featured an extremely tight vote between last offseasonÕs two biggest free agent pitchers – Roy Halladay and Felix Hernandez.  Even though both pitchers were signed to immensely large contracts, both pitchers somehow managed to exceed expectations during their first year with their new teams.  Both pitchers were the aces of staffs that were brilliant throughout the year.  In the end, however, only one winner emerged.  In a nod to the extent with which JLB further mirrors MLB, the Cy Young award goes to Roy Halladay.  A simple comparison of HalladayÕs win total compared to King FelixÕs tells the story: Halladay had 21 wins, while Felix lagged far behind with only 13.  And every win mattered, as HalladayÕs team, the Reston Roundabouts, crept into a tie for third place on the last day of the season due to its wins, tying with another third place team, the Clifton Clams, for 10.5 standings points. 

These two extraordinary pitchers, however, were very similar in most other regards this year.  Halladay led the league with 250.2 innings pitched.  Hernandez had 249.2.  Halladay had 219 strikeouts, third in JLB, while Hernandez won the category with 232.  Halladay had a 2.44 ERA and 1.04 WHIP.  FelixÕs numbers were 2.27 and 1.06.  Both pitchers played for teams that tied for third place.  And neither pitcher appears to be slowing down, as they both put together career seasons in their new homes.  Look for their names to be right at the top of this ballot for the 2011 season.

The third place vote getter was Adam Wainwright, who put together a spectacular 20-win season for Oakton with 213 Ks, a 2.42 ERA, and 1.05 WHIP.  Wainwright was asked to carry a heavy load this year as ace of the Oakton staff, and he did not disappoint.  The back end of OaktonÕs staff had major issues, and Wainwright, on more than a handful of occasions, stepped in to stop OaktonÕs losing streak.  Had Oakton finished higher in the standings, perhaps Wainwright could have challenged for the Cy Young, as his numbers were nearly identical to the two leading vote getters.  There are rumors that Oakton might be looking to shop Wainwright after the 2011 season even though Wainwright is still under team control through 2012.  This makes 2011 a big year for Wainwright, not just because he is the undisputed ace on a team that is competing for The Joe, but also to prove to other teams that he is worthy of a lengthy contract extension should he get moved to a new franchise.

 

Ubaldo Jimenez finished fourth in the voting, having an untouchable first half of the season with an ERA under 2 and WHIP under 1.  However, he faded down the stretch, as did Clifton.  Jimenez single handedly cost Clifton second place in the standings with his selfish antics during his last outing of the season.  Wanting to end the season with at least 215 strikeouts, Jimenez selfishly went back out for one inning more than GM Jon Lasken wanted, thus putting Clifton over the innings maximum and costing the team valuable standings points.  Sadly, Jimenez also finished with only 214 Ks.

 

Jered Weaver and Cole Hamels both had outstanding comeback years, as many thought their JLB careers were in decline after disappointing 2009s.  Billy Wagner absolutely dominated JLB hitters in his last year in the League, with 37 saves and a whopping 104Ks between two teams. He will be missed, as he has officially filed his retirement papers.  Heath Bell had a solid year in Fairfax with 45 saves, and Tim Hudson and Roy Oswalt both found the fountain of youth as they reverted back to their 2003 form with solid seasons.  Josh Johnson is likely a name we will see on this list in the future, but his outstanding season was cut short due to arm troubles.  We hope he makes a full recovery this offseason.

 

Name                          1st        2nd       3rd       Total

Roy Halladay              4         2                        26

Felix Hernandez          3         3                        24

Adam Wainwright       2         1                        13

Ubaldo Jimenez                      2         2            8

Jered Weaver               1                     1            6

Cole Hamels                            1                        3

Billy Wagner                                       2            2

Heath Bell                                           1            1

Tim Hudson                                        1            1

Roy Oswalt                                        1            1

Josh Johnson                                      1            1

 

 

Rookie of the Year

 

Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Falls Church Foxes

90 R, 30 HR, 96 RBI, 22 SB, .349 AVG

 

2nd:  Clayton Kershaw, SP, Centreville 66ers

3rd:   David Price, SP, Falls Church Foxes

 

In addition to winning his first JLB MVP award, Carlos Gonzalez comes away with this yearÕs Rookie of the Year Award in a runaway vote.  This is an ominous sign for the rest of JLB.  As Gonzalez carries both pieces of massive hardware around this offseason, his upper body muscles will only strengthen, allowing him the capability to hit over 50 home runs in the years to come while still maintaining the swiftness in his legs to propel him to 25 stolen bases.  Only once before in the history of sports has a human being gone 50/25. (Wilt ChamberlainÕs 1961-2 season was the other, for all you sports fans out there)  Thanks to his massive trophy haul this offseason, Gonzalez in 2011 could be the second.

Finishing second in this yearÕs ROTY voting was Clayton Kershaw.  Drafted by the Annandale Ants in 2006, Kershaw was always a very highly touted prospect.  Being brought up in the same system that produced studs such as King Felix, Jose Reyes, Ryan Howard, and Ryan Braun only helped KershawÕs development, and in 2010 he was finally on full display at the JLB level.  The numbers were astounding.  Though Kershaw is only 22 years old, he posted amazing full season totals of a 2.91 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and a whopping 212 Ks. 

When it was rumored that Kershaw was being dangled by the 66ers earlier this offseason, many teams were immensely interested in this young southpaw.  Widely considered to be one of the elite pitchers in JLB, Kershaw has five years left under team control.  In the end, however, Kershaw was destined for only one place – Falls Church.  Kershaw told his agent that he Ņwanted to play for a winnerÓ, and that he wanted to play for a GM who Ņknew what it took to winÓ and ŅwasnÕt afraid to make the necessary moves.Ó  This eliminated lesser organizations such a Great Falls and the Reston franchises, and when Kershaw insisted on playing on a team that had Ņa fun clubhouse atmosphereÓ where Ņwomen came and went as they pleasedÓ, it was clear only one owner provided such amenities for his players – Carlton Davis. 

The match between Kershaw and Davis seems like one made in heaven.  Davis has long been known as a prospect guru and for years has coveted Kershaw.  Coming off of two consecutive JLB titles where he had the best pitching in the league, Davis has only strengthened his staff by adding this young and chiseled ace.  Kershaw gains the advantage of having no pressure on him by sliding into the 5th starter role, and can learn from the FoxesÕ grizzled veterans.  While Kershaw is no longer eligible for any ROTY votes, expect to see his name atop Cy Young and MVP leaderboards for the next several years.

Finishing third in this yearÕs Rookie of the Year voting was David Price.  Though Price only pitched for the month of September in Falls Church, he was the key piece to Falls ChurchÕs title run as they made a huge September comeback.  In one month alone, Price put up astounding numbers of 3 wins, 26 Ks, and a ridiculous 1.22 ERA and 0.78 WHIP.  And oh yeah - whatÕs that, you might be asking yourself?  Gonzalez, Kershaw, and Price all now play for Falls Church?  Well thatÕs right.   Giddyup, bitches!  My team is going to be good for a long time.

Others receiving Rookie of the Year votes included Colby Rasmus, who began to fulfill his five-tool potential during his first season in JLB - unfortunately, Great Falls GM woefully misplayed Rasmus and only accumulated a fraction of his possible stats; John Axford, who was a ridiculous mid-season signing for Fairfax, accumulating 8 wins and 22 saves with outstanding peripherals; Andres Torres, who overperformed for Great Falls; Clay Buchholz, who busted onto the scene for Sterling and promises to be a mainstay in his rotation for years to come; Drew Stubbs, who in only one month with Falls Church hit .329 with 6 homers and 5 stolen bases; Angel Pagan, who tied for second in Clifton with 19 stolen bases; and Simon Castro, a late-season callup for Clifton who cost the team some precious cash and only contributed 1 RBI in eight at bats.

Name                          1st        2nd       3rd       Total

Carlos Gonzalez         6         1         1           34

Clayton Kershaw        1         3         2           16

David Price                 1         1                        8

Colby Rasmus                        1         1            6

John Axford                            2                        6

Andres Torres             1                                    5

Clay Buchholz                                    4            4

Drew Stubbs                           1                        3

Angel Pagan                            1                        3      

Simon Castro                                      1            1

 

 

Mike Durgala GM of the Year

 

Dan Hausman, Reston Roundabouts

 

2nd:  Carlton Davis, Falls Church Foxes

3rd:   Jon Lasken, Clifton Clams

 

The 2011 Mike Durgala General Manager of the Year Award goes to Dan Hausman.  In a close vote, Hausman deservedly wins the award for engineering a dramatic late season comeback to finish in the money for the 2011 season.  JLBÕs winningest GM, with 4 titles, Dan Hausman has shown he has not yet lost it.

 Despite struggling to adapt to JLBÕs new era of free agency – the Roundabouts have won only once since free agencyÕs inception, after its first year, and they have finished out of the money for two consecutive years until this year - Hausman deftly maneuvered his roster to a third place this year.  Not once during the last two months of the season were the Roundabouts in a money position until the day it counted – the last day of the season.  During the last week of the season, Hausman manipulated his pitching staff by finishing well over the maximum innings allowed, and spent resources to call up Gio Gonzalez for just one start – a start that resulted in seven shutout innings and a crucial Win.

Finishing in a tie for third, however, began well before the season started for the Roundabouts.  Hausman built his roster for speed, runs, average, and pitching.  He tied for the most pitching points in the league, and finished second in stolen bases only to the 11th place Starfish.  He knew his team would be lacking in HR and RBI, and instead of spending fruitless money chasing those categories, took his lumps and focused on his strengths.  He signed Roy Halladay to the most expensive per-year contract in JLB history; Halladay responded by winning the Cy Young award.  He traded for crappy closers (helping him in 2011, as well) and other key players, and somehow also managed to accumulate a wealth of future draft picks.  Hausman is well deserving of the 2010 Mike Durgala award. 

With difficult competition facing the Roundabouts in 2011, what will GM Dan Hausman do for an encore?  In the words of fellow GM JD Moss, ŅHausman always has something up his sleeve.Ó  Stay tuned to see if the Roundabouts can be a repeat money finisher in 2011.

The second place vote total for the Mike Durgala Award goes to the author of this report.  Rather than expounding on what a great GM I am – I will let the results speak for themselves – I will defend attacks from others who say I have made bad moves, missed obvious signings, and failed to trade players when their values are at a peak.  The Great One once said ŅYou miss 100% of the shots you donÕt take.Ó  IÕve made plenty of good moves as GM, and IÕve made some bad ones.  But the fact is I have made the moves.  I havenÕt sat around and twiddled my thumbs when things got tough.  I went out and acquired the players to get it done.  Michael Jordan was trusted to take the game winning shot dozens of times in his career, but twenty six of those times he missed.  Nobody remembers those misses.  Instead, we remember his six rings at the expense of the Byron Russells and Craig Ehlos of the world.  So, too, will the world remember my JLB titles at the expense of the JD Mosses and Mike Keenans.

The third place finisher for the Mike Durgala Award, for the second year in a row, goes to Jon Lasken of the Clifton Clams.  For five and a half months this season, Lasken defied all expectations as his team absolutely dominated the rest of JLB.  He maintained a double digit lead over the second place team late into the summer.  In the end, however, his roster construction caught up to him as he was unable to rely on some much-needed depth when his star players got hurt.  LaskenÕs misuse of his pitching staff late in the season (as described in the beginning of this report) ultimately cost Lasken sole possession of 2nd place and put him into a three-way tie at 3rd place.  This no doubt cost Lasken some Mike Durgala votes.   

One side note to LaskenÕs third place finish: there was some confusion as to the parameters for voting on this award.  While it was widely assumed that the award was for the 2010 season, a few GMs voted strictly on a previous ruling that the GMÕs body of work was from October 1 of the previous season to October 1 of the current season.  Given that the 2010 JLB season ended on October 3rd, and LaskenÕs poor managerial decisions on his pitching staff occurred on October 2nd, this perhaps influenced LaskenÕs vote total for this award one way or the other.  Perhaps in the future this clarification will be resolved, though given that the ClamsÕ collapse was a once-in-a-century event, it is unlikely these dates will ever factor into Mike Durgala Award voting ever again in the future.

Mike Keenan garnered his first first-place Mike Durgala vote ever this season.  KeenanÕs vote is well-deserved as he navigated his team to a tie due to several strong mid-season decisions.  JD Moss finishes in 4th place for helping his team climb out from mediocrity, but fellow GMs were smart enough to recognize the wasted opportunities Moss had this year by not giving him a single first place vote.  Oddly, Dan Fleeter earned his first Mike Durgala vote ever.  IÕd like to lend some support for this vote, but I canÕt, so perhaps somebody simply filled in the wrong hole on the ballot.  Or, perhaps, they gave Fleeter the vote for recognizing that he should be saving all of his assets for the 2011 offseason where he goes on a spending spree, acquires premium talent, and kicks everybodyÕs butt in 2012.  Time will tell.

Name                          1st        2nd       3rd       Total

Dan Hausman             5         2         2           33

Carlton Davis              4         2         2           28

Jon Lasken                              3         2           11
Mike Keenan              1                     1            6

JD Moss                                 1         1            4

Dan Fleeter                                         1            1

 

 

Team Capsules

 

1st Place:        Falls Church Foxes, 90 points (37.5 hitting, 52.5 pitching)

 

Well, this season went as planned - winning another title while giving up minimal assets.  Things donÕt get much better than that.

 

What Went Right: I trusted my instincts.  When everybody else was giving me crap for making bad signings or making bad managerial decisions, I just sat there and took it, knowing I had a plan, and knowing I just had to stick to it.  Look whoÕs laughing now.

 

What Went Wrong:  Well, letÕs see.  My starting 1B missed half the season with a concussion.  My starting SS played in only 88 games while hitting only .244.  My starting LF also missed half the season with a concussion.  My starting 2B played in only 103 games while experiencing a massive power outage.  My starting CF missed the month of May.  My stud 3B tried to eat himself out of the League, while the pot-smoking ace of my staff decided to get shelled for two months.  And somehow, I still managed to kick everybodyÕs butt.

 

2011 Outlook: Come and get me, bitches.

 

2nd Place:        Great Falls Grenades, 83.5 points (43 hitting, 40.5 pitching)

 

Somehow, Great Falls survived another year of mismanagement by GM JD Moss.  Moss made a big offseason trade for Mark Teixeira and it paid off.  Smart offseason signings (no, this is not a joke) and another year of smart drafting (no, this is not a joke either) not only has Great Falls as an elite team moving forward, but also gives it one of the elite farm systems in the game.  Great Falls never quite could get to the 90 point mark this year, though.  A lackluster spring was erased by a huge late summer, but once early fall rolled around, the Grenades were unable to slip by a faltering Clifton squad for the victory.  A 2nd place finish has provided a great deal of optimism in this sleepy town, however.  Season ticket sales are already up 284% over last year, as young Grenades fans finally feel they have something worthwhile to blow their trust funds on.  As a result, extremely enhanced team revenues have allowed this notoriously stingy owner to, for a change, actually break out the wallet and sign some free agents.

 

What Went Right: For a change, more went right for wrong for the Grenades!  The in-season signing of Jose Bautista proved to be nothing less than a resounding success.  The offseason trade for Mark Teixeira was brilliant, as the squad gave up mere prospects to create the most formidable lineup in the League.  The Grenades also swung a mid-season trade for Nick Swisher, who mashed once he got to the smaller confines of Great Falls.  The farm system also had a great year, as young pitchers Michael Pineda and Mat Latos took major strides forward, providing much optimism and enthusiasm for the future in Great Falls.

 

What Went Wrong: A devastating blow to Stephen StrasburgÕs elbow caused him to miss the last month of the AA season, and he will miss the entire 2011 season.  Though Moss has shipped out Strasburg in an offseason trade, the GM was no doubt hoping Strasburg could lead the staff in 2011 and beyond.  The Grenades were also crushed by the injury bug, as star offseason acquisition Chase Utley hit the DL for awhile, and former stud Grady Sizemore decided to have major surgery.  The SS position, a weak link on Opening Day for the Grenades, never became established.  Through injuries and roster mismanagement, Great Falls missed a huge chance at possibly winning The Joe in 2010.

 

2011 Outlook:  DonÕt putz up.  The Grenades are an easy lock to finish in the top two.

 

T-3rd Place:    Fairfax Firemen, 81.5 points (32.5 hitting, 49 pitching)

 

Seeing the window close on its opportunity to carry The Joe for the first time, Fairfax went for broke in 2010 and it came up short.  Many seasons of pedophilia and drafting of only 16-year old Latin kids has produced nothing more than two 3rd place finishes for Fairfax.  The young pups have either grown old or have been busts, and there is little Fairfax can do about it now.  The offseason signing of Francisco Liriano, who hoped to resurrect his career with the Firemen, turned out to be prudent, though he was not the elite arm that GM Mike Keenan had hoped after the DominicanÕs strong winter season. 

 

Give Keenan credit, though, for trying desperately to maximize his opportunity.  He made several strong midseason signings, has signed free agents he absolutely had to sign, and has made moves to increase the current squad at the expense of the future.  He went all out in 2010 and the result was 3rd place.  He is going to go all out again in 2011.  Expect similar results.

 

What Went Right:  Fairfax hit a home run with its biggest offseason signing of Felix Hernandez, and hit a grand slam with its stellar midseason signing of John Axford.  FairfaxÕs training staff did a superb job of keeping injuries at bay, losing only 2B Dustin Pedroia to extended time.  Fairfax also had a keen midseason signing of youngster Travis Wood, who contributed to the pitching staff.  While the Firemen faded a little bit at the end of the season, things ran rather smoothly with relatively normal production throughout the lineup and minimal time lost to injury.

 

What Went Wrong: Its biggest injury to Dustin Pedroia hurt the Firemen hard as Pedroia was having a career year up to that point.  Fairfax also vastly overpaid for Alfredo Simon, who, if Keenan had actually been watching the games where Simon pitched, would have stayed a million miles away.  Not surprisingly, Simon got hurt, lost the closerÕs role, and to top it off, has been accused of murder this offseason in his home country of the Dominican Republic.

 

2011 Outlook: If the injury bug hits, Fairfax is done.  Absent that, they have an elite squad.

 

T-3rd Place:    Clifton Clams, 81.5 points (46 hitting, 35.5 pitching)

 

Clifton entered the season, like it does every season, with superoveroptimism and hopes of its first JLB title.  This year, however, things were different.  Despite going over the salary cap and running up against its cash totals, GM Jon Lasken had actually put together a pretty serious squad.  Zack Greinke was coming off his first Cy Young season, Honey Bun Cabrera had spent his first offseason completely sober, and Josh Hamilton was another year removed from shooting himself up.  Once Opening Day rolled around, the season started off strong for Clifton as everybody was performing spectacularly.  As the summer dragged on, Clifton maintained its place atop the standings.

 

But all was not meant to be.  This was also the season that Lasken got engaged.  Feeling he had the Joe locked up, he instead turned his attention to higher priorities and something that required more maintenance – his fiancˇe.  This turned out to be a costly mistake.  According to the GM, injuries to the squad Ņlost all of [his] ability to manage.Ó  In reality, a team that had a strong starting squad but little in the way of depth had met its match.  Jon had no replacements for his starting studs, and despite his best efforts, the squad tumbled at the end of the year.  ItÕs not like the fans in Clifton havenÕt waited enough, so whatÕs another year?

 

What Went Right:  Clifton had career years up and down the board.  Josh Hamilton, Miguel Cabrera, and Ubaldo Jimenez all had unbelievable years that will likely never be seen from those players again.  LaskenÕs savvy signing of aging Tim Hudson in the offseason paid off, and Clifton made a move to get the overperforming Brett Myers, who continued his overperformance in Clifton.  Lasken continues to maximize his playersÕ talent, as he is one of the hardest working JLB GMs.  Clifton also drafted an elite prospect into their system, as Manny Machado is the first real prospect Clifton has been excited about for a long time.

 

What Went Wrong: While Lasken will say injuries sunk his squad, in reality, the Clams were extremely thin to begin the year, thus limiting LaskenÕs ability to maneuver on the fly.  The injury bug hit Clifton with Ryan Howard and Josh Hamilton both missing a month.  Perhaps more importantly, the pitching staff was depleted with top closer Joe Nathan missing the entire year, and Jake Peavy missing several months.  The Clifton training staff had better hope it performs better for the 2011 season.

 

2011 Outlook: Clifton will come short of winning the title, but will finish in the money.

 

T-3rd Place:    Reston Roundabouts, 81.5 points (29 hitting, 52.5 pitching)

 

HausmanÕs strategy at the beginning of the year paid off handsomely the last weekend of the season.  He focused on pitching, and left the power aspect of the offense out of the equation.  Hoping to get lucky that there would only be a couple of elite teams and an otherwise weak field, he wanted to sneak into the money, and he did, culminating with a third place tie on the last day of the season.  Savvy in-season moves helped Hausman get there, and his is an example of creating a strategy and sticking to it.  Too often managers grow restless and deviate from their plan of attack.  Hausman knew better, and in the end, was rewarded with a third place tie.

 

Hausman, however, has had some difficulty adjusting to free agency.  Prior to the League transition, from 2003 to 2005 the Roundabouts finished in 1st, 1st, and 2nd.  Once free agency rolled around, Hausman finished 1st in the first year and 3rd in its second year, with largely the same squad he had before the transition.  Ever since transition contracts started expiring, the Roundabouts have fared poorly.  Consecutive seasons of finishing 5th and then 10th, followed by a lucky backdoor tie for 3rd, has many questioning whether Dan is cut out for the modern era.  His strategy seems odd, considering he is competing for the money, but not the championship.  I, for one, fully expect him to bounce back and begin threatening for The Joe once again.  All powers go through their down times, and it is impossible to stay on top for long, with everybody giving you their best shot.  If the Roundabouts ever return to the top of the standings isnÕt the question.  The question is when.  It wonÕt be 2011, but it likely wonÕt be long after that.

 

What Went Right: Roy Halladay somehow proved to be worth every penny he was signed for at the beginning of the season.  The Roundabouts were blessed with a career season from Billy Wagner, and other closer signings turned out to be fruitful.  Free agent Martin Prado far exceed expectations.  Hausman was also successful in accumulating future assets (e.g. PittsburghÕs 2011 closers) and in trading expiring assets he no longer needed late in the year (e.g. Lyon and Wagner).  The Roundabouts also had very few injuries to speak of throughout the year.  To be sure, luck played a major role in the RoundaboutsÕ season, but in the end, they pursued a strategy that paid off.

 

What Went Wrong: The strategy pursued by Hausman is one that is not likely to result in first place finishes any time soon.  His team has no power moving into the future, and he has shown an unwillingness to spend on any hitting.  Will the fans, used to titles from years past, grow restless with the owner seemingly content to compete for the money, and not compete for championships?

 

2011 Outlook: With a lack of punch in the offense, the Roundabouts are shooting for another 3rd place finish, max.  Look for them to miss out on the money entirely.

 

6th Place:        Reston Robots, 71 points (40.5 hitting, 30.5 pitching)

 

The Robots climbed to their highest finish yet under GM Matt Hausman, finishing in 6th place.  Though the squad was a distant 6th behind the three way tie for third, even as late as mid-August the Robots were knocking on the door of fourth place.  Little Hausman had a strong year of in-season managing as he traded for Brandon Lyon at the deadline in hopes of keeping his solid 12 points in the saves category.  He acquired mediocre, but cheap and available, starting pitching to round out his staff.  Although ultimately the Robots finished in 6th and came up well short of the money, this valiant effort is a sign of things to come.  Little Hausman is an extremely energetic and eager owner, and one that other GMs enjoy dealing with.  The wisdom of some of his decisions may be up for debate, but what is not up for debate is that he will do anything and everything in his power to improve the product that the Robots put on the field.

 

What Went Right: Carl Crawford continued his dominating play on offense, and Joey Votto absolutely broke out.  These two will form the core of the Reston lineup for years.  Jayson Werth had a strong season, but he was lost due to free agency.  Billy Butler continued to develop.  Reston wanted to win saves at all costs and was successful, getting a 12 in the category.  The Robots had an outstanding Amateur draft, focusing on high upside high school arms that will reap rewards in 2014 and beyond. 

 

What Went Wrong: Reston finished in 6th place, the worst possible place to finish this year due to the tie, finishing out of the money with the worst possible draft pick.  The team traded for Chone Figgins, who looks to be terrible and a waste of money for 2011.  Mark ReynoldsÕ hit only .207 with only 7 stolen bases, and James Shields and Ryan Dempster, both starters the Robots relied on heavily, were terrible.

 

2011 Outlook: A five place increase from Õ09 to Õ10 spells optimism in Reston.  Look for the Robots to meet some resistance in continuing their upward trend.

 

7th Place:        Oakton Outlaws, 70.5 points (43 hitting, 27.5 pitching)

 

A roster filled with so much elite talent has no business finishing in 7th place, but such was the fate of the 2010 Oakton Outlaws.  Perhaps owner Josh Bertman spent too much time preparing for his upcoming engagement, because he did not devote the attention necessary to put a formidable squad in contention.  As is the case nearly every year, OaktonÕs stacked roster started off the season strong, leading the League as late as mid-May.  The annual Oakton Summer Swoon inevitably hit, however, as the lineup often went days without being touched, key matchups were not exploited, and hitters and pitchers alike ended up on the bench.  I can safely speak for the rest of the League when I say that if Bertman shapes up next year and more proactively monitors his squad, his chance of hoisting The Joe will be very high.  The Joe is not won during the cold winter months.  Rather, hard work on the field is necessary.  While Bertman puts in the hard work in the conference rooms in January and February, he spends too much time focusing on his scouting work over the summer, in hopes of luring premiere talent to the Oakton organization, to effectively manage his squad.  It will be interesting to see whether or not the 2011 season brings more of the same in Oakton, or whether changes are in store.

 

What Went Right: Oakton had incredible offensive players on its roster this year, as it had eight hitters that finished the year amongst the top 25 hitters in all of JLB.  (Cano, Konerko, Beltre, Tulowitzki, Holliday, Longoria, Choo, and Pence)  Adam Wainwright had a dominating year, and Dan Haren finished the year strong, promising good things for 2011.  Oakton was also relatively injury-free, and had a massive haul of eight picks in an amateur draft for which Bertman spent months scouting.

 

What Went Wrong: Despite the offensive talent Oakton accumulated, its GM again let much of that talent go to waste, sitting on the bench and not properly inserting the guys into the lineup.  While much of this can easily be blamed on BertmanÕs travel schedule, often going days and sometimes a week at a time with nothing more than a Blackberry at his disposal, the fact remains that Bertman could outsource the day-to-day management during these times, or simply learn to adjust his lineup on the Blackberry. 

 

2011 Outlook:  Oakton has oodles of talent.  The GM just needs to make it all come together.

 

8th Place:        Arlington Arsenal, 66 points, (35.5 hitting, 30.5 pitching)

 

Arlington entered the season with extremely high hopes, coming off a 3rd place finish in 2010 and bolstering its pitching staff in the offseason.  These hopes were soon dashed early in spring training when it found out Brian Roberts would be out indefinitely, and Jacoby Ellsbury soon followed him to the disabled list.  Matt Kemp had some offseason domestic abuse problems, and the Arlington clubhouse seemed to be in shambles.  Perhaps Arlington management knew this season was a lost cause, as GMs Brian Greenhalgh and Justin Warren went the last four months of the season without making a single move.  Sometimes inaction is the best strategy.  Simply knowing when to take your lumps, accepting reality, and moving forward is the sign of a maturing franchise.  That maturity, as well as the experience of being in a tight race for 2nd in 2009, will likely serve Arlington well as it moves into the future.

 

What Went Right: Young closer Chris Perez started to dominate JLB, and Craig Kimbrel is right behind him for 2011, tearing up AA.  Carlos Zambrano had a strong second half of the year in a possible turnaround, and Johan Santana, despite poor strikeout numbers, contributed great ratios.  Down on the farm, Carlos Santana absolutely tore up AA before he tore up his knee, and, expected to make a full recovery for 2011, should start tearing up JLB.

 

What Went Wrong: The Arsenal were ravaged with injuries this year up and down the lineup.  At the top of the lineup, sparkplugs Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian Roberts both missed well over half the season.  After setting a League record in 2009 in stolen bases, the Arsenal finished with only 3 standings points in the category in 2010.  Underperforming years by Gay-Rod, Jeter, and especially Matt Kemp also helped deflate the Arlington offense.  For a team built around offense, this spelled doom.

 

2011 Outlook: If the pitching works out, Arlington could place in the money.  DonÕt expect that to happen.

 

 9th Place:       Centreville 66ers, 55 points (28 hitting, 27 pitching)

 

The Sixers knew that 2010 would be the first of possibly several rebuilding years.  Except for Jose Reyes, the talent left over from the Ants has moved on, and it is finally time for owner Debdeep Maji to put his full stamp on the team.  After finishing 1st in 2008 and 2nd in 2009, 66ers management had few long term assets left to work with.  It sold off the few valuable short term pieces it had left, culminating in a trade reminiscent of the Celtics-Warriors 1980 trade where the Celtics acquired both Robert Parrish and the pick that later became Kevin McHale.  Centreville shipped an aging Ryan Howard to Clifton in return for a young and explosive Andre Ethier, future picks, and also prospects - a pillage of which even Alexander the Great would be proud.

 

Maji has also traded off the rest of his useful assets as he is in full scale rebuilding mode.  Look for the 2011 66ers to follow the path of the 2007 Foxes and the 2010 Starfish. 

 

What Went Right: Centreville management was smart enough to trade assets it did not need in the long term when those assets were at peak value.  Scott Rolen and Mike Napoli were both sent to Falls Church at the appropriate times, and Alfredo Simon and Howie Kendrick were both shuttled to Fairfax when the Firemen needed help.  Ricky Nolasco, Brett Myers, and Aubrey Huff were other Sixers who got shipped out to competing squads, as the Centreville GM did the best job it could on maximizing all of these returns.  The strategy was smart, as Maji accumulated as many picks and prospects as he could for mediocre and middling talent, knowing that it would only help the team in the long term.

 

What Went Wrong: Not much went wrong for Centreville this year, other than finishing in 9th place instead of lower in the standings and thus getting better draft picks.  The plan was to rebuild, and players were signed in the offseason and traded mid-season, just like the blueprint heading into the year. One could argue that Centreville continued its tradition of lackluster drafts with only a so-so AM and MLD draft, but that would be just nitpicking.

 

2011 Outlook:  The upcoming season will be one of development down on the farm for Centreville.  The skills the youngsters learn now will be the key to whether Centreville can fully rebuild.

 

10th Place:      Herndon Heroes, 40.5 points (23 hitting, 17.5 pitching)

 

Once one of JLBÕs most consistently strong franchises, Herndon limped to a 10th place finish this year after finishing in 6th in 2009.  GM Danny White made a valiant effort to stay out of the cellar as his dilapidated squad made some decent in-season moves with signings and trades.  Importantly, WhiteÕs farm system took a major step forward as Buster Posey busted out big time, and Mike Stanton continues to mash.  This season was not one of pure rebuilding for Herndon, however, as it kept its strongest assets, Carlos Marmol and David Wright, passing up several lucrative opportunities for trades.  Being at the bottom of the standings is something foreign to Herndon, so it is unknown how White will react.

 

What Went Right: The Heroes had a fantastic early season trade of the hot-hitting Paul Konerko, accumulating a top 5 overall AM pick.  Its young pups starting kicking some major butt, as Mike Stanton and Buster Posey are already tearing up the Major Leagues and look like complete forces to be reckoned with in JLB for many years.  Importantly, White kept payroll low and did a decent job mitigating standings points penalties during this rebuilding year, leaving the Herndon coffers with a great pile of cash, ready to spend whenever the owner sees fit.

 

What Went Wrong: Once the hallmark of Herndon baseball, the HeroesÕ pitching staff does not look great going forward.  They have minimal talent at the JLB level, and not much to be desired in the minors.  White failed to trade David Wright at the deadline, knowing full well that it would be tough to finish in the money for the 2011 season.  WrightÕs trade value has dropped dramatically as a result.  Questions linger as to whether White will be able to trade prospects for proven commodities once the Heroes climb back into contention.  The once touted up and coming GM will have to prove his mettle over the course of the next 12 months as the future of the once proud Heroes franchise is at stake.

 

2011 Outlook:  With only a halfhearted attempt to sign players this offseason, Herndon will come well short of finishing in the money.  2012 will be their year.

 

11th Place:      Sterling Starfish, 34 points (16 hitting, 18 pitching)

 

ŅAnd in every port I own the heart of at least one lonely girl.Ó  Though Ricky Nelson wrote those words more than 40 years ago, Sterling GM Chris McDonald lived them this year as he spent the entirety of the 2010 season on a boat traveling around the world with the United States Navy.  McDonald knew that his inattention to JLB would be a result of this tour abroad, and planned for 2010 to be another season of rebuilding.  Things went according to plan, as the product put out at the JLB level was abysmal, but the growth on the farm was enormous.

 

What Went Right: The Starfish strategy of playing to get a 12 in stolen bases worked out beautifully, as it led the League in the category while earning 1s in every other offensive category.  The fans in Sterling are happy knowing their GM can execute a plan, and simply hope that the plan will, one day, be to win.  Some of SterlingÕs top prospects took huge leaps forward this year, as studmuffins Jesus Montero, Mike Moustakas, Madison Bumgarner, and Bryce Harper all hope to be contributing by 2012.

 

What Went Wrong: Sterling probably didnÕt count on another team sucking as much as they did this year.  With the Roosters at the bottom of the standings, Sterling missed out on the #1 picks in the 2012 drafts.    McDonald spent most of the season in the middle of the ocean, so his ability to do anything in-season suffered severely.  Also, former uberprospect Angel Villalona is still not back in the U.S. even though he is free on bond from his murder case.  Villalona will likely never pick up a bat again.

 

2011 Outlook:  Upward momentum is a positive thing.  If Sterling can stay out of the cellar, look for a huge turnaround in 2012.

 

12th Place:      Reston Roosters, 25 points (16 hitting, 9 pitching)

 

The Roosters had another lackluster season in 2010, as it continued to be the only JLB franchise never to finish in the money.  The Roosters have some elite talent on their roster, with Adrian Gonzalez, Jon Lester, and Kevin Youkilis all near the top of their positional rankings.  Until GM Dan Fleeter decides to surround his elite talent with solid pieces, however, the Roosters donÕt look to be a threat any time soon.

 

The Roosters ended the season 200 innings under the inning limit, and 164 innings less than any other team.  This severely hampered the K and W categories for the Roosters, costing them millions of dollars in standings points penalties.  If Fleeter decides to do a full scale rebuild and commits himself, he has some elite assets that will command a bounty in return.  If he decides to make an attempt at building for the future, he has elite talent on the 40-man that are fantastic building blocks.  The question remains if he will ever be dedicated to either strategy.

 

What Went Right: Not much went right for the Roosters in 2010, but the offseason began with good news as 1B Adrian Gonzalez promises to put up better numbers in 2011.  The Roosters also used its first round AM pick on Chris Sale, who has already vaulted to the Major Leagues and promises to contribute heavily in 2011.

 

What Went Wrong:  Fleeter went on a month long trip to Africa in the middle of the season, and ended the season with only a single transaction.  The Roosters started their offseason with an odd trade of Shane Victorino, and offseason acquisition Aaron Hill could not repeat his 2009 season.  Further, Kevin YoukilisÕ season ended two months early due to injury, Lance Berkman had a career worst year, and George Sherrill collapsed in the bullpen. 

 

2011 Outlook:  With a sharp eye for in-season managing, the Roosters could make a run at 4th place.  DonÕt expect that to happen.

 

 

2011 Season Preview

 

The offseason and free agency are already well under way, and many interesting things have happened.  Falls Church of course is in the driverÕs seat for the 2011 season, swapping Matt Cain for #1 catcher Joe Mauer, and spinning a trade for Clayton Kershaw for mere prospects.  Not surprisingly, this makes Falls Church the team to beat, and at this point, no other owner seems committed to actually giving Falls Church a run for its money.

 

Despite finishing the season with 43 hitting points, Great Falls decided to upgrade its offense even further, trading for Ryan Braun, who is coming off his worst season ever, and signing the declining Derek Jeter to an overvalued contract.  He also inexplicably traded staff ace Chris Carpenter for prospects that likely wonÕt ever contribute at the JLB level in the future.  These are not signs of a GM who has faith in his teamÕs abilities, but instead signs of a person operating on a whim and making moves that cripple the future of the franchise with the hope of simply getting lucky with a miracle season.  Sorry JD.  No miracles here.  2011 is a big year for the GrenadesÕ farm system though, and by August we should know how long the window is open for the Grenades to pretend to compete for the Joe.  Further development of guys like Freddy Freebad, Lonnie Chisensuck, Dustin Badley, and Dersuck Norris will be pivotal in the upcoming season.

 

The Fairfax Firemen have teetered on the edge of bankruptcy this offseason, but have come away with the offseasonÕs biggest prize: Mark Teixeira.  Tex is a personal favorite of mine, and I feel he will have a monster season in Fairfax, much the way King Felix did in his first season with the squad last year.  Will his presence be enough to push Fairfax over the top?  Likely not, as Fairfax has basically zero assets after trading away its picks and prospects and has no financial flexibility to make a move if anything happens mid-season.  This is the last chance for Fairfax to make a mark for several seasons.  DonÕt look for Keenan to try shopping Hanley midseason if things are going south.  HeÕs going to do what it takes to finish in the money.  I know I am rooting for him.

 

Clifton has made several strategic signings this offseason but has mainly stayed quiet.  The team carries four catchers, but its middle infield is lacking, as is its depth on the pitching staff.  Jon Lasken will somehow find a way to move his team into the money though with savvy midseason signings.

 

The Roundabouts have no shot at finishing in the upper half of the money as their offensive upside is severely limited.  Dan Hausman has sat by idly as all the big bats signed elsewhere during free agency, and the best he can hope for is third place.  His team is not as talented as several others, however, and will come up short of this goal.  Questions about HausmanÕs all-pitching strategy have emerged, and depending on how the squad finishes in 2011, he might have to severely overhaul his roster for 2012.

 

The Robots are one of the offseasonÕs biggest winners.  The team traded for ace Chris Carpenter and signed last yearÕs Cy Young award winner Zack Greinke in free agency.  The staffÕs front three is as formidable as any other in JLB.  However, I still have questions about the teamÕs offense, and depending on how Matt Hausman manipulates the last two spots in the rotation, I can see the pitching not being as strong as otherwise thought.

 

Undoubtedly the biggest winner of the Hot Stove League this year is the Oakton Outlaws.  Even though the Outlaws oddly traded Hunter Pence for prospects, Oakton has already signed Ryan Howard, Mariano Rivera, and Brad Lidge, shoring up huge holes in its roster.  Oakton easily boasts one of the LeagueÕs all around best teams on paper.  Until Josh Bertman can overcome the knock on his day to day managing, however, Oakton will remain a team in the middle of the pack.  But if Bertman steps up, donÕt be surprised to see Oakton finish in the top two. 

 

The Arlington Arsenal have made some minor tweaks to its roster, improving its pitching staff with the acquisition of Matt Cain.  However, the rest of the team (especially A-Rod and B-Rob) is aging, and barring a comeback year from Matt Kemp, I donÕt expect to see Arlington get lucky and finish in the money.  I am pulling hard for them, however.

 

The 66ers decided to put themselves in full rebuilding mode this offseason, trading both Ryan Braun and Clayton Kershaw, arguably JLBÕs most valuable asset.  While I question the wisdom of this move, there is little doubt that the return was nothing less than spectacular.  With no elite players anywhere near its roster, expect Centreville to finish near the bottom of the standings in 2011.

 

Herndon was done a great favor this offseason by being outbid for Ryan Howard and Zack Greinke.  Herndon is likely not going to sniff the money this year, so it had better save its resources for next offseasonÕs frenzy, while giving its young studs one more year to properly season.  Herndon has made some nice smaller signings, and the team should be vastly improved over the 2010 product.

 

Sterling is starting to build for the future, dipping its toes into the free agent waters by locking up some smaller long term contracts at affordable prices.  Its GM is finally stateside and ready to rock and roll.  At this time next year, Sterling and Herndon will be going at it during free agency, and itÕs anybodyÕs guess who will come out a winner.  The pups on the farm will be in The Show and both teams will have oodles of money to spend.  It will be fun to watch.

 

The Roosters continue to befuddle the rest of JLB with their lack of interest and long term or short term plan.  Perhaps Dan Fleeter is waiting one more year to make an enormous splash, but that seems unlikely.  Regardless, the Roosters have put together a rather feisty 2011 roster with some savvy and underrated free agent signings, and with strong in-season management could be an interesting team to watch.

 

Based on the aforementioned discussions, here are my predictions for the 2011 season:

 

1st:       Falls Church Foxes

2nd:      Great Falls Grenades

3rd:       Clifton Clams

4th:       Oakton Outlaws

5th:       Reston Roundabouts

6th:       Fairfax Firemen

7th:       Arlington Arsenal

8th:       Reston Robots

9th:       Reston Roosters

10th:     Herndon Heroes

11th:     Sterling Starfish

12th:     Centreville 66ers

 

See you all again next year.  Same place, same time, same author of this report.