2012 JLB Winter Report

By J.D. Moss

Great Falls Grenades

 

The Standings

1.     Great Falls Grenades*                                    103

2.     Centreville 66ers                                             93

3.     Clifton Claims                                                 91

4.     Falls Church Foxes                                         83

5.     Alexandria Alleycats                                       73

6.     Reston Roundabouts                                      68

7.     Arlington Arsenal                                           67.5

8.     Herndon Heroes                                              58

9.     Sterling Starfish                                               57.5

10.  Manassas Manatees                                       54

11.  Reston Robots                                                            21

12.  Fairfax Firemen                                               11

 

*Denotes 2001& 2011 champion

 

The new dynasty. In thirteen short months, Great Falls has gone from perennial underachiever to arguably the leagueÕs flagship franchise. Back-to-back titles has JLB fever rocking in Great Falls and unlike last year, it wasnÕt even close. The Grenades pulled away from the pack with a feverish last three weeks. On September 7, the 66ers led the Grenades by 3 points, 98-95. The Grenades pulled away to a decisive 10 point victory.

 

As written in the 2011 report – ŌThis was a title team with a healthy Howard, an active Braun and Latos in San Diego. Now they will need to pull a rabbit out of their hats.Ķ The rabbit was half Chase Headley and half-Aaron Hill. Dan Hausman was baffled when GM J.D. Moss didnÕt grab Edwin Encarnacion or Ryan Zimmerman, but Moss thought he knew what he was doing. Turns out he did, and Headley was the difference maker. In 50 games in Great Falls, he went 37-15-54-6-.321. Moss thought he was getting that kind of player for half of those games, but Headley was better than even he expected. It was a tradeoff for Becca too, as J.D.Õs tinkering and focus on fantasy paid off for $1600 in profit, but the Joe is forced to remain on the Moss household mantle.

 

2012 presented some evidence of the changing of the guard as two new franchises entered the JLB family in Manassas and Alexandria. The Starfish and 66ers continued their ascent up the standings, poised to duplicate the epic Grenades-Foxes duels of the past four years. Meanwhile, to the happiness of Sheila Leonard, the sun showed signs of setting in Falls Church, triggering an offseason rebuild. Fresh blood in Alexandria gave the fans a reason to cheer for 4 months of the year, but the result was the same for the only franchise to never be in the money. The Clams proved 2010 was no fluke. And the Robots and Firemen managed to set new records of futility.

 

Not everything was new though – the Joe remained in one of its five past homes (interestingly enough, four organizations have combined to win 11 of the 12 titles). Dan Hausman turned over his whole roster. The Outlaws loaded up in the offseason, looked the part of a title contender, and then fell apart as the season went. Oh, wait. That was the Manatees. Hmm. Awkward.

 

Looking forward, thereÕs a lot to be excited about in 2013 in what portends to be an eight team league. The Grenades look for the elusive three-peat that will cement them as the best franchise of the free agent era. The 66ers return the entire roster from a injury-ravaged team that still finished with 90+ points. The Roundabouts and their free-spending ways makes them a favorite to jump back into the money. The Starfish reenter the picture for the first team in a half-decade. And the Arsenal push for third place to even up the gentlemanÕs agreement with Clifton.

 

There is plenty of time to look forward, but we write this report to look back, so letÕs do that. They say some things are better the second time around, but writing this report in not one of them, so thereÕs more brevity and less creativity in this yearÕs version.

 

AWARDS

 

Most Valuable Player: Ryan  Braun, GF (108 R, 41 HR, 112 RBI, 30 SB, .320 AVG)

 

Ryan Braun

3

1

2

20

Andrew McCutchen

1

3

3

17

Miguel Cabrera

1

2

2

13

Adrian Beltre

2

1

13

Derek Jeter

2

1

13

Melky Cabrera

1

5

Chase Headley

1

5

Robby Cano

1

5

Edwin Encarnacion

1

3

Fernando Rodney

1

3

Mike Trout

1

3

R.A. Dickey

1

1

Allen Craig

1

1

Curtis Granderson

1

1

Buster Posey

1

1

 

**Shyam Das actually received one first place vote**

 

A super tight battle – in fact, until the final ballot came in for Braun (with McCutchen second), MVP could have been had by any of the top five guys. Braun (aided by Shyam Das) was an absolute monster and led Great Falls to the title as the top-rated Yahoo! player to be a JLB regular. Miguel CabreraÕs triple crown year had 44 homers and 139 RBIs! McCutchen hit 30 HRs, with 20 steals and a .328 average in a breakout year. Adrian Beltre stayed healthy and hit 34 HRs with a .322 averageÉ.in a non-free agent year.

 

Arguably more important for Great Falls, though, were three other guys who got first place vote – Headley, Cabrera and Jeter. A steroids-aided Melky was on pace for 124-17-100-16-.347 before the Grenades drug masking failed. A rejuvenated Jeter led the AL in hits, with a .323 average and 15 HRs. And Headley, a road superstar at ManassasÕs AAA team, became the gameÕs best hitter down the stretch.

 

Some odd votes here – Allen Craig for the 8th place Arsenal, Curtis Granderson, and Mike Trout, who only played one month in JLB (and for the 10th place team).

 

Cy Young: R.A. Dickey, ARL (14 W, 2.50 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 179 Ks)

 

R.A. Dickey

6

3

39

Justin Verlander

3

2

2

23

Gio Gonzalez

1

2

11

Fernando Rodney

1

1

2

10

David Price

1

1

8

Aroldis Chapman

1

3

Jered Weaver

1

3

Clayton Kershaw

2

2

Craig Kimbrel

2

2

Johnny Cueto

1

1

Chris Sale

1

1

Kyle Lohse

1

1

 

Dickey ran away with this as he came out of nowhere to be a top-10 pitcher and was the top-rated pitcher. Verlander, Kershaw, Cain (somehow no votes?) and Price were all amazing, and you wonder how Kimbrel didnÕt get more votes with a 1.01 ERA and 0.65 WHIP and 116 Ks in 65 IP.  Kimbrel was actually the 7th ranked pitcher (behind Dickey, Verlander, Gio, Price, Kershaw, and Cain).

 

Rookie of the Year: Stephen Strasburg, CEN (15 W, 3.16 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 197 Ks in 159 IP)

 

Stephen Strasburg

4

2

2

28

Chris Sale

3

2

1

22

Aroldis Chapman

2

3

2

21

Mike Trout

2

10

Maddy Bumgarner

1

1

4

Jose Altuve (step 2)

1

3

Tom Wilhemsen

2

2

Yoenis Cespedes

1

1

 

No landslide here, unlike last year when Craig Kimbrel ran away with things. Strasburg won this on reputation alone, as Chapman was the higher rated pitcher (71 IP, 5 W, 38 SV, 122 K in 71 IP with a 1.51/0.81 ratio) but faded down the stretch. Chapman ranked 11 pitchers higher than Strasburg, and actually Sale and Bumgarner were also ranked higher than the one-time Grenade. Jose Altuve received votes despite not being a rookie, and Mike Trout received votes despite only logging a month of JLB stats.

 

Mike Durgala GM of the Year: J.D. Moss

 

J.D. Moss

10

2

56

Debdeep Maji

1

5

5

28

Jon Lasken

2

4

10

Jicky Mixens

1

1

1

9

Cmac

1

1

 

J.D. Moss takes home his third piece of GMOY hardware in a landslide, and for good reason. He entered the last offseason as a heavy underdog to the Foxes, but made a number of key moves to push his team to first. It started with some great bargain free agent signings in Melky Cabrera and Sean Marshall. But things really got going with Justin Verlander – he traded quantity for quality (James Shields, Howie Kendrick and Ryan Zimmerman), and it was a huge success. He made an early acquisition of Martin Prado, whose super-utility status helped Moss plug and play his lineup down the stretch as big-ticket free agent acquisition Dan Uggla fizzled. As those around him overpaid for middling talent, he focused his efforts on Aaron Hill and Chase Headley, whose second halves sprung Great Falls to title. He found waiver wire gems in Nori Aoki, Mike Fiers (who actually sucked playing), Dexter Fowler and Josh Rutledge. In fact, the Grenades scouting continued to shine at both the major and minor league level – Rutledge, Aoki, McLouth, Fiers, Sean Marshall, Matt Joyce in a platoon role and Melky all contributed, and minor leaguers Trevor Rosenthal, Mike Zunino and Will Middlebrooks had two good months each to vault up rankings. As always, the biggest factor was the player Moss actively shopped but didnÕt trade in the offseason – Derek Jeter.

 

Debdeep Maji made a lot of great moves, but health didnÕt work out for him. More then anything, MajiÕs free agency demonstrated how fickle this game is, as he was bidding on two pitchers that set divergent paths for him and the Herndon Heroes. C.C. Sabathia was elite, Dan Haren was not. Had the dust settled in a slightly different way, Maji may have missed the money altogether. That being said, his moves down the stretch adding Miguel Montero and Shin-Soo Choo kept him afloat as his two best hitters each missed a month in Joey Batista and Joey Votto.

 

The head scratcher was votes for Alexandria – who somehow got a first place vote despite finishing fifth. Borrowing from Ricky Bobby, if youÕre not first, youÕre last, right? Some might look at this and say the best finish in Alleycats history. But I say, look long-term. They didnÕt move Adrian Gonzalez for prospects. They didnÕt sell high on their pitching staff (including Brandon Beachy). When you go from tenth to fifth, youÕve done something right. But to get first place votes for moving no closer to a JLB title?

 

1. Great Falls Grenades (Total: 103 – 51 hitting, 52 pitching)

What went right: Almost everything, including health (other than Pablo Sandoval). It started when Shyam Das overturned the Braun suspension. Verlander was a stud. Career years from Jeter. Cabrera proved 2011 was not a fluke – well, kinda. Hill and Headley were outstanding after coming over, energized by having a shot at the title. The old Lasken-ism of ŌdepthĶ paid off. And Moss managed his hitters great – look at those numbers in the team log from guys like Fowler, Joyce, Aoki and Hill.

What went wrong: Poor drug masking and Dan Uggla. I canÕt believe I have to pay him for two more years.

What the future holds: At least one more year in contention. Moss has some holes, but tons of depth. Not content to sit put, Moss has dipped into the farm system and grabbed Aramis Ramirez, Jay Bruce and Joe Mauer active thus far in the offseason, but heÕs robbed his farm system of all young talent when he may have been able to use matchups to get some equal results. Some GMs wonder if he overpaid and the FoxesÕ Carlton Davis waited until Moss was in Mexico, with little access, to force an overpay by Moss. The question is whether Moss is drafting well and selling high on five guys who every team passed over at least once in the drafts (especially after seeing the Brett Lawrie value drop), or paying too much for a #2 OF. Only time will tell. Moss thinks he has a top team, but this could be a Firemen 2011 team, with a quick trigger to rebuild.

 

2. Centreville 66ers (Total: 93 – 48 hitting, 45 pitching)

What went right: A heck of a lot. Andrew McCutchen broke out with 30 bombs and became Ryan Braun-lite. Flier Josh Willingham provided great power, with 28 bombs. Adrian Beltre continued to remain one of the best free agent contracts in recent memory, Strasburg was healthy and great. Maji chose the right ace and right closer in the offseason, getting C.C. Sabathia over Dan Haren. Ryan Cook was a steal off the waiver wire and chipped in 6 vulture wins. Maji was active and added Shin-Soo Choo and Miguel Montero for next to nothing.

What went wrong: Injuries derailed some of the title hope, with Bautista and Votto combining for just over 200 games. While there were a lot of moves Maji could have made to add points, itÕs hard to see how he could have eclipsed the Grenades finish.

What the future holds: A few more years of competing, but maybe Maji is pushing his chips in too early. He parted with a number of prospects for an expiring 2012 contract in injury-prone Matt Holliday, so he better hire a better trainer (and oddly, his injury prone players were healthy in 2012 with Reyes and Beltre). The lineup is nasty, nasty, nasty with elite talent, and Holliday fills the one hole but thereÕs no depth anywhere, and Maji is already butting up against the salary cap. WeÕll see how the risk-averse Maji manages to improve his team. If they stay healthy, they take the Joe, but with C.C. already having elbow issues, this could be like the Foxes team of 2012.

 

3. Clifton Clams (Total: 91 – 58 hitting, 33 pitching)

What went right: Everything offensively, as the two best hitters had career years and, well, 58 points in hitting while playing 30 less games (it would have been 59 too if Lasken played his full complement of games).. Alex Rios (56-17-55-12-.311 in 87 games) and David Ortiz (65-23-60-.320 in 88 games) were unreal in their half-seasons. Edwin Encarnacion drove in 43 runs in 56 games. Angel Pagan and Carlos Gomez logged 166 games, and went 96-14-65-39 combined. The different here was saves too, and Lasken rode his closers to 12 points in saves (crushing CarltonÕs hopes and dreams), including Huston StreetÕs 1.18/0.66 in 39 IP. And Kris Medlen almost carried the Clams to third. Just a banner year for the Clams.

What went wrong: Interesting question. So close to 2nd place, and playing a full slate of games would have gotten Lasken to 92. Could he have gotten that elusive point? It looks unlikely with playing time decisions –he chased saves and got a 12, with some awful innings from Cordero, so the point he could have gained in WHIP he may have lost in saves. However, league insiders know that Lasken turned down Yovanni Gallardo for Ian Desmond in JulyÉ.Gallardo down the stretch would have propelled the Clams to second. Instead, he moved Desmond for Ōhis kind of prospectĶ, a middling innings eater named James Paxton and cash.

What the future holds: A return to mediocrity. Hamilton moves to one of the leagueÕs biggest pitchers park, Rios departs, A-Rod is out until July, Phillips is a free agent, and there are holes at 2B, OF, and pitching. I think this is the year depth and cash issues catch up to Clifton, but weÕve been wrong in the past

 

4. Falls Church Foxes (Total: 83.5 – 33 hitting, 50.5 pitching)

What went right:  Davis will say not much, but Prince and Joe Mauer were better than expected, and the starting pitching with Cain, Hamels and Kershaw was unreal. Still, this was a team with title hopes that finished 4th.

What went wrong: It started with the Tulowitzki deal. Davis traded Verlander, Panda and others for TuloÉ.who played 47 games as Verlander cruised to a number of Cy Young votes. Michael Young was a bust, the starting pitching depth suffered as Ricky Romero was Ankiel-like and the offensive management was abysmal. Davis could have made this more competitive with some in-season moves, but still has a Blackberry and couldnÕt figure out how to track his team.

What the future holds: A massive rebuild, oddly. Davis had one of the top four teams again, and decided to rebuild. His old team, with some added talent in free agency, would have finished in the money. Instead, he did a great job selling off his assets, maximizing value as the only seller with multiple buyers. He now sits in a great position to save his marriage and compete in 2016.

 

5. Alexandria Alleycats (Total: 82 – 33 hitting, 40 pitching)

What went right: The pitching. Johnny Cueto was for real and managed excellently (18 wins, 2.84 / 1.16). Chris Sale became a fantasy ace. Brandon Beachy was outstanding before going down for Tommy John (2.00 / 0.96 in 80 innings). The Alleycats even dealt Jon Lester at his peak in a deal that was widely panned, but Lester was abysmal. Carlos Ruiz hit .350 in 84 games, and Ryan Zimmerman did what he was supposed to do after being acquired midseason (37-10-41-.300 in 59 games).

What went wrong: As this writer knows better than anyone else, fifth is worthless. Big ticket signings David Wright and Nelson Cruz were good, but not elite. There just wasnÕt enough to compete with the big boys.

What the future holds: Another run at the money that will end short. The pitching staff largely returns, and the Alleycats added Cargo to replace, but now the cupboard is bare though, other than cash, and the Alleycats still have holes at 1B, 3B, OF, and UTIL.

 

6. Reston Roundabouts (Total: 68 – 35 hitting, 33 pitching)

What went right:  Not much. Title aspirations preseason turned into a rebuilding project by the end of the year. Hausman looked the part of title contender early and acquired major pieces Jered Weaver and Edwin Encarnacion, but not much went right with the pitching. The weird thing is the parts look like more than the sum. Jason Heyward and Billy Butler had huge breakouts. Adam Jones made the leap to #1 OF. David Price made the leap to #1 SP. Granderson hit 39 HRs. Oh, and Tom FUCKING Wilhemsen, son.

What went wrong: This is an interesting one – Hausman might have been able to make a run at fourth if he trusted his team. A full second half of Aaron Hill, Edwin Encarnacion and Wainwright, plus some moves down the stretch. He accumulated some assets to help for 2013, and if he finishes top two, any accumulation will have been worth it. But it was not the best year in Reston. He dealt Verlander for Jon Lester, who was abysmal (4.07/1.32 in 148 IP). Roy Halladay had his worst season in years. Adam Wainwright struggled in his return from Tommy John, and Tommy Hanson took a big step back. Addison Reed wasnÕt quite the shutdown closer Hausman needed (5.96 / 1.56 in 42 IP).

What the future holds: A push for 2013Õs title, led by new acquisition Craig Kimbrel and Troy Tulowitzki. Hausman has the most top-50 players on his roster right now (7), and both pitching and offense should be much improved. Plus, he has $50 million in cap room to add talent. Look for that number to rise as Hausman adds studs left and right.

 

7. Arlington Arsenal 66ers (Total: 67 – 34 hitting, 33 pitching)

What went right:  Allen Craig proved to be an elite bat, hitting .313 with 22 homers in just 112 games. Robinson Cano may have been worth his $15 million. And the pitching was amongst the best Arlington has had in a while with Craig Kimbrel, Dickey, and Gio (who broke out in a big way).

What went wrong: Injuries, as Matt Kemp and Jacoby Ellsbury combined for 171 games. Jair JurrjensÕ peripherals finally caught up to him.

What the future holds: A run at the money, as the top prospects were dealt for Matt Cain and a repeat top-10 pitcher in Craig Kimbrel was dealt for Jered Weaver, Adam Jones and Elvis Andrus. 2013 depends on Kemp and Ellsbury though – if they return to 2011 form, this team is a lock for the money with its rotation. ThereÕs talent all around the diamond and they feature the leagueÕs best rotation. In some ways, Justin Warren has Greenlagh-proofed this roster, as with the four stud starters, the Arsenal will be less prone to the random weeknight spot start to provide the entertainment of the night to Brian H. Greenhalgh.

 

8. Herndon Heroes (Total: 58 – 34 hitting, 24 pitching)

What went right: Mike Stanton hit 36 HRs in 116 games and Buster Posey was the leagueÕs best catcher. But not a lot for a team that thought it could finish in the money. At least Hanley was traded to keep his 2013 eligibility at SS.

What went wrong: Pitching went bad in every possible direction. White failed to recognize that his team couldnÕt compete until too late. Injuries and regression hurt, but no one outside of Herndon thought this team could compete in 2012 [[NOTE: The last sentence was written in the 2012 report, but kind of the same]. No half-in strategy this year, though a lot of bad luck with Haren and Madson. Plus Evan Longoria managed just 74 games.

What the future holds: Unclear – not sure if there is enough talent  to compete, but theyÕre kind of in between with Hanley, Posey, and Stanton. White will need to rekindle his pitching magic in 2013 as it disappeared in 2012, but I donÕt think thereÕs enough there right now.

 

9. Sterling Starfish (Total: 57.5 – 21 hitting, 36.5 pitching)

What went right:  Some excellent pitching from middle relievers. Aroldis Chapman and Rafael Soriano anchored the back end. Maddy Bum had a great debut. Edwin Encarnacion netted the Starfish a cheap closer in 2013, and some cash and a mediocre prospect added Ian Desmond. The payroll matched the total points – a good sign for a rebuilder.

What went wrong:  The offense. Other than the Uptons, thereÕs not another hitter that would have started on a contender that logged time in Sterling – and both regressed. Mike Moustakas was not quite as good as expected. And a $50 million plus payroll to finish 9th is less tha desirable.

What the future holds: Hopefully the start of a long run, but there are a lot of offensive questions. ThereÕs average to below average hitters at multiple positions, so free agency must cure a lot of these ails. This team could look very different with Prince, Kinsler and Zimmerman manning the infield, but thereÕs not a ton of cap roomÉ.so how far over $100 million will McDonald go.

 

10. Manassas Manatees (Total: 37.5 – 22.5 hitting, 15 pitching)

What went right: Mike Trout. The Trout-Down. Mick not promoting Mike Trout before the September 1 deadline.

What went wrong: If you ask Carlton Davis, nothing – it went exactly as he expected. The Manatees had visions of the money in their maiden season, but trading quality for quantity didnÕt necessarily help.

What the future holds: A rebuild, without the benefit of Josh Bertman cotninually restocking the farm system. Still, Roasrio, Profar and Jose Fernandez join Trout. But the Manatees did well in their early trades, buying some prospects for Matt Holliday and offloading Jason Motte for two prospects. But they gave up a likely top-4 pick in their 2015 amateur pick to the 66ers. WeÕll see if the trend continues, though some owners have been irked by the Manatees outright lying in negotiating by indicating they had phantom offers from other teams. The Felix Hernandez Sweepstakes will be key.

 

11. Reston Robots (Total: 21 – 11 hitting, 10 pitching)

What went right: The Firemen had a worse team.

What went wrong: Setting a league record for inactivity and racking up $26 million in fines doing so.

What the future holds: New leadership. But IÕm not writing anymore, because Matt refused to play players.

 

12. Fairfax Firemen (Total: 11 – 6 hitting, 5 pitching)

What went right: At the major league level, nothing other than Yoenis Cespedes, but at least the Firemen paid attention. Tons of breakout minor leaguers, and Keenan acquired prospects or picks for his minor league talent.

What went wrong: Everything at the major league level. 11 sets a new JLB record for futility.

What the future holds: KeenanÕs last rebuild didnÕt lead to much, but heÕs learned a lot and should come back strongerÉ.whenever he does actually come back. 2016? Keenan remains the leagueÕs easiest GM to deal with.

 

Projected 2013 Standings

1.     Roundabouts

2.     Grenades

3.     66ers

4.     Arsenal

5.     Starfish

6.     Alleycats

7.     Clams

8.     Heroes

9.     Manatees

10.  Foxes

11.  Firemen

12.  Robots