Sunday paper


San Bernardino Ė Do you check the stats of your players in the Sunday newspaper? I sometimes do, and I usually start at the bottom and work my way up. Most often Iíll just glance quickly through the stats but every so often, especially when the major league season is at a point like ľ, 1/3 or Ĺ complete, as itís easy to quickly compute what the approximate season totals would be. The ML season is approximately ľ complete now so I thought Iíd take a closer look at how my players are doing, to give me an idea as to how much better or worse they may be next year. I know itís very early, and Iíve actually geared my team to hopefully begin competing for my division title the year after next, but itís fun anyway. The below stats are as of Sunday, May 18th.

At firstbase Iíve got Doug Mientkiewicz. Heís beginning to heat up with Minnesota (though he sprained his ankle on Sunday) and is currently at .274:avg/3:hr/0:sb, and projects to 46 doubles. However, down on the farm thereís Justin Morneau who hit .329/6/0 in AA before being promoted to AAA where heís hitting .311/6/0. Plus, thereís a chance heíll get the call now that Doug is injured, though I personally hope they leave him in AAA for now. The future looks good at 1B.

Secondbase has Mark Ellis (.262/3/0 Ö projects to 54 doubles). Heís been in a slight slump lately but if he keeps playing solid defense heíll still be valuable. Desi Relaford (.308/3/6 Ö has .387 obp) backs him up, plus the future may bring Rickie Weeks whoís currently at .500/16/27 in just 158 ABís in college, which are incredible numbers! The only problem is that he may be switched to the OF once drafted this Spring. But then that may prove to be helpful for me as RF is a trouble spot as youíll read below.

Another trouble spot may be thirdbase. I still believe that Aramis Ramirez (.238/2/0) will be an exceptional offensive force, but heís off to a poor start this year. Heís still just 24 yrs old, though. On the bright side, Chad Tracy is hitting .357/3/0 with a .414 obp in the minors.

Shortstop needs little mentioning, other than that Alex Rodriguez (.308/11/6) plays there. Iím in great shape there for years.

The outfield is looking pretty good, though rightfield may be a trouble spot. Brad Wilkerson (.296/5/3 Ö projects to 49 doubles) is in left and has also appeared in CF, RF and 1B. Corey Patterson (.319/8/8 Ö on pace for 12 triples) is a pleasant surprise in center, though this is what was expected from him from the Cubs. If this is the real Corey Patterson then Iíll be in very good shape there. Rightfield is a trouble spot unless Gary Matthews, Jr (.204/2/0) gets straightened out. Iíve also got Jose Guillen (.324/7/0 Ö .357 obp) out there, but I donít expect him to keep those stats up for the whole year. And even if he does heíll be a free agent so I may not be able to retain him. Gene Kingsale (.270/0/0 Ö .341 obp) is another outfielder but heís not necessarily a RFíer and despite him being one of the better hitters for average with the Tigers they have reduced his playing time. Down on the farm Iíve got Coco Crisp (.341/0/14 Ö .451 obp) but heís not really a RFíer either, and Iím not sure if the Indians are going to give him a shot. At least not this year, though he may become a valuable player in another year or two.

Ramon Hernandez (.306/4/0) has turned into a very good catcher, and though heís hitting above his head a bit right now, I donít believe heíll end up much lower than around .270 with double figure HRís. Plus heís thrown out 40% of the runners trying to steal on him. Heís proving to be a very solid catcher, both offensively and defensively. And just in case, Jeff Mathis, a top prospect with Anaheim is hitting .299/4/3 in the minors.

The mound may need some work, but itís not in terrible shape. In fact with a little luck or a good draft pick or two (or maybe a trade) it could become quite good and be the strength of my team as I want it to be. Randy Wolf (3.24:era/1.11:whip/.208:baa) leads the staff and looks to be the ace I hoped for in him. Following him is Kyle Lohse (3.22/1.09/.222) who is producing far better than I had expected. Iíve seen him a number of times on TV and I donít think itís a fluke. This guy has the ability to be that good, consistently, and maybe even better! After that my starters are in trouble. Jeff Suppan (3.32/1.33/.269) is doing well but I donít expect him to continue that pace all season. But with his good start he may end up with an ERA in the high 3ís or low 4ís, with a lot of IPís which could be very useful as the #3 or #4 starter. The disappointment is Jon Garland (6.10/1.50/.278 Ö projects to 35 hra). Heís still young with some very good stuff so thereís hope. And Iím certainly hoping. But as I said I drafted this team to hopefully become a contender in our third season so I and Jon have time. Depending on whether or not Jeremy Affeldt (4.33/1.33/.281) can control his finger blister problems he could or could not become a very good starter. Iíve seen him a few times and when the blister is not affecting him he is quite good. Others such as Al Leiter put together some very good years once he got his blister problems under control. Hopefully Affeldt will be able to control his problem sooner than later. Ryan Drese (7.65/2.35/.341) looks to be gone but thereís hope for the future in the minors. Jimmy Gobble (2.92, 5-3 record) is having a good year in the minors and though Jose Torres (4.68, 3-2) is struggling a bit heís had some very good appearances and is still projected as a top prospect for the Angels.

The bullpen is in good hands with Keith Foulke (2.49/0.83/.182 Ö on pace for 42 SVís), but thereís not much after that. Ray King (3.18/1.65/.246), Mike Crudale (0.00/1.69/.238 in just 5 ML games) and Kelly Wunsch (0.00/0.63/.053) are all serviceable and form a decent setup core as a unit, but none have enough strengths (despite some very good ERAís so far) to be considered a stud reliever and, since my team is to be built around a solid pitching staff Iíll have to upgrade them. Theyíll be great as situational, one or two batter type pitchers, but Iíll have to get one or two solid setup men for Foulke.

All in all my offense is looking pretty good with just a couple of positions Iíll need to improve upon in the next year or two. My starting staff has a pretty good base to build upon. Just a good draft pick or two and/or the emergence of a minor leaguer and it should become a real strength for my team. The bullpen is the weak link. There is some depth with decent stats but itís too situational. This is where most of my attention will go to, though itís a position I do not like to use high draft picks for. This may take some time, work and luck.

Of course all this may look very different in a few months. But itís fun to try and look into what the future may hold.


Tom Fish