The First Year of the Palo Alto Robber Barons

By David Dick


I took over the former Mansfield Mounties shortly before the start of 2007 FA,

so I thought with the ending of 2008 FA now would be a good time to look over

how my first year in BRASSWORLD has gone and what the outlook is like for the

Palo Alto Robber Barons.


Taking over the team I saw a huge hole at 3B and some really bad contracts in

Andy Pettitte (3,F4-33M), Cliff Floyd (3,F4-24M) and Mark Kotsay (3,F4-24M).

There was also not much relief pitching on the team, as the only rated

relievers were Jason Isringhausen and Carlos Marmol. I knew I would have my

work cut out to fill all those gaps with enough at-bats and innings pitched, but

saw that the team had some really good young players (Peavy, Verlander,

Marmol, Mauer, Teixeira, Stephen Drew) and could be a powerhouse in the

future. After much deliberation, I decided to blow almost all of my remaining

cash to land the biggest fish in 2007 free agency, Alex Rodriguez. It was a huge

gamble, but I figured that talent like that doesn’t come around that often and

if I sign him to a five year deal he would still be around once the bad contracts

expire and I would have a chance to really compete. I was willing to go up to

$10M per year to get him and was happy to land him for $9.6M per year. I then

used the rest of free agency to pick up every scrub reliever I could find since I

had pretty much no cash left.


I wanted to free up a little more cash and I still needed a corner outfielder, so I

took the plunge and traded away Jason Isringhausen for Jason Bay. Of course, I

forgot about the closer rule which would come back to haunt me once the

season started. But I got a young corner outfielder on a L5 contract that I was

hoping would rebound after a down year. I needed an outfielder that could

(somewhat) hit lefties, so I shipped off Joel Guzman for Emil Brown (though

Brown played like crap for me). Finally, I realized that Stephen Drew would

not be a great card so I shipped Wandy Rodriguez to get Brendan Harris and Kip

Wells so that I could do a reverse platoon with Drew and Harris at SS.

I had the pressure of the #1 overall pick in the 2008 Draft and finally decided to

take young phenom Rick Porcello. I picked mainly for upside the rest of the

way. John Lannon turned out to be a nice grab in the 4th round. The pick of

Joe Smith in the 5th round helped the bullpen. Max Ramirez in the 9th round

also turned into a find.


The season began and I thought the team would have a shot at the playoffs,

but wouldn’t be too upset if we finished in the middle of the pack, given the

bullpen. The offense carried the day, making it so that I didn’t have to worry

about the bullpen too much. Halfway through the season Rob Bell was my

saves leader, thanks to plenty of 3-inning “mop-up” saves. Blown saves by

Carlos Marmol and Ron Mahay on a routine basis led me to realize I needed to

pick up a reliever with a better closer rating than 0. So, I traded for Todd

Jones and Pat Neshek, who proceeded to do well in picking up the saves at the

end of the year and I found myself a wild card. I was able to get past Port

Richey in the first round, but Montreal polished me off in the second round.


Looking at my team in the off-season, I realized a had a real chance to

compete for the title next year if I could just find a few more pieces.

Unfortunately, some of those bad contracts were still on the books so if I was

going to do this it would have to be on the cheap. When I found out that Grady

Sizemore was on the market, I realized he could be a big piece of the puzzle.

The price was steep, but I parted with Rick Porcello, Matt LaPorta, Max

Ramirez and a couple of picks to snag Sizemore and Reed Johnson. I still

needed to shed some salary, so I dumped Cliff Floyd for J.J. Putz.

Unfortunately, to entice Jonah to take Floyd I also had to part with Chris

Duncan, Brendan Harris, James McDonald and some picks. Didn’t want to give

up McDonald and the picks, but I desperately needed the cash.

2008 free agency was an almost non-event for Palo Alto given my cash

constraints. I picked up Willie Bloomquist to be my utility infielder since Harris

is now a McGaffigan. I was still hurting on relievers, so I picked up Alan

Embree and Tyler Walker to be middle inning pitchers. I wasn’t sure about

Marmol getting a good closer rating and Putz is limited innings so I picked up

Todd Jones and Jason Isringhausen on the cheap. Finally, I took a flyer on

Chad Cordero in the event that his arm is healthy for the next couple of years.


What’s the outlook for the franchise heading into 2009? The rotation should be

average, with Jake Peavy leading the way. Verlander, Pettitte and Lannan will

do yeoman’s work and Sean Gallagher and Odalis Perez will try not to get

shelled too much as the #5 starter. The bullpen should be ok, with Marmol,

Jones and Putz closing things for me. The offense is what is going to carry this

club. Mauer, Teixeira, ARod, Bay and Sizemore will form a fearsome middle of

the order. Should be a lot of fun next year.


I’ve had a blast so far in BRASSWORLD and appreciate playing in such a great

league. Thanks for letting me join!