Thursday, December 18, 2008


With the amateur draft set for tommorow, our hopes are high for that player or players who can be the difference between winning and being an also-ran. As such, I would like to take a look back at the evolution of my team, the New York Torrones, from a pretender to a contender.


The first 3 seasons the franchise was known as the Boston Red Sox, run by hemichllngr. In season 1, the team finished 88-74, 2nd place and 13 games back, in what can only be described as a hitter's paradise. Boston's .306 team BA was only middle of the pack as the AL high was .324 and the low .284. Salem had a league high team ERA of 16.03, and gave up an average of 17.3 RPG! 3 teams had ERAs over 12!. Draft was a disaster as the top 6 Boston picks were unscouted and never signed. Boston pitchers were lead by 38 year old Hal Jefferson with a 14-8 record. Top hitter was 34 year old SS Tomas Borbon(.322,26,150). A young Marquis Wade is the only player from this squad still on the team.

Season 2 was a step backwards. Boston finished last at 12 games out, 73-89. Team hit a respectable .295, 4th in the league but was 13th in ERA at 5.85. Rookie Juan Cela hit 40 HRs as 4 players topped 100 RBI. Bobby Ray Pierzynski had a career high 69 SBs. No one on the staff managed more than 9 wins, but Angel Lima had 31 saves. Somehow, this team had 6 picks in the top 50 in the draft that yielded current Torrones 2B Johnnie Haselman & P Carl Phelps.

Season 3 was a dismal one for the AL East as no team finished over .500. In hemichllngr's final season at the helm, Boston finshed in 2nd place at 75-87, 3 games out. Average fell to 10th at .277 and ERA was 14th at 5.79. Charles Taylor lead the pitching staff with a 14-12 record. Sammy Bold went .306,30,90 to head up a rather anemic offense.


hemichllngr took his leave and I stepped in to take over this troubled franchise. We moved the team to NY and renamed it the Torrones, a hallowed name in Italian nougat candies. I must admit that, like most rookies to HBD, I didn't know what I was doing early on(some would say I still don't). I signed a lot of pretty useless Int'l FAs, pretty much anyone my scouts dug up. Playing with an inherited team, we only improved 2 games to 77-85, finishing tied for a distant 2nd, 11 games out. The team had some power(215 HRs), but finished 3rd from the bottom in BA at .270 and runs. Team ERA was 5.36 and 13th in the AL. 4 starters finished with double-digit wins lead by Bart Wohlers and Dean McCurry with 14. Mitch Fontenot had 35 saves. C Julius Young made the All-Star team and won a Gold Glove while leading the team with a .309 BA, while Juan Cela(47,124) and Donne Brow(43,121) provided the power. In our 1st draft, the only player of note was current stalwart SP A.J. Freeman, chosen with the 11th pick in the draft. We signed him for a bonus of $3,070K, one of the few things we did right that season.


With a season under our belt, the chickens came home to roost. The team stumbled to a 60-102 record, 3rd place, 39 games out. We again hit .270 and actually hit more HRs(223) and scored 40 more runs. Pitching fell off to a 5.45 ERA. FA signee Norm Everhart had a team high 13 wins and Bart Wohlers was 11-9, 3.71 ERA, pretty good on a team that was 42 games south of .500. Juan Cela was a rare offensive bright spot with 48 HR, 107 RBI. Bobby Ray Pierzynski won a Gold Glove in CF. Current star slugger Dan Jones was our #1 pick at 15 and signed for a very reasonable $2,690K. Still no Int'l signings of note, but we did make our 1st trade of note getting current OF Jonathan Hogan from Helena for CF Josh Bradford. A look at their ML numbers would indicate that this was a pretty even trade. Two Rule 5 pickups netted a couple of SS, Alex Fernandez and Eric Martin. Neither developed into anything more than marginal MLers and are now gone. A lot more work would be needed to turn this crew into a contender.


Season 6 was another dismal season for the Torrones. I was still on a learn-as-you-go program and the team finished last in the division at 63-99, 28 games out. Offense fell off badly to a .262 BA(15th) and a drop of 64 runs to 773(14th). The staff was 13th with a 5.72 ERA, an increase of .27 RPG. Not good. Staff was lead by FA signee Mitchell McRae at 14-11, kind of amazing for a team that only won 63 games. Johnnie Haselman had an excellent rookie season(.286,34,103). #1 pick SS Davey House(#5 overall) signed on for a $4.5M bonus.We traded with Salem for current 3B Pete Olsen in this season. Int'l FA signings included current SP Hipolito Martin($6.0M) and possible future CF Omar Ramirez($3.2M). Rule 5 draft netted current starting CF Ernie Thompson. Even though this season was a waste at the ML level, some of the pieces needed for future improvement were starting to fall into place.


Well, we finished last again in season 7 with an 80-82 record, 23 games behind. While this was a vast improvement over the previous two seasons, it was very disappointing in that it looked like we would have our first season over .500 until we lost our last 4 games. While we didn't improve much in BA over last season, up to .265, we did score 46 more runs(819,9th). Team ERA improved to 5.04(11th). Staff was lead by rookie A.J. Freeman and Al Berroa with 13 wins. Sammy Bold(30,110), and Donne Brow(45,112) provided the power. Haselman suffered a bit from the sophomore jinx(.251,33,80). Bobby Ray Pierzynski won his 2nd Gold Glove in CF. Amateur draft yielded 2 future hitting stars, 1B Tanner Magnante and C Niefi Espinosa. Int'l FA signings this year featured SS Mariano Tavarez and 2B Kiki Lee, both of whom will be on the big club soon. A trade with Burlington netted current ML catcher Andres Cedeno. Things appeared to be looking up.


Our hopes for continued improvement took a hit in season 8. We dropped to a 79-83 record and again dwelled in the cellar, 22 games behind the Columbus Clippers, winners of their 2nd straight division crown. The offense showed decent improvement(.275 BA-7th, 909 Runs-8th). Staff ERA was 5.01(9th). Season 3 3rd round pick MacBeth Clarke made his rookie debut and hit .305 with 103 SBs, at that time a league record. He was caught only 6 times. Season 5 1st round pick Dan Jones hit 37 HRs and 105 RBI in his rookie season. Johnnie Haselman bounced back to tie for the team lead with 37 Hrs and knocked in 107. We signed FA starter Steve Scarsome and he led the team with 14 wins. A.J Freeman lead the team with a 3.91 ERA and 171 Ks and had 13 wins in his sophomore go-round. Hipolito Martin was called up early in the year and has been in the starting rotation ever since. C Yogi Hammond won a Gold Glove. Season 8's amateur draft appears to have been fruitful. I expect that the first 5 picks may all make the ML, #1 P Abraham Orie(#14), #1* C Joey Taylor(#36,traded), #2 3B Danny Fox(#69), #2* C Valerio Lind((#79), & #3 3B Darron Clifton(#101). Paid big bucks for Int'l FA P Miguel Paz($14.5M). Looking for a closer, we traded starter Marshall Roberts for minor leaguer Ed Sanders, who has not developed as we had hoped as yet. In a move that has paid stellar dividends, we plucked C Michael McDonald from Buffalo in the Rule 5 draft that ranks as one of the best moves we have made to date. In his Rule 5 rookie season, he went .301,21,73(as of this writing, he is leading the AL with a .361 BA). So, even though the record was worse than season 7, there was reason for encouragement.


This was both our best and most disappointing season yet. For much of the season it looked as though we might make a run at the division title. However Norfolk proved too tough and ran away with the division title by 12 games as we finished tied for 2nd with Columbus at 88-74, our best record yet. Most disappointing was that we had a real shot at the wild card to make the playoffs for the first time, but we choked badly down the stretch. A.J. Freeman bore much of the blame as he lost 6 straight starts down the stretch when we needed him the most. There were many encouraging signs in this turn-around season, however. The pitching improved to 4th in the league with a 4.70 ERA. The hitting fell off to .273 and 883 RS. Dan Jones slugged 44 HRs & 124 RBI, while steady Johnnie Haselman contributed 38 HR,120 RBI. C Andres Cedeno hit .315 in his rookie campaign. Rookie 1B Tanner Magnante(.308,29,94) was a serious ROY contender. Season 8 Rule 5 addition C Michael McDonald improved to .312,27,97 in his 2nd season. Season 6 #1 pick Davey House also made his somewhat disappointing rookie debut. One of the biggest additions of the year came in a trade with the Florida Sailfish. We added a badly needed top starter in Monte Brown and a reliable reliever in Felix Gang in exchange for top Int'l FA Miguel Paz, C Joey Taylor and OF Felipe Eusebio. Monte won 9 games for us after coming over in the trade(16-7 overall) and made the All-Star team, as did closer Timothy Van Poppel. Freeman, despite his late collapse, lead the team with 14 wins(but 13 losses), and Hipolito Martin improved to 13-6 and lead the team with a 3.52 ERA in his 2nd campaign. #1 pick B.C. Garland(#13 overall) looks like he might just be the dominant closer we have been looking for. Mateo Carresquel was taken in the Rule 5 draft and should turn out to be a creditable ML starter or long reliever. Pitchers Diego Garza and Orlando Calderone were signed on the Int'l FA market and look to have bright futures.


At about 1/3 of the way through season 10, the New York Torrones hold a tenuous 2 game lead in the AL East division as of this writing. The offense has held its own, but the pitching has been very disappointing, though somewhat better of late. Unless that improves, we will not be able to hang with the big boys like Minnesota and Boise, let alone my own division. We'll just have to wait and see how it all plays out.

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