State of the Expansion Franchise: Destin

Last in a five-part series reflecting on our 2012 expansion.

There’s no truth to the rumor that at the Destin Beach Bums’ home stadium, turnstiles have been replaced with revolving doors.

Even though that would be appropriate for the expansion franchise that has seen more turnover than any other, both on the field and in the front office.

Debuting in 2012 under GM Rick Lackey as the English Pigdogs, the club has wheeled and dealed and cut with reckless abandon, and now sports just three remaining players out of 40 who were part of the organization prior to it playing its first game less than three years ago.

Now known as the Destin Beach Bums, the club remains in search of an identity as it is reshaped yet again under new manager Mark Gergel, while lurking on the fringe of playoff contention.

Freddie Freeman

Freddie Freeman

Destin Beach Bums Roster Evolution

Players acquired pre-2012: 40
Players dealt away: 17
Players cut: 20
Still Pigdogs/Beach Bums: 3  — OF John Jay, SS J.J. Hardy, P Nathan Eovaldi.

2014 record: 59-61 (.492)
2013 record: 62-98 (.388)
2012 record: 62-98 (.388)

Face of the franchise: Freddie Freeman

Fast Fact: An abysmal record within its division — 10-25 — doesn’t bode well for a playoff bid with 25 games still to play against North clubs. Destin is 49-36 (.576) outside the division.

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State of the Expansion Franchise: Michigan

Part IV of a five-part series reflecting on our 2012 expansion.

The Michigan Moneyballers will forever be known as the club that passed on Mike Trout and instead selected catcher Alex Avila with the first overall pick in the 2012 Draft.

Trout is already a legend at age 23, and he’s helping carry the Iowa Cyclones to what looks to be their first playoff berth this year. Avila was cut by Michigan manager Ken Crawford after the club’s 2013 season.

But the Moneyballers aren’t feeling that bad for themselves. They dealt shortstop J.J. Hardy to Chatfield that first winter in exchange for Adam Jones, who has turned out to be a pretty fair center fielder of his own. Jones leads this year’s Moneyballers in homers (15) and RBI (73) through 120 games as Michigan holds down one of the three wild-card spots with 40 games to play.

Adam Jones

Adam Jones

Michigan Moneyballers Roster Evolution

Players acquired pre-2012: 34
Players dealt away: 10
Players cut: 18
Still Moneyballers: 6  — OF Peter Bourjos, 1B Brandon Belt, P Homer Bailey, CF Adam Jones, P Ricky Nolasco.

2014 record: 64-56 (.533)
2013 record: 67-93 (.419)
2012 record: 60-100 (.375)

Face of the franchise: Adam Jones

GM Style: Charts R Us — Michigan has more than twice as many sac bunt attempts as the league’s No. 2 team, and also leads the league in hit-and-run attempts.

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State of the Expansion Franchise: Satellite Beach

Part III of a five-part series reflecting on our 2012 expansion.

The Satellite Beach Brawlers were the fastest expansion team out of the chute in 2012, with 69 wins, but have hit a big-time speed bump in their third season.

With a lineup that ranks last in the league in offense and first in the league in errors, Satellite Beach is a non-factor in this year’s pennant race, but still sees promise on the horizon.

Justin Upton

Justin Upton

Satellite Beach Brawlers Roster Evolution

Players acquired pre-2012: 34
Players dealt away: 6
Players cut: 22
Still Brawlers: 6  — IF Marco Scutaro, 3B Edwin Encarnacion, P Brandon Beachy, IF Brett Lawrie, C Wilson Ramos, OF Justin Upton.

2014 record: 45-75 (.375)
2013 record: 67-93 (.419)
2012 record: 69-91 (.431)

Face of the franchise: Justin Upton

GM Style: Draft and Develop — The Brawlers make deliberate draft selections, prefer to trust their judgment and wait for them to pan out.

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A look back at our 2012 expansion

Part I of a five-part series looking back at the 2012 expansion draft.

“And with the 217th pick in the 2012 Draft, the English Pigdogs select…. Nathan Eovaldi.”

History does not record whether anyone proclaimed, “Good pick!” or cursed and muttered, “I was just looking at him.” More likely, most of the league had stopped paying attention since they were done drafting. After Eovaldi, only five picks remained.

Nathan Eovaldi

Nathan Eovaldi

Yet Eovaldi is notable as one of just 19 players among the four expansion teams who was selected or acquired prior to the 2012 season and remains with his original club as our 2014 season winds down. That’s 19 out of 145 players — just 13%. Eovaldi was the latest player chosen to hold that honor.

That’s right. In less than three full seasons, 87% of the players who were originally drafted or acquired by the four expansion teams prior to Opening Day 2012 already have been cut or traded.

In this five-part series, we look back at the league’s expansion plans at the time and examine the status of each of the four clubs that came into being that year — the Iowa Cyclones, Michigan Moneyballers, Satellite Beach Brawlers and English Pigdogs, now known as the Destin Beach Bums.

If the goal of the structure of the expansion draft was to allow the clubs to build for the future, the player turnover seems to indicate either a flaw in the plan or an impatience on the part of the new franchise GMs. But does that even matter?

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Volcanoes come out on top in first RenHart Projections

By Dave Renbarger

Watch out for Margaritaville this year.  Manager John McMillan’s Volcanoes are ready to erupt, featuring an outstanding lineup, tons of pitching and an airtight defense.  According to a less-than-scientific analysis of all 15 rosters conducted by two league managers two days after the draft in Kissimmee, the Volcanoes are the overwhelming favorite to win the I-75 Mail League title in 2013.

Other projected divisional winners are Savannah by a small margin over Hickory in the Southbound and Bushwood by an eyelash over Superior in the Westbound.

The three remaining playoff teams, according to the analysis conducted jointly by Savannah manager Steve Hart and Bushwood skipper Dave Renbarger, will be Hickory, Superior and Bismarck.

Three other teams — Wisconsin, Satellite Beach and SGP — are well within striking distance of the sixth-place Bombers and should be considered solid playoff contenders.

Full disclosure:  These rankings are admittedly somewhat subjective.  They are based more on general roster observations and less on empirical statistical data.

Our methodology:  We ranked all 15 rosters in six categories — lineup vs. righties, lineup vs. lefties, starting pitching, relief pitching, defense and speed — on a 1 to 5 scale.  Then we weighted the six categories in terms of overall importance thusly — lineup vs. righties 3x; lineup vs. lefties 1x; starting pitching 3x; relief pitching 1.5x; defense 1.5x and speed 0.5x.  Then we did the multiplication and additon to come up with the final numbers.

Here is the grid that details the rankings:

NORTH v RHP (x3) v LHP (x1) SP (x3) RP (x1.5) DEF (x1.5) SPD (x.5) Total
MARG (1) 4.5 (13.5) 4 (4) 4.5 (13.5) 4.5 (6.75) 5 (7.5) 4 (2) 47.25
BSK (6) 4 (12) 4 (4) 2.5 (7.5) 3.5 (5.25) 5 (7.5) 3 (1.5) 37.75
SGP (9) 4 (12) 5 (5) 2 (6) 3 (4.5) 3 (4.5) 3.5 (1.75) 33.75
APPL (10) 3 (9) 2 (2) 3 (9) 3.5 (5.25) 3.5 (5.25) 1.5 (.75) 31.25
ENG (t-12) 2 (6) 3.5 (3.5) 1 (3) 2 (3) 4.5 (6.75) 4 (2) 24.25
SOUTH v RHP (x3) v LHP (x1) SP (x3) RP (x1.5) DEF (x1.5) SPD (x.5) Total
SAV (2) 4 (12) 5 (5) 4.5 (13.5) 4 (6) 3.5 (5.25) 2.5 (1.25) 43
HICK (3) 5 (15) 1 (1) 4 (12) 3.5 (5.25) 4.5 (6.75) 2 (1) 41
WISC (7) 5 (15) 4 (4) 2.5 (7.5) 1.5 (2.25) 3 (4.5) 4 (2) 35.25
SATB (8) 3 (9) 2.5 (2.5) 3 (9) 4.5 (6.75) 3.5 (5.25) 3 (1.5) 34
SPR (11) 1.5 (4.5) 4 (4) 5 (15) 2 (3) 2(3) 3 (1.5) 31
WEST v RHP (x3) v LHP (x1) SP (x3) RP (x1.5) DEF (x1.5) SPD (x.5) Total
BUSH (4) 5 (15) 4.5 (4.5) 2.5 (7.5) 4 (6) 3 (4.5) 4.5 (2.25) 39.75
SUP (5) 4 (12) 4.5 (4.5) 4 (12) 3 (4.5) 3 (4.5) 3 (1.5) 39
MICH (t-12) 1.5 (4.5) 2 (2) 2 (6) 2 (3) 4.5 (6.75) 4 (2) 24.25
IOWA (14) 3 (9) 2 (2) 1.5 (4.5) 1 (1.5) 2.5 (3.75) 2 (1) 21.75
CHAT (15) 1 (3) 3.5 (3.5) 1 (3) 1 (1.5) 3 (4.5) 1.5 (.75) 16.25

2012 I-75 League blog in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 7,200 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 12 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Applegate upsets Chatfield for first world title since 1996

The last time the Applegate Paperclips won a world championship, Bill Clinton was president, Macarena was the top song of the year, and Phil Roselli had hair.

That was way back in 1996 when we were a nine-team league. The fourth-place Paperclips defeated the South Florida Brown Sox in five games for the franchise’s only World Series crown.

But now, the Clips own a second world championship, having upset the Chatfield Choo Choos in five games for the 2012 title.

In our first season of expansion to 15 teams, Chatfield and Applegate each captured divisional crowns and earned a bye into the semifinals, but Chatfield went into the finals as a heavy favorite, having smacked the Paperclips around in 9 of their 10 regular-season games on its way to a spectacular 121-win season.

But after splitting the first two games in Chatfield, Applegate reeled off three consecutive victories at home to capture the crown.  A staunch bullpen, in which six of their seven relievers posted 0.00  ERAs, and a 13-7 advantage in homers made the difference for Applegate. Sergio Santos, a middle reliever, allowed just 3 hits in 8 1/3 innings of work while striking out 12 to collect series MVP honors.

“Everything just came together,” said Paperclips manager Gary Kicinski. “Chatfield had a better team, but we managed to hit our split rolls when home run chances came up, and we were able to dent their dynamic bullpen. And on the other side, our bullpen was phenomenal. With every game a nail-biter, the bullpen performance proved to be key.”

Applegate advanced to the finals by defeating longtime rival Bismarck in five games, while Chatfield took six games to eliminate Margaritaville.

Bismarck had surprised Springfield in six games in a first-round series, while Margaritaville had turned back Savannah in five games in its first-round series.