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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Gophers upend Volcanoes in epic World Series thriller

It's officially engraved: Bushwood is 2013 World Series champion.

It’s officially engraved: Bushwood is 2013 World Series champion.

In a World Series that was so close that it took seven games and then three extra innings to decide, the Bushwood Gophers won a Game 7 for the ages by a 4-3 score over the Margaritaville Volcanoes to claim the club’s second I-75 Mail League championship in four years and sixth overall in the 34-year franchise history.

After splitting the first six games that featured multiple lead changes, momentum swings and excitement galore, the two evenly matched clubs embarked on a Game 7 that will certainly go down as the most excruciating ever played in the long SOM careers of opposing managers Dave Renbarger and John McMillan.

For the visiting Gophers, Game 7 ended in elation, when franchise player Albert Pujols doubled home Alex Rios from first base in the 12th inning with the winning run after Bushwood had executed several Houdini-like escapes throughout the late going.

From innings 9 through 12, Margaritaville was one roll away from the title on nine different occasions with a runner in scoring position, but failed to bring him home all nine times. 

For the Volcanoes, playing in their third World Series in club history, it was the most bitter of all pills to swallow. In both of his previous Series trips, Doc Grid’s team lost in seven games (in 2007 vs. SGP and in 2011 vs. Hickory). This Game 7 loss, however, featured 16 runners left on base overall, including seven in the last four innings. From innings 9 through 12, Margaritaville was one roll away from the title on nine different occasions with a runner in scoring position, but failed to bring him home all nine times. One of those runners was cut down at the plate by an eyelash in the 11th.

“I know it’s a cliché, but neither team deserved to lose that Series,” said Renbarger in the champagne-soaked Gophers clubhouse. “That seventh game was a real meat-grinder, and I have to admit that the Gophers were lucky to it. But we’ll take it.”

“We certainly had more than enough chances,” said McMillan. “Stranding all those runners in Game 7 was bizarre and frustrating, to say the least.”

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Word of warning: Yahoo! stats can’t be trusted

That starting pitcher you are thinking of retaining probably isn’t as good as you think he is, if you are basing your decision on stats from his Yahoo! fantasy profile.

The Yahoo! stats are flawed, particularly when it comes to pitchers’ slugging average allowed, which also makes his on-base plus slugging average incorrect.

Let’s take the top pitcher from the 2013 season, Clayton Kershaw. Let’s look at his lefty-righty pitching splits.

kershaw-yahooLet’s ignore for the moment that Yahoo, in its effort to deliver a prettier page than it used to, has decided to order its stats with slugging before on-base, which is annoying in itself. But here it shows Kershaw with slugging allowed numbers of .234 vs. lefties and .262 vs. righties.

kershaw-espnCompare this with ESPN, which shows slugging splits of .253 and .283. As a result, Kershaw’s OB+Slug numbers differ too: .442 and .493 on Yahoo’s page, .477 and .532 on ESPN’s page.

Yahoo’s OB and Slug numbers don’t even add up to the number they display as “OBSA.” With Kershaw vs. righties, .248 + .262 would equal .510, not .493 as it displays.

Baseball-reference.com’s stats and FanGraphs’ stats match those of ESPN.

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Four teams assessed draft-pick penalties for 2013 violations

The Rules Enforcement Committee  has concluded its evaluation of several end-of-year violations. Six cases were considered, resulting in assessment of four draft-pick penalties and two warnings.

The REC created a set of guidelines to follow to assist it in assessing fair penalties. These guidelines provide rough parameters while still allowing for the exercising of judgment within those ranges. One tier of guidelines applies to accidental infractions; the other tier to willful or neglectful violations. In both tiers, the effect of the violation on standings integrity, and consideration of whether this was a repeat violation, were factored into the decisions.

Further, the REC decided that when a penalty assessment involves a draft pick, managers will lose the right to select a player where the pick was originally slotted. Instead, affected picks will be moved to a special end-of-draft supplemental round. Those picks can still be traded but the selection of players with those picks will still be withheld until the supplemental round.

Here are the six case summaries:

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