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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State of the Expansion Franchise: Iowa

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

With 40 games to play in their third season in the league, John Renbarger’s Iowa Cyclones stand the best chance of any expansion team to earn a playoff berth.

The Cyclones have put themselves in such a position by being the most active of the four expansion teams in the trade market, adhering to a specific drafting strategy and offensive concept, and lucking into Mike Trout.

Mike Trout

Mike Trout

Iowa Cyclones Roster Evolution

Players acquired pre-2012: 37
Players dealt away: 18
Players cut: 15
Still Cyclones: 4  — OF Mike Trout, C Salvador Perez, OF Jayson Werth, 1B Ryan Howard.

2014 record: 68-52 (.567)
2013 record: 67-93 (.419)
2012 record: 60-100 (.375)

Face of the franchise: Mike Trout

GM Style: Off the charts — Iowa likes to roll the dice. It has attempted just one sac bunt all year — a successful squeeze by Jason Castro — and 8 hit-and-run maneuvers. It has not intentionally walked a single player.

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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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Meet the new managers: John Renbarger

John Renbarger, manager of the expansion Iowa Swirling Cyclones, was born one month after the I-75 League celebrated its 10th anniversary.

Still a student at Iowa State, where he is majoring in chemical engineering, John displaces Dan Wilson as the youngest manager in the league, but in so doing becomes the second second-generation manager in the league.

The fanatacism that his father, Mike, showed in Strat began to rub off on John in his teen-age years, and so while John is a managerial newbie, the terminology and gameplay are things he has lived with all of his life.

Read John’s complete managerial profile here.

Meet the new managers: Ken Crawford

Ken Crawford has dubbed his team the Michigan Moneyballers, but does he subscribe to the Moneyball principles?

That remains to be seen, but the Ohio native did earn a living as a financial consultant before semi-retiring in 2011 to spend more time learning how to play Strat.  You will recall that he shared managerial duties with John Renbarger at the helm of the orphaned Detroit Demolition Dogs.

A childhood pal of Dave Renbarger’s from their time together at both North Farmington High School and the University of Michigan, Ken has been subjected to second-hand Strat via that relationship for more than 30 years. An avid follower of the Detroit Tigers and major league baseball, Ken hopes the enjoyment of that crosses over into Strat-O-Matic. He even vows to replace his Commodore 64 with a real computer in time for next season and to have Netplay and Hamachi humming on all cylinders by March.

Read Ken’s complete profile here.