Preparing for the regular season

Now that the pointless spring training games are done, it’s time to setup your team for the regular season. Hopefully none of your key players got injured. I sat all my players to avoid any potential injuries, and as far as I can tell, no one lost any rating points because of it.

I’m going to try something new with my team to start the season, and that’s to have only 11 pitchers on my 25-man roster. Usually I run 12 pitchers, but having been in the AL the past two years, I’ve noticed my seventh guy in the pen rarely gets used. Last year that was Joe Turner, who pitched only 26 1/3 innings last year.

Part of the reason is probably because I am in the AL, which relies on less strategy when it comes to pinch hitting for pitchers. I’ll see how it goes, knowing I can just demote a batter if things get tight.

My rotation will consist of:Midre Hernandez, Jody DuBose, Albert Granados, Edgardo Martin, and Jim Tice. I’m more than happy with what I’m working with here. Outside of Martin, all of them are on the wrong side of 30, and with the exception of Grandados’ stamina, none of them have shown any signs of decline, yet.

John Clayton will be my primary pitcher out of the pen, and should be in line for another 100+ quality innings. I expect Vinny Martin, and Marcus Shave to stay healthier and pitch better, respectively, than they did last year. They’ll be my next two guys out of the pen. My last two short relief options are going to be Eugene Priest, and Quilvio Polanco. My one long relief option this year will be Chris Murphy after Aramis James left for free agency, where he still sits.

All in all, I’d say I have a pretty decent pitching staff to work with. If anything worries me it’s the fact I only have two right handed arms in my pen. Edwin Parker might be an option if I find right handed batters beating up on me.

Being a fan of sabermetrics, and I use the same philosphy to set my lineups as well. For a little more information on optimized lineups, check out this article. The sim recommended lineup says I should play Abdul Shannon, Carl Parrish, Howard Blake, Max Acevedo, Benji Diaz, Vladimir Encarnacion, Jimmie Velazquez, Ed Stockton, and Pedro Baez, in that order. Using last season’s statistics, that lineup is estimated to score 5.469 runs a game, or 885 if everyone played 162 games.

I’m going to play Trevor Garcia over Baez, just because Baez was so horrible at the plate last year. Going by ratings, Garcia is a worse batter, but better in the field. If Garcia has an OBP over .300, I’ll keep running with him, but by game 60 or so, I might switch over to Baez if he can’t produce.

Using an “optimized” lineup of Blake, Parrish, Diaz, Acevedo, Shannon, Encarnacion, Garcia, Stockton, and Velazquez would theoretically score 5.547 runs a game, or 899 over 162 games. That’s about 14 runs, or 1.4 wins. Might not seem like a huge difference, but with teams spending about $3-4 million per “win” on the free agent market, I’ll go with it.

Matt Gold will be my primary defensive replacement, after I couldn’t move him in the off-season to save salary. Angel Rodriguez and Karim Cortazar will be my primary pinch hitters. Rodriguez had a down year in season 20, but definitely found a niche last year spelling both Acevedo and Encarnacion down the stretch. He’s not an everyday player anymore, but still has a little left in him. Hopefully Cortazar can find that same niche coming off the bench after having a down year last season. Carlos Ortiz is the 25th man on the roster. He spent most of last season in AAA. He probably won’t see much playing time, and will be the first one sacrificed if my bullpen gets fatigued.

Overall, I don’t see too many holes on my team. With pretty much the same guys who won 102 games last year, I hope to improve by having Midre Hernandez for a full season, along with Grandados in my rotation over Brant Wulf. Benji Diaz playing 1B should also be an improvement over Cortazar.

Prediction: Another 100+ win season battling New York for the division crown.

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