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PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2018 4:20 pm 
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Jacksonville won 107 games last year as the clear winner of their division. Now entering 2035, they find themselves in the JL Southeast - looking to fend off the likes of New Orleans, Louisville and Huntsville to retain the honor in a new division. Here is my best guess at their opening day roster and my thoughts on their chances of repeating.

Rotation
1) Gonzalez
2) Cavazos
3) Meza
4) Soliz
5) Nunez

Huh... that unit is pretty mediocre. Maybe even bad - comparatively. Certainly not a 100+ win rotation. It seems the loss of Mendez this offseason is going to sting. One thing I like is how left-handed heavy it is with 3 arms (Gonzalez, Cavazos and Soliz) all being Southpaws - that'll be a pretty good leg up everytime they play the left-hand happy Phantoms. Of course, New Orleans and Louisville generally skew right-handed, so maybe a curious case overall. I wonder how much in-division matchups played into its construction? At any rate, Gonzalez and Cavazos are old, but - for now at least - they seem to holding their ratings together and should put up solid seasons. Will they put up #1 and #2 seasons? No - probably more like mid-rotation level production. And the rest of the rotation looks like back of the rotation type material in a strong unit. Suffice to say I wouldn't call this unit a team strength. And if the 35 and 36 year old veterans at the top start to leak ratings mid-season, it could end up as a huge negative.

Bullpen
1) Grady
2) Markert
3) Crane
4) Fuller
5) Montalvo
6) Braddock (LOOGY?)

All in all, this is a really strong and deep unit. In fact, the highest career FIP between the top 4 arms is 3.68 (Fuller) - that's scary good. Montalvo and Braddock have had rough starts to their careers thus far, but in limited roles (with Braddock maybe being relegated to just a LOOGY) they can't do too much harm. At the end of the day, if the plan is to throw a quick hook on their #3-5 SPs and let this bullpen do a lot of their heavy lifting then all in all the pitching looks half-decent. I, personally, haven't had luck trying to get the OOTP AI to cooperate with me like that, though. Even if that isn't the strategy and the bullpen gets handed a lot of 4-5 run games in the 6th - the Hurricanes can at least be relatively confident in keeping the game right around there until the end and letting their offense make up the difference.

Infield v. RHP
C Scholes
1B Rutledge
2B Arbizo
3B Noboru
SS Hatcher

First things first - Rutledge and Noboru are absolute studs. I can't help but see shades of Moreno and Eisenhower when I look at them - and this pair is clearly primed to do a lot of heavy lifting for this ball club. Around them, I am really high on Arbizo and think he might be a lot closer to the rarified air of Noboru and Rutledge than some might think - maybe he shows that this year. At C and SS... eh, what can you say? Clearly the emphasis here is defense over offense. Last year they managed a .701 and .665 OPS respectively. I think those are both on the high end of their potential and you're more realistically looking at .650 and <.600 OPS for Scholes and Hatcher respectively in a given year. Will their defense make up for that in terms of personal value? Will having back to back free outs at the back of the lineup overall damage the offense more than you might expect? Those are questions worth pondering.

Outfield vs. RHP
LF Martinez
CF Chavez
RF Gonzaga
DH Thomas III

Wow, make that 3 legit superstars as we add Martinez to the mix. Chavez and Gonzaga have flashed some great potential with the bat in the past to go along with stellar defense, too. In fact, it's probably worth commenting that up and down this is a remarkable defense. I was hard on Scholes and Fuller, but maybe having superior defense is something the organization prides itself on - and maybe it's especially important with the rotation they plan to run out there. Of course, having Noboru-Martinez-Rutledge in the heart of your lineup makes punting the #8-9 slots easier, too, I imagine. I'm not sure how much Thomas might have left in the tank, but as the 7-hole hitter with 6 quality (including 3 superstar level) offensive players in front of him I think Jacksonville will be A-Okay in this department.

Prediction
Overall, this team's bread and butter are bullpen pitching, team defense and middle of the lineup superstar offense. Their rotation is objectively bad and their lineup won't be quite as deep as others, but even so it's tough to not see this team being successful in 2035. Will they break 100 wins again? It would surprise me, but I suppose it's not outside the realm of possibility. For now, though, I'm going to be a little more measured in my prediction. 92 wins, playoffs.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2018 4:46 pm 
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Clear winner? Ehh.. they had to win game 163 to win it.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2018 4:50 pm 
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Sure, but after that it was clear!

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2018 4:51 pm 
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Now that I've read the preview, they are definitely playoff team. Nice write up.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2018 4:51 pm 
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RonCo wrote:
Sure, but after that it was clear!
True. :roll: :crazylaugh:

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2018 9:37 pm 
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bcslouck wrote:
Clear winner? Ehh.. they had to win game 163 to win it.

It's not often a team wins 106 games and still needs a play-in game to determine the division.

Good stuff Stever. I think we got very lucky with the rotation last year (unless someone out there was expecting a 3.60 from Mendez, 3.70 from Cruz, and 3.40 from Torres), but I don't really think the talent in that rotation was any better than what we currently have. I'll just keep doubling down on bats with gloves and compiling 7-9 players who are good enough to be in a BBA rotation and just hoping 3-4 of them prove worth a damn.

I don't care if we win 100 or the division, all I care about is a seat at the table. As long as we make the playoffs, we have a shot with the bats we have.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2018 10:28 am 
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udlb58 wrote:
I don't care if we win 100 or the division, all I care about is a seat at the table. As long as we make the playoffs, we have a shot with the bats we have.


Playoff byes are pretty important, but otherwise I whole-heartedly agree. There is no difference between being an 85 win team in the last seed or a 95 win team in the 3rd seed. I can't really imagine a scenario where you're not a playoff team with this roster barring catastrophic injury.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2018 8:36 am 
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agrudez wrote:
udlb58 wrote:
I don't care if we win 100 or the division, all I care about is a seat at the table. As long as we make the playoffs, we have a shot with the bats we have.


Playoff byes are pretty important, but otherwise I whole-heartedly agree. There is no difference between being an 85 win team in the last seed or a 95 win team in the 3rd seed. I can't really imagine a scenario where you're not a playoff team with this roster barring catastrophic injury.

Do we know who gets byes? Is it the top 2 records in the league, with the #3 division winner having to play in the first round?

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