That's What Cheesehead: 39.04 - Island of Misfit Pieces

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That's What Cheesehead: 39.04 - Island of Misfit Pieces

Post by 7teen » Thu Jul 04, 2019 1:24 pm

If you can hit, you can play. That appears to be the Madison Wolves philosophy this season. Of course, who are we kidding. It's been the philosophy in Madison for quite some time. But in 2039, it may never be truer. Eighteen games into the season the Wolves rank 3rd in the Frick League in runs scored but 13th in runs allowed. Sure, the pitching staff in Madison is a patchwork bunch filled with whoever can throw a ball 60 feet 6 inches, but a closer look at the club shows it isn't just a bad pitching problem. The Wolves rank dead last in defense in the BBA. And it's dead last by a WIDE MARGIN. You don't have to look very hard to see why.

We'll skip the obvious Steve Dempsey story as he's been discussed plenty (He is hitting .353 with an .816 OPS though). I would mention Elroy Hinson some, who at the age of 39 is hitting .356 with a .932 OPS but defensively is washed up. "The Wolves would be better off just letting the ball hit the umpire or the backstop and rolling back to the pitcher at this point" said one rival scout. But considering he has a positive ZR, I won't focus on him a whole lot. I'll even skip the Mons Raider should be a 1B and not a 2B story line for now because, well, Mons hasn't played a single game this season due to an injury suffered in spring training. He's due back in a few weeks and will likely be put back into the lineup somewhere. We say somewhere because who knows at this point. In fact, it is the Raider injury that probably leads into the Wolves defensive curiosities. Those focus on the middle infield.

The Wolves shifted Jharrod Thealer to shortstop full-time in 2037 in an effort to load up on offense. You see the theme here? Natanael Barral had burst onto the scene the previous season and the Wolves needed him to play 1B. So Raider had to go back to 2B but Thealer had to play. So shortstop was the only position. A 2B by trade, Thealer has been adequate at SS over his time there. Is adequate fair? He's not terrible. He's not a gold glover either. When Raider went down with the spring injury, many thought Thealer would slide over to 2B so the Wolves could play a glove guy at SS. Nope. Enter Rafael Gutierrez.

Guttierrez was an international free agent signing by the Wolves in 2036 and the front office has been drooling over his development ever since the signing. Despite some poor seasons in the minors, Guttierrez's ability continued to climb. So much so that he was ready late last season for a big league call-up but the Wolves held out until this season. Why? Because Guttierez plays 3B. Well, what's the problem? We've not mentioned a 3B here yet. Oh yeah, there's Ross Quicker.

Quicker was one of the few players in the BBA who was classified as a true 5-tool guy last season. Quicker hit 22 homeruns and stole 46 bases last season while hitting .300 with an .875 OPS and played pretty even defense at the hot-corner. Quicker's WAR has increased over each of his first 3 big league seasons and at the age of just 22 is a budding player in the league. So no way Guttierez plays over Quicker. So what's the answer?

"Easy" said Wilson before opening day. "Guttierez can hit. He has to play. 2B isn't any different than 3B. He can play there."

That's been the answer so far. Offensively, it's worked. The Wolves are 3rd in runs scored, remember? Defensively? Well there is a difference between 2B and 3B. Guttierrez has a -2.4 ZR so far this season at 2B and has made 4 errors in 11 games.

The Wolves on the season have a -12.1 ZR so far on the season. The Frick League as a whole stands at -13.1 total. So the rest of the league is at a -1.0 while Madison stands at -12.1. Hell, the Johnson League combined together is playing positive defense.

So how does Madison fix this? What happens when Raider comes back in two weeks?

"We don't know yet" said Wolves GM Chris Wilson who keeps treating the Wolves roster like a fantasy league or high school team. "I guess we'll cross that bridge when Raider returns. For now, we're just going to keep scoring runs and hope these guys don't screw up too much."

Guttierez is hitting .360 with an .880 OPS so I guess Wilson is getting what he wants in the end!
Chris Wilson

LB Surfers 95-96
FL Pac Champs: 95

Madison Wolves 99-2039
JL MW Champs: 99 to 2009, 17, 20, 21
JL WC: 12
JL Champs: 01, 04, 09, 12
FL Heartland Champs: 32
FL WC: 31, 33
BBA Champs: 04, 09

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