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Silver League Update: How'd It Go?

Everyone in the Silver League started with a strategy. We all had players we liked and didn't like, trends we believed in and didn't, plans we thought occurred to nobody else. Right after the draft, I felt like it was an impressively equal league. Nobody seemed to get all the good picks, nobody seemed to bomb their team in March. I knew it would be a tough league to win, and judging by my place in the standings, it was.

But things happen over the season. Injuries, breakouts, trades, good luck and bad luck, and everything else that makes baseball great -- and frustrating. For the next couple weeks, I'll be taking a look at each team, to see what went right and what didn't, what strategic moves helped (and could help again), and which gambles didn't pay off. Though things can (and will) still change, I'll go roughly in reverse order of standings, so here's the 12th place team:

Mr. Perfect 56 -- 38.5 points, 12th place

R   HR   RBI   SB   AVG   W   SV   K   ERA   WHIP
4     1        2        4      8      4.5    8     1    3            3

Top 6 Draft Picks:
Adrian Gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia, Pablo Sandoval, Mike Napoli, Elvis Andrus, Eric Hosmer

What Went Right:
Not a lot, honestly. The brightest spot on the stat line is the eight points in batting average. Chris Perez and Jim Johnson were a way better pair of closers than I would have imagined and have led the way to a respectable save total. Getting Johnny Cueto in the 17th round was a great pickup. A.J. Pierzynski in the 24th round should have been low-risk but he really brought upside, especially early in the season.

What Went Wrong: 
Just take a look at those top six picks -- who wouldn't have been jealous of the Gonzalez/Hosmer first-base combo in March? Napoli should have locked the catcher position down all by himself. Unfortunately, the rest of Mr. Perfect's draft went the same way as far as luck goes: Michael Pineda and Ryan Madson didn't play at all. Jhoulys Chacin, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Ricky Romero turned into pumpkins in a big way. Justin Morneau and Nick Markakis spent a lot of time on the DL. Ichiro became an elderly person. There was a lot of bad luck, but I do think avoiding pitchers until taking Josh Johnson in the eighth round might have something to do with some very low pitching scores.

Major Moves:
Early in the season, Mr. Perfect sent a slumping Hosmer to McRuder for Miguel Montero and Madison Bumgarner. It was a great return for Hosmer, all the better since he never did shake off the slump. Mr.Perfect also sent Shane Victorino and Markakis (in separate trades) to Spirit of St. Louis for Chris Johnson, Jonathan Broxton, Shaun Marcum, and Neftali Feliz. Few of the players in those trades have been much help, but at least he got some saves from Brox.

Analysis:
Mr. Perfect could move into 11th place, but isn't likely to go farther than that, as the 10th place team is almost 20 points ahead. This team hit some serious bad luck, over and over. Players like Gonzalez, Hosmer, and Napoli should have been rocks for this team, but they'll be big question marks going into next year too.

 

JamesRiverTrophyCarp--40.5 points, 11th place

R   HR   RBI   SB   AVG   W   SV   K   ERA   WHIP
8     9       5       7        1       2.5   3     3      1             1
 

Top 6 Draft Picks:
Matt Kemp, Adrian Beltre, CC Sabathia, Dan Uggla, Stephen Strasburg, Lance Berkman

What Went Right:
The beginning of the season, from the looks of it. Matt Kemp started out on fire, as did late-rounder Bryan LaHair. Grabbing Adam Dunn in the 17th round must be a big part of those 9 points in HR ... and that last-place average. In fact, that general homers at expense of average has worked, with players like Dan Uggla, J.J. Hardy, and Ian Desmond all contributing.

What Went Wrong:
The homers-for-average trade might have worked a little too well, with the nine points and one point averaging out at just five. This was a team that could have really used a few BA anchors to balance things out. Uggla, of course, hasn't helped in HR enough to justify that average. Berkman never got off the ground. The real mess is in the pitching, though. JamesRiver's top pitchers were Sabathia, Strasburg, Adam Wainwright, Josh Beckett, and Mat Latos. Only Sabathia is still on the team, supported by Jeremy Hellickson, Rick Porcello, and Brett Anderson. Ouch.

Major Moves: 
Speaking of things that didn't go well, JamesRiver made two early trades that didn't quite pan out. They swapped Wainwright for Mariano Rivera before the season started and then sent Strasburg and Zach Cozart to McRuder for Hellickson and Johan Santana. To be fair, Santana was pitching really, really well at the time. Still, these two trades really hurt the JamesRiver pitching staff.

Analysis:
There's always a lot of bad luck on teams this far out of contention and JamesRiver is no exception. I would have thought a team with Rivera, Andrew Bailey, and Brandon League was pretty stacked for closers at the beginning of the year. Losing your No. 1 hitter (Kemp) and pitcher (Sabathia) for extended periods is always rough. Sometimes you just get a team where nothing seems to go right, whether it's losing stars or seeing useful role players like Berkman or Peter Bourjos disappear into uselessness.

 

Rally Beers--58 points, 10th place

R   HR   RBI   SB   AVG   W   SV   K   ERA   WHIP
11  12       7        1      5         1      4     5     6            6

Top 6 Draft Picks:
Ryan Braun, Giancarlo Stanton, Zack Greinke, Josh Hamilton, Kevin Youkilis, Alex Rodriguez

What Went Right:
There's a big difference between this team and the two behind it, as you could say that "power" really went well for the Rally Beers. They're sitting on top in runs and homers, and above average in RBIs. Beyond the big names, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Chase Headley, and Garrett Jones have added plenty of power.

What Went Wrong:
Things weren't so successful on the pitching side. Zack Greinke started strong, but hasn't pitched terribly well since returning to the AL, dragging down his once ace-level stats. The real answer to that question, though is in the Beers' 5th-10th draft picks: Youkilis, A-Rod, Carl Crawford, Tommy Hanson, Brandon Beachy, and Cory Luebke. There was a good plan for pitching in here, it just happened to fall flat. Crawford should have helped drag the Beers out of the steals cellar, but that didn't happen either.

Major Moves: 
The Rally Beers swapped Kelly Johnson for Brett Myers, which didn't help that much in saves. They made a great trade in August, sending Austin Jackson to the Playmakers for Jay Bruce and Matt Moore

Analysis:
The Rally Beers are the last in a group of tightly packed teams--only 12 points separate the Beers from third place, so this team could realistically move far up in the standings by the season's end, and probably can't finish any lower than this. They gave a good draft, and got more bad luck than good, which is why they're on this end of the pack. There's still plenty of room for things to change.

 

Busey's Bandits--60.5 points, 9th place

 R   HR   RBI   SB   AVG   W   SV   K   ERA   WHIP
 6      4        8       5      6       4.5    9     4     9            5     

Top 6 Draft Picks:
Robinson Cano, Jose Reyes, Felix Hernandez, Matt Holliday, Jon Lester, Brian McCann

What Went Right:
This is an interesting team to look at, because they aren't at the top or bottom of any category: all their scores are between four and nine. Nabbing Tyler Clippard -- and staying patient with him until he became closer -- worked out really well, as did picking up Carlos Marmol and Ernesto Frieri from the waiver wire. King Felix as been an ace of aces and well worth his third-round pick. 

What Went Wrong: 
Together, McCann and Joe Mauer can do it all. Too bad they can't both have power and average like the old days. They're still a great catching duo, but the cost was probably higher than they've actually been worth. The back of the Bandits' outfield is rough, with Chris Young, Drew Stubbs, and Logan Morrison disappointing. The traded-for Ryan Zimmerman certainly hasn't been himself.

Major Moves:
The Bandits made two huge trades with McRuder, trading for and then trading away Joey Votto ... just in time for his April power slump. Allen Craig, Hellickson, and Lester also changed hands twice, so the trade ended up being Robinson Cano and Jason Heyward for Ryan Zimmerman, Billy Butler, and Joel Hanrahan. I'd take McRuder's side of that, but the Bandits did get value here.

Analysis:
As I noted above, this isn't a team that things have gone terribly for or excellently. They're in ninth place at this writing, but I wouldn't be shocked if they moved up or down by the time you're reading this. As for the rest of the season, they could viably finish as high as third still, but something between seventh and tenth is more likely.

Next week we'll look at the next four teams on the list, and work my way up from there. Of course, teams will be changing places and climbing over each other in that time. Maybe even mine will ...


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