I wanted to try a historical replay league with the new AI GM, and this concept was at the top of my list of ideas. The St. Louis Cardinals are my favorite team, and Stan Musial was/is my favorite player. The Cardinals won the WS in 1946, but did not win again until 1964 (one year after he retired). This was partially due to bad management from the time that Branch Rickey left in 1942 through the mid-50's when August Busch bought the team. My goal for this league is to correct this injustice, and have Stan the Man be the cornerstone of the best franchise in baseball during its "golden age".
Shaun's statement in the 1.84 BETA 2 release notes was also a motivating factor in creating this league: "Updated Computer GM AI in real player associations. I doubt any of you guys will be able to beat it now. Good luck!" We'll see about that, Shaun.
The settings for this league are:
Real Major League Players - Career Mode
Use Finances (start at default 1% scale)
40 Player Organization Roster
Injuries Can Occur (YES)
Allow Computer AI Trades (YES)
Association Expansion Possible (YES)
Player/Team Affinity (YES)
Player Ratings Change In Season (YES)
Import Players Prior To Their MLB Debut (NO)
Modern Closer Usage
Import Player Historical Stats (YES)
The 5-man rotations work ok even in the 40's because the AI often skips the 5th starter anyway. I like the extra starting pitcher for all the double-headers on the retrosheet schedule. The modern closer usage is also ok because some of the teams actually had/used closers even in 1946.
My own competitive rules for this league are:
- must not be the highest payroll in the league (but 2nd is ok)
- payroll must be less than the average of the top 3 teams (excluding the Cardinals)
- every game will be simulated so only the GM skills come into play (will manage WS games though, if I am lucky enough to get there)
- must use each year's initial amateur draft picks to select the Cardinals' major home-grown stars (although I can trade them later)
The Cardinals won the WS in 1946, so I am not starting with a weak roster. I am also starting with a pretty high payroll, which limited what I could do before my first spring training. However, like any good GM, I went looking for affordable upgrades.
My primary need was catcher. I did not like the idea of platooning Joe Garagiola/Ken O'Dea (L) with Del Rice/Clyde Kluttz (R). Del Rice was the Cardinals' primary catcher into the 50's, but he was not a good offensive player. I felt that upgrading this important position with a player that could be a fixture was a key to improving the long-term performance of the franchise. My first choice was Yogi Berra. This was in part to rectify an earlier transgression by Branch Rickey. In the early 40's, Rickey scouted two young catchers who were neighbors in the Italian section of St. Louis. He signed Garagiola but left Berra unsigned because Rickey knew he was leaving for the Dodgers and wanted Berra for his new team. Unfortunately for him, Berra signed with the Yankees instead. Unfortunately for me, Shaun's new AI wanted absolutely no part of a Berra trade that did not include Stan Musial on my side. Not just Stan alone mind you (decent offer but we want just a little more), but Stan plus one of Enos Slaughter, Red Schoendienst, or Marty Marion. I think this extremely high price for Berra is very realistic for a 21-year future HOF catcher who is signed for the next 3 years at $21,000/year. There was no way I would part with Musial though.
Since Yogi was off the table, I went looking for other options. The Phillies were thrilled to trade their 25-year old catcher, Andy Seminick (potential 22 and developing), straight up for Del Rice (age 24, potential 48 and developing). I was thrilled too, so we made the trade. Andy Seminick was a solid starting catcher for the Phillies through the late 40's and early 50's. He was a star on the 1950 WS "Whiz Kids", and finished 14th in the MVP voting that year. Andy Seminick was definitely a better hitter than Del Rice, and possibly a better defensive catcher too. I immediately signed Andy to a 3-year extension. I felt he was well worth it, even though his annual salary was $30,000 more than the very inexpensive Del Rice. This was a fairly realistic trade, considering both players were at comparable stages of a long-term career. No one knows which will turn out to be the better player in this universe. I am betting heavily on Seminick, and hoping that he has upside over his real stats when placed on a great team surrounded by other good hitters.
You can never have too much pitching, and I wanted a solid fourth starter (right-handed) to go with Howie Pollet, Murry Dickson, and Harry Brecheen. Several teams wanted to give me their older (age 37-40) starters cheap, but I was looking for a long-term solution. The Red Sox were willing to part with Joe Dobson for Fred Martin. Martin was a 31-year old career minor-league starter (potential 13 and past-peak) with a brief but relatively successful major league career (12-3 3.78). Joe Dobson was a solid 29-year old starter (potential 24 and past-peak) over 13 major league seasons (137-103 3.62 lifetime) who was very durable, pitched a lot of innings, and was entering the prime of his career. Both were signed for 3 years. I felt the extra $50,000 salary per year for Dobson was very justified, and I plugged him into my rotation. (I also did not feel bad about stealing a pitcher from the Red Sox, who the Cardinals played in the 1946 WS.)
My very expensive starting rotation is entirely signed for 3-5 years each, so I hope they are worth it because I can't afford any more pitchers. In fact, I can't afford any more of anything. There are no available free agents worth signing anyway, so it is time to go to war with this group.
LF Harry Walker (L)
2B Red Schoendienst (S)
1B Stan Musial (L)
3B Whitey Kurowski (R)
RF Enos Slaughter (L)
C Andy Seminick (R)
CF Erv Dusak/Terry Moore (R)
SS Marty Marion (R)
Dick Sisler (L)
Howie Pollet (L)
Murry Dickson (R)
Harry Brecheen (L)
Joe Dobson (R)
Al Brazle (L) or Ken Burkhart (R)
I'd like to keep Brazle in the bullpen to setup for my closer, Ted Wilks. This will depend upon how well Ken Burkhardt or Johnny Beazley can do as a fifth starter. I will start the season with Burkhardt there and skip his spot in the rotation when possible. Injuries and double-headers will cause me to make adjustments, I'm sure.
The PSPN power rankings are out, and they were apparently not impressed with my pre-season moves. I am predicted at 10th out of 16 teams, finishing 6th in the NL behind the Giants, Braves, Cubs, Reds, and Pirates, and ahead of only the Dodgers and Phillies. Well, PSPN isn't always right so we'll play it out anyway.
< Message edited by Orcin -- 9/3/2009 9:38:28 PM >