Monday, July 14, 2008

Ah, .500

Well, this is a nice feeling. The Blackland Bees just won their 12th game of the season - the one that guarantees at least a .500 record - in time for a nice little break during All-Star Week. Of course, if the folks at Gameday Ritual hadn't dropped the .500 requirement to return to Champions Leagues I wouldn't be here celebrating this now slightly-less-meaningful milestone. But still, it's a victory worth pausing over.

The thing I find most interesting is the difference in this team between last year (when I couldn't get the team to .500 at all) and this year (when the team has not coasted, but not barely staggered, either, to .800). The answer lies entirely in the pitching. Being out from under the last of the really bad contracts that my predecessor left me with at the beginning of the 2007 season gave me a shot to do some serious work on the staff in the FAB this year.

In the end, I don't think it's necessarily that my pitchers are overly amazing (though new acquisitions Bannister and Kuroda have generally done well) as much as it is having pitchers who can be counted on to put up a good fight for the potentially game-changing SP Matchup bonus points that the Ruth League has turned on. Having a true ace (Haren, in my case) and solid guys at #s 2 and 3 seems to be critical in this format in a way that it isn't in leagues that don't have the SP matchup bonuses.

My predecessor had built a team of expensive hitters (Ichiro, Wright, Utley and an overpaid Michael Young) and had neglected pitching badly. He paid for it in his one season and I paid for it last year. But with those guys' contracts expiring after this season and some very nice prospects (Jay Bruce, Evan Longoria) already signed for that blessedly sweet league minimum .5M, I'm already starting to plan how the team will look in 2009. By the the Bees will resemble their roots so little that it will be hard to remember back when they were know by their original, first-season-performance-appropriate nickname, the Muckdogs.

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