2022 Fly-By-Night Team Article Archive


 

 

 

DEVIL DOODLES - 3-31

The Blue Devils headed into their 36th season in the FBN with plenty of optimism coming off a solid 89 win season in 2021 and management feeling they had improved starting pitching including a potential ace in Robbie Ray. But all those positive vibes have disappeared in an incredibly horrible and embarrassing start to the season at 2-14!! Far and away the worst start ever in franchise history. The team is currently on a 10 game losing streak getting swept in back to back series by Wall Street and Burlington. The offense has been beyond pathetic batting .208 and getting outscored 75-47, out hit 145-111 and out homered 25-12. The worst part is the offense has been literally incapable of getting a hit with runners in scoring position. CT is 0-6 in one run games including losing four games 2-1. Incredibly disappointing ...

Robbie Ray, the potential ace (and MLB Cy Young winner) is 0-3 in 4 starts with a 7.99 ERA and has given up 9 HR's in the 4 starts. If he makes his scheduled 34 starts, he is on pace to give up 77 HR's ... it's laughable! Alex Wood, on the other hand, has come back from injury and pitched great in his 3 starts with a 2.16 ERA but is 0-2.

Offensively (and we do mean "offensive"), Freddie Freeman leads the team batting .311 but can it be more hollow? He has 5 RBI in 16 games which puts him on pace for 50 RBI's for the season. Here are some nice BA's- Trevor Story .158, Jeimer Candelario .169, Nelson Cruz .236, Lamonte Wade Jr ,196.

Brutal! We've never earned the #1 pick in the draft in 35 years - might be in the running this year! I'm so proud ...

 

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NAVIGATORS LOG - 4-27

Well, through 2 blocks, the team I (and Ed, I guess) thought would be about 10 games under is 14 games over. Strat is strange! A near-perfect (other than a misstep at AS that is a harbinger to the future, most likely) second block was an order of magnitude better than what was a surprisingly good block 1 (11-9).

So how is this team doing it? Starting pitching by JB Brubaker (?) and Alek Manoah (limited Ips) have overcome poor starts by Cease and Kikuchi, with Fried hopefully up for a little improvement. The pen has been bad, but not especially horribly bad, as I assumed they would be (and probably will be). The bats have been good (I expected that), led by Olson, Riley, and Buxton; honestly everyone not named Kiki Hernandez is doing their job with the sticks (a team .866 OPS is unsustainable, but a lot of fun!).

Rosario has been as horrific with the glove as expected (and was a part of my reasoning pre-season); he has made an out on about half of the 52 chances that have gone his way = that's no way to run a railroad! Adam Frazier the 2b is pretty good, Adam Frazier the LF is a disaster, but usage dictates a lot of that.

We have some reinforcements for Ips, but not good ones, same for the bats. So this has been a fun run, it will be interesting to see if we can hold onto the last playoff spot, or totally fade back into the also-rans by seasons end. Last year we lost 111 games, but went 15-15 vs the AL, so we'll see what happens!

 

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GATOR TALES- April 22'

So from the GM side of things, life is pretty good, the plan as presented to ownership is on track, if anything we are a year early, which will hurt the plan that was hoping for an early 23 draft position, but you can't always get what you want. Our obvious weakness are relief pitching and SS, so what about next year?
C= Haase, Murphy
1b= Olson
2b= Frazier, Rodgers
SS= Rosario
3b= Riley, Flores
Lf= Ortega
Cf=Buxton, Hicks
Rf= Kiki
DH= Franimal
Reserve- V. Reyes, L. Thomas, Sano
SP = Fried, Cease, K. Wright, Manoah, Luzardo
RP = Feyerisen, Bummer, Bickford, Gen Cab, Ashby, Cousins
Reserve- Hearn, Springs, Kikuchi, Touki, Brubaker.

So, we still need to be looking for a SS who can field, and an APB for a closer. We'll see how the trade winds blow, but we will probably be trading for 23, or standing pat and rely on some draft-day luck to fill in for what I hope will be our first truly competitive season in awhile (I'm talking about 23, not our little luck streak this year, lol!

 

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US JARHEAD SCUTTLEBUTT - 4-27

Shrapnel:

Co-winners of Jarhead of the Month are the DH platoon of LH Matt Beaty (.347) and RH Yermin Mercedes (.340). The Dynamic Duo have combined for .343 24R 59H 8D 1T 7HR and 39rbi.

USJ's first draft pick in 2022, Eli Morgan, made the starting rotation out of spring training. In 9 starts he is 3-0 with a 3.67 era. Morgan will report to Parris Island during inter-league play.

Playing only part time, Ronald Acuna leads the team with 10 HR and 10 Doubles.

Mike Trout hit PH HR's in his first 2 plate appearances. Since then he is 5-20 with 1 triple.

Two waiver wire pickups will be called up to face the AL. Taylor Widener steps into the starting rotation and Marcos Diplan joins the USJ Bullpen.

 

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DEVIL DOODLES - 4-31

After a horrific start to the season in Block 1 at 4-16, the Blue Devils showed some improvement in Block 2 going 13-11 to now stand at 17-27 for the season - a huge disappointment from what was expected. Although there was improvement, to recover from the poor start and try for playoff contention - Blue Devils will need to play significantly better and get on a hot steak . . . no signs of that.

The offense is still batting a paltry .219 and continues to struggle hitting in the clutch as the team is scoring under 3.5 runs/game. No batter has reached 20 RBI in 44 games - brutal. Freddie Freeman struggled mightily in Block 2 as his batting average dropped over 50 points - now hitting just .257 with only 14 RBI. Obviously when your best hitter has those numbers - the offense won't be scoring much. Freeman isn't getting any assistance either as Nelson Cruz is hitting .230 with just 14 RBI also. Trevor Story leads the team with 19 RBI but is hitting just .217. Only one player on the team is hitting above .260. (Yadier Molina at .284)

The pitching staff has been very solid overall with a team ERA of 3.74. Not too often you see a team with that kind of ERA at the bottom of the standings. The bullpen, expected to be a strength, has been outstanding with a combined ERA of 1.71 going 9-6 with 11 saves. Clay Holmes leads with way at 4-0 with a 0.56 ERA and Andrew Chafin has 10 saves. Alex Wood has been the hard luck starter sporting a 3.40 ERA but 1-5 record. Merrill Kelly is the opposite with a 5.17 ERA but a 4-1 record.

Rumors have it that management is shopping around Trevor Story and Robbie Ray as it appears doubtful the Blue Devils can rebound back to playoff contention.

 

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BLUE NOTES - 5-1

After a tremendously lucky first round (13-7) the Blues have crashed in the second round (7-17). The biggest highlights of the second round were a 12-0 win over the Grits at their field (a 1 hitter by Patino, et al.) and a 7 homer game against Yorktown in a series split. The Admirals scored 33 runs in that series but were shutout in one game 6-0. We needed all 7 homers to win the other game 16-7. The bull-pen continues to be good when they have to be as we are 8-2 in one run games but overall, the bull-pen ERA is 5.33 with a WHIP of 1.55. Go figure.

Our biggest need over the past couple years has been for starting pitching. Going into this season we now have 9 young starters. Of those 9 only 4 are actually starting (if you call what Bubic is doing "starting"). Everyone else is hurt (1 TJ, 2 on 60 day DL, 1 on 10 day DL, and Sixto Sanchez who is again hurt in AAA). Most of these guys will come back, but . . .

Our offense has been the Arozarena/Bichette/Lopez show. They lead the team in almost every offensive category. We really miss the big bat of Jimenez but now it looks like we will miss that bat again next year. Hopefully he will come back for at least a half year.

On to the National league.

 

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CHIEFS CHAT - 5-26

The Chiefs finish block 3 with a record of 28-31 (16-17 at home, 12-14 on the road). As one local scribe wrote, "The offense has been offensive, the defense charitable, and the pitching incendiary."

"Inside the FBN" picked the Taxmen to finish 1st in the NL, and they were 15-5 at the end of block 1. But since then, the wheels have come off the cart (13-26), and Manager Joe Carter has not had any answers. Needless to say, both Carter and pitching coach Mike Henneman are on the hot seat.

The current members of the bullpen have 8 saves and 14 blown saves. As one local scribe wrote, "It's like watching Shaq trying to make a free throw with the game on the line." There is some help on the way, as closer Cory Knebel comes off the IL finally, as does Luis Garcia.

But new faces may not mean new results. As one local scribe wrote, "Newly acquired third baseman Eduardo Escobar was supposed to be just what the doctor ordered. What we didn't realize was that the doctor was Dr. Kevorkian." Escobar is 7 for 53 (.132) with 1 HR, 1 RBI, and 1 BB. And if you think it can't get worse, ask Daniel Vogelbach who is 6 for 47 (.128) with 1 HR 4 RBI and 1 BB (with 27 walk chances on his card).

Block 4 will likely determine the fate of the 2022 Chiefs, and perhaps the fate of their manager. We shall see.

 

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DREAM ON - 5-27

Dreamers finish first NL block at 7-8...very mediocre stretch. Dreamers continue to give up HR at a team record pace (101 in 59 games) with numerous pitchers closing in on or beating their MLB season numbers (Buehler 20 FBN/19 mlb), Hader (5 FBN/3 mlb), Castillo (12 FBN in 33 innings/MLB). Dreamer offense keeps being the highlight of the team.

Dreamers have surprisingly moved on from 2020 AL Cy Young winner Charlie Morton, trading him to Grayson for Eric Lauer. Morton ends his Dreamers career at 68-44, 6th on the all time Dreamers win list.

 

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US JARHEAD SCUTTLEBUTT - 5-27

The Jarheads lost ground vs the AL, going 6-9 and falling from 3rd place to a tie for 5th. The reason for the poor showing is pretty clear. After allowing 54 HRs in 44 NL games, the AL launched 42 Aerial Bombs in just 15 games. Saturation or Carpet bombing it's called. The entire Jarhead pitching staff is ordered to Parris Island for Motivational Adjustment.

Waiver Wire pickup Taylor Widener was called up from Parris Island and made his first start a memorable one. Pitching at home and facing the powerful Atlanta Senators, Widener took a no hitter into the 6th inning. With 1 out in the 6th, Ohtani ended the no-no and shutout with a HR. That ended Widener's day and he left with a 4-1 lead. The Jarhead BP couldn't hold the lead, but Mike Trouts 11th inning HR saved the day. This game also featured Mike Trout in the starting lineup for the first time this season. And the move paid off. Batting 3rd, Trout singled, singled, Homered, walked twice and then hit a walk off HR in the bottom of the 11th.

Shrapnel:
In a recent 3 game series Ronald Acuna was 5-8 6r 4bb 4HR 11RBI 1sb. Acuna leads the Jarheads with 15 HRs in only 133 ABs.

 

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DEVIL DOODLES - 6-29

The "new look" Blue Devils, with 12 new players in and12 players jettisoned headed into Block 4 play back in the NL at 28-31 which was in range of playoff contention. However, things looked pretty much the same as before. The pitching staff was solid overall - still hanging in the Top 5 of the NL but the offense continued to be inconsistent scoring 1 run or shutout in 7 of the 24 games played. Blue Devils finished the block going 11-13 - not horrible but certainly not good enough to make up any ground on wild card contenders. Blue Devils will need to have a much better Block 5 to keep any hope alive this season.

It was still a fun block to see the new players get involved. Mark Canha was a pleasant surprise hitting 4 HR's with 15 RBI in the 24 games while Corey Seager underwhelmed with just 1 double, 1 HR and 7 RBI. New starting pitcher Jon Gray had a good block producing a 2.45 ERA in 5 starts but could only manage a 1-2 record with limited run support. Young lefty Patrick Sandoval was solid in relief going 2-0 3.24 allowing just 8 hits in 16 innings. He is expected to get some starts later in the year with hopes he will be in the rotation in 2023. Finally, Freddie Freeman continues to have a disappointing season batting just .247 with only 29 RBI in 83 games!!???

 

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BLUE NOTES - 7-4

Things are looking up. We have played to top three AL teams and were lucky enough to win 4 of the 12 games. It took two grand slams to beat Atlanta 9-8 but it happened. Still well below .500 (expecting to be picking in the 8-10 range) but hanging in there. Also, many of our injured players are near a return to the majors . . .

Brogdon Connor: Covid - July
Fairbanks Pete: rehab - AAA
Jimenez Eloy: rehab - playing in AAA
Loaisiga Jonathan: bullpen sessions - July
Lucchesi Joey: TJ June 2021 - bullpen sessions - August?
Manning Matt: shoulder - bullpen sessions
Patino Luis: 4 rehab starts in AAA - July
Severino Pedro: activated - just completed suspension
Stephenson Tyler: starting minor league rehab

Still a long way off - Griffin Canning, John Curtiss, Sixto Sanchez, and Kevin Pillar - maybe next year for these guys. Pitching will again be tight but if Patino and Manning will get 70-90 innings we should be okay. Relief looks to be pretty good with Helsley, Poche, Tate, and Stanek. The offense will again be anemic. Slow progress.

 

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AT THE SCHOOL YARD - 7-14

In Block 5 we played the best teams in the NL. Casey decided ahead of time to put our best lineups and rotation out for a last stand. We came away at 13-11 for an overall record of 51-52.

The rest of the season will be very different starting right with Block 6. The only starting pitcher to stay in the rotation will be Tyler Mahle (10-5 3.65). Mike Fulmer (5-0) since coming to the team in a trade is done for the season. Josh Rogers (4-2) is being sent down to AAA with one start remaining for the final block of the season. Michael Wacha (5-3 2.78) and Kevin Gausman (8-8 3.59) are on a pitch count and will be rested until block 7.

Being recalled from AAA to fill the rotation will be Justus Sheffield (1-5 13.90), Max Kranick (0-1 7.07), Miguel Diaz (1-1 5.93) and Vince Velasquez (1-3 5.68).

The bullpen will also be changed for the inter-league games. Devin Williams and Nick Sandlin will be sent to AAA and be replaced by Caleb Thielbar (0-3 5.56) and Austin Voth (0-0 3.13).

Since we will be traveling to Lake Wobegon (9-12) homerun and to Grayson (19-20), Casey has decided he wants an additional power bat in the lineup. That means Magneuris Sierra batting .300 with 6 doubles will be sent to AAA Liberty Mutual. Replacing Sierra will be Andrew Stevenson. Stevenson was hitting .258 with 14D and 6 HR at AAA. Tyrone Taylor will replace Adam Engel who has been struggling until this block. Taylor was hitting .285 with 5D, 1T and 11 HR at AAA.

TEAM NEWS:
Jose Ramirez played in his 1131st game to pass Albert Pujols and to tie Brandon Inge for 9th All-Time on the 89ER list. Ramirez went 1-4 with a SB in his 1132nd game to pass Inge. Ramirez went 1-3.

 

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DEVIL DOODLES - 9-1

The Blue Devils continue play down the stretch with their quest to get to at least .500 baseball - something they haven't reached all year. For the last couple months, Connecticut has hung around the two to four games under .500 mark on the fringe of playoff contention in an NL filled with parity. Since starting the season at 4-16, the Blue Devils have gone 64-54 which is .542 baseball - isn't too bad but it's difficult to overcome that poor start.

Offensively, Nelson Cruz continues to produce batting .262 with 38 HR's and 92 RBI. Freddie Freeman has improved somewhat as the year has progressed but his numbers .262 only 19 doubles 25 HR's and 71 RBI are still disappointing. Basically, no one has put together a big year offensively and that has led to struggles scoring runs consistently.

Pitching wise, considering the team traded away their ace starter (Robbie Ray) and their three best relievers, the remaining staff has held their own with a 4.41 ERA. The Blue Devils were in the top 3 in ERA for most of the year but are starting to drop down a bit. Mike Minor leads the staff with a 12-12 record - a nice bounce back from last year's 4-13 debacle. James Karinchak, acquired mid-year, has shown signs of solid potential for the future going 4-1 4.14 in relief and Cole Sulser has turned in 14 saves after former closer Andrew Chafin was traded.

With 24 games left in the season, the Blue Devils will need to play their best ball now and hope for some luck to sneak into a wild card slot in the NL. But most of their upcoming series are against teams at the top of the NL so it's going to be a tough challenge.

 

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DEVIL DOODLES - 10-1

The Blue Devils completed their 2022 season losing 3 of 4 to Allyn Street to finish at 77-85. After starting the season 4-16, Connecticut could never quite overcome that brutal start - never reaching .500 all season. They got as close as 54-55 mid-season but faded at the end. If you put aside the first block, the Blue Devils went 73-69 for the rest of the season which would have kept them competitive for a playoff spot. But you can't hide Block 1 results. This was only the 6th losing season in the 36 year history of the franchise.

Looking at the current season, a few bright spots included:
- Nelson Cruz was an offensive force again batting .263 with 44 HR's and 104 RBI
- Freddie Freeman, although not a great year, rebounded from a poor start to end up hitting .263 with 30 HR's and 81 RBI
- Jeimer Candelario was productive with 35 doubles, 19 HR's, 77 Runs and 55 RBI
- Clay Holmes became a key bullpen arm - 5-0 2.09 in 77 IP with only 5 HR's and 80 K's
- Overall defense was very solid - team made only 66 errors

On the downside . . .
- Team BA of .231 is simply too low - this was the lowest ever in franchise history by a wide margin. OB% was solid at .356 - one of the highest in team history but without enough hitting -run production was limited as the team scored just 725 runs
- Gary Sanchez was picked up as a replacement for Molina but hit just .164 in 225 AB's. He did produce 13 HR's and 33 RBI but he's pretty much all or nothing. Catching will definitely be an area to look at during the offseason. (10 years of Molina spoiled us!)
- No starting pitcher had a winning record. Mike Minor won the most games at 12-14. Alex Wood pitched fairly well at 4.19 but somehow only managed a 3-12 record.

After the poor start, management decided to shake up the team and made a series of trades jettisoning and replacing 12 players. Gone were veterans like Trevor Story, Robbie Ray and team icon Yadier Molina along with several good bullpen arms. New players joining the team included new SS Corey Seager, good young arms in Patrick Sandoval and James Karinchak along with useful players like Mark Canha and Brandon Drury. CT also picked up a 1st rd pick so the Blue Devils will have a couple 1st round picks in the 2023 draft. It has been forever since CT has had 2 picks in the 1st - not since the 2006 draft so it will be exciting and fun preparing for that. CT will also have a Top Ten pick for the first time since 2016. (hope we do better than Stephen Piscotty)

Good Luck to all the playoff teams and most importantly - Have Fun!

 

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CHIEFS CHAT - 11-19

Forgotten Chiefs - Eric Yelding

The Klubbers drafted Eric Yelding in the 4th round (#68) of the 1990 draft. In May 1991, the Klubbers traded Yelding, Joe Girardi, and John Dopson to the Chiefs for Mike MacFarlane and a 3rd round pick. Yelding would go on to have an interesting 1991 FBN season as the Chiefs starting shortstop, batting .261 and stealing a remarkable 111 bases (100 with the Chiefs) in 406 at bats. However, this would be his only full season in the FBN, as Yelding finished his FBN career the following season as a bench player in Lake Wobegon.

 

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CHIEFS CHAT - 11-20

Forgotten Chiefs - Rob Deer

After the 1991 draft, New England traded Mike Smithson, Bill Wegman, and Rob Deer to the Chiefs for Rick Rueschel and Steve Balboni. Robbie Dearest immediately took a liking to War Memorial Coliseum's Blue Dwarf. In 1991, Deer had two four-homer games and finished with 44 HR 104 RBI 53 BB 173 K .228 BA. Local scribes dubbed him the "Ultimate Chief" as he was emblematic of the three true outcomes. The Rob Deer highlight reel also included a three-homer game to beat Windham's David Cone who fanned 18 Chiefs in his eight innings of work. Following his retirement from the FBN, Deer joined the Taxachusetts coaching staff and was part of the 2007 and 2011 championship teams.

 

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CHIEFS CHAT - 11-27

Forgotten Chiefs - Rod Barajas

Rod Barajas was a Chief catcher from 2006 - 2013, appearing in 912 games. The Florida Sun drafted Barajas in the 7th round (#163) of the 2002 draft. On December 9, 2005, Taxachusetts acquired Barajas and centerfielder Jeremy Reed from the Arizona Bats for second baseman Orlando Hudson and catcher Johnny Estrada.

Barajas's career slash line with the Chiefs was .267/.320/.535. Despite limited duty, Barajas put up some hefty homer numbers: 28 in 2006, 23 in 2010, 19 in 2011 and 24 in 2012 for a career 117 HRs to go with 117 doubles. He never had a 500 at bat season, but his per 550 at bat numbers were impressive: 30 doubles, 30 homers, 82 RBI.

Barajas won two championship rings with the Chiefs (2007 and 2011). Following his playing career, he served as the Chiefs bullpen coach, and last season, he was rumored to replace either Mike Henneman as pitching coach or Joe Carter as manager.

 

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CHIEFS CHAT - 12-21

BLUE DIAMOND FIASCO RESOLVED

The Chiefs and the Commonwealth of Taxachusetts have reached a settlement with Blue Diamond in the naming rights litigation. In December of 2020, Taxachusetts and Blue Diamond entered into an agreement to name the Chiefs' new ballpark Blue Diamond Park. Then in 2022, Blue Diamond purchased the naming rights of Blue Grass Park in Iowa, which became Blue Diamond Stadium. Litigation ensued, as the Commonwealth and the Chiefs alleged that they had the exclusive naming rights in the league. Nearly a year later, the parties have reached a settlement, and at least for the 2023 campaign, the Chiefs' ballpark will likely be called Municipal Stadium. As part of the settlement, many fans will be happy to learn that peanuts will replace almonds as the official nut of the Taxachusetts Chiefs.

 

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