November 30, 1998, Chris Witt -- a 24-year-old recording engineer from
Bourbonnais, Illinois -- became the 17th owner in the Big Daddy Baseball
League. Witt was an active member with a wry sense of humor, and
he named his new franchise the "Bad Boys." He selected Fenway Park
as his team's home ballpark model, and drew the 17th pick in the
inaugural draft. Witt's franchise-building philosophy soon became
clear, as he selected a pair of pitchers -- Al Leiter and Kerry Wood --
with his first two picks.
Leiter, 33 years old at the time, went
11-7 for the Bad Boys that season, with just 146 hits allowed and 202
strikeouts in 196+ innings, and a sparkling 2.43 ERA. Wood,
considered to be among the top young pitchers in baseball at age 22 (especially by
Cubs fans like Witt), went 11-5 for Bourbonnais, with a 2.97 ERA in 162+
IP, and 226 K's.
With two aces locked in at the top of
the rotation, Witt then began to work on his lineup, selecting Todd
Helton (.305/.384/.498, 22 HR, 103.4 RC), Paul O'Neill (.290/.380/.465,
101.7 RC) and Bret Boone (.255/.318/.444, 20 HR, 69.5 RC) with his next
three picks. In Wood and the 25-year-old Helton, Bourbonnais was
not only set up nicely for the 1999 season, but for many years
Witt filled out the remainder of his
rotation with the likes of Scott Erickson (14-11, 3.72 ERA in 247+ IP),
Terry Mulholland (10-7, 3.53 ERA in 107 IP) and Dwight Gooden (12-7,
3.26 ERA in 138 IP.) And his lineup was filled with defensive
specialists like Royce Clayton (.285/.381/.432, 67.8 RC), Carl Everett
(.299/.354/.496, 71.5 RC), Darren Lewis (.270/.334/.365, 66.4 RC), Mike
Benjamin (.248/.299/.337, 33.7 RC) and Paul Bako (.287/.339/.350, 25.8
Playing in the Eck League's Hrbek
Division, the Bad Boys were considered to have a very strong team
defensively (with three "Ex"-ranged players in the infield, and two
"Vg"-ranged outfielders), and a solid starting rotation fronted by a
pair of legitimate aces. Although their lineup was considered to
be a little weak, Bourbonnais was picked to win the EL wild card.
At the end of the first chapter,
however, the Bad Boys trailed their division with a 12-13 record -- five
games behind the Oakville Marauders and California Storm. They
bounced back, however, in Chapter Two, posting a 19-11 record (same as
At the end of that second chapter, Witt
made a bold move to strengthen his team down the stretch, sending his #1
prospect, Corey Patterson, to the New Milford Blazers in exchange for
closer Billy Wagner. In retrospect, it was a great deal for Witt,
as Wagner went 4-3 with a 1.34 ERA and 10 saves
in 20+ innings for Bourbonnais down the stretch, while Patterson never
quite materialized into the superstar many envisioned he would
In addition to Patterson, Witt also
traded Dave Veres, who had been leading the Eck League in saves for most
of the season, and 25-year-old southpaw Terrell Wade.
"Dave [Veres] has
been a really big part of the team this year, and I hated to
see him go. Initially, there was another guy on this team
that the Blazers wanted instead, but I just wasn't willing
to part with him, so Veres sort of became the X-factor."
Asked about the
future, Witt added "There's no guarantees, of course. I
really like Corey and Terrell, and I think they'll do fine.
To be honest, I'm a little scared about what's gonna' happen
to the team after this season, and there's a definite sense
of urgency to win in 1999. But I think Wagner is going to be
a very important part of the club down the stretch and
hopefully for the next few years to come."
Other than a minor trade at the final
trading deadline involving Ricky Gutierrez and a draft pick, it was
Witt's only trade of the season.
The Bad Boys continued to roll, going
13-11 in the third chapter to head into the mid-season break with a
record of 44-36 -- four games behind Oakville. By the end of
Chapter Four, Bourbonnais had cut that deficit in half. And
heading into the final chapter of the season, the Bad Boys and Marauders
were deadlocked in a tie for first atop the division.
In the final chapter, Oakville went
just 15-13, but the Bad Boys stumbled to a 13-15 record, and lost the
division by two games. This gave them a record of 86-74, which
also happened to be the final record of the California Storm, resulting
in a tie for the EL wild card. And
this meant that the final spot in the 1999 playoffs would be decided by
a one-game playoff between these two teams.
That season, the Storm had outscored
their opponents by 136 runs -- the second-highest total in the Eck
League -- while Bourbonnais had outscored their opponents by just 39
runs. But the Storm had suffered through a tumultuous season in
which they had changed ownership twice during the course of the year.
Despite inheriting a team that was in the midst of an exciting pennant
race, former California owner Tim Wilson had abandoned the team and
disappeared without notice. Mike Stein replaced Wilson during the
final week of October, with the expectation that he wouldn't have to
manage the team until 2000. But thanks to this unexpected twist,
Stein's first game as manager in the BDBL would be a one-game playoff.
Witt sent his ace, Leiter, to the hill
for this crucial game, and seemed to run into some horrific luck when Leiter
was forced from the game with an injury after throwing just 2 1/3
innings. Witt called upon Wood to take Leiter's place, but he then
lifted Wood for a pinch hitter in the fifth inning.
The game remained scoreless through
five innings before Bourbonnais finally scored a run in the top of the
sixth. In the bottom of the eighth, California tied the score on a
double by Vladimir Guerrero, and then took the lead on a fielder's
Stein then handed the ball to his
closer, Matt Mantei, to close out the game and send his team to the
playoffs. Instead, Mantei allowed a walk and a pair of singles to
cut California's lead to one. Bourbonnais pinch hitter Reggie
Williams then plated the tying and go-ahead runs of the game with a
single of his own. And Wagner then came on in the bottom half of
the inning for Bourbonnais and closed it out, sending the Bad Boys to
After battling against them all season
in the divisional race, the Bad Boys then faced the Marauders in the
Division Series. Leiter took the hill in Game One and pitched
eight shutout innings en route to a 2-0 win. Wood pitched well in
Game Two (6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 2 K), but his effort was wasted in a 2-1
The Bad Boys then led by a score of 3-2
heading into the 9th inning of Game Three, but one out away from tying
the series, Wagner allowed a two-run pinch hit home run to Greg Colbrunn,
and the Marauders were now one win away from winning the series.
The Bad Boys fought back, however, and
won yet another tightly-fought game in Game Four, winning 2-1. And
that is when this series took a strange turn. With the fate of the
entire season resting upon the fifth and deciding game of this series,
both the Marauders' manager and Bourbonnais manager Witt each decided to
announce his resignation at the end of the playoffs.
Rather than wait for that resignation,
both Witt and Oakville manager Bob Biermann were handed their walking
November 10, 1999
Resign In Middle of Playoffs
SALEM, NH - The
Commissioner's Office announced today that both Chris Witt
and Bob Biermann have announced they will be resigning at
the end of their playoff series. Due to league policy, both
owners were immediately dismissed from the league prior to
the fifth and deciding game of their ELDS playoff series
against each other.
"I understand that both
owners are operating under strict time constraints,"
explained BDBL commissioner Mike Glander. "Therefore, it
seems only logical that they wouldn't have time to complete
the remainder of their playoff games."
Witt announced his
resignation on Tuesday, stating, "I've had a blast, but my
business is getting busier and busier every week, so I have
had almost no time to play my games since Chapter Five
started." Witt's Bourbannais Bad Boys won the Eck League
wild card this season thanks to a thrilling ninth-inning
come-from-behind victory over the California Storm. Witt
will be concentrating his full efforts on his team in the
Flying Pickle League in 2000.
...Both Biermann and Witt
expressed a desire to continue managing their teams in the
playoffs. However, Commissioner Glander, after meeting with
his head consultants, decided to accept both resignations
"It can't be good for the
league for managers to be managing when they care so little
about the outcome of the game," said Glander. "Why would
anyone care whether or not he wins a championship in a
league he's no longer a part of? Aside from that, it is
highly detrimental to the long-term success of the league to
have owners trading prospects and draft picks in exchange
for immediate gain, reaping the benefits of those trades by
gaining entry to the post-season, then abandoning those
teams and their inevitable rebuilding processes, handing off
those problems to someone else. That's not fair to anyone."
The EL Championship Series
will continue with a substitute manager in place of the
winner of the ELDS.
Game Five was then played with both
teams managed by the MP. Despite that fact, it was one of the most
exciting playoff games in league history. The game remained
scoreless through nine innings. In the bottom of the tenth, Wagner
was brought into the game to face Ken Griffey, Jr. with one out and a
runner on. Griffey then hit a walk-off, two-run blast to end the
series and send Bourbonnais home for the winter.
On November 27, 1999, the league
welcomed a 41-year-old attorney from Manchester, New Hampshire, named
Jim Doyle as the new owner of the Bad Boys franchise. Doyle
renamed his franchise the "Manchester Irish Rebels," and spent the next
month making four trades to prep for the 2000 season.
The 2000 draft was unique in BDBL
history, as no player was under contract prior to that season, and thus
the only players eligible for the draft were those who were released on
Cutdown Day. Knowing this, the league recommended to Doyle that he
steer clear of trading for draft picks, as their value would be
negligible. But in his first two trades in the BDBL, Doyle traded
for two first-round draft picks anyway. Neither pick was used.
In Doyle's final trade of the winter,
he acquired defense-first catcher Charles Johnson from the New Milford
Blazers in exchange for Paul O'Neill. Johnson hit just
.249/.338/.473 for the Irish Rebels that season, in just 241 at-bats,
and at a salary of $5 million -- the same salary as O'Neill, who hit
.301/.367/.484 in 601 at-bats, with 102.1 runs created for the Blazers.
Doyle justified this strange trade by
explaining that he had been a catcher in little league:
January 2, 2000 Rebels Acquire a Cannon
MANCHESTER, NH - The Irish Rebels continued thier late trading binge
by sending Paul O'Neill and Matt Walbeck to New Milford in exchange
for Steve Avery, Lance Painter, Charles Johnson and Roberto Kelly.
The Rebels are heartbroken to lose such a professional and former
Yankee with an Irish surname but the fact is Johnson has a gun for
an arm and the Rebels need a quality catcher. This is especially
true given Rebel owner Jim Doyle was a catcher until his last year
of American legion baseball.
That winter, the Manchester franchise
was moved to the Ozzie League's Benes Division, so that Doyle could
compete in the same division as fellow New Hampshire resident Mike
Glander. Once again, the Irish Rebels' roster was filled with
gold-glovers, including Helton (Vg range), Benjamin (Ex), Royce Clayton
(Vg), Kevin Orie (Ex) and Johnson (Ex arm behind the plate) in the
infield, and Everett (Vg), Darren Lewis (Vg) and Lance Johnson (Av) in
the outfield. But once again, the lineup was considered be very
weak. And the starting rotation had suffered with a season-long
injury to Wood.
Wood had missed the entire 1999 MLB
season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but was signed to a bold
seven-year contract by Doyle at Cutdown Day. Wood was paid $5
million in 2000 without throwing a single pitch, and then was guaranteed
$54 million over the next five years. His loss to the Rebels in
2000 was substantial, as it left the team with 16 pitchers -- ten of
which had MLB ERA's over 5.15.
To the shock of many, the Irish Rebels
got off to a fast start in 2000, going 14-10 in Chapter One -- just two
games behind the Salem Cowtippers. But the ride didn't last long,
as the Irish Rebels landed with a thud in Chapter Two, going 6-18.
They then bounced back in Chapter Three, however, going 14-12 to finish
the first half of the season with a respectable 35-40 record -- seven
games behind in the division.
At that time, Doyle made his first
mid-season trade, sending Leiter to the Chicago Black Sox in exchange
for promising young pitcher Kelvim Escobar and infielder Donnie Sadler.
The 24-year-old Escobar went 2-9 for Manchester, with a 5.99 ERA in 87+
innings, and suffered through a miserable 2000 MLB season. He was
eventually released on Cutdown Day, and the light-hitting Sadler never
quite materialized as a valuable asset.
In the sixth round of the 2000 draft,
Doyle had made a brilliant decision by selecting third base prospect
Hank Blalock. But in Chapter Five of the 2000 season, Doyle
negated that brilliance by releasing Blalock to make room for backup
catcher Ramon Castro.
With Billy Wagner having another strong
year in 2000 (9-4, 1.42 ERA in 76+ IP, with 119 K's), while suffering
through a horrific MLB season (6.18 ERA in 27+ IP), and saddled with an
expensive BDBL contract ($21 million over the next three seasons),
unloading that contract should have been top priority once the Irish
Rebels were eliminated from contention. But as the Irish Rebels
went 10-18 in Chapter Four and 8-18 in Chapter Five, Doyle sat tight.
Manchester wrapped up the season with a 62-98 record, and were outscored
by more than 200 runs.
Coming off that disastrous 2000 season,
the Irish Rebels were in desperate need of a facelift. On the
plus side, Wood was returning to the starting rotation. But on
the minus side, he was a trainwreck (123+ IP, 116 BB, 116 K, 7.01
ERA), and ate up $6.5 million in salary. With Leiter now gone, the
team desperately needed an ace. Thanks to their poor performance
in 2000, the Irish Rebels owned the #3 overall pick in the 2001 draft. And
with Leiter, Tom Glavine and Roger Clemens all hitting free agency at
the same time, Manchester were guaranteed to add one of those three
The only problem was that with Helton,
Wood and Wagner all earning between $6 - $6.5 million, the Irish Rebels
couldn't afford to make that $10 million pick. So, on December 6th, Doyle
traded the #3 overall pick to the South Carolina Sea Cats in exchange for their #2
and #6 picks. Doyle then used those picks to select Moises Alou
(.322/.383/.505, 87.4 RC overall) and Albie Lopez (7-6, 4.59 ERA in 143
Later that winter, Doyle traded
valuable platoon catcher Joe Oliver to the Stamford Zoots in exchange
for Gookie Dawkins. Needless to say, that deal was a bust.
And then, in the final days before Cutdown Day, Doyle made a significant
trade with the new owner of the Allentown Ridgebacks. In that
deal, Doyle received star third baseman Chipper Jones (.308/.402/.530,
31 HR, 134.8 RC) and a third-round farm pick. In exchange, it cost
him just four relatively insignificant players (Mike Sirotka, Brian
Bohanon, Castro and Elpidio Guzman) and a farm pick. But in
retrospect, that farm pick -- which Allentown GM Tom DiStefano used to
select Roy Oswalt with the #3 overall pick of the 2001 farm draft --
turned out to be
far more valuable than any player involved in that deal.
With his own second-round draft pick,
Doyle selected lefty slugger David Justice (.284/.391/.577, 40 HR, 122
RBIs, 126.5 RC), giving the Manchester lineup four legitimate all-stars
in Justice, Jones, Helton (.340/.423/.581, 145.5 RC) and Everett
(.339/.416/.654, 39 HR, 143.1 RC overall.) After placing 11th out
of 12 teams in their league in runs scored in the prior two seasons, the
Irish Rebels were looking like an offensive powerhouse heading into
But with Lopez filling the de facto
role of "ace," and Wood's and Wagner's performances severely
the Irish Rebels were expected to give up far more runs than they
scored, and were picked to finish in last place in the division.
And after a horrendous 5-23 start to
the season, in which they allowed a BDBL-high 208 runs, that prediction
looked accurate. This time, Doyle wasted no time in waving the
white flag. Prior to the second chapter, he offloaded several role
players, including pinch hitter Greg Colbrunn, starter Cory Lidle and
catcher Johnson. The most significant of those trades was Johnson,
who was dealt back to the Blazers in return for 23-year-old pitcher Brad
Penny. Penny, under contract through the 2004 season, soon became
a hugely-valuable asset.
At the all-star break, with the Irish
Rebels sporting a last-place record of 27-53, Doyle made his second big
trade, dealing Everett, Lopez and Cal Eldred to the Kansas Law Dogs in
exchange for left-handed phenom Rick Ankiel. At the time, Ankiel
was the best -- yet most enigmatic -- young pitcher in baseball.
Just 21 years old, he had pitched 175 innings during the 2000 MLB
season, and posted a 3.50 ERA, with only 137 hits allowed and 194
strikeouts. But during the 2000 post-season, he famously lost all
control of himself (both physically and mentally), and walked 11 batters through four innings of work.
At the time of this trade in 2001, Ankiel was still a work-in-progress
mentally, and he had thrown just 24 innings (allowing 25 walks.)
But Doyle saw this as a buy-low opportunity, and predicted that Ankiel
would enjoy a Sandy Koufax-like career:
The Rebels now have the opportunity
to have the best 1-2 punch in the BDBL for the next 5 years in Kerry
Wood and Rick Ankiel. No one can doubt Kerry Wood and Rick Ankiel
have the greatest potential of any pitchers in the BDBL. Rebel owner
Jim Doyle is willing to be patient with Ankiel's psychological
problems in the same way the team invested in Kerry Wood despite
Wood's physical problems.
"I think Wood and Ankiel can be the
reincarnation of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. Wood is already
getting back to normal. Ankiel has overcome unbelievable odds in
making it to the big leagues in the first place and the latest
scouting reports indicate he is on his way back to the big time."
Despite the high expectations and lofty
Doyle flipped Ankiel to the Chicago Black Sox just one chapter later
(along with Alou), getting slugger Manny Ramirez, pitcher Carlos Perez
and top prospect Ruben Mateo in exchange. Ramirez (.343/.460/.627
in 134 AB for Manchester) gave the Irish Rebels yet another big bat to
add to their collection. It also gave them another player making
$6 million that season.
Irish Rebels pitching staff continued to allow runs at an alarming rate
through the remainder of the season.
Manchester finished the second half with a record of 29-51, and finished
the 2001 season with 104 losses -- another new all-time low for the
Before the 2001 post-season had ended
-- in fact, before it had even begun -- Doyle reached out to the
reigning two-time champion of the BDBL to make him an offer that no sane
person could ever refuse. This trade offer was so incredible, so
astounding, so nonsensical, and so illogical that it continues to be
debated, discussed and dissected today.
Apparently overwhelmed by the notion of
carrying so much salary heading into the 2002 season, Doyle set out that
cut salary at any cost. And naturally, his first impulse was to
give the two-time reigning BDBL champion a once-in-a-lifetime exclusive
offer. Doyle's offer was to
trade his 30-year-old perennial MVP candidate, Chipper Jones, to the
Stamford Zoots in exchange for pitcher Ryan Dempster. Jones would
hit .279/.379/.516, with 35 home runs, 124 RBIs and 123.9 runs created
for Stamford that season, at a salary of $8 million, with five years
remaining on his contract. Dempster would pitch just one season
for Manchester (8-12, 4.28 ERA in 170+ IP), at $2.5 million in salary.
He then became a free agent at the end of the season.
If the inexplicable cost-cutting had
stopped there, perhaps the future of the Manchester franchise could have
been spared. But Doyle continued to slash and burn his roster to
adhere to a new secret strategy he had devised earlier that year.
Next, he traded Helton to the Salem Cowtippers in exchange for young
lefty Eric Milton. The 27-year-old Helton would enjoy a career
year in 2002, hitting .331/.442/.617, with 46 doubles, 41 homers, 152
runs scored, 124 RBIs, 120 walks and 170.6 runs created. Like
Jones, he, too, earned every penny of his $8 million salary, and had
five years remaining on his contract. Unlike Dempster, Milton
(9-16, 3.51 ERA in 218+ IP) was young (26) and had two years remaining
on his below-market contract.
Then, on December 16th, Doyle traded
the last of his "Big Three" hitters, Ramirez, to the Black Sox in
exchange for slugger Vladimir Guerrero (.269/.323/.473, 86.4 RC.)
But Doyle's reason for making this deal wasn't to improve his offense
(Ramirez created 54.4 runs more than Guerrero in 2002), nor was it to
save money (Guerrero was $3 million more expensive), nor was it to lock
in additional years for the future (as Guerrero was a free agent at the
end of 2002, while Ramirez had one year remaining at just $8 million.)
Doyle's reason for making this trade? Defense.
December 16, 2001 Ramirez on the Move...AGAIN!
MANCHESTER, NH - The Irish Rebels announced they have traded Manny
Ramirez to the Allentown Ridgebacks in exchange for the Vldamir
"With our emphasis on quality pitching, it is necessary to upgrade
our defense in any way possible. Vldamir gives us excellent defense,
more plate appearances and comparable offensive firepower. Manny is
a great talent but he has been injury prone the last two years and
we thought it would be best to free up the funds set aside for the
last year of his contract," Bart Giamatti commented.
The Irish continue to look for a
quality centerfielder as the trading deadline approaches.
Doyle's defense-first strategy of 2002
quickly became the stuff of legend. After freeing up all that
salary, Doyle now had enough money to make a pick in the first round of
the draft. He used that pick to select gold glover Bret Boone
(.287/.354/.473, 99.3 RC) with the #3 pick overall, at a salary of $10 million. With his
second pick, he selected gold glove first baseman Darin Erstad
(.264/.351/.364, 71.8 RC) at a salary of $5 million. And with his
third pick (in the 6th round), he selected gold glove catcher Brad
Ausmus (.203/.233/.260) at a salary of $3 million. By Opening Day,
every position on the diamond had been filled with a gold glover with
either a "Vg" or "Ex" range rating. The bench, too, was filled
with Vg's and Ex's. At first base alone, the Irish Rebels roster
included three Vg's and one Ex.
The only problem was, with the
exceptions of Boone and Guerrero, none of these gold glovers could actually hit. Erstad had the lowest MLB OPS (691) of any player ever drafted in the
second round, and third baseman Cal Ripken (637), Ausmus (625) and
shortstop Rey Ordonez (635) were among the worst hitters at their
positions in all of baseball. Exacerbating this problem was the
fact that Doyle had changed his home ballpark model to the
ultra-pitcher-friendly Safeco Field in Seattle prior to the 2002 season.
Not surprisingly, the Irish Rebels were
picked to finish in last place once again:
Outlook: We've seen many
strange theories and strategies employed throughout the three year
history of this league, and this one ranks right up there among the
strangest. It's hard to believe that this is the same team that came
into the winter off-season with a 3-4-5 lineup of Manny Ramirez,
Chipper Jones and Todd Helton. The Manchester pitching staff is not
the best in the league, but because of their home ballpark and
defense, they may very well lead the league in ERA. The problem is
that they'll have a ton of trouble trying to scrape together 500
runs scored. And it's tough to win without scoring any runs - well,
at least it is in the 21st century. Jim Doyle has publicly stated
that he is trying to emulate the success of the 2001 Mariners, but
what he seems to have forgotten is that the M's led the American
League in runs scored last year. The Rebels will be hard-pressed to
score half the runs of the league leader.
The result of Doyle's all-defense
experiment were predictably disastrous. The Irish Rebels finished
the season with a 65-95 record, and scored just 577 runs -- the
second-lowest total in BDBL history, as of this writing. In the
span of just one season, Manchester managed to score 256 runs less
than they did the year before.
Despite the resounding failure of the
all-defense strategy in 2002, Doyle tried it again in 2003 -- with one
exception. That winter, Doyle made just one trade, acquiring Frank
Thomas (.251/.354/.431, 21 HR, 96.8 RC) from the Los Altos Undertakers
in exchange for Tom Goodwin. Thomas, a full-time designated hitter
in MLB, played first base throughout the season despite a "Pr"
range rating and an error rate three times above average. The rest
of the Manchester infield, however, included an "Ex"-ranged second
baseman, an "Av" third baseman and shortstop, a "Vg" left fielder, "Ex"
center fielder and "Ex" right fielder.
During the first-ever BDBL free agent
auction, Doyle made yet another unusual decision when he signed
second baseman Adam Kennedy (.296/.348/.417, 68.5 RC) for $5.5 million
to take over for Boone, who was released on Cutdown Day. Then, on
the final day of the auction, Doyle bid $6.5 million to re-acquire Boone
(.272/.329/.439.) This decision was highly unusual because Boone
was also a second baseman. The Irish Rebels, then, went into
Opening Day with two second basemen making a combined $11.5 million.
Doyle solved this problem by fielding Boone out of position all year.
Boone played third base throughout the season, and committed 14 errors
on the year -- a .955 fielding percentage.
Just one year after employing an
"all-defense" strategy to the detriment of his offense, Doyle's strategy
was almost completely reversed in 2003, as the Irish
Rebels' infield included two players who were not rated to play their
On the mound, Wood (10-13, 4.05 ERA in
220+ IP) finally returned to both good health and good production, in
the fourth year of his seven-year contract. He was joined in the
rotation by lefties Kenny Rogers (11-11, 3.46 ERA in 190+ IP) -- a
26th-round flier taken by Doyle in the 2002 draft -- and Milton (8-13,
4.94 ERA in 173+ IP), who was now in the final year of his contract.
And closer Wagner (3-6, 3.30 ERA, 29 SVs in 79 IP) was also in the final
year of his contract as well.
Despite the addition of two
offense-first players added to the lineup, each playing out of position,
there was some speculation that the 2003 Irish Rebels may break their own BDBL record
for fewest runs scored.
It's tough - I dare say impossible - for a team to win without
scoring any runs. If the Irish Rebels had the greatest pitching
staff in the league, I might give them the benefit of the doubt and
predict a .500 record. But sadly, Manchester doesn't have the best
pitching staff in the league. Unfortunately, aside from Wagner and
possibly Milton and Wood, the Irish Rebels don't have a lot of trade
bait, either. So they'll have to rely upon their GM being alert and
stealing players off the free agent wire with the second-best slot
(or best, if you assume that Geisel will be asleep at the wheel once
again) throughout the summer. And a long summer it will be in
Despite the low expectations, however,
the Irish Rebels began the 2003 season on fire. They won nine of
their first thirteen games and hit an astounding .301/.370/.468 as a
team during that time. Darin Erstad (who was re-drafted by Doyle
at $5 million in the second round) led the OL in RBIs at that point, and
he and Boone shared the league lead in home runs. Unfortunately
for Doyle, that would be the high point of the season for the Irish
Rebels. They wrapped up the chapter with a 13-15 record, and then
went 11-15 in Chapter Two.
At the all-star break, Manchester was
still hanging tough with a respectable 37-43 record, and they were even
scoring a respectable number of runs (351, 8th in the OL.) But the
Irish Rebels went into a freefall after that, and went just 31-49 in the
second half, while scoring just 284 runs. And while his team
continued to slide, Doyle rested. He didn't make one trade,
allowing his free agents to depart without any benefit, and
signed only a handful of veteran free agents. Manchester finished
the season with a 68-92 record -- their fourth consecutive season with
more than 90 losses. They scored 635 runs -- an improvement of 58
runs from 2002, but still only the second-lowest total in the OL.
Heading into the 2004 season, Doyle
declared that he had adopted yet another new top-secret strategy, and
confidently assured the tittering BDBL press corps that this new strategy was guaranteed to turn the franchise around.
That winter, he made three trades. In the first deal, he parted
with Wood and received Roger Clemens in exchange. At the time,
Wood had three years and $30 million remaining on his contract, while
the 41-year-old Clemens was earning just $5.5 million and had no
contract. Little did anyone realize at that time that Clemens
still had plenty of gas left in the tank, and that he would soon become
the highest-paid player in BDBL history.
Later that winter, Doyle flipped
Clemens to the Marlboro Hammerheads, along with Melvin Mora and Mateo.
In exchange, he received Jorge Posada (.299/.426/.564, 35 HR, 123.1 RC),
Carl Everett (.295/.378/.509, 93.5 RC overall) and Luis Ayala (5-3, 4.14
ERA in 74 IP), filling three holes on his roster for the price of one.
Doyle also traded closer Francisco
Cordero that winter, getting Marquis Grissom (.297/.346/.491, 46.2 RC in
269 AB) in return from the Cowtippers. He then entered into the
free agent auction with $27.9 million to spend, and he used that money
to sign Erubiel Durazo (.244/.363/.452, 92.7 RC) for $5.5 million,
re-sign Billy Wagner (5-4, 8 Svs, 3.15 ERA in 80+ IP) for $7 million,
and add a second closer in Mariano Rivera (3-2, 26 SVs, 2.04 ERA in 66+
IP) at $5.5 million. The decision to pay so much money for Wagner
was dubious, given his role on the roster as a middle reliever.
That winter, the league adopted a
"radical realignment" proposal that shifted several teams around within
the Ozzie League. The Irish Rebels remained in the Benes Division,
but they would now be competing against the Ravenswood Infidels, Gillette Swamp
Rats and Marlboro Hammerheads for the division title.
With Boone (.283/.355/.538, 42 HR, 112
RC) returning to all-star form, and surrounded by the likes of Posada,
Durazo and Everett, the Irish Rebels offense appeared to be
significantly improved over the "all-defense" lineups of 2002 and 2003.
Another significant addition to the lineup in 2004 was the debut of
21-year-old rookie Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera was the #1 selection by
Doyle in the 2002 farm draft, and the third overall selection in that
draft. At the time, it was a bold selection, as the
18-year-old Cabrera had just completed a full season at the Low-A level of the
minor leagues where he had hit just .268/.327/.382, with only 7 home
runs and 76 strikeouts in 422 at-bats. But by the 2005 BDBL
season, Cabrera had become a perennial MVP candidate and one of the top
young hitters in the entire league.
With Rivera and Wagner on hand, the
Irish Rebels also owned one of the best (and certainly most expensive)
bullpens in the league. But with so much money being spent on the
bullpen and lineup, something had to suffer. And that "something"
was the starting rotation. The de facto "ace" of the staff
appeared to be Brian Anderson (5-11, 5.40 ERA in 180+ IP), who would have
been a #5 starter for most teams in the league. Victor Zambrano
(6-12, 5.61 ERA in 146 IP), Rogers (8-12, 5.49 ERA in 172+ IP), Rodrigo
Lopez (9-7, 4.63 ERA in 97+ IP) and Elmer Dessens (6-7, 4.97 ERA in 134
IP) filled out a lackluster Manchester rotation.
The Irish Rebels were picked to finish
in third place, and went 12-16 in Chapter One to meet those
expectations. By the end of two chapters, they were looking at a
23-33 record and an 11-game deficit in the division. Once again,
it looked like a rebuilding year in Manchester.
It wasn't until the Chapter Four
deadline, however, that Doyle made his first move toward the future. In a
deal with the Marlboro Hammerheads, Doyle traded Everett, Grissom and
reliever Julian Tavarez in exchange for Matt Morris, Matt Riley and
Bobby Hill. The trade was a bit of a disaster, as Morris pitched
just one season for Manchester (and not very effectively), while Riley
and Hill never made any impact in the big leagues.
But perhaps more disastrous than that
trade was Doyle's decision to select veteran role players Rickey
Henderson, Dave McCarty and Orlando Merced at that chapter's free agent
signing period. While other teams loaded up their farm clubs with
the best young talent available (such as Mark Teahen, Homer Bailey, Rich
Hill, Ian Kinsler, Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, Matt Holliday and Howie
Kendrick), Doyle had used the #3 overall pick in that "mid-season draft"
to add veteran role players to a losing cause. (Note: he did,
however, manage to squeeze out every ounce of Henderson's productivity
at BDBL Weekend that summer.)
At the final trading deadline, Doyle
went back to the trading table with Cowtippers GM Mike Glander and
re-acquired Wood at the expense of Boone and Reggie Sanders. The
Irish Rebels continued their freefall in the second half, going 35-45 to
finish with a last-place record of 65-95.
After another injury-shortened MLB
season, Wood (9-6, 4.30 ERA) was limited to just 136 innings in the 2005
BDBL season. He was joined in the rotation by 2004 21st-round
draft flier Brett Tomko (10-10, 5.10 ERA in 178+ IP), Manchester
mainstay Rodrigo Lopez (12-11, 3.90 ERA in 159+ IP) and Morris (9-9,
4.75 ERA in 163 IP.)
Offensively, Cabrera (.290/.374/.489,
31 HR, 103.4 RC) enjoyed his first big season in the BDBL, and Posada
(.272/.380/.458, 83 RC) returned for his final year under contract.
Durazo (.347/.413/.557, 115.5 RC) also returned, and enjoyed the best
year of his career.
That winter, Doyle sat on his roster
and made just one insignificant trade. He then went into the
auction with a little more than $10 million to spend.
Inexplicably, he spent 80% of his budget to acquire another first
baseman in Sean Casey (.315/.374/.432, 99.1 RC.) This meant that
yet again, Doyle would be forced to play at least one
player in his lineup out of position. That player was Casey, who
played 56 games at third base that season with predictably disastrous
results, committing 11 errors (a .906 fielding percentage.)
Because so much money had been spent on
Casey, Doyle couldn't afford to patch the glaring hole left by the
departure of both of his second basemen from 2004, Boone and Kennedy.
Incredibly, Doyle filled that hole by trading Billy Wagner to the
Allentown Ridgebacks in exchange for Nomar Garciaparra (.332/.366/.534
in 283 AB.) But the problems with Garciaparra were numerous.
For starters, he was a ("Pr"-rated) natural shortstop -- not a second
baseman. As such, he posted a .955 fielding percentage for the
Irish Rebels that season while also playing out of position. Secondly,
due to an injury-plagued MLB season, Garciaparra was only able to bat
306 times in 2005. And lastly, Garciaparra carried a burdensome $7
million salary that guaranteed a minimum one-year contract at the end of
the season. And in exchange for that $7 million, Manchester got
just 210 plate appearances out of him in 2006.
Once again, the Irish Rebels -- who,
just two years earlier had stripped away every decent hitter in their
lineup to field an all-gold-glove team -- headed into the season with
two players playing out of position. And oddly enough, this
nonsensical strategy seemed to be working, as the Irish Rebels went
18-10 in Chapter One -- four games ahead of the second-place Marlboro
Hammerheads -- and outscored their opponents by a league-best 64 runs.
But once again, that hot start was a
mirage. By the second week of May, the
party was over:
May 11, 2005 Manchester Irish Collapse
MANCHESTER, NH -- The Manchester Irish Rebels came into this chapter
leading their division by one game despite a 10-18 Chapter Two.
Now, after a 1-7 start to Chapter Three, the Irish Rebels now find
themselves sitting a full SIX GAMES behind the division-leading
The defending champs are currently
12-4 on the chapter, taking three of four from the Nashville
Funkadelic and Southern Cal Slyme, and sweeping the Silicon Valley
CyberSox, despite averaging just 3.4 runs per game this chapter.
The Ravenswood pitching staff has compiled a 2.00 ERA for the
chapter, led by ace Johan Santana (4-0, 1.52), Brad Penny (1-1,
1.54) and the newly-acquired Kelvim Escobar (0-1, 2.00.) On the flip
side, Manchester pitchers have posted a 6.04 ERA this chapter, with
97 hits and 12 homers allowed in 76 innings.
By the all-star break, the Irish Rebels
were looking up at the rest of their division once again, with a 35-45
record -- nine games behind the division leaders.
Doyle did his best to save his sinking
ship, sending top prospect Carlos Quentin to the Cowtippers for ace
pitcher Brad Radke. While Radke performed admirably for his new
team (6-7, 2.70 ERA in 140+ IP), he wasn't enough to turn the season
After four chapters of play, it became
obvious that it would be yet another lost season for the Irish Rebels.
Manchester remained in last place in their division, but only eight
games behind the division-leading Ravenswood Infidels. But where
most observers saw a sinking ship, Doyle
saw an opportunity. At the final trading deadline, he made several
deals designed to push his team past the three teams ahead of
him in the division.
First, he swapped prospect Taylor
Teagarden in exchange for starting pitcher Cory Lidle (5-6, 5.15 ERA in
68+ IP for Manchester.) Next, he traded closer Mariano Rivera in
exchange for another closer, B.J. Ryan. And finally, he traded
Durazo and Tomko in exchange for true third baseman Vinny Castilla
(.177/.233/.407 for Manchester) and John Thomson (1-4, 4.50 ERA in 46
But all these moves seemed to hurt more
than they helped, as the Irish Rebels went just 22-34 (.393) over the
final two chapters to finish the season with a record of 70-90 -- an
unprecedented SIXTH year in a row with 90+ losses since Doyle took over
Doyle headed into the winter of 2006
with $23 million to spend on 20 free agents. Despite the glaring
need to fix the franchise's problems, Doyle didn't make a single trade
that winter, and headed into the auction with roughly the same roster
that had lost 90 games the year before.
On the third day of the auction, Doyle
shelled out $18 million to sign two middle infielders -- a new BDBL record -- in an
effort to shore up both his lineup and his defense. Second baseman
Brian Roberts (.318/.387/.531, 125.4 RC overall) was signed to a salary
of $8.5 million, and shortstop Rafael Furcal (.269/.341/.414, 90.7 RC)
was signed to a $9.5 million salary.
With Cabrera (.326/.402/.555, 36 HR,
132 RC) returning to the lineup, Manchester owned perhaps the best
one-through-three hitters in the league. The problem was that
there was a steep drop in talent after Cabrera.
On the mound, Radke (10-14, 3.79 ERA in
223 IP) and Lopez (14-14, 3.87 ERA in 209+ IP) returned to the starting
rotation. They were joined by left-handed rookies Scott Kazmir
(11-10, 5.36 ERA in 188 IP) and Jeff Francis (11-10, 5.97 ERA in 161+
IP.) Francis had been acquired as part of a 2002 trade with the Salem Cowtippers,
where Doyle sent Brad Penny to Salem in exchange for Darryl Kile, Shane
Reynolds, Rick Ankiel and Francis. That same year, Doyle adopted a
strategy for selecting farm players that would prove to be wildly
effective. Following the 2002 MLB amateur draft, Doyle simply
selected the first player available from the MLB first-round selections.
At the Chapter Four deadline that year, the first two players available
from the draft just happened to be Kazmir and another lefty high school
pitcher, Adam Loewen.
After spending so much money on his
middle infield, Doyle had no money remaining to fill his bullpen.
So he went into Opening Day with just two relievers with 20+ MLB innings
and a sub-4.70 CERA: Mike Timlin and Luis Ayala. It was just
another dubious Doyle experiment with predictably disastrous results.
The Irish Rebels owned a 4.82 team ERA in 2006, in large part due to
Once again, the Irish Rebels jumped out
to an unexpected lead in their division after one chapter of play, going
17-11 -- three games better than the next-best team in the division.
But once again, they fell just as quickly as they rose, going 11-17 in
the next chapter. And by the all-star break, Manchester was
sporting a 38-42 record, and had fallen 14 games out of the division
At the Chapter Four deadline, Doyle
elected not to pick up any farm free agents, eschewing the farm strategy
that had worked so well for him in the past. Instead, he made just
one insignificant trade (acquiring Dustin Hermanson and J.T. Snow in
exchange for Sean Casey), and added two veteran role players (Buddy
Groom and Bubba Crosby) with his only two free agent signings.
At the final trading deadline, Doyle
made four trades in an effort to build for the 2007 season. In one
of those deals, he sent Radke, Francis and Lopez to Salem in exchange
for top prospect Carlos Quentin and three others. He then traded
Roberts to the New Milford Blazers in exchange for Alfonso Soriano,
Justin Duchscherer and Yovani Gallardo. Both Quentin and Gallardo
would soon become two of the top prospects in baseball.
Manchester wrapped up the 2006 season
with a record of 71-89 -- their best record in the Jim Doyle Era -- and
for the first time since 1999, there were several reasons for optimism
heading into the 2007 season.
At the age of 23, Kazmir (10-8, 3.61
ERA in 157+ IP, 39 BB, 195 K) had developed into one of the top young
pitchers in baseball. He was joined by 22-year-old righty Matt
Cain (10-11, 4.93 ERA, 197+ IP, 190 K) and 23-year-old lefty Cole Hamels
(9-8, 4.05 ERA in 140+ IP, 143 K) -- both of whom were acquired during
the 2003 farm draft.
That farm draft was one of the best
ever for any GM in league history, as Doyle used his patented farm
strategy to select Jeremy Hermida in Round #2, Joe Saunders in Round #3,
Hamels in Round #4 and Cain in Round #5. Together, Kazmir, Cain
and Hamels earned just $300,000 combined in 2007, with a combined market
value of around $45 million. No other franchise in the BDBL owned
three such highly-coveted and highly-valuable commodities, and this gave
Manchester a huge leg up on the competition.
Returning to the lineup was the
24-year-old Cabrera (.334/.421/.572, 143.2 RC), who enjoyed a career
year in 2007 at a salary of just $1.6 million. Soriano, acquired
during the prior year, gave the lineup another power bat, as he
contributed 38 home runs and 91.6 runs created. And Furcal
returned to hit .269/.327/.418 with 90.2 runs created.
As if that weren't reason enough for
optimism, the Irish Rebels also had $35.9 million to spend on free
agents (the fourth-highest total in the league.) And with only a
few holes to fill, Doyle was expected to be a major player in the
auction. Of course, given his unpredictable track record, no one
was prepared to discover just how much of a player he would be.
The 2007 auction was truly unique, as
the league seemed to set a new record every day of the auction.
With a record amount of money available to spend, and a considerably
weak draft pool upon which to spend it, several teams overextended
themselves and spent far more money than anyone imagined. The
Irish Rebels were just one of those teams.
Once the $20 million threshold had been
surpassed during the prior year's auction, this seemed to establish a
new level of acceptability in the minds of BDBL GM's. And when
Johan Santana went for a new-record of $21 million on the first day of
the auction, panic consumed several owners who were counting on signing
an ace starting pitcher for a reasonable salary.
Despite the fact that he already had a
quality four-man starting rotation in place before the auction, Doyle
was among those who lost the bidding for Santana, having submitted a $20
million bid. On the third day of the auction, Doyle submitted
another $20 million bid for Chris Carpenter, and lost that bid as well.
When C.C. Sabathia's auction day arrived, no one outside of the Doyle
home imagined that Sabathia would get anywhere near that amount.
Coming off a 2006 MLB season in which he had posted a 3.22 ERA in 192+
innings, with 182 hits allowed, 44 walks and 172 strikeouts, Sabathia
was a solid and consistent performer, but he was considered to be in a
class below Santana and Carpenter.
Nevertheless, Doyle submitted another
$20 million bid for Sabathia, and this time the bid stuck.
January 7, 2007 Sabathia = $20 million = Fiscal
SALEM, NH - The fiscal insanity that is the 2007 BDBL free agent
auction grew exponentially when the Manchester Irish Rebels spent a
whopping $20 million on #2 starter C.C. Sabathia. Sabathia joins a
Manchester rotation that includes right-hander Matt Cain and four
other lefties: Scott Kazmir, Cole Hamels, Mark Hendrickson and Adam
After spending more than half of his
available cash (and one-third of his team's total salary) on one player,
Doyle had little money to fill the remaining holes in his lineup.
In an attempt to fill one of those holes, he shelled out $6 million to
utility infielder Rich Aurilia (.272/.315/.412, 46.5 RC), locking in
another costly "Type H" player.
Once again, Doyle hadn't made a single
trade to fill his roster during the winter, and when the auction ended
he still had a glaring hole behind the plate. And once again,
Doyle's solution for patching that hole drew gasps and guffaws from the
BDBL community. In an ill-fated deal with the Chicago Black Sox,
Doyle traded three of the top young players in baseball (Gallardo,
Loewen and Jarred Saltalamachhia) in exchange for aging veteran catcher
Ivan Rodriguez (.303/.356/.460, 77.6 RC) and minor league catcher Kurt
Suzuki. It was an extremely steep price to pay for a 35-year-old
catcher with a $5.5 million salary and a guaranteed contract for 2008.
However, by the time the dust settled, the Irish
Rebels were looking like a contender. For the first time ever,
they were picked to win their division in the 2007 Season Preview
(though it wasn't exactly a ringing endorsement):
Jim "Stand Pat" Doyle's mind-boggling decision to spend $20 million
on C.C. Sabathia has left this team several players short of a
championship-caliber roster. Already, this decision has cost the
franchise three great young players, who were sacrificed to fill the
gaping hole behind the plate. Several more prospects may need to be
sacrificed to fill the rest of those holes. "Stand Pat" was one of
only two GM's (Steve Osborne being the other) who didn't make a
single trade this winter. Instead, he chose to save all his money
for the big free agent class of 2007. The Irish Rebels came into
this winter with a solid four-man rotation and several gaping holes
in the lineup. With more than $35 million to spend, those holes
could have been filled very nicely. For example, Carlos Delgado, Ray
Durham and Ivan Rodriguez cost just $18.5 million TOTAL in the
auction. Yet Doyle spent $1.5 million more than that on just one
player without filling any of those holes. As a result, Manchester
heads into the 2007 season with a much weaker team than anticipated.
Despite that, this team is still strong enough to win this division.
After one chapter of play, the Irish
Rebels (14-14) were in the middle of a tight battle with the Ravenswood
Infidels (15-13) and Las Vegas Flamingos (13-15.) Less than two
weeks into the season, Doyle made his first trade of the year, trading
another top young prospect (Andrew McCutchen) to the Marlboro
Hammerheads in exchange for slugger Jason Giambi. McCutchen (like
Gallardo, Loewen and Saltalamacchia) was considered to be among the top
40 prospects in baseball at the time, at at #13 was the Irish Rebels'
top farm prospect. Giambi would hit just .226 for the Irish Rebels
over the final five chapters, but would hit 29 home runs, draw 91 walks
and drive in 118 runs.
In Chapter Two, the Infidels bolted out
of the gate with a 13-3 record, opening up a six-game lead over
Manchester in the division. They finished the chapter with an
astounding 22-6 record, while the Irish Rebels merely held their ground at
14-14. By the all-star break, Manchester had fallen to third place
-- nine games behind the Infidels in the division -- with a record of
After another .500 chapter to start the
second half, it became clear that this, too, would not be Manchester's
year. At the end of July, Doyle attended BDBL Weekend in St. Louis
and Kansas City. And during the five-hour drive from one city to
the other, Doyle and Salem GM Mike Glander hammered out an exhausting
three-way trade with Greg Newgard of the San Antonio Broncs. In
that deal, Doyle sent Cabrera to Salem, getting young five-tool phenom
B.J. Upton in return.
Manchester then wrapped up the season
quietly, finishing with a record of 70-90 -- 21 games behind the
division-leading Infidels, and 11 games behind the surprising Flamingos.
Expectations were again high heading
into the 2008 season. Sabathia (21-13, 3.33 ERA in 254+ IP, 44 BB,
214 K), Kazmir (11-14, 4.54 ERA in 204+ IP) and Hamels (8-15, 3.80 ERA
in 194+ IP, 188 K) all returned to the starting rotation, better than
ever, and still dirt-cheap. But inexplicably, despite the
increasing demand (and salaries) of good, young starting pitching, Doyle
traded Cain that winter to the Kansas Law Dogs in exchange for reliever
Jonathan Papelbon (1-4, 1.91 ERA, 30 SVs in 61+ IP.) Making this
decision even more illogical, Doyle also threw in Quentin, who then went
on to have a career year in MLB that year.
December 13, 2007 Doyle Does It Again
MANCHESTER, NH - Manchester Irish Rebels GM Jim Doyle made another
bone-headed trade on Thursday, sending $100,000 ace Matt Cain (along
with "throw-in" Carlos Quentin) to the Kansas Law Dogs in exchange
for Jonathan Papelbon and Eric Bruntlett.
With Cain gone, the #4 spot in the
rotation went to Jorge Sosa (4-1, 5.04 ERA in 98+ IP) and Steve Trachsel
(3-11, 5.40 ERA in 95 IP.) Needless to say, neither
pitcher approached Cain's performance (15-11, 3.66 ERA in 218+ IP) for
Kansas. For the second year in a row, an early-season Doyle trade
had the entire league shaking its collective head in disbelief and
incredulity. But by the end of the season, the Cain trade would
only be the second-worst trade made by Doyle that season.
With Sabathia still eating up a third
of the team's total salary, Doyle had very little money going into the
auction. He resigned Roberts (.285/.364/.398, 97.3 RC) to a $6.5
million salary, and then picked up middle relievers Brian Fuentes and
Lee Gardner for $5 million each in the draft.
With Cabrera now gone, Upton
(.294/.366/.525, 28 HR, 89.6 RC) filled his spot in the lineup at a
fraction of the salary (the league-minimum $100,000.) Soriano
(.249/.280/.415, 70.9 RC) also returned to the lineup, and hit for a
little power, but nothing else. But the biggest improvement to the
lineup was at first base, where Carlos Pena (.286/.414/.654, 56 HR, 139
RBIs, 149.9 RC) enjoyed a monster season, topping the Ozzie League in
home runs, and finishing among the top ten in on-base percentage,
slugging, runs scored, runs batted in and runs created. Pena was
acquired in 2007 in the 38th round of the free agent draft -- the
third-to-last selection in that draft. And in the span of just one
year, he went from being the 837th best player in the BDBL to an MVP
The Irish Rebels were picked to finish
second to the Infidels, due mostly to the fact that they had yet to find
a quality starter to replace Cain in the rotation. It was thought
that the Benes Division race would be a tightly-fought battle throughout
the season. And after the first chapter of play, that prediction
seemed accurate, as the Infidels and Irish Rebels were separated by just
two games in the standings.
Manchester got off to a hot start in
Chapter Two, going 7-1 to pull into a tie atop the division. But
they then went 8-12 the rest of the way, and fell another two games
behind Ravenswood. By May 16th, the division race was all but
over. Ravenswood was the hottest team in the BDBL at that point,
going 15-5 to start the chapter. Their lead in the division grew
to 13 games, and Doyle was forced to begin looking at the OL wild card
But the Irish Rebels went just 7-17 in
Chapter Three, and their deficit in the wild card race grew to double
digits. By the end of four chapters, that deficit had grown to 15
games, and inevitably 2008 had become yet another lost
It was at that point that Doyle -- once
again -- did something completely illogical and inexplicable, causing
the people around the league to question his sanity.
July 28, 2008 WTF!? Doyle Does It Again
MANCHESTER, NH - Manchester GM Jim Doyle has made a
career out of making hugely insane, mind-numbing trades. This week
he added to his impressive resume by trading away two of the top
young commodities in the entire league in exchange for a package of
Gone are Cole Hamels (recently ranked as the 10th most valuable
commodity in the BDBL) and Scott Kazmir (#13) -- two power-pitching
24-year-old left-handed aces. In return, Doyle received
injury-plagued former prospect Phil Hughes, former prospect Franklin
Morales, former prospect Carlos Gomez and assorted spare parts.
Doyle explained his reasoning behind
the trade by stating that he had heard former KC Royals second baseman
Frank White proclaim on a recent Royals broadcast that Kazmir was
injured, and that his fastball was down to 87 miles per hour.
Doyle claimed that he was making a "Billy Beane" type of trade, in that
he was selling off Kazmir and Hamels at their peak value in exchange for
a number of young players that would eventually surpass those two
pitchers in value.
Our scouting reports indicate that
Scott Kazmir has a serious arm problem that he will not recover from
in the near future and we wanted to make a quick trade before the
extent of that injury hit the mainstream market and affected his
trade value. Frank White, one of the KC Royal announcers, spent a
few minutes during a recent KC-TB game lamenting the fact that
Kazmir's velocity had fallen from 94 to 87 on the radar gun.
Further, this reduced velocity had not led to increased accuracy. In
our most recent reviews of Scott's pitching performance, his Whip
rate last week was 1.66 and he was unable to pitch more than 4
innings in his last outing. Finally, Kazmir has failed to learn how
to keep his number of pitches down and this increases the chances of
arm injuries and increases the wear and tear on a bullpen. You take
that all together and we needed to make a move.
Getting rid of Hamels was an emotional reaction to the fact that
Cole had only won 5 games this year. We were very disappointed with
Cole's productivity and actually disgusted that he did not seem too
concerned about winning now. In retrospect, we should have split
them up but we were attracted to the package of players offered in
return for Kazmir and Hamels.
I think BDBL owners have short memories and overestimate the effect
of injuries on MLB players. Phil Hughes, Franklin Morales and Gio
Gonzalez are all capable of anchoring a pitching staff. Hughes was a
higher ranked prospect than Joba until Hughes broke his rib...I
think Hughes will be the ace of the Rebel staff starting with the
2010 BDBL season. Franklin Morales has had success in the majors and
is still very young. Gio Gonzalez leads the minors in Ks and along
with Scott Elbert we expect to have a strong pitching rotation in
the 2010 BDBL season.
But the league wasn't buying it.
That same chapter, Doyle made another
trade with the New Hope Badgers, sending Soriano and the team's top
prospect, Austin Jackson, to the Badgers in exchange for Miguel Tejada,
pitcher Chris Young and Aaron Cunningham. The move was primarily a
salary dump, as Soriano was owed more than $39 million over the next
In the wake of heavy criticism over the
Kazmir/Hamels deal, Doyle announced on August 13th that he was adding an
assistant GM to the Irish Rebels front office.
The Irish Rebels are happy to
announce that Todd Bliss, a 35 year old Financial Services
Professional from Hooksett NH has agreed to become the assistant GM
for the Rebel franchise. Bliss is a season ticket holder with the
Class AA Toronto affiliate known as the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
He sits right behind Jim Doyle at every minor league game Doyle
attends. Doyle had the following comments:
"Our franchise is 23rd out of 24 BDBL teams in terms of all
franchise wins. Todd has joined our organization so we can change
that fact. I have been impressed with Todd's love of the game, his
ability to analyze minor league talent and his impressive financial
background. We are hopeful Todd will help us make effective
investment decisions in next year's BDBL auction as well as the free
agent and minor league drafts. Todd obviously fits the bill for what
we need to take our franchise to the next level. On a practical
level, that means Todd will have veto power over any trade
proposals. While Todd ultimately desires to run his own BDBL
franchise, we intend to use his expertise until his own opportunity
for ownership becomes a reality."
Manchester finished the 2008 season
with a 75-85 record -- their best record since Doyle took over the
franchise, but still ten games below .500.
There is one thing no one could ever
say about the Manchester franchise: that it is uninteresting. One
could formulate a very good argument that Manchester has been the most
interesting franchise in league history (or, at least, the most
interesting sub-.500 franchise.)
This franchise's history began with its
owner resigning from the league on the eve of the deciding game of the
EL Division Series. Yet, remarkably, that event wouldn't rank
among the top ten most stunning events in franchise history.
Among the many trades made by Doyle
that hurt the Manchester franchise farm more than it helped:
Paul O'Neill for Charles Johnson.
Al Leiter for Kelvim Escobar (who
was later cut)
Chipper Jones for Ryan Dempster
(#1 on that aforementioned list)
Todd Helton for Eric Milton
Billy Wagner for Nomar Garciaparra
Yovani Gallardo, Jarred Saltalamacchia
and Adam Loewen for Ivan Rodriguez.
Andrew McCutchen for Jason Giambi
Matt Cain and Carlos Quentin for
Scott Kazmir and Cole Hamels for a
package of former prospects
The list goes on and on. Unlike
most trades, where the eventual "winner" of a trade isn't
several months (or years) afterward, all of the trades above were
universally panned by BDBL critics immediately after the trades were
announced, and have since proven to be even more disastrous than they
appeared at the time.
Part of the explanation for so many
awful trades lies with Doyle's propensity to adopt new strategies from
year-to-year. While correctly recognizing that whatever strategy
he had been employing in the past was unsuccessful, Doyle often latched
onto whatever outlandish strategy he happened to be reading about that
particular winter, and leapt in with both feet. Among the more
memorable Doyle strategies of the past:
The "all-defense" strategy of
The "spending big bucks for defensive catchers
with sub-700 OPS's" strategy (employed multiple times throughout
Fielding a lineup with multiple players
playing out of position
Committing $20M ($40 million over
two seasons) to a #2 or #3 starting pitcher, despite the presence of four quality
starters already in the rotation
Not spending any money on starting
pitching whatsoever, and going with a five-man rotation filled with
Breaking up his promising and
highly-coveted young trio of all-star
starters, exchanging known value for unrealized potential
The "no bullpen" strategy
The salary purge strategy of 2002
that resulted in the Chipper/Dempster trade
When you consider the sheer volume of
impact players that have come through the Manchester farm system over
the past decade (Miguel Cabrera, Scott Kazmir, Cole Hamels, Matt Cain,
Carlos Quentin, Jeff Francis, Nick Markakis, Jeremy Hermida, Joe
Saunders, Hank Blalock), it's difficult to fathom how this franchise
could rank 21st out of 24 teams in wins.
If nothing else, Doyle has certainly
kept things interesting in the BDBL -- both on and off the field -- and
has been a tremendous asset to the BDBL in pure entertainment value