As July 1985 began in the Grand Championship League, teams continued to seek out deals that will set them up for success during the second half of the season.
Even Play at the Plate, which continues to lead the Palkowski Division with its league-best record of 54-33, three games ahead of second place OTBA, is looking for help: GM Kyle Stever recently put out this message: “PATP is looking to boost their lineup a bit – particularly at second base, third base, and left field. Higher profile players are desired, of course, but I would also be interested in acquiring above average types as well. I have quite a bit of pitching to part with (both in the rotation and bullpen) for the right return.”
PATP currently has had Wayne Barry (.251, 1 HR, 16 RBI) in the starting lineup for 48 games, after Ben West played 50 games and posted a .202 average with no home runs and just two RBI. Third baseman Roberto Martinez (.248, 10 HR, 52 RBI) has started all season and left fielder Carlos Bernard (.25, 6 HR, 28 RBI) has played in all but 15 games.
The team is in the top five in every pitching category except strikeouts, but it’s only in the top ten in three batting categories. It has also stumbled recently, posting a 4-6 record in its last ten games and a 15-12 mark in June. With a 15-10 record in one-run games and the fact that second-place OTBA is also pitching heavy, it’s not a surprise that PATP wants to add a big bat to ensure it doesn’t play in many close games.
“We’ve Never Been Stay the Course” / “We Will Stay the Course”
Meanwhile, on July 4 RIBC and RFTP consummated a trade that saw shortstop Bill Jackson (.284, 10 HR, 46 RBI) leave RIBC in exchange for RFTP starter Rob Brown (7-4, 2.98 ERA) and reliever Mark Bacon (2-4, 2.33 ERA, 4 SV). The teams are headed in opposite directions: RIBC is 37-50, 13 games behind USBL in the Cook Division, while RFTP is 43-44, just four games behind MBWBA and ASBA in a tepid Heinsohn Division.
Kyle Amoroso, RFTP GM, had this to say when asked about the trade: “Well, RFTP needed offense, plain and simple. We were not expecting to be a offensive powerhouse, but the expectations that we did have were not being met. Our pitching has been solid, so I felt the team had enough depth to let go of two quality players in SP Rob Brown and MR Mark Bacon.”
He added: “Bill Jackson will be a great addition to our team both offensively and defensively. He’s on pace to hopefully put up a 7 WAR season. With RFTP he will play SS and bat 2nd against RHP, and play 3B and bat 3rd against LHP. He has struggled against LHP this year but I’m hoping it to be just a slump since his ratings are superior against LHP.
“The deal made sense for both teams and I wish the best of luck to Brown, Bacon, and RIBC, except when they play us, of course.”
When asked about his team’s chances to win the division, and whether the team that does has a shot int he playoffs, Amoroso replied: “I like my team’s chances to win the division and I think by the beginning of August RFTP will take hold of the division lead. We have a solid +20 run differential so far, but we’ve been unlucky this year as we are 11-19 in one-run games. If that balanced out, we’d have the division lead already. We have an incredibly talented defense, which helps our already solid pitching staff, and now we have added an offensive weapon.
“I think the Heinsohn division winner does stand a chance. We are a proud division and our representative will relish the role of the underdog. It will make winning it all that much sweeter.”
RIBC GM James Paterson sought to put his own spin on the situation, given his club’s recent 3-7 skid and a “Who’s Not?” list that’s twice as long as the “Who’s Hot?” one. He said: “We’ve been looking for something between ‘cut and run’ and ‘stay the course.’ Listen, we’ve never been ‘stay the course,’ Brad. Anyone who tells you that we’ve said ‘This team will stay the course… until the job is done’ — Well, to them I say, ‘My message is, “We will stay the course.”‘”
He also provided the league office with a link to a YouTube video that he seemed to feel underscored his point
He continued: “Of course, as I sit here and listen to 1974′s ‘You Don’t Change Horses (In the Middle of a Stream)’ by Tower of Power, I’m left to think maybe you do. So we did. We turned it loose… and hope to spark a second half for the ages.”
He added: “Giddy-up. Hi ho Silver.”
The Commissioner’s Report
On that note, we’ll conclude with commissioner Michael Branda’s look at the GCL at the halfway point. Here is his report, in its entirety:
I have to admit, I am surprised mostly at MBWBA. They blew through their budget early and on paper looked like one of the worst teams in the league and yet here we are on July 4th and they are tied for first.
I’m not sure how this division plays out to be honest. I had ASBA winning it, and right now they are tied for first so I guess I need to stick with them.
I’m not really surprised by anything in this division right now. In fact, I feel really good about my prediction. I had PEBA at 99 give or take 5 wins, and FOBL at 95, give or take 5 wins, as 1st-2nd, and while I am a little off the mark on win projection – I’ve got the standings nailed pretty much. FOBL needs a big bat somehow, otherwise I’m not sure they have the offense to keep up with PEBA.
Easily the most surprising is ULB and USBL basically switching spots from where I predicted them. I did not expect ULB to struggle so much. Their lineup and rotation have crushed their hopes at an OOTP GCL Title. USBL’s pitching has been way better than I ever thought it could be.
The BSA is right there, seems like they have been treading water close to first place all year. I won’t count them out yet.
I was really into OTBA (predicted them as our champ), but their sluggish start really surprised me. On May 1st, PATP had a seven-game lead over OTBA, and now OTBA has cut the lead to just three games.
Those were the two teams I predicted as 1-2 in this division, so I like where I’m at with that. So I’d say the biggest surprise was how difficult OTBA made it on themselves through April.
The biggest surprise? My predictions aren’t TOTALLY insane.
MVP: Aaron Roy (OTBA) – He won’t win it, he started off ridiculously slow but having a respectable year right now.
Cy Young: George Davis (AFBL) – Not sure if he will win it, but he currently leads in WAR, FIP, and is Top 5 in ERA, K
Playoffs: I had ASBA, PEBA, ULB, OTBA… 3 out of 4 have very good odds of being correct.
Predictions Moving Forward
I’m not going to veer from the 3 division champs I have still alive. So I’ll stick with ASBA, PEBA, OTBA. I’m gonna take BSA to surprise USBL and take the Cook division out from under them.
MVP – Chris “Crowbar” Jordan out of ASBA
Cy Young – Ricky Stone of MBWBA