When last we left the Louisiana Blaze, on the 8th of August last year, the 2053 season was winding down, and the Blaze were looking towards next year. Well, time has passed. Let’s catch up.
We finished the year with a 64-98 record, 5th place, 24 games back. We scored 602 runs, but we allowed 738. We hit .240 as a team, and had an ERA of 4.15, with a WHIP of 1.42. This is not a recipe for success. Masuhiro Yoshida led us in most offensive categories, while Ledford and Wright were the top starters.
In the 2054 draft I had the fifth pick, and my number one choice was a starting pitcher, Babe Glumak, the younger brother of my number 2 pick last year, Bucky. Babe’s got basically two pitches a sinker and a knuckle-curve, and he throws them hard. I’m looking for great things from young Babe.
After Babe, there didn’t seem to be a lot of stand out pitching available, so I went with four fielders: left fielder Franklin Amp, shortstop Bobby Collyard, first baseman Danton Samba, and catcher Curt Mathews. Certainly, we could use someone to hit the ball.
In ’54 we improved. We went 65-97. At this rate, a 100 win season is only a matter of time. We scored 634, (+32!) but allowed 792 (+54!) – not a good trend. We finished in 5th place, 27 games out, and once again claimed a moral victory by avoiding the predicted 100 loss season. Take that!
In ’54 Masahiro Yoshida had some knee problems, missed about five weeks of the season, and faltered a bit. Young third baseman Jesus Rosales took over the batting lead in most categories, finishing with a .303 average and 20 home runs in his second full season. Only 24 years old. I love this kid!
The pitching was terrible in ’54 – a 4.50 ERA. The most pleasant pitching surprise of the year was Pedro Cardenas, who, at 35, was brought up from the minors in sheer desperation, and who managed to start off by going 4-0, or something like that, before finishing up at 7-7 with a 4.70 ERA. One of my other starters was Michael Gore, who went 6-15 with a 6.03 ERA. I kept on thinking he couldn’t be that bad, but he was. Meanwhile, it was Wright’s turn to have a decent season (14-11, 3.62) and Ledford’s turn to disappoint (10-16, 3.42). Ledford was always just good enough to lose. Ben Stewart had a decent season as a closer, with 36 saves and a 3.39 ERA. Not that I needed a closer, but his trade value is minimal, I think, as he’s 35 year’s old. Still, make me an offer.
In the ’55 draft I would have gone with pitching if there would have been someone there for me in the three spot. But there wasn’t, so I took a college kid, rightfielder Ty Pharoh, as my number one, number 3 overall. Looks to be a good hitter with some power and speed, and I’m hoping he comes up soon. My outfield is a shambles. My other picks, in order, pitcher Barlow Quirk, first baseman Franzwah Thibidaux, pitcher Johnny Dark, pitcher L.C. Crow, and pitcher Sam Gunsolly. Yes, I could use some pitching.
Another season where 100 losses were predicted. Another season where we beat the odds. We finished at 73 and 89, 4th place, 29 games back, and just short of a wild card spot in the playoffs. General Manager of the year? Not likely. What’s the secret of our success, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. We scored 596 runs, -38 from last year (!), and gave up 647, which is -145 from last year! Yes, almost 150 less runs were scored against us. Unethical Chad McCall came up this year, and – genius that I am – I pitched him in middle relief almost all season. He went 6-1, with a 1.70 ERA in 100 innings of work. I finally put him in the rotation at season’s end, and, his second start, he throws a no-hitter.
I think he’ll be starting next year.
I will probably need him, as one of my other top starters is now 37 years old, and perhaps will retire? Carlos Ibarra went 12-11 with a 3.35 ERA, at 37, the best I’ve seen from him. Perhaps he’s working on the knuckleball? Wright and Ledford both posted 8-14 marks, Ledford with a 3.06 ERA. I also brought up former first round pick Dale Smokervich, but he has had some injury troubles and is fading a bit. He went just 7-10 with a 4.57 ERA; I’m hoping he will improve next season, though he might find himself in the bullpen.
If we could have scored a few runs last year, we might have made the playoffs! But we didn’t. Jesus Rosales again led our “offense” in most categories, hitting .297 with 77 rbis. Yoshida led the club in HR with… 13. Yes. Thirteen. John White would probably have led the club in home runs, but he got hurt after 40 some games, so he only ended up with 9. Our outfield was terrible. We used first baseman Clint Cotton in left and right field, and he hit more than we thought he would, going .247-10-42, but Robert Riley (another first baseman playing left) only hit .227-9-47. Centerfielder Carlos Lopez rebounded from some disappointing years to hit .299, but let’s see if he can do that again, because I’m doubtful. Olimpio Molnes was brought up from Baton Rouge, and he did okay for a rookie, at .242-9-41; plus he can actually play outfield! Run, catch, and throw! I don’t know if he can hit so much next year, but we plan on having him out there to catch the ball.
One thing for sure in 2056 – both our pitching and our outfield should be better than in ’55. Babe Glumak should be in the rotation, and Ty Pharoh will be in right.
Currently the playoffs begin tomorrow; they’ll take awhile. And then comes the ’56 draft. I’ll be picking 8 or 9, I think, somewhere in there. Pitching? Hitting? Well, we’ll have to see what’s available.