2004 OOTP Season SimulationPreseason Predictions
Well, at least OOTP thinks that this offense beats the historical 2004 group. We shall see.Single Season Walkthrough
I spend Spring Training getting Orlando Hudson time at SS/3B, and Grady Sizemore time at LF/RF.
At the end of April, the Red Sox are 13-11, in 3rd place in the AL East, 1 game behind both the Orioles and Yankees. Kevin Gregg is so bad, over enough IP, that he goes down and Frasor comes up for bullpen duty.
On May 20, just as the Red Sox were picking up steam, Matt Holliday is lost for 3 weeks with a sprained thumb. He goes onto the DL, and Alex Rios is called up to take his spot. Rios is more comfortable in RF than LF, so Rios goes into RF, with Beltran shifting to LF against RHP. I specify against RHP because Sizemore is murdering LHP, so he takes CF against them, with Edmonds shifting his older legs to LF.
At the end of May, the Sox stand at 29-23, in 1st place with a 3 game lead over the Orioles. Heading into June, Pujols plays LF against LHP in interleague play, to keep both his and Teixeira's bats in the lineup. Teixeira sits against RHP in NL parks to get Rios into the lineup. Freddy Sanchez gets starts at 3B against LHP over David Wright. Nomar is still healthy, so no room for Youk yet. Frasor pitches 7.2 scoreless IP to start his MLB career, keying a May comeback by the bullpen.
On June 11, Matt Holliday returns, and Rios is sent down to AAA. Sizemore keeps mashing LHP, so he stays in the lineup over Beltran, who continues to disappoint, upon Holliday's return. On June 19, Jim Edmonds is lost for 6 weeks to a sprained elbow. Rios is called back up. Against RHP, Beltran moves to CF with Rios in RF. Against LHP, it's Sizemore in CF with Beltran in RF.
The Red Sox end June with a 44-33 record, with a 5-game lead over the Orioles. Rios plays his way into the lineup over Sizemore against LHP, as Grady's luck runs out against lefties. Beltran is now the full-time CF until Edmonds returns.
In July, Joe Nathan and Matt Holliday are selected as the only Red Sox All Stars. The month ends with the Red Sox at 61-42, with a 11.5 game lead over the Rays. No other AL East team has a winning record. Roy Oswalt is the AL Pitcher of the Month a 5-0 record in 5 starts, with a 1.80 ERA in 35 IP. Matt Holliday is the AL Rookie of the Month with a 1.086 OPS, 6 HRs, and 26 RBIs in 26 games.
On August 2, Jim Edmonds returns, and Alex Rios goes back down again. He was outhitting Sizemore, but cannot cover the rest of the OF as a backup player like Sizemore can. Beltran returns to RF full time. On August 21, Nomar finally misses some playing time...due to a 6 game suspension for charging the mound against the White Sox.
August ends and the rosters expand with the Red Sox holding a 81-50 record, and a 20.5 game lead over the 2nd place Rays. David Wright is the AL Rookie of the Month with a 356/389/600 line over 23 games. Kevin Gregg, Dan Haren, John Buck, Ryan Howard, Kevin Youkilis, and Alex Rios are all added to the roster for September. David Wright reclaims his PAs against LHP from Freddy Sanchez. Alex Rios starts over Carlos Beltran against LHP. Dan Haren gets some spot starts down the stretch.
On August 23, Albert Pujols is lost for 2 weeks due to "ankle soreness." Rumors abound that it must be something worse hidden by the soreness, as Pujols will now miss at least the ALDS. Kevin Youkilis gets a shot at 1B, with Howard at DH vs RHP due to Teixeira severely underperforming against RHP all season. He also rates as a better defensive 1B (doubtful in 2004, but oh well, whatever you say OOTP), and so takes the 1B spot against LHP with Teixeira at DH.
The season ends with a record of 101-61, as the Sox win the AL East by a mere 27 games over the Blue Jays and Rays. The Red Sox are the 2nd seed in the AL, as the Twins win 104 games behind the bats of Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Carlos Guillen, plus the pitching of Johan Santana and Randy Johnson. The Texas Rangers win the AL West, with the Seattle Mariners in as the Wild Card. The Red Sox will once again face the Texas Rangers in the ALDS.
For the playoff roster, September factors heavily into the analysis. John Buck replaces Doug Mirabelli, as he outhit Mirabelli and has a superior defensive rating. Buck actually outperformed Varitek overall as well, but I'm not quite willing to go that far. As the 5th best starter, Mark Buehrle is removed from the postseason rotation, but also the playoff roster. Kevin Gregg pitches his way onto the roster in September, and another bullpen arm is more useful than a long man with this staff, so Gregg takes Buehrle's spot. With Pujols still out for the ALDS, Orlando Hudson is removed from the playoff roster. Freddy Sanchez performed better at the plate, and covers more positions with more competence in the field than Hudson. The removal of Hudson, when combined with Pujols' injury, allows me to optimize the 1B/DH situation. Kevin Youkilis was above-average against both LHP and RHP in September, Ryan Howard did his Ryan Howard thing of destroying RHP and sucking against LHP, and Mark Teixeira was inexplicably bad against RHP. Therefore, Youkilis is the playoff starting 1B, with Ryan Howard and Mark Teixeira platooning at DH. This also guarantees a good PH for late-inning opportunities, with Sanchez available to replace any middle infielder in the following half inning. Grady Sizemore replaces a still-struggling Carlos Beltran in the OF, playing CF with Edmonds shifting to RF.
Pedro Martinez is actually my 4th best starter in 2004, but I don't have the heart to start anyone over him in Game 1 of the ALDS. Pedro repays my loyalty with 5.2 shutout innings in Game 1, and the Red Sox lead 5-0 in the top of the 9th inning. Dan Kolb and Brian Fuentes combine to give up 5 runs in the top of the 9th, with the 5th run scoring on a bases-loaded walk to Adrian Gonzalez, and the game goes into extra innings. Grady Sizemore leads off the bottom of the 11th with a triple, and Ryan Howard brings him home with a sac fly with 1 out to put the Red Sox up 1-0 in the series. In game 2, Roy Oswalt is actually outpitched by John Lackey, and the Red Sox trail 1-0 after 7. Matt Holliday drives in the tying run in the bottom of the 8th, and Grady Sizemore is the hero again, with a walkoff HR in the bottom of the 9th. The series goes back to Texas, and I hope not to see a repeat of 2003.
Albert Pujols finishes his DL stint on the travel day from Boston to Texas, but I did not leave an open spot for him on the playoff roster. I have to wait for the ALDS to end to replace Youkilis with Pujols. Brandon Webb gets shelled in Game 3, and the Red Sox lose 5-4, to Carl Pavano of all people. In Game 4, Pedro Martinez and Chris Carpenter duel to a draw, but Betancourt gives up the deciding run in the bottom of the 8th, and it appears that history is repeating itself, as the Red Sox head back to Fenway after back-to-back 1 run losses in series clinching games. The only good news is that Roy Oswalt, my actual best pitcher on the staff in 2004, is the Game 5 starter. David Wright and Matt Holliday go crazy against John Lackey, and the Red Sox win the game and the series, with a 5-2 score.
Kevin Youkilis, and his robust postseason OPS of 581, is removed from the playoff roster in favor of Albert Pujols. The ALCS opponent is the Minnesota Twins, in a battle of the two best teams in baseball. The Twins have the Homefield Advantage. In Game 1, Pedro Martinez gets pounded and Johan Santana leads the Twins to a 5-3 victory. In Game 2, the Red Sox blow the lead, then the game on errors by Grady Sizemore and David Wright, and the Twins win 5-4 in 11 innings. Back at Fenway for Game 3, it turns out that Mark Redman is no Johan Santana or Randy Johnson, and the Red Sox win in a 13-4 rout. In Game 4, Pedro gets knocked out in the 3rd inning, and the Red Sox face a quick 5-0 deficit. Kevin Gregg, as the mopup man over Buehrle, holds the line through the 5th inning, and the Red Sox take advantage of 2 Twins errors to score 4 unearned runs on Santana, then 1 more against Julian Tavarez to take the lead. The bullpen survives a late Twins rally and the series is tied after a 8-7 Red Sox win. In Game 5, it is Randy Johnson's turn to get pounded, as the Sox win 10-5. Back to Minnesota for Game 6, where Redman is taunted a second time, and the Red Sox move onto the World Series with a 10 - 3 win.
The Florida Marlins defeat the Montreal Expos in 7 games to meet the Red Sox in the World Series. The first two games are in Florida, removing Teixiera/Howard from the lineup. Game 1 is a battle of 2004 postseason Aces, with Pedro Martinez (0-1, 5.06 ERA) facing Josh Beckett (1-2, 5.29 ERA).
In Game 1, quite possibly the dumbest thing that I could imagine happens. In the Top of the 9th inning, with the Red Sox leading 7-2, having just received a solo HR by Jim Edmonds, Marlins RP Matt Mantei hits Albert Pujols with a pitch. This is the point where a real, intelligent player like Pujols would, I presume, glare at the pitcher and take his base, lest he be suspended in the middle of the World Series, exchanging the Red Sox cleanup hitter for the Marlins Nth reliever. But no, in this game, Pujols charges the mound. Mantei and Pujols are ejected, and are each subsequently suspended for the next 5 games by Major League Baseball. The Red Sox win 7-2, but at the cost of losing Pujols for Games 2-6, while the Marlins merely lose Mantei. In Florida, this is actually less of an impact, as Teixiera/Howard merely step in with similar offense and reduced defense in their platoon roles. In Boston, though, this means John Buck at DH vs RHP, and Freddy Sanchez at DH vs LHP, since Youkilis is no longer on the roster and cannot be added mid-series. Just a boneheaded move by Pujols. We'll see how costly it is.
Game 2 features Roy Oswalt vs AJ Burnett, and Burnett comes out on top, 4-3. Ryan Howard drove in all 3 Boston runs, so it's not like Pujols was missed. The series returns to Boston for Game 3, where Dontrelle Willis battles Brandon Webb. Webb is spectacular, with 8.1 shutout innings, as the Sox roll 7-0. Pedro and Beckett square off again in Game 4, but the Red Sox lose at home for the first time in 8 2004 postseason games, 6-2. Two errors on Jim Edmonds led to 3 Marlins runs. Game 5 is Burnett-Oswalt again, and Florida comes out on top again, 8-4. Oswalt is pounded early, and the Sox are never really in the game. Apparently, 5 games actually means 5 days, because Pujols is back for Game 6 in Florida. Webb takes on Willis, and the Sox drive Willis straight to counseling with a 11-4 victory.
The deciding 7th game features the 3rd Pedro vs Beckett matchup of the series, which seems fitting enough. This will be Pedro Martinez's last game in a Red Sox uniform. Pedro and Beckett duel to a draw, each allowing 1 run over 6 innings, with Pedro's being unearned. The Marlins take a 2-1 lead in the 7th against Scot Shields, and head into the 9th up 2-1, and looking to close out the World Series. Billy Wagner comes in to close the series out. He retires Matt Holliday, then hits Marcus Giles with a pitch. Nomar Garciaparra, in his last game in a Red Sox uniform as well, hits a 2-run HR to give the Red Sox the lead. Jason Varitek, in his final game in a Red Sox uniform, scores an insurance run, and David Wright drives in Grady Sizemore for one more. Brian Fuentes closes the door, and the Red Sox win a thrilling 7th game of the 2004 World Series by a score of 5-2. This is the franchise's 17th Banner in the OOTP sim universe.
I think it's fair to say that most of us here wish that Nomar really could have gone out that way. Post-Season Analysis
The team finished 101-61 after the regular season, 4 games under their Pyth record of 105-57. They led the AL in runs scored with 941, in runs allowed with 681, and were also 1st in defensive efficiency. Bad bullpen work in April appears to be largely to blame for being the #2 seed in the AL. The real 2004 Red Sox
For the catchers, both Varitek and Mirabelli were disappointments. John Buck was quite good in limited action. That's where the 8 runs lost from the real 2004 team came from! At least Varitek was more like himself in the postseason, putting up a 254/371/407 line.
At 1B, Pujols was excellent, if not quite as awesome as his real 2004 season. Teixeira was pretty disappointing, failing to match even Kevin Millar's production, nevermind that of David Ortiz. Ryan Howard and Kevin Youkilis both exceeded expectations in limited play, with Howard being a huge contributor in the postseason as well, with an OPS of 1.005 in 12 games. Teixeira was slightly better, and Pujols slightly worse than their regular season numbers in October.
At 2B, Marcus Giles easily exceeded his baseline, along with 2004 Mark Bellhorn. He did not match Bellhorn's postseason heroics in the slightest, making several errors and posting a measly 716 OPS in the month. Orlando Hudson was, quite simply, horribly awful.
At SS, thank goodness Nomar stayed healthy, because the Hudson plan would have failed. Nomar was worse than his 2004 historical output, but still better than Pokey Reese, historical Sanchez, sim Sanchez, or sim Hudson. There's some value in not being a boat anchor, although that might have described his defensive range, he was less bad than he was historically in the field as well, since he stayed healthy. He made up for his mediocre regular season bat with some postseason heroics, including a 318/392/545 line and the game-winning HR in Game 7 of the World Series. A fitting sendoff.
At 3B, David Wright was just as good as he was historically, in double the playing time. He bested Bill Mueller at the plate, and was the team's October MVP, pacing the entire squad with a dominating 394/469/620 performance, while playing good defense. Freddy Sanchez was unremarkable backing up mostly SS and 3B, with some 2B, but unremarkable is WAY better than he was historically, and his bat was a major upgrade on that of Pokey Reese.
In LF, Matt Holliday hit his stride a year early, behind only Pujols and Edmonds as the team's top regular hitter, and made the dropoff from historical Manny Ramirez quite manageable. He had a mediocre postseason, but the surprise regular season makes that fine by me.
In CF, Jim Edmonds was merely excellent, instead of awesome as his 2004 campaign was. He also missed a significant stretch of time due to injury, so he was far less valuable than his baseline performance. He still outproduced 2004 Johnny Damon quite handily. During Edmonds' absence, Grady Sizemore asserted himself, eventually taking over in CF down the stretch. Sizemore, like Holliday, was much better than expected in his rookie campaign, and he only had a mild dropoff to the low-800s in OPS against postseason pitching. He matched Trot Nixon's 2004 offense, and provided better defense at a more important position.
In RF, Carlos Beltran was a major disappointment yet again. He was still better than Gabe Kapler, but not by nearly as much as he should have been. He was an effective pinch hitter in the postseason. Alex Rios was roughly who he was supposed to be, albeit in less playing time.
The Pitching staff:
Pedro Martinez was something of a letdown, matching neither his historical IP nor ERA+ marks. Roy Oswalt, thankfully, made up for much of that letdown. Tim Hudson threw more innings of comparable quality. Webb threw slightly fewer innings of slightly lesser quality. Buehrle was a pretty significant disappointment, but he was at least durable.
In the bullpen, Rafael Betancourt outdid himself and threw more IP while doing it. Joe Nathan was merely excellent instead of mind-blowingly awesome. Dan Kolb was essentially right on target, while pitching more innings. Brian Fuentes completely outdid his mediocre 2004 campaign, but made up for it by turning into a batting practice machine in the postseason, with an ERA of 8.44. Scot Shields threw fewer innings of reduced quality, but was still above average. Keith Foulke disappointed again, but at least he didn't outright suck this time. Jason Frasor and Kevin Gregg both underperformed their baselines in fewer innings. Dan Haren had no injury starts to pick up from the rotation, so he only got spotty mop-up duty in September. Years of Control and Extensions
As the arbitration screen comes up, I take stock of who needs new contracts. The pair of players who are on schedule are Fuentes and Sanchez, who are each at 3 years of service time. They get 3-year contracts instead of going year-to-year.
The next pair to enter the "Keith Foulke Zone" are Dan Kolb and Joe Nathan. They are still under my control, have 5 years and ~100 days of service time, and I can't get picks for them unless they leave after 6+ years of service. They each get a single-year contract. My 2005 bullpen roster crunch is going to be EPIC. Leaders and Awards
Gold Gloves - Albert Pujols (1B), Marcus Giles (2B)
Hits - Albert Pujols
Runs - Albert Pujols
Up Next - The 2004 Draft
Edited by JMDurron, 18 November 2011 - 05:13 PM.