Author Topic: Ghost Stories -- The Gettysburg Phantoms  (Read 281 times)

Offline Brandon Brooks

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Ghost Stories -- The Gettysburg Phantoms
« on: December 12, 2016, 06:35:24 PM »
The Richmond Railroaders have been like the franchise personification of a hitter who doesn't follow through on his swing. Despite 29 playoff appearances, an all-time record of 5782-5398, a .517 overall winning percentage, and 42 winning seasons, the club has only three championships to their name, with a grand total of one since the year 2023. To top it all off, Richmond's losing effort in 2073 marks the fifth consecutive sub-.500 season, which sets a new low for the organization.

A combination of recent lack of success, consistently falling attendance numbers, and a turnover in ownership and general management, has led to a change in direction for the Richmond Railroaders. After eight largely uneventful seasons, the franchise will move again, and it's my hope that the club will find a permanent home (and more permanent success) in their new city. The destination? Pennsylvania, as after the calendar turns to 2074, the squad will be inaugurated as the Gettysburg Phantoms!


Featuring a purple, black, and white color scheme, the Gettysburg Phantoms tip their cap to the supposedly haunted city, where it's said that many a soldier has taken post-mortem residence as a result of the bloodiest battle in the American Civil War. The team will play within a ballpark known simply as "The Haunt," where not just fly balls, but all balls go to die. The field was designed to be a pitcher's park, with the foul lines running 350 feet on either side, a straightaway center field distance of 420 feet, and walls no shorter than 10 feet high anywhere in the ballpark (including a top height of 20 feet in dead right.)


That's all for now, as ownership is still focused and making the transition as seamless as possible, but keep checking back if you're interested -- there's going to be plenty more to come here as I cover the 2073 offseason.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2016, 06:55:24 PM by Brandon Brooks »
Richmond Railroaders (2073)
Gettysburg Phantoms (2074-)

Offline statfreak

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Re: Ghost Stories -- The Gettysburg Phantoms
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2016, 09:00:27 AM »
Interesting choice of location and team names.

Looking forward to hearing more about the Phantoms.

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Offline Green & Gold Heart

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Re: Ghost Stories -- The Gettysburg Phantoms
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2016, 06:56:51 PM »
I like it.
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Offline Brandon Brooks

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Re: Ghost Stories -- The Gettysburg Phantoms
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2016, 10:35:52 PM »
10/24/73
Departing Railroaders

A couple of Railroaders will soon file for free agency, as this offseason brings with it a couple of spots to replenish on the 25-man roster. The first belongs to starting second baseman and roving fielder Neil Edwards, a glove-first guy who just enjoyed his best offensive season since '69 (posting -0.6 WAR between now and then.) Perhaps smartly, Edwards has declined an invitation to talk extensions, instead electing to test the free agent market after a 2.2 WAR season. We'll attempt to negotiate with him, as there's really not a viable replacement on the farm (at least not fielding-wise; Bo Stanberry could slide over to second and 23-year-old Wilford Cooper could come up from Triple-A and take shortstop. We'll see.)

The other departure is from third baseman Kip Hill, who was making more money and playing less games than Edwards. Hill won the 2068 Hoover in his rookie season, but his defense has slowly declined thanks to multiple foot injuries (two fractures and a contusion in a 502-day period). After posting a wRC+ of 75 and a WAR of -0.5, as well as being supplanted by young hotshot Sergio Santiago, it was clear that Hill's time with the Railroaders has ended.

There's still some arbitration decisions to be made, and some players may yet be non-tendered and find themselves looking for work outside the Richmond organization. But on the opposite side of things, the Railroaders did hand out one extenison -- a three-year deal with two-time Hoover winner Bill Koch, who put together an impressive all-around performance this season and will serve as a nice veteran presence for the many youngsters on the squad.
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Gettysburg Phantoms (2074-)

Offline Brandon Brooks

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Re: Ghost Stories -- The Gettysburg Phantoms
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2016, 11:32:27 PM »
Starting Pitching Assessment

Richmond had the worst ERA in the Kuffrey league, and gave up the third-most runs in the entirety of the OTBA. So, in a way, I'm not really assessing starting pitchers, I'm assessing people who are handed baseballs, instructed to throw them in the direction of home plate, and told to hope for the best. We'll see what we got.

SP #1: RHP Patrick Wallace (14-10, 3.68, 2.9 WAR)
Wallace is only 24 and still has plenty of development left to go on his secondary pitches, but his pinpoint running fastball has led him to success in his first full season as a starter. Wallace isn't overpowering, nor is her overly crafty, but he is largely consistent and can eat innings. Unfortunately, he's having offseason surgery on his throwing elbow, so it's anyone's guess whether or not he'll continue developing properly. If he does, however, he's going to be the clear frontliner of the pitching rotation.

SP #2: RHP Mauro Rivera (12-11, 3.67, 1.7 WAR)
Rivera is a remarkably similar pitcher to Wallace; same age, nearly-identical ERA, over 200 innings pitched. Where Rivera differs is in that his six-pitch repertoire leads to a few more strikeouts (his 6.3 K/9 made him one of the ten best strikeout pitchers of the Kuffrey League this year). I'd love to see Wallace and Rivera continue developing alongside each other, because there's potential for them to be a consistent 1-2 punch.

SP #3: LHP Orlando Rivas (9-10, 5.07, 1.7 WAR)
This is where the rotation begins to crumble. Yes, Rivas was worth as many wins as Rivera, but it was a Tale of Two Pitchers for Rivas in 2073. He opened the year miserably before recovering down the stretch, but his ERA+ declined has declined from 107 to 87 to 76 in each of his three big-league years. (He's also the oldest member of the rotation, at a whopping 25 years of age.)

SP #4: RHP Bernardo Vallejo (9-16, 4.25, 0.8 WAR)
Vallejo can throw over 100 miles per hour as a starting pitcher. That's impressive. What's not impressive is that he has absolutely no say in where those pitches end up, as he's walked more batters than he's struck out in each of the last two seasons, and leads the Kuffrey league with 324 free passes in that time. 324 walks in 64 games. That's 7.2 walks a game. That's ABSURD. Does he need LASIK? What's perhaps more impressive than the monstrous walk rate is the fact that Vallejo was somehow able to submit an ERA+ of 91 and positive WAR after a -1.8-win outing in 2072. Vallejo may see time in the bullpen in 2074; maybe if he's only out there for an inning at a time, he can keep it under control and focus on blowing hitters away.

SP #5: RHP Fernando Velez (2-19, 6.06, -0.6 WAR)
Pitching wins and losses have become less relevant as baseball has matured and the sharp-eyed fan has realized it's not a very effective stat for measuring individual performance. However, any time a guy leads the league with 19 losses and only 2 wins to his credit, you gotta figure at least a little bit that he's just not good. Yes, it was his rookie season, and yes, he was only 23 years old during it, but oh, good lord. More walks than strikeouts and 245 total hits allowed? It seems like his 14 rating in fielding his position is his only positive attribute. In fact, upon further inspection, he's actually very well-scouted in the field and not abysmal with the bat. I honest-to-god might convert him into a position player.

Improvement Options

It appears as though our best homegrown options have similar makeups to the five men I've mentioned. Lefty Armando Coronado had a 2-win year at Triple-A Kehei, but dealt with control issues and needs more seasoning. Hard-throwing Bryce Mitchell SHOULD be good -- after all, he's our most recent first-rounder -- but he's quite a ways off from playing time in the OTBA. Further down the ranks, predictions get a bit muddier, but guys like Gabriel Garcia or Marcel Desjardins could work their way into the conversation a few years from now.

So, in a couple of weeks when they file, Gettysburg (and everyone else) will have their eye on the free agents. Obviously, Fernando Feliciano from Akron would be an immense haul, if he and the Dandies don't come to terms on a contract extension by then. We're also highly interested in Jake Keough. Keough would be a much-needed veteran presence in an incredibly young rotation, and his profile as an extreme flyball pitcher would likely play well in our new digs at the Haunt.

There's a lot of work to be done, and some players on the '73 roster may find themselves taking off their Railroaders jerseys and never throwing on Phantoms caps. But more on that later, as there's arbitration decisions to be made.
Richmond Railroaders (2073)
Gettysburg Phantoms (2074-)

Offline Brandon Brooks

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Re: Ghost Stories -- The Gettysburg Phantoms
« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2016, 06:57:44 PM »
Bullpen Assessment

Ever-so-slightly better than the league-worst rotation, the 8th-worst Kuffrey bullpen had a couple key factors but still left a great deal to be desired in terms of overall quality (and quantity) of talent. Certainly, we'll be in the free agent market for some arms, but if the season started today, this is what we'd be looking at.

LRP: LHP Bill Bryant (0-1, 4 HLD, 1 SV, 7.18, -0.4 WAR)
Bryant was an effective closer at Single-A, Double-A, and Triple-A ball, collecting 70 saves over the last three seasons. Unfortunately, his transition to the OTBA went poorly, as he wound up offering negative value and barely scratching 50 with his ERA+. Thankfully, Bryant is just 22 years old and can still develop his offspeed pitches to the point where he'll have big-league success.

MRP: LHP Lucio Barrera (5-3, 10 HLD, 1 SV, 6.75, -0.6 WAR)
Barrera had a 2.38 ERA in 30 games the season prior, so his sudden plummet to abysmal certainly caught fans by surprise. Barrera seems to have lost control of his location the more OTBA games he plays, and his low velocity isn't helping matters, either. At 27 years old, the former first-rounder might see a demotion back to the minors if this type of decline continues.

MRP: RHP Rob Rich (1-0, 2 HLD, 0 SV, 6.91, 0.1 WAR)
Rich has been with the team since '68, and started out with a couple of bad years before hitting his stride at the beginning of the decade and really coming onto his own in a limited role in '72. Unfortunately, he seems to have rubber-banded back to his rookie season with a subpar performance in even fewer games than he appeared in last year. He's had good seasons, but his age (nearly 30) and unpredictability (large K/BB ratio swings) might mean he's one of the first to go.

SETUP (6th): RHP Chris Martin (0-1, 0 HLD, 0 SV, 2.78, 0.5 WAR)
Martin has played in six major-league games, and they've all come with Stockholm. In the minors, however, Martin was a dominant, strikeout-focused starting pitcher and was named the #48 prospect in the OTBA prior to the 2073 season. Martin wants to start, so he'll be given a tryout in spring training, and he may wind up taking over for one of my back-end starters. However, as it stands, Martin will most likely help out the bullpen to begin the year, then earn a promotion into the big-league rotation.

SETUP (7th): RHP Danny Jolly (7-3, 15 HLD, 3.04, 1.2 WAR)
As we get deeper into the bullpen, we start to see some real talent. Jolly is very young and will look to avoid the sophomore slump after an impressive showcase of reliability during his rookie campaign. With only 2 homers allowed in 50 innings of work, coupled with serviceable control and an above-average pitch combo, Jolly will hopefully excel at keeping the score where it's at when he's called into work.

SETUP (8th): RHP David Simpson (3-4, 0 HLD, 43 SV, 2.56, 0.5 WAR)
Simpson is a former starter who was converted to a setup man and then sort of hurriedly thrown into the role of closer at the beginning of last season. While I don't necessarily agree with his appointment over Kennedy (and will be changing their dynamic entering '74), there's no denying that the newly-made All-Star is an elite reliever.

CLOSER: LHP Matt Kennedy (10-6, 13 HLD, 3 SV, 2.17, 0.7 WAR)
Kennedy is a powerful lefty who was once a league-leading closer with 42 saves for the '71 Railroaders. I'm not sure why he was switched to the 8th inning and Simpson was moved to the 9th, but now that I have a full season's worth of roster control, you can bet that Kennedy will be locked into that closer role again on Opening Day. He's got four elite pitches and his tendency to give up a long ball will only be reduced in the spacious Haunt.

Improvement Options
While the setup men and closer SHOULD be well-above-average in 2074, the front end leaves a little bit (read: a LOT) to be desired. In-house, there's not a whole heck of a lot happening, as there are no true shut-down relievers at Triple-A...or any level, really. Martin was already picked up on the waiver wire, and we'll likely continue looking there for viable replacements for guys like Bryant and Rich.

On the open market, the good closers are all in their mid- to late-thirties. They're also, you know, closers, and I don't need any more clubhouse pandemonium than we did last year by introducing a battle for the responsibility of closing. I'm interested in Julian Olvero, a 26-year-old lefty who played last year on the last-place Bulldog Bats. Okay, yes, he's a closer, and I just said I didn't need another closer. However, despite a fair amount of saves over the last three years, Olvero has no expectation to close with his new team, and I actually see him as more of a flexible guy who can get key outs in the middle innings; a modern-day stopper, if you will.

The bullpen is still not as big of a concern as the rotation, but we are making a strong effort to improve on both fronts.
Richmond Railroaders (2073)
Gettysburg Phantoms (2074-)

 


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