Pippin the Dog’s 1997 USML Projections

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      Andy Klein

      Pippin’s FAQ

      Q: Who the hell is Pippin, and why does she make Rotisserie baseball predictions?

      A: Pippin is Andy’s dog. To learn why Pippin is known as the “Nostradamus of Rotisserie Baseball,” go to Pippin’s Perch on the USML homepage and read the “History” sections that accompany Pippin’s prior projections.

      Q: Why don’t you save me the time and just reprint the History section here.

      A: Because reprints of the History section bug Kerber. And Pippin doesn’t want to listen to Kerber’s bitching and moaning this year.

      Q: Why didn’t Pippin issue projections last year?

      A: Because Pippin normally taps the full reserve of USML good will, and good will was at a premium after last April’s Maligned Maneuvers. Now, however, the league seems in sufficiently good
      spirits to allow Pippin to go about her usual business of pissing people off.

      Q: How did Pippin fare the last time she issued projections in 1995?

      A: Pretty damn well. In particular, Pippin correctly debunked Benson-driven conventional wisdom (“CW”) on several key points. For example, CW had the Riptorns finishing near the bottom of the pack in their USML debut season. Pippin disagreed and picked the ‘Torns to finish in the money. Pippin was right. CW also had the 1995 Berliners winning it all. Pippin said they
      wouldn’t. They didn’t. Finally, CW had Emily’s Rothmaniacs in the money. Pippin correctly scoffed.

      Q: When is Pippin going to get to this years’ projections already?

      A: She thought you’d never ask …

      The Projections

      Winick Division

      • WINICK’S BROTHER (a/k/a “Marked to the Market”): Pippin admires Brother Winick’s “Batting Average-Be-Damned” strategy. Fielder, Tettleton, Hunter, et al. won’t remind anyone of Tony Gwynn, but they will provide plenty of dingers and steals. On the other hand, Pippin worries about the Market’s rotation, which gets awfully thin after Nagy and Guzman. In fact, the rotation might get thin beginning with Nagy and Guzman. The result? The Market is strong. But not strong enough. Predicted Overall Finish: Second Place.
      • WINICK’S (FORMER) FRIENDS (a/k/a “The Riptorns”): Curse, Shmurse. The reason the ‘Torns won’t win is because they made stupid decisions. Shannon Stewart at $15? Darren Erstadt at $28? And Glendon Rusch? No team has ever won after buying a player named “Glendon.” Despite these blunders, the ‘Torns did retain enough former Klein Nine players (Garciaparra, Damon, Greer, Mussina) to compete. And, if Percival can adjust to decaf, who knows — the ‘Torns might yet make a run at the crown. Predicted Overall Finish: Third Place.
      • WINICK (a/k/a “Winick’s Berliners”): It’s a good thing that Jeff can use his trial as an excuse. What else could possibly explain Rudy Pemberton at $18? Beyond Pemberton, the Berliner offense is riddled with empty slots (Levis, Webster, Mack, Alicea). And the pitching staff has some shaky members (McDowell and Hershiser). But, as usual, the rest of the league must hold its breath waiting to see where Winick will deal his “prospects.” Pippin can’t help but wonder: Is Trot Nixon for Roberto Alomar in the league’s future? The USML shudders at the thought. Predicted Overall Finish: Fifth Place.
      • WINICK-O-PHILE (a/k/a “Block’s Bombers”): After several years of unsuccessfully mimicking Winick’s every move, the Bombers developed a unique strategy of retaining young, unproven pitchers. Pippin’s cut? Rosado — maybe. Prieto — possibly. Adams, Rodriguez, Haney, and D’Amico — not a snowball’s chance in hell. When one combines this mediocre staff with a part-time offense (Loretta, Hammonds, Mieske, Greene, et al.), the outlook is grim. Blocker’s only hope? His penchant for wheeling-and-dealing moves him up quickly! (For those of you new to the league, the previous sentence was a joke.) Predicted Overall Finish: Seventh Place.
      • WINICK’S ASSOCIATE (a/k/a “The Gimps”): quot;Tony Clark and Billy Taylor for Heathcliff Slocumb and Jamie Moyer.” With the utterance of this phrase, the Gimps transformed from a contender to simply a team with Emily’s old roster. Of course, the Gimps weren’t helped by the fact that Moyer promptly got hurt. But drafting 16 pitchers in the rotation draft seems an excessive response. Pippin’s advice for a brighter future? LOCK YOUR DOOR WHEN WINICK COMES DOWN THE HALL! Predicted Overall Finish: Eleventh Place.

      Non-Winick Division

      • HOOSIER DADDIES: For the Hoosier Daddies’ sake, Gammons’ brother ought to get married more often. After a night of revelry in Indianapolis, Rick drove to Chicago on Draft Day and assembled a winner. The Daddies have up-and-comers (Higginson, Becker, Trammell, and Dickson), players in their prime (Griffey, Palmer, and T.Martinez), and some old dudes who can still play (Molitor and Finley). Even more impressive, the Daddies have only one Oriole (Scott Erickson) on their entire 40-man roster. My, how times have changed. If Todd Jones can get just a handful of saves, Pippin thinks this could be the year for Gammons. Predicted Overall Finish: First Place.
      • THE KLEIN NINE: After being burned by the likes of Mussina, Cone,and Abbott in 1996, the 1997 Nine returned to its time-tested strategy of ignoring pitching. The result is an offense so strong, it’s scary. On the other hand, the pitching staff might be even scarier. Nonetheless, Pippin remains optimistic. If the shaky rotation (D.Martinez, Belcher, Pavlik, et al.) at least posts some wins, the Nine will finish in the money. And if the Nine gets lucky with interior pitching numbers, yet another championship flag might fly in Nine-land. Projected Overall Finish: Fourth Place.
      • ANGRY YOUNG MEN: No owner has ever entered the USML with more fanfare than Doug Shabelman. “An experienced roto player,” Andy Klein told the league. “A regular Jerry Magurie.” So what does Shabelman do? He immediately fritters away all of his excess value through dubious long-term contracts (Gonzales and Jaha) and silly retentions (R.Hernandez at $40). On the other hand, the Men used their remaining $55 wisely. The purchase of Randy Johnson looks solid, and Pippin likes Burnitz at $3. If the Men had handled their retention better, they might’ve been a contender. But, for now, it’s probably “Wait ’til Next Year” for the Angry Young Men. Projected Overall Finish: Sixth Place.
      • JOSEPH’S MIGHTY RED HOTS: Pippin always enjoys analyzing the Red Hots’ draft strategies. Veteran USML owners, for example, will recall the Red Hots’ ill-fated “Laptop Plan.” They might also remember the more successful “Microscopic-Print-Paper and Buy-All-The-Old-Guys” approach. And then there was last year’s “Fill-The-Roster-With-Catchers” scheme. This year, Rich tried the “Chat with Kerber and Leave Draft Dollars on the Table” ploy. Pippin doesn’t like the results. Ruben Rivera? Albie Lopez? Bartolo Colon? Mike Sweeney? Maybe next year. Or the year after that. But not for 1997. Projected Overall Finish: Eighth Place.
      • THE FLAMING BRATS: While most rotisserie owners spend draft day scouring back issues of Baseball Weekly, Flaming Brats’ co-owner John Fruit pored over the latest issue of Barrons. Perhaps Louis Rukheyser knows something that John Hunt doesn’t. Or perhaps Mr. Fruit was trying to find a way to pay his entry fee. Either way, the Brats face an uphill battle in their first USML season. In many respects, Pippin feels the Brats did OK, given their lack of retained players. On the other hand, Pippin feels that Brats’ co-owner Jeff Cohen might have been a tad too
        optimistic about his beloved Brewers — the Brats’ active roster has five Brew Crew members (Vina, Newfield, Williams, Fetters, and McAndrews), while the reserve roster has three more (Banks, De Los Santos, and Miranda). The “favorite team” strategy has not been a successful one in the USML (see, e.g., Rothman-Detroit, Gammons-Baltimore), and Pippin sees no reason why things will change this year. Projected Overall Finish: Ninth Place.
      • NUKES: By once again paying homage to John Benson, Kerber compiled a roster that looks good to the touts, but looks dismal to Pippin. First, the Nukes’ roster is loaded with guys who are — or will be — hurt (W.Clark, O.Miller, Cordero, Carr). Next, the Nukes’ roster has a bunch of guys who are beloved by the gurus, but unlikely to cut it in real life (S.Green, Giles, Benitez, and Trombley). Finally, the Nukes sunk $66 into two questionable pitchers (Cone and Mesa). If Cone and Mesa perform, the Nukes might rise to the middle of the pack. But if one or both go south, it’s 25-point city for Kerbs. Projected Overall Finish: Tenth Place.
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