Winick’s 1996 "Pippen’s Nothin But A Dog" Prognostications

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      Jeff Winick

      In previous years the calculation was straighforward – notwithstanding the unforseen injury or trade – a team’s roster was a known quantity. Obviously, this is no longer the case. Nonetheless, I bravely set out to utilize sabermetric methodology along with a huge helping of gestalt to predict the finish of the 1996 USML season. Certain assumptions should be identified:

      1. The Block’s Bombers will lead the league in all “luck” categories, i.e. unearned runs, least injuries, fewest players traded out of the league, etc. New entrants to the league should never forget that there is a reason the Bombers are also known as the Clovers.
      2. The Klein Nine will lead the league in all “bad luck” categories, i.e. most injuries, most players traded out of the league, most players having inexplicably miserable seasons, etc. The author will not comment on whether certain draft day events warrant a “god will get you” comment. I will leave that to the balance of the league membership.
      3. Mark Kerber will ultimately engage in more transactions than any other league member – making any prediction regarding the performance of his team nothing more than sheer speculation.
      4. The RipTorns and Rothmaniacs will behave enigmatically on at least 3 occasions – each. I have done my best to anticipate the unanticipatable.
      5. The Hoosier Daddies will give every impression of having a competitive team until a closer look at the standings indicates that they have once again – for undiscernable reasons – underperformed. This has been taken into account.

      Expected Standings:

      10. Joseph’s Red Hots
      9. Nukes
      8. RipTorns
      7. Block’s Bombers
      6. Rothmaniacs
      5. Angry Young Men
      4. Hoosier Daddies
      3. Marked/Market
      2. Klein Nine
      1. Win Ick Ben Ein Berliners or The “Jelly Donuts”


      Joseph’s Red Hots:

      The defending champions made a wise and calculated decision to build for the future. I like what I see here – but not for this year. No offense, no pitching, no hope. However, this is a very nice looking squad for the 97 campaign. My preseason pick for the 97 season.

      Biggest Bargain: Jason Giambi $9
      Best Prospect: Mike Sweeney $10


      With Lee Smith now pitching in Cincinnati, the Nukes will be hard pressed to make their typical late season charge. I’m still awfully hesitant to pick the Nukes this low, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the Nukes will cut bait for this season and begin the process of making the long overdue push for their first USML crown in 1997.

      Biggest Bargain: Derek Jeter $10
      Best Prospect: Raul Casanova $3


      I know these guys continue to proclaim their intention to finish in the upper division, but I just don’t see it. First of all, while Johnny Damon may in time become a great baseball player, that time is not the present. Same can be said of Snopek, Greer, Durham, Nieves, Williams, etc. As for the future, it is admittedly bright, but does anyone really think that this team wouldn’t have been stronger for both this year and next with Thomas’ and Knoblauch’s stats to date and the ability to rob Winick or Klein blind down the stretch? On the other hand, Percival is, as far as I can tell, the most valuable keeper in years.

      Biggest Bargain: Troy Percival $1
      Best Prospect: Todd Walker $1
      Best Superstar Prospect: Alex Rodriguez $10
      Silliest Trade: Thomas and Knoblauch for Damon
      Best Trade: Charlton and Hernandez for Percival

      Block’s Bombers:

      How far the mighty have fallen! How long has it been since this team was even a threat? Don’t look for them this year either. This team is a long shot to make it into the money and has NO chance for anything better than a 4th place finish. Is there hope for the future? Maybe. Recent rumblings suggest that the Bombers not only are ready to start the necessary preparations for an improved 97 campaign, but may be turning over a new leaf when it comes to proposing less than insulting trades. The author was recently astonished to hear that the Klein Nine regarded a Bombers trade proposal as “fair.” A shocking development that deserves further watching.

      Biggest Bargain: Marty Cordova $13
      Best Prospect: Darin Erstad $15
      What the Heck?: Deion Sanders?


      A better name for this team might be the Dangerfield’s. No respect – No respect at all! Well, here’s one voice suggesting that its time to take this team seriously. Were it not for its penchant for drafting players that “it likes” and a slow communications link between co-owners, this team would be taking home a little money at the end of the season. Even with these faults, the pitching looks respectible and the offense is at least middle of the pack. This team could surprise.

      Biggest Bargain: Jim Edmonds $4
      Best Prospect: Justin Thompson $1

      Angry Young Men:

      A perennial underachiever, I think we’re about to see why. Inside sources inform the author that the problem with this team was nothing that a little focus couldn’t cure. With his ascension to partnership now official I expect this team to turn it on. The smartest man in rotisserie baseball can’t help but finish in the money if he only applies himself. At present, the offense is a little soft, but the pitching is solid as a rock. No more excuses Linton – the time is now.

      Biggest Bust: Hernandez & Charlton for Percival & Rivera
      Biggest Bargain: Mike Henneman $16
      Best Prospect: Jaret Wright $1

      Hoosier Daddies:

      No question that this team used to be desperately predictable. Its fortunes would rise and fall (mostly fall) with the fortunes of the Orioles. To its credit, this team has kicked the habit – so much so that the Daddies recently turned down a trade offer involving Brady “Babe” Anderson. Add that to the fact that its current active squad contains only ONE Oriole and the point becomes incontrovertable. The offense isn’t going to set any records, but the pitching is solid enough. A strong money contender.

      Biggest Bargain: Jose Valentin $10
      Best Prospect: Rocky Coppinger $10


      The kid can play! A rotisserie rookie is about to accomplish the unprecedented feat of finishing in the money his first two seasons in the league. Not to mention the fact that he’s the first to attempt the “punt average” strategy, which shows all signs of being successful. On top of that he came into the league with the heavy baggage of being related to me. Blocker, in particular, should pay close attention to the way Marked/Market drafts pitchers – for the second year in a row he appears to have the best pitching staff in the league. What can one say about a team that has the foresight to draft this years Cy Young Winner – Juan Guzman? A perennial contender.

      Biggest Bargain: Juan Guzman $2
      Best Prospect: Ben Grieve $6

      Klein Nine:

      What can you say? If you run the numbers pre-injuries, this team is unbeatable. I mean historic numbers! But no team can overcome the loss of Mark McGwire, David Cone and Wil Cordero. Not to mention injuries to Knoblauch, Munoz, Greer, Stevens and others that are no doubt being suffered as this document is being drafted. With the Klein adeptness at trading, this team will find a way to lock in second place and noone (and in particular the author) should take this team for granted. With the right moves and a reversal of the miserable luck to date, this team could still pull it out.

      Biggest Bargain: Tommy Goodwin $6
      Best Prospect: Tim Crabtree $1


      After a near miss last year, all necessary steps will be taken to capture the flag this year. With divine intervention reducing the Klein Nine’s offense to merely terrific, and an anuerism breaking up the imposing Cone/Mussina tandem – opportunity has knocked and the Berliners have the tools to take full advantage. Plenty of offense, including Albert “Second Half” Belle and the deepest pitching in the league, including three of the five starters for the best team in the American League. The reason why the Berliners will win in 1996, however, is that they didn’t win last year. A tad of overconfidence, along with a dash of conservatism cost the Berliners their third crown. Those same mistakes will not be made again!

      Biggest Bargain: Mike James $2
      Best Prospect: Brian Giles $2

      As a final word – Pippen take note – the gauntlet has been thrown down. Bring your best shot!

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