Sunday, October 11, 2009


Having formally been eliminated from the 2009 pennant chase, the expansion Friars released a soul-searching evaluation of how things have gone. Courtesy of Brother Johann, here it is:

"Blessings and peace be to all you. We thank you for providing us the sort of spirited competition that brings out the best in all of us. As scripture says, 'iron sharpeneth iron.'

As we look back on this season, we have some definite pluses. Ben Zobrist (or as we like to call him, 'Zorilla') emerged as a regular. His versatility has been a thing to behold. We definitely agree with our ballclub, which has named Ben our team MVP. To celebrate, we will be holding 'Ben Zobrist Night' in the near future, and perhaps allow Ben to play multiple positions as an exciting enticement to our appreciative fans."

"We are also please with the development of Shin-Soo Choo, who recently became the first Korean-born major-league player to have a 20-20 season. As we see it, 'Big League Choo' (as we like to call him) will be the club's regular RF in 2010, and we look forward to seeing how he develops. We have received assurances from the South Korean government that Mr. Choo's military obligations will not interfere with his development.

"We believe that, if you can excuse the expression, that our drafting Justin Verlander in this year's draft was a steal. His AL-leading wins and strikeouts give us a staff ace that we can build around in the 2010 season."

"Finally, our biggest (and, we hope, best) move was doubtless the acquisition of Carlos Quentin in a trade with Los Angeles. Quentin, or (as we like to call him) 'Qu-perman', shows great potential as a run producer. A three-sport star in high school, Quentin is also an outstanding student of the game, as befits a Stanford grad. We think his big arm will play well in LF for the next few seasons to come. If we are right, Quentin is a 30-HR, 120-RBI machine waiting to happen, not the injury-slowed player we saw in 2009."

"Overall, our lineup is much improved. We had a pair of 20-HR hitters when the season began, and now we arguably have 5-6. We had no .300 hitters; now we have at least two, and we have also acquired four prospects and two former phenoms to build on for next year. Our rebuilt bullpen of Sherrill, Lyons and Francisco (while unheralded) was solid in the second half."


"But, we must be accountable for our decisions that did not work out, if we are to be considered good stewards. I am afraid that Hank Blalock's power was largely negated by his free-swinging ways. Lyle Overbay was perhaps asked too much of in the run production department, as well, and Cesar Izturis was hurt so much he couldn't even keep the SS seat warm for 'The Cuban Missile' (Alexei Ramirez). These players, sadly, are unlikely to return to the Friars next season."

"Also sad: the failure to produce a real bonafide regular catcher. St. Francis could only shuffle in journeymen and prospects who weren't ready. RHP Gavin Floyd regressed to his pre-2008 form, and the club was forced to deal RHP Edwin Jackson in the Quentin deal. There is a huge dropoff in the rotation after Mr. Verlander, a general lack of pitching depth and bench strength, all of which must be seriously upgraded if the club is to contend."

"Perhaps the saddest of all things was to see so little interest in veteran LHP Randy Johnson and Jamie Moyer, who were being counted on as bargaining chips to contending clubs in the second half but who elicited little interest. This was clearly the biggest strategic blunder of our office, and we will think twice before adding more aging veterans to our roster."

Sunday, July 5, 2009


At home, alone on a Sunday evening, a fantasy baseball Commish takes note of what is happening in 'reality' with the MLB All-Star Game. The rosters, please:


Heath Bell(notes), Worceseter

Chad Billingsley(notes), Darwin

Jonathan Broxton(notes), Pottsylvania

Matt Cain(notes), Yuma

Francisco Cordero(notes), Fresno

Dan Haren(notes), Fresno

Josh Johnson(notes), Darwin

Ted Lilly(notes), Black Mesa

Tim Lincecum(notes), Frostbite Falls

Francisco Rodriguez(notes), Brooklyn

Johan Santana(notes), Casselton

Mark Buehrle(notes), Pottsylvania

Josh Beckett(notes), Fresno

Brian Fuentes(notes), Pottsylvania

Zack Greinke(notes), Darwin

Roy Halladay(notes), Yuma

Felix Hernandez(notes), Frostbite Falls

Edwin Jackson(notes), St. Francis

Joe Nathan(notes), Frostbite Falls

Jonathan Papelbon(notes), Black Mesa

Mariano Rivera(notes), Las Vegas

Justin Verlander(notes), St. Francis

Tim Wakefield(notes), Darwin


Victor Martinez(notes), Frostbite Falls

Joe Mauer(notes), Worcester

Brian McCann(notes), Brooklyn

Yadier Molina(notes), Darwin


Aaron Hill(notes), Texas

Derek Jeter(notes), Worcester

Evan Longoria(notes), Frostbite Falls

Justin Morneau(notes), Black Mesa

Dustin Pedroia(notes), Black Mesa

Mark Teixeira(notes), Worcester

Kevin Youkilis(notes), Black Mesa

Michael Young(notes), Frostbite Falls

Ben Zobrist(notes), St. Francis

Prince Fielder(notes), Las Vegas

Adrian Gonzalez(notes), Fresno

Ryan Howard(notes), Brooklyn

Orlando Hudson(notes), Casselton

Albert Pujols(notes), Frostbite Falls

Hanley Ramirez(notes), Worcester

Freddy Sanchez(notes), Fresno

Miguel Tejada(notes), Texas

Chase Utley(notes), Brooklyn

David Wright(notes), Fresno

Ryan Zimmerman(notes), Yuma


Jason Bay(notes), Worcester

Carl Crawford(notes), Worcester

Curtis Granderson(notes), Fresno

Josh Hamilton(notes), Darwin

Torii Hunter(notes), LA Flyers

Adam Jones(notes), Yuma

Ichiro Suzuki(notes), Texas

Carlos Beltran(notes), Frostbite Falls

Ryan Braun, Yuma

Brad Hawpe(notes), Worcester

Raul Ibanez(notes), Black Mesa

Hunter Pence(notes), Las Vegas

Justin Upton(notes), Brooklyn

Worcester has the most selections of any BARB team to this year's MLB All-Star Game. And they have the winningest record in BARB, so far. Coincidence? The entire Eliminators starting outfield will make the squad! Black Mesa has six selections, but only one is a starting pitcher, reflecting their team's current need. Darwin, by contrast, has four starters on the MLB All-Star rosters. Los Angeles, sadly, has none at present though Mark Reynolds may be added as an alternate. The full breakdown of BARB teams by All-Star selection:

Worcester 8

Frostbite Falls 7

Fresno 7

Black Mesa 6

Darwin 6

Brooklyn 5

Yuma 5

Pottsylvania 3

Casselton 3

St. Francis 3

Las Vegas 3

Texas 3

Los Angeles 0*


The St. Francis Friars, a 2009 expansion team, have already cracked MLB's All-Star Game:

RHP Edwin Jackson
RHP Justin Verlander

IF/OF Ben Zobrist

( and on the bubble: 3B/C Brandon Inge)

Friday, July 3, 2009


Brother Johann, public spokesperson for the Concordian Order's baseball operations, made a brief public appearance today to announce that a trade had been brokered between the St. Francis Friars and the West-leading Darwin Finches.

"Apparently," said an ominous Brother Johann, "there has been some discord in our clubhouse. Individuals who have forgotten that they are supposed to be team players are unhappy with their playing time. To help ease this, ah, burden on our spirits, we regretfully announce that outfielder Ryan Paul Freel has been traded to the Darwin Finches. We hope that this will ease the feelings of contention on the club, and help keep Mr. Freel from repeating some of his past errors in judgement. We wish him well in his future endeavors, but we must stress that the organization is committed to virtue, and there is no virtue in putting your selfish interest ahead of your teammates. As it is written, "For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice." (James 3:16)

"We are happy," continued a more ebullient monk, "to note that we have received relief pitcher Brandon Lyon in exchange for Mr. Freel's contract, and in the process we have retained nearly $1.5 million in savings that can be applied to our organization's player development. We are certainly in need of more pitching due to situations with Frank Francisco, Yusmeiro Petit and Juan Salas. Mr. Lyon has had some success in the past, particularly when he toiled for the Melkonian Organization.....we can't remember their team's name for some reason, just the Melkonian Organization. We hope that Mr. Lyon can recapture his past form with the Friars!"

"In the meantime," continued the Head Dominican, "may you know the peace that passes all understanding. Go Friars!"

* OK, if you don't get that, you just need to broaden your horizons and listen to HUNT-tree music. Real HUNT-tree, not that phony 'turbo tonk' the country stations spend a lot of time playing these days.

* OK, if you don't get that, you just need to broaden your horizons and listen to HUNT-tree music. Real HUNT-tree, not that phony 'turbo tonk' the country stations spend a lot of time playing these days.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Chase Utley, in 276 PA: .300, 15 HR, 45 RBI

Ben Zobrist, in 220 PA (56 less than Utley): .301, 15 HR, 42 RBI

In fact, among all 2B in MLB, Zobrist is 6th in hitting, 9th in runs scored, 1st in triples, in a three-way tie for 2nd in HR, and fifth in RBI....and in practically every case, all of the guys in front of him have more plate appearances....usually about two weeks worth! Aaron Hill...314! Ian Kinsler...301! Robinson Cano....286!

Ben Zobrist should be in the All-Star Game!

Saturday, June 6, 2009




A hooded figure approaches. His eyes are hidden, but the tracks of tears are visible on his cheeks, and his jowls shake with ill-disguised anger. He speaks!

"Yes, my friends, it is I, Brother Johann. I speak for the anointed group of ballplayers known as the St. Francis Friars. We are sorely tried by the failure of Freddy Garcia to pitch at a major-league level. He seems far more interested in hanging out with people of bad repute and smoking the sacred herb."

"Therefore," the hooded monk continued, "We are granting Garcia his release and eating the remaining $400,000 of his contract! Let that be his reward. As it is written, 'The Lord will roll you up tightly like a ball and throw you into a large country. There you will die and there your splendid chariots will remain— you disgrace to your master's house! (Isa. 22:18)

The monk pulled a handkerchief out of his cloak and dabbed at his face. "What provokes us even further," Brother Johann continued, "is the great good that young man could've provided his brothers in the St. Francis clubhouse. For, Randy Johnson and Jamie Moyer were not exactly born yesterday, though they are still quality pitchers. As it is written, 'They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green.' (Ps. 92:14) Yet they can not be expected to go seven innings every time. Another veteran starter, but not so ancient as the hills, would've been very welcome. As it is written, the wise man 'instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.' (Matt. 13:52)

"But," and here the friar appeared truly anguished and his voice cracked, "What treasures have we poor servants? For Juan Salas, we have been informed, has been released from his debt to his masters in much the same way that the Metropolitans disposed of Garcia. We have been informed by the Commissioner's Office that if neither is with a major-league club within 7 days of being released, then they are ineligible for BARB play! This is a cruel blow. We simply do not have enough pitching. We may have to ask some of our regular players to throw innings at this rate."

"So," the friar ended piteously, "we must throw ourselves on the mercy of our brother GM's. For, we do not think that Tony Sipp is completely recovered from Tommy John surgery, nor do we think that Jason Vargas is 'tuned up' for regular duty. But, as it is written, 'we must cast our bread upon the waters, and after many days we will find it again.' (Eccl. 11:1)

Friday, April 24, 2009


Chris Young, who spent all of the 2008 season languishing in the minors, became the first player taken in the free agency portion of the 2009 off-season.

Brother Johann, the Club operations director, expressed his approval. "Chris is short for Christopher," the Head Friar noted, "and St. Christopher is well-known as the patron saint of travelers. Chris Young is a well-traveled young man already, but we hope that in the future all of his wondering will be in our club's spacious outfield. We feel blessed to have added his talents to our club, and we do not anticipate that he will spend time in the minors, even though he has been signed as such. He is simply ready to play regularly. His selection rights what we feel is a wrong, because BARB owners need to be able to appreciate a player with his power, grace and speed."

Comparing 'Chrises':
compared with
St. Christopher:

Friday, April 10, 2009



The St. Francis Friars, the 2009 expansion team entry into BARB, has introduced its chief operating officer and signaled a different operational model for the Friars as compared with other franchises. That officer, Brother Johann, is a Friar in the recently-convened Concordian Order, an offshoot of the Dominican order of friars influenced by the thought of Albertus Magnus. While the franchise will employ many regular baseball people, and the GM remains the elusive Scott Hatfield, the day-to-day operations of the franchise will take its lead from the order, which emphasizes charity, education and open-mindedness.

"As Paul said," Brother Johann quoted, "charity bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and bears all things. We have the greatest of gifts in charity, by which I mean the sort of love that the Creator bears for all of creation. A baseball field is like a clearing in a vast wood, another vision of Eden. We view this task as symbolic of our calling to pursue union with the Creator, and restore what was obscured in the Fall."

As veteran baseball scribes scratched their heads (and more than a few turned their Blackberries or I-Phones to wikipedia), Brother Johann introduced the players, castoff from their 2007 BARB teams, that make up the nucleus of this year's expansion team:

C Ronnie Paulino
C/IF Brandon Inge

IF Felipe Lopez
IF Nick Punto
SS Cesar Izturis
IF/OF Ryan Freel
IF/OF Casey Blake
IF/OF Ben Zobrist
OF Johnny Damon

RHP Kyle Davies
RHP Gavin Floyd
RHP Frank Francisco
RHP Freddy Garcia
RHP Edwin Jackson
RHP Yusmeiro Petit
RHP Chris Ray
RHP Juan Salas

LHP Jamie Moyer
LHP George Sherrill
LHP Jason Vargas

"With these young men, we will make our stand and do the work we have been called to do," concluded Brother Johann, with obvious satisfaction.