The great return of Monti Bizzaro Baseball.
It’s April 1st, 2005, the start of a brand new season, the third in proffesional baseball by the home-grown team of the Daly City Montis. A sense of deja vu pervades the warming spring air.
No it’s not really deja vu – I inadvertently corrupted the original league file, but thankfully had a backup in hand from the start of the season. Unfortunately, all the stats and games were lost, but starting from scratch gives us a whole new ballgame with regards to the players involved.
As my apathy and lack of time has caused this league to now fall 2 years behind, the 2005 season will be sped through, followed by a slightly accelerated 2006 season. By 2007, we should be back on track, and running games in real-time.
So what’s in store this season for the venerable Daly City Montis?
Gone are some of the older stalwarts – aces like Fong and the heavy hitters like Tienturier and Ho have been retired to AAA, making room for a whole slew of new rookies.
Catcher: Sam Lau The old stalwart at the catcher position, Sam Lau will be the primary catcher coming into this season. He played almost full-time in the inaugural 2003 season, starting 155 of 162 games at catcher, while he was spelled by backup catcher Tina Quach for a significant amount of time last season, playing in only 110 games. He’s put up fairly typical batting averages (.264 career average) and slugging percentages (.444 career), but provides a very decent on-base percentage (.372), especially at his position. His real assett, however, has always been his defense – he’s the top-rated catcher in both fielding and throwing arm, and is significantly more capable defensively than any other player on the team.
Backup Catcher: Tina Quach Serving as the primary backup catcher, Quach joined the team in 2004, filling in a utility role at catcher and various other positions, mostly in the outfield. Although lacking in power (just 3 homeruns in 281 at bats), she hit for a .299-.373-.409 AVG-OBP-SLG in 78 games last year. Playing a wide range of positions at catcher, 1st base, and all three outfield positions, she looks to get even more playing time this year.
1st Baseman: Derek Lew After the departures of Ho and Tienturier, 2005 may be Lew’s chance to shine as the #1 power hitter on the Daly City team. His 204 combined Gap+Power rating is far and away the highest on the team (Jason Liu, a backup outfielder, is second at 159), and with Ho and Tienturier retired, he is the career leader in homeruns with 65 over the last two seasons. Lew has become the epitomy of a pure Vladimir Guerrero-type hitter, although he doesn’t exactly have the same build – his walks are absolutely minimal – a total of 19 bases on balls in 2004 on 754! at-bats. At the same time, he whiffed in only 24 trips to the plate, by far the lowest in the league. His gargantuan RBI (160 and 133 in 2003 and 2004, respectively) and run (141 and 138) totals look to decline a bit with a weaker supporting cast, and while no one doubts his amazing gap power, the ability to maintain his .310 average and 33 HR’s per 162 games might not continue with his middle-of-the-road contact (63 overall on a 100-point scale) and pure power (70) ratings.
Backup 1st Baseman/Designated Hitter: Rudy Puzon A rookie to the team, Puzon is a bit underdeveloped overall as a hitter, but has the potential to become a solid all around hitter. He’s defensively below average, and given primary 1B Derek Lew’s amazing durability (playing all 162 games each of the past two seasons), Puzon may find himself in the role of the primary designated hitter, a position which he may contest with several of the other backup players until a consistent hitter emerges.
2nd Baseman: Cristian Ortiz A defense-minded second-baseman, Ortiz was a part of the original team in 2003, splitting time between the 2B and shortstop positions. Never a fantastic hitter, Ortiz’s .251-.318-.415 AVG-OBP-SLG rate near the lowest for anyone to play significant time. With Tienturier retired to AAA however, Ortiz finally gets his chance to start full-time at second base, and will likely serve a role as a second leadoff hitter in the #9 slot to utilize his speed.
Shorstop: Henry Nghe At 27 years old, a past-his-prime grandfather in the organization, Nghe is primed to begin his season as the starting shorstop. He played in only three games during the 2004 season, amassing 3 hits out of 11 at bats. Nghe has, or had, good potential with regards to contact and gap power (75 and 80 potential talent ratings, respectively) – time will tell whether he’s too old to develop anymore as a hitter.
3rd Baseman: Joey Wong Another member of the original cast, Wong has been one of the premeire hitters of the game, with good power numbers and some of the best contact ability anywhere. His career line of .370-.430-.588 shouldn’t need anymore explanation, and with a 129 contact rating (with 145 as a potential talent), Wong looks to be the main run-driver in the cleanup position at #4, as well as a threat to hit .400 on the season.
Backup 3rd Baseman: Joanna Maung Playing backup to possibly the best third baseman in the game doesn’t afford many opportunities – Maung has played in 89 games over the past two seasons, in a variety of odd-job positions, mostly at designated hitter becuase of her defensive liabilities but occasionally in the outfield or even catcher when there has been a very desperate need. More often that not, though, she’s called in as a pinch-hit specialist, and she’s exceedingly excelled in that role. Despite ratings that would indicate an abysmal hitter (Contact: 57, Gap Power: 37, Pure Power: 31, Batting Eye: 70, Avoiding K’s: 60), her career line is a very respectable .275-.372-.356, with top numbers where it counts the most for a PH: OBP. Until her batting abilities develop, she’ll likely take a backup/utility role for most of this season and serve mostly as a pinch hit specialist when the most dire games are on the line.
Leftfielder: Jonathan Chee An all-around utility player, Jonathan “The Cheet” Chee looks to settle this year in his position in leftfield, possibly with the occasional stint as emergency backup catcher. Chee’s numbers haven’t been spectacular – for the msot part he’s a decent hitter with a knack for getting on base, a fact helped by the fact that Chee has led the league in hit-by-pitch ratio for both of the past two seasons. Almost single-handedly, The Cheet has turned this obscure phenomenon into something worthy of stat-tracking, and 2005 will be the first year that hit-by-pitches are actually counted.
Centerfielder: Aubrey Cubilo The all-star centerfielder, Cubilo can do it all, from being one of the best defensive centerfielders in the game, to swiping bases at an amazing rate as the speediest woman on the basepaths. Her rookie year was cut short by a season-ending injury, but she came back with a vengeance in 2004, racking up 123 runs (and 83 RBIs on her own) at the top of a powerful lineup, while leading the league with 67 steals. Although she hits for average extremely well, her .299 career average is followed by a disappointing .319 OBP for a leadoff hitter. Nevertheless, her speed alone makes her the ideal candidate, and her defense makes her indispensable in centerfield, so she’ll start the season as the leadoff hitter for Daly City.
Rightfielder: Francis Chen Coming in strong at the end of the 2004 season, Francis Chen put out tantalizing totals for the third of a season: 42 games, 162 at-bats, with 13 HR’s – a .241-.268-.537 final line. With the potential to become perhaps the best power hitter on the team, Chen has to overcome his struggles with making contact with the ball. Chen is perhaps the starter with the most precarius hold on his job – although tougher than left field, several backup outfielders are on the roster and waiting in his wings to take the job, and Chen will need to make a strong, or even explosive start, if he’s to avoid getting benched early on.
Backup Outfielder: Tiffany Ho Little is known about the young 15-year-old rookie, except that she has no relation to the massive power slugger Norman. Early reports have evaluated a good conact potential, but with no experience at any level (not even in the minor leagues), it looks as if her role will be limited until she establishes herself on the field.
Backup Outfielder: Jason Liu Liu played a strong season in 2004, playing 118 games and putting up very good numbers, especially in the power categories – 39 doubles and 39 homeruns in 433 at bats, for a .323-.409-.702 final line. Despite his performance, he’s been relegated back to a backup role, with Francis Chen getting the nod in rightfield in hopes that he’s able to achieve his enormous power potential and develop his other abilities.
While not nearly as strong as the old Lew-Tienturier-Ho-Wong combo that dominated the league over the past two years, the new lineup looks extremely competitive, with power hitters Derek Lew and Joey Wong anchoring the lineup, and front end support coming from a very speedy Aubrey Cubilo, and potentially very good on-base numbers coming from Sam Lau, Tina Quach, and Jonathan Chee. Rather than being able to hammer away at opponents though, this season Daly City looks to manufacture what runs it can, and rely on perhaps the strongest pitching staff ever assembled to keep the scores low.
#1 Starting Pitcher: Nathan Yan The ace that’s anchored the team, Yan looks to improve even further on his gaudy pitching numbers. He’s led the league in nearly every meaningful category each of the past two seasons, with astounding numbers like a career 1.33 ERA and 0.72 WHIP, and an out-of-this-era 43 complete games (and 21 shutouts) in 54 starts. He’s won 30 games each of the past two seasons, and has amassed huge strikeout numbers – the 2005 season against a fresh league of hitters looks to be a record-setting year.
#2 Starting Pitcher: Josiah Leong Having pulled an Eric Gagne starter-to-closer transitioin the past two years, the inconsistent Josiah Leong returns to the rotation and pulls a return-to-starter John Smoltz. Josiah has been plagued by a lack of control the past two seasons – he has 112 walks in 167 1/3 innings, and because of that he’s been a bit of a loose cannon – in 2003 he had a 4.21 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP and pitched only 109 innings, getting the quick hook in a lot of games. He did slightly better in his second year as the team’s closer, racking up a precarious 40 saves, but actually underutilized at the end of the season as he was moved to a setup role, with the more dependable and former closer Absalon filling in at season’s end. His return to the rotation should be one to watch – Leong certainly has the stuff to become an ace, if his control problems ever get solved.
#3 Starting Pitcher: Terrence Zhao After a decent campaign in the first 2003 season – 4.14 ERA and 1.37 WHIP, but with a consistency that won 14 games (losing 7) in only 24 starts, Zhao had a breakout year in 2004, attaining a 2.94 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP in becoming one of the top starters in the game. A solid starter at the #3 position, his continued development would give Daly City two bona-fide aces, and potentially a third if Leong gets a handle on his control problems.
#4 Starting Pitcher: Samantha Chin The first of the rookie starter duo in the rotation, Chin is a decently-developed starter with quite a high ceiling – she can throw high 99mph heat, and with time could potentially become an ace pitcher.
#5 Starting Pitcher: Sean Wade The second of the rookie starters, Wade is a bit more of a conservative pitcher – he throws in the low 90’s, doesn’t have too much dazzle, but prides himself in control and consistency. WIth a 79 control rating (and 100 potential talent), he’s already got the second-best control on the team behind ace Nathan Yan, and should provide quality starts at the back end of the rotation.
#6 Starting Pitcher: Miguel Pardo Pardo the enigma has been up and down over the last two seasons. In his first season, over 19 starts he amassed a horrendous 4.79 ERA and a 1.61 WHIP, yet somehow eeked out a 10-3 win-loss record. His 2004 season, with 9 starts, took a nosedive, further deepening to a horrendous 6.65 ERA and 1.98 WHIP, although he somehow managed to survive with a 3-4 record. While consistently horrible, Pardo seems to magically pull out blazing performances out of nowhere, only to revert back to his softball-tossing form the very next start. He’s on the very back end of the rotation, and might end up sharing the spot with long reliever Alfred Vong.
Mopup Reliever: Helen Yamamoto A rookie to the team, Yamamoto comes in with barely above minor league statistics. She takes on the role of mopup, a safety role for large leads or heavy deficits, which might give her time to gain experience and develop.
Middle Reliever: Angel Poon The biggest workhorse of the bullpen, Poon has racked up 130 2/3 innings over the past two years, which shows approxamitely the maximum extent of use of the bullpen with a rotation as strong as Daly City’s. Poon had a decent year in her rookie 2003 season, with a 4.15 ERA, but played very well in the setup role the next year, achieving a 2.88 ERA in 2004 and notching 4 long saves of her own. The numbers might be a bit deceiving however – in the 2004 season her WHIP remained at the same relatively high 1.14 level as her 2003 season, indicating there may have been more than a little bit of luck involved. She finds herself as the primary middle reliever this season, although with a possibly even more talented rotation and more crowded bullpen, appearances may be hard to come by.
Middle Reliever: Katie Clayton One of the most underdeveloped pitchers, and possibly the worst pitcher in Daly City’s short history, Clayton is still with the club in hopes of her enormous (although unfulfilled) potential. She’s amassed ERA’s of 9.00 both of the past two seasons (pitching 43 and 12 innings), with a career ERA of 1.96, although has amazing not recorded a loss in her 40 appearances. She plays a secondary middle relief role, but may come in for mopup more often.
Long Reliever: Alred Vong A newcomer to the team, Alfred Vong has the makings of a very solid starter, but with the 6th rotation spot filled by Miguel Pardo, will likely take his appearances in long relief of an ailing starting pitcher to establish himself.
Setup reliever: Alvina Chu Coming in late in the 2004 season, Alvina Chu dazzled with a 2.58 ERA and 1.04 WHIP, along with 41 K’s in her 38 1/3 innings. She ascends to the setup role this year, possibly rated as the best reliever that Daly City has.
Closer: Zubeda Khan The Young Khan, a rookie, takes on the tumultuous Daly City closer role, which has shifted hands constantly over the past two seasons – she’ll be the team’s 3rd closer in as many years. The knuckleball-throwing rookie brings with her good control and decent stuff, but time will tell if she has the poise to become a true closer.