Nov 01 2044: 2044 Recap: Bearcats demote after four seasons in IV.6 - by Eric83 on March 25th, 2020
The Brentwood Bearcats began the season with an eye on a division title after falling just four games short in 2043. But a slow start caused management to drastically shift their plans toward developing younger players, leading to a 53-107 record, which narrowly outpaced the worst record in franchise history. The Bearcats leave IV.6 having finished with losing records in 3 of 4 years.
The massive rebuild began in earnest in early May after the team stumbled to a 9-16 start in league play and 6-10 record in the Cup. The Bearcats cut six players on the day including longtime cornerstone veterans Figueroa, Leblanc and Aiello.
None of the rookies broke out offensively, but 21 year olds 3B Logan and 2B Colley as well as 22yo OF Greco showed enough promise to remain part of the future. 25yo C/OF Villareal was a strong defensive force at both positions, and led the team with 58 RBIs. Other 2nd year players Galindo and Cushman took a step back as the talent around them diminished, but will also appear to be part of the team’s long-term plan. Tougher decisions will need to be main on the glut of young outfielders, including Calderon, Consuegra, Allen, Pascual, and Zeller.
A few highlights from the season:
• 30yo OF Sonny Wall (.305/.370/.587, 14 HR) finished with the best offensive year of any player, despite almost exclusively coming off the bench against right-handed pitchers.
• Juan Mireles remains the ace of the staff (3.91 ERA, 141Ks in 182 IP, and 19/30 QS%), but hasn’t had a winning record in 4 seasons.
• Brad Sims (3.77 ERA, .229 BAA through his first 23 starts) was the only new pitcher to show promise, but he struggled with control (72 BB in 99 IP, 1.64 WHIP) and an inability to last long into games (only 2 QS in 25 starts)
Draft update: It was a second straight lackluster draft class, although there is more hope for long-term potential than last year. The team focused on high school players, and will try to develop three very raw 17 year olds, including two 14POT pitchers (1st and 2nd round picks Stockton and Worthington).
Jan 15 2044: 2043 Recap: Title push falls short during 3rd season in D4 - by Eric83 on January 11th, 2020
The Bearcats flirted with promotion for most of the season before ultimately finishing 4 games out of 1st place, with a 86-74 record. The team’s offense showed more life that it has in many years, and the team’s pitching was a bit more mixed than usual. All 5 starters were solid although rarely dominant. The backend of the bullpen was lights out though, led by veterans Damon Nielsen (2.29 ERA, .180 BAA) and Spangler (3.23 ERA) and 23-year olds Greg Nichols (13-8, 3.01 ERA) and Becerra (3.22 ERA).
A few highlights from the season:
• Comeback Player of the Year: After nearly being removed from the rotation after 2 straight seasons above a 5.50 ERA, Lahn Ly bounced back to become the team’s ace, finishing with a 10-3 record, a 3.31 ERA and 21 quality starts. Ly was one of the Bearcat’s 4 All-Stars.
• Most Dominant Player: Damon Nielsen had another dominant season. His 51 saves (in 55 opportunities) were a career high. He made his 6th straight All-Star appearance and received his 1st All-Pro honor at the D4 level.
• Waiver Pickup of the Year: Mark Pack (.279/.3.49/.512, 28 HR, 112 RBI) gave the team a slugger in the middle of the lineup that the team has lacked in recent years, elevating the play of others at the top of the order.
• Rookie of the Year: Rene Galindo earned an All-Star appearance in his first full season after a torrid start. He slowed as the year went on, but still finished with a team high 38 SB and respectable .270 batting average, while playing strong defense both at 1B and OF.
After two straight seasons of outstanding draft classes, the 2043 class was very disappointing. It seems unlikely that any of the players will become impact players. The team does have a very strong AAA class right now, and will need to make tough decisions on how to get playing time for some of them while still competing at the D4 level.
Jan 15 2043: 2042 recap: Aiello wins team's first ever Cy Young award - by Eric83 on October 26th, 2019
The Brentwood Bearcats stuck to their familiar formula – strong pitching and defense to offset a mediocre offense – to stick around IV.6 for another year. The Bearcats stumbled out of the gate (losing 9 of their first 10 games) and faced demotion concerns throughout most of the season. But a strong 17-8 finish propelled the team to 3rd place, finishing with a 76-84 record (.475).
The turning point of the season came after the team found a dominating 4-man starting rotation that carried them the rest of the year. Aiello led the league with a 3.10 ERA and won the first Cy Young award in Bearcat history. Mireles made his first All-Star appearance (24/34 quality starts, 3.64 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 9 POTG). Kong finished with a 3.52 ERA and two complete game shutouts. Finally Miura showed great development and was very strong both in 32 relief appearances and 13 starts. Miura finished with a 10-5 record and 3.78 ERA, and was awarded Rookie Pitcher of the Year award, the 3rd consecutive year a Bearcat has won it (Spangler and Mireles).
Draft update: It was another strong draft year, including 5 players 13 POT or higher. 3rd round pick Nathan Logan, a 19 year old 15 POT OF/3B, appears to be the gem of the class. 2nd round pick Kudou has already made his big league debut. 2B Colley and P Simms are a pair of promising 14 POT players, but also come with some question marks.
Other season notes:
• Best waiver claims: OF Luis Cedeno (.303/.338/.446, All-Star) and SS Marroquin (team high 22 HRs & 87 RBIs)
• Nielsen had his 4th straight 45+ save season and 5th straight All-Star appearance (46/50 save situations, 2.15 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, .042 vLHB). He has moved into 2nd all-time on the franchise saves list.
• Prospects Zeller, Kudou, Pascual and Galindo all their first taste of the big leagues. While none excelled, Zeller (.290 AVG) and Galindo (.800 in 57 AB) at least showed some promise.
• Veterans Cormier and Montoyo are expected to retire this offseason. Cormier spent 7 years on the team, mostly as a pinch hitter and DH. Montoyo finishes with 85 wins, a 4.02 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in his time with the Bearcats. His 47 POTG awards are 2nd in team history.
Looking ahead: Overall, the Bearcats improved modestly in their second season in IV.6. Next year they will look to keep the solid pitching rotation intact, while starting to bridge toward a younger generation of offensive players, with a focus on hitting for average.
Jan 15 2042: 2041 recap - by Eric83 on August 11th, 2019
After two straight dominant seasons that ended with division crowns, the Brentwood Bearcats finally succumbed to tougher competition, finishing their first ever season in League IV in 4th place. The team finished with a 67-93 (.419) record, but that includes an 8-25 stretch to close the season after management decided to get some AAA players reps in the big league. The Bearcats’ 59-68 (.465) record in mid-September was probably a better reflection of the team’s success.
As in recent years, the pitching and defense were team strengths that were dragged down by a punchless offense. The team finished with a .246 team average and near the bottom in the league in most offensive categories. The pitching rotation rounded into shape as the season progressed, finishing middle of the pack in the league while the bullpen was very strong.
While the performance on the field wasn’t much to celebrate, there was plenty to cheer about in the GM’s office after a massively successful draft season. For the first time in franchise history, all eight draft picks remained on the roster at the end of the season, including a franchise-best four 14 POT players, as well as two other 13 POT players. Two players from last year’s class (15 POT pitcher Miura, and 2B Toyoda) got their first taste of the big leagues, although both struggled.
Other season highlights:
• Best signing: Salvador Rios, who finished .274 15 HRs 64 RBIs, and solidified the shortstop position.
• Mark Spangler won Rookie Pitcher of the Year. The 25 year old unheralded prospect finished with a 7-4 record, 3.44 ERA, and .188 BAA against lefties in 32 relief appearances.
• Figueroa won his first Gold Glove at catcher, throwing out 47% of would-be base stealers, and a league-low 5 passed balls. He was also one of the most consistent offensive players on the team (18 HRs, .366 OBP, .789 OPS, 48 SBs)
• Nielsen had his 3rd straight 45+ save season, and his 4th consecutive All-Star nomination.
• Former 1st round pick Juan Mireles looked like a potential ace in his first full year as a starter, carrying a sub-4 ERA for most of the year before finishing with a 4.19 ERA with 125 Ks in 169 IP.
The team will look to build on what it learned in the season, but will face some significant challenges in 2042. These include: Overcoming clear signs of aging from some veterans (Rios, Delgado, Evans, and Cormier to name a few), the perpetual hole at 2B, the lack of offense, and integrating an overflowing pool of players in AAA into the big leagues while still remaining competitive.
Nov 04 2040: 2040 Recap: Back-to-back titles lead Bearcats to D4 for first time - by Eric83 on May 24th, 2019
Despite a late season swoon, the Brentwood Bearcats are advancing to D4 for the first time in franchise history after winning 96 games (and a franchise best 17 Cup wins).
A division title seemed all but certain in early September, as the Bearcats held a 7-game division lead over Huntington and a 79-44 record, but they stumbled down the stretch, finishing 17-20. Huntington went on a 23-12 tear to take a half game lead with two left to play. It was the first time all season that the Bearcats didn’t have at least of share of first place. However, Huntington dropped the final two games to last place Wheeling Mountaineers, and finished one game back in the final standings.
The year was a far cry from Brentwood’s only other taste of D5, when they finished with 109 losses in 2036, prompting a full rebuild. That rebuild has paid dividends as the team has developed a strong core and a deep and often dominant pitching rotation. The team’s 3.40 ERA led the league by a wide margin, and all starters posted ERAs below four.
Montoyo (14-7, 3.21 ERA, 176 K, 23/31 QS) and Aello (17-6, 3.31 ERA) earned Cy Young votes for their efforts. 27-year old Damon Nielsen again dominated as the team’s closer. His 2.54 ERA and 46 games saved earned him his third consecutive All-Star nomination, and second straight All-League honor. Former first round pick Juan Mireles won Rookie Pitcher of the Year award after accumulating 13 wins and a 2.39 ERA in relief. Team brass is salivating at the prospects of moving Mireles into a more prominent role over the next decade. With the closer role seemingly locked down for the foreseeable future, that is likely to be a promotion to front-end starter.
The offense was barely middle of the pack, but did enough to support the pitchers. Cormier (53 SBs), Figueroa (.390 OBP, 48 SB) and Evans (.305/.392/.456) set the table while veteran newcomers Campos (.280/.370/.556) and LeBlanc (25 HR, 116 RBI, 13 POTG awards) held down the middle of the lineup. The only disappointments for the team were probably the bottom third of the lineup, and the lack of production of the formerly highly touted prospect Big Dong Ahn, who was relegated to a part-time role for the first time in his career. Heading into the offseason, the team will once again look to improve both their middle infield positions, an area that they have never found a long-term prospect.
Draft update: A pair of 21-year olds out of the Asian League are looking like true keepers, and both will start next season in AAA. 1st round pick Toshiya Miura is the first 15-POT draft pick in franchise history while Akio Toyoda is a 14-POT outfielder that they hope to develop as a second baseman. 5th round pick Anthony Wallace and 8th round pick Claudio Villegas are both 17-year olds currently in Rookie ball and will likely be given a chance to develop over the next couple years as well. [EDIT: since this was originally written Toyoda has been downgraded to a 13-POT, limited his chances of making it as a 2B at higher levels. Villegas has been downgraded to a 12-POT, making him a more likely cut candidate in the near future]