— Official ULB (@ULB_Commish) December 30, 2014
The GCL is just getting into full swing. Here’s a preseason prediction from GCL Commissioner Michael Branda that has the ULB team finishing in first place.
1st Place: ULB
Byers & Roldan will need to play like MVP candidates if I am going to be right about this 1st place prediction. ULB also has three guys with 25+ SB ability which includes Duran who can steal 35+, if he can get on base. That will be the issue for this offense. They lack in OBP ability, and will need to maximize their opportunities when they have them. Their speed will help a ton.
Starting Pitching: B-
Leon Bryant gives ULB an ace every 5th start, always a plus. I love the fact he not only has K ability but he doesn’t give up BB almost at all. Rivera & Malet compliment Bryant very nicely to give them a solid 1-3 rotation. Their 4-5 are not very good to be honest, which will force Bryant to be a true stopper.
Relief Pitching: A+
The best bullpen in the OOTPGCL. They do not give up many HR, and they can dominant from middle relief to closer. When you have that type of ability in this league, you should have success. The problem? Bullpens can be unpredictable – they need the ball with a lead which leans heavily on the offense. But, if they get the ball with a lead, game over.
Wins Give or Take 5: 89
Jersey City Giants GM Ryan Huff was selected earlier this season to guide Team ULB in the OOTP Grand Championship League. Last season, Team ULB managed to make the playoffs, but lost in the First Round of the Playoffs. The Grand Championship League began earlier this year, and used OOTP13 to sim a full season of baseball with many different leagues being represented by one of that league’s members. Last season, it was Scott Jeffries. Now, it’s Huff chance to shine. This season, the GCL is playing using the settings for 1985. Huff contends that he’s feels he has an edge with this era, and the stakes have been raised from the previous GCL. This season, the winning league will be gifted with free copies of the upcoming OOTP15.
ULB: Now that the draft is over, how are you feeling about the ULB team in the Grand Championship League?
RH: I’ll quote the great Herm Edwards, “you play the game to win.” Anything less is than a championship is unsatisfactory.
ULB: Of the players you drafted, who do you think was your best pick in the draft?
RH: Eleventh round pick, Eduardo ‘Spoon’ Roldán. He was slotted as a third baseman but his defense is lacking there which is why he may have been overlooked. I drafted him with the intention of playing him in right field where his defensive skills are good. If he can produce 100 RBI’s again I believe I got a steal.
ULB: Your long standing rival, Scott Jeffries, guided the ULB team to the Playoffs in the inaugural season of the GCL, but didn’t get the job done in the postseason. Having faced Scott in multiple leagues like the ULB, FFL, VL, CL, RRL, etc etc, going back over a decade, do you feel a need do better than he did just to shove it in his face?
RH: The GCL is playing in a era where I have had very good success. My championships in the pre juice era speak for themselves. I believe I have an advantage here.
ULB: Any predictions for the season to come?
RH: I think we will be fighting for first place all season long but have three highly talented pitchers for a deep playoff run at the very least. The GCL did not have any hitters that were worthy of early round picks in my mind. I’m sticking to the strategy pitching and defense wins championships. I mixed in players with high base running skills, leadership ability, and extremely high work ethic/intelligence with hope that will push us to the top.
ULB: The Jersey City Giants 2006 season might be over already, but the ULB’s 2014 team is just getting started. The ULB started in 1996, and this year the Grand Championship League is using the settings from 1985 to run the league. What would you say are the major differences in the Eras?
RH: Like I said earlier, anything pre juice era I am extremely confident in. Pitching, pitching, pitching…
Arriving at Third Base, we had a bit of a problem, as we had a couple players we could have selected and called it a day. The ‘hot seat’ of the baseball diamond has seen some great players man the position in ULB history. Jim Thome played a couple of his early seasons at the position. It came down to a trifecta of Jamie Taylor, Aubrey Huff and…
Third Base: Ray Rice (Jersey City Giants 1997-2004)
Now for Third Base, we perhaps have an unsung hero in Jersey City’s Ray Rice. His stats place him slightly higher than Jamie Taylor on our list, and the only player with a higher VORP (Value Over Replacement Player) is Las Vegas’ Aubrey Huff. Huff didn’t debut until 2001 however, so we’ve gone with Rice as our selection for Third Base. Rice is also a three time All Star and led the league is On Base Percentage in 2000. He amassed 126 home runs and 488 runs batted in from 1997-2004. He also drew more walks (533) than strike outs (482). And he’s a two time Union Cup Champion as a member of the Giants. Defensively, Rice started 575 of his games as a Third Baseman, and while he will never be known as a Fielding Bible Quality 3B (-20.7 ZR) he made up for it with his bat.* Also without Ray Rice’s clutch RBI single in the one game playoff against the New Orleans Gold Sox in 1999, the Giants might not have won the 1999 Union Cup.
We could go on about why we selected Ray Rice, but we’ll leave it up to Jersey City Giants GM Ryan Huff to make the case for him:
“Rice was drafted in the in the eighty fifth round of the ULB inaugural draft. He was nothing more than a 21 year old utility infielder prospect at the time. Rice spent 1995 between AA and AAA while playing subpar and having minimal impact but 1996 was a completely different story. Something just clicked for Rice as many scouts raved about his intangibles and intelligence for the game. Rice always knew what to do in any given situation one Jersey City scout stated. Rice finished 1996 in AAA for the Newark Bison’s. He won two Player of the Week Awards, four Batter of the Month Awards, and the Morgan Burkhart MVP Award. Not to mention he won the Frontier League Series as a Newark Bison. The final stat line for Rice’s MVP season was a .303 BA, 41 HR’s, 141 RBI’s (the numbers that the voters count).”
And that’s before he even made the Big Leagues. How about some ULB action?
“After spending a few months of the 1997 season in AAA Rice finally got the call he was waiting for, a chance to play for the big club. Rice would end up spending 8 seasons with Jersey City before leaving through free agency in 2005. He was instrumental in the two Jersey City championships (1997 and 1999). He enjoyed his best seasons from 1998-2000 and was a perennial All-Star. Rice has always hit RHP all over the field, he just never really got those lefties figured out. Because of this he will never have those HOF numbers. He will never be remembered as an elite slugger but he still had solid power. He had above average defense, a good arm, and could make all plays on the field. Rice averaged a 2.5 WAR while in JC and I would take that any day of the week.”
*If we went by defense only, we'd have selected two time Fielding Bible award winner Frank Valdez of the Boston Colonials and Portland Pioneers. But he jumped to the MLB in 2001 and retired after bouncing around as a backup in 2003. Defense isn't everything.
With the first pick of the 2003 First Year Player Draft the Jersey City Giants selected pitcher Brandon Webb. Webb will get a Spring Training invite and depending on his performance more than likely will crack the Giants rotation this season. The highly regarded Kentucky product has the experience and leadership this rotation has needed since Kevin Brown left.
Two years ago Jersey City GM/Manager Ryan Huff was on top of the of the world. He had five straight first place finishes and two ULB Cups. Huff was the hottest thing on the block and was rumored to have offers from multiple MLB teams. Instead he chose to stay with the man that gave him his first legitimate opportunity in professional baseball, Mr. Donald Trump.
Now the Giants find themselves as one of the biggest questions marks in the ULB. After back to back 70 win seasons with no real shot at the post-season Trump’s patience is growing thin. Any real baseball fan will know that all of this cannot fall on Huff’s shoulders. The freak injury that happened to Alex Rodriguez and left him with post-concussion syndrome for the greater part of those two seasons is something that no team can prepare for.
In an exclusive with The Times of Trenton Huff aired out all the dirty laundry and the panties too. Huff stated that “Don is one of the smartest men I know but at the same time he is a horrible communicator. If he has a problem with the direction of this team then needs to say it to my face and not behind my back. When your superstar player that makes up a third of the teams salary goes down for that long what can he expect me to do? Frankly I am sick and tired of his bad hair, fake tans, and unpredictable personality.”
“We had a good run but now it is time to look towards the future and start another streak. You need to set expectations at a realistic level. Don tells me every season to go out there and win the championship. Winning it all should be a goal and not an expectation.”
The future is looking good in Jersey City though as they won the first pick in this years draft lottery.
Mr. Trump’s representatives had no comment on the situation.