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Vol. IV, Issue #8 - December 2016

** "Building Your Draft Team for 2017 Wolfman Shapiro **
      (In late November and during the holidays in December, we start to speculate what
the new cards might be like for our next keepers' league(s) coming up next year.
Maybe this article isn't for our more advance members but it let's you take a look inside of the
mind of a GM who you know quite well as he plans his team re-build like the Cubs ... here we go!)

(Notes from the Wolfman:
 In articles I have written in the past, I have talked about here and there some of my strategies for building a SOM Baseball league team.  But I thought for the last issue of this year, our 4th year, that I would share more about the things I do to prepare for our league's draft and to help build our team, my special strategies.  This article will be in two parts, as the second half will appear in our January issue next year.  This part of the article will provide you with the basic background information you need to understand our team in the CBA, we call the Skokie Wolfmen and some key rules in our league that effect what new players we can acquire (via our draft or trades).  Since we here at USBN, wish to accomodate all our members of our newsletter, no matter what level of play you are at, perhaps this article will be of interest for some of our members. What Strat GM do you know who doesn't like discussing their league team?  Enjoy ....

Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter, Editor Wolfman Shapiro, with a dream to be A Chicago Cubs Players, his baseball cardThe Skokie Wolfmen in the CBA
(team strategies before the 2017
season begins and the draft happens)

Part I - The Background

We never know in the way we look towards managing our team or teams in our league(s), if some of our ideas and strategies might be helpful to other gamers.  Of course, there is always the concern if we let these strategies out of the bag, and others use them, it can come back to haunt us. But come on - next April I turn 62 years young, having played SOM since 1967 when I was 12 years old (that's gonna be 50 years of fun) - its important to give back I think plus this is the whole reason our newsletter exists, to share. And I am all about sharing - its the key to what makes me the Wolfman!

Anyway, while I am sitting here in our off season - planning the next moves for my beloved team the Skokie Wolfman, I am fondly remembering those four years in our first eight years we were a member of our current league (the CBA) how we made it into our league's world series even though we only have one championship to show for it. Therefore, I thought it might be a good article to share with our readers - the inner workings of the Wolfman's mind.

Now there does exist the possibility that these ideas may not be new for some of our more advance players and would be common sense but I happen to know that many of our members have never won a league championship or a tournament, as many gamers guard their so-called secrets.  Anyway, as I always say, if just one idea or suggestion I give might help just one of our members to do better in their league and find it more enjoyable, then its well worth it to give it a shot.  In a way, it like telling a story (could be that I am in this framework right now as I am working on three novels myself, with the first one just published) - so anyway, perhaps you will view my insights and personal experiences as a sharing by a fellow Strat Brother then. 

Although, on the other hand, I do know there are a few of the members of my main league (the CBA) who are readers of this newsletter and by writing this article, they will of course see what I plan to do for the 2017 season and our upcoming draft. But, regardless, I have to take a chance and this is what I am presently inspired to do for our members.  For you see, when you a writer and you get inspired, its best to let what needs to be expressed, to come out. 

So this article is for any of our members who are currently involved in what are called "Keeper Draft Leagues" where you use the most recent cards issued by the game company and keep the players from year to year if you wish. Our boys, the wolf guys, have been in rebuild for the last three years, its a new and painful strategy (but an old one for MLB, as the Cubs and Royals have done it very successfully now) for us and I have yet to show any success based upon this new way to build our team but I do believe that what we are about to do in our 2017 season is setting us up to be a consistent playoff-bound team starting in 2018.

Now rather than give you the full article right now, I am dividing this report into two parts. I have decided the best way to tell this story is to use our current team in the CBA as a good example, making comments here and there why we are doing what we are doing ... This first part is to get you acquainted with the 2017 version of the Skokie Wolfmen, the rules that govern our actions in the CBA and to discuss the early moves we have made to prepare our team for the 2017 CBA draft that will be held late February or early March. So you can bet a hill of beans I have already done my homework and pretty much know from playing Baseball Daily and studying last years' MLB stats which players we are going after in our draft or we will be seeking via trade. There is a madness to my method.

Before I start, in my experience there are two ways to build your team.

Plan A) go after obtaining the best cards (naturally) using the draft and shrewd trades to fill all your holes and make it into the playoffs - for 8 straight years in the CBA we followed this process and make it 7 times into the playoffs.  However, no matter how good you are, there is always going to come a time when this strategy will not work as you veteran players decline, key players are injured in real life play or players you depended upon just didn't perform and no amount of trades you can make or new players you can acquire by the draft can help you change this.  For the 2014 CBA season we found our self in this situation - what to do?  Then you have to go with "Plan B".

Plan B) - Take time to build your team by acquiring good young players (future stars) who could keep your team very competitive and hot for many years.  This is also not an easy process to do as you have to have patience waiting for these players to mature and know that eventually, with the new players you will be acquiring via the various systems in your league, you will eventually have a good chance to be very competitive within your league and could take that trophy home. This is the strategy I will be focusing upon in this article using our current team as a model. 

OK then, let's first look at some key rules in the CBA next so you see how we can acquire these new players and which players we can use during our season.


Unique and Key Rules in the CBA

Size of our Roster and Size we cut down to before our draft -- In the CBA we can keep a maximum of 38 players at any time during the season and if our roster exceeds this number you must release a player. Sometime in early December, in preparation for the next year's draft and to give more players to the draft, we cut down to 24 players and wait till the next draft to build back to 38. 

Restricted Free Agents (RFAs) -- During the season we are allowed to pick up two additional players, which are players that no CBA team controls nor was selected in our draft.  Of course, if you exercise this option you must release a player each time.  This helps our team to make sure we can follow the usage rules we have - which essentially are to keep a player used around 100% of the PAs or IPs.  We have some loop holes where it can go over but as soon as a player is used up, he can no longer be utilized in the current season. I mention the RFAs, because if you have such, you lose these players or control of them when the season ends. This is why we had 36 players we controlled prior to our league cuts that took place at the beginning of this month (December 2016).

Ability to Draft an Uncarded Player in the Current Set -- Most leagues I have heard about do not allow you to draft a young player who has not received a strat card before, as they live and die in the minors. In the CBA, each year we can select one non-carded player who at the time of our draft has signed a professional contract with a major league team.  There are two type of players who would qualify for this, any player who is in the minor leagues, especially the top 100 prospects that experts consider to be key young players who could be in the majors in the following season.  And the other type of player is an international player who comes over to MLB and signs an agreement. In some cases, these players have already played a number of seasons in leagues in other countries where they are superstars and even though they will be considered rookies, are very experienced players.  Abreu, the 1B of the White Sox and Maeda, a starting pitcher for the Dodgers would be two example of international players who have done well in MLB in their first seasons over most recently. (Glad I have one of them!!)

The CBA Draft -- Since we have 38 players, and we cut down to 24, in our draft our goal is to replenish our teams back to 38 players.  So we all have 14 draft picks given to us, but of course some teams have participated in trades and may have more than 14 draft picks or less.  If at the end of the 14th round you do not have 38 players, there are supplemental rounds. The minimum draft picks allowed is to have control of 11 picks and you must have at least two picks within the first 3 rounds.  Until the 1st pick of the next draft (2017 for us) is selected, you are not allowed to trade draft picks for the following season (2018) however, there is ------->

A Gentlemen's Agreement --This is where we can make a trade with another team that deals with draft picks two years ahead (2018) - it is kind of a secret trade that is only revealed after the 1st pick of the next draft (2017) takes place, then these agreement's can be announced.  This is called a gentlemen's agreement because both managers trust the trade agreed to will be honored by both managers later.

Popnomers - what is this? -- in the CBA if a player on your roster is either uncarded or does not have enough ABs (for all hitters they must have 35 ABs to be able to be used during the season) or IPs (for all pitchers they must have at least 25 IPs), we call such players "Popnomers". A time can have a maximum of five such players, sort of like players you have in the minor leagues waiting, if you will.

These are the key rules which affect what players we have on our rosters and who we can choose during our draft.  These rules also affect to a degree how we can trade players.  In our league we can make our trades with a combination of draft picks and players.

Next let's take a look at the Skokie Wolfmen, the players we had control of, after our season ended in September - which players we had to decide who we would keep and who we would cut, to get our team rosters down to 24 here at the end of the year.


Meet the 2017 Skokie Wolfmen
(our process to prepare for the draft)

In this next section let me share with you the 36 players we started with, once our off season began and we could make trades as we prepared to cut our teams down to 24 players. First I show the hitters we started with and then the pitchers ...

Age Bats http://mlb.mlb.com/images/trans.gifhttp://mlb.mlb.com/images/trans.gif
PA http://mlb.mlb.com/images/trans.gif
OPS http://mlb.mlb.com/images/trans.gif
1b 2b 3b ss lf cf rf
Santana, Carlos
30 S 1B 158 681 582 89 151 31 3 34 87 290 99 99 5 2 .259 .366 .498 .864   X            
Teixeira, Mark
36 S 1B 116 434 387 43 79 16 0 15 44 140 47 105 2 0 .204 .292 .362 .654   X            
Giavotella, Johnny 29 R 2B 99 359 346 44 90 20 1 6 31 130 13 39 4 3 .260 .287 .376 .663     X          
Garcia, Adonis 31 R 3B 134 556 532 65 145 29 0 14 65 216 24 93 3 2 .273 .311 .406 .717       X   x    
Cuthbert, Cheslor 24 R 3B 128 507 475 49 130 28 1 12 46 196 32 96 2 0 .274 .318 .413 .731       X        
Plawecki, Kevin
25 R C 48 149 132 6 26 6 0 1 11 35 17 33 0 0 .197 .298 .265 .563 X              
Springer, George 27 R OF 162 732 644 116 168 29 5 29 82 294 88 178 9 10 .261 .359 .457 .816             x X
Beltran, Carlos
39 S OF 151 587 552 73 163 33 0 29 93 283 35 101 1 0 .295 .337 .513 .850               X
Inciarte, Ender
26 L OF 131 567 522 85 152 24 7 3 29 199 45 68 16 7 .291 .351 .381 .732           x X  
Souza, Steven 27 R OF 120 461 430 58 106 17 1 17 49 176 31 159 7 6 .247 .303 .409 .712             x X
Blanco, Gregor
33 L OF 106 270 241 28 54 10 4 1 18 75 29 51 6 3 .224 .309 .311 .620           x x X
DeShields, Delino 24 R OF 74 197 182 36 38 7 0 4 13 57 15 54 8 3 .209 .275 .313 .588           x X  
Mahtook, Mikie 27 R OF 65 192 185 16 36 9 0 3 11 54 7 68 0 1 .195 .231 .292 .523           x x x
Cabrera, Asdrubal
31 S SS 141 559 521 65 146 30 1 23 62 247 38 103 5 1 .280 .336 .474 .810         X      
Drew, Stephen
33 L SS 70 159 143 24 38 11 1 8 21 75 16 31 0 1 .266 .339 .524 .863     X x x      
Alberto, Hanser
24 R SS 35 56 56 2 8 1 0 0 5 9 0 17 1 0 .143 .143 .161 .304   x x x X      
Ramirez, Aramis
38 R 3B 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000                
Telis, Tomas 25 S C 10 13 13 1 4 0 0 1 4 7 0 2 0 0 .308 .308 .538 .846 X              

(Above are the positional players we have control of at the end of our season with their MLB stats shown for the 2016 season along with which positions they played.  Note, Aramis Ramirez had retired for 2016, so he will not get a card in the new set.  We still had control of him and obvious at some point we would drop him ..)

(This list are the pictures who we had control of at the end of the 2016 season.  Our league officer who creates our spreadsheet, did not get the stats for Carlos Frias correctly as he pitched 4 innings for the Dodgers.  Greg Holland was injured for the 2016 season so he will not get a card and Marco Gonzales and Kyle Zimmer are top prospects for the Cardinals and Royals respectively who also didn't make it to the majors yet and won't see a card)

Naturally some of the players we had for our 2016 CBA team had some good cards in 2015 but either were not used as much or they declined in their abilities for the 2016 MLB Season. 

Before we show you the 24 players that we kept (keepers) for the Skokie Wolfmen, we need to discuss various trades we made during our off-season.

Below is a list of the trades that we made.  We also made during our off season two gentle's agreements which we will discuss after I share our normal trades.

Trades (chronological)

11/22/16  Skokie trades its 4th draft pick (2017, #7) to Phillie
              Phillie sends to Skokie, Jhonny Peralta 
(extra infield help)

11/27/16  Skokie trades Kyle Zimmer (uncarded, prospect), Skokie #6th draft pick (2017) to San Diego
              San Diego sends Skokie, Jake Marisnick (
young def. OF), Pedro Strop (middle relief, Cubs),
              San Diego's #13 and #14 draft picks (2017)

11/28/16  Skokie trades its 8th draft pick (2017) to New Jersey, releases Hanser Alberto
              New Jersey sends Frankie Montas (
Oak. A's top 100 prospect), 14th draft pick (2017)

11/28/16  Skokie trades its 9th draft pick (2017) to Belfast, releases Aramis Ramirez
              Belfast sends Chris Ianetta (
we have no catcher for 2017, need PAs)

12/6/16   Skokie trades Jeff Locke to San Diego
              San Diego sends Tyson Ross (
only pitched once in 2016, future good SP)
              -- note, a gentlemen's agreement will happen linked to this trade next year.

-- Summaries of Stats on the new players we acquired

Jhonny Peralta (SS/3B-4), 309 PAs, 8 HRs, 29 RBIs, .260 average .307 on-base
Jake Marisnick (OF-1), 303 PAs, 5 HRs, 21 RBIs, 10 SB .209 average
Chris Iannetta (C-3) 333 PAs, 7 HRs, 24 RBIs, .210 average, .303 on-base
Javier Baez (2B-1, SS/3B-2, 1B-4), 436 PAs, 14 HRs, 59 RBIs, 12 SB, .273 average .314 on-base

(Frankie Montas is uncarded, a top 100 prospect, Tyson Ross only pitched in one game in 2016)

Gentlemen's Agreement with Phillie -- we made a trade agreement with Phillie for draft picks for 2017 and 2018, involving our 1st draft pick in both 2017 and 2018 to acquire Javier Baez.

As I indicted in our December 6th trade with San Diego, next year will include a gentlemen's agreement as well.  I have discovered, sometimes its better to give away these future picks if you can get a player you want to have NOW!

Summary of our trades -- If you review our trades above, in order to get some extra players to help us in our team rebuilding (4 hitters and 3 pitchers) we basically used our draft picks, along with gave up one of our minor league prospects who we had hoped would pitch in 2016 and did not.

We have always liked having Marisnick, an all OF-1 for late inning defense, Pedro Strop has turned into a very good middle inning reliever for the Cubs and you can see we are trying to add more real Cubs to our team.  Frankie Montas and Tyson Ross will not be available in our 2017 season but we believe both could do well in the 2017 MLB season and could help bolster our pitching staff. Ianetta was a stop gap as we have no stable catcher and will see if we can draft a good young catcher next year.  And Javier Baez is a future star (we can't believe Strat made him a "1" at 2B) that we coveted thus we had to give up a lot but there was no player in our draft for 2017 who was better than Baez.  We have been missing a good 2B for several years.

Which Players did we Drop?

Due to the traders we already made, we had already released Hanser Alberto (didn't play much for Texas) and Aramis Ramirez (retired).  We had traded away Kyle Zimmer and Jeff Locke.

The other players we dropped in early December to bring us to 24 players

Players that it was easy to let go:
Eddie Butler, P (young prospect, didn't do well for the Rockies ...)
Andrew Chaflin, P (had a good card in 2015, wasn't used much in 2016)
Delino Shields, OF (had a great 2015 for the Rangers, didn't hit in 2016, no room in OF)
Carlos Frias, P (was hoping Dodgers would use more in 2016, top prospect, no room on roster)
Marco Gonzalez, P (top 100 prospect in past for Cardinals, not used in 2016, no room)
Mikie Mahtook, OF (had a great card in 2015, Rays didn't perform in 2016, no room in OF)
Dailer Hinojosa, P (thought he might be a key for Phillies in 2016 as RP, not used, no space to hold)
Tomas Telis, C (didn't play much in 2015, or 2016, we need a solid catcher)
Justin Wilson, P (had a good season in 2015, in 2016 didn't pitch well vs. LHH, need a sold LHRP)

Players we hated to see go but had no choice:
Gregor Blanco, OF (had a good year in 2015, LF-1; wasn't use as much in 2016, all OF-2)
Johnny Giavotella, 2B (was a stop gap in 2015, hit ok in 2016, Javier is coming, no need)
Brandon Maurer, P (had a good year in 2015, was so-so for Padres in '16, has high potential, re-draft?)
Rafael Montero, P (was top 100 prospect for Mets, few innings in 2016, can't wait, no room)
Mark Teixiera, 1B (has been a key for our team for years, poor year in 2016, retiring, need a young 1B)

What Does Skokie Look Like Now
(by positions)

C - Kevin Plawecki (good def catcher); Chris Ianetta (just for PA's)

1B -- Carlos Santana (backups: Javier Baez, Cheslor Cuthbert)

2B -- Javier Baez (backups: Cheslor Cuthbert, Stephen Drew)

SS -- Asdrubal Cabrera (backups: Javier Baez, Stephen Drew, Jhonny Peralta)

3B -- Adonis Garcia & Cheslor Cuthbert (backups: Javier Baez, Jhonny Peralta)

LF -- Steven Souza & Jake Marisnick (backup: Ender Inciarte)

CF -- Ender Inciarte (backup: George Springer, Jake Marisnick)

RF -- George Springer (backup: Carlos Betran, Jake Marisnick)

DH --  Carlos Beltran (backup: Carlos Santana)


SP -- Chris Archer / Kyle Hendrick / Kenta Maeda / Jimmy Nelson

RP -- A. J. Ramos / Kelvin Herrara / Pedro Strop / Tony Cingrani

Other Players unavailable for Play:
Greg Holland (injured); Tyson Ross (injured); Frankie Montas (prospect, uncarded)

( Obviously we have some holes to fill but we have 14 more players we will acquire in the draft, no including if we make some other trades before our season starts ... )

Heading into Part II

So at this point in my report, you see we do have some good young players on our team, as we are in a rebuild mode. It was my goal in this report to give you the background about our league and what players we had control over to start with and then who we ultimately choose to keep.

Therefore, in my second and final report, which will appear in our January issue (2017), I will pick up where I left off and get into the meat and potatoes for how I propose to build our team going forward. I will be discussing how we acquired some of the players we currently have (not the new ones we just traded for). Talk a little bit more about the players we picked up in prior trades and why we protected the players we did. Then I will discuss our strategies for continuing to build our team to be very competitive in 2018 and why the CBA should watch out for the return of the "Wolfmen".

It is also possible we could make some other moves before our next report but with only 24 players it's better to wait till the draft begins and see what moves we can make at that time and maybe a few trades during the draft itself - usually late in the draft you can trade for earlier draft picks from the teams who have extra picks they will lose.

Also if some of our members reading this report, are not using some of the rules which the CBA incorporates and has adopted, you might want to consider to employ such in your next season.  The CBA has been around for a number of years and through its maturity as a premium league now has some great and knowledgeable managers (since 2012, we have only had 1st time new champions win our league) and has experimented with variations on the rules you have read to fine tune the league and keep it very competitive, fair and fun.

This is the manager of the Skokie Wolfmen signing off for now - hope all of our members are enjoying their holiday season and that 2017 starts as an amazing year.

Yours in Strat ...........

The Skokie Wolfman
GM of the Skokie Wolfmen in the CBA and your humble editor

Go Wolfmen Go!! (lets all sing this song together now ...)



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Contained inside this exciting issue of Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter:
(to view the various interviews, articles, columns and special sections click on the links {underlined} and this will take you to the appropriate webpage)


  INTERVIEW with SEAN PLOUFFE, HITTING A BASEBALL, Sean is a pro hitting consultant who works with various minor league and major league players to help them with their swing to be able to be more efficient in hitting a baseball.  In this interview we discussed how Sean was able to become this hitting consultant.  Perhaps Sean can help some of our members hit a baseball better in your physical baseball leagues?

  SOM/MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL WORLD NEWS with WOLFMAN SHAPIRO, editor of "The Ultimate Strat Newsletter" roams the world for interesting news linked to SOM or MLB. For this month he shares some gems he found on the Strat-o-matic website, offers two more "Stat of the Week" bulletins through Baseball Info Solutions (John Dewan and Bill James), a special announce of a new draft guide coming out in January through our team in conjunction with Strat-o-gists, new videos on our Youtube channel and a gift shared with our members by a former contributor.

  EARLY SOM BASEBALL CARDS with TOM NAHIGIAN, Wolfman's old Strat Friend, Tom Nahigian, known as the "Collector" in Guzzo's book, returns to us as we share images of some of the early SOM baseball cards made for the 1960 season, before Strat-o-matic created the advanced cards that we all know today.  This is one of our favorite periodic columns by our members, also check the links on this page to view the previous release of the early card image from 1960 and 1961.

  SOM BASEBALL LEAGUE REPORT with WOLFMAN SHAPIRO -- the editor of "The Ultimate Strat Newsletter" and 2012 CBA Champion, turns his attention to talk to members of various face-to-face
Strat-o-matic Baseball Leagues that he has discovered through the league registry service offered on the Strat-o-matric website. Each commission speaks about the history of their league and their experiences. To read these interviews, click on the links below:

INTERVIEW with ARNIE POLLINGER, Commissioner of SOMBILLA (Face-to-Face)
INTERVIEW with BLAIR CONRAD, Commissioner of Halifax Strato (Face-to-Face)

  ARTICLE with Chuck Tinkler, Chuck is one of our most popular contributors and is back with a new article for his column, "The Chuck Stop", as he shares with us part one of what he calls "Old Guys Rule". This article deals with the value of a 1st round draft and more - Chuck always entertains our readers with his insightful and colorful stories and experiences - check his new article out now!

  RECOMMEND ON-LINE SOM RESOURCES -- On-line Strat-o-matic and Baseball related websites that offer amazing information, special tools and products to improve your game play that we strongly recommend. In most cases, we have had personal contact with these sources who agree with the principle to work together and help promote each other.

  BOOKS TO DIE FOR and Become a BASEBALL GURU -- This page is specifically about special books we are finding that either will expand your insights about the game of Baseball, help you in the creation of your current league teams or with your replays and learn more about the Strat-o-matic Baseball Game and Game Company's history.  We have a special arrangement with Acta Sports, who is a publisher of a number of great baseball books (including Bill James Handbooks) to offer for our members a 10% discount. We will continue to add more books to this page in the future as we uncover other gems our members should know about.


Contact Us for Questions or Submissions

Wolfman Shapiro
co-Founder/Editor, the Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter

email: wolfman@ultimatestratbaseball.com
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twitter: @StratBaseball4U

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