Sunday, January 18, 2009

Owner Interview: shakazulu5

1. How did you get into whatifsports?

After reading Moneyball I was all about Sabremetrics. Came across an ad for Simleagues on, tried it out, and the rest is history.

2. What is your favorite thing about HBD?

Organizational planning. Offseason mostly, but also during the season during dull moments at work when I can plan out where I'm pegging top prospects to play and how soon, prospects I don't have a place for and want to use trade, etc. I love structuring trades, planning which FAs to go for, making the "huge move". I've used countless scraps of paper scribbling different lineups and pitching staffs down. As rewarding as winning is, every offseason is the biggest challenge cuz if you're not moving forward you're moving back.

3. Least favorite thing about HBD?

Surprisingly it's not coach hiring- used to be, but I've been able to breeze through it recently. Spring Training still sucks- longest six days in HBD. If you're evaluating guys to bring up, it's usually only the 23rd-25th guy(s). They should play a ST game every half cycle.

4. How did you find out about Major Leagues?

Thaceo's thread about rebuilding a world. Thought it was a great idea, and unknowingly took the team who's previous owner caused all the problems in the world the first 2 seasons. First comment I got when posting in WC was something like, "It's nice to actually pay attention to Atlanta's posts again." Thaceo bailed, pnut saved the day, and here we are.

5. Who is shakazulu5?

A fun loving 26-yr old, mortgage banker by day, student by night. Born and raised in Chicago and suburbs, live in Chicago now and can't imagine leaving. Die hard Cubs, Bears, Bulls fan- my perfect afternoon starts in the Wrigley Field bleachers at 1:20, Old Style in one hand, Chicago-style dog in the other... then there's all sorts of shenanigans that follow, but that's for another time.

6. What are your favorite sports and/or sports teams?

Guess I jumped ahead of myself back there. So, my favorite sport to play is (and always has been) basketball, to watch throughout a season it's baseball, but to watch just one game it's football b/c of the greater significance each game has.

7. All-time favorite sports moment?

I wish I could say Paxson's 3-pointer over the Suns or any of countless Jordan moments, but I stupidly took the 90's Bulls for granted. So it'd be in 2003, Cubs just beat Atlanta to win their first postseason series in 95 years, drunk on Clark and Addison with thousands of other people doing the tomahawk chop, unreal. Made me realize how crazy this city will get WHEN the Cubs win it all:-)

8. What other baseball games have you previously played? (tabletop, fantasy, video, computer, i.e. anything from Strat-O-Matic to Baseball Mogul to RBI Baseball and everything in between)

There were tons. Nintendo- the RBI Baseball series, Major League Baseball, Bases Loaded (underrated), Baseball Stars, Baseball Simulator 1.000, Base Wars, Roger Clemens MVP Baseball, Tecmo Baseball. Sega- all EA Sports all the way, namely Tony LaRussa and Triple Play, then the best baseball console game ever: MVP Baseball 2005 for PS2. Haven't bought another since

9. What player, in your minor league system, has the most potential to be a star and why?

Seeing that I've traded each of my top picks away and haven't acquired much young talent via trade, this is definitely my franchise with the least minor league talent. So, I'll go with either RP Andrew Burnett (LoA) this year's top pick C Lefty O'Leary (Rookie)- mainly b/c I haven't had a chance to trade him away. Will either be a star? No. A better question is will either make it to the Big Leagues in a Braves uniform? Hmmm...

10. Who is your Franchise Player and/or team MVP?

I've probably had a different team MVP each season, but I gotta go with Miguel Martin despite his rough season 6 so far. Since I took over in season 3 through last season, he's hit .321 with a .428 OBP and a .587 SLG, averaging 132 Runs and 118 RBI, and a league MVP Award in season 4. So I don't have to worry about a #3 hitter for at least a couple more seasons.

11. What are your team's prospects in the short, medium and long-term?

Short was supposed to be amazing, as I thought I improved on last season's 103-win team, yet here we are at 35-32. I'm hoping the hitting will come around, as the pitching's right about where it should be but my hitting that has finished no worse than 3rd in RS is currently 14th. The future's a question mark- I have a few veteran players with some good years left in them, but also a few pitchers filing for social security that I'll have to replace in free agency or via trade (see question 9 about crappy minors)

12. Who is your biggest Major Leagues rival?

If it weren't for jonboy calling me out in his interview, and then proceeding to dominate the division so far this season, I'd say zbrent and the Twins simply because in my three seasons here we've met in the WS twice, each winning once. But as jonboy mentioned, our NLCS series was ridiculous (my coworkers probably thought I was on crack while I was going through the play-by-play). And coachdeal's Astros are a damn good team too, so it'd have to be those two. One helluva division, by far the best in this world ;-)

13. What do you look for in a Hitter?

My specific preferences change somewhat depending on my home ballpark, but in general it's batting eye first, then splits and power, then contact (although I've started weighing CON higher). But a couple real high ratings can compensate for mediocre ones elsewhere. I'll usually take the better bat over the better glove, but I try to keep at least a couple defensive players up the middle (usually 2B and/or SS, and CF). And since I don't steal bases, don't care about speed or baserunning.

14. What do you look for in a Pitcher?

Control, then at least one of splits or pitches- I'll take really good pitches with decent splits, and vice versa. I pay little to no attention to velocity or GB/FB unless it's at one extreme. I like SPs w/ higher DUR and lower STA- typically undervalued/misused, they'll be cheap to keep b/c of the lower OVR. Downside is they may not net you much compensation in FA- had two CYA winners in this world, neither was even a Type B the following season.

15. What is the best move you’ve ever made in Major Leagues?

I made 12 trades in season 3 to rework the team, as the previous owner had a vastly different philosophy than me. But getting SP Sam Betemit for CF Tony Martin was huge for me. Martin is an excellent CF, just doesn't fit my system- low eye and much of his value is in basestealing, and I had a CF I liked in the minors. Betemit is the prototypical undervalued SP b/c of low Stamina, even previously used as a reliever. He helped me win a WS in season 3 while winning the CYA, and has gone 55-19 w/ a 3.19 ERA for me. And at 32 and only making $4.4M, he'll be a cheap top of the rotation guy for a couple more seasons.

16. What is the worst move you’ve ever made in Major Leagues?

A combination of moves to effectively dole out all of my top minor league talent. One day I looked through my minor league system, and poof! It's gone. And the prospect fairy didn't even leave me a quarter.

17. What is your most memorable HBD moment, any world?

Happens to be in this world, winning my first HBD World Series. I went something like 14 or 15 postseasons without having even reached the WS, so that was extremely satisfying.

18. What is your team’s #1 strength?

The stats would say it's my bullpen (20/23 in saves, 4 guys w/ under 2.75 ERA), but screw the stats- I still think it's hitting. I added two real nice bats to an already solid lineup, so I'm gonna keep betting on that horse until some 3rd grader's using it as glue.

19. What is your team’s #1 weakness?

Jameson, but that's only the owner. Aging pitchers with no help in the minors. It's real tough to deal for SPs when the cupboards empty.

20. In what ways, if any, do you think Major Leagues could improve?

After the thaceo incident our commish has done an amazing job turning this into possibly my most solid world. Maybe some more blog activity- although once again, pnut's doing the job here also. So I'll have a Coke.

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