New Jays GM a fantasy dud

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Though he is a quick learner, apparently.
10 years before replacing J.P. Ricciardi and assuming the title of Blue Jays interim general manager, Alex Anthopoulos took part in Scoresheet fantasy baseball, a game of which I also happen to be a fan.
I’m not going to do a full rundown — if you’re interested, click on the link — but Scoresheet leagues tend to be drafted somewhat similarly to regular fantasy leagues, with the caveat that most are keeper leagues. The big difference is that no categories are involved: games are simulated by the Scoresheet software using actual stats that each player accumulates during each of the 26 weeks of the season. Also, defense counts and managers can employ tendencies, such as when to put the bench into play, whether to sac bunt with anyone but the pitcher and when to pull the starter. It never works perfectly, but it’s still plenty of fun to watch unfold, and there’s a simulated postseason that uses a mixture of September stats and full-season stats to try to come up with the fairest possible result.
As is turned out, Anthopoulos discovered the game long before I did. Thanks to a hot tip from Rotoworld’s Nate Stephens and a little digging, we see that Anthopoulos took part in the 10-team AL-only Harwell League in 1999 and 2000.
In 1999, his “Big Uns” team finished an incredible 49-113, a full 23 games behind any of the league’s other nine clubs. It scored 542 runs and gave up 989. For comparison’s sake, the 1962 Mets scored 617 runs and allowed 948.
Things got ever so slightly better the following year. In the turnaround to end all turnarounds, Anthopoulos’ club went 111-51, a full 62-game improvement. The “Big Uns” scored 1,170 runs and allowed 788. To put that in perspective, one major league team has reached four figures in runs scored in the last 50 years, that being the 1999 Indians at 1009.
So, obviously, this league had some balance issues. Anthopoulos went from worst to first in the regular season and then won the championship 4-1 in the best-of-seven series. Keying his turnaround were some big offseason deals. He moved Mark Mulder, Freddy Garcia and Nick Johnson for Tim Hudson and Paul Konerko. Next was Konerko, Darin Erstad, Kelvim Escobar and one-time top prospect Ryan Anderson for Jason Giambi and Jim Thome. He then spun Thome for Eric Chavez. He somehow managed to swindle away Manny Ramirez, Jorge Posada and Troy Glaus as well, though that did cost him Chavez. Less impressive was trade of Michael Cuddyer for Ron Villone, though that would never come back to haunt him.
To put it mildly, he was an active owner during his two years in the league. But that all changed after 2000, when he got an entry job with the Expos and left fantasy baseball behind. Or at least declined to continue playing under his own name.
Anthopoulos is no lock to keep his GM job once the Blue Jays name a new president, but outgoing CEO Paul Beeston is recommending him for the job. He certainly has my support, and only partly because of the Scoresheet background.
No, the far more significant factor is that, if his team name is any indication at all, he apparently was a “big” Married with Children fan.

Red Sox ask Hanley Ramirez to report 15-20 pounds lighter next spring

Hanley Ramirez
The Associated Press
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Hanley Ramirez was a complete failure in left field this season in Boston and he batted just .249/.291/.426 while appearing in only 105 games. Ben Cherington, the man that signed him to a four-year, $88 million free agent contract, is no longer with the Red Sox. It’s time for some tough love …

Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo, who just inked a two-year extension to return as John Farrell’s bench coach, told Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald on Sunday that Hanley has been asked to drop 15-20 pounds over the offseason. There have been similar conversations with Boston’s other free agent failure, Pablo Sandoval.

Ramirez is expected to start at first base for the Red Sox in 2016.

Video: Clayton Kershaw notches his 300th strikeout

Clayton Kershaw
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Clayton Kershaw entered Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Padres needing six strikeouts to become the first pitcher in 13 years to whiff 300 batters in a single season.

He did it within the first nine batters of the game, whiffing Yangervis Solarte, Clint Barmes, Austin Hedges, and Travis Jankowski once each and Melvin Upton Jr. on two different occasions.

Here was the milestone matchup against Upton Jr. with two outs in the top of the third …

The last pitchers to reach 300 strikeouts in a season were Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. They did so as teammates on the 2002 Diamondbacks.

Kershaw is lined up to face the Mets in Game 1 of the NLDS.