For those unfamiliar with the BTB Sports “Win Now Challenge,” we’ve been choosing teams on MLB The Show 2020 and attempting to turn them from some of baseball’s worst into World Series champions in just one year. Thus far we’ve seen the Tigers, Giants, and Orioles all fail to win it all. For my first crack at it, I decided to go with the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners were 68-94 in 2019, finishing a cool 39 games out of first place in the AL West, good for dead last in the division. 68-94 is also meaningful because that equates to a winning percentage of .420, and you would have to be fucking high to think this team is a championship contender.Continue reading BTB Sports Win Now Challenge: Seattle Mariners
In case you’ve missed the past few articles explaining what the BTB Sports ‘Win Now’ Challenge is, it’s when you take a horrible team in any league and try to turn them into a winning franchise in only one year. So far we’ve done the Detroit Tigers and San Francisco Giants. Both…were failures.
This time I decided to do the Baltimore Orioles, and I’ll start off by saying I have no idea what the damn Oriole in their logo is smiling about. This team, top to bottom, stinks. All-around atrocious. I knew I was going to have issues when I felt like Hanser Alberto was a guy I couldn’t lose. On top of that, this team legit has no money. They’re like Blockbuster. Continue reading BTB Sports ‘Win Now’ Challenge
We have our first BTB Sports ‘Win Now’ challenger in Chuck ‘Mookie’ Betz. He took on the difficult task of trying to make the 2020 San Francisco Giants World Series Champs, who are honestly just one of those teams you can’t count out. They had one of the most low-key dynasties in sports history and I bet the average baseball fan couldn’t name more than like four or five players from those teams. On the contrary, you could tell me that any mid-2000s player was on those teams and I’d believe it. Mark DeRosa? Sure. Edgar Renteria? Give him the MVP. Bengie Molina? What’s up right-center field single.
Hot start here trading a franchise cornerstone in Buster Posey, but I love it. Sending a statement to the rest of the roster that says “Keep a bag packed”.
Reds got: C Buster Posey, CF Hunter Bishop, and 2B Yolmer Sanchez Giants got: SP Luis Castillo, SP Trevor Bauer
One catcher out, the next one in:
Yankees got: C Joey Bart, 2B Rob McMahon, RF Jaylin Davis Giants got: C Gary Sanchez
Apparently the Yankees believe 3rd base is the most important position in baseball because they now have three capable starters after this trade:
Yankees got: SP Jeff Samardzjia, 3B Evan Longoria Giants got: SP Masahiro Tanaka, RP Enrique Salinas
I honestly can’t believe how low Jordan Hicks is rated in The Show. He’s like 22 years old and has arguably the best pure stuff in baseball, yet he gets tossed a 73 overall? Insane.
Cardinals got: SP Logan Webb Giants got: CP Jordan Hicks
I also love the doubling-down on the closer here. The 8th inning is the new 9th inning.
Indians got: 3B Pablo Sandoval, SS Brandon Crawford, SP Tyler Beede Giants got: CP Brad Hand
Chuck finished out the rest of spring training by rounding out his lineup:
Royals got: 2B Jalen Miller, SP Dereck Rodriguez, SS Mauricio Dubon Giants got: SS Adalberto Mondesi
Yankees got: 2B Wilmer Flores, RF Austin Slater, SP Kevin Gausman Giants got: CF Aaron Hicks
Royals got: CP Reyes Moronta, 2B Kean Wong, 1B Zach Green Giants got: 3B Hunter Dozier
Brewers got: SP Sean Hjelle, 2B Peter Maris, SS Ryan Howard Giants got: SS Orlando Arcia
Phillies got: C Chadwick Tromp Giants got: 2B Ronald Torreyes
He also signed:
OF Yasiel Puig 2B Scooter Gennett RP Arodys Vizciano RP Pat Neshek SP Ervin Santana Some random 18-year old 75 overall Ben Escobedo
OPENING DAY LINEUPS + ROTATION
I know nothing about this man, but to me Scooter Gennett feels like the Kimmy Gibbler of this lineup. Nobody else really wants him there, but it’s like when he is, it’s fine. It’s not great nor preferred, but it’s fine.
Regardless, they’ve got the potential to make a run at the Wild Card. With the Dodgers in that division, it’s pretty unlikely any team takes that title.
|SS Adalberto Mondesi, 85 Overall|
|2B Scooter Gennett, 79|
|C Gary Sanchez, 87|
|CF Aaron Hicks, 83|
|3B Hunter Dozier, 78|
|LF Mike Yastrzemski, 76|
|1B Brandon Belt, 77|
|RF Yasiel Puig, 81|
|SP Trevor Bauer, 88 Overall|
|Johnny Cueto, 83|
|Luis Castillo, 83|
|Masahiro Tanaka, 79|
|Drew Smyly, 77|
Okay maybe I spoke too soon. Here the Giants were sitting at 48-51, 9.5 games out of the second WC Spot and 14.5 games back in the division. Chuck decided to make some moves:
Yankees got: SP Ben Escobedo, SP Drew Smyly, CF Steven Duggar Giants got: SP James Paxton
Reds got: RF Hunter Pence, 2B Donovan Solano, RP Trevot Gott Giants got: RP Michael Lorenzen and his biceps
Mets got: CF Heliot Ramos, SP Conner Menez, RP Jackie Lynch Giants got: SP Steven Matz
Yankees got: LF Chris Shaw, SS Brandon Van Horn, RP Jake Jewell Giants got: LF Clint Frazier
White Sox got: SS Orlando Arcia (batting .107), SP Tyler Anderson, SP Andrew Suarez Giants got: SS Danny Mendick
His deadline moves got him above .500, but unfortunately Chuck couldn’t clinch a Wild Card spot. His Giants roster finished with a 84-78 record. That was 7 games back in the Wild Card and 24 out of the division. Yes, that does mean the Dodgers won 108 games.
BUT…. the silver lining was that they had the 4th best rotation in the league, so ya know, take that to the bank and such.
Check back for the next challenge. We WILL get a winner
You’ve heard of Instagram challenges. You’ve heard of TikTok Challenges. But you’ve NEVER heard of BTB Sports Challenges…which is probably because they never existed until this blog. Anybody could do a dance or post a picture. A real challenge is getting one season to turn the sewer stain roster of the Detroit Tigers into a win-now team.
That’s what I’ve attempted here, and I invite you to do the same with other professional teams. MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, your call. Your only challenge is to win this year, and this year only. Utilizing the Godsend that is MLB The Show 20, I tried to give the city of Detroit their first glimmer of sports hope since they remembered they weren’t Cleveland.
Before we start, I just want you all to know that I have to make up about 80+ wins here. They were 67 games below .500 at 47-114. That’s the 16th worst winning percentage in MLB history, behind a short list that mostly includes teams that don’t exist anymore and franchises like the Orioles and Mets. That’s as bad as being included on a list of things to remember with the Alamo.
Here’s the lineup and rotation before any moves were made:
|RF Victor Reyes, 73 Overall|
|SS Niko Goodrum, 79|
|DH Miguel Cabrera, 81|
|1B C.J. Cron, 81|
|2B Jonathon Schoop, 80|
|3B Jeimer Candelario, 71|
|LF Christian Stewart, 65|
|C Austin Romine, 76|
|CF Jacoby Jones, 64|
|Matthew Boyd, 82 Overall|
|Jordan Zimmerman, 70|
|Daniel Norris, 77|
|Ivan Nova, 70|
|Spencer Turnbill, 73|
First order of business was sadly trading legend Miguel Cabrera. He’s one of the greatest hitters ever, but at this point in his career he’s not worth $31 million a season. If we’re winning now, we need some cap space. Here was the trade:
Mets get: 1B Miguel Cabrera, CP Joe Nimenez, and 3B Isaac Paredes (B-level prospect) Tigers get: SP Steven Matz, SP Rick Porcello, and RP Jeurys Familia
I had to take Porcello and Familia for budget purposes. Miggy’s contract was too big to dish off without taking something back. But wait a beat, they won’t be here long.
Then I took a deep dive at what we needed to immediately improve. I decided that Michael Fulmer, despite being a former ROTY, had one of those ‘peaked in high school’ attitudes. He had decent pull, so I made a straight trade with Minnesota:
Twins get: SP Michael Fulmer Tigers get: SP Kenta Maeda
I also saw we had a few pitchers that were dead-weight, so I paired them up and got a decent deal with the A’s:
A’s get: SP Shao-Ching Chang, SP Zach Godley, and SP Spencer Turnbill Tigers get: SP Frankie Montas
I still felt like I needed a top-of-the-rotation guy, so I checked on my top prospects and aimed at Blake Snell. And ladies and gentlemen…
Rays get: SP Tarik Skubal (A-level Prospect), SP Rick Porcello (Smell ya), and SP Matt Manning (B-level Prospect) Tigers get: SP Blake Snell
Then obviously we gotta bolster the pen with a bonafide closer:
Braves get: SP Daniel Morris, RP Jeurys Familia (Smell ya Part 2), and 1B Frank Schwindel (B-level prospect) Tigers get: RP Will Smith
Pitchers gotta throw to somebody right? Minnesota…u up?
Twins get: C Austin Romine, C James Rogers (B prospect) Tigers get: C Mitch Garver
Wait…is that…Mr. 2013 himself? Jordan Zimmerman? What’s that…he’s making $22 million dollars? How ’bout a hike, Jordan.
Braves get: SP Jordan Zimmerman, SP Dario Agrazal Tigers get: RP Marc Melancon
Now that pitching is a little cleaner, let’s wake up the bats a little here. I need a middle of the lineup guy, because it certainly isn’t C.J. Cron. Apparently Minnesota has no interest in being good anymore because this is the third trade we’ve made now and we’re in the same division.
Twins get: SP Casey Mize (A-level prospect), OF Christian Stewart (B-Level Prospect) Tigers get: OF Eddie Rosario
Our current center fielder is young with potential, but that screams rebuild. So Victor Reyes…
Diamondbacks get: OF Victor Reyes, OF Travis Demeritte, OF Jose Azocar Tigers get: OF Starling Marte
How about a big bat, huh?
Indians get: OF Jorge Bonafacio, SP Ethan Navarro, RP Gerson Moreno Tigers get: OF/DH/Absolute Unit Franmil Reyes
Our infield was decent with Cron, 2B Jonathon Schoop, and SS Niko Goodrum. Considering all the other holes we had, this wasn’t priority, but I still wanted to get better at the hot corner.
Yankees get: 3B Jeimer Candelario, 2B Dawel Lugo, LF Lyle Mitcheltree Tiger gets: 3B Gio Urshela
After all this my minor league managers are looking around their locker room like it’s an episode of The Big Bang Theory: no talent.
With no more trades possible without giving up big league guys, I had to go to the free agents to fix the bullpen and add some depth. Luckily, I got:
OF Yasiel Puig RP Colin McHugh RP Pat Neshek RP Arodys Vizciano
And with that, we were ready for battle.
OPENING DAY LINEUPS AND ROTATION
|Starling Marte, 87|
|Eddie Rosario, 86|
|Gio Urshela, 83|
|Mitch Garver, 84|
|Franmil Reyes, 76|
|Yasiel Puig, 79|
|Jonathon Schoop, 78|
|Niko Goodrum, 79|
|C.J. Cron, 81|
|Blake Snell, 89|
|Kenta Maeda, 83|
|Matthew Boyd, 81|
|Frankie Montas, 78|
|Steven Matz, 75|
By no means is this the 1927 Yankees, but considering where we started I feel like we’ve got a solid roster that can compete. We got an ace, rotation depth, and some sticks in the lineup.
70 GAMES IN
My decision to hold onto SS Niko Goodrum and 2B Jonathon Schoop proved horrible. They were both batting a buck seventy (.170), so I went to where else….Minnesota. It’s like a damn jailbreak out there:
Twins get: SS Niko Goodrum, RP Kenny Ziemecki Tigers get: SS Jorge Polanco
Pittsburgh is also the Michael Jordan of trading away talented players for nothing, so…
Pirates get: 2B Jonathon Schoop Tigers get: 2B Adam Frazier, RP Michael Feliz
Note: Polanco went on to win the batting title and come in 3rd in the MVP race, while Frazier batted .320. Two things you love to see.
We’re a few games out of first, but we’re in contention for the second Wild Card spot. The rotation was mostly pitching well, but the lineup wasn’t holding up their end of the bargain. I thought about getting rid of Marte or Rosario to improve our top bats, but the market wasn’t really there. So I figured, let’s take one of the new draft picks and kick C.J. Cron out the door.
A’s get: 1B C.J. Cron, CF A-level prospect Tigers get: 1B Matt Olson (who would go on to tear his calf in late August)
Matz was also pitching to an unacceptable 4.35 ERA. Not on my roster:
Astros get: SP Steven Matz Tigers get: SP Austin Pruitt, RP Brad Peacock
With 3 games left in the regular season, we were tied for the second Wild Card spot. We won one, lost one, and in a classic Detroit Tigers showing, won the final game 10-1 to clinch it. We’re in.
In the Wild Card game, we went on to face the Texas Rangers and Corey Kluber. And I must say, I severely underestimated Kluber’s ability to shut me the hell down.
We went 8 innings recording just two hits, and Kluber pitched into the ninth with 115+ pitches. He took a line drive off the shin early in the game, so it turned into a real Greg Jennings-like performance by the end.
In the second inning, Snell (me) left a fastball over the heart of the plate that got hit a minimum of 700 feet. That made the game 2-0 and was pretty much the only action we got until the ninth.
In said ninth, we got to the pen with a runner on second base and one out. Franmil Reyes was the first player up to face the new arm and piped a line-drive double into the gap. We were now down 2-1.
Gio struck out and we had Eddie Rosario up. Cameron Maybin pinch-running on second. He missed a fastball, and then crushes a hanging slider…
Right at the second baseman. We lost.
It’s not how you want these things to end, and let me tell you the clubhouse after was a quiet one. We all believed we had a chance to do the impossible, but alas it wasn’t meant to be.
I failed the challenge, so I’ll be doing another one soon. But as challenges go, I nominate you guys want to do one and submit it through BTB’s Twitter DMs. Win or lose, I’ll write it up and post it. Happy winning.