Monday, January 19, 2009

The Sentinal Sitdown - Hartjh14

When you hear names like Mark Cuban and George Steinbrenner good and bad thoughts flood your head. Though you might disagree with what they say and do never forget that they have both the leagues and their team’s best interests at heart. Certainly the same can be said of Hartjh14. Hart has many teams and is never shy about sharing his opinion. In Hometown he is the owner of the Nashville Hillbillies. A four time division winner and a two time World Series winner, Hart has an excellent argument to having the most legit dynasty in Hometown. Hart is a combined 619 – 353 in regular season play in Hometown and has created his dynasty based on his excellent pitching. During his run his success has been because of his pitching, sure the hitting is there but it is the overwhelming talent that he has amassed in his pitching staff that gave him back to back championships. Last season the Hillbillies still led the league in batting average at 290. By no means is the hitting of the Hillbillies a major flaw. Last season the Hillbillies had a team ERA of 3.51. That was second best in the league, only the Florida Storm in the N.L. had a better team ERA at 3.44. However don’t forget that the Hillbillies pitchers are having to face a DH. They are fifty points better than the next closest A.L. team. Right now Hart has a starting rotation of Timo Redman (Season 6 Cy Young Winner) 22-0 1.37 ERA, Rafeal Viriato 19-4 2.85 ERA, Mendy Knott 14-12 3.41 ERA, Todd Dodd 10-9 3.99 ERA and Bernard Blue 12-4 5.51 ERA. The Hillbillies will always go as far as their pitching takes them. Season 7 will have new challenges for Hart as he is no longer the odds on favourite every year to dominate the A.L. like in years past. Toronto is coming off it’s first World Series victory and defeated the Hillbillies in a classic ALCS. Nashville has players who aren’t getting any younger and the window to compete will stay open for years and years to come but the chance to legitimately compete for a championship every year might be in doubt. Tough decisions will likely have to be made in the upcoming seasons. Hart is competent enough to trade away the assets that he no longer needs for other assets ie. the Mendy Knott trade and the Jermaine Good trade. Love him or hate him it is undeniable that Hart is a premier owner in Hometown. Personally there have been subjects that I’ve disagreed with him on but I have always liked adn respected the fact that he cares so much about the league and is invested in its long term success. And that more than anything should be commended.

Q. Last Season you were involved in a classic ALCS, how upset were you that the 3 peat was just a little out of reach?
A. I was a little disappointed obviously, but gman has a great team too. I believe I had the best team last season and I believe I'll be the team to beat this season, but anything can happen in the playoffs. I have a lot of faith in the team I've built and I'm confident that they will bounce back.

Q. While looking over your team’s of the past and last years statistics I was very surprised to see that you led the league in batting average. I was well aware of your depth at pitching but I was surprised to see all the talent you have hitting. You led the A.L. in both ERA and batting average and yet didn’t win it all, is there room for improvement? And if so how?
A. Hopefully there's room for improvement in performance, yes. That's a tough question. I think a lot of my hitters actually underperformed last year. While they were certainly good last year as a group, there was a dropoff (especially in power) that I'm hoping was a fluke. It would be hard to assemble more talent - most people aren't in a hurry to make my team better.

Q. Every year on any team there is often an under performer. Did you have an under performer that needs to be better for you to compete for championships? Perhaps Bernard Blue?
A. As I mentioned, I think most of my hitters underperformed. From the pitching side, Blue's talent ratings certainly indicate there is a better pitcher waiting to come out. He did go 12-4, but it wasn't pretty and I did not allow him to pitch in the postseason as a result. he will be given another shot at the rotation, but the leash will be short. Chad Grilli and Todd Dodd had off years by their standards as well.

Q. What are your immediate plans for the offseason? What are you looking for? What are you looking to move?
A. I am loaded with guys that could be #1 or #2 starters for most teams in the league. I'd like to move 1 or 2 of those guys for some minor league pitching prospects or young, ML ready players. That may be possible or it amy not be. If not, I'll likely sit tight for now and see how the season develops.

Q. Even though Toronto has improved and become your major competition you still always have to compete against both Charleston and Austin, does the talent in your division ever worry you?A. Worry? No. But they both have a lot of talent that could knock me out of first place or even the playoffs if things fell right. I can't worry about what the other teams do, I can only worry about my moves. I enjoy the challenge of competing with them and Little Rock isn't far behind.

Q. Your on the record as complimenting Gman and acknowledging the talent he has put together in Toronto, what do you have to do to keep competing against that team specifically or do you just try to improve your team and not worry about the competition?
A. Honestly, I think he hurt his team in the long run by calling up the pitchers he did, so even though he won this year, I think it helps me stay closer than I would have been able to had he let them develop one more year. I don't know that there's a lot I can do to improve the talent on this team. Other than SS, I feel like I have top notch offensive and defensive guys there and my pitching is great. Someone did a study based purely on ratings in the forum and this team was a top 10 talent out of ALL the worlds. For me it's more about keeping the team good than it is actually improving the talent level.

Q. You are definitely one of the most vocal owners in the league, do you see yourself as a commissioner?
A. No. I don't want the job. It sucks and even though I'm not happy with every decision gman has made, I wouldn't want his job and the responsibility that goes along with it. I do feel that every owner has not only the right, but the responsibility to speak up when something happens that they aren't comfortable with. There will be some disagreements in the process, but it will also keep everybody informed and aware of what's going on. We are all really commissioners.

Q. Personally I don’t always agree with you but I love that you care about the league and you seem invested in it. Without starting World War three what do you think this league needs to do to stay a competitive successful league?
A. I don't think we need WWIV (III happened last season and I apologize for my role in that). Step one is always getting the best owners possible. A league is only as good as it's weakest link. The best leagues have the best weakest owners. The more people learn about the game, the better off we'll all be whether it's supporting what I believe or not. Better owners make better decisions - or more accurately, they make less questionable decisions. I also think it would help if I found a better way to express my opinions. When something is obvious to me, I don't have a lot of patience when others don't see it. I need to work on that.

Q. Finally predictions for this year, Name the final four, final two and the World Series winner.
A. Nashville will win of course. I'll predict the mild upset in that danka will finally make a LCS. The NL is a crap shoot. I'll take Florida to win the LCS over Arizona, but only because I favor pitching over everything else.

Thanks for doing this and Best of luck this year. And of course before we finish you have to fill out the Sentinal Questionaire. A.My pleasure. I think it's good to do these things every once in awhile.
Q. Whats your name - hartjh14
Q. How old are you - 35 (36 soon)
Q. Fav team - Chicago White Sox
Q. Fav player - Frank Thomas
Q. do you have a franchise model - Yes and no. I believe you need to have either at least 1 elite SP or 3 just below elite level to compete at a championship level for an extended period of time. In the 5 titles I won, 2 were here with Redman, and one was in Pete Rose where I had a stud SP (won the division with a sub .500 record and won the WS - probably my best coaching job ever). The other 2 were a little different. I won Mendoza with a very good SP staff and an awesome, awesome offense in Hartford. The other was a team that Threester built in the now defunct MLHB that by trading away the best SP in the league I was able to win a WS with that franchise with a great offense and solid pitching. Bottom line is that there are a lot of ways to win, but very few if you don't have better than league average SP.