Pre-Spring Training Round Up

Monday, March 3rd, 2042
As teams around the UFBA get ready to head into Spring Training, Middle Earth Sports Network (MESN) reporters are scouting each one to dig up the stories that will shape the upcoming season. It’s been a long offseason, filled with trades and blockbuster free agent signings. The look of many teams will be very different from their 2041 versions, not to mention the renaming and shakeup of two teams in the SFL.

What Happend? News, Free Agent Signings and Trades
To kick off the interim between the crowning of the Isengard Raiders as UFBA champs and the start of 2042 Spring Training, Lilith Blackbark, an almost certain Hall of Fame member, retired after a stellar career of 23 years. The 6-time All-Star who won numerous awards, including several Shadowfax Stolen Base Awards, 3 Legolas Fielder Awards and the 2025 Aragorn MVP Award, finished with a career .296 average with 2730 hits, 463 doubles, 2189 RBI and 624 stolen bases.

Blackbark’s retirement almost overshadowed those of other potential Hall of Famers, including Baztrak the Vague, Galugol Eliolas, Marin Goldtearer and Donethirion Earathien.

This was one of the most active periods of trading in a long time, and on December 2, the Rivendell Royals made some big deals with SFL teams.

First, they sold 20-year-old minor league catcher Braknuk Nosebasher and 18-year-old minor league center fielder Blutruk the Ripper to the Mos Eisley Wookies (soon to become the Karak Kadrin Slayers), getting $17,550,000 in cash in return. Then, they made a similar deal with the Diagon Alley Wizards, getting $18 million in cash in return for 23-year-old minor league starting pitcher Ghugdash Dryadslasher, 24-year-old minor league center fielder Gadi Conarroe, 24-year-old minor league third baseman Aglanthol the Tall, 37-year-old minor league first baseman Kolak Koboldchoker and 26-year-old minor league first baseman Pyeong-chu Tsulukidze.

On that same day, the Royals traded 31-year-old starting pitcher Caradas Shushud, 23-year-old shortstop Amaranthae Ithruen, 25-year-old minor league catcher Irwah Hedgeworth and 22-year-old minor league reliever Rowan Trample to the Intergalactic Hitchhikers, getting 25-year-old right fielder Dejathor Perom and 22-year-old starting pitcher Gianfrancesco Dridersmasher in return. Shushud would later be traded by the Hitchhikers to Old Forest on December 16 in a deal that sent 37-year-old reliever Tigan Oreshaker to Intergalactic. Oreshaker would then be shipped to the Royals on January 13 along with $2 million for 27-year-old reliever Framer Gemli.

Rivendell turned around on December 16 and traded Dridersmasher, along with 21-year-old minor league starting pitcher Jima Mayora, 20-year-old minor league catcher Saradas Bramblebush and 37-year-old third baseman Pansy Dogwood to the Andelain Giants, getting 28-year-old starting pitcher Arielimnda Elvelas and 34-year-old closer Isor Arkenston in return.

On December 5, the Old Forest Merry Fellows traded 31-year-old left fielder Gandeaden Elreodriel to the Ravenhill Darkwings, getting 29-year-old closer Atanarat Anárà in return. Also on that day, the Merry Fellows traded 24-year-old shortstop Goraund Karnoupakis to the Land of Oz Munchkins, getting 23-year-old left fielder Kurg Gnomedragger in return.

Old Forest was also part of the journey of Ruzrath the Atrocious as he went from the SFL Gallifrey Time Lords to the Merry Fellows on December 5, then on December 30 was traded along with 18-year-old minor league starting pitcher Larrel Pholont, 21-year-old minor league starting pitcher Il-gyung Powys and $9 million in cash to the Star Fleet Academy Cadets (Old Forest getting 27-year-old starting pitcher Arweden the Cow-catcher in return), and finally Star Fleet sent him to Isengard along with 23-year-old reliever Snubruh Nailslobberer. The Raiders traded 36-year-old reliever (and possible Hall of Famer) Edmund Boroden, 18-year-old minor league catcher Mothrys Burrato and 20-year-old minor league reliever Bulbo Banks in return.

In a big trade on December 9, the Merry Fellows traded 31-year-old first baseman Diador Elrailbo and 19-year-old minor league third baseman Guruvayur Livertrembler to the Mos Eisley Wookies, getting 24-year-old first baseman Justin Armortearer and 23-year-old shortstop Romochka Carnicas in return.

On January 6, Old Forest re-traded Arweden the Cow-catcher and Atanarat Anárà along with 20-year-old minor league starting pitcher Jean-Nicolas McMinn to the Moria Miners, getting 25-year-old starting pitcher Agrunk Nosethrower in return.

Future Hall of Fame pitcher, Bulbo Moss got traded this offseason, going from Old Forest to Bucklebury on February 17.

And that’s just scratching the surface of all the trades!

On January 1, the Moria Miners signed SP Meriamli Rockcrusher to a 5-year contract worth a total of $164 million.

On January 6, the Bree Cheese signed RF Fastolph Baggins to a 4-year contract worth a total of $115.2 million.

On January 15, the Numenor Kings signed SP Zoello Rödinger to a 6-year contract worth a total of $121.7 million. The Kings later traded him to Old Forest in exchange for 25-year-old catcher David Millstone and 26-year-old minor league reliever Adgug the Ugly.

The Kings made another big signing on January 21, getting LF Bowman Millstone for a 5-year deal worth $110 million.

Dagorlad paid $134.2 million for a 7-year deal with SP Born Lightfoot who came out of the independent leagues as a big find by Disaster scouts.

Misty Mountain got in on the action on February 2nd, signing SP Crispus the Dapper to a 6-year contract worth a total of $132 million.

Who’s left in the free agent pool?
Along with the typical number of older players trying to grab just one more year at the end of their careers, there are a couple of surprising names that have been left unsigned.

Katie Simbelmyne, 33, is a decent contact hitter and left fielder who is a big threat on the basepaths. She stole 48 bases each of the last two seasons, and she topped the league with 13 triples last year. Rumors are swirling that Isengard is interested in her, but will she sign in time to make it to camp?

Third baseman Grudrak the Sneaky, 33, is looking for a home after a disappointing year with Isengard. The 2-time Legolas Fielder winner is considered one of the best defensive players in the league, but his power is tailing off, and he has never hit for average.

Power-hitting catcher, Kate Brockhouse, 33, is also a twice-awarded Legolas Fielder. She was a backup catcher for Grey Havens in the 30’s, and it looks like the Stars might be interested in bringing her back.

Winners and Losers in the Offseason
While it’s hard to say at this point which team came out on top in their wheelings and dealings, if we look at a simple metric of WAR gained or lost compared to the end of 2041, we can see some trends in which teams at least tried to improve themselves.

At the top of the list is Grey Havens. The Stars lost 20 players due to free agency or retirement, but only a couple of them had any WAR score impact. RF Elegrina Elvarara (1.5 WAR) retired. 2B Jaime Roman (2.1 WAR) and SP Nol the Tearer (2.7 WAR) were traded, but Roman’s value was offset by RP Born Mosseater (1.3 WAR), and Nol the Tearer’s by C Pimor Saine (3.5 WAR). And they only got Nol the Tearer in December, claiming him off waivers from Rivendell before trading him to Numenor. Meanwhile, Grey Havens picked up SS Ferdinand Roper (1.7 WAR) and 3B Sim Hill (1.9 WAR) as free agents and received SP Eallyrl Toralynnsyr (4.9 WAR), SP Christine Stonemould (1.4 WAR) and RF Brian Tunnelcutter (1.3 WAR) in trades with Dol Guldur. All-in-all, it was a 13.4 point gain in WAR.

Bucklebury finished next with a 12.2 point gain. The Fairies lost RF Erling Millstone (1.8 WAR) to free agency, but they picked up SP Bulbo Moss (4.1 WAR) in a trade with Old Forest, SP Gal Throatgobbler (3.6 WAR) as a free agent and SS Annun Elolinde (3.5 WAR) in a trade with the Andelain Giants.

Rivendell’s biggest loss was trading SP Rognar Moonbane (4.6 WAR) to Serenity Valley, but Moonbane was a pass-through, as they had acquired him via trade with Minas Tirith just a week earlier. Meanwhile, the Royals added 3B Tigan Hammerscarer (2.8 WAR) as a free agent, SP Grailas Limke (2.9 WAR) from Serenity Valley, SP Ariellimnda Elvelas (3.9 WAR) from Andelain, and the big catch, RF Dejathor Perom (5.0 WAR) from the Intergalactic Hitchhikers.

Lake Town didn’t do a lot this offseason, but they limited their main losses to SS Wugush Legmasher (3.3 WAR) in a trade with Serenity Valley, gaining SP Gorbadauc Bramble (5.0 WAR) in a trade with Moria. The Legmasher trade brought SP Bezzi Ghiyath (2.6 WAR) to the Archers from the Fireflies.

Rounding out the top 5, the Minas Ithil Wyrms gained SP Higak the Odiferous (3.5 WAR) via free agency while losing LF Bowman Millstone (1.7 WAR) to it.

On the bottom end of the list, Dol Guldur appears to have fared the worst, losing 10.9 points of WAR while gaining just 0.6. The trade of SP Eallyrl Toralynnsyr (4.9 WAR)_ to Grey Havens for a pair of young prospects, a draft pick, and some cash may turn out to have been the right move by the Dragons, but the immediate reaction from fans was not good.

Just above the Dragons sits the Dunharrow Devils, who gained RP Kirg Gnollscarer (0.0 WAR) as their only acquisition, while losing 8.8 points in the retirment of 1B Martin Goldtearer (3.2 WAR) and the loss to free agency of SP Higak the Odiferous (3.5 WAR) and C Hob Sandybanks (1.8 WAR), among others.

Bree made some good free agent signings in RF Fastolph Baggins (3.5 WAR) and SP Geagast the Thinker (1.4 WAR), but they lost SP Meriamli Rockcrusher (6.1 WAR), SP Ullor Eowathien (2.5 WAR) and LF Katie Simbelmyne (2.2 WAR) to free agency. Even Baggins was a wash, as he was picked up after declaring free agency.

The Prospect Pipeline
Minas Morgul has the #1 prospect in the pipeline. Xandra Thornflower is a new center fielder and set to take on the mantle of the Dryads that have been at the forefront of Slayer history following the retirement of Lilith Blackbark. Thornflower, 19, is a switch-hitter with tremendous speed. Her ability to spray line drives all over the field make her a potential batting champion in the near future.

Number 2 is Lothlorien catcher Elluin Engwyn. The 18-year-old elf possesses outstanding contact ability that should translate into a high batting average. Once he fully develops, he should have tremendous power and could be among the league leaders in homeruns. On top of that, he has shown that he can play his position at an elite level.

Bywater SS Celomli Glarion, 23, was a scouting discovery in 2035 and has spent the last few years moving up the prospect rankings. He got his shot with the Bywater organization in 2039 at single-A Hobbiton and was underwhelming. However, in 2040 he showed greater potential and was moved up to AA Withywindle during the season. Last season at Withywindle, he regressed a bit, only hitting .219 with 9 HR and 54 RBI in 111 games, but scouts say that the ball explodes off his bat. He is a real value at defense with his strong arm and plentiful range, and he can impact a game with his wheels on the basepaths.

At #4 is Numenor SS Vormina Morealob, 20. Morealob was the #1 pick overall in the 2039 draft, selected by the Kings and named #6 prospect in 2040. She has spent the last 3 seasons at the single-A Hyarastorni Sheep where she gets high marks for her plate coverage, particularly the ability to find the opposite field. She shows tremendous raw power and profiles to be an above average defensive infielder. Though #4 on the list, she’s not expected to see major league action until 2044.

Finally, in the top 5 we have 2B Phaimina Srinshee, 19, currently training with the Dead Marshes AA affiliate, the Entwash Goblins. She was the 2nd overall pick in the 2039 draft, the first selection for the Uruk-hai that year. The last three seasons, Phaimina has toiled for the single-A Langflood Lightning, where she hit .250 last season in 117 games. Scouts say she has a sweet swing and a chance to hit for a high average with solid power. She has impressive speed, runs the bases very aggressively, and can drop a bunt single on occasion. Once she fully develops, she should have enough to be an above average power hitter. She projects to arrive in the majors in 2043.

Other Bits and Bobs
Beside all the trading and the free agent signing and the Spring Training fever, there are new managers for some teams, a pair of SFL franchises renamed and moved to different divisions, Hall of Fame voting under way, and a hundred other stories to be told. Watch for team-by-team breakdowns all during the Spring as we prepare for 2042–the 40th season of Tolkien Baseball.