User Interview: Jakaitis

Q&A with noted Hardball Dynasty user Jakaitis

We recently contacted another HBD standout, Jakaitis, to discuss spring training, coach hiring, setting lineups, Ryne Sandberg, Truman Capote, Moneyball and documentary filmmaking.

WIS

Who is Jakaitis?

Jakaitis

Jason Jakaitis; 31; part time lecturer at San Francisco State University, Cinema Dept; part-time contractor.

WIS

How did you learn about whatifsports.com?

Jakaitis

From Bill Simmons, of course.

WIS

Which games of ours have you played?

Jakaitis

Just HBD and simleague baseball, but no SLB for ages.

WIS

Besides sports, what are some of your other interests and hobbies?

Jakaitis

Documentary filmmaking

WIS

Which five people, past or present sit at your dream roundtable discussion?

Jakaitis

Muhammad Ali, Werner Herzog, Greg Maddux, Walter Murch, Truman Capote. That would be hilarious.

WIS

Who are your favorite players of all-time?

Jakaitis

Ryne Sandberg and Tony Gwynn

WIS

Which are your favorite teams of all-time?

Jakaitis

'98 Padres

WIS

Did you play baseball or basketball (or other sports) growing up?

Jakaitis

Lots of wiffle ball and pickup basketball, but nothing organized.

WIS

What is the top sports related thing you want to do in life that you have not yet done?

Jakaitis

Iíve always wanted to see some 'professional' wiffle ball played in those micro-parks they built for the game.

WIS

You have won six Hardball Dynasty Major League World Series, including the first season of Moneyball World. Congratulations. What would you consider your greatest WIS moment?

Jakaitis

Yes, that Moneyball championship felt great because I was dealt a pretty weak hand in S1. To break it down and build up a winner so quickly, in a league with so many owners I respect, was nice.

WIS

In Hardball Dynasty, how do allocate your budget?

Jakaitis

Depends on the situation. Normally I start axing the international budget immediately, drop prospects to 6, and pump that cash into advanced scouting, training and medical. I used to spend a lot on coaches, but I struggle to see the results, so Iíve reined that in. Usually by S4 or 5, my team has no international budget, consistently 6 allocated to prospects, and at least 16 in advanced scouting, medical and training.

WIS

How do you approach off-season events with players such as arbitration and free agency?

Jakaitis

It really depends on the situation. In GAP, I just gave out 4 yr deals for 4 guys age 33-36. That sounds like a totally awful thing to do, but they had good makeup and the window for another title was going to be open for just a little longer, so I bit the bullet. As for arbitration, Iím superstitious and offer the player what he wants every time. I rarely sign Free Agents; usually just setup Bs and defensive Cs.

WIS

What is your general strategy for hiring/re-hiring coaches?

Jakaitis

Nothing unique. I try to keep as many as possible. I value discipline. I donít see the value in strategy. I used to always get the 100 patience guys, but again I havenít seen any noteworthy results. I tend to move guys from other positions and levels pretty frequently. I pick guys I want and bid a lot immediately, hoping people will lose interest trying to bid up.

WIS

How do you finalize rosters at each level? What role does spring training play in your decision making?

Jakaitis

My team is set before ST. I just try not to get anybody hurt. I play all the youngsters and get anyone under 27 years old some ABs for the boost.

WIS

What is your basic strategy for setting your starting lineups and pitching rotation?

Jakaitis

4 man rotations with a deep bullpen. Lineups are pretty standard, I used to write off baserunning altogether but now that theyíve tweaked the engine and people are stealing like mad, it makes sense to get a Willie Wilson in the top spot, or maybe 9th.

WIS

What do you believe are the most important individual player ratings for performance?

Jakaitis

For hitters, power and eye - more so now than ever, it seems. With Ks up across the league, it seems like the guys with low contact and eye are getting butchered. Thatís been my experience, anyway. For pitchers, Iím less enamored with control as I used to be. If a pitcher has 3 or 4 70+ pitches and no dead wood pitches, he can be good despite control issues.

WIS

How do you approach in-season player events like the draft, international prospects, waivers and promotions/demotions?

Jakaitis

I'm never a part of international bidding. As for the draft, I rank about 100 guys in an excel spreadsheet and then arrange them. I usually push the DHs to the front because Iíve had the best luck getting great bats like those at my slot late in the draft. I avoid pitchers because even a minor misreading of their ratings can be fatal. I donít do a lot of promoting or demoting. To be honest, I rarely have rookies coming up and making a difference. I donít have the patience for their maturation, and it seems like they rarely hit their projections. I think theyíre more valuable as trade bait. Very, very rarely does a player I draft make it to the bigs; I deal everyone away for ML ready talent.

WIS

Do you think your strategy will be conducive to building a multi-season dynasty? Or, do you feel that your team may be great for a couple seasons, but then must rebuild?

Jakaitis

Weíre going to find out with this Atlanta team in Moneyball. I mortgaged the farm to get a competitive ML team, but I wasnít reckless. Now in S2 Iíve got two Type As and 16 Col/HS scouting so I should do all right. Itís hard to build a deep franchise this way, thatís for sure, but that doesnít mean you canít keep bringing in new players and keep the thing going. Iíve won the GAP NL West 7 years running. My minors are full of tryout camp guys and a handful of studs. Itís not as well rounded as some franchises, but it works for me.

WIS

Do you have any favorite players from any of your HBD teams?

Jakaitis

1B Ivan Bechler and C Al Alvarez were the heart and soul of my first HBD team, the Giants. They took me to game 7 of the WS in my first season. Theyíve both got MVP awards and now theyíre aging and falling apart and it actually makes me kind of sad. I know, itís totally weird.

WIS

How much time do you spend on your Hardball Dynasty teams? How much do you think is necessary to be competitive?

Jakaitis

I spend too much time. I spend half an hour every morning, then pop in around noon for fifteen minutes, and usually sit with them at the pm2 session for 45 minutes. On days with drafts or trade madness, I can blow three or four hours. I donít think you need to spend that long; I took on four teams and am way too anal (though my minor league staffs still seem to be perpetually falling apart). With one team, it shouldnít be difficult to keep up with the league.

WIS

Who are the users you respect the most?

Jakaitis

hwaters397 always fields a competitive team; train has built a juggernaut in GAP and has kept the thing going through a couple generations of stars; new has a Durham team in Coop that is as loaded as any team Iíve seen in my leagues; bribar is the commish in GAP Ė runs a tight ship and his StL team is a thing of beauty: every single level is full of prospects and his minor league teams dominate year in year out; chadw09 is always competitive and adds insight to his leagues; thaceo and hatt11 have done great blog work in the past and made their leagues more fun (and hatt11 was the one guy to beat me for a division title so far!); I donít know everybody in Moneyball, but they all seem pretty great.

WIS

What is your favorite aspect of HBD?

Jakaitis

My favorite single moment is looking at a new club. Itís like Christmas. I look position by position, player by player, and take notes on my impressions. Then the bedlam once budgets are in. I love that.

WIS

What is your least favorite aspect of Hardball Dynasty? As it is still a relatively new game, if you could change three things about HBD, what would they be?

Jakaitis

Diversify the player archtypes, especially in the draft. It seems like draft after draft, itís the same crop of crap CF and 3Bs, stud SSs, and a few good arms. Mix it up. And make it so I can purchase tryout pitches in a six-pack. Buying those guys is a pain. And maybe sign coaches to long-term deals, but make it more lucrative to do. And whatever you did to the engine that spawned the waves of Bob Gibson and Sandy Koufaxes were seeing, just dial it back down a bit. I think the pendulum swung a bit too far back in the other direction. And ease up on the stolen base efficiency.

WIS

If you were in one of our games, which sport would you play? At which position? And, what would you be rated?

Jakaitis

Iíd probably be a left-handed shortstop.

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