Archive for June, 2008

This Week In Bobbleheads, Part 6

Little late this week. Fortunately, there’s still time to get any bobblehead on this list (unless Reading or Tri-City are playing those awful 10:35 AM games that teams occasionally schedule these days).

Monday, June 30
Reading Phillies – Jimmy Rollins (first 2000 18 and over) – The reigning NL MVP, this time for the adults.

Tri- City Valley Cats – Mayor Jerry Jennings (first 1000) – First of a 3 part Mayoral series.

Tuesday, July 1
Long Island Ducks – Bob Ottone (PA announcer) (first 1500) – The voice of the Ducks bobbles behind his podium.

Lowell Spinners – Ted Williams (first 1500) – The Splendid Splinter in an Aviator pose.

York Revolution – Downtown (Mascot) – The stadium must be in downtown York. No clue on the mascot’s nickname.

Wednesday, July 2
Trenton Thunder – Scott Patterson (first 2000) – From the independent leagues to AA to AAA, Patterson finally gets to bobble nirvana.

Thursday, July 3

Friday, July 4
Orange County Flyers – Coal Train (Mascot) – Planes, Trains, Automobiles, and now mascot bobbles.

Saturday, July 5
Colorado Rockies – Matt Holliday (first 10,000) – Over the July 4th weekend, the Rockies give out Hol(l)iday cheer.

Sunday, July 6
Milwaukee Brewers – Barrel Man (Mascot) – No slide attached to this fun giveaway.

List and commentary supplied by Eric from The Only Accurate Bobblehead Collectors Board.

Reason #137 Why I Love OMDQ

Rebel Ridling.

In a post written yesterday, my esteemed writing partner tossed the name Rebel Ridling out in the most casual manner. I picked it up and ran around the room like I’d found a hundred dollar bill.

Now, before I continue to unravel this delightful mystery, I have to point out that Rebel Ridling is also reason #137 why I’m glad I switched from Journalism studies to regular English Lit years ago. Because if I had finished that J-school program, odds are I would have ended up writing dumb lines like Rebel Yell or Rebel’s Assault (curly-haired Cowboy cranker wrinkled my nose, too) for some daily newspaper somewhere.

Instead, I got a fairly useless degree, which set me up perfectly to be a wise-ass blogger. So I can talk to you about Rebel Ridling without resorting to easy puns.

Rebel Ridling is a 6’4″, 230 lb first baseman for the Short A Boise Hawks (Cubs). He hails from tiny Sentinel, Oklahoma, played his college ball at Oklahoma State, and he’s tearing the cover off the ball. He was selected in the 25th round of the 2008 draft with the 761st pick overall, after three seasons in Stillwater. That was just 22 days ago, and already he’s hitting .405 in ten games at Boise.

His sister’s name is Harli.

Now, the name thing is obviously what interested me. But, as I said before, it’s just lazy to go with “Rebel without a Cause” and that ilk. Anyone who’s read S.E. Hinton or seen the film “The Outsiders” is not surprised to find names like Ponyboy, Soda Pop, or Rebel in the state of Oklahoma. Apparently that’s just the way things are done in the Sooner State.

I’m going to keep my fingers crossed and hope Rebel keeps up the power production we’ve seen from him so far. That way, I can legitimately include him in a future edition of The Z-Meter.

The Best and the Brightest: Prospects Who Are Friggin’ Awesome In The Majors, Part 2

Many of Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects continue to see steady playing time in the major leagues; unofficially, I count 40 who have gotten themselves into a game this season.  Some, like Geovany Soto, have performed admirably for long stretches at a time; others, like Homer Bailey, got a shot but proved that they weren’t quite ready for The Show.

In keeping with the tradition started in early May, I’ve run through the game logs of every Top 100 prospect who has played in the majors this season and highlighted the best outings (one caveat: players are only allowed one entry on the list).  The first seven are holdovers from the previous list, in chronologial order; the bottom three are newcomers, the best prospect games since May 9.

Kosuke Fukudome (Cubs): March 31 – 3-3, 2B, HR, 3 RBI
Johnny Cueto (Reds): April 3 – 7 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 0 BB, 10 SO
Jacoby Ellsbury (Red Sox): April 22 – 3-5, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 3 RS
Max Scherzer (Diamondbacks): April 29 – 4.1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 7 SO
Geovany Soto (Cubs): April 30 – 2-4, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 2 RS
Carlos Gomez (Twins): May 7 – 4-6, 2B, 3B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 RS
Joey Votto (Reds): May 7 – 3-4, 3 HR, 4 RBI, 3 RS

Evan Longoria (Rays): May 24 – 2-4, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 2 RS
Jay Bruce (Reds): May 31 – 3-5, HR, RBI, 3 RS, walk-off homerun
Ian Stewart (Rockies): June 13 – 2-3, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 RS

I’m still not sure what will happen with these as the season progresses.  If the interest is there, we might put it to a vote at the end of the year and determine the best Major League Performance By A Top 100 Prospect, or something of that nature (I like the idea of year-end awards, now that I mention it…).  Thoughts and suggestions are welcome.

I Say They Promote Him Now…Can’t Hurt, Can It?

It’s been a good weekend for guys named Collin.  The ones with two L’s, anyway.

Earlier, we learned that Washington Nationals prospect Collin Balester will make his major league debut on Tuesday (fact: he will be the first Collin in major league history, and only the third variant of the name Colin).  Today, points out the torrid start being enjoyed by Collin Cowgill, Arizona’s fifth round pick in this year’s draft. 

An All-American at Kentucky, Cowgill is hitting .267 with six homeruns and 18 runs batted in through his first eleven games with Yakima (Low A-Northwest League).  The latter two numbers lead the league, although his 1.100 OPS is only good for third, trailing Bobby Verbick (1.232) and the incredibly named Rebel Ridling (1.141), both of whom are hitting over .400 and thus have significantly higher on-base-percentages.

If this keeps up, we can expect to see Cowgill listed as one of Arizona’s top prospects next season.

Now Pitching For The Washington Nationals…

I want to give Collin Balester a nickname so badly, I can taste it.  And not just any nickname – it needs to be a GOOD nickname.

Don’t ask me why this needs to happen.  If you do, I won’t have a good answer for you.  It’s just something about the name – Collin Balester – that screams, “Please bestow upon me a shortened name by which the masses may come to know and love me!”

Big Red?  Unoriginal.  Ballin’?  Maybe.  The Baler?  So dumb I can’t even believe I just typed it.  Radio?  Possibly.  The Last Expo?  Has potential.  None of the above?  Likely.

Anyway…Balester, a member of the Montreal Expos’ last draft class prior to the big move to Washington and the 85th ranked player on Baseball America’s preseason prospect list, was named as the Nationals’ starter for Tuesday’s game against the Florida Marlins.  He earned the trip to The Show over the last month, winning five consecutive decisions for AAA Columbus.  Overall, he was 9-3 with a 4.00 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 78.2 innings.

Last season, Balester allowed 12 homeruns in 150.1 innings between AA Harrisburg and AAA Columbus; thus far in 2008, he has allowed 14 homeruns in 78.2 innings.  I’m not sure if this is an area of concern or not – most of the longballs came in May (9 in 33 innings), so maybe it was an isolated issue that has since been corrected.  Just thought I’d mention it in case the bug bites again at the major league level.  He did have some problems of a mechanical nature back at the start of the 2006 season:

“I started out slow. I was trying to work on a couple of mechanical things. They were working out a little bit, but I was leaving the ball up a lot and kind of getting hit around the park,” he said. “Then I started to go back to how I was pitching before and I felt good, I got the right attitude. I went on a roll. The numbers didn’t show, but I felt that I worked hard and got through adversity.”

And while we’re quoting old articles to explain what Balester is all about, how about this one, from the same March 2007 piece as above. 

“I have no fear. I will challenge anybody. I’m not afraid to fail. Failure is not a thing I’m scared of,” Balester said. “I will challenge a guy inside. I’m just not afraid. I pitch to contact. I’m not trying to strike out anybody. I’m trying to keep my pitch count low and go deep into the ballgame and help my team to win.”

Maybe my first thought for a nickname, which I didn’t even bother to include above, wasn’t so bad after all: The Balls (with all due respect to both Ron Burgundy and AJ Daulerio, of course).

Startin’ Off In Style: MLB Debuts Of Baseball’s Top Overall Draft Picks

Tim Beckham, the first overall pick in the amateur draft earlier this month, made his professional debut last night for Tampa Bay’s Rookie-level team in Princeton, West Virginia, going 1-for-4 with an infield single. 

Beckham is the 44th player taken with the first overall choice since 1965; of those, 39 have made it to the major leagues.  Steve Chilcott (1966) and Brien Taylor (1991) missed their windows, for various reasons; the jury is still out on Matthew Bush (2004), who was drafted as a shortstop, converted to pitcher, and is out for the season with arm trouble (good news: he’s only 22); David Price (2007) could be making an impact in Tampa as soon as August or September; and it’s still way too soon to look that far into Beckham’s future.

So if we can’t look into the future, let’s look into the past.  In honor of Beckham’s first day, here are the results enjoyed by each of his 39 predecessors in their major league debuts.

Position Players
2005: Justin Upton, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks
August 2, 2007 – 0-1

2003: Delmon Young, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
August 29, 2006 – 2-3, HR, 2 RBI, 2 RS

2001: Joe Mauer, C, Minnesota Twins
April 5, 2004 – 2-3, 2 BB, 2 RS

2000: Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Florida Marlins
April 18, 2004 – 0-3

1999: Josh Hamilton, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
April 2, 2007 – 0-1

1998: Pat Burrell, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies
May 24, 2000 – 2-5, 3B, 2 RBI

1995: Darin Erstad, OF, Anaheim Angels
June 14, 1996 – 0-4, BB, 3 K

1993: Alex Rodriguez, SS, Seattle Mariners
July 8, 1994 – 0-3

1992: Phil Nevin, 3B, Houston Astros
June 11, 1995 – 1-5, RBI

1990: Chipper Jones, SS, Atlanta Braves
September 11, 1993 – 0-0 (entered game defensively in ninth inning)

1987: Ken Griffey, Jr., OF, Seattle Mariners
April 3, 1989 – 1-3, 2B, RS, BB

1986: Jeff King, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates
June 2, 1989 – 1-1, 2B (led off the 11th inning with a pinch-hit double and scored the go-ahead run)

1985: B.J. Surhoff, SS, Milwaukee Brewers
April 8, 1987 – 1-4

1984: Shawn Abner, OF, New York Mets
September 8, 1987 – 0-1

1982: Shawon Dunston, SS, Chicago Cubs
April 9, 1985 – 1-4

1980: Darryl Strawberry, OF, New York Mets
May 6, 1983 – 0-4, 2 BB, SB, 3 K (walked and scored game-winning run in the bottom of the 13th)

1979: Al Chambers, OF, Seattle Mariners
July 23, 1983 – 2-4, 4 RBI

1978: Bob Horner, 3B, Atlanta Braves
June 16, 1978 – 1-3, HR, 2 RBI, RS (Horner went directly from Arizona State to the major leagues, which makes it unbelievably impressive that he homered in his third big league at-bat)

1977: Harold Baines, 1B, Chicago White Sox
April 10, 1980 – 0-4

1975, 1971: Danny Goodwin, C, California Angels
September 3, 1975 – 0-1 (the designated hitter, Goodwin was replaced by pinch-hitter Bobby Valentine in the fourth inning, with the Angels down 4-2 and two runners in scoring position)

1974: Bill Almon, SS, San Diego Padres
September 2, 1974 – 0-4

1972: Dave Roberts, 3B, San Diego Padres
June 7, 1972 – 0-3, 2 K (originally entered as a defensive replacement in the 11th inning; the game went 18; Roberts made the second out in the bottom of the 18th; he arrived in the major leagues having never played a day in the minors)

1970: Mike Ivie, C, San Diego Padres
September 4, 1971 – 0-1

1969: Jeff Burroughs, OF, Texas Rangers
July 20, 1970 – 0-3

1968: Tim Foli, SS, New York Mets
September 11, 1970 – 0-0 (entered as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning)

1967: Ron Blomberg, 1B, New York Yankees
September 10, 1969 – 0-0, BB

1965: Rick Monday, OF, Kansas City Athletics
September 3, 1966 – 0-3, 2 K

2006: Luke Hochevar, RHP, Kansas City Royals
September 8, 2007 – 3 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 1 BB, 1 K

2002: Bryan Bullington, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
September 18, 2005 – 1.1 IP, 2 R, , 1 H, 1 BB, 1 K

1997: Matt Anderson, RHP, Detroit Tigers
June 25, 1998 – 1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, first major league win

1996: Kris Benson, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
April 9, 1999 – 6 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 3 BB, 3 K, first major league win

1994: Paul Wilson, RHP, New York Mets
April 4, 1996 – 6 IP, 3 R, 6 H, 2 BB, 6 K

1989: Ben McDonald, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
September 6, 1989 – 2.2 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 K

1988: Andy Benes, RHP, San Diego Padres
August 11, 1989 – 6 IP, 6 R, 6 H, 4 BB, 7 K, first major league loss

1983: Tim Belcher, RHP, Minnesota Twins
September 6, 1987 – 2 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 K, first major league win

1981: Mike Moore, RHP, Seattle Mariners
April 11, 1982 – 6.1 IP, 3 R, 7 H, 6 BB, 3 K, first major league loss

1976: Floyd Bannister, LHP, Houston Astros
April 19, 1977 – 1.1 IP, 2 R, 2 H, 1 BB, 2 K, first major league loss

1973: David Clyde, LHP, Texas Rangers
June 27, 1973 – 5 IP, 2 R, 1 H, 7 BB, 8 K, first major league win (Clyde went directly from high school to the majors, a move that is said to have ruined his career; his debut performance might have been better than Horner’s, if only because this was an 18-year-old kid shutting down a major league team to the tune of one hit and eight strikeouts over five innings)

Futures Game Rosters Announced

Last year, I watched the Major League Futures game for the first time. Players like Justin Upton, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Chin-Lung Hu had great games, foreshadowing their eventual debuts in the majors. There’s no doubt I intend to watch again this year, as five six current Z-meter residents have been chosen to particpate.

July 13th in Yankee Stadium is this year’s setting for the Futures Game. The premise pits the U.S. against the world, which may one day be an untenable position for Uncle Sam, but for now it seems to work out.

U.S. Roster

World Roster

I’d love to get someone to talk to me about the selection process, because particpants come from all levels of the minor leagues. By my count, AA is the best-represented level, with 28 players taking the field. AAA sends 13, just seven come from A, and a mere five from Advanced-A.

The Z-meter representatives are Andrew McCutchen, LF for the AAA Indianapolis Indians (Pirates), Elvis Andrus, SS of the AA Frisco Roughriders (Rangers), and the Wondermat(t)s – Mat Gamel and Matt LaPorta from the Huntsville Stars (Brewers). Reading Phillies Pitcher Antonio Bastardo was selected, but will sit due to injury. *update* I missed Fernando Martinez, who is on a rehab assignment. He will be making his second straight appearance in the Futures Game.

Even if you can’t watch the game live, set your DVR or other recording device and watch it later. It’s a rare chance to see so many of these guys in action.