Archive for July 2nd, 2008

Welcome Back, Brian Daubach. We Missed You

When I went to a couple Nashua Pride games over Opening Weekend, I remember making a mental note that the team’s hitting coach was former major league slugger Richie Hebner, who also coached in Boston during my formative years as a fan. 

Maybe a week or two later, I noticed that Pittsburgh was giving away a Hebner bobblehead and thought it might be cool to talk to Hebner and get his thoughts on the honor – you know, since he was practically in my backyard and all. 

Imagine my surprise when the Pride Web site made no mention of Hebner as hitting coach.  In fact, I’m not sure his name was mentioned anywhere; I had to do a little digging to find out that he had accepted a minor league managerial position with the Baltimore Orioles.

So that was kind of uncool.  Hebner had been the big name on Nashua’s coaching staff – former Red Sox outfielder Rick Miller is the manager and longtime Nashua presence John Roper is the pitching coach – and surely would have been an interview subject of this blog at some point.  It was very disappointing.

They say that the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, however, and today, He did the former.  Brian Daubach, the former Red Sox first baseman whose most perplexing and endearing qualities were his world-class mustache and maddeningly inconsistent consistency, ventured into town to lay claim to the position. 

Yeah, that’s right folks: Dauber is the Nashua Pride’s new hitting coach.

I have no strong visual evidence to support my moustache claim – there’s an interview question right there: “Did you, in fact, sport a phenomenal moustache earlier in life?” – but has the skinny on Daubach’s consistency, mostly in the form of his homerun and RBI totals (21, 21, 22, 20 and 73, 76, 71, 78, respectively, from 1999-2002).  It seemed like at least once a month, he’d go through a horrible slump, then rebound and go on a tear.  I could never get over the fact that a player like that could produce such similar numbers, year after year after year after year.

Hopefully Daubach can help the Pride’s offense find its groove: the team currently ranks last in the Can-Am League in team batting average and next-to-last in runs scored.  Whatever happens, though, I’m already looking forward to making my next trip over to Holman Stadium, and that’s the true value of an addition like this.

(Side note: how about a hand for the Pride, which is averaging 1,719 fans per game through 18 games this season?  Rumors of the franchise’s death have sandbagged operations since I worked there in 2003, and this season, the third (?) under local owner John Stabile, was rumored to really really be the last unless fans started coming out in greater numbers.  So far, unless someone’s cooking the books, it appears they are doing just that.  Great job, Pride; great job, Nashua.  Let’s keep this thing afloat for a few more years, shall we?)

The Z-Meter: 7/1/2008

The Z-meter tracks the story arcs of 25 top prospects (or players we just like) on their way to the bigs. It is named after current Washington Nationals star Ryan Zimmerman, who made the transition from anchoring the University of Virginia to starring in MLB in one year.


Evan Longoria, 3B, Durham (AAA) to Tampa Bay Rays (MLB)
Luke Hochevar, RHP, Omaha (AAA) to Kansas City Royals (MLB)

Max Scherzer, RHP, Tucson (AAA) to Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB)

Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Jacksonville (AA) to Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB)
Jay Bruce, OF, Louisville (AAA) to Cincinnati Reds (MLB)
Homer Bailey, RHP, Louisville (AAA) to Cincinnati Reds (MLB)
Ian Stewart, 3B, Colorado Springs (AAA) to Colorado Rockies (MLB)
Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Sacramento (AAA) to Oakland (MLB)
Chase Headley, 3B, Portland (AAA) to San Diego (MLB)
Eulogio De La Cruz, RHP, Albuquerque (AAA) to Marlins (MLB)
Joe Koshansky, 1B, Colorado Springs (AAA) to Rockies (MLB)

Justin Masterson, RHP, Portland (AA) to Boston (MLB)

Jeff Samardzija, RHP, Tennessee (AA) to Iowa (AAA)
Luke Montz, C, Harrisburg (AA) to Columbus (AAA)

Antonio Bastardo, LHP, Clearwater (A) to Reading (AA)
David Price, LHP, Vero Beach (A) to Montgomery (AA)
Matt Weiters, C, Frederick Keys (A) to Bowie Baysox (AA)

Travis Snider, OF, Dunedin (A-Advanced) to New Hampshire (AA)

Ian Gac, 1B, Clinton (A) to Bakersfield (Advanced A)
Jhoulys Chacin, RHP, Asheville (A) to Modesto (Advanced A)

Josh Vitters, 3B, Boise (Short A) to Peoria (A)

Since we’ll all be traveling and BBQing during the upcoming long weekend, I’m just going to go ahead and post the Z-meter early, and hopefully just take the time to update it on Saturday or Sunday to keep us all current.

The dam broke this week. Several players who had been playing well for long stretches got their marching orders. Jeff Samardzija moved up from AA to AAA, as did Catcher Luke Montz. Matt Weiters and David Price made the move from A to double-A. Ian Gac and Jhoulys Chacin parlayed hot first halves in low A into second seasons in high A.

Samardzija is the strangest mover of all. He has lost far more games than he has won. He doesn’t strike a lot of guys out. And yet he advances easily. If anyone has a theory or, better yet, inside info on the improbable rise of The Shark, let me know.

**Update** Here’s an exchange that took place in Paul Sullivan’s Mailbag regarding Shark:

Paul, why did the Cubs promote Jeff Samardzija to Triple-A rather than Donald Veal? Veal has much better numbers at Double-A. Is it the large contract given to Samardzija, or do the Cubs think he has a higher MLB upside? –Randy, Denver

The Cubs say Samardzija earned the promotion due to his recent success in Double-A, and he’s pitched well at Iowa in his first couple of starts. I would imagine they’re getting him ready to come up as a right-handed reliever for the stretch run, and since they gave him a $10 million contract, they probably figure they need to start getting their money’s worth, starting this year. Lots of pressure on Samardzija? Of course. But I think he dealt with a little bit of that on Saturday afternoons in South Bend, so he should be able to handle it.


So, you know… he might not be ready, but we paid him a lot of money, so here goes!

Let’s see who else is hot this week:

The top level. These prospects are in AAA in the prime of their youth, and ready for the call that will change their lives.

Andrew McCutchen, CF – Indianapolis Indians (Pirates): .281 – 47R – 8HR – 33RBI – 21SB – 35BB – .415 SLG – .777 OPS

Matt Tuiasosopo, 3B – Tacoma Rainiers (Mariners): .252 – 41R – 5HR – 36 RBI – 24BB – 1SB – .395 SLG – .730 OPS

Colby Rasmus, LF – Memphis Redbirds (Cardinals): .253 – 53R – 11HR – 36RBI – 12SB – 48BB – .410 SLG – .765 OPS

Nelson Cruz, RF – Oklahoma Redhawks (Rangers): .352 – 71R – 24HR – 69RBI – 18SB – 47BB – .705 SLG – 1.157 OPS

Jeff Samardzija, RHP – Iowa Cubs (Cubs): 2GS – 1W – 1L – 3.00 – 8BB – 9K

Luke Montz, C – Columbus Clippers (Nationals): .000 – 1R – 0HR – 0RBI – 1BB – 0SB – .000 SLG – .125 OPS

These guys also have the potential to skip straight to the majors, but are more likely to get promoted to the top of this meter first.

Kila Kaaihue, 1B – Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Royals): .281 – 36R – 18HR – 48RBI – 54BB – 3SB – .567 SLG – .999 OPS

Austin Jackson, OF – Trenton Thunder (Yankees): .2874 – 47R – 7HR – 46RBI – 41BB – 13SB – .428 SLG – .783 OPS

Jacob McGee, LHP (injured) – Montgomery Biscuits (Rays): 15GS – 6W – 4L – 3.94 ERA – 37BB – 65K

Cameron Maybin, CF – Carolina Mudcats (Marlins): .266 – 54R – 12HR – 36RBI – 42BB – 16SB – .472 SLG – .833 OPS

Wade Davis, RHP – Montgomery Biscuits (Rays): 17GS – 7W – 6L – 4.14 ERA – 39BB – 69K

Elvis Andrus, SS – Frisco RoughRiders (Rangers): .279 – 45R – 1HR – 31RBI – 19BB – 26SB – .337 SLG – .676 OPS

Travis Snider, RF – New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Blue Jays): .273 – 40R – 11HR – 45RBI – 30BB – 1SB – .458 SLG – .816 OPS

Antonio Bastardo, LHP (injured) – Reading Phillies (Phillies): 9GS – 2W – 3L – 3.11 ERA – 29BB – 39K

Matt Wieters, C – Bowie Baysox (Orioles): .214 – 4R – 0HR – 2RBI – 2BB – 0SB – .286 SLG – .598 OPS

Matt LaPorta, CF – Huntsville Stars (Brewers): .294 – 52R – 19HR – 63RBI – 41BB – 2SB – .592 SLG – .999 OPS

Mat Gamel, 3B – Huntsville Stars (Brewers): .379 – 69R – 15HR – 70RBI – 37BB – 5SB – .636 SLG – 1.078 OPS

David Price, LHP – Montgomery Biscuits (Rays): 1GS – 1W – 0L – 3.00 ERA – 4BB – 7K

Fernando Martinez, CF – Binghamton Mets (Mets): .299 – 23R – 4HR – 19RBI – 8BB – 0SB – .443 SLG – .778 OPS

These guys have vast potential but need to work out some kinks in A-ball before they can advance.

Ian Gac, 1B – Bakersfield Blaze (Rangers): .438 – 4R – 1HR – 4RBI – 0BB – 1SB – .750 SLG – 1.152 OPS

Lars Anderson, 1B – Lancaster JetHawks (Red Sox): .304 – 45R – 8HR – 37RBI – 41BB – 0SB – .474 SLG – .877 OPS

Jhoulys Chacin, RHP – Modesto Nuts (Rockies): 1GS – 1W – 0L – 0.00 ERA – 1BB – 8K

Rick Porcello, RHP – Lakeland Flying Tigers (Detroit): 15GS – 4W – 6L – 2.73 ERA – 20BB – 46K

Mike Moustakas, SS – Burlington Bees (Royals): .242 – 39R – 12HR – 41RBI – 21BB – 4SB – .414 SLG – .712 OPS

Prospects chosen from Diamond Cutter’s Top 25, Baseball America, and my own irrational sense of whimsy.