Archive for April, 2009

We Live for Minor-League Nickname Contests

colbertthumbsup1

A big thumbs-up to google alerts, which hipped me to this most recent new-team-naming contest.

Normal, Illinois – which places second only to Truth or Consequences, NM as a dream place to put a baseball franchise – will be fielding a new team next season. And they want us to help name it.

The top choice right now is “Coal Bears”, which sounds innocuous enough until the team points out that the pronunciation is eerily approximate to the name-sound of Comedy Central personality Stephen Colbert. That’s no accident, apparently.

Team president Steve Malliet says he would welcome the publicity of having a national spokesman such as Colbert, but he says he doesn’t know if Colbert is aware of the contest.

The other choices are the Normal Nutz, the Normal Nighthawks and the Normal CornBelters.

See what Jimmy Fallon started, with his adoption of the Chattanooga Mocs in this year’s NCAA tournament? Now we’ll start seeing teams like the Muncie Lettermans, or the Davenport Matt Lauers, popping up everywhere.

That said, I’m still going to the team’s website and voting for Coal Bears as many times as I can.

[Normalbaseball.com] [mystateline.com]

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So Tell Me, Joe, How Do You Feel About Life In The Minors?

A project unrelated to Bus Leagues brought me to Baseball-Almanac.com tonight.  Since it was my first visit in quite some time, I scrolled down the main page, which led to a section of articles on the minor leagues.  While none of the subject matter immediately stood out, the last quote at the bottom of the page made me laugh out loud. 

Joe Grzenda spent eleven years in the Minor Leagues and when he finally made it up to the Washington Senators he was quoted by “The Sporting News” as saying, “I’d like to stay in baseball long enough to buy a bus, then set fire to it!”

The Senators were actually Grzenda’s fifth major league team and he didn’t play there until eight years after his debut, but I can still appreciate the sentiment.  This was one man for whom the words “bus league” were clearly dirty.

According to both Baseball-Almanac.com and Baseball-Reference.com, Grzenda is still living.  I would love to have a chat with him about those comments from forty years ago…and to find out if the $27,000 Baseball-Almanac reports that he earned from Washington between 1970 and 1971 was enough coin to get that bus.

The Z-Meter: 4/22/2009 – Another Z Makes the Nats

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.

Promoted:

Jordan Zimmermann: Syracuse Chiefs (AAA) to Washington Nationals (MLB)

Our first promotion of the season came pretty early, as the woeful Nats called phenom Jordan Zimmermann up to the bigs in an attempt to improve their rotation. He lost his first game, but that’s not unexpected. I’ll be replacing him with someone I should have added in the first place: OMDQ discovery Collin Cowgill. He’s in High-A, so that should help restore a little balance to our AAA-heavy early list. 

One major change from last year is that Antonio Bastardo seems to have made a move from the starting rotation to the bullpen at Reading. He’s appeared in three games with no starts and pitched 6.1 innings. Jhoulys Chacin is having a counterintuitive start to his season in Tulsa; his ERA in the one game he’s won was nearing 4.00, and he’s lost two games where his ERA is closer to 1.00. He struck out none in his most recent game, so that’s not a good trend.

In other news, we’re considering changing Shooter Hunt’s nickname to Walker Hunt. We may also have to start calling Stephen Strasburg a bully. The college returnee has eight wins and 121 Ks so far. Leave the poor college kids alone, Steve!


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

Andrew McCutchen, CF – Indianapolis Indians (Pirates): .273 AVG – 10R – 0HR – 1RBI – 4BB – 3SB – .500 SLG – .833 OPS

Wade Davis, RHP – Durham Bulls (Rays): 2 Games – 0W – 0L – 1.13 ERA – 5BB – 9K

Kila Kaaihue, 1B – .200 – 7 R – 3 HR – 10 RBI – 12 BB – 0 SB – .444 SLG – .800 OPS

Mat Gamel, 3B – Nashville Sounds (Brewers): .439 AVG – 12 R – 4 HR – 15 RBI – 7 BB – 8 SB – .878 SLG – 1.388 OPS

Matt LaPorta, CF – Columbus Clippers (Indians): .325 – 10 R – 3 HR – 8 RBI – 1 BB – 0 SB – .675 SLG – 1.047 OPS

Alcides Escobar, SS – Nashville Sounds (Brewers): .275 – 7 R – 1 HR – 5 RBI – 5 BB – 5 SB – .373 SLG – .712 OPS

Carlos Carrasco, RHP – Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (Phillies): 2 Starts – 0 W – 0 L – 1.50 ERA – 0 BB – 10 K

Ramiro Pena, SS – Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees: .182 – 1 R – 0 HR – 0 RBI – 2 BB – 0 SB – .182 SLG – .490 OPS

Matt Wieters, C – Norfolk Tides (Orioles): .292 AVG – 2 R – 1 HR – 1 RBI – 5 BB – 0 SB – .417 SLG – .830 OPS

Fernando Martinez, CF – Buffalo Bisons (Mets): .277 AVG – 5 R – 1 HR – 3 RBI – 3 BB – 0 SB – .532 SLG – .865 OPS

Daniel Bard, RHP – Pawtucket Red Sox (Red Sox): 5 Games – 3 SV – 1.13 ERA – 3 BB – 13 K

Austin Jackson, OF – Scranton Wilkes-Barre (Yankees): .480 – 6 R – 0 HR – 6 RBI – 5 BB – 3 SB – .560 SLG – 1.123 OPS


These guys also have the potential to skip straight to the majors, but may get promoted to AAA first.

Antonio Bastardo, LHP – Reading Phillies (Phillies): 1 Start – 1 W – 0 L – 0.00 ERA – 1 BB – 1 K

Lars Anderson, 1B – Portland SeaDogs (Red Sox): .283 AVG – 6 R – 1 HR – 6 RBI – 3 BB – 0 SB – .413 SLG – .733 OPS

Jhoulys Chacin, RHP – Tulsa Drillers (Rockies): 3 Starts – 1 W – 2 L – 2.3 ERA – 4 BB – 8 K

Carlos Santana, C – Akron Aeros (Indians): .229 AVG – 7 R – 4 HR – 14 RBI – 7 BB – 0 SB – .600 SLG – .941 OPS

Justin Smoak, 1B – Frisco RoughRiders (Rangers): .250 AVG – 4 R – 1 HR – 7 RBI – 10 BB – 0 SB – .364 SLG – .745 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): .167 AVG  – 3 R – 1 HR – 6 RBI – 4 BB – 0 SB – .306 SLG – .556 OPS

Mike Moustakas, SS – Wilmington Blue Rocks (Royals): .267 AVG – 11 R – 2 HR – 11 RBI – 3 BB – 0 SB – .467 SLG – .779 OPS

Madison Bumgarner, LHP – San Jose Giants (Giants): 2 Starts – 2 W – 0 L – 0.00 ERA – 2 BB – 9 K

Michel Inoa, RHP – not assigned yet (Athletics): Still haven’t seen any news on where this kid will start his pro career. He’s only 16, so we have to figure he’ll be brought along slowly.

Che-Hsuan Lin, OF – Salem Red Sox: .161 AVG – 4 R – 0 HR – 1 RBI – 4 BB – 2 SB – .226 SLG – .496 OPS

Josh Vitters, 3B – Peoria Chiefs (Cubs): .423 AVG – 5 R – 0 HR – 4 RBI – 0 BB – 0 SB – .538 SLG – 1.003 OPS

Shooter Hunt, RHP – Beloit Snappers (Twins): 2 Start – 0 W – 0 L – 6.43 ERA – 11 BB – 6 K

Collin Cowgill, OF – Visalia Rawhide (Diamondbacks): .293 AVG – 12 R – 3 HR – 10 RBI – 10 BB – 2 SB – .634 SLG – 1.097 OPS


NCAA: Only used if a prospect in college shows really, truly, immensely, hugely inescapable potential.

Stephen Strasburg, RHP – San Diego State: 8 Starts – 8W – 0L – 1.28 ERA – 12 BB – 121 K


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

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Now Pitching For The Washington Nationals…

Off to a 1-10 start, the Washington Nationals shook things up over the weekend, optioning two players (including Josh Bard, who very nearly earned a job as the Red Sox backup catcher this spring) and designating two others for assignment.  Sounds like a desperate response to a hopeless situation, right?

Not completely.

Four pitchers were or will be recalled from Triple-A Syracuse, including – drumroll please – Jordan Zimmermann, the team’s second-round pick (out of Wisconsin-Stevens Point)  in the 2007 draft.  A 22-year-old righthander who was the only National on Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects list, he entered the season with a career 15-5 record, 2.74 ERA, and 205 strikeouts in 187 innings.

Zimmermann is making his major league debut as we speak against Derek Lowe and the Atlanta Braves.  He pitched three scoreless innings before allowing two runs in the fourth when Chipper Jones tripled and Matt Diaz homered.  He got out of the inning by striking out fellow phenom Jordan Schafer (ironically, Schafer was directly below Zimmermann on the 2009 list).  The score is currently 2-2 in the top of the fifth.

I’m heading down to Baltimore this summer to see the Orioles play the Nationals.  Camden Yards was initially the main draw, but I have to say that now, I’m just waiting until we get close enough to start figuring out the rotation.  Between Zimmermann and Matt Wieters, it could be a good day.

This Week in Bobbleheads Week 3

Baseball fever is officially in regular season mode.  2 new venues have debuted for MLB here in NY, minor league reports are starting to mount and promotional schedules continue to mount.  Here’s this week’s report on the still prosperous hobby:

Chicago Cubs 4/21/09 Carlos Zambrano “No-Hitter” Statue – First 10,000 fans – Z’s feat is especially amazing considering this was to be a “road game” in a neutral site due to a hurricane in Texas, yet more like a home game since the Cubbies next door neighbors are in Milwaukee.

Mississippi Braves 4/21/09 Tim Hudson – First 500 fans – Leftovers of the Atlanta ’08 giveaway.

San Francisco Giants 4/21/09 Manny Pacquiao – The Filipino boxer’s figure is in conjunction with Filipino Heritage Night, along with it being close to his next boxing tangle.

Mississippi Braves 4/22/09 Bobby Cox – First 500 fans – Another A-Braves leftover to give to M-Brave fans.

Arizona Diamondbacks 4/25/09 Justin Upton – First 25,000 fans – This will be J-Up’s first MLB uni bobble following Norfolk’s ’08 representation in a hometown heroes series.

Cleveland Indians 4/25/09 Kerry Wood – The only problem with this bobblehead is his beard isn’t thick enough.

Fans of this blog, the hobby and baseball are going to love this Vanity Fair article regarding the economics of baseball at http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2009/04/spring-training200904 .  Page 1 has quotes by yours truly on not only the hobby, but the cancer that is Alex Rodriguez in the Yankees clubhouse.  Continue to follow the schedule of bobbleheads past, present and future at http://thetruebobbleheadboard.yuku.com/

See ya next week

Diamondbacks Getting Naughty

visaliarawhide

I thought about making this entry the second in my “I’m an observant fellow” series, since I seem to occasionally miss important developments. However, this time, I think it was an issue of timing rather than oversight.

Allow me to explain.

Every season, I update the list of affiliates for each MLB team on our MiLB Teams page. Generally, I head over to each team’s page, where they have a list of affiliates. Seems I did that a bit too early this season, as I completely missed two developments in the Diamondbacks’ farm system.

First of all, and perhaps least forgivable, the Dbacks have moved their Triple-A affiliate from Tucson, where they were called the Sidewinders, to Reno, where they are the Aces and have a brand-new stadium. Seems like something I should have known already, but it’s a big system. Fair cup, bygones. What matters is that I tried.

When I was checking out the revamped Dbacks website, I also noticed that their High-A team had changed. While the Oaks remained in Visalia, CA, they changed their name to the Visalia Rawhide.

So, we have gambling and S&M taking their rightful places in the Bus Leagues. About time, I say. I can’t wait to see what the concourse entertainment options are at these parks. Will they be 18-and-over only?

I hope the Rawhide find a way to have the national anthem (and the Rawhide TV theme) sung by a Blue Brothers cover band. That would be fantastic.